What was your most intoxicating moment

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In the street de Cherche midi the mask festival had already begun in the brilliantly lighted house. Countless carriages rolled by through the beautiful, bright winter night, which also painted its adventurous Carnival figures outside with the moonlight, which it let play in fantastic colors on the streets and houses. Soon the sparkling halls inside were filled with the most wonderful guests of all kinds, and the inhabitants of the most opposite zones, mingling in every national costume, the foolish figments of the most daring jokes and the cheeky copies of contemporary figures from the history of the day, gods and people, Spirits and animals, kings and tightrope walkers, the Pope and the Mutes of Portici »(The Mutes of Portici, 1828), great historical opera in five acts by Daniel-François-Esprit Auber (1782-1881). as his wife, Diebitsch Hans Karl von Diebitsch-Sabalkansky (1785-1831), Field Marshal in the Russian Army. and the Swiss milkmaid alluding to the fictional character of the Mimili in H. Claurens (actually Carl Heun, 1771-1854) of the famous trivial story of the same name (1816)., saw each other here, shimmering in all colors, speaking in all tongues, with mutual astonishment and mockery.

The music began, almost too solemnly, in dark, heavily held tones, first of all to hint at the confused, ghostly pleasure of the evening with masks, which rested anxiously like a strange and still undeployed flower. Then it gradually played itself over from this foreboding chaos of the overture into a flattering adagio carried by sweet violins, which was intended to attract and express the growing longing of the masks to separate and come together in related pairs and to loop into one another in a tender dance Until at last a drum reverberation suddenly crashing through the hall, booming again throughout the hall, heralded the jubilant moment when the lust that had been held back for so long was unleashed and the ball began to open itself in the raving enthusiasm of its movements. Now the music turned to fast but regular beats and let the floating grace of the dance melody pass through the rows of masks, which for their part, in the wildest and most delightful contrast of their figures, now recognized an instant harmony as their master above themselves. -

For some time now three figures had been seen floating around in the background of the hall with solemn and meaningful gestures, which were so striking that they soon attracted the eyes of all the other masks, and the dancers, too, hurried to interrupt their dance again in a sudden mood to the wonderful group around which one now generally crowded together. They were the three Fates, in their Greek costumes with all the symbols of their dignity as a god, and holding a thread of fate spun from gold wire together in their hands. This cloverleaf, one of which carried the mystical spindle, while the other was busy winding the thread around it, but the third appeared armed with the threatening scissors, remained serious and silent for a while, all the more slowly and measuredly Steps to make the rounds of the hall. But the crowd around them grew bigger and bigger, they were stopped from all sides laughing, mocking and questioning, and so the fatalities soon found themselves so inhibited in their wandering of fate that they were no longer able to go any further. Then at last a brilliantly clad Turkish mask offered itself by reaching out her arm to the one Parze, who was distinguished by her beautiful figure, which was recognizable even from the fantastic veil, so that she could see the sisters of fate, who now saw themselves entangled in their own fate, to free them from the crowd and use the sharp Turkish saber to make room for them, if they would prophesy their future fate as a reward. The sublime Parze stretched out her arm prophesyingly and exclaimed pathetically:

“Your fate, O Turk! it will be to never have a fate, but to be and stay a boring Muselmann! But you shouldn't become our guide either, because we Parzen are Greeks and hate the janissary music of your Turkish tongue and the opium scent of your glaring gossip! So back, we will prepare our own way for ourselves, for fate hovers through the throng of mortals with spiritual quarrels and seeks who it should meet! "

At these words she hurled the spindle, which she was carrying in her hand, around her a few times, and in order not to be hit by the instrument of fate, one stood back for a moment and gave the goddesses more leeway while others dealt with them Turks surrounded laughing and made his life angry with new attacks on his nationality. Meanwhile, the peace which our Parzen had won was short-lived. A jolly policinell who came dancing up as a baboon and wore a tail so long that, after having wrapped it around his body several times, he could still use it as a balancing staff, by a skillful turn had the Parze's spindle hurled against him he knew how to wind around it with his own tail and, so to speak, how to board it, whereby he brought the fateful wheel to a standstill and was able to get himself back into the immediate vicinity of the interesting masks. Now they were surrounded more and more closely and the one beautiful Parze, who had previously served the Turks with such a fitting prophecy, was now supposed to answer questions about future fate from all sides with her once-tested power of prophecy. She knew something to say to everyone that was often very biting and almost always ingenious, and this increased the general jubilation so much that at last the prophetic dignity of the goddess was completely forgotten again, and she joked with violence from her other fate sisters parted in order to take the amiable woman away to the other part of the room to dance. -

