The allegations of racial discrimination in the interview with the Harry couple are still fermenting. Harry’s brother, Prince William, responded to this for the first time in an interview with British Sky Broadcasting Corporation on the 11th, saying that “we are not a racist family at all” and that although he has not talked with Harry yet, he plans to talk to him in the future. In fact, it is not just the British royal family that has been affected recently. The complaints of Harry and his wife have also caused waves in the British media industry.
According to a Reuters report on the 11th, the famous British independent television host Pierce Morgan recently resigned for criticizing Meghan. On the 8th of the independent television station “Good Morning Britain”, he said that he was skeptical of Meghan’s remarks that “have thoughts of suicide”. This remark was quickly criticized by medical experts. The British Communications Office, the British media regulator, received 41,015 complaints against Morgan, the second largest number in history. ITV confirmed the acceptance of Morgan’s decision to resign on the 9th, and Meghan personally complained about Morgan to ITV on the same day. However, Morgan still insisted on his position after resignation. He said on Twitter on the 10th that he would fight to the death to defend freedom of speech.
According to a CNN report on the 11th, after Megan accused the British media of racial discrimination, the British Editors’ Association declared that the report on Megan did not involve racism, and the Harrys’ accusations were unfounded. Murray, the administrative director of the association, also said that the British media is not narrow or racially discriminatory. This triggered condemnation from more than 160 journalists of color and questioning from editors of the British “Guardian” and “Financial Times”, who believed that Murray’s statement showed that the British media “deliberately ignored” the discriminatory treatment of Meghan.
On the 10th, the British Editors’ Association issued a clarification statement, acknowledging that the initial statement “does not reflect what we all know: the media still has a lot of work to do to improve diversity and inclusiveness”. Under pressure, Murray announced his resignation on the 10th. He was responsible for the initial statement, saying that he left “to allow the organization to begin rebuilding its reputation.” Affected by this, independent TV news anchor Charlene White resigned on the 10th as the host of the British Media Awards hosted by the association.
According to the New York Times, the consequences of Harry and Meghan’s interviews not only split the British, shaken the foundation of the royal family, but also caused the split of the British news media. The industry will maintain at least superficial peace before, but as more and more people question the media’s handling of racial and mental health issues and reports on the royal family, the “unity” in the British media is facing increasing pressure. Rogers, associate professor of journalism at City College, University of London, said, “The media reflects many differences in the conduct of Harry and Meghan in British society.”
it was – but – not possible! –
Every drop of blood drained from Eva on Ostried’s face. An iron circlet seemed to be pressed around the chest and temple. Suddenly she stood in the middle of the room, looking for her clothes and found nothing but the flicker of the moon, which was listing its silver coins everywhere. Her limbs began to tremble so badly that she sank powerlessly on a chair and had the only wish to take old Pauline’s hands, so that the terrible horror would pass before her.
The old girl stared at the telegram that had slipped to the floor. The bright night illuminated every corner with those silvery hours of sleep which the President claimed would bring peace to even the most troubled souls. A premonition, too dreadful to be thought through, shook the two people.
Then the spasm of icy cold in Eva von Ostried’s soul dissolved into a scream. Old Pauline’s hands felt the sheet of paper up from the floor. She laboriously spelled word for word:
Lady with ID from President Hanna Melchers, Grunewald and your address in the waiting room[S. 80]Kill 2nd grade heartbeat. Corpse transferred to the local hall.
Belgard a. Persante.
– – It was still night. The wait for the first break of dawn became unbearable. On the pale birch table was the course book that Eva had forgotten to put in the president’s handbag. It was still open. Still, she didn’t find what she was looking for.
And you had to go to her!
They sat close together and were silent. Only once did old Pauline whisper:
“She must have considered this a long time ago. The Council of Justice is sure to know about everything. ”
Now they were waiting to finally be able to ask advice from a sick person whose night’s sleep could not be disturbed. As soon as the first rosy streak announced the morning in the east, Eva von Ostried telephoned to his private apartment. He answered her himself. There was neither horror nor amazement in his voice when he heard it.
“You have prepared everything for the trip to Belgard, Fraulein von Ostried? That was unnecessary! I drive myself. And indeed – wait a minute – so – I’ve already got it – with the morning train at 9 o’clock. Everything else later. I will send you a message from there. ”
Eva ventured an objection.
