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“It is a splendid story,” he declared. “There is a gentleman, he is a count–well, really a prince, a good looking fellow. You would really like him. But unfortunately you can’t see him. They have him in prison and he will be executed soon. The poor fellow, especially since he is as innocent as you or I. He is just somewhat irascible and that’s how the misfortune happened. While he was intoxicated he got into a quarrel with his best friend and shot him. Now he must die.”

“What should I do?” She asked quickly. Her nostrils quivered. Her interest in this curious prince was fully aroused.

“You,” he continued. “You can help him fulfil his last wish–”

“Yes,” she cried quickly. “Yes, yes!–He wants to be with a woman one more time right? I will do it, do it gladly–and he will be satisfied with me!”

“Well done, Alma,” said the attorney. “Well done. You are a good girl– but things are not that simple. Pay attention so you understand.

After he had stabbed–I mean shot his friend to death he ran to his family. They should have protected him, hid him, helped him to escape but they didn’t do that at all. They knew how immensely rich he was and thought there was a good possibility that they would inherit everything from him so they called the police instead.”

“The Devil!” Alma said with conviction.

“Yes, they did,” he continued. “It was frightfully mean of them. So he was imprisoned and what do you think he wants now?”

“Revenge,” she replied promptly.

He clapped her approvingly on the shoulder.

“That’s right Alma. I see you have read all the right books. So he is determined to get revenge on his treacherous family and the only way to do it was to cut them off from his inheritance. You understand everything so far don’t you?”

“Naturally I understand,” she declared. “It would serve them right.”

“But how to do it,” he continued. “That was the question. After long deliberation he found the only possible way. The only way he could prevent his millions to be taken was if he had a child of his own!”

“Does the prince have one?” she asked.

“No,” he answered. “Unfortunately he has none. But he still lives. There is still time–”

Her breath flew and her breasts heaved quickly, “I understand,” she cried. “I can have the prince’s child.”

“That’s right,” he said. “Will you?”

And she screamed, “Yes I will.”

She threw herself back in the lounge chair, spread out her legs and opened her arms wide. A heavy lock of red hair fell down onto her neck. Then she sprang up, emptied her glass again.

“It’s hot in here,” she said. “–Very hot!”

She tore her blouse off and fanned herself with a handkerchief.

He held her glass out to her. “Would you like some more? Come, we will drink to the prince!”

Their glasses clinked together.

“A nice robber story you tell there,” hissed the Privy Councilor to his nephew. “I am curious how it comes out.”

“Have no fear, Uncle Jakob,” he came back. “There is still another chapter.”

Then he turned again to the red haired prostitute.

“Well then, that is what it’s all about Alma. That’s how you can help us. But there is still a problem that I must explain to you. As you know, the baron–”

“She interrupted him, “The baron? I thought he was a prince?”

“Naturally he is a prince,” confirmed Frank Braun. “But when he is incognito he calls himself baron– That’s the way it is with princes.

Now then, his Highness, the prince–”

“His Highness?” she whispered.

“Certainly,” he cried. “Highness like King or Kaiser! But you must swear that you will not talk about it–not to any one–So then, the prince is in disgrace now in a dungeon and heavily guarded at all times. No one is permitted to see him except his attorney. It is highly unlikely that he will be able to be with a woman before his last hour.”

“Oh,” she sighed.

Her interest in the unlucky prince was visibly less but Frank Braun paid no attention.

“There,”–he declaimed totally unperturbed in a voice ringing with pathos–, “deep in his heart, in his terrible need, in his dreadful despair and unquenchable thirst for revenge he suddenly thought about the strange experiments of his Excellency, the genuine Privy Councilor, Professor, Doctor, ten Brinken, the shining light of science.

The young handsome prince, now in the spring of his life, still remembered well his golden boyhood and the good old gentleman that looked after him when he had whooping cough and that sent him bon-bons when he was sick–There he sits, Alma. Look at him, the instrument of the unlucky prince’s revenge!”

He waved with grand gestures toward his uncle.

“That worthy Gentleman there,” he continued, “has in his time advanced medical knowledge many miles. You know how children come into the world Alma, and you also know how they are created. But you don’t know the secret mysteries of life that this benefactor of humanity has discovered! He knows how to create children without the mother and father ever seeing each other! The noble prince would be at peace in his dungeon or at rest in his fresh grave knowing that you, dear girl, with the good help of this old gentleman and under the expert care of this good Doctor Petersen will become the mother of his child.”

Alma looked across over at the Privy Councilor. She didn’t like this sudden shift, this weird transformation of turning a handsome wellborn prince into an old and very ugly professor. It didn’t appeal to her at all.

Frank Braun noticed as well and began a new line of persuasion, trying to get her to think of something else.

“Naturally the prince’s child, Anna, your child, must remain hidden after it comes into this world. He must remain hidden until he is fully-grown to protect him from the persecution and intrigue of his evil family–Naturally he would be a prince, just like his father.”

“My child would be a prince?” she whispered.

“Yes, of course,” he confirmed. “Or maybe a princess. That is something we can not know. It will inherit the castle, the grounds and several millions in money. But you will not be permitted to force yourself on him and compromise everything.”

That did it. Fat tears ran down her cheeks. She was already in her role, feeling the grief and sorrow of having to give up her beloved child. She was a prostitute, but her child would be a prince! She couldn’t be in his life. She would have to remain quiet, suffer and endure everything–for her child. It would never know who its mother was.

A heavy sob seized her, shook her entire body. She threw herself over the table, buried her head in her arms and wept bitterly.

Tenderly, almost lovingly he laid his hand on her neck softly stroking her wild loose hair. He could taste the sugar water in the lemonade that he had mixed as well and took her very seriously in this moment.

“Magdalena,” he whispered to her. “Magdalena–”

She righted herself, stuck her hand out to him.

“I promise you that I will never press myself on him. He will never hear me or see me, but–but–”

“What is it girl?” he asked softly.

She grabbed his arm, fell onto her knees in front of him and buried her head in his lap.

“Only once–only once!” she cried. “Can’t I see him just one time? From a distance–perhaps out of a window?”

“Will you finish this trashy comedy,” the Privy Councilor threw at him.

Frank Braun looked wildly at him–and knew his uncle was right but something in his blood rebelled and he hissed back:

“Quiet you old fool! Don’t you see how beautiful this is?”

He bent back down over the prostitute, “Yes, girl. You shall see him, your young prince. I will take you along when he leads his soldiers for the first time, or to the theater when he is sitting above in the box–You can see him then–”

She didn’t answer, but she squeezed his hand and tears mixed in with her kisses. Then he slowly straightened her up, carefully set her back in the chair and gave her some more to drink. It was a large glass half full of cognac.

“Will you do it?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said softly. “I will–What should I do?”

He reflected a moment, “First–first–we will draw up a little contract.”

He turned to the assistant doctor.

“Do you have some paper, doctor? And a quill? Good! Then you can write. Write everything twice, if you please.”

He dictated, said that the undersigned of her own free will would agree to be at the disposal of his Excellency ten Brinken for the purpose of this experiment. She would solemnly promise to faithfully obey all the orders of this gentleman. And further, that after the birth of the child she would completely renounce all claim to it.

In return his Excellency would immediately place fifteen thousand Marks into a savings account in the name of the undersigned and turn this account over to her upon the delivery of the child. He would further provide for her maintenance and support up to that time and carry all costs as well as giving her a monthly allowance of one hundred Marks to use as she pleased.

He took the paper and read it out loud one time.

“It doesn’t say anything about the prince!” she said.

“Naturally it doesn’t,” he declared. “That must remain highly secret.”

She could see that, but there was still something that bothered her.

“Why–” she  asked. “Why did you pick me? Any woman would gladly do what she could for the poor prince.”

He hesitated. This question was a little unexpected but he found an answer.

“Well, you know,” he began. “it is like this–The prince’s childhood sweetheart was a very beautiful duchess. He loved her with all his heart as only a real prince can love and she loved the handsome young noble just as much. But she died.”

“How did she die?” Alma asked.

“She died of–of the measles. The prince’s beloved had golden red hair just like yours. She looked exactly like you. The prince’s last wish is that the mother of his child look like the beloved of his youth. He gave us her picture and described her to us exactly. We searched all over Europe and never found the right one–until tonight when we saw you.”

She was flattered and laughed. “Do I really look like the beautiful duchess?”

He cried, “You could have been sisters!–By the way, can we take your photograph? It would make the prince very happy to see your picture!”

He handed the writing quill over to her, “Now sign, child!”

