Great German Short Stories

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Table of contents :
Georg Büchner - Lenz : 17
Adalbert Stifter - Brigitta : 48
Heinrich von Kleist - The Earthquake in Chile : 114
Gottfried Keller - A Little Legend of the Dance : 131
Hugo von Hofmannsthal - A Tale of the Cavalry : 138
Georg Heym - The Autopsy : 149
Rainer Maria Rilke - Gym Period : 153
Thomas Mann - "Gladius Dei" : 160
Franz Kafka - In the Penal Colony : 179
Robert Walser - A Village Tale : 210
Gottfried Benn - The Conquest : 213
Ilse Aichinger - The Bound Man : 224
Heinrich Böll - The Man with the Knives : 239
Heinz Huber - The New Apartment : 251
Hans Erich Nossack - The Meeting in the Hallway : 262
Gerd Gaiser - The Game of Murder : 270
Wolfgang Hildesheimer - A World Ends : 278

Citation preview


Great German Short Stories Edited and introduced by

Stephen Spender

Thomas Mann

Franz Kafka

Rainer Maria Rilke Heinrich von Kleist Gottfried

Gerd Gaiset

Gottfried Kelle/V

Hugo von Hof manrtsthal /

Bonn 'Heinrich Boell


seven others

Georg BuechDer



Digitized by

tine in

Internet Arciiive






between the healthy and the

one which seems to take place


in the soul of nearly every if



not of every German," writes Stephen

Spender in

his Introduction. "It




subjectivity, objectivity, romanticism, a very

imposed even

classicism, consciousness of 'nature'



secondary, being either symp-

toms or cure of a shared German


STEPHEN SPENDER, one of England's most distinguished and well-known men of letters, is now editor of the magazine Encounter.


has published nine volumes of

poetry as well as

collected poems, 1928judge was writ-

1953. His play trial of a ten in

1938. Criticism includes

FROM liberalism (1937) and

forward and


THE poet (1942). A novel, engaged in writing (1958), is Spender's most recent publication.


2 -


Laurel Great Short Stories

Great American Short Stories Edited by Wallace and



Great English Short Stories Edited by Christopher Isherwood

Great Russian Short Stories Edited by Morris Houghton

Great Italian Short Stories Edited by P.



Short Story Masterpieces Edited by Robert Penn Warren and Albert Erksine

Great German

Short Stories Edited and introduced by

Stephen Spender

Published by



750 Third Avenue 17, N.Y.

New York


Copyright, 1960, by Stephen Spender


® TM,

Dell Pubhshing Co., Inc.

All rights reserved

Designed and produced by Western Printing & Lithographing Company First printing



Printed in U.S.A.


The following selections in this anthology are reproduced by permission of the authors, their agents or their publishers:

"Lenz" by Georg Büchner translator,



reprinted by permission of the


"The Earthquake in Chile" by Heinrich von Kleist is reprinted by permission of Criterion Books, Inc., and of the translator, Michael Hamburger.



Legend of the Dance" by Gottfried





Published 1929 by E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc. Reprinted by permission of E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., and of J. M. Dent and Sons Ltd.

"A Tale


Hugo von Hoffmannsthal, from Hugo von Hoffmannsthal. Bollingen

the Cavalry" by




XXXIII, Bollingen Foundation,

Reprinted by permisand Routledge & Kegan


sion of the Bollingen Foundation, Inc.,

Paul Ltd.

"The Autopsy" by Georg Heym


reprinted by permission of

the translator, Michael Hamburger.


Period" by Rainer Maria Rilke, from



PIECES by Rainer Maria




printed by permission of the translator, Carl Niemeyer, and of Insel-Verlag.

"Gladius Dei" by Thomas Mann, from STORIES OF THREE DECADES by Thomas Mann. Copyright, 1930, 1931, 1934, 1935, 1936, by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., and of Martin Seeker & Warburg Ltd. "In a Penal Colony" by Franz Kafka, from THE PENAL COLby Franz Kafka. Copyright 1948 by Schocken Books, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Schocken Books, Inc., and of Martin Seeker & Warburg Ltd.


"A Village Tale" by Robert Walser. Published in German Life and Letters (October 1958), XII, 1. Reprinted by permission of the translator, Christopher Middleton, and of Verlag Helmut Kossodo.

"The Conquest" by

Gottfried Benn. Reprinted by permission of the translator, Christopher Middleton, of New Directions, and of Limes Verlag.

"The Bound Man" by Use of The Noonday Press, and

Aichinger. Reprinted by permission of Martin Seeker & Warburg Ltd.

"The Man with the Knives" by Heinrich Boll. Reprinted by permission of Marie Rodell and Joan Daves, Literary Agents, and the author.

"The New Apartment" by Heinz Huber. Reprinted by permission of the author.

"The Meeting in the Hallway" by Hans Erich Nossaek. PubThe New Statesman, September 12, 1959. Reprinted by permission of The New Statesman, and of the translator, Christolished in

pher Middleton.

"The Game sion of Carl

Murder" by Gerd Gaiser. Reprinted by permisHanser Verlag and the author.


"A World Ends" by Wolfgang Hildesheimer, from LIEBLOSE


by Wolfgang Hildesheimer. Reprinted by permis-

sion of Deutsche Verlags.







Translated by

Goronwy Rees




Translated by Ilsa Barea



The Earthquake in Chile 114 Translated by Michael Hamburger



Legend of the Dance Translated by M. D. Hottinger Little




Tale of the Cavalry

Translated by James




(1887-1912) The Autopsy 149 Translated by Michael Hamburger





Translated by Carl Niemeyer

THOMAS MANN "Gladius Dei"



Translated by H. T. Lowe-Porter

FRANZ KAFKA In the Penal Colony Translated by

(1883-1924) 179

Edwin and Willa Muir


Village Tale



Translated by Christopher Middleton



The Conquest 213 Translated by Christopher Middleton


221 )


224 Translated by Eric Mosbacher


(1914239 Translated by Richard Graves




with the Knives


(1922) Apartment 251 Translated by Christopher Holme





The Meeting in the Hallway 262 Translated by Christopher Middleton


(1908The Game of Murder 270 Translated by H. M. Waidson


WOLFGANG HILDESHEIMER (1916) World Ends 278 Translated by Christopher Holme


Introduction BY STEPHEN SPENDER American and English readers of Kafka's The



appeared in the magnificent translation of Edwin and Willa Muir in the late 1920's, were as astonished by a new and unexplored world of human experience as was Keats readmg Chapman's Homer, gazing "silent upon a peak in Darien." This astonishment was partly due to Kafka's great originality. But just as the epithet "Kafkaish" is used to describe a good many things that have happened since 1918, so it also casts a shadow backward. The reader of the present anthology may see a good deal in Büchner's "Lenz" and Kleist's "The Earthquake in Chile" which is also Kafkaish. Büchner and Kleist are strange and compelling writers with a very special vision of the world which has the power to hypnotize the reader into thinking, not perhaps "this is the truth," but "this is a disturbing but justifiable way of lookit first

ing at things."

One might even

say that since Goethe (and there was before him) German literature is comparable to a match between Goethe and "the rest." Goethe had some such feeling himself during his lifetime, when he dismissed Hölderlin, Kleist, and the playwright Lenz (who is the original of Büchner's story of that name) as being too sub-



and unhealthy. Yet if I had space to include Goethe's own early novella Werther in this selection, it would come down on the side of the subjective and unhealthy, with Büchner and Kleist. The struggle between the healthy and unhealthy is one which seems to take place in the soul of nearly every German writer, if not of every German. It is basic, and subjective




objectivity, romanticism, a very



cism, consciousness of "nature" even, are all secondary, being either symptoms or cure of a shared German illness.




substitute for the idea of



this illness



symptoms or cure, that of diagself -cured, Büchner and Kleist are

Goethe is the great whose symptoms make Goethe's health look hypocritical. Kafka and before him Nietzsche is the diagnostician, the question of whose own personal health or illhealth is irrelevant. The charts on which he demonstrates nosis.

the sick


but our condition, are too serious, too accusthem as evidence of his own ill-health. In the story "In the Penal Colony" our whole modern history, with Auschwitz, Dachau, and the slave camps of the Arctic circle, has been melted down by a nightmarish and perhaps sick imagination into a reasonableness beyond the comprehension of intellect or feeling, and is used to prophesy a reality that has been demonstrated during the past thirty years by the millions of victims of the "apparatus." Kafka's achievement has probably done more than any not his

ing for us to discuss

make us see that writers like Büchner and Kleist do more than express a particular kind of German roman-

other to ticism.

Today we

see that they are prophets



events that have overtaken us.




a special

Today we

German see that

contribution to it



much more


Germany and Germans. It reaches out to Europe, and beyond Europe to America and the world. It foresees the historic events in the twentieth century, and it describes the alienation of the modern individual from the society in which he lives. Today one can read a story like "Lenz" as though one were reading news about ourselves. All the same, the fact that these stories no longer seem pigeonholed in a part of our culture labelled "German" does not prevent their being very different from what we think of as French, Russian or English models of the short story. I say "models" deliberately, because I think we have




mind a model of the short story as an art form, based on Chekhov, Maupassant, Hemingway and Katherine in our


Our idea of the "model" is that the short story should be not so much a microcosm of a view of the whole of life, as a segment, a section, of experience in which all the details are perfectly co-ordinated. story of Chekhov or Hemingway perhaps implies much more than it says, but it does not


more than it says. The German story, unless it is mere anecdote or fragment of observation, attempts to reflect a whole view of life. It tends to be an extended parable. Thus where in France or England or America the tendency is to cut the contain

material of the story down to the proportions of the section of experience not to tell more about a character than is necessary for the purposes of that story among German

writers the tendency


the reverse. one would deny that Thomas is



a great


Although there would be general agreement that his stories are masterpieces, from a French or English point of view they seem scarcely artistic. They contain feeling and material which a French or English story-teller, in the manner of Chekhov, would leave out. Above all they contain, often in the forefront of the story,

Thomas Mann

himself, the

bourgeois who became an artist but who does not trust and is not trusted by either his forefathers and relations in Hanseatic Lübeck or the long-haired, bow-tied chattering cHques of the studios and cafes in Paris, Berlin, or Munich. Unfortunately, copyright arrangements do not allow me to select "Childhood and Early Sorrow," my favorite Mann story, or indeed any of the half-dozen famous ones. However, these are probably familiar to many readers of this selection of German stories. So perhaps there is advantage in choosing the lesser known "Gladius Dei." This story is certainly an outstanding example of Mann's magic. The figure from Savonarola's Florence who appears in the Munich art shop to rebattle the contemporary art-mongers, is a puppet and yet one which works. He is palpably unreal



and yet his denunciations have a kind of devilish reality which points forward to the burning of the books by Storm Troopers a generation after the story was written. Similar procedures are evident in the stories here by Büchner, Kleist and Stifter. Lenz was a real person, and his historic existence is the frame for Büchner's magical evocation of an unknowable yet somehow true world of delusions. "The Earthquake in Chile" is also an historically real setting for Kleist's

powerful nightmare narrative. In


buud-up of the historic Polish background and atmosphere is impressive. Even Hofmannsthal in his "A Tale of the Cavalry" puts a story that is rich and strange in


a firm historic setting.

One might hazard


few guesses

to authentic circumstances in the

presenting views of think of as realism. tale,




reasons for this appeal story as a way of



The German

often far from what story



legend, parable. But to say this only describes;

plains nothing.

The explanation may



fairy it


deeper in the tug-

of-war between eastern and western European consciousness, health and unhealth, the search for identity both of the group and of the individual which are realities of German geography and history. And these very real circumstances, this precarious tension, result in a sense of the unreality of experiences themselves. In a strongly determined environment, people lead mysterious and fated lives. Nothing of course demonstrates this more completely than the military life which always remains io the background of the most innocent German tale. The army surrounds the individual with iron circumstances, but beyond war and discipline, there is the mystery of death. Nature, women and family tend to become dreamlike and idealized. It is a consequence then of the German writer's attempt to describe a dream of life and love and death within grappling circumstances, that the long story is a more suitable form for him than the vignette or sketch. One of my problems has been to indicate the length of the German story without making the selection itself overlong. To be repre-


Introduction sentative,


would have to be very long indeed. So



tried only to suggest the scale of masterpieces not here included (Mörike's Mozart on the Journey to Prague, Novalis, Brentano, Eichendorff) by including three very long stories (by Büchner, Kleist, and Kafka) and one short novel by Adalbert Stifter.

The inclusion of Stifter's Brigitta is justified, I think, by a requirement of an anthology: that it should contain some material with which most readers are unfamiliar. I hope that many readers will share my delight in a writer whose clarity and purely natural vision place him close to the Turgenev of A Sportsman's Sketches. In the dichotomy health-unhealth of German writing, Stifter (who was an Austrian) is on the side of health, though his narrative of a woman profoundly unloved because she is in some absolute sense completely ugly, has an ambiguousness that reflects that dichotomy. I have mentioned that Stifter is crystalline like the eariy Turgenev. He also has an insight into evil deeper than his explicit denoue-

ment, which recalls Hawthorne. Gottfried Benn falls more dubiously on the side of health and strength in his exaltation of natural ecstasy. But Rainer


Rilke's inconclusive autobiographical sketch takes us

to the heart of sickness as to the stijff-petaled

rose of the



at the heart of the

military academy.


remarkable phenomenon which I have tried to illusis the recent development of the short story in Germany. It may seem that with stories by Use Aichinger, Heinrich Boll, Gerd Gaiser, Hans Erich Nossack and Wolfgang Hildesheimer, I have disproportionately overweighted this selection with these immediate contemporaries; but I think the risk of doing so is justified partly by their extraortrate here

dinary interest and merit, and partly by the fact that these are short stories in a sense in which there have been disproportionately few in previous German literature. They bring us back once more to Kafka, both in the influence preceptible in Use Aichinger, and in the short, pregnant, compact form of which he invented examples for other German



But although they show traditional influences, these very much of today. The stories of Boll and Gaiser are perhaps the most significant German writing


stories are

since the war.

A word

about the translators.

selection I thought that


most of the


began making


translations, especially

of past works, would be old ones. In fact, they have all been made in the past thirty years, and most of them are very recent indeed. At a time when translating has come to be regarded as a contribution to the language translated into as well as an interpretation of that translated from, this

anthology can be looked on as a selection from the work of some of the most distinguished English and American, as well as German, writers.

Great German

Short Stories

GEORG BÜCHNER (1814-1837) Büchner


probably best known today for Woyzeck, that

macabre, pitying and beautiful study of a near-imbecile

German army, on which Alban Berg based Dead at the age twenty-three, Büchner was as great a loss to German

private in the

the libretto of his great opera, Wozzeck. of

he was a medibut unlike him he was a keen supporter of radical politics, and was founder of a society supporting the rights of man (Gesellschaft der Menschenrechte). literature as Keats to English. Like Keats,

cal student,

Michael Hamburger has written the following note to explain the circumstances surrounding "Lenz": "Lenz" the only short story






have been written by

earliest record of his interest in this sub-

ject is a letter to his family of

October, 1835, in which he

informs them of his intention to write an essay on Lenz. Like Dantons Tod and Woyzeck, "Lenz"

is based on facwere a diary kept by Oberlin in 1778 and a French biography of Oberlin, both of which were published by friends of Büchner's in 1831. Although "Lenz" was left unfinished when Büchner

tual evidence. Büchner's sources

died in 1837, he wrote


in Strasbourg in 1836, certainly

before Woyzeck, possibly before Leonce

und Lena. Apart

gap which we can fill in from Büchner's sources, it is unlikely that he would have substantially changed or emended his story. The unusual narrative style, with its repetitions, ellipses and colloquialisms, is wholly in accordance with his general principles and with

from a



GEORG BÜCHNER the peculiar subject of this story, a subject wholly beyond the scope of contemporary writers of fiction. Among other things,

Büchner was a

brilliant scientist;

in Lenz, a playwright, was not so pathetic.




but his interest sym-

scientific as

esthetic principles of Lenz,

Sturm und Drang

ers of the


school, link

and other


up with Büch-

innovations, but especially with his creation of

a poetic realism which combines the accurate documentation of facts with an imaginative interpretation of character.


esthetic theories

propounded by the Lenz


Biichner's story are adapted from the theoretical writings

of Lenz himself, such as the following passage from his

But since the world has Anmerkungen zum Theater: ". no bridges and we have to content ourselves with the things that are there, we do at least feel an accretion to .


our existence, happiness, by re-creating its Creation on a small scale." Biichner's Lenz says almost the same thing. Büchner applied the same principle to "Lenz"; but in spite of his modest ambition to re-create, rather than to invent, he invariably improves on his material. Jacob Michael Reinhold Lenz, the subject of this story, was bom in 1751 in the Baltic province of Livonia. His father was a Lutheran pastor and he himself studied theology at Königsberg. After two years of rather lukewarm study, he gave up to become private tutor to the two young Barons von Kleist. In 1771 he traveled with them to Strasbourg, where he met Goethe. When Goethe left for a journey with one of the Kleist brothers, Lenz was introduced to Friederike Brion, Goethe's friend, and fell

in love with her.

He became

notorious as "Goethe's


Four years later, in March, 1776, he arrived at Weimar, where Goethe had now settled. Goethe did his best to be kind to him, but Lenz behaved so eccentrically that he was asked to leave in December of that year. He then visited Goethe's brother-in-law at



Emmendingen, moved PfefEer, and

Colmar, where he stayed with G. C.



then to Switzerland. There he stayed with Christoph

Kaufmann from November, suffered his


1777, to January, 1778,


attack of insanity.

to Oberlin's vicarage in the Steintal



later visited

there with Lisette Ziegler, his fiancee. This



him him

the period

Although Lenz's mental state graduimproved after his removal to Strasbourg, he was

of Biichner's story. ally

taken back to Lithuania in 1779, died near


The gap

into obscurity



in 1792.

in Biichner's story to


occurs just before the end.

which reason

maid was "deathly pale and trembling"

have alluded


why is

the nurse-

that Lenz



made another attempt


out of the window. At this point Oberlin decided

by throwing him-

at suicide

that Lenz could not remain in his house; he sent for two


to act as guards until

Lenz could be removed


Strasbourg, but before their arrival, Lenz attempted to stab himself with a pair of scissors. In the course of the

night he proved too strong for two men; a third was called in, but

Lenz told them that even three would him by

never cope with him. Oberlin managed to calm

kindness and by consenting to pray for his soul. Later that day, Lenz agreed to his removal to Strasbourg left, as



but with the same three




guard him. Biichner's material provided

him with

some of the circumstances; but



the facts and

the descriptions of

landscapes— landscapes seen through the eyes of Lenz—


of Lenz's thoughts


feelings are Biichner's contri-

bution. This synthesis of fact and imagination teristic of



Buchner's works, for he hated Idealism in phi-

losophy and Romanticism in literature. His alternative to these two

dominant trends of

his time


so disturbingly

individual that his works were not appreciated until more than half a century after his death. Since then they have

been admired by writers of every school, from the Natu-


GEORG BÜCHNER ralists to

the Symbolists and Expressionists.





Andreas fragment, shows the unmistakable

of the

prose of this century, such as Hofmanns-

ence of "Lenz."



On January 20th Lenz crossed the mountains. On the summit and the high slopes there was snow; in the valley below gray rock, boulders, green meadows, fir trees. It was cold and damp; water poured over the rocks and streamed across the road. The branches of the fir trees drooped heavily in the damp air. Gray clouds drifted across the sky, packed densely together and then down came the mist and swept thick and damp over the mountain shrubs, lazily, clumsily. He walked on without caring, he didn't notice whether the road was rising or descending. He didn't feel tired at all, only sometimes he felt irritated because he couldn't walk on his hands. At first he felt oppressed as the rocks divided before him, the gray trees shivered in the valley and the mist closed over the mountain slopes and then broke to reveal their gigantic contours; all this weighed down on him, he was searching for something, as for lost dreams, but he found nothing. Everything seemed so small and close and damp; he would have liked to put the world on the stove to dry. He could not understand why it should take him so long to descend a slope, to reach a distant point; he felt as if he ought to be

there in a couple of strides.

But sometimes the wind hurled the clouds into the valand they streamed across the trees; voices spoke on the hills, sometimes echoing like thunder, sometimes breaking out uncontrollably as if in a triumphant chorus to the Uni-


The clouds sprang Sunlight flashed through


upon him like a neighing horse. them and struck its gleaming



sword across the snowfields so that a shining, blinding light struck into the valley and across the plains; or sometimes the storm drove the clouds downward; they opened to reveal a pale blue lake and the wind echoed and came humming upward like a cradle song, a chime of bells, out of the abyss far below and from the tops of the fir trees. A faint crimson streaked the profound blue of the sky and little clouds crossed it on silver wings, and all the mountain peaks, strong and clear, glittered and gleamed across the landscape. And then something tore at his breast, he stood coughing, his body bent forward, eyes and mouth wide open; he wanted to make the storm a part of himself; he stretched himself out as if he might cover the whole earth; he burrowed into the Universe. It was an ecstasy that was also pain. Or sometimes he halted and lay down with his head in the moss and half closed his eyes, and then everything went far away from him, the earth disappeared beneath him, it became small as a wandering star and dipped into the rushing torrent whose clear waters flowed beneath him. But these were only moments; then he rose, sensible, strong and calm, as if a shadow play had passed before him. But now it was all over.

Toward evening he reached the summit, the snow field; from here the road turned down again to the plain in the west. There on the heights he sat down. The evening had grown quieter; the clouds stood firm, unmoving in the sky and as far as the eye could see the mountain peaks stretched away into the distance, the broad slopes falling away from them. Everything was so still, so gray, so mysterious. He felt terribly lonely; he was alone, utterly alone. He wanted to talk to himself but he could not, he scarcely dared to breathe, the bones of his feet cracked like thunder on the road; he had to rest.

became darker; earth and sky melted into one another. seemed as if something were following him, as if something must soon overtake him, something he could not endure, as if madness were huntmg him on horseback. It


Lenz saw

Finally he heard voices, told

him Waldbach was






felt better.

half an hour away.

He went through the village. He looked in as he passed

Lights shone in the winby; children seated at the table, old women, girls, calm serene faces. It seemed as if it were from them that the light came. His spirits rose; soon


he would be in Waldbach, in the pastor's house. They sat around the table, he was with them. His blond hair hung down around his pale face; his eyes blinked, his mouth twitched, his clothes were torn. Oberlin greeted him; he thought he was a workman. "I do not know who you are, but you are welcome here." "I am a friend of Kaufmann's.* He sends you his greetings."



your name please?"


"Oh! Oh! Haven't I seen it in print? Haven't I read a play by someone of that name?" "Yes, but please don't judge me by that." They continued to talk. He struggled for words, spoke rapidly yet in agony; after a little while he became calmer, in the homely room with the quiet faces looking out from the shadows; the bright face of a child, which seemed all light, and looked so eagerly and trustingly, and her mother


sat in the


about his family.


He began to tell them sketches of costumes of all

an angel.

He drew


They crowded round him



to see,

and soon he

felt at

pale and childish his face, laughing now,

He was


peace; for him it was as if figures from the past, forgotten faces, reappeared out of the lively his chatter!


He was far, far away. At length it was time for him to was too small, they took him over shadows.


Because the manse and gave him a

the road

* Christoph Kaufmann (1753-1795) lived at Winterthur, Switzerland, for soiije months. He was the writer of abstruse tracts for the betterment of mankind and a protege of Lavater's. He had made the acquaintance of Lenz at Weimar in 1776 and visited Lenz's relatives in Livonia during a tour of Europe in the following year.

where Lenz stayed with him

(Michael Hamburger)



He went

was cold up bed in the background. He put his candle on the table and walked up and down. He thought of the day now passed, of his journey, where he had come to. The room in the manse with its lights and its dear faces now seemed like a shadow, a dream, and he felt empty within, as he had on the mountain. He could not fill the emptiness; the light had gone out, darkness swallowed everything up, a nameless dread seized hold of him. He sprang to his feet, rushed from the room and down the stairs to the manse. In vain! All was in darkness; there was nothing there for him he was himself a dream. Dis-


in the schoolhouse.

there; the

room was

upstairs. It

large, with a high

connected ideas rushed into his mind. He held fast to them. He felt that he ought to repeat the Lord's Prayer over and over again. He had lost himself; an obscure impulse drove him to save himself. He dashed himself against the stones, tore himself with his nails; the pain brought him to his senses. He rushed into the basin of the fountain, but the water was not deep. He splashed about in it. People collected. They had heard the noise and called out to him. Oberlin ran up. Lenz had come to himself; he knew exactly what he was doing, his attack was over. But he was distressed and angry with himself for causing the good people so much alarm. He told them that he was fond of bathing in cold water, and went up to his room again. The next day went well. He rode with Oberlin through the valley; wide mountain slopes which at a great height shrank into a narrow valley twisting and turning toward the surmnit; great masses of rock spread out below them; not many trees, everything somber and gray; to the west a view over the countryside and of the chain of mountaios running directly north and south, its peaks towering darkly in the solemn silence, like a dream in the twilight. Great masses of light burst out of the valley in a golden flood; then clouds again on the highest peaks, sinking into the valley, and falling in the sun's rays like a silver ghost in the air; no noise, no movement, nQ birds, only the sighing of the wind, sometimes faraway, sometimes near by. Then the rising



bare bones of huts, wooden timbers thatched with straw, dark and somber. Silent and gray, the people greeted him quietly as they passed, as if they did not wish to disturb the peace of the valley. Inside their huts, the people came to life. They pressed upon OberHn. He gave them advice, admonished them, comforted them. In each man's face was a look of trust. They prayed together. They told Oberlin their dreams, premonitions; then he returned to practical matters again, the new road, hedging and ditching, a visit to the school. Oberlin was tireless, and Lenz was his constant companion, sometimes talking, sometimes helping in the work, sometimes lost in nature. The life was good for him, it calmed his spirits. Often he looked into Oberlin's eyes, and in them, and in the noble, serious face, he seemed to come close to the immense peace which meets us in the tranquilhty of nature, in the depths of the forest, in the melting moonlight nights of summer. Lenz was shy, but he talked, expressed his opinions. Oberlin enjoyed these conversations, and Lenz's charming childish looks were a great joy to him. But only so long as there was light in the valley were things bearable to Lenz; as evening drew on a strange anxiety overcame him. He would have liked to follow the sun. As the shadows fell darker and darker, everything became so dreamlike, so alien, that he felt afraid, like a child in the dark; he felt as if he were blind. And then his fear increased, the mountain of madness sprang up at his feet; the despairing idea that everything was a dream opened out before him. He clung to the solidity of objects. Figures swept suddenly by him. He pressed toward them, but they were shadows; life receded from him, numbness crept into his limbs. He talked, sang, recited passages from Shakespeare, grasped at anything that might make his blood run faster; he tried he was cold! cold! But he had to everything, but in vain be in the open air; when his eyes had adjusted themselves to the darkness, the faint radiance dispersed in the night was a comfort to him. He rushed into the streams; the harsh touch of their waters made him feel better. Also he secretly

GEORG BUCHNER hoped that they might make him


ill; when he bathed now he did so without attracting attention. But the more he adapted himself to the life around him, the calmer he became. He helped Oberlin, read the Bible. Old, lost hopes came alive again. The New Testament especially appealed to his new feelings. One morning he went out. According to Oberlin, once an irresistible hand had taken hold of him on the bridge, on the heights a dazzling light had blinded his eyes; he had heard a voice and spoken with it in the night, and God had so completely entered into him that like a child he had taken his fate in his hands and decided what he ought to do. And this faith, this eternal Heaven on earth, this living in God, for the first time brought the Holy Scriptures home to Lenz. How close to

nature these people lived, their lives a holy mystery; but not arrogantly or presumptuously, but like children.

In the morning he went out.

Snow had

fallen during the

night; bright sunshine lay in the valley but in the distance

the landscape was hidden in mist. Soon he left the path and

climbed a gentle slope alongside a pine wood; there was no trace of footprints any more. Crystals shone in the sunlight, the snow was light and dry. Here and there was the spoor of wild animals returning to the mountains. No movement in the air except a soft sighing, or the rustle of a bird shak-

snow flakes from its feathers. Complete stillness, and in the distance the trees raising their waving white branches into the deep blue sky. After a time he became accustomed to his surroundings. The repetitive, overpowering expanses and contours of the mountains, which sometimes seemed to speak to him in a terrible voice, were hidden. A warm feeling, as of Christmas, crept over him; sometimes it seemed to him that his mother would appear, larger than life, from behind a tree, and tell him that all this was her gift to him. As he descended he saw that an arch of sunbeams lay across his shadow; he felt as if something had touched him on the forehead, as if life were speaking to him. He arrived home. Oberlin was in his room; Lenz ing the

— Lenz came

gladly to

him and

said that

one day he would

27 like to


"Have you studied


"Yes." "Excellent; then next Sunday."

Lenz went happily to his room. He meditated on a text for his sermon, was lost in thought, and his nights were quiet. On Sunday a thaw had come. Clouds floating overhead, blue spaces between them. The church was near by, on a spur of the hill, surrounded by the churchyard. Lenz stood watching while the church bells rang, and the congregation came from all directions along the narrow path winding between the rocks; the women and children were in somber black dresses and carried a white folded handkerchief and a sprig of rosemary pressed against their hymnbooks. Sunshine fell across the valley. The mild air stirred lazily, and the countryside was drenched in perfume. In the distance there was the sound of bells; it seemed as if everything had dissolved into a wave of harmony. The snow had gone from the little churchyard; there were dark mosses under the black headstones. Late roses bloomed in the churchyard wall, and late flowers sprang up from under the moss; there were moments of sunshine, then of shadow. The service began; the voices of the congregation united in a bright pure sound. It was like looking into a clear Lenz transparent mountain stream. The hymn died away preached. He was nervous. During the hymn his sense of numbness had completely disappeared. The sense of suffering had come to life and taken possession of his heart. He spoke to them in simple words; they were his fellow sufferers and it was a comfort to him if he could bring rest to eyes tired with weeping and peace to troubled hearts, if he could guide toward Heaven these lives weighed down by material cares and dumb sorrow. When he concluded, he felt stronger; then the voices sang another hymn:

"Wash me wholly in the waters Of the sacred springs of pain;


GEORG BÜCHNER Suffering be Suffering be

all all

my my

worship. gain."

The music, the suffering, pressed upon him, shattered him. The universe was a gaping wound; he felt its deep, indescribable pain. Then it seemed as if a different sphere of existence suddenly opened; a divine tortured mouth bent down to his and touched his lips. He went away to his solitary room. He was alone, so alone! And then the springs of feeling burst out, tears streamed from his eyes, his limbs moved convulsively, he felt as if he would dissolve, that there could be no end to this ecstasy. In the end it passed; he felt a deep, tender sense of pity for himself, he wept over himself, and then at last he fell asleep. The full moon rose in the sky; his hair fell forward over his temples and his face, tears trembled on his eyelashes and dried upon his cheeks. He lay there alone. Everything was peaceful and calm and cold, and the moon shone all through the night and stood over the mountains. The next morning he came down and told Oberlin quietly that in the night his mother had appeared to him. She had stepped out of the dark churchyard wall and had one white rose and one red rose in her bosom; then she had sunk to the ground in a comer, and the roses had grown slowly over her; he said that she was certainly dead. He said it quite calmly. Oberlin said that when his own father had died, he had been alone in a field and had heard a voice speaking to him and so he knew that his father was dead; and when he returned home, so it was. They continued their conversation; Oberlin told him about the people in the mountains, about girls who could divine water and metals under the ground, about men who were attacked on the mountain peaks and wrestled with spirits. He said also that once on the mountains he had been thrown into a kind of trance as a result of staring into a deep, clear mountain pool. Lenz said that the spirit of the pool had entered into him and had revealed to him something of its own unique,

Lenz individual existence.


simplest natures were

more more

this natural






said that the purest, in close touch with the elemental; the

sophisticated men's feelings

and ideas became, the sympathy became blunted. He did not

high in the scale of existence;

ciency, and yet he felt that




must give a sense of endless


be in contact with the individual life of every natuform, to have a soul which shared the existence of stones, metals, water, plants, to make every natural element a part of oneself as in a dream, like flowers which breathe in the air with the waxing and waning of the moon. He pursued the subject further. He said that every form of life had its own inexpressible harmony, a unique note, a particular state of blessedness. The higher forms of life had more organs of perception, of expression, of understanding, and therefore they had deeper roots in reality. In the lower forms everything was more primitive and more undeveloped but therefore they enjoyed a greater measure of tranquillity. He went on but Oberlin broke off the conversation. It went beyond the limits of his simple ideas. At another time he showed Lenz tables of colors and explained that each color corresponded to a particular type of human life. He showed him the Twelve Apostles and explained that each of them had his own particular color. Lenz was interested, developed bliss to


these ideas further, suffered like



deeply in the Bible. At this time Kaufman


Lenz was



dreams and

took to studying the Apocalypse and read


to the Steintal with his wife.

by meeting him; he had worked so hard to make a little place of his own, his tiny measure of peace was so precious to him and now here was someone who reminded him of so many things, who had to be talked to and argued with, and who knew all the circumfirst


life. Oberlin knew nothing about Lenz; he had taken him in, succoured him. Lenz regarded it as a gift from God, sent to comfort him in his misery. He loved Oberlin deeply. And it was right that he should remain

stances of Lenz's



where he was; he belonged to these people, as if he had lived there for years, and no one inquired where he came from or where he might go. At dinner Lenz had recovered his spirits. They discussed literature and he was in his element. Idealism was then in fashion and Kaufmann was a convert to it. Lenz attacked violently. He said that even those poets who claimed to represent reality had very little idea what it was really like, but at least they were preferable to those who pretended


it. God the Father certainly made the world as should be and we were not likely to patch up something better; our only aim should be to copy Him a little. "What

to explain it

I demand of any work of art is life, the possibility that it might really exist, and that is all that matters; it isn't for us to ask whether it's ugly or beautiful. The sense of life in any work is more important than either of these, and it is the only possible criterion of art. But we very seldom find absolutely, in Goethe it; in Shakespeare, in folk songs sometimes. All the rest we can throw on the fire. Such people couldn't even create a dog's kennel. They pretend to create ideal types but all the works of theirs I've seen are more like wooden dummies.



the greatest possible insult to



ought to try it for themselves one day, surrender themselves to even the most limited form of life and try to reproduce its movements, its implications, its subtle, hardly noticeable play of expression. It's something which I have tried myself to do in my plays, in The Tutor and The Soldiers. My characters are the most ordinary creatures in the world, but the organs of feeling are the same in idealists

all men. It's only a question of how thick a crust they have to penetrate. One has to have an eye and an ear for such things. "Yesterday when I was walking in the valley I saw two girls sitting on a rock. One was doing up her hair, the other was helping her. The golden hair was hanging down; she had a pale serious face, very young, and a black dress, and the other was so anxious to help her. The finest, most




intimate pictures of the German Primitives can hardly give one an idea of such a scene as that. Sometimes one wishes one had a Medusa's head, so as to turn a scene like that to stone,

and then

everyone to come and look at it. Then The scene was destroyed, but as between the rocks, they suddenly com-


the two girls stood up.

they walked down posed another picture. The finest paintings, the richest harmonies, first compose a group and then dissolve it. "Only one thing matters; an inexhaustible beauty which passes from one form into another, eternally transformed, yet always the same. We certainly can't transfix it forever and put it iQ a museum and reduce it to a catalogue and then summon old and young to look at it, and lecture to graybeards and babies about it and let them go into ecstasies over it. One has to love all mankind to penetrate the existence of even a single human being; no one must be too mean or too ugly for one. Only then can one understand them. The most ordinary face makes a deeper impression than the mere sensation of beauty. Without copying a single detail from the outside world, it's quite easy to invent ideal types for oneself in which there isn't a spark of life, neither bone nor muscle nor throbbing pulse of the blood."

Kaufmann objected that in the real world one could never find a type corresponding to the Apollo Belvedere or a Raphael Madonna. "What does that matter?" said Lenz. "I must confess that standing before them I feel completely dead. If I make the effort, I can arouse some feeling about them, but it's I who have to do all the work. My favorite poets or painters are those who can represent Nature as she is, so that their work really inspires some feeling in me. Anything else only distresses me. I prefer the Dutch painters to the Italians; indeed they are the only ones I can understand. I know of only two pictures, both of them Dutch, which make the same kind of impression on me as I get from the New Testament. One is of Christ and the it's



young man at Emmaus. I don't know who one reads in the New Testament that the



young man went away, the whole of Nature lies in those few words. It's a gloomy, overcast evening. There's a dull crimson gleam on the horizon and on the road it's almost dark. They see a stranger coming toward them. They walk. He breaks bread with them, and then they recognize him in his simple human form, and the divine suffering of his face becomes plain to them. They are afraid because night has fallen and they are face to face with a mystery. But it's

not the horror of seeing a ghost;




in the twilight

one had met someone now dead whom one had loved, and yet he was just as he had always been. That is just how it is in the picture, with its monotonous brown tone and the melancholy peaceful evening. And then take another picture; a woman sits in her room, a prayerbook in her hand. Everything has been made ready for Sunday, sand strewn on the floor. It is homely, clean and warm. The woman has not been able to go to church but she is following the service by herself. The window is open. She sits facing it, and we feel as if we can hear the chimes of the village bells coming through the window over the flat wide landscape, and the singing of the congregation echoing from the church.

The woman

reads the lesson in her prayerbook."

Lenz continued to talk in this way; they listened to him. Others came and joined them. He was flushed with talking, sometimes he smiled, sometimes he gravely shook his blond hair. He had lost all self -consciousness. After the meal Kaufmann took him aside. He had received a letter from Lenz's father, who said that his son ought to return home and be a support to him. Kaufmann said that Lenz was wasting his life in Steintal, uselessly throwing it away, he ought to make up his mind what he was going to do, and so on. Lenz said, "Leave here? Leave? Go home? To go mad there? You know, I cannot bear to live anywhere except here, in this district. If I couldn't sometimes go up to the mountains and look over the countryside and then return here to this house and walk in the garden and look out of the window I tell you I should go mad! Mad! Leave me in peace! Just a little peace, now that



I'm feeling better! Go away from here? Go away? I don't understand. Those two words make nonsense of the whole

world for me. Everyone makes his own demands on life; but if one can rest, what more can one possibly need? To be always striving, always struggling, throwing away until the end of time what the moment has to offer one, always denying oneself in the hunt after pleasure! Dying of thirst,

when is

clear streams flow at one's feet!




remain here.



Why? Why?



Just because

well here. What does my father want? Can he give me more than I have here? Impossible! Leave me in peace." He became violent. Kaufmann left him. Lenz was overI feel

come by depression. The next day Kaufmann wished

to leave.



Oberlin to join him on a visit to Switzerland. Oberlin yielded because he wished to see Lavater, with whom he had corresponded for a long time. He agreed to go, but they had to wait for another day while he prepared for the journey. Lenz was struck to the heart. His endless torment made him cling desperately to everything around him. Sometimes he felt profoundly that his attempts to cure himself added to his torment. He treated himself like a sick child. There were certain thoughts, overpowering emotions,

which he could only surmount by terrible effort, and even then they only returned to press upon him again with irresistible force. He found his salvation in one image which was always before his eyes, and in Oberlin, whose words and face were wonderfully good for him. So the idea of Oberlin's departure made Lenz feel afraid. It made him feel uneasy that he would be left alone in the house. The weather had grown mild. He decided to accompany Oberlin into the mountains. They parted on the far side, where the valley dropped down into the plain. He walked back alone; on his journey he left the direct route across the mountains. Their broad flanks ran down into the valleys. There were few trees, only the mighty contours of the mountains and beyond them the broad, smoking plain. In the air a great sighing.


sign of





except now and then, clinging to the steep slopes, an empty hut where the shepherds spent the summer. He was at peace, almost in a dream; everything melted into a single

between heaven and earth, like a wave rising and fallfelt as if he were floating on a boundless ocean that gently rose and fell. Then he went on his way, slowly, in a trance, following no path. Darkness had fallen when he arrived at an inhabited hut on the farther slope beyond the Steintal. The door was closed. He looked in at the window, from which came a beam of light. A lamp illuminated only one point of the room; its light fell on the pale face of a girl who lay with half-closed eyes, her lips moving softly. In the shadows sat an old woman who was singing from a hymnbook in a harsh voice. When he had knocked several times, she opened the door. She was half-deaf. She gave Lenz something to eat and showed him a place to sleep, in the meantime continumg to sing. The girl had not moved. After a short time a man entered. He was tall and thin, with the remnants of gray hair and a restless confused expression. He approached the girl; her limbs twitched and she became agitated. He took some dried herbs from the wall and laid a leaf in her hand, and she became calmer and murmured intelligible words in a slow, clear, distinct voice. The man told Lenz he had heard a voice on the mountains and seen sheet lightning break over the valley. Something had attacked him, and he had wrestled with it like Jacob with the angel. Then he threw himself on his knees and prayed softly with great passion, while the girl sang in a slow, long-drawnout voice that gently faded away. Finally the man went to line




dreaming, and in his sleep he heard the tickThe soughing of the wind, sometimes near by, sometimes far away, could be heard through the low singing of the girl and the voices of the old people; the moon threw a shifting light into the room as the clouds passed across its brightness. Sometimes the sounds became quieter. The girl spoke clearly and distmctly. She said that



ing of the clock.



on the rocks across the valley there was a church. Lenz raised his head. The girl was sitting upright at the table, her eyes wide open. The gentle moonlight fell on her face, which seemed to give out an unearthly light. Then the old woman croaked at her, and as the moonlight came and went, Lenz finally fell fast asleep amid the changing sounds and voices. It was early when he woke up. The others were all asleep in the half light of the room. The girl slept quietly. She lay with her hands together under her left cheek. The unearthly look had left her face and now it had an expression of indescribable suffering. Lenz went to the window and opened it. The cold morning air struck him in the face. The hut lay at the head of a deep narrow valley which opened out toward the east. Crimson beams cut across the gray morning sky into the waking valley which was clothed in white mist. The light flashed on the gray stones and struck into the window of the hut. The man awoke. His eyes rested on an illuminated picture on the wall, fixed their gaze on it firmly and rigidly. His lips began to move and he prayed, at first softly and then louder and louder. In the meanwhile other men came into the hut and in silence lay down on the floor. The girl twitched convulsively; the old woman croaked her song and gossiped with the neighbors. They told Lenz that the man had come into the district a long time ago, from no one knew where. He had


could see the water and people came on pilgrimage to him. Lenz also learnt that he was a long way from the Steintal; he left with a party of woodcutters who were going in that direction. It did him good to have company. He had felt uneasy in the presence of that powerful man who at times seemed to speak in a terrible voice. Also he felt afraid of himself when he was alone. He reached home. The past night had made a deep impression on him. The world seemed bright to him, yet he felt within himself an impulse and a turmoil which drove him with irresistible force toward an abyss. And now he the reputation of being a saint.

under the earth, could conjure up




became wholly absorbed

in himself;




and spent

half the night in prayer or in feverish dreams. First there


the sense of an overpowering pressure, and then and exhaustion; he lay in scalding tears. Then


suddenly his strength came back to him and when he arose he was cold and completely detached; his tears felt like ice, he couldn't help laughing at himself. The greater the heights he climbed, the deeper he fell. Everything seemed to rush

He was agitated by memories of his prewhich threw sudden shafts of light into the

together at once.



wild chaos of his mind. By day he usually sat below in Oberlin's room. Madame Oberlin came in and out; he drew, painted, read, grasped at any distraction, hurried from one thing to another. Now he attached himself particularly to Madame Oberlin, sitting there with him in the room, her black hymnbook in her hand, beside one of her indoor plants, the youngest child between her knees. He also spent much of his time with the children. One day he was sitting there when fear suddenly came upon him; he sprang to his feet, walked to and fro. The door was ajar, and he heard the maid singing outside. At first he could not catch the words, and then he heard

them: "In this world I

The words








have no joy, and he has gone.*'

like a

Oberlin watched him.

blow; he nearly fainted.

He made

a violent effort;

unable to remain silent longer, he spoke to her. "Dearest Madame Oberlin, can you tell me what has happened to the lady whose fate hangs upon my heart like lead?" "But, Herr Lenz,


fell silent

Then he began "Look,





nothing about her."

and walked rapidly up and down.


must leave


Oh God! You

are the only



people in the world with whom life is bearable for me, and yet yet I must go, to her but I cannot, I may not." He



left the room. In the evening he returned. It was dark in the room where he sat beside Madame Oberlin. "Look," he began again, "when she simply walked across the room, singing,

violently distressed

was music, she was with a kind of happiness which overflowed into me. I was always at peace when I looked at her or she stretched out her hand to me and oh God, oh God I have not been at peace for so long. She was a child; it was as if the world were too big for her and she shrank into herself. She always found the smallest corner in the whole house and there she sat, as if all her joy were concentrated into that one spot, and so it was for me too. I could have played like a child. And now everything has become so narrow, half to herself, so that her every step filled

— .

so narrow! Look, sometimes

the sky. Oh,







feel as if



my as

hands touched

if I felt

a physi-


arm, the one I sometimes put around her. And yet I can no longer picture what she looked like; her image escapes me, and that tortures me. Only occasionally do I see her quite clearly, and only then do I feel well again," Later he often talked to Madame Oberlin about the girl, but usually in disconnected phrases; she hardly knew how to answer him, and yet she was good for him. In the meanwhile, his religious torment continued. The more he felt cold and empty and dead within, the harder he strugcal pain here in

left side, in

gled to create some internal warmth. He remembered the times when he could hardly contain his feelings, and the pressure of his emotions exhausted him. Yet now he was so dead! He despaired of himself, and then he fell on his but knees, wrung his hands, called forth all his feelings

dead, dead. He besought God to give him a sign, lost himself in self-examination, fasted, lay on the

they were




in a trance. the third of February he heard that a child called

Friederike had died at Fouday.

He became

obsessed by



the thought of it. On the fourth of February, he suddenly entered the room while Madame Oberlin was there; he had smeared his face with ashes and he asked her for an old sack. She was frightened, but gave him what he asked for. He clothed himself in the sack, like a penitent, and took the road to Fouday. The people in the valley had grown

accustomed to him; they told strange stories about him. He went to the house where the dead child lay. The people of the house were going about their ordinary business; they showed him into the room. The child lay on the table, in its nightshirt, on a bed of straw. Lenz trembled as he touched the icy limbs and looked at the half-closed glassy eyes. The child seemed so forsaken, and he was himself so alone, so lonely. He flung himself upon the corpse. Death frightened him; a violent anguish seized upon him. That these features, this peaceful face, should be food for worms! He fell to his knees and prayed in all the agony of despair that God should give him a sign, weak and miserable as he was, and bring this child to life. He became utterly self-absorbed and concentrated all his will on this one single point. He sat motionless for a long time. Then he rose, took the child's hands in his and said in a loud, clear voice, "Stand up and walk." But his words echoed dully back to him from the walls, as if in mockery, and the child remained lifeless. He fell to the floor, almost out of his mind; despair drove him to his feet again and out of the house toward the mountains. Clouds raced rapidly across the moon; at moments everything was in darkness, then the moon suddenly illuminated the half -hidden landscape.


ran wildly, aimlessly; in his

breast Hell sang a paean of triumph.

The wind howled


a chorus of Titans. He felt as if he could raise a giant's fist to the skies and hurl God down and drag him through the clouds, as if he could grmd the world between his teeth and spit it out into its Creator's face. He swore, he blasphemed. He reached the summit of the mountain where the uncertain light fell on the white masses of rock beneath him and the sky was a blue eye from which the silly moon

Lenz stared fixedly.

Lenz could not help laughing out




with his laughter atheism took hold of him, firmly and calmly and certainly. He could not understand why he had been so distressed, and he was frozen with cold. Then he thought that he would like to go to bed. Cold and untroubled, he walked through the unfriendly darkness. Everything felt hollow and empty to him; he broke into a run

and went

to his bed.


he awoke, he was overcome by intense horror at his spiritual condition on the previous day. Now he felt that he stood on the edge of an abyss, and he took an insane delight in gazing into it again and again and in reproducing his torment. As he did so his terror increased; he had come face to face with a sin against the Holy Ghost. Oberlin returned from Switzerland a few days later, sooner than he was expected. It took Lenz by surprise. But he was pleased when Oberlin gave him news of his friends in Alsace. As he talked, Oberlin moved about the room, unpacked, put his clothes away. He talked about Pfeffer, and praised the pleasures of a country pastor's life. Then he advised Lenz to follow his father's wishes, to accept the conditions of his calling and to return home.

"Honor your



and your mother," and so forth. The conversation distressed Lenz profoundly; he sighed deeply, tears came into his eyes, and he spoke incoherently. "Oh! but I cannot bear it. Do you mean to cast me off? You are the only way to God. As for me, all is over. I have sinned, I am damned for all eternity, I am the Wandering Jew." Oberlin said that it was for this that Jesus had died; Lenz should turn ardently to Him and he would share in God's father


Lenz looked up, wrung his hands. "No, no, divine com." Then suddenly he asked, quite naturally, what passion news there was of the lady. Oberlin said he knew nothing .


about her, but that he wanted to help Lenz and give him any advice he could, only Lenz must tell him everything: the time, and the place and the name of the lady concerned. Lenz only answered in broken phrases: "Oh! is she dead?



^I loved her, as Is she still alive? The angel! She loved me the angel! Damnable jealousy! I sacrificed she deserved her she loved someone else I loved her, she deserved dear mother, she loved me too I murdered her." Oberit lin replied that perhaps all these persons were still living, perhaps happily; but however things might be, if Lenz turned to God, then God could and would reply to his

— —

and prayers by showing so much goodness to these people that any harm he might have done. them would be far outweighed by the benefits they would receive through him. After a while Lenz became calmer and went off to his tears


In the afternoon he returned.


his left shoulder


hand a bundle of birch rods, which Oberlin had brought back with him, together with a letter for Lenz. He gave Oberlin the birch rods and asked him to beat him with them. Oberlin took the rods from him, kissed him on the mouth, and said these were the only stripes he had to lay on him. He said that Lenz should be calm, and settle his affairs alone with God, that all the stripes in the world could not make up for a single sin. Only Jesus could take care of sin, and Lenz ought to confide himself to Him. Lenz went away. At supper he was as usual dejected. Yet he talked of many things, hurriedly and nervously. At midnight Oberlin was awakened by a noise. Lenz ran through the courtyard and in a harsh, hollow voice shouted the name Friederike, carried a piece of fur and in his

He rushed into the basin of the fountain, splashed about in it, came out and went up to his room, then came down again and into the fountain, and so on several times. Then at last he became quiet. The maid who slept in the nursery beneath his room said that she often heard a kind of whining noise which she could only compare with the skirl of a bagpipe but that night especially she had heard it. Perhaps it was the sound of him moaning, in a hollow, despairing, terrible rapidly, incoherently, in despair.