“I am sure you are still ill, Mr. Justice Council. Will your doctor allow it? ”
His reply was short and clear:
“I promised her this because she always expected her unexpected death. You both keep at home, of course, so that you can get my message straight away at any time. ”
Now it was time to wait again!
Eva sat huddled in the place from which she had sung the President’s favorite songs. The Solveiglied from yesterday was still on the piano. And through the horror, the suspicion crept that she was now completely free.
She was ashamed because she could think about it. The path to art lay enticingly before her. Her soul was longing and soft like never before. The timid premonition quickly grew into a joyful certainty – and planted its path with delicious flowers. – She thought deeply of the dead woman and could already feel the demanding – beautiful life again.
On the other hand, no hot shame helped. – The future was rose red. – The dead face must be cold and pale as wax. – A new sensation came over her. As she imagined, quite pure and free from all earthly things. – She was brought to her knees in front of the picture that portrayed the President as a young woman. – The wise, benevolent countenance appeared to her like that of an angel smiling down on her for forgiveness and understanding. She never believed she loved and adored the motherly woman more than she did at these moments!
The feeling of the greatest gratitude also caused her first tears. That they will henceforth be free and independent[S. 82]was allowed to – far removed from the cruel misery that everyday life can bring – that was the work of the dead, of which they only became aware in Oeynhausen when they were definitely intended. – While her tears trickled down inexorably, she heard melodies from which no other ear could hear a sound. And had no idea how much she – with this expression of purity and remoteness – resembled her deceased mother. Only that she kept her rich talent hidden from strangers like a precious secret at all times, while her daughter fevered for recognition and fame.
– – The horrors of death were overcome. – The golden dream of life was too beautiful. – The President’s express wish to be buried next to her husband, who slept in the quiet forest of the Stahnsdorf cemetery, had been fulfilled. The small, dignified celebration, of which – also after the deceased had been determined – their acquaintances could not be informed until the following day, was over. Counselor Weissgerber, still pale and dull from the illness he had barely survived, was sitting in front of the president’s desk and had both hands on the documents which, at her request, he wanted to take with him to his home for a thorough review.
“Now you should finally hear more about your last lesson, Fraulein von Ostried,” he said to Eva. “I had to be brief yesterday. The time was meager. – You know that she had to stay in this little Pomeranian town for about an hour. Waiter and landlord reported[S. 83]agree with me. At first she wrote eagerly, as she liked to do when traveling. We talked about this habit of hers once. She said that many things that were forgotten and missed would come into their own in this way. Of course, the two of them didn’t find letters and cards afterwards. But, she may have put what she wrote in the box herself. In any case, she should have moved away for a few minutes. Shortly afterwards she had a slight heart attack. The station host’s wife stood by her and also offered her one of her own rooms to rest. However, she refused. She is said to have drunk only a glass of strong wine very hastily. Obviously she did well for soon afterwards she thanked the helpful people in the kind manner we knew well enough and gave the waiter a very generous tip, although she had to stay for a little half an hour. A little later the attack repeated itself. – The doctor was called and was only able to confirm that she was dead. You know the other thing. ”
Eva von Ostried asked a question with twitching lips:
“I wonder if she still suffered – a lot.” – The amazement at what appears to the youth to be incredibly cruel froze through her again.
The Justice Council shook his head.
“You should have seen the expression of peace that lay on your face.” – Then he asked, and there was a sound of curiosity in his voice:
“By the way, why didn’t you want to be next to Pauline when the coffin was opened here again, like her[S. 84] also allowed this if one of you expressed your wish? ”
Eva von Ostried hesitated before answering.
“I saw my dead father -” It sounded like an admission of horror that was hard to overcome.
“I think there can hardly be anyone with as little debt as she had,” he said musingly.
“Are you convinced that peace came from this in your face?”
“Yes – I am completely!”
“How cruel is this too. Letting go of life and feeling all guilt – huddled together – in the last hour and having to repent, ”she said with a shudder and thought again of her father, whose torment had not come to an end.
He shrugged mercilessly.
