Sigmund Freud (18561939). Delusion and Dream. 1917.
Part I. Gradiva, a Pompeiian Fancy, by Wilhelm Jensen
ON a visit to one of the great antique collections of Rome, Norbert Hanold had discovered a bas-relief which was exceptionally attractive to him, so he was much pleased, after his return to Germany, to be able to get a splendid plaster-cast of it. This had now been hanging for some years on one of the walls of his work-room, all the other walls of which were lined with bookcases. Here it had the advantage of a position with the right light exposure, on a wall visited, though but briefly, by the evening sun. About one-third life-size, the bas-relief represented a complete female figure in the act of walking; she was still young, but no longer in childhood and, on the other hand, apparently not a woman, but a Roman virgin about in her twentieth year. In no way did she remind one of the numerous extant bas-reliefs of a Venus, a Diana, or other Olympian goddess, and equally little of a Psyche or nymph. In her was embodied something humanly commonplacenot in a bad senseto a degree a sense of present time, as if the artist, instead of making a pencil sketch of her on a sheet of paper, as is done in our day, had fixed her in a clay model quickly, from life, as she passed on the street, a tall, slight figure, whose soft, wavy hair a folded kerchief almost completely bound; her rather slender face was not at all dazzling; and the desire to produce such effect was obviously equally foreign to her; in the delicately formed features was expressed a nonchalant equanimity in regard to what was occurring about her; her eye, which gazed calmly ahead, bespoke absolutely unimpaired powers of vision and thoughts quietly withdrawn. So the young woman was fascinating, not at all because of plastic beauty of form, but because she possessed something rare in antique sculpture, a realistic, simple, maidenly grace which gave the impression of imparting life to the relief. This was effected chiefly by the movement represented in the picture. With her head bent forward a little, she held slightly raised in her left hand, so that her sandaled feet became visible, her garment which fell in exceedingly voluminous folds from her throat to her ankles. The left foot had advanced, and the right, about to follow, touched the ground only lightly with the tips of the toes, while the sole and heel were raised almost vertically. This movement produced a double impression of exceptional agility and of confident composure, and the flight-like poise, combined with a firm step, lent her the peculiar grace.
Where had she walked thus and whither was she going? Doctor Norbert Hanold, docent of archaeology, really found in the relief nothing noteworthy for his science. It was not a plastic production of great art of the antique times, but was essentially a Roman genre production and he could not explain what quality in it had aroused his attention; he knew only that he had been attracted by something and this effect of the first view had remained unchanged since then. In order to bestow a name upon the piece of sculpture, he had called it to himself Gradiva, the girl splendid in walking. That was an epithet applied by the ancient poets solely to Mars Gradivus, the war-god going out to battle, yet to Norbert it seemed the most appropriate designation for the bearing and movement of the young girl, or, according to the expression of our day, of the young lady, for obviously she did not belong to a lower class but was the daughter of a nobleman, or at any rate was of honorable family. Perhapsher appearance brought the idea to his mind involuntarilyshe might be of the family of a patrician ædile whose office was connected with the worship of Ceres, and she was on her way to the temple of the goddess on some errand.
Yet it was contrary to the young archaeologists feeling to put her in the frame of great, noisy, cosmopolitan Rome. To his mind, her calm, quiet manner did not belong in this complex machine where no one heeded another, but she belonged rather in a smaller place where every one knew her, and, stopping to glance after her, said to a companion, That is Gradivaher real name Norbert could not supplythe daughter of , she walks more beautifully than any other girl in our city.
As if he had heard it thus with his own ears, the idea had become firmly rooted in his mind, where another supposition had developed almost into a conviction. On his Italian journey, he had spent several weeks in Pompeii studying the ruins; and in Germany, the idea had suddenly come to him one day that the girl depicted by the relief was walking there, somewhere, on the peculiar stepping-stones which have been excavated; these had made a dry crossing possible in rainy weather, but had afforded passage for chariot-wheels. Thus he saw her putting one foot across the interstice while the other was about to follow, and as he contemplated the girl, her immediate and more remote environment rose before his imagination like an actuality. It created for him, with the aid of his knowledge of antiquity, the vista of a long street, among the houses of which were many temples and porticoes. Different kinds of business and trades, stalls, work-shops, taverns came into view; bakers had their breads on display; earthenware jugs, set into marble counters, offered everything requisite for household and kitchen; at the street corner sat a woman offering vegetables and fruit for sale from baskets; from a half dozen large walnuts she had removed half of the shell to show the meat, fresh and sound, as a temptation for purchasers. Wherever the eye turned, it fell upon lively colors, gaily painted wall surfaces, pillars with red and yellow capitals; everything reflected the glitter and glare of the dazzling noonday sun. Farther off on a high base rose a gleaming, white statue, above which, in the distance, half veiled by the tremulous vibrations of the hot air, loomed Mount Vesuvius not yet in its present cone shape and brown aridity, but covered to its furrowed, rocky peak with glistening verdure. In the street only a few people moved about, seeking shade wherever possible, for the scorching heat of the summer noon hour paralyzed the usually bustling activities. There Gradiva walked over the stepping-stones and scared away from them a shimmering, golden-green lizard.
Thus the picture stood vividly before Norbert Hanolds eyes, but from daily contemplation of her head, another new conjecture had gradually arisen. The cut of her features seemed to him, more and more, not Roman or Latin, but Greek, so that her Hellenic ancestry gradually became for him a certainty. The ancient settlement of all southern Italy by Greeks offered sufficient ground for that, and more ideas pleasantly associated with the settlers developed. Then the young domina had perhaps spoken Greek in her parental home, and had grown up fostered by Greek culture. Upon closer consideration he found this also confirmed by the expression of the face, for quite decidedly wisdom and a delicate spirituality lay hidden beneath her modesty.
These conjectures or discoveries could, however, establish no real archaeological interest in the little relief and Norbert was well aware that something else, which no doubt might be under the head of science, made him return to frequent contemplation of the likeness. For him it was a question of critical judgment as to whether the artist had reproduced Gradivas manner of walking from life. About that he could not become absolutely certain, and his rich collection of copies of antique plastic works did not help him in this matter. The nearly vertical position of the right foot seemed exaggerated; in all experiments which he himself made, the movement left his rising foot always in a much less upright position; mathematically formulated, his stood, during the brief moment of lingering, at an angle of only forty-five degrees from the ground, and this seemed to him natural for the mechanics of walking, because it served the purpose best. Once he used the presence of a young anatomist friend as an opportunity for raising the question, but the latter was not able to deliver a definite decision, as he had made no observations in this connection. He confirmed the experience of his friend, as agreeing with his own, but could not say whether a womans manner of walking was different from that of a man, and the question remained unanswered.
In spite of this, the discussion had not been without profit, for it suggested something that had not formerly occurred to him; namely, observation from life for the purpose of enlightenment on the matter. That forced him, to be sure, to a mode of action utterly foreign to him; women had formerly been for him only a conception in marble or bronze and he had never given his feminine contemporaries the least consideration; but his desire for knowledge transported him into a scientific passion in which he surrendered himself to the peculiar investigation which he recognized as necessary. This was hindered by many difficulties in the human throng of the large city, and results of the research were to be hoped for only in the less frequented streets. Yet, even there, long skirts generally made the mode of walking undiscernible, for almost no one but housemaids wore short skirts and they, with the exception of a few, because of their heavy shoes could not well be considered in solving the question. In spite of this he steadfastly continued his survey in dry, as well as in wet weather; he perceived that the latter promised the quickest results, for it caused the ladies to raise their skirts. To many ladies, his searching glances directed at their feet must have inevitably been quite noticeable; sometimes a displeased expression of the lady observed showed that she considered his demeanor a mark of boldness or ill-breeding; sometimes, as he was a young man of very captivating appearance, the opposite, a bit of encouragement, was expressed by a pair of eyes. Yet one was as incomprehensible to him as the other. Gradually his perseverance resulted in the collection of a considerable number of observations, which brought to his attention many differences. Some walked slowly, some fast, some ponderously, some buoyantly. Many let their soles merely glide over the ground; not many raised them more obliquely to a smarter position. Among all, however, not a single one presented to view Gradivas manner of walking. That filled him with satisfaction that he had not been mistaken in his archaeological judgment of the relief. On the other hand, however, his observations caused him annoyance, for he found the vertical position of the lingering foot beautiful, and regretted that it had been created by the imagination or arbitrary act of the sculptor and did not correspond to reality.
Soon after his pedestrian investigations had yielded him this knowledge, he had, one night, a dream which caused him great anguish of mind. In it he was in old Pompeii, and on the twenty-fourth of August of the year 79, which witnessed the eruption of Vesuvius. The heavens held the doomed city wrapped in a black mantle of smoke; only here and there the flaring masses of flame from the crater made distinguishable, through a rift, something steeped in blood-red light; all the inhabitants, either individually or in confused crowd, stunned out of their senses by the unusual horror, sought safety in flight; the pebbles and the rain of ashes fell down on Norbert also, but, after the strange manner of dreams, they did not hurt him, and in the same way, he smelled the deadly sulphur fumes of the air without having his breathing impeded by them. As he stood thus at the edge of the Forum near the Jupiter temple, he suddenly saw Gradiva a short distance in front of him. Until then no thought of her presence there had moved him, but now suddenly it seemed natural to him, as she was, of course, a Pompeiian girl, that she was living in her native city and, without his having any suspicion of it, was his contemporary. He recognized her at first glance; the stone model of her was splendidly striking in every detail, even to her gait; involuntarily he designated this as lente festinans. So with buoyant composure and the calm unmindfulness of her surroundings peculiar to her, she walked across the flagstones of the Forum to the Temple of Apollo. She seemed not to notice the impending fate of the city, but to be given up to her thoughts; on that account he also forgot the frightful occurrence, for at least a few moments, and because of a feeling that the living reality would quickly disappear from him again, he tried to impress it accurately on his mind. Then, however, he became suddenly aware that if she did not quickly save herself, she must perish in the general destruction, and violent fear forced from him a cry of warning. She heard it, too, for her head turned toward him so that her face now appeared for a moment in full view, yet with an utterly uncomprehending expression; and, without paying any more attention to him, she continued in the same direction as before. At the same time, her face became paler as if it were changing to white marble; she stepped up to the portico of the Temple, and then, between the pillars, she sat down on a step and slowly laid her head upon it. Now the pebbles were falling in such masses that they condensed into a completely opaque curtain; hastening quickly after her, however, he found his way to the place where she had disappeared from his view, and there she lay, protected by the projecting roof, stretched out on the broad step, as if for sleep, but no longer breathing, apparently stifled by the sulphur fumes. From Vesuvius the red glow flared over her countenance, which, with closed eyes, was exactly like that of a beautiful statue. No fear nor distortion was apparent, but a strange equanimity, calmly submitting to the inevitable, was manifest in her features. Yet they quickly became more indistinct as the wind drove to the place the rain of ashes, which spread over them, first like a gray gauze veil, then extinguished the last glimpse of her face, and soon, like a Northern winter snowfall, buried the whole figure under a smooth cover. Outside, the pillars of the Temple of Apollo rose, now, however, only half of them, for the gray fall of ashes heaped itself likewise against them.
When Norbert Hanold awoke, he still heard the confused cries of the Pompeiians who were seeking safety, and the dully resounding boom of the surf of the turbulent sea. Then he came to his senses; the sun cast a golden gleam of light across his bed; it was an April morning and outside sounded the various noises of the city, cries of venders, and the rumbling of vehicles. Yet the dream picture still stood most distinctly in every detail before his open eyes, and some time was necessary before he could get rid of a feeling that he had really been present at the destruction on the bay of Naples, that night nearly two thousand years ago. While he was dressing, he first became gradually free from it, yet he did not succeed, even by the use of critical thought, in breaking away from the idea that Gradiva had lived in Pompeii and had been buried there in 79. Rather, the former conjecture had now become to him an established certainty and now the second also was added. With woful feeling he now viewed in his living-room the old relief which had assumed new significance for him. It was, in a way, a tombstone by which the artist had preserved for posterity the likeness of the girl who had so early departed this life. Yet if one looked at her with enlightened understanding, the expression of her whole being left no doubt that, on that fateful night, she had actually lain down to die with just such calm as the dream had showed. An old proverb says that the darlings of the gods are taken from the earth in the full vigor of youth.
Without having yet put on a collar, in morning array, with slippers on his feet, Norbert leaned on the open window and gazed out. The spring, which had finally arrived in the north also, was without, but announced itself in the great quarry of the city only by the blue sky and the soft air, yet a foreboding of it reached the senses, and awoke in remote, sunny places a desire for leaf-green, fragrance and bird song; a breath of it came as far as this place; the market women on the street had their baskets adorned with a few, bright wild flowers, and at an open window, a canary in a cage warbled his song. Norbert felt sorry for the poor fellow for, beneath the clear tone, in spite of the joyful note, he heard the longing for freedom and the open.
Yet the thoughts of the young archaeologist dallied but briefly there, for something else had crowded into them. Not until then had he become aware that in the dream he had not noticed exactly whether the living Gradiva had really walked as the piece of sculpture represented her, and as the women of to-day, at any rate, did not walk. That was remarkable because it was the basis of his scientific interest in the relief; on the other hand, it could be explained by his excitement over the danger to her life. He tried, in vain, however, to recall her gait.
Then suddenly something like a thrill passed through him; in the first moment he could not say whence. But then he realized; down in the street, with her back toward him, a female, from figure and dress undoubtedly a young lady, was walking along with easy, elastic step. Her dress, which reached only to her ankles, she held lifted a little in her left hand, and he saw that in walking the sole of her slender foot, as it followed, rose for a moment vertically on the tips of the toes. It appeared so, but the distance and the fact that he was looking down did not admit of certainty.
Quickly Norbert Hanold was in the street without yet knowing exactly how he had come there. He had, like a boy sliding down a railing, flown like lightning down the steps, and was running down among the carriages, carts and people. The latter directed looks of wonder at him, and from several lips came laughing, half mocking exclamations. He was unaware that these referred to him; his glance was seeking the young lady and he thought that he distinguished her dress a few dozen steps ahead of him, but only the upper part; of the lower half, and of her feet, he could perceive nothing, for they were concealed by the crowd thronging on the sidewalk.
