Castle To Castle Part 6
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Those characters down there, that sinister crew, won't accept defeat! they're stubborn!
They're yelling . . . they're calling me . . .
"Make Frieda shut up . . . she won't find him . . ."
Frieda is rummaging and digging under a thornbush . . .
"Why are you shouting?"
"Le Vigan is down there . . . that's him shooting off his mouth . . . that's right . . . him and Emile . . . 'carrion!' that's what they're calling me . . . what do they think they are? . . . and their doll . . . Anita!"
I thought I'd let her in on it. She contradicts me . . .
"Forget about Le Vigan . . . you know he's in America . . ."
Lili has always been skeptical, even when I have proof . . . Especially since Denmark . . . she says Denmark didn't do me any good . . . I couldn't very well tell her there was a boat down there . . . abateau-mouchefull of phantoms . . . and that our bozos were on it . . .
I'm shaken out of my perplexity . . . a bark! what a bark!arrgh! arrgh!ah, that's Agar . . . Now Agar starts in! And Frieda with him . . . both together . . .
"They've found him! There he is!"
Lili's overjoyed! Dodard has been found.
"You'll look some more tomorrow."
But she sticks to her guns. "No, no. He's here . . . look . . . they've got him . . ."
It's Dodard all right, she picks him up . . . he doesn't ruffle his quills, he knows us . . . Lili takes him . . . fine . . . we go up to the house, we take him with us . . .
"You should have seen Le Vigan done up like a gaucho!"
She lets me say what I please . . . "Sure! sure!" I can say what I like . . . as far as she's concerned, Le Vigan is over there . . . at the end of the world . . . and that's that! . . . she's being reasonable . . . of course . . . and I'm raving . . . once and for all! I'm in bad shape? Sure, I know it . . . and not just since Denmark! I know . . . my head, my heart, those dizzy spells . . . they're bad . . . the chills aren't as bad as they were . . . but the dizzy spells . . . they make the walls rock! I don't say anything . . . the main point is this: if I were to leave Lili . . . she doesn't realize . . . all alone against all these people as I know them . . . the wolf pack . . . she wouldn't go far . . . the claimants, heirs, relatives, publishers! . . . there you've got champion scavengers! worse than those clowns down there . . . with their rotten moth-eaten scow . . . those scarecrows! . . . tax collectors, heirs, publishers . . . my, oh, my! . . . no, Lili wouldn't go far . . . she and Dodard and the hounds . . .
"Take 'em to the pound!"
Well, I wasn't dreaming at all . . . it's freezing . . . I'mtrembling . . . what have I got to tremble about? . . . fatigue? . . . that business on the waterfront? . . . I'd talked too much . . . had I? . . . what's making me shiver this way? . . . slowly we climb back up . . . Lili is carrying Dodard . . . I attend to the dogs . . .
I'm sorry . . . let's get down to brass tacks . . . these things . . . I've got to tell them . . . with my pen . . . not just any old story . . . at random . . . This story by my own hand . . . the document!
It didn't seem like anything much . . . a little river fantasy . . . a crazy boat . . . the people on it . . . but hell . . . the cold shivers . . . They really got me . . . I had to be down . . . shivering and sweating like a damn fool . . . worse than Madame Nicois . . . I caught on right away . . . an attack . . . it was an attack! No doubt about it! At the beginning of an attack you know what's going on, later you just rave . . . I'd been all right for at least twenty years . . . it was the cold down there, the waterfront . . . I'd been afraid of this . . . well, now I was in for it . . . the river wind . . .
Lili asks me what she should do . . . nothing, damn it . . . leave me alone . . . a doctor, unless his patients have turned him into a complete idiot, has only one idea . . . to be left in peace . . . he knows what malaria is . . . you've got it all your life and that's that . . . You get the "solemn shivers" . . . and you shake your bed till it creaks and cracks! . . . one fit after another . . . as regular as clockwork . . . you know exactly what to expect . . . first the shivers . . . and then right away . . . you start raving . . . you rave and rave . . . I could imagine the kind of crap . . . twenty years without an attack!
"Don't pay attention, Lili!"
I warn her . . . Sure, but tomorrow? And Madame Nicois? . . . of course . . . her dressing! . . . no . . . the day after tomorrow . . . no . . . in three days . . . I'd go back down, of course I would . . . I'd see La Publique La Publique again and her cargo of harlequins . . . of course I would . . . and I'd give their Charon a good working over! I'd make a floor mat out of that so-called Charon-half-panther, half-monkey! . . . He won't argue . . . he won't say boo . . . he'll get down on his kneesand beg . . . that phony . . . I'll smash his oar over his face . . . One! . . . again and her cargo of harlequins . . . of course I would . . . and I'd give their Charon a good working over! I'd make a floor mat out of that so-called Charon-half-panther, half-monkey! . . . He won't argue . . . he won't say boo . . . he'll get down on his kneesand beg . . . that phony . . . I'll smash his oar over his face . . . One! . . . bam! bam! I'll smash his enormous . . . I'll smash his enormous . . . ouch! ouch! ouch! ouch! . . . oar into a thousand splinters . . . like a straw . . . that enormous thing!. . . a straw?. . . no!. . . two! three! four! at last I can feel my strength . . . the whole bed is rattling, pitching groaning, rolling with it . . . I know . . . I know . . . it's nothing new . . . doesn't date from yesterday . . . with twenty or thirty percent more I'd be a little better off than with just my wounds! I'd be one hundred and thirty percent disabled at least . . . I wouldn't be working to make you laugh! to please Achille and his clique of half-assed queens . . . ah, the shame of it! ah, Volga boatmen! . . . but the boatmen have won out! . . . just take a look at the asses on the lowest of the commissars . . . asses like archbishops . . . every last one of them . . . When the fellaghas of the Nile have archbishops' asses like that, you can say we're getting somewhere . . . that's the dream of nations . . . of the whole earth . . . archbishops' asses! commissars' bellies! . . . Picasso! Boussac! . . . Mrs. Roosevelt! . . . tits and all . . . brassieres! the whole lot of them! . . . oar into a thousand splinters . . . like a straw . . . that enormous thing!. . . a straw?. . . no!. . . two! three! four! at last I can feel my strength . . . the whole bed is rattling, pitching groaning, rolling with it . . . I know . . . I know . . . it's nothing new . . . doesn't date from yesterday . . . with twenty or thirty percent more I'd be a little better off than with just my wounds! I'd be one hundred and thirty percent disabled at least . . . I wouldn't be working to make you laugh! to please Achille and his clique of half-assed queens . . . ah, the shame of it! ah, Volga boatmen! . . . but the boatmen have won out! . . . just take a look at the asses on the lowest of the commissars . . . asses like archbishops . . . every last one of them . . . When the fellaghas of the Nile have archbishops' asses like that, you can say we're getting somewhere . . . that's the dream of nations . . . of the whole earth . . . archbishops' asses! commissars' bellies! . . . Picasso! Boussac! . . . Mrs. Roosevelt! . . . tits and all . . . brassieres! the whole lot of them!
