Why are evacuation cases suddenly so popular

John Henry Mackay
Between the goals
John Henry Mackay

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Then he suddenly remembered ...

He was alone now.

He was freed from his wife, his daughter, his business.

His wife had died; his daughter married abroad; and he had sold his business now that he had enough money for the rest of his life.

This is how he lived now: he got up later than usual and dressed at a leisurely pace. After breakfast he looked at something: a collection, a museum, or he had a little morning pint at Potsdamer Brücke; after dinner he slept. Then he read and wrote a little, and with the beginning of the evening he went to his regulars' table with great regularity ...

He let the hours go by as they pleased. Now that he had so much time, he thought of so many things that had never crossed his mind before.

There was such a great longing in him, the longing for that tenderness which he never enjoyed in his life and which he has missed all his life.

He never found her.

Not in his parents' house. They were in constant quarrel with one another - half crushed to death by the worries of life.

Not with his siblings. It had been a large gang of children in which everything was scrambled for the best bite and the warmest place.

Not in his apprenticeship. His master was a tough and strict man who spoke only the bare essentials.

Not with his first love. It had been a wild intoxication and it had taken a long time before he could break free of her: years.

Not with his wife and not with his child.

His wife had been a cool and relaxed person, outwardly of a certain majestic amiability, inwardly indifferent and afflicted from top to bottom with the pettiness of superficiality. She had tormented him as best she could and taught the child early on to take sides with her against his father. And this child should never have been tender to him? - Oh yes. If it wanted something. Then it had come to his knees and mouth, so that he almost preferred it to stay at all.

He was very popular among his acquaintances, as with everyone who had the opportunity to get to know him better.

His wife had died. He could no longer be mistaken that it would have been ridiculous for him to feel anything other than relief when she died.

His daughter was married. He had bought her the man she had chosen, thereby fulfilling the last wish he could grant her. There was nothing left for him to do.

Then he had freed himself from his business, which had become useless for him. He himself had always lived without pretensions and had enough for his last days.

So he lived now, almost suddenly immersed in a great abundance of peace, calm and leisure.

As he opened and turned the well-ordered pages of his life one by one in his many quiet hours, he knew what was missing.

And a great unrest seized him: the unrest of the people who want to catch up on what they have missed before the gate closes and yet do not know how it could be possible. Desperate, he returned to the past over and over again: something had to be buried there, something to be found beneath all the dust of years and toil that still had so much fragrance in it to overwhelm the last few hours.

He searched and searched and found nothing.

It was the first fine days of the year. The sun lay on his windows, flattering and peering at how great its power was already.

While he was sifting through old papers and leafing through an old account book, a loss item jumped into his eyes, which he was responsible for through his own negligence, he suddenly remembered:

He was a young man of twenty-five and was in Leipzig for eight days in business. It was the time of the last carnival balls and he had made an appointment with a business friend that evening to attend the masquerade ball in the Crystal Palace.

But his friend did not come and he scowled through the crowd until he sat down at a table, drank one glass of bock beer after the other and consulted with himself whether he should go to his hotel and go to bed or not.

Then a little girl who sat down at his table released him from his doubts.

They soon came to an agreement, and after five days when he was due to leave he was so little done with his business that he had to stay another five days.

Then, after another five days, he still hadn't done his business but had no time to stay, so he had left.

This little girl was to blame for the loss, the number of which now, after almost forty years, jumped into his eyes again.

Suddenly he knew that once in his life he had been happy, once and never so completely happy.

He paced up and down, up and down.

His restlessness grew and grew. There was a burden on him from which he had to free himself.

Everything was so quiet around him that he could hear the ticking of the clock in the next room through the closed door. That became unbearable for him.

But where should he go?

At best, he couldn't get to his regulars' table for three hours. Go to one of his acquaintances? They were all at work.

Should he go for a walk? - But where?

He sat down at his table and put his arms over the papers. His forehead sank slowly.

No, it wasn't good to be alone ...

His restlessness subsided. Suddenly he started. He had heard her laugh with which she called him: the soft, melodic laugh that he had not heard in these many years, it was her laugh.

He jumped up hastily.

