Georg, stepping into the patio door on the last evening before the end of the semester, saw that he had come too late, albeit against every intention on his part: around the little table to the right of the house wall sat the few corps brothers, as always in two groups Head and foot end; a bright red shielded lantern near each group painted their shadows on the wall. Strangely silent, all seemed to them, – the foxes down busy with a punch, silent, without the usual noise in the like; above, the twins, Nordeck, Sousa – ah also Schwalbe sat there and in civilian clothes! Ellerau had drawn his watch, and now looked at Georg indefinitely, then to himself, suppressing a smile, his forehead set on his lower chin, for a moment, – whereupon he broke his posture; and George knew well that meant in words: again late today; since it is the last evening before the semester – sponge over it! –
Georg, breathing inwardly, stepped closer, in which he said “Good evening” and “Well, so still today?”
Ellerau said: “Yes.” He reached into his inner breast pocket with his hand and pulled out a letter, looked at it, then stretched out his hand with him against George and said:
“Tastozzi left this letter for you. He is dead.”
“Dead?” George asked in alarm. “Tozzi? Tastozzi? “He corrected himself in confusion. “My God …”
“Unfortunately. He shot himself in his apartment this afternoon. So far nobody knows why. He was always completely closed to us. Perhaps he will give you information. ”
George, turning the letter with tiny inscriptions at the top in his hand, jerked to his feet, stepped to the empty spot of the table, tore open the envelope, and held the elongated map pulled out near the light. – Small, barely legible, ornate characters … He gradually deciphered with difficulty:
Foreign to all others, I always loved your eyes. Now, as I am ready to leave, I see that there is no one to be divorced, and therefore no one whom the reason for my departure is any more concerned, especially to call him, would reveal the dearly kept secret of my existence. Then I see your eyes in front of me in that second when they tell you my departure, and it seems to me that they want to understand – and not like the others. So I submit both – reason and secret – you, already turned away, without wanting to know more, whether you will mourn or judge.
In both cases: Do not complain. It is fine that way.
But I hope a little sadness.
Georg, not understanding anything, now noticed a small sign, a diagonal line between two dots in the lower right corner, which seemed to mean ‘turn’, and shyly turned the card around.
“It was out of love for a boy,” he read.
He winced softly. Slowly, behind the light, the heads of the sitter, none of whom looked at him, appeared. Schwalbe looked up; the others looked on. For many seconds without seeing this, Georg realized that he was fighting something down, realized that it was – aversion, and squeezed it down determinedly. Raising himself, he said softly:
“Yes. It stands here. He wishes me to keep it for myself. ”
“So.” Ellerau glanced over Georg; the others broke their posture and moved. Nobody looked at Georg.
At that moment he realized clearly that he and the dead belong together for them. No enmity – but not friendship. They had never understood him except perhaps Schwalbe. How had he come to you?
In a slight haughtiness he bowed his head and went out silently.
Opening the front door, he suddenly felt such an overpowering yearning for Renate that he felt blinded and blindly headed for her until he noticed footsteps persistently beside him and sideways Looking at Schwalbe, he smiled and said, “I’ll come with you if you allow me.”
“You know why he died?”
“I do not know,” said Schwalbe, “but – I always knew it.”
Was it suspected? Georg asked himself. Was I so innocent?
“And what do you think of that?”
“What should I think of it?” Asked Schwalbe, fresh and firm. “If they seduce adolescents, they are criminals, and if they do not, they are to be lamented. And I do not know if you can complain – can. They are people with a different worldview. Their sufferings and their pleasures – apart from the exaltedness – are none other than ours. “That sounded very clear and beautiful in the singing dialect.
For a while, swiftly advancing through the summer-warm, hazy streets in the light of the arc lamps, then the lanterns in smaller streets, they remained silent until Georg remembered Hardenberg and said in a low voice: “Even Hardenberg …”
“Hardenberg was homosexual,” swallowed Swiftly.
“One should,” Georg soon began again, “found a city for them where they could live and be content …”
“Yes! That should be done. It reminds me that I once heard Hardenberg talking about monasticism – you know his way – and he soon came to the Trappist Order, which, as he said, was the only one possible. And then he told us the silence there. He made it wonderful. He drew the silence out of the things there, full of hands, out of the walls, the cells, out of every appliance, out of the watering-can and the prayer-table, out of spade and harrow, out of the flowers in the garden, the trees. We were completely enveloped in the silence, although he himself spoke constantly. And I must say, I was very shocked when – after his beautiful – singing to this silence – he suddenly spoke of the birds who had also become silent and no longer sang in the monastery garden. ”
George said softly, “How beautiful!” – and stopped.