I get to wondering . . . even in my present state, clammy and shivering, what Achille can do with his hundred million a year? . . cash! does he stick it up the asses . . . of his little floozies? or his coffin? . . . He can have that supercoffin of his decorated pretty nice, embossed, inlaid . . . padded with sky-blue silk, with festoons and lattice-work and silver tears . . . and for his head? the pillow of Eternity! . . . golden feathers and fairy roses! . . . hell be cute in the funeral parlor . . . the eternal Achille! his mean eye closed at last . . . his horrible smile sandblasted . . . He won't be so bad to look at when he's dead. does he stick it up the asses . . . of his little floozies? or his coffin? . . . He can have that supercoffin of his decorated pretty nice, embossed, inlaid . . . padded with sky-blue silk, with festoons and lattice-work and silver tears . . . and for his head? the pillow of Eternity! . . . golden feathers and fairy roses! . . . hell be cute in the funeral parlor . . . the eternal Achille! his mean eye closed at last . . . his horrible smile sandblasted . . . He won't be so bad to look at when he's dead.
I'm talking big . . . trying to cheer myself up . . . hell, I'm kidding myself I I'll pass on before he does . . . I work, that hastens the end . . . he takes it easy . . . that's the ultimate secret of gerontotechnics: don't work, let other people! . . . that's the whole idea of being a pimp . . . and I, like it or not, I bring the grist to his mill . . . for his tarts . . . for his coffin . . . and I turn the millstone. "And gee-up, you donkey!" I sweat, I knock myself out . . . he looks on . . . he takes care of himself . . . naturally he'll last longer . . .
Take B! or K! . . . or Maurice . . . some Communists they'd be in my place . . . turning Brottin's mill . . . their rear ends would shrink! They'd be a little more appetizing to look at! their asses and jowls! . . . no more nylon girdles . . . no more brassieres! . . . oh, dear Archbishop Commissars! . . . ye wretched of the asshole! . . . fine and dandy! you've forced them to sit down? At the table of the people or of the Holy Ghost? and you see them multiplied! . . . prize-winning swine, that's their nature, at any kind of table! . . . what a sadist you are! . . . no remorse? no tears? . . . aren't you sorry for them? . . . those tragic destinies? those colossal martyrs? Doomed to put on blubber? more and more of it! . . .
There, there . . . I'm playing around . . . looking for effects . . . I'm going to lose you . . . and Madame Nicois' dressing? . . . where's my head? what have I been thinking? . . . fever . . . yes, of course . . . but Madame Nicois' dressing? the night! . . . everything's black! . . . shiver, shake! Let the damn bed collapse! I've been shaking it enough! Crack . . . I'm shaking it with my fever . . . a real attack . . . and my anger . . . the things they yelled at me from down there . . . "Peony!" . . . from their lousy pirate ship . . . they dared! . . . "Coward!" and "come and get it! . . ." Don't worry, I'll go . . . not once, but ten times . . . and all alone . . . they'll see me again . . . I'm boiling with indignation! . . . I'm in fusion . . . I'll burn the bed . . . I caught this "fusion" in Cameroon in 1917 . . . they'll see what they'll see! . . . I feel my pulse . . . my temperature is still going up! 104 it feels like . . . that's when you get ideas . . . wacky ideas? . . . maybe . . . I'm all balled up . . . Lower Meudon, Siegmaringen, all jumbled . . . But what about Petain? . . . oh, he was sitting pretty . . . he had the status of a Chief of State . . . like Bogomolev or Tito . . . or Gaugaule or Nasser! . . . sixteen food cards! . . . Lava! . . . Bichelonne . . . Brinon . . . Daman . . . had fewer . . . only six each . . . or eight . . . not in the same class . . . and the rest of us, imagine! . . . only one . . . hell! Ministers, Chiefsof State, nobodies! Injustice is dead! . . . all conked out! died of Injustice! and not in beauty . . . no frills, no protocol! . . . I make you laugh . . . always going on about the defunct . . . whichever way I look . . . the defunct . . . Nobody's left but Achille . . . waiting . . .
Just a minute . . . I'm pretty far gone, I'm not through yet . . . I wish the bed would cave in . . . If I could only open a gash in it . . . a watercourse . . . and me and my bed would sink! I'm sweating . . . dripping . . .
"Do you want something?"
"No, no . . . darling."
I never want anything . . . I refuse everything . . . I don't want a kiss . . . and I don't want a napkin . . . I want to reminisce . . . I want to be left alone . . . that's it . . . my memories . . . all the circumstances . . . that's all I ask . . . I live more on hatred than on noodles . . . but genuine hatred . . . no cheap imitation . . . and gratitude? . . . never mind . . . I'm chock-full of that . . . Nordling who saved Paris wanted to get me out of the clink . . . History, take note! . . . either you're a memorialist or not . . . Let's see now . . . down there? . . . on the riverfront? . . . Le Vigan? . . . Was he really dressed like a gaucho? . . . down there? Gaucho and fare collector? . . . Was Le Vigan taking the fares? . . . I've got to know . . . got to remember exactly . . . fever or no fever . . . exactitude is what counts! . . . Achille and Gertrut reject my work . . . they say I'm lying. That's right! . . . Let them try to tell me it wasn't like that in Siegmaringen! So what? . . . Short circuit? . . . I didn't see anything at all down on the riverfront . . . no La Publique La Publique . . . no ghosts! . . . Le Vigan wasn't dressed like a gaucho . . . no sombrero . . . no, he was wearing an enormous turban! hell, that's right, an enormous turban . . . I tore it off him in the fight . . . in the snow . . . but say, what did we fight about? . . . his turban was a bandage . . . he had an earache . . . . . . no ghosts! . . . Le Vigan wasn't dressed like a gaucho . . . no sombrero . . . no, he was wearing an enormous turban! hell, that's right, an enormous turban . . . I tore it off him in the fight . . . in the snow . . . but say, what did we fight about? . . . his turban was a bandage . . . he had an earache . . .
Your memory is precise, faithful . . . and then all of a sudden . . . nothing . . . it's gone . . . old age, you say . . . no! . . . I've got to get Le Vigan back! and Siegmaringen! . . . and Petain with his eighteen food cards! . . . I've got themall . . . and Laval and his Menetrel . . . I never leave them . . . and the Black Forest and the big eagle! . . . you'll see what I mean! that Hohenzollern Castle! . . . just wait! . . .
I can't make up my mind with this fever . . . Achille? . . . Gertrut? . . . one's as crummy as the other . . . But suppose they both run out on me . . . it's possible . . .
