Erasmus Spikher  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Die Geschichte vom verlorenen Spiegelbild is one of the tales of E. T. A. Hoffmann. In this story, the protagonist Erasmus Spikher has lost his reflection. The young German, who during a stay in Italy encounters a certain Giulietta with whom he falls passionately in love, forgets the wife and child waiting for him at home. Before he has to leave Giulietta, she asks him for his reflection:

"Giuletta," cried Erasmus in amazement. "What do you mean? My reflection?" He looked in the mirror, which showed him himself and Giuletta in sweet, close embrace. "How can you keep my reflection? It is part of me. It springs out to meet me from every clear body of water or polished surface."
"Aren't you willing to give me even this dream of your ego? Even though you say you want to be mine, body and soul? Won't you even give me this trivial thing, so that after you leave, it can accompany me in the loveless, pleasureless life that is left to me?"
Hot tears started from Giuletta's beautiful dark eyes.
At this point Erasmus, mad with pain and passion, cried, "Do I have to leave? If I have to, my reflection will be yours forever and a day. No power-not even the Devil-can take it away from you until you own me, body and soul."

The tale is analyzed by Todorov in the light of the doppelgänger trope in The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre, page 69.

Complete text

Translated by? Copyright status?

Things finally worked out so that Erasmus Spikher was able to fulfill the wish that he had cherished all his life. He climbed into the coach with high spirits and a well-filled knapsack. He was leaving his home in the North and journeying to the beautiful land of Italy. His devoted wife was weeping copiously, and she lifted little Rasmus (after carefully wiping his mouth and nose)

into the coach to kiss his father goodbye.."Farewell, Erasmus Spikher," said his wife, sobbing. "I will keep your house well for you.

Think of me often, remain true to me, and do not lose your hat if you fall asleep near the window, as you always do." Spikher promised.

In the beautiful city of Florence Spikher found some fellow Germans, young men filled with high spirits and joie de vivre, who spent their time revelling in the sensual delights which Italy so well affords. He impressed them as a good fellow and he was often invited to social occasions since he had the talent of supplying soberness to the mad abandon about him, and gave the party a highly individual touch.

One evening in the grove of a splendid fragrant public garden, the young men (Erasmus could be included here, since he was only twenty-seven) gathered for an exceptionally merry feast.

Each of the men, except Spikher, brought along a girl. The men were dressed in the picturesque old Germanic costume, and the women wore bright dresses, each styled differently, often fantastically, so that they seemed like wonderful mobile flowers. Every now and then one of the girls would sing an Italian love song, accompanied by the plaintive notes of mandolins, and the men would respond with a lusty German chorus or round, as glasses filled with fine Syracuse wine clinked. Yes, indeed, Italy is the land of love.

The evening breezes sighed with passion, oranges and jasmine breathed out perfume through the grove, and it all formed a part in the banter and play which the girls (delightfully merry as only Italian women can be) began. Wilder and noisier grew the fun. Friedrich, the most excited of all, leaped to his feet, one arm around his mistress, waving high a glass of sparkling Syracuse wine with the other, and shouted, "You wonderful women of Italy! Where can true, blissful love be found except with you? You are love incarnate! But you, Erasmus," he continued, turning to Spikher, "You don't seem to understand this. You've violated your promise, propriety and the custom. You didn't bring a girl with you, and you have been sitting here moodily, so quiet and self-concerned that if you hadn't been drinking and singing with us I'd believe you were suffering an attack of melancholy."

"Friedrich," replied Erasmus, "I have to confess that I cannot enjoy myself like that. You know that I have a wife at home, and I love her. If I took up with a girl for even one night it would be betraying my wife. For you young bachelors it's different, but I have a family."

The young men laughed uproariously, for when Erasmus announced his family obligations his pleasant young face became very grave, and he really looked very strange. Friedrich's mistress, when Spikher's words had been translated for her (for the two men had spoken German), turned very seriously to Erasmus, and said, half-threateningly, finger raised, "Cold-blooded, heartless German watch out-you haven't seen Giuletta yet."

At that very instant a rustling noise indicated that someone was approaching, and out of the dark night into the area lighted by the candles strode a remarkably beautiful girl. Her white dress, which only half-hid her bosom, shoulders and neck, fell in rich broad folds; her sleeves, puffed and full, came only to her elbows; her thick hair, parted in the front, fell in braids at the back.