The next day Lenz

did not leave his


for a long



went up to him. He lay quiet and motionless on his bed. Oberlin had to question him repeatedly before he answered. Finally Lenz said, "Oh yes, your Holiness; do you understand, it's the boredom, the boredom! Oh, it's so boring! I don't know what else I can say; but I have drawn all kinds of pictures for you on the wall." Oberlin said that Lenz should turn to God. He laughed and said, "Yes, I would, if I were as lucky as you and could find it such a pleasant distraction. It would be quite easy to spend one's time that way, simply out of idleness. Most people only pray because they're bored, others fall in love out of boredom, and some are virtuous and some are vicious, all for the same reason. As for me, I am nothing, I can't even kill myself. It's too boring. time. Finally Oberlin

"God In your blinding waves of light, In your noonday burning bright. My weary eyes are scorched with pain; Will nightfall never come again?" I

Oberlin to see him this way, and he turned after him and said, with an uncanny look in his eye, "Look, I have an idea: if I could only decide whether I'm awake or dreaming; it's very important, we must look into it." Then he sprang back into bed. In the afternoon Oberlin had a visit to make in the neighborhood; his wife had already gone out. When he was about to leave, there was a knock on his door and Lenz entered, his body bent forward, his face and some of his clothes smeared with ashes, holding his left arm in his right hand. He asked Oberlin to pull his arm into place. He had fallen from the window and dislocated it, but no one had seen him and he didn't wish anyone to know. Oberlin was greatly alarmed, but said nothing, and did as he was asked. At the same time he wrote to the schoolmaster at Bellefosse, asking him to come and telling him what to do. Then he rode away. The schoolmaster arrived. Lenz had often met him and It distressed

to go.

Lenz sprang



was fond of him. He pretended that he had come to visit Oberlin and then wished to go away. Lenz asked him to stay and they remained together. Then Lenz suggested a walk to Fouday. He visited the grave of the child he had tried to bring to life, knelt

kissed the earth


before various pictures, to pray, but in

on the grave and seemed

great confusion of mind.


tore something off the wreath

memento, went back to Waldbach and then returned again. The schoolmaster went with him. At times Lenz walked slowly and complained of great


on the grave


as a

in his limbs; at others,

The countryside

frightened him.

with the speed of despair. He felt so confined that

he was constantly afraid of bumping into things. An indescribable feeling of distress overcame him. By now his companion had become irksome to him. Perhaps Lenz realized what he was really there for, and he tried by various subterfuges to get rid of him. The schoolmaster pretended to give in, but secretly found means of informing his brother of Lenz's dangerous condition, so that Lenz found himself with two keepers instead of one. He led them all round the country and finally turned back to Waldbach; when they were near the village he suddenly turned again like lightning and bolted like a stag back to Fouday. The two men followed him. In Fouday they met two tradesmen who said that a stranger was tied up in one of the houses in the village and that he gave himself out to be a murderer, though he quite obviously was not one. They ran to the house and found it was as they had said. A young man, frightened by Lenz, had tied him up at his own urgent demand. They unbound him and brought him safely back to Waldbach. In the meantime Oberlin and his wife had returned. Lenz stared around him wildly. When he saw that he was welcomed with love and friendship, however, his spirits recovered. He thanked his two companions sweetly and affectionately, and in the evening took a quiet walk. Oberlin pressed him insistently not to bathe any more and to lie quietly in bed at night, and if he could not sleep

— Lenz to confide himself to God. night kept his promise; the


He promised to do so and that maid heard him praying almost

throughout the night. In the morning he came to Oberlin's room looking pleased. When they had discussed various matters, he said very affectionately, "Dearest Pastor, the lady of whom I spoke to you is dead yes, dead the angel!"


do you know?" "From hieroglyphs, from hieroglyphs." After that he would say no more. He sat down and wrote a few letters, and gave them to Oberlin, asking him to add a few lines to them. In the meanwhile his condition had become increasingly desperate; all the peace of mind he had gained from Oberlin's presence and the quietness of the valley had been lost. The world, which once he had hoped to serve, was split by a great abyss. He had neither love, nor hate, nor hope only a terrible void within him, and a torturing anxiety to find the means of filling it. Otherwise he felt nothing. Whatever he did, he did automatically, driven by some instinct. When he was alone, he was so unbearably lonely that he constantly talked aloud to himself, shouted, and was then frightened by the alien voice which spoke to him. In conversation he repeatedly stammered, and had a strange fear that he would forget the end of his sentence. It seemed to him that he must hold on to the last word he had spoken and must at all costs go on speaking, but his intense effort to do so only emphasized how distracted he was. He distressed his

kind friends deeply

among them and

when sometimes,


began stammer and an indescribable look of fear came into his face. He would seize the nearest person convulsively by the arm and only gradually come to his senses again. If he was alone, or reading, it was still worse. His whole mind became occupied exclusively by one single idea. If he thought of some other person, or imagined him to himself, it seemed to him that he had become that person; he fell into hopeless confusion, and had an irresistible impulse to to

talking quite naturally, he suddenly


44 make

a mockery of everything around him, whether natural object or human being, Oberlin alone excepted. Everything was cold, dreamlike. He amused himself by standing the houses on their heads, by dressing and undressing people in

mind, by imagining the most insane practical jokes. Sometimes the impulse to carry out what he had imagined was almost irresistible, and at such moments he made the most grotesque grimaces. One day he was sitting beside Oberlin; the cat was lying on a chair opposite them. Suddenly Lenz's eye became fixed, he concentrated his gaze unwaveringly on the cat, then his


slowly out of his chair.






seemed bewildered by Lenz's gaze, petrified with fear. Its fur bristled with terror. Lenz showed the same fear; his face was horribly contorted. Then as if in despair the two flung themselves upon each other and then Madame Oberlin rose and separated them. Afterward Lenz was deeply ashamed of himself. His night terrors rose to a fearful intensity. Only rarely could he sleep,- and then only after he had sought means to



the fearful void within him.


into a terrible con-

which was halfway between sleeping and waking, in which he found himself face to face with something that was horrible, fearful. Madness seized upon him; with terrible shrieks, bathed in sweat, he leaped to his feet and only gradually came to his senses. In order to keep his self-control, he had to occupy himself with the most trivial matters. But in fact, it was not he who performed them; it was only his powerful instinct of self-preservation. He seemed to have two selves and one called out and struggled to save the other. When his terrors were at their greatest, he talked to himself and recited poetry, until at last he dition


to his senses.

He now had these attacks by day also, and then they were much worse, because until now daylight had protected him against them.






existed in the world, as

his imagination, as if there

that he


was the only person

the world only existed in

was nothing

at all except


Lenz self;

he was damned to


all his

all eternity,

infernal thoughts.

the whole of his




he was Satan himself, in a flash, he reviewed

and then said, "It all follows, it all follows," and if someone else spoke he said, "No, that doesn't follow, that doesn't follow." It was the abyss of incurable madness that would last until the end of time. But the instinct of self-preservation drew him out of his room. He flung himself into Oberlin's arms, clung to him as if he wished to become a part of him. Oberlin was the only person who had any existence for him, through whom life might be given reality again. At such moments Oberlin would gradually bring him to himself, and Lenz would fall on his knees before Oberlin, holding his hands, his face bathed in icy sweat on Oberlin's knees, his whole body shuddering and trembling. Oberlin begged everyone to show him inexhaustible pity. The family knelt down and prayed life

for this man of sorrows, but the servants ran away from him and regarded him as possessed by devils. When he became calm again, his misery was like a child's; he sobbed,



a deep, deep sense of pity for himself. These were

the happiest

moments he had. Oberlin

talked to

him about

God. Lenz broke away from him, looked at him with an expression of endless suffering, and finally said, "As for me, if I were almighty, if I really were, you know, I could not tolerate all the suffering. I would save people from it, save them." Oberlin said that this was blasphemy; Lenz hopelessly shook his head.

He now made

several unsuccessful attempts at suicide,

which were only half so



in earnest.

of the will to die

nor peace


They were

the result, not

him neither moments of terrible

for death promised

of an effort, at

fear or of a dumb apathy which bordered on mindlessness, to cure himself by physical pain. The moments in which

mind was filled by some insane fantasy were now the happiest he knew. At least they brought him peace for a time, and his wild looks then were not as fearful as the terrible pressure of anxiety which thirsted for salvation or the endless pain of his torments. his




February 8th, he stayed in bed in the morning. Oberlin went up to him. He lay almost naked on the bed, violently agitated. Oberlin tried to dress him, but he complained that everything was so heavy, so heavy! He did not think that he could walk. Now at last he realized how terribly the air weighed down on him. Oberlin tried to give him courage. But he remained in the same condition for most of the day, and would take no food. In the evening Oberlin was summoned to a sick man at Bellefosse. The weather was mild, the moon was shining. On his way back, Lenz met him. Lenz seemed perfectly rational and spoke quietly and affectionately to Oberlin. He asked Lenz not to walk too far; Lenz promised that he would not. As he was leaving, he suddenly turned round, came close to Oberlin and said, "Look, Pastor, if I did not have to hear that any more, it would be a great help to me." "What do you mean, my good friend?" "Can't you hear it? Can't you hear that terrible voice screaming on the horizon? The usual name for it is silence. Since




to this quiet valley, I hear



the time.


Oh, Pastor, if only I could sleep again." Then shaking his head he went on his way. Oberlin went back to Waldbach, and was about to send someone after Lenz, when he heard him going up the stairs to his room. A moment later something crashed into the courtyard with such a fearful sound that Oberlin could not believe it could have been caused by a human fall. The nursemaid came running in, deathly pale and tremstops






He sat in the carriage, with icy resignation, as they drove west along the valley. He was completely indifferent to where he was being taken. Several times, when the carriage was in danger of overturning on the bad roads, he sat without moving; he was utterly disinterested. In this state he remained as they took the road over the mountains. In the evening they reached Rheintal. Gradually they left the mountains behind, until in the

Lenz sunset they reared


like a

dark blue wave of

crimson rays of evening playing on




crystal, the


At the

gleamed across the plains. It was dark as they approached Strasbourg. The moon was big and full; distant objects were obscured. Only the mountains cut a sharp contour on the skyline. The earth was a golden goblet, bubbling with the golden waves of moonlight. Lenz stared quietly ahead. He felt no forebodings, no distress, but a dull anxiety began to weigh down on him as objects were lost in the darkness. They stopped at the inn. There he several times tried to do violence to himself, but he was too carefully watched. The next day, in dull rainy weather, he entered Strasbourg. He seemed quite rational, talked to people, behaved in every way as other men do. But within him there was a terrible void. He felt neither fear nor desire any more. Life had become for him simply an unavoidable burden. foot of the mountains,


so his


a blue mist





ADALBERT STIFTER (1805-1868) Until recently Adalbert Stifter endured the comparative neglect which

sometimes comes to those garded by a younger generation of writers conventional in morals and that he




a remarkable observer of


who as is

are re-

being too recognized

what Blake


"minute particulars." At first sight his observations might seem to be chiefly of nature, particularly the nature that is close to mineralogy— rocks, precious stones, crystals. But the reader of Brigitta will agree that he is a very close observer of human behavior also. This is a character study of a strange woman and a remarkable love hewn out inch by inch. Stifter was an Austrian and something of the Austrian gemiitlichkeit shows in his work. He was a teacher, for the most part a tutor in aristocratic houses, and his own studies were law, mathematics, physics and astronomy. The last five years of his life were spent in a hopeless illness which he terminated with suicide.



Across the Steppes

There are often incidents and relationships in life whose meaning is not immediately clear to us and whose background is not readily understandable. And then, just because they are rather mysterious, they exercise a certain gentle and quite pleasant attraction on us. The features of a quite plain person often impress us as having a real inner beauty, though we are not always immediately able to say why. On the other hand, we often find a face cold and empty though all others assure us that its features are of great beauty. In the same way we will occasionally find ourselves quite strongly attracted to someone we really hardly know at all. We like his bearing perhaps, or we find his personality engaging. We are sorry when the acquaintance ends, and in later years when we call him to mind we experience a feeling almost of sadness, a kind of longing, even something approaching affection. On the other hand, we sometimes find that a person whose worth is attested by many things nevertheless means little to us even after we have been acquainted with him for years. There is no doubt that in such cases there are intangible factors at work, things that affect the heart, and we are not able to analyze the matter deliberately and arrive at logical conclusions. Psychology has now explained a great many things to us, but others remain unfathomable and still beyond our reach. It is hardly too much to say that even in our world there is a certain immeasurable and serene zone in which God and the intangible are at work still. In moments of rapture the soul will sometimes cross its borders impetuously, and in childlike artlessness poetry too will



occasionally raise the veil. But stark science with its cautious calculations can never venture farther than the edge, and usually it is quite content to have neither hand nor part in such mysteries.

Such thoughts were aroused in that once fell to


lot as a

my mind by an experience

very young

man on

of an old Major, a very good friend of mine. at a time when the restlessness of youth was


here, there

and everywhere

in the


the estate




hope of experiencing

or discovering God alone knows exactly what. I had got to know this Major whilst I was in Italy and on several occasions he invited me to visit him in his own country. However, at the time I regarded the invitation as more or less a polite formality, the sort of amiability travelers do often exchange at their casual meetings, and I should probably have thought no more about the matter, but some long time afterward I received a friendly letter from him inquiring after my welfare and concluding by repeating once again his old invitation and suggesting that I should stay with him on his estate in Hungary for a summer, or for longer if I had a mind for a year or for

he had at last made up his mind to stay in one place, in one very small spot on this earth, and to let no other dust settle on his feet henceforth but that of his own country, where he had, so he declared, at last found an aim in life that he had sought in vain elsewhere throughout five years, since

the world.

was spring when I received this letter and as I was know just what was the aim to which he referred, and as, also, I was at a loss at that moment to know where to go next, I decided to do as he suggested and so I acIt

curious to

cepted his invitation. His estate was in Eastern Hungary and for a couple of days I occupied myself with various plans for making my journey as comfortable and convenient as possible. The third day saw me in a mail coach rolling eastward, my mind greatly occupied with thoughts of heaths and wood-



had never visited his country before. On the eighth day I was already crossing the famous pusta, a barren, level heath probably as magnificent and as lonely as any Hungary had to offer. At first I was completely under the spell of its immense lands, for I


A fresh breeze ceaselessly caressed my face, the

was constantly in my nostrils, and a uniform loneliness stretched away in all directions. And so it remained the next day and the day after that, and the day after that again, always the same faraway horizon where heaven and earth met. I therefore soon became accustomed to it and my eye grew less curious. Surfeited by the immense, unchanging emptiness my mind withdrew into itself and as the sun shone on persistently and the grass glistened endlessly in its rays, other thoughts arose. Older memories crowded in as I rolled across the heath, and, in particular, my recollections of the man to whom I was now making my way. I welcomed the memories and in that lonely expanse of heath around me I had time enough and inclination to recall all I had ever known about him and to reconstruct the former picture in my mind. I had first met him in Southern Italy, in a barren waste almost as austere as the one through which I was now passing. In those days he had been an honored and welcome guest everywhere, and although even then he was almost fifty years of age, more than one pair of beautiful eyes had been drawn to him, for never was there a man whose build and whose features more deserved the description of handsome, or a man who bore himself with greater nobility. In addition there was a certain gentle modesty in his bearing which was so natural and so engaging that men too were won by it. And as for women, it was rumored and I can well believe it that in younger years his effect on them had been devastating. There were many stories current concerning his conquests and many of them were remarkable. But, they said, there was one thing lacking in him: the ability to respond truly, and it was this that made him smell of the steppes



No one, not even the greatest beauty, had ever succeeded in holding him for long. To the very end he would behave himself with all the charm that won him every heart and filled the lady of the moment with enraptured triumph, but then, when he was so minded, he would make his farewell, set out on his travels once more and never return. But, far from discouraging women, this behavior seemed to attract them still more, and more than one hot-blooded woman of southern climes could hardly control her impatience or wait to offer him both heart and really dangerous.

And the fact that no one knew from whence he what was his position in the world was nothing but an added ground for attraction. But although the Graces had clearly chosen him for their own, there was yet an indication of some sorrow on his brow, a sign that in the past at least his emotions had perhaps not lacked profundity. And it was just that past that puzzled and interested people so greatly, and that above all because no one had the slightest inkling of what had been his past. There were rumors, of course: he had been embroiled in matters of State; he had been unhappily marand other suggesried; he had shot his own brother tions of a like dramatic nature. However, the only certain thing people did know was not about his past: it was that now he was keenly interested in the progress of science. I had already heard a great deal about him before I first met him, tossing stones into the crater of Vesuvius and watching the blue smoke that wreathed up from time to time from the main crater and from various fissures. I recognized him at once from the descriptions I had heard and I went toward him between the yellow boulders which were strewn around. He answered amiably when I spoke to him and soon we were talking animatedly. The scene around us at the time was truly desolate, a gloomy waste, and the effect was heightened by the indescribably lovely blue of the Southern Italian sky above us into which slow billows of smoke rose sadly and erratically from the crater. devotion.










chatted for

when we

some time


in a very friendly fashion but

parted each went his separate

way down

the mountainside.

Later on opportunity arose for us to meet again and after we exchanged a number of visits and by the time I had decided to return home we were very close friends, almost inseparable. I found that he was more or less unconscious of the effect his personality and appearance produced on those around him. Although he was then approaching fifty years of age, there was a certain youthful impetuousness in him which broke out from time to time as though even in the middle years his life and his character that

were far from



as I

became more

closely ac-

quainted with him I discovered that his nature was more generous, more that of a poet, than that of any man I had as yet encountered. Because of this there was often something childlike, something even ingenuous, about him. He


unaware of these things and in all naturalwas more beautiful than any I have ever heard on human lips. Throughout my life even later on when I associated a great deal with artists and poets clearly quite

ness his language

never encountered such a sensitive feeling for beauty, though it could certainly be provoked to impatience by grossness. It was probably these gifts, of which he seemed unconscious, that won him the hearts of all women, for such brilliance is unusual in men of middle years. Now although I was a very young man at the time and really not in a position to appreciate such qualities at their true worth, he seemed to be very willingly in my company. It and in particular when was, in fact, not until I grew older



to set


the story of his


that I



understand and appreciate such things. What truth there was in the fabulous stories of his successes with women I never discovered, because he never spoke about such things himself and I never had any personal opportunity for judging. I was also never able to discover anything about the reason for that sadness that



seemed on him. All I could find out about his earlier life was that as a young man he had been always on the move. In recent years, however, he seemed more or less to have settled down in Naples, where he devoted himself to the study of volcanic lava and antiquities. It was from his own lips that I learned that he had lands in Hungary, and, as I have already said, he repeatedly invited me to come and visit him there. We were close friends for quite a long time and when I finally went away it was not without emotion that we separated. Subsequently my mind was so occupied with many different countries and many different people that it never even occurred to me as a possibility that I should one day be traveling across the Hungarian pusta to visit him, as I was now in fact doing. With so much time to spare on my journey my mind turned more and more to my recollections of him and I reconstructed the old picture so successfully in my memory that now and again I had some difficulty in realizing that I was not once again in Italy, particularly as the steppe landscape through which I was passing was as hot and silent as Italy had been, and at the same time the bluish haze in the distance mirrored itself in my eye as an optical illusion of the Pontine Marshes. I did not make straight for the Major's estate, whose whereabouts he had described to me in detail in his letters. Instead I traveled here and there through the countryside, wishing to take advantage of the opportunity to get thoroughly acquainted with it. Because of what my friend had told me so often about it, the picture in my mind had merged more and more with what I knew about Italy, but now it began to develop its own individuality and to become an independent entity for me. Since setting out I had crossed scores of rivulets, streams and rivers and I had often shared the humble shelter of the herdsmen of the plains and their shaggy dogs. I had drunk from those steppe wells with their typical high poles jutting up into the sky at a sharp angle and I had slept under more than one of those



low-eaved thatched roofs that characterized the countryside. Here the bagpipe player would take his ease, there the busy carter would drive his horses rapidly over the heath, whilst in the distance glistened the white coat of the horse-minder. I often wondered whether I should find my friend at all changed in such surroundings. I had previously seen him only in society, in company where one man looks very much like another. There he had been the polished gentle-

man moving amongst different,

his kind. But here everything was so and often, when for whole days I saw nothing

but the reddish-blue shimmer of the rolling steppes relieved only by innumerable white specks where the cattle grazed, I wondered how he would fit into it all. The soil beneath my feet was dark and rich, giving rise to a wild and luxuriant growth, and despite the country's ancient history there was something new and elemental about it all. As I traveled around in this countryside and learned to know its character and its individuality it sometimes seemed to me that I could hear the ringing blows of the hammer that was falling on the anvil as the future of this people was forged. Those things that have had their day and are passing away are tired and weary, but those things that are still becoming are fiery and vigorous. This, it seemed to me, was a country of the future and I found myself taking a keen pleasure in its innumerable villages, its fine vineyards stretching up the hillsides, its broad marshes with their luxuriant reeds, and, far in the distance, the soft blue mountains that framed it all.

After months of wandering around in this fashion I realmust be somewhere quite close to my friend's estate, and, a little tired now of my travels, I decided to make straight for where I was long expected. That afternoon I had trudged through an arid waste of stones. Far away to the left the blue summits of mountains rose into the sky. They were the Carpathians, I judged. To the right was broken countryside with the peculiar reddish col-

ized one day that I



oration of the steppes. Between the two was the seemingly endless sweep of the plains. After crossing the bed of a dried-out stream I climbed slowly out of a small valley and to the right I saw a wood of chestnut trees and a white house.





That was what


had been

asked the way to Unwar, which was the name of the Major's house and estate. Three miles. But by this time I had learned what a Hungarian mile was. I had certainly gone at least five ordinary miles already and I therefore hoped devoutly that the white house previously I had been unsighted by a I could now see sand drift would prove to be Unwar. In the middle dis-



the afternoon



tance tilled fields rose up to a sort of causeway on which I could see figures. I decided to ask if the white house were, in fact, Unwar, and to reach the men I could see there I cut through the verge of the chestnut wood. Before long I observed what I had already guessed from my previous experience of the deceptive lie of this countryside: that the house was not really by the wood at all but at the other side of a level stretch of land that ran away

from it. It became clear too that it must be a very large house. At that moment I saw a rider galloping across the level stretch of land toward the fields where the men were working. When this rider came up with them the men gathered round him as though he were their master. At that I looked keenly at the horseman but the figure looked nothing like that of


friend the Major. Without hurrying I

made my way toward the causeway, which was farther away than I had at first thought, and as I came up with the group the rays of the sinking sun were turning red as

on the group of around the rider. To my surprise this rider turned out to be a woman. She was perhaps forty years of age and she was wearing the wide trousers of the countryside and sitting astride her horse like a man. By the time I reached her the laborers were already going back they



across the rich maize fields and


as they stood



work and she was abnost

to their


inquiries to her. Resting


ing one

to protect



alone. I therefore directed

pack on


eyes from the





strong rays

of the sun I looked up at her and spoke in German. "Good evening, ma'am." *'Good evening," she replied in the same language. "Would you be so good as to tell me whether that white house over yonder is Unwar?"

"No. That









Unwar you want?"

An old friend of mine me to visit him."

lives there, a

yes. Very Unwar."



well, follow


I will set



you on your

She moved off slowly on her horse so that I could keep up with her, making her way still farther up the slope between the high ears of maize. As I followed behind her I had ample opportunity to look around at the countryside and what I saw astonished me more and more. The higher we went up the hill the more the valley opened up behind us and I saw that the wood beyond the white house was very large and stretched away to the mountains. Great avenues of trees came right down to the fields and one cultivated area after the other was revealed with crops which all seemed in excellent heart. I had never seen such long, plump and healthy-looking maize before and it was obviously most carefully tended, for there was no grass or weed growing between its strong stems. The vineyard whose edge

we were now approaching reminded me

of the Rhine-

had never seen quite such rich foliage or such luscious berries; they seemed almost bursting with juice. The level ground between the chestnut trees and the house was meadowland and it looked as soft and green as though it were a stretch of fine satin. The ways across this meadowland were all fenced in neatly and between them white cattle, as smooth and shapely as deer, grazed peacefully. This rich landscape was in striking contrast to the stony waste I had previously trudged through. It lay behind me land, but




now, looking dry and parched in the red rays of the sun by comparison with the cool, green freshness of this richly cultivated

In a





arrived at one of the small white huts

had noticed dotted around here and there against the darker green of the vineyards and the woman spoke to a young fellow who was working there. Despite the warmth of the July evening he was wearing a shaggy fur coat.


"Milosch, this gentleman wishes to get to Unwar today. a couple of the horses and go with him as far as the



"Yes, ma'am," said the young fellow obediently, aban-

doning what he was doing. "Go with him now," said the woman to me. "He will put you safely on your way." And with that she turned her horse's head and was about to ride away. I took her to be some sort of estate overseer and I wanted to give her something in return for the service she had done me, but she smiled and shook her head and I noticed that she had very beautiful white teeth. She rode her horse slowly down the vineyard slope but soon afterward I heard the rapid beat of hoofs as she galloped away across the flat ground below. I put my money away and turned to the young fellow she had addressed as Milosch. He now put on a broadbrimmed hat in addition to his fur coat and then he led me through the vineyard. After a while the ground sloped down again and we came to some farm buildings. Going to the stables he led out two of the small wiry horses of which there are so many in this part of the world. One he saddled for me but the other he mounted bare back and together we set off in the deepening twilight toward the darkening eastern horizon. We must have presented an odd picture as we rode along together: the German wanderer with his pack, his knotted stick and his cap, and the slim young Hungarian with his long, drooping mustaches, his round, broad-brirmned hat, his fur coat and his wide, flapping trousers.



On the other side of the vineyards was wasteland and the prosperous settlement lay behind us now like a vanished fairy land. This wasteland was actually part of the stony waste I had tramped through earlier that day and it was so much the same to the eye that I could have thought we were going back the way I had come but for the fact that the dying red across the horizon behind me told me that we really were going eastward. "How far is Unwar?" I asked. "About another mile and a half," the young fellow answered. I kept up with him as well as I could and we passed the same innumerable gray boulders I had already seen by the thousand that day. They now glimmered with a false light against the dark ground and we rode between them on firm moorland, the hoofs of our horses making no sound except when occasionally their shoes rang out against a stone. Our beasts were obviously used to such going, however, and they usually managed to pick their way safely between the stones. The way was level on the whole but now and again there were small depressions. We rode down one side and up the other and at the bottom of each of these small valleys there was a petrified stream of scree. "Who owns the estate we have just left?" I asked. "Maroshely," he answered. spoke without reining in and I was not certain whether that was the name of the owner or the estate, or whether I had even caught it correctly. The movement of our horses made it diflScult to speak or to hear what was




moon had now begun

and in its first looming up on the heath ahead of us. I took it to be the gallows to which my companion had been instructed to lead me, and so it orange

to rise

faint light I distinguished a tall scaffolding

was. "This is the gallows," he said almost immediately, and he reined in his horse. "Down below there is a stream. Look, you can see it glistening. That black mass near it is an oak tree. That's where they used to hang wrongdoers at



used now that we've got a real gallows the other side of that oak tree you'll find a path. There are young trees on either side. Go along that for about an hour and you'll come to a gate in a fence. You'll see a bell pull there. Ring the bell, but don't go

one time.



in even

It isn't



the gate's unlocked

mount now. And do up your

^because of the dogs. Dis-

jacket or

you might catch

fever." I

dismounted and although


had not had much luck with

the supposed overseer I offered Milosch some money. He accepted it without question and tucked it away some-


inside his fur jacket,




of thanks.

the reins of my horse, turned the two horses about and galloped off at once even before I had time to ask him to thank the owner of the horses for his kindness

Then he took

in allowing

me, a complete stranger, to ride


on one of

them at such a late hour. Milosch seemed anxious to get away from the neighborhood of the gallows as quickly as moonlight I could see that it connothing but two upright poles and a cross beam. I rather fancied that there was something hanging from it, but that could have been imagination and I made no attempt to find out. Nothing loath I quickly left it behind me too and went on at a good pace through the long grass, which had seemed almost to be whispering as it caressed possible. In the yellow sisted of

the foot of the gallows.

There was now neither

sight nor

sound of Milosch and

there might never have been such a person. I quickly


which glistened and rippled through the rushes like a snake. Above it loomed the black mass of the old oak that had once been a gallows tree and on the other side I found that path Milosch had described. It was of beaten earth with a ditch on either side and it looked almost white in the moon between long lines of young poplars. My steps as they sounded on this harder ground were vaguely comforting; it was almost as though I were walking along one of the familiar paths at home. to the stream,


Brigitta I

went forward


brighter until finally


and the moon rose higher and


at full strength in



summer sky shining down on the heath that stretched away on either side, gray and robbed of all its normal color. I had walked for about an hour when black clumps of trees rose up ahead as though I were coming to the beginning of a wood. Soon after that I came to a gate set in a high fence that ran out of the trees. Behind it the massive crowns of many great trees stood out still and silent in the silver light of the moon. There was a bell pull at the gate,

gave it a good tug. A bell rang and then, instead of barking, I heard a deep, snorting, snuffling sound such as big dogs make, followed immediately by a thud as the beast sprang at the gate. It was one of the most magnificent dogs I have ever seen and it stood on its hind legs with its fore paws as

Milosch had





at a distance

me without making such great solemn beasts will. After a moment or two it was joined by two younger and smaller dogs of the same breed which ran up prancing and growling. They were fine mastiff dogs and all three now stood there together and stared at me unwinkingly. After a while I heard footsteps and a man came up to the gate wearing the inevitable shaggy fur coat. In answer to his question as to my business I asked if this were Unwar and I mentioned my name. He obviously already had his instructions and at the mention of my name he immediately called off the dogs with a few sharp words in Hungarian against the bars of the gate, staring at

a sound


and opened the


"The master has received your letters, sir," he closed the gate behind me and led me along the has been expecting you for some time." "I told him in my last letter that I wanted to thing of the countryside "I

said as he

path. see



first," I replied.

hope you have enjoyed it, sir," he I did. Is the Major still up?"




isn't at


at all today, sir.

He's at the session.

ADALBERT STIFTER 62 Tomorrow morning he'll ride back. But rooms are prepared for you and we have instructions to make you as comfortable as possible should you arrive in his absence." "Very well if you'd be good enough to do that."

"Most certainly, sir." This was the only conversation

that took place between us during the rather long walk through the park. It put me in mind of a well-kept jungle. Enormous fir trees reared into the sky and limbs of oak as thick as a man's middle stretched out all around. The biggest dog trotted quietly along at our side, but the other two, not yet so well behaved, sniffed at my clothing from time to time and danced around us. When we had gone through the park we came to a treeless rise on which the Major's house stood. As far as I could see in the light of the moon that fell lambently upon it, it was a large four-cornered building.


flight of

broad stone steps led up to a terrace and

the house was surrounded by railings. The to a gate in these railings and then he said a to the dogs,


man word



or two

which immediately turned about and trotted Opening the gate the man then led

into the park.


into the house. Lights were burning

on the staircase and they shone on a row of strange statues representing men in wide-topped high boots and flowing garments. They might have been former Hungarian kings. On the first floor we entered a long corridor laid out with rush matting. At the end of this corridor we went up another flight of steps and came into another such corridor. Opening a wing of one of the doors along

this corridor


guide invited


to enter


informed me that these were to be my quarters. He followed me inside and after he had lit a great many more candles in each of the three rooms of which my quarters consisted he wished me good night and went away. Shortly after that another man-servant brought me wine, bread and cold roast meat. He too then bowed, bade me good night and departed. As I was obviously to be left to my own devices now I went to the doors and closed them.



After that I sat down and made a good supper and then I looked at my leisure around my new quarters. The first room, in which my meal had been laid out at one end of a long table, was very large, almost a small hall, but so many candles were burning that it was very well lit. It was furnished rather differently from the fashion I was accustomed to at home. Down the center was the long table at which I had eaten and along its sides were oaken benches. There were only one or two ordinary chairs and the general impression was formal rather than comfortable as though the place were really intended for meetings. On the walls hung ancient weapons from various historical periods. They were probably mostly Hungarian and there were many bows and arrows. Apart from these weapons there were also costumes displayed on the walls as though in a museum. They seemed chiefly to be Hungarian costumes of other days but here and there were also silken garments that had probably been worn at one time by Turks, or perhaps Tartars. Giving off this main chamber there were two other rooms that had been placed at my disposal and when I went into them I noticed with approval that they were rather more comfortably furnished. There were chairs, tables, ward-

accommodation and materials and washing in fact there was everything to make a traveler feel at his ease after a long and tiring journey. There were even books on a bedside table and I noticed that they were all in German. In each of these two smaller rooms there was a bed. One of them was draped with the wide Hungarian garment known as a "Bunda" instead of robes, writing


the ordinary covering. This

worn with



usually a mantle of

and the smooth outer skins are often decorated with gaily colored straps and with drawings on leather plaques stitched on to them. furs

the rough side inward,

Before I went to bed I walked over to the window to look at the lie of the land outside, a habit of mine in strange quarters. There was not a great deal to be seen, but the moonlight was strong enough to show me very



clearly that the landscape

was very

different to that of

homeland. Rather like another but enormous Bunda, the park lay spread out below, a dark splash over the rolling steppes, now shimmering softly in the light of

my own the


After looking out

at this

unfamiliar scene for a while

into the room. Unbed which was covered by the Bunda. As I drew its soft fur gratefully up over my tired limbs and before my eyes closed in sleep I still had time to wonder what experiences might be awaiting me in

I closed the

window and turned back

dressing, I climbed into the

house: pleasant or disagreeable? I fell asleep and everything that had already been in my life and everything for which I still so keenly longed faded together into unconsciousness. this





The House I slept I

in the



do not know, but


do know that

Perhaps over-tiredness was the cause. In any case, all night I wandered around on Vesuvius and I saw the Major, first dressed as a wanderer and sitting in Pompeii, and then in evening dress standing amidst the boulders on the mountainside and looking for stones. Toward morning the whinnying of horses and the barking of dogs mingled with my dream. After that I slept quite soundly for a while and when I woke up it was broad daylight. From my bedroom I looked out into the I


neither soundly nor well.

main chamber where the weapons and the clothing were hanging. The rays of the early morning sun came through the windows, and outside the park was filled with the singing of birds. I got up and went to the windows. The heath was colorful again in the sunlight. I began to dress, but before I had quite finished there was a knock at the door. I opened it and my old friend came in. For days I had been consumed with curiosity to know just what he would look like in these new surroundings,



and now I saw that he looked very much as one would have expected of him, namely in complete harmony with them, so much so in fact that it was almost as though I had always known him just like this. On his upper lip there was the traditional long mustache, and his eyes were, if possible, brighter than ever. He was wearing the round, broad-brimmed hat and the long wide, white trousers of the countryside. It seemed so natural that he should be dressed like this that suddenly I could no longer remember what he looked like in evening dress. His Hungarian garb so took my fancy that my own well-worn German broadcloth that lay, still dusty from my journey, over a bench beneath the faded silk garments of some old Tartar seemed quite wretched by comparison. His jacket was shorter than we were accustomed to in Germany, but it certainly suited the whole style of his dress. He looked rather older, of course, and there were strands of white

and on his face were those fine, short lines and indicate the passing of the years in men of culture. However, his general appearance was every bit as agreeable and engaging as before. He welcomed me warmly, even affectionately, and after we had chatted for half an hour or so we were as intimate again as ever we had been. You might almost have thought, in fact, that we had not separated since our first meeting in Italy. Whilst completing my dressing I remarked that a trunk would arrive with the rest of my things, whereupon he proposed that until it did or, indeed, throughout the whole period of my stay if I cared I should wear Hungarian dress, and this I readily agreed to do. The necessary garments were soon brought and as I put them on he observed approvingly that he would see to it that I did not lack for variety whilst I was here. We then went down into the courtyard where his men, all with long mustaches and all similarly dressed, were waiting for us. As they led forward the horses for our morning ride they looked at us with such pleasure from under their bushy eyebrows, and there was such a general atmosphere of pleasant and in his hair,

that appear at last



cultivated well-being that



spirits rose

greatly heartened in these

new and


once and


strange surround-


Accompanied by the

great mastiff I

vious evening

we now made

Major's estate.

As he showed me round keen and personal interest

that he took a

had seen the pre-

a tour of inspection of the it

was soon


in everything that

was going on, giving orders, commenting on this or that, and uttering words of praise where he felt they were due. We first rode through the park. It was a friendly, orderly wilderness with well-kept paths, and beyond it we rode out into fields that were a mass of tossing green. The only country in which I had ever seen such luxuriant green was England, but there the growth had seemed less strong and vigorous than it did here in these sun-drenched fields. We rode up a long incline to where the vineyards began. From this height I could see that the cultivated area spread far and wide over the landscape, the dark green relieved by many peach trees, whilst here and there, as at Maroshely, the white huts of laborers were picked out by the sun against the dark-green background of the vines. On the heath itself we saw his cattle grazing, a vast herd scattered around almost as far as eye could see. Then an hour's riding brought us to the stables and the sheepfolds.

As we

rode across the heath the Major pointed to a narrow, dark stretch of green cutting across the gray steppes to the west. "They are the vineyards of Maroshely, where they lent you the horses yesterday," he said. We rode back a different way and on the other side of the estate he showed me the orchards, the gardens and the greenhouses. Before we came to them we rode through a rather barren and uninteresting stretch of land on which a great number of men were at work. In answer to my question he declared that they were beggars, tramps and vagabonds who had been persuaded to work for him' in return for regular wages. They were engaged in draining

marshland and

in laying






We returned to the gether with




men and



midday and there we ate towho were attached to the


The meal was served under a large projecting roof forming a sort of veranda. Near by there waä a large nut tree and one of the typical wells of the countryside. As we ate, a party of wandering gypsies grouped before the well played to us. I was not the only visitor. At our table was a youth who attracted my attention at once by his quite extraordinary beauty. He had brought letters to the house and after the meal he rode away again. I noticed that the Major treated him with great consideration and something house.

very like affection. The sun was very hot now and we spent the heat of the day in the cool rooms of the house. When evening came my host declared that the sunset on the heath was a sight worth seeing and he ordered the horses to be brought round for us. At the same time he advised me to wear a fur coat as a precaution against the fever of the plains, despite the fact that the




seemed to make

such a precaution unnecessary. We rode out to a suitable spot and there we waited for a while until the sun went down. The sunset was a wonderful spectacle indeed. The tremendous dome of the heavens covered the dark heath as though with a vast curtain of red and yellow flames

and the glow was so great seemed black and strange.

that everything



on the ground

blade of grass would

stand out against the light as though it were a beam and a passing animal was outlined against the fiery golden background like some dark mastodon, whilst modest juniper

and blackthorn bushes looked

like distant turrets

and bat-

tlements. After a while the fresh, cold blue of the approach-

ing night began to spread over the eastern horizon throwing dark shadows across the brilliance of the glowing sky. In June, when the sun stands high in the heavens, the spectacle lasts for quite a while, and when we were already

back at the house, and even after we had taken our evening meal and had chatted for some time, there was still a col-



fact, when I stood at my window before retiring for the night it was already past midnight there was still a last vestige of yellow in the western sky although in the dark blue east the orange disk of the moon was already up. As I stood there and looked out I decided that the next day, or the day after that, or whenever a convenient opportunity arose, I would ask the Major what it was exactly that he had referred to in his letter as having found here at last to keep him forever in his own country. He came to my room very early the next morning to ask

glow in the west. In




later, just



would prefer

to spend the

day on

my own

with him. I could do whichever I pleased, today or on any other day of my stay. On any day that I wished to take part in the normal affairs of the household or to share


do was to rise at the sound of the house bell which was rung every morning, and come down to the common table for breakfast. Should I, on the other hand, wish at any time to follow my own devices, then, if he were not there, his servants had been instructed had

all I


in the courtyard,

to have horses ready for

me, to provide


with anything


accompany me wherever I wished to go. However, should I ever have plans that would take me a long way from the house it would be as well if I would let him know beforehand so that he could advise me of any difficulties and perhaps warn me of any dangers that might

required, and to

be involved. I was very grateful to him for his kindness and consideration and his readiness to assist me in everything, but I assured


that today,

prefer to spend

should certainly

tomorrow and

indefinitely I


my let

days with him. At the same time I him know in good time of any change

my intentions. When he had gone I got up, at the common table beneath




dressed and presented myself the great roof for breakfast.

had almost all finished their meal and were aloff on the various tasks of the day, but the

ready going



Major had waited for me and he sat there with me until I had finished my breakfast. Saddled horses were then brought for us and we set off. I did not ask where we were going or what he intended to do; I just followed him wherever he rode. It was no tour of inspection for my benefit this time as it had been on the first day when he had showed me round his estate and explained its running, and he declared that today we would just attend to whatever matters that arose in the ordinary course and he hoped that I would not be bored. First we rode over to a wide expanse of meadowland where haymaking was going on. The beautiful brown Hungarian horses we were riding carried us spiritedly over the level turflike ground where the long grass had been cut. The Major dismounted to examine the quality of the hay in various ricks and the man who held his horse in the meantime remarked that the hay was to be carried in that afternoon. Before we rode on the Major gave instruc-

was short a number of trenches should be dug here and there, some to drain off surplus

tions that whilst the grass

water, others to collect

Next we went


to the greenhouses,

which were

not, as


usually the case, near the house but in a very favorable spot where a gentle slope offered protection in the mornings and at midday. Near the greenhouses was a small wellkept stable where the Major and anyone who happened to be with him could leave their horses if an extended stay in the greenhouses was intended sometimes, when visitors were anxious to look over the houses thoroughly, the inspection might take several hours. We left our horses in this stable without having them unsaddled and went off to look at a variety of plants which were being prepared for despatch to fulfill orders. After that we entered a little office where the administrative side of the business was attended to and there the Major spent some time at a desk where various papers and correspondence were awaiting his attention. In the meantime I looked around on my own with as



understanding for what I saw as an inhas seen many greenhouses in his time, manages, willy-nilly, to acquire. Later on, back at the house, I spent some time looking through that part of the Major's library which was devoted to horticultural matters and in consequence I was soon made to realize just how little I knew about the fundamentals of the science. The Major was certainly not exaggerating when he observed on another occasion: "It is all quite fascinating, but if you want to do anything really worth while in such a complicated branch of horticulture, where one thing leads to another endlessly, you have to go into the matter very thoroughly indeed and constantly strive to outdo all your rivals at it.'*

much, or



veterate traveler,




Major had

finished his

continued our tour of inspection.



number of women who were engaged

in the office


stopped to watch a

in cleaning the leaves

of camellia plants. In those days the camellia


quite a

The Major exambeen wiped and made a

rare and therefore an expensive flower.

ined the plants that had already comment or two. Then we walked along between many beds of fine white sand where seedlings were being grown, and from there on to ordinary beds where various kinds of plants and bushes were systematically cultivated. By this time we were on the far side of the gardens and there we found a lad waiting for us with the horses, which had been brought round from the stable to be ready for us. There was a large open space here where various soils were

prepared and made up for particular uses. Donkeys were used to bring in earth in baskets from other localities, often

from quite distant forests of fir trees, and this transport went on throughout the year except when the ground was frozen hard. Near by there was a row of great ovens for sterilizing the soil, and at a little distance there were great stacks of oak logs for use as fuel during the winter months. Beyond the greenhouses, as I had already noticed, was the open heath and we now rode out into it. Our fine horses



bore us along swiftly until soon the park was no more than a dark stretch on the horizon behind us and the great house a mere dot whilst all around the level plains rolled away and the scent of warm heather in the sun was in our nostrils.

After a long gallop

men and came


fell in

with the Major's herds-

to a primitive hut of branches, hardly


than a recognizable spot that could be seen from afar and that served as a meeting-point. A fire of tough branches and the roots of juniper, blackthorn and other bushes was burning, or rather glowing, there and round it the herdsmen, who ate their meal early, at about eleven o'clock, were already engaged in preparing it. Sun-tanned men in short sleeves and the usual long, and in this case, rather dirty white trousers,

crowded round the Major


we rode

up. Their shaggy fur coats were scattered around

on the

ground. Others farther away had spotted the Major's arrival and now they came galloping up riding bare back on small, wiry ponies. They had neither saddles nor saddle cloths and their only bridle was often just a rope. They dismounted and, still holding their horses' heads, they joined the crowd around the Major, who had also dismounted and handed his horse to one of the men. He asked questions and they answered him, but it was not only of their work that they talked and he seemed to know almost all of them by name. His manner toward them was very friendly, almost familiar, and their attitude to him was enthusiastic. As at home on our mountain pastures, the cattle here were kept out in the open throughout the summer months. They were long-horned beasts with white hides and they lived by cropping the grass and plants of the heath, which were, incidentally, of a pungency and flavor that our alpine herdsmen would hardly have credited. These herdsmen of the plains stayed out in the open with their cattle throughout the summer, and apart from the flimsy sort of construction I mentioned previously, and perhaps a mud hut or two, their only roof was the blue sky during the day and the bright stars of the pusta at night.




they crowded round their master, the Lord of the Manor as he is called in these parts, and listened keenly to his instructions. When he remounted, one of the men, whose dark eyes sparkled under bushy eyebrows, held his horse's head whilst others, with long hair and thick drooping mustaches, bent


to hold his stirrup.

"Good-by, men," he called out cheerfully as we rode off. "I shall be here again soon, and when our neighbors come over we'll spend an afternoon on the heath and eat with you."

He had spoken in Hungarian of course and at my request he translated his words for me, adding: "If you should ever feel inclined to come out here on your own to spend a day with the

men and

their lives a bit better

their dogs.

—take care of

get to




usually as docile and friendly as they were today, and certainly not to strangers. In fact if you paid an unexpected it could go hard with you, so if you feel like riding out here at any time let me know beforehand so that I can go with you or arrange for one of the men to accompany you if I should be unable to." I had, in fact, taken particular note of the lean and shaggy dogs that had sat around us by the fire and behaved themselves so intelligently and so obediently. They seemed to know what was going on and to have their share in it. In all my travels I had never seen such impressive beasts. We turned our horses' heads toward the house, for it was approaching midday and the time for the midday meal was drawing near. As we passed the place where the men were at work draining the marshland and laying out the new road the Major pointed to a field of wheat close by. The ears of grain seemed to be particularly full and heavy.




like that

have to produce the money to

enable us to make improvements elsewhere," he said. "The hired men over there work on the marshland all the year through. They are paid daily and they prepare their food on the job in the open air. At nights they sleep in those



huts you can see over there. In wmter when it begins to freeze we move them to the lower lying ground where nothing can be done in summer because of the stagnant water. They then cart stones and debris from the heath and the vineyards to make a firmer surface."



looked around and


could see the


huts to

on the brow of the heath thin wisps of smoke were rising from where the day laborers were preparing their midday meal. As we turned into the park the dogs ran up to welcome us, leaping up and dancing around our horses, and at that moment the bell in the courtyard began to ring to call us and the others to our midday meal. That afternoon was spent as usual in the house, though at five o'clock the Major set off along the avenue of poplars I had used to approach the house on the night of my arrival. I had no idea where he was going, or on what errand, and I spent the time he was away in looking through the books he was sending in to me in increasing numbers from his library. Although I had firmly determined to do so the evening before when I went to bed, I had found no opportunity of asking the Major what it was he had found here which had caused him to settle down so definitely, altogether abandoning his former mode of life. The next day the Major had a good deal of writing to do and I spent the whole day with the horses in his stables and in getting to know his many servants. The morning after that I went with him to the sheepfolds, which were situated a good two hours' ride away from the house, and there we spent the whole day. There were obviously a number of very capable men to look after this branch of his activities. They were devoted to their work and able to discuss it with him from all angles. It was here that I discovered that each of the various activities of his estate had its own separate accounting and that a surplus from one would be used to further the progress of the other. The sheep rearing, for example, was aswhich he



in various spots



sisted in this

A very

careful accounting was kept and would always provide an exact picture of affairs prevailing in any branch of the es-


the Major's books

of the state

tate's operations.

