In response to the continuous surge in patients with new coronary pneumonia, Italy has opened a special railway medical train to transport patients from all over the country when the hospital is overcrowded. According to the British “Times” report on the 11th, this train has 8 carriages, 21 intensive care beds, equipped with ventilators, oxygen cylinders and other medical equipment, and can carry 45 doctors and nurses.
According to reports, this medical train will use Milan Central Station in Lombardy as a base for receiving patients with new coronary pneumonia. A nurse on the train said in an interview that the patients in each car will be treated by a medical team composed of at least 5 professionals.
Italian Health Minister Speranza said that this medical train will play an important role in epidemic prevention and can alleviate the pressure on areas with tight medical resources. In addition, Italy will also open a virus-free special train between Rome and Milan. The train will conduct nucleic acid tests on all staff and passengers before departure, and only those with negative test results can get on the train.
thousand paces from Karlsen’s villa stood a bench away from the main road. Eva von Ostried was striving towards this. At the moment it was impossible for her to continue on her way. All thinking, exhausted to the extreme, ceased and she willingly surrendered to this weariness.
She felt that she was betrothed to the man who had offered her his love. That she went to him at all after his kiss allowed only this interpretation. He had to assume that she was returning his feeling!
And it was a lie! She didn’t feel anything for him.
The looks he had left on her tormented her afterwards! The memory of his hot, twitching hands that had clasped her as he kneeled in front of her brought back the strong sense of distaste for his caresses.
The relationship between her parents occurred to her. Occasionally, after a particularly good bottle of wine, the father had spoken of her mother’s devotional tenderness during the engagement period. And yet later the marriage had become what inexpressibly frightened Eve’s early youth and still filled her with horror! To the[S. 150] The incorrigible carelessness of the beautiful Ostried broke the strength and the life of her mother, after her love had long since had to give way to the rigid conscience of duty.
And she wanted to bind herself now without a spark of dormant tenderness?
A crease dug around her red mouth that made her face hard. The price she would get was high enough to make this sacrifice to a foolish, strictly secret girl’s dream.
She was ready! But no longer completely unconditional. Mrs. Essling’s request for the companion for the daughter occurred to her. She wanted to try to hide there for a few weeks in order to secure some time to think it over.
Frau Kommerzienrat Essling found herself in a seldom soft mood when it was reported that an applicant was waiting outside. The victory over the will of the son-in-law had temporarily made her more conciliatory. In addition, their sense of justice could not shut themselves off from the truth of his bitterness. For the most part, she was completely satisfied with the joy of having her daughter with her again, even if only for a short time. In addition, all sadness and rebellion disappeared.
Elfriede Karlsen was lying on the couch, as she had done for many years, and let her mother pamper her with the smile of a grateful child. She did not yet suspect the latest care of the councilor. With a few hasty words, it was now presented to her as a necessity.
“But, mom,” she said pleadingly, “that’s cruel of you -”
“You should be glad that this redeeming thought occurred to me, Elfriedchen. The many lonely hours are not good for you. You ponder too much. ”
“I’m waiting for my husband and that’s beautiful,” she said. There was all loyalty and tenderness in it.
“This hour is not a good time to argue about it, child. Just one thing quickly: You both emphasize at every opportunity that an artist has to be free and you don’t want to let him off the chain? ”
The pale face reddened in spite of the white powder coating, which Frau Essling never thought of her daughter.
“Does that mean that I am making undue demands on him, inhibiting his development? – But that can’t possibly be your true opinion, mom. Just a few days ago you seriously accused me of being far too unassuming towards Paul! ”
“There is no contradiction in this, my child! Natural and understandable when a young woman in love counts the minutes until her husband is finally given back to her. But also just as understandable when, with a disposition like your husband’s, every slightest compulsion hinders him and maybe even annoys and inhibits him.
“Did he complain to you, mom?”
The councilor laughed bitterly.
“Where are you thinking, Elfriedchen. Such a great artist does not go to the trouble of an ordinary mortal[S. 152]like me to initiate into his feelings. But just remember. Hasn’t he been annoyed often enough when you’ve been waiting for him to eat like a patient lamb for about an hour or more? ”
“Mama, take old Franz back to you,” pleaded the young woman, tormented. She knew immediately from which source her mother drew the knowledge of every little and unimportant incident in her life.
“You have asked me several times, Elfriede. And today, as before, I tell you that he will and must stay. ”
Elfriede Karlsen sighed deeply.
“So what is this companion supposed to help me?”
Frau Essling felt that the initial resistance was beginning to waver. Something like curiosity came from the question.
