The diary of a young gir.., p.18
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       The Diary of a Young Girl, p.18
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           Anne Frank

  I couldn’t refrain from sounding Peter out on the subject, and he instantly replied that Dussel had been lying. You should have seen Peter’s face. I wish I’d had a camera. Indignation, rage, indecision, agitation and much more crossed his face in rapid succession.

  That evening Mr. van Daan and Peter really told Dussel off. But it couldn’t have been all that bad, since Peter had another dental appointment today.

  Actually, they never wanted to speak to each other again.

  WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1944

  Peter and I hadn’t talked to each other all day, except for a few meaningless words. It was too cold to go up to the attic, and anyway, it was Margot’s birthday. At twelve-thirty he came to look at the presents and hung around chatting longer than was strictly necessary, something he’d never have done otherwise. But I got my chance in the afternoon. Since I felt like spoiling Margot on her birthday, I went to get the coffee, and after that the potatoes. When I came to Peter’s room, he immediately took his papers off the stairs, and I asked if I should close the trapdoor to the attic.

  “Sure,” he said, “go ahead. When you’re ready to come back down, just knock and I’ll open it for you.”

  I thanked him, went upstairs and spent at least ten minutes searching around in the barrel for the smallest potatoes. My back started aching, and the attic was cold. Naturally, I didn’t bother to knock but opened the trapdoor myself. But he obligingly got up and took the pan out of my hands.

  “I did my best, but I couldn’t find any smaller ones.”

  “Did you look in the big barrel?”

  “Yes, I’ve been through them all.”

  By this time I was at the bottom of the stairs, and he examined the pan of potatoes he was still holding. “Oh, but these are fine,” he said, and added, as I took the pan from him, “My compliments!”

  As he said this, he gave me such a warm, tender look that I started glowing inside. I could tell he wanted to please me, but since he couldn’t make a long complimentary speech, he said everything with his eyes. I understood him so well and was very grateful. It still makes me happy to think back to those words and that look!

  When I went downstairs, Mother said she needed more potatoes, this time for dinner, so I volunteered to go back up. When I entered Peter’s room, I apologized for disturbing him again. As I was going up the stairs, he stood up, went over to stand between the stairs and the wall, grabbed my arm and tried to stop me.

  “I’ll go,” he said. “I have to go upstairs anyway.”

  I replied that it wasn’t really necessary, that I didn’t have to get only the small ones this time. Convinced, he let go of my arm. On my way back, he opened the trapdoor and once again took the pan from me. Standing by the door, I asked, “What are you working on?”

  “French,” he replied.

  I asked if I could take a look at his lessons. Then I went to wash my hands and sat down across from him on the divan.

  After I’d explained some French to him, we began to talk. He told me that after the war he wanted to go to the Dutch East Indies and live on a rubber plantation. He talked about his life at home, the black market and how he felt like a worthless bum. I told him he had a big inferiority complex. He talked about the war, saying that Russia and England were bound to go to war against each other, and about the Jews. He said life would have been much easier if he’d been a Christian or could become one after the war. I asked if he wanted to be baptized, but that wasn’t what he meant either. He said he’d never be able to feel like a Christian, but that after the war he’d make sure nobody would know he was Jewish. I felt a momentary pang. It’s such a shame he still has a touch of dishonesty in him.

  Peter added, “The Jews have been and always will be the chosen people!”

  I answered, “Just this once, I hope they’ll be chosen for something good!”

  But we went on chatting very pleasantly, about Father, about judging human character and all sorts of things, so many that I can’t even remember them all.

  I left at a quarter past five, because Bep had arrived.

  That evening he said something else I thought was nice. We were talking about the picture of a movie star I’d once given him, which has been hanging in his room for at least a year and a half. He liked it so much that I offered to give him a few more.

  “No,” he replied, “I’d rather keep the one I’ve got. I look at it every day, and the people in it have become my friends.”

