Entire PG Edition of The Works of William Dean Howells
William Dean Howells
Part 48 out of 78
The next morning was merely a transitional period, full of turmoil and
disorder, between the broken life of the sea and the untried life of the
shore. No one attempted to resume the routine of the voyage. People
went and came between their rooms and the saloons and the decks, and were
no longer careful to take their own steamer chairs when they sat down for
In the cabins the berths were not made up, and those who remained below
had to sit on their hard edges, or on the sofas, which were cumbered
with, hand-bags and rolls of shawls. At an early hour after breakfast
the bedroom stewards began to get the steamer trunks out and pile them in
the corridors; the servants all became more caressingly attentive; and
people who had left off settling the amount of the fees they were going
to give, anxiously conferred together. The question whether you ought
ever to give the head steward anything pressed crucially at the early
lunch, and Kenby brought only a partial relief by saying that he always
regarded the head steward as an officer of the ship. March made the
experiment of offering him six marks, and the head steward took them
quite as if he were not an officer of the ship. He also collected a
handsome fee for the music, which is the tax levied on all German ships
beyond the tolls exacted on the steamers of other nations.
After lunch the flat shore at Cuxhaven was so near that the summer
cottages of the little watering-place showed through the warm drizzle
much like the summer cottages of our own shore, and if it had not been
for the strange, low sky, the Americans might easily have fancied
themselves at home again.
Every one waited on foot while the tender came out into the stream where
the Norumbia had dropped anchor. People who had brought their hand-
baggage with them from their rooms looked so much safer with it that
people who had left theirs to their stewards had to go back and pledge
them afresh not to forget it. The tender came alongside, and the
transfer of the heavy trunks began, but it seemed such an endless work
that every one sat down in some other's chair. At last the trunks were
all on the tender, and the bareheaded stewards began to run down the
gangways with the hand-baggage. "Is this Hoboken?" March murmured in his
wife's ear, with a bewildered sense of something in the scene like the
reversed action of the kinematograph.
On the deck of the tender there was a brief moment of reunion among the
companions of the voyage, the more intimate for their being crowded
together under cover from the drizzle which now turned into a dashing
rain. Burnamy's smile appeared, and then Mrs. March recognized Miss
Triscoe and her father in their travel dress; they were not far from
Burnamy's smile, but he seemed rather to have charge of the Eltwins, whom
he was helping look after their bags and bundles. Rose Adding was
talking with Kenby, and apparently asking his opinion of something; Mrs.
Adding sat near them tranquilly enjoying her son.
Mrs. March made her husband identify their baggage, large and small, and
after he had satisfied her, he furtively satisfied himself by a fresh
count that it was all there. But he need not have taken the trouble;
their long, calm bedroom-steward was keeping guard over it; his eyes
expressed a contemptuous pity for their anxiety, whose like he must have
been very tired of. He brought their handbags into the customs-room at
the station where they landed; and there took a last leave and a last fee
with unexpected cordiality.
Again their companionship suffered eclipse in the distraction which the
customs inspectors of all countries bring to travellers; and again they
were united during the long delay in the waiting-room, which was also the
restaurant. It was full of strange noises and figures and odors--the
shuffling of feet, the clash of crockery, the explosion of nervous German
voices, mixed with the smell of beer and ham, and the smoke of cigars.
Through it all pierced the wail of a postman standing at the door with a
letter in his hand and calling out at regular intervals, "Krahnay,
Krahnay! "When March could bear it no longer he went up to him and
shouted, "Crane! Crane!" and the man bowed gratefully, and began to cry,
"Kren! Kren!" But whether Mr. Crane got his letter or not, he never
People were swarming at the window of the telegraph-office, and sending
home cablegrams to announce their safe arrival; March could not forbear
cabling to his son, though he felt it absurd. There was a great deal of
talking, but no laughing, except among the Americans, and the girls
behind the bar who tried to understand, what they wanted, and then served
them with what they chose for them. Otherwise the Germans, though
voluble, were unsmiling, and here on the threshold of their empire the
travellers had their first hint of the anxious mood which seems habitual
with these amiable people.
Mrs. Adding came screaming with glee to March where he sat with his wife,
and leaned over her son to ask, "Do you know what lese-majesty is? Rose
is afraid I've committed it!"
"No, I don't," said March. "But it's the unpardonable sin. What have
you been doing?"
"I asked the official at the door when our train would start, and when he
said at half past three, I said, 'How tiresome!' Rose says the railroads
belong to the state here, and that if I find fault with the time-table,
it's constructive censure of the Emperor, and that's lese-majesty." She
gave way to her mirth, while the boy studied March's face with an
"Well, I don't think you'll be arrested this time, Mrs. Adding; but I
hope it will be a warning to Mrs. March. She's been complaining of the
"Indeed I shall say what I like," said Mrs. March. "I'm an American."
"Well, you'll find you're a German, if you like to say anything
disagreeable about the coffee in the restaurant of the Emperor's railroad
station; the first thing you know I shall be given three months on your
Mrs. Adding asked: "Then they won't punish ladies? There, Rose! I'm
safe, you see; and you're still a minor, though you are so wise for your
She went back to her table, where Kenby came and sat down by her.
"I don't know that I quite like her playing on that sensitive child,",
said Mrs. March. "And you've joined with her in her joking. Go and
speak, to him!"
The boy was slowly following his mother, with his head fallen. March
overtook him, and he started nervously at the touch of a hand on his
shoulder, and then looked gratefully up into the man's face. March tried
to tell him what the crime of lese-majesty was, and he said: "Oh, yes.
I understood that. But I got to thinking; and I don't want my mother to
take any risks."
"I don't believe she will, really, Rose. But I'll speak to her, and tell
her she can't be too cautious."
"Not now, please!" the boy entreated.
"Well, I'll find another chance," March assented. He looked round and
caught a smiling nod from Burnamy, who was still with the Eltwins; the
Triscoes were at a table by themselves; Miss Triseoe nodded too, but her
father appeared not to see March. "It's all right, with Rose," he said,
when he sat down again by his wife; "but I guess it's all over with
Burnamy," and he told her what he had seen. "Do you think it came to any
displeasure between them last night? Do you suppose he offered himself,
"What nonsense!" said Mrs. March, but she was not at peace. "It's her
father who's keeping her away from him."
"I shouldn't mind that. He's keeping her away from us, too." But at
that moment Miss Triscoe as if she had followed his return from afar,
came over to speak to his wife. She said they were going on to Dresden
that evening, and she was afraid they might have no chance to see each
other on the train or in Hamburg. March, at this advance, went to speak
with her father; he found him no more reconciled to Europe than America.
"They're Goths," he said of the Germans. "I could hardly get that stupid
brute in the telegraph-office to take my despatch."
On his way back to his wife March met Miss Triscoe; he was not altogether
surprised to meet Burnamy with her, now. The young fellow asked if he
could be of any use to him, and then he said he would look him up in the
train. He seemed in a hurry, but when he walked away with Miss Triscoe
he did not seem in a hurry.
March remarked upon the change to his wife, and she sighed, "Yes, you can
see that as far as they're concerned."
"It's a great pity that there should be parents to complicate these
affairs," he said. "How simple it would be if there were no parties to
them but the lovers! But nature is always insisting upon fathers and
mothers, and families on both sides."
The long train which they took at last was for the Norumbia's people
alone, and it was of several transitional and tentative types of cars.
Some were still the old coach-body carriages; but most were of a strange
corridor arrangement, with the aide at the aide, and the seats crossing
from it, with compartments sometimes rising to the roof, and sometimes
rising half-way. No two cars seemed quite alike, but all were very
comfortable; and when the train began to run out through the little sea-
side town into the country, the old delight of foreign travel began.
Most of the houses were little and low and gray, with ivy or flowering
vines covering their walls to their browntiled roofs; there was here and
there a touch of Northern Gothic in the architecture; but usually where
it was pretentious it was in the mansard taste, which was so bad with us
a generation ago, and is still very bad in Cuxhaven.
The fields, flat and wide, were dotted with familiar shapes of Holstein
cattle, herded by little girls, with their hair in yellow pigtails. The
gray, stormy sky hung low, and broke in fitful rains; but perhaps for the
inclement season of mid-summer it was not very cold. Flowers were
blooming along the embankments and in the rank green fields with a dogged
energy; in the various distances were groups of trees embowering cottages
and even villages, and always along the ditches and watercourses were
double lines of low willows. At the first stop the train made, the
passengers flocked to the refreshment-booth, prettily arranged beside the
station, where the abundance of the cherries and strawberries gave proof
that vegetation was in other respects superior to the elements. But it
was not of the profusion of the sausages, and the ham which openly in
slices or covertly in sandwiches claimed its primacy in the German
affections; every form of this was flanked by tall glasses of beer.
A number of the natives stood by and stared unsmiling at the train, which
had broken out in a rash of little American flags at every window. This
boyish display, which must have made the Americans themselves laugh, if
their sense of humor had not been lost in their impassioned patriotism,
was the last expression of unity among the Norumbia's passengers, and
they met no more in their sea-solidarity. Of their table acquaintance
the Marches saw no one except Burnamy, who came through the train looking
for them. He said he was in one of the rear cars with the Eltwins, and
was going to Carlsbad with them in the sleeping-car train leaving Hamburg
at seven. He owned to having seen the Triscoes since they had left
Cuxhaven; Mrs. March would not suffer herself to ask him whether they
were in the same carriage with the Eltwins. He had got a letter from
Mr. Stoller at Cuxhaven, and he begged the Marches to let him engage
rooms for them at the hotel where he was going to stay with him.
After they reached Hamburg they had flying glimpses of him and of others
in the odious rivalry to get their baggage examined first which seized
upon all, and in which they no longer knew one another, but selfishly
struggled for the good-will of porters and inspectors. There was really
no such haste; but none could govern themselves against the general
frenzy. With the porter he secured March conspired and perspired to win
the attention of a cold but not unkindly inspector. The officer opened
one trunk, and after a glance at it marked all as passed, and then there
ensued a heroic strife with the porter as to the pieces which were to go
to the Berlin station for their journey next day, and the pieces which
were to go to the hotel overnight. At last the division was made; the
Marches got into a cab of the first class; and the porter, crimson and
steaming at every pore from the physical and intellectual strain, went
back into the station.
They had got the number of their cab from the policeman who stands at the
door of all large German stations and supplies the traveller with a
metallic check for the sort of vehicle he demands. They were not proud,
but it seemed best not to risk a second-class cab in a strange city, and
when their first-class cab came creaking and limping out of the rank,
they saw how wise they had been, if one of the second class could have
As they rattled away from the station they saw yet another kind of
turnout, which they were destined to see more and more in the German
lands. It was that team of a woman harnessed with a dog to a cart which
the women of no other country can see without a sense of personal insult.
March tried to take the humorous view, and complained that they had not
been offered the choice of such an equipage by the policeman, but his
wife would not be amused. She said that no country which suffered such a
thing could be truly civilized, though he made her observe that no city
in the world, except Boston or Brooklyn, was probably so thoroughly
trolleyed as Hamburg. The hum of the electric car was everywhere, and
everywhere the shriek of the wires overhead; batlike flights of
connecting plates traversed all the perspectives through which they drove
to the pleasant little hotel they had chosen.
