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much more beautiful than they really were. Thus I always was “Lucky Hans.” How, then, can something that is not real have such great results ?'
In reply the Professor kindly enlightens bim regarding the influence of digestion upon imagination, and explains further that the only Science which in his eyes deserves the name of such is the study of the human body. The words 'good' and 'bad'so he teaches-express only different chemical consistencies of the blood; and the stomach is the workshop of all action, whether mental or physical. The world's history, gentlemen, is brewed in the stomach.'
In this conversation the key-note of the book is struck : the struggle between the two sorts of truth-the material and the ideal.
As a result Big Hans resolves to study medicine, while Little Hans, smilingly unmoved by the Professor's arguments, remains true to his priestly vocation.
Next day their roads part—for good. Only three times in life will they meet again.
Soon Hans the elder is sitting at the feet of Professor Weisspandtner, who has taken a fancy to the gay, light-hearted youth. Already the student has become a welcome guest in the Professor's family circle, and presently begins to wonder which of his two daughters he would like best to marry, only to come to the conclusion that he would rather not marry either. Malcha, the elder, the depressed possessor of a million in her own right, is anything but exhilarating company, while Evelana, the younger, is one of those brilliant, modern minxes who know everything about everything-in their own belief, anyway-and whose form of flirtation is scientific arguments with young men -the more indelicate the theme the better, of course-the defeated antagonist being comforted by generously dispensed favours. As she happens to be very pretty, the antagonists are naturally not so stupid as ever to remain victorious.
One day Hans meets her fluttering down the steps of the clinique, smiling, glowing, lively as an escaped butterfly. 'Comrade!' she cried, with arms spread wide, 'to-day you can have a kiss!'
He accepts the offer, and she flutters on, wreathed in girlish laughter.
The causes of her jubilation? The corpse of a dragoon whom, under the eyes of the medical authorities, she had just successfull' dissected; and the compliments showered on the performance.
But although neither of the sisters hits off Hans's taste, he is, nevertheless, resolved to make his choice between them, since of course a money-marriage is one of the conditions of that worldly success which, according to the Professor, is the one
thing worth aiming at. A man's only duty is towards his own social existence—so he has been taught; such things as pity, love, self-sacrifice, are but degenerate excrescences of culture, and have got to be healed, if humanity is to remain robust.
Acting upon these principles, Hans selects the elder Fräulein Weisspandtner, as being the better-dowered of the two, and on the day on which he takes his degree is solemnly betrothed to her.
But his heart is heavy in the midst of his triumph. In the Siebensterngasse, where he lodges, there is a certain brownhaired, gentle-eyed Lieserl, whose budding charms he has watched unfold. In unguarded moments he has indulged in dreams; but for matrimonial purposes she is, of course, not to be thought of; and for others—the mother is far too vigilant.
It is on the evening of his betrothal that Hans realises what Lieserl has become to him. From the festive board at which his double victory is being celebrated amid the popping of many corks, some power draws him irresistibly to the Siebensterngasse. His visit is ostensibly meant for Lieserl's sick mother; but his patient is asleep, and the unprotected girl, who knows nothing of his engagement, succumbs to his wine-heated passion.
In the next chapter we find the new-made doctor established in a handsome suite of apartments and waiting for his first patient. Here it is that, after a long pause, a sign of life reaches him from his old schoolfellow. Once only in the interval have the two namesakes met; it was during their first holidays, when Big Hans had noted, to his pain, that Little Hans remained as bigoted as ever, and attempts an appeal to his reason.
'Do you know, Hans,' he said regretfully, 'I am sorry for you? Do you not shudder at this bottomless hypocrisy? The stupid peasants know no better; but you ! you with your straightforward mind, your education ! You can't want to go on playing this comedy?'
The little one made no reply, and they continued along the dark, deserted road.
Then he noticed that the theologian was softly sobbing. Instantly pity seized him. “He is crying over his own misfortune!' he thought, and continued with fresh vigour: ‘Hans, see here, I know you, and I know that Truth is your highest ideal. I have never caught you in a lie.... Truth, too, is that which I mean to live for when I am my own master. Have you never reflected, my friend, how great a thing Truth is? And have you ever asked yourself seriously what Truth is ?'
The little theologian was silent.
Thus they had walked on in the dark night. Now they reached a wood, where, under high trees, there stood an object, high and narrow, barely visible. Little Hans stood still. He took a box from his pocket and struck a match. In the circle of light a way-side pillar was disclosed—in a niche the figure of the risen Christ, above it the roughly painted words: 'I am the Truth. He who believes in me shall be saved.'
That much was seen ; then the little flame went out, and it was darker than before.
That had been three years ago. Now Hans holds in his hands an invitation of his friend to be present at his Primiz—the first Mass he is to read. Grimly Big Hans accepts—for the village in question is the very one at which he has engaged himself to hold a rationalist lecture. Lately he has joined a society called 'Progress, whose chief task is to enlighten' the peasant mind. What an excellent opportunity for crossing arms with his retrogressive friend !
But matters take an unlooked-for turn. The thick-skulled peasants, always suspicious of the 'town-folk,' attempt to storm the lecture-room, which Hans, rather than preach to empty benches, has seen fit to fill with disciples of ‘Progress, telegraphically summoned ; and only the personal interference of the new-made priest saves himself and his friends from extremely rough usage. It is thanks to Little Hans's influence that Big Hans is able to reel off his arguments to an audience to whom they are anything but new. This speech, so far as the noise outside let it be audible, started from Darwin's theory of descent, went on to natural selection, and ended with Nietzsche's • Masterman.'
