The Entire March Family Trilogy
William Dean Howells
Part 17 out of 21
bicyclers?" and she laughed again.
"They're only a custom, too, Rose,", said March, tenderly. "Like the man
resting while the women worked, and the Emperor, and all the rest of it."
"Oh, yes, I know," the boy returned.
"They ride modern machines, but they live in the tenth century. That's
what we're always forgetting when we come to Europe and see these
barbarians enjoying all our up-to-date improvements."
There, doesn't that console you?" asked his mother, and she took him away
with her, laughing back from the door. "I don't believe it does,
"I don't believe she understands the child," said Mrs. March. "She is
very light, don't you think? I don't know, after all, whether it
wouldn't be a good thing for her to marry Kenby. She is very easygoing,
and she will be sure to marry somebody."
She had fallen into a tone of musing censure, and he said, "You might put
these ideas to her."
With the passage of the days and weeks, the strange faces which had
familiarized themselves at the springs disappeared; even some of those
which had become the faces of acquaintance began to go. In the
diminishing crowd the smile of Otterson was no longer to be seen; the
sad, severe visage of Major Eltwin, who seemed never to have quite got
his bearings after his error with General Triscoe, seldom showed itself.
The Triscoes themselves kept out of the Marches' way, or they fancied so;
Mrs. Adding and Rose alone remained of their daily encounter.
It was full summer, as it is everywhere in mid-August, but at Carlsbad
the sun was so late getting up over the hills that as people went to
their breakfasts at the cafes up the valley of the Tepl they found him
looking very obliquely into it at eight o'clock in the morning. The
yellow leaves were thicker about the feet of the trees, and the grass was
silvery gray with the belated dews. The breakfasters were fewer than
they had been, and there were more little barefooted boys and girls with
cups of red raspberries which they offered to the passers with cries of
"Himbeeren! Himbeeren!" plaintive as the notes of birds left songless by
the receding summer.
March was forbidden the fruit, but his wife and Mrs. Adding bought
recklessly of it, and ate it under his eyes with their coffee and bread,
pouring over it pots of clotted cream that the 'schone' Lili brought
them. Rose pretended an indifference to it, which his mother betrayed
was a sacrifice in behalf of March's inability.
Lili's delays in coming to be paid had been such that the Marches now
tried to pay her when she brought their breakfast, but they sometimes
forgot, and then they caught her whenever she came near them. In this
event she liked to coquet with their impatience; she would lean against
their table, and say: "Oh, no. You stay a little. It is so nice." One
day after such an entreaty, she said, "The queen is here, this morning."
Mrs. March started, in the hope of highhotes. "The queen!"
"Yes; the young lady. Mr. Burnamy was saying she was a queen. She is
there with her father." She nodded in the direction of a distant corner,
and the Marches knew that she meant Miss Triscoe and the general. "She
is not seeming so gayly as she was being."
March smiled. "We are none of us so gayly as we were being, Lili. The
summer is going."
"But Mr. Burnamy will be returning, not true?" the girl asked, resting
her tray on the corner of the table.
"No, I'm afraid he won't," March returned sadly.
"He was very good. He was paying the proprietor for the dishes that
Augusta did break when she was falling down. He was paying before he
went away, when he was knowing that the proprietor would make Augusta to
"Ah!" said March, and his wife said, "That was like him!" and she
eagerly explained to Mrs. Adding how good and great Burnamy had been in
this characteristic instance, while Lili waited with the tray to add some
pathetic facts about Augusta's poverty and gratitude. "I think Miss
Triscoe ought to know it. There goes the wretch, now!" she broke off.
"Don't look at him!" She set her husband the example of averting his
face from the sight of Stoller sullenly pacing up the middle aisle of the
grove, and looking to the right and left for a vacant table. "Ugh! I
hope he won't be able to find a single place."
Mrs. Adding gave one of her pealing laughs, while Rose watched March's
face with grave sympathy. "He certainly doesn't deserve one. Don't let
us keep you from offering Miss Triscoe any consolation you can." They
got up, and the boy gathered up the gloves, umbrella, and handkerchief
which the ladies let drop from their laps.
"Have you been telling?" March asked his wife.
"Have I told you anything?" she demanded of Mrs. Adding in turn.
"Anything that you didn't as good as know, already?"
"Not a syllable!" Mrs. Adding replied in high delight. "Come, Rose!"
"Well, I suppose there's no use saying anything," said March, after she
"She had guessed everything, without my telling her," said his wife.
"Well-no. I did tell her that part, but that was nothing. It was about
Burnamy and Agatha that she knew. She saw it from the first."
"I should have thought she would have enough to do to look after poor old
"I'm not sure, after all, that she cares for him. If she doesn't, she
oughtn't to let him write to her. Aren't you going over to speak to the
"No, certainly not. I'm going back to the hotel. There ought to be some
steamer letters this morning. Here we are, worrying about these
strangers all the time, and we never give a thought to our own children
on the other side of the ocean."
"I worry about them, too," said the mother, fondly. "Though there is
nothing to worry about," she added.
"It's our duty to worry," he insisted.
At the hotel the portier gave them four letters. There was one from each
of their children: one very buoyant, not to say boisterous, from the
daughter, celebrating her happiness in her husband, and the loveliness of
Chicago as a summer city ("You would think she was born out there!"
sighed her mother); and one from the son, boasting his well-being in
spite of the heat they were having ("And just think how cool it is here!"
his mother upbraided herself), and the prosperity of 'Every Other Week'.
There was a line from Fulkerson, praising the boy's editorial instinct,
and ironically proposing March's resignation in his favor.
"I do believe we could stay all winter, just as well as not," said Mrs.
March, proudly. "What does 'Burnamy say?"
"How do you know it's from him?"
"Because you've been keeping your hand on it! Give it here."
"When I've read it."
The letter was dated at Ansbach, in Germany, and dealt, except for some
messages of affection to Mrs. March, with a scheme for a paper which
Burnamy wished to write on Kaspar Hauser, if March thought he could use
it in 'Every Other Week'. He had come upon a book about that hapless
foundling in Nuremberg, and after looking up all his traces there he had
gone on to Ansbach, where Kaspar Hauser met his death so pathetically.
Burnamy said he could not give any notion of the enchantment of
Nuremberg; but he besought March, if he was going to the Tyrol for his
after-cure, not to fail staying a day or so in the wonderful place. He
thought March would enjoy Ansbach too, in its way.
"And, not a word--not a syllable--about Miss Triscoe!" cried Mrs. March.
"Shall you take his paper?"
"It would be serving him right, if I refused it, wouldn't it?"
They never knew what it cost Burnamy to keep her name out of his letter,
or by what an effort of the will he forbade himself even to tell of his
parting interview with Stoller. He had recovered from his remorse for
letting Stoller give himself away; he was still sorry for that, but he no
longer suffered; yet he had not reached the psychological moment when he
could celebrate his final virtue in the matter. He was glad he had been
able to hold out against the temptation to retrieve himself by another
wrong; but he was humbly glad, and he felt that until happier chance
brought him and his friends together he must leave them to their merciful
conjectures. He was young, and he took the chance, with an aching heart.
If he had been older, he might not have taken it.
The birthday of the Emperor comes conveniently, in late August, in the
good weather which is pretty sure to fall then, if ever in the Austrian
summer. For a week past, at Carlsbad, the workmen had been building a
scaffolding for the illumination in the woods on a height overlooking the
town, and making unobtrusive preparations at points within it.
The day was important as the last of March's cure, and its pleasures
began for him by a renewal of his acquaintance in its first kindliness
with the Eltwins. He had met them so seldom that at one time he thought
they must have gone away, but now after his first cup he saw the quiet,
sad old pair, sitting together on a bench in the Stadt Park, and he asked
leave to sit down with them till it was time for the next. Eltwin said
that this was their last day, too; and explained that his wife always
came with him to the springs, while he took the waters.
"Well," he apologized, "we're all that's left, and I suppose we like to
keep together." He paused, and at the look in March's face he suddenly
went on. "I haven't been well for three or four years; but I always
fought against coming out here, when the doctors wanted me to. I said I
couldn't leave home; and, I don't suppose I ever should. But my home
As he spoke his wife shrank tenderly near him, and March saw her steal
her withered hand into his.
"We'd had a large family, but they'd all died off, with one thing or
another, and here in the spring we lost our last daughter. Seemed
perfectly well, and all at once she died; heart-failure, they called it.
It broke me up, and mother, here, got at me to go. And so we're here."
His voice trembled; and his eyes softened; then they flashed up, and
March heard him add, in a tone that astonished him less when he looked
round and saw General Triscoe advancing toward them, "I don't know what
it is always makes me want to kick that man."
The general lifted his hat to their group, and hoped that Mrs. Eltwin was
well, and Major Eltwin better. He did not notice their replies, but said
to March, "The ladies are waiting for you in Pupp's readingroom, to go
with them to the Posthof for breakfast."
"Aren't you going, too?" asked March.
"No, thank you," said the general, as if it were much finer not;
"I shall breakfast at our pension." He strolled off with the air of a
man who has done more than his duty.
"I don't suppose I ought to feel that way," said Eltwin, with a remorse
which March suspected a reproachful pressure of his wife's hand had
prompted in him. "I reckon he means well."
"Well, I don't know," March said, with a candor he could not wholly
On his way to the hotel he fancied mocking his wife for her interest in
the romantic woes of her lovers, in a world where there was such real
pathos as these poor old people's; but in the company of Miss Triscoe he
could not give himself this pleasure. He tried to amuse her on the way
from Pupp's, with the doubt he always felt in passing the Cafe Sans-
Souci, whether he should live to reach the Posthof where he meant to
breakfast. She said, "Poor Mr. March!" and laughed inattentively; when
he went on to philosophize the commonness of the sparse company always
observable at the Sans-Souci as a just effect of its Laodicean situation
between Pupp's and the Posthof, the girl sighed absently, and his wife
frowned at him.
The flower-woman at the gate of her garden had now only autumnal blooms
for sale in the vases which flanked the entrance; the windrows of the
rowen, left steeping in the dews overnight, exhaled a faint fragrance; a
poor remnant of the midsummer multitudes trailed itself along to the
various cafes of the valley, its pink paper bags of bread rustling like
sere foliage as it moved.
At the Posthof the 'schone' Lili alone was as gay, as in the prime of
July. She played archly about the guests she welcomed to a table in a
sunny spot in the gallery. "You are tired of Carlsbad?" she said
caressingly to Miss Triscoe, as she put her breakfast before her.
"Not of the Posthof," said the girl, listlessly.
"Posthof, and very little Lili?" She showed, with one forefinger on
another, how very little she was.
Miss Triscoe laughed, not cheerily, and Lili said to Mrs. March, with
abrupt seriousness, "Augusta was finding a handkerchief under the table,
and she was washing it and ironing it before she did bring it. I have
scolded her, and I have made her give it to me."