  I now have a better understanding of why he always hugs Mouschi so tightly. He obviously needs affection too. I forgot to mention something else he was talking about. He said, “No, I’m not afraid, except when it comes to things about myself, but I’m working on that.”

  Peter has a huge inferiority complex. For example, he always thinks he’s so stupid and we’re so smart. When I help him with French, he thanks me a thousand times. One of these days I’m going to say, “Oh, cut it out! You’re much better at English and geography!”

  Anne Frank

  THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 1944

  Dear Kitty,

  I was upstairs this morning, since I promised Mrs. van D. I’d read her some of my stories. I began with “Eva’s Dream,” which she liked a lot, and then I read a few passages from “The Secret Annex,” which had her in stitches. Peter also listened for a while (just the last part) and asked if I’d come to his room sometime to read more. I decided I had to take a chance right then and there, so I got my notebook and let him read that bit where Cady and Hans talk about God. I can’t really tell what kind of impression it made on him. He said something I don’t quite remember, not about whether it was good, but about the idea behind it. I told him I just wanted him to see that I didn’t write only amusing things. He nodded, and I left the room. We’ll see if I hear anything more!

  Yours, Anne Frank

  FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 1944

  My dearest Kitty,

  Whenever I go upstairs, it’s always so I can see “him.” Now that I have something to look forward to, my life here has improved greatly.

  At least the object of my friendship is always here, and I don’t have to be afraid of rivals (except for Margot). Don’t think I’m in love, because I’m not, but I do have the feeling that something beautiful is going to develop between Peter and me, a kind of friendship and a feeling of trust. I go see him whenever I get the chance, and it’s not the way it used to be, when he didn’t know what to make of me. On the contrary, he’s still talking away as I’m heading out the door. Mother doesn’t like me going upstairs. She always says I’m bothering Peter and that I should leave him alone. Honestly, can’t she credit me with some intuition? She always looks at me so oddly when I go to Peter’s room. When I come down again, she asks me where I’ve been. It’s terrible, but I’m beginning to hate her!

  Yours, Anne M. Frank

  SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 1944

  Dearest Kitty,

  It’s Saturday again, and that should tell you enough. This morning all was quiet. I spent nearly an hour upstairs making meatballs, but I only spoke to “him” in passing.

  When everyone went upstairs at two-thirty to either read or take a nap, I went downstairs, with blanket and all, to sit at the desk and read or write. Before long I couldn’t take it anymore. I put my head in my arms and sobbed my heart out. The tears streamed down my cheeks, and I felt desperately unhappy. Oh, if only “he” had come to comfort me.

  It was past four by the time I went upstairs again. At five o’clock I set off to get some potatoes, hoping once again that we’d meet, but while I was still in the bathroom fixing my hair, he went to see Boche.

  I wanted to help Mrs. van D. and went upstairs with my book and everything, but suddenly I felt the tears coming again. I raced downstairs to the bathroom, grabbing the hand mirror on the way. I sat there on the toilet, fully dressed, long after I was through, my tears leaving dark spots on the red of my apron, and I felt utterly dejected.

  Here’s what was going thro
ugh my mind: “Oh, I’ll never reach Peter this way. Who knows, maybe he doesn’t even like me and he doesn’t need anyone to confide in. Maybe he only thinks of me in a casual sort of way. I’ll have to go back to being alone, without anyone to confide in and without Peter, without hope, comfort or anything to look forward to. Oh, if only I could rest my head on his shoulder and not feel so hopelessly alone and deserted! Who knows, maybe he doesn’t care for me at all and looks at the others in the same tender way. Maybe I only imagined it was especially for me. Oh, Peter, if only you could hear me or see me. If the truth is disappointing, I won’t be able to bear it.”

  A little later I felt hopeful and full of expectation again, though my tears were still flowing—on the inside.

  Yours, Anne M. Frank

  SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 1944

  What happens in other people’s houses during the rest of the week happens here in the Annex on Sundays. While other people put on their best clothes and go strolling in the sun, we scrub, sweep and do the laundry.

