The GOOSE MAN
by JACOB WASSERMANN
Author of "THE WORLD'S ILLUSION"
Authorized translation by ALLEN W. PORTERFIELD
GROSSET & DUNLAP ~ Publishers by arrangement with HARCOURT, BRACE & COMPANY
The first chapter, "A Mother Seeks Her Son," and sections I and II of the second chapter, "Foes, Brothers, a Friend, and a Mask," were translated by Ludwig Lewisohn. The rest of the book has been translated by Allen W. Porterfield. The title, "The Goose Man" ("Das Gaensemaennchen"), refers to the famous statue of that name in Nuremberg.
COPYRIGHT, 1922, BY HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY, INC.
PRINTED IN THE U. S. A.
A Mother Seeks Her Son 1
Foes, Brothers, A Friend and a Mask 23
The Nero of To-day 44
Inspector Jordan and His Children 65
Voices from Without and Voices from Within 97
In Memory of a Dream Figure 123
Daniel and Gertrude 153
The Glass Case Breaks 178
Tres Faciunt Collegium 204
Philippina Starts a Fire 239
The Room with the Withered Flowers 323
The Promethean Symphony 352
The Devil Leaves the House in Flames 435
But Aside, Who Is It? 455
THE GOOSE MAN
A MOTHER SEEKS HER SON
The landscape shows many shades of green; deep forests, mostly coniferous, extend from the valley of the Rednitz to that of the Tauber. Yet the villages lie in the midst of great circles of cultivated land, for the tillage of man is immemorial here. Around the many weirs the grass grows higher, so high often that you can see only the beaks of the droves of geese, and were it not for their cackle you might take these beaks to be strangely mobile flowers.
The little town of Eschenbach lies quite flat on the plain. In it a fragment of the Middle Ages has survived, but no strangers know it, since hours of travel divide it from any railway. Ansbach is the nearest point in the great system of modern traffic; to get there you must use a stage-coach. And that is as true to-day as it was in the days when Gottfried Nothafft, the weaver, lived there.
The town walls are overgrown with moss and ivy; the old drawbridges still cross the moats and take you through the round, ruined gates into the streets. The houses have bay-windows and far-projecting overhangs, and their interlacing beams look like the criss-cross of muscles on an anatomical chart.
Concerning the poet who was once born here and who sang the song of Parsifal, all living memory has faded. Perhaps the fountains whisper of him by night; perhaps sometimes when the moon is up, his shadow hovers about the church or the town-hall. The men and women know nothing of him any more.
The little house of the weaver, withdrawn by a short distance from the street, stood not far from the inn at the sign of the Ox. Three worn steps took you to its door, and six windows looked out upon the quiet square. It is strange to reflect that the spirit of modern industrialism hewed its destructive path even to this forgotten nook of the world.
In 1849, at the time of Gottfried Nothafft's marriage—his wife, Marian, was one of the two Hoellriegel sisters of Nuremberg—he had still been able to earn a tolerable living. So the couple desired a child, but desired it for years in vain. Often, at the end of the day's work, when Gottfried sat on the bench in front of his house and smoked his pipe, he would say: "How good it would be if we had a son." Marian would fall silent and lower her eyes.
As time passed, he stopped saying that, because he would not put the woman to shame. But his expression betrayed his desire all the more clearly.
A day came on which his trade seemed to come to a halt. The weavers in all the land complained that they could not keep their old pace. It was as though a creeping paralysis had come upon them. The market prices suddenly dropped, and the character of the goods was changed.
This took place toward the end of the eighteen hundred and fifties, when the new power looms were being introduced from America. No toil profited anything. The cheap product which the machines could furnish destroyed the sale of the hand-made weaves.
At first Gottfried Nothafft refused to be cast down. Thus the wheel of a machine will run on for a space after the power has been cut off. But gradually his courage failed. His hair turned grey in a single winter, and at the age of forty-five he was a broken man.
And just as poverty appeared threatening at their door, and the soul of Marian began to be stained by hatred, the longing of the couple was fulfilled, and the wife became pregnant in the tenth year of their marriage.
The hatred which she nourished was directed against the power loom. In her dreams she saw the machine as a monster with thighs of steel, which screamed out its malignity and devoured the hearts of men. She was embittered by the injustice of a process which gave to impudence and sloth the product that had once come thoughtfully and naturally from the careful hands of men.
One journeyman after another had to be discharged, and one hand-loom after another to be stored in the attic. On many days Marian would slip up the stairs and crouch for hours beside the looms, which had once been set in motion by a determinable and beneficent exertion and were like corpses now.
Gottfried wandered across country, peddling the stock of goods he had on hand. Once on his return he brought with him a piece of machine-made cloth which a merchant of Noerdlingen had given him. "Look, Marian, see what sort of stuff it is," he said, and handed it to her. But Marian drew her hand away, and shuddered as though she had seen the booty of a murderer.
After the birth of her boy she lost these morbid feelings; Gottfried on the other hand seemed to dwindle from month to month. Though he outlasted the years, there was no cheer left in him and he got no comfort even from his growing boy. When he had sold all his own wares, he took those of others, and dragged himself wearily in summer and winter from village to village.
In spite of the scarcity that prevailed in the house, Marian was convinced that Gottfried had put by money, and certain hints which he threw out confirmed her in this hope. It was one of his peculiar views that it was better to leave his wife in the dark regarding the true state of their fortunes. As their circumstances grew worse, he became wholly silent on this point.
On the square of the grain merchants in Nuremberg, Jason Philip Schimmelweis, the husband of Marian's sister, had his bookbinder's shop.
Schimmelweis was a Westphalian. Hatred against the junkers and the priests had driven him to this Protestant city of the South, where from the beginning he had acquired the respect of people through his ready wit and speech. Theresa Hoellriegel had lodged in the house in which he opened his shop, and gained her living as a seamstress. He had thought that she had some money, but it had proved to be too little for his ambitious notions. When he discovered that, he treated Theresa as though she had cheated him.
He held his trade in contempt, and was ambitious of greater things. He felt that he was called to be a bookseller; but he had no capital wherewith to realise this plan. So he sat morosely in his subterranean shop, pasted and folded and quarrelled with his lot, and in his hours of leisure read the writings of socialists and freethinkers.
It was the Autumn in which the war against France was raging. On that very morning had come the news of the battle of Sedan. All the church bells were ringing.
To the surprise of Jason Philip, Gottfried Nothafft stepped into his shop. His long, patriarchal beard and tall stature gave something venerable to his appearance, even though his face looked tired and his eyes were dull.
"God bless you, brother," he said and held out his hand. "The fatherland has better luck than its citizens."
Schimmelweis, who did not like the visits of kinsmen, returned the salutation with careful coolness. His features did not brighten until he heard that his brother-in-law was stopping at the Red Cock Inn. He asked what errand had brought Gottfried to the city.
"I must have a talk with you," Nothafft replied.
They entered a room behind the shop and sat down. Jason Philip's eyes harboured even now a definitely negative answer to any proposal that might cost him money or trouble. But he was to be agreeably disappointed.
"I want to tell you, brother," Gottfried Nothafft said, "that I have put by three thousand taler during the nineteen years of my married life. And since I have the feeling that I am not long for this world, I have come to ask you to take charge of the money for Marian and the boy. It has been troublesome enough not to touch it in these evil times that have come. Marian knows nothing of it, and I don't want her to know. She is a weak woman, and women do not understand money nor the worth and dignity it has when it has been earned so bitterly hard. In some hour of difficulty she would begin to use it, and presently it would be gone. But I want to ease Daniel's entry into life, when his years of training and apprenticeship are over. He is twelve now. In another twelve years he will be, God willing, a man. You can help Marian with the interest, and all I ask of you is to be silent and to act a father's part toward the boy when I shall be no more."
Jason Philip Schimmelweis arose. He was moved and wrung Gottfried Nothafft's hand. "You may rely upon me," he said, "as you would on the Bank of England."
"I thought that would be your answer, brother, and that is why I came."
He put down on the table three thousand taler in bank notes of the realm, and Jason Philip wrote out a receipt. Then he urged him to stay that night at his house. But Gottfried Nothafft said that he must return home to his wife and child, and that a single night in the noisy city had been enough for him.
When they returned to the shop, they found Theresa sitting there. In her lap she held Philippina, her first-born, who was three years old. The child had a large head and homely features. Gottfried hardly stopped to answer his sister-in-law's questions. Later Theresa asked her husband what Gottfried's business had been. Jason Philip answered brusquely: "Nothing a woman would understand."
Three days later Gottfried sent back the receipt. On the back of it he had written: "The paper is of no use; it might even betray my secret. I have your word and your hand. That is enough. With thanks for your friendship and your services, I am your faithful kinsman, Gottfried Nothafft."
Before peace had been made with France, Gottfried lay down to die. He was buried in the little churchyard by the wall, and a cross was set upon his grave.
