STEPPENWOLF -- HARRY HALLER'S RECORDS, PART 3
I dreamed that I was waiting in an old-fashioned anteroom. At first I knew no more than that my audience was with some Excellency or other. Then it came to me that it was Goethe who was to receive me. Unfortunately I was not there quite on a personal call. I was a reporter, and this worried me a great deal and I could not understand how the devil I had got into such a fix. Besides this, I was upset by a scorpion that I had seen a moment before trying to climb up my leg. I had shaken myself free of the black crawling beast, but I did not know where it had got to next and did not dare make a grab after it.
Also I was not very sure whether I had been announced by a mistake to Matthisson instead of to Goethe, and him again I mixed up in my dream with Burger, for I took him for the author of the poem to Molly. Moreover I would have liked extremely to meet Molly. I imagined her wonderful, tender, musical. If only I were not here at the orders of that cursed newspaper office. My ill-humor over this increased until by degrees it extended even to Goethe, whom I suddenly treated to all manner of reflections and reproaches. It was going to be a lively interview. The scorpion, however, dangerous though he was and hidden no doubt somewhere within an inch of me, was all the same not so bad perhaps. Possibly he might even betoken something friendly. It seemed to me extremely likely that he had something to do with Molly. He might be a kind of messenger from her--or an heraldic beast, dangerously and beautifully emblematic of woman and sin. Might not his name perhaps be Vulpius? But at that moment a flunkey threw open the door. I rose and went in.
There stood old Goethe, short and very erect, and on his classic breast, sure enough, was the corpulent star of some Order. Not for a moment did he relax his commanding attitude, his air of giving audience, and of controlling the world from that museum of his at Weimar. Indeed, he had scarcely looked at me before with a nod and a jerk like an old raven he began pompously: "Now, you young people have, I believe, very little appreciation of us and our efforts."
"You are quite right," said I, chilled by his ministerial glance. "We young people have, indeed, very little appreciation of you. You are too pompous for us, Excellency, too vain and pompous, and not outright enough. That is, no doubt, at the bottom of it--not outright enough."
The little old man bent his erect head forward, and as his hard mouth with its official folds relaxed in a little smile and became enchantingly alive, my heart gave a sudden bound; for all at once the poem came to my mind--"The dusk with folding wing"--and I remembered that it was from the lips of this man that the poem came. Indeed, at this moment I was entirely disarmed and overwhelmed and would have chosen of all things to kneel before him. But I held myself erect and heard him say with a smile: "Oh, so you accuse me of not being outright? What a thing to say! Will you explain yourself a little more fully?"
I was very glad indeed to do so.
"Like all great spirits, Herr von Goethe, you have clearly recognized and felt the riddle and the hopelessness of human life, with its moments of transcendence that sink again to wretchedness, and the impossibility of rising to one fair peak of feeling except at the cost of many days' enslavement to the daily round; and, then, the ardent longing for the realm of the spirit in eternal and deadly war with the equally ardent and holy love of the lost innocence of nature, the whole frightful suspense in vacancy and uncertainty, this condemnation to the transient that can never be valid, that is ever experimental and dilettantish; in short, the utter lack of purpose to which the human state is condemned--to its consuming despair. You have known all this, yes, and said as much over and over again; yet you gave up your whole life to preaching its opposite, giving utterance to faith and optimism and spreading before yourself and others the illusion that our spiritual strivings mean something and endure. You have lent a deaf ear to those that plumbed the depths and suppressed the voices that told the truth of despair, and not in yourself only, but also in Kleist and Beethoven. Year after year you lived on at Weimar accumulating knowledge and collecting objects, writing letters and gathering them in, as though in your old age you had found the real way to discover the eternal in the momentary, though you could only mummify it, and to spiritualize nature though you could only hide it with a pretty mask. This is why we reproach you with insincerity."
The old bigwig kept his eyes musingly on mine, smiling as before.
Then to my surprise, he asked, "You must have a strong objection, then, to the Magic Flute of Mozart?"
And before I could protest, he went on:
"The Magic Flute presents life to us as a wondrous song. It honors our feelings, transient, as they are, as something eternal and divine. It agrees neither with Herr von Kleist nor with Herr Beethoven. It preaches optimism and faith."
"I know, I know," I cried in a rage. "God knows why you hit of all things on the Magic Flute that is dearer to me than anything else in the world. But Mozart did not live to be eighty-two. He did not make pretensions in his own life to the enduring and the orderly and to exalted dignity as you did. He did not think himself so important! He sang his divine melodies and died. He died young--poor and misunderstood--"
I lost my breath. A thousand things ought to have been said in ten words. My forehead began to sweat.
Goethe, however, said very amiably: "It may be unforgivable that I lived to be eighty-two. My satisfaction on that account was, however, less than you may think. You are right that a great longing for survival possessed me continually. I was in continual fear of death and continually struggling with it. I believe that the struggle against death, the unconditional and self-willed determination to live, is the motive power behind the lives and activities of all outstanding men. My eighty-two years showed just as conclusively that we must all die in the end as if I had died as a schoolboy. If it helps to justify me I should like to say this too: my nature had much of the child in it, its curiosity and love for idleness and play. Well, and so it went on and on, till I saw that sooner or later there must be enough of play."
As he said this, his smile was quite cunning--a downright roguish leer. He had grown taller and his erect bearing and the constrained dignity of his face had disappeared. The air, too, around us was now ringing with melodies, all of them songs of Goethe's. I heard Mozart's "Violets" and Schubert's "Again thou fillest brake and vale" quite distinctly. And Goethe's face was rosy and youthful, and he laughed; and now he resembled Mozart like a brother, now Schubert, and the star on his breast was composed entirely of wild flowers. A yellow primrose blossomed luxuriantly in the middle of it.
It did not altogether suit me to have the old gentleman avoid my questions and accusations in this sportive manner, and I looked at him reproachfully. At that he bent forward and brought his mouth, which had now become quite like a child's, close to my ear and whispered softly into it: "You take the old Goethe much too seriously, my young friend. You should not take old people who are already dead seriously. It does them injustice. We immortals do not like things to be taken seriously. We like joking. Seriousness, young man. is an accident of time. It consists, I don't mind telling you in confidence, in putting too high a value on time. I, too, once put too high a value on time. For that reason I wished to be a hundred years old. In eternity, however, there is no time, you see. Eternity is a mere moment, just long enough for a joke."