Golden chains around her throat, rich bracelets upon her wrists, completed her antique costume.

She looked exactly if she were a woman from Miens or Rembrandt walking about. "Giuletta,"

shrieked the girls in astonishment and delight.

Giuletta, who was by far the most beautiful of all the women present, asked in a sweet, pleasant voice, "Good Germans, may I join you? I'll sit with that gentleman over there. He doesn't have a girl, and he doesn't seem to be having a very good time, either." She turned very graciously to Erasmus, and sat down upon the empty seat beside him-empty because everyone thought Erasmus would bring a girl along, too. The girls whispered to each other, "Isn't Giuletta.beautiful tonight," and the young men said, "How about Erasmus? Was he joking with us? He's got the best-looking girl of all!"

As for Erasmus, at the first glance he cast at Giuletta, he was so aroused that he didn't even know what powerful passions were working in him. As she came close to him, a strange force seized him and crushed his breast so that he couldn't even breathe. Eyes fixed in a rigid stare at her, mouth agape, he sat there not able to utter a syllable, while all the others were commenting upon Giuletta's charm and beauty.

Giuletta took a full goblet, and standing up, handed it with a friendly smile to Erasmus. He seized the goblet, touching her soft fingers, and as he drank, fire seemed to stream through his veins. Then Giuletta asked him in a bantering way, "Am I to be your girl friend?" Erasmus threw himself wildly upon the ground in front of her, pressed her hands to his breast, and cried in maudlin tones, "Yes, yes, yes! You goddess! I've always been in love with you. I've seen you in my dreams, you are my fortune, my happiness, my higher life!"

The others all thought the wine had gone to Erasmus's head, since they had never seen him like this before; he seemed to be a different man.

"You are my life! I don't care if I am destroyed, as long as it's with you," Erasmus shouted.

"You set me on fire!" But Giuletta just took him gently in her arms. He became quieter again, and took his seat beside her. And once again the gaiety which had been interrupted by Erasmus and Giuletta began with songs and laughter. Giuletta sang, and it was as if the tones of her beautiful voice aroused in everyone sensations of pleasure never felt before but only suspected to exist. Her full but clear voice conveyed a secret ardor which inflamed them all. The young men clasped their mistresses more closely, and passion leaped from eye to eye.

Dawn was breaking with a rosy shimmer when Giuletta said that she had to leave. Erasmus got ready to accompany her home, but she refused but gave him the address at which he could find her in the future. During the chorus which the men sang to end the party, Giuletta disappeared from the grove and was seen walking through a distant allée, preceded by two linkmen. Erasmus did not dare follow her.

The young men left arm in arm with their mistresses, full of high spirits, and Erasmus, greatly disturbed and internally shattered by the torments of love, followed, preceded by his boy with a torch. After leaving his friends, he was passing down the distant street which led to his dwelling, and his servant had just knocked out the torch against the stucco of the house, when a strange figure mysteriously appeared in the spraying sparks in front of Erasmus. It was a tall, thin, dried-out- looking man with a Roman nose that came to a sharp point, glowing eyes, mouth contorted into a sneer, wrapped in a flame-red cloak with brightly polished steel buttons. He laughed and called out in an unpleasant yelping voice, "Ho, ho, you look as if you came out of a picture book with that cloak, slit doublet and plumed hat. You show a real sense of humor, Signor Erasmus Spikher, but aren't you afraid of being laughed at on the streets? Signor, signor, crawl quietly back into your parchment binding."

"What the Devil is my clothing to you?" said Erasmus with anger, and shoving the red-clad stranger aside, he was about to pass by when the stranger called after him, "Don't be in such a hurry. You won't get to Giuletta that way."

"What are you saying about Giuletta?" cried Erasmus wildly. He tried to seize the red-clad man by the breast, but he turned and disappeared so rapidly that Erasmus couldn't even see where he went, and Erasmus was left standing in astonishment, in his hand a steel button that had been ripped from the stranger's cloak.."That's the Miracle Doctor Dapertutto. What did he want?" asked Erasmus's servant. But Erasmus was seized with horror, and without replying, hastened home.

