Translation of Lili Elbe Buch (German Typescript)


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Paris. Quarter Saint Germain. On a February night in 1930. On a quiet street with a posh palace – housing a small restaurant. Francois, the proprietor, a gentle Sicilian, tall as a tree, serves the glowing warm wines of his home country here. Foreigners, most of them artists, a close knit circle, are his regulars.


Among them are Andreas and Grete Sparre, both Danish, both painters, and their Italian friend Ernesto Rossini with his elegant, French wife, Elena.


They celebrate reunion on this night. They had not seen each other for a whole year. One of the couples was roaming the North, the other the South of Europe. All four are glad being back in Paris.


"Skaal,'" Andreas exclaims in his good natured, Nordic way, raising his glass.


"This wine, children, does for the soul what the sun in the mountains do for the body! Which reminds me of this magnificent legend of the cathedral of Seville, which Greta and I marveled at, recently. They encased a ray of sunlight underneath the base of the tallest pillar, that's the whole legend. . . . "


"Marvelous!" Ernesto replies, gleefully.


"That's heavenly, Andreas." Elena interjects, warmly squeezing his hand.


And Miss Grete -@Editor: #PLC smiles happily and wistfully.


A few minutes later this somewhat celebratory, high-spirited introduction is forgotten.


Grete and Ernesto exchange multiple travel impressions with one another in a colorful way, wanderings through museums and infamous, narrow alleys in Cadiz and Antwerp, voyages of discovery through the bazaars of the Balkans and in basement thrift stores of Amsterdam! One tries to top the other's stories. That's how Grete is. That's how Ernesto is. Very engaged. With deeply earnest eyes that are honed for the appreciation of the arts.


Meanwhile, Andreas lets Elena whisper delectable and even raunchy, new and scandalous stories out of Rome and Madrid into his ear -@Translator: #SW . In this, Elena is an expert. Although born in Paris, which seems like an oddity in these "exalted circles," she resembles one of those blonde Venetian women of Palma Vecchio. She descends from an old, very rich family of bankers. She possesses her ancestors' intelligence,
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coupled with a goodness of the heart, that finds expression in her fanatical activity as a collector: she collects lost and run away dogs and friends in need. For years she's been doing this. Without pause. And still she finds time for being a magnificent spouse and delightful mom to her four beautiful children.


Ernesto's home is technically Thessaloniki. He is a consummately handsome kind of man. One can hardly imagine a more harmonious couple. "This would be called a symbiosis of the highest potency by learned scholars!" Andreas explains at every appropriate and inappropriate time.


As he does tonight, and the wine loosens his tongue even more. "Are you drinking too much, Andreas?" Miss Elena interrupts herself all of a sudden, in the middle of relating a "most recent" and "guaranteed true" incredible tale set in the sinful home of Paris. The increasingly nervous and pale expressions of the friend caught her eye. "My dear, you can't deceive me. You are not doing well! You seem bent on playing a healthy man tonight." Ernesto and Grete have caught up Elena's words. Grete just glances at Andreas in silence. Ernesto takes the friend's hand. "Is Lili causing you trouble again?" he asks discreet and full of worry, looking from Andreas to Grete.


"You guessed it, Ernesto." Andreas replies quietly and very seriously. "Little by little these circumstances are becoming insufferable. Lili no longer agrees to sharing her existence with me. She wants her existence for herself alone. I don't know if she understands me. Me? Oh, I've lost my worth. I can't go on. I'm done. Lili has known that for awhile. ...


So it is ... And she grows more agitated in the turmoil she causes day by day. What do I still want with her ... That might sound like a strange question, for others. But kids, you are not among those "others." ... Only fools believe themselves being indispensable ...irreplaceable... But now, not a word more on this. Let us rather drink a fiery, sweet Asti, to make Elena happy."


"Bravo," cries Elena, while not taking her eyes off of Andreas, who exhaustedly rose and then ambled wearily to the bar, where Francois sat enthroned among his various bottles, his mild mandolin eyes resting expectantly and very calmly on Andreas. "Signore..." he calls him
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half singing from a distance.


Meanwhile all three, Elena, Ernesto and Grete won't take their eyes off of Andreas.


"Tell me quickly," whispers Elena, bent over towards her friend, -@Translator: SW "what does it look like with our friend. He worries me. I really don't like his appearance. Please talk to him..."


Grete has lost her smile. "It has never been so bad with him, never ..."


Ernesto and Elena look upon the friend wordlessly. And then they look onto Andreas, who in this moment is relating his Asti order to Francois with the help of a flurry of gestures. The Sicillian accepts the order, vowing to "bring into the artificial light of day of his vespertine tavern." "I have given up all hope of salvation for him," Grete says, very quietly, "Without a miracle happening..."


Elena interrupts her vividly. "See, you call it ... a miracle. And that reminds me of how strange it is, that we four are reunited, just tonight after such a long time..."


She does not say another word, gazing on in silence.


Grete looks upon the friend quizzically. "Why strange...?"


"You know, Grete, Ernesto, the children and I were supposed to go someplace else tonight." Ernesto nods in agreement. "But, and Ernesto know this as well, I had a feeling telling me: you have to see Grete and Andreas tonight... Especially tonight..."


"True," Ernesto says enthusiastically not letting his eyes off Andreas, who is still standing at the bar, apparently waiting for the "unprecedented" Sicilian grape juice. "Hurry up Elena, before he comes back...."


"All right, then come as close as you can, Grete." Elena whispers. "Now, listen. A good friend of ours is in Paris for a few days. A German. Out of Dresden. A gynecologist. We were supposed to meet him tonight. He rang us up this morning, just after we had spoken with Andreas on the phone. And that immediately reminded me: if someone can help our friend Andreas, it can only be this doctor from Dresden . And the whole thing requires haste. Because the doctor has to return to Germany tomorrow afternoon.

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I want to arrange a rendezvous with him tonight ..." Grete acknowledges the optimism emanating from Elena's gaze with nothing but a tired motion of the hand. "Dearest Elena, don't bother yourself. It won't do any good. It is useless. Believe me. Andreas does not want to see any more doctors. He's had enough of them. Oh, who haven't we seen. No... No... I can understand him quite well if he now swears faithfully that he doesn't want another medical examination. The poor man."


Elena took both of Grete's hands. And Ernesto put his hand on top of theirs. "Just let Elena do her thing," he says almost imploringly.


"Yes, Grete, dearest, you must not disagree now," Elena protests, "whether you want to, or not, you have to agree, and I will ring up the Professor tonight and tell him of Andreas. I have to do that. I know, the doctor will be able to help him.


After that the three of them fall back into silence. Their gaze is on Andreas, who holds dusty bottles against the light, deeply engaged in conversation with Francois. Andreas' bright voice and the Sicilian's sonorous murmur waft over them. One appears intent on convincing the other of something.


Grete slowly lights a cigarette. Her way of doing this is very involved. Like a religious act. She does not know. Her large, grey eyes that dominate her gentle, blonde face have now turned inwards. She blows the blue cigarette smoke away from her. She stares into the smoke. She inhales more smoke. And slowly lets it stream out, resuming her stare.


Then she says slowly, calmly and firmly:


"All right, Elena. You call your German Professor. I have always, or rather, let's say, often listened to the mystical things surrounding us in the world. I have a finely tuned ear. And a delicate feeling for you. It is possible that my feelings do not betray me now. You know me, I am never melodramatic. But you appear to have infected me, Elena. That has to be it. I have almost become a believer through your eyes, Elena ... So, go ahead and call him. And I will hopefully manage to convince Andreas, that he comes by your place in time, tomorrow."

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And then the conversation quickly segues to something banal. Andreas returns, carrying two bottles of Asti like booty in front of himself.


"Children, now you will have some wine, that according to our cathedral legend is nothing but rays of sunlight caught in bottles."


"Si si Signore!" Maestro Francois seconds from afar.

* * *


As the hour grew late, Grete and Andreas called a cab for Ernesto and Elena to ride home in. While sauntering down the avenue close to their atelier apartment, she confesses to Andreas, initially with reservations, then more emphatically, what she, Elena and Ernesto decided earlier. Andreas is livid. He stops in his tracks in the middle of the road, stomps his feet, raves and riots like a spoilt brat, disregarding all puddles on the streets to the point that Grete's silk stockings soon look like a leopard's coat. He calls to all stars in the sky as his witness. The German professor should go to hell, he says, and Elena should accompany him there. He, Andreas, won't be examined by either German or French or Hindoostani mountebank. He professes being done with those butchers of human beings. Grete allows his rioting. She knows this from experience. But as he works himself into a frenzy she grabs his arm. "Now let this be enough. You seem to think that if you document your manliness in this way ... You just end up resembling an hysterical teenage girl in your tantrum... You should be ashamed of yourself... Do you understand me?" Andreas stopped, looked Grete from head to toe with his dark eyes. He quaked with agitation and closed the conversation for the day with the harrowing oath – that served to cause Grete breaking out in Homeric laughter: "No twelve German beer cart draft horses will find themselves able to tear me out of my good, wide Louis-Phillipe bed tomorrow morning just to drag me to this strange doctor... Do you believe I've not caused enough ridicule with the French quacks? Now you want a Dresdenite snake oil salesman to laugh at me also? Not another word..."

* * *


Andreas has long since fallen asleep.


Grete still sits up in bed, awake, gazing at the one asleep.
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. . . She knows how serious things are. And in the night's stifling heat she feels the choking of fear... She broods and broods... Is what the friends and herself want to convince the poor soul, sleeping childlike next to her, of truly the right thing to do? Can she really do that? Her conscience won't give her peace... Elena had said earlier that this complete stranger was supposedly an expert in his field as a medical practitioner...And if he too knows of no relief for her Andreas, then this could be a death sentence for the friend...Because she knows what will happen, should the German come to the same conclusion as his Parisian colleagues... And yet... And yet... maybe there can be relief, maybe there can be salvation in the stranger's findings. Maybe a miracle was still waiting for Andreas... This long awaited miracle, which she fervently and ever more fervently craved for the life partner, her fated companion, in good times as in bad times...


Suddenly she remembers the council of a strange Russian psychic, an immigrant here in Paris. It was after the latest, hopeless visit of a Parisian specialist... Andreas was devastated... While in this mood they encountered the Russian. "If your man switches doctors one more time, everything he wishes for will come true." That was what this strange woman had told them, and observed them with crying eyes...


Was it fate that was calling now? Could her instincts betray them, now that so much was at stake? ...


And yet. Now, with the beloved friend's life hanging in the balance, all courage seemed leaving her... She was scared of being wrong about this, scared to take on such a big responsibility... Scared for Andreas...

* * *


He had been sick for years. They had consulted countless doctors and specialists. Without any result. Now he was just so tired. Life had become agony for him...


Nobody had ever understood what was wrong with him. But his suffering was of a very curious nature. A specialist in Versailles had declared him a hysteric and that he otherwise was a completely normal
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man, who just should behave like a man of reason, so that he could "blossom" in a new, better life. He thought a special examination unnecessary. There was nothing wrong with the patient, other than the missing conviction that he was in fact completely healthy and normal... And that was it... Andreas had listened to this baffling insight calmly, and then, when they were back in the street, he declared: "You have to respect this genius of Versailles ! He can tell what's wrong with his patients when they're standing on his doorstep – just like in the good old days of Louis XIV..."


A young doctor, also in Versailles, had noted that "not all was as it should be"... but then he released Andreas with the following words full of solace: "You should not care about anything, whatever happens with your body. You are healthy and unblemished. You can still endure a lot."


A somewhat mystically inclined personality of the medical world out of Vienna, a friend of Steinach , had been on the right path with his diagnosis. "Only a daring, reckless doctor can help you. But where to find such a practitioner nowadays...?" A radiologist had been very active, but that man also almost killed Andreas...


After that, Andreas gathered his wits and got in touch with three surgeons, all of whom refused to "be caught dead" -@Editor: #PLC with him.


The first surgeon explained he never before had practiced "beautification surgeries." The second one solely examined Andreas' appendix. The third one declared Andreas "clinically insane." Most people at the time would have probably agreed with the last surgeon: because Andreas believed that he actually was not a man – but a woman...


Andreas, who as an artist did not feel compelled to hold on to old, adopted truths, had a low opinion of such "average medicine men," as he was wont to say – albeit one had to take his bitter mood into account. "Such a man thinks he is omniscient simply because he studied at a university when he was a green lad. And such a university
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is just as omniscient and infallible..." And suddenly, pushed on by a glass of Rhone-whine: "The truth is like flying sand... Always wandering."


And he knew that only a doctor with imagination, a man who was both scholar and artist at the same time, only such a person could possibly help him. But he had long since abandoned all hope to find such a doctor. And he had grown tired, so tired. He had sworn to himself never to visit another doctor again. He had made the decision to withdraw from existence. The first of May should be the day... The springtime is dangerous for the sick and the tired...


He had thought of everything...even his exit... It should be like a courteous bow to nature in a way... In case nature did not still come to the rescue at the last moment ... Now it was February...Already February... March and April would still be a time of waiting ... a grace period... He was calm, he waited expectantly . . he had long since resigned himself...


The only thing that tormented him was the thought of his small, marvelous woman, his faithful friend and life companion.


Grete Sparre was an artist of great talents. He was interested much more in her pictures of beautiful, yearning women with dreaming eyes and red, burning lips that called out for kissing and caressing. Those interested him a lot more than his own paintings. Her paintings were stimulating, stirring things up like a scent from the jungles of Paris... They were an expression of the time... and yet full of passionate devotion...clear in their lines, like an heir to Botticelli and the other primitive Italians... often as if entangled with a painful longing – like with Watteu ... as if the faint echo of a flute of the Greek god Pan was wafting through a Paris salon...


Maybe it was because of this ... because their marriage had been a companionship from the beginning that they both found life pleasant and worth living whenever they were together.... And they were indeed inseparable.


Barely grown up, still at the conservatory in Copenhagen, they had gotten married. They had grabbed life by the horns. A few days
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before the wedding Andreas had sold his first painting from his first gallery exhibition: for sixty Kroners!


They helped each other as artists, always, everywhere, in every way. From the beginning they fought shoulder to shoulder for their art, never leaving one another alone. They had lived abroad most of the time, mostly in Paris. And this life in foreign lands had brought them even closer together. At least they had been spared the easygoing air of divorce and irresponsibility that spread across Copenhagen.


Due to this Andreas often found himself in moments during which he felt like a traitor to Grete, now that he was listening with growing intent to the sweet melodies of death... But he had realized that he could no longer work, no matter how much he tried... And this epiphany was what gave him the excuse, the solace and a feeling of being right, to leave this mortal coil. He was afraid of becoming a burden to Grete... This thought had been choking him for months, smothering anything happy within him... No, he was no coward... He also did not feel like a martyr... No ... no... But to ever become a burden to his young wife? ... No!


Grete knew his thoughts. And whatever she offered to calm her poor loved one, to give him a renewed sense of hope, she had an inkling it was futile. So many things tied them to each other. So many fights, so many memories, light and dark. And maybe most of all – Lili ...... Lili? ... Yes... Because Andreas consisted of two beings: of a man, Andreas, and of a girl, Lili. They could be regarded as twins, who had taken hold of one body at the same time.


But their characters were very different from one another.


Slowly Lili was taking over Andreas, in a way that she was still present in him, even if she had withdrawn. But never the other way round. While he was feeling tired and doomed to death Lili was happy and buoyant, and had the happy urge to evolve, like a larva dreaming of receiving wings and becoming a beautiful butterfly.


She had become Grete's favorite model. Through all her best works Lili's slender elven body sauntered... Lili had already become a type, a modern type of woman, created from the imagination of
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an artist,... like all new things on the face of the earth.


Grete felt like a protector of this worry-free and helpless Lili. And Andreas felt like a protector of both... Because while Lili hated him, since he was in her way, Andreas liked her more than he did himself and hoped to disappear completely, for her sake. He hoped this would happen before their shared physical body had received too many scars from life... His last hope was to die, so that Lili could awaken to new life.


And when he was overcome with tiredness after sleepless nights full of fever and pain, there was only one thought left for him: to sleep forever.

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Grete's fears had dissipated as she woke from restless sleep a few hour later, and her decision was made.


In dreams she had glimpsed a tall, slender, white coated figure: a strange, somewhat stern face – that she did not know, -mitigated by a boundlessly benign smile. The man extended both hands towards her. And with an exclamation of deepest gratitude she had thrown herself into the arms of the stranger.


She rouses Andreas -@Editor: #PLC. She does not show her excitement to her lover. She addresses him kindly, and lays out to him clearly and gaily, that he, if for no other reason, should still go to Elena out of courtesy. There he could still come up with some excuse if he actually did not feel like seeing the German professor. Maybe Elena had not made an appointment with the strange doctor at all. Also, such a man would be swamped with visits, conferences and such things, especially right before departure. The chances of Andreas being examined by him would therefore be rather slim...Grete says all these things with intentional detachment and without additional pressure, lest Andreas resisted...


And then an hour later he is on his way to Passy, where Elena and Ernesto reside.


He finds both of them still in their giant, gilded four-poster bed. He has to squat down on the bedside next to Elena. An expansive breakfast for three is quickly prepared. Then Elena deploys the heaviest piece in her arsenal, her irresistible charm, with a fresh, morning smile. And before he knows it, Andreas has hopelessly fallen for it.


"You don't have to go for my sake, darling." Elena blathers away with an air of indifference. "But, you know, since the man is already here, we could just indulge him... Right? He likes me a lot by the way... That alone should compel you, right Ernesto?"


Ernesto just nods.


"And also you need to know, my little Andreasboy, that the man is a so-called big cheese. His name is Kreutz. That does not
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mean anything though. He is expecting me at noon. And then you'll just be there too. Because Ernesto would never leave me alone with such a magician. Right, Ernesto mio?


And Ernesto nods, again.


Disarmed, Andreas bowed down to the hand of his friend, kisses it, rubs it, kisses it again, and recites his eternal slogan: "Ce que femme veut arrive!"



At noon the car stops in front of an eighteenth-century palace. While Elena rings the bell, Andreas whispers: "Maybe it is interesting after all, to encounter this German luminary face to face. Since he belongs to a race that has a quite prominent interest in scientific research that this interest could possibly further the desire in a man to be created in God's image..."


"For heaven's sake, Andreas," Elena interrupts him, giggling, "don't hold a lecture out here now..."


"But why, I mean just that..."


"...that we should keep all of this for later, dear."


Andreas grabs the friend's free hand. "Elena, I just mean... I just hope that... How can I say that..."


Elena looks at her friend, who is paling from excitement, sternly. "Speak... Speak, Andreas..."


He gathers his thoughts. His eyes gleam wet. And then he emits this sentence: "... that he won't see me as a sad defector, - - because - - I would rather be a woman than a man..."


"No, Andreas, I promise you." And Elena takes his head in both her caring, woman's hands, balances on the tips of her pumps and quickly plants a heartfelt kiss on the friend's mouth. And then recoils quickly. There are footsteps sounding from the inside.


The door opens. A servant receives them. And before he has reported the couple, they are approached by a tall, slender gentleman. His dark blue dress suit accentuates his stiff elegance in an almost military manner. His hair is combed back and lies like a dark, blank
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mass above his high forehead, while his small, American style cut beard on his upper lip has a slight, blonde tone.


As Andreas later tried to recall this face, the eyes wiped everything else away in his mind... These greyish-blue, deep-set eyes that were both bright and dark radiated a strange, spellbinding kind of magic.


This was Werner Kreutz...


Andreas felt his heart beating. As the Professor ceremoniously led them into the salon, exchanging a few words with Elena, Andreas realized for the first time in his life that German was a beautiful, musical language....


This is a strange voice, this German voice, he thinks to himself, almost as if hidden by a veil – - and yet, this voice is strong, as if it was used to giving orders that were only to be met with unconditional obedience.


Yes, Andreas feels that nobody would dare to contradict this voice.

* * *


He listens to the conversation the two are having as if it were in a dream... Even as Elena throws him a quick, loving glance, while she relates his tale of woe to the Professor, talking fast and in a hushed voice.


This voice... Andreas can't think of anything else, can't feel anything else. It is as if he is enchanted, enchanted by this voice. It much resembles the Professor's eyes, it is both bright and dark at the same time. It penetrates the other, the eyes, the voice. Into the farthest reaches of one's soul...


And what will this voice have to tell him now... and those eyes, what will they proclaim with their gaze?....


A death sentence?.... Is he expecting anything else?... Is he expecting anything at all? Has he come here with any goal other than that? Don't ask... Just listen...


And suddenly the harsh reality touches him again. The Professor is standing in front of him, barely looking at him, speaks only a few, brief words to him. He follows the Professor into a room adjacent to the salon. Possibly the Professor's study, where the Professor commands him to undress. I am now like a sleepwalker, Andreas thinks, distant and foggy. He has to obey, without his own will... He wants to say something... Looking for German words...

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"Not to worry, sir, you don't need to give me any explanations." The Professor interrupts him considerately.


"It hurts here, correct? ... And there... And there, too, correct?" and slowly his hand glides across Andreas' body, and Andreas just nods, meekly and quietly... And an almost panicked astonishment overcomes him. How does this stranger know where his pains live?


And this astonishment then increased to sheer stupefaction as the doctor takes a number of photographs out of an envelope – photographs of Lili that Miss Elena had secretly handed him – and spreads them on the table between them in the order of the years that are noted down on their backs, although the doctor did not pay those notes any attention.


"So there we have the development…" the doctor said, plainly. Andreas does not even nod.


"And as I'm hearing, you have been treated with X-rays by a radiologist... Without him even having performed any prior chemical or microscopical analysis... Odd... And also very dangerous. So this guy acted pretty haphazardly. Impossible to say what he did with that. Since everything is so abnormal with you, your ovaries are probably so deep down, he could possibly have destroyed them... them along with the afflicted organs..."


"Ovaries..." Andreas uttered the word like a scream. "I... You say I have...?" He did not get any further. He can barely breathe from excitement. The world is spinning around him...


"But of course, naturally!" the doctor replies unmoved and objectively, though subdued by the timbre of his voice, which was now very discreet and soft. Again and again Andreas had to think of that slightly veiled sound... And not just Andreas... the doctor continues, "see, since you possess both male and female organs, none of the two sets has had enough room to fully develop. You are very lucky that you feel as a woman.... Because that is your only hope. And because of that, I will be able to help you."


Andreas follows an urge to touch his heart. He leans forward to be as close as he can to catch every single word the strange man is saying in
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the moment he says them. He meets the strange man's eyes head on, to see the words reflected in his gaze...


"And it is really about time that you are being helped," the strange man says now ... and he sits down on a chair in front of Andreas, beholding him knowingly... "Don't be too shocked by my words. But it is a miracle that you are still alive. I can see your condition all too clearly..."


Andreas is now quivering. "And... Professor... And what should I... What..."


The Professor has risen from his chair, paces up and down his workroom as if lost in thought, turns around to Andreas. And again Andreas is drinking up his words...


"Come and see me in Germany. I will give you a new life and a new youth."


Those words were spoken very factually.... so unboundedly simple.


Andreas has sat up. He is at a loss for words. He finds them eventually.


"So... It will be Lili who ... will be allowed ... to live?"


"Yes." Werner Kreutz replies. "I will perform the operation myself, and give you new, strong ovaries. That means a drastic rejuvenation for you, in a short amount of time. New vigor. This procedure will help you over any arrests in your development, that you were afflicted with right as puberty hit. But, before I can begin you will need to undergo a number of examinations in Berlin. When that is done, you should come see me in my women's clinic in Dresden."


This was the closure of this first, fateful conversation between the strange man and Andreas, who was still sitting there, breathless. Elena came in, the Professor leading her by the arm. She stood in front of Andreas, caressing him like a mother... She forced a smile, in order to not let her emotions show.


"That will be quite something for Lili to go to this famous clinic that is frequented by women the world over!" she exclaimed. "and then there will be a new woman's heart added to all the countless others that thank you from the bottom of their hearts for their life and their health, Professor."

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Werner Kreutz silently condoned the compliment with an awkward smile that gave him a youthful charm.


Pondering he keeps standing there by himself,... then suddenly looks at Andreas... then at Elena... "May I ask openly?" he says, his gaze wandering from one to the other.


"Please," says Andreas, "I have no secrets whatsoever from Madame Elena... Right Elena?..."


Instead of an answer, Andreas takes the hand of his friend and kisses it, again.


"Well," the Professor starts again, and the shy, boyish smile plays around his mouth again, "As I hear, you are... married..."


Andreas is now glowing with embarrassment...


"Your marriage... Maybe you can explain a few things to me, because you know, as a medical practitioner..."


Everyone in the room felt the amazement of the moment and also the self-explanatory nature of the question.


"Maybe I should go..." Elena asked her friend discreetly and sparingly.


Andreas grabbed Elena. "No Elena. Don't go. Don't..."


The Professor comes to help. His smile acts as a relief in the situation. "How is it for example with... Well, I heard the name Lili right now, and you articulated it back there too. I mean, how is it with Lili and men... Do men have an interest in Lili?..."


"Oh my, yes," Elena exclaims, laughing, "oh yes, my dear Professor, the attraction Lili has to the world of men is quite unbelievable.


Andreas wants to interrupt her. The Professor now smiles jovially. "Please, let the woman speak." And Andreas just accepts his fate. Elena gleams at him: "I have seen little Lili play her game with my own eyes, at several carnivals and balls in fact... Eventually she is being chased like game! Isn't it true?"


Andreas just stares at the wall. He cannot bring himself to smile.


The Professor is back to being purely factual. "What you are telling me, dear Madam, is quite in accordance with the picture I have of Lili.
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And I believe that later Lili's – if I may for convenience's sake say "her" – attractiveness may still increase... Besides, this procedure, which is quite necessary, because it is the first of its kind, will certainly result in some odd situations, certainly within the legal realm. But," and now he positioned himself closely in front of Andreas, taking his prospective patient's hand, "I promise you, I will not leave little Lili alone and I will assist her with the first steps into her new life."


Andreas looked down upon the hand of the stranger... he did not know what to do... he looked around the room, helplessly... let go of the stranger's hand and raised both arms towards Elena, as if pleading for help, who then rushed towards him, sinking willingly into his embrace.


And so both of them stood there... closely intertwined... Quietly Elena loosens herself... and then puts one arm and then the other upon her sobbing friend.


"Elena, my sweet friend..." he stammers the words, tears flowing down his face... "What comes next, this life... it will be something I have nothing to do with... Elena... You have the life... Elena..., you have saved it. Without you... I would have never come here..."


Werner Kreutz stood at the window, looking out.


Andreas raised his tear streaked face from Elena's embrace and searched for the stranger with his eyes. As he saw him standing there, encased by the light floating in through the window, he grew out of the darkness into the light. Andreas would never find himself able to forget the image as long as he was still Andreas. The face of the man now slowly turned towards him, with a clear cut, even profile that stood out in a narrow angle in the play of light and shade. The Professor removed himself from the window, facing Andreas fully... And Andreas approaches him. And Werner Kreutz raises his arms, and opens both hands. And Andreas grips those strong, reliable hands without a word. And Werner Kreutz embraces Andreas' hands, regards this human being whom he has only known for a few minutes, and says very quietly: "I understand you. You have suffered a lot."

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Meanwhile Grete and Hvappe wait for Andreas' return to the small atelier apartment.


Hvappe is the third member of the tiny household: she is a tiny girl dog, -@Translator: #SW with a white coat and pinkish snout and feet, resembling a delicate liver paté with truffles. And just like a real life Strassbourgian fois gras, Hvappe is covered with a lovely layer of fat. Which does not keep her from appearing remarkably slender, delicate even, in Grete's paintings. Hvappe resembled a lamb, or a fawn, if not even a certain elven fairytale creature portrayed on countless old, gothic tapestries and Gobelins...


Hvappe has also been the educator of the Sparre family for quite a while now, and she is quite successful at her job. Grete and Andreas had long since learned to give in to Hvappe's moods and mannerisms. Hvappe is the most important person up here. Hvappe does not accept dissent, like every domestic tyrant. Hvappe knows this. But Hvappe also sincerely takes part in all sorrows and joys of family life... Especially in the meals, although there, too Hvappe's peculiar taste is honored.


In return, Hvappe respects Andreas' love of music, especially for performances on the grammophone, and does not hold back uttering applause, especially when it comes to Wagner records. So in order to pass the hours of high tension during Andreas' absence, Grete has put on a Parcival record. This has resulted in Hvappe taking refuge with a veal chop bone and performing an Indian war dance, hoping to drown out distant sounds of thunder and other threatening or painful noises...


