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Archive for the ‘German literature’ Category

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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Mati, Fire, Smoke, The Flame, Burn, Glow, Hot, Censer

Think of this as a political statement! This describes the type of society that I see our world turning into and I don’t like it! This is a story that I have translated for Der Orchideengarten #8. It might give some of you an insight into our current world and whether we choose to live in such a world.

The Head of the Condemned

From the story by Alexander Dumas (1802-1870) and retold by E. Boyer von Berghof (with four drawings by Paul Humpoletz)

Mr. Ledru drew from his memories:

It was in May 1793. A wonderful spring day, followed by an equally beautiful spring night, and I had been on a trip. I returned home late. The full moon bathed the streets of Paris in a pale light, the shadows cast by the streetlights trembled eerily. In the distance, fading away, like the howl of a hungry jackal, came the sound of a plaintive dog. Revolutionary enthusiasm asserted itself in the back-and-forth exchange of a few gun shots.

Then, cutting through the silence of Taranna Square, which I was slowly passing through, came the cry for help of a frightened woman. And walking more quickly towards Rue Tournon I noticed a woman who was resisting arrest by a patrol of Sansculottens. She had scarcely seen me when she turned towards me with folded and uplifted hands:

“Ah, Mr. Albert! There is a man I know, and he will certainly confirm that I am Solange, the daughter of mother Ledieu. Right?”

And in the same moment she had seized my right hand and feverishly clutched me. Hot fear trembled all over her body, which I felt through the coarse calico that defaced her figure. But her fingers were refined and soft.

“The daughter of mother Ledieu, so you say. You don’t have a citizen card, so march to the main guard post, my dear!”

Again, that desperate pressure on my arm. I understood.

“It is you, my poor Solange,” I said quickly, “what happened to you?”

“Now, do you see, gentlemen?” Her figure calmed itself.

“It seems to us that you could do better by saying citizen!”

“Excuse me, citizen Sergeant,” replied the young girl, “it’s not my fault, but that of my mother’s profession which has given me the bad manners of the noble pack, which we had to give up, but are not yet used to. But I want to break the habit, be more diligent.”

The ironic tone of her last words escaped the leader of the Sansculottes, who smelled strongly of brandy.

“I was carrying laundry for my mother, Mr. Albert.” She spoke to me bravely. “And I was late, so without thinking, I forgot my ID card at home.”

“Will you vouch for me, citizen . . . Albert?”

“Certainly! Is that enough?”

“No. Because first: who will vouch for you? Do you have an ID card, Sir?”

“Danton! Is that enough?”

“If Danton vouches for you, then that is enough. How and where will you get his testimony?”

“In the Cordeliers Club. Follow me there.”

And we went to the Rue de l ’Observance, in which the Cordeliers Club held its nightly meetings in an old Franciscan monastery. I quickly tore out a piece of paper from my pocket, took pen in hand and wrote a few words on it.

Danton, agitated by the debates at the meeting, worried about me and rushed from the hall.

“Yes, friend Ledru, and here you are, under suspicion of being a conspirator or even a royalist? No, no, brave citizens, I vouch for my friend here. It that good enough for you, citizen Sergeant?”

“It is good that you vouch for him. But for her too?”

The henchman’s stubbornness sounded clearly in his question.

“For her? Which one?”

“Here, this one here!”

“For him, for her, for everyone, that is around him!”

“I thank you citizen Danton and am happy to have seen you. Just continue as before with your work for the welfare of the people. The people will bless you!”

“The people . . . well yes! So be it. Your hand, good sergeant!”

“Long live Danton,” cried the patrol enthusiastically, before leaving.

I wanted to thank Danton, but he was urgently needed in the club and went back inside.

“Madam,” I spoke to the one who called herself Solange. Where may I now take you?”

“Where else but to mother Ledieu, Rue Ferou 24.”

We hardly spoke a word the entire way. A drunk moaned through Rue des Fossés, formerly Monsieur le Prince, and we took another way via Rue du Petit Lion. She skipped along next to me, and I found leisure to observe her. She had to be around 22 years old. A brunette with a peach complexion, expressive large eyes, a fine straight nose and a somewhat mocking mouth. Her feet and hands were like those of a queen. I understood how she would attract suspicion dressed as she was. As we reached number 24, she stopped, to say goodbye.

