Vienna, den 4. Maerz
My dearest Constanze,
Herzlichste Gruesse (heartiest greetings), my dear sister!
Mama speaks of nothing save the overpowering need to clasp you to her bosom and see your dear countenance.
Wolfgang and little Karl Thomas came by again on foot this day to tender us an invitation to attend a special musical evening Wolfgang is performing at the estate of Count and Countess Hatzfeld.
This musical soiree takes place in two days' time.
Sister, Wolfgang also left Karl Thomas in our loving care for one day.
You see, this day is Fraeulein Lieserl Schwemmer's, his maid's, day off, and Wolfgang has a full day's progression of pupil's at his doorstep.
After which, Wolfgang must set to work on completing the Six Haydn Quartets his dear friend, Count Hatzfeld, has commissioned for the concert.
The Quartets are only half completed.
The midnight oil, Wolfgang told me with a laugh, shall be burning ever so brightly in the Schulerstrasse this night! He joked to me that he might very well hear the cock crow at the morrow’s dawn—so much work still remains to be done.
However, Wolfgang has assured me that there is no need for panic, as all the music--the melodies--remain firmly in his head, and all Wolfgang must do is commit them to paper and fill in the harmonies.
My dear sister, I am overjoyed to tell you that our dear friend, Herr Haydn, will himself be engaged in performing with Wolfgang at the soiree, he on the pianoforte and Wolfgang on the violin. I am so happy at the prospect of again reveling in our dear friend’s company, and I so wish that you too could be among our number that night. Wolfgang, as you certainly must know, dear sister, is dedicating the quartets to Josef Haydn.
Now sister, on to more mundane matters.
Please do not fret about Karl Thomas, Constanze. He is in the most loving and capable of hands, save for his mother’s
This moment, Karl Thomas is fast asleep in Mama’s bedroom, in the sturdy, well-worn wooden cradle that has rocked to sleep all us Weber infants, as well as Mama and all her siblings.
Mama is so happy to have the little tyke in her company and care. For over an hour, she held him in her lap while reciting to him from the fairy tale books and Aesop’s Fables that she read to us as children.
Upon which, Karl Thomas being already fast asleep, she took him to his cradle and tenderly tucked him in for the night.
At the forepart of this day, I too had my happy moments with Karl Thomas, and you know where, my dear sister—at the pianoforte!
I held him in my lap as I placed his chubby fingers onto the keyboard, and he delighted in the new sounds he fashioned, and laughed and giggled so as he spontaneously made these, and then those tones. We both were laughing so delightedly and amusedly.
Dear sister, we were not in the least hampered for want of music!
I, however, did play some real music and melodies to him as he earnestly listened and thereupon rendered his very own cacophonous imitation.
Well, sister, I tremble as I relate to you the precious news nestled deep within my heart.
Can you guess, dear sister, of what I speak?
It is that my innermost desires have been fulfilled. My longed-for reunion with my beloved Meinke-Haibl took place before Christmas.
My sweetheart came to call on Mama and me in the afternoon on that happy day, riding his beautiful white steed, Lady.
He had been back in Vienna for two fortnights and had accustomed himself to the rhythms of Viennese life and to his routine at the Hatzfeld estate, where he now resides in a lovely, homely, quaint cottage on the vast, verdant grounds.
Sister, I heard a knock at the door and made haste to answer. Fortunately, Mama was occupied in the kitchen and did not witness the scene.
My heart was in my throat and I was all astonishment. Before I even had time to think, we were both tightly entwined in each other’s arms, our bodies as close together as could be humanly possible. We remained thus tightly glued one to the other for an eternity; we did not move a muscle to disengage ourselves. It could have been for five or ten minutes; it could have been for longer.
Finally, we had to pull away. I heard the scurry of tiny paws rush into the room and a tiny bark from Loewchen as we slowly lost contact with the other’s warm body and resumed a more or less normal demeanor.
Loewchen sniffed at dear Meinke-Haibl’s breeches and, I believe, recognized him. Thereapon, I conventionally bid him enter, closed the door, and excused myself to go into the kitchen to tell Mama that we had a visitor.
Mama appeared flushed and grasped her hands together at her ample bosom in a sign of surprise and delight.
Tea was poured; cake was put on tiny plates; we discoursed for well neigh an hour about our recent happenings.
Constanze, Herr Meinke-Haibl has been since his return quite often in the company of his father, Herr Alois Haibl, a singer and actor at Schikaneder’s Theater, and most unexpectedly, Herr Schikaneder has commissioned an opera from him, from Herr Meinke-Haibl fils! Can you imagine it! Well, I for one had immediately recognized my darling’s genuine talent in composition. And not only that, sister. Herr Schikaneder then pronounced my beloved the very ideal and absolutely perfect person to play opera buffa parts upon the stage—to play the clown! Can you imagine it! No one, Herr Schikaneder enthusiastically assured my Meinke-Haibl, no one in our vast Empire could ever in a million trillion years look more the part of the clown than he.
I could scare contain my laughter. Why, Herr Schikaneder went on, fairly foaming at the mouth, it would be a sin, indeed a sacrilege and an utter outrage if Meinke-Haibl did not—DID NOT- seize upon this fortunate felicitude of birth and not take full advantage of it, and fulfill his potential. Why, he must, absolutely must, Herr Schikaneder continued forcefully and warmly. “My dear Meinke-Haibl”, Herr Schikaneder boomed with friendliness and laughter in his voice, “Your acceptance in becoming part of our loving little theater family would be very prosperous to us both! It might make us rich! And not only will you play the comic sidekick, but very often the hero, Everyman, the put-upon Little Man, the protagonist—with a sense of humor—grappling with life and with the world.
