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He pulled up a couple of chairs, one of which was still usable. His yellow eyes shone, trembling with joy, at being able to talk, to lecture, and to have a contract, over something that he was interested in. This was the single joy of the knowledgeable, to be able to share –

 

He explained the horoscope in detail, gave the ancient laws of the Assyrian astrologers, then moved on to the further advancements of the Babylonians, Phoenicians, Egyptians and Ethiopians. The Arabs, Greeks, Armenians and Persians – and the strangely sophisticated comments of the Alexandrian school. He explained at great length, clearly and factually, why the horoscopes of the ancient world were so accurate.

 

“At that time, yes, everyone believed in the eternal laws of the stars. Their principles? – Some nomad created them, somewhere in the desert. Then they became the norm – became solid and sacred through the centuries, conventional, like the numeral system, like the alphabet. The ancient world believed so solidly upon them, that their historians – Herodotus at the top of the list – used them in their histories. He said, more than once; ‘The history of these people as handed down by their tradition, is this: – but that is false; and in the stars it is written differently.’ And then he told the history of the people, as it was written in the stars – and not, as he had heard it on his travels.

 

Back then man had learned – already for thousands of years – how to calculate the procession of the stars, for the past as well as for the future. They were not that interested in the present – much more that which had been, and even more that which would be. In the stars stood the story of Jesus Christ – oh, with all the smallest details – and you can read them there today just as well as they could thousands of years ago before his birth. Isn’t it chiseled out in the clearest Sanskrit on that great stone in the Berlin museum? You only need to calculate the positions of the stars for this year or that one?

 

But then – a couple times in a century – there comes an entirely rare constellation – and it was such a one, which changed the entire world in the fourth century before Christ. Someone will come from out of the West: a young hero on a white horse. He will destroy empires – to him the gates of the cities will open and the armies will flee before him like chaff. And he came, the Macedonian Alexander, and fulfilled everything just like the eternal wisdom of the stars taught. A Russian, Murajeff, had calculated the dates, and everything was correct, down to the last detail, day after day. Why? Because the entire Orient knew the prophecy and firmly believed in it, because they had been expecting the conqueror for many years already. That was why the cities opened their doors to him, why the gigantic armies of the Persian King’s fled before a handful of Greeks. And King Alexander played his role as the emissary of the stars well enough, fulfilling – as much as possible, everything which had been prophesied by the astrologers, whose prophecies he knew so well, just like all the others. That’s why he cut the Gordian knot, and why he made the pilgrimage to the temple of Ammon! – The only flaw was that Alexander remembered a little too late his role as the young hero who had been promised to mankind; we know today, that he was nearly 50 years old and no longer young, when he marched his army against Persia. Perhaps he used makeup and powder – but, whatever he did to hide his age – he succeeded very well. – In the history books all over the world he is still described as the young, smiling, and radiant hero!

 

Because it is written in the stars – and it is the stars that are right – not reality.

 

The other important prophecy was that of the Messiah. The Jewish folk were feverish and excited during those years – the time of the stars had come – now he was there, the one sent by God, was in their midst. He appeared – not alone – there were several others like him. Didn’t John the Baptist go into the wilderness, didn’t he baptize with water – just as Jesus? And didn’t Josephus, the so-called Christ of the Jews, a little later lead exactly the same type of life as the Nazarene?

But why? Because – it is written in the stars.

Again and again the Bible tells us, that Christ did this or that – in order to fulfill what was written. Written where? – In the stars.

 

And so rock solid was this belief in the eternal stars, that the Alexandrian school did exactly the same thing as Herodotus: they corrected – according to the stars – the history of the apostles. And so – a few centuries later – the remarkable history of the performance of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple was included in the Gospel of Luke, like that of the flight into Egypt in the Gospel of Matthew.

 

 

These histories are written in the stars – every day they can be read again. The evangelist did not write it down? Well then, he must have forgotten – that’s why all the holes needed to be filled in.”

 

The little professor became warmer and warmer. His short arms waved around in the air, and he rocked back and forth on his broken chair. He spoke of the prophecies of the Aztecs and those of the Incas, which Cortez and Pizarro made good use of; he quoted one example after another from late Roman history and out of the Middle Ages, in order to prove, how magnificently every horoscope was fulfilled, as long as men did – what was written in the stars. He didn’t stop talking for a minute, making good use of the opportunity, gushing like a happy waterfall.

 

Frank Braun stood up, and laid a hand on his shoulder.

 

“I must interrupt you, professor,” he said, “I have an appointment –“

 

“But the goddess Labartu?” pleaded the other. “I still have to tell you, how the Phoenician Astarte –“

 

“Some other time,” he said, “some other time! I really don’t have any time today.”

 

Lotte van Ness adjusted her hat.

 

“Would you like to come with me for lunch, doctor?” she said. “You can tell me about all of that.”

 

“You?” he asked. “Are you interested in that?”

 

She smiled: “I believe – yes. I will report everything back to him.”

 

Professor von Kachele searched for his hat, and finally found it in a wastebasket.

 

They went up the steps and climbed into the auto. Lotte van Ness had them stop at Tiffany’s, climbed out, and immediately came back again with a little box in her hand. She opened it, and took out a slender, golden necklace, which held a small nondescript crystal. She showed it to the professor, and asked:

 

“I had this made – do you know what it is supposed to be?”

 

Doctor von Kachele examined this crystal:

 

“You had a Griffin engraved on it,” he said slowly. “A Griffin – do you have a baby?”

 

Frank Braun laughed. “A baby? No, she doesn’t. Why do you ask?”

 

Lecturing again, a finger on his nose, the professor explained:

 

“That is a Phoenician superstition from Trecento, which presumably the Crusaders brought out of Syria – this thing here – is supposed to bring ample milk to women!”

 

Lotte Lewi nodded, took the necklace, put it around her neck.

 

“You are right,” she said.

 

Frank Braun stared at her:

 

“Lotte, you – you need milk?”

 

“Yes,” she said quietly. “Milk. – For my child. A lot of milk – red milk.”

 

*       *

*

 

 

“Nonsense,” Frank Braun thought. “Foolish nonsense!”

 

But he could not get rid of the thought. Again and again his eyes wandered to the beryl which Lotte had given him. And he remembered the old stones in her breastplate.

 

The next day he again descended into Kachele’s Cave.

 

“Tell me professor,” he asked, “is it possible that precious stones actually possess the strange properties which superstitious people have ascribed to them through the ages? What I mean is – do you know of any actual case? Is it possible?”

 

The little professor coughed.

 

“Why not? Every child knows the strange properties of minerals – everyone has at one time played with a magnet and iron nails, or thrown sodium or potassium into a washbasin to watch it burn! All children have played with Mercury which is always in a liquid state, or set fire to magnesium because it burns with a brighter flame than daylight. Aren’t those marvelous properties? Practically every mineral has its marvels – and we only know about a few of them precisely. All metals oxidize except gold which does not combine with oxygen. Think of the silent emanations of radium, or consider iridium which does not dissolve in any acid, not even in aqua regia. And what about calc spar with its double refraction – and tourmaline, which becomes electric by heating, and topaz which becomes electrified by rubbing! Hornblende does not burn, meerschaum is hygroscopic and turns into a jelly when dissolved. – There are marvels wherever you look.”

 

“Even healing properties?” asked Frank Braun.

 

The professor laughed.

 

“But Doctor, you know that as well as I do! Haven’t you ever taken sodium sulfite which is much more effective than castor oil? Haven’t you ever used carbolic acid, and learned about its disinfecting qualities? Consider this – what would medicine do without minerals! Caustic potash, caustic soda, silver nitrate, all have a caustic effect; millions of people use mercury, and even more eat iron. Carlsbad, Vichy and all the other mineral waters are used for thousands of diseases. And there are still physicians – and authorities among them – that are solidly convinced, that you can cure all the diseases in the world with iodine and arsenic!”

 

“But then,” Frank Braun said hesitatingly, “then it would be quite possible that –”

 

“That some of the strange properties which our ancestors ascribed to precious stones are true? Without any question! Much of it is pure imagination, certainly; and often quite childish. But much, much might very well be true. And as you know Doctor, our so-called exact science is often childish enough: it is only true until we discover something to prove that it isn’t.”

 

*       *

*

 

Ch7-B A Horoscope

She bent over toward him.

 

“You are lying!”

 

“You don’t believe me?” he asked. Then he acted wounded, attempting a genuinely sad face. But she laughed out loud at him.

 

“I was right! – You were an agent down there for your country. Every day the newspapers talk about how the Germans are down there trying to incite against us.”

 

“Child,” he said – and this time it rang serious – “your newspapers lie every day. The Germans in Mexico are happy that they still have their lives: they were long ago made beggars through the revolution, which Wall Street created. There is only one down there that is inciting the Mexicans – the Yankee.”

 

She sounded very snobbish: “Inciting against ourselves?”

 

He nodded: “It will come out in the end.”

 

He became silent; he could tell that she still wasn’t convinced.

 

“I was with Evangeline Adams,” she said after a while. “I had my horoscope done. And yours.”

 

“You too?” he thought.

 

He asked: “Who did you have do them?”

 

She said: “Mrs. Cochrane, Doctor Deed and Otis. They all said different things.”

 

“And you still go to them?” he cried.

 

“Naturally.” she laughed. “Tomorrow I’m going to Sullivan.”

 

*       *

*

 

That – and certainly only that – Lotte van Ness had learned in America. Her library, her work and studies, her restless battles and researches in all these crazy books – that was European: German and Jewish. But she traveled around, almost every day, going to one or another of the many swindlers, which sold childish phrases for good money. That belonged to something else – that was the grand style of the New York upper class.

 

Nowhere, in no country and in no city of the world where there are as many swindlers as here. The rascals pursued their shameless and base handiwork with naïve cheekiness – mostly with old women – here and there even a man. There were several thousand of them in all quarters of the giant city: horoscope tellers, oracles, fortune tellers, secret counselors, occultists, psychologists, Chiromancers, spiritualists, prophets, Theosophists – and with no end. This included the dirty, ragged women, that hussled people on the streets, offering to read palms for a couple of nickels, to the highly renowned professor Reese, whom they called the brain of the world. And they all earned good money, from quarters up to ten thousand dollar checks.

 

– She had dozens of horoscopes done – each one always stupider, always more childish than the last. She scanned them quickly, then tore them up. It was really astounding, what they came up with.

 

And still she kept going from one to another, always getting new ones –

 

Once Frank Braun told her: “There is one, just one single person in New York, who can really cast a horoscope. I met him yesterday on the street – he is an acquaintance of mine from Europe. He is the only one, that is not a swindler and really understands something about it – but he will tell you right out, that it’s all nonsense.”

 

“Take me there,” she demanded.

