THEIR SILVER WEDDING JOURNEY
By William Dean Howells
At the first station where the train stopped, a young German bowed
himself into the compartment with the Marches, and so visibly resisted an
impulse to smoke that March begged him to light his cigarette. In the
talk which this friendly overture led to between them he explained that
he was a railway architect, employed by the government on that line of
road, and was travelling officially. March spoke of Nuremberg; he owned
the sort of surfeit he had suffered from its excessive mediaevalism, and
the young man said it was part of the new imperial patriotism to cherish
the Gothic throughout Germany; no other sort of architecture was
permitted in Nuremberg. But they would find enough classicism at Ansbach,
he promised them, and he entered with sympathetic intelligence into their
wish to see this former capital when March told him they were going to
stop there, in hopes of something typical of the old disjointed Germany
of the petty principalities, the little paternal despotisms now extinct.
As they talked on, partly in German and partly in English, their purpose
in visiting Ansbach appeared to the Marches more meditated than it was.
In fact it was somewhat accidental; Ansbach was near Nuremberg; it was
not much out of the way to Holland. They took more and more credit to
themselves for a reasoned and definite motive, in the light of their
companion's enthusiasm for the place, and its charm began for them with
the drive from the station through streets whose sentiment was both
Italian and French, and where there was a yellowish cast in the gray of
the architecture which was almost Mantuan. They rested their
sensibilities, so bruised and fretted by Gothic angles and points,
against the smooth surfaces of the prevailing classicistic facades of the
houses as they passed, and when they arrived at their hotel, an old
mansion of Versailles type, fronting on a long irregular square planted
with pollard sycamores, they said that it might as well have been Lucca.
The archway and stairway of the hotel were draped with the Bavarian
colors, and they were obscurely flattered to learn that Prince Leopold,
the brother of the Prince-Regent of the kingdom, had taken rooms there,
on his way to the manoeuvres at Nuremberg, and was momently expected with
his suite. They realized that they were not of the princely party,
however, when they were told that he had sole possession of the
dining-room, and they went out to another hotel, and had their supper in
keeping delightfully native. People seemed to come there to write their
letters and make up their accounts, as well as to eat their suppers; they
called for stationery like characters in old comedy, and the clatter of
crockery and the scratching of pens went on together; and fortune offered
the Marches a delicate reparation for their exclusion from their own
hotel in the cold popular reception of the prince which they got back
just in time to witness. A very small group of people, mostly women and
boys, had gathered to see him arrive, but there was no cheering or any
sign of public interest. Perhaps he personally merited none; he looked a
dull, sad man, with his plain, stubbed features; and after he had mounted
to his apartment, the officers of his staff stood quite across the
landing, and barred the passage of the Americans, ignoring even Mrs.
March's presence, as they talked together.
"Well, my dear," said her husband, "here you have it at last. This is
what you've been living for, ever since we came to Germany. It's a great
"Yes. What are you going to do?"
"Who? I? Oh, nothing! This is your affair; it's for you to act."
If she had been young, she might have withered them with a glance; she
doubted now if her dim eyes would have any such power; but she advanced
steadily upon them, and then the officers seemed aware of her, and stood
March always insisted that they stood aside apologetically, but she held
as firmly that they stood aside impertinently, or at least indifferently,
and that the insult to her American womanhood was perfectly ideal. It is
true that nothing of the kind happened again during their stay at the
hotel; the prince's officers were afterwards about in the corridors and
on the stairs, but they offered no shadow of obstruction to her going and
coming, and the landlord himself was not so preoccupied with his
highhotes but he had time to express his grief that she had been obliged
to go out for supper.
They satisfied the passion for the little obsolete capital which had been
growing upon them by strolling past the old Resident at an hour so
favorable for a first impression. It loomed in the gathering dusk even
vaster than it was, and it was really vast enough for the pride of a King
of France, much more a Margrave of Ansbach. Time had blackened and
blotched its coarse limestone walls to one complexion with the statues
swelling and strutting in the figure of Roman legionaries before it, and
standing out against the evening sky along its balustraded roof, and had
softened to the right tint the stretch of half a dozen houses with
mansard roofs and renaissance facades obsequiously in keeping with the
Versailles ideal of a Resident. In the rear, and elsewhere at fit
distance from its courts, a native architecture prevailed; and at no
great remove the Marches found themselves in a simple German town again.
There they stumbled upon a little bookseller's shop blinking in a quiet
corner, and bought three or four guides and small histories of Ansbach,
which they carried home, and studied between drowsing and waking. The
wonderful German syntax seems at its most enigmatical in this sort of
literature, and sometimes they lost themselves in its labyrinths
completely, and only made their way perilously out with the help of
cumulative declensions, past articles and adjectives blindly seeking
their nouns, to long-procrastinated verbs dancing like swamp-fires in the
distance. They emerged a little less ignorant than they went in, and
better qualified than they would otherwise have been for their second
visit to the Schloss, which they paid early the next morning.
They were so early, indeed, that when they mounted from the great inner
court, much too big for Ansbach, if not for the building, and rung the
custodian's bell, a smiling maid who let them into an ante-room, where
she kept on picking over vegetables for her dinner, said the custodian
was busy, and could not be seen till ten o'clock. She seemed, in her nook
of the pretentious pile, as innocently unconscious of its history as any
hen-sparrow who had built her nest in some coign of its architecture; and
her friendly, peaceful domesticity remained a wholesome human background
to the tragedies and comedies of the past, and held them in a picturesque
relief in which they were alike tolerable and even charming.
The history of Ansbach strikes its roots in the soil of fable, and above
ground is a gnarled and twisted growth of good and bad from the time of
the Great Charles to the time of the Great Frederick. Between these times
she had her various rulers, ecclesiastical and secular, in various forms
of vassalage to the empire; but for nearly four centuries her sovereignty
was in the hands of the margraves, who reigned in a constantly increasing
splendor till the last sold her outright to the King of Prussia in 1791,
and went to live in England on the proceeds. She had taken her part in
the miseries and glories of the wars that desolated Germany, but after
the Reformation, when she turned from the ancient faith to which she owed
her cloistered origin under St. Gumpertus, her people had peace except
when their last prince sold them to fight the battles of others. It is in
this last transaction that her history, almost in the moment when she
ceased to have a history of her own, links to that of the modern world,
and that it came home to the Marches in their national character; for two
thousand of those poor Ansbach mercenaries were bought up by England and
sent to put down a rebellion in her American colonies.
Humanly, they were more concerned for the Last Margrave, because of
certain qualities which made him the Best Margrave, in spite of the
defects of his qualities. He was the son of the Wild Margrave, equally
known in the Ansbach annals, who may not have been the Worst Margrave,
but who had certainly a bad trick of putting his subjects to death
without trial, and in cases where there was special haste, with his own
hand. He sent his son to the university at Utrecht because he believed
that the republican influences in Holland would be wholesome for him, and
then he sent him to travel in Italy; but when the boy came home looking
frail and sick, the Wild Margrave charged his official travelling
companion with neglect, and had the unhappy Hofrath Meyer hanged without
process for this crime. One of the gentlemen of his realm, for a
pasquinade on the Margrave, was brought to the scaffold; he had, at
various times, twenty-two of his soldiers shot with arrows and bullets or
hanged for desertion, besides many whose penalties his clemency commuted
to the loss of an ear or a nose; a Hungarian who killed his hunting-dog,
he had broken alive on the wheel. A soldier's wife was hanged for
complicity in a case of desertion; a young soldier who eloped with the
girl he loved was brought to Ansbach from a neighboring town, and hanged
with her on the same gallows. A sentry at the door of one of the
Margrave's castles amiably complied with the Margrave's request to let
him take his gun for a moment, on the pretence of wishing to look at it.
For this breach of discipline the prince covered him with abuse and gave
him over to his hussars, who bound him to a horse's tail and dragged him
through the streets; he died of his injuries. The kennel-master who had
charge of the Margrave's dogs was accused of neglecting them: without
further inquiry the Margrave rode to the man's house and shot him down on
his own threshold. A shepherd who met the Margrave on a shying horse did
not get his flock out of the way quickly enough; the Margrave demanded
the pistols of a gentleman in his company, but he answered that they were
not loaded, and the shepherd's life was saved. As they returned home the
gentleman fired them off. "What does that mean?" cried the Margrave,
furiously. "It means, gracious lord, that you will sleep sweeter tonight,
for not having heard my pistols an hour sooner."
From this it appears that the gracious lord had his moments of regret;
but perhaps it is not altogether strange that when he died, the whole
population "stormed through the streets to meet his funeral train, not in
awe-stricken silence to meditate on the fall of human grandeur, but to
unite in an eager tumult of rejoicing, as if some cruel brigand who had
long held the city in terror were delivered over to them bound and in
chains." For nearly thirty years this blood-stained miscreant had reigned
over his hapless people in a sovereign plenitude of power, which by the
theory of German imperialism in our day is still a divine right.
They called him the Wild Margrave, in their instinctive revolt from the
belief that any man not untamably savage could be guilty of his
atrocities; and they called his son the Last Margrave, with a touch of
the poetry which perhaps records a regret for their extinction as a
state. He did not harry them as his father had done; his mild rule was
the effect partly of the indifference and distaste for his country bred,
by his long sojourns abroad; but doubtless also it was the effect of a
kindly nature. Even in the matter of selling a few thousands of them to
fight the battles of a bad cause on the other side of the world, he had
the best of motives, and faithfully applied the proceeds to the payment
of the state debt and the embellishment of the capital.
His mother was a younger sister of Frederick the Great, and was so
constantly at war with her husband that probably she had nothing to do
with the marriage which the Wild Margrave forced upon their son. Love
certainly had nothing to do with it, and the Last Margrave early escaped
from it to the society of Mlle. Clairon, the great French tragedienne,
whom he met in Paris, and whom he persuaded to come and make her home
with him in Ansbach. She lived there seventeen years, and though always
an alien, she bore herself with kindness to all classes, and is still
remembered there by the roll of butter which calls itself a Klarungswecke
in its imperfect French.
No roll of butter records in faltering accents the name of the brilliant
and disdainful English lady who replaced this poor tragic muse in the
Margrave's heart, though the lady herself lived to be the last Margravine
of Ansbach, where everybody seems to have hated her with a passion which
she doubtless knew how to return. She was the daughter of the Earl of
Berkeley, and the wife of Lord Craven, a sufficiently unfaithful and
unworthy nobleman by her account, from whom she was living apart when the
Margrave asked her to his capital. There she set herself to oust Mlle.
Clairon with sneers and jests for the theatrical style which the actress
could not outlive. Lady Craven said she was sure Clairon's nightcap must
be a crown of gilt paper; and when Clairon threatened to kill herself,
and the Margrave was alarmed, "You forget," said Lady Craven, "that
actresses only stab themselves under their sleeves."
She drove Clairon from Ansbach, and the great tragedienne returned to
Paris, where she remained true to her false friend, and from time to time
wrote him letters full of magnanimous counsel and generous tenderness.
But she could not have been so good company as Lady Craven, who was a
very gifted person, and knew how to compose songs and sing them, and
write comedies and play them, and who could keep the Margrave amused in
many ways. When his loveless and childless wife died he married the
English woman, but he grew more and more weary of his dull little court
and his dull little country, and after a while, considering the uncertain
tenure sovereigns had of their heads since the French King had lost his,
and the fact that he had no heirs to follow him in his principality, he
resolved to cede it for a certain sum to Prussia. To this end his new
wife's urgence was perhaps not wanting. They went to England, where she
outlived him ten years, and wrote her memoirs.
The custodian of the Schloss came at last, and the Marches saw instantly
that he was worth waiting for. He was as vainglorious of the palace as
any grand-monarching margrave of them all. He could not have been more
personally superb in showing their different effigies if they had been
his own family portraits, and he would not spare the strangers a single
splendor of the twenty vast, handsome, tiresome, Versailles-like rooms he
led them through. The rooms were fatiguing physically, but so poignantly
interesting that Mrs. March would not have missed, though she perished of
her pleasure, one of the things she saw. She had for once a surfeit of
highhoting in the pictures, the porcelains, the thrones and canopies, the
tapestries, the historical associations with the margraves and their
marriages, with the Great Frederick and the Great Napoleon. The Great
Napoleon's man Bernadotte made the Schloss his headquarters when he
occupied Ansbach after Austerlitz, and here he completed his arrangements
for taking her bargain from Prussia and handing it over to Bavaria, with
whom it still remains. Twice the Great Frederick had sojourned in the
palace; visiting his sister Louise, the wife of the Wild Margrave, and
more than once it had welcomed her next neighbor and sister Wilhelmina,
the Margravine of Baireuth, whose autobiographic voice, piercingly
plaintive and reproachful, seemed to quiver in the air. Here, oddly
enough, the spell of the Wild Margrave weakened in the presence of his
portrait, which signally failed to justify his fame of furious tyrant.
That seems, indeed, to have been rather the popular and historical
conception of him than the impression he made upon his exalted
contemporaries. The Margravine of Baireuth at any rate could so far
excuse her poor blood-stained brother-in-law as to say: "The Margrave of
Ansbach . . . was a young prince who had been very badly educated. He
continually ill-treated my sister; they led the life of cat and dog. My
sister, it is true, was sometimes in fault . . . . Her education had been
very bad. . . She was married at fourteen."
At parting, the custodian told the Marches that he would easily have
known them for Americans by the handsome fee they gave him; they came
away flown with his praise; and their national vanity was again flattered
when they got out into the principal square of Ansbach. There, in a
bookseller's window, they found among the pamphlets teaching different
languages without a master, one devoted to the Amerikanische Sprache as
distinguished from the Englische Sprache. That there could be no mistake,
the cover was printed with colors in a German ideal of the star-spangled
banner; and March said he always knew that we had a language of our own,
and that now he was going in to buy that pamphlet and find out what it
was like. He asked the young shop-woman how it differed from English,
which she spoke fairly well from having lived eight years in Chicago. She
said that it differed from the English mainly in emphasis and
pronunciation. "For instance, the English say 'HALF past', and the
Americans 'Half PAST'; the English say 'laht' and the Americans say
The weather had now been clear quite long enough, and it was raining
again, a fine, bitter, piercing drizzle. They asked the girl if it always
rained in Ansbach; and she owned that it nearly always did. She said that
sometimes she longed for a little American summer; that it was never
quite warm in Ansbach; and when they had got out into the rain, March
said: "It was very nice to stumble on Chicago in an Ansbach book-store.
You ought to have told her you had a married daughter in Chicago. Don't
miss another such chance."
"We shall need another bag if we keep on buying books at this rate," said
his wife with tranquil irrelevance; and not to give him time for protest;
she pushed him into a shop where the valises in the window perhaps
suggested her thought. March made haste to forestall her there by saying
they were Americans, but the mistress of the shop seemed to have her
misgivings, and "Born Americans, perhaps?" she ventured. She had probably
never met any but the naturalized sort, and supposed these were the only
sort. March re-assured her, and then she said she had a son living in
Jersey City, and she made March take his address that he might tell him
he had seen his mother; she had apparently no conception what a great way
Jersey City is from New York.
Mrs. March would not take his arm when they came out. "Now, that is what
I never can get used to in you, Basil, and I've tried to palliate it for
twenty-seven years. You know you won't look up that poor woman's son! Why
did you let her think you would?"
"How could I tell her I wouldn't? Perhaps I shall."
"No, no! You never will. I know you're good and kind, and that's why I
can't understand your being so cruel. When we get back, how will you ever
find time to go over to Jersey City?"
He could not tell, but at last he said: "I'll tell you what! You must
keep me up to it. You know how much you enjoy making me do my duty, and
this will be such a pleasure!"
She laughed forlornly, but after a moment she took his arm; and he began,
from the example of this good mother, to philosophize the continuous
simplicity and sanity of the people of Ansbach under all their civic
changes. Saints and soldiers, knights and barons, margraves, princes,
kings, emperors, had come and gone, and left their single-hearted,
friendly subjectfolk pretty much what they found them. The people had
suffered and survived through a thousand wars, and apparently prospered
on under all governments and misgovernments. When the court was most
French, most artificial, most vicious, the citizen life must have
remained immutably German, dull, and kind. After all, he said, humanity
seemed everywhere to be pretty safe, and pretty much the same.
"Yes, that is all very well," she returned, "and you can theorize
interestingly enough; but I'm afraid that poor mother, there, had no more
reality for you than those people in the past. You appreciate her as a
type, and you don't care for her as a human being. You're nothing but a
dreamer, after all. I don't blame you," she went on. "It's your
temperament, and you can't change, now."
"I may change for the worse," he threatened. "I think I have, already. I
don't believe I could stand up to Dryfoos, now, as I did for poor old
Lindau, when I risked your bread and butter for his. I look back in
wonder and admiration at myself. I've steadily lost touch with life since
then. I'm a trifler, a dilettante, and an amateur of the right and the
good as I used to be when I was young. Oh, I have the grace to be
troubled at times, now, and once I never was. It never occurred to me
then that the world wasn't made to interest me, or at the best to
instruct me, but it does, now, at times."
She always came to his defence when he accused himself; it was the best
ground he could take with her. "I think you behaved very well with
Burnamy. You did your duty then."
"Did I? I'm not so sure. At any rate, it's the last time I shall do it.
I've served my term. I think I should tell him that he was all right in
that business with Stoller, if I were to meet him, now."
"Isn't it strange," she said, provisionally, "that we don't come upon a
trace of him anywhere in Ansbach?"
"Ah, you've been hoping he would turn up!"
"Yes. I don't deny it. I feel very unhappy about him."
"I don't. He's too much like me. He would have been quite capable of
promising that poor woman to look up her son in Jersey City. When I think
of that, I have no patience with Burnamy."
"I am going to ask the landlord about him, now he's got rid of his
highhotes," said Mrs. March.
They went home to their hotel for their midday dinner, and to the comfort
of having it nearly all to themselves. Prince Leopold had risen early,
like all the hard-working potentates of the continent, and got away to
the manoeuvres somewhere at six o'clock; the decorations had been
removed, and the court-yard where the hired coach and pair of the prince
had rolled in the evening before had only a few majestic ducks waddling
about in it and quacking together, indifferent to the presence of a
yellow mail-wagon, on which the driver had been apparently dozing till
the hour of noon should sound. He sat there immovable, but at the last
stroke of the clock he woke up and drove vigorously away to the station.
The dining-room which they had been kept out of by the prince the night
before was not such as to embitter the sense of their wrong by its
splendor. After all, the tastes of royalty must be simple, if the prince
might have gone to the Schloss and had chosen rather to stay at this
modest hotel; but perhaps the Schloss was reserved for more immediate
royalty than the brothers of prince-regents; and in that case he could
not have done better than dine at the Golden Star. If he paid no more
than two marks, he dined as cheaply as a prince could wish, and as
abundantly. The wine at Ansbach was rather thin and sour, but the bread,
March declared, was the best bread in the whole world, not excepting the
bread of Carlsbad.
After dinner the Marches had some of the local pastry, not so
incomparable as the bread, with their coffee, which they had served them
in a pavilion of the beautiful garden remaining to the hotel from the
time when it was a patrician mansion. The garden had roses in it and
several sorts of late summer flowers, as well as ripe cherries, currants,
grapes, and a Virginia-creeper red with autumn, all harmoniously
contemporaneous, as they might easily be in a climate where no one of the
seasons can very well know itself from the others. It had not been
raining for half an hour, and the sun was scalding hot, so that the
shelter of their roof was very grateful, and the puddles of the paths
were drying up with the haste which puddles have to make in Germany,
between rains, if they are ever going to dry up at all.