And indeed there was no saying another serious word to the man. He capered joyfully and nimbly up and down and made the primrose shoot out from his star like a rocket and then he made it shrink and disappear. While he flickered to and fro with his dance steps and figures, it was borne in upon me that he at least had not neglected learning to dance. He could do it wonderfully. Then I remembered the scorpion, or Molly, rather, and I called out to Goethe: "Tell me, is Molly there?"
Goethe laughed aloud. He went to his table and opened a drawer; took out a handsome leather or velvet box, and held it open under my eyes. There, small, faultless, and gleaming, lay a diminutive effigy of a woman's leg on the dark velvet, an enchanting leg, with the knee a little bent and the foot pointing downwards to end in the daintiest of toes.
I stretched out my hand, for I had quite fallen in love with the little leg and I wanted to have it, but just as I was going to take hold of it with my finger and thumb, the little toy seemed to move with a tiny start and it occurred to me suddenly that this might be the scorpion. Goethe seemed to read my thought, and even to have wanted to cause this deep timidity, this hectic struggle between desire and dread. He held the provoking little scorpion close to my face and watched me start forward with desire, then start back with dread; and this seemed to divert him exceedingly. While he was teasing me with the charming, dangerous thing, he became quite old once more, very, very old, a thousand years old, with hair as white as snow, and his withered graybeard's face laughed a still and soundless laughter that shook him to the depths with abysmal old-man's humor.
When I woke I had forgotten the dream; it did not come back to me till later. I had slept for nearly an hour, as I never thought I could possibly have done at a cafe table with the music and the bustle all round me. The dear girl stood in front of me with one hand on my shoulder.
"Give me two or three marks," she said. "I've spent something in there."
I gave her my purse. She took it and was soon back again.
"Well, now I can sit with you for a little and then I have to go. I have an engagement."
I was alarmed.
"With whom?" I asked quickly.
"With a man, my dear Harry. He has invited me to the Odeon Bar."
"Oh! I didn't think you would leave me alone."
"Then you should have invited me yourself. Someone has got in before you. Well, there's good money saved. Do you know the Odeon? Nothing but champagne after midnight. Armchairs like at a club, Negro band, very smart."
I had never considered all this.
"But let me invite you," I entreated her. "I thought it was an understood thing, now that we've made friends. Invite yourself wherever you like. Do, please, I beg you."
"That is nice of you. But, you see, a promise is a promise, and I've given my word and I shall keep it and go. Don't worry any more over that. Have another drink of wine. There's still some in the bottle. Drink it up and then go comfortably home and sleep. Promise me."
"No, you know that's just what I can't do--go home."
"Oh--you--with your tales! Will you never be done with your Goethe?" (The dream about Goethe came back to me at that moment.) "But if you really can't go home, stay here. There are bedrooms. Shall I see about one for you?"
I was satisfied with that and asked where I could find her again? Where did she live? She would not tell me. I should find her in one place or another if I looked.
"Mayn't I invite you somewhere?" "Where?"
"Where and when you like."
"Good. Tuesday for dinner at the old Franciscan. First floor. Good-bye."
She gave me her hand. I noticed for the first time how well it matched her voice--a beautiful hand, firm and intelligent and good-natured. She laughed at me when I kissed it.
Then at the last moment she turned once more and said: "I'll tell you something else--about Goethe. What you felt about him and finding the picture of him more than you could put up with, I often feel about the saints."
"The saints ? Are you so religious?"
"No, I'm not religious, I'm sorry to say. But I was once and shall be again. There is no time now to be religious."
"No time. Does it need time to be religious?"
"Oh, yes. To be religious you must have time and, even more, independence of time. You can't be religious in earnest and at the same time live in actual things and still take them seriously, time and money and the Odeon Bar and all that."
"Yes, I understand. But what was that you said about the saints?"
"Well, there are many saints I'm particularly fond of--Stephen, St. Francis and others. I often see pictures of them and of the Savior and the Virgin--such utterly lying and false and silly pictures--and I can put up with them just as little as you could with that picture of Goethe. When I see one of those sweet and silly Saviors or St. Francises and see how other people find them beautiful and edifying, I feel it is an insult to the real Savior and it makes me think: Why did He live and suffer so terribly if people find a picture as silly as that satisfactory to them! But in spite of this I know that my own picture of the Savior or St. Francis is only a human picture and falls short of the original, and that the Savior Himself would find the picture I have of Him within me just as stupid as I do those sickly reproductions. I don't say this to justify you in your ill temper and rage with the picture of Goethe. There's no justification. I say it simply to show you that I can understand you. You learned people and artists have, no doubt, all sorts of superior things in your heads; but you're human beings like the rest of us, and we, too, have our dreams and fancies. I noticed, for example, learned sir, that you felt a slight embarrassment when it came to telling me your Goethe story. You had to make a great effort to make your ideas comprehensible to a simple girl like me. Well, and so I wanted to show you that you needn't have made such an effort. I understand you all right. And now I've finished and your place is in bed."
She went away and an old house porter took me up two flights of stairs. But first he asked me where my luggage was, and when he heard that I hadn't any, I had to pay down what he called "sleep money." Then he took me up an old dark staircase to a room upstairs and left me alone. There was a bleak wooden bedstead, and on the wall hung a saber and a colored print of Garibaldi and also a withered wreath that had once figured in a club festival. I would have given much for pajamas. At any rate there was water and a small towel and I could wash. Then I lay down on the bed in my clothes, and leaving the light on, gave myself up to my reflections. So I had settled accounts with Goethe. It was splendid that he had come to me in a dream. And this wonderful girl--if only I had known her name! All of a sudden there was a human being, a living human being, to shatter the death that had come down over me like a glass case, and to put out a hand to me, a good and beautiful and warm hand. All of a sudden there were things that concerned me again, which I could think of with joy and eagerness. All of a sudden a door was thrown open through which life came in. Perhaps I could live once more and once more be a human being. My soul that had fallen asleep in the cold and nearly frozen breathed once more, and sleepily spread its weak and tiny wings. Goethe had been with me. A girl had bidden me eat and drink and sleep, and had shown me friendship and had laughed at me and had called me a silly little boy. And this wonderful friend had talked to me of the saints and shown me that even when I had outdone myself in absurdity I was not alone. I was not an incomprehensible and ailing exception. There were people akin to me. I was understood. Should I see her again? Yes, for certain. She could be relied upon. "A promise is a promise."