  Eight o’clock. Though the rest of us prefer to sleep in, Dussel gets up at eight. He goes to the bathroom, then downstairs, then up again and then to the bathroom, where he devotes a whole hour to washing himself.

  Nine-thirty. The stoves are lit, the blackout screen is taken down, and Mr. van Daan heads for the bathroom. One of my Sunday morning ordeals is having to lie in bed and look at Dussel’s back when he’s praying. I know it sounds strange, but a praying Dussel is a terrible sight to behold. It’s not that he cries or gets sentimental, not at all, but he does spend a quarter of an hour—an entire fifteen minutes—rocking from his toes to his heels. Back and forth, back and forth. It goes on forever, and if I don’t shut my eyes tight, my head starts to spin.

  Ten-fifteen. The van Daans whistle; the bathroom’s free. In the Frank family quarters, the first sleepy faces are beginning to emerge from their pillows. Then everything happens fast, fast, fast. Margot and I take turns doing the laundry. Since it’s quite cold downstairs, we put on pants and head scarves. Meanwhile, Father is busy in the bathroom. Either Margot or I have a turn in the bathroom at eleven, and then we’re all clean.

  Eleven-thirty. Breakfast. I won’t dwell on this, since there’s enough talk about food without my bringing the subject up as well.

  Twelve-fifteen. We each go our separate ways. Father, clad in overalls, gets down on his hands and knees and brushes the rug so vigorously that the room is enveloped in a cloud of dust. Mr. Dussel makes the beds (all wrong, of course), always whistling the same Beethoven violin concerto as he goes about his work. Mother can be heard shuffling around the attic as she hangs up the washing. Mr. van Daan puts on his hat and disappears into the lower regions, usually followed by Peter and Mouschi. Mrs. van D. dons a long apron, a black wool jacket and overshoes, winds a red wool scarf around her head, scoops up a bundle of dirty laundry and, with a well-rehearsed washerwoman’s nod, heads downstairs. Margot and I do the dishes and straighten up the room.

  WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 1944

  My dearest Kitty,

  The weather’s been wonderful since yesterday, and I’ve perked up quite a bit. My writing, the best thing I have, is coming along well. I go to the attic almost every morning to get the stale air out of my lungs. This morning when I went there, Peter was busy cleaning up. He finished quickly and came over to where I was sitting on my favorite spot on the floor. The two of us looked out at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew, the seagulls and other birds glinting with silver as they swooped through the air, and we were so moved and entranced that we couldn’t speak. He stood with his head against a thick beam, while I sat. We breathed in the air, looked outside and both felt that the spell shouldn’t be broken with words. We remained like this for a long while, and by the time he had to go to the loft to chop wood, I knew he was a good, decent boy. He climbed the ladder to the loft, and I followed; during the fifteen minutes he was chopping wood, we didn’t say a word either. I watched him from where I was standing, and could see he was obviously doing his best to chop the right way and show off his strength. But I also looked out the open window, letting my eyes roam over a large part of Amsterdam, over the rooftops and on to the horizon, a strip of blue so pale it was almost invisible.

  “As long as this exists,” I thought, “this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?”

  The best remedy for those who are frightened, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere they can be alone, alone with the sky, nature and God. For then and only then can you feel that everything is as it should be and that God wants people to be happy amid nature’s beauty and simplicity.

  As long as this exists, and that should be forever, I know that there will be solace for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances. I firmly believe that nature can bring comfort to all who suffer.

  Oh, who knows, perhaps it won’t be long before I can share this overwhelming feeling of happiness with someone who feels the same as I do.

  Yours, Anne

  PS. Thoughts: To Peter.

  We’ve been missing out on so much here, so very much, and for such a long time. I miss it just as much as you do. I’m not talking about external things, since we’re well provided for in that sense; I mean the internal things. Like you, I long for freedom and fresh air, but I think we’ve been amply compensated for their loss. On the inside, I mean.