“Everything will take revenge once! – That is the consolation of us lawyers when we can only burden with the proof of our strong conviction. – But now I have to go to my work. My office manager is desperate. Piles of files are waiting for me. ”
She did not hold him back, although serious questions were burning on her lips. At the threshold he turned his head to her again.
“Already a year ago she asked me to apply for the opening of her will as soon as possible after her death. So I have already arranged for it. In a few days I hope you will receive news as well. ”
“Fraulein von Ostried, I know nothing more than that she carried herself with the intention of paving the way for you in every respect. Maybe she wanted to talk it over with me on your last birthday. Maybe it seemed so easy that she didn’t need my advice. – Anyway – don’t worry about the future. You will then continue your studies with all your might, won’t you? ”
“Yes, Mr. Judicial Councilor, I intend to do that – because she also told me about this intention in Oeynhausen.”
“Whichever way you turn first – whether you are still staying in this house, according to a purpose, or whether she has had other wishes – well, we will soon hear everything. – At least one thing today, I’ll be there for you at any time. I know how close you were to her. ”And Eva von Ostried found it incredibly lucky that she had loved this noble, kind woman like a daughter. – –
Four days later old Pauline came to Eva von Ostried with an open letter. Her face showed a helpless and embarrassed expression as she handed her the large bow.
“Please read that through too. I don’t understand it properly. That must mean someone other than me. ”
Eva did her a favor and at the end gave her a friendly nod.
“It’s all right, Pauline. You are rich now! ”
Then the old girl began to cry bitterly. And with tears she burst out:
“I’m so scared. – No, no, Miss – I don’t think so – ”
“I want to read it to you slowly, Pauline. Listen to. Then it sounds more likely. ”
She stood next to Eva von Ostried with her hands folded devoutly.
In the will of the deceased Mrs. Hanna Melchers, widowed district court president, which was opened in accordance with the regulations, the following provision was found, of which we hereby inform you:
“I also determine that my good Pauline Müller, in grateful recognition of her nearly thirty years of faithful service to me until her death, will receive the sum of one hundred and fifty marks a month from my estate. In addition, she should choose the pieces of furniture for two living rooms and all that linen and clothes that she would like to own.
My executor and friend, Counselor Dr. Weissgerber, may the most kindly be present at this election on a day to be determined by him – ”
The old girl still didn’t move. She was very red and her hands were shaking even though she had them tightly together. She slowly resumed the letter. Her eyes searched for a certain line that seemed to her to be the most important. – She spelled heavily while the tears ran down her cheeks:
– My good Pauline Müller –
– Eva von Ostried has been waiting for a similar message ever since. She was amazed that she wasn’t using the same[S. 87]Post had also received the official notification. When the second day came to an uneventful end, she wanted to turn to the Justice Council. But – already ready to go out – she felt something like shame at her impatience. The President had always harshly condemned failure to keep promises. – How could she have doubts, even for a moment? The next day – yes, maybe the coming hour – would make them happy too.
With feverish impatience she devoted herself to tidying up the rooms. Although it seemed pointless to her herself, she cleaned every nook and cranny with an otherwise strange, embarrassing thoroughness and avoided giving space to the thought that seemed to her like madness.
She couldn’t sleep that night. The owl screamed again. – The bird of death, as old Pauline had called it.
But what could be stolen from her that was still alive?
The one, big, last hope on which your life should be based. She no longer tolerated it in bed. She got up and threw open the window. There was still a full moon and a silver glow.
What if the president hadn’t forgiven her for that betrayal in Oeynhausen – if she wanted to wait and see – and waited – until – it was – now – too late?
She sank down by the window and cooled her hot, twitching fingers on the glass of the panes. That brought her to her senses.
– They were fantasies of sleepless hours – without justification. Yes more. – An insult to the best and most caring, who never missed anything decided. –
She went to rest again and slept dreamlessly and gently until Pauline woke her.
“Get up quickly, miss. The Councilor of Justice is there and wants to talk to you. ”
The shrewd face of the old lawyer showed a strange uncertainty when Eva von Ostried stood across from him.
“Don’t be surprised at my early arrival,” he tried to apologize. “I might as well have been with you yesterday at this time. But, it was too incomprehensible for me. I couldn’t and didn’t want to believe it. ”
The fear of the past night stirred up in her again.