Jason Philip and Theresa had come to the funeral, and stayed for three days. An examination of her inheritance showed, to Marian's consternation, that there were not twenty taler in the house, and what she saw ahead of her was a life of wretchedness and want. Jason Philip's counsel and his plan were a genuine consolation to her, and his declaration that he would stand by her to the best of his ability eased her heart.
It was determined that she was to open a little shop, and Jason advanced her one hundred taler. All the while he had the air of a made man. He held his head high, and his fat little cheeks glowed with health. He was fond of drumming with his fingers on the window pane and of whistling. The tune he whistled was the Marseillaise, but that tune was not known in Eschenbach.
Daniel observed carefully his uncle's lips, and whistled the tune after him. Jason Philip laughed so that his little belly quivered. Then he remembered that it was a house of mourning, and said: "What a boy!"
But really he did not like the boy. "Our excellent Gottfried does not seem to have trained him carefully," he remarked once, when Daniel showed some childish recalcitrance. "The boy needs a strong hand."
Daniel heard these words, and looked scornfully into his uncle's face.
Sunday afternoon, when the coffee had been served, the Schimmelweis couple was ready to leave. But Daniel was not to be found. The wife of the inn-keeper called out across the road that she had seen him follow the organist to church. Marian ran to the church to fetch him. After a while she returned, and said to Jason Philip, who was waiting: "He's crouching in the organ loft, and I can't get him to move."
"Can't get him to move?" Jason Philip started up, and his little red cheeks gleamed with rage. "What does that mean? How can you tolerate that?" And he himself proceeded to the church to get the disobedient child.
As he was mounting the organ-loft he met the organist, who laughed and said: "I suppose you're looking for Daniel? He's still staring at the organ, as though my bit of playing had bewitched him."
"I'll drive the witch-craft out of him," Jason Philip snarled.
Daniel was crouching on the floor behind the organ, and did not stir at his uncle's call. He was so absorbed that the expression of his eyes made his uncle wonder whether the boy was really sane. He grasped Daniel's shoulder, and spoke in a tone of violent command: "Come home with me this minute!"
Daniel looked up, awoke from his dream, and became aware of the indignant hiss of that alien voice. He tore himself away, and declared insolently that he would stay where he was. That enraged Jason Philip utterly, and he tried again to lay hands on the boy in order to drag him down by force. Daniel leapt back, and cried with a quivering voice: "Don't touch me!"
Perhaps it was the silence of the nave that had an admonishing and terrifying effect on Jason Philip. Perhaps the extraordinary malignity and passion in the little fellow's face caused him to desist. At all events he turned around and went without another word.
"The stage-coach is waiting. We'll be late!" his wife called out to him.
He turned a sinister face to Marian. "You're bringing up a fine product, I must say. You'll have your own troubles with him."
Marian's eyes fell. She was not unprepared for the reproach. She was herself frightened at the boy's savage obduracy, his self-centred insistence on his imaginings, his hardness and impatience and contempt of all restraint. It seemed to her as though fate had inspired the soul of her child with something of the foolish and torturing hatred which she had nursed during her pregnancy.
Jason Philip Schimmelweis left the dark basement on the square, rented a shop near the bridge by the museum, and set up as a bookseller. Thus his old ambition was realised at last.
He hired a shop-assistant, and Theresa sat all day at the till and learned to keep books.
When she asked her husband what was the source of his capital, he answered that a friend who had great confidence in his ability had advanced him the money at a low rate of interest. He added that he had been pledged not to divulge the name of his friend.
Theresa did not believe him. Her mind was full of dark forebodings. She brooded incessantly and grew to be watchful and suspicious. In secret she tried to ferret out the identity of this nameless friend, but came upon no trace. Now and then she tried to cross-question Jason Philip. On such occasions he would snarl at her malignantly. There was no talk of the return of the money or of the payment of interest on it, nor did the books show an entry of any sort. To rid herself of the anxieties that accompanied her through the years, it would have been necessary for Theresa to believe in helpful fairies. And she did not believe in them.
Nature had given her neither gaiety nor gentleness; under the pressure of this insoluble mystery she became ill-tempered as a wife and moody as a mother.
When there were no customers in the shop she would pick up books quite at random and read in them. Sometimes it was a novel dealing with crime, sometimes a garrulous tract dealing with secret vices. Such things were needed to attract a public that regarded the buying of books as a sinful waste. Without special pleasure, and with a morose sort of thirst for information, she read revelations of court life and the printed betrayals of all kinds of spies, adventurers, and rogues. Quite unconsciously she came to judge the world to which she had no real access according to these books which offered her as truth the issues of sick and pestilential minds.
But as the years went on, and prosperity raised Jason Philip definitely into the merchant class, he abandoned the shadier side of his business. He was a man who knew his age and who unfurled his sails when he was sure of a favourable wind. He entrusted his ship more and more to the ever swelling current of the political parties of the proletariat, and hoped to find his profit where, in a half-hearted way, his convictions lay. He exhibited a rebel's front to the middle-classes, and held out a hand of unctuous fellowship to the toiler. He knew how to make his way! Many an insignificant shop-keeper had been known to exchange his musty rooms for a villa in the suburbs, to furnish it pretentiously, and to send his sons on trips abroad.
In these days, too, the old imperial city awoke from its romantic slumber. Once the sublime churches, the lovely curves of the bridges, and the quaint gables of the houses had formed an artistic whole. Now they became mere remnants. Castle and walls and mighty towers were ruins of an age of dreams now fortunately past. Iron rails were laid on the streets and rusty chains with strangely shaped lanterns were removed from the opening of narrow streets. Factories and smoke-stacks surrounded the venerable and picturesque city as an iron frame might surround the work of some old master.
"Modern man has got to have light and air," said Jason Philip Schimmelweis, and clinked the coins in his trousers pocket.
Daniel attended the gymnasium at Ansbach. He was to complete the course of studies that would entitle him to the reduction of his military service to one year and then enter business. This had been agreed upon between Jason Philip and Marian.
The boy's zeal for study was small. His teachers shook their heads. Their considerable experience of the world had never yet offered them a being so constituted. He listened more eagerly to the lowing of a herd of cows and to the twittering of the sparrows than to the best founded principles of grammatical science. Some of them thought him dull, others malicious. He passed from class to class with difficulty and solely by virtue of a marvellous faculty of guessing. At especially critical moments he was saved through the help and advocacy of the music-master Spindler.
The families who gave the poor student his meals complained of his bad manners. The wife of Judge Hahn forbade him the house on account of his boorish answers. "Beggars must not be choosers," she had called out after him.
Spindler was a man who asserted quite correctly that he had been meant for better things than wearing himself out in a provincial town. His white locks framed a face ennobled by the melancholy that speaks of lost ideals and illusions.
One summer morning Spindler had risen with the sun and gone for a long walk in the country. When he reached the first barn of the village of Dautenwinden he saw a company of strolling musicians, who had played dance music the evening before and far into the night, and who were now shaking from their hair and garments the straw and chaff amid which they had slept. Above them, under the open gable of the barn, Daniel Nothafft was lying in the straw. With an absorbed and devout expression he was seeking to elicit a melody from a flute which one of the musicians had loaned him.
Spindler stood still and looked up. The musicians laughed, but he did not share in their merriment. A long while passed before the unskilful player of the flute became aware of his teacher. Then he climbed down and tried to steal away with a shy greeting. Spindler stopped him. They walked on together, and Daniel confessed that he had not been able to tear himself away from the musicians since the preceding afternoon. The lad of fourteen was not able to express his feeling; but it seemed to him as though a higher power had forced him to breathe the same air at least with those who made music.
From that day on and for three years Daniel visited Spindler twice a week, and was most thoroughly grounded in counterpoint and harmony. The hours thus spent were both consecrated and winged. Spindler found a peculiar happiness in nourishing a passion whose development struck him as a reward for his many years of toneless isolation. And though the desperateness of this passion, though the rebelliousness and aimless wildness which streamed to him not only from the character of his pupil but also from that pupil's first attempts at composition, gave him cause for anxiety, yet he hoped always to soothe the boy by pointing to the high and serene models and masters of his art.
And so the time came in which Daniel was to earn his own bread.
Spindler journeyed to Eschenbach to confer with Marian Nothafft.
The woman did not understand him. She felt tempted to laugh.
Music had meant in her life the droning of a hurdy-gurdy, the singing of a club of men, the marching of a military band. Was her boy to wander from door to door and fiddle for pennies? Spindler seemed a mere madman to her. She pressed her hands together, and looked at him as at a man who was wasting trivial words on a tragic disaster. The music-master realised that his influence was as narrow as his world, and was forced to leave without accomplishing anything.
Marian wrote a letter to Jason Philip Schimmelweis.
