She woke me with her mouth. Not quite awake, just conscious of the open window to the lake and the moonlight flooding the room, I felt her sliding over me, smooth and warm beneath my hands, soft at first and then becoming hard as her muscles coiled, her mouth over my mouth and her hair in my eyes, blotting out everything except the physical excitement which mounted steadily as I moved too, as we moved together, and I did not hear the singing until we were finished and she was lying beside me, her mouth against my throat.

"Hey, they're singing at the Schloss." I was wide awake now.

"Yes. That is what woke me up."

Three voices, accompanied by an accordion, singing in unison, a sad song, a chant, and I could not understand the words.

"A Czechish song," Paola murmured. "From Czechoslovakia."

The Czechs sang on and on, verse after verse of the same song. When they stopped there was silence, then some applause, voices, laughter, some chords on the accordion, more voices, then silence, then a girl's voice, low and clear, accompanied only by a guitar:

Vous savez bien
Que dans le fond je n'en crois rien,
Mais cependant je veux encore
Ecouter ce mot que j'adore . . .
After the first verse the girl said something, there was a false start on the accordion, and then a dozen voices joined in the refrain:
Parlez-moi d'amour,
Redites-moi des choses tendres . . .
Votre beau discours,
Mon coeur n'est pas las de 1'entendre.
Pourvu que toujours,
Vous repetiez ces mots supremes
Je vous aime.

Gently I untangled myself, got out of bed and walked to the window. There were no lights in the Schloss, but it stood out clearly, a white rectangle in the moonlight. Cigarettes glowed on the terrace. The French song ended, there was another burst of applause, then silence. I heard her step out of the bed and then felt her press herself against my back her cheek behind my shoulder, her arms around my waist.

"What's the matter, my dear?" she asked.

"I don't know!'

"Are you sad?"

"Yes - No, I'm terribly happy, but that makes me sad. Because I know. . . it can't ever be like this . . . it can't ever be this good. Isn't that crazy?"

Now the guitar began again, and across the water came a man's voice, singing in Italian.

"What is that?' I asked.

"That's Mozart," she said. "A song from Cosi fan tutte. He sings about --the breath of love."

Al cor che, nudrito
Da speme d'amore, sang the voice across the water
D'un esca miglore
Bisogno non ha.
"I can't understand Italian," I said, and as the singer repeated the first part of the aria, Paola pressed her cheek against my back and spoke the words in English: "A breath of love . . . Del nostro tesoro . . . our treasures? Un dolce ristoro . . . a sweet refreshment? AI cor porgera . . . will give? Offer? Be for our hearts."

The voice stopped. The guitar stopped. The lake was silent.

"For our hearts," Paola said.

I turned around and looked at her. "Paola . . ."

"I know, my dear." She came into my arms.

"Won't you please marry me and stay with me?"

"Oh . . . Graham, don't tempt me so much, I want to do it, it would be so easy to say yes, but I know it isn't the right thing for you."

The singing began again, this time the Dutch, a lot of voices raised in a loud, confident, cheerful tune, with a louder repetitious chorus.

"Let's get dressed and walk over," I said.

She didn't want to. She stepped to her mirror and began to brush her hair. "It would look so . . . Oh, I don't know the right word, Graham, I suppose they know you sleep here with me. Some of them know it. Certainly Peter knows it. But if we just arrive there, together, in the middle of the night . . . I think it will make me ashamed. You go alone if you want."

But of course I couldn't do that, so we went back to bed and drank Cognac and listened to the songs floating through the moonlight.

"They have not sung any German songs," said Paola after a while. I thought she was asleep.

The singers were trying to find some songs they all knew. With varying degrees of success they sang "La Marseillaise," the "Beer-Barrel Polka" and "Tipperary." There was laughter and conversation, which gradually died away into silence. I balanced a cool glass on my chest and dozed, feeling the Cognac rising.

