Man Into Woman (American Edition)

[Copyright Facsimile Image]

               EINAR WEGENER (ANDREAS SPARRE) ABOUT 1920 Frontispiece

[Title Page Facsimile Image]


An Authentic Record of a Change of Sex

The true story of the miraculous transformation of the Danish painter Einar Wegener (Andreas Sparre)


Translated from the German by H. J. STENNING

Introduction by NORMAN HAIRE, Ch.M., M.B.

With 18 Illustrations



Man Into Woman, Copyright, 1933, By E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc.:: All Rights Reserved: Printed in U.S.A.

[List of Illustrations Facsimile Image]

List of Illustrations

Einar Wegener (Andreas Sparre) about 1920 Frontispiece Facing page

Lili, Paris, 1926 - - - - - - 40

Lili and her friend Claude, Beaugency, France, 1928 (before the operation) - 64

French landscape by Einar Wegener, 1929 - 72

Einar Wegener, 1929 - - - - - - 80

Einar Wegener as Lili, Paris, January 1930 96

Einar Wegener's pictures at Copenhagen Exhibition, 1930, in lifetime of Lili Elbe 104

Lili Elbe, Dresden, May 1930, between second and third operations - - - - 112

Lili Elbe, Dresden, June 1930, after the operation - - - - - - 128

Portrait by Gerda Wegener., with Lili as model - - - - - - - 136

In the Women's Clinic, Dresden, 1930 - 152

Lili Elbe, Copenhagen, October 1930 - - 176

Lili Elbe, Copenhagen, February 1931 - 208

Portrait of three women (Lili in centre) by Gerda Wegener - - - - - 224

Lili Elbe, Dresden, 1931, after the operation 240

Grave of Lili Elbe - - - - - 276

Fragment of letter written by Einar Wegener, January 1930 - - - - - 280

Fragment of letter written by Lili Elbe, June 1931 - - - - - - - 280

Page v


To the reader unfamiliar with the unhappy byways of sexual pathology, the story told in this book must seem incredibly fantastic. Incredible as it may seem, it is true. Or, rather, the facts are true, though I think there is room for differences of opinion about the interpretation of the facts.

There would seem to be no doubt about the following points. A well-known Danish painter, whose identity is shrouded in this book under the name of Andreas Sparre, was born in the 'eighties of the last century. At about the age of twenty he married, and was sufficiently normal both psychologically and physically to be able to fulfil his functions as a husband. Some years later a purely fortuitous happening led him to dress up as a woman, and the disguise was so successful that he followed it by dressing up as a woman on several occasions, on each of which those who were in the secret were surprised at his apparent femininity. In fun, one of his friends dubbed him, when disguised as a woman, Lili. Gradually he began to feel a change taking place in himself. He began to feel that "Lili" was a real individual, who shared the same body as his male self— Andreas. The second personality, Lili, became more and more important, and Andreas became convinced that he was a sort of twin being, part male and part
[Page vi]
female in the one body. He began to suffer from disturbances every month in the shape of bleedings from the nose and elsewhere, which he came to regard as representative of menstruation, and he sought the help of many doctors, who, however, were unable to relieve him.

He began to study books on sexual pathology and gradually came to the conclusion that although his external organs were those of a male, and quite normal (though perhaps rather undeveloped), yet his body contained in it the internal sexual organs of a female in addition.

Some of the doctors to whom he went thought him neurotic, some thought him homosexual; but he himself denied the truth of both these diagnoses. One doctor treated him with X-rays, and later on Andreas attributed the shrunken state of the female sexual organs which were found in his abdomen to the destructive effect of this X-ray treatment.

Gradually the female personality, Lili, took on such importance that Andreas felt that, unless in some way his male self could be made to give place to Lili, he could not go on living. By this time he was in his forties, and his failure to find any doctor who could help him to realize his desire to become a woman led him to the project of suicide if nothing should happen within the next year.

Just as things seemed at their worst he met a famous German doctor from Dresden , who agreed that Andreas was probably an intermediate sexual type, furnished, by some sport of nature, with both male and female gonads. He explained that
[Page vii]
there were probably rudimentary ovaries in Andreas' abdomen, but that these were unable to develop properly because of the inhibiting influence of the testicles which Andreas also possessed.

He proposed that Andreas should go to Berlin, where certain investigations were to be undertaken. If these investigations confirmed his suppositions he promised to remove Andreas' male organs and transplant into him ovaries from a young woman, which would, as the work of the Steinach school had shown, activate the rudimentary ovaries lying dormant in Andreas' abdomen.

Andreas went to Berlin. The investigations confirmed the German doctor's theory, and Andreas embarked on a series of operations. The first one was castration. His testicles were removed. A few months later he went to Dresden, where his penis was also removed, his abdomen was opened, and the presence of rudimentary ovaries was established, and at the same time ovarian tissue from a healthy young woman of twenty-six was transplanted into him. A little later he underwent another operation, the nature of which is not explained, though it had something to do with the insertion of a canula.

By this time he felt himself to be entirely a woman. The Danish authorities issued him a new passport as a female in the name of Lili Elbe, and the King of Denmark declared his marriage null and void. With his consent, and indeed at his suggestion, his former wife married a mutual friend of theirs in Rome.

A French painter, who had been a friend of
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Andreas and his wife for many years, now fell in love with Lili, and proposed marriage to her.

Before consenting to the marriage Lili made another journey to the German surgeon at Dresden to tell him that she had received the offer of marriage and to ask him if he could carry out yet another operation on her to enable her to function completely as a woman, to take the female part in intercourse, and to become a mother. An operation for this purpose was carried out; but shortly afterwards Lili died in Dresden of heart trouble.

There seems to be no question that the above statements are true. The case was kept secret at first, but through a friend's indiscretion the secret leaked out, and the case was reported in the German and Danish newspapers and caused a great sensation in the year 1931, some time before Lili's death.

. . . . .

The story of this strange case has been written by Niels Hoyer, partly from his own knowledge, partly from material dictated by Lili herself, partly from Lili's diaries, and partly from letters written by Lili and other persons concerned. The biographer states that the surgeon who performed the operation has passed his account of the case as correct.

. . . . .

The case falls within the domain of sexual pathology, and comes within the category of sexual intermediacy. We are accustomed to classify individuals as male or female, the classification
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being made at birth by inspection of the external genital organs. But modern sexology has pointed out the inadequacy of this rough and ready classification. It must be remembered that in the early embryo it is impossible, even by the most careful examination, to determine the sex. Gradually a little eminence grows up which forms the rudiments of the sexual organs. At first the rudiments of the organs of both sexes develop, but later only one set continues developing, while the other set remains very rudimentary. If development proceeds normally, the individual differentiates sufficiently to be classified for all practical purposes as a male or as a female. But even in the most normal and unambiguous individual, the rudiments of the organs of the other sex are present throughout life. Thus the male possesses a rudimentary uterus and the female a rudimentary penis. So far, we have been speaking of the primary sexual organs, or genital organs.

But there are a number of other, or secondary sexual characters (breasts, width of pelvis, hair, etc.) which differ in the two sexes, and individuals who are classified as male may have secondary sexual characters of a female type and vice versa. When carefully investigated even the apparently most normal male may be found to have certain physical sex characters approximating to the female type, and the apparently most normal female to have sex characters approximating to the male type. One is led to the conclusion that the hundred-per-cent male and the hundred-per-cent female are theoretical types which do not exist in reality.

So far we have dealt only with the physical
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sexual characters, but there are psychological sexual characters which differ as between the sexes, too. Sometimes the presence of marked physical characteristics of the opposite sex is not accompanied by any noticeable psychological intermediacy, or by any change in the direction of sexual desire, i.e., by any trace of homosexual feeling. In other cases some degree of homosexual feeling is present and in yet other cases the sexual intermediacy is marked much more psychologically than it is physically. For a full discussion of this subject the reader is referred to Professor Gregorio Marañon's book, The Evolution of Sex and Intersexual Conditions, which is available in an English translation.

Cases occur, though rarely, where an individual possesses the genital organs of one sex, and in addition more or less complete genital organs belonging to the other sex as well. Such anomalies are known as hermaphrodites, though in human beings the hermaphrodism always seems to be incomplete. There is a small number of curious cases of this sort recorded in sexological literature, though no other case, so far as I know, has been so extreme, or so well recorded, as the case of Andreas Sparre.

Thus, when I was a medical student in Sydney, Australia, about the year 1912, a man was admitted to the wards of my hospital suffering from regularly recurring hæmorrhages, which were thought to be due to kidney disease. Investigation showed that although his external genital organs were normal, and he was married and able to perform the sexual act as a male, his body contained ovaries.

Page xi

In Berlin in 1923, I saw, at the clinic of a colleague, an individual who was apparently male, but who felt himself to be a female just as Andreas did. This patient, too, had his male organs removed at his own request, and was given injections of ovarian extract. No operation was ever undertaken to determine whether ovaries were present in his body or not. I saw him—or her—again in 1926, after the removal of the male organs, and quite recently I received a report about the case. The individual is very unhappy, and has not succeeded in becoming completely a woman.

Professor Steinach, of Vienna, has for some decades been carrying on a series of investigations into sexual physiology, and has had considerable success in changing males into females and females into males among lower animals, such as rats and guinea-pigs. He has even been successful in enabling a formerly male rat to develop breast glands which function to the extent of producing milk to nourish the litter of another rat; but up to the present he has not succeeded in completing the transformation so that a former male could become pregnant and give birth to a litter.

Among birds, there are a number of cases on record where hens, which have laid eggs and produced many chickens, have gradually changed their plumage, begun to crow, and developed into cocks, and as cocks have fertilized other hens.

But in human beings, although mild grades of sexual intermediacy are by no means rare, cases like that of Andreas Sparre arise but seldom; and I cannot help thinking that until we know more about sexual physiology it is unwise to
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carry out, even at the patient's own request, such operations as were performed in this case. It would, I think, have been better to try the effect of psychological treatment. Andreas Sparre might either have been cured, or at least enabled to adapt himself to life. By proper psychological treatment the duplication of personality might have been resolved and he might have been enabled to lead a reasonably happy life instead of embarking on a series of painful and dangerous operations which ended only with his death.

There seems to be no need to disclose the real names of the persons mentioned in this book, except to say that Andreas Sparre was the well-known Danish painter Einar Wegener.

127 Harley Street,

London, W.I. Norman Haire

Page xiii



In accordance with Lili Elbe's last wishes, I have arranged the papers she left behind in the form of this book. It is a veracious life story, recorded by a person whose earthly course assumed the shape of an unparalleled and incredible tragedy of fate, the life story of a person whose afflictions were outside the range of our ordinary ideas.


The German doctor whose bold operations enabled the mortally ill and despairing Danish painter Einar Wegener (Andreas Sparre) to go on living in complete harmony with the dictates of his nature has approved the book in its German version. At Lili Elbe's desire, fictitious names have been employed for the persons who figure in her narrative.


She has retained her own name, chosen out of gratitude to the German city in which she fulfilled her human destiny.


The German edition of this book was preceded by a Danish edition, and arrangements are being made for editions of the book to appear in other languages.


Lili Elbe's book must be dedicated in gratitude to her great helper in Dresden , her life comrade in the sunny south, and her truest friend in Paris .


Niels Hoyer


Page 15

The scene is Paris in the Quartier Saint Germain. The time a February evening in 1930. In a quiet street which harbours a stately palace there is a small restaurant, whose regular customers are foreigners, and mostly artists.


Among them this evening were Andreas and Grete Sparre, two Danish painters, and their Italian friend Ernesto Rossini, with his elegant French wife Elena. The friends had not seen each other for a whole year. One couple had been travelling in the North, the other in the South of Europe.


"Skaal!" cried Andreas, in the good old Nordic way, and raised his glass. "This wine, children, is for the soul what alpine sun is for the body. And this reminds me of a glorious legend of the cathedral of Seville, which Grete and I were admiring a short time ago. Under the plinth of the highest column they have immured a sunbeam—that is the whole legend."


"Splendid!" cried Ernesto, with enthusiasm.


"Heavenly, Andreas!" chimed in Elena, warmly pressing his hand.


And Grete smiled happily and thoughtfully.

Page 16

Grete and Ernesto exchanged a multitude of travel impressions—wanderings through museums and disreputable alleys in Cadiz and Antwerp, voyages of discovery through bazaars in the Balkans and in marine stores in The Hague and Amsterdam. Each tried to outdo the other. Thus Grete; thus Ernesto—completely absorbed in their subject, their keen eyes alight with the enthusiasm of the artist.


Meanwhile, Andreas was leaning attentive, while Elena was whispering in his ear the latest amusing, and even scandalous, anecdotes from Rome and Madrid.


"You are not drinking too much, Andreas?" suddenly inquired Elena, pausing in the midst of one of the "latest" incredible stories, only to be related in a whisper. . . . She had noticed the growing nervous excitement of her companion. "You want to be fit and well to-night."


Ernesto and Grete caught up Elena's words. Grete gazed mutely at Andreas. Ernesto took his friend's hand. "Is Lili causing you trouble again?" he inquired, full of solicitude.


"You've said it, Ernesto," replied Andreas very seriously. "This condition is gradually becoming intolerable. Lili is no longer content to share her existence with me. She wants to have an existence of her own. I don't know whether you understand me. . . . I—I'm no longer any use. Cannot do anything more. I'm finished. Lili has known this for a long time. That's how matters stand. And consequently she rebels more vigorously every day. What shall I do with myself? The question may sound strange, though only fools
[Page 17]
think they are indispensable, irreplaceable. But not another word of this. Let us drink! Let us drink a fiery, sweet Asti, to please Elena!"


"Bravo!" cried Elena, not taking her eyes off Andreas, who then rose wearily and made for the bar.


"Tell me quickly," whispered Elena, looking towards her friend, "how is your husband? I don't like his looks."


Grete had lost her smile. "He has never been worse."


Ernesto and Elena gazed silently at their friend.


"I have almost given up all hope of saving him," said Grete very softly, "unless a miracle—"


Elena interrupted her sharply. "Look here, you're talking of a miracle." Grete regarded her friend inquiringly. "Well, listen. A very good friend of ours is now in Paris. He comes from Dresden. He is a woman's doctor. He rang us up early to-day, shortly after we had spoken to Andreas on the telephone. And then I thought at once: 'If anybody can help Andreas, it is this doctor from Dresden .' And the matter is urgent, as the doctor must return to Germany to-morrow afternoon. I will make an appointment with him this evening."


Grete made a listless movement with her hand. "Dearest Elena, it is useless. Andreas won't see any more doctors."


Elena seized both Grete's hands.


"Grete, dearest, now you must not contradict; this time you must obey, and I will call on the Professor this very evening. I know the Professor will be able to help him."

Page 18

Grete slowly lit a cigarette. She blew away clouds of blue smoke and stared into the haze.


Then she said slowly, without excitement, and distinctly.


"Good, Elena; go and see your German Professor, and I will persuade Andreas to call upon you early in the morning."


Andreas returned at this moment, holding up two bottles of Asti as if they were booty.

. . . . .


When Grete and Andreas were strolling at a later hour along the avenue near which their studio dwelling was situated, she avowed at first cautiously, but afterwards with energy, what she had arranged with Elena. Andreas was beside himself. He stood still in the middle of the road. He would not be examined either by a German or by a French, or by an Indian mountebank. He was through with these bloodsuckers.


He had been ill for many years. Innumerable doctors and specialists had examined him—without result. Now he was utterly tired. Life had become a torment to him.


Nobody understood what was wrong with him. But his sufferings were of the strangest kind. A specialist in Versailles had without further ado declared him to be an hysterical subject; apart from this he was a perfectly normal man, who had only to behave reasonably like a man to become perfectly well again; all that the patient lacked was the conviction that he was perfectly healthy and normal.


A young doctor, likewise in Versailles, had
[Page 19]
indeed pronounced that "everything was not as it should be" . . . but he had dismissed Andreas with the following reassuring words: "Don't distress yourself about your physical state. You are so healthy and unimpaired that you could stand anything."


A radiologist had been very active, but he had nearly killed Andreas.


The diagnosis of a medical personage from Vienna , a man of somewhat mystical temperament and a friend of Steinach, pointed in the right direction. "Only a bold and daring doctor can help you," this man had declared; "but where will you find such a doctor to-day?"


Thereupon Andreas had taken heart and approached three surgeons.


The first had declared that he had never in all his life performed "beautifying operations"; the second examined exclusively the blind-gut; and the third declared Andreas to be "perfectly crazy".


Most people would probably have agreed with this third specialist: for Andreas believed that in reality he was not a man, but a woman.


And he had grown tired of it all, and sworn to himself that he would not visit any more doctors. He had made up his mind to end his existence. The first of May was to be the fatal day. Spring is a dangerous time for people who are sick and tired.


He had thought over everything, even the mode of his departure. It was to be, to some extent, a polite obeisance to Nature. Now it was February. March and April would be waiting months. A reprieve . . . he felt calm.

Page 20

The only thing which tormented him, which pained him unspeakably, was the thought of his wife—the loyal friend and companion of his life.


Grete Sparre was an artist of great talent. Her pictures made an exciting and tingling impression, like a vapour from the jungles of Paris.


Perhaps because their marriage had been, above all, a comradeship almost from the beginning, they both found life pleasant and worth while only when they were together.


They were hardly adult and were still attending the Copenhagen academy of art when they had married. A few days before the wedding Andreas had sold his very first picture at his very first exhibition. They had lived mostly abroad, chiefly in Paris, and this life abroad had contributed to strengthen the tie which bound them.


It was therefore inevitable that Andreas frequently had moments when it seemed as if he were behaving like a traitor towards Grete. He had been forced to recognize that he could work no longer, and he was apprehensive of becoming a burden on Grete. This thought had been worrying him for months, poisoning the fount of his enjoyment.


Grete was aware of his thoughts. Yet she suspected that whatever she proposed to offer in the way of new hope would prove futile. There were so many things that bound them together, so many struggles, so many memories, bright and dark, and, perhaps most of all, Lili. For Andreas was, in fact, two beings: a man, Andreas, and a girl, Lili. They might even be called twins who had both taken possession of one body at the same time.

Page 21

In character they were entirely different.


Gradually Lili had gained such predominance over Andreas that she could still be traced in him, even after she had retired, but never the reverse. Whereas he felt tired and seemed to welcome death, Lili was joyous and in the freshness of youth.


She had become Grete's favourite model. Lili wandered through her best works.


Grete felt herself to be the protectress of this carefree and helpless Lili. And Andreas felt himself to be the protector of both. His ultimate hope was to die in order that Lili might awaken to a new life.

Page 22



The next morning Grete spoke affectionately to him, pointing out lightly that he must call upon Elena if for no other reason than as an act of courtesy. When there he could always find an excuse if he could not bring himself to visit her German Professor.


An hour later he was on his way to Passy, where Elena lived: punctually at twelve o'clock her car stopped in front of the house where the German doctor was staying. While Elena was pulling the bell, Andreas whispered: "Perhaps it will turn out quite interesting to see your German celebrity face to face, as he belongs to a race in whom interest in scientific investigation is so strongly pronounced that this interest—"


"For heaven's sake," interrupted Elena, "don't start delivering a lecture on the doorstep."


Andreas seized his friend's hand. "Elena, I only mean . . . I only hope . . . How shall I express it?"


Elena looked very seriously at her friend, who was pale with excitement. "Go on, Andreas."


And then he blurted out: ". . . That he will not regard me merely as a sorry renegade . . . because . . . I would rather be a woman than a man."


"No, Andreas, I will answer for that."


Footsteps were heard inside the house.


The door was opened and a servant received
[Page 23]
them; but before he had found time to announce them a tall, thin gentleman advanced to meet them. A dark-blue sakkoanzug *See note. emphasized the austere elegance of his appearance in an almost military manner. His hair, which was brushed in a smooth mass across his high forehead, was dark, while his small moustache, trimmed in American style, was of a light fair colour.


When Andreas later on tried to recall these features to memory his mind was a mere blank every time. From those blue, deep-set eyes, which were bright and dark at the same time, radiated a strange, captivating charm.


It was Werner Kreutz.


Andreas felt his heart beat faster. While the Professor was conducting them with a somewhat ceremonious cordiality into the drawing-room, exchanging the while a few words with Elena, it occurred to Andreas for the first time in his life that German was a beautiful and musical language.


As in a dream he listened to the conversation between the two, even when Elena was telling the Professor about him and his doleful story, throwing him now and again, as if accidentally, a quick, affectionate glance.


Andreas could think of nothing, and was conscious of nothing but the doctor's voice. It was as if he were laid under a spell, the spell of this voice. It reminded him of the Professor's eyes; it, too, was light and dark at the same time. Both the eyes and the voice penetrated into the innermost recesses of his soul.


And what would this voice have to say to him?
[Page 24]
And these eyes, what would their glance announce to him?


A death sentence? Did he expect anything other than this? Did he expect anything at all? Had he come here for any definite purpose?


The Professor stood in front of him, hardly looked at him, and spoke only a few brief words to him. And Andreas followed the professor into an anteroom, where he was told to undress. "Now I feel like a sleepwalker," thought Andreas in a vague and remote manner. He must obey, without questioning. He wanted to say something, and fumbled for German words.


"You need not give me any explanations, sir," the Professor interrupted him considerately.


"It hurts here, doesn't it, and there, and likewise there, doesn't it?" And his hand slowly glided over Andreas' body. All that Andreas needed to do was to nod quickly and shyly. An almost terrifying astonishment gripped him. How did this strange man know where his pains were located?


And this astonishment grew into amazement when the Professor, to whom Elena had handed a bundle of photographs of Lili, took the portraits out of the envelope and laid them on the table in the order of the years marked on their backs, which the Professor had not observed.


"There we have the development clearly marked," said the Professor bluntly. Andreas did not even nod.


"I hear you have had Röntgen Rays treatment by a radiologist; but unless he previously made chemical or microscopical examinations it is impossible to say whether he exerted an
[Page 25]
unfavourable effect upon the germ glands, and perhaps upon any existing ovaries . . . this must be disclosed by a further examination."


"Ovaries!" Andreas almost shrieked. "Then . . . I . . . have . . ." He could get no further. He could scarcely breathe from excitement. Everything was going round.


"Extremely probable," replied the Professor, imperturbable and positive; yet the sound of his voice seemed slightly muffled, very soft and discreet. Andreas was to be reminded continually of this lightly veiled voice, and not merely Andreas. "For I think you possess both male and female organs, and that neither of them has sufficient room to develop properly. It is fortunate for you that you have such a pronounced feminine feeling. That's why I think I shall be able to help you."


Andreas had to clutch at his heart. He leaned over, in order not to miss a single word that fell from the lips of this amazing man. He stared fixedly at him, expecting to find confirmation of his words in his glance.


"Well, Professor, what am I? . . . What . . . ?"


The Professor rose, paced up and down the room for a while as if to think the matter over, and then turned to Andreas again. And once more Andreas drank in his words.


"Come to me in Germany. I hope I shall be able to give you a new life and a new youth."


These words were uttered with extreme simplicity.


Andreas stood up and struggled for speech.


"Then it will be Lili who survives?"


"Yes," answered Werner Kreutz. "I will operate on you, and give you new and strong ovaries.
[Page 26]
This operation will remove the stoppage in your development which occurred at the age of puberty. But first of all you will have to undergo various treatment of a preliminary nature in Berlin. Then you can come to me in Dresden."


With these words ended the serious and fateful conversation between the strange man and Andreas, who was still sitting a little breathless when the Professor brought Elena into his consulting-room. And she smiled to conceal her emotion.


The doctor stood apart from them thoughtfully, and looked suddenly at Andreas and then at Elena. "May I speak quite openly?" he said, glancing from one to the other.


"Please do," replied Andreas. "I have no secrets from Elena."


"Well, then," began the Professor, "I hear that you are married."


Andreas blushed with embarrassment.


"Your marriage . . . perhaps you can tell me something about it, because, as a doctor, at any rate . . ."


Each of them was conscious of something fantastic at this moment, although the question seemed the most natural thing in the world.


"Perhaps I had better go," suggested Elena, full of solicitude for her friend.


Andreas caught hold of her. "No, Elena, no, don't go."


The Professor came to the assistance of both. His smile worked at this moment like a deliverance. "What is the attitude, for instance, of—I thought I heard the name Lili just now—well, of Lili, towards men? I mean, do men interest Lili?"

Page 27

"Yes, indeed," laughed Elena; "it is positively incredible what an attraction Lili has for the other sex."


Andreas attempted to interrupt her. The Professor was now laughing heartily.


"Let the lady go on, please." And Andreas had perforce to listen while she continued: "I have seen it with my own eyes at various carnivals and balls."


The Professor became serious again. "What you have just told me, madam, is all of a piece with the picture I have formed in my own mind. . . . For the rest, the operation which has become necessary, especially as it is the first of its kind, will create a number of remarkable situations, not least, from a legal point of view. But"—and with this he came close to Andreas and took his hand—"I promise you I will not leave Lili in the lurch and that I will assist her with her first independent steps into life."


Andreas looked down at the stranger's hand. He did not know what he ought to do. He looked helplessly around the room, then released the doctor's hand and stretched out both arms to Elena, as if imploring help. She hurried to him and embraced him maternally.


"Elena," he stammered through his tears, "the life which is now coming with which I shall have nothing whatever to do . . . this life, Elena, you have saved. Without you, Elena, I should never have come here."


Werner Kreutz was standing in front of the window, looking silently into the street.


Andreas went towards him, weeping. The Professor took his hands and said quietly: "I understand you. I know how much you have suffered."

Page 28



For hours Grete had been waiting in the little studio for her husband's return.


When at last he entered, he was as pale as death. Grete hurried to him. She led him to the sofa, upon which he collapsed helplessly. Grete remained sitting by him for a long time without saying a word.


When at length Andreas began to speak, she listened to him with closed eyes, and Andreas too spoke with closed eyes. How much of it all was a dream? And how much reality? Did that which was then beginning mean redemption, the redemption? Whither led the way for him, for her, for both?


And Andreas, completely upset by all that he had just experienced, told his story in broken words.


At length he rose to his feet. Without a word he took Grete's hands and led her to the easel in front of the broad window, through which the northern sky was lighting up the room. A large picture was leaning against the easel, upon which three female figures were to be seen. One of the women bore Grete's features, another bore Elena's features, and the third figure bore Andreas' —Lili's features!


"Grete," he then said, "be thankful that you
[Page 29]
have believed in Lili to the last. You know that I have never been able to doubt her. I knew that the day would come. . . . I am so happy."

. . . . .


On the evening of this fateful day Andreas collapsed. His powers of resistance were at an end.


Not until then did he dare to acknowledge to himself how great his torment and despair had been during these last years. Now he could be frank with himself. Now he must be. . . . Yet he badly needed help, but had a friend who would assist him, his brother-in-law, in whom he had confided for years and who knew the secret of Lili. Andreas poured out his heart to his distant relative.




"29th January, 1930.


"Dear Christian,


"You have not heard from me for a long time, because I have been able to tell you nothing good about Lili. From time to time I have been examined by several doctors, but without result. Throughout they prescribed sedative remedies, which left me no better nor wiser than I was before. For I want to know what is happening to me, even if it hurts. After consulting with Grete, Elena took me to one of her personal acquaintances, who received me three hours before he was leaving Paris. Then something happened which sounds almost like a miracle! I had a consultation with the famous surgeon and woman's doctor Professor Werner Kreutz,
[Page 30]
of Dresden. Strangely enough, he resembled you. He examined me a long time, and then declared that my case was so rare that only one similar case had been known up till now. He added that in the condition in which I am at present, I could hardly be regarded as a living creature, because the ray treatment had been a great mistake, especially as it had not been preceded by microscopical examination. Now he fears that this treatment in the dark may have destroyed my organs—male as well as female. Consequently, he wants me to go to Berlin as quickly as possible for the purpose of a microscopical examination.


"Some time afterwards he will operate on me himself. He wants to remove the dead (and formerly imperfect) male organs, and to restore the female organs with new and fresh material. Then it will be Lili who will survive!


