They went through the white corridors and stopped just in front of No. seventeen.
“Here she is,” said the Privy Councilor as he carefully opened the door.
The room was entirely white, radiant with sunlight. The girl lay deeply asleep in bed. A bright ray scurried in from the tightly barred windows, trembled on the floor, clambered up a golden ladder, darted across the sheets and nestled lovingly on her sweet cheek, plunging her red hair into glowing flames. Her lips were moving–half-open–as if she were lightly whispering words of love.
“She’s dreaming of her prince,” said the Privy Councilor.
Then he laid his cold, moist hand on her shoulder and shook it.
“Wake up Alma.”
A slight shock flew through her limbs. She sat up, drunk with sleep.
“What do you want?” she stammered.
Then she recognized the professor. “Leave me alone.”
“Come on Alma, don’t be foolish,” the Privy Councilor admonished her. “It is finally time. Be sensible and don’t give us any trouble.”
With a quick jerk he pulled the sheets away throwing her onto the floor.
The eyes of the princess widened, “Very good! The girl is very well endowed–that is convenient.”
But the prostitute pulled her nightshirt down and covered herself as well as possible with a pillow.
“Go away!” She screamed. “I won’t do it!”
The Privy Councilor waved to the assistant doctor.
“Go,” he commanded. “Hurry, we don’t have any time to lose.”
Dr. Petersen quickly left the room. The princess came up and sat on the bed, talked to the girl.
“Don’t be silly, little one. It won’t do any good.”
She attempted to caress her, massaging her with fat be-ringed fingers over throat and neck, down to her breasts.
Alma pushed her away, “What do you want?–Who are you?–Go away, away–I won’t do it!”
The princess would not be rebuffed, “I only want what’s best for you child–I’ll give you a pretty ring and a new dress–”
“I don’t want a ring,” screamed the prostitute. “I don’t need a new dress. I want to go from here. Why won’t they leave me in peace?”
The Privy Councilor opened the glass tube in smiling tranquility.
“Later you will be left in peace–and later you can go. Meanwhile you have an obligation to fulfill that you agreed to at the very beginning–Ah, there you are doctor.”
He turned to the assistant doctor who had just entered with a chloroform mask in his hand.
“Come here quickly.”
THE CREATION OF ALRAUNE
The prostitute stared at him with terrified, wide protruding eyes.
“No,” she lamented. “No! No!”
She made as if to spring out of the bed and pushed the assistant doctor so hard with both hands on his chest as he tried to restrain her that he staggered back and almost fell down. Then the princess threw herself onto the girl with wide stretched arms, pressing her back into the bed with her mighty weight. Her fingers with their many rings clawed into the luminous flesh as she gripped a long strand of red hair in her teeth.
The prostitute struggled, kicking her legs into the air, unable to free her arms or move her body under this mighty burden. She saw as the doctor placed the mask over her face, heard him lightly counting “one, two, three–”
She screamed and tried to turn her head to the side away from the mask, “No! No! I won’t! I won’t! Oh, I can’t breathe–”
Then her screams died away, turned into a pitiful weak whimper, “Mother–oh–mother.”
Twelve days later the prostitute Alma Raune was delivered to Criminal Court for imprisonment pending an investigation. The warrant was issued because she was accused of theft and without any home of record considered at risk to flee. The charges were brought by his Excellency Privy Councilor ten Brinken.
Already in the first days the professor had repeatedly asked the assistant doctor if he had not seen this or that thing that was missing. The Privy Councilor was missing an old signet ring that he had set to one side while washing and then left it. He was missing a little money purse that he had left in his overcoat as well as he could remember.
He asked Dr. Petersen to unobtrusively keep a sharp eye on all the employees. Then the assistant doctor’s gold watch disappeared from a room in the clinic where he kept it in a locked drawer in his writing desk. The drawer had been forcibly opened. A thorough search of the clinic and all the employees was immediately declared but nothing was found.
“It must be one of the patients,” the Privy Councilor concluded and ordered a search of all the rooms as well. This was led by Dr. Petersen, but again without success.
“Have you forgotten any rooms?” his chief questioned.