Now an old, comfortable, vegetable woman stretched her hand toward his sleeve, stopped him and said half grinning, Say, my dear, you probably drank a little too much last night and are you looking for your bed here in the street? You would do better to go home and look at yourself in the mirror.
A burst of laughter from those nearby proved it true that he had shown himself in garb not suited to public appearance, and brought him now to realization that he had heedlessly run from his room. That surprised him because he insisted upon conventionality of attire and, forsaking his project, he quickly returned home, apparently however, with his mind still somewhat confused by the dream and dazed by illusion, for he had perceived that, at the laughter and exclamation, the young lady had turned her head a moment and he thought he had seen not the face of a stranger, but that of Gradiva looking down upon him.
Because of considerable property, Doctor Norbert Hanold was in the pleasant position of being unhampered master of his own acts and wishes and, upon the appearance of any inclination, of not depending for expert counsel about it on any higher court than his own decision. In this way he differed most favorably from the canary, who could only warble out, without success, his inborn impulse to get out of the cage into the sunny open. Otherwise, however, the young archaeologist resembled the latter in many respects. He had not come into the world and grown up in natural freedom, but already at birth had been hedged in by the grating with which family tradition, by education and predestination, had surrounded him. From his early childhood no doubt had existed in his parents house that he, as the only son of a university professor and antiquarian, was called upon to preserve, if possible to exalt, by that very activity the glory of his fathers name; so this business continuity had always seemed to him the natural task of his future. He had clung loyally to it even after the early deaths of his parents had left him absolutely alone; in connection with his brilliantly passed examination in philology, he had taken the prescribed student trip to Italy and had seen in the original a number of old works of art whose imitations, only, had formerly been accessible to him. Nothing more instructive for him than the collections of Florence, Rome, Naples could be offered anywhere; he could furnish evidence that the period of his stay there had been used excellently for the enrichment of his knowledge, and he had returned home fully satisfied to devote himself with the new acquisitions to his science. That besides these objects from the distant past, the present still existed round about him, he felt only in the most shadowy way; for his feelings marble and bronze were not dead, but rather the only really vital thing which expressed the purpose and value of human life; and so he sat in the midst of his walls, books and pictures, with no need of any other intercourse, but whenever possible avoiding the latter as an empty squandering of time and only very reluctantly submitting occasionally to an inevitable party, attendance at which was required by the connections handed down from his parents. Yet it was known that at such gatherings he was present without eyes or ears for his surroundings, and as soon as it was any way permissible, he always took his leave, under some pretext, at the end of the lunch or dinner, and on the street he greeted none of those whom he had sat with at the table. That served, especially with young ladies, to put him in a rather unfavorable light; for upon meeting even a girl with whom he had, by way of exception, spoken a few words, he looked at her without a greeting as at a quite unknown person whom he had never seen. Although perhaps archaeology, in itself, might be a rather curious science and although its alloy had effected a remarkable amalgamation with Norbert Hanolds nature, it could not exercise much attraction for others and afforded even him little enjoyment in life according to the usual views of youth. Yet with a perhaps kindly intent Nature had added to his blood, without his knowing of the possession, a kind of corrective of a thoroughly unscientific sort, an unusually lively imagination which was present not only in dreams, but often in his waking hours, and essentially made his mind not preponderantly adapted to strict research method devoid of interest. From this endowment, however, originated another similarity between him and the canary. The latter was born in captivity, had never known anything else than the cage which confined him in narrow quarters, but he had an inner feeling that something was lacking to him, and sounded from his throat his desire for the unknown. Thus Norbert Hanold understood it, pitied him for it, returned to his room, leaned again from the window and was thereupon moved by a feeling that he, too, lacked a nameless something. Meditation on it, therefore, could be of no use. The indefinite stir of emotion came from the mild, spring air, the sunbeams and the broad expanse with its fragrant breath, and formed a comparison for him; he was likewise sitting in a cage behind a grating. Yet this idea was immediately followed by the palliating one that his position was more advantageous than that of the canary for he had in his possession wings which were hindered by nothing from flying out into the open at his pleasure.
But that was an idea which developed more upon reflection. Norbert gave himself up for a time to this occupation, yet it was not long before the project of a spring journey assumed definite shape. This he carried out that very day, packed a light valise, and before he went south by the night express, cast at nightfall another regretful departing glance on Gradiva, who, steeped in the last rays of the sun, seemed to step out with more buoyancy than ever over the invisible stepping-stones beneath her feet. Even if the impulse for travel had originated in a nameless feeling, further reflection had, however, granted, as a matter of course, that it must serve a scientific purpose. It had occurred to him that he had neglected to inform himself with accuracy about some important archaeological questions in connection with some statues in Rome and, without stopping on the way, he made the journey of a day and a half thither.
Not very many personally experience the beauty of going from Germany to Italy in the spring when one is young, wealthy and independent, for even those endowed with the three latter requirements are not always accessible to such a feeling for beauty, especially if they (and alas they form the majority) are in couples on the days or weeks after a wedding, for such allow nothing to pass without an extraordinary delight, which is expressed in numerous superlatives; and finally they bring back home, as profit, only what they would have discovered, felt or enjoyed exactly as much by staying there. In the spring such dualists usually swarm over the Alpine passes in exactly opposite direction to the birds of passage. During the whole journey they billed and cooed around Norbert as if they were in a rolling dove-cot, and for the first time in his life he was compelled to observe his fellow beings more closely with eye and ear. Although, from their speech, they were all German country people, his racial identity with them awoke in him no feeling of pride, but the rather opposite one, that he had done reasonably well to bother as little as possible with the homo sapiens of Linnaean classification, especially in connection with the feminine half of this species; for the first time he saw also, in his immediate vicinity, people brought together by the mating impulse without his being able to understand what had been the mutual cause. It remained incomprehensible to him why the women had chosen these men, and still more perplexing why the choice of the men had fallen upon these women. Every time he raised his eyes, his glance had to fall on the face of some one of them and it found none which charmed the eye by outer attraction or possessed indication of intellect or good nature. To be sure, he lacked a standard for measuring, for of course one could not compare the women of to-day, with the sublime beauty of the old works of art, yet he had a dark suspicion that he was not to blame for this unkind view, but that in all expressions there was something lacking which ordinary life was in duty bound to offer. So he reflected for many hours on the strange impulses of human beings, and came to the conclusion that of all their follies, marriage, at any rate, took the prize as the greatest and most incomprehensible one, and the senseless wedding trips to Italy somehow capped the climax of this buffoonery.
Again, however, he was reminded of the canary that he had left behind in captivity, for he also sat here in a cage, cooped in by the faces of young bridal couples which were as rapturous as vapid, past which his glance could only occasionally stray through the window. Therefore it can be easily explained that the things passing outside before his eyes made other impressions on him than when he had seen them some years before. The olive foliage had more of a silver sheen; the solitary, towering cypresses and pines here and there were delineated with more beautiful and more distinctive outlines; the places situated on the mountain heights seemed to him more charming, as if each one, in a manner, were an individual with different expression; and Trasimene Lake seemed to him of a soft blue such as he had never noticed in any surface of water. He had a feeling that a Nature unknown to him was surrounding the railway tracks, as if he must have passed through these places before in continual twilight, or during a gray rainfall, and was now seeing them for the first time in their golden abundance of color. A few times he surprised himself in a desire, formerly unknown to him, to alight and seek afoot the way to this or that place because it looked to him as if it might be concealing something peculiar or mysterious. Yet he did not allow himself to be misled by such unreasonable impulses, but the diretissimo took him directly to Rome where, already, before the entrance into the station, the ancient world with the ruins of the temple of Minerva Medica received him. When he had finally freed himself from his cage filled with inseparables, he immediately secured accommodations in a hotel well known to him, in order to look about from there, without excessive haste, for a private house satisfactory to him.
Such a one he had not yet found in the course of the next day, but returned to his albergo again in the evening and went to sleep rather exhausted by the unaccustomed Italian air, the strong sun, much wandering about and the noise of the streets. Soon consciousness began to fade, but just as he was about to fall asleep he was again awakened, for his room was connected with the adjoining one by a door concealed only by a wardrobe, and into this came two guests, who had taken possession of it that morning. From the voices which sounded through the thin partition, they were a man and a woman who unmistakably belonged to that class of German spring birds of passage with whom he had yesterday journeyed hither from Florence. Their frame of mind seemed to give decidedly favorable testimony concerning the hotel cuisine and it might be due to the good quality of a Castellin-romani wine that they exchanged ideas and feelings most distinctly and audibly in North German tongue:
With that the conversation ceased, Norbert heard another ill-defined rustling and moving of chairs, then it became quiet and he fell back into a doze which transported him to Pompeii just as Vesuvius again began its eruption. A vivid throng of fleeing people caught him and among them he saw Apollo Belvedere lift up the Capitoline Venus, take her away and place her safely upon some object in a dark shadow; it seemed to be a carriage or cart on which she was to be carried off, for a rattling sound was soon heard from that direction. This mythological occurrence did not amaze the young archaeologist, but it struck him as remarkable that the two talked German, not Greek, to each other for, as they half regained their senses, he heard them say:
But after that the dream picture changed completely. Absolute silence took the place of the confused sound, and instead of smoke and fire-glow, bright, hot sunlight rested on the ruins of the buried city. This likewise changed gradually, became a bed on whose white linen golden beams circled up to his eyes, and Norbert Hanold awoke in the scintillating spring morning of Rome.
Within him, also, however, something had changed; why, he could not surmise, but a strangely oppressive feeling had again taken possession of him, a feeling that he was imprisoned in a cage which this time was called Rome. As he opened the window, there screamed up from the street dozens of venders cries far more shrill to his ear than those in his German home; he had come only from one noisy quarry to another, and a strangely uncanny horror of antique collections, of meeting there Apollo Belvedere or the Capitoline Venus, frightened him away. Thus, after brief consideration, he refrained from his intention of looking for a dwelling, hastily packed his valise again and went farther south by train. To escape the inseparables, he did this in a third class coach, expecting at the same time to find there an interesting and scientifically useful company of Italian folk-types, the former models of antique works of art. Yet he found nothing but the usual dirt, Monopol cigars which smelled horribly, little warped fellows beating about with arms and legs, and members of the female sex, in contrast to whom his coupled country-women seemed to his memory almost like Olympian goddesses.
Two days later Norbert Hanold occupied a rather questionable space called a room in Hotel Diomed beside the eucalyptus-guarded ingresso to the excavations of Pompeii. He had intended to stay in Naples for some time to study again more closely the sculptures and wall-paintings in the Museo Nazionale, but he had had an experience there similar to that in Rome. In the room for the collection of Pompeiian household furniture he found himself wrapped in a cloud of feminine, ultra-fashionable travel-costumes, which had doubtless all quickly replaced the virgin radiance of satin, silk or lace bridal finery; each one clung to the arm of a young or old companion, likewise faultlessly attired, according to mens fashion standards; and Norberts newly gained insight into a field of knowledge formerly unknown to him had advanced so far as to permit him to recognize them at first glance; every man was Augustus, every girl was Gretchen. Only this came to light here by means of other forms of conversation tempered, moderated and modified by the ear of publicity.
No, that will hardly pay; there are only old stones and rubbish there; whatever was of value, Baedeker says, was brought here. I fear the sun there would be too hot for your delicate complexion and I could never forgive myself that.
No, my imagination fortunately does not reach that far, but a freckle on your little nose would make me unhappy. I think, if it is agreeable to you, well go to Capri to-morrow, my dear. There everything is said to be very comfortable and in the wonderful light of the Blue Grotto I shall first realize completely what a great prize I have drawn in the lottery of happiness.
Augustus and Gretchen over again, somewhat toned down and tempered for eye and ear. It seemed to Norbert Hanold that he had had thin honey poured upon him from all sides and that he had to dispose of it swallow by swallow. A sick feeling came over him and he ran out of the Museo Nazionale to the nearest osteria to drink a glass of vermuth. Again and again the thought intruded itself upon his mind:Why did these hundred fold dualities fill the museums of Florence, Rome, Naples, instead of devoting themselves to their plural occupations in their native Germany? Yet from a number of chats and tender talks, it seemed to him that the majority of these bird couples did not intend to nest in the rubbish of Pompeii, but considered a side trip to Capri much more profitable, and thence originated his sudden impulse to do what they did not do. There was at any rate offered to him a chance to be freed from the main flock of this migration and to find what he was vainly seeking here in Italy. That was also a duality, not a wedding duality, but two members of the same family without cooing bills, silence and science, two calm sisters with whom only one could count upon satisfactory shelter. His desire for them contained something formerly unknown to him; if it had not been a contradiction in itself, he could have applied to this impulse the epithet passionateand an hour later he was already sitting in a carrozzella which bore him through the interminable Portici and Resina. The journey was like one through a street splendidly adorned for an old Roman victor; to the right and left almost every house spread out to dry in the sun, like yellow tapestry hangings, a superabundant wealth of pasta di Napoli, the greatest dainty of the country, thick or thin macaroni, vermicelli, spaghetti, canelloni and fidelini, to which smoke of fats from cook-shops, dust-clouds, flies and fleas, the fish scales flying about in the air, chimney smoke and other day and night influences lent the familiar delicacy of its taste. Then the cone of Vesuvius looked down close by across brown lava fields; at the right extended the gulf of shimmering blue, as if composed of liquid malachite and lapis lazuli. The little nutshell on wheels flew, as if whirled forth by a mad storm and as if every moment must be its last, over the dreadful pavement of Torre del Greco, rattled through Torre dellAnnunziata, reached the Dioscuri, Hotel Suisse and Hotel Diomed, which measured their power of attraction in a ceaseless, silent, but ferocious struggle, and stopped before the latter whose classic name, again, as on his first visit, had determined the choice of the young archaeologist. With apparently, at least, the greatest composure, however, the modern Swiss competitor viewed this event before its very door. It was calm because no different water from what it used was boiled in the pots of its classic neighbor; and the antique splendors temptingly displayed for sale over there had not come to light again after two thousand years under the ashes, any more than the ones which it had.