 

*       *

*

 

Lotte van Ness picked him up the next day.

 

“Well, what’s the name of your magician?”

 

He replied: “Baron Otto von Kachele, university professor, Doctor of medicine and philosophy.”

 

“A university professor?” she asked.

 

He nodded.

 

“In South Germany – in Heidelberg, I believe, or in Freiburg – that was before my time. When I made his acquaintance, he was a spa Doctor in Thüringen.”

 

He told her the story of the man, while she drove through the streets. And it occurred to him, that he could tell many hundred such stories – all different in the middle, but all the same at the beginning and at the end. The beginning: a sunny rise in the homeland – good family, golden youth, work and passion. And then, at some time the tempest, the storm, the coming to America. And the end: a miserable arrival in this giant city, a pathetic, painful slow death through the long years. Deeper and deeper –

 

This one was a professor, master and doctor. As a student he had written for many learned periodicals, made a name for himself, became a private lecturer and a professor. He was comfortable enough, married a blonde, young thing, which adored him and cared for him. The path of his life appeared easy and even.

 

Then suddenly he lost his professorship, had to leave the city, overnight. Something had happened – and there were rumors – but no one spoke them aloud. They wanted to retain him, give him every further opportunity. He took an inferior position in a spa, continued his studies, and became world-renowned as an Egyptologist and Assyrian expert. He spent his money buying were rare antiques; but as a doctor he developed a very large practice in a short time, that gave him every possible comfort. Only, he didn’t do anything. He didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t gamble, didn’t travel – never looked at women, not even his own. Nothing held the smallest interest for this man, only his Sanskrit and hieroglyphs. What he was really sparse with was time not gold, he gave that out freely with full hands, while he worked through the nights.

 

Then – he was arrested, taken before the court, – and tried – he had raped one of his patients. In the beginning he attempted to lie – then confessed to everything, no longer defended himself behind the closed doors. In prison he was granted every possible facility, was brought all the books that he wanted, and allowed to work to his heart’s content – there he wrote a monumental work on Assyrian horoscopes. Yes, they even went so far as to permit him to resume his practice – he began in a different city, and in a short time again had a splendid practice.

 

It lasted two years – then the district attorney received a new complaint. It was exactly the same: he had again abused a woman, while she was under ether. Young, beautiful? Oh no – she was over sixty years old and horribly ugly – she was suffering from nose cancer.

 

The district attorney knew him well – and would have gladly saved him! He hesitated a moment, then had a warrant sworn out – for the next morning. But that evening he went to the pub and talked about it –

 

And the others sat around: the judge, head Forrester, physicians –

 

What would happen next? Long years in prison? Or an insane asylum for life? One of them went to him that night – and spoke with him. The professor was perfectly reasonable and not at all insane. But when the talk came around to what he had done, he slowly shook his head.

 

“I don’t know.”

 

That same night they helped him get away, and after two days he was on the ocean.

 

And now he had been in New York for several years. The money, which his wife had brought with her, was long used up, and what he possessed of antiques had to be sold far below their value. His escapades in Europe were no obstacle here – no one knew anything about them. But he could not start a practice again – he would’ve had to take all the examinations over again. Thousands of German doctors had done that and it would’ve been just as easy for him – as it had been for all the others. But: he didn’t speak any English. He read fluently anything in Sanskrit, runes and hieroglyphs, understood Phoenician, Ethiopian and Coptic – his English remained entirely terrible. And – perhaps he was a little afraid of himself. Couldn’t what had happened to him three times before happen again to him any day? He was afraid of practicing medicine – afraid of the hateful animal, that slumbered somewhere inside him.

 

So he plodded along. Like before he wrote very erudite papers for all kinds of scientific journals, like before was a corresponding member of all kinds of learned society. But in order to live, he did anything the moment offered. He invented a new gold mixture for dental fillings and sold it to a dentist who had it patented and made twenty thousand dollars on it – Doctor Kachele himself received fifty dollars as his share.

 

A swindle doctor, who was striving for a professorship chair in orthopedics at the Columbia University, gave him a contract to write a history of this healing art and promised him a hundred dollars for it. He was very unsatisfied with him, because he had hoped that the manuscript would be ready in three weeks at the latest – and the German professor needed almost a year for it. He worked through the nights, discovered perplexing annotations about foot ailments in Babylonian and Assyrian times, developed the material with a thoroughness, as if it dealt with a treatment that would rid the world of consumption. When he finally delivered his pages, the American was beside himself with indignation: the book was much too long and in addition had a crowd of illustrations – that would make it more expensive to publish. He deducted fifty dollars because of that and another thirty, because an English translation would need to be prepared. There was one other condition: his own picture with the signature. – The work was published – naturally with the purchaser’s name as the author; it won a prize in Harvard and the orthopedic chair was created for him at Columbia University. And then the Yankee showed himself as a gentleman – he sent the professor a copy, which bore on the first page a very respectful dedication: “To my dear friend.” And with it was a ten dollar bill.

 

But even such work was a rare stroke of luck. The learned Baron made his living with urine analysis. Day in and day out – for all kinds of doctors and quacks – he received one dollar for each analysis.

 

They walked down the steps, right out from the street – seventeen steps. Down below in the basement was the laboratory. The poor professor sat on a stool without a back, his hands on his knees, bent over, as if half asleep, among his tumblers, retorts, flasks and test tubes, that shone in an unnatural ultraviolet light like poisoned moonlight. His hollow cheeked features were very ugly, with a long, unkempt beard and dirty, grizzled hair on his head. Shortsighted, bright yellow eyes, peered over steel rimmed glasses.

“Doctor,” Frank Braun called to him, “how are you?”

 

The little professor jumped up, and reached out both hands to him.

 

“It is so nice that you came to see me, so nice. – I found the information that you are asking about, I have written it all down for you.”

 

He ran to the back, picked up a manuscript from a table, a complete thirty pages.

 

“There,” he cried. “Here you have it all! – Your voodoo priestess, the Mamaloi, cannot be anything else than a human personification of the Coptic Berzelia – and much further back – is the wife of Moloch, whom the Greeks call Basileia. I assure you, we have a straight line – no not straight, it is much more very crooked – from the Babylonian goddess Labartu up to the child sacrifices of Haitian voodoo! And the remarkable inversion, that the blood demanding Astarte gives her own blood, when –“

 

Frank Braun interrupted him:

 

“Thank you, Professor, you can tell me about all that later. Today I would like something else from you. This lady here –“

 

He introduced Mrs. van Ness. Kachele turned around, then noticed for the first time that there was a woman in his basement. He reached out his hand to her, but he didn’t greet her – bitterly disappointed that his lecture had been interrupted.

 

“Come now,” Frank Braun mollified him, “don’t be angry, Professor! I have explained to Mrs. van Ness, that you are the only person alive who can cast a horoscope – strictly scientific and without a swindle.”

 

“What?” cried the little man. “Scientific and without a swindle? To examine old horoscopes, that is science, but to cast new ones is always a swindle! Aren’t there enough stupid asses in New York who get rich by casting horoscopes for still bigger asses? Why did you come to me? You have gotten lost, right next door lives such a magician – every hour of the day I see elegant autos pass by. – I can mix you up some toothpaste, if you want, or give you something for eczema – I will analyze your urine – real cheap! That is honest work! But –”

 

Frank Braun cried: “Don’t get excited, Baron, it’s not worth it! If you don’t want to do it, you don’t need to!”

 

“No, I don’t want to!” shouted the professor.

 

“All right, all right!” Frank Braun calmed him. Then he added quickly: “This is a big laboratory – it’s a pity that it has no daylight. – Do you live here too, Professor?”

 

“No,” he snarled, “I have another room on 40th St.”

 

Frank Braun held him solidly.

 

“One room – for you and your wife? – How is she?”

 

“Bad,” hissed the professor.

 

“Is she sick?” he asked.

 

Doctor von Kachele shrugged his shoulders.

 

“Is that any wonder, considering the life that we lead?”

 

Now he had him, right where he wanted. He stepped up close to him, and said slowly and with emphasis:

 

“your wife is sick – under nourished probably – just like yourself! And you have the courage, out of false pride, to refuse a contract that could bring you a lot of money?”

 

The little professor pulled his head into his coat collar, and then poked it out like a turtle.

 

“A lot of money, you say? – How much money?” he demanded.

 

“How long would it take?” Frank Braun asked back.

 

The professor thought for a moment.

 

“If I should be really serious about it – look up all the old charts –” he took out his handkerchief, polished his glasses, then wiped the sweat from his forehead. “It will take at least three months,” he continued, “perhaps four, if I am to do it properly.”

 

“I’ll pay you ten dollars a day – for four months!” said Mrs. van Ness.

 

He calculated.

 

“That – that would be – over twelve hundred dollars –“ he stammered.

 

She nodded: “do you accept?”

 

“Yes!” he cried out loud. “I –“ but he interrupted himself suddenly. “Doctor,” he began hesitantly and clumsily, “I have known you for ten years now – but – we have never had any business dealings with each other –” he cleared his throat, tried to work up his courage, and began again. “You see, I have been cheated of my reward so often in this country –” his voice broke, became horse and very bitter – “always – always!”

 

Lotte van Ness pulled out her checkbook, wrote, and handed a check over to him.

 

“Here, Herr professor. And please, don’t begin until you have cashed it. That way you can be certain.”

 

He nodded, mechanically, almost without understanding. He folded the check and put it carefully away in his wallet. Then he took a pencil from the table, and walked over to the whitewashed wall. He drew a large, clumsy circle and within that the twelve houses.

 

“Does the lady know, what a horoscope is?” he asked.

 

Frank Braun laughed.

 

“I hope so. She has already had a hundred done – from your competitors.”

 

The professor wagged his head back and forth.

 

“Basically they are just as good, as the one that I am going to make for you – from the stars. Whether I sit down and fantasize something for you in five minutes – or whether I put together in a longer work after finding out all the old Assyrian rules, what the stars signify in your hour of your birth – that is something completely different! It all depends on you, gracious Frau! You can have it done, like Alexander the great did – or like Jesus of Nazareth – then your horoscope will be accurate! Mine or that of the smallest fortuneteller on Coney Island –” he had completely regained his equilibrium.

 

“Would you like to hear?” he asked. “For just a quarter of an hour? I must tell you, what you will get for your money! – Sit down please, sit down!”

 

 

Ch7-A Back Home

Chapter 7

 

Crystals

 

“In a very secret manner the Wesir,

Who is threefold wise, created a mirror for himself

Out of purest mountain crystal. – And when the Shah

Cast a glance into this magic mirror,

The book of destiny of the seven worlds,

Which is seven times hidden, lie there open –“

 

Dschami, Salamân and Absal

 

Ernst Rossius met him at the station.

 

“How is it going with our detectives?” Frank Braun asked him.