She took the paper and wrote “Al–” Then she stopped.

“There is a fat hair in the quill.”

She took a napkin and cleaned the quill with it.

“Damn–” murmured Frank Braun. “It occurs to me that she is not yet an adult. Legally we must also have her father’s signature–Oh well, this will do for the contract. Just write!–By the way, what is your father’s name?”

She said, “My father is Master Baker Raune in Halberstadt.”

Then she wrote her father’s name in clumsy slanting letters. Frank Braun took the paper out of her hand and looked at it. He let it fall and picked it up again staring at it.

“By all that’s Holy,” he cried out loud. “That–that is–”

“What’s the matter now, Herr Doctor?” asked the assistant doctor.

He handed the contract over to him, “There–there–look at the signature.”

Dr. Petersen looked at the sheet of paper.

“So,” he asked puzzled. “I don’t see anything remarkable about it.”

“No, no, naturally not, you wouldn’t,” cried Frank Braun. “Give the contract to the Privy Councilor. Now read that, Uncle Jakob!”

The professor examined the signature. The girl had forgotten to finish writing her first name. “Al Raune” was written on the paper.

“Of all things–A remarkable coincidence,” said the professor.

He folded both sheets carefully together and stuck them in his breast pocket.

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In the meantime back in the café the Privy Councilor offered the women something to drink. They wanted sherry brandy and asked if he could possibly pay their other tab, two beers, pancakes and a cup of coffee. The Privy Councilor paid, then tried his luck. He had a proposal to make and they might be interested he said. But only one of them could accept his very profitable offer and they would have to throw dice to see who got it.

Thin Jenny laid her arm on his shoulder. “We better roll those dice quick old man, that’s for sure! The ladies and I–we want to know what an old goat like you can teach us in bed that we don’t already know!”

Elly, a petite doll headed blonde seconded her.

“What my friend means is don’t waste our time. Bring on the money!”

She sprang up and got some dice. “Now children, let’s find out who gets to accept the old man’s proposal.”

But fat Anna, the one they called “The Hen”, protested.

“I always lose at dice,” she said. “Won’t you pay some consolation money, uncle, for the ones that don’t win?”

“Certainly,” said the Privy Councilor. “Five marks for each of you.”

He laid three fat pieces of silver on the table.

“You are swell!” Jenny praised him and confirmed it by ordering another round of Sherry-Brandy. She was also the winner. She took the three pieces of money and handed them to the others.

“There, you have your consolation money. Now open up you old rascal and tell me all of the shameful things that you want me to do. I am prepared.”

“Then listen dear child,” began the Privy Councilor. “It concerns some very unusual things–”

“You are a man, aren’t you?” the prostitute interrupted him. “I’m not a virgin anymore and haven’t been one for a long time. Our dear God has some strange beasts running around in his zoo and I’ve picked up a few things along the way. It will be hard to show me something new.”

“But you don’t understand me at all, dear Jenny,” said the Professor. “I demand nothing like that of you at all. I want you to take part in a scientific experiment.”

“I knew it,” Jenny blurted out. “I knew it–You are a Doctor aren’t you old man?–I had a Doctor once that always began with scientific experiments–He was the greatest pig of them all!–Now Prosit, uncle. That’s fine with me. I will fulfill all of your delightful fantasies.”

The Privy Councilor toasted and drank to her.

“We shall see soon enough how free from prejudice you really are–To make it short, this concerns an experiment with artificial insemination.”

“A what?” the girl started. “Artificial–insemination? What’s the need for that?–The common way seems to work well enough!”

The dark haired Clara grinned.

“I think it would be better to have an experiment to prevent pregnancy.”

Dr. Petersen came to his master’s aid.

“Will you permit me to try and explain to them?”

When the Privy Councilor nodded he gave a little lecture about the basic concept, the results that had been obtained so far and the possibilities for the future. He stressed sharply that the procedure was completely painless and that all the animals they had worked with up to now had remained completely healthy.

“What kind of animals?” Jenny asked.

The assistant doctor answered, “Up until now only rats, monkeys and guinea-pigs – ”

That set her off, “Guinea-pigs!–I might be a pig–I’ve been called an old sow! But no one has ever called me a Guinea pig! And you, you fat headed old hedgehog, want me to allow you to treat me like a Guinea pig?–Never, do you understand! That is something Jenny Lehman will not do!”

The Privy Councilor tried to calm her down, gave her another schnapps.

“You don’t understand dear child–” he began.

But she wouldn’t let him finish.

“I understand well enough,” she said. “I should give myself up to some greasy beast–or be inoculated with some filthy serum–or germ–I might even end up on your vivisection table.”

She was getting into it now, becoming overcome with anger and passion.

“Or I should bring some monster into this world that you can show at the circus! A child with two heads and a rat’s tail or one that looks half Guinea pig–I know where they abort such monstrous things–and you want to breed them. I should give myself up for that? Let you artificially inseminate me?–Look out old pig–here is what I think of your artificial insemination.”

She sprang up, bent over the table and spit into the Privy Councilor’s face. Then she raised the little glass, quietly drank it, turned quickly around and proudly walked away.

At the same moment Frank Braun appeared in the door and waved for them to come outside.

“Come here Herr Doctor, come here quick!” Dr. Petersen called out to him as he was trying to wipe the Privy Councilor clean.

“Now what’s going on?” the attorney asked as he stepped up to the table.

The professor squinted at him. He appeared to be bitter and angry. The three prostitutes were shouting in confusion as Dr. Petersen explained what had happened.

“What should we do now?” he finished.

Frank Braun shrugged his shoulders, “Do? Nothing at all. Pay and go–nothing else–By the way, I’ve found what we need.”

They went out. The red haired prostitute stood in front of the door waving down a taxi with her parasol. Frank Braun pushed her inside, then let the Privy Councilor and his assistant climb in. He called out the address to the coachman and climbed in with the others.

“Permit me to make introductions,” he cried. “Miss Alma–his Excellency Privy Councilor ten Brinken–and the good doctor Herr Karl Petersen.”

“Are you crazy?” The professor began.

“Not at all Uncle Jakob,” said the attorney quietly. “Fräulein Alma will learn your name anyway if she stays for a long time at your home or your clinic whether you like it or not.”

He turned to the prostitute, “Excuse me, Fräulein  Alma. My uncle is a little old!”

He couldn’t see the Privy Councilor in the dark but he could clearly hear how his uncle pressed his wide lips together in impotent rage. It pleased him and he thought that his uncle would finally loose it but he was wrong. The Privy Councilor remained calm.

“So have you already told the young lady what this is about? Does she understand?”

Frank Braun laughed in his face. “She has no idea! I have not spoken a word about it, have only been with Fräulein Alma scarcely a hundred steps from across the street–I’ve scarcely spoken ten words with her–but I have seen how she dances–”

“But Herr Doctor,” the assistant doctor interrupted him. After what we have just experienced wouldn’t it be better to let her know?”

“Dear Petersen,” the attorney said arrogantly. “Calm down. I am convinced that this is just the girl we need and I think that is enough.”

The coach stopped in front of a wine locale and they entered. Frank Braun asked for a private room in the back and the waiter led them to one. Then he looked at the wine selection and ordered two bottles of Pommery and a bottle of cognac.

“Hurry up!” he cried.

The waiter brought the wine and left. Frank Braun closed the door. Then he stepped up to the prostitute.

“Please Fräulein Alma, may I take your hat?”

She gave him her hat and her wild, unpinned hair cascaded down and curled around her forehead and cheeks. Her face was clear with just a few freckles and her green eyes shimmered. Small rows of bright teeth shone out between thin pale lips and she was surrounded by a consuming, almost unnatural sensuality.

“Take off your blouse,” he said.

She obeyed quietly. He loosened both buttons of her shift at the shoulders and pulled it down to reveal two almost classically formed breasts that were only a little too firm. Frank Braun glanced over at his uncle.

“That will be enough,” he said. “The rest will look just as good. Her hips certainly leave nothing more to desire.”

Then he turned back to the prostitute. “Thank you Alma. You may get dressed again.”

The girl obeyed, took the cup that he offered and emptied it. During that hour he made sure that her cup never stood empty for more than a minute. Then he chatted with her. He talked about Paris, spoke of beautiful women at the de la Galette in Moulin and at the Elysée in Montmartre. He described exactly how they looked, described their shoes, their hats and their dresses. Then he turned to the prostitute.

“You know Alma, it is really a shame to see you running around here. Please don’t think badly of me but haven’t I seen you before somewhere else? Were you ever in the Union Bar or the Arcadia?”