Although Hvappe is a native Parisian, which is a spot of bother for the city's high society, she exclusively plays with dolls from Holland. A friend of Grete and Andreas, and thus also a friend of Hvappe, is the donor of these toys, because she is a happy owner of a whole family of Pekinese, and through them has gained quite some insights into canine nature.

Page 19

But Hvappe is bent on ignoring all of her Dutch playthings today, in spite of Grete's heartfelt encouragements. Hvappe ignores all attempts to exchange the bone with a doll, the dolls are made of cotton and therefore noiseless.


Hvappe has slender, mother of pearl colored nails – since they are connected to Hvappe they hardly qualify as claws. She polishes them on the silken coverings of the old rococo furniture. This beauty regimen did not pass the beauty of the old armchairs by without a trace. Which is why they look somewhat distressed, which caused especially Elena to utter the odd, small reproach, since she pays attention also to the orderliness of and respect for so-called dead things, which in her view are indeed alive and possess a real soul. Hvappe lounges on a divan. And in spite of Hvappe's tininess, she has managed to have the divan resemble a respectable stork's nest in the middle of its seating area. Only when Grete or Andreas are unwell and require some resting time on the divan, Hvappe is willing to give up her nesting place and accept a smaller place over the heads or at the feet of her housemates. However, if one of the two is actually, truly sick and requires bed rest, Hvappe will retain her stork's nest on the divan, and nobody will be able to shoo her away from it, since in such cases, Hvappe is a lot sicker and a lot more requiring rest then the actual patient...


The Parcival record had long since been replaced by a sound-film record. Grete is so tense she can barely contain herself. Hours have passed since Andreas left. Hvappe has occupied her usual place, and purrs like a kitten. Suddenly she jumps up, sits down, perks up the left ear first, then the right, then both at the same time... growls... and shoots towards the entrance like an arrow, howling and yapping at the same time...


As Andreas steps through the door, it almost appears as if the tiny dog is trying to murder the long awaited man.


Andreas is pale as if he was on death's door. Grete came rushing towards him. She has to hold her lover's hand, guides him towards the divan, where he
[Page 20]
drops down, as if he was shattered.


Grete sits by his side for a long while, not saying a word. Hvappe also doesn't stir, only gazing at the exhausted man with sorrowful eyes. "No need to talk, dear," she says to him mildly, caressing him soothingly... suspecting everything...


When Andreas starts to speak, she listens with her eyes closed. Andreas, too, talks with his eyes closed. What is a dream now? What is real? This question moves Grete's woman's heart.


She listens to every word of him describing the strange encounter with the German Professor, he tries describing...


Is that what begins now, salvation, the salvation for the friend, the partner? Grete's heart asks the question and buries it within. Where does the way lead him now? Her? Both of them? ...


A thousand questions and worries again descend on Grete...


And Andreas keeps telling his story, completely shaken by the preceding experience, keeps sputtering word fragments... heart fragments, as Grete feels...


And Grete with her attentive wit, always focused on what's important, while she now quietly opens her eyes -@Translator: #SW again, beholding the friend, lying there as if out of breath, she feels it: a change in fate is approaching... A farewell to a creature ... and a dying ... and then, who knows what comes then.... A resurrection as a different being ... a rebirth ...?


Then Andreas twitches, suddenly sits up, takes Grete's hand in a tight grip, caresses it, while his grasp gets ever softer: "Grete, little, sweet Grete, don't be sad any more."


And she isn't sad. Her eyes are on him.


"Speak, dearest. Just speak," she says.


And Andreas now stands in front of her, holding her hand.


He guides her to an easel standing in front of a window in her atelier, lit up by the calm and shadowless northern sky. A large painting leans on the easel. On it, three female figures are shown, united in sisterhood. -@Translator: #SW In front of them lies a shimmering bright, delicate creature, a whippet...


One of the women bears Grete's features ... another Elena's ... and between them as if protected by two sisters, a third... And she bears Andreas' features... But no, not Andreas'...

Page 21

They both stop there... deeply shaken... Andreas fumbles for words... Grete caresses him and caresses him some more...


"Grete, Grete," he begins, out of a deep disturbance of the heart. His hand points towards the woman's face in the middle of the painting. "Thank you, Grete. Because you always ... until the end, believed in Lili ... You know, I have never, never been able to doubt it... I knew it, knew the day would come... My dearest... I have spent my own, poor life, listening to breeze and tree and cloud... As I was wandering around outside, painting... as well as I could... and finally... Oh why talk about it... That I finally no longer wanted to paint... Couldn't do it anymore... But I was always truthful and attentive outside... I sensed it grew out there, out of its seed... Every blade of grass and every bush told me of their souls... Every house, every street, wherever I went with my sketchbook, my canvas, everything bared its heart... How should I be mistaken when I listened and listened to my innermost self, and felt that there was something... something new ... Oh, how to say it, that something new was getting ready?...."


Grete smiled ... a distant smile... It was not for the painting they stood in front of, which like many of her paintings with Lili's distant yet close features might seem like an incantation. It was the face from last night's dream ... that white shape...


"I am so happy," she said.


"I am so happy," he said.


Then they both fell silent.



Andreas collapsed on the evening of that ominous, fateful day.


He cried for hours, his face buried in the cushions of the divan. Grete tried fruitlessly to calm his nerves, to reason with him.


His resistance was spent.


The final words the stranger said to him kept ringing in his ears. He kept hearing that odd, somewhat veiled voice: "You have suffered a lot..."


Because only now did he dare to admit to himself the pain and anguish he had gone through in the past few years.
[Page 22]
Now he could be open with himself...


In the following days he tries pulling himself together.


Grete is with him all the time. She calmingly talks to him. "You have to be happy now. You are allowed to be happy now. Everything will be good again."


And he begins to regain courage again. "The stranger promised me a new youth... No, not to me... Lili will be allowed to live, he said... Lili... That is the new youth that awaits me..."


He keeps saying these words to himself. They turn into his guide through these days, these hard days and weeks...


A new youth...Werner Kreutz promised it to him...


Days of anxious expectation follow...


Days of deepest depression, a terrible despair, - relieved by days of the merriest upswings... Werner Kreutz had promised to give him news... a signal to depart... A signal for his "nova vita"...


Everything should be prepared for Andreas' reception on foreign shores... And as soon as everything was prepared, Andreas should receive news... Days of the worst torture of the soul...


Days without end...


And yet also days of expectation and happiness...


And the days crept by... And sleepless nights lay between those days like blighted coasts.


In one of those nights, Andreas has this dream: He is on a train to Berlin. The trip crosses northern France. Faster and faster the train rushes, until the swerving of the train ceases altogether, and he feels as if the racing train moves across unbounded distances... No sound reaches his ear. Andreas sits at the window, gazing upon forests and fields... Suddenly he spots a supernaturally tall, sinister rider, clouded in fog, that tries to outrace the train. He rode so fast that his cloak stands in the wind like a sail. – It is night. The train swooshes ahead like a gale, no stops anywhere. Only that, wherever there are stations, a devilish noise rises, and in the flickering lights of the platform Andreas recognizes the terrible, black rider... The dark transforms into a
[Page 23]
sheer blackness, as if it had never been touched by the sun... and the landscape, too, lay there in darkness as if it had never known what the sun was... Suddenly all passengers tumble from the compartments, race through the hallways of the train cars towards the locomotive, to help out the stokers shoveling coals, coals, and more coals into the glowing light of the machine... The rider, the grim reaper, is close behind them ... and every instance he snaps one of the stokers away, with a horrific grin, and then squishes the next one between his nails... The train loses car after car in the race. Finally, only the coal tender remains behind the locomotive... Now they have reached the end of the world, and the train falls into depths without end... But Andreas has jumped off... before the fall... he is standing on a narrow pathway that winds itself out of the ground like the edge of a knife... Suddenly Lili stands next to Andreas... He clasps her hand... The world lies there bathed in light... and the two of them rush on ... in wild flight.... Death has found them... and the black rider has left his horse... He didn't race fast enough... and now keeps racing past them, without his mount ... wilder and wilder in his rage... But Lili is tiring... and the Reaper closes in on the two... Andreas calls out: "Hurry, little sister, hurry ... I will now fight death and keep him at bay!" ... And Lili, the little sister, Lili hurried and hurried along ... as if carried by storm winds... And she hears Andreas struggling, wrestling with Death. But it doesn't last long. Death has raised him up and sucked all life from him and cast him into unending depths, -where his body is tumbling down like a wilted leaf... Lili reaches the furthest end of the narrow pathway... There she raises both arms upwards and falls into the arms of a tall shape, clad in white... while Death rushed to grab her... But now the dream experience transforms from all the terrors-as if into a apotheosis: the white figure grew large and powerful with giant wings. And the shape fights Death, and the white wings fill the lands with their wooshing... They were on an island full of silver birch trees.


Lili has sunken to her knees, quivering. A small, light reddish, gothic angel keeps her upright... within her the swoosh of the mighty wings still roar, as Death collapsed in front of the guardian spirit and disappeared into the depths.

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Andreas could never forget this dream. And not just Andreas. But he didn't tell anyone of the dream.


One night though he said to Grete: "I have to think of my old school principal. He told us the story of the negroes on Saint Croix , who rioted a day before their liberation from slavery. I understand that now. I can't wait any longer either."


The next day he went to Elena. She received him in her dressing room.


"Tell me," he began, "I did meet Werner Kreutz, that is the truth is it not? And he promised to help me. I did not just dream that?"


Elena, who was about to make a visit and had to change clothes, did this in Andreas' full view. He was surprised by her lack of shame at first.


She laughed at him impishly.


"I see you making surprised eyes, my dear Andreas."


He blushed, a little helplessly.


Elena kept laughing. "Well, my behavior is just supposed to demonstrate to you that I already today regard you as a girlfriend, and that the conversation with our German doctor has not been a dream."


A few days later, on a Monday morning, a telegram arrived at Elena's, sent from a girlfriend in Berlin : Andreas should arrive in Berlin the following Saturday the very latest, and check into a designated hotel there... The Professor supposedly lived in that hotel whenever he visited Berlin... At the hotel, Andreas was to find a letter...

- - -


Two days later already Andreas was on his way... Grete and Elena accompanied him to the train.


He had barely spoken since the arrival of the telegram. He felt like a somnambulist... like a dream walker. Every joy, every pain he hid within. Even at the station he did not let anyone see his boundless excitement. A few moody remarks ... that was all that he
[Page 25]
let come over his lips. Being alone ... being alone ... being away from here. A flight into a new fate... An escape from past and present. And: no thinking until he was at his destination. The destination... What destination? ... he did not dare think...


All this swirled in his brain... Nobody should notice. Nobody. And as the train slowly got moving, he waved a smiling farewell to both his beloved girlfriends... His face was rigid like a mask...

Page 26



The train slowly gains speed. It takes a while for the machine to reach its cruising speed.


Andreas has a window seat. He sits there, staring ahead, dully. His gaze seems empty. He does not perceive anything. He does not see anything of the confusing sea of buildings of the sprawling city, the broad maze of train tracks to the right and the left disappearing slowly behind him, sees nothing of the suburbs and mansion quarters of Paris that supersede each other in succession, which glide past in accelerating pace. And finally only individual groupings of houses in the middle of gardens, bits and pieces of small towns, and finally only fields under the open sky and the ebb and flow of the telegraph strings, like a billowing sea full of the masts of sunken ships. And bright, colorful, meaningless billboards scream down the train tracks like the calls of people lost ... "Cinzano"... "L'hiver en Egypte" Without him realizing he imitates their call... This brings a smile to his face...


Out of habit he has lit a Caporal-cigarette. He smokes one after the other... He hardly registers that he is smoking... He taps off the ash mechanically on occasion. He stares mechanically into the blue-grey smoke of the cigarette...


He falls prey to a complete lethargy of the mind, the kind that follows all too hasty travel preparations in the moment of sudden loneliness when, after finding oneself alone as the train pulls away, one is doomed to inactivity, for an eternity.


A terrible thought pushes into Andreas's mind as he suddenly realizes he is abandoned to himself ...How to escape?... Fear fills him... Yet a few moments later, this fear is superseded by a sudden bout of longing... Something stirs in him. His stiffness eases... His inner rigidity had almost transformed during these last days in Paris -- now, during the first half hour of being alone in the compartment has been revealed to him - transformed. Ever since that hour that he knew that salvation and hope existed for him... ever since Elena had handed him the telegram from Berlin... And now he remembers: he had sent a letter to the stranger in Berlin the very same day... And since he
[Page 27]
put the letter, this odd, hot letter, in the mailbox, he had been overcome by this stiffness... Like an iron curtain that had set on his torn soul...


Suddenly the two beloved faces appear in front of him ... Grete. Elena .. one face next to the other... his companion for many, many years, and through many, many triumphs and defeats... girlfriends both... and slowly both of their faces join into one... he can no longer tell one from the other ... he has but one name left for them: home... home... and now he remembers: Paris... yes, both of them mean Paris to him... and now he has left them all... Grete... Elena... Paris...


The big metropolis has long since vanished from view... He looks out the window, as if looking for them... Paris... Elena... Grete...


He had not even leaned out the window earlier, when it was time to say farewells... The Eiffel Tower... the white reflection in the air of the sky high dome: Sacre Coeur... Elena... Grete... All had sunken ... lay there as if wiped away under the hazy horizon of the flickering distance... Forever....


Forever? Fear touched him.... Yes, forever! Because he, Andreas Sparre, will never return to Paris. He knows that...


Maybe a different creature... He can't finish the thought. A scream wants to escape him. What people call heart, he feels that now... because a wild pain is quivering in him... And now he has to pull himself together again....


Paris... Just think of Paris... With its blue-grey, eternally smiling sky... with its witty, somewhat ironic and yet compassionate expression, that the city on the Seine presents to everyone, which appears like a pardon for stranger and local alike, as forgiving as a good, faithful, understanding sister...


Grete... Elena... Paris... This triad accompanies him, the fugitive... fugitive... fugitive... in the rhythm of the journey he suddenly hears it: fugitive ... fugitive ...


No... he is not a fugitive... he is ... But what is he?...


A bell sounds in the hallway and someone exclaims: "Le dejeuner premier
[Page 28]
service." Everyone leaves the compartment...


Now, that everyone has gone, he realizes for the first time that there were three other people in his compartment, a woman and two gentlemen...


Suddenly he is afraid of being alone. He follows the others. Takes a seat in the restaurant car. He barely touches the meal he ordered, wanders back and stops in front of the window of the hallway. He has to hold on to something. Sneakily the old pain is creeping back in. He feels every bump of the wagon axles against the rail joints...


The train races through northern France. Now it has become a true express... He checks his watch. Not even three o'clock... How slow time is passing... uninfluenced by the racing pace of the train...


He leans into the corner of his window seat... Between ruins new towns grow from the landscape... Here and there are strange, giant squares with fantastical plantings... No... those are not seed fields... those are fields of crosses... soldiers' graveyards... plantations of death... cross next to cross... into eternity...


This reminds him of the recent night's strange dream: the sinister rider, Death, chasing his train...


His pain grows... he doesn't want to pay them any attention...


The face from the dream refuses to leave him...


"If only I get to my destination first." He thinks. "How much more terrible is reality compared to a dream. I could escape the rider of Death... but from my pain ... from myself... can I escape myself?..."


He has to think of Grete... Why did he not allow her to come along? She had asked him for it. She never left him alone. Never. And now he forced her to stay behind in Paris... And to wait... No, don't let it get you down, it screams within him. He pulls himself together again, quickly, lights another cigarette and turns off his thoughts...


The train has reached the customs border between Belgium and France. He looks out the window apathetically. The compartment is now
[Page 29]
filled to the last seat.


The drive through Belgium happens at a snail's pace... Occasionally he paces through the restaurant car, tosses down a cocktail just to kill time ... It is not even six in the evening. ... The train stops at every tiny village. Slowly people enter and exit, as if they had an abundance of time...


Finally they reach the German border. And a new locomotive adds new energy to the trip... Night slowly trickles down. The train swoops into darkness...


He has sat in the restaurant car for a long while, drank and ate, to numb himself... But also the pain caused by the shaking and rocking of the train... He has to return to his compartment. He can barely keep himself up straight in the corridor. Finally he is back, lying in his corner. He grits his teeth. He closes his eyes.


Now he has burned all bridges behind him... everything is behind him... in unreachable depths... the past... How strange it sounds: the past... His whole life seems to him like something past... something lost... something astray. He takes apart the meaning of the words: past... astray...


And now he lets himself be dragged into this strange land... Lets himself be chased into... Germany... He got to know it only in passing, when passing through. And now this is supposed to become the land of his change in fate... His rebirth... Or...


He does not want to think about it. But it doesn't give him peace... Would it not have been better to refrain from this fantastical experiment?.... Because it is still an experiment that they want to do with him... Would it now have been more reasonable to live this life as it was given to him to the end, to see it through, to let it all ebb out of him?...


He thinks of the letter he recently wrote to Werner Kreutz: "I pledge myself to you, come life or death, as long as Lili gets to live on..." Yes, he had written this a few days ago... And he had to keep his word... And everything of male pride that he still possesses is stirring, touches him. "I have to get to my destination. I have to persevere." He says to himself, under his breath, so that a few of his fellow travelers look at him, questioningly...

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He has to smile... as to smile at himself... He often did that when fate and sorrow tried smothering him. He is a Dane for a reason.. Copenhagener... Nothing is seen as tragic there... everything receives a smile...


So, Andreas says to himself, let's write our own obituary... It could be ... No, let's not get tragic.


And then he formulates his obituary as an artist as follows:


"The painter Andreas Sparre is dead. He died on the train between Paris and Berlin. His fellow travelers believed him to have fallen asleep in his place in the corner by the window of his compartment – until the train car rocked strongly, possibly from passing over a long switch, and his body fell over. Only then could the cause of his death be determined. The cause of death was probably a heart attack.


The happy and harmonious life of an artist found its too early and sudden end. He was still a young person, a man in his best years, with what seemed like a promising future. He seemed to have found his own style recently, after searching and experimenting for a long time. And his latest paintings were found to bear the mark of artistic security and human knowledge. His pictures, most of them created in France and Italy, were sometimes bright and radiating with color, sometimes dark and somewhat gloomy, - but always full of mood and a sense of nature. He preferred two inspirations before all: Paris and its banks of the Seine , bridges and towers, which he could reproduce in their pearly grey, quietly veiled atmosphere, and also landscapes under oppressive skies filled with storms, that served him as a canvas to let buildings and trees light up hectically. – Especially paintings of this kind were a huge success in the large Parisian salons. It was pictures of this latter kind, those powerful, very manly thunderstorm pieces, in which Andreas Sp. found release of his talent.


We who knew his delicate, often times effeminate appearance, his smiling, almost funny conversational tone, whenever we visited him in his atelier in Paris, we saw this with wonderment and often had the thought, that everything manly in him, found expression in those strong, somewhat wild and idiosyncratic pictures. In those he manifested an almost pointed virility.


He painted very fast. And so it came to pass that he found the time to concern himself with many other things besides painting. He was interested in everything between heaven and earth. His knowledge was quite comprehensive. He was at home in all areas of the arts. One answer we heard from his own mouth was quite distinctive, in Trianon, directed at an older colleague of his. This man had stated his irritation about his younger colleague's beginning of paintings in a too systematic way. "You have to forgive me that I don't share your opinion," Andreas Sp. replied. "But, I don't believe it is possible to paint the petal of a rose correctly, if one does not know the influences of bas-relief of the Assyrians and the sculptures of the Greeks..." Another time he said the following: "I don't get it, how most of my contemporaries treat their art. How quick and easy they are content with their efforts. For me, I fully expect it to take a thousand years before I have become a somewhat acceptable painter." That is how serious his art was for Andreas Sp.


He spent most of his life away from his home in Denmark, - out in Europe, in Italy, Holland, Germany, - France. Most of the time he lived in Paris. "I am neither a Dane, nor
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a Frenchman. No, certainly not French," he was often heard saying. "But I am Parisian. And if that is not a nationality, then I might just not have one."


The reason he had already turned his back to Copenhagen in his younger years, albeit his art was highly valued there from the beginning, was that Copenhagen and Denmark did not seem to him like the right soil for his wife's art, the way Grete Sp. painted. In Copenhagen he had to hear a lot about how people preferred his own paintings to those of his wife. And that was probably the worst thing one could have said about his work. He felt more at home in Paris for the reason alone that the opposite was the case there. His wife's successes felt like his own. Because the main trait of his personality was a sense of chivalry towards his wife, and also towards all women. He lacked ambitions for his own person. Also in regard to his artistic talent. He applied the strictest of standards to himself.


His was, by the way, a very complicated, problematic nature. In spite of the various influences one is exposed to in Paris, he remained a true Nordic talent in painting, his art was not concerned with the Romanesque, but completely with all things Germanic. His personality was European. He socialized constantly with French philosophers and writers, with Polish violinists, with Asian architects and German painters.


He wrote a book on Nordic legends with a French friend, which has seen many reprints in France, in Paris. This made him a fairly widely read author, at least for Danish circumstances. He was not just a little proud of that. And he was pleased having opened the eyes of Romanesque readers to the Germanic world of ideas, which was an undertaking that deserves praise as creating an intellectual bridge, especially for the time after the first World War--the book appeared in 1924. Thanks to his outstandingly sharp mind he had become one of the foremost interpreters of Europe's most noble muses. In this, too, he proved himself a mediator and negotiator.


Without being a practicing musician himself, he cultivated a deep love for music. In this field, too, he possessed a deep understanding and a not insignificant knowledge.


All these encompassing studies and interests had occupied his free time, and now, in the midst of his best years, he was well equipped to realize his best work, which was a dream of his.


His health had not been too good in the past few years. He had complained of pain a lot, but always in a restrained, smiling way, so that even the doctors he eventually had to consult could not have seen or would have easily mistaken the quality of his physical well-being.


Now death has – suddenly, and to the deepest anguish of his many friends, near and far – snuffed out this bright and sympathetic artist's life, an artist's life that was dedicated to serious work and the most sacred struggle for art itself, and that must seem like an unfinished novel to those of us who knew him."


"Full stop," said Andreas to himself, smiling, "Full stop." And he thought that the way he had phrased it, someone else would have secretly written this down in a diary, someone else, Grete, his young wife, his most faithful companion... Not so long ago, they all, her too, thought that he, Andreas, would take off in secret, incapable of keeping on living. One night he had found her sleeping over her diary... One night, which
[Page 32]
followed a day of the worst collapses of his body and mind. Grete never learned of him reading her "diary entry." And when she found him dissolved in tears, he did not want to tell her why he was crying...


"Yes," he now said to himself, "this is what you will be reading about me in a certain paper in Copenhagen, if I am in their good graces. But if a so-called ‘good colleague' at a less well-intentioned paper gets this, ‘the flute would get a different sound'..."


And he remembered an encounter with one of those "good graces" on the "Strög" in Copenhagen, when he was holding an exhibition there. "To tell you my true opinion," the venerable one began, but Andreas interrupted and said with a smile: "Let's not. As you know, I am quite the boxer." And the man suddenly shrank like a freshly pierced pig's bladder, and had disappeared without a sound. A quiet laugh shakes him thinking of this memory... But the laugh died... Uncanny pains began raging inside him again. The rocking of the train car, the bump of the wheels caused him a nameless pain.


Aachen had long passed them. Would they never reach Cologne, he whimpered.


Andreas did not order a sleeping compartment. He always detested this kind of modern travel comfort... Getting cooped up with strange people did not agree with him. An insurmountable shame kept him from disrobing in the presence of other men. Only when traveling with Grete could he muster using a sleeping car. Many had laughed at him for this. Only Grete understood his aversion...


There is Cologne, finally. All fellow travelers leave the compartment. They have places to sleep, Andreas thinks happily. He is alone. Being alone seems like redemption. Hopefully, he will be able to spend the whole night like this, until they reach Berlin...


He gets up, stretches, paces around... He has become quite tired. Sleep. Sleep...


After a short while, the train starts moving again. He has lit a new cigarette. Will his pains leave him in
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peace until he has reached his destination: Berlin...? He folds his hands like a child... To just sleep through this night... Just to not have to think through this night... Just sleep... Just sleep...


He lies down on the bench. Falls into a slumber.


Then he jolts up again. Terrible pain pushes him back down into the upholstery. He is dizzy. A low, cotton like, slightly red fog surrounds him. And then there is only a void, a lightless void around him, and a deep abyss takes him in. His consciousness fades...


After an eternity he finds himself on the compartment's floor. He looks around in confusion. He doesn't know. How long has he been lying there?


He checks his watch. Twelve o'clock... Oh, my God, it is just midnight. Another seven tortuous hours to Berlin...


He tries to rise. He succeeds, finally. He lays back down on the bench, carefully. Thank God he is alone in the compartment. Maybe he will still find sleep. The pain has subsided.


"Grete," he speaks to himself, "Grete, to hold your hand now, your cool hand that has helped me so many times. You know, my hand too could help you many times, when you tormented yourself for my sake..."


And he takes off his jacket, puts it under his head so he can lie somewhat higher, covers himself with his coat. He was so hot earlier... Now he is chilled. Is he running a fever? Maybe even a high fever? His pulse is racing. The light of the ceiling lamp is insufferable. He closes his eyes. The light seeps through his eyelids.


He tries getting back up. Wants to close the drapes on the windows to the corridor. Turn of the light. He succeeds, eventually.


And lies back down.


The pain stirs back up again. The train races through a station. With a piercing noise. The low lamps on the station shimmer like milky, ghostly shadows. He pulls the coat over his face. That dream from recently... The dark, sinister rider... Is he on his trail?.. He has to have a fever. Is it the delirium that has grasped him?
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Wasn't there something in front of the window, outside? A shape? A rider?... The sinister rider? A cloak like a sail flew behind him through the dark of night... A pale head with empty, deep eye sockets...


He realizes himself how all color rushes from his face.


He has to seem as pale as death himself now. He hears the chattering of his teeth.


He presses his eyelids down in despair. He wants to see nothing, wants not to know who is outside his window, racing him...


The compartment is icy cold. A chill shakes him. Cold sweat trickles from his forehead. His hair is glued to his temples. Was it the rustling of the sinister cloak that he hears now? Yes, he can hear it now, clearly, very clearly, the rushing, louder and louder... Is this where the icy cold that's pouring through the window is coming from?


The train slows, the ride ebbs.


"Hannover? ... Hannover!" someone calls. And again... very distant "Hannover."


Hammer blows against wheels. They are closing in. Now they reached his train car. He can hear the blows underneath his window,- as if they were trying to break his skull. Between the blows he can hear voices speaking German. No matter how hard the noise, it still sounds as if the blows were dampened by cotton somehow...


Doors are opened... and thrown shut again.


Then there's a sharp whistle... The train shivers as if it's flexing its muscles. Slowly the train starts moving again. Maybe it is tired, like he is, would rather rest instead engaging in yet another race... Onward to Berlin, thinks Andreas, exhausted. He dully lies on his bench... Then jumps up... The door of his compartment is ripped open. The drapes are pushed aside.


A lady stands in the doorway. Her outline sharply contoured against the light in the corridor.


The dark of his compartment seems to make her a bit shy at first. But just at first. Then she throws a small suitcase up into the net on the wall and sinks slackly onto the
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corner seat next to the door.


Andreas turns the light back on. He doesn't know that he is doing this. Just after the small room is brightly lit does he realize the completely mechanical motions he just went through.


He suppresses his discontent about being ripped from his loneliness. The train won't stop again before reaching Berlin, he thinks, suddenly. A terrible thought. So there is no more hope of being alone. Maybe he should move into the adjacent compartment? Maybe it is empty... But he dismisses the thought at once. He cannot appear discourteous... He has to pull himself together. ...He feels his pains. He must not feel them. He does not want anyone to notice. Because there is still that much man in him that does not want to accept a strange creature's pity over his woes...


Now he sits up right. Assumes a stiff posture.


She is young and elegant.


He observes her, without her noticing.


He notices the expression of her eyes. She seems to not see him at all, seems not to know that she is sharing the small room with him.


Maybe she didn't even notice him turning on the light... Maybe he could have left the compartment dark... How comfortable would he have been to pass the night in darkness... Now it is too late. He could ask her... but maybe she would misunderstand...