“Infinitely much, little elf! Of course, it must be smart and educated, fresh and impeccable. You will make friends quickly. You never owned a girlfriend. Then the hours of waiting are suddenly filled. They may even appear to you over time when you read a nice book together – going for walks, shopping, and looking at pictures, too short. In any case, Karlsen will not find a reproachful face or even what seems far more dangerous to me, a tired, disappointed and not exactly shiny-looking woman, even if he himself is considerably late. What do you think must be the consequence of this? I’ve learned so much to know that Karlsen is capricious. The slightest thing can upset him[S. 153]men; but a little something can make him a gorgeous companion. ”
“I had no idea that you knew him so well,” said Elfriede.
“Just keep listening, Friedchen! – By no longer languishing with this clearly displayed longing for him – no longer wringing your hands when one of his favorite foods has become inedible, your eyes no longer crying red and cloudy, you will oblige your husband to be grateful that must make you more important to him and therefore more indispensable than has unfortunately been the case up to now. ”
The young woman had straightened up and looked uncertainly at her mother.
“If you were really right, mom! But I can’t believe it. Constantly having a third person at the table is painful to me. Do you forget that she takes the best of my short time together? ”
“Child, you are an artist’s wife . You have to make sure that you stay her too ! ”
Elfriede Karlsen had turned very pale.
“You don’t think that Paul doesn’t love me anymore?”
“If I was even afraid of that, I would treat my son-in-law differently. No, there is no talk of that so far. But I want to prevent it ever cooling down noticeably. Believe me, Friedchen, my advice is wise and well considered. This remedy, which I prescribe him as well as you, will make you completely happy. Wouldn’t that be nice, my[S. 154]Child? Now go into the next room for a moment. First I want to discuss everything that is not essential with the applicant. If it seems to me to be the right one for you, I will call you. ”
Eva von Ostried endured the scrutinizing glances and thorough questions of the Kommerzienratin with a perfectly good demeanor. She showed no sensitivity because she had to wait an unusually long time outside. Quietly, as a matter of course, she took a seat in one of the armchairs that Frau Eßling had offered her and answered her questions briefly and clearly.
“The certificates that you can show are not exactly brilliant, Fräulein von Ostried.”
“Quite the opposite, madam! When I was barely seventeen I took the first job and yet had no previous knowledge, just the good will to do my duty. ”
“Do you want to tell me something about your youth – the years before, I mean and above all about the necessity that forced you to go to work?” Asked the councilor.
“Gladly! – My father was the owner of the Waldesruh Majorate in the district of Köslin, Province of Western Pomerania. My mother, born Baroness Strachwitz, died when I was fourteen years old. Our circumstances were always the worst imaginable. Waldesruh was already badly run down under my grandfather. When my father died, I was left with nothing of note. My guardian, Amtsrat Wullenweber, also wanted me to make an acquisition straight away. Had special things[S. 155]I did not learn. So only the path of the nurse or the house support was open to me. ”
“In the second job, in which you stayed for barely four months, there must have been very important reasons that prompted you to change so quickly? I see that this testimony contains the comment “Dismissed if expressly requested”. ”
“These reasons were there, madam,” Eva admitted calmly. “The master’s behavior. In any case, I couldn’t stay in his house any longer. ”
“I understand! I am delighted that you feel that way. You are a very beautiful girl. You will not only have heard this from others, you will know it yourself. ”
Eva von Ostried accepted these words as the simple statement of a fact. It would have seemed childish to fend off or even to contradict.
“That’s why I felt extremely happy in the house of the widowed Mrs. Hanna Melchers, President of the District Court. I was with her for three years and I can say that a mother couldn’t have been more kind and loving to me. ”
“And this last and most important testimony, Miss von Ostried? Should you have forgotten to hand it over to me? ”
“Unfortunately it does not exist, madam. Madam President, while traveling alone, she died unexpectedly of a heartbeat. You could ask about me from Justizrat Dr. Weissgerber, the longtime friend[S. 156] and executor of the will of the President, inquire. ”
“When is he home? – Do you know that? I don’t want to take this thing into his office. ”
“He had to do outside today. At least it is possible that he has already returned. ”
She said it quietly and hesitantly because it suddenly occurred to her that she too should have tried to talk to us late because of the money. – The Commerce Councilor had noticed the wavering in the young voice. She was also amazed at the suddenly changed expression on the beautiful face. – It was only at this moment that Eva von Ostried thought of the fact that it would easily be possible for the judiciary to say something on the phone about her ruined musical prospects. There were good reasons why she had kept silent about it.
