The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg and Other Stories
Part 7 out of 7
gallop, at any reasonable distance.
In another camp the chief was a fierce and profane old blacksmith of
sixty, and he had furnished his twenty recruits with gigantic home-made
bowie-knives, to be swung with the two hands, like the machetes of the
Isthmus. It was a grisly spectacle to see that earnest band practising
their murderous cuts and slashes under the eye of that remorseless old
The last camp which we fell back upon was in a hollow near the village of
Florida, where I was born--in Monroe County. Here we were warned, one
day, that a Union colonel was sweeping down on us with a whole regiment
at his heels. This looked decidedly serious. Our boys went apart and
consulted; then we went back and told the other companies present that
the war was a disappointment to us and we were going to disband. They
were getting ready, themselves, to fall back on some place or other, and
were only waiting for General Tom Harris, who was expected to arrive at
any moment; so they tried to persuade us to wait a little while, but the
majority of us said no, we were accustomed to falling back, and didn't
need any of Tom Harris's help; we could get along perfectly well without
him and save time too. So about half of our fifteen, including myself,
mounted and left on the instant; the others yielded to persuasion and
stayed--stayed through the war.
An hour later we met General Harris on the road, with two or three people
in his company--his staff, probably, but we could not tell; none of them
was in uniform; uniforms had not come into vogue among us yet. Harris
ordered us back; but we told him there was a Union colonel coming with a
whole regiment in his wake, and it looked as if there was going to be a
disturbance; so we had concluded to go home. He raged a little, but it
was of no use; our minds were made up. We had done our share; had killed
one man, exterminated one army, such as it was; let him go and kill the
rest, and that would end the war. I did not see that brisk young general
again until last year; then he was wearing white hair and whiskers.
In time I came to know that Union colonel whose coming frightened me out
of the war and crippled the Southern cause to that extent--General Grant.
I came within a few hours of seeing him when he was as unknown as I was
myself; at a time when anybody could have said, 'Grant?--Ulysses S.
Grant? I do not remember hearing the name before.' It seems difficult
to realise that there was once a time when such a remark could be
rationally made; but there was, and I was within a few miles of the place
and the occasion too, though proceeding in the other direction.
The thoughtful will not throw this war-paper of mine lightly aside as
being valueless. It has this value: it is a not unfair picture of what
went on in many and many a militia camp in the first months of the
rebellion, when the green recruits were without discipline, without the
steadying and heartening influence or trained leaders; when all their
circumstances were new and strange, and charged with exaggerated terrors,
and before the invaluable experience of actual collision in the field had
turned them from rabbits into soldiers. If this side of the picture of
that early day has not before been put into history, then history has
been to that degree incomplete, for it had and has its rightful place
there. There was more Bull Run material scattered through the early
camps of this country than exhibited itself at Bull Run. And yet it
learned its trade presently, and helped to fight the great battles later.
I could have become a soldier myself, if I had waited. I had got part of
it learned; I knew more about retreating than the man that invented
 It was always my impression that that was what the horse was there
for, and I know that it was also the impression of at least one other of
the command, for we talked about it at the time, and admired the military
ingenuity of the device; but when I was out West three years ago I was
told by Mr. A. G. Fuqua, a member of our company, that the horse was his,
that the leaving him tied at the door was a matter of mere forgetfulness,
and that to attribute it to intelligent invention was to give him quite
too much credit. In support of his position, he called my attention to
the suggestive fact that the artifice was not employed again. I had not
thought of that before.
IN THREE ACTS 
MR. STEPHENSON. MARGARET STEPHENSON.
GEORGE FRANKLIN. ANNIE STEPHENSON.
WILLIAM JACKSON. MRS. BLUMENTHAL, the Wirthin.
ACT I. SCENE I.
Scene of the play, the parlour of a small private dwelling in a village.
(MARGARET discovered crocheting--has a pamphlet.)
MARGARET. (Solus.) Dear, dear! it's dreary enough, to have to study
this impossible German tongue: to be exiled from home and all human
society except a body's sister in order to do it, is just simply
abscheulich. Here's only three weeks of the three months gone, and it
seems like three years. I don't believe I can live through it, and I'm
sure Annie can't. (Refers to her book, and rattles through, several
times, like one memorising:) Entschuldigen Sie, mein Herr, konnen Sie
mir vielleicht sagen, um wie viel Uhr der erste Zug nach Dresden abgeht?
(Makes mistakes and corrects them.) I just hate Meisterschaft! We may
see people; we can have society; yes, on condition that the conversation
shall be in German, and in German only--every single word of it! Very
kind--oh, very! when neither Annie nor I can put two words together,
except as they are put together for us in Meisterschaft or that idiotic
Ollendorff! (Refers to book, and memorises: Mein Bruder hat Ihren Herrn
Vater nicht gesehen, als er gestern in dem Laden des deutschen Kaufmannes
war.) Yes, we can have society, provided we talk German. What would
conversation be like! If you should stick to Meisterschaft, it would
change the subject every two minutes; and if you stuck to Ollendorff, it
would be all about your sister's mother's good stocking of thread, or
your grandfather's aunt's good hammer of the carpenter, and who's got it,
and there an end. You couldn't keep up your interest in such topics.
(Memorising: Wenn irgend moglich--mochte ich noch heute Vormittag
Geschaftsfreunde zu treffen.) My mind is made up to one thing: I will be
an exile, in spirit and in truth: I will see no one during these three
months. Father is very ingenious--oh, very! thinks he is, anyway.
Thinks he has invented a way to force us to learn to speak German. He is
a dear good soul, and all that; but invention isn't his fach'. He will
see. (With eloquent energy.) Why, nothing in the world shall--Bitte,
konnen Sie mir vielleicht sagen, ob Herr Schmidt mit diesem Zuge
angekommen ist? Oh, dear, dear George--three weeks! It seems a whole
century since I saw him. I wonder if he suspects that I--that I--care
for him--j-just a wee, wee bit? I believe he does. And I believe Will
suspects that Annie cares for him a little, that I do. And I know
perfectly well that they care for us. They agree with all our opinions,
no matter what they are; and if they have a prejudice, they change it, as
soon as they see how foolish it is. Dear George! at first he just
couldn't abide cats; but now, why now he's just all for cats; he fairly
welters in cats. I never saw such a reform. And it's just so with all
his principles: he hasn't got one that he had before. Ah, if all men
were like him, this world would--(Memorising: Im Gegentheil, mein Herr,
dieser Stoff ist sehr billig. Bitte, sehen Sie sich nur die Qualitat
an.) Yes, and what did they go to studying German for, if it wasn't an
inspiration of the highest and purest sympathy? Any other explanation is
nonsense--why, they'd as soon have thought of studying American history.
[Turns her back, buries herself in her pamphlet, first memorising aloud,
until Annie enters, then to herself, rocking to and fro, and rapidly
moving her lips, without uttering a sound.]
Enter ANNIE, absorbed in her pamphlet--does not at first see MARGARET.
ANNIE. (Memorising: Er liess mich gestern fruh rufen, und sagte mir dass
er einen sehr unangenehmen Brief von Ihrem Lehrer erhalten hatte.
Repeats twice aloud, then to herself, briskly moving her lips.)
M. (Still not seeing her sister.) Wie geht es Ihrem Herrn Schwiegervater?
Es freut mich sehr dass Ihre Frau Mutter wieder wohl ist. (Repeats.
Then mouths in silence.)
A. (Repeats her sentence a couple of times aloud; then looks up, working
her lips, and discovers Margaret.) Oh, you here? (Running to her.) O
lovey-dovey, dovey-lovey, I've got the gr-reatest news! Guess, guess,
guess! You'll never guess in a hundred thousand million years--and more!
M. Oh, tell me, tell me, dearie; don't keep me in agony.
A. Well I will. What--do--you--think? They're here!
M. Wh-a-t! Who? When? Which? Speak!
A. Will and George!
M. Annie Alexandra Victoria Stephenson, what do you mean?
A. As sure as guns!
M. (Spasmodically embracing and kissing her.) 'Sh! don't use such
language. O darling, say it again!