Thus Norbert Hanold, contrary to all expectations and intentions, had been transported in a few days from northern Germany to Pompeii, found the Diomed not too much filled with human guests, but on the other hand populously inhabited by the musca domestica communis, the common house-fly. He had never been subject to violent emotions; yet a hatred of these two-winged creatures burned within him; he considered them the basest evil invention of Nature, on their account much preferred the winter to the summer as the only time suited to human life, and recognized in them invincible proof against the existence of a rational world-system. Now they received him here several months earlier than he would have fallen to their infamy in Germany, rushed immediately about him in dozens, as upon a patiently awaited victim, whizzed before his eyes, buzzed in his ears, tangled themselves in his hair, tickled his nose, forehead and hands. Therein many reminded him of honeymoon couples, probably were also saying to each other in their language, My only Augustus and My sweet Gretchen; in the mind of the tormented man rose a longing for a scacciamosche, a splendidly made fly-flapper like one unearthed from a burial vault, which he had seen in the Etruscan museum in Bologna. Thus, in antiquity, this worthless creature had likewise been the scourge of humanity, more vicious and more inevitable than scorpions, venomous snakes, tigers and sharks, which were bent upon only physical injury, rending or devouring the ones attacked; against the former one could guard himself by thoughtful conduct. From the common house-fly, however, there was no protection, and it paralyzed, disturbed and finally shattered the psychic life of human beings, their capacity for thinking and working, every lofty flight of imagination and every beautiful feeling. Hunger or thirst for blood did not impel them, but solely the diabolical desire to torture; it was the Ding an sich in which absolute evil had found its incarnation. The Etruscan scacciamosche, a wooden handle with a bunch of fine leather strips fastened to it, proved the following: they had destroyed the most exalted poetic thoughts in the mind of Aeschylus; they had caused the chisel of Phidias to make an irremediable slip, had run over the brow of Zeus, the breast of Aphrodite, and from head to foot of all Olympian gods and goddesses; and Norbert felt in his soul that the service of a human being was to be estimated, above all, according to the number of flies which he had killed, pierced, burned up or exterminated in hecatombs during his life, as avenger of his whole race from remotest antiquity.
For the achievement of such fame, he lacked here the necessary weapon, and like the greatest battle hero of antiquity, who had, however, been alone and unable to do otherwise, he left the field, or rather his room, in view of the hundredfold overwhelming number of the common foe. Outside it dawned upon him that he had thereby done in a small way what he would have to repeat on a larger scale on the morrow. Pompeii, too, apparently offered no peacefully gratifying abode for his needs. To this idea was added, at least dimly, another, that his dissatisfaction was certainly caused not by his surroundings alone, but to a degree found its origin in him. To be sure, flies had always been very repulsive to him, but they had never before transported him into such raging fury as this. On account of the journey his nerves were undeniably in an excited and irritable condition, for which indoor air and overwork at home during the winter had probably begun to pave the way. He felt that he was out of sorts because he lacked something without being able to explain what, and this ill-humor he took everywhere with him; of course flies and bridal couples swarming en masse were not calculated to make life agreeable anywhere. Yet if he did not wish to wrap himself in a thick cloud of self-righteousness, it could not remain concealed from him that he was traveling around Italy just as aimless, senseless, blind and deaf as they, only with considerably less capacity for enjoyment. For his traveling companion, science, had, most decidedly, much of an old Trappist about her, did not open her mouth when she was not spoken to, and it seemed to him that he was almost forgetting in what language he had communed with her.
It was now too late in the day to go into Pompeii through the ingresso. Norbert remembered a circuit he had once made on the old city-wall, and attempted to mount the latter by means of all sorts of bushes and wild growth. Thus he wandered along for some distance a little above the city of graves, which lay on his right, motionless and quiet. It looked like a dead rubbish field already almost covered with shadow, for the evening sun stood in the west not far from the edge of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Round about on the other hand it still bathed all the hilltops and fields with an enchanting brilliancy of life, gilded the smoke-cone rising above the Vesuvius crater and clad the peaks and pinnacles of Monte Sant Angelo in purple. High and solitary rose Monte Epomeo from the sparkling, blue sea glittering with golden light, from which Cape Misenum reared itself with dark outline, like a mysterious, titanic structure. Wherever the gaze rested, a wonderful picture was spread combining charm and sublimity, remote past and joyous present. Norbert Hanold had expected to find here what he longed for vaguely. Yet he was not in the mood for it, although no bridal couples and flies molested him on the deserted wall; even nature was unable to offer him what he lacked in his surroundings and within himself. With a calmness bordering closely on indifference, he let his eyes pass over the all-pervading beauty, and did not regret in the least that it was growing pale and fading away in the sunset, but returned to the Diomed, as he had come, dissatisfied.
But as he had now, although with ill-success, been conveyed to this place through his indiscretion, he reached the decision overnight, to get from the folly he had committed at least one day of scientific profit and went to Pompeii on the regular road as soon as the ingresso was opened in the morning. In little groups commanded by official guides, armed with red Baedekers or their foreign cousins, longing for secret excavations of their own, there wandered before and behind him the population of the two hotels. The still fresh, morning air was filled almost exclusively by English or Anglo-American chatter; the German couples were making each other mutually happy with German sweets and inspiration up there on Capri behind Monte Sant Angelo at the breakfast table of the Pagano. Norbert remembered how to free himself soon, by well chosen words, combined with a good mancia, from the burden of a guida and was able to pursue his purposes alone and unhindered. It afforded him some satisfaction to know that he possessed a faultless memory; wherever his glance rested, everything lay and stood exactly as he remembered it, as if only yesterday he had imprinted it in his mind by means of expert observation. This continually repeated experience brought, however, the added feeling that his presence there seemed really very unnecessary, and a decided indifference took possession of his eyes and his intellect more and more, as during the evening on the wall. Although, when he looked up, the pine-shaped smoke-cone of Vesuvius generally stood before him against the blue sky, yet, remarkably, it did not once appear in his memory that he had dreamed some time ago that he had been present at the destruction of Pompeii by the volcanic eruption of 79. Wandering around for hours made him tired and half-sleepy, of course, yet he felt not the least suggestion of anything dreamlike, but there lay about him only a confusion of fragments of ancient gate arches, pillars and walls significant to the highest degree for archaeology, but, viewed without the esoteric aid of this science, really not much else than a big pile of rubbish, neatly arranged, to be sure, but extremely devoid of interest; and although science and dreams were wont formerly to stand on footings exactly opposed, they had apparently here to-day come to an agreement to withdraw their aid from Norbert Hanold and deliver him over absolutely to the aimlessness of his walking and standing around.
So he had wandered in all directions from the Forum to the Amphitheater, from the Porta di Stabia to the Porta del Vesuvio through the Street of Tombs as well as through countless others, and the sun had likewise, in the meanwhile, made its accustomed morning journey to the position where it usually changes to the more comfortable descent toward the sea. Thereby, to the great satisfaction of their misunderstood, hoarsely eloquent guides, it gave the English and American men and women, forced to go there by a travelers sense of duty, a signal to become mindful of the superior comfort of sitting at the lunch-tables of the twin hotels; besides they had seen with their own eyes everything that could be required for conversation on the other side of the ocean and channel; so the separate groups, satiated by the past, started on the return, ebbed in common movement down through the Via Marina, in order not to lose meals at the, to be sure somewhat euphemistically Lucullan, tables of the present, in the house of Diomed or of Mr. Swiss. In consideration of all the outer and inner circumstances, this was doubtless also the wisest thing that they could do, for the noon sun of May was decidedly well disposed toward the lizards, butterflies and other winged inhabitants or visitors of the extensive mass of ruins, but for the northern complexion of a Madame or Miss its perpendicular obtrusiveness was unquestionably beginning to become less kindly, and, supposedly in some causal connection with that, the charmings had already in the last hour considerably diminished, the shockings had increased in the same proportion, and the masculine ahs proceeding from rows of teeth even more widely distended than before had begun a noticeable transition to yawning.
It was remarkable, however, that simultaneously with their vanishing, what had formerly been the city of Pompeii assumed an entirely changed appearance, but not a living one; it now appeared rather to be becoming completely petrified in dead immobility. Yet out of it stirred a feeling that death was beginning to talk, although not in a manner intelligible to human ears. To be sure, here and there was a sound as if a whisper were proceeding from the stone which, however, only the softly murmuring south wind, Atabulus, awoke, he who, two thousand years ago, had buzzed in this fashion about the temples, halls and houses, and was now carrying on his playful game with the green, shimmering stalks on the low ruins. From the coast of Africa he often rushed across casting forth wild, full blasts: he was not doing that to-day, but was gently fanning again the old acquaintances which had come to light again. He could not, however, refrain from his natural tendency to devastate, and blew with hot breath, even though lightly, on everything that he encountered on the way.
In this, the sun, his eternally youthful mother, helped him. She strengthened his fiery breath, and accomplished, besides, what he could not, steeped everything with trembling, glittering, dazzling splendor. As with a golden eraser, she effaced from the edges of the houses on the semitae and crepidine viarum, as the sidewalks were once called, every slight shadow, cast into all the vestibules, inner courts, peristyles and balconies her luminous radiance, or desultory rays where a shelter blocked her direct approach. Hardly anywhere was there a nook which successfully protected itself against the ocean of light and veiled itself in a dusky, silver web; every street lay between the old walls like long, rippling, white strips of linen spread out to bleach; and without exception all were equally motionless and mute, for not only had the last of the rasping and nasal tones of the English and American messengers disappeared, but the former slight evidences of lizard- and butterfly-life seemed also to have left the silent city of ruins. They had not really done so, but the gaze perceived no more movement from them.
As had been the custom of their ancestors out on the mountain slopes and cliff walls, for thousands of years, when the great Pan laid himself to sleep, here, too, in order not to disturb him, they had stretched themselves out motionless or, folding their wings, had squatted here and there; and it seemed as if, in this place, they felt even more strongly the command of the hot, holy, noonday quiet in whose ghostly hour life must be silent and suppressed, because during it the dead awake and begin to talk in toneless spirit-language.
This changed aspect which the things round about had assumed really thrust itself less upon the vision than it aroused the emotions, or, more correctly, an unnamed sixth sense; this latter, however, was stimulated so strongly and persistently that a person endowed with it could not throw off the effect produced upon him. To be sure, of those estimable boarders already busy with their soup spoons at the two alberghi near the ingresso, hardly a man or woman would have been counted among those thus invested, but Nature had once bestowed this great attention upon Norbert Hanold and he had to submit to its effects, not at all because he had an understanding with it, however, for he wished nothing at all and desired nothing more than that he might be sitting quietly in his study with an instructive book in his hand, instead of having undertaken this aimless spring journey. Yet as he had turned back from the Street of Tombs through the Hercules gate into the center of the city and at Casa di Sallustio had turned to the left, quite without purpose or thought, into the narrow vicolo, suddenly that sixth sense was awakened in him; but this last expression was not really fitting, rather he was transported by it into a strangely dreamy condition, about half way between a waking state and loss of senses. As if guarding a secret, everywhere round about him, suffused in light, lay deathly silence, so breathless that even his own lungs hardly dared to take in air. He stood at the intersection of two streets where the Vicolo Mercurio crossed the broader Strada di Mercurio, which stretched out to right and left; in answer to the god of commerce, business and trades had formerly had their abodes here; the street corners spoke silently of it; many shops with broken counters, inlaid with marble, opened out upon them; here the arrangement indicated a bakery, there, a number of large, convex, earthenware jugs, an oil or flour business. Opposite more slender, two-handled jars set into the counters showed that the space behind them had been a bar-room; surely in the evening, slaves and maids of the neighborhood might have thronged here to get wine for their masters in their own jugs; one could see that the now illegible inscription inlaid with mosaic on the sidewalk in front of the shop was worn by many feet; probably it had held out to passers-by a recommendation of the excellent wine. On the outer-wall, at about half the height of a man, was visible a graffito probably scratched into the plastering, with his finger-nail or an iron nail, by a schoolboy, perhaps derisively explaining the praise, in this way, that the owners wine owed its peerlessness to a generous addition of water. For from the scratch there seemed raised before Norbert Hanolds eyes the word caupo, or was it an illusion. Certainly he could not settle it. He possessed a certain skill in deciphering graffiti which were difficult, and had already accomplished widely recognized work in that field, yet at this time it completely failed him. Not only that, he had a feeling that he did not understand any Latin, and it was absurd of him to wish to read what a Pompeiian school youth had scratched into the wall two thousand years before.
Not only had all his science left him, but it left him without the least desire to regain it; he remembered it as from a great distance, and he felt that it had been an old, dried-up, boresome aunt, dullest and most superfluous creature in the world. What she uttered with puckered lips and sapient mien, and presented as wisdom, was all vain, empty pompousness, and merely gnawed at the dry rind of the fruit of knowledge without revealing anything of its content, the germ of life, or bringing anything to the point of inner, intelligent enjoyment. What it taught was a lifeless, archaeological view and what came from its mouth was a dead, philological language. These helped in no way to a comprehension with soul, mind and heart, as the saying is, but he, who possessed a desire for that, had to stand alone here, the only living person in the hot noonday silence among the remains of the past, in order not to see with physical eyes nor hear with corporeal ears. Then something came forth everywhere without movement and a soundless speech began; then the sun dissolved the tomb-like rigidity of the old stones, a glowing thrill passed through them, the dead awoke, and Pompeii began to live again.
The thoughts in Norbert Hanolds mind were not really blasphemous, but he had an indefinite feeling deserving of that adjective, and with this, standing motionless, he looked before him down the Strada di Mercurio toward the city-wall. The angular lava-blocks of its pavement still lay as faultlessly fitted together as before the devastation, and each one was of a light-gray color, yet such dazzling luster brooded over them that they stretched like a quilted silver-white ribbon passing in faintly glowing void between the silent walls and by the side of column fragments.
