Translation of Fra Mand til Kvinde: Lili Elbes Bekendelser (Danish Edition)

[Title Page Facsimile Image] [Copyright Facsimile Image]


                  LILI ELBE

Fragment of a letter, written by Einar
                        Wegener on 29 January 1930. The handwriting, as you will see, is firm and clear, a distinct man's writing.
Fragment of a letter, written by Einar Wegener on 29 January 1930. The handwriting, as you will see, is firm and clear, a distinct man's writing.

Fragment of a letter, written by Lili
                        Elbe on 14 June 1931. The handwriting has changed and is now a flowing, rather feeble woman’s writing.
Fragment of a letter, written by Lili Elbe on 14 June 1931. The handwriting has changed and is now a flowing, rather feeble woman’s writing.

[Foreword Facsimile Image]

In accordance with Lili Elbe's last will I have collected the papers she left behind in this book.


It is a truthful, human document about a harrowing human tragedy that is beyond the scope of all customary ideas.


The doctor whose daring operations made it possible for the critically ill and desperate Einar Wegener to carry on his life in complete harmony with his true nature has read through the book in my German version -@Translator: MO.


As requested by Lili Elbe fictitious names have been used for the persons she mentions.


Only her own name, which she chose in gratitude to the city where she changed from man into woman -@Translator: MO and where she died, she has wished to leave unchanged.


Copenhagen , November 1931.


Niels Hoyer

Page 7



Paris. Quartier Latin. An evening in February 1930. In a quiet street with grand mansions – a small restaurant.


The host, François, is a Sicilian and serves the glowing wines of his home country. A small circle of foreigners most of whom are artists are his regular customers.


Among them are Andreas and Grete Sparre, a Danish painter couple, and their Italian friend Ernesto Rossini with his elegant French wife Mrs. Elena.


They celebrate a reunion tonight. For a whole year they have not seen each other, they have been travelling, one couple in Northern Europe, the other in the South. All four are pleased to meet again in Paris.


"Skaal," Andreas says according to the Nordic custom and raises his glass, "this wine, children, is to the soul what mountain sun is to the body ...... Do you know the beautiful legend of the Cathedral in Seville -@Editor: PLC Grete and I have been there together ...... It's said that a ray of sun is built into in the base of the highest of the pillars."


"Magnificent," Ernesto shouts enthusiastically.


"Heavenly," Elena declares and Grete smiles quietly to herself.


But the festive mood does not last long. Andreas is pale and nervous, and he speaks loudly and forced.


"Aren't you drinking too much?" Elena asks him in a low voice ...... "What's the matter with you? It's no use that you pretend that you're well. You can't fool me ...... You're not well at all."


Ernesto and Grete have caught Elena's words and Ernesto takes his friend's hand.


"Is it Lili who still torments you?" he asks full of concern and looks from Andreas to Grete.


"Your guess is right Ernesto," Andreas answers very grave, "this condition is becoming unendurable. Lili no longer tolerates sharing her life with me, she wants to live her own life ...
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I don't know if you understand me? I'm no good anymore, I'm finished ...... Lili has discovered that long ago ...... and that's why she rebels more strongly every day ...... and what am I to do? ...... why must I live? For others, people say ...... but only fools think that they're indispensable and irreplaceable ...... But let's not talk about it ...... let's rather drink a bottle of the fiery Asti that Elena is so fond of."


"Yes, that's a good idea," Elena declares and looks after Andreas who gets up wearily and walks to the counter where François lords over his bottles and watches over his guests with his gentle mandolin eyes.


"Please hurry up and tell me how he is," Elena says as she leans towards her friend.


"Terrible," Grete answers, "I've given up any hope of salvation for him ...... That would require a miracle."


"Strange that you should use just that word," Elena quickly interrupts her ...... "You know, it is strange that we should meet just tonight after such a long time? ...... Ernesto and I should have been somewhere else, but I had a feeling that we had to be together ...... I told you so, Ernesto, didn't I?"


Ernesto nods in assent.


"Listen to me ...... sit closer to me," Elena continues in a whisper ...... "one of our very good friends is here in Paris just now, he's a German, from Dresden, and he's a women's doctor ...... I had no idea that he was here, but just after I'd been on the telephone with you he called me and at that very moment it occurred to me that if anyone can help Andreas it's him ...... But it's urgent for the Professor will return to Germany already tomorrow afternoon. We have to arrange a meeting between him and Andreas tonight.


With a tired gesture Grete dismisses the optimism shining out of her friend's eyes:


"Dearest Elena, it's no use ...... Andreas won't see any more doctors, he has had enough of them ...... Just think how many he has seen already!"


"Just let Elena do what she thinks is right," Ernesto interrupts serious and earnest.

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"Yes Grete, don't contradict me," Elena eagerly says, "whether he will or not ...... he must obey us ...... This very evening I'll call the Professor and tell him about Andreas. I feel, no, I know that he can help him, do you hear, my dearest!"


Grete slowly lights herself a cigarette. She always does it in a very complicated way, almost as if it were a religious ceremony. She is not aware of it herself. Her big grey eyes which quite dominate her delicate, fair face have taken on their peculiar introverted gaze. She blows the blue smoke up into the air and stares into it. Then she takes a new puff on the cigarette, blows out the smoke once more, and stares again. Then she slowly and decidedly says:


"That's fine, Elena, go ahead and speak to the German professor. I've heard about so many mysterious things in this world and it's possible that there may be something in it. I think I have been infected by you, Elena ...... Ordinarily I'm not superstitious ...... but I promise you that I'll persuade Andreas ...... He'll be at your place tomorrow morning."


Apparently Andreas had finished his negotiations with the host and they hastened to talk of something trivial. He came over to them with two bottles which he carried like a prey in front of him.


"Here, friends, taste a wine that will remind you of the Cathedral in Seville – it is rays of sun on bottle!"


"Si, si, Signor," Maestro François seconds from his counter.

* * *


When Grete and Andreas some hours later, after they had placed Elena and Ernesto in a car, walked slowly down the avenue where they had their studio apartment, she cautiously but earnestly began to tell Andreas about the appointment with Elena.


He became quite beside himself. In the middle of the street he stopped and stamped both his feet in a puddle like an ill-mannered boy without considering that it spattered up on Grete's silk stockings. He called all the stars of the night sky to witness that he wanted to see the German professor hanged! And Elena too for that matter! ...... He did not intend to make a fool of himself by letting himself be examined by a new quack, whether he was from France, from Germany or from Hindustan! ...... He had had enough of these bloodsuckers, of these charlatans ......


Grete let him rage ...... she knew his fits from experience.

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... But when, after a moment's pause to breathe he wanted to start again, she grabbed him by the arm:


"Now, that's enough! ...... Are you a man? You are behaving like a hysterical teen-age girl. You should be ashamed of yourself, you understand!"


Andreas who was shaking with agitation looked down at Grete with his dark eyes and forced himself to joke:


"All right, I won't say any more, but I promise you that ten wild dray horses would not drag me out of my lovely, wide Louis-Philippe bed to see a professor who is a total stranger to me. ...... I will no longer let myself be made a fool of!"

* * *


Andreas has long since fallen asleep.


But Grete is still awake, she sits with her legs curled up under her in the big bed staring intently at the sleeper ..... She knows how serious things are with him, but now in the oppressive stillness of the night she becomes afraid. She thinks and thinks ...... Is it right for herself and her friend to persuade the poor shaken person who is now sleeping as quietly and safely as a child? Her conscience will not leave her in peace. Elena said that the German doctor was a famous expert in his field ...... But if he cannot do anything anyway then it will be the death sentence over Andreas ...... then she knows what will happen ...... And yet ...... perhaps it is the miracle, the miracle that her life companion, her friend through the good and the bad days, has more and more ardently hoped for.


She thought of what a Russian lady, one of the many Russian refugees in Paris, a seer , had recently foretold them. It was just after one of the last desperate visits to a Parisian specialist and Andreas was completely devastated. "Your husband must go to yet another doctor, one he does not know, then everything that he wants will come true," she had said and looked at Andreas with her dark, prophetic eyes.


Should this prediction be right? And could her own instinct fail her here where so much was at stake? She had a feeling that all her courage, now that it was about her
[Page 11]
sick friend, had left her. ...... She was afraid to make a mistake, afraid to take the great responsibility upon herself ...... afraid ...... afraid ...

* * *


Andreas had already been ill for many years and they had sought countless doctors and specialists but without result. Now he was tired and life had become an agony for him.


No one had understood what was the matter with him. A specialist in Versailles had accused him offhand of being hysterical and advised him to pull himself together and behave like the normal man he otherwise was. A closer examination he considered to be completely superfluous, there was nothing wrong with the patient, he just suffered from the fixed idea that he would be perfectly healthy if ...... And that's enough! ..... A younger doctor, also in Versailles, had admitted, however, that not everything was as it should be and had then comforted him with the following words: "Never you mind what happens to your body ...... otherwise you are entirely healthy and have enough strength to ride it out." Only a Viennese doctor, a friend of Steinach -@Editor: PLC, had been on the right track in his diagnosis. "Only a bold surgeon who is not afraid of anything can help you," he had said, "but where is he to be found?" ...... A radiologist had subjected him to a very energetic X-ray treatment that had almost killed him. Then Andreas had plucked up his courage and contacted three different surgeons in succession, but they had all three refused to have anything to do with him. The first one had declared that he did not concern himself with cosmetic surgery, the second just examined his appendix to see if anything was wrong, and the third thought that Andreas was completely mad. Most people would probably agree with him on this because Andreas claimed that in fact he was not a man at all – but a woman.


Andreas had realised that only a doctor with imagination, a doctor who was not only a scientist, but at the same time also an artist, would perhaps be able to help him. But he had long since given up the hope of finding such a doctor ...... And he had become tired, tired unto death ...... He had decided to end his life himself and he had set the date. It was to be the first of May ...... when you are ill and tired, you do not have
[Page 12]
the courage and strength to meet spring ...... Now it was February – already February ...... March and April were the last respite, but he was calm and prepared, he had made up his mind, he was resigned.


The only thing that pained him was the thought of his lovely little wife, the faithful friend of his life.


Grete Sparre was a very talented artist. Her pictures of beautiful, languishing women with dreamy eyes and burning red lips that called for kisses and caresses interested him much more than his own paintings. Her art seemed exciting and stimulating like a smell from Paris' jungle ...... it was an expression of the time and still full of passionate submission ...... pure in its line as a legacy from Botticelli -@Editor: PLC and the other primitive Italians, but often with a tone of painful longing, reminiscent of Watteau -@Editor: PLC ...... It was as if suddenly, in the middle of a Parisian salon, you heard the distant echo from Pan's flute.


Perhaps just because their marriage had been a companionship right from the beginning they found life easy and comfortable to live only when they were together. They were inseparable. They had met each other at the academy of arts in Copenhagen and they were barely grown up when they had married. Bravely they had taken up life together. A few days after -@Editor: PLC the wedding Andreas had sold his first picture at his first exhibition for fifty kroner.


As artists they had helped each other, always and under all circumstances ...... Shoulder to shoulder they had fought for their art and one of them would not dream of abandoning the other ...... Most of the time they had lived abroad, especially in Paris, and this life out among strangers may have connected them even more closely ...... at least they had been spared living in the atmosphere of superficiality, irresponsibility, and divorces that is spreading over Copenhagen.


But for this very reason there were often moments when Andreas felt like a traitor to Grete when he still more willingly listened to the tempting music of death ...... But now he had realised that he was no longer able to work ...... and this realisation comforted him. He thought he had the right to give in to his longing towards death before it had come so far that he weighed on Grete ...... the thought of this had for months taken all
[Page 13]
joy from him ...... no, he was not cowardly ...... nor did he feel as a martyr ...... but to become a burden to his little friend, no, this he would not!


Grete guessed his thoughts and although she did everything to reassure him and give him new hope, she felt that it was in vain ...... She knew him inside out ...... there was so much that tied them together, so many fights, so many memories, both bright and dark ...... and perhaps most of all Lili ...... Lili? ...... Yes ...... For Andreas consisted of two beings: of a man, Andreas, and of a woman, Lili ...... you could also describe them as a couple of twins who both at the same time had taken possession of the same body. In character they were very different, but gradually Lili prevailed over Andreas so that you could always trace her in him, even when she had withdrawn into the background – but never the other way around. While he felt tired and went around with his thoughts of death, Lili was perky and cheerful and longed to come out of her shell, like a larva that dreams of once having wings and becoming a colourful butterfly.


Lili had become Grete's favourite model. Her slim elf figure walked through all of Grete's best works ...... She had already become a type, a modern type of woman, created by the imagination of an artist ...... as everything new on this earth.


Grete felt like the protector of this carefree and helpless Lili. And Andreas felt the same ...... While Lili hated him because he was in her way, Andreas loved her more than himself. It was his hope that he would die so that Lili could wake up to a new life before life had had time to disfigure their shared body.


When the fatigue after the sleepless, painful nights overwhelmed him he had only the one thought left: to fall asleep for ever!

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When Grete woke up some hours later after a broken sleep her fear had disappeared and her decision remained firm. In her dreams she had seen a tall figure of a man in a white doctor's coat and with a strange, rather stern face – whom she did not know – softened by a smile expressing infinite goodness. The man held out both his hands towards her and she grasped them with deep gratitude.


She woke Andreas, spoke to him kindly and explained to him that he, if for no other reason than out of politeness, had to go to Elena. There he could always think of some excuse if he still disliked the idea of going along to the German professor so much ...... She said it quite calmly and in a tone as if she did not attach much importance to it in order that he should not raise objections.


An hour later Andreas was on his way to Passy where Elena and Ernesto lived. He found them still in their huge four-poster and he sat on the edge of the bed next to Elena. A tempting tea table was wheeled in and with a smile refreshed from the night's sleep Elena displayed all her charm. Before Andreas knew it he had given in.


"As far as I am concerned you do not have to go there, darling," she chatted away apparently indifferent, "but now that you are here, I suppose you will give me the pleasure of escorting me to the Professor ...... He's awfully anxious to see me ...... Isn't it so, Ernesto?"


Ernesto nodded.


"He's a big celebrity you must know, Kreutz, is his name and he expects me punctually at twelve o'clock ...... You have to be present, please, because Ernesto does not dare to leave me alone with him – he's much too enchanting ...... Isn't that true, Ernesto mio?"


Ernesto nodded again and Andreas bent over his friend's
[Page 15]
hand and kissed it citing his motto : Ce que femme veut, Dieu le veut! -@Editor: PLC ......

* * *


On the stroke of twelve Elena's vehicle stopped outside a noble palace from the eighteenth century. She rang the bell and while they waited, Andreas took her hand:


"Elena, there's something I want to ask you. He's famous, isn't he? ...... But what if he ...... I don't really know how to express this ......"


Elena looked gravely at her friend who was quite pale with emotion:


"What is it? ...... Just say it, what are you afraid of?"


His eyes glistened with moisture, and he finished he sentence:


"I'm afraid that he will regard me as a sad renegade because ...... I would rather be a woman than a man."


"No Andreas, you needn't be afraid of that, I assure you."


And Elena put her soft woman's hands around his head, raised herself on the tips of her chapin shoes and quickly gave him a heart-felt kiss on the mouth. Steps were heard inside, and she hastily withdrew. A servant opened the door and before they had been announced, a tall slim gentleman came towards them. He was in a dark close-fitting suit that gave his tight elegance an almost military quality. His hair was brushed back and lay like a dark, shiny mass, while the small short-trimmed moustache had a light blond tone.


When Andreas later tried to recall the features of the Professor's face from his memory, he always only remembered the eyes, a pair of grey-blue deep-set eyes that were both light and dark at the same time and whose look had a strange captivating power.


It was Professor Werner Kreutz.


Andreas felt his heart beating and while the Professor with a somewhat ceremonial cordiality led them into a large salon and exchanged a few words with Elena, he realised for the first time that German is a beautiful and musical language ...... Really a strange voice this German voice, he thought to himself, it sounds
[Page 16]
so curiously muffled and yet as if accustomed to command – and to meet with unconditional obedience.



As in a dream he heard Elena tell the tale of his own sufferings to the Professor ...... He could not think and he sensed nothing but this voice. It was as if he had come completely in its power, it was both light and dark, just like the eyes ...... this look and the voice penetrated deep into his soul.


What would this voice say to him and what message did the eyes have for him? ...... A death sentence ...... Did he expect anything else? ...... Did he expect anything at all? ...... Had he even come here with a specific goal? No, he wouldn't ask, just wait – and listen.


Suddenly he was brought back to reality, the Professor was standing in front of him, but he barely looked at him and only said a few words. Andreas followed him into the next room, apparently the Professor's study, where he asked his patient to undress. Andreas obeyed like a sleepwalker, he no longer had any will ...... he wanted to say something and searched for the German words.


"I need no explanations," the Professor interrupted him, "you feel the pain here, don't you ...... and there ...... and there, too ...... isn't that right?"


He let his hand slide over Andreas' body, and Andreas was content to smile, shy and timid ...... he felt an almost frightened surprise. How could this stranger know where he felt his pain? And his surprise rose to amazement when the Professor took a pile of photographs of Lili that Elena had brought him and placed them before him on the table in the order in which they were taken.


"There we have the development," he said quite naturally ...... "I hear that a radiologist has given you an X-ray treatment ...... and that without having made any chemical or microscopic examination. ...... It is impossible to say whether he has damaged your sexual glands, that is the possibly present female glands ...... it will only become apparent through a closer examination."


"Female!" Andreas uttered the word as a scream – "so ...... I have ......?"

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He did not get any further ...... he could hardly breathe from excitement ...... everything revolved around him in a whirl.


"Yes, most likely," the Professor continued dryly and matter of factly, "the fact is that I assume that you have female as well as male organs, but that none of them have had the opportunity to develop fully ...... it is fortunate for you that you feel like a woman to such a pronounced degree ...... therefore I believe that I can help you."


Andreas clutched at his heart. He had leaned forward to be as close as possible to the words the stranger said to him, and he stared fixedly into his eyes to find further confirmation of the words.


"And what should I do?" he stammered.


The Professor got up and walked a few times up and down the floor:


"You must come to me in Germany, and I hope that I can give you a new life and a new youth."


Andreas straightened up and struggled to get the words out:


"That means that Lili ..... she will be allowed to live?"


"Yes," Professor Werner Kreutz answered, "I will do the operation myself, and I will give you a pair of fresh female sexual glands, and in a short time you will have a new vitality that can bring you out of the standstill that occurred in your development at the age of puberty. But first you have to subject yourself to various examinations in Berlin. Then you can come to me in Dresden."


Andreas still sat quite entranced as Elena, whom the Professor had fetched, came up to him and maternally patted him on the cheek.


"That will be quite something for Lili to go into the famous Frauenklinik ," she jokingly said to hide her emotion.


The Professor looked at Andreas with a youthful and slightly embarrassed smile:


"May I be permitted to make an indiscreet question? ......You are married, aren't you? ...... Yes, I only care to know, what is of importance to me as a doctor ......"


"I think I had better go," Elena discretely added, but Andreas seized her hand.


"No, Elena, don't go ...... I have no secrets from you ......"

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The Professor came to the aid of both of them:


"I can put my question in another way. What is the position as regards for instance ...... yes, I have heard the name Lili several times ...... that is with Lili and the other sex ...... I mean, are men interested in her? -@Editor: PLC"


"Yes, I should think so Professor," Elena answered him laughing, "it is simply incredible what attraction this little naughty person has for our male friends ...... I have been at several carnivals where Lili was playing her game and where she at last was like a hunted animal. Isn't it true, Andreas?"


Andreas silently stared in front of him, he could neither speak nor smile.


The Professor had become objective again:


"What you are telling me, madam, quite corresponds to the picture I have formed myself ...... and I think that she – we may as well at once for the sake of convenience say she – will become even more attractive after the operation ...... By the way, I must draw attention to the fact that this operation, which will be the first of its kind, will give rise to numerous difficulties, not least with respect to legal matters ...... but I promise you that I'll not abandon Lili when she will take her first steps in life."


Elena saw that Andreas was about to faint and she rushed over to him and threw her arms around him. Sobbing he put his head on her shoulder.


"Oh, Elena," he stammered through tears, "dear sweet friend ...... now life comes back to me, the life that I no longer wanted anything to do with. It is you, Elena, who has saved me ...... without you I would not be here."


Professor Werner Kreutz stood by the window and looked down at the street. His pure, regular profile showed in a sharp angle against the halftones between the sunlight and the shadows from the room. It was an image that Andreas never, as long as he was Andreas, forgot.


Then the Professor turned from the window towards him and reached out both his hands to him ...... Without a word Andreas grabbed these strong, steady hands firmly enclosing his. The two men -@Translator: MO who only a few minutes ago had become acquainted looked at each other. Then the Professor quietly said:


"I understand you, you must have gone through a lot!"

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Meanwhile Grete and Hvappe waited in the studio. Hvappe was the third member of the little household, a white and pink female dog who was a native of Paris and most of all looked like a liver pâté with truffles; just like the genuine Strassburger pâté this too was surrounded by a dear layer of fat. However, she became as slender as a doe in Grete's paintings and resembled the ethereal imaginary creatures one finds on old Gothic wallpapers and valuable tapestries.


Hvappe had long since completed the Sparre family's education. Both Grete and Andreas knew all her habits and had learned to respect them. In return she took part in the family's joys and sorrows – and meals in particular. She must have been musical because she always stretched contentedly when she heard music – only Wagner -@Editor: PLC was something of a strain on her nerves. When Andreas put the Parsifal record on the gramophone she began to play noisily with a bone in the vain hope of drowning out the music ...... Hvappe had delicate nails the colour of mother of pearl – in connection with Hvappe one could not use the term claws – that she used to sharpen on the silk covers of the Rococo furniture, which for that reason often looked a little worn. Most of her time she spent on the divan where despite her smallness she had gradually created a little hollow – like a nest.


When Andreas finally appeared Hvappe rushed toward him and jumped delightedly and barked at him. Andreas was deadly pale, Grete guided him to the divan and sat next to him. She did not ask but forced herself – and Hvappe – to wait and see.


When Andreas finally started to speak she listened to him with her eyes closed. What was dream and what was reality? Excited she listened to the words with which he tried to describe his meeting with the German doctor ...... - Was it possible that this was the release, the sal-
[Page 20]
vation for her friend? Grete asked in her heart. Where did things lead for him, for her, for both of them? A thousand questions and concerns stormed at her while Andreas recounted, filled by his great adventure.


Grete had an alert and clear mind that always knew how to grasp the essence of things, and as she now slowly opened her eyes and looked down at Andreas she realised that it was fate that had intervened and that she would face a parting from a friend who was dear to her ...... he would disappear and who knew what would happen then? Would a new creature come into being ...... a new person?


Andreas saw her emotion, he sat up, took her hand, and gently stroked it:


"Grete, sweet little Grete, you mustn't be sad ...... come ......"


He led her to an easel in the middle of the studio in front of the wide north window. On the easel stood a large painting with three female figures that were like sisters. In front of one lay a fine, slim dog, and the woman had Grete's features. The other woman had Elena's face and between the two – as though protected by the two sisters – was a third woman who resembled Andreas ...... that is, no, it was not him ......


For a long time they stood in front of the picture, then Andreas pointed at the woman in the middle and, moved, sincerely said:


"Thank you, Grete, thank you, for having believed in Lili to the very end ...... You know that I could never doubt myself ...... You know how I have lived my life, how I listened to the wind, the trees, and the clouds, how I walked about in nature and painted as well as I could, right until ...... yes, why shouldn't I say it now? ...... right until I could not paint anymore ...... You know that I was always honest with what I heard ......I knew how it grew and flourished out there ...... every blade of grass, every bush told me about its soul ...... every house and every street, where I took out my sketch book, showed me its heart ...... how could I disappoint myself when I listened to my own heart and heard that inside me something began to grow, something different ...... something new? ......"


Grete smiled distantly but her smile did not apply to the picture, it
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concerned the face she had seen in dreams at night, the white figure ......


"I'm so happy," she whispered.


"I'm so happy," he whispered.


Then they were both silent.

* * *


In the evening Andreas broke down. He had thrown himself on the divan and cried for a whole hour with his face hidden in the cushions. Grete tried in vain to bring him to his senses, his strength failed him.


Professor Werner Kreutz's last words: "You have gone through a lot," were still in his ear, and only now he understood how true it was, now, when he could be quite honest with himself ...... Not even in the following days was he able to pull himself together, though Grete did everything to help him:


"You must be happy, you hear, now everything will be well!"


Now and then he took new courage, however ...... "The stranger promised me a new youth ...... no, no, not me ...... Lili will live, he said ...... Lili ...... that is the new youth he will give to me!"


Days when he sank into the deepest despair alternated with days when he was in high spirits and full of hope. The waiting time seemed endless to him. Time crept forward, and sleepless nights separated the days that were like bleak deserts ...... One such night when Andreas was dozing he had the following dream:


-@Editor: PLCHe sat in the train to Berlin ...... it darted through northern France ...... The speed was so high that the swaying of the train had almost ceased – it was as if it was sucked into the distance without resistance. Andreas was sitting by the window staring out over the woods and fields, when he suddenly caught sight of a supernatural great coal-black rider in the fog racing in competition with the rushing train - He rode so fast that his cloak was parallel to the wind, taut as a sail ...... The train no longer stopped at the stations, it just raged on .....but each time it rushed past a station Andreas still caught a glimpse of the sinister black rider in the whirring light from the lamps of the platform ...... the darkness gradually changed character, as if the train was rushing through areas that had never known
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the light of the sun ......And suddenly all the passengers pushed through the aisles towards the locomotive to help the stoker; they shovelled coal into the glowing machine to increase the speed, and Andreas understood that the rider beside the train was Death ...... Every now and then, the rider stretched out his hand, grabbed one of the passengers, and cracked him with a gruesome laughter between his nails ...... During its frantic speed the train lost one carriage after another – eventually only the tender was left behind the locomotive ...... They had reached the end of the world, and the train crashed into endless depths ...... But Andreas has jumped out and finds himself on a narrow road, sharp as the edge of a knife and bathed in light. And suddenly Lili stands by his side. He takes her hand and they run along the knife-edge road pursued by Death, now no longer on horseback ...... But Lili's strength fades and Death comes ever closer ...... Then Andreas cries: "Run, little sister, run ...... I'll fight against death for you" ...... The struggle does not last long, Death is the strongest, it grabs Andreas, lifts him up, sucking the life out of him, and hurls him into the abyss where his body whirls around and around like a dry leaf ...... But Lili runs and runs until she reaches the end of the narrow road. Then she jumps out – and falls into the arms of a figure dressed in white. Death stretches his hands out to her, but the white figure grows and becomes big and mighty, spreads its white wings and fills the whole room ...... Foot by foot it forces back Death ...... And now Lili is on an island with shining silver birches ......trembling she has fallen to her knees, and a small, pale red, gothic angel supports her while she hears the roar from the mighty wings as Death is overcome by the struggling Genius and disappears into the deep ......"


Andreas – and not only Andreas – never forgot this dream that he did not tell anyone.

– – – –


One evening Andreas said to Grete:


"I come to think of my old headmaster who told us about the negro slaves at St. Croix , that they rebelled just the day before their release from slavery ... Now I understand ...... I can no longer bear to wait ......"


The day after he went to Elena who received him in her dressing room.

Page 23

"Tell me," he said, "is it really true that I have met Professor Werner Kreutz, and that he promised to help me?"


Elena, who was going out, quite calmly and unceremoniously began to change. Andreas blushed and was embarrassed but Elena smiled at him mischievously:


"This is the best answer I can give you ...... it shows that I no longer regard you as a male but as a female friend, and that our visit to the German professor has not been a dream."


A few days later a telegram from Germany arrived in the morning. Andreas was to be in Berlin the following Saturday at the latest and take rooms at a hotel specified in the telegram.