A. As sure as guns!
M. I don't mean that! Tell me again, that--
A. (Springing up and waltzing about the room.) They're here--in this
very village--to learn German--for three months! Es sollte mich sehr
freuen wenn Sie--
M. (Joining in the dance.) Oh, it's just too lovely for anything!
(Unconsciously memorising:) Es ware mir lieb wenn Sie morgen mit mir in
die Kirche gehen konnten, aber ich kann selbst nicht gehen, weil ich
Sonntags gewohnlich krank bin. Juckhe!
A. (Finishing some unconscious memorising.)--morgen Mittag bei mir
speisen konnten. Juckhe! Sit down and I'll tell you all I've heard.
(They sit.) They're here, and under that same odious law that fetters us
--our tongues, I mean; the metaphor's faulty, but no matter. They can go
out, and see people, only on condition that they hear and speak German,
and German only.
M. Isn't--that--too lovely!
A. And they're coming to see us!
M. Darling! (Kissing her.) But are you sure?
A. Sure as guns--Gatling guns!
M. 'Sh! don't, child, it's schrecklich! Darling--you aren't mistaken?
A. As sure as g--batteries! [They jump up and dance a moment--then--]
M. (With distress.) But, Annie dear!--we can't talk German--and neither
A. (Sorrowfully.) I didn't think of that.
M. How cruel it is! What can we do?
A. (After a reflective pause, resolutely.) Margaret--we've got to.
M. Got to what?
A. Speak German.
M. Why, how, child?
A. (Contemplating her pamphlet with earnestness.) I can tell you one
thing. Just give me the blessed privilege: just hinsetzen Will Jackson
here in front of me, and I'll talk German to him as long as this
Meisterschaft holds out to burn.
M. (Joyously.) Oh, what an elegant idea! You certainly have got a mind
that's a mine of resources, if ever anybody had one.
A. I'll skin this Meisterschaft to the last sentence in it!
M. (With a happy idea.) Why Annie, it's the greatest thing in the world.
I've been all this time struggling and despairing over these few little
Meisterschaft primers: but as sure as you live, I'll have the whole
fifteen by heart before this time day after to-morrow. See if I don't.
A. And so will I; and I'll trowel in a layer of Ollendorff mush between
every couple of courses of Meisterschaft bricks. Juckhe!
M. Hoch! hoch! hoch!
A. Stoss an!
M. Juckhe! Wir werden gleich gute deutsche Schulerinnen werden! Juck--
M. Annie, when are they coming to see us? To-night?
M. No? Why not? When are they coming? What are they waiting for? The
idea! I never heard of such a thing! What do you--
A. (Breaking in.) Wait, wait, wait! give a body a chance. They have
M. Reasons?--what reasons?
A. Well, now, when you stop and think, they're royal good ones. They've
got to talk German when they come, haven't they? Of course. Well, they
don't know any German but Wie befinden Sie sich, and Haben Sie gut
geschlafen, and Vater unser, and Ich trinke lieber Bier als Wasser, and a
few little parlour things like that; but when it comes to talking, why,
they don't know a hundred and fifteen German words, put them all
M. Oh, I see.
A. So they're going to neither eat, sleep, smoke, nor speak the truth
till they've crammed home the whole fifteen Meisterschafts auswendig!
M. Noble hearts!
A. They've given themselves till day after to-morrow, half-past 7 P.M.,
and then they'll arrive here loaded.
M. Oh, how lovely, how gorgeous, how beautiful! Some think this world
is made of mud; I think it's made of rainbows. (Memorising.) Wenn irgend
moglich, so mochte ich noch heute Vormittag dort ankommen, da es mir sehr
daran gelegen ist--Annie, I can learn it just like nothing!
A. So can I. Meisterschaft's mere fun--I don't see how it ever could
have seemed difficult. Come! We can't be disturbed here; let's give
orders that we don't want anything to eat for two days; and are absent to
friends, dead to strangers, and not at home even to nougat peddlers--
M. Schon! and we'll lock ourselves into our rooms, and at the end of two
days, whosoever may ask us a Meisterschaft question shall get a
Meisterschaft answer--and hot from the bat!
BOTH. (Reciting in unison.) Ich habe einen Hut fur meinen Sohn, ein Paar
Handschuhe fur meinen Bruder, und einen Kamm fur mich selbst gekauft.
Enter Mrs. BLUMENTHAL, the Wirthin.
WIRTHIN. (Solus.) Ach, die armen Madchen, sie hassen die deutsche
Sprache, drum ist es ganz und gar unmoglich dass sie sie je lernen
konnen. Es bricht mir ja mein Herz ihre Kummer uber die Studien
anzusehen... Warum haben sie den Entchluss gefasst in ihren Zimmern ein
Paar Tagezu bleiben?... Ja--gewiss--das versteht sich; sie sind
entmuthigt--arme Kinder!(A knock at the door.) Herein!
Enter GRETCHEN with card.
GR. Er ist schon wieder da, und sagt dass er nur Sie sehen will. (Hands
the card.) Auch-WIRTHIN. Gott im Himmel--der Vater der Madchen? (Puts
the card in her pocket.) Er wunscht die Tochter nicht zu treffen? Ganz
recht; also, Du schweigst.
GR. Zu Befehl. WIRTHIN. Lass ihn hereinkommen.
GR. Ja, Frau Wirthin! [Exit GRETCHEN.]
WIRTHIN. (Solus.) Ah--jetzt muss ich ihm die Wahrheit offenbaren.
Enter Mr. STEPHENSON.
STEPHENSON. Good-morning, Mrs. Blumenthal--keep your seat, keep your
seat, please. I'm only here for a moment--merely to get your report, you
know. (Seating himself.) Don't want to see the girls--poor things,
they'd want to go home with me. I'm afraid I couldn't have the heart to
say no. How's the German getting along?
WIRTHIN. N-not very well; I was afraid you would ask me that. You see,
they hate it, they don't take the least interest in it, and there isn't
anything to incite them to an interest, you see. And so they can't talk
S. M-m. That's bad. I had an idea that they'd get lonesome, and have
to seek society; and then, of course, my plan would work, considering the
cast-iron conditions of it.
WIRTHIN. But it hasn't, so far. I've thrown nice company in their way--
I've done my very best, in every way I could think of--but it's no use;
they won't go out, and they won't receive anybody. And a body can't
blame them; they'd be tongue-tied--couldn't do anything with a German
conversation. Now, when I started to learn German--such poor German as I
know--the case was very different: my intended was a German. I was to
live among Germans the rest of my life; and so I had to learn. Why,
bless my heart! I nearly lost the man the first time he asked me--I
thought he was talking about the measles. They were very prevalent at
the time. Told him I didn't want any in mine. But I found out the
mistake, and I was fixed for him next time... Oh yes, Mr. Stephenson, a
sweetheart's a prime incentive.
S. (Aside.) Good soul! she doesn't suspect that my plan is a double
scheme--includes a speaking knowledge of German, which I am bound they
shall have, and the keeping them away from those two young fellows--
though if I had known that those boys were going off for a year's foreign
travel, I--however, the girls would never learn that language at home;
they're here, and I won't relent--they've got to stick the three months
out. (Aloud.) So they are making poor progress? Now tell me--will they
learn it--after a sort of fashion, I mean--in three months?
WIRTHIN. Well, now, I'll tell you the only chance I see. Do what I
will, they won't answer my German with anything but English; if that goes
on, they'll stand stock-still. Now I'm willing to do this: I'll
straighten everything up, get matters in smooth running order, and day
after to-morrow I'll go to bed sick, and stay sick three weeks.
S. Good! You are an angel? I see your idea. The servant girl--
WIRTHIN. That's it; that's my project. She doesn't know a word of
English. And Gretchen's a real good soul, and can talk the slates off a
roof. Her tongue's just a flutter-mill. I'll keep my room--just ailing
a little--and they'll never see my face except when they pay their little
duty-visits to me, and then I'll say English disorders my mind. They'll
be shut up with Gretchen's windmill, and she'll just grind them to
powder. Oh, they'll get a start in the language--sort of a one, sure's
you live. You come back in three weeks.