One could almost see Jason Philip worrying his reddish brown beard with his nimble fingers and the scornful twinkling of his eyes; one could almost hear the sharp, northern inflection of his speech when his answer to Daniel arrived: "I expected nothing else of you than that it would be your dearest wish to be a wastrel. My dear boy, either you buckle under and make up your mind to become a decent member of society, or I leave you both to your own devices. There is no living in selling herrings and pepper, and so you will kindly imagine for yourself the fate of your mother, especially if a parasite like yourself clings to her."
Daniel tore up the letter into innumerable bits and let them flutter out into the wind. His mother wept.
Then he went out into the forest, wandered about till nightfall, and slept in the hollow of a tree.
One might go on and tell the tale of continued rebellion, of angry words on both sides, of pleas and complaints and fruitless arguments, of bitter controversy and yet bitterer silence.
Daniel fled and returned and let the slothful days glide by, stormed about in the vicinity, and lay in the high grass beside the pools or opened his window at night, cursing the silence and envying the clouds their speed.
His mother followed him when he went to his little room and pressed her ear to the door, and then entered and saw the candle still lit, and went to his bed and was frightened at his gleaming eyes which grew sombre at her approach. Full of the memories of her early cares and fears for him, and thinking that the darkness and the sight of her weakness would prevail upon him, she pleaded and begged once more. And he looked up at her and something broke in his soul, and he promised to do as she demanded.
So we see him next at the house of the leather merchant Hamecher in Ansbach. He sits on a bale of leather in the long, dismal passage way or on the cellar steps or in the store room, and dreams and dreams and dreams. And gradually the worthy Hamecher's indulgent surprise turned to blank astonishment and then to indignation, and at the end of six months he showed the useless fellow the door.
Once more Jason Philip condescended to grant his favour, and chose a new scene and new people for his nephew, if only to remove him from Spindler's baneful influence. At the mention of the city of Bayreuth no one became aware of Daniel's fiery ecstasy, for they had never heard of the name of Richard Wagner but always of the name of the wine merchant Maier. And so he came to Bayreuth, the Jerusalem of his yearning, and forced himself to an appearance of industry in order to remain in that spot where sun and air and earth and the very beasts and stones and refuse breathe that music of which Spindler had said that he himself had a profound presentiment of its nature but was too old to grasp and love it wholly.
Daniel did his best to make himself useful. But in spite of himself he scrawled music notes on the invoices, roared strange melodies in lonely vaults, and let the contents of a whole keg of wine leak out, because in front of him, on the floor, lay the score of the English Suites.
At a rehearsal he slipped into the Festival Playhouse, but was put out by a zealous watchman, and on this occasion made the acquaintance of Andreas Doederlein, who was a professor at the Nuremberg conservatory and a tireless apostle of the redeemer. Doederlein seemed not disinclined to understand and to help, and expressed a real delight at the deep, original enthusiasm and burning devotion of his protege. And Daniel, intoxicated by a rather vague and not at all binding promise of a scholarship at the conservatory, fled from Bayreuth by night, made his way on foot back to Eschenbach, threw himself at his mother's feet, and almost writhed there before her and begged and implored her, and in words almost wild sought to prevail on her to attempt to change the mind of Jason Philip. He tried to explain to her that his life and happiness, his very blood and heart were dedicated to this one thing. But she, who was once kindly, was now hard—hard as stone, cold as ice. She understood nothing, felt nothing, believed nothing, saw only the frightfulness, as she called it, of his incurable aberration.
All these matters might have been related at length. But they are as inevitable in their character and sequence as the sparks and smoke that follow upon fire. They are quite determinable; they have often happened, and have always had the same final effect.
What clung to Marian's soul was an immemorial prejudice against a gipsy's life and a stroller's fate. Her ancestors and her husband's had always earned their livelihood in the honest ways of a trade. She could not see what the free tuition at Doederlein's conservatory would avail Daniel, since he had nothing wherewithal to sustain life. He told her that Spindler had taught him how to play on the piano, that he would perfect his skill and so earn his sustenance. She shook her head. Then he spoke to her of the greatness of art, of the ecstasy which an artist could communicate and the immortality he might win, and that perhaps it would be granted him to create something unique and incomparable. But these words she thought mad and pretentious delusions, and smiled contemptuously. And at that his soul turned away from her, and she seemed a mother to him no more.
When Jason Philip Schimmelweis learned what was afoot, he would not let the troublesome journey deter him, but appeared in Marian's shop like an avenging angel. Daniel feared him no longer, since he had given up hoping for anything from him. He laughed to himself at the sight of the stubby, short-necked man in his rage. Gleams of mockery and of cunning still played over the red cheeks of Jason Philip, for he had a very high opinion of himself, and did not think the windy follies of a boy of nineteen worthy of the whole weight of his personality.
While he talked his little eyes sparkled, and his red, little tongue pushed away the recalcitrant hairs of his moustache from his voluble lips. Daniel stood by the door, leaning against the post, his arms folded across his chest, and regarded now his mother, who, dumb and suddenly old, sat in a corner of the sofa, now the oil portrait of his father on the opposite wall. A friend of Gottfried Nothafft's youth, a painter who had been long lost and forgotten like his other works, had once painted it. It showed a man of serious bearing, and brought to mind the princely guildsman of the Middle Ages. Seeing the picture at that moment enlightened Daniel as to the ancestral strain that had brought him to this mood and to this hour.
And turning now once more to Jason Philip's face, he thought he perceived in it the restlessness of an evil conscience. It seemed to him that this man was not acting from conviction but from an antecedent determination. It seemed to him further that he was faced, not merely by this one man and his rage and its accidental causes, but by a whole world in arms that was pledged to enmity against him. He had no inclination now to await the end of Jason Philip's oratorical efforts, and left the room.
Jason Philip grew pale. "Don't let us deceive ourselves, Marian," he said. "You have nursed a viper on your bosom."
Daniel stood by the Wolfram fountain in the square, and let the purple of the setting sun shine upon him. Round about him the stones and the beams of the ancient houses glowed, and the maids who came with pails to fetch water at the fountain gazed with astonishment into the brimming radiance of the sky. At this hour his native town grew very dear to Daniel. When Jason Philip entered the square, at the corner of which the stage-coach was waiting, he did his best not to be seen by Daniel and avoided him in a wide semi-circle. But Daniel turned around and fastened his eyes on the man, who strode rapidly and gazed stubbornly aside.
This thing too has happened before and will happen again. Nor is it amazing that the fugitive should turn and inspire terror in his pursuer.
Daniel saw that he could not stay to be a burden to his mother with her small resources. She was poor and dependent on the judgment of a tyrannical kinsman. Mastering his passionate impulses, he forced himself to cool reflection and made a plan. He would have to work and earn so much money that after a year or more he would be able to go to Andreas Doederlein and remind him of his magnanimous offer. So he studied the advertisements in the papers and wrote letters of application. A printer in Mannheim wanted an assistant correspondent. Since he agreed to take the small wage offered, he was summoned to that city. Marian gave him his railway fare.
He endured the torment for three months. Then it grew unbearable. For seven months he slaved for an architect in Stuttgart, next four months for the municipal bath in Baden-Baden, finally for six weeks in a cigarette factory in Kaiserslautern.
He lived like a dog. In terror of having to spend money, he avoided all human intercourse. He was unspeakably lonely. Hunger and self-denial made him as lean as a rope. His cheeks grew hollow, his limbs trembled in their sockets. He patched his own clothes, and to save his shoes hammered curved bits of iron to the heels and toes. His aim sustained him; Andreas Doederlein beckoned in the distance.
Every night he counted the sum he had saved so far. And when at last, after sixteen months of self-denial, he had a fortune of two hundred marks, he thought he could risk the fateful step. As he reckoned and according to his present standard of life, he thought that this money would last him five months. Within that period new sources might open. He had come to know many people and had experienced many circumstances, but in reality he had known no one and experienced nothing, for he had stood in the world like a lantern with a covered light. With an enormous expenditure of energy he had restrained his mind from its native activity. He had throttled it for the sake of its future. Hence his whole soul had now the temperature of a blast furnace.
On his trip his fare was the accustomed one of dry bread and cheese. He had made a package of his few books and his music, and had despatched it in care of the railway station in Nuremberg. It was early spring. In fair weather he slept in the open. When it rained he took refuge in barns. A little bundle was his pillow and his ragged top-coat shielded him from frost. Not rarely farmers received him in kindly fashion and gave him a meal. Now and then a tramping apprentice joined him. But his silence did not invite companionship.
Once in the neighbourhood of Kitzingen he came upon a high fenced park. Under a maple tree in the park sat a young girl in a white dress reading a book. A voice called: "Sylvia!" Thereupon the girl arose, and with unforgettable grace of movement walked deeper into the garden.
And Daniel thought: Sylvia! A sound as though from a better world. He shuddered. Was it to be his lot to stand without a gate of life that gave everything to the eyes and nothing to the hands?