No, she had never been in them or in the Amour Hall. Once she had gone with a gentleman to the old Ballroom but when she went back alone the next night she was turned away at the door because she wasn’t dressed properly.

“Of course you need to be dressed properly,” Frank Braun confirmed. “Do you think you will ever again stand all dressed up in front of that ballroom door?”

The prostitute laughed, “It doesn’t really matter–a man is a man!”

He paid no attention and told her fabulous stories of women that had made their fortunes in the great ballrooms. He spoke of beautiful pearl necklaces and large diamonds, carriages and teams of white horses. Then suddenly he asked.

“Tell me, how long have you been running around here?”

She said quietly, “It’s been four years since I ran away from home.”

He questioned her, pulled out of her bit by bit what he wanted to know. He drank with her, filling her glass and pouring cognac into her champagne without her noticing. She was almost twenty years old and had come from Halberstadt. Her father was an honest Baker, honorable and distinguished like her mother and like her six sisters.

She had first lain with a man a few days after her confirmation. He was an associate of her father’s. Had she loved him? Not at all–well only when–yes and then there was another and then another. Both her father and her mother had beaten her but she would still run off and stay out all night. It went on like that for a year – until one day her parents threw her out. Then she pawned her watch and traveled to Berlin. She had been here ever since–

Frank Braun said, “Yes, yes. That is quite a story.” Then he continued, “But now, today is your lucky day!”

“Really,” she asked. “Why do you say that?”

Her voice rang hoarse like it was under a veil, “One day is just a good as another to me–All I need is a man, nothing else!”

But he knew how to get her interest, “But Alma, you have to be contented with any man that wants you! Wouldn’t you like it if it were the other way around?–If you could have anyone that you wanted?”

Her eyes lit up at that. “Oh yes, I would really like that!”

He laughed, “Well have you ever met anyone on the street that you wanted and he wouldn’t give you the time of day? Wouldn’t it be great if you could choose him instead?”

She laughed, “You, my boy. I would really like to–”

“Me as well,” he agreed. “Then and any time you wanted. But you can only do that when you have money and that is why I said that today is your lucky day because you can earn a lot of money today if you want.”

“How much,” she asked.

He said, “Enough money to buy you all the dresses and jewelry that will get you into the finest and most distinguished ballrooms. How much?–Let’s say ten thousand–or make it twelve thousand Marks.”

“What!” gasped the assistant doctor.

The professor, who had never even considered such a sum snapped, “You seem to be somewhat free with other people’s money.”

Frank Braun laughed in delight. “Do you hear that Alma, how the Privy Councilor is beside himself over the sum that he should give you? But I must tell you that it is not free. You will be helping him and he should help you as well. Is fifteen thousand alright with you?”

She looked at him with enormous eyes.

“Yes, but what do I need to do for it?”

“That is the thing that is so funny,” he said. “You don’t need to do anything right now, only wait a little bit. That’s all.”

She drank, “Wait?” She cried gaily, “I’m not very good at waiting. But if I must for fifteen thousand Marks I will! Prosit boy!” and she emptied her glass.

He quickly filled it up again.

Ch4-D Alma

In the back a man in a greasy tight fitting suit sat at a piano continually playing one popular song after another. At times a few drinkers bellowed out words to the songs until the bouncer came over to quiet them down and tell them that this was a respectable place and they couldn’t do that.

Little clerks ran around and a couple good citizens from the province sat at a nearby table making advances and talking dirty to the prostitutes. A waiter swung between the tables bringing an unappetizing brown sauce in glasses and a yellow one in cups. It was called bouillon and the other Melange. He also carried a full carafe of schnapps with little striped shot glasses.

Two women came up to their table and asked for coffee. It was no big deal; they just sat down and ordered.

“The blonde perhaps?” whispered Dr. Petersen.

But the attorney waved him away. “No, no not at all–She is only flesh. Not much better than your monkeys.”

A short one in the back of the room caught his eye. She was dark and her eyes seethed with eagerness. He stood up and waved to her. She loosened herself from her companion and came over to him.

“Listen–” he began.

But she said, “Not tonight, I already have a gentleman–Tomorrow if you want.”

“Get rid of him,” he urged. “Come with us. We are looking for something special.”

That was tempting. “Tomorrow– can’t it wait until tomorrow darling? I really can’t tonight. He’s an old customer. He paid twenty Marks.”

Frank Braun gripped her arm, “I will pay much more, a lot more. Do you understand? You will have it made. It’s not for me–It’s for the old man over there. He wants something special.”

She stopped. Her gaze followed his eyes to the Privy Councilor. “Him, over there?”

She sounded disappointed. “What would he be wanting?”

“Lucy,” screamed the man at her table.

“I’m coming,” she answered. “Not tonight. We can talk about it tomorrow if you want. Come back here around this time.”

“Stupid woman,” he whispered.

“Don’t be angry. He will kill me if I don’t go with him tonight. He’s always that way when he’s drunk. Come tomorrow–do you hear me? And leave the old man–Come alone. You won’t need to pay if you don’t like it.”

She left him standing and ran over to her table.

Frank Braun saw how the dark gentleman with the starched felt hat bitterly reproached her. Oh yes, she had to remain true to him–for tonight. He went through the hall slowly looking at the prostitutes but couldn’t find any that looked corrupt enough. There was still a last residue of self-respect, some instinctive certainty of belonging to some other class of society.

No, there were none of the lowest of the low. The pert and saucy ones that had their own way, that knew what they wanted to be, whores. He could hardly define what it was that he was looking for. It was a feeling. She must love what she does, he thought, and want no other. She would not be like these others that through some chance unfortunate coincidence had wound up here.

These upright little women would have been workers, waitresses, secretaries or even telephone operators if their lives had only been just a little bit different. They were only prostitutes because the coarse greed of males made it that way.

No, the one he was looking for should be a prostitute. Not because she couldn’t be anything else, but because every inch of her body screamed for new embraces, because under the caresses of one lover, her soul already longed for the kisses of another. She needed to be a prostitute just like he–he hesitated. What was he? Tired and resigned, he finished his thought, just like he needed to be a dreamer.

He returned back to the table, “Come uncle. She is not here. We will go some other place.”

The Privy Councilor protested but his nephew wouldn’t listen.

“Come uncle,” he repeated. “I promised you that I would find someone and I will find her.”

They stood up, paid, went across the street and then further to the north.

“Where,” asked Dr. Petersen.

The attorney didn’t answer, just kept walking, and looking at the big signs on the coffeehouses. Finally he stopped.

“Café–Drinks–Gentlemen,” he murmured. “That would be right.”

These dirty rooms were furnished in every style imaginable. To be sure, the little white marble tables stood here as well and plush red sofas were stuck against the walls. The rooms were lit with the same electric bulbs and the same flat-footed waiters shoved through the crowd in sticky suit coats.

But there was no pretense. Everything appeared just as it really was. The air was bad, smoky and stuffy, but when you breathed it in you felt better and freer somehow. There was no constraint and students sat at nearby tables drinking their beer and talking dirty with the women. They were all confident, sure of themselves, as mighty floods of filth flowed out of their lips. One of them, small and fat with a face full of dueling scars appeared inexhaustible and the women neighed and bent over writhing with resounding laughter.

Pimps sat around on the walls playing cards or sitting alone, staring at the drunken musicians and whistling along while drinking their schnapps. Once in awhile a prostitute would come in, go up to one of them, speak a few hurried words and then disappear again.

“This will do!” Frank Braun said. He waved to the waiter, ordered cherry water and told him to send a few women over to the table. Four came but as they sat down he saw another going out the door, a tall, strong woman in a white silk blouse with luxurious fiery red hair springing out from under a little hat. He leaped up and rushed out into the street after her.

She went up the road slowly, indolently, lightly rocking her hips. She curved to the left and entered into a doorway. Glowing red letters arched over it, “North Pole Dance Hall”. He stepped across the dirty yard after her and entered into the smoky hall almost the same time she did but she didn’t notice. She stood standing out in front looking over the dancing crowd.

It was noisy with yells and shouts; men and women whirled around moving their legs till the dust flew high as the harsh words of the Rix Dorfer howled through the music. It was rough, crude and wild as the dancers pushed through each other and the crowd was certainly growing.

He liked the Croquette and the Likette that they danced over on the Montmartre and in the Latin Quarter on the other side of the Seine and fell into them easily. They were lighter, more grand and full of charm. There was none of that in this shoving, seething mass, not the slightest twinge of what the French girls called “focus”.

