Castle To Castle Part 7

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Those mugs . . . whole processions of them . . . fascinating . . . between patients, between doors, I went to see them . . . especially the ones of the twelfth, thirteenth century . . . wait till you see them! all monsters! really? . . . that's easily said . . . but when you take a good look at them and think it over . . . more like devils . . . cloven hoofed! . . . with lances! . . . horns! . . . founders of dynasties! that family resemblance! demons! . . . it was when they stopped being devils that their family collapsed! . . . same with all Empires . . . I can see the Russkis slipping . . . B and K and M . . . look Luciferian enough . . . but they're not so sure of themselves . . . they put on airs, they wag their tanks, they dialectalize . . . they'll see . . . Lenin! . . . Stalin! . . . that was the real article! Satans a thousand-percent! . . . that's what the faces were like in the Hohenzollern galleries! five stories of them! plus the turrets! . . . founders with no nonsense about them! dynasties that last!

I'm a bit of an alchemist . . . you've probably noticed . . .but serious! . . . I'm not telling you any fairy tales . . . I weigh the pros and cons . . . I've shown you La Publique La Publique, now we're touring in the thick of History . . . diversity is my law! . . . Siegmaringen Hohenzollern! . . . you've got a good laugh coming to you . . . and the fascination of those portraits, busts, statues . . .

From one turn to the next, I got lost . . . I'm telling you, I admit it . . . Lili or Bebert found me . . . women have an instinct for labyrinths, for ins and outs . . . they find their way . . . animal instinct . . . it's order that stymies them! . . . the absurd is their dish . . . to them the whacky is normal . . . the Fashion for cats . . . attics, mazes, old barns . . . they're drawn irresistibly by Gothic manses . . . that we'd better stay out of . . . they're funny that way . . . that's embryogeny, the pirouettes and somersaults of the gametes . . . the perversity of the atoms . . . animals are the same way . . . take Bebert! . . . he'd peekaboo me through the transoms . . . brrt! brrt! . . . . . . brrt! brrt! . . . big joke! . . . I couldn't see him. . . teasing me . . . cats, children, ladies have a world of their own . . . Lili went where she pleased all over the castle of the Hohenzollerns . . . from one maze of corridors to the next . . . from the bell-tower way up in the air to the armory on a level with the river . . . by sheer instinct! . . . reason!! only mix you up . . . wood or stone spirals, ladders . . . bends . . . up or down? . . . hangings, tapestries, false exits . . . all traps . . . even with a map you're lost . . . assassins in every corner . . . troubadours, bats, vagrant sprites . . . there's nothing you won't run into, I'm telling you, from one false exit, one false drapery to the next . . . on my way from Brinon's, or Marion's . . . or Y's . . . or Z's . . . I'm only giving you the names of dead people . . . I'll leave the survivors alone . . . the dead will do! . . . the ones who died in Spain . . . and the ones who ended up somewhere else . . . leave the gossip to the new Tacitus . . . I hear he's already been born . . . good! about the Castle he'll have to consult me . . . by that time it'll have toppled! . . . that worm-eaten wreck . . . equilibrium isn't eternal . . . fallen into the Danube . . . the . . . big joke! . . . I couldn't see him. . . teasing me . . . cats, children, ladies have a world of their own . . . Lili went where she pleased all over the castle of the Hohenzollerns . . . from one maze of corridors to the next . . . from the bell-tower way up in the air to the armory on a level with the river . . . by sheer instinct! . . . reason!! only mix you up . . . wood or stone spirals, ladders . . . bends . . . up or down? . . . hangings, tapestries, false exits . . . all traps . . . even with a map you're lost . . . assassins in every corner . . . troubadours, bats, vagrant sprites . . . there's nothing you won't run into, I'm telling you, from one false exit, one false drapery to the next . . . on my way from Brinon's, or Marion's . . . or Y's . . . or Z's . . . I'm only giving you the names of dead people . . . I'll leave the survivors alone . . . the dead will do! . . . the ones who died in Spain . . . and the ones who ended up somewhere else . . . leave the gossip to the new Tacitus . . . I hear he's already been born . . . good! about the Castle he'll have to consult me . . . by that time it'll have toppled! . . . that worm-eaten wreck . . . equilibrium isn't eternal . . . fallen into the Danube . . . the Schloss Schloss and its library! labyrinths! . . . woodwork! porcelain and dungeons! . . . into the drink! with its memories! . . . and all its thousands of princes and kings! down into the delta! . . . ah, crashing, impetuous Danube! the river will carry it all away! . . . ah and its library! labyrinths! . . . woodwork! porcelain and dungeons! . . . into the drink! with its memories! . . . and all its thousands of princes and kings! down into the delta! . . . ah, crashing, impetuous Danube! the river will carry it all away! . . . ah Donau blau! Donau blau! . . . my ass! . . . crashing fury, carrying off the Castle and its bells . . . and all its demons! . . . Don't be bashful! Do your stuff I and the trophies and the armor and the banners, and the trumpets loud enough to shake the whole Black Forest, so vibrant that the pine trees can't take it! . . . they totter and fall . . . in avalanches . . . and that's the end of enchanted castle, ghosts, triple cellars and potteries! Apothecaries and pots! . . . porphyry Apollos! . . . ebony Venuses! all carried away by the torrent! and the Huntress Dianas! whole floors of Huntress Dianas! . . . Apollos! . . . Neptunes! . . the loot of demons in breastplates, ten centuries of pillage! the work of seven dynasties! you'll see when you get there, the warehouse of superloot . . . I won't try to outdo Tacitus, but you can imagine that ten centuries of demon gangsters is something! . . . and kings to boot! and that the Rome-Prussia traffic was nothing to sneeze at, those caravans of fat merchants! . . . ah, Dianas! . . . Venuses! . . . Apollos! . . . antiques! . . . Cupids! . . . traveling merchants! You can imagine whether the princes helped themselves! . . . the Hohenzollerns! . . . the gangsters of the Danube! . . . whether they furnished their barn!.,. . . with really very nice things! . . . I'm a good judge . . . I saw Petain's apartment . . . his seven drawing rooms on the seventh floor . . . and Gabold's on the fourth . . . all Dresden . . . floors of rosewood marquetry . . . marvelous workmanship . . . you couldn't duplicate it for billions today . . . the skills are gone . . . or those little tea services! . . . oh no! . . . or Laval's place on the third floor . . . First Empire . . . bees, eagles . . . perfection . . . the velvets . . . authentic Lyons . . . they don't make them anymore . . . . . . my ass! . . . crashing fury, carrying off the Castle and its bells . . . and all its demons! . . . Don't be bashful! Do your stuff I and the trophies and the armor and the banners, and the trumpets loud enough to shake the whole Black Forest, so vibrant that the pine trees can't take it! . . . they totter and fall . . . in avalanches . . . and that's the end of enchanted castle, ghosts, triple cellars and potteries! Apothecaries and pots! . . . porphyry Apollos! . . . ebony Venuses! all carried away by the torrent! and the Huntress Dianas! whole floors of Huntress Dianas! . . . Apollos! . . . Neptunes! . . the loot of demons in breastplates, ten centuries of pillage! the work of seven dynasties! you'll see when you get there, the warehouse of superloot . . . I won't try to outdo Tacitus, but you can imagine that ten centuries of demon gangsters is something! . . . and kings to boot! and that the Rome-Prussia traffic was nothing to sneeze at, those caravans of fat merchants! . . . ah, Dianas! . . . Venuses! . . . Apollos! . . . antiques! . . . Cupids! . . . traveling merchants! You can imagine whether the princes helped themselves! . . . the Hohenzollerns! . . . the gangsters of the Danube! . . . whether they furnished their barn!.,. . . with really very nice things! . . . I'm a good judge . . . I saw Petain's apartment . . . his seven drawing rooms on the seventh floor . . . and Gabold's on the fourth . . . all Dresden . . . floors of rosewood marquetry . . . marvelous workmanship . . . you couldn't duplicate it for billions today . . . the skills are gone . . . or those little tea services! . . . oh no! . . . or Laval's place on the third floor . . . First Empire . . . bees, eagles . . . perfection . . . the velvets . . . authentic Lyons . . . they don't make them anymore . . .

