Tells how Alraune lived in the park.
HE didn’t write his mother on that day, or the next, pushed it off for another week and further–for months. He lived in the large garden of the Brinkens, like he had done when he was a boy, when he had spent his school vacations there.
They sat in the warm green houses or under the mighty cedars, whose young sprouts had been brought from Lebanon by some pious ancestor, or strolled under the Mulberry trees, past a small pool that was deeply overshadowed by hanging willows.
The garden belonged to them that summer, to them alone, Alraune and him. The Fräulein had given strict orders that none of the servants were permitted to enter, not by day or by night. Not once were the gardeners called for. They were sent away into the city, charged with the maintenance of her gardens at her villas in Coblenz. The renters were very happy and amazed at the Fräulein’s attentiveness.
Only Frieda Gontram used the path. She never spoke a word about what she suspected but didn’t know. But her pinched lips and her evasive glance spoke loudly enough. She avoided meeting him on the path and yet was always there as soon as he was together with Alraune.
“What the blazes,” he grumbled. “I wish she was on top of mount Blocksberg!”
“Is she bothering you?” asked Alraune.
“Doesn’t she bother you?” he retorted.
She replied, “I haven’t noticed. I scarcely pay any attention to her.”
That evening he encountered Frieda Gontram by the blossoming blackthorns. She stood up from her bench and turned to go. Her gaze held a hot hatred.
He went up to her, “What is it Frieda?”
She said, “Nothing!–You can be satisfied now. You will soon be free of me.”
“Why is that?” he asked.
Her voice trembled, “I must go–tomorrow! Alraune told me that you didn’t want me here.”
An infinite misery spoke out of her glance.
“You wait here, Frieda. I will speak with her.”
He hurried into the house and came back after a short time.
“We have thought it over,” he began, “Alraune and I. It is not necessary that you go away–forever. Frieda, it’s only that I make you nervous with my presence–and you do the same for me, excuse me for saying it. That’s why it would be better if you go on a journey–only for awhile. Travel to Davos to visit your brother. Come back in two months.”
She stood up, looked at him with questioning eyes that were still full of fear.
“Is that the truth?” she whispered. “Only for two months?”
He answered, “Certainly it’s true. Why should I lie Frieda?”
She gripped his hand; a great joy made her face glow.
“I am very grateful to you!” she said. “Everything is alright then–as long as I am permitted to come back!”
She said, “Goodbye,” and headed for the house, stopped suddenly and came back to him.
“There is something else, Herr Doctor,” she said. “Alraune gave me a check this morning but I tore it up, because–because–in short, I tore it up. Now I will need some money. I don’t want to go to her–she would ask–and I don’t want her to ask. For that reason–will you give me the money?”
He nodded, “Naturally I will–Am I permitted to ask why you tore the check up?”
She looked at him, shrugged her shoulders.
“I wouldn’t have needed the money any more if I had to leave her forever–”
“Frieda,” he pressed, “where would you have gone?”
“Where?” A bitter laugh rang out from her thin lips. “Where? The same place Olga went! Only, believe me, doctor. I would have achieved my goal!”
She nodded lightly to him, walked away and disappeared between the birch trees.
Early, when the young sun woke him, he came out of his room in his kimono, went into the garden along the path that led past the trellis and into the rose bed. He cut white Boule de Neige roses, Queen Catharine roses, Victoria roses, Snow Queen roses and Merveille de Lyon roses. Then he turned left where the larches and the silver fir trees stood.
Alraune sat on the edge of the pool in a black silk robe, breaking breadcrumbs, throwing them to the goldfish. When he came she twined a wreath out of the pale roses, quickly and skillfully making a crown for her hair.
She threw off her robe, sat in her lace negligee and splashed in the cool water with her naked feet–She scarcely spoke, but she trembled as his fingers lightly caressed her neck, when his soft breath caressed her cheek. Slowly she took off the negligee and laid it on the bronze mermaid beside her.
Six water nymphs sat around the marble edge of the pool pouring water out of jugs and urns, spraying thin streams out of their breasts. Various animals crept around them, giant lobsters, spiny lobsters, turtles, fish, eels and other reptiles. In the middle of the pool Triton blew his horn as chubby faced merfolk blew mighty streams of water high into the air around him.
“Come, my friend,” she said.
Then they both climbed into the water. It was very cold and he shivered, his lips became blue and goose bumps quickly appeared on his arms. He had to swim vigorously, beat his arms and tread water to warm his blood and get accustomed to the unusual temperature.
But she didn’t even notice, was in her element in an instant and laughing at him. She swam around like a little frog.
“Turn the faucet on!” she cried.
He did it. There, near the pool’s edge, by the statue of Galatea, light waves came from the water as well as three other places in the pool. They boiled up a little, growing stronger and higher, climbing higher and higher, until they became enormous sparkling cascades of silvery rain, higher than the spouting streams of the mermen.
