Chapter 5 Dance
With The Devil By Gunther
Schwab Written in 1963.
WAS NOW NOON. THE DEVIL LED HIS VISITORS INTO A ROOM
he opened up a large bar.
juice?" he said. "Or something stronger?"
said Harding. "A double one, if you don't mind."
for me," said Groot.
tossed a glassful down and handed it back to the Boss for more.
must confess that till now I was in some doubt as to whether we were really in
the Devil's house or not.
hearing what we've just heard, I believe —"
Devil laughed, and raised his glass. "You believe because you can't help
Harding felt the moment had come for an explanation.
"I've been registered with the Boss for years now, and I've never regretted it.
All the same, it puts one under certain obligations."
very burdensome ones," said the Devil, in a soothing tone, and filled up
chief one is that each of the Devil's assistants must bring a new recruit in
was three years in arrears and so —"
you thought we were just about good enough for your purpose," Sten
have the very best intentions for you," the Boss said, with an arch
let's have a meal."
food was excellent; it was served by two men in livery, silently, and with
hope you like it here in my house," said the Devil.
why are we prisoners here?" asked Rolande.
said you were prisoners? It is simply that you can't open the door."
comes to the same thing."
need only express a wish and it will immediately be granted.
patient for a few days.
you'll have a dearer view of things."
when will you be so gracious as to set us free?" she asked.
we have talked everything over," said the Devil, with a mysterious air.
was a little more explicit. "When your instruction is over and you've
to work as agents of the Devil. He will make you rich," he added.
if we don't give any such undertaking?" asked Sten.
Boss slowly looked him up and down and went on chewing his food.
– but that's a question that will not arise."
said, "What will people say when we're away from home for so long?
they miss us? Won't they look for us?
someone go to the police?"
will do anything. The time that you pass here doesn't count in the world of
if you thought you'd been living for years in my house, you would return on the
which your friend, Bob Harding, fetched you here."
Foul Water Devil was a small, neat little man in a plum-coloured suit.
face was as yellow as his shoes. His tie, which was gaily coloured, and also
out untidily in front of his jacket. His name, he said, was Soft. He bowed to
to one side and opened his brief-case.
big brother, Grabbleskrit, has told you something about the vanishing of water.
is my special task to be-foul the little bit of water that's left, so that man
can poison himself with it.
Without clean water, life becomes impossible, yet over large areas
of the civilized world,
there just is no water that has been cleared of the filth that
comes from becoming sick and dies.
I have made the water sick.
Sick water makes sick men.
Dead water kills the land.
have already heard how much water man uses. Water that is used automatically
the amount of waste increases proportionately to the use. All that man pours
away is in one way
another a risk to life, and to himself. Primitive peoples still possess a
their paradisial purity in the religious conception they have of the holiness
drink they have is a sacrament; every ablution a symbolic act.
began my task by destroying this superstition among primitive people.
opened the road to the developments we see today.
his presumption man thinks nothing of making a convenience of water,
treating it as something into which he can discharge his refuse without
make of it a receptacle for every kind of filth.
rivers have become sewers and there is no longer any water that can be drunk
is first treated chemically.
day and by night, tens of thousands of factories discharge their waste into
cotton mills, from smelting Plants, from gas works, from every kind of
discharged upon the water. When I speak of foulness, I actually mean organic
foecal matter, aldehyde, cyanide, sulpho-cyanate,
of lead, arsenic, copper, carbonic acid, alkalis, and phenol compounds,
derivatives, inorganic metallic poisons, and a thousand other different kinds
the rivers of the world have been made foul, from the Colorado to the Seine,
the Rhine, the Oder
have made them dirty, stinking, discoloured, desolate canals, which can no
the land to feed its fruitfulness, but can only poison it."
