CARL AND ANNA
By LEONHARD FRANK
Translated by L. W. LOCKHART
I I I
Richard was seated on the canvas bed in the little iron house. "Well, it's like this," he said ; and making his lips into a small round, he gave a whistle like that of the gas-cooker in his and Anna's room.
The train went by at full steam, away into the flat country ; then slowly on, a thin snake, through the green of the skyline. Carl was hearing a sound in the distance, the long far-off, feeble whistle of the engine, which came from Richard's rounded lips. then his eyes were open.
The room was full of morning sunlight. A metal pot of steaming water for the coffee was on the gas-cooker. The dirty burner gave out a whistle, all the time the same note. Nobody was in Anna's bed ; the cover had been folded back.
"Four ?" But generally you have two." The bread man put his hand into the mountain of bread-rolls for two more brown ones, such as were most pleasing to Anna. "And now you have need of four ?"
A sudden happy feeling gave birth to a little laugh inside her which was printed on her lips and gave a warmer color to her face. The two lines of teeth were of a good size, regular and white.
Anna had the milk-like color of the red-haired, though in her thick hair there was almost no red to be seen. On the sides of her nose, near the eyes, were one or two brown sun-marks.
The hundred thousand motions which her quick hands had gone through every day for years in the card-box works, had made them thin and full of feeling. They were like the hands of those women of delicate organization who are produced only by years of selection within the highest circle of society.
On her feet, which were small for her size, she had her best shoes. As she came through the door, with the great, full, milk-colored pot in her hand -- she had on a thin summer dress, and the curves of her body were to be seen through the light material, the simple, natural lines of a woman -- Carl was bent over the gas-cooker.
I was going to get this put right before the war, was his thought. The effect of Anna being present was so strong that he did not say the words out loud, though at that minute, with the feelings he had, they would not have been false.
Anna seemed dressed brightly as though she had flowers on.
His eyes were fixed on the woman in the doorway, as clean-looking as the milk itself. Automatically, his fingers went up to his shirt to get the edges pulled together across his deep-colored, black-haired skin, under which the muscles were to be seen. He had no coat on. Only trousers and a leather band. His white shirt was crushed. some days before, he had given himself and his shirt a wash in the river, and then let them get dry in the sun.
Though Carl was washed and had taken the hair off his face, the outdoor smell of river and wood and the long, long journey were about him. In this way he had came back to normal conditions of living, where there was a bed, four walls and Anna. She said, "Good morning !" and her voice was in complete harmony with the general look of her -- her way of walking, her body, her mouth.
All the lines of her body were to be seen as she put down the milk pot, bent forward because she had the paper bag full of rolls under the same arm.
She made the table ready with every attention, as though for a meal between friends, took note of the effect, and then put two paper squares into folds with great care. All the time a man was by the window looking on.
The strange feeling of the night before had gone. Anna was quite changed, as though in her night's sleep she had become certain that she was ready for living.
Carl's eyes were on her wherever she went ; and when she made an attempt to get by him to take down a bottle of fruit he had no words in which to put his love and no time for words.
Wave after wave of feeling went through her body while his arms were round her, like a tree in the face of the wind.
With her arm round his neck, she let herself down on to the seat. "Have your food first !"
He took note of the promise in her words. She go his bread ready and gave it to him with a quick look. She was unable to take any food herself. Her eyes were on him, her hands resting on her knees.
"What delicate little hands you have ! Like a Society woman !"
She got up, feeling self-conscious, and went over to the window.
Slowly he went to her, feeling her attraction. There was something troubled about her parted lips at the same time they said 'yes'. He put his arm slowly round her. They were together in one another's arms, not moving. And when, lifting his eyes, he saw her lips open, waiting for him, and took them again and again, no word was said.
The thin material was tightly buttoned over her body. He got it loose.
With a quiet little smile she let down her dress, and came into his arms. The sunlight was full on the white linen of the bed.
Carl gave a pull at the band of his trousers and took a step back, deeply conscious of the value of doors, doors with a lock, and a key able to be turned.
Then he was before her again, where she was stretched out in the sun, and he was certain that there was no feeling on earth so happy as that of being without doubt of his loved one and that she would give herself to him.
He made no move, happy in the knowledge of what was to come. And at last overcome by the look in his eyes, she came up suddenly and took him to herself.
The building was formed of six broken-down houses making one dead, gray group, and going round three squares. There were more than a hundred workmen's families living here, ruled by the chances of war, by reason of which they all went through the same sad times, put up with the same need of food and clothing, the same bread, and the same diseases.