"Her weak girl's body will then be able to develop, and she will feel as young as her new and fresh organs. Dear Christian, I am now sitting here and weeping like a child while I am writing you these lines. It seems so like a miracle that I dare not believe it. One thing, however, consoles me—that were it otherwise I must soon die. Grete and I believe we are dreaming, and are fearful of waking. It is too wonderful to think that Lili will be able to live, and that she will be the happiest girl in the world—and that this ghastly nightmare of my life is drawing to an end. This wretched comedy as a man! Without Grete I should have thrown up the sponge long ago. But in these dark days I have
[Page 31]
had a fresh opportunity of seeing what a splendid girl she is . . . she is an angel. Over-exertions, her own sufferings, have left her unscathed. She has contrived to work for two, now that I am no longer worth much. I do what I am able, of course, and have exhibited and sold with success in all the important Salons. But now all this is over. I am no longer fit for anything. I am like a wretched grub which is waiting to become a butterfly. The operation is urgent, and the doctor would like me to proceed to Berlin immediately, as some twenty days must elapse between the first examination and the operation. And I must be in Dresden on the day he is ready to create Lili. He will send me medicine, which I am to take, in order to support the internal organs and thereby keep me alive until then. For practical reasons I begged for some delay, and I told him that I should prefer so to arrange matters as to proceed to Berlin via Copenhagen, as I wanted first to hold an exhibition in Denmark. I would then proceed from Berlin to Dresden at the beginning of April.


"This does not particularly please the doctor; but he understood that I had suggested this for practical reasons.


"Now, I do not know whether it is due to excitement, but my condition has worsened to such an extent that I no longer feel able to make preparations for an exhibition and attend to everything it involves—I realize that I have no time to lose.


"Hence, I want your help.


"Will you lend me the money for the operation and the stay in the nursing-home? I do not know
[Page 32]
how much it will cost. I only know that Elena has so arranged it that the Professor is taking an exceptionally low fee. Out of consideration for Grete I dare not take money from our savings; the less so as our trip to Rome and my illness has cost us so much.


"I—or we—have deposited many pictures with Messrs. Heyman and Haslund, of Copenhagen, and I estimate their value to be between 7,000 and 10,000 kronen. I do not, however, know what the operation will cost, but I estimate it will come to between 4,000 and 5,000 kronen in all. I give you all these pictures in Denmark by way of security in the event of my death—and in any event. If the affair turns out badly, the pictures can be sold, and if it turns out well, we can soon repay you the money. Our earning powers are good, and we have many large orders.


"Tell no one except my sister anything of the contents of this letter, and be good enough to let me know what you decide as quickly as possible, first by telegram and then by letter.


"It is only because I have the feeling that death is on my track that I send you this letter. Up till now I have never incurred debts in any quarter. Warmest greetings to you and the sister from Grete and




Two days later his brother-in-law's answer arrived: a short telegram:


"Don't worry. Whatever you need is at your disposal."

Page 33

Andreas breathed again; he began to summon up new courage.


Werner Kreutz had promised to send him early news, the signal to strike his tent.


One evening he said to Grete: "I often find myself thinking of my old schoolmaster now. He used to tell us the story of the negroes of Saint Croix , who broke out into revolt a day before their emancipation from slavery. Now I understand their feelings. I feel I can wait no longer."


A few days later, on a Monday morning, Elena received a telegram from a friend in Berlin directing Andreas to arrive in Berlin not later than the following Saturday and to stay at a specified hotel, which the Professor frequented during his visits to Berlin. A letter would be awaiting Andreas in the hotel.


Two days later Andreas was on his way to Berlin.


Grete and Elena accompanied him to the train.


Since the arrival of the telegram he had scarcely uttered a word. He seemed like a man living in a dream. Every joy and every sorrow he shut up in his heart. Even at the moment of farewell he scarcely betrayed any excitement. To be alone . . . to get away . . . fleeing towards a new fate . . . fleeing from past and future . . . and—to refrain from thinking until the goal was reached. . . . What goal?

Page 34



The train moved slowly away. Andreas had a seat by the window.


Out of old habit he had lit a cigarette. One after another he smoked. . . . From time to time he mechanically flicked off the ashes.


He was a prey to that complete mental lassitude which so frequently supervenes upon hasty travel preparations the moment the traveller suddenly finds himself alone in the departing train.


Horrible ideas assailed him when he suddenly realized that he had now surrendered himself. He fell into a fever of apprehension.


Suddenly he had a vision of the two beloved faces. Grete . . . Elena . . . and gradually the two faces changed into one. . . .He had only one name for them both: home, and now, it occurred to him, Paris.


He looked out, as if he were seeking them: Paris . . . Elena . . . Grete.


When farewells were being said he had not once leaned but of the window. . . . The Eiffel Tower . . . the mirage in the sky of the towering dome: Sacré Cœur. . . Elena. . . Grete. . . all had vanished for ever.


For ever? Yes, for ever! And he, Andreas Sparre, would never return to Paris.


Perhaps another being. . . . He was unable to pursue the thought to its end.
[Page 35]
Grete . . . Elena . . . Paris. . . . This triad accompanied him, the fugitive. Now he heard it suddenly in the rhythm of the train: fugitive . . . fugitive. . . .


The train raced through northern France.


Across the landscape new townships were springing up out of the ruins. Here and there were vast, strange-looking rectangles with fantastic crops. They were not cornfields: they were fields of crosses, soldiers' cemeteries, plantations of the dead. Cross set close to cross as far as eye could see.


And he thought of Grete. Why had he not allowed her to accompany him? She had implored him to do so. And yet he had forced her to remain behind in Paris . . . and to wait. He pulled himself together, lit a cigarette, and put the thought out of his mind.


The train reached the frontier between France and Belgium. He gazed indifferently out of the window. The last seat in the compartment was now occupied.


Through Belgium the train crawled at a snail's pace. Andreas strolled up and down the dining-car and mixed a cocktail. It was not yet six o'clock. The train stopped at every tiny village. Passengers alighted and entered in a leisurely way, as if they had endless time on their hands.


Then the German frontier was reached, and a new engine imparted new energy to the journey. Slowly the night descended, and soon the train was rushing through the darkness.


Andreas had lingered over his meal in the dining-car and had drunk more wine than usual to deaden his feelings and lull the pain caused him by the
[Page 36]
vibration and rolling of the train. But he must return to his compartment. He could scarcely keep on his feet. At length he sank back in his corner again, clenched his teeth, and closed his eyes. All his bridges were burned. Everything lay behind him. His whole life seemed to him to be something that was past, something that was lost.


He resolved not to think. But his brain gave him no rest. Would it not perhaps be best to abandon this fantastic experiment? For what it was proposed to do to him was only an experiment after all. Would it not have been more rational to live out his life to the end as it was shaped for him, to let this life ebb away from him?


He thought of the letter which he had lately written to Werner Kreutz:


"Yours for life and death, provided Lili survives."


Every particle of masculine pride that dwelt in him stirred and gripped him. "I must reach the goal. I must hold out." He spoke his thoughts half aloud, and several fellow-travellers regarded him inquiringly.


He had to laugh. . . . Not in vain was he a native of Copenhagen, where nothing is ever taken seriously.


"So," said Andreas to himself, "let us write our obituary. It's not a matter to be taken tragically."


And then he began rapidly to compose the sort of notice that would be published, appraising him as artist.


"The painter Andreas Sparre is dead. He died in the train between Paris and Berlin. His
[Page 37]
fellow-travellers thought he had fallen asleep in one of the corner seats of his compartment. The cause of death was probably a heart attack.


"A happy and harmonious artistic life here came to an abrupt close. He was a man in the prime of life. After searching for a long time and experimenting in various ways, he seemed to have found his style. His pictures, which mostly originated in France and Italy, were sometimes bright and bathed in colour, sometimes dark and somewhat sombre, but always charged with sentiment and natural feeling. Two subjects he preferred above all else: Paris, whose embankments, bridges, and towers he succeeded, with no little mastery, in reproducing in their lightly veiled pearl-grey atmosphere, and landscapes under lowering skies, showing in vivid lights the trees and houses in the background. It was especially in pictures of the latter kind, these strong, very masculinely conceived storm pictures, that Andreas Sparre found an outlet for his talent.


"We, who were acquainted with his soft, often effeminate appearance, and his laughing, joyous tones in conversation, noted this with astonishment, and the thought frequently struck us that whatever masculine force resided in him found its outlet in these strong, somewhat wild and wilful pictures.


"He painted very quickly, and thus it happened that he found time to devote himself to many other things beside his art. His knowledge was really comprehensive. Very characteristic was an answer which we once heard from his own lips, in the Trianon, addressed by him to an older
[Page 38]
colleague. The latter had expressed his annoyance at the fact that a young colleague was beginning a picture in what he thought was too systematic a way. 'You must pardon me if I don't share your view,' retorted Andreas Sparre, 'but I do believe that it is impossible to paint a leaf of a rose correctly unless one knows the last thing about the influence of Assyrian bas-relief upon the sculpture of the Greeks.'


"On another occasion he expressed himself in the following way: 'I cannot understand how lightly most of my older colleagues take their art—how easily satisfied they are with their performances. As for me, I calculate I should require a thousand years to become a decent painter.' Thus seriously did Andreas Sparre take his art, at any rate.


"The greater portion of his life he had spent far from his Danish home—in Italy, Holland, Germany, and France. He lived mostly in Paris.


"The reason why he turned his back in early manhood on Copenhagen, although his art was highly appreciated there from the beginning, was because Copenhagen and Denmark did not seem to him to be the right soil for his wife's art. In Copenhagen he had frequently been obliged to hear how much his pictures were preferred to those of his wife. And that was perhaps the worst thing that could be said to him. In Paris, where the contrary was generally the case, he felt at home for this very reason. He felt his wife's successes as his own successes, for his dominant characteristic was chivalry towards his wife, as towards women generally.


"For the rest, his was a complex, enigmatic
[Page 39]
nature. Despite the inevitable influences to which every artist in Paris is exposed, he remained fundamentally a Northern painter, and his art, in its quintessence, had little affinity with Latin, but every affinity with Teutonic influences. His personal outlook was European. He maintained a constant intercourse with French philosophers and writers, with Polish violinists, with Russian architects, and German painters.


"In collaboration with a French friend he wrote a book about Northern sagas, which passed through many editions in Paris. Of this he was not a little proud. And he took pleasure in the fact that through this book he had been the means of opening the eyes of the Latin reading world to the Teutonic world of ideas, an undertaking which in the post-War period (the book appeared in the year 1924) deserves praise as the throwing of an intellectual bridge between the Latin and the Teutonic worlds.


"Without being himself a practised musician, he cherished a deep love of music.


"In recent years his health had not been particularly good. He had frequently complained of pains, but always in a restrained and smiling way, so that even the doctors whom he was eventually obliged to consult were misled as to his real condition or were unable to realize the serious state of his health.


"And now death has so abruptly—and to the deep sorrow of his many friends near and far—terminated this versatile artistic career, which to all of us who have known him must seem like an unfinished romance. . . ."

Page 40

"Full stop," said Andreas to himself. "Full stop." And he thought that, in much the same language as he had just been using, someone else had secretly written down his career in a diary—Grete, his faithful life's companion, as she too thought that he would die suddenly. One night he had found her asleep over her diary. He was careful not to let Grete suspect that he knew of the existence of this diary.


The train had passed Aix long ago. Would they never reach Cologne? he moaned inwardly.


Andreas had not booked a sleeping-berth. He did not care for this modern travelling comfort. To be perched aloft with perfect strangers was repellent to his fastidiousness. An unconquerable aversion forbade him to undress in the presence of other men. He had often been chaffed on this account. Only Grete understood his repugnance.


At last, Cologne! All his fellow travellers left the compartment. "They have sleeping-berths," thought Andreas gleefully. He was left alone.


After a short time the train started again. Andreas lit a fresh cigarette. Would the pain leave him in peace until he reached his destination, Berlin? If he could only sleep just this one night! If he could only banish thought for just this one night!


He took off his coat and laid it under his head, so that he might lie higher, and wrapped himself in his cloak. Before he had felt too hot . . . now he began to shiver. He rose from his seat, drew down the curtains in front of the windows, and switched off the light. Then he laid down again.


The pains racked him afresh. He drew his cloak over his face.


Page 41

Then he fell asleep, and slept for several hours.


"Hanover! . . . Hanover!" the porters were shouting, And then again, a long way off: "Hanover!"


The sound of hammers was heard tapping the wheels, coming nearer and nearer. Doors were flung open and slammed.


A shrill whistle blew and slowly the train moved off again.


Andreas was half leaning, half lying on the seat in a drowsy state. Suddenly he jumped to his feet. The door of his carriage was flung open. The drawn curtains were pushed aside.


A lady was standing in front of the door. Her silhouette was sharply defined against the light in the corridor.


The darkness in his compartment seemed for a moment to intimidate her. But only for a moment. Then she threw a small trunk upon the rack and sank wearily into the nearest empty corner seat, next to the door leading to the corridor.


Andreas switched on the light again.


He suppressed his ill-humour at being thus suddenly jerked out of his solitude. "The train will not stop again until it reaches Berlin," he thought, "and so there is no hope of being alone again." Should he move into the adjoining compartment? Perhaps it was empty. But he immediately rejected the idea. He could not hurt the lady's feelings by appearing discourteous.


He sat up straight in his seat, and observed his companion without her noticing it.


What struck him was the expression of her eyes. She did not seem to be seeing him at all; she did
[Page 42]
not seem to be aware that she was sharing the tiny compartment with a man.


He looked in front of him. He stared at his fingers. But his eyes were soon fixed on her again, and he noted with astonishment that she was weeping.


The tears were starting from her eyes. She must have seen that he was looking at her; but in spite of this she did not make the least attempt to hide her weeping or dry her tears.


She was obviously quite young. Plaits of fair hair framed a smooth, narrow, girlish forehead. Her eyes, dimmed with tears, were bright blue and at other times could sparkle with gaiety. She had removed her gloves. He noticed a plain ring on a finger of her left hand. She was a bride, then.


Profound sympathy stirred in him.


"Mademoiselle . . ." he began.


She did not seem to hear him. Probably he had spoken too softly, or the roar of the train had drowned his words.


Then it occurred to him that he was now in Germany.


"Gnädiges Fräulein . . ." he repeated, almost embarrassed.


She raised her weeping eyes. "What an enchanting bride!" thought Andreas.


"I should like so much to help you," he said. "You seem to be in great trouble. . . ."


He could get no further. She covered her face with her hands and wept as if her heart would break. Then, between her sobs, she handed him a folded newspaper, which she had been hugging the whole time. Only then did Andreas notice it. He
[Page 43]
took the paper, but did not know what to do with it. He rose from his seat and sat beside the weeping girl and stroked her hand. She became calmer.


It appeared that her husband, a well-known musician, had gone to Berlin two days before in order to give a concert in that city. This very evening he had been expected to return. On the way to the station to meet him, she had chanced to buy a newspaper, the newspaper which Andreas was now holding in his hand, and in it she had read . . .


She pointed to the place on the front page and wept again.


Andreas read:


The young pianist XX of Hanover , who gave a successful concert yesterday evening in the XX hall, met with an accident on the way to his hotel, his taxi-cab colliding with a tramcar. He is now lying in hospital with very serious injuries. His condition gives rise to the gravest anxiety.


Andreas was shocked when he read the report. He had offered his help to the unhappy bride. Now he felt like an idle chatterer.


And yet, little as he had ever been able to help himself, in the case of others he had frequently been able to alleviate pain by means of a mystic force which appeared to dwell in him. How often had not Grete and Elena assured him of this?


The young lady's feverish hands were now lying in his. He clasped them tightly for a long time. At first she quivered like a captive bird. Then the quivering grew less and less. He did not utter a word; he merely stroked very softly the limp, girlish hands. She too was silent. He could hear her
[Page 44]
gentle breathing, and then her breathing became more and more regular. Her head sank on his shoulder, and she fell asleep. Now her heart was beating softly against his hand, which he had been obliged to place around her to afford her support.


And he smiled happily at the thought that something of that hidden enigmatic force was still left in him to-day.


More than once he tried to move; but each time his companion trembled like a sick child, whimpering in slumber. He therefore remained sitting in a rigid position. And gradually the roar of the train rocked him lightly to sleep also.


It was not long before he awoke, and the thought of his position forced a smile to his lips.


Here he was now sitting, he, Andreas Sparre, of Copenhagen, whom life had drifted to Paris, and who was now being driven northward by a fantastic destiny, overwhelmed with his own grief and needing help and assistance if ever a person did, and chance had selected just him to give consolation to a perfect stranger, to help her over a dark hour of her existence—perhaps her darkest hour. And here was this little German lady, the wife of an unknown man, lying in his arms. And she and he, each of them, were journeying, guided by by some blind providence, towards their own fates . . . somewhere in Germany.


These were the thoughts that kept running through his mind.


And then a few secret tears splashed down his cheeks, and it suddenly dawned upon him why all this had so happened. This charming creature from Hanover , who was now slumbering
[Page 45]
in his arms like a blissfully confiding child, had been sent him as the last woman towards whom he could act as a protective male—before parting for ever from woman, from the eternal-feminine.


So his thoughts assumed these vague shapes, while on the other side of the window a foggy morning was dawning, and the train was rushing through the sea of houses which constituted Berlin.


He realized that he must awaken his travelling companion.


With a shriek of anguish she started out of her sleep, and gazed at him in utter perplexity. "Oh, he can't be dead!" Her words again dissolved in tears.


"Child," he said, speaking in a soft and confident voice, "child, I do not know your name, and you do not know mine, but please believe me when I say that I know he is alive."


She seized both his hands and covered them with kisses.


"Yes, indeed," he assured her, "make your mind quite easy."


"Oh, I am quite at ease! How you have helped me! I shall never forget what you have done."


A few minutes later she was lost in the crowd of people on the platform. Andreas gazed after her for a long time. The newspaper which she had given him during the night was the only memento which he retained.


A few days later Andreas happened to read in a newspaper that the husband of his unknown travelling companion was on the road to recovery.

Page 46



In the company of a porter Andreas walked the short distance from the station to the hotel.


"How devilish cold it is here in Berlin, although it is the first of March!" he confided in a tone of surprise to the man who was carrying his two trunks. "In Paris it is already spring."


"Yes, in Paris," replied the honest fellow, "in Paris." And this ended the conversation.


Andreas turned up his collar. His teeth were really chattering. He was exhausted after passing an almost sleepless night and plunging into the midst of a strange world. But the unexpected coldness of the temperature kept his senses fully alert.


Suddenly, before he reached the neighbouring hotel, the thought struck him: "These two trunks contain my very last articles of clothing, shirts, collars. . . . How absurd!"


A feeling of defiance welled up in him, as if the man were at bay, the man within him.


In the hotel, where the manager had been advised of his arrival, he was treated with exquisite courtesy. He immediately inquired whether Professor Kreutz, who was in the habit of staying in this hotel almost every week-end, had perchance already arrived. He was disappointed to learn that this was not so, nor had any letter been left for him with the porter.

Page 47

A few minutes later he went to his room. He took a warm bath, and by the time he had breakfasted all his troubles were forgotten.


Elena's woman friend, the sender of the fateful telegram which had prompted his journey to Berlin, soon rang him up.


"Welcome to Berlin," her voice sounded over the telephone. Andreas immediately recognized the voice of Baroness Schildt, whom he had met in Paris on a number of occasions with Grete and their two friends.


"We have everything ready. And so that no time may be lost, some specialists whom Werner Kreutz has been consulting will be getting into touch with you, probably to-day or to-morrow."


Some minutes later, Professor Arns, a doctor whom he had never heard of before, made an appointment with him for twelve o'clock.


And scarcely had this visit been arranged than the telephone rang again. Niels Hvide, an old Copenhagen friend, a lawyer and a poet at the same time, who had been living in Berlin for years, called him up.


"Hullo, Andreas."


"How do you know that—"


"Grete sent me a long telegram yesterday, and early this morning an express letter from her followed. The letter has therefore been racing you. You must come and see us at once. Inger and I will keep the morning coffee hot until you arrive."


An address and directions were hastily written down. A few minutes afterwards Andreas was on his way, and half an hour later he was in his friend's house.

Page 48

A splendid fellow, this Niels—a blond giant from North Jutland, where his family were old landed proprietors.


Inger, his wife, was the type of the modern cultivated woman. Henna-red hair contrasted piquantly with her large blue eyes. Both were globe-trotters. Grete and Andreas had often undertaken long journeys with them together. Intimate as they had all been with one another, however, Niels and his wife had hitherto been unaware of Andreas' secret.


He was received most cordially. They had breakfast and spoke about indifferent subjects as long as Inger was in the room. Then Niels blurted out:


"Grete has told me something which I can't quite understand in this letter which came early this morning. You can, of course, read it."


Andreas retorted. "No; the letter is addressed to you."


On the walls of the room hung a few pictures, painted by Grete and by Andreas. Involuntarily Andreas looked up at them. The first picture, painted by Grete, was—Lili.


"Yes," said Niels delicately, "now I understand a good deal of what used to seem like a fantastic idea about you both—seeing you crop up so often as a female model in Grete's pictures."


A brief silence followed this remark.


"Well, old fellow," resumed Niels, "some hints which Grete let fall about you a year ago in Paris showed me then that your life appeared to be taking a strange turn. Whether the change that is now in store for you is a happy or a disastrous
[Page 49]
one, you can be assured of this—that you have entrusted your fate here to the best and most conscientious hands. Everything now depends upon whether you will have the strength to go through with it. You seem tired. But"—and Niels laughed merrily—"it really is a most extraordinary thing for a man to be faced with the choice of whether he will survive in this world of multiplying sensations as Andreas, or"—and then he pointed to the picture—"as Lili."


Andreas looked hard at his friend. "Faced with the choice, you say. . . . No, I do not think it is a question of that, but of something much more serious, of life or death, in fact; for believe me, the man you are talking to is condemned to death. And now the question is, whether that being there"—and he pointed to the portrait—"can be summoned into existence and take up the battle of life."


Niels now spoke very seriously. "Yes, and what seems to be the most important thing at the moment is that you should be perfectly clear in your own mind how this strange, fantastic change which you have been undergoing from childhood until now—that is, during a normal human life—has been proceeding; in what gradual manner, therefore, Lili has been gaining the upper hand over Andreas."


"That is so," replied Andreas, looking at his watch; "but now I must be off to my first arbiter of life and death, to Professor Arns. And when I have finished with him I must probably go further . . . through the whole round."


"Agreed," laughed Niels jovially; "and when
[Page 50]
you have finished your lesson you will come again to us. And now, neck or nothing!"

. . . . .


Professor Arns, the inventor of a new method of blood-testing, received Andreas in a very considerate manner. He put a series of questions which, although of a delicate nature, were answered by Andreas without the least hesitation.


During the long and elaborate examinations— (the main thing was to determine the vital condition of Lili in Andreas by an analysis of his blood)—Andreas exerted all his will-power to exclude thought. The doctor conducted him from the study into a comfortably furnished room. "If you would like to smoke, please do so," he said. After chatting for a short time about unimportant things, Professor Arns intimated to his patient that he must now submit himself for a special examination by his friend Dr. Hardenfeld, the sexual psychologist. "My colleague Hardenfeld has had so much experience in the more 'emotional' sphere—whatever we may think of this from the scientific standpoint—that I, at any rate, cannot ignore his opinion in what may so specially affect your person. When they have dismissed you there, you will have to go to Dr. Karner, another colleague. He and I, in fact, have to determine the hormone content of your blood, while colleague Hardenfeld has to pronounce a purely psychological opinion upon you and the person in you whom you call Lili. In any case I shall be glad if you will call on me again to-morrow morning. The result of these various 'tests' to which we have to subject you
[Page 51]
will then be forwarded to your protector, Professor Kreutz."


"Your protector." . . . These words made Andreas' heart beat faster, and when, shortly afterwards, he was sitting in a waiting-room of the spacious Institute for Psychiatry, he was obliged to keep repeating these two words to himself—otherwise all his courage would have oozed away. "Why have I been sent here?" he wondered. "What have I to do here?" He felt intensely uncomfortable. In this large room a group of abnormal persons seemed to be holding a meeting—women who appeared to be dressed up as men, and men of whom one could scarcely believe that they were men. The manner in which they were conversing disgusted him; their movements, their voices, the way in which they were attired, produced a feeling of nausea.


At length Dr. Hardenfeld appeared and ushered him into his consulting-room. By means of a thousand penetrating questions, this man explored the patient's emotional life for hours. Andreas had to submit to an inquisition of the most ruthless kind. The shame of shamelessness is something that actually exists, he thought, during these hours, and clung to this definition, which he had once found in some philosophical work, in an effort to banish the feeling he had of standing there as if in the pillory. His emotional life was undergoing an ordeal which resembled running the gauntlet.


And when this torture came at last to an end, the inquisitor dismissed him with the words: "I shall expect you to-morrow morning at the same time."

Page 52

Then it was Dr. Karner's turn. Andreas had by now acquired a sort of routine in answering the questions put to him. This examination took the form of a conversation throughout. Before Andreas was aware of it, he found himself in the midst of a real "masculine conversation", its theme being the political relations between France and Germany. And thus, quite incidentally, the doctor introduced a long, fine syringe into Andreas' arm, in order to take a blood test.


Dr. Karner also dismissed him with the words: "And I will see you again in the morning."


Exhausted by his ordeal, Andreas at length made his way to Niels and Inger Hvide in the evening.


"No," he exclaimed, "don't ask me anything now. I am not fit to answer questions. Let us rather take a good walk through your Babylon on the Spree round the Kurfürstendamm. I must see men, healthy men."


Inger had a previous engagement for the evening; but Niels accepted his friend's proposal with alacrity.


They proceeded first to a Russian restaurant, where they enjoyed a supper of many courses, washed down with several glasses of vodka. Then they sampled German, French, Hungarian, and Spanish wines in bars and cafés of the most various kind. To the surprise of them both, Andreas proved a good tippling comrade this evening.


"Your health, Andreas!" said Niels, who had again remarked his friend's astonishing drinking capacity. "You are really a strange fellow. This evening you are behaving just like a rake—and to-morrow you will perhaps be insisting that henceforth I must treat you like a lady. When I look at you
[Page 53]
I can hardly believe that there is not something wonderful about it all. But perhaps from the very beginning not only have two souls dwelt within your breast in the sense of Goethe, but two beings, two whole beings. . . . I hardly know how to express myself."


Andreas regarded him calmly. "I know what you are trying to get at. It is difficult to make head or tail of this change, difficult for me, but much more difficult for others. And the strangest thing of all, believe me, is that each of the beings within me is healthy and perfectly normal in its emotional life."


"And it is just that which is perhaps the abnormal and incredible thing about your case," declared Neils. "I have known you for years, I mean"—and then he laughed slightly—"as Andreas, for you have been silent about Lili to us friends. And as a man you have always seemed to me unquestionably healthy. I have, indeed, seen with my own eyes that you attract women, and that is the clearest proof that you are a genuine fellow." He paused, and then placed his hand on Andreas' shoulder. "You won't take it amiss if I ask you a frank question?"


Andreas stared at him. "Niels, if you knew what kind of questions I have had to answer to-day you would not behave so solemnly about the matter."


"Well, then, Andreas, have you at any time been interested in your own kind? You know what I mean."


Andreas shook his head calmly. "My word on it, Niels; never in my life. And I can add that
[Page 54]
those kind of creatures have never shown any interest in me."


"Good, Andreas! That's just what I thought."


"I will honestly and plainly confess to you, Niels, that I have always been attracted to women. And to-day as much as ever. A most banal confession!"


Niels raised his glass. "And now we will drink to the future. Let come what may! Go right through with it! If you had lived in the time of the old Greeks, perhaps they would have made you a demi-god. In the Middle Ages they would have burnt you, for miracles were then forbidden. But to-day doctors are, at any rate, permitted to accomplish something like a miracle. Thus we will drink to the day that is coming."


They drank the toast.


Niels accompanied his friend to his hotel. When Andreas found himself alone in his room, his physical and bodily torments overwhelmed him, and he collapsed.

. . . . .


By the next morning Andreas had recovered his equilibrium, outwardly at least.


Punctual to the minute he called on Professor Arns.


"Since I saw you yesterday I have been talking to Professor Kreutz. We are both agreed that a young colleague here, a surgeon of repute, ought to treat you first. When that is over, there will no longer be any obstacle to your reception in the Professor's clinic. That means, it is not you who will be received there."

Page 55

"Not I?"