He stares ahead... Looks at his fingers... But soon his eyes are back on her... That odd look, he thinks, as if this strange young woman looked straight through the wall of the compartment... Her eyes have such a distant stare... as if they beheld something unreal...


Andreas was overcome by an almost eerie feeling... Maybe she was just a trick his senses played? Did he have a fever high enough to have lost command over his imagination?


The heat became unbearable. His throat was parched. He did not understand how it could have gotten this hot in the compartment all of a sudden? Just a moment ago he had been so cold that his teeth were chattering... When would this nightmarish pressure end? Would he ever reach
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Berlin? Wasn't everything just a bad dream? When would time stop standing still? Why did time not race the train to the destination? Just like that sinister rider...


Again the train rushed through a station with a devilish clamor. And again flickering, pale lights shone in through the window... He sprung from his seat to pull the curtains closer together still. Just don't look out the window ...


Someone was crying.


He looked around... He looked upon the young human child over there in the corner. Her face was glazed over with tears. Her crying is not disfiguring the face, he thought quietly. But the stranger was pale. And the tears are just gushing from her eyes. She must have noticed him looking at her... But she does not make the meekest attempt at hiding her crying or drying her tears.


Or had she really not seen that he was sitting there?


How odd women are, he thinks. Is there really such a big difference between women and men?... Do they have no pride at all? Are they really that weak?


Lili... The question very quietly wells up inside him, Lili, will she become like this? ... Yes, actually she has always been like this... Just like that strange human child over there, that was now sobbing, as if abandoned by all the world.


She has to be pretty young. Her ashen hair surrounds a narrow, unblemished girl's forehead. Her eyes are covered with tears, but certainly bright blue and can have somewhat a worry free look.. She has taken off her gloves... On the left she wears a plain band. So a bride...


Her travel gown betrays good taste. Her finely painted mouth twitches with excitement...


He suddenly feels a deep sense of compassion for this young, unhappy woman.


"Mademoiselle," he starts, carefully.


She seems to not hear him. He probably spoke too softly. The noise of the train covered his words.


Then he remembers that he is in Germany.


"Gnädiges Fräulein," he repeats, almost ashamed.


She raises her tear stained eyes and meets his gaze
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and finds in his smile a reserved compassion. Her veiled stare loses all stiffness. Her eyelashes have a sweet, silvery sheen, which as he notices, comes from the tears... What a marvelous bride, he thinks.


"I would very much like to help you," he says. "You must have gone through something terrible, mein Fräulein..."


He doesn't get any further. She has pressed both hands in front of her face and cries and cries more heart-rending than before and then she hands him, sobbing, a piece of newspaper that she had clasped, folded up, the whole time. Andreas only notices that now. He takes the paper, does not know what do with it, has risen to his feet, sits down next to the crying woman, caresses her hand. She now calms down, puts her other hand on his and begins talking.


Her fiancé, a well known musician, traveled to Berlin the day before yesterday, to give a concert. Tonight he should have returned. On her way to the station she, by chance, bought a newspaper, the paper he is holding now, and in that she then reads...


She points to the front page to one spot, cries again...


Andreas reads: "The young pianist... from Hannover, who gave a successful concert last night in the ... ballroom, crashed his automobile into a streetcar on the way back to his hotel... He is now interned at the hospital, having sustained heavy injuries ...His condition is cause of great concern..."


Andreas read the report, shaken... He initially had offered his help to the unhappy bride... But what can he help her with?


He now feels like an idle chatterer.


And yet: However little he could help himself, for others he has often been able to alleviate pain through some mystical power residing within him... How often have Grete and Elena not confessed this to him? Would he have enough of this power still in this terrible night to give some sense of calm to this pained woman's heart?


Her feverishly burning hands again lay in his. He kept
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her in his embrace for a long time. First they twitched like a captive little bird. But the twitches grew quieter and quieter, until they ceased altogether. He should have been able to find a few words of pathetic solace. He still knew that much German back from school. But he didn't say a word. He simply caressed the girl's soft hands... She too is quiet now. He could hear her low breathing. Just now and then a sob came out of her. And her breath becomes more even... Then Andreas suddenly feels a slight pressure against his left shoulder. Her head has settled against him. She is asleep. Now he feels the beating of her heart against his own hand, which he had to wrap around her to give her support...


And he smiled happily... So there still was some of that hidden, mysterious, puzzling ability to help others... Even today ... Even today ...


He had tried moving a few times. But each time she twitched like a sick child whimpering in her slumber. So he remained sitting there, stiffly... However hard that was for him...


And he closes his eyes. Maybe he will now be able to sleep a little. The train basically flew over the tracks. It was like a gliding rocking.


And soon the racing movement had rocked him asleep.


But soon after he awakes again. And he has to smile: how odd and full of surprises and connections is the life of people... And yet they write novels, those people...


Here he sat in a random train compartment, he, Andreas Sp. from Copenhagen, blown to Paris by fate, and chased northward by a truly fantastical fate. A man unendingly burdened, who needs help and assistance like nobody else, and chance has chosen him, to give solace to this until recently complete stranger, a stranger burdened like him. Solace to help her over the possibly hardest hour of her life... And now this small, young German woman, this bride of a complete stranger, lay in his arms... And she and he, both of them, moved, guided by some blind foresight, towards their own fate... Somewhere in Germany...


This he thought again and again... and did not
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get over it... He did not care for his pain, that was raging and digging within him... until he had nodded off again.


A sob wakes him up... She looks at him with almost crazy eyes. The pale moonlight trickles through the curtains.


"Oh, I am so sorry for waking you," he stammers, because without wanting to he shifted his position, let the arm he had enfolded her with go. She is crying again, like a whimpering child that a great injustice was done to, that is suffering, and that does not know why, he thinks, quietly, and then talks to her comfortingly, puts her head against his shoulder again, hugs her again, so he feels her heartbeat against his own arm pulsing, and soon she has fallen asleep again, closely snuggled against him. Odd, odd, he says to himself silently, how is all of this possible? And for what goal have things come together like this tonight?


And then a few secret, very hot tears drip from his eyes. He catches them with his lips. They are salty. They are very painful. And he knows, why everything came together like this: this sweet creature from Hannover that was now slumbering in his arms like a trusting child was sent to him as the last woman, that should mean a farewell from others in the deepest sense for him... This unfamiliar German girl, it was no longer unfamiliar to him now. Because she was sent to him so that as a man he could depart from the woman, from the eternal feminine... as a final meeting of the man with the woman...


This was the way thoughts wafted like fog through him... Confused and tired and foreseeing... And outside, the train wooshed through the early morning mists into the sea of buildings that was Berlin...


He had to wake his travel companion.


With a frightful exclamation she jolts from her slumber, looks at him, completely puzzled... "What will come now. What will come now?.. Oh he is dead. He is dead... He cannot be dead." Her words drown in tears.


"Child," Andreas addresses her softly and with conviction and so securely. "Child, I don't even know your name, and you don't know mine, and that doesn't matter. But do believe me when I tell you that he is alive!"


She has taken both of his hands and covers them in kisses.


"No, no don't," he meekly objects. "You can be reassured now."


"Oh, but I am fully calm, and that I thank you for. How you helped me. I will never forget that."


A few minutes later they dove into a sea of people in Berlin. Andreas looks after her for a long time. The piece of newspaper she gave him during the night is the only thing that he has of her. "I have helped you out... Yet I was not a lot farther away from death myself than your lover was... And I know now that both of us will live, he and me as well..."


A few days later Andreas read in the paper by chance that the groom of his unknown train companion was on the way to recovery.

Page 41



Andreas covers the short distance between the train station and the hotel on foot, accompanied by a luggage carrier.


"What a devilish cold here in Berlin. On March first no less," he confesses with surprise to the man carrying his two small suitcases. "It's spring already in Paris..."


"Yes, in Paris," the other man replied, staidly. "In Paris." And that with that the conversation was over.


Andreas had put up his coat's collar. His teeth were literally chattering. He was overly tired after a sleepless night in the midst of a foreign world... But the unexpectedly chilly temperature woke him up again. And he has to smile as he hears the luggage carrier repeat his conclusion: "Yes, in Paris." – And in addition to that, the small suitcases in the giant hands of the man.


Suddenly, before even reaching the hotel, a thought strikes him: "These two suitcases contain my very last clothes, suits, collars.... What a great thought..."


Like defiance awakening within him, as if the man in him was about to defend himself, the man in him. And this uproar comes up time and again during the days here in the "manliest metropolis in the world," which was what Andreas called Berlin earlier.


At the hotel, where he had been expected, he is treated with the utmost courtesy. He immediately asks if Professor Kreutz has possibly already arrived, since he used to frequent this hotel every weekend. This was not the case. He was disappointed. There also was no letter waiting for Andreas at the concierge.


A few minutes later he is in his room. He takes a hot bath. He blissfully stretches his limbs. He felt as if only now, taking a bath, he could be free of the eerie nightmare that had almost smothered him during the eternally long train ride...


And after breakfast, all that gloom is forgotten.


Elena's woman friend, the person who sent that fateful telegram which had caused his coming to Berlin, is the first human being who called him here.


"Welcome to Berlin," it sounded out of the telephone. Andreas immediately recognized the voice of Baroness Schildt, whom he had met before in
[Page 42]
Paris with Grete and a couple of friends. "We prepared everything well for you here. And so we're not wasting any time, a few specialists who Werner Kreutz has informed of your situation, will be in touch with you today or tomorrow..."


A few minutes later a medical practitioner unknown to him so far, Professor A., invited him for the next day around noon.


And just as this visit was arranged, the phone rang again. Nils Hvide -@Editor: #PLC, an old friend from Copenhagen, a lawyer as well as a poet, and resident of Berlin for a few years, called him.


"Hello, Andreas..."


"How do you know, that..."


"Grete sent me a long telegram... yesterday... And this morning an express letter of hers arrived from Paris... So the letter raced you here... You have to come to our place right away. Inger and I will wait with our morning coffee until you arrive." Hastily directions are given to Andreas. And a few minutes later Andreas is seated in a taxi... Fate is having its way, he thought, a little dizzy from all the talking on the phone...


Half an hour later he has arrived at the friends' place.


A handsome man, this Nils, a purebred "Northern Germanic Man" as he likes to stress it. A blonde giant from northern Jutland, where his family owns some old lands. He could have also been an English lord, one of those after whom the adage "here in England nobility is measured in yards" was coined.


Inger, his wife, is an example of the modern, very sophisticated woman. Her henna colored hair is a stark contrast to her big, almost childlike, blue eyes. And the vermillion red mouth is almost burning in the delicate porcelain like complexion of her face... She is an actress. They both were globetrotters. Grete and Andreas had frequently undertaken long and distant trips with them. But no matter how well acquainted they were, they did not know about Andreas' secret. Andreas' heart sinks a little at the thought of maybe having to let them in on it now... even if they are old companions from his youth...


He is received in the most heartfelt of ways. Breakfast is served and casual topics are discussed, as long as Inger is in the room. Only then does
[Page 43]
Nils get straight to the point.


"Grete told me something, but wasn't quite clear about it... Here... in this letter from this morning... you can of course go ahead and read it yourself..."


Andreas refuses. "No, that letter was meant for your eyes only."


"All right then..." The walls of the room are adorned with pictures painted... by Grete... by Andreas. Andreas can't quite keep himself from studying them. One of the paintings, made by Grete, shows... Lili.


"Yes," Nils begins, sensibly, "I understand a lot of those things that up to now seemed like a bizarre idea the two of you cooked up: to have you appear so frequently as a female model in Grete's paintings..."


And now Andreas found the courage to tell the friend all without holding back.


Both fall silent for a bit.


"Well then, old boy," Nils begins again in his funny way, "some of Grete's allusions she made to me in Paris last year showed me back then already that your life seemed to - - take an odd bend. Whether or not that is a lucky or unlucky turn of events that is now before you, one thing you need to know right now: you have entrusted your fate to the best, most dutiful hands around... Now it is up to you, if you have the strength to pull through... You look a bit tired... I understand... No need to explain. But," and now Nils laughed his funniest smile, "it is a quite irregular case for a person to be faced with the choice to continue living as Andreas or..." and now he pointed at the painting, "as Lili in this world of tumbling sensations." Andreas looked at the friend. "Faced with the choice you say... No, Nils, I don't believe that is it... but rather something much more serious, namely life and death... Because the man standing in front of you, you can believe it, is marked for death... And now the question is, if that creature there," he points at the painting on the wall, "can really step forward into life, freed from all disguises of body and soul, and take up the struggle with life..."


Nils looks into the friend's eye, sees his devastation.

Page 44

He knows the friend needs to muster all possible strength for the coming days. He wants to give the conversation a joking bend.


"Oh my boy, there's no dying happening here. Here there's enduring so you can become a prime phenomenon..."


"Cut it out, Nils..." Still, Andreas has to smile.


"That's right. Laugh about it... So we remain at the prime phenomenon... I'm not talking about you, but that being on the wall. And I wish that..."


Andreas cuts him off: "...that she won't be a phenomenon, but a totally normal, ordinary, real girl."


"An ordinary, real girl... Don't you think you ask too much... And you need to take care that the dear gentlemen scientists don't go and put Lili under glass right after her birth and exhibit her as a curiosity..."


Andreas can't bear these words. "No, Nils, ...I know you mean well... But let's not talk about what could possibly happen, but..."


"Agreed, let's rather talk about your and your Lili's past..." Nils is very serious now. "See, that seems currently the most important thing. You need to be very clear on how this odd, fantastic change that you have gone through since childhood, for the duration of a normal human life, has happened... How Lili slowly gained the upper hand over Andreas..."


"All right," Andreas replies, and looks at his watch, "Now I have to go visit my first judge over life and death, Professor A... And once I'm done with him, I will probably need to go the whole round..."


"Agreed." Nils had found his relaxed laughter again, "And once you're done with today's activities, you come back to us here at once. Now, break a leg as we say around these parts."



Professor A., the inventor of a new method of analyzing blood, received Andreas in a very careful way that had to instill a sense of safety and confidence. He addressed a number of questions to Andreas, which he answered without shame, no matter how delicate they were.

Page 45

After long and complicated examinations, most of which were designed to determine the life circumstances of Lili in Andreas, - during which Andreas had to use all of his willpower to turn off his thinking - the scholar lead him from his study into a cozily furnished salon. "If you want to smoke... please... Here you have the lightest of cigarettes, which even the daintiest of women can stomach." After a little small talk, Professor A. told his patient that he now had to be examined by a sexual psychologist friend of his, Dr. H. "He has a lot of experience regarding the "soul," - You may think about this in purely scientific terms, - I however don't want to pass the judgement of this specialist in the field in regards to your person. - Once you're done with colleague H., you have to go visit yet another colleague, Dr. K.. He and I have to scientifically determine the hormone contents of your blood, while colleague H.'s judgement on you and the person within yourself, whom you call Lili, will be purely psychological. - In any case, I implore you to come back to visit me tomorrow before noon. The result of these various "examinations" which we have to put you through will then be delivered to your protector, Professor Kreutz."


"Your protector" ...those words beat on Andreas' heart. And as he sat in the waiting room of the spacious "Institute for Psychology" he had to repeat the words quietly to himself, - lest all confidence left him.


Why was I sent here, he asked himself, what do I have to do here? ...He felt as if he were being delivered to some great unknown. He felt a moral discomfort. A club of abnormal humans appeared as if for a performance: women looking like men in costume, men of which it was hard to believe they were men... The way they conversed repulsed him. Their movements, their voices, the kind of costumes they wore. --Yes, there was not really another word for it, Andreas thought, these things caused a deep sensation of disgust.

Page 46

Finally Dr. H. appeared and led him through his consulting room. For hours on end this man probed the state of Andreas' soul with a barrage of questions. He had to submit to an inquisition of the most ruthless kind. Whether he wanted to or not. The shame of shamelessness is real, he thought during those hours. He clang to the definition he had read some time ago in a work of philosophy, just to rid himself of the feeling of standing there as if pilloried. It was running a gauntlet for the soul that he went through... was forced to go through.


And when this torture was over, the inquisitor released him with the words: "I expect you back here, the same time tomorrow."


And then it was Dr. K.'s turn. Andreas had already acquired a kind of routine in answering the questions put before him. This examination however took place more in the shape of a conversation. And before Andreas really noticed, he found himself in the midst of a real "men's talk"; It was about the political relationship between France and Germany. And almost casually the doctor inserted a long, delicate syringe into Andreas' arm to take a blood sample.


Then Dr. K. too released him with the words: "I will see you here back again tomorrow."


Exhausted he returned to Nils and Inger Hvide that night.


"No." He exclaimed right away. "Don't ask me anything now. I can't go on with it. And my "life's report" you can't have either tonight. Let's rather take a long walk through your Babylon on the Spree around the Kurfürstendamm. I have to see people, healthy people."


Inger was already "engaged" for the evening. But Nils was still "available" and took up Andreas' suggestion with delight.


They began at an authentic Russian restaurant, where vodka and other heavy stuff flowed freely during a multicourse supper. Then came German, French, Hungarian and
[Page 47]
Spanish wines in the most diverse array of bars and cafes. Nils was a famous wine connoisseur. And to the surprise of both, Andreas was a good drinking buddy that night.


"To your health, Andreas," Nils said, who just had again wondered about his friend's ability to "hold his liquor." "You really are an odd fellow. Tonight you behave like a chap, and tomorrow you will probably be able to certify that I will have to treat you like a lady in the future. Looking at you, I can't quite wrap my head around it how all of these things worked out. ... But maybe we don't just possess two souls, as Goethe said, but two beings, two entire beings... I don't quite know how to say that..."


Andreas looked at him, calmly. "I understand your line of thinking. It is hard to understand this change, hard for me, so it is much harder for others. And the strangest thing of all is, that every being within me, believe it, is healthy in its emotional life, - Believe it, it is so, completely normal."


"And exactly that is probably the abnormal, the unknowable in your case," Nils stated. "I have known you for years now, I mean" and now he smiled, "you as in Andreas... Because Lili, yes you have kept from us friends so far... And as a man, you always struck me as healthy... I have seen it with my own eyes, how women like you. Which is the clearest proof of your being a real man..." He stopped, looked at the friend, and placed a hand on Andreas' shoulder. "You won't hold it against me if I asked you an frank question?"


Andreas looked at him. "Nils, if you knew the kind of questions I've been answering all day, you would not stand on ceremony as much now..."


"All right, Andreas. Have you ever had interest in... your own kind?... You know what I mean."


Andreas shakes his head calmly. "My word, Nils, not once in my life. And I can add, that such creatures never had an interest in me."

Page 48

"Bravo, Andreas. Just as I thought."


"My dear Nils, I want to confess truthfully and with simple words: Everywhere and always I have liked women. Back then as today. A banal confession. But there you go."


Nils raised his glass: "And now let us drink to the coming day. Come what may. Stay strong! Stay with it! If you lived during the times of the ancient Greeks, they would have made a demigod of you. Well, they would have burned you at the stake in the middle ages. Because miracles were forbidden. At least today doctors are allowed to perform miracles... So let us drink to tomorrow."


And they drank. And spoke not another word.


Nils accompanied the friend to his hotel. When he was alone in his room, he collapsed from agony of the body and the soul.



The next morning Andreas had found his equilibrium again, at least superficially. He kept to himself what he went through the last night. It was a farewell...


He arrives at Professor A.'s on time.


"I have talked to my colleague Kreutz. We agree that a young colleague, an upstanding surgeon, should give you a pre-treatment here. Once that is done, nothing stands in the way of having you admitted to Dr. Kreutz' clinic. That does not mean you will be accepted there..."


"Not me?" Andreas exclaims the question with a tone of despair.


"Kreutz is the head of a gynecological practice, a women's clinic... And your case," Now the doctor smiled a little. "Your case is somewhat extraordinary... Even for us men of medicine... Which means that once the local surgeon releases you, you will no longer be Andreas Sparre, but..."


"But Lili…" Andreas silently sank into a chair.


"Indeed... As colleague H. has told me in the meantime, he sees the male in you as the quite lesser part of your being, which exhibits about eighty out of a hundred parts being female, in regards to the soul. The analysis of your blood yielded similar results. By the way, I will be present during the operation,
[Page 49]
which we will perform here in Berlin. Before that we will take a few pictures of you. For purely scientific reasons of course. Colleague H. still wants to take those pictures today. He is expecting you. Tomorrow morning please go to the clinic of the surgeon." Then the Doctor gave Andreas the exact address of the clinic. Andreas noted it all down as if in a dream, barely said thanks and wanted to leave.


"You look a bit tired. Please have confidence. What you still have to go through is hard. What you have gone through in all those past years was surely a lot harder still, harder than any of us, born with healthy bodies, is even capable of imagining. Balancing that however, you have received a richness of the soul and a breath of emotion that far exceed that of normal human perception and knowledge. Just have a little more patience, my friend. Au revoir et bon courage!"


Andreas shakes the hand of the good man wordlessly and goes about his way.


Page 50



Andreas is back with Nils and Inger that night.


After the three ate dinner, Andreas lights an after-dinner cigarette, gets up and extinguishes all superfluous light, so that only one electric candle remains shining dimly as a signal in the corner of an alcove. The friends had intentionally avoided asking about the results of the various fateful medical examinations.


He sits down in the comfortable armchair in the alcove corner and begins without great introductions and quite unceremoniously:


"I have thought about your words thoroughly yesterday, my dear Nils."


"About my words?"


"Yes, when you said: currently the most important thing was for me to understand how this – to use your words – strange, fantastical change, that I have gone through since childhood, happened. . ."


"Right, how she... Lili gained the upper hand over you," Nils adds.


"Well, I have thought about this last night... since it is not impossible to think that tonight is the last night of..."


"Humbug," Miss Inger interjects.


"Let it be, Inger," Nils interrupts her, "I know what Andreas is talking about..."


Andreas smiles. "Whatever happens, Miss Inger, it is a night of farewells... And so you understand that well, I want to relate how this came to pass, given that you two have as much patience as I do... I made a couple of notes, so I won't lose the thread of the story. Who knows how I will be tomorrow... If I will still be me tomorrow, or if I will have become erased as Andreas , this being sitting in front of you, which I begin to lose my memory of, to make place for a completely different being."


Nils has gotten up, paces around, stops in front of
[Page 51]
Andreas. He too has gotten serious now.


"I thought about this as well, if a bit nebulously, my dear boy. And since you know me as quite a down-to-earth person who takes things at face value, without too much sentiment, -also, I'm a lawyer, and a very sober lawyer,- I have not forgotten how to take shorthand from my time at law school, so, I want to make a suggestion- I could, without hurting your feelings, take down in shorthand the curriculum vitae you are about to tell us..." Now he laughed. Andreas caught his laughter. Even Miss Inger had to smile.


"An excellent idea," Andreas exclaimed amused. "I won't be ‘offended' by your shorthand, neither my feelings nor anything else. On the contrary. We have to think of posterity."


"All right, then let's go - With this I take up the honorary role of Tacitus." With these words Nils sat down on a comfortable lounge chair, and took out a notebook and a pencil. Miss Inger was already laying on a divan, casually smoking her cigarette.


"Let's begin with my parents, both of whom you have met," Andreas begins. I want to go and confess my life to you like a correct chronicler. If I get too broad or too introspective, then..."


"As your Tacitus, don't worry, I will let the blue pen do its work afterwards," Nils interjected... For the last time, for now, during this night of saying farewell.


"So, my father's ancestors came from Mallorca to Jutland. I have my dark eyes from him. He was not a very steeled nature, a little delicate and very involved with his own well-being. My mother on the other hand was very neat with healthy nerves, a real Nordic, blonde kind of person, maybe even a bit harsh in her nature, an industrious person and a good mother. She died before father, quite suddenly. Father could not find solace over her death. Their marriage had weathered many storms. After Mother's passing, Father honored her like a saint.


She had four children, two sons and two daughters -@Editor: #PLC. I was the youngest...


And now I will have to talk about me.

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I was a very happy child. I got spoiled by everyone. Even from my siblings. I was quite the gourmet. I ate only my favorite foods. I never heard a harsh word from Father. If I needed a slap, it would be delivered by my mother. Otherwise she competed with Father to spoil me rotten – just like all the youngest kids get spoiled in the nest. Mother loved cleaning me up. I was never dressed well enough. And due to my "fine clothes" I was not allowed to run around with my peers. That was my biggest pain. When I was a small lad, I had long, blonde locks and snow-white skin, combined with the dark eyes, many strangers thought me a girl. In Kindergarten I was the most industrious child in crocheting and knitting, the only boy along with eleven girls. When I was five I received my first "official award" for that. For needlework...


When I was eight my brothers mocked me often for my "girly voice." I took those insults to heart and ever since tried my best to develop a real bratty bass.


Now that I think of it, my child's voice was the first time I pretended being something else...


Otherwise my childhood was nothing but sunshine. I played with my brothers and their tin soldiers, - and with my sister's dolls... I had a happy, worry free disposition. Nobody saw anything special in my pushing my sister's doll carriage... Many brothers who have sisters do that...


When I was nine years old, I went to the high school in the small town I was growing up in. My brothers went to the same school. None of us were model students. But our principal could not stand model students, even despised them in secret. ‘None of them will bring it to anything in life,' he once said about others. And in many cases he would be right. - French and Latin were my favorite subjects... Also I was one of the most frequent patrons of the school library, much to the joy of our "principal". Nevertheless I was usually the second-best student of my class. In French we were instructed by the Old Man. His French was peculiar. Once, after he had spent some time in Paris over summer break he told us angrily how
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he could not stand the Parisians, since neither they understood him nor he them. He closed his report by stating: "And you know, boys, I can speak French."


Yes, he was quite the personality. Very different from my Latin teacher. He was a very modern man, who did not just instruct us in the language, but also tried to induct us into the ancients' world of ideas, and the arts of antiquity. It was him who opened my eyes to the immaculate beauty of the Greek sculptures. It was just a distant, dim understanding... But I still remember as if it were today, when I was out swimming with my peers, and then beheld another's not very well proportioned boy's body and compared it to my own, smooth, delicate body in the water's reflection, I often quietly blushed. I was a built a lot more delicately and flexibly than most of my peers. And then I thought of the boy statues of Praxiteles, our Latin teacher had told us about a few days earlier. We had a few plaster casts of those in our painting room. Which reminds me of a small scene. A few girls went to our high school already back then. One of them was in my class. During recess she once put her girl's hat on my head. "Look, he looks like a real girl," she exclaimed and my companions laughed along with her. Suddenly our Latin teacher appeared in front of us. I was so in shock I did not have the time to take off the girl's hat. And before I know what happens, I am getting quite the beating. I was completely beside myself after that, and only realized many years later, why my old teacher believed he had to punish me then and there... We poor people... What do we know about ourselves... how much less about ... our neighbors.


By the way, I was a real boy. I was "in the middle" of altercations. I was willfully more courageous, especially because I was more delicate than my buddies, which led to a couple of sprained fingers.


Meanwhile I went on long hikes with my sister. And if I knew none of the boys could see me, - like in the forest by the town, - I would take over pushing the doll carriage, our constant companion...


During puberty my interest in the arts only increased. When I was
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seventeen years old, I began reading art magazines and visiting art exhibitions. My father who didn't think much of a career as an artist what with him being an aging salesman, tried a few times to guide my life towards more "practical pursuits." So he arranged for me to become first a trader's and then a painter's apprentice, but without having any other effect than to increase my will to do art.


At the same time I had, like all adolescents, my "flame," well, to be quite honest I should rather talk of "flames." That lasted well into my twenties...


When father finally accepted that it was hopeless to try and get me interested in anything "practical," I was sent to Copenhagen at the age of nineteen where I was a student at the art academy. Here a few good mates took me under their wing and took care that I lost my provincial naiveté and inhibition, and that I became quite brutally "demystified"... I got to know Grete back then...


It was a love at first sight, in the words' most daring meaning.


Yes, we had an almost mystical attraction to each other from the first moment on. Grete had just arrived at the art academy. Also from the provinces... The both of us immediately became inseparable. We attended all lectures together at night. Back then lectures were still separated by gender for male and female students.


We were introduced by a friend.


When he found out one day, that we had gotten engaged, he became raving with jealousy. Not because of Grete, though, and I only noted that a few years later, - but because of me.... But even such a thing happening is not out of the ordinary... How many friends have made similar experiences when a woman steps between them...