S. Bless you, my Retterin! I'll be here to the day! Get ye to your
sick-room--you shall have treble pay. (Looking at watch.) Good! I can
just catch my train. Leben Sie wohl! [Exit.]
WIRTHIN. Leben Sie wohl! mein Herr!
ACT II. SCENE I.
Time, a couple of days later. The girls discovered with their work and
ANNIE. Was fehlt der Wirthin?
MARGARET. Das weiss ich nicht. Sie ist schon vor zwei Tagen ins Bett
A. My! how fliessend you speak!
M. Danke schon--und sagte dass sie nicht wohl sei.
A. Good? Oh no, I don't mean that! no--only lucky for us--glucklich,
you know I mean because it'll be so much nicer to have them all to
M. Oh, naturlich! Ja! Dass ziehe ich durchaus vor. Do you believe
your Meisterschaft will stay with you, Annie?
A. Well, I know it is with me--every last sentence of it; and a couple
of hods of Ollendorff, too, for emergencies. Maybe they'll refuse to
deliver--right off--at first, you know--der Verlegenheit wegen--aber ich
will sie spater herausholen--when I get my hand in--und vergisst Du das
M. Sei nicht grob, Liebste. What shall we talk about first--when they
A. Well--let me see. There's shopping--and--all that about the trains,
you know--and going to church--and--buying tickets to London, and Berlin,
and all around--and all that subjunctive stuff about the battle in
Afghanistan, and where the American was said to be born, and so on--and--
and ah--oh, there's so many things--I don't think a body can choose
beforehand, because you know the circumstances and the atmosphere always
have so much to do in directing a conversation, especially a German
conversation, which is only a kind of an insurrection, anyway. I believe
it's best to just depend on Prov--(Glancing at watch, and gasping.)--
M. Oh, dear, I'm all of a tremble! Let's get something ready, Annie!
(Both fall nervously to reciting): Entschuldigen Sie, mein Herr, konnen
Sie mir vielleicht sagen wie ich nach dem norddeutschen Bahnhof gehe?
(They repeat it several times, losing their grip and mixing it all up.)
BOTH. Herein! Oh, dear! O der heilige--
GRETCHEN (Ruffled and indignant.) Entschuldigen Sie, meine gnadigsten
Fraulein, es sind zwei junge rasende Herren draussen, die herein wollen,
aber ich habe ihnen geschworen dass--(Handing the cards.)
M. Due liebe Zeit, they're here! And of course down goes my back hair!
Stay and receive them, dear, while I--(Leaving.)
A. I--alone? I won't! I'll go with you! (To GR.) Lassen Sie die
Herren naher treten; und sagen Sie ihnen dass wir gleich zuruckkommen
GR. (Solus.) Was! Sie freuen sich daruber? Und ich sollte wirklich
diese Blodsinnigen, dies grobe Rindvieh hereinlassen? In den hulflosen
Umstanden meiner gnadigen jungen Damen?--Unsinn! (Pause--thinking.)
Wohlan! Ich werde sie mal beschutzen! Sollte man nicht glauben, dass
sie einen Sparren zu viel hatten? (Tapping her skull significantly.) Was
sie mir doch Alles gesagt haben! Der Eine: Guten Morgen! wie geht es
Ihrem Herrn Schwiegervater? Du liebe Zeit! Wie sollte ich einen
Schwiegervater haben konnen! Und der Andere: 'Es thut mir sehr leid dass
Ihrer Herr Vater meinen Bruder nicht gesehen hat, als er doch gestern in
dem Laden des deutschen Kaufmannes war!' Potztausendhimmelsdonnerwetter!
Oh, ich war ganz rasend! Wie ich aber rief: 'Meine Herren, ich kenne Sie
nicht, und Sie kennen meinen Vater nicht, wissen Sie, denn er ist schon
lange durchgebrannt, und geht nicht beim Tage in einen Laden hinein,
wissen Sie--und ich habe keinen Schwiegervater, Gott sei Dank, werde auch
nie einen kriegen, werde uberhaupt, wissen Sie, ein solches Ding nie
haben, nie dulden, nie ausstehen: warum greifen Sie ein Madchen an, das
nur Unschuld kennt, das Ihnen nie Etwas zu Leide gethan hat?' Dann haben
sie sich beide die Finger in die Ohren gesteckt und gebetet:
'Allmachtiger Gott! Erbarme Dich unser?' (Pauses.) Nun, ich werde schon
diesen Schurken Einlass gonnen, aber ich werde ein Auge mit ihnen haben,
damit sie sich nicht wie reine Teufel geberden sollen. [Exit, grumbling
and shaking her head.]
Enter WILLIAM and GEORGE.
W. My land, what a girl! and what an incredible gift of gabble!--kind
of patent climate-proof compensation-balance self-acting automatic
Meisterschaft--touch her button, and br-r-r! away she goes!
GEO. Never heard anything like it; tongue journalled on ball-bearings!
I wonder what she said; seemed to be swearing, mainly.
W. (After mumbling Meisterschaft a while.) Look here, George, this is
awful--come to think--this project: we can't talk this frantic language.
GEO. I know it, Will, and it is awful; but I can't live without seeing
Margaret--I've endured it as long as I can. I should die if I tried to
hold out longer--and even German is preferable to death.
W. (Hesitatingly.) Well, I don't know; it's a matter of opinion.
GEO. (Irritably.) It isn't a matter of opinion either. German is
preferable to death.
W. (Reflectively.) Well, I don't know--the problem is so sudden--but I
think you may be right: some kinds of death. It is more than likely that
a slow, lingering--well, now, there in Canada in the early times a couple
of centuries ago, the Indians would take a missionary and skin him, and
get some hot ashes and boiling water and one thing and another, and by-
and-by that missionary--well, yes, I can see that, by-and-by, talking
German could be a pleasant change for him.
GEO. Why, of course. Das versteht sich; but you have to always think a
thing out, or you're not satisfied. But let's not go to bothering about
thinking out this present business; we're here, we're in for it; you are
as moribund to see Annie as I am to see Margaret; you know the terms:
we've got to speak German. Now stop your mooning and get at your
Meisterschaft; we've got nothing else in the world.
W. Do you think that'll see us through?
GEO. Why it's got to. Suppose we wandered out of it and took a chance
at the language on our own responsibility, where the nation would we be!
Up a stump, that's where. Our only safety is in sticking like wax to the
W. But what can we talk about?
GEO. Why, anything that Meisterschaft talks about. It ain't our affair.
W. I know; but Meisterschaft talks about everything.
GEO. And yet don't talk about anything long enough for it to get
embarrassing. Meisterschaft is just splendid for general conversation.
W. Yes, that's so; but it's so blamed general! Won't it sound foolish?
GEO. Foolish! Why, of course; all German sounds foolish.
W. Well, that is true; I didn't think of that.
GEO. Now, don't fool around any more. Load up; load up; get ready. Fix
up some sentences; you'll need them in two minutes new. [They walk up
and down, moving their lips in dumb-show memorising.]
W. Look here--when we've said all that's in the book on a topic, and
want to change the subject, how can we say so?--how would a German say
GEO. Well, I don't know. But you know when they mean 'Change cars,'
they say Umsteigen. Don't you reckon that will answer?
W. Tip-top! It's short and goes right to the point; and it's got a
business whang to it that's almost American. Umsteigen!--change subject!
--why, it's the very thing!
GEO. All right, then, you umsteigen--for I hear them coming.
Enter the girls.
A. to W. (With solemnity.) Guten Morgen, mein Herr, es freut mich sehr,
Sie zu sehen.
W. Guten Morgen, mein Fraulein, es freut mich sehr Sie zu sehen.
[MARGARET and GEORGE repeat the same sentences. Then, after an
embarrassing silence, MARGARET refers to her book and says:]
M. Bitte, meine Herren, setzen Sie sich.
THE GENTLEMEN. Danke schon.[The four seat themselves in couples, the
width of the stage apart, and the two conversations begin. The talk is
not flowing--at any rate at first; there are painful silences all along.
Each couple worry out a remark and a reply: there is a pause of silent
thinking, and then the other couple deliver themselves.]
