The Road to the Open, by Arthur Schnitzler

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

The Road to the Open, by Arthur Schnitzler

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:19 pm

THE ROAD TO THE OPEN
by Arthur Schnitzler
Translated by Horace Samuel
London: Howard Latimer Limited, 1913

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Table of Contents:

• Chapter 1
• Chapter 2
• Chapter 3
• Chapter 4
• Chapter 5
• Chapter 6
• Chapter 7
• Chapter 8
• Chapter 9

"Well, I wish you would tell me straight out. Are you going to stand for the Landtag?"

"I ... am going to stand."

"Indeed! You think you're capable now of being able to face the ... unpleasantness which you ran away from last year?"

Berthold looked through the window at the autumn rain. "You know, father," he replied, twitching his brows, "that I wasn't in the right frame of mind then. I now feel strong and armed, in spite of your previous remarks, which have really touched the actual point. And above all I know precisely what I want."

The old man shrugged his shoulders. "I can't understand how any one can give up a definite work ... and you will certainly have to give it up, for a man can't serve two masters ... to think of dropping something definite to ... to make speeches to people whose profession, so to speak, it is to have preconceived opinions—to fight for opinions which are usually not even believed in by the man who puts you forward to represent them."

Berthold shook his head. "I assure you, father, I'm not tempted this time by any oratorical or dialectical ambition. This time I have discovered the sphere in which I hope it will be possible for me to do quite as definite work as in the laboratory. I intend, you know, if I do any good at all, to bother about nothing else except questions of public health. Perhaps I can count on your blessing, father, for this kind of political activity."

"On mine ... yes. But how about your own?"

"What do you mean?"

"The blessing to which one might give the name of the inner call."

"You doubt even that," replied Berthold, really hurt.

The servant came in and gave the old doctor a visiting card. He read it. "Tell him I'll be glad to see him in a minute."

The servant went away.

Berthold went on speaking in a state of some excitement. "I feel justified in saying that my training, my knowledge...."

His father interrupted him as he played with the card. "I don't doubt your knowledge or your energy or your industry, but it seems to me that to be able to do any particular good in the sphere of public health you need as well as those excellent qualities another one too, which in my view you only have to a very small extent: kindness, my dear Berthold, love of mankind."

Berthold shook his head vehemently. "I regard the love of humanity which you mean, father, as absolutely superfluous and rather injurious. Pity—and what else can loving people whom one doesn't personally know really be?—necessarily leads to sentimentalism, to weakness. And when one wants to help whole groups of men then, above all, you must be able to be hard at times, hard to individuals—yes, be ready in fact to sacrifice them if the common good demands it. You only need to consider, father, that the most honest and consistent social hygiene would have the direct result of annihilating diseased people, or at any rate excluding them from all enjoyment of life, and I don't deny that I have all kinds of ideas tending in that way which may seem cruel at the first glance. But the future, I think, belongs to ideas. You needn't be afraid, father, that I shall begin straight away to preach the murder of the unhealthy and the superfluous. But theoretically that's certainly what my programme leads to. Do you know, by the way, whom I had a very interesting conversation with the other day on this very subject?"

"What subject do you mean?"

"To put it precisely, a conversation on the right to kill. With Heinrich Bermann the author, the son of the late Deputy."

-- The Road to the Open, by Arthur Schnitzler
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Re: The Road to the Open, by Arthur Schnitzler

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:29 pm

PART 1 OF 3

I

George von Wergenthin sat at table quite alone to-day. His elder brother Felician had chosen to dine out with friends for the first time after a longish interval. But George felt no particular inclination to renew his acquaintance with Ralph Skelton, Count Schönstein or any of the other young people, whose gossip usually afforded him so much pleasure; for the time being he did not feel in the mood for any kind of society.

The servant cleared away and disappeared. George lit a cigarette and then in accordance with his habit walked up and down the big three-windowed rather low room, while he wondered how it was that this very room which had for many weeks seemed to him so gloomy was now gradually beginning to regain its former air of cheerfulness. He could not help letting his glance linger on the empty chair at the top end of the table, over which the September sun was streaming through the open window in the centre. He felt as though he had seen his father, who had died two months ago, sit there only an hour back, as he visualised with great clearness the very slightest mannerisms of the dead man, even down to his trick of pushing his coffee-cup away, adjusting his pince-nez or turning over the leaves of a pamphlet.

George thought of one of his last conversations with his father which had occurred in the late spring before they had moved to the villa on the Veldeser Lake. George had just then come back from Sicily, where he had spent April with Grace on a melancholy and somewhat boring farewell tour before his mistress's final return to America. He had done no real work for six months or more, and had not even copied out the plaintive adagio which he had heard in the plashing of the waves on a windy morning in Palermo as he walked along the beach. George had played over the theme to his father and improvised on it with an exaggerated wealth of harmonies which almost swamped the original melody, and when he had launched into a wildly modulated variation, his father had smilingly asked him from the other end of the piano—"Whither away, whither away?" George had felt abashed and allowed the swell of the notes to subside, and his father had begun a discussion about his son's future with all his usual affection, but with rather more than his usual seriousness. This conversation ran through his mind to-day as though it had been pregnant with presage. He stood at the window and looked out. The park outside was fairly empty. An old woman wearing an old-fashioned cloak with glass beads sat on a seat. A nursemaid walked past holding one child by the hand while another, a little boy, in a hussar uniform, with a buckled-on sabre and a pistol in his belt, ran past, looked haughtily round and saluted a veteran who came down the path smoking. Further down the grounds were a few people sitting round the kiosk, drinking coffee and reading the papers. The foliage was still fairly thick, and the park looked depressed and dusty and altogether far more summer-like than usual for late September.

George rested his arms on the window-sill, leant forwards and looked at the sky. He had not left Vienna since his father's death, though he had had many opportunities of so doing. He could have gone with Felician to the Schönstein estate; Frau Ehrenberg had written him a charming letter inviting him to come to Auhof; he could easily have found a companion for that long-planned cycle-tour through Carinthia and the Tyrol, which he had not the energy to undertake alone. But he preferred to stay in Vienna and occupy his time with perusing and putting in order the old family papers. He found archives which went as far back as his great-grandfather Anastasius von Wergenthin, who haled from the Rhine district and had by his marriage with a Fräulein Recco become possessed of an old castle near Bozen which had been uninhabitable for a long period. There were also documents dealing with the history of George's grandfather, a major of artillery who had fallen before Chlum in the year 1866.

The major's son, the father of Felician and himself, had devoted himself to scientific studies, principally botany, and had taken at Innsbruck the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. At the age of twenty-four he had made the acquaintance of a young girl of an old family of Austrian officials, who had brought her up to be a singer, more with a view to rendering her independent of the limited, not to say impoverished, resources of the household, than because she had any real vocation. Baron von Wergenthin saw and heard her for the first time at a concert-performance of the Missa Solemnis and in the following May she became his wife. Three years later the health of the Baroness began to fail, and she was ordered South by the doctors. She did not recover as soon as was anticipated, with the result that the house in Vienna was given up, and the Baron and his family lived for several years a kind of hotel-life, as they travelled from one place to another. His business and studies frequently summoned the Baron to Vienna, but the sons never left their mother. The family lived in Sicily, Rome, Tunis, Corfu, Athens, Malta, Merano, the Riviera, and finally in Florence; never in very great style, but fairly well nevertheless, and without curtailing their expenditure sufficiently to prevent a substantial part of the Baron's fortune being gradually eaten up. George was eighteen when his mother died. Nine years had passed since then, but the memory of that spring evening was still as vivid as ever, when his father and brother had happened to be out, and he had stood alone and helpless by his mother's death-bed, while the talk and laughter of the passers-by had flowed in with the spring air through the hastily opened windows with all the jar of its unwelcome noise.

The survivors took their mother's body back to Vienna. The Baron devoted himself to his studies with new and desperate zeal. He had formerly enjoyed the reputation of an aristocratic dilettante, but he now began to be taken quite seriously even in academic circles, and when he was elected honorary president of the Botanical Society he owed that distinction to something more than the accident of a noble name. Felician and George entered themselves as law students. But after some time their father himself encouraged the boys to abandon their university studies, and go in for a more general education and one more in accordance with their musical tendencies. George felt thankful and relieved at this new departure. But even in this sphere which he had chosen himself, he was by no means industrious, and he would often occupy himself for weeks on end with all manner of things that had nothing at all to do with his musical career.

It was this same trait of dilettantism which made him now go through the old family documents as seriously as though he were investigating some important secrets of the past. He spent many hours busying himself with letters which his parents had exchanged in years gone by, wistful letters and superficial letters, melancholy letters and placid letters, which brought back again to life not merely the departed ones themselves but other men and women half sunk in oblivion. His German tutor now appeared to him again with his sad pale forehead just as he used to declaim his Horace to him on their long walks, there floated up in his mind the wild brown boyish face of Prince Alexander of Macedon in whose company George had had his first riding lessons in Rome; and then the Pyramids of Cestius limned as though in a dream with black lines on a pale blue horizon reared their peaks, just as George had seen them once in the twilight as he came home from his first ride in the Campagna. And as he abandoned himself still more to his reverie there appeared sea-shores, gardens and streets, though he had no knowledge of the landscape or the town that had furnished them to his memory; images of human beings swept past him; some of these, whom he had met casually on some trivial occasion, were very clear, others again, with whom he might at some time or other have passed many days, were shadowy and distant.

When George had finished inspecting the old letters and was putting his own papers in order, he found in an old green case some musical jottings of his boyhood, whose very existence had so completely vanished from his memory, that if they had been put before him as the records of some one else he would not have known the difference. Some affected him with a kind of pleasant pain, for they seemed to him to contain promises which he was perhaps never to fulfil. And yet he had been feeling lately that something had been hatching within him. He saw his development as a mysterious but definite line which showed the way from those first promising notes in the green case to quite new ideas, and this much he knew—the two songs out of the "Westöstliche Divan" which he had set to music this summer on a sultry afternoon, while Felician lay in his hammock and his father worked in his armchair on the cool terrace, could not have been composed by your ordinary person.

George moved back a step from the window as though surprised by an absolutely unexpected thought. He had never before realised with such clearness that there had been an absolute break in his life since his father's death down to to-day. During the whole time he had not given a single thought to Anna Rosner to whom he had sent the songs in manuscript. And he felt pleasurably thrilled at the thought that he could hear her melodious melancholy voice again and accompany her singing on that somewhat heavy piano, as soon as he wished. And he remembered the old house in the Paulanergasse, with its low door and badly lighted stairs which he had not been up more than three or four times, in the mood in which a man thinks of something which he has known very long and held very dear.

A slight soughing traversed the leaves in the park outside. Thin clouds appeared over the spire of the Stephan Tower, which stood directly opposite the window, on the other side of the park, and over a largish part of the town. George was faced with a long afternoon without any engagements. It seemed to him as though all his former friendships during the two months of mourning had dissolved or broken up. He thought of the past spring and winter with all their complications and mad whirl of gaiety, and all kinds of images came back into his memory—the ride with Frau Marianne in the closed fiacre through the snow-covered forest. The masked ball at Ehrenberg's with Else's subtly-naive remarks about "Hedda Gabler" with whom she insisted she felt a certain affinity, and with Sissy's hasty kiss from under the black lace of her mask. A mountain expedition in the snow from Edlach up to the Rax with Count Schönstein and Oskar Ehrenberg, who, though very far from being a born mountaineer, had jumped at the opportunity of tacking himself on to two blue-blooded gentlemen. The evening at Ronacher's with Grace and young Labinski, who had shot himself four days afterwards either on account of Grace, debts, satiety, or as a sheer piece of affectation. The strange hot and cold conversation with Grace in the cemetery in the melting February snow two days after Labinski's funeral. The evening in the hot lofty fencing-room where Felician's sword had crossed the dangerous blade of the Italian master. The walk at night after the Paderewski concert when his father had spoken to him more intimately than ever before of that long-past evening on which his dead mother had sung in the Missa Solemnis in the very hall which they had just come out of. And finally Anna Rosner's tall quiet figure appeared to him, leaning on the piano, with the score in her hand, and her smiling blue eyes turned towards the keys, and he even heard her voice reverberating in his soul.

While he stood like this at the window and looked down at the park which was gradually becoming animated, he felt a certain consolation in the fact that he had no close ties with any human being, and that there were so many people to whom he could attach himself once more and whose set he could enter again as soon as the fancy took him. He felt at the same time wonderfully rested and more in the vein for work and happiness than he had ever been. He was full of great bold resolutions and joyfully conscious of his youth and independence. He no doubt felt a certain shame at the thought that at any rate at the present moment his grief for his dead father was much alleviated; but he found a relief for this indifference of his in the thought of his dear father's painless end. He had been walking up and down the garden chatting with his two sons, had suddenly looked round him as though he heard voices in the distance, had then looked up towards the sky and had suddenly dropped down dead on the sward, without a cry of pain or even a twitching of the lips.

George went back into the room, got ready to go out and left the house. He intended to walk about for a couple of hours wherever chance might take him, and in the evening to work again at his quintette, for which he now felt in the right mood. He crossed the street and went into the park. The sultriness had passed. The old woman in the cloak still sat on the seat and stared in front of her. Children were playing on the sandy playground round the trees. All the chairs round the kiosk were taken. A clean-shaven gentleman sat in the summer-house whom George knew by sight and who had impressed him by his likeness to the elder Grillparzer. By the pond George met a governess with two well-dressed children and received a flashing glance. When he got out of the Park into the Ringstrasse he met Willy Eissler who was wearing a long autumn overcoat with dark stripes and began to speak to him.

"Good afternoon, Baron, so you've come back to Vienna again."

"I've been back a long time," answered George. "I didn't leave Vienna again after my father's death."

"Yes, yes, quite so.... Allow me, once again...." And Willy shook hands with George.

"And what have you been doing this summer?" asked George.

"All kinds of things. Played tennis, and painted, rotted about, had some amusing times and a lot of boring ones...." Willy spoke extremely quickly, with a deliberate though slight hoarseness, briskly and yet nonchalantly with a combination of the Hungarian, French, Viennese and Jewish accents. "Anyway, I came early to-day, just as you see me now, from Przemysl," he continued.

"Drill?"

"Yes, the last one. I'm sorry to say so. Though I'm nearly an old man, I've always found it a joke to trot about with my yellow epaulettes, clanking my spurs, dragging my sabre along, spreading an atmosphere of impending peril, and being taken by incompetent Lavaters for a noble count." They walked along by the side of the railing of the Stadtpark.

"Going to Ehrenbergs' by any chance?" asked Willy.

"No, I never thought of it."

"Because this is the way. I say, have you heard, Fräulein Else is supposed to be engaged?"

"Really?" queried George slowly. "And whom to?"

"Guess, Baron."

"Come, Hofrat Wilt?"

"Great heavens!" cried Willy, "I'm sure it's never entered his head! Becoming S. Ehrenberg's son-in-law might result in prejudicing his government career—nowadays."

George went on guessing. "Rittmeister Ladisc?"

"Oh no, Fräulein Else is far too clever to be taken in by him."

George then remembered that Willy had fought a duel with Ladisc a few years back. Willy felt George's look, twirled somewhat nervously his blonde moustache which drooped in the Polish fashion and began to speak quickly and offhandedly.

"The fact that Rittmeister Ladisc and myself once had a difference cannot prevent me from loyally recognising the fact that he is, and always has been, a drunken swine. I have an invincible repulsion, which even blood cannot wash out, against those people who gorge themselves sick at Jewish houses and then start slanging the Jews as soon as they get on the door-steps. They ought to be able to wait till they got to the café. But don't exert yourself any more by guessing. Heinrich Bermann is the lucky man."

"Impossible," said George.

"Why?" asked Eissler. "It had to be some one sooner or later. Bermann is no Adonis, I agree, but he's a coming man, and Else's official ideal of a mixture of gentleman-rider and athlete will never turn up. Meanwhile she has reached twenty-four, and she must have had enough by now of Salomon's tactless remarks and Salomon's jokes."

"Salomon?—oh, yes—Ehrenberg."

"You only know him by the initial S? S of course stands for Salomon ... and as for only S standing on the door, that is simply a concession he made to his family. If he could follow his own fancy he would prefer to turn up at the parties Madame Ehrenberg gives in a caftan and side-curls."

"Do you think so? He's not so very strict?"

"Strict?... Really now! It's nothing at all to do with strictness. It is only cussedness, particularly against his son Oskar with his feudal ideals."

"Really," said George with a smile, "wasn't Oskar baptised long ago? Why, he's a reserve officer in the dragoons."

"That's why ... well, I've not been baptised and nevertheless ... yes ... there are always exceptions ... with good will...." He laughed and went on. "As for Oskar, he would personally prefer to be a Catholic. But he thought for the time being he would have to pay too dearly for the pleasure of being able to go to confession. There's sure to be a provision in the will to take care that Oskar doesn't 'vert over."

They had arrived in front of the Café Imperial. Willy remained standing. "I've got an appointment here with Demeter Stanzides."

"Please remember me to him."

"Thanks very much. Won't you come in and have an ice?"

"Thanks, I'll prowl about a little more."

"You like solitude?"

"It's hard to give an answer to so general a question," replied George.

"Of course," said Willy, suddenly grew serious and lifted his hat. "Good afternoon, Baron."

George held out his hand. He felt that Willy was a man who was continually defending a position though there was no pressing necessity for him to do so.

"Au revoir," he said with real sincerity. He felt now as he had often done before, that it was almost extraordinary that Willy should be a Jew. Why, old Eissler, Willy's father, who composed charming Viennese waltzes and songs, was a connoisseur and collector, and sometimes a seller of antiquities, and objets d'art, and had passed in his day for the most celebrated boxer in Vienna, was, what with his long grey beard and his monocle, far more like a Hungarian magnate than a Jewish patriarch. Besides, Willy's own temperament, his deliberate cultivation of it and his iron will had made him into the deceptive counterpart of a feudal gentleman bred and born. What, however, distinguished him from other young people of similar race and ambition was the fact that he was accustomed to admit his origin, to demand explanation or satisfaction for every ambiguous smile, and to make merry himself over all the prejudices and vanities of which he was so often the victim.

George strode along, and Willy's last question echoed in his ears. Did he love solitude?... He remembered how he had walked about in Palermo for whole mornings while Grace, following her usual habit, lay in bed till noon.... Where was she now...? Since she had said goodbye to him in Naples he had in accordance with their arrangement heard nothing from her. He thought of the deep blue night which had swept over the waters when he had travelled alone to Genoa after that farewell, and of the soft strange fairy-like song of two children who, nestling closely up against each other and wrapped, the pair of them, in one rug, had sat on the deck by the side of their sleeping mother.

With a growing sense of well-being he walked on among the people who passed by him with all the casual nonchalance of a Sunday. Many a glad glance from a woman's eye met his own, and seemed as though it would have liked to console him for strolling about alone and with all the external appearances of mourning on this beautiful holiday afternoon. And another picture floated up in his mind.—He saw himself on a hilly sward, after a hot June day, late in the evening. Darkness all around. Deep below him a clatter of men, laughter and noise, and glittering fairy-lamps. Quite near, girls' voices came out of the darkness.... He lit the small pipe which he usually only smoked in the country; the flare of the vesta showed him two pretty young peasant wenches, still almost children. He chatted to them. They were frightened because it was so dark; they nestled up to him. Suddenly a whizz, rockets in the air, a loud "Ah!" from down below. Bengal lights flaring violet and red over the invisible lake beneath. The girls rushed down the hill and vanished. Then it became dark again and he lay alone and looked up into the darkness which swam down on him in all its sultriness. The night before the day on which his father died had been one such as this. And he thought of him for the first time to-day.

He had left the Ringstrasse and taken the direction of the Wieden. Would the Rosners be at home on such a beautiful day? At all events the distance was so short that it was worth trying, and at any rate he fancied going there rather than to Ehrenbergs'. He was not the least in love with Else, and it was almost a matter of indifference to him whether or no she were really engaged to Heinrich Bermann. He had already known her for a long time. She had been eleven, he had been fourteen when they had played tennis with each other on the Riviera. In those days she looked like a gipsy girl. Black-blue tresses tossed round her cheeks and forehead, and she was as boisterous as a boy. Her brother had already begun to play the lord, and even to-day George could not help smiling at the recollection of the fifteen-year old boy appearing on the promenade one day in a light grey coat with white black-braided gloves and a monocle in his eye. Frau Ehrenberg was then thirty-four, and had a dignified appearance though her figure was too large; she was still beautiful, had dim eyes, and was usually very tired.

George never forgot the day on which her husband, the millionaire cartridge-manufacturer, had descended on his family and had by the very fact of his appearance made a speedy end of the Ehrenbergian aristocracy. George still remembered in his mind's eye how he had sprung up during the breakfast on the hotel terrace; a small spare gentleman with a trimmed beard and moustache and Japanese eyes, in badly-creased white flannels, a dark straw hat with a red-and-white striped ribbon on his round head and with dusty black shoes. He always spoke very slowly and in an as it were sarcastic manner even about the most unimportant matters, and whenever he opened his mouth a secret anxiety would always lurk beneath the apparent calm of his wife's face. She tried to revenge herself by making fun of him; but she could never do anything with his inconsiderate manners. Oskar behaved whenever he had a chance as though he didn't belong to the family at all. A somewhat hesitating contempt would play over his features for that progenitor who was not quite worthy of him, and he would smile meaningly for sympathy at the young baron. Only Else in those days was really nice to her father. She was quite glad to hang on his arm on the promenade and she would often throw her arms round his neck before every one.

George had seen Else again in Florence a year before his mother's death. She was then taking drawing lessons from an old grizzled German, about whom the legend was circulated that he had once been celebrated. He spread the rumour about himself that when he felt his genius on the wane he had discarded his former well-known name and had given up his calling, though what that was he never disclosed. If his own version was to be believed, his downfall was due to a diabolical female who had destroyed his most important picture in a fit of jealousy; and then ended her life by jumping out of the window. This man who had struck the seventeen-year-old George as a kind of fool and impostor was the object of Else's first infatuation. She was then fourteen years old, and had all the wildness and naïveté of childhood. When she stood in front of the Titian Venus in the Uffizi Gallery her cheeks would flush with curiosity, yearning and admiration, and vague dreams of future experiences would play in her eyes. She often came with her mother to the house which the Wergenthins had hired at Lungarno, and while Frau Ehrenberg tried in her languid blasé way to amuse the ailing baroness, Else would stand at the window with George, start precocious conversations about the art of the Pre-Raphaelites, and smile at her old childish games. Felician too would come in sometimes, slim and handsome, cast his cold grey eyes over the objects and people in the room, murmur a few polite words, sit down by his mother's bedside, and tenderly stroke and kiss her hand. He would usually soon go away again, though not without leaving behind, so far as Else was concerned, a very palpable atmosphere of old-time aristocracy, cold-blooded fascination and elegant contempt of death. She always had the impression that he was going to a gaming-table where hundreds of thousands were at stake, to a duel to the death or to a princess with red hair and a dagger on her dressing-table. George remembered that he had been somewhat jealous both of the erratic drawing-master and of his brother. The master was suddenly dismissed for reasons which were never specified, and soon afterwards Felician left for Vienna with Baron von Wergenthin. George now played to the ladies on the piano more frequently than before, both his own compositions and those of others, and Else would sing from the score easy songs from Schubert and Schumann in her small, rather shrill voice. She visited the galleries and churches with her mother and George; when spring came there were excursion parties up the Hill Road or to Fiesole, and George and Else exchanged smiling glances which were eloquent of a deeper understanding than actually existed. Their relations went on progressing in this somewhat disingenuous manner, when their acquaintance was renewed and continued in Vienna. Else seemed pleasurably thrilled all over again by the equable friendly manner with which George approached her, notwithstanding the fact that they had not seen each other for some months. She herself, on the other hand, grew outwardly more self-possessed and mentally more unsettled with each succeeding year. She had abandoned her artistic aspirations fairly early, and in the course of time she came to regard herself as destined to the most varied careers.

She often saw herself in the future as a society woman, an organiser of battles of flowers, a patroness of great balls, taking part in aristocratic charity performances; more frequently she would believe herself called to sit enthroned as a great appreciator in an artistic salon of painters, musicians and poets. She would then dream again of a more adventurous life: a sensational marriage with an American millionaire, the elopement with a violin virtuoso or a Spanish officer, a diabolical ruination of all the men who came near her. Sometimes she would think a quiet life in the country by the side of a worthy landowner the most desirable consummation; and then she would imagine herself sitting with prematurely grey hair at a simply-laid table in a circle of numerous children while she stroked the wrinkles out of the forehead of her grave husband. But George always felt that her love of comfort, which was deeper than she guessed herself, would save her from any rash step. She would often confide in George without ever being quite honest with him; for the wish which she cherished most frequently and seriously of all was to become his wife. George was well aware of this, but that was not the only reason why the latest piece of intelligence about her engagement with Heinrich Bermann struck him as somewhat incredible—this Bermann was a gaunt clean-shaven man with gloomy eyes and straight and rather too long hair, who had recently won a reputation as a writer and whose demeanour and appearance reminded George, though he could not tell why, of some fanatical Jewish teacher from the provinces; there was nothing in him which could fascinate Else particularly or even make a pleasurable appeal.

This impression was no doubt dispelled by subsequent conversation. George had left the Ehrenbergs' in company with him one evening last spring, and they had fallen into so thrilling a conversation about musical matters that they had gone on chatting till three o'clock in the morning on a seat in the Ringstrasse.

It is strange, thought George, what a lot of things are running through my mind to-day which I had scarcely thought of at all since they happened. And he felt as though he had on this autumn evening emerged out of the grievous dreary obscurity of so many weeks into the light of day at last.

He was now standing in front of the house in the Paulanergasse where the Rosners lived. He looked up to the second story. A window was open, white tulle curtains pinned together in the centre fluttered in the light breeze.

The Rosners were at home. The housemaid showed George in. Anna was sitting opposite the door, she held a coffee-cup in her hand and her eyes were turned towards the newcomer. On her right her father was reading a paper and smoking a pipe. He was clean-shaven except for a pair of narrow grizzled whiskers on his cheeks. His thin hair of a strange greenish-grey hue was parted at the temples in front and looked like a badly-made wig. His eyes were watery and red-lidded.

The stoutish mother, around whose forehead the memory of fairer years seemed as it were to hover, looked straight in front of her; her hands were contemplatively intertwined and rested on the table.

Anna slowly put down her cup, nodded and smiled in silence. The two old people began to get up when George came in.

"Please, don't trouble, please don't," said George.

Then there was a noise from the wall at the side of the room. Josef, the son of the house, got up from the sofa on which he had been lying. "Charmed to see you, Herr Baron," he said in a very deep voice, and adjusted the turned-up collar of his yellow-check rather shabby lounge jacket.

"And how have you been all this time, Herr Baron?" inquired the old man. He remained standing a gaunt and somewhat bowed figure, and refused to resume his seat until George had sat down. Josef pushed a chair between his father and sister, Anna held out her hand to the visitor.

"We haven't seen one another for a long time," she said, and drank some of her coffee.

"You've been going through a sad time," remarked Frau Rosner sympathetically.

"Yes," added Herr Rosner. "We were extremely sorry to read of your great loss—and so far as we knew your father always enjoyed the best of health."

He spoke very slowly all the time, as if he had still something more to say, stroking his head several times with his left hand, and nodded while he listened to the answer.

"Yes, it came very unexpectedly," said George gently, and looked at the faded dark-red carpet at his feet.

"A sudden death then, so to speak," remarked Herr Rosner and there was a general silence.

George took a cigarette out of his case and offered one to Josef.

"Much obliged," said Josef as he took the cigarette and bowed while he clicked his heels together without any apparent reason; while he was giving the Baron a light he thought the latter was looking at him, and said apologetically, with an even deeper voice than usual, "Office jacket."

"Office jacket straight from the office," said Anna simply without looking at her brother.

"The lady fancies she has the ironic gift," answered Josef merrily, but his manifest restraint indicated that under other conditions he would have expressed himself less agreeably.

"Sympathy was universally felt," old Rosner began again. "I read an obituary in the Neuen Freie Presse on your good father by Herr Hoffrat Kerner, if I remember rightly; it was highly laudatory. Science too has suffered a sad loss."

George nodded in embarrassment, and looked at his hands.

Anna began to speak about her past summer-outing. "It was awfully pretty in Weissenfeld," she said. "The forest was just behind our house with good level roads, wasn't it, papa? One could walk there for hours and hours without meeting a soul."

"And did you have a piano out there?" asked George.

"Oh yes."

"An awful affair," observed Herr Rosner, "a thing fit to wake up the stones and drive men mad."

"It wasn't so bad," said Anna.

"Good enough for the little Graubinger girl," added Frau Rosner.

"The little Graubinger girl, you see, is the daughter of the local shopkeeper," explained Anna: "and I taught her the elements of pianoforte, a pretty little girl with long blonde pig-tails."

"Just a favour to the shopkeeper," said Frau Rosner.

"Quite so, but I should like to remind you," supplemented Anna, "that apart from that I gave real lessons, I mean paid-for ones."

"What, also in Weissenfeld?" asked George.

"Children on a holiday. Anyway, it's a pity, Herr Baron, that you never paid us a visit in the country. I am sure you would have liked it."

George then remembered for the first time that he had promised Anna that he would try to pay her a visit some time in the summer on a cycling tour.

"I am sure the Baron would not have found a place like that really to his liking," began Herr Rosner.

"Why not?" asked George.

"They don't cater there for the requirements of a spoilt Viennese."

"Oh, I'm not spoilt," said George.

"Weren't you at Auhof either?" Anna turned to George.

"Oh no," he answered quickly. "No, I wasn't there," he added less sharply. "I was invited though.... Frau Ehrenberg was so kind as to ... I had various invitations for the summer. But I preferred to stay in Vienna by myself."

"I am really sorry," said Anna, "not to see anything more of Else. You know of course that we went to the same boarding-school. Of course it's a long time ago. I really liked her. A pity that one gets so out of touch as time goes on."

"How is that?" asked George.

"Well, I suppose the reason is that I'm not particularly keen on the whole set."

"Nor am I," said Josef, who was blowing rings into the air.... "I haven't been there for years. Putting it quite frankly ... I've no idea, Baron, of your views on this question ... I'm not very gone on Israelites."

Herr Rosner looked up at his son. "My dear Josef, the Baron visits the house and it will strike him as rather strange...."

"I?" said George courteously. "I'm not at all on intimate terms with the Ehrenberg family, however much I enjoy talking to the two ladies." And then he added interrogatively, "But didn't you give singing lessons to Else last year, Fräulein Anna?"

"Yes. Or rather ... I just accompanied her...."

"I suppose you'll do so again this year?"

"I don't know. She hasn't shown any signs of life, so far."

"Perhaps she's giving it all up."

"You think so? It would be almost better if she did," replied Anna softly, "for as a matter of fact, it was more like squeaking than singing. But anyway," and she threw George a look which, as it were, welcomed him afresh, "the songs you sent me are very nice. Shall I sing them to you?"

"You've had a look at the things already? That is nice of you."

Anna had got up. She put both her hands on her temples and stroked her wavy hair gently, as though making it tidy. It was done fairly high, so that her figure seemed even taller than it actually was. A narrow golden watch-chain was twined twice round her bare neck, fell down over her bosom, and vanished in her grey leather belt. With an almost imperceptible nod of her head she asked George to accompany her.

He got up and said, "If you don't mind...."

"Not at all, not at all, of course not," said Herr Rosner. "Very kind of you, Baron, to do a little music with my daughter. Very nice, very nice."

Anna had stepped into the next room. George followed her and left the door open. The white tulle curtains were pinned together in front of the open window and fluttered slightly. George sat down at the cottage-piano and struck a few chords. Meanwhile, Anna knelt down in front of an old black partly gilded whatnot, and got out the music. George modulated the first chords of his song. Anna joined in and sang to George's song the Goethean words,

Deinem Blick mich zu bequemen,
Deinem Munde, deiner Brust,
Deine Stimme zu vernehmen,
War mir erst' und letzte Lust.


She stood behind him and looked over his shoulder at the music. At times she bent a little forward, and he then felt the breath of her lips upon his temples. Her voice was much more beautiful than he remembered its having ever been before.

They were speaking rather too loudly in the next room. Without stopping singing Anna shut the door. It had been Josef who had been unable to control his voice any longer.

"I'll just pop in to the café for a jiffy," he said.

There was no answer. Herr Rosner drummed gently on the table and his wife nodded with apparent indifference.

"Goodbye then." Josef turned round again at the door and said fairly resolutely: "Oh, mamma, if you've got a minute to spare by any chance——"

"I'm listening," said Frau Rosner. "It's not a secret, I suppose."

"No. It's only that I've got a running account with you already."

"Is it necessary to go to the café?" asked old Rosner simply, without looking up.

"It's not a question of the café. The fact is ... you can take it from me that I'd prefer myself not to have to borrow from you. But what is a man to do?"

"A man should work," said old Rosner gently, painfully, and his eyes reddened. His wife threw a sad and reproachful look at her son.

"Well," said Josef, unbuttoning his office coat, and then buttoning it up again—"that really is ... for every single gulden-note——"

"Pst," said Frau Rosner with a glance towards the door, which was ajar, and through which, now that Anna had finished her song, came the muffled sound of George's piano-playing.

