The acquisition of the dice cup is mentioned by the Privy Councilor in the leather bound book. From that point on it was no longer written in the distinct and clear hand of Dr. Petersen but in his own thin, hesitating and barely legible script.
But there are several other short entries in the book that are of interest to this story. The first refers to the operation taken to correct the child’s Atresia Vaginalis performed by Dr. Petersen and the cause of his untimely demise.
The Privy Councilor mentions that in consideration of the savings he had made through the death of the mother and the good help of his assistant doctor through the entire affair he granted a three month summer trip vacation with all expenses paid and promised a special bonus of a thousand Marks as well. Dr. Petersen was extremely overjoyed about this trip. It was the first big vacation he had ever taken in his life. But he insisted upon performing the simple operation beforehand even though it could have easily been put off for a much longer time without any special concern.
He performed the operation a couple days before his scheduled departure with excellent results for the child. Unfortunately he, himself, developed a severe case of blood poisoning–What was so astonishing was that despite his almost exaggerated daily care for cleanliness–it was scarcely forty-eight hours later that he died after very intense suffering.
The direct cause of the blood poisoning could not be determined with certainty. There was a small wound on his left upper arm that was barely perceptible with the naked eye. A light scratch from his little patient might have inflicted it.
The professor remarked how already twice in this matter he had been spared a great sum of money but did not elaborate any further.
It was then reported how the baby was kept for the time being in the clinic under the care of the head nurse. She was an unusually quiet and sensitive child that cried only once and that was at the time of her holy baptism performed in the cathedral by Chaplain Ignaz Schröder.
Indeed, she howled so fearfully that the entire little congregation–the nurse that carried her, Princess Wolkonski and Legal Councilor Sebastian Gontram as the godparents, the Priest, the sexton and the Privy Councilor himself–couldn’t even begin to do anything with her. She began crying from the moment she left the clinic and did not stop until she was brought back home again from the church.
In the cathedral her screams became so unbearable that his Reverence took every opportunity to rush through the sacred ceremony so he and those present could escape from the ghastly music. Everyone gave a sigh of relief when it was all over and the nurse had climbed into the carriage with the child.
It appears that nothing significant happened during the first year in the life of this little girl whom the professor named “Alraune” out of an understandable whim. At least nothing noteworthy was written in the leather bound volume.
It was mentioned that the professor remained true to his word and even before the child was born had taken measures to adopt the girl and composed a certified will making her his sole heir to the complete exclusion of all his other relatives.
It was also mentioned that the princess, as godmother, gave the child an extraordinarily expensive and equally tasteless necklace composed of gold chain and two strands of beautiful pearls set with diamonds. At the center surrounded by more pearls was a hank of fiery red hair that the Princess had cut from the head of the unconscious mother at the time of her conception.
The child stayed in the clinic for over four years up until the time the Privy Councilor gave up the Institute as well as the attached experimental laboratories that he had been neglecting more and more. Then he took her to his estate in Lendenich.
There the child got a playmate that was really almost four years older than she was. It was Wölfchen Gontram, the youngest son of the Legal Councilor. Privy Councilor ten Brinken relates very little of the collapse of the Gontram household. In short sentences he describes how death finally grew tired of the game he was playing in the white house on the Rhine and in one year wiped away the mother and three of her sons.
The fourth boy, Joseph, at the wish of his mother had been taken by Reverend Chaplain Schröder to become a priest. Frieda, the daughter, lived with her friend, Olga Wolkonski, who in the meantime had married a somewhat dubious Spanish Count and moved to his house in Rome. Following these events was the financial collapse of the Legal Councilor despite the splendid fee he had been paid for winning the divorce settlement for the princess.
The Privy Councilor puts down that he took the boy in as an act of charity–but doesn’t forget to mention in the book that Wölfchen inherited some vineyards with small farm houses from an aunt on his mother’s side so his future was secure. He remarks as well that he didn’t want the boy to feel he had been taken into a stranger’s house and brought up out of charity and compassion so he used the income from the vineyards to defray the upkeep of his young foster-child. It is to be understood that the Privy Councilor did not come up short on this arrangement.
Taking all of the entries that the Privy Councilor ten Brinken made in the leather bound volume during this time one could conclude that Wölfchen Gontram certainly earned the bread and butter that he ate in Lendenich. He was a good playmate for his foster-sister, was more than that, was her only toy and her nursemaid as well.
The love he shared with his wild brothers for living and frantically running around transferred in an instant to the delicate little creature that ran around alone in the wide garden, in the stables, in the green houses and all the out buildings. The great deaths in his parent’s house, the sudden collapse of his entire world made a strong impression on him–in spite of the Gontram indolence.
