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Italian suiteBernhard Diebold
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The messenger of the gods
It was about eleven. The first paying visitors to the tower could be heard on the lower floors. The old guard emerged, said with a wave of his hand towards the area: "Bella vista," and led a tall man and a little lady out onto the round terrace. It was - you could tell by their kind of silence - quite obviously a married couple who first cast a puzzled look at the sleepy figures crouching on the floor, and then let the prospect be explained to them without a word. Hans and Jenny hardly paid any attention to the people, nor did they listen to the guard's speech, however sternly the old man urged them to pay attention. But they felt angry hunger in their empty bowels. Oranges are not very nourishing.
"How do we get back down?" Asked Jenny.
“Terrible if the children pick us up again. They think we're circus packs. "
"Well, we'll be fine again quickly in Florence."
“But it's still desperate to get to Florence. How much do we still have? I mean money. Is it enough for a car after all? It's probably not that far to the train station. "
They pull out their wallets, collect the pieces of nickel and group them into little pillars on the marble floor. The wretched money jingles pitifully on the precious stone. Next to it is Hansen's cylinder.
Hans says: "I still have 1.40."
Jenny says: "And I 4.80."
The scene looks very pathetic and embarrassing for such sophisticated people from the gentlemen's class. And now the watchman must appear with the couple, right around the curve. The gentleman speaks German to his wife.
"Oh damn, they heard everything about our bankruptcy," whispers Hans. Jenny quickly, if too late, moves Hansen's cylinder over the 101 nickel turrets. But the German gentleman just saw the hasty movement and couldn't hide a smile. The curly cylinder rocks deeply over the ruins of the travel fund.
The gentleman is a stately man about forty: beardless, dark, with an expressive nose that seems to smell some things with his wings. He also carries a thick bamboo stick, either to reinforce his being or just to play with the hand. He's wearing a wide, fluttering, brown-checked suit - oh, how Hans envies him in his tailcoat! The short, blonde woman may be five or six years younger than him. She doesn't speak much, but moves quickly and looks like a child with amazed eyes. Almost anxiously, she looks sideways at the completely misplaced elegance on Pisa's leaning tower. Jenny senses that her embarrassing and unfortunately too loud conversation with Hans has been understood. She calls the supervisor: "Is it far from here to the train station?"
"At the other end of town, over there it is," and the old man points to the south. "But less than a quarter of an hour by car."
“Yes, with the car! Unfortunately we don't have a car, ”Jenny complains loudly, in order to at least make herself interesting in the lost situation and to explain her adventurousness. “It was stolen from us. . . it was a great Mercedes. . . yes, from an impostor. . . last night . . . and that's why we're sitting here. "
“Dio. . . thinks the supervisor. "So they are rich after all."
The German couple, however, feels embarrassed, feels ashamed of the situation of their compatriots and moves, embarrassed, to the left side of the tour. The little lady loses her handkerchief. Hans jumps up, brings it after her. Confused and scared, she thanks. Hans crouches down next to Jenny again. “Jesus, I'm ashamed of them,” whispers Hans, “you say everything like that right away. . . shamelessly in front of the people. "
Jenny wants to flare up. “Oh, that doesn't matter, they're not from our circles. That’s a private lecturer or one. . . "
But the German gentleman is just coming back from the right around the circle. . . hesitates a little. . . shuttles with the bamboo stick almost like a dowser. . . looks at the two. . . want to go to her. . . but his legs are not yet determined. Inwardly he appears to be a sure and self-confident man, but in front of people he evidently respects people - even such highly curious and suspicious humanity. God knows, now he steps up to her, lifts his hat very little, as if by the way, and says, at first a little shy and hesitant:
“Excuse me, I heard - against my will, please, I heard part of your conversation. Forgive my address; but since I am now informed of your regrettable and hopefully only momentary embarrassment - I could "- he looks at his childish little wife as if for help -" I mean a little support. . . how should I say . . . ”He can't get the word out. The great man has a shy soul before the world. But his heart is more active and also much more life-wise than his hesitant word.
But now Hans and Jenny jump up at the same time. Because so far they had remained seated in their crouching position in amazement. Hans has a blood-red head. Jenny shines in the most harmless joy. "Oh, thank you very much," she exclaims with the brilliance that is always available to her. “We just want to go to the train station. But it is not possible to walk because of the terrible children. . . We already have tickets to Florence. . . please take us in a taxi to the train station. . . "
"If you're not embarrassed about us," Hans interrupted hastily but very politely, "in our elevator." And he introduced himself: "My name is Bell, wing striker in Grün-Weiß Munich." That is his only one Company; and he clings to this only serious business of his existence. And since the German gentleman looks at him questioningly - be it that, as a person unfamiliar with sports, he cannot think of anything clear about "Striker" or "Green-White", but be it that he is still awaiting the introduction of Mr Bell's lady - so Hans gives himself a severe internal jolt and says: "My wife." Jenny smiles so surprised and happy at Hansen's beautiful lie that the German gentleman's wife immediately gives herself the most illegitimate thoughts, but that doesn't diminish the expression of her friendliness.