The landlord came out to see if they were well served, and he was
sincerely obliging in the English he had learned as a waiter in London.
Mrs. March made haste to ask him if a young American of the name of
Burnamy had been staying with him a few weeks before; and she described
Burnamy's beauty and amiability so vividly that the landlord, if he had
been a woman, could not have failed to remember him. But he failed, with
a real grief, apparently, and certainly a real politeness, to recall
either his name or his person. The landlord was an intelligent,
good-looking young fellow; he told them that he was lately married, and
they liked him so much that they were sorry to see him afterwards
privately boxing the ears of the piccolo, the waiter's little understudy.
Perhaps the piccolo deserved it, but they would rather not have witnessed
his punishment; his being in a dress-coat seemed to make it also an
In the late afternoon they went to the cafe in the old Orangery of the
Schloss for a cup of tea, and found themselves in the company of several
Ansbach ladies who had brought their work, in the evident habit of coming
there every afternoon for their coffee and for a dish of gossip. They
were kind, uncomely, motherly-looking bodies; one of them combed her hair
at the table; and they all sat outside of the cafe with their feet on the
borders of the puddles which had not dried up there in the shade of the
A deep lawn, darkened at its farther edge by the long shadows of trees,
stretched before them with the sunset light on it, and it was all very
quiet and friendly. The tea brought to the Marches was brewed from some
herb apparently of native growth, with bits of what looked like willow
leaves in it, but it was flavored with a clove in each cup, and they sat
contentedly over it and tried to make out what the Ansbach ladies were,
talking about. These had recognized the strangers for Americans, and one
of them explained that Americans spoke the same language as the English
and yet were not quite the same people.
"She differs from the girl in the book-store," said March, translating to
his wife. "Let us get away before she says that we are not so nice as the
English," and they made off toward the avenue of trees beyond the lawn.
There were a few people walking up and down in the alley, making the most
of the moment of dry weather. They saluted one another like
acquaintances, and three clean-shaven, walnut-faced old peasants bowed in
response to March's stare, with a self-respectful civility. They were
yeomen of the region of Ansbach, where the country round about is dotted
with their cottages, and not held in vast homeless tracts by the nobles
as in North Germany.
The Bavarian who had imparted this fact to March at breakfast, not
without a certain tacit pride in it to the disadvantage of the Prussians,
was at the supper table, and was disposed to more talk, which he managed
in a stout, slow English of his own. He said he had never really spoken
English with an English-speaking person before, or at all since he
studied it in school at Munich.
"I should be afraid to put my school-boy German against your English,"
March said, and, when he had understood, the other laughed for pleasure,
and reported the compliment to his wife in their own parlance. "You
Germans certainly beat us in languages."
"Oh, well," he retaliated, "the Americans beat us in some other things,"
and Mrs. March felt that this was but just; she would have liked to
mention a few, but not ungraciously; she and the German lady kept smiling
across the table, and trying detached vocables of their respective
tongues upon each other.
The Bavarian said he lived in Munich still, but was in Ansbach on an
affair of business; he asked March if he were not going to see the
manoeuvres somewhere. Till now the manoeuvres had merely been the
interesting background of their travel; but now, hearing that the Emperor
of Germany, the King of Saxony, the Regent of Bavaria, and the King of
Wurtemberg, the Grand-Dukes of Weimar and Baden, with visiting potentates
of all sorts, and innumerable lesser highhotes, foreign and domestic,
were to be present, Mrs. March resolved that they must go to at least one
of the reviews.
"If you go to Frankfort, you can see the King of Italy too," said the
Bavarian, but he owned that they probably could not get into a hotel
there, and he asked why they should not go to Wurzburg, where they could
see all the sovereigns except the King of Italy.
"Wurzburg? Wurzburg?" March queried of his wife. "Where did we hear of
"Isn't it where Burnamy said Mr. Stoller had left his daughters at
"So it is! And is that on the way to the Rhine?" he asked the Bavarian.
"No, no! Wurzburg is on the Main, about five hours from Ansbach. And it
is a very interesting place. It is where the good wine comes from."
"Oh, yes," said March, and in their rooms his wife got out all their
guides and maps and began to inform herself and to inform him about
Wurzburg. But first she said it was very cold and he must order some fire
made in the tall German stove in their parlor. The maid who came said
"Gleich," but she did not come back, and about the time they were getting
furious at her neglect, they began getting warm. He put his hand on the
stove and found it hot; then he looked down for a door in the stove where
he might shut a damper; there was no door.
"Good heavens!" he shouted. "It's like something in a dream," and he ran
to pull the bell for help.
"No, no! Don't ring! It will make us ridiculous. They'll think Americans
don't know anything. There must be some way of dampening the stove; and
if there isn't, I'd rather suffocate than give myself away." Mrs. March
ran and opened the window, while her husband carefully examined the stove
at every point, and explored the pipe for the damper in vain. "Can't you
find it?" The night wind came in raw and damp, and threatened to blow
their lamp out, and she was obliged to shut the window.
"Not a sign of it. I will go down and ask the landlord in strict
confidence how they dampen their stoves in Ansbach."
"Well, if you must. It's getting hotter every moment." She followed him
timorously into the corridor, lit by a hanging lamp, turned low for the
He looked at his watch; it was eleven o'clock. "I'm afraid they're all in
"Yes; you mustn't go! We must try to find out for ourselves. What can
that door be for?"
It was a low iron door, half the height of a man, in the wall near their
room, and it yielded to his pull. "Get a candle," he whispered, and when
she brought it, he stooped to enter the doorway.
"Oh, do you think you'd better?" she hesitated.
"You can come, too, if you're afraid. You've always said you wanted to
die with me."
"Well. But you go first."
He disappeared within, and then came back to the doorway. "Just come in
here, a moment." She found herself in a sort of antechamber, half the
height of her own room, and following his gesture she looked down where
in one corner some crouching monster seemed showing its fiery teeth in a
grin of derision. This grin was the damper of their stove, and this was
where the maid had kindled the fire which had been roasting them alive,
and was still joyously chuckling to itself. "I think that Munich man was
wrong. I don't believe we beat the Germans in anything. There isn't a
hotel in the United States where the stoves have no front doors, and
every one of them has the space of a good-sized flat given up to the
convenience of kindling a fire in it."
After a red sunset of shameless duplicity March was awakened to a rainy
morning by the clinking of cavalry hoofs on the pavement of the
long-irregular square before the hotel, and he hurried out to see the
passing of the soldiers on their way to the manoeuvres. They were troops
of all arms, but mainly infantry, and as they stumped heavily through the
groups of apathetic citizens in their mud-splashed boots, they took the
steady downpour on their dripping helmets. Some of them were smoking, but
none smiling, except one gay fellow who made a joke to a serving-maid on
the sidewalk. An old officer halted his staff to scold a citizen who had
given him a mistaken direction. The shame of the erring man was great,
and the pride of a fellow-citizen who corrected him was not less, though
the arrogant brute before whom they both cringed used them with equal
scorn; the younger officers listened indifferently round on horseback
behind the glitter of their eyeglasses, and one of them amused himself by
turning the silver bangles on his wrist.
Then the files of soldier slaves passed on, and March crossed the bridge
spanning the gardens in what had been the city moat, and found his way to
the market-place, under the walls of the old Gothic church of St.
Gumpertus. The market, which spread pretty well over the square, seemed
to be also a fair, with peasants' clothes and local pottery for sale, as
well as fruits and vegetables, and large baskets of flowers, with old
women squatting before them. It was all as picturesque as the markets
used to be in Montreal and Quebec, and in a cloudy memory of his wedding
journey long before, he bought so lavishly of the flowers to carry back
to his wife that a little girl, who saw his arm-load from her window as
he returned, laughed at him, and then drew shyly back. Her laugh reminded
him how many happy children he had seen in Germany, and how freely they
seemed to play everywhere, with no one to make them afraid. When they
grow up the women laugh as little as the men, whose rude toil the
soldiering leaves them to.
He got home with his flowers, and his wife took them absently, and made
him join her in watching the sight which had fascinated her in the street
under their windows. A slender girl, with a waist as slim as a corseted
officer's, from time to time came out of the house across the way to the
firewood which had been thrown from a wagon upon the sidewalk there. Each
time she embraced several of the heavy four-foot logs and disappeared
with them in-doors. Once she paused from her work to joke with a
well-dressed man who came by; and seemed to find nothing odd in her work;
some gentlemen lounging at the window over head watched her with no
apparent sense of anomaly.
"What do you think of that?" asked Mrs. March. "I think it's good
exercise for the girl, and I should like to recommend it to those fat
fellows at the window. I suppose she'll saw the wood in the cellar, and
then lug it up stairs, and pile it up in the stoves' dressing-rooms."
"Don't laugh! It's too disgraceful."
"Well, I don't know! If you like, I'll offer these gentlemen across the
way your opinion of it in the language of Goethe and Schiller."
"I wish you'd offer my opinion of them. They've been staring in here with
"Ah, that's a different affair. There isn't much going on in Ansbach, and
they have to make the most of it."
The lower casements of the houses were furnished with mirrors set at
right angles with them, and nothing which went on in the streets was
lost. Some of the streets were long and straight, and at rare moments
they lay full of sun. At such times the Marches were puzzled by the sight
of citizens carrying open umbrellas, and they wondered if they had
forgotten to put them down, or thought it not worth while in the brief
respites from the rain, or were profiting by such rare occasions to dry
them; and some other sights remained baffling to the last. Once a man
with his hands pinioned before him, and a gendarme marching stolidly
after him with his musket on his shoulder, passed under their windows;
but who he was, or what he, had done, or was to suffer, they never knew.
Another time a pair went by on the way to the railway station: a young
man carrying an umbrella under his arm, and a very decent-looking old
woman lugging a heavy carpet bag, who left them to the lasting question
whether she was the young man's servant in her best clothes, or merely
Women do not do everything in Ansbach, however, the sacristans being men,
as the Marches found when they went to complete their impression of the
courtly past of the city by visiting the funeral chapel of the margraves
in the crypt of St. Johannis Church. In the little ex-margravely capital
there was something of the neighborly interest in the curiosity of
strangers which endears Italian witness. The white-haired street-sweeper
of Ansbach, who willingly left his broom to guide them to the house of
the sacristan, might have been a street-sweeper in Vicenza; and the old
sacristan, when he put his velvet skull-cap out of an upper window and
professed his willingness to show them the chapel, disappointed them by
saying "Gleich!" instead of "Subito!" The architecture of the houses was
a party to the illusion. St. Johannis, like the older church of St.
Gumpertus, is Gothic, with the two unequal towers which seem distinctive
of Ansbach; at the St. Gumpertus end of the place where they both stand
the dwellings are Gothic too, and might be in Hamburg; but at the St.
Johannis end they seem to have felt the exotic spirit of the court, and
are of a sort of Teutonized renaissance.
The rococo margraves and margravines used of course to worship in St.
Johannis Church. Now they all, such as did not marry abroad, lie in the
crypt of the church, in caskets of bronze and copper and marble, with
draperies of black samite, more and more funereally vainglorious to the
last. Their courtly coffins are ranged in a kind of hemicycle, with the
little coffins of the children that died before they came to the
knowledge of their greatness. On one of these a kneeling figurine in
bronze holds up the effigy of the child within; on another the epitaph
plays tenderly with the fate of a little princess, who died in her first
In the Rose-month was this sweet Rose taken.
For the Rose-kind hath she earth forsaken.
The Princess is the Rose, that here no longer blows.
From the stem by death's hand rudely shaken.
Then rest in the Rose-house.
Little Princess-Rosebud dear!
There life's Rose shall bloom again
In Heaven's sunshine clear.
While March struggled to get this into English words, two German ladies,
who had made themselves of his party, passed reverently away and left him
to pay the sacristan alone.
"That is all right," he said, when he came out. "I think we got the most
value; and they didn't look as if they could afford it so well; though
you never can tell, here. These ladies may be the highest kind of
highhotes practising a praiseworthy economy. I hope the lesson won't be
lost on us. They have saved enough by us for their coffee at the
Orangery. Let us go and have a little willow-leaf tea!"
The Orangery perpetually lured them by what it had kept of the days when
an Orangery was essential to the self-respect of every sovereign prince,
and of so many private gentlemen. On their way they always passed the
statue of Count Platen, the dull poet whom Heine's hate would have
delivered so cruelly over to an immortality of contempt, but who stands
there near the Schloss in a grass-plot prettily planted with flowers, and
ignores his brilliant enemy in the comfortable durability of bronze; and
there always awaited them in the old pleasaunce the pathos of Kaspar
Hauser's fate; which his murder affixes to it with a red stain.
After their cups of willow leaves at the cafe they went up into that nook
of the plantation where the simple shaft of church-warden's Gothic
commemorates the assassination on the spot where it befell. Here the
hapless youth, whose mystery will never be fathomed on earth, used to
come for a little respite from his harsh guardian in Ansbach, homesick
for the kindness of his Nuremberg friends; and here his murderer found
him and dealt him the mortal blow.
March lingered upon the last sad circumstance of the tragedy in which the
wounded boy dragged himself home, to suffer the suspicion and neglect of
his guardian till death attested his good faith beyond cavil. He said
this was the hardest thing to bear in all his story, and that he would
like to have a look into the soul of the dull, unkind wretch who had so
misread his charge. He was going on with an inquiry that pleased him
much, when his wife pulled him abruptly away.
"Now, I see, you are yielding to the fascination of it, and you are
wanting to take the material from Burnamy!"
"Oh, well, let him have the material; he will spoil it. And I can always
reject it, if he offers it to 'Every Other Week'."
"I could believe, after your behavior to that poor woman about her son in
Jersey City, you're really capable of it."
"What comprehensive inculpation! I had forgotten about that poor woman."
The letters which March had asked his Nuremberg banker to send them came
just as they were leaving Ansbach. The landlord sent them down to the
station, and Mrs. March opened them in the train, and read them first so
that she could prepare him if there were anything annoying in them, as
well as indulge her livelier curiosity.
"They're from both the children," she said, without waiting for him to
ask. "You can look at them later. There's a very nice letter from Mrs.
Adding to me, and one from dear little Rose for you." Then she hesitated,
with her hand on a letter faced down in her lap. "And there's one from
Agatha Triscoe, which I wonder what you'll think of." She delayed again,
and then flashed it open before him, and waited with a sort of
impassioned patience while he read it.
He read it, and gave it back to her. "There doesn't seem to be very much
"That's it! Don't you think I had a right to there being something in it,
after all I did for her?"
"I always hoped you hadn't done anything for her, but if you have, why
should she give herself away on paper? It's a very proper letter."
"It's a little too proper, and it's the last I shall have to do with her.
She knew that I should be on pins and needles till I heard how her father
had taken Burnamy's being there, that night, and she doesn't say a word
"The general may have had a tantrum that she couldn't describe. Perhaps
she hasn't told him, yet."
"She would tell him instantly!" cried Mrs. March who began to find reason
in the supposition, as well as comfort for the hurt which the girl's
reticence had given her. "Or if she wouldn't, it would be because she was
waiting for the best chance."
"That would be like the wise daughter of a difficult father. She may be
waiting for the best chance to say how he took it. No, I'm all for Miss
Triscoe, and I hope that now, if she's taken herself off our hands,
she'll keep off."
"It's altogether likely that he's made her promise not to tell me
anything about it," Mrs. March mused aloud.
"That would be unjust to a person who had behaved so discreetly as you
have," said her husband.
They were on their way to Wurzburg, and at the first station, which was a
junction, a lady mounted to their compartment just before the train began
to move. She was stout and middle-aged, and had never been pretty, but
she bore herself with a kind of authority in spite of her thread gloves,
her dowdy gray travelling-dress, and a hat of lower middle-class English
tastelessness. She took the only seat vacant, a backward-riding place
beside a sleeping passenger who looked like a commercial traveller, but
she seemed ill at ease in it, and March offered her his seat. She
accepted it very promptly, and thanked him for it in the English of a
German, and Mrs. March now classed her as a governess who had been
teaching in England and had acquired the national feeling for dress. But
in this character she found her interesting, and even a little pathetic,
and she made her some overtures of talk which the other met eagerly
enough. They were now running among low hills, not so picturesque as
those between Eger and Nuremberg, but of much the same toylike quaintness
in the villages dropped here and there in their valleys. One small town,
completely walled, with its gray houses and red roofs, showed through the
green of its trees and gardens so like a colored print in a child's
story-book that Mrs. March cried out for joy in it, and then accounted
for her rapture by explaining to the stranger that they were Americans
and had never been in Germany before. The lady was not visibly affected
by the fact, she said casually that she had often been in that little
town, which she named; her uncle had a castle in the country back of it,
and she came with her husband for the shooting in the autumn. By a
natural transition she spoke of her children, for whom she had an English
governess; she said she had never been in England, but had learnt the
language from a governess in her own childhood; and through it all Mrs.
March perceived that she was trying to impress them with her consequence.
To humor her pose, she said they had been looking up the scene of Kaspar
Hauser's death at Ansbach; and at this the stranger launched into such
intimate particulars concerning him, and was so familiar at first hands
with the facts of his life, that Mrs. March let her run on, too much
amused with her pretensions to betray any doubt of her. She wondered if
March were enjoying it all as much, and from time to time she tried to
catch his eye, while the lady talked constantly and rather loudly,
helping herself out with words from them both when her English failed
her. In the safety of her perfect understanding of the case, Mrs. March
now submitted farther, and even suffered some patronage from her, which
in another mood she would have met with a decided snub.
As they drew in among the broad vine-webbed slopes of the Wurzburg,
hills, the stranger said she was going to change there, and take a train
on to Berlin. Mrs. March wondered whether she would be able to keep up
the comedy to the last; and she had to own that she carried it off very
easily when the friends whom she was expecting did not meet her on the
arrival of their train. She refused March's offers of help, and remained
quietly seated while he got out their wraps and bags. She returned with a
hardy smile the cold leave Mrs. March took of her; and when a porter came
to the door, and forced his way by the Marches, to ask with anxious
servility if she, were the Baroness von——-, she bade the man get them.
a 'traeger', and then come back for her. She waved them a complacent
adieu before they mixed with the crowd and lost sight of her.
"Well, my dear," said March, addressing the snobbishness in his wife
which he knew to be so wholly impersonal, "you've mingled with one
highhote, anyway. I must say she didn't look it, any more than the Duke
and Duchess of Orleans, and yet she's only a baroness. Think of our being
three hours in the same compartment, and she doing all she could to
impress us and our getting no good of it! I hoped you were feeling her
quality, so that we should have it in the family, anyway, and always know
what it was like. But so far, the highhotes have all been terribly
He teased on as they followed the traeger with their baggage out of the
station; and in the omnibus on the way to their hotel, he recurred to the
loss they had suffered in the baroness's failure to dramatize her
nobility effectually. "After all, perhaps she was as much disappointed in
us. I don't suppose we looked any more like democrats than she looked
like an aristocrat."
