But Alraune ten Brinken had never been so healthy. During this time she put on weight, positively blossomed and gaily ran around through all the sick rooms. No one troubled themselves over her during these weeks as she ran up and down the stairs, sat on all the beds and told the children that they were going to die the next day and go to hell. While she, Alraune would continue to live and go to heaven.
She gave away all of her pictures of the saints telling the sick girls that they could diligently pray to the Madonna and to the sacred heart of Jesus–but it wouldn’t do them any good. They would still heartily burn and roast–It was simply amazing how vividly she could describe these torments. Sometimes when she was in a good mood she would be generous. Then she would promise them only a hundred thousand years in purgatory. That was bad enough for the minds of the pious sick little girls.
The doctor finally unceremoniously threw Alraune out of the rooms. The sisters were absolutely convinced that she had brought the illness into the convent and sent her head over heels back home.
The professor was tickled and laughed over this report. He became a little more serious when shortly after the child’s arrival two of his maids contracted typhus and both soon died in the hospital.
He wrote an angry letter to the supervisor of the convent and complained bitterly that under the existing circumstances they should have never sent the little one back home. He refused to pay the tuition payment for the last half of the year and energetically insisted that he be reimbursed for the monies he had put out for his two sick maids–From a sanitary point of view the sisters should not have been permitted to act as they had done.
His Excellency ten Brinken did not handle things much differently. While he was not exactly afraid of contagion, like all doctors he would much rather observe illness in others than in his own body. He let Alraune stay in Lendenich only until he found a good finishing school in the city. By the fourth day he had already sent her to Spa, to the illustrious Institute of Mlle. de Vynteelen.
Silent Aloys had to escort her. As far as the child was concerned the trip went without incident but he did have two little incidents to report. On the train trip there he had found a pocket book with several pieces of silver and on the trip back home he had slammed his finger in the compartment door of the car he was riding in. The Privy Councilor nodded in satisfaction at Aloy’s report.
The Head Mistress was Fräulein Becker who had grown up in the University City on the Rhine and always went back there on her vacations. She had much to relate to the Privy Councilor over the years that Alraune stayed with her.
Right from the first day that Alraune arrived in the ancient building on Marteau Avenue her dominion began and it was not only imposed on her schoolmates. It was also imposed on the instructors, most especially over the Miss, who after only a few weeks had become a plaything for the absurd moods of the little girl, without any will of her own.
At breakfast on that very first day Alraune declared that she didn’t like honey and marmalade and much more preferred butter. Naturally Mlle. de Vynteelen didn’t give her any. It was only a few days until several of the other girls began to crave butter as well. Finally a large cry for butter went up throughout the entire Institute.
Even Miss Paterson, who had never in her life enjoyed anything with her morning tea other than toast with jam suddenly felt an uncontrollable desire for butter. So the principal had been obliged to give in to the demand for butter but on that very same day Alraune acquired a preference for orange marmalade.
In response to the Privy Councilor’s pointed question Fräulein Becker declared that the torturing of animals never came up during those years at the Vynteelen School. At least no incidents had ever been discovered. On the other hand, Alraune had made the lives of the other children miserable as well as those of all the instructors, both male and female.
Especially the poor music instructor who always placed his snuffbox on the mantel in the hall during class so he would not be tempted to use it. From the moment of Alraune’s entrance into the school the most remarkable things had been found in it. For example, thick spider webs, wood lice, gunpowder, pepper, writing sand black with ink and once even a chopped up millipede. Several girls were caught doing it and punished–but never Alraune.
Yet she always showed a passive resistance toward the musician, never practiced and during class laid her hands in her lap and never raised them to play an instrument. But when the professor finally complained in despair to the principal Alraune quietly declared that the old man was lying. At that point Mlle. de Vynteelen personally attended the next hour and saw that the little girl knew her lesson exquisitely, could play better than any of the others and showed a remarkable talent.
The Head Mistress reproached the music instructor heavily. He stood there speechless and could say nothing other than, “But it is incredible, incredible!”
From then on the little schoolgirls only called him “Monsieur Incredible”. They called after him whenever they saw him and pronounced the words like he did, as if they didn’t have any teeth in their mouths either.
As for the Miss, she scarcely ever experienced a quiet day. New stupid pranks were always being played on her. They sprinkled itch powder in her bed and one time after a picnic placed a half dozen fleas in it. Then the key to her wardrobe was missing, then the hooks and eyelets were torn from the dress that she wanted to wear. Once as she was going to bed she was almost frightened to death by an effervescent powder reaction in her chamber pot. Another time so many stinging insects flew through her open window that she screamed out for help. Then the chair she sat on was smeared with paint or with glue or she found a dead mouse or an old chicken head in her pocket.
