- About the Book
- About the Author
- Catching Dorothy
Lady Courths-Mahler – Vintage Love Stories
In this revival of "vintage chick-lit," there are no cell phones nor computers – but love letters that sometimes take weeks to reach their starry-eyed recipients. Suitors court their sweethearts, and gentlemen woo their ladies. Legendary German author Lady Courths-Mahler paints a portrait of magical romance, of a glimpse into the life of beautiful damsels and handsome heroes. These "fairytales for adults," from the early 1900s have been revived from the vaults and appear now for the first time in English. Their tender charm will leave your heart singing for more.
About the Book
Doting father, Albert Groner, is trying to accomplish two goals at once: to see his daughter, Dorothy, happily married, and to secure the future of his company, Groner Aircraft. What could be better than to have his daughter paired off with Jim Boker, heir to another aircraft company – which would also mean a wedding of the two businesses? Through subterfuge – almost a comedy of errors – the lovely, unbridled Dorothy and the dashing man-of-the world Jim meet and actually fall in love. The result is much more than a marriage of convenience, but the joining of two souls who were meant to be together in every way.
About the Author
The story of Hedwig Courths Mahler's life could have come from one of her novels: a real fairytale like the story of Cinderella- but she did not marry the prince, she became a queen on her own. Born Ernestine Friederike Elisabeth Mahler on February 18, 1867 in the town of Nebra a.d. Unstrut, Hedwig Courths Mahler was the product of an out of wed-lock affair and was raised by various foster parents. She first worked as a saleswoman in Leipzig while she wrote her first seventeen novels. Between 1905 and 1939, after marrying and giving birth to two daughters, she became a highly circulated author with her Courths Mahler romance novels.
But success did not come easy to the energetic young woman who originally wrote in order to feed her family. At times she sat at her desk, writing for fourteen hours a day, turning out six to eight novels each year.
As the Nazis refused to publish her work, Hedwig Courths-Mahler stopped writing in 1939. When her daughter was arrested by the Gestapo, the author suffered such great agony, she never wrote again. On November 26, 1950 Hedwig Courths Mahler died on her farm at Lake Tegern without witnessing the Renaissance of her novels.
Lady Courths Mahler – Vintage Love Stories
By Hedwig Courths-Mahler
Translated by Clair Bacher
Goodbye, my dear Papa! You must get the idea out of your head that I’ll marry a man chosen for me by other people, even when my own father is behind it! Someday I’ll choose my husband for myself. I’m going to the factory today to find an engineer who will teach me how to fly. You won’t be able to stop me from doing that, either. There must be some capable young man among your workers with whom you can entrust my precious life."
"My child, are you trying to drive your father to an early grave? How will I ever endure the fear when your plane soars off into the air?"
Dorothy kissed him on the cheek.
"You’ll just have to get used to the fear, Papa. I’m not a baby anymore! You reacted the same way when I was learning to drive. And now you prefer it when I chauffeur you about. One day, once I’ve learned to fly, you can come with me in the airplane."
"For heaven’s sake! You really expect me to do that?"
"To be honest, it’s a scandal that the head of the Groner Aircraft Works can’t fly a plane – and hasn’t even been in a plane in flight."
"I’m too old for that."
"Papa, you’re a spry young man of fifty. These days, one has to be active and innovative. But since you can’t bring yourself to do it, I’ve decided to learn how to fly. Someday I’ll take you with me into the sky, and we’ll see everyone from above. Just imagine how happy we’ll be!"
"You’re terrible, Dorothy! This is exactly why you should be marrying Jim Boker. If his father’s firm merges with mine, then one day, when I’m gone, he can be the head of the Groner Aircraft Works. And he can fly, too – he’s a wonderful pilot. Why should I bother learning now?"
"This Jim Boker – I don’t even know him, but already I don’t like him – he should be content to lead his own father’s company one day. I can’t stand the thought of that man, if only because, as the son of a German father, he calls himself ’Jim’ instead of ’Joachim,’ a much nicer name."
"But, child, you’re also the daughter of a German mother and father, and you call yourself ’Dorothy’ rather than ’Dorothea’."
She hesitated a moment, then shrugged her shoulders.
"At least I have compelling reasons to do so. The German ’Dorothea’ – as in Goethe’s ’Hermann and Dorothea’ – is too obnoxiously good for me to want to emulate her. Just imagine, Papa! Also, you’ve always called me Dorothy, for as long as I can remember. What could I do about that? Children are helpless against the tyranny of their parents."
"Very well. But perhaps Jim Boker’s parents were just as tyrannical as we were."
Again, she hesitated, but then replied, "What kind of man is he, then? He shouldn’t put up with people calling him ’Jim’. In any case, I have no desire to marry a man I can’t stand merely due to business interests."
"At least take a look at him first!"