Oh, I'd made up my mind not to write any more . . . the very word "writing' has always struck me as indecent! . . . pretentious, narcissistic, "have-you-read-me?" . . . that was my reason, the only one . . . I'm just no candidate for the Pantheon . . . highest priced worms in the world! . . . Soufflot's gluttons . . . no! . . . it's not vanity that prods me . . . it's the gas, the carrots, the zwieback . . . But I risked it, I stuck my neck out . . . for the gas and the carrots . . . and for the dogs . . . they've got to eat, too . . . I haven't written much . . . but look at the hatred . . . the fury people were in . . . and still are . . . I was never so well aware of the loathing people had for me as during the months when they put me in Sonbye Hospital in Denmark . . . between two spells of solitary . . . in the cancer ward . . . I'm still trembling, but I know what I'm saying . . . nothing doubtful, nothing imaginary about it . . . in the cancer ward at the Sonbye Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark . . . and I can tell you there was screaming . . . all advanced cases . . . it was a kind of favor to put me there . . . after all it was better than the Venstre . . . besides, I was supposed to make myself useful . . . listen for the last gasps . . . ring for the nurse . . . help her to pack up the corpse . . . so she only had to roll it to the door . . . and into the corridor . . .
Everything is supposed to be so perfected, so amazingly hallucino-sanitary in Copenhagen, Denmark, enough to hit your head against the wall . . . don't believe a word of it! . . . it's just like any place else . . . I mean, it's the cleaning women whodo everything and run everything . . . in the ministries, the restaurants, the political parties, the hospitals! it's the cleaning women who have the say . . . they're the ones who sweep away records, laws, state secrets, and the dying . . . the world sleeps . . . not the cleaning woman . . . termites! . . . termites! in the morning you don't find a thing . . . your moribund friend is packed away . . . Yorick, and no alas! . . . let them scream! let them wait! . . . morphine . . . injections . . . to hell with that! . . . I was the "watcher" on duty . . . the Samaritan with the bell . . . The last sigh? tinkle! tinkle! Ship him out! one the less! . . . Ema . . . Ingrid . . . came in yawning . . . rolled the guy out . . . I know what I'm saying, I'm not making it up . . . Sonbye Hospital; department head, Professor Gram . . . excellent clinician . . . subtle, sensitive . . . oh, he never said a word to me . . . you don't talk to the prisoners . . . I was undergoing treatment, too . . . I was falling apart . . . not from cancer, not yet . . . only from the effects of the hole, the cage, Vesterfangsel . . . I'm not making up the hole either . . . it was really a hole, extra-damp, pitch dark, only a little slit near the ceiling . . . get them to show you Pavilion K in the Vesterfangsel, Copenhagen . . . travel is educational . . . Nyehavn, Tivoli, the Hotel d'Angleterre aren't the whole story . . . you won't be risking anything as a tourist . . . The advantage of the cancer ward over the prison was that there were no bars or ventilation slits . . . The windows were high and wide and looked out on a sort of meadow . . . the meadows in the north are pale . . . pale as their sky and their Baltic . . . men, clouds, sea, meadows . . . all one . . . treacherous in a way . . . easy to see sprites . . . No sprites in the cancer ward . . . I wasn't there to dream . . . but to listen for death rattles . . . to wake up Ema . . . or Ingrid . . . too soon . . . too late . . . There was one good thing about Gram, he trusted me not to take advantage of being there without handcuffs . . . all those long nights . . . to make a getaway . . . it might have been easy enough . . . but . . . Lili would have been left alone . . . and Bebert . . . and where would I have gone? . . . the police had my description everywhere . . . they'd have picked me up . . . there's fuzz all over . . . every country in theworld . . . fuzz . . . men are sex-fiends, thieves, murderers, but most of all they're fuzz . . . Sweden? . . . Malmo? . . . don't make me laugh . . . I wouldn't go a hundred yards . . . I'd be chained up worse than ever . . . tossed in the hold . . . and off to the F.F.I. . . . Delivery . . . that's the Swedish speciality! You don't believe me? . . . I'll give you the names of people who committed suicide . . . right in the ambulance . . . there . . . before my eyes . . . under the lantern . . . ah, the "right of asylum!" . . . I'd have liked to see Montherlant, or Morand, or Carbuccia try it . . . and see if they'd still be sipping cocktails with the best . . . if they'd still have their fancy apartments . . .
One advantage of this bell-ringing routine was that I had plenty of time to think . . . dying people in general are pretty noisy . . . and especially in my ward the people with cancer of the throat . . . but when you're condemned to death yourself . . . practically nothing fazes you . . . There's nothing like it . . . I didn't bat an eyelash, I just thought, I thought very clearly . . . not in a fever like now . . . pellagra interferes with your vision, you see a blur, but your head stays clear . . . you keep cool . . . all these dying people around me, two whole wards . . . it was simple to figure what would happen to me if I went back to Montmartre . . . they'd put me between two planks and saw me in half . . . caught red-handed? . . . no nonsense . . . the saw! . . . I'd heard they were taking everything! my apartment! selling everything at auction . . . and at the Flea Market . . . having a hell of a good time . . . burning the beds for firewood . . . so where could I go? the great slaking of vengeance! . . . Oh, those rabid assassins aren't as crazy as people think . . . They're sly . . . farsighted . . . even at the height of their delirium they hitch their wagon to a bank account . . . Laetitia! . . . the motto of the most frantic lighters of wrongs, torture-masters, eye-putter-outers, and ball-cutters is: "Pourvou que ca doure!"
I wasn't going to leave the Sonbye as long as they were willing to keep me for treatment . . . vitamins . . . porridge . . . "If only ittalasta!" That was my motto, too. I'd lost all my teeth . . . and about a hundred pounds . . . I've been kind of thin ever since . . . solitary doesn't do a man any good . . .We can't take it . . . I wouldn't want you to think I'm soft . . . that I need people to talk to . . . no, not at all! Silence is fine with me . . . but those Danish coolers are really rough . . . even the toughest experts-Norwegians, Finns, Swedes -agree that they're just too horrible . . . I'd like to see Mauriac, Morand, Aragon, Vaillant, and tutti tutti, them and their pipes of Pan . . . after six months in one of them! ah, Nobel and Goncourt prizewinners! and frutti! frutti! What a revelation! . . . the heavenly shits! Their crumminess coming out underneath! As for myself, I'm proud to say, my morale never cracked! my body gave way, I admit . . . piece by piece . . . red ribbons . . . gnawed away . . . the effect of the darkness and confinement . . . my being in the cancer ward didn't surprise anybody . . . pellagra? . . . cancer? . . . the nurses didn't care . . . they expected to roll me out in the corridor one fine day . . . meanwhile, I could make myself useful . . . listen carefully for that last gasp . . . ring neither too soon . . . nor too late . . . load the corpse on the truck . . . after washing it . . . and, most important, silently . . . never a word! either to the nurse when I woke her up, or to my colleagues next day . . . all in all, my presence there was very fragile . . . barely tolerated . . . useful, but no tenure . . . a trifle . . . a word . . . and out I'd go . . . What a revelation! . . . the heavenly shits! Their crumminess coming out underneath! As for myself, I'm proud to say, my morale never cracked! my body gave way, I admit . . . piece by piece . . . red ribbons . . . gnawed away . . . the effect of the darkness and confinement . . . my being in the cancer ward didn't surprise anybody . . . pellagra? . . . cancer? . . . the nurses didn't care . . . they expected to roll me out in the corridor one fine day . . . meanwhile, I could make myself useful . . . listen carefully for that last gasp . . . ring neither too soon . . . nor too late . . . load the corpse on the truck . . . after washing it . . . and, most important, silently . . . never a word! either to the nurse when I woke her up, or to my colleagues next day . . . all in all, my presence there was very fragile . . . barely tolerated . . . useful, but no tenure . . . a trifle . . . a word . . . and out I'd go . . .
