An Interview with Heinrich von Werden Bertram | The Good Adventurers

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It was the child that had broken him. The more he reflected the more unfair it seemed to burden an unborn child with shame because of his father’s envious aspirations. It would not do to deprive a person their chance to live, either, and in doing so to add another crime to his list, so he had chosen to lay bare his soul. There it was; his wicked life, written out for eyes that he had never dreamed it would see. By the time his brother read it, he would be gone.

Forever.

-The Good Adventurers, by Lydia Carns

Villains are a little tricky for me, and while Heinrich had a pretty solid backstory, he actually make very few appearances within the pages of The Good Adventurers, so it was snippets that gave me grief this time. Enjoy! 🙂

When and where were you born?

Hathaway Hall, Thorwell, York, England, on August 6, 1875.

If you were born in England, how did you come to be separated from your family? 

My father, then a widower, was on holiday in Switzerland when he met my mother. She was attending a girl’s school there. The niece of a German nobleman, she was seventeen, and already promised to a prospective duke. But my father managed to woo her, and they eloped in Scotland on her eighteenth birthday. (Scotland, because there she did not have to be twenty-one to marry without the consent of her guardian.)

Her guardian was furious that she had chosen to marry a man of lower estate. But by the time he came around, I was already on the way. She was permitted to stay until I was born, but then she was taken back to Prussia to remain there until she reached her majority. She chose to return at that time, but was only allowed on the condition that I should be left behind and raised in Prussia. We were first separated when I was two years old.

What was your childhood like?

Pleasant. I had a kind nanny and I lived with my mother’s former guardian until I was old enough to go to school. He was good to me, but distant. I believe he held my mother’s choices against me, even though there was no real shame in what she had done in marrying my father. She visited me as often as she could make the journey to Prussia from England, sometimes as often as three times a year and staying for weeks at a time. My father I rarely saw.

And your education?

I was educated in the traditionally German way, starting with kindergarten, then boarding at Grundschule and Gymnasium. At the University of Leipzig, I studied primarily philosophy.

What was the motivation for your crimes? 

Revenge. I struggled with my mother’s choice to part with me throughout my ‘teens, and as I grew older I grew constantly more resentful. I developed elaborate defamations against my family, and I fancied that Roger had used his influence as the elder son to keep me away from England. I built that up in my mind until I believed that it was true.

Money did play a large role in the beginning. I was given a generous allowance and all of my expenses were met every month, but I acquired the habit of betting on races in France on holiday. (Gambling was illegal in the German States.) Father refused to pay off those ‘expenses’ so I grew ever in need of more money.

That was when I realized that Roger was quietly laying up a fortune as Father’s partner in banking. I asked my brother for a loan, and he turned me down as well. That incident solidified my theories about him having spiteful intentions and my terrible envy of him. With the philosophies I had indoctrinated myself with at Leipzig I assured myself that was an exceptional human, some sort of sufferer who deserved to be avenged.

What is your religious position?

I have known that I am a wicked being ever since my earliest recollections of being scolded by my Kinderfrau. I studied philosophy looking for life answers, and I did good by helping others to satisfy my conscience. Now I see that is all wrong. My heart was ripe for repentance by the end of everything. I can never undo all the wrong, but now my heart is free and I am forgiven.

Seeing your background in philosophy, how could you justify your plans?

For me, ‘the end justifies the means’ was not so much my reasoning. I did feel guilt and my conscience was troubled, but I told myself that I would not deal with that when it was all done and I was not planning any further crimes. I believed that surrounded by richness and comforts and success, all would be bliss. Only, I never attained any of that. All that remained was guilt.

What do you see for the future?

I have no future; unless God should choose to mercifully grant me one. But Henry is my joy, and his mother’s. Seeing him grow and mature will be the only reason I yet have to live and love.

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Dream cast pick

Clara ran to him, and throwing her arms about his neck, kissed her husband. The following words were uttered in German, but the emotion with which they were said surpassed all bounds of language.  

“God bless you, my husband. I love you! Farewell!”

“Mein engel Clara!” Heinrich choked. He was incapable of saying anything more, and turned, silent and pale towards the door, where the butler had appeared, followed by a uniformed policeman.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           –The Good Adventurers, by Lydia Carns

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