"But there's a great difference," Mrs. March returned at last. "It isn't
at all a parallel case. We were not real democrats, and she was a real
"To be sure. There is that way of looking at it. That's rather novel; I
wish I had thought of that myself. She was certainly more to blame than
The square in front of the station was planted with flag-poles wreathed
in evergreens; a triumphal arch was nearly finished, and a colossal
allegory in imitation bronze was well on the way to completion, in honor
of the majesties who were coming for the manoeuvres. The streets which
the omnibus passed through to the Swan Inn were draped with the imperial
German and the royal Bavarian colors; and the standards of the visiting
nationalities decked the fronts of the houses where their military
attaches were lodged; but the Marches failed to see our own banner, and
were spared for the moment the ignominy of finding it over an apothecary
shop in a retired avenue. The sun had come out, the sky overhead was of a
smiling blue; and they felt the gala-day glow and thrill in the depths of
their inextinguishable youth.
The Swan Inn sits on one of the long quays bordering the Main, and its
windows look down upon the bridges and shipping of the river; but the
traveller reaches it by a door in the rear, through an archway into a
back street, where an odor dating back to the foundation of the city is
waiting to welcome him.
The landlord was there, too, and he greeted the Marches so cordially that
they fully partook his grief in being able to offer them rooms on the
front of the house for two nights only. They reconciled themselves to the
necessity of then turning out for the staff of the King of Saxony, the
more readily because they knew that there was no hope of better things at
any other hotel.
The rooms which they could have for the time were charming, and they came
down to supper in a glazed gallery looking out on the river picturesque
with craft of all fashions: with row-boats, sail-boats, and little
steamers, but mainly with long black barges built up into houses in the
middle, and defended each by a little nervous German dog. Long rafts of
logs weltered in the sunset red which painted the swift current, and
mantled the immeasurable vineyards of the hills around like the color of
their ripening grapes. Directly in face rose a castled steep, which kept
the ranging walls and the bastions and battlements of the time when such
a stronghold could have defended the city from foes without or from
tumult within. The arches of a stately bridge spanned the river
sunsetward, and lifted a succession of colossal figures against the
"I guess we have been wasting our time, my dear," said March, as they,
turned from this beauty to the question of supper. "I wish we had always
Their waiter had put them at a table in a division of the gallery beyond
that which they entered, where some groups of officers were noisily
supping. There was no one in their room but a man whose face was
indistinguishable against the light, and two young girls who glanced at
them with looks at once quelled and defiant, and then after a stare at
the officers in the gallery beyond, whispered together with suppressed
giggling. The man fed on without noticing them, except now and then to
utter a growl that silenced the whispering and giggling for a moment. The
Marches, from no positive evidence of any sense, decided that they were
"I don't know that I feel responsible for them as their
fellow-countryman; I should, once," he said.
"It isn't that. It's the worry of trying to make out why they are just
what they are," his wife returned.
The girls drew the man's attention to them and he looked at them for the
first time; then after a sort of hesitation he went on with his supper.
They had only begun theirs when he rose with the two girls, whom Mrs.
March now saw to be of the same size and dressed alike, and came heavily
"I thought you was in Carlsbad," he said bluntly to March, with a nod at
Mrs. March. He added, with a twist of his head toward the two girls, "My
daughters," and then left them to her, while he talked on with her
husband. "Come to see this foolery, I suppose. I'm on my way to the woods
for my after-cure; but I thought I might as well stop and give the girls
a chance; they got a week's vacation, anyway." Stoller glanced at them
with a sort of troubled tenderness in his strong dull face.
"Oh, yes. I understood they were at school here," said March, and he
heard one of them saying, in a sweet, high pipe to his wife:
"Ain't it just splendid? I ha'n't seen anything equal to it since the
Worrld's Fairr." She spoke with a strong contortion of the Western r, and
her sister hastened to put in:
"I don't think it's to be compared with the Worrld's Fairr. But these
German girls, here, just think it's great. It just does me good to laff
at 'em, about it. I like to tell 'em about the electric fountain and the
Courrt of Iionorr when they get to talkin' about the illuminations
they're goun' to have. You goun' out to the parade? You better engage
your carriage right away if you arre. The carrs'll be a perfect jam.
Father's engaged ourrs; he had to pay sixty marrks forr it."
They chattered on without shyness and on as easy terms with a woman of
three times their years as if she had been a girl of their own age; they
willingly took the whole talk to themselves, and had left her quite
outside of it before Stoller turned to her.
"I been telling Mr. March here that you better both come to the parade
with us. I guess my twospanner will hold five; or if it won't, we'll make
it. I don't believe there's a carriage left in Wurzburg; and if you go in
the cars, you'll have to walk three or four miles before you get to the
parade-ground. You think it over," he said to March. "Nobody else is
going to have the places, anyway, and you can say yes at the last minute
just as well as now."
He moved off with his girls, who looked over their shoulders at the
officers as they passed on through the adjoining room.
"My dear!" cried Mrs. March. "Didn't you suppose he classed us with
Burnamy in that business? Why should he be polite to us?"
"Perhaps he wants you to chaperon his daughters. He's probably heard of
your performance at the Kurhaus ball. But he knows that I thought Burnamy
in the wrong. This may be Stoller's way of wiping out an obligation.
Wouldn't you like to go with him?"
"The mere thought of his being in the same town is prostrating. I'd far
rather he hated us; then he would avoid us."
"Well, he doesn't own the town, and if it comes to the worst, perhaps we
can avoid him. Let us go out, anyway, and see if we can't."
"No, no; I'm too tired; but you go. And get all the maps and guides you
can; there's so very little in Baedeker, and almost nothing in that great
hulking Bradshaw of yours; and I'm sure there must be the most
interesting history of Wurzburg. Isn't it strange that we haven't the
slightest association with the name?"
"I've been rummaging in my mind, and I've got hold of an association at
last," said March. "It's beer; a sign in a Sixth Avenue saloon window
"No matter if it is beer. Find some sketch of the history, and we'll try
to get away from the Stollers in it. I pitied those wild girls, too. What
crazy images of the world must fill their empty minds! How their ignorant
thoughts must go whirling out into the unknown! I don't envy their
father. Do hurry back! I shall be thinking about them every instant till
She said this, but in their own rooms it was so soothing to sit looking
through the long twilight at the lovely landscape that the sort of bruise
given by their encounter with the Stollers had left her consciousness
before March returned. She made him admire first the convent church on a
hill further up the river which exactly balanced the fortress in front of
them, and then she seized upon the little books he had brought, and set
him to exploring the labyrinths of their German, with a mounting
exultation in his discoveries. There was a general guide to the city, and
a special guide, with plans and personal details of the approaching
manoeuvres and the princes who were to figure in them; and there was a
sketch of the local history: a kind of thing that the Germans know how to
write particularly, well, with little gleams of pleasant humor blinking
through it. For the study of this, Mrs. March realized, more and more
passionately, that they were in the very most central and convenient
point, for the history of Wurzburg might be said to have begun with her
prince-bishops, whose rule had begun in the twelfth century, and who had
built, on a forgotten Roman work, the fortress of the Marienburg on that
vineyarded hill over against the Swan Inn. There had of course been
history before that, but 'nothing so clear, nothing so peculiarly swell,
nothing that so united the glory of this world and the next as that of
the prince-bishops. They had made the Marienburg their home, and kept it
against foreign and domestic foes for five hundred years. Shut within its
well-armed walls they had awed the often-turbulent city across the Main;
they had held it against the embattled farmers in the Peasants' War, and
had splendidly lost it to Gustavus Adolphus, and then got it back again
and held it till Napoleon took it from them. He gave it with their flock
to the Bavarians, who in turn briefly yielded it to the Prussians in
1866, and were now in apparently final possession of it.
Before the prince-bishops, Charlemagne and Barbarossa had come and gone,
and since the prince-bishops there had been visiting thrones and kingdoms
enough in the ancient city, which was soon to be illustrated by the
presence of imperial Germany, royal, Wirtemberg and Saxony, grand-ducal
Baden and Weimar, and a surfeit of all the minor potentates among those
who speak the beautiful language of the Ja.
But none of these could dislodge the prince-bishops from that supreme
place which they had at once taken in Mrs. March's fancy. The potentates
were all going to be housed in the vast palace which the prince-bishops
had built themselves in Wurzburg as soon as they found it safe to come
down from their stronghold of Marienburg, and begin to adorn their city,
and to confirm it in its intense fidelity to the Church. Tiepolo had come
up out of Italy to fresco their palace, where he wrought year after year,
in that worldly taste which has somehow come to express the most
sovereign moment of ecclesiasticism. It prevailed so universally in
Wurzburg that it left her with the name of the Rococo City, intrenched in
a period of time equally remote from early Christianity and modern
Protestantism. Out of her sixty thousand souls, only ten thousand are now
of the reformed religion, and these bear about the same relation to the
Catholic spirit of the place that the Gothic architecture bears to the
As long as the prince-bishops lasted the Wurzburgers got on very well
with but one newspaper, and perhaps the smallest amount of merrymaking
known outside of the colony of Massachusetts Bay at the same epoch. The
prince-bishops had their finger in everybody's pie, and they portioned
out the cakes and ale, which were made according to formulas of their
own. The distractions were all of a religious character; churches,
convents, monasteries, abounded; ecclesiastical processions and
solemnities were the spectacles that edified if they did not amuse the
It seemed to March an ironical outcome of all this spiritual severity
that one of the greatest modern scientific discoveries should have been
made in Wurzburg, and that the Roentgen rays should now be giving her
name a splendor destined to eclipse the glories of her past.
Mrs. March could not allow that they would do so; or at least that the
name of Roentgen would ever lend more lustre to his city than that of
Longfellow's Walther von der Vogelweide. She was no less surprised than
pleased to realize that this friend of the birds was a Wurzburger, and
she said that their first pilgrimage in the morning should be to the
church where he lies buried.
March went down to breakfast not quite so early as his wife had planned,
and left her to have her coffee in her room. He got a pleasant table in
the gallery overlooking the river, and he decided that the landscape,
though it now seemed to be rather too much studied from a drop-certain,
had certainly lost nothing of its charm in the clear morning light. The
waiter brought his breakfast, and after a little delay came back with a
card which he insisted was for March. It was not till he put on his
glasses and read the name of Mr. R. M. Kenby that he was able at all to
agree with the waiter, who stood passive at his elbow.
"Well," he said, "why wasn't this card sent up last night?"
The waiter explained that the gentleman had just, given him his card,
after asking March's nationality, and was then breakfasting in the next
room. March caught up his napkin and ran round the partition wall, and
Kenby rose with his napkin and hurried to meet him.
"I thought it must be you," he called out, joyfully, as they struck their
extended hands together, "but so many people look alike, nowadays, that I
don't trust my eyes any more."
Kenby said he had spent the time since they last met partly in Leipsic
and partly in Gotha, where he had amused himself in rubbing up his rusty
German. As soon as he realized that Wurzburg was so near he had slipped
down from Gotha for a glimpse of the manoeuvres. He added that he
supposed March was there to see them, and he asked with a quite
unembarrassed smile if they had met Mr. Adding in Carlsbad, and without
heeding March's answer, he laughed and added: "Of course, I know she must
have told Mrs. March all about it."
March could not deny this; he laughed, too; though in his wife's absence
he felt bound to forbid himself anything more explicit.
"I don't give it up, you know," Kenby went on, with perfect ease. "I'm
not a young fellow, if you call thirty-nine old."
"At my age I don't," March put in, and they roared together, in men's
security from the encroachments of time.
"But she happens to be the only woman I've ever really wanted to marry,
for more than a few days at a stretch. You know how it is with us."
"Oh, yes, I know," said March, and they shouted again.
"We're in love, and we're out of love, twenty times. But this isn't a
mere fancy; it's a conviction. And there's no reason why she shouldn't
March smiled gravely, and his smile was not lost upon Kenby. "You mean
the boy," he said. "Well, I like Rose," and now March really felt swept
from his feet. "She doesn't deny that she likes me, but she seems to
think that her marrying again will take her from him; the fact is, it
will only give me to him. As for devoting her whole life to him, she
couldn't do a worse thing for him. What the boy needs is a man's care,
and a man's will—Good heavens! You don't think I could ever be unkind to
the little soul?" Kenby threw himself forward over the table.
"My dear fellow!" March protested.
"I'd rather cut off my right hand!" Kenby pursued, excitedly, and then he
said, with a humorous drop: "The fact is, I don't believe I should want
her so much if I couldn't have Rose too. I want to have them both. So
far, I've only got no for an answer; but I'm not going to keep it. I had
a letter from Rose at Carlsbad, the other day; and—"
The waiter came forward with a folded scrap of paper on his salver, which
March knew must be from his wife. "What is keeping you so?" she wrote. "I
am all ready." "It's from Mrs. March," he explained to Kenby. "I am going
out with her on some errands. I'm awfully glad to see you again. We must
talk it all over, and you must—you mustn't—Mrs. March will want to see
you later—I—Are you in the hotel?"
"Oh yes. I'll see you at the one-o'clock table d'hote, I suppose."
March went away with his head whirling in the question whether he should
tell his wife at once of Kenby's presence, or leave her free for the
pleasures of Wurzburg, till he could shape the fact into some safe and
acceptable form. She met him at the door with her guide-books, wraps and
umbrellas, and would hardly give him time to get on his hat and coat.
"Now, I want you to avoid the Stollers as far as you can see them. This
is to be a real wedding-journey day, with no extraneous acquaintance to
bother; the more strangers the better. Wurzburg is richer than anything I
imagined. I've looked it all up; I've got the plan of the city, so that
we can easily find the way. We'll walk first, and take carriages whenever
we get tired. We'll go to the cathedral at once; I want a good gulp of
rococo to begin with; there wasn't half enough of it at Ansbach. Isn't it
strange how we've come round to it?"
She referred to that passion for the Gothic which they had obediently
imbibed from Ruskin in the days of their early Italian travel and
courtship, when all the English-speaking world bowed down to him in
devout aversion from the renaissance, and pious abhorrence of the rococo.
"What biddable little things we were!" she went on, while March was
struggling to keep Kenby in the background of his consciousness. "The
rococo must have always had a sneaking charm for us, when we were pinning
our faith to pointed arches; and yet I suppose we were perfectly sincere.
Oh, look at that divinely ridiculous Madonna!" They were now making their
way out of the crooked footway behind their hotel toward the street
leading to the cathedral, and she pointed to the Blessed Virgin over the
door of some religious house, her drapery billowing about her feet; her
body twisting to show the sculptor's mastery of anatomy, and the halo
held on her tossing head with the help of stout gilt rays. In fact, the
Virgin's whole figure was gilded, and so was that of the child in her
arms. "Isn't she delightful?"
"I see what you mean," said March, with a dubious glance at the statue,
"but I'm not sure, now, that I wouldn't like something quieter in my
The thoroughfare which they emerged upon, with the cathedral ending the
prospective, was full of the holiday so near at hand. The narrow
sidewalks were thronged with people, both soldiers and civilians, and up
the middle of the street detachments of military came and went, halting
the little horse-cars and the huge beer-wagons which otherwise seemed to
have the sole right to the streets of Wurzburg; they came jingling or
thundering out of the aide streets and hurled themselves round the
corners reckless of the passers, who escaped alive by flattening
themselves like posters against the house walls. There were peasants, men
and women, in the costume which the unbroken course of their country life
had kept as quaint as it was a hundred years before; there were citizens
in the misfits of the latest German fashions; there were soldiers of all
arms in their vivid uniforms, and from time to time there were pretty
young girls in white dresses with low necks, and bare arms gloved to the
elbows, who were following a holiday custom of the place in going about
the streets in ball costume. The shop windows were filled with portraits
of the Emperor and the Empress, and the Prince-Regent and the ladies of
his family; the German and Bavarian colors draped the facades of the
houses and festooned the fantastic Madonnas posing above so many portals.
The modern patriotism included the ancient piety without disturbing it;
the rococo city remained ecclesiastical through its new imperialism, and
kept the stamp given it by the long rule of the prince-bishops under the
sovereignty of its King and the suzerainty of its Kaiser.
The Marches escaped from the present, when they entered the cathedral, as
wholly as if they had taken hold of the horns of the altar, though they
were far from literally doing this in an interior so grandiose. There
area few rococo churches in Italy, and perhaps more in Spain, which
approach the perfection achieved by the Wurzburg cathedral in the baroque
style. For once one sees what that style can do in architecture and
sculpture, and whatever one may say of the details, one cannot deny that
there is a prodigiously effective keeping in it all. This interior came
together, as the decorators say, with a harmony that the travellers had
felt nowhere in their earlier experience of the rococo. It was,
unimpeachably perfect in its way, "Just," March murmured to his wife, "as
the social and political and scientific scheme of the eighteenth century
was perfected in certain times and places. But the odd thing is to find
the apotheosis of the rococo away up here in Germany. I wonder how much
the prince-bishops really liked it. But they had become rococo, too! Look
at that row of their statues on both sides of the nave! What magnificent
swell! How they abash this poor plain Christ, here; he would like to get
behind the pillar; he knows that he could never lend himself to the
baroque style. It expresses the eighteenth century, though. But how you
long for some little hint of the thirteenth, or even the nineteenth."
"I don't," she whispered back. "I'm perfectly wild with Wurzburg. I like
to have a thing go as far as it can. At Nuremberg I wanted all the Gothic
I could get, and in Wurzburg I want all the baroque I can get. I am
She kept on praising herself to his disadvantage, as women do, all the
way to the Neumunster Church, where they were going to revere the tomb of
Walther von der Vogelweide, not so much for his own sake as for
Longfellow's. The older poet lies buried within, but his monument is
outside the church, perhaps for the greater convenience of the sparrows,
which now represent the birds he loved. The cenotaph is surmounted by a
broad vase, and around this are thickly perched the effigies of the
Meistersinger's feathered friends, from whom the canons of the church, as
Mrs. March read aloud from her Baedeker, long ago directed his bequest to
themselves. In revenge for their lawless greed the defrauded
beneficiaries choose to burlesque the affair by looking like the
four-and-twenty blackbirds when the pie was opened.
She consented to go for a moment to the Gothic Marienkapelle with her
husband in the revival of his mediaeval taste, and she was rewarded
amidst its thirteenth-century sincerity by his recantation. "You are
right! Baroque is the thing for Wurzburg; one can't enjoy Gothic here any
more than one could enjoy baroque in Nuremberg."
Reconciled in the rococo, they now called a carriage, and went to visit
the palace of the prince-bishops who had so well known how to make the
heavenly take the image and superscription of the worldly; and they were
jointly indignant to find it shut against the public in preparation for
the imperialities and royalties coming to occupy it. They were in time
for the noon guard-mounting, however, and Mrs. March said that the way
the retiring squad kicked their legs out in the high martial step of the
German soldiers was a perfect expression of the insolent militarism of
their empire, and was of itself enough to make one thank Heaven that one
was an American and a republican. She softened a little toward their
system when it proved that the garden of the palace was still open, and
yet more when she sank down upon a bench between two marble groups
representing the Rape of Proserpine and the Rape of Europa. They stood
each in a gravelled plot, thickly overrun by a growth of ivy, and the
vine climbed the white naked limbs of the nymphs, who were present on a
pretence of gathering flowers, but really to pose at the spectators, and
clad them to the waist and shoulders with an effect of modesty never
meant by the sculptor, but not displeasing. There was an old fountain
near, its stone rim and centre of rock-work green with immemorial mould,
and its basin quivering between its water-plants under the soft fall of
spray. At a waft of fitful breeze some leaves of early autumn fell from
the trees overhead upon the elderly pair where they sat, and a little
company of sparrows came and hopped about their feet. Though the square
without was so all astir with festive expectation, there were few people
in the garden; three or four peasant women in densely fluted white skirts
and red aprons and shawls wandered by and stared at the Europa and at the
It was a precious moment in which the charm of the city's past seemed to
culminate, and they were loath to break it by speech.