A year after our first encounter, Grete and I married. We were still so young... I was barely twenty, Grete was a few years younger... What did we know of life, of people... We were indescribably happy with one another.


I still remember ... it was the first years of our marriage ... one
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evening, we lived in a wonderfully situated atelier, with a wide view of Copenhagen, Grete read to me an ancient fairy tale from antiquity. It went something like this: "Hermes, the darling of the gods, had a son, and Aphrodite, the divinely beautiful, had a daughter. Both children were exemplars of beauty. Both had never seen each other before when one day they find each other eye to eye in the Forest of the Gods. The girl was aglow for the boy immediately. But the boy ran from her. No matter how loud she cried out for him, he wouldn't stop. Desperately the divine girl went to Zeus and complained to him of her love affliction. "I love him, Father, but he fled from me. He doesn't want to know me. Oh Father, allow me to become one with him." And Zeus heard the pleading of the god's child and raised his arm, and the next moment, Hermes' shy son appeared before the Olympian, Aphrodite's daughter rejoiced with delight, enfolded the quivering youngling - and again Zeus raised his arm -- and both of them disappeared into each other --- And as Hermes and Aphrodite searched for their children, they found a blissfully smiling child. "It is my son," Hermes exclaimed. "No, it is my daughter," said Aphrodite. And they were both right... ‘See,' Grete said to me that distant night, ‘I love you so much, I wish that you and I, we were one being.' And I looked at her gleefully... just very happy... And clueless in regard to the deeper meaning of her words, just like she herself.


Around this time Grete was painting the portrait of the most well beloved actress in old Copenhagen, Anna Larsen. One day she could not make it to one of the scheduled appointments. On the phone she asked Grete, who was a bit cross with her: "Couldn't Andreas model for the lower part of the picture? His legs and feet are as pretty as mine."


Grete laughed, as she did. Once I had, and Anna Larsen knew that, ‘helped out' Grete with a woman's portrait. But back then this had been about the arrangement of the folds. "You have quite pretty woman's legs." Grete had said to me, jokingly.


While Grete was on the phone with Anna L., I was about to clean my palette, smoked a cigar and didn't really listen as Grete told Anna Larsen this suggestion. Initially I quite harshly rejected.

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Grete laughed at me, called me self-centered, begged me, caressed me… and a few minutes later I was standing there in a dress, high heels and so on, in the atelier and we both laughed as if over a good joke. And to complete the disguise, Grete dug up an old carnival wig from the depths of a chest and pulled it over my head. It was a blonde wig, with a lot of curls. Then she brought in powder and make-up. I let it all happen willingly.


And when everything was done, we barely believed our eyes. I turned and stretched in front of a mirror, again and again, tried to recognize myself. Was it possible for me to look this good, I asked myself. Grete clapped her hands gleefully. "The most perfect lady model." She exclaimed one time after the other. "As if you never wore anything but women's clothing."


It was strange – I can't deny it when I soberly remember that scene – I liked myself in that dress-up role... I perceived the light women's clothes as something indeed pleasant, something natural... I felt at home in them. From the first moment on. And Grete began to paint.


The doorbell rang out in the hallway. And a moment later Anna Larsen rushes into the atelier. She apparently had found the time... She looks at me... does not recognize the strange woman ... on top of it all one who is wearing her own dress. But then she lets out a cry of joy and hugs me hard.


"I've not experienced something this funny in a long time," she concludes and applauds me. Then she beholds me from all sides, I had to turn and twist and take all kinds of positions. And then Anna Larsen began anew: I would be a much prettier girl than a man. Women's clothes looked so much better on me than men's stuff. And finally she says, and I have never been able to forget the words: "You know, Andreas, you surely were a girl in an earlier existence... Or nature has made quite the mistake with you."


Those were her words. She had spoken very slowly and thoughtfully. Grete and I noted that she was feeling stranger and stranger the longer she beheld me.


Finally Grete gave me a sign to get rid of the costume,
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so that Anna Larsen herself could model for her.


I want to withdraw. Anna Larsen grabs me. "No," she exclaims, "I would not be able to stomach seeing Andreas again today. Let's not even speak of him! You hear! And now I want to baptize you, my little girl, you should receive an especially lovely, ringing name. For example ... Lili ...


What do you think of Lili?...From now on, I will call you Lili ... And that we have to celebrate! What do you say, Grete?"- -


Grete just nodded, looked at her, then at the baptismal child... with wondering eyes... And then we three had a fun feast, deep into the night, Lili's christening night...


That's how Lili came to be... And the name stuck...


And not just the name...


It began with this boisterous fun, an idea only artists could come up with... And many years we played our game with Lili, until the game turned serious...


But let me not take events out of order. A few weeks after Lili's baptism the artists' carnival took place.


Grete suggested Lili take part in the carnival, and through that have her introduction to the world. Grete designed a delightful pierette-costume... And with loudly beating heart Lili made her "Entrée dans le monde."


The success was complete. Lili was one of the most sought after dancers. An army officer especially had his eye on her. Eventually he came for her for every dance. Towards midnight he got impetuous. Finally Lili tried to "air" her secret. Which didn't help her much. The army officer simply wouldn't believe her. Just as she had escaped him, she jumped out of the frying pan into the fire. A new cavalier simply grabbed her and wouldn't let her go, demanded right then and there to at the very least be allowed to kiss her neck. When she finally managed to escape his grasp, the pierette-costume was missing some pieces of lace...


Incidentally, on this night that was unforgettable in more than one way, I had the first opportunity to experience the brutality of men against women in the flesh. It would not remain the only time.

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Lili had made another, strange observation during the festivities: the position of the female sex towards her, she had herself looked upon women whom she regarded as beautiful, with a friendly smile. But most of the time her trustful gaze was rejected with icy scorn. She was clueless, eventually asked Grete if she had behaved badly, if she was looking bad, and so forth. Grete only caressed Lili indulgently and said, smiling: "This stupid Lili is still so young. She does not know the malice and distrust of us women towards other women. She will get to know it eventually."


These words left a deep, unforgettable impression on Lili. It was the first time she felt as her own being. And so this funny idea turned into something of a premonition... How often did I have to think of this distant night.


But this night held yet another lesson, one not less distinctive.


Grete and Lili wanted to go home. Looking for her coat Lili runs into the arms of one of the painters from the academy. It was one of my four atelier buddies! For heaven's sake! How to behave so the secret doesn't come out? - Lili pretends not to see him. He grabs her, pushes her against him and kisses her neck half a dozen times. This time I come to Lili's rescue. The ruffian gets a few well aimed slaps to the face. He retreats immediately, and hurriedly... Hauwitz was the man's name.


As I step into the atelier class the next day, the companions are in the midst of discussing the events of carnival night. Hauwitz is most agitated. He tells of all of his adventures.


"But where were you yesterday?" he immediately attacks me. The others too ask why I didn't participate, especially since Grete had been there.


I explain that I had not been feeling too well. And by the way I had heard the colleagues had entertained themselves quite well, especially Hauwitz, who was very busy courting a pierette.


How did I know that, Hauwitz threw in, flattered, and apparently it is impossible for one to move around without gossip being spread about oneself; who was it that was this indiscreet, to tell me of his little adventures...

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"You just are one outrageous heartbreaker," I said, admiringly. "Well, tell me about it then..."


Initially, Hauwitz deflected, cavalierly. "One is a gentleman, there are things that should not be talked of. By the way this Pierette was a marvelous person. At least..."


He lights a new cigarette, smirking mysteriously, winking at me ominously, and everyone surrounds him more closely. "Go on, Hauwitz," they encourage him.


"Well, Sparre seems to know what's up. Stick with him then," He replies, quite clearly.


"But, my dear Hauwitz. Don't get me wrong. I would be the last one here to make any allusions," I replied, and then asked this very daring question: "was she really that pretty?"


"You can allude to all you like," Hauwitz began anew, "You simply cannot go too far in your speculations. Truly an unheard of thing..."


Following this, Hauwitz again wrapped himself in silence, which said more than the rudest brag...


I confessed to my most intimate friends the identity of the Pierette afterwards...


Hauwitz was inducted not much later, after he had gotten more opportunities to get comfortable in the role of the somewhat doubtful Casanova and to further embarrass himself...


This dance was followed by others, during which Lili became more comfortable in her role. Grete dolled her up each time, so that this newly surfaced being began to raise a furor in the artistic circles of Copenhagen... And not just that. Lili slowly turned into Grete's indispensable plaything... Because, no matter how strange this may sound now, not I dressed up as Lili , but for both me and Grete Lili soon turned into her fully independent person, a playmate of Grete's, her actual playmate and a toy at the same time.


Lili and I, we became two different beings. If Lili wasn't there, we spoke of her in the third person. And if Lili was there, meaning if I wasn't, then I was talked about in the third person between Grete and her. And soon our most intimate friends learned this too. But it was still a game for many, many years...

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Grete was deep in her being quite melancholic. To get over these moods from here on out, she called for her playmate Lili. Lili was carelessness and serenity personified. Gradually, Lili became more and more important as a model for her mistress. Today I can say that, yes, Lili was Grete's favorite model. If it was chance or not, Grete had more success with paintings for which Lili had modeled. And she began to see Lili as a sort of mascot, a talisman.


A big series of Grete's pictures and drawings was created in our first atelier in Copenhagen, in which Lili appeared in hundreds of variations as a model. Grete's reputation as an artist grew. Lili's reputation as a model did likewise. But nobody knew who was behind the model. Legends began to form. Gossip began its whisper, but without getting close to the secret.


A well-known writer claimed Lili was not even a being of flesh and blood, but instead nothing but a type of woman which Grete's imagination had zeroed in on. An empty caprice...


Just a few suspected a connection. But nobody knew anything concrete about the mystery of Lili, – except for Anna Larsen, who had sworn absolute confidentiality. She had kept her word.


One day Grete received an invitation from Paris to exhibit her "Lili drawings" there...


And so us three were transplanted to Paris: Grete, Lili and – me.

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We had undertaken several voyages abroad before our relocation to Paris. As soon as we had enough saved up from the sales of our paintings – after all we were quite humble in our standards – we had driven southward to study, to paint and to get to know the world. And only after having used the last of our travel funds had we gone on our way back to Copenhagen.


But Lili hadn't "come along" with us on these trips. There were too many new things to experience for Grete and me to busy ourselves with her.


But as soon as we were back to our atelier at home, she resurfaced. And then we had to realize each time that we had missed her. We had spent almost an entire year in Italy... without Lili.-


It had been the least worrisome year I had ever spent with Grete.


The fairytale of the South became true for us two children of the North, became an indescribably, wonderful revelation.


How could we find time to - - play with Lili? Especially Grete? She had been just so cheerful. She never felt oppressed in Italy's world of wonders. She needed no distraction. Which was the reason Lili was not conjured up during that time..... -@Editor: #PLC


And yet Lili was closer together with us than ever before. Just now it no longer was a game... I started to undergo a change of my own, without being quite aware of it at the time. This was demonstrated by how I affected others... especially back then in Italy. I was approached by an unlucky fellow in Florence. A very rich foreigner. One day, after he had followed my every step, he spoke to me, making the suggestion I come to live in his villa. I could pursue my painterly studies there as much as I wished to. I refused politely, but very vehemently. I saw him a couple of times after that. I was always in the company of ladies, either with Grete or in company of an exceptionally beautiful Sicilian. It almost came to the point of my having to challenge the poor creature at gunpoint.


I had a similar adventure in Rome. An American millionaire wanted me to come along to Egypt. He did not just assail me, but also Grete. He then sailed to Alexandria alone.


I had never experienced such delicate situations before. Why exactly
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in Italy I only realized much later. As Professor Kreutz was viewing photographs taken of me in the past couple of years, among them a few from my first trip to Italy, he pointed to these pictures and said: "At that time Lili is clearly visible for the first time."


And now we were off to Paris.


We took quarters in one of the countless small hotels close to the "Ecole de Beaux Arts," on the left bank of the Seine . The host seemed like an assassin to us, the hostess like a conglomerate of avarice, curiosity and uncleanliness. Their small, dearest daughter resembled a delightful kitten. Such a thing only exists in Paris... The one like the other and the third...


We were put up in cozy bright red and grey-white washed rooms. One overlooked the old, neglected small garden and had a mysterious alcove with red flower adorned drapes.


The hotel's factotum, a man named Jean, told us then that Oscar Wilde had spent his last days in those rooms... He supposedly died in the alcove with the red-flowered drapes... Tears ran down his badly shaven jowls as Jean related this to us. He had good reason to mourn the passing of Oscar Wilde. The grand, unhappy poet had handed him quite a few twenty franc pieces, to buy him cigarettes for a few sous. He never had to return the "change," what was supposed to be a careful nudge in our direction.


The two quiet rooms in which good old Wilde had suffered to his end, became doubly resonant for Grete and me. We often sat in front of the broad window facing the old garden, and time after time read many pages of the poet's books, which I had loved for years. "De Profundis" and the "Ballad of Reading Coel" Grete and I almost knew by heart. Those were nice evenings...


Close to the hotel we found our regular bar, "Chateau neuf du Pape," frequented mostly by art students. It was a very modest restaurant. But one could dine exquisitely for a franc and 30. Wine was included in the price. This is where we found our first Parisian friends.


Soon after, the editor of a well-known Parisian
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magazine asked Grete to work with him. He had just seen Grete's paintings and drawings in her first exhibition in Paris.


Grete was on fire to begin with her participation right away. But what should she offer? And where to quickly find a suitable model?


Grete looks at me questioningly, hesitates a few moments, then says: "What do you think, if Lili..."


I admit, I was surprised at first. I too had forgotten about Lili in the midst of Paris' turmoil, just as I did on our first voyage to Italy. Here in Paris Grete had not required any of the diversions or the company of Lili, until now.


"All right," I said then, "but what should she wear ..."


Lili's "wardrobe" had stayed behind in Copenhagen. Besides that, Lili was quite taller than the dainty Grete, and their wardrobes were kept strictly separated.


We quickly gathered the essentials for her. She was more than a little proud of her first Parisian costume.


So it came to pass that she resurfaced right in Paris... The works she modeled for made everyone happy. Grete was beaming. She received respectable sums for her works.


We were able to rent a pleasant atelier. We became settled in Paris, found our circle of friends and acquaintances.


I, too, was drawing a lot, partially in Paris, partially in Versailles, where we spent the hot months of summer.


A couple of harmonious, happy years for Grete and me passed by like this. Lili only showed up, when Grete urgently needed her as a model. We made good money. Grete could afford "strange models"...


And when we had enough money saved for an educational trip, we went to Italy once more. Our destination was Capri. For years it had been our desire to get to know this paradise of the sun.


Barely arrived, we were quite delighted to meet a painter from Florence there, whom we had met during our first trip to Italy.
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We called him Nino. We were inseparable from then on. After a few days we had lots of acquaintances, more than we always were comfortable with, among the international artists running around on Capri. Three or four times a day we met at "Morgano" and every night there was a game of chess or checkers going on. Of course everyone attended the small beach at "Piccola Marina" during bathing hours.


Here we met a Scotsman one day, who always appeared in company of a remarkably delicate boy. While bathing however, the boy transformed, to our surprise, into a very cute girl...


"But naturally!" -@Translator: #SW a Venetian sculptor belonging to our clique exclaimed due to this "disclosure." "I knew it from the start! A girl can not disguise herself as a man, and the other way around. Whoever has eyes to see, sees through the deception at once. Some superficiality always gives it away." The man's name was Favio .


Grete looked at me saucily. I understood it... That afternoon during the hour of promenade, Grete appeared in company of a slender, tall, young lady, whom nobody else had seen before in Capri. They sauntered past "Morgano" where Grete suddenly had to return many curious greetings from friends and acquaintances. Suddenly, Signora Favio, the wife of the sculptor, asked about me, hopefully I wasn't ill, since nobody had seen me earlier that day... Would Grete and I not join them for a feast that night at their villa near Monte Tiberio...


Grete was sorry... "Andreas had to go to Naples for some important business. He would be back tomorrow morning at the earliest."


Then she introduced her companion "Mademoiselle Lili Courtot -@Editor: #PLC ... Signora Favio..."


The Signora had achieved what she had wanted to, and hurried to invite Mademoiselle Lili along with Madame Grete for the evening's feast, an invitation which was accepted happily.


The mystification was a great success, against expectations. Grete's French girlfriend was quite lovingly welcomed into the whole company of revelers. A well-known Norwegian writer
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ended up celebrating Mademoiselle Lili as "the most perfect embodiment of French charm and Parisian elegance." She did not stray from Lili's side. She invited Lili to her home in Norway. She drank with her to "brotherhood."


And Lili was beaming... And Grete no less. Because the most delightful thing, or rather more pointedly said, the most risqué thing, about this new friendship was that this fierce Norwegian woman had so far only adored me...


Grete's French friend gave a few more guest performances in the following days. To make my absence more understandable, Grete told everyone who wanted to hear it, that there was an unbridgeable animosity between me and her friend Lili... But Capri is small. Lili had to "depart" again soon and make space for me. Favio, like everyone else, did not suspect a thing...

- - -


As we returned to Paris from Italy, Lili's existence underwent a change soon after. It happened more frequently now that she, after Grete had used her as a model during the bright hours of the day, stuck around the whole evening. And when one of our more intimate friends came to visit, she did not flee as if hunted into the next room, but stuck around where she was, and where the others were, and was happy and in cheerful spirits.


Gradually everyone ended up liking her. She was, as Grete had to conclude, the good spirit and happy mood of all of our festivities in the atelier...


But everyone made a big difference between Lili and me. Grete's girlfriends, who acted almost ceremoniously towards me, hugged Lili, and addressed her without deferential pronouns -@Translator: #SW. As did Grete's and my friends.


It was also strange that Lili, when she was among Grete's girlfriends, - who were almost without an exception artists,- felt the most female of them all. And the girlfriends initially laughed somewhat exuberantly about this, but gradually came to feel that Lili's impression was real.

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And so it happened, that Lili insisted ever more stubbornly on her place, and only disappeared with increasing reluctance. Grete and I had met a French sculptor at the "Salon d'Automme," where both of us had exhibits. Jehan Tempéte -@Editor: #PLC. This acquaintance should be the introduction to new experiences for Lili.


He had a small summer home in a small town on the Loire . With a few friends he was about to set up a theater performance for charity on the tiny stage in town. The town's name was Balgencie.


He invited Grete and me to participate.


It was a fun train ride. The town was as if taken out of a toy box, a small Rothenburg...


The "theater" that we occupied the same evening, looked from the inside like a tobacconist's with adjacent café. Inside there was a movie theater and dance floor. Because there was only one stage decoration, which was also unusable, Grete was promptly dubbed headmaster of scene-painting. She quickly designed the "congenial stage scenery" for the revue, which had been written by Jehan Tempéte himself, who, just like the "composer" was a young lyricist, and author of the lyrics, a hopeful "rising tenor star" with us others, painters, sculptors and so on, were "put to work" by Grete right away, so the décor "could be allowed to shine."


At six in the evening "everything stood." At nine the performance was set to begin.


At seven at night Tempéte and I went to the train station to pick up the last member of our "ensemble" that was still missing, a young painter who could not have traveled together with the others for some reason. She had to play a smaller part, a "real Parisienne."


The train pulled into the station, but our "Parisienne" had not made it. It was the last train before the performance...

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Tempéte was livid. No matter how small her role had been, without her the piece would "fall apart," the author explained, raving. -


"Then we have to ask Grete to fill in," I explained.


Grete and I, who had been invited to take part in the artist tour "in the eleventh hour," did not belong to the actual "ensemble."


"Excellent idea!" Tempéte cheered and immediately attacked Grete as he entered the so-called hotel in which we had found shelter. She was lying on a shaky divan, exhausted from decorating the theater stage.


"No way," Grete explained, I can not do it, no matter how much I want to...." Then she glances at me, secretively. "But maybe... Lili... can."


"Who is Lili?" the overly nervous Tempéte asks. Everyone asks the same question.


"You shouldn't care about who Lili is. As long as she is coming out tonight. She will be able to play the role effortlessly," Grete explained to the curious circle, caught hold of Tempéte, pulled him away and gave him the necessary instructions regarding Lili's person. He was shaking from laughter, promised his silence. Then it was agreed upon that while Lili was outfitted, he would teach her the role of the "real deal" in the secret seclusion of a hotel room.... And as the revue was put on that night, nobody had even an inkling that Lili was not a real Parisienne... On top of this, the especially poetically inclined druggist from Balgencie, who belonged to the "charity commission," was enchanted by Lili so much, that he sent a box of violet-scented soap to her hotel room.


That night Lili got to know her most faithful friend. Claude Lejeune. The tenor of the revue. He was the comic of the evening. His appearance on stage alone caused veritable hurricanes of merriment among the audience. He was the only true artist among the dilletantes' ensemble that night.


I had taken note of this young, real Parisian artist, who could have
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played any Montmartre tavern with his quick witted, dry humor. A totally uneven face, relatively colorless, somewhat crooked eyes and on top of that a funny, pointy nose. At first sight he might seem ugly. But if one observes this man for one moment, one would realize his intelligence and an odd warmth and kindness that his entire being radiated outward.


Me, Andreas, he ignored most of the time.


His behavior towards Lili was quite different.


Of course he was "in the know," just like the other colleagues from Paris. Everyone had long since accepted Lili. Because she looked good. And that was the main thing for them as artists. Otherwise, one was discreet.


And the citizenry who put up a "charity ball" after the show saw in Lili – who had remained in her stage outfit at the request of the company – just a "real Parisienne."


Wherever she let herself be seen, everyone treated her with exquisite courtesy. She enjoyed herself sublimely. She was among the most desired woman dancers of the ball. She went from arm to arm.


When she finally could skip a dance, Claude Lejenne -@Editor: #PLC stood before her, making a silly curtsey, then showed the world's most serious face, pinched his monocle even closer to his eye, even blushed a little and then said almost solemnly: "Mademoiselle, may I, as soon as you have relaxed a little, ask for the honor to be your dance partner a couple of times in a row please?"


Lili looked at him somewhat puzzled, nodded. And they danced many times during that night. They were both of the same height. They were a rhythmically perfect pair of dancers. They did not exchange a word while dancing. They danced fully having given themselves to the rhythm.


As the last dance was over, Claude Lejenne bowed deeply before Lili, blushed a little again and said: "Mademoiselle, may I hope that you will grace our communal excursion with your presence tomorrow?"

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The other comrades too asked Lili... And laughingly she agreed. Only the "Parisians" came along on the excursion. Otherwise Lili would not have come. The day went by in the nicest harmony, and the group made plans to meet again in Balgencie at the first of August to spend the holidays together on the banks of the light blue Loire . Lili was invited especially. And she agreed to come, speaking also for her "brother Andreas." That's what Lili called me from there on out. And I had to go along with that.


That night we drove back to Paris.


In August the "Paris gang" as we were called by the locals, partially out of adoration, partially out of dismay, conquered the little town and its delightful beach. The thermometer showed 35 degree Celsius -@Editor: #PLC in the shade. So we oftentimes had to shift our days to nights, which was even more amusing. Because after ten the little town was dark, whether it was lit up by the full moon or under a new moon. Balgencie's so-called high society kept their distance from us, with the exception of Monsieur René, the deputy mayor. The "actual" head of the town had been forced to offload the business of running the town onto Monsieur René's broad shoulders due to a chronic stomach ailment. Monsieur René as everyone in town called him, was a bachelor. He took part in all our nightly roamings through the closer and farther surroundings of "his" town, and it was he who told the town councilmembers during a solemn meeting in city hall that he planned on having a "town festival" for charity at the end of the month, with the help of the "Paris gang." The suggestion was unanimously accepted. The next day formal invitations to work out the festival's program went out to Jehan Tempéte, Grete and me as well as to a few other "celebrities" of our gang. And we decided to have a water pageant, with flower decorated boats down the Loire. And Cupid's boat sailing at the head of the gondola pageant.


Our suggestion was enthusiastically accepted by the fathers of town in the "Hotel de Ville."


Grete received the task to arrange Cupid's boat.

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Monsieur René gave us an old, broad barge as well as a small warehouse on the river including its wine cellar. When the pretty shabby boat had been transformed into Cupid's festive gondola – a giant, red heart was the sail – and after launch took place, it became clear that the vehicle had become somewhat difficult to steer, with the glorious yet heavy decorations on board. The Loire is quite torrential near Balgencie, treacherous winds make sailing dangerous. So Cupid's boat had to be manned by a Cupid capable of swimming well and a similarly capable attendant... And since there was no courageous, capable swimmer among the young ladies of town – Monsieur René had walked his feet sore – I was asked by Jehan Tempéte very discreetly if Lili could not take up the role of Cupid, if Claude Lejenne was assigned to her as "quiver squire." I was known as an excellent swimmer. I agreed in Lili's name. Claude, too, who had become a very good friend to us, was ready for the role of the squire.


And so Lili was dressed up as the boy Cupid on the banks of this ancient little town which Jeanne D'Arc had found her way into, clad in iron and steel as a warrior, centuries earlier.. The festival took place in the most glorious summer weather. The whole populace of the little town stood on the banks of the stream and gave phrenetic ovations to Cupid, who triumphantly drifted down the Loire's mirror-like waters accompanied by the other, equally picturesquely decorated boats. He shot a volley of arrows from his golden bow onto the crowd, a thousand heads strong, standing on the shore. And everyone believed that the "real Parisienne" from the charity festival was behind Cupid's mask...


Claude, as boat and quiver squire had received the task to accompany the masqueraded Lili after the festival through the raving crowds back to the hotel. When he had finally brought her to her room untouched, he looked at her for a long time, and then as if sunken within himself he said to her very quietly: "Cupid, you divine fool, however you disguise yourself and whatever you want to tell me, you still remain
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a real girl..."


He fell silent, startled. Lili looked at him with big eyes.


"What is with you, Claude?" she asked.


He had turned away from her. "Nothing." He said quietly. "Nothing at all. Or maybe something... But if I told Lili what I was thinking all day, her brother Andreas would be quite cross with me..."


And then he went away, and as we saw each other again the next morning, he looked at me meekly and avoided me. Lili had disappeared again.

- - - - - - - -


Year after year we found ourselves back in Balgencie in August. Festivities and excursions followed each other. And here in Balgencie I slowly grew accustomed to Lili's and my double existence. Lili took part in festivities and excursions. I on the other hand painted very diligently, swam and drank quite some bottles of wine with the town's luminaries. I had many, many friends here. All inhabitants of the small town knew me and looked forward to seeing their homes and gardens and themselves in my paintings, which afterwards would be allowed to be shown in the fall exhibitions of Paris. Everyone knew me. And I knew everyone. We were friends. Nobody in the little town sensed who the slender Parisienne really was, who now and then rode her bicycle through the small streets of town and into the countryside with Grete and Claude. These rides are among Lili's happiest memories. At dawn, before any bedroom window had been cracked open, the three went out into the shining world of summer mornings. And they returned only late into the evening, when the little town had already gone to sleep, tired and happy... Claude then was the most delightful knight of Grete and Lili, he was their brother and protector, and the friendship between them grew closer and more lasting, a friendship that weathered every test.


Of course this "triple alliance" was continued in Paris. Claude came by every Sunday. He then was "guest of the atelier" all day. And following an unwritten law, Lili always received him at the door. If on a rare chance she had stayed away, and if I was the one opening the door for him, then we greeted each other
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companionably, shook hands, and he asked me about this and that, but I could still sense his disappointment. In the atelier he then observed, if only fleetingly, my new paintings. Politics and such were touched upon in conversation, and also the latest Paris scandals. But it did not take long, maybe fifteen minutes, and my dear Claude looked at me a little meekly. "Will you please excuse me, I have not said hello to Grete yet." And with that he was in the small kitchen with Grete.


However if Lili was his Sunday door opener, then he went into the kitchen right away. "You understand, we don't want to leave Grete alone with the food," he told me, jokingly.


That reminds me of an event that was happening just during that time.


Claude had come by our place during a weekday evening. Grete was not home. I suggested we go to some fun dance bar in the Quartier Latin. Claude knew all the bars, was a regular everywhere. We ended up at the "Gipsy-Bar," where Claude ordered the "house specialty," namely a "Clou de Cerceuil," -@Editor: #PLC a "coffin nail" in English. This cocktail had a reason for its promising name. A frequent repetition of enjoying this "drink" during one day or one night would shorten one's time here considerably. Maybe this "drink" caused us to try out a new dance Claude had first seen somewhere around here recently. So we danced together. It was the first time, by the way, that he danced with me. Very soon after we had gone through the first steps, the "manager," the "waiter," came rushing towards us and pleaded us to immediately stop this dance. "Ces Messieurs have to excuse this please, he knew us both very well, but in his establishment it is sadly not admissible for two men to dance with each other..."


