Feeds:
Posts
Comments

a NEW BEGINNING

I’m just making this new again

Source: Guccifer 2.0 NGP/VAN Metadata Analysis

Chapter Four

“Confused soul from Golgotha

Satan is Good,

Héloise is there!”

-G. Carducci,

Hymn to Satan

Teresa knelt on a little confessional footstool; her forehead lay in her folded hands. Her eyes were shut tight; she did not see the old priest who sat in his armchair before her. And she was telling him—Her words came in a quiet steady calm without a pause, without resonance.

How patiently the old man listened, without interrupting her. His eyes wandered around the walls of his room, and clung finally to a small gold framed picture which represented, clumsily but colorfully enough, his native Val di Scodra. He saw the round lake deep in the valley, and saw the brown roofs that clung to the green of the slope like patches of rusty moss. He sighed. How long ago it had been since he had climbed around there with his yellow goat! And now this German had settled down there—this German whom he himself had sent there, and who had now taken his poor little penitent, and—

Teresa fell silent. Slowly she raised her head and looked at him—helplessly, deeply questioning. The old man saw her eyes, so large and blue, gleam under her lashes. Wasn’t she a German too? He thought of her mother: a teacher’s child, one of seventeen. She was probably happy enough when Raimondi, a sergeant-major of the Imperial Rifles, asked for her hand. But then, immediately after their marriage, his parents died; he asked for his discharge and moved with his young wife to Val di Scodra. Wasn’t it truly a grave which he had brought her into? She was alone, didn’t have a soul with whom she could really communicate—not one. It had not been the language, however, which cut her off from the folk of the valley, she learned that quickly enough. It was her bit of education, tiny as it was, which nevertheless separated her so thoroughly from these mere beasts of the mountains, made her seem a stranger, an interloper, whom they all hated.

Nothing remained but to help her little daughter Teresa. She dedicated fourteen years of her life to her—a life passed quietly and humbly, in a constant, melancholy yearning that no longer knew any hope. She lost her bloom swiftly and faded, and that which died many years later was only a pitiable shadow of the beautiful Mary of Brixen.

The minutes passed. He did not answer his penitent; he didn’t know what to say. What was the girl’s sin? To be sure—certainly—it was a sin. But which sin? Where did it come from? And how was he to grasp it? Again her lips moved. Her words came with infinite softness; he scarcely heard them, rather read them upon her lips:

“Your Reverence—is it true—did the Madonna send him?”

He was frightened; a light sweat came upon his forehead.

And he brooded again, “What was her sin?”

Then, swiftly, and without apparent motivation he asked a question:

“Does he often go to the American?”

“No,” said the girl.

The priest was astonished.

“No?” he repeated. “Has he never been there?”

“Oh, yes,” she answered.

“Tell me everything you know about him,” he demanded.

She spoke in her docile way:

“He went there once, in the evening; he entered the hall exactly at seven o’clock. I know it precisely, I saw him go in, for I happened to be standing by the window and looking out—”

She turned red and interrupted herself.

“No, your Reverence, no—forgive me—it didn’t just happen. When he goes out, something compels me to my room and to the window. I stand there and look after him. I watch to see where he goes, how he wanders now here and now there in the valley.”

Her head drooped, her eyes remained dry, but her voice was full of tears.

“Go on!” the priest urged her.

Teresa said, “He was there scarcely an hour. Then he came back for supper. He told Father where he had been. And he said that they were all blockheads, these devil hunters, and that Father and Angelo, our man, were the only sensible people in the village, because they did not join in this mischief. That is all.”

The old man drew a deep breath. He felt as if a heavy burden had been lifted from him, as if he had been liberated from a great fear. He did not know what he feared; but this dull oppression that had tormented him for weeks now suddenly seemed gone. It seemed to him as if the evil that remained was only slight compared to the other, the unknown, which he had escaped. And he did not know yet what he was to tell the girl. Seeking for that, he began to talk to her again, and questioned her regarding all of the stranger’s doings. Patiently she answered him.

“He works all day long, and often late into the night. Then he goes for a walk. At times, too, he rows on the lake.”

The old man asked, “Does he go fishing?”

Then she said, “No, he does not go fishing. He is kind to all animals. But he torments human beings—”

She stopped, but the priest beckoned her to continue.

“When he sees a caterpillar in the road he picks it up and carries it into the grass so that no foot may crush it. He scolded me because I brushed a cobweb from his window, and he feeds the hens and the doves with his own bread. All our animals follow him; the big goat climbs the stairs and goes into his room, together with our tom-cat.”

The old man smiled. He saw the face of the blond German, so young, so happy and laughing.

“He is only a big child, after all,” he thought.

The girl said, “But he beats people. Once, when Angelo harnessed the mule he saw that the straps were too tight and that the leather had irritated the animal’s sore skin. Then a rage came upon him, he tore the straps off and lashed them across the man’s face.”

“He did right,” said the priest.

The girl raised her eyes; this slight assent strengthened her, filled her with a happy and silent assurance. Then, doubting again, she let her head sink.

“And he struck me, too,” she murmured.

“You, too?” the priest asked swiftly.

