My uncle's apartment in a city at the French border with Germany became my home for four years when I was about four. It was not a spacious apartment, but what it lacked in space it more than made up by housing marvels and wonders beyond imagination. And it was not long before I discovered them, or rather discovered the Gates. There were twenty of them.
They were normally locked away. And I still remember what I saw when the Gate opened for me the first time. It was the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Egypt. They are still vivid in my mind's eye today after over 80 years.
My uncle had a retreat in his apartment he called the library. I remember the room well. In lieu of a door there hung Persian Bead drapes and so it was easy for a young boy like me to slip in and out. Here I spent many happy hours.
Parting the curtain one was confronted by an immense, solid dark wood, custom wardrobe. It was adorned with many animal carvings cut from the very wood of its three doors. They were mythical creatures, such as gargoyles, griffins, sphinxes, chimeras, and many more. This wardrobe was most impressive and almost smothered the room.
There were two more pieces of furniture. A heavy, dark leather chair made its home in one corner. It obviously had seen plenty of use in its day. Next to it stood a round table supported by three ornately carved, curved legs. This room ensemble was then complemented by a large Persian rug. And how I loved to sit in the middle of the room and trace the carpet's intricate motifs.
But by far the most important to me was the commanding wardrobe. The heavy center door was not flat but bulged outward. The center of that door had a glass window that was also curved and followed the contour of the bulging door. And behind that window on a shelf stood twenty volumes of the most complete encyclopedia of its time in Germany, my Gates to the Universe and its wonders and marvels.
In the German language an 'a' always is 'ah', just as in...
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