Kathrin

A ship sinks with only two survivors, a young bachelor and a little toddler. The bachelor becomes the little girl’s reluctant guardian. What sort of woman will he raise her to be?

Sample

Do you know where the cavern of the winds lies? It opens up somewhere at the end of the world. And on the twilight evening in which the “Heron” shot out from the peaked waves of the narrow English Channel into the grey waters of the Atlantic, the North Wind had the week’s watch right then, and crouched at the broad stone table, and smoked with delight. The swathes of smoke which he puffed from the short pipe stump did not disperse, rather they gathered and became dark clouds in the low hanging sky. Meanwhile the other brothers of the grey head, the East Wind, the South Wind, the West Wind, all lay in their corners and slept. They did not like the eldest, for they said brother North was a murderer. They did him an injustice however. Though the old fellow simply possessed the rough fists which shattered the solidest beams like glass, in his shaggy chest the morose heart often hammered in fear that nothing else occurred to him but this one roaring song of destruction which he had learnt in the ancient days of his youth. He would also rather have coaxed and wooed like the flaxen-haired South Wind. But, the devil, it did not work for him. And when he tried to laugh, over there on the other side of the horizon somewhere a few houses or churches collapsed.

“It is a heavy burden,” the North Wind said, and at the same time he opened up an old, strangely yellowed book, “it makes you tired when you want to keep order in your business, and not travel along rushing and unconcerned like the youths do.”

With that he moistened his hulking forefinger, and passed arduously and wistfully over one of the dark pages. The pages of the folio, however, did not lie still and dead, as is the custom with men’s books, rather they lived. And on them, the waves put forth their play; sun, moon, and stars passed across the sky; the white cliffs shone, and fluttering swarms of seagulls whirled over the masts and funnels of the ships which glided along on the inscribed sealanes.

“Yes,” the old one suggested as he scratched about with his nails on the white, glittering image of the “Heron”, just as the three-master had reached the great water, “a spruce ship. Captain Hennings. Eighteen man crew. Women’s clothes flitter, yes, even a piping little child’s voice cries out. Fetch the devil, it is nothing to me, I follow only the mood which rules my head and hands. Pity — pity.”

With that he moistened his finger more, and erased the white vessel with a strong swipe.

On the page, the waves fell against each other like blue mountains of glass, the smoke of his pipe passed over them, and the “Heron” sank trembling to the depths.

“So”, the old man said and chucked his book under the table grumbling.

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