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Archive for the ‘Joe Bandel’ Category

Then the day came when this thought became more than a joke to him. Wölfchen was digging in the garden, behind the stables under the large mulberry tree. That was where Alraune wanted to have her subterranean palace. He dug day after day and once in awhile one of the gardener’s boys would help.

The child sat close by; she didn’t speak, didn’t laugh, just sat there quietly and watched. Then one evening the boy’s shovel gave a loud clang. The gardener’s boy helped and they carefully dug the brown earth out from between the roots with their bare hands. They brought the professor a sword belt, a buckle and a handful of coins. Then he had the place thoroughly dug up and found a small treasure – genuine Gaelic pieces, rare and valuable. It was not really supernatural. Farmers all around sooner or later found something, why shouldn’t there be something hidden in his garden as well?

But that was the point. He asked the boy why he had dug in that particular spot under the mulberry tree and Wölfchen said the little one wanted him to dig there and nowhere else. Then he asked Alraune but she remained silent.

The Privy Councilor thought she was a divining rod, that she could feel where the earth held its treasure. He laughed about it. Yes, he still laughed. Sometimes he took her along out to the Rhine along Villen Street and over to the ground where his men were digging.

Then he would ask dryly enough,” Where should they dig?”

He observed her carefully as she went over the field to see if her sensitive body would give some sign, some indication, anything that might suggest–

But she remained quiet and her little body said nothing, later when she understood what he wanted she would remain standing on one spot and say, “Dig.”

They would dig and find nothing. Then she would laugh lightly. The professor thought, “She’s making fools of us.” But he always dug again where she commanded. Once or twice they found something, a Roman grave, then a large urn filled with ancient silver coins.

Now the Privy Councilor said, “It is coincidence.”

But he thought, “It could also be coincidence.”

 

One afternoon as the Privy Councilor stepped out of the library he saw the boy standing under the pump. He was half-naked with his body bent forward. The old coachman pumped, letting the cold stream pour over his head and neck, over his back and both arms. His skin was blazing red and covered with small blisters.

“What did you do Wölfchen?” He asked.

The boy remained quiet, biting his teeth together, but his dark eyes were full of tears.

The coachman said, “It’s stinging nettles. The little girl beat him with stinging nettles.”

Then the boy defended himself, “No, no. She didn’t beat me. I did it myself. I threw myself into them.”

The Privy Councilor questioned him carefully yet only with the help of the coachman was he able to get the truth out of the boy. It went like this:

He had undressed himself down to his hips, thrown himself into the nettles and rolled around in them, but–at the wish of his little sister. She had noticed how his hand burned when he accidentally touched the weed, had seen how it became red and blistered. Then she had persuaded him to touch them with his other hand and finally to roll around in them with his naked breast.

“Crazy fool!” The Privy Councilor scolded him. Then he asked if Alraune had also touched the stinging nettles.

“Yes,” answered the boy, but she didn’t get burned.

The professor went out into the garden, searched and finally found his foster-child. She was in the back by a huge wall tearing up huge bunches of stinging nettles. She carried them in her naked arms across the way to the wisteria arbor where she laid them out on the ground. She was making a bed.

“Who is that for?” he asked.

The little girl looked at him and said earnestly, “For Wölfchen!”

He took her hands, examined her thin arms. There was not the slightest sign of any rash.

“Come with me,” he said.

He led her into a greenhouse where Japanese primroses grew in long rows.

“Pick some flowers,” he cried.

Alraune picked one flower after another. She had to stretch high to reach them and her arms were in constant contact with the poisonous leaves. But there was no sign of a burning rash.

“She must be immune,” murmured the professor and wrote a concise thesis in the brown leather volume about the appearance of skin rashes through contact with stinging nettles and poison primrose.

He proposed that the reaction was purely a chemical one, that the little hairs on the stems and leaves wounded the skin by secreting an acid, which set up a local reaction at the place of contact.

He attempted to discover a connection as to whether and to what extent the scarcely found immunity against these primroses and stinging nettles had to do with the known insensibility of witches and those possessed. He also wanted to know whether the cause of both phenomenon and this immunity could be explained on an auto-suggestive or hysterical basis.

Now that he had once seen something strange in the little girl he searched methodically for things that would validate this thought. It was mentioned at this spot as an addendum that Dr. Petersen thought it was completely trivial and disregarded the fact in his report that the actual birth of the child took place at the midnight hour.

“Alraune, was thus brought into this life in the time honored manner,” concluded the Privy Councilor.

Old Brambach had come down from the hills; it had taken four hours to come from beyond the hamlet of Filip. He was a semi-invalid that went through the hamlets in the hill country selling church raffle tickets, pictures of saints and cheap rosaries. He limped into the courtyard and informed the Privy Councilor that he had brought some Roman artifacts with him that a farmer had found in his field.

The professor had the servants tell him that he was busy and to wait, so old Brambach waited there sitting on a stone bench in the yard smoking his pipe. After two hours the Privy Councilor had him called in. He always had people wait even when he had nothing else to do. Nothing lowered the price like letting people wait, he always said.

But this time he really had been busy. The director of the Germanic museum in Nuremburg was there and was purchasing items for a beautiful exhibit called “Gaelic finds in the Rhineland”.

The Privy Councilor did not let Brambach into the library but met with him in the little front room instead.

“Now, you old crippled rascal, let’s see what you have!” he cried.

The invalid untied a large red handkerchief and carefully laid out the contents on a fragile cane chair. There were many coins, a couple of helmet shards, a shield pommel and an exquisite tear vial. The Privy Councilor scarcely turned to give a quick squinting glance at the tear vial.

“Is this all, Brambach?” he asked reproachfully and when the old man nodded he began to heartily upbraid him. He was so old now and still as stupid as a snotty nosed youngster! It had taken him four hours to get here and would take him four hours to go back. Then he had to wait a couple hours as well. He had frittered the entire day away on that trash there! The rubbish wasn’t worth anything. He could pack it back up and take it with him. He wouldn’t give a penny for the lot!