Frau Essling, however, definitely believed that Eva von Ostried had to fear that information, even though she expressly referred to it, and was all the more determined to question the Judicial Council. – The judicial council had just arrived and confirmed briefly and clearly on the telephone that Eva von Ostried had been in their house for three full years to the full satisfaction of the deceased, and that he personally valued her as an excellent character in every respect. He even included the fact that the President had been determined to take care of the beloved young housemate. No doubt her quick death prevented her from carrying out this decision.
Frau Essling came back satisfied from the telephone.
“I’d like to try you if you have the same wish,” she said gently. “I hope we will come to an agreement very quickly. I would have to give you only a few instructions and conditions beforehand: You would not have to live in my house, but with my newly married daughter, whom you are about to get to know. Because she is staying with me temporarily. Your duties will be easy. – Are you musical? ”
“Yes,” said Eva. “It should surely be enough. I sing.”
“I find that very pleasant. My daughter has decidedly fine hearing, but was always too suffering to expose herself to the exertions of long practice. Would you also be able to give her lessons? ”
Eva’s hands went ice cold. It all seemed like a mockery of fate. But she nodded willingly.
“Good. There is also a force available for domestic work. As you will have noticed, the only thing that matters to me is that my daughter is kept distracted and happy. She must be alone too much. That is not good for a quiet, even shy being like hers. Can you be funny, Miss von Ostried? ”
“Perhaps I will learn, madam.”
“And loyal, Fraulein von Ostried? Absolutely? In every situation? With every temptation? ”
“How do I have to understand that, madam?”
“How a girl of your origin and education must understand this. – Faithful to the mistress. What that means – hm – according to your experience, an explanation is hardly necessary in your second position. – My son-in-law[S. 158]is an artist. I don’t even know if I mentioned that before. Artists usually ignite very quickly and violently. And, as I have already noticed, you are particularly well considered by nature. ”
“I’d rather die than help break up a marriage.”
“I have the same impression of you. – My experience may repeat to you what you will have long since experienced yourself. The most delicious and valuable thing remains a clear conscience. “The greatest evil, however, is guilt!” Wrote my blessed father to me under the blessing saying. Since then I have found it confirmed time and again as the truth. – Faithful to the mistress, I said, who will treat you very kindly – very sisterly. – But also loyal to me. As self-evident as it is to meet the first condition, the second will appear strange to you. I, “her voice was suddenly muffled,” do not have the trust in my son-in-law that should be necessary to calmly and carefree the happiness of the only child in his hands. I am reluctant to admit this marriage. I distrust their constancy.
“I must definitely refuse,” replied Eva von Ostried firmly. “I already mentioned that I would despise myself if I scattered strife between married couples.”
“If I had to give up your services to my daughter in view of this declaration, Fraulein von Ostried?”
Eva hesitated before answering. The desire for a place that temporarily – protected her from the hardship of life – where she could test herself unhindered, far from the physical hardship, before she tied herself firmly to Paul Karlsen, urged her to give in. – But inner truthfulness forbade her to give in.
“Still, I couldn’t promise, madam.”
The councilor looked at the young face for a long time. Then she handed the right hand to Eva von Ostried.
“All right then. – Loyalty to my daughter should be enough for me. – Forget the other. – One more word about your salary. I intended to have you transferred a hundred marks a month. Are you satisfied with it? ”
“Fifty marks less than old Pauline’s pardon,” thought Eva bitterly, although this sum was enough for her.
“It will be enough, madam,” she said monotonously.
“So, everything is discussed. Now I will notify my daughter. Just a moment please.” – –
“I’m just afraid you’ll be bored next to me,” said the young woman.
“Let us try to cheer ourselves up every day with a special joy, madam.”
The councilor found the tone in which her daughter spoke to the new companion far too warm to begin with. Certainly she had mentioned a sisterly relationship earlier as very likely. After all, this had to be earned first. So she took hold of the conversation again.
“Is the Monday of next week right for you as the day of entry, Fraulein von Ostried? You are not bound by anything, are you? – Or did you want to arrange something in the deceased’s house? ”
“I could come tomorrow, madam! The loyal old girl who served the president for many years does everything she needs. But you haven’t even given me the name and apartment of your wife’s daughter. ”
The young woman answered in place of her mother. It always gave her a proud pleasure to confess herself to the young artist’s wife.
“Our house is very close here; Karlsbaderstraße 10. We have it wonderful. Just a little dark and cool. Paul Karlsen is on the shield on the gate. – This is my man.”
Eva von Ostried blinked as if she were being pushed out of the darkness into a brightly lit room.
So she should go to Paul Karlsen’s wife? In his house? And be careful that he keep the – conjugal fidelity?