"Meumann," introduces the gentleman. He has a calming voice; but around the mouth it smiles a little provocatively, as if he knew something secret. "Dr. Alfred Meumann ", and with a small gesture:" My wife. "With Meumanns it seems to be true with the legitimacy of marriage. They all shake hands. Now this Meumann loses his embarrassment and becomes humorous. He wipes some cigarette ash from the lapel of his woolly brown plaid, blinks funny eyes and says, “A nice comedy, the one with the car. . . Everyone always has their own particular adventure. . . Yes, we just felt sorry for you. . . We had to step in. . . in your districts. . . You have to tell me. . . I cannot experience what you experience. . . Suum cuique. . . Each his own bad luck. . . Tell quickly. . . And of course we will take you to the train station. "
103 Meumann's little wife suddenly gushes out happily what she had been holding back for so long: “At first we thought you were a film recording or even here from the circus. . . There is one over there. ”You could really see the tip of the tent far to the left of the Battistero. “But when you spoke German,” Frau Meumann continues, “we noticed straight away that you weren't clowns. . . or so."
"But you are surely a private lecturer?" Asks Jenny with great certainty. "You have something like that" - she searches for the word - "instructive in view."
"Why?" Stammered Meumann and looked at his petite wife in amazement. "I don't even wear glasses."
"But you have it in your pupil," says Jenny steadfastly. “I'm afraid of you like a school child. You also carry such a thick stick. It's about them - like control. "
“No, I'm not that solid yet. And I'm not employed by the police either. I am completely out of office. I am an exception. Not entirely sophisticated, not entirely bohemian, and not entirely bourgeois. . . I fight just as hard with virtue - as with my devil. "Meumann lifted his hat again, as if he had to present his personality for the second time:" Because I am a writer. "
“But isn't it science, too? You said Doctor Meumann earlier. So medicine or chemistry or philosophy? ”Jenny searched among the sciences she knew.
“No, my philosophy is not that official. I just write stories, fateful dramas, novels and so on. . . drowned and lies - all lies. "
"Delightful, Hans, you hear he's lying." And she feels - as a result of this insight into the poet's ethics - much closer to Mr. Meumann. Because a person who has to ›lie‹ for work - even if it were the ideals in the stars - he just has that certain something that cannot be captured ›in business‹: indefinable, romantic, impostor like a Romanian count - so completely for Jenny. An exception among people.
But now Jenny had to tell, and she did it masterfully. And Meumann, delighted and thirsty for fate, listens to the lively Presto painting of the escape from Monte Carlo, presented by Jenny with roles and in three languages. “When I changed the banknote, I had a soupçon in the casino; but I suppressed the suspicion because Manuel was a revolutionary after all. But my knowledge of human nature has not disappointed me, 104 and if Hans had not left him alone with the car in his idiocy - because of the olive oil - then we would still have his suitcase and our car. "
"Now you are going on with ours, you human children," said Meumann, promisingly like an Olympian; "For I am your fate for an hour now." He blinked a mysterious but good look at the embarrassed Hans and secretly shook his hand from behind. “We have it downstairs, the car. A modest Opel, not a glamorous Mercedes. Only four cylinders now - instead of nine cylinders. "
"But he only had eight," shouts Hans.
"Excuse me, you are forgetting your own cylinder that gave your Mercedes its true consecration."
Hans laughs, but without looking Meumann in the face, because his eyes look curiously down, where his cylinder rocks on the marble.
"Then we'll probably go straight to the train station," says Meumann; but asks with a certain cunning in mind: “Or do you want to enjoy the beautiful view from this leaning tower for a while longer? You never get enough of it. "
"Oh no," cries Jenny, "it was very hopeless for us up there until you came." Jenny has no idea that she is going to be witty. “We have enough now. . . from the leaning tower, ”completes Meumann.
"It was a mousehole for our embarrassment, and without you the purest dungeon."
"Yes, this beautiful tower," says Meumann with mock seriousness and a raised bamboo stick, "it was a kind of prison for you."
»Prison? . . . I see? . . . Hans wonders.
"Forgive me for the word," Meumann soothes. “I don't mean it in terms of the police, but metaphysically. This is not an insult. And your prison is still not as bad as that other tower in Pisa, the Torre della Fame, where six hundred years ago a certain Ugolino was imprisoned with his four little sons and had to watch one of his children after the other starve to death before his eyes he was finally allowed to die himself. . . "
"Terrible, the starvation," says Jenny, and understandably thinks more of her own stomach than of poor Ugolino and his dead children. "And no Doctor Meumann appeared to save him."
The writer bows in thanks for the compliment and says with solemn irony: “Yes, I am a messenger of fate - a messenger of the gods. I'm an exception. "
"Why?" Asks Jenny, somewhat confused; because Meumann speaks so underhandedly, so comically, without always being allowed to laugh.
