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Book 2 of The Faust Legacy Quartet, The Phoenix Cage chronicles the tragic love affair between the opium-addicted daughter of Hauptsturmfuhrer Faustenach (Book 1, The Lame King) and a young Canadian infantry officer Simon Foster in NATO, serving in West Germany.
In Book 1 of the Faust Legacy Quartet, the Lame King, Hauptsurmfuhrer Reinhardt Faustenach made his escape from the advancing Allied forces, and disappeared foever from the lives of his wife and child daughter, left alone in the town of Celle to fend for themselves among the ruins of Germany in the aftermath of war. In The Phoenix Cage A grown woman by 1960, Margitte has turned to prostitution in a Hamburg brothel, and is addicted to opium. Simon Foster, a young Canadian Lieutenant serving in his regiment, the East Ontario Rifles, encounters her there, and is instantly infatuated. He leaves as chaste as he entered, and a correspondence ensues. She comes to him, and they live an idyll at the small country cottage he arranges for them, while he helps her fight her addiction. Mutual unspoken fears which haunt them prevent open discussion of marriage, and even delay Simn's introduction of Margitte into the life of his regiment's officers' mess. When finally she makes her debut at a lawn tea party, everything about her ensures her ostracism. When Simon has to spend long weeks away on NATO manoeuvres, Margitte's self-loathing and loneliness turn her again to her addiction. On the first occasion Simon turns to the battalion's medical officer Major Shanks, an alcoholic whom Simon has covered for when Shanks has been too drunk to save a life. But Shanks betrays Simon's blackmailing trust. There is a brief recovery, but Margitte's relapse is final, when in desperation she even sells herself at a local Gasthof The Oasis, frequented by soldiers of Simon's battalion. Some days later Simon, unawares, takes Margitte to the Blue Grotto, a Gasthof-cum-dancehall, where she is recotgnized by Cary Lovewise, one of the soldiers from the Oasis. Simon strikes him, and his career is saved only by the intervention of the Regimental Sergeant Major. This was the last humiliation. Still deeply in love with Margitte, but despairing of any future for them, he arranges for her to be taken in for rehabilitative treatment at Kurhaus Bad Fuhlenberg. His return to Canada at the end of his unit's three-year German tour closes a life-altering chapter in his life, but not forever.
Simon was surprised when she tossed her head back a little and laughed with him. Her laughter was quiet, a series of shallow in-breathings. Shown the long line of her neck and the smooth skin on the under side o her chin, he saw its contrast to the heavy cosmetics that gave her face a waxen falseness, belied only by grey sphinx eyes. Staring, he hated the layer of artifice that stopped him from seeing at least the surface reality of her. Her laughter stopped abruptly under his intense gaze. "What are you looking for me so?" He didn't answer. Instead, he reached out to her face nd smeared the mask on her cheek with his thumb. She didn't move. Her eyes only widened for a moment in surprise, seeing something in his own face that frightened her. Then her features seemed to collapse, the bright hard lines melting like a Tussaud waxwork too near a flame.
Her shoulders slumped. You know me." It was Simon's turn for puzzlement. Know you? How could I know you?" "Know me. You know me." Tears welled, reddening her eyes and spilling over her lashes in rivulets that streaked he mascara in black lines,like a clown's mask.