On one hand their windows looked toward a basin of the Elbe, where
stately white swans were sailing; and on the other to the new Rathhaus,
over the trees that deeply shaded the perennial mud of a cold, dim public
garden, where water-proof old women and impervious nurses sat, and
children played in the long twilight of the sour, rain-soaked summer of
the fatherland. It was all picturesque, and within-doors there was the
novelty of the meagre carpets and stalwart furniture of the Germans, and
their beds, which after so many ages of Anglo-Saxon satire remain
immutably preposterous. They are apparently imagined for the stature of
sleepers who have shortened as they broadened; their pillows are
triangularly shaped to bring the chin tight upon the breast under the
bloated feather bulk which is meant for covering, and which rises over
the sleeper from a thick substratum of cotton coverlet, neatly buttoned
into the upper sheet, with the effect of a portly waistcoat.
The hotel was illumined by the kindly splendor of the uniformed portier,
who had met the travellers at the door, like a glowing vision of the
past, and a friendly air diffused itself through the whole house. At the
dinner, which, if not so cheap as they had somehow hoped, was by no means
bad, they took counsel with the English-speaking waiter as to what
entertainment Hamburg could offer for the evening, and by the time they
had drunk their coffee they had courage for the Circus Renz, which seemed
to be all there was.
The conductor of the trolley-car, which they hailed at the street corner,
stopped it and got off the platform, and stood in the street until they
were safely aboard, without telling them to step lively, or pulling them
up the steps; or knuckling them in the back to make them move forward.
He let them get fairly seated before be started the car, and so lost the
fun of seeing them lurch and stagger violently, and wildly clutch each
other for support. The Germans have so little sense of humor that
probably no one in the car would have been amused to see the strangers
flung upon the floor. No one apparently found it droll that the
conductor should touch his cap to them when he asked for their fare; no
one smiled at their efforts to make him understand where they wished to
go, and he did not wink at the other passengers in trying to find out.
Whenever the car stopped he descended first, and did not remount till the
dismounting passenger had taken time to get well away from it. When the
Marches got into the wrong car in coming home, and were carried beyond
their street, the conductor would not take their fare.
The kindly civility which environed them went far to alleviate the
inclemency of the climate; it began to rain as soon as they left the
shelter of the car, but a citizen of whom they asked the nearest way to
the Circus Renz was so anxious to have them go aright that they did not
mind the wet, and the thought of his goodness embittered March's self-
reproach for under-tipping the sort of gorgeous heyduk, with a staff like
a drum-major's, who left his place at the circus door to get their
tickets. He brought them back with a magnificent bow, and was then as
visibly disappointed with the share of the change returned to him as a
child would have been.
They went to their places with the sting of his disappointment rankling
in their hearts. "One ought always to overpay them," March sighed, "and
I will do it from this time forth; we shall not be much the poorer for
it. That heyduk is not going to get off with less than a mark when we
come out." As an earnest of his good faith he gave the old man who
showed them to their box a tip that made him bow double, and he bought
every conceivable libretto and play-bill offered him at prices fixed by
"One ought to do it," he said. "We are of the quality of good geniuses
to these poor souls; we are Fortune in disguise; we are money found in
the road. It is an accursed system, but they are more its victims than
we." His wife quite agreed with him, and with the same good conscience
between them they gave themselves up to the pure joy which the circus,
of all modern entertainments, seems alone to inspire. The house was full
from floor to roof when they came ins and every one was intent upon the
two Spanish clowns, Lui-Lui and Soltamontes, whose drolleries spoke the
universal language of circus humor, and needed no translation into either
German or English. They had missed by an event or two the more patriotic
attraction of "Miss Darlings, the American Star," as she was billed in
English, but they were in time for one of those equestrian performances
which leave the spectator almost exanimate from their prolixity, and the
pantomimic piece which closed the evening.
This was not given until nearly the whole house had gone out and stayed
itself with beer and cheese and ham and sausage, in the restaurant which
purveys these light refreshments in the summer theatres all over Germany.
When the people came back gorged to the throat, they sat down in the
right mood to enjoy the allegory of "The Enchanted Mountain's Fantasy;
the Mountain episodes; the High-interesting Sledges-Courses on the Steep
Acclivities; the Amazing-Up-rush of the thence plunging-Four Trains,
which arrive with Lightnings-swiftness at the Top of the over-40-feet-
high Mountain-the Highest Triumph of the To-day's Circus-Art; the Sledge-
journey in the Wizard-mountain, and the Fairy Ballet in the Realm of the
Ghost-prince, with Gold and Silver, Jewel, Bloomghosts, Gnomes,
Gnomesses, and Dwarfs, in never-till-now-seen Splendor of Costume." The
Marches were happy in this allegory, and happier in the ballet, which is
everywhere delightfully innocent, and which here appealed with the large
flat feet and the plain good faces of the 'coryphees' to all that was
simplest and sweetest in their natures. They could not have resisted, if
they had wished, that environment, of good-will; and if it had not been
for the disappointed heyduk, they would have got home from their evening
at the Circus Renz without a pang.
They looked for him everywhere when they came out, but he had vanished,
and they were left with a regret which, if unavailing, was not too
poignant. In spite of it they had still an exhilaration in their release
from the companionship of their fellow-voyagers which they analyzed as
the psychical revulsion from the strain of too great interest in them.
Mrs. March declared that for the present, at least, she wanted Europe
quite to themselves; and she said that not even for the pleasure of
seeing Burnamy and Miss Triscoe come into their box together world she
have suffered an American trespass upon their exclusive possession of the
In the audience she had seen German officers for the first time in
Hamburg, and she meant, if unremitting question could bring out the
truth, to know why she had not met any others. She had read much of the
prevalence and prepotence of the German officers who would try to push
her off the sidewalk, till they realized that she was an American woman,
and would then submit to her inflexible purpose of holding it. But she
had been some seven or eight hours in Hamburg, and nothing of the kind
had happened to her, perhaps because she had hardly yet walked a block in
the city streets, but perhaps also because there seemed to be very few
officers or military of any kind in Hamburg.
Their absence was plausibly explained, the next morning, by the young
German friend who came in to see the Marches at breakfast. He said
Hamburg had been so long a free republic that the presence of a large
imperial garrison was distasteful to the people, and as a matter of fact
there were very few soldiers quartered there, whether the authorities
chose to indulge the popular grudge or not. He was himself in a joyful
flutter of spirits, for he had just the day before got his release from
military service. He gave them a notion of what the rapture of a man
reprieved from death might be, and he was as radiantly happy in the ill
health which had got him his release as if it had been the greatest
blessing of heaven. He bubbled over with smiling regrets that he should
be leaving his home for the first stage of the journey which he was to
take in search of strength, just as they had come, and he pressed them to
say if there were not something that he could do for them.
"Yes," said Mrs. March, with a promptness surprising to her husband, who
could think of nothing; "tell us where Heinrich Heine lived when he was
in Hamburg. My husband has always had a great passion for him and wants
to look him up everywhere."
March had forgotten that Heine ever lived in Hamburg, and the young man
had apparently never known it. His face fell; he wished to make Mrs.
March believe that it was only Heine's uncle who had lived there; but she
was firm; and when he had asked among the hotel people he came back
gladly owning that he was wrong, and that the poet used to live in
Konigstrasse, which was very near by, and where they could easily know
the house by his bust set in its front. The portier and the head waiter
shared his ecstasy in so easily obliging the friendly American pair, and
joined him in minutely instructing the driver when they shut them into
They did not know that his was almost the only laughing face they should
see in the serious German Empire; just as they did not know that it
rained there every day. As they drove off in the gray drizzle with the
unfounded hope that sooner or later the weather would be fine, they bade
their driver be very slow in taking them through Konigstrasse, so that he
should by no means miss Heine's dwelling, and he duly stopped in front of
a house bearing the promised bust. They dismounted in order to revere it
more at their ease, but the bust proved, by an irony bitterer than the
sick, heart-breaking, brilliant Jew could have imagined in his cruelest
moment, to be that of the German Milton, the respectable poet Klopstock,
whom Heine abhorred and mocked so pitilessly.
In fact it was here that the good, much-forgotten Klopstock dwelt,
when he came home to live with a comfortable pension from the Danish
government; and the pilgrims to the mistaken shrine went asking about
among the neighbors in Konigstrasse, for some manner of house where Heine
might have lived; they would have been willing to accept a flat, or any
sort of two-pair back. The neighbors were somewhat moved by the anxiety
of the strangers; but they were not so much moved as neighbors in Italy
would have been. There vas no eager and smiling sympathy in the little
crowd that gathered to see what was going on; they were patient of
question and kind in their helpless response, but they were not gay.
To a man they had not heard of Heine; even the owner of a sausage and
blood-pudding shop across the way had not heard of him; the clerk of a
stationer-and-bookseller's next to the butcher's had heard of him, but he
had never heard that he lived in Konigstrasse; he never had heard where
he lived in Hamburg.
The pilgrims to the fraudulent shrine got back into their carriage, and
drove sadly away, instructing their driver with the rigidity which their
limited German favored, not to let any house with a bust in its front
escape him. He promised, and took his course out through Konigstrasse,
and suddenly they found themselves in a world of such eld and quaintness
that they forgot Heine as completely as any of his countrymen had done.
They were in steep and narrow streets, that crooked and turned with no
apparent purpose of leading anywhere, among houses that looked down upon
them with an astonished stare from the leaden-sashed windows of their
timber-laced gables. The facades with their lattices stretching in bands
quite across them, and with their steep roofs climbing high in
successions of blinking dormers, were more richly mediaeval than anything
the travellers had ever dreamt of before, and they feasted themselves
upon the unimagined picturesqueness with a leisurely minuteness which
brought responsive gazers everywhere to the windows; windows were set
ajar; shop doors were darkened by curious figures from within, and the
traffic of the tortuous alleys was interrupted by their progress. They
could not have said which delighted them more--the houses in the
immediate foreground, or the sharp high gables in the perspectives and
the background; but all were like the painted scenes of the stage, and
they had a pleasant difficulty in realizing that they were not persons in
some romantic drama.
The illusion remained with them and qualified the impression which
Hamburg made by her much-trolleyed Bostonian effect; by the decorous
activity and Parisian architecture of her business streets; by the
turmoil of her quays, and the innumerable masts and chimneys of her
shipping. At the heart of all was that quaintness, that picturesqueness
of the past, which embodied the spirit of the old Hanseatic city, and
seemed the expression of the home-side of her history. The sense of this
gained strength from such slight study of her annals as they afterwards
made, and assisted the digestion of some morsels of tough statistics.
In the shadow of those Gothic houses the fact that Hamburg was one of the
greatest coffee marts and money marts of the world had a romantic
glamour; and the fact that in the four years from 1870 till 1874 a
quarter of a million emigrants sailed on her ships for the United States
seemed to stretch a nerve of kindred feeling from those mediaeval streets
through the whole shabby length of Third Avenue.