"Good evening, dear Dey, you are creeping your way so melancholy!" Said a fluttering zeitgeist who, as ballet master, seemed to lead the whole festival, to another mask that had just entered the hall as Dey of Algiers. "Be of good cheer and have a little counter-dance here!" - He gave Dey a stormy hug, and Dey replied meekly: "Nothing can be done with me, good zeitgeist! I am a fallen prince, and on the long way from Algiers to here I got corpse in my feet so that I can no longer dance! "

The zeitgeist, however, easily pushed him into the ranks of the mixed dancers, from which the melancholy Dey soon withdrew to step back among the crowd of the dance crowd. As he teased him, people admired his character-appropriate demeanor, with which, in accordance with his well-known misfortune, he knew how to remain true to himself even on the redoubt, without forgiving anything for his suffering, to which the strange mask only responded with such a tremendous sigh that all bystanders ran away comically from this gruesome tone, which was uttered quite from the heart. The Dey, however, remained motionless and directed his gaze especially to the beloved Parze with the spindle that evening, which was not far from him among the happy couples of dancers, and of which he didn’t turn an eye after he thoughtfully stare at it believed to have recognized.

The Parze under consideration, a little freed from the crowd of the dancers, found an opportunity for a moment to look around again at the deserted company of the other goddesses. She soon spied the Parze in the hall with her scissors, who came slowly at her sign and seemed so annoyed that she wanted to use the power of scissors at once to cut the magical thread of all the redoubt lust at once. "I must show you something, dear Marquis!" Said the beautiful, muscular Parze to the one who had come up. “Look, shouldn't the sad, ridiculous figure there, who is rooted to the spot, represent the real Dey of Algiers? Do you remember that I told you a long time ago that I would still marry the Dey? Now you have a well-founded cause to become really jealous again, because he probably came to the ball today to take my word for it! But look! the third Parze finally finds its way here to make our destiny group complete again! "

Dubois emerged from the mixture of masks and, as the third Parze, sought the golden thread of fate that had been entrusted to him to tie back to Madelon's fateful spindle. "Oh, my romantic friend!" Said Madelon, pressing his hand with furtive tenderness. "The fate that binds us together appears as such an easily torn thread of gold?" - "It depends only on you, Goddess!" Replied Dubois, kissing her hand quickly - "Whether you want to weave a more permanent thread on your spindle, that chain our fate together! "- -" Listen! "said Madelon, interrupting him, while she turned to listen to the music -" this is not a ballet by Rossini that begins so rushingly, goes away so gorgeously and so beautifully with the loveliest Alternate passages? «- -

While the swarming mask festival surged up and down in the hall, noisy and cheering, laughing and dancing, a coach suddenly stopped outside the house and came rushing across the deserted street with a dull rattle. The door was opened, a tall male figure, unrecognizable in a cloak, stepped out, and a second, female figure followed, veiled in black, a surprising apparition of mourning. She hung swaying on the old man's arm, and the care with which he occupied himself seemed to show that the sighing girl, whose whole being betrayed an infinite tenderness, had arrived sick and sick.

So the late guests entered the festively lighted house, the unusual splendor of which the elderly guide regarded the lady with astonishment. The music and the roaring noise that echoed from the ballroom into the hallway soon announced the joy that lived there more clearly, but no servant appeared to take over the announcement of those who had arrived. Everything seemed to have lost itself in the attention for the festival as if drunk.

“We feared our visit would disturb the sleepers, my child! - and here lust and delight watch through the jubilant night! "Said the old man in a sadly broken voice to his young companion. "Their joy has in common with our pain the fact that neither of them can sleep, because the night meets us today too, awake and enterprisingly preoccupied with the consequences of our misfortune!"