On another occasion we inspected the stud farm and then went out to the meadows where the horses of lesser value were looked after by his men in the same way as his cattle were looked after by his herdsmen. In this way I gradually obtained a very good picture of all the activities on his estate, and the sum-total was not inconsiderable. I was astonished again and again at the great care and attention to details he showed in practical matters, for previously I had known him as interested only in literary and scientific affairs. "As I see it," he said to me on one occasion, "we owe a duty to our land. Our country and our history are already old, but there is still a great deal left for us to do. The country is like a jewels perhaps a more valuable jewel than you might think but it still has to be given a proper


The whole world is striving to make the most of and we, too, have to play our part in the struggle.

setting. itself

There are great latent capacities in our country but they must first be developed and brought out. I have no doubt that on your long way here you did not fail to observe those possibilities. These heaths make splendid agricultural land, and those hills with their bright stones that roll away to the blue mountains you can see in the north are full of hidden metals, whilst the soil itself offers rich nourishment to our vines. Two great streams flow through the land, but the sky above it is empty, so to speak, as though awaiting the fluttering of many triumphant flags. Different types of people inhabit the country and some of them are like children they have first to be shown what to do before they will do it. Since I have lived amongst my people over whom I have more rights than you might think since I have worn their clothing, shared their customs and learned to know their ways, I have won their respect and affection.



doing so I have found that good fortune I once searched for in vain in so many other lands." These few earnest words made it unnecessary for me to ask any direct questions concerning the wholly satisfying aim he had found in life and to which he had referred in his letters to me. He had devoted himself in particular to improving the yield of the grain and he had experimented with various




They now grew on


sides vigorously as a living

The ears were full was curious to know when the fields would be ripe for the reapers and the harvest brought in. The single-minded devotion he showed to his lonely task often made me think of those sturdy early Romans, who also loved agricultural pursuits and who, in the early years of their history at least, were quite prepared to suffer the natural loneliness of the busy husbandman at work on his tribute to the success of his activities.

and heavy and





admirable and truly elemental is the destiny of the countryman! I thought. And how wonderful when he brings a ripe understanding to his tasks which can lift them from the rut and ennoble and refine them! In its simplicity and yet diversity and in its close contact with dispassionate nature it approaches the paradisal state. Gradually I got to know the life on the Major's estate as though it had always been my own; I understood what was going on; I could watch the growth of the crops with an understanding eye and do my part to assist their progress. And soon the uneventful passage of the days in simple tasks so captured me that I felt happy and at peace with the world, forgetful of the towns I had left behind, as though I had turned my back on nothing of importance. One day we were again on the heath amongst the horses and their guardians, and as it happened the latter were joined by the herdsmen who tended the cattle so that an unusually large number of the Major's men were gathered around us. As we drove home this time we were not on



horseback but in a broad-based carriage whose wheels rolled safely over the heath as it was drawn along by a pair of fine horses in full harness his


Major referred



"I could lead those men into battle if I cared to place myself at their head," he declared. "They are absolutely devoted to me, and so are all the servants and laborers around the house. They would let themselves be cut into pieces rather than have anything happen to me. And if I add those who are subject to me by feudal right and are equally devoted to me as they have shown on many occasions I could muster quite a large army of men who love me. And remember: I did not come to them until my hair was going gray, and after long years of forgetfulness. What must it be like to lead hundreds of thousands of such men and guide their steps toward a noble aim? Once they trust a leader they are generally like children and they will follow loyally wherever they are led to good or evil." After a while he spoke again: "At one time I imagined that I would be an artist or a scholar, but then I realized that such men must have a deep and earnest message for humanity, a message to arouse enthusiasm, to make men greater and nobler. The scholar

must discover and reveal things that will further the material well-being of humanity and improve the means at least

to attain


himself must

But first

in the

possessed no such thing, I tunities pass by and now it is too late."

convinced that


one case and the other the

possess a big and simple heart.








seemed to me as though a and at that moment it was as though he looked out into the world with that same ecstatic reverie I had known in him in former years when, sitting idly on the Epomeo, we had talked together of the innumerable wishes and dreams of youth whilst all around us the heavens were almost solemnly blue and the sea glittered in the sun below us. And suddenly I wondered

As he spoke


shadow passed over



his face,


whether the happiness he had thought to find here was together so complete after

11 al-


This was the only occasion throughout our whole acquaintanceship that he had made any reference to his past life. Before that he had never given even the slightest indication. For my part I had never asked any questions, nor did I do so now. man who has traveled widely learns to treat others with consideration and never to refer to the intimate personal affairs of a man's life, for they are never revealed except voluntarily. I had already been with the Major for quite a time now, and very gladly too, for I had come to take a great interest in the management of his estate and I had often taken an active hand in the work connected with it. Whilst not so engaged I had devoted myself to keeping a diary of my travels and my experiences. As a result of my stay at Unwar there was now one thing of which I felt fairly confident: äs simple and active as the life was that the Major led here, there was some faintly disturbing element present which had not yet been altogether resolved, and at the same time a certain sadness which, in such a man, expressed itself in serene and earnest resignation. In all other matters that arose during our life together at Unwar he was frank and open with me and there was no question of reserve or dissimulation. I often visited him in his study, where we would spend the heat of the day or the cool of the evening by candlelight before retiring for the night, chatting about a great variety of matters. On his desk there was a small portrait of a young woman in the early 'twenties. To me the most interesting feature of this portrait was that although the artist had no doubt done his best to gloss over the fact, it was not the portrait of a beautiful young woman but rather that of a plain one. But there was vitality in the face and strength of character, too. The dark complexion and the shape of the forehead were unusual and the eyes were proud and untamed. It was certainly the portrait of a determined woman.




It was not difficult to imagine that this young woman must have played some role in his former life, and the as I had wondered sight of that portrait made me wonder during our stay in Italy together why such a man had never married. But on principle I had not asked him then and for the same reason I made no comment now. The fact that the picture was there openly on his writing desk meant nothing, for none of his people ever came into the room. If any of his men had anything to say to him and he was in his study they had to wait in an anteroom where their entrance rang a little bell which announced their presence.


also never received visitors in his study in the ordinary

way and

it was therefore an indication of some intimacy was allowed to enter the room. In fact it was perhaps this signal mark of his confidence and trust in me that saved me from pondering and speculating. Harvesting had now begun and I shall never forget the cheerful, happy days that accompanied it. Now and again the Major had to visit places in the neighborhood and he always invited me to accompany him. There are few countries in Europe where the distances between the inhabited centers are so great, but we would cover them in a comparatively short time either on horseback or driving fast over the heath in a light carriage. For one such journey the Major dressed himself in the close-fitting national costume of Hungary and at his side he wore a saber. The handsome garb suited him very well. It was to a meeting of the local administrative body that we went and there he delivered a speech in Hungarian. It was always my en-



deavor in whatever land I came to learn as much of the language as I could and as quickly as possible. I had therefore picked up quite a little Hungarian from the Major's men and from everyone else with whom I came into contact, with the result that I was able to understand quite a lot of what he said. The reception accorded to his words varied from warm approval and admiration to no less warm disapproval. On the way back he translated the whole



speech into German for me. That evening he once again wore evening dress and he was as I had known him in Italy. Most of the others present had put off their Hungarian costumes and were also in ordinary European evening dress. I accompanied him on other journeys and I learned that there were four estates in the neighborhood, of which the Major's was one. A few years back the owners of these estates had agreed that they would work together to raise agricultural standards and improve the quality of the local crops. This they proposed to do by setting a practical example on their own estates and encouraging others to follow it, which they would most likely do when they observed that it led to prosperity and a better life for all. This association of estates had developed its own rules and from time to time its members came together to discuss whatever matters happened to arise. As yet only these four large estates were actually members of the association, but a number of smaller landowners had already begun to follow the example of their bigger neighbors without formally joining the association. Those landowners and farmers of the neighborhood who were not members of the association were at liberty to attend its meetings, listen to the proceedings and ask for advice and information, the only condition being that they should give notice in good time of their intention to be present, and, as I saw when I went to such a meeting, very many of them took advantage of this privilege. This particular meeting took place on another estate about four hours' ride from Unwar. It belonged to a local worthy

named Gömör, who was a member of the association. The only members present at this meeting were the Major and this Gömör, but it was well attended by an audience of interested parties

who had come to listen to to know this Gömör

had already got

the proceedings.

and I on two previous occasions. On the second I had even stayed there for a few days. When the harvesting was almost over and there was less to attend to, the Major broached a new project. I


visited his estate

quite well




shall be having more time to ourselves now," he "and next week we will ride over to my neighbor Brigitta Maroshely's estate on a visit. When you meet her I think you will agree with me that she is the most wonderful said,

woman Two

in the world."

days after this earnest remark he made me acquainted with Brigitta Maroshely's son, who happened to have come over to Unwar for some reason. It was the handsome youngster who had eaten at our table on the first day after my arrival and whom I had noticed in particular at the time because of his exceptional good looks. This time he remained at Unwar throughout the day and went with us on our visits to various parts of the estate. He was, as I had already noted, still very young indeed, little more than a boy and hardly even a stripling as yet. I took to him at once. His eye was dark and amiable and when he sat on horseback there was something at the same time so vigorous and yet so modest about his demeanor that my heart went out to him. I had once had a very good friend, whose

had been to go to an early grave, and Gustave for such was the name of Brigitta Maroshely's son reminded me of him very strongly. Since the Major had praised Brigitta Maroshely so highly, and now that I had made the acquaintance of her son, I was very anxious to meet the mother in person. Whilst I was the guest of Gömör I had learnt something of the Major's past. Gömör, like so many of the people I met here, was of a frank and open disposition, and he spoke to me freely and without prompting of what he knew. The Major, it appeared, was not of a local family at all. His parents had been very rich and from his youth he had traveled around constantly. No one really knew where his travels had taken him or in whose service he had attained the rank of Major. In his youth he had never been to Unwar at all, having first come there only a few years previously. However, once there, he had settled down and joined the association of those landowners who styled fate



themselves the friends of agriculture. At that time the association had consisted of two members only: he, Gömör, and Brigitta Maroshely. In fact, in those days it had not

been an association at all, and the rules and the holding of formal meetings was to come only later. It had all started because two good neighbors, he, Gömör, and Brigitta Maroshely, had talked the matter over and decided to work together to improve their property in this rather barren part of the country. Incidentally, the initiative in the matter had come from Brigitta Maroshely. Although a very agreeable and intelligent woman, he went on, she was not beautiful, and her husband, a frivolous scamp to whom she had been married when she was very young, had soon left her and never returned. After this desertion she had come to Maroshely, which was the name of the estate, with her son, who had then been only a very small child. She had taken over the management of the estate as efficiently as any man and soon introduced new methods and improvements. In fact, she had begun to dress like a man and she rode astride like a man. She worked hard herself from morning to night and she kept a firm rein on her servants and her laborers. She had shown what persistent hard work can do and she had achieved wonders on what had been little more than a stony waste. He, Gömör, had got to know her well and he had followed her example and introduced her methods on his own estate, and up to the present he had seen no cause to regret it. When the Major had first come to settle in Unwar he had never ridden over to Maroshely to visit his neighbor, but when he had already been at Unwar for a number of years really

Maroshely had fallen seriously ill. She had been door and then the Major had ridden over to Maroshely and attended to her until she was well again. From that time on he had visited her frequently. Her recovery under his care had been so remarkable that at the time there had been a good deal of talk of animal magnetism, at which the Major was said to be an adept. However,


at death's



no one had known anything for

certain about his methods.

In any case, an unusually close and intimate friendship had developed between the two. Brigitta Maroshely was .certainly worthy of the profoundest feelings of friendship, but whether of the passionate attachment the Major had conceived for the already ageing and far from beautiful woman was another matter. But passion was undoubtedly the right word to describe the Major's feelings for her and everyone who knew them both could plainly see it. The Major would undoubtedly marry Brigitta if he could, and he was obviously deeply grieved at not being able to do so. Nothing was known about the husband's whereabouts or his fate and there was therefore no possibility of a divorce, nor could his death be assumed. It said a good deal for Brigitta Maroshely's qualities that she, whose husband had once so irresponsibly left her, should now be sought after by such a serious wooer. Such was the story Gömör told me about the affairs of Brigitta Maroshely and the Major, and it made me more than ever anxious to meet her. Whilst out visiting I saw her son again on one or two occasions, and then the day came which had been fixed for our ride over to Maroshely to visit his



night before as I lay in bed and the chirping of myriads of crickets filled my drowsy ear before I fell asleep


thoughts dwelt on her and all I had heard. And when she appeared in my dreams. I stood once again on the heath before the strange rider who had lent me the .horse and the escort to take me to Unwar and her beautiful eyes held me so in thrall that I was rooted to the spot and aware that I was condemned to spend the rest of my days there on the heath, unable to stir. But then my dream ceased and I fell into an untroubled sleep to wake up feeling fresh and vigorous the next morning. After breakfast our horses were brought round and in my heart I was deI fell asleep

lighted to


woman who had ing in


that at last I

so occupied




in the night.

to see face to face the thoughts, even to appear-



Past in the Steppes

Before I describe how we came to Maroshely, how I made the acquaintance of Brigitta and how I came to be so often on her estate after that, I must first tell something at least of her earlier life, for without that it would be impossible to understand what follows. How I obtained such a detailed knowledge of the circumstances which are about to be described will result naturally from my relationship to the Major and to Brigitta Maroshely and develop as my story goes along. It is not necessary that I should reveal beforehand what I myself did not learn prematurely but from the unfolding of the events themselves. The human race- possesses an extraordinary and wonderful quality

which we know

as beauty.

tracted by a felicity in appearance though






are not always

able to say just in what the attraction consists. Beauty is everywhere around us. It lies in the eye of the beholder. Yet sometimes it is not present in features which seem formed according to all the canons that normally produce it. Sometimes beauty goes unperceived because it blossoms in the desert, or because the seeing eye has not yet lighted upon it. And often it is praised and near idolized where in reality it is lacking. But where a heart beats high in ecstasy and passion, and where two hearts beat as one, it is ever present, or the heart would fail and the love of twin souls perish. It



a strange flower and often it blooms in unlikely whatever the soil, once it burgeons it can


hardly be destroyed. Remove it from one spot and it will blossom again in another, and often in the least considered place. It is proper to mankind alone and it magnifies the man who kneels before it, pouring into his trembling and ecstatic heart all the things that make the life of man worth while. To have it not, or know it not, is a tragedy, and he in whom no other eye can perceive it is an object of


84 pity.


child in

the heart of a mother can turn or can no longer she cannot

away from a


divine even

shimmer of its glory. And so it was with the child Brigitta. When she was born her mother had no feelings for her child. To her it was not the faintest

the helpless, appealing


creature that calls out



love and tenderness in a normal mother's heart. And later when the child lay amidst the snow-white linen in its beau-

face was clouded over because of this deprivation and it was as though a wicked fairy had breathed over it. Almost unwittingly the mother would turn her glance away to where her two other little children played together on the deep, rich carpet. They were the tiful gilded cot its

vessels of beauty to her.

When the




came they

neither praised nor criticized

child but turned their attention to

so the child grew up.


its sisters.

father often went through

room indifferently on his affairs, and when the mother sometimes embraced and fondled the other children in despairing ardor she did not observe the dark eyes of Brigitta as they stared at her unwinkingly as though the small child already understood and resented the slight it put upon her. When the child cried her wants were attended to; when she remained quiet she was left alone. The others had their own affairs that interested them and the child lay there, the

on her cot or at the intricate on the wallpaper. When her limbs grew stronger and her cot was no longer the one place in which she stayed, she would sit in a corner and play with her bricks and utter strange sounds she had heard from no one. As her games became more complicated her rebellious eyes would often bear that look that boys have when they intend some forbidden thing. If her sisters ever tried to join in her games she would reject them roughly, even striking them. And when, in a belated surge of love and pity, her mother would take her into her arms and weep over her the child would go stiff and cry and struggle to escape from the clinging arms around her. staring at the gilt decorations




and frustration the mother now grew more loving, but also more embittered. She did not realize that when the first small soft roots had sought the warm soil of mother love and found themselves rebuffed they had turned in on themselves and found an obstinate Because of


this rejection

in the stoniness of a lonely heart.

And now As

the stony waste spread



grew up and the period of fine clothes began, those for Brigitta were always thought to be good enough for her. But the clothes of her sisters were altered and adjusted again and again before they were finally considered perfect. Great care was taken to teach the other children how to behave and they were praised when their conduct was pleasing. Brigitta was not even blamed, although she often creased her clothes and made them dirty. When the time came for learning lessons and the mornings were devoted to them, Brigitta would sit there staring at book or map with the only beautiful feature she posthe children

And if the teacher suddenly asked her a question she would start, as though out of a reverie, and not know what to answer. During the long evenings, and at other times when the family was in the drawing room and she was not missed, she would lie at full length on the floor, sprawling on books or pictures, or on torn cards her sisters no longer wanted. And all the while a fantastic but crippled world festered in her heart. The library door was never locked and, although no one suspected it, she had read half her father's books, though most of them she could not as yet understand. Now and again pieces of paper were found lying around with strange and wild drawings on them, and these she must have made. sessed: her dark, glowing eyes.


young girls began to become young ladies Brigitta some strange plant in a conventional bed. Her sisters were now soft-fleshed beautiful creatures, made to grace a drawing room, but Brigitta was strong and slim. Her strength was almost that of a youth, and if her sisters teased her, or wanted to embrace her affectionately, she would put them away firmly with her strong slim arms. was





Manual labor attracted her and often she would work until beads of sweat stood out on her forehead. She took no music lessons as her sisters did, but she rode a horse with spirit and as well as any youth. Often she would lie in the grass, wearing her best clothes, talking to herself and declaiming to the silent bushes. It was about this time that her father began to make her reproaches for her wayward and obstinate behavior. Even when she did talk she would sometimes fall silent suddenly and her mood would become sullen and resentful. It was no use her mother's making encouraging signs to her or expressing helplessness and bitter despair by wringing her hands; her daughter still remained silent. On one occasion her angry father so far forgot himself as to chastise her, the grown girl, because she refused to go into the drawing room when her presence was desired there. She just looked at him with hot, dry eyes, and still refused to go. Whatever he did would have made no difference; she would have remained unmoved. If there had been just one person around her with an understanding eye for her hidden self, just one who could see the beauty that was there, just one person for whom she could have felt something beyond contempt and resentment But there was no one. The others could not help her and there was nothing she could do for them. The family lived in town and had always done, and there they led a life of brilliance and fashion. As the daughters grew up and became young women of marriageable age, reports of their beauty spread and soon many people were coming to the house on their account, and the social gatherings and entertainments became even more numerous and more brilliant than before. The heart of more than one young man beat higher and longed for possession of one of the treasures the house contained. But the girls were unmoved; as yet they were too young to understand such things. However, they gave themselves up gladly to the pleasure such parties brought with them, and the ordering .



of a

new gown and


the preliminaries of a party





their rapt attention for days in advance.



any case, as the youngest she was never consulted, as though she were still too young to know and understand anything about such matters. Sometimes she was present on such social occasions and then she would always wear a full-skirted black silk dress she had made herself, but usually she avoided company and remained in her own room, and no one knew how she occupied her Brigitta. In

time there.


number of years passed in this way and then one day young man who had already caused quite a fluttering in various circles appeared in the town. His name was Stephen Murai and he had been brought up on his father's country estate. When his formal education was completed he was sent out on the Grand Tour in preparaa certain

tion for taking his place in the select society of his


was on his return that he came to the capital, where Brigitta and her family lived. Before long he became the main subject of conversation in society. Some praised his intelligence and others praised his good manners, his charm and his modesty. And many people declared that they had never seen anyone quite so handsome as this young newcomer. But, of course, there were those who preferred malice and slander, and they said that there was something wild and arrogant about him. You could see quite plainly, they said, that he had been brought up in the country. He was also proud, they said, and, if it came to the point, probably deceitful. But one way or the other, more than one young woman who had not yet had the opportunity was very anxious to make his acquaintance country.



she heard of his reputation. father knew this young man's family quite well, and as a young man, when he too had traveled a good deal, he had often stayed on their estate, though later, when he settled down in town for good, he had rather lost touch with them. He knew that at that time this family had Brigitta's

been wealthy and their present state,

now he made

discreet inquiries about

finding, to his satisfaction, that they



were now wealthier than ever, for the simple life they led on their country estates had caused their fortunes to increase still further. Should this young man prove personally acceptable, therefore, he would obviously make a very suitable candidate for the hand of one of the girls. It was quite obvious, of course, that in view of the young man's expectations other mothers and fathers would be moved by similar ideas and so Brigitta's father lost no time but promptly invited the young man to visit the house. This Stephen Murai did on a number of occasions, but at first Brigitta did not meet him because for some time she had practically given up her in any case rare appearances in the drawing room. However, at about this time she accepted an invitation to a social gathering at the house of an uncle. This was unusual, but as a younger girl she had sometimes stayed with this uncle and found his company agreeable. She was therefore present that evening and she sat there in her usual black silk dress watching what was going on around her. She was also wearing a headdress she had made for herself. It was not the fashion to wear such a headdress and her sisters found it unbecoming, even ugly, but, in fact, it suited her dark complexion very well. Many guests were present and when she casually looked toward a litde group not far away from where she was sitting she noticed that a young man with dark, romantic eyes was looking at her. Modestly she looked away at once, but a little later she observed that the young man was again looking at her. It was Stephen Murai. About a week later her father gave a ball and Stephen Murai was invited. He arrived when most of the other guests were already present and the dancing had already begun. The gentlemen were just taking their partners for the second dance and looking around he saw Brigitta. He went up to her immediately and asked her respectfully for the honor of the dance, but she refused, saying that she had never learned to dance. He then bowed silently and went away. Brigitta sat down on a couch behind a table and watched the glittering scene around her. Murai chatted hap-



and danced with some of the young That evening he seemed more than usually agreeable and courteous to everyone. At last the ball came to an end and the guests departed. it had cost her a great deal Brigitta went up to her room of pleading and persistence to persuade her parents to let her have a room to herself in which she could be alone as pily with various people ladies.

she could not bear to she desired. As she undressed now have a maid around her she looked into the mirror and studied her dark-complexioned face in its frame of jet black curls. When she went to bed it was not a soft couch,

but firm, as she liked it she drew up the white linen sheets and lay down with her slim arms behind her head and stared with sleepless eyes at the ceiling. Other parties followed, and now Brigitta was always there and so was Stephen Murai. He continued to pay attention to her, greeting her respectfully, and when she rose to go he would always be at hand to help her with her shawl or give her her fan. Once she had left the room it was not long before the wheels of Stephen Murai's carriage sounded in the courtyard below as he was driven home. This went on for some time until one evening she was again at a party given by her uncle. It was a warm evening and it was hot in the ballroom so Brigitta went out on to the

balcony through the open French windows. Hearing a step behind her she turned and found that Stephen Murai had followed her. Standing there on the balcony away from the lights they talked of unimportant matters, but there was an unusual timidity in his voice. He referred to the night then and said that it was unjust to speak harshly of the darkness. On the contrary, it was a kind and lovely thing and it soothed and comforted the anxious heart. Then he fell silent and she fell silent with him. After a while they went back into the ballroom and he stood for a long time by himself at a window.

When Brigitta went home that night she undressed in her room, slowly discarding one piece of finery after the other, and putting on her nightdress. Then once again she looked



at herself in the mirror, for a long time. Tears welled to her eyes and soon she was weeping uncontrollably. They were the first tears she had ever wept in her life and now they ran down her cheeks freely as though she were making up for all the bitter but unshed tears of her life. She had sunk to the floor and she sat there crouched down with her feet under her and cried her heart out as though relief would come when she could cry no more. It was a place where she often sat crouched in reverie and by chance there was a picture on the floor there, a child's picture and it showed one brother sacrificing himself for the other. Impulsively, and hardly knowing why, she picked it up and pressed it to her lips until it was creased from her kisses and wet from her tears. At last she ceased to weep, but although the candles had burnt low she still crouched there on the floor before her mirror like a heart-broken child that has cried itself out and feels relief. Her hands lay crossed and motionless in her lap and the ribbons and pleats of her nightdress were damp from her tears and hung disconsolately over her ripening bosom. There she remained sunk in reverie, but after a long while she sighed deeply once or twice as though drawing new breath into her body. Then she passed her hand over her eyes, rose and went to bed. Lying there by the faint glow of a night light she had placed behind a small screen after having put out the candles she murmured to herself

incredulously: "It can't

be true.


can't be true.'*

And then she fell asleep. When she met Stephen Murai seemed

again after that nothing

have changed outwardly between them, but he sought her company more than ever and there was now something shy and almost hesitant in his manner. He said very little to her and she gave him no encouragement, not even the slightest. There were many opportunities for him to speak to her alone, but he let them all pass unutilized until one day anto


other arose and then he


summoned up courage and

spoke. He said that he felt that she was not very amiably disposed toward him, and if that were really so all he asked was that she should allow herself to get to know him better. Perhaps

then he might not prove entirely unworthy of her attention. Perhaps, after all, he had qualities, or could develop them, her respect at least, if not which would win her respect something he would^desire a thousand times more earnestly. "No, Stephen," she answered. "It is not that I am not well disposed toward you. Oh, no! Far from it. But there is one thing I must beg of you. Do not seek my hand. Do not, .


beg of you, for

to regret


you do you




most surely have cause


"But why, Brigitta? Why do you say that?" the young asked in amazement. It was a moment or two before she replied and then she spoke slowly: "Because no love but the very deepest would be at all acceptable to me. You see, I know that I am not beautiful, and just because of that I would demand a love greater than that you could feel for the most beautiful girl in the world. How deep such a love would have to be I cannot tell, but I feel that it would have no limit and no end. And now you know how impossible it is that you should pay court to me. You are the only one who has ever taken it for granted that I even had a heart at all, and because of that I would never


deceive you." Perhaps she would have said more, but at that moment others approached and he saw that her lips were trembling as

though in pain.

from discouraging Stephen Murai such words were calculated to increase his ardor. He began to worship her almost as though she were an angel of light and always he ignored the greater beauties so willingly around him, looking instead beyond them in the hope of meeting her eyes. And so it went on until in her breast the dark irresistible power began to stir and cause her arid heart It is clear that far



and tremble. It was soon impossible for either them to conceal such feelings altogether. Those around them began incredulously to suspect the unbelievable and

to blossom



at last

they were convinced their astonishment

no bounds. For his part Stephen Murai took no pains feelings for Brigitta.


the contrary, he


to conceal his

seemed anxious

the world should know. One day as they stood alone room from which they could hear in the distance the sound of the music the company had come together to en-



in a


he took her hand and drew her to him wordlessly. She

made no attempt to resist the gentle pressure and their faces came closer and closer together until she felt his lips on hers and softly answered his kiss. It was the first time in her life that she had ever kissed a living soul, not even her mother or her sisters. And many years later Murai declared that never in his life either before or since had he experienced such pure and deep emotion as he did the first time those lonely, untouched lips met his. With this first kiss the barrier that had been between the two was gone. There was no further hindrance to their union. Within a few days the two were openly affianced and Brigitta was the intended bride of the man who had been so widely and so earnestly sought after. Both families readily gave their approval to the match and a serener relationship developed between the two young people. A warm and heartening glow gradually arose in the lonely heart of the neglected girl, and then steadily developed into something rich and gay. The instinct that had drawn Stephen Murai to her had not deceived him. Her character was stronger and purer than that of most women, and because her heart had never been burdened by premature thoughts and imaginings of love, real love, now that it had come, could flourish in it all





intimate association that



veloped between the two was more than usually delightful



had always been alone she had built up a world of her own into which no one else had entered, but now he was privileged to do so and it was something new and strange and sweet that had previously belonged to her alone. Her personality began to flower richly before his eyes and he gratefully recognized the warmth and profundity of her love, which rose like a stream of pure gold as though between banks that had long been deserted. The hearts of others were divided amongst a great many things and a great many people, but hers had remained whole, and as he had been the only one to recognize its very presence so now he was the only one to possess it. Time passed on light and delicate wings and he lived in joy and elation throughout the days of their betrothal. At last came their wedding day and at the church portals after the solemn ceremony Stephen Murai took his silent bride into his arms and lifted her into the carriage that was to take them to their new home. The two young people had decided to live in town, and thanks to his father's generosity Stephen Murai had been able to take a fine house and furnish it magnificently. His father had long been a widower living alone on his country estate and never coming to the capital; but for his son's wedding he made the journey. Brigitta's father and mother to him. Because she

were there too, together with her sisters, her favorite uncle and a number of other close relations. Both Murai's father and Brigitta's had desired that the marriage should be solemnized in great state and so it had been and afterward there was a splendid reception for all the wedding guests. When the last guests had departed, Stephen Murai led his bride through the brilliantly lit reception rooms to their own private apartments and there he sat alone with the girl who until then had had only one room that she could really call her own and who was now his wife.


beautiful everything was, Brigitta!

derfully everything has




saw you. Something

to pass!





And how won-





once that you were



a woman to whom I could not remain indifferent. But I did not realize at once that I must either love you or hate you forever. How happy I am that it is love and not hate!" Brigitta made no reply, but she held his hand in hers and

her fine dark eyes looked serenely around her. After a while Murai called the servants and ordered to clear away all signs of the wedding reception, to extinguish the unnecessary lights and to turn the festive house into the living place they were now to occupy to-



was done the servants were sent to their night descended on the new home and on the new family of two who had shared it for but a few gether.


quarters and the



From then on Stephen Murai and his bride lived almost wholly in their own home, visiting the houses of others only rarely. When they had first made each other's acquaintance they had always been in the company of others, and even during their engagement they had been together only in public. Now they retired gladly into the privacy of their own home and neither felt that anything outside themselves or outside their walls was necessary to their happiness. Although the house had been well furnished and lavishly equipped, there was still a great deal to be done to make it exactly as they wanted it, an addition here, an improvement there, a rearrangement elsewhere. They thought over what was still to be done, consulted each other on all points and discussed what was still to be obtained, until in this way their surroundings were gradually ordered to their liking and their guests were received in an atmosphere of domestic comfort and simpHcity ,which was at the same time refined and beautiful. Within a year of their marriage Brigitta bore her husband a son, and this new marvel kept them more than ever in their own home. Brigitta was taken up with the care for her child, and Murai now had his affairs to attend to, for his father had handed over part of the estate and this Murai now administered from the town.




boy was old enough not to need quite the same constant attention, and when Murai had put his own affairs so far into order that they no longer needed his every spare moment, he began to take his wife out again; into society, the

to public places, to the theater

and so on.

sions Brigitta noticed that he treated her

On if

such occa-

possible with

even greater consideration and more marked affection than he did at home and her heart moved to him in gratitude for his understanding. In the following spring he took her and the boy away into the country and when they returned in the autumn he proposed that they should now live in the country rather than the town, making their home on one of his estates. After all, he declared, it was much more beautiful in the country than in the town and life was, on the whole, more agreeable there. Brigitta agreed and so they went into the country to live. Once they were there Murai settled down to the life of a country gentleman on his estate, in which he now took a deep interest, developing it and introducing many changes for the better. His chief recreation was shooting and he often went out alone with his gun, sometimes on foot and sometimes on horseback. It was thus that fate led him to make the acquaintance of another woman, a being totally different to anything he had known before. It was on one such shooting expedition that he first saw her. His horse was picking its way carefully down a wooded slope when suddenly he turned his head involuntarily and

met those of a beautiful woman who was regardhim through the foliage of the surrounding bushes. They were like the eyes of some shy and untamed gazelle, and before he could take a second and closer look they were gone. The woman was also on horseback and in a moment she had turned her horse and galloped away across his eyes


the heath.

Her name was Gabrielle, he discovered, and she was the only daughter of an old Count who had his estate in the



neighborhood. She had, like him, been brought up in the country and she was a wild creature, for her father had allowed her to do as she pleased, believing that in this way she would best develop her natural qualities and not grow up to be an animated doll like the women of the town, for whom the Count had nothing but contempt. Gabrielle's beauty was renowned throughout the neighborhood, but no word of it had as yet come to Murai's ears, for he had never lived on this estate before and quite recently he had been traveling to his other estates. A few days later the two met again, at the very same spot. After that they met often and became acquainted. They asked no questions of each other and they were not curious to know who they were or where they came from. They just accepted each other, and the girl, unsophisticated and ingenuous, laughed, joked and teased Murai, urging him on to ride wild and daring races with her and galloping along madly at his side, an untamed and heavenly enigma. He fell in gaily with her high spirits and usually let her win. One day when they were racing wildly over the heath and she was too exhausted and out of breath to speak she could bring him to a halt only by grasping repeatedly at his bridle. He reined in his horse and dismounted. As he lifted her out of the saddle she leaned against him and whispered softly that she was defeated. Her stirrup leather needed adjustment and as he put it right she stood against a tree, breathless, but glowing with life and vitality. When he straightened himself he seized her impulsively and pressed her to him fiercely. Then, without waiting to see whether she was pleased or angry, he leapt into the saddle

and galloped off. It was sheer high spirits and the impulse of a moment that had made him act so, but as he held her there was an indescribable ecstasy in his heart, and as he rode back his mind was filled with thoughts of her soft cheeks, her sweet breath and her sparkling eyes. After that they no longer sought each other's company.



and when by chance they met again in the house of a neighbor they both flushed a deep red. Murai then went away to visit one of his other estates a long way off, and there he stayed for some time in a fever of reorganization and rearrangement. Brigitta was aware of what had happened and her heart went numb. A bitter feeling of shame arose in her bosom and when she went about the house on her affairs it was as though a dark shadow were mioving through the rooms. But at last she ruthlessly crushed the gnawing pain in her heart and made her decision. When Murai returned from the storm of activity on his distant estate she went to him in his room and gently proposed that they should part. It took him by surprise and shocked him deeply, but he argued with her, pleaded with her, begged her to change her mind. In vain. All she would say was, "I warned you that you would have cause to regret it if you married me. I warned you that you would regret it." At last he sprang to his feet, seized her hands and declared with deep emotion, "Woman, I hate you more than words can say. I hate you." She made no reply to his impassioned outburst but just looked at him with dry, reddened eyes. He packed his trunk and sent it on ahead and three days afterwards, toward evening, he left the house in his traveling clothes. When he had gone she threw herself to the floor and lay there as she had once lain in the grass

declaiming to the silent bushes the feelings that filled her But now they were feelings of pain and humiliation and the scalding tears ran from her eyes unchecked. They were the last tears she shed for the man she loved so much and after that her eyes were dry. In the meantime he galloped wildly over the heath, and a hundred times he was sorely tempted to draw the saddle pistol from its holster and blow his fevered brains out. On his way, and whilst it was still daylight, he had passed heart.



Gabrielle standing on the balcony of her father's house and looking out. He did not even raise his eyes but rode

on past her without a sign of recognition. Six months later he sent back formal agreement to the divorce and his consent to his wife's retaining the boy. Perhaps he felt that the child would be better taken care of in her hands, or perhaps his old love for her made him unwilling to deprive her of the last dear thing she possessed. After all, for him the whole world now lay open again. At the same time he made generous provision for

both her and the boy, sending her all the necessary documents containing the arrangements. This was the first sign she had received from him since his departure, and it was the last. Nor did she see him again. She learned later from his lawyer that the funds he needed for himself had been transferred to a banking house at Amsterdam. More she never learned. Not long after this parting Brigitta's father, mother and died within a very short space of time. And while after that Murai's father, who was already an old man, died too. Brigitta was now completely alone in the world with her child. Far away from the capital she owned an estate in a barren part of the country where she was unknown. The

two a

sisters all


house and the estate were known as Maroshely and it was the place from which her own family took its name. She decided to go there where she could live unknown to the rest of the world and this she did, resuming her maiden name. As a child when they had given her, perhaps out of pity, a beautiful doll, she had played with it happily for a while, but then discarded it in favor of things that were dearer to her, simple things, strangely shaped sticks and stones. Now she took with her to Maroshely the greatest treasure she possessed, her son, abandoning all else. And there she watched over him, caring for him devotedly, with eyes only for him and his needs. But as he grew older and his own world extended so did hers. She began to pay more atten-



and to the development of the barren heathlands around her. She put on man's clothing, rode astride as she had done in her youth, and began to appear more freely amongst her people. As soon as the boy could ride a horse he went everywhere with her, and the vigorous, creative, longing soul of the mother now gradually flowered in the son. Her interests and her activities grew wider and a paradise of creative activity surrounded her and rewarded her efforts. The bare hills around grew green with the vines and gushing streams watered the plains until what had been a stony waste became a rich and heroic poem of human effort. And like tion to the running of her estate

real poetry it brought its own blessings. Others followed her shining example and an association of like-minded landowners grew up to carry her efforts all

lived farther away were now and emulation and on the blind and barren heathlands there were increasing signs of vigorous human activity as though a friendly eye were opening in still



Even those who

to enthusiasm

the wasteland. Brigitta



and worked


Maroshely for


when my friend the Major came to his neglected at Unwar and elected to settle down for the rest of





there where he had never lived before, and where, he assured me, he learned application and persistence from this strange woman to whom he was soon deeply attracted by the belated affection I have previously recorded.




Present in the Steppes

The Major and really the







rode over to Maroshely. Brigitta was had seen on horseback on the day of

friendly smile


that she recalled

our short acquaintance and I blushed, remembering my unfortunate attempt to give her money. There were no other guests present and the Major introduced me as an old acquaintance of his travels in whose company he had spent



an acquaintance, he added, who was a good deal of time about, he flattered himself to think, to develop into a friend. I

was very







no small thing

knew almost

everything acquaintance with him. He must therefore have talked to her about me quite a lot and it indicated that he recalled our days together with real pleasure and that on her part she regarded it as worth while to remember such things. She declared amiably that she did not propose to take me on a tour of inspection of the house and the estate because I could see everything that interested me when we rode out in the ordinary way and on the many occasions that she hoped I would now ride over from Unwar as her guest, which she now invited me to be whenever I pleased. She then reproached the Major for not having visited her for some time and he excused himself, pleading the pressure of work at the harvest and saying in particular that he had not wished to come over without me but that at the same time he had wished to judge first how well or how indifferently I might suit her company. We then went into a large hall in which we rested for a while after our ride. The Major took advantage of the occasion to produce a writing tablet and ask Brigitta a number of questions, noting down her replies, which were clear, very simply couched and to the point. It was then her turn to ask various questions relatmg to this or that neighbor, to the business of the moment and to the forthcoming Diet. The discussion gave me an opportunity of observing how earnestly she dealt with such matters and what weight the Major attached to her opinions. When she was uncertain on this or that point she did not hesitate to say so openly and to ask the Major his views. The Major finally put away his writing tablet and as we were now rested we got up to take a walk on the estate. On the way the talk between them turned to certain alterations she had made on her property since his last visit, and when she spoke of her estate and the thmgs connected for

to learn that she already

relating to





and warmth, almost a tenderness, in her tone. She showed us a wooden veranda she had had built on the garden side of the house and she asked the Major whether he thought it would be a good idea to train vines up the pillars, adding that he might well have something of the sort built at his own house as it had proved a very agreeable place to sit in the late autumn sun. She then led us into the park, which, it appeared, had been just a forest of oak trees ten years previously. Now there were carefully-kept paths laid out through it and banked streams. Deer were grazing there in safety, for in the course of time she had caused a high wall to be built right round it to keep out the wolves. The considerable expense the building of the wall had entailed had been met from the profits of her maize crops and her cattle breeding, both of which she had greatly developed and improved. When the building of the wall had been concluded, huntsmen had thoroughly quartered the whole park to make perhaps a mother wolf with her sure that no wolves whelps had been enclosed by the wall, but nothing had been found. Only after that had the deer been established and bred there. It seemed almost as though the deer knew that she was their benefactor, for those we saw on our walk were not in the least timid. As we came near they raised their heads and looked at us with their large velvety eyes but they made no attempt to flee. Brigitta was obviously very proud of this park and she took great pleasure in showing it to her guests. From there we went on to the pheasantry and as we walked along the wooded paths with little white clouds showing through the oak trees above our heads I took the opportunity of observing her more closely than I had as yet been able to do. Her eyes struck me as even more darkly liquid and more glowing than those of the deer, and perhaps at that moment they were more sparkling than ever because at her side walked a man who understood and appreciated her and knew what she was striving for. Her teeth were very white and her body was still lithe and supple although she was no with



was a

certain pride



longer young and she impressed me as having ible fund of strength and vitality. As she had visit she was wearing woman's clothes and aside her affairs in order to devote the day to

As we walked through great variety of subjects:

an inexhaustexpected our she had put us.

the park the talk turned to a the future of the country, the

common man and

the improvement of his and betterment of the soil, the conservancy work for the regulation of the Danube, and the personalities of the prominent men of the country. In this pleasant fashion we went through the greater part of the park, though, as she had said, she made no attempt to show us round on a formal tour of inspection and was interested only in keeping us company. When we returned to the house it was time to eat. Gustave, her son, appeared at the table. He was bronzed from the sun and the slim, engaging youth looked the picture of health. He had taken his mother's place to supervise the work in the fields that day and now he briefly reported this and that item of interest to her. Otherwise he sat modestly at table with us and listened rather than spoke. In him one could sense a tremendous enthusiasm for the present and an unbounded confidence in the future. Here too, as in the Major's house, it was the custom for the servants attached to the house to eat at the common table and I noticed my old acquaintance Milosch, who acknowledged our previous meeting by greeting me respectfully. raising of the

conditions, the tilling

The greater part of the afternoon was then spent inspecting various innovations which the Major had not seen before, and in visits to the gardens and the vineyards. Toward evening we made ready to ride back to Unwar, and as we were gathering our things together Brigitta reproached the Major with having ridden home one evening from Gömör's estate too lightly clothed for the cool of the evening. He knew very well how treacherous the dewy air of the steppes was at that time of the day so why did he expose himself unnecessarily to its vagaries? The Major made no attempt to excuse himself but merely replied that



he would take better care of himself. I remembered the occasion to which Brigitta referred and I happened to know that when it turned out that her son Gustave had come to Gömör's estate without his Bunda, the Major had insisted that Gustave should take his, declaring, untruthfully, that he had another one to hand in the stables. This time, however, we were both well provided with warm clothing for our return journey in the cool of the evening. Brigitta assured herself that this was really so and stood outside the house with us until we were safely in the saddle wearing our warm jackets. Just before we set off she gave the Major one or two commissions and then she took leave of us amiably and without fuss and went back in the future

into the house.

Their conversation throughout the day had been serene it had seemed to me that when they addressed each other there was a certain inner warmth which neither of them cared to show openly, perhaps regarding themselves as too old for demonstrations of affection. The Major and I rode back together in the moonlight and when I said a few sincere words of admiration for Brigitta which I had been unable to withhold he declared simply: "My friend, in my life I have often been deeply desired, though whether I was as deeply loved I cannot say, but the society and the regard of that woman have meant more to me than anything else I have ever encountered in this world." He spoke calmly and without emotion but with such certainty and deep conviction that it was quite clear that what he said was the simple truth. At that moment, though it is not my nature, I think I envied the Major for this deep friendship and for his good fortune in having been able to settle down so happily, for at that time I had no firm footing anywhere in the world, or anything to which I could cling, except perhaps the stick that accompanied me on my travels through so many countries.

and cheerful, but

That day, after we had arrived back at Unwar, the Major suggested that I should stay on as his guest through-



out the winter as well. He had begun to treat me with still greater intimacy and to open his heart to me, whilst my feelings of regard and affection for him were growing even stronger. I therefore gladly accepted his offer. He then told me that he would like me to take a definite part in the management of his estate, to take over one branch of his activities and to run it entirely. I should have no cause to regret this


in the future


might come

in useful. I

agreed at once to this suggestion too, and in fact it did prove useful to me. It is largely the Major I have to thank that I now have a household of my own and a loving wife to help me. Once I had agreed to take a definite and more settled share in the happy and harmonious life he had built up at Unwar I was anxious to do my share to the very best of my ability. I worked hard and enthusiastically and as I became more experienced so I became more capable and was able to be more and more useful. In this way I learnt the profound satisfaction and pleasure of creative activity and


more and more how up the work at hand and do it thoroughly rather than to idle around from place to place as I had previously been doing on the pretext of gaining experience of life. For the first time I became capable of really sustained and persistent effort. My life at Unwar was very happy and the time passed almost unnoticeably. I was also a frequent guest at Maroshely, where I came to be looked on almost as a member of the family. At the same time the relationship between Brigitta and the Major became more and more clear to me. There was no question of any secret passion or any feverish desires, and certainly not a trace of the animal magnetism of which I had heard rumors. However, the relationship between the two was certainly unusual and I had self-respect increased. I realized





to take

never previously encountered anything of the sort. The nature of that relationship was beyond all question what, in the ordinary way and between two people of opposite sexes, we should call love, and yet it did not express itself



in the usual way. The Major treated the ageing woman with a tenderness and respect that was reminiscent more of the devotion a man pays to a higher being, and it was clear that it filled her with a profound inner joy. Her happiness showed itself in her face like the blossoming of some late flower and it gave her features an expression of confidence and serenity, and at the same time a radiance that was quite astonishing. She clearly returned his affection and respect in full measure, but in her attitude toward him there was occasionally a trace of anxiety which expressed itself in solicitude for his health and in attention to those minor needs of life, both so typical of a woman when she loves. So much was obvious in the feelings of each for the other, but beyond that there was nothing further in the behavior or attitude of either. The Major once confided in me that, at a moment when they had come to talk together of each other in a more intimate fashion than people usually do, they had agreed that they should be united by friendship of the deepest kind, by co-operation toward the same end and by a like striving, but by nothing further. They were both anxious that this calm relationship should remain firmly founded if possible to the end of their days. They were determined to ask no more of fate, and then there need be no barb, no disappointment. It had been like that between them for a good many years now, he said, and that was how they desired that it should remain. But man proposes ... It was not long after he had told me this that that fate of which they had both decided to ask no more acted in despite of them and brought about a happening which swiftly and unexpectedly gave matters a very different complexion. It was already late autumn, in fact winter had really begun, and one day I was riding with the Major along the new road with its double line of poplars. We had proposed to do a little shooting but a thick mist lay over the already frozen steppes. Suddenly as we rode the sound of two shots boomed dully through the mist.



"They were



pistols," declared the

Major. "I would

the reports anywhere," and he immediately urged

his horse into a furious gallop along the avenue, riding as

hard as I have ever seen a man ride. I had a foreboding of and I quickly galloped after him toward the spot from where the sound of the shots had come. When I came up with him after a moment or two my eyes saw a spectacle so terrible and yet so thrilling that even now I shudder at it in recollection and my heart beats higher. By the old gallows tree, where the rush-grown stream flowed past, the Major had come upon the youngster Gustave defending himself against a pack of fierce wolves, but the lad was already clearly tiring. He had killed two wolves with his pistols and slashed open a third with his blade as the beast sprang at his horse's head. Now they were standing round him irresolutely for a moment, held off only by the look of fierce desperation in his eyes. Licking their slavering chops they looked at him and waited their opportunity. A slight movement, anything or nothing, and they would have sprung at him all together and the boy would have been lost. But in this critical situation the Major thundered up. He had already dismounted when I arrived and I was just in time to see him fling himself at the wolves almost as though he were a wild animal himself. I had heard two more reports and the Major had fired from the saddle, killing two more wolves. Now I saw his hunting blade flash left and right amongst the ravening beasts. From his arrival the whole affair lasted three or four seconds, no more. I had just time to empty my hunting piece into the pack and they were gone, swallowed up by the thick •mist all around, and all that was left of them was the dead bodies of those that had been kifled. "Reload," shouted the Major. "They'U attack again." He recovered his own pistol, a double-barreled model, and rammed home the cartridges. Gustave and I also reloaded. No sooner had we done so and were waiting there for a moment or so listening than we heard the soft footfall of wolves from beyond the gallows tree. The famished evil



but intimidated brutes had now moment they would attack again. When they are not driven on by hunger, as they were now, wolves are cowardly creatures and more likely to flee than to attack. However, we were not equipped for wolf hunting and the wretched all-pervading mist made it impossible to see very far so we decided to get back to the house. We mounted and set our horses into a gallop. The frightened beasts needed no urging and they galloped along madly and more than once as we rode I caught a glimpse of a gray shadow loping along silently beside us in the mist. The wolves were



At any

tracking us relentlessly and we had to be on our guard the whole time. Once the Major discharged his pistol to the

but it was impossible to see whether he hit his mark and there was no time for talk. Finally we reached the park gates and the dogs which had been waiting there rushed out and chased after the wolves. A moment later we heard angry howling behind us and then it died away in the distance as the wolves fled from the dogs over the left,


"To horse all of you," shouted the Major to his men as they ran up. "Let the wolfhounds loose. I don't want my dogs to come to any harm. Rouse the neighborhood and set the hunt going. Hunt them as long as you please. double reward for every dead wolf except those lying near the gallows tree, for we killed them ourselves. One of the pistols I gave Gustave last year must be lying around there


somewhere. I see he had only one and the other holster empty. See if you can find the other pistol.*' Then the Major turned to me. "It's five years since wolves ventured so close to the house," he said. "We were beginning to feel fairly secure. It looks as though there's going to be a hard winter. It must already have set in to the north to bring them so far is

south so early in the season." The men had rushed off to carry out their master's orders, and in less time than I would have believed possible a party of eager men was on horseback accompanied by a



pack of those great shaggy dogs which are so typical of the Hungarian pusta and so necessary to the men who live and work on it. They made arrangements for rousing the neighborhood and then they set off on a hunt which could last a week, a fortnight, and even longer. Without dismounting we sat there and watched the rapid preparations, but as we finally turned away from the outbuildings and made our way toward the house we observed that Gustave was faint from a wound he had received. As we turned in under the archway which led to the living quarters he suffered a fit of giddiness and almost fell from his horse. One of the servants caught him and helped him from the saddle and then we saw that the saddle and the flanks of the horse were stained with blood. We carried the lad into one of the rooms on the garden floor and the Major ordered a bed to be prepared and a fire lit. The Major gently removed the boy's clothing and examined the wound. It proved to be a bite in the thigh; nothing very dangerous, but the loss of blood and the excitement had weakened the lad, who was now fighting against the faintness it induced. He was then made as comfortable as possible in bed and the local doctor was sent for whilst another servant rode over to Maroshely to let Bfigitta know what had happened. In the meantime the Major remained by the boy's bedside and did his best for him until the doctor arrived. After examining the patient the doctor declared that there was no danger. All the boy needed was a stimulant. Far from being serious, the loss of blood was a good thing: it would help to counteract the inflammation that so often set in after such bites. The chief trouble was the shock and excitement, but a day or two in bed would put the boy right and dispose of any fever ishness. It wouldn't be long before he was on his feet again. We were all very much relieved to hear this good report and the doctor then left with our warm thanks, for there was not one of us in the house who was not deeply attached to the lad.