"Kreutz runs a women's clinic. Your case"— the Professor then laughed a little—"is somewhat unusual, even for us doctors. This means, therefore, that when the surgeon here dismisses you,. you will be no longer Andreas Sparre, but—"




"Just so! Hardenfeld has told me that he too regards the masculine element in you as by far the least considerable part of your being, which, in his opinion from the emotional standpoint, reveals between eighty and one hundred per cent of feminine characteristics. The examination of your blood has yielded a similar result. I will, of course, be present at the operation which we shall perform on you here in Berlin. Before this happens we will take a few photographs of you, for scientific reasons. Dr. Hardenfeld is now expecting you. To-morrow morning, then, you will go into the surgeon's nursing-home." Saying which, Professor Arns gave Andreas the exact address of the nursing-home.

Page 56



Late that evening Andreas was again sitting with Niels and Inger.


After the three of them had finished dinner, during which husband and wife had intentionally avoided putting questions to Andreas as to the outcome of the various medical examinations, Andreas lit a cigarette, rose to his feet, and extinguished all superfluous lights, leaving only a solitary electric candle, suspended in an alcove, to cast a feeble light.


He sat down in a convenient armchair, and without any introduction began in a free and easy style.


"Yesterday evening, Niels, I pondered very deeply over your words."


"Over my words?"


"Yes; as you said, the most important thing at the moment is for me to be perfectly clear in my own mind—I am using your own words—how this strange, fantastic change which I have been undergoing from my childhood onwards has been taking place—"


"And how Lili has gradually gained the upper hand over you," said Niels, finishing the sentence.


"Well, then. I did ponder over this last night; especially as it is by no means unlikely that the present night will be the last night of—"


"Nonsense!" interrupted Inger.

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"Let it pass, Inger," interposed Niels. "I know what Andreas means."


Andreas laughed. "However that may be, Inger, it is my farewell night. And in order that you may perfectly understand this, and supposing that you both have as much patience as I have, I propose relating in detail how all this has happened. . . . I have made a few notes, so as not to lose the thread of my story. Who knows what the morrow will bring—whether I shall be still I, or whether I, obliterated to a certain extent as Andreas, the person who is now sitting in front of you, will start losing all memory of myself, in order to make room for another person."


Niels rose to his feet, paced up and down a few times, and then remained standing in front of Andreas. He too had now become serious.


"I thought it would be something like that. And as you know me to be a level-headed person, who mostly takes things as he finds them—that is, without letting his feelings run away with him— incidentally I have not yet forgotten the shorthand of my student days—I should like to suggest, if I am not hurting your feelings, that you let me take down in shorthand the curriculum vitae which you are about to relate. . ." He broke into a laugh in which Andreas joined and then Inger.


"An excellent opportunity," exclaimed Andreas, amused. "Your reporting will not affect me in any way whatever. On the contrary!"


"Then fire away!" With these words Niels settled himself in an armchair, and produced a pencil and notebook. Inger reclined on the sofa and smoked her cigarette.

Page 58

"I will tell you the story of my life, like an accurate chronicler," began Andreas, "so let it commence with my parents, whom you have both met. If I should grow tedious now and then, or too introspective—"


"I will run my blue pencil through it afterwards, as your Tacitus." Niels completed the sentence.


"Father's ancestors came from Mallorca to Jutland. From him I have my dark eyes. He was not a man of bracing character, but rather effeminate, much concerned with himself and his own comfort. Mother, on the other hand, was a hale woman, with healthy nerves, a Nordic blonde type, perhaps even somewhat hard in her temperament, an efficient housewife and a good mother. She died before Father, quite suddenly. Father was inconsolable. Their marriage had survived many storms. After Mother's death he revered her like a saint.


"She had four children, three sons and one daughter; I being the youngest.


"I was a very happy child. Everybody pampered me, even my brothers and sister. I was a great epicure, and could eat nothing but my favourite dishes. From my father I never heard a harsh word in all my life. Whenever a slap was necessary, it was administered by Mother. For the rest, she vied with Father in spoiling me, as all youngsters are doubtless spoiled. Mother loved to dress me up. I was never clad finely enough for her. Sometimes I was not allowed to romp about with my playmates on account of my 'best clothes', and this was the greatest distress I had to endure.
[Page 59]
As a little chap I had long, fair locks, snow-white skin, and dark eyes, so that strangers often took me for a girl. In a kindergarten, where, as the only boy, I played with eleven girls, I was the cleverest of all the children in knitting and embroidery. As a five-year-old, at the annual prize-giving of our kindergarten I received my first mark of public distinction for fancy-work.


"As an eight-year-old my two brothers often bantered me on account of my 'girl's voice'. I took this very much to heart, and thereafter made great efforts to acquire a proper youthful bass.


"Looking back on things now, it seems as if my childish voice was my first dissimulation.


"In other respects my childhood was nothing but sunshine. With my brothers I played with tin soldiers, with my sister with dolls. No one saw anything strange in the fact that I was fond of pushing my sister's toy perambulator, as many brothers who have sisters do this.


"At nine years of age I went to the same grammar school as my brothers. None of us was a model pupil. My favourite subjects were French and Latin, but I was also one of the most assiduous users of the school library, which gave me a high place in our headmaster's opinion. Nevertheless, I was usually the last but one in the class. The old man himself taught us French. He spoke the language correctly, with an excellent accent. Once during the summer holidays he went to Paris, and afterwards he told us wrathfully that he did not think much of the Parisians, as they neither understood him nor he understood them, ending his anecdote with the words: 'And
[Page 60]
now you know, boys, that I can speak French." He was a droll chap.


"Of a different stamp was my Latin teacher. He was a most enlightened man, who not only taught us Latin grammar, but took great pains to familiarize us with the intellectual atmosphere of antiquity and the art of the ancients. He it was who first opened my eyes to the flawless beauty of Greek sculpture. It was only a vague and remote comprehension. But I can remember as if it were yesterday, when bathing with boys of my own age I would often blush at seeing my own somewhat slim and delicate youthful body reflected in the water beside the sturdy and not particularly well-proportioned youthful bodies of the others. I was really built on much more delicate and flexible lines than were my comrades. Then I would think of the youthful figures of Praxiteles, about which the Latin master had been telling us a few days before. In the art-room we had also a few plaster casts.


"This reminds me of a little scene. At that time a number of girls were attending our school. One of them attended the same classes as I. Once —during the interval—she put her hat on my head for fun. 'Doesn't he look like a proper girl?' she cried, and my comrades laughed with me. Suddenly our Latin master stood in front of us. I was too frightened to take off the girl's hat in time, and before I knew what was happening I had received a sound thrashing. I was then in a perfect rage, and did not realize until many years later why my old teacher had then felt it his duty to punish me. We poor humans . . . what do we
[Page 61]
know about ourselves . . . how much less about our neighbours?


"For the rest I was an ordinary boy. I was in the thick of all fights. Just because I was more delicate than my companions I deliberately displayed special daring. Many bruises were the result of this ambition.


"Incidentally I went on long walks with my sister. And when I knew that no one was likely to see me—as in the wood close to the town—I pushed her doll's pram, which always accompanied us.


"In adolescence my interest in art constantly increased. When I was seventeen I began to read art periodicals and to visit art exhibitions. My father, who, being an old merchant, thought little of an artist's career for me, tried several times to divert my life into a 'practical direction'. Thus he apprenticed me first to a merchant and then to a master painter, without achieving anything except to intensify still more my desire to follow an artistic career.


"At the same time, like every adolescent, I had my 'flame'; indeed, to be honest, I must even speak of 'flames'.


"When my father at length realized that it was hopeless to try to interest me in anything 'practical', I was sent at nineteen years of age to an art academy at Copenhagen . Here a number of good comrades took me under their wing and took care that I very quickly lost my provincial simplicity and embarrassment and that I also lost my innocence in a thoroughly brutal fashion. Then I met Grete.

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"It was love at first sight.


"Grete had just come to the art academy. She too was from the provinces. We immediately became inseparable. We attended all the evening lectures together. The ordinary teaching in the academy was at that time so arranged as to divide the sexes.


"A friend had brought us together.


"When he learned one day that we were engaged, he became perfectly furious with jealousy, not really on account of Grete, but, and this I only learned many years later, on account of me. But even such a symptom as this is really nothing extraordinary. How many friends have not had similar experiences when a woman has come between them! A year after our first meeting Grete and I were married. We were still very young—I barely twenty, Grete two or three years younger. What did we know of life, of people? We were indescribably happy in each other's society.


"I recollect one evening in the first years of our marriage—we were then living in a studio which commanded a wide view over Copenhagen Grete was reading to me a primitive fable out of antiquity. It ran somewhat like this: 'Hermes, the darling of the gods, had a son, and Aphrodite, the divine beauty, a daughter. The two children were perfect models of beauty. Yet they had never seen each other before when one day they confronted each other in the Wood of the Gods. The girl was immediately enamoured of the boy; but the boy fled from her. However fast she ran after him, he ran faster still. In despair the divine
[Page 63]
maiden turned to Zeus and bewailed to him her love torment. "I love him, father, but he has fled from me. He will have nothing to do with me. Oh, father, grant that I become one with him." And Zeus heard the prayer of the divine child, and he raised his arm, and the next moment the shy son of Hermes stood before the Olympian, and Aphrodite's daughter shouted with glee, embraced the trembling youngster—and again Zeus raised his arm—both melted into each other. When Hermes and Aphrodite sought after their children, they found a blissfully smiling divine child. "It is my son!" cried Hermes. "No, it is my daughter!" cried Aphrodite. They were both right.


"'You know,' said Grete to me, 'I love you so much that I should like you and me to be one being.'


"About this time Grete painted the portrait of the then popular actress in Copenhagen, Anna Larsen. One day Anna was unable to attend the appointed sitting. On the telephone she asked Grete, who was somewhat vexed: 'Cannot Andreas pose as a model for the lower part of the picture? His legs and feet are as pretty as mine.'


"Grete laughed. Anna Larsen was aware that once, when Grete was painting a picture of a woman, I had been obliged to come to her assistance with my legs. But it had really only been a question of drapery. 'You really have very pretty woman's legs,' Grete had said to me jokingly.


"While Grete was talking to Anna Larsen on the telephone, I had been busy cleaning my palette. I was smoking a cigarette and scarcely
[Page 64]
listened when Grete informed me of Anna Larsen's proposal. At first I declined rather shortly. Grete chaffed me, abused me, implored me, petted me, and a few minutes later I was standing in the studio in costume and high-heeled shoes. We both laughed as though it were a great joke. And to make the disguise complete, Grete fetched out a carnival wig from the depths of a trunk, a fair, very curly wig, and drew it over my head. Then she attacked me with rouge and powder, while I submitted patiently to everything.


"When all was ready we could scarcely believe our eyes. I turned round and stared at myself in a mirror again and again, trying to recognize myself. Was it really possible, I asked myself, that I could be so good-looking? Grete clapped her hands delightedly. 'The most perfect ladies' model,' she cried again and again. 'You look just as if you had never worn anything but women's clothes in your life.'


"And I cannot deny, strange though it may sound, that I enjoyed myself in this disguise. I liked the feel of soft women's clothing; indeed, I seemed to take them as a matter of course. I felt at home in them from the first moment. Grete began to paint.


"Then a bell rang in the corridor, and a moment later Anna Larsen rustled into the studio. She had managed to find time.


"She looked at me, but did not recognize the strange lady in front of her. She only recognized her own clothes. Then she uttered a cry of delight and embraced me violently.


"'I haven't seen anything so amusing for a long

                            ASSUME THE NAME OF LILI, AND HER FRIEND
                                BEAUGENCY, FRANCE, 1928 (BEFORE THE

[Page 65]
time,' she declared, and applauded my appearance. She peeped at me from every angle. I had to turn about and assume every possible position. Finally she asserted that I was very much prettier as a girl than as a man. I wore ladies' clothes very much better than male costume. 'Yes,' she maintained—and I have never forgotten these words, 'you know, Andreas, you were certainly a girl in a former existence, or else Nature has made a mistake with you this time.'


"She spoke quite slowly, quite deliberately, and it was obvious that she was strangely stirred.


"Grete gave me a hint to take off the clothes, as Anna Larsen could now pose herself.


"I made a movement to retire; but Anna Larsen held me back. 'No,' she cried, 'I simply could not endure to meet Andreas again to-day. We won't even speak of him. Listen, and now I will christen you, my girlie. You shall receive a particularly lovely, musical name. For example, Lili . What do you say to Lili ? Henceforth I will call you Lili. And we must celebrate this! What do you say, Grete?'


"And Grete merely nodded, looked now at Anna, now at the child about to be christened; and then the three of us kept up rejoicings until far into the night—Lili's christening night.


"So Lili came into existence, and the name stuck; nor was it merely a question of the name.


"With an extravagant joke, a genuine accident of the studio, if you like, it started, and for many years we played our game with Lili.


"A few weeks after Lili's christening an artists' ball was held. Grete suggested that Lili should go
[Page 66]
in order to be introduced into the larger world, and she designed a pierrette's costume.


"It was a complete success. Lili was one of the most popular dancers of the evening. An officer paid her special attentions. Eventually he called her out for every dance, and towards midnight he became somewhat obtrusive. Then Lili tried to disclose her secret. It availed her nothing—the officer simply would not believe her! When she managed to escape, she fell out of the frying-pan into the fire. A fresh cavalier caught hold of her, and would not let her go. On the spot he requested permission to kiss her, at least, on the neck. When at length she escaped from his clutches, the pierrette costume bore some trace of the struggle.


"Another remarkable fact came to Lili's notice during this ball—the attitude of the female sex towards her. Several times she had regarded with a friendly smile such ladies as she found attractive. But most of them had returned her confident look with an icy stare. She was perplexed, and at last inquired of Grete whether she had behaved herself badly, whether she looked impossible. Grete said with a smile, 'Our stupid Lili is very young. She does not yet know the malice and mistrust of women towards other women.'


"It was the first time that Lili was conscious of possessing a separate personality. And out of this amusing incident came something like a presentiment. How often have my thoughts wandered back to that far-off evening!


"But this evening yielded another experience, which was no less characteristic.

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"Grete and Lili were preparing to return home. In the search for her cloak Lili ran into the arms of a tall painter who belonged to the academy . He was one of my four studio comrades. For heaven's sake, what could I do to prevent the secret from being discovered? Lili behaved as if she had not seen him. He seized her, squeezed her, and pressed half a dozen kisses on her neck. This time I came to Lili's assistance. A few well-armed blows caught the insolent fellow right on the face . . . . Hauwitz was the man's name.


"When I entered the class in the academy the following day, I found the comrades in the thick of a discussion of the carnival night. Hauwitz was the most enthusiastic of them all. He recounted his experiences in the grand manner.


"'But where were you hiding yesterday?' he attacked me at once. The others, too, asked me why I had not been present, especially as Grete had been there.


"I explained that I had not felt well. Anyhow, I knew that the comrades enjoyed themselves very much, especially Hauwitz, who had courted a pierrette very ardently.


"How did I know that, threw in Hauwitz, flattered: a man could not move, it seemed, without giving rise to gossip; who, then, has been so indiscreet as to betray his little adventure?


"'I know you're a famous heart-breaker,' said I. 'Let's hear all about it.'


"At first Hauwitz refused chivalrously. 'I hope I'm a gentleman. Moreover, the pierrette was really a fabulous person.'


"He simpered and winked at me expectantly.
[Page 68]
The others crowded round him. 'Fire away, Hauwitz,' they encouraged him.


"'No; friend Sparre seems to know all about it. Ask him,' he replied meaningly.


"'But, my dear Hauwitz, please do not misunderstand me. I should be the last to give anyone away,' I retorted, inquiring at the same time: 'Was she really so pretty, then?'


"'You can suppose as much as you like,' broke out Hauwitz. 'You cannot go too far in your suppositions. An unheard of thing!'


"Whereupon he relapsed into silence, which was more eloquent than the coarsest boasting.


"To my intimate friends I afterwards confessed who the pierrette was. Hauwitz was only initiated into the secret much later, after he had found further opportunity to pose as Casanova.


"This ball was followed by others, at which Lili became accustomed to her rôle with growing success. Grete titivated her each time, so that this strange creature who had suddenly emerged in Copenhagen artistic circles began to cause a stir. Lili gradually became indispensable to Grete. For, strange as all this may now sound, it was not I who dressed up as Lili, but both for me and for Grete Lili very soon became a perfectly independent person, in fact, a playmate for Grete, her own playmate and her toy at the same time.


"Lili and I became two beings. If Lili was not there, we spoke of her as of a third person. And when Lili was there—that is, when I was not there—I was spoken of between her and Grete as of a third person. And soon our most intimate
[Page 69]
friends learned all this. But it was still a game for many years.


"In the depths of her soul Grete is utterly melancholy. And to banish such feeling she summoned her playmate Lili. Lili, was, in fact, carelessness and serenity personified. Gradually Lili became equally important to her mistress in the capacity of a model; indeed—I can say it calmly now—Lili has been Grete's favourite model. Whether it was chance or not, Grete had more and more success with pictures for which Lili posed as model. And she began to see in Lili a kind of mascot, a talisman that brought luck. A large number of Grete's pictures and drawings originated at that time in our first studio in Copenhagen , in which Lili appears as model in a hundred different poses. Grete's artistic fame spread. But nobody knew who was concealed behind the model. Legends sprang up around it. Rumour also began to whisper, without, however, discovering the track of the secret.


"A well-known writer asserted that the model Lili was no creature of flesh and blood at all, but merely a female type, upon which Grete's imagination had fastened, and therefore an empty caprice.


"Only a few suspected the connection. But nobody knew anything definite about the mystery of Lili—with the exception of Anna Larsen, who, however, had been sworn to silence. She kept her word.


"One day Grete received an invitation from Paris to exhibit her 'Lili sketches'.


"And so the three of us were transplanted to Paris: Grete, I, and—Lili."

Page 70



"Before our removal to Paris we had already made several journeys abroad.


Whenever we were able to spare sufficient money from the sale of our pictures—we were extremely frugal in our mode of living—we had travelled South, to study, to paint, and to become acquainted with the world. Lili had not been with us upon any of these trips. There were too many new things to see for Grete and I to find any time to devote to her. But as soon as we found ourselves again in our native studio, she reappeared—and then we had to acknowledge every time that we had really missed her.


"We spent almost a whole year in Italy without Lili. It was the most carefree year which I ever passed with Grete. The romance of the South was an indescribably splendid revelation to us two children of the North.


"How could we find time to . . . play? Grete was at that time serenity itself. In Italy's wonderland she never felt oppressed. She needed no distraction. Hence Lili was not conjured up by her.


"And yet Lili was probably more than ever closely bound up with us both. Only it was no longer a pastime. About that time I began to undergo a change in myself, the nature of which I did
[Page 71]
not then realize. I first became aware of it through my influence upon others . . . in Italy just at that time. In Florence an unfortunate person approached me. He was a wealthy foreigner. One day, after he had been dogging me for weeks, he spoke to me and suggested that I should take up my quarters in his villa, where I could pursue my studies as a painter to my heart's content. I declined politely, but very firmly. After that I saw him frequently. I was always with a lady, either with Grete or in the company of a strikingly beautiful Sicilian. A very little more and I should have been obliged to challenge this poor creature to a duel with pistols.


"In Rome I had a similar adventure. In that city an American millionaire wanted me to accompany him to Egypt. He pestered not only me, but also Grete. He sailed alone to Alexandria.


"Never before had I been placed in such delicate situations. Why this happened just then in Italy I only realized much later. When Professor Kreutz recently saw in Paris a number of photographs taken of me during recent years, including some taken on my first Italian trip, he pointed to these very pictures with the words: 'That was when Lili could be distinctly recognized in appearance for the first time.'


"In due course we returned to Paris.


"In the neighborhood of the Ecole des Beaux Arts , on the left bank of the Seine , we stayed in one of the numerous small hotels. The landlord and his wife were not attractive, but their charming little daughter was like a ravishing kitten. Their like is only to be found in Paris.

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"Two pleasant rooms, painted bright red and greyish colours, were assigned to us. One of them overlooked an old neglected garden, and had a mysterious alcove, with red-diapered curtains. The factotum of the hotel, Jean by name, lost no time in telling us that Oscar Wilde had spent his last days in these two rooms. He had died in the alcove with the red-diapered curtains. As Jean was telling us this, the tears ran down his ill-shorn cheeks. He had reason to regret Oscar Wilde's death. Many a twenty-franc piece had been given him by the unfortunate poet, with which to buy a few sous' worth of cigarettes, and he had never been asked for the change, he added, as a delicate hint to us.


"For Grete and I these two quiet rooms were altogether delightful. We often sat in front of the broad window overlooking the garden and read page after page of the works of the poet, whom I had admired for many years. Gradually Grete and I came to know "De Profundis" and "The Ballad of Reading Gaol" by heart. They were lovely evenings.


"Quite close to the hotel we found our favourite café, 'Chateau neuf du Pape', where art students mainly foregathered. A very modest little restaurant; but one could dine sumptuously there for one franc thirty. The wine was included in the price. Here we met our first Parisian friends .


"Shortly afterwards Grete was invited by the editor to contribute to a well-known Parisian illustrated periodical. He had, in fact, seen Grete's pictures and sketches at her first exhibition in Paris.

                            (ANDREAS SPARRE), 1929

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"Grete was all on fire to begin her contributions immediately. But what should she offer? How quickly could she hunt up a suitable model?


"She looked at me inquiringly, hesitated a few moments, and then said: 'What do you think if Lili . . .'


"I confess that I was at first somewhat surprised. I too had forgotten Lili in the midst of the hubbub of Paris, just as I had during our first Italian trip. Here in Paris Grete had hitherto not required the company of Lili either for the purposes of her work or by way of distraction.


"'Very good,' I said; 'but what shall she put on?'


"Lili's 'outfit' had been left behind in Copenhagen. Quite apart from the fact that Lili was considerably bigger than the very dainty Grete, the strictest separation of property was observed by us with regard to the wardrobe.


"The most necessary things for Lili were quickly procured. She was not a little proud of her first real Parisian costume.


"Thus she came to life again in the heart of Paris. The sketches for which she sat as model were successful. Grete was radiant. She obtained considerable prices for her work and we were able to rent a pleasant studio for ourselves. We settled in Paris, and built up our circle of friends and acquaintances.


"I too was now painting a great deal, partly in Paris, partly in Versailles, where we passed the warm summer months.


"A few happy and harmonious years were now in store for Grete and me. Lili only appeared in
[Page 74]
our midst when Grete urgently needed her as a model. We earned good money, and Grete could hire 'strange models'.


"When we had put aside sufficient money for an educational tour, we set out again for Italy. Our objective was Capri. For years we had been longing to become acquainted with this paradise of sunshine.


"Scarcely had we arrived there than to our great delight we ran up against a painter from Florence whose acquaintance we had made during our first Italian journey. Nino we called him. Henceforth we were inseparable. Within a few days we had more acquaintances among the cosmopolitan artists with whom Capri was teeming than was always agreeable. Three or four times a day we met at the 'Morgano', and evening after evening we played chess and draughts. It went without saying that we mustered our full strength during bathing-hours on the tiny beach at Piccola Marina .


"Here we met one day a Scotsman, who always appeared in the company of a very pretty boy. When bathing the boy was transformed, to our astonishment, into a very nice girl.


"'Just what I expected,' declared a Venetian sculptor who belonged to our clique when this revelation burst upon us. 'I knew it from the start! A girl cannot impersonate a man, neither can a man impersonate a girl. Those who have eyes to see can detect the deception immediately. Some superficial thing always gives the game away.' The man's name was Favio.


"Grete threw me a saucy look. I understood
[Page 75]
what it meant. At the hour of promenade the next afternoon Grete appeared in the company of a tall, slender young lady whom no one had hitherto seen in Capri. They strolled past the 'Morgano', where Grete had to return many curious greetings from friends and acquaintances. Suddenly Signora Favio, the sculptor's wife, spoke to the two ladies, inquired after me, and expressed the hope that I was not ill, as no one had seen me that day. Would Grete and I like to come to a social evening at her villa near Monte Tiberio ?


"Grete regretted that Andreas had been obliged to go to Naples to attend to some important business, and he would not be back until early the following morning.


"Then she introduced her companion—'Mademoiselle Lili Cortaud . . . Signora Favio.'


"The signora had achieved her aim, and she hastened to invite Mademoiselle Lili with Madame Sparre to the social evening. We accepted with pleasure.


"The mystification succeeded beyond all expectation. Grete's French friend was welcomed with extreme cordiality by the whole company. A well-known Norwegian lady novelist pledged Mademoiselle Lili in a lively toast as 'the most perfect incarnation of French charm and Parisian elegance'. She did not stir from Lili's side. She invited Lili to visit her in Norway.


"Lili and Grete were both delighted, for the enchanting, perhaps I should say the piquant, thing about this new friendship was that this passionate Norwegian had hitherto shown a striking aversion to me.

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"In the following days Grete's French friend gave a few more performances. In order to explain my continued absence, Grete told everybody who was curious on the point that her friend Lili and I did not get on at all well together. But Capri is a small place, and Lili was soon obliged to 'depart', in order to leave the field clear for me. Favio and all the others remained completely unsuspecting.


"When we returned to Paris, it frequently happened that after Grete had employed her as a model during the hours of daylight, Lili remained in bed during the whole evening. And if one or other of our intimate friends dropped in, she did not, as formerly, fly into another room, but stayed where she was and where the others were, and behaved charmingly.


"Gradually everybody came to like her. She was, as Grete was always obliged to acknowledge, the good fairy of all our little studio festivities.


"But everybody made a great distinction between Lili and me. Grete's female friends, who treated me with almost ceremonial propriety, embraced Lili and petted her. So did Grete's and my male friends.


"It was also strange that when Lili found herself among Grete's lady friends—who, like herself, were artists almost without exception— she felt the most feminine of them all. At first the friends laughed somewhat heartily at this fact, but gradually observed that Lili's feeling was genuine.


"And thus it came to pass that month after month Lili insisted with growing stubbornness on her rights, and gave place to me with increasing reluctance.


"In the Salon d'Automne, where we both
[Page 77]
exhibited, Grete and I had met a French sculptor, Jean Tempête. This acquaintance was to lead to new experiences for Lili.


"He possessed a summer-house in a small town on the Loire . Assisted by a number of friends, he intended giving a theatrical performance upon the tiny stage of this small town for charitable purposes. Balgencie was the name of the place.


"He invited Grete and I to take part.


"It proved to be a delightful drive. The small town was a miniature Rothenburg.


"The 'theatre', which was to be occupied by us that same evening, looked from the outside like a tobacco shop with a café attached. The interior was usually let for cinematograph exhibitions and dances. As there was only one piece of scenery, which, moreover, was useless for our purpose, Grete was immediately appointed scene-painter. With lightning rapidity she sketched the stage scenery for the revue, which had been composed by Jean Tempête himself.


"At six o'clock in the evening everything was ready, and at nine o'clock the performance was to begin.


"At seven o'clock Tempête and I repaired to the station, in order to fetch the only member of our company who was still missing, a young lady artist who for some reason or other had not been able to travel with the others. She had to play a minor part, that of a typical Parisienne.


"The train arrived, but our Parisienne was not on board. It was the last train before the performance.

Page 78

"Tempête raved. Small as the part was, without the player the piece would collapse.


"'Then we must ask Grete to step into the breach,' I declared.


"Grete and I, who had only been invited to join the travelling party at the eleventh hour, did not belong to the company of players.


"'An excellent idea!' exclaimed Tempête, and the moment he entered the so-called hotel where we had found accommodation, he pounced upon Grete. Completely exhausted by her scene-painting, she was lying on a rickety sofa.


"'Out of the question,' she declared. 'With the best will in the world, I cannot do it.' Then she gave me a furtive look. 'But perhaps . . . Lili can?'


"'Who is Lili?' asked Tempête. They all asked the same question.


"'Don't worry about that. The main thing is that she comes. She can play the part without any trouble,' Grete assured the curious circle. She caught hold of Tempête, drew him aside, and gave him the necessary explanations. He shook with laughter, promised to hold his tongue, and then it was arranged that while Lili was being dressed he should initiate her into the part of the fast-dyed Parisienne in the seclusion of an hotel sitting-room.


"When evening came and the revue was launched in front of a crowded audience, not a soul in the hall suspected that Lili was not a genuine Parisienne. Moreover, the poetically minded chemist of Balgencie , who was a member of the charity committee, was so enthusiastic over
[Page 79]
Lili that he sent a box of violet soap to the unknown beauty at her hotel.