 

“Fine, thank you,” the secretary said. “They will be glad to see you back, Doctor – dead or alive!” He stepped back, staring at his superior. “Really – more dead than alive! You look –”

 

“Never mind, say it!”

 

“Like sour beer and spit!” the secretary burst out.

 

Frank Braun thought: “As long as it is nothing worse!” He had been forced to stop on the way, spending three days in bed in a St. Louis hotel. But the rest had not done him any good; he still felt just as tired, just as worn-out and empty as before.

 

Lotte van Ness was not nearly as worried as Rossius. Frank Braun thought:

 

“She only pretends, because she doesn’t want to scare me. That’s silly, because there are mirrors, after all! Besides, I’m not frightened at all.”

 

That night he lay on the sofa with his head in her lap while she took his hands in hers and softly stroked his forehead. He told her about Mexico and about Poncho Villa.

 

She asked: “His name was Colonel Pearlstein, you say?”

 

He nodded and smiled. It was a fixed idea of hers that the Jews would do it – would help Germany. And she believed that this Jew Pearlstein would lead the Mexicans into Texas, and in that case the English and Italians, the Russians and French would get no more war supplies; and then Germany would win the war.

 

“And if Villa burns down ten Yankee cities, the English lackey that sits on George Washington’s chair still won’t do anything. Never, never!” Frank Braun thought.

 

But he did not say it; he let her dream.

 

He felt quieter and stronger, his brain cleared when her slim hands touched him; he softly kissed the tips of her fingers.

 

“Where is your little knife?” she asked. He gave it to her; she hesitated for a moment, then opened it quickly.

 

“It is entirely clean!” she cried happily. But then – in the same breath she sighed: “poor boy!”

 

“What is that thing supposed to be?” he asked. “Is it a magic mirror? Does it get stains when I am unfaithful to you?”

 

She nodded. “Yes – it get stains, large, ugly stains. But it is not a magic mirror – it stains are perfectly natural. Any little knife in the world would do me the same service.” She put it back in his pocket. “Guard it well; someday it will be bloody!”

 

She got to her feet quickly, kissed the question away from his mouth.

 

“Get up, my friend, dinner awaits!”

They ate and drank in silence. He reached for her hand across the table – he felt              at home now, quiet and peaceful – like at mother’s.

 

And at the same time, felt as if he had never held another woman in his arms.

 

Only her – Lotte Levi.

 

She had made herself beautiful for him – he noticed now for the first time. She looked radiant and exciting – she had never been so beautiful before.

 

Once she asked: “Are you glad to be back?”

 

He only nodded.

 

She dropped raisins in the champagne glasses; the raisins filled with air and swam like little silver fishes in the golden wine. They fished them out with their tongues, held them between their lips and munched them – from each other’s lips.

 

“Come!” she said.

 

*       *

*

 

 

 

He rubbed his half-awake eyes – sat up in the large bed. The sun shone warmly through the yellow curtains – how late was it?

 

He closed his eyes, trying to think, trying to remember the stray thoughts of this night. But he could only remember the dream he had had.

 

He had dreamed of the dancer, the Goyita – Dolores Echevarria. He had dreamed of her as she danced the rumba, of her neck and her breasts, of the tiny red wound with the single drop of blood –

 

No – that was not true. He had not seen her in his dream; he had not seen her eyes and he had not seen her dance –

 

He was fantasizing that now; he was daydreaming.

 

He had dreamed only of her smooth white breasts and of the small blood red scar –

 

He laughed and opened his eyes wide. “And it hadn’t even been there!”

 

He looked around – there was a dark red stain on the white pillow, a little smeared, like a streak.

 

Had he seen that while he was half asleep? Was that what had caused his dream?

 

He jumped out of bed – where was Lotte? Her clothes lay scattered around the room, on the sofa, on chairs and on the carpet – her shoes and stockings, corset and dress.

 

He took a bath, dressed and went into the dining room. The maid brought him tea and asked him to wait, Madame was getting ready. So he had breakfast alone and it tasted better than it had for weeks.

 

Had he really been sick and tired? He – yesterday? He could not imagine how he had felt yesterday – he was feeling so fresh and healthy now.

 

He went into her library, walked around, and read the titles of the books piled over her desk.

 

– Sancti Petris Epiphanii Episcopi Cypri Ad Diodorum Tyri Episcopum, De XII Gemmis, quae erant in veste Aaronis. Ah, that was about the breastplate.

 

“She takes it seriously,” he thought.

 

There was Franciscus Rueus’ curious book and a treatise on precious stones by Bishop Marbod of Rennes. He also saw the Hortus Sanitatis of Johan of Cuba, the grand Lapidaire of Jean de Mandeville’s, and the famous Speculum Lapidum of Camillus Leonardus. On a chair by the desk lay Cardano’s book and close by were the works of Konrad von Megenberg. On the shelves he saw Josephus Gonellus, De Boot, Volmar, Finot, Kunz, Morales and many other authors – all the men who had written about precious stones.

 

On the other side of the library, there were entire shelves full of volumes dealing with prophecies, secret revelations of the future, horoscopes, and divination. There was Albertus Magnus, of course, the magic book of Ragiel, Plotinus, Jamblichos, Dionysios the Areopagite, Paracelsus, Eliphas Levi. He noticed a surprising number of Gnostics, but there were also representatives of the Indian, Babylonian, Talmud – Jewish and Alexandrian school, as well as Christian mystics. And in all the books there were bent corners, reading marks, and pencil notations on the margin.

 

“What is she looking for?” he wondered.

 

*       *

*

 

 

He did not wait for Lotte. His secretary telephoned and asked him to come home to speak with a couple of men who were urgently waiting for him. He drove to 23rd St. and shook hands with the detectives in front of the door. Then he talked to the men and gave them a short report. In the evening he met Ivy Jefferson and her mother at the Claremont on the Hudson; Mrs. Jefferson’s beau, the English consul general, was also there.

 

“You look splendid!” Mrs. Jefferson said. “Sparkling like champagne!”

 

He smiled. He must have changed considerably in the past twenty-four hours. Only yesterday he had looked like sour beer.

 

“Thank you!” he said. “And you also seem –”

 

But she didn’t let him get a word in.

 

“It must have been marvelous on the West Coast!” she interrupted him. “It is a shame that we have never been there. I hope you accomplished your work in California!”

 

“Califor –”

 

He felt Ivy’s foot on his.

 

“Of course you did! You sent us such pretty postcards – from Los Angeles and San Diego.”

 

He returned the slight pressure of her foot.

 

“Yes, of course! Everything went beautifully. California is a lovely place –”

 

As they were leaving, he saw Farstin step out of her car, accompanied by two women. She gave him a quick glance which he failed to understand, and brushed past him. But then she changed her mind, turned around and looked at Ivy Jefferson, measured her from head to foot and greeted him with a mocking smile.

 

“Do you know her?” Ivy asked.

 

He nodded.

 

The car drove up and he helped Mrs. Jefferson in. Then he turned and offered his hand to Ivy.

 

“No,” she said. “Mother is driving with her beau. I have my new car here. I wanted to show it to you.”

 

She climbed into the left side of her big new Packard, took the wheel and invited him to sit beside her. Then she turned and followed her mother’s limousine.

 

“You were in Mexico,” she said.

 

“So you spied on me!”

 

“No, I didn’t at all. It was the easiest thing in the world to find out.”

 

“How?”

 

She smiled.

 

“Didn’t you have your secretary send me a couple of letters? With the pretty heading: “somewhere”? He put your letter into another envelope and sent the letter to me just as you had ordered. But I called him up from Newport and asked him to telephone me every time a letter came for me. And the next time –“

 

“You told him that you were coming to town!” he finished her sentence. “And asked him to lunch – where?”

 

“At Delmonico’s, of course. He was to bring me the letter. He did – and three minutes later I knew where you were.”

 

“And what else did he tell you?”

 

“Nothing else! Unfortunately! I could not get any more out of him – and I really flirted quite nicely – with your kind permission. He made a slip in the beginning, but afterwards he was a bitter disappointment. By the way, I told everyone that you are in California.”

 

He whistled.

 

“Why didn’t you tell them where I was? It is no secret. I just wanted to see a bullfight again – that was all.”

 

“And you needed almost ten weeks for that?” Ivy persisted.

 

“Certainly!” he said calmly. “I had to wait until there was one.”

 

Ch6-G The Rumba

She wore a short, white muslin skirt and a blouse of the same material that was cut like a man’s shirt, but open in the front. A blue silk shawl was wound tightly around her hips and she wore a blue silk cloth of the same material around her neck. A third blue cloth was wound around her forehead, covering her hair, and tied at the back in a knot. The ends of it hung down to the nape of her neck. Her costume was that of a peasant girl, from the vaudeville stage, of course. The dancer carried a little basket in her hand; she made a few practiced movements, that were supposed to indicate that she was coming home from work in the field and that it was very hot. Why the heat should make her feel like dancing was not made very clear – without any plausible reason she decided to do it anyway. She threw her little basket away, pulled off the kerchief around her neck, and fanned herself a couple times with it, as if she was wiping the sweat away, and then threw it after the basket. The Goyita went through this little prologue without much enthusiasm, and with rather stiff movements. But you could understand the meaning of it: it was very hot – that was why she was very lightly dressed, with only a skirt and blouse. And: she wanted to dance.

Then she stepped out into the center, threw a glance to her organ grinder, and waited for the beat.

But suddenly, on a wave from the general, all the officers stood up with him.

“Viva la Goyita!” they cried. They emptied their glasses, and held them high in their hands.

Colonel Pearlstein went up to her, and handed her a full glass. And she took it, drank it down to the last drop.

“Viva Villa!” she answered.

She gave the glass back, and threw a quick glance around her. Stamped her feet, and cried out loud: “Send the women out, General!”

He could understand that! – No, she would not dance the rumba in front of them, not in front of prostitutes!

So the women had to go, out into the garden – had to wait outside.

Only then did she begin.

Slowly, step-by-step, stretching and weaving, but subtle and lithe. Gradually her movements became faster, more sweeping and curving. Ripples passed down both arms and down her entire body, from her throat to the tips of her toes, as if snakes were swiftly gliding down her body. And – in sharp contrast to that, was the motion of her shoulders, short, quick, and strangely angular. This was no dance of the hips or the belly. Not one where you kicked up your legs, lifted your arms over your head and made provoking gestures with the head and hands. Even though all of that played a part, even though she pushed out her belly and pulled it back in, rolled her hips – lifted her arms and legs high in gestures of the tiresome heat, that sought coolness. But their gaze was drawn only toward her shoulders, to her shoulders and her breasts.

Then she danced faster, wilder, twirling, her hands placed solidly on her hips. Her shoulders jerked, flew back and forth, sprang out, then back – one – the other – and again, both. Then it opened – only for a brief moment – her unbuttoned blouse – showed a narrow strip of glowing white flesh, down to her waist.