And so it merrily continued, the poor Miss could hardly enjoy an hour of her life. Investigations took place and those girls found guilty were always punished but it was never determined to be Alraune even though everyone was convinced that she was the mastermind behind all the pranks.
The only one that angrily rejected this suspicion was the English woman herself. She swore the girl was innocent up until the day she left the de Vynteelen Institute.
“This hell,” she said, “only shelters one sweet little angel.”
The Privy Councilor grinned as he noted in the leather volume, “That sweet little angel is Alraune.”
As for herself, Fräulein Becker related to the Professor that she had avoided coming into contact with the strange little creature from the very start. That had been easy for her since she was mostly occupied in working with the French and English students. She only had to instruct Alraune in gymnastics and sewing. As for the latter subject, she had quickly exempted her from it when she had seen that not only did Alraune have no interest in sewing, she showed a downright aversion to it.
But in calisthenics, which by the way Alraune always excelled in, she always acted as if she never noticed the joking around the child did. She only once had a little confrontation with her and that was just after Alraune’s entrance into the school. She had to confess that unfortunately Araune had gotten the better of her.
By chance she had overheard Alraune telling her schoolmates about her stay in the convent. The boasting and cheeky bragging was so abominable that she took it as her duty to intervene. On one hand the little one told how splendid and magnificent the convent was and on the other hand she told truly murderous stories about the various misdeeds of the pious sisters.
She herself had been brought up in the Sacré Couer convent in Nancy and knew very well how simple and plain it was and knew as well that the nuns were the most harmless creatures in the world. So she called Alraune into her office and reproached her for telling such fraudulent stories. She also demanded that the girl immediately tell her schoolmates that she had not been telling the truth. When Alraune stubbornly refused, she declared that she would tell them herself.
At that Alraune rose up on her toes, looked straight at her and quietly said, “If you tell them that, Fräulein, I will tell them that your mother has a little cheese shop in her home.”
Fräulein Becker confessed that she had become weak and given in to a false shame. She let the child have her way. There had been something so deliberate and calculated in the soft voice of the child in that moment that she had become afraid. She left Alraune standing there and went to her room happy to avoid an outright quarrel with the little creature.
It wasn’t long before she received her deserved punishment for denying her good mother. By the next day Alraune had already told all the students about her mother’s cheese shop and it cost a lot of effort to again win back the respect which she lost throughout the Institute.
But things were much worse for Alraune’s schoolmates then they were for the instructors. There was not one student in the entire school that had not suffered because of her. Strangely enough it appeared that every new bit of mischief seemed to make her even more popular. She made a point to sacrifice everyone that appeared to stand against her until they were all on her side. She was more popular than any of the other girls.
Fräulein Becker reported some of the worst cases to the Privy Councilor and they were mentioned in the leather volume.
Blanche de Banville had just returned from vacation with her parents in Picardy. The hot-blooded fourteen-year-old had fallen head over heels in love with her cousin who was the same age as she was. She wrote to him from Spa as well and he answered, addressing her letters B.d.B., hold at post office until claimed by addressee. Then he must have found something better to do with his time, in any case no more letters came.
Both Alraune and little Louison knew about her secret. Naturally Blanche was very unhappy and cried through entire nights. Louison sat with her and tried to comfort her. But Alraune declared that it was wrong to console her, her cousin had been unfaithful and betrayed her. Now Blanche needed to die of unrequited love. That was the only way to repay her false lover and make things right. Then for the rest of his life he would be tormented by the furies. She knew several famous stories where it had been like that.
Blanche was agreeable to the dying part but it did not go well. Food always tasted good to her despite her great pain. That’s when Alraune declared that if Blanche couldn’t die of a broken heart she must find some other way to bring it about. She recommended a dagger or a pistol–but they didn’t have either one.
Blanche could not be persuaded to jump out the window, push a hatpin into her heart or hang herself. She just wanted to swallow something, nothing else. Soon Alraune had some new advice. There was a bottle of Lysol in Mlle. de Vynteelen’s medicine chest–Louison must steal it. Unfortunately there was only a little bit left in the bottle so Louison had to scratch the phosphorus heads off a couple boxes of matches as well.