How often did he have to tell people again and again, “Don’t run to Lendenich with every bit of trash?”

It was stupid! It was better to wait until they had a nice collection and then bring everything in at one time! Or maybe he enjoyed the walk in the hot sun all the way here and back from Filip? He should be ashamed of himself.

The invalid scratched behind his ear and then turned his brown cap in his fingers very ill at ease. He wanted to say something to the professor, most of the time he was very good at haggling a higher price for his wares. But he couldn’t think of a single thing, only the four miles that he had just come–exactly what the professor was now berating him for. He was completely contrite and comprehended thoroughly just how stupid he had been so he made no response at all. He requested only that he be allowed to leave the artifacts there so he wouldn’t have to haul them back. The Privy Councilor nodded and then gave him half a Mark.

“There Brambach, for the road! But next time be a little smarter and do what I said. Now go into the kitchen and have some butter-bread and a glass of beer!”

The invalid thanked him, happy enough that things had gone so well and he hobbled back across the court toward the kitchen. His Excellency snatched up the sweet tear vial, pulled a silk handkerchief out of his pocket and carefully cleaned it, viewing the fine violet glass from all sides. Then he opened the door and stepped back into the library where the curator from Nuremburg stood before a glass case. He walked up brandishing the vial in his upraised arm.

“Look at this, dear doctor,” he began. “I have here a most unusual treasure! It belongs to the grave of Tullia, the sister of general Aulus. It is from the site at Schware-Rheindorf. I’ve already shown you several artifacts from there!”

He handed him the vial and continued.

“Can you tell me its point of origin?”

The scholar took the glass, stepped to the window and adjusted his glasses. He asked for a loupe and a silk cloth. He wiped it and held the glass against the light turning it this way and that. Somewhat hesitatingly and not entirely certain he finally said, “Hmm, it appears to be of Syrian make, probably from the glass factory at Palmyra.”

“Bravo!” cried the Privy Councilor. I must certainly watch myself around you. You are an expert!”

If the curator would have said it was from Agrigent or Munda he would have responded with equal enthusiasm.

“Now doctor, what time period is it from?”

The curator raised the vial one more time. “Second century,” he said. “First half.”

This time his voice rang with confidence.

“I give you my compliments,” confirmed the Privy Councilor. “I didn’t believe anyone could make such a quick and accurate determination!”

“Except yourself naturally, your Excellency,” replied the scholar flatteringly.

But the professor replied modestly, “You over estimate my knowledge considerably Herr Doctor. I have spent no less than eight days of hard work trying to make a determination with complete certainty. I have gone through a lot of books.

But I have no regrets. It is a rare and beautiful piece–has cost me enough too. The fellow that found it made a small fortune with it.”

“I would really like to have it for my museum,” declared the director. “What do you want for it?”

“For Nuremburg, only five thousand Marks,” answered the professor. “You know that I offer all German museums specially reduced prices. Next week two gentlemen are coming here from London. I will offer them eight thousand and will certainly get it!”

“But your Excellency,” responded the scholar. “Five thousand Marks! You know very well that I can’t pay such a price! That is beyond my authorization.”

The Privy Councilor said, “I’m really very sorry, but I can’t give the vial away for any less.”

The Herr from Nuremburg weighed the little glass in his hand. “It is a charming tear vial and I am inordinately fond of it. I will give you three thousand, your Excellency.”

The Privy Councilor said, “No, nothing less than five thousand! But I tell you what Herr Director. Since that tear vial pleases you so much, permit me to give it to you as a personal gift. Keep it as a memento of your accurate determination.”

“I thank you, your Excellency. I thank you!” cried the curator. He stood up and shook the Councilor’s hand very hard. “But I am not permitted to accept any gifts in my position. Forgive me then if I must refuse. Anyway, I have decided to pay your price. We must keep this piece in the Fatherland and not permit it to go to England.”

He went to the writing desk and wrote out his check. But before he left the Privy Councilor talked him into buying the other less interesting pieces–from the grave of Tullia, the sister of general Aulus.

The professor ordered the horses ready for his guest and escorted him out to his carriage. As he came back across the court he saw Wölfchen and Alraune standing by the peddler who was showing them his colored images of the Saints. After a meal and some drink old Brambach had recovered some of his courage, had even sold the cook a rosary that he claimed had been blessed by the Bishop. That was why it cost thirty pennies more than the others did. That had all loosened his tongue, which just an hour before had been so timid. He steeled his heart and limped up to the Privy Councilor.

“Herr Professor,” he pleaded. “Buy the children a pretty picture of St. Joseph!”

His Excellency was in a good mood so he replied, “St. Joseph? No, but do you have one of St. John of Nepomuk?”

No, Brambach didn’t have one of him. He had one of St. Anthony though, St. John, St. Thomas and St. Jakob. But unfortunately none of Nepomuk and once again he had to be upbraided for not knowing his business. In Lendenich you could only sell St. John of Nepomuk, none of the other saints.

The peddler took it hard but made one last attempt. “A raffle ticket, Herr Professor! Take a raffle ticket for the restoration of St. Lawrence’s church in Dülmen. It only costs one Mark and every buyer receives an indulgence of one hundred days. It says so right here!”

He held the ticket under the Privy Councilor’s nose.

“No,” said the professor. “We don’t need any indulgences. We are protestant, that’s how we get to heaven and a person can’t win anything in a raffle anyway.”

“What?” the peddler replied. “You can’t win? There are over three hundred prizes and the first prize is fifty thousand Marks in cash! It says so right here!”

He pointed with a dirty finger to the raffle ticket. The professor took the ticket out of his hand and examined it.

