**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


Dreaming Child
by [?]

A visitor came to Madam Mahler’s house, a friend of her youth, an oldwry seamstress with a flat, brown face and a black wig. They calledher Mamzell Ane, she had in her young days sewn in many great houses. She wore a red bow at the throat, and had many coquettish, maidenlylittle ways and postures with her. But within her sunk bosom she hadalso a greatness of soul, which enabled her to scorn her presentmisery in the memory of that splendour which in the past her eyes hadbeheld. Madam Mahler was a woman of small imagination, she did butreluctantly lend an ear to her friend’s grand, indeterminate soliloquies, and after a while Mamzell Ane turned to little Jens for sympathy. Before the child’s grave attentiveness, her fancy took speed, she called forth and declaimed upon the glory of satin, velvet and brocade, of lofty halls and marble staircases. The lady of the house was adorned for a ball by the light of multitudinous candles, her husband came in to fetch her with a star on his breast, while the carriage and pair waited in the street. There were big weddings in the cathedral, and funerals as well, with all the ladies swaddled in black, like magnificent, tragic columns. The children called their parents Papa and Mamma, they had dolls and hobby-horses to play with, talking parrots in gilt cages, and dogs that were taught to walk on their hind legs. Their mother kissed them, gave them bonbons and pretty pet names. Even in the winter the warm rooms behind the silk curtains were filled with the perfumes of flowers named heliotropes and oleanders, and the chandeliers that hung from the ceiling were themselves made of glass, in the shape of bright flowers and leaves.

The idea of this majestic, radiant world, in the mind of little Jensmerged with that of his own inexplicable isolation in life, into agreat dream, or fantasy. He was so lonely in Madam Mahler’s house because one of the houses of Mamzell Ane’s tales was his real home. In the long days when Madam Mahler stood by her washtub or brought her washing out into town, he fondled and played with the picture of this house and of the people who lived in it, and who loved him so dearly. Mamzell Ane, on her side, noted the effect of her epopee on the child, realized that she had at last found the ideal audience, and was further inspired by the discovery. The relation between the two developed into a kind of love affair: for their happiness, for their very existence, they had become dependent upon one another.

Now Mamzell Ane was a revolutionist,—of her own accord, and out of some primitive, flaming visionary sight within her proud, virginal heart, for she had all her time lived amongst submissive and unreflective people. The meaning and object of existence to her was grandeur, beauty and elegance. For the life of her she would not see them disappear from the earth. But she felt it to be a cruel and scandalous state of things that so many men and women must live and die without these highest human values,—yes, without the very knowledge of them,—that they must be poor, wry and inelegant. She was every day looking forward to that day of justice when the tables were to be turned, and the wronged and oppressed were to enter into their heaven of refinement and gracefulness. All the same, she now took pains not to impart into the soul of the child any of her own bitterness or rebelliousness. For as the intimacy between them grew, she did in her heart acclaim little Jens as legitimate heir to all the magnificence for which she had herself prayed in vain. He was not to fight for it, everything was his by right, and should come to him on its own. Possibly the inspired and experienced old maid noted that the boy had in him no talent for envy or rancour whatever. In their long, happy communications, he accepted Mamzell Ane’s world serenely and without misgiving, in the very manner,—except for the fact that he had not got any of it—of the happy children born within it.