With open eyes he gazed along the street, yet it seemed to him as if he were doing it in a dream. A little to the right something suddenly stepped forth from the Casa di Castore e Polluce, and across the lava stepping-stones, which led from the house to the other side of the Strada di Mercurio, Gradiva stepped buoyantly.
Quite indubitably it was she; even if the sunbeams did surround her figure as with a thin veil of gold, he perceived her in profile as plainly and as distinctly as on the bas-relief. Her head, whose crown was entwined with a scarf which fell to her neck, inclined forward a little; her left hand held up lightly the extremely voluminous dress and, as it reached only to her ankles, one could perceive clearly that in advancing, the right foot, lingering, if only for a moment, rose on the tips of the toes almost perpendicularly. Here, however, it was not a stone representation, everything in uniform colorlessness; the dress, apparently made of extremely soft, clinging material, was not of cold marble-white, but of a warm tone verging faintly on yellow, and her hair, wavy under the scarf on her brow, and peeping forth at the temples, stood out, with golden-brown radiance, in bold contrast to her alabaster countenance.
As soon as he caught sight of her, Norberts memory was clearly awakened to the fact that he had seen her here once already in a dream, walking thus, the night that she had lain down as if to sleep over there in the Forum on the steps of the Temple of Apollo. With this memory he became conscious, for the first time, of something else; he had, without himself knowing the motive in his heart, come to Italy on that account and had, without stop, continued from Rome and Naples to Pompeii to see if he could here find trace of herand that in a literal sense,for, with her unusual gait, she must have left behind in the ashes a foot-print different from all the others.
Again it was a noonday dream-picture that passed there before him and yet also a reality. For that was apparent from an effect which it produced. On the last stepping-stone on the farther side, there lay stretched out motionless, in the burning sunlight, a big lizard, whose body, as if woven of gold and malachite, glistened brightly to Norberts eyes. Before the approaching foot, however, it darted down suddenly and wriggled away over the white, gleaming lava pavement.
Gradiva crossed the stepping-stones with her calm buoyancy, and now, turning her back, walked along on the opposite sidewalk; her destination seemed to be the house of Adonis. Before it she stopped a moment, too, but passed then, as if after further deliberation, down farther through the Strada di Mercurio. On the left, of the more elegant buildings, there now stood only the Casa di Apollo, named after the numerous representations of Apollo excavated there, and, to the man who was gazing after her, it seemed again that she had also surely chosen the portico of the Temple of Apollo for her death sleep. Probably she was closely associated with the cult of the sun-god and was going there. Soon, however, she stopped again; stepping-stones crossed the street here, too, and she walked back again to the right side. Thus she turned the other side of her face toward him and looked a little different, for her left hand, which held up her gown, was not visible and instead of her curved arm, the right one hung down straight. At a greater distance now, however, the golden waves of sunlight floated around her with a thicker web of veiling, and did not allow him to distinguish where she had stopped, for she disappeared suddenly before the house of Meleager. Norbert Hanold still stood without having moved a limb. With his eyes, and this time with his corporeal ones, he had surveyed, step by step, her vanishing form. Now, at length, he drew a deep breath, for his breast too had remained almost motionless.
He did not know that, nor whether he was awake or dreaming, and tried in vain to collect his thoughts. Then, however, a strange shudder passed down his spine. He saw and heard nothing, yet he felt from the secret inner vibrations that Pompeii had begun to live about him in the noonday hour of spirits and so Gradiva lived again, too, and had gone into the house which she had occupied before the fateful August day of the year 79.
From his former visit, he was acquainted with the Casa di Meleagro, had not yet gone there this time, however, but had merely stopped briefly in the Museo Nazionale of Naples before the wall paintings of Meleager and his Arcadian huntress companion, Atalanta, which had been found in the Strada di Mercurio in that house, and after which the latter had been named. Yet as he now again acquired the ability to move and walked toward it, he began to doubt whether it really bore its name after the slayer of the Caledonian boar. He suddenly recalled a Greek poet, Meleager, who, to be sure, had probably lived about a century before the destruction of Pompeii. A descendant of his, however, might have come here and built the house for himself. That agreed with something else that had awakened in his memory, for he remembered his supposition, or rather a definite conviction, that Gradiva had been of Greek descent. To be sure there mingled with his idea the figure of Atalanta as Ovid had pictured it in his Metamorphoses:
He could not recall the verses word for word, but their content was present in his mind; and from his store of knowledge was added the fact that Cleopatra was the name of the young wife of Oeneus son, Meleager. More probably this had nothing to do with him, but with the Greek poet, Meleager. Thus, under the glowing sun of the Campagna, there was a mythological-literary-historical-archaeological juggling in his head.
When he had passed the house of Castor and Pollux and that of the Centaur, he stood before the Casa di Meleagro from whose threshold there looked up at him, still discernible, the inlaid greeting Ave. On the wall of the vestibule, Mercury was handing Fortuna a pouch filled with money; that probably indicated, allegorically, the riches and other fortunate circumstances of the former dweller. Behind this opened up the inner court, the center of which was occupied by a marble table supported by three griffins.
Empty and silent, the room lay there, appearing absolutely unfamiliar to the man, as he entered, awaking no memory that he had already been here, yet he then recalled it, for the interior of the house offered a deviation from that of the other excavated buildings of the city. The peristyle adjoined the inner court on the other side of the balcony toward the rearnot in the usual way, but at the left side and on that account was of greater extent and more splendid appearance than any other in Pompeii. It was framed by a colonnade supported by two dozen pillars painted red on the lower, and white on the upper half. These lent solemnity to the great, silent space; here in the center was a spring with a beautifully wrought enclosure, which served as a fish-pool. Apparently the house must have been the dwelling of an estimable man of culture and artistic sense.
Norberts gaze passed around, and he listened. Yet nowhere about did anything stir, nor was the slightest sound audible. Amidst this cold stone there was no longer a breath; if Gradiva had gone into Meleagers house, she had already dissolved again into nothing. At the rear of the peristyle was another room, an oecus, the former dining-room, likewise surrounded on three sides by pillars painted yellow, which shimmered from a distance in the light, as if they were encrusted with gold. Between them, however, shone a red far more dazzling than that from the walls, with which no brush of antiquity, but young Nature of the present had painted the ground. The former artistic pavement lay completely ruined, fallen to decay and weather worn; it was May which exercised here again its most ancient dominion and covered the whole oecus, as it did at the time in many houses of the buried city, with red, flowering, wild poppies, whose seeds the winds had carried thither, and these had sprouted in the ashes. It was a wave of densely crowded blossoms, or so it appeared although, in reality, they stood there motionless for Atabulus found no way down to them, but only hummed away softly above. Yet the sun cast such flaming, radiant vibrations down upon them that it gave an impression of red ripples in a pond undulating hither and thither. Norbert Hanolds eyes had passed unheeding over a similar sight in other houses, but here he was strangely thrilled by it. The dream flower grown at the edge of Lethe filled the space, and Hypnos lay stretched in their midst dispensing sleep, which dulls the senses, with the saps which night has gathered in the red chalices. It seemed to the man who had entered the dining-room through the portico of the peristyle as if he felt his temples touched by the invisible slumber wand of the old vanquisher of gods and men, but not with heavy stupor; only a dreamily sweet loveliness floated about his consciousness. At the same time, however, he still remained in control of his feet and stepped along by the wall of the former dining-room from which gazed old pictures: Paris, awarding the apple; a satyr, carrying in his hand an asp and tormenting a young Bacchante with it.
But there again suddenly, unforeseenonly about five paces away from himin the narrow shadow cast down by a single piece of the upper part of the dining-room portico, which still remained in a state of preservation, sitting on the low steps between two of the yellow pillars was a brightly clad woman who now raised her head. In that way she disclosed to the unnoticed arrival, whose footstep she had apparently just heard, a full view of her face, which produced in him a double feeling, for it appeared to him at the same time unknown and yet also familiar, already seen or imagined; but by his arrested breathing and his heart palpitations, he recognized, unmistakably, to whom it belonged. He had found what he was looking for, what had driven him unconsciously to Pompeii; Gradiva continued her visible existence in the noonday spirit hour and sat here before him, as, in the dream, he had seen her on the steps of the Temple of Apollo. Spread out on her knees lay something white which he was unable to distinguish clearly; it seemed to be a papyrus sheet, and a red poppy-blossom stood out from it in marked contrast.
In her face surprise was expressed; under the lustrous, brown hair and the beautiful, alabaster brow, two rarely bright, starlike eyes looked at him with questioning amazement. It required only a few moments for him to recognize the conformity of her features with those of the profile. They must be thus, viewed from the front, and therefore, at first glance, they had not been really unfamiliar to him. Near to, her white dress, by its slight tendency to yellow, heightened still more the warm color; apparently it consisted of a fine, extremely soft, woolen material, which produced abundant folds, and the scarf around her head was of the same. Below, on the nape of the neck, appeared again the shimmering, brown hair artlessly gathered in a single knot; at her throat, under a dainty chin, a little, gold clasp, held her gown together.
Norbert Hanold dimly perceived that involuntarily he had raised his hand to his soft Panama hat and removed it; and now he said in Greek, Are you Atalanta, the daughter of Jason, or are you a descendant of the family of the poet, Meleager?
Without giving an answer, the lady addressed looked at him silently with a calmly wise expression in her eyes and two thoughts passed through his mind; either her resurrected self could not speak or she was not of Greek descent and was ignorant of the language. He therefore substituted Latin for it and asked: Was your father a distinguished Pompeiian citizen of Latin origin?
To this she was equally silent, only about her delicately curved lips there was a slight quiver as if she were repressing a burst of laughter. Now a feeling of fright came upon him; apparently she was sitting there before him like a silent image, a phantom to whom speech was denied. Consternation at this discovery was stamped fully and distinctly upon his features.
Then, however, her lips could no longer resist the impulse; a real smile played about them and at the same time a voice sounded from between them, If you wish to speak with me, you must do so in German.
That was really remarkable from the mouth of a Pompeiian woman who had died two centuries before, or would have been so for a person hearing it in a different state of mind. Yet every oddity escaped Norbert because of two waves of emotion which had rushed over him, one because Gradiva possessed the power of speech, and the other was one which had been forced from his inmost being by her voice. It sounded as clear as was her glance; not sharp, but reminiscent of the tones of a bell, her voice passed through the sunny silence over the blooming poppy-field, and the young archaeologist suddenly realized that he had already heard it thus in his imagination, and involuntarily he gave audible expression to his feeling, I knew that your voice sounded like that.
To him it was not at all remarkable that she spoke German, and, according to present usage, addressed him formally; as she did it, he understood completely that it could not have happened otherwise and he answered quickly, Nonot talkedbut I called to you when you lay down to sleep and stood near you thenyour face was as calmly beautiful as if it were of marble. May I beg yourest it again on the step in that way.
While he was speaking, something peculiar had occurred. A golden butterfly, faintly tinged with red on the inner edge of its upper wing, fluttered from the poppies toward the pillars, flitted a few times about Gradivas head and then rested on the brown, wavy hair above her brow. At the same time, however, she rose, slender and tall, for she stood up with deliberate haste, curtly and silently directed at Norbert another glance, in which something suggested that she considered him demented; then, thrusting her foot forward, she walked out in her characteristic way along the pillars of the old portico. Only fleetingly visible for a while, she finally seemed to have sunk into the earth.
He stood up, breathless, as if stunned; yet with heavy understanding, he had grasped what had occurred before his eyes. The noonday ghost hour was over and in the form of a butterfly, a winged messenger had come up from the asphodel meadows of Hades to admonish the departed one to return. For him something else was associated with this, although in confused indistinctness. He knew that the beautiful butterfly of Mediterranean countries bore the name Cleopatra, and this had also been the name of Caledonian Meleagers young wife who, in grief over his death, had given herself as sacrifice to those of the lower world.
From his mouth issued a call to the girl who was departing, Are you coming here again to-morrow in the noon hour? Yet she did not turn around, gave no answer, and disappeared after a few moments in the corner of the dining-room behind the pillar. Now a compelling impulse suddenly incited him to hasten after her, but her bright dress was no longer visible anywhere; glowing with the hot suns rays, the Casa di Meleagro lay about him motionless and silent; only Cleopatra hovered on her red, shimmering, golden wings, making slow circles again above the multitude of poppies.