W. Haben Sie meinen Vater in dem Laden meines Bruders nicht gesehen?
A. Nein, mein Herr, ich habe Ihren Herrn Vater in dem Laden Ihres Herrn
Bruders nicht gesehen.
GEO. Waren Sie gestern Abend im Koncert, oder im Theater?
M. Nein, ich war gestern Abend nicht im Koncert, noch im Theater, ich war
gestern Abend zu Hause.[General break-down--long pause.]
W. Ich store doch nicht etwa?
A. Sie storen mich durchaus nicht.
GEO. Bitte, lassen Sie sich nicht von mir storen.
M. Aber ich bitte Sie, Sie storen mich durchaus nicht.
W. (To both girls.) Wenn wir Sie storen so gehen wir gleich wieder.
A. O, nein! Gewiss, nein!
M. Im Gegentheil, es freut uns sehr, Sie zu sehen, alle beide.
GEO. Gott sei dank!
M. (Aside.) It's just lovely!
A. (Aside.) It's like a poem. [Pause.]
GEO. Auf English, change cars--oder subject.
BOTH GIRLS. Wie schon!
W. Wir haben uns die Freiheit genommen, bei Ihnen vorzusprechen.
A. Sie sind sehr gutig.
GEO. Wir wollten uns erkundigen, wie Sie sich befanden.
M. Ich bin Ihnen sehr verbunden--meine Schwester auch.
W. Meine Frau lasst sich Ihnen bestens empfehlen.
A. Ihre Frau?
W. (Examining his book.) Vielleicht habe ich mich geirrt. (Shows the
place.) Nein, gerade so sagt das Buch.
A. (Satisfied.) Ganz recht. Aber--
W. Bitte empfehlen Sie mich Ihrem Herrn Bruder.
A. Ah, das ist viel besser--viel besser. (Aside.) Wenigstens es ware
viel besser wenn ich einen Bruder hatte.
GEO. Wie ist es Ihnen gegangen, seitdem ich das Vergnugen hatte, Sie
anderswo zu sehen?
M. Danke bestens, ich befinde mich gewohnlich ziemlich wohl.
[GRETCHEN slips in with a gun, and listens.]
GEO. (Still to Margaret.) Befindet sich Ihre Frau Gemahlin wohl?
GR. (Raising hands and eyes.) Frau Gemahlin--heiliger Gott! [Is like to
betray herself with her smothered laughter, and glides out.]
M. Danke sehr, meine Frau ist ganz wohl. [Pause.]
W. Durfen wir vielleicht--umsteigen?
THE OTHERS. Gut!
GEO. (Aside.) I feel better, now. I'm beginning to catch on. (Aloud.)
Ich mochte gern morgen fruh einige Einkaufe machen und wurde Ihnen seht
verbunden sein, wenn Sie mir den Gefallen thaten, mir die Namen der
besten hiesigen Firmen aufzuschreiben.
M. (Aside.) How sweet!
W. (Aside.) Hang it, I was going to say that! That's one of the noblest
things in the book.
A. Ich mochte Ihnen gern begleiten, aber es ist mir wirklich heute
Morgen ganz unmoglich auszugehen. (Aside.) It's getting as easy as 9
times 7 is 46.
M. Sagen Sie dem Brieftrager, wenn's gefallig ist, er, mochte Ihnen den
eingeschriebenen Brief geben lassen.
W. Ich wurde Ihnen sehr verbunden sein, wenn Sie diese Schachtel fur
mich nach der Post tragen wurden, da mir sehr daran liegt einen meiner
Geschaftsfreunde in dem Laden des deutschen Kaufmanns heute Abend treffen
zu konnen. (Aside.) All down but nine; set'm up on the other alley!
A. Aber, Herr Jackson! Sie haven die Satze gemischt. Es ist
unbegreiflich wie Sie das haben thun konnen. Zwischen Ihrem ersten Theil
und Ihrem letzten Theil haben Sie ganz funfzig Seiten ubergeschlagen!
Jetzt bin ich ganz verloren. Wie kann man reden, wenn man seinen Platz
durchaus nicht wieder finden kann?
W. Oh, bitte, verzeihen Sie; ich habe das wirklich nicht beabsichtigt.
A. (Mollified.) Sehr wohl, lassen Sie gut sein. Aber thun Sie es nicht
wieder. Sie mussen ja doch einraumen, das solche Dinge unertragliche
Verwirrung mit sich fuhren.
[GRETCHEN slips in again with her gun.]
W. Unzweifelhaft haben Sic Recht, meine holdselige Landsmannin...
[As GEORGE gets fairly into the following, GRETCHEN draws a bead on him,
and lets drive at the close, but the gun snaps.]
GEO. Glauben Sie dass ich ein hubsches Wohnzimmer fur mich selbst und
ein kleines Schlafzimmer fur meinen Sohn in diesem Hotel fur funfzehn
Mark die Woche bekommen kann, oder, wurden Sie mir rathen, in einer
Privatwohnung Logis zu nehmen? (Aside.) That's a daisy!
GR. (Aside.) Schade! [She draws her charge and reloads.]
M. Glauben Sie nicht Sie werden besser thun bei diesem Wetter zu Hause
A. Freilich glaube ich, Herr Franklin, Sie werden sich erkalten, wenn
Sie bei diesem unbestandigen Wetter ohne Ueberrock ausgehen.
GR. (Relieved--aside.) So? Man redet von Ausgehen. Das klingt schon
W. (To A.) Wie theuer haben Sie das gekauft? [Indicating a part of her
A. Das hat achtzehn Mark gekostet.
W. Das ist sehr theuer.
GEO. Ja, obgleich dieser Stoff wunderschon ist und das Muster sehr
geschmackvoll und auch das Vorzuglichste dass es in dieser Art gibt, so
ist es doch furchtbat theuer fur einen solcehn Artikel.
M. (Aside.) How sweet is this communion of soul with soul!
A. Im Gegentheil, mein Herr, das ist sehr billig. Sehen Sie sich nur
die Qualitat an.
[They all examine it.]
GEO. Moglicherweise ist es das allerneuste das man in diesem Stoff hat;
aber das Muster gefallt mir nicht.
A. Welchen Hund haben Sie? Haben Sie den hubschen Hund des Kaufmanns,
oder den hasslichen Hund der Urgrossmutter des Lehrlings des
W. (Aside.) Oh, come, she's ringing in a cold deck on us: that's
GEO. Ich habe nicht den Hund des--des--(Aside.) Stuck! That's no
Meisterschaft; they don't play fair. (Aloud.) Ich habe nicht den Hund
des--des--In unserem Buche leider, gibt es keinen Hund; daher, ob ich
auch gern von solchen Thieren sprechen mochte, ist es mir doch unmoglich,
weil ich nicht vorbereitet bin. Entschuldigen Sie, meine Damen.
GR. (Aside) Beim Teufel, sie sind alle blodsinnig geworden. In meinem
Leben habe ich nie ein so narrisches, verfluchtes, verdammtes Gesprach
W. Bitte, umsteigen.
[Run the following rapidly through.]
M. (Aside.) Oh, I've flushed an easy batch! (Aloud.) Wurden Sie mir
erlauben meine Reisetasche heir hinzustellen?
GR. (Aside.) Wo ist seine Reisetasche? Ich sehe keine.
W. Bitte sehr.
GEO. Ist meine Reisetasche Ihnen im Wege?
GR. (Aside.) Und wo ist seine Reisetasche?
A. Erlauben Sie mir Sie von meiner Reisetasche zu bereien.
GR. (Aside.) Du Esel!
W. Ganz und gar nicht. (To Geo.) Es ist sehr schwul in diesem Coupe.
GR. (Aside.) Coupe.
GEO. Sie haben Recht. Erlauben Sie mir, gefalligst, das Fenster zu
offnen. Ein wenig Luft wurde uns gut thun.
M. Wir fahren sehr rasch.
A. Haben Sie den Namen jener Station gehort?
W. Wie lange halten wir auf dieser Station an?
GEO. Ich reise nach Dresden, Schaffner. Wo muss ich umsteigen?