“Miss Solange, may I see you again?”

“What for and why?”

“Are you an aristocrat?”

“Not a trace. I told you, who I was. Solange Ledieu.”

“You are no more Solange Ledieu, than I am named Albert. Felix Ledru is my name . . . If you insist on not telling me your name fine. But it is really for your own good, that I asked for your name. What happened to you today, can happen to you tomorrow or next week with a worse outcome. I am not a spy for the police, I want to help you.”

“What kind of guarantee do I have that I can trust you?”

“Your own heart must tell you that.”

She looked at me searchingly for a while. Then she said, much more gently, almost humbly:

“I could use a friend like you pretend to be or want to become. But not for myself, for my father.”

“When can I see you again?”

“Tomorrow at this time, here on the street. As soon as I see you from the window, I’ll hurry down.”

“So, tomorrow around 10 o’clock. Solange.” —

The door fell shut, the key locked, I went on alone.

The next day I brought Solange an ID. That calmed her initial mistrust and she confided in me that she had spoken with her father. I shared with her how I thought he could be saved. He must get out of Paris, out of France, and travel to England. And she should follow him shortly. But there was no time to lose, because General Marceau, the person I had gone to for this favor, was departing for the Kleber army the next evening. He would take good care of the notorious outlaw. Solange decided to take me to him that same evening. First, she had me wait on the corner of the former Hotel Mậtignon and spoke again with her father alone. Then she picked me up. Opposite the Hotel Mortemart rose an inconspicuous house, whose door she opened with her little key. Carefully she once more locked the door and led me up to the second floor.

Both of our shadows fell on the narrow balustrade that ran around the building, encircling the courtyard. Like the tight outline of two lovers embracing each other, I thought. A tomcat sang his horrible love song. A man of about fifty in workman’s clothes welcomed me. But his manner of speaking told me immediately that he was foolishly dressed.

I told him everything, including that Marceau intended to take him along as his secretary. Yet he did not want to travel without his daughter. It was only after I told him how impossible it was for them both to travel together, that it would endanger both of their lives, that he finally gave in. I promised him that I would send Solange as quickly as possible. — On the next evening the stranger was happily traveling with Marceaus’ entourage. — — By the day after that we knew the father was out of all danger. Solange’s joy was indescribable. That evening she confessed her love for me. But this love was her downfall. Because instead of leaving, she stayed with me in Paris.

I found her a job as a substitute teacher in a girl’s school, so she would be safe from the revolutionary police that were searching for her. She herself moved into Rue Taranne, and every Sunday and Thursday the poor attic, with its four crooked walls hid an indescribably rich life of love and happiness.

Four months passed. I had surrendered myself to a very peculiar study. A study of the death of the murdered. But not out of an unnatural pleasure and sickness of my emotional life, but out of a sense of being humane. I imagined that if a person were to be murdered, it would be much better to be beheaded than to hang. Many who wanted to hang, were sentenced to beheading and described the sensation which they envisioned. They described it as a sudden shocking blow. Like a deeper sleep, without any pain. First there was a tugging and tearing through all the limbs, but only for a second. Then a blue flame flickered before the eyes and one fell asleep.

We were in the time of common executions. No one had any rule over the other, even Danton had to finally accept it. They guillotined 30-40 people a day, and the blood on the scaffold began to create an eerie puddle. A pond of gruesome color and import.

They dug a trench around the scaffold three feet deep and covered it with boards. That was necessary because once an 8 or 10 year old boy was climbing around and fell into the hideous pit.

I was continuing my propaganda work, that the abolition of the death penalty was necessary through the proof of the existence of life after the execution. Yes, I advanced my experiments by means of galvanism and electricity.

The government put the Clamart cemetery at my disposal and made available to me all the bodies and heads of the executed. I established a laboratory in a small chapel, in a corner of the cemetery. An electrical generator and four so-called laborers helped me with my horrifying work. Around five o’clock in the afternoon a new batch of corpses always arrived. The corpses lay, covered with raw burlap, on the filthy, blood stained and dripping red cart. The heads were placed together in a common sack. I usually took out one or two heads and as many bodies. I gave back the rest. My brothers assisted me in my research.