Then, it wasn’t just the shoulders that were working, no, it was her entire chest. – The stretching became a quick jerking, the weaving and swaying became a fast heaving – it seemed, as if she were dancing with her lungs. Always twisting, ever wilder and faster –

And then it jumped – from out of her blouse with a quick twist of her left shoulder – one of her young breasts. There it was – peering out, for a second – quick, as radiant as the white blouse – then disappeared again. Just as quickly as it had come –

“Ah!” Exclaimed the officers. “Ah, oh!”

She danced on. Again and again. This twitching of her shoulders, this trembling of her breasts – and the undulations of her lower body. Again and again. This stretching that became a quick twitching – this wild jerking that dissolved once more into gentle, voluptuous swaying.

Every eye was on her, expectant, greedy and hungry, waiting for that quick moment, when they would spy one of her white breasts.

“The other one!” They cried hoarsely. “The other one!”

That was the game, that it always looked as if one of her breasts wanted to jump out of the protecting blouse – which then covered it back up, again and again.

“The other one!” They screamed.

And almost at the same time, as if on command – the right breast flew out of the blouse. Laughing, glowing – like cool marble – then hiding once more behind the thin cloth.

Poncho Villa jumped up from his chair, and bent forward. His fat eyes protruded from their sockets, the spittle ran out of his open mouth.

“Las dos!” He bellowed. “Both of them!”

And his people yelled after him: “Las dos! Las dos!”

All of the lecherous lust spread like thick fog through the wide room. It crawled into their noses and mouths, Clawed into their poor brains. These crude warriors, at who’s laughing words, thousands of cheeky prostitutes were prepared to obey, these robbers and bandits, that tore half-grown children away from their mothers and dragged nuns from out of their beds, to whom the flesh of women was as cheep and common as their dirty pulque schnapps – they trembled in reverent excitement over these two breasts. Their fat, hot hands groped after these snowy globes, their dark eyes leered after the white quarry that jumped out and just as quickly hit itself again, their tongues, protruded like those of bulls, thirsting after the sweet drink of those white buds. Their nostrils scented the perfume of cherry blossoms, their ugly ears drank in the dancing music of those white kittens that played hide and seek –

One – quick, quick – and then another – quick, quick –

Frank Braun saw how the lame general Alvaro Gumucio embraced a pillar with both arms, clinging to it, as if he feared to faint. He saw, how Poncho Villa pressed his knees on the shoulder of the soldier, that was couching next to him, pressing him down with the entire weight of his bulk, as if he wanted to squash him.

“Las dos!” Whispered the dictator. “Las dos!”

Colonel Pearlstein, who was standing next to him, had a guarded expression on his face. He was still smiling, critical and slightly mocking – but it seemed frozen, turned to solid stone. And his fists were cramped around the handle of his riding crop, bending it, twisting – as if he wanted to break it.

And it even tore him into the red fog. It was, as if he was breathing in hot lava, as if he would choke in the heat of all this passion. And only distantly – distantly – somewhere in the clouds behind the eternal desert beckoned a white coolness –

White,white – there was white somewhere in the infinite distance – shade and snow – innocence and purity – and – behind the marble and the swans and death’s cold grave clothes – was a release from all this burning torment. There somewhere, in the clouds that covered the moon – that wrapped the white glowing light in a radiant mystery – the great salvation –

Then he saw it – flying past like a shooting star in the November night – a little red strip in the middle of her breasts. A small wound, scarcely a half inch long – and a single drop of blood oozed out of it –

Something whipped him into a frenzy – something pulled him forward –

But he conquered it, clung with both hands to the arms of his chair. Held fast.

One – a glimpse – a glimpse – and then another – a glimpse –

Poncho Villa clenched his fists.

“Las dos!” He pleaded. “Las dos!”

Suddenly, with a jerk, she stopped as the music broke off. She drew herself up to her full height – her proud head flung far back – her deep blue, triumphant gaze over her slaves. She stood, threw her arms back, and then with a wild shudder pulled her shoulders back: and then they sprang out, both at the same time – her young breasts.

– No one laughed, no one said a word. There was only a deep, breathless silence.

Were they weeping? Down on their knees? – All of them?

*  *

*

The Goyita stepped back, threw a shawl over her shoulders, and sat down on her chair next to the organ grinder.

No one applauded; no one scarcely dared to make a move. It appeared as if they were petrified, the way they sat there and stood, spellbound and hypnotized for minutes.

Frank Braun thought: ‘She learned that from the animal trainer! – And she had surpassed her master! She understood how to tame the beast.’

The dancer stood up and slowly walked across the courtyard. Colonel Pearlstein, pushed a chair over for her, and she sat down. She said quietly:

“Give me something to drink. I am thirsty.”

The Colonel filled a glass, and she drank.

“It is your name day today, general – to your health!”

At that Poncho Villa woke up. He reached into the little basket, that the soldier held between his knees, and took out the black leather box, then handed it to her without a word. She took it, opened it, and then said with a smile –

“Am I supposed to shave?”

He was confused, like a schoolboy. He took the chest back, then grabbed the watches, bracelets and earrings that he had bought from the peddler and dropped them into her lap. He also pulled off the fat diamond rings from his fingers and threw them in as well. Colonel Pearlstein took chains and brooches out of his pocket, and also handed her a couple of thick packs of new Villa bills. Then the others all came up, filling her lap with jewelry and gold. But the general reached again into his wallet, and took out two hand fulls of gold pieces, and let them fall into her lap clinking. He laughed, happy at how the gold rang so prettily on the gold.

She called the organ grinder, who brought her purse. She put everything inside, carelessly, without looking.

“Thank you!” she said.

Only once and for everyone.

But it seemed as if the officers were anxious for the dancer to take their gifts. They pressed around, sitting, standing, attentive, like dear children in a circle.

‘These are robbers?’ thought Frank Braun. ‘Murderers and rustlers? – They are sweet little lambs!’

And the beautiful shepherdess held them all with the blue silk ribbon of her eyes.

“Drink!” she laughed. “Drink! Be happy, it is the general’s name day!”

Then they drank. No one thought to call the women back – oh no – the Goyita was here, who had danced the rumba for them. She sat with them; she drank with them, smoked with them, her, the Goyita –

Frank Braun toasted with her.

“Who remains from the circus?” he asked.

She returned his gaze. “Him there!” she answered, pointing at the organ grinder. “Him there – and no one else. – He was one of the stable boys. Now he is almost blind.”

“Blind?” he asked. “From the fever?”

She said: “I don’t know. He lay for a long time in the hospital in San Francisco – when he came out, that’s how he was. Now he travels around with me.” – She looked at him for a long time with her sapphire gaze – it seemed to him, as if a cool, blue water bathed him, washing away all the hot dirt.

“You have helped my priests,” she continued, “You are good, like the captain was. Like all the other Germans on that terrible ship.”
“What happened to the animals?” he interrupted her.

She explained:

“The captain helped me to sell them in San Francisco. Also, the tents and the cages – all of it. I received a lot of money – more than we believed. I have had Masses read for the souls of the director. And for Louison – and for all the others. – Only they didn’t want the tiger and didn’t want the wolf; they were both sick. I nursed them back to health – I had more luck with them than with poor little Louison.”

She spoke quietly and calmly, good-naturedly and indifferently, as if she was speaking of a long forgotten time.

“The tiger was bad tempered and ugly, clawed at me, was treacherous and mean. That’s why I sold him to the general – it is good that the bull conquered him. But the Wolf is thankful and good – he is my loyal animal.”

She told him of the captain of the Thuringia, of the officers and the crew. Told of her excursions in California and Texas, Sonora, and Chihuahua. And how she finally came to General Villa –

No one interrupted her, everyone listened quietly. Frank Braun kept his eyes on her, but it was not her blue eyes, that he sought. It was like a compulsion – he had to stare at her throat, lurking, waiting, to see whether her shawl might move. Because underneath was a small wound with a drop of blood: he must see it –

Finally, she stood up.

Your name day is today, General Villa, I will dance one more dance for you.”

She called to her organ grinder – he had fallen asleep on his chair.

“Leave him alone,” she said, “Don’t wake him up! Who wants to turn the organ?”

They all jumped for it, but tall Dominguez was the first to seize the handle.

She pulled off the light blue blouse, calmly, in front of all the men. She was so calm, so certain of her power over the men.

Frank Braun sharpened his gaze – but where was the little wound?

But this throat, and this bosom was white, blinding white. There was not the slightest red scratch anywhere.

He had dreamed it –

She wrapped a yellow shawl around her body, over her hips, breasts and shoulders. She stood up, and danced a short, simple Ole.

She took the flowers out of her hair, divided them, gave them to everyone. But Poncho Villa received the largest and the most beautiful one. She stepped again to the middle, and said:

“Another one from Sevilla – and then I’m done. – The one, the one they dance in Chipiona – for their Madonna.”

She danced, light footed and happy, bending and swaying softly. And she sang, a simple and naïve little Coppola:

“Morena, Morena eres,
Bendita tu, Morenura!
Que me tienes en la cama
Sin frio ni calentura!”

“Who is Morena?” Asked the general, “the brown haired one, of whom you sing?”

“Who?” She cried. “She is the mother of God, the brown haired mother of God from Chipiona!”

Once again, they raised their glasses, and drank once more to the dancer’s health.

General Villa cried: “I don’t want any more wine. Bring mescal schnapps!”

Frank Braun seized the colonel’s arm.

“Do you have mescal?” he asked. “I have been asking every person in the entire city for it. And no one can find me even a single button!”

The colonel laughed:

“We are not any better! The general is crazy about mescal – like every one of us. It is strongly commanded, that all of it should be delivered here, if we can find any – but no one can find anything, and nothing is ever delivered! What we call mescal schnapps, has nothing of mescal, other than the name – only one fruit in 100 liters of strong alcohol.”

The dancer lightly touched his arm.

“What do you want?” she asked.

“Mescal buttons!” he replied. “They are little fruits, from a type of cactus. The Indians call it peyote –”

She said: “I will find you some.”

He looked at her in astonishment. “You? Where?”

“I don’t know,” she answered. “But I will find some.”

Then she left. She nodded lightly, and she smiled at those around her. But she didn’t shake hands with anyone.

Behind her went the organ grinder.

*   *
*

The women slowly sneaked back into the court, one after the other. It became loud again, wilder and noisier.

Then more dice throwing, card playing, yelling and singing –

The Saint was gone – and the silent church once more became a whorehouse.

They brought large bottles, thick bellied and heavy, and poured pungent fluid into the glasses, mixing it with wine. There were no corks stuck in the bottlenecks – but brown dried things, like little roots.