I'm very much mistaken, all water has the faculty of cleansing itself."
was Rolande who spoke.
only holds good of certain forms of organic impurity, when the natural
micro-fauna of water have keen preserved. But the more a river is regulated,
smaller becomes its content of living organisms and the more it loses this
faculty of self-cleansing.
see, man has deliberately impaired, or even destroyed, water's natural power of
regaining its health.
began to do that at the moment when he started using it as a receptacle for his
the intelligence of man," grunted the Devil, "you just can't beat
don't forget," continued Soft, "that the filth from the factories
often extends for miles
that it has more filth added to it before the first lot becomes innocuous, if
it ever does.
you know that in the U.S.A. fish in the Shenandoa River were dying of zinc
an artificial silk factory more than fifty miles away?"
raised his head. "Do you intend to conceal the fact," he said, in a
industry tries very hard to prevent the befouling of rivers by building filter
foul water fiend's answer was not unfriendly: "I have no need to conceal
said, "since there's no danger in it for me or my work.
of all, only a very small proportion of manufacturers are really concerned
about the matter at all.
more to the point is the fact that in the case of most of the filth that gets
discharged into the water,
is no kind of filtering process that's really effective, and even if there
cost would send the profits down.
we need have no fear of anybody doing anything useful here.
Austria only 3 per cent of the waste water is filtered.
the principal cities, including Vienna, discharge their waste directly into the
the experts are by no means of one mind in this matter. Some say the filtering
should be done
some say it should be cleaned chemically, while others declare it should be
a biological process.
the streams of stinking water continue all over the world.
poisoning of the waters proceeds much more quickly than the application of any
industries are continually being created, so that new forms of poison are
continually being produced
discharged into the water. The result is that in a few years, even the most
costly filter equipment
be out of date and utterly useless."
what are we to do?" asked the girl.
dear lady. Nothing.
is no escape. Industrial waste is as complex as industry itself,
nobody had any idea how certain waste products are to be treated.
applies especially in the chemical industry. Nor does anybody know how to deal
with water from the mines.
is no place in the world that's immune from this progressive poisoning."
convinced," said Groot, "that one day we'll master the problem.
only a question of giving inventors time to develop the right processes."
replied, "Your inventors are always much more ready to invent new
processes of production
they are to invent anything that will help save life.
industries are already allowing their waste water simply to dribble away.
this manner they expect to make use of the natural filtering power of the
glad you mentioned that, Mr. Groot.
the Aargau a chemical factory allowed its wastewater to dribble away in just
result was that in all the brooks and rivers of the neighbourhood the fish died
in their thousands."
engineer shrugged his shoulders. "Industry must live," he said, and
that was all.
Mr. Groot," said Soft, "and industry must earn profits even if man
a fine principle."
asked: "What actually happens when water is infected like this?"
foul water disease destroys water's biological equilibrium and this has a
most damaging after-effects.
can well be likened to degeneration in the blood of a living organisms,
causes the whole body to be poisoned. It leads to the destruction of all life.
material robs water of its oxygen and without it there can be no breathing.
the outflow of these mechanical filtering installations can also add to the
can make a desert all around the water. Wherever you see plants going brown and
stones with a green and blue covering of algae, there you are looking on the
comes from foul water. There is an end to all animal life, the protective
the gills of fishes are destroyed.
injures one kind of living organism will probably injure another, even though
not immediately apparent. Organic pollution in water brings the danger of
paratyphus, dysentery, infantile paralysis, contagious jaundice, all these we
owe to foul water.
this reason, unfortunately, bathing in a number of rivers has to be forbidden,
even washing in this water can attack the mucous membrane. By steadily
increasing their foulness,
shall turn rivers and lakes into focal points of catastrophe, compared with
cholera-typhus epidemics of bygone days will appear relatively harmless."
shall be interested to see if what you say is true," said the Boss.
continued the Foul Water Fiend, "business is injuring itself by poisoning
the foulness of the Rhine is a threat to the plantations of Holland,
Dutch Government has claimed damages from Germany to the extent of 800 million
went on, "Ultimately, man will have to accustom himself to drinking
concoctions of poison
slime because there just, won't be any more healthy water left, for what's been
complicated and expensive processes from the filth of the rivers is anything
but real drinking water."
said stubbornly, "The Krefeld Waterworks, which has the most modern
equipment in Europe,
succeeded in transforming waste water into the purest drinking water."