Here and there was a crying of babies, like the noise made by frogs in the thick, green water ; sometimes they would all make a noise together for a minute or two. On that Sunday morning, their crying was done to music brightly played on mouth-instruments.
A school-girl got out of bed with a jump, came to the open window, put her finger on a loud-sounding bell fixed on her window-shelf and put her hand to her ear.
A minute later a school-girl, in her night-dress, was to be seen at the window opposite. She put her finger on a bell of the same sort, and like the other girl, made her hand into a telephone ear-piece.
"Elfi here !"
"Good morning, Elfi ! Alma here. Had a good night ?"
"Oh, it's you, alma ! How sweet of you to get me on the telephone !"
The friends were on the same floor, and were looking one another in the face while telephoning. the square was only eighteen feet across.
"What are you going to put on to-day, Alma ? I will put on my blue."
"I had a idea you would. I will probably put on my yellow."
They had only one Sunday dress. But sometimes, to make it seem as though they had more, they put on one another's.
"We might go to the moving pictures to-night. . . . What a disgusting noise in the wires."
In a fourth-floor room, lived in by a friend of Anna's (two or three times she had made an attempt to get Anna's attention in a loud voice, but without result), a polished black circle, with a picture of a dog in front of a horn, was playing a piece of military music, to the sound of which millions had gone to the war.
"What disgusting noises ! I am going to put up the ear-piece. I'll get you again later." Elfi put her finger on the bell. The high voice of Alma's bell came in answer, louder than the military music. The girls went in.
Far down, on a stone square, a white-haired boy of four was to be seen. He was crying out to the sky in a loud voice :
"Mariechen has a baby,
It hasn't got a father !"
Someone made a noise at the door.
Anna go quickly up in bed, her hand to her heart. The newspaper came through the letter-box.
"In the old days you were different, Anna. You were less free with yourself." He was on his back, deep in thought, full of the idea of how much less free Anna had been in her behavior to him before. "Has it gone from your mind, the reason you gave every time, before you -- before all was well ?" And your position was different." Almost unconsciously she went father from him, and gave him a long look. It was so strange, his knowledge, which took in the most private of all her ways. Her face was wide with surprise, and suddenly without any sign of thought, as if the power of thought had been cut out of her with a knife.
"Quite different !" With a soft push he put her right leg in another position and gave her right arm a pull in his direction.
"Like that !"
Her head went back by itself. In this position, which had so frequently been hers, all her past existence with Richard suddenly came before her. In giving herself to him she said his name under her breath, certain at last that the man in her arms was Richard. For her, in that minute, past and present were formed into the same current of being and became one.
In the hours that came after, Anna had need of all her inner force to keep her belief that Carl was Richard. and she made the discovery that, though one may not have the power of building up a belief by force, it is possible to keep out a troubling thought.
Somewhere inside her, a little higher than her stomach, was, as it were, the muscle which had to be worked all the time to keep out the over-conscious idea that Carl was not Richard.
Carl, completely taken up with his love for her, was untouched by any such doubts. While he quietly gave her his kisses and, overcome with pleasure, took hers, his thoughts were at work on the question of how, by industry and the use of all his powers, it would be possible to make the money which would keep him an Anna from need.
Richard had taken work for one week -- from the day he came to the town to the day the war was started -- in the machine-works of Kipp and Graf, and had not been pleased with the money they gave him.
Carl said to Anna, while she was dressing, that he would not go for work to Kipp and Graf's ; they were a poor company, he said, and gave little money.
A cold feeling went through her body as a memory came back to her mind. It quickly went. It seemed all the time as if she was floating in air ; a condition which was all feeling, and so smooth and pleasing that, now as before, the damaging thought was unable to make its way in.
As she went down on her way to get one or two more things for their meal in the middle of the day, the steps seemed changed. The details were the same, but there was something strangely different about them. A change had come over the woman who was going down the steps.
Then came the street, with the bright sun, the different air, the clean, morning air. Men and women were moving up and down the side-walks. A little old woman came by, walking with unequal steps, a basket on her arm ; boys and girls were talking loudly to one another in play. A meat cart came by and was quickly gone.
Two workmen in Sunday shirts, without their coats, were talking outside their door. She had to go to the store and give the man her order for meat. It had to be worked out. She had to see to it that the meat would do for two. Thought was necessary. Feeling give place to thought. The weight of her body was pulled down. Her head came up, clear and free.
"No, that will not do. Give me another quarter of a pound," she said to the storekeeper.
For there was a man up in her room. There was his need for food in addition to hers. Someone had come. Someone had come.
