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96 24 Sometimes Maria wishes young Mrs. Salzburg could be her mother. ­ Maria is really fond of her, so she always behaves obediently and is never unfriendly . At least she tries not to be. They are sitting at the table for the midday meal. Maria is really hungry . Mrs. Salzburg sets down dishes of steaming lentil soup. Maria looks horrified at the dark brown liquid. There are flat round things glistening under blobs of fat. No! She is not going to eat that! She has never seen anything like that before and certainly never eaten it, neither in Freilingen nor at Mama Bunden’s. And she was so looking forward to something to eat after school. She gets cross. With a defiant face she says:“No, I won’t eat this soup! I have never eaten this soup!” Mrs. Salzburg is upset and sad. “It is lentil soup, it tastes very good. You only have to try it. It is made with bacon. Please, Maria, just try it!” But Maria sits there stubbornly: “No, I won’t eat the soup!” Hedwig follows her example. She shakes her head and say she won’t eat the soup either. Sad and sighing, Mrs. Salzburg takes the soup back to the pot. The headmaster of the Deaf and Dumb Institution happens to visit the Salzburg family later that very day to inquire about Maria. He also wants to get to know her new foster home. Mrs. Salzburg praises Maria and mentions in passing the incident with the soup. The headmaster calls Maria over with his forefinger!“You wouldn’t eat the lentil soup? Well, well, well!” Then he leaves her standing there and takes his leave of Mrs. ­ Salzburg. Maria breathes a sigh of relief and thinks she has heard the last of it. The next morning it is raining,as it has been for weeks.The rain ­splashes onto the shiny wet cobblestones. Rivulets trickle toward the ­ gutter. ­ Maria lifts up her skirt, pulls her scarf down over her forehead, and tries to avoid Stories Main Pgs 1-258.indd 96 4/26/2017 12:17:38 PM The Stories They Told Me 97 the puddles. Hedwig runs behind her and Maria turns round to her now and then to check that she is still following. When the girls finally get to the school, they are wet almost through and through. All the children have taken cover in the hall. Lessons have not begun yet. Puddles of water form on the stone floor. Wild boys are throwing wet caps around; it is an unpleasant, damp crush of bodies. The children see the headmaster coming and let each other know. Gradually it becomes quieter. They all look at the man who they fear, more or less. More than once he has sent the most defiant and obstinate of them to the cellar, where they got only water and a slice of black bread the whole day. Now he looks angry.“Maria Giefer is to come to me!” All the children turn to Maria. The headmaster looks at Maria sternly. He has never been angry with her before, but as he stands there in front of her with wideopen eyes, she thinks He has eyes like an owl! “You did not eat your lentil soup! You are very obstinate!” the head­ master says, and he brings out a cane from behind his back. Maria has to hold out both hands and is given two hard strokes on each palm. She presses her lips together and does not make a sound. She looks at the man’s face and thinks, You are an owl! You are an owl! Her hands burn like fire, but, she waits until the headmaster has gone before she begins to cry bitterly. She has been beaten for the first time in her life. Maria looks at the school barometer every day. Gradually the weather gets better, perhaps because she prays to God to send the sun“for Freilingen’s sake!”She notices that Mrs. Salzburg seems to be getting paler and weaker. Maria does not know what is wrong with her. She sees that the young woman has to lie on the sofa or in bed more and more often and that the work remains undone. Sometimes the doctor comes to see Mrs. Salzburg. When Maria comes home from school, she often sees his bicycle parked by the front door. “You have to go away from here soon. I am...


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MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
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