She took from under her apron a man's handkerchief, which she offered to
Mrs. March. It bore, as she saw Miss Triscoe saw, the initials L. J. B.
But, "Whose can it be?" they asked each other.
"Why, Burnamy's," said March; and Lili's eyes danced. "Give it here!"
His wife caught it farther away. "No, I'm going to see whose it is,
first; if it's his, I'll send it to him myself."
She tried to put it into the pocket which was not in her dress by sliding
it down her lap; then she handed it to the girl, who took it with a
careless air, but kept it after a like failure to pocket it.
Mrs. March had come out in her India-rubber sandals, but for once in
Carlsbad the weather was too dry for them, and she had taken them off and
was holding them in her lap. They fell to the ground when she now rose
from breakfast, and she stooped to pick them up. Miss Triscoe was too
quick for her.
"Oh, let me carry them for you!" she entreated, and after a tender
struggle she succeed in enslaving herself to them, and went away wearing
them through the heel-bands like manacles on her wrist. She was not the
kind of girl to offer such pretty devotions, and Mrs. March was not the
kind of woman to suffer them; but they played the comedy through, and let
March go off for his last hill-climb with the promise to meet him in the
Stadt Park when he came to the Kurhaus for his last mineral bath.
Mrs. March in the mean time went about some final shopping, and invited
the girl's advice with a fondness which did not prevent her rejecting it
in every case, with Miss Triscoe's eager approval. In the Stadt Park
they sat down and talked; from time to time Mrs. March made polite feints
of recovering her sandals, but the girl kept them with increased
When they rose, and strolled away from the bench where they had been
sitting, they seemed to be followed. They looked round and saw no one
more alarming than a very severe-looking old gentleman, whose hat brim in
spite of his severity was limp with much lifting, as all Austrian hat
brims are. He touched it, and saying haughtily in German, "Something
left lying," passed on.
They stared at each other; then, as women do, they glanced down at their
skirts to see if there was anything amiss with them, and Miss Triscoe
perceived her hands empty of Mrs. March's sandals and of Burnamy's
"Oh, I put it in one of the toes!" she lamented, and she fled back to
their bench, alarming in her course the fears of a gendarme for the
public security, and putting a baby in its nurse's arms into such doubts
of its personal safety that it burst into a desolate cry. She laughed
breathlessly as she rejoined Mrs. March. "That comes of having no
pocket; I didn't suppose I could forget your sandals, Mrs. March! Wasn't
"It's one of those things," Mrs. March said to her husband afterwards,
"that they can always laugh over together."
"They? And what about Burnamy's behavior to Stoller?"
"Oh, I don't call that anything but what will come right. Of course he
can make it up to him somehow. And I regard his refusal to do wrong when
Stoller wanted him to as quite wiping out the first offence."
"Well, my dear, you have burnt your ships behind you. My only hope is
that when we leave here tomorrow, her pessimistic papa's poison will
neutralize yours somehow."
One of the pleasantest incidents of March's sojourn in Carlsbad was his
introduction to the manager of the municipal theatre by a common friend
who explained the editor in such terms to the manager that he conceived
of him as a brother artist. This led to much bowing and smiling from the
manager when the Marches met him in the street, or in their frequent
visits to the theatre, with which March felt that it might well have
ended, and still been far beyond his desert. He had not thought of going
to the opera on the Emperor's birthnight, but after dinner a box came
from the manager, and Mrs. March agreed with him that they could not in
decency accept so great a favor. At the same time she argued that they
could not in decency refuse it, and that to show their sense of the
pleasure done them, they must adorn their box with all the beauty and
distinction possible; in other words, she said they must ask Miss Triscoe
and her father.
"And why not Major Eltwin and his wife? Or Mrs. Adding and Rose?"
She begged him, simply in his own interest, not to be foolish; and they
went early, so as to be in their box when their guests came. The foyer
of the theatre was banked with flowers, and against a curtain of
evergreens stood a high-pedestalled bust of the paternal Caesar, with
whose side-whiskers a laurel crown comported itself as well as it could.
At the foot of the grand staircase leading to the boxes the manager stood
in evening dress, receiving his friends and their felicitations upon the
honor which the theatre was sure to do itself on an occasion so august.
The Marches were so cordial in their prophecies that the manager yielded
to an artist's impulse and begged his fellow-artist to do him the
pleasure of coming behind the scenes between the acts of the opera; he
bowed a heart-felt regret to Mrs. March that he could not make the
invitation include her, and hoped that she would not be too lonely while
her husband was gone.
She explained that they had asked friends, and she should not be alone,
and then he entreated March to bring any gentleman who was his guest with
him. On the way up to their box, she pressed his arm as she used in
their young married days, and asked him if it was not perfect. "I wish
we were going to have it all to ourselves; no one else can appreciate the
whole situation. Do you think we have made a mistake in having the
"We!" be retorted. "Oh, that's good! I'm going to shirk him, when it
comes to going behind the scenes."
"No, no, dearest," she entreated. "Snubbing will only make it worse. We
must stand it to the bitter end, now."
The curtain rose upon another laurelled bust of the Emperor, with a
chorus of men formed on either side, who broke into the grave and noble
strains of the Austrian Hymn, while every one stood. Then the curtain
fell again, and in the interval before the opera could begin, General
Triscoe and his daughter came in.
Mrs. March took the splendor in which the girl appeared as a tribute to
her hospitality. She had hitherto been a little disappointed of the open
homage to American girlhood which her readings of international romance
had taught her to expect in Europe, but now her patriotic vanity feasted
full. Fat highhotes of her own sex levelled their lorgnettes at Miss
Triscoe all around the horseshoe, with critical glances which fell
blunted from her complexion and costume; the house was brilliant with the
military uniforms, which we have not yet to mingle with our unrivalled
millinery, and the ardent gaze of the young officers dwelt on the perfect
mould of her girlish arms and neck, and the winning lines of her face.
The girl's eyes shone with a joyful excitement, and her little head,
defined by its dark hair, trembled as she slowly turned it from side to
side, after she removed the airy scarf which had covered it. Her father,
in evening dress, looked the Third Emperor complaisant to a civil
occasion, and took a chair in the front of the box without resistance;
and the ladies disputed which should yield the best place to the other,
till Miss Triscoe forced Mrs. March fondly into it for the first act at
The piece had to be cut a good deal to give people time for the
illuminations afterwards; but as it was it gave scope to the actress who,
'als Gast' from a Viennese theatre, was the chief figure in it. She
merited the distinction by the art which still lingered, deeply embedded
in her massive balk, but never wholly obscured.
"That is grand, isn't it?" said March, following one of the tremendous
strokes by which she overcame her physical disadvantages. "It's fine to
see how her art can undo, for one splendid instant, the work of all those
steins of beer, those illimitable licks of sausage, those boundless
fields of cabbage. But it's rather pathetic."
"It's disgusting," said his wife; and at this General Triscoe, who had
been watching the actress through his lorgnette, said, as if his
contrary-mindedness were irresistibly invoked:
"Well, I don't know. It's amusing. Do you suppose we shall see her when
we go behind, March?"
He still professed a desire to do so when the curtain fell, and they
hurried to the rear door of the theatre. It was slightly ajar, and they
pulled it wide open, with the eagerness of their age and nation, and
began to mount the stairs leading up from it between rows of painted
dancing-girls, who had come out for a breath of air, and who pressed
themselves against the walls to make room for the intruders. With their
rouged faces, and the stare of their glassy eyes intensified by the
coloring of their brows and lashes, they were like painted statues, as
they stood there with their crimsoned lips parted in astonished smiles.
"This is rather weird," said March, faltering at the sight. "I wonder if
we might ask these young ladies where to go?" General Triscoe made no
answer, and was apparently no more prepared than himself to accost the
files of danseuses, when they were themselves accosted by an angry voice
from the head of the stairs with a demand for their business. The voice
belonged to a gendarme, who descended toward them and seemed as deeply
scandalized at their appearance as they could have been at that of the
March explained, in his ineffective German, with every effect of
improbability, that they were there by appointment of the manager, and
wished to find his room.
The gendarme would not or could not make anything out of it. He pressed
down upon them, and laying a rude hand on a shoulder of either, began to
force them back to the door. The mild nature of the editor might have
yielded to his violence, but the martial spirit of General Triscoe was
roused. He shrugged the gendarme's hand from his shoulder, and with a
voice as furious as his own required him, in English, to say what the
devil he meant. The gendarme rejoined with equal heat in German; the
general's tone rose in anger; the dancing-girls emitted some little
shrieks of alarm, and fled noisily up the stairs. From time to time
March interposed with a word of the German which had mostly deserted him
in his hour of need; but if it had been a flow of intelligible
expostulation, it would have had no effect upon the disputants. They
grew more outrageous, till the manager himself, appeared at the head of
the stairs, and extended an arresting hand over the hubbub. As soon as
the situation clarified itself he hurried down to his visitors with a
polite roar of apology and rescued them from the gendarme, and led them
up to his room and forced them into arm-chairs with a rapidity of
reparation which did not exhaust itself till he had entreated them with
every circumstance of civility to excuse an incident so mortifying to
him. But with all his haste he lost so much time in this that he had
little left to show them through the theatre, and their presentation to
the prima donna was reduced to the obeisances with which they met and
parted as she went upon the stage at the lifting of the curtain. In the
lack of a common language this was perhaps as well as a longer interview;
and nothing could have been more honorable than their dismissal at the
hands of the gendarme who had received them so stormily. He opened the
door for them, and stood with his fingers to his cap saluting, in the
effect of being a whole file of grenadiers.
At the same moment Burnamy bowed himself out of the box where he had been
sitting with the ladies during the absence of the gentlemen. He had
knocked at the door almost as soon as they disappeared, and if he did not
fully share the consternation which his presence caused, he looked so
frightened that Mrs. March reserved the censure which the sight of him
inspired, and in default of other inspiration treated his coming simply
as a surprise. She shook hands with him, and then she asked him to sit
down, and listened to his explanation that he had come back to Carlsbad
to write up the birthnight festivities, on an order from the Paris-New
York Chronicle; that he had seen them in the box and had ventured to took
in. He was pale, and so discomposed that the heart of justice was
softened more and more in Mrs. March's breast, and she left him to the
talk that sprang up, by an admirable effect of tact in the young lady,
between him and Miss Triscoe.