Josef answered his mother's glance with a deprecatory wave of his hand. "Papa says I ought to work. As though I hadn't already proved that I can work." He saw two pairs of questioning eyes turned towards him. "Yes of course I proved it, and if it had only depended on me I'd have managed to get along all right. But I haven't got the temperament to put up with things, I'm not the kind to let myself be bullied by any chief if I happen to come in a quarter of an hour late—or anything like that."

"We know all about that," interrupted Herr Rosner wearily. "But after all, as we're already on the subject, you really must start looking round for something."

"Look round ... good ..." answered Josef. "But no one will persuade me to go into any business run by a Jew. It would make me the laughing-stock of all my acquaintances ... of my whole set in fact."

"Your set ..." said Frau Rosner. "What is your set? Café cronies?"

"Well if you don't mind, now that we are on the subject," said Josef—"it's connected with that gulden-note, too. I've got an appointment at the café now with young Jalaudek. I'd have preferred to have told you when the thing had gone quite through ... but I see now that I'd better show my hand straight away. Well, Jalaudek is the son of Councillor Jalaudek the celebrated paper-merchant. And old Jalaudek is well-known as a very influential personage in the party ... very intimate with the publisher of the Christliche Volksbote: his name is Zelltinkel. And they're looking out on the Volksbote for young men with good manners—Christians of course, for the advertisement business. And so I've got an appointment to-day with Jalaudek at the café, because he promised me his governor would recommend me to Zelltinkel. That would be ripping ... it would get me out of my mess. Then it wouldn't be long before I was earning a hundred or a hundred and fifty gulders a month."

"O dear!" sighed old Rosner.

The bell rang outside.

Rosner looked up.

"That must be young Doctor Stauber," said Frau Rosner and cast an anxious glance at the door, through which the sound of George's piano-playing came in even softer tones than before.

"Well, mamma, what's the matter?" said Josef.

Frau Rosner took out her purse and with a sigh gave her son a silver gulden.

"Much obliged," said Josef and turned to go.

"Josef," cried Herr Rosner, "it's really rather rude—at the very minute when we have a visitor——"

"Oh thank you, but I mustn't have all the treats."

There was a knock, Doctor Berthold Stauber came in.

"I apologise profusely, Herr Doctor," said Josef, "I'm just going out."

"Not at all," replied Doctor Stauber coldly, and Josef vanished.

Frau Rosner invited the young doctor to sit down. He took a seat on the ottoman and turned towards the quarter from which the piano-playing could be heard.

"Baron Wergenthin, the composer. Anna has just been singing," explained Frau Rosner, somewhat embarrassed. And she started to call her daughter in.

Doctor Berthold gripped her arm lightly but firmly, and said amiably: "No, please don't disturb Fräulein Anna, please don't. I'm not in the least hurry. Besides, this is a farewell visit." The latter words seemed jerked out of his throat; but Berthold nevertheless smiled courteously, leant back comfortably in his corner and stroked his short beard with his right hand.

Frau Rosner looked at him as if she were positively shocked.

"A farewell visit?" Herr Rosner asked. "Has the party allowed you to take a holiday, Herr Stauber? Parliament has only been assembled a short time, as one sees in the papers."
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Re: The Road to the Open, by Arthur Schnitzler

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:30 pm

PART 2 OF 3

"I have resigned my seat," said Berthold.

"What?" exclaimed Herr Rosner.

"Yes, resigned," repeated Berthold, and smiled nervously.

The piano-playing had suddenly stopped, the door which had been ajar was now opened. George and Anna appeared.

"Oh, Doctor Berthold," said Anna, and held out her hand to the doctor, who had immediately got up. "Have you been here long? Perhaps you heard me singing?"

"No, Fräulein, I'm sorry I was too late for that. I only caught a few notes on the piano."

"Baron Wergenthin," said Anna, as though she were introducing. "But of course you know each other?"

"Oh yes," answered George, and held out his hand to Berthold.

"The Doctor has come to pay us a farewell visit," said Frau Rosner.

"What?" exclaimed Anna in astonishment.

"I'm going on a journey, you see," said Berthold, and looked Anna in the face with a serious, impenetrable expression. "I'm giving up my political career ... or rather," he added jestingly, "I'm interrupting it for a while."

George leant on the window with his arms crossed over his breast and looked sideways at Anna. She had sat down and was looking quietly at Berthold, who was standing up with his hand resting on the back of the sofa, as though he were going to make a speech.

"And where are you going?" asked Anna.

"Paris. I'm going to work in the Pasteur Institute. I'm going back to my old love, bacteriology. It's a cleaner life than politics."

It had grown darker. The faces became vague, only Berthold's forehead, which was directly opposite the window, was still bathed in light. His brows were twitching. He really has his peculiar kind of beauty, thought George, who was leaning motionless in the window-niche and felt himself bathed in a pleasant sense of peace.

The housemaid brought in the burning lamp and hung it over the table.

"But the papers," said Herr Rosner, "have no announcement at all so far of your resigning your seat, Doctor Stauber."

"That would be premature," answered Berthold. "My colleagues and the party know my intention all right, but the thing isn't official yet."

"The news is bound to create a great sensation in the circles affected by it," said Herr Rosner—"particularly after the lively debate the other day in which you showed such spirit and determination. I suppose you've read about it, Baron?" He turned to George.

"I must confess," answered George, "that I don't follow the parliamentary reports as regularly as I really ought to."

"Ought to," repeated Berthold meditatively. "There's no question of 'ought' about it really, although the session has not been uninteresting during the last few days—at any rate as a proof of how low a level a public body can sink to."

"The debate was very heated," said Herr Rosner.

"Heated?... Well, yes, what we call heated here in Austria. People were inwardly indifferent and outwardly offensive."

"What was it all about then?" inquired George.

"It was the debate arising out of the questions on the Golowski case.... Therese Golowski."

"Therese Golowski ..." repeated George. "I seem to know the name."

"Of course you know it," said Anna. "You know Therese herself. She was just leaving the house when you called the last time."

"Oh yes," said George, "one of your friends."

"I wouldn't go so far as to call her a friend; that seems to imply a certain mental sympathy that doesn't quite exist."

"You certainly don't mean to repudiate Therese," said Doctor Berthold smiling, but dryly.

"Oh no," answered Anna quickly. "I really never thought of doing that. I even admire her; as a matter of fact I admire all people who are able to risk so much for something that doesn't really concern them at all. And when a young girl does that, a pretty young girl like Therese"—she was addressing herself to George who was listening attentively—"I am all the more impressed. You know of course that Therese is one of the leaders of the Social Democratic Party?"

"And do you know what I took her for?" said George. "For a budding actress."

"You're quite a judge of character, Herr Baron," said Berthold.

"She really did mean to go on the stage once," corroborated Frau Rosner coldly.

"But just consider, Frau Rosner," said Berthold. "What young girl is there with any imagination, especially if she lives in cramped surroundings into the bargain, who has not at some time or other in her life at any rate coquetted with such an idea."

"Your forgiving her is good," said Anna, smiling.

It struck Berthold too late that this remark of his had probably touched a still sensitive spot in Anna's mind. But he continued with all the greater deliberation. "I assure you, Fräulein Anna, it would be a great pity if Therese were to go on the stage, for there's no getting away from the fact that she can still do her party a tremendous lot of good if she isn't torn away from her career."

"Do you regard that as possible?" asked Anna.

"Certainly," replied Berthold. "Therese is between two dangers, she will either talk her head off one fine day...."

"Or?" inquired George, who had grown inquisitive.

"Or she'll marry a Baron," finished Berthold curtly.

"I don't quite understand," said George deprecatingly.

"I only said 'Baron' for a joke, of course. Substitute Prince for Baron and I make my meaning clearer."

"I see ... I can now get some idea of what you mean, Doctor.... But how did Parliament come to bother about her?"

"Well, it's like this, last year—at the time of the great coal-strike—Therese Golowski made a speech in some Bohemian hole, which contained an expression which was alleged to be offensive to a member of the Imperial family. She was prosecuted and acquitted. One might perhaps draw the conclusion from this that there was no particular substance in the prosecution. Anyway the State Prosecutor gave notice of appeal, there was an order for a new trial, and Therese was sentenced to two months' imprisonment, which she is now serving, and as if that wasn't enough the Judge who had discharged her in the Court of first instance was transferred ... to somewhere on the Russian frontier, from where no one ever comes back. Well, we put a question over this business, which in my view was extremely tame. The Minister answered somewhat disingenuously amid the cheers of the so-called Constitutional parties. I ventured to reply in possibly somewhat more drastic terms than members are accustomed to use, and as the benches on the other side had no facts with which to answer me they tried to overwhelm me by shouts and abuse. And of course you can imagine what the strongest argument was, which a certain type of Conservatives used against my points."

"Well?" queried George.

"Hold your jaw, Jew," answered Berthold with tightly compressed lips.

"Oh," said George with embarrassment, and shook his head.

"Be quiet, Jew! Hold your jaw! Jew! Jew! Shut up!" continued Berthold, who seemed somewhat to revel in the recollection.

Anna looked straight in front of her. George thought that this was quite enough. There was a short, painful silence.

"So that was why?" inquired Anna slowly.

"What do you mean?" asked Berthold.

"That's why you're resigning your seat."

Berthold shook his head and smiled. "No, not because of that."

"You are, of course, above such coarse insults, Doctor," said Herr Rosner.

"I won't go quite so far as that," answered Berthold, "but one always has to be prepared for things like that all the same. I'm resigning my seat for a different reason."

"May one ask what it is?" queried George.

Berthold looked at him with an air which was penetrating and yet distrait. He then answered courteously: "Of course you may. I went into the buffet after my speech. I met there, among others, one of the silliest and cheekiest of our democratic popular representatives, who, as he usually does, had made more row than any one else while I was speaking ... Jalaudek the paper-merchant. Of course I didn't pay any attention to him. He was just putting down his empty glass. When he saw me he smiled, nodded and hailed me as cheerily as though nothing had taken place at all. 'Hallo, Doctor, won't you have a drink with me?'"

"Incredible!" exclaimed George.

"Incredible?... No, Austrian. Our indignation is as little genuine as our enthusiasm. The only things genuine with us are our malice and our hate of talent."

"Well, and what did you answer the man?" asked Anna.

"What did I answer? Nothing, of course."

"And you resigned your seat," added Anna with gentle raillery.

Berthold smiled. But at the same time his eye-brows twitched, as was his habit when he was painfully or disagreeably affected. It was too late to tell her that as a matter of fact he had come to ask her for her advice, as he used to do in the old days. And at any rate he felt sure of this, he had done wisely in cutting off all retreat as soon as he entered the room by announcing the resignation of his seat as an already accomplished fact, and his journey to Paris as directly imminent. For he now knew for certain that Anna had again escaped him, perhaps for a long time. He did not believe for a minute that any man was capable of winning her really and permanently, and it never entered his head for a minute to be jealous of that elegant young artist who was standing so quietly by the window with his crossed arms. It had happened many times before that Anna had fluttered away for a time, as though fascinated by the magic of an element which was strange to her. Why only two years ago, when she was thinking seriously of going on the stage, and had already begun to learn her parts, he had given her up for a short time as completely lost. Subsequently when she had been compelled to relinquish her artistic projects, owing to the unreliability of her voice, she seemed as if she wanted to come back to him again. But he had deliberately refused to exploit the opportunities of that period. For he wanted before he made her his wife to have won some triumph, either in science or in politics, and to have obtained her genuine admiration. He had been well on the way to it. In the very seat where she was now sitting as she looked him straight in the face with those clear but alas! cold eyes, she had looked at the proofs of his latest medico-philosophical work which bore the title Preliminary Observations on the Physiognomical Diagnosis of Diseases. And then, when he finally left science for politics, at the time when he made speeches at election meetings and equipped himself for his new career by serious studies in history and political economy, she had sincerely rejoiced in his energy and his versatility.

All this was now over. She had grown to eye more and more severely those faults of his of which he was quite aware himself, and particularly his tendency to be swept away by the intoxication of his own words, with the result that he came to lose more and more of his self-confidence in his attitude towards her. He was never quite himself when he spoke to her, or in her presence. He was not satisfied with himself to-day either. He was conscious, with an irritation which struck even himself as petty, that he had not given sufficient force to his encounter with Jalaudek in the buffet, and that he ought to have made his detestation of politics ring far more plausibly.

"You are probably quite right, Fräulein Anna," he said, "if you smile at my resigning my seat on account of that silly incident. A parliamentary life without its share of comedy is an absolute impossibility. I should have realised it, played up to it and taken every opportunity of drinking with the fellow who had publicly insulted me. It would have been convenient, Austrian—and possibly even the most correct course to have taken." He felt himself in full swing again and continued with animation. "What it comes to in the end is that there are two methods of doing anything worth doing in politics. The one is a magnificent flippancy which looks on the whole of public life as an amusing game, has no true enthusiasm for anything, and no true indignation against anything, and which regards the people whose misery or happiness are ultimately at stake with consummate indifference. I have not progressed so far, and I don't know that I should ever have succeeded in doing so. Quite frankly, I have often wished I could have. The other method is this: to be ready every single minute to sacrifice one's whole existence, one's life, in the truest sense of the word, for what one believes to be right——"

Berthold suddenly stopped. His father, old Doctor Stauber, had come in and been heartily welcomed. He shook hands with George, who had been introduced to him by Frau Rosner, and looked at him so kindly that George felt himself immediately drawn towards him. He looked younger than he was. His long reddish-yellow beard was only streaked by a few grey hairs, and his smoothly combed long hair fell in thick locks on to his broad neck. The strikingly high forehead gave a kind of majesty to the somewhat thick-set figure with its high shoulders. When his eyes were not making a special point of looking kind or shrewd they seemed to be resting behind the tired lids as though to gather the energy for the next look.

"I knew your mother, Herr Baron," he said to George rather gently.

"My mother, Herr Doctor...?"

"You will scarcely remember it, you were only a little boy of three or four at the time."

"You attended her?" asked George.

"I visited her sometimes as deputy for Professor Duchegg, whose assistant I was. You used to live then in the Habsburgergasse, in an old house that has been pulled down long ago. I could describe to you even to-day the furniture of the room in which I was received by your father ... whose premature death I deeply regret.... There was a bronze figure on the secretary, a knight in armour to be sure with a flag, and a copy of a Vandyck from the Liechtenstein gallery hung on the wall."

"Yes, quite right," said George, amazed at the doctor's good memory.

"But I have interrupted your conversation," continued Doctor Stauber in that droning slightly melancholy and yet superior tone which was peculiar to him, and sat down in the corner of the sofa.

"Doctor Berthold has just been telling us, to our great astonishment," said Herr Rosner, "that he has decided to resign his seat."

Old Stauber directed a quiet look towards his son, which the latter answered with equal quietness. George, who had watched this play of the eyes, had the impression that there prevailed between these two a tacit understanding which did not need any words.

"Yes," said Doctor Stauber. "I wasn't at all surprised. I've always felt as though Berthold were never really quite at home in Parliament, and I am really glad that he has now begun to pine as it were to go back to his real calling. Yes, yes, your real calling, Berthold," he repeated, as though to answer his son's furrowed brow. "You have not prejudiced your future by it, in the least. Nothing makes life so difficult as our frequent belief in consistency ... and our wasting our time in being ashamed of a mistake, instead of owning up to it and simply starting life again on a fresh basis."

Berthold explained that he meant to leave in eight days at the outside. There would be no point in postponing his journey beyond that time, it would be possible too that he might not remain in Paris. His studies might necessitate travelling further afield. Further, he had decided not to make any farewell visits. He had, he added by way of explanation, completely given up all association with certain bourgeois sets, among whom his father had an extensive practice.

"Didn't we meet each other once this winter at Ehrenbergs'?" asked George with a certain amount of satisfaction.

"That's right," answered Berthold. "We are distantly related to the Ehrenbergs you know. The Golowski family is curiously enough the connecting link between us. It would be no good, Herr Baron, if I were to make any attempt to explain it to you in greater detail. I should have to take you on a journey through the registry offices and congregations of Temesvar Tarnopol and similar pleasant localities—and that you mightn't quite fancy."

"Anyway," added old Doctor Stauber in a resigned tone, "the Baron is bound to know that all Jews are related to one another."

George smiled amiably. As a matter of fact it rather jarred on his nerves. There was no necessity at all, in his view, for Doctor Stauber as well officially to communicate to him his membership of the Jewish community. He already knew it and bore him no grudge for it. He bore him no grudge at all for it; but why do they always begin to talk about it themselves? Wherever he went, he only met Jews who were ashamed of being Jews, or the type who were proud of it and were frightened of people thinking they were ashamed of it.

"I had a chat with old Frau Golowski yesterday," continued Doctor Stauber.

"Poor woman," said Herr Rosner.

"How is she?" asked Anna.

"How is she ... you can imagine ... her daughter in prison, her son a conscript—he is living in the barracks at the expense of the State ... just imagine Leo Golowski as a patriot ... and the old man sits in the café and watches the other people playing chess. He himself can't even run nowadays to the ten kreuzers for the chess money."

"Therese's imprisonment must soon be over anyway," said Berthold.

"It still lasts another twelve, fourteen days," replied his father.... "Come, Annerl"—he turned towards the young girl—"it would be really nice of you if you were to show yourself once more in Rembrandtstrasse; the old lady has taken an almost pathetic fancy to you. I really can't understand why," he added with a smile, while he looked at Anna almost tenderly.

She looked straight in front of her and made no answer.

The clock on the wall struck seven. George got up as though he had simply been waiting for the signal.

"Going so soon, Herr Baron?" said Herr Rosner, getting up.

George requested the company not to disturb themselves, and shook hands all round.

"It is strange," said old Stauber, "how your voice reminds one of your poor father."

"Yes, many people have said so," replied George. "I, personally, can't see any trace of it."

"There isn't a man in the world who knows his own voice," remarked old Stauber, and it sounded like the beginning of a popular lecture.

But George took his leave. Anna accompanied him, in spite of his slight remonstrance, into the hall and left the door half open—almost on purpose, so it struck George. "It's a pity we couldn't go on with our music any longer," she said.

"I'm sorry too, Fräulein Anna."

"I liked the song to-day even better than the first time, when I had to accompany myself, only it falls off a bit at the end.... I don't know how to express myself."

"Oh, I know what you mean, the end is conventional. I felt so too. I hope soon to be able to bring you something better than that, Fräulein Anna."

"But don't keep me waiting for it too long."

"I certainly won't. Goodbye, Fräulein Anna." They shook hands with each other and both smiled.

"Why didn't you come to Weissenfeld?" asked Anna lightly.

"I am really sorry, but just consider, Fräulein Anna, I could scarcely get in the mood for society of any kind this year, you can quite appreciate that."

Anna looked at him seriously. "Don't you think," she said, "that perhaps one might have been some help to you in bearing it?"

"There's a draught, Anna," called out Frau Rosner from inside.

"I'm coming in a minute," answered Anna with a touch of impatience. But Frau Rosner had already shut the door.

"When can I come back?" asked George.

"Whenever you like. At any rate ... I really ought to give you a written time-table, so that you may know when I'm at home, but that wouldn't be much good either. I often go for walks or go shopping in town or go to picture galleries or exhibitions——"

"We might do that together one day," said George.

"Oh, yes," answered Anna, took her purse out of her pocket and then took out a tiny note-book.

"What have you got there?" asked George.

Anna smiled and turned over the leaves of a little book. "Just wait.... I meant to go and see the Exhibition of Miniatures in the Royal Library at eleven on Thursday. If you too are interested in miniatures, we might meet there."

"Delighted, I'm sure."

"Right you are then, we can then arrange the next time for you to accompany my singing."

"Done," said George and shook hands with her. It struck him that while Anna was chatting with him here outside, young Doctor Stauber would doubtless be getting irritated or offended inside, and he was surprised that he should be more disturbed by this circumstance than Anna, who struck him as on the whole a perfectly good-natured person. He freed his hand from hers, said good-bye and went.

It was quite dark when George got into the streets. He strolled slowly over the Elizabeth Bridge to the Opera, past the centre of the town and undisturbed by the hubbub and traffic around him, listened mentally to the tune of his song. He thought it strange that Anna's voice which had so pure and sound a tone in a small room, should have no future whatsoever before it on the stage and concert platform, and even stranger that Anna scarcely seemed to mind this tragic fact. But of course he was not quite clear in his mind whether Anna's calmness really reflected her true character.

He had known her more or less casually for some years, but an evening in the previous spring had been the first occasion when they had become rather more intimate. A large party had been got up on that occasion in the Waldsteingarten. They took their meal in the open air under the high chestnut-trees, and they all experienced the pleasure, excitement and fascination of the first warm May evening of the year. George conjured up in his mind all the people who had come: Frau Ehrenberg, the organiser of the party, dressed in an intentionally matronly style, in a dark loose-fitting foulard dress; Hofrat Wilt, wearing as it were the mask of an English statesman with all the sloppy aristocracy of his nonchalant demeanour, and his chronic and somewhat cheap superior manner towards everything and everybody; Frau Oberberger who looked like a rococo marquise with her grey powdered hair, her flashing eyes and her beauty spot on her chin; Demeter Stanzides with his white gleaming teeth and that pale forehead that showed all the weariness of an old race of heroes; Oskar Ehrenberg dressed with a smartness that smacked a great deal of the head clerk in a dressmaking establishment, a great deal of a young music-hall comedian and something, too, of a young society man; Sissy Wyner who kept switching her dark laughing eyes from one man to another, as though she had a merry secret understanding with every single member of the party; Willy Eissler who related in his hoarse jovial voice all kinds of jolly anecdotes of his soldier days and Jewish stories as well; Else Ehrenberg in a white English cloth dress with all the delicate melancholy of the spring flowing around her, while her grande dame movements combined with her baby-face and delicate figure to invest her with an almost pathetic grace; Felician, cold and courteous, with haughty eyes which gazed between the members of the party to the other tables, and from the other tables beyond into the distance; Sissy's mother, young, red-cheeked and a positive chatter-box, who wanted to talk about everything at the same time and to listen to everything at the same time; Edmund Nürnberger with his piercing eyes and his thin mouth curving into that smile of contempt (which had almost become a chronic mask) for that whirligig of life, which he thoroughly saw through, though to his own amazement he frequently discovered that he was playing in the game himself; and then finally Heinrich Bermann in a summer suit that was too loose, with a straw hat that was too cheap and a tie that was too light, who one moment spoke louder than the others and at the next moment was more noticeably silent.

Last of all Anna Rosner had appeared, self-possessed and without any escort, greeted the party with a slight nod and composedly sat down between Frau Ehrenberg and George. "I have asked her for you," said Frau Ehrenberg softly to George, who prior to this evening had scarcely given Anna a single thought. These words, which perhaps only originated in a stray idea of Frau Ehrenberg's, became true in the course of the evening. From the moment when the party got up and started on their merry expedition through the Volksprater George and Anna had remained together everywhere, in the side-shows and also on the journey home to town, which for the fun of the thing was done on foot, and surrounded though they were by all that buzz of jollity and foolishness they had finished by starting a perfectly rational conversation. A few days later he called and brought her as he had promised the piano score of "Eugen Onegin" and some of his songs; on his next visit she sang these songs over to him as well as many of Schubert's, and he was very pleased with her voice. Shortly afterwards they said goodbye to each other for the summer without a single trace of sentimentalism or tenderness. George had regarded Anna's invitation to Weissenfeld as a mere piece of politeness, just in the same way as he had thought his promise to come had been understood; and the atmosphere of to-day's visit when compared with the innocence of their previous acquaintance was bound to strike George as extremely strange
.
At the Stephansplatz George saw that he was being saluted by some one standing on the platform of a horse-omnibus. George, who was somewhat short-sighted, did not immediately recognise the man who was saluting him.

"It's me," said the gentleman on the platform.

"Oh, Herr Bermann, good evening." George shook hands with him. "Which way are you going?"

"I'm going into the Prater. I'm going to dine down there. Have you anything special on, Baron?"

"Nothing at all."

"Well, come along with me then."

George swung himself on to the omnibus, which had just begun to move on. They told each other cursorily how they had spent the summer. Heinrich had been in the Salzkammergut and subsequently in Germany, from which he had only come back a few days ago.

"Oh, in Berlin?" hazarded George.

"No."

"I thought perhaps in connection with a new piece——"

"I haven't written a new piece," interrupted Heinrich somewhat rudely. "I was in the Taunus and on the Rhine in several places."

"What's he got to do on the Rhine?" thought George, although the topic did not interest him any further. It struck him that Bermann was looking in front of him in a manner that was not only absent-minded but really almost melancholy.

"And how's your work getting on, my dear Baron?" asked Heinrich with sudden animation, while he drew closer round him the dark grey overcoat which hung over his shoulders.[1] "Have you finished your quintette?"

"My quintette?" repeated George in astonishment. "Have I spoken to you about my quintette, then?"

"No, not you, but Fräulein Else told me that you were working at a quintette."

"I see, Fräulein Else. No, I haven't got much further with it. I didn't feel quite in the mood, as you can imagine."

"Quite," said Heinrich, and was silent for a while. "And your father was still so young," he added slowly.

George nodded in silence.

"How is your brother?" asked Heinrich suddenly.

"Quite well, thanks," answered George somewhat coldly.

Heinrich threw his cigarette over the rail and immediately proceeded to light another. Then he said: "You must be surprised at my inquiring after your brother when I have scarcely ever spoken to him. But he interests me. He represents in my view a type which is absolutely perfect of its kind, and I regard him as one of the happiest men going."

"That may well be," answered George hesitatingly. "But how do you come to think so seeing that you scarcely know him?"

"In the first place his name is Felician Freiherr von Wergenthin-Recco," said Heinrich very seriously, and blew the smoke into the air.

George looked at him with some astonishment.

"Of course your name is Wergenthin-Recco, too," continued Heinrich, "but only George—and that's not the same by a long way, is it? Besides, your brother is very handsome. Of course you haven't got at all a bad appearance. But people whose real point is that they're handsome have really a much better time of it than others whose real point is that they're clever. If you are handsome you are handsome for always, while clever people, or at any rate nine-tenths of them, spend their life without showing a single trace of talent. Yes, that's certainly the case. The line of life is clearer so to speak when one is handsome than when one is a genius. Of course all this could be expressed far better."

George was disagreeably affected. What's the matter with him? he thought. Can he perhaps be jealous of Felician ... on account of Else Ehrenberg?

They got out at the Praterstern. The great stream of the Sunday crowd was flowing towards them. They went towards the Hauptallee, where there was no longer any crush, and strolled slowly on. It had grown cool. George made remarks about the autumnal atmosphere of the evening, the people sitting in the restaurants, the military bands playing in the kiosks.

At first Heinrich answered offhandedly, and subsequently not at all, and finally seemed scarcely to be paying any attention. George thought this rude. He was almost sorry that he had joined Heinrich, all the more so as he made it an almost invariable practice not to respond straight away to casual invitations. The excuse he gave to himself was that it was simply out of absent-mindedness that he had done it on this occasion. Heinrich was walking close to him or even going a few steps in front, as if he were completely oblivious of George's presence. He still held tightly in both hands the overcoat which was swung round him, wore his dark grey felt hat pressed down over his forehead and looked extremely uncouth. His appearance suddenly began to jar keenly on George's nerves. Heinrich Bermann's previous remarks about Felician now struck him as in bad taste, and as quite devoid of tact, and it occurred to him at the psychological moment that practically all he knew of Heinrich's literary productions had gone against the grain. He had seen two pieces of his: one where the scene was laid in the lower strata of society, among artizans or factory workers, and which finished up with murder and fatal blows; the other a kind of satirical society comedy whose first production had occasioned a scandal and which had soon been taken out of the repertoire of the theatre. Anyway George did not then know the author personally, and had taken no further interest in the whole thing. He only remembered that Felician had thought the piece absolutely ridiculous, and that Count Schönstein had expressed the opinion that if he had anything to do with it pieces written by Jews should only be allowed to be performed by the Buda-Pesth Orpheum Company.[2] But Doctor von Breitner in particular, a baptised Jew with a philosophical mind, had given vent to his indignation that such an adventurer of a young man should have dared to have put a world on to the stage that was obviously closed to him, and which it was consequently impossible for him to know anything about.

While George was remembering all this his irritation at the rude conduct and stubborn silence of his companion rose to a genuine sense of enmity, and quite unconsciously he began to think that all the insults which had been previously directed against Bermann had been in fact justified. He now remembered too that Heinrich had been personally antipathetic to him from the beginning, and that he had indulged in some ironic remark to Frau Ehrenberg about her cleverness in having lost no time in adding that young celebrity to the tame lions in her drawing-room. Else, of course, had immediately taken Heinrich's part, and explained that he was an interesting man, was in many respects positively charming, and had prophesied to George that sooner or later he would become good friends with him. And as a matter of fact George had preserved, as the result of that nocturnal conversation on the seat in the Ringstrasse in the spring of this year, a certain sympathy for Bermann which had survived down to the present evening.

They had passed the last inns some time ago. The white high road ran by their side out into the night on a straight and lonely track between the trees, and the very distant music only reached them in more or less broken snatches.

"But where are you going to?" Heinrich exclaimed suddenly, as though he had been dragged there against his will, and stood still.

"I really can't help it," remarked George simply.

"Excuse me," said Heinrich.

"You were so deep in thought," retorted George coolly.

"I wouldn't quite like to say 'deep.' But it often happens that one loses oneself in one's thoughts like this."

"I know," said George, somewhat reconciled.

"They were expecting you in August at Auhof," said Heinrich suddenly.

"Expected? Frau Ehrenberg was certainly kind enough to invite me, but I never accepted. Did you stay there a fairly long time, Herr Bermann?"

"A fairly long time? No. I was up there a few times, but only for an hour or so."

"I thought you stayed there."

"Not a bit of it. I stayed down at the hotel. I only occasionally went up to Auhof. There was too much noise and bustle there for me.... The house was positively packed with visitors. And I can't stand most of the people who go there."

An open fiacre in which a gentleman and lady were sitting passed by.
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Re: The Road to the Open, by Arthur Schnitzler

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:30 pm

PART 3 OF 3

"Why, that was Oskar Ehrenberg," said Heinrich.

"And the lady?" queried George, looking towards something bright that gleamed through the darkness.

"Don't know her."

They turned their steps through a dark side-avenue. The conversation stuck again. Finally Heinrich began: "Fräulein Else sang a few of your songs to me at Auhof. I'd heard some of them already too, sung by the Bellini, I think."

"Yes, Bellini sang them last winter at a concert."

"Well, Fräulein Else sang those songs and some others of yours as well."

"Who accompanied her, then?"

"I myself, as well as I could. I must tell you, my dear Baron, that as a matter of fact those songs impressed me even more than when I heard them the first time at the concert, in spite of the fact that Fräulein Else has considerably less voice and technique than Fräulein Bellini. Of course one must take into consideration on the other hand that it was a magnificent summer afternoon when Fräulein Else sang your songs. The window was open, there was a view of the mountains and the deep-blue sky opposite ... but anyway, you came in for a more than sufficient share of the credit."

"Very flattering," said George, who felt pained by Heinrich's sarcastic tone.

"You know," continued Heinrich, speaking as he frequently did with clenched teeth and unnecessary emphasis, "you know it is not generally my habit to invite people whom I happen to see in the street to join me in an omnibus, and I prefer to tell you at once that I regarded it as—what does one say?—a sign of fate when I suddenly caught sight of you on the Stephansplatz."

George listened to him in amazement.

"You perhaps don't remember as well as I do," continued Heinrich, "our last conversation on that seat in the Ringstrasse."

George now remembered for the first time that Heinrich had then made a quite casual allusion to the libretto of an opera on which he was busy, and that he had offered himself as the composer of the music with equal casualness and more as a joke than anything else. He answered with deliberate coldness: "Oh yes, I remember."

"Well, that binds you to nothing," answered Heinrich, even more coldly than the other. "All the less so since, to tell you the truth, I've not given my opera libretto a single thought till that beautiful summer afternoon when Fräulein Else sang your song. Anyway, what do you say to our stopping here?"

The restaurant garden which they entered was fairly empty. Heinrich and George sat down in a little arbour next to the green wooden railing and ordered their dinner.

Heinrich leant back, stretched out his legs, looked with probing almost cynical eyes at George, who maintained an obstinate silence, and said suddenly: "I don't think I am making a mistake if I venture to presume that you've not been exactly keen on the things I have done so far."

"Oh," answered George, blushing a little, "what makes you think that?"

"Well, I know my pieces ... and I know you."

"Me!" queried George, feeling almost insulted.

"Certainly," replied Heinrich in a superior manner. "Besides, I have the same feeling with regard to most men, and I regard this faculty as the only indisputable one I've really got. All my others, I think, are fairly problematical. My so-called art in particular is more or less mediocre, and a good deal too could be said against my character. The only thing which gives me a certain amount of confidence is simply the consciousness of being able to see right into people's souls ... right deep down, every one, rogues and honest people, men, women and children, heathens, Jews and Protestants, yes, even Catholics, aristocrats and Germans, although I have heard that that is supposed to be infinitely difficult, not to say impossible, for people like myself."

George gave a slight start. He knew that Heinrich had been subjected to the most violent personal attacks by the clerical and conservative press, particularly with reference to his last piece. "But what's that got to do with me?" thought George. There was another one of them who had been insulted! It was really absolutely impossible to associate with these people on a neutral footing. He said politely, though coldly, with a semi-conscious recollection of old Herr Rosner's retort to young Dr. Stauber: "I really thought that people like you were above attacks of the kind to which you're obviously alluding."