One morning I don't see a soul . . . no more nurse . . . the doctors . . . ordinarily so regular . . . haven't come through . . . In two seconds flat I say to myself: this is it! . . . under certain conditions you get a total sensation of your life . . . not some other time, but right now . . . you've got a direct intuition, you know, before anything happens, that it's for you and not somebody else . . . you've got an animal certainty . . . it's human goofiness that dialectifies everything, muddles everything up . . .
Another night and day pass . . . nobody says a word to me . . . not a nurse in the ward . . . somebody dies . . . and there he stays on his side, all yellow, with his mouth wide open . . . not an intern in sight . . . nobody but me and the croakers . . . I keep ringing my bell, but nothing happens . . .
Ah, someone's there! . . . not a nurse . . . a driver . . . in the big double door . . . wide open . . . I know that man . . . the same driver that brought me . . . no, not a brute . . . strong but quiet . . . not a prison guard . . . he's in civilian clothes, a gabardine jacket . . . same material as my Poincare suit . . . a slight detail, irrelevant you may think . . . No, don't say that . . . the circumstances . . . both of us on our good behavior! nobody in the two wards but him and me and the croakers . . . not a nurse, not an assistant, not an interne . . . "Komm!" he says to me . . . he could have saved his breath . . . I knew . . . He was taking me back to the hole . . .
I can say that I've lots of memories in my crummy life . . . not the picturesque kind that don't cost anything . . . but paid for! . . . and at a very steep price . . . well, here between you and me, these circumstances mean a lot to me . . . this driver saying "Komm" in the doorway . . . not brutal or anything . . . standing there motionless . . . ready to take me back to the hole . . . on the other side of town . . . without an escort . . . without handcuffs . . . all perfectly trusting . . . in a limousine . . . and I'd be stuck there for months . . . that impression stays with me . . .
A few months in the hole means nothing to you . . . why would it . . .
It turned out to be quite a few months . . . while they were deciding whether to hand me over . . . or to keep me . . . with Article 75 on my ass . . . and every newspaper in Copenhagen dead sure that I'd sold, they didn't know exactly what, but at least the defenses of the Alps . . . Article 75 was an article of faith . . . their top-level reflections went on for years . . . should they hand me over? . . . should they let me die in prison? . . . at the hospital? . . . or someplace else?
As long as you haven't seen a civilian prison driver in the doorway, you haven't seen a thing . . .
Oh, it's no better now . . . not much better . . . to hell with the two of them! the ten! . . . the twenty! . . . the lousy skinflints! . . . Anyone who wants to work for people like that . . . can split a gut!
I talk to Norbert Loukoum about the hole . . . I do it on purpose, it gets him down . . . he's never been in . . . hell, no! . . . neither he . . . nor Achille! . . . nor Malraux! . . . nor Mauriac! . . . nor the foetus Tartre . . . nor Larengon . . . nor Triolette of the toyolette . . . the whole oily clique . . . the turncoat elite . . . who never get sick of playing the dangerous revolutionary . . . the iron men of the Iron Curtain . . . the superbazookas . . . the East-West bombshells . . . thunder on the left . . . and they're all mollycoddles . . . pensioned at birth . . . weaned from the bottle, slightly languid nurse, the dear old lycee lycee, the little boy-friend, a cushy job . . . nothing to it! . . . ten, twelve changes of skin and sweaters, and it's in the bag: that big fat chameleon pension . . . and the Promenade des Anglais! . . . a little fun in the urinals . . . distinction . . . the Academy! . . . Richelieu! . . . the old bastards! . . . never paying! . . . always paid! Terminus at the "Quai of the Slippery Eels!" . . . Under the dome of the rectums and prostates . . . "Oh, so you're one too, my dear sir . . . gender, more sensitive, a deeper licker! . . . Apotheon! . . ."
Richelieu foresaw it all! . . . Mauriac, Bourget, and Aspirine . . . At a certain stage of decadence the worst drones get to be the biggest kings! . . . Louis XIV couldn't have held a candle to Juanovici . . .
Don't get nervous if I jump around . . . if I zigzag and come back . . . that whacky business with La Publique La Publique . . . suppose you'd been there in my place! . . . suppose you'd been there in my place!
"No . . . no."
At a certain age . . . sixty-three . . . all you can do is sayno . . . no . . . and clear out . . . courtesy demands it . . . you're one too many . . . how many times have people wished you dead in the last sixty-three years? . . . too many to count . . . you'd like them to put up with you for another few months? . . . one spring? . . . two? . . . yes, yes, but then first of all you've got to be loaded! rich! . . . rich! that's the main thing! . . . and well disposed toward your heirs . . . a living Santa Claus . . . and assure them in your will . , . holographic certainty, notarized, sealed, and registered . . . that everything will go to them . . . everything to Lucien . . . nothing to Camille . . . and that you're really feeling terrible! and that you'll never make another . . . because you're on your last legs . . . last gasp . . . last everything! that it won't be long . . . that your tongue is hanging out . . . coated with black and yellow plaster . . . well, maybe in that case . . . maybe? . . . they won't think you're such an abject horrible rapacious tyrant . . . though it's the unanimous opinion . . . but watch your step . . . remember you're living on borrowed time . . . puff and blow! . . . spit yellow! . . . limp! . . . if they make you get up . . . stumble . . . collapse! . . . send for the priest . . . extreme unction does wonders for the people who set all their hopes in you . . . in your last breath! . . . it's amazing the way a dying man can shatter a family's nerves . . . the cruelty of it! . . . can't he get it over with? . . . the sadism of the "last moments" . . . extreme unction, rain check . . . ah, you moribund slowpokes, you drive everybody crazy!