Yes, but there was such a great distance between her and this person. What had the man up there in her room to do with her ? He had come yesterday. She had gone on from day to day for four years, by herself. and then, yesterday, a strange man had come.
And this morning ? What had taken place ? Taken place with her, that morning ? "And give me a bone, to make some soup." How had it been possible ? A strange man. That was -- not to be talked of. She gave a look round, in surprise and pain.
On the way back she came across a friend, who was feeling very sad because the prices of fat and bread-grain were higher. Anna was pained and troubled.
"Yes ; how much will that be on the week's house-keeping accounts ?" Her friend to the amount worked out.
Anna was in fear of going back. He was there. She would be so pleased if, when she went home, nobody was there. She had a great desire to be by herself, to get things straight. To get things straight. What was her right behavior now ? What would come of it all ?
Anna's experience was not different from that of a great number of women, who when they go from the place where they have been making love and come into the street, the different air, the sidewalks full of persons going up and down, suddenly come to their senses and are surprised at what they have done.
She went up the steps with all the feeling of a married woman when she comes back to her house after she had been with another man.
On the first floor she came to a stop. a man comes out of space, out of space which is as great as . . . comes out of space to me, in my room, and has knowledge of all my past existence. Greater than I have myself. Before I took off my dress (how was I able to do that !) he had said where the three birth-marks were on my body. Comes suddenly to me and puts me in memory of things which had gone from my mind completely. All the time Anna's eyes were fixed on the design on the wall at the side of the steps.
She would have been happier to go up another two floors to her friend. There everything was safe and unchanged ; as in the four years. Give her all the story. She might have an idea what to do. But in her room a man's white shirt was hanging over the back of the seat. Everything out of order . . . . What would he be doing when she went in ? Where would he be ? By the window ? It was quite true : the curtains were new. And when they had got the others -- the old ones, she and Richard -- Richard who was dead, had been dead four years. Yes, there was no doubt that he was dead ! -- the storekeeper had said, "They are cheap at the price." He had said, word for word : "They are cheap at the price." The storekeeper had had black hair on his upper lip, cut very short, and two small lumps on his head, between his eyes and hair. They had been pointed out to her by Richard.
We became friends only yesterday. He has no right to make use of the name Anna, was her thought before, turning the hand-piece, she got the door open.
He is playing a false part. Playing a false part ! . . . and I did that with him ! She was angry, disgusted , burning at the thought of it.
He had taken the bed-covers from the day-bed, and it was pushed against the wall. The table that had been used for the early meal was clear. And Anna's bed had been made, though badly, no smoothly and well. The room was all clean and straight. As she came in, Carl was going over the floor for a second time with the long brush, taking up the last little grains of dust.
The thought came to her that Richard had sometimes done that -- the housework. But he had not ever seemed so happy about it.
She was no longer angry, disgusted, and pained at having given herself to a man who was being false with her, when she saw Carl there in front of her, resting on the hand-piece of the brush, like a true roadman stopping in his work, to have a quiet talk with some one in the street.
Her thoughts went back to the kisses of the morning, and it was Richard, only Richard, to whom she had given herself. But the man there, resting on the brush, was not Richard. The division between Richard and Carl, between the past and the present, was clear. It was no longer possible not to be conscious of it.
For years she had not seen Richard so clearly as she saw him now. He was quite different from Carl -- slower in mind and body -- and he had not ever said such things as Carl had said the day before. He had said that there was no one, who would not take a piece of grass in his mouth when on his back in a field. Richard had been a quiet man, he gave one a feeling of being safe -- (generally a short black growth on his face) ; and he was a little stiff from his hard work. His hands were not for ever on one, like this man's. This man was like a -- a tight spring. He had it in his power to be sharp and violent ; that was clear from her short experience of him.
The event of the morning had made her past with Richard come back to her as nothing had done before, and it was between them making a division.
Why had she been so foolish, when they were in bed, as to have the belief for a second that his man was Richard ? Her Richard. . . . But, after all, she had been in bed with him. It had been his arms, his arms, and his mouth. And he was not strange to her, and not unpleasing. Not now, though she had come to her senses. Strange. And the thought of what she had done would not be so bad, not so very bad, if only he would not go on saying that he was Richard.
"What are you doing there ? That's no work for you !"
"Why do you say things in that way ?"
She gave her head a sharp turn in the other direction, her mouth moving angrily. "If you ever say again that you are married to me ! Is that clear ? If you ever say that again !" She was so angry that her eyes were wet.