"Really ... you thought that?" queried Heinrich, in that cold almost repulsive manner which was peculiar to him on many occasions. "Well," he went on more gently, "that is the case sometimes. But unfortunately not always. It doesn't need much to wake up that self-contempt which is always lying dormant within us; and once that takes place there isn't a single rogue or a single scoundrel with whom we don't join forces, and quite sincerely too, in attacking our own selves. Excuse me if I say 'we.'"

"Oh, I've frequently felt something of the same kind myself. Of course I have not yet had the opportunity of being exposed to the public as often as you and in the same way."

"Well, supposing you did ... you would never have to go through quite what I did."

"Why not?" queried George, slightly hurt.

Heinrich looked him sharply in the face. "You are the Baron von Wergenthin-Recco."

"So that's your reason! But you must remember that there are a whole lot of people going about to-day who are prejudiced against one for that very reason—and manage to cast in one's teeth the fact of one's being a baron whenever they get a chance."

"Yes, yes, but I think you will agree with me that being ragged for being a baron is a very different matter than being ragged for being a 'Jew,' although the latter—you'll forgive me of course—may at times denote the better aristocracy. Well, you needn't look at me so pitifully," he added with abrupt rudeness. "I am not always so sensitive. I have other moods in which nothing can affect me in any way nor any person either. Then I feel simply this—what do you all know—what do you know about me...." He stopped, proudly, with a scornful look that seemed to pierce through the foliage of the arbour into the darkness. He then turned his head, looked round and said simply to George in quite a new tone: "Just look, we shall soon be the only ones left."

"It is getting quite cold, too," said George.

"I think we might still stroll a bit through the Prater."

"Charmed."

They got up and went. A fine grey cloud hung over a meadow which they passed.

"The fraud of summer doesn't last after nightfall. It'll soon all be over," said Heinrich in a tone of unmitigated melancholy, while he added, as though to console himself: "Well, one will be able to work."

They came into the Wurstelprater. The sound of music rang out from the restaurants, and some of the exuberant gaiety communicated itself to George. He felt suddenly swung out of the dismalness of an inn garden at autumn time and a somewhat painful conversation into a new world. A tout, in front of a merry-go-round, from which a gigantic hurdy-gurdy sent into the open air the pot-pourri cut of the "Troubadour" with all the effect of some fantastic organ, invited people to take a journey to London, Atzgersdorf and Australia. George remembered again the excursion in the spring with the Ehrenberg party. It was on this narrow seat inside the room that Frau Oberberger had sat with Demeter Stanzides, the lion of the evening, by her side, and had probably told him one of her incredible stories: that her mother had been the mistress of a Russian Grand Prince; that she herself had spent a night with an admirer in the Hallstadt cemetery, of course without anything happening; or that her husband, the celebrated traveller, had made conquests of seventeen women in one week in one harem at Smyrna. It was in this carriage upholstered in red velvet, with Hofrat Wilt as her vis-à-vis, that Else had lounged with lady-like grace, just as though she were in a carriage on Derby Day, while she yet managed to show by her manner and demeanour that, if it came to the point, she herself could be quite as childish as other persons of happier and less complex temperaments. Anna Rosner with the reins nonchalantly in her hand, looking dignified, but with a somewhat sly face, rode a white Arab; Sissy rocked about on a black horse that not only turned round in a circle with the other animals and carriages, but swung up and down as well. The boldest eyes imaginable flashed and laughed beneath the audacious coiffure with its gigantic black feather hat, while her white skirt fluttered and flew over her low-cut patent leather shoes and open-work stockings. Sissy's appearance had produced so strange an effect on a couple of strangers that they called out to her a quite unambiguous invitation. There had then ensued a short mysterious interview between Willy, who immediately came on the spot, and the two somewhat embarrassed gentlemen, who first tried to save their faces by lighting fresh cigarettes with deliberate nonchalance and then suddenly vanished in the crowd.

Even the side-show with its "Illusions" and "Illuminated Pictures" had special memories for George. It was here, while Daphne was turning into a tree, that Sissy had whispered into his ear a gentle "remember" and thus called to his memory that masked ball at Ehrenberg's at which she had lifted up her lace veil for a fleeting kiss, though presumably he had not been the only one. Then there was the hut where the whole party had had themselves photographed: the three young girls, Anna, Else and Sissy in the pose of classical goddesses and the men at their feet with ecstatic eyes, so that the whole thing looked like the climax of a transformation scene. And while George was thinking of these little episodes there floated up through his memory the way in which he and Anna had said goodbye to-day, and it seemed full of the most pleasant promise.

A striking number of people stood in front of an open shooting gallery. Now the drummer was hit in the heart and beat quick strokes upon his drum, now the glass ball which was dancing to and fro upon a jet of water broke with a slight click, now avivandière hastily put her trumpet to her mouth and blew a menacing blast, now a little railway thundered out of a door which had sprung open, whizzed over a flying bridge and was swallowed up by another door.

When the crowd began to thin, George and Heinrich made their way to the front and recognised that the good shots were Oskar Ehrenberg and his lady friend. Oskar was just aiming his gun at an eagle which was moving up and down near the ceiling with outstretched wings, and missed for the first time. He laid his weapon down in indignation, gazed round him, saw the two gentlemen behind him and saluted them.

The young lady with her cheek resting on her gun threw a fleeting glance at the new arrivals, then aimed again with great keenness, and pressed the trigger. The eagle drooped its hit wings and did not move any more.

"Bravo," shouted Oskar.

The lady laid the weapon before her on the table. "That's my little lot," she said to the boy who wanted to load again. "I've won."

"How many shots were there?" asked Oskar.

"Forty," answered the boy, "that's eighty kreuzers." Oskar put his hand into his waistcoat pocket, threw a silver gulden down and received with condescension the thanks of the loading boy. "Allow me," he then said, while he placed both his hands on his hips, moved the top of his body slightly in front and put his left foot forward, "Allow me, Amy, to introduce the gentlemen who witnessed your triumph, Baron Wergenthin, Herr von Bermann ... Fräulein Amelie Reiter."

The gentlemen lifted their hats, Amelie returned the greeting by nodding a few times with her head. She wore a simple foulard dress designed in white, and over it a light cloak of bright yellow bordered with lace and a black but extremely lively hat.

"I know Herr von Bermann already," she said. She turned towards him. "I saw you at the first night of your play last winter, when you came on the stage to bow your acknowledgments. I enjoyed myself very much. Don't think I am saying this as a mere compliment."

Heinrich thanked her sincerely.

They walked on further between side-shows which were growing quieter and quieter, past inn gardens which were gradually becoming empty.

Oskar thrust his right arm through his companion's left and then turned to George. "Why didn't you come to Auhof this year? We were all very sorry."

"Unfortunately I didn't feel much in the mood for society."

"Of course, I can quite understand," said Oskar with all proper seriousness. "I was only there myself for a few weeks. In August I strengthened my tired limbs in the waves of the North Sea; I was in the Isle of Wight, you know."

"That must be very nice," said George. "Who is it that always goes there?"

"You're thinking of the Wyners," replied Oskar. "When they used to live in London they went there regularly, but now they only go there every two or three years."

"But they've kept the Y for Austrian consumption as well," said George with a smile.

Oskar was serious. "Old Herr Wyner," he answered, "honestly earned his right to the Y. He went to England in his thirteenth year, became naturalised there and was made a partner when quite a young man in the great steel manufacturing concern which is still called Black & Wyner."

"At any rate he got his wife from Vienna."

"Yes, and when he died seven or eight years ago she came over here with her two children, but James will never get acclimatised here.... Lord Antinous, you know, that's what Frau Oberberger calls him. He is now back at Cambridge again where strangely enough he is studying Greek scholarship. Demeter was a few days in Ventnor, too."

"Stanzides?" added George.

"Do you know Herr von Stanzides, Herr Baron?" asked Amy.

"Oh yes."

"Then he does really exist?" she exclaimed.

"Yes, but just you listen," said Oskar. "She put a lot of money on him this spring at Freudenau, and won a lot of money, and now she inquires if he really exists."

"What makes you have doubts about Stanzides' existence, Fräulein?" asked George.

"Well, you know, whenever I don't know where he is—Oskar, I mean—it's always a case of 'I've an appointment with Stanzides' or 'I'm riding with Stanzides in the Prater.' Stanzides this and Stanzides that, why it sounds more like an excuse than a name."

"You be quiet now, will you?" said Oskar gently.

"Not only does Stanzides exist," explained George, "but he has the most beautiful black moustache and the most fiery black eyes that are to be found anywhere."

"That's quite possible, but when I saw him he looked more like a jack-in-the-box, yellow jacket, green cap, violet sleeves."

"And she won forty gulden on him," added Oskar facetiously.

"And where are the forty gulden?" sighed Fräulein Amelie.... Then she suddenly stood still and exclaimed: "But I've never yet been on it."

"Well, that can be remedied," said Oskar simply.

The Great Wheel was turning slowly and majestically in front of them with its lighted carriages. The young people passed the turnstile, climbed into an empty compartment and swept upwards.

"Do you know, George, whom I got to know this summer?" said Oskar. "The Prince of Guastalla."

"Which one?" asked George.

"The youngest, of course, Karl Friedrich. He was there incognito. He's very thick with Stanzides, an extraordinary man. You take my word for it," he added softly, "if people like us said one hundredth part of the things the prince says, we'd never get out of prison our whole life long."

"Look, Oskar," cried Amy, "at the tables and the people down there. It looks just like a little box, doesn't it? And that mass of lights over there, far off. I'm sure that's going to Prague, don't you think so, Herr Bermann?"

"Possibly," answered Heinrich, knitting his forehead as he stared through the glass wall out into the night.

When they left the compartment and got out into the open air the Sunday hubbub was subsiding.

"Poor little girl," said Oskar Ehrenberg to George, while Amy went on in front with Heinrich, "she has no idea that this is the last time we are going out together in the Prater."

"But why the last time?" asked George, not feeling particularly interested.

"It's got to be," replied Oskar. "Things like this oughtn't to last longer than a year at the outside. Any way, you might buy your gloves from her after December," he added brightly, though with a certain touch of melancholy. "I am setting her up, you know, in a little business. I more or less owe her that, for I took her away from a fairly safe situation."

"A safe one?"

"Yes, she was engaged, to a case-maker. Did you know that there were such people?"

In the meanwhile Amy and Heinrich were standing in front of a narrow moving staircase that went boldly up to a platform and waited for the others. All agreed that they ought not to leave the Prater before going for a ride on the switchback.

They whizzed through the darkness down and up again in the groaning coach under the black tree-tops; and George managed to discover a grotesque motif in 3/4 time in the heavy rhythmic noise.

While he was going down the moving staircase with the others, he knew that the melody should be introduced by an oboe and clarionet and accompanied by a cello and contra bass. It was clearly a scherzo probably for a symphony.

"If I were a capitalist," expounded Heinrich with emphasis, "I would have a switchback built four miles long to go over fields and hills, through forests and dancing-halls; I would also see that there were surprises on the way." Anyway, he thought that the time had come to develop more elaborately the fantastic element in the Wurstelprater. He himself, he informed them, had a rough idea for a merry-go-round that by means of some marvellous machinery was to revolve spiral-fashion above the ground, winding higher and higher till eventually it reached the top of a kind of tower.

Unfortunately he lacked the necessary technical knowledge to explain it in greater detail. As they went on he invented burlesque figures and groups for the shooting galleries, and finally declared that there was a pressing need for a magnificent Punch and Judy show for which original authors should write pieces at once profound and frivolous.

In this way they came to the end of the Prater where Oskar's carriage was waiting. Squashed, but none the less good-tempered, they drove to a wine-restaurant in the town. Oskar ordered champagne in a private room, George sat down by the piano and improvised the theme that had occurred to him on the switchback. Amy lounged back in the corner of the sofa, while Oskar kept whispering things into her ears which made her laugh. Heinrich had grown silent again and twirled his glass slowly between his fingers. Suddenly George stopped playing and let his hands lie on the keys. A feeling of the dreamlike and purposeless character of existence came over him, as it frequently did when he had drunk wine. Ages seemed to have passed since he had come down a badly-lighted staircase in the Paulanergasse, and his walk with Heinrich in the dark autumn avenue lay far away in the distant past. On the other hand he suddenly remembered, as vividly as though the whole thing had happened yesterday, a very young and very depraved individual, with whom he had spent many years ago a few weeks of that happy-go-lucky life which Oskar Ehrenberg was now leading with Amy. She had kept him waiting too long one evening in the street, he had gone away impatiently and had neither heard nor seen anything of her again. How easy life was sometimes....

He heard Amy's soft laugh and turned round. His look encountered that of Oskar, who seemed to be trying to catch his eye over Amy's blonde head. He felt irritated by that look and deliberately avoided it and struck a few chords again in a melancholy ballad-style. He felt a desire to describe all that had happened to him to-day, and looked at the clock over the door. It was past one. He caught Heinrich's eye and they both got up. Oskar pointed to Amy, who had gone to sleep on his shoulder, and intimated by a smile and a shrug of his shoulders that under such circumstances he could not think of going for the present. The two others shook hands with him, whispered good-night and slipped away.

"Do you know what I've done?" said Heinrich. "While you were improvising so extraordinarily finely on that ghastly piano I tried to get the real hang of that libretto that I spoke to you about in the spring."

"Oh, the opera libretto! that is interesting. Won't you tell me?"

Heinrich shook his head. "I should like to, but the unfortunate thing is, as you've already seen, that it's really not yet finished—like most of my other so-called plots."

George looked at him interrogatively. "You had a whole lot of things on hand last spring, when we saw each other last."

"Yes, I have made a lot of notes, but to-day I've done nothing more than sentences ... no words, no, just letters on white paper. It's just as if a dead hand had touched everything. I'm frightened the next time I tackle the thing that it will all fall to pieces like tinder. Yes, I've been going through a bad time, and who knows if there's a better one in store for me?"

George was silent. Then he suddenly remembered the notice in the papers which he had read somewhere or other about Heinrich's father, the former deputy, Doctor Bermann. He suspected that that might be the reason. "Your father is ill, isn't he?" he asked.

Heinrich answered without looking at him. "Yes, my father has been in a mental home since June."

George shook his head sympathetically.

Heinrich continued: "Yes, it's an awful business, even though I wasn't on very intimate terms with him during the last months it is indescribably awful, and goes on being so."

"I can quite understand," said George, "not making any headway with one's work under circumstances like that."

"Yes," answered Heinrich hesitatingly. "But it's not that alone. To be quite frank that business plays a comparatively subordinate part in my present mental condition. I don't want to make myself out better than I am. Better...! Should I be better...!" He gave a short laugh and then went on speaking. "Look here, yesterday I still thought that it was the accumulation of every possible misfortune that depressed me so. But to-day I've had an infallible proof that things of no importance at all, positively silly things in fact, affect me more deeply than very real things like my father's illness. Disgusting, isn't it?"

George looked in front of him. Why do I still go on walking with him, he thought, and why does he take it quite for granted that I should?

Heinrich went on speaking with clenched teeth and unnecessary vehemence of tone. "I received two letters this afternoon. Two letters, yes ... one from my mother, who had visited my father yesterday in the home. This letter contained the news that he is bad—very bad; to come to the point he won't last much longer"—he gave a deep breath—"and as you can imagine that involves all kinds of troubles, responsibilities for my mother and my sister and for myself. But just think of it, another letter came at the same time as that one; it contained nothing of importance so to speak—a letter from a person with whom I have been intimate for two years—and there was a passage in that letter which struck me as a little suspicious—one isolated passage ... otherwise the letter was very affectionate and very nice, like all her other letters ... and now, just imagine, the memory of that one suspicious passage, which another man wouldn't have noticed at all, has been haunting me and torturing me the whole day. I've not been thinking about my father in the lunatic asylum, nor about my mother and sister who are in despair, but only about that unimportant passage in that silly letter from a really by no means brilliant female. It eats up all my strength, it makes me incapable of feeling like a son, like a human being ... isn't it ghastly?"

George listened coldly. It struck him as strange that this taciturn melancholy man should suddenly confide in so casual an acquaintance as himself, and he could not help feeling a painful sense of embarrassment when confronted with this unexpected revelation. He did not have the impression either that any particular sympathy for him on Heinrich's part was the real reason for all these confessions. He rather felt inclined to put it down to a want of tact, a certain natural lack of self-control, something which seemed very well described by the expression "bad breeding," which he had once heard applied to Heinrich—wasn't it by Hofrat Wilt? They went as far as the Burg gate. A starless sky lay over the silent town, there was a slight rustle in the trees of the park, they could hear somewhere or other the noise of a rolling carriage as it drove away into the distance.

As Heinrich was silent again, George stood still and said in as kind a tone as he could: "I must now really say good-bye, dear Herr Bermann."

"Oh," exclaimed Heinrich, "I now see that you've come with me quite a long way—and I've been tactless enough to tell you, or rather myself in your presence, a lot of things which can't interest you in the least.... Forgive me!"

"What is there to forgive?" answered George gently. He felt a little moved by this self-reproach of Heinrich's and held out his hand.

Heinrich took it, said "Good-bye, my dear Baron," and rushed off in a hurry, as though he had suddenly decided that any further word would be bound to be importunate.

George looked after him with a mixture of sympathy and repulsion, and suddenly a free and almost happy mood came over him. He felt young, devoid of care and destined for the most brilliant future. He rejoiced at the winter which was coming, there were all kinds of possibilities: work, amusement, sentiment, while he was absolutely indifferent as to who it was from whom these joys might come. He lingered a moment by the Opera-house. If he went home through the Paulanergasse it would not be appreciably out of his way. He smiled at the memory of the serenades of his earlier years. Not far from here lay the street where he had looked up many a night at a window behind whose curtains Marianne had been accustomed to show herself when her husband had gone to sleep. This woman who was always playing with dangers in whose seriousness she herself did not believe had never really been worthy of George.... Another memory more distant than this one was much more gracious. When he was a boy of seventeen in Florence he had walked to and fro many a night before the window of a beautiful girl, the first creature of the other sex who had given her virgin self to him as yet untouched. And he thought of the hour when he had seen his beloved step on the arm of her bridegroom up to the altar, where the priest was to consecrate the marriage, of the look of eternal farewell which she had sent to him from under her white veil....

He had now arrived at his goal. The lamps were still burning at both ends of the short street, so that it was quite dark where he stood opposite the house. The window of Anna's room was open, and the pinned curtains fluttered lightly in the wind, just as in the afternoon. It was quite dark below. A soft tenderness began to stir in George's heart. Of all the beings who had ever refrained from hiding their inclination for him he thought Anna the best and the purest. She was also the first who brought the gift of sympathy for his artistic aspirations. She was certainly more genuine than Marianne, whose tears would roll over her cheeks whatever he happened to play on the piano; she was deeper too than Else Ehrenberg, who no doubt only wanted to confirm herself in the proud consciousness of having been the first to recognise his talent. And if any person was positively cut out to counteract his tendency to dilettantism and nonchalance and to keep him working energetically, profitably and with a conscious object that person was Anna. He had thought only last winter of looking out for a post as a conductor or accompanist at some German Opera; at Ehrenbergs' he had casually spoken of his intentions, which had not been taken very seriously. Frau Ehrenberg, woman of the world that she was, had given him the motherly advice rather to undertake a tour through the United States as a composer and conductor, whereupon Else had cut in, "And an American heiress shouldn't be sniffed at either." As he remembered this conversation he was very pleased with the idea of knocking about the world a bit, he wished to get to know foreign towns and foreign men, to win love and fame somewhere out in the wide world, and finally came to the conclusion that his life was slipping away from him on the whole in far too quiet and monotonous a fashion.

He had long ago left the Paulanergasse, without having taken mentally any farewell of Anna, and was soon home.

As he stepped into the dining-room he saw a light shining from Felician's room.

"Good evening, Felician," he cried out.

The door was opened and Felician came out still fully dressed.

The brothers shook hands with each other.

"Only just got home?" said Felician. "I thought you had been asleep quite a long time." As he spoke he looked past him, as his manner was, and nodded his head towards the right. "What have you been doing, then?"

"I've been in the Prater," answered George.

"Alone?"

"No, I met people. Oskar Ehrenberg with his girl and Bermann the author. We shot and went on the switchback. It was quite jolly.... What have you got in your hand?" he said, interrupting his narrative. "Have you been out for a walk like that?" he added jestingly.

Felician let the sword which he held in his right hand shine in the light of the lamp. "I've just taken it down from the wall, I begin to-morrow again in earnest. The tournament is in the middle of November, and I want to try what I can do this year against Forestier."

"By Jove!" cried George.

"A piece of cheek, you think, what? But it's still a long time before the middle of November. And the strange thing is I've got the feeling as though I had learnt something fresh in the very six weeks of this summer when I didn't have the thing in my hand at all. It's as though my arm had got new ideas in the meanwhile. I can't explain it properly."

"I follow what you mean."

Felician held the sword stretched out in front of him and looked at it affectionately. He then said: "Ralph inquired after you, so did Guido ... a pity you weren't there."

"You spent the whole day with them?"

"Oh no, I remained at home after dinner. You must have gone out straight away. I've been studying."

"Studying?"

"Yes, I must really do something serious now. I want to pass my Diplomatic exam, by May at the outside."

"So you've quite made up your mind?"

"Absolutely. There's no point in my remaining on any more in the Stadthalterei. The longer I stay there the clearer it becomes. Anyway, the time won't have been wasted. They don't mind at all if one has spent a year or two in Home Service."

"So you'll probably be leaving Vienna in the autumn."

"Presumably."

"And where will they send you?"

"If one only knew."

George looked in front of him. "So the parting is as near as that?" But why did it affect him so much all of a sudden?... Why, he himself had determined to go away, and had quite recently spoken to his brother about his plans for next year. Was he still as sceptical as ever of his seriousness? If only they could have a good frank brotherly heart-to-heart talk as they had had on that evening after their father's funeral. As a matter of fact, it was only when life revealed its gloomy side to them that they felt absolutely in touch. Otherwise there was always this strange constraint between them both. There was obviously no help for it. They just had to talk more or less discreetly to each other like fairly intimate friends. And as though resigned to the situation George went on with his questions. "What did you do in the evening?"

"I had supper with Guido and an interesting young lady."

"Really?"

"He's in silken dalliance again, you know."

"Who is it, then?"

"Conservatoire, Jewess, violin. But she didn't bring it with her. Not particularly pretty, but clever. She improves him and he respects her; he wants her to be baptised. A humorous affair I can tell you. You would have had quite a good time."

George turned his eyes towards the sword which Felician still held in his hand. "Would you like to fence a bit?" he asked.

"Why not?" answered Felician and fetched a second foil out of his room. Meanwhile George had moved the big table in the middle up against the wall.

"I haven't had a thing in my hand since May," he said as he took hold of his sword. They took off their coats and crossed blades. George cried touché the next second.

"Come on," cried George, and thought himself lucky that it was his brother whom he had to face as he stood in an awkward position with the slender flashing weapon in his hand.

Felician hit him as often as he wanted to without himself being touched a single time. He then lowered his sword and said: "You're too tired to-day, there's no point in it. But you should come more often to the club. I assure you it's a pity, with your talent."

George was pleased by his brotherly praise. He laid his sword down on the table, took a deep breath and went to the wide centre window which was open. "What wonderful air," he said. A lonely lamp was shining from the park, there was absolute silence.

Felician came up to George, and while the latter leant with both hands on the sill the elder brother remained upright and swept over street, park and town with one of his proud quiet glances. They were both silent for a long time. And they knew they were each thinking of the same thing: a May night of last spring when they had gone home together through the park and their father had greeted them with a silent nod of his head from the very same window by which they were now standing. And both felt a little shocked at the thought that they had enjoyed the whole day with such full gusto, without any painful memories of the beloved man who now lay beneath the ground.

"Well, good-night," said Felician in a softer tone than usual as he held out his hand to George. He pressed it in silence and each went into his own room.

George arranged the table lamp, took out some music paper and began to write. It was not the scherzo which had occurred to him when he had whizzed through the night with the others under the black tree-tops a few hours ago; and it was not the melancholy folk-ballad of the restaurant either; but a quite new motif that swam up slowly and continuously as though from secret depths. George felt as though he had to allow some mysterious element to take its course. He wrote down the melody, which he thought should be sung by an alto voice or played on the viola, and at the same time a strange accompaniment rang in his ears, which he knew would never vanish from his memory.

It was four o'clock in the morning when he went to bed with the calmness of a man to whom nothing evil can ever come in all his life and for whom neither solitude nor poverty nor death possess any terror.

_______________

Notes:

[1] A special way of wearing a coat affected in Viennese artistic circles.

[2] A company celebrated for its risqué plays.
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Re: The Road to the Open, by Arthur Schnitzler

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:40 pm

PART 1 OF 2

II

Frau Ehrenberg sat with her knitting on the green velvet sofa in the raised bow-window. Opposite her Else was reading a book. The white head of the marble Isis gleamed from out the far dark part of the room behind the piano, while a streak of light from the next room played through the open door over the grey carpet. Else looked up from her book through the window to the high tops of the trees in the Schwarzenberg Park which were waving in the autumn wind and said casually: "We might perhaps ring up George Wergenthin, to know if he's coming this evening."

Frau Ehrenberg let her knitting fall on her lap. "I don't know," she said. "You remember what a really charming condolence letter I wrote him and what a pressing invitation I gave him to come to Auhof. He didn't come and the coldness of his answer was quite marked. I wouldn't ring him up."

"One shouldn't treat him like other people," answered Else. "He belongs to the people whom one has occasionally to remind that one is still alive. When he has been reminded he is extremely glad."

Frau Ehrenberg went on with her knitting. "It really won't come to anything," she said quietly.

"It's not meant to come to anything," retorted Else. "I thought you knew that by this time, mamma. We're good friends, nothing more—and even that only at intervals; or do you really think that I'm in love with him, mamma? Yes, when I was a little girl I was, in Nice, when we played tennis together, but that is long past."

"Well—and Florence?"

"In Florence—I was more in love with Felician."

"And now?" asked Frau Ehrenberg slowly.

"Now ... you're probably thinking of Heinrich Bermann ... but you're making a mistake, mother."

"I prefer to be making a mistake. But this summer I really quite had the impression that——"

"I tell you," interrupted Else a little impatiently, "it isn't anything and never was anything. On one solitary occasion, when we went out boating on a sultry afternoon, you saw us from your balcony with your opera-glasses, no doubt—it was only then that it became a little dangerous. And even supposing we had fallen on each other's neck—which as a matter of fact we never did—it wouldn't have meant anything. It was simply a summer flirtation."

"And besides, he's supposed to be involved in a very serious love-affair," said Frau Ehrenberg.

"You mean ... with that actress, mamma?"

Frau Ehrenberg looked up. "Did he tell you anything about her?"

"Tell...? Not in so many words, but when we went for walks together in the park or went out in the evening on the lake, why, he practically spoke of nothing but her—of course without mentioning her name ... and the better he liked me—men really are such awfully funny people—the more jealous he became about the other woman.... But if it were only that? What young man isn't involved in a serious love affair? Do you think by any chance, mamma, that George Wergenthin is not?"

"In a serious one ... no, that will never happen to him. He's too cold, too superior for that ... he hasn't got enough temperament."

"That's exactly why," explained Else, airing her knowledge of human nature. "He'll slip into some whirlpool or other and get taken out of his depth without his having noticed it, and some fine day he'll get married ... out of sheer indolence ... to some person or other who'll probably be absolutely indifferent to him."

"You must have a definite suspicion," said Frau Ehrenberg.

"I have."

"Marianne?"

"Marianne! but that's been over a long time, mamma. And that was never anything particularly serious, either."

"Well, who is it then?"

"Well whom do you think, mamma?"

"I have no idea."

"It's Anna," said Else curtly.

"Which Anna?"

"Anna Rosner, of course."

"But...."

"You can say 'but' as much as you like—it's a fact."

"Else, you don't seriously think that Anna with her reserved character could so far forget herself as to——"

"So far forget herself...? Really, mamma, the number of expressions you keep on using—anyway, I don't think that's quite a case of one's forgetting oneself."

Frau Ehrenberg smiled, not without a certain pride.

The bell rang outside.

"It's he at last," said Else.

"It might quite as well be Demeter Stanzides," observed Frau Ehrenberg.

"Stanzides was to bring the Prince along sometime," said Else casually.

"Do you think that will come off?" inquired Frau Ehrenberg, letting her knitting fall into her lap.

"Why shouldn't it come off?" said Else. "They are so intimate."

The door opened. As a matter of fact it was none of the expected visitors who came in, but Edmund Nürnberger. He was dressed, as always, with the greatest care, though not after the latest fashion. His tail coat was a little too short and an emerald pin was stuck in his voluminous satin tie. He bowed as soon as he had got to the door, though his demeanour expressed at the same time a certain irony at his own politeness. "Am I the first?" he inquired. "No one here yet? Not a Hofrat—nor a count—nor an author—nor a diabolical female?"

"Only a woman who never was one, I'm sorry to say," answered Frau Ehrenberg as she shook hands with him.

"And one ... who will perhaps become one sometime."

"Oh, I am convinced," said Nürnberger, "that if she only takes it seriously, Fräulein Else will succeed in that." He stroked his smooth black somewhat glossy hair slowly with his left hand.

Frau Ehrenberg expressed her regret that their expectation of his coming to Auhof had not been realised. Had he really spent the whole summer in Vienna?

"Why do you wonder so much, my dear madam? Whether I am walking up and down among mountain scenery or by the shore of the sea or in my own room, it doesn't really matter much in the end."

"But you must have felt quite lonely," said Frau Ehrenberg.

"You certainly realise solitude more clearly when there's no one in the neighbourhood who shows any desire of talking to you.... But let's talk of more interesting and promising men than I am. How are all the numerous friends of your popular family?"

"Friends!" repeated Else. "I should like first to know what you mean by the word?"

"Well, all the people who say something agreeable to you from whatever motive, and whom you believe in when they say it."

The door of the bedroom opened, Herr Ehrenberg appeared and greeted Nürnberger.

"Are you ready packed?" asked Else.

"Packed and ready," answered Ehrenberg, who had on a grey suit that was far too loose and was biting a fat cigar between his teeth. He turned to Nürnberger to explain.... "I'm off to-day, just as I am, to Corfu ... for the time being; the season is beginning and the Ehrenberg 'at homes' make me feel sick."

"No one asks you," replied Frau Ehrenberg gently, "to honour them with your presence."

"Cute answer, eh," said Ehrenberg, puffing at his cigar. "I don't mind, of course, staying away from your real 'at homes.' But when I'd like to dine quietly at home on a Thursday and there's an attaché sitting in one corner and a hussar in the other, and some one over there is playing his own compositions and some one else on the sofa is being funny, while by the window Frau Oberberger is fixing up an assignation with any one who happens to come along ... well, it really gets on my nerves. One can stand it once, but not a second time."

"Do you think you'll remain away all the winter?" asked Nürnberger.

"It's possible. I intend, you know, to go further, to Egypt, to Syria, probably to Palestine as well. Yes, it's perhaps only because one's getting older, perhaps because one reads so much about Zionism and so forth, but I can't help it, I should like to see Jerusalem before I die."

Frau Ehrenberg shrugged her shoulders.

"Those are matters," said Ehrenberg, "which my wife don't understand—and my children even less so. What do you know about it, Else? no, you don't know anything either. But when one reads what's going on in the world it often makes one inclined to think that there's no other way out for us."

"For us?" repeated Nürnberger. "I've not observed up to the present that Anti-Semitism has done you any particular harm."

"You mean because I've grown a rich man? Well if I were to tell you that I don't give any shakes for money, you would, of course, not believe me, and quite right too. But as sure as you see me here, I swear to you that I would give half my fortune to see the worst of our enemies on the gallows."

"I'm only afraid," remarked Nürnberger, "that you would have the wrong ones hanged."

"There's not much danger," replied Ehrenberg. "Even if you don't catch the man you're after, the man you do catch is bound to be one of them, too, right enough."

"This is not the first time, my dear Herr Ehrenberg, that I observe that your standpoint towards this question is not ideally objective."

Ehrenberg suddenly bit through his cigar and with fingers shaking with rage put it on the ash-tray. "If any one here's to tell me ... and even ... excuse me ... or perhaps you're baptised...? One can really never tell nowadays."

"I'm not baptised," replied Nürnberger quietly. "But on the other hand I am certainly not a Jew either. I've ceased to belong to the congregation for a long time, for the simple reason that I never felt myself to be a Jew."

"If some one were to bash in your top hat in the Ringstrasse because, if you will allow me to say so, you have a somewhat Jewish nose, you'd realise pretty quick that you were insulted because you were a Yiddisher fellow. You take my word for it."

"But, papa, how excited you are getting," said Else, and stroked him on his bald reddish shiny head.


Old Ehrenberg took her hand, stroked it and asked, apparently without any connection with what he had been saying before: "By-the-bye, shall I have the pleasure of seeing my son and heir before I leave?"

Frau Ehrenberg answered: "Oskar's bound to be home soon."

Ehrenberg turned to Nürnberger. "You will doubtless be glad to know that my son Oskar is an Anti-Semite as well."

Frau Ehrenberg sighed gently. "It's a fixed idea of his," she said to Nürnberger. "He sees Anti-Semites everywhere, even in his own family."

