By Eva Ibbotson
After twelve-year-old Annika, a foundling residing in overdue nineteenth-century Vienna, inherits a trunk of gown jewellery, a girl claiming to be her aristocratic mom arrives and takes her to stay in a surprisingly decrepit mansion in Germany.
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And this, my dears, is the place the sorrowful half is available in, simply because my godfather, Herr von Grotius, has died. He was once a widower and we went to Zurich to ensure he had a becoming funeral. I can’t let you know what an excellent guy he was once and that i used to be his favorite goddaughter. ’ Edeltraut’s handkerchief got here out and he or she dabbed her eyes. It used to be a brand new one, edged with most interesting lace; there have been no time but to embroider it with the von Tannenberg initials. ‘Death is usually sad,’ she went on, ‘but he used to be very, very previous. frequently within the final years he instructed me how drained he used to be; how he longed to be at leisure. ’ ‘And now he's, God bless him,’ installed Mathilde. Edeltraut raised her eyebrows at her sister. She by no means beloved being interrupted and either the godfather and his legacy belonged to her. ‘You should be certain,’ she informed the kids, ‘that we gave him a superb funeral. A dozen black horses bedecked with plumes, 3 carriages jam-packed with very important mourners . . . a provider within the cathedral presided over by means of the archbishop . . . all people who mattered within the urban used to be there. The Prince of Essen despatched his equerry. ’ She dabbed her eyes once again, then positioned the handkerchief away. ‘So this night in the event you visit mattress i would like you to vow to kneel and say a prayer for Herr von Grotius. i do know you by no means met him, yet he was once an excellent guy. ’ ‘A first-class man,’ acknowledged Mathilde, who felt that she used to be no longer being allowed a good proportion of the tale. ‘Because he begged us to not pass into mourning we will put on our traditional clothes,’ Edeltraut went on, ‘except after we exit, once we shall have black armbands. there'll be armbands for you furthermore mght in order that humans recognize we care and that i shall put on a black ribbon on my petticoat, as my mom might have performed, simply because he used to be my godfather. ’ yet to Annika it appeared that the garments the grown-ups have been donning weren't very traditional. The muff Edeltraut had thrown down used to be made up of sable, Mathilde wore a jacket embroidered in gold thread and Uncle Oswald’s shining new boots have been made from most interesting child. Hermann had performed his most sensible to hear patiently, yet now he acquired to his toes and moved to his mother’s aspect. ‘Does that suggest i will be able to visit St Xavier’s? ’ he requested excitedly. ‘Does it? Does it? ’ Edeltraut smiled at him. ‘Yes, my pricey, it does. that would be our first job – to get you prepared for the Easter time period. The time that you should serve your place of origin has come! ’ Hermann’s face flushed with pleasure. He pulled again his shoulders and gave an ideal army salute. ‘I am ready,’ he stated. For a second not anyone may consider something other than the noble approach that Hermann used to be behaving. Then Edeltraut broke the silence. ‘And now you'll want to see your provides. ’ The bins have been piled up at the low desk. Gudrun opened hers to discover, in nests of tissue paper, a blue velvet cloak and hood with an identical muff – and a couple of white lace gloves. ‘Oh, Mama,’ she acknowledged – and her lengthy faded face lit up. She slipped at the cloak and the hood, and wouldn’t take them off the total night. Hermann’s current took many years to unwrap; contained in the embossed paper was once a leather-based field with the monogram Zwingli and Hammerman, goldsmiths to the president of Switzerland, stamped at the part.