"On this evening Lili became acquainted with her truest friend, Claude Lejeune, the tenor of the revue. He was the comic character of the evening. His mere appearance on the stage unloosed a storm of merriment. He was the only real artiste in this company of amateurs; that is to say, he was the only member of it who was not an amateur.


"Earlier in the day I had already noticed this young artiste, who with his droll, lightning wit might have bobbed up in any Montmartre bar. He had completely irregular features and colourless, somewhat deep-set eyes, the whole capped by a funny, pointed nose. At first glance he would probably appear ugly, but if one looked at him somewhat longer one would become conscious of a remarkable geniality and kindliness which his whole personality radiated.


"If anything he had given me (Andreas) the cold shoulder, but his conduct towards Lili was of quite another character.


"It went without saying that, like the rest of his colleagues from Paris, he was soon 'in the picture'. As for the rest, discretion was observed.


"And the citizens, who had arranged a charity ball after the performance was over, of which we 'Parisians' were to form the centre of attraction, saw in Lili, who at the desire of all the company had remained in her stage costume, the typical Parisienne. Wherever she showed herself, she was treated with exquisite courtesy. She enjoyed herself immensely. She was sought after more than
[Page 80]
any other dancer at the ball. When at length she found she could skip a dance, Claude Lejeune made his way towards her, bowed in his most amusing way, then, in order to show the most serious face in the world, screwed his monocle tighter into his eye, even blushed a little, and said almost solemnly: 'Mademoiselle, may I, as soon as you have somewhat recovered, solicit the honour of being your dancing partner a number of times in succession?' Lili looked at him somewhat surprised, and then nodded. And during this night they danced together many times. They were both about the same height. During the dancing they scarcely spoke a word to each other. They danced, completely surrendering themselves to the rhythm of the dance.


"When the last dance was over, Claude Lejeune bowed very low before Lili, blushed again, and said: 'Mademoiselle, may I hope you will honour the excursion we are making to-morrow with your presence?'


"The other comrades also begged Lili, and she promised with a smile. Only the 'Parisians' took part in this excursion, otherwise Lili could hardly have been present. The day passed in perfect harmony, and it was arranged that everybody should meet again in Balgencie on the first of August, to spend their holidays together on the banks of the Loire . Lili was specially invited. She promised, on behalf of her brother Andreas. By this name Lili henceforth called—me.


" That evening we returned to Paris


"In August the 'Paris gang', as we were henceforward called, half admiringly, half apprehensively,

                     EINAR WEGENER (ANDREAS SPARRE), 1929

[Page 81]
conquered thelittle town, together with the delightful bathing-place. The thermometer registered 85 degrees in the shade. Frequently we were obliged to prolong our day into the night, which was all the more amusing as by ten o'clock in the evening thelittle town was shrouded in darkness, whether the moon was full or new.


"The so-called respectable society of Balgencie kept at a distance from us, with the exception of Monsieur René, the deputy mayor. The 'proper' civic chief had been obliged for a long time to shift the official business on to the broad shoulders of Monsieur René, owing to chronic stomach trouble. Monsieur René, as everybody in the town called him, was a bachelor. He took part in all our nocturnal excursions through the environs of his town, and it was he who during those August days submitted to the town councillors solemnly assembled in the town hall a proposal to organize, with the help of the 'Paris gang', another civic function for charitable purposes. The proposal was unanimously accepted. The next day solemn invitations were delivered to Jean Tempête, Grete, and me, as well as to a few other prominent members of our party, to devise a programme for the function. We resolved to organize a water-carnival, with flower-bedecked boats, on the Loire. Cupid's boat was to sail at the head of the procession of boats.


"Grete received instructions to prepare Cupid's boat.


"Monsieur René placed at our disposal an old broad-bottomed boat, as well as a boathouse, together with his wine cellar. When the rather
[Page 82]
shabby boat was at length transformed into Cupid's festive gondola—the sail was a large red heart—and the launching had taken place, it transpired that, owing to its splendid, as well as very weighty, equipment, the craft was extremely difficult to steer. At Balgencie the Loire is very impetuous, and treacherous winds render a sail rather dangerous. It was therefore necessary for Cupid, as well as his attendant, to be strong swimmers. As no practised and daring swimmer could be discovered among the young ladies of the town, Jean Tempête very discreetly asked me if I could not assume Cupid's rôle, provided Claude Lejeune was assigned to me as squire. I was known to be an excellent swimmer. I promised on behalf of Lili and also of Claude, who had meanwhile become a good friend of ours.


"Thus on the banks of this ancient township , into which Joan of Arc had made her entry as a warrior in steel and iron centuries before, Lili was dressed up as the boy Cupid. . . . The carnival took place in glorious midsummer weather. The whole population stood on the shore and greeted Cupid with frantic cheers as he sailed in triumph upon the smooth glassy surface of the Loire. With his golden bow he shot a rain of arrows at the thousands of heads peeping through the trellis-work on the shore. And everybody believed that behind Cupid's mask was concealed the typical Parisienne from the revue of the last charity performance.


"Upon Claude had devolved the task, after the carnival was over, of conducting Lili to her hotel through a crowd wild with enthusiasm,
[Page 83]
and when at length he brought her intact to her room, he looked at her long and then said, very quietly: 'However you dress up and whatever you want to make me believe, you are a genuine girl.'


"He stopped, startled at his own temerity. Lili stared at him.


"'What is the matter, Claude?' she asked.


"'Nothing,' he said quietly, 'nothing at all. Or it is something? But if I told Lili what I was just thinking and what I have been thinking all day, her brother Andreas would certainly be very angry with me.'


"Then he went, and when we saw each other again the following morning he looked at me shyly and kept out of my way. Lili had again disappeared.


"Year after year we all met again at Balgencie, where I gradually became accustomed to Lili's and my double experience. Lili took part in the festivities and excursions. I painted very industriously, swam and drank many glasses of wine with the notabilities of the town. I had many friends there. All the inhabitants of the town knew me and were delighted to recognize their houses and gardens and themselves in pictures of mine, which might subsequently hang in the autumn exhibitions of Paris. But nobody in the town suspected the identity of the slender Parisienne who now and then strolled with Grete and Claude through the alleys of the town and out into the country. These trips were among Lili's most delightful recollections. In the early dawn, before any bedroom window was opened, the three of them
[Page 84]
would march out into the summer morning, and not until late in the evening, when the town had long since retired to rest, did they return, tired and happy. Claude was then Grete's and Lili's most delightful cavalier; he was their brother and protector, and the friendship between them became ever more intimate and permanent, a friendship which stood every test.


"It went without saying that this 'triple alliance' continued in Paris. Every Sunday Claude made his appearance, when he was the guest of the studio for the whole of the day. And in accordance with an unwritten law, Lili always received him at the door in the corridor. If, however, she was, by a rare chance, absent, and I had to open the door to him, we greeted each other in a very comradely way; he gave me his hand, asked about this and that; but I could always remark his disappointment. In the studio he would then look at my pictures, although quite cursorily; politics and similar topics were touched on in conversation and even the latest Parisian scandal. But it did not last long, at the most a quarter of an hour, and then Claude would look at me somewhat uncertainly. 'I have not yet said good day to Grete.' And then he would disappear into the little kitchen to join Grete.


"But if Lili opened the door to him on Sundays, he would at once go with her into the kitchen.


"In this connection I recall a little incident which happened just at that time.


"Claude had come to see us one weekday evening. Grete was not at home. I then suggested to him that we should visit some amusing dancing-bar
[Page 85]
in the Quartier Latin together. We landed in the Gipsy Bar, where Claude ordered the speciality of the house, namely a coffin-nail. This cocktail was not unworthy of its very promising name. A frequent repetition of the enjoyment of this drink during a day or a night is calculated to curtail considerably our sojourn here below. Perhaps it was this drink which prompted us to try out a new dance which Claude had recently seen somewhere. Moreover, it was the first time that he had danced with me. We had scarcely taken the first step before the manager made a dash at us and requested us to stop dancing immediately. The gentlemen must excuse him; he knew us both very well, but in his establishment, unfortunately, they did not allow two gentlemen to dance together.


"We duly explained to the strict gentleman that all we were concerned about was trying out a new dance. He answered: 'Messieurs, I am sorry, but gentlemen are not allowed to dance together here. If I permitted it only for one occasion, and I know that in your case I am dealing with irreproachable gentlemen, my establishment would be over-run by persons of a certain type and its reputation would suffer injury.'


" We sat down again with a laugh, ordered a harmless apéritif, and then went home.


" The next evening Grete, Lili, and Claude visited the dancing-bar. Claude had, in the meantime, taught both ladies the same dance, and shortly after entering the bar Claude and Lili executed the extremely complicated dance without a hitch, amid the vigorous applause of the manager.

Page 86

"Then he came over to Claude's table, made a polite bow to Grete, and especially to Lili, and said: 'I hope that your friend, whom I am sorry not to see with you to-day, has not avoided my establishment because he was irritated at the little incident of yesterday evening. Monsieur will understand."


"'Oh, we understand,' answered Claude, 'and I can assure you that my friend is not annoyed in the least.'


"And the manager turned to Lili: 'May I offer Mademoiselle my heartiest congratulations? Mademoiselle dances charmingly, charmingly." And then, turning to Claude: 'Monsieur will admit that his partner of yesterday cannot be compared in the least with Mademoiselle.'


"In connection with this amusing encounter I must tell you about another experience, which also happened about this time.


"Together with Claude and Grete, Lili was sometimes invited to a smart artists' club. The club evening usually consisted of a meal followed by a ball. One evening, Grete being tired, Lili went there alone with Claude, at his urgent request. A lady who was an intimate friend of ours and knew me as well as Lili—for the rest, nobody in the club suspected our double existence—made a point this evening of introducing Lili to a number of gentlemen, including her cousin, a nobleman who was no longer quite young. Hitherto Lili had declined to make fresh acquaintances on these club evenings, which were rare events for her. She was happy enough dancing with Claude, and did not need any other partners. Yet, before she could decline, her friend fetched her cousin: 'My cousin, le Comte de Trempe
[Page 87]
la Baronne Lili de Cortaud.' The gallant Count immediately challenged Lili to a fox-trot. This dance was followed by several more. Lili could not refuse. Claude nodded to her merrily. Thus it happened that Lili danced with her new cavalier until far into the night. When at length, completely exhausted, she said farewell to him 'for the present', with the most solemn face in the world he begged 'Madame la Baronne', who, as his cousin had whispered, was staying with Grete for a few days, to allow him to pay his respects to her the following day. What else could Lili do than make the best of a bad job?


"When Lili reached home, Grete was fast asleep.


"The next morning, while Lili was telling Grete about her conquest in the club, the bell rang in the corridor. The Count appeared; he made profuse apologies—Grete had opened the door—in case he was intruding, but he only wanted to inquire after the health of her guest, the Baroness Lili de Cortaud.


"Grete regretted sincerely that her visitor had already gone out, and showed the Count into the studio, where he immediately discovered portraits of Lili all over the place. He was beside himself with enthusiasm. Might he wait until the Baroness returned? Grete assured him that this would be a useless undertaking, as her visitor, who was also her sister-in-law, had been invited to dinner with friends.


"'Oh,' the Count then exclaimed, 'so your husband—Monsieur Sparre—is brother to the Baroness.'

Page 88

"In her distress Grete was obliged to admit this fact.


"'When may I perhaps have the pleasure of calling on Monsieur Sparre?' asked the Count, almost flurried.


"Grete promised to let him know soon through his cousin.


"The following day—we were taking tea in our studio with a few friends and were just discussing Lili's involuntary experience—the corridor bell rang again. The Count!


"'I am sincerely delighted,' he began at once in his ceremonious way, 'to pay you a visit' (I could scarcely find time to usher him in). 'As I have already told Madame Sparre, the day before yesterday I made the acquaintance of your sister, the charming Baroness, and I am most anxious to see her again.'


"Of course it was now very difficult to keep up the pose, but we succeeded in doing so, and I replied: 'My sister will certainly be sorry to have missed the pleasure of shaking hands with you again, monsieur.'


"Grete and our visitors had great difficulty in strangling an outburst of Homeric laughter. I had to throw them a warning look. Without thinking, I continued: 'Unfortunately, we are seeing very little of our sister these days, invited everywhere . . . very much sought after . . . scarcely home before midnight.'


"'Yes, I quite understand that,' said the Count, looking at me searchingly. My heart felt like an anvil trembling under the strokes of a hammer. He went on, speaking slowly and blinking through
[Page 89]
his monocle at every word: 'It is very strange that you are brother and sister, for Madame de Cortaud does not resemble you in the least, my dear sir.'


"I agreed emphatically, and gave Grete an imploring look to keep a straight face. I had just finished a lengthy and prolix assurance that my sister and I did not resemble each other in the least, when the Count addressed to me an inquiry as to whether my sister was, as his cousin intimated to him, not engaged, was really free.


"Foolishly enough I did not contest this point.


"Whereupon he made an exemplary bow and, without beating about the bush, declared: 'Then, monsieur, I have the honour of offering the Baroness my hand.'


"I thanked him in the name of my sister and promised to inform her of his flattering offer. He then withdrew, amidst the exchange of numerous compliments.


"A moment later our studio was rocking with the roaring laughter of Grete and our visitors.


"I did not join in. Lili's experience at the ball was taking her out of her depth. I had to think of a way out.


"'Quite simple,' cried Grete, whose laughter had brought tears into her eyes. 'I will tell the cousin to inform the Count that his lady-love has been suddenly obliged to leave for Copenhagen for very urgent family reasons. For the present a return to Paris is out of the question.'


"And so it happened. A few postcards which we caused to be posted to the Count by a friend in Copenhagen, who had to forge Lili's 'handwriting',
[Page 90]
gradually convinced him of the 'hopelessness' of his wooing.


"He never learnt who Lili was.


"Even stranger was something that happened at the house of my sister and my brother-in-law in Copenhagen , where we were staying some months later on a visit.


"My little niece had seen pictures of Lili, and wanted to see this remarkable person for once 'in the life'. So it was arranged that she should be present one Sunday afternoon, which my parents were also to spend with my relatives. My parents had not seen Grete and me for a number of years. Consequently father and mother were disappointed to learn on their arrival that I was not expected until later, as I had a very important call to make first. Suddenly the bell rang in the hall. The girl announced that a French lady was in the passage and wanted to speak to Madame Grete Sparre. The lady was brought in; Grete welcomed her in the most cordial manner. It was a friend from Paris—unfortunately she only spoke French. And . . . Father immediately began a conversation in French! Mother, who made him translate everything to her, was enormously proud of him!


"In the course of the conversation Mother suddenly warned Father that he should not keep so close to the window with the lady from Paris. It was the middle of winter. 'Don't forget,' she said to Father, looking thoughtfully at the lady, 'the lady comes from a much milder climate and is so thinly clad. Please tell her to sit near the stove.' Then tea was served. And Father and Mother plied
[Page 91]
the foreign visitor with requests for the latest news from Paris.


"For a whole hour the 'Parisienne' kept up the deception in front of Father and Mother. When she suddenly disclosed her identity, they both covered their faces with their hands. They could no longer trust their own eyes.


"'No, no!' repeated Mother, after a long interval. 'That Andreas and Mademoiselle Lili from Paris are one and the same person I cannot believe.'

Page 92



"So Lili and I continued to live our double life, and no one, neither the 'initiated' nor myself, saw in this anything else than a pleasant kind of distraction and entertainment, a kind of artists' caprice, neither more nor less. We were as little perturbed at the obviously growing distinction, of an emotional kind, which increasingly manifested itself between the mystical girl and myself; nor did anyone take any serious notice of the delicate changes which gradually became perceptible in my physical form.


"But something had been silently preparing in me.


"One evening I said suddenly to Grete:


"'Really I cannot imagine what existence would be like if Lili should one day vanish for ever, or if she should no longer look young and beautiful. Then she would no longer have any justification for living at all.'


"Grete at first looked at me astonished. Then she nodded and said in her calm, thoughtful way: 'It is strange that you have mentioned something which has been on my mind a good deal lately. In recent months I have felt prickings of conscience because I was, to a certain extent, the cause of creating Lili, of enticing her out of you, and thus becoming responsible for a disharmony in you which
[Page 93]
reveals itself most distinctly on those days when Lili does not appear.'


"I was thunderstruck at Grete's words. It was as if she had held up a mirror in front of me.


"'It often happens,' she continued excitedly, 'that when she poses for me as a model a strange feeling comes over me that it is she whom I am creating and forming rather than the girl whom I am representing on my canvas. Sometimes it seems to me that here is something which is stronger than we are, something which makes us powerless and will thrust us aside, as if, indeed, it wanted to be revenged on us for having played with it.'


" Grete broke off. Tears stood in her eyes. 'We have come to a steep part of the road, and I don't know where we shall find foothold,' she cried. I tried to calm her; but I scarcely succeeded, at least, not at once. I spoke and she listened to me. 'What you say is all so terribly true. And the most dangerous thing of all is that I feel it is Lili, just Lili, who forms the bond between us which has lasted all these years. I do not believe I could survive her.'


"Grete interrupted me to say that she had very often thought exactly the same, as Lili embodied our common youth and joy in life. She sobbed: 'Sometimes I wonder what life would be without her.'


"We stared at each other, deeply moved by this mutual confession, which had been provoked by many, many weeks of secret brooding.


"'At any rate, I cannot imagine, Grete went on, 'what it would be like for us without Lili.
[Page 94]
We must not lose her. If she should suddenly vanish, it would seem like a murder.'


"'The more so as I cannot help feeling that she is on the verge of becoming more vigorous than I am,' I said uneasily.


"Perhaps this conversation had the effect of plunging me into a momentary fit of despondency; but in other respects my health had been excellent during all these years. In spite of the fact that I had never looked very robust, although I was equal to every physical exertion, I had never really been ill. Just recently I had frequently felt indisposed, my chief sensation being one of utter weariness. Also, I had not stood too well the very cold rainy weather which Paris had latterly experienced year after year. I would cough from late autumn until spring almost without intermission. No doubt that is how I came to have gloomy thoughts. One cannot be young for ever, I would reflect. And then I would think of Lili. She shared her body with me. She was a woman. To remain young meant more for her than for me.


"My outlook became more and more melancholy. By nature I had always been a gay person, especially as long as I lived in Paris. But all this was now over. There were days, weeks, and months when I felt utterly impotent. The power to work went out of me. Everybody who had known me for years knew that I had been an industrious person. I could not understand myself.


"At intervals there would be a return of more lucid periods, whenever I could live in the country far from Paris and collect fresh subjects, especially in Balgencie. But they did not last long. I grew
[Page 95]
more and more tired, more and more languid. I did not know what to do with myself. It was an unbearable condition to be in.


"Grete began to be uneasy. She persuaded me to see a doctor, and to please her I did so. The doctor found nothing specific the matter and prescribed a nerve tonic. It did no good. A new doctor was consulted, with a similar result, and so on.


"But when Lili appeared, everything went well, and life was fair once more. Every trace of ill-humour vanished.


"Consequently she now came as often as possible. In the meantime she had built up her own circle of friends and acquaintances, and she had her own memories and habits, which had nothing whatever to do with me. Often she would stay for several days in succession, and then she would sit contented with Grete, or even sit quite alone by herself, sewing or embroidering, and smiling to herself, happy in this feminine occupation. Nobody understood this mystery, neither Grete nor Elena. They all regarded this enigmatic being Lili, who built up her own world around her, with head-shakings and astonishment. But they let Lili alone, and she was happy.


"Something that happened just at this time was to inaugurate, more quickly than was anticipated, the last period of this incessant and ruthless inner struggle between Lili and myself. And for a long time it looked as if neither of us would survive this contest.


"About two years ago my old friend Iven Persen of the Theatre Royal, Copenhagen, gave
[Page 96]
a number of performances among us in Paris. As his wife, the well-known dancer Ebba Persen, accompanied him, a ballet had, of course, to be arranged for one of the evenings. The ballet corps was not large, and it was short of one dancer. Thereupon Iven, who knew that I was not a bad dancer, asked whether I would care to take part. Without hesitation I replied in the affirmative.


"At the ballet rehearsals, which lasted a very long time, I probably over-exerted myself. At any rate, I was then attacked for the first time by strange hæmorrhages. I bled mostly at the nose, but in so unusual a way that Grete became anxious, and implored me to abandon my dancer's part; but I was very unwilling to do this, as I did not want to leave my old friend in the lurch. I saw the business through, although these hæmorrhages came on after the first night and after each of the numerous repetitions. And the most amazing thing of all was that every time I was seized with a fit of utterly strange convulsive sobbing. When the attack was over, however, I felt as if liberated, just as if something torpid in me had been dissolved; as if something new, something never before felt, was stirring. My whole being seemed as if transformed, as if a dam had suddenly burst.


"Never had music made so disturbing, so shattering an impression on me as on that evening. An achingly sweet and yet elevating sensation, which gripped all my senses, so the music wrought on me, moving me to tears, and the tears became convulsive sobs.


"A complete revolution in my character began on this evening. Formerly my intercourse with

                            ASSUMED THE NAME OF LILI, PARIS, JANUARY 1930

[Page 97]
people had been rather imperious and condescending. From the first rehearsal I had been tormented by a feeling of failure. I was utterly astonished at myself. I no longer recognized myself. A strong impulse to resign myself, to obey, to submit myself unconditionally to another will, had seized hold of me. This impulse seemed to dominate me. Iven, my old friend and boon companion, acted the chief rôle of the evening, apart from Ebba. Only a year before the three of us had been very merry together in Copenhagen. It had never before occurred to me to play second fiddle to him, to recognize him as the leading spirit! But on this evening, from the time of the first rehearsal, I submitted to him slavishly. Not a word of contradiction on my part did he encounter. And not only that, but I blushed like a boy when he requested me to do this or that step differently, to bow somewhat more or less at some figure or the other, and the like. And if he as much as touched me, I felt so confused that I did not know where to look.


"In all these psychic disturbances which I then experienced, nothing of an erotic nature played the slightest part. In this respect Iven and I had thoroughly sound natures. What it therefore meant I could not discover. It simply was so. And it was not I who first observed this change to humility, as Grete called it, but Grete herself. She teased me about it laughingly. But behind her smile was concealed an unbounded astonishment.


"For the general rehearsal I wore my dancing-costume for the first time, close-fitting tights, a bolero, and a wig of short curls. After the general rehearsal was over, when I was standing in a dirty,
[Page 98]
ill-lighted corridor of the theatre, which was to take the place of the non-existent dressing-rooms, and while I was in the act of washing off powder and paint, a number of lasquenets, who likewise belonged to the ballet, passed behind me, clinking their weapons. One of them gave me a light slap.


"'It suits you admirably to play a part in trousers, mademoiselle,' grinned the fellow.


"When I turned round with an energetic protest, the fellow slipped away, exclaiming: 'There is far too much bluff these days, ma petite demoiselle.'


"A few minutes later I had to go on the stage. When Iven perceived me, he burst out laughing, and cried: 'No, children, this won't do. Now we have too many ladies!'


"For a moment I did not understand the allusion. Then I turned round perplexed, all eyes upon me and everybody grinning. Red as a turkey-cock I rushed out, ran into the arms of a dresser, clutched him, and begged him 'at the producer's request to dress me rather more like a man'.


" He endeavoured to do so with the assistance of a colleague, and indeed amid the giggles of both worthies. And I pulled myself together and behaved as if all this left me utterly unmoved.


"The evening before the première I met in the wings an actor of striking muscular development, who had to dance in the ballet in the same costume as I was wearing. When he saw me, he inspected me from top to toe, and then blurted out angrily: 'Good God, man, you look impossible like that!'


"I was speechless and felt as if I should like to sink into the earth. Had such a thing previously
[Page 99]
been said to me by a man, I would have knocked him down.


"When I afterwards related everything to Grete, she confessed that she too had been struck by the strange alteration in the contours of my body. In my dancing-costume I had looked like a woman impersonating a man.


"In the time which followed, my nervous condition assumed a feverish character. Henceforth at almost regular intervals these mysterious fits of depression, accompanied by severe hæmorrhages and violent pains, set in. And then, in addition, there were these disconcerting fits of sobbing. At first I thought that I had displaced some internal organ during the ballet performances, and Grete too thought this. Consequently, we went to a doctor, who was really a heart specialist and not competent to deal with my alleged illness. But he had known me for years. Of Lili, on the other hand, he knew nothing. Only our most intimate friends had been initiated, among whom the doctor was not numbered. Hence I did not broach the subject of my double life during this visit, although I myself had begun to suspect a connection between this and my physical condition.


"As, after making a thorough examination, he found nothing which would explain the remarkable phenomena which had recently manifested themselves, he took me to a specialist, whom I had known slightly at Versailles. This doctor then examined my body with great particularity and growing astonishment, and eventually thought he was able to detect strange irregularities in my inside. For the rest, he declared that the only thing to be
[Page 100]
done was to wait, especially as my whole constitution was very healthy and unimpaired; such a body as mine could stand a good deal.


"Although this doctor had not said anything definite, this conversation gave me confidence and an almost mystical hope.


"By this time I was perfectly clear in my own mind that something of a most unusual character must be happening inside me. I had inferred this more from the doctor's expression than from anything he had said.


"And then, like so many sick persons who do not know what is really the matter with them, I began to procure all kinds of scientific books dealing with sexual problems. Within a short time I acquired an expert knowledge in this department, and knew many things of which the layman hardly dreams. But gradually it became clear to me that nothing which related to normal men and women could throw any light on my mysterious case.


"So it came about that I formed an independent opinion, to the effect that I was both man and woman in one body, and that the woman in this body was in process of gaining the upper hand. Upon this assumption I explained the disturbances, both physical and psychic, from which I was suffering to an increasing extent.


"All this I confided to Grete. And when, encouraged by her, I submitted my theory to various doctors in Paris and Versailles, they greeted it not merely with head-shakings, but even with disdain. The most polite among them treated me indulgently for every possible illness, while others regarded me as an hysterical subject, or simply as a lunatic.

Page 101

"It was a terrible time. My health was on the downgrade, and soon I was unable to get any sleep. Grete was the only person who believed with me firmly in my theory. I owed it to her that I did not lose faith that one day I should find salvation.


"Exactly a year ago we journeyed southward once more, to Italy. Grete thought that a change of air just at this time, when Paris was having very rainy weather, would do me good. The French winter had been unusually cold. The whole of March had been spoiled by rainy weather. Beyond the Alps we found the world in blossom.


"We travelled to Rome, where we had arranged to meet an Italian officer whom we had met years before in Florence. He had just returned home on furlough from the East after a long period of colonial service. He was waiting for us at the railway station and escorted us to our hotel, and then we were to dine somewhere in the town. I was utterly exhausted after the long railway journey and was suffering indescribable agony; but I did not want to spoil the day for Grete and our friend. I therefore went with them.


"We entered Facciano's and found a table. Through the open door the soft evening breezes streamed in from the beautiful Piazza Colonna, where we could see the shimmering white columns in front of the rusty-red façade of the Palazzo Chigi and the colonnade of Biffi, which re-echoed to the shrill cries of newspaper sellers, and thus saved one the expense of buying a journal. The orchestra played divinely. I shall never forget that evening.


"Grete sat opposite me.

Page 102

"It suddenly flashed upon me that she was looking as if she were hardly twenty-five years old. Every trace of fatigue had been charmed away from her features. And beside her sat our friend Ridolfo Feruzzi, who was beaming on her. When we had made his acquaintance years ago, it did not seem fated to become an enduring friendship. At that time he had been a half-baked lieutenant. Il bello tenente Feruzzi , he was then called—it had been during our first Italian trip. When we parted at that time it had seemed to be for ever, until his letter from the remote colony had reached us in Paris. Most of its contents had been addressed to Grete.


"A feeling of deep melancholy stole over me. I found myself thinking of that time and of the years between, and, to some extent, of myself. What had I become?


"I pulled myself together. A thousand questions were asked, and as many were answered. 'Do you remember the So and Sos? And Mrs. X? Do you remember that evening at Lapi . . . that afternoon in the Casino . . . and the evening which followed in the cinema in the Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele ?' I saw it all as if it had been yesterday, and there was I sitting with Grete and Ridolfo Feruzzi and laughing with them, and sometimes sharing a joke with them. They looked young, just as they did then so many years ago. But I joined in the laughter, although my laugh was forced and mechanical. My old zest in life had vanished. I had become another—a despondent person.


