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Saint Cecelia or The Power of Music

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Saint Cecelia or The Power of Music

by Heinrich Vonkleist

Genre: Drama
Setting:
Format of Original Source: Short Story
Recommended Adaptation Length:

Candidate for Adaptation? Not Reviewed

EXCERPT:

The superintendents concluded with the remark that the young men enjoyed perfect bodily health, that a certain serenity, though of a very serious and solemn kind, could not be denied them, and that when they heard themselves called mad, they shrugged their shoulders with an air of compassion, and had more than once declared that the good city of Aix-la-Chapelle if it knew what they knew, would cease from all business and likewise devote itself to singing the Gloria round the crucifix.

The lady, who could not support the horrible sight of her unfortunate sons, and who was soon led back tottering to her house, set off on the following morning to Herr Veit Gotthelf, a celebrated cloth-merchant of the city, to gain some intelligence as to the cause of this unfortunate occurrence. She did so because the letter from the preacher mentioned this man, and showed that he had taken a lively interest in the plan for destroying the cloister of St. Cecilia on Corpus Christi day. Veit Gotthelf, the cloth-merchant, who had become a husband and a father since the time, and had moreover undertaken his father’s extensive business, received his visitor very kindly, and when he heard the affair that had brought her to him, bolted the door, and having requested her to take a seat, proceeded as follows:

“My good lady, if you will promise to subject me to no legal investigation, I will tell you all, truly and without reserve. I was indeed on intimate terms with your sons six years ago,–yes, we entertained the project which is mentioned in the letter. How the plan, for the execution of which, the most careful preparations were made with truly impious acuteness, proved a failure, is to me utterly incomprehensible. Heaven itself seems to have taken the convent of those pious ladies under its holy protection. For you must know that your sons had already, as a prelude to some determined action, interrupted divine service by all sorts of ribaldry, and that more than three hundred rascals gathered together within the walls of our then misguided city, and armed with hatchets and links only waited for the signal which the preacher was to make, to level the cathedral with the ground.


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