Informs how Frank Braun persuaded the Privy Councilor to create Alraune
They sat in the carriage, Professor Ten Brinken and his nephew. They didn’t speak. Frank Braun leaned back staring straight ahead, sunk deeply into his thoughts. The Privy Councilor was observing, squinting over at him watchfully.
The trip lasted scarcely half an hour. They rolled along the open road, turned to the right, went downhill over the rough road to Lendenich. There in the middle of the village lay the birthplace of the Brinken family.
It was a large, almost square complex with gardens and a park. Back from the street stood a row of insignificant old buildings. They turned around a corner past a shrine of the patron Saint of the village, the Holy Saint John of Nepomuk. His statue was decorated with flowers and lit with two eternal lamps that were placed in niches by the corners.
The horses stopped in front of a large mansion. A servant shut the fenced gate behind them and opened the carriage door.
“Bring us some wine Aloys,” commanded the Privy Councilor. “We will be in the library.”
He turned to his nephew. “Will you be sleeping here Frank? Or should the carriage wait?”
The student shook his head, “Neither, I will go back to the city on foot.”
They walked across the courtyard, entered the lower level of the house at a door on the right hand side. It was literally a great hall with a tiny antechamber and a couple of other small rooms nearby.
The walls were lined with long immense shelves containing thousands of books. Low glass cases stood here and there full of Roman artifacts. Many graves had been emptied, robbed of their cherished and carefully preserved treasures. The floor was covered in thick carpet. There were a couple of desks, armchairs and sofas that stood scattered around the room.
They entered. The Privy Councilor threw his alraune on a divan. They lit candles, pulled a couple of chairs together and sat down. The servant uncorked a dusty bottle.
“You can go,” said his master. “But don’t go too far. The young gentleman will be leaving and you will need to let him out.”
“Well?” he turned to his nephew.
Frank Braun drank. He picked the root manikin up and toyed with it. It was still a little moist and appeared to be almost flexible.
“It is clear enough,” he murmured. “There are the eyes–both of them. The nose pokes up there and that opening is the mouth. Look here Uncle Jakob. Doesn’t it look as if it is smiling? The arms are somewhat diminutive and the legs have grown together at the knees. It is a strange thing.”
He held it high, turned it around in all directions.
“Look around Alraune!” he cried. “This is your new home. You will be much happier here with Herr Jakob ten Brinken than you were in the house of the Gontrams.”
“You are old,” he continued. “four hundred, perhaps six hundred years old or even more. Your father was hung because he was a murderer or a horse thief, or else because he made fun of some great knight in armor or in priestly robes.
The important thing is that he was a criminal in his time and they hanged him. At the last moment of his life his seed fell to the earth and created you, you strange creature. Then your mother earth took the seed of this criminal into her fertile womb, secretly fashioned and gave birth to you.
You the great, the all-powerful–Yes you, you miserable ugly creature!–Then they dug you up at the midnight hour, at the crossroads, shaking in terror at your howling, shrieking screams.
The first thing you saw as you looked around in the moonlight was your father hanging there on the gallows with a broken neck and his rotting flesh hanging in tatters.
They took you with them, these people that had tied the noose around your father. They held you, carried you home. You were supposed to bring money into their house. Blood money and young love.
They knew well that you would bring pain, misery, despair and in the end a horrible death. They knew it and still they wanted you, still they dug you up, still they took you home, selling their souls for love and money.”
The Privy Councilor said, “You have a beautiful way of seeing things my boy. You are a dreamer.”
“Yes,” said the student. “That’s what I am–just like you.”
“Like me?” the professor laughed. “Now I think that part of my life is long gone.”
But his nephew shook his head, “No Uncle Jakob. It isn’t. Only you can make real what other people call fantastic. Just think of all your experiments! For you it is more like child’s play that may or may not lead to some purpose.
But never, never would a normal person come up with your ideas. Only a dreamer could do it–and only a savage, a wildman, that has the hot blood of the Brinkens flowing through his veins. Only he would dare attempt what you should now do Uncle Jakob.”
The old man interrupted him, indignant and yet at the same time flattered.
“You crazy boy!–You don’t even know yet if I will have any desire to do this mysterious thing you keep talking about and I still don’t have the slightest idea what it is!”
The student didn’t pause, his voice rang lightly, confidently and every syllable was convincing.
“Oh, you will do it Uncle Jakob. I know that you will do it, will do it because no one else can, because you are the only person in the world that can make it happen. There are certainly a few other professors that are attempting some of the same things you have already done, perhaps even gone further.
