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I climbed over the sofa to where Köster was standing. An idea had suddenly occurred to me.

«Otto, I want you to do me a favour. I want the Cadillac for tomorrow evening.» […]

Otto closed his eyes until they where narrow slits and smiled. «It’s all right by me, Bob.»

«You want the car, I suppose, to go with your new tie?», asked Lenz, who had come over.

«You shut up,» said I, pushing him aside.

But he was not to be eluded.

«Show us, baby!» He felt the silk between his fingers. «Fine. Our boy is a gigolo. Strikes me he’s going to a bride show.»

«You haven’t anything on me today, you quick-change artist», I replied.

«Bride show?» Ferdinand Grau lifted his head.

«And why shouldn’t he go to a bride show?» He became livelier and turned to me. «You do, Bob. You have the requirements for it. A certain simplicity is necessary for love. You have it. Keep it. It is a gift of God. Never to be gotten away, once it’s lost.»

«Don’t take it to heart too much, though, baby,» said  Lenz with a grim. «It’s no shame to be born stupid. Only to die stupid.»

«Now you be quiet, Gottfried.» With one movement of his powerful paw Grau wiped him aside. «You don’t come into it, you back-area romanticist, It’s no pity about you.» […]

Then he turned to me again. «”Simplicity”, I said, Bob. Only envious people call it stupidity. Don’t worry on that score. It’s not a weakness; it’s a gift.»

Lenz wanted to interrupt. But Ferdinand went on. «You know what I mean. A simple courage, not yet eaten away by skepticism and over-intelligence. Parsifal was stupid. If he had been bright, he would never have conquered the Holy Grail. Only the stupid conquer in life; the other man foresees too many obstacles and becomes uncertain before he starts. In difficult times simplicity is the most priceless gift – a magic cloack that conceals dangers into which the super-intelligent run headlong as hypnotized.»

He drank a great gulp and looked at me with his immense, blue eyes, that sat in his lined face like a piece of the sky. «Never want to know too much, Bob. The less a man knows the simpler it is to live. Knowledge maketh free – but unhappy. Come, drink with me to simplicity, to stupidity and to the things that belong to it – to love, to faith in the future, to the dream of happiness, to magnificent stupidity, to the paradise lost…»

He sat there, heavy and massive, suddenly sunk back into himself and his drunkennes, like a lonely hill of unassailable melancholy. His life had gone to pieces, and he knew that he would never assemble it again. […]

A smile passed over his face. He pressed a glass into my hand.

«Drink, Bob. And save yourself. Think on what I’ve said to you.»

«Right, Ferdinand.»

Lenz opened the gramophone. He had a pile of Negro records and played several – about the Mississippi, cotton picking, and sultry nights on the blue, tropical, rivers.

From: Three Comrades, Erich Maria Remarque.

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