The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth:
Twice a month he received obedient letters from his child. Once a month he replied in two brief sentences, on small, thrifty scraps torn from the respectful margins of the letters he had gotten. Once a year, on the eighteenth of August, the Kaiser’s birthday, he donned his uniform and drove to the nearest garrison town. Twice a year his son visited him, during Christmas break and summer vacation. On every Christmas Eve the boy was handed three hard silver guldens, for which he had to sign a receipt and which he could never take along. That same evening, the guldens landed in a cashbox inside the old man’s chest. Next to the guldens lay the report cards. They testified to the son’s thorough diligence and his middling but always adequate capacities. Never was the son given a toy, never an allowance, never a book, aside from the required schoolbooks. He did not seem deprived. His mind was neat, sober, and honest. His meager imagination provided him with no other wish than to get through the school years as fast as possible.