Their Silver Wedding Journey, v2
William Dean Howells
Part 2 out of 3
selfish face, as he turned it on the young people, expressed a mingled
grudge and greed that was very curious.
Stoller's courage, which had come and gone at moments throughout, rose at
the end, and while they lingered at the table well on to the hour of ten,
he said, in the sort of helpless offence he had with Burnamy, "What's the
reason we can't all go out tomorrow to that old castle you was talking
"To Engelhaus? I don't know any reason, as far as I'm concerned,"
answered Burnamy; but he refused the initiative offered him, and Stoller
was obliged to ask March:
"You heard about it?"
"Yes." General Triscoe was listening, and March added for him, "It was
the hold of an old robber baron; Gustavus Adolphus knocked it down, and
it's very picturesque, I believe."
"It sounds promising," said the general. "Where is it?"
"Isn't to-morrow our mineral bath?" Mrs. March interposed between her
husband and temptation.
"No; the day after. Why, it's about ten or twelve miles out on the old
postroad that Napoleon took for Prague."
"Napoleon knew a good road when he saw it," said the general, and he
alone of the company lighted a cigar. He was decidedly in favor of the
excursion, and he arranged for it with Stoller, whom he had the effect of
using for his pleasure as if he were doing him a favor. They were six,
and two carriages would take them: a two-spanner for four, and a one-
spanner for two; they could start directly after dinners and get home in
time for supper.
Stoller asserted himself to say: "That's all right, then. I want you to
be my guests, and I'll see about the carriages." He turned to Burnamy:
"Will you order them?"
"Oh," said the young fellow, with a sort of dryness, "the portier will
"I don't understand why General Triscoe was so willing to accept.
Surely, he can't like that man!" said Mrs. March to her husband in their
"Oh, I fancy that wouldn't be essential. The general seems to me,
capable of letting even an enemy serve his turn. Why didn't you speak,
if you didn't want to go?"
"Why didn't you?"
"I wanted to go."
"And I knew it wouldn't do to let Miss Triscoe go alone; I could see that
she wished to go."
"Do you think Burnamy did?"
"He seemed rather indifferent. And yet he must have realized that he
would be with Miss Triscoe the whole afternoon."
If Burnamy and Miss Triscoe took the lead in the one-spanner, and the
others followed in the two-spanner, it was not from want of politeness on
the part of the young people in offering to give up their places to each
of their elders in turn. It would have been grotesque for either March
or Stoller to drive with the girl; for her father it was apparently no
question, after a glance at the more rigid uprightness of the seat in the
one-spanner; and he accepted the place beside Mrs. March on the back seat
of the two-spanner without demur. He asked her leave to smoke, and then
he scarcely spoke to her. But he talked to the two men in front of him
almost incessantly, haranguing them upon the inferiority of our
conditions and the futility of our hopes as a people, with the effect of
bewildering the cruder arrogance of Stoller, who could have got on with
Triscoe's contempt for the worthlessness of our working-classes, but did
not know what to do with his scorn of the vulgarity and venality of their
employers. He accused some of Stoller's most honored and envied
capitalists of being the source of our worst corruptions, and guiltier
than the voting-cattle whom they bought and sold.
"I think we can get rid of the whole trouble if we go at it the right
way," Stoller said, diverging for the sake of the point he wished to
bring in. "I believe in having the government run on business
principles. They've got it here in Carlsbad, already, just the right
sort of thing, and it works. I been lookin' into it, and I got this
young man, yonder"--he twisted his hand in the direction of the one-
spanner! "to help me put it in shape. I believe it's going to make our
folks think, the best ones among them. Here!" He drew a newspaper out
of his pocket, folded to show two columns in their full length, and
handed it to Triscoe, who took it with no great eagerness, and began to
run his eye over it. "You tell me what you think of that. I've put it
out for a kind of a feeler. I got some money in that paper, and I just
thought I'd let our people see how a city can be managed on business
He kept his eye eagerly upon Triscoe, as if to follow his thought while
he read, and keep him up to the work, and he ignored the Marches so
entirely that they began in self-defence to talk with each other.
Their carriage had climbed from Carlsbad in long irregular curves to the
breezy upland where the great highroad to Prague ran through fields of
harvest. They had come by heights and slopes of forest, where the
serried stems of the tall firs showed brown and whitish-blue and grew
straight as stalks of grain; and now on either side the farms opened
under a sky of unwonted cloudlessness. Narrow strips of wheat and rye,
which the men were cutting with sickles, and the women in red bodices
were binding, alternated with ribands of yellowing oats and grass, and
breadths of beets and turnips, with now and then lengths of ploughed
land. In the meadows the peasants were piling their carts with heavy
rowen, the girls lifting the hay on the forks, and the men giving
themselves the lighter labor of ordering the load. From the upturned
earth, where there ought to have been troops of strutting crows, a few
sombre ravens rose. But they could not rob the scene of its gayety; it
smiled in the sunshine with colors which vividly followed the slope of
the land till they were dimmed in the forests on the far-off mountains.
Nearer and farther, the cottages and villages shone in the valleys, or
glimmered through the veils of the distant haze. Over all breathed the
keen pure air of the hills, with a sentiment of changeless eld, which
charmed March, back to his boyhood, where he lost the sense of his wife's
presence, and answered her vaguely. She talked contentedly on in the
monologue to which the wives of absent-minded men learn to resign
themselves. They were both roused from their vagary by the voice of
General Triscoe. He was handing back the folded newspaper to Stoller,
and saying, with a queer look at him over his glasses, "I should like to
see what your contemporaries have to say to all that."
"Well, sir," Stoller returned, "maybe I'll have the chance to show you.
They got my instructions over there to send everything to me."
Burnamy and Miss Triscoe gave little heed to the landscape as landscape.