After all, she decided, there was nothing criminal in his being in
Carlsbad, and possibly in the last analysis there was nothing so very
wicked in his being in her box. One might say that it was not very nice
of him after he had gone away under such a cloud; but on the other hand
it was nice, though in a different way, if he longed so much to see Miss
Triscoe that he could not help coming. It was altogether in his favor
that he was so agitated, though he was momently becoming less agitated;
the young people were beginning to laugh at the notion of Mr. March and
General Triscoe going behind the scenes. Burnamy said he envied them the
chance; and added, not very relevantly, that he had come from Baireuth,
where he had seen the last of the Wagner performances. He said he was
going back to Baireuth, but not to Ansbach again, where he had finished
looking up that Kaspar Hauser business. He seemed to think Mrs. March
would know about it, and she could not help saying; Oh, yes, Mr. March
was so much interested. She wondered if she ought to tell him about his
handkerchief; but she remembered in time that she had left it in Miss
Triscoe's keeping. She wondered if the girl realized how handsome he
was. He was extremely handsome, in his black evening dress, with his
Tuxedo, and the pallor of his face repeated in his expanse of shirt
At the bell for the rising of the curtain he rose too, and took their
offered hands. In offering hers Mrs. March asked if he would not stay
and speak with Mr. March and the general; and now for the first time he
recognized anything clandestine in his visit. He laughed nervously, and
said, "No, thank you!" and shut himself out.
"We must tell them," said Mrs. March, rather interrogatively, and she was
glad that the girl answered with a note of indignation.
"Why, certainly, Mrs. March."
They could not tell them at once, for the second act had begun when March
and the general came back; and after the opera was over and they got out
into the crowded street there was no chance, for the general was obliged
to offer his arm to Mrs. March, while her husband followed with his
The facades of the theatre and of the hotels were outlined with thickly
set little lamps, which beaded the arches of the bridges spanning the
Tepl, and lighted the casements and portals of the shops. High above
all, against the curtain of black woodland on the mountain where its
skeleton had been growing for days, glittered the colossal effigy of the
doubleheaded eagle of Austria, crowned with the tiara of the Holy Roman
Empire; in the reflected splendor of its myriad lamps the pale Christ
looked down from the mountain opposite upon the surging multitudes in the
streets and on the bridges.
They were most amiable multitudes, March thought, and they responded
docilely to the entreaties of the policemen who stood on the steps of the
bridges, and divided their encountering currents with patient appeals of
"Bitte schon! Bitte schon!" He laughed to think of a New York cop
saying "Please prettily! Please prettily!" to a New York crowd which he
wished to have go this way or that, and then he burned with shame to
think how far our manners were from civilization, wherever our heads and
hearts might be, when he heard a voice at his elbow:
"A punch with a club would start some of these fellows along quicker."
It was Stoller, and March turned from him to lose his disgust in the
sudden terror of perceiving that Miss Triscoe was no longer at his side.
Neither could he see his wife and General Triscoe, and he began to push
frantically about in the crowd looking for the girl. He had an
interminable five or ten minutes in his vain search, and he was going to
call out to her by name, when Burnamy saved him from the hopeless
absurdity by elbowing his way to him with Miss. Triscoe on his arm.
"Here she is, Mr. March," he said, as if there were nothing strange in
his having been there to find her; in fact he had followed them all from
the theatre, and at the moment he saw the party separated, and Miss
Triscoe carried off helpless in the human stream, had plunged in and
rescued her. Before March could formulate any question in his
bewilderment, Burnamy was gone again; the girl offered no explanation for
him, and March had not yet decided to ask any when he caught sight of his
wife and General Triscoe standing tiptoe in a doorway and craning their
necks upward and forward to scan the crowd in search of him and his
charge. Then he looked round at her and opened his lips to express the
astonishment that filled him, when be was aware of an ominous shining of
her eyes and trembling of her hand on his arm.
She pressed his arm nervously, and he understood her to beg him to
forbear at once all question of her and all comment on Burnamy's presence
to her father.
It would not have been just the time for either. Not only Mrs. March was
with the general, but Mrs. Adding also; she had called to them from that
place, where she was safe with Rose when she saw them eddying about in
the crowd. The general was still, expressing a gratitude which became
more pressing the more it was disclaimed; he said casually at sight of
his daughter, "Ah; you've found us, have you?" and went on talking to
Mrs. Adding, who nodded to them laughingly, and asked, "Did you see me
"Look here, my dear!" March said to his wife as soon as they parted from
the rest, the general gallantly promising that his daughter and he would
see Mrs. Adding safe to her hotel, and were making their way slowly home
alone. "Did you know that Burnamy was in Carlsbad?"
"He's going away on the twelve-o'clock train tonight," she answered,
"What has that got to do with it? Where did you see him?"
"In the box, while you were behind the scenes."
She told him all about it, and he listened in silent endeavor for the
ground of censure from which a sense of his own guilt forced him. She
asked suddenly, "Where did you see him?" and he told her in turn.
He added severely, "Her father ought to know. Why didn't you tell him?"
"Why didn't you?" she retorted with great reason.
"Because I didn't think he was just in the humor for it." He began to
laugh as he sketched their encounter with the gendarme, but she did not
seem to think it amusing; and he became serious again. "Besides, I was
afraid she was going to blubber, any way."
"She wouldn't have blubbered, as you call it. I don't know why you need
be so disgusting! It would have given her just the moral support she
needed. Now she will have to tell him herself, and he will blame us.
You ought to have spoken; you could have done it easily and naturally
when you came up with her. You will have yourself to thank for all the
trouble that comes of it, now, my dear."
He shouted in admiration of her skill in shifting the blame on him.
"All right! I should have had to stand it, even if you hadn't behaved
with angelic wisdom."
"Why," she said, after reflection, "I don't see what either of us has
done. We didn't get Burnamy to come here, or connive at his presence in
"Oh! Make Triscoe believe that! He knows you've done all you could to
help the affair on."
"Well, what if I have? He began making up to Mrs. Adding himself as soon
as he saw her, to-night. She looked very pretty."
"Well, thank Heaven! we're off to-morrow morning, and I hope we've seen
the last of them. They've done what they could to spoil my cure, but I'm
not going to have them spoil my aftercure."
Mrs. March had decided not to go to the Posthof for breakfast, where they
had already taken a lavish leave of the 'schone' Lili, with a sense of
being promptly superseded in her affections. They found a place in the
red-table-cloth end of the pavilion at Pupp's, and were served by the
pretty girl with the rose-bud mouth whom they had known only as Ein-und-
Zwanzig, and whose promise of "Komm' gleich, bitte schon!" was like a
bird's note. Never had the coffee been so good, the bread so aerially
light, the Westphalian ham so tenderly pink. A young married couple whom
they knew came by, arm in arm, in their morning walk, and sat down with
them, like their own youth, for a moment.
"If you had told them we were going, dear," said Mrs. March, when the
couple were themselves gone, "we should have been as old as ever. Don't
let us tell anybody, this morning, that we're going. I couldn't bear
They had been obliged to take the secretary of the hotel into their
confidence, in the process of paying their bill. He put on his high hat
and came out to see them off. The portier was already there, standing at
the step of the lordly two-spanner which they had ordered for the long
drive to the station. The Swiss elevator-man came to the door to offer
them a fellow-republican's good wishes for their journey; Herr Pupp
himself appeared at the last moment to hope for their return another
summer. Mrs. March bent a last look of interest upon the proprietor as
their two-spanner whirled away.
"They say that he is going to be made a count."
"Well, I don't object," said March. "A man who can feed fourteen
thousand people, mostly Germans, in a day, ought to be made an archduke."
At the station something happened which touched them even more than these
last attentions of the hotel. They were in their compartment, and were
in the act of possessing themselves of the best places by putting their
bundles and bags on them, when they heard Mrs. March's name called.
They turned and saw Rose Adding at the door, his thin face flushed with
excitement and his eyes glowing. "I was afraid I shouldn't get here in
time," he panted, and he held up to her a huge bunch of flowers.
"Why Rose! From your mother?"
"From me," he said, timidly, and he was slipping out into the corridor,
when she caught him and his flowers to her in one embrace. "I want to
kiss you," she said; and presently, when he had waved his hand to them
from the platform outside, and the train had started, she fumbled for her
handkerchief. "I suppose you call it blubbering; but he is the sweetest
"He's about the only one of our Carlsbad compatriots that I'm sorry to
leave behind," March assented. "He's the only unmarried one that wasn't
in danger of turning up a lover on my hands; if there had been some
rather old girl, or some rather light matron in our acquaintance, I'm not
sure that I should have been safe even from Rose. Carlsbad has been an
interruption to our silver wedding journey, my dear; but I hope now that
it will begin again."
"Yes," said his wife, "now we can have each other all to ourselves."
"Yes. It's been very different from our first wedding journey in that.
It isn't that we're not so young now as we were, but that we don't seem
so much our own property. We used to be the sole proprietors, and now we
seem to be mere tenants at will, and any interloping lover may come in
and set our dearest interests on the sidewalk. The disadvantage of
living along is that we get too much into the hands of other people."
"Yes, it is. I shall be glad to be rid of them all, too."
"I don't know that the drawback is serious enough to make us wish we had
died young--or younger," he suggested.
"No, I don't know that it is," she assented. She added, from an absence
where he was sufficiently able to locate her meaning, "I hope she'll
write and tell me what her father says and does when she tells him that
he was there."
There were many things, in the weather, the landscape, their sole
occupancy of an unsmoking compartment, while all the smoking compartments
round overflowed with smokers, which conspired to offer them a pleasing
illusion of the past; it was sometimes so perfect that they almost held
each other's hands. In later life there are such moments when the
youthful emotions come back, as certain birds do in winter, and the
elderly heart chirps and twitters to itself as if it were young. But it
is best to discourage this fondness; and Mrs. March joined her husband in
mocking it, when he made her observe how fit it was that their silver
wedding journey should be resumed as part of his after-cure. If he had
found the fountain of youth in the warm, flat, faintly nauseous water of
the Felsenquelle, he was not going to call himself twenty-eight again
till his second month of the Carlsbad regimen was out, and he had got
back to salad and fruit.
At Eger they had a memorable dinner, with so much leisure for it that
they could form a life-long friendship for the old English-speaking
waiter who served them, and would not suffer them to hurry themselves.
The hills had already fallen away, and they ran along through a cheerful
country, with tracts of forest under white clouds blowing about in a blue
sky, and gayly flinging their shadows down upon the brown ploughed land,
and upon the yellow oat-fields, where women were cutting the leisurely
harvest with sickles, and where once a great girl with swarthy bare arms
unbent herself from her toil, and rose, a statue of rude vigor and
beauty, to watch them go by. Hedges of evergreen enclosed the yellow
oat-fields, where slow wagons paused to gather the sheaves of the week
before, and then loitered away with them. Flocks of geese waddled in
sculpturesque relief against the close-cropt pastures, herded by little
girls with flaxen pigtails, whose eyes, blue as corn-flowers, followed
the flying train. There were stretches of wild thyme purpling long
barren acreages, and growing up the railroad banks almost to the rails
themselves. From the meadows the rowen, tossed in long loose windrows,
sent into their car a sad autumnal fragrance which mingled with the
tobacco smoke, when two fat smokers emerged into the narrow corridor
outside their compartments and tried to pass each other. Their vast
stomachs beat together in a vain encounter.