And before I knew, I was asleep once more and slept four or five hours. It had gone ten when I woke. My clothes were all creases. I felt utterly exhausted. And in my head was the memory of yesterday's half-forgotten horror; but I had life, hope and happy thoughts. As I returned to my room I experienced nothing of that terror that this return had had for me the day before. On the stairs above the araucaria I met the "aunt," my landlady. I saw her seldom but her kindly nature always delighted me. The meeting was not very propitious, for I was still unkempt and uncombed after my night out, and I had not shaved. I greeted her and would have passed on. As a rule, she always respected my desire to live alone and unobserved. Today, however, as it turned out, a veil between me and the outer world seemed to be torn aside, a barrier fallen. She laughed and stopped.
"You have been on a spree, Mr. Haller. You were not in bed last night. You must be pretty tired!"
"Yes," I said, and was forced to laugh too. "There was something lively going on last night, and as I did not like to shock you, I slept at an hotel. My respect for the repose and dignity of your house is great. I sometimes feel like a foreign body in it."
"You are poking fun, Mr. Haller."
"Only at myself."
"You ought not to do that even. You ought not to feel like a 'foreign body' in my house. You should live as best pleases you and do as best you can. I have had before now many exceedingly respectable tenants, jewels of respectability, but not one has been quieter or disturbed us less than you. And now--would you like some tea?"
I did not refuse. Tea was brought me in her drawing room with the old-fashioned pictures and furniture, and we had a little talk. In her friendly way she elicited this and that about my life and thoughts without actually asking questions and listened attentively to my confessions, while at the same time she did not give them more importance than an intelligent and motherly woman would to the peccadilloes of men. We talked, too, of her nephew and she showed me in a neighboring room his latest hobby, a wireless set. There the industrious young man spent his evenings, fitting together the apparatus, a victim to the charms of wireless, and kneeling on pious knees before the god of applied science whose might had made it possible to discover after thousands of years a fact which every thinker has always known and put to better use than in this recent and very imperfect development. We spoke about this, for the aunt had a slight leaning to piety and religious topics were not unwelcome to her. I told her that the omnipresence of all forces and facts was well known to ancient India, and that science had merely brought a small fraction of this fact into general use by devising for it, that is, for sound waves, a receiver and transmitter which were still in their first stages and miserably defective. The principal fact known to that ancient knowledge was, I said, the unreality of time. This science had not yet observed. Finally, it would, of course, make this "discovery," also, and then the inventors would get busy over it. The discovery would be made--and perhaps very soon-that there were floating round us not only the pictures and events of the transient present in the same way that music from Paris or Berlin was now heard in Frankfurt or Zurich, but that all that had ever happened in the past could be registered and brought back likewise. We might well look for the day when, with wires or without, with or without the disturbance of other sounds, we should hear King Solomon speaking, or Walter von der Vogelweide. And all this, I said, just as today was the case with the beginnings of wireless, would be of no more service to man than as an escape from himself and his true aims, and a means of surrounding himself with an ever closer mesh of distractions and useless activities. But instead of embarking on these familiar topics with my customary bitterness and scorn for the times and for science, I made a joke of them; and the aunt smiled, and we sat together for an hour or so and drank our tea with much content.
It was for Tuesday evening that I had invited the charming and remarkable girl of the Black Eagle, and I was a good deal put to it to know how to pass the time till then; and when at last Tuesday came, the importance of my relation to this unknown girl had become alarmingly clear to me. I thought of nothing but her. I expected everything from her. I was ready to lay everything at her feet. I was not in the least in love with her. Yet I had only to imagine that she might fail to keep the appointment, or forget it, to see where I stood. Then the world would be a desert once more, one day as dreary and worthless as the last, and the deathly stillness and wretchedness would surround me once more on all sides with no way out from this hell of silence except the razor. And these few days had not made me think any the more fondly of the razor. It had lost none of its terror. This was indeed the hateful truth: I dreaded to cut my throat with a dread that crushed my heart. My fear was as wild and obstinate as though I were the healthiest of men and my life a paradise. I realized my situation recklessly and without a single illusion. I realized that it was the unendurable tension between inability to live and inability to die that made the unknown girl, the pretty dancer of the Black Eagle, so important to me. She was the one window, the one tiny crack of light in my black hole of dread. She was my release and my way to freedom. She had to teach me to live or teach me to die. She had to touch my deadened heart with her firm and pretty hand, and at the touch of life it would either leap again to flame or subside in ashes. I could not imagine whence she derived these powers, what the source of her magic was, in what secret soil this deep meaning she had for me had grown up; nor did it matter. I did not care to know. There was no longer the least importance for me in any knowledge or perception I might have. Indeed it was just in that line that I was overstocked, for the ignominy under which I suffered lay just in this--that I saw my own situation so clearly and was so very conscious, too, of hers. I saw this wretch, this brute beast of a Steppenwolf as a fly in a web, and saw too the approaching decision of his fate. Entangled and defenseless he hung in the web. The spider was ready to devour him, and further off was the rescuing hand. I might have made the most intelligent and penetrating remarks about the ramifications and the causes of my sufferings, my sickness of soul, my general bedevilment of neurosis. The mechanism was transparent to me. But what I needed was not knowledge and understanding. What I longed for in my despair was life and resolution, action and reaction, impulse and impetus.
Although during the few days of waiting I never despaired of my friend keeping her word, this did not prevent my being in a state of acute suspense when the day arrived. Never in my life have I waited more impatiently for a day to end. And while the suspense and impatience were almost in-tolerable, they were at the same time of wonderful benefit to me. It was unimaginably beautiful and new for me who for a long while had been too listless to await anything or to find joy in anything--yes, it was wonderful to be running here and there all day long in restless anxiety and intense expectation, to be anticipating the meeting and the talk and the outcome that the evening had in store, to be shaving and dressing with peculiar care (new linen, new tie, new laces in my shoes). Whoever this intelligent and mysterious girl might be and however she got into this relation to myself was all one. She was there. The miracle had happened. I had found a human being once more and a new interest in life. All that mattered was that the miracle should go on, that I should surrender myself to this magnetic power and follow this star.
Unforgettable moment when I saw her once more! I sat in the old-fashioned and comfortable restaurant at a small table that I had quite unnecessarily engaged by telephone, and studied the menu. In a tumbler were two orchids I had bought for my new acquaintance. I had a good while to wait, but I was sure she would come and was no longer agitated. And then she came. She stopped for a moment at the cloakroom and greeted me only by an observant and rather quizzical glance from her clear gray eyes. Distrustful, I took care to see how the waiter behaved towards her. No, there was nothing confidential, no lack of distance. He was scrupulously respectful. And yet they knew each other. She called him Emil.