"Why?" Meumann repeats, dragging the question word out in amazement. "But, my lady," he says to Jenny with mock reproach in his voice. He doesn't look at her, looks diagonally up into the moving clouds. "Up from heaven, there I come from."
Little Frau Meumann giggles; she knows his pleasure in the game; she knows about his "lying" mission.
And Meumann says: “You know the old gods from school. Every now and then they send a messenger of the gods down from Olympus. Hermes, the god of magic, subtle lies and guidance of the soul. But you know him even better by other names and more popular qualities: as Mercury, the god of trade, eternal travel and day thieves. You know him well from every bank envelope, with wings on his hat and on his heels, and with his magic wand. "Meumann raises his cane to warn:" You still don't recognize me? "
"Mon dieu, you are a liar," cries Jenny, who finds herself laughing out of her confusion, "and you just make fun of us, you writer, you."
Then she shakes his hand, and Hans does the same very cordially. Oh, they feel like they have been reborn, or at least freshly washed after being expelled from the paradise of the gentlemen's class. And Jenny calls out: “Avanti! We'd like to go straight to the train station - to Florence. "
They set off, they turn to the stairs. But even before the first step towards the descent, they stop and the ladies screech. Because what is shooting at them? A black monster leaps up the steps, between her legs, and quickly as the devil continues up to the top platform.
"A cat crosses the path!" Screeches Jenny, "that means bad luck."
"No, cats are nice," says Mrs. Meumann. "It always depends on the people, not on the cats, when it comes to believing in luck or unhappiness."
"Suum cuique," Meumann repeats his Prussian saying, and doesn't mean it in Prussian terms at all.
Hans, too, seems to be optimistic about the animal; and as if flashed by a great thought, he runs after the black beast up to the top of the tower. "Go ahead, I'll follow you," he calls out as he disappears.
106 He also returns immediately: "It has disappeared, the devil's beast - completely gone - but at least - I was up again, right up there; this time without dizziness, not like before. . . ”And his whole face grins as if at the happiness of an enlightenment.
"What is the matter with you?" Asks Jenny. "You laugh so insidiously as if you were Herr Meumann."
But Meumann whispers: "The black cat seems to have inspired him."
Hans just keeps grinning mysteriously and doesn't say a word.
Now they descend from the tower - from the tower of irony, melancholy and death - not without a last look at the dome of the cathedral and the block of the baptistery - there, where the newborn bambini are supposed to receive a 'real soul' first . So said the watchman, the old man who would not tolerate suicide on his tower and who was finally fed up with the tragedies. After all, it was about his post. . . And when the happy Jenny, secured for the moment, passed the old admonisher at the exit, to Hansen's glaring horror she really took her last nickel pieces out of her pocket - and gave her last. So now Jenny was - everything in the moment.
"Hans, give me a kiss."
Hans gives it. . . Incidentally, he stands with his bare head.
"But, my Jonny," calls Jenny, "where do you have your top hat?"
Hans peered up at the leaning tower of Pisa. "Above!" He says. "It stays up!" And he points up with his hand.
Everyone looks up at the tower in stupefied amazement and step back to see better. By God, there on the short flagpole on the topmost railing, there it is put on - Hansen's top hat! - a black point, a scarecrow, a tiny headdress on the crooked giant.
Too funny: a marble clown. But doesn't he deserve this little indignity? Because it is crooked, against any sense of a decent building attitude! A little crooked, just as Hans Bell still wore the top hat on his head in Monte Carlo, chic and crooked. He is a feat, an artist and equilibrist among the towers of this world. Meumann, for example, knows exactly what's wrong with him. He knows the straight and the crooked - like Hermes and Mercury, a seer and a interpreter.He is a messenger of the gods and knows all about it. . . A loud laugh confirms the correctness of Hansen's act of self-expropriation.
107 "The black cat has done it," says Meumann with the seriousness of the connoisseur of demons. 'Mr Bell, you no longer have a leaning tower on your head. Mr. Bell, you are redeemed. "
"So the cat wasn't a misfortune after all," confirms Frau Meumann, referring to the redemption from the mark of shame.
"You still can't know that," says Jenny, a little dazed. "After all, it's a bit of a shame about him, because he looked so good on him."
"He'll stay up there!" Says Hans with unusual energy.