“You old ass!” he laughed. “And here it says there are five hundred thousand tickets! Calculate for yourself how many chances you have of winning that!”

He turned to go but the invalid limped after him holding onto his coat.

“Try it anyway professor,” he begged. “We need to live too!”

“No,” cried the Privy Councilor.

Still the peddler wouldn’t give up. “I have a feeling that you are going to win!”

“You always have that feeling!” said the Privy Councilor.

“Let the little one choose a ticket, she brings luck!” insisted Brambach.

That stopped the professor. “I will do it,” he murmured.

“Come over here Alraune!” he cried. “Choose a ticket.”

The child skipped up. The invalid carefully made a fan out of his tickets and held them in front of her.

“Close your eyes,” he commanded. “Now, pick one.”

Alraune drew a ticket and gave it to the Privy Councilor. He considered for a moment and then waved the boy over.

“You choose one too, Wölfchen,” he said.

In the leather volume his Excellency ten Brinken reports that he won fifty thousand Marks in the Dülmen church raffle. Unfortunately he could not be certain whether Alraune or Wölfchen had selected the winning ticket. He had put them both together in his desk without writing the names of the children on them. Still he scarcely had any doubt that it must have been Alraune’s.

As for the rest, he mentions how grateful he was to old Brambach who almost forced him to bring this money into the house. He gave him five Marks and set things up with the local relief fund for aged and disabled veterans so that he would receive a regular pension of thirty Marks per year.

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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.

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Intermezzo

 

 

All sins, my dear girl, are brought here by the hot south wind from out of the desert. Where the sun burns through endless centuries there hovers over the sleeping sands a thin white haze that forms itself into soft white clouds and floats around until the desert whirlwinds roll them and form them into strange round eggs that contain the sun’s blazing heat.

There the basilisk slinks around through the pale night. In a strange manner the moon, the eternally infertile moon, fathered it. Yet its mother, the desert sand, is just as infertile as the other is. It is the secret of the desert. Many say it is an animal but that is not true. It is a thought that has grown where there is no soil or no seed. It sprang out of the eternally infertile and took on a chaotic form that life can not recognize. That is why no one can describe this creature. It is fashioned out of nothingness itself.

But what the people say is true. It is very poisonous. When it eats the blazing eggs of the sun that the whirlwinds create in the desert sands purple flames shoot out of its eyes and its breath becomes hot and heavy with horrible fumes.

But the basilisk, pale child of the moon, does not eat all of the vapory eggs. When it is sated and completely filled with hot poison it spits green saliva over the eggs still lying there in the sand and scratches them with sharp claws so the vile slime can penetrate through their soft skin.

As the early morning winds arise a strange heaving like moist violet and green colored lungfish can be seen growing under the thin shells.

Throughout the land at noon eggs burst as the blazing sun hatches crocodile eggs, toad eggs, snake eggs and eggs of all the repulsive lizards and amphibians. These poisonous eggs of the desert also burst with a soft pop. There is no seed inside, no lizard or snake, only a strange vapory shape that contains all colors like the veil of the dancer in the flame dance. It contains all odors like the pale sanga flowers of Lahore, contains all sounds like the musical heart of the angel Israfael and it contains all poisons as well like the basilisk’s own loathsome body.

Then the south wind of mid-day blows in, creeping out of the swamps of the hot jungles and dances over the desert sands. It takes up the fiery creatures of the sun’s eggs and carries them far across the blue ocean. They move with the south wind like soft vapory clouds, like the loose filmy night garments of a priestess.

That is how all delightful, poisonous plagues fly to our fair north–

Our quiet days are cool, sister, like the northland. Your eyes are blue and know nothing of hot desire. The hours of your days are like the heavy blue clusters of wisteria dropping down to form a soft carpet. My feet stride lightly through them in the glinting sunlight of your arbor.

But when the shadows fall, fair sister, there creeps a burning over your youthful skin as the haze flies in from the south. Your soul breathes it in eagerly and your lips offer all the red-hot poisons of the desert in your bloody kisses–

Then it may not be to you that I turn, fair sister, sleeping child of my dreamy days–When the mist lightly ripples the blue waves, when the sweet voices of the birds sing out from the tops of my oleander, then I may turn to the pages in the heavy leather bound volume of Herr Jakob ten Brinken.

Like the sea, my blood flows slowly through my veins as I read the story of Alraune through your quiet eyes in unending tranquility. I present her like I find her, plain, simple, like one that is free of all passions–

But then I drink the blood that flows out of your wounds in the night and it mixes with my own red blood, your blood that has been poisoned by the sinful poisons of the hot desert. That is when my brain fevers from your kisses so that I ache and am tormented by your desires–

Then it might well be that I tear myself loose from your arms, wild sister– it might be that I sit there heavily dreaming at my window that looks out over the ocean while the hot southerly wind throws its fire. It might be that I again take up the leather bound volume of the Privy Councilor, that I might once more read Alraune’s story–through your poison hot eyes. Then the ocean screams through the immovable rocks– just like the blood screams through my veins.

What I read then is different, entirely different, has different meaning and I present her again like I find her, wild, hot–like someone that is full of all passions!

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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–

 

 

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Chapter Five

Informs about her father and how Death stood as Godfather when Alraune came to life.

 

 

Dr. Karl Petersen brought the Privy Councilor a large beautifully bound book that he had prepared especially for this project. The old ten Brinken family crest showed on the upper left corner of the red leather volume. In the middle glowed the large golden letters ATB.

The first page had been left blank. The professor had reserved it to write some early history himself. The next page began with a paragraph in Dr. Petersen’s hand. He wrote of the short and simple life history of the mother and of her character and demeanor.

He had asked the prostitute to tell her life story and then quickly wrote it down. Even her previous convictions were mentioned. Alma had been sentenced twice for vagrancy; five or six times due to violations of police regulations concerning her profession and once because of theft–Yet, she maintained that she was innocent of the theft–the gentleman had given her the diamond pin.