"Father!" Whispered the veiled girl - "will Madelon like to see us too, us, the troubled ones? Oh, I am ashamed of her in my suffering! Father, with our pain we could have escaped somewhere else than back to Paris to see her! But you wanted it that way, and your poor, sick child likes to follow you in everything! "

"Don't worry about anxious thoughts, my Rosalie!" Replied the father. "You shouldn't think about anything at all, and I'll do everything instead of you, because you need peace, and from the efforts of the journey here in the hospitable home, hopefully, you will soon find a quiet place to sleep and relax." Madelon is wild, but good at the core of her soul, she will take care of your suffering and welcome you as her lap child, that's why I know her! But you should not be ashamed of your suffering in front of anyone, because grieving innocence remains a holy and radiant figure, even if a faithless traitor has insulted it and exposed it to the mockery of the world! Be still in the Lord! this is the consolation of hurt innocence. I will hold the traitor accountable as a man calls a man, and as honor killing is due! That he is staying here in Paris again is what all the traces we spied on led us, and that is why I came to Paris! But you have nothing to do with this business, my child! You only followed your father because he did not want to part with his ailing daughter and was no longer in Coblenz during your stay! "

"Oh father, forget him whom you are looking for and leave him safely where he likes! Your poor dishonored daughter doesn't deserve your sacrificing the rest of your old age for her sake! ”Rosalie sighed with suppressed weeping, but the old Eichen grasped his sword as if in convulsive anger, and the aged heroic figure seemed to rise again as it had in younger years used to fighting . In this situation we find him and his so painfully deceived Rosalie again in the same place in Paris to which the author of the present misfortune, Narciß himself, first led them about a year ago with devoted and ingratiating courtesy, in order to gain thanks and favor to acquire from them. Now the most ominous past lay in the background of this acquaintance, which had begun at that time, which had cruelly destroyed the major's happiness of his old days, which seemed to have risen again so cheerfully and cloudlessly. The new house in Coblenz was already stately, and according to his own favorite idea, had risen from the ashes of the old one, the friendliest rooms invited the happy to settle in, to the cozy family herd, but - where were the happy? They still believed they were, they still trusted the truth of mutual smiles, and in happy, promising prospects, in the ever more firmly entwined habit of daily coexistence, they changed day after day in the caressing beat of time, until at last the unexpected hour came which testified to the hidden lie that had crept into the existence of their happiness. They found Narciß no more than they were looking for him, the call of love, of which he was not worthy, echoed plaintively, but the escaped demon had irretrievably driven away from the place which he had recently considered a paradise which, however, through the old curse, which haunts all the deceptions of unsound hearts, seemed to have gradually disenchanted itself into a wilderness in which he could no longer leave. That is why the new house invited the happy to come to it in vain, because we see everyone who should live peacefully in it now again wandering about in a strange place and not looking for a friendly encounter. -

The major had meanwhile gone up the stairs with his companion, who was huddled up to him in anxious anticipation, where they met a servant who may have taken from today's feast the reason to be amicable in silence, for he betrayed all traces of himself in a state of drunkenness and welcomed the major, whom he seemed to know, with a laughing face, stupidly saying that a German major had just been missing from under the masks inside the hall, so they should only enter quickly. The major indicated that he was anxious, without looking up and without interrupting the festivities of the house by his sudden arrival, to be assigned to a distant room and to postpone his report until the next day. The man acted as if he had understood everything, promised to make the appropriate arrangements and opened a side door of the corridor for them, with the request to enter there for the time being.

A more inadequate mix-up could hardly have arisen than now through the servant's unconsciousness. They followed his instructions and suddenly found themselves placed in a dark corridor, which, however, after they had passed through it, unexpectedly led them out of a second door into the roaring scene of the mask room. Eichen stood still in the door for a moment, surprised, and then immediately wanted to retire with his trembling child when he saw the place where the whim of chance had lured him. But the striking appearance of these new, late guests had already been noticed by some of the masks that were bustling around here at this point; they believed a new redoubt joke in ambush, which had been saved until this moment, and hurried over to meet those who had arrived and drew her into the middle of the room with daring exclamations. Meanwhile, on closer inspection of the strange figures, the error of the masks suddenly seemed to give way; they began to suspect something uncanny in their appearance, which did not belong in the lust of that night, and so they soon gave way on both sides shyly and quickly back again in front of the serious old man and his black-veiled lady.Slowly and with the full dignity of his solemn demeanor, the major stepped back with Rosalia, who hung on his arm like a drooping flower, to the door in which she was first seen, while the astonished masks were scattered and dull among one another by dreamy ghosts the night of the ball whispered.