That's the way dynasties furnish their houses . . . pell-mell . . . the draperies, the ornaments . . . fantastic monstrous barn, a little overgrown, I've got to admit, three times the size of Notre-Dame! . . . and the whole thing balanced on a rock . . . and leaning! . . . anybody who goes to see it will tellyou . . . innocent tourists, they won't glom anything, too flabbergasted, knocked cold! . . . from what? . . . from seeing! . . . the chests, the thousands of thingumajigs, the souvenirs, the bric-a-brac . . .

I'm telling you all this ass backwards . . . according to the tremors of my bed . . . I don't know what's shaking me like this . . . my fever? . . . the spring collapsing? . . . I'm not trembling quite so much . . . I think . . . That business down on the riverfront didn't do me any good at all . . . La Publique La Publique . . . and that crummy crowd of tightrope walkers . . . and their insults! . . . and my malaria coming back . . . and the wind of the Seine! . . . everything's twisting and turning . . ; that's how it is . . . I'm not up to it any more . . . He's obscene, you'll say . . . . . . and that crummy crowd of tightrope walkers . . . and their insults! . . . and my malaria coming back . . . and the wind of the Seine! . . . everything's twisting and turning . . ; that's how it is . . . I'm not up to it any more . . . He's obscene, you'll say . . .



"Do you feel better? How do you feel?

"Oh, you know . . . not so bad . . ."

I thought of this and that . . . I'm boring you again . . .Yes, I thought of the way she was at home in that castle . . .never lost . . . the way she'd find me in some corridor . . .fascinated, looking at one more Hohenzollern . . . Hjalmar. . . Kurt . . . Hans . . . another . . . a hunchback . . .yes . . . yes .. I didn't tell you . . . they were all hunchbacked! Burchard . . . Wenceslas . . . Conrad . . . they'redriving me nuts . . . twelfth . . . thirteenth . . . fifteenth ofthe name! Centuries . . . centuries! . . . centuries! . . .hunchbacked and no legs! . . . cloven goat's hoofs . . . allof them . . . Landru Devils! . . . ah, I see them! I see themall! their warts too! . . . that family wart! . . . on the ends oftheir noses . . .

The head is a kind of factory that doesn't run exactly the way you'd like . . . imagine . . . two thousand billion neurons . . . all a complete mystery . . . where does that get you? . . . neurons left to their own resources! the slightest attack, your head goes haywire, you can't pin down a single idea . . . you're ashamed of yourself . . . Here on my ass like this, I'd like to tell you some more . . . about pictures, coats-of-arms, secret passageways, draperies . . . but I'm lost . . . I can't find anything . . . my head's turning . . . yes, but wait. . . I'll get back to you . . . and my Castle . . and my head! . . . later . . . later . . . I remember a word! . . . animal instinct, I said . . . Bebert . . . I've got the thread back . . . Bebert was at home in that Castle from the top of the turrets to the cellars . . . he and Lili would meet in one corridor or another . . . they didn't talk to each other . . . they behaved as if they'd never seen each other before . . . each for himself . . . the animal waves are like that, a quarter of a millimeter off and you're not yourself . . . you don't exist . . . a different world! . . . same mystery with Bessy, my dog, later in the woods in Denmark . . . she'd run away . . . I'd call her . . . blue in the face . . . she didn't hear me . . . off on a binge . . . she'd pass, she'd brush against us . . . ten times! . . . twenty times! . . . like an arrow! . . . and away she'd go around the trees so fast you couldn't see her legs! bat out of hell! . . . I could call her! I'd gone out of existence . . . Yet I loved that dog . . . and I think she loved me too . . . but her animal life came first . . . for two, three hours . . . I didn't count . . . this was one of her escapades . . . wild in the animal world . . . woods, meadows, rabbits, deer, ducks . . . she came back with bleeding paws, affectionate . . . shedied here in Meudon, she's buried over there, right next to the house, in the garden, I can see the mound . . . a painful death . . . cancer, I think . . . she wanted to die there outside . . . I held her head . . . I held her in my arms up to the end . . . really a splendid animal . . . a joy to look at her . . . a vibrant joy . . . she was so beautiful! . . . not a flaw . . . coat, build, stance . . . nothing like it in the dog shows! . . .

It's a fact, I still think of her, even now in this fever . . . in the first place I can't tear myself away from anything, a memory, a person, so how would I tear myself away from a dog? . . . I'm a virtuoso of fidelity . . . fidelity and responsibility . . . responsible for everything . . . a disease . . . anti-ungrateful . . . the world is good to you! . . . animals are innocent, even when they run wild like Bessy . . . in a pack they shoot them . . .

I really loved her with her crazy escapades, I wouldn't have parted with her for all the gold in the world . . . any more than with Bebert, though he was the meanest ripper of them all . . . a tiger! . . . but very affectionate at times . . . and terribly attached! from end to end of Germany . . . animal fidelity . . .

In Meudon, I could see, Bessy missed Denmark . . . nothing to hunt in Meudon . . . no deer . . . maybe a rabbit? . . . maybe . . . I took her to the Bois de Saint-Cloud . . . for a bit of a run . . . she sniffed . . . zigzagged . . . and came back in no time . . . two minutes . . . nothing to track in the Bois de Saint-Cloud . . . she walked along with us . . . but she was sad . . . she was a robust animal . . . she'd had a bad time of it up there . . . the cold . . . ten below . . . and no kennel . . . and not just for days! . . . for months . . . years . . . the Baltic frozen over . . .

All of a sudden up there with us . . . never mind, we forgave her everything . . . she'd take a powder . . . she'd come back . . . never a word of reproach . . . she ate out of our plates, so to speak . . . the worse the world treated us, the more we spoiled her . . . she's dead . . . but she had a bad time dying . . . I didn't want to give her an injection . . . not even a little morphine . . . the syringe would have frightenedher . . . I'd never frightened her . . . she was very low for a good two weeks . . . oh, she didn't complain, but I could tell . . . strength all gone . . . she slept beside my bed . . . one morning she wanted to go out . . . I wanted to lay her down in the straw . . . right after daybreak . . . she didn't like the place I put her . . . she wanted a different place . . . on the cold side of the house, on the pebbles . . . she lay down very prettily . . . she began to rattle . . . that was the end . . . they'd told me, I didn't believe it . . . but it was true . . . she was pointed in the direction of her memory . . . the place she had come from, the North, Denmark, her muzzle turned toward the north. . . a faithful dog in a way, faithful to the woods of her escapades, Korsor up there . . . faithful too to the awful life . . . she didn't care for the woods of Meudon . . . she died with two, three littlerattles. . . oh, very discreet . . . practically no complaining . . . and in a beautiful position, as though in mid-leap . . . but on her side, felled, finished . . . her nose toward the forests of the chase, up there where she came from, where she'd suffered . . . God knows! . . .