Further down in the second paragraph Dr. Petersen had written down things about the presumptive father, the unemployed miner, Peter Weinland Noerissen, who had been condemned by a court and jury and sentenced to death in the name of the King.

The public prosecutor had presented the facts in an amiable, charming fashion. It appeared that P. Noerissen had been predestined to such a fate from infancy. His mother had been a notorious drinker. His father, an occasional worker, had been previously convicted because of frequent crude misdemeanors. One of his brothers was even now serving ten years in prison on similar grounds.

Peter Weinland Noerissen had become apprenticed to a blacksmith after he finished school. This had played an important part in the proceedings because of the skill and strength that had been displayed in the murder. Many witnesses gave evidence of his displays of unusual strength. He had a history of pushing himself on females even when they said they were not interested.

He had been released from military service because of a congenital defect. He was missing two fingers on his left hand. He worked in several diverse factories before finally coming to the Phoenix mine in the Ruhr industrial district. He was not a member of any trade union, not the old socialist union, the Christian or the mysterious Elks.

He was fired from the mine when he pulled a knife on an overseer. This was a serious violation and he received his first sentence of a year in jail. He was released after his counsel for the defense argued during appeal that the conviction was only based upon the word of the overseer with no real evidence that it was attempted manslaughter.

After that he was on the road, had crossed over the Alps twice and fought his way from Naples to Amsterdam. While he did work occasionally, he spent most of his time as a vagabond or hobo and was further convicted of a few other petty crimes. It was enough for the public prosecutor to assume that in the course of seven or eight years he had become a hardened criminal with no conscience.

The crime that he was now condemned for was not that clear either. It was still not entirely certain if it had been a robbery gone wrong or an intentional sex murder. The defense tried to portray it as if the accused had only intended to rape the well dressed and well endowed nineteen year old daughter of the home owner, Anna Sibilla Trautwein, when he encountered her in the Ellinger Rhine meadow that fateful evening.

That when he tried to rape the strong and vigorous girl she started screaming and he pulled his knife only to threaten her into silence. It didn’t work and she fought back more vigorously and in the struggle was stabbed. He only finished her off out of the fear of discovery. It was then only natural that he take her petty tip money and jewelry to help him make good his escape.

This account did not match the condition of the corpse itself.  It was established that the terrible dismemberment of the victim’s vitals was most skillfully done and the cut almost workman like. The public prosecutor ended with a plea that the appeal to the Imperial court be refused, that there was no need for further reprieve and that the execution take place early in the morning on the following day at six o’clock.

In conclusion the book stated that the delinquent did agree to Dr. Petersen’s request on the condition that he be brought two bottles of whiskey that evening around eight o’clock.

The Privy Councilor finished reading and then gave the book back.

“The father is cheaper than the mother!” he laughed.

“You will attend the execution as well. Don’t forget to bring the common salt solution and other things you will need. Hurry back as soon as possible. Every minute counts, especially in a situation like we have here. There will scarcely be enough time. I will expect you at the clinic early in the morning. Don’t bother finding an attendant. The princess will assist us.”

“Princess Wolkonski, Your Excellency?” Dr. Petersen asked.

“Certainly,” nodded the professor. “I have my reasons for bringing her into this little operation–Besides, she is very interested in such things. By the way–how is our patient today?”

The assistant doctor said, “Ah, your Excellency. It is the same old story, always the same now for the two weeks that she has been here. She cries, screams and raves–In short, she wants out. Today she smashed a couple of wash basins to pieces.”

“Have you seriously tried to talk with her again?” asked the professor.

“I tried, but she scarcely let me get a word out,” answered Dr. Petersen. “It is fortunate that tomorrow is finally almost here–How we can ever keep her here until the child comes into the world is a puzzle to me.”

“That won’t be your problem Petersen,” the Privy Councilor clapped him benevolently on the shoulder. “We will find a way–Just do your duty.”

The assistant doctor said, “Your Excellency can count on me for that.”

The early morning sun kissed the honeysuckle leaves in the arbor and clean gardens where the Privy Councilor’s white women’s clinic lay. It lightly fondled the many colored dahlias in their dew fresh beds and caressed the large deep blue clematis on the wall.

Many colored finches and large thrushes ran across the smooth path, scurried through the evenly mown lawn and quickly flew off as eight iron hoofs struck sparks as they lightly hit the cobblestones of the street.

The princess climbed out of the carriage and came with quick strides through the garden. Her cheeks glowed, her strong bosom breathed heavily as she climbed the high steps up to the house. The Privy Councilor came up and opened the door for her.

“Come in, I’ve just had some tea made for you.”

She said–in a panting and hurried voice–“I just came from–there. I saw it. It–it was fabulous–exciting.”

He led her into the room. “Where have you just come from, your Highness? From the– execution?”

“Yes,” she said. “Dr. Petersen will be here soon–I received a ticket–just last night. It was intense–very intense.”

The Privy Councilor offered her a chair. “May I pour for you?”

She nodded, “Please, your Excellency. Very kind of you! A pity that you missed it! He was a splendid fellow–tall–strong.”

“Who?” He asked, “The delinquent?”

She drank her tea, “Yes, certainly, him! The murderer! Muscular and strapping–a powerful chest–like a boxer. He wore some kind of blue sweater–it was open at the neck. No fat, only muscle and sinews. Like a bull.”

“Could your Highness see the execution clearly?” asked the Privy Councilor.

“Perfectly, your Excellency!” she cried. “I stood at the window in the hall. The guillotine was right in front of me. He swayed a bit as he stepped up. They had to support him.”

“Please, another piece of sugar, your Excellency.”

The Privy Councilor served her. “Did he say anything?”