When and how he had returned to the ingresso, Norbert Hanold could not recall; in his memory he retained only the idea that his appetite had peremptorily demanded to be appeased, though very tardily, at the Diomed, and then he had wandered forth aimlessly on the first good street, had arrived at the beach north of Castellamare where he had seated himself on a lava-block, and the sea-wind had blown around his head until the sun had set about half way between Monte Sant Angelo above Sorrento and Monte Epomeo on Ischia. Yet, in spite of this stay of at least several hours by the water, he had obtained from the fresh air there no mental relief, but was returning to the hotel in the same condition in which he had left it. He found the other guests busily occupied with dinner, had a little bottle of Vesuvio wine brought to him in a corner of the room, viewed the faces of those eating, and listened to their conversations. From the faces of all, as well as from their talk, it appeared to him absolutely certain that in the noon hour none of them had either met or spoken to a dead Pompeiian woman who had returned again briefly to life. Of course all this had been a foregone conclusion, as they had all been at lunch at that time; why and wherefore, he himself could not state, yet after a while he went over to the competitor of the Diomed, Hotel Suisse, sat down there also in a corner, and, as he had to order something, likewise before a little bottle of Vesuvio and here he gave himself over to the same kind of investigations with eye and ear. They led to the same results but also to the further conclusion that he now knew by sight all the temporary, living visitors of Pompeii. To be sure, this effected an increase of his knowledge which he could hardly consider an enrichment, but from it he experienced a certain satisfying feeling that, in the two hostelries, no guest, either male or female, was present with whom, by means of sight and hearing, he had not entered into a personal, even if one-sided, relation. Of course, in no way had the absurd supposition entered his mind that he might possibly meet Gradiva in one of the two hotels, but he could have taken his oath that no one was staying in them who possessed, in the remotest way, any trace of resemblance to her. During his observations, he had occasionally poured wine from his little bottle to his glass, and had drunk from time to time; and when, in this manner, the former had gradually become empty, he rose and went back to the Diomed. The heavens were now strewn with countless, flashing, twinkling stars, but not in the traditionally stationary way, for Norbert gathered the impression that Perseus, Cassiopeia and Andromeda with some neighbors, bowing lightly hither and thither, were performing a singing dance, and below, on earth, too, it seemed to him that the dark shadows of the tree-tops and buildings did not stay in the same place. Of course on the ground of this regionunsteady from ancient timesthis could not be exactly surprising, for the subterranean glow lurked everywhere, after an eruption, and let a little of itself rise in the vines and grapes from which was pressed Vesuvio, which was not one of Norbert Hanolds usual evening drinks. He still remembered, however, even if a little of the circular movement of things might be ascribed to the wine, too, that since noon all objects had displayed an inclination to whirl softly about his head, and therefore he found, in the slight increase, nothing new, but only a continuation of the formerly existing conditions. He went up to his room and stood for a little while at the open window, looking over toward the Vesuvius mound, above which now no cone of smoke spread its top, but rather something like the fluctuations of a dark, purple cloak flowed back and forth around it. Then the young archaeologist undressed, without having lighted the light, and sought his couch. Yet, as he stretched himself out upon it, it was not his bed at the Diomed, but a red poppy-field whose blossoms closed over him like a soft cushion heated by the sun. His enemy, the common house-fly, constrained by darkness to lethargic stupidity, sat fiftyfold above his head, on the wall, and only one, moved, even in its sleepiness, by desire to torture, buzzed about his nose. He recognized it, however, not as the absolute evil, the century-old scourge of humanity, for before his eyes it poised like a red-gold Cleopatra.
When, in the morning, the sun, with lively assistance from the flies, awoke him, he could not recall what, besides strange, Ovid-like metamorphoses, had occurred during the night about his bed. Yet doubtless some mystic being, continuously weaving dream-webs, had been sitting beside him, for he felt his head completely overhung and filled with them, so that all ability to think lay inextricably imprisoned in it and only one thing remained in his consciousness; he must again be in Meleagers house at exactly noon. In this connection, however, a fear overcame him, for if the gatekeepers at the ingresso looked at him, they would not let him in. Anyway it was not advisable that he should expose himself to close observation by human eyes. To escape that, there was, for one well informed about Pompeii, a means which was, to be sure, against the rules, but he was not in a condition to grant to legal regulation a determination of his conduct. So he climbed again, as on the evening of his arrival, along the old city-wall, and upon it walked, in a wide semicircle, around the city of ruins to the solitary, unguarded Porta di Nola. Here it was not difficult to get down into the inside and he went, without burdening his conscience very much over the fact that by his autocratic deed he had deprived the administration of a two-lira entrance fee, which he could, of course, let it have later in some other way.
Thus, unseen, he had reached an uninteresting part of the city, never before investigated by any one and still mostly unexcavated; he sat down in a secluded, shady nook and waited, now and then drawing his watch to observe the progress of time. Once his glance fell upon something in the distance gleaming, silvery-white, rising from the ashes, but with his unreliable vision, he was unable to distinguish what it was. Yet involuntarily he was impelled to go up to it and there it stood, a tall, flowering asphodel-plant with white, bell-like blossoms whose seeds the wind had carried thither from outside. It was the flower of the lower world, significant and, as he felt, destined to grow here for his purpose. He broke the slender stem and returned with it to his seat. Hotter and hotter the May sun burned down as on the day before, and finally approached its noonday position; so now he started out through the long Strada di Nola. This lay deathly still and deserted, as did almost all the others; over there to the west all the morning visitors were already crowding again to the Porta Marina and the soup-plates. Only the air, suffused with heat, stirred, and in the dazzling glare the solitary figure of Norbert Hanold with the asphodel branch appeared like that of Hermes, Psyches escort, in modern attire, starting out upon the journey to conduct a departed soul to Hades.
Not consciously, yet following an instinctive impulse, he found his way through the Strada della Fortuna farther along to the Strada di Mercurio and turning to the right arrived at the Casa di Meleagro. Just as lifelessly as yesterday, the vestibule, inner court and peristyle received him, and between the pillars of the latter the poppies of the dining-room flamed across to him. As he entered, however, it was not clear to him whether he had been here yesterday or two thousand years ago to seek from the owner of the house some information of great importance to archaeology; what it was, however, he could not state, and besides, it seemed to him, even though in contradiction to the above, that all the science of antiquity was the most purposeless and indifferent thing in the world. He could not understand how a human being could occupy himself with it, for there was only a single thing to which all thinking and investigation must be directed: what is the nature of the physical manifestation of a being like Gradiva, dead and alive at the same time, although the latter was true only in the noon hour of spiritsor had been the day before, perhaps the one time in a century or a thousand years, for it suddenly seemed certain that his return to-day was in vain. He did not meet the girl he was looking for, because she was not allowed to come again until a time when he too would have been dead for many years, and was buried and forgotten. Of course, as he walked now along by the wall below Paris awarding the apple, he perceived Gradiva before him, just as on yesterday, in the same gown, sitting between the same, two, yellow pillars on the same step. Yet he did not allow himself to be deceived by tricks of imagination, but knew that fancy alone was deceptively depicting before his eyes what he had really seen there the day before. He could not refrain, however, from stopping to indulge in the view of the shadowy apparition created by himself and, without his knowing it, there passed from his lips in a grieved tone the words, Oh that you were still alive!
His voice rang out, but after that breathless silence again reigned among the ruins of the old dining-room. Yet soon another sounded through the vacant stillness, saying, Wont you sit down too? You look exhausted.
Norbert Hanolds heart stood still a moment. His head, however, collected this much reason; a vision could not speak; or was an aural hallucination practicing deception upon him? With fixed gaze, he supported himself against the pillar.
Dizziness rushed upon him; he felt that his feet no longer supported him, but forced him to be seated; and he slid down opposite her on the step, against the pillar. Her bright eyes were directed toward his face, yet with a different look from the one with which she had gazed at him yesterday when she suddenly rose and went away. In that, something ill-humored and repellent had spoken; but it had disappeared, as if she had, in the meanwhile, arrived at a different view-point, and an expression of searching inquisitiveness or curiosity had taken its place. Likewise, she spoke with an easy familiarity. As he remained silent, however, to the last question also, she again resumed, You told me yesterday that you had once called to me when I lay down to sleep and that you had afterwards stood near me; my face was as white as marble. When and where was that? I cannot remember it and I beg you to explain more exactly.
Sothen. Yes, to be sure,that had not occurred to me, but I might have thought that it would be a case like that. When you said it yesterday, I was not expecting it and I was utterly unprepared. Yet that happened, if I recall correctly, two thousand years ago. Were you living then? It seems to me you look younger.
She spoke very seriously, but at the end a faint, extremely sweet smile played about her mouth. He hesitated in embarrassment and answered, stuttering slightly, No, I really dont believe I was alive in the year 79it was perhapsyes, it surely is a psychic condition which is called a dream that transported me into the time of the destruction of Pompeiibut I recognized you again at first glance.
Her astonishment had grown perceptibly. He replied, Yesdont you realize that? A more graceful oneat least among those now livingdoes not exist. Yet I recognized you immediately by everything else too, your figure, face, bearing and drapery, for everything agreed most minutely with the bas-relief of you in Rome.
Now he told her that the sight of it had attracted him so that he had been highly pleased to get a plaster-cast of it in Germany and that for years it had hung in his room. He observed it daily and the idea had come to him that it must represent a young Pompeiian girl who was walking on the stepping-stones of a street in her native city; and the dream had confirmed it. Now he knew also that he had been impelled by it to travel here again to see whether he could find some trace of her; and as he had stood yesterday, noon at the corner of Strada di Mercurio, she, herself, exactly like her image had suddenly walked before him across the stepping-stones, as if she were about to go over into the house of Apollo. Then farther along she had recrossed the street and disappeared before the house of Meleager.
He continued, On that account the Greek poet, Meleager, came to my mind and I thought that you were one of his descendants and were returningin the hour which you are allowedto your ancestral home. When I spoke to you in Greek, however, you did not understand.
Was that Greek? No, I dont understand it or Ive probably forgotten it. Yet as you came again just now, I heard you say something that I could understand. You expressed the wish that some one might still be alive here. Only I did not understand whom you meant by that.
That caused him to reply that, at sight of her, he had believed that it was not really she, but that his imagination was deceptively putting her image before him in the place where he had met her yesterday. At that she smiled and agreed, It seems that you have reason to be on your guard against an excess of imagination, although, when I have been with you, I never supposed so. She stopped, however, and added, What is there peculiar about my way of walking, which you spoke of before?
With that he stopped, for he suddenly remembered with fear that yesterday she had suddenly risen and gone away when he had asked her to lie down to sleep again on that step, as on that of the Temple of Apollo, and, associated darkly with this, there came to him the glance which she had directed upon him in departing. Yet now the calm, friendly expression of her eyes remained and as he spoke no further, she said, It was nice that your wish that some one might still be alive concerned me. If you wish to ask anything of me on that account, I will gladly respond.
Willingly, without answering, she stood up and walked along between the wall and the pillars. It was the very buoyantly reposeful gait, with the sole raised almost perpendicularly, that was so firmly imprinted on his mind, but for the first time he saw that she wore, below the raised gown, not sandals, but light, sand-colored shoes of fine leather. When she came back and sat down again silently, he involuntarily started to talk of the difference in her foot-covering from that of the bas-relief. To that she rejoined, Time, of course, always changes everything, and for the present sandals are not suitable, so I put on shoes, which are a better protection against rain and dust; but why did you ask me to walk before you? What is there peculiar about it?
Her repeated wish to learn this proved her not entirely free from feminine curiosity. He now explained that it was a matter of the peculiarly upright position of the rising foot, as she walked, and he added how for weeks he had tried to observe the gait of modern women on the streets in his native city. Yet it seemed that this beautiful way of walking had been completely lost to them, with the exception, perhaps, of a single one who had given him the impression that she walked in that way. To be sure, he had not been able to establish this fact because of the crowd about her, and he had probably experienced an illusion, for it had seemed to him that her features had resembled somewhat those of Gradiva.
What a shame, she answered. For confirmation of the fact would surely have been of great scientific importance, and if you had succeeded, perhaps you would not have needed to take the long journey here; but whom were you just speaking of? Who is Gradiva?
One must adapt himself to the inevitable, she responded. And I have long accustomed myself to being dead; but now my time is over for to-day; you have brought the grave-flower with you to conduct me back. So give it to me.
As she rose and stretched forth her slender hand, he gave her the asphodel cluster, but was careful not to touch her fingers. Accepting the flowering branch, she said, I thank you. To those who are more fortunate one gives roses in spring, but for me the flower of oblivion is the right one from your hand. To-morrow I shall be allowed to come here again at this hour. If your way leads you again into the house of Meleager, we can sit together at the edge of the poppies, as we did to-day. On the threshold stands Ave and I say it to you, Ave!
She went out and disappeared, as yesterday, at the turn in the portico, as if she had there sunk into the ground. Everything lay empty and silent again, but, from some distance, there once rang, short and clear, a sound like the merry note of a bird flying over the devastated city. This was stifled immediately, however. Norbert, who had remained behind, looked down at the step where she had just been sitting; there something white shimmered; it seemed to be the papyrus leaf which Gradiva had held on her knees yesterday and had forgotten to take with her to-day. Yet as he shyly reached for it, he found it to be a little sketch-book with pencil drawings of the different ruins in several houses of Pompeii. The page next to the last showed a drawing of the griffin-table in the central court of the Casa di Meleagro, and on the last was the beginning of a reproduction of the view across the poppies of the dining-room through the row of pillars of the peristyle. That the departed girl made drawings in a sketch-book of the present mode was as amazing as had been the fact that she expressed her thoughts in German. Yet those were only insignificant prodigies beside the great one of her revivification, and apparently she used the midday hour of freedom to preserve for herself, in their present state, with unusual artistic talent, the surroundings in which she had once lived. The drawings testified to delicately cultivated powers of perception, as each of her words did to a clever intellect; and she had probably often sat by the old griffin-table, so that it was a particularly precious reminder.
Mechanically Norbert also went, with the little book, along the portico and at the place where this turned, he noticed in the wall a narrow cleft wide enough to afford, to an unusually slender figure, passage into the adjoining building, and even farther to the Vicolo del Fauno at the other side of the house. Suddenly, however, the idea flashed through his mind that Zoë-Gradiva did not sink into the ground herethat was essentially unreasonable, and he could not understand how he had ever believed itbut went, on this street, back to her tomb. That must be in the Street of Tombs and rushing forth, he hastened out into the Strada di Mercurio and as far as the gate of Hercules; but when, breathless and reeking with perspiration, he entered this, it was already too late. The broad Strada di Sepolcri stretched out empty and dazzlingly white, only at its extremity, behind the glimmering curtain of radiance, a faint shadow seemed to dissolve uncertainly before the Villa of Diomede.