They were on the little bridge between old houses that led to the island. Down on the right, the fast, dark river flowed between old walls, on the shores of the river lights glimmering from tiny windows, from the green and flower-red of the roof gardens, their silver balls and white railings shimmering in the dusk. – Silently they looked there for a while, then George laid his arms on the balustrade, and in the dark water surface below, the dead man’s face appeared to him with that anxious expression that had been in Georg’s last line.
Oh, he knew now, what else did he do and would want other than-dear ones. His nature dictated that dreadful, fearful silence from which he never stepped forth, he who spoke to no one before he was asked or addressed. To seek, to serve, to be kind to others, was his desire, and there he found it out … Georg had to speak; he said, Swallow on the railing leaning looking like himself, wide-brimmed and calm:
“It was nice how he was worried about all of us fencing. Have you ever been bandaged by him? Do you remember how he pulled his glasses? This gentleness of pulling, until with a little jerk sat the glasses, how could not sit better? ”
“Yes. As you say, it seems to me that there was something hellenic about him. Not only that he had a wonderful body – ”
“Yes, did you see him? By chance, I once came to see how he had just undressed to the scale and stood there, just right, the scale shirt in his arms above his head, like a yellow marble. ”
“Hellenic, it seems to me, was above all his way of preparing us to fight. The fight was more to him than to us, was a nice thing to him, and once – yes, once I’ve heard him speak right. He talked a few words about Italian fencing, which is so much more agile than our blunt Dreinhaun and educate and train the whole body … ”
You should fight naked … Tastozzi’s soft words, heard at some point, moved through George’s memory.
They were silent and stared at the endless dark flow under their feet. Georg thought:
But why Hellenic? He basically just wanted to serve. Oh the poor dumb Trappist had to have a passion to express with action, with the careful service, what animated him. But now, even if it was a physical stimulus and a sensual desire, a desire to the limbs of the young, supple people: it was not the desire that gave his gentle, mute hands that gentleness, that gentleness, that joy of understanding treatment; that came from all his nature, of which the other was only a small part, and so he found in his life this cautious little place where he could give a little and – take a little …
Schwalbe straightened up.
“I have to go home, unfortunately,” he said. “It was nice to stand with you and think about Tozzi.” He extended his broad hand. “Goodbye at the grave, Georg. The day after tomorrow is the funeral. Good night.”
Georg, who would still like to have found a word to say, “It was nice here, with you …” found nothing but a silent kink and smile at the handshake with which they parted. Immediately afterwards he was outside the city, in the middle of the dark meadows.
Goodbye at the grave … it sounded in his ear. Strange, did you say so? I’ve never heard that before – and it’s also the first dead man I know. Goodbye in the grave … that sounded almost exactly like that. Poor Tozzi! – Strangely enough, he was a stranger to us all, and yet we called him by the affectionate little abbreviation. Thus, in spite of all his rejection of him, there must have been in every one secretly a little feeling for him, which, inaudible to all, called himself that name quite loudly …
Hingling on the light-colored strip of the footpath on the bank, which dawned before him, over the hastily coming-off, sometimes rushing river, George now saw again Renate’s only beautiful figure in the distance, and his breast swelled hotly. Never again do I feel such yearning for her, he thought, yes, is not this the most ridiculous thing, that she stuns me when I stand before her, and that I forgot her – when I was alone? Overwhelmed creature, Renate! – He ran and ran. Almost fiery from the dark grounds of the meadows poured earthy and grassy smell and the aftermath of rain. On the other side of the river, silhouetted silhouettes of towers cracked over a black vault into the glowing night sky of the city sky. – Blessedly feeling, liberated, more confident Georg climbed the hill of Bismarck’s column,
The grave houses shone whitely over the trees of life. Now a light was dawning on it, strangely unreal and big. Slowly a patchy disc appeared, the moon, red as new copper in the gray sky; a black lace stretched out in front of him, which he soon overwhelmed effortlessly. Georg stood and felt as if he could not go on until it was daylight. Already the moon hung there, mighty big, full and now amber, smoky; slate blue the sky, – and George went on slowly in the dark, cautiously avoiding the swampy places, and the only noise far and wide was the rustling of the stalks and flowers that beat around his feet. A shadow moved to his left, a white spot appeared in the dark, – ah, these were the old omnibus horses, who were allowed to rest here for a summer. He came closer to them, he knew them, there the black was very close as a thick shadow horse, he heard how it abruptly scrubbed grass, heard it stringing; and there was the piebald with the big white and dark pussies; he stood still, sniffing and trotting up; he loved the people. Georg felt with his hand between the wires of the enclosure and felt with friendly shivers the tremendously alive, the soft, velvety animal snout, who came out of the night and let herself be felt, felt the strange strangeness of strangeness from this great, dumb creature, clothed in fur and with a big, soft mouth. – Poor Tozzi! he murmured softly. – The old horse stood still and breathed deeply and loudly.
