- About the Book
- About the Author
- With This Ring
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
Follow the interweaving lives of high society German royalty as they struggle with prejudices while trying to follow their hearts. As Nurse Maria tries to escape her haunted past, she becomes caretaker for the sickly son of a widowed prince. Now, Maria must decide what to do about her growing feelings for Prince Rastenberg – stay or flee? Other royal families must also fight against what is considered proper and what their passions tell them to do. Since Duke Ferdinand has already chosen a common woman as his wife, their children must deal with the aftermath and stigma associated with being outcasts among the elite while the Duke is forced to marry a new woman sire and heir. How will their passions clash with the rigid rules of their peers?
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
With This Ring
By Hedwig Courths-Mahler
Translated by Anna Matussek
A hot summer’s day was coming to an end. Ruth Waldeck was sitting on the balcony in front of her living room and looking up at the mountains.
Mount Watzmann’s outline was in stark contrast to the sky, bathed in vibrant colors by the setting sun. Down in the valley, the shadows were already growing long.
Ruth didn’t seem to notice the festive mood of her natural surroundings. Painful thoughts had numbed her senses to any external impressions.
She stepped back inside, switching on the light that illuminatedthe harmonious room in pale colors. It looked like the living quarters of a spoiled young lady.
Ruth’s appearance matched her surroundings. She was of slight build with soft, round contours. She had a delicate face, not beautiful in the strictest sense of the word but with graceful features. Her eyes, mouth, and hands, however, were truly stunning.
This sad, pensive gaze did not befit her young face and was surely still too new to have etched any deep lines into it.
Overall, Ruth Waldeck had had a happy childhood, despite fate taking her mother from her early. Her father had compensated her loss with so much love that she no longer attached great importance to the sad incident.
Mrs. Grotthus, whom her father had hired as a house matron, had managed to gain the child’s trust in a very short amount of time. She didn’t just keep their household in exemplary order, but also strived to make little Ruth’s life as comfortable as possible and to navigate her through youth’s many ups and downs. Ruth was therefore of the conviction that life would continue to take a well-ordered path, was content with herself and her surroundings, and believed herself to be so close to her father that nothing could muddy the harmonious relationship between the two of them.
That is why the message, which had reached her only a few days earlier, had truly stunned her. Her father intended to get married once more and give her a new mother.
The thought filled her with horror: This woman was threatening to destroy a perfect order of things that had seemed to be set in stone for all eternity.
She couldn’t understand why her father was seemingly pushing her aside. Even less so, she couldn’t imagine how her life would now unfold.
Everything had happened so terribly quickly–like an unexpected thunderstorm on a beautiful day. With a single letter her life had changed, and now she was expected to come to terms not only with the fact that her father had a new wife, but also that she’d have to call this strange woman "mother" in the future.
It was fast for her father, too: He had only known the woman for a short while before making her his wife.
Although it had been difficult for him to abstain from remarrying for all these years, he had told himself that he couldn’t do so for his daughter’s sake.
Now fifty years old, he believed had already overcome everything. That’s when a certain singer stepped into his field of vision.
A long-forsaken love had gripped him with a spell of dizziness. At first he didn’t dare dream of Erna Setten returning his affection, since she was still young. But when he felt that she was making advances towards him and could tell from her behavior that he did indeed matter to her, all his doubts disintegrated.
The warnings he received from all sides, however, weren’t completely baseless. Erna Setten was known to be arrogant, boastful, and even sneaky.
But who could blame the old gentleman Waldeck for overlooking these characteristics, since love is infamous for making one blind? He saw her smile, the passion in her eyes, her graceful figure, and was bewitched.
An older woman entered and approached the girl. She lovingly placed her arm around her shoulders.
"Still so sad, Ruth?"
The young girl sat up quickly.
"Oh, it’s you, Auntie Grotthus!"
She wiped her hand over her face and looked despondently into the friendly eyes that were watching her with concern.
"You’re surprised that I’m not excited about this marriage?"
Mrs. Grotthus smiled.
"At my age, one isn’t easily surprised by something so human. I understand that the unexpected message has shocked you. But now you shouldn’t hang your head and cry over something that can’t be changed. Try to see it from another point of view, be less egotistical, and think of your father. Try to be happy for him! He’s been leading a very lonely life all these years."
"But I was with him and so were you, and we were so happy and content."