He thought, thought, thought. Then he ran through all the rooms, rummaging and searching: - a suitcase and what he needed for a few days.

It took half an hour to finish. He locked the apartment, wrote "Out of town" on the board at his door and hurried downstairs.

He sat in the car and drove to the train station. He wasn't even surprised when he heard that the next train to Leipzig was leaving in half an hour and that he hardly had to wait at all.

Soon he was sitting in the upholstery of the coupé.

She had called him, called with her laugh, and he came.

In the evening he was in Leipzig.

During the journey a strange smile often flew over his face.

Like the bridegroom of his bride, he drove towards his happiness with an almost trembling expectation and an excessive desire, which increased the secrecy still further.

It was already late, but still he left the hotel, which was on the ring promenade.

It was a warm and dark evening.

He looked for the Brühl. He only had to walk down a side street. Soon he was there. There he recognized the old Leipzig for the first time: the old high gabled houses with their shops up to the fifth floor. He strolled slowly down the street.

But he always thought of one thing: Tomorrow! - Tomorrow! He looked for a goose tavern. There was no tiredness at all, there was only freshness in him, and he didn't care that it was nearing midnight.

As he sat in front of the tall glass with the yellow liquid in the wood-paneled, old room, in which each of the long tables was separated from the others by high wooden walls and so each formed a cozy corner, he was overcome with an unspeakable feeling of well-being, and he puffed the smoke from his cigar like a young fan.

He felt like talking. Real joy is always communicative; the real pain only when it has crossed the line of despair, and then only in rare cases.

He spoke to the waiter, then to a fat man who sat down with him at the table for a whole hour, until he had really drunk three goses.

He slept well in the good bed in the clean hotel. Her picture was in his last thoughts.

When he got up in the morning he felt younger than he had in years.

He ate his breakfast with appetite and delighted in the unchanged appearance of a very boring, very conservative daily newspaper and the stereotype of its petty advertisements.

But not for long. Because everything drove him out: the sunshine and a strong, urgent feeling that was still without a specific goal.

He didn't really know where he was going. And yet he knew it.

So he walked along the promenade past the old theater and past the church, the church with the high, pointed tower - wasn't it called the Thomaskirche? - until he got to the old Pleißenburg.

Here he stood still.

Again, like when he fell asleep yesterday evening, from the blurred background of his memories her image rose clearly and tangibly, as it had been his in an hour - the last hour of parting!

Here they had stood, sheltered from the shadows of the late evening. They had agreed to part ways here, not in the hustle and bustle of the train station.

He had promised her to come back later this year and believed what he said himself.

He lifted her little face to see it once more in all its touching friendliness, which he loved even more than her youth and her charm. Then they kissed until two half-drunk students interrupted them with mocking shouts.

"Come back for sure," she said softly, in a pleading tone in which she often spoke.

Definitely, sure enough, he'll be back ...

Now was he there - - -

He had moved on in a deep mind.

He kept thinking of new things, now that the place was under his feet again.

Now he knew where he was going and where it was that she was waiting for him.

And he tore himself open.

He had to go to her.

He knew that - in order to be able to walk along the small river to Connewitz - he had to cross part of the city. Then he came across fields and finally he came to a summer bath, the name of which he pondered in vain.

He asked several passers-by, describing all of this to them.

At last it had the name: the fishing bath.

Now he was shown on and on by the thread of this name and he carelessly walked past the new, large buildings and was hardly surprised at how far the rows of houses stretched.

The area became quite lonely when he left the last few streets. A forest edge appeared. He soon reached him.

The bathroom was closed and silent.

There was a serious, almost solemn silence all around. She didn't quite fit in with his expectant, happy mood and the warm sunshine, he thought.

Now he knew again where he was and without hesitation he found the path. He had to follow him, always along the river ...

It was cool under the trees. The black water flowed sluggishly. Nobody met him.

When he was at the Wasserschänke - a wooden shack built into him on the other side of the river, where there were refreshments for the boaters in the summer (now it was completely deserted and locked and the inscriptions sounded strange to him) - he remembered: There they too had sat on a wonderful evening, with young, loud, laughing people, under the twinkling stars of the spring night, under the guard of their great, blissful happiness, which found few words, but only handshakes, tender touches and long kisses . They had come by boat, they went on by boat ...