Norbert Hanold passed the second half of the day with a feeling that Pompeii was everywhere, or at least wherever he stopped, veiled in a cloud of mist. It was not gray, gloomy and melancholy as formerly, but rather cheerful and varicolored to an extraordinary degree, blue, red and brown, chiefly a light-yellowish white and alabaster white, interwoven with golden threads of sunbeams. This injured neither his power of vision, nor that of hearing, only, because of it, thinking was impossible, and that produced a cloud-wall whose effect rivaled the thickest mist. To the young archaeologist it seemed almost as if hourly, in an invisible and not otherwise noticeable way, there was brought to him a little bottle of Vesuvio wine, which produced a continuous whirling in his head. From this he instinctively sought to free himself by the use of correctives, on the one hand drinking water frequently, and on the other hand moving about as much and as far as possible. His knowledge of medicine was not comprehensive, but it helped him to the diagnosis that this strange condition must arise from excessive congestion of blood in his head, perhaps associated with accelerated action of the heart; for he felt the latter,something formerly quite unknown to himoccasionally beating fast against his chest. Otherwise, his thoughts, which could not penetrate into the outer world, were not in the least inactive within, or more exactly, there was only one thought there, which had come into sole possession and carried on a restless, though vain activity. It continually turned about the question of what physical nature Zoë-Gradiva might possess, whether during her stay in the house of Meleager she was a corporeal being or only an illusory representation of what she had formerly been. For the former, physical, physiological and anatomical facts seemed to argue that she had at her disposal organs of speech and could hold a pencil with her fingers. Yet Norbert was overwhelmed with the idea that if he should touch her, even lightly place his hand on hers, he would then encounter only empty air. A peculiar impulse urged him to make sure of this, but an equally great timidity hindered him from even thinking of doing it. For he felt that the confirmation of either of the two possibilities must bring with it something inspiring fear. The corporeal existence of the hand would thrill him with horror, and its lack of substance would cause him deep pain.
Occupied vainly with this problem, which was impossible to solve scientifically, without experiment, he arrived, in the course of his extensive wanderings that afternoon, at the foothills of the big mountain group of Monte Sant Angelo, rising south from Pompeii, and here he unexpectedly came upon an elderly man, already gray-bearded, who, from his equipment with all sorts of implements, seemed to be a zoölogist or botanist and appeared to be making a search on a hot, sunny slope. He turned his head, as Norbert came close to him, looked at the latter in surprise for a moment and then said, Are you interested in Faraglionensis? I should hardly have supposed it, but it seems thoroughly probable that they are found not only in the Faraglioni of Capri, but also dwell permanently on the mainland. The method suggested by my colleague, Eimer, is really good; I have already used it often with the best of success. Please remain quite still
The speaker stopped, stepped carefully forward a few paces and, stretched out motionless on the ground, held a little snare, made of a long grassblade, before a narrow crevice in the rock, from which the blue, chatoyant, little head of a lizard peeped. Thus the man remained without the slightest movement, and Norbert Hanold turned about noiselessly behind him and returned by the way he had come. It seemed to him dimly that he had already seen the face of the lizard-hunter once, probably in one of the two hotels; to this fact the latters manner pointed. It was hardly credible what foolishly remarkable purposes could cause people to make the long trip to Pompeii; happy that he had succeeded in so quickly ridding himself of the snare-layer, and being again able to direct his thoughts to the problem of corporeal reality or unreality, he started on the return. Yet a side street misled him once to a wrong turn and took him, instead of to the west boundary, to the east end of the extensive old city-wall; buried in thought, he did not notice the mistake until he had come right up to a building which was neither the Diomed nor the Hotel Suisse. In spite of this it bore the sign of a hotel; nearby he recognized the ruins of the large Pompeiian amphitheater and the memory came to him that, near this latter, there was another hotel, the Albergo del Sole, which, on account of its remoteness from the station, was sought out by only a few guests and had remained unknown to even him. The walk had made him hot; besides, the cloudy whirling in his head had not diminished; so he stepped in through the open door and ordered the remedy deemed useful by him for blood congestion, a bottle of lime-water. The room stood empty except, of course, for the fly-visitors gathered in full numbers, and the unoccupied host availed himself of the opportunity to recommend highly his house and the excavated treasures it contained. He pointed suggestively to the fact that there were, near Pompeii, people at whose places there was not a single, genuine piece among the many objects offered for sale, but that all were imitations, while he, satisfying himself with a smaller number, offered his guests only things undoubtedly genuine. For he acquired no articles which he himself had not seen brought to the light of day, and, in the course of his eloquence, he revealed that he had also been present when they had found near the Forum the young lovers who had clasped each other in firm embrace when they realized their inevitable destruction and had thus awaited death. Norbert had already heard of this discovery, but had shrugged his shoulders about it as a fabulous invention of some especially imaginative narrator, and he did so now, too, when the host brought in to him, as authentic proof, a metal brooch encrusted with green patina, which, in his presence, had been gathered with the remains of the girl from the ashes. When the arrival at the Sun Hotel took it in his own hand, however, the power of imagination exercised such ascendency over him that suddenly, without further critical consideration, he paid for it the price asked from English people, and, with his acquisition, hastily left the Albergo del Sole, in which, after another turn, he saw, in an open window, nodding down, an asphodel branch covered with white blossoms, which had been placed in a water-glass; and without needing any logical connection, it rushed through his mind, at the sight of the grave-flower, that it was an attestation of the genuineness of his new possession.
This he viewed with mingled feelings of excitement and shyness, keeping now to the way along the city-wall to Porta Marina. Then it was no fairy tale that a couple of young lovers had been excavated near the Forum in such an embrace, and there at the Apollo temple he had seen Gradiva lie down to sleep, but only in a dream; that he knew now quite definitely; in reality she might have gone on still farther from the Forum, met some one and died with him.
From the green brooch between his fingers a feeling passed through him that it had belonged to Zoë-Gradiva, and had held her dress closed at the throat. Then she was the beloved fiancée, perhaps the young wife of him with whom she had wished to die.
It occurred to Norbert Hanold to hurl the brooch away. It burned his fingers as if it had become glowing, or more exactly, it caused him the pain such as he had felt at the idea that he might put his hand on that of Gradiva and encounter only empty air.
Reason, nevertheless, asserted the upper hand; he did not allow himself to be controlled by imagination against his will. However probable it might be, there was still lacking invincible proof that the brooch had belonged to her and that it had been she, who had been discovered in the young mans arms. This judgment made it possible for him to breathe freely, and when, at the dawn of twilight, he reached the Diomed, his long wandering had brought to his sound constitution need of physical refreshment. Not without appetite did he devour the rather Spartan evening meal which the Diomed, in spite of its Argive origin, had adopted, and he then noticed two guests, newly-arrived in the course of the afternoon. By appearance and language they marked themselves as Germans, a man and a woman; they both had youthful, attractive features endowed with intellectual expressions; their relation to each other could not be determined, yet, because of a certain resemblance, Norbert decided that they were brother and sister. To be sure the young mans fair hair differed in color from her light-brown tresses. In her gown she wore a red Sorrento rose, the sight of which, as he looked across from his corner, stirred something in his memory without his being able to think what it was. The couple were the first people he had met on his journey who seemed possibly congenial. They talked with one another, over a little bottle, in not too plainly audible tones, nor in cautious whisperings, apparently sometimes about serious things and sometimes about gay things, for at times there passed over her face a half-laughing expression which was very becoming to her, and aroused the desire to participate in their conversation, or perhaps might have awakened it in Norbert, if he had met them two days before in the room otherwise populated only by Anglo-Americans. Yet he felt that what was passing through his mind stood in too strong contrast to the happy naïveté of the couple about whom there undeniably lay not the slightest cloud, for they doubtless were not meditating profoundly over the essential nature of a girl who had died two thousand years ago, but, without any weariness, were taking pleasure in an enigmatical problem of their life of the present. His condition did not harmonize with that; on the one hand he seemed superfluous to them, and on the other, he recoiled from an attempt to start an acquaintance with them, for he had a dark feeling that their bright, merry eyes might look through his forehead into his thoughts and thereby assume an expression as if they did not consider him quite in his right mind. Therefore he went up to his room, stood, as yesterday, at the window, looking over to the purple night-mantle of Vesuvius and then he lay down to rest. Exhausted, he soon fell asleep and dreamed, but remarkably nonsensically. Somewhere in the sun Gradiva sat making a trap out of a blade of grass, in order to catch a lizard, and she said, Please stay quite stillmy colleague is right; the method is really good and she has used it with the greatest success.
Norbert Hanold became conscious in his dream that it was actually the most utter madness, and he cast about to free himself from it. He succeeded in this by the aid of an invisible bird, who seemingly uttered a short, merry call, and carried the lizard away in its beak; afterwards everything disappeared.
On awakening, he remembered that in the night a voice had said that in the spring one gave roses, or rather this was recalled to him through his eyes, for his gaze, passing down from the window, came upon a bright bush of red flowers. They were of the same kind as those which the young lady had worn in her bosom, and when he went down, he involuntarily plucked a couple and smelled of them. In fact, there must be something peculiar about Sorrento roses, for their fragrance seemed to him not only wonderful, but quite new and unfamiliar, and at the same time he felt that they had a somewhat liberating effect upon his mind. At least they freed him from yesterdays timidity before the gatekeepers, for he went, according to directions, in through the ingresso to Pompeii, paid double the amount of admission fee, and quickly struck out upon streets which took him from the vicinity of other visitors. The little sketch-book, from the house of Meleager, he carried along with the green brooch and the red roses, but the fragrance of the latter had made him forget to eat breakfast and his thoughts were not in the present, but were directed exclusively to the noon hour which was still far off; he had to pass the remaining interval and for this purpose he entered now one house, now another, as a result of which activity the idea probably occurred to him that Gradiva had also walked there often before or even now sought these places out sometimeshis supposition that she was able to do it only at noon was tottering. Perhaps she was at liberty to do it in other hours of the day, possibly even at night in the moonlight. The roses strengthened this supposition strangely for him, when he inhaled, as he held them to his nose; and his deliberations, complaisant, and open to conviction, made advances to this new idea, for he could bear witness that he did not cling to preconceived opinions at all, but rather gave free rein to every reasonable objection, and such there was here without any doubt, not only logically, but desirably valid. Only the question arose whether, upon meeting her then, the eyes of others could see her as a corporeal being, or whether only his possessed the ability to do that. The former was not to be denied, claimed even probability for itself, transformed the desirable thing into quite the opposite, and transported him into a low-spirited, restless mood. The thought that others might also speak to her, and sit down near her to carry on a conversation with her, made him indignant; to that he alone possessed a claim, or at any rate a privilege, for he had discovered Gradiva, of whom no one had formerly known, had observed her daily, taken her into his life, to a degree, imparted to her his life-strength, and it seemed to him as if he had thereby again lent to her life that she would not have possessed without him. Therefore he felt that there devolved upon him a right, to which he alone might make a claim and which he might refuse to share with any one else.
The advancing day was hotter than the two preceding; the sun seemed to have set her mind to-day on a quite extraordinary feat, and made it regrettable, not only in an archaeological, but also in a practical connection, that the water system of Pompeii had lain burst and dried up for two thousand years. Street fountains here and there commemorated it and likewise gave evidence of their informal use by thirsty passers-by, who had, in order to bend forward to the jet, leaned a hand on the marble railing and gradually dug out a sort of trough in the place, in the same way that dropping wears away stone; Norbert observed this at a corner of the Strada della Fortuna, and from that the idea occurred to him that the hand of Zoë-Gradiva, too, might formerly have rested here in that way, and involuntarily he laid his hand into the little hollow, yet he immediately rejected the idea, and felt annoyance at himself that he could have done it; the thought did not harmonize at all with the nature and bearing of the young Pompeiian girl of a refined family; there was something profane in the idea that she could have bent over so and placed her lips on the very pipe from which the plebeians drank with coarse mouths. In a noble sense, he had never seen anything more seemly than her actions and movements; he was frightened by the idea that she might be able to see by looking at him that he had had the incredibly unreasonable thought, for her eyes possessed something penetrating; a couple of times, when he had been with her, the feeling had seized him that she looked as if she were seeking for access to his inmost thoughts and were looking about them as if with a bright steel probe. He was obliged, therefore, to take great care that she might come upon nothing foolish in his mental processes.
It was now an hour until noon and in order to pass it, he went diagonally across the street into the Casa del Fauno, the most extensive and magnificent of all the excavated houses. Like no other, it possessed a double inner court and showed, in the larger one, on the middle of the ground, the empty base on which had stood the famous statue of the dancing faun after which the house had been named. Yet there stirred in Norbert Hanold not the least regret that this work of art, valued highly by science, was no longer here, but, together with the mosaic picture of the Battle of Alexander, had been transferred to the Museo Nazionale in Naples; he possessed no further intention nor desire than to let time move along, and he wandered about aimlessly in this place through the large building. Behind the peristyle opened a wider room, surrounded by numerous pillars, planned either as another repetition of the peristyle or as an ornamental garden; so it seemed at present for, like the dining-room of the Casa di Meleagro, it was completely covered with poppy-blooms. Absentmindedly the visitor passed through the silent dereliction.
Then, however, he stopped and rested on one foot; but he found himself not alone here; at some distance his glance fell upon two figures, who first gave the impression of only one, because they stood as closely as possible to each other. They did not see him, for they were concerned only with themselves, and, in that corner, because of the pillars, might have believed themselves undiscoverable by any other eyes. Mutually embracing each other, they held their lips also pressed together and the unsuspected spectator recognized, to his amazement, that they were the young man and woman who had last evening seemed to him the first congenial people encountered on this trip. For brother and sister, their present position, the embrace and the kiss, it seemed to him, had lasted too long. So it was surely another pair of lovers, probably a young bridal couple, an Augustus and Gretchen, too.
Strange to relate, however, the two latter did not, at the moment, enter Norberts mind, and the incident seemed to him not at all ridiculous nor repulsive, rather it heightened his pleasure in them. What they were doing seemed to him as natural as it did comprehensible; his eyes clung to the living picture, more widely open than they ever had been to any of the most admired works of art, and he would have gladly devoted himself for a longer time to his observation. Yet it seemed to him that he had wrongfully penetrated into a consecrated place and was on the point of disturbing a secret act of devotion; the idea of being noticed there struck terror to his heart and he quickly turned, went back some distance noiselessly on tiptoe and, when he had passed beyond hearing distance, ran out with bated breath and beating heart to the Vicolo del Fauno.