“None, your Excellency!” answered the assistant doctor. “Except Alma’s room.”
“Why haven’t you checked there?” asked the Privy Councilor again.
“But your Excellency!” Dr. Petersen replied. “That is completely out of the question. The girl is watched night and day. She has not once been out of her room and now since she knows that we have been successful has become completely out of hand. She howls and screams the entire day and threatens to drive us all crazy. She only thinks about how she can escape and other ways to frustrate our goal–To put it straight, your Excellency, it seems impossible to me for us to keep the girl here the entire time.”
“So,” the Privy Councilor laughed. “Petersen, go and search room seventeen at once. It does not appear to me that we can count on the innocence of the prostitute.”
A quarter of an hour later Dr. Petersen came back with a knotted handkerchief.
“Here are the missing items,” he said. “I found them in the bottom of the girl’s laundry sack.”
“I thought so!” nodded the Privy Councilor. “Now go and telephone the police right away.”
The assistant doctor hesitated, “Excuse me, your Excellency, if I may be permitted to object. The girl is certainly not guilty even if the evidence seems to speak against her. Your Excellency should have seen her as I searched the room with the old nurse and finally found the things. She was completely apathetic, wasn’t concerned at all. She certainly didn’t have anything to do with the theft. One of the staff must have taken the items and when threatened by discovery, hid them in her room.”
The professor grinned, “You are very chivalrous Petersen–But all the same–telephone the police!”
“Your Excellency,” the assistant doctor pleaded. “Can’t we wait a little. Perhaps we can question the staff one more time–”
“Listen Petersen,” said the Privy Councilor. “You should think this through a little more. It doesn’t matter at all if the prostitute has stolen these things. The important thing is that we will be rid of her and she will be safe until her hour is come. Isn’t that true? In prison she will be kept safe for us, much safer than here. You know how well we are paying her and I am willing to pay her even more for this little inconvenience–after it is all over.
It won’t be any worse for her in prison than here–Her room will be a little smaller, her bed a little harder and the food won’t be as good. But she will have companions–and that will be worth a lot in her condition.”
Dr. Petersen looked at him, still not entirely convinced. “Quite true, your Excellency, but–won’t she talk there? It could be very uncomfortable if–”
The Privy Councilor smiled, “How so? Let her talk, as much as she wants. Hysteria- mendax–you know that she is hysterical and that hysterical people are known to lie! No one will believe her, especially since she’s a hysterical pregnant woman. What would she say anyway? The story of the prince, that my nephew swindled her with so neatly?
Do you believe that the judge, the attorney, the prison director, the pastor or any other reasonable person would even listen to such obstruse nonsense?–Besides, I will speak to the prison doctor myself–who is he anyway?”
“My colleague, Dr. Perscheidt,” said the assistant doctor.
“Ah, your friend, little Perscheidt,” the professor confirmed. “I know him as well. I will ask him to keep an especially watchful eye on our patient. I will tell him that she had an affair with an acquaintance of mine that sent her to my clinic and that this gentleman is prepared to take full care of the child in every way. I will also tell him about the extraordinary lies I have observed in the patient and even what stories she is likely to tell him.
Even more, we will retain Legal Councilor Gontram for her defense at our own cost and explain the case to him so that he will not believe anything she says either– Are you still afraid Petersen?”
The assistant doctor looked at his chief in admiration.
“No, your Excellency,” he said. “Your Excellency has thought of everything. Whatever is in my power to do, I am at your service, Excellency.”
The Privy Councilor sighed loudly, then reached out his hand.
“Thank you dear Petersen. You will not believe how difficult these little lies have been for me. But what is a person to do? Science has always demanded such sacrifices. Our brave predecessors, the doctors of the late Middle Ages, were forced to steal bodies from cemeteries so they could learn anatomy. They risked being criminally charged with violation of a corpse and similar nonsense. We can’t complain, must take such little deceptions into the bargain, for the sake of our sacred science.
Now go Petersen. Telephone the police!”
The assistant doctor left. In his heart was a great and honest admiration for his chief.
