In the meantime back in the café the Privy Councilor offered the women something to drink. They wanted sherry brandy and asked if he could possibly pay their other tab, two beers, pancakes and a cup of coffee. The Privy Councilor paid, then tried his luck. He had a proposal to make and they might be interested he said. But only one of them could accept his very profitable offer and they would have to throw dice to see who got it.
Thin Jenny laid her arm on his shoulder. “We better roll those dice quick old man, that’s for sure! The ladies and I–we want to know what an old goat like you can teach us in bed that we don’t already know!”
Elly, a petite doll headed blonde seconded her.
“What my friend means is don’t waste our time. Bring on the money!”
She sprang up and got some dice. “Now children, let’s find out who gets to accept the old man’s proposal.”
But fat Anna, the one they called “The Hen”, protested.
“I always lose at dice,” she said. “Won’t you pay some consolation money, uncle, for the ones that don’t win?”
“Certainly,” said the Privy Councilor. “Five marks for each of you.”
He laid three fat pieces of silver on the table.
“You are swell!” Jenny praised him and confirmed it by ordering another round of Sherry-Brandy. She was also the winner. She took the three pieces of money and handed them to the others.
“There, you have your consolation money. Now open up you old rascal and tell me all of the shameful things that you want me to do. I am prepared.”
“Then listen dear child,” began the Privy Councilor. “It concerns some very unusual things–”
“You are a man, aren’t you?” the prostitute interrupted him. “I’m not a virgin anymore and haven’t been one for a long time. Our dear God has some strange beasts running around in his zoo and I’ve picked up a few things along the way. It will be hard to show me something new.”
“But you don’t understand me at all, dear Jenny,” said the Professor. “I demand nothing like that of you at all. I want you to take part in a scientific experiment.”
“I knew it,” Jenny blurted out. “I knew it–You are a Doctor aren’t you old man?–I had a Doctor once that always began with scientific experiments–He was the greatest pig of them all!–Now Prosit, uncle. That’s fine with me. I will fulfill all of your delightful fantasies.”
The Privy Councilor toasted and drank to her.
“We shall see soon enough how free from prejudice you really are–To make it short, this concerns an experiment with artificial insemination.”
“A what?” the girl started. “Artificial–insemination? What’s the need for that?–The common way seems to work well enough!”
The dark haired Clara grinned.
“I think it would be better to have an experiment to prevent pregnancy.”
Dr. Petersen came to his master’s aid.
“Will you permit me to try and explain to them?”
When the Privy Councilor nodded he gave a little lecture about the basic concept, the results that had been obtained so far and the possibilities for the future. He stressed sharply that the procedure was completely painless and that all the animals they had worked with up to now had remained completely healthy.
“What kind of animals?” Jenny asked.
The assistant doctor answered, “Up until now only rats, monkeys and guinea-pigs – ”
That set her off, “Guinea-pigs!–I might be a pig–I’ve been called an old sow! But no one has ever called me a Guinea pig! And you, you fat headed old hedgehog, want me to allow you to treat me like a Guinea pig?–Never, do you understand! That is something Jenny Lehman will not do!”
The Privy Councilor tried to calm her down, gave her another schnapps.
“You don’t understand dear child–” he began.
But she wouldn’t let him finish.
“I understand well enough,” she said. “I should give myself up to some greasy beast–or be inoculated with some filthy serum–or germ–I might even end up on your vivisection table.”
She was getting into it now, becoming overcome with anger and passion.
“Or I should bring some monster into this world that you can show at the circus! A child with two heads and a rat’s tail or one that looks half Guinea pig–I know where they abort such monstrous things–and you want to breed them. I should give myself up for that? Let you artificially inseminate me?–Look out old pig–here is what I think of your artificial insemination.”
She sprang up, bent over the table and spit into the Privy Councilor’s face. Then she raised the little glass, quietly drank it, turned quickly around and proudly walked away.
At the same moment Frank Braun appeared in the door and waved for them to come outside.
“Come here Herr Doctor, come here quick!” Dr. Petersen called out to him as he was trying to wipe the Privy Councilor clean.
“Now what’s going on?” the attorney asked as he stepped up to the table.
The professor squinted at him. He appeared to be bitter and angry. The three prostitutes were shouting in confusion as Dr. Petersen explained what had happened.
“What should we do now?” he finished.
Frank Braun shrugged his shoulders, “Do? Nothing at all. Pay and go–nothing else–By the way, I’ve found what we need.”
They went out. The red haired prostitute stood in front of the door waving down a taxi with her parasol. Frank Braun pushed her inside, then let the Privy Councilor and his assistant climb in. He called out the address to the coachman and climbed in with the others.
“Permit me to make introductions,” he cried. “Miss Alma–his Excellency Privy Councilor ten Brinken–and the good doctor Herr Karl Petersen.”
“Are you crazy?” The professor began.
“Not at all Uncle Jakob,” said the attorney quietly. “Fräulein Alma will learn your name anyway if she stays for a long time at your home or your clinic whether you like it or not.”
He turned to the prostitute, “Excuse me, Fräulein Alma. My uncle is a little old!”
He couldn’t see the Privy Councilor in the dark but he could clearly hear how his uncle pressed his wide lips together in impotent rage. It pleased him and he thought that his uncle would finally loose it but he was wrong. The Privy Councilor remained calm.