Suddenly a new voice came across the lake, a man singing in south German dialect, alone and unaccompanied:

Zu Lauterbach han i mein Strumpf verlohr'n
Strumpf verlor'n
ohne Strumpf geh' i net hoam.
Jetzt geh' i halt wieder auf Lauterbach
hol' mir an Strump/ zu den oan.
An old, old folk song. I saw my father, sitting at the piano in Brown's Hotel. A couple of hesitant voices joined in the second verse, then the accordion, and when they reached the last verse, Paola, beside me, sang along:
Wenn i ins Zillertal eini geh'
eini geh',
zieh' i mei Pluderhos' an.
Wenn i mei Dirndle in der Kirche seh',
Kirche seh',
Schau' i kei Heilgen mehr an!
and laughing, she put her hand on my stomach. "You understand that?"

"Oh, I understand it."

"When he sees his girl in church, he doesn't look at the Saints again."

"That fellow knew your husband."

"Which fellow?" She pulled her hand away.

"Hans von Schaumburg, the one who sang that song."

"Schaumburg? I have not heard of him."

"Well, it was in the army," he said.

She lay silent, not touching me now.

"What's the matter?"


"Yes, there is. What's wrong?"

"Just be quiet please." She turned away and pulled the white coverlet over her shoulders. I put the glass on the bedside table and rolled against her, but she kicked her legs against mine and hunched her back. "No, please leave me alone now, I want to go to sleep, I'm tired." Then, after a moment: "You are not very tactful, you know, to talk about my husband when you are lying here in bed with me!"

"I didn't talk about him, I just mentioned that--"

"Sometimes you are still a stupid boy."

"I'm terribly sorry--"

"All right. Now go to sleep- No, Graham, I don't want to any more now, I am not in the mood, just drink your Cognac and let me sleep, please."

As I moved away and reached for the bottle, I heard Hans-Joachim von Schaumburg's voice again, striking up "Gaudeamus Igitur" and this time the accordion, the guitar, and all of the voices on the terrace joined in.

previous chapter, next chapter



1961 - A Point of View
[1] The annual meeting of the stockholders of the Boatwright Corporation
[2] What are you going to do about Boatwright and what are you going to do about yourself?
[3] Have we learned anything this evening, Doctor?
[4] Producing results?
[5] Alexander's Feast
[6] How'd you like to go over to Salzburg for a month with me?

1947 - An Island
[7] You're not going to Berlin. You're staying here.
[8] All right, we're the Military Government.
[9] The Americans are teaching us to be democratic instead of fascistic.
[10] Well, this is Fasching.
[11] Letters after Ash Wednesday
[12] Say Boris is at Schloss Fyrmian.
[13] THE AMERICAN ACADEMY IN EUROPE - Prospectus for the First Session
[14] Learn to think of people as individuals.
>[15] Parlez-moi d'amour, redites-moi des choses tendres.
[16] Not one thing left to show that you've ever been on earth? -"Sources of Soviet Conduct"
[17] A Countess, a Prussian Officer and a Ländler
[18] Now this part of your life is over and I'm sending you home.
[19] A father who's too busy to watch his son die. - The Spring of 1961
[20] I cannot sell Schloss Fyrmian to the Academy.

1961 - A Change of Air
[21] The first thing I saw was the Festung Hohensalzburg far in the distance, silhouetted against the shadowy curtain of the high mountains.
[22] Next day at the Academy we got to work - Graham, you know what Fleischer did?
[23] Im weißen Rößl am Wolfgangsee
[24] Brockaw writing a thesis on Austrian baroque architecture? - Boatwright Corporation and Boris Fleischer, plaintiffs
[25] You know there a Mr. Devereaux? Mr. Armistead Devereaux?
[26] I think always of Peter Devereaux.
[27] It sounds like an act of desperation, and it won't hold up in court.
[28] In those Oklahoma Hills WHERE AH WAS BOW-AHHHN!
[29] ... that we should meet again like this . . . I think perhaps there is a reason.
[30] "Is there here an American by name of Brockaw?"
[31] This is Boris Fleischer!
[32] "Does Hans work for Gehlen?" Paola shook her head. "More the other way around."
[33] Won't you please come home? Everybody needs you, I most of all.
[34] With this Waffenstillstand you have time now.
[35] You're going to regret this for the rest of your life!
[36] We Europeans would not do it. None of us. - People think you need medical attention.
[37] Will they trust you?
[38] Some things about the U.S.A. are perhaps rather important, and to us impressive.
[39] You're going to need a good lawyer.

version: March 2, 2004
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Arthur R.G. Solmssen, Joachim Gruber