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Archive for January, 2015

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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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She returned after a little while, spread the table with white linen and set it. Then she served the supper. Frank Braun bade her a good evening, but she barely nodded. Nor did she sit down at the table, but took her seat on a bench at the other window and took out her sewing. He watched her. She was tall, well-grown, and slender—about twenty years old. Her hair, like her father’s, was black; her large eyes were blue—one could see that her mother had been a German. Frank Braun called to her and asked her to give him some bread. She brought the bread, but she did not answer his questions. She looked at him with wide, distrustful eyes and went back to her seat. He ate and drank and chatted with the guard, while Raimondi sat next to him and smoked his pipe in silence.

He observed the beautiful girl and clearly noted how, now and again, swiftly and surreptitiously, she threw a questioning glance at him. Then he saw how she drew a letter from her pocket, read it, and while doing so again glanced at him.

Frank Braun thought:

“So, the letter the postman brought this evening was for you, my child! And it is most certainly from Don Vincenzo, your father confessor. And he warns you against me, eh, my child? And that’s the reason you’re so distrustful.”

He smiled and thought:

“How stupid you are, old man. I would not have looked at her, nor touched her, your poor little penitent. But now—why do you tempt me? You are so old and yet still do not know that one desires only the forbidden? And between you and me, poor old man?—what an unequal struggle for that child! Oh, how stupid of you.”

He looked over at her again and desired her at once. Her forehead was straight and not high; it receded at the temples. The thick black eyebrows curved over the deep blue eyes, which were shadowed by long lashes. And the nostrils of her straight nose fluttered and trembled at each breath. Her mouth seemed a little too large, and the lips, fully rounded, glowed like vigorous pomegranate blossoms in her wax pale face. A humility, a silent gentleness, lay on her soft features, but beneath that some other power seemed to slumber.

Perhaps it was something in the nature of genius? This girl might become an excellent artist someday. Or else a great cocotte—

He observed how her breasts rose and fell in her confining corsage. He undressed her with lustful eyes, tore the kerchief from her neck and the heavy silver girdle from her waist. Suddenly she caught that glance. She grew red; shame made her close her eyes; then she opened them with sudden hatred. Her hand trembled. She arose, stood for a moment and replaced the letter in her pocket. Then she turned and swiftly, with firm steps she crossed the room. The door slammed noisily behind her. Frank Braun stared after her. Slowly the wild, lustful expression disappeared from his face. His lips relaxed, his eyes resumed their gentle dreaminess.

“Poor beautiful child,” he murmured. Then he passed his hand through his hair and shook his head energetically, as if he wanted to drive his thoughts away.

“I want to sing!” he cried. “Go, landlord, bring us the best wine you have!”

He hurried to his room, took the guitar from the wall and returned.

“To your health, Herr Drenker!”

He touched glasses with the guard, then with the landlord.

“It’s a good thing that there are a few people in the village again who know what wine is good for! Will you wager with me that I can drink you under the table?”

“Bravo!” the guard laughed. “But you better not wager, you don’t know Aloys Drenker’s capacity.”

Frank Braun cried, “But I’m going to wager—your helmet against my guitar!”

“My helmet—?”

“Yes! Are you afraid?”

“I? But my dear sir . . .”

“So you accept?”

“I accept.”

The guard growled and lifted his glass. He got up with slow thoughtfulness, loosened the belt from his large body and placed his heavy saber in a corner.

“Now, then!”

Frank Braun tuned his guitar.

“What would you like to hear?”

“It’s all the same to me!” cried the guard. “Sing what you can.”

The German sang bawdy student songs, then suggestive ballads which he had picked up somewhere in dives, and soldier songs, bristling with coarse allusions. Enthusiastically the guard joined in the chorus. His supply seemed inexhaustible. There were verses of the Neapolitan street singers, oozing filth; Andalusian coplas, the melancholy melodies of which more strikingly emphasized their obscene contents; sailor’s songs which, like the cry of captive monkeys in heat, roared after female flesh; verses from Montmartre in which the words and tunes were skillfully blended in cynical indecencies.

The landlord understood very little, quietly hummed some of the melodies, sucked at his glass and his pipe. But the guard roared with laughter, and brought down his broad fist on the table so that the bottles danced. And he shouted the chorus:

“She comes without her dead lover,

Or any coins,

Through the dusty, dusty forest—”

He emptied one glass after another.  Frank Braun drank with him, glass for glass. Smiling and calm, he poured the wine down as if it were limpid water. He always emptied a glass at one draught. Then he touched the strings again:

“In Hamburg, that’s where I am

Wrapped in velvet and silks

I lost my virtue here

Because I am a girl for money!

