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The Malady of the Century by Max Nordau

Part 3 out of 8

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"You can feel easy about that," said Schrotter earnestly. "The
disenchantment was quick and complete, and very naturally so. Just
get Schopenhauer's 'objectivity' out of your head; I don't believe
in Plato's theory of the soul divided into two halves which are
forever trying to join again. Every sane man has ten thousand
objects which are able to awaken and return his love. All he has to
do is not to go out of their way."

"Ought not there to be an individual one?"

"I venture to say no. The story of the pine trees of Ritter
Toggenburg, which love the palm trees, is the creation of a
sentimental poet. Lawgivers in India to all appearance believe in
faithfulness unto death; and the widow or even the betrothed follows
her husband to the grave of her own free will. This free-will
offering only comes, however, by aid of the sharpest threatening of
punishment. I have known fourteen-year-old widows who offered
themselves miserably to be burned. If they had known how soon they
would be consoled, and new love sprang up, they would have violently
resisted such suicide! Bhani there is a living example of this,"

As she heard her name she looked up, and Wilhelm intercepted a look
between her and Dr. Schrotter, which all at once made clear to him
what he had vaguely suspected before. He turned his head sadly
toward the window, and looked out into the foggy autumn evening. He
felt almost as if he had committed a crime, in having discovered a
secret which had not been freely revealed to him.



"Es ist eine Lust, in deiser Zeit zu leben!" cried Paul Habor, as he
walked with Wilhelm and Dr. Schrotter on the first sunny day the
following April. They walked under the lindens full of leaf through
the Thiergarten, and home over the Charlottenburger Brucke.

The spirit in which he uttered Hutten's words was at that time
dominant and far-reaching. It seemed as though people were all
enjoying the honeymoon of the new empire; that they breathed peace
and the joy of life with the air, as if the whole nation inhaled the
pleasure of living, the joy of youth and brave deeds, and that they
stood at the entrance of an incomprehensibly great era, promising to
everyone fabulous heights of happiness.

A sort of feverish growth had sprung up in Berlin, an excitement and
ferment which filled the villas in the west end, and the poor
lodging-houses of the other end of the town: was found too in
councilors' drawing-rooms, and in suburban taverns. New streets
seemed to spring up during the night. Where the hoe and rake of
kitchen-gardens were at work yesterday, to-day was the noise of
hammers and saws, and in the middle of the open fields hundreds of
houses raised their walls and roofs to the sky. It seemed as if the
increasing town expected between to-day and to-morrow a hundred
thousand new inhabitants, and were forced to build houses in
breathless haste to shelter them.

And as a matter of fact the expected throng arrived. Even in the
most distant provinces a curious but powerful attraction drew people
to the capital; artisans and cottages, village shopkeepers, and
merchants from small towns, all rushed there like the inflowing
tide. It made one think of a number of moths blindly fluttering
round a candle, or of the magnetic rock of Eastern fairy tales,
irresistibly attracting ships to wreck themselves. It recalled to
one the stories of California at the time of the gold fever.
People's excited imaginations saw a veritable gold-mine in Berlin.
The French indemnity flew to people's heads like champagne, and in a
kind of drunken frenzy every one imagined himself a millionaire.
Some had even seen exhibited a reproduction of the hidden treasure.
The great heap of glittering pieces was certainly there, a tempting
reality, piled up mountains high, millions on millions, craftily
arranged to glitter in the flaring gas-light before their covetous
eyes. The real treasure must be at least as substantial as its
counterfeit. People began to see gold everywhere; red streaks of
gold shone through the window-panes, instead of the warm spring sun;
they heard murmuring chinking streams of gold flowing behind the
walls of their houses, under the pavements of the streets, and every
one hastened to fill their hands, and thirsted for their share in
the subterranean gold whose stream was concealed from their eyes.
While their lips were being moistened by the stream of gold, they
were, as a matter of fact, drinking the transformed flesh and blood
of the heroes who had sacrificed themselves on the French
battlefields, and in this infamous travesty of the Christian mystery
of the Lord's Supper the devil himself took part and possession of
them. They followed new customs, new views of life, other ideals.
The motto of their noisy and obtrusive life seemed to be, "Get rich
as quickly and with as little trouble as possible, and make as much
as possible of your riches when you have secured them, even by
illegitimate means." So the splendid houses rose up in an overloaded
gaudy irregular style of architecture, and the smart carriages with
india-rubber tires rolled by, yielding soft and soothing riding to
their occupants.

Berlin, the sober economical town, the home of honorable families,
extolled for respectability almost to affectation, now learned the
disorderly ways of noisy cafes, the luxury of champagne suppers, in
over-decorated restaurants, became intimately acquainted with the
theaters--gaining doubtful introductions to expensive mistresses.
Mere upstarts set the fashion in dress, in extravagance, and all who
would be elegant, followed, leading the way to barbaric vices. The
old-established inhabitants were many of them weak or silly enough
to try to outdo the newcomers, and degraded the quiet dignity of
their patriarchal manner of life by speculations on the Stock
Exchange. The intelligent middle classes, whose eyes and ears were
filled with this bluster of the gold-orgy, found that their former
way of living had now grown uncomfortable, their houses were too
small, their bread too dry, their beer too common and their views of
life began to climb upward in a measure which, whether they were
willing or equal in talent to it, forced from them harder work and
more dogged perseverance. Political economists and statisticians
were drawn into excitement by their knowledge of figures. They
extolled the sudden crisis in the money market, the easy returns,
the great development of consumption in goods. They quoted
triumphantly the amount of importations, the great increase in silk,
artistic furniture, glass, jewelry, valuable wines, spices,
liqueuers, was called a splendid development of trade; wonderful
evidence of the prosperity of all classes, and an elevation of the
manner of life of the German people. And if moralists failed to see
in these heated desires and idle display, the presence of progress
and blessing, they were called limited Philistines, who were too
feeble-minded to recognize the signs of the times.

The position of the workingman profited by the new condition of
things. Berlin seemed insatiable in her demands for able-bodied
workmen. Hundreds and thousands left the fields and the woods, and
taking their strong arms to the labor market of the capital, found
employment in the factories and the workshops; and the mighty
engines still beat, sucking in as it were the stream of people from
the country. Berlin itself could not contain this influx. The
newcomers were obliged gypsy fashion to put up as best they could in
the neighborhood. In holes and caves on the heaths and commons, in
huts made of brushwood, they bivouacked for months, and these men
who lived like prairie dogs in such apparent misery were merry over
their houseless, wild existence. As a matter of fact they
experienced no actual want, as there was work for every one who
could and would labor. The rewards were splendid, and the
proletariat found that its only possession, viz., the strength of
its muscles, was worth more than ever before. The workingman talked
loudly, and held his head high. Was it the result of having served
in one or more campaigns? Had he in the background of his mind a
vision of dying men and desolate villages, seen so often on the
battlefield? However it was, he became violent and quarrelsome,
indifferent alike to wounding and death, and learned to make use of
the knife like any cutthroat townsman.

With this return to barbarism (an unfailing result with the soldier
after every time of war) went a degree of animal spirits, which made
one ask whether the workman had learned something of epicurean
philosophy. He had the same excited love of tattling as a
thoughtless girl, and the animal love of enjoyment of a sailor after
a long voyage. His ordinary life seemed to him so uninteresting, so
dull, that he tried to give color and charm to it by taking as many
holidays as possible, and making his work more agreeable with
gambling and drinking, and going for loafing excursions about the
neighborhood. Visits to wine and beer-houses and dancing-rooms were
endlessly multiplied, and everything had the golden foundation which
the proverb of an age of simplicity hardly attributed to honorable
handicraft. Profits were squandered in drink; life was a rush and a
riot without end.

But curiously, in the same degree in which the opportunities of work
were increased and wages became higher, life everywhere easier, and
the ordinary enjoyments greater; just so did the workman grow
discontented. Desires increased with their gratification, and envy
measured its own prosperity by the side of the luxury of the
nouveaux riches.

The hand which never before had held so much money, now learned to
clinch itself in hatred against the owner of property, the company
promoter; against all in fact who were not of the proletariat. The
Social Democrat had sprung up ten years before from the circle of
the intelligent political economists and philosophers of the artisan
classes. Since the war they numbered thousands and ten of thousands,
and now began to grow and widen like a moorland fire, at first
hardly perceptible, then betraying through the puff of smoke the
fire creeping along the ground; then a thousand tongues of flame
leap upward, and suddenly sooner or later the whole heath is in a
blaze. Innumerable apostles preaching their turbid doctrines in all
the factories and workshops, found hearers who were discontented and
easily carried away. The social democracy of the workmen was neither
a political nor economical programme which appealed to the
intellect, or could be proved or argued about, but rather an
instinct in which religious mysticism, good and bad impulses, needs,
emotional desires were wonderfully mingled. The men were filled with
enmity against those who had a large share of money; the new faith
dogmatically explained possession of property as a crime--that it
was meritorious to hate the possessor and necessary to destroy him.
They were made discontented with their limited destiny by the sight
of the world and its treasures; the new faith promised them a,
future paradise in the shape of an equal division of goods--a
paradise in which the hand was permitted to take whatever the eye
desired. They were disgusted by the consciousness of their deformity
and roughness, which dragged them down to the lowest rank in the
midst of school learning if not exactly knowledge; of good manners
if not good breeding; the new faith raised them in their own eyes,
declaring that they were the salt of the earth, that they alone were
useful and important parts of humanity; all others who did not labor
with their hands being miserable and contemptible sponges on

The whole proletariat was soon converted to Social Democracy. Berlin
was covered with a network of societies, which became the places of
worship of the new faith. Handbills, pamphlets, newspapers, partly
polemical, partly literary, in which the mob made their statements
and professed their faith stoutly; these, although written very
badly, yet by their monotony, their angry reproaches, their
invocations, reminded one of litanies and psalms.

Wilhelm felt a certain sympathy with the movement. It was first
brought to his notice by a new acquaintance, who had worked with him
in the physical laboratory since the beginning of the year. He was a
Russian, who had introduced himself to the pupils in the laboratory
as Dr. Barinskoi from Charkow. His appearance and, behavior hardly
bore this out. His long thin figure was loosely joined to thin weak
legs. Light blue eyes looked keenly out of a warm grayish-yellow
face; add to these a sharp reddish nose, pale lips, a spare, badly
grown mustache and beard of a dirty color, and slight baldness. His
demeanor was suave and very submissive, his voice had the faltering
persuasiveness which a natural and reasonable man dislikes, because
it warns him that the speaker is lying in wait to take him by
surprise. Barinskoi, beside, never stood upright when he was
speaking to any one. He bent his back, his head hung forward, his
eyes shifted their glance from the points of his own boots to other
people's, his face was crumpled up into a smiling mask, and working
his hands about nervously he crammed so many polite phrases and
compliments into his conversation that he was a terrible bore to all
his acquaintances. Barinskoi, who was an accomplished spy, intended
by his entrance into the laboratory to learn all he could in a
circuitous way of persons and conditions.

After a short observation he noticed that Wilhelm seemed isolated in
the midst of the others, and was treated coldly by every one except
the professor. He learned that this coolness of the atmosphere was
on account of the refusal of the duel. After that he tried every
possible means to get nearer to him. Wilhelm was working in some
important researches, and it was possible that the results would
destroy some existing theories.