In the other, busier part of the room, however, this process had hardly been noticed, least of all by Madelon himself, who had just found an opportunity in a window recess to talk to Dubois unnoticed in what seemed to be a very attractive conversation. But that eavesdropping mask there, which hitherto stood inaccessible in a corner with folded arms, as Dey of Algiers the target of every mocking person who danced past, has perceived everything with increasing horror and is now, for the first time that night, caught in the most unmistakable excitement. Narciß - for it was no one else - had recognized those who suddenly appeared in the hall only too well as those whom he never hoped to meet again, and the awakening horrors of conscience began, at the sight of them, his whole nature, which had hitherto still begun who had wavered to the limit of madness to be carried away in a violent outburst of furious pain.

As if hurrying away from the furies, he ran with hasty steps to a lonely place where he believed he was being watched by no one. Here he stood still and seemed to want to go back to himself. “Two spirits of revenge have come!” He said to himself - “and I would like to escape them if I can! But there is no more escape to think of! Here everything holds me firmly in this place, here even the music winds itself, which growls, moans, sighs and screams everywhere in the wide hall and lurks for me like a long net around my unhappy head, so that I have to give myself up! Yes, if it weren't for this horrific music here in the hall, which is so devilishly buzzing around me with its thunderstorm growing louder and louder, I think I could still flee from there and save myself; but she circles around me with her tones that are getting closer and closer to me, she holds me tight, she won't let me go, she must know me that I am an unfaithful poor sinner! Almighty God! it rings in my ears and heart, it roars in my brain, it twitches like fire in every vein! I saw the old oak, his expression threatened me like a god of war, and his mournful butterfly hung on his arm, mute accusing me of having paralyzed his youthful wings! What does the god of war want from me? I can do without his weapons, for I have a dagger myself to use as a punishment! "

With these words he reached into his bosom, where he hid the deadly tool that he had carried around with him for the last few days, with desperate intentions. The sparkling edge flashed towards him; He drew the dagger further and further out of the folds of the robe, and played pensively for a while with the flat of his hand on the tip of it. An uncanny glow spurted out of his rolling eyes, but suddenly another thought seemed to take hold of him; he pushed the fateful weapon back into his robe and directed his gaze with a mad smile on the groups of dancers floating in the foreground, who were now moving up and down in the lively beats of a cotillon.

"I must see her again, the romantic, the sorceress!" Whispered the unfortunate Narciß to himself, as he approached with staggering steps. “There the lovely Parze flies in the arms of a happy man, and hardly seems to touch the earth, for it is light and swift, like a spirit walking on morning clouds! O my Madelon, shall we walk away together on morning clouds? The night of the ball was cheering wearily, the hall swayed with sleepiness, all the instruments were complaining of a dying lullaby, and outside behind the shutters the deathly pale day was dawning and sending us its cold morning clouds, on which we had to hurry away! Yes, Madelon, it's you I see floating there! Your figure would also shine out of the mask of a devil, and you will still recognize it as beautiful when you dream your bloom next to me in the grave! Yes, next to me in the grave today! Aren't you the one who was actually unhappy in my life? I remember more and more clearly on you and your love spell, with which you intoxicated me once and then pushed me out into the desolate street again, where I had to freeze my heart in the dark winter night! You have enchanted me so much by your being that I became so wild and swarmed around without rest like a deceptive madman who lures everyone who believed in him down into the deadly abyss. What seemed charming in all of you, your dangerous nature, turned into evil violence just as you transplanted it into me, which will now destroy me and you! So come on, great sorceress! I always thought of you, even when I hated you, and far away from you the thought often haunted me as if you were close to me and I had to meet the lightning of your eye! Today the retribution demands you to the last dance through me! «-