Blanche wrote several farewell letters, one to her parents, the principal and her traitorous lover. Then she drank the Lysol and swallowed the matchheads–They both tasted horrible enough. Just to be certain Alraune had her swallow three packets of needles–She herself, by the way, was not present at this suicide attempt. She had gone to her room under the pretence of being a lookout after Blanche had sworn on the crucifix to follow her instructions exactly.
That evening little Louison sat on the bed with her friend. Crying miserably she handed over first the Lysol, then the match heads and finally the packets of needles. Blanche became very ill from these threefold poisons and was soon writhing and screaming in pain. Louison screamed with her and their screams roared through the entire house. Then she ran out of the room and fetched the Head Mistress and the teachers yelling that Blanche was dying.
Blanche de Banville did not die. A capable doctor quickly gave her an effective emetic that brought the Lysol, phosphorus and needle packets back up again. Still, one of the needle packets had opened up in her stomach and a half dozen needles had gotten loose. They wandered through her body and in the course of her life came out again in all kinds of places painfully reminding the little suicide of her first love.
Blanche lay in bed sick for a long time and had a lot of pain. It appeared that she had been punished enough. Everyone sympathized with her, was good to her and granted her slightest wish. She wished for nothing else but that her two friends that had helped her, Alraune and little Louison, not be punished. She pleaded and begged for so long that the principal finally promised. That was why Alraune was not thrown out of the school.
Then it was Hilde Aldekerk’s turn. She loved the Berlin style cakes that were sold in the German confectionery at Place Royal. She claimed she could eat twenty. Alraune bet that she couldn’t polish off thirty. Whoever lost the bet had to pay for the cakes. Hilde Aldekerk won–but she got so sick that she had to stay in bed fourteen days.
“Glutton,” said Alraune ten Brinken. “It serves you right!”
From that point on the only thing all the little girls called fat, round Hilda was “Glutton”. She howled about it for awhile but then got used to her new nickname and finally became one of Alraune’s most faithful companions, just like Blanche de Banville.
Fräulein Becker reported that Alraune had only one time been seriously punished at the school and strangely enough, unjustly. On a full moon night the French teacher stumbled out of her room terrified. She woke the entire household with her screams and yelled that a white ghost was sitting on the balustrade of her balcony. No one would go into her room until they finally woke up the porter who armed himself with a club and went inside.
The ghost turned out to be Alraune who was sitting there in her white night gown and staring with wide-open eyes into the moon. She could not say how she got there. The principal took the playing ghost as a very bad prank. Only much later did it come out that the girl had been seen on several different occasions sleep walking under the influence of the full moon.
Interestingly enough Alraune accepted this unjust punishment–to copy a chapter out of “Tèlèmaque”–without protest and conscientiously carried it out on a free afternoon. She would have most certainly rebelled and resisted any just punishment.
Fräulein Becker concluded, “I fear that your Excellency will not experience much joy from your daughter in the future.”
The Privy Councilor replied, “That might well be, but up to now I believe that I am very well satisfied with her.”
He did not let Alraune come home for vacation the last two years. Instead he permitted her to travel with her school friends, once to Scotland with Maude McPherson, then with Blanche to her parents in Paris and finally with the two Rodenburgs to their family estate in Münster.
He didn’t have any reports from these episodes in Alraune’s life and could only imagine how she occupied herself during these vacations. It was a satisfaction to him to think of how this creature he had created extended her influence outward in ever expanding circles.
In the newspaper he read that during the summer in which Alraune was at Boltenhagen the green and white colors of the old Count Rodenberg did exceedingly well at the track and his stud brought in a considerable winnings.
He also learned that Mlle. de Vynteelen had received an unexpected inheritance that placed her in the position of needing to close the school so she didn’t take any new students and only kept her old students until they graduated.
He attributed both of these things to the presence of Alraune and was half convinced that she brought gold into the other houses she had stayed at, the convent in Nancy, at Reverend McPherson in Edinburgh and the home of the Banvilles on Haussmann Boulevarde. She had made good threefold on her little deviltries.
He felt that all these people ought to feel gratitude to his child, this strange girl that went abroad out into the world bringing gifts and strewing roses upon the life paths of all those that had the fortune to meet her. He laughed as it occurred to him that those roses also had sharp thorns capable on inflicting many beautiful wounds as well.
“By the way,” he asked Fräulein Becker. “How are things going with your dear mother?”
“Why thank you for asking, your Excellency,” she answered. “Mother can’t complain. Her business has grown considerably better during the last few years!”
“Really,” said the Privy Councilor and he gave orders that all cheeses, the Emmenthall, Roquefort, Chester and old Höllander, from now on were to be purchased from Frau Becker on Münster Street.