My love for Solange, to whom I had told nothing of my vocation, grew from day to day. She often received letters from her father who kept warning her to come to him in England. But out of love for me she kept putting off her departure day after day. I often thought of simply marrying her. But to do this she would need to reveal her real name and nothing, not even my scientific prestige could protect her from the Huguier-Tinville. So, I pushed off this marriage plan.

Then came the trial of Queen Marie Antoinette. It started on October 4th and on the 16th her head fell under the guillotine. The streets pulsed with feverish life. Once more the excitement grew in the bloodthirsty crowd by the hour. — I went to Solange around four o’clock in the afternoon, where I found her lost in tears. Even in me a boyhood memory came alive of when the Queen had spoken to me and given me a Louis d’or on a golden chain.

As always, we spent the night together. We stood at the window for a long time and I teased Solange that in her long light hair she looked like Saint Genofeva keeping watch over a hunger and doubt shaken Paris. Then I carried her to her bed and covered her wonderful well cared for, pure white body with a thousand kisses. A wave of light poured in from the moon and surrounded the head of my blessed slumbering lover with a gentle golden halo. But I could not sleep. Until around three o’clock in the morning a dog kept howling in mournful tones. Days later I learned that he belonged to a tenant that had been summoned to the security committee and had not returned.

The nights were already getting cold, so we left the windows closed. Towards morning Solange woke me up and told me that her father had appeared in a dream to help her to escape. He had come in through a bedroom window. Indeed, there was one window open, and a fresh morning breeze swept over Solange’s hot face. With consolations, implorations and protests the morning passed quickly. Solange did not want to abandon me in any way, yet her school started at nine o’clock, and she had already stayed home the day before, on the day of Antoinette’s execution, and she could not stay away from the school for any reason. I hailed a carriage and accompanied her to the corner of Rue des Fossés-St. Bernard. During the entire trip we held each other tightly, as if we were about to be separated forever. As I climbed down from the carriage and Solange continued on, I stood there firmly rooted. And suddenly the carriage stopped again. Solange sprang out and embraced me furiously. Then the loud clang from Saint Etienne struck nine o’clock. She hurried quickly back to the carriage; whose horses now took off at a quicker pace.

A letter from Solange the next day notified me that she and the head of the school had had a violent quarrel because of her absence and then being late. Sunday we would see each other again. I was really looking forward to it. I was still worried about her because she had written that her father’s last letter had been unsealed.

It was Friday, and I had just taken up a new work about Saint Germain, Cagliostro and Pythagoras and had buried myself so deeply in his lectures, that I forgot about the appointment with my brothers. I read about the old wisdom that death does not cancel life. Death only destroys the memories, nothing more. If only the memory was not destroyed, and every soul could recall their past memories from the beginning of the world until now. A certain inexplicable atavistic memory had been experienced by several people, but only the three named above had discovered the great secret, that their bodies had died several times before. It was already three o’clock when I stopped reading and quickly hurried to meet my brothers, but they were no longer there.

So, I went to the cemetery alone. An ugly October rain drew long cold streaks in the mist filled landscape. The town crier passed by in a tattered coat howling out the names of those sentenced to death from the list. Close behind him, invisible, walked death. When I got to Clamart it was almost night. One cloudy light flickered in the grave digger’s shed, overturned and still standing tombstones rose out of the twilight.  The wind rushed through the defoliated trees, like skeleton’s rattling together.

Countless mounds of newly disturbed earth displayed empty or occupied open graves, still uncovered. The bottom of one of these open pits was almost filled to the brim with water. Poor, cold and naked corpses were thrown into this dirty rainwater! I unlocked my laboratory. I struck a flint and lit a fire; the tinder had gotten wet and did not catch fire until the fifth or sixth try. The flicker of the candle ran along the wall, searching. The altar was stripped of all ornaments, the paintings cut and removed from their frames. In the place where earlier the tabernacle had stood, representing God and all of life, now lay exposed a skull with skin and hair, grinning into nothingness.