She laughed with pleasure when I gave her the orchids.
"That's sweet of you, Harry. You wanted to make me a present, didn't you, and weren't sure what to choose. You weren't quite sure you would be right in making me a present. I might be insulted, and so you chose orchids, and though they're only flowers, they're dear enough. So I thank you ever so much. And by the way I'll tell you now that I won't take presents from you. I live on men, but I won't live on you. But how you have altered! No one would know you. The other day you looked as if you had been cut down from a gallows, and now you're very nearly a man again. And now--have you carried out my orders?"
"What orders? "
"You've never forgotten? I mean, have you learned the fox trot ? You said you wished nothing better than to obey my commands, that nothing was dearer to you than obeying me. Do you remember?"
"Indeed I do, and so it shall be. I meant it."
"And yet you haven't learned to dance yet?"
"Can that be done so quickly--in a day or two?"
"Of course. The fox trot you can learn in all hour. The Boston in two. The tango takes longer, but that you don't need."
"But now I really must know your name."
She looked at me for a moment without speaking.
"Perhaps you can guess it. I should be so glad if you did. Pull yourself together and take a good look at me. Hasn't it ever occurred to you that sometimes my face is just like a boy's? Now, for example."
Yes, now that I looked at her face carefully, I had to admit she was right. It was a boy's face. And after a moment I saw something in her face that reminded me of my own boyhood and of my friend of those days. His name was Herman. For a moment it seemed that she had turned into this Herman.
"If you were a boy," said I in amazement, "I should say your name was Herman."
"Who knows, perhaps I am one and am simply in woman's clothing," she said, joking.
"Is your name Hermine?"
She nodded, beaming, delighted at my guess. At that moment the waiter brought the food and we began to eat. She was as happy as a child. Of all the things that pleased and charmed me about her, the prettiest and most characteristic was her rapid changes from the deepest seriousness to the drollest merriment, and this without doing herself the least violence, with the facility of a gifted child. Now for a while she was merry and chaffed me about the fox trot, trod on my feet under the table, enthusiastically praised the meal, remarked on the care I had taken dressing, though she also had many criticisms to make on my appearance.
Meanwhile I asked her: "How did you manage to look like a boy and make me guess your name? "
"Oh, you did all that yourself. Doesn't your learning reveal to you that the reason why I please you and mean so much to you is because I am a kind of looking glass for you, because there's something in me that answers you and understands you? Really, we ought all to be such looking glasses to each other and answer and correspond to each other, but such owls as you are a bit peculiar. On the slightest provocation they give themselves over to the strangest notions that they can see nothing and read nothing any longer in the eyes of other men and then nothing seems right to them. And then when an owl like that after all finds a face that looks back into his and gives him a glimpse of understanding--well, then he's pleased, naturally."
"There's nothing you don't know, Hermine," I cried in amazement. "It's exactly as you say. And yet you're so entirely different from me. Why, you're my opposite. You have all that I lack."
"So you think," she said shortly, "and it's well you should."
And now a dark cloud of seriousness spread over her face. It was indeed like a magic mirror to me. Of a sudden her face bespoke seriousness and tragedy and it looked as fathomless as the hollow eyes of a mask. Slowly, as though it were dragged from her word for word, she said:
"Mind, don't forget what you said to me. You said that I was to command you and that it would be a joy to you to obey my commands. Don't forget that. You must know this, my little Harry--just as something in me corresponds to you and gives you confidence, so it is with me. The other day when I saw you come in to the Black Eagle, exhausted and beside yourself and scarcely in this world any longer, it came to me at once: This man will obey me. All he wants is that I should command him. And that's what I'm going to do. That's why I spoke to you and why we made friends."
She spoke so seriously from a deep impulse of her very soul that I scarcely liked to encourage her. I tried to calm her down. She shook her head with a frown and with a compelling look went on: "I tell you, you must keep your word, my boy. If you don't you'll regret it. You will have many commands from me and you will carry them out. Nice ones and agreeable ones that it will be a pleasure to you to obey. And at the last you will fulfill my last command as well, Harry."
"I will," I said, half giving in. "What will your last command be?"
I guessed it already--God knows why.
She shivered as though a passing chill went through her and seemed to be waking slowly from her trance. Her eyes did not release me. Suddenly she became still more sinister.
"If I were wise, I shouldn't tell you. But I won't be wise, Harry, not for this time. I'll be just the opposite. So now mind what I say! You will hear it and forget it again. You will laugh over it, and you will weep over it. So look out! I am going to play with you for life and death, little brother, and before we begin the game I'm going to lay my cards on the table."
How beautiful she looked, how unearthly, when she said that! Cool and clear, there swam in her eyes a conscious sadness. These eyes of hers seemed to have suffered all imaginable suffering and to have acquiesced in it. Her lips spoke with difficulty and as though something hindered them, as though a keen frost had numbed her face; but between her lips at the corners of her mouth where the tip of her tongue showed at rare intervals, there was but sweet sensuality and inward delight that contradicted the expression of her face and the tone of her voice. A short lock hung down over the smooth expanse of her forehead, and from this corner of her forehead whence fell the lock of hair, her boyishness welled up from time to time like a breath of life and cast the spell of a hermaphrodite. I listened with an eager anxiety and yet as though dazed and only half aware.
"You like me," she went on, "for the reason I said before, because I have broken through your isolation. I have caught you from the very gates of hell and wakened you to new life. But I want more from you--much more. I want to make you fall in love with me. No, don't interrupt me. Let me speak. You like me very much. I can see that. And you're grateful to me. But you're not in love with me. I mean to make you fall in love with me, and it is part of my calling. It is my living to be able to make men fall in love with me. But mind this, I don't do it because I find you exactly captivating. I'm as little in love with you as you with me. But I need you as you do me. You need me now, for the moment, because you're desperate. You're dying just for the lack of a push to throw you into the water and bring you to life again. You need me to teach you to dance and to laugh and to live. But I need you, not today--later, for something very important and beautiful too. When you are in love with me I will give you my last command and you will obey it, and it will be the better for both of us."
She pulled one of the brown and purple green-veined orchids up a little in the glass and bending over stared a moment at the bloom.
"You won't find it easy, but you will do it. You will carry out my command and--kill me. There--ask no more."