But a hot blood screamed out of the Rix Dorfer, a wild passion was driving the dancers crazy throughout the dance hall. The music stopped and the dance master collected money in his dirty sweaty hands from the women, not from the men. Then he bowed to the audience and gestured grandly for the band in the gallery to start a new dance.

But the crowd didn’t want the Rhinelander. They screamed at the conductor, yelling at him to stop but the orchestra played on battling against the will of the dance hall, secure high above and behind their balustrade.

Then the Maitre pressed out onto the floor. He knew his women and his fellows, held them solidly in his hand and would not be intimidated by drunken yells or threatening raised fists. But he also knew when he had to give in.

“Play the Emil,” he called up. “Play the Emil!”

A fat female in a huge hat wound her arm around the dance master’s dusty suit coat.

“Bravo, Justav. That was well done!”

His influence spread like oil over the raging crowd. They laughed, pressed onto the dance floor, cried “Bravo”, and slapped him whole heartedly on the back or playfully punched him in the belly. Then, as the waltz began he broke out in song, screaming and hoarse:

“Emil, you are a plant,

You climb all over me!

Are always quick to kiss

And that’s why I love you!”

“Alma,” cried out someone in the middle of the room. “There’s Alma!”

He left his partner standing, sprang up and grabbed the red haired prostitute by the arm. He was a short dark fellow with smooth hair curling tight against his forehead and bright piercing eyes.

“Come,” he cried, grabbing her tightly around the waist.

The prostitute danced. More daring than the others, she pranced the waltz letting her partner whirl her quickly around. After a few beats she was completely into the dance, throwing her hips around, bending forward and backward, pressing her body up against her partner in constant contact. It was shameless, vulgar and brutally sensual.

Frank Braun heard a voice near him, saw the dance master watching the prostitute with keen appreciation.

“Damn, that whore can swing her ass!”

Oh yes, she could swing her ass! She swung it high and cheeky like a flag, like a storm filled banner of naked lust, like the Baroness Gudel de Gudelfeld swung hers for the applause of the Crown Prince.

She doesn’t need any ornaments thought Frank Braun as his eyes followed her down the hall and back. He quickly stepped up to her as the music stopped and laid his hand on her arm.

“Pay first,” the dark haired man laughed at him.

He gave the man a coin. The prostitute looked him over with a quick look, examining him from top to bottom.

“I live nearby,” she said. “Scarcely three minutes in the–”

He interrupted her, “It doesn’t matter where you live, come with me.”

“Where are we?” he asked drowsily.

“Almost to Friedrichstrasse station.”

He gathered his things together, climbed out and went to the hotel. He got a room, bathed, changed clothes and then went down for breakfast. He ran into Dr. Petersen at the door.

“Oh there you are dear Doctor! His Excellency will be overjoyed!”

His Excellency! Again his Excellency! It sounded wrong to his ears.

“How is my uncle?” he asked. “Better?”

“Better?” repeated the doctor. “What do you mean better? His Excellency has not been sick!”

“Is that so,” said Frank Braun. “Not sick! That’s too bad. I thought uncle was on his deathbed.”

Dr. Petersen looked at him very bewildered. “I don’t understand at all–”

He interrupted him, “It’s not important. I am only sorry that the Privy Counselor is not on his deathbed. That would have been so nice! Then I would have inherited right? Unless he has disowned me. That is also very possible–even more likely.”

He saw the bewildered doctor standing before him and fed on his discomfort for a moment.

Then he continued, “But tell me doctor, since when has my uncle been called his Excellency?”

“It’s been four days, the opportunity–”

He interrupted him, “Only four days! And how many years now have you been with him–as his right hand?”

“Now that would be at least ten years now,” replied Dr. Petersen.

“And for ten years you have called him Privy Councilor and he has replied back to you. But now in these four days he has become so completely his Excellency to you that you can’t even think of him any other way than in the third person?”

“Permit me, Herr Doctor,” said the assistant doctor, intimidated and pleading. Permit me to–What do you mean anyway?”

But Frank Braun took him under the arm and led him to the breakfast table.

“Oh, I know that you are a man of the world doctor! One with form and manners–with an inborn instinct for proper behavior–I know that–and now doctor, let’s have breakfast and you can tell me what you have been up to in the meantime.”

Doctor Petersen gratefully sat down, thoroughly reconciled and happy that was over with. This young attorney that he had known as a young schoolboy was quite a windbag and a true hothead–but he was the nephew–of his Excellency.

The assistant doctor was about thirty-six. He was average and Frank Braun thought that everything about him was “average”. His nose was not large or small. His features were not ugly or handsome.   He was not young anymore and yet he wasn’t old. The color of his hair was exactly in the middle between dark and light. He wasn’t stupid or brilliant either, not exactly boring and yet not entertaining. His clothes were not elegant and yet not ordinary either.

He was a good “average” in all things and just the man the Privy Councilor needed. He was a competent worker, intelligent enough to grasp and do what was asked of him and yet not intelligent enough to know everything about this colorful game his master played.

“By the way, how much does my uncle pay you?” Frank Braun asked.

“Oh, not exactly splendid–but it is enough,” was the answer. “I’m happy with it. At New Years I was given a four hundred Mark raise.”

The doctor looked hungrily as the nephew began his breakfast with fruit, eating an apple and a handful of cherries.

“What kind of cigars do you smoke?” the attorney inquired.

“What I smoke? Oh, an average kind–Not too strong–he interrupted himself. But why do you ask doctor?”

“Only because,” said Frank Braun, “it interests me–But now tell me what you have already done in these things. Has the Privy Councilor shared his plans with you?”

“Certainly,” the doctor nodded proudly. “I am the only one that knows–except for you of course. This effort is of the highest scientific importance.”

The attorney cleared his throat, “Hmm–you think so?”

“Entirely without a doubt,” confirmed the doctor. “And his Excellency is so extremely gifted to have thought it all out, taking care of every possible problem ahead of time. You know how careful you have to be these days. The foolish public is always attacking us doctors for so many of our absolutely important experiments. Take vivisection–God, the people become sick when they hear the word. What about our experiments with germs, vaccines and so on? They are all thorns in the eyes of the public even though we almost always only work with animals. And now, this question of artificial insemination of people–

His Excellency has found the only possibility in an executed murderer and a paid prostitute. Even the people loving pastor would not have much against it.”

“Yes, it is a splendid idea,” Frank Braun confirmed. “It is well that you can recognize the capacity of your superior.”

Then Dr. Petersen reported how his Excellency had made several attempts in Cologne with his help. Unfortunately they had not had any success in finding an appropriate female. It turned out that these creatures in this class of the population had very different ideas about having to endure artificial insemination. It was nearly impossible to talk to them about it at all, much less persuade one to actually do it. It didn’t matter how eloquent his Excellency spoke or how hard he tried to make them understand that it would not be dangerous at all; that they would earn a nice piece of money and be doing the scientific community a great service. One had screamed loudly that she would rather service the entire scientific community–and made a very rude gesture.

“Pfui!” Frank Braun said. “If only she could!”

It was a very good thing that his Excellency had the opportunity to travel to Berlin for the Gynecological Conference. Here in the metropolis there would no doubt be a much wider selection to choose from. The women in question would not be as stupid as in the province, would have less superstitious fear of the new and be more open and practical regarding the money they could make and the important service they could provide to the advancement of science.

“Especially the last!” Frank Braun emphasized.

Dr. Petersen obliged him with:

“It is unbelievable how old fashioned their ideas are in Cologne! Every Guinea pig, yes, even every monkey is infinitely more insightful and reasonable than those females. I almost lost my faith in the towering intellect of humanity. I hope that here I can regain that shaken belief and make it solid once more.”

“There is no doubt about it,” the attorney encouraged him. “It would be a real shame indeed if Berlin’s prostitutes couldn’t do any better than Guinea-pigs and monkeys!

By the way, when is my uncle coming? Is he up already?”

“Oh, he’s been up for a long time now,” declared the assistant doctor zealously. “His Excellency left immediately. He had a ten o’clock audience at the Ministry.”

“And after that?” Frank Braun asked.

“I don’t know how long it will last,” reasoned Doctor Petersen. “In any case his Excellency requested I wait for him in the auditorium at two o’clock. Then at five o’clock his Excellency has another important meeting with a Berlin colleague here in the hotel and around seven his Excellency is invited to eat with the university president.