“Yes,” she said in a toneless voice. “Otherwise he does not notice me at all, scarcely sees me, and doesn’t even know when I am present. But one morning, when he was at breakfast, I came into the guest room. I had caught a mouse in the trap; I took it out and threw it to the tom-cat. Then he jumped up and struck me in the face. Then he forced the tomcat to release the mouse and let it escape.”

The old man asked, “And what did you do?”

She looked at him in astonishment. “I?—Nothing. He cried out and scolded me. He said if there were mice around, the cat might catch as many as it chose, that was its business. And, if I were to catch any in the trap, I might drown them, or beat them to death. But I was not to torment animals needlessly. He asked me whether I understood. And since I gave no answer, he grasped my hands and pressed them together until I thought my bones would break. I was determined not to cry out, but I sank down on my knees before him. He would not desist until I promised him never again to give a mouse to the cat.”

“And have you kept the promise?” asked the old man.

“Yes,” said the girl quickly. “I had to swear it by the Madonna.”

She stopped again, seeking for words. After a while she continued:

“Then he let me go and I went out. But I heard how he talked to himself—as he often does, your Reverence. And then he said something strange, something that I did not understand. And it was as if he said it to me, although I was no longer in the room.

He said softly, ‘You may torture, but not needlessly. To torture is well. It is an art—perhaps the greatest of them all. But men are like beasts of the field: they torture without knowing it.’

That’s what he said.”

She fell silent; her eyes sought an answer. But the old priest did not speak. Again he saw the stranger’s face, but this time it had an immobile expression which fascinated and frightened him.

She rose and approached him.

“What am I to do?” she asked.

But the old man shook his head.

“I don’t know,” he murmured.

Then she threw herself on her knees at his feet and pillowed her head upon his lap. She sobbed and he felt her tears moistening his robe. He wanted to help her and didn’t know how. Silently he laid his hand upon her head and gently stroked her locks. Suddenly she arose and grasped his hand. Her breath flew and he felt the passionate pressure of her fingers.

“Your Reverence,” she cried, “is it true?—did the Madonna send him?”

And in her eyes there gleamed her wish and her longing and an ardent beseeching for his “Yes.”

He felt it clearly. And he saw in her eyes the stranger’s third image: that of a youth, aglow with dreams, ready to scale all peaks. And he knew that this image filled her whole soul. Almost by force the word she wanted seemed about to be wrung from his lips. But he mastered himself, turned his eyes away and said:

“I don’t know.”

He heard her deep sigh and her pain stabbed him as if it were his own. Her fingers relaxed for a moment, only to cling once more to his own in a convulsive grasp.

“Your Reverence,” she stammered, “Your Reverence! Or else—else—”

She broke off, but he understood her question well. What power had sent this stranger? The Madonna—or—? And helplessly, as barren of counsel as the girl herself, he answered once again:

“I don’t know.”

She broke down completely and fell across his knees. A sobbing came upon her and shook her poor body; it seemed to the priest as if she would break to pieces there at his feet. An infinite compassion came over him; he took her head and drew her up.

“Do you love him so much?” he asked kindly.

Then she breathed:

“Yes, Father, more than my life.”

He kissed her forehead gently.

“Then go, my child, take your fate upon you. It is the hand of God.”

She looked at him gratefully, incapable of uttering a word. Then she covered his hands with tears and fervent kisses.

Ch3-C Confession

Then he asked whether anyone in the assembly desired “to express his soul.” A sturdy farmhand with a huge red goiter came forward and “expressed his soul.” He related, stammering, that he had formerly been a frightful drunkard, that he had had only one thought, namely, wine. He had been drunk at least four times a week, and twice on Sunday. He fairly reveled in the recollections of that sinful time, exaggerated fearfully, painting himself as black as possible, in order to radiate a now whiter innocence. For now the Lord Jesus had illumined him with His grace, so that he now abominated drunkenness as the most horrible of vices, and found his sole happiness in aspirations toward the Lamb and toward the Blood of the Savior.

“I was as black as the devil in hell,” he grunted, “but now I am clean through the grace of the Redeemer. God has guarded me from every sin for three months, and will continue to do so. In other days I was full of wine; today I am full of the Holy Ghost!”

The huge fellow turned his eyes to heaven, his voice sounded clucking and hoarse and the large goiter expanded and swung to and fro. Frank Braun could not suppress a short laugh; for a moment the glances of the assembly turned toward him. But immediately thereafter the voices arose again in a fervent prayer to the Son of God. He made the observation that here, as with all fanatical sects, Jesus played the largest and almost the only part. From the minds of even these intensely Catholic hill peasants the saints seemed to have vanished, and the Holy Virgin herself was scarcely mentioned. All the songs and prayers were taken from the Catholic prayer book of the diocese of Trent, and except for the brief sermons and public confessions the American had imported no new element into the old home.

Congregational singing and prayer, a brief exhortation, then a confession—these followed each other with dull monotony. Somewhat disappointed and very much bored, Frank Braun left the hall as the assembly raised its voice for the fourth time in the fasting song. He thought that Don Vincenzo was probably right, and that these people would soon have quite enough of this mischievous nonsense. This American was hardly cut from the same wood as Father Vincenzo of Padua!