I've seen people dying all over the world, in the tropics, in the ice fields, in indigence and wealth, in the pen, in power, laden with honors, leprous convicts, in revolutions, in peacetime, in artillery barrages, in showers of confetti, every stop of the de profundis de profundis organ . . . the most harrowing, I think, is dogs . . . and cats . . . or the hedgehog . . . oh, that's my experience . . . for what it's worth . . . I haven't gone out of my way . . . believe me . . . I take no pleasure in it . . . if one night I found Madeleine Jacob . . . let's say in the last stages of cancer of the womb . . . I wouldn't be like Charon . . . not at all! . . . I wouldn't disembowel her, I wouldn'tdraw and quarter her, or hang her up on a hook by her tumor . . . to drain like a putrid rabbit . . . no, without any whorish coquetry a la Schweitzer or . . . Abbe Pierre . . . no, I can say . . . I can prove it . . . that I'm the good Samaritan in person! even with the most ferocious hater . . . the most furunculous spasmodic . . . that you wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole . . . Madeleine, for instance . . . makes you puke that she should even exist . . . a syncope of ugliness! As I live and breathe, you'd see me down my feelings! I'd pat and coddle Madeleine! play the ardent lover . . . like Abbe Pierre . . . or the apostle of the organ . . . the most harrowing, I think, is dogs . . . and cats . . . or the hedgehog . . . oh, that's my experience . . . for what it's worth . . . I haven't gone out of my way . . . believe me . . . I take no pleasure in it . . . if one night I found Madeleine Jacob . . . let's say in the last stages of cancer of the womb . . . I wouldn't be like Charon . . . not at all! . . . I wouldn't disembowel her, I wouldn'tdraw and quarter her, or hang her up on a hook by her tumor . . . to drain like a putrid rabbit . . . no, without any whorish coquetry a la Schweitzer or . . . Abbe Pierre . . . no, I can say . . . I can prove it . . . that I'm the good Samaritan in person! even with the most ferocious hater . . . the most furunculous spasmodic . . . that you wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole . . . Madeleine, for instance . . . makes you puke that she should even exist . . . a syncope of ugliness! As I live and breathe, you'd see me down my feelings! I'd pat and coddle Madeleine! play the ardent lover . . . like Abbe Pierre . . . or the apostle of the "Tropic Harmonica Digest" "Tropic Harmonica Digest"!
"Last moments?" . . . Not so fast . . . I'm feverish . . . Madeleine, Schweitzer . . . the Abbe . . .
I can see them coming . . . naturally . . . they exist! Madeleine, Schweitzer, and the Abbe . . . and I receive them . . . oh, not with Charon's methods . . . I wouldn't smash their skulls in a second time . . . make them die again . . . no . . . the exact opposite . . . all gentleness . . . thebaic tenderness . . . two c.c.'s of morphine . . . why not? . . . Sydenham said long ago (1650) that he could cure anything he pleased, any ailment whatever, with four or five ounces of opium . . . that's why I tell my colleagues: don't waste your opium . . . maybe there'll be a war . . . restrictions . . . they promise this . . . they promise that . . . but your death agony? . . . you can't expect Blablablah, to help you . . . later! . . . oh, of course! . . . as late as possible . . . when your time's up . . . your own little private supply . . . everything in its time . . . moderation in all things . . .
There's nothing moderate about my memory . . . not by a damn sight . . . it thrashes and shakes like my bed . . . and that Madame Nicois . . . look at this fit she's got me into . . . with her riverfront! . . . the chills! . . . the draft! . . . I've caught my death! . . . and all these tormented souls . . . and La Publique La Publique? . . . La Publique La Publique . . . I had plenty to hold against her . . . that capricious old bag with her cancer . . . all that gas-blowing on the riverfront with that gang of hoods . . . those insulting stinkers! "Peony" they called me . . . peony! . . . they dared! . . . the shameless bastards! . . . I had plenty to hold against her . . . that capricious old bag with her cancer . . . all that gas-blowing on the riverfront with that gang of hoods . . . those insulting stinkers! "Peony" they called me . . . peony! . . . they dared! . . . the shameless bastards!
Ambassador Carbougniat, as Vichyssois as Brisson, as mucha Doriotist as Robert . . . you should have seen his tantrums . . . His Excellency! . . . don't send me to Vincennes! . . . boy, did he shake his Embassy bed, sixty-nine fits in a row, chewing whole mouthfuls out of his gobelins . . . it was really alarming! . . . looked like he was going to eat the whole Embassy . . . the furniture and the files . . . everything . . . They had to promise him a "super-class" job in the other hemisphere . . . he was getting sicker than me . . . having me there so near to him, in the Vesterfangsel . . . suffering agonies . . . because they didn't impale me . . . he claimed I'd insulted Montgomery . . . and the Fuhrer . . . and Prince Bernadotte . . . you should have seen the letters he wrote to the Baltavian ministers . . . regular ultimatums! I've seen copies . . .
Lying here now in my fever, I tremble as much as he did . . . I wet the bedclothes . . . oh, but I'm not goofy enough to forget what I was . . . the prize package . . . the, gilt-edged quarry of the chase . . . Glory! Bravery! Supreme Flunkeydom! even here like this, worn to a frazzle, a tottering wreck, I still get the same effects . . . Line up on the line . . . no deviations . . . The living proof is that they throw me out of everywhere . . . invariably . . . like forty-five chancres . . . everywhere . . . everything . . . the one and only genuine shithead: Ferdinand!
And I've seen them all at work . . . with their asses . . . all smeared with vaseline . . . licking everybody's balls . . . I know their names and addresses . . . same as the addresses of my moving-men and would-be assassins! I'm still here, only one foot in the grave . . . and I know their ages . . . their birthdates, every last one of them . . . I say them over to myself . . . their birthdates . . . I see their big moments of happiness . . . kick! trample! . . . in a vision! . . . they'll be a thousand times worse . . . a thousand times luckier next time . . . they've said as much . . . they've taken their positions . . . some positions! . . . I see them . . . I see them . . . over 102 you see everything . . . fever must be good for something! . . . I never forget a thing! . . . never! . . . it's my nature . . .
Yes, of course . . . after eight months in the hole . . . I was falling apart . . . but I've told you that over and over . . . hell! . . . I'm boring you . . . Anyway, I've got other worries! my respect . . . my courtesy . . . go out to different people . . . Achille, for instance . . . him and his surplus profits . . . ninety million a year . . . not bad! . . . and already a billionaire! the superstinker! an army of flunkeys and flunkettes sticking their tongues in all his holes, but does that keep him from sighing and screaming and yelling? Torture! Bloody murder! It's not enough! the tongues aren't juicy enough! not enough gold nuggets in the books! they're burning him alive . . . his scribbler galley-slaves are leading him a dog's life! . . .
The fever's dropping . . . I'm really not raving any more . . . delirium? . . . delirium? . . . no, reflection! . . . "Destiny is Politics!" . . . that's right That's Bonaparte's opinion . . . okay! Communists? . . . Good, let's commune . . . Achille, for instance . . . tiller to the left . . . how much will he give next time? . . . everything and then some! . . . the Pontoise bridge and the Arch of Triumph! . . . and Mgr. Feltin, Lacretelle, and all the choir boys! Lacretelle and Monsieur Robert if you like, with Article 75 on their asses, would they let so much as a fart or find anything better to do? . . . well? . . . I can see Loukoum, a prelate if ever there was one . . . the feebleminded are all for him! . . . his flabby vagina-shaped puss . . . so prehensile! . . . so sticky! . . .