“Yes,” said the princess. “Twice, but each time only one word. The first time as the attorney read the sentence. That’s when he cried out half-loud–but I can’t really repeat it–”

“But your Highness!” The Privy Councilor grinned and patted her lightly on the hand. “You certainly don’t need to get embarrassed in front of me.”

She laughed, “No, certainly not. Well then–but reach me another slice of lemon. Thank you. Put it right there in the cup! Well then–he said, no–I can’t say it.”

“Highness,” said the professor with mild reproof.

She said, “You must close your eyes first.”

The Privy Councilor thought, “Old monkey!” but he closed his eyes. “Now?” he asked.

She still hesitated, “I–I will say it in French–”

“That’s fine–in French then!” he cried impatiently.

Then she pressed her lips together, bent forward and whispered in his ear, “Merde!”

The professor bent backward, the princess’s strong perfume bothered him. “So that’s what he said?”

“Yes,” she nodded. And he said it as if he was indifferent to it all. I found it very attractive, almost gentleman like.”

“Certainly,” confirmed the Privy Councilor. “Only a pity that he didn’t say it in French as well. What was the other word he said?”

“Oh, that was bad,” the princess sipped her tea, nibbled at a cookie. It completely ruined the good impression he had made on me! Just think, your Excellency, just as the executioner’s assistants seized him, he suddenly began to scream and cry like a little child.”

 

“Well,” said the professor. “Another cup, your Highness?–And what did he scream?”

“First he defended himself,” she explained. “The best he could, silent and powerfully even though both hands were tightly tied behind his back. There were three assistants and they threw themselves on him while the executioner stood there watching quietly in his dress suit and white gloves. At first it pleased me, how the murderer threw off the three butchers, how they tore at him and pushed without bringing him one step closer. Oh, it was terribly exciting, your Excellency.”

“I can only imagine, your Highness,” he blurted out.

“But then,” she continued. “Then it all changed. One grabbed his leg while another pushed his bound arms high and he stumbled forward. At that moment he must have felt his resistance was useless, that he was lost. Perhaps–Perhaps he had been a little drunk–and was now suddenly very sober –Pfui–That’s when he screamed.”

The Privy Councilor smiled, “What did he scream? Must I close my eyes again?”

“No,” she cried. “You can leave them open, your Excellency–He became a coward, a pathetic coward, full of fear. He screamed, ‘Mama!–Mama!–Mama!’ dozens of times while they had him on his knees, dragged him to the guillotine and pushed his head into the circular opening of the board.”

“Was he still crying for his mama at the last moment?” asked the Privy Councilor.

“No,” she answered. “Not at the very last. After the hard board was locked firmly around his neck with his head sticking out the other side he became very quiet. Something seemed to be going on inside of him.”

The professor became very attentive, “Could you see his face, your Highness? Could you guess at what was going on inside him?”

The princess said, “I could see him just as clearly as I see you right now sitting in front of me–What was going on inside him–I don’t really know–there was just an instant–After the executioner looked around one last time to see that everything was ready–when his hand pressed the button that released the blade. I saw the eyes of the murderer, they stood wide open, with insane passion, saw his mouth panting and his features contorted with desire–”

She stopped.

“Was that all?” inquired the Privy Councilor.

She finished, “Yes, then the guillotine fell and his head sprang into the sack that one of the assistants held open- Please, reach me the marmalade, your Excellency.”

There was a knock at the door. It opened and Dr. Petersen stepped inside. In his hand swung a long glass tube, tightly corked and wrapped in wadding.

“Good morning, your Highness,” he said. “Good morning, your Excellency–Here–here it is.”

The princess sprang up, “Let me see–”

But the Privy Councilor held her back. “Slow down, your Highness. You will see it soon enough. If it is all right with you, we will get right to work.”

He turned to the assistant doctor, “I don’t know if it will be important, but just in case it would be a good idea if you–”

His voice sunk as he put his lips to the ear of the doctor.

He nodded, “Very well, your Excellency. I will give the orders immediately.”

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Then the Privy Councilor said, “The difference doesn’t seem to be that much to me. You are lost anyway. You will never be a decent person.”

Frank Braun grabbed his head with both hands. “You tell me this, uncle? You?”

“Certainly,” declared the professor. “What do you throw your money away on?–It’s always foolish things.”

“That might well be, uncle,” he threw back. “But I have never stuck money into foolish things the way you have!”

He screamed, and it seemed to him that he was swinging a riding whip right into the middle of the old man’s ugly face. He felt the sting of his words–but also felt how quickly they cut through without resistance–like through foam, like through sticky slime–

Quietly, almost friendly, the Privy Councilor replied. “I see that you are still very stupid my boy. Allow your old uncle to give you some good advice. Perhaps it will be useful sometime in your life.

When you want something from people you must go after their little weaknesses. Remember that. I needed you today. For that I tolerated all the insults you threw at me–But you see how it worked. Now I have what I wanted from you–Now it is different and you come pleading to me. You never once thought it would go any other way–Not when you were so useful to me. Oh no! But perhaps there is something else you can do. Then you might be thankful for this good advice.”

Frank Braun said, “Uncle, I’m going down. Do it–For the first time in you life do it–what I ask of you–I know how it seems–and I will never go against you again. What do you want me to do?–Should I grovel even more before you?–Come, let this be enough–Give me the money.”

Then the Privy Councilor spoke, “I will make you a proposition, nephew. Do you promise to listen quietly? To not bluster and roar again like you always do?”

He said firmly, “Yes, Uncle Jakob.”

“Then listen–You shall have the money that you need to get you out of trouble. If you need more, we will have to talk a little about the amount later. But I need you–need you here at home. I will have it arranged for you to be placed there under house arrest for the duration of your sentence–”

“Why not?” Frank Braun answered. “It doesn’t matter to me if I am here or there. How long will you need me?”

“Around a year, not quite that long,” answered the professor.