Frank Braun sat at his work. Days passed and weeks; he saw nothing, heard nothing. Sometimes he glanced through the window at the lake, and then had to remind himself where he really was. He now scarcely noticed that the girl avoided him, he talked to her as to any stranger, and only used her, like her father or Angelo, the farmhand, when he desired some service. The sheets grew into a pile.

This is how he wanted to begin:

First to shatter all that is, to destroy the very foundations. And then, on this open field, to build a new temple. Assured of victory he hurled forth his denials. In large letters he wrote the superscription to a certain chapter: “The Latin Peoples”.

In the very first sentence he cried out that the term was mere sound and fury, a ridiculous soap bubble, which burst in the air. He took up the various countries. The Pyrenean Peninsula:

A certain people had once inhabited it. Iberians? What did the name matter? Roman armies carried their language there—Roman armies that came from all the ends of the earth and were scarcely for a tenth part of Italic origin. The conquered took on the language of their conquerors. That was all. And there was a racial blending of trifling unimportance.

Then came the Goths; this time the conquerors took on the language of the conquered. And again came the Moors and Berbers and Jews from the south, Franks from the north. To the west, however, came mixed folk from all the islands and coasts to Lusitania, new mixtures again and again. Only the language remained—the language of Rome. It conquered all the conquerors.

And why did Latin take the land by storm and hold it firmly against the centuries long rule of lords, of strange idioms? Because the land had had no language before the Romans came. No common tongue—only a hundred small languages.

Exactly in the same way that the United States became English, that Mexico and the whole of South America submitted to the Spanish influence; they were a thousand tribes and all hostile to one another, a thousand languages and all strangers.

Frank Braun laid down his pen and laughed. Once, somewhere in the Bolivian Chaco, he had met a powerful anteater. The fellow stood in a clearing, erect, on a tall white ant-hill. He looked around about him, curiously, silent and without fear, then he dug in the loose sand with his front paws. It was as if he wanted to invite him to partake of this delicious meal. Swarming by the many thousands the frightened ants ran around, and then the ant-eater protruded his long, pointed, wormlike tongue, and rolled it like a sticky snake among the fleeing insects.

“That is the Spanish tongue!” thought Frank Braun. “At one gulp it devours a hundred Indians.”

“Damn Dago!” he had cried, and sent a bullet through the beast’s head.

At the time he had hated the Spaniards. And that was how the language of Rome devoured the hundred languages of the Peninsula; only one survived, the Basque tongue of the northern mountains. And how long would it persist?—Rome’s language took root, tough and steadfast against all conquerors. To be sure, it split, was shredded and mixed; so that today the Castilian didn’t understand a word of what the Catalan said; and the Gallego fell into dull silence when the Andalusian spoke to him.

Nevertheless, Rome’s language conquered. But where were the Latin folk now? There was a people in its land who had absorbed only a little drop of Latin blood. Even as later they absorbed that much more of the Gothic and Moorish and Jewish blood. And all of those admixtures had long since sweated it out again; and the ancient folk remained, conquered and conquering, always the same. What nonsense to call them Latin!

And France—in all respects didn’t it show an analogous picture? Gaul, once conquered, accepted the language of Rome and then imposed the same language upon the conquering Goths, Burgundians, Franks and Normans. It derived its language from the conqueror, its name from the others—and yet it remained what it was.

There was Romania, the land that had both the name and the language of Rome. And yet its people had only the tiniest drop of Roman blood, less than any of the others, they had the blood of criminals, which, in the second century, the emperor Trajan had transferred to the Danube.

There remained Italy, the motherland. Greeks in the south, Gauls in the north: in between was Latium and Rome, then, the innumerable slaves from all lands and zones, and finally the Goths and Vandals, Langobards, Normans and Saracens, and always, again and again, through all the centuries, new yellow haired hordes from across the Alps. Rome’s language subdued a hundred conquerors.

But what had the language to do with the race? Less than nothing! Were the Negroes of Haiti Latin because they spoke French, or the Indians of Mexico and Brazil because they spoke Spanish and Portuguese? Or the black drones of the United States Germanic because they chattered English?

Language was one thing and race was another. They had nothing in common! Therefore, all deductions concerning the perception of racial individuality that were based on language must necessarily be false. How good it was, he reflected, that history in the south was a trifle older. It was scarcely more than two or three wretched millennia, but old enough to utterly shatter the fable of the Latin peoples. Otherwise the folly concerning the oneness of the Latin as of the Slavic and Germanic races might persist eternally, merely because the oneness of the language was a fact.

How easy it was to blow asunder the so called Latin world, and how difficult the process was when applied to the Germanic and Slavic peoples, merely because the historical record was lacking.

Here one had scarcely any points of departure, merely tiny wedges, into the rough blocks of thick skulled hypotheses. There were the Bulgars, Ugro-Finns, who made their way into the valley of the Danube. There they mixed with the Slavic speaking people and gave the land the name of the conqueror, while they themselves assumed the language of the conquered, racial brothers of the Magyars. Yet the latter, like the Bulgars, were blended with the conquered, submerged in their folk ways; but they imposed on the conquered land both their name and their language.