They agreed that the human interest was the great thing on a landscape,
after all; but they ignored the peasants in the fields and meadows, who
were no more to them than the driver on the box, or the people in the
two-spanner behind. They were talking of the hero and heroine of a novel
they had both read, and he was saying, "I suppose you think he was justly
"Punished?" she repeated. "Why, they got married, after all!"
"Yes, but you could see that they were not going to be happy."
"Then it seems to me that she was punished; too."
"Well, yes; you might say that. The author couldn't help that."
Miss Triscoe was silent a moment before she said:
"I always thought the author was rather hard on the hero. The girl was
"Why," said Burnamy, "I supposed that women hated anything like deception
in men too much to tolerate it at all. Of course, in this case, he
didn't deceive her; he let her deceive herself; but wasn't that worse?"
"Yes, that was worse. She could have forgiven him for deceiving her."
"He might have had to do that. She wouldn't have minded his fibbing
outright, so much, for then it wouldn't have seemed to come from his
nature. But if he just let her believe what wasn't true, and didn't say
a word to prevent her, of course it was worse. It showed something weak,
something cowardly in him."
Burnamy gave a little cynical laugh. "I suppose it did. But don't you
think it's rather rough, expecting us to have all the kinds of courage?"
"Yes, it is," she assented. "That is why I say she was too exacting.
But a man oughn't to defend him."
Burnamy's laugh had more pleasure in it, now. "Another woman might?"
"No. She might excuse him."
He turned to look back at the two-spanner; it was rather far behind, and
he spoke to their driver bidding him go slowly till it caught up with
them. By the time it did so, they were so close to it that they could
distinguish the lines of its wandering and broken walls. Ever since they
had climbed from the wooded depths of the hills above Carlsbad to the
open plateau, it had shown itself in greater and greater detail. The
detached mound of rock on which it stood rose like an island in the midst
of the plain, and commanded the highways in every direction.
"I believe," Burnamy broke out, with a bitterness apparently relevant to
the ruin alone, "that if you hadn't required any quarterings of nobility
from him, Stoller would have made a good sort of robber baron. He's a
robber baron by nature, now, and he wouldn't have any scruple in levying
tribute on us here in our one-spanner, if his castle was in good repair
and his crossbowmen were not on a strike. But they would be on a strike,
probably, and then he would lock them out, and employ none but non-union
If Miss Triscoe understood that he arraigned the morality as well as the
civility of his employer, she did not take him more seriously than he
meant, apparently, for she smiled as she said, "I don't see how you can
have anything to do with him, if you feel so about him."
"Oh," Burnamy replied in kind, "he buys my poverty and not my will. And
perhaps if I thought better of myself, I should respect him more."
"Have you been doing something very wicked?"
"What should you have to say to me, if I had?" he bantered.
"Oh, I should have nothing at all to say to you," she mocked back.
They turned a corner of the highway, and drove rattling through a village
street up a long slope to the rounded hill which it crowned. A church at
its base looked out upon an irregular square.
A gaunt figure of a man, with a staring mask, which seemed to hide a
darkling mind within, came out of the church, and locked it behind him.
He proved to be the sacristan, and the keeper of all the village's claims
upon the visitors' interest; he mastered, after a moment, their wishes in
respect to the castle, and showed the path that led to it; at the top, he
said, they would find a custodian of the ruins who would admit them.
The, path to the castle slanted upward across the shoulder of the hill,
to a certain point, and there some rude stone steps mounted more
directly. Wilding lilac-bushes, as if from some forgotten garden,
bordered the ascent; the chickory opened its blue flower; the clean
bitter odor of vermouth rose from the trodden turf; but Nature spreads no
such lavish feast in wood or field in the Old World as she spoils us with
in the New; a few kinds, repeated again and again, seem to be all her
store, and man must make the most of them. Miss Triscoe seemed to find
flowers enough in the simple bouquet which Burnamy put together for her.
She took it, and then gave it back to him, that she might have both hands
for her skirt, and so did him two favors.
A superannuated forester of the nobleman who owns the ruin opened a gate
for the party at the top, and levied a tax of thirty kreutzers each upon
them, for its maintenance. The castle, by his story, had descended from
robber sire to robber son, till Gustavus knocked it to pieces in the
sixteenth century; three hundred years later, the present owner restored
it; and now its broken walls and arches, built of rubble mixed with
brick, and neatly pointed up with cement, form a ruin satisfyingly
permanent. The walls were not of great extent, but such as they were
they enclosed several dungeons and a chapel, all underground, and a
cistern which once enabled the barons and their retainers to water their
wine in time of siege.
From that height they could overlook the neighboring highways in every
direction, and could bring a merchant train to, with a shaft from a
crossbow, or a shot from an arquebuse, at pleasure. With General
Triscoe's leave, March praised the strategic strength of the unique
position, which he found expressive of the past, and yet suggestive of
the present. It was more a difference in method than anything else that
distinguished the levy of customs by the authorities then and now. What
was the essential difference, between taking tribute of travellers
passing on horseback, and collecting dues from travellers arriving by
steamer? They did not pay voluntarily in either case; but it might be
proof of progress that they no longer fought the customs officials.
"Then you believe in free trade," said Stoller, severely.
"No. I am just inquiring which is the best way of enforcing the tariff
"I saw in the Paris Chronicle, last night," said Miss Triscoe, "that
people are kept on the docks now for hours, and ladies cry at the way
their things are tumbled over by the inspectors."
"It's shocking," said Mrs. March, magisterially.
"It seems to be a return to the scenes of feudal times," her husband
resumed. "But I'm glad the travellers make no resistance. I'm opposed
to private war as much as I am to free trade."
"It all comes round to the same thing at last," said General Triscoe.
"Your precious humanity--"
"Oh, I don't claim it exclusively," March protested.