The professor followed the experiments with great attention, and
many times spoke of him as his best pupil in difficult work. That was
Barinskoi's excuse for asking Wilhelm if he would initiate him into
his work, and explain to him his hypotheses and methods. He added,
with his submissive smile and nervous rubbing of the hands, that the
Heir Doctor might be quite easy about the priority of his
discoveries, as he was quite prepared to write an explanation that
he stood in the position of pupil to the Heir Doctor, and had only a
share in his discoveries in common with others. Wilhelm contented
himself by replying that priority was nothing to him, and that he
did not work for fame, but because he was ignorant and sought for

Thereupon Barinskoi said he was very happy to have found some one
with the same views as himself, he also thought that fame was
nonsense, that knowledge was the only essential thing, that it gave
power over things and men, that the ideal was to proceed unknown and
unnoticed through life, making the others dance without knowing who
played on the instrument. That was not what Wilhelm meant, but he
let it go without denying it. Barinskoi also tried to claim him for
a fellow-countryman, but Wilhelm stopped him, explaining that he was
a German, although born beyond the frontier of his fatherland. This
slight did not disconcert Barinskoi; he endeavored to produce an
impression on Wilhelm, and if one shut one's eyes to his ugliness
and fawning ways he was a well-informed man; harshness was not in
Wilhelm's nature, so he held out no longer against Barinskoi's
importunity--who very soon accompanied him home from the laboratory,
visited him uninvited in his rooms, invited him to supper at his
restaurant, which Wilhelm twice declined, the third time, however,
he had not the courage to refuse. In spite of this Barinskoi would
not see that his invitation was only accepted out of politeness.
There were many things reserved and unsociable about Barinskoi; for
example, he never invited any one to his rooms. He called for his
letters at the post office. The address he gave, and under which he
was entered at the University office, described him as a newspaper
correspondent, which agreed with his daily readings and writings. He
frequently disappeared for two or three days, after which he emerged
again, as it were, dirtier than before, with reddened, half-closed
eyelids, weak voice, and general bloodless appearance. A conjecture
as to where he was during this time was suggested by a smell of
spirits, beside the fact that students from the laboratory had often
seen him late at night at the corner of the Leipziger and
Friedrichstrasse in earnest consultation with some unhappy creature
of the streets, and that he was often seen haunting remote streets
in the eastern districts in the company of women.

Barinskoi declared he was the correspondent of a large St.
Petersburg paper, and that he made great efforts to remove the
prejudices of Russia against Germany, and to give his readers a
respect for their great neighbors. By chance one day Wilhelm read
the page of Berlin correspondence, and found that from first to last
it was full of poisoned abuse, insult, and calumination of Berlin
and its inhabitants. At the next opportunity he put it before
Barinskoi's eyes without a word. He started a little, but said
directly, quite calmly: Yes, he had read the letter too; naturally
it was not by him; the paper had other correspondents, who hated
Germans, he could do no more than put a stop to their lies, and find
out the reality of their misrepresentations.

Early in this short acquaintance it was clear that Barinskoi was in
constant money difficulties. By his own representations the paper
paid him very irregularly, and the most curious accidents constantly
occurred to prevent the arrival of the expected payments. Once the
money was sent by mistake to the Constantinople correspondent, and
it was six weeks before the oversight was cleared up. Another time a
fellow-writer who was traveling to Berlin undertook to bring the
money with him. On the way he lost the money out of his pocket-book,
and Barinskoi had to wait until he went back to St. Petersburg, to
inquire into the case. By such fool's stories was Wilhelm's
friendship put to the proof. Barinskoi did not stop at borrowing
money occasionally, with sighs and groans, but every few days, often
at a few hours' interval, a new and larger loan would frequently

All this was a dubious method of consolation, and yet Dr. Schrotter,
or rather Paul Haber, decided that though further contact with
Barinskoi must be avoided, he was an object of increasing interest
to Wilhelm. Barinskoi had many ideas in sympathy with his, which he
did not find in others, and their views of society and practical
maxims of life were so much in common that Wilhelm was often puzzled
by this question: "How is it possible that people can draw such
completely different conclusions from the same suppositions by the
same logical arguments? Where is the fatal point where one's ideas
separate--ideas which have so far traveled together?"

Barinskoi thought as Wilhelm did, that the world and its machinery
were mere outward phenomena, a deception of the senses, whose
influence acted as in a delirium. All existing forms of the common
life of humanity, all ordinances of the State or society appeared to
him as foolish or criminal, and at any rate objectionable. He
considered that the object of the spiritual and moral development of
the individual was the deliverance from the restraint, and the
complete contempt of all outward authority.

So far his opinions agreed with Wilhelm's, and then he disclosed the
laws of morality which he had evolved from them.

"The whole world is only an outward phenomenon, and the only reality
is my own consciousness," said Barinskoi; "therefore I see in the
would only myself, live only for myself, and try only to please
myself, I am an extreme individualist. My morality allows me to
gratify my senses by pleasant impressions, to convey to my
consciousness pleasant representations, so as to enjoy as much as
possible. Enjoyment is the only object of my existence, and to
destroy all those who come in the way of it is my right."

Wilhelm wondered whether this frightful code could possibly belong
to the same views of life which, in despising the enjoyment of the
senses, denied desires, demanded the sacrifice of individuality for
the sake of others, and found happiness in the enjoyment of love for
one's neighbors, and in the struggle for human reason over animal

Barinskoi understood Wilhelm's character and saw that he could quite
safely trust to his forbearance and his single-mindedness, so he
made no further secret of the fact that he was a Nihilist and an
Anarchist. When Wilhelm asked him if he imagined what the
realization of his theories meant, he had the answer ready.

"We demand unconditional freedom. Our will shall not be confined by
the will of others, or by oppressive laws. The Parliament is our
enemy as well as the monarch, the tyranny of the autocrat as well as
that of the majority, the coercion of laws of the State, as well as
those of society. We will gather together groups according to their
free choice and inclination out of the fragments of annihilated
society, that is, if we can manage to procure our enjoyment as well
in groups as alone. These groups will unite into larger groups if
the happiness of all demands a larger undertaking than a single
group can secure, such as a great railway, a submarine tunnel, and
the like. In some cases it may be necessary that a whole people, or
even the whole of humanity, should be in one group, but only up to a
certain point, and only until this point is reached. Naturally no
individual is bound to a group, nor one group to another; binding
and loosing go on perpetually, and with the same facility as
molecules in living organisms unite and separate."

Barinskoi occupied himself particularly with the labor questions.
Not that the distress and want of the very poor, the economical
insecurity, the general misery, troubled him at all. He was
cynically conscious that he was as indifferent to the laborer as to
the capitalist; the laborer's inevitable brutalization, his hunger,
his bad health, and short term of life touched him as little as the
gout of the rich gourmand, or the nerves of fine ladies. He saw,
however, in the proletariat a powerful army against prevailing
conditions. He could trace among the discontented masses the
possession of the crude vigor which the Nihilists wanted, to crush
the old edifices of the State and society, and it was this which
interested him in the movement and its literature. He knew the last
accurately, and initiated Wilhelm into it, and so the latter learned
all about socialism, its opinions of the philosophy of production,
its theories and promises. He learned also that sects had already
been formed within this new faith, which the revelations of the
socialistic prophets explained differently; and that they furiously
hated each other, and were as much at enmity as if they were a State
Church with a privileged priesthood, benefices, property and power.

The complaints of the proletariat appeared to Wilhelm of doubtful
value. In every age there were economic fevers, which were not
caused by misery, but by discontent and wastefulness, and if he saw
a workman staggering through the streets, his legs tottering beneath
him, he guessed that his weakness was not caused by hunger, but by
beer or spirits. He understood that mankind believed in an unbroken
work of development within nature, and in their own self-
cultivation. The theory of socialistic teaching, namely, the
conditions of production and distribution, could be constantly
remodeled just as other human institutions, i.e. the customs of
governments and societies, the laws, ideas of beauty and morality,
knowledge of nature, and views of society. His sympathies went out
to those who were convinced that the present economical organization
had lived out its time, and were endeavoring to remove it.

Wilhelm's friends interested themselves warmly in this new sphere of
thought. Paul was a member of the National Liberal Election Society,
and was enthusiastic about Bennigsen and Lasker, who possessed
enough statesmanlike wisdom to surrender fearlessly to the
opposition, and determine to go with the government. To these
present experiences Dr. Schrotter joined the half-forgotten training
of '48, and agreed to belong to a society of the district; he had
soon an official appointment, and placed his experience and
knowledge at the disposal of the sick and poor of the town. He did
not interest himself at first in political strife. He was very
uneasy about the turn things were taking, and considered that it was
not right to rebel against the existing conditions of things, which
to the majority of people were agreeable enough.

"You have fought and bled for the new empire," he said; "I left it
while I was in India to get on as best it could; if the others think
themselves well off, I don't see why they should not have the
satisfaction of the results of their work, just because of the sulky
temper of criticism."

Wilhelm had often taken one or other of them to his society, but
without their being much interested in the meetings. One day he
asked his friend whether he would not go with him to a social
democratic meeting. Schrotter was quite prepared, as he saw that
Wilhelm was really in earnest, and was trying to come in contact
with the realities of life. Paul abominated the social democrats,
but he sacrificed himself to spend an hour there with Wilhelm.

The meeting they were to attend was at the Tivoli. It was a
disagreeable evening in April, with gusts of wind and frequent
showers. The sky was full of clouds chasing each other in endless
succession, the flames of gas flickered and flared, and the streets
were covered with mud which splashed up under the horses' feet. The
three friends went in spite of bad weather to the Tivoli on foot. In
the Belle Alliance Strasse they came upon groups of workmen going in
the same direction as themselves, and as they reached the place in
the Lichterfelder Strasse, they were accompanied by a long stream of
people. At the entrance to the club they found themselves in the
midst of a crowd, and could only advance very slowly unless, like
the others, they pushed and elbowed their way. Mounting a few steps
they reached an enormous garden, lighted by the fitful beams of the
moon as she emerged from the clouds, and a few gaslamps. On the
right was a Gothic building, which would have been sufficiently
handsome if built in stone, but with barbarous taste had been
executed in wood. At the end of the garden some more steps led to a
broad, four-cornered courtyard, on the right of which the iron spire
of the National Memorial was dimly visible, while to the left was a
large building of red and yellow brick with a four-square tower at
either end, a pavilion projecting from the center, and a number of
large windows. Over the entrance in the center of the building was
the inscription in gold letters on a blue ground:

"Gemesst im edeln Geistensaft
Des Wemes Geist, des Brodes Kraft"

In the little anteroom a few sharp-looking, rather conceited young
men were standing, either the instigators or organizers of the
meeting. They eyed the people who came in with a quick look of
assurance, offering a pamphlet, which nearly every one bought.
Through this anteroom was the hall, large enough to hold a thousand
people comfortably. Several tables for beer stood between red-
covered pillars which supported the ceiling, and on the right was a
platform for the speakers. Wilhelm, Schrotter, and Paul Haber found
places not far from this, although the hall was soon filled up after
they came in.

Wilhelm's first impression was not favorable. He had bought a
pamphlet at the door, and in it he read foolish jokes, clumsy
tirades against capitalists, and drearily silly verses. If the party
possessed quick and cultivated writers, they had certainly not been
employed on this leaflet. His finer senses were as shocked at the
meeting as his taste was at the pamphlet. Mingled odors of tobacco-
smoke, beer, human breath, and damp clothes filled the air; the
people at the tables had an indescribably common stamp, unlovely
manners, harsh, loud voices, and unattractive faces. They gossiped
and laughed noisily, and coarse expressions were frequent. The
earnest moral tone, the almost gloomy melancholy which Wilhelm had
found so attractive in socialistic writings, was absent, and it
seemed to him as if the new doctrine in its removal from the
enthusiast's study to the beer-tables of the crowd had lost all
nobility, and had sunk to degradation.