"There in Rome, a year ago now, I realized
[Page 103]
quite definitely that it was all up with me, that I was at the end of my tether, irrevocably at the end. I felt and knew this as something unalterable.


"Grete and I had rented a studio with a wide balcony in the neighbourhood of the Piazza di Spagna . Every day I was ill, every day. And all the time the roses and the orange trees were blooming in front of our studio window.


"Now and then Lili appeared; but she had lost all her gaiety. She wept every time. She realized how beautiful life could be.


"Sometimes Grete would weep as well. Otherwise, she was perfectly well, even in Rome. She tried to paint; but nothing would come of her efforts. When I lay awake at night beside her, I observed that she too was lying with wide-open eyes. Our evenings we passed with Feruzzi. His character, too, underwent a gradual change. A fitful melancholy weighed upon him, even when he tried to appear cheerful. He confessed that when all was said and done his life had been a failure. He could understand men who had reached this conclusion turning to the cloister as their last refuge. Undoubtedly there were such men, even in the twentieth century. I perceived that his words were seriously meant.


"My thoughts wandered to Grete. Had she not also missed her life's purpose? Had she not sacrificed herself so that I should not live alone—because she felt that I had become a sick man—because she knew that she was the only person who could understand me? I knew that no earthly power could induce her to leave me—to-day less than ever. She was still young now. She still had
[Page 104]
time to catch up with many of the opportunities she had missed for my sake. For me life had no longer any attraction. I know this is a shallow thing to say, for others, but for me it said and comprised everything. Why should I drag out a miserable existence any longer? No doctor could discover what was the matter with me, nobody could help me. To go on living, ill and old before my time . . . the idea was too horrible to contemplate. I thought all this out without any feeling of self-commiseration. And thus the idea presented itself quite naturally: better dead. Then Grete would be free. Then life would have still many rich years in store for her. That evening in Rome I took a resolution. It still holds good. Only one thing can alter it.


"It was then May. I gave myself a year's reprieve. If in the course of this year I should not find a doctor who could help me—who would try to save Lili—to separate her from me—I know how difficult it is for others to understand these words, to separate Lili from me—but how else shall I express the idea? Well, if I could not by the following May find this helper, then I would take a silent farewell from this existence, even if the other being who was obliged to share this existence with me in one body must also share my fate. I even appointed the day. It was to be the first of May. And I determined to carry out my design as discreetly as was possible to both of us—Lili and I—in order to spare Grete.


"Grete. . . . How to spare her? That was the hardest thing of all. I knew only too well how Grete would take a forcible termination of my life.

                            LIFETIME OF LILI ELBE

[Page 105]
But despite all my consideration and solicitude for the best and truest friend of my life, I realized that there was no other way out. It would, however, be a release for us both, and certainly the only one that was possible.


"Once I had taken this decision I felt relieved. Now I knew that there would be an end of this torture within a measurable period of time.


"My health worsened from day to day. And the moment came when Grete perceived that I could not remain in Rome any longer, that a return to Paris, where we knew some trustworthy doctors, was urgently necessary.


"Unutterably depressed, we left Rome—and Ridolfo Feruzzi—one sunny spring morning much earlier than we had planned.


"In Paris, in our native environment, my condition apparently improved. Again we visited a few specialists, but always with a negative result. Eventually a radiologist took me in hand. The treatment almost cost me my life, and I was nearly relieved of the necessity of despatching myself on the appointed first of May.


"As the Parisian summer was too warm, we withdrew to Versailles, in the neighbourhood of the Park . Our life resumed its normal course. Neither Grete nor I were fond of making much fuss about our weal and woe, our joys and sorrows. Work is the best doctor, I said to myself. And as often as my condition permitted, I went into the Park with my paintbox and easel, just as I did in former years. And Lili came as often as she liked, to distract Grete and herself.


"The only person who had a fairly clear
[Page 106]
perception of my condition was Claude Lejeune. At that period he was a comforter to us both. Without the need of many words, he divined what was concealed behind the apparent calm which Grete and I—and Lili—showed him on all his visits. When he came on Sunday, the old gaiety reigned once more among us.


"If we had not had Claude Lejeune at that time . . .


"He, like Grete, had long realized that the only thing that was still vital within me was Lili. This they believed firmly. And hence they both encouraged Lili to come as often as she liked.


"Claude Lejeune often took long walks with her through the Park of Versailles , forging plans for the future.


"On one such evening, when the setting sun had turned to molten gold all the windows of the palace and the smooth surface of the water in the pond, they were strolling arm in arm along the terrace. Suddenly they heard a lady say to her companion in passing: 'Look! Two happy people!'


"Most of our friends and acquaintances understood my condition much better than all the doctors whom we had consulted. Of course, their sympathy was limited to words. Nevertheless, their words often gave me moral support. They saw in me an overweighted man, whose sufferings were a real martyrdom, and not, as the French doctors declared over and over again, imagination and hysteria.


"One day I met an elderly French painter in Trianon. We had known each other for years, but had not seen each other for a long time. He
[Page 107]
inquired sympathetically after my health. I answered evasively, without betraying the least hint of the real state of the case.


"To my astonishment he made answer in my place.


"I have been observing you for some time, without your having noticed it, here in the Park , when you are painting. I have been struck with the complete change that has come over you during recent years. Formerly you gave one the fresh, sharp impression of a healthy man. Now, if you will pardon my saying so, the effect you have on me is for all the world like that of a girl impersonating a man. You are ill. You are even very ill. You are undergoing a transformation. It is a fantastic idea; but what had never been before may become actuality to-morrow. We have known of cases of inversion for a long time, and doctors can deal with them. Why shouldn't you also be helped. It is to be hoped you will find a courageous and imaginative doctor. Everything depends on this. Of course, you will wonder how a poor painter can find the enormous fee for such an undertaking. Let us hope, nevertheless, that you will find a man prepared to assist you for humane and scientific reasons.'


"These and similar expressions of understanding were like little oases in my progress through the desert, and they gave me courage and strength to prolong yet a little further my hopeless quest of a saviour.


"During this last summer at Versailles I began to notice that when I was standing in the street, or walking in the Park, people often stared at me
[Page 108]
in astonishment, even in the shops which I had been accustomed to visit for years. I had occasionally been aware of the same thing in Paris during recent years, but never to the same extent as was now the case in Versailles. Moreover, Parisians are the most cultivated, the most indifferent and the most blasé people in the world, while the Versaillese are semi-provincial.


"One morning when I wanted to reach the Park quickly, in order to paint, I took a short cut through a corridor of the Hôtel des Reservoirs, where several young waiters were standing.


"I scarcely noticed them, but I had only gone a few steps when I heard behind me in pure Copenhagen slang the words: 'Look at that smart girl in trousers going to paint!'


"Incidentally I may observe that the hotels in Versailles are full of Danish waiters—I do not know why. Probably because German and Austrian waiters were mainly employed before the War, and, no doubt, owing to their knowledge of languages.


"Enough! I behaved as if I had heard nothing, but went on my way pondering on the meaning of this compliment—and then it began to dawn on me why I had attracted attention everywhere in recent times.


"A few days later the wife of our house porter , with whom I was on the best of terms, called me aside and said: 'Monsieur must not be angry with me if I confide to Monsieur that the shopkeepers in the neighbourhood where Madame and Monsieur make their purchases will not believe that Monsieur is a monsieur.' With eyes starting out
[Page 109]
of her head and mouth wide open she stood stock still while I answered with a smile: 'Madame, I am very much inclined to agree with the shopkeepers.'


"These and similar incidents showed me that the situation was beginning to be paradoxical. Lili could not show herself in the street on her own account, because she and I shared the same body—although not a soul took any notice of her whenever she walked abroad, apart from occasional pursuers. I, on the other hand, was stared at everywhere. Although I was dressed perfectly correctly as a man and took long masculine strides, people took me for a girl masquerading as a man.


"It was not to be endured.


"In the autumn, when we returned to Paris, I noticed that I was beginning to attract attention there also, although it mostly found expression in a somewhat more discreet manner. In the tube, or in the 'bus, or in the tram, I frequently caught looks and words from people who were watching me. The few remarks that I occasionally overheard were enough to convince me that the opinion of the shopkeepers in Versailles was shared by others. With my thorough knowledge of the sophistication of Parisians in general it became doubly clear to me that I was really on the way to becoming a sensation—and this fact made me more and more nervous. My nerves, which had been weakened by the sufferings of long years, simply revolted: they could no longer bear the sight of me pursued everywhere by wondering and curious grimaces. This molestation by my fellows utterly depressed me.

Page 110

"Thus I went again to the heart specialist with whom I was acquainted. Grete had called on him a few days before and had tried to explain to him my and Lili's double life—and he had promised her to take me to another specialist in Versailles —although, personally, he regarded the whole thing as a fixed idea of mine, and exclusively as a 'diseased imagining without any physical foundation'.


"'Your husband is healthy. His body is normal. I am speaking from a thorough knowledge, from a thorough examination of his body, madame.' Such was the wisdom of his concluding remarks.


"This visit to the new specialist in Versailles was to be my last experiment, I had solemnly sworn to Grete and myself, before we set out on the journey. On my arrival I immediately received the impression that the two doctors had settled their plan of campaign in advance: they wanted to try to drive out of me my hysterical crochets and whims. After an extremely superficial examination I was told point blank that I was a perfectly normal man without any defect whatever, and that all I had to do was to try to behave as a man with energy and good humour, in order to be able to lead once more the life of an ordinary man masculini generis. During this summary of their profound judgment they regarded me with scarcely veiled irony: they looked upon me as an hysterical subject, plainly as a fraud, and one of them, the 'new specialist', even hinted that I was really homosexual. This suggestion almost broke down my self-control. If Grete had not saved the situation by a ringing laugh, repudiating on my behalf
[Page 111]
the supposition as utterly absurd, I should have seized the fellow by the throat.


"After this hopeless consultation, which profoundly depressed us both, my last reserves of strength were exhausted. And I swore to myself that henceforth no power on earth would induce me to consult new doctors. I would not run the risk of being degraded again for the amusement of the medicos.


"I said to myself that as my case has never been known in the history of the medical art, it simply did not exist, it simply could not exist. Thus my doom, which was also Lili's doom, was sealed. All that now remained for me to do was to go on living with all the patience that I could muster until the short term that I had set to my life had expired.


"Outwardly, nothing changed in the routine of our daily life. I was even cheerful when friends or acquaintances visited us, but particularly so in my behaviour towards Grete, as I was afraid that she might see through me. That she was seriously perturbed I could divine from her whole attitude. She kept her feelings well under control, and generally showed me a smiling countenance, behind which she was able to hide her despondency. She had become so restless. Frequently, when she believed that I was not observing her, she would look at me furtively with an air of such strange inquiry that I feared she suspected my plans.


"During these weeks I had only one desire: to hear music. Concerts I could no longer attend, as I dared not see people. Consequently, I bought large numbers of gramophone records, classical and modern music, all mixed up anyhow, and during
[Page 112]
long evenings our gramophone played until far into the night. I swallowed everything that was music—gay and tragic, the most banal and the most solemn, the most melodious and the most discordant music—provided only it were music. It was my comforter, whether it moved me to tears or prompted me to join merrily in some chorus, or even invite Grete to dance with me.


"At that time I lived on music. If I could not sleep, I fled to music. If I was unable to open my eyes in the morning, Grete would fetch the gramophone from the studio to my bedside. It was not that I was abnormally receptive or sensitive. I was never less sensitive that at this time. I merely felt utterly lost, abandoned to a fate which transcended human understanding. Music, the language of the soul, liberated me. Not to have to speak myself, not to have to give shape to my hopeless brooding, not to think myself nor clothe my vague ideas in words, was my daily and nightly prayer.


"Formerly I had found distraction in reading. Now I never opened a book. What were the fates of strange persons to me, unless I could find consolation in reading about a person of my own kind? But of such a person no author had been able to write, because it had never occurred to any author that such a person could ever have existed. How could the philosophies of the Greeks and of the present time assist me, which only tell us of the thoughts of men and of the thoughts of women in separate bodies and brains and souls? Plato's Banquet . . . hitherto it had been my refuge. Plato was acquainted with persons on the borderline of both emotional worlds, that of man and that

                            MAY 1930. BETWEEN SECOND AND THIRD OPERATIONS.

[Page 113]
of woman. 'Mixed beings' they are called. But here in my sickly body dwelt two beings, separate from each other, unrelated to each other, hostile to each other, although they had compassion on each other, as they knew that this body had room only for one of them.


"One of these two beings had to disappear, or else both had to perish. During these nights I was obsessed by the delusion that this body did not belong to me alone, that my share in this body grew less day by day, as it enclosed in its interior a being which demanded its existence at the price of my existence. I seemed to myself like a deceiver, like a usurper who reigned over a body which had ceased to be his, like a person who owned merely the façade of his house.


"Now and then Lili would still appear, and Grete was delighted every time she came. Lili was gayer than I. Both of us knew this. And Lili knew it was in her power to comfort Grete. Sometimes, at Grete's request, she remained for several days. In Lili's company Grete was more easily able to bear the nights. Lili could fall asleep more easily. And when she slept, Grete, too, was able to sleep. Lili often wept without Grete remarking it. Lili had always possessed her own dream world. She had always had such delightful dreams. Now her dreams had vanished. They revisited her just for a few nights. And every dream was a continuation of the previous one. It was winter, and she would dream of a coming spring which was very sunny. She told Grete these dreams, but she felt that they were only dreams. And then would come fear. The next night, however, a still more beautiful
[Page 114]
dream would drive her fear away. Grete once told me that she had secretly recorded many of these dreams in her diary. And she said this as if she were betraying a secret.


"'Lili has dreamed you a romance,' I said to her, and turned empty away.


"But this dream-romance became the favourite subject of conversation between Grete and Lili during those dark days, and these talks were the only thing that gave Grete and Lili new courage and kept alive their hope that a miracle would somehow happen.


"Thus we reached February. Elena and Ernesto were in Paris again. And one morning Elena took me with her to the strange man from Germany . Now it is the third of March. In less than two months it will be the first of May. That is the extreme limit of the period which I gave myself. Then Andreas Sparre will exist no longer. Whether Lili will survive this day and live out her own life rests in the hands of Werner Kreutz."

Page 115



When Andreas entered his hotel, it was almost morning. He stood at the window of his bedroom and gazed down at the square in front of the railway station . A number of taxi-cabs were there, a few belated pedestrians. A gleam of light was visible from the glass wall of the long narrow booking-hall.


He was very tired.


Slowly he undressed. He stood nude in front of the mirror. He thought of an expression he had used that evening: "I am like one who only owns the façade of his house." The mirror in front of him showed him the façade. It was the unblemished body of a man.


After a few hours he awoke in a cheerful humour, took a bath, breakfasted, punctually paid, one after another, his last visits to the various doctors, and felt almost carefree. In the middle of the Leipziger Strasse he heard a child's voice whisper: "Look, mamma, a woman in man's clothes." He turned round, and encountered a frightened look in two girlish eyes, probably a ten-year-old, with a thick, fair pigtail; the child blushed a fiery red and clutched hold of her mother, who regarded him with as much astonishment as her daughter, and then hurried along with the child.


A remarkable feeling of grim defiance welled
[Page 116]
up in him. Without meaning to do so, or even being aware of his action, he remained standing in front of a shop window, gazing inquiringly at his own reflection in the smooth plate-glass window. Irritably he muttered to himself. "There is nothing more to be done with me. There is nothing more to be done with me." Several times he repeated this sentence, and then looked at his watch. It was half past four in the afternoon, and at five o'clock he had to be in Professor Gebhard's sanatorium.


He found himself in Potsdamer Platz and entered the post-office. In the huge telephone directory he looked up the number of Baroness Schildt, whom he really ought to have visited before, and asked to be connected. She was not at home. He despatched a few hasty lines by post:


"Dear Baroness,


"Do not be angry if you should not see me again. In a few minutes I shall be calling a taxi and proceeding to my own funeral-tomb, Professor Gebhard's sanatorium. Whatever happens, think kindly of me. And if Lili should alone survive, do not let her be quite alone. I know that not all my men friends are her friends, but I should like her to inherit my women friends."


He threw the letter into the bag of the postman who was just emptying the blue pillar-box. He pressed a shilling into the worthy fellow's hand. The postman looked at him astonished. Before the man could thank him, Andreas was in the
[Page 117]
nearest taxi. He gave the driver the exact address of the nursing-home, and punctually at five o'clock entered the sanatorium.


He was immediately led to the house-surgeon, who regarded him with a benevolent mien.


"I have just had a long telephonic conversation with my colleague Kreutz about your case," the Professor began. "Previously I had been talking to Doctor Arns about it. He will be present at the operation which I have to perform. I should now like to have the opportunity of making your acquaintance. A personal impression is always very desirable."


Andreas answered to the point: "Please, Professor, ask me what you like." But the Professor preferred a physical examination to all questions, requested him to undress and lie down upon an adjacent sofa of a type which had become very familiar to him since he had been in Berlin.


"Yes," declared the Professor, after making a detailed examination, "in yourself you are entirely what you represent yourself to be in civic life, a man, but at the same time your body undoubtedly shows a female conformation. I am surprised at the state of affairs." And while Andreas was dressing himself again, the surgeon paced the room thoughtfully, regarded the patient without pausing, glanced at his diary, and then said: "I know you are in a hurry. Come early to-morrow morning."


"That is not convenient, because I am to be photographed by Doctor Hardenfeld at eleven o'clock to-morrow morning before the operation, at Professor Kreutz's wishes."


"Good," declared Professor Gebhard, after
[Page 118]
again consulting his diary; "four o'clock in the afternoon will also be convenient. To-day is Monday . . . then to-morrow, Tuesday, afternoon."


"So we have a further reprieve," he said to himself, and looked at his watch. It was nearly half past six. A taxi-cab was in the neighbourhood. He gave the driver the name of his hotel, and spent this last night of all alone in the hotel bedroom. He felt that his body and nerves could not stand any more strain that day—yesterday's sleepless night, the conversation which had preceded it, the noisy, strange giant city all around him.


"I am no longer a player myself. I am only a substitute for Lili. I must therefore be sparing."


Tuesday morning Andreas left his hotel early. It was a bright March day; he strolled along the Friedrichstrasse, then turned into the broad highway of Unter den Linden, and found himself in the Pariser Platz, facing the smooth, austere Brandenburg Gate. This beautiful and almost classically perfect perspective was bathed in the keen, bright sunshine of March. The painter awoke in him. He went into the Tiergarten. Sunshine and budding vegetation everywhere. And the dead leaves were glistening like bronze. He strolled along a path which led to a lake, on which ducks were swimming. The branches of lofty trees were reflected on the surface of the water.


He had never been there before. He absorbed the picture. He thought of the many morning hours of his past life as a painter, spent far from towns and people, and he blessed the fate which had made him a painter, a creature of utter
[Page 119]
simplicity who surrendered himself fully to the enjoyment of the moment. Not to lose this precious moment was the impulse which found release when he painted. He usually painted feverishly, and could scarcely wait to catch the picture while it presented itself to his gaze, this gaze which was purified by the winds of travel, which saw more than the vacant stare of others, and which was brighter than that of others. Clairvoyant. How fond he had always been of this word, and how it recurred to him at this moment!


He had always been one with this intangible and restless something, this play of light and shade, of claire-obscure, with colour and form. His attitude had been like that of a sly bird-stalker who laid in ambush and knew all the calls that would allure what he sought.


Thus he had created his pictures, spellbound on the dead canvas with dead colours, until what he had divined with his eyes suddenly began to take on a life of its own. . . . Captured echoes, he had then usually confessed to himself. My pictures are only feeble echoes . . . He had been happy and very humble, like an initiate. And these hours had been the only real and genuine joys of his life. These joys had belonged to him, to him alone, he could not have shared them with, nor could he have stolen them from, any other person. They had been exclusively his wealth, his property. Could he transmit this property, this wealth? This question had never occurred to him before. Can one transmit joy? The joy of painting? For him, Andreas Sparre, these joys had gone beyond recall. And if Lili should survive him,
[Page 120]
would she feel any desire to paint? Would he be able to bequeath her as a heritage this joy, this blissful feeling of creative capacity, as a slight compensation for the life he had stolen from her, for the many youthful years he had deprived her of? His consciousness of guilt which so often weighed heavily upon him would be thereby lessened.


He must now think of Lili, who had such different inclinations from his; but why now think of inheritance? What great thing had he ever accomplished? True, he possessed a small token which he had to share with nobody: the golden "palm" of the Paris Academy. Oh, vanity!


He wondered whether it was not time to return. He was standing upon an elegant lightly balanced bridge, whence he could look over a wide canal which poured its masses of water over a sluice drawn half-way up, so that it hissed and glittered like a miniature waterfall.


"I am just like one who is trying to sail under a waterfall," he reflected, "and I feel the current catching hold of me, and I no longer know whither the voyage is leading. Perhaps into complete destruction. . . . Yet . . . now, half-way, the boat cannot be left. The resolution is taken. I cannot go back."


Half an hour later he was at Dr. Hardenfeld's, waiting for the photographer.


A lady, Hardenfeld's assistant, then came to him in the waiting-room, and began a conversation with him. He merely listened. She was tactful, and he felt that whatever she said was not dictated by curiosity or importunity.

Page 121

"Your case is a novelty for us here. And what adds to the interest which we take in you for scientific reasons is the fact that you are an artist, an intellectual, and therefore able to analyse your own feelings, your own emotional life. You will experience the unprecedented and incredible thing: first to have lived and felt as a man, and then to live and feel as a woman. I am reminded of that Roman emperor who took his life because he could not achieve what is now your fate."


At length the photographer arrived. When Andreas left Dr. Hardenfeld's institution, he invited himself to a "farewell breakfast". With great care he selected an appropriate restaurant for this purpose in the West End.


Then he repaired to his hotel, paid his bill, and proceeded to Thomasiusstrasse, to bid farewell to his friends.


"You don't look exactly like a victim," affirmed friend Niels the moment he entered the room.


"Nor do I feel like one—on the contrary," laughed Andreas.


While Inger wrung her hands: "But, Andreas, in a few hours you are going to be operated upon, and you come here with a cigar in your mouth almost as black as a crow."


Before he was aware of her action, she had snatched the cigar out of his hand.


"Please, I have just come from the last meal before my execution, or, speaking more correctly, I have celebrated in the most literal meaning of the words the enterrement de ma vie de garçon."


Inger took his hand. "I have not been a nurse for nothing; I know how one should behave before
[Page 122]
an operation. Certainly not as you are doing, Andreas. It is a stupid boyish trick to go and feast. It is putting on airs. And now Niels will go with you to the nursing-home."


And so it fell out. Without a cigar, Andreas entered the sanatorium under his friend's supervision.


The operation sister received the two gentlemen, conducted them to a room next to the operating-theatre, the door of which stood open. A few nurses appeared to be making everything ready for a new operation. A strong odour pervaded the place.


Professor Gebhard was, unfortunately, unable to arrive until nearly six o'clock, and the gentlemen must therefore have a little patience. They would be notified in due course.


The time was scarcely four. Niel's face assumed an expression of utter despair. "I can't stand waiting here two hours," he said almost contritely, and intimated that he would like to spend the period of waiting with the patient in the large café situated close at hand.


When they had found seats in the café opposite the newspaper stand, Andreas detected a few yards away from them a red-haired cripple, a newspaper boy. Andreas sprang up in a trice and moved backwards towards the cripple, who observed this proceeding with astonishment, for which he received a shilling from Andreas, and then another shilling after Andreas had touched his very solid hump.


"My dear Niels," he then said by way of answer to his friend's astonished look, "I call that friendship! To bring me in the presence of such a splendid
[Page 123]
hump at the eleventh hour. For you know, of course, that such a fellow infallibly brings one luck. A superstition, for aught I care, but now I feel invulnerable. To touch a manly hump works wonders, but a female hump the contrary."


"Which we will whet with a noble drop of Rhenish wine, as a burial drink so to speak, according to the good old Nordic custom." And already Andreas had ordered from the head waiter a bottle of the very best vintage. "But three glasses, please."


"Three?" enquired Niels.


"Of course; the cripple must drink with us." Nor did the red-haired fellow want asking twice. "The like of us is used to plenty of sorrow," replied the hunchback, making a low bow. He seized the proffered glass, and clinked it with that of Andreas: "Your health, my dear sir. May your good soul long survive you!"


"The fellow speaks like a prophet," cried Niels. But Andreas clasped the red-haired cripple in his arms, then released the astonished man and raised his glass. "So be it!" And he clinked his glass with that of the hunchback. When Andreas and Niels at length departed, the red-haired cripple gazed after them, shaking his head.


In the room of the nursing-home which was awaiting Andreas lights were already burning. A nurse ushered him in, took the patient's personal particulars, hung a thermometer over the bed, and requested Andreas to lie down immediately. The doctors would soon put in an appearance.


"I suppose it is best that I should go at once," inquired Niels.


Andreas nodded. "Well, old chap, so long, and I
[Page 126]
will do all I can to fulfil the red-haired fellow's prophecy."


Niels was about to say something more, but Andreas pushed him to the door. A brief handshake, and Andreas was alone.


He paced up and down. Once, twice, thrice. Without knowing it he began to count his steps. So the room was seven paces long and six paces wide. Then he sat on the bed. He regarded the room. A room in a nursing-home like countless others. Bright walls, and bed and table and cupboard and the two chairs likewise painted a light colour.


And then he began to undress very slowly. Suddenly it occurred to him that he, Andreas Sparre, was probably undressing for the last time . . . that what was now taking place was a farewell to coat and waistcoat and trousers and so on and so on. For a lifetime these coverings of coat and waistcoat and trousers had enclosed him. He contemplated the articles of clothing, one after another, as he took them off; he hung the coat over the waistcoat, and then both upon the hanger in the cupboard, as he had been accustomed to do since . . . yes, since when? He stretched the trousers in the trouser-press, and looked at one article after another, and stroked each in turn. "What will become of you? What will become of me? Which of us here will survive the other? I—myself? I—you? . . . Coat, waistcoat, trousers, shoes, underclothes, socks. . . ."


And he picked up his hat off the table. "You too. I had almost forgotten you. Who else have I forgotten?" And he slipped his hand in the inside
[Page 125]
pocket of his coat, took out a picture, and stood it on the table against the wall. "Grete," he said, and started to stroke the picture. A knock was heard and the door was opened. Professor Gebhard entered, accompanied by his assistant doctor. A few questions were addressed to Andreas, with the result that, to his surprise, the performance of the "first operation", which involved no danger whatever, as the Professor explained, had to be postponed to the following morning. "'Gravol' is what you call such farewell celebrations in the North," laughed the Professor. "Your friend has already betrayed to me the Rhenish wine. Congratulations! You seem to know your way about there. But operations of this kind are best performed on an empty stomach. In a few hours' time we will give you a sleeping-draught, so that the time between now and to-morrow morning will not seem too long to you. And now, courage." A handshake—and Andreas was again alone.


"So it's always wait, wait, wait, wait," he said to himself. "However, much patience must one have," he said, addressing the portrait which stood on the table next to his bed.


"Grete." . . . More he could not say; he leaned back on the white pillows, stared at the ceiling, and felt tired.


He had struggled to the goal. He became sensible of the bustle of the day here in Berlin. Now he had to confess that he was at the end of his forces. And the last remnant of his masculine pride, which he had been dragging about with him in this strange million-headed city like a cuirass, fell away from him.

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"Grete, it's a good thing you can't see me now."


No weakness . . . stick it out.


He had laid a writing-pad and fountain-pen on the table. He took a sheet of paper and wrote:




"4th March, Tuesday evening.


"Dearest Grete,


"To-morrow I shall be operated upon. The Professor says the operation in question is only a minor one, involving no danger. Consequently I have not besought you to come to me. Should it, however, turn out otherwise, I will tell you now that I shall have thought only of you every hour, every minute up to the last moment. My last wish is that your future should be happy—that you should inherit my fundamentally joyous temperament. Thousand kisses from Lili.


"Yours, Andreas."


When Inger entered his room an hour later, he gave her the letter and asked her to give it to Grete, in case.


"You great booby, I have known all along from Niels that everything will be all right. I have even gone to the café and taken a few flowers to your somewhat unusual guardian angel." He went as red as a turkey and said: "This is the luckiest day I have had."


At ten o'clock the assistant doctor entered again. He gave Andreas the promised sleeping-draught. Then the nurse appeared, tidied up the room, and switched off the light.