The small handsome lad with his mother’s large black dreamy eyes became quiet and withdrawn. Thousands of boyish thoughts that had been so suddenly extinguished now snaked out like weak tendrils and wrapped themselves solidly like roots around the little creature, Alraune. Whatever he carried in his young breast he gave to his new little sister, gave it with the great unbounded generosity that he had inherited from his sunny good-natured parents.
He went to school in the city where he always sat in the last row. At noon when he came back home he ran straight past the kitchen even though he was hungry. He searched around in the garden until he found Alraune. The servants often had to drag him away by force to give him his meals.
No one troubled themselves much over the two children but while they always had a strange mistrust of the little girl, they took a liking to Wölfchen. In their own way they bestowed on him the somewhat coarse love of the servants that had once been given to Frank Braun, the Master’s nephew, so many years before when he had spent his school vacations there as a boy.
Just like him, the old coachman, Froitsheim, now tolerated Wölfchen around the horses, lifted him up onto them, let him sit on a wool saddle blanket and ride around the courtyard and through the gardens. The gardener showed him the best fruit in the orchards; cut him the most flexible switches and the maids kept his food warm, making sure that he never went without.
They thought of him as an equal but the girl, little as she was, had a way of creating a broad chasm between them. She never chatted with any of them and when she did speak it was to express some wish that almost sounded like a command. That was exactly what these people from the Rhine in their deepest souls could not bear–not from the Master–and now most certainly not from this strange child.
They never struck her. The Privy Councilor had strongly forbidden that, but in every other way they acted as if the child was not even there. She ran around–fine–they let her run, cared for her food, her little bed, her underwear and her clothes–but just like they cared for the old biting watchdog, brought it food, cleaned its doghouse and unchained it for the night.
The Privy Councilor in no way troubled himself over the children and let them completely go their own way. Since the time he had closed the clinic he had also given up his professorship, keeping occupied with various real estate and mortgage affairs and even more with his old love, archeology.
He managed things as a clever and intelligent merchant so that museums around the world paid high prices for his skillfully arranged collections. The grounds all around the Brinken estate from the Rhine to the city on one side, extending out to the Eifel promontory on the other were filled with things that first the Romans and then all their followers had brought with them.
The Brinkens had been collectors for a long time and for ten miles in all directions any time a farmer struck something with his plowshare they would carefully dig up the treasure and take it to the old house in Lendenich that was consecrated to John of Nepomuck.
The professor took everything, entire pots of coins, rusted weapons, yellowed bones, urns, buckles and tear vials. He paid pennies, ten at the most. But the farmer was always certain to get a good schnapps in the kitchen and if needed money for sowing, at a high interest of course–but without the security demanded by the banks.
One thing was certain. The earth never spewed forth more than in those years when Alraune lived in the house.
The professor laughed and said, “She brings money into the house.”
He knew very well that these things happened in a natural way, that it was only the result of his intense occupation with these things of the earth. But still there was some connection with the little creature and he played with the thought.
He took a very risky speculation and bought enormous properties along the broad path of Villen Street. He had the earth dug up and every handful of dirt searched. He did business taking great calculated risks, putting a mortgage bank back on a sound financial basis when everyone else thought it would go bankrupt in a very short time. The bank held together. Whatever he touched went the right way.
Then through a coincidence he found a mineral water spring on one of his properties in the mountains. He had it barreled and hauled away. That is how he came into the mineral water line buying up whatever was available in the Rhineland until he almost had a monopoly in that industry. He formed a little company, hung a nationalistic cloak around it, declaring that a person had to make a stand against the foreigners, the English that owned Apollonaris.
The little owners flocked around this new leader, swore by “His Excellency”, and when he formed a joint company gladly allowed him to reserve the controlling shares for himself. It was a good thing they did, the Privy Councilor doubled their dividends and dealt sharply with the outsiders that had not wanted to go along.
He pursued a multitude of things one right after the other–they had only one thing in common–they all had something to do with the earth. It was just a whim of his, this thought that Alraune drew gold out of the earth and so he stayed with those things that had something to do with the earth. He didn’t really believe it for a second, but he still entered into even the wildest speculation with the certain confidence that it would succeed as long as it dealt with the earth.
He refused to deal with anything else without even looking into it, even highly profitable stock market opportunities that appeared with scarcely the slightest risk. Instead he bought huge quantities of extremely rotten mining concerns, buying into ore as well as coal, then trading them in a series of shady deals. He always came out–
“Alraune does it,” he said laughing.