"Why didn't we have something like all this on our first wedding
journey?" she sighed at last. "To think of our battening from Boston to
Niagara and back! And how hard we tried to make something of Rochester
and Buffalo, of Montreal and Quebec!"
"Niagara wasn't so bad," he said, "and I will never go back on Quebec."
"Ah, but if we could have had Hamburg and Leipsic, and Carlsbad and
Nuremberg, and Ansbach and Wurzburg! Perhaps this is meant as a
compensation for our lost youth. But I can't enjoy it as I could when I
was young. It's wasted on my sere and yellow leaf. I wish Burnamy and
Miss Triscoe were here; I should like to try this garden on them."
"They wouldn't care for it," he replied, and upon a daring impulse he
added, "Kenby and Mrs. Adding might." If she took this suggestion in good
part, he could tell her that Kenby was in Wurzburg.
"Don't speak of them! They're in just that besotted early middle-age when
life has settled into a self-satisfied present, with no past and no
future; the most philistine, the most bourgeois, moment of existence.
Better be elderly at once, as far as appreciation of all this goes." She
rose and put her hand on his arm, and pushed him away in the impulsive
fashion of her youth, across alleys of old trees toward a balustraded
terrace in the background which had tempted her.
"It isn't so bad, being elderly," he said. "By that time we have
accumulated enough past to sit down and really enjoy its associations. We
have got all sorts of perspectives and points of view. We know where we
"I don't mind being elderly. The world's just as amusing as ever, and
lots of disagreeable things have dropped out. It's the getting more than
elderly; it's the getting old; and then—"
They shrank a little closer together, and walked on in silence till he
said, "Perhaps there's something else, something better—somewhere."
They had reached the balustraded terrace, and were pausing for pleasure
in the garden tops below, with the flowery spaces, and the statued
fountains all coming together. She put her hand on one of the fat little
urchin-groups on the stone coping. "I don't want cherubs, when I can have
these putti. And those old prince-bishops didn't, either!"
"I don't suppose they kept a New England conscience," he said, with a
vague smile. "It would be difficult in the presence of the rococo."
They left the garden through the beautiful gate which the old court
ironsmith Oegg hammered out in lovely forms of leaves and flowers, and
shaped laterally upward, as lightly as if with a waft of his hand, in
gracious Louis Quinze curves; and they looked back at it in the kind of
despair which any perfection inspires. They said how feminine it was, how
exotic, how expressive of a luxurious ideal of life which art had
purified and left eternally charming. They remembered their Ruskinian
youth, and the confidence with which they would once have condemned it;
and they had a sense of recreance in now admiring it; but they certainly
admired it, and it remained for them the supreme expression of that
time-soul, mundane, courtly, aristocratic, flattering, which once
influenced the art of the whole world, and which had here so curiously
found its apotheosis in a city remote from its native place and under a
rule sacerdotally vowed to austerity. The vast superb palace of the
prince bishops, which was now to house a whole troop of sovereigns,
imperial, royal, grand ducal and ducal, swelled aloft in superb
amplitude; but it did not realize their historic pride so effectively as
this exquisite work of the court ironsmith. It related itself in its
aerial beauty to that of the Tiepolo frescoes which the travellers knew
were swimming and soaring on the ceilings within, and from which it
seemed to accent their exclusion with a delicate irony, March said. "Or
iron-mongery," he corrected himself upon reflection.
He had forgotten Kenby in these aesthetic interests, but he remembered
him again when he called a carriage, and ordered it driven to their
hotel. It was the hour of the German mid-day table d'hote, and they would
be sure to meet him there. The question now was how March should own his
presence in time to prevent his wife from showing her ignorance of it to
Kenby himself, and he was still turning the question hopelessly over in
his mind when the sight of the hotel seemed to remind her of a fact which
"Now, my dear, I am tired to death, and I am not going to sit through a
long table d'hote. I want you to send me up a simple beefsteak and a cup
of tea to our rooms; and I don't want you to come near for hours; because
I intend to take a whole afternoon nap. You can keep all the maps and
plans, and guides, and you had better go and see what the Volksfest is
like; it will give you some notion of the part the people are really
taking in all this official celebration, and you know I don't care. Don't
come up after dinner to see how I am getting along; I shall get along;
and if you should happen to wake me after I had dropped off—"
Kenby had seen them arrive from where he sat at the reading-room window,
waiting for the dinner hour, and had meant to rush out and greet Mrs.
March as they passed up the corridor. But she looked so tired that he had
decided to spare her till she came down to dinner; and as he sat with
March at their soup, he asked if she were not well.
March explained, and he provisionally invented some regrets from her that
she should not see Kenby till supper.
Kenby ordered a bottle of one of the famous Wurzburg wines for their
mutual consolation in her absence, and in the friendliness which its
promoted they agreed to spend the afternoon together. No man is so
inveterate a husband as not to take kindly an occasional release to
bachelor companionship, and before the dinner was over they agreed that
they would go to the Volksfest, and get some notion of the popular life
and amusements of Wurzburg, which was one of the few places where Kenby
had never been before; and they agreed that they would walk.
Their way was partly up the quay of the Main, past a barrack full of
soldiers. They met detachments of soldiers everywhere, infantry,
"This is going to be a great show," Kenby said, meaning the manoeuvres,
and he added, as if now he had kept away from the subject long enough and
had a right to recur to it, at least indirectly, "I should like to have
Rose see it, and get his impressions."
"I've an idea he wouldn't approve of it. His mother says his mind is
turning more and more to philanthropy."
Kenby could not forego such a chance to speak of Mrs. Adding. "It's one
of the prettiest things to see how she understands Rose. It's charming to
see them together. She wouldn't have half the attraction without him."
"Oh, yes," March assented. He had often wondered how a man wishing to
marry a widow managed with the idea of her children by another marriage;
but if Kenby was honest; it was much simpler than he had supposed. He
could not say this to him, however, and in a certain embarrassment he had
with the conjecture in his presence he attempted a diversion. "We're
promised something at the Volksfest which will be a great novelty to us
as Americans. Our driver told us this morning that one of the houses
there was built entirely of wood."
When they reached the grounds of the Volksfest, this civil feature of the
great military event at hand, which the Marches had found largely set
forth in the programme of the parade, did not fully keep the glowing
promises made for it; in fact it could not easily have done so. It was in
a pleasant neighborhood of new villas such as form the modern quarter of
every German city, and the Volksfest was even more unfinished than its
environment. It was not yet enclosed by the fence which was to hide its
wonders from the non-paying public, but March and Kenby went in through
an archway where the gate-money was as effectually collected from them as
if they were barred every other entrance.
The wooden building was easily distinguishable from the other edifices
because these were tents and booths still less substantial. They did not
make out its function, but of the others four sheltered merry-go-rounds,
four were beer-gardens, four were restaurants, and the rest were devoted
to amusements of the usual country-fair type. Apparently they had little
attraction for country people. The Americans met few peasants in the
grounds, and neither at the Edison kinematograph, where they refreshed
their patriotism with some scenes of their native life, nor at the little
theatre where they saw the sports of the arena revived, in the wrestle of
a woman with a bear, did any of the people except tradesmen and artisans
seem to be taking part in the festival expression of the popular
The woman, who finally threw the bear, whether by slight, or by main
strength, or by a previous understanding with him, was a slender
creature, pathetically small and not altogether plain; and March as they
walked away lapsed into a pensive muse upon her strange employ. He
wondered how she came to take it up, and whether she began with the bear
when they were both very young, and she could easily throw him.
"Well, women have a great deal more strength than we suppose," Kenby
began with a philosophical air that gave March the hope of some rational
conversation. Then his eye glazed with a far-off look, and a doting smile
came into his face. "When we went through the Dresden gallery together,
Rose and I were perfectly used up at the end of an hour, but his mother
kept on as long as there was anything to see, and came away as fresh as a
Then March saw that it was useless to expect anything different from him,
and he let him talk on about Mrs. Adding all the rest of the way back to
the hotel. Kenby seemed only to have begun when they reached the door,
and wanted to continue the subject in the reading-room.
March pleaded his wish to find how his wife had got through the
afternoon, and he escaped to her. He would have told her now that Kenby
was in the house, but he was really so sick of the fact himself that he
could not speak of it at once, and he let her go on celebrating all she
had seen from the window since she had waked from her long nap. She said
she could never be glad enough that they had come just at that time.
Soldiers had been going by the whole afternoon, and that made it so
"Yes," he assented. "But aren't you coming up to the station with me to
see the Prince-Regent arrive? He's due at seven, you know."
"I declare I had forgotten all about it. No, I'm not equal to it. You
must go; you can tell me everything; be sure to notice how the Princess
Maria looks; the last of the Stuarts, you know; and some people consider
her the rightful Queen of England; and I'll have the supper ordered, and
we can go down as soon as you've got back."
March felt rather shabby stealing away without Kenby; but he had really
had as much of Mrs. Adding as he could stand, for one day, and he was
even beginning to get sick of Rose. Besides, he had not sent back a line
for 'Every Other Week' yet, and he had made up his mind to write a sketch
of the manoeuvres. To this end he wished to receive an impression of the
Prince-Regent's arrival which should not be blurred or clouded by other
interests. His wife knew the kind of thing he liked to see, and would
have helped him out with his observations, but Kenby would have got in
the way, and would have clogged the movement of his fancy in assigning
the facts to the parts he would like them to play in the sketch.
At least he made some such excuses to himself as he hurried along toward
the Kaiserstrasse. The draught of universal interest in that direction
had left the other streets almost deserted, but as he approached the
thoroughfare he found all the ways blocked, and the horse-cars,
ordinarily so furiously headlong, arrested by the multiple ranks of
spectators on the sidewalks. The avenue leading from the railway station
to the palace was decorated with flags and garlands, and planted with the
stems of young firs and birches. The doorways were crowded, and the
windows dense with eager faces peering out of the draped bunting. The
carriageway was kept clear by mild policemen who now and then allowed one
of the crowd to cross it.
The crowd was made up mostly of women and boys, and when March joined
them, they had already been waiting an hour for the sight of the princes
who were to bless them with a vision of the faery race which kings always
are to common men. He thought the people looked dull, and therefore able
to bear the strain of expectation with patience better than a livelier
race. They relieved it by no attempt at joking; here and there a dim
smile dawned on a weary face, but it seemed an effect of amiability
rather than humor. There was so little of this, or else it was so well
bridled by the solemnity of the occasion, that not a man, woman, or child
laughed when a bareheaded maid-servant broke through the lines and ran
down between them with a life-size plaster bust of the Emperor William in
her arms: she carried it like an overgrown infant, and in alarm at her
conspicuous part she cast frightened looks from side to side without
arousing any sort of notice. Undeterred by her failure, a young dog,
parted from his owner, and seeking him in the crowd, pursued his search
in a wild flight down the guarded roadway with an air of anxiety that in
America would have won him thunders of applause, and all sorts of kindly
encouragements to greater speed. But this German crowd witnessed his
progress apparently without interest, and without a sign of pleasure.
They were there to see the Prince-Regent arrive, and they did not suffer
themselves to be distracted by any preliminary excitement. Suddenly the
indefinable emotion which expresses the fulfilment of expectation in a
waiting crowd passed through the multitude, and before he realized it
March was looking into the friendly gray-bearded face of the
Prince-Regent, for the moment that his carriage allowed in passing. This
came first preceded by four outriders, and followed by other simple
equipages of Bavarian blue, full of highnesses of all grades. Beside the
Regent sat his daughter-in-law, the Princess Maria, her silvered hair
framing a face as plain and good as the Regent's, if not so intelligent.
He, in virtue of having been born in Wurzburg, is officially supposed to
be specially beloved by his fellow townsmen; and they now testified their
affection as he whirled through their ranks, bowing right and left, by
what passes in Germany for a cheer. It is the word Hoch, groaned forth
from abdominal depths, and dismally prolonged in a hollow roar like that
which the mob makes behind the scenes at the theatre before bursting in
visible tumult on the stage. Then the crowd dispersed, and March came
away wondering why such a kindly-looking Prince-Regent should not have
given them a little longer sight of himself; after they had waited so
patiently for hours to see him. But doubtless in those countries, he
concluded, the art of keeping the sovereign precious by suffering him to
be rarely and briefly seen is wisely studied.
On his way home he resolved to confess Kenby's presence; and he did so as
soon as he sat down to supper with his wife. "I ought to have told you
the first thing after breakfast. But when I found you in that mood of
having the place all to ourselves, I put it off."
"You took terrible chances, my dear," she said, gravely.
"And I have been terribly punished. You've no idea how much Kenby has
talked to me about Mrs. Adding!"
She broke out laughing. "Well, perhaps you've suffered enough. But you
can see now, can't you, that it would have been awful if I had met him,
and let out that I didn't know he was here?"
"Terrible. But if I had told, it would have spoiled the whole morning for
you; you couldn't have thought of anything else."
"Oh, I don't know," she said, airily. "What should you think if I told
you I had known he was here ever since last night?" She went on in
delight at the start he gave. "I saw him come into the hotel while you
were gone for the guide-books, and I determined to keep it from you as
long as I could; I knew it would worry you. We've both been very nice;
and I forgive you," she hurried on, "because I've really got something to
"Don't tell me that Burnamy is here!"
"Don't jump to conclusions! No, Burnamy isn't here, poor fellow! And
don't suppose that I'm guilty of concealment because I haven't told you
before. I was just thinking whether I wouldn't spare you till morning,
but now I shall let you take the brunt of it. Mrs. Adding and Rose are
here." She gave the fact time to sink in, and then she added, "And Miss
Triscoe and her father are here."
"What is the matter with Major Eltwin and his wife being here, too? Are
they in our hotel?"
"No, they are not. They came to look for rooms while you were off waiting
for the Prince-Regent, and I saw them. They intended to go to Frankfort
for the manoeuvres, but they heard that there was not even standing-room
there, and so the general telegraphed to the Spanischer Hof, and they all
came here. As it is, he will have to room with Rose, and Agatha and Mrs.
Adding will room together. I didn't think Agatha was looking very well;
she looked unhappy; I don't believe she's heard, from Burnamy yet; I
hadn't a chance to ask her. And there's something else that I'm afraid
will fairly make you sick."
"Oh, no; go on. I don't think anything can do that, after an afternoon of
"It's worse than Kenby," she said with a sigh. "You know I told you at
Carlsbad I thought that ridiculous old thing was making up to Mrs.
"Kenby? Why of co—"
"Don't be stupid, my dear! No, not Kenby: General Triscoe. I wish you
could have been here to see him paying her all sort; of silly attentions,
and hear him making her compliments."
"Thank you. I think I'm just as well without it. Did she pay him silly
attentions and compliments, too?"
"That's the only thing that can make me forgive her for his wanting her.
She was keeping him at arm's-length the whole time, and she was doing it
so as not to make him contemptible before his daughter."
"It must have been hard. And Rose?"
"Rose didn't seem very well. He looks thin and pale; but he's sweeter
than ever. She's certainly commoner clay than Rose. No, I won't say that!
It's really nothing but General Triscoe's being an old goose about her
that makes her seem so, and it isn't fair."
March went down to his coffee in the morning with the delicate duty of
telling Kenby that Mrs. Adding was in town. Kenby seemed to think it
quite natural she should wish to see the manoeuvres, and not at all
strange that she should come to them with General Triscoe and his
daughter. He asked if March would not go with him to call upon her after
breakfast, and as this was in the line of his own instructions from Mrs.
March, he went.
They found Mrs. Adding with the Triscoes, and March saw nothing that was
not merely friendly, or at the most fatherly, in the general's behavior
toward her. If Mrs. Adding or Miss Triscoe saw more, they hid it in a
guise of sisterly affection for each other. At the most the general
showed a gayety which one would not have expected of him under any
conditions, and which the fact that he and Rose had kept each other awake
a good deal the night before seemed so little adapted to call out. He
joked with Rose about their room and their beds, and put on a comradery
with him that was not a perfect fit, and that suffered by contrast with
the pleasure of the boy and Kenby in meeting. There was a certain
question in the attitude of Mrs. Adding till March helped Kenby to
account for his presence; then she relaxed in an effect of security so
tacit that words overstate it, and began to make fun of Rose.
March could not find that Miss Triscoe looked unhappy, as his wife had
said; he thought simply that she had grown plainer; but when he reported
this, she lost her patience with him. In a girl, she said, plainness was
unhappiness; and she wished to know when he would ever learn to look an
inch below the surface: She was sure that Agatha Triscoe had not heard
from Burnamy since the Emperor's birthday; that she was at swords'-points
with her father, and so desperate that she did not care what became of
He had left Kenby with the others, and now, after his wife had talked
herself tired of them all, he proposed going out again to look about the
city, where there was nothing for the moment to remind them of the
presence of their friends or even of their existence. She answered that
she was worrying about all those people, and trying to work out their
problem for them. He asked why she did not let them work it out
themselves as they would have to do, after all her worry, and she said
that where her sympathy had been excited she could not stop worrying,
whether it did any good or not, and she could not respect any one who
could drop things so completely out of his mind as he could; she had
never been able to respect that in him.
"I know, my dear," he assented. "But I don't think it's a question of
moral responsibility; it's a question of mental structure, isn't it? Your
consciousness isn't built in thought-tight compartments, and one emotion
goes all through it, and sinks you; but I simply close the doors and shut
the emotion in, and keep on."
The fancy pleased him so much that he worked it out in all its
implications, and could not, after their long experience of each other,
realize that she was not enjoying the joke too, till she said she saw
that he merely wished to tease. Then, too late, he tried to share her
worry; but she protested that she was not worrying at all; that she cared
nothing about those people: that she was nervous, she was tired; and she
wished he would leave her, and go out alone.
He found himself in the street again, and he perceived that he must be
walking fast when a voice called him by name, and asked him what his
hurry was. The voice was Stoller's, who got into step with him and
followed the first with a second question.
"Made up your mind to go to the manoeuvres with me?"
His bluntness made it easy for March to answer: "I'm afraid my wife
couldn't stand the drive back and forth."
"Come without her."
"Thank you. It's very kind of you. I'm not certain that I shall go at
all. If I do, I shall run out by train, and take my chances with the
Stoller insisted no further. He felt no offence at the refusal of his
offer, or chose to show none. He said, with the same uncouth abruptness
as before: "Heard anything of that fellow since he left Carlsbad?"
"Know where he is?"
"I don't in the least."
Stoller let another silence elapse while they hurried on, before he said,
"I got to thinking what he done afterwards. He wasn't bound to look out
for me; he might suppose I knew what I was about."
March turned his face and stared in Stoller's, which he was letting hang
forward as he stamped heavily on. Had the disaster proved less than he
had feared, and did he still want Burnamy's help in patching up the
broken pieces; or did he really wish to do Burnamy justice to his friend?
In any case March's duty was clear. "I think Burnamy was bound to look
out for you; Mr. Stoller, and I am glad to know that he saw it in the
"I know he did," said Stoker with a blaze as from a long-smouldering
fury, "and damn him, I'm not going to have it. I'm not going to, plead
the baby act with him, or with any man. You tell him so, when you get the
chance. You tell him I don't hold him accountable for anything I made him
do. That ain't business; I don't want him around me, any more; but if he
wants to go back to the paper he can have his place. You tell him I stand
by what I done; and it's all right between him and me. I hain't done
anything about it, the way I wanted him to help me to; I've let it lay,
and I'm a-going to. I guess it ain't going to do me any harm, after all;
our people hain't got very long memories; but if it is, let it. You tell
him it's all right."
