Major French was writing something on a lined yellow legal pad. The warm breeze from the window stood the papers on his desk. He looked up over the tops of his glasses. "Sit down a minute, Graham. Be right with you."
A moment later, still writing, he asked, "How's Mr. Gold making out?"
"Well, he's pretty tough, sir. He used to be in war crimes-"
"How's it feel to be replaced by a full-fledged lawyer?"
"Sir, I don't have much to do these last few days."
Major French pressed his buzzer. The door opened, Fräulein Rittmeister marched in, Major French tore three sheets from his pad and handed them to her, FrSulein Rittmeister marched out again and closed the door. They had been together for a long time.
"Well now," said Major French, and began to shuffle among the other papers until he found the one he wanted. "Here's a special directive from Headquarters U.S. Forces European Theater, which I am required to call to your attention. There are vacancies for qualified noncommissioned officers at the Officers Candidate School in Oberammergau, Bavaria. The course lasts six months. Graduates will be commissioned as second lieutenants in the Counterintelligence Corps, and will be required to serve for a minimum of three years from date of commission. You are a qualified noncommissioned officer. Are you interested?"
"No, sir. I have to go back to college in September."
"Okay, I've complied with that order," said Major French as he crumpled the paper and threw it into his wastebasket. "Now as to your college, you'll be glad to hear that Captain Tyson is having your orders cut right now, you're being transferred to the replacement depot or personnel center or whatever it's called, Camp Kilmer, New Jersey, for discharge processing."
New Jersey? "Sir, you said that I could get discharged over here. I've got a month's leave saved up, I was going to fly back in September with my own money--"
"Well, that's been changed," said Major French curtly. "You're going up to Munich tomorrow with the courier truck, I think there's a troop train for Bremerhaven tomorrow night, you'll report to the Transportation Corps up there, with luck they'll have you on a ship in a week or two, another week at sea, another week or two at Kilmer - you'll be out in plenty of time for college." Major French folded his hands on his desk as if the interview were over. "Okay?"
Tomorrow? After the numbness wore off, I felt frightened. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. I tried to read something from the Major's expression, but he had picked up his pencil and was writing on his yellow pad again. Watching, I saw that he was just writing the word "Bremerhaven" over and over again.
Major French looked over the tops of his glasses.
"Sir, I. . ." My voice was shaking. "I would appreciate it very much if you would tell me what happened."
"What makes you think anything happened?"
"Because you're keeping me in the army for a month longer than you have to, you're making me spend all of August in trains and ships and replacement depots, instead of over here--"
"Over here doing what?"
"Doing what? I don't know exactly, sir, I thought I might go to Italy . . ."
"No. sir, I thought I might go with Peter Devereaux, after they close up the Schloss. . ."
"But you were going to come right back to Salzburg as soon as you got your discharge, weren't you? To pick up Devereaux and help them close the Schloss."
I was completely puzzled. "Well, I couldn't come back into Austria unless you would give me a pass, but I never thought you wouldn't . . . . Major French, won't you please tell me what I've done wrong? I thought you were pleased with my work, you tell me I'm qualified for OCS (Office of the Chief of Staff) --"
"I'm very pleased with your work, Graham, and you haven't done anything wrong."
"Well then . . . Sir, I've just never seen you do anything like this before, to anybody--"
Suddenly he stood up. "What's one month out of your young life? You've had a hell of a good time in the army. A hell of a good time! I don't think you've got cause to bitch about anything." He began to pace up and down, apparently trying to justify his position to himself. "All these months! You might have been up in Berlin, sentry duty and parades and bed checks every night, instead you've been lolling around here, living better than ninety percent of the officers, better than damn near all of the officers, so far as I can tell . . ."
I sat still and let him talk himself out. It didn't take long. He was blustering, and I knew that as soon as he heard himself he would stop, and he did. He stopped beside one of the windows, leaned on the sill and looked down into the Domplatz. After a moment:
"You love this town, don't you?"
Major French nodded slowly, still looking down into the square. "So do I. But we're all leaving pretty soon. This is an unnatural setup here, and the sooner we get out, the better it will be for everybody. For them and for us." He rummaged around in his pocket, found a cigarette, and lighted it, blowing the smoke angrily out of the open window. "I for one am tired of playing God, I can tell you that! It's not the big things, the Nazis, the war crimes, the food shortages, are the Russians coming or aren't they coming - we can't do anything about that stuff. It's the little things. Pinckney doesn't like Mr. Gold. Mr. Gold is a smart Jewish lawyer from Jersey City who gives Pinckney a hard time and knows more law than Pinckney. But it doesn't matter because my guess is that all these courts are going to be turned over to the Austrians before the year is up. And Pinckney can't get Fräulein Paulsen into the United States because she was married to an SS officer, it turns out. And we're going to have to give Herr Redl his villa back because there's plenty of room for Pinckney at the Bristol. So Pinckney's mad at me. And you're mad at me." He began to pace again, still smoking the cigarette. "All right. Do I care if you're mad at me? All right, I know, you're not mad at me, you're puzzled and hurt and I don't want you to go away puzzled and hurt because you're a good boy and I like you. So I'll tell you this idiotic story, which I shouldn't, because you'll be even more puzzled and hurt, and if I weren't so goddamned tired of playing God I'd just send you out of here puzzled and hurt for your own good." He put out the cigarette in the ashtray on his desk and immediately lighted another. Then he sat down in his chair.