Grete and Elena accompanied Andreas to the train. Since the arrival of the telegram he had hardly spoken ...... Nor did he show his overwhelming emotion at the station. Only a couple of playful remarks passed his lips ...... he just felt an intense longing to get away and be alone ...... escape from the past and the present ...... and not think before the goal was reached ...... what goal? ...... He dared not ask ...... All this whirled round in his brain ...... but no one should notice, no one ...... And when the train started to move, he happily waved goodbye to his two dear friends ...... But his face was rigid like a mask.

Page 24



Andreas had a window seat. By habit he had lit a Caporal and mechanically he smoked one cigarette after another and followed the blue-green spirals of smoke. He was a prey to the brain fatigue that often follows forced preparations for a journey at the moment when the train sets in motion and you are suddenly alone and doomed to inactivity ...... for many hours ahead ...... a whole eternity.


The first feeling that resurfaced in his mind was fear ...... All at once he had become aware that he had exposed himself ...... but a few moments later the fear transformed into melancholy ...... it was as if something thawed and melted inside him, something that had paralysed his mind and in the last days in Paris had made him quite another being. It was at the moment when Elena brought the telegram from Berlin that he had felt himself stiffen as if an iron curtain had descended on his torn soul.


And suddenly he saw the two dear faces before him ...... Grete ...... Elena ...... his little companion for many, many years ...... through defeats and victories, and like the other, his friend ...... he could not keep them apart, the two faces slid together, they meant the same: Home ...... his home ...... in Paris ...... And now he had left his home ...... Grete ...... Elena ...... Paris!


He had not even leaned out the window to see the Eiffel Tower once more ...... Sacré-Coeur, the highly situated church resembling a mirage with its white domes ...... Elena ...... Grete ...... Everything that he cared about had been wiped out, disappeared behind the hazy horizon ...... gone ...... forever.


Forever? ...... Yes, forever – because he, Andreas Sparre, would never return to Paris, that he knew. But perhaps another being? ...... He was not able to
[Page 25]
finish the thought ...... a wild grief trembled through him, and he forced himself to think only of Paris, its blue-grey, always smiling sky, and of the spirited, ironic and yet indulgent expression with which it meets everybody as a good and understanding sister ...... Grete ...... Elena ...... Paris ...... this triad followed him, the fugitive ...... And all at once it was hammered home by the rhythm of the train: Fugitive ...... Fugitive ...... No ...... No ...... he is no fugitive, he is, yes, what is he?


"Le déjeuner, premier service!" was shouted in the corridor, and he discovered that all his fellow passengers had left the compartment ...... And suddenly he was afraid to be alone. He followed the others and got into the dining car but he did not touch the food, and on his way back he had to stand still and hold on to one of the windows in the side corridor ...... He had been attacked by his old pains, and the jolt it gave every time the wheels ran over a rail joint caused him pain. Finally he reached his seat in the corner by the window.


He stared out at some strangely planted fields ...... no, they were not plants, they were crosses – soldiers' graves it was ...... the field of the dead ...... cross by cross – going on forever ...... they reminded him of his dream about the black rider racing the train. -@Editor: PLC


...... Reality is yet far more dreadful than the dream, he thought ...... the rider of death he could escape but not the pains ...... and not himself ...... how would he escape from himself? ...... And he must again think of Grete ...... Why had he refused to allow her to follow him? She had begged for it, but he had forced her to stay in Paris and wait ...... wait for ...... No, he would not give in, he lit another cigarette and forced himself to turn off his thoughts.


Now they had reached the border and the other passengers in the compartment had gotten off. The train moved at a snail's pace through Belgium and stopped at a lot of small stations so that people who had an abundance of time could get on or off ...... At the German customs border a new locomotive came on and the speed was increased. Evening fell and the train roared into the darkness.


Andreas had sat for long time in the dining car drinking and drinking
[Page 26]
to numb himself ...... and the dreadful pains that the bumps and rolling of the train caused him ...... Now he has returned to his corner. He sets his teeth and closes his eyes. He has broken all bridges, everything behind him is irrevocably over. And now he is in Germany, which he had so far only seen passing through, and where he must now find his destiny, a new life ...... or ...... -@Editor: PLC


He thinks of the letter he sent to Professor Werner Kreutz on the day he got the telegram: "I pledge myself to you for life or death ...... if only Lili is allowed to live!" ...... Yes, that is what he had written and he stood by it ...... all that remained of male pride in him straightened up: I'm getting closer to the goal, I must endure! -@Editor: PLC


He inadvertently smiled, not for nothing did he belong to a nation where things are not taken tragically but met with a smile ...... Yes, he said to himself, one may just as well write one's obituary at once.


And in his thoughts he formed his artistic legacy:


"The painter Andreas Sparre is dead. He died on the train between Paris and Berlin. The cause of death was probably heart failure. -@Editor: PLC


A happy and harmonious artist's life has thus come to a premature close. He was a man in the prime of life and with a promising future. He seemed just now after a long search and various experiments to have found his own style. His last paintings are characterised by both artistic confidence and human insight ...... His pictures, whose motifs for the most part were found in France and Italy, are sometimes bright and colourful and sometimes dark and melancholy – but always full of atmosphere and feeling for nature. He continuously returned to the same two subjects: Paris with the Seine banks, bridges, and towers whose pearl grey, slightly hazy atmosphere he knew how to render with considerable mastery, and landscapes under a threatening sky and with a dark background against which trees and houses shine in hectic colours. With these pictures he won his significant victories at the great Parisian exhibitions. One had the impression, however, that it was mainly the powerful storm pictures perceived in a distinctly masculine way that released his particular artistic talent. They testify to a strong touch of virility
[Page 27]
that constituted a peculiar contrast to his refined, almost feminised appearance. -@Editor: PLC


He painted very quickly and in that way he got time to occupy himself with other interests beside his paintings. His knowledge was extensive and he was familiar with all art forms. Very characteristic was an answer that he once gave to an older colleague in Trianon when he expressed his criticism of the fact that a younger artist laid out his pictures in a, in his opinion, much too systematic way. 'You must forgive me that I do not share your sentiments,' Andreas Sparre answered, 'but I do believe that it is impossible to paint a leaf of a rose if you are not completely familiar with the influence exerted by Greek sculpture on Assyrian relief art.' – – – On another occasion Andreas Sparre said: 'I don't understand the frivolity with which my contemporaries treat their art and their satisfaction with what they produce ...... Personally I think I would need a thousand years just to become a fairly decent painter.' That is how seriously Andreas Sparre took his art.


The greater part of his life he spent outside Denmark in Italy, Holland, and France. Most of his time he lived in Paris ...... 'I'm neither Danish nor French,' he said of himself, 'definitely not French, but I'm a Parisian, and if that is not a nationality I have none.'


When he turned his back on his native country, though he immediately gained much recognition at home, it was because he thought that the right soil for his wife Grete Sparre's art did not exist in Denmark. He was often told that his way of painting was preferred to hers, and that was about the worst thing you could say to him, it offended his distinctly chivalrous nature. In Paris where the opposite was the case, he immediately felt at home. He considered Grete's triumphs as his own. For himself he did not have any ambitions, and as for artistic skill he made strict demands on himself. -@Editor: PLC


In spite of the inevitable influence that no artist living in Paris can free himself from, he had retained his special Nordic artist's talent ...... In cooperation with a French artist he has written a book about a number of Nordic legends that has been printed in many editions in Paris and France. It made him very proud, he was pleased that with this book he had opened the Germanic world of ideas to the Romanic reading public and thus in the post-war period – the book was published in 1924 – contributed to the building of a bridge between the Germanic and the Romanic spirit. -@Editor: PLC

Page 28

In the last years his health left much to be desired. He complained of being in great pain, but it was done with a smile, and therefore no one believed that his condition was so serious. Now death has interrupted this bright and captivating artistic career and his life that was devoted to work and the struggle for art, will for all who knew him stand as an unfinished work ......"


"Full stop," he finished and smiled to himself remembering that Grete had written something like this about him in her diary, which she had fallen asleep over one night a short time ago after a day when he had been on the verge of a bodily and spiritual collapse. But she did not know that he had read it.


"Yes, and something similar," he said to himself, "may be printed about me in the paper in Copenhagen that is kindly disposed to me ...... If one of my so-called 'good colleagues' is to write about me in another paper, it will probably be a different tune ......"

Page 29



Andreas had not booked a sleeping car ticket. He disliked sleeping with complete strangers, and he felt it as an unassailable shame when he had to undress in the presence of other men ...... But he was lucky, as the train drove on after a short stop in Cologne he was still alone. He folded his hands as a child ...... If only he could be allowed to sleep ...... just this one night ...... not have to think, just sleep ...... sleep ...... He stretched out on the seat and fell asleep.


A dreadful, stinging pain caused him to jump up with a cry ...... his head was swimming ...... a red mist rose around him ...... and then it suddenly became completely dark and he sank into a deep, deep abyss ...... He felt an eternity had passed before he recovered consciousness and found himself lying on the floor ...... What had happened? He did not know ...... he looked at his watch. It was midnight – seven more agonising hours before he reached Berlin.


With difficulty he managed to get up, and he lay down on the seat again ...... The pain had subsided somewhat ...... Grete, little Grete, he sighed, I miss your cool hand that has so often helped me, just as my hand laid itself soothingly on your forehead when you were tormented for my sake ...... He got up and drew the shades down, took off his jacket and rolled it up to place his head higher. He had put his coat over himself ...... before he had been much too hot, now he was shivering with cold ...... And the pain resumed. With a deafening noise the train raged past a station and the lights from the platform threw milky white, ghostlike shadows into the compartment ...... shuddering he pulled his coat over his head ...... The dream – the dark rider – is he pursuing him? ...... Is that not the outline of a figure outside against the window? ...... Nonsense, he must be running a fever ...... he is shivering too, he can hear his teeth chatter, his hair is sticking
[Page 30]
to his temples and he is afraid ...... afraid of the rider, whose cloak stands out in the wind taut as a sail ...... He clearly hears the sound of the wind in the cloak ...... quite clear and louder and louder ...... or is it just the freezing cold entering through the window?


The train slows down and stops.


" Hanover! Hanover!" is shouted outside. And he hears the sound of hammer blows against the wheels, at first far away and then closer ...... in the end the blows are right under his compartment, and it is as if someone hammered on the top of his head. He hears German voices, car doors are slammed open and shut. Then the train slowly starts again ...... Dear God, it may be as tired as I am, Andreas thinks and makes himself comfortable on the bench again.


But suddenly he jumps up. The door to his compartment has been pushed aside and against the light from the corridor the outline of a woman's figure appears. For a moment she timidly withdraws from the darkness, then she lifts a small suitcase up into the net and sits by the window in the corner facing the corridor.


Andreas gets up and mechanically turns on the light ...... The train does not stop again before Berlin, so there is no hope of being alone again ...... He wondered if the next compartment might be empty? ...... No, that would look rude ...... he had to pull himself together and not complain. He is enough of a man not to allow a stranger to have pity on him. He sits up straight and assumes a correct posture.


The lady is young and elegant; he observes her, but she does not seem to notice ...... The expression in her eyes is striking. It is as if she sees nothing, as if she has no idea that there is someone else in the compartment ...... He is annoyed that he has turned on the light ...... it would have been so nice to spend the rest of the night in darkness ...... but now it is too late ......He could of course ask, but that could be misunderstood ......


Andreas felt ill at ease ...... now he clearly sensed that he had a fever ...... his throat constricted and he thought it was as stifling hot as it had been icy cold a short while ago ...... Would this journey never come to an end? ...... When would time cease to stand still? ...... Once again the train roared past a station with a diabolical noise and again the pale light flickered
[Page 31]
through the window. He jumped up to pull the curtains closer.


Then he heard someone crying.


He looked across at the young woman in the other corner. She sat quite still and tears streamed down her cheeks. She must have noticed that he was looking at her but she did nothing to control her crying or hide her tears ...... How strange women are, he thought, so completely different from men ...... Have they no pride at all or are they really so weak?


Lili! ...... Would Lili become like this, too? Yes, actually, she had most likely always been so ...... been like the morsel of humanity over there who sat and wept as if she had been abandoned by the whole world.


She was still rather young, her ash-blonde hair lay straight around a high and narrow girl's forehead ...... her eyes, veiled by tears, were probably light blue and by nature carefree and happy. She had taken off her gloves, on one of her fingers was a plain ring of gold ...... so she was engaged. -@Editor: PLC He was seized by a deep compassion for this young, desperate woman.


"Mademoiselle," he began softly, but she did not seem to have heard him. Then he remembered that he was in Germany.


"Gnädiges Fräulein," he awkwardly repeated in German.


Her red eyes met his gaze wherein apparently she read his honest compassion ...... her eyelashes that were wet with tears, glistened like silver ...... A ravishing bride, he thought.


"I would very much like to help you," he said, "something sad must have happened to you ......"


That was as far as he got. She had hidden her face in her hands and sobbed so piteously that Andreas did not know what to do. He sat down beside her, took her hand, and softly stroked it. She put her other hand on top of his and gradually she became calmer and began to speak.


She was engaged to a famous pianist -@Editor: PLC who two days ago had travelled to Berlin where he had given a concert that met with rapturous jubilation. Tonight he was to return, she had gone to the station to meet him and there she had caught sight
[Page 32]
of a Berlin newspaper with his name in large print on the front page.


She handed the paper that was crumbled and stained with tears to Andreas. It said -@Editor: PLC that as the famous pianist was on his way back to his hotel after the distinguished concert his car had collided with a tram, and severely injured he had been brought to the hospital where it was feared that his life could not be saved.


Shaken he let the paper fall ...... He had offered her his help? What must she not think of him? And yet perhaps? – How often had he, who was not able to help himself, not managed to calm the sorrows of others and relieve their pain. Grete claimed that he was in possession of a supernatural power ...... perhaps he still had so much of this power left in this terrible night that he could provide this desperate young woman with tranquillity.


He took her hand again and held it firmly enclosed. To begin with it trembled like a captive bird, but gradually her crying became quieter and finally it stopped completely ...... He began to stroke her hand again ...... now and then she was shaken by renewed sobbing but her breathing became more and more regular ...... Suddenly Andreas felt her blond hair against his face, her head had sunk to his shoulder – she slept. He put his arm around her to support her and he smiled happily ...... Then he still possessed the mysterious power to help others ...... even now!


A couple of times he sought to free himself from his constrained position, but then her mouth trembled ...... How strange life is, he thought ...... This is me, Andreas Sparre from Copenhagen, I come from Paris and am on my way to Berlin to meet my hour of destiny ...... and now I'm sitting here with a small German woman, someone else's bride, in my arms ...... Blind providence has brought us together ...... isn't that far more wonderful than the novels invented by the poets?


The pace of the train was now quite steady ...... it was like a rocking cradle, and he dozed off.


He was awakened by a sob, the young girl stared at him with a couple of bewildered eyes ...... a cold morning light entered through the curtains.

Page 33

"Oh, forgive me," he exclaimed stammering, for in his sleep he had accidentally changed his position. She did not answer, but started to cry like a tormented child who is quite alone in the world. He spoke to her consolingly until she settled down again in his arms ...... A few hot tears went down his cheeks ...... now he understood why fate had brought this young, lovely woman into his path. It was in order that he should feel like a man for the last time, in order that as a man he should take leave of the eternal feminine.


The tall houses of Berlin appeared in the morning mist and he had to wake the sleeping girl. She jumped up with a cry:


"Oh God, what is it? ...... Is he dead ...... No, no, he mustn't die!"


"Child," Andreas said in a firm but infinitely gentle voice, "I don't know your name nor you mine ...... but it doesn't really matter, you must believe me, I know he is alive!"


"Yes, yes, I believe you," she replied, "and I am calm, quite calm ..... I shall never, never forget you!"


Some minutes later she had disappeared in the crowd of the station. The crumpled newspaper was the only thing he had left of her.


"I helped you," he thought, "although I myself may have been closer to death than your beloved ...... now I feel that we both shall live, he and I both."


A few days later Andreas happened to read in a newspaper that the bridegroom of his unknown fellow passenger was on his way to recovery.

Page 34



Accompanied by a porter carrying his two suitcases Andreas covered the distance from the railway station over to the hotel on foot.


"How cold it is here in Berlin," he said surprised, and turned his coat collar up around his ears ...... "and today is even the first of March. In Paris it was already spring.


"Yes, in Paris," the porter replied. And that was the end of the conversation.


In the hotel, where Professor Werner Kreutz used to stay himself when he was in Berlin, they had been notified about Andreas' arrival and received him with the utmost politeness. The receptionist had a letter -@Editor: PLC for him. He opened it when he had come up to his room. It was from Dresden and informed him that Professor Werner Kreutz in order not to waste time had made appointments with various specialists who were to examine him. A few minutes later one of them, Professor Arno, called him on the phone, and they agreed on a time when he was to see him ...... He had barely hung up before the telephone rang again. It was one of his old friends from Copenhagen, the poet and lawyer Niels Hvide who had already lived in Berlin for many years.


"How do you know that I am here?"


"Grete has written to me. Get a taxi and come here. Inger and I are waiting for you with breakfast."


This Niels was a brilliant man. He was of pure Nordic race. He originated from Vendsyssel, where his family owned estates and farms. He might also have been an English lord, one of those about whom the English themselves say: "With us nobility is measured by yards" ...... Inger, his wife, was a typical modern, well-groomed young woman. Her henna coloured hair formed a piquant contrast to her big, almost childish, blue eyes, and in the delicate porcelain complexion of her face a cinnabar red mouth shone. They both loved to travel, and Andreas and Grete had made several
[Page 35]
journeys with them. They were very close, but they knew nothing about Andreas' secret, and that made him a little uneasy.


They received him most heartily and as long as Inger was present they only talked of matters of no importance. But as soon as she had left the room, Niels in his straightforward and robust way said:


"Well, we are informed, you know ...... Grete already made certain hints in Paris last year that made me understand why you had the bizarre idea of allowing yourself to be used as her female model ...... and in the letter she tells me everything."


Andreas involuntarily looked up at one of Grete's paintings hanging on the wall immediately opposite him and representing Lili.


Niels caught his gaze and continued:


"Yes, it will be a strange turn of your life ...... but take comfort in the thought that you will be in good hands ...... Werner Kreutz is one of our greatest ...... The important thing is that you have enough strength ...... you look a little tired, but then it is not easy to have to choose between yourself ..... and ......"


He pointed up at the painting.


"It is not about choice, but about life or death," Andreas answered seriously, "I am condemned to die ...... The question is if the other being living inside me, when it is freed of all the disguises of the body and soul, will be able to live life and take up the fight against it ......"


Niels saw that Andreas was greatly moved and as he knew that his friend would need all his spiritual and physical strength he changed to a jesting tone:


"Here we don't die, my friend, here we carry it through ...... and the result will be a first-class phenomenon."


"No," Andreas interrupted. "I don't want to be a phenomenon ...... I want to be a quite normal and ordinary woman."


"Normal and ordinary? ..... Do you think that ......"


"Please, Niels, let us not talk about the future ......"


"You're right. Let us rather talk about the past ...... Are you even aware of when and how this Lili evolved and gained power over you?"


"I'll tell you all that some other time ...... now I must go to Professor Arno and the other doctors."

Page 36

"Good," Niels answered with his friendly laugh, "but when you have been through your task, we expect you to dinner."

* * *


Professor Arno, the inventor of a new method for the examination of blood, received Andreas in a pleasant and considerate manner and asked him a number of somewhat difficult questions in such a factual and scientific tone that Andreas could answer them without the slightest embarrassment. Then he took a few blood samples while he explained how he, through a number of serological reactions, could determine the hormone content of the blood that was crucial to Lili's life possibilities.


"From me you are going to the sexual psychologist, Professor Hardenfeld," he informed his patient, "he will subject you to a mental examination ...... From a purely scientific perspective you can think what you will, but his experience in this field is so great that in a case like this there is no getting round him ...... Finally you have to contact another of my colleagues, Doctor Karner, with whom I personally collaborate ...... when you come up to me again tomorrow morning the result of our examinations will be sent to your friend, Professor Kreutz."


"Your friend" ...... These words made Andreas' heart beat, and when shortly afterwards he found himself in Professor Hardenfeld's impressive Institute of Sexual Science he repeated them to himself – otherwise he would no doubt have lost courage ...... What am I doing here? He felt a moral discomfort with this large room that seemed more like a club for the sexually abnormal: Women who looked like men in disguise and men about whom it was hard to believe that they were really men ...... The manner in which these people conversed with each other, their movements, their voices, their attire, everything he disliked heartily ......


At last Professor Hardenfeld appeared and led him into his study where he subjected him to an hour-long interview. It was a relentless inquisition, a mental torture for Andreas ...... but presumably it was necessaary. When it was over, he was briefly dismissed: Tomorrow, same time.


At the next in the series, Dr. Karner, it turned out that Andreas had already
[Page 37]
acquired a certain routine in answering the questions put to him. Here the examination was conducted more as a conversation, however, and before he knew, Andreas was into a lively political discussion about the relations between France and Germany. Quite en passant the doctor stuck a thin syringe into his arm to take a blood sample. Also Dr. Karner wished to see him the next day.


Andreas felt morally anguished when he returned to Inger and Niels:


"I can't go on! Why don't we go out and enjoy ourselves? I need to see people, healthy people."


Inger had another engagement, but Niels was happy to accept Andreas' proposal. They started in a small Russian restaurant, and subsequently toured around different places where they drank German, French, Hungarian and Spanish wine. Niels was a connoisseur of wine, and Andreas did not need persuasion – he drank heavily.


"Your health!" Niels said. "You are a strange fellow. Tonight you behave like a real man and tomorrow you may expect me to treat you like a lady ......"


"I can appreciate that you find it difficult to understand," Andreas answered and looked calmly at his friend. "I do too ...... but I am fully aware that there are two beings in me, and that each of them has his or her -@Translator: MO own and – I insist that you believe that – completely healthy and normal emotional life."


"Yes, that is precisely what is incomprehensible," Niels declared. "I have known you for many years ...... as Andreas, I mean – Lili you have kept hidden from us until now ...... and I have never felt that you were not like all other men ...... I have seen myself that women like you, and that is surely the best proof ......"


He interrupted himself and put his hand on Andreas' shoulder:


"I hope you do not take it amiss if I ask you a question?"


"No," Andreas smiled, "I've become accustomed to that during today."


"Tell me ...... have you never ...... been attracted to your own sex ...... You understand what I mean?"


Andreas shook his head:


"Honestly, Niels, never! ...... It has not interested me in the least." -@Editor: PLC

Page 38

"Bravo, Andreas, I thought so ...... Your health again! Let us drink to the future! Had you lived in ancient Greece, perhaps you would had been declared a demigod, and in the Middle Ages you would had been burned, for at that time miracles were forbidden ...... Nowadays, however, at least doctors are permitted to act as miracle makers."


They emptied their glasses, and Niels accompanied Andreas back to the hotel.

* * *


Next morning Andreas had regained at least his outward composure, and punctually he met with Professor Arno.


"I have spoken with Professor Kreutz, and we have agreed," the Professor said, "that you will undergo a preparatory operation with one of our young colleagues here in Berlin – a very skilled surgeon ...... When it is over there is no reason why you shouldn't go to Dresden."


"Why not right away?" Andreas stammered disappointed.


"Kreutz is head of a women's clinic ...... and your case," the Professor smiled, "is a little ...... unusual, even for us doctors ...... But as soon as you have been operated on here in Berlin, you are no longer Andreas Sparre ......"


"But Lili? ......" Andreas exclaimed and sank into a chair.


"Perhaps you can say that ...... Professor Hardenfeld has informed me that he considers you to be mentally eighty percent woman ...... and the blood tests have given a similar result ...... I'll be present at the operation here in Berlin myself, but first a series of photographs must be taken of you – for purely scientific reasons, of course ...... So tomorrow you report to the clinic."


As in a dream Andreas took down the address, while Professor Arno continued:


"You look rather tired ...... Be careful ...... What you now have to go through is difficult, but what you've gone through in the past years has probably been even more difficult. The rest of us who are born as normal people are probably not able to imagine it ...... You must take comfort in the thought that you have been given spiritual wealth in return and a
[Page 39]
knowledge that far surpasses everyone else's ...... Just have a little patience, my friend ...... Au revoir et bon courage!"


Without answering Andreas pressed the kind man's hand and left.

Page 40



That evening Andreas visited Niels and Inger again. Neither of them wanted to ask him about the result of the day's important examinations. But as they sat at coffee after dinner he got up, turned the light in the ceiling off so that the light in the room became pleasantly subdued, let himself sink into one of the deep armchairs, and said without further introduction:


"You asked me yesterday, Niels, if I was aware of the amazing development that I have undergone. I have spent the night thinking about the question ...... I had to use the time ..... because this night will be my last ......"


"Oh nonsense, Andreas," Inger exclaimed, but Niels hushed her. And Andreas continued smiling:


"Whatever comes, Mrs. Inger, this will be my last night ...... That is why I would like to – if you have the patience to listen to me – tell you about my life ...... No one knows if I'll still be me the day after tomorrow or if this will be the last time I sit here as Andreas ...... And who knows if Lili shares my memories or if she has forgotten them?"


Niels had gotten up and walked back and forth. Now he stopped and said seriously:


"I have thought about that too, and as I am a lawyer – even a very objective lawyer – I think it would be right that I take down in shorthand what you tell us ...... that is if you don't mind?"


"No, on the contrary," Andreas answered smiling. "That is a good idea ...... one must of course think of posterity, too."


Niels fetched paper and pencil and made himself comfortable. Inger lit a cigarette, and Andreas began:


"I will proceed chronologically and begin by telling you about my parents, both of whom you have known, Niels ...... My father's family originates from Majorca from where they had immigrated to Jutland. There
[Page 41]
is Spanish blood in us and from that I have my dark eyes ...... He was far from a firm nature; on the contrary, he was delicate, very preoccupied with himself and his well-being. Mother on the other hand had fresh and healthy nerves. She was blond and Nordic, but there was perhaps something hard in her nature. She was a capable person and a good mother. She died very suddenly, before father, and he never got over her death. Their marriage had been full of storms but now that she was dead he worshipped her like a saint.


"They had four children, three sons and a daughter. I was the youngest ...... And now I'll go on to talking about myself ...... I'm supposed to have been a charming and cheerful child, spoiled terribly by everyone, including my brothers and sister. From my father I never remember having heard a single harsh word. When I was too naughty and a small slap was necessary, my mother had to see to it. The entire family agreed on pampering me – the youngest in the nest. Mother loved to dress me up, I could not be pretty enough, and therefore I was never – at the risk of ruining my delicate finery – allowed to play with boys of the same age ...... When I was quite small I had long blond locks and snow white skin, accentuating my dark eyes. Therefore I was often taken for a girl by strangers ...... In kindergarten where as the only boy I was with eleven little girls, I was the best at needlework. When I was five I had "honourable mention" for my work at the kindergarten's annual celebration.


"When I was eight years old my brothers often teased me about having a really girlie voice. I took it to heart and I made an effort to make my voice rough and deep ...... It was, now that I think about it afterwards, my first unconscious pretence ...... Otherwise my childhood was nothing but sunshine. I was always happy and contented ...... With my brothers I played with tin soldiers and with my sister with dolls ...... That I wanted to push my sister's doll's pram for her was nothing out of the ordinary ...... I think all boys who have sisters do that.


"At the age of nine I was sent to the state school in the small town where we lived. Both my brothers also went to the same school. None of us were model pupils, but the headmaster was not fond of this kind of pupil anyway – they never amount to anything later in life, he said ...... French and Latin were the only subjects I cared
[Page 42]
for. Moreover I used the school's library very eagerly, which the headmaster considered very much to my advantage, not least because I was the second youngest in the class. In French we had an old teacher whose French pronunciation was very peculiar. He had once been to Paris which had been a great disappointment to him. It seemed that he and the Parisians had had difficulty in understanding each other. 'And you know that I do speak French!' he concluded his description of the trip.