"I don't know where he is, Mr. Stoller, and I don't know that I care to
be the bearer of your message," said March.
"Why, for one thing, I don't agree with you that it's all right. Your
choosing to stand by the consequences of Burnamy's wrong doesn't undo it.
As I understand, you don't pardon it—"
Stoller gulped and did not answer at once. Then he said, "I stand by what
I done. I'm not going to let him say I turned him down for doing what I
told him to, because I hadn't the sense to know what I was about."
"Ah, I don't think it's a thing he'll like to speak of in any case," said
Stoller left him, at the corner they had reached, as abruptly as he had
joined him, and March hurried back to his wife, and told her what had
just passed between him and Stoller.
She broke out, "Well, I am surprised at you, my dear! You have always
accused me of suspecting people, and attributing bad motives; and here
you've refused even to give the poor man the benefit of the doubt. He
merely wanted to save his savage pride with you, and that's all he wants
to do with Burnamy. How could it hurt the poor boy to know that Stoller
doesn't blame him? Why should you refuse to give his message to Burnamy?
I don't want you to ridicule me for my conscience any more, Basil; you're
twice as bad as I ever was. Don't you think that a person can ever
expiate an offence? I've often heard you say that if any one owned his
fault, he put it from him, and it was the same as if it hadn't been; and
hasn't Burnamy owned up over and over again? I'm astonished at you,
March was in fact somewhat astonished at himself in the light of her
reasoning; but she went on with some sophistries that restored him to his
"I suppose you think he has interfered with Stoller's political ambition,
and injured him in that way. Well, what if he has? Would it be a good
thing to have a man like that succeed in politics? You're always saying
that the low character of our politicians is the ruin of the country; and
I'm sure," she added, with a prodigious leap over all the sequences,
"that Mr. Stoller is acting nobly; and it's your duty to help him relieve
Burnamy's mind." At the laugh he broke into she hastened to say, "Or if
you won't, I hope you'll not object to my doing so, for I shall, anyway!"
She rose as if she were going to begin at once, in spite of his laughing;
and in fact she had already a plan for coming to Stoller's assistance by
getting at Burnamy through Miss Triscoe, whom she suspected of knowing
where he was. There had been no chance for them to speak of him either
that morning or the evening before, and after a great deal of controversy
with herself in her husband's presence she decided to wait till they came
naturally together the next morning for the walk to the Capuchin Church
on the hill beyond the river, which they had agreed to take. She could
not keep from writing a note to Miss Triscoe begging her to be sure to
come, and hinting that she had something very important to speak of.
She was not sure but she had been rather silly to do this, but when they
met the girl confessed that she had thought of giving up the walk, and
might not have come except for Mrs. March's note. She had come with Rose,
and had left him below with March; Mrs. Adding was coming later with
Kenby and General Triscoe.
Mrs. March lost no time in telling her the great news; and if she had
been in doubt before of the girl's feeling for Burnamy she was now in
none. She had the pleasure of seeing her flush with hope, and then the
pain which was also a pleasure, of seeing her blanch with dismay.
"I don't know where he is, Mrs. March. I haven't heard a word from him
since that night in Carlsbad. I expected—I didn't know but you—"
Mrs. March shook her head. She treated the fact skillfully as something
to be regretted simply because it would be such a relief to Burnamy to
know how Mr. Stoller now felt. Of course they could reach him somehow;
you could always get letters to people in Europe, in the end; and, in
fact, it was altogether probable that he was that very instant in
Wurzburg; for if the New York-Paris Chronicle had wanted him to write up
the Wagner operas, it would certainly want him to write up the
manoeuvres. She established his presence in Wurzburg by such an
irrefragable chain of reasoning that, at a knock outside, she was just
able to kelp back a scream, while she ran to open the door. It was not
Burnamy, as in compliance with every nerve it ought to have been, but her
husband, who tried to justify his presence by saying that they were all
waiting for her and Miss Triscoe, and asked when they were coming.
She frowned him silent, and then shut herself outside with him long
enough to whisper, "Say she's got a headache, or anything you please; but
don't stop talking here with me, or I shall go wild." She then shut
herself in again, with the effect of holding him accountable for the
General Triscoe could not keep his irritation, at hearing that his
daughter was not coming, out of the excuses he made to Mrs. Adding; he
said again and again that it must seem like a discourtesy to her. She
gayly disclaimed any such notion; she would not hear of putting off their
excursion to another day; it had been raining just long enough to give
them a reasonable hope of a few hours' drought, and they might not have
another dry spell for weeks. She slipped off her jacket after they
started, and gave it to Kenby, but she let General Triscoe hold her
umbrella over her, while he limped beside her. She seemed to March, as he
followed with Rose, to be playing the two men off against each other,
with an ease which he wished his wife could be there to see, and to judge
They crossed by the Old Bridge, which is of the earliest years of the
seventh century, between rows of saints whose statues surmount the piers.
Some are bishops as well as saints; one must have been at Rome in his
day, for he wore his long thick beard in the fashion of Michelangelo's
Moses. He stretched out toward the passers two fingers of blessing and
was unaware of the sparrow which had lighted on them and was giving him
the effect of offering it to the public admiration. Squads of soldiers
tramping by turned to look and smile, and the dull faces of citizens
lighted up at the quaint sight. Some children stopped and remained very
quiet, not to scare away the bird; and a cold-faced, spiritual-looking
priest paused among them as if doubting whether to rescue the
absent-minded bishop from a situation derogatory to his dignity; but he
passed on, and then the sparrow suddenly flew off.
Rose Adding had lingered for the incident with March, but they now pushed
on, and came up with the others at the end of the bridge, where they
found them in question whether they had not better take a carriage and
drive to the foot of the hill before they began their climb. March
thanked them, but said he was keeping up the terms of his cure, and was
getting in all the walking he could. Rose begged his mother not to
include him in the driving party; he protested that he was feeling so
well, and the walk was doing him good. His mother consented, if he would
promise not to get tired, and then she mounted into the two-spanner which
had driven instinctively up to their party when their parley began, and
General Triscoe took the place beside her, while Kenby, with smiling
patience, seated himself in front.
Rose kept on talking with March about Wurzburg and its history, which it
seemed he had been reading the night before when he could not sleep. He
explained, "We get little histories of the places wherever we go. That's
what Mr. Kenby does, you know."
"Oh, yes," said March.
"I don't suppose I shall get a chance to read much here," Rose continued,
"with General Triscoe in the room. He doesn't like the light."
"Well, well. He's rather old, you know. And you musn't read too much,
Rose. It isn't good for you."
"I know, but if I don't read, I think, and that keeps me awake worse. Of
course, I respect General Triscoe for being in the war, and getting
wounded," the boy suggested.
"A good many did it," March was tempted to say.
The boy did not notice his insinuation. "I suppose there were some things
they did in the army, and then they couldn't get over the habit. But
General Grant says in his 'Life' that he never used a profane expletive."
"Does General Triscoe?"
Rose answered reluctantly, "If anything wakes him in the night, or if he
can't make these German beds over to suit him—"
"I see." March turned his face to hide the smile which he would not have
let the boy detect. He thought best not to let Rose resume his
impressions of the general; and in talk of weightier matters they found
themselves at that point of the climb where the carriage was waiting for
them. From this point they followed an alley through ivied, garden walls,
till they reached the first of the balustraded terraces which ascend to
the crest of the hill where the church stands. Each terrace is planted
with sycamores, and the face of the terrace wall supports a bass-relief
commemorating with the drama of its lifesize figures the stations of the
Monks and priests were coming and going, and dropped on the steps leading
from terrace to terrace were women and children on their knees in prayer.
It was all richly reminiscent of pilgrim scenes in other Catholic lands;
but here there was a touch of earnest in the Northern face of the
worshipers which the South had never imparted. Even in the beautiful
rococo interior of the church at the top of the hill there was a sense of
something deeper and truer than mere ecclesiasticism; and March came out
of it in a serious muse while the boy at his side did nothing to
interrupt. A vague regret filled his heart as he gazed silently out over
the prospect of river and city and vineyard, purpling together below the
top where he stood, and mixed with this regret was a vague resentment of
his wife's absence. She ought to have been there to share his pang and
his pleasure; they had so long enjoyed everything together that without
her he felt unable to get out of either emotion all there was in it.
The forgotten boy stole silently down the terraces after the rest of the
party who had left him behind with March. At the last terrace they
stopped and waited; and after a delay that began to be long to Mrs.
Adding, she wondered aloud what could have become of them.
Kenby promptly offered to go back and see, and she consented in seeming
to refuse: "It isn't worth while. Rose has probably got Mr. March into
some deep discussion, and they've forgotten all about us. But if you will
go, Mr. Kenby, you might just remind Rose of my existence." She let him
lay her jacket on her shoulders before he left her, and then she sat down
on one of the steps, which General Triscoe kept striking with the point
of her umbrella as he stood before her.
"I really shall have to take it from you if you do that any more," she
said, laughing up in his face. "I'm serious."
He stopped. "I wish I could believe you were serious, for a moment."
"You may, if you think it will do you any good. But I don't see why."
The general smiled, but with a kind of tremulous eagerness which might
have been pathetic to any one who liked him. "Do you know this is almost
the first time I have spoken alone with you?"
"Really, I hadn't noticed," said Mrs. Adding.
General Triscoe laughed in rather a ghastly way. "Well, that's
encouraging, at least, to a man who's had his doubts whether it wasn't
"Intended? By whom? What do you mean, General Triscoe? Why in the world
shouldn't you have spoken alone with me before?"
He was not, with all his eagerness, ready to say, and while she smiled
pleasantly she had the look in her eyes of being brought to bay and being
prepared, if it must come to that, to have the worst over, then and
there. She was not half his age, but he was aware of her having no
respect for his years; compared with her average American past as he
understood it, his social place was much higher, but, she was not in the
least awed by it; in spite of his war record she was making him behave
like a coward. He was in a false position, and if he had any one but
himself to blame he had not her. He read her equal knowledge of these
facts in the clear eyes that made him flush and turn his own away.
Then he started with a quick "Hello!" and stood staring up at the steps
from the terrace above, where Rose Adding was staying himself weakly by a
clutch of Kenby on one side and March on the other.
His mother looked round and caught herself up from where she sat and ran
toward him. "Oh, Rose!"
"It's nothing, mother," he called to her, and as she dropped on her knees
before him he sank limply against her. "It was like what I had in
Carlsbad; that's all. Don't worry about me, please!"
"I'm not worrying, Rose," she said with courage of the same texture as
his own. "You've been walking too much. You must go back in the carriage
with us. Can't you have it come here?" she asked Kenby.
"There's no road, Mrs. Adding. But if Rose would let me carry him—"
"I can walk," the boy protested, trying to lift himself from her neck.
"No, no! you mustn't." She drew away and let him fall into the arms that
Kenby put round him. He raised the frail burden lightly to his shoulder,
and moved strongly away, followed by the eyes of the spectators who had
gathered about the little group, but who dispersed now, and went back to
March hurried after Kenby with Mrs. Adding, whom he told he had just
missed Rose and was looking about for him, when Kenby came with her
message for them. They made sure that he was nowhere about the church,
and then started together down the terraces. At the second or third
station below they found the boy clinging to the barrier that protected
the bass-relief from the zeal of the devotees. He looked white and sick,
though he insisted that he was well, and when he turned to come away with
them he reeled and would have fallen if Kenby had not caught him. Kenby
wanted to carry him, but Rose would not let him, and had made his way
down between them.
"Yea, he has such a spirit," she said, "and I've no doubt he's suffering
now more from Mr. Kenby's kindness than from his own sickness he had one
of these giddy turns in Carlsbad, though, and I shall certainly have a
doctor to see him."
"I think I should, Mrs. Adding," said March, not too gravely, for it
seemed to him that it was not quite his business to alarm her further, if
she was herself taking the affair with that seriousness. He questioned
whether she was taking it quite seriously enough, when she turned with a
laugh, and called to General Triscoe, who was limping down the steps of
the last terrace behind them:
"Oh, poor General Triscoe! I thought you had gone on ahead."
General Triscoe could not enter into the joke of being forgotten,
apparently. He assisted with gravity at the disposition of the party for
the return, when they all reached the carriage. Rose had the place beside
his mother, and Kenby wished March to take his with the general and let
him sit with the driver; but he insisted that he would rather walk home,
and he did walk till they had driven out of eight. Then he called a
passing one-spanner, and drove to his hotel in comfort and silence.
Kenby did not come to the Swan before supper; then he reported that the
doctor had said Rose was on the verge of a nervous collapse. He had
overworked at school, but the immediate trouble was the high, thin air,
which the doctor said he must be got out of at once, into a quiet place
at the sea-shore somewhere. He had suggested Ostend; or some point on the
French coast; Kenby had thought of Schevleningen, and the doctor had said
that would do admirably.
"I understood from Mrs. Adding," he concluded, "that you were going.
there for your after-cure, Mr. March, and I didn't know but you might be
At the mention of Schevleningen the Marches had looked at each other with
a guilty alarm, which they both tried to give the cast of affectionate
sympathy but she dismissed her fear that he might be going to let his
compassion prevail with him to his hurt when he said: "Why, we ought to
have been there before this, but I've been taking my life in my hands in
trying to see a little of Germany, and I'm afraid now that Mrs. March has
her mind too firmly fixed on Berlin to let me think of going to
Schevleningen till we've been there."
"It's too bad!" said Mrs. March, with real regret. "I wish we were
going." But she had not the least notion of gratifying her wish; and they
were all silent till Kenby broke out:
"Look here! You know how I feel about Mrs Adding! I've been pretty frank
with Mr. March myself, and I've had my suspicions that she's been frank
with you, Mrs. March. There isn't any doubt about my wanting to marry
her, and up to this time there hasn't been any doubt about her not
wanting to marry me. But it isn't a question of her or of me, now. It's a
question of Rose. I love the boy," and Kenby's voice shook, and he
faltered a moment. "Pshaw! You understand."
"Indeed I do, Mr. Kenby," said Mrs. March. "I perfectly understand you."
"Well, I don't think Mrs. Adding is fit to make the journey with him
alone, or to place herself in the best way after she gets to
Schevleningen. She's been badly shaken up; she broke down before the
doctor; she said she didn't know what to do; I suppose she's
Kenby stopped again, and March asked, "When is she going?"
"To-morrow," said Kenby, and he added, "And now the question is, why
shouldn't I go with her?"
Mrs. March gave a little start, and looked at her husband, but he said
nothing, and Kenby seemed not to have supposed that he would say
"I know it would be very American, and all that, but I happen to be an
American, and it wouldn't be out of character for me. I suppose," he
appealed to Mrs. March, "that it's something I might offer to do if it
were from New York to Florida—and I happened to be going there? And I
did happen to be going to Holland."
"Why, of course, Mr. Kenby," she responded, with such solemnity that
March gave way in an outrageous laugh.
Kenby laughed, and Mrs. March laughed too, but with an inner note of
"Well," Kenby continued, still addressing her, "what I want you to do is
to stand by me when I propose it."
Mrs. March gathered strength to say, "No, Mr. Kenby, it's your own
affair, and you must take the responsibility."
"Do you disapprove?"
"It isn't the same as it would be at home. You see that yourself."
"Well," said Kenby, rising, "I have to arrange about their getting away
to-morrow. It won't be easy in this hurly-burly that's coming off."
"Give Rose our love; and tell Mrs. Adding that I'll come round and see
her to-morrow before she starts."
"Oh! I'm afraid you can't, Mrs. March. They're to start at six in the
"They are! Then we must go and see them tonight. We'll be there almost as
soon as you are."
March went up to their rooms with, his wife, and she began on the stairs:
"Well, my dear, I hope you realize that your laughing so gave us
completely away. And what was there to keep grinning about, all through?"
"Nothing but the disingenuous, hypocritical passion of love. It's always
the most amusing thing in the world; but to see it trying to pass itself
off in poor old Kenby as duty and humanity, and disinterested affection
for Rose, was more than I could stand. I don't apologize for laughing; I
wanted to yell."
His effrontery and his philosophy both helped to save him; and she said
from the point where he had side-tracked her mind: "I don't call it
disingenuous. He was brutally frank. He's made it impossible to treat the
affair with dignity. I want you to leave the whole thing to me, from this
out. Now, will you?"
On their way to the Spanischer Hof she arranged in her own mind for Mrs.
Adding to get a maid, and for the doctor to send an assistant with her on
the journey, but she was in such despair with her scheme that she had not
the courage to right herself when Mrs. Adding met her with the appeal:
"Oh, Mrs. March, I'm so glad you approve of Mr. Kenby's plan. It does
seem the only thing to do. I can't trust myself alone with Rose, and Mr.
Kenby's intending to go to Schevleningen a few days later anyway. Though
it's too bad to let him give up the manoeuvres."
"I'm sure he won't mind that," Mrs. March's voice said mechanically,
while her thought was busy with the question whether this scandalous
duplicity was altogether Kenby's, and whether Mrs. Adding was as
guiltless of any share in it as she looked. She looked pitifully
distracted; she might not have understood his report; or Kenby might
really have mistaken Mrs. March's sympathy for favor.
"No, he only lives to do good," Mrs. Adding returned. "He's with Rose;
won't you come in and see them?"
Rose was lying back on the pillows of a sofa, from which they would not
let him get up. He was full of the trip to Holland, and had already
pushed Kenby, as Kenby owned, beyond the bounds of his very general
knowledge of the Dutch language, which Rose had plans for taking up after
they were settled in Schevleningen. The boy scoffed at the notion that he
was not perfectly well, and he wished to talk with March on the points
where he had found Kenby wanting.
"Kenby is an encyclopaedia compared with me, Rose," the editor protested,
and he amplified his ignorance for the boy's good to an extent which Rose
saw was a joke. He left Holland to talk about other things which his
mother thought quite as bad for him. He wished to know if March did not
think that the statue of the bishop with the sparrow on its finger was a
subject for a poem; and March said gayly that if Rose would write it he
would print it in 'Every Other Week'.
The boy flushed with pleasure at his banter. "No, I couldn't do it. But I
wish Mr. Burnamy had seen it. He could. Will you tell him about it?" He
wanted to know if March had heard from Burnamy lately, and in the midst
of his vivid interest he gave a weary sigh.
His mother said that now he had talked enough, and bade him say good-by
to the Marches, who were coming so soon to Holland, anyway. Mrs. March
put her arms round him to kiss him, and when she let him sink back her
eyes were dim.
"You see how frail he is?" said Mrs. Adding. "I shall not let him out of
my sight, after this, till he's well again."
She had a kind of authority in sending Kenby away with them which was not
lost upon the witnesses. He asked them to come into the reading-room a
moment with him, and Mrs. March wondered if he were going to make some
excuse to her for himself; but he said: "I don't know how we're to manage
about the Triscoes. The general will have a room to himself, but if Mrs.
Adding takes Rose in with her, it leaves Miss Triscoe out, and there
isn't a room to be had in this house for love or money. Do you think," he
appealed directly to Mrs. March, "that it would do to offer her my room
at the Swan?"