I'm still hot . . . I'm slinging balloon juice . . . I'm sorry . . . No! Loukoum would be even more unbearable than all the stinkers from La Publique La Publique! If Charon saw him, he'd give up! No violence . . . he'd go soft . . . he wouldn't stir up his skull with his oar . . . Make him recite the divine Sade backwards? . . . Maybe . . .
I know . . . I know . . . I missed Charon! . . . If I'd stayed a minute longer, I'd have seen him! . . . Le Vigan and the others must have seen him . . . My excuse is . . . I felt the fever coming on . . . and I had another excuse . . . I'll tell you about it . . .
To hell with all that! . . . I can take you on an excursion with different people . . . delirium or not . . . a prettier place! . . . fever or no fever . . . really a very picturesque place . . . a tourist's paradise . . . dreamy, historical, and salubrious . . . ideal for the lungs and the nerves . . . perhaps a little damp near the river . . . the Danube . . . the shore . . . the rushes . . .
Maybe I shouldn't talk Siegmaringen up . . . but what a picturesque spot! . . . you'd think you were at an operetta . . . a perfect setting . . . you're waiting for the sopranos, the lyric tenors . . . for echoes you've got the whole forest . . . ten, twenty mountains of trees! Black Forest, descending pine trees . . . waterfalls . . . your stage is the city, so pretty-pretty, pink and green, semi-pistachio, assorted pastry, cabarets, hotels, shops, all lopsided for the effect . . . all in the "Baroque boche" and "White Horse Inn" style . . . you can already hear the orchestra . . . the most amazing is the Castle . . . stucco and papier-mache . . . like a wedding cake on top of the town . . . And yet . . . if you'd take the whole business . . . the Castle, the town, the Danube to the Place Pigalle! . . . the crowd you'd draw! . . . the Ciel, the Neant and the Lapin a Gill wouldn't hold a candle to it . . . Christ, the tourist buses you'd need . . . the brigades of police . . . the crowd! . . . and all ready to pay!
In our time, I've got to admit, the place was gloomy . . . tourists, sure . . . but a special kind . . . too much scabies, too little bread, and too much R.A.F. overhead . . . and Leclerc's army right near . . . coming closer . . . the Senegalese with their chop-chops . . . for our heads . . . nobody else's . . . right now I'm reading the paper . . . they're weeping over the fate of those poor Hungarians . . . if we'd been welcomed like them . . . if anybody'd spilled so many tears over our misfortunes, we'd have been very happy, I can tell you! we'd have danced the polka. If those poor Hungarian refugees had had Article 75 on their asses, Coty wouldn't have kept them for dinner . . . hell no! . . . if they'd been plain Frenchmen from France, he'd have cut them in two on the spot. . . in ten if they'd been war cripples . . . especially with the Medaille Militaire! Medaille Militaire! French sensibility is stirred by anything that's against France . . . the heart of France goes out to its professed enemies! masochistic to the death! French sensibility is stirred by anything that's against France . . . the heart of France goes out to its professed enemies! masochistic to the death!
For us there in the attics, cellars, and broom closets, starving, I can assure you there was no operetta . . . our stage was full of men condemned to death . . . 1,142 of us . . . I knew the exact number . . .
I'll have more to say about this picturesque spot! it wasn't just a watering place and a tourist haven . . . tremendously historical! . . . A Shrine! . . . take a bite out of that castle . . . stucco, bric-a-brac, gingerbread in every style, turrets, chimneys, gargoyles . . . unbelievable . . . super-Hollywood . . . every period from the melting of the icecap, the narrowing of the Danube, the slaying of the Dragon, the victory of St. Fidelis down to William II and Goering.
Bichelonne had the biggest head of us all . . . not only a champion of Polytechnique and the ecole des Mines . . . History! Geotechnics! . . . He was an electronic brain! He had to tell us the which and the why! explain the crotchets of the Castle! every last one! did he know why it leaned south rather than north? . . . why those ramshackle chimneys, those wormeaten battlements and drawbridges leaned more to the west? . . . that goddam cradle of the Hohenzollerns! perched on its rock . . . out of kilter! lopsided all over . . . inside, outside! every room and passageway . . . the whole business! all ready to topple into the water for the last fourteen centuries! . . . go see for yourself . . . cradle and den of the worst pack of rapacious wolves in Europe! some Shrine! and believe me it wobbled under the squadrons, the thousands and thousands of Flying Fortresses bound for Dresden, Munich, Augsburg . . . by day and by night . . . all the little stained-glass windows cracked and fell in the river . . . you'll see!
All the same, this castle of Siegmaringen, this whole fantastic lopsided chunk of trompe-l'oeil managed to hold out for thirteen . . . fourteen centuries . . . Bichelonne didn't hold out at all . . . graduate of Polytechnique, minister, amazing mind . . . he died at Hohenlychen in East Prussia . . . pure coquetry . . . lunacy . . . went up there to be operated, have a fracture fixed . . He had visions of himself going back to Paris on the double beside Laval, triumphant . . . Arch of Triumph, Champs-Elysees, the Unknown Soldier . . . he was obsessed by his leg . . . it doesn't bother him anymore . . . the way they operated on him up there at Hohenlychen, I'll tell you about it . . . the witnesses have gone out of existence . . . so has the surgeon . . . Gebhardt, war criminal, hanged! . . . not for the way he operated on Bichelonne! . . . for all sorts of genocides, little intimate Hiroshimas . . .oh, not that Hiroshima makes me flip! . . . look at Truman, how happy he is, pleased with himself, playing the harpsichord . . . the idol of millions of voters! . . . the widower of millions of widows' dreams! . . . Cosmic Landru! . . . playing Amadeus' harpsichord . . . just wait a while . . . kill a lot of people and wait . . . that does it . . . not just Denoel! . . . Marion . . . Bichelonne . . . Beria . . . tomorrow B. . . . K. . . . H! The line forms to the right . . . shaking, stamping . . . yelling to get in . . . to be hanged quicker and shorter . . . roasted to a crisp . . . the whole National Assembly, the six hundred . . . listen to them, the state they're in, their impatience to be fed to the lions!
We 1,142 had other things to do beside looking at the landscape . . . we had to find our daily bread . . . myself, I've got to admit, I can get along on very little, but there, same as laterin the north, we were really starving, not temporarily for the diet, no, this was serious . . .
All pretty miscellaneous! I read it over . . . How can I expect you to understand all this . . . not to lose the thread . . . my humblest apologies! . . . If my voice wavers, if I jibber-jabber, I'm no worse than most guides . . . you'll forgive me when you know the whole story . . . definitely! . . . so bear with me . . . I'm lying here . . . making my bed quake . . . all for you . . . getting my memories together . . . I need the fever to boil me up . . . to put the details in place . . . and the dates . . . I don't want to mislead you . . .
In that teetering lopsided barn . . . twenty manor houses one on top of the other . . . there was a library . . . that was really something . . . a treasure . . . amazing . . . well come back to that, I'll tell you . . .