Herr Doctor, perhaps you could meet in between–”

Frank Braun considered. Basically he was in favor of his uncle being occupied the entire day. Then his uncle wouldn’t be around to interfere with his day.

I want you to deliver a message to my uncle,” he said. “Tell him we will meet up downstairs in the hotel around eleven o’clock.”

“Around eleven o’clock?” The assistant doctor made a somewhat dubious face. “Isn’t that a little late? His Excellency is in the habit of going to bed around that time and after such a strenuous day.”

“His Excellency must exert himself a little bit longer today doctor.” Frank Braun decided. “Deliver the message. The hour is certainly not too late for our purpose. It’s almost too early–In fact, it would be better if it were twelve o’clock instead–That way if poor uncle is too tired he can rest a bit ahead of time. Goodbye Doctor–until this evening.”

He stood up, nodded curtly and left. He bit his teeth together, feeling at the same moment as his lips closed just how childish, how much of a mad mess it all was. He was almost ashamed of how he had treated the good doctor, how small he had been, how cheap his joke was. All of his nerves and sinews screamed for action–and instead he let his thistle headed brain scatter in a thousand directions–while he played childish pranks!

Dr. Petersen watched him go.

“He is full of pride,” he said to himself. “Not once did he offer to shake my hand.”

He ordered another coffee, added a little cream and deliberated while smearing butter on another slice of bread.

Then with innermost conviction, “Pride goes before the fall!”

Very satisfied with this wholesome common wisdom he bit into the white bread and raised the cup to his mouth.

It was closer to one o’clock that evening when Frank Braun finally appeared.

“Excuse me uncle,” he said lightly.

“Now dear nephew,” replied the Privy Councilor. “We have been waiting way too long!”

“I had something better to do uncle, and by the way you are not waiting here because of me but only because of your purpose.”

The professor squinted over at him. “Youngster–” he began, but he controlled himself. “No, let it go. I am grateful that you have come here to help me nephew. Are you ready to go now?”

“No,” declared Frank Braun blinded in childish defiance. “I will have a whiskey soda first. We have enough time.”

That was his nature now, driving everything to the limit, sensitive and thin skinned to every little word, taking offence at even the slightest provocation. He always said harsh things to others but couldn’t endure the softest rebuke or criticism himself. He could feel how the old gentleman was hurt by his actions but knew the real reason his uncle was hurt was because he needed his stupid young nephew, that is what really sickened and offended his uncle.

It almost felt like a put down that the Privy Councilor was so completely oblivious, couldn’t see through the shabby surface behavior, couldn’t understand the blonde defiance for what it really was. While he on the other hand had to resist whether he wanted to or not, be more of a pirate than he really was, pull the mask still tighter and go his insolent way like he had discovered on the Montmartre, shock the bourgeois.

He leisurely emptied his glass, then stood up negligently like a bored, melancholy prince, “Whenever you gentlemen are ready.”

He looked down on his guests from above as if they were infinitely beneath him.

“Innkeeper, a cab.”

They left. The Privy Councilor was quiet, his upper lip hung down deeply, fat tear ducts drained over his cheeks. His mighty ears stuck out on both sides and the glittering right eye shone green in the dark.

“He looks like an owl,” thought Frank Braun. “Like an ugly old owl searching for a mouse.”

Dr. Petersen sat open mouthed in the front seat. He couldn’t comprehend the unbelievable behavior of the nephew towards his uncle.

It wasn’t long before the young man once more found his equilibrium–Why should he get angry at the old ass? In the end his good side came out as he helped the Privy Councilor out of the cab.

“Here we are,” he cried. “Please step inside.”

“Café Stern” it said on the large sign illuminated with electric lights. They went inside, down long rows of small marble tables and through a crowd of noisy and yelling people. Finally they sat down. This was a good place. Many women sat around all decked out with enormous hats and colorful silk blouses, multitudes of flesh waiting for customers. They were spread out lounging around like window displays.

“Is this one of the better places?” the Privy Councilor asked.

The nephew shook his head. “No Uncle Jakob, not at all. We wouldn’t find what we wanted there–This might even be too good. We need the bottom dregs.”

His uncle shared with him that after careful consideration he was willing to follow the suggestions his nephew had given him to the last letter. He already had a suitable candidate for the father. The stay of execution for the murderer Raul Noerrissen had been denied and he had no further appeals possible. Now his uncle was looking for a mother.

He had already made an attempt without success. Unfortunately it was not easy to find just the right one but time pressed and he was now asking for assistance in this matter from his nephew.

Frank Braun looked at his valet, “Is the letter courier still here?” he asked.

“At your command Herr Doctor, ” the soldier informed him.

“Tell him to wait. Here give him some drink money.”

He searched in his pockets and found a Mark piece. Then he hurried back to the prisoner’s quarters letter in hand. He had scarcely arrived at the barracks courtyard when the wife of the Sergeant-major came towards him with a dispatch.

“A telegram for you!” she cried.

It was from Dr. Petersen, the Privy Councilor’s assistant. It read:

“His Excellency has been at the Hotel de Rome in Berlin since the day before yesterday. Await reply if you can meet. With heartfelt greetings.”

His Excellency? So his uncle was now “ His Excellency” and that was why he was in Berlin–In Berlin–that was too bad. He would have much rather traveled to Paris. It would have been much easier to find someone there and someone better as well. All the same, Berlin it was. At least it would be an interruption of this wilderness.

He considered for a moment. He needed to leave this evening but didn’t have a penny to his name and his comrades didn’t either. He looked at the woman.

“Frau Sergeant-major–” he began. But no, that wouldn’t work. He finished, “Buy the man a drink and put it on my tab.”

He went to his room, packed his suitcase and commanded the boy to take it straight to the train station and wait for him there. Then he went down. The Sergeant-major, the overseer of the prison house, was standing in the door wringing his hands and almost broken up.

“You are about to leave, Herr Doctor,” he lamented, “and the other three gentlemen are already gone to Paris, not even in this country! Dear God, no good can come out of this. It will fall on me alone–I carry all the responsibility.”

“It’s not that bad,” answered Frank Braun. “I’m only going to be gone for a few days and the other gentlemen will be back soon.”

The Sergeant-major continued to complain, “It’s not my fault, most certainly not! But the others are so jealous of me and today Sergeant Bekker has the watch. He–”

“He will keep his mouth shut,” Frank Braun replied. “He just got over thirty Marks from us–charitable donations from the English–By the way, I’m going to the commander in Coblenz to ask for a leave of absence–Are you satisfied now?”

But the overseer of the prison was not satisfied. “What! To the commander? But Herr Doctor, you have no leave of absence to go down to the city, and you still want to go to the commander?”

Frank Braun laughed, “Yes indeed. Straight to him! Namely, I must go to the commander and pump some money out of him.”

The Sergeant-major didn’t say another word. He stood there not moving with a wide-open mouth, completely petrified.

“Give me ten pennies, boy,” Frank Braun cried to his valet, “for the toll bridge.”

He took the coins and went with quick strides across the yard, into the officer’s garden and from there onto the slope leading up to the ramparts. He swung up onto the wall, grabbed the bough of a mighty ash tree on the other side and climbed down the trunk. Then he pushed through the thick underbrush and climbed down the rocks. In twenty minutes he was at the bottom.

It was the route they always took for their nightly escapades. He went along the Rhine to the toll bridge and then across to Coblenz. He learned where the commander lived and hurried there.

He showed the general the telegram and said that he came on very urgent matters. The general let him in and he put the telegram back in his pocket.

“How can I help you with this?”

Frank Braun said, “I need a leave of absence your Excellency. I am a prisoner at the fortress.”

The old general stared at him unkindly, visibly annoyed at the intrusion.

“What do you want? By the way, how did you get down into the city? Do you have a pass?”

“Certainly, Your Excellency,” said Frank Braun. “I have church leave.”

He lied, but knew very well the general only wanted an answer. “I came to Your Excellency to ask for a three day pass. My uncle is in Berlin and dying.”

The commander blurted out, “What is your uncle to me? It’s entirely out of the question! You are not sitting up there at your convenience. It’s because you have broken the law, do you understand? Anyone could come to me with a dying uncle or aunt. If it’s not at least a parent I deny such a pass strictly on principle.”

“I remain dutiful, your Excellency,” he replied. “I will inform my uncle, his Excellency, the Privy Councilor ten Brinken, immediately by telegraph that unfortunately his only nephew is not allowed to hasten to his deathbed for his weary eyes to look upon.”

He bowed, turned toward the door, but the general held him back as he had expected.

“Who is your uncle?” he asked in hesitation.