"My teacher in Latin was quite different. He was rather progressive and he did not limit himself to the strictly linguistic, but made an effort to initiate us into the spirit and art of antiquity. It was he who opened my eyes to the pure beauty of Greek sculpture ...... When I was in the bath with my friends I could not help noticing that I had a much more fine and supple build than the other boys. I myself thought I resembled Praxiteles -@Editor: PLC' figures of young men of which we had a few plaster casts in the studio ...... That makes me think of a little episode ....... At school were already then three girls, one of them in the same class as I. In a recess she put her hat on me for fun and laughing she shouted to the others: "Look at him! Doesn't he look like a real girl!" ...... Suddenly the headmaster stood in front of us, and before I really knew what had happened, he had given me a proper beating ...... I was quite beside myself and it was not until many years later that I understood my old headmaster's motive for this punishment ...... Yes, what do we humans know about each other?...


"Otherwise I was in every way a real boy who never refused to fight, and because I was so much slighter that the others, I felt obliged to show greater daring ...... Only when I was out walking with my sister ...... and there was no one around ...... I still pushed her doll's pram.


"In adolescence my interest in art grew. Already when I was ten -@Editor: PLC years old, I had begun to attend exhibitions and read books that dealt with art. My father, who was a merchant, sought in vain to lead my interests in 'a more practical direction'. He first tried to educate me for trade, and then he put me into apprenticeship as a house painter, but this only strengthened my desire to become an artist. When I was an adolescent I had my first crush, and after this I continued with a string of crushes in the following years.

Page 43

"When father finally realised the hopelessness of making something practical of me I was, at the age of nineteen, sent to Copenhagen to go to the academy of fine arts. Here a couple of good friends immediately took it upon themselves to rid me of my provincial innocence, and under their 'protection' I was – a little brutally – initiated to the mysteries of the capital.


"But then I got to know Grete. It was love at first sight – in the most literal sense of the word ...... Grete had also just arrived at the academy, and like me she was from the province ...... We quickly became inseparable.


"It was a friend who had introduced us to each other, but when he was told that we had become engaged, he was furious. He was jealous, not of me but of Grete ..... Well, that is not an unusual phenomenon. How many friends have not had the same experience when a woman has come between them? ...... A year later Grete and I married ...... We were quite young, I barely twenty and Grete a couple of years younger ...... We knew nothing about life and about people ...... we were indescribably happy.


"I still remember one evening ...... it was in one of the first years of our marriage, and at the time we lived in an attic studio with a magnificent view over all of Copenhagen . Grete read one of the beautiful legends of antiquity for me. It sounded something like this:


"'Hermes, the gods' favourite, had a son, and Aphrodite the divinely beautiful, had a daughter. Each of them was a revelation of beauty ...... They had never seen each other, but one day the two divine children met in the forest, and the girl was at once seized with an intense love for the boy ...... But he fled from her ...... She ran after him but did not reach him; she called, he did not answer. Desperate she complained to Zeus: "I love him, and he shuns me ...... Oh, help me, let me be united with him!" Zeus heard her prayer, he raised his arm, and at that very moment Hermes' shy son stood before the master of the gods. Beside herself with joy Aphrodite's daughter embraced the trembling youth ...... Again Zeus raised his arm and the two became one being ...... When Hermes and Aphrodite looked for their missing children they found only one happily laughing divine child ...... "This is my son," Hermes said. – "No, this is my daughter," Aphrodite said ...... and they were both right ......'

Page 44

"'Look,' Grete said that night, 'that is how much I love you ...... I wish you and I could be united in the same way.'


"At that time Grete painted a picture of one of Copenhagen's most idolised actresses. One day, when the actress was to sit, the rehearsal at the theatre took longer than expected and she called by telephone:


"'Listen, Grete, couldn't you work on the lower part of the picture and make Andreas sit for you? ...... His legs are just as good-looking as mine ......'


"While Grete telephoned, I was standing with a cigar in my mouth, cleaning my easel, and when she asked if I would help her, I flatly refused ...... But she persuaded me to put on the actress' dress and high heeled shoes, and in jest she pulled a carnival wig out of a drawer, put it on me, put make up on me and led me to the mirror while she clapped her hands with delight:


"'You look positively splendid,' she said, 'one would think that you had never worn other clothes.'


"Now that I think back soberly, I recall that I immediately felt comfortable in this disguise ...... it seemed quite natural to me ...... I felt at home in these light women's clothes ...... Grete sat down and began to paint, but after a while the doorbell rang ..... It was the actress, the rehearsal had finished quickly after all ...... At first she startled a little at seeing someone else in her dress; then she recognised me, uttered a cry of joy and rushed over and embraced me:


"'Andreas you are great! You're much prettier as a woman than as a man. I'm certain that you have been a woman in a previous existence...... unless Nature has committed a small mistake.'


"She looked at me searchingly, and both Grete and I could tell that she felt more and more queer. Grete signalled to me to go and change, but the actress would not hear of it.


"'No, no!' she cried ...... 'I'd rather not see Andreas today ...... I'd much rather keep this girl. But what should she be called? She must indeed have a name ...... shall we call her
[Page 45]
Lili? ...... It sounds so sweet ...... From now on your name is Lili, remember that! ...... But don't you think we should celebrate the christening?'


"Grete fetched wine and fruit and we celebrated to our heart's content.


"That is how Lili came into existence and got her name ..... it began as a playful jest, a genuine artist's whim and through many years the game was continued – until it was in earnest.


"Some weeks after Lili's christening there was to be an artists' carnival, and it was decided that Lili should be introduced in society on this occasion. Grete composed a Pierrette costume for her and Lili was a smashing success. The gentlemen competed to dance with her, and one of them, an older officer, was so insistent in his advances that Lili found it expedient to inform him that she was a man. But he would not believe this: 'No, little miss, an old soldier can't be fooled!' Another wanted to obtain a kiss by force and was so violent that she, as she had to break loose by force, tore up her lace.


"It was the first time I learned how brutal men can be towards women – and it was not the last ......


"I also gained another experience on this memorable evening. When I saw a lady in a really beautiful dress, I could not help but giving her a friendly smile, but usually I got an icy glance in return, scornfully measuring me from head to foot ...... I was upset and asked Grete if I had done something wrong. She stroked my cheek and answered:


"'You are so stupid Lili, you don't know yet how mean women can be to each other ...... If they are rude towards you, it is only a proof that you look great.'

– – – –


"This party was followed by others, and Lili identified more and more with her role ...... Grete dressed her every time and in the artists' circles of Copenhagen, Lili started to create a furor ...


"Strange as it sounds, soon it was no longer I who disguised myself as Lili ...... she had for me as for Grete become an independent person ...... Lili and I were two different beings. When Lili was not there, Grete and I spoke about her, and when she was there, Grete and she spoke about me as if were a third person ......


"To Grete Lili had quickly become indispensable. Grete was by nature
[Page 46]
rather melancholy, and when she was in a dark spirit, she called Lili, who with her carefree cheerfulness soon got the better of her sombre mood ...... No less significant was Lili to Grete as her model who, I can say that now, brought her luck, became her mascot ...... I do not know if it was a coincidence, but the pictures for which Lili had posed were the most successful. And Grete's fame grew ...... One day she had an invitation to exhibit her Lili-paintings in Paris.


"This was the direct reason why all three of us, Grete, Lili and I, settled in Paris.

Page 47



"Even before we moved to Paris we had made several travels abroad. Our demands were very modest, and as soon as we had sold enough to save up some money, we went south to study and get to know the world.


"Only when we had no more money left, did we turn our faces towards home. On all these journeys, Lili had not been along. Grete and I had so many new experiences that we did not have time to concern ourselves with her. Thus we lived for a whole year in Italy, only filled with the beauty of the South that to us children of the North is like the most wonderful fairy-tale. It was the happiest year that Grete and I lived together ...... But as soon as we were back home in the studio, Lili appeared again and we could not comprehend that we had been able to do without her.


"But now Lili was no longer a toy ...... I had changed; I had not noticed it myself, but I discovered it through its effect upon others. In Florence a rich Dutchman -@Editor: PLC had pursued me, so that I almost had to challenge him, and in Rome an American millionaire insisted on taking me to Egypt ...... It was Lili who made her influence felt in me.


"...... But now we were in Paris. We settled down on the left bank of the Seine in one of the many small hotels around École des Beaux-Arts . We had two cosy pink and gray-white wallpapered rooms with a view of an old garden. In one of them was a secretive bed recess with red flowered curtains. The factotum of the hotel, Jean, told us that Oscar Wilde had spent his last days in the two rooms and that he had died in the bed recess behind the red flowered curtains. While he was speaking, tears ran down his unshaven cheeks. We understood the reason for his sorrow as he informed us that the poet had often given him twenty francs to buy cigarettes for him and
[Page 48]
never asked for change. Evidently this information also contained a delicate hint to us ...... Here in Oscar Wilde's quiet rooms Grete and I often sat at the wide window facing the old garden in the evening and read his works until we knew them by heart.


"In the neighbourhood of the hotel we found our regular rendezvous: Château neuf du Pape , a modest little restaurant where we could have a splendid dinner for 1 franc 30 – wine included. A multitude of artists came there, and we made our first Parisian friends.


"Shortly after our arrival, Grete was engaged as an employee by a large illustrated magazine, and immediately she was all enthusiasm and eager to start. But how could she find a suitable model in a hurry? ...... 'Couldn't you help me?' she asked. At first I was a little surprised because the first time in Paris had been so tumultuous that Lili, just as in Italy, had receded into the background, but I did not have the heart to disappoint Grete and answered:


"'Yes, but Lili's clothes stayed in Copenhagen and yours won't fit her.'


"The next day we went out and shopped for Lili who was very proud of her first Parisian outfit ...... So Lili appeared in Paris.


"Grete's pictures were a success and she was radiant with happiness. Her work was well paid and she could afford to keep other models. We rented a studio apartment and I got time to paint a good deal, partly in Paris and partly in Versailles.


"When we had saved enough money, we fulfilled one of our greatest wishes and travelled to the sunny paradise of Capri where we had the pleasure of meeting one of our good friends, an Italian painter, whom we had met in Florence. Through him we came into an international artist clique that gathered every day in the bathing season on the little beach at Piccola Marina ...... Here a Scottish artist arrived one day accompanied by a figure in boy's clothes who in a bathing suit revealed herself as a pretty young lady.


"'I saw that at once,' declared a Venetian sculptor, Flavio, who belonged to the clique, 'a woman can no more disguise herself as man, than a man can disguise himself as a woman – it will be discovered immediately.'


"Grete and I looked at each other and smiled ...... And the next afternoon
[Page 49]
Grete showed up on the pier with a tall slim young lady no one had ever seen. They walked back and forth in front of Café Morgana , and Grete had to answer many inquiring and curious greetings. Signora Flavio, the sculptor's wife, summoned her courage and went up to Grete to ask how I was ...... she had not seen me all day.


"'Andreas had to go to Naples on business, he won't be back until tomorrow,' Grete explained and added, 'may I introduce: Mademoiselle Lili Courtaud ...... Signora Flavio!'


"The Italian lady had achieved what she wanted and hastily invited Grete and her companion for a party the same night.


"The joke was a success beyond all expectations. Grete's French friend was given a friendly reception and was so highly admired that Andreas had to stay a few days longer in Naples. When he returned, the elegant Parisian had unfortunately left ...... neither Flavio nor the others had discovered anything at all.


"This experience brought about a change in Lili's habits. She had more courage and now it often happened that she stayed all evening when she sat as a model for Grete. If some intimate friend came to visit she no longer fled to the other room, but stayed where she was and filled the studio with her endearing character and her sparkling humour ...... Everyone came to love her but treated Lili and me very differently. Grete's female friends, who were rather ceremonial with me, hugged Lili and addressed her familiarly -@Translator: MO and the reverse was the case with my friends ...... Month by month Lili grew more predominant and only reluctantly gave way.


"At the autumn exhibition where both Grete and I exhibited we made the acquaintance of a French Sculptor, Jean Tempete, who had a summer home in a small town at the Loire river, Balgencie ... He had promised to organise a charity performance on the town's primitive stage and invited us to participate.


"It was a merry party that in the morning got off the train in the little town that looked as if it was taken straight out of toy box, quite a little Rothenburg ...... 'the theatre' looked like a tobacco shop with an added dance hall, and as there was no scenery, Grete was appointed as scene painter and immediately got everything going. In a
[Page 50]
'uniquely spectacular frame of décor,' a revue for which Tempete had written the words and music was to be performed by the other artists – painters, sketch artists and sculptors. Grete worked extremely hard and late in the afternoon everything came together smoothly. The only thing missing was a young woman painter who could not arrive before the evening train. But she was not on it, and it caused a great commotion. Tempete was beside himself, the part was not big, but it could not be cut out due to the 'thread' of the revue.


"'Can't you take over?' he asked Grete in desperation.


"'No,' she replied, 'I'm exhausted, I can't go on ...... but perhaps Lili ......'


"'Who is Lili?'


"'It's a secret,' Grete answered, 'but I'll see to it that she comes, and she should easily handle it.'


"She took Tempete aside and let him in on the secret. In a small hotel room I was dressed, and there was no one in the crammed hall who was not convinced that Lili was a native Parisienne ...... The pharmacist in Balgencie was even so enthusiastic that he sent a box of violet soap to the hotel for the unknown beauty.


"That evening Lili met her best friend, Claude Lejeune. He had the comic leading part in the revue and his mere appearance provoked cascades of laughter ...... He was the only one of us all who had talent ...... Already that morning I had noticed his dry, quick wit. His face was very irregular, he was almost colourless, his eyes were awry, and his nose was pointed. At first he seemed ugly, but as soon as one had talked just for a moment with him, one could not help noticing his sharp intelligence and the warmth and kindness emanating from his whole being.


"Of course he was acquainted with the secret of Grete's favourite model through his artist colleagues. But while Andreas had not interested him much in the morning, his conduct towards Lili was completely different ...... After the performance there was a dance, and on the request of the others Lili had kept on her costume. She danced incessantly and enjoyed herself tremendously. When she
[Page 51]
finally had a free dance, Claude Lejeune stood in front of her, bowed and asked as he squeezed the monocle more firmly in his eye:


"'When you have rested a bit, will you allow me to dance a few dances with you?'


"He spoke in a solemn tone and a slight blush spread over his earnest face ...... Lili looked at him a little surprised and nodded. They danced brilliantly together. They were of equal height and immediately in rhythmic harmony ...... They did not speak, but gave themselves completely to the dance.


"The same evening it was decided that they should all spend the summer vacation in Balgencie. Lili received a special invitation, and she promised that both she and her “brother Andreas” would come. From that moment Lili called me her brother and I had to put up with it.


"In August the Paris gang conquered the little town which received it half in admiration and half in consternation. The thermometer showed 35 degrees Celsius in the shade, and therefore we often turned night into day and bathed in the river at night. The society of Balgencie kept its distance, only the acting mayor, Monsieur René, as he was called by the whole town, a cheerful old bachelor, kindly looked after us. It was also he who in the town council suggested that a summer festival for the benefit of the town's poor should be organised with the assistance of the Paris gang. His proposal was approved, and the gang was immediately willing. Tempete worked out a festival programme with the Loire as the centre of the festival. There was to be a procession of boats decorated with flowers. The first was to be Cupid's boat and this Grete was to organise. Monsieur René made his wine cellar and an old barge available to the festival, and Grete really succeeded in transforming the barge into a splendid love gondola with a heart-shaped red sail swelling in the wind ...... The river is very beautiful at Balgencie, but there are whirlwinds that make sailing quite dangerous. Therefore Cupid had to be able to swim for safety's sake, and as since childhood I had been a very good swimmer, I had to represent Cupid – that is, it was Lili who took over the role of Cupid ...... Claude Lejeune, who in the meantime had become our close friend and who could also swim, became Cupid's gondolier.


"That is how it came about that Lili, disguised as Cupid and surrounded by applause, sailed through the old city where Joan of Arc -@Editor: PLC had made her entry several centuries ago, surrounded by steel-clad
[Page 52]
warriors. In the bright sunshine Cupid fired his golden arrows at the many people who were lined up along the bank, and several of them recognised Lili from the charity performance.


"When Claude with great difficulty had paved the way for Lili through the crowd back to the hotel, he looked at her earnestly and said:


"'Cupid, divine rogue, whatever you pretend to be ... you are a real woman!'


"Lili looked at him startled.


"'What do you mean?'


"But he turned away:


"'Nothing ...... nothing at all ...... If I told Lili what I have felt and thought all day, her brother Andreas would probably take it amiss.'


"He left and when we met the next day, he did not speak to me ...... Lili had disappeared again ......

– – –


"Through a number of years we spent our holiday in Balgencie, and here I gradually got used to Lili's and my double life. She participated in all the parties and excursions and I applied myself to painting, swam and emptied several bottles of wine along with the inhabitants of the town. I had made many friends and knew everyone in the little town, where they were quite proud at the thought that my pictures of the town's small houses and gardens were to hang in an exhibition in Paris ...... But none of the good citizens had any idea who the slim Parisienne was who often walked with Claude and Grete through the narrow streets early in the morning to spend a lovely day in the country and return only when all the lights were turned off and the town had gone to bed.


"The friendship with Claude became even deeper during these holidays and was of course continued in Paris. Claude spent nearly every Sunday in the studio, and it was a tacit agreement that it was Lili who opened the door for him ..... If, on a rare occasion, it was me, he was evidently disappointed. He shook my hand in a friendly manner, looked at my new paintings, and we talked for a few moments about politics or something else, until he said: 'I haven't said hello to Grete' ...... and went into the kitchen ...... But if Lili was there, he did not leave her side. -@Editor: PLC

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"Lili who wanted to go out on the town was often a guest along with Claude and Grete at a fashionable artist club where there was usually dancing. Lili made an effort not to make new acquaintances, she only cared to dance with Claude. But one evening, a lady who belonged to our intimate circle and who knew both Lili and me – though without suspecting anything about our double life – came over to Lili with a gentleman, a no longer quite young officer ...... 'This is my cousin who would very much like to make your acquaintance,' she said and introduced: ' Count de la Trempe and Baroness Lili de Courtaud!' ...... I could not avoid dancing with him while Claude mockingly watched, and when the dance was over, he asked for permission to pay a visit to the baroness.


"He came the very next day and was received by Grete who regretted that her 'sister in law' was not at home.


"'Oh, said the count, 'your husband is the baroness' brother ...... I should be glad to make his acquaintance.'


"Grete left it at this explanation and after the count had looked with interest at the paintings for which Lili had posed he said goodbye.


"The next day we had a couple of friends for tea and I had just told them about the count's visit when the doorbell suddenly rang. It was him again.


"'The day before yesterday I had the pleasure of dancing with your sister,' he told me, 'and I couldn't deny myself the pleasure of seeing her again as I was just passing.'


"It was difficult for me to keep a straight face as I explained that my sister had left for the country early in the morning and that she would probably not return before late in the evening, but that she would no doubt very much regret that she had not been at home.


"'I'm the one who regrets,' the count said, and looked inquisitively at me through his monocle. I had the feeling that my heart was an anvil and he was beating it with a hammer. Finally he let the monocle fall and said:


"'It is strange, I can't find the slightest resemblance, one wouldn't believe that you and the baroness were brother and sister.'


"I breathed a sigh of relief.

Page 54

"'My cousin has told me that the baroness is completely free,' he continued, 'dare I ask, if that is true?'


"I was unable to answer and therefore restricted myself to nodding, whereupon he got up and with a very correct bow declared:


"'Then it is my honour to ask for the baroness' hand in marriage!'


"I nearly fell off my chair, and it was with the greatest difficulty that I promised him to convey his honourable offer to my sister.


"With many compliments he retired – and a Homeric laughter rang through the studio.


"But I was really very upset. Lili's experiences began to get on my nerves, and in the evening I asked Grete what on earth we should do.


"'I've already thought about that,' she answered, 'for family reasons "your sister" will suddenly be called home to Copenhagen and from there she'll send a nice letter – that can easily be arranged through one of our friends at home – to the count in which she thanks him and regrets that she is not in a position to become his wife, that he must give up all hope, and that she won't return to Paris for some time to come.'


"So it was, and the count never knew to whom he had really proposed.

Page 55



"And so Lili and I continued our double life ...... we had many happy hours and neither the initiated nor I myself considered it to be anything other than a pleasant distraction, an artist's whim – neither more nor less. No more did we worry about the ever more prominent difference between me and the mysterious girl, nor did we notice that my figure had slowly started to change.


"One evening I said to Grete:


"'I really can't imagine life without Lili ...... but the day that she ceases to be young and beautiful there is no longer any reason for her existence.'


"Grete looked at me in surprise:


"'It's strange ...... what you say is something that I, too, have often had to think about lately,' she said and explained as she searched for the words, that it was no longer I who modelled for her as Lili, but that it was more and more Lili herself whom she drew and painted ...... and that during the last months she had felt remorse, because she originally was the one who had drawn Lili out and in doing so became guilty of the discord which more and more clearly showed in my nature on the days when Lili was not present.


"I listened intently to Grete and it was as if she held up a mirror to me as she continued:


"'I have the impression that we are faced with something stronger than ourselves that will get out of hand ...... as if Lili will take revenge because we have played with her ......'


"'You are right,' I said, 'and the most terrible of all is the feeling that it is Lili, precisely Lili, who binds the two of us to each other ...... it is because of her that we have stayed together through all these years ...... I don't think I could live without her.'


Grete interrupted me, she had often felt the same ...... Lili was
[Page 56]
the embodiment of our shared youth and happiness and she, too, could not imagine being without her.


"'We can't give her up,' she declared with tears in her eyes '...... if she were suddenly no longer here ...... it would be as if we had committed a murder.'


"'Yes,' I answered, 'more so as she has much more vitality in her than I.'


"Perhaps these words were dictated by a momentary despondency. My health had so far been very robust, and I had been able to stand any physical exertion ...... but lately I had often felt unwell which manifested itself as an insurmountable exhaustion more than anything else. In addition to this, I had not really been able to endure the last winters in Paris which had been particularly cold and rainy. I constantly had colds and slight coughs ... But you cannot expect to stay young, I said to myself ...... and then I thought of Lili ...... She shared my body with me – to her youth was much more important than to me ...... I had previously had a happy disposition but now that was over. I became more and more depressed ...... for days, weeks, months I felt completely powerless ...... And I, who had always been a hard worker, lost all my energy. I no longer understood myself ...... Now and then, however, there were brighter periods – especially when we were in Balgencie – but it did not last long ...... I became more and more tired – it was an intolerable condition.


"Grete started to worry and made me go to a doctor who gave me a nerve tonic, but it did not help. I went to another doctor – same result.


"Only when Lili came, everything was all right, then life was wonderful again and all dejection was gone ...... therefore she came as often as possible ...... By now she had made her own acquaintances, and her own experiences and habits that had nothing at all to do with me ...... As time went on, she stayed for several days in a row, then she and Grete sat together and sewed or embroidered and had a pleasant time ...... there were also days when she shut herself up in her own room and could sit and dream for hours all alone with her needlework ...... Grete and Elena watched this
[Page 57]
mysterious creature who was building her own world shaking their heads in wonder ...... but they left her alone, and she was happy.


"An accidental episode was to be the introduction to the last part of these continuous, relentless inner struggles between Lili and me ......


"About two years ago one of my old friends from Copenhagen, the Royal Theatre's greatest actor, came to Paris to give a guest performance ...... He brought his wife, the beautiful dancer, and for that reason there was also a ballet on the programme ....... But the ballet corps was not large, a dancer was lacking, and as my friend knew that I danced quite well, he asked me if would like to take part, which I agreed to.


"At the ballet rehearsals that were very lengthy, I probably overstrained myself, for I had an attack of nosebleed of such an unusual character that Grete was frightened and wanted me to give up the part. But I did not want to embarrass my good friend, and I persevered, despite new bleeding accompanied by nervous sobbing, – something that had so far been completely foreign to me. After each of these attacks, I felt relieved, as if something in me had been released.


"At the same time a curious change had happened in my character ...... I had always been quite independent, inclined to get on my high horse and never let anybody tell me anything, but already at the first rehearsal, I had the feeling that I was no longer myself. I had been seized by a strange impulse to subordinate myself, to yield to a stronger will ...... I had always regarded the actor as a good friend with whom I was equal, but now I no longer dared to contradict him, I gave in quite slavishly ...... and more than that, when he asked me to do something over and grabbed me to show how I should do it, I was embarrassed and miserable and blushed like a schoolboy ...... When I think back on this strange psychological development now, I can safely say that it was not in the least erotic in nature ...... what had happened I cannot explain, it just was so...... but it was not me who reacted in this way. Grete teased me with a smile about my new, humble nature, but behind her smile she hid an infinite astonishment.

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"When at one of the last rehearsals, I showed myself in my costume for the first time, a tight leotard, a short bolero and a curly wig, my friend stared at me and exclaimed with his strong boyish laugh:


"'No upon my word, that won't do, now we have too many ladies!'


"At first I did not understand what he meant, but when I saw that everyone's eyes were directed at me, my face turned scarlet and I rushed out to the dresser and demanded to be given something else to wear ...... I realised that I looked like a disguised woman.

– – –


"In the time that followed my nervousness increased further. At almost regular intervals I got the mysterious bleeding that led to a severe depression and was accompanied by intense pain ... Grete made me see a doctor again ...... but although I began to have an idea about the connection between my double existence and my physical sufferings, I told him nothing about Lili and, of course, he could not help me.


"I therefore started – like all other sick people who do not know what is wrong with them – to study all sorts of books on sexology, but I soon realised that nothing about ordinary men and women could apply to my condition ...... Gradually I arrived at the conviction that I was both man and woman, and that it was the woman who was about to take over my body ...... only this theory could explain the physical and mental disturbances that caused me more and more agony.


"Secretly I went to a specialist and explained to him what I thought about myself, but he only shook his head and regarded me as mad ......


"My condition became worse and worse and Grete who was seriously concerned about me suggested that we should leave Paris where it was bleak and cold and go to Italy.


"It was the end of March and on the other side of the Alps we met the blossoming spring ...... Without stopping we travelled straight to Rome where we had arranged to meet one of our friends, an Italian officer, whom we had met in Florence on our first trip to Italy and with whom we had since corresponded. He was now home on leave after a long service in the colonies. He
[Page 59]
received us at the station and drove with us to the hotel where he waited while we changed to take us out to dinner. I was terribly worn out from the long railway journey and had indescribable pains, but I did not want to spoil the evening for the others and so I went.


"We sat at Facciano's; the cool evening air flowed in through the open door from the beautiful Piazza Colonna ...... I shall never forget that evening ..... The band played the latest tunes of the day, and right across from me sat Grete ...... she looked as though she was only twenty-five. The weariness had disappeared as if by a stroke, her eyes sparkled and around her lips lay a dreamy smile. And next to her sat our friend, Ridolfo Feruzzi, and looked equally splendid ....... When we met him the first time he was a young, lively lieutenant, we thought that it would only be a fleeting acquaintance, and when we parted we thought it was for good ...... But then his letters came from the distant colonies – usually it was Grete he wrote to.


"I felt a pang in my heart and was seized by a deep sadness. I had to think of that time and of the years that had passed. And I thought of myself ...... what had I become?


"I pulled myself together and threw myself eagerly into their conversation. A thousand questions were asked and answered ...... Do you remember So and So? ... What has become of him? ... And Mrs. X? ... What has become of her? ...... Do you remember the afternoon in the casino and the same evening in the cinema at Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele ? ...... All the old names, the familiar places and atmospheres appeared to us ...... I saw it all before me ...... and here I sat with Grete and Ridolfo Feruzzi and laughed just as they did ...... but most often their laughter sounded alone and they looked as they did then, years ago, when they were quite young ...... I made an effort to join the laughter, but it was only an external, forced grimace ...... my previous joy in life was lost. I had changed ...... I had become another ...... a person without the courage to live.