"For ever, amen," Meumann nods wisely in the affirmative. “The guard will carry him to the funeral for the next suicide. . . Suum cuique. "
Now they drive off, four of them, in great happiness to the stazione - no longer the path of shame and between the gauntlets, but through the wide Via Santa Maria over the Arno with its bridges. On the way, Jenny loudly and repeatedly confesses her limitless hunger, so that she heartlessly calls Meumann the ›Contessa Ugolina‹. The good Frau Meumann regrets that she has no sandwiches with her. Hans is inwardly embarrassed that there is hardly any money for a sandwich. And when even Meumann hesitantly speaks of "helping out with a little thing", Hans exclaims in horror: "For God's sake no!" While Jenny shrugs her shoulders at this inner sensitivity of the gentlemen's class. Her curiosity also wants to know something about this writer, and she bravely asks him where he lives. To Meumann's hesitant reply: "In winter in Germany, in summer in Italy, near Florence" - something very important occurs to Jenny; a matter of current importance that needs to be settled immediately:
“Surely you know the address of a tailor in Florence. Because as you can see, Jonny must have a suit as quickly as possible, a plaid one like you. So where for God's sake is there a tailor? "
"Yes, it is a question of life," confirms Meumann. “It aims at the very core of existence here. Because clothes make - sometimes - people. ”And did he know a tailor? Meumann continues with promising eyes. “Ha, of course. A tailor with inspiration from above. He is an artist; a sculptor in cloth; a man-shaper, an original. Although his business is not sophisticated, it hovers on the fifth floor, almost in heaven. I'll register you with him. "And Meumann's wife remembers:" We'll pass it in Florence in a moment; it is because of our way on Domplatz. "
"At the cathedral - a tailor?" Laughs Jenny.
“Oh, he fits in there,” says Meumann, “that is a priest of his art. His first name is also Donatello - after the famous sculptor of Renaissance art. Conti, Donatello - is his name. The person he dresses is sanctified by him - a creature of God and of art. Renaissance means rebirth. Clothes make the man - and people make clothes. But Donatello shapes people in his own image. This recommendation is the best I have to give you; a special favor of the messenger of fate and of the gods. ”And the poet Meumann again shows his smile around the corners of his mouth; the train of secret knowledge about the special things of people.
Jenny thinks: what he is screwing up! You don't really know where you are with him. "We'll pay you a thank you call," she then says loudly and exuberantly, "but without the tailcoat, but in a new suit, in a plaid!"
Meumann nods politely, but still doesn't give an address.
"Where do you actually live?" Asks Jenny more urgently.
"In Settignano," lies Meumann, so that his wife puffs him in the side in astonishment; because they live in Fiesole.
"In Settignano?" Jenny immediately notes the location in her notebook and waits for more details.
“In Settignano,” Meumann repeats, “it is the house in front of which the many black cats lie in wait on the wall. Because my wife is the queen of the cats - and they are her children. 'He kept silent that there is not a single house in either Settignano or Fiesole with no cats on the garden wall.
'So you play with cats, Frau Meumann? For my part, I play with dolls, ”says Jenny, delighted with the alleged similarity of her amusements with little mindless creatures.
"Oh, dolls are dead," says Frau Meumann; “But cats, oh the poor hungry cats! - are alive. I feed them every day - if you don't have your own children to feed with. ”The little woman says it with some melancholy.
Jenny said importantly: “I wanted to buy a dog once too, didn't you, Jonny, you know the sweet, tiny Fox in Nice. But they bark too much and you always have to take them out. But dolls are silent and clean. . . «Jenny interrupts herself because they are driving over the Arno Bridge. The cityscape becomes wide. "Look over there, Hans," and she points back: "Look at the leaning tower again."
"Praise and thank God - he's wearing my top hat now." Hans waves to him: "Addio." Everyone laughs.
109 Meumann looks quickly from the steering wheel in the direction: “The fateful receipt has been paid. The Leaning Tower of Hans sits on top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. . . The gods are reconciled, Mr. Bell. But the people do not yet know and will still plague you like hell. . . Purgatory is still coming before Paradise. "
You are at the train station and get off. They lose their laughter. The whole audience stands there and stares at the man in tails without a hat and the pink silk lady; and the wild pack of children is already buzzing up. Hans gets angry: “Oh damn what this Italy produces so terribly many children! They pour out of all the holes like rats. Too much is too much. ”He doesn't think it as a father. Now you have sacrificed your cylinder! But that's obviously not enough to avoid his shame. Fate wants more. Too much is too much. There they swarm, the young Pisans from the age of three to ten, and roar.
It is terribly embarrassing for Meumanns too. The woman asks pityingly in her husband's ear: "Take it to Florence?" But Meumann spontaneously waves it off: "Impossible aspect." It sounds mysterious. And as if to himself, Meumann whispers: “Hermes redeemed, but escaped. . . "Then, loudly and well and humanely, he says to his protégés:" You will flee as quickly as possible through the barrier and onto the train. I'll get your handbag from the depot and bring it to the car. ”Hans hands him the baggage ticket. Hermes, the messenger of the gods, flies away.
Hans and Jenny say goodbye to the woman: "Goodbye to the cats in Settignano." Then they hurry through the hoots of the children to the barrier, through the underpass on track 3 and into the third class of the passenger train - where the rural audience - Market people with baskets and bales - welcomes the fine passengers in astonishment and silence in its unrepentant surroundings. It is very embarrassing, because the silent contempt is also precisely felt and is not beautiful. A purgatory for the vain soul.