GR. (Aside.) Sie sind ja alle ganz und gar verruckt. Man denke sich sie
glauben dass sie auf der Eisenbahn reisen.
GEO. (Aside, to William.) Now brace up; pull all your confidence
together, my boy, and we'll try that lovely goodbye business a flutter.
I think it's about the gaudiest thing in the book, if you boom it right
along and don't get left on a base. It'll impress the girls. (Aloud.)
Lassen Sie uns gehen: es ist schon sehr spat, und ich muss morgen ganz
GR. (Aside--grateful.) Gott sei Dank dass sie endlich gehen.
[Sets her gun aside.]
W. (To Geo.) Ich danke Ihnen hoflichst fur die Ehre die Sie mir
erweisen, aber ich kann nicht langer bleiben.
GEO. (To W.) Entschuldigen Sie mich gutigst, aber ich kann wirklich
nicht langer bleiben.
[GRETCHEN looks on stupefied.]
W. (To Geo.) Ich habe schon eine Einladung angenommen; ich kann wirklich
nicht langer bleiben.
[GRETCHEN fingers her gun again.]
GEO. (To W.) Ich muss gehen.
W. (To GEO.) Wie! Sie wollen schon wieder gehen? Sie sind ja eben
M. (Aside.) It's just music!
A. (Aside.) Oh, how lovely they do it!
GEO. (To W.) Also denken Sie doch noch nicht an's Gehen.
W. (To Geo.) Es thut mir unendlich leid, aber ich muss nach Hause.
Meine Frau wird sich wundern, was aus mir geworden ist.
GEO. (To W.) Meine Frau hat keine Ahnung wo ich bin: ich muss wirklich
W. (To Geo.) Dann will ich Sie nicht langer aufhalten; ich bedaure sehr
dass Sie uns einen so kurzen Besuch gemacht haben.
GEO. (To W.) Adieu--auf recht baldiges Wiedersehen.
[Great hand-clapping from the girls.]
M. (Aside.) Oh, how perfect! how elegant!
A. (Aside.) Per-fectly enchanting!
JOYOUS CHORUS. (All) Ich habe gehabt, du hast gehabt, er hat gehabt,
wir haben gehabt, ihr habet gehabt, sie haben gehabt.
[GRETCHEN faints, and tumbles from her chair, and the gun goes off with a
crash. Each girl, frightened, seizes the protecting hand of her
sweetheart. GRETCHEN scrambles up. Tableau.]
W. (Takes out some money--beckons Gretchen to him. George adds money to
the pile.) Hubsches Madchen (giving her some of the coins), hast Du etwas
GR. (Courtesy--aside.) Der Engel! (Aloud--impressively.) Ich habe
W. (More money.) Hast Du etwas gehort?
GR. Ich habe nichts gehort.
W. (More money.) Und morgen?
GR. Morgen--ware es nothig--bin ich taub und blind.
W. Unvergleichbares Madchen! Und (giving the rest of the money)
GR. (Deep courtesy--aside.) Erzengel! (Aloud.) Darnach, mein
gnadgister, betrachten Sie mich also taub--blind--todt!
ALL. (In chorus--with reverent joy.) Ich habe gehabt, du hast gehabt, er
hat gehabt, wir haben gehabt, ihr habet gehabt, sie haben gehabt!
Three weeks later.
Enter GRETCHEN, and puts her shawl on a chair. Brushing around with the
traditional feather-duster of the drama. Smartly dressed, for she is
GR. Wie hatte man sich das vorstellen konnen! In nur drei Wochen bin
ich schon reich geworden! (Gets out of her pocket handful after handful
of silver, which she piles on the table, and proceeds to repile and
count, occasionally ringing or biting a piece to try its quality.) Oh,
dass (with a sigh) die Frau Wirthin nur ewig krank bliebe!... Diese
edlen jungen Manner--sie sind ja so liebenswurdig! Und so fleissig!--
und so treu! Jeden Morgen kommen sie gerade um drei Viertel auf neun;
und plaudern und schwatzen, und plappern, und schnattern, die jungen
Damen auch; um Schlage zwolf nehmen sie Abschied; um Sclage eins kommen
sie schon wieder, und plauden und schwatzen und plappern und schnattern;
gerade um sechs Uhr nehmen sie wiederum Abschied; um halb acht kehren sie
noche'mal zuruck, und plaudern und schwatzen und plappern und schnattern
bis zehn Uhr, oder vielleicht ein Viertel nach, falls ihre Uhren nach
gehen (und stets gehen sie nach am Ende des Besuchs, aber stets vor
Beginn desselben), und zuweilen unterhalten sich die jungen Leute beim
Spazierengehen; und jeden Sonntag gehen sie dreimal in die Kirche; und
immer plaudern sie, und schwatzen und plappern und schnattern bis ihnen
die Zahne aus dem Munde fallen. Und ich? Durch Mangel an Uebung, ist
mir die Zunge mit Moos belegt worden! Freilich ist's mir eine dumme Zei
gewesen. Aber--um Gotteswillen, was geht das mir an? Was soll ich
daraus machen? Taglich sagt die Frau Wirthin, 'Gretchen' (dumb-show of
paying a piece of money into her hand), 'du bist eine der besten Sprach-
Lehrerinnen der Welt!' Act, Gott! Und taglich sagen die edlen jungen
Manner, 'Gretchen, liebes Kind' (money-paying again in dumb-show--three
coins), 'bleib' taub--blind--todt!' und so bleibe ich... Jetzt wird es
ungefahr neun Uhr sein; bald kommen sie vom Spaziergehen zuruck. Also,
es ware gut dass ich meinem eigenen Schatz einen Besuch abstatte und
[Dons her shawl. Exit. L.]
Enter WIRTHIN. R.
WIRTHIN. That was Mr. Stephenson's train that just came in. Evidently
the girls are out walking with Gretchen;--can't find them, and she
doesn't seem to be around. (A ring at the door.) That's him. I'll go
see. [Exit. R.]
Enter STEPHENSON and WIRTHIN. R.
S. Well, how does sickness seem to agree with you?
WIRTHIN. So well that I've never been out of my room since, till I heard
your train come in.
S. Thou miracle of fidelity! Now I argue from that, that the new plan
WIRTHIN. Working? Mr. Stephenson, you never saw anything like it in the
whole course of your life! It's absolutely wonderful the way it works.
S. Succeeds? No--you don't mean it.
WIRTHIN. Indeed I do mean it. I tell you, Mr. Stephenson, that plan was
just an inspiration--that's what it was. You could teach a cat German by
S. Dear me, this is noble news! Tell me about it.
WIRTHIN. Well, it's all Gretchen--ev-ery bit of it. I told you she was
a jewel. And then the sagacity of that child--why, I never dreamed it
was in her. Sh-she, 'Never you ask the young ladies a question--never
let on--just keep mum--leave the whole thing to me,' sh-she.
S. Good! And she justified, did she?
WIRTHIN. Well, sir, the amount of German gabble that that child crammed
into those two girls inside the next forty-eight hours--well, I was
satisfied! So I've never asked a question--never wanted to ask any.
I've just lain curled up there, happy. The little dears! they've flitted
in to see me a moment, every morning and noon and supper-time; and as
sure as I'm sitting here, inside of six days they were clattering German
to me like a house afire!
S. Sp-lendid, splendid!
WIRTHIN. Of course it ain't grammatical--the inventor of the language
can't talk grammatical; if the dative didn't fetch him the accusative
would; but it's German all the same, and don't you forget it!
S. Go on--go on--this is delicious news--
WIRTHIN. Gretchen, she says to me at the start, 'Never you mind about
company for 'em,' sh-she--'I'm company enough.' And I says, 'All right--
fix it your own way, child;' and that she was right is shown by the fact
that to this day they don't care a straw for any company but hers.
S. Dear me; why, it's admirable!
WIRTHIN. Well, I should think so! They just dote on that hussy--can't
seem to get enough of her. Gretchen tells me so herself. And the care
she takes of them! She tells me that every time there's a moonlight
night she coaxes them out for a walk; and if a body can believe her, she
actually bullies them off to church three times every Sunday!