The old gentleman turned away.

He was now walking quickly forward, always following the path that led him by the river. He didn't even look up.

He thought of how they had met, back then, that evening when he was abandoned by his friend.

The hustle and bustle of the goat party in the Crystal Palace surrounded him and he crept sullenly from table to table until he finally sat down at the last one, to which she came immediately afterwards, heated from the dance and to rest for a moment.

What a lovely face she had, the little one, he liked her straight away, at first glance, in everything: the way she moved the fan and how the simple dress fit her.

She greeted him with a nod, not unfriendly, still completely indifferent, and looked at him straight away: impartially and openly openly as to whether they would go together, but without any intrusiveness.

They went very well together, it seemed, for they never parted again that evening, and not that night, and not much in the next few days, only when he had to go to his business.

In this night! - - and another picture stood before him.

Towards morning he opened his eyes. A ray of the moon trembled on the bed.

He saw her small hand clenched on his bare chest. Her little face had a very lovely expression of satisfaction and she was breathing regularly and easily. A small, firm, white breast emerged from the shifted shirt.

He couldn't help it, he had to kiss her.

She woke up immediately and smiled at him. Overwhelmed by tiredness, she closed her eyes again, but opened them again immediately.

He felt a burning thirst for the heavy beer he had enjoyed. He groped around in vain for a glass.

- I'll get something, she said when she noticed it.

She jumped out of bed and crept out on her bare feet so as not to wake the landlady.

Standing in front of him, she held the glass full of water to his lips and he drank thirstily. Again the silent, so intimate smile was around her mouth ...

Oh, how he saw her again, saw her standing in front of him! - -

When she came to him again, the fresh breeze of the spring night had cooled her limbs and her feet were cold. With a low whisper he tenderly scolded her recklessness, and under his embrace he felt the warmth return to her tender young limbs ...

It was their first night, and so was everyone. - He couldn't help it, he loved her, the little one, "who didn't go with everyone," as she once told him, but went with everyone she liked.

Never a bad word, never a whim.

She was satisfied with everything he suggested: whether he led her here or there, it all seemed the same to her.

That, that was what he loved so much about her -: this incessant goodness, which did not know itself and did not appreciate its worth, but gave and gave as if its fullness could never be exhausted. How well he felt it, which he actually experienced in himself for the first time in his life! -

Never a greedy request, never a tasteless phrase.

She took what he gave her as if it had been taken for granted, but she took the gold bracelet with the same quiet joy as the first rose he bought her on the street corner, and both seemed to have the same value to her. She wasn't tasteless enough to be grateful. She guessed what she was giving him, even if she didn't know.

He could go anywhere with her. She had that unobtrusive taste of simplicity that is so uncommonly rare. She was not a great lady who gave her orders in the restaurants with great fan movements. But she wasn't at all embarrassed when he led her into a first-rate pub, where the inexperienced is so easily dazzled by a false and calculated splendor.

She wasn't stupid at all. She had learned nothing, but her brain had started thinking early in a desolate youth that she reluctantly told him about once when he asked her.

Poor little thing! He often felt sorry for her and doubled his friendliness. But she wasn't unhappy. He was wrong. If only one left her as she was, her nature stood in a safe, healthy balance, even without outside help.

How he remembered her! - And how he loved her more and more again, with each new trait of her being that was revealed to him again! - -

He went faster. The forest was already clearing on the opposite bank and wide meadows emerged, while the path on this side still ran under the trunks close to the river.

How it had happened back then that they wanted to meet out here, that she had preceded him, that he had stayed in town, he no longer knew.

But in no moment had her image been more sharply and, as he now felt with painful joy, more memorable than in this one:

When he came down the path, hurrying and red with excitement, peering as far ahead as possible, and she saw in the small, half-empty garden of the inn, looking at him with eyes full of expectation, her beer still untouched in front of her, her straw hat in her Hands and these folded in your lap, and a little, just a little - but so blessed! - smiling when he came now.

She didn't say anything, she didn't say much at all, the stupid little thing, but she had a lovely way of expressing her joy: she put her cheek on his shoulders for a minute, the way dogs show when they are flattering the hanging hand of hers Gentlemen walk by ...