Oh, I've seen plenty of death agonies . . . here . . . there . . . everywhere . . . but none by far so beautiful, so discreet . . . so faithful . . . the trouble with men's death agonies is the song and dance . . . a man is always on the stage . . . even the simplest of them . . .

I don't have to tell you that I absolutely wanted to get better . . . to get up . . . for this to be only a slight attack . . . hell! . . . a week! . . . a whole month! . . . and what a summer, what weather! . . . it seems that never in the last hundred years . . . it almost snowed! . . . fever doesn't prevent you from working as long as you're careful not to catch cold again . . . consequently no riverfront! . . . and what about Madame Nicois? . . . she could wait a week . . . ten days . . . if I couldn't make it, Tailhefer would go . . . he could go in his car . . . I'd give him a ring . . . he wouldn't refuse me . . . I thought of everything, as best I could! . . . Tailhefer was a Prince of Science . . . he wouldn't have any trouble finding the former Quai Faidherbe . . . he couldn't say no . . . he'd get a look at La Publique La Publique . . . we'd known each other a long time, Tailhefer and me . . . he'd gone up . . . a Master . . . as far as I'd gone down . . . to give you an idea! . . . My only hope of paying the coal bill was my books . . . that didn't sell! . . . shit creek! . . . the hope that this one would sell? . . . rash! . . . that it might interest certain people . . . don't make me laugh! I often take my temperature . . . silly distraction! a briefcase to lean on . . . that's it . . . and I scribble . . . I get ahead . . . rich people have doubts . . . they can afford it . . . but poor bastards . . . no youth . . . no health . . . barge right ahead . . . I'm boycotted? . . . what of it? . . . "He hasn't committed suicide yet? . . ." That's what amazes them . . . "Out of date, decrepit!" . . . Well, here's what I think of them . . . rotten, stinking corpses! rejects from the wax works! . . . scrapings of the dump! . . . each man to his idea! . . . need rewriting . . . to the core! to the bone! to the atom! . . . worse, worsethan 1900! . . . ragouts of vanity! phrases, false bosoms! . . . Madame Emery on the rue Royale . . . Paris . . . and Trouville in the summer . . . could make you dresses a damn sight better than their novels . . . the painstaking care! the flounces and embroidery! . . . really fine workmanship! . . . I don't see it anymore . . . everybody's entitled to his own idea . . . I, who have seen Empires ground to hash, if I live long enough (coal and carrots), I'll witness the hash of our "up-to-date" writers . . . thickheaded yokels . . . fakers . . . that's it! . . . coal! . . . carrots . . . tailor-made, that's the main thing . . . and hand-sewn . . . a little applique of memories! one here . . . one there . . . a historical incident . . . hand-sewn . . . another . . . I owe you a "revolt of the hungry . . ." Oh, a harmless little revolt . . . it may amuse you . . . . . . we'd known each other a long time, Tailhefer and me . . . he'd gone up . . . a Master . . . as far as I'd gone down . . . to give you an idea! . . . My only hope of paying the coal bill was my books . . . that didn't sell! . . . shit creek! . . . the hope that this one would sell? . . . rash! . . . that it might interest certain people . . . don't make me laugh! I often take my temperature . . . silly distraction! a briefcase to lean on . . . that's it . . . and I scribble . . . I get ahead . . . rich people have doubts . . . they can afford it . . . but poor bastards . . . no youth . . . no health . . . barge right ahead . . . I'm boycotted? . . . what of it? . . . "He hasn't committed suicide yet? . . ." That's what amazes them . . . "Out of date, decrepit!" . . . Well, here's what I think of them . . . rotten, stinking corpses! rejects from the wax works! . . . scrapings of the dump! . . . each man to his idea! . . . need rewriting . . . to the core! to the bone! to the atom! . . . worse, worsethan 1900! . . . ragouts of vanity! phrases, false bosoms! . . . Madame Emery on the rue Royale . . . Paris . . . and Trouville in the summer . . . could make you dresses a damn sight better than their novels . . . the painstaking care! the flounces and embroidery! . . . really fine workmanship! . . . I don't see it anymore . . . everybody's entitled to his own idea . . . I, who have seen Empires ground to hash, if I live long enough (coal and carrots), I'll witness the hash of our "up-to-date" writers . . . thickheaded yokels . . . fakers . . . that's it! . . . coal! . . . carrots . . . tailor-made, that's the main thing . . . and hand-sewn . . . a little applique of memories! one here . . . one there . . . a historical incident . . . hand-sewn . . . another . . . I owe you a "revolt of the hungry . . ." Oh, a harmless little revolt . . . it may amuse you . . .

I won't get up . . . I don't feel like getting up . . . Tailhefer will go . . . I'll give him a ring . . .

Revolt . . . not in Lower Meudon! No, in Siegmaringen . . . I'm wandering, taking you for a ride . . . never mind! . . . I'm collecting my historical memories . . . I don't want to go wrong . . . here we are . . . Siegmaringen . . . the morale . . . not so good . . . despite the appeals to the "combative spirit" of "United Europe" . . . flabby! . . . as flabby as right now despite the appeals of Dulles, Coty, Lazare, Youssef, the Pope . . . soft, soft, the morale was soft . . . the "certainty of victory" . . . just around the corner, and so on . . . didn't cheer anybody up! . . . They didn't say anything, but they thought what they thought . . . though God knows they had a stake in victory . . . this elite of collaborators, 1,142 of them all condemned to death, with Article 75 on their ass . . . they began, the nerve of them! . . . to complain that the food was no good, that the "Stamgericht" "Stamgericht" and even the and even the "Hausgericht" "Hausgericht" was absolutely for the birds . . . starvation! That's what they grumbled and pretty soon they were shouting . . . and that the guests at the Castle, the pontiffs, ministers and so on, "active" and "on ice," and their wives and mistresses, bodyguards, nursemaids and babies, were doing fine . . . and the generals, admirals, and ambassadors from God knows where. . . that all those people were superstuffed, fat and full of blood, with eight, sixteen food cards each . . . and it was time for them to cough up! was absolutely for the birds . . . starvation! That's what they grumbled and pretty soon they were shouting . . . and that the guests at the Castle, the pontiffs, ministers and so on, "active" and "on ice," and their wives and mistresses, bodyguards, nursemaids and babies, were doing fine . . . and the generals, admirals, and ambassadors from God knows where. . . that all those people were superstuffed, fat and full of blood, with eight, sixteen food cards each . . . and it was time for them to cough up!

Naturally all this was passed on: the mentality of those people . . . born cops . . . a stool-pigeon or two in every garret . . . the Castle had its ears open! . . . you'll understand the whole Middle Ages if you've lived a while in Siegmaringen . . . the envy, the hatred of the villeins all around you, dying of rot and starvation, cold and fever . . . and the lords of the Castle had their special ways of keeping the rabble down . . . first the rumors! . . . spreading glad news . . . the rumor they circulated was that they were going to eat with the villeins . . . in person . . . without ceremony . . . by the drawbridge . . . with the 1,142 . . . the muttering rabble . . . the mob from the attics . . . first, bread would be distributed! . . . plenty of bread . . . to all the refugees . . . Thursday at twelve noon . . . on the dot of twelve! . . . we only had to be present! all of us!

