Gertrude by Hermann Hesse

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Authors: Hermann Hesse
held out her hand.
    â€œDid you like it?” I asked.
    â€œYes, it was beautiful,” she said. But I saw that she meant more than that, so I said: “You mean the second movement. The others aren’t much.”
    She looked at me again curiously, with as much sagacity as though she were already a mature woman, and said very delicately: “You know it yourself. The first movement is good music; the second movement is broad and sweeping and demands too much from the third. One could also see as you were playing when your heart was in it and when it was not.”
    It pleased me to hear that her lovely, bright eyes had observed me without my knowing it. I already thought on that first evening of our meeting how glorious it would be to spend one’s whole life regarded by those beautiful, candid eyes, and how it would then be impossible ever to think or do ill. And from that evening I knew that my desire for unity and sweet harmony could be satisfied, and that there was someone on earth whose glance and voice made an instant response to every throb of my pulse and every breath in my body.
    She also felt an immediate sympathetic response toward me and right from the beginning was able to be frank and natural with me, without fear of misunderstanding or a breach of confidence. She immediately made friends with me with the speed and ease that is only possible with people who are young and almost unspoiled. Up to that time I had occasionally been attracted to girls, but always—and particularly since my accident—with a shy, wistful and unsure feeling. Now, instead of being just infatuated, I was really in love, and it seemed that a thin, gray veil had fallen from my eyes and that the world lay before me in its original divine light as it does to children, and as it appears to us in our dreams of Paradise.
    At that time, Gertrude was hardly more that twenty years old, as slender and healthy as a strong young tree. She had passed untouched through the usual turbulence of adolescence, following the dictates of her own noble nature like a clearly developing melody. I felt happy to know a person like her in this imperfect world and I could not think of trying to capture her and keep her for myself. I was glad to be permitted to share her happy youth a little and to know from the beginning that I would be included among her close friends.
    During the night after that musical evening I did not fall asleep for a long time. I was not tormented by any fever or feeling of restlessness, but I lay awake and did not wish to sleep because I knew that my springtime had arrived and that after long, wistful, futile wanderings and wintry seasons, my heart was now at rest. My room was filled with the pale glimmer of night. I could see all the goals of life and art lying before me like windswept peaks. I could feel what I had often lost so completely—the harmony and inward rhythm of my life—could feel it in every fiber of my being and trace it back within me to the legendary years of my childhood. And when I wanted to express this dreamlike beauty and sublimity of feeling briefly and call it by a name, then I had to give it the name of Gertrude. That is how I fell asleep when it was already approaching morning, and the next day I awakened refreshed after a long, deep sleep.
    I then reflected on my recent feelings of despair and pride, and I realized what had been lacking. Today nothing tormented me or annoyed me. I again heard the ethereal harmony and experienced my youthful dream of the harmony of the spheres. I again walked and thought and breathed to an inward melody; life again had meaning and I looked forward to a better future. No one noticed the change in me; there was no one close enough.
    Only Teiser, with his childlike simplicity, gave me a friendly tap on the shoulder during rehearsal at the theater and said: “You slept well last night, didn’t you?”
    I thought of something to please him and

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