"That is the latest Jewish national disease," said Nürnberger. "I myself have only succeeded up to the present in making the acquaintance of one genuine Anti-Semite. I'm afraid I am bound to admit, dear Herr Ehrenberg, that it was a well-known Zionist leader."

Ehrenberg could only make an eloquent gesture.

Demeter Stanzides and Willy Eissler came in and immediately spread an atmosphere of vivid brilliancy around them. Demeter wore his uniform lightly and magnificently, as though it were a fancy costume rather than a military dress; Willy stood there in a dinner jacket looking tall and pale and as if he had been keeping late hours, and then immediately gathered up the reins of the conversation, while his pleasantly hoarse voice rasped through the air with amiable imperiousness.

He gave an account of the preparations for an aristocratic theatrical performance in which he was adviser, producer and actor, just as he had been last year, and described a meeting of the young lords, where, if his account was to be believed, every one had behaved as though they were in a lunatic asylum, and then went on to treat them to a humorous dialogue between two countesses whose mannerisms he managed to take off in a most delightful way. Ehrenberg was always very amused by Willy Eissler. The vague feeling that this Hungarian Jew managed somehow or other to outwit and make a fool of that whole feudal set, whom personally he hated so much, filled him with respect for the young man.

Else sat at the little table in the corner with Demeter and made him tell her about the Isle of Wight. "You were there with your friend?" she inquired, "weren't you, Prince Karl Friedrich?"

"My friend the Prince?... that's not quite right, Fräulein Else. The Prince has no friends, nor have I. We're neither of us the type to have friends."

"He must be an interesting man according to all one hears."

"Interesting—I don't know about that. At any rate he's thought over a lot of things which people in his position are not usually accustomed to bother their heads about very much. Perhaps he'd have managed to do all kinds of things too, if he'd been left to himself. Well, who knows, it was perhaps better for him that they kept a tight hold on him, for him and for the country too in the long run. One man alone can do nothing—never in this life. That's why it's best to let matters slide and get out of things, as he did."

Else looked at him somewhat coldly. "You're so philosophical to-day, what is it? It seems to me that Willy Eissler has spoilt you."

"Willy spoilt me?"

"Yes, you know you shouldn't associate with such clever people."

"Why not?"

"You should simply be young, shine, live, and then when there's nothing more to do, do whatever you like ... but without bothering about yourself and the world."

"You should have told me that before, Fräulein Else; once a man's started getting clever...."

Else shook her head. "But perhaps in your case it might have been avoided," she said quite seriously. And then they both had to laugh.

The chandelier was lighted up. George Wergenthin and Heinrich Bermann had come in. Invited by a smile George sat down by Else's side.

"I knew that you would come," she said disingenuously but warmly as she pressed his hand; she was more glad than she thought she would have been that he should sit opposite to her after so long an interval, that she could see again his proud gracious face and hear again his somewhat gentle yet warm voice.

Frau Wyner appeared, a little woman with a high colour, jolly and awkward. Her daughter Sissy was with her. The groups got broken up in the "general post" of mutual greetings.

"Well, have you composed that song for me yet?" Sissy asked George with laughing eyes and laughing lips, as she played with one of her gloves and moved about like a snake in her dark-green shimmering dress.

"A song?" asked George. He really didn't remember.

"Or waltz or something. But you promised me to dedicate something to me." While she spoke her looks were wandering round. They glowed into the eyes of Willy, passed caressingly by Demeter and addressed a sphinx-like question to Heinrich Bermann. It seemed as though will-o'-the-wisps were dancing through the drawing-room.

Frau Wyner suddenly came up to her daughter. She flushed deeply. "Sissy is really so silly.... What are you thinking of, Sissy? Baron George has had more important things to do this year than to compose things for you."

"Oh not at all," said George politely.

"You buried your father, that's no trifle."

George looked straight in front of him.

But Frau Wyner went on speaking quite unperturbed. "And your father wasn't old, was he? And such a handsome man.... Is it true that he was a chemist?"

"No," answered George calmly. "He was President of the Botanical Society." Heinrich with one arm on the shut piano-top was speaking to Else.

"So you've been in Germany?" she asked.

"Yes," replied Heinrich. "I've been back a fairly long time, four or five weeks."

"And when are you going back again?"

"I don't know, perhaps never."

"Come, you don't believe that yourself—what are you working at?" she added quickly.

"All kinds of things," he answered. "I'm going through a rather restless time. I sketch out a lot but I finish nothing. I'm very rarely keen on completing things, obviously I lose all my interest in things too quickly."

"And people too," added Else.

"Possibly. Only unhappily one's emotions remain attached to people after one's reason has long ago decided to have nothing more to do with them. A poet—if you will allow me to use the expression—must go away from every one who no longer presents any riddle to him ... particularly from any one whom he loves."

"They say," suggested Else, "that it is just those whom we know least that we love."

"That's what Nürnberger makes out, but it's not quite right. If it were really so, my dear Else, then life would probably be much more beautiful than it is. No, we know those whom we love much better than we do other people—but we know them with a feeling of shame, bitterness and with the fear that others may know them as well as we do. Love means this—being afraid that the faults which we have discovered in the person we love may be revealed to others. Love means this—being able to look into the future and curse this very gift.... Love means this—knowing some one so that it smashes one."

Else leant on the piano in her childish lady-like way and listened to him curiously. How much she liked him in moments like this! She would have liked to have stroked his hair again consolingly, as she had done before on the lake when he had been torn by his love for that other woman, but when he suddenly retired into his shell, coldly and drily, and looked as though all his fire had been extinguished she felt that she could never live with him, and she would be bound to run away after a few weeks ... with a Spanish officer or a violin virtuoso. "It is a good thing," she said somewhat condescendingly, "that you see something of George Wergenthin. He'll have a sound influence on you. He is quieter than you are. I don't think that he is so gifted as you are, and I am sure that he is not so clever."

"What do you know about his gifts?" interrupted Heinrich almost rudely.

George came up and asked Else if they couldn't have the pleasure to-night of hearing one of her songs. She didn't want to. Besides she was principally studying opera parts nowadays. That interested her more. As a matter of fact she was far from having a lyrical temperament. George asked her jokingly if she didn't have perhaps the secret intention of going on the stage?

"With my little bit of a voice!" said Else.

Nürnberger was standing near them. "That wouldn't be an obstacle," he observed. "Why, I feel quite positive that a modern critic would soon turn up who would boom you as an important singer for the very reason that you have no voice, but who would discover some other gift in you by way of compensation, as, for instance, your gift for characterisation, just as we have to-day certain painters who have no sense of colour but only intellect; and celebrated authors who never have the vaguest ideas but who succeed in discovering the most unsuitable epithets for every noun they use."

Else noticed that Nürnberger's manner of speaking got on George's nerves. She turned to him. "I should like to show you something," she said, and took a few steps towards the music-case.

George followed her.

"Here is a collection of old Italian folksongs. I should like you to show me the best. I myself don't know enough about it."

"I can't understand," said George gently, "how you can stand any one like that man Nürnberger near you. He spreads around him an absolute atmosphere of distrust and malice."

"As I've often told you, George, you're no judge of character. After all, what do you know about him? He's different from what you think he is; just ask your friend Heinrich Bermann."

"Oh, I know well enough that he raves about him, too," replied George.

"You're speaking about Nürnberger?" asked Frau Ehrenberg, who had just joined them.

"George can't stand him," said Else in her casual way.

"Well, you're doing him a great injustice, if that's the case. Have you ever read anything of his?"

George shook his head.

"Not even his novel which made so great a sensation fifteen or sixteen years ago? That is really a shame. We've just lent it to Hofrat Wilt. I tell you he was quite flabbergasted at the way in which the whole of present-day Austria is anticipated in that book, written all that time ago."

"Really, is that so?" said George, without conviction.

"You have no idea," continued Frau Ehrenberg, "of the applause with which Nürnberger was then hailed; one could go so far as to say that all doors sprang open before him."

"Perhaps he found that enough," observed Else, with an air of meditative wisdom.

Heinrich was standing by the piano engaged in conversation with Nürnberger, and was making an effort, as he frequently did, to persuade him to undertake a new work or to bring out an edition of previous writings.

Nürnberger would not agree. He was filled with positive horror at the thought of seeing his name a prey to publicity again, of plunging again into a literary vortex which seemed to him as repulsive as it was fatuous. He had no desire to enter the competition. What was the point? Intriguing cliques that no longer made any attempt at concealment were at work everywhere. Did there remain a single man of sound talent and honest aspirations who did not have to face every minute the prospect of being dragged down into the dirt? Was there a blockhead in the country who could not boast of having been hailed as a genius in some rag or other? Had celebrity in these days anything at all to do with honour, and was being ignored and forgotten worth even a single shrug of regret? And who could know after all what verdicts would pass as the correct ones in the future? Were not the fools really the geniuses and the geniuses really the fools? It would be ridiculous to allow himself to be tempted to stake his peace of mind and even his self-respect on a game where even the greatest possible win held out no promise of any satisfaction.

"None at all?" queried Heinrich. "I'll grant you as much as you like about fame, wealth, world-wide influence—but for a man, simply because all these things are of dubious advantage, to relinquish something so absolutely indubitable as the moments of inner consciousness of one's own power——"

"Inner consciousness of power? Why don't you say straight away the happiness of creating?"

"It does exist, Nürnberger."

"It may be so; why, I even think I remember that I felt something like that myself now and then, a very long time ago ... only, as you no doubt know, as the years went by I completely lost the faculty of deceiving myself."

"Perhaps you only think so," replied Heinrich. "Who knows if it is not that very faculty of self-deception which you have developed more strongly than any other as the years went by?"

Nürnberger laughed. "Do you know how I feel when I hear you talk like that? just like a fencing-master feels who gets a thrust in the heart from one of his own pupils."

"And not even one of his best," said Heinrich.

Herr Ehrenberg suddenly appeared in the doorway, to the astonishment of his wife, who had presumed that he would be by now on his way to the station. He led a young lady by the hand. She was dressed simply in black, and had her hair done extraordinarily high after a fashion that was now out of date. Her lips were full and red, the eyes in the pale vivid face had a clear hard gaze.

"Come along," said Ehrenberg with some malice in his small eyes, and led the visitor straight up to Else, who was chatting with Stanzides. "I've brought a visitor for you."

Else held out her hand. "But this is nice." She introduced them—"Herr Demeter Stanzides—Fräulein Therese Golowski."

Therese bowed slightly and let her gaze rest on him for a while with a little embarrassment as though she were scrutinising a beautiful beast, then she turned to Else: "If I had known that you had such a lot of visitors."

"Do you know what she looks like?" said Stanzides softly to George. "Like a Russian student, don't you think?"

George nodded. "That's about it. I know her. She is a school-friend of Fräulein Else's, and now she's playing a leading part among the Socialists. Just think of it! she's just been in prison for lèse-majesté, I believe."

"Yes, I think I've read something about it," replied Demeter. "One should really get to know a person of that type more intimately. She's pretty. Her face might be made of ivory."

"And her features show a lot of energy," added George. "Her brother too is an extraordinary fellow, a pianist and a mathematician, and the father's supposed to be a ruined Jewish skin-dealer."

"It's really a strange race," observed Demeter.

In the meanwhile Frau Ehrenberg had come up to Therese. She considered it correct not to show any surprise. "Sit down, Therese," she said. "And how have you been getting on all this time? Since you've devoted yourself to political life you don't bother about your old friends any more."

"Yes, I'm afraid my work gives me very little time to pay private visits," replied Therese, thrusting out her chin, in a way that made her face look masculine and almost ugly.

Frau Ehrenberg vacillated as to whether she should or should not make any reference to the term of imprisonment which Therese had just served. It was certainly to be borne in mind there was scarcely another house in Vienna where ladies who had been locked up a short time ago, were allowed to call.

"And how is your brother?" asked Else.

"He's doing his service this year," answered Therese. "You can imagine pretty well how he's getting on." And she looked ironically at Demeter's hussar uniform.

"I suppose he doesn't get much opportunity there for playing the piano," said Frau Ehrenberg.

"Oh, he's given up all thoughts of being a pianist," replied Therese. "He's all for politics now." And turning with a smile to Demeter she added: "Of course you won't give him away, Herr Oberlieutenant?"

Stanzides laughed somewhat awkwardly.

"What do you mean by politics?" asked Herr Ehrenberg. "Does he want to get into the Cabinet?"

"Not in Austria at any rate," replied Therese. "He is a Zionist, you know."

"What?" exclaimed Ehrenberg, and his visage beamed.

"That's certainly a subject on which we don't quite agree," added Therese.

"My dear Therese ..." began Ehrenberg.

"You'll miss your train, my dear," interrupted his wife.

"I'm not going to miss my train, and anyway, another one goes to-morrow. My dear Therese, this is the only thing I want to say—each person should find happiness in his own way. But in this case your brother and not you is the cleverer of you two. Excuse me, I'm perhaps a layman in politics, but I assure you, Therese, exactly the same thing will happen to you Jewish Social Democrats as happened to the Jewish Liberals and German Nationalists."

"How do you mean?" asked Therese haughtily. "In what way will the same thing happen to us?"

"In what way...? I'll tell you soon enough. Who created the Liberal movement in Austria?... the Jews. By whom have the Jews been betrayed and deserted? By the Liberals. Who created the National-German movement in Austria? the Jews. By whom were the Jews left in the lurch?... what—left in the lurch!... Spat upon like dogs!... By the National-Germans, and precisely the same thing will happen in the case of Socialism and Communism. As soon as you've drawn the chestnuts out of the fire they'll start driving you away from the table. It always has been so and always will be so."

"We will wait and see," Therese replied quietly.
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Re: The Road to the Open, by Arthur Schnitzler

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:41 pm

PART 2 OF 2

George and Demeter looked at each other like two friends marooned together on a desert island.

Oskar, who had come in during the middle of his father's speech, compressed his lips and was very embarrassed. But they all felt a kind of deliverance when Ehrenberg suddenly looked at his watch and took his leave.

"We certainly shan't agree to-day," he said to Therese.

Therese smiled. "Scarcely. Hope you will enjoy your journey and I want once more to ... to thank you in the name of...."

"Hush!" said Ehrenberg and vanished.

"What are you thanking papa for?" said Else.

"For a gift of money for which I came to ask him in the most shameless manner. Apart from him there is not a single rich man in the circle of my acquaintances. I am not in a position to speak of the purpose for which it is wanted."

Frau Ehrenberg came up to Bermann and Nürnberger, who were continuing their conversation over the top of the piano, and said softly: "Of course you know that she"—then she looked at Therese—"has just been released from prison."

"I read about it," said Heinrich.

Nürnberger half shut his eyes and cast a glance at the group in the corner where the three girls were talking to Stanzides and Willy Eissler and shook his head.

"What cynicism are you suppressing?" said Frau Ehrenberg.

"I was just thinking how easily it might have come about for Fräulein Else to have languished two months in prison and for Fräulein Therese to have held receptions in a stylish drawing-room as daughter of the house."

"Easily come about?"

"Herr Ehrenberg has had good luck, Herr Golowski bad luck.... Perhaps that is the only difference."

"Look here, now, Nürnberger," said Heinrich, "you're not going to deny that such a thing as individuality exists in the world.... Else and Therese are rather different characters you know."

"I think so too," observed Frau Ehrenberg.

Nürnberger shrugged his shoulders. "They are both young girls, quite gifted, quite pretty ... everything else is more or less of an accidental appanage, just as it is with most young women—most people, in fact."

Heinrich shook his head energetically. "No, no," he said, "life is really not as simple as all that."

"That doesn't make it simpler, my dear Heinrich."

Frau Ehrenberg turned her eyes towards the door and beamed.

Felician had just come in. With all the sureness of a sleep-walker he walked up to the hostess and kissed her hand. "I have just had the pleasure of meeting Herr Ehrenberg on the steps; he told me he was going off to Corfu. It must be awfully beautiful out there."

"You know Corfu?"

"Yes, a memory of my childhood." He greeted Nürnberger and Bermann, and they all talked about the South for which Bermann longed and in which Nürnberger did not believe.

George gave his brother a hand-shake which meant a salutation and a goodbye at the same time. As he unobtrusively disappeared through the open door of the dining-room he looked round again, noticed Marianne sitting in the furthest corner of the drawing-room and looking at him ironically through her lorgnette. This woman had always had the mysterious gift of suddenly being present without one realising where she came from. And then a veiled lady came up to him on the steps. "Don't be in such a hurry, you can surely wait another moment," she said. "One really shouldn't spoil women so.... I wonder if you'd be in such a hurry, you know, if you were going to keep an appointment with me...? But you prefer to be non-committal. Probably because you're afraid that my husband will shoot you when he comes back from Stockholm. I mean he's probably got as far as Copenhagen to-day. But he places absolute confidence in me. And he's quite right too. For I'm able to swear to you that no one has managed to get any further than a kiss on my hand.... No, to tell the full truth, on my neck, here. Of course, you believe, too, that I have had an affair with Stanzides? No, he wouldn't be at all in my line! I positively loathe handsome men. I couldn't find anything in your brother Felician either...."

One could form no idea when the veiled lady would leave off speaking, for it was Frau Oberberger. Similar conduct in other women would have betokened a specific overture, but that was not so in her case. In spite of the dubious impression created by her whole manner the world had never been able to fix her so far with a single lover. She lived in a strange, but apparently happy, childless marriage. Her brilliant handsome husband, a geologist by profession, had undertaken scientific expeditions in days gone by, when, so Hofrat Wilt used to assert, he had set more store by the good travelling and facilities and unimpeachable cooking of the districts in question than on their being actually unexplored. But for some years past he had given up travelling in favour of lecturing and ladykilling. When he was at home he lived with his wife in the bestcamaraderie. George had frequently, though never seriously, considered the possibility of a liaison with Frau Oberberger. He was even one of those who had kissed her neck, a fact which she probably did not remember herself. And as she threw back her veil now George again surrendered himself with pleasure to the fascination of this face, which though no longer in its first flush of youth was yet both charming and animated. He wanted to take up the conversation, but she went on speaking. "Do you know you're very pale? a nice life you must be leading. What kind of a woman is it who is responsible for taking you away from me this time?"

Hofrat Wilt, with his usual silent step, suddenly stood by them. With a casual air of gallantry and superiority he threw them a "Good-day, beauteous lady, Hullo, Baron," and started to go on.

But Frau Oberberger thought it fitting to inform him first that Baron George was just going to one of his usual orgies—she then followed Hofrat up to the second story at the risk, as she remarked, of his being taken for her ninety-fifth lover if he presented himself at Ehrenberg's at the same time as she did.

It was seven o'clock before George could settle himself in a fly and drive to Mariahilf. He felt quite exhausted by the two hours at Ehrenberg's and he was even more than usually glad at the meeting with Anna which was before him. Since that morning at the miniature exhibition they had seen each other nearly every day; in parks, picture-galleries, at her house. They usually talked about the little incidents of their life or gossiped about books or music. They did not often talk of the past, but when they did it was without doubts or misgivings. For so far as Anna was concerned the adventures from which George had just come were far from being surrounded with the uncanny atmosphere of mystery; while George gathered from her own jesting allusions that she herself had already experienced more than one infatuation, though that did not cause him to lose the serenity of his good spirits or even to ask her any further questions.

He had kissed her for the first time eight days ago, in an empty room in the Liechtentein Gallery, and from that moment Anna had employed the familiar 'du,' as though a less intimate appellation would have rung somewhat false. The fly stopped at a street corner. George got out, lit a cigarette and walked up and down opposite the house out of which Anna was due to come.

After a few minutes she came out of the door, he rushed across the street to meet her and kissed her hand ecstatically. Following her habit, for she was in the habit of reading on her journeys, she carried a book with her in a pressed leather cover.

"It is quite cool, Anna," said George, took the book out of her hand and helped her into the jacket which she had been carrying over her arm.

"I was a little bit late you see," she said, "and I was very impatient to see you. Yes," she added with a smile, "one's temperament will break out now and again. What do you think of my new dress?" she added as they walked on.

"It suits you very well."

"They thought at my lesson that I looked like a lady-in-waiting."

"Who thought so?"

"Frau Bittner herself and her two daughters whom I am teaching."

"I should rather say, like an Arch-Duchess."

Anna nodded with satisfaction.

"And now tell me, Anna, all that's happened to you since yesterday."

She began quite seriously: "Twelve o'clock, after I left you at the door of our house, dinner in the family circle. Rested a little in the afternoon, and thought about you. Pupils from four to six-thirty, then read 'Grüner Heinrich,' and the evening paper. Too lazy to go out again, messed about at home. Supper. The usual domestic scene."

"Your brother?" queried George.

She answered with a "Yes" that ruled out all further questions. "A little music after supper.... Even tried to sing."

"Were you satisfied?"

"It was quite good enough for me, anyway," she said, and George thought he detected a slight note of melancholy in her tone. She quickly went on with her report. "Went to bed at half-past ten, slept well, got up early at eight ... one can't lie in bed any longer in our house ... dressed till half-past nine, was about the house till eleven...."

"... Messing about," added George.

"Right. Then went on to Weils, gave the boy a lesson."

"How old is he?" asked George.

"Thirteen," replied Anna.

"Well, after all that is not so young."

"Quite so," said Anna. "But you can set your mind at rest when I inform you that he loves his Aunt Adele, a sentimental blonde of thirty-three, and is not thinking for the time being of breaking his troth to her.... Well, to continue the record. Got home at one-thirty, had my meal alone, thank Heaven! Father already at the office, mamma in a state of sleep. Rested again from three to four, thought even more about you, and more seriously too, than yesterday, then went shopping in town, gloves, safety pins and something for mamma, and then drove on the tram, reading all the way to Mariahilf, to the two Bittner kiddies.... So now you know all. Satisfied?"

"Except for the boy of thirteen."

"Well, I agree that that might be a bit upsetting. But now we should like to know if you haven't got even more sinister confessions to make to me."

They were in a narrow silent street, which seemed quite strange to George, and Anna took his arm.

"I have just come from Ehrenbergs'," he began.

"Well?" queried Anna. "Did they try very much to inveigle you?"

"No, I can't go so far as that. Of course they seemed a little hurt that I did not go to Auhof this summer," he added.

"Did dear little Else perform?" Anna asked.

"No; of course I don't know what happened after I left."

"It won't be worth the trouble now," said Anna with exuberant mirth.

"You are wrong, Anna. There are people there for whom it is quite worth while singing."

"Who?"

"Heinrich Bermann, Willy Eissler, Demeter Stanzides...."

"Oh, Stanzides!" exclaimed Anna. "Now I am really sorry that I wasn't there too."

"It seems to me," said George, "that that is a true word spoken in jest."

"Quite so," replied Anna. "I think Demeter is really desperately handsome."

George was silent for a few seconds and suddenly asked, with more emotion than he usually manifested: "Is it he then...?"

"What 'he' do you mean?"

"The one you ... loved more than me."

She smiled, nestled closer up to him and answered simply, though a little ironically: "Am I really supposed to have been fonder of any one else than of you?"

"You confessed it to me yourself," replied George.

"But I also confess to you that I should love you in time more than I have loved or ever could love any one else."

"Are you quite sure about that, Anna?"

"Yes, George, I am quite certain of it."

They had now come again into a more lively street and reluctantly let go of each other's arms.

They remained standing in front of various shops. They discovered a photographer's show-case by a house-door and were very much amused by the laboriously-natural poses in which golden and silver wedding couples, cadets, cooks in their Sunday best and ladies in masked fancy dress were taken.

George asked again in a lighter tone: "So it was Stanzides?"

"What an idea! I have never spoken a hundred words to him in my life."

They went on walking.

"Leo Golowski, then?" asked George.

She shook her head and smiled. "That was calf-love," she replied. "That really doesn't count. I should like to know the girl of sixteen who wouldn't have fallen in love in the country with a handsome youth who fights a duel with a real Count and then goes about for eight days with his arm in a sling."

"But he didn't do it on your account, but for his sister's honour, as it were."

"For Therese's honour? What makes you think that?"

"You told me that the young man had spoken to Therese in the forest while she was studying 'Emilia Galotti.'"

"Yes, that is quite true. Anyway, she was quite glad to be spoken to. The only thing Leo objected to was that the young Count belonged to a club of young men who really behaved rather cheekily, and I think showed a touch of Anti-Semitism. So when Therese once went with her brother for a walk by the lake, and the Count came up and spoke to Therese as though he had known her for ages, while he mumbled his name off-handedly, for the benefit of Leo, Leo made a bow and introduced himself like this: 'Leo Golowski, Cracow Jew.' I don't know exactly what happened further; there was an exchange of words and the duel took place next day in the cavalry barracks at Klagenfurt."

"So I am quite right," persisted George humorously. "He did fight for his sister's honour."

"No, I tell you. I was there when he once discussed the matter with Therese, and said to her: 'So far as I am concerned you can do whatever amuses you. You can flirt with any one you like'...."

"Only it's got to be a Jew, I suppose...." added George.

Anna shook her head. "He's really not like that."

"I know," replied George gently. "We have become quite good friends lately, your Leo and I.

"Why, only yesterday evening we met at the café again and he was really quite condescending to me. I think he really forgives me my lineage. Besides, I haven't told you that Therese was at Ehrenbergs', too." And he described the appearance of the young girl in the Ehrenberg drawing-room and the impression she had made on Demeter.

Anna smiled with pleasure.

Later on, when they were again walking arm-in-arm in a quieter street, George began again. "But I still don't know who your great passion was."

Anna was silent and looked straight in front of her.

"Come, Anna, you promised me, didn't you?"

Without looking at him she replied: "If you only had an idea how strange the whole thing seems to me to-day."

"Why strange?"

"Because the man you're trying to find out was quite an old man."

"Thirty-five," said George jestingly; "isn't that so?"

She shook her head seriously. "He was fifty-eight or sixty."

"And you?" asked George slowly.

"It is two years ago last summer. I was then twenty-one."

George suddenly stood still. "I know now, it was your singing-master. Wasn't it?"

Anna did not answer.

"So it was he, then?" said George, without being really surprised, for he was aware that all the celebrated master's pupils fell in love with him in spite of his grey hairs.

"And did you love him most," asked George, "of all the men you had come across?"

"Strange, isn't it? but it's a fact all the same."

"Did he know it?"

"I think so."

They had arrived at an open space with a small garden ... that was only scantily lighted. At the back there towered a church with a reddish glow. As though drawn to a quieter place they wandered on under dark softly-waving branches.

"And what actually was there between you, if it is not a rude question?"

Anna was silent, and that moment George felt that everything was possible—even that Anna should have been that man's mistress. But underneath the disquiet which he felt at that thought the desire arose gently and unconsciously to hear his fear confirmed. For if Anna had already belonged to some one else before she became his, the adventure could proceed as lightly and irresponsibly as possible.

"I will tell you the whole story," said Anna at last. "It is really not so awful."

"Well?" asked George, strangely excited.

"Once, after the lesson," Anna began hesitatingly, "he gallantly helped me into my jacket. And then suddenly he drew me to him, took me in his arms and kissed me."

"And you...?"

"I ... I was quite intoxicated."

"Intoxicated?..."

"Yes, it was something indescribable. He kissed me on the forehead and the hair, and then he took my hand and murmured all sorts of things that I didn't hear properly...."

"And...."

"And then ... then voices came near, he let go my hand and it was all over."

"All over?"

"Yes, over ... of course it was all over."

"I certainly don't think it such a matter of course. You saw him again, no doubt."

"Of course, I still went on learning with him."

"And...?"

"I tell you it was over ... absolutely ... as though it had never happened."

George was surprised that he should feel reassured. "And he never tried again?" he asked.

"Never. It would have been so ridiculous, and as he was very clever he knew that quite well himself. It is quite true that up to then I had been very much in love with him, but after this episode he was nothing more to me than my old teacher. In some way he seemed even older than he really was. I don't know if you can really understand what I mean. It was as though he had spent all the remains of his youth in that moment."

"I quite understand," said George. He believed her and loved her more than before. They went into the church. It was almost dark within the large building. There were only some dim candles burning in front of a side altar, and opposite, behind the small statue of a saint, there shone a feeble light. A broad stream of incense flowed between the dome and the flagstones. The verger was walking, jangling his keys softly. Motionless figures appeared vaguely on the seats at the back. George slowly walked forward with Anna and felt like a young husband on his honeymoon going sight-seeing in a church with his young wife. He said so to Anna. She only nodded.

"But it would be very much nicer," whispered George, as they stood nestling close together in front of the chancel, "if we really were together somewhere abroad...."

She looked at him ecstatically and yet interrogatively: and he was frightened at his own words. Supposing Anna had taken it as a serious declaration or as a kind of wooing? Was he not obliged to enlighten her that he had not meant it in that way?... He remembered the conversation which they had had a short time ago, when they had gone out hanging on to one umbrella on a rainy windy day in the direction of Schönbrunn. He had suggested to her she should drive into the town with him and dine with him in a private room in some restaurant; she had answered with that iciness in which her whole being was sometimes frozen: "I don't do that kind of thing." He had not pressed her further.

And yet a quarter of an hour later she had said to him, apropos no doubt of a conversation about George's mode of life, but yet with a smile of many possibilities: "You have no initiative, George." And he had suddenly felt at that moment as though depths in her soul were revealing themselves, undreamt-of and dangerous depths, which it would be a good thing to beware of. He could not help now thinking of this again. What was passing within her mind?... What did she want and what was she ready for?... And what did he desire, what did he feel himself?

Life was so incalculable. Was it not perfectly possible that he should go travelling about the world with her, live with her a period of happiness and finally part from her just as he had parted from many another?... Yet when he thought of the end that was inevitably bound to come, whether death brought it or life itself, he felt a gentle grief in his heart.... She still remained silent. Did she think again that he was lacking in initiative?... Or did she think perhaps "I am really going to succeed, I shall be his wife?..."

He then felt her hand stroke his very gently, with a kind of new tenderness that did him great good.

"George," she said.

"What is it?" he asked.

"If I were religious," she replied, "I should like to pray for something now."

"What for?" said George, feeling almost nervous.

"For you to do something, George—something that really counted. For you to become a genuine artist, a great artist."
He could not help looking at the floor, as though for very shame that her thoughts had travelled on paths that were so much cleaner than his own.

A beggar held open the thick green curtain. George gave the man a coin; they were in the open air. The street lights shone up, the noise of vehicles and closing shutters suddenly grew near. George felt as if a fine veil which the twilight of the church had woven around him and her had now been torn, and in a tone of relief he suggested a little ride. Anna agreed with alacrity. They got into an open fiacre, had the top pulled down over them, drove through the streets, then drove round the Ring, without seeing much of the buildings and gardens, spoke not a word and nestled closer and closer to each other. They were both conscious of each other's impatience and their own, and they knew it was no longer possible to go back.

When they were near Anna's home George said: "What a pity that you have got to go home now."

She shrugged her shoulders and smiled strangely. The depths, thought George again, but without fear and almost gaily. Before the vehicle stopped at the corner they arranged an appointment for the following morning in the Schwarzenberggarten and then got out. Anna rushed home and George slowly strolled towards the town.

He considered whether he should go into the café. He did not really feel keen on it. Bermann would probably stay to supper at the Ehrenbergs' to-day, one could rarely count on Leo Golowski coming: and George was not much attracted by the other young people, most of them Jewish writers, with whom he had recently struck up a casual acquaintance, even though he had thought many of them not at all uninteresting. Speaking broadly, he found their tone to each other now too familiar, now too formal, now too facetious, now too sentimental: not one of them seemed really free and unembarrassed with the others, scarcely indeed with himself.

Heinrich too had declared only the other day that he didn't want to have anything more to do with the whole set, who had become thoroughly antagonistic to him since his successes. George regarded it as perfectly possible that Heinrich, with his characteristic vanity and hypochondria, was scenting enmity and persecution where it was perhaps merely a case of indifference or antipathy. He for his part knew that it was not so much friendship that attracted him to the young author, as the curiosity to get to know a strange man more intimately. Perhaps also the interest of looking into a world which up to the present had been more or less foreign to him. For while he himself had remained somewhat reserved and had specially avoided any reference to his own relations with women, Heinrich had not only told him of his distant mistress, for whom he asserted he suffered pangs of jealousy, but also of a blonde and pretty young person with whom he had recently got into the habit of spending his evenings—merely to deaden his feelings as he ironically added; he not only told him of his life as a student and journalist in Vienna, which did not lie so far back, but also of his childhood and boyhood in that little provincial town in Bohemia where he had come into the world thirty years ago. The half-affectionate and half-disgusted tone, with its mixture of attachment and detachment, in which Heinrich spoke of his family and especially of his suffering father, who had been an advocate in that little town and a member of Parliament for a considerable period, struck George as strange and at times as almost painful. Why, he seemed to be even a little proud of the fact that when he was only twenty years old he had prophesied his blissfully confident parent's fate to the old man himself, exactly as it had subsequently fulfilled itself. After a short period of popularity and success the growth of the Anti-Semitic movement had driven him out of the German Liberal party, most of his friends had deserted and betrayed him, and a dissipated 'corps' student, who described at public meetings the Tschechs and Jews as the most dangerous enemies of Germanism, propriety and morality, while at home he thrashed his wife and had children by his servants, was his successor in the confidence of the electors and in Parliament. Heinrich, who had always felt a certain amount of irritation at his father's phrases, honest though they were, about Pan-Germanism, liberty and progress, had at first gloated over the spectacle of the old man's downfall. And it was only when the lawyer who had once been so much in demand began to lose his practice into the bargain, and the financial position of the family got worse from day to day, that the son began to experience a somewhat belated sympathy. He had given up his legal studies early enough, and had been compelled to come to the help of his family with his daily journalistic work. His first literary successes raised no echo in the melancholy household. There were sinister signs that madness was looming over his father, while now that the latter was falling into mental darkness his mother, for whom state and fatherland had ceased to exist, when her husband was not elected to Parliament, lost her grip of life and of the world. Heinrich's only sister, once a buxom clever girl, had developed melancholia after an unhappy passion for a kind of provincial Don Juan, and with morbid perverseness she put the blame for the family misfortune on the shoulders of her brother, though she had always got on with him perfectly well in her youth. Heinrich also told George about other relations whom he remembered in his early days, and a half-grotesque, half-pathetic series of strict bigoted old-fashioned Jews and Jewesses swept by George like shadows from another world. He eventually realised that Heinrich did not feel himself any homesickness for that small town with its miserable petty squabbles, or any call to return to the gloomy narrowness of his almost ruined family, and saw that Heinrich's egoism was at once his salvation and his deliverance.