I sat down in my armchair, which one of the workers had brought, and pondered. I thought of the queen, whom they had only a few hours ago laid in her grave, of the woman, who had been so beautiful, so rich, so happy and like a common criminal had been led to the scaffold by an angry mob. And I thought of the gray sack, that now hid her head, and the soft, splendid linen, on which the blonde girl’s head had once rested in the national castle of Schӧnbrunn, and in the gilded state beds in Versailles, St. Cloud and the Tuileries, upon which the royal mother herself would have liked to slumber.

Outside the thunderstorm became very violent. The storm roared around the old chapel in powerful gales and the branch of an ash drummed on the roof. The ground trembled softly beneath the weight of a nearby passing vehicle. Oh, the red cart with Master Simson’s afternoon meat.

Two men, dripping wet dragged a sack in through the door.

“Good evening, Sir. Those beasts are almost stiff from the cold. Well, these are warmer. You won’t catch cold from them.”

Then they left without closing the door, through which the wind came in and swirled around my hat and coat. The flame of my light flickered up, flickered restlessly back and forth and threatened to go out completely.

I quickly closed the door again and picked up the sack. Outside the bride of the wind raged, and I heard the creaking graveyard trees giving the gruesome sighs of their death song and the whistling and groans of the wild hunt was in the air. Was it the gruesome concert of nature, or that I was alone in the chapel where I usually worked with my brothers, or was it the peculiar restlessness that I felt which had held me spellbound all day? For the first time in a long time, I was seized with a faint horror. And suddenly it seemed to me, as if I heard a weak voice plaintively call out the name “Albert”. I was startled and felt my hair stand on end and made an attempt to smooth it back down. Only one person in the world had ever called me that. I hesitated to untie the sack; but then it repeated again, only weaker and more pitifully:

“Albert!”

My right hand went quickly into the sack. And then it seemed to me as if lips that were still warm, pressed a kiss upon my hand. I was in that stage of horror, which overwhelms and kills us or gives the coward an unheard of feeling of courage and strength. I took the head and quickly put it on the table. But right away I frightened myself. Because I uttered a terrible scream, which shook the vault like a lament of the damned. — — — There was no doubt about it — it was Solange’s head.

I whimpered, I sobbed, I starred absent-mindedly in front of me for minutes without finding any pain-relieving tears. I raved and laughed, loud and shrill like a madman. Then I sat down, took the head, which was full of coagulating blood, kissed it on the mouth and repeated over and over again:

“Solange, Solange, Solange!”

And then I imagined, or did it really happen? That the eyes, which were half closed, opened a little and two tears fell before they closed again.

What happened to me after that, how the light suddenly went out, how I tried to flee, ran into the table, collapsed, fell and struck my head on the edge, and how I believed that the mouth of the guillotined head suddenly opened to my lips and I sensed a cold deathly kiss, as I lost all consciousness.

The next morning the grave diggers found me and slowly brought me back to life. —

Solange had indeed been arrested the same day that she had written to me and was sentenced and judged the next day. The head that had spoken to me, touched my hand and my lips, the eyes, which had looked at me and cried, were indeed Solange’s head, eyes and lips.

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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 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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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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Simplicissimus Vol. 1 No. 1 was first published on 4 April 1896 in the German language as a satirical arts weekly. This is the first English translation and it has been reformatted to a color magazine. It was originally published in newspaper form. Later issues had lots of interior color illustrations in the Art Nouveau style. The front and back covers are always specially colored and beautiful. This first issue was much more simplistic. It contains stories and poems by: Frank Wedekind-Princess Russalka; Richard Dehmel-Greeted by Fear; Jacob Wasserman-Siesta; Arthur Holitscher-The Lonely Pond; Mia Holm-Alone; Theodor Wolff-Song; Th. Th. Heine-Wurst and Love; Georg Herwegh-Homage; Robert Bruss-To Georg Herwegh in the summer of 1852; Carl Busse-Leaving in Spring; Joe E. Bandel-The Last Page. Translation by Joe E. Bandel.

I am excited to publish this very first issue of Simplicissimus! It has long been a dream of mine and I am finally able to realize it. This series is simply for those who love beautiful words and beautiful pictures. There is a soul and a spirit within each issue that carries a vitality and love of life that is missing to today’s world and we need it! At least I do!

