Renders to the reader the end of the Privy Councilor through Alraune.
On leap year night a storm blew in over the Rhine. Coming in from the south it seized the ice flows, pushing them downstream, piling them on top of each other and crashing them against the old toll bridge. It tore the roof off the Jesuit church, blew down ancient linden trees in the courtyard garden, loosened the moorings of the strong pontoon boat of the swimming school and dashed it to pieces on the mighty pillars of the stone bridge.
The storm chased through Lendenich as well. Three chimneys tumbled down from the community center and old Hahnenwirt’s barn was destroyed. But the worst thing it did was to the house of ten Brinken. It blew out the eternal lamps that burned at the shrine of St. John of Nepomuk.
That had never been seen before, not in the several hundred years that the Manor house had stood. The devout villagers quickly refilled the lamps and lit them again the next morning, but they said it portended a great misfortune and the end of the Brinken’s was certain.
That night had proven that the Saint had now turned his hand away from the Lutheran house. No storm in the world could have extinguished those lamps unless he allowed it.
It was an omen, that’s what the people said. But some whispered that it hadn’t been the storm winds at all. The Fräulein had been outside around midnight–she had extinguished the lamps.
But it appeared as if the people were wrong in their prophecies. Large parties were held in the mansion even though it was lent. All the windows were brightly lit one night after the other. Music could be heard along with laughter and loud singing.
The Fräulein demanded it. She needed distraction, she said, after her bereavement and the Privy Councilor did as she wished. He crept behind her where ever she went. It was almost as if he had taken over Wőlfchen’s role.
His squinting glance sought her out when she stepped into the room and followed her when she left. She noticed how the hot blood crept through his old veins, laughed brightly and tossed her head. Her moods became more capricious and her demands became more exaggerated.
The old man handled it by always demanding something in return, having her tickle his bald head or play her quick fingers up and down his arm, demanding that she sit on his lap or even kiss him. Time after time he urged her to come dressed as a boy.
She came in riding clothes, in her lace clothing from the Candlemass ball, as a fisher boy with opened shirt and naked legs, or as an elevator boy in a red, tight fitting uniform that showed off her hips. She also came as a mountain climber, as Prince Orlowski, as Nerissa in a court clerk’s gown, as Piccolo in a black dress suit, as a Rococo page, or as Euphorion in tricots and blue tunic.
The Privy Councilor would sit on the sofa and have her walk back and forth in front of him. His moist hands rubbed across his trousers, his legs slid back and forth on the carpet and with bated breath he would search for a way to begin–
She would stand there looking at him, challenging him, and under her gaze he would back down. He searched in vain but could not find the words that would cover his disgusting desires and veil them in a cute little jacket.
Laughing mockingly she would leave–as soon as the door latch clicked shut, as soon as he heard her clear laughter on the stairs–the thoughts would come to him. Then it was easy, then he knew exactly what to say, what he should have said. He often called out after her–sometimes she even came back.
“Well?” she asked.
But it didn’t work; again it didn’t work.
“Oh, nothing,” he grumbled.
That was it, his confidence had failed him. He searched around for some other victim just to convince himself that he was still master of his old skills. He found one, the little thirteen-year-old daughter of the tinsmith that had been brought to the house to repair some kettles.
“Come along, little Marie,” he said. “There is something I want to give you.”
He pulled her into the library. After a half hour the little one slunk past him in the hall like a sick, wild animal with wide open, staring eyes, pressing herself tightly against the wall–
Triumphant, with a broad smile, the Privy Councilor stepped across the courtyard, back into the mansion. Now he was confident–but now Alraune avoided him, came up when he seemed calm but pulled back confused when his eyes flickered.
“She plays–she’s playing with me!” grated the professor.
Once, as she stood up from the table he grabbed her hand. He knew exactly what he wanted to say, word for word–yet forgot it instantly. He got angry at himself, even angrier at the haughty look the girl gave him.
Quickly, violently, he sprang up, twisted her arm around and threw her screaming down onto the divan. She fell–but was back on her feet again before he could get to her. She laughed, laughed so shrilly and loudly that it hurt his ears. Then without a word she stepped out of the room.
She stayed in her rooms, wouldn’t come out for tea, not to dinner. She was not seen for days. He pleaded at her door–said nice things to her, implored and begged. But she wouldn’t come out. He pushed letters in to her, swore and promised her more and still more, but she didn’t answer.
One day after he had whimpered for hours before her door she finally opened it.
“Be quiet,” she said. “It bothers me–what do you want?”