“I agree,” said the attorney. “What do I need to do?”

“Oh not much,” replied the old man. “Just a little employment that you are already accustomed to and very good at!

You see, my boy,” the Privy Councilor continued. “I need a little help with this girl that you have arranged for me. You are entirely correct. She will run away from us, will become unspeakably bored during her pregnancy and certainly try to abort the child.

I want you to watch over her and protect our interests, prevent her from doing any of these things. Naturally it is a lot easier to do in a prison or workhouse where guards can continually watch. But unfortunately we are not equipped for that. I can’t lock her up in the terrarium with the frogs or in a cage like the monkeys or guinea pigs can I?”

“Certainly not, uncle.” the attorney said. “You must find some other way.”

The old man nodded, “I have found another way. We need someone that will keep her contented right where she is. Now it appears to me that Dr. Petersen is completely unsuitable to hold her interest for a long time. He could scarcely satisfy her for one night. But it needs to be a man. I was thinking about you–”

Frank Braun pressed the chair arms as if he would break them. He breathed deeply.

“Of me–” he repeated.

“Yes, of you,” the Privy Councilor continued. “It is one of the little things that I need you for. You can keep her from running away, tell her some new nonsense. Put your fantasies to some useful purpose and in the absence of her prince, she can fall in love with you. You will be able to satisfy her sensual and sexual requirements. If you are not enough for her, I’m sure you certainly have friends and acquaintances enough that would be glad to spend a few hours with such a beautiful creature.”

The attorney gasped, his voice rang hot. “Uncle,” he spoke. “Do you know what you are asking? You want me to be the lover of this prostitute while she is carrying the murderer’s child? I should entertain her and find new lovers for her every day? Be her pimp–”

“Certainly,” the professor interrupted him quietly. “I know very well what I’m doing. It appears to be the only thing in the world that you are very good at, my boy.”

He didn’t answer, felt this stroke, felt his cheeks become bright red, his temples glow hot. He felt the blows like long stripes from a riding whip cutting across his face and he understood quite well that his uncle was having his revenge.

The Privy Councilor knew it too, a satisfied grin spread across his drooping features.

“You can be grateful boy,” he said slowly. “We don’t need to deceive each other, you and I. We can say things the way they really are. I will hire you as a pimp for this prostitute.”

Frank Braun felt as if he was lying on the floor helpless, completely unarmed, miserably naked and could not move while the old man stepped on him with his dirty feet and spit into his gaping wounds with his poisonous spittle–He could not find a word to speak. Somehow he staggered dizzily down the stairs and out into the street where he stood staring into the bright morning sun.

He scarcely knew that he left, felt like he had been mugged, dropped by a frightful blow to the head and left lying in the gutter. He scarcely knew who he was any more, wandering through the streets for what seemed like centuries until he stood in front of an advertisement pillar. He read the words on the poster but only saw the words without understanding them. Then he found himself at the train station, went to the counter and asked for a ticket.

“To where?” the attendant asked.

“To where?–Yes–to where?”

He was amazed to hear his own voice say, “Coblenz.”

He searched in all his pockets for money. “Third Class,” he cried.

He had enough for that. He climbed up the steps to the platform. That was when he first realized that he was without a hat–He sat down on a bench and waited.

Then he saw her carried in on a stretcher, saw Dr. Petersen come in behind her. He didn’t move from his place, it felt as if it had absolutely nothing at all to do with him. He saw the train arrive, watched how the doctor opened a cabin in First Class and how the bearers carefully placed their burden inside. Then in back, at the end of the train, he climbed inside.

He clenched his jawbone as hysterical laugher convulsed him. It is so appropriate–he thought. Third class– This is good enough for the menial–for the pimp. Then he forgot again as he sat on the hard bench pressed tightly into his corner and stared down at the floorboards.

The gloomy fog would not leave his head. He heard the names of the stations called one after another and it seemed to him as if they were like sparks flowing through a telegraph wire. At other times it seemed like an eternity between one station and another.

In Cologne he had to get out and change trains. He needed to wait for the one going to the Rhine. But it was no interruption; he scarcely noticed the difference, whether he was sitting on a hard bench there or in the train.

Then he was in Coblenz, climbed out and again wandered through the streets. Night was falling when it finally occurred to him that he needed to get back to the fortress. He went over the bridge, climbed up the rocks in the dark and followed the narrow footpath of the prisoners through the underbrush.

Suddenly he was up above, in the officer’s courtyard, then in his room sitting on his bed. Someone came down the hall and stepped into the room, candle in hand. It was the strong marine medic, Dr. Klaverjahn.

“Well hello,” he cried in the doorway. “The Sergeant-major was right. Back so soon brother? Then come on down the hall. The cavalry captain has a game going.”

Frank Braun didn’t move, scarcely heard what the other was saying. The doctor grabbed his shoulder and shook it heartily.

“Don’t just sit there like a log. Come on!”

Frank Braun sprang up swinging something else high as well. It was the chair that he had grabbed.

He moved a step closer, “Get out.” he hissed, “Get out, you scoundrel!”

Dr. Klaverjahn looked at him standing there in front of him. He looked into the pale, distorted face, the intent threatening eyes. It awoke the medical professional that was still in him and he recognized the condition instantly.

“So that’s how it is,” he said quietly–“Please excuse me.”–

Then he left.

Frank Braun stood for awhile with the chair in his hand. A cold laugh hung on his lips but he was thinking of nothing, nothing at all. He heard a knock at the door, heard it like it was far off in the distance. When he looked up–the little ensign was standing in front of him.

“You are back again, what happened?” he asked and startled a bit when the other didn’t answer.

Then he ran out and came back with a glass and a bottle of Bordeaux.

“Drink, it will be good for you.”

Frank Braun drank. He felt how the wine made his pulse race, felt how his legs trembled, threatening to buckle underneath him. He let himself fall heavily onto the bed.