The picture of a woman on a green meadow in the red poppy had already seen the man at her feet. The man whose bride she had considered herself to be.
“What is the matter with you?” Asked the young woman anxiously and looked helplessly at her mother. Had Eva von Ostried really groaned, as if she was tormented by severe pain?
It must have been a mistake! Now she stood with a smile on her face. It was just noticeably straight and stiff.
“Excuse me – I just had one of those little seizures that I unfortunately have to struggle with more often.”
Frau Essling’s voice sounded excited.
“Why haven’t you mentioned it before?”
“God – you want to be” under “, madam. Not true?”
“That’s why you won’t send her away,” the young woman whispered pleadingly.
The councilor completely ignored her daughter’s objection.
“Quite understandable, dear lady. You are sure to find a house in which this little thing does not bother you. Only for my daughter are you, unfortunately, not in need of care. You see that too? ”Eva von Ostried nodded mechanically.
Why didn’t she go now? The councilor’s smile became unbearable until a thought occurred to her.
“Can I perhaps help you in another way, Fraulein?” She asked, basically heartily glad that her act could be undone in an amicable way. “I think you are a sensible girl.”
Eva von Ostried inclined her head a little, as if thanking her for an homage. – But she remained motionless and smiled like a mask. The young woman came to tears.
“I would still ask you, Fraulein von Ostried,” she said quickly and cordially, “but if Mama doesn’t want to,[S. 162]I always have to submit. Please don’t be so very sad. I will warmly recommend you to all my acquaintances and until you have found something, visit me diligently every day. Even with meals. We dine around 2 and 7 a.m. Yes, do you want to do that? ”
Frau Essling had gone into the next room and was now coming back in a hurry. She pressed a sealed envelope into Eva von Ostried’s hand.
“All the best for your way, and when you go out don’t fall over the stupid step that leads down to the hall.”
“You are very kind, madam! You can rely on it. I will not fall! ”
Had she bowed or – was she divorced without greeting? She must have overlooked the young woman’s outstretched right hand and pleading look.
“She has lost something,” said Mrs. Elfriede, confused, and pointed to the white area where the beautiful, proud figure had just stood.
It was the envelope in which Frau Essling had magnanimously put a fifty-mark note.
Leap of thought
The next morning around nine o’clock, Counselor Weissgerber was back in his old, dead friend’s apartment. He went straight through the ajar garden gate across the hall to the kitchen. Because he wanted to talk to old Pauline undisturbed. She had huge horn-rimmed glasses on her nose and laboriously and carefully prepared the list of those with fruit and vegetables[S. 163]filled glasses. Obviously she was very uncomfortable with interference in this work.
“There is something more important for you to do just now, Pauline,” said the Counselor hastily. “Take a look here. On this little piece of paper, which I found in a notebook from 1917, our Madam President speaks of all kinds of important notes that should be found in a small black box, the whereabouts of which the good Pauline knows. Do you have any idea where said box is currently? ”
“A little black box? – Yes sir! I put it myself in a larger one on the floor chamber. ”
“We have to get them down in a hurry.”
“What for, Mr. Justice Council?”
“Think a little. You now know about it too. We’re missing something, aren’t we? ”
There was a streak of tension in the old face.
“You just hope, as I do, that something must be found for the young lady. Oh – Mr. Counselor, she is beside herself. She looks to pity. I looked for half the night. There is no corner that would be spared. I must have felt I had to find it, believe me. I even opened our Madam President’s bed. My blessed grandmother also had something written in her pillow. – But all in vain. I stand before a riddle. Everything our Madam President touched and said was as clear as glass. I cannot find my way out of this darkness my entire life. ”
“If I understand you correctly, Fraulein von Ostried has collapsed after all, no matter how brave she has done. She would undoubtedly pull herself together with me. You will know more about it. Or not? – I think she intends to get back into position? A lady asked for detailed information about her by telephone. ”
“She is very proud, Mr. Counselor. I never felt that before. Is it her noble origin or something else. In any case, she doesn’t want to accept anything from us. And how gladly I do it! ”
“I can’t blame her for that, Pauline. It hurts her that she should have come away empty-handed. Most of all it torments your pride, of which you are badly talked about. Believe me, it’s good that she has this. Did she speak to you today? ”
“She only said that someone would pick up her things around noon.”
“And not a word about the” where to “?”
“Nothing. I don’t like questions. It seemed too intrusive to me. She has her own money, Mr. Justice Counselor. I saw it with my eyes. She will probably only use that up now. ”
Even his legal acumen lacked the connection between Eva von Ostried’s statement to him and her apparently completely new decision to get back into position.
