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Der Orchideengarten Vol 1, No 11

Der Orchideengarten is the world’s first illustrated fantasy magazine. This issue was published in the German language in 1919. This is the first English translation of these stories and contains the original cover and artwork. It includes: Death by Classified by Fyodor Sologub; OM! by Max Rohrer; Rumplebumm by Richard Theuringer; The Masked Ball by Hanns Reiser; The Deluge by Will Scheller. All translations by Joe Bandel; Layout and design by John Hirschhorn-Smith.

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Woman, Gothic, Dark, Horror, Fantasy, Girl, Person

Many of you don’t know that I translate German horror stories as a hobby. I just finished translating this story and am offering it as a Halloween gift to all my readers! It is a story that will be published in Der Orchideengarten Vol 1, no. 11 which I am currently working on. Enjoy!

Death by Classified

By Fyodor Sologub, translation by Joe Bandel

Resanow suddenly felt weak, tired, and wilted. His thoughts were occupied more and more with death. It seemed to him that there was no sweeter resting place than between the fir boards of a coffin.

Suddenly he was overcome with the desire to do something different from his daily routine.

He sat alone in his silent room and studied the classified ads in the “Nowoje Wremja”. He was looking for something. He compared them and selected one.

 His pale face which had already begun to wither, expressed perplexity and indecision. In his absent-mindedness he reached out with his pencil and the tip struck the lamp shade.

His hand trembled. The pencil tip tapped against the glass. He smiled. He said to himself:

“I am getting old.”

He lowered his eyes again; they had once been so lively and full of humor and now were tired and indifferent as he looked calmly and attentively at the newspaper.

Finally, he chose one of the classified ads. An educated, intelligent, and good-looking lady found herself in dire straits and asked a noble person to loan her fifty rubles. She would agree to any terms. The address read: Post office No. 17, general delivery. Present receipt Nr. 205824.

Resanow took a yellow, rough sheet of paper out of a box with the letterhead and water mark “Margaret Mill”.

With a sad smile on his lips, he wrote to her:

“Dear Madame!

I will give you the amount you ask for, neither as a loan nor as a gift; but for a service which I can only indicate briefly in this letter. There is not much to say. Since you claim to be intelligent, you will easily understand what I ask of you. That you come to me in the form of my Death. The more attractive it is the better— and act accordingly. If you understand and make this a fun game, the fee will be ample enough for you to live on. Are we agreed? Are you too afraid? Do you understand what I desire of you? If you are in agreement and not afraid and understand me correctly, then write me back, so I can meet with you for the first time. 5 o’clock in the afternoon would be the most suitable time for me. Respond by special delivery. Cash on delivery receipt Nr. 384384 for three ruble notes. I want to pick up the letter on Thursday.”

The three newly printed and issued 1905 ruble notes crackled uncomfortably, like the starched dress of a first communicant. The number 384 was repeated twice. This seemed strange and meaningful to him.

He thought to himself:

“And if? . . .”

He smiled weakly.

“Well, even if . . .”

He did not sign the letter. He sealed it and carried it to the mailbox. The maid could pick it up in the morning.

When he was back in his room, he wondered what the unknown woman looked like. Was she skinny, ugly, with an impoverished brown face, yellow teeth and thin strands of reddish hair beneath a wind and rain battered hat and a comical feather stuck in a ribbon hatband?

Or young, shy, and gentle, a seamstress with her delicate fingers pricked by her needle, with a pale waxy face and a large, sulking mouth?

Or a drunken, painted up, cheeky street whore with a screeching voice and crude manners?

Or an uncouth provincial lady in impossible clothes, with impossible manners, an unwashed neck, one abandoned by her husband or that had not found a lover?

“How will she, how will my Death appear? My own Death?”

“Perhaps she will meet me in a dark corridor, so that when I put my wretched gold into her cold hand, I won’t even see her face?”

On Thursday he went to the main post office. The summer day in the capitol was dusty, hot, and noisy. Here and there the houses had been plastered and whitewashed, and they gave off an unpleasant odor. Yet he felt cheerful, and the familiar restaurants seemed festive to him.

He did not hurry. He went into the Leiner and drank a glass of beer. He did not meet any of his acquaintances. Who could meet with him now? That would be an extremely unusual coincidence.

Around four o’clock he stepped through the open gate into the glass roofed hall of the new main post office. He remembered the old dirty hole that once had served as a post office. Today even the employees looked elegant.

He stopped and stood in front of the kiosk where the stationary was sold. A rotating stand showed him all sorts of sweet banalities that only post cards could give.