"Well, then, our precious humanity is like a man that has lost his road.
He thinks he is finding his way out, but he is merely rounding on his
course, and coming back to where he started."
Stoller said, "I think we ought to make it so rough for them, over here,
that they will come to America and set up, if they can't stand the
"Oh, we ought to make it rough for them anyway," March consented.
If Stoller felt his irony, he did not know what to answer. He followed
with his eyes the manoeuvre by which Burnamy and Miss Triscoe eliminated
themselves from the discussion, and strayed off to another corner of the
ruin, where they sat down on the turf in the shadow of the wall; a thin,
upland breeze drew across them, but the sun was hot. The land fell away
from the height, and then rose again on every side in carpetlike fields
and in long curving bands, whose parallel colors passed unblended into
the distance. "I don't suppose," Burnamy said, "that life ever does much
better than this, do you? I feel like knocking on a piece of wood and
saying 'Unberufen.' I might knock on your bouquet; that's wood."
"It would spoil the flowers," she said, looking down at them in her belt.
She looked up and their eyes met.
"I wonder," he said, presently, "what makes us always have a feeling of
dread when we are happy?"
"Do you have that, too?" she asked.
"Yes. Perhaps it's because we know that change must come, and it must be
for the worse."
"That must be it. I never thought of it before, though."
"If we had got so far in science that we could predict psychological
weather, and could know twenty-four hours ahead when a warm wave of bliss
or a cold wave of misery was coming, and prepare for smiles and tears
beforehand--it may come to that."
"I hope it won't. I'd rather not know when I was to be happy; it would
spoil the pleasure; and wouldn't be any compensation when it was the
A shadow fell across them, and Burnamy glanced round to see Stoller
looking down at them, with a slant of the face that brought his aquiline
profile into relief. "Oh! Have a turf, Mr. Stoller?" he called gayly up
"I guess we've seen about all there is," he answered. "Hadn't we better
be going?" He probably did not mean to be mandatory.
"All right," said Burnamy, and he turned to speak to Miss Triscoe again
without further notice of him.
They all descended to the church at the foot of the hill where the weird
sacristan was waiting to show them the cold, bare interior, and to
account for its newness with the fact that the old church had been burnt,
and this one built only a few years before. Then he locked the doors
after them, and ran forward to open against their coming the chapel of
the village cemetery, which they were to visit after they had fortified
themselves for it at the village cafe.
They were served by a little hunch-back maid; and she told them who lived
in the chief house of the village. It was uncommonly pretty; where all
the houses were picturesque, and she spoke of it with respect as the
dwelling of a rich magistrate who was clearly the great man of the place.
March admired the cat which rubbed against her skirt while she stood and
talked, and she took his praises modestly for the cat; but they wrought
upon the envy, of her brother so that he ran off to the garden, and came
back with two fat, sleepy-eyed puppies which he held up, with an arm
across each of their stomachs, for the acclaim of the spectators.
"Oh, give him something! "Mrs. March entreated. "He's such a dear."
"No, no! I am not going to have my little hunchback and her cat outdone,"
he refused; and then he was about to yield.
"Hold on!" said Stoller, assuming the host. "I got the change."
He gave the boy a few kreutzers, when Mrs. March had meant her husband to
reward his naivete with half a florin at least; but he seemed to feel
that he had now ingratiated himself with the ladies, and he put himself
in charge of them for the walk to the cemetery chapel; he made Miss
Triscoe let him carry her jacket when she found it warm.
The chapel is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and the Jesuit brother who
designed it, two or three centuries ago, indulged a devotional fancy in
the triangular form of the structure and the decorative details.
Everything is three-cornered; the whole chapel, to begin with, and then
the ark of the high altar in the middle of it, and each of the three
side-altars. The clumsy baroque taste of the architecture is a German
version of the impulse that was making Italy fantastic at the time; the
carving is coarse, and the color harsh and unsoftened by years, though it
is broken and obliterated in places.
The sacristan said that the chapel was never used for anything but
funeral services, and he led the way out into the cemetery, where he
wished to display the sepultural devices. The graves here were planted
with flowers, and some were in a mourning of black pansies; but a space
fenced apart from the rest held a few neglected mounds, overgrown with
weeds and brambles: This space, he said, was for suicides; but to March
it was not so ghastly as the dapper grief of certain tombs in consecrated
ground where the stones had photographs of the dead on porcelain let into
them. One was the picture of a beautiful young woman, who had been the
wife of the local magnate; an eternal love was vowed to her in the
inscription, but now, the sacristan said, with nothing of irony, the
magnate was married again, and lived in that prettiest house of the
village. He seemed proud of the monument, as the thing worthiest the
attention of the strangers, and be led them with less apparent
hopefulness to the unfinished chapel representing a Gethsemane, with the
figure of Christ praying and his apostles sleeping. It is a subject much
celebrated in terra-cotta about Carlsbad, and it was not a novelty to his
party; still, from its surroundings, it had a fresh pathos, and March
tried to make him understand that they appreciated it. He knew that his
wife wished the poor man to think he had done them a great favor in
showing it; he had been touched with all the vain shows of grief in the
poor, ugly little place; most of all he had felt the exile of those who
had taken their own lives and were parted in death from the more patient
sufferers who had waited for God to take them. With a curious, unpainful
self-analysis he noted that the older members of the party, who in the
course of nature were so much nearer death, did not shrink from its
shows; but the young girl and the young man had not borne to look on
them, and had quickly escaped from the place, somewhere outside the gate.
Was it the beginning, the promise of that reconciliation with death which
nature brings to life at last, or was it merely the effect, or defect, of
ossified sensibilities, of toughened nerves?
"That is all?" he asked of the spectral sacristan.
