Copyright: This work is in the public domain in the USA only.
Bertha Garlan is twenty-six and widowed. She has a small child, Fritz; when not caring for him, she teaches piano to the children of her town. Her life is happy, or more accurately it is pleasant; There isn't much opportunity beyond what she has, though a yearning for something grander exists within her heart. For what? She doesn't know. Her friend, Frau Rupius is traveling to Vienna; she invites Bertha along with her. We learn that Bertha is to be used as an excuse, a cover for Frau Rupius' infidelity. Bertha is at first shocked, but then her thoughts wander to Emil, the man she loved as a boy. Her first love, she repelled him after he suggested a consummation of their love. But now, with her husband in the grave, perhaps she could offer her affection. After all, if Frau Rupius is capable of having a lover in Vienna, then so too can Bertha Garlan. The idea takes hold in her mind. She idealises the time she spent with Emil and, without properly considering the consequences, writes him a letter. He is by now a famous musician, a violinist of some repute - Bertha hopes that he remembers her. He does and his reply, which comes quickly, suggests a meeting. This book had big influence on Sigmund Freud.