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From Hell to Heaven
Chapter 76 - The honest shoeshine man. The unwelcome Mierl. The dramatist’s dirty laundry hung out. The offended spirit of arrogance abandons the company
1. Whereupon the aforementioned Franz, who was the dramatist’s boot cleaner on Earth, steps over to him, saying: “Although we are all the same over here, I say to Your Highness: listen, you are still the way you were on Earth, and it just doesn’t seem right to me, do you get me? In the world you were of course a great man indeed, and mighty rich into the bargain, which was due mainly to your wife. But all that’s finished now, for we are here in the spirit world, do you get me? And here everyone has to be mighty humble, otherwise there’s Spanish mosquitoes and Luxemburger asparagus! The good lord means well with us here and has given us some light. And I think we should not treat that lightly. Just come with us, it will do you no harm! And look here, your dear Mierl also is here! I mean, the one you kept besides your wife, get me? And you should not be missed wherever your Mierl is! What do you say?”
2. Says the man of drama most indignantly: “Oh you cursed dirty linen! Purgatory seems to be already here so hell cannot be far away. Is not this purely of the devil! Now that stupid creature of a Mierl is also here, and my God-blessed wife too! Well, this will do! Did not my wife depart for eternity two years before me?! And I thought that, having in her later days sighed so piously and passed over so blessedly in the Lord, she would have been floating upon a celestial cloud a long time since. But no, she is here, and a hundred times more miserable than in the world just before her death! And to top it all off, there now comes my minx who has a mouth as sharp as a sword. No, this is all I need, to go to yonder man in such company, he not having minced his words about my having to be humbled yet! But I can smell the roast and shall beware of going over, to simmer before the magician and his transformed Larkfield woman! Damn if one does not run into everything irksome in this pig of a world! Crucifix and damnation; if these are not calamities then I don’t know what are! Perhaps my other part-time amours also shall manifest together with the exercises I carried out with them for a lark!”
3. This the dramatist spoke to himself, but was heard by those around him. And his wife came up, saying to him softly: “John, I had known abut your life in the world, it was also the reason for the disharmony between us in the last years. Yet I have forgiven you everything! Hence make everything good before God and me, your earthly wife who, our of sheer love, sacrificed everything for you, even her father’s love. Don’t fear me, for I shall not reproach you. But follow now Him Whom in the world you always professed to follow exclusively. How often did you accuse me of aristocratic arrogance, but here in the kingdom of humility you are a hundred times more arrogant that I and my relatives! How come?”
4. The man of drama is taken aback, mumbling to himself and giving no reply.
5. At that Mierl comes up, saying to Emma: “I beg your excellency a thousandfold forgiveness for having had your husband. I was usually a good and well-behaved lass. But I met your lord at the gate once, where he really put the pressure on me, giving me a life-and-death promise to marry me, and so I thought it could indeed happen! But the scoundrel strung me along by the nose year after year, there being no more talk of marriage. But I knew nothing about him being married! This I found out only here. But enjoy it now, as I tell the scoundrel off. He shall remember his betrayed Annamierl!”
6. Mierl then turns to the dramatist, saying: “Well, you scoundrel of a water-cabby and pensioned off quartermaster-sergeant, or whatever you were! Who do you think you are? You could actually answer your Mrs. Madam, whom you so deftly took for a ride on Earth? Speak now if you have the guts, you daft scoundrel! All that stuff you told me, that you are single, and the stacks of money you had! If you were such a lord, as you fibbed me, with all that honour stuff, then you couldn’t possibly have been such a daft scoundrel! You know, if I weren’t so ashamed, I would tell your Mrs. Madam how you mucked around with me! Just wait a little, till I tell your Mrs. Madam a bit more! Because now I’m really getting worked up, finding out what an honest, good wife you had!”
7. On hearing such, Max Olaf goes over to the dramatist, saying and interrupting Mierl: “Well, dear friend, some very praiseworthy episodes of your earthly life emerges here. Verily, I had heard none of this about you. So this is the faithfulness and love you handed out to your good wife? Oh you swine of a man of honour! Indeed, now I see why you shy away from the Larkfield woman. Perhaps she took part in some of your leapfrogging on the side? And hence it shall not be pleasant for you to go with me to where they seem to know you better than I ever knew you! Friend, if your marital affairs stand thus, even whilst you would still stand there as a man of honour, then I must ask you not to come over with me to yonder purest and holiest humanitarian! I should show damned little respect for yonder holy one if I were to present such paragon of swinish virtue to him! Do as you please now, but I shall wisely refrain from further companionship with you.
8. “Poor Emma! Had I known what kind of man you had on Earth then I would not have imposed a defamation claim on you! But let all of you come along to yonder great and holy friend of humanity! There you shall be compensated for any injustice that I ever inflicted upon you! But this swine can go wherever he likes!”
9. Says the baron: “No, this I would never have believed about this man! So it remains true – whatever is common stays common! But what has happened has happened! Whilst we don’t intend to judge him, he is not fit for our company in this world! (Turning to the dramatist) Leave us and avoid our company! Your most appropriate place is over there among the proletariat! Perhaps you shall find a few goddesses who poured out nectar for you during your Pasha’s Feasts!”
10. Says the incensed dramatist: “Surely, even here one has the right to prohibit such scurrility! Did not my upright wife also give parties every Saturday? I am not aware of these having been Ignatius de Loyola study sessions! Nobody, by the way, has any business giving me orders over here, for I don’t think I need spokesman! I will not tolerate any further crude remarks in future, for I shall know what to do! You do not incidentally need to hint at my unfitness for your exalted aristocratic company for I now thank God for being rid of such riff-raff in a convenient manner. In the background over there I fortunately see several good acquaintances. With these I am sure to have a more respectful reception than with you conceited, lofty aristocratic rabble!”
11. With these words the man of drama leaves their company for his acquaintances. Emma tries to stop him but he rushes off, pushing her aside.
12. But Max Olaf says: “Let him go! Perhaps he is off to his rise – or his fall. But we shall pray yonder Lord to give him grace upon grace! Hence, let us move over to the Saviour of mankind!”
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