Colonel Pearlstein handed him one.

“What is this?” he asked. “But he didn’t try it.

“A finger!” laughed the adjutant. “A dried finger from a Yankee that we shot down at Naco!”

He asked: “Is that the general’s joke?”

“No,” cried Pearlstein, “Colonel Gumucio invented it; he maintains that the schnapps tastes better that way.”

He put one arm under his, “Come, Doctor, we will go. What’s going to happen here now – is not very enjoyable.”

They rode slowly to the city.

“What do you want with the mescal anyway?” asked the Jew.

He answered: “I was just reminded about it. I have not had any for a long time – at least ten years or more. And I thought, perhaps it might help when I have one of these damned attacks.”

Colonel Pearlstein shrugged his shoulders: “I don’t believe in that stuff. But it is true that all the Indians swear by it.”

He pointed with his riding crop to a couple miserable, completely destroyed and burned down walls.

“A large house once stood there,” he said. “It was that of the American consul. They tore it down to the ground.”

“And the consul?” he asked.

“He was lucky. Someone hid him, and helped him to flee – they would have shot him dead, if they had discovered him – so they vented their rage out on the stones. I think the Yankees will be receiving a lot of abuse from us!”

“All of them!” nodded Frank Braun. “Yet even if you shoot dead every single American in this land beginning with the consul  – President Wilson still won’t do anything.”

“Why not?” asked the Colonel.

Frank Braun said: “Pah, you know yourself! Because the Mexicans are supposed to kill themselves! Even more, because that’s the way England wants it – and, you see, colonel, the president and the entire government – and the entire ruling and rich classes in the United States – they make much, much money, when they do what London commands! What you receive in weapons and ammunition, is enough to make each of you dangerous to each other. Yet such shipments serve no purpose for the Yankee – in contrast – he earns one bloody million after the other on war supplies that he sends to Europe – against Germany and Austria, and for Russia and its friends. The war would have ended over there a long time ago, if America didn’t daily send so much to the Allies, as they do every year. That is Yankee land’s greatest business – and as long as that blossoms, they must have peace with you! – Because, you understand, Colonel, if America had to fight with you, they would need those weapons themselves and those munitions: In one blow the shipments overseas would be forbidden. But that would mean Germany’s victory. Only later, when you are entirely weak, will the American give you the mercy stroke from behind – that is when there will be order. But as long as the war lasts in Europe – you will have your beautiful piece; can plunder the consulate and murder Americans to your hearts content! The war, which you need to unite your country, the outside war – can be brought about only one way!”

“How?” asked the adjutant.

“Only one way –” repeated Frank Braun. “If Mexican troops attack Texas or California.”

Colonel Pearlstein didn’t answer, and remained quiet for a long time, became very silent and thoughtful. They rode through the streets without a word. They came to the fonda. Frank Braun climbed down, let his horse be brought to the stall, and shook hands with the adjutant.

“Good night,” he said.

The Colonel shook his hand, then whistled, and stroked the neck of his horse with the riding crop.

He spoke slowly:

“I am an American, was born in New York. I would be with them, riding behind the Star-Spangled Banner today, if they would have had me. They didn’t want me – pushed me away like a leper –”

He gave his animal a quick blow, that frightened it so that it jumped to the side. He corrected it quickly, turned around, and rode away at a trot.

Then he stopped suddenly, turned in the saddle, and cried loudly through the night:

“I will bring Poncho Villa across the border!”

.

They brought the priests back and the nuns with them; the general had them lined up.

“It would give me great pleasure to try out this revolver,” he laughed. He raised the revolver, aimed it for a moment at the head of the first, then suddenly lifted the weapon high and shot into the air.

The old nuns screamed out and fell on their knees, praying out loud. The priests followed their example.

“Shut up, pack,” the general continued. “You are not worth the powder to kill you! Stand up, priests – this man here has paid your ransom! You are free!”

He turned to his adjutant.

“Don Benjamino, see to it, that nothing happens to them! Write out passports for them for their journey to the United States.”

But he had not yet had enough. He called one of the priests over to him and he gave him a cigar. The priest took it, turning it in his trembling fingers.

“Smoke!” commanded the dictator. A soldier held out a burning match for the priest to light his cigar, who then took a couple careful pulls.

“Smoke harder!” cried Poncho Villa. “Inhale and exhale!”

The priest obeyed – sucked as hard as he could, with sucked in cheeks.

Five, six pulls – then the firework exploded with a sharp bang. Frightened, he let the cigar fall, his entire body trembling. His shaking legs threatening to collapse.

Poncho Villa doubled over with laughter.

“Go, go, black gown! And if you get back to Spain, tell your brothers: these are the kind of cigars that they smoke with General Villa.”

Colonel Pearlstein had them led away. But they were not yet out the door, when the dictator called them back.

“Not the nuns,” he bellowed, “not them! He bought the priests, one revolver for each of them. He did not buy the old women – they hang! Out with them!”

Frank Braun cried: “I will buy them too, general.”

“Do you have any more revolvers?” screamed a Villa. “And enough bullets?”

He searched in his suitcase – it was empty. He had only packed six weapons – and he had given away all the toys. The only things left were a couple of books.

“Here, my suitcase –” he offered.

“No!” cried the general. “Give that to Captain Gonzalez, so that he will get your priests safely back to Yankee land. I want revolvers for the nuns, just like for the priests! And if you don’t have anymore – then they must dangle.”

Then the Goyita pressed forward. He had not noticed her the entire time – but now she was suddenly there.

She pushed a couple of officers to the side, and stood right in front of the dictator, drewing herself up to her full height.

She spoke: “I will pay their ransom.”

Poncho Villa screamed at her: “you? – Even if you give me the weight of these stuffed pigs in gold, you won’t get them.”

The Goyita said: “I will dance the rumba.”

The general jumped up. “The rumba? – The nuns are free! Captain Gonzalez – you see to it, that they get through safely and are unharmed.”

The dancer stepped up to the nuns, kissed them, gave each a couple of gold pieces – then came quickly back to the dictator.

“Give me a glass of wine, general,” she said.

Poncho Villa held out champagne to her – she emptied the glass in three quick droughts.

“Another one!” she asked.

Frank Braun gave her his full glass – she thanked him with a small glance, and drank the wine.

“Clear the floor,” she said. “I will get dressed.”

She took her cloths, shoes, castanets, all of the her things in her arms, and went into one of the rooms that led off from the patio.

Once more the officers cleared out a place in the middle, swept it clean of bottles, dirt and paper. Then they all filled their glasses to the brim, and waited.

One, lean, with a heavy mustache, stood next to Frank Braun and looked at him, as if he wanted something, that he did not dare to ask for.

“What do you want?” asked the German.

The Mexican pointed at the leather suitcase with greedy eyes.

“May I have it?” he asked. “The general –”

“Are you Captain Gonzalez?” Frank Braun interrupted him.

The other nodded. The German reached inside, took out the books, and gave him the suitcase, following him to the door.

“Promise me –” he began.

The captain did not let him finish a word.

“I will give them something to eat and to drink, as much as they want – even tonight! I will bring them safely to the border – don’t worry about it.”

He tenderly caressed the beautiful leather suitcase.

“Come on!” He cried to the priests and the nuns.

Frank Braun stepped up to them, gave them Villa gold and American dollar bills. Then he remembered the books, which he held in his hand.

Perhaps – travel guides –

He opened them – no, that is not what they were! – Jacopone da Todi – was one of them. And the other, the thin one, contained the songs of St. Francis and those of his disciples.

“Who can read Latin?” he asked.

One could, the one that had been made to smoke a cigar. He gave him the verses of the Saint of Assisi.

“Is one of you an Italian?”

No, they were all Spanish. But the old mother superior had lived in Rome, and understood both Latin and Italian. He gave her the sweet songs of the man from Todi.

“Don’t forget, mother,” he said, “don’t forget: that these are the pious poems of the one that wrote the Mater Dolorosa as well as the Mater Speciosa. Dolorosa – was the mother of God – who has been with all of you tonight – very tragic! And yet she was also – the Speciosa! And meditate on this: Dolores is the name of the woman, that has made you free, Dolores Echevarria.”

From inside came the sounds of the organ grinder.

“Go with God!” he cried. “Pray for the Catholic priests in this land. And – for the Jews in Russia – the same thing is happening to them over there, as is happening to you here! – And, and, – for the Germans – everywhere in the world!”

He hurried away – and again took his place next to Villa. But the dancer was not yet back – it was only the hand organ playing the wild rhythm of the rumba.

“Congratulations!” The Colonel whispered to him. “That was well done! But I tell you, Doctor – a half year ago Villa would not have set the priests and the nuns free! Not for the shaving kit and not for the revolvers, not for your exploding cigars or for the other toys from the New York five and ten cent store! – Not even for the rumba of the Goyita!”

He handed him a full glass.

“Don’t drink yet – just wait – until the dancer comes,” he continued. “The French revolution is going out of fashion with us – that is what it is! Sometimes the general doubts, whether it really is necessary to kill everyone that wears priestly garments! Did you hear any juicy curses from him, any blasphemies? Nothing – not one word! But a half year ago, he spit them out with every sentence: “Me cago em Dios!” – “Jodo en la Virgen!” – Unflattering filth, such as no one other than him in the entire world can speak! Now it is different, since we have been studying the Prussian King. – I have, God help me, not learned very much, and don’t know whether everything is true, that our Spanish book tells of Frederick the great. That he was a devout atheist – that he believed in nothing – that impressed Villa. But then it said, that despite that, he left all the religions in peace. That he said, that everyone could believe in their own way. In the beginning, the general could not grasp that at all – but it appears that he has gradually come to understand. Because, you see, when we have a book, we all read it at least a dozen times over and over again! The general has to copy somebody – and I believe, that the day is not far away, where everyone can pray in his own way, as he wishes!”

He interrupted himself – the Goyita stepped into the courtyard.

They brought the priests back and the nuns with them; the general had them lined up.

“It would give me great pleasure to try out this revolver,” he laughed. He raised the revolver, aimed it for a moment at the head of the first, then suddenly lifted the weapon high and shot into the air.

The old nuns screamed out and fell on their knees, praying out loud. The priests followed their example.

“Shut up, pack,” the general continued. “You are not worth the powder to kill you! Stand up, priests – this man here has paid your ransom! You are free!”

He turned to his adjutant.

“Don Benjamino, see to it that nothing happens to them! Write out passports for them for their journey to the United States.”

But he had not yet had enough. He called one of the priests over to him and gave him a cigar. The priest took it, turning it in his trembling fingers.

“Smoke!” commanded the dictator. A soldier held out a burning match for the priest to light his cigar, who then took a couple careful pulls.

“Smoke harder!” cried Poncho Villa. “Inhale and exhale!”

