How describe the unfortunate Littegarde's horror when she got up, on hearing the noise at the door, from the straw that had been put down for her, her bosom half exposed and her hair disheveled, and instead of the expected warder saw her noble friend, the Chamberlain, enter her cell on Berta and Kunigunde's arms, a melancholy and touching figure on whom the traces of his recent sufferings plainly showed. "Go away!" she cried, throwing herself backward on the covers of her pallet in despair and hiding her face in her hands. "If there is a spark of pity in your bosom, go away!"
"But why, dear Littegarde?" Sir Friedrich said. Leaning on his mother, he crossed the room and bent down, with inexpressible feeling, to take her hand.
"Go away!" she cried, recoiling from him on her knees across the straw. "If you don't want me to go mad, don't touch me! You are an abomination to me; the hottest flames are less dreadful to me than you!"
"Abomination?" Sir Friedrich said in bewilderment. "What has your Friedrich done, my generous-hearted Littegarde, to deserve this greeting?" Here Kunigunde, at a signal from her mother, drew up a chair for him and asked him to remember how weak he was.
"Oh, Jesus!" Littegarde cried, flinging herself down in a frenzy of terror at his feet and pressing her face to the floor. "Leave the room, my darling, and forget me! Let me hug your knees, let me wash your feet with my tears, let me writhe like a worm in the dust before you, only I beseech you to grant me this one merciful favor: leave the room, my lord and master, leave it this instant and forget me!"
Sir Friedrich stood in front of her, shaken through and through. "Do you find the sight of me so unpleasant, Littegarde?" he asked, looking earnestly down at her.
"Dreadful, unbearable, crushing!" she answered, bending forward despairingly on her hands and hiding her face between his feet. "All the horrors of hell are pleasanter for me to look at than the love and kindness beaming at me out of the springtime of your face!"
"Good heavens!" exclaimed the Chamberlain. "What am I to think of such violent remorse? Did the ordeal tell the truth, unhappy woman, after all, and are you guilty of the crime the Count accused you of before the court?"
"Guilty, convicted, and condemned - damned and doomed through time and eternity!" exclaimed Littegarde, beating her breast like a madwoman. "God is truthful and never errs; go, my mind is leaving me and I'm at the end of my strength. Leave me alone with my misery and despair!"
At these words Sir Friedrich fainted away; and while Littegarde covered her head with a veil and lay back upon her bed as though taking leave of the world forever, Berta and Kunigunde, with exclamations of pity, knelt down beside their unconscious brother to revive him. "A curse on you!" cried Helena as the Chamberlain's eyes fluttered open again. "May you suffer eternal remorse this side of the grave, and eternal damnation on the other, not for the guilty deed you now confess to, but for your pitilessness and cruelty in admitting to it only after having dragged my innocent son down with you to destruction! What a fool I am!" she went on, turning contemptuously away from Littegarde.
Heinrich von Kleist
na versão inglesa editada pela The New American Library 1962
com o título de "The marquise of O- and other stories"
e um prefácio de Thomas Mann
(um livro que custou um euro num alfarrabista do Porto)