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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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Der Orchideengarten Vol 1 No 2

Der Orchideengarten Vol 1 No 2 is the second issue of the world’s first illustrated fantasy magazine originally published in the German language in 1919. This English translation keeps the original art and contains the following stories: The Deadly Supper by Karl and Joseph Kapek; The Heart by Otto Zoff; The Hasty Corpse by Wilhelm Nhil; The World On Ash Wednesday by Edgar Steiger; The Phantom Coach by Amelia Edwards; Translations are by Joe E. Bandel

The second issue of Der Orchideengarten is now available! I am planning on doing one a month so this is the July issue! Remember Der Orchideengarten is only available through Lulu publishing!

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Der Orchideengarten Vol 1, No. 1

I’ve just finished my latest project, the first issue of Der Orchideengarten Vol 1, no 1 which was published in 1919 in the German language. I’ve translated it and am republishing it through Lulu Press. It is the first in an entire series of old dark fantasy and science fiction.

Der Orchideengarten was the world’s first illustrated fantasy magazine and has a definite place in history. This first issue contains stories by Rudolph Schneider, Paul Frank, Karl Hans Strobl, Max Rohrer, Victor Hugo and A.M. Frey. I have tried to keep it as authentic as possible keeping the original illustrations and art. I am hoping to translate and publish the entire series of forgotten stories and art.

This will only be available through Lulu publishing company at this link.

 

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The Strangling Hand
by Karl Hans Strobl
translated by Joe E. Bandel
Copyright Joe E. Bandel
The Strangling Hand Ch 2 pg 33-36

Chapter 2 The Forest People

Andreas Semilasso lived among people for half a century before renouncing them. His habits ran counter to the laws of the common interest so much that his life was a constant battle. He really enjoyed this battle, even though a few tried to tell him that the will of the people was stronger and would always win. The powers were too unevenly distributed, and it was impossible for even the strongest personality to go against the written law and custom. So the people laughed at the foolishness of Andreas Semilasso and shook their heads over his eccentrics, until they began to recognize the dangerousness of his example and their smiles transformed into frowns of scorn.

They finally recognized that such resistance against society could not be allowed to go unpunished, and that such a person, who only lived for his own wild and untamed nature, could lead the herd into a revolution and uprising against customs. It was as if a beautiful, untamed beast ran around free, with its fangs and claws, and its unbounded power was an immense threat to the peaceful citizen. At first the law good naturedly overlooked the little trespasses of Andreas Semilasso, but when he threw a tax collector out the door so violently that his leg was broken, it was too much and they stuck him behind secure walls for a while.

After Andreas Semilasso was set free, public opinion turned against him. It was certain that people who had once considered him formidable were now inclined against him and decided to find ways to weaken his superior strength. But it was impossible for these crippled people, who had lost all their instincts, and their will to live. But he never again went out among them, never made friends with the students or public. He did what he should have done a long time ago. He gave up his dwelling place among people.

With his few bits and pieces, which he loaded onto a donkey, he left the city, wearing a large gray smock belted with a cord around his body and with sandals on his feet. On his head, for protection against the sun, was a broad straw hat, the remnant of a Panama hat, from which he had removed the top part. His black straggly hair protruded out from the top of it and the yellow straw of the brim surrounded his head and grim face like a massive halo. He looked like a wandering apostle, warlike and the enemy of all luxury, as he marched through the streets of the city, followed by a crowd of jubilant urchins. Andreas Semilasso let them scream and bluster behind him, but when a beefy fellow confronted him just outside the city and shouted scornful words at him, he turned around and threw a stone at his head.

So he took his leave from civilization and moved into a cave in the forest, which he had discovered on one of his day long excursions. Now he had won his solitude; now they wouldn’t lock him up anymore; now he was free, to enjoy all things above and below the earth as he pleased. He transformed the front of his cave into a comfortable chamber with windows, a door and an oven, and the back of his cave opened out into a huge cathedral. From this cathedral, whose pointed arches bored high above into the darkness, branching passages led far beneath the rock. When harsh fires burned inside of him, Andreas Semilasso often sat there in complete darkness on a pile of rubble, which had been formed by falling stone. He listened to the voices of the deep. Somewhere down below, from a split in the limestone came the sound of water, like the song of the blood that flowed in his veins.