The ensign supported him.

“Drink,” he urged.

But Frank Braun waved him away. “No, no,” he whispered. “It will make me drunk.”

He laughed weakly, “I don’t think I’ve had anything to eat today–”

A noise rang out from down the hall, loud laughing and yelling.

“What’s going on?” he asked indifferently.

The ensign answered, “They are playing. Two new ones came in yesterday.”

Then he reached into his pocket, “By the way, this came for you this evening. It’s a money dispatch for a hundred Marks. Here.”

Frank Braun took the paper, but had to read it twice before he finally understood what it said. His uncle had sent him a hundred Marks and wrote along with it:

“Please consider this as an advance.”

He sprang up with a bound. The fog rose as a red mist in front of his eyes–Advance! Advance? Oh, for that job the old man wanted him for–for that!

The ensign held the money out to him, “Here’s the money.”

He took it and it burned the tips of his fingers and this pain that he felt as a physical pain almost did him in completely. He shut his eyes, letting the scorching fire in his fingers climb into his hands and up into his arms. He felt this final insult burn deeply down into his bones.

“Bring me–” he cried. “Bring me some wine!”

Then he drank and drank. It seemed to him that the dark wine extinguished the sizzling fire.

“What are they playing?” he asked, “Baccarat?”

“No,” said the ensign. “They are playing dice, Lucky Seven.”

Frank Braun took his arm, “Come on. Let’s go.”

They stepped into the casino.

“Here I am!” he cried. “One hundred Marks on the eight” and he threw his money on the table. The cavalry captain shook the cup. It was a six–

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But his nephew cried, “A coincidence?–Well it might be a coincidence–Everything that is remarkable and mysterious is just a coincidence to you!”

He rang for the waiter.

“Wine, wine,” he cried. “Give me something to drink– Alma Raune–Al Raune, if you will.”

He sat down at the table and leaned over toward the Privy Councilor.

“Uncle Jakob, do you remember old Councilor to the Chamber of Commerce Brunner from Cologne and his son whom he named Marco? We had classes together in school even though he was a couple of years older than I was.

He father named him Marco as a joke and now the boy goes through life as Marco Brunner! Now here is the coincidence. The old Councilor to the Chamber of Commerce is the most sober man in the world and so is his wife. So are all of their children. I believe the only thing they drank in their house at Neumarkt was water, milk, tea and coffee.

But Marco drank. He drank a lot even as an upper level student. We often brought him home drunk. Then he became an ensign and then a lieutenant–that was it. He drank more and more. He did stupid things and was put away. Three times his father had him placed into treatment centers and three times he came out. Within a few weeks he was drinking more than ever.

Now comes the coincidence. He, Marco Brunner, drank–Marcobrunner! That was his obsession. He went into all the wine houses in the city searching for his label. He traveled around on the Rhine drinking up all that he could find of his wine. He drank up the sizable fortune that he had received from his grandmother.

‘Hey everyone,’ he screamed in his delirium. ‘Why does Marco Brunner polish off Marcobrunner? Because Marcobrunner polishes off Marco Brunner!’

The people laughed over his joke–It was all a joke – all a coincidence; just like all of life is a joke and a coincidence.

But I know that the old Councilor for the Chamber of Commerce would have given many hundreds of thousands if he had never made that joke–I also know that he has never forgiven himself for naming his poor son Marco and not Hans or Peter.

In spite of all that it is still a coincidence–a very foolish, grotesque coincidence like this scribbling of the prince’s bride.”

The girl was standing up drunkenly, steadying herself with her hand on the chair.

“The prince’s bride–” she babbled. “Get me the prince in bed!”

She took the bottle of cognac, poured her glass completely full.

“I want the prince, do you hear me? I want all of him, the sugar sweet prince!”

“Unfortunately he is not here,” said Dr. Petersen.

“Not here?” She laughed. “Not here? Then it must be someone else! You–or you–or even you old man–It doesn’t matter as long as it’s a man!”

She ripped her blouse off, removed her skirt, loosened her bodice and threw it crashing against the mirror.

“I want a man–I’ll take all three of you! Bring someone in from the street if you want.”

Her shift slid down and she stood naked in front of the mirror lifting up her breasts with both hands.

“Who wants me?” she cried loudly. “Let’s play–all together! It doesn’t cost anything today–because it’s a celebration to help the children and the soldiers.”

She spread her arms out wide reaching into the air. “Soldiers–” she screamed. “I want an entire regiment.”

“Shame on you,” said Dr. Petersen. “Is that any way for a prince’s bride to act?”

But his gaze lingered greedily on her firm breasts.

She laughed. “It doesn’t matter–prince or no prince! Anyone that wants me can have me! My children are whore’s children whether they be from beggar or from a prince.”

Her body became aroused and her breasts extended towards the men. Hot lust radiated from her white flesh, lascivious blood streamed through her blue veins–and her gaze, her quivering lips, her demanding arms, her inviting legs, her hips, and her breasts screamed out with wild desire, “Take me. Take me!”

She was not a prostitute any more–The last veils had been removed and she stood there free of all fetters, the pure female, the prototype, the ideal, from top to bottom.

“Oh, she is the one!” Frank Braun whispered. “Mother Earth–she is Mother Earth–”

A sudden trembling came over her as her skin shivered. Her feet dragged heavily as she staggered over to the sofa.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” she murmured. “Everything is spinning!”

“You’re just a little tipsy,” said the attorney quickly. “Drink this and then sleep it off.”

He put another full glass of cognac up to her mouth.

“Yes, I would like to sleep,” she stammered. “Will you sleep with me, youngster?”

She threw herself down onto the sofa, stretched out both legs into the air, laughed out lightly, then sobbed loudly and wept until she was still. Then she turned onto her side and closed her eyes.