"Zu enge!" said one, and "Ja, zu enge!" said the other, and they laughed
innocently in each other's' faces, with a joy in their recognition of the
corridor's narrowness as great as if it had been a stroke of the finest
All the way the land was lovely, and as they drew near Nuremberg it grew
enchanting, with a fairy quaintness. The scenery was Alpine, but the
scale was toy-like, as befitted the region, and the mimic peaks and
valleys with green brooks gushing between them, and strange rock forms
recurring in endless caprice, seemed the home of children's story. All
the gnomes and elves might have dwelt there in peaceful fellowship with
the peasants who ploughed the little fields, and gathered the garlanded
hops, and lived in the farmsteads and village houses with those high
"We ought to have come here long ago with the children, when they were
children," said March.
"No," his wife returned; "it would have been too much for them. Nobody
but grown people could bear it."
The spell which began here was not really broken by anything that
afterwards happened in Nuremberg, though the old toy-capital was trolley-
wired through all its quaintness, and they were lodged in a hotel lighted
by electricity and heated by steam, and equipped with an elevator which
was so modern that it came down with them as well as went up. All the
things that assumed to be of recent structure or invention were as
nothing against the dense past, which overwhelmed them with the sense of
a world elsewhere outlived. In Nuremberg it is not the quaint or the
picturesque that is exceptional; it is the matter-of-fact and the
commonplace. Here, more than anywhere else, you are steeped in the
gothic spirit which expresses itself in a Teutonic dialect of homely
sweetness, of endearing caprice, of rude grotesqueness, but of positive
grace and beauty almost never. It is the architectural speech of a
strenuous, gross, kindly, honest people's fancy; such as it is it was
inexhaustible, and such as it is it was bewitching for the travellers.
They could hardly wait till they had supper before plunging into the
ancient town, and they took the first tram-car at a venture. It was a
sort of transfer, drawn by horses, which delivered them a little inside.
of the city gate to a trolley-car. The conductor with their fare
demanded their destination; March frankly owned that they did not know
where they wanted to go; they wanted to go anywhere the conductor chose;
and the conductor, after reflection, decided to put them down at the
public garden, which, as one of the newest things in the city, would make
the most favorable impression upon strangers. It was in fact so like all
other city gardens, with the foliage of its trimly planted alleys, that
it sheltered them effectually from the picturesqueness of Nuremberg, and
they had a long, peaceful hour on one of its benches, where they rested
from their journey, and repented their hasty attempt to appropriate the
charm of the city.
The next morning it rained, according to a custom which the elevator-boy
(flown with the insolent recollection of a sunny summer in Milan) said
was invariable in Nuremberg; but after the one-o'clock table d'hote they
took a noble two-spanner carriage, and drove all round the city.
Everywhere the ancient moat, thickly turfed and planted with trees and
shrubs, stretched a girdle of garden between their course and the wall
beautifully old, with knots of dead ivy clinging to its crevices, or
broad meshes of the shining foliage mantling its blackened masonry. A
tile-roofed open gallery ran along the top, where so many centuries of
sentries had paced, and arched the massive gates with heavily moulded
piers, where so countlessly the fierce burgher troops had sallied forth
against their besiegers, and so often the leaguer hosts had dashed
themselves in assault. The blood shed in forgotten battles would have
flooded the moat where now the grass and flowers grew, or here and there
a peaceful stretch of water stagnated.
The drive ended in a visit to the old Burg, where the Hapsburg Kaisers
dwelt when they visited their faithful imperial city. From its ramparts
the incredible picturesqueness of Nuremberg best shows itself, and if one
has any love for the distinctive quality of Teutonic architecture it is
here that more than anywhere else one may feast it. The prospect of
tower and spire and gable is of such a mediaeval richness, of such an
abounding fulness, that all incidents are lost in it. The multitudinous
roofs of red-brown tiles, blinking browsily from their low dormers, press
upon one another in endless succession; they cluster together on a rise
of ground and sink away where the street falls, but they nowhere disperse
or scatter, and they end abruptly at the other rim of the city, beyond
which looms the green country, merging in the remoter blue of misty
A pretty young girl waited at the door of the tower for the visitors to
gather in sufficient number, and then led them through the terrible
museum, discanting in the same gay voice and with the same smiling air on
all the murderous engines and implements of torture. First in German and
then in English she explained the fearful uses of the Iron Maiden, she
winningly illustrated the action of the racks and wheels on which men had
been stretched and broken, and she sweetly vaunted a sword which had
beheaded eight hundred persons. When she took the established fee from
March she suggested, with a demure glance, "And what more you please for
saying it in English."
"Can you say it in Russian?" demanded a young man, whose eyes he had seen
dwelling on her from the beginning. She laughed archly, and responded
with some Slavic words, and then delivered her train of sight-seers over
to the custodian who was to show them through the halls and chambers of
the Burg. These were undergoing the repairs which the monuments of the
past are perpetually suffering in the present, and there was some special
painting and varnishing for the reception of the Kaiser, who was coming
to Nuremberg for the military manoeuvres then at hand. But if they had
been in the unmolested discomfort of their unlivable magnificence, their
splendor was such as might well reconcile the witness to the superior
comfort of a private station in our snugger day. The Marches came out
owning that the youth which might once have found the romantic glories of
the place enough was gone from them. But so much of it was left to her
that she wished to make him stop and look at the flirtation which had
blossomed out between that pretty young girl and the Russian, whom they
had scarcely missed from their party in the Burg. He had apparently never
parted from the girl, and now as they sat together on the threshold of
the gloomy tower, he most have been teaching her more Slavic words, for
they were both laughing as if they understood each other perfectly.
In his security from having the affair in any wise on his hands, March
would have willingly lingered, to see how her education got on; but it
began to rain, The rain did not disturb the lovers, but it obliged the
elderly spectators to take refuge in their carriage; and they drove off
to find the famous Little Goose Man. This is what every one does at
Nuremberg; it would be difficult to say why. When they found the Little
Goose Man, he was only a mediaeval fancy in bronze, who stood on his
pedestal in the market-place and contributed from the bill of the goose
under his arm a small stream to the rainfall drenching the wet wares of
the wet market-women round the fountain, and soaking their cauliflowers
and lettuce, their grapes and pears, their carrots and turnips, to the
watery flavor of all fruits and vegetables in Germany.
The air was very raw and chill; but after supper the clouds cleared away,
and a pleasant evening tempted the travellers out. The portier
dissembled any slight which their eagerness for the only amusement he
could think of inspired, and directed them to a popular theatre which was
giving a summer season at low prices to the lower classes, and which they
surprised, after some search, trying to hide itself in a sort of back
square. They got the best places at a price which ought to have been
mortifyingly cheap, and found themselves, with a thousand other harmless
bourgeois folk, in a sort of spacious, agreeable barn, of a decoration by
no means ugly, and of a certain artless comfort. Each seat fronted a
shelf at the back of the seat before it, where the spectator could put
his hat; there was a smaller shelf for his stein of the beer passed
constantly throughout the evening; and there was a buffet where he could
stay himself with cold ham and other robust German refreshments.
It was "The Wedding Journey to Nuremberg" upon which they had oddly
chanced, and they accepted as a national tribute the character of an
American girl in it. She was an American girl of the advanced pattern,
and she came and went at a picnic on the arm of a head waiter. She
seemed to have no office in the drama except to illustrate a German
conception of American girlhood, but even in this simple function she
seemed rather to puzzle the German audience; perhaps because of the
occasional English words which she used.
To the astonishment of her compatriots, when they came out of the theatre
it was not raining; the night was as brilliantly starlit as a night could
be in Germany, and they sauntered home richly content through the narrow
streets and through the beautiful old Damenthor, beyond which their hotel
lay. How pretty, they said, to call that charming port the Ladies' Gate!
They promised each other to find out why, and they never did so, but
satisfied themselves by assigning it to the exclusive use of the slim
maidens and massive matrons of the old Nuremberg patriciate, whom they
imagined trailing their silken splendors under its arch in perpetual
The life of the Nuremberg patriciate, now extinct in the control of the
city which it builded so strenuously and maintained so heroically, is
still insistent in all its art. This expresses their pride at once and
their simplicity with a childish literality. At its best it is never so
good as the good Italian art, whose influence is always present in its
best. The coloring of the great canvases is Venetian, but there is no
such democracy of greatness as in the painting at Venice; in decoration
the art of Nuremberg is at best quaint, and at the worst puerile.
Wherever it had obeyed an academic intention it seemed to March poor and
coarse, as in the bronze fountain beside the Church of St. Lawrence. The
water spins from the pouted breasts of the beautiful figures in streams
that cross and interlace after a fancy trivial and gross; but in the base
of the church there is a time-worn Gethsemane, exquisitely affecting in
its simple-hearted truth. The long ages have made it even more affecting
than the sculptor imagined it; they have blurred the faces and figures in
passing till their features are scarcely distinguishable; and the
sleeping apostles seem to have dreamed themselves back into the mother-
marble. It is of the same tradition and impulse with that supreme glory
of the native sculpture, the ineffable tabernacle of Adam Krafft, which
climbs a column of the church within, a miracle of richly carven story;
and no doubt if there were a Nuremberg sculptor doing great things today,
his work would be of kindred inspiration.
The descendants of the old patrician who ordered the tabernacle at rather
a hard bargain from the artist still worship on the floor below, and the
descendants of his neighbor patricians have their seats in the pews
about, and their names cut in the proprietary plates on the pew-tops.
The vergeress who showed the Marches through the church was devout in the
praise of these aristocratic fellow-citizens of hers. "So simple, and
yet so noble!" she said. She was a very romantic vergeress, and she told
them at unsparing length the legend of the tabernacle, how the artist
fell asleep in despair of winning his patron's daughter, and saw in a
vision the master-work with the lily-like droop at top, which gained him
her hand. They did not realize till too late that it was all out of a
novel of Georg Ebers's, but added to the regular fee for the church a
gift worthy of an inedited legend.
Even then they had a pleasure in her enthusiasm rarely imparted by the
Nuremberg manner. They missed there the constant, sweet civility of
Carlsbad, and found themselves falling flat in their endeavors for a
little cordiality. They indeed inspired with some kindness the old woman
who showed them through that cemetery where Albert Durer and Hans Sachs
and many other illustrious citizens lie buried under monumental brasses
of such beauty:
"That kings to have the like, might wish to die."
