New weekly meeting in the “salon” of Johanna Schopenhauer, the hostess or “salonnière”. Goethe, Tieck, Wieland, Adele Schopenhauer, Caroline Walsolz, Dorothea and Friedrich Schlegel and Novalis are the guests on this occasion. Arthur Schopenhauer is also present this once, exhibiting a face like a rainy day, seated in an armchair with the crutches next to him. As is customary at this time of year, all are gathered around the fireplace. Wieland is the first to take the floor:
“There is one thing really troubling to me. And not only to me but to Tieck also, and maybe to all of you”. “What is it?” the hostess asks. But they are interrupted by the peevish Arthur Schopenhauer: “It doesn’t trouble to me in the least. What’s more, I give a hoot”. Automatically his mother rebukes him:
“Arthur, watch your language! Besides, you don’t even know what the thing that worries Wieland is.”
“Whatever it is, I care a damn. Everything is pure illusion. Nothing really exists.”
“My bonnet exists, that’s for sure”, Mrs. Walsolz comments. “Cost me an eye, you know.”
Meanwhile, Johanna is reprimanding his son: “Arthur! You promised me that you would intervene as little as possible. Otherwise I will be forced to expel you from my salon.” Then, she turns to Wieland: “Please, continue. We’re very interested.”
“I guess all of us here present have noticed a clamorous absence lately.”
“You mean the gingerbread cakes with which our hostess used to delight us?” Mrs. Walsolz asks.
“No, I mean our English friend and colleague, Lord Byron.”
“Oh, that!” Schlegel exclaims. “Of course we have noticed it. But I don’t think there’s cause for concern. Surely he will be experiencing a love affair somewhere.”
“Tieck and I have an alternative theory. Right, Tieck?”
“Yes indeed. We suspect that Byron has been kidnapped by beings from another planet!”
There is a general murmur of surprise in the midst of which the laughs of Arthur Schopenhauer stand out.
“How the hell have you reached that conclusion?” Dorothea asks.
“What about the mysterious light that has been flying over our sky lately?” Wieland answers. And then it’s Schlegel’s turn:
“Are you implying that this light has taken over Lord Byron?”
“Serves him right for being such a libertine!” Arthur Schopenhauer exclaims.
Mrs. Schopenhauer stands up, indignant:
-Arthur! Go to your room immediately! That’s an order!
Arthur grabs his crutches and limps off. When he disappears, Wieland reclaims the floor:
“That light is only the wrapper of a flying machine. I have seen it with my own eyes. And I assure you that it can not be from this planet.”
Then, Goethe rises ceremoniously to make a speech:
“Dear friends, the theory of Wieland and Tieck is not as farfetched as it seems at first sight. The Duke Karl August himself has sighted such a ship not many days ago. With regard to its origin, it would be foolhardy to say that our planet is the only inhabited place in the entire galaxy. And, all things considered, it would not be strange that, in those other planets, a much more advanced civilization than ours would have developed. By the way, Mrs. Schopenhauer, wouldn’t you have an onion?”
Mrs. Schopenhauer emits a shrill scream that makes everybody’s hair stand on end. In view of her reaction, Goethe rushes to rectify: “Forget it!”, and sits down. But it has not been the mention of the onion what has caused her unexpected reaction. It is that she suddenly has remembered the bumpy palmistry session she had with Lord Byron. She explains to her guests what happened on that occasion: how she clearly saw in Byron’s palm a being from another planet, a hermaphrodite being with long mustaches with the tips pointing upwards.
“Goodness! (Novalis exclaims) The thing is serious! What will our English colleagues say?! One of them comes to visit us and is kidnapped by extraterrestrials! We can’t allow them to take Lord Byron to another planet. We must do something!”
The others show their agreement with the words of Novalis.
Then Schlegel gets a nervous breakdown: he gets up all of a sudden and starts running around the room with his eyes bulging and his arms raised, shouting: “But what can we do?! What can we do?!”
“We must begin house-to-house searches” Tieck says.
Mrs. Walsolz gets up and goes to the exit:
“I’m going to search my own house.”