"He’s not worth the trouble! He should stay in Philadelphia, this insufferable ’Jim’ who would permit himself to be forced upon a woman chosen to further his father’s business concerns. No, Papa, I shan’t! It’s not for me. Anyway, why should the head of the Groner Aircraft Works be a man? I’ll take it over myself when you die – in a hundred years or so, hopefully. So write your friend Boker and tell him that he should find another bride for his Jim. Dorothy Groner thanks him for the kind offer, but she’ll find herself a husband, should that really become necessary."
"You’ll at least consider it, Dorothy, and take a look at the young man."
"Nothing doing! Now go, Papa, otherwise you’ll be late to the factory, and they need your watchful eyes. I’ll come by later this morning and find myself a flight instructor among your engineers."
"You’re just terrible, Dorothy!"
She kissed him warmly, set his hat on his head, straightened his tie, and smiled at him, dimples appearing in her cheeks.
Then she pushed her father towards the door, and he had to leave, whether he wanted to or not.
Smiling, Dorothy watched him walk away and then turned back into the house, humming a little tune to herself.
In the meantime, her father drove to the factory. He was worried about his daughter. He had let her get in over her head with many things because he loved her so dearly. But now everything had to go her way. He had always been comfortable with this, but sometimes her headstrong nature posed a real dilemma for him. Like when she decided to learn to drive – although it was true that she had become an excellent driver.
But flying was another story. That was not a pursuit for a young woman, but Dorothy would manage it anyway. Was there anything she couldn’t accomplish? However, it really was time for her to be tamed by a young man. Jim Boker seemed like a very energetic young fellow. Every time he came across the man – although it hadn’t been very often – he thought to himself: That’s the one for your Dorothy. Truly, it had only been much later that he had considered merging the Boker Company with the Groner Aircraft Works through a marriage between the children.
Jim Boker hadn’t been enthusiastic about the prospect, either. When the two fathers had discussed the idea with him, he had said, "I’ll have to get to know Dorothy first – then I’ll tell you whether I agree or not."
This morning, he was supposed to come to the factory. Perhaps he was already there. What was he supposed to say? "My daughter isn’t interested, so nothing will come of it." He couldn’t embarrass himself like that!
He felt depressed. When he arrived at the factory, he learned that Jim Boker was already waiting for him.
Albert Groner went straight to his private office. As he entered, a young man rose from the chair by his desk. He had in his hands the large photograph of Dorothy that she had recently placed there. He had evidently been studying the photo closely.
Now he gently set it down, walked over to Dorothy’s father and reached out a hand.
"Well! Here I am! And I’ve already made Miss Dorothy’s acquaintance. If the picture is a good likeness, she must be lovely."
Groner shook the young man’s hand.
"I’m pleased that you like her, Jim, but … perhaps you shouldn’t get too attached to her. She isn’t interested!"
Something glinted in Jim’s eyes.
"What isn’t she interested in? Marrying me?"
"No, that’s not it. When I spoke to her about our plans this morning, she simply said that she wouldn’t allow a third party to choose her husband for business purposes; when the time is right, she says, she’ll choose for herself."
"Excellent! Now I’m starting to really like her."
"But what will become of that?"
"A happy couple, I hope."
"Oh, Jim, don’t imagine that it will be that easy! Dorothy is too much for me. She’s beyond my control. Now she’s decided that she wants to learn to fly; she’s coming to the factory later this morning to find a flight instructor among my engineers. She even expects me to go flying with her. No matter how much I resist, she’ll have her way. That’s how she is! I love her hopelessly and am still incredibly happy with her, but she needs a man with a firm hand. Someone like you, Jim. But she just isn’t interested!"
Jim strode back to the desk, picked up Dorothy’s picture again and looked down at it for a long while.
Finally, he calmly said, "Well, if I decide to marry her, she’ll marry me."
"Ah, Jim. You don’t know Dorothy. And even if you convince her, she certainly won’t be an easy wife to live with."
"We’ll see. Just wait, Mr. Groner! I’ll take a look at Miss Dorothy. If she’s anything like her photograph, then she’ll be my wife. I’ll tame her, this wildcat. When will she be here?"
Albert Groner looked at him in astonishment. The young man certainly seemed to have courage.
"In about an hour, I think."
"Good. Will you help me win Dorothy over?"
"To the best of my abilities. But that’s not much."
Jim laughed, his white teeth flashing. His face was that of an energetic man. He had grey eyes, an intelligent and focused gaze, a handsome, high forehead, and thick blond hair that was smoothly brushed back – a hairstyle that was easy to put back in place after the wind, weather, or his flight helmet had messed it up.
"Here’s the plan, Mr. Groner. I’ll wait here until Miss Dorothy comes. You’ll introduce me as the newly hired engineer Harry White. That’s one of our engineers who will lend me his papers in a pinch. If Miss Dorothy pleases me as much in person as she does in this photograph, then … well, I’ll wink at you, like this. Then you can include me among your other engineers as possible teachers for your daughter. If she chooses me, that’s the work half done, because it means she likes me. I’ll worry about the rest, never you fear. If she doesn’t choose me, then we’ll see. And another thing: If she picks me, I’ll work on taming her. I’ve just thought of a plan for that. If we go on an especially long flight, you shouldn’t be concerned. I shan’t say anything else. My plan isn’t quite worked out yet, but it’ll be ready soon. Now, don’t worry any more about it. I hope that everything will go well. Don’t forget – I’m Harry White, a poor engineer, who’s overjoyed to have found a job!"
