“ America ! How wonderful ! I ’ m so happy for you ! And you ’ ll be starting a new life ! You must be very rich —”
“ Well said ! Bravo ! With excellent advice like that I venture you ’ re guaranteed to stay out of harm ’ s way !”
Instead , in less than an hour after he ’ d arrived at his destination , the apprentice baron had fallen victim to the seductive charms of Madam Maloka —
“ Do you like the Germans ?” she asked , dismissing with a wave of her gaudily bejeweled hand the impish Moroccan boy who had stabled and fed his team and then guided him to Madam Maloka ’ s lair on the second floor of a ramshackle commercial building that overlooked the waterfront .
“ I ’ m afraid it ’ s the topic of the day ,” she said while brazenly sizing him up .
“ I ’ m afraid I haven ’ t given it much thought ,” he replied , avoiding her penetrating gaze .
“ Well , it ’ s always seemed to me the Germans are unhappy with their lot and secretly long for the carefree life of Negroes . As you see , I am black and an African , but I am not a Negro . I am an Ethiopian — my father was the half brother of the Emperor and my mother was his concubine from a Moslem kingdom far to the south —”
“ Me , I ’ m an Austrian —,” the violinist said recklessly , “ I ’ ve just arrived from Vienna , and I am headed for America to begin a new life —”
And lifting aside the light blanket covering the lower part of her body , she swung her legs around the heap of silk cushions upon which she had been reclining , then slowly and with a complicated twisting of her hips and thighs , she slowly rose to her full height while at the same time she continued to hold the young violinist in her mesmerizing gaze —
She was wearing a green and purple dressing gown of some exotic glistening fiber that rustled like tin-foil , as gracefully , like a circus acrobat , she slowly paced around him like a wrestler at the beginning of a match .
“ How I envy you —,” she said , letting out a theatrical sigh while at the same time settling down heavily in one of the two chairs on either side of a cafe table that faced a large double window that offered a sweeping view of the port , “— as for me , I suffer from the vapors and from loneliness , and I am afraid I shall never travel again —”
She had closed her eyes dramatically , but now suddenly she opened them , in this way catching the young violinist stealing a glance at the opium pipe she had been sucking on when he first came in —
“ I understand you have a carriage and a team of horses you wish to sell —,” Madam Maloka said , her voice suddenly sharp and cold like the cracking of a whip . “ Mustafa says the horses are thoroughbreds from Morocco , and that the carriage bears a royal seal —”
“ My late father , the Baron , was a connoisseur —,” the violinist said , trembling and alert at her mention of a royal seal while at the same time avoiding her eyes .
“ Mustafa , too , is a ‘ connoisseur —,’” she said slyly , “— but unlike your late father , Mustafa is a Moor and a thief , tell him how much you want and I will pay you —”
He assumed then that she was dismissing him and couldn ’ t hide his relief , but then he realized that her constantly meandering gaze had fallen on his boots —
Then on his shirt , his jacket , his vest —
“ Mustafa is growing so fast ,” she said , settling back on her cushions to take one last puff from her opium pipe , before putting it out of sight , if not out of reach , behind some curtains .
“ He ’ s become such a little man . He wants to take care of me , the darling boy , but he ’ s very mischievous and says you ’ re a Jew — are you a Jew ?”
She looked deep inside his eyes and cocked her head like a bird —
Then she motioned him to come closer .
When he did so and was standing over her , she tilted her head back , opened her mouth wide and gestured for him to look inside —
Her teeth were solid gold !
21 BLACK RENAISSANCE NOIRE