"There in Rome – it is just now a year ago – in this glorious city between the rusty red walls and trickling fountains, it was completely clear to me for the first time, that I had not only changed but that I was facing the end of my existence ...... The mild and at the same time cruel Roman spring was like a sort of
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overture to the last act of my life ...... I knew now that my fate was sealed.


"Grete and I had rented a studio with a wide flower-filled terrace just off Piazza di Spagna . This sunny home in the immediate vicinity of Rome's most beautiful square I will never forget ...... Every day I was sick, every single day ...... and outside our studio window the roses and the many orange trees blossomed.


"Now and then Lili appeared ...... but she too had lost her carefree nature. She cried ...... every time she cried. She understood how wonderful life can be. She felt as if she were going to die.


"Sometimes Grete, who was usually so strong, also cried. She tried to paint but she could not quite get started. When at night I lay beside her, I felt that her eyes, too, were wide open ...... The evenings they usually spent with Feruzzi. His manner had also changed by now. Though he strove to be cheerful he became more and more prey to a morbid melancholy ...... Once he was not able to control himself ...... he said that his life was a failure and that he quite understood people who came to the realisation that a monastery was their last resort ...... I could feel that he meant what he said.


"And then I had to think about Grete! ...... Was not her life a failure too? ...... Had she not sacrificed herself in order that I should not be alone because she felt that I had become a sick person, and because she knew that she was the only one who understood me? I knew her loyalty and her affection for me, I knew that no earthly power could induce her to leave me – now less than ever. But she was still young ...... she still had time to make up for all that she had given up for my sake ...... To me, on the other hand, life no longer had any attraction ..... I know that it sounds trite – to others. But to me it was the bitter truth ..... Why then should I continue to drag myself through life? No doctor would understand what was wrong with me, no one could help me ...... Live on, sick and old before my time? ...... That was a terrible thought to me ...... Quite objectively I settled my score – calmly and rationally – and I came to the result that I had better die.
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Then Grete would be free and life could still grant her many rich years.


"That evening in Rome I made my decision and it remained firm ...... only one thing could induce me to change it ...... I gave myself a year but if I was not able to find a doctor before then who could help me save Lili by separating her from me – I know that it must be hard for others to understand it, but what words should I use? – yes, if I did not find such help I would quietly take leave of life, even if the being who shared my body also had to share my fate ...... I had even set the date of this "execution" that had to take place as discreetly as possible to spare Grete as much as it was in our ...... in Lili's and my power.


"To spare Grete ...... yes, that was the hardest of all ...... I knew only too well how she would take such an ending to my life ...... but in spite of all misgivings, in spite of the consideration for my faithful little friend, I realised that there was no other way ...... it would still be a liberation for both of us.


"When I had made my decision I felt a kind of relief. Now at least I knew that there would be an end to my troubles in the relatively near future ...... My condition worsened day by day and the moment came when Grete realised that I could no longer stay in Rome, but that I had to go back to Paris to receive treatment from a good doctor. And in very low spirits we left Rome – and Ridolfo Feruzzi – on a sunny spring morning, long before we had planned.


"When we found ourselves in the familiar surroundings in Paris again, I got a little better. Once again I saw a few specialists but still with the same negative result ...... a radiologist gave me an X-ray treatment that nearly cost me my life. I saw no reason to postpone the date of my death, it was to be the first of May.


"It was a very hot summer in Paris and for that reason we went out to Versailles where we stayed very close to the park of the palace. Our external life passed as before ...... Neither Grete nor I was inclined to make a fuss about our joys and sorrows ...... Work is the best doctor, I told myself, and as soon as my condition would permit, I went out into the park with
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my painter's box and my easel as in previous years ...... As often as she wanted to, Lili came and tried to amuse herself and Grete.


"The only person who had a fairly correct understanding of my condition was Claude Lejeune. He was a great comfort to both of us. Instinctively he felt what was hidden behind Grete's, mine, and Lili's calm exterior, and without many words he knew how to help us. When he came out to us on Sundays, he brought along the old happy mood. What would we have done without Claude during this period?


"Both he and Grete had realized long ago that the only thing that sustained me now was Lili and therefore we both -@Editor: PLC encouraged her to come as often as possible. ...... Claude often went for long walks with her in the park, and they made plans for the future ...... One evening, when the rays of the setting sun set all the windows and the mirror-like surfaces of the fountains on fire, they walked together arm in arm down the terraces ...... Suddenly they heard a lady who passed exclaim: 'Look, there go two happy people!'


"That evening Claude Lejeune could not regain his happy laugh.

– – –


"Most of our friends and acquaintances understood better than the doctors how ill I was. They of course had to limit their compassion to some sympathetic words, but they still gave me moral support, because I felt that they regarded me as a human being who carried a heavy burden and whose sufferings were a martyrdom and not – as the doctors would have it – imagination and hysteria.


"One day I met in the park an older French painter, whom I knew quite well but had not seen for quite some time. He sympathetically asked about my health, and when I answered evasively, he said to my surprise:


"'I have for some time, without your noticing, observed you, when you sat and painted, and I haven't been able to avoid seeing the great change that has happened to you ...... previously you were well and healthy, now on the other hand – well, you must forgive me for speaking bluntly, now you look like a girl in disguise ...... You are ill, you are even very ill ...... something has happened to you, something that sounds quite fantastic, but it has been seen before that what seems impossible today can be a fact tomorrow ...... Instances of the opposite kind are, of course, also known ...... the doctors are certainly well informed about those ...... Why shouldn't they
[Page 63]
be able to help you too? ...... I understand that it is not easy for a poor painter to pay the huge fee that real skill demands ...... but let us hope you may find a doctor who will render you his assistance for humanitarian and scientific reasons alone.'


"Such a comment was to me like an oasis in the desert and gave me courage and strength to continue my hopeless search for the person who was able to save me.


"During this last summer in Versailles I often noticed that people on the street and in the park – yes, even in the stores where I used to shop – looked astonished and curious at me ...... One morning when I used a corridor through Hôtel des Réservoirs to get to the park more quickly, a couple of young waiters stood there, and when I had passed them, I heard one of them say in the purest Copenhagen dialect – before the war there were always foreign waiters at the hotel, also Danish, because of the many tourists –: 'That was a damned pretty girl, the one in the painters pants!' ...... Of course, I ignored it and hurried on.


"A few days later the woman porter said to me:


"'Please don't be angry, sir, but at the grocery store where you shop they won't believe that you, Sir, are a sir.'


"She stared at me with a couple of wide open and terrified eyes when I laughingly replied:


"'You don't have to be so shocked about that – I am inclined to agree with them.'


"These and other experiences made me feel that the situation was getting precarious ...... Lili could show herself on the street without anybody taking notice, excluding some Don Juan, who would get the idea of following her, while I, although I was perfectly correctly dressed and walked with long, firm masculine steps, could not avoid attracting attention and being taken for a disguised woman ...... it was quite intolerable.


"I consoled myself that Versailles is a small town whose inhabitants show a strong interest in everyone else, but when we returned to Paris in the autumn the case was the same ...... only the Parisians behaved more discretely. In the Metro, on the buses
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and in the tram I caught glances that told me that in Paris, too, people thought I was not the person that I pretended to be ...... it made a strong impression on me. My nerves were so weakened by my constant sufferings that I could not endure the curious and mocking glances that seemed to follow me.


"I turned to a heart specialist who had previously been kind to me. Grete had seen him a few days earlier to try to explain my and Lili's double life to him, and he had promised her to call one of his colleagues who was a specialist in surgery. But he did not conceal the fact that he considered it an obsession without any physical explanation ...... 'I have examined your husband several times,' he said, 'and I can assure you that he is perfectly normal' ...... Before we went to the doctor together, I solemnly promised myself and Grete that this would be my last attempt ......Not many words had passed between me and the two doctors before I got the impression that they had made a common plan for how to rid me of my 'hysterical whim' ...... They subjected me to a rather superficial examination and subsequently let me understand – in a tone the irony of which they made no effort to hide – that they considered me to be a hysteric and a malingerer. One of them with whom I had not previously had anything to do even allowed himself to suggest that I was probably in reality – a homosexual, a suggestion that made me quite beside myself. Had Grete not saved the situation with a cheerful laugh, nature would have surpassed my discipline and I would have rushed at him and grabbed him by the throat.


"After this hopeless and to Grete and me equally depressing consultation I soon felt that it had taken my last strength ...... I promised myself that no power on earth would make me see a doctor again ...... I no longer wished to be the laughing stock of the gentlemen physicians ...... my, and by implication also Lili's, death sentence had been passed and what was important now was to live on as quietly and patiently as possible until the time-limit I had given myself had expired.


"Daily life in the studio passed as usual. When our friends and acquaintances came to visit, I was apparently in very good spirits and I made a special effort to maintain my equi-
[Page 65]
librium towards Grete because I was afraid that she would see through me ...... she, too, was in a difficult situation, she had become restless and often, when she thought I did not notice, she watched me so searchingly that I was afraid that she had a suspicion about my plans.


"During these last weeks I felt only one desire: Music. I no longer went to concerts, I had become afraid of moving among strangers, but without caring about the price I bought all the records I could get hold of, both classical and contemporary music. Late in the evening and many times all night too I played the gramophone. I could not have enough music ...... I craved music as a thirsty person in the desert craves water, music was my only consolation, my only refuge whether it made me melt into tears or it was a tune of the day that I played over and over again until Grete, unable to stand it any longer, suggested that we should dance to it ...... I literally lived on music ...... it was not out of sentimentality ...... I was rather imbued with a kind of cold calm, but I felt infinitely lost, at the mercy of a destiny that surpassed my ordinary, human intellect, and the sounds liberated me from my eternal brooding ...... When I listened to music, I did not have to think ......


"Previously I had found distraction through books, I had gradually accumulated a whole library in the studio ...... Now I never opened a book. What pleasure would I have from reading about the destiny of other people, I knew that I would never in any book find anything about people who were like me ...... no poet had yet written about such a being, because it had never occurred to any poet that it could exist. And what could the philosophers of antiquity and the present give me when their whole thinking only dealt with men and women whose mind and soul had their own body ...... Plato knew that there were people whose emotional life is on the boundary between men's and women's ...... but in my ailing body two sharply divided beings lived who were foreign and almost hostile to each other, although they also had compassion with each other, because each of them knew that this body only had room for one. One of these beings had to be destroyed, or they both had to die ...... During these nights I was beyond the limit of mad-
[Page 66]
ness ...... I imagined that this body that tormented me so cruelly no longer belonged to me alone but that my share in it grew smaller day by day because it contained another being who demanded her life with my life as payment. I felt like an impostor, a usurper, controlling a body that already no longer belonged to him ...... I felt like someone who only owned the façade of his house ...... it was madness to follow these feelings to their logical end, because there was no end to them except one: that I had to go ...... That is why I could not live anymore.

– – –


"Now and then Lili still came, however, and both Grete and I were happy at her coming. Lili was happier than I, we both knew that, and Lili knew that she was able to comfort Grete ...... At Grete's request they often stayed together for several days ...... it was also easier for Grete to get through the nights when she had Lili by her side. Lili fell asleep more easily, and when she slept, Grete could also sleep ...... But often Lili cried without Grete discovering it. She had always had her own dream world, beautiful bright dreams – but now they were gone. Only for a few nights they had returned, and each dream had been a continuation of the previous. It was winter, and she dreamt of a spring filled with sun ...... she told Grete about her dreams, but she knew it was only a dream and she was afraid. But the next night she had an even more beautiful dream that put her fear to flight. Grete had quietly recorded many of her dreams in her diary and she once told me about them in a way as if it were a great secret.


"'Don't attach too much importance to Lili's reverie, it's only fiction and imagination,' I replied and turned away ......


"But these dream novels were Grete's and Lili's constant topic of conversation, and the only thing that gave them new courage and kept their hopes up, their ardent hope that a miracle would happen.


"Then it was February ...... Our best friends, Elena and Ernesto, had returned to Paris. It was Elena who took me to see the German professor who is responsible for my being here now ...... Today it is the third of March ...... in just under two months we have the first of May ...... and then Andreas Sparre will no longer exist ...... Whether Lili survives this day and will be able to continue her own life – that is in the hand of Professor Werner Kreutz."

Page 67



When Andreas came back to his hotel, it was almost morning. An icy cold March morning.


He stood for a long time at the window of his hotel room and looked out across the deserted square in front of the railway station . A couple of taxi cabs were parked there and a few delayed night wanderers glided like shadows through the light falling out across the square from the glass walls of the elongated railway station hall – a tired and faded light ...... Only the morning air was fresh and awake.


Shivering with cold he closed the window.


He was very tired ..... but it was a pleasant tiredness, as when after a long and exhausting walk one throws down a heavy burden that has bent one's back. The walk was over. The burden no longer weighed him down. He had this night thrown it down, as he confessed to his friends and told them about his and Lili's – to himself so incomprehensible – double life.


He slowly undressed and stood naked in front of the mirror. He thought of the words he had said himself: "I am as one who owns only the façade of his own house" ...... The mirror showed him this façade ...... a flawless male body.


But what was hidden behind the façade?


No, he would not ask any more.


Now he would only sleep ...... a good, deep sleep.


Behind him lay the road he had travelled. Now he was at the goal ...... and on the other side there was no longer any path for him. He was at the end of his road ...... if there were a new road, it was not his but Lili's.


He was prepared.


This knowledge of his own fate gave him certainty, peace and equilibrium. -@Editor: PLC


It was late in the morning when he woke up. He was in a light, almost ethereal mood. He took a bath, ate
[Page 68]
lunch, and in a light and carefree manner went out on his last visits to the doctors that appeared to him as a series of pleasant experiences.


"I am like a traveller who has left his luggage behind," he thought, "like someone who has taken a holiday from himself." -@Editor: PLC


But in the middle of Leipzigerstrasse he heard the loud whisper of a child's voice: "Look mummy, there is a lady in men's clothes!"


He turned around and looked into two frightened blue eyes of a child. It was a little girl about ten years old with a thick yellowish-white pigtail. She turned scarlet and embarrassed hid behind her mother who also stared at him in astonishment and hastily pulled the child with her.


Andreas too had turned scarlet. Now he no longer smiled. A peculiar hard defiance shot up in him ...... as if the man in him were offended. Without thinking about it and without wanting to, he placed himself in front of a shop and curiously studied his own reflection in the shiny pane ...... Then he turned away annoyed:


"That is no concern of mine." -@Editor: PLC


He stubbornly repeated this phrase several times ...... then he looked at his watch, it was just around the time when he was to report at Dr. Gebhard's clinic -@Editor: PLC. He stopped a taxi and exactly on time he was at the clinic.


He was received by a nurse and at once he was taken to see the senior physician -@Translator: MO, a young, blond, almost athletically built man who kindly observed him with a pair of clever, cheerful, light blue eyes in which he glimpsed a certain curiosity.


"I've had a long telephone conversation with my friend, Professor Kreutz," he said, "and therefore I'm fully aware of your case. I've also had a conversation with Professor Arno who has examined you here in Berlin. He will be present at the operation I will perform on you ...... but that does not prevent me from wanting to speak with you a little myself ...... It is always best to form a personal impression."


The senior physician apparently wished to give this conversation a physical basis for he asked Andreas to undress. Andreas obeyed and lay down on one of those examination benches which by now he had gotten to know thoroughly in Berlin.


"Yes," the doctor established, after a long and careful ex-
[Page 69]
amination, "you are in every respect what you pass for in civil life: a normally built man ...... but yet you have certain unconditionally female forms ...... this combination surprises me ......"


While Andreas dressed again, the senior physician walked back and forth deep in thought as he observed him continually. Only now and then he stopped to glance at his file, then he said:


"I know that you are in a hurry ...... but it can't be today ...... shall we say that you come here tomorrow afternoon around four o'clock? Then you can spend the morning going up to Professor Hardenfeld and have the photographs taken that Professor Kreutz would like to have before the operation ...... Let me see, today is Tuesday, then we'll schedule the operation for tomorrow Wednesday evening."


"Yes, thank you, doctor," Andreas answered in an almost enthusiastic tone, and after having exchanged a firm handshake with the doctor, he left the clinic and was again out in the open air.

– – –


"Then I have been given a short respite," he said to himself and looked at his watch. It was late in the afternoon and he took a cab and drove back to the hotel ...... He felt that he could not strain his body and his nerves any further ...... The previous long night when he had confessed to his friends and the noise from the strange city had been hard on him.


"I myself won't play anymore," he said "...... I have made my bid ...... for Lili ...... therefore I must save my strength ......"


This was his last thought before he – it was not yet eight o'clock – made himself comfortable in the wide hotel bed and fell into a dreamless sleep.

– – –


Wednesday morning Andreas left the hotel early. It was a fresh and clear March day. He walked down Friedrichsstrasse, turned into Unter den Linden and stopped at Pariserplatz in front of the simple and powerful architecture of Brandenburger Gate. A glaring, light March sun gilded this most beautiful, almost classically pure street view of the German capital making Andreas think of the wonderful squares of Paris ...... German architecture too was able to
[Page 70]
produce something perfect, he thought, here a lot was to be learned. The painter had awakened in him ...... he strolled into Tiergarten ...... The sun shone on the emerging leaves and the old foliage from the year before shone like precious bronze. He turned into a narrow path leading him to a tiny lake where some cheerfully quacking ducks swam about and the interlacing branches of the tall trees were reflected in the smooth and almost completely still water.


Andreas stopped. This small piece of nature in the middle of the noisy metropolis surprised him. He embraced the image ...... He had to think of other mornings that he had spent in Italy, in France, and in Denmark, where as a happy person he had listened to nature through his eyes ...... With his painter's box, easel and canvas he had walked along far away from the city and the people and had been happy about his fate, happy to be a painter and possess the ability to completely give himself up to the moment ...... The important thing was not to miss a single one of these precious moments releasing his innermost urge. Most often he painted as in a fever, he could barely wait until he had fixed to the canvas the image he absorbed through his eyes, which had been blown clean and clear by the wind during his walking, which were stronger and brighter than other people's dull eyes, and which saw ...... saw! -@Editor: PLC He had always loved that word. And he loved it even at this moment ...... In moments like this he had identified with the incomprehensible, the restless, this play between light and shadow, between colours and shapes, in the diversity of shades and in the winding curves of the lines ...... He had always appeared to himself as a fowler secretly lying in wait and using all bait until he has reached his goal.


In this way he had created his pictures, built them up on the dead canvas with dead colours until what his eyes had learned by listening suddenly began to come alive under his brush ...... It is only an echo, he said to himself, a dull echo my pictures are ...... but yet they are an echo ...... And he felt happy, devout and humble like an initiate. These hours had been the only true and real happiness of his life. The joy he felt had belonged to him, him alone, he had not shared it with any other being, he owned it, it was his, and he had neither robbed nor stolen it from anyone else ...... It had been
[Page 71]
his wealth, his property. Could he transfer this wealth to someone else? ...... Like an anxiety he felt this question in him, never before had it appeared in his soul ...... Can one pass on one's joy to someone else? ...... It had been his joy to paint, but to him, Andreas Sparre, this joy was irrevocably over ...... And Lili? If she survived him, would she then feel the same urge to paint? Could he as a poor compensation for the life he had stolen from her, for the many years of life, leave her this happiness, this creative zest? ...... If he could, the feeling of guilt that so often weighed him to the ground would become lighter.


He had to think of Lili ...... She had quite different qualities than he did, in all areas she was different from him ...... With a smile he thought of how she had always loathed touching paint because she was afraid of soiling her fingers, while he often without hesitation had used his fingers as a brush ...... He burst into a loud laugh ...... here he was thinking of the inheritance that he would leave ...... but was there anything to leave at all? ...... Well, he did have a small proof, however, that he had accomplished something, the French government had bestowed an order -@Editor: PLC on him ...... this he could not share with anyone ...... oh, vanity!


Should he turn back? He stood on a small, neat, slightly arched bridge from where he could see into a channel whose water rushed through a half open lock and fell like a cloud of dust ...... it sparkled and glittered in this waterfall en miniature.


"Yes, I am as one who tries to sail against the current up over a waterfall," he thought, "and I feel that the current has grabbed me and overpowered me ...... I no longer know where it leads me ...... perhaps towards complete destruction ...... and yet I cannot get off the boat now that I am halfway, the decision has been made ...... there is no turning back."

– – –


Half an hour later he arrived at Professor Hardenfeld's Institute of Sexual Science. He had to wait a long time for the photographer who, at the request of the doctors, was to take the photographs of his and Lili's common body ... What will become of all this? he asked him-
[Page 72]
self. His happy, confident mood was gone, he felt an infinite fatigue ...... He would prefer to quietly sit himself in a corner and cry.


A lady, one of the Professor's assistants, came out to him in the waiting room and started a conversation with him. He confined himself to listening to her. She was very tactful and he felt that things would turn out as she said, without curiosity or emotion he listened to her words.


"Your case," she said, "is something quite new to us, and what makes it particularly interesting to science is that you are an artist and thus in a position to analyse your emotional life. You will get to experience something incredible. First you have lived and felt as a man, and in future you will live and feel as a woman. I have to think of the Roman emperor who killed himself because he could not experience that which will now become your fate."


Andreas had the impression that it was someone else she was talking about, and that she was telling him something about this other person that he had known for a long time. But her compassionate and natural manner of speaking did him good ...... It is only the Germans who are able to combine objectivity and cordiality like this, he thought.


When the photographer finally appeared, Andreas had regained his outer carefree attitude ...... No relapse, now, he commanded himself, once again unconsciously appealing to his male pride -@Editor: PLC. When the photographing was over and he had left the institute, he invited himself to a farewell lunch. He chose one of Berlin's best restaurants, assembled the meal with great care, starting with lobster à l'américaine and ordered a bottle of Liebfrauenmilch.


When he paid two hours later, the head waiter said in fluent French:


"Monsieur has probably come here to have fun ...... Berlin is also renowned for its music and theatre ...... And as to the ladies ...... here on Kurfürstendamm ......"


"Yes," Andreas interrupted and added, in a fit of black humour, "here in this excellent establishment that fully matches the best restaurants in Paris I see many both beautiful and really elegant and tastefully dressed women who could just as well belong in Paris or Rome ...... There are several of them
[Page 73]
for whom I would be happy to sacrifice my heart's peace, if I was not to undergo a fateful operation in a couple of hours."


The head waiter stared at him in astonishment. -@Editor: PLC

– – –


Andreas drove back to the hotel where he paid his bill. Then he took a cab again and drove to Thomasiusstrasse to say goodbye to his friends.


"You certainly don't look anything like a sacrificial animal!" Niels exclaimed laughing.


But Inger threw up her hands in horror:


"But Andreas ... in a few hours you are going to have surgery, and then you come here with a strong cigar in your mouth!"


And she snatched the cigar from him.


"What does it matter? I have just consumed my last meal before the execution, or rather I have, although it is a little early in the day, celebrated ." my Polterabend -@Translator: MO -@Editor: PLC


Inger took his hand:


"I have not once been a nurse for nothing ...... I know how to behave when you have to undergo surgery, and it is definitely not as you behave, Andreas ...... It's childish behaviour when you go out throwing your money around like that ...... it is quite out of place ..... by the way you look quite unwell ...... Niels had better go with you."


And so it was. Without a cigar and supervised by Niels, Andreas made his appearance at the clinic.


He was very anxious but everything went in a businesslike way. The two gentlemen were received by a nurse who led them into a dazzling white room smelling of all sorts of disinfectants, right next to the operating room to which the door was open. A couple of nurses were busy in there. It looked as if they were in the process of getting everything ready for an operation. A strong, sweetish smell streamed out through the door.


Sister Marianne apologised to the gentlemen. The senior physician had been delayed and could not arrive until around six o'clock. They had to have a little patience.


It was just before four o'clock and Niels made a despairing face.


"No, really sister, I can't stand it!" he said almost frightened. "Is there any reason why my friend and I cannot go and wait at the Romanisches Café next door?"

Page 74

After Andreas had solemnly promised to come back punctually they were allowed to leave. Niels looked as if he were escaping.


When they had found a seat in the café right across from the shelves with newspapers, Andreas discovered that the newspaperman who stood only a few meters away from them was red haired and hunchbacked. In an instant he jumped up and walked back towards the man who stared at him in surprise. Andreas gave him a mark, put his hand on his hump for a moment, and gave him another mark. Then he walked backwards towards the man and sat on his chair beside Niels.


"It brings luck, you know," he said, "it is an old Italian superstition ..... I'm not normally superstitious, but now I feel convinced that the operation will go well ...... If you have touched a man's hump, you are protected against all evil ...... a woman's hump on the other hand has just the opposite effect, it brings misfortune."


Niels shook his head and laughed:


"There you see how well I take care of everything for you!"


"And now we'll have a funeral feast with fine old Rhine wine," Andreas said.


When the waiter brought the wine, Andreas asked for three glasses.


"Three?" Niels asked.


"Yes, the hunchback will have a drink with us, of course."


The newspaperman did not hesitate although he did not understand the reason for the invitation.


"One is not usually so well treated," he smiled looking at his hosts. He took his glass, raised it and said addressing Andreas:


"To your health, sir! May your good heart live even longer than you!"


"Bravo! The guy speaks like a prophet!" Niels shouted and gaped when he saw his friend grab the hand of the hunchback and press it warmly. Then Andreas raised his glass and said to the newspaperman as he once again touched his hump lightly with the other hand:


"You don't how much good your words have done me ...... Let's drink to the fact that it may go as you wish."


He clinked his glass against the hunchback's ..... And cheerfully they emptied the rest of the bottle.


When they left the hunchback looked long and seriously after them.

Page 75



In the room waiting for Andreas at the clinic the light was already on. A nurse led him in and took down the patient's name and the date, hung a fever chart over the bed, and asked him to go to bed at once ...... the doctor would come soon.


"I suppose it's best if I leave right away?" Niels asked.


Andreas nodded with a smile:


"Yes, old friend, by all means go. I'll make an effort to fulfill the wish of the hunchback."


Niels wanted to say something, but his friend pushed him towards the door.


"You are right, Andreas ...... I could easily go and be sentimental."


A brief handshake and Andreas was alone.


He walked mechanically up and down the floor a few times. There were no thoughts in his brain. Without knowing it he began to count his steps ......that's seven paces long and six paces wide ...... He sat on the bed and looked around. It was a quite ordinary hospital room. Bright walls, bed, table and chairs – all painted white. He slowly started his undressing and suddenly he remembered that this was the last time that he, Andreas Sparre, undressed ...... that he was taking leave of his jacket, his vest his trousers, etc. ...... For a whole lifetime he had been dressed in these clothes, and as he took them off he looked at each piece for a long time ...... He placed the coat over the vest on a hanger that he hung in the closet as he had usually done since ...... Yes, since when? He still sat for a long time looking at each of his garments and passing his hand over them ...... What will become of you, he asked smiling bitterly, and what will become of me? ...... which one of us will survive the other ..... I? You? My poor clothes
[Page 76]
...... I had completely forgotten to think of you ...... perhaps you consider me a traitor to you .....


He sat for a long time like this, like a dying man taking leave of his surroundings ...... He took his hat, which lay on the table.


"You too ...... I had almost forgotten you ...... Haven't I forgotten other things? ......"


He examined his jacket and took a picture from the inside breast pocket that he put on the table leaning against the wall.


"Grete!" he said softly and was just going to caress it when there was a knock.


The door was opened, and the senior physician entered accompanied by a young assistant doctor.