 

My sister, she always writes me

“Dear Alma, oh come back!

Your mother lies dying in her bed,

She mourns your miserable fate.”

 

My sister, I always write her back:

‘Dear sister, I cannot return!

I lost my virtue long ago,

There is no happiness that

Waits for me at home!’

 

But in Hamburg, that’s where I am

Wrapped in velvet and silks!

I am well off even if I lost my virtue here,

Because I am a girl for money!”

He sang the songs of harlots, stale, sentimental ditties which peddled out emotions as if they were honey-cakes at a village fair. Herr Aloys Drenker sobbed and clucked in his throat and sighed and took a good deep drink after each song.

“Listen, guard!— I’ll sing you the song of the dance hall harlots!”

“Yesterday evening in the storm

I went around by The Red Tower!”

Then, when a flush of sentimentality rose high in the guard’s red neck, and thick drops almost blinded his bleary eyes, Frank Braun flung bright, ironic, impudent stanzas in his face:

“Girls with breasts so firm and white,

Why shouldn’t I lust after them?

I am so young—like a monkey!

And my father was a priest!”

Aloys Drenker grinned and seemed all puffed up with pleasure. He peered around with his drunken eyes as if a plump wench were standing near—as if he wished to caress her firm breasts with his stubby red hands.

“Drink, you swine!” the German cried to him.

The guard leaped up. The blood rose into his face, dark blue from rage and shame. But he met a calm, smiling glance, so he shrank back.

“Your health,” he said and drank.

Frank Braun drank with him, again and again. He laid the guitar down on the bench and drank.

“A few more bottles,” he said.

“No—it’s enough,” stammered the guard.

“Enough? So soon? Go, fetch wine, Raimondi!”

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He turned around and went back again. Down on the lake, far at the opposite end, he saw a boat. At that point the rocks receded a little, forming a small bay. He saw the reeds at the shoreline and farther back a narrow, triangular strip of land. In the background a mountain torrent leapt down through a crevice which it had hollowed out. It was probably the torrent that had gradually deposited this bit of land. He saw a girl in the boat, arising, then bending down again; saw her lifting baskets from the reeds and carrying them up carefully to one end.

Here was one other person, then, who was not at the meeting! Up there, Sibylla Madruzzo, the crippled dumb old beggar woman; then the little lad with his cow, and Angelo, the farmhand,—who, to be sure, was not from hereabouts!—and now this girl.

At a comfortable pace Frank Braun walked back toward the lake. On the broad bench in front of the house he had first entered sat a gray bearded man in shirt sleeves, comfortably bent forward, and resting his elbows on a round stone table.

“Another one. The fifth who is not with Mr. Peter!” The German laughed, “I’ve done the village wrong; there’s still some life left in it.”

“Good afternoon,” he said. “Are you Peppino Raimondi?”

The innkeeper got up, mumbled something and looked at him in surprise.

Then he took the pipe from between his teeth and said, “Where do you come from, sir?”

“I would like to stay here and live with you,” answered Frank Braun. “Aren’t you Raimondi? Don Vincenzo directed me to you.”

The innkeeper nodded.

“Yes, yes, fine weather,” he said.

“Can you give me lodging?” Frank Braun repeated.

“Yes, yes, spring is coming,” the other growled.

“I want to know if you can give me lodging!” cried Frank Braun, louder still.

Then it occurred to him that the priest had warned him of the innkeeper’s deafness. He did not care to exert himself, so he took a piece of paper and wrote down his wishes. Raimondi took the paper, put on his spectacles, and read slowly, thoughtfully, word by word.

Then he looked at him over his spectacles and asked, “You want to stay for a few months in Val di Scodra? And you want two rooms? And you want to lodge with me?”

Frank Braun nodded.

But the old innkeeper could not yet get it through his head.

“You want to stay—here? And for months? Is that your serious intention, sir?”

Then the other roared into his ears: “Yes, yes, yes!”

Raimondi scratched his head and said, “Yes—I understand very well! If you please, sir—wait just a moment.”

He took his coat from the bench and put it on.

“And so—” he continued, “and so you want to stay here? And for several months? Yes, and what do you intend to pay?”

“How much do you want?” Frank Braun replied.