“Are these for sale?” He asked the saleswoman.

The cute girl with a bored expression shrugged her rounded shoulders.

“What do you want?” She asked him in a hostile tone. “Stationary, envelopes, postcards?”

He looked at her carefully. He saw the small curls on her forehead, the porcelain white complexion and the blue pupils and said:

“I don’t need anything.”

He went on. Opposite the main entrance in a large four cornered stall sat three young girls behind a double counter handing out letters. The public stood outside. A fat lady with a wart on her nose asked for a letter with the name Ruslan-Swonarjowa?

“What is your name? Swonarjowa?” asked the postwoman, whose face reminded one of the color of a roll, and she went to the box with the letters.

“Ruslan-Swonarjowa!” cried the lady with the wart, in a frightened whisper.

And as the postwoman with the bread-colored face stepped up to the counter with a packet of letters in her hand, the lady with the wart said:

“I have a double name: Ruslan-Swonaryova.”

A red-haired gentleman stood next to the lady with a stiff hat in his hand and followed the movements of the second postwoman with restless eyes; the prettiest of the three, she was looking through a packet of letters and appeared immensely proud of what she was doing. The gentleman appeared to be expecting a “sensitive and frivolous” letter. He was extremely nervous and made an uncomfortable and miserable impression.

The third postwoman, who was plump and red cheeked had a broad face and her chestnut brown mane was combed and parted deeply at her forehead. She laughed merrily at some private matter. She turned for a moment to the other two, who smiled and laughed as well, as if she had told them something very funny. 

Resanow silently handed her his three ruble notes. He eyed the three girls and determined that they were all young, healthy, and pretty. The postal administration had certainly added some elegance to their new building.

He was reminded of the newspaper dispute between this postal worker and a petitioner that he had seen somewhere the other day. The petitioner had not been allowed to sell newspapers at the post office because she was skinny, ugly, and withered from hunger and poverty, and already over thirty-two years old. He closed his eyes and in front of him immediately appeared an emaciated, pale, frightened face with wide open eyes and nervously twitching lips. Someone whispered quietly, but clearly:

“I have nothing to keep me alive.”

Someone else answered just as calmly:

“Then don’t live!”

Resanow opened his eyes. He looked balefully at the plump postwoman, who was busy looking for his cipher. Several letters and postcards were thrown onto the table one after the other. Her laugh was so disgusting and insistent.

Finally, she handed him a letter in a narrow envelope and put all the other letters away.

“I don’t have anything else.”

“I don’t need anything else,” said Resanow in annoyance.

He moved to the side, sat down on a bench in front of a pillar and opened the letter. He did it in a hurry, but otherwise he remained calm.

Large, narrow letters, delicate punctuation marks, a regular, calm, and unexpectedly beautiful handwriting.

“Dear Sir!

I am in agreement. I am not afraid. I understand everything. On Thursday at six o’clock. Michael’s Park, the avenue to the right of the entrance. A white dress. Your letter in my right hand.

Your Death.”

A postal employee rang the bell. The hall emptied. Resanow went to a Viennese restaurant. He ate a quick lunch and drank wine.

At half past five he was already at the park.

She stood under a tree at the beginning of an avenue near the entrance. Her white dress rose from out of the dark green of the silent park.

She was slender, pale, very quiet and calm. While he was walking up to her, she looked him over carefully. She had gray, calm eyes that did not reveal anything. But her gaze was tense and watchful. The expression of her face, which was by no means pretty, was cheerful and humble. The smile on her generous mouth was sweet and sad.

“My dearest Death!” He said softly.

He remained standing in front of her and reached out his hand in greeting, suddenly seized by a strange unrest.

She remained silent. She took his letter from out of her right hand, put it into her left and squeezed his hand with hers, which was noticeably narrow, cool, and gentle.

He asked:

“Have you been waiting for me long?”

She answered, every word articulated slowly, in a lifeless monotone and deadly silent voice:

“You didn’t expect me. You thought that it would be someone other than me.”

It seemed to him that a strangely cold breath streamed from her. The folds of her white dress were so still and motionless. The simple white straw hat with a white ribbon that she wore high above her hair threw a yellow shadow across her face.

As she stood in front of Resanow, she leaned forward and with the tip of her parasol drew a fine line in the sand between them from left to right.

He asked:

“So, you want to be my Death?”

Her answer sounded so calm:

“I am your Death.”

And he asked again, while a shiver ran over him:

“Aren’t you afraid to play such a sinister role?”

She answered:

“Death fears the living and shows no one its face. You are quite well the first, of the living, who has seen the human face of his Death.”