He lost his way, seeking with difficulty the scattered fragments of races. In this way he took the Kutzo-Wallachians by the Pindus range, the Zinzars in Thessaly—most certainly related in race to the Mordwin-Finnish of Kazan, and yet Latin in their language, and the Laps and Kwans of Scandinavia, who spoke Swedish or Finnish and were yet neither Ugrian nor Germanic. Then the Turkish Kumanians in Hungary, and the strange Permians and Syrjanians in Vologda and Archangel.

Then he found his way back. He laid this new lance at rest, and tilted against language with a flying banner. It amused him to write a long page, in which each sentence was in another tongue. Am I now a Russian? He laughed, and now a Spaniard, and now a Highland Gael and now a Guarani Indian? He took up his arrows wherever he could find them. He forged sharp points out of a hundred trifles which he had gathered up by the wayside.

For instance, he had known a kindly college professor in Saxony. The man gave instruction in German and with sincere feeling recited the odes of Klopstock to his boys. Then, by some chance, he was transferred to a remote little town in East Prussia. His work left him a great deal of leisure and so, one fine day, he began to study Masurian. No human being today knew a single word of this language, but he asserted that the Masurians ought to know their mother tongue, and that it was, in truth, the finest language in the world. He translated Schiller, Klopstock, Ramler, Eichendorif and all the patriotic poets into Masurian.

And he really succeeded in founding a tiny political party; he ran on the ticket as the Masurian candidate and received several dozen votes. He discovered, somehow, a Masurian among the ancestors of Schiller, and, of course, among his own: as things are now he will know neither peace nor rest until all the land from the Elbe to the Dwina is Masurian. Once upon a time he was a German: now he is a Masurian, because he alone in the entire world can speak that ancient tongue. Language! That was the lion’s skin of all asses!

Frank Braun thought of Herr Friedrich Wilhelm Bandmann, who was a frame maker and dwelt in his native city next to the home of his parents. He was a bachelor and a mighty patriot, even more than the college professor; he swore by Bismarck and everything the latter did. Then, when Bismarck was deposed, his blood boiled: he sold his house and his business, got drunk one last time at the veteran’s club, and bidding a tearful farewell to all his comrades, went to America. The steamer landed at Hoboken, and since Herr Bandmann didn’t know a single word of English, he remained in this German city and crossed the river to New York just one single time, with a safe companion. He remained there two hours and a half. But he didn’t like New York any better than Hoboken: therefore he returned to Germany by the next steamer. He had been away for three weeks.

Frank Braun had met him on the street and said:

“Well, Herr Bandmann, so you are back in Germany again?”

Then Herr Bandmann looked at him with astonishment and a sense of injury in his eyes, and asked:

“Shpeak you English?”

He had become an American.

And Frank Braun wrote:

“My parrot speaks just as good of German as a preacher. He is undoubtedly of Germanic blood.”

And he laughed happily because the wounds of love hurt him far, far more than the others.  Then he took a bath and dressed. And only when on the terrace did the question come to him, how would the girl greet him and with what feelings had the new day brought her? He went into the guestroom; the landlord came and brought his breakfast. The man seemed ill humored, and at once handed him the bill for last night’s wine.

“You take no chances!” Frank Braun raised his voice to be heard.

“Oh, well,” the old man said, “better to be on the safe side.”

He gathered up the money, counted it carefully and went out. The girl did not come. He breakfasted, and then went into the garden.

“Perhaps she’s on the lake,” he thought.

But no boat was to be seen anywhere. He took a walk and came back to dinner. Again the old man waited on him, morose as ever.

“Could she possibly have told him something?” he reflected.

But he could not force himself to ask. He did ask about the guard, however.

“He rode away hours ago,” growled the landlord. “He rode away in terrible misery. He was feeling more wretched even than I am.”

“How about my helmet?” Frank Braun asked.

“Oh, yes,” Raimondi nodded. “I was to give you his message. He took it along because of course he couldn’t ride without a helmet. But he’s going to buy a new one, he says, and he’ll bring the old one back when he comes here again.”

The German nodded.

“Yes!—and where is—”

But he did not finish the sentence. She must be around somewhere; he would succeed in finding her. In the afternoon he went to his room, straightened out his books, and arranged everything for his work. He gnawed at his pen holder, but he was in no mood to begin. Then he got up and went into her room. She was not there. So he went out, wandered through the narrow valley, up and down—hastily, nervously, impatiently. At supper the landlord again brought in the dishes. He couldn’t wait any longer, so he asked quickly:

“Well, isn’t your daughter here?”

The old man sat down beside him. His wretchedness seemed to have vanished and with it his ill humor.

“Teresa—?” he said quietly. “She has gone into town.”

Frank Braun nodded. He was glad to be rid of the unpleasant thought that perhaps she had betrayed something to her father. This had tormented him, although he had not believed it for a moment.

“To the city?” he repeated.

“Yes,” said the old man. “She wanted to see her father confessor.”

Her father confessor! So she wanted to confess! He laughed. What a face Don Vincenzo would make when he heard of the curious effect of his warning letter. Yet the situation did not give him a feeling that was entirely happy.