"But you said it yourself this morning. You said yourself that I was married to you. You gave me the name of Richard . . . . We are for one another, you and I !"
"We are not for one another at all. I have not seen you before. You came only yesterday. . . . Richard may be living. He may be living. You said so yourself. He may come back."
"Well, and what then ? What if he does come back ? What effect would that have ?" A sudden, violent look came into his eyes. They became deep and black. His lips were tight, but his voice was not loud. "It has nothing to do with me who comes, or if nobody comes. We are for one another."
His muscles became loose again. The lines of is face became soft. "It has to be, Anna. It has to be," he said again, and in his smile and his voice there was as before the deep quiet of a man who is certain.
Carl had a well-formed nose, strong arms, and eyes full of thought.
Anna was almost laughing : he was looking so foolish. In the heat of the argument he had got up on his toes, and only by a tight grip of the hand-piece of the brush was he able to keep his balance. Again the force and power of his feeling had made it no longer possible for her to have doubt of him. His violent impulses, kept in control only by the power of is brain, had made her gray eyes wide with surprise.
It was not a thought, but a sort of unconscious, feeling, half-angry, half-desiring, and in part the impulse not to give in, which gave her the knowledge that he might overcome the past which he himself had made so living, if only he would give up the fiction that he was Richard, the fiction that he himself was that past.
No, this will not do, what he's making me put up with. "How foolish !" unconsciously she put her thought into words. She was seated by the window, and the basin on her knees, her fingers hard at work cleaning and cutting up the carrots. Changing her position, she gave the basin an angry push, and let off her feelings on the carrots.
While she was working there was no look of interest on her face. It was as though her thoughts were about nothing at all. But the way she got up, brushing the carrots from her dress, and took the basic to the gas-cooker, her way of moving her body -- all was different from the motions she would have made if she had been by herself, or if she had taken no interest in the man seated at her back on the day-bed.
He was seated there,his body bent forward, his head on his hands, full of decisions which it was not possible to put into force by power of muscle or by strong desire. He was on the point of getting up angry and making his request : ". . . and if you will not, I'll take to the road again !"
But he had been on the road ; had the memory of it in his legs ; was conscious how little he had been able to make of himself without love.
One day he had said to Richard : "A man keeps putting the question to himself, how is it possible to go on in this way ? keeps putting the question and is able to get no answer, no answer at all. Like a worm that has to go a hundred thousand miles across hot sand. That's it -- a worm without earth ! That's it -- a worm without earth ! That's my existence !"
Though Carl was a man of force, with a driving power that would have done for ten, he was in need of someone to be dependent on.
He made no move. It was clear to him that if he went off he would come back the day after. His way of going on with a thing to the end, his force of mind which made him able to give effect to his purpose, kept down the wave of angry feeling which came up again and again in throat and neck.
Without turning her head she said suddenly : "No doubt you have full knowledge of what I said to my friend when the news came of Richard's death ? No doubt you have full knowledge of everything I did before I was married, as a girl, or as a baby ?" And, she was so angry that she would have been pleased to go on : Or before my birth ?
To which he made answer slowly and with weight : "No, I don't. But I do see what sort of little girl you were. Not very open about your feelings ; but not sad like other girls and boys. You didn't get tired and angry when your mother was doing your hair. You were able to go on waiting for things, and you were brightly happy without being conscious of it. I have an idea that your development with like that of an apple, which just keeps on increasing in size."
Only then did he take his head out of his hands. "All the time I've had the feeling of a deep need for something. Probably you were not every conscious of that sort of deep need. Possibly you are not conscious of it now."
so it came about hat through the words of another, whose love made all things clear. Anna saw for the first time a picture of the days when she was a girl. It made her warm and happy.
While he was talking her hands became quiet. "What are you saying ?" Deeply moved, she put the question.
My feelings being what they are, he was saying to himself, only two things are possible : I have her love, or it's all over.
"As for what you said to our friend when the news came -- the false news -- it was hard for you, as it is for any woman. It gives you a tight feeling across the heart . . . . But I see into your mind ; it did not seem possible that this blow would come to you, or that it would come at all. You're like a shaking leaf and you have the look of one. Probably, you were not ever completely certain, though you may have seemed to be so. And then the time came for you as for the others, when you had to go on living form day to day, living for nothing, nothing at all. All the time you have a deep need, a deep need, simply for someone ! I've been through it. . . Have you ? Have you been through it ?"