It was perhaps in this glamour, or this feeling of commercial solidarity,
that March went to have a look at the Hamburg Bourse, in the beautiful
new Rathhaus. It was not undergoing repairs, it was too new for that;
but it was in construction, and so it fulfilled the function of a public
edifice, in withholding its entire interest from the stranger. He could
not get into the Senate Chamber; but the Bourse was free to him, and when
he stepped within, it rose at him with a roar of voices and of feet like
the New York Stock Exchange. The spectacle was not so frantic; people
were not shaking their fists or fingers in each other's noses; but they
were all wild in the tamer German way, and he was glad to mount from the
Bourse to the poor little art gallery upstairs, and to shut out its
clamor. He was not so glad when he looked round on these, his first,
examples of modern German art. The custodian led him gently about and
said which things were for sale, and it made his heart ache to see how
bad they were, and to think that, bad as they were, he could not buy any
In the start from Cuxhaven the passengers had the irresponsible ease of
people ticketed through, and the steamship company had still the charge
of their baggage. But when the Marches left Hamburg for Leipsic (where
they had decided to break the long pull to Carlsbad), all the anxieties
of European travel, dimly remembered from former European days, offered
themselves for recognition. A porter vanished with their hand-baggage
before they could note any trait in him for identification; other porters
made away with their trunks; and the interpreter who helped March buy his
tickets, with a vocabulary of strictly railroad English, had to help him
find the pieces in the baggage-room, curiously estranged in a mountain of
alien boxes. One official weighed them; another obliged him to pay as
much in freight as for a third passenger, and gave him an illegible scrap
of paper which recorded their number and destination. The interpreter
and the porters took their fees with a professional effect of
dissatisfaction, and he went to wait with his wife amidst the smoking and
eating and drinking in the restaurant. They burst through with the rest
when the doors were opened to the train, and followed a glimpse of the
porter with their hand-bags, as he ran down the platform, still bent upon
escaping them, and brought him to bay at last in a car where he had got
very good seats for them, and sank into their places, hot and humiliated
by their needless tumult.
As they cooled, they recovered their self-respect, and renewed a youthful
joy in some of the long-estranged facts. The road was rougher than the
roads at home; but for much less money they had the comfort, without the
unavailing splendor, of a Pullman in their second-class carriage. Mrs.
March had expected to be used with the severity on the imperial railroads
which she had failed to experience from the military on the Hamburg
sidewalks, but nothing could be kindlier than the whole management toward
her. Her fellow-travellers were not lavish of their rights, as Americans
are; what they got, that they kept; and in the run from Hamburg to
Leipsic she had several occasions to observe that no German, however
young or robust, dreams of offering a better place, if he has one, to a
lady in grace to her sex or age; if they got into a carriage too late to
secure a forward-looking seat, she rode backward to the end of that
stage. But if they appealed to their fellow-travellers for information
about changes, or stops, or any of the little facts that they wished to
make sure of, they were enlightened past possibility of error. At the
point where they might have gone wrong the explanations were renewed with
a thoughtfulness which showed that their anxieties had not been
forgotten. She said she could not see how any people could be both so
selfish and so sweet, and her husband seized the advantage of saying
"You women are so pampered in America that you are astonished when you
are treated in Europe like the mere human beings you are."
She answered with unexpected reasonableness:
"Yes, there's something in that; but when the Germans have taught us how
despicable we are as women, why do they treat us so well as human
This was at ten o'clock, after she had ridden backward a long way, and at
last, within an hour of Leipsic, had got a seat confronting him. The
darkness had now hidden the landscape, but the impression of its few
simple elements lingered pleasantly in their sense: long levels, densely
wooded with the precise, severely disciplined German forests, and
checkered with fields of grain and grass, soaking under the thin rain
that from time to time varied the thin sunshine.
The villages and peasants' cottages were notably few; but there was here
and there a classic or a gothic villa, which, at one point, an English-
speaking young lady turned from her Tauchnitz novel to explain as the
seat of some country gentleman; the land was in large holdings, and this
accounted for the sparsity of villages and cottages.
She then said that she was a German teacher of English, in Hamburg, and
was going home to Potsdam for a visit. She seemed like a German girl out
of 'The Initials', and in return for this favor Mrs. March tried to
invest herself with some romantic interest as an American. She failed to
move the girl's fancy, even after she had bestowed on her an immense
bunch of roses which the young German friend in Hamburg had sent to them
just before they left their hotel. She failed, later, on the same ground
with the pleasant-looking English woman who got into their carriage at
Magdeburg, and talked over the 'London Illustrated News' with an English-
speaking Fraulein in her company; she readily accepted the fact of Mrs.
March's nationality, but found nothing wonderful in it, apparently; and
when she left the train she left Mrs. March to recall with fond regret
the old days in Italy when she first came abroad, and could make a whole
carriage full of Italians break into ohs and ahs by saying that she was
an American, and telling how far she had come across the sea.
"Yes," March assented, "but that was a great while ago, and Americans
were much rarer than they are now in Europe. The Italians are so much
more sympathetic than the Germans and English, and they saw that you
wanted to impress them. Heaven knows how little they cared! And then,
you were a very pretty young girl in those days; or at least I thought
"Yes," she sighed, "and now I'm a plain old woman."
"Oh, not quite so bad as that."
"Yes, I am! Do you think they would have cared more if it had been Miss
"Not so much as if it had been the pivotal girl. They would have found
her much more their ideal of the American woman; and even she would have
had to have been here thirty years ago."
She laughed a little ruefully. "Well, at any rate, I should like to know
how Miss Triscoe would have affected them."
"I should much rather know what sort of life that English woman is living
here with her German husband; I fancied she had married rank. I could
imagine how dull it must be in her little Saxon town, from the way she
clung to her Illustrated News, and explained the pictures of the
royalties to her friend. There is romance for you!"
They arrived at Leipsic fresh and cheerful after their five hours'
journey, and as in a spell of their travelled youth they drove up through
the academic old town, asleep under its dimly clouded sky, and silent
except for the trolley-cars that prowled its streets with their feline
purr, and broke at times into a long, shrill caterwaul. A sense of the
past imparted itself to the well-known encounter with the portier and the
head waiter at the hotel door, to the payment of the driver, to the
endeavor of the secretary to have them take the most expensive rooms in
the house, and to his compromise upon the next most, where they found
themselves in great comfort, with electric lights and bells, and a quick
succession of fee-taking call-boys in dress-coats too large for them.
The spell was deepened by the fact, which March kept at the bottom of his
consciousness for the present, that one of their trunks was missing.
This linked him more closely to the travel of other days, and he spent
the next forenoon in a telegraphic search for the estray, with emotions
tinged by the melancholy of recollection, but in the security that since
it was somewhere in the keeping of the state railway, it would be finally
restored to him.
Their windows, as they saw in the morning, looked into a large square of
aristocratic physiognomy, and of a Parisian effect in architecture, which
afterwards proved characteristic of the town, if not quite so
characteristic as to justify the passion of Leipsic for calling itself
Little Paris. The prevailing tone was of a gray tending to the pale
yellow of the Tauchnitz editions with which the place is more familiarly
associated in the minds of English-speaking travellers. It was rather
more sombre than it might have been if the weather had been fair; but a
quiet rain was falling dreamily that morning, and the square was provided
with a fountain which continued to dribble in the rare moments when the
rain forgot itself. The place was better shaded than need be in that
sunless land by the German elms that look like ours and it was
sufficiently stocked with German statues, that look like no others. It
had a monument, too, of the sort with which German art has everywhere
disfigured the kindly fatherland since the war with France. These
monuments, though they are so very ugly, have a sort of pathos as records
of the only war in which Germany unaided has triumphed against a foreign
foe, but they are as tiresome as all such memorial pomps must be. It is
not for the victories of a people that any other people can care. The
wars come and go in blood and tears; but whether they are bad wars, or
what are comically called good wars, they are of one effect in death and
sorrow, and their fame is an offence to all men not concerned in them,
till time has softened it to a memory
"Of old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago."
It was for some such reason that while the Marches turned with instant
satiety from the swelling and strutting sculpture which celebrated the
Leipsic heroes of the war of 1870, they had heart for those of the war of
1813; and after their noonday dinner they drove willingly, in a pause of
the rain, out between yellowing harvests of wheat and oats to the field
where Napoleon was beaten by the Russians, Austrians and Prussians (it
always took at least three nations to beat the little wretch) fourscore
years before. Yet even there Mrs. March was really more concerned for
the sparsity of corn-flowers in the grain, which in their modern
character of Kaiserblumen she found strangely absent from their loyal
function; and March was more taken with the notion of the little gardens
which his guide told him the citizens could have in the suburbs of
Leipsic and enjoy at any trolley-car distance from their homes. He saw
certain of these gardens in groups, divided by low, unenvious fences, and
sometimes furnished with summer-houses, where the tenant could take his
pleasure in the evening air, with his family. The guide said he had such
a garden himself, at a rent of seven dollars a year, where he raised
vegetables and flowers, and spent his peaceful leisure; and March fancied
that on the simple domestic side of their life, which this fact gave him
a glimpse of, the Germans were much more engaging than in their character
of victors over either the First or the Third Napoleon. But probably
they would not have agreed with him, and probably nations will go on
making themselves cruel and tiresome till humanity at last prevails over
He could have put the case to the guide himself; but though the guide was
imaginably liberated to a cosmopolitan conception of things by three
years' service as waiter in English hotels, where he learned the
language, he might not have risen to this. He would have tried, for he
was a willing and kindly soul, though he was not a 'valet de place' by
profession. There seemed in fact but one of that useless and amusing
race (which is everywhere falling into decay through the rivalry of the
perfected Baedeker,) left in Leipsic, and this one was engaged, so that
the Marches had to devolve upon their ex-waiter, who was now the keeper
of a small restaurant. He gladly abandoned his business to the care of
his wife, in order to drive handsomely about in his best clothes, with
strangers who did not exact too much knowledge from him. In his zeal to
do something he possessed himself of March's overcoat when they
dismounted at their first gallery, and let fall from its pocket his
prophylactic flask of brandy, which broke with a loud crash on the marble
floor in the presence of several masterpieces, and perfumed the whole
place. The masterpieces were some excellent works of Luke Kranach, who
seemed the only German painter worth looking at when there were any Dutch
or Italian pictures near, but the travellers forgot the name and nature
of the Kranachs, and remembered afterwards only the shattered fragments
of the brandy-flask, just how they looked on the floor, and the fumes,
how they smelt, that rose from the ruin.
It might have been a warning protest of the veracities against what they
were doing; but the madness of sight-seeing, which spoils travel, was on
them, and they delivered themselves up to it as they used in their
ignorant youth, though now they knew its futility so well. They spared
themselves nothing that they had time for, that day, and they felt
falsely guilty for their omissions, as if they really had been duties to
art and history which must be discharged, like obligations to one's maker
and one's neighbor.
They had a touch of genuine joy in the presence of the beautiful old
Rathhaus, and they were sensible of something like a genuine emotion in
passing the famous and venerable university; the very air of Leipsic is
redolent of printing and publication, which appealed to March in his
quality of editor, and they could not fail of an impression of the quiet
beauty of the town, with its regular streets of houses breaking into
suburban villas of an American sort, and intersected with many canals,
which in the intervals of the rain were eagerly navigated by pleasure
boats, and contributed to the general picturesqueness by their frequent
bridges, even during the drizzle. There seemed to be no churches to do,
and as it was a Sunday, the galleries were so early closed against them
that they were making a virtue as well as a pleasure of the famous scene
of Napoleon's first great defeat.