He sought out Andreas Doederlein at once. He was told that the professor was not in town. Two weeks later he stood once more before the old house. He was told that the professor could not be seen to-day. He was discouraged. But out of loyalty to his cause he returned at the end of three days and was received.
He entered an overheated room. The professor was sitting in an arm chair. On his knees was his little, eight-year-old daughter; in his right arm he held a large doll. The white tiles of the stove were adorned with pictured scenes from the Nibelungen legend; table and chairs were littered with music scores; the windows had leaded panes; in one corner there was a mass of artfully grouped objects—peacocks' feathers, gay-coloured silks, Chinese fans. This combination was known as a Makart bouquet, and represented the taste of the period.
Doederlein put the little girl down and gave her her doll. Then he drew himself up to the fulness of his gigantic stature, a process that gave him obvious pleasure. His neck was so fat that his chin seemed to rest on a gelatinous mass.
He seemed not to recall Daniel. Cues had to be given him to distinguish this among his crowded memories. He snapped his fingers. It was a sign that his mind had reached the desired place. "Ah, yes, yes, yes! To be sure, to be sure, my dear young man! But what do you suppose? Just now when all available space is as crowded as a street strewn with crumbs is crowded with sparrows. We might take the matter up again in autumn. Yes, in autumn something might be done."
A pause, during which the great man gave inarticulate sounds of profound regret. And was the young man, after all, so sure of a genuine talent? Had he considered that art was becoming more and more an idling place for the immature and the shipwrecked? It was so difficult to tell the sheep from the goats. And finally, granting talent, how was the young man equipped in the matter of moral energy? There, indisputably, the core of the problem was to be sought. Or didn't he, perhaps, think so?
As through a fog Daniel observed that the little girl had approached him and looked him over with a curiously cold and testing glance. Almost he was impelled to stretch out his hand and cover the eyes of the child, whose manner was uncanny to him through some ghostly presentiment.
"I'm truly sorry that I can't give you a more encouraging outlook." Andreas Doederlein's voice was oily, and showed a conscious delight in its own sound. "But as I said, there's nothing to be done until autumn. Suppose you leave me your address. Put it down on this slip. No? Well, quite as you wish. Good-bye, young man, good-bye."
Doederlein accompanied him to the door. Then he returned to his daughter, took her on his knee, picked up the doll, and said: "Human beings, my dear Dorothea, are a wretched set. If I were to compare them to sparrows on the road, I should be doing the sparrows but little honour. Heavens and earth! Wouldn't even write his name on a slip of paper. Felt hurt! Well, well, well. What funny creatures men are. Wouldn't leave his name. Well, well."
He hummed the Walhalla motif, and Dorothea, bending over her doll, coquettishly kissed the waxen face.
Daniel, standing in front of the house, bit his lips like a man in a fever who does not want his teeth to rattle. Why, the depth of his soul asked him, why did you sit in their counting-houses and waste their time? Why did you crucify your body and bind my wings? Why were you deaf to me and desirous of gathering fruits where there are only stones? Why did you, like a coward, flee from your fate to their offices and ware-houses and iron safes and all their doleful business? For the sake of this hour? Poor fool!
And he answered: "Never again, my soul, never again."
In the beginning Marian had received a letter from Daniel every now and then. These letters became rarer. During the second year he wrote only once—a few lines at Christmas.
At the time when he was leaving his last place of employment he wrote her on a postcard that he was changing his residence again. But he did not tell her that he was going to Nuremberg. So spring passed and summer. Then her soul, which was wavering between fear and hope, was rudely jolted out of its dim state by a letter from Jason Philip.
He wrote that Daniel was loafing about in Nuremberg. Quite by accident he had met him a few days before near the fair booths on Schuett Island. His appearance was indescribable. He had tried to question him, but Daniel had disappeared. What had brought him to the city he, Jason Philip, could not see. But he was willing to wager that at the bottom of it was some shady trick, for the fellow had not looked like one who earns an honest living. So he proposed to Marian that she should come to Nuremberg and help in a raid on the vagabond, in order to prevent the unblemished name he bore from being permanently disgraced before it was too late. As a contribution to her travelling expenses he enclosed five marks in stamps.
Marian had received the letter at noon. She had at once locked up her house and shop. At two o'clock she had reached the station at Ansbach; at four she arrived in Nuremberg. Carrying her hand-bag, she asked her way to Plobenhof Street at every corner.
Theresa sat at the cashier's desk. Her brown hair on her square peasant's skull was smoothly combed. Zwanziger, the freckled shop-assistant, was busy unpacking books. Theresa greeted her sister with apparent friendliness, but she did not leave her place. She stretched out her hand across the ink-stand, and observed Marian's shabby appearance—the worn shawl, the old-fashioned little cloth bonnet with its black velvet ribbands meeting in a bow under the chin.
"Go upstairs for a bit," she said, "and let the children entertain you. Rieke will bring up your bag."
"Where is your husband?" asked Marian.
"At an electors' meeting," Theresa answered morosely. "They couldn't meet properly, according to him, if he isn't there."
At that moment a man in a workingman's blouse entered the shop and began to talk to Theresa urgently in a soft but excited voice. "I bought the set of books and they're my property," said the man. "Suppose I did skip a payment. That's no reason to lose my property. I call that sharp practice, Frau Schimmelweis, that's what I call it."
"What did Herr Wachsmuth buy of us?" Theresa turned to the shop-assistant.
"Schlosser's 'History of the World,'" was the prompt answer.
"Then you'd better read your contract," Theresa said to the workingman. "The terms are all fixed there."
"That's sharp practice, Frau Schimmelweis, sharp practice," the man repeated, as though this phrase summed up all he could express in the way of withering condemnation. "A fellow like me wants to get on and wants to learn something. All right. So I think I'll buy me a book and get a step ahead in knowledge. So where do I go? To a party member, to Comrade Schimmelweis, thinking natural-like I'm safe in his hands. I pay sixty marks—hard earned money—for a history of the world, and manage to squeeze the payments out o' my wages, and then, all of a sudden, when half the price is paid, I'm to have my property taken from me without so much as a by your leave just because I'm two payments in arrears."
"Read your contract," said Theresa. "Every point is stipulated."
"No wonder people get rich," the man went on. His voice grew louder and louder, and he glanced angrily at Jason Philip, who at that moment rushed into the shop with his hat crushed and his trousers sprinkled with mud. "No wonder that people can buy houses and speculate in real estate. Yes, Schimmelweis, I call such things sharp practice, and I don't give a damn for your contract. Everybody knows by this time what kind of business is done here—more like a man-trap—and that these here instalments are just a scheme to squeeze the workingman dry. First you talk to him about education, and then you suck his blood. It's hell!"
"Pull yourself together, Wachsmuth!" Jason Philip cried sternly.
Wachsmuth picked up his cap, and slammed the shopdoor behind him.
Marian Nothafft's eyes passed mechanically over the titles of a row of fiercely red pamphlets spread out on a table. She read: "The Battle that Decides," "Modern Slaveholders," "The Rights of the Poor," "Christianity and Capitalism," "The Crimes of the Bourgeoisie." Although these catch-words meant nothing to her, she felt in her heart once more her old, long forgotten hatred against machines.
"Fetch me a sandwich, Theresa," Jason Philip commanded, "I'm hungry as a wolf."
"Didn't you eat anything at the inn?" Theresa asked suspiciously.
"I was at no such place." Jason Philip's eyes gleamed, and he shook his head like a lion.
So Theresa went to fetch his sandwich. It was queer to observe how much distrust and contradiction she was able to express through the sloth of her movements. But her daughter Philippina was already hurrying down the stairs with the sandwich.
At this moment Jason Philip became aware of his sister-in-law. "Ah, there you are, you shrinking flower," he said lightly, and held out his pudgy hand. "Theresa will put you up in the little room under the store-room. You have a pleasant view of the river there."
Theresa handed him the bread. He sniffed at it, and frowned because it wasn't thickly enough buttered. But he had not the courage to complain. He bit into it, and, with full cheeks, turned once more to Marian.
"Well, that son of yours has disappeared again. A nice situation. Shouldn't wonder if he ended in the penitentiary. The best thing would be to ship him off to America; but it isn't clear to me how we're to get hold of him at all. It was really premature to ask you to come."
"If only I knew what he's living on," Marian whispered, with repressed anguish.
Jason Philip indulged with broad psychical comfort in an anecdote: "I was reading the other day how a giraffe escaped from the Zoo. You've heard of giraffes. They are long-necked quadrupeds, very stupid and stubborn. The silly beast had run off into the woods, and the people didn't know how to capture it. Then the keeper hung the stable-lantern over his chest and a bundle of hay on his back, and at nightfall went into the woods. Scarcely had the giraffe noticed the gleam of the lantern when it came up in its curiosity. At once the man swung around. It smelled the hay, nibbled, and began to feed. Slowly the man went on, and the beast went on nibbling and feeding. First thing you know it was back in its cage. Now don't you think that when hunger begins to torment him, your Daniel could be tamed with a bit of hay too? It's worth your thinking about."