When she came to the end her eyes were still on the orchid, and her face relaxed, losing its strain like a flower bud unfolding its petals. In an instant there was an enchanting smile on her lips while her eyes for a moment were still fixed and spellbound. Then she gave a shake of her head with its little boyish lock, took a sip of water, and realizing of a sudden that we were at a meal fell to eating again with appetite and enjoyment.
I had heard her uncanny communication clearly word for word. I had even guessed what her last command was before she said it and was horrified no longer. All that she said sounded as convincing to me as a decree of fate. I accepted it without protest. And yet in spite of the terrifying seriousness with which she had spoken I did not take it all as fully real and serious. While part of my soul drank in her words and believed in them, another part appeased me with a nod and took note that Hermine too, for all her wisdom and health and assurance, had her fantasies and twilight states. Scarcely was her last word spoken before a layer of unreality and ineffectuality settled over the whole scene.
All the same I could not get back to realities and probabilities with the same lightness as Hermine.
"And so I shall kill you one day?" I asked, still half in a dream while she laughed, and attacked her fowl with great relish.
"Of course," she nodded lightly. "Enough of that. It is time to eat. Harry, be an angel and order me a little more salad. Haven't you any appetite? It seems to me you've still to learn all the things that come naturally to other people, even the pleasure of eating. So look, my boy, I must tell you that this is the celebration of the duck, and when you pick the tender flesh from the bone it's a festal occasion and you must be just as eager and glad at heart and delighted as a lover when he unhooks his lady love for the first time. Don't you understand? Oh, you're a sheep! Are you ready? I'm going to give you a piece off the little bone. So open your mouth. Oh, what a fright you are! There he goes, squinting round the room in case anyone sees him taking a bite from my fork. Don't be afraid, you prodigal son, I won't make a scandal. But it's a poor fellow who can't take his pleasure without asking other people's permission."
The scene that had gone before became more and more unreal. I was less and less able to believe that these were the same eyes that a moment before had been fixed in a dread obsession. But in this Hermine was like life itself, one moment succeeding to the next and not one to be foreseen. Now she was eating, and the duck and the salad, the sweet and the liqueur were the important thing, and each time the plates were changed a new chapter began. Yet though she played at being a child she had seen through me completely, and though she made me her pupil there and then in the game of living for each fleeting moment, she seemed to know more of life than is known to the wisest of the wise. It might be the highest wisdom or the merest artlessness. It is certain in any case that life is quite disarmed by the gift to live so entirely in the present, to treasure with such eager care every flower by the wayside and the light that plays on every passing moment. Was I to believe that this happy child with her hearty appetite and the air of a gourmet was at the same time a victim of hysterical visions who wished to die? or a careful calculating woman who, unmoved herself, had the conscious intention of making me her lover and her slave? I could not believe it. No, her surrender to the moment was so simple and complete that the fleeting shadows and agitation to the very depths of the soul came to her no less than every pleasurable impulse and were lived as fully.
Though I saw Hermine only for the second time that day, she knew everything about me and it seemed to me quite impossible that I could ever have a secret from her. Perhaps she might not understand everything of my spiritual life, might not perhaps follow me in my relation to music, to Goethe, to Novalis or Baudelaire. This too, however, was open to question. Probably it would give her as little trouble as the rest. And anyway, what was there left of my spiritual life? Hadn't all that gone to atoms and lost its meaning? As for the rest, my more personal problems and concerns, I had no doubt that she would understand them all. I should very soon be talking to her about the Steppenwolf and the treatise and all the rest of it, though till now it had existed for myself alone and never been mentioned to a single soul. Indeed, I could not resist the temptation of beginning forthwith.
"Hermine," I said, "an extraordinary thing happened to me the other day. An unknown man gave me a little book, the sort of thing you'd buy at a fair, and inside I found my whole story and everything about me. Rather remarkable, don't you think?"
"What was it called," she asked lightly.
"Treatise on the Steppenwolf!"
"Oh, Steppenwolf is magnificent! And are you the Steppenwolf? Is that meant for you?"
"Yes, it's me. I am one who is half-wolf and half-man, or thinks himself so at least."
She made no answer. She gave me a searching look in the eyes, then looked at my hands, and for a moment her face and expression had that deep seriousness and sinister passion of a few minutes before. Making a guess at her thoughts I felt she was wondering whether I were wolf enough to carry out her last command.
"That is, of course, your own fanciful idea," she said, becoming serene once more, "or a poetical one, if you like. But there's something in it. You're no wolf today, but the other day when you came in as if you had fallen from the moon there was really something of the beast about you. It is just what struck me at the time."
She broke off as though surprised by a sudden idea.
"How absurd those words are, such as beast and beast of prey. One should not speak of animals in that way, They may be terrible sometimes, but they're much more right than men."
"How do you mean--right?"
"Well, look at an animal, a cat, a dog, or a bird, or one of those beautiful great beasts in the zoo, a puma or a giraffe. You can't help seeing that all of them are right. They're never in any embarrassment. They always know what to do and how to behave themselves. They don't flatter and they don't intrude. They don't pretend. They are as they are, like stones or flowers or stars in the sky. Don't you agree? "
" Animals are sad as a rule," she went on. " And when a man is sad--I don't mean because he has a toothache or has lost some money, but because he sees, for once in a way, how it all is with life and everything, and is sad in earnest--he always looks a little like an animal. He looks not only sad, but more right and more beautiful than usual. That's how it is, and that's how you looked, Steppenwolf, when I saw you for the first time."
"Well, Hermine, and what do you think about this book with a description of me in it?"
"Oh, I can't always be thinking. We'll talk about it another time. You can give it to me to read one day. Or, no, if I ever start reading again, give me one of the books you've written yourself."
She asked for coffee and for a while seemed absent minded and distraught. Then she suddenly beamed and seemed to have found the clue to her speculations.
"Hullo," she cried, delighted, "now I've got it!"
"What have you got?"
"The fox trot. I've been thinking about it all the evening. Now tell me, have you a room where we two could dance sometimes? It doesn't matter if it's small, but there mustn't be anybody underneath to come up and play hell if his ceiling rocks a bit. Well, that's fine, you can learn to dance at home."
"Yes," I said in alarm, "so much the better. But I thought music was required."
"Of course it's required. You've got to buy that. At the most it won't cost as much as a course of lessons. You save that because I'll give them myself. This way we have the music whenever we like and at the end we have the gramophone in the bargain."
"Of course. You can buy a small one and a few dance records--"
"Splendid," I cried, "and if you bring it off and teach me to dance, the gramophone is yours as an honorarium. Agreed?"