Paul took no trouble to conceal the disgust which "this dirty
rabble" gave him. He gazed contemptuously about him, and every time
that one of his neighbors' elbows came near his coat he brushed the
place angrily, and muttered half-aloud:

"Well, if I were the government I would jolly soon stop your

Dr. Schrotter, on the other hand, found the sight of the crowd
rekindle in him all the feeling of sentiment he had had for the old
democrats; he felt his heart overflow with pity and tenderness. With
his physician's eyes he pierced through the brutal physiognomies,
and observed them with kindness and sympathy, making his friends
attentive too.

"One of the martyrs of work," he said gently, indicating a haggard
man sitting at the next table who had lost one eye.

"How do you know that?"

"He must be a worker in metal, and has had a splinter in one of his
eyes. He had the injured eye removed to save the other."

Here was a baker with pale face and inflamed eyelids, coughing
badly--consumptive, in consequence of the dust from the flour--his
eyes affected by the heat of the oven. Here was a man who had lost a
finger of his left hand--the victim of a cloth loom; and here a
pallid-looking man, showing when he spoke or laughed slate-colored
gums--a case of lead-poisoning, with a painful death as the
inevitable result. And it seemed as if over all these cripples and
sickly people the Genius of Work hovered as the black angel of
Eastern stories, tracing on their foreheads with his brush--on this
one mutilation, on this one an early death. Schrotter's observations
and explanations placed the whole meeting in a different light to
Wilhelm. The coarseness of the men, even the dirt on their hands and
faces, touched him like a reproach, and in their jokes and laughter
he seemed to hear a bitter cry.

A reproach, a complaint against whom? Against the capitalists, or
against inexorable fate? Wilhelm asked himself whether the
conditions of labor were attributable to men, or were not the result
of cruel necessity? Could the capitalist be responsible for the
accidents of machines, the dust from flour, the splitting of iron?
If these workmen had not been one-eyed or consumptive could they
have performed their work for the commonweal? Was it not true that
if mankind would not renounce its claims to bread and other
necessities, it must pay for the satisfaction of wants with the
tribute of health and life? that every comfort, every pleasure added
to existence was paid for by human sacrifice? that the masks of
tragedy worn at this meeting were merely the corporate expressions
of a law which united development and progress with pain and
destruction? In this case the whole socialist programme was
manifestly wrong, and the sum of the workman's grievances was not
the result of the economical arrangements of society, but of the
eternal conditions of civilization, that the theory of the methods
of labor and their amelioration was not the expectation of an equal
division of property, but rather of the contrivances of the

While Wilhelm was absorbed in these reflections the first speaker of
the evening appeared on the platform, a little dapper man, restless
as quicksilver, with long hair, large mouth, and a shrill voice. He
opened the meeting with an extraordinary volubility, in a whirl of
pantomimic gesture and excitement, violently denouncing the
capitalists; "infamous bloodsuckers" as he called them. He painted
hopelessly confused pictures, with constant faults of grammar--of
the hard fate of the workingman, and the black treachery of the
property-owning classes. They were slaveowners who paid them their
daily wages by shearing the wool off their backs, and enjoyed
riotous luxury themselves while the poor destitute ones were
engulfed in a chasm of misery. The workman must possess the fruit of
his labor himself, like the bird in the air, or the fish in the
water. He who produced nothing was a parasite, and deserved to be
extirpated; he was only a drag, consequently a poison for the rest
of mankind. The Commune in Paris was the first signal of warning for
the thieves of society. Soon the great flood would burst forth which
would carry away all thieves and tyrants, usurers and bloodsuckers,
and the workingmen must be united and get their weapons ready. Unity
was strength, and to allow themselves to be fleeced by these hyenas
of capitalism was an insult to any free, thoughtful man.

He went on in this style for about half an hour, during which time
the words came out in a constant stream without a moment's pause.
Schrotter's expression became sad, while Paul banged the table with
his mug and cried "Bravo" at every grammatical mistake, or every
false analogy. Angry glances were cast at him from neighboring
tables, as in his applause was recognized contempt for the speaker
whom they admired so much. No one laughed or joked, all were silent
to the end; at every violent expression of the long-haired Saxon,
eyes flashed, heads nodded approval, and feet stamped excitedly. So
eagerly did the meeting drink in this excited orator's words that
they quite forgot to drink their beer, and the waiter, bringing in a
fresh supply, had to go out again with an exclamation of surprise.

When the speaker had finished and resumed his seat, Schrotter and
Paul, to their immense surprise, saw Wilhelm spring to his feet in
the midst of all the stamping and applause and go to the platform.
What was that for? He went up and began to speak in an undertone to
the organizers of the meeting. They put their heads together,
looking at the card Wilhelm had given them; then one of them rose,
and coming to the front of the platform, shouted so as to be heard
above the clamor:

"True to our principles of listening to opponents, we are going to
allow a guest to speak: it is not part of the programme, but no
citizen shall have cause to complain that his mouth has been

Any one could understand what this meant, as Wilhelm stood alone in
the middle of the platform and waited with folded arms for silence
and attention. His dark eyes looked straight at his audience, and he
began in his clear, quiet voice: "What you all feel in this meeting
is discontent with your fate, and a wish to improve it. I do not
believe, however, that the honored speaker before me has shown you a
way which will bring you any nearer to your desires. You wish that
the State shall nurse you in sickness, and provide for you in old
age. What is the State? It is yourselves. The State has nothing but
what you give it. If it provides for you in sickness and old age, it
takes the money out of your own pockets. You do not want the State
for that. In days of health and strength you could yourselves lay
aside spare money for bad times without the services of gendarmes,
or assistance of executors. The last speaker spoke of hatred for the
owners of property, hatred of profit. Hatred is a painful feeling.
It adds to the pain of existence another, and very likely a greater
one. A soul in which the poison of hate is at work is heavy and sad,
and can never feel happiness. If you would not burden your lives
with hatred it might be possible that you would become happy."

A murmur arose in the meeting, and a voice in opposition called out
loudly. "The fellow is a Jesuit." "Parson's talk," cried another
from the corner of the room. Wilhelm took no notice of the
interruption, but went on.

"Why do you object to the owners of property? On account of their
idleness? That is not just. Many of them work much harder than all
of you, and bear a weight of responsibility which would kill most of
you. But suppose we grant that many rich people waste their lives
doing nothing. Instead of envying these unhappy people, I pity them
from the bottom of my heart. I would prefer death a thousand times
to life without duty and work."

The murmur grew stronger and more threatening.

"I wish," cried Wilhelm, raising his voice, "I wish I were rich and
powerful. Then I would invite those who scorn my words now, to live
quite idly for a year or six months. I would take care that no
employment was possible for them, that their days and weeks should
be quite empty. Then they would see how soon they would raise
imploring hands to those who had condemned them to idleness. Neither
guards nor walls would keep them to the softly-cushioned golden-
caged prison of indolence, they would fly as if for their lives, and
go back to the place where their work was, which they had previously
thought like hell."

"Let us see if we would," cried some with contemptuous laughter.

"In what has the rich man the advantage of you? He lives better, you
say. He can procure more enjoyments for himself. Are you sure that
these so-called enjoyments bring happiness? Your healthy hunger
makes your bread and cheese taste better than the rich dishes at
noblemen's tables, and the suffering which fills every life is more
bitter in the western villa than in the workingman's back room,
because there they have more leisure to endure it in, and every
fiber of the soul has its own torture."

"What do you get for defending the rich man?" called a voice from
the hall.

"I am telling you the penalty of property. You must be just in
everything. Granted that the rich man is a criminal; granted his
idleness is an offense to your activity; granted that his roast meat
and wine make your potatoes taste insipid; it is in the order of
things that you should envy him. But what comes out of this envy?
Let us admit that you could carry through anything you undertook.
The rich man would be plundered and even killed, and his treasures
divided between you. We forget that the rich man is human; we deny
him the mercy which the poor man claims from his fellowmen; we take
up the position that to reduce a rich man to beggary is not the same
injustice as to profit by the work of a poor man; we enjoy the idea
of the rich man, hungry and shivering, when at the same time the
hungry shivering poor man has become our pretext for robbing the
other. Do you believe that you would then have improved your lot in
life? Do you think that you would be any happier? Just think it over
for a moment. The rich people are exterminated, their goods are
divided among you; you are already making a discovery, viz., that
the wealthy people are in a very small minority, hardly one in two
hundred, and that the division of their whole property amounts to
very little for each of you. But suppose, for the sake of argument,
that you all become rich. What then? You throw away your working
clothes and dress yourselves in silk; you deck yourselves with
silver and gold ornaments, and you sit on soft-cushioned sofas.
Think how long these luxuries would last--a month perhaps, at the
most a year. Then the rich man's wine is all drunk, and his larder
empty, the silk clothes are worn out, and the sofas torn; you cannot
eat precious stones and gold, and if you do not mean to starve you
must begin working again, and after the extermination of the rich
man and the division of his property you are exactly in the position
you were in before."

He paused a moment or two, in which there was silence for the first
time, and then went on:

"This all means that your bondage is not laid on you by man, but by
Nature herself. Life is hard and wearisome, and no laws or orders of
State or society can make it otherwise. The simple minds of men
understood this a thousand years ago, and they did not rest until
they had found out a reason for everything, so they sought through
the authors of the Jewish Bible for a reasonable explanation of our
mournful destiny on this earth, and comforted themselves with the
assertion that mankind was atoning for the sins of its forefathers.
You, the sons of the nineteenth century, do not believe in this any
longer, but see in the system of profits and the injustice of our
social conditions the causes of your misery. Your explanation is,
however, fully as much a fabrication as the Biblical one. Pain and
death are the conditions of our existence, and for that reason
cannot be done away with. If a miracle could happen, and you could
all be happy in the way you wish, namely, living your life without
work, without suffering, and with a great deal of enjoyment, what
would happen then? The race would increase so fast that after one or
two generations there would hardly be elbow-room, and bread would be
as scarce as it is now. It is the difficulty of providing for
children which limits the population, and this difficulty fixes the
limit. Understand this too, do what you will, you can only procure
momentary relief, and every relief procured means an increase of
population. Whatever your methods of labor are, however the fruits
of it are distributed, you will never produce up to the satisfaction
of your wants; and the sweat of your brow will always be in vain if
you set yourself against the hostile forces of nature."