"That is all," the man said, and March felt in his pocket for a coin
commensurate to the service he had done them; it ought to be something
"No, no," said Stoller, detecting his gesture. "Your money a'n't good."
He put twenty or thirty kreutzers into the hand of the man, who regarded
them with a disappointment none the less cruel because it was so patient.
In France, he would have been insolent; in Italy, he would have frankly
said it was too little; here, he merely looked at the money and whispered
a sad "Danke."
Burnamy and Miss Triscoe rose from the grassy bank outside where they
were sitting, and waited for the elders to get into their two-spanner.
"Oh, have I lost my glove in there?" said Mrs. March, looking at her
hands and such parts of her dress as a glove might cling to.
"Let me go and find it for you," Burnamy entreated.
"Well," she consented, and she added, "If the sacristan has found it,
give him something for me something really handsome, poor fellow."
As Burnamy passed her, she let him see that she had both her gloves, and
her heart yearned upon him for his instant smile of intelligence: some
men would have blundered out that she had the lost glove in her hand. He
came back directly, saying, "No, he didn't find it."
She laughed, and held both gloves up. "No wonder! I had it all the
time. Thank you ever so much."
"How are we going to ride back?" asked Stoller.
Burnamy almost turned pale; Miss Triscoe smiled impenetrably. No one
else spoke, and Mrs. March said, with placid authority, "Oh, I think the
way we came, is best."
"Did that absurd creature," she apostrophized her husband as soon as she
got him alone after their arrival at Pupp's, "think I was going to let
him drive back with Agatha?"
"I wonder," said March, "if that's what Burnamy calls her now?"
"I shall despise him if it isn't."
Burnamy took up his mail to Stoller after the supper which they had eaten
in a silence natural with two men who have been off on a picnic together.
He did not rise from his writing-desk when Burnamy came in, and the young
man did not sit down after putting his letters before him. He said, with
an effort of forcing himself to speak at once, "I have looked through the
papers, and there is something that I think you ought to see."
"What do you mean?" said Stoller.
Burnamy laid down three or four papers opened to pages where certain
articles were strongly circumscribed in ink. The papers varied, but
their editorials did not, in purport at least. Some were grave and some
were gay; one indignantly denounced; another affected an ironical
bewilderment; the third simply had fun with the Hon. Jacob Stoller.
They all, however, treated his letter on the city government of Carlsbad
as the praise of municipal socialism, and the paper which had fun with
him gleefully congratulated the dangerous classes on the accession of the
Honorable Jacob to their ranks.
Stoller read the articles, one after another, with parted lips and
gathering drops of perspiration on his upper lip, while Burnamy waited on
foot. He flung the papers all down at last. "Why, they're a pack of
fools! They don't know what they're talking about! I want city
government carried on on business principles, by the people, for the
people. I don't care what they say! I know I'm right, and I'm going
ahead on this line if it takes all--" The note of defiance died out of
his voice at the sight of Burnamy's pale face. "What's the matter with
"There's nothing the matter with me."
"Do you mean to tell me it is"--he could not bring himself to use the
word--"what they say?"
"I suppose," said Burnamy, with a dry mouth, "it's what you may call
Stoller jumped from his seat. "And you knew it when you let me do it?"
"I supposed you knew what you were about."
"It's a lie!" Stoller advanced upon him, wildly, and Burnamy took a step
"Look out!" shouted Burnamy. "You never asked me anything about it.
You told me what you wanted done, and I did it. How could I believe you
were such an ignoramus as not to know the a b c of the thing you were
talking about?" He added, in cynical contempt, "But you needn't worry.
You can make it right with the managers by spending a little more money
than you expected to spend."
Stoller started as if the word money reminded him of something. "I can
take care of myself, young man. How much do I owe you?"
"Nothing!" said Burnamy, with an effort for grandeur which failed him.
The next morning as the Marches sat over their coffee at the Posthof, he
came dragging himself toward them with such a haggard air that Mrs. March
called, before he reached their table, "Why, Mr. Burnamy, what's the
He smiled miserably. "Oh, I haven't slept very well. May I have my
coffee with you? I want to tell you something; I want you to make me.
But I can't speak till the coffee comes. Fraulein!" he besought a
waitress going off with a tray near them. "Tell Lili, please, to bring
me some coffee--only coffee."
He tried to make some talk about the weather, which was rainy, and the
Marches helped him, but the poor endeavor lagged wretchedly in the
interval between the ordering and the coming of the coffee. "Ah, thank
you, Lili," he said, with a humility which confirmed Mrs. March in her
instant belief that he had been offering himself to Miss Triscoe and been
rejected. After gulping his coffee, he turned to her: "I want to say
good-by. I'm going away."
"From Carlsbad?" asked Mrs. March with a keen distress.
The water came into his eyes. "Don't, don't be good to me, Mrs. March!
I can't stand it. But you won't, when you know."
He began to speak of Stoller, first to her, but addressing himself more
and more to the intelligence of March, who let him go on without
question, and laid a restraining hand upon his wife when he saw her about
to prompt him. At the end, "That's all," he said, huskily, and then he
seemed to be waiting for March's comment. He made none, and the young
fellow was forced to ask, "Well, what do you think, Mr. March?"
"What do you think yourself?"
"I think, I behaved badly," said Burnamy, and a movement of protest from
Mrs. March nerved him to add: "I could make out that it was not my
business to tell him what he was doing; but I guess it was; I guess I
ought to have stopped him, or given him a chance to stop himself. I
suppose I might have done it, if he had treated me decently when I turned
up a day late, here; or hadn't acted toward me as if I were a hand in his
buggy-works that had come in an hour after the whistle sounded."
He set his teeth, and an indignant sympathy shone in Mrs. March's eyes;
but her husband only looked the more serious.