By a concert between their guide and driver their carriage drew up at the
little inn by the road-side, which is also a museum stocked with relics
from the battle-field, and with objects of interest relating to it. Old
muskets, old swords, old shoes and old coats, trumpets, drums, gun-
carriages, wheels, helmets, cannon balls, grape-shot, and all the
murderous rubbish which battles come to at last, with proclamations,
autographs, caricatures and likenesses of Napoleon, and effigies of all
the other generals engaged, and miniatures and jewels of their womenkind,
filled room after room, through which their owner vaunted his way, with a
loud pounding voice and a bad breath. When he wished them to enjoy some
gross British satire or clumsy German gibe at Bonaparte's expense, and
put his face close to begin the laugh, he was something so terrible that
March left the place with a profound if not a reasoned regret that the
French had not won the battle of Leipsic. He walked away musing
pensively upon the traveller's inadequacy to the ethics of history when a
breath could so sway him against his convictions; but even after he had
cleansed his lungs with some deep respirations he found himself still a
Bonapartist in the presence of that stone on the rising ground where
Napoleon sat to watch the struggle on the vast plain, and see his empire
slipping through his blood-stained fingers. It was with difficulty that
he could keep from revering the hat and coat which are sculptured on the
stone, but it was well that he succeeded, for he could not make out then
or afterwards whether the habiliments represented were really Napoleon's
or not, and they might have turned out to be Barclay de Tolly's.
While he stood trying to solve this question of clothes he was startled
by the apparition of a man climbing the little slope from the opposite
quarter, and advancing toward them. He wore the imperial crossed by the
pointed mustache once so familiar to a world much the worse for them, and
March had the shiver of a fine moment in which he fancied the Third
Napoleon rising to view the scene where the First had looked his coming
ruin in the face.
"Why, it's Miss Triscoe!" cried his wife, and before March had noticed
the approach of another figure, the elder and the younger lady had rushed
upon each other, and encountered with a kiss. At the same time the
visage of the last Emperor resolved itself into the face of General
Triscoe, who gave March his hand in a more tempered greeting.
The ladies began asking each other of their lives since their parting two
days before, and the men strolled a few paces away toward the distant
prospect of Leipsic, which at that point silhouettes itself in a noble
stretch of roofs and spires and towers against the horizon.
General Triscoe seemed no better satisfied with Germany than he had been
on first stepping ashore at Cuxhaven. He might still have been in a pout
with his own country, but as yet he had not made up with any other; and
he said, "What a pity Napoleon didn't thrash the whole dunderheaded lot!
His empire would have been a blessing to them, and they would have had
some chance of being civilized under the French. All this unification of
nationalities is the great humbug of the century. Every stupid race
thinks it's happy because it's united, and civilization has been set back
a hundred years by the wars that were fought to bring the unions about;
and more wars will have to be fought to keep them up. What a farce it
is! What's become of the nationality of the Danes in Schleswig-Holstein,
or the French in the Rhine Provinces, or the Italians in Savoy?"
March had thought something like this himself, but to have it put by
General Triscoe made it offensive. "I don't know. Isn't it rather
quarrelling with the course of human events to oppose accomplished facts?
The unifications were bound to be, just as the separations before them
were. And so far they have made for peace, in Europe at least, and peace
is civilization. Perhaps after a great many ages people will come
together through their real interests, the human interests; but at
present it seems as if nothing but a romantic sentiment of patriotism can
unite them. By-and-by they may find that there is nothing in it."
"Perhaps," said the general, discontentedly. "I don't see much promise
of any kind in the future."
"Well, I don't know. When you think of the solid militarism of Germany,
you seem remanded to the most hopeless moment of the Roman Empire; you
think nothing can break such a force; but my guide says that even in
Leipsic the Socialists outnumber all the other parties, and the army is
the great field of the Socialist propaganda. The army itself may be
shaped into the means of democracy--even of peace."
"You're very optimistic," said Triscoe, curtly. "As I read the signs,
we are not far from universal war. In less than a year we shall make the
break ourselves in a war with Spain." He looked very fierce as he
prophesied, and he dotted March over with his staccato glances.
"Well, I'll allow that if Tammany comes in this year, we shall have war
with Spain. You can't ask more than that, General Triscoe?"
Mrs. March and Miss Triscoe had not said a word of the 'battle of
Leipsic', or of the impersonal interests which it suggested to the men.
For all these, they might still have been sitting in their steamer chairs
on the promenade of the Norumbia at a period which seemed now of
geological remoteness. The girl accounted for not being in Dresden by
her father's having decided not to go through Berlin but to come by way
of Leipsic, which he thought they had better see; they had come without
stopping in Hamburg. They had not enjoyed Leipsic much; it had rained
the whole day before, and they had not gone out. She asked when Mrs.
March was going on to Carlsbad, and Mrs. March answered, the next
morning; her husband wished to begin his cure at once.
Then Miss Triscoe pensively wondered if Carlsbad would do her father any
good; and Mrs. March discreetly inquired General Triscoe's symptoms.
"Oh, he hasn't any. But I know he can't be well--with his gloomy
"They may come from his liver," said Mrs. March. "Nearly everything of
that kind does. I know that Mr. March has been terribly depressed at
times, and the doctor said it was nothing but his liver; and Carlsbad is
the great place for that, you know."
"Perhaps I can get papa to run over some day, if he doesn't like Dresden.
It isn't very far, is it?"
They referred to Mrs. March's Baedeker together, and found that it was
"Yes, that is what I thought," said Miss Triscoe, with a carelessness
which convinced Mrs. March she had looked up the fact already.
"If you decide to come, you must let us get rooms for you at our hotel.
We're going to Pupp's; most of the English and Americans go to the hotels
on the Hill, but Pupp's is in the thick of it in the lower town; and it's
very gay, Mr. Kenby says; he's been there often. Mr. Burnamy is to get
"I don't suppose I can get papa to go," said Miss Triscoe, so insincerely
that Mrs. March was sure she had talked over the different routes; to
Carlsbad with Burnamy--probably on the way from Cuxhaven. She looked up
from digging the point of her umbrella in the ground. "You didn't meet
him here this morning?"
Mrs. March governed herself to a calm which she respected in asking, "Has
Mr. Burnamy been here?"
"He came on with Mr. and Mrs. Eltwin, when we did, and they all decided
to stop over a day. They left on the twelve-o'clock train to-day."
Mrs. March perceived that the girl had decided not to let the facts
betray themselves by chance, and she treated them as of no significance.
"No, we didn't see him," she said, carelessly.
The two men came walking slowly towards them, and Miss Triscoe said,
"We're going to Dresden this evening, but I hope we shall meet somewhere,
"Oh, people never lose sight of each other in Europe; they can't; it's so
"Agatha," said the girl's father, "Mr. March tells me that the museum
over there is worth seeing."
"Well," the girl assented, and she took a winning leave of the Marches,
and moved gracefully away with her father.
"I should have thought it was Agnes," said Mrs. March, following them
with her eyes before she turned upon her husband. "Did he tell you
Burnamy had been here? Well, he has! He has just gone on to Carlsbad.
He made, those poor old Eltwins stop over with him, so he could be with
"Did she say that?"
"No, but of course he did."
"Then it's all settled?"
"No, it isn't settled. It's at the most interesting point."
"Well, don't read ahead. You always want to look at the last page."
"You were trying to look at the last page yourself," she retorted, and
she would have liked to punish him for his complex dishonesty toward the
affair; but upon the whole she kept her temper with him, and she made him
agree that Miss Triscoe's getting her father to Carlsbad was only a
question of time.
They parted heart's-friends with their ineffectual guide, who was
affectionately grateful for the few marks they gave him, at the hotel
door; and they were in just the mood to hear men singing in a farther
room when they went down to supper. The waiter, much distracted from
their own service by his duties to it, told them it was the breakfast
party of students which they had heard beginning there about noon. The
revellers had now been some six hours at table, and he said they might
not rise before midnight; they had just got to the toasts, which were
apparently set to music.
The students of right remained a vivid color in the impression of the
university town. They pervaded the place, and decorated it with their
fantastic personal taste in coats and trousers, as well as their corps
caps of green, white, red, and blue, but above all blue. They were not
easily distinguishable from the bicyclers who were holding one of the
dull festivals of their kind in Leipsic that day, and perhaps they were
sometimes both students and bicyclers. As bicyclers they kept about in
the rain, which they seemed not to mind; so far from being disheartened,
they had spirits enough to take one another by the waist at times and
waltz in the square before the hotel. At one moment of the holiday some
chiefs among them drove away in carriages; at supper a winner of prizes
sat covered with badges and medals; another who went by the hotel
streamed with ribbons; and an elderly man at his side was bespattered
with small knots and ends of them, as if he had been in an explosion of
ribbons somewhere. It seemed all to be as exciting for them, and it was
as tedious for the witnesses, as any gala of students and bicyclers at
Mrs. March remained with an unrequited curiosity concerning their
different colors and different caps, and she tried to make her husband
find out what they severally meant; he pretended a superior interest in
the nature of a people who had such a passion for uniforms that they were
not content with its gratification in their immense army, but indulged it
in every pleasure and employment of civil life. He estimated, perhaps
not very accurately, that only one man out of ten in Germany wore
citizens' dress; and of all functionaries he found that the dogs of the
women-and-dog teams alone had no distinctive dress; even the women had
their peasant costume.
There was an industrial fair open at Leipsic which they went out of the
city to see after supper, along with a throng of Leipsickers, whom an
hour's interval of fine weather tempted forth on the trolley; and with
the help of a little corporal, who took a fee for his service with the
eagerness of a civilian, they got wheeled chairs, and renewed their
associations with the great Chicago Fair in seeing the exposition from
them. This was not, March said, quite the same as being drawn by a
woman-and-dog team, which would have been the right means of doing a
German fair; but it was something to have his chair pushed by a slender
young girl, whose stalwart brother applied his strength to the chair of
the lighter traveller; and it was fit that the girl should reckon the
common hire, while the man took the common tip. They made haste to leave
the useful aspects of the fair, and had themselves trundled away to the
Colonial Exhibit, where they vaguely expected something like the
agreeable corruptions of the Midway Plaisance. The idea of her colonial
progress with which Germany is trying to affect the home-keeping
imagination of her people was illustrated by an encampment of savages
from her Central-African possessions. They were getting their supper at
the moment the Marches saw them, and were crouching, half naked, around
the fires under the kettles, and shivering from the cold, but they were
not very characteristic of the imperial expansion, unless perhaps when an
old man in a red blanket suddenly sprang up with a knife in his hand and
began to chase a boy round the camp. The boy was lighter-footed, and
easily outran the sage, who tripped at times on his blanket. None of the
other Central Africans seemed to care for the race, and without waiting
for the event, the American spectators ordered themselves trundled away
to another idle feature of the fair, where they hoped to amuse themselves
with the image of Old Leipsic.
This was so faithfully studied from the past in its narrow streets and
Gothic houses that it was almost as picturesque as the present epoch in
the old streets of Hamburg. A drama had just begun to be represented on
a platform of the public square in front of a fourteenth-century beer-
house, with people talking from the windows round, and revellers in the
costume of the period drinking beer and eating sausages at tables in the
open air. Their eating and drinking were genuine, and in the midst of it
a real rain began, to pour down upon them, without affecting them any
more than if they had been Germans of the nineteenth century. But it
drove the Americans to a shelter from which they could not see the play,
and when it held up, they made their way back to their hotel.