There she stood between all four, in the middle of a shimmering rain, like a sweet boy, slender and delicate. His long glance kissed her. There was no blemish in the symmetry of her limbs, not the slightest defect in this sweet work of art. Her color was in proportion as well, like white marble with a light breath of yellow. Only the insides of her thighs showed two curious rose colored lines.
“That’s where Dr. Petersen perished,” he thought.
He bent down, kneeled and kissed the rosy places.
“What are you thinking about?” she asked.
He said, “ I’m thinking that you are the fairy Melusine!–See the little mermaids around us–they have no legs, only long, scaly fish tails. They have no souls, these nymphs, but it is said that sometimes they love a human, some fisherman or wandering knight.
They love him so much that they come out of the water at high tide, out onto the land. Then they go to an old witch or shaman–that brews some nasty potion they have to drink. Then the shaman takes a sharp knife and begins to cut into the fish tail. It is very painful–very painful, but Melusine suppresses her pain. Her love is so great that she doesn’t complain, doesn’t cry out, until the pain becomes so great she loses consciousness. But when she awakes–her little tail is gone and she goes about on two beautiful legs–like a human–only the scars where the shaman cut are still visible.”
“But wasn’t she always still a nymph?” she asked. “Even with human legs?–And the sorcerer could never create a soul for her.”
“No,” he said. “He couldn’t do that, but there is something else they say of nymphs.”
“What do they say?” she asked.
He explained, “She only has her strange power as long as she is untouched. When she drowns in the kisses of her lover, when she looses her maidenhood in her knight’s embrace–then she looses her magic as well. She can no longer bring river gold and treasures but the black sorrow that followed her can no longer cross her threshold either. From then on she is like any other child of man–”
“If it only was!” she whispered.
She tore the white crown from her head, swam over to the mermen and Triton, to the water nymphs and threw the rose blossoms into their laps–
“Take them, sisters–take them!” she laughed. “I am a child of man–”
An enormous canopy bed stood in Alraune’s bedroom on low, baroque columns. Two pillars grew out of the foot and bore shelves that shown with golden flames. The engraved sides showed Omphale with Hercules in a woman’s dress as he waited on her, Perseus kissing Andromeda, Hephaestus catching Ares and Aphrodite in his net–Many tendrils of vines wove themselves in between and doves played in them–along with winged cherubs. The magnificent ancient bed, heavily gilt with gold, had been brought out of Lyons by Fräulein Hortense de Monthy when she became his great-grandfather’s wife.
He saw Alraune standing on a chair at the head of the bed, a heavy pliers in her hand.
“What are you doing with that?” he asked.
She laughed, “Just wait. I will soon be finished.”
She pounded and tore, carefully enough, at the golden figurine of Amor that hovered at the head of the bed with his bow and arrow. She pulled one nail out, then another, seized the little god, twisted him this way and that–until he came loose. She grabbed him, jumped down, laid him on top of the wardrobe, took out the Alraune manikin, clambered back up onto the chair again with it and fastened it to the head of the bed with wire and twine. Then she came back down and looked critically at her work.
“How do you like it?” she asked him.
“Why should the little man be there?” he retorted.
She said, “He belongs there!–I didn’t like the golden Cupid–That is for all the other people–I want to have Galeotto, my root manikin.”
“Why do you call it that?” he asked.
“Galeotto!” she replied. “Wasn’t it him that brought us together?–Now I want him to hang there, to watch over us through the night.”
Sometimes they went out riding in the evenings or also during the night if the moon was shining. They rode through the Sieben Gerberge mountain range or to Rolandseck and into the wilderness beyond.
Once they found a she-donkey at the foot of Dragon’s Rock in the Sieben Geberge mountain range. People there used the animal for riding up to the castle at the top. He bought her. She was a young animal, well cared for and glistened like fresh snow. Her name was Bianca. They took her with them, behind the horses on a long rope, but the animal just stood there, planting her forelegs like a stubborn mule, allowing herself to be choked and dragged along Finally they found a way to persuade her. In Kőnigswinter he bought a large bag full of sugar, took the rope off Bianca and let her run free. He threw her one piece of sugar after the other from out of the saddle. Soon the she-donkey ran after them, keeping itself tight to his stirrup, snuffling at his boots.
Old Froitsheim took the pipe out of his mouth as they came up, spit thoughtfully and grinned agreeably.
“An ass,” he chewed. “A young ass! It’s been almost thirty years since we’ve had one here in the stable. You know, young Master, how I used to let you ride old gray Jonathan?” He got a bunch of carrots and gave them to the animal, stroking her shaggy fur.
“What’s her name, young Master?” he asked.