Johann 'Hanno' Buddenbrook 4

And between two wars, little Johann, with his soft wavy hair and his pleated pinafores, quietly and innocently plays beside the fountain in his garden or up on the “balcony”, created especially for him by the addition of a little row of columns on the third-floor landing – a four year old at play. His games have a deeper meaning and fascination that adults can no longer fathom and require nothing more than three pebbles, or a piece of wood with a dandelion helmet, perhaps; but above all they require only the pure, strong, passionate, chaste, still-untroubled fantasy of those happy years when life still hesitates to touch us, when neither duty nor guilt dares lay a hand upon us, when we are allowed to see, hear, laugh, wonder and dream without the world’s demanding anything in return, when the impatience of those whom we want so much to love has not yet begun to torment us for evidence, some early token, that we will diligently fulfill our duties. Ah, it will not be long, and all that will rain down upon us in overwhelming, raw power, will assault us, stretch us, cramp us, drill us, corrupt us.