Toward evening


appeared, and in her usual thorough and conscientious fashion she was not satisfied until she had examined her son very carefully to make quite certain that there was nothing else wrong with him beyond the bite. When she had finished her examination she stayed by her son's bedside and gave him the medicine second bed was quickly made the doctor had prescribed. Brigitta


same room and there she spent the night. The next morning she was once again sitting by the boy's bedside and listening to his breathing. It was perfectly regular and he was sleeping soundly and peacefully. And then something happened that made an ineradicable impression on me. I can still see the scene clearly before my eyes. I had come down early in order to inquire how the patient was doing and I had gone into the room adup

for her in the

The latter, as I have already said, gave on to the garden. The mist had gone and a red winter's sun was shining into the room through the leafless branches of the trees in the garden. The Major was also in the room with me and he stood at the window and seemed to be looking out into the garden. I could see through the open door into the sick-room where the earlymorning light had been subdued a little by light curtains drawn over the windows. Brigitta was sitting by the bed and looking closely at her son. Suddenly she gave a sigh of relief and as I looked at her I glimpsed the light of happy love and devotion in her eyes as she saw that the boy had woken up out of his long sleep and was looking around joining the sick-room.




heard ä


sound, almost like a



from where the Major had been standing and I looked round. He had half turned back into the room and I saw that there were tears in his eyes. I went toward him, anxiously asking if anything were wrong. "I have no child," he said softly. Brigitta's hearing was very keen and she must have heard the half-whispered words, for at that


she ap-



peared in the doorway. She looked a little uncertainly at my friend and then with an expression I cannot describe, as though she wanted to say something and hardly dared, she said simply:


The Major turned toward her and they looked at each other wordlessly for a moment, but no more than a moment. Then he strode resolutely toward her and they were in each other's arms. She held him tightly to her and I heard him utter a low sound, and this time there was no room for doubt: it was a sob. At that she embraced him even more closely. "We shall never part again, Brigitta," I heard him say. "Neither now nor ever." "Never, Stephen," she replied fervently. "Never." I was very ill at ease at being present at such an intimate moment and I moved silently toward the door, but she raised her hand. "Don't go, my friend," she said. "Stay here." The serious, high-minded woman had been weeping with her head on my friend's shoulder. Her eyes were still wet with tears as she looked at me and her face was radiant with indescribable beauty, for on it there was forgiveness,

we poor miserable creatures here below can aspire to. At the sight my own feelings were deeply moved. "My poor wife," exclaimed the Major. "For fifteen long years I have had to do without you, and for fifteen years you were sacrificed." She smiled gently up at him. "I was at fault," she said softly. "Forgive me, Stephen. It was the sin of pride. But I had no conception of how good you are. And, after all, the thing was quite natural. We are all drawn irresistibly by what is beautiful." He put his hand over her lips. "How can you say such a thing, Brigitta! Yes, it is true, we are all attracted by the beautiful, but I had to wander the most beautiful quality

Brigitta all

over the world before


I learnt that



in our



had abandoned it in the one heart that and steadfastly, a heart I thought I had lost forever but which still went with me through all those years and all those many countries. Brigitta, my wife and the mother of my child, you were always with me, by day and by night." "Yes, I was not lost to you," she replied. "But I have spent sad and regretful years. How good you are, Stephen! Now that I know you, how good you are!" And they embraced again as though they could never embrace enough, as though they could still hardly believe in the good fortune that had come to them again. They were like two people from whom a great burden has been suddenly lifted. Once again the world stood open to them. They were happy as children are happy, and at that moment they were as innocent as children, for the highest bloom of love, and only the highest form of love, is forgiveness, and therefore man will always find it in God and in a mother. Great hearts will forgive again and again; poor creatures never. Husband and wife had forgotten my presence again and they now turned to the sick-room where Gustave lay in bed, half-guessing what had happened and eagerly awaiting their coming. "Gustave! Gustave!" exclaimed Brigitta as -they entered the room. "It was your father all the time and you did not hearts




that I



Deeply moved




had seen and heard


now took

the opportunity of going unobtrusively out into the garden.

For the


time in


life I

truly realized

thing the love of husband and wife




what a noble

counted myself

wretched that up to then all I had known of love was the dark, smoldering flame of passion. I stayed away from the house for some time and when I finally returned everything was calm and serene and all emotional tension had been resolved. Happy and bustling




filled the rooms like cheerful sunshine after a was received with open arms as a dear witness of the joyful thing that had taken place. Once they had discovered that in their preoccupation with each other I had gone they had searched for me everywhere. Gradually I learned everything that had happened then and before. Some of it I learned at once there and then in their elation; the rest I learned in the days that followed until I was able to piece together all the details and set down my story. My old friend the Major was thus Stephen Murai. After leaving his wife he had called himself Stephen Bathori, which was his family name on the distaff side, and that was the name under which I had always known him. He had won the rank of Major in Spain, and everyone had always referred to him by it. He had traveled all over Europe under the name of Bathori and when he finally went to his neglected estate at Unwar, where no one knew him and to which he seemed drawn by some inner necessity, it was as Stephen Bathori. Although no one on his own estate there knew him, or had ever seen him there, he knew that he would be the neighbor of his wife Brigitta. But even after he had settled in Unwar he did not visit her on the estate at Maroshely she was managing so efficiently, and it was not until he heard the news of her serious illness that he did so. But then he mounted his horse and rode over at once. Her temperature was so high when he arrived that she was already wandering and she did not recognize him. After that he remained day and night at Maroshely and tended




her devotedly until she recovered. It was then that, deeply moved by their first meeting after so many years, and still deeply attached to each other by a love that had never really ceased, but also a little frightened at the thought of their future, for they were still uncertain of each other and both feared that something might again happen to separate them, they made the strange pact by which they should remain no more than firm friends. For years they had both strictly respected it and



them had dared to call it into question until fate suddenly struck at both of them through their son Gustave. Their common anxiety for what they both loved so deeply then threw them into each other's arms and brought them together once again in the more natural and more beautiful relationship of the married couple and dissipated all doubts and all fears. After a fortnight the news was made known in the neighborhood and well-wishers began to come in from near and neither of

far to present their congratulations.

remained with them throughout the winter, but at 1 Maroshely, to which they now all moved. It was the Major's firm intention never to take his wife away from the little world she had built up for herself in his absence. Perhaps the most obviously delighted and happy of them all was Gustave. He had always been deeply attached to the Major and with the earnest and burning enthusiasm of youth he had always declared him to be the finest man on God's earth. And now the man he had almost worshiped proved to be his father. That winter I watched two hearts grow more closely together than ever before in a splendid if belated blossoming of married happiness. I will never forget any of them as long as I live. But when spring came again I resumed my old German traveling garb, took my stout German stick and turned my steps in the direction of my own Fatherland once again. On I visited the grave of the lovely Gabrielle, who had died twelve years previously in the full bloom of all her youthful beauty. Two white lilies lay on the marble slab of

my way

her grave.

With melancholy but gentle thoughts I continued my journey and soon I was across the Leitha and in the distance I could see the blue haze that I knew to be the mountains of my own dear Fatherland.




1 1

would be paradoxical but perhaps not altogether false Heinrich von Kleist the archetypal German writer. To those of us expecting German abstraction and vagueness, he writes German with a clarity and precision which makes it seem a language within the German language, if not a foreign tongue. But so do Novalis, Brentano, Stifter, von Hofmannsthal, Benn and Kafka. In his writing Kleist combines discipline and intellectual toughness with tenderness and distress bordering on neurasthenia. His life It

to call

parallels lives of other



it is

torn between

a military tradition, a lost childhood, hopeless-seeming

and mysterious neurasthenic illness. His education was divided between the Prussian guard at Potsdam and loves,

the philosophy course at Frankfurt. Earlier critics thought of Kleist as a classicist, but today




him among Brentano,


German romantics— Büchner, the German literature


which represents the suppressed or overcome



Goethe. Kleist


most famous

as a playwright, his masterpiece

being the Prince of Homburg which paints the blackand-white of the young hero and winner of victories for the Prussian army,

night of his





also a


wanderer in the dark which "The

his stories, of

Earthquake in Chile" is an outstanding example, also show his strange and penetrating vision, contained within an extraordinary discipline of form and language.

The Earthquake


In Santiago, the capital of the

ment of


kingdom of

Chile, at the


1647 in which many thousands lost their lives, a young Spaniard called Jeronimo Rugera, who had been accused of a crime, was standing beneath one of the pilasters of his prison cell and was about to hang himself. A year or so previously Don Henrico Asteron, one of the richest noblemen of the city, had expelled him from his house where he had been employed as a tutor, because he had been intimate with Donna Josepha, his employer's only daughter. After an explicit warning, a secret appointment, revealed to the old man by his proud son whose malice made him watchful, aroused his indignation to such an extent that he placed her in the Carmelite convent of Our Lady of the Mountain. A happy chance had enabled Jeronimo to resume the liaison in this very place; and on a silent night he had made the convent garden the scene of his complete happiness. It was the feast of Corpus Christi and the solemn procession of nuns, followed by the novices, was just beginning when the unfortunate Josepha, now in the pangs of childbirth, collapsed on the Cathedral steps amidst the pealing of bells. This occurrence had considerable repercussions. Without consideration for her condition, the young sinner was at once taken to prison; and she had hardly entered her confinement when, at the bishop's command, a most rigorous trial was opened. The scandal was discussed with such bitterness in the city, and the whole convent in which it had taken place was atthe great earthquake of the year



tacked by so many sharp tongues that neither the appeal of the Asteron family, nor even the wish of the abbess, who had taken a liking to the young girl on account of her otherwise irreproachable conduct, could soften the severity with which she was threatened by monastic law. All that and this to the great resentment of the could be done matrons and virgins of Santiago was to induce the Viceroy to commute the sentence of death by burning into one of decapitation. Windows were hired out in the street through which the culprit was due to pass to her execution, the roofs of houses were pulled down, and the pious daughters

of the city invited their girl friends to attend the spectacle offered to divine vengeance at their sisteriy sides. Jeronimo, who meanwhile had also been put in prison, almost lost consciousness when informed of this monstrous turn of events. In vain he pondered how he might rescue her; everywhere, though borne on the pinions of reckless thought, he ran into bolts and walls, and an attempt to file through the prison bars only ended in discovery and even closer confinement. He fell on his knees in front of an image of the Holy Mother of God, who alone could offer salvation now, and prayed to her with boundless fervor. Yet the fearful day appeared and with it the conviction of the utter hopelessness of his position. The bells, which accompanied Josepha's passage to the place of execution with their ringing, could be heard clearly in the cell, and despair seized his soul. Life began to be odious to him and he resolved to kill himself with a rope that had been left by

chance in


his cell.


as was already mentioned, he was standing beneath a pilaster fastening the rope, which was to take him out of the clutches of this wretched world, to an iron bracket attached to the cornice, when suddenly the greater part of the city caved in with a crack, as if the firmament itself had collapsed, and buried all the living under its rubble. Jeronimo Rugera was stiff with horror and, as if deprived of consciousness, he now clung to the pilaster on this

The Earthquake

in Chile


which he had intended to die to keep himself from falling. The ground swayed under his feet. The prison walls cracked, and the whole building leaned as if it were about to crash down into the street. Only the fall of the house opposite prevented total collapse of the prison by partly supporting it. Trembling, his hair on end, his knees threatening to give

way, Jeronimo slipped down the steeply inclined floor toward the opening made in the prison's front by the collision of the two buildings. He was scarcely outside when a second tremor completely demolished the buildings still remaining on the shaken street. Without thinking how he might save himself from the general doom, he hurried on over debris and beams to the nearest city gate, while death launched attacks against him from all directions. Here another house caved in and, hurling rubble about, drove him into a side street. There the flame, flashing in clouds of smoke, curled out of every gable and drove him, terrified, into another street. Here, the Mapocho River, lifted out of its banks, rolled toward him with a roar and swept him into a third. Here lay a heap of corpses; there a voice still groaned under the debris; here people shouted on burning roof-tops; there men and animals struggled with the waves; here a brave rescuer endeavored to help; there stood another man pale as death, and silently extended his trembling hands to heaven. When Jeronimo had reached the gate and climbed a hill beyond it, he fainted. He had lain there, completely unconscious, for a quarter of an hour or so when he recovered and half raised himself up, his back turned to the city. He touched his forehead and chest, not knowing what to make of his situation, and an unspeakable feeling of bliss came over him when the west wind from the sea fanned his returning life and his eyes wandered in all directions over the fertile environs of Santiago. Only the crowds of bewildered people, now visible everywhere, oppressed him; he could not understand what had brought them and him to this



and only when he turned round and saw the city razed behind him did he remember the most horrible moment of his life. He bowed so low that his forehead touched the ground as he thanked God for his escape and, just as if the impression of his one horrible experience had removed all traces of the earlier ones, he wept with joy at the thought that life and all its various delights had not been taken from him. But a ring on his finger recalled Josepha and, together with her, his prison, the bells he had heard there and the moments which preceded the collapse of the building. Deep sorrow filled him again; he began to regret his prayer and thought that it was a terrible being who ruled above the clouds. He jomed the people occupied with the salvaging of their property, who poured out of the gates. Not without timidity, he ventured to ask them about Asteron's daughter and whether the execution had taken place; but no one gave him detailed information. A woman who carried an incredible load of household goods on her back, bent almost to the ground, with two small children clinging to her waist, said in passing, as though she herself had witnessed it, that Josepha had been beheaded. Jeronimo turned back; and since, when he calculated the time, he place,


himself could not doubt the execution of the sentence, he sat down in a deserted wood and abandoned himself entirely to his grief.


wished that the destructive violence of nature might

overwhelm him once more. He could not grasp why he had escaped that death which his afflicted soul desired, at the very moment when it had offered him refuge on all sides. He firmly resolved not to hesitate if even now the oaks were uprooted and their crests came crashing down upon him. Later, when he had wept long enough, and hope had returned in the midst of his tears, he got up and searched the fields. He visited every hill-top on which people were assembled. He went to meet those who fled on every road along which they swept. Wherever a woman's dress flapped in the wind, his trembling legs carried him; but

The Earthquake


in Chile

none covered the beloved daughter of Asteron. The sun was going down, and with it his hope, when he stepped on to the edge of a rock and the view into a wide valley opened out to him. Few people were to be seen. Not sure what he should do next, he let his eyes stray over the isolated groups and was about to turn away when suddenly he observed a young woman near the stream which irrigates the valley; she was washing a child. His heart leapt at the sight. Filled with presentiments, he jumped down over the rocks, calling out, "Most holy Mother of God!" and recognized Josepha when, shyly, she looked round at his noise. How blissfully they embraced, these wretches saved by a heavenly miracle! Josepha's fatal procession had taken her quite close to the place of execution, when the whole assembly was violently scattered by the crashing buildings. Her first fearful foottoward the nearest gate; but she soon regained control of her senses and turned back to the convent,

steps impelled her

where she had left her helpless little son. She found the whole convent already in flames and the abbess, who had promised to take care of the infant during those minutes which were to be Josepha's last, was at the entrance, crying out for help to save him. Fearlessly, Josepha rushed into smoke which gushed out at her, into the collapsing


building and, just as



the angels of heaven were pro-

tecting her, appeared again at the portal with the child.


was about to embrace the abbess, whose clasped hands were raised above her head when this lady was struck and killed by a falling gable, together with nearly all her nuns. Josepha retreated trembling

at this sight; she hastily closed

the abbess's eyes and fled, utterly terrified, to deliver the

precious child


heaven had restored to her from the

present danger. She had taken only a few paces

when she

ran into the Archbishop's crushed body which had just been pulled out of the debris of the Cathedral. The Viceroy's Palace had collapsed, the law courts in which sentence had been passed on her were in flames and in the place where her father's house had stood there was a lake which emitted



Josepha summoned all her strength to She hardened herself against all this wretchedness, bravely walked on from street to street with her booty and was already near the gate when she saw the nearly demolished prison in which Jeronimo had languished. The sight of this made her reel and she would have fallen down in a swoon in some corner, had not the collapse of a building weakened by the tremors driven her on again and strengthened her resistance. She kissed the child, wiped the tears out of her eyes and, no longer aware of the surrounding horrors, reached the .gate. When she found herself in the open country, she soon gathered that not everyone who had been inside a demolished building had necessarily been crushed beneath it. At the next cross roads she paused and waited to see whether perhaps another, dearest to her after little Philip, would appear. Since he did not come, and the pushing mob grew in size, she went on, turned back again, waited again and,

reddish vapors. sustain her.


pine-shaded valley to be dead. But here in the valley she found her lover, and such joy that it might have been Eden. In a voice filled with emotion, she told all this to Jeronimo and when she had finished, gave him the boy to kiss. Jeronimo took him, fondled him with a father's unspeak-


tears, crept into a dark,

to pray for his soul, since she believed


able joy, and when his stranger's face caressed him till he was silent.


the infant cry,

Meanwhile the loveliest of nights had descended on them, full of marvelously gentle fragrance, silvery and still as only a poet might dream of it. Everywhere along the banks of the stream people had sat down in the glittering moonlight and were preparing soft beds of moss and foliage to rest upon after the terrors of that day. And since the poor creatures were still lamenting, one the loss of his house, another that of his wife and child, and a third of everything, Jeronimo and Josepha crept away to a denser thicket so that the secret exultation of their souls would not give

The Earthquake offense to anyone.


in Chile

They found a splendid pomegranate


with outspread branches full of scented fruit, and the nightingale piped his voluptuous song on the tree's crest. Here

Jeronimo seated himself, leaning against its trunk; Josepha on his lap and Philip on hers, they sat and rested.



shadow passed over them with



and the moon was already fading as the dawn grew red before they went to sleep. For they had endless matter for gossip, about the convent garden and the prisons, and what they had suffered for the other's sake, and they were deeply moved at the thought of how much misery had to be brought into the world so that they might be happy! They planned to go to Concepcion as soon as the tremors had ceased, for an intimate friend of Josepha's, from whom they hoped to obtain a small loan, lived there. With this sum they would embark for Spain, where Jeronimo's relatives on his mother's side were living, there to conclude their happy lives. Thereupon, amidst many kisses, they went lights

to sleep.

When they awoke the sun was high in the sky, and they found several families busily preparing a small breakfast at the fire. Jeronimo was just wondering how to obtain food for his own, when a well-dressed young man with a child in his arms approached Josepha and asked her modestly whether she would feed at her breast this poor little wretch whose mother lay injured under those trees. Josepha was a little confused when she recognized him to be an acquaintance; but since, misinterpreting her uneasiness, he continued, "It will only be for a few minutes, Donna Josepha, and this child has not been fed since that hour which made us all unhappy," she said, "The reason for my silence was a different one, Don Fernando; in these terrible times no one refuses to let others share whatever he may possess." She handed her own child to the father, took the little stranger and gave suck to him. Don Fernando was very grateful for this kindness and



asked her to come with him to his own party who were preparing breakfast. Josepha answered that she would accept the offer with pleasure. Since Jeronimo made no objection, she followed him to his family, where she was received in the most tender and affectionate manner by Don Fernando's two sisters-in-law whom she knew to be very worthy young ladies. Donna Elvira, Don Fernando's wife, who was lying down with serious injuries to her feet, drew Josepha down toward her in a most friendly way when she saw her own sickly boy at her breast. Don Pedro too, his father-in-law, who was wounded in the shoulder, nodded to her affably. In the minds of Jeronimo and Josepha strange thoughts began to stir. They found themselves treated with so much candor and kindness, that they did not know what to think

had of their past. The scaffold, the prison and the bells they only dreamed of these? It seemed as if the minds of

blow which had shaken them were ready for reconciliation. Their memories could not penetrate beyond it. Only Donna Elizabeth, who had been invited by a friend to yesterday's performance, but had refused the invitation, sometimes directed a dreamy and lingering look at Josepha; but new reports of some gruesome misfortune soon recalled her to the present. They heard how, immediately after the first main tremor, the city was full of women who were delivered in the sight of all the men; how the monks had run about with crucifixes in their hands, shouting that the end of the world had come; how a guard, who at the Viceroy's order had demanded that a church be cleared of people, had received the reply that there was no longer a Viceroy of Chile! How, at the most frightful moments, the Viceroy had been obliged to erect gallows to end the outbreak of thieving, and an innocent man who was leaving a burning house by the back door had been seized by the owner in excessive haste and immediately strung up. Donna Elvira, with whose injuries Josepha was much occupied, had chosen the moment when these stories were these people, after the terrible

to their foundations,

The Earthquake

in Chile


being bandied in the most lively fashion to ask Josepha how she had fared on this most fearful day. And when Josepha told her some of the main features of her story with terror in her voice, she had the supreme satisfaction of seeing tears in this lady's eyes. Donna Elvira grasped her hand, pressed it and intimated that she should be silent. Josepha felt as if she were among the blessed. A feeling which she could not repress gave to the preceding day, however much misery it had brought into the world, the appearance of a blessing such as heaven had never yet bestowed on her. And indeed, in the midst of this catastrophe in which all the earthly possessions of men had perished and the whole of nature was threatened with burial, the human spirit seemed to unfold like a lovely flower. In the fields, as far as the eye could reach, men and women of all classes could be seen lying about together, princes and beggars, noble matrons and peasant women, government officials and day laborers, friars and nuns, pitying one another, helping one another, gladly giving away anything they had saved for the preservation of life, as if the general calamity had welded all those who had escaped it into one family. Instead of the meaningless conversations, for which at other times the world of tea tables had provided the subject matter, they now discussed examples of tremendous deeds: men who formerly had received little attention from society had shown a Roman greatness of character. There were innumerable instances of fearlessness, of joyful contempt for danger, of self-denial and divine self-sacrifice, even of life itself as though it were the most trivial of possessions and could be replaced without difficulty. Indeed, since there was no one who on that day had not experienced some stirring incident or had not himself performed some generous action, the pain in every human heart was mingled with so much sweetness and delight that, she thought, it was difficult to say whether the sum of general well-being had not increased on the one hand by as other.






on the



Jeronimo took Josepha's arm after they had

silently ex-

hausted themselves in making these observations, and inexpressibly at peace, he walked with her under the shady leaves of the pomegranate trees. He told her that in view of the general state of mind and the total upheaval of the social order, he was giving up his intention of embarking for Europe; that, should the Viceroy still be alive, he would risk a personal appeal to him. The Viceroy had always been favorably disposed toward his cause. He hoped (at this moment he kissed her) to remain with her in Chile.

Josepha replied that similar thoughts had occurred to her; that she too did not doubt her father's readiness to forif he was still alive; but that she advised him to go to Concepcion and to address a written appeal to the Viceroy, rather than throw himself at his feet, since in any case they would then be near the harbor and at best, if their business achieved the desired results, could easily return to Santiago. After brief consideration, Jeronimo expressed his approval of this prudent precaution, walked on a little through avenues of trees, anticipating the happy moments of their future, and returned with her to the company. Meanwhile the afternoon had come. Since the tremors were now less violent, the minds of the swarming fugitives had at last been somewhat calmed, when it was reported that in the Dominican Church, the only one which the earthquake had spared, a solemn mass would be read by none other than the prior of the monastery with the purpose of imploring heaven to prevent further misfortunes. Already everywhere the groups were breaking up and people were streaming toward the city. In Don Fernando's party someone raised the question whether they too should not participate in this solemnity and join the general rush? Donna Elizabeth, with some embarrassment, recalled the mischief which had been done in the church only yesterday, that such services of thanksgiving would certainly be re-

give her,

The Earthquake

in Chile


peated and that then, with the danger less fresh in then: minds, they would be able to respond more gladly and more easily to the mood of thankfulness. Josepha, getting up at once, remarked with some enthusiasm that she had never felt a stronger urge to lay her face in the dust before her Maker than at this very time, when His incomprehensible and sublime power was so clearly revealed. Donna Elvira vigorously seconded Josepha's opinion. She insistpd that they should hear the mass and called upon Don Fernando to lead the party, whereupon all of them, even Donna Elizabeth, rose from their seats. However, the latter was seen to hesitate. Her breast was working violently as she made her little preparations for departure. To the question, what was wrong with her, she replied that she could not tell what unhappy presentiment oppressed her. Donna Elvira thereupon calmed her and suggested that she remain behind with her and with her sick father. Josepha said, "In that case. Donna Elizabeth, you will perhaps relieve me of this little darling who, as you see, has again found his way to me." "Gladly," Donna Elizabeth replied, and reached out for him; but when he cried piteously at this injustice and would not consent to it on any terms, Josepha said with a smile that she would keep him, and kissed him till he was silent. Then Don Fernando, who was pleased with her dignified and graceful bearing, offered her his arm. Jeronimo, who was carrying little Philip, escorted Donna Constanza. The remaining members who had joined the party followed behind, and in this order they proceeded to the city. They had scarcely walked fifty paces when they heard



who meanwhile had

talked excitedly and

"Don Fernando!" and saw her running after them as if troubled in some way. Don Fernando stopped and turned round, waited for her without releasing Josepha and, when she remained standing some distance away, as if waiting for him to meet her, asked her what she wanted. Donna Elizabeth approached him, secretively with


Elvira, shouting,


126 though,


words in

seemed, with reluctance, and whispered some such a way that Josepha could not hear

his ear in

them. "Well,"

Don Fernando

asked, "and

what harm can come

of that?"


Elizabeth continued to hiss into his ear, her face Don Fernando's flushed with irrita-

distorted with anxiety;

He replied, "That's enough!", asked Donna Elizabeth to calm herself, and proceeded with his lady. When they arrived in the Dominican Church, the organ's musical splendor met them, and an immeasurable crowd surged inside the church. The throng extended far beyond the portal into the square outside and on the walls, high up on the picture frames, boys were clinging, their caps in their hands, and an expectant look on their faces. All the chandeliers burnt brightly, the columns cast mysterious shadows in the gathering dusk, the large rose window in the extreme back of the church, with its stained glass, glowed like the very evening sun that lit it up and, now that the organ was silent, stillness reigned in the whole assembly as if no one were capable of making a sound. Never did such a flame of zeal rise to heaven from a Christian cathedral as on that day, in the Dominican Church at Santiago, and no human breast contributed a warmer glow than those of Jeronimo and Josepha. The service began with a sermon delivered from the pulpit by one of the oldest canons, in full ceremonial array. Raising his trembling arms high up to heaven with the wide folds of his surplice flowing around them he began at once with praise, glorification and thanksgiving. Still, even in this part of the world that had crumbled to ruins, there were




up their faltering voices to God. He dewhat had happened at a sign given by the Almighty. Judgment Day could not be more terrible. And when, pointing at a fissure in one of the Cathedral walls, he called the earthquake a mere presage of doom, a shudder passed through the whole flock. From this point the current of able to raise


The Earthquake


in Chile

eloquence bore him on to the subject of the city's moral depravity; abominations such as Sodom and Gomorrah had never witnessed had been punished here, and only God's infinite, long-suffering patience had preserved the city from total destruction. But the hearts of our two unfortunates, already quite rent by the sermon, were pierced as by a sword when the canon dwelled in detail on the offense committed in the convent garden of the Carmelites, called the indulgence with which it had been treated by the world a godless one, and in a digression filled with imprecations, delivered the souls of the culprits, whom he mentioned by name, to all the princes of hell! Plucking at Jeronimo's sleeve. Donna Constanza called out, "Don Fernando!" The latter, however, replied as emphatically and, at the same time, as secretively as possible, "You will be silent, Donna, you will not stir, not even the pupil of your eye, and will pretend that you are about to faint, whereupon we shall leave the church." But before Donna Constanza could execute this artful priestly

stratagem, devised to secure their escape, a voice interrupted the canon's sermon, crying out, "Keep well away, citizens of Santiago, here are the godless creatures!" and



other terrified voice asked, "Where?" while a wide circle of horror formed around them, a third replied, "Here!" and, filled with holy fanaticism, pulled Josepha by the hair so

down with Don Fernando's son not supported her. "Are you mad?" the young man cried out and put his arm around Josepha. "I am Don Fernando Ormez, son of the that she


would have


Don Fernando had

Town Commandant whom you "Don Fernando Ormez?"



cried a near-by cobbler,

had worked for Josepha and knew her


as well at least as


small feet. "Who is this child's father?" he asked, turning to Asteron's daughter with scornful insolence. Don Fernando went pale at this question. Now he glanced shyly at Jeronimo, now he scanned the congregation to see if there was no one who knew him.

knew her



Josepha, compelled by the horrible situation, called out, *This is not my child, Master Pedrillo, as you think," and, looking at Don Fernando with infinite terror in her soul, "This young gentleman is Don Fernando Ormez, son of

Town Commandant, whom you all know." The cobbler asked, "Which of you, citizens, knows this young man?" And several of the bystanders repeated, "Who knows Jeronimo Rugera? Let him step forward?" Now it so happened that at this very moment little Juan,


by the uproar, showed his desire to leave Josepha's breast and take refuge in Don Fernando's arms. At once a voice yelled out, "He is the father!" and another, "He is Jeronimo Rugera," and a third, "These are the frightened

blasphemers!" and "Stone them! Stone them!" cried Christians assembled in that temple of Jesus.



intervened, "Stop, you inhuman creayou are looking for Jeronimo Rugera: here he is. Set free that man, who is innocent." The furious mob, confused by Jeronimo's words, hesitated. Several hands let go of Don Fernando. At that moment a naval officer of high rank approached hurriedly.

Then Jeronimo

tures! If



way through

the crowd, he asked,



nando Ormez! What have they done to you?" Now quite free, Don Fernando replied with truly heroic presence of mind, "Yes, look at the murderous villains, Don Alonzo! I should have been lost if this worthy man hadn't given himself out to be Jeronimo Rugera in order to calm the raging mob. Be so kind as to take him into protective custody, as well as the young lady; and as for this good-for-nothing"



hold of Master Pedrillo

started this up-

roar, arrest him!"

The cobbler exclaimed, "Don Alonzo Onoreja, on your conscience,




Josepha Asteron?" When Don Alonzo, who knew Josepha well, withheld his reply, and several voices, fanned by this into a new is

not this

blaze of fury, called out, "It

Josepha placed





it is


she!" and, "Kill her!"

Jeronimo had been car-

The Earthquake lying, in

in Chile


Don Feraando's arfns, together with little Juan, "Go now, Don Fernando, save your two children

and said, and leave us to our fate!" Don Fernando took the two children and said he would sooner perish than allow anyone in his company to suffer harm. He offered Josepha his arm, after asking the naval officer for his sword, and told the other couple to follow him. They did in fact get out of the church since under these circumstances the people made way for them with an adequate show of respect, and thought themselves saved. But they had hardly reached the equally crowded square when a voice, one of the furious mob who had pursued them, cried, "This is Jeronimo Rugera, citizens, for I am his own father!" and struck him down at Constanza's side with a powerful blow of his club. "Jesus Maria!" Donna Constanza cried out, and fled to her brother-in-law. But already, "Convent whore!" rang out, and with it the second blow of a club from the other side which left her stretched out lifeless beside Jeronimo. "Monster!" a stranger called out, "this was Donna Constanza Xares!"


did they


for the right one, then,


to us?" the cobbler replied.

and kill her too!" Seeing Constanza's corpse, Don Fernando glowed with rage; he drew his sword and aimed such a blow at the fanatical, murderous villain who was the cause of these atrocities that he would have split him in two if the cobbler had not avoided the furious blow with a quick movement. He could not overpower the surging mass that advanced against him. "Farewell, Fernando! Farewell, children!" Josepha called out. "Here, murder me, you bloodthirsty tigers!" and she voluntarily hurled herself amongst them to put an end to the fight. Master Pedrillo struck her down with his club. Then, spattered with her blood, he shouted, "Send the bastard after her to hell!" and thrust himself forward once more, his lust for murder not yet sated. Don Fernando, this godlike hero,




stood with his back to the church. With his left hand he held the children, with his right the sword. With evöry blow he struck one of them down, his sword flashing like lightning; a lion could not have defended himself better. Seven bloodhounds lay dead in front of him, the prince of the Satanic rabble himself was wounded. But Master Pedrillo would not rest till he had snatched one of the children from Don Fernando's breast, seized it by one leg, swung it around over his head and dashed it against the edge of a church buttress. Now everything was silent and everyone moved away. Don Fernando, seeing his little Juan lying in front of him with his brains gushing out, raised his eyes to heaven, his grief beyond description. The naval officer rejoined him,

him and assured him that his own inaction during those unhappy moments, though justified by several circumstances, was causing him remorse. But Don Fernando said that he was beyond reproach and only asked him to help now with the removal of the corpses. They were all carried to Don Alonzo's house in the obscurity of dusk, and Don Fernando followed, weeping copiously over the face of little Philip. He spent the night at Don Alonzo's and for a long time failed to inform his wife of the full extent of tried to console

the calamity.


deliberately falsified the facts,



cause his wife was ill, and secondly, because he did not know how she would judge his conduct in this matter. But soon after this, having been accidentally informed by a visitor of all that had occurred, this excellent lady silently wept away her maternal grief, and one morning put her arms round his neck, with the remnant of a shining tear in her eye, and kissed him. Don Fernando and Donna Elvira decided to adopt the little stranger; and when Don Fernando compared Philip with Juan, and the ways in which he had acquired each of them, it almost seemed to him that he had reason to be glad.




Gottfried Keller was





of his life in

Zurich. However, he spent the most formative years of his

youth in Munich, Berlin and other towns at a time a country of reaction confronted by

when Germany was

revolution, seething with romantic, idealistic



ist ideas.

Keller represents a significant and particularly healthy branch of German literature, the German-speaking Swiss. One might describe him as an example of one Goethean

tendency: that of literature as living, educative, persistently optimistic philosophy.

Keller owes



a tendency which in he based his vmting on


to the fact that

simple forms such as the fable and thinly disguised narrative



most famous novel Der Grüne

romance and Erziehungsroman, on the pattern of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister). His stories, which sometimes resemble folk tales for adults, have qualities in common with Hans Christian Andersen and the fairy tales of the brothers Grimm. At the core of his work there is the rock of the Alps, and also the resistent fiber of the Swiss dialect. Despite his optimism and pervasive humor, he is as objective and detached and




un-egocentric as Flaubert. His friend Friedrich Theodor Bischer characterized Keller's work as a penetration of

high ideals into a view of ble as granite.

life as solid






of the


Saint Gregory relates in his tales that Musa was the dancer among the saints. She was the child of good folk, and a graceful little maiden who diligently served the Mother of

God and knew

only one passion, a love of dancing so unif the girl was not praying, then she was assuredly dancing. And she danced in every conceivable way. Musa danced with her playmates, with the children, with the young men, and even alone. She danced in her little chamber, in the great hall, in the gardens, and over the meadows, and even when she approached the altar she seemed to be dancing a delicious measure rather than walking. And on the smooth marble flags at the church door she never forgot to try a few hasty steps. Indeed, one day, when she happened to be alone in church, she could not refrain from dancing a few figures in front of the altar and, so to speak, dancing a pretty prayer to the Virgin. She forgot herself so utterly that she fancied she was dreaming when an elderly but handsome gentleman came dancing toward her and supplemented her figures so deftly that between them the two performed the most finished pas de deux. The gentleman wore a royal robe of purple and a golden crown on his head, and had a glossy black beard lightly silvered with age as by distant starlight. And music sounded from the choir, for half a dozen cherubs were sitting or standing there on the top of the screen swinging their chubby little legs over it while they played or blew divers instruments. And the urchins made themselves quite comfortable, for each propped his music controllable that




of the



stone angels that adorned the choir screen. But the smallest, a round-cheeked piper, was an exception, for he crossed his legs and contrived to hold his music in his rosy toes. And he was the most zealous of all. against one of the


others swung their feet, stretched their rustling wings they shimmered like the breasts of doves, and teased each other as they played. Musa found no time to wonder at all this until the dance,


which lasted some time, was over. The merry gentleman seemed to enjoy it as much as the maiden, who, for her part, might have been tripping about in heaven. But when the music stopped and Musa stood there panting, she began to be really afraid and looked at the old gentleman in amazement, for he was neither out of breath nor hot. He began to speak and introduced himself as David, the royal ancestor of Mary the Virgin, and her messenger. He asked her whether she would like to pass an eternity of bliss in an endless dance of joy, a dance compared with which the one they had just ended could only be called a dismal crawl. She promptly replied that she could wish for nothing better. Whereupon the blessed King David rejoined that all she had to do was to give up all dancing and all joy for the rest of her earthly days and dedicate herself to penitence and spiritual exercises, and that without faltering or relapse. At this the maiden was somewhat taken aback, and asked whether she must give up dancing altogether. She doubted whether there really was dancing in heaven, for there was a time for everything. Solid earth seemed a good and suitable place for dancing. Therefore heaven must have other things to offer; otherwise death would simply be superfluous. David explained to her how sorely she was in error, and proved by many passages from the Bible, as by his own example, that dancing was certainly a blessed occupation for the blessed. But now she must make up her mind quickly, yes or no, whether by temporal renunciation she wished to enter into eternal bliss, or not; if not, he must be getting along, as heaven was in need of a few dancers.



Musa still stood there irresolute, her fingertips playing anxiously about her mouth. It seemed too hard never to dance again just for the sake of an unknown reward. Then David made a sign and suddenly the musicians played a few bars of a dance, so incredibly blissful and unearthly that the maiden's soul leaped in her body and she twitched in every limb. But she could not move one of them to the measure, and she saw that her body was too stiff and heavy for that music. Full of longing, she thrust her hand into the King's and gave her promise. Forthwith he vanished and the cherub musicians whirred and fluttered and crowded away through an open window in the church, but first they rolled up their music sheets and, like mischievous children, slapped the patient angels' faces


the church re-echoed.

Musa walked home

with devout steps, the heavenly melShe had a coarse garment made, laid aside all her fine raiment, and put it on. Then she built a cell in the back of her parents' garden where the shadows of the trees lay thick, made a little bed of moss in it, and lived thenceforth apart from her companions as a penitent and a saint. She passed all her time in prayer, and often scourged


in her ears.


But her severest penance was to keep her limbs As soon as there was a single sound in the




and the

twittering of a bird or the rustling of the leaves in the trees,

her feet twitched and felt that they must dance. Because this involuntary twitching would not disappear and sometimes, before she was even aware of it, she could not suppress a little pirouette, she had her frail feet bound together with a light chain. Her relatives and friends marveled day and night at the change, but rejoiced in the possession of such a saint and guarded the hermitage under the trees as the apple

Many came for counsel and intercession. young maidens were brought to her who were a little heavy on their feet, for it had been noticed that any she touched became light and graceful of movement. So she passed three years in her solitude, and toward the of their eye.






of the



end of the third year Musa had become almost as thin and transparent as a summer cloud. She no longer moved from her little bed of moss, and lay looking longingly up to heaven. She thought that she could see the golden soles of the blessed dancing and gliding through the blue. One raw autumn day the news went round that the saint was lying at the point of death. She had had her dark penitential robe taken from her and was clad in dazzling white bridal garments. So she lay with folded hands and smilingly awaited the hour of death. The whole garden was filled with pious people, the breezes whispered, and the leaves were falling from the trees on every hand. But imperceptibly the whispering of the trees passed into music, which seemed to sound in every treetop, and when the people looked up, lo! everything was clothed in tender green. The myrtles and pomegranates bloomed in fragrance. The earth was decked with flowers, and a rose-colored light lay on the frail form of the dying maiden. that moment she gave up the ghost. The chain on her sprang asunder with a clear ringing sound. Heaven opened wide, full of infinite splendor, so that all might see beyond. Host upon host of lovely maidens and youths in utmost glory could be seen dancing in endless circles. splendid King, enthroned on a cloud with a band of six cherubs sitting on its edge, descended a little toward earth and received the form of the blessed Musa before the eyes









the garden.

They saw how she was

borne up to heaven, and forthwith danced out of sight amid the singing of the shining hosts.

was high festival. On festal days, however by Saint Gregory of Nyssa, but maintained by his namesake of Nazianzus), it was the custom to invite the Muses, who were sitting in hell, into heaven to lend a hand. They were well entertained, but when their work was done, they had to go back to the other place. When the dances and all the ceremonies were at an end, and the heavenly hosts sat down to table, Musa was led to In heaven


(this is contested



the table where the nine

Muses were


They sat hudthem with

dled together, half-intimidated, staring round

deep blue. Busy Martha from them with her own hands. She had put on her best kitchen apron and had a dainty little smudge on her white chin, and she kindly pressed the good things on the Muses. But it was only when Musa and Saint Cecilia and other women famed in art came along and cheerily greeted the shy Pierians and sat down beside them that they brightened up and grew confidential, while a charming gaiety spread over the whole circle of the women. Musa sat beside Terpsichore, and Cecilia between Polyhymnia and Euterpe, and they all held one another's hands. Then the little cherub musicians came up and made much of the beautiful women, hoping to get some of the shining fruit on the ambrosial table. King David came too in person and brought a golden goblet from which all drank. He passed kindly round the table, not forgetting to pat the lovely Erato's chin as he passed. As things were going so merrily at the Muses' table, our dear Lady herself appeared in all her beauty and goodness, to sit with the Muses awhile. She tenderly kissed the august Urania on the mouth under her starry coronal, and as she said good-by, whispered that she would not rest until the Muses should again sit in paradise their eyes of fiery black or

the Gospel served


But it did not turn out so. To show their gratitude for the kindness shown them, the Muses took counsel together, and in a distant comer of the underworld, practiced a hymn of praise, to which they tried to give the form of the solemn chorales usual in heaven. They divided into two groups of four voices each, with Urania singing a kind of descant, and so produced a remarkable piece of music. When the next festival was celebrated in heaven, and the Muses were again on duty, they took advantage of a moment that seemed favorable, grouped themselves, and softly began their song, which soon swelled into a mighty chorus. But in those spaces it sounded so somber nay, defiant and harsh so heavy with longing, and so complaining, that at

A first

Legend of the Dance 137 reigned. Then the whole assembly


a terrified silence

was seized by earthly suffering and the yearning for and a general weeping broke out.


Endless sighs throbbed through heaven. All the Elders and Prophets started up, terrified and dismayed, while the Muses, with the best intentions, sang ever louder and more sadly. All paradise, with the Patriarchs, the Elders, and the Prophets, all who had ever walked or lain on green pastures, were quite beside themselves. But at last the Holy Trinity itself came up to set things right, and silenced the zealous Muses with a long rolling peal of thunder. Then peace and serenity returned to heaven, but the poor sisters had to depart; they have never been allowed to return since.



Hofmannsthal's later work appears to be in a valley above which gleam the sunlit peaks of his adolescent achievements in poetry. It was a coffeehouse wise-crack to say that




he had died at the age of twenty-five, he have been the greatest poet in the German




certainly a contrast

between the flute-toned

purity of his early work and the very literary, complex

elaboration of the later.


crosses a gulf

between the

spontaneity of the boy and the extreme, self-conscious in-

man in the famous essay-fiction "LetLord Chandos." Written from an Elizabethan poet to his patron, it explains a breakdown of inspiration which seems like a disintegration of the very words that flow from his pen, and which he does not know whether dustriousness of the ter to

to attribute to himself or to his age.

But whether in the role of youthful swain singing


early poems, or patient architect of the later plays, bretti,




Hofmannsthal was always the product

of a very old, rather effete, nostalgic Austria. His tone


baroque statue melted into life, whether as boy or prince of a civilization. These qualities are apparent in the glittering "A Tale of the Cavalry," written in an impressionist style as extreme as William Faulkner, and vet that of a

completely controlled, consciously cultivated in every


and comma. It is a wonderful succession of scenes like a moving cartoon which might have been drawn by Tiepolo and projected onto a screen. ter

A Tale

of the Cavalry


July 22, 1848, before six o'clock in the morning, the second squadron of Wallmoden cuirassiers, a troop of cavalry a hundred and seven strong under Captain Baron Rofrano, left the Casino San Alessandro and took the road to Milan. The wide sunny landscape lay in untroubled

peace; from distant mountain peaks, morning clouds rose plumes of smoke into the radiant sky. Not a breath of air stirred the com. Here and there, between clumps of trees fresh-bathed in the morning air, there was the bright gleam of a house or a church. Hardly had the troop left the foremost outposts of its like steady

own army about

a mile behind

sight of a glint of


them when they caught and the vanguard reported enemy infantry. The squadron drew up for the attack by the side of the highroad. Over their heads in the corn-fields,

cannon-balls flew, whizzing with a strangely loud, mewing They attacked across country, driving before them like quail a troop of men, irregularly armed, who belonged to the Manara Legion and wore strange headgear. The prisoners were sent back in charge of a corporal and eight men. Outside a beautiful villa approached by an avenue of ancient cypresses, the vanguard reported suspicious figures. Anton Lerch, the sergeant, dismounted, took twelve men armed with carbines whom he posted at the windows, and captured eighteen students of the Pisan Legion, wellbred, handsome young men with white hands and long hair. Half an hour later the squadron stopped a wayfarer in the Bergamasque costume whose very guilelessness and insignificance aroused suspicion. He was carrying sewn into




the lining of his coat detailed plans of the greatest importance relating to the formation of irregular corps in the

Giudicaria and their liaison with the Piedmontese army. About ten o'clock, a herd of cows fell into the squadron's hands.

Immediately afterward, they encountered a strong enemy detachment which fired on the vanguard from a cemetery wall. The front line, under Lieutenant Count Trautsohn, vaulted over the low wall and attacked the enemy among

Most of them escaped in wild confusion into the church and through the vestry door into a dense thicket.

the graves.

The twenty-seven new

prisoners reported themselves as

politan irregulars under Papal officers.


The squadron had

lost one man. Corporal Wotrubek, with two men, Dragoons Holl and Haindl, rode around the thicket, captured a light howitzer drawn by two farm-horses by knocking the guard senseless, taking the horses by the bridles, and turning them round. Corporal Wotrubek was sent back to headquarters, slightly wounded, to report these skirmishes and the other successes of the day. The prisoners were also sent back, while the howitzer was taken on by the squadron which, deducting the escort, now numbered seventy-eight men. Since the prisoners declared with one voice that Milan

had been abandoned by the enemy troops, regular and irregular, and stripped of artillery and ammunition, the captain could not deny himself and his men the pleasure of riding into






The splendid

squadron rode through Milan amid the ringing of noonday bells. Four buglers trumpeted a march into the steely, glittering sky to rattle against a thousand windows and re-echo on seventy-eight cuirasses and seventy-eight upright, naked swords. To right and left streets swarmed like a broken anthill with gaping faces. Pallid, cursing figures slipped into house doors. Drowsy windows were flung wide open by the bare arms of unknown beauty. Past Santa Babila, San Fedele, San Carlo, they rode, past the famous white marble cathedral, San Satiro, San Giorgio, San Lorenzo, San Eus-


Tcde of the Cavalry


torgio, their ancient bronze doors all opening wide on silvery saints and brocade-clad women with shining eyes, on

candlelight and fumes of incense.


the alert for shots

dark archways, and low shop-stalls, they saw at every turn mere half-grown girls and boys with flashing teeth and black hair. Looking down on it all from their trotting horses, their eyes glittering in masks of bloodspattered dust, in at the Porta Venezia, out at the Porta Ticinese thus the squadron rode. Not far from the Porta Ticinese, on a rampart set with fine plane trees, it seemed to Sergeant Anton Lerch that he saw at the ground-floor window of a new, bright-yellow house the face of a woman he knew. Curious to know more, he turned in his saddle. A slight stiffness in his horse's gait made him suspect a stone in one of its foreshoes, and as he was riding in the rear of the squadron, and could break file without disturbance, he made up his mind to dismount, even going so far as to back his horse into the entry of the house. He had just raised the second white-socked hoof of his bay to inspect the shoe when a door leading into the entry actually opened and revealed a woman, sensual-looking and still not quite past her youth, in a somewhat disheveled nightgown. Behind her he saw a sunny room with a few pots of basil and red Pelargonium in the windows, while his sharp eyes caught in a pier-glass the reflection of the other side of the room filled with a large white bed and a papered door through which a stout, clean-shaven, elderly man was just withdrawing. Slowly and with difficulty the sergeant recalled the woman's name and much more besides. She was the widow or divorced wife of a Croat paymaster. Nine or ten years before, he had on occasion spent the evening or half the night in Vienna with her and her accredited lover of the moment. He tried to distinguish, under her present stoutness, the full yet slender figure of those days. But standing there, she gave him a fawning Slav smile which sent the blood pulsing into his thick neck and under his eyes. He







was put off by a certain archness in the way she spoke to him, by her nightgown, and by the furniture in the room behind.

on the woman's comb and crawled Mesmerized, he raised his hand to brush away the fly, and touched her warm, smooth neck. Suddenly, the memory of the skirmishes and the lucky chances of the day came flooding back upon him, and he pressed her head forward with a heavy hand, saying, "Vuic" (he had not pronounced her name for ten years at least, and had comJust then a fly settled



first name) "a week from now we occupy the town and these shall be my quarters," and he pointed to the half-open door of the room. Meanwhile he heard door after door slam in the house, felt his horse urging him to be gone, first by a dumb dragging at the bridle, then by loud neighing after the others. He mounted and trotted off after the squadron with no answer from Vuic save an evasive laugh and a toss of the head. But the word, once spoken, made him feel its power within him. Riding beside the main column of the squadron, his bay a little jaded, under the heavy, metallic glow of the sky, half-blinded by the cloud of dust that moved with the

pletely forgotten her shall

riders, the sergeant in his

sion of the


room with


imagination slowly took posses-

mahogany, furniture and the pots

Simultaneously he entered into a life of peace still by war, an atmosphere of comfort and pleasant brutality with no officer to give him orders, a slippered life with the hilt of his saber sticking through the left-hand pocket of his dressing-gown. And the stout, clean-shaven man who had vanished through the papered door, something between a priest and a pensioned footman, played an important part in it all, more important even than the fine, broad bed and Vuic's white skin. The clean-shaven man basil.


was now a somewhat servile companion who told court gossip and brought presents of tobacco and capons. Then again he was hard pressed and had to pay blackmail, was involved in many intrigues, was in the confidence of the Piedmontese, was the Pope's cook, procurer, owner of suspect

— A

Tale of the Cavalry


houses with gloomy pavilions for political meetings, and swelled up into a huge, bloated figure from which, if it were tapped in twenty places, gold would pour instead of blood.

