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35 10 Time flies. Now and then a faint smell of ripe grain wafts over the town. The summer holidays are here! One afternoon Father is standing in the Bunden’s flat. What a surprise! For a moment Maria stares at him in astonishment, then she rushes to greet him. She is proud that her foster parents and the girls can see what a strong and confident man Father is.When he talks, Mama and Papa laugh so much that tears roll down Mama’s cheeks. Maria stays close to Father. Snuggling up to him, she would not and cannot imagine that anyone could pinch or tickle him like they do in the afternoons with Papa Bunden. Why ever is he here? Is she to go with him? What about school? She taps Father on the arm to make him look at her. She points to herself, then to Father, then to the door, and out into the distance. Now, Mama Bunden turns her around in order to give her the answer.“You will go away with Father, but then come back.”Happily, Maria looks back at Father. The smell of another world clings to his clothes. It is the smell of stable and grain, of cows and horses—all of a sudden she feels terribly homesick. The next morning, very early, Father and Maria set off on the long journey to Freilingen. Maria recognizes much of what flies past the train window.Throughout the long journey, Father does not speak a single word to her. She would be very glad if he would try. When they arrive home, Mother clasps her in her arms and Grandmother fondles the girl’s head. Maria would love to tell them everything she has seen and experienced, but she has not yet learned the words for it all. Still, the grownups are amazed enough at what she has learned in the meantime. On her first evening back in the village, everything feels rather unfamiliar and strange. She has been away from the little village for too long—and Stories Main Pgs 1-258.indd 35 4/26/2017 12:17:34 PM 36 Maria Wallisfurth in Aachen life is so different. Maria stands in the summer’s evening light at the front door, leaning on the stone frame and looking out at the yard. She is still wearing her pretty school frock, a bright pinafore, and shiny laced boots. A group of children gather and stand silently around her. When Maria walks across the yard, they all follow her. The next day, she puts on her old clothes, and now it is as if she has never been away. Everyone knows her and has a friendly smile for her. The vacation passes much too quickly, though, and at the end of the summer, Maria has to go back to school. Soon after returning to Aachen, the days become shorter. In the mornings, dense fog awaits outside the main door. The three girls have to put on coats and caps for their walk to school. In the classrooms, the great black iron stoves are lit. Maria learns how to pronounce the consonants b, d, and g. She forms words with them, and the more sounds she learns the more she has to remember. For the p, which explodes forcefully from the lips, she has to keep her throat free from any vibrations, and for the b, she must remember that it is formed just like the p, but more softly and with a pressure in her throat. Master Wennekamp sometimes puts his ear with a hand cupped behind it next to Maria’s mouth. She is to speak into it. Why she has to do this, she does not know, nor does she know what ears are for, but she learns that speaking and ears are connected for the teacher. She realizes that the teacher’s satisfaction or dissatisfaction with her speaking also has something to do with his ears. The opening in his ear must be a mysterious passage. There it should go in, the teacher points, but Maria cannot see how or what goes in. She imagines that the teacher’s ears must have feeling. But her ears only feel when she sticks her finger in. Maria also learns the art of lipreading. She should, after all, not only be able to make herself understood but also learn to understand other people. One day she should be able to talk with them...

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