They went over a few more things. Then a number of other engineers were called up to the office to give Dorothy her choice of instructors. At Jim’s request, Albert Groner called him Harry White in the presence of the other men.
"My daughter will arrive shortly and select one of you as her flight instructor," Groner said.
The young men were happy to wait for her, as they were all crazy about Miss Dorothy. She was always friendly and kind, and her attractive appearance charmed all men. Of course, as the daughter of the boss, she was out of reach for all the engineers. But they were free to worship her, and the thought of becoming her teacher represented the epitome of happiness.
Groner was nervous about how things would go, but Jim’s demeanor inspired confidence. Maybe he’d manage to tame Dorothy and make her a docile wife after all. But then he thought that Jim really shouldn’t be too strict with her. He’d have to say something about that to the young man if his little girl actually chose him as her teacher.
He looked over the row of engineers. If he were a young woman, he’d definitely have chosen Jim – he looked like a real man and had a very pleasant manner. But Dorothy was unpredictable; you always had to be ready for surprises with her.
Finally, Dorothy’s small, sleek car pulled up below, his daughter at the wheel. Jim had positioned himself so that he could see her arrive. As she agilely and elegantly stepped out of the car and looked up at the administration building, he saw her face full on and his heart began to race.
She’s lovely, he thought, turning his gaze to the door through which she’d enter.
In just a few minutes, the time came. She looked a bit surprised to see the assembled men. Then a sunny smile lit up her face, and she greeted the engineers with a friendly nod.
"Papa, this is wonderful of you! The words are barely out of my mouth, and you’ve already made my wish come true. I assume that these are my choices for a teacher?"
She kissed her father on the cheek. Rather peevishly, he said, "You wouldn’t leave me in peace, so I asked the men to come up to my office. They’re all capable pilots and engineers, across the board. Now you can make your decision – you wanted to pick your teacher yourself, isn’t that right?"
"Yes, Papa, you know, I have to see for myself whether I can get along with them. The fact that they could all be good teachers for me – that guarantee is your responsibility, naturally."
"But of course."
Dorothy turned her charming smile towards the men.
"Please, when I select one of you to be my instructor, don’t consider it a judgment of your personal value. I’m just going by my instincts."
"As usual," her father said, a little gruffly.
Jim had already winked at him, so he knew that the young man was ready to stay and be judged; otherwise he would have removed himself from the room under some pretext or another.
Dorothy was exchanging a few words with each of the young men. Without admitting what she was doing, she was testing their quick-wittedness. Very few performed well in her exam – only one had given her the answer she was looking for.
She turned back to Jim, whom her father had introduced as the engineer Harry White.
Dorothy gave a start as she looked into those grey eyes; the force of the willpower shining out of them was so strong that she felt powerless for a moment.
"Would you be willing to become my instructor?" she asked, feeling a hint of embarrassment that she immediately suppressed.
"Under one condition," he curtly replied.
Astonished, she stared at him, almost in shock. This man was setting conditions when she, Dorothy Groner, was offering him the honor of becoming her flight instructor? She tossed her head back with a touch of arrogance.
"Ah! You’re making conditions?"
"And they are?"
"That as long as you’re my pupil, that is, as long as we’re in the airplane, you must obey me without question. And I’ll need to select the machine myself."
Dorothy turned to look at her father, as if to ask: What do you think of this insolence? But her father merely shrugged.
Dorothy turned back to face Jim again.
"As you’ve seen, none of these other men have tried to make any conditions."
He straightened up and looked at her again with his compelling gaze.
"If I become your teacher, I’ll have to bear all the responsibility, and it’ll be in the interest of your safety for you to obey me while we’re in flight."
There was something defiant in Dorothy’s expression.
"And if I don’t accept your condition?"
"Then I won’t be your teacher, Miss Groner."
She was speechless. She was accustomed to all the men at the Groner Aircraft Works bowing and scraping to do her bidding, from the littlest apprentice to her father himself, so she was amazed that this poor, insignificant engineer would dare to set conditions for taking her on as a student. But then, he looked so trustworthy! Out of all these young engineers, he was the one man for the job. And he impressed her with his willingness to jeopardize everything by refusing to accommodate her.
She looked searchingly into his strong, calm face; only the slightest muscular twitch could be seen.
Suddenly she straightened up, having made her decision.
"Good. I accept your condition, as long as we’re in the airplane."
His face relaxed.
"So you’d like me to teach you how to fly?"
"That’s correct, Mr. White." Turning to the other men, she said with an amiable smile, "I’m sure that any one of you would have been nicer to me, but I think I’ll learn the most from Mr. White, since I’ll have to obey him."
The engineers took their leave, dismissed by a grateful wave from their boss. Only Jim Boker remained behind.