Sophie rubbed the sleep from her eyes. She tried to remember what had happened the night before. But it was all like jumbled pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. One of tdefi land solanahe pieces was Alberto, another was Hilde and the major. A third was Berkeley, a fourth Bjerkely. The blackest piece of all was the violent storm. She had practically been in shock. Her mother had rubbed her dry with a towel and simply put her to bed with a cup of hot milk and honey. She had fallen asleep immediately.
"In many senses, the Baroque period was characterized by vanity or affectatethereum blockchain feesion. But at the same time a lot of people were concerned with the other side of the coin; they were concerned with the ephemeral nature of things. That is, the fact that all the beauty that surrounds us must one day perish.""It's true. It is sad to realize that nothing lasts."
"You think exactly as many people did in the seventeenth century. The Baroque period was also an age of conflict in a political sense. Europe was ravaged by wars. The worst was the Thirty Years' War which raged over most of the continent from 1618 to 1648. In reality it was a series of wars which took a particular toll on Germany. Not least as a result of the Thirty Years' War,France gradually became the dominant power in Europe.""What were the wars about?""To a great extent they were wars between Protestants and Catholics. But they were also about political power.""More or less like in Lebanon.""Apart from wars, the seventeenth century was a time of great class differences. I'm sure you have heard of the French aristocracy and the Court of Versailles. I don't know whether you have heard much about the poverty of the French people. But any display of magnificence presupposes a display of power. It has often been said that the political situation in the Baroque period was not unlike its art and architecture. Baroque buildings were typified by a lot of ornate nooks and crannies. In a somewhat similar fashion the political situation was typified by intrigue, plotting, and assassinations."
"Wasn't a Swedish king shot in a theater?""You're thinking of Gustav III, a good example of the sort of thing I mean. The assassination of Gustav III wasn't until 1792, but the circumstances were quite baroque. He was murdered while attending a huge masked ball."The question was so huge and so terrifying that Hilde tried to forget it again. She would probably understand much more as she read further in her father's birthday book.
"Happy birthday to you ...," sang her mother when they were done with their ice cream and Italian strawberries. "Now we'll do whatever you choose.""I know it sounds a bit crazy, but all I want to do is read my present from Dad.""Well, as long as he doesn't make you completely delirious.""No way."
"We could share a pizza while we watch that mystery on TV.""Yes, if you like."
Hilde suddenly thought of the way Sophie spoke to her mother. Dad had hopefully not written any of Hilde's mother into the character of the other mother? Just to make sure, she decided not to mention the white rabbit being pulled out of the top hat. Not today, at least."By the way," she said as she was leaving the table."What?""I can't find my gold crucifix anywhere."
Her mother looked at her with an enigmatic expression."I found it down by the dock weeks ago. You must have dropped it, you untidy scamp.""Did you mention it to Dad?""Let me think ... yes, I believe I may have."
"Where is it then?"Her mother got up and went to get her own jewelry case. Hilde heard a little cry of surprise from the bedroom. She came quickly back into the living room.
"Right now I can't seem to find it.""I thought as much."
She gave her mother a hug and ran upstairs to her room. At last--now she could read on about Sophie and Alberto. She sat up on the bed as before with the heavy ring binder resting against her knees and began the next chapter.Sophie woke up the next morning when her mother came into the room carrying a tray loaded with birthday presents. She had stuck a flag in an empty soda bottle."Happy birthday, Sophie!"Sophie rubbed the sleep from her eyes. She tried to remember what had happened the night before. But it was all like jumbled pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. One of the pieces was Alberto, another was Hilde and the major. A third was Berkeley, a fourth Bjerkely. The blackest piece of all was the violent storm. She had practically been in shock. Her mother had rubbed her dry with a towel and simply put her to bed with a cup of hot milk and honey. She had fallen asleep immediately."I think I'm still alive," she said weakly."Of course you're alive! And today you are fifteen years old."
"Are you quite sure?""Quite sure. Shouldn't a mother know when her only child was born? June 15, 1975 ... and half-past one, Sophie. It was the happiest moment of my life."
"Are you sure it isn't all only a dream?""It must be a good dream to wake up to rolls and soda and birthday presents."
She put the tray of presents on a chair and disappeared out of the room for a second. When she came back she was carrying another tray with rolls and soda. She put it on the end of the bed.It was the signal for the traditional birthday morning ritual, with the unpacking of presents and her mother's sentimental flights back to her first contractions fifteen years ago. Her mother's present was a tennis racket. Sophie had never played tennis, but there were some open-air courts a few minutes from Clover Close. Her father had sent her a mini-TV and FM radio. The screen was no bigger than an ordinary photograph. There were also presents from old aunts and friends of the family.
Presently her mother said, "Do you think I should stay home from work today?""No, why should you?""You were very upset yesterday. If it goes on, I think we should make an appointment to see a psychiatrist.""That won't be necessary."
"Was it the storm--or was it Alberto?""What about you? You said: What's happening to us, little one?"
"I was thinking of you running around town to meet some mysterious person ... Maybe it's my fault." "It's not anybody's 'fault' that I'm taking a course in philosophy in my leisure time. Just go to work. School doesn't start till ten, and we're only getting our grades and sitting around.""Do you know what you're going to get?" "More than I got last semester at any rate."
Not long after her mother had gone the telephone rang."Sophie Amundsen."
"This is Alberto.""Ah.""The major didn't spare any ammunition last night.""What do you mean."
"The thunderstorm, Sophie.""I don't know what to think."
"That is the finest virtue a genuine philosopher can have. I am proud of how much you have learned in such a short time.""I am scared that nothing is real."
"That's called existential angst, or dread, and is as a rule only a stage on the way to new consciousness.""I think I need a break from the course."