He asked for forgiveness, said it had been a sudden attack, that he had lost control over his senses–
She spoke quietly, “You lie!”
Then he let all masks fall, told her how he desired her, how he couldn’t breathe without her around, told her that he loved her.
She laughed out loud at him but agreed to negotiate and made her conditions. He still searched here and there trying to find ways to get an advantage.
“Once, just once a week she should come dressed as a boy–”
“No,” she cried. “Any day if I want to–or not at all if I don’t want to.”
That was when he knew he had lost and from that day on he was the Fräulein’s slave, without a will of his own. He was her obedient hound, whimpering around her, eating the crumbs that she deliberately knocked off the table for him. She allowed him to run around in his own home like an old mangy animal that lived on charity–only because no one cared enough to kill it.
She gave him her commands, “Purchase flowers, buy a motorboat. Invite these gentlemen on this day and these others on the next. Bring down my purse.”
He obeyed and felt richly rewarded when she suddenly came down dressed as an Eton boy with a high hat and large round collar, or if she stretched out her little patent leather shoes so he could tie the silk laces.
Sometimes when he was alone he would wake up. He would slowly lift his ugly head, shake it back and forth and brood about what had happened. Hadn’t he become accustomed to rule for generations? Wasn’t his will law in the house of ten Brinken?
To him it was as if a tumor had swelled up in the middle of his brain and crushed his thoughts or some poisonous insect had crawled in through his ears or nose and stung him. Now it whirled around right in front of his face, mockingly buzzed in front of his eyes–why didn’t he kill it?
He got half way up, struggling with resolution.
“This must come to an end,” he murmured.
But he forgot everything as soon as he saw her. Then his eyes opened, his ears grew sharp, listening for the rustle of her silk. Then his mighty nose sniffed the air greedily, taking in the fragrance of her body, making his old fingers tremble, making him lick the spittle from his lips with his tongue.
All of his senses crept toward her, eagerly, lecherously, poisonously, filled with loathsome vices and perversions–that was the strong cord on which she held him.
Herr Sebastian Gontram came out to Lendenich and found the Privy Councilor in the library.
“You have got to be careful,” he said. “We are going to have a lot of trouble getting things back in order. You should be a little more concerned about it, your Excellency.”
“I have no time,” answered the Privy Councilor.
“That’s not good enough,” said Herr Gontram quietly. “You must have some time for this. You haven’t taken care of anything this past week, just let everything go. Be careful your Excellency, it could cost you dearly.”
“Ok,” sneered the Privy Councilor. “What is it then?”
“I just wrote you about it,” answered the Legal Councilor. “But it seems you don’t read my letters any more. The former director of the Wiesbaden museum has written a brochure, as you know, in which he has made all kinds of assertions. For that he was brought in front of the court. He moved to have the pieces in question examined by experts. Now the commission has examined your pieces and for the most part they have been declared forgeries. All the newspapers are full of it. The accused will certainly be acquitted.”
“Let him be,” said the Privy Councilor.
“That’s all right with me, your Excellency, if that is what you want!” Gontram continued, “But he has already filed a new suit against you with the District Attorney and the authorities must act on it.
By the way, that is not everything, not by far. In the Gerstenberger foundry bankruptcy case the bankruptcy administrator has placed an accusation against you on the basis of several documents. You are being accused of concealing financial records, swindling and cheating. A similar accusation has been filed, as you know, by the Karpen brickworks.
Finally Attorney Kramer, representing the tinsmith Hamecher, has succeeded in having the District Attorney’s office order a medical examination of his little daughter.
“The child lies,” cried the professor. “She is a hysterical brat.”
“All the better,” nodded the Legal Councilor. “Then your innocence will surely come out.
A little more distant there is a lawsuit by the merchant Matthiesen for damages and reimbursements of fifty thousand Marks that comes with another accusation of fraud.
In a new lawsuit in the case of Plutus manufacturing the opposing attorney is charging you with falsification of documents and has declared as well that he wants to take the necessary steps to bring it into criminal court.
You see, your Excellency, how the cases multiply when you don’t come into the office for a long time. Scarcely a day goes by without something new being filed.”
“Are you finished yet?” the Privy Councilor asked.
“No,” said Herr Gontram calmly, “absolutely not. Those were only some little flowers from the beautiful bouquet that is waiting for you in the city. I advise your Excellency, insist that you come in. Don’t take these things so lightly.”
But the Privy Councilor answered, “I told you already that I don’t have any time. You really shouldn’t bother me with these trifles and just leave me alone.”
The Legal Councilor rose up, put his documents in his leather portfolio and closed it slowly.