For a while the 1,142 . . . Leclerc's army is coming closer . . . closer . . . were shaken with worry . . . with a desire to know more . . . more and more especially the intellectuals . . . and we had our quota of intellectuals in Siegmaringen . . . real cerebral types, serious . . . like Gaxotte could almost have been . . . none of your sad sacks from the cafe terraces, ambitious alcoholics, mental defectives with an idea now and then, squinting from charm to charm, from urinal to urinal Slavs, Hungarians, Yankees, Mings, from commitment to commitment, from one Mauriaco-Tarterie to the next, from cross to sickle, from pernod to pernod, from coat to coat, from envelope to envelope . . . no, nothing in common! . . . all really serious intellectuals! . . . not the gratuitous, verbal kind . . . but ready to pay and paying . . . with Article 75 on their ass! . . . real lamppost fodder . . . flawless intellectuals . . . dying of hunger, cold, and scabies . . . Well, they were anxious to know if ever, down through the ages . . . there had ever been a clique, a caste, a gang as hated, as cursed as us, as furiously expected and searched for by hordes of cops (ah, lily-livered Hungarians!) to stick banderillas in us, fry us, or impale us . . .
It took a lot of research . . . and I can assure you that ourintellectuals investigated . . . all the lousy stinking bastards that had been tortured in one place or another . . . Spartacists . . . Girondins . . . Templars . . . Communes . . . We examined all the Chronicles, Codes, Libels . . . we weighed and sifted . . . we compared . . . were we . . . could we be . . . as stinking . . . as fit to throw on the dump, to spit on pitchforks, as Napoleon's friends? . . . after they'd shipped him to St. Helena . . . were we? . . . Especially his Spanish friends . . . the hidalgo collaborationists! . . . the Josefins! Good name to remember! . . . that's what we were . . . Adolfins Adolfins! . . . the Josefins Josefins got theirs all right . . . all the Javerts of the day on their ass! Practically the same hue and cry . . . as us, the 1,142 . . . with Leclerc's army in Strasbourg . . . and its chop-chop Senegalese! . . . (and the Hungarians complaining about the Tartars . . . Christ!) got theirs all right . . . all the Javerts of the day on their ass! Practically the same hue and cry . . . as us, the 1,142 . . . with Leclerc's army in Strasbourg . . . and its chop-chop Senegalese! . . . (and the Hungarians complaining about the Tartars . . . Christ!) Which shows you that that imperial library was rich, rich in everything . . . amazing what you could find there . . . fertilize your mind in every field . . . manuscripts, memoirs, incunabula . . . you should have seen our intellectuals climbing up ladders, Ph.D.'s, Academicians, graduates of the ecole Normale, all ages, expelled Immortals, rummaging through all that . . . ardent! feverish! . . . Latin, Greek, French . . . that was culture . . . and scratching their itch at the same time . . . on top of every ladder . . . and each one wanting to be right . . . each standing by his manuscript . . . his chronicle . . .. that we were more hated or less than Joseph's collaborators . . . that the price on our heads was higher . . . or lower? . . . in francs . . . or in the escudos of the period . . . a Dean of the Faculty of Law inclined to "more" . . . an Immortal to "less" . . . We voted: fifty-fifty! The future is in the hands of God! Hell! The Immortal was way off! The events have proved that . . . the calvary of the Adolfins Adolfins was infinitely more ferocious than all the other vengeances end to end! as sensational as the H-bomb! . . . a hundred thousand times more powerful than our piddling shells of '14! Super-hunt! sensational kill and forever . . . none of us will ever see the end of it! . . . Saint Louis, the bum . . . it's for him we're expiating . . . the brute! the torturer! . . . and they made him a saint . . .who baptized a round million Israelis by force . . . in the beloved south of our beloved France-that guy was worse than Adolf! . . . which shows you what you can learn on the top of a ladder . . . ah, Saint Louis! . . . canonized in 1297 . . . We'll come back to him! was infinitely more ferocious than all the other vengeances end to end! as sensational as the H-bomb! . . . a hundred thousand times more powerful than our piddling shells of '14! Super-hunt! sensational kill and forever . . . none of us will ever see the end of it! . . . Saint Louis, the bum . . . it's for him we're expiating . . . the brute! the torturer! . . . and they made him a saint . . .who baptized a round million Israelis by force . . . in the beloved south of our beloved France-that guy was worse than Adolf! . . . which shows you what you can learn on the top of a ladder . . . ah, Saint Louis! . . . canonized in 1297 . . . We'll come back to him!
As long as we're here as tourists, I might as well tell you something about the treasures, the tapestries, the woodwork, the plate, the armories-trophies, armor, banners . . . every floor was a museum . . . not to mention the bunkers under the Danube, the fortified tunnels . . . How many holes, hiding places, dungeons had those princes, dukes, and gangsters dug? . . . in the muck, in the sand, in the rock? fourteen centuries of Hohenzollerns! secretive diggers! . . . their whole history was under the Castle, the doubloons, the slain, hanged, strangled, and mummified rivals . . . the top, the visible part, all phony, trompe-l'oeil, turrets, belfries, bells . . . for the birds! a mirror for skylarks! . . . the real thing was underneath: the family fortune . . . the skeletons of the kidnapped, the caravans of the Danube gorges, the treasures of Florentine merchants, adventurers from Switzerland, Germany . . . that's where their adventures had landed them, in the dungeons under the Danube . . . fourteen centuries of dungeons . . . oh, they were far from useless . . . a hundred times! . . . a hundred air-raid alarms! they saved our lives . . . you should have seen the swarming and scurrying! the crowd under the Danube in those pluricentenary weasel holes . . . families, babies, papas, dogs . . . Kraut soldiers and guards of honor, ministers, admirals, Landsturm Landsturm men, and the wrecks of the men, and the wrecks of the Fidelis Fidelis and the P.P.F. and the screwballs from all over . . . and Darnand's men, groping their way from catacomb to catacomb . . . looking for a tunnel that wouldn't cave in . . . and the P.P.F. and the screwballs from all over . . . and Darnand's men, groping their way from catacomb to catacomb . . . looking for a tunnel that wouldn't cave in . . .
So familiar with the Castle? . . .you must think I was in good with the Court . . . oh, not at all . . . I wasn't a guest . . . don't get me wrong . . . I didn't have sixteen food cards . . . or eight . . . just one . . . That's what situates a man:the Card . . . I was admitted to the Castle, yes . . . but not to eat . . . to keep tabs . . . how many cases of flu? how many pregnant women? new cases of scabies? . . . and how much morphine had I left? . . . how much camphorated oil . . . ether? . . . and the state of my infants . . . on that point Brinon had to listen to me . . . I went to town . . . the way they were dying on usl . . . six a week! . . . they were killing off our babies on purpose . . . absolutely . . . with raw carrot soup . . . I mean it . . . all children of collaborators . . . infanticide . . . absolutely intentional . . . the real hatred of the Germans, I might say in passing, was directed against the "collaborators" . . . not so much against the Jews, who were so powerful in London and New York . . . or against the Fifis, who were supposed to be "the Vrance of tomorrow" . . . pure and sure . . . but against the "collabos," "collabos," the dregs of the universe, who were there at their mercy, really weak and helpless, and their kids who were even weaker . . . let me tell you: the Nuremberg trials need doing over! . . . they did plenty of talking, but all lies, nothing to do with the case, beside the point . . . Tartuffes! . . . the dregs of the universe, who were there at their mercy, really weak and helpless, and their kids who were even weaker . . . let me tell you: the Nuremberg trials need doing over! . . . they did plenty of talking, but all lies, nothing to do with the case, beside the point . . . Tartuffes! . . .