I brought it out very pat, but scarcely from the heart. I could not picture the detested instrument in my study among my books, and I was by no means reconciled to the dancing either. It had been in my mind that I might try how it went for a while, though I was convinced that I was too old and stiff and would never learn now. But to plunge into it all at once seemed a bit too much. As an old and fastidious connoisseur of music, I could feel my gorge rising against the gramophone and jazz and modern dance-music. It was more than anyone could ask of me to have dance tunes that were the latest rage of America let loose upon the sanctum where I took refuge with Novalis and Jean Paul and to be made to dance to them. But it was not anyone who asked it of me. It was Hermine, and it was for her to command, and for me to obey. Of course, I obeyed.
We met at a cafe on the following afternoon. Hermine was there before me, drinking tea, and she pointed with a smile to my name which she had found in a newspaper. It was one of the reactionary jingo papers of my own district in which from time to time violently abusive references to me were circulated. During the war I had been opposed to it and, after, I had from time to time counseled quiet and patience and humanity and a criticism that began at home; and I had resisted the nationalist jingoism that became every day more pronounced, more insane and unrestrained. Here, then, was another attack of this kind, badly written, in part the work of the editor himself and in part stolen from articles of a similar kind in papers of similar tendencies to his own. It is common knowledge that no one writes worse than these defenders of decrepit ideas. No one plies his trade with less of decency and conscientious care. Hermine had read the article, and it had informed her that Harry Haller was a noxious insect and a man who disowned his native land, and that it stood to reason that no good could come to the country so long as such persons and such ideas were tolerated and the minds of the young turned to sentimental ideas of humanity instead of to revenge by arms upon the hereditary foe.
"Is that you?" asked Hermine, pointing to my name. "Well, you've made yourself some enemies and no mistake. Does it annoy you?"
I read a few lines. There was not a single line of stereotyped abuse that had not been drummed into me for years till I was sick and tired of it.
"No," I said, "it doesn't annoy me. I was used to it long ago. Now and again I have expressed the opinion that every nation, and even every person, would do better, instead of rocking himself to sleep with political catchwords about war guilt, to ask himself how far his own faults and negligences and evil tendencies are guilty of the war and all the other wrongs of the world, and that therein lies the only possible means of avoiding the next war. They don't forgive me that, for, of course, they are themselves all guiltless, the Kaiser, the generals, the trade magnates, the politicians, the papers. Not one of them has the least thing to blame himself for. Not one has any guilt. One might believe that everything was for the best, even though a few million men lie under the ground. And mind you, Hermine, even though such abusive articles cannot annoy me any longer, they often sadden me all the same. Two-thirds of my countrymen read this kind of newspaper, read things written in this tone every morning and every night, are every day worked up and admonished and incited, and robbed of their peace of mind and better feelings by them, and the end and aim of it all is to have the war over again, the next war that draws nearer and nearer, and it will be a good deal more horrible than the last. All that is perfectly clear and simple. Anyone could comprehend it and reach the same conclusion after a moment's reflection. But nobody wants to. Nobody wants to avoid the next war, nobody wants to spare himself and his children the next holocaust if this be the cost. To reflect for one moment, to examine himself for a while and ask what share he has in the world's confusion and wickedness--look you, nobody wants to do that. And so there's no stopping it, and the next war is being pushed on with enthusiasm by thousands upon thousands day by day. It has paralyzed me since I knew it, and brought me to despair. I have no country and no ideals left. All that comes to nothing but decorations for the gentlemen by whom the next slaughter is ushered in. There is no sense in thinking or saying or writing anything of human import, to bother one's head with thoughts of goodness--for two or three men who do that, there are thousands of papers, periodicals, speeches, meetings in public and in private, that make the opposite their daily endeavor and succeed in it too."
Hermine had listened attentively.
"Yes," she said now, "there you're right enough. Of course, there will be another war. One doesn't need to read the papers to know that. And of course one can be sad about it, but it isn't any use. It is just the same as when a man is sad to think that one day, in spite of his utmost efforts to prevent it, he will inevitably die. The war against death, dear Harry, is always a beautiful, noble and wonderful and glorious thing, and so, it follows, is the war against war. But it is always hopeless and quixotic too."
"That is perhaps true," I cried heatedly, "but truths like that--that we must all soon be dead and so it is all one and the same--make the whole of life flat and stupid. Are we then to throw everything up and renounce the spirit altogether and all effort and all that is human and let ambition and money rule forever while we await the next mobilization over a glass of beer?"
Remarkable the look that Hermine now gave me, a look full of amusement, full of irony and roguishness and fellow feeling, and at the same time so grave, so wise, so unfathomably serious.
"You shan't do that," she said in a voice that was quite maternal. "Your life will not be flat and dull even though you know that your war will never be victorious. It is far flatter, Harry, to fight for something good and ideal and to know all the time that you are bound to attain it. Are ideals attainable? Do we live to abolish death? No--we live to fear it and then again to love it, and just for death's sake it is that our spark of life glows for an hour now and then so brightly. You're a child, Harry. Now, do as I tell you and come along. We've a lot to get done today. I am not going to bother myself any more today about the war or the papers either. What about you?"
Oh, no, I had no wish to.
We went together--it was our first walk in the town--to a music shop and looked at gramophones. We turned them on and off and heard them play, and when we had found one that was very suitable and nice and cheap I wanted to buy it. Hermine, however, was not for such rapid transactions. She pulled me back and I had to go off with her in search of another shop and there, too, look at and listen to gramophones of every shape and size, from the dearest to the cheapest, before she finally agreed to return to the first shop and buy the machine we first thought of.
"You see," I said, "it would have been as simple to have taken it at once."
"Think so? And then perhaps tomorrow we should have seen the very same one in a shop window at twenty francs less. And besides, it's fun buying things and you have to pay for your fun. You've a lot to learn yet."
We got a porter to carry the purchase home.
Hermine made a careful inspection of my room. She commended the stove and the sofa, tried the chairs, picked up the books, stood a long while in front of the photograph of Erica. We had put the gramophone on a chest of drawers among piles of books. And now my instruction began. Hermine turned on a fox trot and, after showing me the first steps, began to take me in hand. I trotted obediently around with her, colliding with chairs, hearing her directions and failing to understand them, treading on her toes, and being as clumsy as I was conscientious. After the second dance she threw herself on the sofa and laughed like a child.