Jason Philip laughed merrily, and Zwanziger grinned. His boss was a source of humour. At night, when he sat in his favourite tap-rooms over his beer, he would entertain his boon companions with the witticisms of Schimmelweis, and always won their applause.
A lean old man with kid gloves and a top-hat entered the shop. It was growing dark, and he had peered carefully about before entering. He hurried up to Jason Philip, and said in a cracked falsetto: "How about the new publications? Anything very fine?" He rubbed his hands, and stared stupidly from under his thin, reddish lids. It was Count Schlemm-Nottheim, a cousin of the Baron von Auffenberg, the leader of the liberal party.
"I'm entirely at your service, sir," said Jason Philip, holding himself as rigidly as a sergeant who is being addressed by a captain.
He led the count to a corner of the shop, and opened a heavy oaken chest. This chest contained the pornographic publications forbidden by the state. They were sold quite secretly and only to very reliable persons.
Jason Philip whispered, and the old count turned over the heap of books with avid fingers.
Marian climbed up the steep, dark stairs, and rang the upstairs bell. She had to tell the maid who she was and even mention her name to the children. The latter laughed at her stiff, rural courtesy. Philippina, who was twelve, acted arrogantly and swung her hips when she walked. All three had their mother's square head and a cheesy complexion.
The maid brought up the bag. Then Theresa came too and helped her sister unpack. With her acrid, unfeeling voice she asked many questions, but without waiting for an answer told the tale of marriage and births and deaths that had taken place in the city. She avoided Marian's eyes, because she was silently considering how long her sister's visit would last and to what expense it would put her.
She did not mention Daniel, and her silence condemned him more completely than her husband's acrimonious speeches. She held firmly an almost religious doctrine of the complete obedience which children owe their parents, and doubted Marian's power to punish properly a breach of this sacred law.
When Marian was left alone, she sat down by the window of the little room, and gazed sadly down at the river. Without any curl of waves the yellow water glided by and washed the walls of the houses on the other bank. She had a view of the Museum Bridge and another bridge, and the crowding of people on the bridges disquieted her.
She walked through the streets, and stopped at the head of the Museum Bridge. She thought that every human being who lived in the town must pass by here sooner or later. Her attentive glance searched all faces, and where one escaped, she followed the figure as it melted into the dark. But as it grew later the people were fewer and fewer.
At night she would lie awake, and listen to the dull echo of the feet of the last passerby. Next day from morning to twilight she would wander up and down the streets. What she saw weighed on her heart. The city people seemed to her like dumb animals, tormented and angry. The narrow streets stopped her breath; the hubbub deadened her senses.
But she was never tired of seeking.
On the fifth day she did not come home until ten o'clock. Theresa, who had gone to bed, sent her a plate of lentil soup. While she was avidly eating the soup she heard steps in the hall and a knock at the door. Jason Philip entered. "Come along at once," was all he said. But she understood. With trembling fingers she threw a shawl across her shoulders, since the October nights were growing cool, and followed him in silence.
They went up hill to Adler Street, turned into it and then into a narrow, dark little alley at the right. A lantern hung above a door and on a green glass pane were inscribed the words: "The Vale of Tears." A greenish light suffused the stone stairs that led to the cellar, the kegs and the desolate room filled with chairs and benches. A sourish smell of wine arose from the place.
Beside the entrance there was a barred window. Beside it Jason Philip stopped, and beckoned Marian to join him.
At the long tables below them sat a queer crowd. They were young men, but such as one never finds in ordinary houses and only very rarely in the streets. Want seemed to have driven them to huddle here, and the night to have lured them from their hiding places—shipwrecked creatures they seemed who had fled to a cavern on some deserted shore. They had absurdly gay cravats and sad, pallid faces, and the greenish light made them look altogether like corpses. It was long since a barber had touched their hair or a tailor their garb.
A little aside from these sat two old fellows, habitual topers, not in the best circumstances themselves, yet rather astonished at this dreary Stygian crew. For they themselves at least received their weekly wage of a Saturday night, while those others had obviously for years not worked at all.
But in a dusky corner sat one at a piano and struck the keys with a strange might. He had no score before him, but played from memory. The instrument moaned; the strings hummed pitifully; the pedals creaked; but the man who played was so bewitched by his music that he cared little for the inadequacy of its communication. Wild as the tumult of the playing sounded, the shrill and raging chords, the wild clamour of the treble, the driven triplets and seething tremolos of the bass, yet the deep emotion of the player, the ecstasy and world-estranged madness in which he was, lent the scene a melancholy and a solemnity which would have had its effect even without the greenish cellar and the cavernous pallor of the listeners.
Marian had at once recognised the pianist as Daniel. She had to hold fast to the bars of the window and lean her knees against the wainscoting. It was not for nothing that Jason Philip was known as a thorough wag. The comparison to Daniel in the lion's den was too much for him. He whispered the words to Marian. But since the window was open and the music had first risen and then, at this moment, paused, his words penetrated to the people below, and several heads turned toward him. Marian was thoughtless. She believed that the piece had ended. Faintly and fearfully she cried: "Daniel!"
Daniel leaped up, stared at her, saw Jason Philip's mocking face, hastened to the door, the steps, and was beside them.
He stood in the doorway, and his lips began to form words. The unhappy boy, she thought, and it seemed to her as though power would be given her to press back to his heart the words she trembled to hear.
It was in vain. The words were uttered. He did not wish to see his mother any more; he was content to live alone and for himself and to be free. He needed no one. He needed only to be free.
Jason Philip hurled a glance of contempt at the blasphemous wretch, and drew Marian away with him. To the very corner of the alley they were accompanied by the excited voices of the people in the Vale of Tears.
Next morning Marian returned to Eschenbach.
FOES, BROTHERS, A FRIEND AND A MASK
Daniel had rented a room of the brush-maker Hadebusch and his wife, who lived on Jacob's Square behind the church.
It was March, and a sudden cold had set in; and Frau Hadebusch had a superstitious fear of coal, which she characterised as Devil's dung. At the back of the yard was the wood pile, and logs were brought in with which to feed the oven fires. But wood was dear, and had Daniel fed his little iron stove in the garret with such costly food, his monthly bill would have reached a fabulous height. He paid seven marks a month for his room and counted every penny so as not to shorten the period of his liberty by any needless expenditure.
So he sat freezing over his books and scores until the first warmth of spring stole in through the windows. The books he borrowed from the library at the King's Gate, and paid six pfennigs a volume. Achim von Arnim and Jean Paul were his guides in those days: the one adorned the world of the senses for him, the other that of the soul.
On the police department's identification blank Daniel had called himself a musician. Frau Hadebusch brought the paper into her living room, which, like all the rooms of the house, seemed built for dwarfs and reeked of limewater and lye. It was at the day's end, and in the room were assembled Herr Francke and Herr Benjamin Dorn, who lodged on the second floor, and Frau Hadebusch's son, who was weak-minded and crouched grinning beside the stove.
Herr Francke was a town traveller for a cigar house, and was regarded as a good deal of a Don Juan by the female servants of the neighbourhood. Benjamin Dorn was a clerk in the Prudentia Life Insurance Company, belonged to a Methodist congregation, and was respected by all the respectable on account of his Christian walk and conversation.
These gentlemen examined the document thoroughly and with frowns. Herr Francke gave it as his opinion that a musician who never made music could scarcely be regarded as one.
"He's probably pawned his bass violin or bugle or whatever he was taught," he said contemptuously; "perhaps he can only beat a drum. Well, I can do that too if I have one."
"Yes, you've got to have a drum to be a drummer," Benjamin Dorn remarked. "The question, however, is whether such a calling is in harmony with the principles of Christian modesty." He laid his finger on his nose, and added: "It is a question which, with all proper humility, all proper humility, you understand, I would answer in the negative."
"He hasn't any relatives and no acquaintances at all," Frau Hadebusch wailed, and her voice sounded like the scraping of carrots on a grater; "and no employment and no prospects and no boots or clothes but what he's got on. In all my life I haven't had no such lodger."
The blank fluttered to the floor, whence the weak-minded Hadebusch Jr. picked it up, rolled it in the shape of a bag, and applied that bag, trumpet-like, to his lips, a procedure which caused the document in question to be gradually soaked through and thus withdrawn from its official uses. Frau Hadebusch was too little concerned over the police regulations to take further thought of her duties as the keeper of a lodging house.
Herr Francke drew from his pocket a pack of greasy cards and began to shuffle them. Frau Hadebusch giggled and it sounded like a witch rustling in the fire. The Methodist conquered his pious scruples, and placed his pfennigs on the table; the town-traveller turned up his sleeves as though he were about to wring a hen's neck.