This children's camp in Cissen was a morgue operated on raw carrot soup, a Grand Guignol nursery run by phony doctors, Tartar charlatans, sadistic maniacs . . .
Naturally Brinon knew all that, I wasn't telling him anything new . . . but there was nothing he could do about it.
"I'm sorry, doctor, I'm sorry."
Brinon, "animal of darkness, secretive, very taciturn and very dangerous . . ."
"Watch your step, doctor . . . Watch your step."
Bonnard warned me . . . Abel Bonnard knew him well . . . I have to admit that with me, in our work together, Brinon was always correct, regular . . . and he' could perfecdy well have reported some of the wisecracks that were attributed to me . . . in public and in private . . . that Germany was through . . . Adolf on the skids . . . it would have been easy for Brinon to have me sent someplace . . . "animal of darkness" . . . or not . . . he didn't . . . the Parties were suspicious of me, too . . . Bucard, Sabiam, etc. . . . the Milice Milice . . . because I wasn't a member of anything . . . that I ought to be in a camp . . . faraway . . .
Public opinion is always right, especially when it's really idiotic . . .
Oh, of course I had reason to distrust Brinon, that "animal of darkness" . . .
After we had exchanged our reports, complaints, and counter-complaints, I went to see the patients . . . in the Castle . . . from floor to floor, three or four every morning . . . I knew the place well . . . the corridors and the hangings, the real doors and false doors . . . the corkscrew stairways, cutting across wainscoating and beams . . . enough dark comers to be knifed in a thousand times over . . . and be left there to dry for centuries . . . the Hohenzollerns didn't deprive themselves . . . experts in traps and tipping corridors . . . and down into the void! . . . plunging into the Danube! . . . the Dynasty . . . mother of Europe. . . more than a thousand murders a day! . . . what did you think? . . . for eleven centuries! . . . Bluebeard's a piker with his six floozies in a closet! What could he ever expect to found? . . . And what did that make me look like, griping about their killing off my children with carrots . . . Brignon certainly agreed with me . . . but a lord vassal like him . . . he found it healthier to keep quiet . . . "Graf von Brinon" . . . said the sign on his door . . .
A funny thing was the orderlies, all of the regular French army, elite regiments . . . decorated . . . they must have had orderlies like that in London . . . the same? . . .
Laval's floor . . . I attended Laval now and then . . . I never came near Petain . . . Brinon had suggested me, Menetrel had just been arrested . . . "I'd rather die right away!" . . . that was the impression I made on Petain, same as the people around here in Lower Meudon . . . or in Sevres . . . or Boulogne . . . or my mother-in-law . . . hell I don't mind . . . you get used to having nobody like you . . . good riddance! good riddance! actually it's ideal . . . but how areyou going to eat? . . . total isolation is all very well if you can afford it . . . to be disliked and grow old on your income! . . . that's true happiness! . . . to never never be pestered! . . . a dream! Easy for rich people, Achille for instance . . . yes, Achille . . . but he's not so dumb . . .
So I knew that Castle very well, every nook and cranny, but nothing like Lili . . . she was really at home . . . all the hiding places and labyrinths! the trick tapestries with exits through goddesses; the apartments, boudoirs, cupboards with triple bottoms, corkscrew stairways . . . all the false exits, all the zigzags and interlocked landings . . . riddles . . . should you go up? or down? . . . really a castle to get lost in . . . the lost corners . . . the work of centuries of Hohenzollerns. . . in every known style . . . Barbarossa, Renaissance, Baroque, 1900 . . . From one door to the next! could get lost . . . I was fascinated by the portraits . . . the mugs on that lousy family . . . prolific! . . . corridors and statues . . . equestrian and recumbent . . . every which way . . . Uglier and uglier Hohenzollerns . . . with arbalasts . . . in helmets, breastplates . . . court dress . . . Louis XV-style . . . and their bishops! . . . and their executioners! with axes this big! . . . in the darkest corridors . . . The painters didn't knock themselves out in those days, they put all the same profiles on them . . .
Me complaining to Brinon that the doctors were liquidating our kids! a look at the profiles of those princes was all I needed . . . those boys must have been rough liquidators: hunchbacks, beer bellies, soldiers, bowlegs . . . and not just children . . . What were we doing in Siegmaringen anyway? . . . kids or no kids! . . . running away from our destiny, which was to have our bowels stewed, our cocks cut in little pieces, our skins turned inside out . . . And where had it got us? I did quite a lot of meditating in the Hohenzollern corridors . . . from one portrait to the next . . . I can say that those princes attracted me . . . especially the ones from the distant past . . . heads three, four times bigger than Dullin's, faces without shame, horribly ferocious . . . one look at them and you knew: those were creators of Dynasties! . . . Bonaparte seemsmore like a young lady-fine features, delicate hands a la Fragonard . . . but these Hohenzollerns, especially the early ones, when you see them you say: "What a bunch of Landrus!" . . . Another . . . even worse . . . Tropman! . . . The spit and image of Deibler! . . . a whole string . . . more and more treacherous . . . more and more cruel . . . grasping . . . monstrous! . . . hundreds of thoroughbred Landrus! . . . three . . . four stories of Landrus! Landru cousins . . . And down below . . . maces . . . scythes . . . spurs . . . slings . . . more and more sadistic! . . . Landru dauphins! not the timid Landru of Gambais! . . . puny, furtive, with a ramshackle stove picked up at the auction rooms . . . no! . . . these Landrus were sure of themselves! . . . the genuine article . . . nom de Gott nom de Gott . . . lances, breastplates, the whole works! coats-of-arms . . . lances, breastplates, the whole works! coats-of-arms mit uns mit uns . . . whole floors of portraits! . . . the boot of . . . whole floors of portraits! . . . the boot of Gott Gott . . . no little rippers-up of fiancees . . . oh no! . . . all imperial torture masters! . . . the whole line! . . . fryers of duchies! . . . towns, fortresses, cloisters . . . roast 'em on the spit! like it or not! kettles! . . . kettles! . . . . . . no little rippers-up of fiancees . . . oh no! . . . all imperial torture masters! . . . the whole line! . . . fryers of duchies! . . . towns, fortresses, cloisters . . . roast 'em on the spit! like it or not! kettles! . . . kettles! . . .
Castle To Castle Part 6
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Castle To Castle Part 6 summary
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