The beaming girl, who was so completely indulging in the joyful frenzy of the festival, had just stepped back from the ranks with her dancer when Narciß approached her with striking haste, it seemed as if he wanted her to accept a second Please dance. Madelon made an indignant gesture when she saw him coming, and joked about the sympathetic trait which drove Dey of Algiers, under whose mask she could not foresee the unfortunate, to her; but at the moment when she stretched out her hand to him, even the madness which Narcissens had mastered no longer held back his hideous work. With a sombre cry of fury he brandished the dagger, and pierced it deep in the bosom of the pale; but with demonic swiftness, even before the noblest figure had sunk, he had turned the steel against himself and dipped it three times into his chest, so that at the same time it slid down to the floor with her. In the agony of death he tore off his mask and sighed and showed the bystanders his face, on which lay the dark, approaching shadows of a peaceable death; but as he wanted to turn towards Madelon once more to rest closer to her, the last vital force fled from him and he collapsed with a shrill sound of pain, his head stretched motionless to the earth. But Madelon was still breathing loudly and strongly like a dying swan, from which the fleeing melody of life winds its way up from the twitching breast, and from the wound of the snow-white breast, into whose sanctuary the murderous dagger penetrated, death trickled quietly and hesitantly in slow purple drops of the most precious blood.

Only gradually did the horror of this deed run through the festive halls of the house, and the music had scarcely been able to be silenced by the general horror that interrupted the joy of the night, but rummaged through the confused reverberation for a moment of the instruments like muffled grave chants. At last even the slightest note had faded away and a breathless silence now seemed to brood over the horror of the event, which had entered everyone like an incomprehensible ghost.

Eichen and Rosalie, who had lingered in the anteroom, stepped back into the hall with shy curiosity when they heard the strange news whispered about the suddenly changed scene. They approached the group around which all were gathered, and at last saw, with the most painful surprise, not only the escaped Narciß in his blood, for whom her revenge had sought, but also the wonderful friend, who she had intended for her visit , now no longer able to say a happy welcome.

Dubois had wrapped his arm around the dying woman and was trying hard to lift her into a fetched lounger so that she could be given any help in her room, for which she had already been sent on all sides. Nevertheless, a smiling peace played over her pale face, and the large, eloquent eye had opened clearly as usual to look around the circle of those standing by, among whom she was pleased with her loved ones, and also the major and his grieving daughter. seemed to recognize and greet. Partly still dressed in the fantastic Mardi Gras dress, the sufferer lay there, waiting for the moment when the masks of the beautiful earth cover would completely strip away from the divine nature in her. At her feet in the armchair sat the poor old Marquis, passed out in pain that he will not last long, and still clasped the Parzen scissors which his redoubt costume had given him to-day. The thread of life of the playfully recreated group of fate had been torn by the penetrating power of a higher ruling, serious fate!

But be quiet! her chair is gently lifted up and the sufferer is to be carried away to her resting place. Excited by the shock, she suddenly lets her head slide down on her bosom, and at the same moment the rays of the eyes go out and the breathing of the mouth ceases. The porters carry the dead there. Since the moment they were stabbed in the dagger, she hadn't spoken a single word to her friends, only addressed them through the meaningful expression of her eyes, and now these lips and these eyes are dedicated to the temple, otherwise for jokes and sensible thoughts forever silent with each other! -

The masked guests, now carrying away the fearful horror with them, had all wailedly dispersed. Eichen sat reflecting, with a hot tear in his old man's eye, on the Ottomanne in a corner of the deserted room. Next to him his daughter, his youthful head, heavy with so much pain, weeping on her father's bosom. "Rosalie, dear, sorrowful child!" Said the old man, "the saying that I reminded you of before must now become the only consolation for all of us: Let us be quiet in the Lord!" The shapes of our existence flow apart like crazy dream images, but we find the truth of the dream and worship in God, the source of our existence! Life casts ghostly shadows over every span of time, but to the shadows He is the light who at the end of the days will have mercy on his shadows and unite them with his light! Then the shaking shadows, which swarm through the carnival game of this earth, have stopped shining and swarming, and have found a holy immaculate being in the calm of the sky! From now on let us seek the most hidden solitude for our life and humbly pilgrimage away and be quiet in the Lord, O you my mourning flower, my withering girl! "

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