We explained to the strict man laboriously that it was just the case that the two of us simply wanted to try out a new dance quickly. He replied: "Messieurs, I am desperate, but I have to give my veto. Men must not dance with each other here. If I allow this
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just one single time, and I know, that the two of you are impeccable gentlemen, my establishment will be overrun by certain people, which then would endanger the good reputation of my establishment..."


We sat back down, laughing, ordered a harmless aperitif, and started walking homeward.


The next night Grete, Lili and Claude went back there. Claude had taught the new dance to the two ladies, and shortly after entering the bar, Lili and Claude performed the quite complex dance without error and with exited ovations of the "manager."


Then he stepped to Claude's table, bowed gallantly before Grete and especially before Lili and said: "I hope your friend who I am missing dearly tonight is not begrudgingly avoiding my establishment because of last night's small incident. Monsieur will certainly understand..."


"Oh, we certainly do understand," Claude replied, "and I assure you my friend does not bear a grudge at all."


And the manager turned to Lili: "May I give Madame my deepest compliment. Mademoiselle dances quite charmingly, so charmingly." And then turned to Claude: "Monsieur will admit that Monsieur's partner from last night can't even remotely compare to Mademoiselle..."


In connection to this funny "encounter" I have to briefly talk about another experience that happened around this time as well.


Together with Grete and Claude Lili was the guest of a quite fashionable artist club. The club nights usually were a dinner with subsequent ball. One night Lili went there alone, following Claude's incessant pleading, when Grete was too tired. A lady belonging to our closest, most intimate circle, who knew Lili as well as me, was also there. Nobody in the club had any idea of our double life. She made it her pleasure for the night to introduce Lili to a couple of gentlemen, among which was her cousin, a no longer quite so young count and hussar officer. Until now, Lili had bristled to make new
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acquaintances on these club nights, which were rare for her. She was happy being allowed to dance with Claude. She did not need anything else to be happy. But before she could defend herself, the girlfriend had brought over her cousin: "My cousin, le Compte de Trempe.... La Baronne Lili de Courtaud!" The very elegant count immediately asked Lili to dance a foxtrot with him. Several more dances followed that one. Lili could not defend herself. Claude just nodded along amusedly. And so it came that Lili danced the night away with her new cavalier. As she exhaustedly said her goodbyes "for now," he, with the most solemn face in the world, asked for the award of being allowed to visit "Madame la Baronne" in the following days, who as his cousin had whispered to him, was visiting Grete for a few days. What else could Lili do but play along?...


When Lili came home, Grete was fast asleep.


The next morning, just as Lili had told her of her "conquest in the club," the doorbell rings. The count has appeared, apologizes profusely, - Grete had opened the door, - if he was intruding... he just wanted to take the opportunity to ask about the well-being of her guest, the "Lady Baroness Lili de Courtaud."


Grete apologized sincerely that her visitor had already left, and led the count into her atelier... There he then discovered Lili in several paintings, in the flesh... He was beside himself with joy. If he could be allowed to await the baroness' return. Grete was sorry that this was a useless endeavor, since her visitor, who was by the way her sister-in-law, had been invited to dinner by friends...


"Oh," the count exclaimed, "so your dear husband, Monsieur Sparre, is the brother of the Lady Baroness..."


In her distress Grete has to admit this "fact."


"When might I have the pleasure of visiting Monsieur Sparre," the count asked, almost excitedly.


Grete promised to give him news through his cousin...


The following day,- we were sitting down for tea with friends in our
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atelier, – we had just related Lili's involuntary experience, – when the doorbell rang again. -The count!


"I am sincerely delighted," he begins immediately and ceremoniously, "to pay you my respects," I barely find time to get him indoors, "As I told Madame Sparre I made the acquaintance of your sister the day before yesterday, the charming baroness, and I am quite invested in seeing her again..."


Of course now it became a little difficult to maintain my composure.


But I succeeded in maintaining it, and replied: "My sister will certainly be sad to again be denied the pleasure of squeezing your hand, Monsieur..."


Grete and our tea-time visitor had a hard time smothering a Homeric outburst. I had to throw them a scolding glance. - And then I continued: "Sadly one sees little of my sister these days... She is getting invited everywhere... many idolize her... and rarely comes home before midnight..."


"Yes, I quite understand that," the count said, then looked at me quizzically, I felt my heart like an anvil quaking from hammer blows, and then he spoke very slowly, every word accompanied by a twitch of his monocle, and fixating me directly: "It is strange, by the way, that you are siblings. Madame de Courtaud does not bear the slightest similarity to you, dear Sir."


I agreed vehemently, sent a begging glance to Grete to keep her composure... Because just as I had gotten my reassurance that my sister and I didn't resemble one another at all, "detailed" through a true deluge of words, the count openly asked me the question, if my sister was, as his cousin had related to him, not engaged to anyone, and truly still free...


Which I foolishly did not deny.


To which he reacted with an exemplary bow and the immediate declaration: "Monsieur, then it shall be my honor to, with these very words, ask for the hand of the Lady Baroness in marriage."


I had difficulty keeping myself upright in my chair, thanked him in the name of my sister, and promised to pass on his honorary proposal. - Following this, he left, while exchanging
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countless compliments...


And a moment later our atelier was shaken by the droning laughter of Grete and our tea-time visitor...


I wasn't laughing. The experience Lili had made at the ball went too far for my taste. I was thinking of an escape...


"It's simple," Grete exclaimed, tears pearling out of her eyes from laughing, "I will have the cousin whisper to the good count that his beloved had to head over heels and very suddenly depart to Copenhagen to attend to some urgent family matter. And that it had been impossible to delay her departure, with a return to Paris unthinkable as of now.


And so it happened. A few postcards which we got to his address through a friend in Copenhagen , who then also had to forge Lili's "handwriting," succeeded in convincing him of the "futility" of his courtship...


He never got to know what mystery was connected with Madame la Baronne le Courtaut .

- - - -


The scene that happened a few months later in Copenhagen, where we were visiting my sister and brother-in-law, would seem even stranger.


My young niece had seen several pictures of Lili and wanted to finally meet this strange person "in real life." It was finally decided that she should join us on a Sunday afternoon when my parents and relatives were over for tea time. My parents had seen neither Grete nor me for a few years. Father and Mother were somewhat disappointed when they heard upon arrival that I would join later, since I had to make a very important visit beforehand. Suddenly the doorbell rings. The maid reports there was a French lady in the hallway who wanted to talk to Grete Sparre... The lady is led inside, - her dress was very fancy, Grete greeted her warmly... This was a friend from Paris... who unfortunately only spoke French, she said... Father immediately started a conversation in French with her, which made Mother, who had him translate everything for her,
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very proud.


During the conversation Mother suddenly called Father's attention to the fact that the lady from Paris should not be standing so close to the window. - It was the middle of winter.- "Don't forget," she said, caringly observing the lady from Paris, to Father, "the lady comes from a much milder climate and is dressed so thinly. Ask her to sit down close to the fireplace."


Then tea was served. And Father and Mother had the foreign visitor tell them the latest news from Paris.


"The Parisienne" had kept Mother and Father in suspense for a whole hour. And when I finally dropped the disguise, Mother and Father literally clasped their hands above their heads, and didn't want to believe their own eyes.


"No, no," Mother kept repeating long after, "that Andreas and Mademoiselle Lili are the one and the same being... I can barely believe it..."

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And so the two us, Lili and me, kept living our double existence, lived happy and content into the day, - and none of us all, neither the "initiates" nor myself, saw in this as anything other than a pleasant kind of distraction and entertainment, a kind of artist's mood, nothing more, nothing less... And just as little did we get distraught by the apparently increasing difference that began to show between me and the mythical girl, just as nobody gave any serious thought to the quiet changes, that slowly started showing in the shape of my body.


But quietly something had been preparing within me...


One night I suddenly said to Grete:


"I can't really imagine a life any more without Lili. If Lili were to stay away forever, I mean, when she is no longer young and pretty. Because then she has no more reason for living."


Grete looked at me surprised. Then she nodded and said in her calm, thoughtful way: "strange... You are touching on something there that I have been thinking about a lot recently."


Then she became very serious, and finally continued speaking, as if looking for the right words. She was plagued by remorse because she herself had to some extent been the cause of Lili's creation, for conjuring her up, for creating her, and thus guilty of this disharmony within me, that showed itself the most pronounced on the days when Lili does not appear...


I listened attentively to Grete's words. It was as if she showed me a mirror...


"It sometimes happens," she kept talking quietly agitated, "it sometimes happens when she is modeling for me, that it is her more than anything that I am creating and forming, - more than the girl I show on my canvas. Sometimes it seems as if there was something here, that has become stronger than us, something that makes us powerless, that wants to push us aside,
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as if it wanted to take revenge on us for playing with her... The ghosts we conjured up, no longer want to let us ban them..."


Grete broke off, tears stood in her eyes, she wrapped her arms around me, like a mother. "We have come upon a slippery slope and I don't know where to stop anymore..." she almost cried out. I tried to calm her. But I couldn't do it. Not immediately. But then I began to speak and she listened to me. "You see," I began, "what you are saying is right, and it is scary how right it is, and the most dangerous thing of all, is that I feel how it is Lili, especially Lili, who keeps us together, so that we stayed together for all the years... I don't believe I could survive her."


Grete interrupted me: she was thinking the same thing... so often... Because Lili embodied our youth and joy of life. And then Grete was sobbing and stammering: "I sometimes ask myself what life would be like without her."


We stared at each other, deeply shaken by this mutual confession, that had been the result of many weeks of rumination.


"Anyway, I can't see," Grete began anew, "how the two of us could carry on without Lili ...we can't lose her. Not see her anymore all of a sudden..., that would be like murder."


"Yes," I replied, "All the more since I feel that she is about to become more vital than I am."


Maybe this conversation had been prompted by a complete lack of courage in me. My health had been splendid all those years. Although I never looked quite robust, I had never really been sick, and had been otherwise able to endure all kinds of physical activity. -But in recent time I had not been well, which most of the time showed in complete fatigue. On top of that, I did not do well with the rainy and cold winters that Paris had experienced for a few years in a row. I was coughing from late fall to spring without pause. And so must have sunken into
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troubled thoughts. You can't stay young forever, I thought. And I thought of Lili. She shared her body with me. She is a woman. For her being young meant a lot more than for me.


My mood became gloomier and gloomier. I had been a naturally happy person until that point. Especially for as long as I was living in Paris. That was over now. I felt without energy for days, weeks and months. I lacked the energy for work. Everyone who had known me all those years, knew that I had been a workaholic up to that time. -I no longer understood myself.


In between there were recurring lighter periods. -Every time I could live in the countryside, far from Paris, to collect motifs. Especially in Balgencie. But that did not go on for much longer. I became more and more tired, more and more listless. I did not know what to do with myself. It was an unbearable condition.


Grete became anxious. She convinced me to visit a doctor. I indulged her. The doctor failed to find anything out of the ordinary, prescribed some reinvigorating medicine for the nerves. It didn't help. A new doctor was consulted. With the same results. And so on.


But when Lili appeared, she was doing fine, life was beautiful again. All gloom was gone.


Which was why she now came out as often as possible. She had acquired her own circle of friends and acquaintances, she had her own memories and habits, that had absolutely nothing to do with me anymore. Often she stuck around for several days in a row. And then she happily sat together with Grete, and often by herself too -- with crafts, sewing, crocheting, smiling to herself. She loved these womanly activities so much, that she sometimes went into a room by herself to dream away, sunken into her crafts... Nobody understood this mystery. Not Grete, not Elena. Everyone regarded this enigmatic being Lili, who was building up her own world around her, with a shake of the head and astonishment. But they let Lili be. She was happy.


One event that happened back then, would, faster than
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people thought, become the prelude to the last period of this incessant and merciless inner struggle between Lili and myself. And for a long time it seemed neither of us two would survive this struggle.


My friend Johannes Poulsen -@Editor: #PLC from the Royal Theater in Copenhagen was on tour in Paris for several days. Since his wife, the famous dancer Ulla Poulsen -@Editor: #PLC, accompanied him, there was also supposed to be a ballet performance. The ballet corps was not very big. One dancer was missing. So Johannes, who knew me to be a quite decent dancer, asked me if I wanted to jump in. Of course I said yes.


I had overexerted myself at ballet rehearsal, which was taking very long. In any case, I was having strange bleedings for the first time. Most of the time it was a nosebleed, but of such a strange kind, that Grete became afraid for my well being, and asked me to give up my role. I bristled against this. Under no circumstances was I to embarrass my old friend. I endured, although these bleedings recurred after the premiere and every subsequent show. And the most incomprehensible thing was, that I succumbed to nervous crying fits each time, which were completely new to me... But after such an attack, I felt liberated... as if something within me had loosened from its torpor, as if something new, something never before felt was stirring. My whole mind seemed renewed. As if a dam had broken.


Music never had left such a stirring, shaking impression with me, as it did on those evenings. A painfully sweet and yet relaxing experience, that captured all of my senses, that's how music affected me... It moved me to tears... and out of these tears came a crying fit.


A complete reversal of my being occurred during these nights. So far, I had been bossy and "looked down my nose" on other people. Before the first rehearsals I felt as if I myself was abandoning me. I was
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surprised. I no longer recognized myself. I was gripped by a strong urge to bow down, to submit myself to another's will, to submit myself unconditionally. I was possessed by this urge. – Johannes, my old friend and drinking buddy played, next to Ulla, the leading role that night. A year earlier the three of us had had been very merry together in Copenhagen. I would have never thought of playing a submissive role towards him, to acknowledge him as the leading man. Absolutely not.-


But now during those nights, from the first rehearsal on, I submitted myself to him slavishly. He didn't find one word of disagreement within me. And not just that. – If he asked me to do this or that differently, to bow down a bit more or less during some specific figure and so forth, I would blush like a little boy.


And when he then even touched me, I was so confused, I didn't know where to put my eyes. –


In spite of all the mental chaos that I felt at the time, there was nothing remotely erotic in it. Johannes and I were completely healthy creatures in that regard. I could not discover what it was. It just was like that. And it was not me who recognized this turn to demureness first, as Grete called it, but Grete. She teased me with that, smilingly. But behind her smile she hid boundless astonishment.


I was wearing my dancing regalia for the first time for the dress rehearsal: a tight fitting leotard, a bolero, a short jacket and a wig with short curls. After the dress rehearsal, as I was standing in the dirty, dark corridor that was substituting for the wardrobe of the theater, in the process of taking my make-up off, a group of mercenaries, who also belong to the ballet troupe, walks by, their swords rattling. One of them gave me a soft slap.


"It suits you admirably well to play a role in trousers, Mademoiselle!" the guy grinned.


As I turn around in an energetic protestation, the guys chicken out and yell at me: "There is so much bluff these days, ma petite Demoiselle..."

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A few minutes later I have to go back on stage. As Johannes sees me, he screws up his face in a cozy grin and shouts with laughter: "No, children, that doesn't work this way. Now we have too many ladies!"


At first I don't understand anything, turn around baffled, all eyes are on me, grinning, I tumble out the door, my head red as a turkey's, into the arms of a costumier, hold him tight and plead with him to ‘costume me more like a man, the good director wishes it.'


He tried it with one of his colleagues' help, to the whinnying laughter of the two philistines. And I pulled myself together and pretended as if all of this left me completely untouched.


The night before the premiere I encountered a pretty muscularly built actor, who has to dance along in the ballet wearing the same costume I was wearing. As he notices me, he scrutinized me with his gaze from head to toe and then bursts out angrily: "My God, man, you -@Translator: #SW look impossible..."


I am speechless, want to sink into the earth. If a man had told me something like that earlier, I would have knocked him out. But now I could not do anything but to look around with empty eyes, helplessly and baffled...


When I tell Grete everything later, she confesses that she too has noticed a curious change in the contours of my body. I looked like a woman in disguise in this dancer's costume...


In the following time my anxiety took up a pathological character. I was afflicted by these strange bouts of depression with strong bleedings in almost regular intervals. These were accompanied by intense pains. And on top of that these never before known crying spells. First I thought I had torn some inner organ when dancing. Grete too believed this. That's why we went to see a doctor we were friends with, who was actually a cardiologist and who technically wasn't competent for my assumed ailment. But he had known me for years. But he did not know anything of Lili. Only our "most intimates"
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knew of Lili... This doctor was not among them. Which is why I did not tell him of my double life..., even though I myself had begun to guess a connection between this and my physical state.


Since he did not find anything after a thorough examination that could explain the strange occurrences of the recent time, he and I went to see a young specialist, whom I actually knew in passing from Versailles. This doctor examined my form thoroughly and with growing astonishment, and finally concluded that he could observe strange irregularities in my innards. And also he explained that the only thing to do in this case was to wait and be in good spirits, since my physical constitution was healthy and unspent; with such a body one could still withstand taxing things.


Without this doctor having said anything specific or direct, this visit still gave me confidence and an almost mythical sense of hope...


I was absolutely clear about something extraordinary going on in me. This I could read in the doctor's face, without his words giving me reason for such an assumption.


And now I began, - as many sick people do who don't quite know what exactly ails them, - to procure all kinds of scientific books on sex-related problems. I had acquired specialized knowledge in this field in a short amount of time, and I knew some things now, that the laymen would never even dream of. But it became increasingly clear to me, that nothing of all of the things relating to normal men and women was applicable to my mysterious condition.


And so it happened that I came to my own opinion, namely that in my one body I was both man as well as woman, and that the woman in this body was about to gain the upper hand. From this guess I deduced the cause of the disturbances both physical and mental, which ailed me increasingly.

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I confessed all of this to Grete. She understood my seeking and my search for clarity on my more and more unbelievable condition. And when, encouraged by her, I put forth my theory to the most different array of doctors in Paris and Versailles, I was not just met with shaking heads but even with some derision. The most courteous of them treated me indulgently for all kinds of ailments, the others viewed me as a hysteric or simply as a madman.


It was a terrible time. A nightmare without end. My health was going downhill, I barely could find any sleep any longer. Grete was the only one who unwaveringly believed in my theory. It was her who helped me again and again to not lose faith in one day finding salvation.


Exactly a year ago in April we went south again, to Italy. Grete believed that a change of air, especially during the wet and humid Paris spring, when it was mostly pretty rainy in Paris, would do me well. The French winter had been unusually cold. The whole of March was rainy. Beyond the Alps we found the world in bloom.


We traveled directly to Rome. There we had arranged a meeting with an Italian officer we had met in Florence years before. Since then we had been in correspondence with each other. He had just returned from the Orient -@Translator: #SW after long, colonial service for a vacation back home. He was waiting for us at the train station, and brought us to our hotel, where we quickly changed clothes, to go out for dinner somewhere in the city. I was limitlessly exhausted after the long train ride and had indescribable pain, - but I did not want to ruin Grete's or our friend's day. So I came along.


We sat at "Facciano." The mild evening chill wafted in through the door... from the beautiful Piazza Colonna, where one can see the white column shimmer in the red façade of the Palazzo Chigi, and the colonnade of "Biffi," where one can hear the hoarse cries of the newspapermen, after which one no longer needs to buy an issue. And the orchestra plays its hit songs...

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I will never forget that night.


Grete sat opposite of me. Beaming. With a dreamy smile now and then.


Something jolted through me... She suddenly looked as if she was barely 25 years old. All the tiredness was as if spirited away. And next to her sat our friend Ridolfo Feruzzi, beaming as Grete did. When we first got to know him years ago he seemed to be destined to only be a superficial acquaintance. Back then he was a newly made lieutenant. "Il bello tenente Feruzzi" everyone called him back then... Back then ... It was during our first trip to Italy... When we separated then, it seemed like it would be forever. Until his letters from the distant colony arrived with us in Paris... Most of them addressed to Grete.


A deep melancholy stole over me. I had to think of back then and the years that had passed. And a little about myself. What had happened to me?-


I pulled myself together. The blonde "Orvieto" had to help me. A thousand questions were asked. Just as many were answered. "Do you still remember this person and that person... Where did he end up... And Miss X... What happened to her... Do you remember the night at Lapi... that evening in the casino -@Editor: #PLC... And the night after in the movie theater on Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele... All the old names, the beloved well-known places and moods resurfaced... I saw everything in front of me as if it were today... And here I was sitting with Grete and Ridolfo Feruzzi and smiled as they did... And now and then their smile belonged to them alone... And they looked as they did back then... Years ago, when still young. But I smiled along. But it was a just a forced smile. My old love of life was broken. I had changed... had become someone else... had become a person without courage.


There in Rome, now a year ago, in that most magnificent city in the world, between the rust-red walls and trickling fountains, back then I finally realized that I had not just changed, but that I was finished, done. Irrevocably done. This mild and at the same time cruel Roman spring became a sort of overture for my final act... I felt that back then, I knew it, like something you can not change.

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Grete and I had rented an atelier with a broad terrace full of flowers close to the Piazza di Spagna. This sunny home in the immediate vicinity of one of Rome's most beautiful squares belongs among my most unforgettable memories. I was sick every day. Every day... Meanwhile all the roses and all the many orange trees were in bloom outside our atelier window.


Now and then Lili appeared. But she too had lost her carefree nature. She cried, cried every time. She understood how good life could be. She felt that I had to die.


Now and then Grete cried too. She was so strong otherwise. Also in Rome. She tried to paint. But nothing would come of it. If I lay awake next to her at night, I noticed, how she too was lying there with her eyes wide awake.


We spent the nights with Feruzzi usually. Slowly his nature too changed. A sickly melancholia pressed on him more and more, even though he tried being upbeat. Once he could no longer hold it in. He said, he basically had failed in his life. He could understand people who, after coming to this conclusion, went into a monastery for their final refuge... Such people existed in the twentieth century, too... I noticed that he meant these words seriously ...


And then I had to think of Grete. Hadn't she too failed in her life? Had she not sacrificed herself so I wasn't alone, – because she felt that I had become a sick man, - because she knew that she was the only one who understood me? I knew her loyalty and her attachment to me. I knew no earthly force could move her to leave me, - today less than ever. – She was still young now... She still had time to catch up with many, many things she missed for my sake.


For me life no longer had any appeal. I know it is the wrong word – for the others. But for me it says and encompasses everything. Why should I keep dragging myself onward? No doctor understood what was wrong with me, nobody could help me. To live on, sick and old ahead of time.... The most horrible thought for me. I thought it all through, completely unpassionately. Without remorse for myself. Completely calm and rational. And so the thought became self-evident: better to die. Then Grete would be free.
[Page 87]
Then life can give her many rich years still.


Back then, on that night in Rome I made a decision. That is still valid today. Only one can change it.


It was May back then. I gave myself a one year period. If I couldn't find a doctor within that time who could help me, - who wants to try to save Lili, - to separate her from me, oh I know how difficult it is for others, to understand these words, separate Lili from me, - but how else am I supposed to put it into words?- ... Yes, if I don't find this helper before next May, then I myself will in all quietness say goodbye to this existence, even if the other being, that had to share my body with me, will have to share this fate with me. I even put down the date. It should be the first of May. That was when this double execution was supposed to take place... And it should happen in a discreet way, to spare Grete as much as we both could, Lili and me.


Grete... How to spare her... That was the most difficult thing of all. I knew all too well, how Grete would react to a violent end of my life. But in spite of all ruminations and misgivings about the best, most loyal friend of my life I saw there was no other way out for me, - it would still be a salvation - for us both. And certainly the only one possible.


When I had made that decision, I felt a kind of relief. At least I knew now that there would be an end to this anguish, in the near future.


My health deteriorated from day to day. And the moment came in which Grete accepted that I could not stay in Rome any longer, and that a return to Paris, where we knew some diligent doctors, was urgently necessary.


Boundlessly depressed we left Rome,- and Ridolfo Feruzzi, on a sunny spring morning, much, much earlier than planned.


In Paris, in this familiar surrounding, my condition apparently improved. Again we went to see a few specialists. But always with negative results. Finally a radiologist agreed to treat me. It almost cost me my life, - and I would have almost been
[Page 88]
relieved of the necessity to carry out the execution on that agreed upon first of May.


Since the Paris summer became too hot, we moved to Versailles again, close to the park. Our life proceeded as it did before. Neither Grete nor I loved to make much of our weal and woe, of our joys and sorrows. Work is the best doctor I told myself. And so I went out with my painter's easel and paintbox into the park, as frequently as my condition allowed. And as often as she liked to, Lili appeared and tried to divert Grete and me.


The only one who clearly recognized my condition was Claude Lejeune. He was the only consoler for us. He felt very quietly, without saying many words, what hid behind the seeming calm that Grete and I and - Lili displayed to him during his visits. When he came over on Sundays merriment ruled as it did before.


If we didn't have Claude Lejeune back then...


He, like Grete, had long since understood that the only thing that was still vital within me was Lili... Both believed this unwaveringly. And this was why both encouraged Lili to come as often as she wanted. –


Claude Lejeune often went on long walks through the park of Versailles with her... The two of them made plans for the future.


On one such night, as the setting sun set all windows of the palace and the mirror calm surfaces of the ponds ablaze, the two of them strolled across the terrace. Suddenly they heard a woman say to her company in passing: "Look, two happy people!"


This night even Claude Lejeune couldn't find his happy laugh again.

- - - -


Most of our friends and acquaintances grasped my condition more clearly than all doctors we had consulted so far. Of course their condolences were limited to words. But at the same time their words gave me a moral stability... They saw in me a burdened human being whose suffering was a true
[Page 89]
martyrdom, and not, as the French doctors explained again and again, imagination and hysteria...


This way I met an old, French painter in Trianon one day. We had known each other for years, but had not seen each other for some time. He asked sympathetically how I was doing, - I replied evasively without letting him in on anything in the slightest.


To my surprise he replied then. "I have watched you for a long time, without you noticing me. Here in the park when you were painting. There I noticed the change you went through in the past few years. Back in the day you appeared fresh, straight, like a healthy man. – Nothing compared to now, - excuse me for saying this, - you seem to me like a girl in disguise... You are sick... You are very sick indeed. There is a radical change going on inside you. A fantastical thought. But even things that never were can become fact tomorrow. We have known cases of inversion for a long time. The doctors were able to manage those. So why shouldn't you be able to find similar help. Hopefully you will find a courageous doctor with a good imagination... That is what everything depends on... Of course where is a poor painter supposed to get such a giant fee for such an expert... Let's hope that you will still find a man who will take you on for humane and scientific reasons."


These and similar expressions of understanding were like a small oasis during my trek through the desert, and they gave me courage and power to carry on my hopeless search for a savior.


In this last summer in Versailles I began to recognize that people often looked after me with bewilderment, on the street, in the park, wherever I walked or stood, - even in stores I used to frequent for years. I had noticed this in Paris, too, now and then in the past few years... But not to the extent it now happened in Versailles. By the way, Parisians are the best behaved, most indifferent, most blasé people in the world, while the people of Versailles are simply small town folk.

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One morning as I wanted to use a passage through the Hotel des Reservoir, to get to the park more quickly, a couple of young waiters are standing there.


I barely pay attention to them, and have already passed. Then I hear the words spoken behind me, in original Copenhagen slang: "Would'ya look at that, a nice lass who put on pants to go paint." -@Translator: #SW


By the way, the hotels of Versailles are full of Danish waiters, - I know not why. Maybe, because German and Austrian waiters were hired there before the war, because of their language skills.


Enough. I pretended not to have heard anything, and kept walking, ruminated on the meaning of this compliment, - and it began to dawn on me why I was raising as much attention as I did recently.


A few days later the wife of our concierge , who we got along with splendidly, stops me to tell me the following: "Monsieur please don't be cross me with me when I tell Monsieur that the clerk at the shop here in the district where Madame and Monsieur go shopping does not want to believe that Monsieur is a Monsieur." She stood there, eyes and lips wide open, as I replied, smiling: "Ma brave Dame, I am inclined to agree with the shopkeepers!"


This and similar incidents showed me that the situation began to become paradoxical. Lili could not be allowed to show herself on the street, since she and I shared a body, - although not a single human soul took note of her if she decided to show herself among people, except for occasional "pursuers." I however was gawked at everywhere I went, even though I was correctly dressed as a man, and going my way with wide manly paces, - and people thought me a girl in disguise...