He asked gently, "Do you offer that fact as an explanation, or as a
Burnamy laughed forlornly. "It certainly wouldn't justify me. You might
say that it made the case all the worse for me." March forbore to say,
and Burnamy went on. "But I didn't suppose they would be onto him so
quick, or perhaps at all. I thought--if I thought anything--that it
would amuse some of the fellows in the office, who know about those
things." He paused, and in March's continued silence he went on. "The
chance was one in a hundred that anybody else would know where he had
"But you let him take that chance," March suggested.
"Yes, I let him take it. Oh, you know how mixed all these things are!"
Of course I didn't think it out at the time. But I don't deny that I had
a satisfaction in the notion of the hornets' nest he was poking his thick
head into. It makes me sick, now, to think I had. I oughtn't to have
let him; he was perfectly innocent in it. After the letter went,
I wanted to tell him, but I couldn't; and then I took the chances too.
I don't believe be could have ever got forward in politics; he's too
honest--or he isn't dishonest in the right way. But that doesn't let me
out. I don't defend myself! I did wrong; I behaved badly. But I've
suffered for it.
I've had a foreboding all the time that it would come to the worst, and
felt like a murderer with his victim when I've been alone with Stoller.
When I could get away from him I could shake it off, and even believe
that it hadn't happened. You can't think what a nightmare it's been!
Well, I've ruined Stoller politically, but I've ruined myself, too. I've
spoiled my own life; I've done what I can never explain to--to the people
I want to have believe in me; I've got to steal away like the thief I am.
Good-by!" He jumped to his feet, and put out his hand to March, and then
to Mrs. March.
"Why, you're not going away now!" she cried, in a daze.
"Yes, I am. I shall leave Carlsbad on the eleven-o'clock train. I don't
think I shall see you again." He clung to her hand. "If you see General
Triscoe--I wish you'd tell them I couldn't--that I had to--that I was
called away suddenly--Good-by!" He pressed her hand and dropped it, and
mixed with the crowd. Then he came suddenly back, with a final appeal to
March: "Should you--do you think I ought to see Stoller, and--and tell
him I don't think I used him fairly?"
"You ought to know--" March began.
But before he could say more, Burnamy said, "You're right," and was off
"Oh, how hard you were with him, my dear!" Mrs. March lamented.
"I wish," he said, "if our boy ever went wrong that some one would be as
true to him as I was to that poor fellow. He condemned himself; and he
was right; he has behaved very badly."
"You always overdo things so, when you act righteously!"
"Oh, yes, I know what you will say. But I should have tempered justice
Her nerves tingled with pity for Burnamy, but in her heart she was glad
that her husband had had strength to side with him against himself, and
she was proud of the forbearance with which he had done it. In their
earlier married life she would have confidently taken the initiative on
all moral questions. She still believed that she was better fitted for
their decision by her Puritan tradition and her New England birth, but
once in a great crisis when it seemed a question of their living, she had
weakened before it, and he, with no such advantages, had somehow met the
issue with courage and conscience. She could not believe he did so by
inspiration, but she had since let him take the brunt of all such issues
and the responsibility. He made no reply, and she said: "I suppose
you'll admit now there was always something peculiar in the poor boy's
manner to Stoller."
He would confess no more than that there ought to have been. "I don't
see how he could stagger through with that load on his conscience.
I'm not sure I like his being able to do so."
She was silent in the misgiving which she shared with him, but she said:
"I wonder how far it has gone with him and Miss Triscoe?"
"Well, from his wanting you to give his message to the general in the
"Don't laugh! It's wicked to laugh! It's heartless!" she cried,
hysterically. "What will he do, poor fellow?"
"I've an idea that he will light on his feet, somehow. But, at any rate,
he's doing the right thing in going to own up to Stoller."
"Oh, Stoller! I care nothing for Stoller! Don't speak to me of
Burnamy fond the Bird of Prey, as he no longer had the heart to call him,
walking up and down in his room like an eagle caught in a trap. He
erected his crest fiercely enough, though, when the young fellow came in
at his loudly shouted, "Herein!"
"What do you want?" he demanded, brutally.
This simplified Burnamy's task, while it made it more loathsome. He
answered not much less brutally, "I want to tell you that I think I used
you badly, that I let you betray yourself, that I feel myself to blame."
He could have added, "Curse you!" without change of tone.
Stoller sneered in a derision that showed his lower teeth like a dog's
when he snarls. "You want to get back!"
"No," said Burnamy, mildly, and with increasing sadness as he spoke.
"I don't want to get back. Nothing would induce me. I'm going away on
the first train."
"Well, you're not!" shouted Stoller. "You've lied me into this--"
"Look out!" Burnamy turned white.
"Didn't you lie me into it, if you let me fool myself, as you say?"
Stoller pursued, and Burnamy felt himself weaken through his wrath.
"Well, then, you got to lie me out of it. I been going over the damn
thing, all night--and you can do it for me. I know you can do it," he
gave way in a plea that was almost a whimper. "Look here! You see if
you can't. I'll make it all right with you. I'll pay you whatever you
think is right--whatever you say."
"Oh!" said Burnamy, in otherwise unutterable disgust.
"You kin," Stoller went on, breaking down more and more into his adopted
Hoosier, in the stress of his anxiety. "I know you kin, Mr. Burnamy."
He pushed the paper containing his letter into Burnamy's hands, and
pointed out a succession of marked passages. "There! And here! And
this place! Don't you see how you could make out that it meant something
else, or was just ironical?" He went on to prove how the text might be
given the complexion he wished, and Burnamy saw that he had really
thought it not impossibly out. "I can't put it in writing as well as
you; but I've done all the work, and all you've got to do is to give it
some of them turns of yours. I'll cable the fellows in our office to say
I've been misrepresented, and that my correction is coming. We'll get it
into shape here together, and then I'll cable that. I don't care for the
money. And I'll get our counting-room to see this scoundrel"--he picked
up the paper that had had fun with him--"and fix him all right, so that
he'll ask for a suspension of public opinion, and--You see, don't you?"