They let him sleep on until the middle of the
[Page 127]
morning, when the doctors were expected to arrive. He had hardly time to make a hasty toilet before Professor Arns was standing beside the bed and requesting him to sign a declaration that he, Andreas Sparre, desired to be operated upon at his own risk, and that Professor Gebhard was relieved of all responsibility in the event of an unfavourable outcome.


"With pleasure," he declared, and he immediately signed the document which was addressed to some high authority, and which said in effect: "In case I die, I renounce all right to make any difficulties hereafter." "But may I not add a few words of thanks to the German doctors," he asked suddenly, "who are going to make an attempt to save me?"


This request was laughingly declined, and then the Professor announced: "The operation will take place in a few minutes. I am present at the desire of Professor Kreutz, so good luck." He then withdrew.


When Andreas was again alone, he wrote yet another letter:


"My dear Professor Kreutz,


"At the last moment before my operation I yield to an impulse to express to you my heart-felt thanks. Since the day when I met you in Paris I have been hopeful, and here in Berlin, where I know none of the doctors who have examined me and assisted me, an invisible power seems to have smoothed all my paths. I know that you are this invisible power, and that whatever good things have come my way have emanated from you. Whatever the result
[Page 128]
may be, I want you to know that I am enormously grateful for all you have done for me.


"Your attached Andreas Sparre."


Now everything was in order.


A moment later the assistant doctor entered the room.


When Andreas woke up again, in violent pain, it was almost noon. He opened his eyes with a shriek. Gradually he realized that he was lying in his bed. It seemed to him as if he had been crying out for a long time, as if he were resisting something. Two nurses were standing beside him and speaking soothing words. When he recovered consciousness he felt the pains growing more violent. With an effort he regained control of himself and clenched his teeth. He would leave off screaming. And, in fact, he screamed no more.


"Did I make much noise?" he inquired.


"Well, just a little," said one of the nurses with a smile, "and the strange thing was that your voice had completely changed. It was a shrill woman's voice."


Then Professor Gebhard came in and took Andreas by the hand. "It went off splendidly. Moreover, I must congratulate you. You have a splendid soprano voice! Simply astounding."


Towards the evening he was awakened by a fit of coughing. It seemed as if his whole body were being torn asunder. The coughing was terrible. He had tried to suppress it, but without success.


At last the fit was over, and he lay exhausted. The nurses wiped the perspiration off his forehead. "You must have smoked a lot?" she asked. "Perhaps even yesterday."


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On the table by the bed lay a cigarette-case.


"Throw them out of the window, Nurse. I will never put a cigarette or cigar in my lips again." The nurse smilingly removed the cigarette-case. "Don't forget your vow!"


"I swear it to you and to me." And he thought of the cigar which Inger had taken from him yesterday. It was the very last cigar which Andreas had smoked.


Fresh fits of coughing in the course of the evening deepened his sudden hatred of tobacco to such an extent that the very idea of tobacco filled him with nausea. And this fanatical aversion from the enjoyment of tobacco in every form he inherited from Lili.


Niels was admitted to him for a few moments.


"You're going on fine, what?" he began immediately.


"Oh, yes." More than that Andreas could not bring himself to say. Niels looked at the nurse in astonishment.


She whispered to him: "I suppose you are surprised at the clear voice."


Niels nodded. "I cannot recognize it."


Then he sat on the one chair next to the bed. "Inger sends you her greetings. Otherwise . . ."


The nurse gave a hint. Niels stole out of the sick-room. And Andreas whimpered: "Nurse, give me an injection. . . ." It was not the only one he had during the night. It was an endless agonizing night. Not until dawn did he manage to go off into a short heavy sleep. By the time he was fully awake, about noon, he felt as weak as one who had been wandering through a desert. But the pains seemed to have become more remote.

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Only now and then the question would surge up in his mind, "Who am I? What am I? What was I? What shall I become?"


Soon afterwards Inger came—with flowers and a large bottle of eau-de-Cologne. Flowers! How their scent transformed the sick-room!


"Drench me with eau-de-Cologne, Inger! Sprinkle it all over the room!" he cried, almost beside himself with joy.


Then she sat on the bed next to him and began to talk in confident tones. She, who had previously always addressed him as "you" now used the more intimate "thou". He did not realize until many days later that during these first days she never once called him by any name.


Each day she came to see him with flowers and comforting words. So one day, two days, three days passed. Andreas slept most of the time. No dreams came to him in the long nights, through which he was assisted by sedatives. And every morning Inger was with him with fresh flowers.


One day she brought with her a perfectly magnificent spring bouquet.


"This time you must not thank me. The floral greetings are from a good friend."


"From Claude Lejeune?"


Inger nodded.


She opened the note attached to the bouquet and read:


"Each flower of my bouquet is a greeting to Lili."


For a long time the flowers concealed the
[Page 131]
invalid's eyes, and even Inger could not see that his eyes were weeping scalding tears.


"Will Claude ever find her again?"






Saying which, the invalid handed Inger a card, on which he had scribbled a few lines.


"Did you write this?" she asked.


"Yes, Inger."


"But then she is there already; Claude's Lili. Just look."


He gazed at the card and failed to recognize his writing. It was a woman's script.


Inger hurried out and met the assistant doctor, who was standing in the corridor. She showed him the card: "What do you think of this, Doctor. No man could have written it?"


"No," said the astonished doctor; "no, you are quite right. One thing after another is pushing out."


"One thing after another."


Andreas distinctly heard the words.


And the doctor answered: "Haven't you noticed the voice is completely altered? It has changed from a tenor into a clear soprano."


When Andreas was again alone, he spoke softly to himself. He wanted to listen to his own voice. But drowsiness overcame him and he fell asleep once more.


He woke up suddenly in the middle of the night. A terrible shriek startled him. At first he thought that he had himself screamed. He clenched his teeth. But the screams were heard again. No, he had not screamed. It was like the shriek of a tortured animal. He could not stand it any longer.
[Page 132]
"Someone is being murdered! Help, help!" he cried, and reaching out his hand, pressed the bell. The door was flung open, the light switched on. A nurse stood in front of him. "What is the matter with you?"


"With me?" Once more the screams rang out.


"I was so terrified, Nurse. Is somebody dying?"


The nurse closed the door and drew the heavy felt curtains along. . . . "A young woman has given birth to a child. . . a sweet little girl. . . .I suppose you never realized what a difficult thing childbirth is?"


The next morning Inger arrived early.


"Who do you think is coming in a day or two?" she cried, as she entered the room.




"Yes, here is her letter."


He had to extract the letter from a huge bouquet, and was still reading it when Professor Gebhard, accompanied by the assistant doctor, came into the room.


"Tell me, please, Doctor," exclaimed Andreas, "when shall I be able to get up?"


"Why the haste? You are doing very well here in bed amid flowers and soft hands."


"But there is a hurry, Doctor. In three days my wife will arrive."


"Your wife?" The Professor was taken aback. "All right, then, but have a little patience. Madame will certainly find you somewhat changed."


Then he hurriedly left the room with his companion.


"Did I do anything absurd, Inger? The Professor looked at me with such an amused expression."


"Stupid Lili!" was the only answer that Inger could think of.

Page 133



Three days later Grete arrived early in the morning.


The nurse on duty knew at once who she was.


A few moments later she was in the sick-room.


Grete stood in the middle of the room with outstretched arms, and could not stir. She was struggling with her tears. She wanted to throw him a gay greeting, but sank down sobbing by the side of the bed.


Late in the evening, when she was alone with the turmoil of thoughts and sensations that assailed her, Grete wrote the following letter to their friend in Paris, Claude Lejeune:


"I can only hint at what I have been through to-day. I thought I should find Andreas. Andreas is dead, for I could not see him. I found a pale being. Lili, and yet not Lili as we had known her in Paris. It was another. New in voice and expression, new in the pressure of her hand, unspeakably changed. Or was it a being who is in process of finding herself? No doubt the latter is the case. So womanly and untouched by life. No, womanly is not the right word. Maidenly, I ought to say. Perhaps childish, fumbling with a thousand questions in the dark.
[Page 134]
A 'nova vita'. I cannot find words to express my meaning. I have been shaken to my depths. What a fate, Claude! A fit of uncanny shuddering grips me whenever I reflect upon it. It is a mercy that Lili herself is too weak now to look backward or forward. She is hardly able to realize the condition she is in at the moment. I spoke to the doctors.


"The first operation, which only represents a beginning, has been successful beyond all expectations. Andreas had ceased to exist, they said. His germ glands—oh, mystic words—have been removed. What has still to happen will take place in Dresden under the hands of Professor Kreutz. The doctors talked about hormones; I behaved as if I knew what they meant. Now I have looked up this word in the dictionary and find that it refers to the secretions of internal organs which are important for vital processes. But I am no wiser than I was before. Must one equip oneself, then, with wisdom and knowledge in order to understand a miracle? I accept the miracle like a credulous person.


"What I found here in the nursing-home I would call the unravelling of the beloved being whose life and torments those of us who have shared with him all these many difficult years, have felt to be an insoluble riddle. Unravelling. . . .That's what it is. But the unravelling is not yet finished. I know it, and Lili suspects it. She is not yet allowed to see her lacerated body. It is bound up, and to herself and probably also to the doctors is still a secret which only Kreutz can unveil entirely.

Page 135

"Everybody here, the doctors, the nurses, our friends Niels and Inger, have candidly expressed to me their astonishment at the almost miraculous outward change in 'our patient'—for they do not rightly know whether they ought to address this being as a man or a woman. What is their astonishment compared with mine? They have been seeing the invalid every day. But I, who had been parted from him only two weeks, should have scarcely recognized my beloved husband. And as it has fared with me, so it will one day fare with you and Elena and Ernesto, to whom you must show this letter.


"More than this I cannot write now, except to say that Lili, this sweet new Lili, lay in my arms like—oh, I must say it, because it is the truth—like a little sister, weeping many, many tears, and all at once said to me with a gentle sob in her voice: 'Are you not angry with me'— looking at me with so perplexed an expression—'because Andreas has robbed you of your best years?' Claude, I was too shocked to utter a word—and when at length I could have said what I felt, I dared not do so. Not me, I thought, has Andreas robbed, not me, but you, Lili, my sweet pale Lili, of all your girlish years. You and I, Claude, and all of us, must help to compensate Lili for the fraud which Andreas has practised on her."


Many months later Lili read this letter. Claude gave it to her.


The next morning—Grete had spent the night
[Page 136]
alone in an hotel—the head nurse proposed to put another bed in the sick-room, so that Grete could be near the patient until the departure for Dresden, which was appointed to take place within a few days.


"Splendid!" whispered Grete, delighted, and taking the nurse by the hand she led her into an adjoining room, which stood empty. Swiftly she fetched a trunk which she had left in the corridor, opened it cautiously, and drew out a silk négligée.


"How becoming you will look in it, madam!"


"I? No, Nurse; it is a present from our Parisian friend for our—patient inside. But not a word, please, until to-morrow morning!"


And when morning came it found Lili sitting in the most charming Parisian négligée, still very pale and limp, but nevertheless quite gay, in the white sick-bed. And the assistant doctor could hardly believe his eyes. "Famous! Congratulations, miss! And if you promise to be very good and careful you may get up to-day for two hours and show yourself to your astonished friends. More than this we cannot permit for the time being."


One nurse after another rustled in. Their astonishment was unbounded.


Such was the reception accorded in the Berlin nursing-home to the miracle performed upon this still very fatigued human being, a reception unmingled with curiosity or excessive inquiry; and when Professor Gebhard paid a visit in the evening, he kissed the patient's trembling hand as if it were the most natural thing in the world: "Good day, mademoiselle," he said; "I congratulate you. You are on the right road."

                            (GRETE SPARRE), WITH LILI AS MODEL

Page 137

Then he noticed Grete for the first time. "Ah, madam, welcome."


For a moment the Professor and Grete confronted each other mutely, not without suppressed emotions.


Then Lili broke the silence. "Yes, Professor, this is Madame Grete, who . . ."


The Professor gave a good-humoured laugh. "I know; who was married to Monsieur Andreas Sparre, who has slipped away from us in such a miraculous manner. Men are deceivers ever, madame." And with this happy expression the tension of a difficult situation was relieved.


Lili surrendered herself to all this as if unconcerned, during her first Berlin days. Observers could detect in her scarcely any trace of excitement, but rather a kind of relaxation. Moreover, she avoided replying to any look of astonishment on the faces of others by a word or even a gesture.


"We must leave her in peace," Grete would then say to them in confidence. "She is resting. She is in a kind of transition. She is now getting ready to soar into freedom."


During these days Grete began to keep a diary. Every evening she recorded therein her observations, and the experiences which crowded thickly upon her in the company of the new Lili, in simple, almost fumbling sentences, seeking the way of her friend—this difficult, wonderful way upon which Lili had scarcely ventured to take the first step.


Here is a leaf from the diary that she started:


"Lili bears everything with incredible patience. True, she whimpers every morning, and even
[Page 138]
when her bandages are changed, when fasteners must be undone and done up, and when the still fresh scars are painted.


"'This is all for my good,' she says with a patience which I have never seen her display before. She has only one wish, to go to Dresden soon, to her Professor. She always calls him her Professor, or else her miracle-man. About the past she does not say a single word. It often seems to me as if she were without any past at all, as if she did not yet really believe in a present, as if she had been waiting for Kreutz, her miracle-man, in order to bring her to proper life."


Here is another entry:


"To-day Inger and I did some shopping without Lili knowing what we were about. We must make some preparations for the journey to Dresden. In the afternoon we returned to Lili, bringing with us a big cardboard box. 'Guess what we have brought you,' I said gaily. Lili regarded us calmly, without a smile. 'I don't know.' That was her only answer. Then Inger opened the box. 'Lili . . .' said Inger, spreading out the coat in front of Lili, and showing her the silk lining. Lili looked at the coat, and said: 'But Professor Kreutz will send me away if I appear before him in this attire. He won't recognize me at all.' And her eyes looked so sad. Really, they are always sad, even when she smiles. Andreas had quite different eyes. So had Lili in Paris. I think the eyes of the Lili to-day are not yet quite awake. She does not
[Page 139]
yet believe. . . . Or is it that she will not yet show that she believes?"


On this day Lili wrote her first letter, to her brother-in-law in Copenhagen .




"14th March, 1930.


"Dear Christian,


"It is now Lili who is writing to you. I am sitting up in my bed in a silk nightdress with lace trimming, curled, powdered, with bangle, necklace, and rings. Even my solemn Professor calls me Lili, and everybody compliments me upon my appearance; but I am still feeling tired after the operation and the terrible nights that followed it. Grete has arrived, and has gone out to buy me a warm coat, so that I can travel to Dresden next week. The operation which has been performed here enables me to enter the clinic for women (exclusively for women). And now I feel I have courage for the major operation. A thousand thanks for the cheque. When we leave for Dresden, all letters will be forwarded. Now I can say with a light heart: 'It matters not what pains await me, as I am so happy, and in a few months I shall be quite well, a blooming maiden.'


Your Lili."


"P.S.—I write this letter in great secrecy. Mention the matter to no one."


It was wintry weather in Berlin when some days later Lili, muffled up in her new fur coat, was
[Page 140]
allowed to leave the nursing-home for a few hours for the first time. The Professor had "prescribed" for her an automobile drive. " You must prepare every day now for the long journey to Dresden," he explained. "Get some fresh air, mix with people, gather new strength."


Mix with people. . . . At these words Lili listened attentively. A secret fear assailed her. She did not, however, betray her feelings. Niels and Inger came to fetch her away with Grete, who did not stir from her side.


When Lili was outside the nursing-home, firmly supported by Niels' arm, she was again overcome with fear. She looked as apprehensive as a prisoner breathing fresh air for the first time after a long spell of captivity. She glanced about her timidly, as if she feared that everything around her was a deception.


She hesitated to proceed.


"Come now, child," said Grete softly to her.


"She is proud," laughed Niels, "and, of course, wants to go alone."


"No, no," protested Lili in a frightened voice, "don't let me stand alone. Just a moment more. I must just taste this air once more. This air . . ."


When Lili was sitting in the car, huddled close to Grete, she closed her eyes. "Don't bother about me. I must first get accustomed to all this."


And thus she drove through the roaring life of the Kurfurstendamm, like a somnambulist, silent and self-absorbed.


The drive lasted two hours, and then Grete put the tired invalid to bed again. She was scarcely able to peck at the food that was brought her
[Page 141]
before she fell into a deep slumber, which lasted until the following morning.


About noon Niels called for them both. Lili was in much better spirits. "I shall not bore you to-day, nor myself. I am really anxious to see people."


"Aren't we such?" inquired Niels, amused.


"But I mean strange people—yes, I want to see strange people again."


"A brilliant suggestion," declared Niels, who resolved that they should dine with him, in order to celebrate the occasion. He stopped the car mysteriously outside a telephone-box and descended. He wanted to inform Inger of his intention. And wearing a still more mysterious expression he returned.


In a quarter of an hour they reached their destination. Inger was waiting for the party on the doorstep. She pressed a big bunch of roses into Lili's arms. "Be brave, Lili. Now you will find what you are longing for." And then they divulged to her that in the flat was a young lady from Copenhagen , who knew neither Lili nor Grete, nor—Andreas, and to whom they had announced the visit of "a Frenchwoman imported direct from Paris."


"For heaven's sake!" cried Lili, almost beside herself.


"No contradiction. You must now play the imported Parisienne," declared Inger. "My friend has been told that you understand neither German nor Danish. And she does not understand a word of French. I have told her that you have just had a serious illness, and are still a long way from
[Page 142]
recovery. You understand neither German nor Danish." Niels had already taken the reluctant Lili by the arm: "Go right in, my dear," he ordered, and before she could recover her equilibrium, Lili was sitting in the deep armchair of his study, the same armchair in which Andreas Sparre a few weeks before had confessed the story of his life during the greater part of a night.


Then the door opened and Karen Wardal, a young Copenhagen actress, whom Grete and Lili had known for many years, stood in front of Lili. Lili thought that her heart would burst. Her pale cheeks blushed crimson. Yet nobody observed any trace of excitement in her.


"May I introduce," began Inger with a smile, Fräulein Karen Wardel Mademoiselle Julie Stuart." And then, turning to Grete: "You both know each other already."


"Of course we do!" cried Karen Wardel with enthusiasm. "How is your husband Andreas?"


And Grete explained that Andreas was very well indeed, but, owing to pressure of work, had been unable to leave Paris. Lili sat still, listened unconcerned at the conversation conducted in Danish, and answered every question which Karen asked in Danish, and which was rapidly translated by Grete or Inger into the most elegant French.


The maid announced dinner. Lili was escorted by Niels into the dining-room. The conversation flowed from one language into another, and Lili behaved like a perfect Parisienne, as if she had never heard a Danish word in her life. She accepted as a matter of course Karen's compliments upon her "extremely chic Parisian costume"—this time
[Page 143]
Niels played the interpreter, and in her delight at this extravagant praise of her attire Lili forgot that her hastily improvised wardrobe was not of Parisian origin at all, but had come from a Berlin costumier.


She did not betray herself by even a look. True, she was obliged to bite her tongue many times, when she was on the point of suddenly joining in the conversation conducted in Danish. This comedy lasted nearly two hours. There was a good deal of joking in Danish, and Lili did not laugh until the point of the "Danish joke" had been translated to her in French.


Then she could keep it up no longer. She was tired to death, and begged Grete to take her to her hotel.


She bade a smiling farewell to Fräulein Karen.


"The next time we meet I shall murder the French language," the young actress called after her. "Till our next meeting in Paris; and don't forget, Grete, to give Monsieur Andreas my kind regards."


Niels accompanied Grete and Lili to the nursing-home.


"Well," he said, when they were sitting in the car, "I should not have thought it possible. Now I can believe in miracles!"


Lili sank back utterly exhausted. In silence she let herself be driven again through the roaring city, now twinkling with thousands and thousands of lights. When the car stopped in front of the clinic, Niels had to carry Lili to her room. He bore a sleeping burden.


So ended Lili's first encounter with a strange person.

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"And she did not recognize me," she said sadly.


"But, child," answered Grete, smiling, "that ought to make you glad. Lili, my new Lili, does not know anybody in the world yet. You are starting life again."


It did not yet dawn on Grete that Lili's melancholy was inspired by fear of having no friends.

Page 145



The next morning news came from Professor Kreutz in Dresden. Everything was ready for the patient's -@Editor: PLC reception. If the patient's physical state allowed, the journey to Dresden might be undertaken immediately. But before going it was desirable to pay a visit to Doctor Karner, who had tested Andreas' blood barely a fortnight previously, to enable him to take a test of the patient's blood after the first operation.


Grete read the communication to Lili very slowly, her voice trembling with excitement.


"We will leave to-morrow morning, of course," said Lili.


"Good; but in that case we must call on Doctor Karner to-day." Saying which, Grete hurried out of the room in order to telephone to Dr. Karner's laboratory.


When she returned a few minutes later with the news that Dr. Karner would not be available for another hour, she found Lili standing in front of the window holding Professor Kreutz' letter in her hand.


"Lili, we can start at once. We could walk part of the distance. This will do you good."


"No, no, not walk. I cannot yet show myself in the street." And her eyes filled with tears.


On the way Grete mentioned quite incidentally that the Doctor's assistant, to whom she had
[Page 146]
telephoned, had not understood her name. "It was, indeed, somewhat difficult to make it clear to her."


It so happened that their taxi and Dr. Karner's car arrived at the laboratory at the same time.


"Good day, Doctor," said Lili, immediately recognizing him and extending her hand.


"Good day, madam," answered the Doctor, momentarily surprised, as if he were trying to remember her name.


Lili looked in front of her, then looked at Grete, and at last took courage to say: "I have come from Professor Arn's nursing-home. I am Lili Sparre." It was the first time that she had pronounced her name. She heard herself speaking. A feeling of shame overwhelmed her. "Don't you recognize me, then, Doctor?"


"But of course, madam, of course," answered Dr. Karner, although it was obvious from his tone that he had not the least suspicion of the identity of the person standing before him.


"I understand it is a question of taking a blood test," he continued nervously, and conducted the two ladies through the entrance hall and then into a waiting-room.


"Yes, Doctor; but are you still unable to recognize me?"


The Doctor only became more confused. "Sparre . . . Sparre. . . of course the name sounds familiar. Mr. Sparre was here about a fortnight ago. He too was sent to me by Professor Arns. But I cannot call you to mind, madam."


"The gentleman and I, Doctor, are, in fact, one and the same person," stammered Lili.

Page 147

"I beg your pardon." Completely dumbfounded, Dr. Karner looked from one lady to the other—then looked at his watch, and made a quick bow. "Oh, excuse me a moment—the ladies are foreigners, of course." And he bounded out of the waiting-room.


Beside herself with confusion, Lili looked at Grete. "I think I shall lose my reason."


Grete laughed. "Your doctor is certainly of your opinion. He did not understand a single word of what you told him."


Suddenly Lili began to laugh. "But that is splendid. He too, then, did not recognize me."


A nurse came into the room and requested Lili to follow her. The Doctor was waiting for her in the laboratory, which Lili immediately recognized. He was holding a small instrument, similar to a morphia syringe, a transparent glass syringe. He smiled, still somewhat embarrassed. "Please, madam."


She heard the title ringing in her ears . . . madam.


"Please, madam, will you sit down, and turn up your sleeve above the elbow, so that I can get at the veins. So. . . . Much obliged, madam."


With a distinctness never before experienced, Lili caught every word he uttered. It seemed to her as if the words were floating in the room. Her eyes gazed steadfastly at the syringe, whose needle was boring cautiously into her arm; she saw the glass container slowly filling with her blood, and she fainted.


When she came to herself, she looked around timidly.

Page 148

The doctor was standing by the patient's chair with a smile on his face.


"Have I been lying here long, Doctor?"


"Only a few minutes. Did it hurt as much as all that?"


"Hurt? Oh, no. You must not think that I am usually so bothersome."


"Of course. Mr. Sparre was not either. Sparre; if I understood aright, madam, your husband . . ."


"Mine? Yes, yes." She was so confused that she did not know where to look.


Then the Doctor laughed. "So I did understand you correctly before. The German language is a very difficult language. What you said before sounded very amusing—as if you had said that you and your husband were one and the same person. Ha, ha, ha!"


"But, Doctor—"


"Believe me, madam, even a German utters the most incredible stupidities when he tries to make himself understood in a foreign language. However, to go back to your husband—a stoic of a man, if you like. Now I remember, of course—although he looked ill and exhausted when he sat before me in the same chair that you are now occupying—he said not a word about his sufferings, declined even to hint at them. Instead of this we conversed in the way usual among men here, especially when one comes from abroad, that is to say, about politics, while I was tapping his blood. Of course, I know very well that this cannot be done without hurting, although your husband behaved as if—and really with success—while you, madam . . ."

Page 149

"Please, Doctor."


"But, madam, that is your vested privilege, as a representative of the weaker sex, while your husband is, if I may so express myself as a doctor, a prototype of the masculini generis. . . . "


"My dear Doctor"—Lili now broke into a ringing laugh; she had risen and was staring at him almost insolently—"if you only knew what a lesson you had read me with those words!"


"Lesson?" The Doctor chivalrously leaned over her. "But I have nothing but admiration for you, madam. You allowed the same blood test to be taken unbidden, in the same way as your husband—which, moreover, was very sensible. Only women can really do such things. A pain shared is a pain halved. Have I not come well out of the business?"


"Splendidly, Doctor. And now, good-bye."


"Good-bye; and my kindest regards to your husband."


"Grete, dearest," said Lili, when they were again in the open air together, "I have now got to the point of accepting with calm amusement the comic side of such a situation as I have just been in, without the flicker of an eyelash. If I did not do so, I should either go mad or lose myself."


In the evening Grete wrote in her diary:


"Lili is still trying to find her feet. People do not make it easier for her. By people, I mean the former acquaintances of Andreas."


"Come," said Lili, "now I will take my first walk through Berlin."

Page 150

So they both went from Dr. Karner's laboratory through the bustle of the great city, jostling strange people. It was a fine spring day. The sky was cloudless and softly blue. The air felt like a prolonged caress. The faces of the people they met, Lili noted with gay excitement, had such shining eyes. "Do I look like that, Grete?" she asked many times. And as they strolled arm in arm they often stopped in front of shop windows. She never grew weary of gazing at their display of silks, and she saw her reflection in every plate-glass window. "Grete, tell me, do I look all right in my furs? Do I look any different from you?" And Grete smiled on her. "Child, remember your Dr. Karner—and be glad that we have progressed so far as this."


Lili desisted from her questions, but every now and then her eyes would dart a glance of inquiry. Questions innumerable were stirring in her breast; but she refrained from uttering them. She forced herself to show a smiling face, and whispered to herself again and again: "Nobody knows me and my fate here in the great city. Nobody mistrusts me. Nobody. I can carry my secret about with me in peace. Nobody is betraying me. And it is a bright day with plenty of sunshine."


Really tired, she clung to Grete's arm. "Grete," she said at once, "Grete, you are not ashamed of me?"


When Grete regarded her with surprise, Lili behaved as if something had flown in her eye.


"But what's the matter?"


"Nothing, nothing; we go to Dresden tomorrow, and I am glad Niels is going with us. Sometimes I feel so afraid. I don't know why."

Page 151

This feeling of dread became so alarming during the last night before the departure for Dresden that Grete was obliged to summon the assistance of the head nurse.


Lili wept and wept through many despairing hours. "I cannot . . . I cannot. . . .How can I look Professor Kreutz in the face? He doesn't know me. He doesn't know who I am. I am afraid. I would rather die first." When at length she could weep no more, she lay in her bed, staring in front of her.


A thousand apprehensions assailed her. The railway journey to Dresden, all among strange people . . . the arrival in another great city . . . the way to the clinic . . . more strange people, with curious eyes . . . and then the Professor. How would he receive her?


Lili did not know herself what was going on within her.


Grete had long since packed the trunks, had found time for many cheery words, had talked about indifferent things, while Lili was lying totally unconcerned.


"And to-morrow I shall be with Professor Kreutz, and nobody can help me—nobody." She kept saying these words in a whisper. And when Grete told her that she and Professor Kreutz had only a single thought, which was to help her, and that it was ungrateful to despond just now, Lili only shook her head in a tired way. "Grete, I know better. Nobody can help me. It is much too hard for a tired soul."