But this must have been because they abandoned themselves so willingly to
the fascination of the bronze skull on the tomb of a fourteenth-century
patrician, which had the uncommon advantage of a lower jaw hinged to the
upper. She proudly clapped it up and down for their astonishment, and
waited, with a toothless smile, to let them discover the bead of a nail
artfully figured in the skull; then she gave a shrill cackle of joy, and
gleefully explained that the wife of this patrician had killed him by
driving a nail into his temple, and had been fitly beheaded for the
She cared so much for nothing else in the cemetery, but she consented to
let them wonder at the richness of the sculpture in the level tombs, with
their escutcheons and memorial tablets, overrun by the long grass and the
matted ivy; she even consented to share their indignation at the
destruction of some of the brasses and the theft of others. She suffered
more reluctantly their tenderness for the old, old crucifixion figured in
sculpture at one corner of the cemetery, where the anguish of the Christ
had long since faded into the stone from which it had been evoked, and
the thieves were no longer distinguishable in their penitence or
impenitence; but she parted friends with them when she saw how much they
seemed taken with the votive chapel of the noble Holzschuh family, where
a line of wooden shoes puns upon the name in the frieze, like the line of
dogs which chase one another, with bones in their mouths, around the
Canossa palace at Verona. A sense of the beautiful house by the Adige
was part of the pleasing confusion which possessed them in Nuremberg
whenever they came upon the expression of the gothic spirit common both
to the German and northern Italian art. They knew that it was an effect
which had passed from Germany into Italy, but in the liberal air of the
older land it had come to so much more beauty that now, when they found
it in its home, it seemed something fetched from over the Alps and
coarsened in the attempt to naturalize it to an alien air.
In the Germanic Museum they fled to the Italian painters from the German
pictures they had inspired; in the great hall of the Rathhaus the noble
Processional of Durer was the more precious, because his Triumph of
Maximilian somehow suggested Mantegna's Triumph of Caesar. There was to
be a banquet in the hall, under the mighty fresco, to welcome the German
Emperor, coming the next week, and the Rathhaus was full of work-people
furbishing it up against his arrival, and making it difficult for the
custodian who had it in charge to show it properly to strangers. She was
of the same enthusiastic sisterhood as the vergeress of St. Lawrence and
the guardian of the old cemetery, and by a mighty effort she prevailed
over the workmen so far as to lead her charges out through the corridor
where the literal conscience of the brothers Kuhn has wrought in the roof
to an exact image of a tournament as it was in Nuremberg four hundred
years ago. In this relief, thronged with men and horses, the gala-life
of the past survives in unexampled fulness; and March blamed himself
after enjoying it for having felt in it that toy-figure quality which
seems the final effect of the German gothicism in sculpture.
On Sunday Mrs. March partially conformed to an earlier New England ideal
of the day by ceasing from sight-seeing. She could not have understood
the sermon if she had gone to church, but she appeased the lingering
conscience she had on this point by not going out till afternoon. Then
she found nothing of the gayety which Sunday afternoon wears in Catholic
lands. The people were resting from their week-day labors, but they were
not playing; and the old churches, long since converted to Lutheran uses,
were locked against tourist curiosity.
It was as it should be; it was as it would be at home; and yet in this
ancient city, where the past was so much alive in the perpetual
picturesqueness, the Marches felt an incongruity in it; and they were
fain to escape from the Protestant silence and seriousness of the streets
to the shade of the public garden they had involuntarily visited the
evening of their arrival.
On a bench sat a quiet, rather dejected man, whom March asked some
question of their way. He answered in English, and in the parley that
followed they discovered that they were all Americans. The stranger
proved to be an American of the sort commonest in Germany, and he said he
had returned to his native country to get rid of the ague which he had
taken on Staten Island. He had been seventeen years in New York, and now
a talk of Tammany and its chances in the next election, of pulls and
deals, of bosses and heelers, grew up between the civic step-brothers,
and joined them is a common interest. The German-American said he was
bookkeeper in some glass-works which had been closed by our tariff, and
he confessed that he did not mean to return to us, though he spoke of
German affairs with the impartiality of an outsider. He said that the
Socialist party was increasing faster than any other, and that this
tacitly meant the suppression of rank and the abolition of monarchy. He
warned March against the appearance of industrial prosperity in Germany;
beggary was severely repressed, and if poverty was better clad than with
us, it was as hungry and as hopeless in Nuremberg as in New York. The
working classes were kindly and peaceable; they only knifed each other
quietly on Sunday evenings after having too much beer.
Presently the stranger rose and bowed to the Marches for good-by; and as
he walked down the aisle of trees in which they had been fitting
together, he seemed to be retreating farther and farther from such
Americanism as they had in common. He had reverted to an entirely German
effect of dress and figure; his walk was slow and Teutonic; he must be a
type of thousands who have returned to the fatherland without wishing to
own themselves its children again, and yet out of heart with the only
country left them.
"He was rather pathetic, my dear," said March, in the discomfort he knew
his wife must be feeling as well as himself. "How odd to have the lid
lifted here, and see the same old problems seething and bubbling in the
witch's caldron we call civilization as we left simmering away at home!
And how hard to have our tariff reach out and snatch the bread from the
mouths of those poor glass-workers!"
"I thought that was hard," she sighed. "It must have been his bread,
"Let's hope it was not his cake, anyway. I suppose," he added, dreamily,
"that what we used to like in Italy was the absence of all the modern
activities. The Italians didn't repel us by assuming to be of our epoch
in the presence of their monuments; they knew how to behave as pensive
memories. I wonder if they're still as charming."
"Oh, no," she returned, "nothing is as charming as it used to be. And
now we need the charm more than ever."
He laughed at her despair, in the tacit understanding they had lived into
that only one of them was to be desperate at a time, and that they were
to take turns in cheering each other up. "Well, perhaps we don't deserve
it. And I'm not sure that we need it so much as we did when we were
young. We've got tougher; we can stand the cold facts better now. They
made me shiver once, but now they give me a sort of agreeable thrill.
Besides, if, life kept up its pretty illusions, if it insisted upon being
as charming as it used to be, how could we ever bear to die? We've got
that to consider." He yielded to the temptation of his paradox, but he
did not fail altogether of the purpose with which he began, and they took
the trolley back to their hotel cheerful in the intrepid fancy that they
had confronted fate when they had only had the hardihood to face a
They agreed that now he ought really to find out something about the
contemporary life of Nuremberg, and the next morning he went out before
breakfast, and strolled through some of the simpler streets, in the hope
of intimate impressions. The peasant women, serving portions of milk
from house to house out of the cans in the little wagons which they drew
themselves, were a touch of pleasing domestic comedy; a certain effect of
tragedy imparted itself from the lamentations of the sucking-pigs jolted
over the pavements in handcarts; a certain majesty from the long
procession of yellow mail-wagons, with drivers in the royal Bavarian
blue, trooping by in the cold small rain, impassibly dripping from their
glazed hat-brims upon their uniforms. But he could not feel that these
things were any of them very poignantly significant; and he covered his
retreat from the actualities of Nuremberg by visiting the chief book-
store and buying more photographs of the architecture than he wanted, and
more local histories than be should ever read. He made a last effort for
the contemporaneous life by asking the English-speaking clerk if there
were any literary men of distinction living in Nuremberg, and the clerk
said there was not one.
He went home to breakfast wondering if be should be able to make his
meagre facts serve with his wife; but he found her far from any wish to
listen to them. She was intent upon a pair of young lovers, at a table
near her own, who were so absorbed in each other that they were proof
against an interest that must otherwise have pierced them through. The
bridegroom, as he would have called himself, was a pretty little Bavarian
lieutenant, very dark and regular, and the bride was as pretty and as
little, but delicately blond. Nature had admirably mated them, and if
art had helped to bring them together through the genius of the bride's
mother, who was breakfasting with them, it had wrought almost as fitly.
Mrs. March queried impartially who they were, where they met, and how,
and just when they were going to be married; and March consented, in his
personal immunity from their romance, to let it go on under his eyes
without protest. But later, when they met the lovers in the street,
walking arm in arm, with the bride's mother behind them gloating upon
their bliss, he said the woman ought, at her time of life, to be ashamed
of such folly. She must know that this affair, by nine chances out of
ten, could not fail to eventuate at the best in a marriage as tiresome as
most other marriages, and yet she was abandoning herself with those
ignorant young people to the illusion that it was the finest and sweetest
thing in life.
"Well, isn't it?" his wife asked.
"Yes, that's the worst of it. It shows how poverty-stricken life really
is. We want somehow to believe that each pair of lovers will find the
good we have missed, and be as happy as we expected to be."
"I think we have been happy enough, and that we've had as much good as
was wholesome for us," she returned, hurt.
"You're always so concrete! I meant us in the abstract. But if you will
be personal, I'll say that you've been as happy as you deserve, and got
more good than you had any right to."
She laughed with him, and then they laughed again to perceive that they
were walking arm in arm too, like the lovers, whom they were insensibly
He proposed that while they were in the mood they should go again to the
old cemetery, and see the hinged jaw of the murdered Paumgartner, wagging
in eternal accusation of his murderess. "It's rather hard on her, that
he should be having the last word, that way," he said. "She was a woman,
no matter what mistakes she had committed."
"That's what I call 'banale'," said Mrs. March.
"It is, rather," he confessed. "It makes me feel as if I must go to see
the house of Durer, after all."
"Well, I knew we should have to, sooner or later."
It was the thing that they had said would not do, in Nuremberg, because
everybody did it; but now they hailed a fiacre, and ordered it driven to
Durer's house, which they found in a remote part of the town near a
stretch of the city wall, varied in its picturesqueness by the
interposition of a dripping grove; it was raining again by the time they
reached it. The quarter had lapsed from earlier dignity, and without
being squalid, it looked worn and hard worked; otherwise it could hardly
have been different in Durer's time. His dwelling, in no way impressive
outside, amidst the environing quaintness, stood at the corner of a
narrow side-hill street that sloped cityward; and within it was stripped
bare of all the furniture of life below-stairs, and above was none the
cozier for the stiff appointment of a show-house. It was cavernous and
cold; but if there had been a fire in the kitchen, and a table laid in
the dining-room, and beds equipped for nightmare, after the German
fashion, in the empty chambers, one could have imagined a kindly, simple,
neighborly existence there. It in no wise suggested the calling of an
artist, perhaps because artists had not begun in Durer's time to take
themselves so objectively as they do now, but it implied the life of a
prosperous citizen, and it expressed the period.
The Marches wrote their names in the visitors' book, and paid the
visitor's fee, which also bought them tickets in an annual lottery for a
reproduction of one of Durer's pictures; and then they came away, by no
means dissatisfied with his house. By its association with his sojourns
in Italy it recalled visits to other shrines, and they had to own that it
was really no worse than Ariosto's house at Ferrara, or Petrarch's at
Arqua, or Michelangelo's at Florence. "But what I admire," he said, "is
our futility in going to see it. We expected to surprise some quality of
the man left lying about in the house because he lived and died in it;
and because his wife kept him up so close there, and worked him so hard
to save his widow from coming to want."
"Who said she did that?"
"A friend of his who hated her. But he had to allow that she was a God-
fearing woman, and had a New England conscience."
"Well, I dare say Durer was easy-going."
"Yes; but I don't like her laying her plans to survive him; though women
always do that."