Meumann comes back and pushes the suitcase with the colorful hotel posters from around the world through the narrow window of the third class. But at the same time he has hung two lovely food baskets with their strings on his bamboo stick and hands the gift up to the hungry like the fruit on a palm branch. “To eat on the journey. . . only on the journey! ”warns the messenger of the gods.
But Jenny doesn't wait for the departure, instead bites into a piece of cold roast straight away and, out of curiosity, packs all the other good things out of the basket. And there she finds, while Hans is still indulging in embarrassed words of thanks to Meumann - yes, what does Jenny find at the bottom of the basket? A twenty-lire note! Nothing more, nothing less. Twenty lire.
"Meumann?" She exclaims delightedly, before Hans has understood.
“Just for a taxi in Florence; to the bank and the tailor, "says Meumann quickly. He's embarrassed again, stupid, awkward like the first time he spoke up there on the tower. Nor does he wait a second longer and flee away.
"Send the money to where?" Hans calls after him.
"Lay on the wall with the cats!" Meumann laughs back and disappears into the underpass with a final wave of the bamboo wand.
“He's a real liar,” says Jenny, “the good guy. He lied away. "
But Hans says: “He was our salvation. Now he has given us an alms - and we have taken it - and now he's had enough of us - the messenger of the gods. "
"Twenty lire!" Cheers Jenny, "to the 1 lire and forty you still have, my Jonny." Jenny's self-esteem rises by exactly twenty-one lire and forty centesimi. So it is with the self-esteem of Jenny's male class. . . For the time being, however, one sits humbly among the 'people' in the third. Verily it is a purgatory of shame: this two and a half hour journey.
The landscape becomes hilly. Wine, castles, cypresses - Tuscany. Glorious sun over it. They are finally entering Florence. Through the coupé windows you can see the towers: that of the Signoria like a flower; the bell tower of Giotto and the dome of the cathedral towering over all the roofs. They get out and Hans drags the suitcase through the maze of the station. Where to go with them
"To Molina," says Hans.
"No, on the bench," says Jenny.
You take a taxi and go to the bank. It is closed; the holiday of any saint is the cause of the closure. As is so often the case on bank palaces, the winged Hermes-Mercury, the god of trade, travel and lies - the messenger of the gods with the magic wand, stands on the bank palace. But he has an ore heart. It's not Meumann.
So to friend Molina. Jenny reads from the little notebook Via del Condottiere 21. The taxi drives across the Signoria's 111 Square, which is blooming with art and beauty. The eye becomes confused. The bronze Perseus by Benvenuto Cellini stretches the cut off head of the Gorgon out of the Loggia dei Lanzi, which is full of statues. The blood flows from the empty throat.
The funny taxi man, grinning, points out the killer of the evil forces and makes the gesture of cutting off his head with the flat of his hand. "Terrible," says Jenny. And Hans recognizes with a slight shudder that this brutal Perseus - with his little wings on his helmet and foot - is exactly like his Mercury - the messenger of the gods so well-disposed to him until now. What a change! What a bad omen! Damn it! And the chauffeur also makes jokes.
Now - after purgatory in third grade and without Meumann's closeness to the gods - you don't have the slightest sense of humor for any tragic art. After all, it hurts you yourself. Come on in Molina's asylum.
There is the house. You knock on the large brass ring to the right of the portal. Above it is written on a glass plaque: "Molina & Co. - Profumeria."
"Ecco," calls Jenny, "there it smells already." Hans is cheerful. He's looking forward to Molina. You climb the stairs to the first floor.
“These Meumanns, Hans, they were our consolation. Otherwise we would be desperate up there in Pisa. Well, if I hadn't been so shameless on the leaning tower. . . "
“Listen, Jenny, if it wasn't a writer or something funny with poetry or lies, he would have trusted us as little as the postmaster, or the bank, or the police. . . and would not have helped us. . . not even for the moment, the messenger of the gods. You were just lucky. "
"That is not luck," says Jenny, "but knowledge of human nature."
Jenny can't help the fact that Hansen's knowledge of people has failed once again: namely with regard to his schoolmate Molina.
Jenny is waiting in the anteroom. At first Hans wants to press his childhood friend to his heart alone; wants to say "You old chicken" to him with amicable slaps on the shoulders and boxers in the loin, or "You stayed my Molina, old boy and back." You were always a little too much of a primus and pedant, thinks Hans, and "strived" a little bit hard. We've also honestly fought our differences of opinion, my dear fellow, and occasionally gave each other a hearty blow. But you also did everything in writing for me in mathematics and Latin - and you were my Pollux after all. For hadn't they, the inseparable, once been called Castor and Pollux? And Hans was castor. He remembers it as if it were yesterday.
Yes yesterday - ten years ago. There had been no 'time' for Hansen's life before - no time that grows and changes and makes one older. Hans remained castor, despite the fact that the friends' later correspondence had dried up completely after two years of their separation. Now in Florence, Castor will find his Pollux again.