Wilhelm paused a moment in the deep stillness which now reigned in
the hall, and then went on:

"I do not deny that your lives are troublesome and hard, but I
believe that you make your pain unnecessarily difficult to bear, and
add to it by imagination. You feel your lot to be hard because you
see rich people, who in the distance appear to you to be happy. I
have already told you that the rich are an exception, and that the
world cannot guarantee the existence of a millionaire of to-day for
long. At most you can make the few rich men poor, but you cannot
make all the poor men rich. But why compare yourselves with such
people? Why not with those who have gone before us? Look back, and
you will find that your lives are not only easier but very much
richer than the generations who have gone before you. The poorest
among you live better, quieter, and pleasanter lives than a well-to-
do man a thousand years ago, or than a prince of primitive times.
You complain that your labor is hard and unhealthy? You live longer,
in better health, and freer from anxiety than the huntsman,
fisherman, or warrior of the barbarous ages. What you most suffer
from is your hatred, not your need, your ambitions, your envy. Men
can live healthily and happily on water, but you will have beer and
brandy. You earn enough to buy meat and vegetables, but you will
have tobacco for yourselves and finery for your wives, and that
cannot go on. Your daily bread might taste well enough, but it
becomes bitter in your mouths when you think of the millionaire's
roast meat. Struggle then against this envy which spoils the
smallest enjoyments for you, and which in point of fact rules your
lives, and do not try to find happiness in the satisfaction of
requirements artificially created. Do not live for the satisfaction
of your palates, but rather for the improvement of intellect and
feeling. There is enough pain and misery in the world, do not add
hatred to it. Have the same mercy for other creatures which you
expect for yourself. Trouble and danger are common to all. Things
are only bearable if all combine to pull together, if the strong
join hands with the weak and the hopeful with the timid. You will
not be healed by envy and hatred, or by the goading on of your
desires, but by love, by forbearance, by self-sacrifice, and

This closing sentence was not to his hearers' taste. Disapprobation
and ominous sounds greeted him as he came down from the platform.
"Amen," said one scornfully; "A Psalm," said another; "Get thee to a
nunnery, Ophelia," cried a wit; while loud cries of "Turn him out,"
were heard. "Pearls before swine," muttered Paul; while Schrotter
pressed his hand and said: "You are right."

The noise grew louder, and then a new speaker appeared on the
platform, this time evidently a cultivated, thoughtful man and an
adroit speaker. The organizers of the evening were unwilling to
allow the meeting to retain the impression of Wilhelm's speech, and
had placed a clever opponent to follow him, who said clearly and
concisely that the speaker before him might be a friend of mankind,
but he was certainly an enemy of culture, because the progress of
civilization was always the result of new requirements and the
seeking of their fulfillment, and if men limited their wants or
denied them altogether, mankind would be brought back to the
condition of savages or wild beasts. The progress of culture
depended on the awakening of requirements and their satisfaction,
and not in limiting or renouncing them. The love of mankind might be
a very beautiful thing, but the speaker ought not to come and preach
to the poor, who held together and helped each other without his
advice. Let him go and preach to the rich, for whom he seemed to
feel so much pity and tenderness. Why should the minority attract
to itself the existing means of life, and leave the majority to
starve, as the capitalists did now? why should the provisions not be
divided between all, so that the whole community should have a part?

Paul had wished to leave when Wilhelm had finished, but the latter
waited out of politeness to hear his opponent speak, and when the
speaker had ended in a storm of applause, the three friends left the
meeting. When they were outside, Dr. Schrotter said to Wilhelm:

"Do you know that you are a first-rate speaker? You have everything
that is necessary for moving a crowd in the highest degree."

"Hardly that, I think."

"Certainly, I mean it: a noble appearance, a voice which goes to the
heart, remarkable calmness and assurance, uncommon command of
language, and an idealistic earnestness which would move all the
better spirits among your audience. You have shown us to-night the
road you ought to take. You must devote your gift to speaking in
public, you must endeavor to become a deputy. If you fail in this,
you will sin against our people."

"Bravo! I had already thought of that," cried Paul.

"A deputy--never," said Wilhelm. "If I spoke well to-day it was
because I was sorry for the poor, ignorant men who listened to the
silly talk of a fool as if it were a revelation from Mount Sinai,
but I could never presume to have any influence in Parliament or in
the fate of governments."

"And so you call what is every citizen's duty 'presumption,'"

"Forgive me, doctor, if I say I do not believe that. Only those who
are acquainted with the laws and their development should have
anything to do with the nation's destiny. But only a few isolated
individuals know these laws, and I am not one of them."

"Do you think that the government know them?"

"Oh, no."

"And yet the government does not hesitate to rule the people's
destiny according to their intelligence."

"It reminds me of the poet's expression, 'Du glaubst zu schieben und
du wirst geschoben.'"

"What is the movement that you mean?"

"An unknown inner organic force which defines all the expressions of
life, of single individuals and united societies alike. It develops
as a tree grows. No single individual can add anything to it or take
away from it, no single individual can hasten or retard the
development or give it any direction."

"In one word--the philosophy of the Unknown."

"That is so."

"Very good, and if a government oppresses a people, robs them of
their freedom, perpetually finds fault with them and ill-treats
them, they must bear it quietly, and comfort themselves by the
thought that the government is controlled by the infallible, all-
powerful Unknown."

"Rob them of their freedom? No government can rob me of my spiritual
freedom. Freedom rules continually in my mind, and no tyrant has the
power of subduing my thoughts."

"You make a great mistake there," said Dr. Schrotter gravely. "From
you, Dr. Wilhelm Eyuhardt, no gendarme certainly can take away your
freedom, because you are mature, and your opinions of things are
settled. But a tyrannical government can hinder your children from
succeeding to your freedom of mind. It can teach lies and
superstitions in the schools, and compel you to send your children
there. It can set an example of public morality which can demoralize
a whole people. It can draw up manifest examples of miserable
intentions and conduct of life, through whose imitation a people
voluntarily mutilates itself or commits suicide. No, no; it does not
do to limit oneself to oneself, and to struggle upward for one's
individual spiritual freedom. One must go out of oneself. What does
it matter if one makes mistakes? It is true, as you say, that no
single individual knows the whole of truth; but every individual
possesss a fragment of it, and altogether we have the whole. Look at
India, there you have existing what we should become if we all
followed your philosophy, they live in their own spiritual world,
and are indifferent to any other, they endure first the despotism of
their own government, then a foreign conqueror, and finally lose not
only freedom and independence, but civilization, and become not
exactly slaves, but ignorant, superstitious barbarians."

"The German people will not get to that," said Wilhelm, smiling.

"Thank the men for that," cried Schrotter, "the men who think it
their duty to take part in the welfare of their country, and to
exert themselves for the spiritual freedom of others. An energetic
sympathy with public affairs is a form of love for one's neighbor.
Say that constantly to yourself, without letting yourself be
deceived by the hypocrite who handles politics as others do the
Stock Exchange, merely to make profit out of them."

While they talked they had arrived at Schrotter's house door. It
was nearly midnight, and had stopped raining, and all the houses
except Schrotter's were dark. Light shone from the two windows of
his Indian drawing room, and one of the curtains was drawn aside a
little, leaving a face clearly visible. It was Bhani, who was
waiting patiently for Schrotter's return, and gazing eagerly down
the street. As the three friends stopped at the door the head
disappeared, and the curtain fell back again into its place.



The feverish pulse of a city is not felt in the same degree in all
parts of it. There are places from which all circulation seems shut
out, and where the rapid stream of life hardly shows a ripple. Quiet
houses are there, only separated from the noisy street by the
thickness of a wall. They seem to be many miles from the heated
movement of life, and their inhabitants complacently gaze from their
windows with the same unconcern as they would look at a picture on
their own walls--a view perhaps of violence or excitement, a storm
at sea, or a battle.

The Markers' house in the Lutzowstrasse was just such a peaceful
island in the tossing sea of the city. It was only a few steps from
the Magdeburger Platz--the first story in a stately house with a
round arch over the door. Three generations of women--grandmother,
mother, and daughter--lived there, without a single man to take care
of them, attended only by an old widowed cook and her daughter, who
had grown up into the position of a waiting maid. A dreamy,
monotonous life they lived here, like that of the sleepers in the
palace of the Sleeping Beauty behind their hundred-year-old hedge of

The grandmother was the head of the house--Frau Brohl, a lady of
over sixty years, and a widow for the last twenty. She was a small
thin woman, her figure very much bent, with snow-white hair, a
narrow, pale face, and pretty brown eyes. She moved slowly and with
great exertion, spoke softly and with shortness of breath, and
seemed weary and sad. She looked as if she had some hidden sickness,
and as if her feeble lamp of life might soon flicker out. As a
matter of fact she had never had a day's illness; her appearance
gave the impression of weakness, and increasing age made her neither
better nor worse. Even now she was the first to rise in the morning
and the last to go to bed; had the best appetite at table; and, in
her occasional walks, was the least tired.

Her late husband--Herr F. A. Brohl, of the firm of Brohl, Son & Co.-
-had been one of the largest ship-brokers in Stettin. They had lived
together for a quarter of a century in peace and happiness, and her
eyes filled with tears when she remembered that part of her life. It
was a beautiful time, much too good for a sinful human being. They
had a house to themselves, with large high rooms, and every day she
received visits from the richest women of the town, and visited them
in return. There was never a betrothal, marriage, or christening in
a well-known family to which she was not invited; every child in the
street knew her and smiled at her; and the suppers in her hospitable
house were renowned as far as Russia and Sweden.

The marriage was blessed by one daughter, who grew up to be a rather
pretty, well-mannered, and well-grown girl. Her horizon stretched
from the storeroom to the linen-press, and from the flatiron to her
book of songs. She felt a high esteem for her father--just as
everyone does for a rich man--and for her mother, if hardly love, at
least a boundless respect. She regarded her as almost more than
human, and the care with which she listened to her mother's
instructions into the secrets of the kitchen, the market, and the
linen-room, was almost unnatural. She was afraid she would never
attain to the fluctuations of price in the fish market in different
seasons of the year, the starching of muslins, the time it took to
cook a pudding, and how much sugar went to a pot of preserved fruit;
and her mother destroyed the last remnant of self-confidence when
half-pityingly, half-contemptuously she told her that she was not
sufficiently developed to understand such things. When Fraulein
Brohl was old enough, her parents married her to Herr Marker. It was
hardly a love match, but in Brohl, Son & Company's house such folly
as love was not considered. Herr Marker was the son of a wholesale
coffee-merchant, and was neither handsome nor distinguished-looking;
he was small, thin, bandy-legged, with an unwholesome complexion, a
peevish expression, and almost bald-headed.

Herr F.A. Brohl soon found that he had made a mistake, and been in
too great a hurry. The old Marker lost his fortune in an unlucky
speculation during the Crimean War, and was only saved by Brohl from
the shame of bankruptcy. He died soon afterward of grief, and left
his son nothing but debts. The young Marker showed no special genius
for the coffee business, but an uncomfortable ambition for
speculation in stocks. He opened an exchange office, and entered
into transactions with the Exchanges of Berlin, Frankfort, and
Amsterdam, and after a short time the last penny of his wife's dowry
disappeared. His father-in-law dipped into his pockets and renewed
the dowry, but stipulated that Marker in the future should ask his
advice before any undertaking. This Marker felt as a deep
humiliation, and rather than submit to Brohl's tyranny, preferred to
loaf all day with his hands in his pockets at the Exchange, and
shortened the evenings by going to the club, and boring people with
endless stories of the meanness and thick-headedness of his cad of a
father-in-law, who in his old-fashioned, narrow-minded Philistinism
had not the least capacity for any great undertakings.

Brohl died soon after, and Marker experienced a new and painful
sensation. His wife did not inherit a penny by her father's will,
his whole property under limited conditions going to the widow. This
was specially arranged for by Brohl to prevent Marker from laying
his hands on more capital. He shook his fist at the opening of the
will, and broke out into unseemly abuse; he went all over Stettin,
and cried out that he was robbed, that the old rascal had plundered
him. To his wife and mother-in-law he also talked day after day and
night after night, saying how shamefully he had been treated, and
that it was his mother-in-law's duty to make good the mistake. Frau
Marker could not endure this perpetual grumbling and badgering, and
Frau Brohl became weak with not only her son-in-law but her daughter
constantly at her ear. She consented to give him a large sum to put
him into a new business, which he described as having a brilliant
and unfailing future, and after a great deal of begging and worrying
she at length brought herself to the far greater sacrifice of a
removal to Berlin, that Marker might have a greater sphere for his
energies. So the stately house in the Frauenstrasse with its lofty
rooms was abandoned, and exchanged for the small flat in Berlin.