"Well, how have you spent the day?" Dr. Gebhardt -@Editor: PLC asked him casually, "I hear that you've had a funeral feast ...... that was rather unnecessary as this initial surgery can be considered quite safe, but I'm glad that you appreciate wine. Your friend has told me which brand you drank ...... It's just a little unfortunate that it forces me to postpone the operation until tomorrow morning ...... this kind of procedure should be performed when the stomach is empty. But in order that the time will not seem too long I'll give you a sedative for the night ...... Good night and take courage!"


Doctor Gebhard gave him a light handshake and he was once again alone.


"Still wait, wait, wait ...... How difficult it is to be patient, my friend," he said to the picture standing on the table beside his bed. He looked at it for a long time.


"Grete, Grete," he stammered, then he fell back into the white pillows and for the first time really felt how tired and exhausted he was. The hectic days in Berlin only now reached his consciousness ...... Finally he was allowed to admit that his strength was spent ...... now no one saw him, not even Grete, and the last remnant of male defiance in which he had sought refuge from his friends and the doctors during these painful days, as in a heavy and cumbersome armour, now fell from him.


"Grete ...... it's a good thing that you don't see me now ...... But I mustn't cry ...... I must, I have to go through with this."


Then it occurred to him that he did not know anything about
[Page 77]
what the first operation consisted of ...... he had thought that here in Berlin he was only to be examined and put under the observation of the doctors ...... And Grete still thought so ...... he had received only a few postcards from her. It had been decided that she would go directly to Dresden to be with him when Professor Kreutz had operated on him ...... Shouldn't he send her a telegram? Wasn't it wrong of him to keep what was going to happen tomorrow a secret from her? No, why should he make her anxious – he had not himself expected that his, Andreas Sparre's, fate was to end here in Berlin ...... End? ...... He had to smile: I'm all right ...... He thought of the hunchback and of his words. -@Editor: PLC


He had paper and a fountain pen lying on the table and he wrote:


Berlin, Wednesday evening, March 4th


Dear, sweet, little Grete!


Tomorrow morning I will have surgery ...... The doctor says that it is a small and quite harmless operation, that is why I have not asked you to come ...... Should things turn out differently, however, then I will tell you now tonight that I will think of you every hour, every minute until the last moment, my brave and loyal little comrade, my dearest friend. My last wish concerns you and your future happiness ...... You will inherit the happy disposition that was once mine ...... in this way my soul will always live on within you ––– a thousand kisses from Lili ......


Yours and only yours



– – –


An hour later Inger came to see him. He handed her the letter and asked her to give it to Grete if ......


"You silly, silly man -@Translator: MO ...... It has to go well. Niels has already told me about your special guardian angel and his hump ......"


At ten o'clock the assistant doctor returned to give Andreas the promised sleeping powder. Shortly afterwards the nurse came and prepared the room for the night ...... she turned the light off ......and everything was quiet.


In this, Andreas Sparre's last night, his sleep was deep and without dreams. He was
[Page 78]
allowed to sleep until the doctors came in the morning. He had barely had time to make the necessary toilette when Professor Arno stood beside his bed and asked him to sign a statement saying that he, Andreas Sparre, underwent the surgery according to his own wish, and that Dr. Gebhard would be exempt from any responsibility if the operation was unsuccessful.


"With pleasure," he said, and immediately signed the statement that was addressed to some higher authority, thinking:


"In other words, this means that if I die it's no use that I come and make a fuss afterwards."


"Can't I add a few lines?" he asked. "I so much want to express my gratitude to the German doctors because they will ty to save me."


But the Professor shook his head with a smile:


"No, that is not possible ...... Now you'll stay quietly in bed, we will anesthetize you here in your bed ...... it is the most comfortable for you ...... Professor Kreutz has wished to be notified by phone as soon as the operation is over."


When Andreas was alone again, he took his fountain pen and hastily wrote down the following lines:


Professor Kreutz,


At the last moment before my surgery, I feel compelled to convey to you my most heartfelt thanks. Since the day I met you in Paris, I have been full of hope, and here in Berlin where I did not know a single one of the doctors who have examined me and assisted me, I have all the time had the feeling that an invisible power was watching over me and opening all doors for me. I know that this power is you, and that all the good that I have met comes from you. Whatever happens I am infinitely grateful to you ...... my life depends entirely on you. -@Editor: PLC


Very faithfully yours


Andreas Sparre .

– – –


With a feeling of infinite relief Andreas sank back into the bed. Now everything was arranged ...... in a few minutes the waiting would be over.

Page 79

And in this moment when he was on the threshold of the unknown, he suddenly remembered a winter day in Paris. Tired and miserable, tormented by pain, he had sought refuge in the old church, Saint Germain des Prés . He had never been there before, but he had gone there to rest in the incense scented twilight of the venerable room under the high vaults that had looked down on the hopes and sufferings of so many generations. On one of the pillars hung a peculiar and very beautiful gothic picture: a Madonna. There he had stopped and he who since his childhood had never said a prayer and who considered himself to be completely irreligious had knelt between a pair of old women, folded his hands, and prayed to the gothic Madonna:


"You who are love and mercy, help me! Free me from my disheartened and sick body and let me die ...... or let a miracle happen!"


It had seemed to him that the Madonna had looked at him with a smile ...... A few days later, he had met Professor Werner Kreutz.


And now he lay here in Berlin waiting for the miracle to begin. Had Madonna really heard his prayer? When he left Paris, he had found an old, Spanish, miniature, silver Madonna in his wallet. Grete had once discovered it in an antique shop in Seville, and happy she had shown him the small piece of jewellery.


"Do you know," she said, "I have a feeling, that the pretty little Madonna has been waiting for us there in the basement ...... she'll be our talisman."


Since then Grete had worn the ornament day and night on a fine chain, and without him noticing it, she had given it to him at his departure ...... cautiously he kissed the small image. -@Editor: PLC


A moment later the assistant doctor came:


"Now then, you'll have a little injection, and when you wake up again, it will all be over."

– – –


When Andreas woke up again, in acute pain, it was almost noon. With a scream he opened his eyes. At first he thought, terrified, that he had woken up too soon and that he was still on the operating table ...... but gradually he realised
[Page 80]
that he was lying in his bed. He remembered that the assistant doctor had given him an injection but after that everything vanished in a fog ...... then he discovered that two nurses were bent over him and spoke to him reassuringly. Little by little his consciousness became more and more clear, but at the same time the pain grew more intense ..... he clenched his teeth ...... he did not want to scream ...... and he did not scream again.


"Was I very noisy?" he asked.


"Well," one of them answered with a smile, "you did make a little noise ...... and what was most strange was that your voice was completely changed. In a high, light woman's voice you called out: 'Don't leave me ...... don't leave me ...... I'm so alone ...... and I can't be alone yet ...... I'm afraid to ......'"


The senior physician came in, took his hand and pressed it lightly.


"You are doing quite well ...... allow me to pay you a compliment ...... you have a wonderful soprano voice ...... just ask the nurses ...... you must preserve that, it can bring you a lot of pleasure later in life."


Andreas wanted to speak but the doctor was already off again. "Give him an injection," he had whispered to one of the nurses in passing.


"Give him an injection," Andreas said like a child who repeats a word without knowing what it means ...... And shortly afterwards the quiet grey fog closed around him again.


Towards evening he was woken by a fit of coughing. He had the feeling that his whole body would be torn to pieces, it was horrible. He tried to suppress his cough, he had never imagined that coughing could be so extremely painful. But he did not succeed. One of the nurses sat beside the bed and looked at him in bewilderment ...... she dared not give him something to drink.


Finally the fit was over. He was quite exhausted. The nurse wiped the sweat off his brow.


"I suppose you have smoked a lot," she said, "perhaps even yesterday."


On the table beside him lay a package of cigarettes.


"Take them away, throw that rubbish out the window," he asked, "I'll never smoke again in my life ...... I swear to it."


And he remembered the cigar that Inger had
[Page 81]
taken from him yesterday – it was Andreas' very last cigar ...... A new fit of coughing later in the evening increased his aversion to tobacco. He could not imagine ever taking a cigarette again ...... and this distaste for smoking was passed on to Lili.


Niels was permitted to look in on him for a moment.


"Well, you are doing splendidly," he said.


"Oh yes, but it hurts," Andreas answered, and at the sound of his voice Niels looked at the nurse in astonishment.


"Yes," she whispered, "it's a completely different voice."


Niels sat down on the chair by Andreas:


"Inger sends her warmest regards ...... she'll come tomorrow morning, and she'll bring something that will please you ...... But what is the matter?"


"I can't stand it ...... You'd better go ...... It's the pain!"


The nurse beckoned to Niels. He tiptoed out of the room, and Andreas begged to have a new injection ...... He had several in the course of the night.


The following day he felt as exhausted as after wandering through a desert. The pains were still there, but they had become more distant and more subdued, at least as long as he did not move.


"Do not think about the pain at all," the nurse said, "just lie still and don't move."


"Just lie still and don't move." Like a child he kept on repeating the words ...... Only now and then a question rose to the surface in him: Who am I ...... What am I?


The next morning Inger came with a big bottle of Eau de Cologne and fresh flowers whose scent filled the sickroom. As a thirsty person he put his face among the flowers. Never in his life had he imagined that the smell of flowers could be such a heavenly gift.


And how good Inger was! Silently and smiling she slid around the small room like a mother with her sick child, he thought, while she made the nurse bring her a vase and arranged the flowers. Then she spread a beautiful, multicoloured silk scarf, which she had brought in her purse, over the table and placed the flowers on the windowsill. When she was done, she sat beside the bed and gently stroked the trembling hands of the patient while she spoke softly and
[Page 82]
encouragingly to him ...... She had always been on formal terms with him, but now she was on familiar terms ...... this did not occur to him until a few days later ...... and during these first days she avoided calling him by any name.


"Now everything will be well! ...... You just have to be confident and patient ...... Life will be wonderful for you ...... trust me, I know."


Then she stopped talking – she just sat quietly and let her cool hand slide over his feverish forehead ...... He forgot his anxiety and his pain and settled down a little ...... Time passed ...... as in dreams he heard her slip away ...... and he fell asleep.


Every morning she came back with new flowers and good words. A day passed, two days, three days. Most of the time he was like a child who has not yet woken up to real life ...... And the nights which the sleeping medicine brought him through were without dreams.


One day Inger brought a particularly splendid bouquet of spring flowers and, blissful, he wanted to kiss her hands:


"You are my good angel, Inger."


But she stopped him:


"No, today you mustn't thank me ...... it's not from me, it's from a good, distant friend."


"Is it from Claude Lejeune?"


Inger nodded. Then she opened the small white letter placed in the bouquet and read:


"Each flower in this bouquet is a greeting to Lili!"


For a long time Andreas hid his face in the flowers, and Inger could not see that his eyes were filled with tears. Then he asked:


"I wonder if Claude will ever find her again?"


"Who do you mean?"


"His Lili."


He scribbled a thank you on a card and handed it to Inger:


"Will you send this for me?"


Without wanting to, Inger had happened to look at the handwriting.


"Did you write this?"


"Yes, you saw that, Inger!"


"Well, then she is already there, Claude's Lili! See for yourself."


Andreas looked at the card and did not recognize his own handwriting ...... it was a woman's writing.

Page 83

Inger ran out to the assistant doctor who was standing in the corridor and handed him the card:


"Look at this, doctor, no man could have written this, right?"


"No," the doctor admitted surprised, "you are right, it's a new sign ...... right after the other."


"What do you mean?"


"Haven't you noticed the voice? ...... It is no longer a man's voice."


"Oh, you!" Inger exclaimed when she was back in the sick-room ...... she could not say any more, she was crying.

– – –


When Andreas was alone, he very softly said a few words to listen to his own voice ...... Was it really true? ...... And he continued to speak until the words faded away and he dozed off again.


Suddenly he was torn from his sleep. It was night. A horrible scream passed through the thin wall into the darkness of his room. A scream he had never heard the like of. At first he thought that it was he himself who had screamed ...... but no, there was another scream, it sounded as if it were a young animal being tortured to death ...... He could not stand it any more ...... It must be someone who was being murdered.


"Help! Help!" he shouted and rang the bell furiously.


The door was torn open and the nurse rushed breathlessly to him.


"For heaven's sake, what's the matter with you?"


"With me?"


He looked at her in bewilderment, then he heard the scream again ...... and now he realised that it came from the room next to his.


"Who is screaming, Sister? Is someone dying?"


The nurse smiled:


"No, on the contrary, someone is being born ...... it's a young lady next door who has had her first child, a lovely little girl ...... but now it's over ...... Can you hear, she is no longer screaming ...... and in a few days we'll have her back on her feet again. But I understand that you were frightened, it is not very pleasant when you are not used to it." -@Editor: PLC

Page 84

He did not know what to answer. He only felt a strange, deep shame ...... then he began to cry. The nurse stayed for a long time and tried in vain to calm him ...... then she fetched the syringe – and everything, anxiety and shame, this new, unknown sense of shame, all the many urgent questions sank into the usual fog.


Later the nurse told him that she had stayed with him until morning, and that all the time he had whispered:


"Yes, yes, that is how I'll have to give birth to myself!"


She did not know that the person who said these words had already become another being. -@Editor: PLC

– – –


The next morning Inger said, beaming with joy:


"Can you guess who will be here in three days?"




"Yes, here is her letter."


He was just about to start reading it when the senior physician entered.


"Oh, you are just the man we are looking for, doctor, when do you think that I can begin to get out of bed?"


"Do you want to get out of bed? There is no rush ... You are doing quite well here in your bed with such a lovely, merciful sister to care for you," the doctor replied and gallantly kissed Inger's hand.


"Yes, that's true ...... but in three days my wife will come."


The doctor was startled and looked first at the assistant doctor and then at Inger:


"Well, yes, that's true ...... but we had better wait, nevertheless ...... it's possible that your wife will find you somewhat changed."


He left the room quickly with his assistant, but Andreas had time to see that he was at pains to suppress his amusement.


"Why did he laugh at me?" Andreas asked, "did I say something wrong?"


"Stupid Lili!"


That was all Inger could answer.

Page 85



Three days later, early in the morning, even before they had finished the cleaning, which was seen to by the scrubbing ward maids and the shiny white nurses, Grete appeared, elegant, fresh from a good night's sleep, wrapped in fur, Parisienne from head to foot.


The nurse on duty immediately knew who she was.


"Oh, it's Mrs. Sparre isn't it?" she said ......"let me show you the way ...... You are eagerly expected ...... Please, excuse the disorder here, we haven't yet finished the morning cleaning."


Grete took off her right glove and held out her hand to the nurse. She had to suppress a little smile as she saw how her red fingernails and her even redder lips and most of all the fragrance emanating from her fur and mingling with the smell in the corridor of green soap and well-scrubbed floors made them all stare at her. -@Editor: PLC


Then she was in the sickroom.


She had come in without making the slightest noise. The morning sun touched the white bed in which she saw a pale face rising as if woken from a dream. Two big, deep, brown eyes looked towards her and the lips quivered but remained mute. -@Editor: PLC


With open arms Grete stopped as if petrified in the middle of the room without being able to move. She fought back her tears. But she would not cry ...... she wanted to smile. She wanted to say hello with a few happy words ...... but the big, brown eyes held her ...... a few infinitely long seconds passed ...... then a narrow ray of sun touched the patient's face, passed over the dark eyes whose look lit up in a beginning exultation and enkindled a silvery lustre ...... the lustre of two pearly tears ...... Then Grete tore herself from her astonishment ...... and sobbing sank on her knees in front of the sick bed.

Page 86

What these two people felt at their reunion, what they lived through and said to each other during this silent time together – words cannot render. -@Editor: PLC


Late in the evening when Grete was alone with her confused thoughts and conflicting emotions she wrote the following letter to her friend in Paris, to Claude Lejeune:


"What I have experienced today, I cannot describe ...... I can only suggest, Claude, not explain. Andreas is dead ...... I could no longer find him. But I found a pale and lovely creature. It was Lili and yet not her, not the Lili we knew in Paris, but someone else, an entirely new creature. Her voice, the expression in her eyes, her handshake, everything was new ... Is it a transformation or is it a being who is in the process of finding herself? I suppose it must be the latter. She is so womanly and untouched by life ...... no, womanly is not the right word, I would rather call it girlish, almost childlike, shy and insecure with a thousand questions on her lips ...... I feel as if I am faced with a wonder, and I am much too moved and fascinated to be able to find the right words ...... And at the same time I know that unimaginable sufferings still await her before her soul is completely disentangled from the mantle enclosing it ...... What a destiny, Claude! I shudder when I try to think it through. It is a mercy from heaven that she is still too weak to look back or forward, she herself is barely able to realise her present condition. I talked to the doctors ......This first operation has only been the beginning of the sex transformation that now is to develop clinically, but so far everything has gone better than could be expected ...... Andreas has now ceased to exist, they say, the glands, which made him a man, have been removed. What has to be done next will be done in Dresden by Professor Werner Kreutz ...... The doctors also said something about hormones, and I pretended to understand what they meant ...... Now I have looked it up in a medical book, and it says that "Hormones are stimulating or rousing substances belonging to the internal secretion and accelerating, possibly sparking off the activity of other organs." That did not tell me much ...... But what use is wisdom and
[Page 87]
knowledge when it comes to a miracle? I can only believe in it. What I experienced at the clinic appears to me as the solution to the mystery which through the many difficult years has tormented Andreas and us who lived with him and which has seemed quite insoluble to us ...... But the solution has yet not been completed. I know it, and Lili suspects it ...... Her innermost being is still tied and bound, and only Professor Kreutz will be in a position to undo the ties. Everyone here, the doctors, the nurses, Niels and Inger observe with wonder the great external change that has happened to 'the little patient,' but they do not really know if they should still consider this suffering being a man, or if they should already address her as a woman. And what is their astonishment against mine? Day in and day out I lived with this poor, sick person. We have only been apart the few weeks since he left Paris, and now I am facing a new person whom I almost do not know. And what has happened to me will happen to you and Elena and Ernesto to whom you must show this letter for I cannot bear to write any more ...... I must only add that when Lili, this new, sweet Lili, like a little sister – yes, that is how I felt – sought refuge in my arms crying, she stammered:


'Are you angry with me because ...... because Andreas robbed you of your most beautiful years? ......'


I was so shocked, Claude, that I almost could not utter a word ...... and when I finally felt able to say what I felt, I did not dare ...... It is not me, not me, whom Andreas has deceived, it is herself, Lili, my sweet pale Lili whom he betrayed by depriving her of her life as a young girl ...... Claude, you and I must do everything we can to help this betrayed Lili and make up for what Andreas has done to her ......"

– – –


The next morning, Grete had spent the night at a hotel, the head nurse suggested putting another bed into the sick room so that Grete, before the departure to Dresden which was to take place a few days later, could be close to the patient all the time.


"How nice," Grete answered gratefully, took the nurse's hand and pulled her into the side room that was vacant. She
[Page 88]
quickly fetched a suitcase which she had left standing in the hallway, opened it and whispered softly:


"Dear Sister, let me show you something, and then we will speak no more of him." -@Editor: PLC


She took a lovely silk négligé out from the suitcase:


"Isn't it beautiful?"


"Yes, it will become you wonderfully, madam."


"Me? ...... No it is not for me, it is for ...... for our sweet little friend in there. But," she laid her finger with the painted red nail on her mouth, "hush, it's a secret ...... until tomorrow morning."


Next morning a still slightly pale and timid, but infinitely delighted young lady sat upright in the white sick bed in a delicately scented Parisian négligé supported by the pillows. The assistant doctor almost could not believe his own eyes when he saw this transformation:


"My compliments, Miss! ...... If you promise me to be very brave and very careful you'll have permission to get up for a couple of hours today and move over to the armchair so that you can show yourself to the wondering world ...... but only for two hours and you must stay in this room ...... we must proceed cautiously."


Several of the nurses found a pretext for going into the sick room during the day and the head nurse maternally took Lili in her arms and whispered:


"Now you just have to be brave!" -@Editor: PLC


That was all, no curiosity and no questions, and when the senior physician came to visit with his patient in the evening he, as if it were a matter of course, gallantly took her hand and kissed it saying:


"Good evening, Mademoiselle, I see that you are still doing well!"


Only then did he see Grete:


"I apologize ....."


Lili hastened to introduce:


"This is my ...... this is Mrs. Grete Sparre."


For a moment Grete and the doctor looked at each other with restrained emotion. Then the doctor said with a good-natured laugh:


"Yes, I know that you were married to the missing Andreas Sparre.
[Page 89]
But what can one say? Men are faithless ...... you never know where you are with them."


It was as if Lili in the first days -@Editor: PLC did not really take part in what was happening around her. Without showing any surprise she heard the nurses call her "Miss" or " Miss Lili ," but neither with a word nor a movement did she answer the surprised looks of her friends.


"We must leave her alone," Grete said to Inger and Niels, "she is resting within herself ...... it is all just a passing phase ......the preparation of the free development of her nature."


During this period Grete carefully kept her diary. Every evening she wrote down her observations and the experiences she had had with Lili during the day. In simple, hesitant words she sought to trace the obscure and difficult path along which Lili walked her first steps ......


Here is a single page of this diary:


"With admirable patience Lili endures the after-effects of the surgery although she cries and moans a little morning and evening when the dressing has to be changed, clamps have to be removed and thread pulled out. But she does not complain. 'It must be done,' she says with a resignation which I have never known in her before. She has only one wish, to get to Dresden as soon as possible, to her own professor, that is what she calls him ...... She never speaks about the past ...... Often I have the impression that she has not had any past, as if she has no present either, as if she just exists in the expectation of the life Professor Kreutz will give her."


Another day Grete wrote:


... "Without Lili's knowledge, Inger and I have made preparations for her journey to Dresden. Today we went shopping, and we returned to the clinic with a big multicoloured box.


'Try to guess what this is?' I said.


Lili looked at us and replied without a smile:


'No, I can't!'


Inger cut through the string and pulled a lovely brown fur coat out of the box.


'This is for you, Lili,' Inger said and spread the coat in front of her and showed her the lovely, soft silk lining ......'

Page 90

'That is sweet of you, she answered, but do you think that Professor Kreutz will approve if I make my appearance dressed like that ...... I only hope he can recognise me ......'


And her eyes became sad ...... Oh God, her eyes! ...... Really, they are sad, also when she laughs. Andreas' eyes were quite different ...... Lili's too, back home in Paris ...... It is as if the new Lili's eyes are not yet properly awake ...... as if they still do not believe ...... or maybe they are afraid to show what they believe."

– – –


It was still winter in Berlin when Lili a few days later, wrapped in her first new fur coat, was permitted to leave the clinic for a couple of hours. The senior physician had prescribed a drive.


"We must practice for the great journey to Dresden," he declared, "we must have a little fresh air, show ourselves among people, gather strength."


"Among people" ... These words made Lili listen. She was seized by a secret fear, but she did not let the others feel it ...... Niels and Inger picked her up ...... and Grete never left her side.


When Lili stood in front of the clinic, weak and supported by Niels' arm, the fear came over her again. She felt frightened like a prisoner who is newly released to freedom under the bright, blue sky ...... She looked around as if she were afraid that everything around her was only a delusion, and she hesitated to step forward.


"Come on, child," Grete whispered to her softly.


"She is conceited, she wants to walk alone," Niels said.


"No, no," Lili exclaimed alarmed, "you mustn't let me go ...... Don't let me stand alone ...... I ...... I just wanted to breathe for a moment, it's been so long since I've breathed in the fresh air."


When Lili was in the car, she huddled up against Grete and closed her eyes for a long time:


"Don't mind me ...... I must get used to it all first ...... all of it."


And like a blind person she drove through the roaring bustle of Kurfürstendamm, like a sleep walker, silent and withdrawn......

Page 91

The trip lasted two hours ...... Then Grete brought the exhausted patient back to the sick bed ...... Lili had barely picked at the food that was brought to her before she fell asleep, a sleep that lasted until the next morning.


In the afternoon Niels picked them up again. Lili was already much more composed.


"Today I won't be so boring," she said, "I even long for people."


"Aren't we people?" Niels asked jokingly.


"Yes, but for strangers ...... yes, I would like to once again see a stranger."


"Very good, an excellent idea," Niels said, and told them that they were to dine at home with him and Inger to celebrate the day.


He stopped the car at a phone booth and got out. He just wanted to let Inger know that they were on their way, he said, when he returned with a very mysterious air.


Inger opened the front door for them and handed Lili a large bouquet of roses.


"There, now just be brave, Lilichen," she said, "you'll have everything your heart desires ...... also a stranger ...... a young woman from Copenhagen ." It was her Niels had telephoned so that she could meet "one of our French friends who just arrived from Paris." "Don't be afraid, she doesn't know you."


"For God's sake," said Lili and she shrank back.


"No nonsense, you'll have to play French," Inger declared, "she knows that you speak neither Danish nor German and she herself does not understand a word of French ...... I have told her that you have just been through a serious illness and that you are still very weak. Don't make any nonsense, practicing will do you good ...... and remember, you don't understand what we say."


Niels took Lili's arm and quickly pulled her into the living room. Before she had come to her senses she sat with her large bouquet of roses in a deep, soft armchair, the same chair in which Andreas Sparre had spent all night confessing to his friends barely three weeks ago.


"Just stick to it!" Inger whispered to her.


"Yes, you are right, I will, if only it won't last too long."

Page 92

The door opened and a young actress from Copenhagen with whom Grete and Andreas had spent an evening a few years ago stood in front of Lili ......


Lili thought that her heart would stop beating. A feverish blush rose to her face ...... No, she said to herself, no, no.


But no one noticed her nervousness.


"May I be permitted to introduce," Inger smiled, " Miss Karen Warren ...... Mademoiselle Julie Humbert ...... Mrs. Grete Sparre ."


"Oh, we already know each other," the actress cried, "how is your husband, Andreas Sparre?"


Grete informed them that Andreas was doing splendidly but that he was so overloaded with work that he had to stay in Paris ...... Lili sat quite still and pretended that the Danish sentences did not make any impression on her. Each of Miss Warren's questions and the others' responses were at once considerately translated into French. The maid announced that dinner was served, and Niels ceremonially offered Lili his arm and led her into the dining room. She behaved just as a perfect Parisienne who had never in her life heard a word of Danish. Danish and French were spoken alternately. Miss Warren expressed herself unreservedly about Lili's delightful attire.


"One immediately sees that the costume is from Paris," she said, and Lili could hardly to suppress her mirth. Everything she was wearing had been bought in Berlin a few days ago ...... But she kept a straight face although she many times had to bite her tongue not to blurt out a remark in Danish ...... The dinner lasted for almost two hours and the atmosphere became quite animated ...... there was a lot of laughter and Lili joined in as soon as the reason for the laughter was explained to her in French ......


But then she suddenly was not able to go on ...... she was close to dropping from faintness ...... and she asked Grete to accompany her back to the hotel. With a smile she said goodbye to Miss Warren who promised her that next time they met she would be able to speak a little French.


"And you, Mrs. Sparre, please give my warmest regards to your husband."


Niels drove them back to the clinic.

Page 93

"No," he declared, "this I would never have thought it possible to carry through, now I believe in miracles!"


Lili had collapsed completely from fatigue. Silent she rode through the noisy city where all the lights were now on ...... Thousands and thousands of electric lights sparkled and shone. There was no smile on her face. When the car stopped in front of the clinic Niels had to carry her up to her room. She slept ....... She did not see the huge bouquet of lilacs standing on the table. Only the next day when she woke up after having slept about twelve hours did she learn that the sweet smelling purple flowers were a spring greeting from the distant Claude Lejeune ......


"Imagine that she was not able to recognise me," she said almost wistfully.


"But child," Grete objected smiling, "it should make you glad ......there is no one ...... no one at all who knows Lili ...... my new Lili ...... out in the world ...... You are only about to start life."


That day Grete could not yet understand, not yet comprehend, that Lili's sadness was the fear of not finding friends.