"Why, yes," she assented, with a reluctance rather for the complicity in
which he had already involved her, and for which he was still unpunished,
than for what he was now proposing. "Or she could come in with me, and
Mr. March could take it."
"Whichever you think," said Kenby so submissively that she relented, to
"And what will you do?"
He laughed. "Well, people have been known to sleep in a chair. I shall
"You might offer to go in with the general," March suggested, and the men
apparently thought this was a joke. Mrs. March did not laugh in her
feminine worry about ways and means.
"Where is Miss Triscoe?" she asked. "We haven't seen them."
"Didn't Mrs. Adding tell you? They went to supper at a restaurant; the
general doesn't like the cooking here. They ought to have been back
He looked up at the clock on the wall, and she said, "I suppose you would
like us to wait."
"It would be very kind of you."
"Oh, it's quite essential," she returned with an airy freshness which
Kenby did not seem to feel as painfully as he ought.
They all sat down, and the Triscoes came in after a few minutes, and a
cloud on the general's face lifted at the proposition Kenby left Mrs.
March to make.
"I thought that child ought to be in his mother's charge," he said. With
his own comfort provided for, he made no objections to Mrs. March's plan;
and Agatha went to take leave of Rose and his mother. "By-the-way," the
general turned to March, "I found Stoller at the restaurant where we
supped. He offered me a place in his carriage for the manoeuvres. How are
"I think I shall go by train. I don't fancy the long drive."
"Well, I don't know that it's worse than the long walk after you leave
the train," said the general from the offence which any difference of
taste was apt to give him. "Are you going by train, too?" he asked Kenby
"I'm not going at all," said Kenby. "I'm leaving Wurzburg in the
"Oh, indeed," said the general.
Mrs. March could not make out whether he knew that Kenby was going with
Rose and Mrs. Adding, but she felt that there must be a full and open
recognition of the fact among them. "Yes," she said, "isn't it fortunate
that Mr. Kenby should be going to Holland, too! I should have been so
unhappy about them if Mrs. Adding had been obliged to make that long
journey with poor little Rose alone."
"Yes, yes; very fortunate, certainly," said the general colorlessly.
Her husband gave her a glance of intelligent appreciation; but Kenby was
too simply, too densely content with the situation to know the value of
what she had done. She thought he must certainly explain, as he walked
back with her to the Swan, whether he had misrepresented her to Mrs.
Adding, or Mrs. Adding had misunderstood him. Somewhere there had been an
error, or a duplicity which it was now useless to punish; and Kenby was
so apparently unconscious of it that she had not the heart to be cross
with him. She heard Miss Triscoe behind her with March laughing in the
gayety which the escape from her father seemed to inspire in her. She was
promising March to go with him in the morning to see the Emperor and
Empress of Germany arrive at the station, and he was warning her that if
she laughed there, like that, she would subject him to fine and
imprisonment. She pretended that she would like to see him led off
between two gendarmes, but consented to be a little careful when he asked
her how she expected to get back to her hotel without him, if such a
After all, Miss Triscoe did not go with March; she preferred to sleep.
The imperial party was to arrive at half past seven, but at six the crowd
was already dense before the station, and all along the street leading to
the Residenz. It was a brilliant day, with the promise of sunshine,
through which a chilly wind blew, for the manoeuvres. The colors of all
the German states flapped in this breeze from the poles wreathed with
evergreen which encircled the square; the workmen putting the last
touches on the bronzed allegory hurried madly to be done, and they had,
scarcely finished their labors when two troops of dragoons rode into the
place and formed before the station, and waited as motionlessly as their
horses would allow.
These animals were not so conscious as lions at the approach of princes;
they tossed and stamped impatiently in the long interval before the
Regent and his daughter-in-law came to welcome their guests. All the
human beings, both those who were in charge and those who were under
charge, were in a quiver of anxiety to play their parts well, as if there
were some heavy penalty for failure in the least point. The policemen
keeping the people, in line behind the ropes which restrained them
trembled with eagerness; the faces of some of the troopers twitched. An
involuntary sigh went up from the crowd as the Regent's carriage
appeared, heralded by outriders, and followed by other plain carriages of
Bavarian blue with liveries of blue and silver. Then the whistle of the
Kaiser's train sounded; a trumpeter advanced and began to blow his
trumpet as they do in the theatre; and exactly at the appointed moment
the Emperor and Empress came out of the station through the brilliant
human alley leading from it, mounted their carriages, with the stage
trumpeter always blowing, and whirled swiftly round half the square and
flashed into the corner toward the Residenz out of sight. The same hollow
groans of Ho-o-o-ch greeted and followed them from the spectators as had
welcomed the Regent when he first arrived among his fellow-townsmen, with
the same effect of being the conventional cries of a stage mob behind the
The Emperor was like most of his innumerable pictures, with a swarthy
face from which his blue eyes glanced pleasantly; he looked good-humored
if not good-natured; the Empress smiled amiably beneath her deeply
fringed white parasol, and they both bowed right and left in
acknowledgment of those hollow groans; but again it seemed, to March that
sovereignty, gave the popular curiosity, not to call it devotion, a
scantier return than it merited. He had perhaps been insensibly working
toward some such perception as now came to him that the great difference
between Europe and America was that in Europe life is histrionic and
dramatized, and that in America, except when it is trying to be European,
it is direct and sincere. He wondered whether the innate conviction of
equality, the deep, underlying sense of a common humanity transcending
all social and civic pretences, was what gave their theatrical effect to
the shows of deference from low to high, and of condescension from high
to low. If in such encounters of sovereigns and subjects, the prince did
not play his part so well as the people, it might be that he had a harder
part to play, and that to support his dignity at all, to keep from being
found out the sham that he essentially was, he had to hurry across the
stage amidst the distracting thunders of the orchestra. If the star staid
to be scrutinized by the soldiers, citizens, and so forth, even the poor
supernumeraries and scene-shifters might see that he was a tallow candle
In the censorious mood induced by the reflection that he had waited an
hour and a half for half a minute's glimpse of the imperial party, March
now decided not to go to the manoeuvres, where he might be subjected to
still greater humiliation and disappointment. He had certainly come to
Wurzburg for the manoeuvres, but Wurzburg had been richly repaying in
itself; and why should he stifle half an hour in an overcrowded train,
and struggle for three miles on foot against that harsh wind, to see a
multitude of men give proofs of their fitness to do manifold murder? He
was, in fact, not the least curious for the sight, and the only thing
that really troubled him was the question of how he should justify his
recreance to his wife. This did alloy the pleasure with which he began,
after an excellent breakfast at a neighboring cafe, to stroll about the
streets, though he had them almost to himself, so many citizens had
followed the soldiers to the manoeuvres.
It was not till the soldiers began returning from the manoeuvres,
dusty-footed, and in white canvas overalls drawn over their trousers to
save them, that he went back to Mrs. March and Miss Triscoe at the Swan.
He had given them time enough to imagine him at the review, and to wonder
whether he had seen General Triscoe and the Stollers there, and they met
him with such confident inquiries that he would not undeceive them at
once. He let them divine from his inventive answers that he had not gone
to the manoeuvres, which put them in the best humor with themselves, and
the girl said it was so cold and rough that she wished her father had not
gone, either. The general appeared just before dinner and frankly avowed
the same wish. He was rasping and wheezing from the dust which filled his
lungs; he looked blown and red, and he was too angry with the company he
had been in to have any comments on the manoeuvres. He referred to the
military chiefly in relation to the Miss Stollers' ineffectual
flirtations, which he declared had been outrageous. Their father had
apparently no control over them whatever, or else was too ignorant to
know that they were misbehaving. They were without respect or reverence
for any one; they had talked to General Triscoe as if he were a boy of
their own age, or a dotard whom nobody need mind; they had not only kept
up their foolish babble before him, they had laughed and giggled, they
had broken into snatches of American song, they had all but whistled and
danced. They made loud comments in Illinois English—on the cuteness of
the officers whom they admired, and they had at one time actually got out
their handkerchiefs. He supposed they meant to wave them at the officers,
but at the look he gave them they merely put their hats together and
snickered in derision of him. They were American girls of the worst type;
they conformed to no standard of behavior; their conduct was personal.
They ought to be taken home.
Mrs. March said she saw what he meant, and she agreed with him that they
were altogether unformed, and were the effect of their own ignorant
caprices. Probably, however, it was too late to amend them by taking them
"It would hide them, at any rate," he answered. "They would sink back
into the great mass of our vulgarity, and not be noticed. We behave like
a parcel of peasants with our women. We think that if no harm is meant or
thought, we may risk any sort of appearance, and we do things that are
scandalously improper simply because they are innocent. That may be all
very well at home, but people who prefer that sort of thing had better
stay there, where our peasant manners won't make them conspicuous."
As their train ran northward out of Wurzburg that afternoon, Mrs. March
recurred to the general's closing words. "That was a slap at Mrs. Adding
for letting Kenby go off with her."
She took up the history of the past twenty-four hours, from the time
March had left her with Miss Triscoe when he went with her father and the
Addings and Kenby to see that church. She had had no chance to bring up
these arrears until now, and she atoned to herself for the delay by
making the history very full, and going back and adding touches at any
point where she thought she had scanted it. After all, it consisted
mainly of fragmentary intimations from Miss Triscoe and of half-uttered
questions which her own art now built into a coherent statement.
March could not find that the general had much resented Burnamy's
clandestine visit to Carlsbad when his daughter told him of it, or that
he had done more than make her promise that she would not keep up the
acquaintance upon any terms unknown to him.
"Probably," Mrs. March said, "as long as he had any hopes of Mrs. Adding,
he was a little too self-conscious to be very up and down about Burnamy."
"Then you think he was really serious about her?"
"Now my dear! He was so serious that I suppose he was never so completely
taken aback in his life as when he met Kenby in Wurzburg and saw how she
received him. Of course, that put an end to the fight."
"Yes—that Mrs. Adding and Agatha were keeping up to prevent his offering
"Oh! And how do you know that they were keeping up the fight together?"
"How do I? Didn't you see yourself what friends they were? Did you tell
him what Stoller had, said about Burnamy?"
"I had no chance. I don't know that I should have done it, anyway. It
wasn't my affair."
"Well, then, I think you might. It would have been everything for that
poor child; it would have completely justified her in her own eyes."
"Perhaps your telling her will serve the same purpose."
"Yes, I did tell her, and I am glad of it. She had a right to know it."
"Did she think Stoller's willingness to overlook Burnamy's performance
had anything to do with its moral quality?"
Mrs. March was daunted for the moment, but she said, "I told her you
thought that if a person owned to a fault they disowned it, and put it
away from them just as if it had never been committed; and that if a
person had taken their punishment for a wrong they had done, they had
expiated it so far as anybody else was concerned. And hasn't poor Burnamy
As a moralist March was flattered to be hoist with his own petard, but as
a husband he was not going to come down at once. "I thought probably you
had told her that. You had it pat from having just been over it with me.
When has she heard from him?"
"Why, that's the strangest thing about it. She hasn't heard at all. She
doesn't know where he is. She thought we must know. She was terribly
"How did she show it?"
"She didn't show it. Either you want to tease, or you've forgotten how
such things are with young people—or at least girls."
"Yes, it's all a long time ago with me, and I never was a girl. Besides,
the frank and direct behavior of Kenby and Mrs. Adding has been very
obliterating to my early impressions of love-making."
"It certainly hasn't been ideal," said Mrs. March with a sigh.
"Why hasn't it been ideal?" he asked. "Kenby is tremendously in love with
her; and I believe she's had a fancy for him from the beginning. If it
hadn't been for Rose she would have accepted him at once; and now he's
essential to them both in their helplessness. As for Papa Triscoe and his
Europeanized scruples, if they have any reality at all they're the
residuum of his personal resentment, and Kenby and Mrs. Adding have
nothing to do with their unreality. His being in love with her is no
reason why he shouldn't be helpful to her when she needs him, and every
reason why he should. I call it a poem, such as very few people have the
luck to live out together."
Mrs. March listened with mounting fervor, and when he stopped, she cried
out, "Well, my dear, I do believe you are right! It is ideal, as you say;
it's a perfect poem. And I shall always say—"
She stopped at the mocking light which she caught in his look, and
perceived that he had been amusing himself with her perennial enthusiasm
for all sorts of love-affairs. But she averred that she did not care;
what he had said was true, and she should always hold him to it.
They were again in the wedding-journey sentiment in which they had left
Carlsbad, when they found themselves alone together after their escape
from the pressure of others' interests. The tide of travel was towards
Frankfort, where the grand parade was to take place some days later. They
were going to Weimar, which was so few hours out of their way that they
simply must not miss it; and all the way to the old literary capital they
were alone in their compartment, with not even a stranger, much less a
friend to molest them. The flying landscape without was of their own
early autumnal mood, and when the vineyards of Wurzburg ceased to purple
it, the heavy after-math of hay and clover, which men, women, and
children were loading on heavy wains, and driving from the meadows
everywhere, offered a pastoral and pleasing change. It was always the
German landscape; sometimes flat and fertile, sometimes hilly and poor;
often clothed with dense woods, but always charming, with castled tops in
ruin or repair, and with levels where Gothic villages drowsed within
their walls, and dreamed of the mediaeval past, silent, without apparent
life, except for some little goose-girl driving her flock before her as
she sallied out into the nineteenth century in search of fresh pasturage.
As their train mounted among the Thuringian uplands they were aware of a
finer, cooler air through their open window. The torrents foamed white
out of the black forests of fir and pine, and brawled along the valleys,
where the hamlets roused themselves in momentary curiosity as the train
roared into them from the many tunnels. The afternoon sunshine had the
glister of mountain sunshine everywhere, and the travellers had a
pleasant bewilderment in which their memories of Switzerland and the
White Mountains mixed with long-dormant emotions from Adirondack
sojourns. They chose this place and that in the lovely region where they
lamented that they had not come at once for the after-cure, and they
appointed enough returns to it in future years to consume all the summers
they had left to live.
It was falling night when they reached Weimar, where they found at the
station a provision of omnibuses far beyond the hotel accommodations.
They drove first to the Crown-Prince, which was in a promising state of
reparation, but which for the present could only welcome them to an
apartment where a canvas curtain cut them off from a freshly plastered
wall. The landlord deplored the fact, and sent hospitably out to try and
place them at the Elephant. But the Elephant was full, and the Russian
Court was full too. Then the landlord of the Crown-Prince bethought
himself of a new hotel, of the second class, indeed, but very nice, where
they might get rooms, and after the delay of an hour, they got a carriage
and drove away from the Crown-Prince, where the landlord continued to the
last as benevolent as if they had been a profit instead of a loss to him.
The streets of the town at nine o'clock were empty and quiet, and they
instantly felt the academic quality of the place. Through the pale night
they could see that the architecture was of the classic sentiment which
they were destined to feel more and more; at one point they caught a
fleeting glimpse of two figures with clasped hands and half embraced,
which they knew for the statues of Goethe and Schiller; and when they
mounted to their rooms at the Grand-Duke of Saxe-Weimar, they passed
under a fresco representing Goethe and four other world-famous poets,
Shakspere, Milton, Tasso, and Schiller. The poets all looked like
Germans, as was just, and Goethe was naturally chief among them; he
marshalled the immortals on their way, and Schiller brought up the rear
and kept them from going astray in an Elysium where they did not speak
the language. For the rest, the hotel was brand-new, of a quite American
freshness, and was pervaded by a sweet smell as of straw matting, and
provided with steam-radiators. In the sense of its homelikeness the
Marches boasted that they were never going away from it.
In the morning they discovered that their windows looked out on the
grand-ducal museum, with a gardened space before and below its
classicistic bulk, where, in a whim of the weather, the gay flowers were
full of sun. In a pleasant illusion of taking it unawares, March strolled
up through the town; but Weimar was as much awake at that hour as at any
of the twenty-four, and the tranquillity of its streets, where he
encountered a few passers several blocks apart, was their habitual mood.
He came promptly upon two objects which he would willingly have shunned:
a 'denkmal' of the Franco-German war, not so furiously bad as most German
monuments, but antipathetic and uninteresting, as all patriotic monuments
are; and a woman-and-dog team. In the shock from this he was sensible
that he had not seen any woman-and-dog teams for some time, and he
wondered by what civic or ethnic influences their distribution was so
controlled that they should have abounded in Hamburg, Leipsic, and
Carlsbad, and wholly ceased in Nuremberg, Ansbach, and Wurzburg, to
reappear again in Weimar, though they seemed as characteristic of all
Germany as the ugly denkmals to her victories over France.
The Goethe and Schiller monument which he had glimpsed the night before
was characteristic too, but less offensively so. German statues at the
best are conscious; and the poet-pair, as the inscription calls them,
have the air of showily confronting posterity with their clasped hands,
and of being only partially rapt from the spectators. But they were more
unconscious than any other German statues that March had seen, and he
quelled a desire to ask Goethe, as he stood with his hand on Schiller's
shoulder, and looked serenely into space far above one of the typical
equipages of his country, what he thought of that sort of thing. But upon
reflection he did not know why Goethe should be held personally
responsible for the existence of the woman-and-dog team. He felt that he
might more reasonably attribute to his taste the prevalence of classic
profiles which he began to note in the Weimar populace. This could be a
sympathetic effect of that passion for the antique which the poet brought
back with him from his sojourn in Italy; though many of the people,
especially the children, were bow-legged. Perhaps the antique had: begun
in their faces, and had not yet got down to their legs; in any case they
were charming children, and as a test of their culture, he had a mind to
ask a little girl if she could tell him where the statue of Herder was,
which he thought he might as well take in on his ramble, and so be done
with as many statues as he could. She answered with a pretty regret in
her tender voice, "That I truly cannot," and he was more satisfied than
if she could, for he thought it better to be a child and honest, than to
know where any German statue was.
He easily found it for himself in the place which is called the Herder
Platz after it. He went into the Peter and Paul Church there; where
Herder used to preach sermons, sometimes not at all liked by the nobility
and gentry for their revolutionary tendency; the sovereign was shielded
from the worst effects of his doctrine by worshipping apart from other
sinners in a glazed gallery. Herder is buried in the church, and when you
ask where, the sacristan lifts a wooden trap-door in the pavement, and
you think you are going down into the crypt, but you are only to see
Herder's monumental stone, which is kept covered so to save it from
passing feet. Here also is the greatest picture of that great soul Luke
Kranach, who had sincerity enough in his paining to atone for all the
swelling German sculptures in the world. It is a crucifixion, and the
cross is of a white birch log, such as might have been cut out of the
Weimar woods, shaved smooth on the sides, with the bark showing at the
edges. Kranach has put himself among the spectators, and a stream of
blood from the side of the Savior falls in baptism upon the painter's
head. He is in the company of John the Baptist and Martin Luther; Luther
stands with his Bible open, and his finger on the line, "The blood of
Jesus cleanseth us."
Partly because he felt guilty at doing all these things without his wife,
and partly because he was now very hungry, March turned from them and got
back to his hotel, where she was looking out for him from their open
window. She had the air of being long domesticated there, as she laughed
down at seeing him come; and the continued brilliancy of the weather
added to the illusion of home.