The priest obeyed – sucked as hard as he could, with sucked in cheeks.

Five, six pulls – then the firework exploded with a sharp bang. Frightened, he let the cigar fall, his entire body trembling. His shaking legs threatened to collapse.

Poncho Villa doubled over with laughter.

“Go, go, black gown! And if you get back to Spain, tell your brothers: these are the kind of cigars that they smoke with General Villa.”

Colonel Pearlstein had them led away. But they were not yet out the door, when the dictator called them back.

“Not the nuns,” he bellowed, “not them! He bought the priests, one revolver for each of them. He did not buy the old women – they hang! Out with them!”

Frank Braun cried: “I will buy them too, general.”

“Do you have any more revolvers?” yelled Villa. “And enough bullets?”

He searched in his suitcase – it was empty. He had only packed six weapons – and he had given away all the toys. The only things left were a couple of books.

“Here, my suitcase –” he offered.

“No!” cried the general. “Give that to Captain Gonzalez, so that he will get your priests safely back to Yankee land. I want revolvers for the nuns, just like for the priests! And if you don’t have anymore – then they must dangle.”

Then the Goyita pressed forward. He had not noticed her the entire time – but now she was suddenly there.

She pushed a couple of officers to the side, and stood right in front of the dictator, drawing herself up to her full height.

She spoke: “I will pay their ransom.”

Poncho Villa yelled at her: “you? – Even if you gave me the weight of these stuffed pigs in gold, you won’t get them.”

The Goyita said: “I will dance the rumba.”

The general jumped up. “The rumba? – The nuns are free! Captain Gonzalez – you see to it, that they get through safely and are unharmed.”

The dancer stepped up to the nuns, kissed them, gave each a couple of gold pieces – then came quickly back to the dictator.

“Give me a glass of wine, general,” she said.

Poncho Villa held out champagne to her – she emptied the glass in three quick droughts.

“Another one!” she asked.

Frank Braun gave her his full glass – she thanked him with a small glance, and drank the wine.

“Clear the floor,” she said. “I will get dressed.”

She took her clothes, shoes, castanets, all of the her things in her arms, and went into one of the rooms that led off from the patio.

Once more the officers cleared out a place in the middle, swept it clean of bottles, dirt and paper. Then they all filled their glasses to the brim, and waited.

One, lean, with a heavy mustache, stood next to Frank Braun and looked at him, as if he wanted something that he did not dare to ask for.

“What do you want?” asked the German.

The Mexican pointed at the leather suitcase with greedy eyes.

“May I have it?” he asked. “The general –”

“Are you Captain Gonzalez?” Frank Braun interrupted him.

The other nodded. The German reached inside, took out the books, and gave him the suitcase, following him to the door.

“Promise me –” he began.

The captain did not let him finish a word.

“I will give them something to eat and to drink, as much as they want – even tonight! I will bring them safely to the border – don’t worry about it.”

He tenderly caressed the beautiful leather suitcase.

“Come on!” He cried to the priests and the nuns.

Frank Braun stepped up to them, gave them Villa gold and American dollar bills. Then he remembered the books, which he held in his hand.

Perhaps – travel guides –

He opened them – no, that is not what they were! – Jacopone da Todi – was one of them. And the other, the thin one, contained the songs of St. Francis and those of his disciples.

“Who can read Latin?” he asked.

One could, the one that had been made to smoke a cigar. He gave him the verses of the Saint of Assisi.

“Is one of you an Italian?”

No, they were all Spanish. But the old mother superior had lived in Rome, and understood both Latin and Italian. He gave her the sweet songs of the man from Todi.

“Don’t forget, mother,” he said, “don’t forget: that these are the pious poems of the one that wrote the Mater Dolorosa as well as the Mater Speciosa. Dolorosa – was the mother of God – who has been with all of you tonight – much suffering! And yet she was also – the Speciosa! And meditate on this: Dolores is the name of the woman, that has made you free, Dolores Echevarria.”

From inside came the sounds of the organ grinder.

“Go with God!” he cried. “Pray for the Catholic priests in this land. And – for the Jews in Russia – the same thing is happening to them over there, as is happening to you here! – And, and, – for the Germans – everywhere in the world!”

He hurried away – and again took his place next to Villa. But the dancer was not yet back – it was only the hand organ playing the wild rhythm of the rumba.

“Congratulations!” The Colonel whispered to him. “That was well done! But I tell you, Doctor – a half year ago Villa would not have set the priests and the nuns free! Not for the shaving kit and not for the revolvers, not for your exploding cigars or for the other toys from the New York five and ten cent store! – Not even for the rumba of the Goyita!”

He handed him a full glass.

“Don’t drink yet – just wait – until the dancer comes,” he continued. “The French revolution is going out of fashion with us – that is what it is! Sometimes the general doubts whether it is really necessary to kill everyone that wears priestly garments! Did you hear any juicy curses from him, any blasphemies? Nothing – not one word! But a half year ago, he spit them out with every sentence: “Me cago em Dios!” – “Jodo en la Virgen!” – Unflattering filth, such as no one other than him in the entire world can speak! Now it is different, since we have been studying the Prussian King. – I am, God help me, not very well educated, and don’t know whether everything is true, that our Spanish book tells of Frederick the great. That he was a devout atheist – that he believed in nothing – that impressed Villa. But then it said, that despite that, he left all the religions in peace. That he said, that everyone could believe in their own way. In the beginning, the general could not grasp that at all – but it appears that he has gradually come to understand. Because, you see, when we have a book, we all read it at least a dozen times over and over again! The general has to copy somebody – and I believe, that the day is not far away, where everyone can pray in his own way, as he wishes!”

He interrupted himself – the Goyita stepped into the courtyard.

There was a knock on the door and the Yaqui soldier came back with a large leather suitcase. Frank Braun searched for the key, then opened it. The pistols were at the bottom. On top of them, Frank Braun found a heavy black leather case heavily decorated with silver. What was in that? He picked it up and looked at it. Then he remembered, silver toilet articles – everything of hammered silver. It was a present that a gentleman in Cleveland had given to him after a lecture. At the time he had scarcely given it a glance. It was a little shaving kit.

His secretary had packed the damned thing? How lucky – he could not have possibly found a better present for the general. Leaving the revolvers in the bag, he took out the case and stuffed his pockets with other silly, five and ten cent store articles. He went back across the court with the colonel, the box in his arms. When he got back to the patio, the peddler had already closed his deal with the general and was squatting in a corner, putting away his wares. The dictator was playing with the gold trinkets, looking fondly at his fat fingers on which he now wore three heavy rings, set with imitation diamonds.

Frank Braun walked over to him, shook hands, wished him a happy name day, and then gave him his present. Villa did not thank him – he was much too curious to find out what was in the case. He opened it cautiously and took out all the shiny things, one by one. There were three razors of Solinger steel and ivory handles, soap, cups and brushes. Everything could be taken apart and put back together again – that pleased the general very much. There were two mirrors – a hand mirror and a small desk mirror. He looked into that one for a long time. But the main attractions were the small manicure instruments – small files and knives, scissors, small sticks, powder boxes, little spoons – an endless store of wonders. The officers pressed around, just as astonished at the strange things as he was.

“Women!” cried the general. The girls pressed close. “Which of you know what these are?”

They devoured the shiny things with their eyes, trembling with greed and the desire to be allowed to touch them. But one of them pressed forward, proud and puffed up, “I know all of them!”

“You, Concha?” asked the General. “Where did you learn about these things?”

The prostitute said, “I was up in Washington. I went there with Colonel Benitez, the one general Madero sent.”

He allowed her to kneel down beside him.

Oh yes, she knew them all, had studied them well in Yankee land. She took out every little piece, explaining it exactly to him. He carefully laid everything back in its place, not trying to use anything. There was only one thing he could not resist – it was when she explained the ear spoon to him. He took it carefully between his thumb and pointer finger, and used it to easily clean first the left and then the right ear. Then he laughed, very satisfied with the result, cleaned it thoroughly on Concha’s hair and laid it back in the chest.

“Do you know how to use everything?” he asked the prostitute, who eagerly nodded. “Good, then you should come back tomorrow morning, to make my hands beautiful.”

He laughed out loud and stuck his dirty hands in her face, showing her the deep black nails.

The prostitute stood up radiant, smiling. What a stroke of luck – the general’s manicure!

The adjutant bent down to him.

“The Goyita is here, general.”

“Let her come in,” Poncho Villa cried. Then he turned to Frank Braun and offered him a cigarette. “Thank you Caballero, thank you! – Bring us wine, I want to drink with him!”

He offered a full glass to Frank Braun.

“Drink, German, drink! If you want women, pick one out for yourself. If you want a horse, say so and Don Benjamino will give you the best horse we have!”

He waved for a soldier to bring him a basket and some brown paper. He showed his present one more time to his officers, explaining everything himself, magnanimous and proud, deeply knowledgeable. He wrapped up the chest, and laid it in the basket. Then he gave it to the soldier. But he hesitated on whether to send it to his room; finally he ordered the Indian to squat down beside him with the case between his legs. Perhaps he would like to look at it again later.

The space was cleared in the center of the patio and the marble floor was swept clean. The men crowded into the space between the pillars, some of the officers sat on the few available chairs while the rest lay or squatted on the floor. The women had to stand against the walls in the rear.

A hurdy-gurdy man pushed his instrument onto the patio with squeaking wheels, placed himself in a corner between two pillars and immediately started to play. The Goyita followed right behind him.

She stepped into the center of the patio without bowing to her audience, without greeting anyone. She wore a Spanish costume; her hair was coiled high and pinned with a large comb, from which her mantilla hung down, a veil of black lace, that fell down over her shoulders. She wore several red hibiscus blossoms in her dark black hair over her left ear, and one of the same in the middle of her breast.

She had large, beautiful eyes that glowed a deep blue.

“Well, how do you like her?” Pearlstein asked.

Frank Braun looked at her. He knew her – why, certainly. Where had he seen her before?

Then it occurred to him – that was – yes, that was the dancer from the Thuringia, who had nursed little Louison! Then he also knew where Francisco Villa had gotten the Tiger – it had come from the fever ship!

He nodded lightly across at her, and caught her glance. She recognized him right away, but didn’t respond. She treated him like all the others. She waited for the rhythm of the hand organ, and then began to dance.

She danced a madrilena, playing with her little fan. Dignified, proper, a little stiff and boring. It seemed silly – a madrilena here!

But this audience liked it right away; they showered the Goyita with applause.

Then she took the castanets, and danced a rich petenera; again quite tame, graceful and delicate, like the well mannered Fräulein in Toledo and Saragossa.

She laid down the mantilla, pulled out the comb and laid them both on a chair next to her companion, the organ grinder. All her things were lying there, clothes, and shoes. He even saw a riding crop.

La Pegona, he thought.

