A Week in the Country

The
passivity of her husband had been the thing that irked Amalia most throughout
their ten-year marriage. When a neighbour had planted a row of cypress trees at
the border of their estates, Georg had shrugged it off. We have more than
enough land, he’d reasoned, what is a few hundred feet to us? When their eldest
daughter had complained that her pianoforte lessons were too difficult, Georg
had indulged her, and allowed her to leave off. No point in making the poor
child miserable for an accomplishment that’s purely decorative, he’d smiled. He
hadn’t minded her decorative
accomplishments, Amalia had fumed.

Which
was why she was so shocked when Georg had turned up at her brother’s house in
Vienna, the week of her planned liaison with Captain Muller. George proceeded
to spend the week attending to Amalia’s every whim, dancing until their feet
were sore, riding out with her in her sister-in-law’s carriage, even reading
poetry with her in the library, until Amalia quite forgot all about Fritz and
his lasciviously curling golden locks. Georg had begun to reveal shades of the
man he’d been when they first married married, and Amalia’s curiosity had grown
until it was a pleasure to spend time with him.

On
their last day, the men decided to get up a shooting party. The women protested
– it was foggy, the season was almost over, why traipse into the country for
the dregs? Captain Muller was injured, and carried home screaming and thrashing
in a manner most unbefitting an army captain suffering a mere flesh wound. Amalia
felt more than a little repelled by his behaviour, and watched anxiously for
her husband.

‘What
a horrid accident,’ remarked Amalia absent-mindedly, as she and Georg climbed
into their carriage for the station.

‘It
was certainly horrid, that’s for sure,’ replied her husband.

Amalia
laughed as she settled herself amongst her furs. ‘Why, Georg, whatever do you –

Georg
fixed his young wife with a grim stare, and she stopped laughing.