Raimondi filled his pipe.

“I sent a letter with her too. I wanted to thank him for having sent you here.”

Again Frank Braun laughed; he had a keen sense of the ironic comedy of the situation. What in the world would the old priest answer?

“When did she leave?” he asked.

“When? She left by the stage at eleven o’clock.”

“But the stage didn’t leave today?”

“Oh, yes, today! Yesterday it went to Attola and today returned to the city. That’s the reason Teresa went today; otherwise she would have to wait a whole week.”

“And so she will stay the entire week in the city?” Frank Braun asked.

The landlord shook his head.

“Certainly not,” he said. “She’ll probably stay with her aunt overnight and return on foot tomorrow. What will you drink today, sir?”

“Nothing,” Frank Braun answered.

He got up and went to the door. The landlord looked after him and laid his pipe heavily on the table.

“Nothing? Nothing at all?”

The German turned around. “No, nothing at all, my friend! I am not given to drinking often; I have the impulse once in every few years.”

“Years? Years!”

The landlord got up, grasped his chin with his bony hand and stroked it.

“Sir,” he stammered.

Frank Braun saw that he had something more to say that he found difficult to express. He went up to him.

“Well, then, what is it?”

“Why, sir,” the landlord stammered, “I believed that you would drink a couple of bottles daily—”

“I’m not thinking of such a thing,” the German interrupted him. “And I suppose that is very unpleasant for you?”

The landlord said:

“Yes, since you live here so cheaply—”

“Cheaply?” Frank Braun laughed aloud. “You call your prices cheap? Well, look here, Raimondi, it seems to me that what I pay you for board and lodging is rather considerable.”

“Yes, sir,” said the landlord. “Oh, yes—but then it isn’t only the food and lodging—”

“Isn’t it? Well, what else is there?”

Raimondi hesitated. He spat thoughtfully, filled his pipe again, opened his lips and closed them.

“Sir,” he said. “Sir,—”

“Well, what the devil is it?”

“Well, if I must say it, weren’t you with Teresa last night?”

He watched him greedily from under his lids, as if lying in wait. The German was silent for a moment, hardly knowing just what to say.

“Did the girl tell you anything?” he asked.

Raimondi shook his head with energy.

“No, oh, no, sir, she didn’t say a thing, not a thing! I heard you.”

“Is that so? So you heard me? I thought you were deaf as a post, Raimondi! I have to roar like a drill sergeant to make you understand me. In addition you were drunk last night. You heard nothing, absolutely nothing! It’s all in your imagination.”

But the landlord’s little eyes twinkled and he laughed a hoarse, dry laugh.

“No, oh, no, sir, it wasn’t my imagination. You were with the girl. Teresa screamed—how she screamed! That woke me up and I went upstairs. The door was open; the light was burning in the lamp. I saw you in her bed, I saw both of you.”

Frank Braun grasped him by the arm.

“And then, Raimondi, then you went calmly down again?”

The landlord nodded eagerly.

“Yes, sir, certainly! And you must pardon me; I wouldn’t have said a word if—if—”

The German laughed bitterly.

“If I were a more profitable guest, eh? Yes, if I were to drink a couple of bottles of wine daily? Is that it?”

“Sir,” said the landlord, “sir—”

But Frank Braun interrupted him sharply.

“Be silent, Raimondi!” he cried. “Nothing else you have to say interests me. Naturally you must not lose a proper profit. Since I don’t drink, I must make it up to you in other ways.”

He put his hand in his pocket and drew out several bills.

“Here,” he said. “Count them.”

He threw the bills on the table and went out. He read for hours before going to bed. Once again he went to the window and looked out. Wasn’t she coming? But the valley slept.

“So she is mine three times over!” he murmured. “First I took her by force; then she gave herself to me; and finally her father sold her to me.”

When he came down the next morning Teresa brought him his breakfast. He greeted her joyfully and grasped her arm. But she eluded him swiftly, said “Good day” softly and hurried out. He jumped up, followed her, but ran straight into her father at the door.

“So Teresa is back again?” he asked.

“Yes, for just an hour,” said the old man. “She didn’t see the priest.”

Frank Braun asked, “She didn’t see him?”

“No, he is on an inspection trip. So she left my letter and returned again at once.”

“So she walked the whole night long?”

The landlord nodded:

“Oh, yes, the whole night.”

Frank Braun breakfasted very slowly. He hoped that Teresa would come back into the room, but she did not come. Later he met her in the garden; she went away as he approached her. He tried several times, on this day and on the following days, to speak with her. She avoided him, almost hid herself from him. Once he tried to enter her room at night, but he found the door locked.

“Let her be,” he thought.

He still desired her, but only superficially, half consciously, and at moments. Usually he forgot her. His thoughts were on his work. He sat over his books until late into the night, arranged his tracts and tables, gathered the notes and excerpts that he had made during the years. He measured and weighed, made a plan and rejected it; then formed a new plan. And he saw his work grow, take on form and substance, become plastic and concretely visible. Laughing, he called it his mastodon, now that he held Cuvier’s bone in his hand.