"Just because you were, you think your father must’ve been, too."
"So I didn’t mean anything to him."
The old lady shook her head with indignation.
"You should be ashamed of yourself, Ruth, for saying something like that! Do I have to remind you of all the times he called you his one true joy and his ray of sunshine?"
Ruth rested her head on Mrs. Grotthus’ shoulder.
"And now all that must suddenly change. That’s precisely what is so painful."
"Nothing will change at all in your relationship with the greatest of all fathers, if you don’t want it to."
"Oh, you mean me! I would’ve never done to Father what he is doing to me."
Mrs. Grotthus stroked Ruth’s head with a smile.
"My child, when the right man comes along, you’ll follow him anywhere he wants to go. And see, then your father would be completely alone. You should be glad that he’s found someone who can console him!"
"Oh dear, darling. You are so good and you’re right about everything you’re saying, of course. If only it wasn’t so difficult not to suddenly feel superfluous. Nobody needs me and I so badly want to be needed by someone."
"Don’t say that, Ruth!" the old lady replied solemnly. "Maybe your father needs you now even more."
The young girl looked up in surprise.
"How do you mean?"
"Never mind, child. That was just a silly, thoughtless comment!"
"I can tell that you don’t want to tell me your opinion. That may be so. But you have to answer at least some of my questions. Where and how did Father meet his wife and who is she?"
"At a charity concert. Your stepmother was a singer and was introduced to your father, who belongs to the charity’s committee. It was in March this year, when you had to stay home because of a cold."
"I’ve never heard of her."
"It seems that she was not famous. Her singing wasn’t praised and, indeed, critical reviews of it were very harsh."
"Have you ever heard her sing?"
"How could I? She never performed again, in accordance with your father’s wishes."
"Does she still have parents?"
"No, she’s an orphan."
"Do you think that she’s marrying Father out of love?"
The old lady looked off into the distance.
"Who can fathom that? Your father is still a handsome man, despite his age. Why should his young wife not love him?"
Ruth rested her chin on her hand pensively.
"And yet I still believe that she only married Father in a calculated move. He is twice her age, after all. Oh, Auntie Grotthus, don’t shake your head! At the end of the day you are thinking the same as I am."
"All right, and if it were so? Your father is happy. He loves her and believes himself to be loved. Be happy for him! Be strong, Ruth, control yourself, and don’t cloud his happiness, but rather try to maintain it for him. Whether the marriage turns out to be good or bad is in God’s hands, but if you want to prove your love to your father, wipe the shadow off your soul and write him a few nice lines!"
Mrs. Grotthus did indeed know a bit about the – not exactly noble – past of the former singer. But it wasn’t much either. If she had known more, she would have had serious doubts herself.
There was Heinrich Rehling, a young and talented pianist who tended to accompany the singer at recitals. He was in love with Erna and believed he was loved by her in return. How could he think differently, since she had been willing to be engaged to him in secret and live together?
Erna had justified the secrecy of their engagement with her work as a singer. An artiste could not be presented in public as tied to someone, she had said.
Heinrich Rehling had been satisfied with that.
Her flirtation with other men was only to enhance her reputation as an artiste, she assured him.
"Especially these circles, darling," she tended to say, "are important for us. The personal contact boosts my reputation. There is talk of me in high society – and of course also of you, because everyone knows that I would be nothing without you."
"I’ll kill you if I find out that you’re cheating on me," he responded furiously when she came home late one night and even told him that she’d been to the opera with the Consul Waldeck.
"I won’t cheat on you, darling," she sang in response. "But you’ll have to resign yourself to the fact that our ways will part."
"Is that so?" he scoffed.
"You can’t expect me to keep leading this poverty-stricken lifestyle," she answered his exclamation. Meanwhile, she was playing with a ring she was wearing, which the Consul had obviously given her that same evening.
"And that we’re engaged doesn’t count? It’s meaningless, is it?"
"Nobody knows that we’re engaged, darling."
She realized that she would have to break this union with cleverness and skill. She threw her arms around his neck and pulled him to the sofa.
"You have to be reasonable, Heinrich. What good will it do if we both languish in poverty! Once I’m the Lady Consul, I will promote you and get you connections that we could never make alone. You will continue to accompany me. Your name will be mentioned in connection to mine, with that of the Lady Consul Waldeck. Just imagine how much that will promote you!"
This was Erna Setten through and through.