When, some time later, Erasmus called on Giuletta, she received him in a very gracious and friendly manner, yet to Erasmus's fiery passion she opposed a mild indifference. Only once in a while did her eyes flash, whereupon Erasmus would feel shudders pass through him, from his innermost being, when she regarded him with an enigmatic stare. She never told him that she loved him, but her whole attitude and behaviour led him to think so, and he found himself more and more deeply entangled with her. He seldom saw his old friends, however, for Giuletta took him into other circles.

Once Erasmus met Friedrich at a time when Erasmus was depressed, thinking about his native land and his home. Friedrich said, "Don't you know, Spikher, that you are moving in a very dangerous circle of acquaintances? You must realize by now that the beautiful Giuletta is one of the craftiest courtesans on earth. There are all sorts of strange stories going around about her, and they put her in a very peculiar light. I can see from you that she can exercise an irresistible power over men when she wants to. You have changed completely and are totally under her spell. You don't think of your wife and family any more."

Erasmus covered his face with his hands and sobbed, crying out his wife's name. Friedrich saw that a difficult internal battle had begun in Spikher. "Erasmus," he said, "let us get out of here immediately."

"Yes, Friedrich," said Erasmus heavily. "You are right. I don't know why I am suddenly overcome by such dark horrible foreboding-I must leave right away, today."

The two friends hastened along the street, but directly across from them came Signor Dapertutto, who laughed in Erasmus's face, and cried nasally, "Hurry, hurry; a little faster.

Giuletta waiting; her heart is full of longing, and her eyes are full of tears. Make haste. Make haste."

Erasmus stood as if struck by lightning.

"This scoundrel," said Friedrich, "this charlatan-I cannot stand him. He is always in and out of Giuletta's, and he sells her his magical potions."

"What!" cried Erasmus. "That disgusting creature visits Giuletta, Giuletta?"

"Where have you been so long? Everything is waiting for you. Didn't you think of me at all,"

breathed a soft voice from the balcony. It was Giuletta, in front of whose house the two friends, without noticing it, had stopped. With a leap Erasmus was in the house.

"He is gone, and cannot be saved," said Friedrich to himself, and walked slowly away.

Never before had Giuletta been more amiable. She wore the same clothing that she had worn when she first met Erasmus, and beauty, charm and youth shone from her. Erasmus completely forgot his conversation with Friedrich, and now more than ever his irresistible passion seized him. This was the first time that Giuletta showed without reservation her deepest love for him.

She seemed to see only him, and to live for him only. At a villa which Giuletta had rented for the summer, a festival was being celebrated, and they went there. Among the company was a young Italian with a brutal ugly face and even worse manners, who kept paying court to Giuletta and arousing Erasmus's jealousy. Fuming with rage, Erasmus left the company and paced up and down in a side path of the garden. Giuletta came looking for him. "What is wrong with you?p

Aren't you mine alone?" she asked. She embraced him and planted a kiss upon his lips. Sparks of passion flew through Erasmus, and in a passion he crushed her to himself, crying, "No, I will.not leave you, no matter how low I fall." Giuletta smiled strangely at these words, and cast at him that peculiar oblique glance which never failed to arouse a chilly feeling in him.

They returned to the company, and the unpleasant young Italian now took over Erasmus's role.

Obviously enraged with jealousy, he made all sorts of pointed insults against Germans, particularly Spikher. Finally Spikher could bear it no longer, and he strode up to the Italian and said, "That's enough of your insults, unless you'd like to get thrown into the pond and try your hand at swimming." In an instant a dagger gleamed in the Italian's hand, but Erasmus dodged, seized him by the throat, threw him to the ground, and shattered his neck with a kick. The Italian gasped out his life on the spot.

Pandemonium broke loose around Erasmus. He lost consciousness, but felt himself being lifted and carried away. When he awoke later, as if from a deep enchantment, he lay at Giuletta's feet in a small room, while she, head bowed over him, held him in both her arms.

"You bad, bad German," she finally said, softly and mildly. "If you knew how frightened you've made me! You've come very close to disaster, but I've managed to save you. You are no longer safe in Florence, though, or even Italy. You must leave, and you must leave me, and I love you so much."