As he walked on it was Georg, as if something was sobbing in the darkness. Was he feeling like that himself? All at once he heard a melody, a few long sweetly trembling notes, a voice, words to it, but all that was within him, the night was deadly still, but he recognized that beautiful church aria of Stradella, which Magda had played for him, because she wanted to sing it, and at her request he had written to her a German text that could be sung in the church. Now he heard the words clearly, heard the small rows of sound, the long pauses in between, heard, lowing from the stars, the gentle, melodious question:
Who weeps in darkness?
And again, after a break:
Who is sobbing in the dark?
Kindling now a mild voice:
O you, shut up!
Choral voices, soothing, therefore echoed:
Holder, intensified, delighted, swelled the melody:
Let the crying,
God helps his own,
God, the tortured
Wants to straighten up …
Now? Clearly visible in the brighter moonlight, a new shadow stood far away on George’s path; a human wars. Mystical shivers wandered in the darkness. It could be the death that stood there, between him and the graveyard, stretching a black arm up against the golden moon disk. High up in the night wind, the softer voices echoed …
Georg strode on, cautiously, anxiously; at the same time the shadow slipped away from him; was it a woman? was he wearing antique robes? Now he disappeared from the path, and when Georg reached the point where he had to turn, it was there, where George had to turn off, if he wanted to get to Montfort’s home. – How quiet it was! Who went there and led him unkempt? There was already the gate, because of the ditch. The shadow, inaudible, slipped between the bars, which seemed to be locked from afar, and appeared at a higher elevation in the full light; it was Renate.
It was Renate’s attitude, although there was nothing else in Renate’s shadowy figure. George followed her softly from afar, sweetly sorrowful in her heart, devout not to disturb her, trembling, full of melodies. He saw them glide up the sloping plain, dwindling under the trees, where darkness stood, a clock did not strike brightly and confidently twice. He heard the garden gate close, stepped softly, and saw Renate’s silhouette in the light to the right, filling the open chapel door. It drove him closer, he tried silently to get through the wicket, he succeeded, he slipped under the shrubbery across the lawn to the door, stepped to the right of the steps and had the room in front of him, illuminated by an invisible light source. Renate stood in the middle of it; she wore a loose green tunic with short sleeves, which reached down to the vicinity of the knees; the color of the undergarment that was dragging on the ground could not be recognized, but the green shone on her breast, as she now turned to the side, half turning her back, even the white neck, – and now she appeared to George outside in the nocturnal meadows, behind her the moon, – he walked up to her on the grassy path, past her, saw her white face and her eyes unseeing like a god, and the strange garment. – Where does she come from? how does she come to us? in this country? he thought. She is foreign to this country. – and now she appeared to George outside in the nocturnal meadow country, behind her the moon, – he walked on the Grassteig towards her, past her, saw her white face and eyes without eyes like a god, and the strange garment. – Where does she come from? how does she come to us? in this country? he thought. She is foreign to this country. – and now she appeared to George outside in the nocturnal meadow country, behind her the moon, – he walked on the Grassteig towards her, past her, saw her white face and eyes without eyes like a god, and the strange garment. – Where does she come from? how does she come to us? in this country? he thought. She is foreign to this country.
Georg saw that she spoke with a slightly bent forehead to someone whom he could not see; that must be Bogner. Georg gave it a stab, he wanted it, but stopped and looked. Oh, her head bowed, the arched bow from forehead to ear, like, but not quite as deep as Esther, and this strange light brown of hair …
She said, “Not finished, Bogner?” “Tomorrow morning,” Georg heard the voice of the invisible painter. “Will not it go?” She spoke calmly, in a darkened voice. The painter’s answer remained incomprehensible; After a while, Renate’s voice came again: “You should sleep.” How beautiful it was in the empty room!