He said:

“You play your role too quickly and too conscientiously. Tell me, what is your name?”

She replied with a sad, soft smile:

“I am your Death, your white, quiet, stormless Death. Breath quickly, your hours are numbered.”

He wrinkled his brow and said:

“You are an educated woman; you are in need and ask for money. What has brought you to this, that you accept all my terms and agree to play such an uncanny role?”

She answered:

“I am hungry, sick, tired and sad.”

He laughed and said:

“By all means rest. Why are you standing? Please sit down on a bench.”

They went a few steps further and sat down. She drew an intricate pattern in the sand with the tip of her parasol.

He said:

“You are hungry. If you want, we can go to a restaurant, and I can get you something to eat. I also want to give you the money that you asked for. Tell me, is there anything else that I can do for you?”

“I will take everything from you that you care to give: your money and your soul.”

He started. Then he said with a laugh:

“You play your role most excellently!”

She answered:

“I came. My hour will soon strike. I will wait.”

He took his wallet out of his pocket.

In the small middle compartment, closed with a steel clasp, lay the five gold pieces which he had prepared for her. He took them out. She silently reached out her narrow, pale, soft, and steady hand. Delicate lines crossed her white palm in a clear, simple network.

The five gold pieces made a light click as one by one they were placed in her cold, motionless hand. Her delicate, long, white fingers slowly closed, and her hand quietly slid to a pocket on the side of her white skirt.

He thought to himself:

“My poor gold. — my last gift. — the poor earnings of a day laborer, — the miserable earnings for a superhuman work. — that is what I give you, my beloved!”

Did he only think these words, or did he say them aloud? They sounded so clear in his ears. Such a deep grief weighed down upon his heart!

She looked at him sadly with her gray eyes and smiled. Then she leaned forward, and the tip of her parasol rustled swiftly through the sand.

She whispered:

I have taken your gold and will also take your soul. You have given me your gold and you will give me your soul as well.”

He said softly:

You have received my gold because I have given it to you. But how will you take my soul? How do you plan to take it?”

She answered:

“When my hour strikes, I will come to you to fetch your soul and you will give it to me. You will give it to me because I am your Death, and you cannot outrun me.”

 This felt unbearably harsh to him, and he said with a cutting voice, to drown out his pain and fear:

You live in a furnished room. You are seeking a position or employment. Your name is Marie or Anna. What is your name anyway?

And he screamed, seized by a sudden hatred:

“Tell me what your name is!”

And she dispassionately replied:

“I am your Death.”

Her words sounded so hopeless and merciless. He started and hung his head. Discouraged he asked her:

“You need my gold, because you are hungry and tired, but my soul, — why do you need my soul?”

“With your gold I will buy bread and wine. I will eat and drink, and also give my death brood something to eat. Then I will take your soul. I will carefully take it out of your body, will carry it on my back, will goe with it into that dark room, where your and mine invisible Master dwells, go down and hand your soul over to Him. He will squeeze it and capture its sap in a deep bowl, into which my silent tears will also fall. — and then He will take my silent tears mixed with the sap of your soul and sprinkle them among the midnight stars.”

The strange words sounded so stiff and slow, like a strange incantation.

People passed by, voices rang out all around. Equipment rolled past outside on the pavement. Light footed children ran past, laughing. — everything was hidden behind the magical veil of her slow words. The colorful, joyful evening of the vanishing day disappeared as if in a cloud of incense.

He was sad, tired, and indifferent. He said softly:

“When the trembling of my soul reaches up to the stars and in those distant worlds an insatiable thirst for lust and life ignites — what will happen to me? I will be here rotting in a dark grave, which indifferent people will scratch out for me. What do I receive from your high sounding promises? What? Tell me!”

She replied with a mild smile:

“In blissful sleep is eternal rest.”

He said:

“Eternal rest! Is that your consolation?”

“I comfort any way I can,” she replied with the same stiff, gentle smile.

He stood up and walked to the park exit:

Behind him he heard her soft footsteps.

For a long time, he walked through the streets of the city, and she always followed him. Once in awhile he quickened his pace, as if to outrun her. — then she also went faster; she gathered the hem of her white dress with her delicate fingers and ran after him. If he stopped and looked back, he would see her in front of a shop window looking at the displays. When he got angry, turned around and walked toward her; she would quickly run across the street or hide in a doorway or shop entrance.

And she pursued him with her gray, calm, watchful eyes. Incessantly she pursued him.

“I will take a cab,” he said to himself.

He was amazed that this simple thought had not occurred to him earlier.