You can imagine that rumors like that don't fall on deaf ears . . . that there was some crowd at the drawbridge . . . a mob . . . on the day set . . . they came at daybreak . . . you think the stomach hasn't got ears? . . . the collabos collabos were all there by the drawbridge . . . all except the sick and dying of the were all there by the drawbridge . . . all except the sick and dying of theFidelis, who really couldn't get up, and the ones who had escaped into the Black Forest . . . Anyway, it's safe to say, out of the 1,142 at least 1000 were there, waiting to get something . . . and the talk, the discussions! . . . the reflections of the gastric juices! . . . black bread? . . . whole-meal bread? . . . rolls? . . . and all remarkably well informed . . . or lousy stool-pigeons? . . . Morale up-lifters? . . . who knew exactly what there was going to be! . . . for the children: croissants! brioches! . . . oh, not a doubt! . . . but I, knowing what it was like in Cissen, I said to myself: this is going to be a raid, a roundup of the hungry . . . this assembly is a hoax! . . .

While waiting for the brioches they exchanged fleas, lice, crabs, and itches . . . convulsive . . . you never saw anything like it . . . a little crowd of epileptics . . . that's whathunger does! hunger worse than anything else . . . Were they going to put it away! my, oh, my! . . . shifting from foot to foot . . . scratching, plowing furrows in their scabs . . . all in a kind of semicircle around the drawbridge . . . rolling their eyes . . . fascinated . . . watching for the feed that was going to come out . . . not just bread . . . ham, too . . . sandwiches . . . with lard . . . but I'm not romantic about food . . . I was quietly on the watch, looking out toward a hole in the catacombs to the right of the bridge . . . a rockpile . . . a land of crater . . . I was expecting a kidney punch . . . a raid of shuppos . . . something . . . a commando from the cellars . . . a frameup . . . S.S.? S.A.? . . . Sicherheit? Sicherheit? I could see that the Krauts were fed up . . . seeing us there shifting from foot to foot, from doormat to doormat, scratching, coughing, evil-minded, waiting for what?. . . the child Jesus? . . . a revolution in Valhalla? . . . the Knights of Siegfried and the Grail? . . . with rolls thrown in? and the idea of our wanting more to eat! Not satisfied with our turnip "Stams". . . our delicious margarine soups! . . . They had reason to be fed up . . . especially as their affairs weren't prospering . . . disaster in sight . . . their armies all in a heap . . . we with our skeptical ways . . . and our spying . . . we were fouling up their morale! . . . they'd already lost their sky . . . you had only to look . . . behind every cloud twenty . . . thirty planes . . . R.A.F. . . . a merry-go-round . . . and the Americans! . . . three, four squadrons of Fortresses . . . permanent . . . day and night . . . London . . . Munich . . . Vienna . . . not a Kraut in the sky against them . . . to give you an idea that we weren't very popular . . . we and our cynical remarks . . . especially when you remember that they themselves . . . Kraut to Kraut . . . were out to get each other . . . Anyway, there around the drawbridge . . . we kept debating . . . would it be plain K-bread? . . . or army loaves? . . . or brioche? . . . the handout was supposed to be at twelve . . . at one we were still waiting . . . scratching to pass the time, that's right . . . I knew . . . this was going to end badly . . . quarter past one . . . the whole bell-tower explodes . . . all at once . . .a volley of bells! Magnificent bell-tower . . . you'll hear it if you go there . . . I kept looking at my hole . . .. the crater . . . like I was sure that something . . . And sure enough . . . I see somebody coming out . . . looks like two big rats . . . two people, all muffled up! . . . women . . . two women . . . I see them, they're coming closer . . . I'd never seen them before . . . they come up from the bottom of the crater . . . they must live in the catacombs . . . nobody had ever gone down to the bottom of the catacombs . . . they went under the Danube . . . as far as Basel! . . . and on the other side as far as the Brenner . . . so it seems! . . . nobody had ever looked . . . Maybe these women had? . . . Anyway, these two . . . I knew the Castle well and I'd never seen them . . . nor Lili either . . . I ask her . . . one looked pretty young . . . oh, not the other . . . an ancient hag . . . twisted . . . both of them had parasols! . . . oh yes! . . . pink parasols . . . I could see the old bag close up . . . her nose . . . all covered with warts . . . she kept blinking . . . the other too . . . the light! . . . they must have lived in the dark . . . they were used to the darkness . . . but why? . . . and why the parasols? they didn't talk to each other . . . oh, yes . . . now they're talking . . . the old bag asks what's going on . . . they're talking Boche . . . that old woman is a rough customer! I could see that the Krauts were fed up . . . seeing us there shifting from foot to foot, from doormat to doormat, scratching, coughing, evil-minded, waiting for what?. . . the child Jesus? . . . a revolution in Valhalla? . . . the Knights of Siegfried and the Grail? . . . with rolls thrown in? and the idea of our wanting more to eat! Not satisfied with our turnip "Stams". . . our delicious margarine soups! . . . They had reason to be fed up . . . especially as their affairs weren't prospering . . . disaster in sight . . . their armies all in a heap . . . we with our skeptical ways . . . and our spying . . . we were fouling up their morale! . . . they'd already lost their sky . . . you had only to look . . . behind every cloud twenty . . . thirty planes . . . R.A.F. . . . a merry-go-round . . . and the Americans! . . . three, four squadrons of Fortresses . . . permanent . . . day and night . . . London . . . Munich . . . Vienna . . . not a Kraut in the sky against them . . . to give you an idea that we weren't very popular . . . we and our cynical remarks . . . especially when you remember that they themselves . . . Kraut to Kraut . . . were out to get each other . . . Anyway, there around the drawbridge . . . we kept debating . . . would it be plain K-bread? . . . or army loaves? . . . or brioche? . . . the handout was supposed to be at twelve . . . at one we were still waiting . . . scratching to pass the time, that's right . . . I knew . . . this was going to end badly . . . quarter past one . . . the whole bell-tower explodes . . . all at once . . .a volley of bells! Magnificent bell-tower . . . you'll hear it if you go there . . . I kept looking at my hole . . .. the crater . . . like I was sure that something . . . And sure enough . . . I see somebody coming out . . . looks like two big rats . . . two people, all muffled up! . . . women . . . two women . . . I see them, they're coming closer . . . I'd never seen them before . . . they come up from the bottom of the crater . . . they must live in the catacombs . . . nobody had ever gone down to the bottom of the catacombs . . . they went under the Danube . . . as far as Basel! . . . and on the other side as far as the Brenner . . . so it seems! . . . nobody had ever looked . . . Maybe these women had? . . . Anyway, these two . . . I knew the Castle well and I'd never seen them . . . nor Lili either . . . I ask her . . . one looked pretty young . . . oh, not the other . . . an ancient hag . . . twisted . . . both of them had parasols! . . . oh yes! . . . pink parasols . . . I could see the old bag close up . . . her nose . . . all covered with warts . . . she kept blinking . . . the other too . . . the light! . . . they must have lived in the dark . . . they were used to the darkness . . . but why? . . . and why the parasols? they didn't talk to each other . . . oh, yes . . . now they're talking . . . the old bag asks what's going on . . . they're talking Boche . . . that old woman is a rough customer!

"What's that? What's that?"

"Franzosen!"

"What do they want?"

"Brot!"

"Then go ahead. Go ahead!"