The thing did appeal to Burnamy. If it could be done, it would enable
him to make Stoller the reparation he longed to make him more than
anything else in the world. But he heard himself saying, very gently,
almost tenderly, "It might be done, Mr. Stoller. But I couldn't do it.
It wouldn't be honest--for me."
"Yah!" yelled Stoller, and he crushed the paper into a wad and flung it
into Burnamy's face. "Honest, you damn humbug! You let me in for this,
when you knew I didn't mean it, and now you won't help me out because it
a'n't honest! Get out of my room, and get out quick before I--"
He hurled himself toward Burnamy, who straightened himself, with "If you
dare! "He knew that he was right in refusing; but he knew that Stoller
was right, too, and that he had not meant the logic of what he had said
in his letter, and of what Burnamy had let him imply. He braved
Stoller's onset, and he left his presence untouched, but feeling as
little a moral hero as he well could.
General Triscoe woke in the bad humor of an elderly man after a day's
pleasure, and in the self-reproach of a pessimist who has lost his point
of view for a time, and has to work back to it. He began at the belated
breakfast with his daughter when she said, after kissing him gayly, in
the small two-seated bower where they breakfasted at their hotel when
they did not go to the Posthof, "Didn't you have a nice time, yesterday,
She sank into the chair opposite, and beamed at him across the little
iron table, as she lifted the pot to pour out his coffee.
"What do you call a nice time?" he temporized, not quite able to resist
"Well, the kind of time I had."
"Did you get rheumatism from sitting on the grass? I took cold in that
old church, and the tea at that restaurant must have been brewed in a
brass kettle. I suffered all night from it. And that ass from
"Oh, poor papa! I couldn't go with Mr. Stoller alone, but I might have
gone in the two-spanner with him and let you have Mr. or Mrs. March in
"I don't know. Their interest in each other isn't so interesting to
other people as they seem to think."
"Do you feel that way really, papa? Don't you like their being so much
in love still?"
"At their time of life? Thank you it's bad enough in young people."
The girl did not answer; she appeared altogether occupied in pouring out
her father's coffee.
He tasted it, and then he drank pretty well all of it; but he said, as he
put his cup down, "I don't know what they make this stuff of. I wish I
had a cup of good, honest American coffee."
"Oh, there's nothing like American food!" said his daughter, with so much
conciliation that he looked up sharply.
But whatever he might have been going to say was at least postponed by
the approach of a serving-maid, who brought a note to his daughter. She
blushed a little at sight of it, and then tore it open and read:
"I am going away from Carlsbad, for a fault of my own which forbids me to
look you in the face. If you wish to know the worst of me, ask Mrs.
March. I have no heart to tell you."
Agatha read these mystifying words of Burnamy's several times over in a
silent absorption with them which left her father to look after himself,
and he had poured out a second cup of coffee with his own hand, and was
reaching for the bread beside her before she came slowly back to a sense
of his presence.
"Oh, excuse me, papa," she said, and she gave him the butter. "Here's a
very strange letter from Mr. Burnamy, which I think you'd better see."
She held the note across the table to him, and watched his face as he
After he had read it twice, he turned the sheet over, as people do with
letters that puzzle them, in the vain hope of something explanatory on
the back. Then he looked up and asked: "What do you suppose he's been
"I don't believe he's been doing anything. It's something that Mr.
Stoller's been doing to him."
"I shouldn't infer that from his own words. What makes you think the
trouble is with Stoller?"
"He said--he said yesterday--something about being glad to be through
with him, because he disliked him so much he was always afraid of
wronging him. And that proves that now Mr. Stoller has made him believe
that he's done wrong, and has worked upon him till he does believe it."
"It proves nothing of the kind," said the general, recurring to the note.
After reading it again, he looked keenly at her: "Am I to understand that
you have given him the right to suppose you would want to know the worst
--or the best of him?"
The girl's eyes fell, and she pushed her knife against her plate. She
"Then confound his impudence!" the general broke out. "What business
has he to write to you at all about this?"
"Because he couldn't go away without it!" she returned; and she met her
father's eye courageously. "He had a right to think we were his friends;
and if he has done wrong, or is in disgrace any way, isn't it manly of
him to wish to tell us first himself?"
Her father could not say that it was not. But he could and did say, very
sceptically: "Stuff! Now, see here, Agatha: what are you going to do?"
"I'm going to see Mrs. March, and then--"
"You mustn't do anything of the kind, my dear," said her father, gently.
"You've no right to give yourself away to that romantic old goose." He
put up his hand to interrupt her protest. "This thing has got to be gone
to the bottom of. But you're not to do it. I will see March myself. We
must consider your dignity in this matter--and mine. And you may as well
understand that I'm not going to have any nonsense. It's got to be
managed so that it can't be supposed we're anxious about it, one way or
the other, or that he was authorized to write to you in this way--"
"No, no! He oughtn't to have done so. He was to blame. He couldn't
have written to you, though, papa--"
"Well, I don't know why. But that's no reason why we should let it be
understood that he has written to you. I will see March; and I will
manage to see his wife, too. I shall probably find them in the reading-
room at Pupp's, and--"
The Marches were in fact just coming in from their breakfast at the
Posthof, and he met them at the door of Pupp's, where they all sat down
on one of the iron settees of the piazza, and began to ask one another
questions of their minds about the pleasure of the day before, and to
beat about the bush where Burnamy lurked in their common consciousness.
Mrs. March was not able to keep long from starting him. "You knew," she
said, "that Mr. Burnamy had left us?"
"Left! Why?" asked the general.