Both went into the house and sat down at the table. The innkeeper began to haggle. What was it the guest demanded? Two rooms? Two, indeed? Well, if that’s what he insisted on, one would have to arrange it. And what did he want for breakfast? Eggs, too? Very well, then—two eggs. It was his habit to interject a few German words into his speech, so Frank Braun addressed him in German. But the old man understood very little. No, no, he had forgotten all that in the course of the years. Once upon a time—oh, yes, once upon a time, when he was in the Emperor’s Rifles! And his dead wife, she had been a German from Brixen. This very pipe here was an heirloom from her father. But his daughter, yes—Teresa—she spoke German as well as the Emperor himself—whom God preserve!

“Someone has to fetch down my trunks,” said Frank Braun.

Trunks—and so he had trunks, too? And where were they, on the public road up there? So he had come in the motor car? Well, the manservant would have to go up to fetch the mail at once. What? Yes, yes, he was postmaster, too. He opened a drawer and lifted out a handful of postcards and a few sheets of stamps.

“Do you see, this is the post office of Val di Scodra?”

Then he went to the window and called out to his man.

“Angelo! Angelo! Put the packsaddle on the mule. And don’t forget the ropes. You must fetch down the trunks that are standing in the road. Old Sibylla is watching them.”

The fellow nodded and went toward the stable.

“Tell me, why aren’t you at the meeting?” Frank Braun cried after him.

Angelo grinned, “I’m not from hereabouts.”

“Of course! I might have thought it!”

The German laughed, “And so you must live all to yourself here.”

Then he followed the old man up the stairs. The landlord thrust open several doors.

“There are enough rooms in the house,” he said. “Which ones do you want, sir?”

There were three rooms on the side toward the lake but one of them seemed inhabited: the other two were almost empty. Frank Braun chose the first chamber and the adjoining one.

“Who lives here?” he asked.

He saw a picture of the Mother of God with a little vessel of holy water at the right and a little perpetual lamp at the left of it. Fresh box tree twigs adorned the frame.

“My daughter,” the landlord replied. “But she will have to move out.”

“Very well, then,” said Frank Braun.

He helped Raimondi carry the girl’s possessions into the third room. Then he arranged the furniture to suit himself.

“Go into all the rooms,” said the old man, “and take whatever you want.”

The German went downstairs and up again, gathering whatever he liked. He moved an old armchair to the window, and pushed little blocks of wood under the legs of the shaky table. He also brought in a small wire basket which he intended to use for waste paper.

“There, carry the clock out,” he said to the landlord, and pointed to the old wall clock above the door.

“But why?” the other asked.

“I don’t like a clock in the room, neither a clock nor a calendar. To be constantly aware of the date and the hour—no, that’s not my way of living.”

“But it isn’t even running,” the old man assured him.

“Not running? Then it may stay. How about a lamp?”

“Yes, there’s a lamp too.”

The old man brought one. Finally he was settled.

“Bring me some water!” he cried.

The landlord went down and filled the large jugs. He did not carry them up himself, but gave them to his man, who had just returned with the mule from the mountain. Angelo dragged the jugs up, then the trunks and the bags. Frank Braun began to unpack, swiftly and skillfully: it was an accustomed task. He was done before the sun sank. He washed himself and went down. In the guest room a stout, heavily mustached Imperial border guard sat next to the landlord, drinking in mighty draughts from a wicker-covered bottle.

“To your health!” he called out to the stranger in German.

“Thank you,” said Frank Braun.

The guard blew his nose.

“Do you know, it was a sensible idea of yours to come—”

But he hesitated, laughed, drank again—the idea didn’t seem so sensible after all.

“Anyhow—it’s pretty fine,” he continued. “Pretty fine!—What did I tell you, Raimondi?” he roared at the landlord.

“What did I tell you? If those praying brethren won’t come, somebody else will! Well, there he is! I hardly believed it myself—but there he is: it’s come true! And you’ll make more money on him than on all those devil hunters put together!”

Frank Braun listened attentively.

“Than—whom?” he asked.

“Than the devil hunters!” the guard laughed. “You must know that this crazy village has an American in it—”

“Yes, I know,” the other interrupted him. “I have heard about him. And so they call themselves devil hunters?”

“Yes, sir!” the guard affirmed. “Because they want to drive the devil out, and exterminate him root and branch with their praying and singing, these Italian fools . . . Well, if I were here, things would be different! Eh, old man?”

Laughing, he nudged the landlord in the belly, “I hunt the devil, too—but in a better way, damn it all!”

He lifted his glass high.