Anna had not ever been conscious that her relations with Richard were not complete. It had not ever seemed to her that he had a wrong idea of her ; but she had not at any time been conscious that he had full knowledge of her. Their talk had not ever been of anything but the cares of the day. And now, though Carl was in front of her, she did not make a comparison between the two men. She was rooted to the floor, conscious of nothing but disgust with herself because it had been in her mind that he was being false with her.
Two or three times, by a word, a look, a note in Carl's voice, something was touched in Anna which had till now been latent. She had had a feeling, from the night before, that in her there were wide stretches of country waiting for discovery. For some minutes she went through a new and deeply pleasing experience. But she was naturally a slow-moving person. It was not possible of her to go forward by sudden jumps. There was nothing false about her ; she was true to herself in her way of living, breathing, and acting. The connection between her existence in the present and her past with Richard was suddenly broken. Her growth had taken her on a step. The past had become unimportant and was no longer living.
As time went on, Carl had to make the discovery that being true to a person may be nothing more than waiting.
Suddenly pained by this past existence, which had been forced back into her like something from outside which was no part of her, it became necessary to keep Carl from coming near, though, at the back of the need, the desire to give way to him was becoming stronger and more full of fire. She was like a troubled sleeper without control or power of motion.
By saying he was Richard, Carl had given to the past that living force which is a property of one's earliest memories. But, with the feeling that he had, any other behavior would have been false. The woman who had at one time been living with another man was not his Anna. He, and nobody but he, had been one with her from the start. For him his fiction was true, and the true, false.
Every night, when he came back from looking for work, he was unable to take any step because of the wall which he had himself put up, and which it was not possible to take down without doing damage to his feelings. They had come to a level where the spring of existence was dry, where no current of feeling, no thought-producing argument, no physical relation was possible.
Through these weeks when she made him come and go from the house quietly and secretly. The knowledge was kept from everyone that he was sleeping in her room.
Anna's friend, Marie, was living with her sister, and had a fourth-floor room overlooking the second of the three squares. The room was no longer than the narrow iron bed which took up every inch of space between the inside wall and the window.
By the window the room was a little wider. An iron frame was placed there, with three iron legs and a wash-basin. There was no space for seat or table. when Marie had her wash in the morning, she had to get down on her knees on the bed to get her face into the water. One Sunday, after the middle meal of the day, Anna was seated on the foot of the bed and Marie was undressed in front of her, getting ready to put on her things for a walk.
In the greater room joining her, the man who was living with Marie's sister -- the man she was married to was at the war--was sleeping on the brown cushion-seat. The sister's two sons, one was eight and the other nine, where deep in thought in front of an old baby-cart in which their brother of six months--the son of the sleeping man--was resting with his small hands pushed against his face. Their discussion was on the question how to get a cart for themselves for the day.
"it's only necessary to take off the body," said the older boy, who had a screw-driver in his hand; "then we will take the wheel part."
"But do it quietly or he will make a noise."
They took out the eight screws, got the upper part lifted off on to the floor with the baby inside it, almost awake now, and went quietly out of the room with the framework and wheels. "We'll put the body on again tonight. . . . There's he's starting to make a noise !"
Then the man came out of is sleep -- he was an automobile worker--and gave one look around for the baby-cart. There was nothing in the place where it had been. but, without any doubt, there was a baby crying in the room. He gave his eyes a rub, and looking down, troubled and only half awake, saw his son. A second or two later he was smilingly taking him up and down in this arms.
It had come about by itself, by force of events. He had taken a sleeping place -- the bed of the man who was at the war. At first the table had been between the two beds, marking the limits. For the money he would have given for a poor meal in a cheap restaurant, the woman got food for all the family, and there was no money for their support. The two beds were placed side by side again.
The woman came to the doorway, her over-dress wet from washing and a rubbing-brush in her hand. "has he been crying ?" Her face was grey, the skin unelastic. But the red lips were smooth and tight and full of blood, and being open, seemed of the same quality as her wide-open questioning eyes. She was older than the automobile worker.
"Have a look at that !" he said, his face bright again, and pointing with his finger.
"That's what the two bad boys were talking about in bed last night."
She put the baby to her and gave it milk. Her milk-vessels, which were surprisingly young, were white and small and had sky-blue markings.
The machine-worker, his hands in his trousers-pockets, made no move, looking with great attention at his son's lips pulling at the milk, and at the way he put it down his throat.
In a day or two's time, it was said, the other man would be back for a rest.
The other little room was full of the sound of Marie laughing. She was in the same position on the bed as before, and was putting on, with Anna's help and in the light of her opinion, a short under-garment which she had made herself in the morning.