But they are normal people, dry, wooden–men of science. They would laugh in my face if I came to them with my idea, would chide me for being a fool. Or else they would throw me completely out the door, because I would dare come to them with such things, such thoughts, thoughts that they would call immoral and objectionable. Such ideas that dare trespass on the craft of the Great Creator and play a trick on all of nature.
You will not laugh at me Uncle Jakob, not you! You will not laugh at me or throw me out the door. It will fascinate you the same way it fascinates me. That’s why you are the only person that can do it!”
“But what then, by all the gods,” cried the Privy Councilor, “what is it?”
The student stood up, filled both glasses to the rims.
“A toast, old sorcerer,” he cried. “A toast! To a newer, younger wine that will flow out of your glass tubes. Toast, Uncle Jakob to your new living alraune–your new child!”
He clinked his glass against his uncle’s, emptied it in a gulp and threw it high against the ceiling where it shattered. The shards fell soundlessly on the heavy carpet.
He pulled his chair closer.
“Now listen uncle and I will tell you what I mean. I know you are really impatient with my long introduction–Don’t think ill of me. It has helped me put my thoughts in order, to stir them up, to make them comprehensible and tangible.
Here it is:
You should create a living alraune, Uncle Jakob, turn this old legend into reality. Who cares if it is superstition, a ghostly delusion of the Middle Ages or mystic flim-flam from ancient times?
You, you can make the old lies come true. You can create it. It can stand there in the light of day tangible for all the world to see–No stupid professor would be able to deny it.
Now pay attention, this is what needs to be done!
The criminal, uncle, you can find easily enough. I don’t think it matters if he dies on a gallows at a crossroads. We are a progressive people. Our prisons and guillotine are convenient, convenient for you as well. Thanks to your connections it will be easy to obtain and save the rare seed of the dead that will bring forth new life.
And Mother Earth?–What is her symbol? What does she represent? She is fertility, uncle. The earth is the feminine, the woman. She takes the semen, takes it into her womb, nourishes it, lets it germinate, grow, bloom and bear fruit. So you take what is fertile like the earth herself–take a woman.
But Mother Earth is the eternal prostitute, she serves all. She is the eternal mother, is always for sale, the prostitute of billions. She refuses her lascivious love to none, offers herself gladly to anyone that will take her. Everything that lives has been fertilized in her glorious womb and she has given birth to it. It has always been this way throughout the ages.
That is why you must use a prostitute Uncle Jakob. Take the most shameless, the cheekiest one of them all. Take one that is born to be a whore, not one that is driven to her profession or one that is seduced into it for money. Oh no, not one of those. Take one that is already wanton, that learns as she goes, one whose shame is her greatest pleasure and reason for living. You must choose her. Only her womb would be like the mother earth’s. You know how to find her. You are rich–You are no school boy in these things.
You can pay her a lot of money, purchase her services for your research. If she is the right one she will reel with laughter, will press her greasy bosom against you and kiss you passionately–She will do this because you have offered her something that no other man has offered her before.
You know better than I what happens then, how to bring about with humans what you have already done with monkeys and guinea pigs. Get everything ready, ready for the moment when the murderer’s bleeding head springs into the basket!”
He jumped up, leaned over the table, looked across at his uncle with intense forceful eyes. The Privy Councilor caught his gaze, parried it with a squint like a curved dirty scimitar parries a supple foil.
“What then nephew?” he said. “And then after the child comes into the world? What then?”
The student hesitated, his words dripped slowly, falling, “Then–we–will–have–a–magickal–creature.”
His voice swung lightly, yielding and reverberating like musical tones.
“Then we will see what truth there is in the old legend, get a glimpse into the deepest bowels of nature.”
The Privy Councilor opened his lips to speak but Frank Braun wouldn’t let him get a word in.
“Then we can prove whether there is something, some mysterious power that is stronger than all the laws of science that we know. We can prove whether this life is worth the trouble to live–especially for us.”
“Especially for us?” the professor repeated.
Frank Braun said, “Yes Uncle Jakob–especially for us! For you and for me–and the few hundred other people that stand as Masters over their lives–and then prove it even for the enslaved, the ones on the street, for the rest of the herd.”
Then suddenly, abruptly, he asked, “Uncle Jakob, do you believe in God?”
The Privy Councilor clicked his lips impatiently, “Do I believe in God? What does that have to do with it?”
But his nephew pressed him, wouldn’t let him brush it away, “Answer me Uncle Jakob, answer. Do you believe in God?”
He bent down closer to the old man, held him fast in his gaze.
The Privy Councilor said, “What do you mean boy? According to the understanding that everyone else uses, what I recognize as true and believe is most certainly not God. There is only a feeling–but that feeling is so uncontrollable, something so–”
“Yes, yes, uncle,” cried the student. “What about this feeling?”