“Come here, you red old alcohol devil, we’re not afraid of you.”

He emptied the glass at one draught and set it down ringing on the table. Then he wiped his mustache.

“So! That little devil’s done for. Eh, Raimondi, we’re the true devil hunters?”

“So these people don’t drink?” Frank Braun asked.

“Not a drop!” cried the guard. “They pretend to be pious Christians and yet they declare the wine which our Lord himself made to grow, a work of the devil. Why, old Noah soused himself to the brim every day, and was a patriarch for all that. It’s been two months since any of these fellows has set foot in the inn. I’m the old man’s only guest, and a poor one at that, for I want you to know that I don’t pay.”

He coughed in over-hasty laughter.

“Just drink, Drenker,” said the landlord sighing. “Surely one must keep one’s cellar open for an old comrade from the regiment.”

“Well, you needn’t go on about it,” cried the guard. “It’s rarely enough that I come to the village. Every three weeks, for a few hours, whenever it’s possible. The damned smugglers give one no rest in the mountains.”

A gleam of light shone in through the door which a young girl was opening. She carried two large candles into the guestroom and placed them on the table.

“Is that your daughter?” Frank Braun asked the landlord.

“Yes, that is Teresa, his daughter,” said the guard. “A good girl. Come here, Teresa!”

But the girl turned around immediately and went out again without speaking a word.

“Bring in the food!” her father called out after her. “Our guests are hungry.”

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Chapter Two

“May the libation be poured for Indra.”

-THE VEDA

Frank Braun had to wait several days for the stage coach to leave. The stage went only once a week to Val di Scodra—or, rather, it went above it, along a mountain road, far to the border. High above the village it halted and left a few packages and letters. Someone was accustomed to waiting there and carrying the things down to the valley.

“Don’t take the stage,” the head waiter advised him. “Go in our motorcar. We arrange for excursions every few days at the height of the season, as soon as there are enough people to go. Then you can have the car stop at Val di Scodra and let you out.”

“But will the car be able to take my trunks?”

“Why not? It’s a very powerful car, sixty-four horsepower. It’ll take you seven or eight hours to get there by stage; the car will make it in less than two!”

“Very well, then.”

The car climbed into the mountains on long, dusty and winding roads. The tourists chattered and laughed, determined to enjoy the expensive expedition with all their might. A fat gentleman from Dresden had studied his Baedeker closely and proudly he called every new mountain peak, every waterfall, by name. Whenever an oxcart passed, whenever a sharp curve showed the steep declivity clearly, the ladies screamed, and the honeymoon couple, sitting in front, moved more closely together. Frank Braun stared at the landscape, indifferent and bored. He didn’t speak a word.

“Do you see, over there, on the right, rises the Monte Terlago!” his neighbor explained to him, but received no answer.

The car stopped.

“Here is Val di Scodra. This is where you get out!” cried the chauffeur.

He jumped down, unstrapped the trunks, and set them in the road.

Frank Braun climbed down.

“Where is the village?”

“Down there. It’s only a little farther up the road where one gets a view into the valley. I merely stopped here because the path leads down from here.”

“And how am I to get my luggage into the village?”

The chauffeur laughed, “I suppose you’ll have to let it lie in the road for the present. Just go down and have someone fetch it. It is safe enough here, and furthermore, there’s someone who will watch it.

“—Hey, old woman!” he cried. “Come here a moment.”

Frank Braun turned around. He saw an old beggar woman who had stepped up to the car and very conscientiously held out her hollow hand to each of the travelers. She made no haste but waited until even the last had given his kreuzer. Only then did she approach. Her back had been bent by some disease. She curved forward tense as a bow so that her head, with its gray, tangled hair, was scarcely on a higher level than her hips. Her face was twisted toward the left and she squinted upward strangely.

“Hello, Sibylla Madruzzo!” cried the chauffeur. “Come over here! You will watch over these trunks by the wayside. The gentleman is going into the village and will have them called for later. That’s right, sit down on them. That’ll be best.”

Frank Braun gave the old beggar a few nickel coins.

“How long will it take me?”

The old woman moved her lips; she raised her short crutch and made strange signs with her fingers.

“She is dumb,” declared the chauffeur. “But the path is steep, straight down the hillside. I think you can make it in three-quarters of an hour.”

He waved goodbye, and jumped into his seat. The car disappeared in thick clouds of dust. Frank Braun descended the hillside. He was struck by the complete difference in nature here. Only a few hours ago he had been walking on the shores of Lake Garda—under palms.