And that afternoon, and that evening and that night, they were so unspeakably happy together! - -

She was waiting for him. If he now walked through the grounds of the large summer inn and down the road to the bridge, then on the right, close to the horse-drawn tram stop, there was a small garden, actually a large arbor that belonged to the inn on the other side of the street and in this arbor, at the table at the back, she sat -: looking at him longingly and smiling, only a little, but so blissfully! - -

He was trembling.

He almost ran and his feet tripped several times.

That was no longer an expectation that drove him now, it was the most terrible inner excitement.

He realized what brought him here. This vague longing for something lost, long dead and buried was like the last struggling desperation with which the sinking skipper tries to reach the land, like the bird's last, flagging attempt to reach its nest with a broken wing, like the last , rattling cry of a heart that has been silent for too long, whose last, bloody drops seep without a trace in the sands of remorse ...

And as he understood this, the veil fell of the strange illusion in which he had been shrouded for the last twenty hours: even before reality itself tore him apart, he sank like a cloud of dust which the whirlwind had blown up.

It happened so suddenly that, as if struck by a physical pain, he stopped.

Was he mad? -

What happened to him !? -

Ah nothing ... He had just made a trip here to refresh forgotten memories. Now they had gained such power over him. - -

He laughed convulsively. He was an old fool. How stupid it was all.

But he felt how tired he had become. Every step was an effort. Still, he went slowly on. Nothing drove him forward and he would have preferred to turn back. But he could already see the houses between the trees while the grounds surrounded him.

Then he was on the road. But he knew it now, there - in the arbor, there were at most a few cursing river servants sitting in front of their schnapps, or a greasy waiter lounging around between the dreary benches, and the horse-drawn carriages left their stops without passengers, because this sun, which is now on him once seemed so poor, who is she luring out into the open? -

He was so disillusioned, so much so, that now, when he reached the bridge, he only let a weary, indifferent gaze wander over the place, which showed him that everything was as he had intended it to be, only worse: bare and the slats of the arbor stood bare of tendrils and the posts of the benches and tables protruded without boards from the mold of the foliage in the foreground, which may not have touched a foot for months ...

A desolate desolation and loneliness lay over this spot.

But the desolation and loneliness of his heart were more desolate.

The horse-drawn tram stop was so close that he could overlook the arrival and departure of the carriages. He stood there heavy and tired, leaning on his cane and not looking at those around him, until after a few minutes he heard a car rattle by.

During the long drive across a wide and empty field, he sat quietly, looking in front of him. In the city he got out and took a cab to get to his hotel more quickly.

Everything bothered him so much now that he drew the curtains over the window. And he felt how comfortable the lonely darkness in which he sat did him.

The doorman jumped up and opened the car. The guest got out.

In an adjoining room of the dining room he let himself be covered, next to the window, and at a corner table. He was sitting here all alone.

Outside the window, the life of the noon hour surged past him colorfully.

He only ordered one dish and when it came he hardly touched it. But his heart longed for some small, poor outward joy, and he wondered how the father thinks about what he could give his sick child so that he might smile again. Then he asked for champagne from Roederer, whom he loved.

The wine stood before him, and for a moment he delighted in the fine, dull color and the dancing and floating of the pearls. But when he raised the glass to his mouth to empty it, he suddenly saw a small face with brown, happy eyes - her eyes, the way she laughed at him when they were drinking champagne together in the old wine bar - it wasn't Has it been a little cellar? - - - and with a bitter, hasty gesture he put it back so that the wine was spilling.

Chased away joy before it could express itself! Again he fearfully asked himself: What was that? - What was that?! -

And pale he got up, swaying, defending the dismayed waiter with his hand, went through the hall and up the stairs to his room. There he sat on the edge of the bed for a while before ringing the doorbell.

After an hour he drove back to Berlin.

He slumbered a little while driving.

In the evening he was already back at his regulars' table.

Nobody asked him where he was yesterday.

But in the next time everyone noticed how quickly he was aging. Sometimes they talked about it and thought that he was missing his usual occupation.

They were all wrong.

A memory that suddenly awoke and could no longer be banished quickly consumed the rest of his life.


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