There were no further surprises for the squadron that afternoon, and there was nothing to check the sergeant's musings. But there had awakened in him a craving for strokes of luck, for prize moneys, for ducats suddenly fall-


the thorn which festered in his wishes and desires clustered, was the anticipation of his first entrance into the room with the

ing into his pockets. flesh,

round which

mahogany Toward



its horses fed and half-rested, the squadron attempted to advance by a detour on Lodi and the Adda bridge, where there was every prospect of an encounter with the enemy. village lying in a dark hollow off the highroad with a half-ruined church spire looked enticing and suspicious enough to attract the sergeant's attention. Beckoning to two dragoons, HoU and Scarmolin, he broke away from the squadron's route and so inflamed was his imagination that he dared hope to surprise in the village some illdefended enemy general, or to win some other great prize. Having arrived at the wretched and apparently deserted place, he ordered Scarmolin to reconnoiter the houses from the outside to the left, Holl to the right, while he himself, pistol in hand, set off at the gallop through the village. Soon, feeling under his feet hard flagstones which were coated with some slippery kind of grease, he had to slow his horse to a walk. Deathly silence reigned in the village not a child, not a bird, not a breath of air. To right and left there stood foul hovels, the mortar scaling from their walls, with obscene drawings in charcoal here and there on the bare bricks. Between the naked doorposts the sergeant caught sight from time to time of a dirty, half-naked figure lounging on a bed or hobbling through the room as if on broken hips. His horse advanced painfully, pushing its haunches leadenly forward. As he turned and bent to look at its hind shoe, shuffling



HUGO VON HOFMANNSTHAL footsteps issued from a house. He sat upright, and 144



whose face he could not see passed close in front of his mount. She was only half-dressed. Her ragged, filthy gown of flowered gutter.


half torn off her shoulders, trailed in the

There were dirty


on her

She passed so from its nostrils


close in front of his horse that the breath

hung down her bare neck under Yet she made no move to hurry, nor did

stirred the greasy curls that

an old straw


make way for the rider. From a doorstep to the left, two


rats, bleeding in their death-agony, rolled into the middle of the street, the one on the bottom screaming so desperately that the sergeant's horse stopped, staring at the ground, its head averted and its breathing audible. pressure on its flank sent it forward again, but the woman had disappeared in an entry before the sergeant could see her face. dog ran out busily with upraised head, dropped a bone in the middle of the street and set about burying it between the paving-stones. It was a dirty white bitch with trailing teats. She scraped with fiendish intentness, then took the bone between her teeth and carried it away. As she began to dig again, three dogs ran up, two of them mere puppies with soft bones and loose skin; unable to bark or bite, they pulled at each others' muzzles with blunt teeth. The dog which had come with them was a pale-yellow greyhound, its body so bloated that it could ordy drag itself along on its four skinny legs. The body was taut as a drum, so that its head looked far too small. There was a dreadful look of pain and fear in its restless little eyes. Two other dogs ran up at once, one thin and white, with black furrows running from its reddened eyes, hideous in its avidity. The other was a vile dachshund with long legs. This dog raised its head toward the sergeant and looked weary and sad. But the bitch ran to and fro in silly haste before the rider. The two puppies snapped soundlessly round the horse's fetlocks, and the greyhound dragged its hideous body close in front of the horse's hoofs. The bay could not advance a step. The




Tale of the Cavalry


sergeant drew his pistol to shoot one of the dogs. When it misfired he spurred his horse on both flanks and thundered

away over

the paving-stones.

After a few bounds, he was brought up short by a cow which a lad was dragging to the shambles at the end of a tight-stretched rope. But the cow, shrinking from the smell of blood and the fresh hide of a calf nailed to the doorpost, planted its hoofs firm on the ground, drew the reddish haze of the sunset in through dilated nostrils and, before the lad could drag her across the road with stick and rope, tore away with piteous eyes a mouthful of the hay which the sergeant had tied on the front of his saddle. He had now left the last house of the village behind him. Riding between two low and crumbling walls, he could see his way ahead on the farther side of an old single-span bridge over an apparently dry ditch. He felt in his horse's step such an unutterable heaviness that every foot of the walls to right and left, and even every single one of the centipedes and wood-lice which housed in them, passed in slow and toilsome procession before his eyes, and it seemed to him that he had spent eternity riding through the



moment he heard

a great rasping breath from his what it was. He looked above and beside him, and then ahead to see whence it came, and in doing so became aware of a man of his



horse's chest without at once realizing


regiment, a sergeant, riding a bay with white-socked on the farther side of the bridge and at the same distance from it. He knew that there was no other horse of


the kind in the whole squadron but the one on which he was at that moment mounted, and because he still could not recognize the face of the other rider, he impatiently

spurred his horse into a lively trot, whereupon the other altered his pace in exactly the same way till there was only a stone's throw between them. And now, as the two horses, each from its own side, placed the same white-socked forefoot on the bridge, the sergeant recognized with starting eyes his own wraith. Aghast he reined in his horse and



Stretched his right

hand with

toward the horse and raised no longer. Holl and

stiffened fingers

being, while the wraith, also reined in its right hand, and was suddenly there


Scarmolin appeared from the dry ditch to left and right quite unperturbed, while loud and near at hand the bugles of the squadron sounded the attack. Taking a rise in the ground at full speed, the sergeant saw the squadron already galloping toward a thicket from which enemy cavalry, armed with pikes, were pouring. As he gathered the four loose reins in his left hand and wound the hand-strap round his right, he saw the fourth rank leave the squadron and slacken its pace. Then he was on the thundering earth, now in the thick smell of dust, now in the midst of the enemy. He struck at a blue arm wielding a pike, saw close at hand the captain's face with starting eyes and savagely bared teeth, was suddenly wedged in among enemy faces and foreign colors, dived below whirling blades, lunged at the next man's neck and unseated him. Scarmolin beside him, laughing, hewed off the fingers of a man's bridle hand and struck deep into the horse's neck. The sergeant felt the thick of battle slacken, and was suddenly alone on the bank of a brook behind an enemy officer on an irongray horse. The officer sought to make his horse jump across the brook, but the horse refused. The officer pulled it round, turning toward the sergeant a young, very pale face and the mouth of a pistol. Then a sabre was driven into his mouth with the full force of a galloping horse in its tiny point. The sergeant snatched back his saber, and at the very spot where the fingers of the fallen rider had opened, laid hold of the snaffle of the iron-gray which lifted its hoofs across its dying master, light and airy as a fawn. As the sergeant rode back with his splendid prize, the sun, setting in a thick mist, cast a vast crimson haze over the fields. Even on untrodden ground there seemed to lie whole pools of blood. crimson glow lay on white uniforms and laughing faces. Cuirasses and saddle-cloths sparkled and shone, and three little fig trees on which the men had wiped the grooves in their sabers glowed deepest of all.


A The



Tale of the Cavalry

by the blood-stained trees, bewho raised his encrimsoned bugle to his lips and blew. The sergeant rode from line to line and saw that the squadron had not lost a man, but had taken nine horses. He rode up to the captain to report, the iron-gray still beside him, capering with upraised head and captain

to a halt

side the bugler of the squadron,


young, vain, beautiful horse

nostrils, like the



The captain hardly listened to the report. He made a sign to Lieutenant Count Trautsohn who at once dismounted, unharnessed the captured light howitzer, ordered away by a detachment of six men and sunk in a swamp formed by the brook. Having driven away the now useless draught-horses with a blow from the flat of his saber, the lieutenant silently resumed his place at the head of the first rank. Drawn up in two ranks, the squadron was not really restless, and yet there was a strange feeling in the air. The elation of four successful skirmishes in one day found vent in outbursts of suppressed laughter and smothered shouts. Even the horses were restless, especially those flanking the prizes. What with all these windfalls, the parade-ground seemed too small to hold them. In the pride of victory the men felt they must scatter, swarm in upon a new enemy, fling themselves upon him, and carry off yet more the gun to be dragged




moment Captain Baron Rofrano rode up

to the

front rank of his squadron and, raising his big eyelids


gave the command "Release led horses," audibly but without raising his voice. The squadron his rather sleepy blue eyes,

Only the iron-gray beside the sergeant neck, almost touching with its nostrils the forehead of the captain's mount. The captain sheathed his saber, drew a pistol from its holster and, wiping a little dust from its shining barrel with the back of his bridle-hand, repeated the command, raising his voice slighdy and beginstood



as death.


." When he had counted two. ning to count, "One "two," he fixed his veiled eyes on the sergeant, who sat motionless in his saddle, staring him full in the face. While .







Anton Lerch's

steady, unflinching gaze, flashing

now and

then an oppressed, doglike look, seemed to express a kind of servile trust born of many years of service, his mind was almost unaware of the huge tension of the moment. It was flooded with visions of an alien ease, and from depths in him unknown to himself there rose a bestial anger against the man before him who was taking away his horse. It was a dreadful rage against the face, the voice, the bearing, the whole being of the man, such as can only arise in some mysterious fashion through years of close companionship. Whether something of the same sort was going on in the captain's mind too, or whether he felt the silent pervasive danger of a critical situation coming to a head in this moment of mute insubordination, we cannot know. Raising his arm with a negligent, almost graceful gesture, he counted "three" with a contemptuous curl of his upper lip. The shot cracked. Hit in the forehead the sergeant reeled. His body rolled across his horse's neck, then fell between the irongray and the bay. He had not reached the ground, however, before all the other noncommissioned officers and men had driven off their captured horses with a twist of the rein or a kick. The captain quietly put away his pistol, and was able to rally his squadron, still twitching from the lightning stroke, against the enemy who seemed to be gathering in the distant, shadowy dusk. The enemy, however, did not engage the new attack, and not long after, the squadron arrived unmolested at the southern outposts of its own army.

GEORG HEYM (1887-19 12) This story

full of


terror— terrifying beauty as well as

ugliness. It belongs to the phase of expressionist painters

Kirchner and Nolde and poets like Georg Trakl. In


expressionism, painting, poetry and fiction are


close together. First of all


sees in this story the exterior of a corpse

lying on a white table, then the exposed intestines, and lastly the



innermost secret

it is




of a


difficult to visualize this story as

an ex-

pressionist or surrealist painting, even a sequence in a film.



his skull


the vision locked in is

a lyric poem, a

and then cracked open


to the

beauty of

The Autopsy The dead man

lay naked and alone


a white table in the

great theater, in the oppressive whiteness, the cruel sobriety

of the operating theater that seemed to be vibrating still with the screams of unending torment. The noon sun covered him and caused the livid spots on his forehead to awaken; it conjured up a bright green out

of his naked belly and with water.



swell like a great sack filled

His body was like the brilliant calyx of a giant flower, a mysterious plant from the Indian jungles which someone had shyly laid down at the altar of death. Splendid shades of red and blue grew along his loins, and the great wound below his navel, which emitted a terrible odor, split open slowly in the heat like a great red furrow. The doctors entered. few kindly men in white coats, with duelling scars and gold pince-nez. They went up to the dead man and looked at him with



and professional comments.

They took

their dissecting instruments out of white cupboards, white boxes full of hammers, bonesaws with strong teeth, files, horrible batteries of tweezers, little cases full of enormous needles that seemed to cry out incessantly for flesh like the curved beaks of vultures.

They commenced their gruesome work. They were like The blood flowed over their hands which they plunged ever more deeply into the cold corpse, pulling

terrible torturers.




contents, like white cooks drawing a goose. intestines coiled around their arms, greenish-yellow

snakes, and the excrement dripped


their coats, a


The Autopsy


They punctured

the bladder. Cold urine glityellow wine. They poured it into large bowls; it had a sharp and caustic stench like ammonia. But the dead man slept. Patiently he suffered them to tug him putrid fluid. tered inside


way and And while


like a

He slept. hammer resounded on

that, to pull at his hair.

the blows of the


head, a dream, the remnant of love in him, awoke like a torch shining into his night. In front of the large window a great wide sky opened, of small white clouds that floated in the light, in the afternoon quiet, like small white gods. And the swallows traveled high up in the blue, trembling in the warm July full


The dead man's black blood trickled over the blue putrescence of his forehead. It condensed in the heat to a terrible cloud, and the decay of death crept over him with its brightly colored talons. His skin began to flow apart, his belly grew white as an eel's under the greedy fingers of the doctors, who were bathing their arms up to the elbows in his moist flesh. Decay pulled the dead man's mouth apart. He seemed to smile. He dreamed of a blissful star, of a fragrant summer evening. His dissolving hps quivered as though under a Hght kiss. How I love you. I loved you so much. Shall I tell you how much I loved you? When you walked through the poppy fields, yourself a fragrant poppy flame, you had drawn the whole evening into yourself. And your dress that blew about your ankles was like a wave of fire in the glow of the setting sun. But you inclined your head in the light, and your hair still burned and flamed with all my kisses. So you walked away, looking back at me all the time. And the lamp in your hand swayed like a glowing rose in the dusk long after you had gone. I shall see you again tomorrow. Here, under the chapel window; here, where the candlelight pours through and changes your hair into a golden forest; here, where the narcissi cling to your ankles, tender as tender kisses.



I shall see

you again every night

at the

hour of dusk.


each other. How I love you! Shall I tell you how much I love you? And the dead man trembled softly with bliss on his white mortuary table, while the iron chisel in the doctor's hand broke open the bones of his temple.

shall never leave


(1875-1926) Rilke, the greatest

in Prague

German poet

and had Slavonic

of this century,

as well as



French influences

in his writing. His childhood was psychologically dis-

His mother treated him as though he were the which she had wished to bear. His father tried to make a soldier of him. In adolescence he was sent to a military academy, for him an experience of unmitigated horror which haunted him throughout his life. astrous.


"Gym ten


down by


not so


a story as a



the poet in the hope that by so doing he

might exorcise a scene of horror; but the story was abandoned at the point where it became too tiring to be endured.

Gym The


Military School of



The gymnasium. The

white cotton shirts stand in two rows under the big gas lights. The gym teacher, a young officer with a hard, swarthy face and contemptuous eyes, has given the order for exercises and is dividing the class into sections. "First section, horizontal bars; second section, parallel bars; third section, horses; fourth section, pole climbing. Fall out I" And the boys in their light, resined shoes scatter quickly. few remain standing in the middle of the floor, hesitating and reluctant. They are the fourth section, the poor gymnasts, who do not enjoy playing on the equipment and are already tired after their twenty knee-bends, as well as somewhat bewildered and out of breath. But one, Karl Gruber, ordmarily the very first on such occasions, already stands near the poles set up in a dimly lit corner of the gymnasium just beside the lockers where the coats of the boys' uniforms now hang. He has seized the nearest pole and with unusual strength pulls it shaking out to the spot designated for practice. Gruber does not even let go. He jumps and grabs a hold rather high up. His legs, involuntarily wound around the pole in a position for climbing such as he never achieved before, cling to the class in their


He waits for the rest of the class and seems to be considering with peculiar pleasure the astonished anger of the little Polish sergeant, who calls to him to come down. shaft.

But Gruber does not obey, and Jastersky, the blond sergeant, finally shouts, "Very well. Either you come down. Gruber, or you climb the rest of the way up. Otherwise I shall report you to the lieutenant in charge."

Gym And pulling

then Gruber begins to climb, at


his legs a



Period first


his eyes raised, estimating with

some alarm the incalculable section of the pole still to come. Then his movements grow slower; and as though he were relishing every fresh hold as something new and delightful, he pulls himself higher than anyone usually goes. He pays no attention to the excitement of the exasperated sergeant, but climbs and climbs, his eyes staring upward, as though he had discovered an outlet in the gymnasium roof and were straining to reach it. The eyes of his whole section follow him. And in the other sections too some notice is taken of the climber who had hardly ever been able to climb even the first third of the way without getting a cough, a red face, and a bloodshot eye. "Bravo, Gruber!" someone calls over from the first section. Many look up then, and for a while the gym is quiet. But at this very moment when all eyes are upon him. Gruber, high up under the roof, gestures as though to shake them off; and when he obviously does not succeed, he rivets all their glances on the iron hook above him and swishes down the sHppery pole, so that everyone is still looking up, whereas he, dizzy and hot, already stands below and gazes with strangely lusterless eyes at his burning palms.

Then one or another of the boys around got into him. "Do you want to make the Gruber laughs and seems about to it and lowers his eyes.

him first

reply, but




he thinks

better of




the noisy tumult has begun again, he redown, looks about uneasily,

tires quietly to his locker, sits

and after two panting breaths laughs again and tries to say something. But already he is unobserved. Only Jerome, also in the fourth section, notices that he is bent over like someone deciphering a letter in bad light again inspecting his hands. He walks over to him presently and asks, "Did you hurt yourself?" Gruber starts. "What?" he asks in his habitual slobbering voice.



have a look." Jerome takes his hand and turns it toward the light. A little skin is scraped from the palm. "Say, I've got something to fix it," says Jerome, who always gets sticking-plaster sent from home. "Come to my room when we get out." But it is as though Gruber did not hear. He stares straight ahead into the gym as though he were seeing something indefinable, perhaps something not in the gym, perhaps outside against the window even though it is late on a dark autumn afternoon. At this moment, the sergeant shouts in his haughty way, "Gruber!" Gruber remains as before. Only his outstretched feet slide gracelessly forward on the slippery floor. "Gruber!" roars the sergeant, and his voice breaks. Then he waits a while, and says in a quick gruff tone without looking at ." And the boy, "Report after class. I shall see that you. "Let's



the class continues,

"Gruber," says Jerome and bends over his friend, who leaning back farther and farther in his locker, "it was your turn to climb on the rope. Go ahead, try it. If you don't, Jastersky will fix up some kind of a story against you. You know how he is." Gruber nods. But instead of getting up, he abruptly shuts his eyes and slips forward while Jerome is talking. As if borne by a wave, he slides slowly and silently, farther and farther slides from his seat, and Jerome doesn't realize what is happening till Gruber's head bangs hard against the wooden seat and then droops forward. "Gruber!" he calls hoarsely. At first no one notices. Jerome stands helpless, his arms at his sides, and calls "Gruber! Gruber!" He doesn't even think to pull him up. Then he is given a push. Someone says, "Dumbbell!" Someone else shoves him aside, and he watches them lift the motionless boy to carry him off somewhere, probably into the next room. The lieutenant in charge hurries in. In a harsh, loud voice he issues curt orders. The commands cut short the buzzing chatter. Silence. Only here and there is there any movement: swinging on the bars, gentle leaps, is

Gym a belated laugh from someone all

about. Then rapid

Where?" And

questions. still






know what


"What? What? Who? Gruber? Then aloud someone


says, "Fainted."


red-faced Jastersky, the sergeant, runs back of the and cries in his disagreeable voice, trembling with rage, "He's faking, lieutenant, he's faking." The lieutenant pays no attention. He looks straight ahead, gnaws his mustache so that his strong chin juts out sharper and firmer, and gives an occasional brief order. He and four pupils carrying Gruber disappear into the room. servant runs through At once, the four pupils return. the gym. The four get a good deal of attention and are plied with questions. "How does he look? What's the matter with him? Has he come to yet?" None of the four really knows anything. And then the lieutenant in charge calls to them that the class may continue and gives the command to Goldstein, the sergeant-major. So the exercises begin again, on the parallel and horizontal bars; and the little boys of the third section straddle the tall horse with their bowed legs. Yet the activity is not as before. It is as though everyone were listening. Swinging on the parallel bars abruptly stops, and only small feats are performed on the horizontal bar. The voices are less confused, and the hum is fainter, as though all were uttering just one word, "Ssss. Ssss." In the meantime sly little Krix is listening at the door. The sergeant of the second section chases him away, lifting his hand to slap his bottom. Krix leaps back, catlike, his eyes bright and cunning. He has learned enough. And after a while, when no one is watching, he tells Pavlovich, "The regimental doctor's come." Now Pavlovich's behavior is notorious. As boldly as though he were obeying an order, he goes about the gym from one section to another, saying loudly, "The regimental lieutenant in charge


doctor's in there."


even the noncoms appear to be




toward the door become more and more frequent, the exercises slower and slower. A small boy with black eyes remains crouching on the horse and stares open-mouthed at the door. The strongest boys in the terested in the news. Glances

first class

exert themselves a


struggle against



their legs.

Pombert, the strong Tyrolean, bends his arm and contemplates his muscles, which stand out taut and strong under his shirt. His supple young limbs even make a few more turns on the bars, and suddenly the lively movement of his body is the only one in the whole gym. It is a great dazzling circle, somehow ominous in the midst of great stillness. Abruptly the little fellow brings himself to a stop, drops involuntarily to his knees, and makes a face as though he despised them finally


But even




eyes rest

on the door.

Now the singing of the gasjets and the ticking of the wall clock are audible. And then the dismissal bell rattles. Today its tone is strange and peculiar. And it stops suddenly, incomplete, interrupting itself when its message is only half spoken. Sergeant-major Goldstein, however, knows his duty. He calls, "Fall in!" No one hears. No one can recall the meaning these words once had. Once? When? "Fall in!" croaks the sergeant-major angrily, and now the other noncoms cry in succession, "Fall in!" And also many of the pupils say, as if to themselves or in their sleep, "Fall in I Fall in!" But actually, all of them know there is still something to wait for. And at this very moment the door is opening. For a second nothing happens; then Wehl, the lieutenant in charge, walks out, and his eyes are big and wrathful and his pace is decided. He marches as though he were on parade and says hoarsely, "Fall in!" With astonishing speed ranks are formed. Then no one moves. It is as though a field marshal were present. And now the command, "Attention!" pause, and then dry and harsh, "Your friend Gruber has pause. just died. Heart attack. Forward, march!" And only after a little while, the voice of the pupil on



Gym duty, small and weak,


"Company, column


March!" the door. Jerome left!

Slow and unready, the group turns to the last. No one looks back. From the corridor chill, damp air blows against the boys. One of them suggests that it smells of carbolic acid. Pombert makes a vulgar joke about the smell. No one laughs. Suddenly Jerome feels somebody grab his arm, as though for assault. Krix is hanging on to him. "I saw him," he whispers breathlessly, and squeezes Jerome's arm while an inner laughter convulses him. He can hardly go on. "He's stark naked and caved in and all stretched out. And he's got a seal on the is

soles of his feet.





then he giggles shrilly, as though someone had tickled him, giggles and bites down through Jerome's sleeve.

THOMAS MANN (1875-1955) Thomas Mann is undoubtedly the central figure in German twentieth-century literature, a writer who reminded himself,

and some

of Goethe.

others, of the statuesque achievement


not a poet, he certainly had Goe-

thean qualities: great sanity,

reliability, solidity of learn-

method and achievement, and opposite


to all these, a

and consuming yet creatively energetic abyss. His stories even more than his novels might be described as studies of the crisis of the bourgeois written by one who himself came out of the bourgeoisie and who recognized that he owed all the qualities which made him a great writer to bourgeois virtues of industry and massive calculation^ but whose vision was of forces which would blow up the terrifying awareness of the demonic, the fiery

bourgeois world.


stories are often

hero ("Tonio Kroger"


studies of an autobiographical

the outstanding example) ban-

ished and self-banishing from both


from the

Hanseatic mercantile world of his forebears and from the

and blaspheming world of and hangers-on who frequented the cafes of Munich and Berlin. "Gladius Dei" is a variant of this theme bordering on extravaganza. A stranger who is frivolous, pretentious, sneering




the reincarnation of Savonarola bursts into the world of

Munich of




nouveau and demands that a bonfire be made

senses that in this latter day Savonarola's scorn

for the interpretation of the



cafe-haunting Munich

good deal of Mann's own


of the

Madonna by






"Gladius In his autobiography Klaus they were young, the





161 how when

children called their father

is an exercise in his pepower of making the reader accept as

"the magician." "Gladius Dei" culiar magic, his

quite real the clashing of past with present art values in a

Munich book shop.



throws light on Mann's

rather magical view of history: that the past was as


were locked up in several boxes which the story-teller could, with his wizard key, unlock and release into the present, exactly as if those forgotten events and dead men were demons, poltergeists, ready at any moment to upset our arrangements if let out. This is the spirit in which, in one of his last books, he put Faust into the twentieth century in the guise of an atonal composer.

"Gladius Dei" Above

the gay squares and white monuments and the baroque churches, the leaping fountains, the palaces and parks of the Residence there stretched a sky of luminous blue silk. Well-arranged leafy vistas laced with sun and

Munich was


columned temples, the


shade lay basking in the sunshine of a beautiful day in early June.

There was a twittering of birds and a in all the

little streets.


blithe holiday spirit

in the squares

and past the rows

of villas there swelled, rolled, and hummed the leisurely, entertaining traflac of that easy-going, charming town. Travelers of all nationalities drove about in the slow little

and left in aimless curiosity at the mounted and descended museum stairs. Many windows stood open and music was heard from earnest and within: practicing on piano, cello, or violin well-meant amateur efforts; while from the Odeon came the sound of serious work on several grand pianos. Young people, the kind that can whistle the Nothung droshkies, looking right

house-fronts; they




the pit of the Schauspielhaus every evening,

and out of the University and Library with literary magazines in their coat pockets. A court carriage



stood before the Academy, the


of the plastic


which spreads its white wings between the Türkenstrasse and the Siegestor. And colorful groups of models, picturesque old men, women and children in Albanian costume, stood or lounged at the top of the balustrade. Indolent, unhurried sauntering was the mode in all the long streets of the northern quarter. There life is lived for

"Gladius Dei"


pleasanter ends than the driving greed of gain. Young artists with httle round hats on the backs of their heads, flowing cravats

and no canes

carefree bachelors



paid for

up and mood, also to look at the little girls, the pretty, rather plump type, with the brunette bandeaux, the too large feet, and the unobjectionable morals. Every fifth house had studio windows blinking in the sun. Sometimes a fine piece of architecture stood out from a middle-class row, the work of some imaginative young architect; a wide front with shallow bays and decorations in a bizarre style very expressive and full of invention. Or the door to some monotonous facade would be framed in a bold improvisation of flowing lines and sunny colors, with bacchantes, naiads, and rosytheir lodgings with color-sketches


to let the clear blue


morning play upon


skinned nudes. It was always a joy to linger before the windows of the cabinet-makers and the shops for modern articles de luxe. What a sense for luxurious nothings and amusing, significant line was displayed in the shape of everything! Little shops that sold picture-frames, sculptures, and antiques there were in endless number; in their see those busts of Florentine full


windows you might

of the Renaissance, so

of noble poise and poignant charm.


the owners of

the smallest and meanest of these shops spoke of

Mino da

Fiesole and Donatello as though he had received the rights

of reproduction from them personally. But on the Odeonsplatz, in view of the mighty loggia with the spacious mosaic pavement before it, diagonally opposite to the Regent's palace, people were crowding round the large windows and glass show-cases of the big art-shop owned by M. Bliithenzweig. What a glorious display! There were reproductions of the masterpieces of all the galleries in the world, in costly decorated and tinted frames, the good taste of which was precious in its very simplicity. There were copies of modern paintings, works of a joyously sensuous fantasy, in which the antiques seemed born again in

humorous and

realistic guise;

bronze nudes and fragile



ornamental glassware; tall, thin earthenware vases with an iridescent glaze produced by a bath in metal steam; editions de luxe which were triumphs of modern binding and presswork, containing the works of the most modish poets, set out with every possible advantage of sumptuous elegance. Cheek by jowl with these, the portraits of artists, musicians,

philosophers, actors, writers, displayed to gratify

In the first window, next the public taste for personalities. the book-shop, a large picture stood on an easel, with a crowd of people in front of it, a fine sepia photograph in a

wide old-gold frame, a very striking reproduction of the sensation at this year's great international exhibition, to which public attention is always invited by means of effective and artistic posters stuck up everywhere on hoardings among concert programs and clever advertisements of toilet


you looked into the windows of the book-shop your eye met such titles as Interior Decoration Since the Renaissance, The Renaissance in Modern Decorative Art, The Book as Work of Art, The Decorative Arts, Hunger for Art, and many more. And you would remember that these thoughtprovoking pamphlets were sold and read by the thousand and that discussions on these subjects were the preoccupaIf

tion of


the salons.

You might famous


be lucky enough to meet in person one of the ones whom less fortunate folk know only


of art; one of those rich and beautiful Titian-blond coloring Nature's most sweet and cunning hand did not lay on, but whose diamond parures and beguiling charms had received immortality from the hand of some portrait-painter of genius and whose loveaffairs were the talk of the town. These were the queens of the artist balls at carnival-time. They were a little painted, a little made up, full of haughty caprices, worthy of adoration, avid of praise. You might see a carriage rolling up the Ludwigstrasse, with such a great painter and his mistress inside. People would be pointing out the sight, standing still to gaze after the pair. Some of them would curtsy.

through the

women whose



would stand

at atten-




more and

the very policemen


Art flourished, art swayed the destinies of the town, art it her rose-bound scepter and smiled. On every hand obsequious interest was displayed in her prosperity, on every hand she was served with industry and devotion. There was a downright cult of line, decoration, form, significance, beauty. Munich was radiant. stretched above


youth was coming



With the strode across the

the Schellingstrasse.

of cyclists ringing about

him he

wooden pavement toward the broad fagade of the Ludwigskirche. Looking at him it was as though a shadow passed across the sky, or cast over the spirit some memory of melancholy hours. Did he not love the sun which bathed the lovely city in its festal light? Why did he walk wrapped in his




thoughts, his eyes directed on the ground? in that tolerant and variety-loving town


have taken offense at his wearing no hat; but why need the hood of his ample black cloak have been drawn over his head, shadowing his low, prominent, and peaked forehead, covering his ears and framing his haggard cheeks? What pangs of conscience, what scruples and self-tortures had so availed to hollow out these cheeks? It is frightful, on such a sunny day, to see care sitting in the hollows of the human face. His dark brows thickened at the narrow base of his hooked and prominent nose. His lips were unpleasantly full, his eyes brown and close-lying. When he lifted them, diagonal folds appeared on the peaked brow. His gaze expressed knowledge, limitation, and suffering. Seen in profile his face was strikingly like an old painting preserved at Florence in a narrow cloister cell whence once a frightful and shattering protest issued against life and her triumphs. Hieronymus walked along the Schellingstrasse with a slow, firm stride, holding his wide cloak together with both hands from inside. Two little girls, two of those pretty, plump little creatures with the bandeaux, the big feet, and the unobjectionable morals, strolled toward him arm in arm,



bent. They poked each other and laughed, they bent double with laughter, they even broke into a run and ran away still laughing, at his hood and his face. But he paid them no heed. With bent head, looking neither to the right nor to the left, he crossed the Ludwigstrasse and

on pleasure

mounted the church steps. The great wings of the middle portal stood wide open. From somewhere within the consecrated twilight, cool, dank, incense-laden, there came a pale red glow. An old woman with inflamed eyes rose from a prayer-stool and slipped on crutches through the columns. Otherwise the church was empty. Hieronymus sprinkled brow and breast at the stoup, bent the knee before the high altar, and then paused in the center nave. Here in the church his stature seemed to have


stood upright and immovable; his head was flung hooked nose jutted domineeringly above the thick lips. His eyes no longer sought the ground, but looked straight and boldly into the distance, at the crucifix on the high altar. Thus he stood awhile, then retreating he bent the knee again and left the church. He strode up the Ludwigstrasse, slowly, firmly, with bent head, in the center of the wide unpaved road, toward the mighty loggia with its statues. But arrived at the Odeonsplatz, he looked up, so that the folds came out on his peaked forehead, and checked his step, his attention being called to the crowd at the windows of the big art-shop of M. Bliithenzweig. People moved from window to window, pointing out to each other the treasures displayed and exchanging views as they looked over one another's shoulders. Hieronymus mingled among them and did as they did, taking in all these things with his eyes, one by one. He saw the reproductions of masterpieces from all the galleries in the world, the priceless frames so precious in their simplicity, the Renaissance sculpture, the bronze nudes, the exquisitely bound volumes, the iridescent vases.


up and

his great




musicians, philosophers, actors, the writers; he looked at everything and turaed a moment of his scrutiny upon each object. Holding his mantle closely together with both hands from inside, he moved his hoodcovered head in short turns from one thing to the next, gazportraits



ing at each awhile with a dull, inimical, and remotely surprised air, lifting the dark brows which grew so thick at the

base of the nose. At length he stood in front of the last window, which contained the startling picture. For a while he looked over the shoulders of people before him and then in his turn reached a position directly in front of the


The large red-brown photograph in the choice old-gold frame stood on an easel in the center. It was a Madonna, but an utterly unconventional one, a work of entirely modern feeling. The figure of the Holy Mother was revealed as enchantingly feminine and beautiful. Her great smoldering eyes were rimmed with darkness, and her delicate and strangely smiling lips were half-parted. Her slender fingers held in a somewhat nervous grasp the hips of the Child, a

nude boy of pronounced, almost primitive leanness. He was playing with her breast and glancing aside at the beholder with a wise look in his eyes. Two other youths stood near Hieronymus, talking about the picture. They were two young men with books under their arms, which they had fetched from the Library or were taking thither. Humanistically educated people, that is, equipped with science and with art. "The little chap is in luck, devil take me!" said one. "He seems to be trying to make one envious," replied the other. "A bewildering female!" "A female to drive a man crazy! Gives you funny ideas about the Immaculate Conception." "No, she doesn't look exactly immaculate. Have you seen the original?" "Of course; I was quite bowled over. She makes an even more aphrodisiac impression in color. Especially the eyes."


168 "The




pretty plain."


"Don't you dressmaker.


It is

the model? Of course he used his little almost a portrait, only with a lot more

emphasis on the corruptible. The girl is more innocent." "I hope so. Life would be altogether too much of a strain if there were many like this mater amata.'* "The Pinakothek has bought it." "Really? Well, well! They knew what they were about, anyhow. The treatment of the flesh and the flow of the linen garment are really first-class." "Yes, an incredibly gifted chap." "Do you know him?" "A little. He will have a career, that is certain. He has been invited twice by the Prince Regent." This last was said as they were taking leave of each other.

you this evening at the theater?" asked the "The Dramatic Club is giving Machiavelli's Mandra-

"Shall I see first.


be great, of course. I had meant probably choose our stout Niccolo after all. Good-by." They parted, going off to right and left. New people took their places and looked at the famous picture. But Hieronymus stood where he was, motionless, with his head thrust out; his hands clutched convulsively at the mantle as they held it together from inside. His brows were no longer lifted with that cool and unpleasantly surprised expression; they were drawn and darkened; his cheeks, half-shrouded in the black hood, seemed more sunken than ever and his thick lips had gone pale. Slowly his head dropped lower and

"Oh, bravo! That


to go to the Variete, but

I shall

lower, so that finally his eyes stared upward at th« work of art, while the nostrils of his great nose dilated. Thus he remained for perhaps a quarter of an hour. The crowd about him melted away, but he did not stir from the

At last he turned slowly on the went hence. spot.

balls of his feet





But the picture of the Madonna went with him. Always and ever, whether in his hard and narrow little room or kneeling in the cool church, it stood before his outraged soul, with its smoldering, dark-rimmed eyes, its riddlingly smiling lips stark and beautiful. And no prayer availed to exorcize it. But the third night it happened that a command and summons from on high came to Hieronymus, to intercede and lift his voice against the frivolity, blasphemy, and arrogance of beauty. In vain like Moses he protested that he had not the gift of tongues. God's will remained unshaken; in a loud voice He demanded that the faint-hearted Hieronymus go forth to sacrifice amid the jeers of the foe. And since God would have it so, he set forth one morning and wended his way to the great art-shop of M. Blüthenzweig. He wore his hood over his head and held his mantle together in front from inside with both hands as he went. The air had grown heavy, the sky was livid and thunder threatened. Once more crowds were besieging the showcases at the art-shop and especially the window where the photograph of the Madonna stood. Hieronymus cast one brief glance thither; then he pushed up the latch of the glass door hung with placards and art magazines. "As God wills," said he, and entered the shop. young girl was somewhere at a desk writing in a big book. She was a pretty brunette thing with bandeaux of hair and big feet. She came up to him and asked pleasantly


what he would like. "Thank you," said Hieronymus

in a low voice and looked her earnestly in the face, with diagonal wrinkles in his peaked brow. "I would speak not to you but to the owner of this shop, Herr Blüthenzweig." She hesitated a little, turned away, and took up her work once more. He stood there in the middle of the shop. Instead of the single specimens in the show-windows there was here a riot and a heaping-up of luxury, a fullness of color, line, form, style, invention, good taste, and beauty.



Hieronymus looked slowly round him, drawing



close with both hands.

There were several people in the shop besides him. At one of the broad tables running across the room sat a man in a yellow suit, with a black goat's-beard, looking at a

portfolio of French drawings, over which he now and then emitted a bleating laugh. He was being waited on by an undernourished and vegetarian young man, who kept on dragging up fresh portfolios. Diagonally opposite the bleating man sat an elegant old dame, examining art embroideries with a pattern of fabulous flowers in pale tones standing together on tall perpendicular stalks. An attendant hovered about her too. leisurely Englishman in a traveling-cap, with his pipe in his mouth, sat at another table. Cold and smooth-shaven, of indefinite age, in his good English clothes, he sat examining bronzes brought to him by M. Bliithenzweig in person. He was holding up by the head the dainty figure of a nude young girl, immature and delicately articulated, her hands crossed in coquettish innocence upon her breast. He studied her thoroughly, turning her slowly about. M. Bliithenzweig, a man with a short, heavy brown beard and bright brown eyes of exactly the same color, moved in a semicircle round him, rubbing his hands, praising the statuette with all the terms his vocabulary pos-



"A hundred and




he said in English.

"Munich art very charming, in fact. Simply full of charm, you know. Grace itself. Really extremely pretty, good, admirable, in fact." Then he thought of some more and went on: "Highly attractive, fascinating." Then he began again from the beginning. His nose lay a little flat on his upper lip, so that he breathed constantly with a slight sniff into his mustache. Sometimes he did this as he approached a customer, stooping over as though he were smelling at him. When Hieronymus entered, M. Bliithenzweig had examined him cursorily in this way, then devoted himself again to his Englishman. The elegant old dame made her selection and left the






man entered. M. Blüthenzweig sniffed briefly at though to scent out his capacity to buy and left him to the young bookkeeper. The man purchased a faience bust of young Piero de' Medici, son of Lorenzo, and went out again. The Englishman began to depart. He had acquired the statuette of the young girl and left amid bowings from M. Blüthenzweig. Then the art-dealer turned to Hieronymous and came forward. "You wanted something?" he said, without any particushop.



lar courtesy.

Hieronymus held his cloak together with both hands and looked the other in the face almost without winking an eyelash. He parted his big lips slowly and said: "I have come to you on account of the picture in the window there, the big photograph, the Madonna." His voice was thick and without modulation. "Yes, quite right," said M. Blüthenzweig briskly and began rubbing his hands. "Seventy marks in the frame. It a first-class reproduction. Highly attractive is unfadable and full of charm." Hieronymus was silent. He nodded his head in the hood and shrank a little into himself as the dealer spoke. Then he drew himself up again and said: "I would remark to you first of all that I am not in the position to purchase anything, nor have I the desire. I am sorry to have to disappoint your expectations. I regret if it upsets you. But in the first place I am poor and in the second I do not love the things you sell. No, I cannot buy

anything." "No? Well, then?" asked M. Blüthenzweig, sniffing a good deal. "Then may I ask "I suppose," Hieronymus went on, "that being what you are you look down on me because I am not in a position to



"Oh er Only—" "And yet ation, to



at all," said

M. Blüthenzweig. "Not

beg you to hear



at all.

and give some consider-




"Consideration to your words.





"You may ask," said Hieronymus, "and I will answer I have come to beg you to remove that picture, the big photograph, the Madonna, out of your window and


never display it again." M. Blüthenzweig looked awhile dumbly into Hieronymus's face as though he expected him to be abashed at the words he had just uttered. But as this did not happen he gave a violent sniff and spoke himself: "Will you be so good as to tell me whether you are here in any official capacity which authorizes you to dictate to me, or what does bring you here?" "Oh, no," replied Hieronymus, "I have neither office nor dignity from the state. I have no power on my side, sir. What brings me hither is my conscience alone." M. Blüthenzweig, searching for words, snorted violently into his mustache. At length he said: "Your conscience well, you will kindly understand that I take not the faintest interest in your conscience." With which he turned round and moved quickly to his desk at the back of the shop, where he began to write. Both attendants laughed heartily. The pretty Fräulein giggled over her account-book. As for the yellow gentleman with the goat's beard, he was evidently a foreigner, for he gave no sign of comprehension but went on studying the French drawings and emitting from time to time his bleating laugh. "Just get rid of the man for me," said M. Blüthenzweig shortly over his shoulder to his assistant. He went on writing. The poorly paid young vegetarian approached Hieronymus, smothering his laughter, and the other salesman came






"May we be

of service to you in any other way?" the first asked mildly. Hieronymus fixed him with his glazed and suffering eyes.

"No," he said, "you cannot. I beg you to take the Madonna picture out of the window, at once and forever." "But why?"

"Gladius Dei" "It is the


Holy Mother of God,"




in a


"Quite. But

you have heard


Herr Blüthenzweig


not inclined to accede to your request." "We must bear in mind that it is the Holy Mother of God," said Hieronymus again and his head trembled on his neck. "So we must. But should we not be allowed to exhibit any Madonnas or paint any?" "It is not that," said Hieronymus, almost whispering. He drew himself up and shook his head energetically several times. His peaked brow under the hood was entirely furrowed with long, deep cross-folds. "You know very well. that it is vice itself that is painted there naked sensuality. I was standing near two simple young people and overheard with my own ears that it led them astray upon the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception." "Oh, permit me that is not the point," said the young salesman, smiling. In his leisure hours he was writing a

brochure on the modern movement in art and was well qualified to conduct a cultured conversation. "The picture is a work of art," he went on, "and one must measure it by the appropriate standards as such. It has been very highly praised on all hands. The state has purchased it." "I know that the state has purchased it," said Hieronymus. "I also know that the artist has twice dined with the Prince Regent. It is common talk and God knows how people interpret the fact that a man can become famous by such work as this. What does such a fact bear witness

To the blindness of the world, a blindness inconceivable, not indeed shamelessly hypocritical. This picture has its origin in sensual lust and is enjoyed in the same is that true or not? Answer me! And you too answer me, Herr Blüthenzweig!" pause ensued. Hieronymus seemed in all seriousness to demand an answer to his question, looking by turns at the staring attendants and the round back M. Blüthenzweig to?



— 174

THOMAS MANN own piercing and anguishing Only the yellow man with the beard, bending over the French drawings, broke it

turned upon him, with his

brown goat's

eyes. Silence reigned.

with his bleating laugh. "It is true," Hieronymus went on in a hoarse voice that shook with his profound indignation. "You do not dare deny it. How then can honor be done to its creator, as though he had endowed mankind with a new ideal possession? How can one stand before it and surrender unthinkingly to the base enjoyment which it purveys, persuading oneself in all seriousness that one is yielding to a noble and elevated sentiment, highly creditable to the human race? Is this reckless ignorance or abandoned hypocrisy? My understanding falters, it is completely at a loss when confronted by the absurd fact that a man can achieve renown on this earth by the stupid and shameless exploitation of the animal instincts. Beauty? What is beauty? What forces are they which use beauty as their tool today and upon what does it work? No one can fail to know this, Herr Blüthenzweig. But who, understanding it clearly, can fail to feel disgust and pain? It is criminal to play upon the ignorance of the immature, the lewd, the brazen, and the unscrupulous by elevating beauty into an idol to be worshiped, to give it even more power over those who know not affliction and have no knowledge of redemption. You are unknown to me, and you look at me with black looks yet answer me! Knowledge, I tell you, is the profoundest torture in the world; but it is the purgatory without whose purifying pangs no soul can reach salvation. It is not infantile, blasphemous shallowness that can save us, Herr Blüthenzweig; only knowledge can avail, knowledge in which the passions of our loathsome flesh die away and are quenched." Silence. The yellow man with the goat's beard gave a sudden little bleat. "I think you really must go now," said the underpaid

assistant mildly.





But Hieronymus made no move to do so. Drawn up in hooded cape, he stood with blazing eyes in the center of the shop and his thick lips poured out condemnation in a voice that was harsh and rusty and clanking. "Art, you cry; enjoyment, beauty! Enfold the world in beauty and endow all things with the noble grace of style! Profligate, away! Do you think to wash over with lurid colors the misery of the world? Do you think with the sounds of feasting and music to drown out the voice of the tortured earth? Shameless one, you err! God lets not Himself be mocked, and your impudent deification of the glistering surface of things is an abomination in His eyes. You tell me that I blaspheme art. I say to you that you lie. I do not blaspheme art. Art is no conscienceless delusion, his


itself to reinforce the allurements of the fleshly. the holy torch which turns its light upon all the frightful depths, all the shameful and woeful abysses of



to the world that, being reflame up and dissolve altogether with its shames and torments. ^Take it out, Herr Blüthenzweig, take away the work of that famous painter out of your window you would do well to bum it with a hot fire and strew its ashes to the four winds yes, to all the four life;



deemed by

the godly pity,

— winds


fire laid


His harsh voice broke off. He had taken a violent backstep, snatched one arm from his black wrappings, and stretched it passionately forth, gesturing toward the window with a hand that shook as though palsied. And in this commanding attitude he paused. His great hooked nose seemed to jut more than ever, his dark brows were gathered so thick and high that folds crowded upon the peaked forehead shaded by the hood; a hectic flush mantled his hollow



But at this point M. Bliithenzweig turned round. Perhaps he was outraged by the idea of burning his seventy-mark reproduction; perhaps Hieronymus's speech had completely exhausted his patience. In any case he was a picture of




Stern and righteous anger. He pointed with his pen to the door of the shop, gave several short, excited snorts into his mustache, struggled for words, and uttered with the maximum of energy those which he found: "My fine fellow, if you don't get out at once I will have my packer help you do you understand?" "Oh, you cannot intimidate me, you cannot drive me away, you cannot silence my voice!" cried Hieronymus as he clutched his cloak over his chest with his fists and shook his head doughtily. "I know that I am single-handed and powerless, but yet I will not cease until you hear me, Herr Bliithenzweig! Take the picture out of your window and burn it even today! Ah, burn not it alone! Burn all these statues and busts, the sight of which plunges the beholder into sin! Burn these vases and ornaments, these shameless revivals of paganism, these elegantly bound volumes of erotic verse! Burn everything in your shop, Herr Bliithenzweig, for it is a filthiness in God's sight. Burn it, burn it!" he shrieked, beside himself, describing a wild, all-embracing circle with his arm. "The harvest is ripe for the reaper, the measure of the age's shamelessness is full but I say unto


"Krauthuber!" Herr Bliithenzweig raised his voice and shouted toward a door at the back of the shop. "Come in here at once!" And in answer to the summons there appeared upon the scene a massive overpowering presence, a vast and aweinspiring, swollen human bulk, whose limbs merged into each other like links of sausage a gigantic son of the people, malt-nourished and immoderate, who weighed in, with puffings, bursting with energy, from the packing-room. His appearance in the upper reaches of his form was notable for a fringe of walrus beard; a hide apron fouled with paste covered his body from the waist down, and his yellow shirtsleeves were rolled back from his heroic arms. "Will you open the door for this gentleman, Krauthuber?" said M. Bliithenzweig; "and if he should not find the way to it, just help him into the street." ,



"Gladius Dei"

"Huh," said the man, looking from his enraged employer to Hieronymus and back with his little elephant eyes. It was a heavy monosyllable, suggesting reserve force restrained with difficulty. The floor shook with his tread as he went to the door and opened it. Hieronymus had grown very pale. "Burn " he shouted once more. He was about to go on when he felt himself turned round by an irresistible power, by a physical preponderance to which no resistance was even thinkable. Slowly and inexorably he was propelled toward the door.


am weak,"

he managed to ejaculate.

not bear the force ... it cannot hold but what does that prove? Bum



He found



flesh can-

ground, no



himself outside the art-shop.



had let him go with one final shove, which set him down on the stone threshold of the shop, supporting himself with one hand. Behind him the Bliithenzweig's giant packer

door closed with a rattle of glass. He picked himself up. He stood erect, breathing heavily, and pulled his cloak together with one fist over his breast, letting the other hang down inside. His hollow cheeks had a gray pallor; the nostrils of his great hooked nose opened and closed; his ugly lips writhed in an expression of hatred and despair and his red-rimmed eyes wandered over the beautiful square like those of a man in a frenzy. He did not see that people were looking at him with amusement and curiosity. For what he beheld upon the mosaic pavement before the great loggia were all the vanities of this world: the masked costumes of the artist balls, the decorations, vases and art objects, the nude statues, the female busts, the picturesque rebirths of the pagan age,

famous beauties by the hands of masters, bound erotic verse, the art brochures all these he saw heaped in a pyramid and going up in crackling flames amid loud exultations from the people enthralled by his own frightful words. A yellow background of cloud had drawn up over the Theatinerstrasse, and from it issued wild the portraits of the elegantly



rumblings; but what he saw was a burning fiery sword, towering in sulphurous light above the joyous city. ." his thick lips whispered; "Gladius Dei super terrain and drawing himself still higher in his hooded cloak while the hand hanging down inside it twitched convulsively, he murmured, quaking: "cito et velociter!" .





in the late 1920's the great translations of

by Edwin and Willa Muir



to appear,

Kafka with

The Castle and The Chinese Wall, it seemed that here was an allegorist who had invented an imaginary world in which all behavior was seen as symbolic action in the baffling search for, and loss of, an omnipresent, infinitely logical relation of the fantasy to the appalling reality of

man's journey judgment.

to his end,

and God's seemingly

To many, Kafka

described the




tion without reference to any particular time or place.