Without moving she put on her stockings. Her leg from the small foot to the knee was delicate, girl-like, well-formed. But after the deep mark of the stocking band, the woman was to be seen : the lines of the body became soft, rolling curves ; the skin was darker in color and in places it was rough.
The middle band of her little trousers, which were ornamented with open-work machine-stitching of a rough design went deeply into her skin, and from band up was to be seen the thin, very delicate, unexperienced back of a young girl.
Anna gave her a cotton dress with blue rounds on it. And when her head and arms had gone from view under the dress she went on with the story of what had been going on in the house between then and the time she and Anna had last been together.
First came the short, outstretched fingers, with their short wide nails, then the solid, very narrow head, all the same warm color, as if made of some strange wood, the good-looking eyes. The hair about her eyes was of a deeper color than her sweet-smelling gold hair. She had little hollows that came and went in her tight, smooth face, coming every time in such a living, pleasing way, when her little mouth would have it so.
She let herself go back, stiffly, her body outstretched and then suddenly full of the pleasure of living, gave a roll on to her side as the cushions came back into place, and put her head on Anna's knees. Anna quietly put her hands to the girl's warm face.
The noise of someone using their voice with all the force of strong lungs came from a room on the street level. the sound came against the walls with a shock and was sent rolling up the narrow square, by the fourth-floor windows, to the sky. Against an outburst for the space of a breath. Then a woman's voice getting higher.
"There, he's come to blows with her again." Marie had got up quickly. "There is trouble between them every day, but they will not be parted."
The woman who was getting the blows had taken up with another man while the man she was married to was at the war. A great number of women did it. And no one kept a secret. Marie was able to go on for hours with the story of the hate, the sad hearts, the disease and crime, the pain undergone by persons who had done no wrong, and on the other hand, of the loving care and unquestioning support which were housed in the building.
It would be the same with me, was Anna's thought ; you take another man because the man you are married to is not there or has gone from you. It goes on every day.
On the second floor, Carl was facing the street window, unmoving as a prisoner who is learning the art of waiting.
"And what if when your man comes back and sees what we've been doing, everything gets smashed to pieces ?" said the automobile worker in the other room.
A group had got together in an angle of he square : half-dressed boys and girls, with no color in their faces and ill with lung-trouble, women dressed in old pieces, men without coats on. Blue, cold faces. they had taken out into the air an old man, feeble for need of food, who had become unconscious.
A strong young workman was in the middle of the square, in the position of an archer, his body bent back almost at a right angle. With all his force he gave a pull at the string, curving his rod of thin, flat steel, five feet long and almost straight, into a half-circle. The instrument he was sending, a long piece of covered steel piping, thin as a hollow stick by the river, went straight up into the space of the summer sky, made a slow turn, bright in the sun, and came down again into the narrow, black-looking square. An instrument of danger when used by strong hands out of control, which, as it comes back to earth may do damage to the archer himself.
He sent it up again and again. All eyes were fixed on the sky. The group went nearer together ; a gray, shade-like group. All were looking up, the old man who was feeble for need of food, among them.
The sound of the bell made Elfi come to the window. "Frau Anna has got a man to see her. He is down there. . . . Had a good meal ?
"Oh, carrots ?"
A short time after, dressed up in their colored garments they went walking happily arm in arm down the road up which Carl had come so slowly weeks before.
Their legs were long, with no curving muscle to them, as thin as sticks, and they had bright green silk bands in their hair ; two little water-birds.
And Marie at her window had been looking down. Carl was there at the window a before not moving. "I say, who's the man in your room ? . . . Who is he, Anna ?"
Anna said nothing for so long that it became an answer. She was serious and troubled. And like that she went out of the room.
There would be someone there, when she went down. Not a person who was strange to her. Such an hour as that on their first morning, makes men and women come near to one another. Very near. It keeps them together. Someone would be there when she went in. And that would be comforting. The room would not be so - - so in order and free from things as it was before. . . . Was Richard living ? He said that he was Richard, and in a way that almost made her have belief. It was necessary for her to get him out of saying that, of foolishly saying that.
She would get the better of him. She would be quicker than he.
Yes, but what if Richard were not dead, after all ? What then ?
What if he was living ? . . . Then none of it was possible. It was not right to go from the man who had given one his name, without saying any more about it, and go off with another man. It was not so simple as all that. . . . All that was necessary was to keep the picture of him in her mind -- his eyes, his way of looking at her. And his great hand, so true. Yes, and the complete belief she had in him. With him she had been safe and kept from danger. That was true. Safe, completely safe ?