She sees me there looking, too . . . me and Lili and Bebert the cat! the younger one comes over and speaks to me in French: "I beg your pardon, Monsieur, are you waiting for bread too?" "Yes, I have the honor! it won't be long now . . . haven't you heard the bells? . . ." "Oui, oui, Monsieur! . . ." Our beggars were howling now . . . and kicking the drawbridge . . . sick of waiting . . . "Bastards! profiteers! traitors! There's bread in there! . . ." Bzing. Boom! Bzing. Boom! "Hang Laval! stinker! bread! . . . shit! . . . Brinon! . . . cocksucker!bread!. . . " The anger was rising . . . There were at least three hundred of them howling for bread! . , . climbing, crossing the moat . . . "Hang Laval! stinker! bread! . . . shit! . . . Brinon! . . . cocksucker!bread!. . . " The anger was rising . . . There were at least three hundred of them howling for bread! . , . climbing, crossing the moat . . . Bzing zoom Bzing zoom against the drawbridge! . . . you can imagine, that drawbridge was massive, there could have been three thousand of them . . . quite a chunk of furniture . . . a whole army could have passed over it, artillery and all! the itching villains could bat their brains out! the more they hammered the less it moved! in my opinion this whole bread routine was a sweet little trap laid by Raumnitz to nab the malcontents . . . load all those troublemakers in a box car bound for some camp . . . "this way, my petulant friends!" The Krauts are slippery, slimy . . . you can expect anything! take the music halls, all the prestidigitators are Boche! . . . that proves it . . . and Gobbels is the champion! . . . you can't trust them around the corner! . . . "Little soldier boy! Gare de l'Est! . . . nothing to fear! pile right in!" . . . two million dead! against the drawbridge! . . . you can imagine, that drawbridge was massive, there could have been three thousand of them . . . quite a chunk of furniture . . . a whole army could have passed over it, artillery and all! the itching villains could bat their brains out! the more they hammered the less it moved! in my opinion this whole bread routine was a sweet little trap laid by Raumnitz to nab the malcontents . . . load all those troublemakers in a box car bound for some camp . . . "this way, my petulant friends!" The Krauts are slippery, slimy . . . you can expect anything! take the music halls, all the prestidigitators are Boche! . . . that proves it . . . and Gobbels is the champion! . . . you can't trust them around the corner! . . . "Little soldier boy! Gare de l'Est! . . . nothing to fear! pile right in!" . . . two million dead!

I could see it was a trap . . . a provocation . . . I kept my eye on that crevasse . . . at the bottom of the rockpile . . . where the two women had come from . . . sneaky-looking . . . and why the two pink parasols? . . . and those green and gray peplums covered with spiderwebs? . . . what cellar had they come out of? . . . search me . . . Better ask the one who speaks French . . . "You live there? . . . in the basement? Madame?" She had spoken to me, there was no impertinence in asking her where she'd come from . . .

"Yes, Monsieur . . . yes . . . and you? are you from Paris?"

"But to whom have I the honor, Madame?"

"Companion to the Princess."

The Princess wasn't very outgoing . . . she doesn't like us . . . she looks the other way . . . her nose tells me . . . I try to get a better look . . . three, four warts . . .

"Princess who?" I ask.

"Hermilie of Hohenzollern . . ."

That set me straight . . . she must have been telling the truth . . . the nose was right . . . I'd seen enough Hohenzollern phizzes in the last few months, their portraits in all the corridors of the Castle . . . on all the walls . . . eagle beakwith a bud on the end . . . all with one, two . . . three lavender warts! yes, even the very old portraits . . . from the tenth . . . or eleventh century . . . noses like hers, hooked, with lavender warts at the end . . . like this princess . . . Seemed funny we'd never met her in her own Castle . . . believe me, there were lots of people in the Castle . . . every floor . . . fourteen ministers, plus Brinon . . . fifteen generals . . . seven admirals . . . and a Chief of State . . . with their staffs and retinues! . . . but her, we'd never seen her . . . hidden away sulking . . . neither Lili nor myself . . . especially Lili who went all over . . . they must have been living at the bottom of a tunnel . . . and they'd come out just on time for bread . . . for the big banquet . . . when the rebels were out of control . . . Gzing! boom! Gzing! boom!. . . and the curses . . . Hermilie all dignity with her parasol paying no attention to the riffraff . . . speaking only to her companion . . . say, she wanted her bread bad . . . nun! nun! nun! nun! prodding her timid companion! . . . prodding her timid companion! . . . nun! nun! nun! nun! she should pound too! and not let these 1,142 howlers take her turn! she should pound too! and not let these 1,142 howlers take her turn! bzing! bam! bzing! bam! as if the bread was owing to them! pounding! pounding! the insolent horde! Just then the clarion ; . . yes, at that exact moment . . . on the other side of the rampart . . . sounds the general salute . . . the Castle guard . . . not Boche clarions, Boche clarions are like bugles . . . no . . . real ones . . . you'd have thought you were at Luneville . . . or La Pepiniere barracks . . . the drawbridge jolts . . . the chains, the pulleys . . . it moves . . . downward . . . very slowly . . . it drops . . . as if the bread was owing to them! pounding! pounding! the insolent horde! Just then the clarion ; . . yes, at that exact moment . . . on the other side of the rampart . . . sounds the general salute . . . the Castle guard . . . not Boche clarions, Boche clarions are like bugles . . . no . . . real ones . . . you'd have thought you were at Luneville . . . or La Pepiniere barracks . . . the drawbridge jolts . . . the chains, the pulleys . . . it moves . . . downward . . . very slowly . . . it drops . . . Bam! Bam! . . . there it is . . . flat on the ground . . . This was it! We expected a troop of flunkeys loaded with baskets full of loaves, brioches, sausages and petit-fours. . . a beautiful handout . . . . . . there it is . . . flat on the ground . . . This was it! We expected a troop of flunkeys loaded with baskets full of loaves, brioches, sausages and petit-fours. . . a beautiful handout . . .

Hell, no! . . . it's cops that come out . . . first three or four . . . then at least fifty shuppos in a big wood-burning truck . . . and then another crowd of cops . . . the French police . . . and after them . . . the Marshal! . . . yes, the Marshal! . . . to the left and behind him, Debeney . . . General Debeney, the one who was amputated . . . but no more bread than butter up your ass . . . the Marshal . . . out for an outing . . . that's what the 1,142 zebras had been waiting for! . . . you might have expected . . . not at all! . . . that they'd chew him out something terrible . . . that it was a shame! a disgrace! him and his sixteen food cards . . . not at all! . . . everybody knew! . . . and knew he ate them all up! that he didn't leave a crumb for anybody! that his appetite was remarkable . . . not to mention the total comfort . . . housed like a king! . . . him who was responsible for everything! Verdun! Vichy! and all the rest! and all our misery! all the fault of Petain! Petain up there, housed like a dream! . . . a whole floor to himself! . . . heated! . . . with four meals a day! . . . sixteen cards plus presents from the Fuhrer, coffee, cologne, silk shirts . . . a regiment of cops at his beck and call . . . a staff general . . . four cars . . .