Page 94



The next morning a message came from Professor Kreutz. Everything was ready for the patient to arrive if her -@Editor: PLC condition allowed her to make the journey to Dresden. Before her departure, however, she had to pay one more visit to Doctor Karner who had examined Andreas Sparre's blood a few weeks ago and now had to make a new blood examination.


Grete read the letter to Lili and her voice trembled with emotion but she pulled herself together:


"Good, then we have come so far ...... When do you think that you will be fit for the journey?"


"We'll go tomorrow morning, of course."


"That's fine, but then we have to see Doctor Karner today."


"And Grete rushed into the hall to call the doctor's biochemical laboratory and make the appointment."


Some minutes later she returned to announce that the doctor was not available for another hour. She found Lili standing by the window with the letter from Professor Kreutz in her hand.


"Come, Lili, let's set off right away, then we can walk there, a little walk will do you good."


"No, no, no! ...... Not walk," Lili cried like a child who is frightened, "I dare not, not yet, I don't have the courage to show myself on the street."


And she began to cry.


Grete gently patted her cheek:


"Good, then we won't, then we'll take a cab there."


On the way Grete accidentally said that Doctor Karner's female assistant, with whom she had spoken, had not been able to understand her name.


"But then the connection was bad, Grete added."


By chance they arrived at the laboratory at the same time as the doctor.

Page 95

"Hello, Doctor," said Lili, who immediately recognized him and held out her hand.


"Hello, madam," Doctor Karner answered, as he was evidently searching his memory for her name.


Lili was unhappy and looked at Grete – as if to get help – then she stammered shyly:


"I ...... I come from Doctor Gebhard's clinic ...... it is at the request of Professor Kreutz ...... I am Lili Sparre."


It was the first time that she pronounced her new name, she heard herself say it, and an inexplicable feeling of shame coloured her cheeks red. She looked fixedly at the doctor:


"Do you really not recognise me?"


"Yes ...... yes ...... of course," the doctor answered, no less confused than Lili. One could clearly tell that he had no idea of who was standing before him.


"It is about a blood sample, as I understand it," he nervously added and led the two ladies through the hall into the waiting room where he asked them to wait a moment.


"Yes, but do you really still not recognise me?" asked Lili who now could not help but smile. Also Grete's eyes were shining with mirth.


The doctor was even more confused:


"Sparre? Sparre? ...... Yes, now I remember ...... some weeks ago a Mr. Sparre came to see me ...... he was sent here by Professor Arno, but I do not remember having seen you, Madam ......"


"The gentleman and I were -@Editor: PLC one and the same person," Lili explained.


"I beg your pardon?"


Suddenly a light seemed to dawn on the doctor:


"Oh, now I understand ....... The ladies are from abroad ...... yes, of course."


He looked at his watch a little absent-mindedly and bowed to them:


"Please excuse me, I just have to make some preparations."


Then he disappeared, and Lili looked at Grete.


"I really don't think he recognized me ...... it's marvellous."


A young nurse had arrived and asked them to follow her. Doctor Karner was waiting for them in the laboratory, where Andreas
[Page 96]
had already been. He took a small, thin glass syringe and said, still a little uncertain:


"Will you be so kind as to sit down and pull up your sleeve ...... all the way up over the elbow ...... so that we can find a vein ....... Thank you, that was very good madam!"


"Madam" ...... Lili never thought she had heard anything so clearly, it was as if her ears could not let go of the word ...... It remained hanging in the air as she looked fixedly at the syringe which the doctor with a quick jerk had stuck deeply into her white skin and whose glass container now slowly filled with her blood. "Madam!" It sounded as if it came from the blood flowing from her veins ...... and then she fainted.


When she regained consciousness, she looked around timidly.


She was lying on the operating table, and the doctor stood beside her smiling.


"Have I been lying here long?"


"No, not at all, madam, only a few minutes ...... Did it really hurt that much?"


"Hurt? ...... No, no ......" Lili answered and looked around her bewildered ...... I don't understand what came over me ...... I am otherwise not sensitive at all, surely you must know that.


"At least your husband was not ...... I understood you correctly, didn't I? ...... Mr. Sparre is your husband, isn't he? ...... I know that German is a very difficult language for all foreigners ...... one easily happens to express oneself incorrectly ...... Do you know that you told me that you and your husband were one and the same person?"


The doctor laughed heartily and continued before Lili could get a word in:


"By the way I have to say that I admire your husband ...... he was very ill and worn out when he came up to see me, but he didn't complain ...... he would not even speak about his illness ... We discussed politics, I remember, and he gave a long speech about the political situation in France while I took a sample of his blood ...... I know that it is not quite painless, but he did not even flinch, while you ......"


"Yes but Doctor ......"


"Please ...... you don't have to be ashamed
[Page 97]
of that at all, it is not a crime! ...... You are a representative of the weaker sex after all, while your husband, if I may express myself as a doctor, appeared to me to be the prototype of the masculini generis."


"Dear Doctor," Lili had risen, she laughed out loud and looked the doctor in the eye almost overly confident, "you have no idea what moral support you have given me with those words."


"Support?" The doctor inquiringly bent over her hand and kissed it "...... I assure you ...... I admire you at least as much."


"That is excellent. Thank you doctor, till we meet again!"


"Till we meet again ...... please give my regards to your husband!"

– – –


"Grete, my dear," Lili said when they were down on the street, "so now I have come so far that I can see the comedy of the situation without a murmur ... it even amuses me and that is just as well ...... otherwise I think that I would have gone mad ...... and that must not happen ...... I must keep going until ...... until I have found myself completely ...... So far, I have the feeling that I experience everything ...... The dinner yesterday with the young woman from Copenhagen , and now the visit here with the doctor ...... everything as in a kind of twilight state."


That very evening Grete wrote in her diary:


"So Lili is still seeking confirmation of herself ... and it will be long before she fully understands that she really exists ...... And they will not make it easy for her ....... by 'they' I mean everyone who knew Andreas ......"

– – –


"Come," Lili said, "now I feel so well that I dare to walk on the street."


And from Doctor Karner's laboratory they walked in good spirits through the bustle of the city. It was a young, fresh, sunny spring day. The sky was without clouds and blue as silk. The air felt like a caress. All the people they met had a bright, cheerful, and carefree expression in their eyes."


"Do you also think I can get to look like that? Lili asked several times."


They walked arm in arm and often they stopped in front of the shop windows
[Page 98]
whose displays were intended to tempt women. Lili never tired of looking at the beautiful and expensive things and she looked at her reflection in all the windows.


"Tell me Grete, do I look good in my fur coat? ...... or do I look different from ...... from you? ......"


Grete smiled, she did not need to lie:


"Good Lord, just think of Doctor Karner ...... and be happy that we have come this far."


Lili did not ask again. But now and then, she glanced searchingly at people who passed her. The same question was still working within her, but she did not express it. She made an effort to force a smile, and again and again she whispered to herself:


"No one knows me and my fate here in this big city. No one suspects me ...... no one ...... I can walk undisturbed, alone with my secret ..... no one betrays me. It is a beautiful, bright day and the sun is shining ...... And the sun will be more wonderful and I'll experience it, yes ...... yes ...... yes ......."


Tired, she hung by Grete's arm.


"Grete," she said at one point, "I hope you're not ashamed of me? ......"


"Ashamed, what do you mean?"


"Nothing, nothing at all ...... So tomorrow we travel to Dresden...... I'm happy that Niels will go with us ...... sometimes I get so anxious, I don't know why."


This feeling of anxiety grew in the course of the night to such a degree that Grete had to call in the aid of the head nurse.


Lili cried and cried through many desperate hours.


"I can't ...... I can't ...... how will I be able to show myself before Professor Kreutz ...... He doesn't know me ...... He doesn't know who I am at all ...... I am so afraid ...... I'd much rather die."


When she was finally so exhausted that she was no longer able to cry she lay quite still without being able to sleep, staring straight in front of her with big frightened eyes.


A thousand concerns tumbled in her brain. The railway journey to Dresden ...... among strangers ...... the arrival in the new, unknown city ...... the road to the clinic ...... and
[Page 99]
again strangers ...... prying eyes ...... and then the Professor ..... How would he receive her?


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


Grete had long since packed their suitcases, had managed to scrape together a lot of kind and encouraging words and had talked away about a lot of trivial things, but Lili was still indifferent:


"Tomorrow I have to stand before Professor Kreutz ...... and no one will help me ...... no one."


Still she whispered the same words to herself.


And when Grete said to her that she must remember that the Professor had only one thought, to help her, and that it would be ungrateful of her to give in now, then she only shook her head:


"No, Grete, I know better, I know better ...... no one can help me ...... no one ...... it is much too hard for one person alone – and I'm so tired."


Later in the morning Grete had fallen asleep – she had not been in bed most of the night. Quite softly, not to disturb her, Lili got up and slipped over to a large mirror which Grete had brought and which was hung above the bedside table that had been converted into a provisional dressing table ...... She looked at herself in the mirror for a long time ..... no, no, she was not satisfied ..... she thought that she looked hideous, there was no expression on her face ...... she looked like a sad, tired, bloodless larva ...... With a blank look she sat down on one of the suitcases, rested her empty head in her hands, and did not have another thought.


"Lili ...... Lili ......" it was Grete, who wrapped her arms around her neck, "do you know what you look like? You look like a little sweet mother who is concerned for her child."


"Concerned for her child ......" ..... Lili slowly repeated the words ...... "yes, Grete, for her poor errant child's sake ...... Do you think that such a mother can ever be happy again?"


Grete placed herself in the middle of the room and held out her hands imploringly towards her:


"Promise me that you will say: 'Today I will be brave, today I will be brave' ...... then you will surely be happy again."


In this way the day began, but there were still many
[Page 100]
difficult moments to get through. Niels was there in good time and he helped the frightened Lili bid farewell to the nurse and the clinic that had been her first shelter on this earth.


"You look just like an officer's wife," he said to her, "overbearing and condescending ...... it's quite incredible, you are truly a phenomenon."


"In half an hour they will drag the phenomenon along," Lili thought bitterly, "....... the phenomenon!"

– – –


But she pulled herself together. No one should see her cry today, no one ...... And she wouldn't think ...... not think of anything ...... She let them drive her to the station ...... and her eyes pretended to see ...... but they saw nothing ...... in the waiting room she was compelled to have lunch with the others and she obeyed.


"Today I won't have any will at all, Niels, today I'll do everything you say to me ...... today you will think for me ...... for one more day I'll take a holiday."

– – –


"Now, we must be in good spirits," Niels declared, "we have to celebrate Lili's first journey."


The waiter brought three mugs of "Hofbräu" and Niels raised his mug to Lili. Grete, the neat, elegant Grete, also, though with a somewhat apprehensive look, raised her mug and said to Lili:


"Cheers, or as they say here: Prosit!"


Lili did not hesitate and before Niels had let his glass touch hers, she had taken a proper gulp.


"Bravo! Bravo!" Niels cried so loud that many of the waiting room's guests looked at them.


Lili immediately put her mug down:


"No, no, I beg you ...... let us not attract attention."


The fear had caught hold of her again, but she was determined to be happy, and besides she honestly had to admit that she enjoyed the fresh, fragrant beer after the flat and colourless diet of the clinic ...... This solid lunch with fresh crisp rolls with salami, liver sausage, and cheese – a real German meal – was something quite different from the sick diet she had become used to.


"One becomes a completely new person, children," she said to the two
[Page 101]
others ...... "one returns to life ...... Yes, I wish I was that far ...... Now, cheers, a toast to life!"


Niels did not need to be told twice, and when the time of departure approached he cheerfully took Lili by the arm and carried her off so quickly through the teeming crowd of the platform that Grete found it difficult to keep up. They found a corner seat by the window for Lili, and Niels and Grete sat directly opposite her.


With happy, watchful eyes absorbing every little detail as a new great experience Lili rode into her new life.


The landscape between Berlin and Dresden was an endless, monotonous plain with a few thinly wooded stretches of forest and empty spring brown fields. Now and then the area was coloured red, white and yellow by little cottages, villages and towns through which slowly moving streams and rivers flowed – an image that was not suited for putting the mind in motion but was gentle and soporific. White sunny clouds were swept across the low blue grey sky by the fresh morning wind like little merry lambs that had just escaped the stable. Then suddenly a light green square appeared; it was the winter crops that had sprouted up between the willow shrubs that had already received their first silver sheen, and a dark cloud island sailed like a vision across the green acre. A church tower stood out against the eastern sky, the sun slipped over a low drifting mass of clouds and spread a shiny brass glimmer all over the world.


The telegraph wires along the railway whirred up and down. A swarm of partridges shot like a bullet splintered into fragments from a gloomy piece of fallow land up over a dull green pine grove. They rushed past a signal keeper's house surrounded by silver birches and a few crippled and stunted apple trees between which multi-coloured washing fluttered; in front of the house a woman stood with hands akimbo and with her eyes turned towards the train, by her side a golden-haired child played with a bright red ball and a dark brown dog guarded the little one ...... Whoosh, passed ...... you could still see the woman waving to the train and a blue and white chequered apron waving from the clothes line. An unpaved road bent towards the railway embankment and a cart with a large load of timber and two heavily built plough horses stood waiting. The driver restrained them with his whip ...... the sun gilded the cord and the tin covered handle and flashed in the puddles
[Page 102]
in the abandoned cart tracks. Behind a wide curved ridge some factory chimneys rose from which white and yellowish green columns of smoke rose up against the blue sky until a breeze broke through, scattered them and transformed them into sunlit clouds ......


Lili's eyes looked at it with a painter's gaze and she was frightened:


"These are not my eyes, they are Andreas' eyes ...... Is he not dead in me? ...... Can't he leave me alone?"


And she closed her eyes ...... She did not know why she was so afraid of looking at the world and getting to love it as Andreas did ...... was it because she was afraid of not becoming herself ...... or of not being able to get free of Andreas?


Grete and Niels had gone out in the corridor to smoke.


In the compartment, beside Lili sat a couple of correct looking gentlemen who had taken the two corner seats by the door.


Lili had barely noticed them. They had so far been entrenched behind their newspapers.


Suddenly one of the gentlemen put down his paper and the other followed his example, though first folding it neatly. Lili involuntarily looked at him and he answered her look and cleared his throat. The other gentleman brushed some specks of dust from his clothes and pulled off one of his thick and glossy, brown gloves. A sparkling jewel ring appeared. "Hm, hm," was heard again. Lili wrapped her fur coat more tightly around her. She felt the gaze of the two gentlemen directed at the "lady" by the window ...... She affected an air of great superiority.


"Hm," the gentleman next to her grunted again and then he asked:


"Can I offer you a cigarette, madam?"


She looked at him.


He held a heavy silver cigarette case with a gold inlay towards her:


"Of course this is not a smoking compartment, but I see that both your companions smoke."


Lili smiled:


"No, thank you."


Whereupon the gentleman closed his case and carefully placed it in the rear pocket of his pants.


The other gentleman had opened his paper again.


And Lili looked out of the window again ...

Page 103

A small fine and tender grove of birches shone in the sun at the top of a hill. Above it floated two very small mother-of-pearl clouds like a pair of wings a small angel had forgotten during a game.


Niels had come back in and sat by the window directly opposite her.


"The first spring," he said, "the first spring, Lili."


And Grete who had also returned repeated:


"The first spring, yes ...... If only one could stand out there ...... and paint like ......"


Her words echoed in Lili's ears.


"Spring ...... paint ...... like" – and she completed the sentence – "like Andreas ......"


Was it jealousy rising in her?


No, no, she would not think.


She leaned towards Grete ...... no one saw it, both Niels and Grete had fallen asleep and the two gentlemen were standing outside smoking ..... Lili tenderly put her hand on Grete's knee, then she stood up and sat down beside her leaning her head against her shoulder while she again stared out over the landscape. Ridges welled forth and grew into small mountains and still new ones joined, strewn with villas. And soon everything was a multi-coloured crowd of villas, gardens and tenement houses between which large factory buildings pushed their way forward, streets opened like corridors and channels between the rows of houses that grew and became taller and filled with teeming life, trams, automobiles, and people, shrill advertisements on big, wide gables, rails meeting and crossing on both sides, trains with endless rows of wagons, stations, now on the right, now on the lefthand side, and still the train slid on shaking and wobbling each time it passed over a sidetrack ......


Then it stopped.


Niels had woken up.


"How far are we now?"


"It's the next station," Niels answered and woke up Grete.


As the train started moving again all three stood at the window.


Now they rode on a long bridge across a river whose wide dark stream separated the two banks like an endless, glistening silk ribbon. And like a mirage Lili saw green domes, towers, church roofs, castles and palaces appear beyond the sparkling water. It was
[Page 104]
as beautiful as a fairy tale that had been forgotten and once again returns ... her fairy tale! ...... She could not let go of the sight, and she saw that it was not a vision, this big beautiful, royal city which on both sides of the Elbe extended from the wide valley over the mountain sides up towards the gentle blue sky.


She knelt down on the seat, stared out and drank in the sight, it was the goal of her pilgrimage, the city she so fervently and with so much pain had longed for. And her eyes became big and heavy. She had to close them while she pressed her hands against her beating heart. Gentle, blissful tears streamed down her cheeks ...... This was the miracle! Here her poor tormented life would finally find its delivery. Her whole mind was overwhelmed by an infinite feeling of happiness.


"Now I come home I finally come home!"


And she cried and cried.


Niels put his hand on her shoulder:


"Lili, Lili!" he said comfortingly.


But she shook her head:


"I am just crying from joy."


Grete was moved. She could not find anything to say, and she also began to cry.


None of them saw the surprised looks that were exchanged between the two gentlemen who were in the process of gathering their luggage and with a silent nod left the compartment.


How Lili had come out of the train and, in one of Dresden's green automobiles, made her entry through the city never reached into her memory. She only knew that during the long drive through the streets she had clutched the little Spanish silver Madonna pressed against her lips, and again and again she stammered before her: "He will help me ...... help me ...... help me ......" -@Editor: PLC


It was a long way ...... The streets were already behind them and they were out in the residential area. Suddenly they passed an impressively situated tall building and just after it the car turned a corner. Tall silver bright birches raised their filigree light branches over a garden wall, behind which lay a large and dignified grey complex of buildings formed by many adjoining wings with towers on them.


"Stop, stop, here it is!" Lili exclaimed.

Page 105

The next moment the car stopped in front of a portal over which was written in capital letters:




"How did you know?" Grete and Niels asked as with one voice as they helped Lili out of the carriage.


"I felt that it had to be here," she answered faintly, "but you have to help me, I have to lean on you ...... my legs give way ...... I have a feeling that I am about to faint ...... now, when I have finally come home ...... after the long and difficult journey."


Niels pulled the bell cord and when they heard the sound of the gate bell, Lili turned pale as death. It was as if it were in her own heart that the bell sounded.


From the window of the porter's lodge a sister dressed in white asked them:


"Is it for the private clinic? Then you must turn right through the garden."


It was already late in the afternoon. A hazy and humid light fell from the sky that was heavy with rain over the big garden, whose slender birch stems stretched themselves on green lawns.


Lili walked in front.


"Look at her," Niels whispered to Grete, "she walks as if she knew everything and she has never been here before."


Like a sleepwalker Lili strode along and as if in a dream, she found the entrance to the private clinic.


Now she was finally at home.

Page 106



In the door to the private clinic stood an elderly nurse dressed in white embracing a lady. This was Lili's first impression of the clinic which she kept ...... because it was the right one.


The elderly nurse was the matron and she was taking leave of a patient.


Then she received the three foreigners with great kindness and led them into a long hospital corridor. Twilight had already begun and through the greenish panes of a large glass door at the end of the corridor a soft light, that made one think of a deep forest lake, fell into the corridor and was reflected in the shiny parquet floor and the many white-painted doors.


"The Professor will be here shortly," the Matron said.


Close to the large double door there were some armchairs around a small table with a lighted lamp. There a doctor was standing in a white coat talking to a couple of ladies.


Grete grabbed Lili's hands.


"Is that Professor Werner Kreutz?" she asked in a whisper.


"No, you are mistaken," Niels objected, "you have never seen him and this must probably be one of the assistant doctors ...... he looks far too young."


"No, Grete is right, it is Professor Kreutz," Lili answered with a tremble in her voice.


As the Professor accompanied the ladies to his office, he stopped for a moment to say hello to the newly arrived guests with ceremonial courtesy and asked them to take a seat. They sat down at the small table. Lili was completely dumb, she heard nothing and saw nothing. Grete and Niels talked about unimportant things ...... White nurses came and went and greeted the three strangers in passing.


Lili still saw nothing and heard nothing.


Only when the door to the office was opened, and the two ladies
[Page 107]
were followed out by the Professor she awoke again to consciousness.


The Matron signalled to them and Niels took Lili's hand to lead her in. Grete remained sitting in the armchair.


Professor Kreutz had only seen Andreas once in Paris, and that was some months ago now. Today he was facing Lili for the first time, but he greeted her with recognition at once. He accompanied them into the office, after which he returned to introduce himself to Grete.


Lili who had suddenly become calm looked around the room. It was a large room, a study resembling an operating room. In front of the tall window through which there was a glorious view to the garden with the white birches, there was an examination table and against one of the walls a desk littered with papers. Everything in the room was dazzlingly white.


When the Professor came back, he sat down right across from Lili.


She started somewhat insecurely to talk about her stay in Berlin, but he interrupted her with a sudden question, and a smile spread over his stern face:


"Has Professor Arno informed you of the results of the chemical and microscopic examinations?"


"No, Professor."


"Hasn't he! Then I can give you the pleasant message that the examinations that have been carried out have shown a favourable result, they confirm all our assumptions."


And from some quickly dropped factual remarks, Lili understood that he knew all the details of the operation she had undergone in Berlin much better than herself. She breathed a sigh of relief ...... then she did not have to make explanations.


She sat quite still not daring to move to listen to the strange, veiled voice. She had the feeling that she had suddenly become infinitely happy. The Professor spoke to her very sympathetically, he questioned her about everything that concerned her so that she eventually became quite tired ...... She started to talk about her experience with Doctor Karner, but she accidentally looked up and her eyes looked into the Professor's which were both light and dark at the same time ...... Only for a moment she endured his eyes then
[Page 108]
the words died away on her lips, and she could no longer think of anything to say. As in a flash she recalled that Andreas in Paris without any inhibition had talked with the Professor. Why was she not able to do that?


Professor Kreutz gave her an inquiring look as if he expected her to continue her story but when it did not happen, he broke the silence:


"You will be going here to the private clinic, but quite unexpectedly all places have been taken at the moment. Incidentally, that will do no harm as I have to wait a while with the operation anyway. The important thing is to secure the necessary material, by that I mean the fresh glands that are to give you new life ......"


At these words Lili started and blushed scarlet. She did not know where to look, that is how ashamed she felt. She was both embarrassed and confused.


The Professor did not seem to notice it at all and he continued in the same factual tone:


"Besides, it won't do you any harm to spend a few more days at a hotel. You can see the city and visit our museums ...... by the way, you can also paint ...... I'm certain that you will be able to find many subjects that you will like ..... It will do you good to think of something else and enter a completely different circle of ideas."


Lili had the feeling that she had lost any support. The thought that she could not immediately be admitted to the clinic but that she had to spend several days at a hotel seemed quite unbearable to her. She would ask the Professor if she could not stay, she would try to change his decision but she was not able to. She looked at him helplessly and could not answer anything but:


"Yes, Professor."


That was the end of the interview. The Professor held out his hand and went with her out to Grete whom he gave the name of a hotel close to the clinic. Then he said a very formal goodbye to all three of them ...... And the next moment he had disappeared behind the door of the operating room.


Quite beside herself, Lili stood before Grete. She had the impression that she had suffered a devastating defeat. A single
[Page 109]
glance from this man had quite overpowered her ...... She felt that he was so much stronger than herself that he had crushed her whole personality ...... destroyed her with a single glance. She seemed to herself as a schoolgirl who had been curtly dismissed by an idolized teacher. The Professor's voice still sounded in her ears. She felt a strange weakness in all her limbs. She stood as in a fog and understood nothing of what went on around her ...... Only later ...... long afterwards, she realised when she thought back at this moment what had happened to her. It was the first time that her woman's heart had trembled before a lord and master ...... before the man she had chosen as her protector ...... and she grasped why she had immediately submitted to him and his will ......

– – –


The hotel, which Professor Kreutz had pointed out to them, was in a large square surrounded by trees. Behind the hotel there was a large garden. It was a quiet and distinguished house just under ten minutes from the clinic.


Lili and Grete had a large, bright room facing the square. Niels settled into a room to the other side. These were heavy and sad days for Lili. She could not comprehend that she could not immediately enter the clinic. She almost felt convinced that Professor Kreutz had found her disagreeable ...... that she had seemed so repulsive to him that he had become disgusted with her.


And Grete entered in her diary:


"Lili has completely lost courage. She thinks that the Professor only sees Andreas in her, that is, a disguised man. She imagines that she is so hideous and unattractive that any normal person must feel aversion to her. She cries incessantly. A few times we have gone out to get a breath of fresh air, but she is controlled by her obsession to such an extent that she believes she reads a confirmation of Professor Kreutz's dislike of her in the glance of every passer-by. It is obvious that we foreigners attract a certain amount of attention here in Dresden, but Lili thinks that is only because of her.


— —And what has put her completely beside herself is that the Professor suggested that she should pass time painting. That was, she says, the most terrible thing he could demand of her. Everything
[Page 110]
that is connected to Andreas is detested by her and especially the thought of painting ...... She believes that she cannot quite free herself from Andreas, if she does any of the things that he used to do. And his art seems to her to be the worst of all. The Professor ought to know that, she claims, or perhaps his intention with this remark had been to let her understand that he did not see anything in her but Andreas, a disguised man."


A few days later Grete added in her diary:


Niels is probably quite right when he says that what the Professor is doing with Lili must be regarded as a kind of mental modelling that is to precede the physical transformation. So far Lili has been like a lump of clay that others have worked with and that the Professor himself with just a fleeting touch has already given life ...... and shape ...... but until now, he believes, Lili's femininity lies only on the surface ...... It is not yet quite genuine, because it has not penetrated in depth ...... With a single glance yesterday he has made her heart come to life, a life imbued with all female instincts ...... The more I think about it, the more decisively I have to agree with Niels ...... Lili is still very quiet and, as it were, enclosed in herself. She still sometimes cries quietly to herself, but it is the longing that makes her cry ...... She doesn't know herself what is going on in her, and I can't do anything but be patient with her and encourage her with good words."


The next page brings the following observation:


"Lili said to me tonight: 'It is probably unfair when I think about Andreas with bitterness, but now and then I have to think of him anyway, and then I do not know what to call him ...... I think I must call him "my dead brother". I shall have to get used to that. I have to get used to the idea that he is really dead so that it no longer enters my thoughts at all that he and I have lived in the same body. I have to feel as a certainty that it belongs to me alone'.


And later she said:


'Perhaps I am Andreas' killer and this thought pains me terribly because I feel that I am worth less than he was. He had a creative nature ...... he was a painter and he had a considerable achievement behind him. That is precisely why I fear
[Page 111]
that it will appear that I will never be able to contribute anything. Imagine if I really tried to paint, and then realised that my talent could not compare with his, then it would seem so oppressive to me that it would drive me to suicide ......'.


And then she suddenly said:


'Grete, I see in my mind Andreas' clothes that we left behind in Berlin ...... every single garment I see ...... all of last night I lay awake thinking about it ...... and I was afraid to accidentally fall asleep again ...... Suppose, I saw myself in Andreas' clothes again in my dreams!'" ......

– – –


Thus a whole week passed. Lili was still submerged in a deep melancholy that turned into panic when one morning she had a few letters forwarded from Frauenklinik that had come from Copenhagen and were addressed to the painter Andreas Sparre ...... Lili felt completely compromised because these letters, which were addressed to a man, had been sent to the clinic that was intended only for women. Lili did not even dare to touch the letters. Grete had to read them, and Niels had to burn them. Now Lili felt completely convinced that she would never enter Professor Kreutz's women's clinic.