The departure from Stettin was a miserable one. It was desperate
work packing the thousand things which had gathered together during
the quarter of a century in careless profusion. It was heart-
breaking to be obliged to leave behind the stores of wood, coal, and
potatoes in the cellar, the cranberry jam in the storeroom, which
the Markers, in their grandeur of ideas, did not think worth the
trouble of taking with them! And the farewell visits to the rich
friends, in whose family festivals she would never more take part;
and the last visit to the Jacobkirche, where she would never more go
on Sundays and meet her intimate friends, for whose benefit she wore
the family ornaments, and the stiff silk dress. There were many
tears and sobs, but the cup was drained like the others; and Marker
began his new life in the Lutzowstrasse with his wife, his mother-
in-law, and the little Malvine, who was the only child of their

At first things went on pretty well. Frau Brohl often had tears in
her eyes when looking at the familiar furniture in her room, which
had been designed for a house three times as large, and she would
rather have sacrificed one of her hands than one of her old sofas or
tables. But Marker was gay as he had never been before, and full of
wonderful stories of the future importance of his firm, astounding
both the women, and even making them respect him, which feeling had
never before influenced them. He had an office in the Burgstrasse,
near the Exchange, shared by other young men, and came home every
day with new reports of the wonderful business he was doing.

A day came, however, when he had no news to tell them, when his
complexion was as yellow as ever, his eyes avoided the questioning
glances of his mother-in-law, and after playing at concealment for a
whole week, he was at last forced to tell them that he had again
lost all his money. He hastened to add, however, that every thing
could be saved if the mother would once more set him on his feet; in
every new undertaking one had to pay something for learning; he had
hardly understood his position so far, but now he knew what he was
about, he must be contented with modest profits. Frau Brohl made a
fresh sacrifice, giving Marker his position in business again after
six months. He had hardly the courage to come home with new plans,
but used to steal in quietly like a shadow on the wall, sit down at
table with a heart-breaking sigh, sulked with the women, and often
was heard talking to himself in this fashion: "This is no sort of
life. If women hold the cards, stupidity is trumps. The woman in the
kitchen, the man in business," and so on. Finally the thing happened
which Frau Brohl had foreseen with anxiety--Marker came with a new
project, for which he wanted fifty thousand thalers. It was an
entirely new idea, unheard of before; it couldn't miscarry, it must
bring in a hundred thousand; with one stroke all the former losses
would be retrieved. Then he stopped talking, and showed yards of
figures, read aloud letters of advice, and went on reading and
talking and crackling papers for an hour to Frau Brohl, following
her from the drawing-room into the kitchen, from the kitchen back to
the drawing-room; and when she took refuge in her bedroom, he read
to her through the door. However, it was no good, and Frau Brohl
stood firm. Then Marker tried a new method. He was argumentative
before, now he became tragic; he threatened to throw himself out of
the window, to become dangerously ill, to go away and never be heard
of again. He left half-finished letters on his writing-table, in
which he announced his death to his acquaintances, laying the blame
on his wife and mother-in-law; in short, poor Frau Brohl, whose
existence had become a veritable hell, with a heavy heart put her
hand once more into her pocket, and gave Marker what he wanted.

Everything now went on as smoothly and merrily as before. After a
few weeks Marker again lost everything, and seemed so upset that he
stayed away all day without coming home. At last he appeared again,
and hesitatingly, with a timid expression, begged for forgiveness.
"Very well," said Frau Brohl, "only I hope you will not begin all
over again." Her hopes were not realized. The spirit of speculation
had too strong a hold over Marker to be kept back. After he had
remained quiet for about a year, he actually had the effrontery to
ask his mother-in-law for more capital. But this time she was like a
rock. "Not a penny," said Frau Brohl, and kept her word. Marker
wept, and she let him weep; he talked of suicide, and she advised
him to use a rope, as he did not understand the use of firearms. He
had run through half her money, and the other half she meant to
defend like a lioness. The specter of poverty rose up before her,
she reflected that rich people would cast her out of their society,
and look upon her as a weak woman without any self-respect,
conquered by Marker's tenacity.

There were no more storms after this, and peace reigned in the
tightly-crammed flat in the Lutzowstrasse, but it was peace which
concealed a great deal of grumbling and sulkiness. Marker very
seldom spoke, and his obstinate silence was made easy for him, for
the women at last hardly ever spoke to him. Every week he had a
certain sum given him for pocket-money; Frau Brohl paid his tailor's
and bootmaker's bills, and he was treated in fact as if he had done
with this world. His business was to take the little Malvine to
school and fetch her home again, and on the way he grumbled
incessantly to the child about her mother and grandmother. The
former he called "she," and the latter "the old lady." He never
mentioned their names. Malvine had noticed that at home they never
spoke to her father; in her childish way she imitated this
contemptuous silence. The only bright spot in his existence was a
visit to some old business friends, where he unburdened his
overflowing heart, and complained by the hour together of the
tyrants in his house, who trod him under-foot, and ill-treated him
now that he was unfortunate. He was the victim of two silly women,
but he would show them one day of what he was capable. "She" and
"the old lady" were too stupid to understand him, but he hoped he
would not die until he had seen them on their knees before him. In
this way he ceaselessly kept up the smouldering rage within him; his
face became more and more yellow, he grew thinner, he lost his
appetite, he looked as if he were suffering from some dreadful
malady. He said nothing, however, about his health, but seemed to
find a comforting satisfaction in the reflection that "she" and "the
old lady" would one day be surprised to see him lying there, and
that would be his revenge. And so it came to pass--one morning he
was too weak to leave his bed. At luncheon Frau Brohl and Frau
Marker noticed his absence, and went to look for him; as they had
taken no notice of him for so long, they were not aware how
shriveled and emaciated he had grown, and were now shocked and
astonished to see how miserable and frail he was. They sent for a
doctor; Frau Brohl made some elder tea; Frau Marker sat up all night
by the sick-bed, but nothing could be done. A few days later he
died, with a look of hatred at his mother-in-law, and a movement of
aversion from his wife.

Nothing was changed in the household; there was another place at
table and a room at liberty, which was soon filled with the things
overflowing from the drawing-room. Frau Brohl still had a passion
for preserving and pickling, which had descended to her daughter and
her granddaughter, and also a passion for needle-work. Year in and
year out the three sat at the window of their drawing-room over
embroidery, lace-making, and such like, working as if they had to
earn their daily bread. They were mistresses of all kinds of fancy
work, and invented many more.

Frau Brohl was unequaled in her inventions of new kinds of work.
Such things as book-markers and slippers, paper-baskets, bed-quilts
and tablecloths, card-baskets, and chair-cushions were all too
simple--the mere a b c of the art. Wonders like embroidered pictures
for the walls, various kinds of fringes for the legs of pianos,
fireplace hangings, gold nets for window-curtains, mottoes for the
canary's cage, silk covers for books, were the order of the day.
When any one came in he was first struck with surprise, which
quickly changed to bewilderment. Wherever he looked his eye fell on
some piece of work, with no repose or unadorned space. Here a row of
family portraits, in plush and gold frames, all looking stiff and
uninteresting--on inspecting them at close quarters, they were seen
to be not painted but embroidered in colored silks. There hung a
melon, the outside of the fruit represented by yellow, green, and
brown satin, the stalk by gold thread, the little cracks and
roughnesses by gray silk applique, the whole thing fearful and
absurd in its exuberance. And wherever one went or stood, sat down
or laid one's hand, there wandered a huge wreath of flowers in
Berlin wool, or the profile of a warrior in cross-stitch sneered at
one, or a piece of hanging tapestry of pompous pattern and learned
inscriptions flapped at one, and everything was rich and tedious and
terrifying and shocking in taste; and when one's tired eyes looked
out of the triply be-curtained windows into the street, one fell
convinced that little angels would come down out of the sky clad in
what was left over of the rococo furniture draperies, bordered with

This unsightly museum of useless things was the occupation of Frau
Brohl and Frau Marker's lives, and here Malvine grew up to be the
pretty girl to whom we have been introduced at the Ellrichs'. Her
mother was a sort of elder sister to her, and the only authority in
the house was the grandmother. She ordered the servants, and her
daughter paid her the same timid reverence as in the time of her
short frocks. Frau Marker seldom opened her lips except to eat, or
to answer her mother in a parrot-like sort of echo. Frau Brohl's
energetic spirit stirred even in these narrow boundaries. She did
not feel at home in Berlin; she met no one she knew in the streets,
and in fact knew no one, and this feeling of being among strangers,
as if at some out-of-the-way fair, made her so uneasy that she
hardly ever went out. Often since Marker's death she had thought of
returning to Stettin, but when she reflected how dreadful it would
be to pack up and unpack again all the thousand pieces of work, her
courage failed her. All the same she lived with her heart and soul
in Stettin. A local paper from Stettin was her only reading. She
kept up a regular correspondence with all her old acquaintances, who
gave her news of all the engagements, marriages, births, and deaths
of the rich people she had known. If Stettin people of good standing
came to Berlin she called on them and invited them to dinner, when
her former celebrated triumphs in cookery were repeated. If she
found out that any wealthy inhabitants of Stettin had been in Berlin
without informing her of the fact, she took it so much to heart that
she had to go to bed for a week. A few Stettin families, who in the
course of the year emigrated to the capital, constituted her circle
of visiting acquaintances, enlarged later by Malvine's school
friends, and introductions at their houses. The connection with the
Ellrichs was through the Stettin circle. Frau Brohl gave a large
soiree twice in the course of the winter, when the invitations they
had received were returned. Since Malvine was grown up there had
been dancing, although the small size of the drawing-room, and the
displacement of all Frau Brohl's needlework, set everything in great

This kind of life and its surroundings naturally could not develop
Malvine's mind and character in any high degree. She missed any
stimulus from her mother or from her grandmother; she only learned
to respect rich people, to fathom the mysteries of the kitchen, and
to cultivate a taste for peculiar and original fancy work; she was,
however, a good-tempered, rather slow-witted girl, of well-balanced
mind, without a trace of capriciousness or the nervous temperament
so common to city life; within her limited view of things she had a
good, honest intelligence, and with her plump figure and her round,
rosy face, which bore witness to her grandmother's kitchen, she was
very comely in men's eyes.

Paul Haber had already become acquainted with the flat in the
Lutzowstrasse during the winter before the war, and he liked the
quiet he found in the corners of the little rooms, and in the
muffled voices of these three women. The friendship was continued
during the war by means of frequent letters, and on his home-coming
Paul renewed his visits with pleasure. By cautious inquiries he had
gathered that Malvine had sixty thousand thalers in cash as her
dowry, and would inherit double that sum. Her modest, quiet, amiable
disposition made him drift into a strong attachment; her appearance
was sufficiently womanly and charming, and her steady, practical
views on things, utterly unromantic an unenthusiastic, harmonized
entirely with his own. It was refreshing for him to hear her chatter
about people and things with the calm good sense of a Philistine,
especially in a society where the bombastic and exaggerated talk of
original, poetically minded young ladies had repelled and bored him.
At his first meeting with Malvine Marker he had thought that she was
the wife for him, and since he had become friendly with her and her
circle, he said to himself, "This one and no other."