Alma Raune was sentenced for burglary. Her stubborn denial and prior conviction worked against her. Despite that, she was given a light sentence, apparently because she was really very beautiful and also because Legal Councilor Gontram was defending her. She only received one year and six months imprisonment and the time she had already served applied to it as well.
This was further reduced at the request of his Excellency ten Brinken even though her conduct while in prison could in no way be considered model behavior. In his gracious request for a pardon he concluded that her bad behavior was due to her morbidly hysterical condition and also stressed that she would soon become a mother.
In the early morning at the first signs of labor she was released and taken to the ten Brinken clinic. There she was placed in her old white room, No. seventeen, at the end of the corridor. The labor pains had already begun during transport and Dr. Petersen tried to calm her by saying it would soon be over. But he was wrong.
The labor lasted that entire day, that night and the following day. They let up for a little while and then returned even more strongly. The girl screamed and whimpered, writhing in pain and misery.
The third short paragraph in the leather bound book A. T. B. is in the hand of the assistant doctor and deals with this remarkable birth. He performed, with the assistance of the prison doctor, the very difficult delivery that lasted for three days and ended with the death of the mother. The Privy Councilor himself was not present.
In this account Dr. Petersen stressed the strong constitution and the excellent build of the mother, which should have allowed a very easy delivery. Only the exceptionally rare presentation of the baby caused the complications to take place that in the end made it impossible to save both mother and child.
It was further mentioned that the child, a girl, while being pulled out of the mother’s body began an extraordinary shrieking that was so shrill and penetrating that neither gentlemen nor the midwife had ever experienced anything like it before in other births. The screams sounded almost as if the child were experiencing unbelievable pain at being so violently separated from the mother’s womb.
The screams became so penetrating and dreadful that they could scarcely bear the horror of it. His colleague, Dr. Perscheidt, broke into a cold sweat and had to sit down. After the birth the infant immediately became quiet and didn’t even whimper.
The midwife while bathing the delicate and thin child immediately noticed an unusually developed atresia Vaginalis where the legs halfway down to the knees had grown together. After further investigation it was found to be only the external skin that was binding the legs together and could be corrected later through a quick operation.
As for the mother, she had certainly endured heavy pain and suffering without any chloroform, local anesthesia–or even as much as a Scopolamine-morphine injection. She was hemorrhaging so badly they could not risk further stress to her heart. She screamed the entire time for all those long hours and only during the moment of birth itself did the dreadful shrieks of the infant drown out the screams of the mother.
Her moans became weaker, some two and a half-hours later she lost consciousness and died. The direct cause of death was a torn uterus and the resulting hemorrhage.
The body of the prostitute, Alma Raune, was assigned for dissection since her relatives in Halberstadt raised no claims and refused to pay the cost of burial when they were notified. The Anatomy professor Holzberger used it in his lectures and assigned parts of it to each of his students to study. These certainly contributed vastly to their education except for the head, which had been given to senior medical student Fassman of the Hansea fraternity. He was supposed to prepare it as a finished skull but forgot it over vacation. He decided that he already had enough skulls and no longer needed to clean it. Instead he fashioned a beautiful dice cup out of the top of the skull. He already had five dice that had been made from the vertebrae of the executed murderer Noerrissen and now needed a suitable dice cup.
Senior medical student Fassman was not superstitious, but he maintained that his dice cup served him extremely well when playing for his morning half-pint. He sang such high praise for his skull dice cup and bone dice that they gradually acquired a certain reputation, first with his own friends, then within his fraternity and finally over the entire student body.
Senior medical student Fassman loved his dice cup and almost saw it as blackmail when his Excellency Privy Councilor ten Brinken asked him to give up his famous dice cup and dice at the time of his exam. It so happened that he was very weak in gynecology and the professor had a reputation for giving very strict and difficult exams. The result was that he passed his exam with flying colors. For as long as he owned it, the dice cup brought him good luck.
There is one other curious thing that remains in the story of these two people that without ever seeing each other became Alraune’s father and mother, how they were brought together in a strange manner even after their death. The Anatomy Building janitor, Knoblauch, threw out the remaining bones and tatters of flesh into a common shallow grave in the gardens of the Anatomy Building. It was behind the wall where the white roses climb and grow so abundantly–