And, dear friend, you have a delightful tenor voice. You shall employ it in many of our operas and Singspiels.
You also have a talent for composition not to be denied, and you shall write many of our musical works and our operas. Your father has been my mainstay as actor and singer low these many years, and what more satisfying fate than to have his own dear son join him and us!”
Sister, Meinke-Haibl seems very, very happy and pleased at this unexpected occurance and outcome. How could he refuse? Impossible, dear sister.
But wait, Constanze, my subsequent news is just as joyous!
Herr Meinke-Haibl has learned that he is only responsible for teaching the Count’s children the pianoforte, German, and French. There is at the Count's estate another tutor to instruct them in Latin, Italian, English, mathematics, and geography. Therefore, dear sister, Herr Meinke-Haibl has ample time to also be engaged and employed by Schikaneder’s company. He can do both! He can make use of his talents! Oh joyous day!
And sister, I am not yet full done with my bag of surprises this day!
I accompanied dear Meinke-Haibl to the theater for the first rehearsals, and Herr Schikaneder has engaged me as well, to play a small part in a new rustic comedy he has written, called “Mein Treues Herzchen” (My True Little Heart). He has even given me a solo song! And he sees me as the perfect casting for an ingénue role in “The Beggar’s Opera” by John Gay, and has already cast me in it. We shall mount “The Beggar’s Opera” later in the season. Herr Schikaneder has insisted that I too join his company! What great news, sister! My beloved and myself can thus often work and collaborate together and, en plus, not be deprived of one another’s company!
My dear Constanze, I feel at this juncture in my life, I am embarking upon a new chapter. My dearest Herr Meinke-Haibl is now part and parcel of my life and my heart. My prospects seem much the same, though my outlook is vastly different from before our journey.
Sister, Herr Alois Haibl, my beloved’s pere, is such a convivial, kind gentleman; such a good heart has he.
All these past months, I have become better acquainted with Haibl Pere, and can now say with complete forthrightness that I know him quite well and greatly esteem him. Constanze, it is uncanny how very much he physically resembles his son! And he too has a dry, drole sense of humor which he tires not in making use of. And like his son, he is a born raconteur, a marvelous storyteller, and regals us often with jokes and merriment.
I must now tell you a precious secret, dear sister.
After we were back but a little over three days, Herr Haibl Pere with his son came to call upon us, and since then, Herr Haibl Senior is steadily—without fail—come to call on Mama at least thrice weekly. It is so sweet, dear sister. I am very happy for Mama, indeed, for both of them!
I perceived with my womanly intuition that he too was lonely and wanting for a special love.
Last night, I heard a mixture of laughter and giggles from the parlor.
I did not wish to intrude nor to look within, as he had for some hours been in Mama’s company. As I went to leave the scene, the doorway was half open, and I happened accidentally upon the two of them in a tight embrace and kiss.
Before closing, dear Constanze, let me tell you something about Herr Meinke-Haibl’s life at the residence of the Count and Countess Hatzfeld.
By the by, the Countess is a very open, unguarded, and friendly person.
I can tell that I please her, and she approves of my alliance with her children’s music tutor.
Thrice has she invited me to take tea and cakes with her in the garden room, and several times more as a threesome with Meinke-Haibl.
Constanze, Meinke-Haibl’s beautiful steed, Lady, is stabled with the Count’s own horses. Herr Meinke-Haibl had specially arranged to have Lady used as one of the coach horses on his return journey to Vienna, which greatly facilitated his move.
The Count and Countess are so generous to enable me the full use of one of their horses when Meinke-Haibl is exercising Lady.
Constanze, green buds are beginning to slowly blossom again, and old man winter is giving way to the innocence and virgin beauty of springtime.
How I come more alive in the pursuit of outdoor pleasures, riding in the fresh, invigorating air, feeling the fresh breeze upon my cheeks, observing green abundance, mother nature, all about me. How I love to take full advantage of the Countess’s generous offer of exercising this beautiful palomino mare, called Dancing Darling.
Sister, at times when Herr Meinke-Haibl and myself are outdoors on horseback together, it seems we are in unison, our faces both pointed together forward, confidently and trustingly, toward the future, but grounded in the present.
A few days ago, after our horseback ride, Herr Meinke-Haibl invited me to come into his cottage and visit with him there.
Everything within is so cozy and gemuetlich.
We sat together on his bed, and then that magnetic force so powerfully pulled us together—one body, one heart.
I know not what happened, dear sister. I was out of my body, lost in a whirlwind, scarce conscious. I experienced such delight and indescribable bliss. Meinke-Haibl did, however, nothing that would cause me to be with child.
Of this, he was most resolute. How he would hate for me to be a mother without a husband. I am so thankful for his kind heart, and I trust him and love him heart and soul.
Dear sister, the candles are very nearly burned to the wick, and bedtime and sleep beckon.
I am so relieved to hear that your health, dear sister, is steadily improving, and I long so much to embrace you and again enjoy our sisterly tete-a-tetes.
As ever, your devoted sister,
Sophie, nee Weber