The thought of leaving Giuletta threw Erasmus into pain and sorrow. "Let me stay here," he cried. "I'm willing to die. Dying is better than living without you."

But suddenly it seemed to him as if a soft, distant voice was calling his name painfully. It was the voice of his wife at home. Erasmus was stricken dumb. Strangely enough, Giuletta asked him, "Are you thinking of your wife? Ah, Erasmus, you will forget me only too soon!"

"If I could only remain yours forever and ever," said Erasmus. They were standing directly in front of the beautiful wide mirror, which was set in the wall, and on the sides of it tapers were burning brightly. More firmly, more closely, Giuletta pressed Erasmus to her, while she murmured softly in his ear, "Leave me your reflection, my beloved; it will be mine and will remain with me forever."

"Giuletta," cried Erasmus in amazement. "What do you mean? My reflection?" He looked in the mirror, which showed him himself and Giuletta in sweet, close embrace. "How can you keep my reflection? It is part of me. It springs out to meet me from every clear body of water or polished surface."

"Aren't you willing to give me even this dream of your ego? Even though you say you want to be mine, body and soul? Won't you even give me this trivial thing, so that after you leave, it can accompany me in the loveless, pleasureless life that is left to me?"

Hot tears started from Giuletta's beautiful dark eyes.

At this point Erasmus, mad with pain and passion, cried, "Do I have to leave? If I have to, my reflection will be yours forever and a day. No power-not even the Devil-can take it away from you until you own me, body and soul."

Giuletta's kisses burned like fire on his mouth as he said this, and then she released him and stretched out her arms longingly to the mirror. Erasmus saw his image step forward independent of his movements, glide into Giuletta's arms, and disappear with her in a strange vapor. Then Erasmus heard all sorts of hideous voices bleating and laughing in demoniac scorn, and, seized with a spasm of terror, he sank to the floor. But his horror and fear aroused him, and in thick dense darkness he stumbled out the door and down the steps. In front of the house he was seized and lifted into a carriage, which rolled away with him rapidly.

"Things have changed somewhat, it seems," said a man in German, who had taken a seat beside him. "Nevertheless, everything will be all right if you give yourself over to me.completely. Dear Giuletta has done her share, and has recommended you to me. You are a fine, pleasant young man and you have a strong inclination to pleasant pranks and jokes-which please Giuletta and me nicely. That was a real nice German kick in the neck. Did you see how Amoroso's tongue protruded-purple and swollen-it was a fine sight and the strangling noises and groans-ha, ha, ha." The man's voice was so repellent in its mockery, his chatter so gruesomely unpleasant, that his words felt like dagger blows in Erasmus's chest.

"Whoever you are," he said, "don't say any more about it. I regret it bitterly."

"Regret? Regret?" replied the unknown man. "I'll be bound that you probably regret knowing Giuletta and winning her love."

"Ah, Giuletta, Giuletta!" sighed Spikher.

"Now," said the man, "you are being childish. Everything will run smoothly. It is horrible that you have to leave her, I know, but if you were to remain here, I could keep your enemies daggers away from you, and even the authorities."

The thought of being able to stay with Giuletta appealed strongly to Erasmus. "How, how can that be?"

"I know a magical way to strike your enemies with blindness, in short, that you will always appear to them with a different face, and they will never recognize you again. Since it is getting on toward daylight, perhaps you will be good enough to look long and attentively into any mirror. I shall then perform certain operations upon your reflection, without damaging it in the least, and you will be hidden and can live forever with Giuletta. As happy as can be; no danger at all."

"Oh, God," screamed Erasmus.

"Why call upon God, my most worthy friend," asked the stranger with a sneer.

"I-I have . . ." began Erasmus.

"Left your reflection behind-with Giuletta-" interrupted the other. "Fine. Bravissimo, my dear sir. And now you course through floods and forests, cities and towns, until you find your wife and little Rasmus, and become a paterfamilias again. No reflection, of course-though this really shouldn't bother your wife since she has you physically. Even though Giuletta will eternally own your dream-ego."

