The White Morning

Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton
The White Morning

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Title: The White Morning
Author: Gertrude Atherton
Release Date: September 18, 2004 [eBook #13496]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
E-text prepared by Sandra Bannatyne and the Project Gutenberg Online
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A Novel of the Power of the German Women in Wartime

[Illustration: GISELA _Photograph by Arnold Genthe, N.Y._]

Countess Gisela Niebuhr sat in the long dusk of Munich staring over at
the beautiful park that in happier days had been famous in the world as
the Englischer Garten, and deliberately recalled on what might be the
last night of her life the successive causes that had led to her profound

dissatisfaction with her country as a woman. She was so thoroughly
disgusted with it as a German that personal grievances were far from
necessary to fortify her for the momentous rôle she was to play with the
dawn; but in this rare hour of leisure it amused her naturally
introspective mind to rehearse certain episodes whose sum had made
her what she was.
When she was fourteen and her sisters Lili and Elsa sixteen and
eighteen they had met in the attic of their home in Berlin one afternoon
when their father was automatically at his club and their mother taking
her prescribed hour of rest, and solemnly pledged one another never to
marry. The causes of this vital conclave were both cumulative and
immediate. Their father, the Herr Graf, a fine looking junker of sixty
odd, with a roving eye and a martial air despite a corpulence which
annoyed him excessively, had transferred his lost authority over his
regiment to his household. The boys were in their own regiments and
rid of parental discipline, but the countess and the girls received the full
benefit of his military, and Prussian, relish for despotism.
In his essence a kind man and fond of his women, he balked their every
individual wish and allowed them practically no liberty. They never left
the house unattended, like the American girls and those fortunate
beings of the student class. Lili had a charming voice and was
consumed with ambition to be an operatic star. She had summoned her
courage upon one memorable occasion and broached the subject to her
father. All the terrified family had expected his instant dissolution from
apoplexy, and in spite of his petty tyrannies they loved him. The best
instructor in Berlin continued to give her lessons, as nothing gave the
Graf more pleasure of an evening than her warblings.
The household, quite apart from the Frau Gräfin's admirable
management, ran with military precision, and no one dared to be the
fraction of a minute late for meals or social engagements. They
attended the theater, the opera, court functions, dinners, balls, on stated
nights, and unless the Kaiser took a whim and altered a date, there was
no deviation from this routine year in and out. They walked at the same
hour, drove in the Tiergarten with the rest of fashionable Berlin, started
for their castle in the Saxon Alps not only upon the same day but on the
same train every summer, and the electric lights went out at precisely
the same moment every night; the count's faithful steward manipulated

a central stop. They were encouraged to read and study, but not--oh, by
no means--to have individual opinions. The men of Germany were
there to do the thinking and they did it.
Perhaps the rebellion of the Niebuhr girls would never have crystallized
(for, after all, their everyday experience was much like that of other
girls of their class, merely intensified by their father's persistence of
executive ardors) had it not been for two subtle influences, quite
unsuspected by the haughty Kammerherr: they had an American friend,
Kate Terriss, who was "finishing her voice" in Berlin, and their married
sister, Mariette, had recently spent a fortnight in the paternal nest.
The count despised the entire American race, as all good Prussians did,
but he was as wax to feminine blandishments outside of his family, and
Miss Terriss was pretty, diplomatic, alluring, and far cleverer than he
would have admitted any woman could be. She wound the old martinet
round her finger, subdued her rampant Americanism in his society, and
amused herself sowing the seeds of rebellion in the minds of "those
poor Niebuhr girls." As the countess also liked her,
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