Their car was full of returning pleasurers, some of whom were happy
beyond the sober wont of the fatherland. The conductor took a special
interest in his tipsy passengers, trying to keep them in order, and
genially entreating them to be quiet when they were too obstreperous.
From time to time he got some of them off, and then, when he remounted
the car, he appealed to the remaining passengers for their sympathy with
an innocent smile, which the Americans, still strange to the unjoyous
physiognomy of the German Empire, failed to value at its rare worth.
Before he slept that night March tried to assemble from the experiences
and impressions of the day some facts which he would not be ashamed of as
a serious observer of life in Leipsic, and he remembered that their guide
had said house-rent was very low. He generalized from the guide's
content with his fee that the Germans were not very rapacious; and he
became quite irrelevantly aware that in Germany no man's clothes fitted
him, or seemed expected to fit him; that the women dressed somewhat
better, and were rather pretty sometimes, and that they had feet as large
as the kind hearts of the Germans of every age and sex. He was able to
note, rather more freshly, that with all their kindness the Germans were
a very nervous people, if not irritable, and at the least cause gave way
to an agitation, which indeed quickly passed, but was violent while it
lasted. Several times that day he had seen encounters between the
portier and guests at the hotel which promised violence, but which ended
peacefully as soon as some simple question of train-time was solved.
The encounters always left the portier purple and perspiring, as any
agitation must with a man so tight in his livery. He bemoaned himself
after one of them as the victim of an unhappy calling, in which he could
take no exercise. "It is a life of excitements, but not of movements,"
he explained to March; and when he learned where he was going, he
regretted that he could not go to Carlsbad too. "For sugar?" he asked,
as if there were overmuch of it in his own make.
March felt the tribute, but he had to say, "No; liver."
"Ah!" said the portier, with the air of failing to get on common ground
The next morning was so fine that it would have been a fine morning in
America. Its beauty was scarcely sullied, even subjectively, by the
telegram which the portier sent after the Marches from the hotel, saying
that their missing trunk had not yet been found, and their spirits were
as light as the gay little clouds which blew about in the sky, when their
train drew out in the sunshine, brilliant on the charming landscape all
the way to Carlsbad. A fatherly 'traeger' had done his best to get them
the worst places in a non-smoking compartment, but had succeeded so
poorly that they were very comfortable, with no companions but a mother
and daughter, who spoke German in soft low tones together. Their
compartment was pervaded by tobacco fumes from the smokers, but as these
were twice as many as the non-smokers, it was only fair, and after March
had got a window open it did not matter, really.
He asked leave of the strangers in his German, and they consented in
theirs; but he could not master the secret of the window-catch, and the
elder lady said in English, "Let me show you," and came to his help.
The occasion for explaining that they were Americans and accustomed to
different car windows was so tempting that Mrs. March could not forbear,
and the other ladies were affected as deeply as she could wish. Perhaps
they were the more affected because it presently appeared that they had
cousins in New York whom she knew of, and that they were acquainted with
an American family that had passed the winter in Berlin. Life likes to
do these things handsomely, and it easily turned out that this was a
family of intimate friendship with the Marches; the names, familiarly
spoken, abolished all strangeness between the travellers; and they
entered into a comparison of tastes, opinions, and experiences, from
which it seemed that the objects and interests of cultivated people in
Berlin were quite the same as those of cultivated people in New York.
Each of the parties to the discovery disclaimed any superiority for their
respective civilizations; they wished rather to ascribe a greater charm
and virtue to the alien conditions; and they acquired such merit with one
another that when the German ladies got out of the train at Franzensbad,
the mother offered Mrs. March an ingenious folding footstool which she
had admired. In fact, she left her with it clasped to her breast, and
bowing speechless toward the giver in a vain wish to express her
"That was very pretty of her, my dear," said March. "You couldn't have
"No," she confessed; "I shouldn't have had the courage. The courage of
my emotions," she added, thoughtfully.
"Ah, that's the difference! A Berliner could do it, and a Bostonian
couldn't. Do you think it so much better to have the courage of your
"I don't know. It seems to me that I'm less and less certain of
everything that I used to be sure of."
He laughed, and then he said, "I was thinking how, on our wedding
journey, long ago, that Gray Sister at the Hotel Dieu in Quebec offered
you a rose."
"That was to your pretty youth. Now the gracious stranger gives you a
"To rest my poor old feet. Well, I would rather have it than a rose,
"You bent toward her at just the slant you had when you took the flower
that time; I noticed it. I didn't see that you looked so very different.
To be sure the roses in your cheeks have turned into rosettes; but
rosettes are very nice, and they're much more permanent; I prefer them;
they will keep in any climate."
She suffered his mockery with an appreciative sigh. "Yes, our age
caricatures our youth, doesn't it?"
"I don't think it gets much fun out of it," he assented.
"No; but it can't help it. I used to rebel against it when it first
began. I did enjoy being young."
"You did, my dear," he said, taking her hand tenderly; she withdrew it,
because though she could bear his sympathy, her New England nature could
not bear its expression. "And so did I; and we were both young a long
time. Travelling brings the past back, don't you think? There at that
restaurant, where we stopped for dinner--"
"Yes, it was charming! Just as it used to be! With that white cloth,
and those tall shining bottles of wine, and the fruit in the centre, and
the dinner in courses, and that young waiter who spoke English, and was
so nice! I'm never going home; you may, if you like."
"You bragged to those ladies about our dining-cars; and you said that our
railroad restaurants were quite as good as the European."
"I had to do that. But I knew better; they don't begin to be."
"Perhaps not; but I've been thinking that travel is a good deal alike
everywhere. It's the expression of the common civilization of the world.
When I came out of that restaurant and ran the train down, and then found
that it didn't start for fifteen minutes, I wasn't sure whether I was at
home or abroad. And when we changed cars at Eger, and got into this
train which had been baking in the sun for us outside the station, I
didn't know but I was back in the good old Fitchburg depot. To be sure,
Wallenstein wasn't assassinated at Boston, but I forgot his murder at
Eger, and so that came to the same thing. It's these confounded fifty-
odd years. I used to recollect everything."
He had got up and was looking out of the window at the landscape, which
had not grown less amiable in growing rather more slovenly since they had
crossed the Saxon bolder into Bohemia. All the morning and early
afternoon they had run through lovely levels of harvest, where men were
cradling the wheat and women were binding it into sheaves in the narrow
fields between black spaces of forest. After they left Eger, there was
something more picturesque and less thrifty in the farming among the low
hills which they gradually mounted to uplands, where they tasted a
mountain quality in the thin pure air. The railroad stations were
shabbier; there was an indefinable touch of something Southern in the
scenery and the people. Lilies were rocking on the sluggish reaches of
the streams, and where the current quickened, tall wheels were lifting
water for the fields in circles of brimming and spilling pockets. Along
the embankments, where a new track was being laid, barefooted women were
at work with pick and spade and barrow, and little yellow-haired girls
were lugging large white-headed babies, and watching the train go by.
At an up grade where it slowed in the ascent he began to throw out to the
children the pfennigs which had been left over from the passage in
Germany, and he pleased himself with his bounty, till the question
whether the children could spend the money forced itself upon him. He
sat down feeling less like a good genius than a cruel magician who had
tricked them with false wealth; but he kept his remorse to himself, and
tried to interest his wife in the difference of social and civic ideal
expressed in the change of the inhibitory notices at the car windows,
which in Germany had strongliest forbidden him to outlean himself, and
now in Austria entreated him not to outbow himself. She refused to share
in the speculation, or to debate the yet nicer problem involved by the
placarded prayer in the washroom to the Messrs. Travellers not to take
away the soap; and suddenly he felt himself as tired as she looked, with
that sense of the futility of travel which lies in wait for every one who
profits by travel.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Bad wars, or what are comically called good wars
Calm of those who have logic on their side
Decided not to let the facts betray themselves by chance
Explained perhaps too fully
Futility of travel
Humanity may at last prevail over nationality
Impertinent prophecies of their enjoying it so much
Less certain of everything that I used to be sure of
Life of the ship, like the life of the sea: a sodden monotony
Life was like the life at a sea-side hotel, but more monotonous
Madness of sight-seeing, which spoils travel
Night so bad that it was worse than no night at all
Our age caricatures our youth
Prices fixed by his remorse
Recipes for dishes and diseases
Reckless and culpable optimism
Repeated the nothings they had said already
She cares for him: that she was so cold shows that
She could bear his sympathy, but not its expression
Suffering under the drip-drip of his innocent egotism
They were so near in age, though they were ten years apart
Unfounded hope that sooner or later the weather would be fine
Woman harnessed with a dog to a cart
Wooded with the precise, severely disciplined German forests
Work he was so fond of and so weary of
THEIR SILVER WEDDING JOURNEY
They found Burnamy expecting them at the station in Carlsbad, and she
scolded him like a mother for taking the trouble to meet them, while she
kept back for the present any sign of knowing that he had staid over a
day with the Triscoes in Leipsic. He was as affectionately glad to see
her and her husband as she could have wished, but she would have liked it
better if he had owned up at once about Leipsic. He did not, and it
seemed to her that he was holding her at arm's-length in his answers
about his employer. He would not say how he liked his work, or how he
liked Mr. Stoller; he merely said that they were at Pupp's together, and
that he had got in a good day's work already; and since he would say no
more, she contented herself with that.
The long drive from the station to the hotel was by streets that wound
down the hill-side like those of an Italian mountain town, between gay
stuccoed houses, of Southern rather than of Northern architecture; and
the impression of a Latin country was heightened at a turn of the road
which brought into view a colossal crucifix planted against a curtain of
dark green foliage on the brow of one of the wooded heights that
surrounded Carlsbad. When they reached the level of the Tepl, the hill-
fed torrent that brawls through the little city under pretty bridges
within walls of solid masonry, they found themselves in almost the only
vehicle on a brilliant promenade thronged with a cosmopolitan world.
Germans in every manner of misfit; Polish Jews in long black gabardines,
with tight corkscrew curls on their temples under their black velvet
derbys; Austrian officers in tight corsets; Greek priests in flowing
robes and brimless high hats; Russians in caftans and Cossacks in
Astrakhan caps, accented the more homogeneous masses of western
Europeans, in which it would have been hard to say which were English,
French or Italians. Among the vividly dressed ladies, some were
imaginably Parisian from their chic costumes, but they might easily have
been Hungarians or Levantines of taste; some Americans, who might have
passed unknown in the perfection of their dress, gave their nationality
away in the flat wooden tones of their voices, which made themselves
heard above the low hum of talk and the whisper of the innumerable feet.
The omnibus worked its way at a slow walk among the promenaders going and
coming between the rows of pollard locusts on one side and the bright
walls of the houses on the other. Under the trees were tables, served by
pretty bareheaded girls who ran to and from the restaurants across the
way. On both sides flashed and glittered the little shops full of
silver, glass, jewelry, terracotta figurines, wood-carvings, and all the
idle frippery of watering-place traffic: they suggested Paris, and they
suggested Saratoga, and then they were of Carlsbad and of no place else
in the world, as the crowd which might have been that of other cities at
certain moments could only have been of Carlsbad in its habitual effect.