When he arrived before the house of Meleager, he did not know whether it was already noon, and did not happen to question his watch about it, but remained before the door, standing looking down with indecision for some time at the Ave in the entrance. A fear prevented him from stepping in, and strangely, he was equally afraid of not meeting Gradiva within, and of finding her there; for, during the last few moments, he had felt quite sure that, in the first case, she would be staying somewhere else with some younger man, and, in the second case, the latter would be in company with her on the steps between the pillars. Toward the man, however, he felt a hate far stronger than against all the assembled common house-flies; until to-day he had not considered it possible that he could be capable of such violent inner excitement. The duel, which he had always considered stupid nonsense, suddenly appeared to him in a different light; here it became a natural right which the man injured in his own rights, or mortally insulted, made use of as the only available means to secure satisfaction or to part with an existence which had become purposeless. So he suddenly stepped forward to enter; he would challenge the bold man and wouldthis rushed upon him almost more powerfullyexpress unreservedly to her that he had considered her something better, more noble, and incapable of such vulgarity.
He was so filled to the brim with this rebellious idea that he uttered it, even though there was not apparently the least occasion for it, for, when he had covered the distance to the dining-room with stormy haste, he demanded violently, Are you alone? although appearances allowed of no doubt that Gradiva was sitting there on the steps, just as much alone as on the two previous days.
His surging excitement could not, however, be allayed so quickly and without his knowledge or desire, he let slip, with the conviction of certainty, the conjecture which had come over him outside; for he added, to be sure somewhat foolishly, that he could really not think otherwise.
Her bright eyes remained fixed upon his face until he had finished. Then she made a motion with one finger against her brow and said, You After that, however, she continued, It seems to me quite enough that I do not remain away from here, even though I must expect that you are coming here at this time; but the place pleases me and I see that you have brought me my sketch-book that I forgot here yesterday. I thank you for your vigilance. Wont you give it to me?
The last question was well founded for he showed no disposition to do so, but remained motionless. It began to dawn upon him that he had imagined and worked out a monstrous piece of nonsense, and had also given expression to it; in order to compensate, as far as possible, he now stepped forward hastily, handed Gradiva the book, and at the same time sat down near her on the step, mechanically. Casting a glance at his hand, she said, You seem to be a lover of roses.
At these words he suddenly became conscious of what had caused him to pluck and bring them and he responded, Yes,of course, not for myself, have Iyou spoke yesterdayand last night, too, some one said it to mepeople give them in spring.
Her hand stretched out to receive the red flowers and, handing them to her, he rejoined, I believed at first that you could be here only during the noon hour, but it has become probable to me that you also, at some other timethat makes me very happy
Her face expressed lack of comprehensiononly about her lips there passed a slight, hardly noticeable quiver. Confused he offered, It is beautiful to be alive; it has never seemed so much so to me beforeI wished to ask you? He searched in his breast pocket and added, as he drew out the object, Has this brooch ever belonged to you?
She leaned forward a little toward it, but shook her head, No, I cant remember. Chronologically it would, of course, not be impossible, for it probably did not exist until this year. Did you find it in the sun perhaps? The beautiful, green patina surely seems familiar to me, as if I had already seen it.
Sole it is called here. It brings to light many things of that sort. Was the brooch said to have belonged to a young girl who is said to have perished, I believe, in the vicinity of the Forum, with a companion?
The two little words apparently lay upon Gradivas tongue as a favorite interjection and she stopped after it for a moment, before she added, Did you think that on that account I might have worn it? and would that have made you a littlehow did you say it before?unhappy?
You seem to have a tendency for that. Did you perhaps forget to eat breakfast this morning? That easily aggravates such attacks; I do not suffer from them, but I make provisions, as it suits me best to be here at noon. If I can help you out of your unfortunate condition a little by sharing my lunch with you
She drew out of her pocket a piece of white bread wrapped in tissue paper, broke it, put half into his hand and began to devour the other with apparent appetite. Thereby her exceptionally dainty and perfect teeth not only gleamed between her lips with pearly glitter, but in biting the crust caused also a crunching sound so that they gave the impression of being not unreal phantoms, but of actual, substantial reality. Besides, with her conjecture about the postponed breakfast, she had, to be sure, hit upon the right thing; mechanically he, too, ate and felt from it a decidedly favorable effect on the clearing of his thoughts. So, for a little while, the couple did not speak further, but devoted themselves silently to the same practical occupation until Gradiva said, It seems to me as if we had already eaten our bread thus together once two thousand years ago. Cant you remember it?
He could not, but it seemed strange to him now that she spoke of so infinitely remote a past, for the strengthening of his mind by the nourishment had brought with it a change in his brain. The idea that she had been going around here in Pompeii such a long time ago would no longer harmonize with sound reason; everything about her seemed of the present, as if it could be scarcely more than twenty years old. The form and color of her face, the especially charming, brown, wavy hair, and the flawless teeth; also, the idea that the bright dress, marred by no shadow of a spot, had lain countless years in the pumice ashes contained something in the highest degree inconsistent. Norbert was seized by a feeling of doubt whether he were really sitting here awake or were not more probably dreaming in his study, where, in contemplation of the likeness of Gradiva, he had been overcome by sleep, and had dreamed that he had gone to Pompeii, had met her as a person still living and was dreaming further that he was still sitting so at her side in the Casa di Meleagro. For, that she was really still alive or had been living again could only have happened in a dreamthe laws of nature raised an objection to it
To be sure, it was strange that she had just said that she had once shared her bread with him in that way two thousand years ago. Of that he knew nothing and even in the dream could find nothing about it.
Even in the dining room of the Casa di Meleagro, the boldness of the common house-fly was not deterred; on the yellow pillar opposite him he saw one running up and down in a worthless way in greedy quest; now it whizzed right past his nose.
He, however, had to make some answer to her question, if he did not remember the bread that he had formerly consumed with her and he said suddenly, Were the flies then as devilish as now, so that they tormented you to death?
Then suddenly the black monster sat upon her hand, which did not reveal by the slightest quiver that she noticed it. Thereupon, however, there united in the young archaeologist two powerful impulses to execute the same deed. His hand went up suddenly and clapped with no gentle stroke on the fly and the hand of his neighbor.
With this blow there came to him, for the first time, sense, consternation and also a joyous fear. He had delivered the stroke not through empty air, but on an undoubtedly real, living and warm, human hand which, for a moment apparently absolutely startled, remained motionless under his. Yet then she drew it away with a jerk, and the mouth above it said, You are surely apparently crazy, Norbert Hanold.
The name, which he had disclosed to no one in Pompeii, passed so easily, assuredly and clearly from her lips that its owner jumped up from the steps, even more terrified. At the same time there sounded in the colonnade footsteps of people who had come near unobserved; before his confused eyes appeared the faces of the congenial pair of lovers from the Casa del Fauno, and the young lady cried, with a tone of greatest surprise, Zoë! You here, too? and also on your honeymoon? You have not written me a word about it, you know.
Norbert was again outside before Meleagers house in the Strada di Mercurio. How he had come there was not clear to him, it must have happened instinctively, and, caused by a lightning-like illumination in him, was the only thing that he could do not to present a thoroughly ridiculous figure to the young couple, even more to the girl greeted so pleasantly by them, who had just addressed him by his Christian and family names, and most of all to himself. For even if he grasped nothing, one fact was indisputable. Gradiva, with a warm, human hand, not unsubstantial, but possessing corporeal reality, had expressed an indubitable truth; his mind had, in the last two days, been in a condition of absolute madness; and not at all in a silly dream, but rather with the use of eyes and ears such as is given by nature to man for reasonable service. Like everything else, how such a thing had happened escaped his understanding, and only darkly did he feel that there must have also been in the game a sixth sense which, obtaining the upper hand in some way, had transformed something perhaps precious to the opposite. In order to get at least a little more light on the matter by an attempt at meditation, a remote place in solitary silence was absolutely required; at first, however, he was impelled to withdraw as quickly as possible from the sphere of eyes, ears and other senses, which use their natural functions as suits their own purpose.
As for the owner of that warm hand, she had, at any rate, from her first expression, been surprised by the unforeseen and unexpected visit at noon in the Casa di Meleagro in a not entirely pleasant manner. Yet, of this, in the next instant, there was no trace to be seen in her bright countenance; she stood up quickly, stepped toward the young lady and said, extending her hand, It certainly is pleasant, Gisa; chance sometimes has a clever idea too. So this is your husband of two weeks? I am glad to see him, and, from the appearance of both of you, I apparently need not change my congratulations for condolence. Couples to whom that would be applied are at this time usually sitting at lunch in Pompeii; you are probably staying near the ingresso; I shall look you up there this afternoon. No, I have not written you anything; you wont be offended at me for that, for you see my hand, unlike yours, is not adorned by a ring. The atmosphere here has an extremely powerful effect on the imagination, which I can see in you; it is better, of course, than if it made one too matter of fact. The young man who just went out is laboring also under a remarkable delusion; it seems to me that he believes a fly is buzzing in his head; well, every one has, of course, some kind of bee in his bonnet. As is my duty, I have some knowledge of entomology and can, therefore, be of a little service in such cases. My father and I live in the Sole; he, too, had a sudden and pleasing idea of bringing me here with him if I would be responsible for my own entertainment, and make no demands upon him. I said to myself that I should certainly dig up something interesting alone here. Of course I had not reckoned at all on the find which I madeI mean the good fortune of meeting you, Gisa; but I am talking away the time, as is usually the case with an old friend My father comes in out of the sun at two oclock to eat at the Sole; so I have to keep company there with his appetite and, therefore, I am sorry to say, must, for the moment forego your society. You will, of course, be able to view the Casa di Meleagro without me; that I think likely, though I cant understand it, of course. Favorisca, signor! Arrivederci, Gisetta! That much Italian I have already learned and one really does not need more. Whatever else is necessary one can inventplease, no, senza complimenti!
This last entreaty of the speaker concerned a polite movement by which the young husband had seemed to wish to escort her. She had expressed herself most vividly, naturally and in a manner quite fitting to the circumstances of the unexpected meeting of a close friend, yet with extraordinary celerity, which testified to the urgency of the declaration that she could not at present remain longer. So not more than a few minutes had passed since the hasty exit of Norbert Hanold, when she also stepped from the house of Meleager into the Strada di Mercurio. This lay, because of the hour, enlivened only here and there by a cringing lizard, and for a few moments the girl, hesitating, apparently gave herself over to a brief meditation. Then she quickly struck out in the shortest way to the gate of Hercules, at the intersection of the Vicolo di Mercurio and the Strada di Sallustio, crossed the stepping-stones with the gracefully buoyant Gradiva-walk, and thus arrived very quickly at the two ruins of the side wall near the Porta Ercolanese. Behind this there stretched at some length the Street of Tombs, yet not dazzlingly white, nor overhung with glittering sunbeams, as twenty-four hours ago, when the young archaeologist had thus gazed down over it with searching eyes. To-day the sun seemed to be overcome by a feeling that she had done a little too much good in the morning; she held a gray veil drawn before her, the condensation of which was visibly being increased, and, as a result, the cypresses, which grew here and there in the Strada di Sepolcri, rose unusually sharp and black against the heavens. It was a picture different from that of yesterday; the brilliance which mysteriously glittered over everything was lacking; the street also assumed a certain gloomy distinctness and had at present a dead aspect which honored its name. This impression was not diminished by an isolated movement at its end, but was rather heightened by it; there, in the vicinity of the Villa of Diomede, a phantom seemed to be looking for its grave, and disappeared under one of the monuments.
It was not the shortest way from the house of Meleager to the Albergo del Sole, rather the exactly opposite direction, but Zoë-Gradiva must have also decided that time was not yet importuning so violently to lunch, for after a quite brief stop at the Hercules gate, she walked farther along the lava-blocks of the Street of Tombs, every time raising the sole of her lingering foot almost perpendicularly.
The Villa of Diomedenamed thus, for people of the present, after a monument which a certain freed-man, Marcus Arrius Diomedes, formerly promoted to the directorship of this city-section, had erected nearby for his lady, Arria, as well as for himself and his relativeswas a very extensive building and concealed within itself a part of the history of the destruction of Pompeii not invented by imagination. A confusion of extensive ruins formed the upper part; below lay an unusually large sunken garden surrounded by a well preserved portico of pillars with scanty remnants of a fountain and a small temple in the middle; and farther along two stairways led down to a circular cellar-vault, lighted only dimly by gloomy twilight. The ashes of Vesuvius had penetrated into this also and the skeletons of eighteen women and children had been found here; seeking protection they had fled, with some hastily gathered provisions, into the half-subterranean space and the deceptive refuge had become the tomb of all. In another place the supposed, nameless master of the house lay, also stretched out choked on the ground; he had wished to escape through the locked garden-door, for he held the key to it in his fingers. Beside him cowered another skeleton, probably that of a servant, who was carrying a considerable number of gold and silver coins. The bodies of the unfortunates had been preserved by the hardened ashes; in the museum at Naples there is under glass, the exact impression of the neck, shoulders and beautiful bosom of a young girl clad in a fine, gauzy garment.
The Villa of Diomede had, at one time, at least, been the inevitable goal of every dutiful Pompeii visitor, but now, at noon, in its rather roomy solitude, certainly no curiosity lingered in it, and therefore it had seemed to Norbert Hanold the place of refuge best suited to his newest mental needs. These longed most insistently for grave-like loneliness, breathless silence, and quiescent peace; against the latter, however, an impelling restlessness in his system raised counter-claims, and he had been obliged to force an agreement between the two demands, such that the mind tried to claim its own and yet gave the feet liberty to follow their impulse. So he had been wandering around through the portico since his entrance; he succeeded thus in preserving his bodily equilibrium, and he busied himself with changing his mental state into the same normal condition; that, however, seemed more difficult in execution than in intention; of course it seemed to his judgment unquestionable that he had been utterly foolish and irrational to believe that he had sat with a young Pompeiian girl, who had become more or less corporeally alive again, and this clear view of his madness formed incontestably an essential advance on the return to sound reason; but it was not yet restored entirely to normal condition, for, even if it had occurred to him that Gradiva was only a dead bas-relief, it was also equally beyond doubt that she was still alive. For that irrefutable proof was adduced; not he alone, but others also, saw her, knew that her name was Zoë and spoke with her, as with a being as much alive, in substance, as they. On the other hand, however, she knew his name too, and again, that could originate only from a supernatural power; this dual nature remained enigmatic even for the rays of understanding that were entering his mind. Yet to this incompatible duality there was joined a similar one in him, for he cherished the earnest desire to have been destroyed here in the Villa of Diomede two thousand years ago, in order that he might not run the risk of meeting Zoë-Gradiva again anywhere; at the same time, however, an extraordinarily joyous feeling was stirring within him, because he was still alive and was therefore able to meet her again somewhere. To use a commonplace yet fitting simile, this was turning in his head like a mill-wheel, and through the long portico he ran around likewise without stopping, which did not aid him in the explanation of the contradictions. On the contrary, he was moved by an indefinite feeling that everything was growing darker and darker about and within him.