A torch procession of singers drew near at this moment, and the light the torches cast into the carriage revealed to Erasmus the sneering visage of Dr. Dapertutto. Erasmus leaped out of the carriage and ran toward the procession, for he had recognized Friedrich's resounding bass voice among the singers. It was his friends returning from a party in the countryside. Erasmus breathlessly told Friedrich everything that had happened, only withholding mention of the loss of his reflection. Friedrich hurried with him into the city, and arrangements were made so rapidly that when dawn broke, Erasmus, mounted on a fast horse, had already left Florence far behind.

Spikher set down in his manuscript the many adventures that befell him upon his journey.

Among the most remarkable is the incident which first caused him to appreciate the loss of his reflection. He had stopped over in a large town, since his tired horse needed a rest, and he had sat down without thinking at a well-filled inn table, not noticing that a fine clear mirror hung before him. A devil of a waiter, who stood behind his chair, noticed that the chair seemed to be empty in the reflection and did not show the person who was sitting in it. He shared his observation with Erasmus's neighbor, who in turn called it to the attention of his. A murmuring and whispering thereupon ran all around the table, and the guests first stared at Erasmus, then at the mirror.

Erasmus, however, was unaware that the disturbance concerned him, until a grave gentleman.stood up, took Erasmus to the mirror, looked in, and then turning to the company, cried out loudly, "'Struth. He's not there. He doesn't reflect."

"What? No reflection? He's not in the mirror?" everyone cried in confusion. "He's a mauvais sujet, a homo nefas. Kick him out the door!"

Raging and filled with shame, Erasmus fled to his room, but he had hardly gotten there when he was informed by the police that he must either appear with full, complete, impeccably accurate reflection before the magistrate within one hour or leave the town. He rushed away, followed by the idle mob, tormented by street urchins, who called after him, "There he goes. He sold his reflection to the Devil. There he goes!" Finally he escaped. And from then on, under the pretext of having a phobia against mirrors, he insisted on having them covered. For this reason he was nicknamed General Suvarov, since Suvarov acted the same way.

When he finally reached his home city and his house, his wife and child received him with joy, and he began to think that calm, peaceful domesticity would heal the pain of his lost reflection.

One day, however, it happened that Spikher, who had now put Giuletta completely out of his mind, was playing with little Rasmus. Rasmus's little hands were covered with soot from the stove, and he dragged his fingers across his father's face. "Daddy! I've turned you black. Look, look!" cried the child, and before Spikher could prevent it or avoid it, the little boy held a mirror in front of him, looking into it at the same time. The child dropped the mirror with a scream of terror and ran away to his room.

Spikher's wife soon came to him, astonishment and terror plainly on her face. "What has Rasmus told me-" she began. "Perhaps that I don't have a reflection, dear," interrupted Spikher with a forced smile, and he feverishly tried to prove that the story was too foolish to believe, that one could not lose a reflection, but if one did, since a mirror image was only an illusion, it didn't matter much, that staring into a mirror led to vanity, and pseudo-philosophical nonsense about the reflection dividing the ego into truth and dream. While he was declaiming, his wife removed the covering from a mirror that hung in the room and looked into it. She fell to the floor as if struck by lightning. Spikher lifted her up, but when she regained consciousness, she pushed him away with horror. "Leave me, get away from me, you demon! You are not my husband. No! You are a demon from Hell, who wants to destroy my chance of heaven, who wants to corrupt me.

Away! Leave me alone! You have no power over me, damned spirit!"

Her voice screamed through the room, through the halls; the domestics fled the house in terror, and in rage and despair Erasmus rushed out of the house. Madly he ran through the empty walks of the town park. Giuletta's form seemed to arise in front of him, angelic in beauty, and he cried aloud, "Is this your revenge, Giuletta, because I abandoned you and left you nothing but my reflection in a mirror? Giuletta, I will be yours, body and soul. I sacrificed you for her, Giuletta, and now she has rejected me. Giuletta, let me be yours-body, life, and soul!"

"That can be done quite easily, caro signore," said Dr. Dapertutto, who was suddenly standing beside him, clad in scarlet cloak with polished steel buttons. These were words of comfort to Erasmus, and he paid no heed to Dapertutto's sneering, unpleasant face. Erasmus stopped and asked in despair, "How can I find her again? She is eternally lost to me."

"On the contrary," answered Dapertutto, "she is not far from here, and she longs for your true self, honored sir; you yourself have had the insight to see that a reflection is nothing but a worthless illusion. And as soon as she has the real you-body, life, and soul-she will return your reflection, smooth and undamaged with the utmost gratitude."