“What happened, Mr. Counselor?” He hesitated before answering.
“The will, you know -” He saw her turn pale. That gave him back the security. “I looked at it again the day before yesterday. I had known it for a long time, of course. After discussing it with Madam President, I put it on. But I was expecting an addendum that had not yet been seen in terms of the wording – in the form of a slip of paper or, if you like, a letter. – Because it has not been in the responsible district court for very long. – I didn’t find anything. – In short – you are not thinking about it, Fraulein von Ostried. ”He waited patiently for a while for a reply. She was silent. He had that[S. 89] strong feeling that he must help her with it, without, however, knowing the right means.
“I already indicated to you yesterday what I know from her mouth. That was not a harmless remark alone. At that time she also asked me that I would be at your side if she was no longer able to do so. – What else could she have meant than that I should also advise you on the investment of what she inherited? – My illness – the impossibility to be present at the celebration of your coming of age. – Maybe her trip. – Yes, it could all have come up. And yet I don’t believe in procrastination now either. – I might say something pointless. – I must have seen that some accident – prevented it from being carried out. – I didn’t even consider that yesterday. I was sure,
Eva von Ostried looked up. There was a horrified question that touched his heart.
“And you – finally – found it?” His throat was rusty.
All these thousands and thousands – they got homes and foundations – completely strangers, albeit needy people. And this one – the one she loved, that she had enjoyed – that should go empty-handed?
He pulled himself together. It had to happen.
“No, I didn’t find anything, Miss von Ostried.”
She stood in front of him with her arms hanging limply. Gradually the expression on her face changed and became startled, as if she were seeing a ghost. – It was the time that she was approaching. The joylessness clung heavily to her limbs and made her blooming youth withered and old at an early age. All hope sank with this blow. –
There was a dead straight, sandy path with innumerable sharp stones. She had to go that one because after this there was no one else for her. – It hurt a lot. – But only her blood flowed. Life stayed.
She whimpered and yet knew nothing about it. It touched the old man’s heart. The bright picture of his girlfriend wanted to darken.
“If only I could help her,” he thought grimly.
“In spite of my large income, I only have just as much as I need for myself and my five daughters,” he said in a tone as if he were ashamed of the truth. “You know from our dead. – I give my two widowed daughters all the means to continue their large household – otherwise – ”
All she heard was the last word that regretted not being able to give alms. So she had to stand before him like a beggar. Otherwise he wouldn’t have dared to say that. – Your muscles tensed slowly. Her eyes became as hard as steel. She felt ahead of all the lashes with which everyday life awaited her and reared up against it.
“I have my own property, which the previous guardian had given me through Madam President,” she said[S. 91]haughty. A load slipped from his chest. She heard him breathe a sigh of relief and had to smile because he so readily believed her pride. –
“Thank God – then it’s not as hard as I feared.”
“Not at all. Don’t worry about my future, Mr. Justice Council! ”
“But you will always turn to me if you should need any advice.”
“Very kind of you. Let’s hope that I don’t get into any bad situations – ”Her otherwise melodic voice sounded almost shrill. Her smile was mask-like. He ran the handkerchief over his high, bald forehead. “I would like to negotiate with old Pauline about the things to be chosen by her -”
Pauline was stubborn. She liked only one of all the beautiful, multicolored silk dresses of the President. – And just the most out-of-date and oldest in which she had died.
“Of course I’ll never wear it,” she said, wailing again, “because she cherished it even more than her others -”
– – Eva von Ostried knelt in front of the ancient chest of drawers and gathered up her belongings. Without thinking twice, she threw everything into a large, very new-looking suitcase. The feverish impatience to get out of this house as quickly as possible drove her to hurry.
She did not want to continue accepting a bite of grace or begging for a gift. As she resolved to do so proudly and defiantly, her eyes fell on what was hers.[S. 92]A glowing blush covered her face. What was she playing hide and seek for? Wasn’t all that she possessed created by the goodness of the dead? Hadn’t their tender gifts and loving spying on their most secret wishes brought everything to her? What was left to her if she voluntarily renounced it? – The feeling of her powerlessness in the face of this fact was so strong that she could not go on. Renunciation – struggle and poverty lurked everywhere as welcome prey. After all, what did the paltry thousand marks mother inheritance mean?