S. Why, the little dev--missionary! Really, she's a genius!
WIRTHIN. She's a bud, I tell you! Dear me, how she's brought those
girls' health up! Cheeks?--just roses. Gait?--they walk on watch-
springs! And happy?--by the bliss in their eyes, you'd think they're in
Paradise! Ah, that Gretchen! Just you imagine our trying to achieve
S. You're right--every time. Those girls--why, all they'd have wanted
to know was what we wanted done, and then they wouldn't have done it--the
mischievous young rascals!
WIRTHIN. Don't tell me? Bless you, I found that out early--when I was
S. Well, I'm im-mensely pleased. Now fetch them down. I'm not afraid
now. They won't want to go home.
WIRTHIN. Home! I don't believe you could drag them away from Gretchen
with nine span of horses. But if you want to see them, put on your hat
and come along; they're out somewhere trapseing along with Gretchen.
S. I'm with you--lead on.
WIRTHIN. We'll go out the side door. It's towards the Anlage. [Exit
Enter GEORGE and MARGARET. R. Her head lies upon his shoulder, his arm
is about her waist; they are steeped in sentiment.
M. (Turning a fond face up at him.) Du Engel!
M. Oh, das Liedchen dass Du mir gewidmet hast--es ist so schon, so
wunderschon. Wie hatte ich je geahnt dass Du ein Poet warest!
GEO. Mein Schatzchen!--es ist mir lieb wenn Dir die Kleinigkeit
M. Ah, es ist mit der zartlichsten Musik gefullt--klingt ja so suss und
selig--wie das Flustern des Sommerwindes die Abenddammerung hindurch.
GEO. Du bist wie eine Blume! -So schon und hold und rein--Ich schau'
Dich an, und WehmuthSchleicht mir ins Herz hinein. Mir ist als ob ich
die HandeAufs Haupt Dir legen sollt', Betend, dass Gott Dich erhalte, So
rein und schon und hold.
M. A-ch! (Dumb-show sentimentalisms.) Georgie--
M. Warum kommen sie nicht?
GEO. Das weiss ich gar night. Sie waren--
M. Es wird spat. Wir mussen sie antreiben. Komm!
GEO. Ich glaube sie werden recht bald ankommen, aber--[Exit both. L.]
Enter GRETCHEN, R., in a state of mind. Slumps into a chair limp with
GR. Ach! was wird jetzt aus mir werden! Zufallig habe ich in der Ferne
den verdammten Papa gesehen!--und die Frau Wirthin auch! Oh, diese
Erscheinung--die hat mir beinahe das Leben genommen. Sie suchen die
jungen Damen--das weiss ich wenn sie diese und die jungen Herren zusammen
fanden--du heileger Gott! Wenn das gescheiht, waren wir Alle ganz und
gar verloren! Ich muss sie gleich finden, und ihr eine Warnung geben!
Enter ANNIE and WILL, R., posed like the former couple and sentimental.
A. Ich liebe Dich schon so sehr--Deiner edlen Natur wegen. Dass du dazu
auch ein Dichter bist!--ach, mein Leben ist ubermassig reich geworden!
Wer hatte sich doch einbilden konnen dass ich einen Mann zu einem so
wunderschonen Gedicht hatte begeistern konnen?
W. Liebste! Es ist nur eine Kleinigkeit.
A. Nein, nein, es ist ein echtes Wunder! Sage es noch einmal--ich flehe
W. Du bist wie eine Blume!--So schon und hold und rein--Ich schau' Dich
an, und WehmuthSchleicht mir ins Herz hinein. Mir ist als ob ich die
HandeAufs Haupt Dir legen sollt', Betend, dass Gott Dich erhalt, So rein
und schon und hold.
A. Ach, es ist himmlisch--einfach himmlisch. [Kiss.] Schreibt auch
W. Oh, ja--zuweilen.
A. Wie schon!
W. (Aside.) Smouches 'em, same as I do! It was a noble good idea to
play that little thing on her. George wouldn't ever think of that--
somehow he never had any invention.
A. (Arranging chairs.) Jetzt will ich bei Dir sitzen bleiben, und Du--
W. (They sit.) Ja--und ich--
A. Du wirst mir die alte Geschichte, die immer neu bleibt, noch wieder
W. Zum Beispiel, dass ich Dich liebe!
W. Ich--sie kommen!
Enter GEORGE and MARGARET.
A. Das macht nichts. Fortan! [GEORGE unties M.'s bonnet. She reties
his cravat--interspersings of love-pats, etc., and dumb show of love-
W. Ich liebe Dich.
A. Ach! Noch einmal!
W. Ich habe Dich vom Herzen lieb.
A. Ach! Abermals!
W. Bist Du denn noch nicht satt?
A. Nein! (The other couple sit down, and MARGARET begins a retying of
the cravat. Enter the WIRTHIN and STEPHENSON, he imposing silence with a
sign.) Mich hungert sehr, ich verhungre!
W. Oh, Du armes Kind! (Lays her head on his shoulder. Dumb-show
between STEPHENSON and WIRTHIN.) Und hungert es nicht mich? Du hast mir
nicht einmal gesagt--
A. Dass ich Dich liebe? Mein Eigener! (Frau WIRTHIN threatens to
faint--is supported by STEPHENSON.) Hore mich nur an: Ich liebe Dich,
ich liebe Dich--
GR. (Tears her hair.) Oh, dass ich in der Holle ware!
M. Ich liebe Dich, ich liebe Dich! Ah, ich bin so glucklich dass ich
nicht schlafen kann, nicht lesen kann, nicht reden kann, nicht--
A. Und ich! Ich bin auch so glucklich dass ich nicht speisen kann,
nicht studieren, arbeiten, denken, schreiben--
S. (To Wirthin--aside.) Oh, there isn't any mistake about it--
Gretchen's just a rattling teacher!
WIRTHIN. (To Stephenson--aside.) I'll skin her alive when I get my
hands on her!
M. Komm, alle Verliebte! [They jump up, join hands, and sing in chorus--]
Du, Du, wie ich Dich liebe, Du, Du, liebest auch mich! Die, die
S. (Stepping forward.) Well! [The girls throw themselves upon his neck
THE GIRLS. Why, father!
S. My darlings! [The young men hesitate a moment, they they add their
embrace, flinging themselves on Stephenson's neck, along with the girls.]
THE YOUNG MEN. Why, father!
S. (Struggling.) Oh, come, this is too thin!--too quick, I mean. Let
go, you rascals!
GEO. We'll never let go till you put us on the family list.
M. Right! hold to him!
A. Cling to him, Will! [GRETCHEN rushes in and joins the general
embrace, but is snatched away by the WIRTHIN, crushed up against the
wall, and threatened with destruction.]
S. (Suffocating.) All right, all right--have it your own way, you
quartette of swindlers!
W. He's a darling! Three cheers for papa!
EVERYBODY. (Except Stephenson, who bows with hand on heart) Hip--hip--
hip: hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!
GR. Der Tiger--ah-h-h!
WIRTHIN. Sei ruhig, you hussy!
S. Well, I've lost a couple of precious daughters, but I've gained a
couple of precious scamps to fill up the gap with; so it's all right.
I'm satisfied, and everybody's forgiven--[With mock threats at Gretchen.]
W. Oh, wir werden fur Dich sorgen--dur herrliches Gretchen!
GR. Danke schon!
M. (To Wirthin.) Und fur Sie auch; denn wenn Sie nicht so freundlich
gewesen waren, krank zu werden, wie waren wir je so glucklich geworden
WIRTHIN. Well, dear, I was kind, but I didn't mean it. But I ain't
sorry--not one bit--that I ain't. [Tableau.]
S. Come, now, the situation is full of hope, and grace, and tender
sentiment. If I had in the least poetic gift, I know I could improvise
under such an inspiration (each girl nudges her sweetheart) something
worthy to--to--Is there no poet among us? [Each youth turns solemnly his
back upon the other, and raises his hands in benediction over his
sweetheart's bowed head.]
