Eleven Thousand Virgins and the Four Holy Three Kings

By Hanns Heinz Ewers (1926) Revised Grotesken. Von Eilftausand Jungfrauen und den Vier heiligen Dreikönigen Translation by Joe E. Bandel 2008 Story Copyright Wilfried Kugel Translation Copyright Joe E. Bandel We were traveling across to Cologne. Why would we want to do that? Simply because if a man has a feminine friend in Dusseldorf and wants to go sight seeing he travels to Cologne and the man from Cologne likewise travels to Dusseldorf. It only takes forty minutes and everything is entirely different. You can in this same time also travel to Krefeld or Essen, to Duisburg or Elbefeld or to a dozen different nearby cities. That doesn¶t matter. What matters is that you are going to someplace different. I was traveling to Cologne with style this time. Her name was Finchen. I could see three other things that were stylish as well. First, Finchen did not travel alone. I had to take her plump friend Bertha along. Second, Bertha was in second class and not here. Third, the stylish Finchen explained that she only traveled to proper, educational places. First she must see the Cathedral, then the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, then to St. Gereonen, then². Now to see all of this would take all week, not just four hours. But Finchen wanted to be home by dark. You can¶t see much more if you needed to travel back from Cologne. On the sixth of January we traveled across and were already in the Cathedral by eight-oclock. A friend of mine was already there waiting. He was supposed to escort the plump Bertha. His name was Schmitz²What else would a man be named in Cologne? ²Peter Schmitz. It was well for him that he had a passion for large women. He radiated when he had something wobbly to cuddle and squeeze. Now the sixth of January²it is a shame that I must say this, In old Christian times all the people knew but now today even the ones that live on the Rhein scarcely do ²The sixth of January is also Three Kings Day.

The clever Finchen noticed and wondered what was going on. So many people in the Cathedral were celebrating and over the High Altar electric light bulbs were arranged in glowing letters that spelled out: C.M.B. ³What do these letters mean?´ She remarked lightly. By the way, she was not from the Rhein but from distant California where the people are also highly devoted but more to oranges and movies than to old buildings, bones and Saints. So I said that it was apparently a lighted advertisement for cigarettes. ³The µB¶ means µBatschar¶ and the µM¶ stands for µMuratti¶ or perhaps for µManoli¶ or perhaps for both companies. They all put up such offensive advertisements. The µC¶ is apparently a misprint. They must have forgotten the small crossways line that would make it a µG¶ and that would be for µGarbaty¶.´ My friend Schmitz grinned, nodded and said, ³It could mean that!´ The honest Bertha appeared enlightened by my explanation. But the stylish Finchen didn¶t believe a word of it. She declared furthermore that no one would permit an advertisement for cigarettes in a church. Then she ran over to the red jacketed Cathedral attendant. He confirmed that she was entirely correct and the ArchBishop would never permit such a thing. Furthermore, it was a sacred advertisement for the Holy Three Kings: The µB¶ didn¶t mean µBatschar¶ at all, it meant µBalthasar¶; the µM¶ meant µManoli¶ or µMelchior¶ instead of µMuratti¶; and µC¶ in no way meant µGarbaty¶ but µKaspar¶! ³Now,´ I excused myself. ³I was a little correct about the µC¶ being a misprint. If there had been a true µK¶ for the Holy King Kaspar I would have recognized it easily!´ But Finchen said it was a stupid excuse, that I was an uneducated man and should keep my mouth shut. So we took the red jacketed fellow along. He traveled around with us and talked like a waterfall. Finchen thought it was all very instructive, especially about the sacred bones. She showed an extraordinary comprehension but in the middle of the explanation said that she had enough and would look more next time. Peter Schmitz was staying back with Bertha. I thought I saw him make a tender pass at her near a side altar. We met up with them both at a portal further along. My friend thought Bertha was a real handful, a good Catholic maiden and an outlander. Even more endearing, she was in the need of a good education. Next we went to St. Gereonen where, thank God, there was no Sexton or attendant to encounter. We clattered around in the crypt. Schmitz declared that the sacred bones of the

eleven thousand virgins must be down there somewhere but we didn¶t find as much as a small collar bone. That¶s when Finchen again insulted me for having such a useless friend that knew absolutely nothing! She discovered an old solitary Mother praying on a bench way in back. She waited until there was a small pause in the prayer and asked where we could find the sacred remains of the virgins. The pious Mother was very angry and said they couldn¶t be seen here. They were in St. Ursula¶s and by the way, today was Three Kings Day and the eleven thousand virgins could only be viewed on Ursula Day. Then only at nighttime when they go outside and are carried around St. Ursula¶s church. But this church belonged to St. Gereonen who was known as the general of the Theban Legion²Of whom all were martyrs. There were many more than eleven thousand and by their sacrifice were probably more successful than Ursula with her virgins²She could only recommend we would be better off visiting St. Gereonen and his Legion. Finchen thanked her for the good information. Then to the Wallraf-Richartz-Museum. There Schmitz took his leave saying he had an important business appointment but could meet us at the ³Eternal Lamp´ in two hours. The old swindler²Business in Cologne on Three Kings Day! ²It was my thought that he was trying to pass as a true Cologner and had never set foot in the museum. He didn¶t want to be put on the spot and asked any more questions or get scolded again. Finchen dismissed him very ungratefully. If he wanted to get back in favor with her again he needed to read a few books. He should study up on the Sacred Virgins and the Holy Kings and tell her about them at the afternoon meal. Naturally Schmitz promised to do so. My truth radiates from the light of the old Rheinish Masters²When instructing people from California it is easy²I rummaged through all my knowledge, every possible long forgotten and fallen bit of information. I don¶t know if everything was right, if I had it all right, but in any case I was making an excellent impression on Finchen. That is until I started talking about the Master of the Holy Family and St. Bartholomew¶s Altar. With Hawk eyes I referred to Stephen Lochner which contained difficult words in the Liesdorfer School of Speech. A museum attendant couldn¶t have done it more beautifully, only more correctly. All I really knew was the fellow with the big hole in his leg was St. Rochas and the Lady with the tongs was St. Apollonia who suffered from a toothache. It was so well done that Finchen¶s regard for my knowledge climbed to an extraordinary degree. I rushed from room to room as the Rosicrucian Master and the portly Bertha whose lover waited at the ³Eternal Lamp´ valiantly rushed along with.

But it didn¶t matter, the eager to learn maiden from California didn¶t have the capacity for any more nor the inclination to come along. She stayed there. I thought to myself that there must be an atavistic impulse in her. She came out of Los Angeles and the painting was called simply ³La Ciudad de la Nuestra Se ora de Los Angeles´. No wonder that she had a secret love for all the Madonnas. She stood for a half-hour in front of ³Madonna with cetch´ and simply wouldn¶t leave ³Madonna of the Rose Arbor´. The dear God must have understood and sent splendid snowy weather. It became so gloomy in the museum that you couldn¶t recognize any more paintings. {This is a sample. This entire story may be found in Hanns Heinz Ewers Volume II by Joe E Bandel in cooperation with the Hanns Heinz Ewers estate.}