"Those letters have made it completely impossible for me ...... let us rather quietly leave here and find a place where I can die in peace ......" she asked with tears in her eyes determined to disappear into the great void.


But finally salvation came in the form of a message from the clinic that now a room was available. Immediately Lili left the hotel, and Grete followed her silent and quiet the short way to Frauenklinik.


When Lili wandered through the garden with the bright birches again, she had the feeling that she had reached the promised land.


The following day Niels went back to Berlin.

Page 112



Many times Lili tried to relive the first moments she spent at Frauenklinik, and each time she felt the immense quiet again which had suddenly fallen over her turbulent mind. The glorious hope had lifted her up towards an invisible vault like a hymn by Bach Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), German composer​ -@Editor: PLC sung by angels' high voices.


All fear and anxiety had left her. Her own life seemed so insignificant to her, so worthless. A vague feeling filled her with awe, a feeling of being privy to something new and magnificent ...... something more important and greater than anything else, something that rose far above all other human fates. She appeared to herself as someone chosen, she had been selected for a pain and a pleasure that no one yet had lived through.


A white sick room, toned by the green tinge from the garden outside. A white bed. On a white table mysterious instruments under an elongated glass globe. Everywhere a smell of ether and formaldehyde. A visit by the Matron, the sturdy, healthy, maternal woman in the white nurse's uniform with the starched cap on the silver grey hair. Now and then a distant sound that could be heard through the double door slowly died away. Ambulances driving by. In the white room Grete ..... Now and then subdued voices and soft steps. The door is opened, a slim figure in a white coat enters and remains standing in the room.


Of this first visit by Professor Kreutz Lili has only kept a faint almost musical recollection ...... A voice. A vision. What he said to her she no longer knows ...... But from the moment he stood before her in the white sick room every burden was lifted from her soul ...... Everything was hope and certainty.

– – –


Under the birches in the big garden Lili was waiting. In one of the next few days everything would be ready for the operation. The Professor had said so.

Page 113

The white trees shone like silver against the shiny, green lawns. The interlacing branches were suffused by a reddish glow in the grey, shimmering air. Here and there hedges and shrubbery, still naked, waiting for their suit of foliage. Some willows with silky catkins, brown and reddish flower buds that were already beginning to turn yellow. Around the paths many benches. Nurses dressed in white walked around on their lunch break and nodded at Lili and Grete. And in the middle of the big garden a crowd of young, pregnant women. They laughed and they were happy. In their blue hospital gowns, they looked like big crocuses in full bloom.


"Lili," Grete said, "now I understand what Niels said, this is the first spring ...... Everything here is full of expectation."


Suddenly a tall slim man in a white coat walked through the park followed by an assistant doctor and a whisper passed from mouth to mouth: "The Professor!" ...... Everyone stopped and followed him with their eyes.

– – –


Then the large tower clock of the clinic struck six. It is about time to go back to the room. The park is already in twilight. Arm in arm Lili and Grete walk to the big building. The light is on in the broad, white corridor, young nurses are busy bringing the supper around to the patients. Directly opposite the Professor's office is the office of the Matron. A voice sounds through the open door, and Lili starts. Frightened, she drags Grete around the corner and into the cross corridor where her room is.


"What is the matter?" Grete asks.


"Hurry," Lili whispers back to her and slips into her room. An inexplicable fear seizes her when she hears the Professor's voice ...... She feels like a schoolgirl who is afraid of her teacher.


The next evening, when Lili had gone to bed, she was subjected to all the preparations preceding an operation while Grete sat beside her smiling and trying to encourage her. The Professor had already that morning announced that a young woman whose sexual glands would be suitable for transplantation would be operated on early the next morning.


Happy and moved, Lili said goodnight to Grete. Then she lay awake for several hours and stared into the white room where
[Page 114]
the bedside lamp spread a soft light. Sister Hanna, who was young and beautiful, sat beside her and talked to her for a long time until she put the sleeping medicine on the bedside table and disappeared.


But Lili did not take the medicine, she did not want to sleep ...... she was afraid of sleeping too long ...... She wanted to be awake ...... completely awake for what she was to experience the next morning.


Not a sound was heard in the corridor. Everything was absorbed by the stillness of the night ...... Lili's thoughts were like a smile ...... She had the impression that she no longer had any responsibility for herself and her fate. Professor Kreutz had lifted the responsibility from her ...... She no longer had any will either ...... this too she had placed on the Professor.


Suddenly she thought of the past ...... in Paris ...... but the next moment she dismissed the thought ...... she had no past ...... everything that had once been belonged to the missing person, to someone who was gone ...... who was dead ...... How completely different Andreas Sparre had been ...... completely different from her – she was just a humble little woman ready to obey, happy to submit to the will of another. Again the tower clock sounded ...... many times she heard its tones in the course of the night.


When the first light came through the curtains, Lili lay fully awake in her bed. At first it was six o'clock and at seven o'clock Sister Hanna came in to make her ready for the operation ...... And then there was a long, long wait ...... she hardly dared move. Intently she listened for every footstep in the corridor, for every voice that came in to her, every sound ...... but no one stopped outside her door ...... had she been forgotten?


Finally, someone came. It was the Matron. Smiling, she sat beside her, took her hand maternally and as gently as possible she conveyed to her that they had to wait for a few more days ...... it had turned out that the woman who had been operated on had not been able to provide "a suitable material."


The disappointment and the tension would have been released in tears if the Matron had not hastened to give her the other and more pleasant piece of information that she was to be moved to a new
[Page 115]
room that had a large window facing the garden and where there was morning sun.


When Grete a few moments later appeared to hear how it had gone, they immediately got to work on the move.

– – –


And again they walked arm in arm around the garden where everything had quickly become homelike and familiar to them. They knew all the nurses now and gratefully answered their morning greeting. Lili happily smiled to the young pregnant women in the crocus blue gowns. Now and then a young doctor passed by and also wished them a good morning.


Lili was happy. Here she walked around quite naturally like a young woman among other young women. She was a person who had no past. Had she ever looked different? ...... She had to smile. And suddenly she pictured Andreas when he had watched the elegantly dressed ladies in Paris and almost envied them their elegance ...... "How clumsy and tasteless are the clothes that we men walk around in!" he had said.


Now all this was over – released ...... and this was the result of just a gesture from the master, her creator, the Professor. There was no Andreas anymore and he would never, never return. Now Professor Kreutz stood between him and her, and she felt guarded and protected.


Here in this small state within the state the men ruled absolutely – led by the Professor. The Matron was the only exception because she had much, very much influence. Despite her maternal good nature she was an extraordinarily authoritative lady whose energetic profile under the silver grey hair could be reminiscent of the Bourbons -@Editor: PLC in their heyday. An immense respect emanated from her as she was the only creature here at the Frauenklinik who was to some extent on confidential terms with the Professor. One morning she stopped Lili out in the garden and told her that now it would probably not be long ...... perhaps the operation would take place as early as tomorrow, or at least the day after tomorrow.


"Tell me," Lili asked, "why exactly do you remove the sexual glands from a woman when they are perfectly healthy?"


"It would take too long to explain it to you," the Matron answered. "You do not have the necessary anatomical knowledge
[Page 116]
to understand it. But you can set your mind at rest! The Professor knows exactly what he does. Just let him do to you what he thinks is right ...... Besides you don't have to be anxious, it's only a very small operation."


Lili laughed:


"I'm not afraid at all, Sister. In Berlin they also told me that it was just a very small procedure, and afterwards I was told that I had been on the operating table for almost an hour and a half ...... as to whether this new operation is dangerous or not, I don't give a thought ...... I have not come here to die ...... I feel that ...... for that I don't need the Professor's help."


The Matron gave her a hug:


"You only have reason to be happy, little Mrs. Lili -@Translator: MO, for the glands that the Professor will transplant into you will give you new vitality and new youth ...... The woman from whom they come is scarcely twenty seven years old."


Lili's voice trembled with emotion:


"Is it true? ...... is it really true? ...... Does a woman's age depend entirely on her sexual glands? Is that really the only thing that matters? ...... Is it true?"


The Matron laughed and patted Lili's cheek:


"How curious you are! ...... If you won't believe me, you can ask the Professor."


"Yes, of course ...... why haven't I done so long ago? ...... I'll ask him this very evening ......"

– – –


When the Matron asked Lili the next morning if the Professor had satisfied her curiosity, she said embarrassed:


"No, I completely forgot about it ......"


The Matron wagged her finger threateningly:


"Why do you not honestly say that you didn't have the courage?"


"No, I didn't," Lili admitted.


The Matron laughed:


"You need not be ashamed of that, why should you be different from all the other patients?"

Page 117



Two days later Grete filled many pages in her diary. That day the big, fateful operation had been performed on Lili, and it was already late in the night when Grete wrote:


"Already at nine o'clock this morning, I was at the clinic. Last night the Professor had told me that the crucial operation would take place this morning. Cautiously I put my head in at Lili's door. She lay in a white nightdress in her white bed sleeping quietly. She had been given a morphine injection. Carefully I retreated to the corridor where the sisters stood waiting for the Professor. Sister Frieda -@Editor: PLC came out from the Professor's office; she was pushing a trolley with ether bottles, cotton wool, and instruments, which were covered by glass, in front of her. The Matron appeared and gave an inspecting glance around her. In the operating room I caught a glimpse of the assistant doctor and a couple of young doctors' assistants. Everyone whispered. There was a strange silence over the wide white clinic hallway, and through the high windows through which you could see the naked trees of the park, a greenish light fell. The wing where the Professor's residence lay was illuminated by the morning sun. All eyes were directed at it.


"Now we are only waiting for the Professor," a small nurse said softly to me.


I could hardly control my excitement ...... I too stared as if spellbound out of the window towards the residence of the Professor.


Suddenly there was movement among the sisters. Instinctively I reached for the small sister's hand ...... Everything trembled inside me. I saw the Professor walking towards the clinic at a brisk pace, and the next moment, I heard his calm correct voice say: "Good morning."


He was very reserved and unapproachable although we otherwise used to talk to each other in a friendly manner. I dared not say anything to him nor follow him when he disappeared
[Page 118]
with the Matron into Lili's room. He looked like a general immediately before a decisive battle. I stood in the open door facing the garden. The morning sun streamed over me. I think I was very pale. The air was so warm from the spring. A few birds were chirping in the birches. There was a reddish light over the tree tops and very softly the wind, which smelled of grass and soil, was carried towards me and mixed with the pungent hospital odour.


Then the door to Lili's room was opened slightly, and a hand was held out. Sister Frieda, who was standing right by the door, quickly took a bottle of ether from the trolley and gave it to the hand after which the door was silently closed again. Little by little a sweetish smell of ether leaked out to us and replaced all other smells. I had a feeling that I was about to lose consciousness. Then the door was opened wide and the Professor and the Matron came out. The Professor took my hand and looked into my eyes.


"Don't be afraid," he said reassuringly and disappeared down the wide corridor.


A few more minutes passed, then Lili's bed was rolled out by two nurses. Lili was lying under a white sheet, but I could not see her face which was hidden under an ether mask ...... And already the white procession had slid past me and was far down the corridor. Then it disappeared into the operating room.


How long would it take? I kept saying to myself: You must not think ...... not think ...... You just have to let the time pass ...... What were they doing to this poor soul now? How would Lili be returned to me? To herself ...... to life? ...... She had looked forward to this moment as to a party ...... It was a miracle which was about to happen to her. Would it be a success?


I could not stand it but went out into the garden and walked restlessly round and round on the paths. I crossed through the park in all directions ...... I could not find rest. I went back to Lili's room. All the windows were open and spring was pouring in. But I could not stand it there either. Finally I sat down in an armchair in the corridor and waited. Here I could see everything that went on, it was so quiet here ...... Now Lili was under the master's
[Page 119]
knife. No, I felt no fear. I trusted him as blindly as Lili did.


I deliberately concentrated all thoughts on this man whom I had tried to paint during the last days. I felt within me a strong urge to capture his head in a portrait. What was that strange power that emanated from him? Here at the woman's clinic he was a god that everyone feared, everyone revered. Wherein did his power consist? I sought to recall his face. Was he really beautiful? No, but strange ...... There was not one single really beautiful feature in his face...... even his eyes were irregularly placed ...... and yet it made a distinctly harmonious impression. It was as though it was a condensed power. For days I had tried to capture this face and preserve it in numerous sketches. I already knew all his positions, each of his movements. In this armchair I had been sitting daily making my observations. His office was directly opposite. I was closely acquainted with the times when he came and went ...... his visiting hours ...... when he was on the way to the operating room ......


I had to close my eyes to collect my thoughts. Clearly, I saw before me his slim back in the well-stitched white coat. I saw the hard jerk in his head when he threw his neck back. I pictured him when he came towards me with his hands stretched out and a smile across his stern face. Each time I saw this smile it was as if I wanted to cry. I had seen so many men smile ...... beautiful men, important men, and others ..... but not one of them had in my heart caused this urge to cry, this fear, this trembling. I could analyse my feelings quite clearly because not for a moment was I in love with him. And still I often fell asleep with tears in my eyes at the thought of this man.


Yesterday, when I had gone for a walk in the strange city, I suddenly saw his smile before me among all the unknown people. And I said to myself: "With pleasure you could give your life for this man!" But where did this feeling come from and what did it mean? And I understood that I was only one of the many believers, that I believed in this man, believed in him as the one who was capable of everything, was able to do anything, as the one who had it in his power to help. And as I sat there in the armchair and waited, I realised that my feeling for him was
[Page 120]
exactly the same as the one that Lili carried for him deep in her heart ...... perhaps it only slumbered in her, for she has not yet emerged from her twilight state and reached consciousness of herself ...... "The first spring" ...... the words sounded in me again. Would Lili really experience that?


That was how I sat with my eyes half closed when the door to the operating room suddenly opened and Professor Kreutz came towards me. He was wearing a large rubber apron and his steps were tired, he gave me both his hands and looked at me with a smile that shone with kindness.


"Everything has gone well," he said.


I grabbed his hands and could only stammer one word:


"Thank you, oh thank you!"


Only many hours later I learned what had happened in there. I cannot possibly explain it – express it in words ...... A man born as a boy, who has been my friend, my husband, my companion, has now become a woman, fully a woman ...... For years this person has dragged on his existence next to me like a sacrificial animal until the great doctor promised him his help. And now he had shed his blood under the knife of his helper ...... His poor tormented body had been opened and what no human power of imagination had thought possible was established. Inside him a pair of stunted female sexual glands were found that had not been able to grow and thrive because an enigmatic fate had also given him other, male glands. This was the secret of his double being which no doctor had wanted to acknowledge until Professor Kreutz, already in Paris with the look of a seer, had solved the mystery ...... the mystery whose solution was now open to everyone ...... I cannot say it in any other way.


And now this person, chained by destiny, has been liberated from everything that obstructed the natural development of her being. Now this being has been given blood that flows through the heart and that was a woman's blood, a new power through an unknown young woman's fresh and healthy glands ...... And finally this tormented body has been patched up with threads and with clamps, and now nothing, nothing at all, is left of the friend that has followed me through so many years, of my little companion
[Page 121]
of Andreas. Now he is only Lili's dead brother. And she with whom he shared his body and his blood, she lives on. And yet, in spite of everything, in spite of Andreas' complete destruction, and in spite of the new being who will now emerge, released from all its pain and all its distress, I have a feeling that Andreas still lives somewhere out in the world, and that I am still his wife in the eyes of the law. Who is able to grasp this terrible, this fantastic, this incredible thing that has happened? ...... The poor tormented creature who has paid for her release with her blood and her pain, now lies shrouded in the merciful mists of morphine. What will life bring her now? Will the miracle that the doctor has made with his art be great and strong enough to carry her on through life? ......Through Lili's life? Have we not all been a means in the hand of fate? Not least I ...... Was it not me who in youthful playfulness brought out Lili in Andreas? Was it not me who again and again amused myself with this game until it became serious ...... enigmatically, fatefully serious? ...... No, I will not think about it anymore ...... Because there is only one single person in the world I can talk to about this, and that is Claude Lejeune, Lili's very best friend Claude, who has always believed in her ...... How will he find her again now?"

– – –

Page 122



It was not much that Lili knew about these days that she calls the first days after her true birth. When she opened her eyes the first time, she saw a few rays of sun stealing through the crack between the drawn curtains. Then her eyes closed again and she slept long and heavily.


It was as if she had been dreaming. To the left of the bed, she had dimly seen the outline of the Professor's shape and beside him the staff doctor. The Professor had walked up to her bed and said:


"You still have all your teeth? No false ones?"


"No, Professor," she answered and found it difficult to suppress a smile.


Then the Professor had ordered her to count:


"In Danish or in French ...... it doesn't matter."


And she had started to count in German ...... One, two, three ......


Then he had put the ether mask over her. She had had difficulty breathing but she had continued her counting:


"Four ...... five ...... six ...... seven."


It had become harder and harder and the numbers came more and more slowly ...... She had reached eighteen ....... but then she was not able to continue and now she heard the Professor count on:


"Twenty ...... twenty-one ....... twenty-two ...... twenty ......


His voice had resounded like the sound of bells in her ears ...... stronger and stronger, everything else drowned in the sound ...... and her consciousness faded away ......


Was it really a dream? Or had she been anaesthetised? But why had she been left lying here without being operated on? Left lying here until she woke up with the disgusting taste of ether in her mouth ...... "Do you have any false teeth?" ...... She heard the question again ..... and again she had to
[Page 123]
laugh, but the laughter caused her a terrible pain. With a cry of terror she opened her eyes.


The Matron stood beside her, laughed and said:


"It's all over! ...... And everything went well ....... Now everything will be all right."


But Lili had already closed her eyes again. And when she woke up again, woken by pains that became more and more excruciating, Grete was standing next to her with a bouquet of dusty pink tulips ....... A nurse came and gave her an injection and she fell asleep again. The next time that she regained consciousness the Professor was there and held her hand. He said something to her, but she did not understand it ...... She only saw his eyes ...... then she sank into sleep again.


All this day and the night too faded away in a morphine haze. When she woke up the pains were there again, but when the pains were there, there was also a nurse with a syringe of morphine. She felt a burning thirst and wet cotton wool was laid over her mouth ... But the injection also made her forget the thirst.


Then morning came. Everything really had gone well. Lili was almost free from fever ...... and she soon fell into a calm and natural sleep. The following days passed subdued and distant as in a fog. If she had pains she was immediately given a sedative. And when she opened her eyes, she could lie quite calmly and quietly staring into space as if surprised by everything that had happened to her. She gradually grew accustomed to the pains too. She told herself that they were the price she had to pay for what had been given her: Life, a life as a woman. Everything was wonderful and good and full of hope. Her white room at the clinic seemed to her to be paradise and the Professor was the guardian of this paradise. Morning and evening he came on a short visit. The rest of the time was spent waiting for him.


Grete remained close all these days. In front of the door to the garden she sat painting the white birches and the road winding through the park. But as soon as she saw the Professor arrive she hurried in to Lili.

‒ ‒ ‒


Lili was only afraid of the nights. Then Grete was not there and all the flowers she had received had been taken away. Flowers had arrived from Paris, from Elena, and from Claude ......
[Page 124]
A couple of letters had also arrived and these letters were her only company for the long, long nights ...... The letters ...... the tower clock striking the hour ...... and the pains ...... During the night they turned up regularly ...... Her bed was transformed into a glowing furnace and she was soaked in sweat ...... The Professor had ordered that she should sleep. But she was not allowed any more morphine. She was given other sedatives but they only worked for a few hours. The rest of the time she lay listening for the first sounds that were a sign that the day was about to begin again.


One night she had a terrible nightmare:


"She walked in the garden outside under the birch trees. It was spring and everything was young ...... Then she saw a figure slowly creeping over the garden wall, a scary creature, half bear and half man. With crazy eyes and with a rutting animal desire this creature stared at her ...... Terrified she ran away ...... And then it was suddenly night and she lay in her bed when she heard the door creak and saw it open slowly. First the hideous head with the crazy animal eyes appeared and then the same clumsy bear body that had rolled itself over the garden wall. The monster was wrapped in a wide light brown cloak and Lili saw that one of the pockets was filled with surgical instruments ...... The disgusting creature approached the bed and she sensed an abominable animal stench. She tried to scream but fear paralysed her voice. She wanted to jump out of bed and escape but she was unable to move a limb. Under one arm the monster held a parcel wrapped in newspaper and it put the parcel on her bedside table. A cold sweat of fear broke out on Lili's forehead when she saw that the paper had opened and that the parcel contained a woman's head. Large drops of blood slowly dripped from the parcel and each drop fell with a dull sound on the floor. The monster sat down on the edge of the bed and Lili secretly searched for the bell under the blanket. She rang with all her strength and her ringing sounded like an alarm in the quiet corridor. The monster stared hard at her and said: 'Don't be afraid ...... I'll only perform a small operation on you. It is my speciality to give people new heads and here I have a freshly cut, new and fine head. I'll put that on instead of your own ...... Don't worry ...... I don't even have to give you an anaesthetic ...... I'll cut
[Page 125]
quite slowly ......' Then the door opened and a young nurse entered. When she saw the monster and the bloody head she sank to the floor fainting. The monster turned around and looked at the unconscious woman lying next to the door. At that very moment Lili discovered a long, pointed instrument sticking up from the cloak pocket with the other instruments. With a quick jerk she snatched it and thrust it into the monster's chest. For a second the monster stared at her with a horrible look, like an animal that has gone mad. Then it rushed at her, tore the blanket from her bed and ripped the dressing from her wounds so the blood streamed out. The heavy body fell down on her and wild from terror and pain she fainted. When she regained consciousness, the monster was lying heavily across her body, the cut off head grinned hideously at the bedside table and the fainted nurse lay in her white clothes like a white puddle in front of the open door. Out in the hall everything was dark and quiet and the drops of blood still hit the floor with the same dull sound. And Lili screamed and screamed, whimpered and moaned and in the boundless quiet and emptiness of the night her scream resounded like a multiplied echo."


Finally she woke up. Endless pains raged in her body. She rang the bell frantically. A couple of nurses who were on night duty rushed in. But it was a long time, a very long time, before they succeeded in calming Lili down. -@Editor: PLC

‒ ‒ ‒


Even after this terrible night, morning came again. It was a beautiful day and Lili devoted herself to her blissful waiting. She listened anxiously for every footstep. At a long distance she was able to distinguish the steps of her benefactor from everyone else's. But they did not always stop at her door. Other patients needed him, but she waited patiently until her turn came. Here at Frauenklinik everyone waited for him. They all had to share him and each had her share. She too. If he smiled, she forgot all her pains. But there were also moments when he could be very strict. Then she felt a mysterious fear of him. She understood that he was quite different to her than he had then been to Andreas. Not with a single word did he allude to the past. Was she really only Lili to him? Had he forgotten everything else? Sometimes
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she felt an urge to ask him about it. But she did not dare.


For hours she could lie pondering on this often recurring question. She felt that he had taken her will from her. She felt how by alternating mildness and authority he made every female string in her vibrate. Did he not call every female primitive instinct to life in her? She felt the transformation that was performed in her every day. It was a new life. It was a new youth. It was her youth that liberated, dawned in her. And she lay wondering and believing.


Once she came to think of the strange dream Andreas had had shortly before he left Paris to travel to Berlin. The white figure that stood between her and death and the bright grove of birches out there in space. The white figure had become larger and larger, it grew into a mighty guardian spirit whose large wings filled the world with its resounding sound ... Then Lili cried long and silently as only a young woman can cry.


The Matron came in. She did not ask why Lili cried. She took both her hands in hers. And when Professor Werner Kreutz came she saw in his eyes that he understood what went on inside her. He read her as an open book.


She felt infinitely small and to everything he said she had only one answer:


"Yes, Professor! ...... No, Professor!" -@Editor: PLC

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Spring, the great wonder of Nature, also came to her aid. For many days yet she was confined to her bed. But with each new day her health returned. The pains decreased. Everything took a normal course. The Professor was satisfied with her. She was still tremendously exhausted. That was probably why her thoughts lay as if behind a veil, and she spent most of the day dreaming and withdrawn in herself. The world outside did not concern her ...... She did not think about its existence, at all. Newspapers and books were brought to her but she let them lie without touching them. She had only one wish, that she could stay here, live the rest of her life in this peaceful clinic.


And if, once in a while, she remembered that one day she would have to return to life out there on the other side of the garden wall that protected the large and quiet building, she was overwhelmed by a boundless fear. And then the wish arose in her of becoming a nurse, of staying here in the safety of this peace and gather strength until she was once able to help other women find the same peace. Now and then she spoke to Grete and the Matron or to the nurses about it. But they just nodded. Once she asked Grete if she could not talk to the Professor about it.


"Yes, you can do that," Grete said.


But immediately she was overwhelmed by a new fear.


"What if the Professor says no? Perhaps I'll never have enough strength for it? Or if he says that is not the reason why he has helped me?"


Grete could not answer her.


For many nights Lili struggled with other plans that could give her refuge from the fear she had of the world outside. What if she entered a convent? ...... She already saw herself as a sister in an isolated monastery, far from the usual tourist
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trails somewhere in Italy, Spain or Southern Germany. And no one there would learn where she came from or how her fate had turned out ...... no one ...... For long periods she could lie crying for fear of life outside, this life that she felt as an enemy ...... There her secret would quickly be discovered and she would be regarded as a phenomenon. Her fate would be discussed and she would be stared at ...... she would not be left alone ...... The healthier her body became, the stronger her fear of the future among people became. But she no longer dared to talk to others about it.


Finally the morning came when she was allowed to leave the sick room for the first time. In a deck chair she was wheeled out into the warm, sunny April morning. She was put on the lawn. It was her first carefree and happy day. She felt like a newborn. Her mind was fresh and full of wonder. She saw every insect that flew in the blue summer air and followed its flight from tree to tree. The white spring flowers under the hedges and in the beds were like a message to her. With attentive eyes she contemplated a magnolia tree that presented its big shiny buds in the light. On a twig two birds were cooing. And Lili closed her eyes. A light breeze played among the white birches, and the spring soil breathed sweetly and warmly. Somewhere a bird was singing ...... She did not want to open her eyes, just lie quite still and breathe everything in. This is how the Professor found her.


"You look so happy," he said and patted her lightly on the hand.


My life is his work, she thought. I wish that I could thank him for this the first spring day of my life. Thank him because he has always been so merciful to me. But none of all this was said, she only felt it in her heart.


"You look so happy," the Professor repeated.


And she answered:


"Yes, Professor."


There were many more happy spring days. And finally the day also came when she could get up from her deck chair and walk her first steps through the garden on Grete's or the nurse's arm.


Everything was like before and yet everything was quite different. On every
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path she again met young, pregnant women – the blue crocuses she thought, smiling.

‒ ‒ ‒


One morning even before she had gone into the park, Grete and the Matron came and presented her with a solemn looking sealed letter. It had come from Berlin. She opened it and was seized by a deep fascination ...... A few weeks ago the Professor had said to her that he would help her become what she should be, a woman, also in the eyes of the world. He had promised to write to the Danish embassy. And now she held a passport in her hand that was provided with her photograph and where the name was that she had chosen in gratitude towards the place where she had found herself: Lili Elbe .


She sank down on a chair and whispered:


"Let me be alone for a while."


Grete and the Matron understood her and went outside. For a long time she stayed sitting on the chair without moving ...... Then slowly and hesitantly she walked out into the park and sat down on a bench standing right in the sun. Her passport ...... like a precious gift she held the small booklet with both her hands. It was the last day but one of April. In two days, it was the first of May ...... Andreas had kept his promise, he was dead and she lived ‒ Lili Elbe.