"Do you like it?" asked Burnamy, as if he owned the place, and Mrs. March
saw how simple-hearted he was in his reticence, after all. She was ready
to bless him when they reached the hotel and found that his interest had
got them the only rooms left in the house. This satisfied in her the
passion for size which is at the bottom of every American heart, and
which perhaps above all else marks us the youngest of the peoples.
We pride ourselves on the bigness of our own things, but we are not
ungenerous, and when we go to Europe and find things bigger than ours, we
are magnanimously happy in them. Pupp's, in its altogether different
way, was larger than any hotel at Saratoga or at Niagara; and when
Burnamy told her that it sometimes fed fifteen thousand people a day in
the height of the season, she was personally proud of it.
She waited with him in the rotunda of the hotel, while the secretary led
March off to look at the rooms reserved for them, and Burnamy hospitably
turned the revolving octagonal case in the centre of the rotunda where
the names of the guests were put up. They were of all nations, but there
were so many New Yorkers whose names ended in berg, and thal, and stern,
and baum that she seemed to be gazing upon a cyclorama of the signs on
Broadway. A large man of unmistakable American make, but with so little
that was of New England or New York in his presence that she might not at
once have thought him American, lounged toward them with a quill
toothpick in the corner of his mouth. He had a jealous blue eye, into
which he seemed trying to put a friendly light; his straight mouth
stretched into an involuntary smile above his tawny chin-beard, and he
wore his soft hat so far back from his high forehead (it showed to the
crown when he took his hat off) that he had the effect of being
At his approach Burnamy turned, and with a flush said: "Oh! Let me
introduce Mr. Stoller, Mrs. March."
Stoller took his toothpick out of his mouth and bowed; then he seemed to
remember, and took off his hat. "You see Jews enough, here to make you
feel at home?" he asked; and he added: "Well, we got some of 'em in
Chicago, too, I guess. This young man"--he twisted his head toward
Burnamy" found you easy enough?"
"It was very good of him to meet us," Mrs. March began. "We didn't
"Oh, that's all right," said Stoller, putting his toothpick back, and his
hat on. "We'd got through for the day; my doctor won't let me work all I
want to, here. Your husband's going to take the cure, they tell me.
Well, he wants to go to a good doctor, first. You can't go and drink
these waters hit or miss. I found that out before I came."
"Oh, no!" said Mrs. March, and she wished to explain how they had been
advised; but he said to Burnamy:
"I sha'n't want you again till ten to-morrow morning. Don't let me
interrupt you," he added patronizingly to Mrs. March. He put his hand up
toward his hat, and sauntered away out of the door.
Burnamy did not speak; and she only asked at last, to relieve the
silence, "Is Mr. Stoller an American?"
"Why, I suppose so," he answered, with an uneasy laugh. "His people were
German emigrants who settled in Southern Indiana. That makes him as much
American as any of us, doesn't it?"
Burnamy spoke with his mind on his French-Canadian grandfather, who had
come down through Detroit, when their name was Bonami; but Mrs. March
answered from her eight generations of New England ancestry. "Oh, for
the West, yes, perhaps," and they neither of them said anything more
In their room, where she found March waiting for her amidst their
arriving baggage, she was so full of her pent-up opinions of Burnamy's
patron that she, would scarcely speak of the view from their windows of
the wooded hills up and down the Tepl. "Yes, yes; very nice, and I know
I shall enjoy it ever so much. But I don't know what you will think of
that poor young Burnamy!"
"Why, what's happened to him?"
"Happened? Stoller's happened."
"Oh, have you seen him, already? Well?"
"Well, if you had been going to pick out that type of man, you'd have
rejected him, because you'd have said he was too pat. He's like an actor
made up for a Western millionaire. Do you remember that American in
'L'Etranger' which Bernhardt did in Boston when she first came? He,
looks exactly like that, and he has the worst manners. He stood talking
to me with his hat on, and a toothpick in his mouth; and he made me feel
as if he had bought me, along with Burnamy, and had paid too much. If
you don't give him a setting down, Basil, I shall never speak to you;
that's all. I'm sure Burnamy is in some trouble with him; he's got some
sort of hold upon him; what it could be in such a short time, I can't
imagine; but if ever a man seemed to be, in a man's power, he does, in
"Now," said March, "your pronouns have got so far beyond me that I think
we'd better let it all go till after supper; perhaps I shall see Stoller
myself by that time."
She had been deeply stirred by her encounter with Stoller, but she
entered with impartial intensity into the fact that the elevator at
Pupp's had the characteristic of always coming up and never going down
with passengers. It was locked into its closet with a solid door, and
there was no bell to summon it, or any place to take it except on the
ground-floor; but the stairs by which she could descend were abundant and
stately; and on one landing there was the lithograph of one of the
largest and ugliest hotels in New York; how ugly it was, she said she
should never have known if she had not seen it there.
The dining-room was divided into the grand saloon, where they supped amid
rococo sculptures and frescoes, and the glazed veranda opening by vast
windows on a spread of tables without, which were already filling up for
the evening concert. Around them at the different tables there were
groups of faces and figures fascinating in their strangeness, with that
distinction which abashes our American level in the presence of European
"How simple and unimpressive we are, Basil," she said, "beside all these
people! I used to feel it in Europe when I was young, and now I'm
certain that we must seem like two faded-in old village photographs. We
don't even look intellectual! I hope we look good."
"I know I do," said March. The waiter went for their supper, and they
joined in guessing the different nationalities in the room. A French
party was easy enough; a Spanish mother and daughter were not difficult,
though whether they were not South-American remained uncertain; two
elderly maiden ladies were unmistakably of central Massachusetts, and
were obviously of a book-club culture that had left no leaf unturned;
some Triestines gave themselves away by their Venetian accent; but a
large group at a farther table were unassignable in the strange language
which they clattered loudly together, with bursts of laughter. They were
a family party of old and young, they were having a good time, with a
freedom which she called baronial; the ladies wore white satin, or black
lace, but the men were in sack-coats; she chose to attribute them, for no
reason but their outlandishness, to Transylvania. March pretended to
prefer a table full of Germans, who were unmistakably bourgeois, and yet
of intellectual effect. He chose as his favorite a middle-aged man of
learned aspect, and they both decided to think of him as the Herr
Professor, but they did not imagine how perfectly the title fitted him
till he drew a long comb from his waistcoat pocket and combed his hair
and beard with it above the table.
The wine wrought with the Transylvanians, and they all jargoned together
at once, and laughed at the jokes passing among them. One old gentleman
had a peculiar fascination from the infantile innocence of his gums when
he threw his head back to laugh, and showed an upper jaw toothless except
for two incisors, standing guard over the chasm between. Suddenly he
choked, coughed to relieve himself, hawked, held his napkin up before
"Noblesse oblige," said March, with the tone of irony which he reserved
for his wife's preoccupations with aristocracies of all sorts. "I think
I prefer my Hair Professor, bourgeois, as he is."
The ladies attributively of central Massachusetts had risen from their
table, and were making for the door without having paid for their supper.
The head waiter ran after them; with a real delicacy for their mistake he
explained that though in most places the meals were charged in the bill,
it was the custom in Carlsbad to pay for them at the table; one could see
that he was making their error a pleasant adventure to them which they
could laugh over together, and write home about without a pang.
"And I," said Mrs. March, shamelessly abandoning the party of the
aristocracy, "prefer the manners of the lower classes."
"Oh, yes," he admitted. "The only manners we have at home are black
ones. But you mustn't lose courage. Perhaps the nobility are not always
"I don't know whether we have manners at home," she said, "and I don't
believe I care. At least we have decencies."
"Don't be a jingo," said her husband.
Though Stoller had formally discharged Burnamy from duty for the day, he
was not so full of resources in himself, and he had not so general an
acquaintance in the hotel but he was glad to have the young fellow make
up to him in the reading-room, that night. He laid down a New York paper
ten days old in despair of having left any American news in it, and
pushed several continental Anglo-American papers aside with his elbow, as
he gave a contemptuous glance at the foreign journals, in Bohemian,
Hungarian, German, French, and Italian, which littered the large table.
"I wonder," he said, "how long it'll take'em, over here, to catch on to
our way of having pictures?"
Burnamy had come to his newspaper work since illustrated journalism was
established, and he had never had any shock from it at home, but so
sensitive is youth to environment that, after four days in Europe, the
New York paper Stoller had laid down was already hideous to him. From
the politic side of his nature, however, he temporized with Stoller's
preference. "I suppose it will be some time yet."
"I wish," said Stoller, with a savage disregard of expressed sequences
and relevancies, "I could ha' got some pictures to send home with that
letter this afternoon: something to show how they do things here, and be
a kind of object-lesson." This term had come up in a recent campaign
when some employers, by shutting down their works, were showing their
employees what would happen if the employees voted their political
opinions into effect, and Stoller had then mastered its meaning and was
fond of using it. "I'd like 'em to see the woods around here, that the
city owns, and the springs, and the donkey-carts, and the theatre, and
everything, and give 'em some practical ideas."
Burnamy made an uneasy movement.
"I'd 'a' liked to put 'em alongside of some of our improvements, and show
how a town can be carried on when it's managed on business principles.
"Why didn't you think of it?"
"Really, I don't know," said Burnamy, with a touch of impatience.
They had not met the evening before on the best of terms. Stoller had
expected Burnamy twenty-four hours earlier, and had shown his displeasure
with him for loitering a day at Leipsic which he might have spent at
Carlsbad; and Burnamy had been unsatisfactory in accounting for the
delay. But he had taken hold so promptly and so intelligently that by
working far into the night, and through the whole forenoon, he had got
Stoller's crude mass of notes into shape, and had sent off in time for
the first steamer the letter which was to appear over the proprietor's
name in his paper. It was a sort of rough but very full study of the
Carlsbad city government, the methods of taxation, the municipal
ownership of the springs and the lands, and the public control in
everything. It condemned the aristocratic constitution of the
municipality, but it charged heavily in favor of the purity, beneficence,
and wisdom of the administration, under which there was no poverty and no
idleness, and which was managed like any large business.
Stoller had sulkily recurred to his displeasure, once or twice, and
Burnamy suffered it submissively until now. But now, at the change in
Burnamy's tone, he changed his manner a little.
"Seen your friends since supper?" he asked.
"Only a moment. They are rather tired, and they've gone to bed."
That the fellow that edits that book you write for?"
"Yes; he owns it, too."
The notion of any sort of ownership moved Stoller's respect, and he asked
more deferentially, "Makin' a good thing out of it?"
"A living, I suppose. Some of the high-class weeklies feel the
competition of the ten-cent monthlies. But 'Every Other Week' is about
the best thing we've got in the literary way, and I guess it's holding
"Have to, to let the editor come to Carlsbad," Stoller said, with a
return to the sourness of his earlier mood. "I don't know as I care much
for his looks; I seen him when he came in with you. No snap to him."
He clicked shut the penknife he had been paring his nails with, and
started up with the abruptness which marked all his motions, mental and
physical; as he walked heavily out of the room he said, without looking
at Burnamy, "You want to be ready by half past ten at the latest."
