NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Volume 16.2: Fall 2016 - Page 27

Then she began to lay out his freshly laundered underwear and brushed and neatly folded outer garments on the top of a table , all the while reasoning with him quietly , as if to calm him down —
“ While you slept and dreamed , you told me where you had hidden your treasure and pleaded with me to go fetch it and bring it to you here , before the Kaiser ’ s police found it and arrested you for murder —”
She paused with her hands on her hips and a smug smile on her lips and stood there waiting for his doubt and confusion to subside —
And then before he could speak , all of a sudden and with an impatient toss of her head , she began to scatter the precious contents of the Baron von Gugelstein ’ s coffer all over the floor —
“ Don ’ t worry , you can see for yourself it ’ s all there , you ungrateful dog of a peasant !”
But then , taking a few steps backward , as if to avoid stumbling on the glittering jewelry scattered all over the torn and tattered rug , she suddenly broke out in a smile of hilarious complicity , lifted her skirts and began dancing a jig , all the while singing at the top of her voice like a drunken sailor ’ s ditty , “ Don ’ t worry , don ’ t worry , it ’ s all there ! See for yourself ! I may be a whore , but I ’ m not a thief !”
Until finally , her eyes twinkling , she moved back against the wall , and she too began to feast her eyes on the glittering heaps of pearl necklaces , gold coins , and huge sparkling diamonds scattered all over the tattered rug —
Now suddenly the stunned young violinist , naked and skinny as the day he was born , dropped to his knees and frantically began to scoop up handfuls of his treasure , which finally and with trembling hands he began to arrange on top of the ironing table into a number of manageable heaps —
“ Have no fear , it ’ s all there ,” Madam Maloka repeated inanely , chuckling with delight , “ I may be a sorceress and a harlot out of hell , but one thing I ’ m not is a thief who ’ d rob a poor innocent traveler !”
This time she laughed so loud and hysterically the young violinist began looking at her , as if she had lost her mind —
And when he continued staring at her with suspicious defiance , she walked up to him and kissed him maternally on the cheek —
“ Tell me the truth ! You are a virgin —?”
Yes , the violinist thought to himself without answering , I am a virgin , because I would not join my drinking companions on their weekly tour of the brothels , because I never had money for whores , and in any case , I was afraid of catching the pox that drove my father mad and caused him to kill my mother with an ax —
For three months “ The Baron ”— as the Ethiopian woman insisted he be addressed by everyone they had reason to speak to in that small seaport town — and Madam Maloka lived as husband and wife and in a state of domestic bliss .
Every evening his exotic benefactor cooked elaborate meals for him , and after the meal the two of them would take long strolls along the waterfront , watching the sun go down and holding hands like a newly married couple on their honeymoon .
Indeed , on one of these walks , when the young violinist told Madam Maloka about the poverty he was born into and about how he had undertaken a music career hoping to earn enough money to buy his grandparents a house but how , no matter how hard he worked as a court musician , there was never enough money left to even pay for the next week ’ s food and rent , she stopped to hold him close and wiped tears from her eyes , and he quietly explained that because of his father ’ s pox , which he had inherited he could never have children of his own —