It was like a day of late spring in Italy or America; the sun in that
gardened hollow before the museum was already hot enough to make him glad
of the shelter of the hotel. The summer seemed to have come back to
oblige them, and when they learned that they were to see Weimar in a
festive mood because this was Sedan Day, their curiosity, if not their
sympathy, accepted the chance gratefully. But they were almost moved to
wish that the war had gone otherwise when they learned that all the
public carriages were engaged, and they must have one from a stable if
they wished to drive after breakfast. Still it was offered them for such
a modest number of marks, and their driver proved so friendly and
conversable, that they assented to the course of history, and were more
and more reconciled as they bowled along through the grand-ducal park
beside the waters of the classic Ilm.
The waters of the classic Ilm are sluggish and slimy in places, and in
places clear and brooklike, but always a dull dark green in color. They
flow in the shadow of pensive trees, and by the brinks of sunny meadows,
where the after-math wanders in heavy windrows, and the children sport
joyously over the smooth-mown surfaces in all the freedom that there is
in Germany. At last, after immemorial appropriation the owners of the
earth are everywhere expropriated, and the people come into the pleasure
if not the profit of it. At last, the prince, the knight, the noble
finds, as in his turn the plutocrat will find, that his property is not
for him, but for all; and that the nation is to enjoy what he takes from
it and vainly thinks to keep from it. Parks, pleasaunces, gardens, set
apart for kings, are the play-grounds of the landless poor in the Old
World, and perhaps yield the sweetest joy of privilege to some state-sick
ruler, some world-weary princess, some lonely child born to the solitude
of sovereignty, as they each look down from their palace windows upon the
leisure of overwork taking its little holiday amidst beauty vainly
created for the perpetual festival of their empty lives.
March smiled to think that in this very Weimar, where sovereignty had
graced and ennobled itself as nowhere else in the world by the
companionship of letters and the arts, they still were not hurrying first
to see the palace of a prince, but were involuntarily making it second to
the cottage of a poet. But in fact it is Goethe who is forever the prince
in Weimar. His greatness blots out its history, his name fills the city;
the thought of him is its chiefest imitation and largest hospitality. The
travellers remembered, above all other facts of the grand-ducal park,
that it was there he first met Christiane Vulpius, beautiful and young,
when he too was beautiful and young, and took her home to be his love, to
the just and lasting displeasure of Fran von Stein, who was even less
reconciled when, after eighteen years of due reflection, the love of
Goethe and Christiane became their marriage. They, wondered just where it
was he saw the young girl coming to meet him as the Grand-Duke's minister
with an office-seeking petition from her brother, Goethe's brother
author, long famed and long forgotten for his romantic tale of "Rinaldo
They had indeed no great mind, in their American respectability, for that
rather matter-of-fact and deliberate liaison, and little as their
sympathy was for the passionless intellectual intrigue with the Frau von
Stein, it cast no halo of sentiment about the Goethe cottage to suppose
that there his love-life with Christiane began. Mrs. March even resented
the fact, and when she learned later that it was not the fact at all, she
removed it from her associations with the pretty place almost
In spite of our facile and multiple divorces we Americans are worshipers
of marriage, and if a great poet, the minister of a prince, is going to
marry a poor girl, we think he had better not wait till their son is
almost of age. Mrs. March would not accept as extenuating circumstances
the Grand-Duke's godfatherhood, or Goethe's open constancy to Christiane,
or the tardy consecration of their union after the French sack of,
Weimar, when the girl's devotion had saved him from the rudeness of the
marauding soldiers. For her New England soul there were no degrees in
such guilt; and, perhaps there are really not so many as people have
tried to think, in their deference to Goethe's greatness. But certainly
the affair was not so simple for a grand-ducal minister of world-wide
renown, and he might well have felt its difficulties, for he could not
have been proof against the censorious public opinion of Weimar, or the
yet more censorious private opinion of Fran von Stein.
On that lovely Italo-American morning no ghost of these old dead
embarrassments lingered within or without the Goethe garden-house. The
trees which the poet himself planted flung a sun-shot shadow upon it, and
about its feet basked a garden of simple flowers, from which the sweet
lame girl who limped through the rooms and showed them, gathered a
parting nosegay for her visitors. The few small livingrooms were above
the ground-floor, with kitchen and offices below in the Italian fashion;
in one of the little chambers was the camp-bed which Goethe carried with
him on his journeys through Italy; and in the larger room at the front
stood the desk where he wrote, with the chair before it from which he
might just have risen.
All was much more livingly conscious of the great man gone than the proud
little palace in the town, which so abounds with relics and memorials of
him. His library, his study, his study table, with everything on it just
as he left it when
"Cadde la stanca mana"
are there, and there is the death-chair facing the window, from which he
gasped for "more light" at last. The handsome, well-arranged rooms are
full of souvenirs of his travel, and of that passion for Italy which he
did so much to impart to all German hearts, and whose modern waning
leaves its records here of an interest pathetically, almost amusingly,
faded. They intimate the classic temper to which his mind tended more and
more, and amidst the multitude of sculptures, pictures, prints, drawings,
gems, medals, autographs, there is the sense of the many-mindedness, the
universal taste, for which he found room in little Weimar, but not in his
contemporaneous Germany. But it is all less keenly personal, less
intimate than the simple garden-house, or else, with the great troop of
people going through it, and the custodians lecturing in various voices
and languages to the attendant groups, the Marches had it less to
themselves, and so imagined him less in it.
All palaces have a character of tiresome unlivableness which is common to
them everywhere, and very probably if one could meet their proprietors in
them one would as little remember them apart afterwards as the palaces
themselves. It will not do to lift either houses or men far out of the
average; they become spectacles, ceremonies; they cease to have charm, to
have character, which belong to the levels of life, where alone there are
ease and comfort, and human nature may be itself, with all the little
delightful differences repressed in those who represent and typify.
As they followed the custodian through the grand-ducal Residenz at
Weimar, March felt everywhere the strong wish of the prince who was
Goethe's friend to ally himself with literature, and to be human at least
in the humanities. He came honestly by his passion for poets; his mother
had known it in her time, and Weimar was the home of Wieland and of
Herder before the young Grand-Duke came back from his travels bringing
Goethe with him, and afterwards attracting Schiller. The story of that
great epoch is all there in the Residenz, told as articulately as a
There are certain Poets' Rooms, frescoed with illustrations of Goethe,
Schiller, and Wieland; there is the room where Goethe and the Grand-Duke
used to play chess together; there is the conservatory opening from it
where they liked to sit and chat; everywhere in the pictures and
sculptures, the engraving and intaglios, are the witnesses of the tastes
they shared, the love they both had for Italy, and for beautiful Italian
things. The prince was not so great a prince but that he could very
nearly be a man; the court was perhaps the most human court that ever
was; the Grand-Duke and the grand poet were first boon companions, and
then monarch and minister working together for the good of the country;
they were always friends, and yet, as the American saw in the light of
the New World, which he carried with him, how far from friends! At best
it was make-believe, the make-believe of superiority and inferiority, the
make-believe of master and man, which could only be the more painful and
ghastly for the endeavor of two generous spirits to reach and rescue each
other through the asphyxiating unreality; but they kept up the show of
equality faithfully to the end. Goethe was born citizen of a free
republic, and his youth was nurtured in the traditions of liberty; he was
one of the greatest souls of any time, and he must have known the
impossibility of the thing they pretended; but he died and made no sign,
and the poet's friendship with the prince has passed smoothly into
history as one of the things that might really be. They worked and played
together; they dined and danced, they picnicked and poetized, each on his
own side of the impassable gulf; with an air of its not being there which
probably did not deceive their contemporaries so much as posterity.
A part of the palace was of course undergoing repair; and in the gallery
beyond the conservatory a company of workmen were sitting at a table
where they had spread their luncheon. They were somewhat subdued by the
consciousness of their august environment; but the sight of them was
charming; they gave a kindly interest to the place which it had wanted
before; and which the Marches felt again in another palace where the
custodian showed them the little tin dishes and saucepans which the
German Empress Augusta and her sisters played with when they were
children. The sight of these was more affecting even than the withered
wreaths which they had left on the death-bed of their mother, and which
are still mouldering there.
This was in the Belvedere, the country house on the height overlooking
Weimar, where the grand-ducal family spend the month of May, and where
the stranger finds himself amid overwhelming associations of Goethe,
although the place is so full of relics and memorials of the owners. It
seemed in fact to be a storehouse for the wedding-presents of the whole
connection, which were on show in every room; Mrs. March hardly knew
whether they heightened the domestic effect or took from it; but they
enabled her to verify with the custodian's help certain royal
intermarriages which she had been in doubt about before.
Her zeal for these made such favor with him that he did not spare them a
portrait of all those which March hoped to escape; he passed them over,
scarcely able to stand, to the gardener, who was to show them the
open-air theatre where Goethe used to take part in the plays.
The Natur-Theater was of a classic ideal, realized in the trained vines
and clipped trees which formed the coulisses. There was a grassy space
for the chorus and the commoner audience, and then a few semicircular
gradines cut in the turf, one alcove another, where the more honored
spectators sat. Behind the seats were plinths bearing the busts of
Goethe, Schiller, Wieland, and Herder. It was all very pretty, and if
ever the weather in Weimar was dry enough to permit a performance, it
must have been charming to see a play in that open day to which the drama
is native, though in the late hours it now keeps in the thick air of
modern theatres it has long forgotten the fact. It would be difficult to
be Greek under a German sky, even when it was not actually raining, but
March held that with Goethe's help it might have been done at Weimar, and
his wife and he proved themselves such enthusiasts for the Natur-Theater
that the walnut-faced old gardener who showed it put together a sheaf of
the flowers that grew nearest it and gave them to Mrs. March for a
They went for a cup of tea to the cafe which looks, as from another
eyebrow of the hill, out over lovely little Weimar in the plain below. In
a moment of sunshine the prospect was very smiling; but their spirits
sank over their tea when it came; they were at least sorry they had not
asked for coffee. Most of the people about them were taking beer,
including the pretty girls of a young ladies' school, who were there with
their books and needle-work, in the care of one of the teachers,
apparently for the afternoon.
Mrs. March perceived that they were not so much engaged with their books
or their needle-work but they had eyes for other things, and she followed
the glances of the girls till they rested upon the people at a table
somewhat obliquely to the left. These were apparently a mother and
daughter, and they were listening to a young man who sat with his back to
Mrs. March, and leaned low over the table talking to them. They were both
smiling radiantly, and as the girl smiled she kept turning herself from
the waist up, and slanting her face from this side to that, as if to make
sure that every one saw her smiling.
Mrs. March felt her husband's gaze following her own, and she had just
time to press her finger firmly on his arm and reduce his cry of
astonishment to the hoarse whisper in which he gasped, "Good gracious!
It's the pivotal girl!"
At the same moment the girl rose with her mother, and with the young man,
who had risen too, came directly toward the Marches on their way out of
the place without noticing them, though Burnamy passed so near that Mrs.
March could almost have touched him.
She had just strength to say, "Well, my dear! That was the cut direct."
She said this in order to have her husband reassure her. "Nonsense! He
never saw us. Why didn't you speak to him?"
"Speak to him? I never shall speak to him again. No! This is the last of
Mr. Burnamy for me. I shouldn't have minded his not recognizing us, for,
as you say, I don't believe he saw us; but if he could go back to such a
girl as that, and flirt with her, after Miss Triscoe, that's all I wish
to know of him. Don't you try to look him up, Basil! I'm glad-yes, I'm
glad he doesn't know how Stoller has come to feel about him; he deserves
to suffer, and I hope he'll keep on suffering: You were quite right, my
dear—and it shows how true your instinct is in such things (I don't call
it more than instinct)—not to tell him what Stoller said, and I don't
want you ever should."
She had risen in her excitement, and was making off in such haste that
she would hardly give him time to pay for their tea, as she pulled him
impatiently to their carriage.
At last he got a chance to say, "I don't think I can quite promise that;
my mind's been veering round in the other direction. I think I shall tell
"What! After you've seen him flirting with that girl? Very well, then,
you won't, my dear; that's all! He's behaving very basely to Agatha."
"What's his flirtation with all the girls in the universe to do with my
duty to him? He has a right to know what Stoller thinks. And as to his
behaving badly toward Miss Triscoe, how has he done it? So far as you
know, there is nothing whatever between them. She either refused him
outright, that last night in Carlsbad, or else she made impossible
conditions with him. Burnamy is simply consoling himself, and I don't
"Consoling himself with a pivotal girl!" cried Mrs. March.
"Yes, with a pivotal girl. Her pivotality may be a nervous idiosyncrasy,
or it may be the effect of tight lacing; perhaps she has to keep turning
and twisting that way to get breath. But attribute the worst motive: say
it is to make people look at her! Well, Burnamy has a right to look with
the rest; and I am not going to renounce him because he takes refuge with
one pretty girl from another. It's what men have been doing from the
beginning of time."
"Oh, I dare say!"
"Men," he went on, "are very delicately constituted; very peculiarly.
They have been known to seek the society of girls in general, of any
girl, because some girl has made them happy; and when some girl has made
them unhappy, they are still more susceptible. Burnamy may be merely
amusing himself, or he may be consoling himself; but in either case I
think the pivotal girl has as much right to him as Miss Triscoe. She had
him first; and I'm all for her."
Burnamy came away from seeing the pivotal girl and her mother off on the
train which they were taking that evening for Frankfort and Hombourg, and
strolled back through the Weimar streets little at ease with himself.
While he was with the girl and near her he had felt the attraction by
which youth impersonally draws youth, the charm which mere maid has for
mere man; but once beyond the range of this he felt sick at heart and
ashamed. He was aware of having used her folly as an anodyne for the pain
which was always gnawing at him, and he had managed to forget it in her
folly, but now it came back, and the sense that he had been reckless of
her rights came with it. He had done his best to make her think him in
love with her, by everything but words; he wondered how he could be such
an ass, such a wicked ass, as to try making her promise to write to him
from Frankfort; he wished never to see her again, and he wished still
less to hear from her. It was some comfort to reflect that she had not
promised, but it was not comfort enough to restore him to such
fragmentary self-respect as he had been enjoying since he parted with
Agatha Triscoe in Carlsbad; he could not even get back to the resentment
with which he had been staying himself somewhat before the pivotal girl
unexpectedly appeared with her mother in Weimar.
It was Sedan Day, but there was apparently no official observance of the
holiday, perhaps because the Grand-Duke was away at the manoeuvres, with
all the other German princes. Burnamy had hoped for some voluntary
excitement among the people, at least enough to warrant him in making a
paper about Sedan Day in Weimar, which he could sell somewhere; but the
night was falling, and there was still no sign of popular rejoicing over
the French humiliation twenty-eight years before, except in the multitude
of Japanese lanterns which the children were everywhere carrying at the
ends of sticks. Babies had them in their carriages, and the effect of the
floating lights in the winding, up-and-down-hill streets was charming
even to Burnamy's lack-lustre eyes. He went by his hotel and on to a cafe
with a garden, where there was a patriotic, concert promised; he supped
there, and then sat dreamily behind his beer, while the music banged and
brayed round him unheeded.
Presently he heard a voice of friendly banter saying in English, "May I
sit at your table?" and he saw an ironical face looking down on him.
"There doesn't seem any other place."
"Why, Mr. March!" Burnamy sprang up and wrung the hand held out to him,
but he choked with his words of recognition; it was so good to see this
faithful friend again, though he saw him now as he had seen him last,
just when he had so little reason to be proud of himself.
March settled his person in the chair facing Burnamy, and then glanced
round at the joyful jam of people eating and drinking, under a firmament
of lanterns. "This is pretty," he said, "mighty pretty. I shall make Mrs.
March sorry for not coming, when I go back."
"Is Mrs. March—she is—with you—in Weimar?" Burnamy asked stupidly.
March forbore to take advantage of him. "Oh, yes. We saw you out at
Belvedere this afternoon. Mrs. March thought for a moment that you meant
not to see us. A woman likes to exercise her imagination in those little
"I never dreamed of your being there—I never saw—" Burnamy began.
"Of course not. Neither did Mrs. Etkins, nor Miss Etkins; she was looking
very pretty. Have you been here some time?"
"Not long. A week or so. I've been at the parade at Wurzburg."
"At Wurzburg! Ah, how little the world is, or how large Wurzburg is! We
were there nearly a week, and we pervaded the place. But there was a
great crowd for you to hide in from us. What had I better take?" A waiter
had come up, and was standing at March's elbow. "I suppose I mustn't sit
here without ordering something?"
"White wine and selters," said Burnamy vaguely.
"The very thing! Why didn't I think of it? It's a divine drink: it
satisfies without filling. I had it a night or two before we left home,
in the Madison Square Roof Garden. Have you seen 'Every Other Week'
"No," said Burnamy, with more spirit than he had yet shown.
"We've just got our mail from Nuremberg. The last number has a poem in it
that I rather like." March laughed to see the young fellow's face light
up with joyful consciousness. "Come round to my hotel, after you're tired
here, and I'll let you see it. There's no hurry. Did you notice the
little children with their lanterns, as you came along? It's the gentlest
effect that a warlike memory ever came to. The French themselves couldn't
have minded those innocents carrying those soft lights on the day of
their disaster. You ought to get something out of that, and I've got a
subject in trust for you from Rose Adding. He and his mother were at
Wurzburg; I'm sorry to say the poor little chap didn't seem very well.
They've gone to Holland for the sea air." March had been talking for
quantity in compassion of the embarrassment in which Burnamy seemed
bound; but he questioned how far he ought to bring comfort to the young
fellow merely because he liked him. So far as he could make out, Burnamy
had been doing rather less than nothing to retrieve himself since they
had met; and it was by an impulse that he could not have logically
defended to Mrs. March that he resumed. "We found another friend of yours
in Wurzburg: Mr. Stoller."
"Mr. Stoller?" Burnamy faintly echoed.
"Yes; he was there to give his daughters a holiday during the manoeuvres;
and they made the most of it. He wanted us to go to the parade with his
family but we declined. The twins were pretty nearly the death of General
Again Burnamy echoed him. "General Triscoe?"
"Ah, yes: I didn't tell you. General Triscoe and his daughter had come on
with Mrs. Adding and Rose. Kenby—you remember Kenby, On the
Norumbia?—Kenby happened to be there, too; we were quite a family party;
and Stoller got the general to drive out to the manoeuvres with him and
Now that he was launched, March rather enjoyed letting himself go. He did
not know what he should say to Mrs. March when he came to confess having
told Burnamy everything before she got a chance at him; he pushed on
recklessly, upon the principle, which probably will not hold in morals,
that one may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. "I have a message for
you from Mr. Stoller."
"For me?" Burnamy gasped.
"I've been wondering how I should put it, for I hadn't expected to see
you. But it's simply this: he wants you to know—and he seemed to want me
to know—that he doesn't hold you accountable in the way he did. He's
thought it all over, and he's decided that he had no right to expect you
to save him from his own ignorance where he was making a show of
knowledge. As he said, he doesn't choose to plead the baby act. He says
that you're all right, and your place on the paper is open to you."
Burnamy had not been very prompt before, but now he seemed braced for
instant response. "I think he's wrong," he said, so harshly that the
people at the next table looked round. "His feeling as he does has
nothing to do with the fact, and it doesn't let me out."
March would have liked to take him in his arms; he merely said, "I think
you're quite right, as to that. But there's such a thing as forgiveness,
you know. It doesn't change the nature of what you've done; but as far as
the sufferer from it is concerned, it annuls it."