They were going away the next day, and they sat down that evening to a
final supper in such good-humor with themselves that they were willing to
include a young couple who came to take places at their table, though
they would rather have been alone. They lifted their eyes for their
expected salutation, and recognized Mr. and Mrs. Leffers, of the
The ladies fell upon each other as if they had been mother and daughter;
March and the young man shook hands, in the feeling of passengers
mutually endeared by the memories of a pleasant voyage. They arrived at
the fact that Mr. Leffers had received letters in England from his
partners which allowed him to prolong his wedding journey in a tour of
the continent, while their wives were still exclaiming at their encounter
in the same hotel at Nuremberg; and then they all sat down to have, as
the bride said, a real Norumbia time.
She was one of those young wives who talk always with their eyes
submissively on their husbands, no matter whom they are speaking to;
but she was already unconsciously ruling him in her abeyance. No doubt
she was ruling him for his good; she had a livelier, mind than he, and
she knew more, as the American wives of young American business men
always do, and she was planning wisely for their travels. She recognized
her merit in this devotion with an artless candor, which was typical
rather than personal. March was glad to go out with Leffers for a little
stroll, and to leave Mrs. March to listen to Mrs. Leffers, who did not
let them go without making her husband promise to wrap up well, and not
get his feet wet. She made March promise not to take him far, and to
bring him back early, which he found himself very willing to do, after an
exchange of ideas with Mr. Leffers. The young man began to talk about
his wife, in her providential, her almost miraculous adaptation to the
sort of man he was, and when he had once begun to explain what sort of
man he was, there was no end to it, till they rejoined the ladies in the
The young couple came to the station to see the Marches off after dinner
the next day; and the wife left a bank of flowers on the seat beside Mrs.
March, who said, as soon as they were gone, "I believe I would rather
meet people of our own age after this. I used to think that you could
keep young by being with young people; but I don't, now. There world is
very different from ours. Our world doesn't really exist any more, but
as long as we keep away from theirs we needn't realize it. Young
people," she went on, "are more practical-minded than we used to be;
they're quite as sentimental; but I don't think they care so much for the
higher things. They're not so much brought up on poetry as we were," she
pursued. "That little Mrs. Leffers would have read Longfellow in our
time; but now she didn't know of his poem on Nuremberg; she was
intelligent enough about the place, but you could see that its quaintness
was not so precious as it was to us; not so sacred." Her tone entreated
him to find more meaning in her words than she had put into them. "They
couldn't have felt as we did about that old ivied wall and that grassy,
flowery moat under it; and the beautiful Damenthor and that pile-up of
the roofs from the Burg; and those winding streets with their Gothic
facades all, cobwebbed with trolley wires; and that yellow, aguish-
looking river drowsing through the town under the windows of those
overhanging houses; and the market-place, and the squares before the
churches, with their queer shops in the nooks and corners round them!"
"I see what you mean. But do you think it's as sacred to us as it would
have been twenty-five years ago? I had an irreverent feeling now and
then that Nuremberg was overdoing Nuremberg."
"Oh, yes; so had I. We're that modern, if we're not so young as we
"We were very simple, in those days."
"Well, if we were simple, we knew it!"
"Yes; we used to like taking our unconsciousness to pieces and looking at
"We had a good time."
"Too good. Sometimes it seems as if it would have lasted longer if it
had not been so good. We might have our cake now if we hadn't eaten it."
"It would be mouldy, though."
"I wonder," he said, recurring to the Lefferses; "how we really struck
"Well, I don't believe they thought we ought to be travelling about
alone, quite, at our age."
"Oh, not so bad as that! "After a moment he said, "I dare say they don't
go round quarrelling on their wedding journey, as we did."
"Indeed they do! They had an awful quarrel just before they got to
Nuremberg: about his wanting to send some of the baggage to Liverpool by
express that she wanted to keep with them. But she said it had been a
lesson, and they were never going to quarrel again." The elders looked
at each other in the light of experience, and laughed. "Well," she
ended, "that's one thing we're through with. I suppose we've come to
feel more alike than we used to."
"Or not to feel at all. How did they settle it about the baggage?"
"Oh! He insisted on her keeping it with her." March laughed again, but
this time he laughed alone, and after a while she said: "Well, they gave
just the right relief to Nuremberg, with their good, clean American
philistinism. I don't mind their thinking us queer; they must have
thought Nuremberg was queer."
"Yes. We oldsters are always queer to the young. We're either
ridiculously lively and chirpy, or we're ridiculously stiff and grim;
they never expect to be like us, and wouldn't, for the world. The worst
of it is, we elderly people are absurd to one another; we don't, at the
bottom of our hearts, believe we're like that, when we meet. I suppose
that arrogant old ass of a Triscoe looks upon me as a grinning dotard."
"I wonder," said Mrs. March, "if she's told him yet," and March perceived
that she was now suddenly far from the mood of philosophic introspection;
but he had no difficulty in following her.
"She's had time enough. But it was an awkward task Burnamy left to her."
"Yes, when I think of that, I can hardly forgive him for coming back in
that way. I know she is dead in love with him; but she could only have
accepted him conditionally."
"Conditionally to his making it all right with Stoller?"
"Stoller? No! To her father's liking it."
"Ah, that's quite as hard. What makes you think she accepted him at
"What do you think she was crying about?"
"Well, I have supposed that ladies occasionally shed tears of pity. If
she accepted him conditionally she would have to tell her father about
it." Mrs. March gave him a glance of silent contempt, and he hastened to
atone for his stupidity. "Perhaps she's told him on the instalment plan.
She may have begun by confessing that Burnamy had been in Carlsbad. Poor
old fellow, I wish we were going to find him in Ansbach! He could make
things very smooth for us."
"Well, you needn't flatter yourself that you'll find him in Ansbach. I'm
sure I don't know where he is."
"You might write to Miss Triscoe and ask."
"I think I shall wait for Miss Triscoe to write to me," she said, with
"Yes, she certainly owes you that much, after all your suffering for her.
I've asked the banker in Nuremberg to forward our letters to the poste
restante in Ansbach. Isn't it good to see the crows again, after those
ravens around Carlsbad?"
She joined him in looking at the mild autumnal landscape through the open
window. The afternoon was fair and warm, and in the level fields bodies
of soldiers were at work with picks and spades, getting the ground ready
for the military manoeuvres; they disturbed among the stubble foraging
parties of crows, which rose from time to time with cries of indignant
protest. She said, with a smile for the crows, "Yes. And I'm thankful
that I've got nothing on my conscience, whatever happens," she added in
dismissal of the subject of Burnamy.
"I'm thankful too, my dear. I'd much rather have things on my own. I'm
more used to that, and I believe I feel less remorse than when you're to
They might have been carried near this point by those telepathic
influences which have as yet been so imperfectly studied. It was only
that morning, after the lapse of a week since Burnamy's furtive
reappearance in Carlsbad, that Miss Triscoe spoke to her father about it,
and she had at that moment a longing for support and counsel that might
well have made its mystical appeal to Mrs. March.
She spoke at last because she could put it off no longer, rather than
because the right time had come. She began as they sat at breakfast.
"Papa, there is something that I have got to tell yon. It is something
that you ought to know; but I have put off telling you because--"
She hesitated for the reason, and "Well!" said her father, looking up at
her from his second cup of coffee. "What is it?"
Then she answered, "Mr. Burnamy has been here."
"In Carlsbad? When was he here?"
"The night of the Emperor's birthday. He came into the box when you were
behind the scenes with Mr. March; afterwards I met him in the crowd."
"I thought you ought to know. Mrs. March said I ought to tell you."
"Did she say you ought to wait a week?" He gave way to an irascibility
which he tried to check, and to ask with indifference, "Why did he come
"He was going to write about it for that paper in Paris." The girl had
the effect of gathering her courage up for a bold plunge. She looked
steadily at her father, and added: "He said he came back because he
couldn't help it. He--wished to speak with me, He said he knew he had no
right to suppose I cared anything about what had happened with him and
Mr. Stoller. He wanted to come back and tell me--that."
Her father waited for her to go on, but apparently she was going to leave
the word to him, now. He hesitated to take it, but he asked at last with
a mildness that seemed to surprise her, "Have you heard anything from him
"Where is he?"
"I don't know. I told him I could not say what he wished; that I must
tell you about it."
The case was less simple than it would once have been for General
Triscoe. There was still his affection for his daughter, his wish for
her happiness, but this had always been subordinate to his sense of his
own interest and comfort, and a question had recently arisen which put
his paternal love and duty in a new light. He was no more explicit with
himself than other men are, and the most which could ever be said of him
without injustice was that in his dependence upon her he would rather
have kept his daughter to himself if she could not have been very
prosperously married. On the other hand, if he disliked the man for whom
she now hardly hid her liking, he was not just then ready to go to
extremes concerning him.
"He was very anxious," she went on, "that you should know just how it
was. He thinks everything of your judgment and--and--opinion." The
general made a consenting noise in his throat. "He said that he did not
wish me to 'whitewash' him to you. He didn't think he had done right; he
didn't excuse himself, or ask you to excuse him unless you could from the
stand-point of a gentleman."
The general made a less consenting noise in his throat, and asked, "How
do you look at it, yourself, Agatha?"
"I don't believe I quite understand it; but Mrs. March--"
"Oh, Mrs. March!" the general snorted.
"--says that Mr. March does not think so badly of it as Mr. Burnamy
"I doubt it. At any rate, I understood March quite differently."
"She says that he thinks he behaved very nobly afterwards when Mr.
Stoller wanted him to help him put a false complexion on it; that it was
all the more difficult for him to do right then, because of his remorse
for what he had done before." As she spoke on she had become more eager.
"There's something in that," the general admitted, with a candor that he
made the most of both to himself and to her. "But I should like to know
what Stoller had to say of it all. Is there anything," he inquired, "any
reason why I need be more explicit about it, just now?"
"N--no. Only, I thought--He thinks so much of your opinion that--if--"
"Oh, he can very well afford to wait. If he values my opinion so highly
he can give me time to make up my mind."
"And I'm not responsible," the general continued, significantly, "for the
delay altogether. If you had told me this before--Now, I don't know
whether Stoller is still in town."
He was not behaving openly with her; but she had not behaved openly with
him. She owned that to herself, and she got what comfort she could from
his making the affair a question of what Burnamy had done to Stoller
rather than of what Burnamy had said to her, and what she had answered
him. If she was not perfectly clear as to what she wanted to do, or
wished to have happen, there was now time and place in which she could
delay and make sure. The accepted theory of such matters is that people
know their minds from the beginning, and that they do not change them.
But experience seems to contradict this theory, or else people often act
contrary to their convictions and impulses. If the statistics were
accessible, it might be found that many potential engagements hovered in
a doubtful air, and before they touched the earth in actual promise were
dissipated by the play of meteorological chances.
When General Triscoe put down his napkin in rising he said that he would
step round to Pupp's and see if Stoller were still there. But on the way
he stepped up to Mrs. Adding's hotel on the hill, and he came back, after
an interval which he seemed not to have found long, to report rather
casually that Stoller had left Carlsbad the day before. By this time the
fact seemed not to concern Agatha herself very vitally.