"Oh! how stiff you are! Just go straight ahead as if you were walking. There's not the least need to exert yourself. Why, I should think you have made yourself positively hot, haven't you? No, let's rest five minutes! Dancing, don't you see, is every bit as easy as thinking, when you can do it, and much easier to learn. Now you can understand why people won't get the habit of thinking and prefer calling Herr Haller a traitor to his country and waiting quietly for the next war to come along."
In an hour she was gone, assuring me that it would go better next time. I had my own thoughts about that, and I was sorely disappointed over my stupidity and clumsiness. It did not seem to me that I had learned anything whatever and I did not believe that it would go better next time. No, one had to bring certain qualities to dancing that I was entirely without, gaiety, innocence, frivolity, elasticity. Well, I had always thought so.
But there, the next time it did in fact go better. I even got some fun out of it, and at the end of the lesson Hermine announced that I was now proficient in the fox trot. But when she followed it up by saying that I had to dance with her the next day at a restaurant, I was thrown into a panic and resisted the idea with vehemence. She reminded me coolly of my oath of obedience and arranged a meeting for tea on the following day at the Balance Hotel.
That evening I sat in my room and tried to read; but I could not. I was in dread of the morrow. It was a most horrible thought that I, an elderly, shy, touchy crank, was to frequent one of those modern deserts of jazz music, a the dansant, and a far more horrible thought that I was to figure there as a dancer, though I did not in the least know how to dance. And I own I laughed at myself and felt shame in my own eyes when alone in the quiet of my study I turned on the machine and softly in stockinged feet went through the steps of my dance.
A small orchestra played every other day at the Balance Hotel and tea and whisky were served. I made an attempt at bribing Hermine, I put cakes before her and proposed a bottle of good wine, but she was inflexible.
"You're not here for your amusement today. It is a dancing lesson.
I had to dance with her two or three times, and during an interval she introduced me to the saxophone player, a dark and good-looking youth of Spanish or South American origin, who, she told me, could play on all instruments and talk every language in the world. This senor appeared to know Hermine well and to be on excellent terms with her. He had two saxophones of different sizes in front of him which he played on by turns, while his darkly gleaming eyes scrutinized the dancers and beamed with pleasure. I was surprised to feel something like jealousy of this agreeable and charming musician, not a lover's jealousy, for there was no question of love between Hermine and me, but a subtle jealousy of their friendship; for he did not seem to me so eminently worthy of the interest, and even reverence, with which she so conspicuously distinguished him. I apparently was to meet some queer people, I thought to myself in ill humor. Then Hermine was asked to dance again, and I was left alone to drink tea and listen to the music, a kind of music that I had never till that day known how to endure. Good God, I thought, so now I am to be initiated, and made to feel at home in this world of idlers and pleasure seekers, a world that is utterly strange and repugnant to me and that to this day I have always carefully avoided and utterly despised, a smooth and stereotyped world of marble-topped tables, jazz music, cocottes and commercial travelers! Sadly, I swallowed my tea and stared at the crowd of second-rate elegance. Two beautiful girls caught my eye. They were both good dancers. I followed their movements with admiration and envy. How elastic, how beautiful and gay and certain their steps!
Soon Hermine appeared once more. She was not pleased with me. She scolded me and said that I was not there to wear such a face and sit idling at tea tables. I was to pull myself together, please, and dance. What, I knew no one? That was not necessary. Were there, then, no girls there who met with my approval?
I pointed out one of the two, and the more attractive who happened at the moment to be standing near us. She looked enchanting in her pretty velvet dress with her short luxuriant blonde hair and her rounded womanly arms. Hermine insisted that I should go up to her forthwith and ask her to dance. I shrank back in despair .
"Indeed, I cannot do it," I said in my misery. "Of course, if I were young and good-looking--but for a stiff old hack like me who can't dance for the life of him--she would laugh at me!"
Hermine looked at me contemptuously.
"And that I should laugh at you, of course, doesn't matter. What a coward you are! Everyone risks being laughed at when he addresses a girl. That's always at stake. So take the risk, Harry, and if the worst come to the worst let yourself be laughed at. Otherwise it's all up with my belief in your obedience...."
She was obdurate. I got up automatically and approached the young beauty just as the music began again.
"As a matter of fact, I'm engaged for this one," she said and looked me up and down with her large clear eyes, "but my partner seems to have got stranded at the bar over there, so come along."
I grasped her and performed the first steps, still in amazement that she had not sent me about my business. She was not long in taking my measure and in taking charge of me. She danced wonderfully and I caught the infection. I forgot for the moment all the rules I had conscientiously learned and simply floated along. I felt my partner's taut hips, her quick and pliant knees, and looking in her young and radiant face I owned to her that this was the first time in my life that I had ever really danced. She smiled encouragement and replied to my enchanted gaze and flattering words with a wonderful compliance, not of words, but of movements whose soft enchantment brought us more closely and delightfully in touch. My right hand held her waist firmly and I followed every movement of her feet and arms and shoulders with eager happiness. Not once, to my astonishment, did I step on her feet, and when the music stopped, we both stood where we were and clapped till the dance was played again; and then with a lover's zeal I devoutly performed the rite once more.
When, too soon, the dance came to an end, my beautiful partner in velvet disappeared and I suddenly saw Hermine standing near me. She had been watching us.
"Now do you see?" she laughed approvingly. "Have you made the discovery that women's legs are not table legs? Well, bravo! You know the fox trot now, thank the Lord. Tomorrow we'll get on to the Boston, and in three weeks there's the Masked Ball at the Globe Rooms."
