The Diary of a Young Girl (5 page)

BOOK: The Diary of a Young Girl
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Daddy’s the only one who understands me, now and again, though he usually sides with Mother and Margot. Another thing I can’t stand is having them talk about me in front of outsiders, telling them how I cried or how sensibly I’m behaving. It’s horrible. And sometimes they talk about Moortje and I can’t take that at all. Moortje is my weak spot. I miss her every minute of the day, and no one knows how often I think of her; whenever I do, my eyes fill with tears. Moortje is so sweet, and I love her so much that I keep dreaming she’ll come back to us.

I have plenty of dreams, but the reality is that we’ll have to stay here until the war is over. We can’t ever go outside, and the only visitors we can have are Miep, her husband Jan, Bep Voskuijl, Mr. Voskuijl, Mr. Kugler, Mr. Kleiman and Mrs. Kleiman, though she hasn’t come because she thinks it’s too dangerous.

C
OMMENT ADDED BY
A
NNE IN
S
EPTEMBER
1942:

Daddy’s always so nice. He understands me perfectly, and I wish we could have a heart-to-heart talk sometime without my
bursting instantly into tears. But apparently that has to do with my age. I’d like to spend all my time writing, but that would probably get boring
.

Up to now I’ve only confided my thoughts to my diary. I still haven’t gotten around to writing amusing sketches that I could read aloud at a later date. In the future I’m going to devote less time to sentimentality and more time to reality
.

F
RIDAY
, A
UGUST
14, 1942

Dear Kitty
,

I’ve deserted you for an entire month, but so little has happened that I can’t find a newsworthy item to relate every single day. The van Daans arrived on July 13. We thought they were coming on the fourteenth, but from the thirteenth to sixteenth the Germans were sending out call-up notices right and left and causing a lot of unrest, so they decided it would be safer to leave a day too early than a day too late.

Peter van Daan arrived at nine-thirty in the morning (while we were still at breakfast). Peter’s going on sixteen, a shy, awkward boy whose company won’t amount to much. Mr. and Mrs. van Daan came half an hour later. Much to our amusement, Mrs. van Daan was carrying a hatbox with a large chamber pot inside. “I just don’t feel at home without my chamber pot,” she exclaimed, and it was the first item to find a permanent place under the divan. Instead of a chamber pot, Mr. van D. was lugging a collapsible tea table under his arm.

From the first, we ate our meals together, and after three days it felt as if the seven of us had become one big family. Naturally, the van Daans had much to tell about the week we’d been away from civilization. We were especially interested in what had happened to our apartment and to Mr. Goldschmidt.

Mr. van Daan filled us in: “Monday morning at nine, Mr. Goldschmidt phoned and asked if I could come over. I went straightaway and found a very distraught Mr. Goldschmidt. He showed me a note that the Frank family had left behind. As instructed, he was planning to bring the cat to the neighbors, which I agreed was a good idea. He was afraid the house was going to be searched, so we went through all the rooms, straightening up here and there and clearing the breakfast things off the table. Suddenly I saw a notepad on Mrs. Frank’s desk, with an address in Maastricht written on it. Even though I knew Mrs. Frank had left it on purpose, I pretended to be surprised and horrified and begged Mr. Goldschmidt to burn this incriminating piece of paper. I swore up and down that I knew nothing about your disappearance, but that the note had given me an idea. ‘Mr. Goldschmidt,’ I said, ‘I bet I know what this address refers to. About six months ago a high-ranking officer came to the office. It seems he and Mr. Frank grew up together. He promised to help Mr. Frank if it was ever necessary. As I recall, he was stationed in Maastricht. I think this officer has kept his word and is somehow planning to help them cross over to Belgium and then to Switzerland. There’s no harm in telling this to any friends of the Franks who come asking about them. Of course, you don’t need to mention the part about Maastricht.’ And after that I left. This is the story most of your friends have been told, because I heard it later from several other people.”

We thought it was extremely funny, but we laughed even harder when Mr. van Daan told us that certain people have vivid imaginations. For example, one family living on our square claimed they saw all four of us riding by on our bikes early in the morning, and another woman
was absolutely positive we’d been loaded into some kind of military vehicle in the middle of the night.