She had to laugh. It sounded bright and eerie in this bright, friendly little girl’s room. – The tears came to her eyes. The rest of life had become worthless. – And yet – throw it away because the artist’s hope was denied the golden dream?
Impossible! Youth throbbed in their veins. The very idea of having to die created a fierce defense against it.
The sandy path with the sharp stones would be trodden and – run to an end! – Without the beloved art!
Was that even conceivable? – To serve strange whims every day, to endure pinpricks every hour until all feelings were dead? District Councilor Wullenweber occurred to her. What if she would ask him? – It was madness to even play with that thought. – Ralf Kurtzig, the aging master, couldn’t help her either. She knew from the President that he had made riches but never knew how to store them.[S. 93]And their studies were expensive. – The first teachers were necessary. The further training of the hearing by attending the best concerts remained a requirement. – Good and nutritious food, decent clothing also had to be – – She had seen the money slip under her fingers. – –
She wanted to bury everything! – When she said that the main thing had happened with this resolution, despair and grief seized her so violently that she cried out and threw herself over her grades …
And yet – if only the first step was taken!
She became thoughtful – forgot the work she had begun, tore her hat off the hook and pressed it to her hair. – If she wanted to leave here, a new shelter had to be found. – And she wanted to go. The sooner the better. – She hurried down the wide, quiet street at a run. – Wanted to go to the branch of the newspaper the President had read so far to submit a request for a position – but then immediately forgot this resolution and hurried on thoughtlessly towards the wonderful, shady places where the splendid houses of the happy owners were.
The world was clear, full, and thirstless. The young beech trees seemed to be bleeding on quiet side streets, as if they were happily giving away the sap of their lives. An indescribable longing for someone who could fully understand her in this hour of unfounded despair overwhelmed Eva von Ostried. Nobody knew you!
Her beauty had found ardent admirers at all times. But she still didn’t know herself enough[S. 94] to already know that only her strongly developed vanity felt satisfied by the undisguised glances of passion.
Had it been otherwise, she could not possibly have found Paul Karlsen’s stolen tenderness as an outrageous insult. Her heart had remained completely untouched so far. Her longing for women, however, unconsciously searched – past the loud homage – for the quiet streets that lead to the temple of pure love.
And yet she fiercely resisted the imposition of seeking the crown of a woman’s existence only in marriage to a man.
Suddenly her steps slowed. The head bowed to listen. The hours of excitement took revenge and pretended to sound out of the world that was closed to her from now on. Or did the exultant voice behind her back belong to reality?
Oh, that the soul of yours, my soul,
Dear child, let me see your eyes.
In that white dress, with that halo
Are you an angel from heaven heights.
She wanted to escape Wilhelm’s well-known wooing, fell on, and in the next moment stood still, overcome by the enticing call, as if spellbound.
Two hands grabbed hers, which were cold and weak.
“Little, sweet Mignon, we will finally see you again.”
Paul Karlsen was by her side and she didn’t let him feel her contempt. – Everything was far behind her! Like a confused dream that a child had had and had misinterpreted herself, she thought fleetingly of his kiss.
He had released her hands and walked calmly beside her.
“Where are you going, Fraulein von Ostried?” That sounded entirely correct and brought her a stream of confident hope.
“If I only knew that myself,” she replied softly. He looked at her carefully and moved a little closer to her.
“Are you no longer indulging in your old lady, behind whose chair I had to see you often enough – gritting my teeth?”
Then she told him about the president’s death. He listened carefully to her.
“Thank God – finally given back to art! – It’ll be nice. We will of course stick together from now on. ”
She avoided his pleading look.
“I’m leaving Berlin.”
“Ah!” He said, disappointed, “where to? Berlin offers the best training opportunities. You can’t help but be very good here. I chose it before all other cities. – Is that exactly why? No, I don’t dare say that. – You know, it’s decided now. Don Karlos – Master Heinrich and the revered bloody kings of the same name with ascending numbering are dead and[S. 96]solemnly buried. – The future first heroic tenor in the world stands before you. ”She felt burning envy, was ashamed of the surge and asked hastily:
“How did that become possible?”
“Well -” he said and swiped his fingers carelessly through the air, “an inexhaustible gold vein has finally been found.”