You would have expected that crowd of roughnecks to do something . . . to jump him . . . to disembowel him . . . not at all . . . just a few sighs . . . they step aside . , . they watch him start on his outing . . . his cane out ahead . . . and off we go . . . and dignified . . . he answers their greetings . . . men and women . . . little girls: curtseys . . . the Marshal's walk . . . but no bread, no sausage . . . Hermilie of Hohenzollern doesn't greet him though . . . thornier, more forbidding than ever . . . Komm! Komm! Komm! Komm! . . . to her lady-in-waiting . . . they disappear . . . they don't even say goodby . . . into the hole they had come by . . . the slit in the rock-pile . . . she and her companion . . . no more Hermilie! no more lady-in-waiting . . . they were gone under the Castle . . . ah, they hadn't got any bread either! . . . hell! . . . neither had we . . . damn! . . . Lili and Bebert and I . . . we'd sort of come for that . . . we hadn't time to be sad . . . I see Marion! I catch sight of him. . . Marion, the only one who had any heart . . . who never forgot us . . . who always came to the . . . to her lady-in-waiting . . . they disappear . . . they don't even say goodby . . . into the hole they had come by . . . the slit in the rock-pile . . . she and her companion . . . no more Hermilie! no more lady-in-waiting . . . they were gone under the Castle . . . ah, they hadn't got any bread either! . . . hell! . . . neither had we . . . damn! . . . Lili and Bebert and I . . . we'd sort of come for that . . . we hadn't time to be sad . . . I see Marion! I catch sight of him. . . Marion, the only one who had any heart . . . who never forgot us . . . who always came to the Lowen Lowen, bringing whatever he could . . . not much . . . a few leftovers . . . mostly rolls . . . there were rolls in the Castle . . . not very many, but say three four to each minister . . . sometimes it's not so bad being a minister . . . Marion always thought of us . . . and Bebert. . . his big joke was when Bebert played Lucien . . . Lucien Descaves . . . I put my muffler on Bebert . . . with his bristling moustaches he looked just like Lucien Descaves . . . that was our little joke . . . ah, it's far away . . . no more Lucien . . . no more Marion . . . no more Bebert! all gone!. . . with our memories! slowly, slowly . . .

As I was telling you . . . I see Marion . . . He was on the outing, too . . . but far from Petain . . . they weren't on speaking terms anymore . . . far from it! . . in all regimes at all times, the ministers hate each other. . . and worst when everything is falling apart . . . absolute hostility! . . . a frenzy of rancor . . . they'd got to the point where they couldn't even look at each other. . . it rankled so bad they'd have massacred each other at the table . . . at meals . . . they sharpened their knives during the cheese course so menacingly that all the wives stood up! "Come! Come!" . . . and made their ministers, generals, admirals leave the table . . . they were on the point of drawing their swords! boiling! oh, it's the same all over . . . Berchtadgaden, Vichy, the Kremlin, the White House, no places to be during the cheese course . . . not with the Hanover-Windsors either . . . which explains why on this walk distances were kept . . . Protocol! . . . no question of arm in arm . . . far apart . . . all very far apart . . . way in the lead the Marshal Chief of State, all alone! his one-armed chief of staff Debeney three steps behind to the left . . . further on a minister . . . further still another . . . strung out at least a hundred yards . . . and then the cops . . . the whole procession at least two-miles long . . . Say what you like . . . I can speak freely because he detested me . . . Petain was our last King of France. "Philip the Last! . . ." the stature, the majesty, the works . . . and he believed in it . . . first as victor at Verdun . . . then, at the age of seventy and then some promoted to Sovereign! Who could have resisted? . . . A pushover! "Oh, Monsieur le Marechal, how you incarnate France!" That incarnation jazz is magic . . . if somebody said to me: "Celine, damn it all, how you incarnate the Passage! Passage! the the Passage Passage is you! all you!"-I'd go out of my mind! take any old hick, tell him to his face that he incarnates something . . . you'll see, he'll go crazy . . .you've pierced his heart! . . . he won't know which way is up . . . Once Petain incarnated France, he didn't care if it was fish or flesh, gibbet, Paradise or High Court, Douaumont, Hell, or Thorez . . . he was the incarnation! . . . that's the only real genuine happiness: incarnation . . . you could cut his head off . . . he'd go right on incarnating . . . his head would run along all by itself, perfectly happy, seventh heaven! Chariot shooting Brasillach! he was in seventh heaven too! another incarnator! both in seventh heaven, both incarnations! . . . And Laval? is you! all you!"-I'd go out of my mind! take any old hick, tell him to his face that he incarnates something . . . you'll see, he'll go crazy . . .you've pierced his heart! . . . he won't know which way is up . . . Once Petain incarnated France, he didn't care if it was fish or flesh, gibbet, Paradise or High Court, Douaumont, Hell, or Thorez . . . he was the incarnation! . . . that's the only real genuine happiness: incarnation . . . you could cut his head off . . . he'd go right on incarnating . . . his head would run along all by itself, perfectly happy, seventh heaven! Chariot shooting Brasillach! he was in seventh heaven too! another incarnator! both in seventh heaven, both incarnations! . . . And Laval?

Even under much more modest circumstances . . . more practical, too . . . this incarnation racket performs little miracles! in the food department, for instance! . . . suppose tomorrow they start rationing us again . . . that you're short in everything . . . don't beat your brains out . . . the incarnation trick will save you . . . you take any old hayseed, any provincial writer, and you go up to him! you grab hold of him, you petrify him right there in front of you . . . And you bellow at him: "Man alive, you're the one and only . . . the living incarnation of Poitou! . . . Those precious thirty-two pages of yours! The whole of Poitou!" That does it! You'll never want for anything after that! packages from the farm! . . . You do it again in Normandy! . . . Deux-Sevres! and Finistere! You'll have enough for five, six wars and twelve famines! . . . you won't know where to store your ten, twelve tons of packages! Incarnators are tireless givers . . . they keep piling it on . . . you've only got to keep telling them that they've got the whole Drome in their work! . . . the Jura! . . . Mayenne! . . . Roquefort if you like cheese! . . . I'm not seeing things . . . take Denoel! . . . Denoel the assassinated . . . a slimy two-timer if ever there was one, but very Belgian and practical . . . all in all, now he's a corpse, if I compare him to what came after him, it's really a shame! . . . Two days before he was murdered I wrote him from Copenhagen: "Clear out . . . damn it! . . . make tracks . . . the rue Amelie is no place for you . . ." He didn't split, people never do what I say . . . they think they're guaranteed . . . amulets rubbed with onion . . . okay . . . if that's how they feel about it . . .anyway, the fact remains, that up to the time he was murdered he had all the butter he wanted, cheese, chicken, truffles . . . a sumptuous table . . . absolutely no trouble with his food supply! . . . he really lived well! . . . thanks to the Incarnationism of his authors . . . the revelation of their Mission . . . the Annunciation . . . but watch out . . . I'm warning you! . . . the thing is magic! . . . it can easily be fatal! . . . don't get intoxicated! . . . Witness Petain! Witness Laval! Witness Louis XVI! Witness Stalin! . . . you go all out, nothing you can't get away with? . . . Goodby! . . . Playing the magician from province to province, unearthing incarnations of this one and that one . . . he lost his head . . . "Bravo! Charmed life! Nothing can touch me! . . ." But at midnight on the Place des Invalides, the charm broke! a cloud, the moon! the magic was gone . . . What finished Denoel, what put the quietus on his clowning, was his collection of provinces, the folklore addicts, the ecstatic incarnators of countrysides . . . the competing rat-racers: I!I!I!I'm Cornouailles! I'm Leon! . . . I'm Charente! . . . the epileptics of incarnation!