It was striking nine from the tower of the Church of St. Michael when George stood in front of the café. He saw Rapp the critic sitting by a window not completely covered by the curtain, with a pile of papers in front of him on the table. He had just taken his glasses off his nose and was polishing them, and the dull eyes brought a look of absolute deadness into a face that was usually so alive with clever malice. Opposite him with gestures that swept over vacancy sat Gleissner the poet in all the brilliancy of his false elegance, with a colossal black cravat in which a red stone scintillated. When George, without hearing their voices, saw the lips of these two men move, while their glances wandered to and fro, he could scarcely understand how they could stand sitting opposite each other for a quarter of an hour in that cloud of hate. It flashed across him at once that this was the atmosphere in which the life of the whole set played its comedy, and through which there darted many a redeeming flash of wit and self-analysis.

What had he in common with these people? A kind of horror seized on him, he turned away and decided to look up his club once again instead of going into the café, the rooms of which he had not been in for months past. It was only a few steps away. George was soon walking up the broad marble staircase, went into the little dining-room with the light green curtain and was greeted as a long-lost friend by Ralph Skelton, the attaché of the English Embassy, and Doctor von Breitner. They talked about the tournament which was going to take place and about the banquet that was going to be organised in honour of the foreign fencing-masters; they gossiped about the new operetta at the Wiedner Theatre where Fräulein Lovan as a bayadère had come on to the stage almost naked, and about the duel between the manufacturer Heidenfeld and Lieutenant Novotny, in which the injured husband had fallen. George had a game of billiards with Skelton after the meal and won. He felt in better spirits and resolved henceforth to pay more frequent visits to these airy prettily-furnished rooms frequented by pleasant well-bred young men with whom one could converse lightly and pleasantly.

Felician appeared, told his brother that it had been very amusing at the Ehrenbergs' and that Frau Marianne sent her regards. Breitner, with one of his celebrated huge cigars in his mouth, joined the brothers, and began to speak about the hanging of the portraits of some of those members of the club who had conferred services on it, mentioning particularly the one of young Labinski who had ended all by suicide in the previous year. And George could not help thinking of Grace, of that strange hot-and-cold conversation with her in the cemetery in the melting February snow and of that wonderful night on the moonlit deck of the steamer that had brought them both from Palermo to Naples. He scarcely knew which woman he longed for the most at this particular moment: for Marianne whom he had deserted, for Grace who had vanished, or for the fair young creature with whom he had walked about in a dusky church a few hours ago like a honeymoon couple in a foreign town, and who had wanted to pray to heaven for him to become a great artist. The memory stirred a gentler emotion. Was it not almost as though she set more store by his artistic future than by him himself?... No.... Not more. She had only just spoken out what had lain slumbering all the time at the bottom of her soul. It was simply that he forgot as it were only too frequently that he was an artist. But all that must be changed. He had begun and prepared so much. Just a little industry and success was assured. And next year he would go out into the world. He would soon get a post as conductor and with a sudden leap he would find himself launched in a profession that brought both money and prestige. He would get to know new people, a different sky would shine above him and white unknown arms stretched towards him mysteriously as though from distant clouds. And while the young people at his side were weighing very seriously the chances of the champions at the approaching tournament, George went on dreaming in his corner of a future full of work, fame and love.

At the same time Anna was lying in her dark room. She was not asleep and her wide-open eyes were turned towards the ceiling. She had for the first time in her life the infallible feeling that there was a man in the world who could do anything he liked with her. Her mind was firmly made up to take all the happiness or all the sorrow that might lie in front of her, and she had a gentle hope, more beautiful than all her dreams of the past, of a serene and abiding happiness.
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Re: The Road to the Open, by Arthur Schnitzler

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:44 pm

III

George and Heinrich dismounted from their cycles. The last villas lay behind them and the broad road with its gradual upward incline led into the forest. The foliage still hung fairly thickly on the trees, but every slight puff of wind brought away some leaves which slowly fluttered down. The shimmer of autumn floated over the yellow-reddish hills. The road ascended higher past an imposing restaurant garden approached by a flight of stone steps. Only a few people sat in the open air, most of them were in the glass verandah, as though they did not quite trust themselves to the faltering warmth of this late October day, through which a dangerous and chilly draught kept on penetrating.

George thought of the melancholy memory of the winter evening on which he and Frau Marianne had paid a visit here, and had had the place to themselves. He had been bored as he had sat by her side and listened impatiently to her prattle about yesterday's concert in which Fräulein Bellini had sung songs; and when he had been obliged to get out of the carriage in a suburban street on his way back on account of Marianne's nervousness, he had taken a deep breath of deliverance. A similar feeling of release, of course, almost invariably came over him whenever he left a mistress, even after some more or less beautiful hours. Even when he had left Anna on her doorstep a few days ago, after the first evening of complete happiness, the first emotion of which he was conscious was the joy of being alone again. And immediately in its train, even before the feeling of gratitude and the dim realisation of a genuine affinity with this gentle creature who enveloped his whole being with such intimate tenderness had managed to penetrate his soul, there fluttered through it a wistful dream of voyages over a shimmering sea, of coasts which approached seductively, of walks along shores which would vanish again on the next day, of blue distances, freedom from responsibility and solitude.

The next morning, when the atmosphere of the previous evening, pregnant as it was with memory and with presage, enveloped him as he woke up, the journey was of course put off to a later but not so distant though of course more convenient time. For George knew at this very hour, though without any touch of horror, that this adventure was predestined to have an end however sincerely and picturesquely it had begun. Anna had given herself to him without indicating by a word, a look or gesture that so far as she was concerned, what was practically a new chapter in her life was now beginning. And in the same way George felt quite convinced that the farewell to her, too, would be devoid of melancholy or of difficulty; a pressure of the hand, a smile and a quiet "it was very beautiful"; and he felt still easier in his mind when she came to him at their next meeting with a simple intimate greeting, quite free from that uneasy tone of nestling sorrow or accomplished fate which he had heard thrilling in the voice of many another woman, who had woken up to such a morning, though not for the first time in her life.

A faintly-defined line of mountains appeared in the distance and then vanished again as the road mounted through thick-wooded country up to the heights. Pine-wood and leaf-bearing wood grew peacefully next to each other, and the foliage of beeches and birch-trees shimmered with its autumn tints through the quieter tints of the firs. Ramblers could be seen, some with knapsack, alpine-stock and nailed shoes, as though equipped for serious mountaineering; now and again cyclists would come whizzing down the road in a feverish rush. Heinrich told his companion of a cycle-tour which he had made along the Rhine at the beginning of September.

"Isn't it strange," said George, "I have knocked about the world a fair bit, but I do not yet know the district where my ancestors' home was."

"Really?" queried Heinrich, "and you feel no emotion when you hear the word Rhine spoken?"

George smiled. "After all it is nearly a hundred years since my great-grandparents left Biebrich."

"Why do you smile, George? It's a much longer time since my ancestors wandered out of Palestine, and yet many otherwise quite rational people insist on my heart throbbing with homesickness for that country."

George shook his head irritably. "Why do you always keep bothering about those people? It will really soon become a positive obsession with you."

"Oh, you think I mean the Anti-Semites? Not a bit of it. I am not touchy any more about them, not usually, at any rate. But you just go and ask our friend Leo what his views are on this question."

"Oh, you mean him, do you? Well, he doesn't take it so literally but more or less symbolically ... or from the political standpoint," he added uncertainly.

Heinrich nodded. "Both these ideas are very intimately connected in brains of that character." He sank into meditation for a while, thrust his cycle forward with slight impatient spurts and was soon a few paces in front again. He then began to talk again about his September tour. He thought of it again with what was almost emotion. Solitude, change of scene, movement: had he not enjoyed a threefold happiness? "I can scarcely describe to you," he said, "the feeling of inner freedom which thrilled through me. Do you know those moods in which all one's memories near or distant lose, as it were, their oppressive reality? all the people who have meant anything in one's life, whether it be grief, care or tenderness, seem to sweep by more like shadows, or, to put it more precisely, like forms which one has imagined oneself? And the creations of one's own imagination also come on the scene, of course, and are certainly quite as vivid as the people whom one remembers as having been real; and then one gets the most extraordinary complications between the figures of reality and of one's imagination. I could describe to you a conversation which took place between my great-uncle who is a rabbi and the Duke Heliodorus, the character you know who is the centre of my opera plot—a conversation which was amusing and profound to a degree which, speaking generally, neither life nor any opera libretto scarcely ever reaches.... Yes, such journeys are really wonderful, and so one goes on through towns which one has never seen before, and perhaps will never see again, past absolutely unknown faces which speedily vanish again for all eternity.... Then one whizzes again into the street between the rivers and the vineyards. Such moods really cleanse the soul. A pity that they are so rarely vouchsafed to one."

George always felt a certain embarrassment whenever Heinrich became tragic. "Perhaps we might go on a bit," he said, and they jumped on to their machines.

A narrow bumpy byroad between the forest and fields soon led them to a bare unimpressive two-storied house, which they recognised to be an inn by its brown surly signboard. On the green, which was separated from the house by the street, stood a large number of tables, many covered with cloths which had once been white, others with cloths which were embroidered. Ten or twelve young men who were members of a cycling club sat at some pushed-back tables. Several of them had taken off their coats, others with an affectation of smartness wore them with their sleeves hanging down. Designs in magnificent red and green knitting blazed on the sky-blue sweaters with their yellow edges.

A chorus rang out to the sky with more power than purity: "Der Gott der Eisen wachsen liess, der wollte keine Knechte."

Heinrich surveyed the company with a quick glance, half shut his eyes and said to George with clenched teeth and vehement emphasis: "I don't know if these youths are staunch, true and courageous, which they certainly think they are; but there is no doubt that they smell of wool and perspiration, and so I am all for our sitting down at a reasonable distance from them."

What does he want? thought George. Would he find it more congenial if a party of Polish Jews were to sit here and sing psalms?

Both pushed their machines to a distant table and sat down. A waiter appeared in black evening dress sprinkled with the relics of grease and vegetables, cleared the table energetically with a dirty napkin, took their orders and went off.

"Isn't it lamentable," said Heinrich, "that in the immediate outskirts of Vienna nearly all the inns should be in such a state of neglect? It makes one positively depressed."

George thought that this exaggerated regret was out of place. "Oh well, in the country," he said, "you have got to take things as you find them. It is almost part of the whole thing."

Heinrich would not admit the soundness of this point of view. He began to develop a plan for the erection of seven hotels on the borders of the Wienerwald, and was calculating that one would need at the outside three or four millions, when Leo Golowski suddenly appeared. He was in mufti, which, as was frequently the case with him, was not without a certain element of bizarreness. He wore to-day, in addition to a light-grey lounge suit, a blue velvet waistcoat and a yellow silk cravat with a smooth steel tie-ring. Both the others greeted him with delight and expressed their astonishment.

Leo sat down by them. "I heard you fixing up your excursion yesterday evening, and when we were discharged from the barracks at nine o'clock to-day, I at once thought how nice it would be to have a chat for an hour or so in the open air with a couple of keen and congenial men. So I went home, threw myself into mufti and started off." He spoke in his usual tone, which always fascinated George with its charm and semi-naïveté, though when he thought of it afterwards it always seemed to possess a certain touch of irony, of insincerity in fact. He had a knack of conducting serious conversations with a cut-and-dried definiteness that really impressed George. He had recently had an opportunity of listening to discussions in the café between Leo and Heinrich on questions dealing with the theory of art, especially the relation between the laws of music and mathematics. Leo thought he was on the track of the fundamental cause of major and minor keys affecting the human soul in such different ways. George took pleasure in following the chain of his acute and lucid analysis, even though he was instinctively on his guard against the audacious attempt to ascribe all the magic and mystery of sound to the rule of laws, which were as inexorable as those in accordance with which the earth and the planets revolved, and must necessarily spring from the same origin as those eternal principles. It was only when Heinrich tried to carry Leo's theories still further, and to apply them for instance to the products of literary style, that George became impatient and immediately felt himself tacit ally of Leo who invariably smiled gently at Heinrich's tangled and fantastic expositions.

The meal was served and the young men ate with appetite; Heinrich not less than the others, in spite of the fact that he expressed his opinion of the inferiority of the cooking in the most disparaging terms, and was inclined to regard the conduct of the proprietor, not merely as a sign of his personally low mind, but as characteristic of the decay of Austria in many other spheres. The conversation turned on the military position of the country, and Leo gave a satirical description of his comrades and superiors, with which both the others were very much amused. Much merriment, especially, was occasioned by a First-Lieutenant who had introduced himself to the volunteer contingent with the ominous words: "I shan't give you anything to laugh about, I am a fiend in human form."

While they were still eating a gentleman came up to the table, clicked his heels together, put his hand to his cycle cap by way of salutation, addressed them with a facetious "All hail," added a friendly "Hallo" for the benefit of Leo, and introduced himself to Heinrich. "My name is Josef Rosner." He then cheerily began the conversation with these words: "I suppose you gentlemen are also on a cycling expedition...." As no one answered him he continued: "One must make the best of the last fine days, the splendid weather won't last much longer."

"Won't you sit down, Herr Rosner?" asked George politely.

"Much obliged but...." He pointed to his party.... "We have only just started out, we have still got a lot in front of us; going to ride down to Tull and then via Stockerau to Vienna. Excuse me, gentlemen." He took a wooden vesta from the table and lighted his cigarette with dignity.

"What kind of a club are you in then, old chap?" asked Leo, and George was surprised at the "old chap," till it occurred to him that they had both known each other from boyhood.

"This is the Sechshauser Cycle Club," replied Josef. In spite of the fact that no astonishment was expressed, he added: "Of course you are surprised, gentlemen, at a real Viennese like myself belonging to this suburban club, but it is only because a great friend of mine is the captain there. You see that fat chap there, just slipping into his coat. That is Jalaudek, the son of the town councillor and member of Parliament."

"Jalaudek ..." repeated Heinrich with obvious loathing in his voice, and said nothing more.

"Oh yes," said Leo, "that's the man, you know, who in a recent debate about the popular education board gave this magnificent definition of science. Didn't you read it?" He turned to the others.

They did not remember.

"'Science,'" quoted Leo, "'Science is what one Jew copies from another.'"

All laughed. Even Josef, who, however, immediately started explaining: "He is really not that sort at all—I know him quite well—only he is so crude in political life ... simply because the opposing parties scratch each other's eyes out in our beloved Austria. But in ordinary life he is a very affable gentleman. The boy is much more Radical."

"Is your club Christian Socialist or National German?" asked Leo courteously.

"Oh, we don't make any distinction. Only of course as things are going nowadays...." He stopped with sudden embarrassment.

"Come, come," said Leo encouragingly. "It is perfectly obvious that your club is not tainted by a single Jew. Why, one notices that a mile off."

Josef thought it was best form to laugh. He then said: "Excuse me, no politics in the mountains! Anyway, as we are on this topic you are labouring under a delusion, gentlemen. For instance, we have a man in the club who is engaged to a Jewish girl. But they are beckoning to me already. Goodbye, gentlemen; so long, Leo; goodbye, all." He saluted again and swaggered off.

The others, smiling in spite of themselves, followed him with their eyes. Then Leo suddenly turned to George and asked: "And how is his sister getting on with her singing?"

"What?" said George, startled and blushing slightly.

"Therese has been telling me," went on Leo quietly, "that you and Anna do music together sometimes. Is her voice all right now?"

"Yes," replied George, hesitating, "I believe so; at any rate I think it is very pleasant, very melodious, especially in the deeper registers. It is a pity in my view that it is not big enough for larger rooms."

"Not big enough?" repeated Leo meditatively.

"How would you describe it?"

Leo shrugged his shoulders and looked quietly at George. "It is like this," he said. "I personally like the voice very much, but even when Anna had the idea of going on the stage ... to speak quite frankly, I never thought anything would come of it."

"You probably knew," replied George with deliberate casualness, "that Fräulein Anna suffers from a peculiar weakness of the vocal chords."

"Yes, of course I knew that, but if she were cut out for an artistic career, really had it in her, I mean, she would certainly have overcome that weakness."

"You think so?"

"Yes, I do. That is my decided opinion. That's why I think that expressions like 'peculiar weakness' or 'her voice is not big enough' are more or less euphemisms for something more fundamental, more psychological. It's quite clear that her fate line says nothing about her being an artist, that's a fact. She was, so to speak, predestined from the beginning to end her days in respectable domesticity."

Heinrich enthusiastically caught up the theory of the fate line, and led their thoughts in his own erratic way from the sphere of cleverness to the sphere of sophistry, and from the sphere of sophistry to the sphere of the nonsensical.

He then suggested that they should bask for half an hour in the meadow in the sun. "It will probably not shine so warm again during this year."

The others agreed.

A hundred yards from the inn George and Leo stretched themselves out on their cloaks. Heinrich sat down on the grass, crossed his arms over his knees, and looked in front of him. At his feet the sward sloped down to the forest. Still deeper down rested the villas of Neuwaldegg, buried in loose foliage. The spire-crosses and dazzling windows of the town shone out from the bluish-grey clouds, and far away, as though lifted up by a moving haze, the plain swept away to a gradual darkness.

Pedestrians were walking over the fields towards the inn. Some gave them a greeting as they passed, and one of them, a slim young man who led a child by the hand, remarked to Heinrich: "This is a really fine day, just like May."

Heinrich felt at first his heart go out as it were involuntarily, as it often did towards casual and unexpected friendliness of this description. But he immediately pulled himself together, for of course he realised that the young man was only intoxicated, as it were, with the mildness of the day and the peace of the landscape; that at the bottom of his soul he too felt hostile to him, just like all the others who had strolled past him so harmlessly, and he himself found difficulty in understanding why the view of these gently sloping hills and the town merging into twilight should affect him with so sweet a melancholy, in view of the fact that the men who lived there meant so little good by him, and meant him even that little but rarely. The cycling club whizzed along the street which was quite close to them. The jauntily-worn coats fluttered, the badges gleamed and crude laughter rang out over the fields.

"Awful people," said Leo casually without changing his place.

Heinrich motioned down below with a vague movement of his head. "And fellows like that," he said with set teeth, "imagine that they are more at home here than we are."

"Oh, well," answered Leo quietly, "they aren't so far out in that, those fellows there."

Heinrich turned scornfully towards him: "Excuse me, Leo, I forgot for a moment that you yourself wish to count as only here on sufferance."

"I don't wish that for a minute," replied Leo with a smile, "and you need not misunderstand me so perversely. One really can't bear a grudge against these people if they regard themselves as the natives and you and me as the foreigners. After all, it is only the expression of their healthy instinct for an anthropological fact which is confirmed by history. Neither Jewish nor Christian sentimentalism can do anything against that and all the consequences which follow from it." And turning to George he asked him in a tone which was only too courteous: "Don't you think so too?"

George reddened and cleared his throat, but had no opportunity of answering, for Heinrich, on whose forehead two deep furrows now appeared, immediately began to speak with considerable bitterness.

"My own instinct is at any rate quite as much a rule of conduct for me as the instinct of Herren Jalaudek Junior and Senior, and that instinct tells me infallibly that my home is here, just here, and not in some land which I don't know, the description of which doesn't appeal to me the least bit and which certain people now want to persuade me is my fatherland on the strength of the argument that that was the place from which my ancestors some thousand years ago were scattered into the world. One might further observe on that point that the ancestors of the Herren Jalaudek and even of our friend Baron von Wergenthin were quite as little at home here as mine and yours."

"You mustn't be angry with me," retorted Leo, "but your standpoint in these matters is really somewhat limited. You are always thinking about yourself and the really quite irrelevant circumstance ... excuse my saying irrelevant circumstance, that you are an author who happens to write in the German language because he was born in a German country, and happens to write about Austrian people and Austrian conditions because he lives in Austria. But the primary question is not about you, or about me either, or even about the few Jewish officials who do not get promoted, the few Jewish volunteers who do not get made officers, the Jewish lecturers who either get their Professorship too late or not at all—those are sheer secondary inconveniences so to speak; we have to deal, in considering this question, with quite another class of men whom you know either imperfectly or not at all. We have to deal with destinies to which, I assure you, my dear Heinrich, that in spite of your real duty to do so, I am sure you have not yet given sufficient thorough thought. I am sure you haven't.... Otherwise you wouldn't be able to discuss all these matters in the superficial and the ... egoistic way you are now doing."

He then told them of his experiences at the Bâle Zionist Congress in which he had taken part in the previous year, and where he had obtained a deeper insight into the character and psychological condition of the Jewish people than he had ever done before. With these people, whom he saw at close quarters for the first time, the yearning for Palestine, he knew it for a fact, was no artificial pose. A genuine feeling was at work within them, a feeling that had never become extinguished and was now flaming up afresh under the stress of necessity. No one could doubt that who had seen, as he had, the holy scorn shine out in their looks when a speaker exclaimed that they must give up the hope of Palestine for the time being and content themselves with settlements in Africa and the Argentine. Why, he had seen old men, not uneducated men either, no, learned and wise old men, weeping because they must needs fear that that land of their fathers, which they themselves would never be able to tread, even in the event of the realisation of the boldest Zionist plans, would perhaps never be open to their children and their children's children.

George listened with surprise, and was even somewhat moved.

But Heinrich, who had been walking up and down the field during Leo's narrative, exclaimed that he regarded Zionism as the worst affliction that had ever burst upon the Jews, and that Leo's own words had convinced him of it more profoundly than any previous argument or experience.

National feeling and religion, those had always been the words which had embittered him with their wanton, yes malignant, ambiguity. Fatherland.... Why, that was nothing more than a fiction, a political idea floating in the air, changeable, intangible. It was only the home, not the fatherland which had any real significance ... and so the feeling of home was synonymous with the right to a home. And so far as religions were concerned, he liked Christian and Jewish mythology quite as much as Greek and Indian; but as soon as they began to force their dogmas upon him, he found them all equally intolerable and repulsive. And he felt himself akin with no one, no, not with any one in the whole world: with the weeping Jews in Ble as little as with the bawling Pan-Germans in the Austrian Parliament; with Jewish usurers as little as with noble robber-knights; with a Zionist bar-keeper as little as with a Christian Socialist grocer. And least of all would the consciousness of a persecution which they had all suffered, and of a hatred whose burden fell upon them all, make him feel linked to men from whom he felt himself so far distant in temperament. He did not mind recognising Zionism as a moral principle and a social movement, if it could honestly be regarded in that light, but the idea of the foundation of a Jewish state on a religious and national basis struck him as a nonsensical defiance of the whole spirit of historical evolution. "And you too, at the bottom of your heart," he explained, standing still in front of Leo, "you don't think either that this goal will ever prove attainable; why, you don't even wish it, although you fancy yourself in your element trying to get there. What is your home-country, Palestine? A geographical idea. What does the faith of your father mean to you? A collection of customs which you have now ceased to observe and some of which seem as ridiculous and in as bad taste to you, as they do to me."

They went on talking for a long time, now vehemently and almost offensively, then calmly, and in the honest endeavour to convince each other. Frequently they were surprised to find themselves holding the same opinion, only again to lose touch with each other the next moment in a new contradiction. George, stretched on his cloak, listened to them. His mind soon took the side of Leo, whose words seemed to thrill with an ardent pity for the unfortunate members of his race, and who would turn proudly away from people who would not treat him as their equal. Soon he felt nearer again in spirit to Heinrich, who treated with anger and scorn the attempt, as wild as it was short-sighted, to collect from all the corners of the world the members of a race whose best men had always merged in the culture of the land of their adoption, or had at any rate contributed to it, and to send them all together to a foreign land, a land to which no homesickness called them. And George gradually appreciated how difficult those same picked men about whom Heinrich had been speaking, the men who were hatching in their souls the future of humanity, would find it to come to a decision. How dazed must be their consciousness of their existence, their value and their rights, tossed to and fro as they were between defiance and exhaustion, between the fear of appearing importunate and their bitter resentment at the demand that they must needs yield to an insolent majority, between the inner consciousness of being at home in the country where they lived and worked, and their indignation at finding themselves persecuted and insulted in that very place. He saw for the first time the designation Jew, which he himself had often used flippantly, jestingly and contemptuously, in a quite new and at the same time melancholy light. There dawned within him some idea of this people's mysterious destiny, which always expressed itself in every one who sprang from the race, not less in those who tried to escape from that origin of theirs, as though it were a disgrace, a pain or a fairy tale that did not concern them at all, than in those who obstinately pointed back to it as though to a piece of destiny, an honour or an historical fact based on an immovable foundation.

And as he lost himself in the contemplation of the two speakers, and looked at their figures, which stood out in relief against the reddish-violet sky in sharply-drawn, violently-moving lines, it occurred to him, and not for the first time, that Heinrich who insisted on being at home here, resembled both in figure and gesture some fanatical Jewish preacher, while Leo, who wanted to go back to Palestine with his people, reminded him in feature and in bearing of the statue of a Greek youth which he had once seen in the Vatican or the Naples museum. And he understood again quite well, as his eye followed with pleasure Leo's lively aristocratic gestures, how Anna could have experienced a mad fancy for her friend's brother years ago in that summer by the seaside.

Heinrich and Leo were still standing opposite each other on the grass, while their conversation became lost in a maze of words. Their sentences rushed violently against each other, wrestled convulsively, shot past each other and vanished into nothingness, and George noticed at some moment or other that he was only listening to the sound of the speeches, without being able to follow their meaning.

A cool breeze came up from the plain, and George got up from the sward with a slight shiver. The others, who had almost forgotten his presence, were thus called back again to actualities, and they decided to leave. Full daylight still shone over the landscape, but the sun was couched faint and dark on the long strip of an evening cloud.

"Conversations like this," said Heinrich, as he strapped his cloak on to his cycle, "always leave me with a sense of dissatisfaction, which even goes as far as a painful feeling in the neighbourhood of the stomach. Yes really. They just lead absolutely nowhere. And after all, what do political views matter to men who don't make politics their career or their business? Do they exert the slightest influence on the policy and moulding of existence? You, Leo, are just like myself; neither of us will ever do anything else, can ever do anything else, than just accomplish that which, in view of our character and our capacities, we are able to accomplish. You will never migrate to Palestine all your life long, even if Jewish states were founded and you were offered a position as prime-minister, or at any rate official pianist——"

"Oh, you can't know that," interrupted Leo.

"I know it for a certainty," said Heinrich. "That's why I'll admit, into the bargain, that in spite of my complete indifference to every single form of religion I would positively never allow myself to be baptised, even if it were possible—though that is less the case to-day than ever it was—of escaping once and for all Anti-Semitic bigotry and villainy by a dodge like that."

"Hum," said Leo, "but supposing the mediæval stake were to be lighted again."

"In that case," retorted Heinrich, "I hereby solemnly bind myself to take your advice implicitly."

"Oh," objected George, "those times will certainly not come again."

Both the others were unable to help laughing at George being kind enough to reassure them in that way about their future, in the name, as Heinrich observed, of the whole of Christendom.

In the meanwhile they had crossed the field.

George and Heinrich pushed their cycles forward up the bumpy by-road, while Leo at their side walked on the turf with his cloak fluttering in the wind. They were all silent for quite a time, as though exhausted. At the place where the bad path turned off towards the broad high road, Leo remained stationary and said: "We will have to leave each other here, I am afraid." He shook hands with George and smiled. "You must have been pretty well bored to-day," he said.

George blushed. "I say now, you must take me for a...."

Leo held George's hand in a firm grip. "I take you for a very shrewd man and also for a very good sort. Do you believe me?"

George was silent.

"I should like to know," continued Leo, "whether you believe me, George. I am keen on knowing." His voice assumed a tone of genuine sincerity.

"Why, of course I believe you," replied George, still, however, with a certain amount of impatience.

"I am glad," said Leo, "for I really feel a sympathy between us, George." He looked straight into his eyes, then shook hands once more with him and Heinrich and turned to go.

But George suddenly had the feeling that this young man who with his fluttering cloak and his head slightly bent forward was striding down-hill in the middle of the broad street was not waiting to any "home," but to some foreign sphere somewhere, where no one could follow him. He found this feeling all the more incomprehensible since he had not only spent many hours recently with Leo in conversation at the café, but had also received all possible information from Anna about him, his family and his position in life. He knew that that summer at the seaside, which now lay six years back, as did Anna's youthful infatuation, had marked the last summer which the Golowski family had enjoyed free from trouble, and that the business of the old man had been completely ruined in the subsequent winter. It had been extraordinary, according to Anna's account, how all the members of the family had adapted themselves to the altered conditions, as though they had been long prepared for this revolution. The family removed from their comfortable house in the Rathaus quarter to a dismal street in the neighbourhood of the Augarten. Herr Golowski undertook all kinds of commission business while Frau Golowski did needlework for sale.

Therese gave lessons in French and English and at first continued to attend the dramatic school. It was a young violin player belonging to an impoverished noble Russian family who awakened her interest in political questions. She soon abandoned her art, for which, as a matter of fact, she had always shown more inclination than real talent, and in a short time she was in the full swing of the Social Democratic movement as a speaker and agitator. Leo, without agreeing with her views, enjoyed her fresh and audacious character. He often attended meetings with her, but as he was not keen on being impressed by magniloquence, whether it took the form of promises which were never fulfilled or of threats which disappeared into thin air, he found it good fun to point out to her, on the way home, with an irresistible acuteness, the inconsistencies in her own speeches and those of the members of her party. But he always made a particular point of trying to convince her that she would never have been able to forget so completely her great mission for days and weeks on end, if her pity for the poor and the suffering were really as deep an emotion as she imagined.

Leo's own life, moreover, had no definite object. He attended technical science lectures, gave piano lessons, sometimes went so far as to plan out a musical career, and practised five or six hours a day for weeks on end. But it was still impossible to forecast what he would finally decide on. Inasmuch it was his way to wait almost unconsciously for a miracle to save him from anything disagreeable, he had put off his year of service till he was face to face with the final time-limit, and now in his twenty-fifth year he was serving for the first time.

Their parents allowed Leo and Therese to go their own way, and in spite of their manifold differences of opinion there seemed to be no serious discord in the Golowski family. The mother usually sat at home, sewed, knitted and crocheted, while the father went about his business with increasing apathy, and liked best of all to watch the chess-players in the café, a pleasure which enabled him to forget the ruin of his life. Since the collapse of his business he seemed unable to shake off a certain feeling of embarrassment towards his children, so that he was almost proud when Therese would give him now and again an article which she had written to read, or when Leo was good enough to play a game on Sundays with him on the board he loved so well.

It always seemed to George as though his own sympathy for Leo were fundamentally connected with Anna's long-past fancy for him. He felt, and not for the first time, curiously attracted to a man to whom a soul which now belonged to him, had flown in years gone by.

George and Heinrich had mounted their cycles, and were riding along a narrow road through the thick forest that loomed darker and darker. A little later, as the forest retreated behind them again on both sides, they had the setting sun at their back, while the long shadows of their bodies kept running along in front of their cycles. The slope of the road became more and more pronounced and soon led them between low houses which were overhung with reddish foliage. A very old man sat in a seat in front of the door, a pale child looked out of an open window. Otherwise not a single human being was to be seen.

"Like an enchanted village," said George.

Heinrich nodded. He knew the place. He had been here with his love on a wonderful summer day this year. He thought of it and burning longing throbbed through his heart. And he remembered the last hours that he had spent with her in Vienna in his cool room with the drawn-down blinds, through whose interstices the hot August morning had glittered in: he remembered their last walk through the Sunday quiet of the cool stone streets and through the old empty courtyards—and the complete absence of any idea that all this was for the last time. For it was only the next day that the letter had come, the ghastly letter in which she had written that she had wished to spare him the pain of farewell, and that when he read these words, she would already be quite a long way over the frontier on her journey to the new foreign town.

The road became more animated. Charming villas appeared encircled with cosy little gardens, wooded hills sloped gently upwards behind the houses. They saw once again the expanse of the valley as the waning day rested over meadows and fields. The lamps had been lit in a great empty restaurant garden. A hasty darkness seemed to be stealing down from every quarter simultaneously. They were now at the cross-roads. George and Heinrich got off and lit cigarettes.

"Right or left?" asked Heinrich.

George looked at his watch. "Six,... and I've got to be in town by eight."

"So I suppose we can't dine together?" said Heinrich.

"I am afraid not."

