Vienna, den 21. Maerz
My dearest Constanze,
How pleased and happy I am, dear sister, to receive your post of yesterday from Baden-Baden and to learn how thoroughly you are restored to health and vigor. Mama is likewise so relieved to hear your happy news. We are awaiting your return to Vienna this Friday next with sweet anticipation.
Sister, quite early this morning, Herr Meinke-Haibl had some errands to run in the Petersplatz, and he unexpectedly called upon me, his arms filled with a fragrant bouquet—a vibrant herald of spring—red roses!
I fetched some water and placed them in a vase in the parlor.
The adjoining pantry was quite empty and deserted, and as Herr Meinke-Haibl and I stood there in the archway, we impulsively flung our arms tightly about one another.
I seemed powerless, and a stronger impulse than my resistance overwhelmed me. I impulsively lifted his shirt and put both hands underneath his upper garments, eagerly feeling his warm flesh, as a drowning person gasping for air. I ran my arms entwined about his person up and down his back and, ach, a tad below. Sister, modesty forbids me from saying more.
I shall describe this scene no further, since Herr Meinke-Haibl was taking only temporary leave of me. This very evening, he was to go fetch his father, Herr Haibl, so that we four should all celebrate this first day of spring by taking a short stroll to the Wiener Kanal (a tributary of the Danube).
Some hours later, I was in the kitchen kneading bread dough when Mama suddenly came in looking flushed.
“Maria Sophie!” she exclaimed sharply. “This morning, you were so utterly absorbed in your tete-a-tete—rather arms-in-pants—with your precious Herr Meinke-Haibl--that you did not recognize my presence!”
“Ach, mein Gott,” I thought, mortified and horrified. Thoughts raced through my brain of Mama’s past threats to throw me out into the street, to disown me, to wretch me from the bosom of our warm hearth.
“Oh Mama, oh Mama,” I gasped. Mama looked me over silently, expressionless—simply staring at me in resignation and exasperation. Finally, she threw up her hands in a gesture of helplessness. I could see that her tired blue eyes were filled with tears. “Ach, my dear Sophie, whenever I look at you, I see your father. You are your father’s daughter, dear Sophie. I am proud of you, my child. I love you. Whatever happens in your life, I shall stand by you and never desert you. My dear Sophie, your family is there for you and always shall be. Ja, mein Kind (my child), that is what families are for.” My eyes were now brimming with tears and I noticed Mama’s tears trinkling down her rosy cheeks. We embraced one another, crying. “Now, Sophie dear, look who is come to call on us.” I looked out the window down onto the street scene on the Petersplatz below, glimpsing Herr Meinke-Haibl and his father making their way to our door.
A short while later, as the waning sun cast its deep shadow upon the cobbled streets, we four had reached the Wiener Kanal, the ever-so-welcome sight of the immortal, endless water. We stood on the riverbank as if in a straight line, Herr Meinke-Haibl’s arms and mine around each other’s shoulders while Mama, standing next to me, and Herr Haibl Pere likewise had their arms entwined shoulder-high. We all gazed spellbound at the slowly-setting sun.
The sun is the symbol of life, I thought. Since the setting sun was almost touching the placid waters, this was one occasion when we could safely and serenely gaze upon the yellow-orange, slowly sinking ball. The sun finally disappeared into the Danube, illuminating the sky with its brilliant red, orange, and pink hews and causing the rippling waters to gleam and sparkle like diamonds. We four linked arms and stood contemplating the shimmering beauty before us. I felt a warm glow in my heart and a deepening strength—born of love, support, and a sense of belonging.
Yes, I belonged to my dear Meinke-Haibl, to my family, my surroundings and yes, no less to myself.
At that moment, I heard a waft of music from a street musician carried to us by the wind. It was “Il mio tesoro” from Wolfgang’s opera “Don Giovanni.”
This contented scene shall be frozen in time, will remain with me forever, I thought—as shall dear Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s music shall always belong to the world—to all of us.
At this moment, I am content in the present and hopeful of the future.
Yours very affectionately,
Sophie, nee Weber