But everything became very different. Because there had been a "time" for this Molina in the meantime - and a fate. After ten years of so-called male maturation, he was by no means a "schoolmate" anymore; no longer the football back with the back's own tendency to impulsive actions. No, this Signor Molina, who got up from his desk in his embarrassingly tidy office and stretched out his strong hand to Hans - but by no means got involved in shuffling and friendship boxes - that was no longer a slim youth, no wild stuffing, no old chicken, no old Boy and apparently no Pollux either, but a thick-necked and energetic gentleman who has grown in width, with hair pulled up like a brush and a reddened face. There was also a deep, worried wrinkle from the bridge of the nose to the forehead. But what surprised Hans most was his strangely short and joyless tone. He could no longer speak German fluently, despite his three years in Munich. And he wore two wedding rings on his hand. Because at the age of twenty-seven, as he already told Hans with a gloomy look in his first speech, he had become a widower and from six years of earlier marriage had no fewer than four now motherless children - and a perfume factory.
Ten years! A lot had changed with this Pollux, while Kastor had apparently stopped in his golden childhood. Molina had become an apparatus of his business; a man who was probably fond of remembering his childhood comrades and who practically drank from this memory because youth was already lost. By God, the school picture from the lower prima was framed in gold on the wall here in the office. Yes, yes, there was youth hanging on the wall! But Molina really and truly had no time to sacrifice for the ongoing cultivation of the lively friendship. Certainly, he would have liked to come to Genoa as the old man of the football club, for the match between White-Green-Munich and Sport-Genova - yes, the old days! But things just got in the way, business matters, very important things: a sample shipment of new flacons with patent caps; and the board of directors should have decided immediately. He just had to telegraph. "Unfortunately!" Smiled Molina, almost a little melancholy. But later he didn't even feel sorry for it. Molina's smile suddenly disappeared and he said harshly, "No, because that was a mess."
"Why?" Asks Hans, shocked at this tone, and has screwed himself back from his lively gesticulating joy into a polite correctness. Thank goodness that in front of this new Molina - before his manhood and four children he could by no means survive as a castor - thank goodness that he left his Jenny outside for the time being and closed his deranged summer coat so tightly and tightly that the ominous tailcoat could not go without it further presents. The strict Molina does not lower his eyes to the patent leather shoes; because his eye just doesn't have time for such little things. "But please take a seat," says Molina, pulling two chairs over. "But it was a mess."
Hans finally understands: "Oh, that about Schröter." Molina thinks of the unfair kick of the center forward who almost incapacitated the Giannini. “Sad thing, sure. . . "
Molina nods seriously. At which Hans apologizes meekly: “But there can I but nothing for it. "
"The whole club is responsible," says Molina with the expression of a public prosecutor. "So you too."
"But we beat him up afterwards."
"You should have spanked him first," he replied harshly. "You Germans are not well brought up."
“You Germans? . . . The way you talkWe were both brought up the same way for years, and in German. What have you got against me? You telegraphed me: 'Goodbye'. "
“Yes, that was before,” said Molina, very dryly, “and it's just a polite expression, as you know. The Castro told me things about you, embarrassing stories, about you too. Always in bars and with women - that is tennis morality, not male football dignity. That would have been quite impossible in the green and white of the past. He still wanted a fresh crew. "
"But you are very much mistaken, Molina," shouted Hans. "You always went home at eleven o'clock - because your papa was so ridiculous."
“Honor the club, Hans! Now you are speaking against your convictions. Our standard was clean. ”Molina is really annoyed and his head is getting redder and redder. “The wreath was a lazy thing, it wouldn't have happened easily to someone else from the Green-White. And you ran away from the Genoa banquet with one of them before the club president had toasted the government. Something like that just doesn't work. ”Molina shook her head and was saddened by the misconduct. But when Hans put his hand on his to calm him down, he calmed down and said: “But that's none of my business after all; we are both adults now, and each has his own business and his own responsibility - as mature men. ”Molina, really, he pats on Hansen's shoulder. "We'd rather talk about old Munich." He brings out the first cozy note. “Do you want to eat with me tonight? . . . But whatever you want? ”At least Molina smiled cordially, as if he were a Pollux who had moved a long way off.
Nevertheless, Hans did not feel at ease with his old friend Molina. All the youth was gone. It had been thought very differently, much less seriously. In his unfortunate get-up in tails, Hans believed he was securing a cheerful overture of their reunion, then playing the whole film of the ridiculous escape from Monte Carlo to Pisa and Florence with lively lights and finally calling in Jenny, his bride and leading actress, as an intensification. And finally as the last highlight and glamorous finale after all the catastrophes comes like from heaven as savior: friend Molina.