"It's a pity. Well, we'll take the short cut then through Sievering."

They lit their lamps and pushed their cycles through the forest in a long serpentine. One tree after another in succession sprang out of the darkness into the radiance of the globes of light and retreated again into the night. The wind soughed through the foliage with increased force and the leaves rustled underneath. Heinrich felt a quite gentle fear, such as frequently came over him when it was dark in the open country. He felt, as it were, disillusioned at the thought of having to spend the evening alone. He was in a bad temper with George, and was irritated into the bargain at the latter's reserve towards himself. He resolved also, and not for the first time, not to discuss his own personal affairs with George any more. It was better so. He did not need to confide in anybody or obtain anybody's sympathy. He had always felt at his best when he had gone his own way alone. He had found that out often enough. Why then reveal his soul to another? He needed acquaintances to go walks and excursions with, and to discuss all the manifold problems of life and art in cold shrewd fashion—he needed women for a fleeting embrace; but he needed no friend and no mistress. In that way his life would pass with greater dignity and serenity. He revelled in these resolutions, and felt a growing consciousness of toughness and superiority. The darkness of the forest lost its terror, and he walked through the gently rustling night as though through a kindred element.

The height was soon reached. The dark sky lay starless over the grey road and the haze-breathing fields that stretched on both sides towards the deceptive distance of the wooded hills. A light was shining from a toll-house quite near them. They mounted their cycles again and rode back as quickly as the darkness permitted. George wished to be soon at the journey's end. It struck him as strangely unreal that he was to see again in an hour and a half that quiet room which no one else knew of besides Anna and himself; that dark room with the oil-prints on the wall, the blue velvet sofa, the cottage piano, on which stood the photographs of unknown people and a bust of Schiller in white plaster; with its high narrow windows, opposite which the old dark grey church towered aloft.

Lamps were burning all the way along. The roads again became more open and they were given a last view of the heights. Then they went at top speed, first between well-kept villas, finally through a populous noisy main road until they got deeper into the town. They got off at the Votive Church.

"Good-bye," said George, "and I hope to see you again in the café to-morrow."

"I don't know ..." replied Heinrich, and as George looked at him questioningly he added: "It is possible that I shall go away."

"I say, that is a sudden decision."

"Yes, one gets caught sometimes by...."

"Lovesickness," filled in George with a smile.

"Or fear," said Heinrich with a short laugh.

"You certainly have no cause for that," said George.

"Do you know for certain?" asked Heinrich.

"You told us so yourself."

"What!"

"That you have news every day."

"Yes, that is quite true, every day. I get tender ardent letters. Every day by the same post. But what does that prove? Why, I write letters which are yet more ardent and even more tender and yet...."

"Yes," said George, who understood him. And he hazarded the question: "Why don't you stay with her?"

Heinrich shrugged his shoulders. "Tell me yourself, George, wouldn't it strike you as slightly humorous for a man to burn his boats on account of a love affair like that and trot about the world with a little actress...."

"Personally, I should regret it very much ... but humorous ... where does the humour come in?"

"No, I have no desire to do it," said Heinrich in a hard voice.

"But if you ... but if you were to take it very seriously ... if you asked her point blank ... mightn't the young lady perhaps give up her career?"

"Possibly, but I am not going to ask her, I don't want to ask her. No, better pain than responsibility."

"Would it be such a great responsibility?" asked George. "What I mean is ... is the girl's talent so pronounced, is she really so keen on her art, that it would be really a sacrifice for her to give the thing up."

"Has she got talent?" said Heinrich. "Why, I don't know myself. Why, I even think she is the one creature in the world about whose talent I would not trust myself to give an opinion. Every time I have seen her on the stage her voice has rung in my ears like the voice of an unknown person, and as though, too, it came from a greater distance than all the other voices. It is really quite remarkable.... But you are bound to have seen her act, George. What's your impression? Tell me quite frankly."

"Well, quite frankly ... I don't remember her properly. You'll excuse me, I didn't know then, you see.... When you talk of her I always see in my mind's eye a head of reddish-blonde hair that falls a little over the forehead—and very big black roving eyes with a small pale face."

"Yes, roving eyes," repeated Heinrich, bit his lips and was silent for a while. "Good-bye," he said suddenly.

"You'll be sure to write to me?" asked George.

"Yes, of course. Any way I am bound to be coming back again," he added, and smiled stiffly.

"Bon voyage," said George, and shook hands with him with unusual affection. This did Heinrich good. This warm pressure of the hand not only made him suddenly certain that George did not think him ridiculous, but also, strangely enough, that his distant mistress was faithful to him and that he himself was a man who could take more liberties with life than many others.

George looked after him as he hurried off on his cycle. He felt again as he had felt a few hours before, on Leo's departure, that some one was vanishing into an unknown land; and he realised at this moment that in spite of all the sympathy he felt for both of them he would never attain with either that unrestrained sense of intimacy which had united him last year with Guido Schönstein and previously with poor Labinski.

He reflected whether perhaps the fundamental reason for this was not perhaps the difference of race between him and them, and he asked himself whether leaving out of account the conversation between the two of them, he would of his own initiative have realised so clearly this feeling of aloofness. He doubted it. Did he not as a matter of fact feel himself nearer, yes even more akin, to these two and to many others of their race than to many men who came from the same stock as his own? Why, did he not feel quite distinctly that deep down somewhere there were many stronger threads of sympathy running between him and those two men, than between him and Guido or perhaps even his own brother? But if that was so, would he not have been bound to have taken some opportunity this afternoon to have said as much to those two men? to have appealed to them? "Just trust me, don't shut me out. Just try to treat me as a friend...." And as he asked himself why he had not done it, and why he had scarcely taken any part in their conversation, he realised with astonishment that during the whole time he had not been able to shake off a kind of guilty consciousness of having not been free during his whole life from a certain hostility towards the foreigners, as Leo called them himself, a kind of wanton hostility which was certainly not justified by his own personal experience, and had thus contributed his own share to that distrust and defiance with which so many persons, whom he himself might have been glad to take an opportunity to approach, had shut themselves off from him. This thought roused an increasing malaise within him which he could not properly analyse, and which was simply the dull realisation that clean relations could not flourish even between clean men in an atmosphere of folly, injustice and disingenuousness.

He rode homewards faster and faster, as though that would make him escape this feeling of depression. Arrived home, he changed quickly, so as not to keep Anna waiting too long. He longed for her as he had never done before. He felt as though he had come home from a far journey to the one being who wholly belonged to him.
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Re: The Road to the Open, by Arthur Schnitzler

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:52 pm

PART 1 OF 2

IV

George stood by the window. The stone backs of the bearded giants who bore on their powerful arms the battered armorial bearings of a long-past race were arched just beneath him. Straight opposite, out of the darkness of ancient houses the steps crept up to the door of the old grey church which loomed amid the falling flakes of snow as though behind a moving curtain. The light of a street lamp on the square shone palely through the waning daylight. The snowy street beneath, which, though centrally situated, was remote from all bustle, was even quieter than usual on this holiday afternoon, and George felt once more, as indeed he always did when he ascended the broad staircase of the old palace that had been transformed into an apartment house, and stepped into the spacious room with its low-arched ceiling, that he was escaping from his usual world and had entered the other half of his wonderful double life.

He heard a key grating in the door and turned round. Anna came in. George clasped her ecstatically in his arms, and kissed her on the forehead and mouth. Her dark-blue jacket, her broad-rimmed hat, her fur boa were all covered with snow.

"You have been working then," said Anna, as she took off her things and pointed to the table where music paper with writing on it lay close to the green-shaded lamp.

"I have just looked through the quintette, the first movement, there is still a lot to do to it."

"But it will be extraordinarily fine then."

"We'll hope so. Do you come from home, Anna?"

"No, from Bittner's."

"What, to-day, Sunday?"

"Yes, the two girls have got a lot behind-hand through the measles, and that has to be made up. I am very pleased too, for money reasons for one thing."

"Making your fortune!"

"And then one escapes for an hour or two at any rate from the happy home."

"Yes," said George, put Anna's boa over the back of a chair and stroked the fur nervously with his fingers. Anna's remark, in which he could detect a gentle reproach, as it were, a reproach too which he had heard before, gave him an unpleasant feeling. She sat down on the sofa, put her hands on her temples, stroked her dark blonde wavy hair backwards and looked at George with a smile. He stood leaning on the chest of drawers, with both hands in his jacket pocket, and began to tell her of the previous evening, which he had spent with Guido and his violinist. The young lady had, at the Count's wish, been for some weeks taking instruction in the Catholic religion with the confessor of an Arch-duchess; she, on her side, made Guido read Nietzsche and Ibsen. But according to George's account the only result of this course of study which one could report so far was that the Count had developed the habit of nicknaming his Mistress "the Rattenmamsell," after that wonderful character out of Little Eyolf.

Anna had nothing very bright to communicate about her last evening. They had had visitors. "First," Anna told him, "my mother's two cousins, then an office friend of my father's to play tarok. Even Josef was domesticated for once and lay on the sofa from three to five. Then his latest pal, Herr Jalaudek, who paid me quite a lot of attention."

"Really, really."

"He was fascinating. I'll just tell you: a violet cravat with yellow spots which puts yours quite into the shade. He paid me the honour too of suggesting that I should help him in a so-called charity-performance at the 'Wild Man,' for the benefit of the Wahringer Church Building Society."

"Of course you accepted?"

"I excused myself on account of my lack of voice and want of religious feeling."

"So far as the voice is concerned...."

She interrupted him. "No, George," she said lightly, "I have given up that hope at last."

He looked at her and tried to read her glance, but it remained clear and free. The organ from the church sounded softly and dully.

"Right," said George, "I have brought you the ticket for to-morrow's 'Carmen.'"

"Thanks very much," she answered, and took the card. "Are you going too, dear?"

"Yes, I have a box in the third tier, and I have asked Bermann to come. I am taking the music with me, as I did the other day at Lohengrin, and I shall practise conducting again. At the back, of course. You can have no idea what you learn that way. I should like to make a suggestion," he added hesitatingly. "Won't you come and have supper somewhere with me and Bermann after the theatre?"

She was silent.

He continued: "I should really like it if you got to know him better. With all his faults he is an interesting fellow and...."

"I am not a Rattenmamsell," she interrupted sharply, while her face immediately assumed its stiff conventional expression.

George compressed the corners of his mouth. "That doesn't apply to me, my dear child. There are many points of difference between Guido and me. But as you like." He walked up and down the room.

She remained sitting on the ottoman. "So you are going to Ehrenbergs' this evening?" she asked.

"You know I am. I have already refused twice recently, and I couldn't very well do so this time."

"You needn't make any excuses, George, I am invited too."

"Where to?"

"I am going to Ehrenbergs' too."

"Really?" he exclaimed involuntarily.

"Why are you so surprised?" she asked sharply; "it is clear that they don't yet know that I am not fit to be associated with any more."

"My dear Anna, what is the matter with you to-day? Why are you so touchy? Supposing they did know ... do you think that would prevent people from inviting you? Quite the contrary. I am convinced that you would really go up in Frau Ehrenberg's respect."

"And the sweet Else, I suppose, would positively envy me. Don't you think so? Anyway, she wrote me quite a nice letter. Here it is. Won't you read it?" George ran his eye over it, thought its kindness was somewhat deliberate, made no further remark and gave it back to Anna.

"Here is another one too, if it interests you."

"From Doctor Stauber. Indeed? Would he mind if he knew that you gave it to me to read?"

"Why are you so considerate all of a sudden?" and as though to punish him she added, "there are probably a great many things that he would mind."

George read the letter quickly through to himself. Berthold described in his dry way, with an occasional tinge of humour, the progress of his work at the Pasteur Institute, his walks, his excursions and the theatres he had visited, and quite a lot of remarks also of a general character. But in spite of his eight pages the letter did not contain the slightest allusion to either past or future. George asked casually "How long is he staying in Paris?"

"As you see he doesn't write a single word about his return."

"Your friend Therese was recently of opinion that his colleagues in the party would like to have him back again."

"Oh, has she been in the café again?"

"Yes. I spoke to her there two or three days ago. She really amuses me a great deal."

"Really?"

"She starts off, of course, by always being very superior, even with me. Presumably because I am one of those who rot away their life with art and silly things like that, while there are so many more important things to do in the world. But when she warms up a bit it turns out that she is every bit as interested as we ordinary people in all kinds of silly things."

"She easily gets warmed up," said Anna imperturbably.

George walked up and down and went on speaking. "She was really magnificent the other day at the fencing tournament in the Musikverein rooms. By-the-bye, who was the gentleman who was up there in the gallery with her?"

Anna shrugged her shoulders. "I did not have the privilege of being at the tournament, and besides, I don't know all Therese's cavaliers."

"I presume," said George, "it was a comrade, in every sense of the term. At any rate he was very glum and was pretty badly dressed. When Therese clapped Felician's victory he positively collapsed with jealousy."

"What did Therese really tell you about Doctor Berthold?" asked Anna.

"Ho, ho!" said George jestingly, "the lady still appears to be keenly interested."

Anna did not answer.

"Well," reported George, "I can give you the information that they want to make him stand in the autumn for the Landtag. I can quite understand it too, in view of his brilliant gifts as a speaker."

"What do you know about it? Have you ever heard him speak?"

"Of course I have; don't you remember? At your place."

"There is really no occasion for you to make fun of him."

"I assure you I'd no idea of doing so."

"I noticed at once that he struck you at the time as somewhat funny. He and his father, too. Why, you immediately ran away from them."

"Not at all, Anna. You are doing me a great injustice in making such insinuations."

"They may have their weaknesses, both of them, but at any rate they belong to the people whom one can count on. And that is something."

"Have I disputed that, Anna? Upon my word, I have never heard you talk so illogically. What do you want me to do then? Did you want me by any chance to be jealous about that letter?"

"Jealous? that would be the finishing touch. You with your past."

George shrugged his shoulders. Memories swam up in his mind of similar wrangles in the course of previous relationships, memories of those mysterious sudden discords and estrangements which usually simply meant the beginning of the end. Had he really got as far as all that already with his good sensible Anna? He walked up and down the room moodily and almost depressed. At times he threw a fleeting glance towards his love who sat silent in her corner of the sofa, rubbing her hands lightly as though she were cold. The organ rang out more heavily than before in the silence of the room that had suddenly become so melancholy; the voices of singing men became audible and the window-panes rattled softly. George's glance fell on the little Christmas-tree which stood on the sideboard and whose candles had burnt the evening before last for the benefit of Anna and himself. Half-bored, half-nervous, he took a wooden vesta out of his pocket and began to light the little candles one after another.

Then Anna's voice suddenly rang out to him. "There is no one I should prefer to old Doctor Stauber to confide in about anything serious."

George turned coldly towards her and blew out a burning vesta which he still held in his hand. He knew immediately what Anna meant, and felt surprised that he had never given it another thought since their last meeting. He went up to her and took hold of her hand. Now for the first time she looked up. Her expression was impenetrable, her features immobile. "I say, Anna...." He sat down by her side on the ottoman with both her hands in his.

She was silent.

"Why don't you speak?"

She shrugged her shoulders. "There is nothing new to tell you," she explained simply.

"I see," he said slowly. It passed through his mind that her strange sensitiveness to-day was to be regarded as symptomatic of the condition to which she was alluding, and the uneasiness in his soul increased. "But you can't tell definitely for a good time yet," he said in a somewhat cooler tone than he really meant. "And ... even supposing ..." he added with artificial cheerfulness.

"So you would forgive me?" she asked with a smile.

He pressed her to him and suddenly felt quite transported. A vivid and almost pathetic feeling of love flamed up in him for the soft good creature whom he held in his arms, and who could never occasion him, he felt deeply convinced, any serious suffering. "It really wouldn't be so bad," he said cheerily, "you would just leave Vienna for a time, that's all."
"Well, it certainly wouldn't be as simple as you seem all of a sudden to think it would."

"Why not? You can soon find an excuse; besides, whom does it concern? Us two. No one else. But as far as I am concerned. I can get away any day as you know; can stay away too as long as I want to. I have not yet signed any contract for next year," he added with a smile. He then got up to put out the Christmas candles, whose tiny flames had almost burnt down to the end, and went on speaking with increasing liveliness. "It would be positively delightful; just think of it, Anna! We should go away at the end of February or the beginning of March. South, of course, Italy, or perhaps the sea. We would stay at some quiet place where no one knows us, in a beautiful hotel with enormous grounds. And wouldn't one be able to work there, by Jove?"

"So that's why!" she said, as though she suddenly understood him. He laughed, held her more tightly in his arms and she pressed herself against his breast. There was no longer any noise from outside. The last sounds of the organ and the men's voices had died away. The snow curtains swept down in front of the window.... George and Anna were happy as they had never been before.

While they were at peace in the darkness he spoke about his musical plans for the near future, and told her, so far as he was able, about Heinrich's opera plot. The room became filled with shimmering shadows. The clatter of a wedding-feast swept through the fantastic hall of an ancient king. A passionate youth stole in and thrust his dagger into the prince. A dark sentence was pronounced more sinister than death itself. A sluggish ship sailed on a darkling flood towards an unknown goal. At the youth's feet there rested a princess, who had once been the betrothed of a duke. An unknown man approached the shining boat with strange tidings; fools, star-gazers, dancers, courtiers swept past. Anna had listened in silence. When he had finished George was curious to learn what impression the fleeting pictures had made upon her.

"I can't say properly," she replied. "I certainly feel quite puzzled to-day, how you are going to make anything real out of this more or less fantastic stuff."

"Of course you can't realise it yet to-day—particularly after just hearing me describe it.... But you do feel, don't you? the musical atmosphere. I have already noted down a few motifs—and I should be really very glad if Bermann would soon get to work seriously."

"If I were you, George ... may I tell you something?"

"Of course, fire ahead."

"Well, if I were you, I'd first get the quintette really finished. It can't want much doing to it now."

"Not much, and yet ... besides, you mustn't forget that I've started all kinds of other things lately. The two pianoforte pieces, then the orchestra scherzo—I've already got pretty far with that. But it certainly ought to be made part of a symphony."

Anna made no answer. George noticed that her thoughts were roving, and he asked her where she had run away to this time.

"Not so far," she replied; "it only just passed through my mind what a lot of things can happen before the opera is really ready."

"Yes," said George slowly, with a slight trace of embarrassment. "If one could just look into the future."

She sighed quite softly and he pressed her nearer to him, almost as though he pitied her. "Don't worry, my darling, don't worry," he said. "I am here all right, and I always shall be here." He thought he felt what she was thinking; can't he say anything better than that?... anything stronger? anything to take away all my fear—take it away from me for ever? And he asked her disingenuously, as though conscious of running a risk: "What are you thinking of?" And as she was obstinately silent he said once more: "Anna, what are you thinking of?"

"Something very strange," she answered gently.

"What is it?"

"That the house is already built, where it will come into the world—that we have no idea where ... that is what I couldn't help thinking of."

"Thinking of that!" he said, strangely moved. And pressing her to his heart with a love that flamed up afresh, "I will never desert you, you two...."

When the room was lighted again they were in very good spirits, plucked the last forgotten sweets from the branches of the little Christmas-tree and looked forward to their next meeting among people who were absolutely indifferent to them, as though it were quite a jolly adventure, laughed and talked exuberant nonsense.

As soon as Anna had gone away George locked his music manuscript up in a drawer, put out the lamp and opened the window. The snow was falling lightly and thinly. An old man was coming up the steps and his laboured breathing sounded through the still air. Opposite the silent church towered aloft ... George remained awhile standing at the window. He felt almost convinced at this moment that Anna was mistaken in her surmise. He felt almost reassured as there came into his mind that remark of Leo Golowski's that Anna was destined to end her days in respectable middle-class life. Having a child by a lover really could not be part of her fate line. It was not part of his fate line either to carry the burden of serious obligation, to be tied fast from to-day and perhaps for all time to a person of the other sex; to become a father when he was still so young, a father ... the word sank into his soul, oppressive, almost sinister.

He went into the Ehrenbergs' drawing-room at eight o'clock in the evening. He was met by the sound of waltz music. Old Eissler sat at the piano with his long grey beard almost drooping on to the keys. George remained at the entrance in order not to disturb him, and met welcoming glances from every quarter. Old Eissler was playing his celebrated Viennese dances and songs with a soft touch and powerful rhythm, and George enjoyed, as he always did, the sweet crooning melodies.

"Splendid," said Frau Ehrenberg, when the old man got up.

"Keep your big words for great occasions, Leonie," answered Eissler, whose time-honoured privilege it was to call all women and girls by their Christian names. And it seemed to do everybody good to hear themselves spoken to by this handsome old man with his deep ringing voice, in which there quivered frequently, as it were, a sentimental echo of the vivid days of his youth.

George asked him if all his compositions had appeared in print.

"Very few, dear Baron. Unfortunately I can scarcely write a single note."

"It would certainly be an awful pity if these charming melodies were to be absolutely lost."

"Yes, I have often told him that," put in Frau Ehrenberg, "but unfortunately he is one of those men who have never taken themselves quite seriously."

"No, that is a mistake, Leonie. You know how I began my artistic career: I wanted to compose a great opera. Of course I was seventeen years old at the time and madly in love with a great singer."

Frau Oberberger's voice rang out from the table towards the corner: "I am sure it was a chorus girl."

"You are making a mistake, Katerina," answered Eissler. "Chorus girls were never my line. It was, as a matter of fact, a platonic love, like most of the great passions of my life."

"Were you so clumsy?" queried Frau Oberberger.

"I was often that as well," replied Eissler, in his sonorous voice and with dignity. "For as far as I can see I could have had as much luck as a hussar riding-master, but I don't regret having been clumsy."

Frau Ehrenberger nodded appreciatively.

"Then one would not be making a mistake, Herr Eissler," remarked Nürnberger, "if one attributed the chief part in your life to melancholy memories?"

Frau Ehrenberger nodded again. She was delighted whenever any one was witty in her drawing-room.

"Why did you say," she inquired, "that you could have had as much happiness as a hussar riding-master? It is not true for a minute that officers have any particular luck with women, even though my sister-in-law once had an affair with a First-Lieutenant...."

"I don't believe in platonic love," said Sissy, and beamed through the room.

Frau Wyner gave a slight shriek.

"Fräulein Sissy is probably right," said Nürnberger; "at any rate I am convinced that most women take platonic love either as an insult or an excuse."

"There are young girls here," Frau Ehrenberg reminded him gently.

"One sees that already," said Nürnberger, "from the fact of their joining in the conversation."

"All the same, I would like to take the liberty of adding a little anecdote to the chapter of platonic love," said Heinrich.

"But not a Jewish one," put in Else.

"Of course not. A blonde little girl...."

"That proves nothing," interrupted Else.

"Please let him finish his story," remonstrated Frau Ehrenberg.

"Well then, a blonde little girl," began Heinrich again, "once expressed her conviction to me, quite different, you see, from Fräulein Sissy, that platonic love did, as a matter of fact, exist, and do you know what she suggested as a proof of it? giving ... an experience out of her own life. She had, you know, once spent a whole hour in a room with a lieutenant and...."

"That is enough!" cried Frau Ehrenberg nervously.

"And," finished Heinrich, quite unperturbed and in a reassuring voice, "nothing at all happened in that hour."

"So the blonde girl says," added Else.

The door opened. George saw a strange lady enter in a clear blue square-cut dress, pale, simple and dignified. It was only when she smiled that he realised that the lady was Anna Rosner, and he felt something like pride in her.

When he shook hands with his love he felt Else's look turn towards him.

They went into the next room, where the table was laid with a moderate show of festivity. The son of the house was not there. He was at Neuhaus at his father's factory. But Herr Ehrenberg suddenly turned up at the table when the supper was served. He had just come back from his travels, which as a matter of fact had taken him to Palestine. When he was asked by Hofrat Wilt about his experiences he was at first reluctant to let himself go; finally it turned out that he had been disappointed in the scenery, annoyed by the fatigue of the journey, and had practically seen nothing of the Jewish settlements which, according to reliable information, were in process of springing up.

"So we have some ground to hope," remarked Nürnberger, "that we may keep you here even in the event of a Jewish state being founded in the imminent future?"

Ehrenberg answered brusquely: "Did I ever tell you that I intended to emigrate? I am too old for that."

"Really," said Nürnberger, "I didn't know that you had only visited the district for the benefit of Fräulein Else and Herr Oskar."

"I am not going to quarrel with you, my dear Nürnberger. Zionism is really too good to serve as small talk at meals."

"We'll take it for granted," said Hofrat Wilt, "that it is too good, but it is certainly too complicated, if only for the reason that everybody understands something different by it."

"Or wants to understand," added Nürnberger, "as is usually the case with most catchwords, not only in politics either—that's why there is so much twaddle talked in the world."

Heinrich explained that of all human creatures the politician represented in his eyes the most enigmatic phenomenon. "I can understand," he said, "pickpockets, acrobats, bank—directors, hotel—proprietors, kings ... I mean I can manage without any particular trouble to put myself into the souls of all these people. Of course the logical result is that I should only need certain alterations in degree, though no doubt enormous ones, to qualify myself to play in the world the rôle of acrobat, king or bank-director. On the other hand I have an infallible feeling that even if I could raise myself to the nth power I could never become what one calls a politician, a leader of a party, a member, a minister."

Nürnberger smiled at Heinrich's theory of the politician representing a particular type of humanity, inasmuch as it was only one of the superficial and by no means essential attributes of his profession to pose as a special human type, and to hide his greatness or his insignificance, his feats or his idleness behind labels, abstractions and symbols. What the nonentities or charlatans among them represented, why, that was obvious: they were simply business people or swindlers or glib speakers, but the people who really counted, the people who did things—the real geniuses of course, they at the bottom of their souls were simply artists. They too tried to create a work, and one, too, that raised in the sphere of ideas quite as much claim to immortality and permanent value as any other work of art. The only difference was that the material in which they worked was one that was not rigid or relatively stable, like tones or words, but that, like living men, it was in a continual state of flux and movement.

Willy Eissler appeared, apologised to his hostess for being late, sat down between Sissy and Frau Oberberger and greeted his father like a friend long lost. It turned out that though they both lived together they had not seen each other for several days.

Willy was complimented all round on his success in the aristocratic amateur performance where he had played the part of a marquis with the Countess Liebenburg-Rathony in a French one-act play. Frau Oberberger asked him, in a voice sufficiently loud for her neighbours to catch it, where his assignations with the countess took place and if he received her in the samepied-à-terre quarter as his more middle-class flames. The conversation became more lively, dialogues were exchanged and became intertwined all over the room.

But George caught isolated snatches, including part of a conversation between Anna and Heinrich which dealt with Therese Golowski. He noticed at the same time that Anna would occasionally throw a dark inquisitive look at Demeter Stanzides, who had appeared to-night in evening dress with a gardenia in his buttonhole; and though he had no actual consciousness of jealousy he felt strangely affected. He wondered if at this moment she was really thinking that she was perhaps bearing a child by him under her bosom. The idea of "the depths ..." came to him again. She suddenly looked over to him with a smile, as though she were coming home from a journey. He felt an inner sense of relief and appreciated with a slight shock how much he loved her. Then he raised his glass to his lips and drank to her. Else, who up to this time had been chatting with her other neighbour Demeter, now turned to George. With her deliberately casual manner and with a look towards Anna she remarked: "She does look pretty, so womanly. But that's always been her line. Do you still do music together?"

"Frequently," replied George coolly.

"Perhaps I'll ask you to start accompanying me again at the beginning of the new year. I don't know why we have not done so before."

George was silent.

"And how are you getting on"—she threw a look at Heinrich—"with your opera?"

"Nothing is done so far. Who knows if anything will come of it?"

"Of course nothing will come of it."

George smiled. "Why are you so stern with me to-day?"

"I am very angry with you."

"With me! Why?"

"That you always go on giving people occasion to regard you as a dilettante."

This was a home thrust. George actually felt a slight sense of malice against Else, then quickly pulled himself together and answered: "That perhaps is just what I am. And if one isn't a genius it is much better to be an honest dilettante than ... than an artist with a swollen head."

"Nobody wants you to do great things all at once, but all the same one really should not let oneself go in the way you do in both your inner and your outward life."

"I really don't understand you, Else. How can one contend.... Do you know that I am going to Germany in the autumn as a conductor?"

"Your career will be ruined by your not turning up to the rehearsals at ten o'clock sharp."

The taunt was still gnawing at George. "And who called me a dilettante, if I may ask?"

"Who did? Good gracious, why it has already been in the papers."

"Really," said George feeling reassured, for he now remembered that after the concert in which Fräulein Bellini had sung his songs a critic had described him as an aristocratic dilettante. George's friends had explained at the time that the reason for this malicious critique was that he had omitted to call on the gentleman in question, who was notoriously vain. So that was it once again. There were always extrinsic reasons for people criticising one unfavourably, and Else's touchiness to-day, what was it at bottom but sheer jealousy....

The table was cleared. They went into the drawing-room.

George went up to Anna, who was leaning on the piano, and said gently to her: "You do look beautiful, dear."

She nodded with satisfaction.

He then went on to ask: "Did you have a pleasant talk with Heinrich? What did you speak about? Therese, isn't that so?"

She did not answer, and George noticed with surprise that her eyelids suddenly drooped and that she began to totter. "What is the matter?" he asked, frightened.

She did not hear him, and would have fallen down if he had not quickly caught hold of her by the wrists. At the same moment Frau Ehrenberg and Else came up to her.

"Did they notice us?" thought George.

Anna had already opened her eyes again, gave a forced smile and whispered: "Oh, it is nothing. I often stand the heat so badly."

"Come along!" said Frau Ehrenberg in a motherly tone. "Perhaps you will lie down for a moment."

Anna, who seemed dazed, made no answer and the ladies of the house escorted her into an adjoining room.

George looked round. The guests did not seem to have noticed anything. Coffee was handed round. George took a cup and played nervously with his spoon. "So after all," he thought, "she will not finish up in middle-class life." But at the same time he felt as far away from her psychologically, as though the matter had no personal interest for him.

Frau Oberberger came up to him. "Well, what do you really think about platonic love? You are an expert, you know."

He answered absent-mindedly. She went on talking, as was her way, without bothering whether he was listening or answering. Suddenly Else returned. George inquired how Anna was, with polite sympathy.

"I am certain it is not anything serious," said Else and looked him strangely in the face.

Demeter Stanzides came in and asked her to sing.

"Will you accompany me?" She turned to George.

He bowed and sat down at the piano.

"What shall it be?" asked Else.

"Anything you like," replied Wilt, "but nothing modern." After supper he liked to play the reactionary at any rate in artistic matters.

"Right you are," said Else, and gave George a piece of music.

She sang the Das Alte Bild of Hugo Wolf in her small well-trained and somewhat pathetic voice. George played a refined accompaniment, though he felt somewhat distrait. In spite of his efforts he could not help feeling a little annoyed about Anna. After all no one seemed to have really noticed the incident except Frau Ehrenberg and Else.

After all, what did it really come to?... Supposing they did all know?... Whom did it concern? Yes, who bothered about it? Why, they are all listening to Else now, he continued mentally, and appreciating the beauty of this song. Even Frau Oberberger, though she is not a bit musical, is forgetting that she is a woman for a few minutes and her face is quiet and sexless. Even Heinrich is listening spell-bound and perhaps for the moment is neither thinking of his work, nor of the fate of the Jews, nor of his distant mistress. Is perhaps not even giving a single thought to his present mistress, the little blonde girl, to please whom he has recently begun to dress smartly. As a matter of fact he does not look at all bad in evening dress, and his tie is not a ready-made one, such as he usually wears, but is carefully tied.... Who is standing so close behind me? thought George, so that I can feel her breath over my hair.... Perhaps Sissy.... If the world were to be destroyed to-morrow morning it would be Sissy whom I should choose for to-night. Yes, I am sure of it. And there goes Anna with Frau Ehrenberg; it seems I am the only one who notices it, although I have got to attend simultaneously to both my own playing and Else's singing. I welcome her with my eyes. Yes, I welcome you, mother of my child.... How strange life is!...

The song was at an end. The company applauded and asked for more. George played Else's accompaniment to some other songs by Schumann, by Brahms; and finally, by general request, two of his own, which had become distasteful to him personally, since somebody or other had suggested that they were reminiscent of Mendelssohn.

While he was accompanying he felt that he was losing all touch with Else and therefore made a special effort in his playing to win back again her sense of sympathy. He played with exaggerated sensibility, he specifically wooed her and felt that it was in vain. For the first time in his life he was her unhappy lover.

The applause after George's songs was great.

"That was your best period," said Else gently to him while she put the music away, "two or three years ago."

The others made kind remarks to him without going into distinctions about the periods of his artistic development.

Nürnberger declared that he had been most agreeably disillusioned by George's songs. "I will not conceal the fact from you," he remarked, "that going by the views I have frequently heard you express, my dear Baron, I should have imagined them considerably less intelligible."

"Quite charming, really," said Wilt, "all so simple and melodious without bombast or affectation."

"And he is the man," thought George grimly, "who dubbed me a dilettante."

Willy came up to him. "Now you just say, Herr Hofrat, that you can manage to whistle them, and if I know anything about physiognomy the Baron will send two gentlemen to see you in the morning."

"Oh no," said George, pulling himself together and smiling; "fortunately, the songs were written in a period which I have long since got over, so I don't feel wounded by any blame or by any praise."

A servant brought in ices, the groups broke up and Anna stood alone with George by the pianoforte.