Frank Braun repeated the name and the beautiful title. Then he took the telegram out of his pocket and handed it over.

“My poor uncle has one last chance for deliverance in Berlin but unfortunately the operation is not successful very often.”

“Hmm,” said the commander. “Go my young friend. Go immediately. Perhaps it will be helpful.”

Frank Braun made a face, lamented and said, “Only God knows–Perhaps my prayers can do some good.”

He interrupted himself with a beautiful sigh and continued, “I remain dutiful, your Excellency. There is just one other thing I have to ask.”

The commander gave him the telegram back. “What?” he asked.

Frank Braun burst out, “I have no travel money. May I ask your Excellency to loan me three hundred Marks.”

The general looked suspiciously at him. “No money–Hmm–so no money either–But wasn’t yesterday the first? Didn’t your money come?”

“My money came promptly, your Excellency,” he replied quickly. “But it was gone just as quickly that night!”

The old commander laughed at that.

“Yes, yes. That is how you atone for your crimes, your misdeeds! So you need three hundred Marks?”

“Yes, your Excellency! My uncle will certainly be very happy to hear how you have helped me out of this predicament, if I am permitted.”

The general turned, went to the writing desk, opened it and took out three little pieces of paper and a moneybox. He gave the prisoner quill and paper and told him what to write down on the receipt. Then he gave him the money. Frank Braun took it with a light easy bow.

“I remain dutiful, your Excellency.”

“Think nothing of it,” said the commander. “Go there and come back right away–Give my compliments to yours truly, his Excellency.”

“Once again I remain dutiful, your Excellency.”

One last bow and he was outside. He sprang over the six front steps in one leap and had to restrain himself not to shout out loud. That was great!

He called a taxi to take him to the Ehrenbreitstein train station. There he leafed through the departure times and found he still had three hours to wait. He called to the valet that was waiting with his suitcase and commanded him to quickly run over to the “Red Cock” and bring back the ensign from Plessen.

“But bring the right one boy!” he said sharply. “The young gentleman that just got here not to long ago, the one that wears No. six on his back. The one that–Wait, your pennies have earned interest.”

He threw him a ten Mark piece. Then he went into the wine house, considered carefully, ordered a select supper and sat at the window looking out at the Sunday citizens as they wandered along the Rhine.

Finally the ensign came. “What’s up now?”

“Sit down,” said Frank Braun. “Shut up. Don’t ask. Eat, drink and be merry!”

He gave him a hundred Mark bill. Pay my bill with this. You can keep the rest–and tell them up there that I’ve gone to Berlin–with a pass! I want the Sergeant-major to know that I will be back before the end of the week.”

The blonde ensign stared at him in outright admiration, “Just tell me–how did you do it?”

“My secret,” said Frank Braun. “But it wouldn’t do you any good if I did tell you. His Excellency will only be good-natured enough to fall for it once. Prosit!”

The ensign brought him to the train and handed his suitcase up to him. Then he waved his hat and handkerchief.

Frank Braun stepped back from the window and forgot in that same instant the little ensign, his co-prisoners and the fortress. He spoke with the conductor, stretched out comfortably in his sleeper, closed his eyes and went to sleep. The conductor had to shake him very hard to wake him up.

Chapter Four

Gives the particulars of how they found Alraune’s mother

Frank Braun sat above on the ramparts of Festung Ehrenbreitstein, a fortified castle overlooking Koblentz. He had sat there for two months already and still had three more to sit, through the entire summer. Just because he had shot a hole through the air, and through his opponent as well.

He was bored. He sat up high on the parapet of the tower, legs dangling over the edge looking at the wide broad view of the Rhine from the steep cliffs. He looked into the blue expanse and yawned, exactly like his three comrades that sat next to him. No one spoke a word.

They wore yellow canvas jackets that the soldiers had given them. Their attendants had painted large black numbers on the backs of their jackets to signify their cells. No.’s two, fourteen and six sat there; Frank Braun wore the number seven.

Then a troop of foreigners came up into the tower, Englishmen and Englishwomen led by the sergeant of the watch. He showed them the poor prisoners with the large numbers sitting there so forlorn. They were moved with sympathy and with “oohs” and “ahs” asked the sergeant if they could give the miserable wretches anything.

“That is expressly forbidden,” he said. “I better not see any of you doing it.”

But he had a big heart and turned his back as he explained the region around them to the gentlemen.

“There is Koblenz,” he said, “and over there behind it is Neuwied. Down there is the Rhine–”

Meanwhile the ladies had come up. The poor prisoner stretched out his hands behind him, held them open right under his number. Gold pieces, cigarettes and tobacco were dropped into them, sometimes even a business card with an address.

That was the game Frank Braun had contrived and introduced up here.

“That is a real disgrace,” said No. fourteen. It was the cavalry captain, Baron Flechtheim.

“You are an idiot,” said Frank Braun. “What is disgraceful is that we fancy ourselves so refined that we give everything to the petty officers and don’t keep anything for ourselves. If only the damned English cigarettes weren’t so perfumed.”

He inspected the loot.

“There! Another pound piece! The Sergeant will be very happy–God, I made out well today!”

“How much did you lose yesterday?” asked No. two.

Frank Braun laughed, “Pah, everything I made the day before plus a couple of blue notes. Fetch the executioner his block!”

No. six was a very young ensign, a young pasty faced boy that looked like milk and blood. He sighed deeply.

“I too have lost everything.”

“So, do you think we did any better?” No. fourteen snarled at him, “And to think those three scoundrels are now in Paris amusing themselves with our money! How long do you think they will stay?”

Dr. Klaverjahn, marine doctor, fortress prisoner No. two said, “I estimate three days. They can’t stay away any longer than that without someone noticing. Besides, their money won’t last that long!”

They were speaking of No.’s four, five and twelve who had heartily won last night, had early this morning climbed down the hill and caught the early train to Paris–“R and R”–a little rest and relaxation, is what they called it in the fortress.

“What will we do this afternoon?” No. fourteen asked.

“Will you just once think for yourself!” Frank Braun cried to the cavalry captain.

He sprang down from the wall, went through the barracks into the officer’s garden. He felt grumpy, whistled to get inside. Not grumpy because he had lost the game, that happened to him often and didn’t bother him at all. It was this deplorable sojourn up here, this unbearable monotony.

Certainly the fortress confinement was light enough and none of the gentlemen prisoners were ever injured or tormented. They even had their own casino up here with a piano and a harmonium. There were two dozen newspapers. Everyone had their own attendant and all the cells were large rooms, almost halls, for which they paid the government rent of a penny a day. They had meals sent up from the best guesthouses in the city and their wine cellar was in excellent condition.

If there was anything to find fault with, it was that you couldn’t lock your room from the inside. That was the single point the commander was very serious about. Once a suicide had occurred and ever since any attempt to bring a bolt in brought severe punishment.

“It was idiotic thought,” Frank Braun, “as if you couldn’t commit suicide without bolts on your door!”

The missing bolt pained him every day and ruined all the joy in it by making it impossible to be alone in the fortress. He had shut his door with rope and chain, put his bed and all the other furniture in front of it. But it had been useless. After a war that lasted for hours everything in his room was demolished and battered to pieces. The entire company stood triumphant in the middle of his room.

Oh what a company! Every single one of them was a harmless, kind and good-natured fellow. Every single one–to a man, could chat by themselves for half an hour–But together, together they were insufferable. Mostly, it was their comments, that they were all depressed. This wild mixture of officers and students forgot their high stations and always talked of the foolish happenings at the fortress. They sang, they drank, they played. One day, one night, like all the rest. In between were a few girls that they dragged up here and a few outings down to the town below. Those were their heroic deeds and they didn’t talk about anything else!

The ones that had been here the longest were the worst, entirely depraved and caught up in this perpetual cycle. Dr. Burmüller had shot his brother-in-law dead and had sat up here for two years now. His neighbor, the Dragoon lieutenant, Baron von Vallendar had been enjoying the good air up here for a half year longer than that. And the new ones that came in, scarcely a week went by without them trying to prove who was the crudest and wildest–They were held in highest regard.

Frank Braun was held in high regard. He had locked up the piano on the second day because he didn’t want to listen any more to the horrible “Song of Spring” the cavalry captain kept playing. He put the key in his pocket, went outside and then threw it over the fortress wall. He had also brought his dueling pistols with him and shot them all day long. He could guzzle and escape as well as anyone up here.