"Take me to her, take me to her," cried Erasmus. "Where is she?"."A certain trivial matter must come first," replied Dapertutto, "before you can see her and redeem your reflection. You are not entirely free to dispose of your worthy self, since you are tied by certain bonds which have to be dissolved first. Your worthy wife. Your promising little son."

"What do you mean?" cried Erasmus wildly.

"This bond," continued Dapertutto, "can be dissolved incontrovertibly, easily and humanely.

You may remember from your Florentine days that I have the knack of preparing wonder-working medications. I have a splendid household aid here at hand. Those who stand in the way of you and your beloved Giuletta-let them have the benefit of a couple of drops, and they will sink down quietly, no pain, no embarrassment. It is what they call dying, and death is said to be bitter; but don't bitter almonds taste very nice? The death in this little bottle has only that kind of bitterness. Immediately after the happy collapse, your worthy family will exude a pleasant odor of almonds. Take it, honored sir."

He handed a small phial to Erasmus.1 "I should poison my wife and child?" shrieked Erasmus.

"Who spoke of poison?" continued the red-clad man, very calmly. "It's just a delicious household remedy. It's true that I have other ways of regaining your freedom for you, but for you I would like the process to be natural, humane, if you know what I mean. I really feel strongly about it. Take it and have courage, my friend."

Erasmus found the phial in his hand, he knew not how.

Without thinking, he ran home, to his room. His wife had spent the whole night amid a thousand fears and torments, asserting continually that the person who had returned was not her husband but a spirit from Hell who had assumed her husband's form. As a result, the moment Erasmus set foot in the house, everyone ran. Only little Rasmus had the courage to approach him and ask in childish fashion why he had not brought his reflection back with him, since Mother was dying of grief because of it. Erasmus stared wildly at the little boy, Dapertutto's phial in his hand. His son's pet dove was on his shoulder, and it so happened that the dove pecked at the stopper of the phial, dropped its head, and toppled over, dead. Erasmus was overcome with horror.

"Betrayer," he shouted. "You cannot make me do it!"

He threw the phial out through the open window, and it shattered upon the concrete pavement of the court. A luscious odor of almonds rose in the air and spread into the room, while little Rasmus ran away in terror.

Erasmus spent the whole day in torment until midnight. More and more vividly each moment the image of Giuletta rose in his mind. On one occasion, in the past, her necklace of red berries (which Italian women wear like pearls) had broken, and while Erasmus was picking up the berries he concealed one and kept it faithfully, because it had been on Giuletta's neck. At this point he took out the berry and fixed his gaze upon it, focusing his thought on his lost love. It seemed to him that a magical aroma emerged from the berry, the scent which used to surround Giuletta.

"Ah, Giuletta, if I could only see you one more time, and then go down in shame and disgrace.

. . "

1 Dr. Dapertutto's phial almost certainly contained prussic (hydrocyanic) acid, which is prepared from laurel leaves and bitter almonds. A very small quantity of this liquid, less than an ounce, produces the effects described. Cf.

Horns Archiv für mediz. Erfahrung, 1813, May to December, page 510..He had hardly spoken, when a soft rustling came along the walk outside. He heard footsteps- there was a knock on the door. Fear and hope stopped his breath. He opened the door, and in walked Giuletta, as remarkably beautiful and charming as ever. Mad with desire, Erasmus seized her in his arms.

"I am here, beloved," she whispered softly, gently. "See how well I have preserved your reflection?"

She took the cloth down from the mirror on the wall, and Erasmus saw his image nestled in embrace with Giuletta, independent of him, not following his movements. He shook with terror.

"Giuletta," he cried, "must you drive me mad? Give me my reflection and take me-body, life, soul!"

"There is still something between us, dear Erasmus," said Giuletta. "You know what it is.

Hasn't Dapertutto told you?"

"For God's sake, Giuletta," cried Erasmus. "If that is the only way I can become yours, I would rather die."

"You don't have to do it the way Dapertutto suggested," said Giuletta. "It is really a shame that a vow and a priest's blessing can do so much, but you must loose the bond that ties you or else you can never be entirely mine. There is a better way than the one that Dapertutto proposed."