To be sure, they had been consumptive, monotonous, trimmed hotel palms, yet they were palms. Bushes of bamboo shaded the ornamental lake, magnolias and broad leaved bananas grew in their beds. Carefully trimmed pines and excessively thin cypresses arose here and there; at intervals stood a mighty eucalyptus. On the mountain slope, under protective sheds, lemons were growing, and far along the lake extended a plantation of crippled olives.

Here all that was changed. The south lay far behind him. And spring, which was in full splendor down there by the lake, scarcely dared to knock here with its modest fingers. The narrow path led down steeply. A few goats passed him seeking the thin grass among the rocks. Then, at a turn of the road, he stood still. Here at last one got a view. He looked down from a broad stone. Below lay a small lake, almost circular in shape. Opposite him the mountain walls seemed to project steeply on both sides almost into the water. It looked as if there was scarcely room for a dog to run along the sides. At his feet the valley expanded a little—there lay the village.

The roofs were scattered irregularly—reddish-brown lumps of weathered tiles. Here a group of houses stood close packed—over there stood two—or just one—as the plain permitted. Slowly the village straggled up the mountain toward the northeast; far in the background one last large roof gleamed faintly. In the middle of the village was a small church. A broad path led from it across the brush covered declivity of the north side and ran on to a flat projection of rock that hung almost above the lake. This table of stone seemed quite level and free; but at its extreme end it bore three crosses, rising to an enormous height. Upon the tallest, raised slightly and at the middle, hung the Redeemer; at both sides arose the crosses of the thieves. It was probably an image of Calvary; he clearly saw the fourteen stations along the path. He descended slowly. He met a boy who was taking a cow to pasture.

“Where is Raimondi’s inn?” he asked.

But the boy stared at him as if he were a ghost, pulled his cow into the thicket by the rope and gave no answer. He went on. Little fields had been cut into the slope, far below he saw an olive grove, here and there climbed a few old vines among the clipped willow trees. A man was cultivating the ground with a spade.

“Where is Raimondi’s inn?” asked Frank Braun.

The fellow did not stir. He had a broad, hard, beardless face, stupid and ugly beyond measure. A cunning, inflexible peasant’s smile kept his mouth wide open. Frank Braun repeated his question.

“I’m not from hereabouts—”

The fellow grinned.

The German grew impatient, “The devil! Surely you know where the inn is!”

He gave him a few kreuzers, “There! Lead me to it.”

The man shouldered his spade and walked ahead.

“What is your name?” asked Frank Braun.

He grinned but did not answer.

“It seems that one must ask you everything twice. I want to know your name!”

“Angelo,” he said. “But I’m not from hereabouts.”

“I know that already. Where did you come from then?”

The fellow raised his spade and pointed toward the north.

“From there!”

Then he corrected himself and pointed toward the west.

“No,—from there! From Turazzo.”

A house lay in front of them, close by the lake. A broad flight of stone steps led to a small veranda; crimson rambler crept all over it, but as yet none of the small red roses were in bloom. The man leaned his spade against the wall and was about to enter the stable through a low side door.

“Are you in service here?” asked Frank Braun.

“Yes.”

“But you were supposed to take me to Raimondi’s inn.”

“This is it.”

“This?—so you are in service here? And a while ago you pretended not even to know where he lived!”

The man gave an imbecile laugh, “I’m not from hereabouts.”

Then he stamped into the stable; the happy bleating of a goat greeted him. Frank Braun mounted the steps, opened the door and looked into the room.

“Anybody here?” he cried.

He knocked with his fist on the table, but no one came. He stepped to the window and looked out across the lake, across the little space in front of the house, across the street. There was not a human being anywhere. He waited a while and cried anew—in vain.

Perhaps the stupid farmhand had led him into the wrong house after all? He went out and wandered through the narrow streets, passed houses and farms. He looked through some open doors and windows and stepped into a garden here and there. Nowhere was there a sign of human life in this dead stillness. A solitary, powerful, black dog lay in the road and blinked at him in astonishment.

“The village is enchanted,” he thought.

From the east a confused rumor reached him. He went in the direction of it; the houses slowly rose with the mountain here. Soon he could distinguish sounds—a singing—then the long—drawn out tones of a concertina, and between, the staccato thud and clang of tambourine and triangle.

“The American’s concert,” thought Frank Braun. “So is that where the whole village is assembled today?”

He considered whether he should go to the meeting, but finally he shook his head.

“Some other time.”

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