Little did she suspect that envy still leapt from her wonderful, passionate eyes. It did not escape him. He played his role excellently – held tight, even if he found it even more enchanting than back then in Oeynhausen.
“And you – how far have you come? – You didn’t lack much more to artistic maturity! ”
Her hand clenched in impotent anger. Least of all should have suspected anything of their suddenly shattered hopes. She was ashamed of her poverty.
“I? – Well, something will be found for me soon enough. I just can’t come to a firm decision for the time being. ”
He looked at her secretly and noticed a bitter strange train that had certainly not been there a few months ago. It suddenly appeared to him like a cup made of fine crystal that reveals everything. She also played him a comedy. But, she didn’t play it believably enough. Something must definitely have happened to her that had humiliated her. Her pride, which at first inflamed him before he found him uncomfortable and ultimately ridiculous, was at that moment spurious. But he wanted to torture her a little.
“You must promise me that in the first place in your work you will remember me with warm intercession,” he pleaded with boyish freshness, holding out his right hand. “Go ahead, Fraulein von Ostried.”
It sounded respectful and friendly. The tone did her good. Her honesty, however, did not suffer any further game of hide-and-seek. Her heart, which had just wanted to calm down, began to pound furiously again. Her eyes filled with tears, however much she might struggle against them. He noticed that with stormy joy. Very delicately he took hold of her hands again:
“You can trust me. Really – God – who didn’t do anything stupid – your beauty had simply made me headless – no – it was probably more the limitless admiration of your wonderful talent. Forgive me, Eva. Do you see in me a friend and brother – ”
Then she told him everything!
He didn’t regret her when it came to an end, despite the fact that he called her “poor little bitch”. It was rather a mischievous laugh from the words, because he wanted to spoil the sad coincidence.
“It’s really not worth hanging your head! Why else would I have run into you today? – Did you seriously consider renouncing music for just a moment? Yes, don’t you know that by doing this you committed the greatest sin. – And – you mustn’t sin! – Christ, lass, what kind of gold you have in your throat. Every cunning businessman will pump you as much as you want. ”
She had to smile, infected by his ravishing confidence.
“My old patrons and teachers suffer from the same evil as I do myself,” she said bitterly, thinking primarily of Ralf Kurtzig.
“And the young ones,” he asked, searching her gaze. She did not want to be sensitive and yet could not prevent a glowing blush from covering her face. He looked at them with the eyes of the artist, who takes delight in every successful creation. – When she threw her head back with the movement of aloofness that was only too well known to him, she – as once – stimulated his manly feelings. The desire to press her proud, slender figure against her – to cover her red, alluring mouth with glowing kisses, demanded its fulfillment just as impetuously as after the interplay.
Only that today he overcame himself and did nothing to destroy the delicate germ of her young trust. He went on speaking as if he hadn’t expected an answer from her:
“I just wanted to torture you a little – to show you that at the moment you are unable to do anything on your own.” She became uncertain.
“You contradict each other.”
“Because I was just talking about smart business people? I’ll keep that up! – You are waiting for you in every corner, so to speak, my lady. All that matters is that you secure the right one. The choice must be handled carefully. At the same time as this honorable one, a hundred traps lurk in which your un[S. 99]Experience goes straight into it when you lack the cool advisor. ”
She sighed because she had to believe him.
“I could turn to the late president’s legal advisor. He offered me his help. ”
“A lawyer, no matter how capable, understands none of these things. – There are proposals and finally deals against which no paragraph can grow. ”
“That reinforces my need to renounce.”
“Look at you! So so much do you despise me and my friendship? ”
“You really wanted to help me?”
“Do you finally notice that? I already have a plan. We get on the next electric train and drive to – well – let’s call him Mr. Freundlich, if you like! To a certain extent, the man is agreeable and also almost honest, if one has known his tricks for as long and exactly as I have. – In any case, he helped me touchingly years ago. Of course, ”and his face took on a contrite expression,“ I still hang with him a little out of sheer forgetfulness. Really only because of that. My gold vein could have satisfied him long ago. – So – do you want? ”
She still hesitated. Hope was already shining through the brief hesitation.
“He doesn’t know me, does he?”