Stoller's father and mother were poor emigrants who made their way to the
West with the instinct for sordid prosperity native to their race and
class; and they set up a small butcher shop in the little Indiana town
where their son was born, and throve in it from the start. He could
remember his mother helping his father make the sausage and head-cheese
and pickle the pigs' feet, which they took turns in selling at as great a
price as they could extort from the townspeople. She was a good and
tender mother, and when her little Yawcup, as the boys called Jacob in
mimicry after her, had grown to the school-going age, she taught him to
fight the Americans, who stoned him when he came out of his gate, and
mobbed his home-coming; and mocked and tormented him at play-time till
they wore themselves into a kindlier mind toward him through the
exhaustion of their invention. No one, so far as the gloomy, stocky,
rather dense little boy could make out, ever interfered in his behalf;
and he grew up in bitter shame for his German origin, which entailed upon
him the hard fate of being Dutch among the Americans. He hated his
native speech so much that he cried when he was forced to use it with his
father and mother at home; he furiously denied it with the boys who
proposed to parley with him in it on such terms as "Nix come arouce in de
Dytchman's house." He disused it so thoroughly that after his father
took him out of school, when he was old enough to help in the shop, he
could not get back to it. He regarded his father's business as part of
his national disgrace, and at the cost of leaving his home he broke away
from it, and informally apprenticed himself to the village blacksmith and
wagon-maker. When it came to his setting up for himself in the business
he had chosen, he had no help from his father, who had gone on adding
dollar to dollar till he was one of the richest men in the place.
Jacob prospered too; his old playmates, who had used him so cruelly, had
many of them come to like him; but as a Dutchman they never dreamt of
asking him to their houses when they were young people, any more than
when they were children. He was long deeply in love with an American
girl whom he had never spoken to, and the dream of his life was to marry
an American. He ended by marrying the daughter of Pferd the brewer, who
had been at an American school in Indianapolis, and had come home as
fragilely and nasally American as anybody. She made him a good, sickly,
fretful wife; and bore him five children, of whom two survived, with no
visible taint of their German origin.
In the mean time Jacob's father had died and left his money to his son,
with the understanding that he was to provide for his mother, who would
gladly have given every cent to him and been no burden to him, if she
could. He took her home, and cared tenderly for her as long as she
lived; and she meekly did her best to abolish herself in a household
trying so hard to be American. She could not help her native accent, but
she kept silence when her son's wife had company; and when her eldest
granddaughter began very early to have American callers, she went out of
the room; they would not have noticed her if she had staid.
Before this Jacob had come forward publicly in proportion to his
financial importance in the community. He first commended himself to the
Better Element by crushing out a strike in his Buggy Works, which were
now the largest business interest of the place; and he rose on a wave of
municipal reform to such a height of favor with the respectable classes
that he was elected on a citizens' ticket to the Legislature. In the
reaction which followed he was barely defeated for Congress, and was
talked of as a dark horse who might be put up for the governorship some
day; but those who knew him best predicted that he would not get far in
politics, where his bull-headed business ways would bring him to ruin
sooner or later; they said, "You can't swing a bolt like you can a
When his mother died, he surprised his old neighbors by going to live in
Chicago, though he kept his works in the place where he and they had
grown up together. His wife died shortly after, and within four years he
lost his three eldest children; his son, it was said, had begun to go
wrong first. But the rumor of his increasing wealth drifted back from
Chicago; he was heard of in different enterprises and speculations; at
last it was said that he had bought a newspaper, and then his boyhood
friends decided that Jake was going into politics again.
In the wider horizons and opener atmosphere of the great city he came to
understand better that to be an American in all respects was not the
best. His mounting sense of importance began to be retroactive in the
direction of his ancestral home; he wrote back to the little town near
Wurzburg which his people had come from, and found that he had relatives
still living there, some of whom had become people of substance; and
about the time his health gave way from life-long gluttony, and he was
ordered to Carlsbad, he had pretty much made up his mind to take his
younger daughters and put them in school for a year or two in Wurzburg,
for a little discipline if not education. He had now left them there, to
learn the language, which he had forgotten with such heart-burning and
shame, and music, for which they had some taste.
The twins loudly lamented their fate, and they parted from their father
with open threats of running away; and in his heart he did not altogether
blame them. He came away from Wurzburg raging at the disrespect for his
money and his standing in business which had brought him a more galling
humiliation there than anything he had suffered in his boyhood at Des
Vaches. It intensified him in his dear-bought Americanism to the point
of wishing to commit lese majesty in the teeth of some local dignitaries
who had snubbed him, and who seemed to enjoy putting our eagle to shame
in his person; there was something like the bird of his step-country in
Stoller's pale eyes and huge beak.
March sat with a company of other patients in the anteroom of the doctor,
and when it came his turn to be prodded and kneaded, he was ashamed at
being told he was not so bad a case as he had dreaded. The doctor wrote
out a careful dietary for him, with a prescription of a certain number of
glasses of water at a certain spring and a certain number of baths, and a
rule for the walks he was to take before and after eating; then the
doctor patted him on the shoulder and pushed him caressingly out of his
inner office. It was too late to begin his treatment that day, but he
went with his wife to buy a cup, with a strap for hanging it over his
shoulder, and he put it on so as to be an invalid with the others at
once; he came near forgetting the small napkin of Turkish towelling which
they stuffed into their cups, but happily the shopman called him back in
time to sell it to him.
At five the next morning he rose, and on his way to the street exchanged
with the servants cleaning the hotel stairs the first of the gloomy
'Guten Morgens' which usher in the day at Carlsbad. They cannot be so
finally hopeless as they sound; they are probably expressive only of the
popular despair of getting through with them before night; but March
heard the salutations sorrowfully groaned out on every hand as he joined
the straggling current of invalids which swelled on the way past the
silent shops and cafes in the Alte Wiese, till it filled the street, and
poured its thousands upon the promenade before the classic colonnade of
the Muhlbrunn. On the other bank of the Tepl the Sprudel flings its
steaming waters by irregular impulses into the air under a pavilion of
iron and glass; but the Muhlbrunn is the source of most resort. There is
an instrumental concert somewhere in Carlsbad from early rising till
bedtime; and now at the Muhlbrunn there was an orchestra already playing;
and under the pillared porch, as well as before it, the multitude
shuffled up and down, draining their cups by slow sips, and then taking
each his place in the interminable line moving on to replenish them at
A picturesque majority of Polish Jews, whom some vice of their climate is
said peculiarly to fit for the healing effects of Carlsbad, most took his
eye in their long gabardines of rusty black and their derby hats of plush
or velvet, with their corkscrew curls coming down before their ears.
They were old and young, they were grizzled and red and black, but they
seemed all well-to-do; and what impresses one first and last at Carlsbad
is that its waters are mainly for the healing of the rich. After the
Polish Jews, the Greek priests of Russian race were the most striking
figures. There were types of Latin ecclesiastics, who were striking in
their way too; and the uniforms of certain Austrian officers and soldiers
brightened the picture. Here and there a southern face, Italian or
Spanish or Levantine, looked passionately out of the mass of dull German
visages; for at Carlsbad the Germans, more than any other gentile nation,
are to the fore. Their misfits, their absence of style, imparted the
prevalent effect; though now and then among the women a Hungarian, or
Pole, or Parisian, or American, relieved the eye which seeks beauty and
grace rather than the domestic virtues. There were certain faces, types
of discomfort and disease, which appealed from the beginning to the end.
A young Austrian, yellow as gold, and a livid South-American, were of a
lasting fascination to March.
What most troubled him, in his scrutiny of the crowd, was the difficulty
of assigning people to their respective nations, and he accused his years
of having dulled his perceptions; but perhaps it was from their long
disuse in his homogeneous American world. The Americans themselves fused
with the European races who were often so hard to make out; his fellow-
citizens would not be identified till their bad voices gave them away;
he thought the women's voices the worst.
At the springs, a line of young girls with a steady mechanical action
dipped the cups into the steaming source, and passed them impersonally up
to their owners. With the patients at the Muhlbrunn it was often a half-
hour before one's turn carne, and at all a strict etiquette forbade any
attempt to anticipate it. The water was merely warm and flat, and after
the first repulsion one could forget it. March formed a childish habit
of counting ten between the sips, and of finishing the cup with a gulp
which ended it quickly; he varied his walks between cups by going
sometimes to a bridge at the end of the colonnade where a group of
Triestines were talking Venetian, and sometimes to the little Park beyond
the Kurhaus, where some old women were sweeping up from the close sward
the yellow leaves which the trees had untidily dropped overnight. He
liked to sit there and look at the city beyond the Tepl, where it climbed
the wooded heights in terraces till it lost its houses in the skirts and
folds of the forest. Most mornings it rained, quietly, absent-mindedly,
and this, with the chili in the air, deepened a pleasant illusion of
Quebec offered by the upper town across the stream; but there were sunny
mornings when the mountains shone softly through a lustrous mist, and the
air was almost warm.
Once in his walk he found himself the companion of Burnamy's employer,
whom he had sometimes noted in the line at the Muhlbrunn, waiting his
turn, cup in hand, with a face of sullen impatience. Stoller explained
that though you could have the water brought to you at your hotel, he
chose to go to the spring for the sake of the air; it was something you
had got to live through; before he had that young Burnamy to help him he
did not know what to do with his time, but now, every minute he was not
eating or sleeping he was working; his cure did not oblige him to walk
much. He examined March, with a certain mixture of respect and contempt,
upon the nature of the literary life, and how it differed from the life
of a journalist. He asked if he thought Burnamy would amount to anything
as a literary man; he so far assented to March's faith in him as to say,
"He's smart." He told of leaving his daughters in school at Wurzburg;
and upon the whole he moved March with a sense of his pathetic loneliness
without moving his liking, as he passed lumberingly on, dangling his cup.
March gave his own cup to the little maid at his spring, and while she
gave it to a second, who dipped it and handed it to a third for its
return to him, he heard an unmistakable fellow-countryman saying good-,
morning to them all in English. "Are you going to teach them United
States?" he asked of a face with which he knew such an appeal would not
"Well," the man admitted, "I try to teach them that much. They like it.
You are an American? I am glad of it. I have 'most lost the use of my
lungs, here. I'm a great talker, and I talk to my wife till she's about
dead; then I'm out of it for the rest of the day; I can't speak German."
His manner was the free, friendly manner of the West. He must be that
sort of untravelled American whom March had so seldom met, but he was
afraid to ask him if this was his first time at Carlsbad, lest it should
prove the third or fourth. "Are you taking the cure?" he asked instead.
"Oh, no. My wife is. She'll be along directly; I come down here and
drink the waters to encourage her; doctor said to. That gets me in for
the diet, too. I've e't more cooked fruit since I been here than I ever
did in my life before. Prunes? My Lord, I'm full o' prunes! Well, it
does me good to see an American, to know him. I couldn't 'a' told you,
it you hadn't have spoken."
"Well," said March, "I shouldn't have been so sure of you, either, by
"Yes, we can't always tell ourselves from these Dutch. But they know us,
and they don't want us, except just for one thing, and that's our money.
I tell you, the Americans are the chumps over here. Soon's they got all
our money, or think they have, they say, "Here, you Americans, this is my
country; you get off; and we got to get. Ever been over before?"
"A great while ago; so long that I can hardly believe it."
"It's my first time. My name's Otterson: I'm from out in Iowa."
