Blood brothers

By Jonathan Green

CorpsstudentenEU_BloudBrothersTo wince or recoil even slightly would mean dishonour. Even when the glint of steel, ground to the sharpness of a scalpel, enters his peripheral vision he doesn’t flinch. Seconds later the blood runs down the left side of his face, turning his clothes crimson before pooling around his ankles on the pinewood floor. His features remain glacial.

Only 10 minutes earlier it was sweat that covered his face when his friends kissed him on the cheek to wish him luck. He must have hoped then that he would not be the one who would be scarred for life. Now another fencing duel – or mensur – ends, fought in a centuries-old tradition that is observed down to the last, painful detail.