"Received a delegation yesterday. Professors Hyde and Leffingwell. Harvard College and Yale College. Very nice gentlemen. Hardly know what word I want." He swiveled back in the chair and looked out of the window for a moment. "Articulate." He took another drag from the cigarette. "They're articulate, well spoken, successful, accustomed to getting their own way. Written books. Both of them."
He blew out another cloud of smoke and tipped the chair back as far as it would go. "They think the Academy's been a success. They told me about some of the courses they've been giving. They told me about some of the students, how hungry they are for information about the United States, how hard they work, how they read everything they can get their hands on." He paused again, looking down at the carpet. "Then they told me about this problem they have, apparently the only problem. Know what it is?"
"No, sir." I was hoarse.
"Some of the students say the Academy is a front. For us. For the government or the State Department or the army, or something. What do you think of that?"
I couldn't think of anything at all.
"Well, look at it from their point of view," said Major French. "Where did the money come from? Who paid to fix up the Schloss? Who arranged for the entry permits? Who granted them? How come they've got an army truck? And why is this sergeant from the Military Government hanging around all the time?"
"My God, you mean they think--"
"No, not the professors, not the Americans, but apparently some of the students are asking these questions."
"They think I'm some kind of a spy?"
"Who knows exactly what they think? They just wonder what you're doing there." Pause. "In the Schloss, I mean."
"Sir, I've been reading books in the library and I went to a dance--"
"And you got them PX beer from the Sternbräu, I hear."
"I cleared that with Lieutenant Pinckney, sir. He signed the requisition!"
Major French shook his head. "Graham, you don't have to convince me. I know you're not spying on them."
I was staring at the opposite wall, which was covered with tacked-up maps: Austria, divided into French, American, British and Russian Zones; Land Salzburg, towns and mountains and lakes; Stadt Salzburg, the Mönchsberg cliffs and the bridges across the river and the streets and squares. . . . There was more noise down in the Domplatz now -a truck honking at pedestrians beneath the narrow arches, gears being shifted.
"It's not the end of the world, boy."
"They asked you - they asked that I be sent home tomorrow?"
"Oh no, not at all. That was my idea. They just suggested that you stay away from the place until the end of the month." He was watching me carefully now. "I told you that I was tired of playing God, but I'm still doing it, at least in your case. It's time for you to go home, Graham. This thing is over. This part of your life is over. When something's over, it's over, and it's - it's bad, it's destructive, corrosive to hang around, to try to sustain something that's over. . . ." He sighed. "All right, maybe it doesn't make sense to you, but it does to me, and someday you'll understand. One of the most important things in life is timing. When to do things. When to start, and when to stop. Now this part of your life is over and I'm sending you home and that's all there is to it."
The hammering in the Domplatz began again. The morality play is called Jedermannwhich means "Everyman." It is performed on the steps of the Cathedral. I realized that I wasn't going to see it.
"I have no way of knowing how the Countess would react to the idea that you're not allowed in the Schloss," said Major French. "To be honest with you, Graham, I have to tell you that I've had about enough of that girl and the trouble she has caused in this command -now don't look at me like that, boy! You asked me to give you my reasons and that's what I'm doing. Now I'm not going to have any scenes out there over this thing. I am not going to have that girl get on her high horse and throw everybody out of her Schloss -or try to- on account of you, of your feelings being hurt. So we're not going to have any long, drawnout simmering crisis out around that lake, with the Föhn blowing and everybody choosing up sides and getting mad at everybody else and ruining all the good things they've accomplished out there. Your hitch is over and you're going back to college and you're going home, and that's all there is to it!" He put out his cigarette, stood up, and came around to the front of the desk. I stood up too.
For a moment we looked at each other.
Then Major French smiled. "You want to know something? You won't believe
this, but this last year I'd have given anything to be you instead of me."
He held out his hand. "Good luck son. We won't meet again, but think about
me sometimes, will you?"
Chamber music in the great hall of Schloss Mirabell. The walls and the floor were made of pink and white marble, with gold trim. Marble cherubs dangled their feet over the tall doors. The big room was full. The audience sat on folding chairs. The only light came from a silver candelabra standing on the piano. A contingent from Schloss Fyrmian sat with their backs to the big gilt mirrors, along one wall: two teachers from Vienna, Milena Hashek, Joseph Kaufman, Paola, Hans von Schaumburg, and in the corner, between Peter Devereaux and Eduard Onderdonk, Marcus Gompertz.