Before very long there arose a dissonant controversy, since Herr Francke's relations with the goddess of fortune were strained and violent. The old brush-maker poked his head in at the door and cursed; the weak-minded boy blew dreamily on his paper trumpet; and the company that had been so peacefully at one separated in violence and rage.
Daniel wandered up to the castle, along the walls, over the bridges and planks.
It was his youth that caused him so to love the night that he forgot all men and seemed to himself to be alone on earth. It was his youth that delivered him up to things with such passion that he was able to weave the ghostly flowers of melodies about all that is visible—melodies that were so delicate, so eloquent, and so winged that no pen could ever record them. They vanished and died whenever he sought to capture them.
But it was also his youth that fired his eyes with hatred when he saw the comfort of lit windows, and filled his heart with bitterness against the satisfied, the indifferent, the strangers, the eternal strangers who had no consciousness of him.
He was so small and so great: small in the eyes of the world, great in his own estimation. When the tones burst from him like sparks from an anvil, he was a god. When he stood in the dark court behind the City Theatre waiting for the final chorus of "Fidelio" to penetrate the wall and reach his grateful ears, he was an outcast. Fountains of music rustled all about him. He looked into the eyes of the children and there was melody; he gazed up at the stars and there was harmony. He finally came to the point where there was no limit. His day was a waste place, his brain a parched field in the rain, his thoughts were birds of passage, his dreams a super-life.
He lived on bread and fruit, treating himself only every third day to a warm meal in the inn at the sign of the White Tower. There he would sit and listen at times, unobserved, to the quite remarkable conversation of some young fellows. This awakened in him a longing for intercourse with congenial companions. But when the brethren of the Vale of Tears finally took him into their circle, he was like a Robinson Crusoe or a Selkirk who had been abducted from his island.
Benjamin Dorn was a compassionate individual. The desire to save a lost soul filled him with the courage to pay Daniel Nothafft a visit. He hobbled up the creaky steps with his club-foot, and knocked timidly at the door.
"Can I be of service to you, Sir, in a Christian way?" he asked, after he had blown his nose.
Daniel looked at him in amazement.
"You know, I could help you in an unselfish, Christian way, to get a position. There is a great deal of work to be done down at the Prudentia. If I were to recommend you to Herr Zittel it certainly would not be in vain. Herr Zittel is head of the clerical department. I also stand in with Herr Diruf, and he is general agent. I come in contact nearly every day with Inspector Jordan, and Herr Jordan is a man of exceptional culture. His daughter Gertrude attended my Sunday-school class. She has received and still enjoys divine favour. If you were to entrust your case to me, you would be entering upon a righteous, wholesome career. I am always looking out for some one. To tell the truth, and not wishing to appear immodest, I was born that way."
The man looked like a patchwork of qualmishness, tribulation, and unctuous piety, and his coat collar was badly frayed.
"That's all right," replied Daniel; "don't you see that I am getting along quite well?"
The pious life-insurance agent sighed and brushed a drop from the tip of his nose with the back of his hand. "My dear Sir," said he, "take to heart the words of Solomon: Pride goeth before a fall, but the humble in spirit obtain honour."
"Yes, I'll take that to heart," said Daniel drily, and bent still lower over the score on which he was working.
Benjamin Dorn sighed again, and limped out of the room. With his thumbs pointing straight to high heaven above, he said to Frau Hadebusch: "You know, Frau Hadebusch, I simply can't help it. I must lighten my heart in a Christian way. What do you think?"
"Good heavens, what's he doing? What's he up to now?" sighed the old lady, as she shoved her broom under her arm.
"As true as I stand here, the table is all covered with papers, and the papers are all covered with some kind of mysterious signs."
Alarmed at the very thought of having a lodger up in the attic who was practising black magic, Frau Hadebusch sent her husband down to the district policeman. This enlightened official declared that the brush-maker was a gossip. Vexed at this unanticipated description of himself, the brush-maker went straightway to the inn at the sign of the Horse and got drunk, so drunk that Benjamin Dorn had to take him home. It was a beautiful moonlit night.
Not far from Hadebusch's was a little cafe known as The Paradise. Everything in it was diminutive, the proprietor, the waitress, the tables, the chairs and the portions. There the brethren from the Vale of Tears assembled to drag the gods down into the dust and destroy the universe in general.
Daniel wended his way thither. He knew the liliputian room and the starved faces. He was personally acquainted with the painter who never painted, the writer who never wrote, the student who never studied, and the inventor who never invented anything. He knew all about the sculptor who squandered such talents as he may have had in tinkering with plaster casts, the actor who had been on a leave of absence for years, and the half dozen mendicant Philistines who came here day after day to have a good time in their own repelling fashion. He knew the young Baron von Auffenberg who had broken with his family for reasons that were clear to no one but himself. He knew Herr Carovius, who invariably played the role of the observer, and who sat there in a sort of mysterious fashion, smiling to himself a smile of languishing irony, and stroking his hand over his long hair, which was cut straight across at the back of his neck.
He knew, ah, he knew by heart, the grease spots on the walls that had been rubbed in by the heads of the habitues, the indelible splotches on the tables, the hartshorn buttons on the proprietor's vest, and the smoke-coloured curtains draped about the tiny windows. The loud, boisterous talking, the daily repetition of the same hackneyed remarks, the anarchistic swashbuckling of the painter whom his comrades had dubbed Kropotkin—all of these were familiar stories to him. He knew the philosophic cynicism of the student who felt that he was the Socrates of the nineteenth century, and who looked back on twenty-five wasted semesters as on so many battles fought and won.
The most interesting personage was Herr Carovius. He was a well-read man. That he knew a great deal about music was plain from many of his chance remarks. He was a brother-in-law of Andreas Doederlein, though he seemed to take anything but pride in the relationship. If any one mentioned Doederlein's name in his presence, he screwed up his face, and began to shuffle about uneasily on his chair. He was an unfathomable, impenetrable personality. Even if his years—he was forty-five—had not won for him a measure of esteem, the malicious and mordant scorn he heaped on his fellow-men would have done so. People said he had a good deal of money. If this was brought to his attention, he employed the most ghastly oaths in asserting his poverty. But since he had neither calling nor profession and spent his days in unqualified idleness, it was apparent that his assertions on this point were wholly unfounded, and this despite the virility of his unconventional language.
"Say, tell me, who is that lanky quack there?" asked Herr Carovius, pointing to Daniel and looking at Schwalbe the sculptor. He had known Daniel for a long while, but every now and then it gave him a peculiar kind of pleasure to play the role of the newcomer.
The sculptor looked at him indignantly.
"That is a man who still has faith in himself," he remarked rather morosely. "He is a man who has bathed in the dragon blood of illusions, and has become as invulnerable as Young Siegfried. He is convinced that the people who sleep in the houses around this part of town dream of his future greatness, and have already placed an order with the green-grocer for his laurel wreath. He has not the faintest idea that the only thing that is sacred to them is their midday meal, that they are ready to drink their beer at the first stroke of the gong, and to yawn when the light appears on Mount Sinai. He is completely taken up with himself; he is sufficient unto himself; and he gathers honey. The bee will have its honey, and if it is unable to get it from the flowers, it buzzes about the dung heap. As is evidently the case here. Prosit Nothafft," he said in conclusion, and lifted his glass to Daniel.
Herr Carovius smiled in his usual languishing fashion. "Nothafft," he bleated, "Nothafft, Nothafft, that is a fine name, but not exactly one that is predestined to a niche in Walhalla. It strikes me as being rather more appropriate for the sign of a tailor. Good Lord! The bones the young people gnaw at to-day were covered with meat in my time."
And then, clasping his glasses a bit firmer onto his nose, he riveted his blinking, squinting eyes on the door. Eberhard von Auffenberg, elegant, slender, and disgruntled, entered to find life where others were throwing it away.
It was far into the night when the brethren went home. As they passed along through the streets they bellowed their nocturnal serenades at the windows of the otherwise peaceful houses.
As the hilarious laughter and vocal rowdyism reached Daniel's ear, he detected from out of the hubbub a gentle voice in E-flat minor, accompanied by the inexorable eighth-notes sung with impressive vigour. Then the voice died away in a solemn E-flat major chord, and everything was as if sunk in the bottom of the sea.
Toward the end of the summer, Philippina, Jason Philip's daughter, shot out the eye of her seven-year-old brother with a so-called bean-shooter.
The children were playing in the yard. Willibald, the older boy, wanted the shooter. Philippina, who had not the slightest sense of humour, snatched it from his hands, placed the stone on the elastic band and let it fly with all her might. Little Marcus ran in front of it. It was all over in a jiffy. A heart-rending scream caused the frightened mother to leave the shop and run out into the yard. She found the child lying on the ground convulsed with pain. While Theresa carried the boy into the house, Jason Philip ran for the doctor. But it was too late; the eye was lost.