One single rustic hearer was present, who sat there as devoutly as though he were in church. A cow-herd. He told his family afterwards that the whole thing had not been so very sinful after all. The gentleman had spoken about the elections, and about cattle-breeding, but in so fine a language that you couldn't well get at the sense of it.
With rage in his heart, Hans returns to the capital and to his fiancée. Also to Lieserl. But not for long. Her mother is dead, which has removed the only obstacle to his sinful passion. One day a small packet is brought to him, and out of it fall the few trifling gifts he has given her—and a scrap of paper, bearing the words : ‘Farewell. May God forgive you l-Elizabeth.'
She has discovered his engagement, and this is her reply to it. Hans hurries to the Siebensterngasse, and finds her flown.
Presently he is invited to take part in the dissection of a ' Donau Nixe,' the students' flippant nickname for a drowned woman. Hans has lately been dreaming of drowned women, and shudderingly questions his comrade :
Have you seen her ?'
'Yes, I tell you !' 'Is she old ?'
"Since when do old women go into the water ?' laughed the other. 'Unluckily it is always the young ones.'
* Her height ?' jerked out Hans.
"Oh, I have no objection to its being brown. You can look at her yourself, if she interests you.'
Hans, goaded as though by scorpions, goes back to the Siebensterngasse. Surely she will be back by this time. But the lodging is deserted. He drives at full gallop to the clinique. The anatomical section is locked up. And then begins the night —the long, terrible night, of which he spends a part pacing the shores of the Danube, and another part laughing at his own fears.
It is during this night that, amid pangs indescribable, his soul is born. The phases of the process are noted with the hand of a master.
Why should she be dead, after all ? Why just she? Are not people daily fished out of the Danube ?
He lay down in his clothes. Pity, compassion-stupid weaknesses. And pity with the dead, who do not suffer! It was good to remember that. Strange that his legs should tremble. It had grown quiet all around. And now he slumbered. Of fair days of childhood he dreamed—for a few minutes only. Then she stretched towards him. From the bier which stood close to the bed she stretched a stiff, clay-cold hand. Upon his head she laid it, and stroked over his hairwith a stiff, clay-cold hand. He started up. What was this? The beat of his heart echoed in his temples.
* Does she want to mock me all my life long? Has she done it, perhaps, in order to torture me?—No, Elizabeth, if you had really loved me you would not have done this.-So she is lying in the anatomical chamber. And you, Hans Schmied, have gone far'thus he apostrophised himself ; 'of others you demand everything, but you will neither give nor suffer anything. Never again was she to come to light, so that nothing should disturb your voluptuous life. ... No breath of remorse should trouble the seducer, the betrayer who has destroyed her happiness, strangled her young life.'
When the grey morning looked in by the windows Hans had touched the depths of self-contempt. Beyond this point a man cannot go. Now he waited only for the truth; he must see her with his own eyes; and then
He goes to the clinique, but with a loaded revolver in his pocket.
"We have kept the nymph for you,' said his colleague of yesterday, 'since you seem to take an interest in her.'
Hans searched with his eyes. There, on the table by the window, lay the muffled object. He went straight towards it. With convulsed fingers
he took hold of the grey linen, to strip it from the shape beneath. Who lifts this veil shall see Truth!' A quick movement, and the body lay bare before him.
'Is it-is it this one ?” he asked, panting.
Hans looked round the room and again at the body. The terrific strain relaxed. He fell upon a wooden chair, uttering a long-drawn sound.. The students exchanged startled glances. That is the way madmen laugh. They bent over him—then he raised his head, grinning with amazement, the eyes wide and empty, and spoke into the empty air: 'It is not she!'
After a short but sharp illness Hans recovers his health, but not his plan of life; that lies shattered at his feet. The theories, of course, are all right in themselves, but unfortunately he is not the man to put them into practice, his will being corroded by the canker of Pity. He breaks off his engagement and sets off in search of his lost mistress. He searches in town and country, he searches for years, but Lieserl has vanished beyond his ken. Sometimes, in moments of desolation, his spirit yearns towards his old schoolfellow, the only friend he has ever had. What has become of Little Hans? Big Hans scarcely knows. All that has reached him is a report of a conflict with the ecclesiastical authorities, and of the young priest’s banishment to a so-called punitive post. An affair with a housekeeper, it is said : quite an ordinary occurrence.
Six years have passed when Hans finds himself once more climbing his native Alps, in the company of an eccentric Yankee, who doses himself with mountains as with medicine, but likes to have medical assistance at hand. And now it is that, reaching a bleak, stony spot, where a wretched little wooden church stands among half-a-dozen hovels, Hans finds himself face to face both with his lost sweetheart and his lost friend. This mountain pilgrimage is Little Hans's exile, and Lieserl is the housekeeper who has been the cause of the banishment, while the fair-baired boy who gambols by her side is the doctor's own abandoned son.
Wild jealousy seizes upon him. Although, from his schoolfellow's own lips, he hears the story of how he had picked up the fainting woman, literally upon the high-road, and incurred disfavour by his refusal to turn her and her child out of doors; although in face of Little Hans's candid eyes--as candid as in their old school-days—and of his straightforward : ‘Nothing wrong has happened-be sure of that !' suspicions droop, yet Big Hans feels too profoundly guilty to be able to believe in such innocence. His heart is torn between bitterness and pity; for Little Hans's face is neither so round nor so rosy as it used to be, and his husky voice tells the medical man that he is doomed, and that the icy blasts of this exposed spot are hastening the doom.