Leaning forward into the lights of the candles, the musicians played Telemann, Handel, Boccherini. The windows into the courtyard of the palace were open and the smell of the park floated in with the summer night. I slouched back in the hard chair, listening to the music, trying not to feel Paola's arm pressing against mine, wishing I was dead. At the end they played Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante, a violin and a viola in dialogue against the little orchestra, rising and falling. Suddenly, during the second movement, as the viola and the violin sang their slow dark melodies to each other, I noticed a movement behind me and to the right. I turned my head, glanced behind Paola's gleaming hair and in the mirror saw that Marcus Gompertz was slumped forward, his face buried in his hands, his shoulders shaking. Onderdonk put his arm around him. The others looked straight ahead, and I did too, ashamed of myself. The musicians paused, there was a hush, a rustling shift of bodies, and then, with a jerk of their heads, they swung into the last movement, presto, a joyful rondo; everyone took a deep breath and sat up straight, and when the concert ended with a loud flourish of strings and orchestra, the audience rose to applaud.
Down in the courtyard, people swirled past the Academy truck. Milena Hashek and Paola climbed into the cab with Schaumburg, who was driving.
"Can we take you home, Sergeant?" asked Schaumburg, leaning forward.
"No, thank you, I live right over there, just the other side of the Gardens." I closed the door and looked up at Paola. She was tying back her hair with a blue and white kerchief.
"Do you feel all right?" she asked. "You look so strange."
"I'm all right."
"What time will you be out tomorrow?"
"I'm not sure--"
"Hey, boost me up on the truck, will you?" Peter Devereaux was standing behind me.
I looked at Paola, who was glancing in the rearview mirror while adjusting her kerchief. I tried to think of something to say, but I could not think of anything, so I walked around and helped the others lift Peter into the truck, and then I stood back and waved, watching the truck drive across the cobblestoned courtyard of the palace, through the archway and out into the street.
Source of music sample:
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, "Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola", KV 364 (Allegro maestoso, Andante, Presto), Classical Music Pages by Matt Boynick, The Classical Music Web Ring, the free linking service hosted by OrchestraNET. The Classical Music Pages are hosted on a server of the PP&B group at the Fritz-Haber-Institut of the Max-Planck-Society. Heinz Junkes, Webmaster.
1961 - A Point of View
 The annual meeting of the stockholders of the Boatwright Corporation
 What are you going to do about Boatwright and what are you going to do about yourself?
 Have we learned anything this evening, Doctor?
 Producing results?
 Alexander's Feast
 How'd you like to go over to Salzburg for a month with me?
1947 - An Island
 You're not going to Berlin. You're staying here.
 All right, we're the Military Government.
 The Americans are teaching us to be democratic instead of fascistic.
 Well, this is Fasching.
 Letters after Ash Wednesday
 Say Boris is at Schloss Fyrmian.
 THE AMERICAN ACADEMY IN EUROPE - Prospectus for the First Session
 Learn to think of people as individuals.
 Parlez-moi d'amour, redites-moi des choses tendres.
 Not one thing left to show that you've ever been on earth? - "Sources of Soviet Conduct"
 A Countess, a Prussian Officer and a Ländler
> Now this part of your life is over and I'm sending you home.
 A father who's too busy to watch his son die. - The Spring of 1961
 I cannot sell Schloss Fyrmian to the Academy.
1961 - A Change of Air
 The first thing I saw was the Festung Hohensalzburg far in the distance, silhouetted against the shadowy curtain of the high mountains.
 Next day at the Academy we got to work - Graham, you know what Fleischer did?
 Im weißen Rößl am Wolfgangsee
 Brockaw writing a thesis on Austrian baroque architecture? - Boatwright Corporation and Boris Fleischer, plaintiffs
 You know there a Mr. Devereaux? Mr. Armistead Devereaux?
 I think always of Peter Devereaux.
 It sounds like an act of desperation, and it won't hold up in court.
 In those Oklahoma Hills WHERE AH WAS BOW-AHHHN!
 ... that we should meet again like this . . . I think perhaps there is a reason.
 "Is there here an American by name of Brockaw?"
 This is Boris Fleischer!
 "Does Hans work for Gehlen?" Paola shook her head. "More the other way around."
 Won't you please come home? Everybody needs you, I most of all.
 With this Waffenstillstand you have time now.
 You're going to regret this for the rest of your life!
 We Europeans would not do it. None of us. - People think you need medical attention.
 Will they trust you?
 Some things about the U.S.A. are perhaps rather important, and to us impressive.
 You're going to need a good lawyer.