But in stories like "The Metamorphosis," in which a young man wakes one morning to find that he has turned into a horrible parasite, it is evident that Kafka could come very near to describing, in his language of meta-

own illness. Moreover, Kafka's world of an authority incomprehensible to human beings working through crazy bureaucrats seems very close to the world which produced the mad corpse factories of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. In this story, Kakfa seems a prophet who created a picture of Europe corresponding to Goya's "Disasters of War," but before, rather than after, the appalling event. phor, the effects of his


the Penal Colony

"It's a remarkable piece of apparatus," said the officer to the explorer and surveyed with a certain air of admiration the apparatus which was after all quite familiar to him. The

explorer seemed to have accepted merely out of politeness Commandant's invitation to witness the execution of a soldier condemned to death for disobedience and insulting behavior to a superior. Nor did the colony itself betray the


At least, in the small sandy deep hollow surrounded on all sides by naked crags, there was no one present save the officer, the explorer, the condemned man, who was a stupid-looking widemouthed creature with bewildered hair and face, and the soldier who held the heavy chain controlling the small chains locked on the prisoner's ankles, wrists and neck, chains which were themselves attached to each other by communicating links. In any case, the condemned man looked so like a submissive dog that one might have thought he could be left to run free on the surrounding hills and would only need to be whistled for when the execution was due to begin. The explorer did not much care about the apparatus and walked up and down behind the prisoner with almost visible interest in this execution.

valley, a

made the last adjustments, creeping beneath the structure, which was bedded deep in the earth, now climbing a ladder to inspect its upper parts. These were tasks that might well have been left to a mechanic, but the officer performed them with great zeal, whether because he was a devoted admirer of the apparatus or because of other reasons the work could indifference while the officer


In the Penal Colony


be entrusted to no one else. "Ready now!" he called at last and climbed down from the ladder. He looked uncommonly limp, breathed with his mouth wide open and had tucked two fine ladies' handkerchiefs under the collar of his uniform. "These uniforms are too heavy for the tropics, surely," said the explorer, instead of

about the




making some inquiry had expected. "Of oily and greasy hands


course," said the officer, washing his

in a bucket of water that stood ready,


to us;

have a look




to forget about

"but they





machine," he added at once, simultaneously drying his hands on a towel and indicating the apparatus. "Up till now a few things still had to be set by hand, but from this moment it works all by itself." The explorer nodded and followed him. The officer, anxious to secure himself against all contingencies, said: "Things sometimes go wrong, of course; I hope that nothing goes wrong today, but we have to allow for the possibility. The machinery should go on working continuously for twelve hours. But if anything does go wrong it will only be some small matter that can be set right at once." "Won't you take a seat?" he asked finally, drawing a cane chair out from among a heap of them and offering it to the explorer, who could not refuse it. He was now sitting at the edge of a pit, into which he glanced for a fleeting moment. It was not very deep. On one side of the pit the excavated soil had been piled up in a rampart, on the at this

other side of it stood the apparatus. "I don't know," said the officer, "if the Commandant has already explained this apparatus to you." The explorer waved one hand vaguely;

now he could exapparatus himself. "This apparatus," he said, taking hold of a crank handle and leaning against it, "was invented by our former Commandant. I assisted at the very earliest experiments and had a share in all the work until its completion. But the credit of inventing it belongs to him alone. Have you ever heard of our former Commandant? No? Well, it isn't saying too much if I tell you that the officer asked for nothing better, since





the Organization of the whole penal colony

who were

his friends


knew even before he




died that the

organization of the colony was so perfect that his successor, even with a thousand new schemes in his head, would find


impossible to alter anything, at least for




our prophecy has come true; the new Commandant has had to acknowledge its truth. pity you never met the old Commandant! But," the officer interrupted himself, "I am rambling on, and here stands his to come.


apparatus before us. It consists, as you see, of three parts. In the course of time each of these parts has acquired a kind of popular nickname. The lower one is called the 'Bed' the upper one the 'Designer,' and this one here in " the middle that moves up and down is called the 'Harrow.' "The Harrow?" asked the explorer. He had not been listening very attentively, the glare of the sun in the shadeless valley was altogether too strong, it was difficult to collect one's thoughts. All the more did he admire the officer, who in spite of his tight-fitting full-dress uniform coat, amply befrogged and weighed down by epaulettes, was pursuing his subject with such enthusiasm and, besides talking, was still tightening a screw here and there with a spanner. As for the soldier, he seemed to be in much the same condition as the explorer. He had wound the prisoner's chain round both his wrists, propped himself on his let his head hang and was paying no attention to anything. That did not surprise the explorer, for the officer was speaking French, and certainly neither the soldier rifle,

nor the prisoner understood a word of French.

It was all more remarkable, therefore, that the prisoner was none the less making an effort to follow the officer's explanations. With a kind of drowsy persistence he directed his gaze


wherever the


pointed a finger, and at the interrup-

tion of the explorer's question he, too, as well as the officer,

looked round. "Yes, the Harrow," said the


officer, "a good name for it. needles are set in like the teeth of a harrow and the

— In the Penal Colony


whole thing works something like a harrow, although its action is limited to one place and contrived with much more artistic skill. Anyhow, you'll soon understand it. On I'm going to dethe Bed here the condemned man is laid

before I set it in motion. Then you'll be able to follow the proceedings better. Besides, one of the cog wheels in the Designer is badly worn; it creaks a lot when it's working; you can hardly hear yourself scribe the apparatus


speak; spare parts, unfortunately, are difficult to get here. Well, here is the Bed, as I told you. It is completely covered with a layer of cotton wool; you'll find out why later. On this cotton wool the condemned man is laid, face down, quite naked, of course; here are straps for the hands, here

and here for the neck, to bind him fast. Here head of the Bed, where the man, as I said, first lays down his face, is this little gag of felt, which can be easily regulated to go straight into his mouth. It is meant to keep him from screaming and biting his tongue. Of course the man is forced to take the felt into his mouth, for otherwise his neck would be broken by the strap." "Is that cotton wool?" asked the explorer, bending forward. "Yes, cerfor the feet, at the

tainly," said the officer, with a smile, "feel


for yourself."


took the explorer's hand and guided it over the Bed. "It's specially prepared cotton wool, that's why it looks so I'll tell you presently what it's for." The explorer already felt a dawning interest in the apparatus; he sheltered his eyes from the sun with one hand and gazed up at the structure. It was a huge affair. The Bed and the Designer were of the same size and looked like two dark wooden chests. The Designer hung about two meters above the Bed; each of them was bound at the corners with four rods of brass that almost flashed out rays in the sunlight. Between the chests shuttled the Harrow on a ribbon of





had scarcely noticed the explorer's previous was now well aware of his dawning in-

indifference, but he terest; so

he stopped explaining in order to leave a space



of time for quiet observation. The condemned man imitated the explorer; since he could not use a hand to shelter his eyes he gazed upward without shade. "Well, the man lies down," said the explorer, leaning back in his chair and crossing his legs. "Yes," said the oflScer, pushing his cap back a little and passing one hand over his heated face, "now listen! Both the Bed and the Designer have an electric battery each; the Bed needs one for itself, the Designer for the Harrow. As soon as the man is strapped down, the Bed is set in motion. It quivers in minute, very rapid vibrations, both from side to side and up and down. You will have seen similar apparatus in hospitals; but in our Bed the movements are all precisely calculated; you see, they have to correspond very exactly to the movements of the Harrow. And the Harrow is the instrument for the actual execution of the sentence." "And how does the sentence run?" asked the explorer. "You don't know that either?" said the officer in amazement, and bit his lips. "Forgive me if my explanations seem rather incoherent. I do beg your pardon. You see, the Commandant always used to do the explaining; but the new Commandant shirks this duty; yet that such an important visitor" the explorer tried to deprecate the honor with both hands, the ofläcer, however, insisted "that such an important visitor should not even be told about the kind of sentence we pass is a new development, which " He was just on the point of using strong language but checked himself and said only: "I was not informed, it is not my fault. In any case, I am certainly the best person to explain our procedure, since I have here" he patted his breast pocket "the relevant drawings made by our former Com-


"The Commandant's own drawings?" asked the explorer. "Did he combine everything in himself, then? Was he soldier, judge, mechanic, chemist and draughtsman?" "Indeed he was," said the oflBcer, nodding assent, with a remote, glassy look. Then he inspected his hands criti-

In the Penal Colony


they did not seem clean enough to him for touching went over to the bucket and washed them again. Then he drew out a small leather wallet and said: "Our sentence does not sound severe. Whatever commandment the prisoner has disobeyed is written upon his body by the Harrow. This prisoner, for instance" the officer indicated the man "will have written on his body: HONOR THY SUPERIORS.'" The explorer glanced at the man; he stood, as the officer pointed him out, with bent head, apparently listening with all his ears in an effort to catch what was being said. Yet the movement of his blubber lips, closely pressed together, showed clearly that he could not understand a word. Many questions were troubling the explorer, but at the sight of the prisoner he asked only: "Does he know his sentence?" "No," said the officer, eager to go on with his exposition, but the explorer interrupted him: "He doesn't know the sentence that has been passed on him?" "No," said the officer again, pausing a moment as if to let the explorer elaborate his question, and then said: "There would be no point in telling him. He'll learn it on his body." The explorer intended to make no answer, but he felt the prisoner's gaze turned on him; it seemed to ask if he approved such goings-on. So he bent forward again, having already leaned back in his chair, and put another question: "But surely he knows that he has been sentenced?" "Nor that either," said the officer, smiling at the explorer as if expecting him to make further surprising remarks. "No," said the explorer, wiping his forehead, "then he can't know either whether his defense was effective?" "He has had no chance of putting up a defense," said the officer, turning his eyes away as if speaking to himself and so sparing the explorer the shame of hearing self-evident matters explained. "But he must have had some chance of defending himself," said the explorer, and rose from his seat. The officer realized that he was in danger of having his exposition of the apparatus held up for a long time; so he went up to the explorer, took him by the arm, waved a cally;

the drawings; so he



hand toward the condemned man, who was standing very straight now that he had so obviously become the center of and the soldier had also given the chain a jerk attention

said: "This

judge in




have been appointed penal colony. Despite my youth. For I was the matter stands.


Commandant's assistant in all penal matters and know more about the apparatus than anyone. My guid-

the former

ing principle is this: Guilt is never to be doubted. Other courts cannot follow that principle, for they consist of several opinions and have higher courts to scrutinize them. That is not the case here, or at least, it was not the case in

Commandant's shown some inclination to

the former


The new man has

interfere with



judgments, but

so far I have succeeded in fending him off and will go on succeeding. You wanted to have the case explained; it is captain reported to me this quite simple, like all of them. morning that this man, who had been assigned to him as a servant and sleeps before his door, had been asleep on


duty. It strikes

is his




see, to get

up every time the hour Not an exacting duty,

salute the captain's door.

and very necessary, since he has to be a sentry as well as a servant, and must be alert in both functions. Last night the captain wanted to see if the man was doing his duty. He opened the door as the clock struck two and there was his man curled up asleep. He took his riding whip and lashed him across the face. Instead of getting up and begging pardon, the


caught hold of his master's


shook him and cried: Throw that whip away or I'll eat you alive.' That's the evidence. The captain came to m.e an hour ago, I wrote down his statement and appended the sentence to it. Then I had the man put in chains. That was all quite simple. If I had first called the man before me and interrogated him, things would have got into a confused tangle. He would have told lies, and had I exposed these lies he would have backed them up with more lies, and so on and so forth. As it is, I've got him and I won't let him go. Is that quite clear now? But we're wasting time, the execution should be beginning and I haven't fin-

— In the Penal Colony ished explaining the apparatus yet."



pressed the explorer back into his chair, went up again to the apparatus and began: "As you see, the shape of the Harrow corresponds to the human form; here is the harrow for the torso, here are the harrows for the legs. For the head there is only this one small spike. Is that quite clear?" He bent amiably forward toward the explorer, eager to provide the most comprehensive explanations. The explorer considered the Harrow with a frown. The explanation of the judicial procedure had not satisfied him.

He had

to remind himself that this was in any case a penal colony where extraordinary measures were needed and that military discipline must be enforced to the last. He also felt that some hope might be set on the new Commandant, who was apparently of a mind to bring in, although gradually, a new kind of procedure which the officer's narrow mind was incapable of understanding. The train of thought prompted his next question: "Will the Commandant attend the execution?" "It is not certain," said the officer, wincing at the direct question,


his friendly expression dark-

to lose no time. Much as I have to cut my explanations short. But of course tomorrow, when the apparatus has been cleaned I can recapituits one drawback is that it gets so messy late all the details. For the present, then, only the essentials. When the man lies down on the Bed and it begins to vibrate, the Harrow is lowered onto his body. It regulates itself automatically so that the needles barely touch his skin; once contact is made the steel ribbon stiffens immediately into a rigid band. And then the performance begins. An ignorant onlooker would see no difference between one punishment and another. The Harrow appears to do its work with uniform regularity. As it quivers, its points pierce the skin of the body which is itself quivering from the vibration of the Bed. So that the actual progress of the sentence can be watched, the Harrow is made of glass. Getting the. needles fixed in the glass was a technical problem, but

ened. "That dislike




why we have

I shall





overcame- the





was too great for us to take, you see. And now anyone can look through the glass and watch the inscription taking form on the body. Wouldn't you care to come a little nearer and have a look at the needles?" The explorer got up slowly, walked across and bent over the Harrow. "You see," said the officer, "there are two kinds


of needles arranged in multiple patterns. Each long needle has a short one beside it. The long needle does the writing,

and the short needle sprays a jet of water to wash away the blood and keep the inscription clear. Blood and water together are then conducted here through small runnels into this main runnel and down a waste pipe into the pit." With his finger the officer traced the exact course taken by the blood and water. To make the picture as vivid as possible he held both hands below the outlet of the waste pipe as if to catch the outflow, and when he did this the explorer drew back his head and feeling behind him with one hand sought to return to his chair. To his horror he found that the condemned man too had obeyed the officer's invitation to examine the Harrow at close quarters and had followed him. He had pulled forward the sleepy soldier with the chain and was bending over the glass. One could see that his unto perceive what the two gentlelooking at, but since he had not understood the explanation he could not make head or tail of it. He was peering this way and that way. He kept running his eyes along the glass. The explorer wanted to drive him away, since what he was doing was probably culpable. But the officer firmly restrained the explorer with one hand and with the other took a clod of earth from the rampart and threw it at the soldier. He opened his eyes with a jerk, saw what the condemned man had dared to do, let his rifle fall, dug his heels into the ground, dragged his prisoner back so that he stumbled and fell immediately, and then stood looking down at him, watching him struggling and rattling in his chains. "Set him on his feet!" yelled the officer, for he noticed that the explorer's attention was being too much distracted by the prisoner. In fact he was even

certain eyes

were trying

men had been


In the Penal Colony

leaning right across the Harrow, without taking any notice of it, intent only on finding out what was happening to the prisoner. "Be careful with him!" cried the officer again.

He ran round the apparatus, himself caught the condemned man under the shoulders and with the soldier's help got him slithering from under him. about it," said the explorer as the officer came back to him. "All except the most important thing," he answered, seizing the explorer's arm and pointing upward: "In the Designer are all the cogwheels that

up on

his feet,



which kept



movements of the Harrow, and this machinery regulated according to the inscription demanded by the sentence. I am still using the guiding plans drawn by the control the


he extracted —"but — I'm sorry

former Commandant. Here they are" sheets

from the leather wallet



can't let

you handle them, they are my most precious possessions. Just take a seat and I'll hold them in front of you like this, then you'll be able to see everything quite well." He spread out the first sheet of paper. The explorer would have liked to say something appreciative, but all he could see was a labyrinth of lines crossing and recrossing each other, which covered the paper so thickly that it was difficult to discern the blank spaces between them. "Read it," said the officer. "I can't," said the explorer. "Yet it's clear enough," said the officer. "It's very ingenious," said the explorer evasively, "but I can't make it out." "Yes," said the officer with a laugh, putting the paper away again, "it's no calligraphy for school children. It needs to be studied closely. I'm quite sure that in the end you would understand it too. Of course the script can't be a simple one; it's not supposed to kill a man straight off, but only after an interval of, on an average, twelve hours; the turning point is reckoned to come at the sixth hour. So there have to be lots and lots of flourishes

around the actual

script; the script itself

runs round the body only in a narrow girdle; the rest of the body is reserved for the embellishments. Can you appreciate now the work accomplished by the Harrow and the whole apparatus? Just watch it!" He ran up the ladder,



turned a wheel, called down: "Look out, keep to one side!" and everything started working. If the wheel had not creaked, it would have been marvelous. The officer, as if surprised by the noise of the wheel, shook his fist at it, then spread out his arms in excuse to the explorer and climbed down rapidly to peer at the working of the machine from below. Something perceptible to no one save himself was still not in order; he clambered up again, did something with both hands in tlie interior of the Designer, then slid down one of the rods, instead of using the ladder, so as to get down quicker, and with the full force of his lungs, to make himself heard at all in the noise, yelled in the explorer's ear: "Can you follow it? The Harrow is beginning to write;



finishes the first draft of the inscription

on the man's back, the layer of cotton wool begins to roll and slowly turns the body over, to give the Harrow fresh space for writing. Meanwhile the raw part that has been written on lies on the cotton wool, which is specially prepared to staunch the bleeding and so makes all ready for a new deepening of the script. Then these teeth at the edge of the Harrow, as the body turns further round, tear the cotton wool away from the wounds, throw it into the pit, is more work for the Harrow. So it keeps on deeper and deeper for the whole twelve hours. The first six hours the condemned man stays alive almost as before, he suffers only pain. After two hours the felt gag is taken away, for he has no longer strength to scream. Here, into this electrically heated basin at the head of the bed, some warm rice pap is poured, from which the man, if he feels like it, can take as much as his tongue can lap. Not one of them ever misses the chance. I can remember none, and my experience is extensive. Only about the sixth hour does the man lose all desire to eat. I usually kneel down here at that moment and observe what happens. The man rarely swallows his last mouthful, he only rolls it round his mouth and spits it out into the pit. I have to duck just then or he would spit it in my face. But how quiet he grows at just about the sixth hour! Enlightenment

and there v^riting

In the Penal Colony


around the eyes. might tempt one to get under the Harrow oneself. Nothing more happens than that the man begins to understand the inscription, he purses his mouth as if he were listening. You have seen how diflScult it is to decipher the script with one's eyes; but our man deciphers it with his wounds. To be sure, that is a hard task; he needs six hours to accomplish it. By that time the Harrow has pierced him quite through and casts him into the pit, where he pitches down upon the blood and water and the cotton wool. Then the judgment has been fulfilled, and we, the soldier and I, bury him." The explorer had inclined his ear to the officer and with his hands in his jacket pockets watched the machine at work. The condemned man watched it too, but uncomprehendingly. He bent forward a little and was intent on the



to the




dull-witted. It begins



moving needles when the



from the oflScer, from behind with a

soldier, at a sign

slashed through his shirt and trousers knife, so that they fell off;


tried to catch at his falling

clothes to cover his nakedness, but the soldier lifted


remnants from him. The officer stopped the machine, and in the sudden silence the condemned man was laid under the Harrow. The chains were loosened and the straps fastened on instead; in the into the air

and shook the



that seemed almost a the Harrow was adjusted was a thin man. When the needle shudder ran over his skin; while the


ping his right hand, he flung out his



And now

relief to the prisoner. a little lower, since he points touched him a

was busy straphand blmdly; but it toward where the explorer

happened to be in the direction was standing. The officer kept watching the explorer sideways, as if seeking to read from his face the impression made on him by the execution, which had been at least cursorily explained to him.

The wrist strap broke; probably the soldier had drawn too tight. The officer had to intervene, the soldier held up the broken piece of strap to show him. So the officer went over to him and said, his face still turned toward the exit



plorer: "This


a very

complex machine,

that things are breaking or giving


it can't be helped here and there; but

one must not thereby allow oneself to be diverted in one's general judgment. In any case, this strap is easily made simply use a chain; the delicacy of the vibraarm will of course be a little impaired." And while he fastened the chains, he added: "The resources for maintaining the machine are now very much reduced. Under the former Commandant I had free access to a sum of money set aside entirely for this purpose. There was a store, too, in which spare parts were kept for repairs of all kinds. I confess I have been almost prodigal with them, I mean in the past, not now as the new Commandant pretends, always looking for an excuse to attack our old way of doing things. Now he has taken charge of the machine money himself, and if I send for a new strap they ask for good;

I shall

tions for the right

the broken old strap as evidence, and the new strap takes ten days to appear and then is of shoddy material and

not much good. But how I am supposed to work the machine without a strap, that's something nobody bothers about." The explorer thought to himself: It's always a ticklish matter to intervene decisively in other people's affairs. He was neither a member of the penal colony nor a citizen of the state to which it belonged. Were he to denounce this execution or actually try to stop it, they could say to him: You are a foreigner, mind your own business. He could make no answer to that, unless he were to add that he was amazed at himself in this connection, for he traveled only as an observer, with no intention at all of altering other people's methods of administering justice. Yet here he found himself strongly tempted. The injustice of the procedure and the inhumanity of the execution were undeniable. No one could suppose that he had any selfish inter-

condemned man was a complete countryman or even at all sympathetic to him. The explorer himself had recommendations from high quarters, had been received here with great est in the matter, for the

stranger, not a fellow

In the Penal Colony


courtesy, and the very fact that he had been invited to at-

tend the execution seemed to suggest that his views would be welcome. And this was all the more likely since the Commandant, as he had heard only too plainly, was no upholder of the procedure and maintained an attitude almost of hostility to the officer.




He had

the explorer heard the officer cry out in

with considerable difficulty, forced the gag into the condemned man's mouth when the man in an irresistible access of nausea shut his eyes and vomited. Hastily the officer snatched him away from the gag and tried to hold his head over the pit; but it was too late, the vomit was running all over the machine. "It's all the rage.



fault of that


cried the officer, senselessly

shaking the brass rods in front, "the machine is befouled Hke a pigsty." With trembling hands he indicated to the explorer what had happened. "Have I not tried for hours at a time to get the Commandant to understand that the prisoner must fast for a whole day before the execution. But our new, mild doctrine thinks otherwise. The Commandant's ladies stuff the man with sugar candy before he's led off. He has lived on stinking fish his whole life long and now he has to eat sugar candy! But it could still be possible, I should have nothing to say against it, but why won't they get me a new felt gag, which I have been begging for the last three months. How should a man not feel sick when he takes a felt gag into his mouth which more than a hundred men have already slobbered and gnawed in their dying moments?" The condemned man had laid his head down and looked peaceful, the soldier was busy trying to clean the machine with the prisoner's shirt. The officer advanced toward the explorer, who in some vague presentiment fell back a pace, but the officer seized him by the hand, and drew him to one side. "I should like to exchange a few words with you. in confidence," he said, "may I?" "Of course," said the explorer, and listened with downcast eyes. "This procedure and method of execution, which you



having the opportunity to admire, has at the moment no longer any open adherents in our colony. I am its sole advocate, and at the same time the sole advocate of the old Commandant's tradition. I can no longer reckon on any further extension of the method, it takes all my energy to maintain it as it is. During the old Commandant's hfetime the colony was full of his adherents; his strength of conviction I still have in some measure, but not an atom of his power; consequently the adherents have skulked out of sight, there are still many of them but none of them will admit it. If you were to go into the teahouse today, on execution day, and listen to what is being said, you would perhaps hear only ambiguous remarks. These would all be made by adherents, but under the present Commandant and his present doctrines they are of no use to me. And now I ask you: because of this Commandant and the women who influence him, is such a piece of work, the work of a lifetime" he pointed to the machine "to perish? Ought one to let that happen? Even if one has only come as a stranger to our island for a few days? But there's no time to lose, an attack of some kind is impending on my function as judge; conferences are already being held in the Commandant's office from which I am excluded; even your coming here today seems to me a significant move; they are cowards and use you as a screen, you, a How different an execution was in the old days! stranger. A whole day before the ceremony the valley was packed with people; they all came only to look on; early in the morning the Commandant appeared with his ladies; fanfares roused the whole camp; I reported that everything was in readiness; the assembled company no high official dared to absent himself arranged itself round the machine; this pile of cane chairs is a miserable survival from that epoch. The machine was freshly cleaned and glittering, ^I got new spare parts for almost every execution. Before hundreds of spectators all of them standing on tiptoe as the condemned man was laid unfar as the heights there are


— —

der the

Harrow by





is left

In the Penal Colony today for a



do was then my task, the and was an honor for me. And

soldier to

task of the presiding judge,

then the execution began! No discordant noise spoilt the working of the machine. Many did not care to watch it but lay with closed eyes in the sand; they all knew: Now Justice is being done. In the silence one heard nothing but the condemned man's sighs, half muffled by the felt gag. Now-

adays the machine can no longer wring from anyone a sigh louder than the felt gag can stifle; but in those days the writing needles let drop an acid fluid, which we're no longer permitted to use. Well, and then came the sixth hour! It was impossible to grant all the requests to be allowed to watch it from near by. The Commandant in his wisdom ordained that the children should have the preference; I, of course, because of my office had the privilege of always being at hand; often enough I would be squatting there with a small child in either arm. How we all absorbed the look of transfiguration on the face of the sufferer, how we bathed our cheeks in the radiance of that justice, achieved at last and fading so quickly! What times these were, my comrade!" The officer had obviously forgotten whom he was addressing; he had embraced the explorer and laid his head on his shoulder. The explorer was deeply embarrassed, impatiently he stared over the officer's head. The soldier had finished his cleaning job and was now pouring rice pap from a pot into the basin. As soon as the condemned man, who seemed to have recovered entirely, noticed this action he began to reach for the rice with his tongue. The soldier kept pushing him away, since the rice pap was certainly meant for a later hour, yet it was just as unfitting that the soldier himself should thrust his dirty hands into the basin and eat out of it before the other's avid face. The officer quickly pulled himself together. "I didn't want to upset you," he said, 'T know it is impossible to make those days credible now. Anyhow, the machine is still

working and even though still

falls at*

it is still it

effective in itself. It


stands alone in the valley.

effective in itself


the corpse

the last into the pit with an incomprehensibly



gentle wafting motion, even although there are no hundreds of people swarming round like flies as formerly. In those days we had to put a strong fence round the pit, it has

long since been torn down." The explorer wanted to withdraw his face from the officer and looked round him at random. The ofiBcer thought he was surveying the valley's desolation; so he seized him by the hands, turned him round to meet his eyes, and asked: "Do you realize the shame of it?" But the explorer said nothing. The ofificer left him alone for a little; with legs apart, hands on hips, he stood very still, gazing at the ground. Then he smiled encouragingly at the explorer and said: "I was quite near you yesterday when the Commandant gave you the invitation. I heard him giving it. I know the Commandant. I divined at once what he was after. Although he is powerful enough to take measures against me, he doesn't dare to do it yet, but he certainly means to use your verdict against me, the verdict of an illustrious foreigner. He has calculated it carefully: this is your second day on the island, you did not know the old Commandant and his ways, you are conditioned by European ways of thought, perhaps you object on principle to capital punishment in general and to such mechanical instruments of death in particular, besides you will see that the execution has no support from the public, a shabby ceremony carried out with a machine already somewhat now, taking all that into consideration, old and worn would it not be likely (so thinks the Commandant) that you might disapprove of my methods? And if you disapprove, you wouldn't conceal the fact (I'm still speaking from the Commandant's point of view), for you are a man to feel confidence in your own well-tried conclusions. True, you have seen and learned to appreciate the peculiarities of many peoples, and so you would not be likely to take a strong line against our proceedings, as you might do in your own country. But the Commandant has no need of that. casual, even an unguarded remark will be enough. It doesn't even need to represent what you really think, so long as it


— In the Penal Colony can be used speciously to serve

prompt you with


He will try to am certain. And

his purpose.

sly questions, of that I

sit around you and prick up their ears; you might be saying something like this: 'In our country we have a different criminal procedure,' or 'In our country the prisoner is interrogated before he is sentenced,' or 'We haven't used torture since the Middle Ages.' All these statements are as true as they seem natural to you, harmless remarks that pass no judgment on my methods. But how would the Commandant react to them? I can see him, our good Commandant, pushing his chair away immediately and rushing on to the balcony, I can see his ladies streaming out after him, I can hear his voice the ladies call it a well, and this is what he says: 'A famous voice of thunder Western investigator, sent out to study criminal procedure in all the countries of the world, has just said that our old tradition of administering justice is inhumane. Such a verdict from such a personality makes it impossible for me to countenance these methods any longer. Therefore from this .' and so on. You may want to intervery day I ordain pose that you never said any such thing, that you never called my methods inhumane, on the contrary your profound experience leads you to believe they are most humane and most in consonance with human dignity, and you admire the machine greatly but it will be too late; you won't even get onto the balcony, crowded as it will be with ladies; you may try to draw attention to yourself; you may want to scream out; but a lady's hand will close your lips and I and the work of the old Commandant will be done

his ladies will




The explorer had

to suppress a smile; so easy, then,


He said evasively: "You overestimate my influence; the Commandant has read my letters of recommendation, he knows that I am no exhad

the task he

felt to

be so

were to give an opinion, an opinion no more than that of any ordinary person, and in any

pert in criminal procedure. If it

would be






as a private individual,

less influential

than that of the Commandant,


198 who,



given to understand, has very extensive powers

your procedure is end of hand, even without any humble as-

in this penal colony. If his attitude to

as definitely hostile as

your tradition




believe, then I fear the

from me." Had it dawned on the oJQBcer at last? No, he still did not understand. He shook his head emphatically, glanced briefly round at the condemned man and the soldier, who both flinched away from the rice, came close up to the


explorer and without looking at his face but jBxing his eye on some spot on his coat said in a lower voice than before: "You don't know the Commandant; you feel yourself forgive the expression a kind of outsider so far as all of us

are concerned; yet, believe me, your influence cannot be

rated too highly. I was simply delighted when I heard that you were to attend the execution all by yourself. The Commandant arranged it to aim a blow at me, but I shall turn it to my advantage. Without being distracted by lying whiswhich could not have been pers and contemptuous glances avoided had a crowd of people attended the execution you have heard my explanations, seen the machine and are now in course of watching the execution. You have doubtless already formed your own judgment; if you still have some small uncertainties the sight of the execution

And now

I make this request to you: Commandant!" The explorer would not let him go on. "How could I

will resolve them.



against the

do that," he cried, nor hinder you."


quite impossible. I can neither help

"Yes, you can," the officer said.

The explorer saw with a

had clenched his fists. "Yes, you can," repeated the officer, stiU more insistently. "I have a plan that is bound to succeed. You believe your certain apprehension that the officer





even granted that you are



right, is






not necessary, for the

sake of preserving this tradition, to try even what might my plan, then. The first thing necessary for you to carry it out is to be as reticent as pos-

prove insufficient? Listen to


In the Penal Colony

today regarding your verdict on these proceedings. Unless you are asked a direct question you must say nothing at all; but what you do say must be brief and general; let it be remarked that you would prefer not to discuss the matter, that you are out of patience with it, that if you are to let yourself go you would use strong language. I don't ask you to tell any lies; by no means; you should only give curt answers, such as: 'Yes, I saw the execution,' or 'Yes, I had it explained to me.' Just that, nothing more. There are grounds enough for any impatience you betray, although not such as will occur to the Commandant. Of course, he will mistake your meaning and interpret it to please himself. That's what my plan depends on. Tomorrow in the Commandant's office there is to be a large consible

ference of



the high administrative officials, the


Of course





the kind

man to have turned these conferences into public specHe has had a gallery built that is always packed with spectators. I am compelled to take part in the conferences, but they make me sick with disgust. Now, whatever hapof


pens, you will certainly be invited to this conference; if you behave today as I suggest the invitation will become an urgent request. But if for some mysterious reason you're

not invited, you'll have to ask for an invitation; there's no doubt of your getting it then. So tomorrow you're sitting in the Commandant's box with the ladies. He keeps looking up to make sure you're there. After various trivial and ridiculous matters, brought in merely to impress the mostly harbor works, nothing but harbor works! audience our judicial procedure comes up for discussion too. If the Commandant doesn't introduce it, or not soon enough, I'll see that it's mentioned. I'll stand up and report that today's execution has taken place. Quite briefly, only a statement. Such a statement is not usual, but I shall make it. The Commandant thanks me, as always, with an amiable smile, and then he can't restrain himself, he seizes the excellent opportunity. Tt has just been reported,' he will say, or words to that effect, 'that an execution has taken place.



should like merely to add that this execution was witnessed by the famous explorer who has, as you all know, honored our colony so greatly by his visit to us. His presence at today's session of our conference also contributes to the importance of this occasion. Should we not now ask the famous explorer to give us his verdict on our traditional mode of execution and the procedure that leads up to it?' Of course there is loud applause, general agreement, I am more insistent than anyone. The Commandant bows to you and says: 'Then in the name of the assembled company, I put the question to you.' And now you advance to the front of the box. Lay your hands where everyone can see them, or the ladies will catch them and press your fingers. And then at last you can speak out. I don't know how I'm going to endure the tension of waiting for that moment. Don't put any restraint on yourself when you make your speech, publish the truth aloud, lean over the front of the box, shout, yes indeed, shout your verdict, your unshakable conviction, at the Commandant. Yet perhaps you wouldn't care to do that, it's not in keeping with your character, in your country perhaps people do these things differently, I

be quite as effective, don't even stand up, just say a few words, even in a whisper, so that only the officials beneath you will hear them, that will be quite enough, you don't even need to mention the lack of public support for the execution, the creaking wheel, the broken strap, the filthy gag of felt, no, I'll take all that upon me, and, believe me, if my indictment doesn't drive him out of the conference hall, it will force him to his knees to make the acknowledgment: Old Commandant, I humble myself before you. ^That is my plan; will you help me to carry it out? But of course you are willing, what is more, you must." And the officer seized the explorer by both arms and gazed, breathing heavily, into his face. He had shouted the last sentence so loudly that even the soldier and the condemned man were startled into attending; they had not understood a word but they stopped eating and looked over at the explorer, chewing their previous mouthfuls.

well, that's all right too, that will

In the Penal Colony



no doubt about what answer he must give; in his lifetime he had experienced too much to have any uncertainty here; he was fundamentally honorable and unafraid. And yet now, facing the soldier and the condemned man, he did hesitate, for as long as it took to draw one breath. At last, however, he said, as he had to: "No." The officer blinked several times but did not turn his eyes away. "Would you like me to explain?" asked the explorer. The officer nodded wordlessly. "I do the very beginning the exploref had

not approve of your procedure," said the explorer then, "even before you took me into your confidence of course I shall never in any circumstances betray your confidence I was already wondering whether it would be my duty \o intervene and whether my intervention would have the slightest chance of success. I realized to whom I ought to turn: to the Commandant, of course. You have made that fact even clearer, but without having strengthened my resolution; on the contrary, your sincere conviction has touched me, even though it cannot influence my judgment." The officer remained mute, turned to the machine, caught hold of a brass rod, and then, leaning back a little, gazed at the Designer as if to assure himself that all was in order.

The soldier and the condemned man seemed to have come to some understanding; the condemned man was making signs to the soldier, difficult though his movements were because of the tight straps; the soldier was bending down to him; the condemned man whispered something and the soldier


The explorer followed the officer and know yet what I mean to do. I shall tell what

"You don't Commandant



I think of the procedure, certainly, but not at a public conference, only in private; nor shall I stay here long enough to attend any conference; I am going away early tomorrow morning, or at least embarking on my ship." It did not look as if the officer had been listening. "So you did not find the procedure convincing," he said to himself and smiled, as an old man smiles at childish nonsense and yet pursues his own meditations behind the smile.



"Then the time has come," he

said at last,

and suddenly

explorer with bright eyes that held some challenge, some appeal for co-operation. "The time for what?" asked the explorer uneasily, but got no answer.


at the

are free," said the officer to the condemned man in The man did not believe it at first. "Yes,


the native tongue.

you are

set free," said the officer.

demned man's




For the


to real animation.

time the con-




only a caprice of the officer's, that might change again? Had the foreign explorer begged him off? What was it? One could read these questions on his face. But not for long. Whatever it might be, he wanted to be really free if he it

might, and he began to struggle so far as the Harrow permitted him. "You'll burst my straps," cried the officer, "lie still! We'll soon loosen them." And signing the soldier to help

him, he set about doing so. The condemned man laughed wordlessly to himself, now he turned his face left toward the officer, now right toward the soldier, nor did he forget the explorer.

"Draw him row


out," ordered the officer. Because of the

Harbe done with some care. The condemned had already torn himself a little in the back through




his impatience.

From now on, however, He went up to

tion to him.

the officer paid hardly any attenthe explorer, pulled out the small

leather wallet again, turned over the papers in

one he wanted and showed


to the explorer.

said. "I can't," said the explorer, "I told


make out

said the officer

these scripts."


found the


you before

"Try taking a close look

and came quite near





at it,"

to the explorer so that

they might read it together. But when even that proved useless, he outlined the script with his little finger, holding it high above the paper as if the surface dared not be sullied by touch, in order to help the explorer to follow the script in that way. The explorer did make an effort, meaning to please the officer in this respect at least, but he was quite unable to follow. Now the officer began to spell it, letter by

In the Penal Colony letter,

and then read out the words.

written there," he said, "surely

" 'be just!'

you can read



what is now." The is

explorer bent so close to the paper that the officer feared he might touch it and drew it farther away; the explorer made no remark, yet it was clear that he still could not decipher " 'be just!' is what is written there," said the officer once it. more. "Maybe," said the explorer, "I am prepared to believe you." "Well, then," said the officer, at least partly satisfied, and climbed up the ladder with the paper; very carefully he laid it inside the Designer and seemed to be changing the disposition of all the cogwheels; it was a troublesome piece of work and must have involved wheels that were extremely small, for sometimes the officer's head vanished altogether from sight inside the Designer, so precisely did he have to regulate the machinery. The explorer, down below, watched the labor uninterruptedly, his neck grew stiff and his eyes smarted from the glare of sunshine over the sky. The soldier and the condemned man were now busy together. The man's shirt and

which were already lying in the pit, were fished out by the point of the soldier's bayonet. The shirt was abominably dirty and its owner washed it in the bucket of water. When he put on the shirt and trousers both he and the soldier could not help guffawing, for the garments were of course slit up behind. Perhaps the condemned man felt it incumbent on him to amuse the soldier, he turned round and round in his slashed garments before the soldier, who squatted on the ground beating his knees with mirth. AH the same, they presently controlled their mirth out of respect for the gentlemen. When the officer had at length finished his task aloft, he surveyed the machinery in all its details once more, with a smile, but this time shut the lid of the Designer, which had stayed open till now, climbed down, looked into the pit and then at the condemned man, noting with satisfaction that the clothing had been taken out, then went over to wash his hands in the water bucket, perceived too late that it was disgustingly dirty, was unhappy because he could not wash his trousers,



hands, in the end thrust them into the sand this alternative then stood did not please him, but he had to put up with it upright and began to unbutton his uniform jacket. As he did this, the two ladies' handkerchiefs he had tucked under his collar fell into his hands. "Here are your handkerchiefs," he

and threw them to the condemned man. And to the explorer he said in explanation: "A gift from the ladies." In spite of the obvious haste with which he was discardsaid,

first his uniform jacket and then all his clothing, he handled each garment with loving care, he even ran his fingers caressingly over the silver lace on the jacket and shook a tassel into place. This loving care was certainly out of keeping with the fact that as soon as he had a garment off he flung it at once with a kind of unwilling jerk into the pit. The last thing left to him was his short sword with the sword belt. He drew it out of the scabbard, broke it, then gathered all together, the bits of the sword, the scabbard and the belt, and flung them so violently down that they


clattered into the pit.


he stood naked there. The explorer bit his lips and He knew very well what was going to happen,

said nothing.

but he had no right to obstruct the officer in anything. If which the officer cherished were possibly as a result of his own interreally so near its end vention, as to which he felt himself pledged then the officer was doing the right thing; in his place the explorer would not have acted otherwise. The soldier and the condemned man did not understand at first what was happening, at first they were not even looking on. The condemned man was gleeful at having got the handkerchiefs back, but he was not allowed to enjoy them for long, since the soldier snatched them with a sudden, unexpected grab. Now the condemned man in turn was trying to twitch them from under the belt where the soldier had tucked them, but the soldier was on his guard. So they were wrestling, half in jest. Only when the officer stood quite

the judicial procedure

naked was their attention caught. The condemned man especially seemed struck with the notion that some great change


In the Penal Colony

was impending. What had happened to him was now going to happen to the officer. Perhaps even to the very end. Apparently the foreign explorer had given the order for it. So this was revenge. Although he himself had not suffered to the end, he was to be revenged to the end. A broad, silent grin now appeared on his face and stayed there all the rest of the time.

The officer, however, had turned to the machine. It had been clear enough previously that he understood the machine well, but now it was almost staggering to see how he managed it and how it obeyed him. His hand had only to approach the Harrow for it to rise and sink several times till it was adjusted to the right position for receiving him; he touched only the edge of the Bed and already it was vibrating; the felt gag came to meet his mouth, one could see that the officer was really reluctant to take it but he shrank from it only a moment, soon he submitted and received it. Everything was ready, only the straps hung down at the sides, yet they were obviously unnecessary, the officer did not need to be fastened down. Then the condemned


noticed the loose straps, in his opinion the execution

was incomplete unless the straps were buckled, he gestured eagerly to the soldier and they ran together to strap the officer down. The latter had already stretched out one foot to push the lever that started the Designer; he saw the two men coming up; so he drew his foot back and let himself be buckled



and the

now he

could not reach the lever; neither

condemned man would be able to explorer was determined not to lift a finger.

the soldier nor the



was were fastened the maIt

not necessary; as soon as the straps chine began to work; the Bed vibrated, the needles flickered above the skin, the Harrow rose and fell. The explorer had been staring at it quite a while before he remembered that a wheel in the Designer should have been creaking; but everything was quiet, not even the slightest hum could be heard. Because it was working so silently the machine simply escaped one's attention. The explorer observed the soldier



and the condemned man. The


was the more animated

of the two, everything in the machine interested him,


he was bending down and now stretching up on tiptoe, his forefinger was extended all the time pointing out details to the soldier. This annoyed the explorer. He was resolved to stay till the end, but he could not bear the sight of these two. "Go back home," he said. The soldier would have been willing enough, but the condemned man took the order as a punishment. With clasped hands he implored to be allowed to stay, and when the explorer shook his head and would not relent, he even went down on his knees. The explorer saw that it was no use merely giving orders, he was on the point of going over and driving them away. At that moment he heard a noise above him in the Designer. He looked up. Was that cogwheel going to make trouble after all? But it was something quite different. Slowly the lid of the Designer rose up and then clicked wide open. The teeth of a cogwheel showed themselves and rose higher, soon the whole wheel was visible, it was as if some enormous force were squeezing the Designer so that there was no longer room for the wheel, the wheel moved up till it came to the very edge of the Designer, fell down, rolled along the sand a little on its rim and then lay flat. But a second wheel was already rising after it, followed by many others, large and small and indistinguishably minute, the same thing happened to all of them, at every moment one imagined the Designer must now really be empty, but another complex of numerous wheels was already rising into sight, falling down, trundling along the sand and lying flat. This phenomenon made the condemned man completely forget the explorer's command, the cogwheels fascinated him, he was always trying to catch one and at the same time urging the soldier to help, but always drew back his hand in alarm, for another wheel always came hopping along which, at least on its first advance, scared him off. The explorer, on the other hand, felt greatly troubled; the machine was obviously going to pieces; its silent work-

In the Penal Colony


ing was a delusion; he had a feeling that he must now stand by the officer, since the officer was no longer able to look after himself. But while the tumbling cogwheels absorbed

whole attention he had forgotten to keep an eye on tl>e machine; now that the last cogwheel had left the Designer, however, he bent over the Harrow and had a new and still more unpleasant surprise. The Harrow was not writing, it was only jabbing, and the bed was not turning the body over but only bringing it up quivering against the needles. The explorer wanted to do something, if possible, to baring the whole machine to a standstill, for this was no exquisite torture such as the officer desired, this was plain murder. He stretched out his hands. But at that moment the Harrow rose with the body spitted on it and moved to the side, as it usually did only when the twelfth hour had come. Blood was flowing in a hundred streams, not mingled with water, the water jets too had failed to function. And his

rest of the


the last action failed to

fulfill itself,


body did not

drop off the long needles, streaming with blood it went on hanging over the pit without falling into it. The Harrow tried to move back to its old position, but as if it had itself noticed that it had not yet got rid of its burden it stuck after all where it was, over the pit. "Come and help!" cried the explorer to the other two, and himself seized the officer's feet. He wanted to push against the feet while the others seized the head from the opposite side and so the officer might be slowly eased off the needles. But the other two could not make up their minds to come; the condemned man actually turned away; the explorer had to go over to them and force them into position at the officer's head. And here, almost against his will, he had to look at the face of the corpse. It was as it had been in life; no sign was visible of the promised redemption; what the others had found in the machine the officer had not found; the lips were firmly pressed together, the eyes were open, with the same expression as in life, the look was calm and convinced, through the forehead went the point of the great iron spike.



the explorer, with the soldier and the condemned man behind him, reached the first houses of the colony, the sol-


dier pointed to one of them and said: 'There is the teahouse." In the ground floor of the house was a deep, low, cavernous space, its walls and ceiling blackened with smoke. It was open to the road all along its length. Although this teahouse was very little different from the other houses of the colony, which were all very dilapidated, even up to the Commandant's palatial headquarters, it made on the explorer the impression of a historic tradition of some kind, and he felt the power of past days. He went near to it, fol-

lowed by his companions, right up betvs'een the empty tables which stood in the street before it, and breathed the cool, heavy air that came from the interior. "The old man's buried here," said the soldier, "the priest wouldn't let him lie in the churchyard. Nobody knew where to bury him for a while, but in the end they buried him here. The oflBcer never told you about that, for sure, because of course that's what he was most ashamed of. He even tried several times to dig the old man up by night, but he was always chased away." "Where is the grave?" asked the explorer, who found it impossible to believe the soldier. At once both of them, the soldier and the condemned man, ran before him pointing with outstretched hands in the direction where the grave should be. They led the explorer right up to the back wall, where guests were sitting at a few tables. They were apparently dock laborers, strong men with short, glistening, full black beards. None had a jacket, their shirts were torn, they were poor, humble creatures. As the explorer drew near, some of them got up, pressed close to the wall, and stared at him. "It's a foreigner," ran the whisper around him, "he wants to see the grave." They pushed one of the tables aside, and under it there was really a gravestone. It was a simple stone, low enough to be covered by a table. There was an inscription on it in very small letters, the explorer had to kneel down to read it. This was what it said: "Here rests the old Commandant. His adherents, who now

In the Penal Colony


must be nameless, have dug this grave and set up this stone. There is a prophecy that after a certain number of years the Commandant will rise again and lead his adherents from this house to recover the colony. Have faith and wait!" When the explorer had read this and risen to his feet he saw all the bystanders around him smiling, as if they too had read the inscription, had found it ridiculous and were expecting him to agree with them. The explorer ignored this, distributed a few coins among them, waiting till the table was pushed over the grave again, quitted the teahouse and

made for the harbor. The soldier and the condemned man had found some acquaintances in the teahouse, who detained them. But they must have soon shaken them off, for the explorer was only halfway down the long flight of steps leading to the boats when they came rushing after him. Probably they wanted to force him at the last minute to take them with him. While he was bargaining below with a ferryman to row him to the steamer, the two of them came headlong down the steps, in silence, for they did not dare to shout. But by the time they reached the foot of the steps the explorer was already in the boat, and the ferryman was just casting off from the shore. They could have jumped into the boat, but the explorer lifted a heavy knotted rope from the floor boards, threatened them with the leap.


and so kept them from attempting

ROBERT WALSER (1878-1956) Robert Walser was bom in Biel, Switzerland, in 1878, to a poor family. He left school when he was fourteen, and worked thereafter intermittently as a clerk in various businesses and banks. He lived in Zurich for seven years until 1904, and in Berlin from 1906 to 1913, when he returned to Biel. In 1927 during a period of great restlessness, there were signs of psychosis, and in 1929 he voluntarily entered a mental hospital. He died in 1956. Walser published three novels (Geschwister Tanner, 1907; Der Gehülfe, 1908; Jakob von Gunten, 1909), a book of poems, and nine books of short prose pieces, as well as a long story called

Der Spaziergang,

tion of four short dramas. Walser



and a


without doubt one

of the important German-language writers of this century.

He was

deed, the

preciation of difficult



during his lifetime. In-

stylistic peculiarities of his its




the ap-

(quirkish, parodic, clownish)

except to the informed.


translator of


Christopher Middleton, has adhered to the peculiarities of the original as far as English will

Village Tale,"



Village Tale

desk to play my on the potato famine which long ago struck a village on a hill that stood about two hundred meters high. Painfully I wrest from my wits a tale that tells of nothing of more account than a country girl. The longer she labored the less she was able I sit

down somewhat

piano, that


do for


reluctantly at


to say, to begin to discourse


were twinkling in the sky. The parson of the where what is here told occurred was out of doors elucidating for his young proteges the planetary system. A writer was working in a lamplit room at his rapidly waxing work when, vexed by visions, the girl rose up from her bed intending to rush into the pond, which she did with




almost laughable alacrity. When she was found the next morning in a condition which made it plain to all that she had ceased to live, the question rose among these countryfolk: should she be buried or not. Not a soul was ready to lay a hand on the finished article that lay quite motionless there. Tribal displeasure asserted itself.

The bailiff approached the group, which intrigued him primarily from the viewpoint of painting, for in his leisurehours he would paint, government burdening him with no excessive duties. He urged the country people forthwith to be sensible, but his expostulations had no success; at no price would they inter the girl, as if they believed it might harm them to do so. The sheriff strode into his office with its three large windows through which streamed the most dazzling light, and



he wrote a report on the incident which he dispatched to the city authorities.

But what feehngs assail me when I consider the famine whose waves rose higher and higher! The populace grew


they longed for food! a laborer of superlative efficiency took his gun from its nail and shot, with authentic popular wrath, his rival who was crossing the street below, yodeling



The very same day

how happy his days were. In fact the rival was just returning from a successful encounter with the young lady who seemed to be a somewhat indecisive person, for ogling both she offered prospects to both of heaven. Never in all my years as a writer have I written a tale in which a person, struck by a bullet, falls down. This is the first time in my work that a person has croaked. Understandably they lifted him up and carried him into the next best cottage. Houses, in the present comfortable sense of the word, did not at that time exist in the country; there were only indigent dwellings, whose roofs of straw reached almost to the ground, as one may still observe, at one's leisure, in a few surviving examples. When the young lady, a country belle with swaying hips and a taut, tall body, heard what had occurred on her account, she simply stood there, bolt upright, pondering deeply perhaps her peculiar nature. Her mother besought her to speak, but all in vain; it seemed she had been changed into a statue. stork flew through the azure air high over the village drama, bearing in its beak a baby. Wafted by a slight wind the leaves whispered. Like an etching it all looked, anything

in all innocence, clear proof of


but natural.