Nothing so unusual about it . . . "Kindly send Jeanne d'Arc!" I'll find you a dozen in every department . . . with packages thrown in . . . bologna . . . butter . . . whole carloads of cereals . . . turkeys . . . shepherd girls! . . .

"You have been entered in the Competition! . . . oh, how excellendy you incarnate Cameroon! . . ." the bananas start coming! . . . dates, pineapples! the whole Empire was coming to table . . . to his table! . . . believe you me . . . nothing was lacking . . . poor Denoel had really solved the problem of food supply . . .

Petain was another . . . the Incarnation, it's me . . . Imperial! . . . Did he believe it? . . . He believed it all right . . . that's what he died of . . . total Incarnation!

All this blarney . . . I'm forgetting you . . . we were talking about the outing . . . well, the beginning . . . the Marshal on the drawbridge . . . Hermilie of Hohenzollern disappearing into the cellars with her lady-in-waiting . . . Petain and Debeney step lively, they follow the Danube . . . the bank . . . the ritual walk . . . all alone up front . . . theministers far behind . . . strung out . . . sulking, it looked like . . . And the little crowd of grumblers, waiting, their gastric juices ready for anything . . . nothing left for them but to vacate . . . They protested . . . but not too much . . . and went back to the stables, the attics, the Fidelis Fidelis, the woods . . . what could they say? . . . all they could do was scratch . . . rip off their scabs . . . well, they'd scratch somewhere else . . .

Up above the clouds the snake dance goes on . . . squadrons on squadrons of R.A.F. . . . some diving in the direction of the Castle . . . the Castle was their landmark . . . the loop in the river . . . that's where they turn from north to east . . . Munich, Vienna . . . squadrons on squadrons . . . We wouldn't be blown up . . . that was the rumor . . . because the Castle was being reserved for Leclerc's army . . . he was already in Strasbourg with his Fifis and his coons . . . you could tell by the people coming our way . . . refugees with their eyes popping out . . . the things they'd seen . . . the wholesale decapitations . . . with the chop-chop . . . Leclerc's Senegalese . . . rivers of blood . . . the gutters full of it . . . what we could expect from one minute to the next . . . something for the scratchers to think about . . . for the 1,142 "wanted" to talk about in their attics!

When you come right down to it, Petain and Debeney were through . . . their act was washed up! . . . the "French Empire" act! . . . curtain! . . . the next act would be the Senegalese! . . . Petain was through incarnating! . . . France was fed up . . . send him home so we can loll him . . . turn the page! . . . here he still cuts a figure . . . with Debeney . . . and his straggling processional . . . and all spiffed out, the stinkers! . . . those resplendent shoes! . . . stepping lively . . . along the Danube, that little river so violent, so gay and splashing, throwing its foam into the treetops . . . optimistic river . . . great future! . . . yes yes, but Leclerc's army isn't far off . . . and his chop-chop Senegalese . . . people hardly ever know that it's time for the next act . . . that they're in the way, time to come down off the stage . . . oh no! . , . they're stubborn . . . they've got nice parts and they want to hold onto them! . . . forever . . . the Marshal and Debeney on their daily outing . . . banks of the Allier . . . banks of the Danube . . . outing and Chief of State, that's the whole picture . . . What interested us, Lili and me and Bebert . . . was Marion . . . Marion and the scrapings of their tables, the rolls . . . anyway it was better if Petain didn't notice . . . Marion . . . the Minister of Information . . . was almost last in line . . . that's the protocol . . . first comes the sword! that's Petain! . . . and then Justice! . . . and then Finance! . . . and then the rest . . . the scroungers, the so-called recent ministries . . . no more than three, four centuries old! . . . to be a real minister, to "carry weight," you've got to go back to Dagobert . . . Justice! . . . St. Eloi, there was a minister for you . . . Marion with his Information Information? . . . not even fifty years . . . not presentable . . . but for the three of us, including Bebert, the only one who counted . . . no two ways . . . we had to join the outing . . . on the q.t. . . . so he could slip us his rolls and scrapings while no one was looking . . . Mattey wasn't very high in the outing order . . . his place was after Sully . . . two hundred yards after the Navy, the admirals, Francois I . . . in a black topcoat, Mattey, the gravity of an administrator, black felt hat, a hundred yards ahead of us . . . "I call on you, Monsieur Mattey, to feed the French nation!" . . . That's how black-clad Mattey had been recruited . . . "Mattey! fields and pastures!" . . . And he'd dived right in! . . . Same as Bichelonne in the railroads . . . "Bichelonne, you will transport all France!" And now . . . they could only tag along . . . a hundred yards ahead of Information Information and me and Lili and Bebert . . . oh, I forgot . . . the Danube is very sinuous and choppy . . . then suddenly it gets wide . . . very wide . . . no more breakers and froth . . . a broad surface of quiet water . . . right after the railroad bridge . . . there the ducks were waiting for us . . . or rather they were waiting for Bebert . . a good hundred of them, sticking right by us . . . paddling hard, swimming right next to the shore to get a good look at our Bebert . . . ah, and another animal too! . . . I forgot! . . . the eagle . . . we had one of those, too . . . he came to the same place, but kept hisdistance . . . not like the ducks at all . . . very distant . . . in the fields on top of a high pole, all alone . . . you couldn't get close to him . . . oh no! . . . not the Hohenzollern eagle! . . . he saw us . . . we saw him . . . he didn't fly away! . . . he moved a little according as we moved, far away . . . he pivoted on his pole . . . slowly . . . I think he was looking mostly at Bebert . . . Bebert knew it . . . and Bebert, that independent cat, world's record for disobedience, the way he stuck to us! . . . he could see himself in the eagle's clutches . . . What's wonderful in the animal world is the way they know everything without telling each other . . . and far far away! at the speed of light! . . . we with our heads full of words, it's terrifying the way we knock ourselves out fuddling and muddling . . till we don't know a damn thing! . . . or understand! . . . the way we stuff our big noodles! . . . full up . . . busting . . . no room for more . . . not the slightest mini-wave . . . everything slips by . . . we don't catch it . . . and me and Lili and Bebert . . . oh, I forgot . . . the Danube is very sinuous and choppy . . . then suddenly it gets wide . . . very wide . . . no more breakers and froth . . . a broad surface of quiet water . . . right after the railroad bridge . . . there the ducks were waiting for us . . . or rather they were waiting for Bebert . . a good hundred of them, sticking right by us . . . paddling hard, swimming right next to the shore to get a good look at our Bebert . . . ah, and another animal too! . . . I forgot! . . . the eagle . . . we had one of those, too . . . he came to the same place, but kept hisdistance . . . not like the ducks at all . . . very distant . . . in the fields on top of a high pole, all alone . . . you couldn't get close to him . . . oh no! . . . not the Hohenzollern eagle! . . . he saw us . . . we saw him . . . he didn't fly away! . . . he moved a little according as we moved, far away . . . he pivoted on his pole . . . slowly . . . I think he was looking mostly at Bebert . . . Bebert knew it . . . and Bebert, that independent cat, world's record for disobedience, the way he stuck to us! . . . he could see himself in the eagle's clutches . . . What's wonderful in the animal world is the way they know everything without telling each other . . . and far far away! at the speed of light! . . . we with our heads full of words, it's terrifying the way we knock ourselves out fuddling and muddling . . till we don't know a damn thing! . . . or understand! . . . the way we stuff our big noodles! . . . full up . . . busting . . . no room for more . . . not the slightest mini-wave . . . everything slips by . . . we don't catch it . . .