Now it was quiet. Renate climbed onto the podium, started the wind work, opened the manual and, with the stops closed, softly played the chorale: ‘Now all the forests are resting’ several times.
Silence. George, pressed against the wall in the dark, looking up through the branches above him, saw one and two little stars trembling in the eternal. He heard the soft, melodic roaring in the stillness of the night, wishing only to be a heart, resting in this mobile noise, breathing in it, like the fish floating silently in the moving waters … He gave a soft shrug; sideways in the door above him stood someone, Renate; she descended, disappeared in the bushes, and did not reappear; After a long time he heard the sound of her feet on the stone floor of the veranda. She was in the house. Georg stepped onto the steps and entered the chapel.
Bogner merely nodded as he greeted him. No, he was probably wondering about nothing. He was sitting near the organ loft, his fists on his thighs, looking up at his painting. As he did not smoke, Georg put a cigarette between his fingers, lit it and smoked one himself. So, with his hands in his pockets, he walked back and forth, looking at the finished paintings, three in number, between the windows opposite the entrance. It was probably planned that the wall between the Gothic pointed arches above the three-meter-wide and between five and six-meter-high paintings should be painted with her sky until the beginning of the vault, because the painting ended up not rectangular, but melted into thin Cloudy and gray, similar to the stone. Georg stood before the outermost angel.
Angel? but only because he wore wrinkled robes and an instrument in his hands. Georg stepped back and looked at them all three. Oh, they were big! Although they all moved in the distance through their landscape, they appeared gigantic and superhuman; the stance of her walk was pressed into iron, the air had to taste sharp and bitter, with such speed she was cut through by this giant pilgrim. There was no lighting, light was in the air. Yes, then he, the angelic messenger, walked in a gray-violet, waving robe, heroic of features, a small harp in outstretched hands, in front of a small dark-green pine forest with gray trunks; yellow and black riparian landscape all around, but infinite silence prevailed; only the angel He went, like a lion, outstretched, full of his forefeet, springing up the heel of the other. Oh, see next to the other in Mattrot, walking with the guitar around a small gray pond under some cedars! And here, the sulfur yellow blew the long lure, directed against the sky, on a purple hothouse with small juniper bushes, black-green. George wandered from one to the other; they stayed, around them the landscape seemed to be moving in passing, it blew from their clothes, they moved and took off, they swept-no, but this was just the one, the purple-gray with the harp, the like chased the round world; The others were silent, they stood.
Georg turned and stepped behind the painter. There he sat in his varicoloured smock under the low-hanging, especially for him mounted Osram lamp, which radiated sharp, surrounded by pots and brushes. – Ah, that was incredible! Dolomitic clefts, rose gray, rocky walls, terraces, one above the other increases, more and more remote, deeper and deeper until they finished very far with wagrechtem comb against the pale blue sky, and there, high up, far away, sat the white angel so large and clear, that he still seemed a giant over the monstrous airs, but he was narrower, but more delicate than the others; she was a woman, she had no instrument, she listened and showed the delicate features and the dark red hair of Ulrika Tregiorni.
Georg looked closer to see whether they really had, – well, the resemblance was weak and consisted mainly in the hair, but he noticed on this occasion now, what a simple painting was this – but what art! What had to have cost that until the austerity of these delicate contrasts, these surfaces, these lines was squeezed out of the countless possibilities. But it came to that angel – he was barely two feet tall and held his chin in his hand the propped his left arm – so he had no right arm, and this seemed to be what Bogner racked his brain, because there were on the earth has different arms around him, his hand down, as if the angel should support his right arm a little behind him.
Bogner looked up at him with red spots in his gray face and seemed confused.
“Pretty, is not it?” He said. Georg laid a hand on his shoulder and said solemnly, “Bogner, you are a noble man.”
Bogner grabbed one of the cardboard boxes with the charcoal drawing of a naked woman’s arm, Ulrika’s arm, it seemed, not very pretty, but worked through, soulful; even a hand, loosely outstretched, was still on the box. Yes, that was that strange piano hand, haggard and with countless wrinkles on the knuckles in the loosened skin. Then Georg Renate remembered, and it occurred to him to ask Bogner, “Why do not you love Renate Montfort?”
“Oh, I!” The painter refused unimpeded, but after a while he turned a little and asked if Georg believed that she could love him. –
“Dear God, Bogner,” said George, “after all, man should at last ask! I believe, painter, you are an individual entirely without passion. ”
“Must that be the name of the sexual, prince?” Asked Bogner, rising to his feet, setting his charcoal drawing to the ground, stretching himself, and beginning to pace back and forth.
