“Fräulein Benjamenta said to me: ‘Jakob, I am dying, because I have found no love. The heart which no deserving person deserved to possess and to wound, it is dying now. Adieu, Jakob, it’s already time to say adieu. You boys, Kraus, you, and the others, you will sing a song by the bed in which I shall lie. You will mourn for me, softly. And each of you will lay a flower, perhaps still moist with nature’s dew, upon my shroud. I want to take your young human heart into my sisterly and smiling confidence now. Yes, Jakob, to confide in you is so natural, for when you look as you are looking now, it’s as if you must have ears, a hearing heart, and eyes, a soul, a compassionate understanding and fellow-feeling for everything and for each particular thing, even for what cannot be said and cannot be heard. I am dying of the incomprehension of those who could have seen me and held me, dying of the emptiness of cautious and clever people, and of the lovelessness of hesitancy and not-much-liking. Someone thought he would love me one day, thought he wanted to have me, but he hesitated, left me waiting, and I hesitated too, but then I’m a girl, I had to be hesitant, it was allowed and expected of me.’”
— Our Valentine’s Day coverage continues with this excerpt from Robert Walser’s Jakob von Gunten, soon to be available as an ebook!