These words of my father removed my last regret for the loss of the elixir, and my sons and grandsons who are now grown men have, with God’s help, brought it to pass that the burghers of Leipsic are willing once again to associate with the Ueberhells.
I have only one thing more to say before I close this story.
I have already mentioned the fact that I am a physician. When recently from England came the news of the discovery of vaccination and I saw how a small drop could penetrate through a man’s entire system, then I regretted that my father had thrown away the elixir. If I still possessed it I would, despite my advanced age, try the experiment of inoculating myself with it. The exhalation of the elixir acted only on the tongue, and hence its fatal effect. if, however, it had been possible to infiltrate a desire for truth into the whole man, then, ah then! it might have been possible for a man really to know himself, which is the beginning of his salvation. One thought occurs to me for my consolation:
A race that has felt itself forced, generation after generation, to serve the truth must finally have acquired an instinct to do so, like the races of pearl-divers who by inheritance can hold their breath a phenomenally long time.
At this point my granddaughter Bianca came in to see me. Three days before she had been betrothed to young Karl Winckler, a descendant of the notary Anselmus.
As I had fallen asleep over my writing she read through undisturbed the book that had fallen from my hands onto the floor.
And so the secret was betrayed, for of course she told the story to her lover.
She expressed her thankfulness that the elixir was out of the world, but asserted impertinently, that if a drop of blood had been drawn from Frau Bianca—whose features as well as name she had inherited—instead of from the little Zeno, or if the women of the Ueberhell family had been allowed to inhale the elixir the consequences might have been entirely different.
“Woman,” she said, “is ruler in the kingdom of the affections, and in Leipsic as well as elsewhere, the austere Goddess of Truth will find devoted and loving worshippers, as well as dutiful subjects, only when she exhibits goodness of heart combined with grace of manner as does my grandfather.”
Perhaps she is not altogether wrong, though women....
And yet both Greeks and Romans represented Truth under the guise of a woman.
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