She was a woman of resource, but in a case like this she found it best to
trust her husband's poverty of invention. She looked at him, and he
answered for her with a promptness that made her quake at first, but
finally seemed the only thing, if not the best thing: "He's had some
trouble with Stoller." He went on to tell the general just what the
At the end the general grunted as from an uncertain mind. "You think
he's behaved badly."
"I think he's behaved foolishly--youthfully. But I can understand how
strongly he was tempted. He could say that he was not authorized to stop
Stoller in his mad career."
At this Mrs. March put her hand through her husband's arm.
"I'm not so sure about that," said the general.
March added: "Since I saw him this morning, I've heard something that
disposes me to look at his performance in a friendlier light. It's
something that Stoller told me himself; to heighten my sense of Burnamy's
wickedness. He seems to have felt that I ought to know what a serpent I
was cherishing in my bosom," and he gave Triscoe the facts of Burnamy's
injurious refusal to help Stoller put a false complexion on the opinions
he had allowed him ignorantly to express.
The general grunted again. "Of course he had to refuse, and he has
behaved like a gentleman so far. But that doesn't justify him in having
let Stoller get himself into the scrape."
"No," said March. "It's a tough nut for the casuist to try his tooth on.
And I must say I feel sorry for Stoller."
Mrs. March plucked her hand from his arm. "I don't, one bit. He was
thoroughly selfish from first to last. He has got just what he
"Ah, very likely," said her husband. "The question is about Burnamy's
part in giving him his deserts; he had to leave him to them, of course."
The general fixed her with the impenetrable glitter of his eye-glasses,
and left the subject as of no concern to him. "I believe," he said,
rising, "I'll have a look at some of your papers," and he went into the
"Now," said Mrs. March, "he will go home and poison that poor girl's
mind. And, you will have yourself to thank for prejudicing him against
"Then why didn't you do it yourself, my dear?" he teased; but he was
really too sorry for the whole affair, which he nevertheless enjoyed as
an ethical problem.
The general looked so little at the papers that before March went off for
his morning walk he saw him come out of the reading-room and take his way
down the Alte Wiese. He went directly back to his daughter, and reported
Burnamy's behavior with entire exactness. He dwelt upon his making the
best of a bad business in refusing to help Stoller out of it,
dishonorably and mendaciously; but he did not conceal that it was a bad
"Now, you know all about it," he said at the end, "and I leave the whole
thing to you. If you prefer, you can see Mrs. March. I don't know but
I'd rather you'd satisfy yourself--"
"I will not see Mrs. March. Do you think I would go back of you in that
way? I am satisfied now."
Instead of Burnamy, Mrs. Adding and her son now breakfasted with the
Marches at the Posthof, and the boy was with March throughout the day a
good deal. He rectified his impressions of life in Carlsbad by March's
greater wisdom and experience, and did his best to anticipate his
opinions and conform to his conclusions. This was not easy, for
sometimes he could not conceal from himself, that March's opinions were
whimsical, and his conclusions fantastic; and he could not always conceal
from March that he was matching them with Kenby's on some points, and
suffering from their divergence. He came to join the sage in his early
visit to the springs, and they walked up and down talking; and they went
off together on long strolls in which Rose was proud to bear him company.
He was patient of the absences from which he was often answered, and he
learned to distinguish between the earnest and the irony of which March's
replies seemed to be mixed. He examined him upon many features of German
civilization, but chiefly upon the treatment of women in it; and upon
this his philosopher was less satisfactory than he could have wished him
to be. He tried to excuse his trifling as an escape from the painful
stress of questions which he found so afflicting himself; but in the
matter of the woman-and-dog teams, this was not easy. March owned that
the notion of their being yokemates was shocking; but he urged that it
was a stage of evolution, and a distinct advance upon the time when women
dragged the carts without the help of the dogs; and that the time might
not be far distant when the dogs would drag the carts without the help of
Rose surmised a joke, and he tried to enjoy it, but inwardly he was
troubled by his friend's apparent acceptance of unjust things on their
picturesque side. Once as they were sauntering homeward by the brink of
the turbid Eger, they came to a man lying on the grass with a pipe in his
mouth, and lazily watching from under his fallen lids the cows grazing by
the river-side, while in a field of scraggy wheat a file of women were
reaping a belated harvest with sickles, bending wearily over to clutch
the stems together and cut them with their hooked blades. "Ah,
delightful!" March took off his hat as if to salute the pleasant sight.
"But don't you think, Mr. March," the boy ventured, "that the man had
better be cutting the wheat, and letting the women watch the cows?"
"Well, I don't know. There are more of them; and he wouldn't be half so
graceful as they are, with that flow of their garments, and the sway of
their aching backs." The boy smiled sadly, and March put his hand on his
shoulder as they walked on. "You find a lot of things in Europe that
need putting right, don't you, Rose?"
"Yes; I know it's silly."
"Well, I'm not sure. But I'm afraid it's useless. You see, these old
customs go such a way back, and are so grounded in conditions. We think
they might be changed, if those who rule could be got to see how cruel
and ugly they are; but probably they couldn't. I'm afraid that the
Emperor of Austria himself couldn't change them, in his sovereign
plenitude of power. The Emperor is only an old custom too, and he's as
much grounded in the conditions as any." This was the serious way Rose
felt that March ought always to talk; and he was too much grieved to
laugh when he went on. "The women have so much of the hard work to do,
over here, because the emperors need the men for their armies. They
couldn't let their men cut wheat unless it was for their officers'
horses, in the field of some peasant whom it would ruin."
If Mrs. March was by she would not allow him to work these paradoxes for
the boy's confusion. She said the child adored him, and it was a
sacrilege to play with his veneration. She always interfered to save
him, but with so little logic though so much justice that Rose suffered a
humiliation from her championship, and was obliged from a sense of self-
respect to side with the mocker. She understood this, and magnanimously
urged it as another reason why her husband should not trifle with Rose's
ideal of him; to make his mother laugh at him was wicked.