But this beautiful scene would now be missed. Hans sees it and says almost shyly: "Yes, old friend, I would really like to eat with you. But better in a bar; because forgive me, I am here with a lady; she is sitting in the anteroom, she is also my bride. I can't leave her alone in the evening, which you can see. And by the way "- Hans blushed, embarrassed him, dropped the cigarette on his trousers and noticeably stopped talking -" I want to ask you something - because something happened to us. "
Molina raised her eyebrows. In no way did he show the courteous urge to call the bride in. He sensed the demand for perhaps an oversized service of friendship. And wasn't he enough of his own worries? But Hans tells. Tell with bowed head. Not with the brisk verve of the experience, but in the shortest and most matter-of-fact strokes. From time to time he also checked the buttons of his summer coat very anxiously, so as not to show the tailcoat at all. Molina is indeed informed of the accident; but he shouldn't see it with his eyes. The eyes are more cruel than the brain, in this case. Hansen's description is objective. Only the messenger of the gods Meumann was enthusiastically highlighted by the narrator in order to awaken the ambition of friendship in Molina. “And so our hope was entirely on you, my dear old Molina; so lend me a suit for today and give it to me tomorrow, we say. . . 500 lire. "
Molina listens; waits a moment to see if Hansen's speech has really come to an end and states with matter-of-fact calm: "My suits don't fit you. You are too thin and too long for my wardrobe. You can see: I'm stocky. "
“But one from the club? You are old man, aren't you? "
"Nobody gives you anything from the club because of Schröter."
"And the 500?"
“It's no small matter. I am a widower and have a hard time. Do you have children too? Oh, I know about the wreath. But I meant: correct. That means: were you married before your current engagement - you are already in your thirties? If not, you don't know the worries of a father and a businessman. ”He sighed sadly. "What is your job?"
Hans hesitated and finally said with a stupid smile: "Winger."
Molina stood up: “And I am supposed to give you such a sum. . . Because with me everything is honest and solid. "
Hans wants to hide in a mouse hole. This Molina was a ›rocher de bronce‹ of bourgeois wisdom. He interrupts him with an idea: “We'll give you a check for it. . . yes, a check! "
And without waiting for Molina's indignant answer in any way, he flees to the door, opens it and calls out, as if for help: “Jenny! - Come on in, Jenny! ”She has to give the ride the go. In the last resort, only the radiant recklessness of a Jenny helps.
She is already tripping over and beaming as if on command. Molina rises and is preoccupied with so much dazzling appearance as a Munich primary school student. He bows deeply. Jenny pours all her greetings over the defenseless Molina in fluent Italian, speaks of the big day of their reunion; and that from the beginning Mr. Molina stood before them and shone as the "redeeming lighthouse of their wandering". Yes, she said that. And while she looked at Signore's broad log with disappointment, she spoke of the charm of his profession: a perfume factory, that was, in a way, the paradise of women. And since she was a woman herself - nothing but a woman! - so he could imagine what that meant to her - her as a woman.
Molina was slain. He just said self-consciously: “I blissfully had to take over the perfume factory from my father all at once. I can not help it. Originally we made wax items, candles and so on; that would have been much closer to me as an object. ”Then, as a great act of courtesy, he dragged the heavy lounge chair over for the Signora and indulged in embarrassed 'prego' and 'grace' on Jenny's more effusions. Until Hans interrupted the scene: "Give him a check for five hundred!"
"A check?" Jenny looked at Hans for just a moment and then looked at Mr. Molina a second time. Then she understood everything. "A check, of course." She took out the checkbook, immediately filled out a sheet of paper, and handed the draft to Molina. She could do that very quickly.
Friend Molina slowly read the signature: Jenny Alden-de Montujo. The name struck him as adventurous, as it did to the postman in Torrevecchio - although the two were truly completely different characters. But he went to a side door, opened it and called to the cash register: "Cinque Cento".
The conversation fell silent, although no angel passed through the room. Until the money came, all three of them looked at the picture from the school. “Oh Jonny, you look exactly the same today as you were seventeen. . . But you, Mr. Molina, have just become a real man. Only the energetic - you can already see that in the child. "
"You just get older," said Molina sadly.
A girl brought four hundred and one hundred lire small notes from the cash register. "I am glad to be able to help you, madam," said Molina, after he had already had to bite the bullet. And with a glance at the paper securing him and aware of his act of friendship, he counted out the money on the table. Wasn't it friendship that he gave his cash on the check of an unknown Alden-de Montujo? A risk - but for a friend. Yes, after all it was his castor after all, the one from the school picture on the wall - he thought with some sadness. And since the lady with the strange name struck him as interesting, he truly repeated the invitation to the evening. It is a childhood friend after all, and the youth, la giovinezza - they are gone.
"No, that wouldn't be possible," cried Jenny painfully. “First, he has to go to the tailor, and second, we have to go. . . ", Yes, then Meumann remembered -" we have to go to the Meumanns. . . Settignano; you know, Jonny, about the many cats. ”Because with this Molina, Jenny thinks, not a quarter of an hour longer! And Hans completely agrees. Just get away from here. This is no longer Pollux, the fat guy. His suits don't fit me either. Thank God they don't suit me! O Molina, Molina. . . how the time flies.