Really, he had enjoyed these summer months at the fortress. He had dragged in a pile of books, a new writing quill and sheets of writing paper, believing he could work here, looking forward to the constraint of the solitude. But he hadn’t been able to open a book, had not written one letter.

Instead he had been pulled into this wild childish whirlpool that he loathed and went along with it day after day. He hated his comrades–every single one of them–

His attendant came into the garden, saluted:

“Herr Doctor, A letter for you.”

A letter? On Sunday afternoon? He took it out of the soldier’s hand. It was a special express letter that had been forwarded to him up here. He recognized the thin scrawl of his uncle’s handwriting. From him? What did his uncle suddenly want of him? He weighed the letter in his hand.

Oh, he was tempted to send the letter back, “delivery refused”. What was going on with the old professor anyway? Yes, the last time he had seen him was when he had traveled back to Lendenich with him after the celebration at the Gontrams. That was when he had tried to persuade his uncle to create an alraune creature. That was two years ago.

Ah, now it was all coming back to him! He had gone to a different university, had passed his exams. Then he had sat in a hole in Lorraine–busy as a junior attorney–Busy? Bah, he had set out in life thinking he would travel when he got out of college. He was popular with the women, and with those that loved a loose life and wild ways. His superior viewed him very unfavorably.

Oh yes, he worked, a bit here and there–for himself. But it was always what his superior called public nuisance cases. He sneaked away when he could, traveled to Paris. It was better at the house on Butte Sacrée than in court. He didn’t know for sure where it would all lead. It was certain that he would never be a jurist, attorney, judge or other public servant. But then, what should he do? He lived there, got into more debt every day–

Now he held this letter in his hand and felt torn between ripping it open and sending it back like it was as a late answer to a different letter his uncle had written him two years ago.

It had been shortly after that night. He had ridden through the village at midnight with five other students, back from an outing into the seven mountains. On a sudden impulse he had invited them all to a late midnight meal at the ten Brinken house.

They tore at the bell, yelled loudly and hammered against the wrought iron door making such a noise that the entire village came running out to see what was happening. The Privy Councilor was away on a journey but the servant let them in on the nephew’s command. The horses were taken to the stable and Frank Braun woke the household, ordered them to prepare a great feast. Frank Braun went into his uncle’s cellar and brought out the finest wines.

They feasted, drank and sang, roared through the house and garden, made noises, howled and smashed things with their fists. Early the next morning they rode home, bawling and screaming, hanging on to their nags like wild cowboys, one or two flopping like old meal sacks.

“The young gentlemen behaved like pigs,” reported Aloys to the Privy Councilor. Yet, that wasn’t it. That wasn’t what had made his uncle so angry. He didn’t say anything about it.

On the buffet there had been some rare apples, dew fresh nectarines, pears and peaches out of his greenhouse. These precious fruits had been picked with unspeakable care, wrapped in cotton and laid on golden plates to ripen. But the students had no reverence at all for the professor’s loves, were not respectful of anything that had been there. They had bitten into these fruits, then because they were not ripe, had put them back down on the plates. That was what he was angry about.

He wrote his nephew an embittered letter requesting him to never again set foot in his house. Frank Braun was just as deeply hurt over the reason for the letter, which he perceived as pathetically petty.

Ah yes, if he had gotten this letter, the one he was now holding, while living in Metz or even in Montmartre–he wouldn’t have hesitated a second before giving it back to the messenger. But he was here–here in this horrible boredom of the fortress.

He decided.

“It will be a diversion in any case,” he murmured as he opened the letter.

Chapter Three

Informs how Frank Braun persuaded the Privy Councilor to create Alraune

They sat in the carriage, Professor Ten Brinken and his nephew. They didn’t speak. Frank Braun leaned back staring straight ahead, sunk deeply into his thoughts. The Privy Councilor was observing, squinting over at him watchfully.

The trip lasted scarcely half an hour. They rolled along the open road, turned to the right, went downhill over the rough road to Lendenich. There in the middle of the village lay the birthplace of the Brinken family.

It was a large, almost square complex with gardens and a park. Back from the street stood a row of insignificant old buildings. They turned around a corner past a shrine of the patron Saint of the village, the Holy Saint John of Nepomuk. His statue was decorated with flowers and lit with two eternal lamps that were placed in niches by the corners.

The horses stopped in front of a large mansion. A servant shut the fenced gate behind them and opened the carriage door.

“Bring us some wine Aloys,” commanded the Privy Councilor. “We will be in the library.”

He turned to his nephew. “Will you be sleeping here Frank? Or should the carriage wait?”

The student shook his head, “Neither, I will go back to the city on foot.”

They walked across the courtyard, entered the lower level of the house at a door on the right hand side. It was literally a great hall with a tiny antechamber and a couple of other small rooms nearby.

The walls were lined with long immense shelves containing thousands of books. Low glass cases stood here and there full of Roman artifacts. Many graves had been emptied, robbed of their cherished and carefully preserved treasures. The floor was covered in thick carpet. There were a couple of desks, armchairs and sofas that stood scattered around the room.

They entered. The Privy Councilor threw his alraune on a divan. They lit candles, pulled a couple of chairs together and sat down. The servant uncorked a dusty bottle.

“You can go,” said his master. “But don’t go too far. The young gentleman will be leaving and you will need to let him out.”

“Well?” he turned to his nephew.

Frank Braun drank. He picked the root manikin up and toyed with it. It was still a little moist and appeared to be almost flexible.

“It is clear enough,” he murmured. “There are the eyes–both of them. The nose pokes up there and that opening is the mouth. Look here Uncle Jakob. Doesn’t it look as if it is smiling? The arms are somewhat diminutive and the legs have grown together at the knees. It is a strange thing.”

He held it high, turned it around in all directions.

“Look around Alraune!” he cried. “This is your new home. You will be much happier here with Herr Jakob ten Brinken than you were in the house of the Gontrams.”

“You are old,” he continued. “four hundred, perhaps six hundred years old or even more. Your father was hung because he was a murderer or a horse thief, or else because he made fun of some great knight in armor or in priestly robes.

The important thing is that he was a criminal in his time and they hanged him. At the last moment of his life his seed fell to the earth and created you, you strange creature. Then your mother earth took the seed of this criminal into her fertile womb, secretly fashioned and gave birth to you.

You the great, the all-powerful–Yes you, you miserable ugly creature!–Then they dug you up at the midnight hour, at the crossroads, shaking in terror at your howling, shrieking screams.

The first thing you saw as you looked around in the moonlight was your father hanging there on the gallows with a broken neck and his rotting flesh hanging in tatters.

They took you with them, these people that had tied the noose around your father. They held you, carried you home. You were supposed to bring money into their house. Blood money and young love.

They knew well that you would bring pain, misery, despair and in the end a horrible death. They knew it and still they wanted you, still they dug you up, still they took you home, selling their souls for love and money.”

The Privy Councilor said, “You have a beautiful way of seeing things my boy. You are a dreamer.”

“Yes,” said the student. “That’s what I am–just like you.”

“Like me?” the professor laughed. “Now I think that part of my life is long gone.”

But his nephew shook his head, “No Uncle Jakob. It isn’t. Only you can make real what other people call fantastic. Just think of all your experiments! For you it is more like child’s play that may or may not lead to some purpose.

But never, never would a normal person come up with your ideas. Only a dreamer could do it–and only a savage, a wildman, that has the hot blood of the Brinkens flowing through his veins. Only he would dare attempt what you should now do Uncle Jakob.”

The old man interrupted him, indignant and yet at the same time flattered.

“You crazy boy!–You don’t even know yet if I will have any desire to do this mysterious thing you keep talking about and I still don’t have the slightest idea what it is!”

The student didn’t pause, his voice rang lightly, confidently and every syllable was convincing.

“Oh, you will do it Uncle Jakob. I know that you will do it, will do it because no one else can, because you are the only person in the world that can make it happen. There are certainly a few other professors that are attempting some of the same things you have already done, perhaps even gone further.

But they are normal people, dry, wooden–men of science. They would laugh in my face if I came to them with my idea, would chide me for being a fool. Or else they would throw me completely out the door, because I would dare come to them with such things, such thoughts, thoughts that they would call immoral and objectionable. Such ideas that dare trespass on the craft of the Great Creator and play a trick on all of nature.

You will not laugh at me Uncle Jakob, not you! You will not laugh at me or throw me out the door. It will fascinate you the same way it fascinates me. That’s why you are the only person that can do it!”

“But what then, by all the gods,” cried the Privy Councilor, “what is it?”

The student stood up, filled both glasses to the rims.

