XIV

FROM THE COUNTESS TO COUNT VON JAROMAR.

A Fellowe and his Wife

             Pallazzo Malaspina,
                              December 11.

No, no, no; a hundred times no! How foolish you are ! It does seem to me so extraordinary that you cannot or will not understand. Why should I not see so much of Friedrich Herwegh? He is one of the best and kindest of friends. I can't tell you how much I owe to him. And now that I go to his studio five mornings in the week, I seem to be learning my art by strides. Of course  he means much to me. Why shouldn't he?  Iam the better every hour of the day for his help and guidance ; and he is so entertaining.  Besides, I have found the earnest side of him. He sees not only that I am not a woman of the kind he is accustomed to meet, but that he has been mistaken in his common attitude towards women generally. He told me this himself. He has very fine qualities. Now, why should you wish me to be without such a friend ? I am likely to get nothing but good from him, while I am not at all sure of the benefits of association with the Mallerinis ; and yet you do not warn me against them.

I hate these misunderstandings ; but I am not to blame. No, Odo, I am not in the least anxious to be at home at Christmas. If it is a fine day, we (that is, the Heideloffs, a Mr. Graeme, an English artist, with his young wife, and Herwegh, and I) think of going to St. John Lateran, to hear and see High Mass celebrated by Cardinal Fabrizzi, and then of going by carriage to Marino, and of walking thence to Castel Gandolfo, and then on by the ilex-avenues to Albano, where we shall dine, and then drive home across the Campagna.

Iam looking forward to it immensely. The North seems to me very chilly and gloomy.

But I'll think of you atJaromar, and drink your health in the pleasant vino di Velletri; but only if you are good, and if I have another and pleasanter letter before Christmastide.

I am much perturbed about your letter. I do wish you were not always thinking of me.   Surely we can be husband and wife, and yet  not always fidgeting about each other. I am not a child.

And now, pray, per amor di Dio, do not conclude that I do not love you, or that I am drifting away from you, because I speak what is in my mind. I cannot work when I am perturbed. I have lost my precious morning, and I don't know what Herwegh will say to me.

But I won't scold you any more just now. What glorious sunbathed days we are having. It is probably drip-drip-dripping, or snowing, or freezing, at Jaromar. Ugh ! I shiver.

Your affectionate
                              ILSE.

 

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