It was impossible to bear.


In the fall, when we returned to Paris, I noticed that here too I was beginning to draw attention, even though that came to expression in more subtle ways. In the metro or on the bus or on the tram I often caught glances or words from people
[Page 90]
that were watching me. Although I wanted to ignore their remarks, I could comprehend what they were saying from just a few fragments of words, and understood enough to convince myself that they shared the opinion of the shopkeeper in Versialles -@Editor: #PLC. With my deep knowledge of the Parisians it quickly became doubly clear to me that I was really in the process of becoming more of an attention magnet, - and that fact made me more and more nervous, - my nerves, damaged from years of suffering were in an uproar: they could no longer bear seeing me followed by inquisitive, curious, grinning gazes. This harassment from my fellow human beings depressed me to no end.


And so I went to see our cardiologist friend anew. Grete had been seeing him a few days earlier and had tried to explain my and Lili's double life to him, - and he had promised her to lead me to another specialist in Versailles, - even though he personally saw everything as an obsession of mine and solely a "pathological imagination without any physiological basis."


"Your husband is healthy. His body is normal. I speak from a deep knowledge, from thorough analysis of his body, Madame," that was his last word on that matter...


That new visit to the new specialist in Versailles would be my last experiment, or so I had promised Grete and myself, before we were to be on our way. On arrival, I immediately had the impression that the two doctors had already arranged their plan of attack: they wanted to try to expel my "hysterical whimsies". After a superficial conversation I was told I was a completely normally built man, who had nothing wrong with him, who just should try to pull himself together to prove himself a man with good spirits and good humor, so he could keep on living the life of a regular human being, masculini generis...


I was being regarded during the dispensation of that deep verdict with barely suppressed irony: I was regarded a hysteric, simply a dissimulator, and one of the two, the "new specialist" hinted that I would basically be - homosexual. That intimation almost made me forget
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my self-control and my good upbringing. If Grete had not saved the situation with a bright burst of laughter and had not rejected this suggestion as patently absurd, I would have literally and figuratively gone for the throats of these reckless gentlemen.


After this hopeless consultation that was deeply depressing for me as well as for Grete, I noticed soon after how I had used up my last remaining reserves of power. And I swore to myself quietly that there would from now on not be a force in world strong enough to make me go see new doctors.


I did not want to be degraded to the mockery of those gentlemen doctors.


I told myself: since my case is completely unknown in the history of the medical arts, it simply does not exist, was not allowed to exist. My and with that Lili's death sentence was certain with that. Now all that mattered was maintaining as decent and noiseless a patience as possible, until the short term that I had given myself was up.


On the outside, nothing about our lives in the atelier changed. I was often in a carefree mood even, first and foremost when friends or acquaintances were over, but especially towards Grete, since I was afraid she could see through me. She was not doing well, I could see that through all her being. She pulled herself together, showed me a smiling expression most of the time, behind which she believed herself able to hide her fear and desolation. She had become so restless. Oftentimes whenever she believed I was not watching her, she looked at me quizzically, so that I feared that she suspected my plans...


In those weeks I only had one desire: listening to music. I no longer wanted to go to concerts. Not to see any people. This was why I bought gramophone records in a truly wasteful manner. Classical and modern music, all kinds of things. And in the evenings deep into the nights I played our gramophone. Like a man dying of thirst I devoured everything that was music. Bright and tragic, banal and ceremonious, melodic and unharmonious music, - as long as it was music. It was my solace,
[Page 92]
my only consolation, whether it moved me to tears or prompted me to sing along with one of the latest pop songs a dozen times, or even to ask Grete to dance with me. I lived off music back then. If I couldn't sleep, I ran towards it. If I didn't want to open my eyes in the morning, then Grete brought the gramophone from the atelier to my bedside.


Schubert's immortal song "To the Music" ... how often had this most moving of all hymns to life helped me to be patient a bit longer. There was nothing, nothing, that could be smilingly dismissed with the word sentimentality. There is nothing sentimental in me. I was never less sentimental than I was then. I just felt unendingly lost, subjected to a fate that transcended descended human understanding. The language of the soul itself, the language of sounds freed me from having to speak myself, from having to give form to my inconsolable ruminations. Not to think myself, not to clad thoughts in words, was my daily, nightly cry for help...


Earlier I had found distraction in reading. I had put together entire libraries in our atelier... Now I no longer opened up any books. What could the fates of strange beings tell me, since I could not find solace from any of the beings in these books, that was a being like me. No poet could have written poetry about such a being, since no poet ever thought that such a being could have ever lived. How could the philosophers of the Greeks and of the present help me, who only tell us of thinking of the male and the thinking of the female in separate bodies and brains and souls? Plato's banquet... Earlier I had found sanctuary there. Plato knew of people on the margins of both worlds of feeling, the one of the man and the one of the woman, that they are mixed beings. But here in my sickly body there lived two beings, separate from one another, not related to one another, hostile to one another, even if they had compassion for one another, since they knew that this body only had room for one of them. One of these two beings had to perish, to disappear, or both had to die.


Madness touched me in those nights, madness that had grasped
[Page 93]
that this body which I was torturing myself with, with no hope of salvation, was not mine, was not mine alone, that my part of this body shrank from day to day, since it was encapsulating a being within that for the price of my existence was demanding its own existence. I felt like a fraud, like an usurper, who ruled over a body, that long since was no longer his. I felt like one, who only owns the façade of a house. Madness to think this thought to its conclusion, since there was no end for it, if not this one end: to not be. And I no longer wanted to be.

- - -


Now and then Lili still appeared. And Grete was delighted about her appearance every time. Lili was happier than I. Both knew that. And Lili knew that she could console Grete with that. Now and then she remained for several days on Grete's pleading. Grete could bear the nights more easily together with Lili. Lili could more easily fall asleep. And once she slept, Grete could fall asleep too. Lili often cried without Grete noticing. Lili had always had her own dream world. She had always had such happy dreams. Now her dreams had disappeared. They had been back only a few nights. And every dream had been the continuation of another. It was winter. She dreamed of approaching spring, that had a lot of sun. She told Grete of these dreams. But she often felt they were just dreams. And then she became afraid. But the night after, an even more beautiful dream dispersed her fears again. Grete secretly noted her dreams down in a diary, she once told me. And she phrased it in a way as if she had just let me in on a secret.


Lili basically dreams up a novel for you, I replied to her and turned away, empty.


But this dream novel became the favorite topic of conversation for Grete and Lili during those dark days, and these conversations were the only thing that gave Grete and Lili strength and kept their hope alive, their burning hope that a wonder, a marvel could still happen.

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And then it was February. Elena and Ernesto had again come to Paris. And then one morning Elena took me to a strange man from Germany , who then brought me here.


Today it is the third of March. In about two months it is the first of May. That is the irrevocable, farthest time. After that there will be no Andreas Sparre left. Whether or not Lili will survive that day and live her own life, that lies now entirely in Werner Kreutz' hands."

- - - - - -

Page 95



When Andreas stepped into his hotel, it was almost morning. An icy cold March morning.


He stood at the window of his hotel room for a long time, looking down on the almost empty plaza in front of the train station. A few automated cabs stood there. A few late-night strollers. And the shimmering glow of the glass wall of the long building of the station. A pale, tired glow. Only the morning air was awake.


Shivering he closed the window.


He was very tired. But it was a comforting tiredness, - like after a long, tiring march with a heavy burden carried on one's back.


The march was over. The burden no longer pressed on his back. In the past night he had confessed his life to his friend. This odd, mysterious double existence of Lili and him, ineffable even to himself.


He slowly disrobed. He stood in front of the mirror, naked. He had to think of the words he said that night: I am like one who only owns the façade of a house. His mirror image showed only the façade... It was the immaculate body of a man.


What was behind that façade?...


No, no more questions now.


Just sleep, for a few good, deep hours.


His journey was behind him. He was at his destination now. Beyond that, there was no more journey left for him. He was done. If there was a new beginning behind his end of the journey, it would only be a beginning for - - Lili.


He was ready.


That knowledge of himself gave him both a sense of security and calm and equanimity.


With a pure, yes, elated happiness he woke up after a few hours, took a bath, ate breakfast, punctually went to the last visits to different doctors, was in good spirits and almost carefree. "Now I am like a traveler without any baggage," he told himself, "like one who is on vacation from his true self." Standing in the middle of Leipziger Strasse, he heard a child's voice whisper: "Look there mamma, a woman in men's clothes..." He turns around, looks
[Page 96]
into two shocked, blue girl's eyes, possibly a ten-year-old with thick, blonde braids; the little one turns ruby red and clutched hold of her mother's arm, who looks at him as baffled as her daughter and hurriedly walks on with the child.


He, too, has turned ruby red, he feels. This time he did not smile. An odd, hard defiance rose within him. Like a rearing up of the man in him. Without wanting to do it himself or even knowing it, he stopped in front of a shop's window, observing his own mirror image inquisitively in the blue window pane. Annoyed he turned away. "None of my business anymore. None of my business anymore." He repeated that sentence several times, defiantly, then looked at his watch, it was half past four in the afternoon, at five he should be at the M. Sanatorium, with Professor G.


He found himself at Potsdamer Platz, went to the post office, searched in the giant telephone book for the number of Baroness Schildt, whom he had wanted to visit, previously, and had himself be connected. She was not at home. Hurriedly he bought a pneumatic tube letter, despatched a few brief lines: "Dearest Baroness, please don't be mad if you don't see me again. In a few minutes I will take a cab and will arrange my own funeral: Tomb of M. sanatorium. Whatever happens, please keep me in your heart. And if Lili should survive alone, don't leave her all alone. I know that not all my men friends will be her friends. But my women friends... I would like to leave them to her..."


He threw the letter in the sack of the postman, who was just in the process of emptying the blue postbox. He handed the good man a Reichsmark. The man looked at him baffled. Before the man could thank him, Andreas had already hopped into the next cab, gave the chauffeur the exact address of the clinic, and stepped into the sanatorium five o'clock precisely.


There he was received by a pretty "sister." Immediately he was lead to the head of the clinic, a quite young, blond, almost athletically built man, who observed him with his smart, buoyant, bright blue eyes. He also noted some curiosity in the doctor.


"I just had a long phone conversation with my dear colleague Kreutz
[Page 97]
about your case," the doctor began right away, "which means I am fully informed. Before that I had a briefing with colleague A., who was the first to examine you here in Berlin. Colleague A. will be present during the procedure I will have to perform. I would like to converse with you now, briefly, too. A personal impression is necessary."


Andreas replied very matter-of-factly: "Please, Professor, ask away." But the doctor preferred a visual examination to all questions, asked Andreas to disrobe and to lie down on a prepared examination divan of the kind that he had now gotten to know thoroughly in Berlin.


"Yes," the doctor then concluded after a careful analysis of his figure," "you are indeed absolutely what you present as in ordinary life, a correctly built man, but still your body does show a certain female form, undoubtedly. A curious phenomenon, I have to admit. I am astonished by the overall findings..." And while Andreas got dressed again, the surgeon paced back and forth, observed the patient without pause, glanced at his day book and then said: "I know you are in a hurry. Then return tomorrow morning..."


"That doesn't quite work, since tomorrow morning I am supposed to be photographed before the surgery by Dr. M. H., as requested by Professor Kreutz."


"Good," Professor G. explained, after again glancing at his journal, "four o'clock in the afternoon also works... Today is Monday... So I will operate on you tomorrow, Tuesday night..."


"Agreed, doctor," Andreas practically shouted the words with excitement. The next moment, following a hard handshake with his helper, he was back out – outside.

- - - -


"So we have a last respite," he said quietly to himself, looked at his watch, it was almost half past six... A cab stopped nearby. He told the chauffeur the name of his hotel – and spent this very last night alone with himself in his hotel room. He felt, sensed, that he could not ask any more of his nerves or of his body, -
[Page 98]
the last night he spent awake, the conversation earlier, the loud, foreign, giant city around him.


"I am no longer a player now ... I am just on duty now... for Lili... I have to save up now..." Those were his last thoughts, before he, - it wasn't even eight o'clock, - sank into a dreamless sleep on the foreign hotel bed.

- - - -


Andreas left the hotel on time on Tuesday morning, it was a clear, crisp March day, he wandered down Friedrichstrasse a short stretch, then turned onto the broad boulevard of Unter den Linden, stood on Pariser Platz, in front of the austere, simple Brandenburg Gate. The sun, a harsh, brightly golden March sun elevated this beautiful, almost classically clean streetscape, that reminded Andreas of the most well done places in Paris. "How perfect German architects are able to build... How much you can learn here." The painter within him awoke. He walked into Tiergarten. Everywhere was sun and the budding green. And the old green was shining like delicious bronze. He wandered along a narrow path that soon reaches a small lake. Ducks are swimming on it in funny formations. The branches of high trees reflect on the almost ripple-free surface of the water.


Andreas stopped. He had never been here before. This small piece of nature in the middle of the metropolis! He inhaled the image. He had to think of so many unforgettable morning hours in Italy, France and Denmark, where as a happy person he had carried the whole of his happiness in his eyes...


With his paint box, easel and canvas he had gone out, far away from cities and people, and had praised his own fate being allowed to be a painter, nothing but a painter, a very simple creature, fully immersed in the moment. To not lose those delicious moments was his urge that found release when he was painting. He painted as if in a fever, could not wait to capture the picture that presented itself to his discharging view, this discharging view that was blown inside by the winds of wanderings, that sees more than the dull gaze of other people, that was brighter than the gaze of others... prescient... How much he had always loved the word... How he
[Page 99]
loved this word again in this instance!


He had always been one with this ineffable, stirring, this play of light and shadow, bright and dark, color and form, sounds from this cacophony and mess of vines... He had always felt like a secret bird stalker, who is lying in wait and knows all the mating calls until he found what he was searching for.


That was how he had created his pictures, bound onto the dead canvas with dead colors, until these things he had harkened with his eyes began to have a life of their own... A captured echo he confessed to himself, a dim echo is what my pictures are... But still an echo... And he had been happy and very humble like an insider... And those hours had been the only true joys of his life. These joys had belonged to him, him alone, he had not had to share these joys with any other being, he had not robbed anyone else of these joys, or stolen... They had been exclusively his riches, his property... Could he bequeath this property, these riches?... He felt this question like a fear rising within... He had never before heard that question within himself... Joy, could that be bequeathed? The joy of painting...? For him, Andreas Sparre, that joy was irrevocably over.


And Lili ... If she was allowed to survive, would she feel the drive to paint? If he could give her this joy, this feeling of happiness in creation, if he could give this to her as an inheritance, to make up for the life he stole from her, for the many years of youth, his guilty conscious, that so often pressed him to the ground, would be eased...


That he had to think of Lili now... Of her who had so different inclinations than he... Completely different from his... she had always felt disgusted getting her hands dirty with paint. Smiling he now remembered that. And he himself had used his naked fingers just as much as his paintbrush... He laughed out loud. Why think of an inheritance, a legacy, now ... What was it he he had done in this life? Right, he had a small proof that he did not share with anyone else: the golden "palm" of the Paris "Academy"... Oh vanity...


Should he turn around again?... He stood upon a delicate,
[Page 100]
slightly wavy bridge over which he could look onto a broad canal, that let its waters drop through a half raised sluice into a spillway, that hissed and shimmered like a miniature waterfall.


Right, I'm like one who wants to sail down a waterfall now, he thought, and I recognize how the current is gripping me, and I no longer know where the trip is going. Maybe into complete destruction... Anyway... now, I can't easily leave the boat any longer... The decision is made... I can't go back...

- - - -


Half an hour later he is with Doctor M.S -@Editor: #PLC. He has to wait a long time for the photographer who is supposed to capture his and Lili's common body in a picture. What is all this for, he asks himself. His happy, confident mood is gone. He only feels limitless tiredness. He would have preferred to just sit down somewhere quietly to cry.


A woman, the doctor's assistant, joined him in the waiting room. She begins a conversation with him. He mostly just listens. She has poise and what she says he feels is without curiosity, without intrusiveness.


"Your case is a novelty for all of us here. And what increases the interest we take in you out of scientific interest, is the fact that you are an artist, an intellectual, and you are able to analyze yourself, your feelings, your emotional life, you will experience the most outrageous, most incredible thing: first to have lived and felt as a man, and then to live and feel as a woman. I have to think of the Roman emperor who took his life because he could not achieve what is now becoming your fate..."


Andreas listens quietly, like one who is receiving news about another that he has long since known himself. The cordiality and objectivity with which the woman spoke to him, he felt was a blessing. To connect objectivity and cordiality is something that is only in the nature of the German people.


When the photographer finally arrived, Andreas had found his
[Page 101]
good mood again, at least superficially. "Now please, no more relapses," that was the order he gave himself, appealing in an empathetic way to his own defiance, and as he left the institute of Doctor M. H., he invited himself to a "farewell breakfast." He selected a suitable restaurant in the west of town with the greatest care, and then very meticulously chose the menu, at the beginning of which he put a "Homard à l'amèricaine" -@Editor: #PLC with quietly chilled "Liebfrauenmilch" -@Translator: #SW of the most select vintage.


When he was done, nearly two hours later, the polyglot head waiter said in the most perfect French: "Monsieur has certainly come to Berlin to amuse himself... Theater... Music... for that we are well recognized as a center in Berlin... And in regard to our ladies, how does Monsieur like our ladies... here on Kurfürstendamm...?"


"Charming, really elegant," Andreas hurried to respond, even though his gallows humor was about to break through. "Here in your atmospheric, sublimely ‘dolled up' establishment, which is not exceeded in comfort by any Parisian restaurant, I see a couple of superb specimens of the most refined taste, who could be at home in Paris or in Rome as well. And I would give much of my heart's calm to lay my adorations at their feet, if I didn't have to undergo quite a fateful surgery in a few hours..."


The head waiter made big eyes upon this revelation.

- - - -


He went to the hotel right after, paid his bill, took a car, drove to Thomasiusstrasse, to bid farewell to his friends. "You don't quite look like a sacrificial lamb," his friend Niels -@Editor: #PLC concluded immediately on his arrival.


"I don't feel like one either, - on the contrary, -" Andreas shouted back, laughing.


While Miss Inger put her hands together over her head: "But Andreas, you are supposed to be operated on in a few hours, and you come over here with an almost pitch black Importe -@Editor: #PLC in your mouth."


And with that she surprisingly ripped the cigar from his hand.


"Oh please, I have just come from my last meal, or rather, I have literally celebrated my ‘l'enterrement de ma vie de garçon -@Editor: #PLC without the slightest equivoque, -@Editor: #PLC
[Page 102]
which in this expression is closest to your "Polterabend" ..." -@Editor: #PLC -@Translator: #SW


Miss Inger took him by the hand. "I have not been a nurse for nothing, and I know how one has to behave prior to a surgery. Certainly not the way you do, Andreas. Those are stupid little boys' pranks, to go out and splurge. That is just making trouble. By the way, you look quite bad now. And now Niels will accompany you to the sanatorium."


And so it came to pass. Andreas entered the sanatorium without a cigar and under the auspices of his friend.


This fateful entrance by the way went on quite businesslike. The surgery nurse Marianne received the two gentlemen, lead them into a blindingly white room smelling of all kinds of disinfectants, close to the operating theater, of which the doors stood open. A few nurses seemed busy making preparations for a new operation. A strong, slightly sweet scent of anesthetic wafted in.


Unfortunately Professor G. was not able to arrive until about six o'clock, so the gentlemen would have to be patient, they were told.


The clock showed barely four. Niels made a completely desperate face. "I can't endure two hours in here," he said, almost contritely, went to nurse Marianne and explained that he would take the patient to the nearby "Romanisches Café" -@Translator: #SW to pass the time. After Andreas had solemnly sworn to return on time, the two almost hurriedly left the sanatorium. Niels was in the most hurry.


After they had found a seat opposite the newspaper stand, Andreas found a red haired cripple only a few meters away from them, the "newspaper chief". Andreas had jumped up immediately, approached the cripple from behind, which he noted with a surprise, for which he received a Reichsmark from Andreas and then a second Reichsmark, after he had touched the quite humongous humpback of the "newspaper chief". After that, Andreas sat back down, happily smiling, next to Niels.

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"Dear Niels," he then said as reply to the friend's surprised reaction, "this is what I call friendship! You brought me together with such a magnificent hunchback just at the eleventh hour -@Editor: #PLC. Of course you don't know that such a guy is good luck, infallibly. This is a southern superstition. Granted. But I do feel protected now – against everything. Really bulletproof. Such a manly hunchback, when you touch it, works miracles. A female hunchback on the other hand, does quite the opposite."


Niels shook himself with laughter. "There you can see how I care for you. Now I, too, am no longer afraid on your behalf."


"Which we should drink to with a noble drop of Rhenish wine, as if it were a funeral toast of the Nordic tradition." And with that Andreas had already ordered a bottle of the best vintage from the waiter. "But please, three glasses!"


"Three?" Niels asks.


"Of course, the red haired hunchback must drink with us." Which the redhead didn't need to hear twice, even if he didn't quite understand the occasion of the invitation. "Our kind is used to quite some sorrow," the invited man replied while bowing deeply, clasped the glass and raised it to Andreas, "to your health, dear Sir! May your kind soul long outlive you!"


"The guy talks like a prophet!" Niels cried out and made big eyes. Andreas enfolded the redhead in his arms, kissed him on both cheeks, and let the surprised man go again, held up his glass, caressed the hump of the cripple with his free hand. "If you knew what you gave to me with those beautiful words, you magnificent chap! In this sense!" And he let his glass clink against the cripple's. "Three's a charm!" And he looked at Niels. And Niels understood his friend. And standing up the three drinkers emptied the bottle. And once Andreas and Niels finally left, the redhead looked after them for a long time with earnest eyes.

- - - - -


The room of the clinic which was awaiting Andreas was already lit. A nurse accompanied him in, and recorded his personal details, hung a fever scale over his bed and asked Andreas to lie down immediately. The doctors would be in soon.

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"Then it is probably better if I leave right away," Niels asked.


Andreas nodded, smiling. "So, old chap, farewell and I will put in all the effort to make the prophecy of the redhead come true." Niels wanted to say something else. But Andreas pushed him out the door. "Nice of you, Andreas, otherwise I could end up getting sentimental. So, in the meaning of the redhead." A quick shaking of hands, and Andreas was alone.-


He looked around. Mechanically, without any clear thought in his head. He paced back and forth. One, two, three times... Without realizing it, he began counting his steps. "So it's seven paces long, and six paces wide," then he sat down on the bed, he took in the room. A hospital room of which there were countless others. Bright walls. And a bed and a table and a wardrobe and both chairs, also painted brightly. –


And then he began to undress, very slowly. Because he suddenly realized that he, Andreas Sparre, was disrobing for the final time...., that what was happening here was a sort of leave taking, a farewell to coat and vest and trousers... and so on. This shell of coat, vest and trousers had encased him for a lifetime... He looked on the articles of clothing, one after the other, while taking them off, he hung the coat over the vest, and then put both on hangers in the wardrobe, the way he was used to, since... Yes, since when? He stretched the trousers on a pants-hanger... gazed and gazed on them piece by piece and caressed them piece by piece. "What will become of you?" he asked, smiling. "What will become of me?" He rubbed his forehead. "Which one of us here will survive the other? You me? Me you? .... Coat, vest, trousers... shoes, underwear, socks, I almost forgot about you..."


And so he sat there a long time, as if among companions who had to be bid farewell. "Maybe you see a traitor in me..." And now he took his hat off the table. "You too... I almost completely forgot about you... I wonder who else I have forgotten? ..."


And he reached into the inner coat pocket, took a picture out, put it on the table, leaning it against the wall. "Grete," he said, just about to caress the picture. And then there was a knock on the door, and already it was
[Page 105]
opened: Professor G. entered, accompanied by his young assistant doctor. A few questions were directed at Andreas, with the result that to his surprise the execution of the "first operation, which is completely harmless," as the doctor explained casually, had to be postponed until the next morning. "You refer to such farewell parties as 'Gravöl' up North," the Professor laughed. "Your friend already told me the brand of Rhenish wine from earlier. My compliments. You seem to be well versed in these matters. But such "procedures" are better done on an empty stomach. So that the time until tomorrow will not be too boring for you, we will give you a sleeping aid in a few hours. And now, good courage." A handshake, -and he was alone again.


"So it's always wait, wait, wait," he says to himself. "How much patience do you have to have, you...." And now he spoke to the picture that was sitting on the table next to his bed.


"Grete... Grete..." He did not say anything else, leaned back into the white pillows, stared to the ceiling, was tired... tired..."


He had arrived at the destination... worn out, and only now realized how tired he was. The haste of the days here in Berlin only now became clear to him. Now he could admit to himself that he was at the end of his strength. Nobody could see him now. Not even Grete. And the last remnant of his manly defiance that he had worn like a steel armor before his friends and doctors during this week full of anguish in the foreign metropolis, that he had dragged around the foreign metropolis laboriously, fell off of him.-


"Grete.... Good thing you can't see me now..."


No, no tears.... Persevere ... Persevere ...


And only then he remembered that she had no idea of the impending surgery. She believed he would only be examined here in Berlin, put under observation. He had only received a few postcards from her. She wanted to come to Dresden in the coming days, to stay by his side... during the first operation... Should he send her a telegram still? Wasn't it wrong to keep what was about to happen to him tomorrow a secret? But no, why scare her? He himself had had no idea that his fate was about to be accomplished here in Berlin already... Accomplished.... He had to smile. "I am ready..." And there he recalled the words of the redhead... "May your soul survive
[Page 106]
me a long time..."


He had paper and a pen lying on the table. He took a sheet and wrote:


Berlin, March 4, Tuesday Night


Dearest, sweetest Grete,


I will be operated on tomorrow. The doctor says this is just a small, harmless procedure. This is why I did not ask you to join me here. – But should it go differently, I want to tell you today that I have always thought of you, every hour, every minute, every moment. You my most beloved and most faithful companion! My last wish is that your future is happy,- that you will inherit my easy-going nature. If my soul lives on, it will be with you. A thousand kisses from Lilli. Yours, only yours, Andreas.

- - - - -


When Miss Inger entered an hour later, he handed her the letter and asked her to give it to Grete, if...


"You big stupid boy, I have known all long from Niels, everything has to go well. I even went to the café and brought your unusual guardian angel some flowers. He turned red like a turkey and said: "this must be my luckiest day..."

- - - -


At ten o'clock the assistant doctor came in again. He handed Andreas the promised sleeping powder. Only then a nurse appeared, put things in the room in order, turned off the little lamp... And then everything was quiet.


And that last night of Andreas Sparre was deep and dreamless.


They let him sleep until the doctors appeared. Into the late morning hours. Soon after he had used the bathroom, Professor A. stood next to his bed, waiting for him to sign a declaration, which said that he, Andreas Sparre, wanted to undergo this surgery out of his own volition and at his own peril, and that he freed Professor G. from all liabilities, should something go wrong...


"Delighted to do so," he exclaimed, signing the document immediately,
[Page 107]
which was addressed to some government agency and said in plain German: If I die, I forgo any right to cause any difficulties after... "But can't I add a few words of gratitude to the German doctors?" he asked, all of a sudden, "those who tried to save me?" This plea was refused with a smile, upon which the doctor retreated with the words: "The operation will take place in a few minutes, I will attend upon the wish of Professor Kreutz, good luck." -@Translator: #SW


As soon as Andreas was alone again, he hurried to write down the following:


Dear Professor Kreutz,


In this last moment before my operation I feel the urge to express my deeply felt gratitude towards you. Since the day I met you in Paris I have been full of hope, and here in Berlin, where I did not know any of the doctors who examined and stood by me, I felt as if an invisible force had cleared all ways. I know that you are this force, and that all the good things that happened to me came from you. No matter how this turns out, please believe in the boundless gratitude that I feel towards you. Yours most dedicated


Andreas Sparre.

- - - - -


Andreas sank back into the pillows with a feeling of limitless relief. Now everything had been put into order. In a few minutes the waiting would be over...