  This morning, when I was sitting in front of the window and taking a long, deep look outside at God and nature, I was happy, just plain happy. Peter, as long as people feel that kind of happiness within themselves, the joy of nature, health and much more besides, they’ll always be able to recapture that happiness.

  Riches, prestige, everything can be lost. But the happiness in your own heart can only be dimmed; it will always be there, as long as you live, to make you happy again.

  Whenever you’re feeling lonely or sad, try going to the loft on a beautiful day and looking outside. Not at the houses and the rooftops, but at the sky. As long as you can look fearlessly at the sky, you’ll know that you’re pure within and will find happiness once more.

  SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 1944

  My dearest Kitty,

  From early in the morning to late at night, all I do is think about Peter. I fall asleep with his image before my eyes, dream about him and wake up with him still looking at me.

  I have the strong feeling that Peter and I aren’t really as different as we may seem on the surface, and I’ll explain why: neither Peter nor I have a mother. His is too superficial, likes to flirt and doesn’t concern herself much with what goes on in his head. Mine takes an active interest in my life, but has no tact, sensitivity or motherly understanding.

  Both Peter and I are struggling with our innermost feelings. We’re still unsure of ourselves and are too vulnerable, emotionally, to be dealt with so roughly. Whenever that happens, I want to run outside or hide my feelings. Instead, I bang the pots and pans, splash the water and am generally noisy, so that everyone wishes I were miles away. Peter’s reaction is to shut himself up, say little, sit quietly and daydream, all the while carefully hiding his true self.

  But how and when will we finally reach each other?

  I don’t know how much longer I can continue to keep this yearning under control.

  Yours, Anne M. Frank

  MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 1944

  My dearest Kitty,

  It’s like a nightmare, one that goes on long after I’m awake. I see him nearly every hour of the day and yet I can’t be with him, I can’t let the others notice, and I have to pretend to be cheerful, though my heart is aching.

  Peter Schiff and Peter van Daan have melted into one Peter, who’s good and kind and whom I long for desperately. Mother’s horrible, Father’s nice, which makes him even more exasperating, and Margot’s the worst, since she takes advantage of my smiling face to claim me for herself, when all I want is to be left alone.

  Peter didn’t join me in
the attic, but went up to the loft to do some carpentry work. At every rasp and bang, another chunk of my courage broke off and I was even more unhappy. In the distance a clock was tolling “Be pure in heart, be pure in mind!”

  I’m sentimental, I know. I’m despondent and foolish, I know that too.

  Oh, help me!

  Yours, Anne M. Frank

  WEDNESDAY, MARCH 1, 1944

  Dearest Kitty,

  My own affairs have been pushed to the background by … a break-in. I’m boring you with all my break-ins, but what can I do when burglars take such pleasure in honoring Gies & Co. with their presence? This incident is much more complicated than the last one, in July 1943.

  Last night at seven-thirty Mr. van Daan was heading, as usual, for Mr. Kugler’s office when he saw that both the glass door and the office door were open. He was surprised, but he went on through and was even more astonished to see that the alcove doors were open as well and that there was a terrible mess in the front office. “There’s been a burglary” flashed through his mind. But just to make sure, he went downstairs to the front door, checked the lock and found everything closed. “Bep and Peter must just have been very careless this evening,” Mr. van. D. concluded. He remained for a while in Mr. Kugler’s office, switched off the lamp and went upstairs without worrying much about the open doors or the messy office.

  Early this morning Peter knocked at our door to tell us that the front door was wide open and that the projector and Mr. Kugler’s new briefcase had disappeared from the closet. Peter was instructed to lock the door. Mr. van Daan told us his discoveries of the night before, and we were extremely worried.

  The only explanation is that the burglar must have had a duplicate key, since there were no signs of a forced entry. He must have sneaked in early in the evening, shut the door behind him, hidden himself when he heard Mr. van Daan, fled with the loot after Mr. van Daan went upstairs and, in his hurry, not bothered to shut the door.

 
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