BOTH YOUTHS AT ONCE. Mir ist als ob ich die HandeAufs Haupt Dir legen
sollt'--[They turn and look reproachfully at each other--the girls
contemplate them with injured surprise.
S. (Reflectively.) I think I've heard that before somewhere.
WIRTHIN. (Aside.) Why, the very cats in Germany know it!
 [EXPLANATORY.] I regard the idea of this play as a valuable
invention. I call it the Patent Universally-Applicable Automatically-
Adjustable Language Drama. This indicates that it is adjustable to any
tongue, and performable in any tongue. The English portions of the play
are to remain just as they are, permanently; but you change the foreign
portions to any language you please, at will. Do you see? You at once
have the same old play in a new tongue. And you can keep changing it
from language to language, until your private theatrical pupils have
become glib and at home in the speech of all nations. Zum Beispiel,
suppose we wish to adjust the play to the French tongue. First, we give
Mrs. Blumenthal and Gretchen French names. Next, we knock the German
Meisterschaft sentences out of the first scene, and replace them with
sentences from the French Meisterschaft--like this, for instance: 'Je
voudrais faire des emplettes ce matin; voulez-vous avoir l'obligeance de
venir avec moi chez le tailleur francais?' And so on. Wherever you find
German, replace it with French, leaving the English parts undisturbed.
When you come to the long conversation in the second act, turn to any
pamphlet of your French Meisterschaft, and shovel in as much French talk
on any subject as will fill up the gaps left by the expunged German.
Example--page 423, French Meisterschaft: On dirait qu'il va faire chaud.
J'ai chaud. J'ai extremement chaud. Ah! qu'il fait chaud! Il fait une
chaleur etouffante! L'air est brulant. Je meurs de chaleur. Il est
presque impossible de supporter la chaleur. Cela vous fait transpirer.
Mettons-nous a l'ombre. Il fait du vent. Il fait un vent froid. Il
fait un tres agreable pour se promener aujourd'hui. And so on, all the
way through. It is very easy to adjust the play to any desired language.
Anybody can do it.
MY BOYHOOD DREAMS
The dreams of my boyhood? No, they have not been realised. For all who
are old, there is something infinitely pathetic about the subject which
you have chosen, for in no greyhead's case can it suggest any but one
thing--disappointment. Disappointment is its own reason for its pain:
the quality or dignity of the hope that failed is a matter aside. The
dreamer's valuation of the thing lost--not another man's--is the only
standard to measure it by, and his grief for it makes it large and great
and fine, and is worthy of our reverence in all cases. We should
carefully remember that. There are sixteen hundred million people in the
world. Of these there is but a trifling number--in fact, only thirty-
eight millions--who can understand why a person should have an ambition
to belong to the French army; and why, belonging to it, he should be
proud of that; and why, having got down that far, he should want to go on
down, down, down till he struck the bottom and got on the General Staff;
and why, being stripped of this livery, or set free and reinvested with
his self-respect by any other quick and thorough process, let it be what
it might, he should wish to return to his strange serfage. But no
matter: the estimate put upon these things by the fifteen hundred and
sixty millions is no proper measure of their value: the proper measure,
the just measure, is that which is put upon them by Dreyfus, and is
cipherable merely upon the littleness or the vastness of the
disappointment which their loss cost him. There you have it: the measure
of the magnitude of a dream-failure is the measure of the disappointment
the failure cost the dreamer; the value, in others' eyes, of the thing
lost, has nothing to do with the matter. With this straightening out and
classification of the dreamer's position to help us, perhaps we can put
ourselves in his place and respect his dream--Dreyfus's, and the dreams
our friends have cherished and reveal to us. Some that I call to mind,
some that have been revealed to me, are curious enough; but we may not
smile at them, for they were precious to the dreamers, and their failure
has left scars which give them dignity and pathos. With this theme in my
mind, dear heads that were brown when they and mine were young together
rise old and white before me now, beseeching me to speak for them, and
most lovingly will I do it. Howells, Hay, Aldrich, Matthews, Stockton,
Cable, Remus--how their young hopes and ambitions come flooding back to
my memory now, out of the vague far past, the beautiful past, the
lamented past! I remember it so well--that night we met together--it was
in Boston, and Mr. Fiends was there, and Mr. Osgood, Ralph Keeler, and
Boyle O'Reilly, lost to us now these many years--and under the seal of
confidence revealed to each other what our boyhood dreams had been: reams
which had not as yet been blighted, but over which was stealing the grey
of the night that was to come--a night which we prophetically felt, and
this feeling oppressed us and made us sad. I remember that Howells's
voice broke twice, and it was only with great difficulty that he was able
to go on; in the end he wept. For he had hoped to be an auctioneer.
He told of his early struggles to climb to his goal, and how at last he
attained to within a single step of the coveted summit. But there
misfortune after misfortune assailed him, and he went down, and down, and
down, until now at last, weary and disheartened, he had for the present
given up the struggle and become the editor of the Atlantic Monthly.
This was in 1830. Seventy years are gone since, and where now is his
dream? It will never be fulfilled. And it is best so; he is no longer
fitted for the position; no one would take him now; even if he got it,
he would not be able to do himself credit in it, on account of his
deliberateness of speech and lack of trained professional vivacity;
he would be put on real estate, and would have the pain of seeing younger
and abler men intrusted with the furniture and other such goods--goods
which draw a mixed and intellectually low order of customers, who must be
beguiled of their bids by a vulgar and specialised humour and sparkle,
accompanied with antics. But it is not the thing lost that counts, but
only the disappointment the loss brings to the dreamer that had coveted
that thing and had set his heart of hearts upon it, and when we remember
this, a great wave of sorrow for Howells rises in our breasts, and we
wish for his sake that his fate could have been different. At that time
Hay's boyhood dream was not yet past hope of realisation, but it was
fading, dimming, wasting away, and the wind of a growing apprehension was
blowing cold over the perishing summer of his life. In the pride of his
young ambition he had aspired to be a steamboat mate; and in fancy saw
himself dominating a forecastle some day on the Mississippi and dictating
terms to roustabouts in high and wounding terms. I look back now, from
this far distance of seventy years, and note with sorrow the stages of
that dream's destruction. Hay's history is but Howells's, with
differences of detail. Hay climbed high toward his ideal; when success
seemed almost sure, his foot upon the very gang-plank, his eye upon the
capstan, misfortune came and his fall began. Down--down--down--ever
down: Private Secretary to the President; Colonel in the field; Charge
d'Affaires in Paris; Charge d'Affaires in Vienna; Poet; Editor of the
Tribune; Biographer of Lincoln; Ambassador to England; and now at last
there he lies--Secretary of State, Head of Foreign Affairs. And he has
fallen like Lucifer, never to rise again. And his dream--where now is
his dream? Gone down in blood and tears with the dream of the
auctioneer. And the young dream of Aldrich--where is that? I remember
yet how he sat there that night fondling it, petting it; seeing it recede
and ever recede; trying to be reconciled and give it up, but not able yet
to bear the thought; for it had been his hope to be a horse-doctor. He
also climbed high, but, like the others, fell; then fell again, and yet
again, and again and again. And now at last he can fall no further. He
is old now, he has ceased to struggle, and is only a poet. No one would
risk a horse with him now. His dream is over. Has any boyhood dream ever
been fulfilled? I must doubt it. Look at Brander Matthews. He wanted
to be a cowboy. What is he to-day? Nothing but a professor in a
university. Will he ever be a cowboy? It is hardly conceivable. Look
at Stockton. What was Stockton's young dream? He hoped to be a
barkeeper. See where he has landed. Is it better with Cable? What was
Cable's young dream? To be ring-master in the circus, and swell around
and crack the whip. What is he to-day? Nothing but a theologian and
novelist. And Uncle Remus--what was his young dream? To be a buccaneer.
Look at him now. Ah, the dreams of our youth, how beautiful they are,
and how perishable! The ruins of these might-have-beens, how pathetic!
The heart-secrets that were revealed that night now so long vanished, how
they touch me as I give them voice! Those sweet privacies, how they
endeared us to each other! We were under oath never to tell any of these
things, and I have always kept that oath inviolate when speaking with
persons whom I thought not worthy to hear them. Oh, our lost Youth--God
keep its memory green in our hearts! for Age is upon us, with the
indignity of its infirmities, and Death beckons!