We had taken seats for the interval when the charming young Herr Pablo, with a friendly nod, sat down beside Hermine. He seemed to be very intimate with her. As for myself, I must own that I was not by any means delighted with the gentleman at this first encounter. He was good-looking, I could not deny, both of face and figure, but I could not discover what further advantages he had. Even his linguistic accomplishments sat very lightly on him--to such an extent, indeed, that he did not speak at all beyond uttering such words as please, thanks, you bet, rather and hallo. These, certainly, he knew in several languages. No, he said nothing, this Senor Pablo, nor did he even appear to think much, this charming caballero. His business was with the saxophone in the jazz-band and to his calling he appeared to devote himself with love and passion. Often during the course of the music he would suddenly clap with his hands, or permit himself other expressions of enthusiasm, such as, singing out "O O O, Ha Ha, Hallo." Apart from this, however, he confined himself to being beautiful, to pleasing women, to wearing collars and ties of the latest fashion and a great number of rings on his fingers. His manner of entertaining us consisted in sitting beside us, in smiling upon us, in looking at his wrist watch and in rolling cigarettes--at which he was an expert. His dark and beautiful Creole eyes and his black locks hid no romance, no problems, no thoughts. Closely looked at, this beautiful demigod of love was no more than a complacent and rather spoiled young man with pleasant manners. I talked to him about his instrument and about tone colors in jazz music, and he must have seen that he was confronted by one who had the enjoyment of a connoisseur for all that touched on music. But he made no response, and while I, in compliment to him, or rather, to Hermine, embarked upon a musicianly justification of jazz, he smiled amiably upon me and my efforts. Presumably, he had not the least idea that there was any music but jazz or that any music had ever existed before it. He was pleasant, certainly, pleasant and polite, and his large, vacant eyes smiled most charmingly. Between him and me, however, there appeared to be nothing whatever in common. Nothing of all that was, perhaps, important and sacred to him could be so for me as well. We came of contrasted races and spoke languages in which no two words were akin. (Later, nevertheless, Hermine told me a remarkable thing. She told me that Pablo, after a conversation about me, had said that she must treat me very nicely, for I was so very unhappy. And when she asked what brought him to that conclusion, he said: "Poor, poor fellow. Look at his eyes. Doesn't know to laugh.")
When the dark-eyed young man had taken his leave of us and the music began again, Hermine stood up. "Now you might have another dance with me. Or don't you care to dance any more?"
With her, too, I danced more easily now, in a freer and more sprightly fashion, even though not so buoyantly and more self-consciously than with the other. Hermine had me lead, adapting herself as softly and lightly as the leaf of a flower, and with her, too, I now experienced all these delights that now advanced and now took wing. She, too, now exhaled the perfume of woman and love, and her dancing, too, sang with intimate tenderness the lovely and enchanting song of sex. And yet I could not respond to all this with warmth and freedom. I could not entirely forget myself in abandon. Hermine stood in too close a relation to me. She was my comrade and sister--my double, almost, in her resemblance not to me only, but to Herman, my boyhood friend, the enthusiast, the poet, who had shared with ardor all my intellectual pursuits and extravagances.
"I know," she said when I spoke of it. "I know that well enough. All the same, I shall make you fall in love with me, but there's no use hurrying. First of all we're comrades, two people who hope to be friends, because we have recognized each other. For the present we'll each learn from the other and amuse ourselves together. I show you my little stage, and teach you to dance and to have a little pleasure and be silly; and you show me your thoughts and something of all you know."
"There's little there to show you, Hermine, I'm afraid. You know far more than I do. You're a most remarkable person--and a woman. But do I mean anything to you? Don't I bore you?"
She looked down darkly to the floor.
"That's how I don't like to hear you talk. Think of that evening when you came broken from your despair and loneliness, to cross my path and be my comrade. Why was it, do you think, I was able to recognize you and understand you?"
"Why, Hermine? Tell me!"
"Because it's the same for me as for you, because I am alone exactly as you are, because I'm as little fond of life and men and myself as you are and can put up with them as little. There are always a few such people who demand the utmost of life and yet cannot come to terms with its stupidity and crudeness."
"You, you!" I cried in deep amazement. "I understand you, my comrade. No one understands you better than I. And yet you're a riddle. You are such a past master at life. You have your wonderful reverence for its little details and enjoyments. You are such an artist in life. How can you suffer at life's hands? How can you despair?"
"I don't despair. As to suffering--oh, yes, I know all about that! You are surprised that I should be unhappy when I can dance and am so sure of myself in the superficial things of life. And I, my friend, am surprised that you are so disillusioned with life when you are at home with the very things in it that are the deepest and most beautiful, spirit, art, and thought! That is why we were drawn to one another and why we are brother and sister. I am going to teach you to dance and play and smile, and still not be happy. And you are going to teach me to think and to know and yet not be happy. Do you know that we are both children of the devil?"
"Yes, that is what we are. The devil is the spirit, and we are his unhappy children. We have fallen out of nature and hang suspended in space. And that reminds me of something. In the Steppenwolf treatise that I told you about, there is something to the effect that it is only a fancy of his to believe that he has one soul, or two, that he is made up of one or two personalities. Every human being, it says, consists of ten, or a hundred, or a thousand souls."
"I like that very much," cried Hermine. "In your case, for example, the spiritual part is very highly developed, and so you are very backward in all the little arts of living. Harry, the thinker, is a hundred years old, but Harry, the dancer, is scarcely half a day old. It's he we want to bring on, and all his little brothers who are just as little and stupid and stunted as he is."
She looked at me, smiling; and then asked softly in an altered voice:
"And how did you like Maria, then?"
"Maria? Who is she?"
"The girl you danced with. She is a lovely girl, a very lovely girl. You were a little smitten with her, as far as I could see."
"You know her then?"
"Oh, yes, we know each other well. Were you very much taken with her?"
"I liked her very much, and I was delighted that she was so indulgent about my dancing."
"As if that were the whole story! You ought to make love to her a little, Harry. She is very pretty and such a good dancer, and you are in love with her already, I know very well. You'll succeed with her, I'm sure."
"Believe me, I have no such aspiration."
"Now you're lying a little. Of course, I know that you have an attachment. There is a girl somewhere or other whom you see once or twice a year in order to have a quarrel with her. Of course, it's very charming of you to wish to be true to this estimable friend of yours, but you must permit me not to take it so very seriously. I suspect you of taking love frightfully seriously. That is your own affair. You can love as much as you like in your ideal fashion, for all I care. All I have to worry about is that you should learn to know a little more of the little arts and lighter sides of life. In this sphere, I am your teacher, and I shall be a better one than your ideal love ever was, you may be sure of that! It's high time you slept with a pretty girl again, Steppenwolf."
"Hermine," I cried in torment, "you have only to look at me, I am an old man!"
"You're a child. You were too lazy to learn to dance till it was nearly too late, and in the same way you were too lazy to learn to love. As for ideal and tragic love, that, I don't doubt, you can do marvelously--and all honor to you. Now you will learn to love a little in an ordinary human way. We have made a start. You will soon be fit to go to a ball, but you must know the Boston first, and we'll begin on that tomorrow. I'll come at three. How did you like the music, by the way?"
"Very much indeed."
"Well, there's another step forward, you see. Up to now you couldn't stand all this dance and jazz music. It was too superficial and frivolous for you. Now you have seen that there's no need to take it seriously and that it can all the same be very agreeable and delightful. And, by the way, the whole orchestra would be nothing without Pablo. He conducts it and puts fire into it."