"Do we still see each other?" Asks the bitter friend with a smile that is as gallant as possible and yet somewhat painful to the lady. In spite of all the embarrassing speeches in his friend's memory, he has meanwhile settled in a little more intimately at this hour; and when Hans suddenly pressed for parting, he wanted to freshen up some of his youth. Because oh, life is not very beautiful in its maturity. A little youth is sorely needed for one's poor soul. "So Hans?"
But Hans only says very politely and very friendly: "We are staying at the Hotel Minerva."
Jenny led the way.
"You want to marry her?" Whispers Molina to Hans. "Dangerous woman."
"For the time being we're only engaged."
"Does she have - a lot of money?"
"Then do it - ha, ha - and get a divorce afterwards." He laughed out loud for the first time. He had made a joke. For a brief moment he felt young again, the sad widower of twenty-nine. "But no children, Hans!" He said with the last handshake and thought he was giving honest advice on friendship. "Children are worries!"
“Why didn't you remarry, Molina? . . . because of the babies? "
“I'm too independent - and my business takes precedence over everything else. You understand . . . So goodbye."
So the friends divorced from the grammar school in Munich. Goodbye? thought Hans as he went down the stairs to Jenny, who was already waiting in the street and just waved a taxi over. Goodbye? . . . That was already in the telegram. But as you know, it is only a polite expression. We know about life. No - not goodbye. They didn't need it anymore; completely alienated as they were for ten short - and yet so long - years.
118 Hans suspects for the first time: This is the time - the time that grows and changes and makes you older. It is a misfortune. Kastor and Pollux - that was it. The one who matured to become a Philistine in duty. The other an immature good-for-nothing in beauty. . . Hans has a guilty conscience about Molina's "business". But it is freer in his soul than this morning before that indefinable Meumann. He doesn't quite know why. But he knows this much: better a scoundrel than a Molina.
"The big ox," says Jenny as they sit in the taxi. "I preferred the liar much better, you know, Meumann, our friend from the Leaning Tower."
"We might all become fat ox one day," Hans says to himself, "when we have four children to look after."
"Yes, children make you old," says Jenny.
"But it depends on the parents," smiles Hans.
“In any case, I don't want a baby from a Molina - at the Figure, ”she says, shuddering with horror.
“And I don't have a pumped suit - at the Figure, "replies Hans like an echo, but immediately looks down at his tailcoat and suddenly rumbles angrily:" The tailor must have it ready tomorrow, the plaid - by noon tomorrow at the latest. Otherwise I'll kill him. "
"Until tomorrow? - then Donatello must be able to do magic, ”Jenny sighs sadly.
"He's got to do a miracle, the master tailor," shouts Hans senselessly. In this anger all the unconscious pain about Molina and the lost youth is released. 'Why did Meumann recommend him like a promise! He's also such a magician. "
"Oh Jonny, maybe a miracle will really happen," says Jenny comfortingly. “With the Catholics it is sometimes possible. My mom has seen it every now and then in Buenos Aires. Meumann also said so emphatically that he lived directly 'at the cathedral' and almost 'in heaven' - Donatello. You never know what he means, the messenger of the gods. Miracle or no miracle - he just has to make it by tomorrow! «Explains Jenny very firmly. “After all, speed is no witchcraft for a messenger of the gods tailor! I'll talk him into it. Because it is a question of life. "
"I no longer believe in humanity - since Molina," Hans complains.
“So believe in the new suit, Jonny, sweetie. You will surely feel good again in the plaid. "
119 Hans nods in deep sadness while he throws desirous glances from the taxi cab at the teeming passers-by: because none of these lucky ones is wearing tails. He saw people in blue and yellow, gray and brown - saw those with stripes and blissfully plaid. And he envied each of these everyday people all the more, the more glaring his shell contrasted with the presumptuous blackness of a tailcoat - denied its chic smoothness with stripes - or even with the criss-cross lines of a checkered plaid, the unbearable solemnity par excellence was punctuated and brutally annulled. Yes, a plaid - like the godly knowing Meumann wore it, certainly not just by chance - it was the truest antipole and antipode to the black uniform of the male mannequins in a nothing but elegant world. And that's why: it had to be a plaid. Life for a plaid! . . . And despite the humid air, Hans closed his coat tighter around his neck and even pushed up his collar.
The taxi stops. You enter the Hotel Minerva. Before their corrupted evening elegance, all the staff come together in the foyer. If Jenny hadn't handed over the luggage ticket for the large suitcase to the porter immediately, they would have shrugged their shoulders regretfully: "Occupied - complete!" Hans feels it, is ashamed again. But think of Molina immediately - as if to save yourself. And the contrast elevates it. Better a scoundrel than a Molina like that. Because Molina - that's the age. Molina - this is a misfortune.
But that was obviously just a kind of "philosophy" that Hans was thinking. Only a tailor can help for life now. 120
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