He asked if the Marches had left any address with her, and she answered
that they had not. They were going to spend a few days in Nuremberg, and
then push on to Holland for Mr. March's after-cure. There was no
relevance in his question unless it intimated his belief that she was in
confidential correspondence with Mrs. March, and she met this by saying
that she was going to write her in care of their bankers; she asked
whether he wished to send any word.
"No. I understand," he intimated, "that there is nothing at all in the
nature of a--a--an understanding, then, with--"
"Hm!" The general waited a moment. Then he ventured, "Do you care to
say--do you wish me to know--how he took it?"
The tears came into the girl's eyes, but she governed herself to say,
"He--he was disappointed."
"He had no right to be disappointed."
It was a question, and she answered: "He thought he had. He said--that
he wouldn't--trouble me any more."
The general did not ask at once, "And you don't know where he is now--you
haven't heard anything from him since?"
Agatha flashed through her tears, "Papa!"
"Oh! I beg your pardon. I think you told me."
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Americans are hungrier for royalty than anybody else
Effort to get on common ground with an inferior
He buys my poverty and not my will
Intrepid fancy that they had confronted fate
Less intrusive than if he had not been there
Monologue to which the wives of absent-minded men resign
Only one of them was to be desperate at a time
Reconciliation with death which nature brings to life at last
Voting-cattle whom they bought and sold
We don't seem so much our own property
We get too much into the hands of other people
THEIR SILVER WEDDING JOURNEY
At the first station where the train stopped, a young German bowed
himself into the compartment with the Marches, and so visibly resisted an
impulse to smoke that March begged him to light his cigarette. In the
talk which this friendly overture led to between them he explained that
he was a railway architect, employed by the government on that line of
road, and was travelling officially. March spoke of Nuremberg; he owned
the sort of surfeit he had suffered from its excessive mediaevalism, and
the young man said it was part of the new imperial patriotism to cherish
the Gothic throughout Germany; no other sort of architecture was
permitted in Nuremberg. But they would find enough classicism at
Ansbach, he promised them, and he entered with sympathetic intelligence
into their wish to see this former capital when March told him they were
going to stop there, in hopes of something typical of the old disjointed
Germany of the petty principalities, the little paternal despotisms now
As they talked on, partly in German and partly in English, their purpose
in visiting Ansbach appeared to the Marches more meditated than it was.
In fact it was somewhat accidental; Ansbach was near Nuremberg; it was
not much out of the way to Holland. They took more and more credit to
themselves for a reasoned and definite motive, in the light of their
companion's enthusiasm for the place, and its charm began for them with
the drive from the station through streets whose sentiment was both
Italian and French, and where there was a yellowish cast in the gray of
the architecture which was almost Mantuan. They rested their
sensibilities, so bruised and fretted by Gothic angles and points,
against the smooth surfaces of the prevailing classicistic facades of the
houses as they passed, and when they arrived at their hotel, an old
mansion of Versailles type, fronting on a long irregular square planted
with pollard sycamores, they said that it might as well have been Lucca.
The archway and stairway of the hotel were draped with the Bavarian
colors, and they were obscurely flattered to learn that Prince Leopold,
the brother of the Prince-Regent of the kingdom, had taken rooms there,
on his way to the manoeuvres at Nuremberg, and was momently expected with
his suite. They realized that they were not of the princely party,
however, when they were told that he had sole possession of the dining-
room, and they went out to another hotel, and had their supper in keeping
delightfully native. People seemed to come there to write their letters
and make up their accounts, as well as to eat their suppers; they called
for stationery like characters in old comedy, and the clatter of crockery
and the scratching of pens went on together; and fortune offered the
Marches a delicate reparation for their exclusion from their own hotel in
the cold popular reception of the prince which they got back just in time
to witness. A very small group of people, mostly women and boys, had
gathered to see him arrive, but there was no cheering or any sign of
public interest. Perhaps he personally merited none; he looked a dull,
sad man, with his plain, stubbed features; and after he had mounted to
his apartment, the officers of his staff stood quite across the landing,
and barred the passage of the Americans, ignoring even Mrs. March's
presence, as they talked together.
"Well, my dear," said her husband, "here you have it at last. This is
what you've been living for, ever since we came to Germany. It's a great
"Yes. What are you going to do?"
"Who? I? Oh, nothing! This is your affair; it's for you to act."
If she had been young, she might have withered them with a glance; she
doubted now if her dim eyes would have any such power; but she advanced
steadily upon them, and then the officers seemed aware of her, and stood
March always insisted that they stood aside apologetically, but she held
as firmly that they stood aside impertinently, or at least indifferently,
and that the insult to her American womanhood was perfectly ideal. It is
true that nothing of the kind happened again during their stay at the
hotel; the prince's officers were afterwards about in the corridors and
on the stairs, but they offered no shadow of obstruction to her going and
coming, and the landlord himself was not so preoccupied with his
highhotes but he had time to express his grief that she had been obliged
to go out for supper.
They satisfied the passion for the little obsolete capital which had been
growing upon them by strolling past the old Resident at an hour so
favorable for a first impression. It loomed in the gathering dusk even
vaster than it was, and it was really vast enough for the pride of a King
of France, much more a Margrave of Ansbach. Time had blackened and
blotched its coarse limestone walls to one complexion with the statues
swelling and strutting in the figure of Roman legionaries before it, and
standing out against the evening sky along its balustraded roof, and had
softened to the right tint the stretch of half a dozen houses with
mansard roofs and renaissance facades obsequiously in keeping with the
Versailles ideal of a Resident. In the rear, and elsewhere at fit
distance from its courts, a native architecture prevailed; and at no
great remove the Marches found themselves in a simple German town again.
There they stumbled upon a little bookseller's shop blinking in a quiet
corner, and bought three or four guides and small histories of Ansbach,
which they carried home, and studied between drowsing and waking. The
wonderful German syntax seems at its most enigmatical in this sort of
literature, and sometimes they lost themselves in its labyrinths
completely, and only made their way perilously out with the help of
cumulative declensions, past articles and adjectives blindly seeking
their nouns, to long-procrastinated verbs dancing like swamp-fires in the
distance. They emerged a little less ignorant than they went in, and
better qualified than they would otherwise have been for their second
visit to the Schloss, which they paid early the next morning.
They were so early, indeed, that when they mounted from the great inner
court, much too big for Ansbach, if not for the building, and rung the
custodian's bell, a smiling maid who let them into an ante-room, where
she kept on picking over vegetables for her dinner, said the custodian
was busy, and could not be seen till ten o'clock. She seemed, in her
nook of the pretentious pile, as innocently unconscious of its history
as any hen-sparrow who had built her nest in some coign of its
architecture; and her friendly, peaceful domesticity remained a wholesome
human background to the tragedies and comedies of the past, and held them
in a picturesque relief in which they were alike tolerable and even
The history of Ansbach strikes its roots in the soil of fable, and above
ground is a gnarled and twisted growth of good and bad from the time of
the Great Charles to the time of the Great Frederick. Between these
times she had her various rulers, ecclesiastical and secular, in various
forms of vassalage to the empire; but for nearly four centuries her
sovereignty was in the hands of the margraves, who reigned in a
constantly increasing splendor till the last sold her outright to the
King of Prussia in 1791, and went to live in England on the proceeds.
She had taken her part in the miseries and glories of the wars that
desolated Germany, but after the Reformation, when she turned from the
ancient faith to which she owed her cloistered origin under St.
Gumpertus, her people had peace except when their last prince sold them
to fight the battles of others. It is in this last transaction that her
history, almost in the moment when she ceased to have a history of her
own, links to that of the modern world, and that it came home to the
Marches in their national character; for two thousand of those poor
Ansbach mercenaries were bought up by England and sent to put down a
rebellion in her American colonies.
Humanly, they were more concerned for the Last Margrave, because of
certain qualities which made him the Best Margrave, in spite of the
defects of his qualities. He was the son of the Wild Margrave, equally
known in the Ansbach annals, who may not have been the Worst Margrave,
but who had certainly a bad trick of putting his subjects to death
without trial, and in cases where there was special haste, with his own
hand. He sent his son to the university at Utrecht because he believed
that the republican influences in Holland would be wholesome for him, and
then he sent him to travel in Italy; but when the boy came home looking
frail and sick, the Wild Margrave charged his official travelling
companion with neglect, and had the unhappy Hofrath Meyer hanged without
process for this crime. One of the gentlemen of his realm, for a
pasquinade on the Margrave, was brought to the scaffold; he had, at
various times, twenty-two of his soldiers shot with arrows and bullets or
hanged for desertion, besides many whose penalties his clemency commuted
to the loss of an ear or a nose; a Hungarian who killed his hunting-dog,
he had broken alive on the wheel. A soldier's wife was hanged for
complicity in a case of desertion; a young soldier who eloped with the
girl he loved was brought to Ansbach from a neighboring town, and hanged
with her on the same gallows. A sentry at the door of one of the
Margrave's castles amiably complied with the Margrave's request to let
him take his gun for a moment, on the pretence of wishing to look at it.
For this breach of discipline the prince covered him with abuse and gave
him over to his hussars, who bound him to a horse's tail and dragged him
through the streets; he died of his injuries. The kennel-master who had
charge of the Margrave's dogs was accused of neglecting them: without
further inquiry the Margrave rode to the man's house and shot him down on
his own threshold. A shepherd who met the Margrave on a shying horse did
not get his flock out of the way quickly enough; the Margrave demanded
the pistols of a gentleman in his company, but he answered that they were
not loaded, and the shepherd's life was saved. As they returned home the
gentleman fired them off. "What does that mean?" cried the Margrave,
furiously. "It means, gracious lord, that you will sleep sweeter
tonight, for not having heard my pistols an hour sooner."
From this it appears that the gracious lord had his moments of regret;
but perhaps it is not altogether strange that when he died, the whole
population "stormed through the streets to meet his funeral train, not in
awe-stricken silence to meditate on the fall of human grandeur, but to
unite in an eager tumult of rejoicing, as if some cruel brigand who had
long held the city in terror were delivered over to them bound and in
chains." For nearly thirty years this blood-stained miscreant had
reigned over his hapless people in a sovereign plenitude of power, which
by the theory of German imperialism in our day is still a divine right.
They called him the Wild Margrave, in their instinctive revolt from the
belief that any man not untamably savage could be guilty of his
atrocities; and they called his son the Last Margrave, with a touch of
the poetry which perhaps records a regret for their extinction as a
state. He did not harry them as his father had done; his mild rule was
the effect partly of the indifference and distaste for his country bred,
by his long sojourns abroad; but doubtless also it was the effect of a
kindly nature. Even in the matter of selling a few thousands of them to
fight the battles of a bad cause on the other side of the world, he had
the best of motives, and faithfully applied the proceeds to the payment
of the state debt and the embellishment of the capital.