Devil smiled. "Your very good health, Mr. Groot, but you drink it first."
filtering processes," Soft continued, "are quite unable to remove
certain poisonous matter,
carcinogenous carbohydrates, from water. If you drink the water, you've got to
drink these too.
Hamburg filtering equipment functions perfectly,
it can't remove the germs of the typhus and typhoid group."
gave a sudden shrill laugh. "That, my friends, is the end !
land that can no longer offer people water fit to drink, is a land that's
people needn't drink river water," objected Rolande.
know for a fact that they're pumping up drinking water —"
they are," said Soft. "They're still largely pumping up ground water
for drinking purposes
also for industry, but as a result the spaces where the ground water was stored
have become empty
what happens now? Until recently, ground water used to flow away into the open
today the filth from the poisoned rivers seeps into the places where the ground
used to accumulate, and so into the very drinking water which is being pumped
up to the surface
delivered free into the houses through the water supply.
has opened up some grand possibilities. In Graz, the waterworks which was
gas-works at a cost of 13 million Austrian schillings, has been rendered highly
the presence of benzole in the ground water."
forget that such water can be made innocuous through chlorination," said
what, may I ask, does one gain from that?"
destruction of bacteria."
indeed, but bacterial protoplasm is made of the same stuff as human protoplasm
one suffers exactly the same amount of damage as the other.
chlorination only offers a limited protection.
Western Germany between 1945 and 1952, there were 7,657 cases of illness due to
the drinking of water
is definitely known to have been chlorinated. Usually the illness was typhus
448 cases it proved fatal. Of course, the filth carried by the rivers comes
from the most varied sources.
German family of four produces well over 50,000 gallons of waste water in a
most cities just pass this on to the rivers without bothering to filter it.
Rhine at Constant carries along daily 500 tons of chemical salts. At Basle the
figure has risen to 1,000,
when it has passed beneath the potash pits of Alsace it has reached 8,000
after passing through the Ruhr territory, 30,000 tons.
that has thus been befouled by salts, is utterly unfit for use.
can't be given to cattle and can't be used by industry. In every year the Rhine
carries 500 million tons
industrial refuse to the sea, and the Rhine is by no means the worst offender.
Weser is simply a flowing sewer; the Saar is a typical industrial river that
has become devoid of all life.
years ago, there were 40 fishing fleets on Lake Constance; today there are
course industry is the worst offender. A small cheese factory produces as much
refuse as a town
15,000 inhabitants. The daily wastewater of a cardboard factory corresponds to
that of a town
30,000, while the refuse of a large-size paint factory is equal to that of a
city of three million.
course our enemies are active, but the importance of stupid ‘nature fanatics’
progress shouldn't be exaggerated. The hopeless struggle to keep water pure has
for about a century now. It began in England in 1840. In 1852 ... Ferdinand
Cohn, the Breslau botanist,
that the degree to which rivers and waste water had been polluted could be
the nature and quantity of the organisms that had survived and failed to
it was all quite useless.
wheel which I set in motion can't be turned back, or stopped.
multiplied the blindness and presumption of men.
are no means of arresting the disaster.
if there were, they would be financially insupportable, and as man has been
his lust for profits, we can never expect him to adopt them.
rather perish than see a drop in his earnings.
he sees the knife is at his throat, he'll try to save what there is to save,
then it will be too late.
process of universal annihilation will have begun, and those who even today
set a higher value
their expectation of profit than they do on human life, will not be the men to
I, in conclusion, draw your attention to a most gratifying phenomenon
one which we owe to the co-operation between my department and that for Atomic
is this: The purer the water, the less it's able to absorb radio-active
dirtier it is, the greater the likelihood of a spread of radiation sickness
perpetual motion, could carry from one end of the world to the other.
Boss, concludes my report.
hope you're satisfied. I've made water,
source of health and life, into the enemy of life.
healthy smell of the pure element has been turned into a stink.
stands up to his neck in a brew of filth, and there's nothing he can do about
since no one can arrest the disease of the profit motive,
efforts to avert the ultimate disaster are futile."