And in that moment, on the boundary to the unknown, he suddenly remembered a winter day in Paris: tired and miserable he randomly stood in front of an ancient church,- Saint Germain de Prés. He had never seen it before. He entered, to relax in the mild, incense fragrant, low light of the godly house, beneath the venerable arches, that had seen the hopes and sufferings of so many generations. A pillar carried an oddly beautiful gothic sculpture: a Madonna. He had stopped there. And he, who long since had forgotten how to pray, sank on his knees between a couple of old women, devoutly folded his hands
[Page 108]
and begged the Madonna:


"You who are love and compassion, help me! Free me from my useless, sick life. Let me die – or let me witness a miracle!"


And he felt as if the Madonna was smiling down on him. A few days later he met Professor Kreutz.


And now he is lying here in Berlin, waiting for the beginning of the miracle. Had the Madonna really heard his prayer? - - When he had left Paris, he found an old Spanish Madonna miniature made of silver in his coat pocket. Grete had found it in a junk shop in Seville. Gaily she had shown him the piece of jewelry. "Hey you," she had said, "I think this tiny, sweet Madonna wanted to come with us. Now she should be our talisman."- And since then, Grete had worn the Madonna on a small necklace. And without him noticing, she had put the idol in his pocket... And he quietly kissed his Madonna.


A moment later, the assistant doctor steps in. "All right. Now you will get an injection. That will put you to sleep. And when you wake back up, everything will be done."

- - - -


When Andreas woke again in intense pain it was almost noon. He opened his eyes with a scream. At first he thought, he had woken too soon, and was still on the operating table... Slowly he realized he was lying in his bed, where in the early morning the assistant doctor had sat next to him on the bedside, until everything had sunken into a fog. What happened since, he couldn't guess. He felt as if he had screamed for a long time, as if he had defended himself against something. Two nurses he only now took note of stood around the bed, and talked to him soothingly.


After he had fully regained consciousness, he felt the pain getting worse and worse. But soon he had gained back control over himself, he clenched his teeth.


He wanted to scream no more. And he stopped screaming.


"Have I raised... a ruckus," he asked the nurses somewhat meekly.


"Well... Yes, a little..." one of the nurses said, "and the strange thing was that your voice had completely changed, it
[Page 109]
was a high-pitched woman's voice, and you kept yelling ‘You must not leave me! You must not leave me. I am still so little. I can not be alone yet.'"


Then Professor G. entered, took Andreas' hand and squeezed it lightly. "It went really well. You are lucky that you are so fresh and healthy. By the way I need to compliment you. You have quite the magnificent soprano! Just ask one of the nurses. Simply astonishing! Just see to it that you don't lose that. That will bring you much joy in your future life."


Andreas wanted to speak, but the doctor had already left. "Give another injection." That was all the doctor had told the nurse while leaving.


"Give another injection." Andreas repeated the words like a child, without truly understanding them. And a few minutes later, the dark, silent fog clashed in over him. –


Toward evening he woke from a coughing spell. It felt as if his entire body was about to be torn to pieces. The cough was terrible. He tried to suppress it. To no avail. He would never have guessed that coughing could hurt so insanely much. During the final winters in Paris he had coughed a lot, Grete had always been worried by that. "Don't worry," he replied then, "let me cough. Coughing is good." – And now he wanted to cry out from the infernal torment. The nurse was already standing next to his bed. She looked at him helplessly. She was not allowed to give him anything to drink.


Finally the coughing fit was over. He lay there, exhausted. The nurse wiped the sweat from his brow. "You have certainly smoked a lot?" she asked. "Maybe even yesterday..."


On the table next to the bed there was a pack of cigarettes.


"Take them away. Throw them out the window, nurse. I can't see the stuff anymore. Never again will a cigarette or a cigar touch my lips." Like an oath he exclaims these words. Laughing the nurse took the pack. "Don't you forget your vow!"


"I swear to you, and to myself." And he thought of the imports that Miss Inger had taken from him yesterday. It was the very last cigar
[Page 110]
Andreas had smoked...


A few more coughing spells during the night deepened his newfound animosity to anything tobacco related, so much so that the thought of tobacco smoke alone made him nauseous. – And this almost fanatical dislike of any enjoyment of tobacco he passed on to Lili...


Niels was admitted to him for a few moments.


"This is going really well with you," he began immediately.


"Well yes," Andreas couldn't say anything else.


Niels looked at the nurse, puzzled.


She whispered to him: "You probably wonder about the bright soprano voice..."


Niels nodded. "Barely recognizable..."


Then he sat down in the one chair beside the bed. "I bring greetings from Inger, she'll bring you something very pretty in the morning. Furthermore …"


Andreas interrupts him: "Niels, you probably won't hold it against me if..."


"What is it?"


"Don't talk.... I'm in such pain..."


The nurse gave him a hint. He quietly left the room. Andreas whimpered: "Nurse, give me an injection..."


And that one would not be the only injection he got that night. It was an endless, arduous night. Only when morning approached did he find a dull, short sleep. And out of that sleep the nurse heard the same pleading call again and again: "Please, please give me another injection."


When he had fully woken around noon, he felt exhausted as if after a walk through the desert. But the pain had become more remote, dim. At least as long as he did not move. "That is the only thing you may think of now," the nurse told him repeatedly, "lay still, don't move a muscle!" And it was so good to heed that warning. "Lay still, think of nothing, don't move a muscle." Like a child he kept repeating the words.


But then and again a question stirred within him: "Who am I... What am I... What was... What will be...?

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Then Miss Inger entered, - carrying flowers and a large bottle of Eau de Cologne. She extended both hands towards Andreas. Flowers! How their scent transformed the hospital room! He pressed his pale face into the colors of the flowers like someone dying of thirst.


"Oh, pour cologne over me, Miss Inger! Shower the entire room!" he exclaimed beside himself with joy about her arrival and her gifts. He never knew what a gift from the heavens the scent of flowers was.


And how good Miss Inger was. Without a sound and smiling she glided across the small, unadorned room, - almost like a tiny mother, he thought, watching her, as she arranged to get a vase for the flowers from the nurse, put down a small napkin on the table, which she had secretly taken out of her purse, stopped in front of the window, and observed the sick friend. And then she sat down at his bedside, caressed the pale, twitching hands of the sick one, spoke quietly and confidently to him, and behold, he forgot pain and fears, - and her, who previously had always addressed him with the honorific "Sie," now spoke to him confidentially as Du -@Editor: #PLC. He only realized that many days later. And she never called him by his name during those first days...


"Now everything will turn out fine, you, everything, just be patient and faithful, you... life will be so beautiful. Believe your friend, you, believe it, I know it..."


And then she sat silently next to the bed, caressed the tired, fevered brow ... and time passed ... and she glided away like a good dream ... And he had long since fallen back asleep.


...And she returned every day to him with flowers and good words. Thus a day passed, thus two days passed, three days. Andreas slept most of the time, like a child that had not awoken yet to real, waking life. And there were no dreams came to him through the long, dim nights, through which compassionate sleeping aids helped him. And every morning anew Miss Inger was with him, with fresh flowers and new floral scent. "You are my good angel now, Inger, my dear, compassionate sister ..."


She had brought him a completely glorious spring bouquet, and he wanted to happily kiss her hands.


"This time you don't have to thank me. These floral greetings are from a from a good, distant friend, you."


"From Claude Lejeune ...?"


Inger just nodded.


And she opened the white envelope, a small letter, attached to the bouquet, and read: "Every flower of this small bouquet is a greeting to Miss Lili!"


The flowers long hid the eyes of the sick one. Miss Inger too could not see that the eyes were crying many hot tears.


"Will Claude ever find her again?"


"Who then? You?"


"His Lili."

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That was what the patient asked as he gave Inger a card that had a few lines jotted down on it. Without wanting to, she had looked at the writing.


"Did you write that?" she asked as if startled.


"Yes, Inger."


"But then she is already here, Claude's Lili ! ... Just look?"


And he looked at the card and didn't recognize his own handwriting.


It was a woman's handwriting ...


And Miss Inger hurried out, the assistant doctor stood in the hallway, she pointed to the card. "What do you think, doctor. This was not written by a man?"


"No," the surprised doctor replied, "no, you are right. That is truly a miracle. One thing after another is pushing out."


"One after another?" Miss Inger asked this.


Andreas -@Editor: #PLC clearly heard her words...


And the doctor replied: "Have you not noticed the completely changed voice? It has changed from a tenor to a clear soprano."


"You," Inger said, reluctantly, when she was back in the hospital room, "you, you ..." And then she couldn't keep on speaking from sobbing.


When Andreas -@Editor: #PLC was alone again, he quietly talked away to himself ... wanted to listen to his voice, wanted to listen to it. "Is it really true what they say? Is it now really true ...?" And he listened and wanted to catch the sound of the voice in his ears, and it died, swept away. He had fallen asleep again.


Suddenly his sleep was rend to pieces. Night was around him. A terrible screaming pierced the darkness of the narrow walls of the room. A screaming the likes of which he never had heard before. First he thought he himself had screamed. He did not want to scream. He bit his lips. But there it was again, the scream from the dark. No, it was not he who had screamed. The scream, like the scream of a young, tortured animal, rang and rang ... He could no longer take it. "Someone is being murdered! Help! Help!" he screamed now, looking for his bell button, he rang, he screamed, he wanted to drown out the darkness with his scream. "Help, help!" The door is flung open. The light underneath the ceiling flares up. The nurse stands breathlessly before him. "Good heavens, what is the matter with you?"


"With me?" He looks out of flabbergasted eyes. Again the scream rings. Now he grasps that it is coming from next door, this terrible cry ...


"I was so mortally afraid, nurse. Who else is plagued this terribly? Is someone dying? Go and help."


The nurse closes the door to the hallway, pulls the felt curtain that had been pushed aside back in front of the door, and already the screaming seems to have moved into the far distance ... "No, nobody is dying. A young woman has born a child ... a small, sweet girl ... It was her first child. In a few days the young mother will be back on he feet. What do you think, how hard it is to give birth ..."

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"But, but ... yes ... yes ..." He didn't know how to answer.


He felt a deep, odd shame, and then he began to cry. The nurse stood with him for a long time, she tried to calm him, finally gave him an injection, so that everything, restlessness, shame, this new, strange shame and many questions that were rising within him, disappeared into the fog.


The nurse had heard him whisper out of this restless slumber several times; - she did not understand the whispering at first. But the words returned again and again. "But ... but ..." it whispered from his lips, "but ... but ... I have to give birth to myself ..." Much later the nurse repeated these words to the one who had spoken them. But then she long since knew that the one who had whispered those words out of the slumbering darkness had transformed into a different being.


Inger returned the next morning.


"You," she merrily called out upon entering, "you, do you know who is coming the next day?"




"Yes, here is her letter."


He had to fetch the letter out of a big spring bouquet, and was still reading it as Professor G. entered the room accompanied by the assistant doctor.


"Good doctor," Andreas -@Editor: #PLC called out, "please tell me, when can I get up?"


"But why the rush, we are doing outstandingly well here in bed beneath flowers and mild hands," and the doctor kissed Miss Inger's hand gallantly.


"But yes, Professor, it is urgent, my wife arrives in three days."


"Your wife ...?" The Professor hesitated, looked at Miss Inger and then at his assistant doctor. "Right .... right ... Well, wait and see, wait and see, - Madame will certainly find you somewhat changed." Then he hastily left the room with his companion, it was evident that he was trying hard to suppress a smile.


Did I act ridiculously, Inger?" Andreas -@Editor: #PLC asked pensively. "The Professor looked at me with such funny eyes."


"Stupid Lili ..." that was all that Inger knew as a response.

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Three days later, in the early morning, during the cleaning up of the clinic, marveled at by the scrubbing and squeaky clean housemaids and nurses, Grete arrived, all Parisienne, elegant, fur-clad, morning fresh.


The nurse on duty immediately knew who she was.


"Ah, Madame, is that right, Madame Sparre?" she greeted the early visitor. "May I guide you. You are being passionately expected. Please excuse the mess in the corridors."


Grete quickly slipped off her right glove, shook the nurse's hand, - and had to suppress a small smile when she saw how her deep red painted nails and perhaps her even stronger colored lips and most of all possibly the fragrance she brought into this environment smelling of green soap drew all eyes to her.


A few moments and she stood in the hospital room.


She had entered without making a sound. The morning sun playfully blotted the white bed in which a pale human being rose very slowly as if waking from a dream. Two deep brown, large eyes gazed at her. A mouth twitched, but the lips remained silent.


Grete stood with widely spread arms in the middle of the room, and couldn't move. She fought back tears. She didn't want to cry. She wanted to smile. She wanted to say a happy word as a greeting. But these large, brown eyes kept her fixated. Many, eternal seconds ... Then a slim ray of sunlight caressed the sick one's face, trickled into the rejoicing glance of the large, brown eyes, ignited a small, silver light within them, it was the gleam of two teardrops ... And Grete snapped out of her torpor ... and sank down in front of the sickbed, sobbing ...


What these two human children felt, lived through and confessed to each other in this hour of reunion in silent sojourn, no word may capture.


Late at night, alone with herself and the storm of confusing thoughts and feelings, Grete wrote this letter to the distant, faithful friend in Paris, Claude Lejeune:


"Claude, I can only hint at what I went through here today. I thought I would find Andreas. Andreas is dead. Because I did not find him. I found a pale, sweet being. Lili, and yet it was not Lili as we knew her from Paris. It was a different one. It was a new being. New in voice and expression of the eye, new in the pressure of her hand, an inexpressibly changed person. Or was it a being that is on the way of finding itself whole? Apparently it has to be this way. So womanly and untouched by life. No, womanly is probably not the right word. I would rather say girly. Maybe childlike, tentative, with a thousand questions in her gaze. A "Nova Vita" ... Oh, I am searching for the right words, I am deeply shaken myself and spellbound as if by a miracle. And yet I know that the anguish of this creature with the outrageous pain of Lili is
[Page 115]
a soul slowly emerging from the shell as is its destiny. -@Editor: #PLC ... what a fate, Claude! Incredible shudders shake me, if I think about this. It is a mercy of the heavens that Lili herself is too weak to look forward or backward. She is barely able to recognize her current state of being. I talked to the doctors. The first procedure, as they call this initial, outer sex change, that is clinically only the beginning, has succeeded better than all expectations. Andreas ceased to exist, they said. His gonads, oh, this mystical word, have been removed. What has to happen now, will happen in D. with Professor Kreutz. The doctors told me about hormones; I pretended to know what they meant. Now I have a dictionary and found out that those are ‘dissociations of inner organs important for life processes.' But I haven't become any wiser. Must one acquire wisdom and knowledge in order to understand a miracle? Does one even have to understand a miracle in the first place? I take the miracle like a pious person. What I have found here in the clinic I want to call the unraveling of a beloved being, whose life and torment seemed to all of us who witnessed it throughout those many, hard years an unsolvable enigma ... Unraveling ... That is it. But the unraveling is not yet complete. I know it. Lili suspects it. She must not be allowed to see her damaged body yet. It lies bound and tied, a secret to herself and to her doctors, that only Kreutz will be allowed to uncover it. Everyone here, the doctors, the nurses, our friends Niels and Inger, all have candidly expressed to me their astonishment at the tremendous outward change of "our patient" – because they don't know yet whether to talk about this being as a man or as a woman. How does their astonishment compare to mine? They have seen the sick being every day now. But for me who has been separated from him for only two weeks, I would have barely recognized this beloved human child. And as I have had to endure this, so will you have to endure, you and Elena and Ernesto, to whom you must show these lines. Because I can't write any more today. Just this, that Lili, this mild, sweet Lili, oh, I have to say it, because it is the truth, lay in my arms like a little sister, cried many many tears and said to me, sobbing: "You are not cross with me for - - (and here she looked at me with baffled eyes) Andreas stealing your most beautiful years?" – Claude, I was so shaken I could not say a word, - and when I could have finally expressed what I was feeling, I didn't dare to. Not me, I thought, has Andreas robbed, not me, but you, Lili, my sweet, pale Lili, of your youthful girl years ... Claude, you and I and all of us have to help this deceived Lili, to make up for Andreas' betrayal ..."


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

- - - - -


The next morning, - Grete had spent the night alone in a hotel, - the head nurse suggested putting another bed into the
[Page 116]
hospital room, so that Grete could stay close to the patient until the departure for Dresden, which would take place within a few days.


"Splendid," Grete whispered, delighted, took the nurse by the hand, pulled her along into the next room which was empty now, quickly fetched a small suitcase she had left in the hallway, opened it mysteriously and whispered almost inaudibly, "dearest nurse, we must not talk about the patient any more." The nurse did not understand what Grete meant by this and just looked at her, questioning.


"Here," with a quick grip Grete took a delightful silken negligee out of the suitcase, "isn't this lovely?"


"How well that will look on you, ma'am!"


"On me? ... No, dear sister, that is a present from our Parisian friend to our - - girl patient there!" And she dabbed her brightly red painted, almond shaped fingernails imploringly on the nurse's shocked mouth. "But please, don't say anything – not before tomorrow morning!"


And when it was morning again, a young lady sat there in the most fragrant Parisian negligee, still quite pale and frail, but still boundlessly happy, on the white hospital bed. And the assistant doctor barely believed his eyes due to this transformation. "Magnificent! My compliments, gracious lady! And if you promise to be very well behaved and careful, you may get up for two hours today and show yourself to your astonished environment! But please, just here in this room! We can't risk any more than that!"


One nurse after the other rushed inside. Endless astonishment with all of them. "Miss Lili," the head nurse said and enfolded the pale, quaking creature motherly in her arms.


In this and in no other way in the Berlin clinic they accepted the miracle that had happened to this still quite tired human being, without curiosity, without long questions, and when Professor G. came around that night for his rounds, he kissed his patient's quivering hand with gallant naturalness. "Bonsoir, Mademoiselle," he said, "my congratulations. You are on the right road."


Only then did he noticed Grete. "Ah, Madame, welcome."

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For a moment the Professor and Grete stood there, facing each other in silence not without restrained shock.


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


The Professor found a kind smile. "...I know, who was married to Andreas Sparre who has left us in such a miraculous way. After all, men are unfaithful creatures, isn't that right, Madame?" And with that the relieving words had been found, a truly German, objective manner, as Grete would tell her friends later.


Lili took all of this in, maybe a little detached, during her first days in Berlin. There was no excitement to register here, more a kind of relaxation. She accepted being addressed as "young lady" or "Miss Lili" from the mouths of the nurses. She also avoided replying to any puzzled look by another with a word or even a gesture. This was especially noticed by Miss Inger and friend Niels.


"We have to leave her in peace," Grete said to them, secretly. She is recovering. It is all just a kind of transition. The big, liberating upswing is still only preparing within her."


And in those days, Grete began to keep a diary. Every night she recorded therein her observations, her experiences that crowded upon her in the presence of the new Lili. Simple, quiet, groping sentences, searching for the way of the friend, that hard, wonderful way upon which Lili had barely tried her first steps...


Here is a page of this newly begun diary:


"Lili is accepting the daily side effects of such a hard operation with incredible patience. Sure, she cries and laments when her pained body receives new wrappings every morning and evening, when clamps are loosened and stitches have to be cut, when still fresh scars are dabbed. "Apparently it has to be this way," she says with a patience I never witnessed in her before. She has only one wish, to go to Dresden soon, to her Professor. That's the only way she talks of him, or she calls him a miracle worker. She does
[Page 118]
not say a single word about the past. It often seems to me, as if she has not had a past yet. As if she didn't quite believe in a present yet. As if she was expecting the beginning of her life from Kreutz, her miracle worker."


Here another entry:


"I went to run some errands with Inger today, without Lili knowing of it. We have to prepare for the journey to D. In the afternoon we returned to Lili. We brought a big, colorful box along. "Guess what we brought you," I said, very happily. Lili looked at us calmly and without a smile. "I don't know." That was her only response. Then Inger opened the box. In it was a magnificent, brown fur coat. "That is for you, Lili," Inger said, spreading the furs in front of Lili, showing her the beautiful, warm silk lining. "Won't Professor Kreutz scold me for appearing like that in front of him? He won't recognize me." And her eyes became very sad. – God, her eyes ... Actually they are always sad, even when they are smiling. Andreas had completely different eyes. As did the Lili in Paris. I believe the eyes of today's Lili haven't fully woken up yet. They don't quite believe yet ... Or is she maybe just not showing that she believes?"

- - - -


It was still winter weather in Berlin when Lili was first allowed to leave the clinic for a few hours, wrapped in her new, very first fur. The doctor had "prescribed" a car ride for her. – "We have to prepare for the long journey to D. now, my dear," he explained, "get some air, walk among people, gather your strength."


Walk among people ... Those words made Lili listen up. A secret fear came over her. But she didn't let anyone notice. Niels and Inger fetched her with Grete -@Editor: #PLC, who did not stray from her side.


When Lili was standing in front of the clinic, leaning heavily on Niels' arm, the fear returned anew ... She looked fearful, shy, timid like a prisoner who after an eternity of imprisonment inhales the blue, good, bright air of freedom again,
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looked around shyly, as if she was afraid that everything going around her was just an illusion.


She hesitated to move on.


"Come on, child," Gerda -@Editor: #PLC said to her, quietly.


"She is haughty," laughed Niels, "she wants to go by herself."


"No, no," Lili's words came very frightened, "don't let me stand alone. Just a moment. I have to first taste the air again. This air ..."


When Lili was sitting in the car, snuggled up closely to Gerda, she closed her eyes for a long, long time. "Don't care about me. I have to get used to all of this again ... all of this ... all of this ..."


And so she drove through the roaring life of Kurfürstendamm, like a somnambulist, silent, closed up, self-absorbed ...


The ride took two hours. Then Gerda returned the tired one to her hospital bed. No sooner had she picked a little at the meal brought in, than she dozed off. The sleep lasted until the next morning.


Niels picked the two of them up again around noon. Lili had already gotten much more spirited. "So, today I don't want to bore you. Not myself either. I even have a healthy appetite – for people ..."


"Are we not?" Niels asked, amused.


"Yes, but for strange people ... yes, to see strange people once more."


"Excellent, great suggestion, my dearest," - and now Niels decided that they should "dine" at his place "to mark the occasion." Mysteriously he had the car stop in front of a phone booth, got out, - he just wanted to let Inger know. And he returned with an even more mysterious expression.


They arrived within fifteen minutes. Inger received the friends outside the door. She pressed a big bouquet of the most magnificent roses into Lili's arms. "Now, be brave Lili child, now you will find everything your heart desires." – and she was informed that a there was a young lady from Copenhagen waiting inside, who knew neither Lili nor Gerda nor – Andreas, who had been told of "a French woman just imported from Paris."


"Good heavens," Lili cried out, almost besides herself.


"Don't argue now. You have to play the "imported Parisienne"
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now," Inger explained, "my friend knows that you know neither German nor Danish. And she does not understand a lick of French. I told her you endured a bad illness and are in bad need of rest. Now no foolishness. You neither understand German nor Danish!" And already Niels had grabbed the reluctant one by the arm. "Come in my hearties!" he commanded, and before she had a chance to gather her senses, Lili with her bouquet of roses was sitting down on the soft, deep armchair of his study, in which Andreas Sparre had confessed to him the odd wanderings of his life just three weeks earlier ...


"Keep it up, keep it up," Grete whispered in her ear.


"Good, good, you good one," Lili replied, "I am keeping it up. And I have to for a long time..."


The door opened ... A young actress from Copenhagen who Gerda and Andreas had known for many years stood before Lili ...


Lili believes her heart will shatter now. Feverish red shoots into her pale face. No, she cries out internally, no, no...


But nobody notes even the slightest disturbance in her.


"May I introduce," Miss Inger begins, smiling, "Miss Karen W. ... Mademoiselle Julie S..." And then, turning to Grete -@Editor: #PLC: "But you two know each other."


"But yes," Karen W. calls out excitedly, "how is your spouse Andreas doing?" And Grete -@Editor: #PLC explains right away, that Andreas was doing excellently, but that due to work piling up he couldn't leave Paris ... Lili sits there, listens to the conversation in Danish completely untouched, answers every question that Miss Karen asks in Danish and which Grete quickly translate into French in the most elegant salon French....


The maid declares dinner ready. Lili lets Niels guide her to the dining room. The conversation is playfully bubbling from one language to the next, Lili acts as the most complete Parisienne, who pretends, as if she had never in her life heard a single word of Danish before. She accepts Miss Karen's compliments on her "outrageously fashionable Paris costume" as a matter of course, - this time Niels plays the translator, and Lili forgot over this quite effusive praise
[Page 121]
that her wardrobe was not of Parisian origin, but from a Berlin woman's tailor.


She did not betray herself by one expression. She had to occasionally bite her tongue not to interject herself into the conversation being held in Danish ... This comedy went on for about two hours. There was much laughter ... in Danish. And Lili only laughed when the reason for the "Danish laughter" had been translated into French for her...


Then she was exhausted ... She was tired enough to just fall over. And she asked Gerda -@Editor: #PLC to accompany her to her hotel.


Smiling she bid Miss Karen farewell.


"Next time we meet, I will try to talk in badly broken French," the young Copenhagen woman yelled after her. "To a reunion in Paris ... and Miss Grete -@Editor: #PLC, don't forget to give Monsieur Andreas my best ..."


Niels accompanied the two of them back to the clinic.


"No," he said when they were sitting in the car, "no, I would not have thought that possible. Now even I unwaveringly believe in miracles." Lili collapsed, exhausted. She let herself be driven in silence through the roaring, giant city, sparkling with thousands and thousands of lights. On her face there was no smile. When the car stopped in front of the clinic, Niels had to carry Lili to her white lilac-scented room. He carried a sleeper. And only as she awoke again after almost twelve hours of sleep did she learn that the distant Claude Lejeune had sent her the muted purple spring greeting. –


That was how Lili's first encounter with a – strange person went.


"That she did not recognize me..." she said almost melancholically.


"But child," Grete countered smiling, "that should make you happy. Lili, I mean my new Lili doesn't know anyone out there yet. You are just starting life again ..."


Grete could not yet understand this morning, that Lili's melancholy was the fear of having no friends ...

Page 122



The first message from Professor Kreutz arrived from D. the next morning. Everything was ready for the patient's -@Editor: PLC reception. If the physical condition of the patient allowed, the journey to D. cold be undertaken immediately. Before that, a visit to Dr. K., who had analyzed Andreas Sparre's blood barely two weeks prior would be useful, so that this doctor could analyze the patient's blood now, after the procedure undertaken in Berlin ...


Grete read the news to Lili, very slowly, her voice quaking with excitement, but she pulled herself together. "Good, Lili, we will be ready then. What do you think?"


"We go tomorrow morning of course."


"Very well, then we have to go to Dr. K. today still."


And Grete hurried down the corridor to get a connection to the laboratory of the biochemist Dr. K .


When she returned a few minutes later with the message that Dr. K. would not be present for about an hour, she found Lili standing in front of the window with the letter from Professor Kreutz in her hand.


"Lili we can be on our way in a minute. We can walk part of the way. It will do you good."


"No, no, not walk." Lili exclaimed like a startled child. "I ... don't want to show myself ... on the street yet." And then the tears came.


Grete caressed the disturbed one quietly. "All right, we will drive."


On the way Grete mentioned casually that the assistant of the doctor she had spoken to on the phone had not understood her name. "It was a little difficult to clarify that to her ..." Grete did not say any more.


By chance their car arrived in front of the laboratory at the same time as the car of Dr. K.


"Doctor, good day," said Lili, recognizing him immediately and shook his hand.


"Good day, madam," the doctor replied, apparently surprised, as if he were searching his memory for her name.


Lili looked around puzzled, then looked at Grete as if looking for help, gathered her courage and stammered awkwardly: "I
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come from the clinic of Professor A. – at the instigation of Professor Kreutz – I am Lili Sparre ..." It was the first time that she had spoken her name aloud in Germany ... she heard herself speak. An inexplicable shame burned in her blood ... Rigidly she looked at the doctor. "Do you not recognize me, dear Doctor?"


"But of course, madam, of course," Dr. K. replied, no less confused than Lili, and it was clear from the sound of his words that he had no idea who was standing in front of him.


"This is about a blood sample, if I understand this right," he continued quite nervously, lead the two ladies through the antechamber and then into the waiting room.


"But, dear Doctor, - do you still not recognize me?" Now Lili had to smile. Grete's eyes seemed to be rejoicing. The doctor only got more confused. "Sparre ... Sparre ... Of course, the name sounds familiar to me ... about fourteen days ago a Mr. Sparre came to see me ... also sent from Professor A. ... But I do not remember you, madam ..."


"The ... gentleman .. and ... I ..., dear Doctor, ... are one and the same ... being... dear Doctor," Lili stammered.