March gave him his name, and added that he was from New York.
"Yes. I thought you was Eastern. But that wasn't an Eastern man you was
"No; he's from Chicago. He's a Mr. Stoller."
"Not the buggy man?"
"I believe he makes buggies."
"Well, you do meet everybody here." The Iowan was silent for a moment,
as if, hushed by the weighty thought. "I wish my wife could have seen
him. I just want her to see the man that made our buggy. I don't know
what's keeping her, this morning," he added, apologetically. "Look at
that fellow, will you, tryin' to get away from those women!" A young
officer was doing his best to take leave of two ladies, who seemed to be
mother and daughter; they detained him by their united arts, and clung to
him with caressing words and looks. He was red in the face with his
polite struggles when he broke from them at last. "How they do hang on
to a man, over here!" the Iowa man continued. "And the Americans are as
bad as any. Why, there's one ratty little Englishman up at our place,
and our girls just swarm after him; their mothers are worse. Well, it's
so, Jenny," he said to the lady who had joined them and whom March turned
round to see when he spoke to her. "If I wanted a foreigner I should go
in for a man. And these officers! Put their mustaches up at night in
curl-papers, they tell me. Introduce you to Mrs. Otterson, Mr. March.
Well, had your first glass, yet, Jenny? I'm just going for my second
He took his wife back to the spring, and began to tell her about Stoller;
she made no sign of caring for him; and March felt inculpated. She
relented a little toward him as they drank together; when he said he must
be going to breakfast with his wife, she asked where he breakfasted, and
said, "Why, we go to the Posthof, too." He answered that then they
should be sure some time to meet there; he did not venture further; he
reflected that Mrs. March had her reluctances too; she distrusted people
who had amused or interested him before she met them.
Burnamy had found the Posthof for them, as he had found most of the other
agreeable things in Carlsbad, which he brought to their knowledge one by
one, with such forethought that March said he hoped he should be cared
for in his declining years as an editor rather than as a father; there
was no tenderness like a young contributor's.
Many people from the hotels on the hill found at Pupp's just the time and
space between their last cup of water and their first cup of coffee which
are prescribed at Carlsbad; but the Marches were aware somehow from the
beginning that Pupp's had not the hold upon the world at breakfast which
it had at the mid-day dinner, or at supper on the evenings when the
concert was there. Still it was amusing, and they were patient of
Burnamy's delay till he could get a morning off from Stoller and go with
them to the Posthof. He met Mrs. March in the reading-room, where March
was to join them on his way from the springs with his bag of bread. The
earlier usage of buying the delicate pink slices of Westphalia ham, which
form the chief motive of a Carlsbad breakfast, at a certain shop in the
town, and carrying them to the cafe with you, is no longer of such
binding force as the custom of getting your bread at the Swiss bakery.
You choose it yourself at the counter, which begins to be crowded by half
past seven, and when you have collected the prescribed loaves into the
basket of metallic filigree given you by one of the baker's maids, she
puts it into a tissue-paper bag of a gay red color, and you join the
other invalids streaming away from the bakery, their paper bags making a
festive rustling as they go.
Two roads lead out of the town into the lovely meadow-lands, a good mile
up the brawling Tepl, before they join on the right side of the torrent,
where the Posthof lurks nestled under trees whose boughs let the sun and
rain impartially through upon its army of little tables. By this time
the slow omnibus plying between Carlsbad and some villages in the valley
beyond has crossed from the left bank to the right, and keeps on past
half a dozen other cafes, where patients whose prescriptions marshal them
beyond the Posthof drop off by the dozens and scores.
The road on the left bank of the Tepl is wild and overhung at points with
wooded steeps, when it leaves the town; but on the right it is bordered
with shops and restaurants a great part of its length. In leafy nooks
between these, uphill walks begin their climb of the mountains, from the
foot of votive shrines set round with tablets commemorating in German,
French, Russian, Hebrew, Magyar and Czech, the cure of high-well-borns of
all those races and languages. Booths glittering with the lapidary's
work in the cheaper gems, or full of the ingenious figures of the toy-
makers, alternate with the shrines and the cafes on the way to the
Posthof, and with their shoulders against the overhanging cliff, spread
for the passing crowd a lure of Viennese jewelry in garnets, opals,
amethysts, and the like, and of such Bohemian playthings as carrot-eating
rabbits, worsted-working cats, dancing-bears, and peacocks that strut
about the feet of the passers and expand their iridescent tails in mimic
Burnamy got his charges with difficulty by the shrines in which they felt
the far-reflected charm of the crucifixes of the white-hot Italian
highways of their early travel, and by the toyshops where they had a
mechanical, out-dated impulse to get something for the children, ending
in a pang for the fact that they were children no longer. He waited
politely while Mrs. March made up her mind that she would not buy any
laces of the motherly old women who showed them under pent-roofs on way-
side tables; and he waited patiently at the gate of the flower-gardens
beyond the shops where March bought lavishly of sweetpease from the
businesslike flower-woman, and feigned a grateful joy in her because she
knew no English, and gave him a chance of speaking his German.
"You'll find," he said, as they crossed the road again, "that it's well
to trifle a good deal; it makes the time pass. I should still be lagging
along in my thirties if it hadn't been for fooling, and here I am well on
in my fifties, and Mrs. March is younger than ever."
They were at the gate of the garden and grounds of the cafe at last, and
a turn of the path brought them to the prospect of its tables, under the
trees, between the two long glazed galleries where the breakfasters take
refuge at other tables when it rains; it rains nearly always, and the
trunks of the trees are as green with damp as if painted; but that
morning the sun was shining. At the verge of the open space a group of
pretty serving-maids, each with her name on a silver band pinned upon her
breast, met them and bade them a 'Guten Morgen' of almost cheerful note,
but gave way, to an eager little smiling blonde, who came pushing down
the path at sight of Burnamy, and claimed him for her own.
"Ah, Lili! We want an extra good table, this morning. These are some
American Excellencies, and you must do your best for them."
"Oh, yes," the girl answered in English, after a radiant salutation of
the Marches; "I get you one."
"You are a little more formerly, to-day, and I didn't had one already."
She ran among the tables along the edge of the western edge of the
gallery, and was far beyond hearing his protest that he was not earlier
than usual when she beckoned him to the table she had found. She had
crowded it in between two belonging to other girls, and by the time her
breakfasters came up she was ready for their order, with the pouting
pretence that the girls always tried to rob her of the best places.
Burnamy explained proudly, when she went, that none of the other girls
ever got an advantage of her; she had more custom than any three of them,
and she had hired a man to help her carry her orders. The girls were all
from the neighboring villages, he said, and they lived at home in the
winter on their summer tips; their wages were nothing, or less, for
sometimes they paid for their places.
"What a mass of information!" said March. "How did you come by it?"
"Newspaper habit of interviewing the universe."
"It's not a bad habit, if one doesn't carry it too far. How did Lili
learn her English?"
"She takes lessons in the winter. She's a perfect little electric motor.
I don't believe any Yankee girl could equal her."
"She would expect to marry a millionaire if she did. What astonishes one
over here is to see how contentedly people prosper along on their own
level. And the women do twice the work of the men without expecting to
equal them in any other way. At Pupp's, if we go to one end of the out-
door restaurant, it takes three men to wait on us: one to bring our
coffee or tea, another to bring our bread and meat, and another to make
out our bill, and I have to tip all three of them. If we go to the other
end, one girl serves us, and I have to give only one fee; I make it less
than the least I give any three of the men waiters."
"You ought to be ashamed of that," said his wife.
"I'm not. I'm simply proud of your sex, my dear."
"Women do nearly everything, here," said Burnamy, impartially. "They
built that big new Kaiserbad building: mixed the mortar, carried the
hods, and laid the stone."
"That makes me prouder of the sex than ever. But come, Mr. Burnamy!
Isn't there anybody of polite interest that you know of in this crowd?"
"Well, I can't say," Burnamy hesitated.
The breakfasters had been thronging into the grove and the galleries; the
tables were already filled, and men were bringing other tables on their
heads, and making places for them, with entreaties for pardon everywhere;
the proprietor was anxiously directing them; the pretty serving-girls
were running to and from the kitchen in a building apart with shrill,
sweet promises of haste. The morning sun fell broken through the leaves
on the gay hats and dresses of the ladies, and dappled the figures of the
men with harlequin patches of light and shade. A tall woman, with a sort
of sharpened beauty, and an artificial permanency of tint in her cheeks
and yellow hair, came trailing herself up the sun-shot path, and found,
with hardy insistence upon the publicity, places for the surly-looking,
down-faced young man behind her, and for her maid and her black poodle;
the dog was like the black poodle out of Faust. Burnamy had heard her
history; in fact, he had already roughed out a poem on it, which he
called Europa, not after the old fable, but because it seemed to him that
she expressed Europe, on one side of its civilization, and had an
authorized place in its order, as she would not have had in ours. She
was where she was by a toleration of certain social facts which
corresponds in Europe to our reverence for the vested interests. In her
history there, had been officers and bankers; even foreign dignitaries;
now there was this sullen young fellow . . . . Burnamy had wondered
if it would do to offer his poem to March, but the presence of the
original abashed him, and in his mind he had torn the poem up, with a
heartache for its aptness.
"I don't believe," he said, "that I recognize-any celebrities here."
"I'm sorry," said March. "Mrs. March would have been glad of some
Hoheits, some Grafs and Grafins, or a few Excellenzes, or even some mere
well-borns. But we must try to get along with the picturesqueness."
"I'm satisfied with the picturesqueness," said his wife. "Don't worry
about me, Mr. Burnamy. "Why can't we have this sort of thing at home?"
"We're getting something like it in the roof-gardens," said March."
We couldn't have it naturally because the climate is against it, with us.
At this time in the morning over there, the sun would be burning the life
out of the air, and the flies would be swarming on every table. At nine
A. M. the mosquitoes would be eating us up in such a grove as this. So
we have to use artifice, and lift our Posthof above the fly-line and the
mosquito-line into the night air. I haven't seen a fly since I came to
Europe. I really miss them; it makes me homesick."
"There are plenty in Italy," his wife suggested.
"We must get down there before we go home."
"But why did nobody ever tell us that there were no flies in Germany?
Why did no traveller ever put it in his book? When your stewardess said
so on the steamer, I remember that you regarded it as a bluff." He
turned to Burnamy, who was listening with the deference of a contributor:
"Isn't Lili rather long? I mean for such a very prompt person. Oh, no!"
But Burnamy got to his feet, and shouted "Fraulein!" to Lili; with her
hireling at her heels she was flying down a distant aisle between the
tables. She called back, with a face laughing over her shoulder, "In a
minute!" and vanished in the crowd.
"Does that mean anything in particular? There's really no hurry."
"Oh, I think she'll come now," said Burnamy. March protested that he had
only been amused at Lili's delay; but his wife scolded him for his
impatience; she begged Burnamy's pardon, and repeated civilities passed
between them. She asked if he did not think some of the young ladies
were pretty beyond the European average; a very few had style; the
mothers were mostly fat, and not stylish; it was well not to regard the
fathers too closely; several old gentlemen were clearing their throats
behind their newspapers, with noises that made her quail. There was no
one so effective as the Austrian officers, who put themselves a good deal
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