Munich Nights Chapter 70: “Carin’s Recollections”

Munich Nights Chapter 70: “Carin’s Recollections”

But Carin had immediately noticed that a bulky specially gift-wrapped parcel was now openly on display and she had seen that Karen had earlier clutched this mysterious item in her arms like a prized possession as she entered the room.

Carin had naturally enquired of her as to what was concealed in that carefully enclosed parcel. “How mysterious?” She stated with an exaggerated raised eyebrow as she waited expectantly for all to be revealed.

Karen carefully opened it and placed it proudly on the now-cleared, green-covered table. They all then stood around and admired the detailed, fine-crafted workmanship that had been lavished so lovingly upon this specially designed elephant by the dying artist. Carin then surprisingly asked if she could examine it. “Of course,” answered Karen. So pleased that everyone admired her new shopping purchase.

Then Carin leaned forward and slowly ran her long artistic tapered fingers over the trunk. In concentrated examination moving her fingers over those sharpened tusks and the fine head and the deep-set sad eyes.

“Well, it has certainly been fashioned so carefully with much precious love by this local craftsman.” She had announced after a minute’s silent inspection then added: “And by a skilful designer and he would claim if asked, that this was a labour of love but” she paused then said sadly: “I suggest he is it seems to me, a very, very sick man and not long for surviving in this world.”

She looked at Karen for confirmation of this unexpected announcement. Then added after Karen nodded and whispered: “Yes Carin I’m afraid so” in answer to her statement.

“This poor man, the artist, has a serious ongoing health problem. And I do perhaps see him somewhere working creatively …. in perhaps shaping glass? That is if his declining health allows him to do so. But sadly with just a few months to live, this does now look very doubtful to me”. She shook her head at these prophetic words.

Karen nodded and as usual was astonished at her friend’s always correct perception. Then to break this uncomfortable sombre mood, Hermann surprisingly reminisced about his childhood in Veldenstein. Carin finished her inspection of the elephant and placed it carefully onto the discarded coloured tissue paper but still examined its fine detailed lines.

“I remember” he began, as he extinguished his dying Corona cigar into a heavy marble veined ashtray and settled himself onto the delicate sofa, “Our devoted family nurse when I was a child, of course, recited this clever little ditty in the evening before bedtime to myself and my sisters. It is supposed, she recalled to me to have been composed by Abraham Lincoln himself, or so they say. Let’s see if I can still remember it?”

He thought for some seconds then began reciting slowly:

“When you have an elephant by the hind leg and he is trying to run away it is better to let him run….”

“I know one. ”Exclaimed Karen suddenly bursting into the recitation excitedly causing all to stare at her interruption before Hermann had finished.

They all turned now seated to listen to what she had to recite. But Hermann was quite annoyed at this rather rude interruption from Karen. She should have known better both he and Walter thought, but Hermann had forgotten the finishing punch line anyway so what did it matter he reasoned.

Karen began reciting in her then slowly enunciated diction.

“When people call this beast to mind

They marvel more and more

Of such a little tale behind

So large a trunk before.”

“And sorry everybody, I don’t know who wrote it or care. I just liked it then and I suppose I still do”. (This is attributed to H. Belloc it seems). She had smiled rather shyly as she finished. 

Carin meanwhile had been gently buffing the sculpture with her Belgian lace handkerchief, whilst listening to the conversation. But the statue didn’t need her attention or her silk embroidered handkerchief. She soon found that just holding the statue was too cumbersome with her weakened arthritic fingers and pushed it back to Karen with a smile. Who then placed it safely by the side of her chair close by her foot. She was feeling a shiver of ownership that it was now secure safely by her side. She couldn’t wait to take it home to Munich and then display it proudly to her father.

“Were you able,” Karen was asked with sudden interest by her still-seated dear friend” to place our party flag on the tomb of the pope in the cathedral?” Karen nodded saying: “Yes” rather quietly. Then Carin now asked her changing the subject: “And how was Doctor Nagle’s demeanour, Karen? What were your first impressions of her? I always believe that first introductions are so important at any meeting with a stranger.” She stated in her usual correct manner.

Karen paused, then answered truthfully to this unexpected question.

To be continued… 

© G. Patrick Battell

All Rights Reserved

April 2024