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Wittels, F. (1951). Ordeal. Am. Imago, 8(1):29-34.

(1951). American Imago, 8(1):29-34


Fritz Wittels

This story is a translation of one written in 1908 and published in Vienna by the late Dr. Fritz Wittels shortly after his first meeting with Freud. The story is in the style of an ancient German folk tale and is believed to be of historic interest in that it is perhaps the first work of fiction to be inspired by the newly developing science in which the author became so eminent a student.

Hadmar Von Hornsberg had been brought up at his uncle's castle, for his mother was dead and his father was a warrior who could not be burdened with the care of a child. When Hadmar was nearing manhood it happened one day that in passing through a narrow gallery he came upon his cousin Gertrud.

As children the two had romped and played together. But in time she had come to cast down her eyes while he was unabashed. This had brought on coolness between them. Now, as they met in the small gallery and the maiden sought to glide past him, Hadmar impulsively took her in his arms and kissed her.

The effect of that kiss seemed inexplicable.

Gertrud pushed her cousin back in utter loathing and as in mortal fear rushed down the stairs to the inner yard. There, on the lawn, she collapsed. When Hadmar hurried to her side her body was writhing so in pain that he cried for help, whereupon servants came and carried her into the women's house.

From that day on Gertrud spoke little and the red of her cheeks faded. Anxiously did she avoid the young knight and hide her face whenever he came by unexpectedly. Hadmar for his part could not guess how it was that one kiss could have had so deep an effect. But as he saw how she suffered he sensed that he had somehow sinned against her, and tried more than once to gain her forgiveness.

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