She put on a hat, a gray felt hat with the stiff brim, a pert Córdoba, like those the men wear in Andalusia. And she selected a large manton, a long, fringed silk shawl of green and yellow with giant, red flowers. Then she returned to the center of the floor.

Then she danced the tango. But not wild and frenzied like the cheeky women in front of their clay huts, in the suburbs of Buenos Aries. It was not a gypsy tango either, like those, the Andalusian prostitutes danced in their cuadros, swinging their behind’s and lifting their skirts. No, it was very measured, proud, and reserved. Almost moral – ad usum Delphini!

She threw the hat away, and took up a white manton. Then she danced the seguidialla, then the soleares. Finally, with a very beautiful old cloth of deepest violet she danced a malaguena. And always with the clicking castanets.

Family dances, he thought. Exactly like the high society girls danced in Granada, in Jaen and Sevilla. Those, those who were educated in cloisters, who could converse in French and play the piano badly, who were never allowed out on the streets alone and in the evenings  and received their lovers at the ugly, narrow barred windows that separated them from love through long years, until the priest spoke the necessary blessings in the church. She danced gracefully, very competently and  dignified.

She stepped back, sat down on her chair. Immediately she was surrounded by officers, who held out their glasses to her. But she shook her head, and didn’t drink a drop.

“The rumba!” cried Poncho Villa. “Dance the rumba!” And the others took it up, all  shouting, that she should dance the rumba.

“No,” spoke the Goyita. And not another word.

She pulled off the high-heeled shoes, and put on spargatten, peasant shoes of canvas made with hemp soles. Nothing else. No hat and no mantilla, no comb, nor shawl, nor castanets.

That was how she danced the quick Aragonese jota. Oh yes, there was blood in that – now she showed some of her slender legs in quick movements.

The officers could not get enough, wanted more, always more. And ever again, they demanded her to dance the rumba. But this Frau remained firm. She put her high-heeled shoes back on, and danced the faruca, sensuous like a gypsy, swinging her hips –, no, that was not for high society. She danced the garrotin with her feet drumming and stamping, mimicking the movements of the toreros. And then, raising her skirts, and letting them fall, the provocative buleria.

“The rumba!” shouted the officers, excited, and aroused. “The rumba!”

“No!” She said again.

In a skirt with a long train. She danced the Flamenco of the Gaditanian prostitutes, the lapateao, and por alegrias, twirling and cheeky. She also danced the common Mariana, rolling her hips, throwing her buttocks, twisting and rolling her stomach, while the motions of her hands invited in shameless gestures.

Villa called out to her: “dance the rumba for me!”

He couldn’t stand that all the officers were standing around her, while he was sitting there alone. He fought with himself, he really wanted to jump up, and joined them. But he wanted to show, that he was different – not to his generals, – only to the dancer.

“Dance the rumba for me,” he cried, “only for me!”

Abruptly the Goyita stood up, going forward a few steps, the officers made room for her, crowding to the sides. She took another poll on her cigarette, then threw it away. With both hands. She put on the manton, and lifted her head high.

“No!” She cried at him. “Not for you, and not for anyone! – You are all drunk tonight – all of you!”

She walked diagonally across the patio, like a princess, and no one dared to stop her.

Poncho Villa fumed with rage – and yet he laughed – enjoyed himself – happy that at least he had held back, and not thrown himself at her like the others.

“You are like a bunch of horny tomcats,” he bellowed. “You are like a bunch of dogs,” he shouted, “running after a bitch in heat!”

They all laughed heartily, and only one old man replied – the crippled, ugly Alvaro Gomucio, who was lame in his left leg.

He cried: “you’re only half right, poncho Villa! –”La Goyita is not in heat!”

Again, they roared with laughter, filled their glasses and rinsed their hoarse throats with champagne.

*   *
*

An officer came into the courtyard, stood in front of Villa and saluted.

“Gonzalez as outside,” he announced. “He brought the prisoners from Bonanza.”

“Bring them in!” Commanded the general.

Don Benjamino muttered: “Oh No! this will go bad for them.”

A couple of officers and soldiers came in, covered from head to toe with the yellow brown dust and dirt; looking at them. You could see that they had come from a hard ride. They pushed their prisoners in front of them, who could scarcely stand on their trembling legs, pushed forward with stone clubs and saber sheaths.

There were nine, six men and three women.

“Priests and nuns!” the Colonel whispered to Frank Braun. “Look – the garb of the women was once nun’s clothing, before they became so tattered and torn and ruined by dirt and blood. And the fellows – do you recognize their tonsures? Now pay attention: now we’re going to play the French revolution.”

“What do you mean?” asked the German.

“In our book –” the adjutant continued, “in the book about the great revolution, that the general has had read to him at least a dozen times, it says that the Jacobites hated the priests. That they stormed the cloisters and raped the nuns. And that they hung all the men of the priesthood on the streetlights. We don’t have any streetlights – but we can hang them, just as well as the French.”

He explained to him, that a couple days ago, the general had given orders to pillage the convent of the Sisters of Good Hearts at Bonanza; there had been a rumor that a few priests had escaped and were being hidden by the nuns at this convent.

“I see the priests,” Frank Braun said, “but where are the nuns?”

Again Colonel Pearlstein laughed: “Oh, it was just a small convent – there couldn’t have been more than a dozen sisters there. How many are here? Three? Well, then the other nine are soldier prostitutes today! That happens quickly with us. You see, every troop receives the command to seize and bring to headquarters everyone who doesn’t put up armed resistance or try to escape. Only, if they try to flee – they are shot. But it is strange: it is always the sisters that are still tolerably pleasing, that always attempt to flee, always attempt armed resistance. We only get the old fossils at headquarters – to interrogate.”

“And the general is not jealous?” asked Frank Braun. “Not angry that his rascals only bring the old flesh and devour the tender themselves?”

“No,” said the Colonel, “decidedly not. Because he knows, that the young nuns would have already gone through twenty hands before they were delivered to him – that is no different than with our women. And then, you see, there is one other thing about the nuns. Earlier, the general himself pillaged many convents – and well knows the difference. He has long-lost the taste for that sort of thing – they are not good in bed. I believe, he would give all the sisters in the world for a single kiss from la Goyita.”

Captain Gonzalez made his report. There were the priests; the seventh, an eighty-year-old man, had collapsed, half dead on the way: they had left him lying there. Of the nuns, four had put up armed resistance, and five had attempted to flee: they had been shot down.

“Hopefully, you scored a bull’s-eye!” roared Villa. And he laughed aloud, like all the others, over his glorious joke.

He bellowed at the priests. “You have spied, you dogs, for general Carranza!”

One attempted to speak, a couple of broken words came painfully from his trembling lips.

The Poncho Villa interrupted him: “Shut up!”

He waved with his hand, then grabbed his glass, allowed it to be filled.
He shouted at the nuns, crying: “Can you dance the rumba?”

The old sisters stared at him – why was he asking that? But he scarcely looked at them, and hissed contemptuous: “Away!”

‘So this is how they do court-martial’s here!’ thought Frank Braun. ‘A single: shoot the dog! That’s all – then they place them against the wall. The Jacobites couldn’t have done it better! Why bother with hearings, with judges and witnesses and lawyers? They have tonsures, are priests – shoot them dead!

He went to the adjutant.

“Keep the people here, only for a minute!” he asked.

“What do you want?” asked the Colonel.

He replied: “Only for a minute!”

‘Like the Yankee press,’ he thought, ‘exactly like that! – They write: Germans! They are barbarians, Huns, betrayers, terrorists, robbers and child murderers! Kill them dead! Like the disciples, just like that! Jews, they screech, Jews, those that crucified the Lord, spilled the blood of the Christ child – kill them dead! –

He was a leper, the German, like the others – like the Jews, like the Catholic priests: so their fates were forged together.

He considered, then looked over at the general. He was uncommonly ugly, with protruding cheekbones and huge ears. Hairy from his neck down and with long hairy arms, with wild flickering eyes, that were even suspicious of themselves. The short nose was smashed in, the giant mouth below it was full of large snow white teeth, that glowed brightly from out of lips, which were much too short. And he ground them, ground them together, like a tiger –

But then the general struck the soldier that was squatting next to him lightly over the head. He took the leather case, opened it, and began to play with the mirrors and little spoons –

He thought: no – he is not a Tiger ! He is a gorilla, that is playing at being a Tiger.

He stepped up close to him.

“General,” he said. “You have promised me a horse. I have a good one – and don’t need a second one right now. Would you grant me a different wish?”

“What do you want?” asked the dictator.

“Release the priests for me,” he asked.

The general furoughed his brow; then he continued: “Not for nothing, general! I will give you a revolver for each one!” He turned around and asked the adjutant to bring his suitcase over to him.

Poncho Villa laughed. “A revolver for each priest?”

He considered.

“And I will give you five boxes of bullets with each weapon – 250 bullets!”

“You are making a very bad bargain,” cried the general. “All of them together are not worth a bullet.”

They brought him the suitcase, and he opened it, took out a box with wooden matches that would not light, and gave them to the general. Then a box of exploding cigars, a couple Jack-in-the-Boxes, pretty little toys. He emptied the suitcase, giving the general all of the cheap playthings.

An entire Christmas assortment for all kinds of children!

Poncho Villa forgot everything else in a moment. He watched as Frank Braun explained the childish pranks to him, meanwhile, sending the officers over to the other side so they couldn’t see. Then he tested the playthings himself, one after the other, calling the general’s back, then waving the women up, giving them the little things – pounding his knees with pleasure, when they fell for it.

Once more Frank Braun repeated, “Do I get the priests, general?”

“Where are the weapons?” Poncho Villa replied.

He took them out, piece by piece, and laid them on the floor alongside the boxes of bullets. The general took a revolver, and examined it carefully, feeling it.

Bring the priests!” he commanded.

He leaned forward, pushed his head up, and whispered, “We received champagne last night, 100 cases of it. And I christened him with the first glass of the first bottle.”

“You christened him?” asked Frank Braun in astonishment.

“Yes,” nodded the Jew. “Yes, I did! They christen steamers, airplanes, zeppelins, don’t they, and with champagne – why not a bull? And what a christening it was! I had a lot of fun – and it was a little complement to you!”

“What’s his name, then?” he asked.

“Just wait,” cried Don Benjamino. “First, we must see him – then we can talk about it!”

He turned impatiently to the back, and commanded the soldiers: “Give the signal – the signal!”

Then, in the same moment, as the trumpet blew, the gate flew open. And out stepped an immense bull. He came out with a calm, solid step – stood there, lifted his head, breathed deeply, and let his eyes get accustomed to the bright light.

“How do you like him?” asked Pearlstein. “And now tell me, what’s his name?”