The three ladies liked him immensely. Frau Brohl took him at once to
her heart, and that was the chief consideration. His appearance made
a good impression on her. He was strongly built, not too thin, in
fact, showing signs of a respectable probable stoutness in later
life; his face was full, and his complexion healthy, his mustache
carefully trimmed, and his hair closely cropped; he certainly
dressed well. The young men of her former rich acquaintances were of
the same type, so also was the late F.A. Brohl when she first met
him. He was gentlemanly, without a doubt, and he must be well off to
employ such a good tailor and friseur. She also noticed, with an
immense satisfaction, that he had a due appreciation of fancy work.
He did not, like some superficial people, regard these housewifely
creations as merely pretty or useful things, but appreciated them as
works of art, and wondered at the difficulty of these marvelous
fabrications. Complicated lace-work, or embroidered pictures, filled
him with amazement, even if applique had no effect on him. When Frau
Brohl noticed these marks of distinction in him, she did not
hesitate to invite him to dinner on Sunday--at first occasionally,
and afterward regularly, and with increasing pleasure she noticed
that in other ways he also reached the ideal she had imagined in
him. He had a good appetite, and it was not necessary for him to say
in words how much he enjoyed the dishes set before him, every look
and gesture showed it plainly. He evinced a warm sympathy for family
events, even when they did not concern him in any way, and he had
the same genuine esteem for rich people, which had been handed down
for three generations in the Brohl-Marker families. She thought that
he showed no disinclination to be her granddaughter's husband, only
at first she pondered over his calling in life. She knew perfectly
well that the highest professorship could only earn in a year what
an ordinary ship-broker made in a month. At the same time she
reflected that even a merchant made a bad job of it sometimes, as
her son-in-law's example had shown her only too plainly; that the
title "Professor" sounded very well, and if he did not make very
much money at most, at least he could not lose it, and she came to
the conclusion that in the circumstances a professor could make his
wife very happy. Frau Marker had nothing to say about the matter,
and was quite prepared to accept a son-in-law from her mother's
hand, as she had formerly accepted a husband, so the fact that Paul
had not made a very favorable impression on her did not matter very

There remained only Malvine--but just there lay the difficulty. The
girl was always kind and friendly to Paul, she took his homage
without any coquetry or apparent disinclination; when they went out
walking she took his arm quite unaffectedly; when they were invited
to meet in society, by a tacit agreement he took her in to dinner,
had the privilege of the greater part of the dances, and was her
partner for the cotillion. But whether they were alone or in
company, whether they danced or talked, whether he came or went, she
showed a perfect unconcern and freedom of manner to which he longed
to put an end. She was much too cold and collected even for his
unsentimental nature. He would have forgiven some agitation, some
confusion, a few blushes now and then, perhaps a sigh, but these
signs of the heart's flutterings were nowhere forthcoming. As they
were out one day alone together, something happened which filled
Paul with doubt and trouble. Malvine had been attracted to Wilhelm
when first she saw him, and since then she had incessantly thought
and talked of him. He was so handsome, he spoke so charmingly! She
thought it astonishing that any one should not love him, just
because his admiration was mingled with so much shyness. She herself
was much too insignificant a person to think of loving him, and
beside, he was not free, and it would have been a sin to think of
the man who was engaged to her friend. This enthusiasm for Wilhelm
naturally did not escape Paul's notice, but it did not disquiet him,
because he took into account Malvine's nature. "It is a harmless
fancy," he said to himself, "the sort of fancy girls take sometimes
for princes whose photographs they see in shop-windows, or for
actors whom they have admired as Don Carlos or Romeo; later on they
laugh over their childish folly, and these fancies never prevent the
pretty enthusiast from marrying and being happy."

Nevertheless, things became suspiciously different after the breach
between Wilhelm and Loulou. In Malvine's somewhat narrow but well-
regulated mind a brave romance had been mistakenly built up. Now
Wilhelm was free: now she need have no feeling of duty on account of
that superficial, pleasure-seeking Loulou, who had never been worthy
of him. Was it impossible that he might notice her? would be
grateful for her sympathy? and perhaps--who knows--later--he might
seek consolation from her--who was so ready to give it? The
concluding chapter of this girlish romance remained her own secret,
but the beginning she boldly declared. She explained to her
grandmother, as well as to Paul, that now Dr. Eynhardt was in need
of being comforted, it was the duty of his friends to try to
overcome his sorrow. She proposed that Paul should bring him as
often as possible, and she obtained from Frau Brohl the unwonted
permission of inviting him to the Sunday luncheon. Wilhelm had
little pleasure in going into ordinary society, especially to
strangers, but this invitation was so warm and pressing that he
could not bring himself to refuse it.

When Wilhelm was there Paul was put completely in the background.
Malvine had no words or glances for any one but Wilhelm, and if she
spoke to Paul it was only to thank him for having brought Dr.
Eynhardt to the Lutzowstrasse. If Paul came alone he was mortified
to see a shadow pass over Malvine's face, and he was forced to
listen to a string of inquiries after his friend. He had been
conscious for a long time that he must try to reconcile himself to
this condition of things, and if he felt himself rebelling, he
reminded himself he must have patience and wait, trying to console
himself with the thought that Malvine's enthusiasm was only on her
side--Wilhelm's demeanor seemed to show that he did not guess what
was going on in the girl's mind. His manner was courteous and
friendly, but there was really no difference between his demeanor
toward Frau Brohl and toward the young girl. While Malvine blushed
and became confused when he entered the room, Wilhelm, on his side,
spoke to the grandmother, mother, and daughter with exactly the same
pleasant smile, and his hand rested not a moment longer in Malvine's
than in that of her grandmother. On his side there was evidently
nothing to dread. He felt he had a defender and support in Frau
Brohl. The old lady kept a sharp lookout on her little world with
her dim-sighted eyes. She noticed that Malvine was unable to
withstand the charm which Wilhelm exercised over her, and she could
not bring herself to be angry with the girl. She herself liked the
young man extremely, admired his handsome face, his fine voice, his
modest, unassuming manners, but she felt instinctively that he
belonged to quite a different world from herself, and that in a
sense they would always be strangers. When he spoke she could not
follow his thoughts, although she felt that they were very profound;
when she spoke he listened with the greatest politeness, but nothing
more came of it. He tried to be attentive to her stories about
engagements and separations, he was entirely uninterested in rich
people, he did not praise the best dishes at table, and he even went
so far as not to conceal his aversion for the design of the horrible
knight in cross-stitch. Beside all this, his clothes were bad, and
although he had a house of his own, it was only a little one. No,
Wilhelm as a relation was not to be thought of. He was not of their
own flesh and blood, like that good, delightful Paul Haber.

It was not in Paul's nature to wait patiently in suspense, and he
determined to put an end to his uncertainty. Malvine seemed to him
as desirable as ever, and he had built up in his mind a future, of
which Malvine and her sixty thousand thalers were the foundation. He
must know whether she were for him or not; in the one case to
transform his castle in the air into reality without loss of time,
and in the other case not to waste the best years of his life in
aimless disappointment; not to let other opportunities slip by. He
was not quite clear, however, on one point, To whom should he make
his proposal? To Frau Brohl? That would be the most practicable way,
no doubt, as the bent, pale old lady, with the soft, sighing voice,
ruled everything in the house, and if she promised the hand of her
grand-daughter, she would certainly keep her word. But it went
against the grain to put any constraint on the girl, and he felt
that he would be ashamed to answer "No," if Frau Brohl were to ask
him if he had already spoken to Malvine. Then if he were to go in a
straightforward way to Malvine, and say, "I can no longer hide from
you that I love you, and that I want you to be my wife, will you
consent?" there was a great deal of risk in that, for if she
misjudged her own feelings, and said that she loved some one else,
and so could not listen to him, the rupture between them would be
accomplished, and it would be no use to him if later she found out
that she had been mistaken in her feelings. There could be no secure
step for him, on that he was quite decided.

If he could approach neither Frau Brohl nor Malvine, there was one
way clearly open to him, and he took it without further delay.

One sunny afternoon in May, a few weeks after the Labor meeting at
the Tivoli, Paul came to see Wilhelm, and asked him to go for a walk
with him in the Thiergarten. Wilhelm was soon ready, and while they
were walking Paul was astonishingly quiet, and seemed sunk in deep
thought. He suddenly broke the silence, and when they were under the
trees, without any beating about the bush, asked his friend:

"Wilhelm, do you love Malvine?"

Wilhelm stood still, as if rooted to the ground, and in boundless
astonishment he said:

"Are you off your head, Paul?"

"I implore you, Wilhelm," said he in an anxious way, "just answer
'yes' or 'no,' because the happiness of my life depends on your

"But I never thought of it," cried Wilhelm, grasping Paul's hand.
"What put such an idea into your head?"

"Then you are not in love with Malvine?" asked Paul obstinately.

"No, I am not in love with Malvine, if you will have the answer in
that precise form."

"I thought as much, but I wished to have the answer from your own
lips;" and as they walked, he continued, "Do you see, Wilhelm, if
you had loved Malvine, I would have got out of your way; I would
have submitted to fate without any struggle or opposition."

"Have I been injudicious? Perhaps too intimate? Forgive me, Paul, if
it is so. It happened quite unintentionally. I only thought of her
as my friend's fiancee, and believed her also to be a friend of

"I don't mean that, Wilhelm; you have always behaved awfully well--
with great tact, and all that. But you have not seen how it has been
with Malvine; she is quite mad about you, especially since you have
been free."

"You imagine these things."

"Be quiet, you impatient baby, and hear what I have to say. I
believe it is not love Malvine has for you, but it only wants a word
or a look from you to turn it into love. If she were convinced that
you feel only as a friend for her, she would be contented to admire
you from a distance, and begin to care a little more for an inferior
specimen of mankind like myself."

"I feel quite in despair about it. How could I be so blind, so

"Never mind; it is not all over yet. I know Malvine. She is a
simple-minded girl, without a bit of sentiment in her, mentally and
morally healthy. If she knew she had nothing to expect from you, I
am perfectly certain that nothing would stand in the way of my

"I will do whatever you wish--and first of all, I must put a stop to
my visits there."

"I must ask more from you than that, my poor Wilhelm. Merely staying
away is too passive. You must act. I want you to talk to Malvine,
and somehow explain to her that you don't love her."

"How can I possibly do that?" cried Wilhelm, really startled. "I
should have no right! If she laughed in my face and called me a fool
and a lout, I should feel I deserved it."

"You ought to know that she would not do that. I know I am asking a
very unusual thing, and a very difficult thing, but I feel I can ask
such a sacrifice from your friendship."

As Wilhelm did not immediately answer, Paul said, seizing his hand:

"Once more, Wilhelm, if you have any thought of Malvine, I will not
stand in your way."

"But, Paul--"

"And perhaps I ought to wish it for you; Malvine is a good, dear
girl, and will make the man who marries her happy all his life."

"Don't say any more; I have already told you that she is sacred to
me as your fiancee, and beside, I should have no claim on her, even
if I did not know how you stand with regard to her."

"Well, then, you must help me to reclaim her from her mistake. You
alone can do it, and I am sure that later--very soon, in fact, she
will be grateful to you."

Wilhelm was silent, looking at Paul in anxious suspense. At last,
with a deep sigh, he said:

"Well, if I must---"

"You are a brick," cried Paul, and embraced him before the passers-
by, who turned round to look at them with astonishment.

On the next day, at twelve o'clock, Wilhelm rang at the Markers'
flat in the Lutzowstrasse. Through the little peephole he caught a
glimpse of some one, then the door flew open, a maid ushered him
into the drawing-room, and without waiting for him to speak, said:

"Frau Brohl is in the kitchen; I will fetch her."