The professor resisted like always, moved back and forth in his chair.
“Well, if I must speak candidly–there are times–very rare–with long stretches in between–”
Frank Braun cried, “You believe–You do believe in God! Oh, I knew it! All the Brinkens do–all of them up to you.”
He threw up his head, raised his lips high showing rows of smooth shiny teeth, and pushed out every word forcefully.
“Then you will do it Uncle Jakob. Then you must do it and I don’t need to speak with you any more about it. It is something that has been given to you, one out of a million people. It is possible for you–possible for you to play at being God!
If your God is real and lives he must answer you for your impertinence, for daring to do such a thing!”
He became quiet, went back and forth with large strides through the long room. Then he took up his hat and went up to the old man.
“Good night Uncle Jakob,” he said. “Will you do it?”
He reached out his hand to him but the old man didn’t see it. He was staring into space, brooding.
“I don’t know,” he answered finally.
Frank Braun took the alraune from the table, shoved it into the old man’s hands. His voice rang mocking and haughty.
“Here, consult with this!”
But the next moment the cadence of his voice was different.
Quietly he said, “Oh, I know you will do it.”
He strode quickly to the door, stopped there a moment, turned around and came back.
“Just one more thing Uncle Jakob, when you do it–”
But the Privy Councilor burst out, “I don’t know whether I’ll do it.”
“Ok,” said the student. “I won’t ask you any more about it. But just in case you should decide to do it–will you promise me something?”
“What?” the professor inquired.
He answered, “Please don’t let the princess watch!”
“Why not?” the Privy Councilor asked.
Frank Braun spoke softly and earnestly, “Because–because these things–are sacred.”
Then he left. He stepped out of the house and crossed the courtyard. The servant opened the gate and it rattled shut behind him.
Frank Braun walked down the street, stopped before the shrine of the Saint and examined it.
“Oh, Blessed Saint,” he said. “People bring you flowers and fresh oil for your lamps. But this house doesn’t care for you, doesn’t care if your shelter is preserved. You are regarded only as an antique. It is well for you that the folk still believe in you and in your power.”
Then he sang softly, reverently:
“John of Nepomuk
Protector from dangerous floods.
Protect my house!
Guard it from rising waters.
Let them rage somewhere else.
John of Nepomuk
Protect my house!”
“Well old idol,” he continued. “You have it easy protecting this village from dangerous floods since the Rhine lays three quarters of an hour from here and since it is so regular and runs between stone levies.
But try anyway, John of Nepomuk. Try to save this house from the flood that shall now break over it! See, I love you, Saint of stone, because you are my mother’s patron Saint.
She is called Johanna Nepomucema, also called Hubertina so she will never get bitten by a mad dog. Do you remember how she came into this world in this house, on the day that is sacred to you? That is why she carries your name, John of Nepomuk! And because I love her, my Saint–I will warn you for her sake.
You know that tonight another Saint has come inside, an unholy one. A little manikin, not of stone like you and not beautifully enshrined and dressed in garments–It is only made of wood and pathetically naked. But it is as old as you, perhaps even older and people say that it has a strange power. So try, Saint Nepomuk, give us a demonstration of your power!
One of you must fall, you or the manikin. It must be decided who is Master over the house of Brinken. Show us, my Saint, what you can do.”
Frank Braun bowed, paid his respects, crossed himself, laughed shortly and went on with quick strides through the street. He came up to a field, breathed deeply the fresh night air and began walking toward the city. In an avenue under blooming chestnuts he slowed his steps, strolled dreamily, softly humming as he went along.
Suddenly he stopped, hesitated a moment. He turned around, looked quickly both ways, swung up onto a low wall, sprang down to the other side and, ran through a still garden up to a wide red villa.
He stopped there, pursed his lips and his wild short whistle chased through the night, twice, three times, one right after the other. Somewhere a hound began to bark. Above him a window softly opened, a blonde woman in a white nightgown appeared. Her voice whispered through the darkness.
“Is that you?”
And he said, “Yes, yes!”
She scurried back into the room, quickly came back again, took her handkerchief, wrapped something in it and threw it down.
“There my love–the key! But be quiet–very quiet! Don’t wake up my parents.”
Frank Braun took the key out, climbed the small marble steps, opened the door and went inside. While he groped softly and cautiously upward in the dark his young lips moved:
“John of Nepomuk
Protector from dangerous floods.
Protect me from love!
Let it strike another
Leave me in earthly peace
John of Nepomuk
Protect me from love!”