“A toast, old sorcerer,” he cried. “A toast! To a newer, younger wine that will flow out of your glass tubes. Toast, Uncle Jakob to your new living alraune–your new child!”

He clinked his glass against his uncle’s, emptied it in a gulp and threw it high against the ceiling where it shattered. The shards fell soundlessly on the heavy carpet.

He pulled his chair closer.

“Now listen uncle and I will tell you what I mean. I know you are really impatient with my long introduction–Don’t think ill of me. It has helped me put my thoughts in order, to stir them up, to make them comprehensible and tangible.

Here it is:

You should create a living alraune, Uncle Jakob, turn this old legend into reality. Who cares if it is superstition, a ghostly delusion of the Middle Ages or mystic flim-flam from ancient times?

You, you can make the old lies come true. You can create it. It can stand there in the light of day tangible for all the world to see–No stupid professor would be able to deny it.

Now pay attention, this is what needs to be done!

The criminal, uncle, you can find easily enough. I don’t think it matters if he dies on a gallows at a crossroads. We are a progressive people. Our prisons and guillotine are convenient, convenient for you as well. Thanks to your connections it will be easy to obtain and save the rare seed of the dead that will bring forth new life.

And Mother Earth?–What is her symbol? What does she represent? She is fertility, uncle. The earth is the feminine, the woman. She takes the semen, takes it into her womb, nourishes it, lets it germinate, grow, bloom and bear fruit. So you take what is fertile like the earth herself–take a woman.

But Mother Earth is the eternal prostitute, she serves all. She is the eternal mother, is always for sale, the prostitute of billions. She refuses her lascivious love to none, offers herself gladly to anyone that will take her. Everything that lives has been fertilized in her glorious womb and she has given birth to it. It has always been this way throughout the ages.

That is why you must use a prostitute Uncle Jakob. Take the most shameless, the cheekiest one of them all. Take one that is born to be a whore, not one that is driven to her profession or one that is seduced into it for money. Oh no, not one of those. Take one that is already wanton, that learns as she goes, one whose shame is her greatest pleasure and reason for living. You must choose her. Only her womb would be like the mother earth’s. You know how to find her. You are rich–You are no school boy in these things.

You can pay her a lot of money, purchase her services for your research. If she is the right one she will reel with laughter, will press her greasy bosom against you and kiss you passionately–She will do this because you have offered her something that no other man has offered her before.

You know better than I what happens then, how to bring about with humans what you have already done with monkeys and guinea pigs. Get everything ready, ready for the moment when the murderer’s bleeding head springs into the basket!”

He jumped up, leaned over the table, looked across at his uncle with intense forceful eyes. The Privy Councilor caught his gaze, parried it with a squint like a curved dirty scimitar parries a supple foil.

“What then nephew?” he said. “And then after the child comes into the world? What then?”

The student hesitated, his words dripped slowly, falling, “Then–we–will–have–a–magickal–creature.”

His voice swung lightly, yielding and reverberating like musical tones.

“Then we will see what truth there is in the old legend, get a glimpse into the deepest bowels of nature.”

The Privy Councilor opened his lips to speak but Frank Braun wouldn’t let him get a word in.

“Then we can prove whether there is something, some mysterious power that is stronger than all the laws of science that we know. We can prove whether this life is worth the trouble to live–especially for us.”

“Especially for us?” the professor repeated.

Frank Braun said, “Yes Uncle Jakob–especially for us! For you and for me–and the few hundred other people that stand as Masters over their lives–and then prove it even for the enslaved, the ones on the street, for the rest of the herd.”

Then suddenly, abruptly, he asked, “Uncle Jakob, do you believe in God?”

The Privy Councilor clicked his lips impatiently, “Do I believe in God? What does that have to do with it?”

But his nephew pressed him, wouldn’t let him brush it away, “Answer me Uncle Jakob, answer. Do you believe in God?”

He bent down closer to the old man, held him fast in his gaze.

The Privy Councilor said, “What do you mean boy? According to the understanding that everyone else uses, what I recognize as true and believe is most certainly not God. There is only a feeling–but that feeling is so uncontrollable, something so–”

“Yes, yes, uncle,” cried the student. “What about this feeling?”

The professor resisted like always, moved back and forth in his chair.

“Well, if I must speak candidly–there are times–very rare–with long stretches in between–”

Frank Braun cried, “You believe–You do believe in God! Oh, I knew it! All the Brinkens do–all of them up to you.”

He threw up his head, raised his lips high showing rows of smooth shiny teeth, and pushed out every word forcefully.

“Then you will do it Uncle Jakob. Then you must do it and I don’t need to speak with you any more about it. It is something that has been given to you, one out of a million people. It is possible for you–possible for you to play at being God!

If your God is real and lives he must answer you for your impertinence, for daring to do such a thing!”

He became quiet, went back and forth with large strides through the long room. Then he took up his hat and went up to the old man.

“Good night Uncle Jakob,” he said. “Will you do it?”

He reached out his hand to him but the old man didn’t see it. He was staring into space, brooding.

“I don’t know,” he answered finally.

Frank Braun took the alraune from the table, shoved it into the old man’s hands. His voice rang mocking and haughty.

“Here, consult with this!”

But the next moment the cadence of his voice was different.

Quietly he said, “Oh, I know you will do it.”

He strode quickly to the door, stopped there a moment, turned around and came back.

“Just one more thing Uncle Jakob, when you do it–”

But the Privy Councilor burst out, “I don’t know whether I’ll do it.”

“Ok,” said the student. “I won’t ask you any more about it. But just in case you should decide to do it–will you promise me something?”

“What?” the professor inquired.

He answered, “Please don’t let the princess watch!”

“Why not?” the Privy Councilor asked.

Frank Braun spoke softly and earnestly, “Because–because these things–are sacred.”

Then he left. He stepped out of the house and crossed the courtyard. The servant opened the gate and it rattled shut behind him.

Frank Braun walked down the street, stopped before the shrine of the Saint and examined it.

“Oh, Blessed Saint,” he said. “People bring you flowers and fresh oil for your lamps. But this house doesn’t care for you, doesn’t care if your shelter is preserved. You are regarded only as an antique. It is well for you that the folk still believe in you and in your power.”

Then he sang softly, reverently:

“John of Nepomuk

Protector from dangerous floods.

Protect my house!

Guard it from rising waters.

Let them rage somewhere else.

John of Nepomuk

Protect my house!”

“Well old idol,” he continued. “You have it easy protecting this village from dangerous floods since the Rhine lays three quarters of an hour from here and since it is so regular and runs between stone levies.

But try anyway, John of Nepomuk. Try to save this house from the flood that shall now break over it! See, I love you, Saint of stone, because you are my mother’s patron Saint.

She is called Johanna Nepomucema, also called Hubertina so she will never get bitten by a mad dog. Do you remember how she came into this world in this house, on the day that is sacred to you? That is why she carries your name, John of Nepomuk! And because I love her, my Saint–I will warn you for her sake.

You know that tonight another Saint has come inside, an unholy one. A little manikin, not of stone like you and not beautifully enshrined and dressed in garments–It is only made of wood and pathetically naked. But it is as old as you, perhaps even older and people say that it has a strange power. So try, Saint Nepomuk, give us a demonstration of your power!

One of you must fall, you or the manikin. It must be decided who is Master over the house of Brinken. Show us, my Saint, what you can do.”

Frank Braun bowed, paid his respects, crossed himself, laughed shortly and went on with quick strides through the street. He came up to a field, breathed deeply the fresh night air and began walking toward the city. In an avenue under blooming chestnuts he slowed his steps, strolled dreamily, softly humming as he went along.

Suddenly he stopped, hesitated a moment. He turned around, looked quickly both ways, swung up onto a low wall, sprang down to the other side and, ran through a still garden up to a wide red villa.

He stopped there, pursed his lips and his wild short whistle chased through the night, twice, three times, one right after the other. Somewhere a hound began to bark. Above him a window softly opened, a blonde woman in a white nightgown appeared. Her voice whispered through the darkness.

“Is that you?”

And he said, “Yes, yes!”

She scurried back into the room, quickly came back again, took her handkerchief, wrapped something in it and threw it down.

“There my love–the key! But be quiet–very quiet! Don’t wake up my parents.”

Frank Braun took the key out, climbed the small marble steps, opened the door and went inside. While he groped softly and cautiously upward in the dark his young lips moved:

“John of Nepomuk

Protector from dangerous floods.

Protect me from love!

Let it strike another

Leave me in earthly peace

John of Nepomuk

Protect me from love!”