Gottfried Benn,

who was

and venereal first book of writing was rooted in the movea specialist in skin

diseases practicing in Berlin, published his

poems in 1912. Thus his ment of the expressionists; colleagues of his own generation were Georg Trakl and Georg Heym— both of them dead years before Benn. I

think that the affinity with Heym's story



evident in

horror of




"The Conquest" which

"The Au-

confronts the

with a kind of willed lyricism of

in Benn's

work a search


for a stoical secular

philosophy, a kind of Spartan estheticism, which one

Jünger and Stefan George. As with them, his philosophy inclined him to sympathize with the

finds also in Ernst

Right in contempt


but whereas George had nothing but and Ernst Jünger always thought of

for Hitler,

himself as above


an army man, Benn for a time sup-

ported the Nazis. His writing, however, gandist; but


despair which


never propa-

does suffer from the inner emptiness and is

often present in the

support desperate social panaceas.


of poets


The Conquest Out of long months of

helplessness and exile after exile, I

Rönne thought, and his eyes held the white glare of the road, touched it, compared it with will possess this country,

the low cloud strata and the brightness of a house wall. And then for joy he was one with the evening, with the light's contoured elongation, with this cool finish of a day

was full of spring. The conquest is over, he said; They still wear their helplessness in that

a firm


foothold won.


their hats, in

ribbons, red and yellow, in small flags on their jackets; but here of all places there will be no exile. No, for everything that happens here happens for the


first time. foreign beings are filled with hate and approach hesitantly, crossing an abyss. Here I must proceed step by step.




if anywhere, success must come. His strides lengthened. Then the town was blossoming around him. It came in waves toward him, rose on the hills, threw bridges over islands; its pinnacles rustled. Over squares that had lain for centuries untrodden, all roads plunged into a valley; the town was in descent, it sank


to the plain, its walls a vine slope of vanishing stone. stopped in a square, sank against a wall, shut his eyes, felt with his hands through the air as through water, and implored: Sweet town, let yourself be taken! Make me feel at home! Let me move in your society! You grow neither outward nor upward; such things weary. You are so warm; your church utters a prayer into the evening; your stones are white; your sky blue. You wander so, on the edge of the distance; you will relent, already you surround me.



The Conquest

He He soared over the boulevards, a flowing to and fro. He went on wings; he carried women in the folds of his clothes like dust; dethroned; what else then but tiny cavities and a tuft of earth in the armpit. rose flowed to and fro as a blond woman breathed on it. It came redolent together with her heart's blood to the nostrils of god knows what passing man. He went after her into a cafe. He sat down and breathed deeply: yes, here there is companionship. He looked round. With tenderness, a man immersed his tenderness in a girl; she thought: it's God's gift, and smoothed her clothes. With the help of two adult hands, an idiot boy's lower jaw mastered a cup; his parents sat by with protestations. On all tables man stood utensils, some for hunger, some for thirst. made an offer; trust was written all over his face, the features made grave by grave wife and child. Another soberly appraised a conversation. Another chewed at a landscape that adorned the wall. Yes, here there is joy, he said to himself and puffed out his nostrils as if plunging into thought deep expansive joy. Let me move in your society He could raise his eyes as if to meet familiars. They wandered, like the eyes of the man who chewed the landscape. It could no longer be denied that the light on the street was darkening and that bending low a girl was singing. Lust felt steadied.




and the women, and the waiter took on a fresh significance. He felt himself grow and become tranquil because he was so coolly surrounded by things that were simply happening. Now he took heart; he unburdened himself on the chairs, and behold they stood there. He distributed around the velvet of the columns what he carried behind his brow. The marble slabs emerged now full grown, the door-handles wholly autonomous. Inwardly he unbuttoned: on the floorboards, on the windowsills he piled it all up, out of every cavity and fold, load upon load. Now even a picture was hanging on the wall: a cow in a meadow. A cow in a meadow, he thought; a round brown cow, sky and field. It's not true what a boundless joy this shuttled clear as day between the soldiers



on four legs, on one, two, three, four legs, it's incontestable; she stands on four legs in a meadow of grass and looks at three sheep, one, two, three sheep Oh, numbers, how I love numbers, they're so hard, they're simply inviolable, they stare one ii; picture brings! There she stands now,

the face with their inviolability, completely unambiguous they are, it would be ridiculous to try to quarrel with them; if

ever I'm miserable again, I'll always count numbers to He laughed happily and walked out. Sky round his head, he blossomed through the night's


soft playing. His

were the

little streets

for his walks;

miliated, he heard his footsteps' echoing. exfoliation, he

He had


a sense of

mounted upward; he was a pore with greenit; he felt himself imbedded in the

ness growing out of

swinging arms of a man who hurried across the street, horned with an aim. Softly he ground down and overpowered the shopwindows by pondering those objects the shop contained, loitered with quizzical eye, as if he meant to buy something, walked on dissatisfied by what he had been offered. On he went, emulating the walk and look of other men, quite took to one, composed his features, changing their expression from time to time as he recalled some event, glad or serious, in the course of the day. He drank in each detail, of a large, teeming square. Suddenly he stopped, his hand raised in horror to his brow and shook his head; no, that's too annoying! Now he had forgotten something; something he had been supposed to do had slipped his mind; there had been an omission which duty obliged him to make good at once, despite all other arrangements for the evening. There was no point now in walking further. The fact of return had to be looked in the eye; what he knew to be right had now to be done. Ruffled, he turned; the conjectures of those who stared after him warmed and goaded him. Perhaps in some house someone was talking about him, perhaps mocking him a little, perhaps making a malicious remark: a man who had •

— The Conquest


—perhaps he would be too appointment now; perhaps he would not be allowed he had go back again — probably probably business —one — knows how one — — time —one has make —but never sursum corda—the you down— up your sky above — forgotten something

late for his


after the overture;










yes, life's like that

certain sacrifices








learns in

let it


the link in the chain.


He turned into a barbershop and sat down for a shave. A man was having his back hair powdered. Why, Rönne wondered; I don't have mine powdered. He considered. He was blond.


because the white principle and the blond It could have to do

principle are in this case identical.

with the refraction of light, the coefficient of refraction as it were. That's it, coefficient of refraction, good that, and he toyed with the thought. All one has to be able to do is to connect a thing with everything one sees, bring it into line with prior experiences and obtain a universal view of it; that's the way reason works, now that I come to think of it. Strong and ready now, he stretched out in the barber's chair. The young assistant frisked around, dabbed here and there,

powdered and stropped. out on the street again.


woman held out a flat basket containing bunches of violets, blue as bits of night, with bundles of orchids, soft congruencies of sky-blue and orange. The orchid he laughed complacently bloom of hot Africa, darling of collectors, object of display in so many shows at home and abroad. Oh, yes, I know all about it; I'm not a bad judge there; I could even hold my own with He was

an expert. Then he caught sight of the inscription on a building; it

read: Slaughterhouse.


he had to discourse in detail on slaughterhouses.

The Dresden seventies

slaughterhouse, for instance, built in the early

by the architect Köhler, with the most up-to-date



hygienic and sanitary installations. The Dane Johannsen's discovery had had revolutionary effects here. It was on a June day during the memorable year of the Finnish expedition. That morning he walked through the öestergaade and saw two cows approaching, old Jutland stock he

spoke with such a wealth of factual knowledge. This was how his discourse went; answer parried question, clarified numerous points, removed errors, served the cause and helped the general public, which thanked him. Knives and instruments, handholds and cognizance of spatial requirements came to him. Now he was a huntsman, a rugged terse figure of a man. He had no qualms about explaining, through green shooting-jacket and horn buttons, the facts of his craft to any passer-by. He was weatherbeaten and tanned and had a noggin or two for breakfast, yes, gentlemen, and another for the road. He was telling the assembled company about the roebuck with the full six antlers, how he had raised his Drilling gun to his cheek and the bead gleamed silver in the rearsight. He examined and pronounced expert judgment on a bowie and recalled the inadequacies he had found in the model owned by a gamekeeper in the neighborhood; circumspectly he nodded, shook his head and spoke deep-chested into the sharp early morning air. In short he was the man to whom all respect was due, trusted without reserve in his special field, racy as they come, his footstep firm and straight in his ways. Now his child was dangerously ill on a spring morning, the poor young thing! He wept with his wife; but his breadwinner's stumpy thumb stroked his beard, to master his grief. Humbly he stood in the presence of the Incomprehensible; even he could not unravel all the mysteries; the myth had erupted into his life, things good and things

and blood. But gradually the night had deepened, and it shut him in. Now in reality the forest bellied around him. He sank down on moss under stars and quiet sounds. Blue stood between trees, beast and village. In its bed the source. In their silver house the hills. And in the thrill of his skin, the evil, tears

The Conquest


leaping of his limbs, drink of his eyes, in his ear's ecstasy: himself, as one with the blossoms, himself, as the beasts' bedfellow, under one sky, under one night. .



Half frenzied, half summoned by sounds of music, he descended the stairs into the great room. There one woman was dancing behind veils, with covered breasts, and with coral gums through which she laughed. Two stroked with fluttering hands their bodies and drove fragrance and desire toward the men. One thrust body and breasts forward, having unveiled. Two who wanted to make love eased off their rings, which had uncut stones.

But he

hands on

his thighs, felt compelled to ground, felt the throbbing, the confluence and fresh growth, and suddenly she stood there pregnant: broad heavy flesh, juices dripping from breast and body; a narrow, destitute skull under moist leafage, over a landscape of blood, over bellyings of animal tissue, evoked felt


level himself to the

by an undoubting touch.

Then he leaped

at a

woman, forced her open,

bit to the

bone that seemed his, drew screams which sounded as his own, and swooned over a thigh, strangeness storming all around him. Then morning rushed forward, red and victorious. Rönne walked through the waves of the dawn, through the sea that broke over the clouds.

He saw the night t>ehind him, pure and clear; now he took the path to the palm gardens on the edge of the town. The light increased, the day rose, always the same everlasting day, always the light that is never lost. The last streets: brats gushed from cellars; a monk minced past, the triumph of substance; women, trailing an odor of nest and sex, took their affirming meditations to their neighbors. To them they all belonged: the huntsman and the cripple, the man who forgot and the dancer all believed secretly or openly in the great brains round which hovered the gods.



solitary; blue sky, dumb night. Overhead the white cloud: soft-cowled edges, wandering evanescence. He passed his hand over his brow: In the evening, when I set out, it seemed I was still worth the pain of it all. Now I want to lie down among ferns, squint at tree-trunks and see flatness everywhere. The doors melted; the greenhouses quivered; against a dome of crystal there broke a river of the light that is never lost. Then he went in. I meant to conquer a town, and now a palm leaf brushes casually over me. He wallowed in the moss: against this bole, fed by water, my brow, a hand's breadth; there's the beginning of

He, the




it all.

Soon a bell rang. The gardeners were going to work; then he too took a can and sprinkled water over the ferns that had stepped out of a sun where much dissolved in vapor.


Use Aichinger (1921-


Heinrich Boll (1914-

Heinz Ruber (1922-

) )

Hans Erich Nossack (1901Gerd Gaiser (1908) Wolfgang Hildesheimer (1916-



Since the war, perhaps the most striking development in


been the revival of the short

literature has


work which will make use of recent mass media. For a good many of these stories have been broadcast— both in German and Possibly this


the beginning of a search for

in translation. All these writers experiment in writing

features for radio.

Hans Erich Nossack was

Though he had




written some







prior to

nothing was published until 1947, when a book was followed by a

of poems, Gedichte, appeared. This

regular sec^uence of prose writings: Nekyia (1947), Inter-

view mit

dem Tode

lesque tragi-comedy,



Spirale (a novel, 1956), 1958).



of his

themes to





and Der Jüngere Brüder (a novel, published writings are somewhat

with a strong burlesque streak. His prose



concentration on such contemporary

as nihilism,

anguish and dread (which endeared

vivacious for all



Die Hauptprobe



who introduced Nossack




dreamer and yet a cynic, he has a sharp eye for social and intellectual questions in modern west Germany, and


STEPHEN SPENDER shares with writers like Heinrich Boll the current Ger-


novelist's task of ridding



fiction of rhetoric.

and Use Aichinger already have international reputations. All three of them have been translated into English. Gaiser, one of whose stories Gaiser, Heinrich Boll

appeared in the special German number of the Atlantic 1957), has made his name with studies of soldiers returning home from war in a state of bitter

Monthly (March, disillusion.


spiritual chaos



healing background





the enduring physical landscape. In the

of Heinrich Boll one sees the

same situation of the

return from the wars treated more metaphysically, and the affirmation of his faith in the spiritual powers of

recovery of the individual struggling against catastrophic events.


deals with reality but in an allegoric way. His

manner perhaps owes something to that greatest explorer of modern harsh reality, Franz Kafka. Heinz Huber is closer to reportage than these other

whom seem to hover between reporting and myth-making. Use Aichinger, who is married to the poet Günther Eich, is the most obviously influenced by Kafka. "The Bound Man," one of her most famous stories, belongs to his world, and yet has her own per-

writers, all of

sonal lyricism.

war and post-war world of violent events than

All these recent writers belong to the

period; that



to a

to a place as consistent and settled as that called "Germany." Boll and Gaiser are of the world of the Eastern Front, Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne in ruins. Wolfgang Hildesheimer writes out of another aspect of the German fate. Born in Hamburg in 1916, he went to Palestine in 1933 and from there to England in 1937 where he designed stage sets and studied art. In 1939 he was back in Palestine editing a weekly magazine of art criticism and poetry. In 1945 he returned to Europe as a translator at the Nuremberg War Crimes trials. He remained in Nuremberg till 1949 then went to live on the Stamberger See

The Living Authors


near Munich, having decided to throw up his career as a painter and become a writer.

Together, these younger writers



and metaphysical


reflect the


experience of the split between a terrible reality




which its


characteristic of the Ger-



The Bound Man Sunlight on his face woke him, but made him shut iiis eyes again; it streamed unhindered down the slope, collected itself into rivulets, attracted swarms of flies, which flew low over his forehead, circled, sought to land, and were over-

taken by fresh swarms. When he tried to whisk them away, he discovered that he was bound. A thin rope cut into his arms. He dropped them, opened his eyes again, and looked down at himself. His legs were tied all the way up to his thighs; a single length of rope was tied round his ankles,

up his legs, and encircled his hips, his chest and his arms. He could not see where it was knotted. He showed no sign of fear or hurry, though he thought he was unable to move, until he discovered that the rope allowed his legs some free play and that round his body it was almost loose. His arms were tied to each other but not to his body, and had some free play too. This made him smile, and it occurred to him that perhaps children had been playing a practical joke on him.



tried to feel for his knife,


but again the rope cut

more cautiously this was empty. Not only his knife, but the little money that he had on him, as well as his coat, were missing. His shoes had been pulled from his feet and

softly into his flesh.

tried again,

time, but his pocket

When he moistened his lips he tasted blood, which had flowed from his temples down his cheeks, his chin, his neck, and under his shirt. His eyes were painful; if he kept them open for long he saw reddish stripes in taken too.

the sky.


decided to stand up.

He drew


knees up as far as

The Bound



he could, rested his hands on the fresh grass and jerked himself to his feet. An elder-branch stroked his cheek, the sun dazzled him, and the rope cut into his flesh. He collapsed to the ground again, half out of his mind with pain, and then tried again. He went on trying until the blood started flowing from his hidden weals. Then he lay still again for a long while and let the sun and the flies do what

they liked. When he awoke for the second time the elder-bush had cast its shadow over him, and the coolness stored in it was pouring from between its branches. He must have been hit on the head. Then they must have laid him down carefully, just as a mother lays her baby behind a bush when she goes to work in the fields. His chances all lay in the amount of free play allowed

him by tested tried

the rope.

He dug


elbows into the ground and

As soon as the rope tautened he stopped, and again more cautiously. If he had been able to reach it.

the branch over his head he could have used

himself to his


head back on the

but he could not reach grass, rolled over,



to drag


laid his

and struggled to his toes, and then man-

He tested the ground with his aged to stand up almost without effort. A few paces away lay the path across the plateau, and in the grass were wild pinks and thistles in bloom. He tried to lift his foot to avoid trampling on them, but the rope round his ankles prevented him. He looked down at himknees.


The rope was knotted

at his ankles,


and ran round


and tried to loosen it, but, loose though it seemed to be, he could not make it any looser. To avoid treading on the thistles with his bare feet he hopped over them like a bird. legs


a kind of playful

The cracking

of a twig


made him

carefully bent


People in

this dis-

were very prone to laughter. He was alarmed by the thought that he was in no position to defend himself. He hopped on until he reached the path. Bright fields stretched far below. He could see no sign of the nearest village, and trict



if he could move no faster than he reached it.








tried walking,

foot before another

and discovered that he could put one if



each foot a definite distance

from the ground and then put it down again before the rope tautened. In the same way he could actually swing his arms a little. After the


step he

and made the dust




right across the path,


expected this to be a sign for the long-suppressed laughter to break out, but all remained quiet. He was alone. As soon as the dust had settled he got up and went on. He looked down and watched the rope slacken, grow taut, and then slacken again. When the first glow-worms appeared he managed to look up. He felt in control of himself again, and his impatience fly.

to reach the nearest village faded.

Hunger made him

light-headed, and he

seemed to be

going so fast that not even a motor-cycle could have overtaken him; alternatively he felt as if he were standing still and that the earth was rushing past him, like a river flowing past a man swimming against the stream. The stream carried branches which had been bent southward by the north wind, stunted young trees, and patches of grass with

ended by submerging the only the sky and the man above water-level. The moon had risen, and illuminated the bare, curved summit of the plateau, the path, which was overgrown with young grass, the bound man making his way along it with quick, measured steps, and two hares, which ran across the hill just in front of him and vanished down the slope. Though the nights were still

bright, long-stalked flowers.

bushes and the young


trees, leaving

cool at this time of the year, before midnight the bound man lay down at the edge of the escarpment and went to sleep.

In the light of morning the animal-tamer who was camping with his circus in the field outside the village saw the bound man coming down the path, gazing thoughtfully at

The Bound



The bound man stopped and bent down. He held out one arm to help keep his balance and with the other picked up an empty wine-bottle. Then he straightened himself and stood erect again. He moved slowly, to avoid being cut by the rope, but to the circus proprietor what he did suggested the voluntary limitation of an enormous the ground.

swiftness of movement. He was enchanted by its extraordinary gracefulness, and while the bound man looked about for a stone on which to break the bottle, so that he could use the splintered neck to cut the rope, the animal-tamer walked across the field and approached him. The first leaps of a young panther had never filled him with such delight.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the bound man!" His very first let loose a storm of applause, which out of sheer excitement caused the blood to rush to the cheeks of the animal-tamer standing at the edge of the arena. The bound man rose to his feet. His surprise whenever he did this was like that of a four-footed animal which has managed to stand on its hind-legs. He knelt, stood up, jumped, and turned cart-wheels. The spectators found it as astonishing as if they had seen a bird which voluntarily remained earthbound, and confined itself to hopping. The bound man became an enormous draw. His absurd steps and little jumps, his elementary exercises in movement, made the rope-dancer superfluous. His fame grew from village to village, but the motions he went through were few and always the same; they were really quite ordinary motions, which he had continually to practice in the daytime in the half-dark tent in order to retain his shackled freedom. In that he remained entirely within the limits set by his rope he was free of it, it did not confine him, but gave him wings and endowed his leaps and jumps with purpose; just as the flights of birds of passage have purpose when they take wing in the warmth of summer and hesitantly make small circles in the sky.




All the children of the neighborhood started playing the of "bound man." They formed rival gangs, and one


day the circus people found a little girl lying bound in a cord tied round her neck so that she could hardly breathe. They released her, and at the end of the performance that night the bound man made a speech. He ditch, with a

announced in such a

was no sense in being tied up you could not jump. After that he was

briefly that there



regarded as a comedian. Grass and sunlight, tent-pegs driven into the ground and then pulled up again, and on to the next village. "Ladies and gentlemen, the bound man!" The summer mounted toward its climax. It bent its face deeper over the fish-ponds in the hollows, taking delight in its dark reflection, skimmed the surface of the rivers, and



the plain into



could walk went to see the bound man. Many wanted a close-up view of how he was bound. So the circus proprietor announced after each performance that anyone who wanted to satisfy himself that the knots were real and the rope not made of rubber was at liberty to do so. The bound man generally waited for the crowd in the area outside the tent. He laughed or remained serious, and held out his arms for inspection. Many took the opportunity to look him in the face, others gravely tested the rope, tried the knots on his ankles, and wanted to know exactly how the lengths compare^ with the length of his limbs. They asked him how he had come to be tied up like that, and he answered patiently, always saying the same thing. Yes, he had been tied up, he said, and when he awoke he found that he had been robbed as well. Those who had done it must have been pressed for time, because they had tied him up somewhat too loosely for someone who was not supposed to be able to move and somewhat too tightly for someone who was expected to be able to move. But he did move, people pointed out. Yes, he replied, what else could he do? Before he went to bed he always sat for a time in front was. Everyone

The Bound Man


of the



make up made up


the circus proprietor asked

a better story he always

that one,

and blushed.


him why he

answered that he


preferred stay-

ing in the shade.

The was

between him and the other performers when the show was over he did not take off his The result was that every movement that he made difference



was worth



and the


used to hang about the

him get up from in front of the fire and roll himself in his blanket. Sometimes the sky was beginning to lighten when he saw their shadows disappear. The circus proprietor often remarked that there was no for hours, just for the sake of seeing

why he

should not be untied after the evening perup again next day. He pointed out that the rope-dancers, for instance, did not stay on their rope overnight. But no one took the idea of untying him serireason

formance and



For the bound man's fame rested on the fact that he was always bound, that whenever he washed himself he had to wash his clothes too and vice versa, and that his only way of doing so was to jump in the river just as he was every morning when the sun came out, and that he had to be careful not to go too far out for fear of being carried away

by the stream.


proprietor was well aware that what in the last rebound man from the jealousy of the other performers was his helplessness; he deliberately left them the pleasure of watching him groping painfully from stone sort protected the


stone on the river

clothes clinging to him.

bank every morning with




the proprietor's wife pointed

out that even the best clothes would not stand up indefinitely to such treatment (and the bound man's clothes were by no means of the best), he replied curtly that it was not going to last forever. That was his answer to all objecit was for the summer season only. But when he tions said this he was not being serious; he was talking like a



gambler who has no intention of giving up his vice. In reality he would have been prepared cheerfully to sacrifice his lions and his rope-dancers for the bound man. He proved this on the night when the rope-dancers jumped over the fire. Afterward he was convinced that they did it, not because it was midsummer's day, but because of the bound man, who as usual was lying and watching them with that peculiar smile that might have been real or might have been only the effect of the glow on his face. In any case no one knew anything about him because he never talked about anything that had happened to him before he emerged from the wood that day. But that evening two of the performers suddenly picked him up by the arms and legs, carried him to the edge of the fire and started playfully swinging him to and fro, while two others held out their arms to catch him on the other side. In the end they threw him, but too short. The two men on the other side drew back they explained

afterward that they did so the better to take the shock. The result was that the bound man landed at the very edge of the flames and would have been burned if the circus proprietor had not seized his arms and quickly dragged him

away to save the rope which was starting to get singed. He was certain that the object had been to burn the rope. He sacked the four men on the spot. A few nights later the proprietor's wife was awakened by the sound of footsteps on the grass, and went outside just in time to prevent the clown from playing his last practical joke. He was carrying a pair of scissors. When he was asked for an explanation he insisted that he had had no intention of taking the bound man's life, but only wanted to cut his rope because he felt sorry for him.

He was

sacked too. These antics amused the bound man because he could have freed himself if he had wanted to whenever he liked, but perhaps he wanted to learn a few new jumps first. The children's rhyme: "We travel with the circus, we travel

The Bound



with the circus" sometimes occurred to him while he lay awake at night. He could hear the voices of spectators on

bank who had been driven too far downstream on the way home. He could see the river gleaming in the moonlight, and the young shoots growing out of the thick tops of the willow trees, and did not think about the opposite

autumn yet. The circus proprietor dreaded the danger that sleep involved for the bound man. Attempts were continually made to release him while he slept. The chief culprits were sacked rope-dancers, or children who were bribed for the purpose. But measures could be taken to safeguard against these. A much bigger danger was that which he represented to himself. In his dreams he forgot his rope, and was surprised by it when he woke in the darkness of morning. He would angrily try to get up, but lose his balance and fall back again. The previous evening's applause was forgotten, sleep was still too near, his head and neck too free. He was his neck was the only just the opposite of a hanged man

him that was free. You had to make sure that at such moments no knife was within his reach. In the early hours of the morning the circus proprietor sometimes sent his wife to see whether the bound man was all right. If he was asleep she would bend over him and feel the rope. It had grown hard from dirt and damp. She would test the amount of free play it allowed him, and touch his tender wrists and ankles. The most varied rumors circulated about the bound man. Some said he had tied himself up and invented the story of having been robbed, and toward the end of the summer that was the general opinion. Others maintained that he had been tied up at his own request, perhaps in league with the circus proprietor. The hesitant way in which he told his story, his habit of breaking off when the talk got round to the attack on him, contributed greatly to these rumors. Those who still believed in the robberywith-violence story were laughed at. Nobody knew what part of



had in keeping the bound had had enough and wanted for too much of the summer had passed.

difficulties the circus


man, and how often he to clear off,

said he

Later, however, he stopped talking about clearing




food by the river and asked him how long he proposed to remain with them, he did not answer. She thought he had got used, not to being tied up, but to remembering every moment that he was tied up the only thing that anyone in his position could get used to. She asked him whether he did not think it ridiculous to be tied up all the time, but he answered clowns, freaks, that he did not. Such a variety of people and comics, to say nothing of elephants and tigers traveled with circuses that he did not see why a bound man should not travel with a circus too. He told her about the movements he was practicing, the new ones he had discovered, and about a new trick that had occurred to him while he was whisking flies from the animals' eyes. He described to her how he always anticipated the effect of the rope and always restrained his movements in such a way as to prevent it from ever tautening; and she knew that there were days when he was hardly aware of the rope, when he jumped down from the wagon and slapped the flanks of the horses in the morning as if he were moving in a dream. She watched him vault over the bars almost without touching them, and saw the sun on his face, and he told her that sometimes he felt as if he were not tied up at all. She answered that if he were prepared to be untied, there would never be any need for him to feel tied up. He agreed that he could be untied whenever he felt like it. The woman ended by not knowing whether she was more concerned with the man or with the rope that tied him. She told him that he could go on traveling with the circus without his rope, but she did not believe it. For what would be the point of his antics without his rope, and what would he amount to without it? Without his rope he would leave them, and the happy days would be over. She would no longer be able to sit beside him on the stones the proprietor's wife brought


The Bound



without arousing suspicion, and she knew that his continued presence, and her conversations with him, of which the rope was the only subject, depended on it. Whenever she agreed that the rope had its advantages, he would start talking about how troublesome it was, and whenever he started talking about its advantages, she would urge him to get rid of it. All this seemed as endless as the

by the




At other times she was worried at the thought that she was herself hastening the end by her talk. Sometimes she would get up in the middle of the night and run across the grass to where he slept. She wanted to shake him, wake him up and ask him to keep the rope. But then she would see him lying there; he had thrown off his blanket, and there he lay like a corpse, with his legs outstretched and arms close together, with the rope tied round them. His had suffered from the heat and the water, but the rope had grown no thinner. She felt that he would go on traveling with the circus until the flesh fell from him and exposed the joints. Next morning she would plead with



him more ardently than ever to get rid of his rope. The increasing coolness of the weather gave her hope. Autumn was coming, and he would not be able to go on jumping into the river with his clothes on much longer. But the thought of losing his rope, about which he had felt indifferent eariier in the season,


depressed him.

The songs of the harvesters filled him with foreboding. "Summer has gone, summer has gone." But he realized that soon he would have to change his clothes, and he was certain that when he had been untied it would be impossible to tie him up again in exactly the same way. About this

time the proprietor started talking about traveling south

that year.

The heat changed without transition into quiet, dry cold, fire was kept going all day long. When the bound man jumped down from the wagon he felt the coldness of the grass under his feet. The stalks were bent with ripeness. The horses dreamed on their feet and the wild animals, and the



crouching to leap even in their sleep, seemed to be collecting gloom under their skins which would break out later. On one of these days a young wolf escaped. The circus proprietor kept quiet about it, to avoid spreading alarm, but the wolf soon started raiding cattle in the neighborhood. People at first believed that the wolf had been driven to these parts by the prospect of a severe winter, but the circus soon became suspect. The proprietor could not conceal the loss of the animal from his own employees, so the truth was bound to come out before long. The circus people offered the burgomasters of the neighboring villages their aid in tracking down the beast, but all their efforts were in vain. Eventually the circus was openly blamed for the damage and the danger, and spectators stayed away. The bound man went on performing before half-empty seats without losing anything of his amazing freedom of movement. During the day he wandered among the surrounding hills under the thin-beaten silver of the autumn sky, and, whenever he could, lay down where the sun shone longest. Soon he found a place which the twilight reached last of all, and when at last it reached him he got up most unwillingly from the withered grass. In coming down the hill he had to pass through a little wood on its southern slope, and one evening he saw the gleam of two little green lights. He knew that they came from no church window, and was not for a moment under any illusion about what they were. He stopped. The animal came toward him through the thinning foliage. He could make out its shape, the slant of its neck, its tail which swept the ground, and its receding head. If he had not been bound, perhaps he would have tried to run away, but as it was he did not even feel fear. He stood calmly with dangling arms and looked down at the wolf's bristling coat under which the muscles played like his own underneath the rope. He thought the evening wind was still between him and the wolf when the beast sprang. The man took care to obey his rope. Moving with the deliberate care that he had so often

The Bound he seized the wolf by the



Tenderness for a fellow-creature arose in him, tenderness for the upright being concealed in the four-footed. In a movement that resembled the drive of a great bird (he felt a sudden awareness that flying would be possible only if one were tied up in a special way) he flung himself at the animal and brought it to the ground. He felt a slight elation at having lost the fatal advantage of free limbs which causes men to be worsted. The freedom he enjoyed in this struggle was having to adapt every movement of his limbs to the rope that tied him put to the



the freedom of panthers, wolves, and the wild flowers sway in the evening breeze. He ended up lying obliquely down the slope, clasping the animal's hind-legs that





bare feet and


head between

his hands.

the gentleness of the faded foliage stroking the backs of his hands, and he felt his own grip almost effortfelt

reaching its maximum, and he no way hampered by the rope.





how he was

As he left the wood light rain began to fall and obscured the setting sun. He stopped for a while under the trees at the edge of the wood. Beyond the camp and the river he saw the fields where the cattle grazed, and the places where they crossed. Perhaps he would

travel south with

the circus after all. He laughed softly. It was against all reason. Even if he continued to put up with the sores that

covered his joints and opened and bled when he certain movements, his clothes would not stand up

made much

longer to the friction of the rope. The circus proprietor's wife tried to persuade her husband to announce the death of the wolf without mentioning that it had been killed by the bound man. She said that even at the time of his greatest popularity people would have refused to believe him capable of it, and in their present angry mood, with the nights getting cooler, they would be more incredulous than ever. The wolf had attacked a group of children at play that day, and nobody



would believe that it had really been killed; for the circus proprietor had many wolves, and it was easy enough for him to hang a skin on the rail and allow free entry. But he was not to be dissuaded. He thought that the announcement of the bound man's act would revive the triumphs of the summer. That evening the bound man's movements were uncertain. He stumbled in one of his jumps, and fell. Before he managed to get up he heard some low whistles and catcalls, rather like birds callmg at dawn. He tried to get up too quickly, as he had done once or twice during the summer, with the result that he tautened the rope and fell back again. He lay still to regain his calm, and listened to the boos and catcalls growing into an uproar. "Well, bound man, and how did you kill the wolf?" they shouted, and: "Are you the man who killed the wolf?" If he had been one of them, he would not have believed it himself. He thought they had a perfect right to be angry: a circus at this time of year, a bound man, an escaped wolf, and all ending up with


Some groups

of spectators started arguing with

others, but the greater part of the audience thought the

whole thing a bad joke. By the time he had got to his feet there was such a hubbub that he was barely able to make out individual words. He saw people surging up all round him, like faded leaves raised by a whirlwind in a circular valley at the center of which all was yet still. He thought of the golden

few days; and the sepulchral light which all that he had built up during so many nights, the gold frame which the pious hang round dark, old pictures, this sudden collapse of everything, filled sunsets of the last

lay over the blight of

him with anger. They wanted him

to repeat his battle with the wolf.

said that such a thing

had no place


performance, and the proprietor declared that he did not keep animals to have them slaughtered in front of an audience. But the mob stormed the ring and forced them toward the cages. The proprietor's wife made her way between the in a circus

The Bound and managed to get from the other side. She pushed aside the crowd had forced to open a cage tators dragged her back and prevented seats to the exit




to the cages

the attendant


door, but the specthe door

from being


"Aren't you the

woman who

with him by does he hold you in his arms?" She shouted back at them that they needn't believe in the bound man if they didn't want to, they had never deserved him. Painted clowns were good enough for them. the river in the

summer?" they

The bound man

felt as if

used to


called out.


the bursts of laughter were


he had been expecting ever since early May. What had smelt so sweet all through the summer now stank. But, if they insisted, he was ready to take on all the animals in the circus. He had never felt so much at one with his rope. Gently he pushed the woman aside. Perhaps he would travel south with them after all. He stood in the open doorway of the cage, and he saw the wolf, a strong young animal, rise to its feet, and he heard the proprietor grumbling again about the loss of his exhibits. He clapped his hands to attract the animal's attention, and when it was near enough he turned to slam the cage door. He looked the woman in the face. Suddenly he remembered the proprietor's warning to suspect of murderous intentions anyone near him who had a sharp instrument in his hand. At the same moment he felt the blade on his wrists, as cool as the water of the river in autumn, which during the last few weeks he had been barely able to stand. The rope curled up in a tangle beside him while he struggled free. He pushed the woman back, but there was no point in anything he did now. Had he been insufficiently on his guard against those who wanted to release him, against the sympathy in which they Wanted to lull him? Had he lain too long on the river bank? If she had cut the cord at any other moment it would have been better than this. He stood in the middle of the cage, and rid himself of the rope like a snake discarding its skin. It amused him to



see the spectators shrinking back. Did they realize that he fighting the wolf now would

had no choice now? Or that

prove nothing whatever? At the same time he blood rush to his feet. He felt suddenly weak.


rope, which

fell at its feet like

felt all his

a snare, angered the

wolf more than the entry of a stranger into its cage. It crouched to spring. The man reeled, and grabbed the pistol that hung ready at the side of the cage. Then, before anyone could stop him, he shot the wolf between the eyes. The animal reared, and touched him in falling. On the way to the river he heard the footsteps of his pursuers

spectators, the rope-dancers, the circus propri-

and the proprietor's wife, who persisted in the chase longer than anyone else. He hid in a clump of bushes and listened to them hurrying past, and later on streaming in the opposite direction back to the camp. The moon shone on the meadow; in that light its color was both of growth and of death. etor,


he came to the river his anger died away. At dawn

seemed to him as if lumps of ice were floating in the water, and as if snow had fallen, obliterating memory. it

HEINRICH BOLL The Man with the Knives Jupp was holding the knife by the point of the blade and it swing idly from side to side. It was a long breadknife with a thin blade and one could see that it was sharp. With a sudden movement he threw it up into the air. It went up, humming like a boat's propeller, cut through


a patch of fading sunlight looking like a golden the




momentum and


fish, struck sharply down,

point foremost, straight for Jupp's head, on which Jupp had, with the speed of lightning, placed a thick square of wood. The point of the blade went plunk into the wood and the knife stuck fast with its handle swinging in the air. Jupp took the piece of wood from his head, freed the knife and flung it angrily at the door, where it stuck trembling in a panel till at last it swung itself out of its notch and fell on the floor. "It's sickening," said Jupp softly, "my act is based on the self-evident principle that the public, when they pay their money at the door, prefer to see turns in which there is danger to life or limb, just as it was in the Roman cirthey want at least to know that blood could flow, do cus you follow me? But there's no danger in what I actually do." He lifted up the knife and with a flick of the wrist sent it into the woodwork at the top of the window with such violence that the panes rattled and looked as though they might fall out of their brittle frames. This throw, sure and masterly, reminded me of the dreary war days when he used to send his pocketknife climbing up and down the wooden supports in the air-raid shelter. "There's nothing I wouldn't do," he went on, "to



thrill. I'd cut my ears off to please them, could find someone to stick them on again. I couldn't live vv^ithout ears: I'd sooner spend the rest of my life in prison. Now, come along with me." He pulled the door open, pushed me in front of him and we walked out on to the staircase, on the walls of which rags of wallpaper were only to be seen in places where the paper was so tightly stuck to the wall that it was impossible to tear it off. The rest had gone to light stoves. Then we crossed a disused bathroom and came out on to a sort of terrace with a floor of broken concrete and patches of moss growing here and there. Jupp pointed upward and said, "Of course,

give the public a





more headroom

I've got for

performance goes, but


to strike against so that


must have a it

knife, the better the ceiling for the knife

will lose its

impetus and come

point foremost on my useless head. Look." He pointed upward where the iron framework of a broken down balcony projected into the air and said, "This is where I practiced all day for a whole year. Watch me now." He sent the knife whizzing up. Its flight was marvelously steady and regular, as tireless as a bird's, then it struck the base of the balcony and shot down with breathtaking speed into the block of wood on Jupp's head. It must have given him a considerable shock but Jupp didn't bat an eyelid. The knife point was at least an inch deep



in the


"Bravo," I cried, "that's a masterpiece. Your people must admit that that's an act worth seeing." Jupp pulled the knife casually out of the wood, and held it up. "Yes," he said, "I suppose they do. They give me twelve marks a night for playing about with my knife in between two longer numbers. But my act is too simple. man, a knife, a block of wood you follow me there's no variety, no tension. I ought to have a half-naked woman on the stage with me and to sling my knife a hair's breadth past her nose. That would get theml But where can I find such a woman?"


went back into the room and he


laid the knife care-



with the Knives


fully on the table, with the square of wood beside it, and rubbed his hands. Then we sat down in silence on a chest by the stove. I took a hunk of bread out of my pocket and said, "Have some." "Gladly," he said, "and I'll make some coffee and afterward you will come with me to the show and see my act." He stuck some wood in the stove and put a saucepan over the opening. "I'm in despair," he said. "I think I look too serious. Perhaps I do look a bit like a sergeant, what do you think?" "Oh, nonsense. You've never been a sergeant and

aren't in the least like one.


"Obviously "I couldn't





Do you



they clap?"


that. I couldn't smile at a

are quite wrong. That's just


where you ought to

smile." "I don't understand you."

mean because they aren't really dead. No one is dead. you understand?" "I understand what you say but I don't believe it." "You've still got something of the lieutenant about you. "I


Yes, of course, they're asleep for longer in a cemetery. But as for my public, I'm happy if I can amuse them. They are lifeless, so I tickle them a little and get paid for doing it. Perhaps one of them when he goes home after the show will not forget me. Maybe he will say to himself, 'Damn it, the man with the knives he wasn't afraid and I'm always .' For you know they afraid, damn it. are all afraid all the time. They drag their fear behind them Hke a leaden


shadow and


am happy

if I can make them forget it and have good reason to smile at them." I said nothing and watched the water boiling. Jupp poured coffee into the brown enamel pot and we drank out of it in turn as we munched my bread. Outside it was slowly growing dark and the twilight flowed into the room

laugh a


like a flood





of soft gray milk. for a living?" Jupp asked me.

"What do you do "Nothing ...

I live

from hand to mouth."



"That's a hard calling." "Yes, to earn the bread we're eating, I've had to break a hundred stones casual labor they call it." .




would you like to see another of my tricks?" I nodded and he got up, switched on the light and went to the wall where he pushed a hanging on one side revealing the outline of a man roughly drawn in charcoal on the reddish distemper. A curious eminence rising above the head of the figure seemed to represent a hat. When I came near I could see that the figure was drawn on a .



cleverly camouflaged door.

began to be interested when Jupp pulled out from under wretched bed a pretty brown box and placed it on the table. Before opening it he came to me and put four cigarette papers on the table saying, "Roll a couple of fags I


with these." I






place so that


could see him better and

from the warmth of the

While I was Jupp pressed a


carefully laying out the cigarette papers,

spring which opened the box and pulled out a curious sort of case. It was one of those roll-up cloth contraptions with

a lot of pockets in which our mothers used to keep the knives and forks and spoons belonging to their trousseaus. He unfastened the catch and rolled it out on the table. It contained a dozen knives with horn handles of the kind which, in the days when our young mothers used to dance La Valse, were called hunting cutlery. I spread out the tobacco carefully on two of the slips and rolled a couple of cigarettes. "Here you are," I said, handing them to Jupp, who

handed one back to me, saying, "Thanks." Then he showed me the whole of the case and said, "This is the only thing that I was able to save from my parents' belongings. Everything else was burnt, blown to pieces or stolen. When I came out of prison, ragged and wretched, I possessed nothing, absolutely nothing, till one day a distinguished old lady who had known my mother sought me out and gave



this pretty little box.




with the Knives

few days before she was


by the bombs, mother had given her this little thing to look after and so it was saved. Funny, isn't it? But then of course one knows that when people are threatened with destruction they try to save the most peculiar things never the most necessary ones. So I became the possessor of this box and its contents which originally consisted of the brown coffeepot, twelve forks, twelve knives and twelve spoons oh, and the big breadknife as well. I sold the spoons and forks and lived on the proceeds for a year, while I was learning to use the knives, the whole thirteen of them. Watch me!" I passed him the spill with which I had lit my cigarette. Jupp lit his own and stuck it on to his lower lip. Then he fastened the loop of the case to a button high up on the shoulder of his jacket and let the case unroll itself along his arm, looking like some fancy war decoration. Then, with incredible rapidity, he picked the knives out of their case and before I could properly follow the motion of his hands, he had flung all twelve of them at the shadowy figure on the door, which reminded me of those ghastly swinging figures, the precursors of final defeat, which we used

from every advertisement pillar and at the corner of every street. I looked and saw that there were two knives in the man's hat, two over each shoulder and three neatly outlining each of his arms. "Crazy," I said. "Absolutely crazy! What an act that would make with a little building up!" "Yes, but it wants a man a live man or better still a woman, and that," he said, as he pulled the knives out of the door and put them carefully back in the case, "that is what I shall never find. The women are too frightened and the men too dear. I can quite understand that. It's a dangerous job." Jupp took another pull at his flimsy cigarette and threw the scanty remnant behind the stove. to see hanging

"Come," he

said, "I think

we ought

to be going."


— 244


put his head out of the window, murmured, "It's raining, damn it," and said, "It's a few minutes before eight and

come on at half-past." As he was packing the knives in the little leather box I put my face to the window and looked out. I heard the I



of the rain as



on the ryined


heard the screech of passing trams. But I couldn't see a clock anywhere. "How do you know what time it is?" I asked. "By instinct. That's part of my training." I looked at him uncomprehendingly. He helped me on with my overcoat and then put on his own wind-jacket. I have a damaged shoulder and can only move my arm within a limited range: just enough for breaking stones. We put on our caps and went out into the dim passage. It was a comfort to hear the quiet sound of voices and laughter from some-

and behind a


line of

swaying poplars


in this lonely house.

As we went down

the stairs Jupp said, "I have taken a on the track of certain cosmic laws." As he spoke, he put down his box on a step and stretched out his arms on either side of him, looking like Icarus as we see him in the old pictures taking off for a flight. On his sober face there was a strange expression, at once cool and dreamy, half-possessed and half-calculating a magical look which filled me with fear. "So," he said quietly, "I stretch out my hands into the air and I see them growing longer and longer till they penetrate into a region where other laws apply; they pass through a veil behind which just grasp lie strange enchanting thrills which I grasp and then I clutch the laws which govern them, like a happy thief, clasp them to myself and carry them away with me!" He clenched his hands and pressed them to his body. "Come along," he said and his face resumed its old prosaic expression. I followed him in a dream. Outside the rain was falling steadily. The air struck cold and we turned up our collars and shrank shivering into ourlot of trouble to get

An evening mist streamed through the streets already tinted with the blue-black darkness of night. In the selves.



with the Knives



of the blitzed villas one could see a faint and pitiful candlelight showing beneath the black ruins that overlay them. The street turned imperceptibly into a muddy track with dim wooden shanties barely visible

basements of

in the darkness to right



which seemed to be


in the uncared-for gardens like threatening junks in a shal-

low backwater. Then we crossed the tramway and walked down a narrow lane leading to the suburbs where a few houses were still standing in the midst of heaps of rubble and debris, till we suddenly came out into a lively, populous street. We moved along with the stream of people on the pavement for a while and then turned off down a dark lane, where the brightly illuminated sign of the Seven Mills was reflected on the wet asphalt. The entrance to the variety theater was empty. The show had started some time ago, and we heard the buzz of voices from the inside coming to us through the shabby

red curtains.

Jupp laughed as he showed me a photo of himself in dress hanging between the pictures of two smirking dancing girls with spangles all over their chests. Below it stood the words: The Man with the Knives. "Come along," said Jupp, and before I realized what I was doing I found myself walking down an unsuspected passage and climbing a narrow, winding, ill-lit staircase in which the smell of sweat and make-up betrayed the nearness of the stage. Jupp, who was leading the way, suddenly stopped at a bend in the staircase; he set down his box and putting his hands on my shoulders asked me in a low voice, "Have you got the nerve?" I had long been expecting this question, but its suddenness frightened me. I expect I didn't look very brave when I answered, "The courage of despair!" "That's the right kind," he said, suppressing a laugh. "Are you game?" I was silent, and then suddenly we heard a storm of wild laughter from inside the house. It was so loud and violent that I started and found myself trembling.




"I'm afraid," I said softly. "So am I," he answered. "Have you no confidence in

me?" "Yes, of course I have but come on," I said hoarsely, pushing him forward and adding, "It's all one to me." We came up into a narrow corridor with a number of .



plywood compartments on either side. A few gaily clad figures were moving about and, through a gap in the wings, I saw a clown on the stage opening his cavernous mouth. We heard once more a wild burst of laughter from the public, but then Jupp pulled me into a compartment and shut the door behind us. I looked round me. The compartment was very small and almost unfurnished. There was a mirror on the wall, and Jupp's cowboy kit was hanging on a solitary nail, while an old pack of cards lay on a rickety chair. Jupp was in a hurry; he was likewise nervous. He helped me off with my wet overcoat, slapped down his cowboy suit on the chair and hung up my coat and his wind-jacket on the nail. Over the partition wall of our cabin I could see a red-painted Doric column with an electric clock on it which pointed to twenty-five minutes past eight. "Five minutes more," murmured Jupp, as he pulled on his costume. "Shall we have a rehearsal?" At that moment there was a knock on the door and someone called, "Get ready." Jupp buttoned up his jacket and put on his wild west hat. I said with a hysterical laugh, "Do you want to hang the condemned man experimentally before you finally execute him?" Jupp took hold of his box and drew me out of the compartment. In the passage we found a bald-pated man watching the end of the clown's turn. Jupp whispered something in his ear, which I didn't catch. The man looked up with a frightened expression. Then he stared at me and looked at Jupp again and shook his head emphatically. Jupp whispered to him again. For my part I didn't care what happened to me. They could make a pincushion of me if they wanted to. I had a ,

The trick shoulder; I




with the Knives


a reefer and next

247 morn-

break seventy-five stones for which I should get three-quarters of a loaf of bread. But tomorrow The act was over and the applause flooded into the wings. The clown reeled out through the opening with a weary, drawn face and came up to us. He stood waiting for a few seconds with a morose expression and then went back on to the stage and bowed to the audience with a friendly smile. The orchestra played a flourish and Jupp went on whispering to the man with the bald head. The ing







clown went back three times to bow and smile at the applauding public. Then the band began to play a march and Jupp, carrying his box, walked on to the stage with firm steps. He was greeted with a few perfunctory claps. Then I watched with weary eyes while Jupp fixed up the cards on a row of nails and pierced each one of them with his knives exactly through the center. The applause became livelier, but was still half-hearted. Then to the soft accompaniment of gently tapping drums, he went through his performance with the breadknife and the wooden block and, in spite of my indifference, I noticed that it was a bit thin. On the other side of the stage I caught sight of a few scantily dressed girls staring at the show from the wings and then the man with the bald head caught hold of me and dragged me on to the stage, saluted Jupp with a flourish and said with a stage policeman's voice, "Good evening, Mr. Borgalewski." "Good evening, Mr. Clodpuncher," said Jupp in duly .



solemn tones. "I have brought you here a horse-thief, an out-and-out rascal, Mr. Borgalewski. We want you to tickle him a bit with those smart looking knives of yours, before we hang ." His voice seemed to me ridicuhim ... a real rascal. lous, mean and artificial at the same time like paper flowers and cheap face-paint. I threw a glance at the audience and saw in front of me a dim, dully gleaming, tense, thousand-headed monster sitting in the darkness ready to spring. From that moment I simply switched off. Nothing .




mattered a damn any more. The glare of the spotlights dazzled me and in my shabby suit and wretched gaping shoes, I might well have passed for a horse-thief. "Leave him to me, Mr. Clodpuncher," said Jupp, 'Til soon settle his hash." "Good, I'll leave you to take care of him. Don't spare the knives."