In the morning, when Grete was still sleeping—she had not dropped off until very late—Lili
[Page 152]
rose, dressed, contemplated herself, and stole softly, so as not to disturb Grete, towards the not very large mirror which Grete had brought with her and hung over the night table, converted into a dressing-table. She was not pleased with what she saw. Ugly and inexpressive the reflection appeared to her—a dull, tired, anæmic mask. She sat down on a trunk and buried her face in her hands.


"Lili, Lili!" Grete's arms were round Lili's neck. "Now you look like a mother anxious for her child."


"Anxious for her child?" Lili slowly repeated the words. "Yes—for her ill-bred child, as if such a mother could ever be cheerful."


So the day started, and its hours crawled slowly by. Niels was an early arrival.


"Our Lili looks like an officer's miss," he cried, enthusiastic—"haughty and condescending! An incredible phenomenon."


In half an hour the phenomenon will be on its way to its destination, Lili reflected. The phenomenon. And she pulled herself together. Nobody should see tears in her eyes to-day. Nobody. She must empty her mind of all thought. Thus she was driven to the station, with eyes which looked as if they saw. But they saw nothing. In the waiting-room she let herself be persuaded to take breakfast with the others. She was obedient. "To-day I will have no will of my own, Niels; to-day I will do what you both order me."


An abundant breakfast table was hastily improvised. "This spread," announced Niels solemnly, "is to celebrate Lili's departure on her first overland journey."

                  LILI ELBE IN THE WOMEN'S CLINIC, DRESDEN, 1930

Page 153

The waiter had placed a pint tankard of Hofora in front of each. Niels raised his tankard towards Lili, and Grete, the dainty, elegant Grete, raised, not without considerable difficulty, her tankard towards Lili—and Lili was no spoil-sport.


"Skaal, my dears," she said, "or prosit, as we must say here!" And before Niels had clinked his tankard against Lili's, she had taken a generous draught.


"Bravo, bravo!" cried Niels, so loudly that many of the people in the waiting-room looked around them.


Lili immediately put down her beaker. "Please, please don't excite attention." She was stretched on the rack all the time.


Yet she wanted to be gay. Moreover, as she honestly acknowledged, the fresh aromatic beer had a glorious taste. And this refreshing breakfast with crusty Berlin rolls and liver sausage and cheese, a real German morning meal—did not in the least resemble an invalid's diet.


"It makes me feel quite a new being," she confessed. "It tastes like resurrection. If only it gets to that point. Prosit! Long live life!"


When it was time for the train to leave, Lili, clinging all the time to Niels' arm, pushed through the crowd on the platform so quickly that Grete had difficulty in following them. A corner seat in a second-class compartment was found for Lili, while Niels and Grete secured seats opposite to her.


With merry, wideawake eyes, which absorbed every trifle around her like a new experience, Lili rode into her new life.

Page 154

The landscape between Berlin and Dresden is a series of endless, monotonous plains, thinly wooded, and here and there coloured red, white, and yellow by small settlements, villages, townships and towns, broken only by occasional placid brooks and streams—a picture devoid of excitement, a panorama calculated to soothe and lull. Low overhead hung a blue-grey sky, while the fresh morning wind drove golden clouds merrily before it like young lambs just released from the fold. Then a large, bright green rectangle would swim into vision—a winter crop with the ears already sprouting, between silvering willow trees, while a dark islet of cloud lowered spectral overhead. Sharply defined on the eastern horizon was a church tower. Then the sun emerged from a heavy bank of cloud, and flooded the whole world with a golden light. The telegraph wires buzzing up and down in front of the carriage window. A flock of partridges ascending from a dark patch of marshland and disappearing into a silvery birch wood. A signalman's cottage with silver-birch trees and a few fruit trees, stunted and cropped, and fluttering between them multi-coloured washing. A woman pressing her hands on her hips, her eyes fixed on the train, beside her a fair child with a glaring red ball in her hand, and a brown Pomeranian dog squatting beside the child. Shoo—past! The woman's expression was plainly visible. A piece of blue- and-white washing was waving like a flag in her right hand. An unpaved country road curving towards the railway embankment. Two heavy farm-horses drawing a heavily laden cart. The driver lashing out with the whip. The sun gilding
[Page 155]
him and the whipcord and the tin lid of his bowl-pipe, lighting up even the puddles in the deep ruts of the cart-track. Behind a far-flung ridge tower factory chimneys, and white and greenish-yellow smoke-plumes wind into the blue until a breeze breaks them up and they become golden clouds.


Lili's eyes had become the eyes of a painter, and a tremor passed through her. "Those are not my eyes. They are Andreas' eyes. Is he not yet dead within me? Can he give me no peace, then?"


She closed her eyes. She could not understand why she was so afraid to look at, to grasp and to love the world, as Andreas had done. Was it because she feared she would never get on to her own feet, never be loosened from—Andreas?


Grete and Niels had gone into the corridor in order to smoke.


In the compartment there remained two German gentlemen of very correct appearance. The two corner seats by the door belonged to them.


Up till then Lili had scarcely noticed her fellow-travellers. She had kept herself entrenched behind newspapers.


Suddenly one of the gentlemen laid his paper down and the other gentleman followed suit, except that he almost solemnly folded up his newspaper. Involuntarily she looked at him, and he returned her look very deliberately. "Hm!" he grunted at least four times. The other gentleman flicked off some dust, and removed his light-brown, very solid gloves. A thick diamond ring came to light. He cleared his throat again. Lili drew her furs closer about her. She felt the look of the two "lords
[Page 156]
of creation" fixed upon her. She put on a very haughty expression.


"Ahem," said the gentleman next to her. "Do you mind, madam?" She nodded her assent.


He offered her a heavy cigarette-case, inlaid with gold: "It is, to be sure, a non-smoker; but both the other people—ahem."


Lili smiled: "No, thanks."


"Hm!" And the gentleman shut his case with a snap and deliberately put it away in his pocket.


The gentleman opposite unfolded his newspaper.


And Lili looked out of the window.


A little dainty birch wood upon a hill under the sun. Two diminutive mother-o'-pearl clouds overhead, like wings which a child angel had forgotten in play.


Niels had returned, and was again sitting in his corner seat.


"Early spring," he said; "early spring, Lili."


And Grete, who also returned at this moment, repeated the word, "Early spring. . . . I never heard the word Vorfrühling before. A beautiful word. Oh to be out there painting as I used to! . . ."


Then she broke off, avoided Lili's look, and closed her eyes.


For a whole hour they sat thus silent.


In Lili's ears Grete's words still echoed: "Early spring . . . painting as I used to," and she completed the sentence, "with Andreas."


Was it jealousy which was now stirring in her?


No, no; the idea was impossible.


She leaned across to Grete—no one saw it, not
[Page 157]
even Niels, who had fallen asleep like Grete, while the two strange gentlemen were standing outside in the corridor smoking—and laid her hand in Grete's lap. Then she rose and sat next to Grete, laid her head against Grete's shoulder and gazed out of the window again. Ranges of hills were billowing up, growing into small mountains, and new ones kept joining them, dotted with villas. And eventually everything became a confusion of villas and gardens and tenement houses—between which factory buildings reared their heads and streets opened like canals between columns of houses, while the columns of houses became great settlements full of pulsating life. Trams, cars, people, clamouring advertisements on blank walls, a wide ramification of railway lines on either side, trains with an endless line of coaches, a station on the right hand and the left hand, a continuous shuddering of the carriage as it slid rumblingly past the points.


Then the train stopped.


Niels woke up.


"Shall we soon be there?" asked Lili.


"The next station." She awoke Grete.


When the train started again, all three of them were standing at the window. Now they were crossing the long bridge, under which the broad, dark river extended like a glistening velvet ribbon, and Lili saw Dresden's domes and towers and roofs emerge from the shimmering water-surface. Slowly she looked up and saw that it was no phantasmagoria—this magnificent city on both banks of the River Elbe , ascending from the broad valley to green hills and the soft blue sky.

Page 158

She knelt on her seat and stared out and drank in the picture of this place of pilgrimage, longed for so ardently and vouchsafed her in return for so much suffering. And her eyes became too full and too heavy. She closed them, and pressed her hands against her heart. The tears she wept were the soft tears of faith. A feeling of boundless happiness flooded her whole being. "Now I am home . . . now I shall soon be home."


Niels laid his hand on her shoulder. "Child, child."


"It is only for happiness, Niels."


Grete was standing beside her. She could find no word to utter, but many tears to shed.


How Lili got out of the compartment, how she made her entry into Dresden in a taxi-cab, she could never afterwards remember.


It was a long drive. Soon the streets of the city lay behind them, and they were traversing the residential districts. They passed a block of tall buildings, then suddenly the cab turned round a corner. Slender, white, gleaming birch trees raised their filagree-fine branches above a garden wall, behind which towered a grey, solemn, massive block of buildings, comprised of many houses.


"Stop, stop!" cried Lili. "Here we are!"


The next moment the cab stopped in front of a porch, which bore in large letters the inscription:




"How could you know that?" asked Grete and Niels, as they were helping Lili to alight.


"I felt that it must be here," answered Lili
[Page 159]
very faintly. "Help me a little, so that I can walk. It was such a long, fatiguing journey."


When they stood in front of the porch and rang the bell Lili was pale as death. She heard the pealing of the hospital bell, and it seemed to her as if she was hearing the sound of her own heart.


A white-clad nurse hailed them from the window of the porter's lodge. "Private patients' ward? Straight through the garden, please." By this time it was late afternoon. A soft, subdued light from a watery sky flooded the large garden. Lili led the way. She was home at last.

Page 160



Standing at the entrance door to the private clinic was an elderly white-clad nurse, who was embracing a lady. This was Lili's first impression of the Women's Clinic, and this impression remained.


The elderly nurse was the Matron. She was bidding farewell to a patient.


Then she received the three foreigners with great cordiality, and ushered them into a long hospital corridor. Twilight had already set in, and through the glass panes of a large folding-door at the end of the corridor fell a soft sea-green shimmer, which was reflected on the polished floor and the many white-lacquered doors.


"The Professor will be with you in a moment," said the Matron.


Near the large folding-door were a few armchairs and a small table, illuminated by a lamp, where a doctor in a white smock was conversing with two ladies.


Grete seized Lili's hand. "That's Professor Kreutz," she whispered.


"You are mistaken, Grete," said Niels. "Besides, you have never seen him. Surely he is only an assistant doctor."


"Grete is right. It is Professor Kreutz," whispered Lili with a trembling voice.

Page 161

While he was conducting the two ladies to the office, he remained standing a moment and greeted the newcomers with ceremonious politeness, after which he requested them to sit down.


They all seated themselves about the round table. Lili had relapsed into silence. White-clad nurses came and went and said good day. But Lili had eyes and ears for nothing.


Only when the door of the office opened again and the two ladies were ushered out by the Professor, did she become wide awake.


The Matron made a sign to them, and Niels took Lili's hand. Grete remained sitting in the armchair.


Two months before Professor Kreutz had seen Andreas in Paris on a single occasion. Now Lili stood in front of him for the first time. The Professor led her into the office, and then went out again to welcome Grete.


Lili, who had suddenly become very calm, looked about her in the room. It was a large apartment and might have been a study or an operating-room. In front of the large window, which gave a view of the birch trees in the garden, stood a chair for patients, and in front of one wall was a writing-desk, full of papers. Everything in the room was dazzling white.


When the Professor returned, he sat down opposite Lili. She began to chat about her stay in Berlin. Suddenly he interrupted her with a question. His rather stern face broke into a smile.


"Did Professor Arns acquaint you with the result of his chemical and miscroscopical examination?"


"No, Professor."


"Well, then, I can tell you the welcome news
[Page 162]
that all the examinations gave the most favourable results. Everything confirms our assumption."


She breathed again. She was relieved of the necessity of explanations.


She listened to his peculiar velvety voice. A feeling of happiness stole over her. The Professor spoke so sympathetically about everything that affected her that she grew courageous, and suddenly began to relate her experience with Dr. Karner in Berlin. But when she looked up she gazed into Professor Kreutz' eyes, those eyes that were light and dark at the same time, and her words died on her lips. She could not utter another syllable. It flashed upon her that Andreas had been able to talk quite freely to the Professor in Paris. Why could she not do so?


Professor Kreutz regarded her inquiringly, and waited for her to proceed with her story. When, however, she failed to do so, he broke the silence.


"I really intended you to come into the private ward immediately, but, in a most unexpected fashion, every bed is at the moment occupied. This is, perhaps, just as well, as we must wait a little before the operation is performed. I am looking out for a pair of particularly good glands for you."


At this realistic argument Lili shuddered. She did not know where to turn her eyes. She was overwhelmed with shame, and utterly embarrassed.


The Professor seemed hardly to notice this, for he continued calmly:


"Besides, it will do you nothing but good to spend a few days in the hotel, and see the town and our museum. Moreover, you could do some painting. You will find plenty of subjects here. Such a distraction should be most beneficial to you."
[Page 163]
At these words Lili seemed to lose all her moral support. The idea of not being immediately received into the clinic, but stopping for days in a strange hotel, appeared to her as monstrous as an undeserved punishment. She wanted to beg the Professor to be allowed to remain there, she wanted to rebel against his decision. She looked imploringly at the Professor, but could find nothing to say except:


"Very well, Professor."


This ended the interview. The Professor held out his hand, and went out of the room with her to Grete. He mentioned an hotel in the vicinity of the Women's Clinic and bade her good-bye very formally.


Utterly disconcerted, Lili met Grete. She felt as if she had suffered a disastrous defeat. A single glance of this man had deprived her of all her strength. She felt as if her whole personality had been crushed by him. With a single glance he had extinguished it. Something within her rebelled. She felt like a schoolgirl who had received short shrift from an idolized teacher. She heard the Professor's voice ringing in her ear. She was conscious of a peculiar weakness in all her members. She stood there as if in a fog and apprehended nothing. But later, when she recalled this moment, she found an explanation: it was the first time her woman's heart had trembled before her lord and master, before the man who had constituted himself her protector, and she understood why she then submitted so utterly to him and his will.


The hotel which Professor Kreutz had recommended to them was situated in a wide square
[Page 164]
surrounded by trees, and had a garden. It was a quiet, select establishment, and was scarcely ten minutes' distance from the Women's Clinic.


A large light room which overlooked the square was assigned to Lili and Grete. Niels installed himself in another room. They were heavy, oppressive days which Lili had now to endure. She could not understand why she could not be immediately received into the clinic. She was almost convinced that Professor Kreutz found her unsympathetic and that she had a repellent effect upon him.


Grete wrote down in her diary:


"Lili is utterly despondent. She thinks the Professor sees in her nothing but a female impersonator, that is to say, Andreas. She imagines that she has an ugly and disagreeable appearance, and that every normal person must be repelled by her. She weeps perpetually. We have gone out on a number of occasions, but, dominated by her fixed idea, Lili thought she could read in every glance of the passers-by a confirmation of Professor Kreutz's aversion. It goes without saying that we foreigners should attract attention here in Dresden, but she blames herself entirely. She is indignant because the Professor suggested that she should do some painting in the interval. That was the worst thing he could have said. Everything that relates to Andreas is detested by her, but especially painting."


In order to break right away from Andreas, she must, above all, avoid practising his most characteristic activity. "The Professor ought to
[Page 165]
have known this," said Lili, "or else he intended to convey that he saw in Lili nothing but an impersonation of Andreas."


The following day Grete wrote in her diary:


"Niels was certainly quite right when he said that what the Professor is now doing with Lili is nothing less than an emotional moulding, which is preceding the physical moulding into a woman. Hitherto Lili has been like clay which others had prepared and to which the Professor has given form and life by a transient touch. Up till now, he thought, Lili's femininity has been only superficial, not yet completely wholly genuine. By a single glance the Professor yesterday awoke her heart to life, to a life with all the instincts of woman. The more I ponder over this, the more heartily I agree with Niels. Lili is now silent and completely wrapped up in herself. True, she still weeps softly to herself at times; but those are the tears of nostalgia. She does not know herself what is happening to her, and I can do nothing more than assist her with encouraging words and patience."


The next page contained the following entry:


"Lili said to me last night: 'It is certainly unjust of me to think bitterly of Andreas, but sometimes I am obliged to think of him, and then I do not quite know what to call him. I think I must call him my dead brother, and to this I must get accustomed. So much so that I cannot any longer realize that he and I have dwelt in the same body and this this body now
[Page 166]
belongs to me alone.' Then she said: 'Perhaps I am the murderer of Andreas, and this idea tortures me fearfully, as I surmise that I shall perhaps be of much less value than he. He was a creative person. He was a painter, with a long record behind him. And just because of this I am afraid of wanting to achieve anything. For if I should really once paint and then perceive that my performance fell below his, this would completely upset me, and I would commit suicide!' Suddenly she said: 'Grete, I see in front of me the clothes of Andreas which we left behind in Berlin. I see every article of clothing. And I think of them at night. And I am afraid to go to sleep again, lest I should dream that I was slipping these clothes on."'


Thus a whole week passed. A deep melancholy hung over Lili, and this melancholy deepened into an icy horror when one morning a number of letters from Copenhagen, addressed to Monsieur Andreas Sparre of Paris, arrived from the Women's Clinic. She would not even touch the letters. Even Grete was not allowed to read the letters. Niels had to burn them. And now Lili was convinced that she would never be able to enter the Women's Clinic.


"The letters have made it impossible. Let us disappear from here," implored Lili without tears, firmly resolved to efface herself in silence. Then, like a release, came news from the Women's Clinic that a room was now free for Lili, and Grete went with her the short distance to the hospital.


The next day Niels returned to Berlin.

Page 167



Many times Lili tried to recall the first moments she spent in the Women's Clinic, and every time she felt again the infinite peace which had then settled upon her distracted spirit. A ray of hope, which, like a Bachian hymn, was carried by angel voices to an invisible vault.


All anxiety and unrest fell away from her. Her own life appeared to her of secondary importance, and so valueless. An obscure feeling inspired her with devotion, a feeling of participating in something new and great, something that transcended everything that came within the range of ordinary experience. A white sick-room, brightened by the green reflection from the garden. A white bed. Upon a white table mysterious shining instruments and forceps under a glass case. An odour of ether and formalin over everything. Visits from the Matron, a well-preserved motherly woman in white nurse's uniform with starched white cap on her silver-grey hair. Now and again, penetrating through the folding-door a muffled noise, gradually dying down—the sound of invalid carriages rolling past. And in the white room Grete. Now and then soft voices and footfalls. The door is opened, a slender figure in a white coat enters, and remains standing in the room.


Of this first visit of the Professor Lili retained
[Page 168]
only an almost musical recollection. A voice. A vision. What he said to her faded right out of her mind. But from the moment he stood before her in the white sick-room, all her burdens slipped away. And her whole being was flooded with assurance and joyous hope.


Lili went out under the birch trees in the large garden and waited. The Professor had told her that everything would be ready for the operation within a day or two.


The white trees gleamed silvery upon the shining green borders. Their branches stood out against the grey, quivering atmosphere as if bathed in a reddish sheen. Here and there hedges and bushes with their branches still bare. Silky catkins on the few willow trees, and here and there yellow buds. And many seats along the paths. White-clad sisters resting after lunch greeted Lili and Grete. And in the middle of the large garden a bevy of young, pregnant women. They were laughing joyously and happily, and in their blue hospital clothes looked like big crocuses just sprung up.


"Lili," said Grete, "now I understand the beautiful German word 'fore-spring'. Everything here is so full of expectation."


Then a slender man in white overalls hastened across the park to the septic station. An assistant doctor followed him, and a whisper flew from mouth to mouth: "The Professor." All eyes were riveted on him, and everything seemed to stop for a moment.


And then the turret clock of the clinic struck. Six o'clock. It was time to return to one's room. The park was already dark. Arm in arm Lili and
[Page 169]
Grete went slowly into the large house. The lights were burning in the broad, white corridors. Young nurses in white uniforms, with white, tight-fitting caps, were bringing the patients' evening meal. Down below, in front of the Professor's room, stood the Matron. Suddenly his voice sounded through the open door, and Lili shuddered. In a fright she drew Grete with her round the corner into the corridor whereon her room was situated.


"What's the matter?" asked Grete.


"Hurry," whispered Lili, breathless, and slipped into her room. An inexplicable fear had gripped her at the sound of the Professor's voice. Once again she felt like a schoolgirl! The next evening, when Lili was put to bed, she was subjected to all the ceremonies that precede an operation. And Grete sat beside her to offer encouragement. The Professor had already intimated in the morning that if a young woman who had to be operated upon the following day possessed suitable ovaries, the transplantation should be effected forthwith. Excited and happy she bade Grete farewell this evening. She lay awake for hours and stared into the white room. The night-lamp diffused a subdued light. Nurse Hannah, young and pretty, sat beside her, conversed with her, placed a sleeping-draught on the night table, and then softly disappeared.


Lili did not take the sleeping-draught. She was afraid of sleeping too long. She wanted to be wide awake when next morning, her great morning, came.


Not another sound was heard from the corridors. Everything was drowned in the silence of the night. Lili's thoughts were suffused with gentle light.
[Page 170]
It seemed to her as if she no longer had any responsibility for herself, for her fate. For Werner Kreutz had relieved her of it all. Nor had she any longer a will of her own.


And suddenly she thought of the past, of Paris. Yet the next moment she fled from this recollection. There could be no past for her. Everything in the past belonged to a person who had vanished, who was dead. How altogether different from her Andreas Sparre had been! Now there was only a perfectly humble woman, who was ready to obey, who was happy to submit herself to the will of another.


The turret clock chimed again. She heard it many times that night.


When the first streaks of dawn came stealing through the curtains, Lili was already wide awake. It was six o'clock, and at seven o'clock sister Hannah came in and prepared her for the operation. Then there was a long, tedious wait, during which she hardly dared to move. She strained her ears for every step in the corridor, every sound that penetrated thence, and every noise; but nobody stopped outside her door. Had they forgotten her?


At length the Matron came into the room and conveyed to her the doleful news that she must wait yet a few days longer, as the invalid in question who had been operated upon had "yielded no suitable material" for Lili.


Disappointment and suspense would have brought her to the verge of tears if the Matron had not informed her at the same time that she was to be allotted a new room which had a large window overlooking the garden and a sunny aspect.
[Page 171]
And when Grete arrived a few minutes later the removal to the new room was immediately begun.


Again they strolled arm in arm through the park of the Women's Clinic . How quickly everything here had become familiar to them, even the white-clad nurses, whose morning greetings they gratefully acknowledged! And Lili smiled happily on the young pregnant women in the crocus costumes. Now and then young doctors passed, and they too wished her: "Good morning, madam."


Lili was happy. Here she was walking quite naturally like a young woman among other young women. She was a creature without any past. Had she ever looked any different from now? She smiled. Then suddenly she saw Andreas in her mind's eye, how he had regarded charming and elegantly dressed women in Paris, and had almost envied them their elegance. How dull and insipid, he had often said, was male attire! Now all this was past and over—obliterated as if by a gesture of her master, her creator, her Professor. There was no longer an Andreas; he could never return. Now between him and her stood Werner Kreutz. She felt secure and salvaged.


Here in this little state within a state men ruled with absolute power, with the Professor at their head. The Matron was the single exception. In spite of her maternal benevolence, she was a very decisive lady, whose energetic profile under the silver-grey hair might recall the Bourbons in their splendid period. Her personality compelled respect—she was the only person in the Women's Clinic who enjoyed, to a certain extent, the confidence of Werner Kreutz.

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One morning she intercepted Lili and told her that it would certainly not last much longer. Perhaps to-morrow, perhaps the day after to-morrow, the operation could be performed.


"Tell me, Matron," asked Lili abruptly, "why are really healthy ovaries removed from a woman?"


"But, Miss Lili," answered the Matron, "it would take too long to explain this to you, especially as you do not possess the necessary anatomical knowledge to understand it. But be easy in your mind, the Professor knows what he is doing. Leave everything to him. Moreover, you need not have any fear, as your operation will be quite a minor one."


Lili laughed.


"I have no fear at all, Matron. In Berlin I was also told that it was only quite a minor operation which was to be performed. And subsequently I learned that I was nearly an hour and a half on the operating-table. Whether this new operation is dangerous or harmless does not bother me in the least. I have not come here to die. Of that I feel certain. I could have done this without the help of the Professor."


The Matron drew Lili close to her. "You will be very pleased to know, Miss Lili, that the new ovaries which the Professor proposes to ingraft upon you will give you new vitality and new youth. The woman who is to be operated upon is, in fact, scarcely twenty-seven years old."


Lili's voice trembled with excitement. "Is it really true, Matron, that the age of a woman is determined by her ovaries? Is that really the decisive factor for a woman?"

Page 173

The Matron patted Lili. "How curious you are! But if you don't believe me, you can ask our Professor."


"Yes, of course. Why have I not done so long ago? I will ask him this very evening."


But when the Matron asked on the following morning whether the Professor had satisfied her curiosity, Lili felt very ashamed. "No," she said; "I forgot all about it."


The Matron lifted her forefinger and laughingly threatened: "Why not say quite honestly that you did not dare to do so!"


"No, I did not dare to do so," confessed Lili.


"It needn't make you blush, my dear Miss Lili. Why should you be any different from the other women in the hospital?"


Two days later Grete filled many pages of her diary. This was the day on which the great operation was performed on Lili. And the night was far advanced when Grete wrote:


"At nine o'clock this morning I arrived at the clinic. The Professor had told me yesterday evening that the operation was to take place to-day. Cautiously I peered into Lili's room. Lili lay in a white night-dress in her white bed. She was quietly sleeping. She had been given a morphia injection. I cautiously retired to the long corridor, where nurses were waiting for the Professor. Nurse Margaret came out of the board-room, wheeling a table on castors, with ether bottles, cotton-wool, and instruments under glass cases. The Matron appeared and cast a searching eye over everything: The head doctor
[Page 174]
and a number of young assistant doctors came out of the operating-theatre. Everybody spoke softly. A strange stillness reigned in the broad, white corridor. A greenish light drifted through the high window, through which could be seen the still bare trees of the park, and, lit up by the morning sun, the wing in which the Professor's quarters were situated. A covered gangway connected the first storey with the main department of the clinic. Thence all eyes were directed.


"'Now we are still waiting for the Professor,' said a little nurse to me in a whisper. I could scarcely control my agitation, and stared continuously out of the window at the Professor's quarters.


"Suddenly there was a movement among the nurses. Involuntarily I seized the little nurse's hand. Everything around me was in commotion. I saw the Professor approaching the clinic with rapid steps, and the next moment I heard him greeting everybody with a polite, 'Good morning'. He was very ceremonious and unapproachable, even towards me, although we had always been on very friendly terms. I did not venture to address him, nor even to follow him, when, in company with the head doctor and the Matron, he disappeared into Lili's room. He resembled a general on the eve of a decisive battle.


"Minutes passed. I stood by the open door looking upon the garden. The morning sunshine streamed in. I was no doubt very pale. The air was of spring-like warmth. A few birds were singing in the trees. A golden haze hung over them, and a soft wind blew in, smelling of grass
[Page 175]
and earth and mingling with the strange, all-penetrating hospital odour. Then the door of Lili's room was opened a little, and a hand was put out. Sister Frieda, who was standing in front of the door, hastily took a bottle of ether from the movable table, handed it in, and the door noiselessly closed again. Soon the sickly smell of ether escaped from the room and penetrated everywhere. I felt as if I were going to faint; but I pulled myself together.


"An endless time seemed to elapse, and then the door opened again. The Professor and the Matron came out. The Professor took my hand and looked into my eyes. 'Don't worry,' he said softly, and disappeared to make further visits. The ambulance was pushed out of the door, followed by two nurses. Underneath a white covering lay Lili. I could not recognize her face. . . it lay under the ether mask. Then the white procession disappeared along the white corridor into the operating-theatre. How long would it last? I kept saying to myself: Don't think, don't think. What are they doing now to this poor creature? In what form will Lili be returned to me? How cheerfully she looked forward to this moment? A miracle was to be worked on her. Would it succeed?'


"Restless, I wandered out into the garden, and strolled along all the paths of the great park, but could find no peace. Went back to Lili's room. All the windows were open. The spring sunshine was flooding the room. But I could not stop there. Finally I sat down in an armchair in the corridor and waited. There I was able
[Page 176]
to see everything that was going on. It was so quiet. Now Lili was lying under her Master's knife. No, I was not afraid. I believed in him, as Lili blindly believed in him, as in a higher Power. And I thought of this man, whom I had recently tried to paint.


