I don’t know anything that has ever gone deeper in my memory than those hours spent with Ingo. I have a little snapshot of him I took the misty, sorrowful morning when I bicycled away to Basel and left the Gasthaus zur Krone in its mountain valley. The blessed little lad stands up erect and stiff in the formal German way, and I can see his blue eyes alight with friendliness, and a little bit unhappy because his eccentric American comrade was gomg away and there would be no more afternoons with Till Eulenspiegel on the balcony. I wonder if he thinks of me as often as I do of him? He gave me a glimpse into the innocent heaven of a child’s heart that I can never forget. By now he is approaching sixteen, and I pray that whatever the war may take away from me it will spare me my Ingo. It is strange and sad to recall that his parting present to me was a drawing of a Zeppelin, upon which he toiled manfully all one afternoon. I still have it in my scrapbook.
And I wonder if he ever looks in the old copy of “Hauff’s Maerchen” that I bought for him in Freiburg, and sees the English words that he was to learn how to translate when he should grow older! As I remember them, they ran like this:
For Ingo to learn English will very easy be
If someone is as kind to him as he has been to me;
Plays games with him, reads fairy tales, corrects all his mistakes,
And never laughs too loudly at the blunders that he makes–
Then he will find, as I did, how well two pleasures blend:
To learn a foreign language, and to make a foreign friend.
If I love anybody in the world, I love Ingo. And that is why I cannot get up much enthusiasm for hymns of hate.