Philippina hid. After considerable search her father found her under the cellar steps. He beat her so mercilessly that the neighbours had to come up and take him away.
Little Marcus was Theresa's favourite child. She could not get over the accident. The obsession that had slumbered in her soul for years now became more persistent than ever: she began to brood over guilt in general and this case in particular.
At times she would get up in the night, light a candle, and walk about the house in her stocking feet. She would look behind the stove and under the table, and then crouch down with her ear against the maid's door. She would examine the mouse-trap and if a mouse had been caught in it, she could not, try as she might, completely detach her own unrest from the mental disturbance of the little beast.
One day Jason Philip was stopped on the street by a well-known cabinet-maker and asked whether he had any old furniture for sale. Jason Philip replied that he was not at all familiar with the contents of the attic and sent him to Theresa. Theresa recalled that there was an old desk up in the attic that had been standing there for years. She suggested that they might be willing to dispose of this for a few taler, and accompanied the man to the room where the worn-out furniture was stored.
She opened the little wooden door. The cabinet-maker caught sight at once of the desk. It had only three legs and was just about ready to fall to pieces. "I can't make you an offer for that," said the cabinet-maker, and began to rap on it here and there, somewhat as a physician might sound a corpse. "The most I can offer you is twelve groschen."
They haggled for a while, and finally agreed on sixteen. The man left at once, having promised to send one of his men up in the afternoon to get the desk. Theresa was already standing on the steps, when it occurred to her that it might be well to go through the drawers before letting the thing get out of the house: there might be some old documents in them. She went back up in the attic.
In the dust of one of the drawers she found, sure enough, a bundle of papers, and among them the receipt which Gottfried Nothafft had sent back to Jason Philip ten years before. She read in the indistinct light the confidential words of the deceased. She saw that Jason Philip had received three thousand taler.
After she had read this, she crumpled up the paper. Then she put it into her apron pocket and screamed out: "Be gone, Gottfried, be gone!"
She went down stairs into the kitchen. There she took her place by the table and stirred a mixture of flour and eggs, as completely absent-minded as it is possible for one to become who spends her time in that part of the house. Rieke, the maid, became so alarmed at her behaviour that she made the sign of the cross.
When the midday meal was over, the children left the table and prepared to go to school. Jason Philip lighted a cigar, and took the newspaper from his pocket.
"Did you find anything for the second-hand furniture man?" he asked, as he puffed away.
"I found something for him and something for myself," she said.
"What do you mean? You found something for yourself?"
"What do I mean? I mean just what I said. I have always known that there was something crooked about that money."
"What money are you talking about? Listen, don't speak to me in riddles! When you have anything to say to me, say it. Do you understand?"
"I mean Gottfried Nothafft's money, Jason Philip," said Theresa, almost in a whisper.
Jason Philip bent over the table. "Then you have at last found the old receipt, have you?" he asked with wide-opened eyes. "Ahem! You have found the receipt that I've been looking for for years ...?"
Theresa nodded. She took out a hairpin, and stuck it in a crust of bread. Jason Philip got up, clasped his hands behind his back, and began to walk back and forth. Just then Rieke came in and began to clear off the table. She went about her business in a slow but noisy fashion. She made things rattle, even if she could not make them hum. When she was through, Jason Philip, his hands pressed to his hips, his elbows protruding, planted himself before Theresa.
"I suppose you think I am going to let you browbeat me," he began. "Well, my dear woman, you're mistaken. Listen! Are you angry at me because I have created for you and your children a dignified existence? Do you take it amiss of me for having kept your sister from going to the poor-house? You act as though I had won that much money at the county fair, or had squandered an equal amount at the same place. The truth is, Gottfried Nothafft entrusted me with three thousand taler. That's what he did; that's the truth. It was his intention to keep the whole affair from the chatter of women. And he willed that I should use this hard-earned capital in a productive way, and not give it to the culprit who would waste it in debauchery and worse if possible."
"Ill-gotten goods seldom prosper," said Theresa, without looking up. "Things may go along all right for ten years, and that seems like a long time, but the vengeance of Heaven comes in the eleventh, as it has already come in the case of little Marcus."
"Theresa—you're talking like a mad woman," said Jason Philip at the top of his voice. With that he picked up a chair, and threw it on the floor so violently that every cup, spoon, and plate in the room shook.
Theresa turned her peasant face toward him without the shadow of a trace of fear. He was a trifle alarmed: "You'll have to be responsible, if you can, for any misfortune that visits us in the future." She spoke these words with a deep voice.
"Do you think I am a bandit?" said Jason Philip. "Do you think I want to pocket the money? Don't you think that I am capable of anything better or higher than that? Or is ambition of any sort quite beyond your powers of comprehension?"
"Well, what ambitions do you have?" asked Theresa in a tone of sullenness, her eyes in the meantime blinking.
"Listen," Jason Philip continued, as he sat down on the chair he had so violently abused a minute before, and assumed the air of a teacher: "The culprit has got to submit, and that with good grace. He has got to fall on his knees before me. And he'll come to it. I have made some inquiries; I am on his tracks; and I know that he has just about reached the end of his rope. He'll come, depend upon it he'll come around, and when he does he will whine. Then I am going to take him into the business. In this way we will see whether it is humanly possible to make a useful man out of him. If I can, and if he sticks, I'll call him into the office, tell him the whole story, make everything as clear as day to him, and then offer to take him in as a partner in the firm. You have got to admit that he will be a made man if he becomes my partner. He will have sense enough himself to see this, and as sure as you are living, he will first kiss my hand and then eat out of it for the kindness I have shown him. And once this has all been put through, I will bind him to us more firmly than ever by having him marry Philippina."
A wry smile disfigured Theresa's face. "I see, so, so," she said in a sing-song tone. "You will have him marry Philippina. I take it that you feel that she will be hard to marry, and that the man who does marry her will have his hands full. Well, that's not a bad idea."
"In this way," continued Jason Philip, without detecting the scorn in Theresa's words, "the account between the culprit and myself will be settled. He will become a decent member of society, the money will remain in the family, and Philippina will be cared for."
"And suppose he does not come; suppose he does not fall on his knees; suppose you have made a miscalculation. What then?" Whether Jason Philip himself believed what he had said Theresa could not determine. Nor had she the slightest desire to enlighten herself on this point. She did not look him in the face, but contented herself with letting her eyes rest on his hands.
"Well—there will be time then to change my plans," said Jason Philip, in a tone of peeved vexation. "Leave it to me. I have turned the whole situation over in my mind; I have omitted not the slightest detail. I know men, and I have never made a mistake in judging them. Mahlzeit!"
With that he went out.
Theresa remained seated for a while, her arms folded across her breast. Then she got up, and walked over to the door that opened on to the court. Suddenly she stopped as if rooted to the sill: she caught sight of Philippina, who was then sitting by the window mending a pair of socks. On her face there was an expression of naivete that may be harmless in itself, but it was enough to arouse suspicion.
"What's the matter with you, why didn't you go to school?" asked Theresa uneasily.
"I couldn't; I had a headache," said Philippina curtly, and broke the thread as she gave a hasty jerk at the needle. Her dishevelled hair hung down over her forehead and quite concealed her face.
Theresa was silent. Her gloom-laden eyes rested on the diligent fingers of Philippina. It was easy to suspect that the girl had heard everything Jason Philip had said, for he had such a loud voice. She could have done this without going to the trouble of listening at the door. Theresa was minded to give the girl a talking-to; but she controlled herself, and quietly withdrew.
Philippina looked straight through her as she left. But she did not interrupt her work, and in a short while she could be heard humming a tune to herself. There was a challenge in her voice.
Daniel's money was about at an end. The new sources on which he had hoped to be able to draw were nowhere to be discovered. He defiantly closed the doors against care; and when fear showed its gloomy face, he shut up shop, and went out to drown his sorrows with the brethren of the Vale of Tears.
Schwalbe, the sculptor, had made the acquaintance of Zingarella, then engaged in singing lascivious couplets at the Academy, and invited the fellows to join him.
The Academy was a theatre of the lowest description. Smoking was, of course, permitted. When they arrived the performance was over. People were still sitting at many of the tables. Reeking as the auditorium was with the stench of stale beer, it left the impression of a dark, dank cavern.
With an indifference that seemed to argue that Zingarella made no distinction between chairs and people, she took her seat between the sculptor and the writer. She laughed, and yet it was not laughter; she spoke, and her words were empty; she stretched out her hands, and the gesture was lifeless. She fixed her eyes on no one; she merely gazed about. She had a habit of shaking her bracelet in a way that aroused sympathy. And after making a lewd remark she would turn her head to one side, and thereby stagger even the most hardened frequenter of this sort of places. Her complexion had been ruined by rouge, but underneath the skin there was something that glimmered like water under thin ice.