His mother was a younger sister of Frederick the Great, and was so
constantly at war with her husband that probably she had nothing to do
with the marriage which the Wild Margrave forced upon their son. Love
certainly had nothing to do with it, and the Last Margrave early escaped
from it to the society of Mlle. Clairon, the great French tragedienne,
whom he met in Paris, and whom he persuaded to come and make her home
with him in Ansbach. She lived there seventeen years, and though always
an alien, she bore herself with kindness to all classes, and is still
remembered there by the roll of butter which calls itself a Klarungswecke
in its imperfect French.
No roll of butter records in faltering accents the name of the brilliant
and disdainful English lady who replaced this poor tragic muse in the
Margrave's heart, though the lady herself lived to be the last Margravine
of Ansbach, where everybody seems to have hated her with a passion which
she doubtless knew how to return. She was the daughter of the Earl of
Berkeley, and the wife of Lord Craven, a sufficiently unfaithful and
unworthy nobleman by her account, from whom she was living apart when the
Margrave asked her to his capital. There she set herself to oust Mlle.
Clairon with sneers and jests for the theatrical style which the actress
could not outlive. Lady Craven said she was sure Clairon's nightcap must
be a crown of gilt paper; and when Clairon threatened to kill herself,
and the Margrave was alarmed, "You forget," said Lady Craven, "that
actresses only stab themselves under their sleeves."
She drove Clairon from Ansbach, and the great tragedienne returned to
Paris, where she remained true to her false friend, and from time to time
wrote him letters full of magnanimous counsel and generous tenderness.
But she could not have been so good company as Lady Craven, who was a
very gifted person, and knew how to compose songs and sing them, and
write comedies and play them, and who could keep the Margrave amused in
many ways. When his loveless and childless wife died he married the
English woman, but he grew more and more weary of his dull little court
and his dull little country, and after a while, considering the uncertain
tenure sovereigns had of their heads since the French King had lost his,
and the fact that he had no heirs to follow him in his principality, he
resolved to cede it for a certain sum to Prussia. To this end his new
wife's urgence was perhaps not wanting. They went to England, where she
outlived him ten years, and wrote her memoirs.
The custodian of the Schloss came at last, and the Marches saw instantly
that he was worth waiting for. He was as vainglorious of the palace as
any grand-monarching margrave of them all. He could not have been more
personally superb in showing their different effigies if they had been
his own family portraits, and he would not spare the strangers a single
splendor of the twenty vast, handsome, tiresome, Versailles-like rooms he
led them through. The rooms were fatiguing physically, but so poignantly
interesting that Mrs. March would not have missed, though she perished of
her pleasure, one of the things she saw. She had for once a surfeit of
highhoting in the pictures, the porcelains, the thrones and canopies, the
tapestries, the historical associations with the margraves and their
marriages, with the Great Frederick and the Great Napoleon. The Great
Napoleon's man Bernadotte made the Schloss his headquarters when he
occupied Ansbach after Austerlitz, and here he completed his arrangements
for taking her bargain from Prussia and handing it over to Bavaria, with
whom it still remains. Twice the Great Frederick had sojourned in the
palace; visiting his sister Louise, the wife of the Wild Margrave, and
more than once it had welcomed her next neighbor and sister Wilhelmina,
the Margravine of Baireuth, whose autobiographic voice, piercingly
plaintive and reproachful, seemed to quiver in the air. Here, oddly
enough, the spell of the Wild Margrave weakened in the presence of his
portrait, which signally failed to justify his fame of furious tyrant.
That seems, indeed, to have been rather the popular and historical
conception of him than the impression he made upon his exalted
contemporaries. The Margravine of Baireuth at any rate could so far
excuse her poor blood-stained brother-in-law as to say: "The Margrave of
Ansbach . . . was a young prince who had been very badly educated.
He continually ill-treated my sister; they led the life of cat and dog.
My sister, it is true, was sometimes in fault . . . . Her education
had been very bad. . . She was married at fourteen."
At parting, the custodian told the Marches that he would easily have
known them for Americans by the handsome fee they gave him; they came
away flown with his praise; and their national vanity was again flattered
when they got out into the principal square of Ansbach. There, in a
bookseller's window, they found among the pamphlets teaching different
languages without a master, one devoted to the Amerikanische Sprache as
distinguished from the Englische Sprache. That there could be no
mistake, the cover was printed with colors in a German ideal of the star-
spangled banner; and March said he always knew that we had a language of
our own, and that now he was going in to buy that pamphlet and find out
what it was like. He asked the young shop-woman how it differed from
English, which she spoke fairly well from having lived eight years in
Chicago. She said that it differed from the English mainly in emphasis
and pronunciation. "For instance, the English say 'HALF past', and the
Americans 'Half PAST'; the English say 'laht' and the Americans say
The weather had now been clear quite long enough, and it was raining
again, a fine, bitter, piercing drizzle. They asked the girl if it
always rained in Ansbach; and she owned that it nearly always did. She
said that sometimes she longed for a little American summer; that it was
never quite warm in Ansbach; and when they had got out into the rain,
March said: "It was very nice to stumble on Chicago in an Ansbach book-
store. You ought to have told her you had a married daughter in Chicago.
Don't miss another such chance."
"We shall need another bag if we keep on buying books at this rate," said
his wife with tranquil irrelevance; and not to give him time for protest;
she pushed him into a shop where the valises in the window perhaps
suggested her thought. March made haste to forestall her there by saying
they were Americans, but the mistress of the shop seemed to have her
misgivings, and "Born Americans, perhaps?" she ventured. She had
probably never met any but the naturalized sort, and supposed these were
the only sort. March re-assured her, and then she said she had a son
living in Jersey City, and she made March take his address that he might
tell him he had seen his mother; she had apparently no conception what a
great way Jersey City is from New York.
Mrs. March would not take his arm when they came out. "Now, that is what
I never can get used to in you, Basil, and I've tried to palliate it for
twenty-seven years. You know you won't look up that poor woman's son!
Why did you let her think you would?"
"How could I tell her I wouldn't? Perhaps I shall."
"No, no! You never will. I know you're good and kind, and that's why I
can't understand your being so cruel. When we get back, how will you
ever find time to go over to Jersey City?"
He could not tell, but at last he said: "I'll tell you what! You must
keep me up to it. You know how much you enjoy making me do my duty, and
this will be such a pleasure!"
She laughed forlornly, but after a moment she took his arm; and he began,
from the example of this good mother, to philosophize the continuous
simplicity and sanity of the people of Ansbach under all their civic
changes. Saints and soldiers, knights and barons, margraves, princes,
kings, emperors, had come and gone, and left their single-hearted,
friendly subjectfolk pretty much what they found them. The people had
suffered and survived through a thousand wars, and apparently prospered
on under all governments and misgovernments. When the court was most
French, most artificial, most vicious, the citizen life must have
remained immutably German, dull, and kind. After all, he said, humanity
seemed everywhere to be pretty safe, and pretty much the same.
"Yes, that is all very well," she returned, "and you can theorize
interestingly enough; but I'm afraid that poor mother, there, had no more
reality for you than those people in the past. You appreciate her as a
type, and you don't care for her as a human being. You're nothing but a
dreamer, after all. I don't blame you," she went on. "It's your
temperament, and you can't change, now."
"I may change for the worse," he threatened. "I think I have, already.
I don't believe I could stand up to Dryfoos, now, as I did for poor old
Lindau, when I risked your bread and butter for his. I look back in
wonder and admiration at myself. I've steadily lost touch with life
since then. I'm a trifler, a dilettante, and an amateur of the right and
the good as I used to be when I was young. Oh, I have the grace to be
troubled at times, now, and once I never was. It never occurred to me
then that the world wasn't made to interest me, or at the best to
instruct me, but it does, now, at times."
She always came to his defence when he accused himself; it was the best
ground he could take with her. "I think you behaved very well with
Burnamy. You did your duty then."
"Did I? I'm not so sure. At any rate, it's the last time I shall do it.
I've served my term. I think I should tell him that he was all right in
that business with Stoller, if I were to meet him, now."
"Isn't it strange," she said, provisionally, "that we don't come upon a
trace of him anywhere in Ansbach?"
"Ah, you've been hoping he would turn up!"
"Yes. I don't deny it. I feel very unhappy about him."
"I don't. He's too much like me. He would have been quite capable of
promising that poor woman to look up her son in Jersey City. When I
think of that, I have no patience with Burnamy."
"I am going to ask the landlord about him, now he's got rid of his
highhotes," said Mrs. March.
They went home to their hotel for their midday dinner, and to the comfort
of having it nearly all to themselves. Prince Leopold had risen early,
like all the hard-working potentates of the continent, and got away to
the manoeuvres somewhere at six o'clock; the decorations had been
removed, and the court-yard where the hired coach and pair of the prince
had rolled in the evening before had only a few majestic ducks waddling
about in it and quacking together, indifferent to the presence of a
yellow mail-wagon, on which the driver had been apparently dozing till
the hour of noon should sound. He sat there immovable, but at the last
stroke of the clock he woke up and drove vigorously away to the station.
The dining-room which they had been kept out of by the prince the night
before was not such as to embitter the sense of their wrong by its
splendor. After all, the tastes of royalty must be simple, if the prince
might have gone to the Schloss and had chosen rather to stay at this
modest hotel; but perhaps the Schloss was reserved for more immediate
royalty than the brothers of prince-regents; and in that case he could
not have done better than dine at the Golden Star. If he paid no more
than two marks, he dined as cheaply as a prince could wish, and as
abundantly. The wine at Ansbach was rather thin and sour, but the bread,
March declared, was the best bread in the whole world, not excepting the
bread of Carlsbad.
After dinner the Marches had some of the local pastry, not so
incomparable as the bread, with their coffee, which they had served them
in a pavilion of the beautiful garden remaining to the hotel from the
time when it was a patrician mansion. The garden had roses in it and
several sorts of late summer flowers, as well as ripe cherries, currants,
grapes, and a Virginia-creeper red with autumn, all harmoniously
contemporaneous, as they might easily be in a climate where no one of the
seasons can very well know itself from the others. It had not been
raining for half an hour, and the sun was scalding hot, so that the
shelter of their roof was very grateful, and the puddles of the paths
were drying up with the haste which puddles have to make in Germany,
between rains, if they are ever going to dry up at all.
The landlord came out to see if they were well served, and he was
sincerely obliging in the English he had learned as a waiter in London.
Mrs. March made haste to ask him if a young American of the name of
Burnamy had been staying with him a few weeks before; and she described
Burnamy's beauty and amiability so vividly that the landlord, if he had
been a woman, could not have failed to remember him. But he failed, with
a real grief, apparently, and certainly a real politeness, to recall
either his name or his person. The landlord was an intelligent, good-
looking young fellow; he told them that he was lately married, and they
liked him so much that they were sorry to see him afterwards privately
boxing the ears of the piccolo, the waiter's little understudy. Perhaps
the piccolo deserved it, but they would rather not have witnessed his
punishment; his being in a dress-coat seemed to make it also an
In the late afternoon they went to the cafe in the old Orangery of the
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