Once he went to Mr. Peter’s barn. The distant music never disturbed him. He only needed to place his ear plugs in his ears. So he had almost forgotten the American’s activity as he had Teresa’s love. Once on a walk he passed there, just as they were intoning a song within. He entered, stood far back by the door and listened. They sang the fasting song:

Bid me all thy songs to sing,

My compassion’s offering bring

Lamb of God from blemish free

That took all my sins away from me!

Let thy sorrow bear a part

Deep in every Christian’s heart,

Let Thy dying agony

A solace in my heart to be!

They sang all seven stanzas, most of them from memory, only a few glanced at the hymnal. Frank Braun looked around him in the old barn. It was an immense place, with three walls of stone; only the front wall was made of planks. The transformation of the barn into a hall had been effected merely by breaking out the wooden ceiling which, exactly in the middle, had divided the barn into two stories, and by using these boards to hide the rough inner gable of the roof. In addition a window had been placed in a side wall which admitted a little air and light into the room. No real ecclesiastical decorations were to be seen anywhere; only against the rear wall hung a rather large crucifix.

The penitential meeting followed, in a general way, the services of the Salvation Army. They sang and prayed passionately; after which the American, whose face Frank Braun could scarcely discern in the artificial twilight, preached penitence and fighting mightily against the devil, the father of all sins. Now and then he mixed with his speech some fine phrase in monstrous English, which had obviously clung to his memory from his experience in Pennsylvania. He urged his followers to practice penitence and closed with a warm prayer.

Ch3A- Rape

Chapter Three

Innocence what is innocence?

Where lust is Lord,

innocence is a light matter.

-Cicero

The time for pleasure is past,

its speeding has cheated me of my

desires,they are gone.

-Evariste de Parny: Delire

Frank Braun awoke very late. He looked around him, a little confused, not sure at once where he was. Then he jumped up and went to the window.

“Well then—so it’s Val di Scodra,” he said.

He thought back, but hardly knew exactly what he was seeking. His head did not ache; he felt light and fresh. Only a weariness lay in him, a pleasantly murmuring fatigue that slumbered in all his limbs. He laughed. Oh, yes, he had been drinking, as in the old days. And he had lifted his voice in song, a hundred songs and a hundred glasses. He had sung and he had drunk, but with whom? There was Peppino Raimondi, the landlord—and Herr Aloys Drenker, the fat border guard. True, and he had drunk the latter under the table.

And then? What had happened then? He sat up on the edge of the bed recalling it all. Yes, that was it: he had found his goal. A faith had come to him. His glance passed almost caressingly over the table, which was stacked high with books and papers. Ah, now it would no longer be like work; now it would be mere child’s play.

And he laughed:

“The wine gave me all that as a gift. Of what use is thought? The wise men have visions; then they understand.”

His eyes rested on his garments; they lay confused and scattered on the floor. That was hardly his way—had he been that completely drunk? Yet even so—? He picked up his coat; doing so, he saw his hands. Long scratches ran diagonally across them. He went to the mirror: his face showed little wounds and tears all over. Coagulated blood clung to the edges. What was that? He closed his eyes, passed his hand across his forehead. But he was not seeking in his memory, no; he almost fought against these thoughts. Then he shook his head; his lips were tight pressed; they drooped with an expression of harsh resignation, as from a feeling of intensely conscious suffering.

“It is useless,” he said. “I can’t even forget.”

He went around the room, gathered his garments, and laid them across the bed. He strode up and down with long, firm steps.

“Very well then,” he continued. “One must bring order out of all this chaos.”

He noticed that he was speaking out loud and laughed at himself.

“Yes, yes, like all people who are alone a lot!”

He stood for a moment, and then walked again. He drank a glass of water and lit a cigarette. He exhaled the smoke vigorously; then he cried out loud and sharply as if lashing himself:

“Let’s get this over with! This is what happened.”

And he broke away stone after stone from the quarries of his recollection. This is how it had begun:

He saw that glimmer of light from the third window. A faint, thin gleam; and a spark crept toward him as if on a long fuse. He saw it coming, felt it speeding closer and closer, swifter and swifter. But he was not afraid; it seemed as if this mine in his breast was awaiting the kiss of that fire with greedy rapture. Body and soul, both were full to the brim—let the lightning strike! He ran to the house and leaped up the stone steps. He glanced into the guestroom and saw the guard lying on his face on the floor, grasping his helmet tightly with both hands.

“So you won’t give it up?” he laughed.

But he flew up the stairs as if fate were driving him. Yes, it was true, what he had thought upon entering his room:

“It is fate.”

He stripped off his clothes; in a moment he was in his pajamas. And out—a strong blast of wind pushed his breath back into his face, heavy, rank, alcoholic breath. He turned back. His blood still boiled, yet in that moment it was restrained by childhood training.

“I am no animal,” he whispered.

He went into his bedroom, stepped up to the wash basin. He mixed his mouth wash, gargled and spit, then brushed his teeth. He washed himself and slowly went back out.  He hesitated before her door, almost afraid. He listened, but heard nothing. Then, swiftly, he turned the knob and entered. He saw the picture of the Mother of God with the box tree twigs in the frame; he noticed that three blue anemones had been added. He saw the little holy water basin on the right, and on the left, close by the window, the perpetual lamp. The faint light fell on the girl’s bed.