“By the way,” he said, “could I be like Tobias – what’s his name in the comedy?”
“Yes, as the Tobias Bleichenwang say: Me also had a dear one time. Tenderness is beautiful, yes, you know that after all, yes, you even sometimes miss it, – well, that’s all there is to it. Why are you always asking so intrusively? ”
Georg laughed: “You do not need to answer! By the way, do you equate tenderness with love? ”
“Not that,” said the painter.
“Tenderness, voluptuousness, and love, these are the three different feelings of love,” said George, “only where all three are present is the feeling perfect.”
Did he mean that, Bogner asked. Yes, so love … After a while, standing in front of the trumpeting angel, he went on to believe that he also knows love quite well; he had tried it in a way and always found them different, also very pleasant, especially in the beginning: march. But in the end it always seemed to him like a decadence of male and female sex, mixed and shaken in the crucible until it seemed easy; left alone, both separated at once, male sank, female swam above, there was probably some really binding element missing. He spoke indistinctly as he stood away. Georg said that is what it would be like, it would be up to you to find the element, to seek it.
Search? said the painter. Who has the time? It is also clear that, if this element really existed, it would be unique, only in the case of unique people, always two to twenty thousand.
“Yes, yes!” Cried Georg ignited, “you bring me to a thought! For example, Romeo and Juliet. What are the two? A loving lover, a loving lover; then nothing. What were they doing? With her love. Did Romeo have a job? Did he take care of the gender feud? He and she did not have parents, not sex, not people, not city nor home; all this was inconsequential as table, bed and garden bench, of which nothing was available, as long as their commonality did not need them. There was nothing but them, the friends who supported their love, and the death who sold the poison in the shape of an Adept. They were dissolved into that element in which everything had to mix to a single gigantic sensation. Yes – “he hesitantly added, for Tozzi’s face appeared to him:” perhaps it is – death? ”
The painter had gone away from him and stood at the door, one arm outstretched against the frame, looking into the room with his angels.
“Really,” continued Georg, “universal love feels and desires nothing but increased joy, increased existence; but those two felt the last, highest increase, larger than life, to death, unconsciously in the first wrap, and so they reached the duration. ”
“In death?” Asked the painter from afar. “No, that’s nothing for me at the moment.”
Yes, but where is the passion? Georg persisted. Bogner reached out and pointed to his angels, one and the other, the trumpeting, the walking with the guitar, the traveling with the harp. Georg lowered his head dejectedly.
“Unconsciously in the first loop?” Asked the painter, in a good mood, as it seemed. “How can you know that! But I want to tell you something. Namely, when I was seventeen years old, in the midst of the most beautiful first glory, I loved a girl, a little older than me, beautiful to me, smarter, braver and gentler than her sisters. ”
“The women,” said George, as the painter paused, “the women, I believe, are in themselves nothing; but it can all become of them. Everyone, I would say, every man currently finds the one to do what he needs right now. They are very good. And so patient! ”
George, embracing Magda’s poor form with wistful remembrance, heard the painter continue:
“At the same time, I got to the crossroads. There my father and his, here me and my will. If I decided against him, it was against her as well, because then I left, and she had to stay. She helped me on my way, yes, she did. For that, I have been faithful to her as best I could, and I have chosen each time for myself and against love, for, you see, that is what I wanted to say: then, once and for all, this matter decided for me . ”
“What has become of her?” Asked George.
“Thank you. She survived well. She was, as I said, brave. She is married to a merchant, has four children, and everyone is healthy. I see her sometimes. She looks stately, certainly not as if she had ever lain on the knees in front of a man and pleaded: For God’s sake, go! go before I hold you! – ”
“So you have both remained faithful to your destiny,” Georg had to remark, as he did not seem very profound, and the painter replied only absent-mindedly, yes, yes, he did not mind at all, and reached for his pipe.
“Let’s go to sleep,” he said as he stuffed and lit her. So they left the chapel, the painter closed carefully, and they passed through the garden, past the dark, sleeping house, into the street.
Many strange horses ran through George’s dreams that night, guided and performed by Bogner with a long brush as if by a ringmaster, but Renate did not appear underneath. Singing struck, angelic and sweet, Georg woke, and it was dawn. In peaceable pauses the black blackbird sang outside, loud and peaceful in the morning silence.