“No matter, Pauline, let’s do our duty by rummaging through the box. If it doesn’t matter, we have to be humble! ”
Despite the fact that he repeatedly said to himself that an experienced, clear-thinking woman like the President would not be able to layer decisions of the greatest importance together with worthless lines that might only be worth remembering for herself, he laboriously searched each one – fifteen minutes later no matter how small papers.
This too was in vain, just as he had feared it, and with a sigh he finally flipped the lid down and put the much too bulky lock into the cramp with his own hands.
“I would like to go to her and ask her to come to my house for the time being,” he said to himself.
“I’m afraid, Mr. Counselor, that won’t help. It has become like stone. – When I brought her coffee this morning, she was chalky white. “Did you sleep badly, Miss,” I asked and wanted to stroke her hand a little. Because such a parentless person may now feel doubly and triple lonely. But what do you think, Mr. Counselor; she pulled her hand away and pretended to be very happy. That she would have slept wonderfully and who knows how much she was looking forward to the work. Yes, she said that. But she didn’t look at me. – I haven’t been back in with her since. I only obeyed a little to see if she was crying. I don’t think so. She talked aloud. I even understood what it was. “The greatest evil …” Yes, it was always just these three words.
“If she wasn’t of legal age, I would have contacted the guardian about her long ago.”
“I think she wouldn’t have been satisfied with that either. She could not trust him and will be glad that he has nothing more to say to her. ”
“Doesn’t she have a girlfriend. – Nobody who could exert some influence on you, Pauline? ”
“I never noticed anything like that. Our Madam President has more than once persuaded her in my presence that she should go for a walk with this or that young girl who came to our house. She always refused. I can also guess the reason. ”
“I don’t know of anyone. Rather, I have the conviction of her that she must be a good and reliable comrade. ”
“But she is ten times prettier than the others. You should only see the looks when she walks on the street. Going shopping with her was a lot of fun. Was that a turning around and looking around. – They probably ran after them too. – But foreign young blood is not happy about it. It’s easy to get jealous. ”
“If you just don’t want beauty to become a blessing.”
“There is no need to fear, Mr. Counselor. She could look too cold and proud when one of the young gentlemen was too conspicuous with his admiration. ”
The judiciary had to smile.
“You are right this time too, Pauline. It just doesn’t get into my head that one simply shouldn’t bother about her anymore. ”
“That would be sad, however. But I’ll take care of her whether she likes it or not. – If she’s doing badly, I’ll come to you, Mr. Counselor. You will get the other one. ”
Eva von Ostried was just walking past downstairs, as if lost in deep thought, without noticing the two worried faces. She planned a hurried walk. She wanted to try again to find shelter. The latest newspaper had given her a hint again. The hasty restlessness of the traffic was something she was unfamiliar with. Her head began to ache again. Even so, she did not think of turning back. A dogged defiance lay on her pale face when she finally turned into Friedensstrasse and began to look for the designated number. The new request required an educated support in the east of Berlin.
The house she entered was as dark as if it had been built without a window. The hall smelled of lunchtime cabbage, rabbit, and glue. Every single smell would have been bearable in itself. The union made her sick. – The girl who answered her doorbell on the third floor smiled confidentially at her:
“Well, because you can get into the parlor. Three are all in front of you. ”
She was shown into the kitchen. One of the waiting people moved to one side on her stool.
“We’ll make up.”
Eva did not comply with the friendly request. She struggled with the feeling of dizziness. “A glass of water,” she asked weakly.
One of the girls held a cup with no handle under the open pipe. On the snow-white lips of the newcomers they noticed that their monosyllabic character was not the result of arrogance. Eva von Ostried wanted to drink, but she could not bring the dirty, discarded vessel to her mouth. She put it down silently and turned to go.
– – Late in the afternoon of that day, a cab stopped in front of the late President’s house. Eva von Ostried had already been waiting for her. Now she stepped back from the window. The suitcase and handbag were ready to be carried away. You ready to board yourself. On the mahogany table was again the little black bag with the twelve thousand marks of the entrusted money. Her hand reached out for it and then flinched back empty-handed. But then she pressed her lips together and pulled them to her. –
Now it was decided! –
The old Pauline came running: “You don’t want to leave already, Miss?”
“Isn’t it time you did that,” she asked quietly. “Good-bye, Pauline.”
“Where should we go now? That’s not even possible. ”
“Where to?” The beautiful eyes closed slightly. The robbery in her hand had made her heart cold. “Maybe I’ll write to you sometime, dear Pauline.”