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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Countess Toinette Sets Out for “The Promised Land”
By Paul Heyse (1830–1914)
 
From ‘Children of the World’

THE NOTE inclosed in the doctor’s letter ran as follows:—  1
  “You will be alarmed, my dear friend, that I already write you again. But fear nothing: it is for the last time, and means little more than the card inscribed P. P. C. which we leave with our friends before a long separation. I am going away on a journey, dear friend, far enough away to enable you to feel perfectly secure from any molestation on my part. How this has come about is a long story. Suffice it to say, that it is not envy of the laurels won by my beautiful fair-haired sister-in-law—I mean those she will undoubtedly win as a high-born, intellectual, and pious traveler—that induces me also to seek a change of air. If that which I breathe were but conducive to my health,—if I could but sleep and wake, laugh and weep, like other men and women,—I certainly would not stir from the spot. But even my worst enemy could hardly fail to understand that matters cannot go on any longer as they are; so I prefer to go. The ‘promised land’ has long allured me. I should have set out for it before, if I had not had much to expect, to hope, and to wait for, and been hindered by a multitude of—as I now see—very superfluous scruples, which are at last successfully conquered.  2
  “Do you know that since I saw you I have made the acquaintance of your dear wife? A very, very pleasant acquaintance; if I had only made it a few years sooner, it might have been very useful to me. Well, even now it is not too late to rejoice that you have what you need, the happiness you desire, in such a noble, wise, and loving life companion. Give my kindest remembrances to her. In my incognito I may have behaved strangely. But the idea of assuming it flashed upon me so suddenly, and with the help of my faithful maid it was carried so quickly into execution, that I had no time to consider what rôle I should play; so everything was done on the spur of the moment. To be sure, I had at first a vague idea of proposing that you should accompany me on the great journey. But one glance into your home quickly told me that you must be happiest there; that your ‘promised land’ is the room where your desk and the artist table of your wife stand so quietly and peacefully side by side.  3
  “Farewell, ‘dear friend’! I should like to talk with you still longer,—to philosophize, as we used to call it; but what would be the use? Or has any sage ever given a satisfactory answer to the question, of how the commandment that the sins of the fathers must be visited on the children can be made to harmonize with the idea of a just government of the world? Why should a freak of nature, an abnormal creation, be expected to fulfill all the grave and normal demands we are justified in making upon ordinary human beings? Or why are we usually punished by the gratification of our wishes, and allowed to perceive what we ought to have desired, only when it cannot be attained?  4
  “A fool, you know, can propound more questions than ten philosophers can answer. Perhaps I shall receive special enlightenment in the ‘promised land.’ My memory is stored with much that is beautiful; even many a trial that I have experienced in the gray twilight of this strange, cold, inhospitable world was not borne wholly without recompense. I would not give up even my sorrows for the dull happiness of commonplace wiseacres, who in their limited sphere think all things perfectly natural, and cling closely to their clod.  5
  “Farewell, my dear friend. Let me hope that you will always, wherever I may be, remember me with as much sympathy as the great and pure happiness you enjoy will allow, and that you will wish a pleasant journey to
TOINETTE.”    
  6
 
 
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