“So have you already told the young lady what this is about? Does she understand?”
Frank Braun laughed in his face. “She has no idea! I have not spoken a word about it, have only been with Fräulein Alma scarcely a hundred steps from across the street–I’ve scarcely spoken ten words with her–but I have seen how she dances–”
“But Herr Doctor,” the assistant doctor interrupted him. After what we have just experienced wouldn’t it be better to let her know?”
“Dear Petersen,” the attorney said arrogantly. “Calm down. I am convinced that this is just the girl we need and I think that is enough.”
The coach stopped in front of a wine locale and they entered. Frank Braun asked for a private room in the back and the waiter led them to one. Then he looked at the wine selection and ordered two bottles of Pommery and a bottle of cognac.
“Hurry up!” he cried.
The waiter brought the wine and left. Frank Braun closed the door. Then he stepped up to the prostitute.
“Please Fräulein Alma, may I take your hat?”
She gave him her hat and her wild, unpinned hair cascaded down and curled around her forehead and cheeks. Her face was clear with just a few freckles and her green eyes shimmered. Small rows of bright teeth shone out between thin pale lips and she was surrounded by a consuming, almost unnatural sensuality.
“Take off your blouse,” he said.
She obeyed quietly. He loosened both buttons of her shift at the shoulders and pulled it down to reveal two almost classically formed breasts that were only a little too firm. Frank Braun glanced over at his uncle.
“That will be enough,” he said. “The rest will look just as good. Her hips certainly leave nothing more to desire.”
Then he turned back to the prostitute. “Thank you Alma. You may get dressed again.”
The girl obeyed, took the cup that he offered and emptied it. During that hour he made sure that her cup never stood empty for more than a minute. Then he chatted with her. He talked about Paris, spoke of beautiful women at the de la Galette in Moulin and at the Elysée in Montmartre. He described exactly how they looked, described their shoes, their hats and their dresses. Then he turned to the prostitute.
“You know Alma, it is really a shame to see you running around here. Please don’t think badly of me but haven’t I seen you before somewhere else? Were you ever in the Union Bar or the Arcadia?”
No, she had never been in them or in the Amour Hall. Once she had gone with a gentleman to the old Ballroom but when she went back alone the next night she was turned away at the door because she wasn’t dressed properly.
“Of course you need to be dressed properly,” Frank Braun confirmed. “Do you think you will ever again stand all dressed up in front of that ballroom door?”
The prostitute laughed, “It doesn’t really matter–a man is a man!”
He paid no attention and told her fabulous stories of women that had made their fortunes in the great ballrooms. He spoke of beautiful pearl necklaces and large diamonds, carriages and teams of white horses. Then suddenly he asked.
“Tell me, how long have you been running around here?”
She said quietly, “It’s been four years since I ran away from home.”
He questioned her, pulled out of her bit by bit what he wanted to know. He drank with her, filling her glass and pouring cognac into her champagne without her noticing. She was almost twenty years old and had come from Halberstadt. Her father was an honest Baker, honorable and distinguished like her mother and like her six sisters.
She had first lain with a man a few days after her confirmation. He was an associate of her father’s. Had she loved him? Not at all–well only when–yes and then there was another and then another. Both her father and her mother had beaten her but she would still run off and stay out all night. It went on like that for a year – until one day her parents threw her out. Then she pawned her watch and traveled to Berlin. She had been here ever since–
Frank Braun said, “Yes, yes. That is quite a story.” Then he continued, “But now, today is your lucky day!”
“Really,” she asked. “Why do you say that?”
Her voice rang hoarse like it was under a veil, “One day is just a good as another to me–All I need is a man, nothing else!”
But he knew how to get her interest, “But Alma, you have to be contented with any man that wants you! Wouldn’t you like it if it were the other way around?–If you could have anyone that you wanted?”
Her eyes lit up at that. “Oh yes, I would really like that!”
He laughed, “Well have you ever met anyone on the street that you wanted and he wouldn’t give you the time of day? Wouldn’t it be great if you could choose him instead?”
She laughed, “You, my boy. I would really like to–”
“Me as well,” he agreed. “Then and any time you wanted. But you can only do that when you have money and that is why I said that today is your lucky day because you can earn a lot of money today if you want.”
“How much,” she asked.
He said, “Enough money to buy you all the dresses and jewelry that will get you into the finest and most distinguished ballrooms. How much?–Let’s say ten thousand–or make it twelve thousand Marks.”
“What!” gasped the assistant doctor.
The professor, who had never even considered such a sum snapped, “You seem to be somewhat free with other people’s money.”
Frank Braun laughed in delight. “Do you hear that Alma, how the Privy Councilor is beside himself over the sum that he should give you? But I must tell you that it is not free. You will be helping him and he should help you as well. Is fifteen thousand alright with you?”
She looked at him with enormous eyes.
“Yes, but what do I need to do for it?”
“That is the thing that is so funny,” he said. “You don’t need to do anything right now, only wait a little bit. That’s all.”
She drank, “Wait?” She cried gaily, “I’m not very good at waiting. But if I must for fifteen thousand Marks I will! Prosit boy!” and she emptied her glass.
He quickly filled it up again.