"What is it?" asked Spikher eagerly. Giuletta placed her arm around his neck, and leaning her head upon his breast whispered up softly, "You just write your name, Erasmus Spikher, upon a little slip of paper, under only a few words: 'I give to my good friend Dr. Dapertutto power over my wife and over my child, so that he can govern and dispose of them according to his will, and dissolve the bond which ties me, because I, from this day, with body and immortal soul, wish to belong to Giuletta, whom I have chosen as wife, and to whom I will bind myself eternally with a special vow."' Erasmus shivered and twitched with pain. Fiery kisses burned upon his lips, and he found the little piece of paper which Giuletta had given to him in his hand. Gigantic, Dapertutto suddenly stood behind Giuletta and handed Erasmus a steel pen. A vein on Erasmus's left hand burst open and blood spurted out.

"Dip it, dip it, write, write," said the red-clad figure harshly.

"Write, write, my eternal, my only lover," whispered Giuletta.

He had filled the pen with his blood and started to write when the door suddenly opened and a white figure entered. With staring eyes fixed on Erasmus, it called painfully and leadenly, "Erasmus, Erasmus! What are you doing? For the sake of our Saviour, don't do this horrible deed."

Erasmus recognized his wife in the warning figure, and threw the pen and paper far from him.

Sparks and flashes shot out of Giuletta's eyes; her face was horribly distorted; her body seemed to glow with rage.

"Away from me, demon; you can have no part of my soul. In the name of the Saviour, begone.

Snake-Hell glows through you," cried Erasmus, and with a violent blow he knocked back Giuletta, who was trying to embrace him again. A screaming and howling broke loose, and a rustling, as of raven feathers. Giuletta and Dapertutto disappeared in a thick stinking smoke, which as it poured out of the walls put out the lights.

Dawn finally came, and Erasmus went to his wife. He found her calm and restrained. Little Rasmus sat very cheerfully upon her bed. She held out her hand to her exhausted husband and said, "I now know everything that happened to you in Italy, and I pity you with all my heart. The.power of the Enemy is great. He is given to ill-doing and he could not resist the desire to make away with your reflection and use it to his own purposes. Look into the mirror again, husband."

Erasmus, trembling, looked into the mirror, completely dejected. It remained blank and clear; no other Erasmus Spikher looked back at him.

"It is just as well that the mirror does not reflect you," said his wife, "for you look very foolish, Erasmus. But you must recognize that if you do not have a reflection, you will be laughed at, and you cannot be the proper father for a family; your wife and children cannot respect you. Rasmus is already laughing at you and next will paint a mustache on you with soot, since you cannot see it.

"Go out into the world again, and see if you can track down your reflection, away from the Devil. When you have it back, you will be very welcome here. Kiss me" (Erasmus did) "and now-goodbye. Send little Rasmus new stockings every once in a while, for he keeps sliding on his knees and needs quite a few pairs. If you get to Nuremberg, you can also send him a painted soldier and a spice cake, like a devoted father. Farewell, dear Erasmus."

His wife turned upon her other side and went back to sleep. Spikher lifted up little Rasmus and hugged him to his breast. But since Rasmus cried quite a bit, Spikher set him down again, and went into the wide world. He struck upon a certain Peter Schlemihl, who had sold his shadow; they planned to travel together, so that Erasmus Spikher could provide the necessary shadow and Peter Schlemihl could reflect properly in a mirror. But nothing came of it.

The end of the story of the lost reflection.

POSTSCRIPT BY THE TRAVELLLING ENTHUSIAST

What is it that looks out of that mirror there? Is it really I? Julia, Giuletta-divine image, demon from Hell; delights and torments; longing and despair. You can see, my dear Theodore Amadeus Hoffmann, that a strange dark power manifests itself in my life all too often, steals the best dreams away from sleep, pushing strange forms into my life. I am completely saturated with the manifestations of this New Year's Eve, and I more than half believe that the Justizrat is a gumdrop, that his tea was a candy display for Christmas or New Year's, that the good Julia was a picture of a siren by Rembrandt or Callot-who betrayed the unfortunate Spikher to get his alter ego, his reflection in the mirror. Forgive me. . . .



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Erasmus Spikher" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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