"Excuse me?" Completely baffled Dr. K. looked from one lady to the other, - then looked absent-mindedly at his pocket watch, bowed quickly, "Oh, excuse me one moment, - the ladies are foreigners, naturally ..." And he was out of the waiting room.


Lili looked at Grete, besides herself with confusion. "I believe, I am losing my mind."


Grete laughed. "The Doctor also has that impression. He certainly did not understand a word of what you said."


Lili began to laugh brightly. "That is magnificent. He too does not recognize me ... Now I too begin to believe ..."


A young nurse had entered and asked them to come along with her. The doctor was waiting in his laboratory, which Lili recognized immediately, holding a small instrument similar to a morphine syringe,
[Page 124]
in his hand, a transparent glass syringe, smiled, still a little timid. Please madam ..."


She heard the address ring in her ear ... madam ...


"Please, madam, please sit down here ... and push up your sleeve please ... over your elbow ... so I can get a vein free ... there, thank you very much, madam ..."


Lili caught word for word with a keenness never before known, she felt as if the words remained hanging in the room ... her eyes were fixed on the syringe, the needle of which was piercing carefully into the white skin of her arm, she saw, how the glass container slowly filled with her blood, madam, like a rushing sound she believed she heard these words from the trickle of her blood, madam ... and then she lost consciousness. –


When she came to, she looked around shyly.


The doctor stood smiling next to the operating chair.


"Have I lain here long, Doctor?"


"But no, little lady, just a few minutes ... did it hurt so much? ..." "Hurt ..." Lili looked around confusedly. "Hurt ... no, no, I am usually not that sensitive ... You should know that ..."


"Right Mr. Sparre wasn't either ... Sparre if I understood that right, madam, your husband..."


"My? .. yes ... yes ..." She didn't know where to put her eyes due to all the confusion.


Now the doctor was laughing. "So I did understand that right earlier. The German language is a difficult language. It was very funny how you expressed yourself earlier, - as if you had said you and your husband were one and the same person ... Hahaha ..."


"But, Doctor ..."


"Dear madam, believe me, even people like us say the most unbelievable stupidities once he is supposed to make himself understood in a foreign language ... You are not the only one ... no, no ... By the way, to speak of your husband, - a real steely nature, really, - now I remember of course, - as sick and haggardly he was looking recently, when he sat in the same chair you are sitting in right now, - he didn't mention suffering
[Page 125]
with even a single word, rejected any suggestions towards it ... so instead we talked, as it has become customary among men here, especially when one party comes from abroad, about politics,- while I was draining some of his blood. I know full well that something like that doesn't happen without pain, even if your husband pretended as if ... And successfully so. While you, madam ..."


"Please, doctor ..."


"But my dearest, that is your vested privilege... You as a representative of the weaker sex,- while your dear husband, if I may say so as a medical practitioner, is a prototype of the masculini generis ..."


"Dearest doctor," Lili was laughing loudly now, - she stood up and looked, almost cockily, into his eyes, "if only you knew, what a lesson you gave me with your words!"


"Lesson"?, – the doctor bowed chivalrously over her hand, "please, my dearest, I admire you outright. You agree to give a blood sample unsolicited, just like your husband, - which was by the way very reasonable. Only women are capable of something like that! Shared suffering is half the suffering ... Have I not saved face now?"


"Excellently, good doctor. And now, goodbye!"


"Farewell, and my best wishes to your dear husband!"

- - - -


"Grete, dearest," Lili said when she was again together with her, standing outside, - "I am now at a point where I will accept the absurdity of the situation I just experienced with happy serenity, without complaint or commotion. If I did not, I would either have to go mad or - - lose myself. Neither one nor the other must happen. Because I have to find me first .... find the whole of me ... All of that ... today with the doctor ... yesterday with the young woman from Copenhagen ... I experience that as if in a twilight state."


Grete put down those words into her diary later that night.


Lili is still and for a long time coming looking for approval ... They won't make it easy for her ... They ... I mean
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with that the former companions of Andreas ..."

- - - - - - - - - -


"Come," Lili said, "I want to take my first stroll through Berlin now."


And so the two of them walked from the laboratory of Doctor K. through the crowds of the big city, carefree and happy between strange people. It was a young, sunny, early, fresh spring day. The sky was free of clouds and of a silken blue. The air felt like a single caress. The faces of the people they encountered had such bright, happy eyes, Lili noted with emotion. "Do I look just like that, Grete?," she asked many times. And as they were walking along, arm in arm, they often stopped in front of display windows, displays of "women's stores," as Lili said again and again, smiling.


She could not get enough of all the splendor of "silken things" and looked at her own reflection in every window. "Grete, tell me, do I – look good in my furs ... do I look different from – you?" And Grete smiled at her. She did not need to lie. "Child, just think of your Doctor K. – and be happy that we made it this far."


And Lili asked no more. Only now and then her gaze grazed passing people, as if searching for something. An incessant questioning was stirring within her. But she did not allow it to be said aloud. And she forced herself to show a happy smile and to whisper to herself again and again: "Nobody knows me and my fate here in the big city. Nobody suspects me. Nobody. I can carry my secret around with me. Nobody figures me out. And it is bright daylight now. With a lot of sunlight. And the sun will be more beautiful. Much more beautiful. I will experience it, too ... yes .. yes .. yes .."


Quite tired she hung on to Grete's arm. "Grete," she said once, "Grete, you are not ashamed of me ..."


When Grete looked at her surprised, Lili pretended that something had just flown into her eye.


" But what is it?..."


"Nothing ... nothing ... we travel to Dresden tomorrow ... and I am happy that Niels wants to come along with us. Sometimes I am overcome with fear ... I don't know why."

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This feeling of fear rose so badly in the last night before their departure for D. that Grete had to call in the head nurse for help.


Lili cried and cried many tired, desperate hours long. "I can not ... I can not ... How am I supposed to face Professor Kreutz ... He does not know me ... he does not know who I am ... I am scared ... I would rather die beforehand ..."


And when she finally could cry no longer, she lay there, with rigid, empty eyes staring ahead in her bed.


A thousand fears touched her. The train journey to D. -, amongst strange people ... the arrival in a strange, big city ... the way to the new clinic ... again strange people ... with curious eyes ... and then the Professor ... how will he receive her ... her? ... her? ...


Lili herself did not know what was happening inside of her ...


Grete had long since packed the suitcases, had gathered many happy words, had talked of irrelevant things, - Lili had been lying there apathetically. "And tomorrow I am supposed to stand before Professor Kreutz ... and nobody can help me ... nobody ..." Repeatedly she spoke those words, whispering. And when Grete told her that she and Professor Kreutz had only one thought, to stand by her, and that it was ungrateful to hesitate here and now of all times, Lili only shook her head, very tiredly. "Grete, I know better ... I know better ... Nobody can help me ... it is much too hard for a tired person ..."


Early in the morning, Grete was still sleeping, - she had only fallen asleep late, - Lili got up, got dressed, looked at herself, walked quietly back and forth, as to not disturb Grete, in front of the not very tall mirror, that Grete had brought along and hung over the nightstand provisionally transformed into a dressing table. – No, no, she did not like herself ... Her mirror image seemed ugly and expressionless to her ... a dim, tired, anemic larva ...


And with empty eyes she sat down on one of the suitcases, put her confused head in her hands and had no clear thought left in her head ...


"Lili ... Lili..." Grete's arms lay around Lili's neck. "Now you look
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like a small, sweet mother, who is worried about her child ..."


"...who is worried for her child ..." Lili slowly repeated the words. "Yes ... for her spoiled child ... if such a mother can ever be happy again?"


Grete stood in the middle of the room, pleadingly raised her hands. "There, and today I will be very well behaved. Right? There you are happy again."


That was how the day began. And there were again many hard hours to pass. Niels arrived soon, and he helped the very delicate Lili to say her farewells to the nurses and humans of the clinic that had been Lili's first shelter on Earth.


"Lili looks like an officer's miss," he exclaimed enthusiastically, "arrogant and condescending! An incredible phenomenon ..."

- - - -


In half an hour this phenomenon will be led towards its destiny, Lili quietly said to herself ... the phenomenon ..." And she pulled herself together. Nobody should see tears on her today. Nobody. Also not to think. To think of nothing. That is how she let herself be driven to the train station ... With eyes that pretended as if they saw ... but they saw nothing ... nothing ... in the waiting room she was forced to eat breakfast with the two others. She was obedient. "Today I don't want to have a will of my own, Niels, today I want to do whatever the two of you order me to. Today you should think for me. Today I want to be off - one last time."



An outrightly sumptuous breakfast table was spirited into existence in a hurry. "A morning service, ladies and gentlemen," Niels mandated, solemnly, "besides this is meaningful, because we are accompanying our Lili on her first overland journey."


The waiter had put a liter stein of "Hofbräu" in front of everyone. Niels raised his stein towards Lili, and Grete, the delicate and elegant Grete, raised, even if under enormous effort, her stein towards Lili, - and Lili was no spoilsport.


"Skaal, my lovelies," she said, "or, as you should say here, prosit!" And before Niels had let his stein clink against Lili's,
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she had taken a big swig.


"Bravo, bravo'" Niels cheered, so loudly, that many of the waiting room guests turned around to them.


Lili put her cup down again immediately. "Please, please, don't raise attention." The fear, the fear that would not let her go...


But she wanted to be happy. And also, she admitted it honestly to herself: the fresh, fragrant beer tasted wonderful to her. And this heart-warming breakfast with crusty Berlin rolls and blood sausage and liver sausage and cheese, a real German morning meal, - and absolutely not hospital fare!


"You become a whole new being, children," she confessed, "it tastes like resurrection! If only we were that far! Prosit! Long live life!"


Niels didn't need to be told a second time. And when the departure time came, Lili on Niels' arm through the midst of the bustling crowds came out onto the platform, so that Grete had difficulty following. They found a window seat for her in a second-class compartment. Niels and Grete had gotten seats opposite of hers.


Lili rode into her new life, with happy, wideawake eyes.


The landscape between Berlin and D., endless, little varied plains with sparse forests and springish brown, empty fields, here and there red and white and yellow colored by settlements and villages, and small towns and cities, broken by slowly flowing creeks - and rivers, - a picture without excitement, a panorama that calms and lulls. A low, bluish grey sky above, with the fresh morning wind that drove white sun clouds like young lambs that just had been released from their stables. Then suddenly a big, brightly green square shape, winter sown, already escaping the soil, between willow bushes, that already showed some silver, and a dark cloud island sailed ghostly above. A steeple stands in front of the horizon to the East. The sun frees itself from a deep drifting ball of clouds and pours coppery glimmer over the whole world. The telegraph wire in front of the windows swirl up and down. A flock of partridges shoots out of a piece of dark fallow land like a dark torn ball in front of pale
[Page 130]
pine forest, - a station agent's house with silver birches and a few fruit trees, crippled and crouched, and between them colorful pieces of laundry, a woman, her hands pressed to her hips, her eyes fixated on the train, beside her a blonde child with a bright red ball in hand, and a brown Pomeranian dog sitting next to the child, - whoosh – past. The woman waving is barely visible. A blue white checkered piece of clothing waves in her right hand. – an unpaved country road bows into the railroad embankment. Two heavy draft horses in front of a high loaded carriage. The driver lunges with his whip. The sun gilds him and the whip's line and the brass top of his pipe. The puddles in the rutted wagon trails. – behind a widely swung hillside factory chimneys rise and white and yellowish-green pillars of smoke wind into the blue, until a breeze bends them and they become sunny bright clouds ...


Lili's eyes have become those of a painter. And she is startled. "Those are not my eyes ... Those are Andreas' eyes ... is he still not dead within me? ... Can he not give me peace?"


And she closes her eyes. And she does not know why she is so afraid to see the world the way Andrea's eyes did, to suck it in and love it ... Is it, because she is afraid never to come unto herself, never to be able to loosen herself from – Andreas?...


Grete and Niels have stepped out to smoke a little.


In the compartment there are still two very correct looking German gentlemen. Both corner seats next to the door are theirs.


Lili barely paid attention to them. They had taken cover behind newspapers.


Suddenly one gentleman puts down his newspaper in front of him, the other gentleman follows his example, with the only difference that he almost ceremoniously folds his newspaper, the "gentleman opposite". She watches him involuntarily, and he returns her gaze very awkwardly. He harrumphs at least four times. The other gentleman dusts himself off a little, pulls off his plain, brown, very solid, leather glove. A substantial brilliant ring appears. Hm, another harrumph rings.


Lili pulls her furs closer. She feels the gazes of the two "lords of creation" on her. – She makes a very condescending
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Hm, the gentleman next to her says, hm and again: "Madame, allow me?"


She looks at him.


He hands a heavy, silver with gold plating cigarette case to her: "This may be nonsmoker ... Hm ... but the two other people ... hm"


Lili smiles. "No, thank you."


Hm, and the gentleman has closed his case again and laboriously deposited it in his back pant pocket. Hm...


The gentleman across folds open his newspaper again.


And Lili looks out the window again.


A small, delicate gathering of birches on a hilltop under the sun. Two very small mother of pearl colored clouds above, - like wings, forgotten at play by a child angel.


Niels has come back in, sits down at his window seat again. "Early spring," he says, "early spring, Lili ... No other language knows a similar word."


And Grete, who just came back in, repeats the word; " Early spring -@Editor: #SW... Now to stand out there and paint, paint, just like ..."


She breaks off there, avoids Lili's gaze, closes her eyes.


A long hour they sat there in silence.


Grete's words kept ringing in Lili's ears: "... early spring ... paint ... just like..." and she completed the sentence ... "just like I once did with Andreas."


Was it jealousy that was stirring in her now? ...


No, no, don't think ...


And she leaned over to Grete, - nobody saw it, - not Niels either, who had dozed off like Grete, and the two gentleman strangers stood out in the corridor and smoked, - and Lili put her hand in Grete's lap very quietly, and then she stood up and sat down next to Grete, put her head against Grete's shoulder and looked out again: the landscape had changed its character. Ranges of hills rolled closer, grew into small mountains, and new ones joined them all the time, sprinkled with villas. And finally everything turned into a hodgepodge of villas and gardens and tenement houses – and between which factories stretched upwards, streetscapes opened up like canals and canals between columns of houses, and the columns of houses turned into large settlements
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full of whirling life. Trams, cars, people, screaming advertisements on windowless gable walls, wide, multibranched rail landscapes on both sides, trains with endless columns of cars, stations, on the right and on the left, that were raced through, an eternal shaking of the car, that was pulled through switches, punching and rumbling ...


The train stopped.


Niels woke.


"Will we arrive soon?" Lili asked.


"The next station," and then they woke Grete.


As the train started moving again, all three of them stood by the window. Now they rode across the long bridge, under which the broad, dark stream stretched like a shimmering, endless silken band, and like a wonderful mirage Lili saw the green cupolas and towers and roofs of churches and castles and palaces rise from the shimmering water surface like a previously faded away and now returned Vineta -@Editor: #PLC ... her Vineta ... And she slowly raised her gaze upwards and saw it was not an illusion, this big, beautiful, royal city on both sides of the Elbe river , rising from the broad valley unto green hills and a gentle blue sky.


She kneeled on the seat of her chair and stared out and drank in the image of this site of pilgrimage,eagerly awaited, from many pains born to her, with her eyes. And the eyes became too full and too heavy. She had to close them and pressed her hands to her pounding heart. They were kind, devout tears that she cried, overwhelmed by the big, big, redemptive miracle of her poor life ... Boundless happiness flooded over her entire thinking. "Now I am home ... now I will be home soon." And she cried and cried.


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


"It is just for happiness, Niels."


And Grete stood next to her shaken. She could not find words. But many tears.


And none of them saw the astonished eyes of the two gentlemen strangers, who quickly grabbed their luggage and moved out with
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a silent farewell.


How Lili got out of the compartment, how she then made her entry into D. in a green taxicab, has forever disappeared from her memory. She only knows that she held the small silver Madonna to her lips for the entirety of the drive as in a cramp, and kept stammering to herself: "Help me ... help me ... help me ..."


It was a long car ride, the city streets were already behind them, mansion districts welcomed them, and suddenly they passed broad and tall buildings. There the car rounded a street corner, slim, white gleaming birch trees lifted their delicate twigs over a garden wall, behind which rose a grey, solemn, mighty building that was composed of many houses, with towers.


"Stop, stop!" Lili called out. "Here it is!"


The next moment the car stopped in front of a portal, that bore the inscription in bold letters:




"How could you know that?" Grete and Niels asked as if from the same mouth, when they were helping Lili getting out of the car.


"I felt it, that it had to be here," Lili answered very faintly., "help me a little, so I can brace myself ... my legs refuse to work ... I feel like I have to faint ... Now that I am finally home ... It was such a long, difficult journey." As they stood in front of the portal and rang the bell, Lili was deathly pale. She heard the sound of the hospital bell, and it was as if she had heard the sound of her own heart.


From the window of the gatekeeper's apartment a nurse clad in white called to them. "To the private practice? – please turn right, through the garden."


It was already late in the afternoon. Rich, dimmed light from out of rain slick sky lay over the big garden, its slim birch trunks gleamed like immaculate silver above the green mats of lawn. Lili walked in the lead.


"Just look," Niels said to Grete, "she walks there as if she knew everything here. But she has never been here before."


Like a sleepwalker she stepped ahead and found the entrance to the private practice. She was finally home.

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Chapter 12.


An older nurse clad in white stood in the entrance to the private practice, hugging a lady. This was Lili's first impression of the "Women's Clinic." And that impression remained. Because it was right.


The older nurse was the Matron. She was bidding farewell to a patient.


Then she received the three foreigners with great kindness and lead them into a long hospital corridor. Dusk had already set in, a soft, ocean green shimmer fell in through the green glass panes of the big double door at the end of the corridor, that reflected on the sheer hardwood floors and on the many white painted doors.


"The Professor will be in soon," said the Matron.


Close to the big double door were a few armchairs and a small table, lit by a lamp. There a doctor wearing a white coat conversed with a few ladies.


Grete grabbed Lili's hand. "That is Professor Kreutz, isn't it," she whispered.


"You are mistaken, Grete," Niels said. "Besides, you have never seen him. That is certainly just an assistant doctor."


"Grete is right, it is Professor Kreutz," Lili whispered, her voice quaking.


While he accompanied the two ladies to the director's office, he paused for a moment and greeted the new arrivals with ceremonious courtesy, and asked them to take a seat. They sat down around the round table, and Lili became quiet. She didn't hear or see anything. Grete and Nils -@Editor: #PLC talked about inconsequential things. White nurses came and and went wished them good day.


Lili saw nothing, heard nothing.


Just when the door to the director's office opened again, and the two ladies were led out by the Professor, did she awake to a new consciousness.


The Matron gave them a sign, and Nils took Lili's hand, to
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lead them inside. Grete remained sitting in the armchair.


A few months ago, in Paris, Professor Kreutz had seen Andreas before him a single occasion. Today Lili stood before him for the first time. The Professor accompanied them into the director's office, and then went outside to welcome Grete.


Lili, who had suddenly turned very quiet, looked around the room. It was a big room, resembling a study as well as an operating theater. In front of the tall window that overlooked the white birches of the garden stood an examination chair, in front of the wall a desk, full of papers. Everything in the room was blindingly white.


When the Professor returned, he sat down opposite Lili. She began talking about her stay in Berlin somewhat distractedly. Suddenly he interrupted her with a question. His somewhat earnest face showed a smile:


"Did Professor A. tell you the results of his chemical and microscopical analysis?"


"No, Professor."


"Well, then I can give you the good news, that all analyses were good. Everything confirms our assumptions.


And with a quickly thrown down, very factual remark he proved to Lili that he knew of the minutiae of the procedures undertaken in Berlin better than she did herself. And she breathed a sigh of relief. So she did not have to give him any explanation.


And she listened to his odd, veiled voice. A feeling of happiness came over her. The Professor spoke so sympathetically of everything concerning her, that she grew courageous. And suddenly she began telling him of her experience with Dr. K. in Berlin. However when she looked up and into Professor Kreutz' eyes, in those eyes which were bright and dark at the same time, - for just a second she endured that gaze, then the words died on her lips. She could not keep on talking. Suddenly she recalled that Andreas could converse with the Professor in Paris without any inhibition. Why could she not do that?

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Professor Kreutz looked at her questioningly, apparently waiting for her to continue her narration. But when that did not happen, he broke the silence.


"You should have come into the private practice, but unexpectedly everything is occupied at the moment. But it doesn't hurt that we have to wait a little with the operation. Because I am still looking for some especially good glands for you ..."


Lili winced at this factual reasoning. She did not know where to turn her eyes. She felt a boundless shame. She was totally confused.


The Professor did not seem to recognize this, because he continued very factually:


"Besides, it will do you well to spend a few days at the hotel, see the city and our museums. Also, you could also paint something. You will find many motifs here. Such a distraction should be most beneficial for you."


Lili seemed to lose all footing. The thought of not being accepted at the clinic right away, but to have to spend days in a foreign hotel seemed monstrous to her, like an undeserved punishment. She wanted to beg the Professor to allow her to stay. She also wanted to protest against his decision. And she looked at the Professor looking for help, and could not say anything other than:


"Yes, Professor."


With that the consultation was over. The Professor shook their hands and went out with them to Grete, told them of a hotel close to the "Women's Clinic " and bade them farewell very formally. And in the next moment he had vanished behind the door to the director's office.


Lili stood before Grete, speechless. She felt as if she had suffered a devastating defeat. A single glance of that man had taken all of her spirits – she felt as if through this man all of her personality had been shattered. With a single glance he had obliterated her. Something was rebelling within her. She felt like a schoolgirl who had just been scolded by a beloved teacher. She still heard the voice of
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the Professor in her ear. She felt a curious weakness in all her limbs. She stood as if in a fog and understood nothing. But later, when she reflected on the moment, she found the explanation: it had been the first time, that her woman's heart had quaked in front of her lord and master, before the man who had made himself her protector, and she understood, why she had already submitted to his will back then.

- - -


The hotel Professor Kreutz had told them of was located in a wide square, surrounded by trees. A garden surrounded the hotel. It was a quiet, genteel building and barely ten minutes away from the "Women's Clinic."


Lili and Grete got a big, bright room that overlooked the square. Nils installed himself in another room. Those were heavy and depressing days for Lili. She could not believe that they had not immediately accepted her at the clinic. She was firmly convinced that Professor Kreutz found her unsympathetic, that he was disgusted by her and that she appeared revolting to him.


And Grete wrote in her diary:


"Lili is completely desperate. She believes the Professor sees in her nothing but a disguised man, namely Andreas. She is imagining that she looks ugly and repulsive, and that every normal human being has to be disgusted by her. She cries incessantly. We went out a few times. But as if possessed by a fixated idea Lili believed she saw a confirmation of Professor Kreutz' disgust in the looks of every passerby. Of course we foreigners raise attention here in D., but Lili sees this condition only in reference to herself. She is beside herself that the Professor said she should paint something in the meantime. That was the worst thing he could have said to her. Everything that relates to Andreas she hates, especially painting. To get away from Andreas she should refrain from all the things that he had done, especially painting. The Professor should have known that, says Lili, or else he just wanted to express with that statement that
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he sees nothing else in Lili but Andreas in disguise."


The day after, Grete wrote in her diary:


"Nils is certainly right when he says that what the Professor is now doing with Lili is nothing but a spiritual modelling. Before the physical modelling into a woman. Up to now Lili was like clay, prepared by others, and that the Professor had now given form and life just through a fleeting touch. With a single glance the Professor had brought her heart to life, to a life with all the instincts of a woman .... The more I think about this, the more deeply I have to agree with Nils. Lili is now quiet and completely locked up within herself. She still cries to herself quietly now and then, but that is crying from homesickness. She does not know what is happening to her, and I can't do anything else but stand by her with kind words and patience ..."


The next page had the following entry:


"Lili said to me last night: "it is certainly not right that I think bitterly about Andreas. But sometimes I have to think of him and then I just don't know what to call him. I think I have to call him my dead brother. I have to get used to this. So much so that I don't even know in my mind that he and I once inhabited the same body, and that this body is now mine alone." Then she said: "Maybe I am the murderer of Andreas, and that thought torments me terribly. Because I notice that I might be much less worthy than he. He was a creative person. He was a painter, who had already some achievements behind him. And just because of this I am afraid wanting to achieve anything. Because if I were to paint some time and see that I could only do less than he could, then that would shatter me, so that I would have to commit suicide." Suddenly she said: "Grete, I see the clothes of Andreas that we left in Berlin, before me. I see every piece of garment. That is what I thought about at night. And I was scared to fall asleep again, because I was scared that I could slip into these clothes in a dream ..."

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A whole week passed like this. A deep melancholia descended over Lili. And this melancholia rose to icy horror when a few letter from Copenhagen arrived from the "Women's Clinic" addressed to Mr. Andreas Sparre from Paris. Lili felt completely compromised: letters addressed to a man, sent to the "Women's Clinic." Lili did not dare to even touch the letters. Grete, too, was not allowed to read them. Nils had to burn them. And now Lili was convinced she could never enter the "Women's Clinic."


"The letters have made it impossible for me. Let us disappear from here. Let us find a place, where I can die, ..." begged Lili without tears in her eyes, firmly determined to go into hiding somewhere in silence.


Then like a salvation the news came from the "Women's Clinic" that there now was a room open for Lili. Lili immediately left the hotel, and Grete wandered along with her in silence and very quietly the short way to the "Women's Clinic." And as Lili stepped through the garden with the silver birches, she believed she had found the promised land. The day after Nils drove back to Berlin.

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Chapter 13.


Lili tried many times to experience again the first moments that she had spent in the "Women's Clinic," and every time she felt again the boundless silence that had fallen over her disturbed soul. A gleaming hope that would lift her up to an invisible vault as if carried by holy angelic voices as in a hymn by Bach.


All fear and disquiet had fallen from her. Her own life appeared so incidental, so worthless. But an obscure feeling filled her with devotion, a feeling of being a confidant in something big, something more meaningful, mightier, more grandiose than anything human destinies commonly experience. She felt like a chosen one in joy and in pain.


A white hospital room, overcast by the green reflection of the garden. On a white table sheer, mysterious instruments and scissors under a glass cover. A smell of ether and formalin everywhere. The visits from the Matron, that powerful, fresh and motherly woman in a white nurse's outfit with the stiff, white cap on her silver-grey hair. Now and then a muffled noise entering through the double door, gradually dying down– ambulances, rolling by. And in the white room Grete. Every now and then subdued voices and footsteps. The door is opened, a slim figure in a white coat enters, remains standing there in the room.


Of this first visit of the Professor Lili retained only one, almost musical memory. A mood. A vision. What he spoke to her, she no longer knows. But since the moment he stood before her, in the white hospital room, all burdens had been taken from her. And everything inside her was safety and joyous hope.

- - -


Lili walked under the birch trees in the big garden and waited. One of the next days everything would be ready for the procedure the Professor had said.


The white trees shone silvery on the sheer, green lawn.
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Their branches stood against the grey, flickering air as if bathed in a reddish glow. Hedges and bushes here and there with still bare branches. Silken catkins on a few willows, buds, brown and reddish ones, and here and there yellow flower buds. And on the pathways many benches. Nurses clad in white took their lunch breaks there, greeting Lili and Grete. And in the midst of the big garden a group of young, pregnant women. They smile gaily and happy and look like big, freshly blossomed crocuses in their blue hospital gowns.


"Lili" Grete says, "Now I understand the beautiful German word "Vorfrühling" -@Editor: #PLC. Everything is so full of expectations here.


Suddenly a tall, slender man in a white coat walks through the park, hurries to the fever ward. An assistant doctor follows him and a whisper rushes from mouth to mouth: "The Professor." All eyes look after him, everything seems to stop for a moment.

- - - -


And then the tower clock struck. Six o'clock. It is time to go back to the room. The park is dark already, and arm in arm Lili and Grete slowly walk into the big building. In the wide, white corridors lamps have been lit. Young nurses in white uniforms with white, tight-fitting caps, bring dinner to the patients. Downstairs in front of the Professor's room stood the Matron. Suddenly his voice sounds through the open door. Lili starts. She pulls Grete -@Editor: #PLC with her, startled, around the corner, into the intersecting corridor, where her room is.


"What is with you?" asks Grete.


"Hurry," Lili whispers breathlessly and slips into her room. An inexp