Jupp grabbed me by the collar while Mr. Clodpuncher shambled off the stage with a grin on his face. A piece of cord flew on to the stage from somewhere and then Jupp tied me to a Doric pillar in front of one of the blue-painted doors that led into the wings. I had a strange delirious feeling in which indifference was uppermost. On my right I heard the curious, many-voiced murmuring of the excited audience and perceived that Jupp had been quite right when he spoke of their blood-lust, which hovered trembling in the sweet, stale atmosphere, while the tense drumming of the band, keyed to a kind of voluptuous cruelty, enhanced the impression of a terrible tragi-comedy in which real blood would flow blood that the management had paid for. I looked straight ahead of me and let myself

slump, but the tightly fastened cord held me upright. The drumbeats grew softer and softer as Jupp, with professional neatness, picked the knives out of the playing cards and placed them in his case, looking at me the while with an expression of melodramatic contempt. Then, when he had put all his knives away, he turned to the audience and said in an affected voice, "Ladies and gentlemen, I am now going to crown this gentleman with knives, but I want you to see that my knives are by no means blunt," and as he spoke he fished a piece of string out of his pocket and, with uncanny calm, took the knives one after the other out of the case and, touching the string with each, cut it into twelve pieces. Then he replaced each knife carefully in its pocket. All this while I was looking over his head, past the halfnaked girls in the wings, and, as it seemed to me, into a

new life. The air was


by the excitement of the


The Jupp came up


with the Knives


me and

pretended to tighten up the cords that bound me and as he did so he whispered, "Keep absolutely still not a move and don't be afraid, my dear fellow." His delay in getting to work had relieved the tension, which looked as if it might fizzle out, but then he suddenly clutched the air, and waved his hands like softly whirring birds. Over his face came that expression of magical repose which had so overwhelmed me on the staircase. At the same time his face and his gestures seemed to hypnotize the audience. I thought I heard him give a strange, alarming groan and realized that it was a warning


me. back my eyes from the infinite distance in which they had been swimming and focused them on Jupp, who was now standing straight in front of me. Then he raised his hand and slowly grasped the case. The moment had come. I stood still, absolutely still, and closed my eyes. It was a wonderful feeling lasting a few seconds only, I don't know how many. As I heard the soft hissing of the knives and felt their wind as they whizzed past me into the door, I seemed to be walking on a narrow plank over a bottomless abyss, walking safely and surely, but fully signal to I


conscious of the danger. I was afraid, but knew full well I would not fall. I did not count the knives but found myself opening my eyes, just as the last knife pierced the door a hair's breadth from my right hand. A storm of applause roused me from my trance. I opened my eyes wide and looked into Jupp's pale face. He ran up to me and unfastened me with nervous hands. Then he dragged me into the middle of the stage, right up to the footlights. He bowed and I bowed and, in the midst of the swelling applause, he pointed to me and I to him. Then we smiled at one another and bowed, smiling, to the Öiat


Back in the dressing room, we didn't say a word. Jupp threw the perforated pack of cards on to the chair, took my coat from its nail and helped me on with it. Then he hung



his cowboy costume and put on his wind-jacket. We both put on our caps and as I opened the door the man with the bald head hurried up to us saying, "Salary raised to forty marks!" He handed Jupp a few notes. At that moment I understood that Jupp was now my boss and we looked at one another and smiled. Jupp took my arm and we walked side by side down the narrow, ill-lit stairs smelling of stale grease-paint. When we had reached the exit Jupp laughed and said, "Now we'll ." buy cigarettes and some bread. It was at least an hour before I realized that I now had a job in which I had nothing to do a regular profession but to submit myself and dream a bit for twelve seconds,




or twenty, maybe. I



was now the


the knives were

HEINZ HUBER The New Apartment we were

round to the Messemers. mine at the works, and a most gratifying friendship has grown up in course of time between our two families. Without wishing to overestimate our importance, I do believe that the function we fulfill through modest social gatherings like this is of some significance. It is the development of a form of society, of a social type even, which is adapted to our changed environment. When we began, there was no social intercourse and no society. Our grandparents were dead, our parents had made a mess of things, and those who had made rather less of a mess were not our parents. A zero-point situation, as the literary periodicals called it. I think I can say that we coped with this situation rather well. We read the literary periodicals and we looked for a profession and found one. We began to earn money and began also to invite one another out, and today we constitute a kind of new social grouping, one which is beginning to develop a style of its own, and which once more commands every respect. To return to the Messemers, it is not long since they The.other evening

Marx Messemer


into a




a colleague of



place, too,


new but we

have been in it rather longer. The Messemers have had theirs done up completely new, and we were keen to see





I think a lot of Marx Messemer. Or let's admire him, at least up to a certain point. What I admire above all is the reliability of his judgment, his



say that






taste, his modernity. With him everything is exactly right, while with me there's always something just short of perfection. In our home the new tea service always has two cups broken and the tea table is still one of the old kidneyshaped kind. Somehow we just don't manage to replace it

with a more modern piece, though we know perfectly well what we want long and narrow, in reddish-brown wood. It would go so well with our sand-colored chair covers.


then a pigeon-blue carpet but we'll never achieve them. At least not for the present.

The Messemers on their door,

from our

the other

baseboard there stretched a gray.




we walked

in at

feet to the horizon of the far-distant fine


surface in graphite

the vanishing point of the perspective lines, in

front of a bare wall, a strange-looking branch projected


a large glass vase, standing on the ground. Echoes

of surrealism,


thought to myself, early Chirico. Perhaps

Messemer himself was unconscious of them. He understands nothing about


says he

says he's a rationalist, a

man of his hands (no doubt, so are we all) but he quite simply has it, that unerring sense of style, that infallible modernity. well-marked characteristic of our particular circle is

technician, a


we have no feelings of mutual rivalry. Everyone is conscious of his own worth, even as I am, and so I have no reason to envy Marx Messemer. Yet when I saw his



was seized by a spasm of envy. There stood might have been expected, a breathtakingly lovely, elegantly simple, wickedly expensive writing desk, Scandinavian of course and made by hand (he could have afforded it after all, just as I could) but no, not a bit of it. There stood a slab of raw deal, massive, of unusual size, in its natural whiteness, not polished but planed, and on it his typewriter. That's Marx Messemer all over. He's an expert in cool jazz, and that's what his whole flat is like cool jazz converted into armchairs, carpets, lamps (or rather table I

not, as




The New Apartment


For a long time we were all devotees of the theory that pictures had played out their part as adornments to a room, and our craze was all for empty walls. That was of course an extreme fad, and we soon moved away from it. Nothing could be more foreign to our outlook than snobbery. We aim to have principles, but we try also to modify them.

So the Messemers once more had a picture on the


placed asymmetrically on a very daring wallpaper, one picture only, but that an original. I stood in front of it and was annoyed with myself. I too have pictures on the wall, but prints, fastened to it with drawing pins. To this day I have somehow just not managed at least to have them framed, though I'm always meaning to. For Messemer such things are no problem and that's what impresses me so much about him. Exact improvisation, cool jazz, precision of living style. We stood about informally, informally chatting on the graphite-gray carpet, holding beautifully shaped glasses in our hands brandy and soda. Whisky and soda, that's high society, at our social level it would be snobbery, and snobbish is the one thing we're not. We have a well-defined sense of what is appropriate. We're middle-class (I don't mean bourgeois, of course) and we know what's fitting for

Brandy and soda. Besides on social occasions like these we're generally moderate with the drink hence the soda. The only one who drank neat brandy on this particular evening was Fräulein Kliesing who'd also been asked, and is anyhow for my taste a little bit eccentric, yes, decidedly eccentric. It's something I'm not so keen on, and I have trained myself little by little to a certain tolerance, till now I really rather like Fräulein Kliesing. We all have our faults. us.

There was a slight contretemps as we were all arranging ourselves up at the sitting end. Fräulein Kliesing lowered

new armchair but immediately she had sat on a pin; her salmon-pink dress, she said, clashed horribly with the raspberry pink of the chair cover, and she was right, too. What made it herself into the Messemers'

shot up again as




worse was that this "shocking" pink of the cover was chosen with great finesse to contrast with the equally shocking emerald green of the wallpaper behind it. I should never have dared anything like that, but Messemer does dare and, you see, he brings it off. In any case harmony was restored when Fräulein Kliesing transferred her salmon-colored dress to the clear gray of the couch while my wife's sky-blue contrasted correctly with the raspberry pink chair. We're not esthetes, let this be clearly stated, but technicians, men of our hands. Yet just for that very reason it disturbs us if something of this kind, or indeed anything at all, is not quite in key. In my home it is the sofa cushions which are wrong. Not that they're actually in bad taste, but they have come together rather by chance, not so carefully matched with one another and with their surroundings as at the Messemers. But that can easily be changed. We take such a matter no more seriously than it deserves

and the color problem of Fräulein Kliesing and the armchair did not occupy us for long. We were now talking about the Messemers' new apartment in general. "How did you find this place to begin with?" "Well, we really did have rather a stroke of luck," said Kay, Messemer's delicious wife. "We hunted for ages, but there was always something. Extra conversion costs, and so on. You know the story. Then finally someone we knew, who had some connection with this property, told us there might be a possibility here. Only we should have to do it up ." ourselves. I didn't want to at first, but Marx thought "I was for it straight away," said Marx. "But you can't imagine what it looked like in here when I first came to see the place. I could never have dreamed that anything like it existed nowadays." Messemer took his time, lit his pipe, poured himself another brandy and soda, and then told the story of the apartment, and we sat in the new armchairs on the graphitegray carpet, drank brandy and soda, and listened al.


The New Apartment


though, to be candid, we were not all that interested. But what should one talk about? We neither can nor do we want to make fashionable conversation, and our common professional affairs, well, there's a tacit agreement that on

such social occasions they are not discussed. Or should we have talked about Marcel Proust? One doesn't talk about Proust, with us you might say Proust is taken for granted, just like our love for our wives. To speak about the one would be sentimentality, about the other snobbery, betraying in either case a faulty sense of style. Rather the Messemers' new apartment than that. Besides which, he tells a good story, even though he does overdo it a bit at times. "When I first saw this room," he began, "it wasn't being lived in any longer, but the furniture was still here. I couldn't imagine how any human creature could have found room to exist here among all the furniture. I could see nothing but furniture. That's to say, at




even see that, the windows were curtained, the room dark. It was only when the woman with the keys turned on the light that solid ground began to be distinguishable in the darkness. The source of the gloomy light was a low-hanging lampshade, above shot silk and dust, below long, rectangular plate-glass pendants and cobwebs. All this close down over a broad table-top, stains and dust here too, losing themselves in the half-darkness behind. At the sides, chair backs reared themselves, and over the nearest of them there hung an ^Id-fashioned woman's hat. Behind it serried ranks of bookshelves, cupboards, whatnots, a sofa in the darkness, deeper still in the darkness an endless vista of grand piano, piles of books on the piano, dust on the books, scarcely room to move between them, not so much a living room as a second-hand furniture dealer's warehouse.


a stage set for



of Chaillot"

if it


been written by lonesco." In descriptions like these he's






to his style, his descriptions range themselves

on another

like the


colored flags which a conjuror pulls out



of his mouth on a never-ending string, gay and effortless. Fräulein KUesing stared at Messemer in open-mouthed ad-

Moreover her admiration was so to speak sexless, on the one hand Messemer had his delicious wife, and on the other Fräulein Kliesing had a man friend of her own. So nothing of that sort. We don't much go in for erotic disturbance, any more than we go in for illness. Messemer was in full swing. "A nineteenth-century lumber room. The sloughed-off body-case of an old-fashioned insect. The flat had belonged to a professor's widow. I think he was a painter or something of the sort, but nothing distinguished. Later I found in the cellar a few rolls of painted canvas, landscape sketches and portrait studies. They were so stiff and brittle that the paint came off in layers when I unrolled them. I can even say the painting was not at all miration. for

bad, for




academic surely," said Fräulein Kliesing. "I wouldn't say that, not altogether. At any rate, the life led by the professor's widow was no longer very academic. Between ourselves, the woman in charge of the flat told me that the old lady, having no more room among all this furniture and old lumber, had moved into the cubbybit

hole next door.




"Where we now have our





wardrobe and shoe


and there behind a cupboard arranged herself a on which most of her last days were spent. Once, she said, the old lady did not appear for four days, so that in the house it was thought something must have happened to her and the police were sent for to break open the door. But the old lady had only been lying behind her cupboard and staring at the wall. There was nothing else the matter with her. She was in fact very old, an old lady with whalebone and crumbling lace about her neck, ".



sort of berth

contemplating in the gloom the professor's half-finished oil paintmgs on the wall, perhaps thinking of her honeymoon


New Apartment


journey to Florence or perhaps of nothing at all, just fad." ing away, slowly dying. Messemer left his story in the air as if, having served him for a felicitous piece of description, he no longer had any further use for it. Now it was his wife's turn. "And the dirt in the rooms, after all the old rags had been removed, you can't imagine. The wallpaper hung in tatters, covered with dust, or had been fastened back with drawing pins; the ceiling was black with soot and cobwebs, with huge cracks in it we had to strip all the plaster off, and the whole floor had to be replaned right to the laths it was so dirty. At first we thought of varnishing it. . "Matte or glossy?" asked my wife. "Matte of course, I imagine?" said Fräulein Kliesing. "Probably glossy," answered Kay, "But then we liked this velour carpeting so much that we decided to closecarpet the whole room instead, although that worked out a good deal more expensive." "In the long run it's worth it, though," said Fräulein Kliesing. "When you have a floor varnished, you still have to have it waxed after a time, and then after two or three years the varnish must be renewed, while a good carpet lasts for years." Fräulein Kliesing, who had a charming little flat of her own, was quite an expert in such matters. The nice thing about our circle is that we never work a subject to death; we're interested in everything, so that our talk never gets boring. Without meaning to, we have developed a very pleasant style of social intercourse; neither stiff conventionality nor amorphous bohemianism, but a free and open, sober modernity. We keep clear of fashionable and tepid conversation just as carefully as we do those night-long discussions which go round and round in circles. One must avoid exaggeration at all costs. We turned again to the previous history of the Messemers' apartment. "It wasn't altogether easy to get hold of this apartment," said Messemer. "In this room here as I've said lived the .






widow, and she had finally died. But that was from making it possible for us to move in, for in the second room, where our dining recess now is, there lived a second old lady who didn't die and who obstinately refused to go into an old people's home, although it was really more necessary for her than for her companion. The two women had been friends when years before they had taken this apartment. It was then new of course. But time day after day so cramped together, ill, poor, a bit odd, the two of them time dissipated their friendship. In the end they had the connecting door between the two rooms nailed up, and the great tiled stove which heated both rooms was no longer kept going. Instead each one put a small iron stove in her room. Up there behind the new wallpaper you can still see the hole which had to be made for the stove-

professor's far



"Really!" said Fräulein Kliesing. "Let's hope we don't get like that one day." "The professor's widow died simply of old age, but as

one in the other room, she was certainly a bit Messemer said. "About birdseed," his wife added. "Yes, birdseed. There can be no other explanation. Who would like another drmk?" We allowed our glasses to be refilled with brandy and soda, and Messemer continued, although his story, interesting as it was, for my taste was already going on rather for the dotty,"

too long. "This one, in contrast to the other, had almost no furniture. Her walls, doors, and windowframes were stuck all over with nails and hooks of all shapes and sizes for

clothes, for towels, for bits of string with nothing attached

them any more, for key labels, dishcloths, oven rakes, and spotted photographs of babies long since grown up. A great deal of this stuff we later found, when we were able to get into the room, under the great heap of birdseed. The woman must have lived the whole time with a regular to


New Apartment



took up a quarter of the floor space. Just simply poured out on the floor knee high. The house people told us how she had the window practically always open and the birds flew in and out the whole time, summer and winter. The birds come hopping around the room even now, though it's quite a while since the mountain of birdseed was removed. And we found the oddest things under the birdseed: medicine bottles, bits of stuff, old illustrated papers, prospectuses of bathing re-

mountain of birdseed

sorts, a glove,



in the


whole collection of varicolored powup in paper all buried under

ders each carefully folded

the birdseed."


ghastly!" said Fräulein Kliesing. "Well," said Messemer, "the whole thing could almost have been called tragic. So far as can be discovered, the husband of the birdseed crone got lost in the Third Reich. And he wasn't even politically active. They said he had passed on something or other to someone else, or that sort of thing. Probably the whole thing was a mistake. In any case the husband never came back. It was his wife, then, who later on had this room and the heap of birdseed. The place was really not fit for human habitation, but she simply refused to move into the old people's home. What was more, she couldn't pay the rent any longer." I


a feeling that

Messemer now had


gone a


too far, for an ordinary party. Kay threw him a glance and told the rest of the story herself. "After the death of the professor's widow the birdseed woman became the principal tenant of the apart-

ment. So

first of all sub-tenants of the

we had ourselves put down as nominal room that was now free, so that we

should have a prior claim on the whole apartment if the birdseed woman should go. And besides that we paid the landlord the arrears of rent of the two old women. Then we had a word with the tenants of the other flats in the building, and wrote to the relations of the birdseed woman and got a place for her in an old people's home. And then

— 260



organized the removal for her and undertook the sale of those things she couldn't take with her into the home it wasn't much in any case. Finally, after we had so taken her in hand and arranged everything for her, she presumably could see no further reason for holding out and moved to the old people's home where she has since settled down quite contentedly. We had the whole apartment transferred to us as principal tenants and could now begin to do it up.

it you can see for yourselves. You was the same place if you'd seen the rooms before, when the two old women still lived here."

What we made


wouldn't believe


a delightful apartment," said Fräulein Klie"I'm quite enthusiastic over the way you've done it. You couldn't possibly tell it was an old one." "No, you hardly could," said Kay smiling, "only in the one room we simply cannot altogether get rid of the birdseed. Every so often I find myself sweeping a handful of it out of cracks in the floor. I thought it would be better once we had a vacuum cleaner, but we have got one now and it's just as bad. Perhaps we shall simply have to cover the floor with linoleum." "I shouldn't have linoleum," said my wife. "It shows every footmark." "No, I'm against linoleum, too," said Fräuline Kliesing. "I find that linoleum has more or less had its day." Of course we didn't spend the whole evening talking about carpets and built-in cupboards. After Messemer had once more proved his power to hold an audience, for which I so envy him, he played us his newest cool jazz records. Then we discussed the question whether illnesses have physical or mental causes, and finally Messemer gave an account of the World Exhibition in Brussels. Again he was very entertaining, on top of his subject, sparkling like the outer skin of the Atomium itself with metallic phrases. All in all, the evening, as always at. the Messemers, was most "It's really



At about one o'clock we took our leave and went home.

The New Apartment



had to take a taxi because we have no car. The Messemers of course have a car, but we for some reason or other haven't achieved one yet. But I'm quite confident we shall

have one next year or the year after provided that nothing comes in between, which I think rather improbable. We've got plenty of time yet to get ourselves properly fixed up.



the Hallway

The most astounding

declaration of love that I've ever my friend E. made to an unknown lady. I happened to be there at the time. I can't say if the lady realized at all that it was a declaration of love. Evidently she did not know my friend, and people who don't

heard of


the one


easily think that what he said was just the wild talk of a man who is drunk. But we were neither of us drunk. At the most we had had three glasses of kirsch each. Of course, we got a bit drunk afterward; but that would

know him might

have happened in any case. Yet I assume that the lady understood him correctly. For the situation was an uncannily conclusive one. E. could easily have extricated himself as usual with one of his jokes, and if even so he said such daring things to her he must have known that he was not overestimating her intelligence. Discretion forbids me to say who E. is. Not even the initial is right; so no one need try to puzzle it out. I can say just this much: he is quite a well-known person, if by this one understands that the newspapers consider it necessary to talk about him now and then, and that the public as it follows his activities feels entitled to regard him as a congenial relation. This means little enough; relationship is perhaps the least adequate basis on which to judge a person, for it means that one approaches a person point blank and doesn't even allow him the freedom to be other than what one wants him to be. As for me: I style myself E.'s friend, because I've found that I'm sometimes more concerned about

The Meeting

in the

him than about myself. This seems terion for friendship.



be quite a good

263 cri-

Though, of course, there may well be

And, naturally, I've never said anything to him about this. He would ask, in amazement: "Concerned about me? But why?" All the same, I might die before him, and then nobody would ever hear of this unique courtship. It's highly unlikely that the lady, if she still thinks about it at all, will talk about it, and as for E., I'm sure that he forgot what he said within a few minutes of saying it. He's usually much more interested in the next step than in the one just taken; this is a peculiarity of his which is not always easy to get on with. To a certain extent, when the meeting took place, he skipped all possible intermediate phases of the situation, as if they didn't matter. An impossible finality was what he wanted, if I may put it so. It happened at lightning speed, and he was trying to sweep another person along with him as well. A mortally dangerous experiment; for it leaves behind it a delicate vacuum which not many people can bear. Most people, especially women, need a past, however small it may be, to support them. It's no wonder that immediately after the meeting I was a bit anxious about the lady whom E. had simply left standing, alone, in the emptiness. It all happened one night in the "Hafenschenke." This particular bar has nothing whatever to do with any harbor, despite its name, except so far as the murals are concerned: liners, tugs, dolphins, two gulls and a loving couple under a street-lamp, in short, a harbor as mural painters imagine it others.

good enough for a town which is neither beside on a river. A nice bar in a cellar, nothing more. Eighteen neckbreaking steps lead down to it from the street;

to be.


the sea nor

this endless descent always think there's some sort of a cinema or dancehall above it, hence the unusual depth. Down here you feel secluded at least if you're the sort who can't feel at home in the phony atmosphere of a bar built higher above ground. In the bar itself the light is pleasantly dim, restful to the



counted them, for

amazed me.




is the inevitable accordionist, even and goes inseparably with the harbor idea if one buys him a drink he'll even play some such song as In Hamburg, da bin ich gewesen; but in spite of the noise, and on Fridays there is more or precisely because of it one can drink noise than ever, because of the pay-packets one's schnapps and eat one's chipolatas in peace. The barmaid is a fine strapping woman. She keeps a cudgel ready by her. But there's never any need to pick a quarrel with her. One hears of fighting there sometimes. Why not?





course, there


It was here that I had arranged to meet E. We were both very fed up. We had come to the town for a so-called congress, and we'd had to spend the whole afternoon in conference. Everyone knows what this means to people like us, and what comes of it all: endless argument and debate about things which should be settled with a simple Yes or No. Everyone likes to hear himself speak, and what was quite clear in one's mind beforehand is wholly uncertain afterward. Into the bargain, one isn't even allowed to leave before the time is up; the others would take this as a statement of attitude which one has no intention of making. It had already made a bad impression when E. had whispered to me at the conference that we should go as quickly as possible to the "Hafenschenke," to recuperate somewhat. Everybody thought that we had joined the opposition and were concocting some intrigue. I had had a few extra things to do. When I came in, E. was sitting at a table by the pillar with two very young apprentice carpenters. The place was pretty full, every table occupied. E. explained what it was all about. The two carpenters had hammers stuck in their belts, more as decoration, I thought; it seemed from their handles that they had hardly been used. These young chaps were holding the handles playfully and with a certain pride in their hands and then letting them slap back against their thighs, talking all the time about something to do with a "gilded hammer." E. wanted to know what it meant; he supposed that there

The Meeting

in the.



was some old custom behind it. The two carpenters looked at each other and wouldn't say. They claimed to have taken an oath and said it would bring them bad luck if they gave anything away. Finally E. gave up and paid for their beers. One of them looked strikingly like Feuerbach's portrait of Nana; the other looked more like a young Raskolnikov. I pointed this out to E. He pulled a face. He doesn't like such comparisons, and he's right, of course. It's virtually as if one said that a certain landscape was almost as beautiful as one in the latest film. I

can't say




talked about.


highly probable

what we said will have been more or less nonsense; because we were there to recuperate. But, of course, one can't rule out the possibility that something more sensible may have accidentally slipped from the one or the other of us. That's how it is. Where would we get if we were to take that seriously? I only mention this because reference was later made to something which we must have said. But no mention was made of what it had been about. Things never got that far. In any case, we had no idea that someone at a near-by table was


we swore about

things in general, and

listening to us.

After quite a time we had to take a walk. For this purpose one has to cross a draughty hallway and then grope one's way through a pitch-dark vaulted cellar, which is full of lumber, to the door marked Gentlemen. But here only the hallway matters, the hallway, that is, into which the stairs descend from the street. It is fairly big, square, with a high ceiling, and it has a stone floor. It is completely bare, and the walls are whitewashed. It is also brilliantly lit, to excess, a hundred times brighter than the subdued light in the bar. Yes, this naked brightness hurts, and, come to think of it, I don't know at all what this hallway is there for. We were just coming back out of the darkness of the vault when through the open door of the bar a lady came walking toward us. Unfortunately there is a slight gap in my report at this



point. I can't describe the lady with

any precision.



study her closely at the time, and when I came to reflect subsequently on what had happened it was too late. Let's assume that she was about thirty years old. Who can tell with any certainty so late at night and with the light so unnaturally brilliant? Besides, such a light is very cruel to women. A vague sort of memory persuades me that there were a few freckles to be seen. And that the eyes were very large, though somewhat slit at the sides. The eyes? Wasn't it rather the way she had of looking? And weren't the eyes perhaps screwed up because she was dazzled? All this is very much more than I would care to say in a court of law. And is it important? But if without any forethought I have called her a lady, I do definitely mean this. God forbid that I should have to define the concept "lady." One just notices it, in some indefinable quality, the dress, the way of walking, the tone of voice, or some other detail, that's all there is to it. As I suggested before, it's quite within the bounds of possibility that one should meet a lady down there in the "Hafenschenke," though perhaps not very often. Ladies who can afford to appear there without relinquishing some part of themselves are unfortunately rare. But this is all terribly

now be seen. She was coming straight toward us. We would have collided in the middle of the hallway. So one of us had to give way. Almost imperceptibly she faltered, and E. hesitated too as he saw her coming toward him with such girlish determination. Then we all three stopped. She looked at E. and then, without any preliminaries, without even the usual false smile with which women ask for consideration when they speak to a stranger, but quite plainly and with an overwhelming earnestness she said to him: "I was listening a moment ago," and then after a tiny pause, as if for a last time she was thinking things over again, and once more without taking her eyes off him or moving an eyelid, she went on: "I like you." At this I left them. It was the least I could do, in all deliirrelevant, as will

The Meeting





Could I stand around, like an ox, after such things had been said? Yet, to be honest, I did so not as consciously cacy. as







of their





someone had brushed them with a whip and had shouted to them: "Be off! You've no business here." I went as far as the door to the bar. There I turned. It was wrong to do this, for now I couldn't go any further. I just had to stop, as if rooted there.

It's all

know myself



very well to be wise after the event.


was improper. But everything happened

such an incredible speed. of them stood motionless, facing each other. Two figures, completely isolated from everything else because of the horribly shadowless brilliance of the space they occupied. It was so terrible, one caught one's breath. Somewhere a swinging door banged. A gust of wind blew down the stairs, but the couple was untouched by it. To all appearances they were looking into each other's eyes. I couldn't see their faces; the lady had her back to me and although she was half a head shorter than E. she hid him at

The two




after endless seconds, E. slowly raised his arms. This again had a terrifying effect, because it was quite unexpected and one did not know what he meant by it. I thought it would turn out to be a gesture of entreaty, and perhaps that's how it started. But it finished otherwise. He placed his hands on her shoulders. Very big hands, but he must have made them quite light. Like two clumsy birds they floated through the air and settled with the weightlessness of feathers on her shoulders. She didn't give an inch under their pressure. They simply came to rest on the dark cloth of her dress. And then came the declaration of love. I mean the words

for these hands were a declaration of love in themselves. heard every syllable, and perhaps that is the strangest thing of all. One must realize that I was standing about ten paces away, and E. certainly didn't speak in a loud voice. Such things are just not said in a loud voice. On the con-




must have been a raised whisper. And there was such a noise pouring out of the bar trary,


all this


—the accorscraping— so

dion, shouts, screams, glasses clinking, chairs one could hardly have heard oneself speak.


But obvi-

ously the noise was just as powerless as the biting draft which was blowing into the hallway from the street to penetrate the absolute silence which surrounded these two people.



too stood inside the magic


"Madame," he said ... I shall never know what made him address her in this way. She was not a Frenchwoman, nor were we in France. And yet what form of address could have been more apt? And how tenderly he pronounced this *'madame." I had no idea he was capable of it. Almost like a child. Especially the two m's vibrated with such an inward

warmth that my spine "Madame, let's not


associate in the

inhuman way


thousands of years and it has always brought us low, although we were created to love.

We've been doing

stand upright. "Can't we try to

this for

make some

other use of this miracle of

our meeting once more in spite of everything and so late in the night, so that the world needn't entirely despair over our failing again?

"You have seen, madame, something that I am not, but could be, and therefore must be. I've no name for it, I can't and that makes my it is sometimes

and uncertain; for I and that it was there just now. It flew across the mirror and I felt it in the longing that arose in me to change myself into this image. Your eyes are clearer than mine, and sometimes you really do see it. This revives my hope that I shall become as you want. "I entreat you, madame, not to deny it for the sake of any motherly feelings which could misguide you into wanting to take me in your arms, not crediting me with the power to endure alone the sorrow of my having longed tül now in vain. Keep the image that you have of me, safely, so that I may not spoil it by any bodily impatience which see




life restless


The Meeting

in the



would leave me nothing to compare myself with. For one day I would like to kneel down before you and call you an angel, having become one myself. "Everything


consider it already sufover it all again?" Then he took his hands from her shoulders, and the spell was broken. I was only too glad; I felt I couldn't stand any more of it. I was afraid that something awkward might happen at any moment. That he really would kneel down, or I don't know what. Something in any case completely else,

fered and enjoyed.




we go

baffling. With E. one was always ready for this, even if it never actually happened. He simply left the girl, or woman, or lady, standing and came toward me. We plunged at once into the racket of the bar. We went together to the counter and I ordered some



wasn't until I had thrown the stuff down that I came to myself. I looked behind me, to see if the woman was still standing outside. But I couldn't see her anywhere, the hallway was quite empty. Then I felt pity. If she had walked in, I would probably have sat down at her table, tapped her hand, and said: "All right now, it's not so bad as all that. He doesn't mean it that way." Possibly I might have fallen in love with her; at least the thought rose in my mind. Has anyone the right to speak as E. had done, and then calmly leave her to get along as best she can by herself? That's how it was, and before I knew it I found myself siding with her, and I was angry with E. "Did you know her then?" I asked him. "No. How could I know her?" "One can't talk like that to a stranger." "Stranger?" He looked at me in surprise. "But don't you see, we were anything but strangers to each other." Then we ordered some more kirsch. And from then on more and more, in rapid succession. There is this remedy, after all. True, though, some say it's harmful. It

GERD GAISER The Game of Murder all know the game, which may well acquire a ticklish, somewhat dubious character when adults take it up. Pieces of paper are thrown together, each person draws one, sees what is on it for him and puts it away. Somebody

Presumably you


part, somebody else the deother pieces of paper are empty, anyone

have picked the murderer's

tective's, all the

can be the victim. Nobody may know who the murderer is, he must conceal his identity; the party decides whether the detective is to remain unknown as well. Now the company can follow their inclination, disperse throughout the house right up to the attics and even include the cellars; they can pretend that they are on board ship and declare a terrace to be a deck where people can promenade, or they can scatter among the garden shrubs. Night, perhaps an artificial night, helps the game along, some darkness at least is required. He who wishes to can make himself safe by looking for a hiding-place, while someone else will mingle with the others: but in doing so he may easily come up against his murderer. Nobody knows when the attack will take place or who will be set upon. While it is happening a game of cards may be started, or some hurried caresses may be exchanged. In the meantime death walks through the library; in the shape of a lady, whispering, it suddenly raises its arm from a cloud of tulle. In normal circumstances it is agreed to banish evil; but now for an hour it has the right to steal through the door, and there is a sense of horror as when children play at hanging. Breathless and twisted; nobody knows whether the victim will slump down quietly, or

The Game




emit a murmur, a scream or a shout as he plays the game out, nobody knows himself what sounds will accompany his sudden exit, the ear has to be prepared for anything. Not until the wicked deed has happened may noise break out, a disturbance that is both artificial and real, and then the detective hunts for the criminal. for I would rather I played the game for the last time not play it again, I have lost all taste for the game for the last time, then, in Valea Calugareasca, that luxurious and desirable area where the rich people from the city had their country houses. It was one of those long-drawn-out parties where people who are wearied with distractions keep on inventing new excuses for refusing to let the party break up; a good many unusual people, and many ordinary ones too, with three or four different languages flowing in and through one another like the disks in a kaleidoscope, and three kinds of uniform as well as civilian pin-stripe, and plenty of tulle and silk, and the whole affair not a little forced. For it was wartime, and the war was past its prime, in all the splendor the worm was already gnawing and the

whether he


gunpowder was set. Everybody had been drinking. Nobody had had too much, but they had all drunk a lot of the heavy, narcotic wine which was made on the estates near by and which had the color of moonlight. The pieces of paper had been drawn, and now somebody was twisting at the fuses so that the lights went out all at once. Then we saw that day was waiting outside, but as yet it remained beneath the threshfuse to the

old. I

say that


had been drinking like everyone else, not exmuch that any idea could distract me and

cessively, but so

my mind



adventures; I let myself drift, without as I should have done. I forgot to mention that my paper had picked me as the detective, but it was all the same to me, I wasn't going to make hard work of it; in any case, when the disaster came, I intended to be in the mood for jokes. I watched people who were on its

concentrating on the




kept on the track of couples, I paid attention movements, for these had so much reality when everything was so artificial. As in boyar houses, a gallery extended on all four sides around the top story beneath the roof; it was open and cool there, there was a draft. The wind moved keenly before dawn, and the foothills of the Carpathians stood with their



to people's

etched outlines beneath the sky. As I stepped out, a female figure disappeared in front of me like a shadow. The victim hiding herself, I thought. She takes you for her murderer. I went after her. She fled. I followed her round three sides of the house, saw her head more clearly, the forehead and knot of hair, her thin neck, a scarf fluttering against the semi-brightness, then she had slipped away. I stepped after her, then I stood still by the upper balustrade, looked a few times behind me for reasons of safety. Being the detective, I didn't want to be killed myself. Then I forgot myself again and looked down into the expanse of hall through which pale light was creeping; there people were moving by restlessly in twos and threes amid subdued sounds. Once or twice I caught sight of the person with the scarf again as she made her way upright and yet

moving. Then I caught my foot on something solid, and what was solid at once gave way. I had been going to walk down the steps, but now I at once bent down, made a grasp and felt with my hand that somebody was lying stretched out on his face. I sounded the alarm on the spot, for I remembered that we were in the midst of a game and my own part in the game came back to me; I sounded the alarm then, and called for help in the way that could be expected of me. Light; people rushed together from above and below. A little group gathered on the steps; high-pitched voices; they pressed forward and resisted, leaned on each other's shoulders. Those in front bent down, pulled the victim's nose, tickled him or blew into his ear in order to try his powers of dissimulation, they tried to lift him up, they shook him amid terrifying jests. softly

The Game

He was first

a heavy person. I had seen

time, but



ness of breath, his









that evening for the


his short-

feet that pointed outward; a pros-


in a short gray sack suit






by an expensive tailor. Now who would have expected him to act the dead man? He did it well, this funny man, a devil of a fellow, not moving a muscle; everybody enjoyed it, they were grateful to him for making such good fun out of it and holding out for such a long time, until suddenly several people called in a strange tone: "Stop! No, do stop it!" Then all at once you could hear everybody breathing, it would have been like being under water if you had not heard the many drawings of breath. Only those at the back still pressed against those in front, and you could still hear isolated queries like, "What is it?" or "What did he mean?"


sort of reply


to be given here?


a one,

whose turn happens to have come, must die between three and four o'clock in the morning. Strangely enough, outside the sun was obviously rising, the half-light was disappearing, drained from all the faces, and the faces didn't look well. They were ashamed perhaps; we were ashamed perhaps, I should have said. And meanwhile the Rumanian staff-doctor who had been making an examination stood up from the dead man and pushed down his shirt-sleeves; he looked from one to another and presumably wanted to say something, only he could not find the right words. Then someone out a scream of empty, bewildered terror that a woman let out, and then there was something else in the dying fall of this scream, something uninterpretable, that is if a scream can be interpreted. I saw too that the scream came from the person I had encountered on the gallery. I had let


heard of her. She was a pianist who came and went in the house. There was something else I had heard about her: she had had an Armenian mother, the family had come to grief, the father was said to have been rich, until some political episode finished him. There she stood now, the woman with the knot of hair, her hand pressed against her



mouth, her knuckles between her

teeth, her fist stifling the scream. "Ladies and gentlemen," the Rumanian doctor said. "We have been playing a game. The game has punished us, and so nobody should know what the parts were any more. As if it had never taken place. All of you come with me to the fire; each is to burn his piece of paper there without anyone else seeing it."

Everybody did

so, in silence too, including myself. I although it did not concern me so closely, and also I did not understand what the Rumanian was trying to say, but then he came from another country, and perhaps they saw everything differently there, or better. That was how the party ended. The cars dispersed quickly, going in



way and that. When we came to the suburbs, the streets were still quiet, and the first trams were screeching along. The pianist had come to sit by me and different directions, this

to now had been wholly silent, but all at once she said without pausing, as if she were talking to herself and were out of her mind: "I did it, I did it." And then she went on: *T did it, and that's why it had to be me. I did the murder." As you can imagine, I did not answer, for her words did not seem meant for me, or to need any answer. But then she turned toward me, and her eyes terrified me in my state of weariness, and the thought went through my head: "But why, why does she tell me?"


"Murder?" I said, terrified and sleepy. We talked in low and I looked toward the front in case they could hear us there, but they were singing and calling to one another to prevent themselves dozing off and to make sure the driver stayed awake, and I believe they were pushing one another and had begun to tell jokes. Nobody bothered about



"Murder?" I said, then: "You mean the accident, madam. That was an accident, nothing more. Nobody is responsible for


The Game "You

are wrong.

Everybody had




called, then

of it



happened that way.

a part."


this, I

thought: "Oh, yes, she too belongs

to the other country."




be, but

remember, the




been wiped out."

Then she held up her hand. The piece of paper which drawn and then kept lay in her hand. The word

she had

Murderer stood on

"You I


in large, rather



see," she said.

thought again:


ever does she talk like this to


and then said aloud: "A tactless coincidence. You shouldn't pay any attention to it." And then I was shocked by the gesture with which she answered me. She said: "Not pay any attention to it? Oh! There speaks a man who cannot weep." "A death has a right to be mourned," I said. "But apart from that I can't possibly take a coincidence like that seriously."

"Coincidence? Seriously? Hate is not a matter of chance. is serious. Did you perhaps hate the man who was suddenly lying there?" "He did not seem particularly pleasant to me. To be precise, I was indifferent about him." "Oh, yes. And that was why you had a blank paper." "But I didn't have a blank paper," I almost replied, until it suddenly occurred to me that I should not let her know what my role had been. I should not tell her yet that I was the detective, for she was talking as in a dream, and she was capable of giving a start and falling over the edge if someone called to her, and I thought quickly again: "Of course, that is why she must talk with me; after all, I am the detective," and "The game is punishing us, these people know." But I did not say a single word aloud. Then she added: "As for me, I hated. I hated this man so much that I began to sob with laughter as he lay there.





was aware that


was me."




I turned my head. few moments earlier I should still have thought we could not understand each other. Now I began to understand; I understood something that we here, ladies and gentlemen, have scarcely any inkling of, but I couldn't talk about it. I didn't say any more. She could forget that she had been talking, and that she had talked to me; perhaps it was preferable for her, if we ever met again and she had to believe that she had spoken to somebody who did not understand anything about it. Soon she spoke again in a different tone of voice: "Please stop now. Let me get out. We're there." I was surprised to think that we were there, for I thought I recalled where she lived, and this was not the district. It was indeed no sort of district to live in. Here there were

only poor nameless people, low, higgledy-piggledy roofs, and a church standing against the light and casting a

shadow. "Can't I go with you?" I asked, and held the door. "Certainly not. Go on, go on quickly." "But you've got a long way home." We looked at one another, shivering, although the sun was now beginning to be warm, but we were weary and, like everyone else, had been drinking. We had never met before, and now I had to remember what she had said. Who wanted something from us? "Home?" she whispered, exhausted. "Not there, where I meet myself." I could think of nothing to say. In front the others turned round and waited. "Do go on, please," she said once more. "Go quickly." I watched her walk away across the v^retched pavement on her high-heeled shoes, unlovely and alone. The car went on, and it was not until we were a street farther on that it occurred to me to ask what she had meant with her "We're there." Now I got out as well, stood still until the car had disappeared, and then walked back. The sun was still not high in the sky, and between the miserable houses the church cast its cool shadow over the square where a dog

The Game




was stretching and shivering. I waited at the porch until somebody from inside should come out and I could take the door-latch from his hand in order to slip in unseen. Then I saw her: she was lying on the ground. We don't do that in our country. She was lying on the ground looking toward the golden wall veiling the secret, and she was praying.


Montetristo's last evening party has impressed itself indelibly on my memory. This is partly due, of course, to its extraordinary conclusion but in other ways as well the evening was unforgettable. acquaintance with the Marchesa a Waterman by birth, of Little Gidding, Ohio came about by a coincidence. I had sold her, through the intermediary of my


Herr von Perlhuhn (I mean of course the Abrahama-Santa Clara expert, not the neo-mystic), the bathtub in which Marat was murdered. It is perhaps not generally known that it had been until then in my possession. Gambling debts obliged me to offer it for sale. So it was that I came to the Marchesa who had long wanted this appliance for her collection of eighteenth-century washing utensils. This was the occasion of my getting to know her. From the friend,

bathtub our conversation soon passed to more general esthetic topics. I noticed that the possession of this collector's piece had given me a certain prestige in her eyes. And I was not surprised when one day I was invited to one of her famous parties in her palazzo on the artificial island of San Amerigo. The Marchesa had had the island thrown up a few miles southeast of Murano on a sudden whim, for she detested the makdand she said it was hurtful to her spiritual equilibrium, and she could find nothing to suit her in the existing stock of islands. So here she resided, devoting her life to the cult of the antique and forgotten, or, as she liked to put it, of the "true and eternal."


invitation card gave the time of the party as eight

— A

World Ends


o'clock, which meant that the guests were expected at ten. So custom ordered it. Further it ordered that the guests

come in gondolas. In this fashion, it is true, the crossing lasted nearly two hours and was moreover uncomfortshould


was rough, but these were unwritten rules no one but a barbarian would cavil and barbarians were not invited. Besides, many of the younger guests, not yet fully sensible of the dignity of the occasion, would hire a vaporetto to take them within a hundred yards of the island whence they were ferried over one by one in a gondola which had been brought in tow. The splendor of the building needs no description from me. For outside it was an exact replica of the Palazzo Vendramin, and inside every period, from the Gothic onward, was represented. But of course they were not intermingled. Each one had its own room. The Marchessa could really not be accused of breaches of style. Nor need the opulence of able

the sea

of behavior at which

the catering be referred to here.

Anyone who has

ever at-

tended a state banquet in a monarchy and it is to such that I principally address myself knows what it was like. Moreover it would hardly be true to the spirit of the Marchesa and her circle to mention the pleasures of the table, especially here, where I have to describe the last hours on earth of some of the most eminent figures of the age, which

sole survivor had the privilege to witness. After exchanging a few civilities with my hostess and stroking the long-haired Pekinese which never stirred from her side, I was introduced to the Dombrowska, a woman doubly famous, first for her contributions to the rhythmicexpressionist dance, a vanishing art form, and secondly as the author of the book Back ta Youth, which, as the title indicates, argued in favor of a return to youthfulness of style and which, I need hardly remind the reader, has won adherents far and wide. While we were chatting together, an elderly gentleman of upright bearing came up to us. It was Golch. The Golch. (Uimecessary to give further particulars of a man whose share in the enrichment of our inI as



is so widely known.) The Dombrowska introduced me: "Herr Sebald, the late owner of Marat's bathtub." My fame had spread. "Aha," said Golch. I inferred, from the inflection he gave to these syllables, that he was weighing my potentialities as a candidate for the cultural elite. I asked him how he had liked the exhibition of contemporary painting in Luxemburg. For one might, indeed one must, assume that those here assembled had seen, read, and heard everything of any real importance. That was why they were here. Golch raised his eyes as if looking for a word in space and said,

tellectual life


(He used

the English accentuation of the


which was then in fashion. The words "cliche" and "pastiche" too were pronounced ä Vanglaise. I don't know what the current usage is. I am now too much taken up with everyday

affairs to concern myself with such matters.) I noticed in any case that I had blundered in thus mentioning the contemporary. I had gone down a step, but I had


my lesson.

A move

was made to the


gnora Sgambati, the astrologer,



who had




a considerable stir by her theory that not only the fate of individuals but whole trends in the history of ideas could be read in the stars. She was no ordinary phenomenon, this Sgambati, as was at once clear from her appearance. Yet I find it incomprehensible in the circumstances that she did not see in the constellation of the heavens the imminent recently

engulfment of so many substantial members of the intellectual world. She was deep in conversation with Professor Kuntz-Sartori, the politician and royalist, who had been trying for decades to introduce a monarchy in Switzerland. Another notable figure. After taking some refreshment the company moved to the Silver Room for what was to be the climax of the evening's entertainment, a performance of a special kind the world premiere of two flute sonatas by Antonio Giambattista Bloch, a contemporary and friend of Rameau, who had been discovered by the musicologist Weltli. He too of course

A was

World Ends


They were played by

the flautist Beranger (yes, a descendant) and accompanied by the Marchesa herself, on there.

the self-same harpsichord

on which Celestine Rameau had

son into the fundamental principles of counterpoint, and which had been sent for from Paris. The flute too had a history, but I have forgotten it. The two performers had put on rococo costume for the occasion, and the little ensemble looked they had purposely so arranged themselves like a picture by Watteau. The performance of course took place by the dimmest of candlelight. There was not a person there who would have found electric light for such an occasion anything but intolerable. By a further sensitive whim of the Marchesa the guests were required after the first sonata (D major) to move over from the initiated her



(Baroque) to the Golden




coco), there to enjoy the second sonata. For the Silver Room had a major resonance, the Golden, it could not be disputed, a minor. At this point I must remark that the tedious elegance which clings to the flute sonatas of second-rank, and more particularly of newly discovered, masters of this period, was in the present case to be explained by the fact that no such person as Giambattista Bloch had ever lived. The works here performed had in reality been composed by the musicologist Weltli. Although this circumstance did not become known till later, I cannot, in retrospect, help feeling it a humiliation for the Marchesa that she should have employed her last moments in the interpretation, however masterly, of a forgery. During the second movement of the F minor sonata I saw a rat creeping along the wall. I was astonished. At first I thought it might have been lured from its hole by the sound such things do happen, they say but it was of the flute creeping in the opposite direction. It was followed by another rat. I looked at the guests. They had not noticed anything, and indeed most of them were keeping their eyes closed in order to be able to abandon themselves to the harmonies of Weltli's forgery. I now heard a dull reverbera-



tion, like very distant thunder. The floor began to vibrate. Again I looked at the guests. If they had heard anything and something they must be hearing it was at any rate not discernible from their hunched-up postures. I however was made uneasy by these strange symptoms. A manservant entered. This is barely the place to remark that in the unusual costume worn by the Marchesa's domestic staff he looked like a character out of Tosca. He went up to the performers and whispered something in the Marchesa's ear. I saw her turn pale. How well it suited her in the dim candlelight! But she controlled herself and without

interruption played the andante calmly to the end.

Then she

and addressed the company. "Ladies and gentlemen," she said, "I have just learnt that the foundations of the island and those of the palace with them are breaking up. The Office of Submarine Works has been informed. The right thing, I think we shall all agree, is to go on with the music." She sat down again, gave the sign to Monsieur Beranger, and they played the allegro con brio, the last movement, which did seem to me at the time, though I had yet no inkling that it was a forgery, little suited to the uniqueness


to the flautist, stood up,

of the situation. On the polished floor small puddles were forming. The reverberation had grown louder and sounded nearer. Most of the guests were now sitting upright, their faces ashen in if they were long dead alstood up and said, "I'm going," not so loud as to give offense to the musicians, but loud enough to intimate to the other guests that I had the courage to admit my fear. The floor was now almost evenly covered with water. Although I walked on tiptoe, I could not help splashing an evening dress or two as I passed. But, in view of what was soon to come, the damage I did must be reckoned inconsiderable. Few of the guests thought me worthy of a glance, but I did not care. As I opened the door to the passage a

the candlelight, and looking as ready.


into the room and caused Lady Fitzjones (the preserver of Celtic customs) to draw her fur

wave of water poured

A World Ends wrap more

closely about her

—no doubt

a reflex



could not be of any use. Before shutting the door beI saw Herr von Perlhuln (the neo-mystic, not the Abraham-a-Santa Clara expert) casting a half-contemptuous, half-melancholy glance in my direction. He too was now sitting in water almost to his knees. So was the Marchesa, who could no longer use the pedals. I do not as a matter of fact know how essential they are on the harpsichord. I remember thinking that if the piece had been a cello sonata, they would perforce have had to break it off here since the instrument would not sound in water. Strange what irrelevant thoughts occur to one in such moments. In the entrance hall it was suddenly as quiet as in a grotto, only in the distance a sound of rushing water was to be heard. I divested myself of my tail coat and was soon swimming through the sinking palace toward the portals. My splashes echoed mysteriously from the walls and columns. Not a soul was to be seen. Evidently the servants had all fled. And why should they not? They had no obligation to the true and eternal culture, and those assembled here had no further need of their services. Outside the moon shone as if nothing were amiss, and yet a world, no less, was here sinking beneath the ocean. As if at a great distance I could still hear the high notes of Monsieur Beranger's flute. He had a wonderful embouchure, that one must allow him. I unhitched the last gondola which the escaping servants had left behind and pushed out to sea. Through the windows past which I paddled the water was now flooding into for





had risen from their seats. an end, for they were clapping, their hands held high over their heads, since the water was now up to their chins. With dignity the Marchesa and Monsieur Beranger were acknowledging the applause, though in the circumstances they could not bow. The water had now reached the candles. Slowly they were extinguished, and as the darkness grew, it became quiet; the applause was silenced. Suddenly I heard the crash and roar the palace.


that the guests

The sonata must be




of a building in collapse.

The Palazzo was

the gondola seaward so as not to be hit


falling. I steered

plaster fragments.

After paddling some hundreds of yards across the lagoon San Giorgio, I turned round once more. The sea lay dead calm in the moonlight as if no island had ever stood there. pity about the bathtub, I thought, for that was a loss which could never be made good. The thought was perhaps rather heartless but experience teaches us that we need a certain distance from such events in order to appreciate their full scope. in the direction of the island of


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