He asked her quickly "What does it really mean?"

"I don't know," she replied, and looked at him in astonishment.

"Do you feel quite all right now?"

"Absolutely," she answered.

"And is to-day the first time you have had anything like it?" asked George, somewhat hesitatingly.

She answered: "I had something like it yesterday evening at home. It was a kind of faintness. It lasted some time longer, while we were sitting at supper, but nobody noticed it."

"But why did you tell me nothing about it?"

She shrugged her shoulders lightly.

"I say, Anna dear," he said, and smiled guiltily, "I would like to have a word with you at any rate. Give me a signal when you want to go away. I will clear out a few minutes before you, and will wait by the Schwarzenbergplatz till you come along in a fly. I'll get in and we will go for a little drive. Does that suit you?"

She nodded.

He said: "Good-bye, darling," and went into the smoking-room.
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Re: The Road to the Open, by Arthur Schnitzler

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 10:52 pm

PART 2 OF 2

Old Ehrenberg, Nürnberger and Wilt had sat down at a green card-table to play tarok. Old Eissler and his son were sitting opposite each other in two enormous green leather arm-chairs and were utilising the opportunity to have a good chat with one another after all this time. George took a cigarette out of a box, lighted it and looked at the pictures on the wall with particular interest. He saw Willy's name written in pale red letters down below in the corner on the green field in a water-colour painted in the grotesque style, that represented a hurdle race ridden by gentlemen in red hunting-coats. He turned involuntarily to the young man and said: "I never knew that one before."

"It is fairly new," remarked Willy lightly.

"Smart picture, eh?" said old Eissler.

"Oh, something more than that," replied George.

"Yes, I hope to be able to look forward to doing something better than that," said Willy.

"He is going to Africa, lion hunting," explained old Eissler, "with Prince Wangenheim. Felician is also supposed to be of the party, but he has not yet decided."

"Why not?" asked Willy.

"He wants to pass his diplomatic examination in the spring."

"But that could be put off," said Willy; "lions are dying out, but unfortunately one can't say the same thing of professors."

"Book me for a picture, Willy," called out Ehrenberg from the card-table.

"You play the Mæcenas later on, father Ehrenberg?" said Willy. "As I've said, I'll take you two on."[1]

"Raise you," replied Ehrenberg, and continued: "If I can order anything for myself, Willy, please paint me a desert landscape showing Prince Wangenheim being gobbled up by the lions ... but as realistic as possible."

"You are making a mistake about the person, Herr Ehrenberg," said Willy; "the celebrated Anti-Semite you are referring to is the cousin of my Wangenheim."

"For all I care," replied Ehrenberg, "the lions, too, may be making a mistake. Every Anti-Semite, you know, isn't bound to be celebrated."

"You will ruin the party if you don't look out," admonished Nürnberger.

"You should have bought an estate and settled in Palestine," said Hofrat Wilt.

"God save me from that," replied Ehrenberg.

"Well, since he has done that in everything up to the present," said Nürnberger, and put down his hand.

"It seems to me, Nürnberger, that you are reproaching me again for not goin' about peddlin' ole clo'."

"Then you would certainly have the right to complain of Anti-Semitism," said Nürnberger, "for who feels anything of it in Austria except the peddlars ... only they, one might almost say."

"And some people with a sense of self-respect," retorted Ehrenberg. "Twenty-seven ... thirty-one ... thirty-eight.... Well, who's won the game?"

Willy had gone back into the drawing-room again. George sat smoking on the arm of an easy-chair. He suddenly noticed old Eissler's look directed towards him in a strange benevolent manner and felt himself reminded of something without knowing what.

"I had a few words the other day," said the old gentleman, "with your brother Felician at Schönstein's; it is striking how you resemble your poor father, especially to one like me, who knew your father as a young man."

It flashed across George at once what old Eissler's look reminded him of. Old Doctor Stauber's eyes had rested on him at Rosner's with the same fatherly expression.

"These old Jews!" he thought sarcastically, but in a remote corner of his soul he felt somewhat moved. It came into his mind that his father had often gone for morning walks in the Prater with Eissler, for whose knowledge of art he had had a great respect. Old Eissler went on speaking.

"You, George, take after your mother more, I think."

"Many say so. It is very hard to judge, oneself."

"They say your mother had such a beautiful voice."

"Yes, in her early youth. I myself never really heard her sing. Of course she tried now and again. Two or three years before her death a doctor in Meran even advised her to practise singing. The idea was that it should be a good exercise for her lungs, but unfortunately it wasn't much of a success."

Old Eissler nodded and looked in front of him. "I suppose you probably won't be able to remember that my poor wife was in Meran at the same time as your late mother?"

George racked his memory. It had escaped him.

"I once travelled in the same compartment as your father," said old Eissler, "at night time. We were both unable to sleep. He told me a great deal about you two—you and Felician I mean."

"Really...."

"For instance, that when you were a boy you had played one of your own compositions to some Italian virtuoso, and that he had foretold a great future for you."

"Great future.... Great heavens, but it wasn't a virtuoso, Herr Eissler. It was a clergyman, from whom, as a matter of fact, I learned to play the organ."

Eissler continued: "And in the evening, when your mother had gone to bed, you would often improvise for hours on end in the room."

George nodded and sighed quietly. It seemed as though he had had much more talent at that time. "Work!" he thought ardently, "work!..."

He looked up again. "Yes," he said humorously, "that is always the trouble, infant prodigies so seldom come to anything."

"I hear you want to be a conductor, Baron."

"Yes," replied George resolutely, "I am going to Germany next autumn. Perhaps as an accompanist first in the municipal theatre of some little town, just as it comes along."

"But you would not have any objection to a Court theatre?"

"Of course not. What makes you say that, Herr Eissler? if it is not a rude question."

"I know quite well," said Eissler with a smile, as he dropped his monocle, "that you have not sought out my help, but I can quite appreciate on the other hand that you would not mind perhaps being able to get on without the intermediaryship of agents and others of that kind.... I don't mean because of the commissions."

George remained cold. "When one has once decided to take up a theatrical career one knows at the same time all that one's bargaining for."

"Do you know Count Malnitz by any chance?" inquired Eissler, quite unconcerned by George's air of worldly wisdom.

"Malnitz! Do you mean Count Eberhard Malnitz, who had a suite performed a few years ago?"

"Yes, I mean him."

"I don't know him personally, and as for the suite...."

With a wave of the hand Eissler dismissed the composer Malnitz. "He has been manager at Detmold since the beginning of this season," he then said. "That is why I asked you if you knew him. He is a great friend of mine of long standing. He used to live in Vienna. For the last ten or twelve years we have been meeting every year in Carlsbad or Ischl. This year we want to make a little Mediterranean trip at Easter. Will you allow me, my dear Baron, to take an opportunity of mentioning your name to him, and telling him something about your plans to be a conductor?"

George hesitated to answer, and smiled politely.

"Oh please don't regard my suggestion as officious, my dear Baron. If you don't wish it, of course I will sit tight."

"You misunderstand my silence," replied George amiably, but not without hauteur; "but I really don't know...."

"I think a little Court theatre like that," continued Eissler, "is just the right place for you for the beginning. The fact of your belonging to the nobility won't hurt you at all, not even with my friend Malnitz, however much he likes to play the democrat, or even at times the anarchist ... with the exception of bombs, of course; but he is a charming man and really awfully musical.... Even though he isn't exactly a composer."

"Well," replied George, somewhat embarrassed, "if you would have the kindness to speak to him.... I can't afford to let any chance slip. At any rate, I thank you very much."

"Not at all, I don't guarantee success, it is just a chance, like any other."

Frau Oberberger and Sissy came in, escorted by Demeter.

"What interesting conversation are we interrupting?" said Frau Oberberger. "The experienced platonic lover and the inexperienced rake? One should really have been there."

"Don't upset yourself, Katerina," said Eissler, and his voice had again its deep vibrating ring. "One sometimes talks about other things, such as the future of the human race."

Sissy put a cigarette between her lips, allowed George to give her a light and sat down in the corner of the green leather sofa. "You are not bothering about me at all to-day," she began with that English accent of hers which George liked so well. "As though I positively didn't exist. Yes, that's what it is. I am really a more constant nature than you are, am I not?"

"You constant, Sissy?"... He pushed an arm-chair quite near to her. They spoke of the past summer and the one that was coming.

"Last year," said Sissy, "you gave me your word you would come wherever I was, and you didn't do it. This year you must keep your word."

"Are you going into the Isle of Wight again?"

"No, I am going into the mountains this time, to the Tyrol or the Salzkammergut. I will let you know soon. Will you come?"

"But you are bound to have a large following anywhere."

"I won't trouble about any one except you, George."

"Even supposing Willy Eissler happens to stay in your vicinity?"

"Oh," she said, with a wanton smile and put out her cigarette by pressing it violently upon the glass ash-tray.

They went on talking. It was just like one of those conversations they had had so often during the last few years. It began lightly and flippantly, and eventually finished in a blaze of tender lies which were true for just one moment. George was once again fascinated by Sissy.

"I would really prefer to go travelling with you," he whispered quite near her.

She just nodded. Her left arm rested on the broad back of the ottoman. "If one could only do as one wanted," she said, with a look that dreamt of a hundred men.

He bent down over her trembling arm, went on speaking and became intoxicated with his own words. "Somewhere where nobody knows us, where nobody bothers about any one, that is where I should like to be with you, Sissy, many days and nights."

Sissy shuddered. The word "nights" made her shudder with fear.

Anna appeared in the doorway, signalled to George with a look and then disappeared again. He felt an inward sense of reluctance, and yet he felt that this was just the psychological moment to leave Sissy.

In the doorway of the drawing-room he met Heinrich, who accosted him. "If you are going you might tell me, I should like to speak to you."

"Delighted! But I must ... promised to see Fräulein Rosner home, you see. I'll come straight to the café, so till then...."

A few minutes later he was standing on the Schwarzenberg bridge. The sky was full of stars, the streets stretched out wide and silent. George turned up his coat collar, although it was no longer cold, and walked up and down. Will anything come of the Detmold business? he thought. Oh well, if it is not in Detmold it will be in some town or other. At any rate I mean real business now, and a great deal, a great deal will then lie behind me.

He tried to consider the matter quietly. How will it all turn out? We are now at the end of December. We must go away in March—at the latest. We shall be taken for a honeymoon couple. I shall go walking with her arm-in-arm in Rome and Posilippo, in Venice.... There are women who grow very ugly in that condition ... but not she, no, not she.... There was always a certain touch of the mother in her appearance.... She must stay the summer in some quiet neighbourhood where no one knows her ... in the Thuringian Forest perhaps, or by the Rhine.... How strangely she said that to-day. The house in which the child will come into the world is already in existence. Yes.... Somewhere in the distance, or perhaps quite near here, that house is standing.... And people are living there whom we have never seen. How strange.... When will it come into the world? At the end of the summer, about the beginning of September. By that time, too, I am bound to have gone away. How shall I manage it?... And a year from to-day the little creature will be already four months old. It will grow up ... become big. There will be a young man there one fine day, my son, or a young girl; a beautiful little girl of seven, my daughter.... I shall be forty-four then.... When I am sixty-four I can be a grandfather ... perhaps a director of an opera or two and a celebrated composer in spite of Else's prophecies; but one has got to work for that, that is quite true. More than I have done so far. Else is right, I let myself go too much, I must be different ... I shall too. I feel a change taking place within me. Yes, something new is taking place within me also.

A fly came out of the Heugasse, some one bent out of the window. George recognised Anna's face under the white shawl. He was very glad, got in and kissed her hand. They enjoyed their talk, joked a little about the party from which she had just come and found it really ridiculous to spend an evening in so inept a fashion. He held her hands in his and was affected by her presence. He got out in front of her house and rung. He then came to the open door of the carriage and they arranged an appointment for the following day.

"I think we have got a lot to talk about," said Anna.

He simply nodded. The door of the house was open. She got out of the fly, gave George a long look full of emotion and disappeared into the hall.

My love! thought George, with a feeling of happiness and pride. Life lay before him like something serious and mysterious, full of gifts and full of miracles.

When he went into the café, Heinrich was sitting in a window niche. Next to him was a pale young beardless man whom George had casually spoken to several times, in a dinner-jacket with a velvet collar but with a shirt-front of doubtful cleanliness.

When George came in the young man looked up with ardent eyes from a paper that he was holding in his restless and not very well-kept hands.

"Am I disturbing you?" said George.

"Oh, not a bit of it," replied the young man, with a crazy laugh, "the larger the audience the better."

"Herr Winternitz," explained Heinrich, as he shook hands with George, "was just reading me a series of his poems, but we will break off now." Slightly touched by the disappointed expression of the young man George assured him that he would be delighted to hear the poems if he might be permitted to do so.

"It won't last much longer," explained Winternitz gratefully. "It is only a pity that you missed the beginning. I could——"

"What! Does it all hang together?" said Heinrich in astonishment.

"What, didn't you notice?" exclaimed Winternitz, and laughed again crazily.

"I see," said Heinrich. "So it's always the same woman character whom your poems deal with. I thought it was always a different one."

"Of course it is always the same one, but her special characteristic is that she always seems to be a fresh person."

Herr Winternitz read softly but insistently, as though inwardly consumed. It appeared from his series that he had been loved as never a man had been loved before, but also deceived as never a man had been deceived before, a circumstance which was to be attributed to certain metaphysical causes and not at all to any deficiencies in his own personality. He showed himself, however, in his last poem completely freed of his passion, and declared that he was now ready to enjoy all the pleasures, which the world could offer him. This poem had four stanzas; the last verse of every stanza began with a "hei," and it concluded with the exclamation: "Hei, so career I through the world."

George could not help recognising that the recitation had to a certain extent impressed him, and when Winternitz put the book down and looked around him with dilated pupils, George nodded appreciatively and said: "Very beautiful!"

Winternitz looked expectantly at Heinrich, who was silent for a few seconds and finally remarked: "It is fairly interesting on the whole ... but why do you say 'hei,' if it isn't a rude question? Positively, no one will believe it."

"What do you mean?" exclaimed Winternitz.

"Rather ask your own conscience, if you honestly mean that 'hei.' I believe all the rest which you read to me, I mean I believe it in the highest sense of the term, although not a single word is true. I believe you when you tell me that you have been seducing a girl of fifteen, that you have been behaving like a hardened Don Juan, that you have been corrupting the poor creature in the most dreadful way. That she deceived you with ... what was it now?..."

"A clown, of course," exclaimed Winternitz, with a mad laugh.

"That a clown was the man she deceived you with, that on account of that creature you had adventures which grew more and more sinister, that you wanted to kill your mistress and yourself as well, and that finally you get fed up with the whole business and go travelling about the world, or even careering as far as Australia for all I care: yes, I can believe all that, but that you are the kind of man to cry out 'hei,' that, my dear Winternitz, is a rank swindle."

Winternitz defended himself. He swore that this 'hei' had come from his most inward being, or at any rate from a certain element in his most inward being. When Heinrich made further objections, he gradually became more and more reserved, and finally declared that some time or other he hoped to win his way to that inward freedom where he would be allowed to cry out "hei."

"That time will never come," replied Heinrich positively. "You may perhaps get some time to the epic or the dramatic 'hei,' but the lyrical or subjective 'hei' will remain, my dear Winternitz, a closed book to people like you and me for all eternity."

Winternitz promised to alter the last poem, to make a point of continuing his development and to work at his inward purification.

He stood up, a proceeding which caused his starched shirt front to crack and a stud to break, held out his somewhat clammy hand to Heinrich and George, and went off to the literary men's table at the back.

George expressed discreet appreciation of the poems which he had heard.

"I like him the best of the whole set, at any rate personally," said Heinrich. "He at least has the good sense to maintain with me a certain mutual reserve in really intimate matters. Yes, you need not look at me again as though you were catching me in an attack of megalomania, but I can assure you, George, I have had nearly enough of the sort of people" (he swept the further table with a cursory glance) "who have always got an 'ä soi' on their lips."

"What is always on their lips?"

Heinrich smiled. "You must know the story of the Polish Jew who was sitting in a railway compartment with an unknown man and behaved very conventionally—until he realised by some remark of the other's that he was a Jew too, and on the strength of it immediately proceeded to stretch out his legs on the seat opposite with an 'ä soi' of relief."

"Quite good," said George.

"It is more than that," explained Heinrich sternly, "it is deep; like so many other Jewish stories it gives a bird's-eye view into the tragi-comedy of present-day Judaism. It expresses the eternal truth that no Jew has any real respect for his fellow Jew, never. As little as prisoners in a hostile country have any real respect for each other, particularly when they are hopeless. Envy, hate, yes frequently, admiration, even love; all that there can be between them, but never respect, for the play of all their emotional life takes place in an atmosphere of familiarity, so to speak, in which respect cannot help being stifled."

"Do you know what I think?" remarked George. "That you are a more bitter Anti-Semite than most of the Christians I know."

"Do you think so?" he laughed; "but not a real one. Only the man who is really angry at the bottom of his heart at the Jews' good qualities and does everything he can to bring about the further development of their bad ones is a real Anti-Semite. But you are right up to a certain point, but I must finish by confessing that I am also an Anti-Aryan. Every race as such is naturally repulsive, only the individual manages at times to reconcile himself to the repulsive elements in his race by reason of his own personal qualities. But I will not deny that I am particularly sensitive to the faults of Jews. Probably the only reason is that I, like all others—we Jews, I mean—have been systematically educated up to this sensitiveness. We have been egged on from our youth to look upon Jewish peculiarities as particularly grotesque or repulsive, though we have not been so with regard to the equally grotesque and repulsive peculiarities of other people. I will not disguise it—if a Jew shows bad form in my presence, or behaves in a ridiculous manner, I have often so painful a sensation that I should like to sink into the earth. It is like a kind of shame that perhaps is akin to the shame of a brother who sees his sister undressing. Perhaps the whole thing is egoism too. One gets embittered at being always made responsible for other people's faults, and always being made to pay the penalty for every crime, for every lapse from good taste, for every indiscretion for which every Jew is responsible throughout the whole world. That of course easily makes one unjust, but those are touches of nervousness and sensitiveness, nothing more. Then one pulls oneself together again. That cannot be called Anti-Semitism. But there are Jews whom I really hate, hate as Jews. Those are the people who act before others, and often before themselves, as though they did not belong to the rest at all. The men who try to offer themselves to their enemies and despisers in the most cowardly and cringing fashion, and think that in that way they can escape from the eternal curse whose burden is upon them, or from what they feel is equivalent to a curse. There are of course always Jews like that who go about with the consciousness of their extreme personal meanness, and consequently, consciously or unconsciously, would like to make their race responsible. Of course that does not help them the least bit. What has ever helped the Jews? the good ones and the bad ones. I mean, of course," he hastily added, "those who need something in the way of material or moral help." And then he broke off in a deliberately flippant tone: "Yes, my dear George, the situation is somewhat complicated and it is quite natural that every one who is not directly concerned with the question should not be able to understand it properly."

"No, you really should not...."

Heinrich interrupted him quickly. "Yes, I should, my dear George, that is just how it is. You don't understand us, you see. Many perhaps get an inkling, but understand? no. At any rate we understand you much better than you do us. Although you shake your head! Do we not deserve to? We have found it more necessary, you see, to learn to understand you than you did to learn to understand us. This gift of understanding was forced to develop itself in the course of time ... according to the laws of the struggle for existence if you like. Just consider, if one is going to find one's way about in a foreign country, or, as I said before, in an enemy's country, to be ready for all the dangers and ambushes which lurk there, it is obvious that the primary essential is to get to know one's enemies as well as possible—both their good qualities and their bad."

"So you live among enemies? Among foreigners! You would not admit as much to Leo Golowski. I don't agree with him either, not a bit of it. But how strangely inconsistent you are when you——"

Heinrich interrupted him, genuinely pained. "I have already told you the problem is far too complicated to be really solved. To find a subjective solution is almost impossible. A verbal solution even more so. Why, at times one might believe that things are not so bad. Sometimes one really is at home in spite of everything, feels one is as much at home here—yes, even more at home—than any of your so-called natives can ever feel. It is quite clear that the feeling of strangeness is to some extent cured by the consciousness of understanding. Why, it becomes, as it were, steeped in pride, condescension, tenderness; becomes dissolved—sometimes, of course, in sentimentalism, which is again a bad business."

He sat there with deep furrows in his forehead and looked in front of him.

"Does he really understand me better?" thought George, "than I do him, or is it simply another piece of megalomania...?"

Heinrich suddenly started as though emerging from a dream. He looked at his watch. "Half-past two! And my train goes at eight to-morrow."

"What, you are going away?"

"Yes, that is what I wanted to speak to you about so much. I shall have to say goodbye to you for a goodish time, I'm sorry to say. I am going to Prague. I am taking my father away, out of the asylum home to our own house."

"Is he better, then?"

"No, but he is in that stage when he is not dangerous to those near him.... Yes, that came quite quickly too."

"And about when do you think you will be back?"

Heinrich shook his shoulders. "I can't tell to-day, but however the thing develops, I certainly cannot leave my mother and sisters alone now."

George felt a genuine regret at being deprived of Heinrich's society in the near future. "It's possible that you won't find me in Vienna again when you come back. I shall probably go away this spring, you see." And he almost felt a desire to take Heinrich into his confidence.

"I suppose you are travelling south?" asked Heinrich.

"Yes, I think so. To enjoy my freedom once again, just for a few months. Serious life begins next autumn, you see. I am looking out for a position in Germany at some theatre or other."

"Really?"

The waiter came to the table. They paid and went.

They met Rapp and Gleissner together in the doorway. They exchanged a few words of greeting.

"And what have you been doing all this time, Herr Rapp?" asked George courteously.

Rapp took off his pince-nez. "Oh, my melancholy old job all the time. I am engaged in demonstrating the vanity of vanities."

"You might make a change, Rapp," said Heinrich. "Try your luck for once and praise the splendour of splendours."

"What is the point?" said Rapp, and put on his glasses.

"That will prove itself in the course of time. But as a rule rotten work only keeps alive during its good fortune and its fame, and when the world at last realises the swindle, it has either been in the grave for a long time or has taken refuge in its presumable immortality."

They were now in the street and all turned up their coat collars, since it had begun again to snow violently.

Gleissner, who had had his first great dramatic success a few weeks ago, quickly told them that the seventh performance of his work, which had taken place to-day, had also been sold out.

Rapp used that as a peg on which to hang malicious observations on the stupidity of the public. Gleissner answered with gibes at the impotence of the critic when confronted with true genius—and so they walked away through the snow with turned-up collar, quite enveloped in the steaming hate of their old friendship.

"That Rapp has no luck," said Heinrich to George. "He'll never forgive Gleissner for not disappointing him."

"Do you consider him so jealous?"

"I wouldn't go as far as that. Matters are rarely sufficiently simple to be disposed of in a single word. But just think what a fate it is to go about the world in the belief that you carry with you as deep a knowledge of it as Shakespeare had, and to feel at the same time that you aren't able to express as much of it as, for instance, Herr Gleissner, although perhaps one is quite as much good as he is—or even more."

They walked on together for a time in silence. The trees in the Ring were standing motionless with their white branches. It struck three from the tower of the Rathaus. They walked over the empty streets and took the way through the silent park. All around them the continuous fall of snow made everything shine almost brightly.

"By the way, I have not told you the latest news," started Heinrich suddenly, looking in front of him and speaking in a dry tone.

"What is it?"

"That I have been receiving anonymous letters for some time."

"Anonymous letters? What are the contents?"

"Oh, you can guess."

"I see." It was clear to George that it could only be something about the actress. Heinrich had returned in greater anguish than ever from the foreign town, where he had seen his mistress act the part of a depraved creature in a new play, with a truth and realism which he found positively intolerable. George knew that he and she had since then been exchanging letters full of tenderness and scorn, full of anger and forgiveness, full of broken anguish and laboured confidence.

"The delightful messages," explained Heinrich, "have been coming along every morning for eight days. Not very pleasant, I can assure you."

"Good gracious, what do they matter to you? You know yourself anonymous letters never contain the truth."

"On the contrary, my dear George, they always do, but letters like that always contain a kind of higher truth, the great truth of possibilities. Men haven't usually got sufficient imagination to create things out of nothing."

"That is a charming way of looking at things. Where should we all get to, then? It makes things a bit too easy for libellers of all kinds."

"Why do you say libellers? I regard it as highly improbable that there are any libels contained in the anonymous letters which I have been receiving. No doubt exaggerations, embellishments, inaccuracies...."

"Lies."

"No, I am sure they are not lies; some, no doubt, but in a case like this how is one to separate the truth from the lies?"
"There is a very simple way of dealing with that. You go there."

"Me go there?"

"Yes, of course that is what you ought to do. When you are on the spot you are bound to get at once to the real truth."
"It would certainly be possible."

They were walking under arcades on the wet stone. Their voices and steps echoed. George began again. "Instead of going on being demoralised with all this annoyance, I should try and convince myself personally as to how matters stood."

"Yes, that would certainly be the soundest thing to do."

"Well, why don't you do it?"

Heinrich remained stationary and jerked out with clenched teeth: "Tell me, my dear George, have you not really noticed that I am a coward?"

"Nonsense, one doesn't call that being a coward."

"Call it whatever you like. Words never hit things off exactly. The more precisely they pretend to do so the less they really do. I know what I am. I would not go there for anything in the world. To make a fool of myself once more, no, no, no...."

"Well, what will you do?"

Heinrich shook his shoulders as though the matter really did not concern him.

Somewhat irritated, George went on questioning him. "If you will allow me to make a remark, what does the ... lady chiefly concerned have to say?"

"The lady who is chiefly concerned, as you call her, with a wit, which though unconscious is positively infernal, does not know for the time being anything about my getting anonymous letters."

"Have you left off corresponding with her?"

"What an idea! We write daily to each other as we did before. She the most tender and lying letters, I the meanest you can possibly imagine—disingenuous, reserved letters, that torture me to the quick."

"Look here, Heinrich, you are really not a very noble character."

Heinrich laughed out loud. "No, I am not noble. I clearly was not born to be that."

"And when one thinks that after all these are sheer libels——" George for his part had of course no doubt that the anonymous letters contained the truth. In spite of that he was honestly desirous that Heinrich should travel to the actual spot, convince himself, do something definite, box somebody's ears or shoot somebody down. He imagined Felician in a similar position, or Stanzides or Willy Eissler. All of them would have taken it better or in a different way, one for which he certainly could have felt more sympathy. Suddenly the question ran through his brain as to what he would probably do, if Anna were to deceive him. Anna deceive him ... was that really possible? He thought of her look that evening, that dark questioning look which she had sent over to Demeter Stanzides. No, that did not signify anything, he was sure of it, and the old episodes with Leo and the singing-master, they were harmless, almost childish. But he thought of something that was different and perhaps more significant—a strange question which she had put to him the other day when she had stayed unduly late in his company and had had to hurry off home with an excuse. Was he not afraid, she had asked him, to have it on his conscience that he was making her into a liar? It had rung half like a reproach and half like a warning, and if she herself was so little sure of herself could he trust her implicitly? Did he not love her? He ... and did he not deceive her in spite of it, or was ready to do so at any moment, which, after all, came to the same thing?

Only an hour ago, in the fly, when he held her in his arms and kissed her, she had of course no idea that he had other thoughts than for her. And yet at a certain moment, with his lips on hers, he had longed for Sissy. Why should it not happen that Anna should deceive him? After all, it might have already happened ... without his having an idea of it.... But all these ideas had as it were no substance, they swept through his mind, like fantastic almost amusing possibilities. He was standing with Heinrich in front of the closed door in the Floriani Gassi and shook hands with him.

"Well, God bless you," he said; "when we see each other again I hope you will be cured of your doubts."

"And would that be much good?" asked Heinrich. "Can one reassure oneself with certainties in matters of love? The most one can do is to reassure oneself with bad news, for that lasts, but being certain of something good is at the best an intoxication.... Well, goodbye, old chap. I hope we will see each other again in May. Then, whatever happens, I shall come here for a time, and we can talk again about our glorious opera."

"Yes, if I shall be back again in Vienna in May. It may be that I shall not come back before the autumn."

"And then go off again on your new career?"

"It is quite possible that it will turn out like that," and he looked Heinrich in the face with a kind of childlike defiant smile that seemed to say: "I'm not going to tell you."

Heinrich seemed surprised. "Look here, George, perhaps this is the very last time we are standing together in front of this door. Oh, I am far from thrusting myself into your confidence. This somewhat one-sided relationship will no doubt have to go on on its present lines. Well, it doesn't matter."

George looked straight in front of him.

"I hope things go all right," said Heinrich as the door opened, "and drop me a line now and then."

"Certainly," answered George, and suddenly saw Heinrich's eyes resting upon him with an expression of real sympathy which he had never expected. "Certainly ... and you must write to me, too. At any rate give me news of how things are at home and what you are working at. At all events," he added sincerely, "we must continue to keep in touch with each other."

The porter stood there with dishevelled hair and an angry sleepy expression, in a greenish-brown dressing-gown, with slippers on his bare feet.

Heinrich shook hands with George for the last time. "Goodbye, my dear friend," he said, and then in a gentler voice, as he pointed to the porter: "I cannot keep him waiting any longer. You will find no particular difficulty in reading in his noble physiognomy, which is obviously the genuine native article, the names he is calling me to himself at this particular moment. Adieu."

George could not help laughing. Heinrich disappeared. The door clanged and closed.

George did not feel the least bit sleepy and determined to go home on foot. He was in an excited exalted mood. He was envisaging the days which were now bound to come with a peculiar sense of tension. He thought of to-morrow's meeting with Anna, the things they were going to talk over, the journey, the house that already stood somewhere in the world, which his imagination had already roughly pictured like a house out of a box of toys, light-green with a bright red roof and a black chimney. His own form appeared before him like a picture thrown on a white screen by a magic lantern: he saw himself sitting on a balcony in happy solitude, in front of a table strewn with music paper. Branches rocked in front of the railings. A clear sky hung above him, while below at his feet lay the sea, with a dreamy blueness that was quite abnormal.

_______________

Notes:

[1] A reference to the Faro game.
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Re: The Road to the Open, by Arthur Schnitzler

Postby admin » Thu Jul 02, 2015 11:05 pm

PART 1 OF 3

V

George gently opened the door of Anna's room. She still lay asleep in bed and breathed deeply and peacefully. He went out of the slightly darkened room, back again into his own and shut the door. Then he went to the open window and looked out. Clouds bathed in sunshine were sweeping over the water. The mountains opposite with their clearly-defined lines were floating in the brilliancy of the heavens, while the brightest blue was glittering over the gardens and houses of Lugano.

George was quite delighted to breathe in once more the air of this June morning, which brought to him the moist freshness of the lake and the perfume of the plane-trees, magnolias and roses in the hotel park; to look out upon this view, whose spring-like peace had welcomed him like a fresh happiness every morning for the last three weeks.

He drank his tea quickly, ran down the stairs as quickly and expectantly as he had once, when a boy, hurried off to his play, and took his accustomed way along the bank in the grey fragrance of the early shade. Here he would think of his own lonely morning walks at Palermo and Taormina in the previous spring, walks which he had frequently continued for hours on end, since Grace was very fond of lying in bed with open eyes until noon.

That period of his life, over which a recent though no doubt much-desired farewell seemed to squat like a sinister cloud, usually struck him as more or less bathed in melancholy. But this time all painful things seemed to lie in the far distance, and at any rate he had it in his power to put off the end as long as he wanted, if it did not come from fate itself.

He had left Vienna with Anna at the beginning of March, as it was no longer possible to conceal her condition. In January, in fact, George had decided to speak to her mother. He had more or less prepared himself for it, and was consequently able to make his communication quietly and in well-turned phraseology. The mother listened in silence and her eyes grew large and moist. Anna sat on the sofa with an embarrassed smile and looked at George as he spoke, with a kind of curiosity. They sketched out the plan for the ensuing months. George wanted to stay abroad with Anna until the early summer. Then a house was to be taken in the country in the neighbourhood of Vienna, so that her mother should not be far away in the time of greatest need, and the child could without difficulty be given out to nurse in the neighbourhood of the town. They also thought out an excuse for officious inquisitive people for Anna's departure and absence.

As her voice had made substantial progress of late—which was perfectly true—she had gone off to a celebrated singing mistress in Dresden, to complete her training.

Frau Rosner nodded several times, as though she agreed with everything, but the features of her face became sadder and sadder. It was not so much that she was oppressed by what she had just learnt, as she was by the realisation that she was bound to be so absolutely defenceless, poor middle-class mother that she was, sitting opposite the aristocratic seducer.

George, who noticed this with regret, endeavoured to assume a lighter and more sympathetic tone. He came closer to the good woman, he took her hand and held it for some seconds in his own. Anna had scarcely contributed a word to the whole discussion, but when George got ready to go she got up, and for the first time in front of her mother she offered him her lips to kiss, as though she were now celebrating her betrothal to him.

George went downstairs in better spirits, as though the worst were now really over. Henceforth he spent whole hours at the Rosners' more frequently than before, practising music with Anna, whose voice had now grown noticeably in power and volume. The mother's demeanour to George became more friendly. Why, it often seemed to him as though she had to be on her guard against a growing sympathy for him, and there was one evening in the family circle when George stayed for supper, improvised afterwards to the company from the Meistersingers and Lohengrin with his cigar in his mouth, could not help enjoying the lively applause, particularly from Josef, and was almost shocked to notice as he went home that he had felt quite as comfortable, as though it had been a home he had recently won for himself.