Yours, Anne

F
RIDAY
, A
UGUST
21, 1942

Dear Kitty
,

Now our Secret Annex has truly become secret. Because so many houses are being searched for hidden bicycles, Mr. Kugler thought it would be better to have a bookcase built in front of the entrance to our hiding place. It swings out on its hinges and opens like a door. Mr. Voskuijl did the carpentry work. (Mr. Voskuijl has been told that the seven of us are in hiding, and he’s been most helpful.)

Now whenever we want to go downstairs we have to duck and then jump. After the first three days we were all walking around with bumps on our foreheads from banging our heads against the low doorway. Then Peter cushioned it by nailing a towel stuffed with wood shavings to the doorframe. Let’s see if it helps!

I’m not doing much schoolwork. I’ve given myself a vacation until September. Father wants to start tutoring me then, but we have to buy all the books first.

There’s little change in our lives here. Peter’s hair was washed today, but that’s nothing special. Mr. van Daan and I are always at loggerheads with each other. Mama always treats me like a baby, which I can’t stand. For the rest, things are going better. I don’t think Peter’s gotten any nicer. He’s an obnoxious boy who lies around on his bed all day, only rousing himself to do a little carpentry work before returning to his nap. What a dope!

Mama gave me another one of her dreadful sermons this morning. We take the opposite view of everything.
Daddy’s a sweetheart; he may get mad at me, but it never lasts longer than five minutes.

It’s a beautiful day outside, nice and hot, and in spite of everything, we make the most of the weather by lounging on the folding bed in the attic.

Yours, Anne

C
OMMENT ADDED BY
A
NNE ON
S
EPTEMBER
21, 1942:

Mr. van Daan has been as nice as pie to me recently. I’ve said nothing, but have been enjoying it while it lasts
.

W
EDNESDAY
, S
EPTEMBER
2, 1942

Dearest Kitty
,

Mr. and Mrs. van Daan have had a terrible fight. I’ve never seen anything like it, since Mother and Father wouldn’t dream of shouting at each other like that. The argument was based on something so trivial it didn’t seem worth wasting a single word on it. Oh well, to each his own.

Of course, it’s very difficult for Peter, who gets caught in the middle, but no one takes Peter seriously anymore, since he’s hypersensitive and lazy. Yesterday he was beside himself with worry because his tongue was blue instead of pink. This rare phenomenon disappeared as quickly as it came. Today he’s walking around with a thick scarf on because he’s got a stiff neck. His Highness has been complaining of lumbago too. Aches and pains in his heart, kidneys and lungs are also par for the course. He’s an absolute hypochondriac! (That’s the right word, isn’t it?)

Mother and Mrs. van Daan aren’t getting along very well. There are enough reasons for the friction. To give you one small example, Mrs. van D. has removed all but three of her sheets from our communal linen closet. She’s
assuming that Mother’s can be used for both families. She’ll be in for a nasty surprise when she discovers that Mother has followed her lead.

Furthermore, Mrs. van D. is ticked off because we’re using her china instead of ours. She’s still trying to find out what we’ve done with our plates; they’re a lot closer than she thinks, since they’re packed in cardboard boxes in the attic, behind a load of Opekta advertising material. As long as we’re in hiding, the plates will remain out of her reach. Since I’m always having accidents, it’s just as well! Yesterday I broke one of Mrs. van D.’s soup bowls.

“Oh!” she angrily exclaimed. “Can’t you be more careful? That was my last one.”

Please bear in mind, Kitty, that the two ladies speak abominable Dutch (I don’t dare comment on the gentlemen: they’d be highly insulted). If you were to hear their bungled attempts, you’d laugh your head off. We’ve given up pointing out their errors, since correcting them doesn’t help anyway. Whenever I quote Mother or Mrs. van Daan, I’ll write proper Dutch instead of trying to duplicate their speech.

Last week there was a brief interruption in our monotonous routine. This was provided by Peter—and a book about women. I should explain that Margot and Peter are allowed to read nearly all the books Mr. Kleiman lends us. But the adults preferred to keep this special book to themselves. This immediately piqued Peter’s curiosity. What forbidden fruit did it contain? He snuck off with it when his mother was downstairs talking, and took himself and his booty to the loft. For two days all was well. Mrs. van Daan knew what he was up to, but kept mum until Mr. van Daan found out about it. He threw a fit, took the book away and assumed that would be the
end of the business. However, he’d neglected to take his son’s curiosity into account. Peter, not in the least fazed by his father’s swift action, began thinking up ways to read the rest of this vastly interesting book.