But when he spoke to a cab driver, she came closer. She stood right next to him and breathed her cold and sadness upon him. And she smiled.

He told himself angrily:

“She will sit with me in the coach. I can’t outrun her on foot or by coach.”

The coachman demanded sixty kopecks.

“Thirty,” said Resanow, and then walked away quickly.

The coachman cursed.

Resanow climbed up to the third floor and stood in front of the door leading to his apartment. He rang the bell. Meanwhile light footsteps came up the stairs. He rang a second time impatiently. A cold wave of fear came over him. He wanted to be inside his apartment before she could see which door he entered. There were four apartments on each floor.

She came closer and closer. Her white dress shimmered in the semi-darkness of the stairwell. She came nearer and her gray eyes looked watchfully into his own frightened eyes as he finally entered his apartment taking one backward glance.

He pulled the door shut behind him and turned the key. In the semi-darkness of the corridor, he remained standing and looked with sad eyes at the door. He felt, — as if the door had suddenly become transparent, — that she silently, with a mild smile on her lovely lips, stood outside the door and lifted her pale face to read the apartment number so that she could remember it.

Then he listened as her footsteps slowly went away.

Resanow stepped into his study.

“She is gone.” A voice said clearly.

Another hopeless, calm voice replied:

“She will come back.”

He waited. It became darker and darker. His heart tightened. His thoughts were unclear and confused. He felt dizzy as waves of hot and cold ran over him.

He thought:

“What will she do now? Perhaps she will buy something to eat, then go home and feed her hungry death brood. That is what she called her own children. How many children did she have? What did they look like? Were they as quiet as she was, his dearest Death? Starved, skinny, white, shy? Unseemly, with those same watchful eyes, just as dear, as hers, my white Death?”

She is feeding her death brood. Then she will go to sleep. Then she will come back here. Why?

Suddenly he was overcome by a burning curiosity.

Of course, she will come back. Why else would she have followed him to the doorstep of his apartment? But how will she come? How will she fulfill her task, this strange lady, who for money was prepared to do anything and wanted to be his own Death?

Maybe she is not a woman at all, but Death incarnate? Perhaps she will come here and take his soul from out of his sinful, weak body?

He laid down on the sofa and wrapped himself in a plaid blanket. A cruel-sweet fever sent shivers through all his limbs.

What strange thoughts came to his mind! She was very smart and conscientious. She wanted to honestly earn the money that he had given her and was trying to play her role to perfection.

But why was she so cold?

Well, because she was poor, starving, tired and ill.

She was tired from work. She had too much to do:

               Has sewn the entire day,

               Is tired, is sick . . .

She wandered around sick and hungry, searching. Her poor death brood was waiting, with wide open hungry mouths.

And he remembered her face, the earthly, human face of his Death.

The face was so familiar to him, her features so intimate.

Her face emerged more and more clearly in his memory, that known, trusted and beloved face.

“Who is she, my white Death? My sister?

               It is difficult for me because I am sick.

               Dear brother, stay with me!

And if you are my eternal sister, my white Death— what does it matter to me, that you appear to me here in this incarnation as a woman, who has met me through a classified ad and lives in a common apartment house?

I have placed my poor, clinking gold, my pathetic gift into her cold hand. She has taken the gold in her freezing hand and wants to also take my soul. She will carry me into the dark room, and the face of the Master will appear before me. — My own eternal face because I am the Master. I have brought my soul to life and have commanded Death to come and take me.”

And he waited.

It was night. The doorbell softly rang. No one heard it. Resanow threw off the blanket and crept softly into the anteroom. The screeching of the key in the lock was much too loud.  The door opened and she stood on the threshold.

He stumbled back into the darkness of the anteroom. He asked, as if he were surprised:

“Is it you?”

She said:

“I came. My hour has struck. It is time.”

He closed the door and went through the dark rooms into his study. He heard her light footsteps behind him.

In the darkness of his room, she snuggled up to him and kissed him with tender and sinless kisses.

“Who are you?” He asked.

She answered:

“You called me, and I came. I am not afraid, and you should not be afraid either. I will give you the last sweetness that life has to give— the kiss of Death. And your death shall be easy and sweet because of the poison.”

He asked:

“And you?”

She answered:

“I already told you that I will climb down that singular path with your soul which now stands open to us.”

“And your brood?”

“I sent them on ahead, so they can go before us and open the door.”

“When will you take my soul?” He asked again.

And she snuggled up tenderly against him and whispered:

“The dagger is sharp; it’s sting gives pleasure.”

And she snuggled up against him once more and kissed him.