Frank Braun pushed a pillow under her head and covered her up. He ordered coffee, went to the window and opened it wide but shut it again a moment later as the early morning light broke in. He turned around.

“Now gentlemen, are you satisfied with this object?”

Dr. Petersen looked at the prostitute with an admiring eye.

“I believe she will do very well,” he opinioned. “Look at her hips, your Excellency, it’s like she is predestined for an impeccable birth.”

The waiter came and brought coffee. Frank Braun commanded him, “Telephone the nearest ambulance. We need a stretcher brought in here for the lady. She has become very sick.”

The Privy Councilor looked at him in astonishment, “What was that all about?”

“That is called–” laughed his nephew. “hitting the nail on the head. It’s called that I am thinking for you and that I am more intelligent than you are. Do you really think that when the girl is sober again she would go one step with you? Even as long as I kept her drunk with words and with wine I still needed to come up with something new to keep her interest. She would run away from both of you heroes at the nearest street corner in spite of all the money and all the princes in the world!

That is why I had to take control. Dr. Petersen, when the ambulance comes you will take the girl immediately to the train station. If I’m not wrong the early train leaves at six o’clock, be on it. You will take an entire cabin and put your patient into bed there. I don’t think she will wake up, but if she does give her some more cognac. You might add a couple drops of morphine as well. That way you should be comfortably in Bonn by evening with your booty–Telegraph ahead so the Privy Councilor’s carriage is waiting for you at the train station. Put the girl inside and take her to your clinic–Once she is there it will not be so easy for her to escape–You have your ways of keeping her there I’m sure.”

“Forgive me, doctor.” The assistant doctor turned to him, “This almost appears like a forcible kidnapping.”

“Yes it does,” nodded the attorney. “Salve your citizen’s conscience with the knowledge that you have a contract!–Now don’t talk about it, do it!–Do what you are told.”

Dr. Petersen turned to his chief, who was quiet and brooding in the middle of the room and asked whether he could take first class, which room at the clinic he should put the girl in, whether they needed a special assistant and–

During all this Frank Braun stepped up to the sleeping prostitute.

“Beautiful girl,” he murmured. “Your locks creep like fiery golden adders.”

He pulled a narrow golden ring from his finger, one with a little pearl on it. Then he took her hand and placed it on her finger.

“Take this, Emmy Steenhop gave me this ring when I magically poisoned her flowers. She was beautiful, strong, and like you, was a remarkable prostitute!–Sleep child, dream of your prince and your prince’s child!”

He bent over and kissed her lightly on the forehead–The ambulance orderlies came with a stretcher. They took the sleeping prostitute and carefully placed her on the stretcher, covered her with a warm woolen blanket and carried her out. Like a corpse, thought Frank Braun. Dr. Petersen excused himself and went after them.

Now the two of them were alone.

A few minutes went by and neither of them spoke. Then the Privy Councilor spoke to his nephew.

“Thank you,” he said dryly.

“Don’t mention it,” replied his nephew. “I only did it because I wanted to have a little fun and variety. I would be lying if I said I did it for you.”

The Privy Councilor continued standing there right in front of him, twiddling his thumbs.

“I thought as much. By the way, I will share something that you might find interesting. As you were chatting about the prince’s child, it occurred to me that when this child is born into the world I should adopt it.”

He laughed, “You see, your story was not that far from the truth and this little alraune creature already has the power to take things from you even before it is conceived. I will name it as my heir. I’m only telling you this now so you won’t have any illusions about inheriting.”

Frank Braun felt the cut. He looked his uncle straight in the eye.

“That’s just as well Uncle Jakob,” he said quietly. “You would have disinherited me sooner or later anyway, wouldn’t you?”

The Privy Councilor held his gaze and didn’t answer. Then the attorney continued.

“Now perhaps it would be best if we use this time to settle things with each other–I have often angered you and disgusted you–For that, you have disinherited me. We are quit.

But I gave you this idea and you have me to thank that it is now possible. For that you owe me a little gratitude. I have debts–”

The professor listened, a quick grin spread over his face.

“How much?” he asked.

Frank Braun answered, “–Now it depends–twenty thousand ought to cover it.”

He waited, but the Privy Councilor calmly let him wait.

“Well?” he asked impatiently.

Then the old man said, “Why do you say ‘well’? Do you seriously believe that I will pay your debts for you?”

Frank Braun stared at him. Hot blood shot through his temples, but he restrained himself.

“Uncle Jakob,” he said, and his voice shook. “I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t need to. One of my debts is urgent, very urgent. It is a gambling debt, on my honor.”

The professor shrugged his shoulders; “You shouldn’t have been gambling.”

“I know that,” answered his nephew, exerting all of his nerves to control himself. “Certainly, I shouldn’t have done it. But I did–and now I must pay. There is something else–I can’t go to mother with these things. You know as well as I do that she already does more for me than she should–She just a while ago put all my affairs in order for me–Now, because of that she’s sick–In short, I can’t go to her and I won’t.”

The Privy Councilor laughed bittersweet, “I am very sorry for your poor mother but it will not make me change my mind.”

“Uncle Jakob,” he cried into the cold sneering mask, beside himself with emotion. “Uncle Jakob, you don’t know what you are saying. I owe some fellow prisoners at the fortress a thousand and I must pay them back by the end of the week. I have a few other pathetic little debts to people that have loaned me money on my good face. I can’t cheat them. I also pumped money out of the commander so that I could travel here–”

“Him too!” the professor interrupted.

“Yes, him too!” he replied. “I lied to him, told him that you were on your death bed and that I had to be near you in your final hours. That’s why he gave me leave.”

The Privy Councilor wagged his head back and forth, “You told him that?–You are a veritable genie at borrowing and swindling–But now that must finally come to an end.”

“Blessed Virgin,” screamed the nephew. “Be reasonable Uncle Jakob! I must have the money–I am lost if you don’t help me.”

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