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Translated by R.D. Boylan Edited by Nathen Haskell Dole - page 17 / 106

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Goethe

sired her next sister, Sophy, a girl about eleven years old, to

take great care of the children, and to say good-bye to papa for her when he came home from his ride. She enjoined to the little ones to obey their sister Sophy as they would her- self, upon which some promised that they would; but a little fair-haired girl, about six years old, looked discontented, and said, “But Sophy is not you, Charlotte; and we like you best.” The two eldest boys had clambered up the carriage; and, at my request, she permitted them to accompany us a little way through the forest, upon their promising to sit very still, and hold fast.

We were hardly seated, and the ladies had scarcely exchanged compliments, making the usual remarks upon each other’s dress, and upon the company they expected to meet, when Charlotte stopped the carriage, and made her brothers get down.They insisted upon kissing her hands once more; which the eldest did with all the tenderness of a youth of fifteen, but the other in a lighter and more careless manner. She desired them again to give her love to the children, and we drove off.

The aunt inquired of Charlotte whether she had finished the book she had last sent her. “No,” said Charlotte; “I did

not like it: you can have it again. And the one before was not much better.” I was surprised, upon asking the title, to hear

that it was

____. (We feel obliged to suppress the passage in

the letter, to prevent any one from feeling aggrieved; although no author need pay much attention to the opinion of a mere girl, or that of an unsteady young man.)

I found penetration and character in everything she said: every expression seemed to brighten her features with new charms,—with new rays of genius,—which unfolded by de- grees, as she felt herself understood.

“When I was younger,” she observed, “I loved nothing so much as romances. Nothing could equal my delight when, on some holiday, I could settle down quietly in a corner, and enter with my whole heart and soul into the joys or sorrows of some fictitious Leonora. I do not deny that they even pos- sess some charms for me yet. But I read so seldom, that I prefer books suited exactly to my taste. And I like those au- thors best whose scenes describe my own situation in life, — and the friends who are about me, whose stories touch me with interest, from resembling my own homely existence, — which, without being absolutely paradise, is, on the whole, a

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