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Thy Tender Care

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His father was dying.

Franz bent over him, smoothing down his pillow. The old man was muttering something, age and illness having robbed him of the booming voice of Franz’s childhood.

“Father? What do you need?”

“Karl,” groaned out the old man, his voice rough. “Karl, have you come?”

It was the story of their childhood: wherever they might have returned from, Karl, always Karl, was greeted first.

“Karl is a traitor to you.” A young hand clasped a wizened one. “But I am here – your faithful son!” said Franz, wishing to have his father’s greater love, wishing him dead.