Then your mother lied on her death-bed,...

Facing Death

Monsieur Durand

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Then your mother lied on her death-bed, just as she had done all through her life. And that's the curse that has been following me like a spook. Think how you have innocently tortured me with these two lies for so many years! I didn't want to put disquiet into your young lives which would result in your doubting your mother's goodness. That's why I kept silent. I was the bearer of her cross throughout our married life; carried all her faults on my back, took all the consequences of her mistakes on myself until at last I believed that I was the guilty one. And she was not slow, first to believe herself to be blameless, and then later the victim. "Blame it on me," I used to say, when she had become terribly involved in some tangle. And she blamed and I bore! But the more she became indebted to me, the more she hated me, with the limitless hatred of her indebtedness. And in the end she despised me, trying to strengthen herself by imagining she had deceived me. And last of all she taught you children to despise me, because she wanted support in her weakness. I hoped and believed that this evil but weak spirit would die when she died; but evil lives and grows like disease, while soundness stops at a certain point and then retrogrades. And when I wanted to change what was wrong in the habits of this household, I was always met with "But mother said," and therefore it was true; "Mother used to do this way," and therefore it was right. And to you I became a good-for-nothing when I was kind, a miserable creature when I was sensitive, and a scamp when I let you all have your way and ruin the house.

August Strindberg, Facing Death, http://www.one-act-plays.com/dramas/facing_death.html

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