That royal Hohenzollern eagle was master of the fields and forests all the way to Switzerland . . . he did exactly as he pleased . . . nobody could intimidate him . . . commander of the Black Forest . . . flocks and rabbits and deer . . . and the fairies . . . every outing, he was there . . . same field, same pole . . . I'm sure he didn't like us . . .

After about a mile and a half up the Danube bank, a silhouette . . . it never failed: a silhouette with gestures . . . meaning to advance . . . or go back . . . that Petain should keep going . . . or turn around and go home . . . we knew that silhouette . . . it was Admiral Corpechot . . . guarding the Danube, commander of all the flotillas as far as the Drava . . . he was expecting a Russian offensive . . . in the middle of the Marshal's outing! . . . The Russian river fleet would come sailing up the Danube! . . . he was dead sure . . . he had appointed himself Admiral of the Estuaries of Europe and Commander of Both Banks . . . he expected the Russian fleet from Vienna . . . cutting across Bavaria to take Wurttemberg in the rear . . . and Siegmaringen! . . . naturally! with all the collaborators . . . especially Petain! . . . he could see Petainkidnapped! . . . trussed up in the hold of one of those submersible devices he'd seen coming out of the water! . . . oh, he'd seen them all right! amphibian vehicles . . . past Budapest the river was crawling with them! . . . Corpechot told me all about it . . . I was treating his emphysema . . . he knew all the Russian plans! their material! their strategy! he even knew the ins and outs of their aero-aqua-terrestrial device, catapulted by hydrolysis, the Ader system in reverse, subnautical . . . give you an idea what we could expect . . . I was never surprised to see Corpechot popping out by the riverbank, making signs that the outing was over, that the Russians had been sighted! . . . it was no surprise to Petain either . . . he about-faced . . . the ministers, too . . . you can imagine, this Corpechot . . . they'd arrested him ten times . . . twenty times . . . and released him twenty times . . . no more room in the asylums . . . actually no more room anywhere for anybody . . . crazy or not! . . . you took what you could find . . . crazy . . . not crazy . . . attics . . . backrooms! . . . stables . . . bunkers . . . station waiting rooms . . . absolute frenzy! whole villages under the trains . . . huddled up . . . in the woods . . . caves . . . if you found one, you stayed there . . . people from every corner of Europe . . . I told you Corpechot had made himself an admiral . . . he felt he was entitled to it, a damn sight more than the admirals of the Castle, the office admirals of Darlan's general staff! . . . in the first place Article 75 . . . decorated with Article 75! . . . he hadn't made that one lip . . . warrant and all! absolutely genuine! really hunted! . . . the circumstances of his departure proved it . . . skin of his teeth! . . . last train! from the Gare de l'Est . . . they'd only nabbed his son, his wife and sister-in-law . . . all sent to Drancy! . . . another minute they'd have had him . . . It was true! . . . I'd read the report in Brinon's office . . . and his detailed biography . . . he'd been a gossip columnist and later editor-in-chief of a big yachting week!y, the Jib-boom! Jib-boom! you could speak of him in Bremen, Enghien, or the Isle of Wight . . . people listened with respect . . . he was in every regatta . . . "Corpechot says!" . . . that was enough . . . he was the authority! Naturally he was an easy mark forDoenitz! . . . "Corpechot, you are the Navy! you could speak of him in Bremen, Enghien, or the Isle of Wight . . . people listened with respect . . . he was in every regatta . . . "Corpechot says!" . . . that was enough . . . he was the authority! Naturally he was an easy mark forDoenitz! . . . "Corpechot, you are the Navy! uber alles! uber alles! . . . you will avenge France and Dunkirk!" Then they embraced . . . "Trafalgar! Trafalgar . . ." and that's why he was here with Article 75 on his ass . . . and his whole family in Drancy . . . but he'd lost his bearings! . . . "Corpechot-you-are-the-Navy" had had to deliver, earn his stripes . . . first in Hamburg . . . then in Kiel . . . then in Warnemunde . . . for Doenitz . . . . . . you will avenge France and Dunkirk!" Then they embraced . . . "Trafalgar! Trafalgar . . ." and that's why he was here with Article 75 on his ass . . . and his whole family in Drancy . . . but he'd lost his bearings! . . . "Corpechot-you-are-the-Navy" had had to deliver, earn his stripes . . . first in Hamburg . . . then in Kiel . . . then in Warnemunde . . . for Doenitz . . . Kriegsmarine! Kriegsmarine! . . . from camp to camp! . . . and now with his promotion! . . . "Commander of the Forces of the Danube!" . . . every body of water in Wurttemberg-Switzerland! . . . and consequently the mission of guarding Petain, telling him how far he could go . . . not far! no further! . . . about-face! . . . . . . from camp to camp! . . . and now with his promotion! . . . "Commander of the Forces of the Danube!" . . . every body of water in Wurttemberg-Switzerland! . . . and consequently the mission of guarding Petain, telling him how far he could go . . . not far! no further! . . . about-face! . . .

Oh yes, up in the sky we were doing all right . . . the English were dragging their wings! . . . it was pitiful to watch those poor planes that didn't even dare to bomb us! intimidated by the Castle! fucked! . . . but the Russians? . . . their amphibian submarines? Corpechot kept his eyes on the river . . . the slightest ripple: the treacherous Danube! the Russian peril! he'd made himself little mounds . . . at every bend . . . kind of little semaphores . . . crow's nests . . . You could talk to him up there, tell him about the R.A.F. . . . he'd double up, laugh himself sick . . . childish, preposterous . . . bombs? . . . he did the exploding! . . . "Good Lord, man . . . Good Lord . . . you too! always looking at the sky! stargazing! . . . grotesque . . . unbelievable! can't you see that they'll come by the river? Come, come! Take a look! See for yourself!" And he'd pass you his binoculars . . . his big Licca . . . no time to joke! . . . "You're right, Admiral! . . ." . nobody contradicted him! . . . the second Petain caught sight of him, about-face!

That's the way it is at the end of a regime . . . nobody contradicts anybody . . . the looniest are king . . . one gesture from Corpechot and Petain and Debeney obeyed him . . . Corpechot slept on the ground in the middle of a thicket . . . any thicket . . . but he kept up appearances . . . absolutely impeccable . . . admiral's uniform, tall cap . . . and patent-leather shoes! . . . he'd had himself fitted out like that upthere at the Depot between two bombardments . . . rosy complexion, big nose, big belly . . . double cape! . . . "Stormy weather" outfit for seafarers . . . his Licca jiggling on his belly . . . if you'd run into him on the rue Royale, you'd have said right away: "No doubt about it . . . the Admiral is the Navy . . . the incarnation! . . ." The genuine article and the nuts . . . it's perfectly simple . . . the only difference is where you meet them . . . the rue Royale or the banks of the Danube . . . Twenty times . . . a hundred times . . . Petain had written to Abetz that Corpechot was in the way! admiral or not! that he had enough with his own people . . . on every floor . . . ministers and higher echelons! . . . that he was spied on when he went out walking . . . Abetz couldn't do a thing! when everything's going to pot, there's nothing you can do but observe and shut up . . . Vichy, the papal nuncio . . . Corpechot-Danube . . . don't contradict! . . . delay the change of scene, keep the stage a little while longer . . . before the page turns .

Castle To Castle Part 7

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Castle To Castle Part 7 summary

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