The Professor came by. He sat next to her but they hardly talked. The next morning he came again and his voice was softer than usual. His stern face was radiant with goodness. He held both her hands and spoke to her. His words gave her new hope and new strength. In a few hours he was going to leave, she knew that, and he was to stay away for several weeks.


Lili pulled herself together and tried to thank him for everything he had done for her. But she could not find the words. And when he had gone she felt totally abandoned. Only one thing comforted her, that she was allowed to stay in this sanctuary that he had given her. That she could stay here and wait for his return.


He was to travel to the South and when he was gone, everything became empty and desolate.


When Easter was over, Grete too said goodbye to her. She had to return to Paris for some weeks. It was a
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Monday morning. The car that was to drive Grete to the railway station stood outside the gate and Lili walked her out. These were the first steps that she ventured — into life outside the wall.


But when Grete was gone and she walked back through the garden alone she did not know what to do with herself.

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Many letters now travelled to Paris from Lili to Grete and from Grete to Lili.


It was not much that Lili had to tell. One day passed for her like the other. Most of her time she spent in the park. She made her first friendships with some young women who expected their delivery, and she became privy to the great and small troubles of others. About her own troubles she was completely silent, and when she was questioned in a real woman's manner, she knew how to keep her secret. She felt most attached to a young woman who expected her first child and did not live happily with her husband. -@Editor: PLC She even spoke of divorce. Her husband scarcely sent her a few lines now and then. Lili listened to her complaints and comforted her, and when the young woman asked Lili why she was not visited by her husband either, if she was perhaps divorced, she nodded in alarm.


Lili was also on friendly terms with a young opera singer and she made her first walk out in the city with her. Probably the opera singer had heard from others that Lili did not like to speak about her family circumstances and she was tactful enough not to ask.


Dresden was filled with spring. They spent many hours by the wide river that Lili had seen for the first time many weeks ago when she had come here from Berlin. How her life had changed in the short span of time! In each letter that she sent to Paris she wrote about the river. They were almost cheerful letters, full of carefree attitude and spring joy ... The letters Lili had from Paris brought good news and encouraging words. Often Grete sent greetings from Elena and Ernesto, and from Claude Lejeune dear and reassuring letters came ...... Days and weeks went by where Lili did not ask a single question. Every burden seemed to be lifted from her. Just stay here ...... never leave here. That was her only
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daily prayer. She forgot all her fear ...... she felt protected from all evil ...... she was like a plant that had been ruthlessly pulled up and now was back in a soil where it has taken root.


Every night, at first frightened and shy but gradually more boldly, she contemplated her body, which caused her a sweet and secret joy. She saw how all the lines were rounded in female softness, the miracle was completed more and more. For a long time she could stand in front of the mirror and be delighted by her young woman's body. Flawless it shone towards her from the smooth surface of the mirror, but she dared not involve any human being on earth in the happiness she felt during these quiet hours.


The last week in May the Professor stood in front of her again one morning. She could tell by looking at him that he was pleased with his work. The whole of June went by.


"Now you are strong enough," the Professor declared one day, "that I dare submit you to a new operation."


Lili was surprised:


"A new operation? Why on earth?"


The Professor looked at her seriously:


"Are you afraid?"


Alarmed Lili warded off the thought:


"No, no, not at all."


"Good," he said, "then don't ask. I just want to help you in order that the work be completely successful."

– – –


A couple of days later, this operation too was over. New difficult and painful days came. The bed would no longer let go of her. Outside summer had begun and brought a lot of sun and many flowers to her. When again she was allowed to get up for the first time, she was so weak that she could not walk one step. Again she lay in the deck chair in the park. It was already July. The bees hummed from flower to flower and the birds chirped jubilantly in the swelling crowns of the trees. The birches now stood with their summer foliage, and when the wind rustled through them, Lili thought that it sounded like the ringing of fine glass bells.


Someone shouted her name:



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And the next moment Grete was lying in Lili's arms. Now happy days came. Every day, early in the morning Grete came and watched every step that Lili once again began to take on the summery paths of the garden. For each new day, the patient began to blossom. Soon she could walk cheerfully around the park again free from all fatigue and pain. And like two good sisters Grete and Lili later went arm in arm on expeditions around Dresden. One evening, when they returned after one of these trips, the Professor walked up to them in the park.


"Oh, Professor ...... I feel so healthy, but ......" she stopped.


"But what?"


"Couldn't I stay here for a few more months? Then you are welcome to operate on me one more time."


The Professor shook his head and laughed:


"No, now it is about time that you get out into the world and try your wings."


That same evening Lili found a bird's nest. It hung up under the arch in the roofed passage that lead from the Professor's private residence to the clinic. A whole family of sparrows, father sparrow, mother sparrow chirped and the chicks cheeped. Perhaps it is a small family argument, Lili thought, but suddenly one of the chicks fell out of the nest and remained lying on the ground. It flapped its wings a little and attempted to fly, but it could not. Its wings were not yet able to carry it. The parents had hurried out of the nest and fluttered around the chick while they cried in fear and perplexity. They could not get it back into the nest again. Then Lili went over to the chick and took it up in her hand, she could feel how its little heart was beating.


Suddenly the Matron stood beside her:


"But why are you crying, Mrs. Lili -@Translator: MO?"


Lili silently held the chick toward her:


"Look, it has fallen out of the nest and it can't fly ...... The parents can't help it ...... no one ...... no one can help it ...... It made me think of myself ...... I can't fly either ...... and now I have to leave the nest."


She gave the little bird to the Matron who fetched a ladder and put the bird back with its siblings in the nest.

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The departure from the clinic went much more smoothly than Grete had dared to expect. When the Professor said goodbye to Lili she answered simply and naturally:


"I thank you, Professor, not only for my life but also for the hope and all the confidence you have given me ...... I will try to live my life out there now ...... but if I am in distress, may I come back to you?"


The Professor pressed her hand:


"Write to me where you are, how you are doing, and what you are doing. And should you need me you will always find refuge and friends here."


Then she said goodbye to the Matron and the other nurses who walked her out to the gate and watched her suitcases being loaded into the automobile while she wondered how simple and natural everything was now. How life, when you bring it out into daylight, is undramatic and uncomplicated. Through days and nights she had trembled before this departure and before life out there, and before she knew it, she already sat in the train with Grete on her way to Berlin. Only later, many months later, she realised how hard the transition had been from the quiet peace of the clinic to the days she would live in Berlin again.


Only then she also realised why she had been moved so abruptly from the paradise by the Elbe to the noisiest of all cities.


These days in Berlin were meant to be an experiment. They were meant to show if she had sufficient strength to take up life.


They lived in a hotel right in the vicinity of the clinic where she had been admitted as a man a few months ago, but she felt no urge to visit the places that marked a transitional
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stage that was now behind her. Nor did she feel any inclination to look up friends from those days.


To live anonymously among the millions of the giant city, to walk around and watch others work until she was strong enough to seek her part in that work – that was, in the proper sense of the word, the meaning of this stay in Berlin. Grete was not always with her on her walks through Tiergarten, at museums, and through the noisy, teeming streets. On the contrary, she often asked if she could venture out into the crowds of the city alone and find her feet. Yes, that was just it: she had to find her feet, she had to show that she was able to take care of herself, to walk her way alone. Grete let her do as she wanted. Secretly she was pleased with how Lili, with each day that passed, concerned herself more and more with the big and small problems of daily life, even if she also knew that Lili during these days in Berlin had to fight many difficult battles in her mind.


And so it was. There were days when Lili walked around with a suffering and broken heart and when she felt oppressed by fear. It is so easy, she thought, to walk around with my anonymous fate here among all the complete strangers. But how will everything be when my anonymity ends, when I have to show myself in the circles where Andreas used to move and where he belonged?


She thought of her family in Denmark. Should she stay away from them? Was that not the easiest? Should she, who was a new person without a past and therefore, in reality, also without a family, not rather renounce everything that had the slightest connection to Andreas? Should she not forget her brothers and sisters and her friends, both at home in Denmark and in Paris, and start afresh? With such an unyielding fanaticism, she devoted herself to these thoughts that she eventually arrived at the question whether she should not also leave Grete, leave her quietly and without many words. Or should she speak to Grete and as simply and naturally as possible try to explain to her that their ways had to part now? But scarcely had she asked herself this question before she was already frightened by it. Would life and the world around her not become far too empty and cold if she stood apart from everything that had once surrounded Andreas? Would it not, on the contrary, be
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cowardice, a kind of guilt, if she broke all the ties that connected her to the past, to Andreas' past? Would Grete not be lonely too, if she left her forever?


Such days where she asked and searched without finding answers were followed by nights where she lay sleepless and pondered on everything that had happened to her, to Grete, and to Andreas.


The more intensely, the more longingly, the more fervently she let her thoughts wander as pilgrims back to the old memories, the more frightened she became, because it became clear to her that nothing connected her to the past, that her whole world of thought did not go further back than to the day when she had been created again in the beautiful city by the Elbe.


It was as if a grey fog fell over her when she asked these questions without getting any answers. What she had previously experienced merged into this fog that became thicker and thicker and eventually concealed everything. Faces that Andreas had known faded away and disappeared.


It was as if an empty room lay behind her, a desert where not even shadows from the past appeared. In such nights, she was afraid of going mad and she dared not confide in any other person, not even Grete, what was going on inside her.


Only two names appeared ever brighter and clearer in her memory and with them two faces. One belonged to the friend Claude and the other to Feruzzi, the young Italian officer who ages ago – so it seemed to her at least, and it was only a year after all – had been with them in Rome. Feruzzi, this handsome young Italian officer to whom Grete, without having mentioned his name in the last few weeks, in her need to be protected by a man who was devoted to her in life and death – perhaps still unknown to herself – felt strongly attached. Suddenly it occurred to Lili what the deep and strange secret was that was the innermost motive for the promise that Andreas had made to himself that evening in Rome when all three of them, Andreas, Grete, and Feruzzi, had been together. Grete and Feruzzi should be united for they belonged to each other, and therefore he, Andreas, had to disappear ......


It was already late at night when Lili suddenly got out of bed and walked softly over to Grete's bed. She sat down beside her and
[Page 137]
took her hand. Grete slept but at this touch she woke up and looked startled at Lili beside her.


"Did I wake you up?" Lili asked.


"Yes, I had such a beautiful dream," Grete said.


"And where were you in your dream?"


"I think I was in Rome."


"And that you were with Feruzzi, weren't you?"


She put her arm around Grete who let her head sink to her shoulder with a happy smile. But they did not talk any more.


Next morning Lili wrote the following simple and composed letter to Feruzzi:


Dear friend!


I want to tell you that Andreas kept his word. He is dead. I know that Grete has not told you so yet. Write to her and do not leave her.


And below this she put her new name.


Eight days later they returned to the city by the Elbe . Lili was again in her home. The Professor examined her and expressed satisfaction. But only for a few days was she allowed to walk around between the birches in the park. Then she had to say goodbye again, and at the Professor's request she and Grete went to a small health resort that lay hidden far up in the Erzgebirge surrounded by quiet woods.


Here they lived with other people whom they had never met before but who also sought rest and recuperation. And here one day a letter arrived for Grete from Italy.


Grete gave the letter to Lili. It only said that a man was waiting for them and that wherever he was and wherever they were they only had to call him and he would come. His heart belonged to them both ...... and he would consider Lili as his sister. Under the letter was Feruzzi's name.


That day Lili felt for the first time in her life as a woman that she had paid back some of her debt to Grete. And for the first time Grete learned what Andreas had promised himself, her, and Feruzzi that evening in Rome.


"Grete," Lili said later in the day, "now I have come so far that we can both go home."

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"Home?" Grete asked.


"Yes, home to Denmark, so that you can be completely free of a person who has already been dead for a long, long time, of Andreas. Then both of us, you and I, will start a new life."


A couple of weeks later they travelled north ‒ to Denmark.

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In the sleeping carriage to Copenhagen Grete lay in a deep and calm slumber when Lili was suddenly torn out of her dream by a horrible nightmare. What she had actually dreamt, she did not know, but it was as if she felt a sharp pang in her heart. Cautiously she pulled the window down a little. They were on the ferry on the way between Warnemünde and Gedser. It was a starless, greyish August night, and in the darkness she seemed to see an image before her. It was the railway station hall in Copenhagen. It was full of people and every one shouted and pointed at her: Lili Elbe! Lili Elbe! She was seized by a nameless panic. She could no longer stand being in the sleeping carriage.


She dressed, found her fur coat in the half-light, slipped out of the carriage and went by the wet steps of the ferry up onto the deck. Not a soul was in sight. Everyone was sound asleep. Only the pounding of the propeller and the roar of the wake were heard. The lantern up in the mast was shining faintly. A thick black smoke rose from the chimney. From the smoking cabin the glow of electric light fell on the smooth planks of the deck. A few passengers were sitting in there. She ducked from fear of meeting familiar faces and of being recognised by someone. Like a ghost she snuck through the light to one of the darkest corners of the ship. She was overtaken by a shiver. No, she thought, no, I can't go to Copenhagen. And she could not let go of the image that had appeared to her in the sleeping compartment. Her imagination described it in more and more powerful detail, and in the end, she thought she heard, in time with the regular knocks of the machine, the cry: "It is her! It is her!" ......


Suddenly there was the sound of steps. She dared not look up, but pressed more deeply into the corner. A man walked close by her. His steps sounded across the deck and became more and more distant. Then he had apparently turned around, because the steps approached again, stamped by, and became distant again. Up and down the deck he walked until he stopped right across from the corner where she stood, and struck a
[Page 140]
match to light a cigarette. The match flared up and its glow lit up the man's face brightly. Without wanting to she had stared straight into the flame. She had pressed both hands to her mouth not to scream. As a fever the thought went through her: "You know him and he has recognised you too." She closed her eyes and it was as if she had to pray, send a silent prayer to the sky: "Oh, God let me die!" And now this is the prayer that she could hear repeated in the rhythm of the machine, again and again: "Let me die! Let me die!"


The man has finally disappeared from the deck and she is all alone in the breaking dawn between the sea and the grey sky that is coloured by a metallic reflection from the rising sun hidden by the bleak leaden cloud cover. But still her lips stammer out the same request in trembling fear: "Oh God, let me die!" She drags herself to the rail. She is so tired, so enormously tired, that she can hardly keep on her feet. She stares down into the water, the dark water, rising and falling in even, dreary waves ...... There is a possibility of escaping from the horror that she knows that she – as long as she stays in Copenhagen – will not get rid of. But she cannot, she does not have the strength.


Finally she returns to the sleeping carriage. Grete is still asleep. She has not noticed anything – and she will not be told anything, Lili promises herself. She undresses quietly and slips into her bunk where she starts to cry, a soft, soundless crying. When Grete wakes up, Lili has finished crying but her face is cold and stiff. Grete has to help her get dressed and speaks to her encouragingly. Lili listens silently, but confines herself to nodding. She still sees her fever image in her mind: The railway station hall with the thousand pointing fingers and the thousandfold cry: "It is her! It is her!"


But no one at the railway station shouts her name. There is no one she knows. With the fur collar turned up around her ears and with a close veil Lili makes her entry into Copenhagen. Like a helpless child, she clings to Grete the short distance to the stairs and up though the arrival hall. She does not dare look up. Each time she passes a group of people, she starts like a hunted criminal thinking herself persecuted from all sides.

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Grete puts her in a corner of the waiting room where there are only few travellers and then goes out to take care of the luggage and get hold of a porter. And suddenly a young cousin stands in front of Lili. He is the only one to whom Grete has confided their arrival. At Lili's request, he was to meet them in the waiting room. Andreas had hardly known this cousin, and Lili had anxiously pictured to herself the prying eyes of this half strange relative.


But in a quite natural manner he greeted both of them. He had thought that they would go out to Andreas' -@Editor: PLC married sister who lived in the vicinity of Copenhagen and for that reason he had not reserved a hotel room. But Lili suddenly refused to go out to the sister. It was two years since Andreas had last seen her, and now Lili had neither the strength nor the courage to show herself to this sister who was only a year older than Andreas and who in the years of childhood had been his dearest playmate.


"Fine," Grete said, "let's say no more about it."


She went out to telephone a hotel, but it was August and they were all booked up. Finally she found one where they could get a room for them on the top floor. Fifteen minutes later Lili sat in the hotel and all day she did not venture outside the room.


In the evening, without asking Lili, Grete informed her brother-in-law about their arrival. He immediately went to the hotel and wanted Lili to come with him.


"Give me a few more days," she asked, "first I have to get used to the idea of seeing my sister again. I don't have the strength for it yet ...... I can't bear to see anyone ...... at least not Andreas' family."


She kept pleading for mercy.


"I am afraid," she stammered again and again, "afraid of meeting those people again who belonged to Andreas ...... who have loved him and whom he loved. I have the feeling that I have murdered him ...... I know that it is madness of me to say so. But why do I feel like someone who is being hunted and persecuted?"


All her complaints ended the same way:


"Oh God, let me die!"


This first night in Copenhagen Grete did not leave her. It was a night with no end and no rest. There was nothing left of the
[Page 142]
creature who had left Frauenklinik so full of confidence. Her carefree composure had been replaced by a deep despondency.


"I must get back to the clinic," she repeated to herself, "I should have stayed there, only there I belong ...... in all other places there is no one who cares about me, no one who understands me, no one who without asking will take me as I am now ...... I must get back to the white nurses and the other women in the park, to them I'm nothing but what they are themselves, women who need help and who are helped."


But she was not allowed to return to Dresden. She was not allowed to stay in the small hotel room. The next morning they came and picked her up.


She was going out to – Andreas' sister.

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Many weeks after Lili's first meeting with Andreas' sister out in the quiet villa by the little lake in the immediate vicinity of the city she began to keep a diary. She felt a compelling urge to keep accounts of the first start of her new life. The shock of the arrival in Copenhagen lay behind her. She had regained her peace and she was in a brighter mood. She had even had the courage to read through Niels' record of the confession that she had made to her friends in Berlin ...... Now this night lay six months back in time. Her nephew, a young medical student, had encouraged her to write down her experiences and her feelings.


"You can do a lot of good that way," he had said, "you may be able to help yourself and others now, in this period where you are preparing yourself to take up serious work, by writing down what you think and feel."


Grete did not stay with them. She stayed with some friends in Copenhagen where no one must know anything about Lili, her arrival, and her life for the time being. For that reason Grete told everyone who asked about Andreas that he was seriously ill at a clinic in Germany ...... Only secretly Grete occasionally visited Lili, who did not want it any differently. She hardly dared do more than venture outside the garden sometimes in the evening and take a walk in the neighbourhood under the protection of her nephew.


So far her only task in Copenhagen had been to help Grete regain her freedom. The important thing was to have Grete's marriage to Andreas dissolved without the public getting any wind of it. It was a very difficult matter the outcome of which was very uncertain for there were no legislative provisions for such a fantastic case that no legislator could have predicted. One of the spouses, Andreas Sparre, did not exist anymore. How then would you go about separating a wife from a non-existent spouse? And finally, if it could
[Page 144]
be done the law required a separation first where the two spouses should live apart before the final divorce was granted and that would take a few years.


Lili could not bear this idea. She did not want Grete to be cheated out of two more years of her life. As there seemed to be no way out, Lili just as previously Andreas, was faced with the option of voluntarily facing death to rid Grete of a spouse who did not exist at all. Finally one of their friends, a clever lawyer, thought of the solution of submitting an application to the King. This happened at the end of August, and in the beginning of September Grete and Lili received a message that they should personally present themselves in court on a certain date. Grete asked Lili if she thought that she had enough strength for this.


"Should I not be able to do that for you," Lili answered beaming with joy, "you who have sacrificed so much for me? ...... Do you think that I could think of myself at this moment?"


This trip to the court was Lili and Grete's first joint excursion in Copenhagen. The time had been kept strictly secret and the two ladies were brought in before a judge. Only the judge and another public officer were present in the room. All of the legal proceedings lasted just under half an hour, but neither Lili nor Grete liked to talk about how they had turned out. Some days later -@Editor: PLC it was declared by a special royal resolution that the marriage entered into by Andreas and Grete Sparre must be considered invalid.


Shortly afterwards Lili moved from her sister's to the home of an acquaintance who lived on an out-of-the-way residential road and where she rented a couple of gabled rooms that became her home during the rest of her stay in Denmark. They were a couple of modest rooms but she was comfortable in them. Here she had peace to collect herself and write in her diary. It began 10 October and the first thing she wrote about was the meeting with Andreas' sister.

– – –


She wrote:


"When on the second day after my arrival in Copenhagen I was taken out to Andreas' sister – now I feel, now I know, that I also dare call her my sister – I was shown into a room where I had never been but where Andreas had spent many hours.

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When I opened the door, no one was in the room, and when I moved a few steps forward I saw my own reflection in a large wall mirror. I saw an elegantly dressed lady with smiling eyes, red painted lips and fresh cheeks. I was pleased with myself. I knew that I had done everything to look as good as possible. I thought it was a kind of justification. Who will blame me for resorting to all the cosmetics that any woman has the right to use?


Even if I would never paint, the image I saw in the mirror will still remain clear to me.


But scarcely had I critically examined myself before I caught sight of another picture in the mirror. It was a fjord landscape in summer sun with fertile, varied wood banks on both sides. My heart was beating. I turned around toward the picture hanging in a heavy gold frame on the wall. It was a work of his youth that Andreas had painted from the part of the country of his childhood.


I took a look around the room to see if anybody observed me, and on all the walls I saw paintings, landscapes, city scenes, river pictures. I recognised them all – they were Andreas' pictures. And his journeyman years -@Translator: MO appeared before me.


There was a small picture from the town by the river Loire where Andreas had lived for so many happy summer months ...... But not Andreas alone, no, there I too, Lili, had lived for the hours when I had escaped from the prison that his body was to me. There was also another picture, one of the Seine bridges in Paris under a sky that was overcast with grey storm clouds. On that bridge Andreas had stood staring down into the Seine while struggling with his thoughts of death.


I saw other pictures too that were painted by Grete. In one of them I, Lili, stood dressed in women's clothes ...... escaped form Andreas. I stepped up to the picture, let my hand run over it tenderly, rested my head against the frame and began to cry bitterly ...... But I did not want to, I must not cry ......


I sat down on a chair by the table where a big album lay. Without thinking I opened it and began to leaf through it. There were photographs of a fair boy with large, brown eyes. And I was at my wit's end for they were pictures of Andreas when he was still a child and played with his
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siblings, his two brothers and his sister. At that time he had no idea of the fateful life struggle that lay in store for him ...... he played and was happy.

– – –


Then the door opened and a lady with dark hair and blue eyes hesitantly stepped into the room. It was Andreas' sister. I got up and stood right in front of her. She -@Editor: PLC had to look up at me because I was taller than she. I started and I thought I would go mad. I happened to remember that Andreas and his sister had been of the same height. I read in her eyes that she had had the same thought and that it also shocked her.


Then I said:


"Hello! ...... You must be kind to your sister Lili."


Perhaps I said something else too. Perhaps I said:


"Please accept me and care for me as you cared for Andreas."


Or perhaps I did not say anything at all. Or perhaps I just smiled and explained:


"Do not be surprised that I'm taller than our dead brother Andreas because I'm wearing high heels ...... Please do not be angry with me for that ...... I so much wanted Lili to look as beautiful and ladylike as all the other women in our family." -@Editor: PLC


Then we sat on the couch and in front of us on the table was the album with Andreas' childhood pictures. And we held each other's hands for a long time. She was so good, Andreas' sister. She searched for the words. She looked at me all the time and her lips moved, but I do not know if it was her mouth or her eyes that spoke to me:


"Please don't be sad if I can't get used to calling you Lili ...... and if I cannot really find you in my thoughts ...... that I only look at you to try to rediscover Andreas in your eyes, in your hands, and on your forehead. I was so fond of Andreas' eyes and of his hands ...... and of his forehead too ...... that I have so often kissed. You know that ...... or perhaps you don't know that ...... but Andreas knows ...... I was only a year older than he after all ...... and when we were quite young – when he was five and I was six years old – I was as a little
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mother to him ....... he was the prettiest and sweetest of my brothers ...... he played with my dolls and he pushed my doll's pram ... I always called him Lillemand because I thought it suited him ...... and once when I had written it down and mother said that I had spelled it wrong, because it was not Lilleman -@Translator: MO but Lillemand with a d like Mand, I answered that I had written it without a d on purpose because he was not a real man. Then mother laughed and you laughed too when you heard it, no, not you, it was Andreas who laughed ...... but he did not know what he was laughing at ...... And Andreas and I went out in the woods and brought the doll's pram with us ...... he was the one who pushed it but he was afraid that others would see because then they would tease him ...... do you remember that I always put my hand beside his on the handle? Do you know why I did that? Now I can tell you ...... I did it so that if someone surprised us, Andreas could quickly remove his hands so that they would think that it was me who pushed the pram."


Did my sister say all this to me or was it just her eyes that told me? ...... I just nodded ...... and I cried -@Editor: PLC...... I calmly accepted that her large trembling woman's eyes stared searchingly at me for many, many days, as if she still sought her little brother in me ...... I really think she found him again ......


In the first days when we spoke for many hours, she often called me by Andreas' name ...... and every time it was as if I should die...... I also told her so a couple of times and I begged her to believe me, I was not Andreas' murderer ...... I also said that if he had not died then I must have perished with him, and that now when I lived I had him to thank for every day I existed.


Once I told her that I really had neither parents nor siblings, that I was not born here in Denmark at all but in Germany ...... perhaps Mother, if she had given birth to me as a girl, would not have liked me at all for she loved her little boy. I think it was that day that my sister declared that everything that had happened in Dresden had been an outrage, a crime against Nature, a play with destiny. Could Andreas really not have gone on living? Had it not been
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better if he had dragged on his tortured body and borne his hard fate until death took pity on him? Then she pointed to the wall that was filled with Andreas' pictures:


"Can't you see what an artist has been lost in him? ...... How completely different he was from you?"


"Yes," I answered, "but that just proves that Andreas acted correctly when he set me free because we were two different beings Andreas and I ...... I know that as a person I am much inferior to him ...... I'll never accomplish what he accomplished ...... I'll never paint as he painted ....... I feel no need to and I'm afraid to try and feel my impotence ...... but that shows you that it was two different beings who lived in the same body and who came into existence under our mother's heart ...... Do you think that I have won so much by the life that I now finally have to myself? ...... You say that Andreas was both stronger and more capable than I, but he also had a long life where he lived and worked while I hardly dare to show myself. If I show myself everyone, just as you did, will call it deceit, fraud, and a masquerade ...... So let us be friends and good sisters to our brother Andreas.


Another time, my sister admitted:


"I don't think that an injustice has happened after all, Lili ...... It was probably Andreas' wish that everything should go as it has ...... he was so chivalrous ...... that is why he thought that it was his duty to release you even if he had to pay for your freedom with his life."


Thus there was a continuous and persistent battle between her and me about my right to exist ...... and I know how terribly difficult it was for her when she eventually – even if it was only out of charity – forced herself to believe in me and embrace me as her sister, as Lili ...... I myself did not make it any easier for her. Through all of my being, through the way I moved, through everything I said, I did what I could to prove to her that I was another person than Andreas.


He was smart and witty, curious, and contemplative ...... I was quite superficial ...... and
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I was so on purpose ...... I wanted to show her that I was someone completely different, that I was a woman ...... I was thoughtless, silly, fond of finery, and pleasure-seeking, yes, it is safe to say childish ...... and now I can confess that it was definitely not all pretence ...... I was really unconcerned, carefree, illogical, and capricious ...... I just accentuated it, took my nature a step further.


During the few weeks I spent in my sister's home, I could not overcome my shyness of people and the melancholy that had seized me on my arrival in Copenhagen. I noticed, when I observed myself critically alone in my bedroom at night, that I looked tired, worn out and impossible ......