"Oh, I'm not his only ideal," March protested. "He adores Kenby too, and
every now and then he brings me to book with a text from Kenby's gospel."
Mrs. March caught her breath. "Kenby! Do you really think, then, that
"Oh, hold on, now! It isn't a question of Mrs. Adding; and I don't say
Rose had an eye on poor old Kenby as a step-father. I merely want you to
understand that I'm the object of a divided worship, and that when I'm
off duty as an ideal I don't see why I shouldn't have the fun of making
Mrs. Adding laugh. You can't pretend she isn't wrapped up in the boy.
You've said that yourself."
"Yes, she's wrapped up in him; she'd give her life for him; but she is so
light. I didn't suppose she was so light; but it's borne in upon me more
They were constantly seeing Rose and his mother, in the sort of abeyance
the Triscoes had fallen into. One afternoon the Addings came to Mrs.
March's room to look from her windows at a parade of bicyclers' clubs
from the neighboring towns. The spectacle prospered through its first
half-hour, with the charm which German sentiment and ingenuity, are able
to lend even a bicycle parade. The wheelmen and wheelwomen filed by on
machines wreathed with flowers and ribbons, and decked with streaming
banners. Here and there one sat under a moving arch of blossoms, or in a
bower of leaves and petals, and they were all gay with their club
costumes and insignia. In the height of the display a sudden mountain
shower gathered and broke upon them. They braved it till it became a
drenching down-pour; then they leaped from their machines and fled to any
shelter they could find, under trees and in doorways. The men used their
greater agility to get the best places, and kept them; the women made no
appeal for them by word or look, but took the rain in the open as if they
expected nothing else.
Rose watched the scene with a silent intensity which March interpreted.
"There's your chance, Rose. Why don't you go down and rebuke those
Rose blushed and shrank away without answer, and Mrs. March promptly
attacked her husband in his behalf. "Why don't you go and rebuke them
Well, for one thing, there isn't any conversation in my phrase-book
Between an indignant American Herr and a Party of German Wheelmen who
have taken Shelter from the Rain and are keeping the Wheelwomen out in
the Wet." Mrs. Adding shrieked her delight, and he was flattered into
going on. "For another thing, I think it's very well for you ladies to
realize from an object-lesson of this sort what spoiled children of our
civilization you are. It ought to make you grateful for your
"There is something in that," Mrs. Adding joyfully consented.
"Oh, there is no civilization but ours," said Mrs. March, in a burst of
vindictive patriotism. "I am more and more convinced of it the longer I
stay in Europe."
"Perhaps that's why we like to stay so long in Europe; it strengthens us
in the conviction that America is the only civilized country in the
world," said March.
The shower passed as quickly as it had gathered, and the band which it
had silenced for a moment burst forth again in the music which fills the
Carlsbad day from dawn till dusk. Just now, it began to play a pot
pourri of American airs; at the end some unseen Americans under the trees
below clapped and cheered.
"That was opportune of the band," said March. "It must have been a
telepathic impulse from our patriotism in the director. But a pot pourri
of American airs is like that tablet dedicating the American Park up here
on the Schlossberg, which is signed by six Jews and one Irishman. The
only thing in this medley that's the least characteristic or original is
Dixie; and I'm glad the South has brought us back into the Union."
"You don't know one note from another, my dear," said his wife.
"I know the 'Washington Post.'"
"And don't you call that American?"
"Yes, if Sousa is an American name; I should have thought it was
"Now that sounds a little too much like General Triscoe's pessimism,"
said Mrs. March; and she added: "But whether we have any national
melodies or not, we don't poke women out in the rain and keep them
"No, we certainly don't," he assented, with such a well-studied effect of
yielding to superior logic that Mrs. Adding screamed for joy.
The boy had stolen out of the room, and he said, "I hope Rose isn't
acting on my suggestion?"
"I hate to have you tease him, dearest," his wife interposed.
"Oh, no," the mother said, laughing still, but with a note of tenderness
in her laugh, which dropped at last to a sigh. "He's too much afraid of
lese-majesty, for that. But I dare say he couldn't stand the sight.
"He's beautiful!" said Mrs. March.
"He's good," the mother admitted. "As good as the day's long. He's
never given me a moment's trouble--but he troubles me. If you can
"Oh, I do understand!" Mrs. March returned. "By his innocence, you mean.
That is the worst of children. Their innocence breaks our hearts and
makes us feel ourselves such dreadful old things."
"His innocence, yes," pursued Mrs. Adding, "and his ideals." She began
to laugh again. "He may have gone off for a season of meditation and
prayer over the misbehavior of these bicyclers. His mind is turning that
way a good deal lately. It's only fair to tell you, Mr. March, that he
seems to be giving up his notion of being an editor. You mustn't be
"I shall be sorry," said the editor. "But now that you mention it, I
think I have noticed that Rose seems rather more indifferent to
periodical literature. I supposed he might simply have exhausted his
questions--or my answers."
"No; it goes deeper than that. I think it's Europe that's turned his
mind in the direction of reform. At any rate he thinks now he will be a
"Really! What kind of one? Not religious, I hope?"
"No. His reform has a religious basis, but its objects are social.
I don't make it out, exactly; but I shall, as soon as Rose does. He
tells me everything, and sometimes I don't feel equal to it, spiritually
or even intellectually."
"Don't laugh at him, Mrs. Adding!" Mrs. March entreated.
"Oh, he doesn't mind my laughing," said the mother, gayly. Rose came
shyly back into the room, and she said, "Well, did you rebuke those bad
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
Back to Full Books