“That’s why I vouch for you! He knows me and knows exactly what I can and will still achieve. – Watch out, we can do it with ease. A few[S. 100] He will undoubtedly grant a thousand marks under perfectly acceptable conditions. ”
She followed him helplessly as he turned down a side street and crossed to a bus stop.
They sat side by side on the damaged cloth of the narrow bench and were silent. The hope that Eva von Ostried thought she had coffed up for all time sprouted green germs. – –
Herr Freundlich lived in a gloomy, somewhat damp cellar and was very unfriendly. Above his sharply curved nose, two small piercing eyes peered into Karlsen’s beautiful, reckless face.
“How will I not recognize you again, Mr. Karlsen,” he interrupted sullenly, “you are still on the books with eighty marks and fifty pfennigs.”
“You’re wrong, dearest friend, it can’t possibly be more than thirty marks.”
“Don’t start acting again. I tell you that there are even ninety, as it occurs to me. ”
“Nice. You should be right. Otherwise it will soon have grown to a hundred. More on this later. – I don’t want anything for myself today. I’m bringing you Fräulein von Ostried, who has sung the mignon in Oeynhausen with unprecedented success. – Your voice holds entire fields of gold. ”
The shrewd eyes, appraising the value of her beauty, now slid over Eva von Ostried’s figure and face. She felt these looks with physical pain.
“How much is it?” He asked slowly and carefully.
“Five thousand marks would be enough for the time being.”
“And the security?”
“I give you! In addition, the lady undertakes in writing to make regular payments in installments after the conclusion of her first contract. ”
Mr. Freundlich gave a short, dry laugh.
“A nice security! Are you trying to fool me? ”
Eva began to tremble. The shame that she accepted Paul Karlsen’s proposal grew so strong that she strove for the door to part without a greeting. – Then the thin hand of the moneylender stretched out towards her.
“Not so hot, miss. Otherwise I like you. – And I could help you! ”
At that moment Eva von Ostried looked over to Paul Karlsen for help. She became insecure.
“But first we have to communicate with each other in good German,” he continued. “It should be the opera, of course. We know it. – It’s going to do something else too. In short: I can think of something suitable for you. The voice is not particularly important. But clothes and frills are a must. What else is required is available to you. – You go to the vaudeville show, miss! ”
Eva von Ostried threw open the lower door and fled up the unclean steps that had been worn and into the street.
Without looking back at Paul Karlsen, she ran on.
“You mustn’t be angry with me, I meant well,” his voice begged humbly. She stared straight ahead[S. 102] so that he shouldn’t notice the tears of her shame and despair.
“Now you will no longer be able to trust me,” he complained. “And I just wanted to try this so that you – the other – shouldn’t find it difficult.” Now she turned her face to him.
“Which other? Do you really still believe after this that I agreed to a second attempt? ”
“I believe nothing. But I know. It is no longer an attempt. – All you have to do is say “yes”. Then everything is fine. ”
“I wish I hadn’t met you,” she said harshly.
“Tomorrow you will think differently.”
“Tomorrow I may have left Berlin.”
“No,” he said and his lips narrowed with excitement, “tomorrow we will both laugh at the future – like exuberant children. Bet? ”She pretended not to hear the last one.
“I have to finish packing my things. Good luck for the future.”
He was holding your hand.
“Miss von Ostried – I am your future! Don’t you feel that? – It’s not boasting. It’s simple, unvarnished truth. – You will be punctually this evening at nine o’clock in front of the garden gate of the villa, which is located at 14 Karlsbaderstraße. ”
“I will not come. You can rely on it. ”
“Let’s not argue. I am waiting for you. So, no fear. Someone will be found there who will give you no promissory note[S. 103]and other promises made all the means you need. – It’s not a joke. Look at me. ”
She shook her head without looking up.
“Leave me. I do not want to any more.”
“I like to be reckless and wasteful – lazy and even not always reliable because of me. I have never broken a promise made to colleagues. – Listen. My word of honor that you will not come in vain. That you are leaving the house referred to as one who has returned to her art for all time. ”
She didn’t answer him. She just tore her hand forcibly from his and continued on her way alone.
He made no attempt to follow her.
But as long as the clear distance showed a shadow of her black dress, he looked after her with a smile of triumph.