When he was sitting over his black coffee with Felician a few days later the servant brought in a card, the receipt of which made a slight blush mount to his cheek. Felician pretended not to notice his brother's embarrassment, said good-bye and left the room. He met old Rosner in the doorway, inclined his head slightly in answer to his greeting and took no further notice.

George invited Herr Rosner, who came in in his winter coat with his hat and umbrella, to sit down, and offered him a cigar. Old Rosner said: "I have just been smoking," a remark which somehow or other reassured George, and sat down, while George remained leaning on the table.

Then the old man began with his accustomed slowness: "You will probably be able to imagine, Herr Baron, why I have taken the liberty of troubling you. I really wanted to speak to you in the earlier part of the day, but unfortunately I could not get away from the office."

"You would not have found me at home in the morning, Herr Rosner," answered George courteously.

"All the better then that I didn't have my journey for nothing. My wife has told me this morning ... what has happened...." He looked at the floor.

"Yes," said George, and gnawed at his upper lip. "I myself intended.... But won't you take off your overcoat? It is very warm in the room."

"No thank you, thank you, it is not at all too warm for me. Well, I was horrified when my wife gave me this information. Indeed I was, Herr Baron.... I never would have thought it of Anna ... never thought it possible ... it is ... really dreadful...." He spoke all the time in his usual monotonous voice, though he shook his head more often than usual.

George could not help looking all the time at his head with its thin yellow-grey hair, and felt nothing but a desolate boredom. "Really, Herr Rosner, the thing is not dreadful," he said at last. "If you knew how much I ... and how sincere my affection for Anna is, you would certainly be very far from thinking the thing dreadful. At any rate, I suppose your wife has told you about our plans for the immediate future ... or am I making a mistake...?"

"Not at all, Herr Baron, I have been informed of everything this morning. But I must say that I have noticed for some weeks that something was wrong in the house. It often struck me that my wife was very nervous and was often on the point of crying."

"On the point of crying! There is really no occasion for that, Herr Rosner. Anna herself, who is more concerned than any one else, is very well and is in her usual good spirits...."

"Yes, Anna at any rate takes it very well, and that, to speak frankly, is more or less my consolation. But I cannot describe to you, Baron, how hard hit ... how, I could almost say ... like a bolt from the blue ... I could never, no, never have ... have believed it...." He could not say any more. His voice trembled.

"I am really very concerned," said George, "that you should take the matter like this, in spite of the fact that your wife is bound to have explained everything to you, and that the measures we have taken for the near future presumably meet with your approval. I would prefer not to talk about a time which is further, though I hope not too far off, because phrases of all kinds are more or less distasteful to me, but you may be sure, Herr Rosner, that I certainly shall not forget what I owe to a person like Anna.... Yes, what I owe to myself." He gulped.

In all his memory there was no moment in his life in which he had felt less sympathy for himself. And now, as is necessarily the case in all pointless conversations, they repeated themselves several times, until Herr Rosner finally apologised for having troubled him, and took his leave of George, who accompanied him to the stairs.

George felt an unpleasant aftermath in his soul for some days after this visit. The brother would be the finishing touch, he thought irritably, and he could not help imagining a scene of explanation in the course of which the young man would endeavour to play the avenger of the family honour, while George put him in his place with extraordinarily trenchant expressions.

George nevertheless felt a sense of relief after the conversation with Anna's parents had taken place, and the hours which he spent with his beloved alone in the peaceful room opposite the church were full of a peculiar feeling of comfort and safety. It sometimes seemed to them both as though time stood still.

It was all very well for George to bring guide-books, Burckhardt's Cicerone, and even maps to their meetings, and to plan out with Anna all kinds of routes; he did not as a matter of fact seriously think that all this would ever be realised.

So far, however, as the house in which the child was to be born was concerned, they were both impressed with the necessity of its being found and taken before they left Vienna. Anna once saw an advertisement in the paper which she was accustomed to read carefully for that very object, of a lodge near the forest, and not far from a railway station, which could be reached in one and a half hours from Vienna. One morning they both took the train to the place in question and they had a memory of a snow-covered lonely wooden building with antlers over the door, an old drunken keeper, a young blonde girl, a swift sleigh-ride over a snowy winter street, an extraordinarily jolly dinner in an enormous room in the inn, and then home in a badly-lighted over-heated compartment. This was the only time that George tried to find with Anna the house that must be standing somewhere in the world and waiting to be decided upon. Otherwise he usually went alone by train or tramway to look round the summer resorts which were near Vienna. Once, on a spring day that had come straight into the middle of the winter, George was walking through one of the small places situated quite near town, which he was particularly fond of, where village buildings, unassuming villas and elegant country houses lay close upon each other. He had completely forgotten, as often happened, why he had taken the journey, and was thinking with emotion of the fact that Beethoven and Schubert had taken the same walk as he, many years ago, when he unexpectedly ran up against Nürnberger. They greeted each other, praised the fine day, which had enticed them so far out into the open, and expressed regret that they so rarely saw each other since Bermann had left Vienna.

"Is it long since you heard anything of him?" asked George.

"I have only had a card from him," replied Nürnberger, "since he left. It is much more likely he would correspond regularly with you than with me."

"Why is it more likely?" inquired George, somewhat irritated by Nürnberger's tone, as indeed be frequently was.

"Well, at any rate you have the advantage over me of being a new acquaintance, and consequently offering more exciting subject-matter for his psychological interest than I can."

George detected in the accustomed flippancy of these words a certain sense of grievance which he more or less understood, for, as a matter of fact, Heinrich had bothered very little about Nürnberger of late, though he had previously seen a great deal of him, it being always his way to draw men to him and then drop them with the greatest lack of consideration, according as their character did or did not fit in with his own mood.

"In spite of that I am not much better off than you," said George. "I haven't had any news of him for some weeks either. His father, too, appears to be in a bad way according to the last letter."

"So I suppose it will soon be all up with the poor old man now."

"Who knows? According to what Bermann writes me, he can still last for months."

Nürnberger shook his head seriously.

"Yes," said George lightly. "The doctors ought to be allowed in cases like that ... to shorten the matter."

"You are perhaps right," answered Nürnberger, "but who knows whether our friend Heinrich, however much the sight of his father's incurable malady may put him off his work and perhaps many other things as well—who knows whether he might not all the same refuse the suggestion of finishing off this hopeless matter by a morphia injection?"

George felt again repulsed by Nürnberger's bitter, ironic tone, and yet when he remembered the hour when he had seen Heinrich more violently upset by a few obscure words in the letter of a mistress than by his father's madness, he could not drive out the impression that Nürnberger's opinion of their friend was correct. "Did you know old Bermann?" he asked.

"Not personally, but I still remember the time when his name was known in the papers, and I remember, too, many extremely sound and excellent speeches which he made in Parliament. But I am keeping you, my dear Baron. Goodbye. We will see each other no doubt one of these days in the café, or at Ehrenbergs'."

"You are not keeping me at all," replied George with deliberate courtesy. "I am quite at large, and I am availing myself of the opportunity of looking at houses for the summer."

"So you are going in the country, near Vienna this year?"

"Yes, for a time probably, and apart from that a family I know has asked me if I should chance to run across...." He grew a little red, as he always did when he was not adhering strictly to the truth. Nürnberger noticed it and said innocently: "I have just passed by some villas which are to let. Do you see, for instance, that white one with the white terrace?"

"It looks very nice. We might have a look at it, if you won't find it too dull coming with me. Then we can go back together to town."

The garden which they entered sloped upwards and was very long and narrow. It reminded Nürnberger of one in which he had played as a child. "Perhaps it is the same," he said. "We lived for years and years you know in the country in Grinzing or Heiligenstadt."

This "we" affected George in quite a strange way. He could scarcely realise Nürnberger's ever having been quite young, ever having lived as a son with his father and mother, as a brother with his sisters, and he felt all of a sudden that this man's whole life had something strange and hard about it.

At the top of the garden an open arbour gave a wonderfully fine view of the town, which they enjoyed for some time. They slowly went down, accompanied by the caretaker's wife, who carried a small child wrapped in a grey shawl in her arms. They then looked at the house—low musty rooms with cheap battered carpets on the floor, narrow wooden beds, dull or broken mirrors.

"Everything will be done up again in the spring," explained the caretaker, "then it will look very cheerful." The little child suddenly held out its tiny hand towards George, as if it wanted him to take it up in his arms. George was somewhat moved and smiled awkwardly.

As he rode with Nürnberger into the town on the platform of the tramway and chatted to him he felt that he had never got so close to him on all the many previous occasions when they had been together, as during this hour of clear winter sunshine in the country. When they said goodbye it was quite a matter of course that they should arrange a new excursion on a day in the immediate future. And so it came about that George was several times accompanied by Nürnberger, when he continued his househunting in the neighbourhood of Vienna. On these occasions the fiction was still kept up that George was looking for a house for a family whom he knew, that Nürnberger believed it and that George believed that Nürnberger believed it.

On these excursions Nürnberger frequently came to speak of his youth, to speak about the parents whom he had lost very early, of a sister who had died young and of his elder brother, the only one of his relatives who was still alive. But he, an ageing bachelor like Edmund himself, did not live in Vienna, but in a small town in Lower Austria, where he was a teacher in a public school, where he had been transferred fifteen years ago as an assistant. He could easily have managed afterwards to have got an appointment again in the metropolis, but after a few years of bitterness, and even defiance, he had become so completely acclimatised to the quiet petty life of the place where he was staying that he came to regard a return to Vienna as more a sacrifice than anything else, and he now lived on, passionately devoted to his profession and particularly to his studies in philology, far from the world, lonely, contented, a kind of philosopher in the little town. When Nürnberger spoke of this distant brother George often felt as though he were hearing him speak about some one who had died, so absolutely out of the question seemed every possibility of a permanent reunion in the future. It was in quite a different tone, almost as though he were speaking of a being who could return once again, that he would talk with a perpetual wistfulness of the sister who had been dead several years. It was on a misty February day, while they were at the railway station waiting for the train to Vienna, and walking up and down with each other on the platform, that Nürnberger told George the story of this sister, who when a child of sixteen had become possessed as it were by a tremendous passion for the theatre, and had run away from home without saying goodbye in a fit of childish romanticism. She had wandered from town to town, from stage to stage, for ten years, playing smaller and smaller parts, since neither her talent nor her beauty appeared to be sufficient for the career which she had chosen, but always with the same enthusiasm, always with the same confidence in her future, in spite of the disillusions which she experienced and the sorrow which she saw. In the holidays she would come to the brothers, who were still living together, sometimes for weeks, sometimes only for days, and tell them about the provincial halls in which she had acted as though they were great theatres; about her few successes as though they were triumphs which she had won, about the wretched comedians at whose side she worked as though they were great artists, tell them about the petty intrigues that took place around her as though they were powerful tragedies of passion. And instead of gradually realising the miserable world in which she was living a life which was as much to be pitied as that of any one else, she spun every year the essence of her soul into more and more golden dreams. This went on for a long time, until at last she came home, feverish and ill. She lay in bed for months on end with flushed cheeks, raving in her delirium of a fame and happiness which she had never experienced, got up once again in apparent health, and went away once more, only to come back home, this time after a few weeks, in complete collapse with death written on her forehead. Her brother now travelled with her to the South; to Arco, Meran, to the Italian Lakes, and it was only as she lay stretched out in southern gardens beneath flowering trees, far away from the whirl that had dazed and intoxicated her throughout the years that she realised at last that her life had been simply a racketing about beneath a painted sky and between paper walls—that the whole essence of her existence had been an illusion. But even the little everyday incidents, the apartments and inns of the foreign town, seemed to her memory simply scenes which she had played in as an actress by the footlights, and not scenes which she had really lived, and as she approached nearer and nearer to the grave, there awoke within her an awful yearning for that real life which she had missed, and the more surely she knew that it was lost to her for ever, the clearer became the gaze with which she realised the fullness of the world. And the strangest touch of all was the way in which, in the last weeks of her life, that talent to which she had sacrificed her whole existence without ever really possessing it manifested itself with diabolic uncanniness.

"It seems to me, even to-day," said Nürnberger, "that I have never heard verses so declaimed, never seen whole scenes so acted, even by the greatest actress, as I did by my sister in the hotel room at Cadenabbia, looking out on to the Lake of Como, a few days before she died. Of course," he added, "it is possible, even probable, that my memory is deceiving me."

"But why?" asked George, who was so pleased with this finale that he did not want to have it spoiled. And he endeavoured to convince Nürnberger, who listened to him with a smile, that he could not have made a mistake, and that the world had lost a great actress in that strange girl who lay buried in Cadenabbia.

George did not find on his excursions with Nürnberger the house in the country for which he was looking. In fact it seemed to become more difficult to find every time he went out. Nürnberger made occasional jokes about George's exacting requirements. He seemed to be looking for a villa which was to be faced in front by a well-kept road, while it was to have at the back a garden door which led into the natural forest. Eventually George himself did not seriously believe that he would now succeed in finding the desired house, and relied on the pressure of necessity after his return from his travels.

It seemed more essential to get as soon as possible into touch with a doctor, but George put this off too from one day to another. But one evening Anna informed him that she had been suddenly panic-stricken by a new attack of faintness, had visited Doctor Stauber and explained her condition to him. He had been very nice, had not expressed any astonishment, had thoroughly reassured her and only expressed the wish to speak to George before they went away.

A few days afterwards George went to see the doctor in accordance with his invitation.

The consultation hours were over. Doctor Stauber received him with the friendliness which he had anticipated, seemed to treat the whole matter as being as regular and as much a matter of course as it could possibly be, and spoke of Anna just as though she had been a young wife, a method of procedure which affected George in a strange but not unpleasant way.

When the practical discussion was over the doctor inquired about the destination of their journey. George had not yet mapped out any programme, only this much was decided, that the spring was to be spent in the south, probably in Italy. Doctor Stauber took the opportunity to talk about his last stay in Rome, which was ten years back. He had been in personal touch on this occasion, as he had been once before, with the director of the excavations and spoke to George in almost ecstatic terms of the latest discoveries on the Palatine, about which he had written monographs as a young man, which he had published in the antiquarian journals. He then showed George, and not without pride, his library, which was divided into two sections, medicine and the history of art, and took out and offered to lend him a few rare books, one printed in the year 1834 on the Vatican collections and also a history of Sicily. George felt highly excited as he realised with such vividness the rich days that lay in front of him. He was overcome by a kind of homesickness for places which he knew well and had missed for a long time. Half-forgotten pictures floated up in his memory, the pyramids of Cestius stood on the horizon in sharp outlines, as they had appeared to him when he had ridden back as a boy into the town at evening with the prince of Macedon; the dim church, where he had seen his first mistress step up to the altar as a bride, opened its doors; a bark under a dark sky with strange sulphur yellow sails drew near to the coast.... He began to speak about the several towns and landscapes of the south which he had seen as a boy and as a youth, explained the longing for those places which often seized on him like a genuine homesickness, his joy at being able to take in with mature appreciation all the differing things which he had longed for, reserved for himself and then forgotten, and many new things besides, and this time too in the society of a being who was able to appreciate and enjoy everything with him, and whom he held dear.

Doctor Stauber, who was in the act of putting a book back on the shelf, turned round suddenly to George, looked gently at him and said: "I am very glad of that." As George answered his look with some surprise he added: "It was the first tender allusion to your relationship to Annerl that I have noticed in the course of the last hour. I know, I know that you are not the kind of man to take a comparative stranger into your confidence, but if only because I had no reason to expect it, it has really done me good. It came straight from your heart, one could see it; and I should have been really sorry for Annerl—excuse me, I always call her that—if I had been driven to think that you are not as fond of her as she deserves."

"I really don't know," replied George coolly, "what gave you cause to doubt it, doctor."

"Did I say anything about doubts?" replied Stauber good-humouredly. "But, after all, it has happened before that a young man who has had all kinds of experiences does not appreciate a sacrifice of this kind sufficiently, for it still is a sacrifice, my dear Baron. We can be as superior to all prejudices as much as we like—but it is not a trifle even to-day for a young girl of good family to make up her mind to do a thing like that, and I won't conceal it from you—of course I did not let Annerl notice anything—it gave even me a slight shock when she came to me the other day and told me all about it."

"Excuse me, Herr Doctor," replied George, irritated but yet polite, "if it gave you a shock that is surely some proof against your being superior to prejudices...."

"You are right," said Stauber with a smile, "but perhaps you will overlook this lapse when you consider that I am somewhat older than you and belong to another age. Even a more or less independent man ... which I flatter myself I am ... cannot quite escape from the influence of his age. It is a strange thing, but believe me, even among the young people, who have grown up on Nietzsche and Ibsen, there are quite as many Philistines as there were thirty years ago. They won't own up to it, but it does go against the grain with them, for instance, if some one goes and seduces their sister, or if one of their worthy wives suddenly takes it into her head that she wants to live her own life.... Many, of course, are consistent and carry their pose through ... but that is more a matter of self-control than of their real views, and in the old days, you know, the age to which I belong, when ideas were so immovably hide-bound, when every one for instance was quite sure of things like this: one has to honour one's parents or else one is a knave ... or ... one only loves really once in one's life ... or it's a pleasure to die for one's fatherland ... in that time, mind you, when every decent man held up some flag or other, or at any rate had something written on his banner ... believe me, the so-called modern ideas had more adherents than you suspect. The only thing was that those adherents did not quite know it themselves, they did not trust their own ideas, they thought themselves, as it were, debauchees or even criminals. Shall I tell you something, Herr Baron? There are really no new ideas at all. People feel with a new intensity—that's what it is. But do you seriously think that Nietzsche discovered the superman, Ibsen the fraud of life and Anzengruber the truth that the parents who desire love and honour from their children ought to 'come up to the scratch' themselves? Not a bit of it. All the ethical ideas have always been there, and one would really be surprised if one knew what absolute blockheads have thought of the so-called great new truths, and have even frequently given them expression long before the geniuses to whom we owe these truths, or rather the courage to regard these truths as true. If I have gone rather too far forgive me. I really only wanted to say ... and you will believe me, I am sure.... I know as well as you, Baron, that there is many a virgin girl who is a thousand times more corrupt than a so-called fallen woman; and that there is many a young man who passes for respectable who has worse things on his conscience than starting a liaison with an innocent girl. And yet ... it is just the curse of my period ..." he interpolated with a smile, "I could not help it, the first moment Annerl told me her story certain unpleasant words which in their day had their own fixed meaning began to echo through my old head in their old tones, silly out-of-date words like ... libertine ... seduction ... leaving in the lurch ... and so on, and that is why I must ask you once more to forgive me, now that I have got to know you somewhat more intimately ... that is why I felt that shock which a modern man would certainly not own that he experienced. But to talk seriously once again, just consider a minute how your poor father, who did not know Anna, would have taken the matter. He was certainly one of the shrewdest and most unprejudiced men whom one can imagine ... and all the same you have not the slightest doubt that the matter would not have passed off without his feeling something of a shock as well."

George could not help holding out his hand to the doctor. The unexpectedness of this sudden allusion caused so intense a longing to spring up within him that the only thing he could do to assuage it was to begin to talk of him who had passed away. The doctor was able to tell him of many meetings with the late baron, mostly chance casual encounters in the street, at the sessions of the scientific academy, at concerts. There came another of those moments in which George thought himself strangely guilty in his attitude towards the dead man and registered a mental vow to become worthy of his memory.

"Remember me kindly to Annerl," said the doctor as he said goodbye, "but I would rather you did not tell her anything about the shock. She is a very sensitive creature, that you know well enough, and now it is particularly important to save her any excitement. Remember, my dear Baron, there is only one question before us now—to see that a healthy child comes into the world, everything else.... Well, give her my best regards. I hope we shall all see each other again in the summer in the best of health."

George went away with a heightened consciousness of his responsibilities towards the being who had given herself to him and to that other who would wake up to existence in a few months. He thought first of making a will and leaving it behind with a lawyer. But on further consideration he thought it more proper to confide in his brother, who after all stood nearer to him in sentiment than any one else. But with that peculiar embarrassment which was characteristic of the really intimate relationship between the brothers he let day after day go by, until at last Felician's departure on the hunting expedition in Africa was quite imminent.

The night before, on the way home from the club, George informed his brother that he was thinking of taking a long journey in the near future.

"Really! For how long shall you be away?" asked Felician.

George caught the note of a certain anxiety in these words and felt that it was incumbent on him to add: "It will probably be the last long journey I shall take for some years. I hope to find myself in a permanent position in the autumn."

"So you have quite made up your mind?"

"Yes, of course."

"I am very glad, George, for different reasons, as you can imagine, that you want at last to do something serious. And besides, it's a very sound thing, that it is not a case of one of us going out into the world while the other remains at home alone. That would really have been rather sad."

George knew quite well that Felician would get a foreign diplomatic post in the following autumn, but he had never realised so clearly that in a few months that brotherly life which had lasted for so many years, that common life in the old house opposite the park, yes, his whole youth so to speak, would be irrevocably over and done with. He saw life lying in front of him, serious, almost menacing. "Have you any idea," he asked, "where they will send you?"

"There is some chance of Athens."

"Would you like that?"

"Why not? The society ought to be fairly interesting. Bernburg was there for three years and was sorry to leave. And they have transferred him to London, too, and that's certainly not to be sniffed at."

They walked in silence for a while and took their usual way through the park. An atmosphere suggesting the approaching spring was around them, although small white flakes of snow still gleamed on the lawns.

"So you are going to Italy?" asked Felician.

"Yes."

"As far down South as last spring?"

"I don't know yet."

Again a short silence. Suddenly Felician's voice came out of the darkness. "Have you heard anything of Grace since then?"

"Of Grace?" repeated George, somewhat surprised, for it had been a long time since Felician had mentioned that name. "I have heard nothing more of Grace. Besides, that is what we arranged. We took farewell of each other for ever at Genoa. That is already more than a year ago...."

A gentleman was sitting on a seat quite in the darkness in a fur coat with a top hat and white gloves. "Ah, Labinski," thought George for a whole minute; the next minute he of course remembered that he had shot himself. This was not the first time that he had thought he had seen him. A man had sat in broad daylight in the botanical garden at Palermo under a Japanese ash-tree whom George had taken for a whole second for Labinski; and recently George had thought he had recognised the face of his dead father behind the shut windows of a fiacre.

The houses gleamed behind the leafless branches. One of them was the house in which the brothers lived. The time has come, thought George, for me to mention the matter at last. And to bring matters to a head, he observed lightly: "Besides, I am not going to Italy alone this year."

"Hm! Hm!" said Felician, and looked in front of him.

George felt at the same moment that he had not taken the right tone. He was apprehensive of Felician's thinking something like this: "Oh yes, he has got an adventure again with some shady person or other." And he added seriously: "I say, Felician, I have something serious I should like to talk to you about."

"What! Serious!"

"Yes."

"Well, George," said Felician gently, and looked at him sideways, "what is up, then? You are not thinking of marrying by any chance?"

"Oh no," replied George, and then felt irritated that he had repudiated that possibility with such definiteness. "No, it is not a question of marriage, but of something much more vital."

Felician remained standing for a moment. "You have a child?" he asked seriously.

"No, not yet. That's just it, that is why we are leaving."

"Indeed," said Felician.

They had got out of the park. Involuntarily both looked up to the window of their house, from which only a year ago their father had so often nodded his welcome to them both. Both felt with sorrow that somehow since their father's death they had gradually slipped away from each other—and felt at the same time a slight fear of how much further from each other life could still take them.

"Come into my room," said George when they got upstairs. "That's the most comfortable place."

He sat down on his comfortable chair by his secretary. Felician lounged in the corner on a little green leather ottoman which was near the writing-table and listened quietly.

George told him the name of his mistress, spoke of her with heartfelt sympathy, and asked Felician, in case anything should happen to him, George, in the near future to undertake to look after the mother and her child. He left so much of his fortune as was still available to the child, of course. The mother was to have the usufruct until the child became of age.

When George had finished Felician said with a smile after a short silence: "Oh well, you've got every reason to hope that you will come back as whole and sound from your journey as I will from Africa, and so our conversation has probably only an academic significance."

"I hope so too, of course. But at any rate it reassures me, Felician, that you know all about my secret, and that I can be free from anxiety in every way."

"Yes, of course you can." He shook hands with his brother. Then he got up and walked up and down the room. Finally he said: "You have no thought of legitimising your relationship?"

"Not for the time being. One can never tell what the future may bring forth."

Felician remained standing. "Well...."

"Are you in favour of my marrying?" exclaimed George with some astonishment.

"Not at all."

"Felician, be frank, please."

"Look here, one should not advise any one in affairs like that. Not even one's own brother."

"But if I ask you, Felician? It seems to me as though there is something in the business you didn't quite like."

"Well, it is like this, George.... You won't misunderstand me.... I know of course that you are not thinking of leaving her in the lurch. On the contrary, I am convinced that you will behave all through far more nobly than any ordinary man in your position. But the question is really this, would you have let yourself go into the thing if you had considered the consequences from every point of view?"

"That of course is very hard to answer," said George.

"I mean just this: Did you intend ... not to make her your companion for life, but to have a child by her all the same?"

"Great heavens, who thinks of that? Of course if one had wanted to be so absolutely on the safe side——"

Felician interrupted him. "Does she know that you are not thinking of marrying her?"

"Why, you don't think, surely, I promised her marriage?"

"No. But you did not promise to leave her stranded either."

"It would have been equally mean if I had promised, Felician. The whole thing came about as affairs like that always do, developed without any definite plan right up to the present time."

"Yes, that is all right. The only question is whether one is not more or less under an obligation to have definite plans in really vital matters."

"Possibly.... But that was never my line, unfortunately."

Felician remained standing in front of George, looked at him affectionately and nodded a few times.

"That is quite true, George. You are not angry with me.... But now that we are talking about it.... Of course I am not suggesting I have any right to lecture you on your mode of life...."

"Go ahead, Felician.... I mean if.... It really does me good." He stroked him lightly on the hand which lay on the back of the ottoman.

"Well, there is not much more to be said. I only mean that in everything you do there is just ... the same lack of system. Look here, to talk of another important matter, I personally am quite convinced of your talent and many others are, too. But you really work damned little, don't you? And fame doesn't come of itself, even when one...."

"Quite so. But I don't work as little as you think, Felician, it is only that work is such a peculiar business with people of my temperament. Frequently when one is out for a walk or even asleep one gets all kinds of ideas.... And then in the autumn...."

"Yes, yes, we hope so, though I am afraid that you won't be able to live on your salary at the commencement, and it is very questionable how long your little money will hold out with your mode of life. I tell you candidly, when you mentioned a few moments ago the sum which you were able to leave to your child I had quite a shock."

"Be patient, Felician. In three or five years, when I have my opera finished...." He spoke in an ironical tone.

"Are you really writing an opera, George?"

"I am beginning one shortly."

"Who is doing the libretto for you?"

"Heinrich Bermann. Of course you scowl again."

"My dear George, I have always been very far from lecturing you in any way about the people you associate with. It is quite natural that you with your intellectual tastes should live in a different set and mix with different people to those I do, people whom I should probably find rather less to my taste. But so long as Herr Bermann's libretto is good you have my blessing ... and Herr Bermann, of course, too."

"The libretto is not ready yet, only the scenario."

Felician could not help laughing. "So that's how your opera stands! I only hope the theatre is already built at which you are going to get a post as conductor."

"Come, come," said George, somewhat hurt.

"Forgive me," replied Felician, "I have not really any doubts about your future. I should only like you yourself to do a bit more towards it. I really should be so ... proud, George, if you were to do anything great, and it, I'm sure, only depends on yourself. Willy Eissler, who is a man of genuine musical gifts, told me again only the other day that he thinks more of you than of most of the young composers."

"On the strength of the few songs of mine which he knows? You're a good fellow, Felician, but there is really no need for you to encourage me. I already know what I have got in me, only I must be more industrious, and my going away will do me quite a lot of good. It does one good to get out of one's usual surroundings for a time, like this. And this time it is quite different from last. It is the first time, Felician, that I have had anything to do with a person who is absolutely my equal, who is more ... whom I can treat as a true friend as well, and the consciousness that I am going to have a child, and by her, too, is, in spite of all the accompanying circumstances, rather pleasant."

"I can quite understand that," said Felician, and contemplated George seriously and affectionately.

The clock on the writing-table struck two.

"What, so late already," cried Felician, "and I have got to pack early to-morrow. Well, we can talk over everything at breakfast to-morrow. Well, good-night, George."

"Good-night, Felician. Thank you," he added with emotion.

"What are you thanking me for, George? You really are funny!" They shook hands and then kissed each other, which they had not done for quite a long time, and George resolved to call his child Felician if it was to be a boy, and he rejoiced at the good omen of a name which had so happy a ring.

After his brother's departure George felt as deserted as though he had never had another friend. Living in the great lonely house, where he seemed to be weighed down by a mood like that which had followed the first weeks after his father's death, made him feel depressed.

He regarded the days which still had to elapse before the departure as a transition period, in which it was not worth while starting anything. The hours he spent with his mistress in the room opposite the church became colourless and blank. A psychological change, too, seemed to be now taking place in Anna herself. She was frequently irritable, then taciturn again, almost melancholy, and George was often overcome by so great a sense of ennui when he was with her that he felt quite nervous of the next month in which they would be thrown completely into each other's society. Of course the journey in itself promised change enough, but how would it be in the subsequent months which would have to be spent somewhere in the neighbourhood of Vienna? He must also think about a companion for Anna; but he was still putting off speaking to her about it, when Anna herself came to him with a piece of news which was calculated to remove that difficulty, and at the same time to raise another one, in the simplest way conceivable. Anna had recently, particularly since she had gradually given up her lessons, become more and more intimate with Therese, and had confided everything to her, and so it soon came about that Therese's mother was also in the secret. This lady was much more congenial to Anna than her own mother, who after a slight glimmer of understanding had held aloof, aggrieved and depressed, from her erring daughter.

Frau Golowski not only declared herself ready to live with Anna in the country, but even promised to discover the little house which George had not been able to find, while the young couple were away. However much this willingness suited George's convenience, he found it none the less somewhat painful to be under an obligation to this old woman, who was a stranger to him, and in moments when he was out of temper it struck him as almost grotesque that it should be Leo's mother and Berthold's father, of all people, who should be fated to play so important a part in so momentous an event in Anna's life.

George paid his farewell visit at Ehrenbergs' on a fine May afternoon three days before he went away.

He had only rarely shown himself there since that Christmas celebration and his conversations with Else had remained on the most innocent of footings. She confessed to him, as though to a friend who could not now misunderstand remarks of that character, that she felt more and more unsettled at home. In particular the atmosphere of the house, as George had frequently noticed before, seemed to be permanently overcast by the bad relations between father and son. When Oskar came in at the door with his nonchalant aristocratic swagger and began to talk in his Viennese aristocratic accent, his father would turn scornfully away, or would be unable to suppress allusions to the fact that he could make an end this very day of all that aristocracy by stopping or lowering his so-called allowance, which as a matter of fact was neither more nor less than pocket-money. If, on his side, his father began to talk Yiddish, as he was most fond of doing in front of company, and with obvious malice, Oskar would bite his lips and make a point of leaving the room. So it was only very rarely during the last few months that father and son stayed in Vienna or in Neuhaus at the same time. They both found each other's presence almost intolerable.

When George came in to Ehrenbergs' the room was almost in darkness. The marble Isis gleamed from behind the pianoforte, and the twilight of the late afternoon was falling in the alcove where mother and daughter sat opposite each other. For the first time the appearance of these two women struck George as somewhat strangely pathetic. A vague feeling floated up in his mind that perhaps this was the last time he would see this picture, and Else's smile shone towards him with such sweet melancholy, that he thought for a whole minute: might I not have found my happiness here, after all?

He now sat next to Frau Ehrenberg (who was going on quietly knitting) opposite Else, smoked a cigarette and felt quite at home. He explained that, fascinated by the tempting spring weather, he was starting on his projected journey earlier than he had intended, and that he would probably prolong it until the summer.

"And we are going to Auhof as early as the middle of May this time," said Frau Ehrenberg, "and we certainly count upon seeing you down there this year."

"If you are not elsewhere engaged," added Else with a perfectly straight face.

George promised to come in August, at any rate for some days. The conversation then turned on Felician and Willy, who had started with their party a few days ago from Biskra on their hunting expedition in the desert; on Demeter Stanzides, who announced his immediate intention of resigning from the army and retiring to an estate in Hungary; and finally on Heinrich Bermann of whom no one had had any news for some weeks.

"Who knows if he will ever come back to Vienna at all?" said Else.

"Why shouldn't he? What makes you think that, Fräulein Else?"

"Upon my word, perhaps he'll marry that actress and trot about the world with her."

George shrugged his shoulders ... he didn't know personally of any actress with whom Heinrich was mixed up, and he ventured to express a doubt whether Heinrich would ever marry any one, whether she was a Princess or a circus rider.

"It would be rather a pity if Bermann were to," said Frau Ehrenberg, without taking any notice of George's discretion. "I certainly think that young people take these matters either too lightly or too seriously."

Else followed up the idea: "Yes, it is strange, all you men are either cleverer or much sillier in these matters than in any other, although really it is just in such crucial moments of one's life, that one ought as far as possible to be one's ordinary self."
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