"Thank you," said Wilhelm, rather feebly; "there is no hurry. Is--
is--the Fraulein at home?"

The girl was already at the door, and turning round, stared at
Wilhelm with astonished eyes.

"Yes; shall I say that you would like to speak to her?"

Wilhelm nodded, and the girl went out. After a short pause Malvine
stood before him, offering him her white hand, with its short
fingers, while her face flushed to the roots of her hair.

"Might I speak to you, Fraulein?" he said, in a low, constrained

Malvine went very white, all the blood seemed to leave her heart,
and she almost gasped for breath. After a short silence she
whispered, "Certainly, Herr Doctor," and took him into the little
room next the drawing-room, which contained a modest bookcase, a
writing table, and chairs in red damask. She sat down, and Wilhelm
took a chair near; they were silent for a minute or two, while she,
with eyes downcast, went alternately red and white, and could
scarcely breathe. There was no pretense this time about her
agitation. It seemed as if suddenly a flash of lightning had
illuminated his mind, showing him a picture of this trembling,
pretty girl clashed to his heart, and he with his arms round her. It
only lasted for a second, but it struck him like an electric shock,
and left in his mind a mingled feeling of trouble, shame, remorse
and vexation. He had a consciousness of danger, and he felt that he
must make a great effort to become master of the situation and of

"Gnadiges Fraulein," he began, "what I want to say to you will seem
odd, and perhaps audacious, but I beg you in spite of that to hear
me to the end."

Malvine sat motionless, breathing quickly.

"I do not know," he went on, "in what position you and my friend
Haber are with regard to each other, but you must have noticed,
without any explanation, that he loves you."

At the mention of Paul's name, Malvine for the first time raised her
eyes, and looked at Wilhelm with such a troubled expression that he
felt still further alarmed. He had broken the ice, however, and he
made a courageous effort to regain his asssurance.

"Dear Fraulein," he said impressively, "I am afraid there has been
some misunderstanding between us, which it is my duty toward you,
toward my friend, and toward myself, to explain. My behavior has
perhaps aroused an impression which it should not have done. There
is no doubt that I ought not to have shown you how warm my
friendship is for you--for you, a good and beautiful girl, who have
inspired my best friend with such a love; but really I considered
that so long as the engagement between you and Paul was not clearly
arranged, that you would understand my position. If I seemed happy
to be near you, it was because I told myself how happy my friend
would be when he could call you his own; if you seemed to read
warmth and tenderness when I looked at you, it was because I was and
am so grateful to you for so happily influencing Paul."

While he was speaking Malvine had sunk back in her corner, and had
closed her eyes with a deep sigh. A few large tears began to roll
down her cheeks. Wilhelm touched her hand, which was cold as ice.
She made a feeble effort to draw it away, but he held it fast and
went on:

"Dearest, best Malvine, do not bear me any grudge for this
abominable half-hour, and believe me that it is only out of
consideration for your life's happiness. I quite understand how it
has all happened. Your kind heart was filled with pity for me, and
in your innocence you gave the pity another name. It was quite
natural that you should be uncertain of yourself, while you thought
you were loved by two men, and that the confusion prevented you
seeing clearly with your own heart. Now you know that Paul loves
you, and that the day on which he dares call you his will be the
first happy one I have had for a year. You will be able to come to a
determination more easily, as it concerns your own happiness equally
with Paul's. Paul is a good fellow, and worthy of the woman who will
bear his name."

He bent over her hand and pressed his lips to it. Malvine sobbed
aloud, and putting her arms on his shoulders kissed his hair, then
sprang away and flew to her room. Wilhelm hurried away in great
confusion, thankful that he had been spared meeting either Frau
Brohl or Frau Marker. He only breathed freely when he found himself
in the street.

Paul was informed the same afternoon of the conversation which had
taken place, Wilhelm delicately passing over Malvine's outburst of
feeling, and he hurried at once to the Lutzowstrasse to take by
storm the fortress in which his friend had already made a breach. He
was received by Frau Brohl, who nodded in mysterious manner, and
took him into her bedroom, at the back of the flat, through the
dining-room. In her soft, feeble voice she mildly reproached him for
not having more confidence and coming to speak to her sooner. She
then related to him what had happened. She had heard with great
surprise that Dr. Eynhardt had come and gone away again, without
saying good-day to her. As she was going to ask what the visit
meant, Malvine came and embraced her grandmother, crying bitterly,
to the old lady's great distress. With many tears she had given a
confused and broken account of the interview with Wilhelm, begging
Frau Brohl to comfort her and foretell that it should end well. Frau
Brohl explained that Malvine was now in her room, meaning that Paul
must not try to see her just at present. Such a silly, inexperienced
creature must have time given her to learn to be reasonable, beside,
she (Frau Brohl) would take care of everything, and Herr Haber could
call her grandmamma now if he liked. He kissed her hand, deeply
moved and grateful, and her eyes filled with tears. She then
explained the situation to Frau Marker, who, after looking very much
surprised, also embraced her son-in-law. It was a dignified scene,
tender, and, as befitted an honorable family, without any over
display of feeling; if all the wealthy people of Stettin had been
assembled there, they could have expressed nothing but admiration.

On the next day Frau Brohl spoke to her grand-daughter. She made her
understand that there were no real objections to be made, that she
was silly and was acting against her own happiness. Paul was much
the better match of the two, was more chic and practical than
Wilhelm, had better prospects in life, and was really better-looking
than his friend. Above all she liked Paul, and did not like Wilhelm,
and that ought to be taken into account. Malvine was not
inaccessible to such arguments, as Paul was really sympathetic to
her. Soon her tears ceased to flow, and her sighs became fainter and
fainter. In two days' time she regained her appetite, signs which
Frau Brohl noticed, and quickly imparted to Paul. At their first
meeting he showed a little anxiety, and she, a good deal of
constraint, but that soon passed off, and as they were constantly
together, she found a great deal of pleasure in his manly good looks
and honorable qualities. Beside, it was spring! the sun shone, the
sky was blue, her room was full of the fragrance of flowers, which
Paul brought every day with the regularity of a postman, and
fourteen days later they were engaged, and his first kiss was given
in the presence of her grandmother, mother, and Paul's parents. Her
heart felt very warmly toward him, and she would have felt
dreadfully confused had not Wilhelm, with characteristic good
feeling, declined the invitation to be present.

Frau Brohl arranged for the wedding to take place after Whitsuntide.
At the Zwolf-Apostelkirche she wore her heavy silk dress and all the
family ornaments, as on the Sundays at church at Stettin. Her bent
figure was straighter than usual, and a smile of proud satisfaction
lighted up her pale, melancholy face. Several rich friends from
Stettin had come over to Berlin for the wedding. She leaned on the
arm of the bridegroom's father, Herr Haber, a dignified old
gentleman with a long beard. Paul wore his uniform and a Japanese
order, which had been conferred on him by a Japanese pupil at his
lectures on agricultural chemistry. Several officers in uniform were
in the church, and a large number of professors, councilors, etc.
Paul's round face beamed with happiness, his blond mustache looked
triumphant, his hair was mathematically cut, and a field-marshal
might have sworn that he was a regular officer. The bride was rosy,
and looked happy. Her veil and wreath were made by the family, and
her satin dress covered with their embroidery. Wilhelm was one of
Paul's witnesses. When he went to congratulate the happy pair after
the ceremony, Malvine looked at him; a gentle glance, with perhaps a
mild reproach in it. Paul, however, grasped his hand, and whispered
into his ear:

"Your friend for life, Wilhelm, for life."



Paul had hardly returned from his wedding trip to Paris when he
surprised his friends by a series of quite unexpected business
engagements. He gave up his post as lecturer, in spite of the fact
that the appointment as professor for the next six months depended
on it; he left his young wife for three weeks, during which nothing
was heard of him, except an occasional letter bearing the postmarks
of Hamburg, Altona, or Harburg, then he appeared again, and told
Malvine that they were to remove from Berlin, to spend in future a
portion of the year in Hamburg, but to live chiefly on some property
near Harburg. He had decided to leave his academic profession and
become a practical landowner, and accordingly had taken a large
leasehold estate. He gave Wilhelm and Schrotter further particulars
of his plans. The place he had bought was hardly to be called an
estate, but a wild desert bit of moorland called "Friesenmoor,"
growing only a kind of marsh grass. This piece of land, from which
nothing but peat could be obtained, was worthless, and he had bought
it for a few thalers. After many years of study on the subject, and
without saying a word to any living soul, Paul had come to the
conclusion that this arid moor could be made into rich arable land
by proper cultivation, and seeing money was to be made out of this
possession, he decided without loss of time to put his theories into
practice. There was always the risk that he might lose his money,
but he had great confidence in his science, and "nothing venture,
nothing have." He considered it quite unnecessary to explain
everything about his speculation to Malvine and the old lady. He
knew, too, that merely the word "speculation" would frighten them to

The separation from Malvine dissolved her grandmother and mother
into sighs and tears, but during the short time that they had known
Paul, his quiet, determined character had made such an impression on
the two women that they submitted without a word to whatever he
arranged. Frau Brohl packed up several boxes for her granddaughter,
filled with the work of her hands, gave her various recipes for
preserving fruits and for fish sauces, and let her go. She withstood
bravely the temptation to fill up the empty room with the overflow
furniture from the drawing-room, and spoke on the contrary of
leaving the room free, so that the young couple might make it their
headquarters when they came to Berlin. Paul hypocritically invited
Frau Brohl and Frau Marker to come and live on his estate--he did
not even fear two mothers-in-law. Grandmother and mother, though
pleased with his attachment for them, declined with thanks. The
cunning dog had reckoned on that refusal. He would have been in a
terrible dilemma had they accepted. He would then have had to reveal
the whole truth, and tell them that his so-called "property" was a
mere swamp, where there was no place for one's feet to tread unless
clad in waterproof boots; hardly a fit place for townspeople,
accustomed to comfort. Before the changes on the Friesenmoor could
be brought about one fell into pools, one's feet got fast in boggy
earth, and the only inhabitants at present were waterfowl, frogs and
toads. He did not even take Malvine to his property but lived in
Hamburg, going to Harburg every morning and returning in the

In a short time the neighborhood between the Seeve and the Suderelbe
wore a different appearance. Hundreds of laborers were to be seen on
the moor, which hitherto had reflected only the sky in its silent
pools. Dams were thrown up, trenches dug, a dwelling house was
raised on piles, numbers of business offices, and quite a village
for workmen, all mounted and secure on piles of wood, stakes, and
stone foundations. Flatboats floated on the pools, the houses were
roofed in, windmills flapped their sails, and Paul, who had ordered
and built everything, came every day to see how the workmen were
getting on. In the autumn he took Malvine for the first time to
Harburg, and leaving the carriage at the office brought her by boat
to the border of the Friesenmoor, to show her the picture all at
once. The men stood on each side of the new house with their shovels
and pickaxes, and greeted the young wife with such a hearty cheer
that her eyes filled with tears. The broad flat surface of the marsh
was now arranged in regular lines where the water was being drawn
off, all so well superintended and orderly, that Malvine could not
help thinking of a chessboard. The windmill moved its long restless
arms, as if to welcome her as mistress here; the one-storied
dwelling house, raised on stone steps, lay there hospitably built on
a raised terrace, with its number of large well-lighted rooms
opening a vista of peace and happiness to Malvine, and she thought
it all so delightful that she would have liked to send for her
furniture from Hamburg and stay there. Paul, however, reflected what
danger there might be to her in her condition to stay through the
winter in a house not yet dry, and so she gave in to his wishes.