She was wide awake; her large open eyes stared at him. Her face seemed pale and her lips trembled. She didn’t speak a word.  Her blue eyes turned beseechingly to the Mother of God. Her fingers were tightly intertwined. Yes, she was praying. He followed her look. He passed swiftly between her and the Virgin.

“The Madonna sent me!” he said passionately.

He stretched out his hand, grasped her nightgown, and tore it from her shoulders in long shreds. Her white flesh lay before his eyes like the foam of the sea; panting, he repeated:

“The Madonna sent me.”

She screamed loudly as he threw himself upon her. She jumped up and pushed him back. He felt her fist in his face, felt her nails dig into his flesh. He grabbed her around the hips, pushed her back, and forced her head down with his right hand. Then somehow his fingers were between her teeth. He screamed out loud and bit his tongue from the pain. Then he grabbed her braids and twisted them in his other hand, forcing her head deep into the pillows—her teeth let go of his fingers. His right hand tightened around her throat while his left twisted her hand, pushing it up high toward her shoulder.  That’s how he took her.

She did not close her eyes and did not weep. Motionless she lay in her pain, looking at him as if he were a horrible, fearful spirit from which there was no escape. And her gaze rested on the hand that imprisoned her arm—that horrible, pitiless, fearful hand.

She lay motionless beneath him—no tears, no complaint came from her lips. But then the sudden strength of his wild fists flowed into his soul. Then passion was reborn in him in a full and pure harmony. He spoke, and his voice was soft and restrained, like distant music. His words sounded strangely alluring in her ears. He knew very well that she was compelled to listen to him. All the tender words that he had ever said to beautiful women became alive now, flowed from his lips; all those and many more—fairer and stranger. He found sounds that intoxicated himself, ingratiating sounds that sang like harps. His words fell like the sweet rain of summer and cooled and covered her naked, tormented body.

Then she wept. But he took her in his arms, carefully, tenderly, as if she were a child. His fingers glided over her cheeks, like the fragrance of acacia blossoms. And his breath played about her temples, trembled in her hair, like the fumes of a holy censer.

“The Madonna wills it,” he whispered.

She turned and looked at him. And it seemed to her that this was an entirely different man from the one who had just— this one she did not know—not he. A great astonishment lay in her silent glance. Only a moment ago . . .

No, she knew no longer what had happened a moment ago. She was lying in the arms of this man, of no other. And gently, involuntarily, her fingers pressed his arm. She was frightened, and withdrew her hand swiftly. But he was not silent. His tongue spoke and his eyes and his hands. He wove the net, mesh by mesh, and ensnared her soul with exquisite words of love. She closed her eyes, and permitted him to kiss her lids. His arms entwined her body more tightly: she felt his pulses hammer against her flesh. A great warmth went out from him and engulfed her. His love enveloped her like a caressing bath. And she did not resist when he sought her lips. Now everything seemed like a dream—and she yielded utterly.

And he felt how a life grew in his arms. The girl in her was dead—and from the hard chrysalis the butterfly gently arose. And he tasted the rapture of this victory to the fullest: how the woman in her had awakened. She was not ashamed of her caresses. She didn’t speak a word, but gave him an entire life of love. A fever seized her and the teeth that had torn his fingers in anger and hatred now bit his lip, bit into his shoulder, insatiable in sudden desire.

She pressed her breasts into his hands, threw her head back and offered him her body. She grasped his hair with both hands, pulled him down to her and greedily drank his hot kisses.

Once she lifted herself half up, “Take me!” She cried. “The Madonna sent you!”

Then she threw herself upon him, red-hot, passionately murmuring, smothering him with kisses and embraces.

And she took his hands, they appeared good and beautiful. They were the hands of the man that she loved. She searched for something that she had once seen in those hands—once—long ago. But she couldn’t find it and didn’t remember what it had been. She kissed his hands.

She couldn’t stay awake and fell asleep. She did not speak, only lay there, breathing hotly, moaning, torn away in this maelstrom of radiant lust.

Later, he awoke. He found her slumbering, breathing softly. Her head rested upon his breast, her arms were entwined around his shoulders. Carefully he loosened her hands, got up softly, without a kiss. He hurried out. He was surprised to find the door still open. And he went over to his room and threw himself upon his bed. He slept at once, dreamlessly, without moving a limb.

That was how it had been. Frank Braun arose, went to the window and gazed upon the sun drenched lake. A feeling of profound satisfaction enfolded him and blended strangely with his pleasant fatigue. He stretched himself, opened his arms wide and laughed happily. These had been victories, three mighty victories.

“I can still drink as of old and find revelations! And I can still love as of old!”

And he was delighted as a boy that he was still master of the three great arts. He took off his pajamas and went to the mirror naked. With a sponge he carefully washed the traces of blood from his face and shoulders, his arms and hands. The song of Edith of the Swan’s Neck occurred to him and he said:

“She saw them on his shoulder

And covered them with her kisses—

Three little scars, reminders of lust,

Where she had once bitten him.”