In the meantime, Mrs. van D. asked Mother for her opinion. Mother didn’t think this particular book was suitable for Margot, but she saw no harm in letting her read most other books.

“You see, Mrs. van Daan,” Mother said, “there’s a big difference between Margot and Peter. To begin with, Margot’s a girl, and girls are always more mature than boys. Second, she’s already read many serious books and doesn’t go looking for those which are no longer forbidden. Third, Margot’s much more sensible and intellectually advanced, as a result of her four years at an excellent school.”

Mrs. van Daan agreed with her, but felt it was wrong as a matter of principle to let youngsters read books written for adults.

Meanwhile, Peter had thought of a suitable time when no one would be interested in either him or the book. At seven-thirty in the evening, when the entire family was listening to the radio in the private office, he took his treasure and stole off to the loft again. He should have been back by eight-thirty, but he was so engrossed in the book that he forgot the time and was just coming down the stairs when his father entered the room. The scene that followed was not surprising: after a slap, a whack and a tug-of-war, the book lay on the table and Peter was in the loft.

This is how matters stood when it was time for the family to eat. Peter stayed upstairs. No one gave him a moment’s thought; he’d have to go to bed without his dinner. We continued eating, chatting merrily away,
when suddenly we heard a piercing whistle. We lay down our forks and stared at each other, the shock clearly visible on our pale faces.

Then we heard Peter’s voice through the chimney: “I won’t come down!”

Mr. van Daan leapt up, his napkin falling to the floor, and shouted, with the blood rushing to his face, “I’ve had enough!”

Father, afraid of what might happen, grabbed him by the arm and the two men went to the attic. After much struggling and kicking, Peter wound up in his room with the door shut, and we went on eating.

Mrs. van Daan wanted to save a piece of bread for her darling son, but Mr. van D. was adamant. “If he doesn’t apologize this minute, he’ll have to sleep in the loft.”

We protested that going without dinner was enough punishment. What if Peter were to catch cold? We wouldn’t be able to call a doctor.

Peter didn’t apologize, and returned to the loft. Mr. van Daan decided to leave well enough alone, though he did note the next morning that Peter’s bed had been slept in. At seven Peter went to the attic again, but was persuaded to come downstairs when Father spoke a few friendly words to him. After three days of sullen looks and stubborn silence, everything was back to normal.

Yours, Anne

M
ONDAY
, S
EPTEMBER
21, 1942

Dearest Kitty
,

Today I’ll tell you the general news here in the Annex. A lamp has been mounted above my divan bed so that in the future, when I hear the guns going off, I’ll be
able to pull a cord and switch on the light. I can’t use it at the moment because we’re keeping our window open a little, day and night.

The male members of the van Daan contingent have built a very handy wood-stained food safe, with real screens. Up to now this glorious cupboard has been located in Peter’s room, but in the interests of fresh air it’s been moved to the attic. Where it once stood, there’s now a shelf. I advised Peter to put his table underneath the shelf, add a nice rug and hang his own cupboard where the table now stands. That might make his little cubbyhole more comfy, though I certainly wouldn’t like to sleep there.

Mrs. van Daan is unbearable. I’m continually being scolded for my incessant chatter when I’m upstairs. I simply let the words bounce right off me! Madame now has a new trick up her sleeve: trying to get out of washing the pots and pans. If there’s a bit of food left at the bottom of the pan, she leaves it to spoil instead of transferring it to a glass dish. Then in the afternoon when Margot is stuck with cleaning all the pots and pans, Madame exclaims, “Oh, poor Margot, you have so much work to do!”

Every other week Mr. Kleiman brings me a couple of books written for girls my age. I’m enthusiastic about the
Joop ter Heul
series. I’ve enjoyed all of Cissy van Marxveldt’s books very much. I’ve read
The Zaniest Summer
four times, and the ludicrous situations still make me laugh.

BOOK: The Diary of a Young Girl
13.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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