At the end of March a telegram from Hamburg announced the birth of a
fine boy, to whom Wilhelm was to stand godfather. He was to be named
Paul Wilhelm, and to be known by the latter name. When the warm
weather came, Paul and his family were to go to the moor, and during
the removal Malvine went with her mother and grandmother, who had
both nursed her tenderly, to Berlin for a visit. Paul went through a
great deal of worry and anxiety this summer. He had everything at
stake in waiting for the results of his undertaking. All his money
was in the buildings, the earth-works, and waterworks; if the barren
swamp did not yield twice the sum intrusted to it he was a ruined
man. But as July drew near, and Paul looked at the thick standing
ears of barley and wheat, he felt the weight of his anxiety lifted,
and in August he proclaimed in letters to his friends that the
battle was won, the harvest more abundant than he had dared to hope
for, and the remaining half-year would complete the transformation
of the worthless moorland into a veritable Australian gold mine. He
regarded his property now with a parental tenderness, as if it were
some living being whom he had trained and educated. The first
harvest had given him experience, and opportunity for new work, and
he stayed through the autumn and winter in his house in the midst of
his workmen, whom he felt inclined to canonize. The men now formed a
little colony with their wives and children, and Paul was as happy
as possible within the limited boundary of his horizon, between the
Suderelbe and the Seeve.

These two years had been outwardly uneventful for Wilhelm. In the
mornings he worked in the Physical Institute, in the afternoons he
worked at home, in the evenings he gossiped with Schrotter--a
journey to Hamburg and a fortnight's visit to the house on the
Friesenmoor had given him change. Paul came pretty often to Berlin,
and found in the society of his old friends the enjoyment of his
early years renewed, and Wilhelm with his girlish face, his
enthusiastic eyes, and his unworldly manner did not seem a year
older. The professor of physics, who had frequently been invited to
go abroad to direct the teaching in other European and foreign
schools, asked Wilhelm to go with him to Turkey, Japan, and Chili--
as professor. He had the highest opinion of Wilhelm, and deeply
regretted that his misadventure with Herr von Pechlar made an
appointment in Germany impossible. Wilhelm, however, declined, on
the ground that he did not feel an aptitude for teaching, only for

He had scarcely any intercourse now with Barinskoi, whose immoral
views at last became unbearable; he rarely saw him except when he
came to borrow money. Of late a new acquaintance had come into his
limited social circle. This was a man of about thirty-five, called
Dorfling, an overgrown thin creature, with long, straight gray hair,
and deep intellectual eyes in his thin face. He came from the Rhine,
and was the son of a rich merchant, into whose business he should
have gone. However, when he was twenty-six he boldly told his father
that the world outside was of deeper and wider interest to him than
account books. The father died, and Dorfling hastened to put the
business into liquidation, and devote himself to philosophical
studies. For a year he drifted from one school to another, sitting
at the feet of the most celebrated teachers and plunging himself
into their systems. In the autumn of 1872 he appeared suddenly in
Berlin, and renewed his old acquaintance with Wilhelm. Since then he
had become a frequent guest at Dr. Schrotter's dinner table, and a
companion to Wilhelm, in his afternoon walks.

Dorfling was the most wonderful listener that any one could wish to
have, though he himself was rather silent. If the talk turned on
great questions of knowledge, morality, the object of life,
Dorfling's share in the conversation consisted in the following
half-audible remark: "Yes, it is a powerful and interesting subject.
I have just been working at it, and you will find my opinions in my
book." If he were asked to give his opinions now, or at least to
indicate them, he shook his head and gently said, "I am not good at
extempore speaking. My thoughts only come out clearly when I have a
pen in my hand." Not a day passed by without an allusion to "the
book," to which he devoted his nights, and of which he always spoke,
with emotion in his voice, as the work of his life.

It was impossible to get more information out of him, either about
its title, scope, or contents. It was a philosophic work, no doubt,
as he always said on speaking of such subjects, "I have mentioned
that in my book." But that was all that could be got out of him.
Schrotter and Wilhelm were too good to tease him much about it,
though the former, with a suspicion of a smile, would say that he
hoped this and that would have a place in the book, so that one
might at least know his opinion on it. Paul, who always saw him when
he came to Berlin, used to ask whether the book was not yet ready.
Dorfling gave no answer, but his pale face grew paler, and an
expression of pain came to his eyes.

Barinskoi, who now sponged on Dorfling just as he had previously
done on Wilhelm, giving them in fact turn and turn about, had the
bad taste to make jokes continually about the book, at one time
calling it the Holy Grail, another time comparing it to the diamond
country of Sindbad's tale, and in a hundred ways making vulgar and
sceptical jokes. On one of his outbreaks of dissipation he had
disappeared far longer than usual, and on his return he looked more
miserable than ever. Dorfling made some kindly inquiries, and
learned that he was recovering from an attack of inflammation of the
lungs, and Barinskoi, by way of showing gratitude, remarked, "The
doctors gave me up, but I held out, as I do not mean to die until I
have read your book." Dorfling, with a contemptuous look, turned his
back on him.

One day, soon after the Easter of 1874, Dorfling brought his friends
a great piece of news. The book was ready, it was even in the press,
and would be published in a few days by a large firm, but he wanted
to present them with copies before the book appeared at the shops.
He therefore invited them to a little festival to celebrate the
occasion. He had been thinking over the book for seventeen years,
had been eight years in writing it, and as it had taken such an
important place in his life, he must be pardoned a little vanity
about it now. Paul had a written invitation sent him, and he thought
the occasion was sufficiently important to come to Berlin on

On the appointed evening they all met at eight o'clock at
Borchardt's in the Franzbsischen Strasse. A dignified waiter, who in
appearance and manner looked more like an ambassador, received the
guests, and took them into a private room on the left side of the
large room above the ground floor. This little room was all lined
with red like a jewel case, thick red portieres were over the doors,
and the amount of gas with which it was lighted made it rather
warmer than was comfortable. A large table with divans on three
sides of it nearly filled the room; it was beautifully decorated and
covered with flowers. Numerous wineglasses were placed before each
guest, and champagne was cooling in an ice-bucket near the door.

Dorfling was there, and received his guests as the waiter lifted the
heavy portiere. He was in evening dress, and his slightly flushed
face beamed with pleasure. His friends regretted keenly that they
had come in ordinary morning clothes, and expressed their apologies.
He interrupted them, saying they must overlook one of his little
whims and not say anything more about it.

Then they sat down to table, impressed by his charming manner.
Dorfling put Schrotter on his right hand, and Wilhelm and Paul on
his left; near Schrotter was Barinskoi and a friend of Dorfling's,
named Mayboorn. This man was, like Dorfling, a Rhinelander, he
combined a successful career as a writer of comic verses with a
confirmed pessimism. When he had written one of his merriest
couplets, he would stop his work and sigh with Dorfling over the
tragedy of life. The papers treated his farces as rubbish, but the
public adored them. The earnest critic would hardly touch his name
with a pair of tongs, but the theatre managers fought for possession
of his work. He had a beautiful wife who worshiped him, two
wonderful children, and the appearance and bearing of Timon of

At Dorfling's summons two waiters came in; one of them put a large
dish of oysters on the table, while the other placed a thick octavo
volume before each guest.

"The last of the season," cried Barinskoi gayly, and helped himself
to oysters.

"The book! Bravo!" said Paul, and held out his hand to Dorfling.

There was a short silence, while they all, even the cynical
Barinskoi, contemplated the book before them, On the pearl-gray
cover they read;

"The Philosophy of Deliverance, by X. Rheinthaler."

"What an expressive title," said Wilhelm, breaking the silence

"Admirably adapted for a comic song," remarked Mayboom, with a
melancholy air. Barinskoi laughed loudly, while Dorfling looked
blandly at him. The comic poet sighed deeply and began to eat.

"But why Rheinthaler?" asked Paul.

"I at first wanted the book to appear anonymously; but the public is
accustomed now to see a proper name on the title page. If it does
not find one, its curiosity is excited, and what I particularly
wished to avoid comes to pass, namely, the diversion of attention
from the essential to the unessential."

"That does not explain why you have not put your own name to it,"
said Paul.

"My own name? What for? What is a name? What is an individuality,
which a name symbolizes? The thoughts which I have put down in this
book are not from me, the transient accident called Dorfling, but
from the absolute everlasting thing which thinks in my brain. I am
merely the carrier of the truth, appointed by it. What would you say
if a postman put his name on all the letters he delivers?"

"I should not be capable of such self-effacement," said Paul. "If I
had devoted the best years of my life to any work I should be unable
to renounce the recognition I had earned."

"Recognition, Herr Haber. What sort of word is that? One does what
one does, not because one wills, but because one must; not on
account of an operation aimed at, but because of a compelling cause.
He who reckons on any kind of reward for his works is on the same
footing as a silly woman who claims men's approbation because she is
pretty or an unreasoning child, who wants to be praised and petted
because he has eaten his dinner. A mature perception arrives at this
idea of the duty which one must fulfill, and in no hope of the
gratification of individual vanity or self-seeking. Recognition!
Does the wind hope for recognition from the ships it helps to sail?
Is it blamed if it dashes the ship to pieces? It blows, as it must,
and is perfectly indifferent about what men say, and as to its
effect on trees, and chimney-pots, and ships. My brain is now
thinking just as the wind blows. There is no difference between my
organism and what goes on in the atmosphere. Both obey the laws of
nature, and I merely fulfill these when I write a book."

"I quite agree with you," said Wilhelm.

The oysters had been eaten, and some wonderful Markobrunner drunk.
The waiter now brought some Printaniere soup. The conversation
halted, as everyone had involuntarily opened his copy of the book,
some of them perhaps really curious to read, the others out of
sympathy for the writer.

"Please don't read it now," said Dorfling, "the book will be just
the same to-morrow, but the soup will be cold."

"That is the remark of a philosopher," said Barinskoi, and poked his
pointed red nose in the savory steam from his soup.

"It is difficult to tear oneself away," said Schrotter; "it would be
very friendly of you to give an idea of the thoughts at the
foundation of your thesis."

"How could I explain a whole system intelligibly in a few words?"
said Dorfling.

"You could leave out all the proofs and the development, we can read
those presently in your book. You need only just give us the main
ideas of your 'Philosophy of Deliverance.'"

All the guests joined in Schrotter's request, Paul the most eagerly,
for the idea of having to read through that thick, dry book had
frightened him, and now he saw the possibility of knowing its
contents in an agreeable and comfortable way.

Dorfling objected at first, but as his friends insisted he began.

"The phenomenal world, in my opinion, is the foundation of a single
spiritual principle which you can call what you like--strength,
final cause, will, consciousness, God. This eternal principle
separates part of itself from its own being--and this is the soul of
mankind. Every soul perceives clearly that it is a part of an
eternal whole; it feels itself unhappy and uneasy in its fragmentary
existence, and yearns to go back again to the whole from whence it
came. Individual life means removal from that all-embracing whole;
individual death is the complete union of finite parts with the
infinite whole. Thus, although life is a necessity, it is a
continual pain, and ceaseless yearning; death is the freedom from
pain and the fulfillment of that yearning. The only aim of life is
death at the end of it, and death is the goal toward which every
activity of the living organism eagerly strives."

Paul looked at Wilhelm and Schrotter, but as they were silent he

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