"And now I realized how all my powers had been bent upon an effort to retain this masculine head in a portrait. What power radiated from this strange person? Here in this Women's Clinic was a god, whom all feared, whom all revered. In what did his power consist? And I recalled his face. Was it really handsome? No; strange, rather. No feature of his face was really handsome. Everything, even the eyes, were irregular. And yet a striking harmony characterized the whole, a force, an emanation of force. For days I had tried to capture this face, to retain it in many hasty sketches. I knew all his attitudes, all his movements. This armchair had been my daily observation-post. Opposite his office. I knew precisely the time he came and the time he went. His visiting times, and his promenades through the rooms.


"I closed my eyes in order to collect my thoughts. I saw distinctly the slender back of the Professor in the long white overall. I saw him in my mind's eye, as he would throw back his head with a sudden jerk. I saw him as he would advance towards me, his hands outstretched and a stern smile playing about his lips. Every time I had seen this smile I had felt as if I must weep. I had seen so many men— smiling, handsome men, important men, and

                     LILI ELBE, THE WOMAN, AS SHE WAS
                            COMPLETELY TRANSFORMED FROM EINAR
                                WEGENER (ANDREAS
                                SPARRE) THE MAN, Copenhagen, OCTOBER 1930

[Page 177]
others. This weeping, this fear, all this emotion had nothing to do with my heart. I knew that. For I had never for a moment been in love with this man. And yet how often had I cried myself to sleep, thinking of him! Yesterday, in the centre of the town, among strange people, I had a vision of this smile. And it flashed across me that I would gladly sacrifice my life for this man.


"But why, whence came this feeling? And then I told myself that I was only one of the many who believed in this man through the mere force of belief, who believed in the helper in him through their belief in some kind of helper. As I now sat here in the armchair in the white corridor I realized that my feeling for this man was nothing less than the feeling which Lili cherished for him in the deepest recesses of her heart. With her it is certainly still slumbering, for she is as yet merely a vague being. Vorfrühling: early spring! This word suddenly sounded like music to my ears. Would Lili really see it?


"I was still sitting with closed eyes when suddenly the door of the operating theatre was flung open and Werner Kreutz was standing in front of me . . . still in the indiarubber apron. His gait was tired. He held out both his hands and gave me a broad, benevolent smile. I only heard his words: 'Everything has passed off well.' I clasped both his hands. And I could only stammer: 'I thank you.'


"Not until a few hours later did I learn what had happened inside. To find words in which to put it is unspeakably difficult. A whole human
[Page 178]
life which I shared with another floats before me as I write these words. A human being who was born a man, who was my husband, my friend, my comrade—has now become a woman, a complete woman. And this human being was never intended to be anything but a woman. Like a sacrificial animal he has been dragged along with me for years until this German doctor brought him help! And to-day this human being has laid here bleeding under the knife of his helper. His body was opened, and disclosed a state of things which the craziest imagination would hardly have considered possible. The body of this human being contained stunted and withered ovaries which were not able to develop because an inscrutable Fate had also given him the others, the male germ glands. This secret of existing as a double being, hitherto divined by no doctor, has only been unveiled to-day, after Werner Kreutz had guessed at its existence in Paris, and like a wizard deciphered it.


"I can find no other words with which to express my meaning. And now this poor creature, so heavily handicapped by Fate, has had removed from its body what had formed such an obstacle, thus enabling it now to develop as its blood had dictated for years, namely, as a woman, and it has been equipped with unimpaired female germ glands from another, a strange and quite young creature. Then this tortured body was sewn up again, and now nothing more is left, not a particle is left of my life's comrade and fellow-wayfarer—Andreas. He is the dead brother of Lili, who now lives, of the woman who has
[Page 179]
shared flesh and blood with him for almost a lifetime.


"But the thought which haunts me is that though Andreas may now be extinguished, and though Lili may have risen like a phœnix from the ashes, yet in the world outside Andreas is still living in the eyes of the law, and I am his wife. Who is capable of grasping this horror, this fantastic idea, this unique happening? She whom it concerns most nearly, Lili, is still lying lulled in the mists of merciful morphia.


"What will life now bring her? Will the miracle of the doctor, the miracle of his art, be great and strong enough to be perpetuated in Lili's life? All of us have been instruments of this fate. I not least. For it was I who many years ago enticed Lili out of Andreas, in wanton play, as a chance masquerade! And it was I who continued playing this game with Andreas, until what had been play became earnest, most mysteriously earnest. But I must not think of this now; I cannot help thinking of the one person who never really believed in Andreas, but only in Lili, Lili's most intimate friend, Claude Lejeune. What will he think when he sees her again?"


There is very little that Lili can remember of this day, which henceforth she called the day of her proper birth. When she opened her eyes for the first time, she saw a few sunbeams stealing through a rift in the drawn window-curtains. Then her eyes closed again and she slept long and heavily. When she awoke again, it seemed as if
[Page 180]
she had been dreaming. Here, to the left of her bed, in front of the window, she had seen the silhouette of the Professor, and beside him the head doctor. The Professor had asked something. Good! "Have you a good bite?"


She had answered with a humble: "No, Professor," suppressing with difficulty a smile.


And then the Professor had ordered: "Count. Either in Danish or French, just as you like."


She had started counting in German: "One, two, three," when an ether mask had been slipped over her face. She found it difficult to breathe. She went on counting: "Four, five, six, seven." The counting became harder and slower. When she came to eighteen, she felt as if she were suffocating. She heard the voice of the Professor: "Twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two . . ."


His voice sounded above her like the ticking of a clock, ' which grew louder and louder, until everything became one continuous buzz and she lost consciousness. Was it a dream?' Or had she been stupefied? But why had they left her lying here so long without operating upon her? Until she had awakened with this unpleasant ether taste in her mouth? "You haven't any bite?"


She heard this question again. But the smile gave way to a terrible pain. With a shriek she opened her eyes. The Matron was standing beside here, smiling to her and whispering: "You've come through all right. It went off splendidly. Now everything is going on well." But her eyes had already closed again, and she was sleeping. When she was awakened again by pains which became more and more acute, Grete was standing
[Page 181]
beside her with a bunch of red tulips. A nurse came in, gave her an injection, and she went off to sleep again. Once the Professor stood beside her, held her hand, and said something that she did not understand. But she saw his eyes, and with a drowsy feeling sank into oblivion again.


That day and the night which followed it were passed in the mists of morphia. When she awoke, the pains were there, but a sister was also beside her with a morphia syringe. She was conscious of acute thirst. Moist cotton-wool was laid upon the parched mouth. But the injections of morphia caused even thirst to be forgotten.


Thus morning came. Everything had really passed off very well, and peaceful, natural sleep soon enfolded her again. The following days stole by softly and mistily. If she was attacked by pain, it was repelled by narcotics. If she opened her eyes, she would stare in front of her as if astonished at everything that had happened to her. Gradually she became accustomed even to the pain; she told herself that these pains were the price to be paid for what had been bestowed upon her, her own life, her woman's life. The prospect was fair and hopeful. Her white room in the Women's Clinic seemed to her like an earthly paradise. The Professor was the guardian of her paradise. Morning and evening he stopped for a few moments by her bedside. Between these visits all was expectation.


Grete was always at hand during these days. From the door leading to the garden she painted the white birch trees and the garden paths. If she saw the Professor coming, she would hurry back to Lili.

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It was only of the nights that Lili was afraid. Then Grete was far away, and the flowers which she had brought had been removed from the room. Flowers had also come from Paris, from Elena, and from Claude. And letters—these letters were the sole companions of her long, long nights. And the turret clock striking the hours. And . . . the pains! They started almost regularly every night. Her bed would then become a glowing oven. She would lay there bathed in perspiration. The Professor had ordered her to sleep; but she was to have no more morphia. Other sedatives were administered to her; but they were effective only for a few hours. Then she would lay awake watching for daybreak.


And the day became fair again, and again there was the feeling of blissful expectation. She listened for every footfall—she had long since been able to detect the footfall of her helper amidst all other footfalls. But he did not always stop at her door. Other patients had need of him. Then she would wait patiently until her turn came. Here in the clinic everybody was waiting for the Professor. Everybody had to share in him, and each woman received her share, even if it were only a tiny share. When he smiled she forgot all her pain. Sometimes he was strict, and then she felt a mystical fear of him. And she divined that he behaved quite differently towards her than towards Andreas. He never hinted at the past by so much as a word. Was she only Lili for him? Sometimes she felt a craving to ask him about it, but she never dared to do so.


And for hours she would lie there and ponder
[Page 183]
over this oft-recurring question. She felt as if he had deprived her of her will. She observed how he sought to evoke her feminine impulses by being alternately mild and stern. Had he not deliberately provoked an eruption of all the primitive instincts of her womanhood? She felt the transformation proceeding with every new day. It was a new life. It was a new youth. It was her own youth that was seeking to liberate itself. And she lay there, believing.

Page 184



Spring, the great miracle-worker, also came to Lili's assistance. Yet she must still pass many days chained to the bed, in the white sick-room. But with each new day her life became healthier. The pains departed. Everything took a normal course. The Professor was satisfied. She was still utterly exhausted. And hence it came about that she lay as if wrapt in a coma, and she spent most of the day absorbed in herself and dreaming. The world outside did not trouble her. She was hardly aware of it. Newspapers and books which were brought to her she left untouched. She had only one wish: that nothing should ever be different, that she could always remain here, in the peace of the Women's Clinic. And when the thought sometimes occurred to her that the day would come when she would have to go forth into the world outside, beyond the park wall of this large, quiet house, she was assailed by overwhelming fear. Thus she developed a desire to remain here as a nurse, to build up her strength in order to be able to help other women once she was well. Now and then she broached the matter to Grete or to the Matron, or the other nurses, who merely nodded. Once she asked Grete if she might not speak to the Professor about it. Grete thought she might. But immediately a
[Page 185]
fresh fear welled up in her. "If he should say no! Perhaps I shall not be strong enough. Perhaps he will tell me that he did not save me for this. . . ." And Grete had no answer.


During many long nights Lili's fear of life outside sought refuge in another peaceful thought. Could she not enter a convent, become a nun? She fell into reveries of remote, secluded convents somewhere in Italy, Spain, or South Germany. No one should know there whence she had come and what a destiny had been hers. No one. . . . She would weep for hours for fear of the life outside, of this life which seemed to her like an enemy. There her secret would be rudely unveiled, and she would be regarded as a phenomenon. Her fate would be the subject of vulgar gossip; she would be stared at, and she would not be left in peace. And the healthier her body became, the more vivid became her fear of her future among people. Yet she no longer dared to speak about it to others.


At length the morning came when she was allowed to leave the sick-room for the first time. Lying back in a bath-chair she was pushed into the warm, sunny April morning, into the middle of a soft green garden. It was her first untrammelled, happy day. She was like a newborn babe. All her senses were fresh and full of wonder. She saw every insect which fluttered in the blue sunny air and every flapping of wings from tree to tree. The scent of the little yellow pink-and-white spring flowers of the hedges and borders held a new message for her. And with attentive eyes she regarded a magnolia tree holding up its large, glistening buds to the sunny air. Upon a branch
[Page 186]
sat two young birds huddled closely together. Lili closed her eyes. A soft wind played about the white birch trees. The spring soil smelt sweet and warm. The birds twittered.


To keep her eyes shut, only to listen, only to smell. More than this she could not do. In this posture the Professor found her. "You look very happy," he said, and patted her hand.


"My life is your work," she reflected. "And I should so much like to thank you for the first spring day of my life, because you were merciful to me. I believe I am the happiest creature in the world." But all this remained unspoken; she felt it only in her heart.


"You look happy," said the Professor, and she merely answered:


"Yes, Professor."


Many happy spring days came, and at last the day also came when she could be lifted out of the invalid's chair and walk a few steps in the garden on Grete's arm. Everything was as before, and yet everything seemed so changed, she thought. And on all the paths she saw again young, pregnant women, like blue crocuses, as she thought, smiling.


One morning, before she had strolled out into the park, Grete and the Matron came into her room and handed her a sealed letter, which had come from Berlin. She opened the letter, and a profound emotion overwhelmed her. A few weeks before the Professor had told her that he would assist her to confront the world for what she was, a woman. He had promised her to write to the Danish Embassy in Berlin . Now she took from the envelope a passport, her own passport with her
[Page 187]
own photograph, and upon the passport was written the name which she had chosen out of gratitude to the city where she had found peace and life itself: Lili Elbe.


She sank into the chair and said very softly: "Leave me alone now for a little while." Grete and the Matron understood and went out. For a long time Lili remained sitting very quietly on the chair. She then went softly and diffidently into the park, and sat on a seat which was flooded by sunshine. This little booklet, her passport, she held like a valuable present in both hands. It was the last day but one of April. In two days it would be the first of May. Andreas had kept his promise. He was dead, and she was alive—Lili Elbe.


So the Professor found her. He sat down beside her. Not a word was said. The next morning he came again, and his voice was softer than usual. His rather stern face beamed with benevolence. He held her hands and spoke many hopeful words to her. Lili knew that in a few hours he would depart, and be away for several weeks. She pulled herself together and tried to thank him for all he had been to her. But she could not utter a word. When he had gone she felt utterly lost. Only one thing gave her consolation: that she was allowed to remain in this asylum which he had given her, and that she might here await his return.


He was leaving for the South.


A few days later everything had become lonely and empty. Easter was over and Grete was saying good-bye. She was obliged to return to Paris for some time. It was a Monday morning. The car which was to take Grete to the station stopped
[Page 188]
on the drive in front of the hospital. Lili went with her to the vehicle. It was the first time that Lili had ventured into the world without, beyond the park wall. When Lili returned alone through the park, it was some time before she realized whither she was going.

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Letters passed from Lili to Grete in Paris and from Grete back to Lili. The whole city was bathed in spring. The patients spent many hours on the banks of the broad stream which Lili had seen for the first time a few weeks before when she came from Berlin. How the world and her life had changed since that day! Lili mentioned this in every letter she wrote. They were mostly cheerful letters, breathing serenity and the blitheness of spring. And the letters which Lili received from Paris brought none but joyous news and many cordial wishes. Grete often conveyed greetings from Elena and Ernesto. From Claude came treasured words. Hardly a day passed without bringing a message from friends to Lili. And hardly a day passed but that Lili wrote gay, confident words to her friends. Days and weeks went by quietly, without Lili asking a question.


All her burdens seemed to have slipped away. If she could only stay here always! Never go away from here! That was her daily prayer. And so she forgot her fear. She felt invulnerable against all adversity. She was like a piece of ground that was cleared for the first time. And when of a night, at first shyly and then with increasing confidence, she contemplated her body, she experienced a sweet secret joy. For she saw all her members
[Page 190]
either swelling or tightening, and how miracle after miracle was working in her. And in these nocturnal hours, quite alone with herself and her joy, she could stand in front of the mirror and gaze at the picture of her young woman's body. It gleamed back at her immaculate from the silvery sheen of the mirror. Yet she dared not confide in any creature upon earth the happiness which she felt in these silent hours. Not even in her letters.


"6th May, 1930.


"Dearest Grete,


"How changed is everything here in the private ward! Formerly the days were passed eventfully enough, or in the expectation of events, and now nothing happens any longer. On the day of your departure the Matron was called to Berlin on family business. During her absence—which will probably last a week—her place will be taken by Sister Margaret.


"Every day sees the departure of women who are cured. And fresh patients come. There are now three of us in the private ward, and we are sunning ourselves outside in the garden, in invalid chairs on the lawn. There is a fair little lady, still very young, whom I like very much. She looks most attractive. We smile at each other now and then from a distance. But that is all up to now. I do not like the garden any longer. You have gone. And the Professor has gone. What shall I tell you? I don't know. An oppressive silence reigns here now. Even in my room I walk about softly, as if I feared to
[Page 191]
disturb the silence. Everything seems to be wrapped in the magic sleep of the fairy tale."


"8th May.


"Thanks for your letter. It was such a distraction. I am glad that you have fallen into the way of your work again.


"I have made the acquaintance of the little fair lady. When one of the doctors was passing yesterday—we were lying in our chairs out in the garden—we suddenly looked at each other and smiled. So it began. And then we started chatting. It transpired that she is half a Dane, her mother coming from Denmark. She said: 'I guessed at once that you are a Dane, from your long slender legs, just like mine. They are the Northern speciality. I inherited my legs from my mother.' And then she proudly showed me 'her Northern speciality'. How glad I am to have once more a person with whom I can converse! The nurses have nick-named her Mrs. Teddybear, on account of her woollen cloak, which she always wears in the garden. Then she said: 'I think we have the same figure. We could certainly wear the same clothes and shoes.' I think so too. Unfortunately she is not yet allowed to go for a walk, otherwise we should have gone into the town together. She has to undergo an after-treatment, which will take some time. The third lady, Mrs. Teddybear told me, is an opera singer from North Germany . She is supposed to have undergone a difficult operation.


"I read newspapers, which tell me what the
[Page 192]
weather is like with you in Paris and on the Riviera, where the Professor now is. Have you given Claude my greetings?"


"9th May.


"Everything here is still wrapped in magic slumber. We hear nothing of the Professor. Nobody knows when the Matron will return. Early this morning a fourth lady joined us in the garden, a young woman who has just had a child.


"Mrs. Teddybear and I have become close friends in the meantime. She has poured out to me her little overcharged heart. She and her husband are not on good terms. She hears almost nothing from him. Yesterday she showed me in her room a portrait of her husband. I believe she is very sad. The poor thing! She is scarcely twenty years old. Suddenly she asked after—my husband! I had to pull myself together, for I must not betray myself. And so I merely hinted that matters were much worse with me, so bad that I could not speak about them. Then she did not ask any further questions. She only looked at me very sadly. Her eyes glistened with tears. And I was in no better case. And then we smiled again.


"I am so glad that she has given me her confidence. She is the first woman to pour out her heart to me in my woman's existence.


"We are now inseparable. With the nurses I stroll about the garden. In the evenings we walk through the streets a little, to look at the passers-by. Yesterday afternoon I went with
[Page 193]
Sister Frieda as far as the Elbe. Then we adjourned to a little café and ate cakes. My first proper walk."


"10th May.


"To-day I am able to tell you something amusing. The young lady who had a baby has a dear old mother who comes daily and always stays a long time. Yesterday in the garden she nodded to me in a friendly fashion, and this morning, as I was lying in the invalid's chair, she came to me, gave me her hand, and asked sympathetically: 'How are you, little woman? I suppose you too have had a baby?' I was embarrassed. But that lasted only a moment. Then I said evasively that I had undergone two operations. Probably the old lady did not hear very well, or misunderstood my answer. I had spoken very softly. And do you know what she answered? 'Two babies?' No, that is really too much for you!' I had to keep a straight face. If the Professor had heard that!


"If Mrs. Teddybear asks me, what shall I say? It is no joke to be in my shoes."


"11th May.


"The head doctor has a delightful little ape, with whom he often strolls in the garden. It is the dearest little creature. I want to ask him if he cannot take it with him when he makes his round of visits. He is very amiable. I have got quite accustomed to him. He told me this morning that I was now looking very robust. I feel quite well in myself. How happy that made
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me! I should like to look really pretty when the Professor returns. Half his holiday has now expired. You will soon meet him in Paris.


"I am now going for a short walk with the opera singer. Yesterday we made each other's acquaintance. She speaks French quite well."


"12th May.


"Yesterday I exerted myself rather too much during the walk with the opera singer. We had again gone to the Elbe. The weather was glorious. She told me about her operation. Then we talked about the Professor. She said: 'You can have no idea how much I envy you. You will be allowed to remain in the clinic a long time, but my stay is nearly up. It is so lovely and peaceful here. Unfortunately I am very cowardly, as I am afraid of pain. I would rather die than be operated upon again. I admire your serenity. Your operations must have been very serious, and yet you are expecting still another. . . .'


"I had to smile cordially and even a little proudly. I said: 'Ah, one gets accustomed to everything.' You ought to have seen her horrified eyes!


"And so we went on chatting without noticing that we had forgotten to turn back. I had become very tired. The singer simply had to drag me along. At length we got back to the clinic. In future I will be more careful.


"Then I must tell you about a conversation I had yesterday with a friend of Teddybear . She was a pretty, elegant, and interesting woman, only somewhat—learned. She is a doctor here
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in Dresden. No doubt Mrs. Teddybear had told her something about myself. We chatted in a very animated fashion about unimportant things. I laughed a good deal. I affected a superficial and careless demeanour. That was all very well in its way; but I had provoked the doctor's displeasure, Suddenly she said: 'You are a hundred per cent woman.' That sounded very sympathetic. 'How do you make that out?' I inquired with a smile. 'You are very coquettish and your head is full of nonsense. I believe you would like the lords of creation to tyrannize over you. But perhaps you achieve more by your methods than we modern women. What we have to fight for you achieve in a twinkling by means of a few tears. You seem to me like a female type of a vanished age.' I laughed saucily. 'And may I ask what this vanished female type is like? I am extremely curious to know.' The lady doctor looked at me a moment before answering very scornfully: 'Women like you are best suited for a—harem.' What do you say to this psychoanalytical diagnosis? When you see Claude, you must tell him. The Professor too. I laughed till I cried.


"Teddybearkins has given me an exact description of her operation. In her room she showed me the scars it had left. She also inquired about mine. I had to pretend to be downright stupid, as if I did not know why I had been operated upon at all. Dearest, dearest Grete, and yet it is so lovely to be a woman here among women, to be a female creature exactly like all the others. . . ."

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"14th May.


"Dearest of all.


"Yesterday the head doctor visited me with his little ape. It immediately installed itself on my table. Some salad had remained over from lunch, and this was given the little animal. How well-mannered it was, to be sure! His master was very proud. After the meal it washed its paws in a little bowl which I pushed towards it. I had to laugh heartily, and I can do so now without feeling any pain. Isn't that fine? This is a sure sign that everything is healed up. The head doctor then said that I was now so well that I could recuperate in some sanatorium. I declined emphatically. 'The Professor wants to operate on me again!' He looked serious for a moment. 'All right,' he then said, and smiled; 'but that will only be a minor operation.' Well, I said nothing, but thought the more. I know these minor operations.


"I am so excited over your letter. Perhaps you know when the Professor returns. Here no one knows anything. The nurses think that the Matron will be back to-morrow. Teddybearkins is now permitted to take walks. She is coming for me in an hour's time, and then we will take a stroll through the clinic."


"15th May.


"So the Professor will be in Paris in a few days' time? Then he will pay Elena a visit. What things have happened since January, since Elena's last conversation with the Professor! Then she was with him in the company
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of Andreas. It hardly bears thinking of. I am trembling all over. Isn't life wonderful? It is lovely. I have become so credulous, so credulous . . . and so grateful . . . and so full of hope.


"I keep reading your letter over and over again. My heart is thumping until it feels like bursting. You will soon see the Professor! You will be there when he talks to Elena! If only I could be there too! I console myself with the thought that he will soon be here again. Then I shall feel saved once more. No one here is allowed to witness my excitement, or to learn what is going on in my mind. It is hard, but it is also splendid. Now I shall count the days and soon the hours . . . and then the Professor will be here again. You will certainly understand my longing. What should I be without him? I owe my whole life to him."


"15th May.


"You will get another letter to-day. The Matron is now back again. How glad I am to see her benevolent, motherly face every day! The whole of the private ward is now undergoing a great spring-cleaning. Everything smells of soap, soda, polish, and new curtains. The clinic is getting ready for the return of its lord and master. The nurses skip along so swiftly that their white skirts look like bellying sails in the wind. Ilse—the little maid who waits on me—is polishing the lock of the door in my room. Everything is shining and sparkling. And she herself glows like one of the newly opened roses in the garden. Later on I shall
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take a little walk in the garden with Mrs. Teddybear. It is so sunny there now. The birds are twittering the whole day until late in the evening.


"The opera-singer has now left us, but a fresh lady has already arrived. She has a stern face. She has come here for her confinement. Teddybearkins says it will be a girl. Hence it will not be born until the Professor is back. Boys make no bones about getting born, but girls can only come into the world with the help of the Professor. Her logic is very amusing."


"17th May.


"The white birch trees are now casting long shadows. The sun will soon disappear behind the clock-turret near the Professor's balcony. The bright red blossoms of the magnolia tree—you know it—give off a heavy scent. I am overjoyed! I am lying in the chaise-longue -@Editor: PLC, in the centre of the garden, and writing to you. It is my Garden of Eden. Soon the Professor will be here again. The rhododendron bushes under his balcony are in bloom. Like great lilac flames they gleam between the fir trees. I have to keep looking and smiling at the balcony. The turret clock is striking six. The thought suddenly occurs to me that you, Elena, and the Professor are now talking to each other in Paris. Perhaps you will be with Ernesto and Elena this evening. My thoughts try to flit through space to you. It is a strangely quiet hour around me. When was I so glad as I am to-day?


"The Matron had said that the Professor will probably be here in the morning. No,
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I stated definitely, not until the day after to-morrow, and I looked very mysterious. She looked at me astonished. She was not aware that I had received a letter from you.


"What a scent from the magnolia tree! The whole of spring is contained in its fragrance. A petal has fallen on my chaise-longue. The magnolia tree wants to send you greetings. You shall have the petal. I cannot write any more now. I will only think, in blissful silence, of you and my happiness."


"19th May.


"He came this morning.


"I had made myself as pretty as possible. At first I dared not leave my room—until it became intolerable. I crept along the corridor and spoke to one or two nurses. Suddenly the large folding door opened behind me, and in a trice the sisters disappeared. . . . I stood alone . . . as if nailed to the floor, and could not move.


"'Good morning,' I heard a voice say behind me. My knees trembled. He came towards me, embraced me, and regarded me with a smile. 'You look fine,' he said. I had to lean against the wall, to avoid swooning. I stammered a few stupid words; but he had already disappeared. And what did I do? I went back to my room dejected, and wept. Somewhat later the Professor came to me in the course of his rounds. I had calmed down again and was quite rational; I could listen with composure and without trembling. He told me about you and Elena. He also said that you would soon
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be coming to Dresden. Splendid! Splendid! He brought a small parcel with him from Elena. It was wrapped in a green silk band. And what did it contain? A perfectly ravishing night-dress! The Professor smiled when I showed him Elena's present.


"You see how correctly I guessed? About six o'clock in the evening of the day before yesterday you were together. My feelings did not deceive me!


"Now I am waiting impatiently for your letter. I hope it will tell me everything that the Professor has told you about me. I feel very exhausted—of the joys of this fine day. Joys, too, consume strength. I do not as yet possess such a terrible lot."


"20th May.


"An hour ago I received your dear letter. I have read it many, many times. I am so glad! The last operation is now imminent.


"The Women's Clinic has awakened from its fairy-like sleep. What activity reigns here once more! Only you are now absent, else everything would be as it was before. Since yesterday many fresh patients have arrived, and the Matron has her hands full.


"My little friend, Mrs. Teddybear, left me yesterday. The 'stern lady' has had her baby—it was a girl.


"I must break off now. The Professor is passing, and my heart is beating violently.


"I must first get used to the idea that I shall now be seeing him daily. We have had to live
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without him three long weeks. It does not matter if I have no longer any friends.


"Ilse is bringing me breakfast. I am not allowed to breakfast in the garden under my magnolia tree. Life is so wonderful! To be able to stay here always! It would be too lovely!"


"22nd May.


"I could not write yesterday. Teddybearkins visited me. It was delightful, although I did not believe that she came exclusively on my account. Then—think of it—I went out alone. Alone for the first time. I am now allowed to do so. I bought various things: silk stockings, powder, confectionery, and the like. How delightful it is to be addressed as 'madam'! You must not smile when you read this. I have also bought some lipstick. 'Take these, madam; guaranteed kiss-proof,' declared the shopkeeper. I bought it with a smile. When I told the Matron about this, she also smiled. Then I wondered to myself whether my smile was not somewhat melancholy. I saw the little shop assistant in my mind's eye. For her it is certainly desirable to use kiss-proof lipstick. But for me? No, no, no, what am I saying? It would be best to delete this passage.


"I have received a delightful letter from Elena. She too mentioned a conversation with the Professor about my new operation. I did not understand everything she said. Should I ask the Professor? It would not come easy to me. He has a strange way of making me submissive.