During the course of the year he explored his cave and named the two passages with names that sounded like those found in old chronicles. He named one “Justice”, which was long and winding, very extensive and always went in ever widening circles until one finally got lost in the darkness. The other he named “Injustice”. It was short and straight and led to a hole in the rock wall from which he could look out into a valley. There was also a little room which he called the chapel, because of the white stalactite formations and a glittering pillar. In the center lay a massive, heavy black block of stone which he named “the Deed”. There was also a black pool in the back of a distant grotto, which reflected the pointed flames of the torch he carried upon the cold waters of its ebony surface. Its waters were fed by some unknown spring from somewhere deep below, but the water overflowed and poured into an abyss which he named “the Insatiable”. In the spring the snow water also came streaming in, shutting off a portion of the cave and overflowing, so that Andreas Semilasso was more than once in danger of his life. That was why he loved this traitorous pool.

This was not some silly game that the hermit was playing. When a story came to his ear about someone who was repressed by the brutal law of the majority, in which some refined sensibility became choked under its force, then he went down the passage of Justice, to where the unexplored darkness began, extinguished his torch and waited until he heard laughter in the darkness. When he heard of a brave deed that opposed the desires of the crowd, he was led to the passage of Injustice and to the window, from which he waved out at the great valley. When he wanted to strengthen his will, he went to the chamber of the glittering pillar and laid his hands upon the wet black block of stone, drawing strength from it until his own power became greater and greater and he felt prepared for anything.

Everything that he thought was superficial and foolish, any dispensable equipment and the remains of his meals, he threw into “the Insatiable”. When he wanted to rid himself of tormenting thoughts, he banished them by imprisoning their spirits in stones, which he drowned in the black pool. One of his favorite wonders in this subterranean kingdom was a temporary flight up a stone chimney which he would search out when he wanted to lighten his spirits. The chimney was a narrow fissure that led to the surface world. Fir trees stood over its entrance, which slowly leaked drops of water. The rush of the wind in the branches created a wild bellowing of strange beauty and moving rhythm, like the ridiculous beating wings of the angel of creation, and the falling drops of water counted out the beats between this wonderful song of eternity with the silver ringing trickle of time.

Often Andreas Semilasso didn’t come out of his passages and grotto into the light for weeks. But when he did he was seized with the beauty of a sunset, the green of the trees in front of his door or the purple colors of the evening sky which he glimpsed from out of some fissure. These glimpses were so powerful that he would leave the underworld and give himself entirely to the wonders of the light. That was when his life in the forest began. There in the lonely hot mountain meadows, where he lay among high weeds between the forgotten tap roots of tree trunks, from out of whose cut surfaces sparkling resin dripped.

Andreas Semilasso would lay for hours among these tree trunks, which he called his brothers, so still, that the emerald lizards crawled over his hands and his shoulders, even to hesitatingly come near his face. He was familiar with the Morse code that the woodpecker beat into the bark, with the cries of the sparrow hawk and falcon, with the cooing of the forest pigeons, and the busy ants in war and peace with the thieving ground beetles kept no secrets from him. He often sat naked on a high limb and felt transformed by the sun and the light. Other times he placed himself under the falling water of a forest brook and let the drops spray over his body. Sometimes he lay on his belly watching the stupid water bugs at the edges of a pool and with long patience caught the slender Gobies in the hollow of his hand, only to fling them back out into the water.

In moonlit summer nights he searched over jagged blocks for a path from his grotto to the witches’ stone, where skewed placements of bursting rock tiles created wild adventures. Grim faces looked out from the wrinkled stone fissures. There were fortune hunters, sneering gallows birds, glum mountain spirits and even moon maidens. In the crevices tree roots lay like giant sleeping snakes, and mandrakes giggled beneath the moss. From here he could look out over the sleeping forest. At first only old hares watched him from behind the bushes and fir trees. But the shimmering things came forward on the ridge to listen to his stories, until the early morning dawn when they left him and hid themselves once more in their secret corners.

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