Frank Braun looked at him closely. It was a majestic animal with wonderful horns that were sharp and bowed to the front, into the air and not to the sides. Then he threw his head up, easily and quickly; his neck was strong, his legs were sturdy, his breast was wide. He was spotted black and white, and in between showed little, rust red spots.

“Well, what’s his name?” urged the colonel. “Don’t you know it? – The colors! The colors! I christened him Aleman”.

On the side where the women sat a piece of colored cloth fell over the balustrade and down into the arena. A soldier jumped across the plank to pick it up, but the bull roared as soon as he saw him, as if to say: “This place belongs to me!” He rushed toward the intruder who quickly climbed back with the cloth. But this bull did not crash against the planks in a clumsy attack; he lifted his horns in the midst of his charge, and with a powerful jump soared over the man tall boards of the six-foot fence. Then he ran around in the narrow corridor, chasing everyone in front of him – soldiers, bullfighters, and cowboys, who ran for their lives. The chase went around the arena in the narrow corridor of planks, until, under the dictator’s box, one of the bullfighters closed the door, which shut off the courtyard door and at the same time opened a new gate into the arena. The bull rushed out into the arena and again stood in the sand, which he claimed as his domain.

Then, in the middle of the giant arena – he noticed the tiger. He did not rush at his opponent, like a wild storm wind. He walked forward calmly, step-by-step, his head half lowered to the ground, his eyes on the tiger, sharp horns pointing straight forward. 10 feet from the big cat he stopped.

Again, the tiger crouched, ready for the charge – again, the two beasts eyed each other suspiciously. Then the bull took aim, backed up a few steps for a start, and charged at the tiger. But the cat seemed to have foreseen this and jumped aside, immediately crouching down again – and then leaped forward. In the next instant the cat sat on the bull’s back, it’s powerful claws thrusting deeply into the bull’s body. But this only lasted for an instant – the next second, the two beasts were apart again. There was too much power on both sides – and the cat had apparently miscalculated the distance. Even his strong claws could not maintain their grip on the bull’s back, even though they toured deeply into the flesh, making the red blood gush forth in a torrent and then – then the blood christened him – better than the champagne – then he really glowed in the evening sun and the three colors of Germany.

Frank Braun threw a quick look at Colonel Pearlstein. The colors of the Lewis! He thought.

The bull, having shaken off his enemy, whirled around to face him, and shaking his enormous head back and forth, roared with pain. Then, in a quick decision once more rushed at the cat, which had not expected this new attack to be carried out with such lightning speed. The cat bounded aside, barely escaping the full force of the powerful horns, but was not fast enough. The bull’s horns caught him a glancing blow above the left hind leg. Not with the points, but with the side. And so much power was behind the thrust that it knocked the beast down and rolled him over in the sand. The bull stopped with a jerk, turned in a quarter of a second, and attacked again. But then the tiger also seized the moment, and sprang – hung on to the head of the bull – dug its mighty claws deep into the bull’s neck. The bull shook him off with two or three quick movements, instantly regaining his balance, and attacked again in a fraction of a second. Then his horns caught the huge cat before it actually touched the ground and threw him skyward like a ball. Then he lowered his powerful head and charged again. His sharp weapons caught the cat’s thigh and once more sent him sailing through the air. And then it was as if he played tennis with the giant cat. Wherever it fell, he picked it up with his terrible horns, and threw it high again and again over the sand.

Several times the tiger tried to regain his feet and crawl to safety – in vain. Cornered, he fought on, and often his claws gored. But the pain only seemed to make the proud bull stronger and wilder – his attacks grew ever more vicious as he thrust his daggers deeper and deeper, lifting the cat and pushing it toward the fence. And there he made his final attack – with both his horns. He nailed the dying Tiger to the boards.

Then he tore himself loose and trotted slowly to the center of the arena. In the last rays of the sinking sun, he rested from his victory, panting, bellowing triumphantly, wrapped in the red cloak of his own blood.

The crowd applauded; they screamed and yelled, half crazy in wild enthusiasm, in honor of the bull. They threw their hats into the arena, their coats, wraps, and shawls. They stood on the benches, stamping their feet, waving their arms and shouting:

“Bravo El Toro! Bravo El Toro!”

One man with the piercing voice of a castrate shrieked:

“Viva bravo Toro!”

The crowd took it up, 10,000 people shrieking in unison:

“Viva El Toro! Viva El Toro!”

Poncho Villa had also jumped to his feet and shouted with the rest. All at once he yelled into the arena:

“Viva la Goyita!”

Frank Braun asked, “why does he honor the dancer?”

The colonel whispered, “because it is she who –”

He interrupted himself as the general beckoned him to his side. Poncho Villa reached into a big leather pouch that hung at the left side of his belt, next to his saber hilt, opened it and took out a fistful of gold coins, all shiny new American $20 gold pieces.

“Take this colonel!” The dictator said, “count out 100, and send them to la Goyita!”

The colonel did so, tied the money in his handkerchief and sent three soldiers with it to the Spanish dancer.

For the last time that afternoon the gates on the east side opened. Cows came into the arena, red, white, and dun colored. Tinkling bells were tied to their necks and they were all decorated with ribbons and garlands of flowers; behind them, the chulos drove their quadriga of mules into the arena. The bull cast a quick glance at the four mules in their brightly colored harness and the red blouses of the drivers, and turned contemptuously away – no, that was not for him! The chulos tied the tiger’s tail to their ropes and whipped up their mules, shouting and waving. The mules dragged the dead beast around the arena at a fast gallop.

In the meantime, the cows surrounded the blood bedecked victor, pushing and crowding close to him. One, a beautiful, snowy white animal, put her pink snout against his neck and gently, almost tenderly, licked the red blood. He lifted his head over hers and licked her, just once, shyly and quickly, between her eyes and her forehead. And for a third time, the musicians struck up the Royal March of the Prussian King – but this time in honor of the proud, victorious bull.

This time the crowd did not make any jokes about women and cows and petticoats. They watched reverently, in silence and admiration.

That was the last number in the great games given in honor of general Villa at Torreon. But after the bull and his cows had disappeared behind the gates, one more shout arose from the stands, a wild, ringing shout in which the whole crowd joined in.

“Viva Villa!”

About 10 o’clock that night, Colonel Pearlstein knocked at Frank Braun’s door with the silver handle of his riding crop.

“Come along, Doctor,” he urged. “It’s time now!”

The horses were already saddled and waiting in front of the Fonda. They climbed into the saddles.

“The party is in full swing at Villa’s garden!”

The Jew laughed as they were riding over to the general’s quarters.

“They have eaten all the food and drunk all the pulque they want. Now the champagne corks are popping and Villa drinks with his generals in the patio; they’re waiting for la Goyita!”

They rode through the streets of the suburbs. Everything was brightly lit and from every house came the shouts of soldiers and the shrill voices of women.

“The men were paid today – their wages for three months. The money just got off the printing press; it arrived, with the champagne yesterday.”

“American money?”

“No, not this time,” the colonel said. “Our own! Here, take some!”

He pulled out a roll of bills from his pocket and handed it to Frank Braun – there were 500 bills of 100 pesos each. The bank notes were made of the cheapest paper, poorly printed with the childish signature: Francisco Villa. Frank Brown handed back the roll, but the colonel refused it.

“No, no, keep it!” he said. “From tomorrow on it will be legal currency – you can’t use anything else. Otherwise, of course, it has no value whatsoever – it’s just paper of which we can print as much as we like: Villa money!”

“Do the people take it?”

“They’ve got to take it. What other choice do they have?” replied the adjutant. “Didn’t the people take Assignat’s? That is where Villa got the idea – from his book about the French Revolution. We copy it in all details. Madero started that – then Carranza followed his example, and all the others – but most of all Villa. Zapata’s the only one who doesn’t do it – he plugs along in his own fashion. He probably doesn’t know there ever was such a thing as the French Revolution.”

In the gardens. The soldiers lay on the ground. They drank and gambled, smoked and sang, told crude stories, and crept behind the bushes with their harlots, emitting obscene bellows, shameless and brutal. Now and then one would hear the whining sound of a badly tuned arpa and would see them dance the national Jarabe Tapatio with clumsy steps. Or the women would dance the mitote alone, the warrior dance. In one place they were gambling for a wench who stood by and laughed. They dealt out the dirty cards: siete y media. At another place they rolled dice on an old drum for a woman. In front of some house they were taking chances in a lottery – for another woman-the prize. Oh, yes, it was truly a celebration – Villa’s great celebration.

They climbed down from the horses and stepped into the house. They walked through the house into the patio, into the open, square courtyard which the Mexicans had decorated with naïve taste as a ballroom. Mattresses wrapped in colored cloth were spread upon the floor of the colonnades, with a few wicker chairs and old rocking chairs arranged between them. Garlands of leaves with red, yellow, and blue paper flowers were strung between the pillars. Carbide lamps were hung high up on the walls, casting a bright, glaring light on the scene, and underneath the gallery dangled a couple of dim Chinese lanterns.

Here Villa was drinking with his generals and colonels – and with painted, half naked women. It was exactly the same picture as outside in the garden – here too, the men stood and sat and squatted on the floor, smoking, drinking, singing, making lewd remarks, and pinching the women on their buttocks or reaching for their breasts. To be sure, their uniforms were not quite as ragged and they all wore new leather chaps of American make. Nor were they quite drunk enough to simply throw themselves on the floor with the harlots; only occasionally would a man slap a woman on her rear and she would follow him laughingly into the house. Perhaps the girl were slightly younger, and better merchandise than the flesh that was offered to the soldiers. But the main thing was that here, they drank champagne – Goulet, Roderer, and Montebello – cold on ice as it should be. That is how you could tell they were gentlemen.

“Don’t you have anything you could give the general for a birthday present?” The colonel asked in a low voice. “It would flatter him.”

Frank Braun felt in his pockets; but they were empty. There was the little knife in his shirt pocket – but what good would that be to Villa, for whom every knife had to have at least the length of a good machete! Dammit, why hadn’t he thought of something!

Then he remembered the revolvers that his secretary had packed for him.

“I will ride back for them,” he said.

“Don’t bother,” the colonel said. “I will send one of my Yaquis. You can trust him. Give him your room key – and tell him what to bring.”

Frank Braun tried to give detailed instructions – then he decided it would be better to have the entire bag brought over. He described where the bag was – on a broken chair, at the side of the bed.

The colonel nodded, beckoned to one of the soldiers and gave him the key.

“Come along with me,” he said then. “In the meantime, we will have a glass of champagne in my room.”

They turned to go. Frank Braun quickly looked back to see whether the general had noticed them. Villa sat on his chair with a glass in his hand while a peddler squatted on the floor in front of him, displaying jewelry from a large wooden box – necklaces, earrings, bracelets – and wide gold rings with flashy stones – for the general’s fat fingers.

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