The former winsomeness of her lips was still traceable in the sorrowed curves of her now ravaged mouth.
At times her restless eyes, seeking whom they might entangle, were fixed on Daniel, then sitting quite alone at the lower end of the table. In order to avoid the unpleasant sensation associated with the thought of going up to such a distinguished-looking person and making herself known to him, she would have been grateful had some one picked her up and thrown her bodily at his feet. There was an element of strangeness about him. Zingarella saw that he had had nothing to do with women of her kind. This tortured her; she gnashed her teeth.
Daniel did not sense her hatred. As he looked into her face, marked with a life of transgression and already claimed by fate, he built up in his own soul a picture of inimitable chastity. He tried to see the playmate of a god. The curtain decorated with the distorted face of a harlequin, the acrobat and the dog trainer at the adjacent table, who were quarrelling over their money, the four half-grown gamblers directly behind him, the big fat woman who was lying stretched out on a bench with a red handkerchief over her face and trying to sleep, the writer who slandered other writers, the inventor who discoursed so volubly and incessantly on perpetual motion—to all of this he paid not the slightest bit of attention. For him it could just as well have been in the bottom of the sea. He got up and left.
But as he saw the snow-covered streets before him and was unable to decide whether he should go home or not, Zingarella stepped up to him. "Come, be quick, before they see that we are together," she whispered. And thus they walked along like two fugitives, whose information concerning each other stops short with the certainty that both are poor and wretched and are making their way through a snow storm.
"What is your name?" asked Daniel.
"My name is Anna Siebert."
The clock in the St. Lorenz Church struck three. The one up in the tower of St. Sebaldus corroborated this reckoning by also striking three and in much deeper tones.
They came to an old house, and after floundering through a long, dark, ill-smelling passage way, entered a room in the basement. Anna Siebert lighted a lamp that had a red chimney. Gaudy garments of the soubrette hung on the wall. A big, grey cat lay on the table cover and purred. Anna Siebert took the cat in her arms and caressed it. Its name was Zephyr. It accompanied her wherever she went.
Daniel threw himself on a chair and looked at the lamp. Zingarella, standing before the mirror, stroked the cat. Gazing distractedly into space, she remarked that the manager had discharged her because the public was no longer satisfied with her work.
"Is this what you call the public?" asked Daniel, who never once took his eyes from the lamp, just as Anna Siebert kept hers rigidly fixed on the desolate distances of the mirror. "These fathers of families who side-step every now and then, these counter-jumpers, the mere looks of whom is enough to snatch your clothing from your body, this human filth at the sight of which God must conceal His face in shame—this is what you call the public?"
"Well, however that may be," Anna Siebert continued in a colourless voice, "the manager rushed into my dressing room, threw the contract at my feet, and said I had swindled him. How on earth could I have swindled him? I am no prima donna and my agent had told him so. You can't expect a Patti on twenty marks a week. In Elberfeld I got twenty-five, and a year ago in Zuerich I even drew sixty. Now he comes to me and says he doesn't need to pay me anything. What am I to live off of? And you've got to live, haven't you, Zephyr," said Anna as she picked up the cat, pressed its warm fur to her cheek, and repeated, "You've got to live."
She let her arms fall to her sides, the cat sprang on the floor, hunched up its back, wagged its tail, and purred. She then went up to Daniel, fell on her knees, and laid her head on his side. "I have reached the end," she murmured in a scarcely audible voice, "I am at the end of all things."
The snow beat against the window panes. With an expression on his face as though his own thoughts were murdering each other, Daniel looked into the corner from which Zephyr's yellowish eyes were shining. The muscles of his face twitched like a fish on being taken from the hook.
And as he cowered in this fashion, the poor girl pressed against his body, his shoulders lowered, past visions again arose from the depths of the sea. First he heard a ravishing arpeggio in A-flat major and above it, a majestic theme, commanding quiet, as it were, in sixteenth triads. The two blended, in forte, with a powerful chord of sevens. There was a struggling, a separating, a wandering on, and out of the subdued pianissimo there arose and floated in space a gentle voice in E-flat minor. O voice from the sea, O humanity on earth! The eighth note, unpitiable as ever in its elemental power, cut into the bass with the strength that moves and burrows as it advances, until it was caught up by the redeemed voice in E-flat major. And now everything suddenly became real. What had formerly been clouds and dreams, longing and wishing, at last took shape and form and stood before him. Indeed he himself became true, real, and conscious of his existence in a world of actualities.
On his way home he covered his face with his hands, for the windows of the houses gaped at him like the hollow eyes of a demi-monde.
Zingarella could not imagine why the strange man had left. He seemed to be quite indifferent. Her heart beat with numerical accuracy, but there was no strength in the beats. The sole creature through which she was bound to the world was Zephyr.
Night followed night, day followed day. Each was like the preceding. She spoke when people took enough trouble to speak to her. She laughed when they had the incomprehensible desire to hear laughter. To-day she wrapped this dress around her shivering body, to-morrow another. She waited for the time to come when she was to do something definite. She lay in bed and dreaded the darkness; she pondered on the injustice of the world; she thought of her own disgrace, and reflected on the need that surrounded her. It was too much for her to bear.
A man would come, and at daylight he would leave and mingle with the rest of the people on the street. When she awoke she could no longer recall what he looked like. The landlady would bring in soup and meat. Then some one knocked at the door; but she did not open it. She had no desire to find out who it was. Perhaps it was the man who had been with her the night before; perhaps it was another.
She had neither curiosity nor hope. Her soul had dissolved like a piece of salt in water. When she returned home on the third day she found Zephyr lying by the coal-scuttle dead. She knelt down, touched the cold fur, wrinkled her brow, shook her bracelet, and went out.
It was getting along toward night, and the air was heavy with mist. She went first through lighted streets, and then turned into others that were not lighted. She passed through avenues of leafless trees, and walked across silent squares. The snow made walking difficult. When it was too deep, she was obliged to stop every now and then and take a deep breath.
She reached the river at a point where the shore was quite flat and the water shallow. Without thinking for a moment, without a moment's hesitation, just as if she were blind, or as if she saw a bridge where there was none, she walked in.
First she felt the water trickling into her shoes. Then she could feel her legs getting wet, as her clothes, soft, slippery, and ice-cold, clung to her body. Now her breast was under the water, and now her neck. She sank down, glided away, took one deep breath, smiled, and as she smiled she lost consciousness.
The next day her body was washed up on the shore some distance beyond the city. It was taken to the morgue of the Rochus Cemetery.
Schwalbe, the sculptor, was attending a funeral. His nephew had died, and was being buried in the same cemetery.
As he passed by the morgue he caught sight of the body of a girl. After the child had been buried he went back to the morgue. A few people were standing near the body, one of whom said, "She was a singer down at the Academy."
Schwalbe was struck by the pure and beautiful expression on the girl's face. He studied it long and with no little emotion. Then he went to the superintendent, and asked if he might take a death mask. The permission was given him, and in a few hours he returned with the necessary implements.
When he removed the mask from the face, he held something truly wonderful in his hands. It showed the features of a sixteen-year-old girl, a face full at once of sweetness and melancholy, and, most charming of all, an angelic smile on the curved lips of this mouth of sorrow. It resembled the work of a renowned artist, so much so that the sculptor was suddenly seized with a burning desire to regain his lost art.
He was nevertheless obliged within a week to sell the mask to the caster by whom he was employed in Pfannenschmied Street. Schwalbe needed ready money. The caster hung the mask by the door at the entrance to his shop.
At the end of December Daniel found himself with not a cent of cash, so that he was obliged to sell his sole remaining treasure, the score of the Bach mass in B-minor. Spindler had presented it to him when he left, and now he had to take it to the second-hand dealer and part with it for a mere pittance.
Unless he cared to lie in bed the whole day, he was obliged to walk the streets in order to keep warm. His poverty made it out of the question for him to go to any of the cafes, and so he was excluded from association with the brethren of the Vale of Tears. He had moreover taken a violent dislike to them.
One evening he was standing out in front of the Church of AEgydius, listening to the organ that some one was playing. The icy wind blew through his thin clothing. When the concert was over he went down to the square, and leaned up against the wall of one of the houses. He was tremendously lonesome; he was lonely beyond words.
Just then two men came along who wished to enter the very house against the wall of which he leaned. He was cold. One of these men was Benjamin Dorn, the other was Jordan. Benjamin Dorn spoke to him; Jordan stood by in silence, apparently quite appreciative of the condition in which the young man found himself, as he stood there in the cold and made unfriendly replies to the questions that were put to him. Jordan invited Daniel up to his room. Daniel, chilled to the very marrow of his bones, and able to visualise nothing but a warm stove, accepted the invitation.
Thus Daniel came in contact with Jordan's family. He had three children: Gertrude, aged nineteen, Eleanore, aged sixteen, and Benno, fifteen years old and still a student at the gymnasium. His wife was dead.