Then he suddenly recoiled, as he turned one of the four corners of the colonnade. A half dozen paces away from him there sat, rather high up on a fragmentary wall-ruin, one of the young girls who had found death here in the ashes.
No, that was nonsense, which his reason rejected. His eyes, too, and a nameless something else recognized that fact. It was Gradiva; she was sitting on a stone ruin as she had formerly sat on the step, only, as the former was considerably higher, her slender feet, which hung down free in the sand-color shoes, were visible up to her dainty ankles.
With an instinctive movement, Norbert was at first about to run out between the pillars through the garden; what, for a half hour, he had feared most of anything in the world had suddenly appeared, viewed him with bright eyes and with lips which, he felt, were about to burst into mocking laughter; yet they didnt, but the familiar voice rang out calmly from them, Youll get wet outside.
Now, for the first time, he saw that it was raining; for that reason it had become so dark. That unquestionably was an advantage to all the plants about and in Pompeii, but that a human being in the place would be benefited by it was ridiculous, and for the moment Norbert Hanold feared, far more than danger of death, appearing ridiculous. Therefore he involuntarily gave up the attempt to get away, stood there, helpless, and looked at the two feet, which now, as if somewhat impatient, were swinging back and forth; and as this view did not have so clearing an effect upon his thoughts that he could find expression for them, the owner of the dainty feet again took up the conversation. We were interrupted before; you were just going to tell me something about fliesI imagined that you were making scientific investigations hereor about a fly in your head. Did you succeed in catching and destroying the one on my hand?
This last she said with a smiling expression about her lips, which, however, was so faint and charming, that it was not at all terrifying. On the contrary, it now lent to the questioned man power of speech, but with this limitation, that the young archaeologist suddenly did not know how to address her. In order to escape this dilemma, he found it best to avoid that and replied, I wasas they saysomewhat confused mentally and ask pardon that Ithe handin that wayhow I could be so stupid, I cant understandbut I cant understand either how its owner could use my name in upbraiding me for mymy madness.
Gradivas feet stopped moving and she rejoined, still addressing him familiarly, Your power of understanding has not yet progressed that far, Norbert Hanold. Of course, I can not be surprised, for you have long ago accustomed me to it. To make that discovery again I should not have needed to come to Pompeii, and you could have confirmed it for me a good hundred miles nearer.
The two dangling feet began again to swing a little, and Miss Zoë Bertgang said in reply, If you find that form of address more suitable between us, I can use it too, you know, but the other came to me more naturally. I dont know whether I looked different when we used to run about before with each other as friends every day, and occasionally beat and cuffed each other, for a change, but if, in recent years, you had favored me with even one glance, you might perhaps have seen that I have looked like this for a long time.No, now, as they say, its pouring pitchforks; you wont have a dry stitch.
Not only had the feet of the speaker indicated a return of impatience, or whatever it might be, but also in the tones of her voice there appeared a little didactic, ill-humored curtness, and Norbert had thereby been overwhelmed by a feeling that he was running the risk of slipping into the rôle of a big school-boy scolded and slapped in the face. That caused him to again seek mechanically for an exit between the pillars, and to the movement which showed this impulse Miss Zoës last utterance, indifferently added, had reference; and, of course, in an undeniably striking way, because for what was now occurring outside of the shelter, pouring was really a mild term. A tropical cloudburst such as only seldom took pity on the summer thirst of the meadows of the Campagna, was shooting vertically and rushing as if the Tyrrhenian Sea were pouring from heaven upon the Villa of Diomede, and yet it continued like a firm wall composed of billions of drops gleaming like pearls and large as nuts. That, indeed, made escape out into the open air impossible, and forced Norbert Hanold to remain in the school-room of the portico while the young school-mistress with the delicate, clever face made use of the hindrance for further extension of her pedagogical discussion by continuing, after a brief pause:
Then up to the time when people call us Backfisch, for some unknown reason, I had really acquired a remarkable attachment for you and thought that I could never find a more pleasing friend in the world. Mother, sister, or brother I had not, you know; to my father a slow-worm in alcohol was far more interesting than I, and people (I count girls such) must surely have something with which they can occupy their thoughts and the like. Then you were that something, but when archaeology overcame you, I made the discovery that youexcuse the familiarity, but your new formality sounds absurd to meI was saying that I imagined that you had become an intolerable person, who had no longer, at least for me, an eye in his head, a tongue in his mouth, nor any of the memories that I retained of our childhood friendship. So I probably looked different from what I did formerly for when, occasionally, I met you at a party, even last winter, you did not look at me and I did not hear your voice; in this, of course, there was nothing which marked me out especially, for you treated all the others in the same way. To you I was but air, and you, with your shock of light hair, which I had formerly pulled so often, were as boresome, dry and tongue-tied as a stuffed cockatoo and at the same time as grandiose as anarchaeopteryx; I believe the excavated, antediluvian bird-monster is so called; but that your head harbored an imagination so magnificent as here in Pompeii to consider me something excavated and restored to lifeI had not surmised that of you, and when you suddenly stood before me unexpectedly, it cost me some effort at first to understand what kind of incredible fancy your imagination had invented. Then I was amused and, in spite of its madness, it was not entirely displeasing to me. For, as I said, I had not expected it of you.
With that, her expression and tone somewhat mollified at the end, Miss Zoë Bertgang finished her unreserved, detailed and instructive lecture and it was indeed notable how exactly she then resembled the figure of Gradiva on the bas-relief, not only in her features, her form, her eyes, expressive of wisdom, and her charmingly wavy hair, but also in her graceful manner of walking which he had often seen; her drapery, too, dress and scarf of a cream-colored, fine cashmere material which fell in soft, voluminous folds, completed the extraordinary resemblance of her whole appearance. There might have been much foolishness in the belief that a young Pompeiian girl, destroyed two thousand years ago by Vesuvius, could sometimes walk around alive again, speak, draw and eat bread, but even if the belief brought happiness, it assumed everywhere, in the bargain, a considerable amount of incomprehensibility; and in consideration of all the circumstances, there was incontestably present, in the judgment of Norbert Hanold, some mitigating ground for his madness in for two days considering Gradiva a resurrection.
Although he stood there dry under the portico roof, there was established, not quite ineptly, a comparison between him and a wet poodle, who has had a bucketful of water thrown on his head; but the cold shower-bath had really done him good. Without knowing exactly why, he felt that he was breathing much more easily. In that, of course, the change of tone at the end of the sermonfor the speaker sat as if in a pulpit-chairmight have helped especially; at least thereat a transfigured light appeared in his eyes, such as awakened hope for salvation through faith produces in the eyes of an ardently affected church-attendant; and as the rebuke was now over, and there seemed no necessity for fearing a further continuation, he succeeded in saying, Yes, now I recognizeno, you have not changed at allit is you, Zoëmy good, happy, clever comradeit is most strange
The young archaeologist showed himself familiar with not only the classical languages, but also with the etymology of German, and continued, Because Bertgang has the same meaning as Gradiva and signifies the one splendid in walking.
Miss Zoë Bertgangs two sandal-like shoes were, for the moment, because of their movement, reminiscent of an impatiently see-sawing wag-tail waiting for something; yet the possessor of the feet which walked so magnificently seemed not at present to be paying any attention to philological explanations; by her countenance she gave the impression of being occupied with some hasty plan, but was restrained from it by an exclamation of Norbert Hanolds which audibly emanated from deepest conviction, What luck, though, that you are not Gradiva, but are like the congenial young lady!
At one blow with the last word the former picture changed before Norbert Hanolds eyes, for the old wall-ruin lay there empty, because the girl, who had chosen it as a seat, teachers chair and pulpit, had come down, or really flown, and with the same supple buoyancy as that of a wag-tail swinging through the air, so that she already stood again on Gradiva-feet, before his glance had consciously caught up with her descent; and continuing her speech directly, she said, Well, the rain has stopped; too severe rulers do not reign long. That is reasonable, too, you know, and thus everything has again become reasonable. I, not least of all, and you can look up Gisa Hartleben, or whatever new name she has, to be of scientific assistance to her about the purpose of her stay in Pompeii. I must now go to the Albergo del Sole, for my father is probably waiting for me already at lunch. Perhaps we shall meet again sometime at a party in Germany or on the moon. Addio!
Zoë Bertgang said this in the absolutely polite, but also equally indifferent tone of a most well-bred young lady, and, as was her custom, placing her left foot forward, raised the sole of the right almost perpendicularly to pass out. As she lifted her dress slightly with her left hand, because of the thoroughly wet ground outside, the resemblance to Gradiva was perfect and the man, standing hardly more than two arm-lengths away, noticed for the first time a quite insignificant deviation in the living picture from the stone one. The latter lacked something possessed by the former, which appeared at the moment quite clear, a little dimple in her cheek, which produced a slight, indefinable effect. It puckered and wrinkled a little and could therefore express annoyance or a suppressed impulse to laugh, possibly both together. Norbert Hanold looked at it and although from the evidence just presented to him he had completely regained his reason, his eyes had to again submit to an optical illusion. For, in a tone triumphing peculiarly over his discovery, he cried out, There is the fly again!
There on your cheek! and immediately the man, as he answered, suddenly twined an arm about her neck and snapped, this time with his lips, at the insect so deeply abhorrent to him, which vision juggled before his eyes deceptively in the little dimple. Apparently, however, without success, for right afterwards he cried again, No, now its on your lips! and thereupon, quick as a flash, he directed thither his attempt to capture, now remaining so long that no doubt could survive that he succeeded in completely accomplishing his purpose, and strange to relate the living Gradiva did not hinder him at all, and when her mouth, after about a minute, was forced to struggle for breath, restored to powers of speech, she did not say, You are really crazy, Norbert Hanold, but rather allowed a most charming smile to play more visibly than before about her red lips; she had been convinced more than ever of the complete recovery of his reason.
The Villa of Diomede had two thousand years ago seen and heard horrible things in an evil hour, yet at the present it heard and saw, for about an hour, only things not at all suited to inspire horror. Then, however, a sensible idea became uppermost in Miss Zoë Bertgangs mind and as a result, she said, against her wishes, Now, I must really go, or my poor father will starve. It seems to me you can to-day forego Gisa Hartlebens company at noon, for you have nothing more to learn from her and ought to be content with us in the Sun Hotel.
From this it was to be concluded that during that hour something must have been discussed, for it indicated a helpful desire to instruct, which the young lady vented on Norbert. Yet, from the reminding words, he did not gather this, but something which, for the first time, he was becoming terribly conscious of; this was apparent in the repetition, Your fatherwhat will he?
Miss Zoë, however, interrupted, without any sign of awakened anxiety, Probably he will do nothing; I am not an indispensable piece in his zoölogical collection; if I were, my heart would probably not have clung to you so unwisely. Besides, from my early years, I have been sure that a woman is of use in the world only when she relieves a man of the trouble of deciding household matters; I generally do this for my father and therefore you can also be rather at ease about your future. Should he, however, by chance, in this case, have an opinion different from mine, we will make it as simple as possible. You go over to Capri for a couple of days; there, with a grass snareyou can practise making them on my little fingercatch a lizard Faraglionensis. Let it go here again, and catch it before his eyes. Then give him free choice between it and me, and you will have me so surely that I am sorry for you. Toward his colleague, Eimer, however, I feel to-day that I have formerly been ungrateful, for without his genial invention of lizard-catching I should probably not have come into Meleagers house, and that would have been a shame, not only for you, but for me too.
This last view she expressed outside of the Villa of Diomede and, alas, there was no person present on earth who could make any statements about the voice and manner of talking of Gradiva. Yet even if they had resembled those of Zoë Bertgang, as everything else about her did, they must have possessed a quite unusually beautiful and roguish charm.
By this, at least, Norbert Hanold was so strongly overwhelmed that, exalted to poetic flights, he cried out, Zoë, you dear life and lovely presentwe shall take our wedding-trip to Italy and Pompeii.
That was a decided proof of how different circumstances can also produce a transformation in a human being and at the same time unite with it a weakening of the memory. For it did not occur to him at all that he would thereby expose himself and his companion on the journey to the danger of receiving, from misanthropic, ill-humored railway-companions, the names Augustus and Gretchen, but at the moment he was thinking so little about it that they walked along hand in hand through the old Street of Tombs in Pompeii. Of course this, too, did not stamp itself into their minds at present as such, for a cloudless sky shone and laughed again above it; the sun stretched out a golden carpet on the old lava-blocks; Vesuvius spread its misty pine-cone; and the whole excavated city seemed overwhelmed, not with pumice and ashes, but with pearls and diamonds, by the beneficent rain-storm.
The brilliance in the eyes of the young daughter of the zoölogist rivaled these, but to the announced desire about the destination of their journey by her childhood friend who had, in a way, also been excavated from the ashes, her wise lips responded: I think we wont worry about that to-day; that is a thing which may better be left by both of us to more and maturer consideration and future promptings. I, at least, do not yet feel quite alive enough now for such geographical decisions.
That showed that the speaker possessed great modesty about the quality of her insight into things about which she had never thought until to-day. They had arrived again at the Hercules gate where, at the beginning of the Strada Consolare, old stepping-stones crossed the street. Norbert Hanold stopped before them and said with a peculiar tone, Please go ahead here. A merry, comprehending, laughing expression lurked around his companions mouth, and, raising her dress slightly with her left hand, Gradiva rediviva Zoë Bertgang, viewed by him with dreamily observing eyes, crossed with her calmly buoyant walk, through the sunlight, over the stepping-stones, to the other side of the street.