The landlord arose; groping, holding himself erect with difficulty. He wandered to the cellar—for the eighth time now. He came back and set the bottles on the table. But he himself did not sit down again; silently, without a “good night,” he tottered out of the room. He went over into his own room and one could hear how heavily he dropped onto his bed.

The other two drank on. It seemed as if Frank Braun were only now beginning, he raised his glass with such pleasant ease. They didn’t talk any more—they just drank.

“No-no more now,” murmured the guard.

“Drink, if you’re the kind of fellow I took you for!”

He pressed the full glass into the man’s hand. And the guard emptied it, sipping slowly, belching between draughts. His arm fell, the glass was shattered against the table’s edge; heavily his huge head dropped forward.

Frank Braun laughed. He got up, took his guitar and stepped to the window. Melancholy clouds swam here and there in the sky; from among them the narrow new moon shed a faint light across the lake. Silently he sat for a long time on the window bench. Almost unconsciously he took up the instrument and touched the strings gently. Tones came, and soft chords. And songs grew anew out of the dreamy notes and out of his voice which trembled gently and heavy-heartedly into the stillness of the night.

They were Breton songs, songs born of the sea, born of loneliness and a great longing:

“The cliffs of Paimpol and I,

The old bell tower, my atonement,

I much prefer the cliffs of

Briton waiting for me at home.”

And somewhere a wall of rock gave back to him a whispered echo:

“waiting for me at home.”

The words lay in his ear, insistently, with quiet music like the tone of an old music box. He listened to this melody, as to a silent, hidden truth which slumbers under stones and ivy. Brittany—that was it—Brittany. And the Tyrol—yes . . . And suddenly he understood, quite instinctively. He found the absolute certainty of that after which he had groped for and sought in the doubtful investigations of long years. A great possession came to him at that moment: a firm faith in the last link of a long chain of new ideas.

Yes, quite assuredly now he would be able to work. How difficult this whole matter had been only yesterday. There was tremendous material, brought together with such infinite care from endless journeys and a thousand books, confused, inextricable almost, a huge labyrinth of fantastic hypotheses.

Now he saw the way; now he held the goal in his hand! It seemed like a ball to be tossed up, and then caught again without fail. He was conscious of victory. He would have liked to thank someone for this faith which the moment gave him.

Almost aloud he said:

“There are no Germans. There are no Slavs. There are no Latins. There are no Celts and no Jews. And neither Greeks nor Albanians nor Armenians. That is all nonsense, stupid, trite, historic lies. There are only three races in Europe. The Nordic: long skulled, blond haired, blue eyed—my race; and the Mediterranean race—dwelling on all the shores of that sea; yes, and between these two, the race of the mountains.

And they are all one people—the wild Kurds, and the peoples of the Carpathians and the Baltic peninsula, the mountaineers of the Alps, in the Tyrol and in Salzburg, in Switzerland and in Bavaria. Also the folk of Auvergne, and finally, the last member of this long narrow series: the people of Brittany; short-skulled, small and dark!

Ah, and the Jews, the Jews . . . What a granite pillar for the structure of his theory. A small fraction of them blue eyed and fair—the Nordic race! Heine was one of them. How often, dreaming and reflecting, had he observed the poet’s picture. Some riddle lay there, some strange mystery. But now he held that mystery fast; it was his own race, his own!

Then a far larger part were of Mediterranean blood—Spinoza, Da Costa, Disraeli!

And finally, the great masses: Alpine folk, hill people, ugly and short skulled.

He quite lost himself. He shattered races like shards; with one laughing stroke he obliterated the questions of the millenniums. It all stood out so clearly now before him—so clear and well determined—now that he had this intoxicated faith. How had he come by it at this very moment? How had these old songs come to him from across the sea, songs that he had not sung for many a year? And where did this strange feeling come from that the home of these songs must be here, in the hollows of these mountains no less than in the caverns on the shores of Brittany?

These songs—that were so melancholy, solitary, full of yearning. Like this race of the mountains—fanatic, fantastic, inclined to ecstasy. Oh, yes, Don Vincenzo knew them well, his countrymen!

Frank Braun got up; a chaotic light flickered in his eyes. He stepped to the table, filled a glass to the brim and emptied it. Sighing he put it back.

“Ah, the devil, is there no longer any wine that will make one drunk?”

He drew out a card case and took a small folded paper from it. He unfolded it carefully and shook the contents—a fine white powder—into the wine. And at intervals, testing it carefully with his tongue, he emptied this glassful too. He sat down, closed his eyes, rested his elbows and laid his head in his hands. Slowly, like the pendulum of an old clock, his body swayed to and fro.

Finally he got up, sighing deeply. He went out with dragging steps. For a moment he stood on the steps; then he walked down to the lake. A cool but gentle wind fanned his face. And suddenly, without transition, the clear picture dissolved before his eyes, yielded to a chaotic sea of flaming fog. A hot wave of blood raced through his temples, rising in short, rhythmic beats. It raged through his body, through his legs and arms, to the very tips of his toes and fingers. This glow—this infernal glow—

He expanded his chest, breathed deeply, and stretched out his arms. He turned around without moving from the spot on which he stood. Above, in the third window, he saw a faint glimmer of light.