TO THE ABOVE OLD PEOPLE
Sleep! for the Sun that scores another Day
Against the Tale allotted You to stay,
Reminding You, is Risen, and now
Serves Notice--ah, ignore it while You stay!
The chill Wind blew, and those who stood before
The Tavern murmured, 'Having drunk his Score,
Why tarries He with empty Cup? Behold,
The Wine of Youth once poured, is poured no more
'Come, leave the Cup, and on the Winter's Snow
Your Summer Garment of Enjoyment throw:
Your Tide of Life is ebbing fast, and it,
Exhausted once, for You no more shall flow.'
While yet the Phantom of false Youth was mine,
I heard a Voice from out the Darkness whine,
'O Youth, O whither gone? Return,
And bathe my Age in thy reviving Wine.'
In this subduing Draught of tender green
And kindly Absinth, with its wimpling Sheen
Of dusky half-lights, let me drown
The haunting Pathos of the Might-Have-Been.
For every nickeled Joy, marred and brief,
We pay some day its Weight in golden Grief
Mined from our Hearts. Ah, murmur not--
From this one-sided Bargain dream of no Relief!
The Joy of Life, that streaming through their Veins
Tumultuous swept, falls slack--and wanes
The Glory in the Eye--and one by one
Life's Pleasures perish and make place for Pains.
Whether one hide in some secluded Nook--
Whether at Liverpool or Sandy Hook--
'Tis one. Old Age will search him out--and He--
He--He--when ready will know where to look.
From Cradle unto Grave I keep a House
OF Entertainment where may drowse
Bacilli and kindred Germs--or feed--or breed
Their festering Species in a deep Carouse.
Think--in this battered Caravanserai,
Whose Portals open stand all Night and Day,
How Microbe after Microbe with his Pomp
Arrives unasked, and comes to stay.
Our ivory Teeth, confessing to the Lust
Of masticating, once, now own Disgust
Of Clay-Plug'd Cavities--full soon our Snags
Are emptied, and our Mouths are filled with Dust.
Our Gums forsake the Teeth and tender grow,
And fat, like over-riped Figs--we know
The Sign--the Riggs' Disease is ours, and we
Must list this Sorrow, add another Woe;
Our Lungs begin to fail and soon we Cough,
And chilly Streaks play up our Backs, and off
Our fever'd Foreheads drips an icy Sweat--
We scoffered before, but now we may not scoff.
Some for the Bunions that afflict us prate
Of Plasters unsurpassable, and hate
To Cut a corn--ah cut, and let the Plaster go,
Nor murmur if the Solace come too late.
Some for the Honours of Old Age, and some
Long for its Respite from the Hum
And Clash of sordid Strife--O Fools,
The Past should teach them what's to Come:
Lo, for the Honours, cold Neglect instead!
For Respite, disputatious Heirs a Bed
Of Thorns for them will furnish. Go,
Seek not Here for Peace--but Yonder--with the Dead.
For whether Zal and Rustam heed this Sign,
And even smitten thus, will not repine,
Let Zal and Rustam shuffle as they may,
The Fine once levied they must Cash the Fine.
O Voices of the Long Ago that were so dear!
Fall'n Silent, now, for many a Mould'ring Year,
O whither are ye flown? Come back,
And break my heart, but bless my grieving ear.
Some happy Day my Voice will Silent fall,
And answer not when some that love it call:
Be glad for Me when this you note--and think
I've found the Voices lost, beyond the Pall.
So let me grateful drain the Magic Bowl
That medicines hurt Minds and on the Soul
The Healing of its Peace doth lay--if then
Death claim me--Welcome be his Dole!
SANNA, SWEDEN, September 15th.
Private.--If you don't know what Riggs's Disease of the Teeth is, the
dentist will tell you. I've had it--and it is more than interesting.
Fearing that there might be some mistake, we submitted a proof of this
article to the (American) gentlemen named in it, and asked them to
correct any errors of detail that might have crept in among the facts.
They reply with some asperity that errors cannot creep in among facts
where there are no facts for them to creep in among; and that none are
discoverable in this article, but only baseless aberrations of a
disordered mind. They have no recollection of any such night in Boston,
nor elsewhere; and in their opinion there was never any such night. They
have met Mr. Twain, but have had the prudence not to intrust any
privacies to him--particularly under oath; and they think they now see
that this prudence was justified, since he has been untrustworthy enough
to even betray privacies which had no existence. Further, they think it
a strange thing that Mr. Twain, who was never invited to meddle with
anybody's boyhood dreams but his own, has been so gratuitously anxious to
see that other people's are placed before the world that he has quite
lost his head in his zeal and forgotten to make any mention of his own at
all. Provided we insert this explanation, they are willing to let his
article pass; otherwise they must require its suppression in the interest
P.S.--These replies having left us in some perplexity, and also in some
fear lest they distress Mr. Twain if published without his privity, we
judged it but fair to submit them to him and give him an opportunity to
defend himself. But he does not seem to be troubled, or even aware that
he is in a delicate situation. He merely says: 'Do not worry about those
former young people. They can write good literature, but when it comes
to speaking the truth, they have not had my training.--MARK TWAIN.'
The last sentence seems obscure, and liable to an unfortunate
construction. It plainly needs refashioning, but we cannot take the
responsibility of doing it.--EDITOR.
OLIVIA SUSAN CLEMENS
DIED AUGUST 18, 1896; AGED 24
In a fair valley--oh, how long ago, how long ago!--
Where all the broad expanse was clothed in vines,
And fruitful fields and meadows starred with flowers,
And clear streams wandered at their idle will;
And still lakes slept, their burnished surfaces
A dream of painted clouds, and soft airs
Went whispering with odorous breath,
And all was peace--in that fair vale,
Shut from the troubled world, a nameless hamlet drowsed.
Hard by, apart, a temple stood;
And strangers from the outer world
Passing, noted it with tired eyes,
And seeing, saw it not:
A glimpse of its fair form--an answering momentary thrill--
And they passed on, careless and unaware.
They could not know the cunning of its make;
They could not know the secret shut up in its heart;
Only the dwellers of the hamlet knew;
They knew that what seemed brass was gold;
What marble seemed, was ivory;
The glories that enriched the milky surfaces--
The trailing vines, and interwoven flowers,
And tropic birds a-wing, clothed all in tinted fires--
They knew for what they were, not what they seemed:
Encrustings all of gems, not perishable splendours of the brush.
They knew the secret spot where one must stand--
They knew the surest hour, the proper slant of sun--
To gather in, unmarred, undimmed,
The vision of the fane in all its fairy grace,
A fainting dream against the opal sky.
And more than this. They knew
That in the temple's inmost place a spirit dwelt,
Made all of light!
For glimpses of it they had caught
Beyond the curtains when the priests
That served the altar came and went.
All loved that light and held it dear
That had this partial grace;
But the adoring priests alone who lived
By day and night submerged in its immortal glow
Knew all its power and depth, and could appraise the loss
If it should fade and fail and come no more.
All this was long ago--so long ago!
The light burned on; and they that worshipped it,
And they that caught its flash at intervals and held it dear,
Contented lived in its secure possession. Ah,
How long ago it was!
And then when they
Were nothing fearing, and God's peace was in the air,
And none was prophesying harm,
The vast disaster fell:
Where stood the temple when the sun went down
Was vacant desert when it rose again!
Ah yes! 'Tis ages since it chanced!
So long ago it was,
That from the memory of the hamlet-folk the Light has passed--
They scarce believing, now, that once it was,
Or if believing, yet not missing it,
And reconciled to have it gone.
Not so the priests! Oh, not so
The stricken ones that served it day and night,
Adoring it, abiding in the healing of its peace:
They stand, yet, where erst they stood
Speechless in that dim morning long ago;
And still they gaze, as then they gazed,
And murmur, 'It will come again;
It knows our pain--it knows--it knows--
Ah surely it will come again.
LAKE LUCERNE, August 18, 1897.
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