"What about going for a walk ?"
"Yes," said Carl slowly, looking down at his garments.
"You may put on one of Richard's white collars."
"I have no need of anything. Not a thing !"
Only me. He'll take nothing from him but me. "You say he's living but you would have me married to you !"
"That wouldn't make anything different for me," he said with a black look. And suddenly, in connection with nothing at all, and in such a way that she was certain
he had been giving though to it while she was out of the room and come to a decision to say it : "The storekeeper who said those curtains were cheap had very short black hair on his lip -- only that size -- and he had two little lumps on the upper part of his face, if you are interested. They were pointed out to you at the time."
An angry feeling went through her ; it was so unnecessary. "I have no idea where you got all that from. I'm angry with you ! It's disgusting what you're doing -- disgusting !" His face muscles became stiff. It seemed as if he had no power to do anything, a feeling such as a man has only when the very greatest wrong has been done him. The faces of a number of the persons in the road, dead Sunday faces, were touched for a second or two with interest, as they saw these two ; Anna, moving so well, long-legged, so sweet and strong, and at her side, the black-haired, uncared for man, without a collar, full of fire like a burning coal bright under a thin coating of gray.
They were walking in the direction of the town. It was the first time they had been out together. What an event for him, who had gone on foot for three months, through woods, from one country to another, to get to her ! Now he was walking by her side.
He let her go forward two or three steps, to see her way of walking, and the picture he had had of her, far off there in the steppe came back to him. She had come to him then in a light dress of smooth, dark material, like a dead woman coming back to her lover, stepping without substance down their old walk under the trees. The color went from his face, so strong was the sudden feeling which overcame him.
I'll go through years of waiting, if necessary, he said to himself, and was unhappy at waiting a minute.
Turning round, on her face the look of a person naturally wise, in her eyes the suggestion of warm, deep power, well in control, she suddenly had a sense, delicate like the blue of air, of having at some time been with him before, experiencing the same feeling as now.
"Is it possible ---"
Her sense was clear to him. His desire and his feelings, had ever been circling round the same point. "It is so."
"---That I've been here with you before ?"
They went into a road lined with trees, which went from their group of streets to the town : the road in his picture. "You were here before under the trees : it was night-time and you were waiting for me."
Richard had not ever said that. But he was certain it was true. He had seen Anna walking and waiting. The knowledge was in him, and he had put it into words.
Down all her left side, which was near him, Anna had a warm soft feeling.
Things as they are, with all their limiting conditions had gone from view. Feelings from deep down inside them, came into conscious existence. Their hearts were as one.
Anna kept out thought. She had complete belief in her feeling. and so that it might be tasted to the full, she had to give words to her feelings, she had to say the name. And she said it " "Richard." He made the secret circle complete ; he said simply : You are my love." And so they went.
"And the baby ? Now have you a desire for it ? Now have you a desire for one ?"
As her lips were opened to him, her eyes became shut. But she was a woman slow in moving.
He put the question again with his lips against hers. With the deep comfort of her answer in his heart, though she had not put it into words, he went into the garden of the beer-house with his tall woman, the woman who was married to him.
Had he not been there some time before, as a boy ? And the owner's daughter, yes, Anna, with her arm round his neck, had given the glass of milk a push in his direction.
Seated under a tree in a part of the garden which they had almost to themselves, they were for a time very near one another, as though events had not ever made Anna and Richard come together, as though chance acting in a million different ways, which makes possible errors which are ended only by death and is the designer of complete existences, had been quite overcome by the force and desire of two hearts, hearing strongly again one another's beats, as though it had been like this from the start of things.
A workman's family came to the table near by. Before seating herself, the woman quickly took out the food she had with her, and the four little ones, their noses coming only a little higher than the table edge, made a noise like a number of small birds desiring their food, when the mother-bird comes down on the edge of their resting place. And so outside existence came again into view.
Anna's head was full of thoughts again. But the event that comes to one among thousands had come to her : she was in love. She had in the power of that need which will not be put on one side, whose roots are deeper than the reason, and which is not dependent on events, or on the look, the general behavior, the special qualities of the loved one ; which is there or not there ; which has the weight of lead and as little substance as a smell ; smaller than a pin-point and as great as the earth, with the power of lifting a man into the highest pleasure or sending him into such deep pain of feeling, and making him so without hope that a rat seems happier than he. The strange thing, the secret of which is kept from man, was unfolded within her.