Then the sting of the poisoned dagger touched his neck. A sweet fire ran like lightning through all his veins, and he lay dead in her arms.

With a second sting of the poisoned dagger, she killed herself and fell down dead on top of his corpse.

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Der Orchideengarten Vol 1 No 10

Der Orchideengarten was the worlds first fantasy magazine published in the German language in 1919 and this is the first English translation with the original artwork. Stories include: Hop Frog by Edgar Allan Poe; The Assembly by A. M. Frey; Cafe Lazarus by Max Krell; Plague by Alexander von Bernus. Translation by Joe E. Bandel; layout and design by John Hirschhorn-Smith.

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Der Orchideengarten Vol 1 No 9 was first published in the German language in 1919 and this is the first English translation of this historical fantasy magazine. It includes the original art and stories. Der Orchideengarten was the worlds first fantasy magazine. This issue contains the stories and poems: The Diary of Dr. Hederson by Horst H. Wehner; The Holy Pillar by S. von Vegesack; Of the Man Krapp by Emil Lucka; The White Flute by Erich Mosse. Translation is by Joe E. Bandel; editing and layout is by John Hirschhorn-Smith.

Finally got this issue out and only one story left on the next issue so they are coming! Slow but sure.

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Der Orchideengarten is the world’s first illustrated fantasy magazine and was published in the German language in 1919. This is the first time it has been published in the English language with the original artwork. Stories and poems include: “No One and Everyone” by Oskar Maria Graf; “The Wake” by Apuleius; “The Suicide” by Klarbund; “The Gray Mill” by H. Steinitzer; “The Head of the Condemned” by Alexander Dumas; “The Balcony” by Max Rohrer; “A Dream” by Will Scheller. Translations by Joe E. Bandel and layout by John Hirschhorn-Smith.

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Der Orchideengarten was published in the German language in 1919 and this is the first time most of these stories and artwork have been published in the English language. Stories and Poems include: “The Hashish Dream” by Richard Euringer; “The Devil” by Guy de Maupaasant; “From the Ways of the Hanged” by Siegfried Aram; “The Blazing Flame” by Karl and Joseph Capek; all translations by Joe E. Bandel; Edit and layout by John Hirschhorn-Smith.

I’m back! Sorry it has taken so long! I almost forgot how to do this! I will be doing two magazines this month to kind of catch up and then go back to one a month. There should be no problem now that I am retired and have more time to work on these projects.

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Der Orchideengarten was the world’s first illustrated fantasy magazine and published in the German language in 1919. This is the first time these stories have been translated into the English language. The original artwork is included. This issue of Der Orchideengarten contains: Franz Schoenberner- The Dying Lantern; Leonhard Stein- The Electric Piano; Rudolf Fuchs- Sleigh Ride; Paul Verlaine- Major Muller’s Hand; E. Scupin- Castle Valnoir. Translations by Joe Bandel. Technical editor John Hirschhorn-Smith. In my opinion this issue is the strongest and best to date!

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Der Orchideengarten Vol 1 No 5 contains the stories and poems: Otto te Kloot- Orchids; Wilhem Nhil- The Cannibal Club; Charles Baudelaire- The Spectre; Wilhem Meinhold- The Amber Witch-How My Poor Child Was Sentenced To Be Put To The Question (translation by Lady Duff-Gordon).These have been translated by Joe E. Bandel and include the original 1919 artwork. Technical Editor is John Hirschhorn-Smith.

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MasterCoverVol1no4

Der Orchideengarten Vol 1 No 4 contains the stories and poems: The Coffee Pot by Theophile Gautier; Dios Vienne by Leo Perutz; Cox-City by Apollinarius Wileem; Adventure of a Wolf by Alexander Petofi. These have been translated by Joe E. Bandel and include the original artwork. Technical Editor is John Hirschhorn-Smith.

Just in time for the first of August! I really loved translating these stories! I can’t choose between “The Coffee Pot” and “Dios Vienne” as my favorites for this issue. Just to be upfront, “Dios Vienne” appears to be a fragment from the book “The Marquis de Bolibar”. It was so interesting that I bought a cheap copy of the novel on line and am looking forward to reading the entire story. “The Coffee Pot” really touched my heart and reminded me of why I love this type of literature so much.

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Der Orchideengarten Vol 1 no3contains the Stories: The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe; The Brain by Max Meixner; The Witching Hour by Alexander Freih. von Bernus; The Harvest by A.M. Frey; Rebellion in Nirvana by K. Roellinghoff. These stories are in the English language and include the original artwork. Translations are by Joe E. Bandel; Technical editor is John Hirshhorn-Smith

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