There was music with brass instruments at eight. The garden was full by then. Everyone came in time. Carl saw that persons seated round about were looking at them. But the relation between Anna and himself was deep and complete . Carl had gone through all the first stages, among them that of being pleased at being seen about with a woman so much to be desired. It was no longer possible for them to be touched by outside conditions of any sort. With so much going on round them, all their attention was taken up in the flight against and for one another, in which pain was given and everything put right again with a look.
A little old man, bent almost to the earth with the weight of his years, was floating from table to table under his red, blue, and green cloud of rubber air balls, like the small, black box of an airship.
They went back down the road lined with trees, which seemed full of the meaning of their earlier experience. It was in their thoughts. They went slowly and without saying anything ; two persons given to one another.
Anna made a fight. It had come upon her so quickly. And nothing had been made clear. Being in the dark made her unhappy. But suddenly with a sharp force stronger than herself, she had been griped by a feeling which for minutes together made her able, under a violent impulse to let go all that had been before, and have complete belief in Carl.
As they went through the great door, the two young birds put their heads together and said something in a low voice. Their faces and arms were burned by the sun -- Elfi had on the yellow now, and Alma the blue. They had put on one another's dresses by the water's edge.
"You're a happy woman, Frau Anna ; I am so pleased about it," said a man on the steps, and went on down. "Now and then a man does come back after he has been put down as dead. But not very frequently."
'We had news of it last night," said Elfi loudly.
"Who from ?" said the man who was now one floor down, and the answer came to Anna's ears :
"From old Bosch."
She was an old woman who was in touch with all that went on in the building, and took her stories to anyone who would give her an ear.
And what now ? was Anna's thought. and suddenly she was in the arm of her friend, feeling the wet on Marie's face. "Why didn't you say anything to me about it ? All the house had the news of it but me ! You are a one for keeping secrets ! Let me see him . . . Herr Richard, come and be seen quickly." It was dark on the steps.
"Well, and what now ?"
"How happy I am !"
And Anna herself was happy. What a weight of pleasure, was her thought. A weight of pleasure ! Full of the sense of it, she went to the door, got it open and put a light to the lamp.
It would have been possible for her to say that Carl was not Richard, that she had a lover. There was nothing in that to make a secret of. It was taken quite naturally by those living in the building that women whose men were at the war had relations with other men.
And it would have been possible for her to say, without fear of her words seeming false, that Carl was Richard. For in those eight days--from the time of their coming to the town to the start of the war--Richard had made friends with nobody, had not so much as said a word to the persons living nearest them. And four years had gone by.
But it was not those reasons, though for a second she took note of them, that made her come to a decision, but her desire and the experience which she had gone through with Carl.
The question of his being Richard or not was no longer important. She was certain he was not being false. And her feeling and experience had not been false. She was truly and completely happy. Let them all take the view that he was Richard if he and events would have it so. And as for herself, was it not her desire ?
There he was, in the room, and he gave Marie his hand, quite untroubled. Quite untroubled, with his happy face.
Oh, it was her desire, not only his ! It was her desire ! It was her desire ! . . . This violent man who was able to be as quiet as the plant there on the window-shelf. Because he was so happy and was no longer by himself . . . No longer by himself ! How good that was ! How deeply, deeply good ! . . . Marie's bright face, truly, she was laughing and crying with pleasure at the same time. Existence was good after all. Only it had gone by her for so long.
In place of the angry discussion, loud with a number of voices, of the earlier part of the day, the quiet of the square seemed to come up and in at their window. Strange notes were being made, thin and feeble. Two music players of the building were getting their instrument ready. They were instruments made by themselves ; a piano, made of a wood box, one foot eight inches long with black and white painted keys--and a violin made from an old box which had been used for Havanas.
One put the delicate little piano on to a seat they had with them, and with great care got it into position so that it would be safe and not come to pieces ; the other slowly got his violin turned over--it had a neck like a cello--and with great care let the neck come to rest against the seat. From the sound of it, it seemed that equal care was being taken with the music.
There was very little room for the great workman's hands and thick fingers of the piano-player on the keys. The two men had to keep the natural power of their motions in control, for fear their delicate little instruments would go to pieces while they were playing. So they were forced to make good music. They gave songs with the music. They had the attention of a hundred persons in the buildings. Not a sound. the babies, yes, the babies were quiet. The music came up to the three in Anna's room. The sound was sweet.
When they had done, the white-haired boy of four went on with his song "Mariechen has a baby--" He had no control over himself. He was gripped by the music. His voice went up to the sky with all the force of his lungs. He had no knowledge of anything better. His arms and legs were waving, he was so pleased about it. "It hasn't got a father."