"Yes, I understand that. But I can't accept his forgiveness if I hate
"But perhaps you won't always hate him. Some day you may have a chance to
do him a good turn. It's rather banale; but there doesn't seem any other
way. Well, I have given you his message. Are you going with me to get
When March had given Burnamy the paper at his hotel, and Burnamy had put
it in his pocket, the young man said he thought he would take some
coffee, and he asked March to join him in the dining-room where they had
"No, thank you," said the elder, "I don't propose sitting up all night,
and you'll excuse me if I go to bed now. It's a little informal to leave
"You're not leaving a guest! I'm at home here. I'm staying in this hotel
March said, "Oh!" and then he added abruptly, "Good-night," and went up
stairs under the fresco of the five poets.
"Whom were you talking with below?" asked Mrs. March through the door
opening into his room from hers.
"Burnamy," he answered from within. "He's staying in this house. He let
me know just as I was going to turn him out for the night. It's one of
those little uncandors of his that throw suspicion on his honesty in
"Oh! Then you've been telling him," she said, with a mental bound high
above and far beyond the point.
"About Stoller, too?"
"About Stoller and his daughters, and Mrs. Adding and Rose and Kenby and
General Triscoe—and Agatha."
"Very well. That's what I call shabby. Don't ever talk to me again about
the inconsistencies of women. But now there's something perfectly
"What is it?"
"A letter from Miss Triscoe came after you were gone, asking us to find
rooms in some hotel for her and her father to-morrow. He isn't well, and
they're coming. And I've telegraphed them to come here. Now what do you
They could see no way out of the trouble, and Mrs. March could not resign
herself to it till her husband suggested that she should consider it
providential. This touched the lingering superstition in which she had
been ancestrally taught to regard herself as a means, when in a very
tight place, and to leave the responsibility with the moral government of
the universe. As she now perceived, it had been the same as ordered that
they should see Burnamy under such conditions in the afternoon that they
could not speak to him, and hear where he was staying; and in an inferior
degree it had been the same as ordered that March should see him in the
evening and tell him everything, so that she should know just how to act
when she saw him in the morning. If he could plausibly account for the
renewal of his flirtation with Miss Elkins, or if he seemed generally
worthy apart from that, she could forgive him.
It was so pleasant when he came in at breakfast with his well-remembered
smile, that she did not require from him any explicit defence. While they
talked she was righting herself in an undercurrent of drama with Miss
Triscoe, and explaining to her that they could not possibly wait over for
her and her father in Weimar, but must be off that day for Berlin, as
they had made all their plans. It was not easy, even in drama where one
has everything one's own way, to prove that she could not without impiety
so far interfere with the course of Providence as to prevent Miss
Triscoe's coming with her father to the same hotel where Burnamy was
staying. She contrived, indeed, to persuade her that she had not known he
was staying there when she telegraphed them where to come, and that in
the absence of any open confidence from Miss Triscoe she was not obliged
to suppose that his presence would be embarrassing.
March proposed leaving her with Burnamy while he went up into the town
and interviewed the house of Schiller, which he had not done yet; and as
soon as he got himself away she came to business, breaking altogether
from the inner drama with Miss Triscoe and devoting herself to Burnamy.
They had already got so far as to have mentioned the meeting with the
Triscoes in Wurzburg, and she said: "Did Mr. March tell you they were
coming here? Or, no! We hadn't heard then. Yes, they are coming
to-morrow. They may be going to stay some time. She talked of Weimar when
we first spoke of Germany on the ship." Burnamy said nothing, and she
suddenly added, with a sharp glance, "They wanted us to get them rooms,
and we advised their coming to this house." He started very
satisfactorily, and "Do you think they would be comfortable, here?" she
"Oh, yes, very. They can have my room; it's southeast; I shall be going
into other quarters." She did not say anything; and "Mrs. March," he
began again, "what is the use of my beating about the bush? You must know
what I went back to Carlsbad for, that night—"
"No one ever told—"
"Well, you must have made a pretty good guess. But it was a failure. I
ought to have failed, and I did. She said that unless her father liked
it—And apparently he hasn't liked it." Burnamy smiled ruefully.
"How do you know? She didn't know where you were!"
"She could have got word to me if she had had good news for me. They've
forwarded other letters from Pupp's. But it's all right; I had no
business to go back to Carlsbad. Of course you didn't know I was in this
house when you told them to come; and I must clear out. I had better
clear out of Weimar, too."
"No, I don't think so; I have no right to pry into your affairs, but—"
"Oh, they're wide enough open!"
"And you may have changed your mind. I thought you might, when I saw you
yesterday at Belvedere—"
"I was only trying to make bad worse."
"Then I think the situation has changed entirely through what Mr. Stoller
said to Mr. March."
"I can't see how it has. I committed an act of shabby treachery, and I'm
as much to blame as if he still wanted to punish me for it."
"Did Mr. March say that to you?"
"No; I said that to Mr. March; and he couldn't answer it, and you can't.
You're very good, and very kind, but you can't answer it."
"I can answer it very well," she boasted, but she could find nothing
better to say than, "It's your duty to her to see her and let her know."
"Doesn't she know already?"
"She has a right to know it from you. I think you are morbid, Mr.
Burnamy. You know very well I didn't like your doing that to Mr. Stoller.
I didn't say so at the time, because you seemed to feel it enough
yourself. But I did like your owning up to it," and here Mrs. March
thought it time to trot out her borrowed battle-horse again. "My husband
always says that if a person owns up to an error, fully and faithfully,
as you've always done, they make it the same in its consequences to them
as if it had never been done."
"Does Mr. March say that?" asked Burnamy with a relenting smile.
"Indeed he does!"
Burnamy hesitated; then he asked, gloomily again:
"And what about the consequences to the, other fellow?"
"A woman," said Mrs. March, "has no concern with them. And besides, I
think you've done all you could to save Mr. Stoller from the
"I haven't done anything."
"No matter. You would if you could. I wonder," she broke off, to prevent
his persistence at a point where her nerves were beginning to give way,
"what can be keeping Mr. March?"
Nothing much more important, it appeared later, than the pleasure of
sauntering through the streets on the way to the house of Schiller, and
looking at the pretty children going to school, with books under their
arms. It was the day for the schools to open after the long summer
vacation, and there was a freshness of expectation in the shining faces
which, if it could not light up his own graybeard visage, could at least
touch his heart:
When he reached the Schiller house he found that it was really not the
Schiller house, but the Schiller flat, of three or four rooms, one flight
up, whose windows look out upon the street named after the poet. The
whole place is bare and clean; in one corner of the large room fronting
the street stands Schiller's writing-table, with his chair before it;
with the foot extending toward this there stands, in another corner, the
narrow bed on which he died; some withered wreaths on the pillow frame a
picture of his deathmask, which at first glance is like his dead face
lying there. It is all rather tasteless, and all rather touching, and the
place with its meagre appointments, as compared with the rich Goethe
house, suggests that personal competition with Goethe in which Schiller
is always falling into the second place. Whether it will be finally so
with him in literature it is too early to ask of time, and upon other
points eternity will not be interrogated. "The great, Goethe and the good
Schiller," they remain; and yet, March reasoned, there was something good
in Goethe and something great, in Schiller.
He was so full of the pathos of their inequality before the world that he
did not heed the warning on the door of the pastry-shop near the Schiller
house, and on opening it he bedaubed his hand with the fresh paint on it.
He was then in such a state, that he could not bring his mind to bear
upon the question of which cakes his wife would probably prefer, and he
stood helplessly holding up his hand till the good woman behind the
counter discovered his plight, and uttered a loud cry of compassion. She
ran and got a wet napkin, which she rubbed with soap, and then she
instructed him by word and gesture to rub his hand upon it, and she did
not leave him till his rescue was complete. He let her choose a variety
of the cakes for him, and came away with a gay paper bag full of them,
and with the feeling that he had been in more intimate relations with the
life of Weimar than travellers are often privileged to be. He argued from
the instant and intelligent sympathy of the pastry woman a high grade of
culture in all classes; and he conceived the notion of pretending to Mrs.
March that he had got these cakes from, a descendant of Schiller.
His deceit availed with her for the brief moment in which she always,
after so many years' experience of his duplicity, believed anything he
told her. They dined merrily together at their hotel, and then Burnamy
came down to the station with them and was very comfortable to March in
helping him to get their tickets and their baggage registered. The train
which was to take them to Halle, where they were to change for Berlin,
was rather late, and they had but ten minutes after it came in before it
would start again. Mrs. March was watching impatiently at the window of
the waiting-room for the dismounting passengers to clear the platform and
allow the doors to be opened; suddenly she gave a cry, and turned and ran
into the passage by which the new arrivals were pouring out toward the
superabundant omnibuses. March and Burnamy, who had been talking apart,
mechanically rushed after her and found her kissing Miss Triscoe and
shaking hands with the general amidst a tempest of questions and answers,
from which it appeared that the Triscoes had got tired of staying in
Wurzburg, and had simply come on to Weimar a day sooner than they had
The, general was rather much bundled up for a day which was mild for a
German summer day, and he coughed out an explanation that he had taken an
abominable cold at that ridiculous parade, and had not shaken it off yet.
He had a notion that change of air would be better for him; it could not
He seemed a little vague as to Burnamy, rather than inimical. While the
ladies were still talking eagerly together in proffer and acceptance of
Mrs. March's lamentations that she should be going away just as Miss
Triscoe was coming, he asked if the omnibus for their hotel was there. He
by no means resented Burnamy's assurance that it was, and he did not
refuse to let him order their baggage, little and large, loaded upon it.
By the time this was done, Mrs. March and Miss Triscoe had so far
detached themselves from each other that they could separate after one
more formal expression of regret and forgiveness. With a lament into
which she poured a world of inarticulate emotions, Mrs. March wrenched
herself from the place, and suffered herself, to be pushed toward her
train. But with the last long look which she cast over her shoulder,
before she vanished into the waiting-room, she saw Miss Triscoe and
Burnamy transacting the elaborate politenesses of amiable strangers with
regard to the very small bag which the girl had in her hand. He succeeded
in relieving her of it; and then he led the way out of the station on the
left of the general, while Miss Triscoe brought up the rear.
From the window of the train as it drew out Mrs. March tried for a
glimpse of the omnibus in which her proteges were now rolling away
together. As they were quite out of sight in the omnibus, which was
itself out of sight, she failed, but as she fell back against her seat
she treated the recent incident with a complexity and simultaneity of
which no report can give an idea. At the end one fatal conviction
remained: that in everything she had said she had failed to explain to
Miss Triscoe how Burnamy happened to be in Weimar and how he happened to
be there with them in the station. She required March to say how she had
overlooked the very things which she ought to have mentioned first, and
which she had on the point of her tongue the whole time. She went over
the entire ground again to see if she could discover the reason why she
had made such an unaccountable break, and it appeared that she was led to
it by his rushing after her with Burnamy before she had had a chance to
say a word about him; of course she could not say anything in his
presence. This gave her some comfort, and there was consolation in the
fact that she had left them together without the least intention or
connivance, and now, no matter what happened, she could not accuse
herself, and he could not accuse her of match-making.
He said that his own sense of guilt was so great that he should not dream
of accusing her of anything except of regret that now she could never
claim the credit of bringing the lovers together under circumstances so
favorable. As soon as they were engaged they could join in renouncing her
with a good conscience, and they would probably make this the basis of
their efforts to propitiate the general.
She said she did not care, and with the mere removal of the lovers in
space, her interest in them began to abate. They began to be of a minor
importance in the anxieties of the change of trains at Halle, and in the
excitement of settling into the express from Frankfort there were moments
when they were altogether forgotten. The car was of almost American
length, and it ran with almost American smoothness; when the conductor
came and collected an extra fare for their seats, the Marches felt that
if the charge had been two dollars instead of two marks they would have
had every advantage of American travel.
On the way to Berlin the country was now fertile and flat, and now
sterile and flat; near the capital the level sandy waste spread almost to
its gates. The train ran quickly through the narrow fringe of suburbs,
and then they were in one of those vast Continental stations which put
our outdated depots to shame. The good 'traeger' who took possession of
them and their hand-bags, put their boxes on a baggage-bearing drosky,
and then got them another drosky for their personal transportation. This
was a drosky of the first-class, but they would not have thought it so,
either from the vehicle itself, or from the appearance of the driver and
his horses. The public carriages of Germany are the shabbiest in the
world; at Berlin the horses look like old hair trunks and the drivers
like their moth-eaten contents.
The Marches got no splendor for the two prices they paid, and their
approach to their hotel on Unter den Linden was as unimpressive as the
ignoble avenue itself. It was a moist, cold evening, and the mean,
tiresome street, slopped and splashed under its two rows of small trees,
to which the thinning leaves clung like wet rags, between long lines of
shops and hotels which had neither the grace of Paris nor the grandiosity
of New York. March quoted in bitter derision:
"Bees, bees, was it your hydromel,
Under the Lindens?"
and his wife said that if Commonwealth Avenue in Boston could be imagined
with its trees and without their beauty, flanked by the architecture of
Sixth Avenue, with dashes of the west side of Union Square, that would be
the famous Unter den Linden, where she had so resolutely decided that
they would stay while in Berlin.
They had agreed upon the hotel, and neither could blame the other because
it proved second-rate in everything but its charges. They ate a poorish
table d'hote dinner in such low spirits that March had no heart to get a
rise from his wife by calling her notice to the mouse which fed upon the
crumbs about their feet while they dined. Their English-speaking waiter
said that it was a very warm evening, and they never knew whether this
was because he was a humorist, or because he was lonely and wished to
talk, or because it really was a warm evening, for Berlin. When they had
finished, they went out and drove about the greater part of the evening
looking for another hotel, whose first requisite should be that it was
not on Unter den Linden. What mainly determined Mrs. March in favor of
the large, handsome, impersonal place they fixed upon was the fact that
it was equipped for steam-heating; what determined March was the fact
that it had a passenger-office where when he wished to leave, he could
buy his railroad tickets and have his baggage checked without the
maddening anxiety, of doing it at the station. But it was precisely in
these points that the hotel which admirably fulfilled its other functions
fell short. The weather made a succession of efforts throughout their
stay to clear up cold; it merely grew colder without clearing up, but
this seemed to offer no suggestion of steam for heating their bleak
apartment and the chilly corridors to the management. With the help of a
large lamp which they kept burning night and day they got the temperature
of their rooms up to sixty; there was neither stove nor fireplace, the
cold electric bulbs diffused a frosty glare; and in the vast, stately
dining-room with its vaulted roof, there was nothing to warm them but
their plates, and the handles of their knives and forks, which, by a
mysterious inspiration, were always hot. When they were ready to go,
March experienced from the apathy of the baggage clerk and the reluctance
of the porters a more piercing distress than any he had known at the
railroad stations; and one luckless valise which he ordered sent after
him by express reached his bankers in Paris a fortnight overdue, with an
accumulation of charges upon it outvaluing the books which it contained.
But these were minor defects in an establishment which had many merits,
and was mainly of the temperament and intention of the large English
railroad hotels. They looked from their windows down into a gardened
square, peopled with a full share of the superabounding statues of Berlin
and frequented by babies and nurse maids who seemed not to mind the cold
any more than the stone kings and generals. The aspect of this square,
like the excellent cooking of the hotel and the architecture of the
imperial capital, suggested the superior civilization of Paris. Even the
rows of gray houses and private palaces of Berlin are in the French
taste, which is the only taste there is in Berlin. The suggestion of
Paris is constant, but it is of Paris in exile, and without the chic
which the city wears in its native air. The crowd lacks this as much as
the architecture and the sculpture; there is no distinction among the men
except for now and then a military figure, and among the women no style
such as relieves the commonplace rash of the New York streets. The
Berliners are plain and ill dressed, both men and women, and even the
little children are plain. Every one is ill dressed, but no one is
ragged, and among the undersized homely folk of the lower classes there
is no such poverty-stricken shabbiness as shocks and insults the sight in
New York. That which distinctly recalls our metropolis is the lofty
passage of the elevated trains intersecting the prospectives of many
streets; but in Berlin the elevated road is carried on massive brick
archways and not lifted upon gay, crazy iron ladders like ours.
When you look away from this, and regard Berlin on its aesthetic, side
you are again in that banished Paris, whose captive art-soul is made to
serve, so far as it may be enslaved to such an effect, in the celebration
of the German triumph over France. Berlin has never the presence of a
great capital, however, in spite of its perpetual monumental insistence.
There is no streaming movement in broad vistas; the dull looking
population moves sluggishly; there is no show of fine equipages. The
prevailing tone of the city and the sky is gray; but under the cloudy
heaven there is no responsive Gothic solemnity in the architecture. There
are hints of the older German cities in some of the remote and observe
streets, but otherwise all is as new as Boston, which in fact the actual
Berlin hardly antedates.
There are easily more statues in Berlin than in any other city in the
world, but they only unite in failing to give Berlin an artistic air.
They stand in long rows on the cornices; they crowd the pediments; they
poise on one leg above domes and arches; they shelter themselves in
niches; they ride about on horseback; they sit or lounge on street
corners or in garden walks; all with a mediocrity in the older sort which
fails of any impression. If they were only furiously baroque they would
be something, and it may be from a sense of this that there is a
self-assertion in the recent sculptures, which are always patriotic, more
noisy and bragging than anything else in perennial brass. This offensive
art is the modern Prussian avatar of the old German romantic spirit, and
bears the same relation to it that modern romanticism in literature bears
to romance. It finds its apotheosis in the monument to Kaiser Wilhelm I.,
a vast incoherent group of swelling and swaggering bronze, commemorating
the victory of the first Prussian Emperor in the war with the last French
Emperor, and avenging the vanquished upon the victors by its ugliness.
The ungainly and irrelevant assemblage of men and animals backs away from
the imperial palace, and saves itself too soon from plunging over the
border of a canal behind it, not far from Rauch's great statue of the
great Frederic. To come to it from the simplicity and quiet of that noble
work is like passing from some exquisite masterpiece of naturalistic
acting to the rant and uproar of melodrama; and the Marches stood stunned
and bewildered by its wild explosions.
When they could escape they found themselves so convenient to the
imperial palace that they judged best to discharge at once the obligation
to visit it which must otherwise weigh upon them. They entered the court
without opposition from the sentinel, and joined other strangers
straggling instinctively toward a waiting-room in one corner of the
building, where after they had increased to some thirty, a custodian took
charge of them, and led them up a series of inclined plains of brick to
the state apartments. In the antechamber they found a provision of
immense felt over-shoes which they were expected to put on for their
passage over the waxed marquetry of the halls. These roomy slippers were
designed for the accommodation of the native boots; and upon the mixed
company of foreigners the effect was in the last degree humiliating. The
women's skirts some what hid their disgrace, but the men were openly put
to shame, and they shuffled forward with their bodies at a convenient
incline like a company of snow-shoers. In the depths of his own abasement
March heard a female voice behind him sighing in American accents, "To
think I should be polishing up these imperial floors with my republican
The protest expressed the rebellion which he felt mounting in his own
heart as they advanced through the heavily splendid rooms, in the
historical order of the family portraits recording the rise of the
Prussian sovereigns from Margraves to Emperors. He began to realize here
the fact which grew open him more and more that imperial Germany is not
the effect of a popular impulse but of a dynastic propensity. There is
nothing original in the imperial palace, nothing national; it embodies
and proclaims a powerful personal will, and in its adaptations of French
art it appeals to no emotion in the German witness nobler than his pride
in the German triumph over the French in war. March found it tiresome
beyond the tiresome wont of palaces, and he gladly shook off the sense of
it with his felt shoes. "Well," he confided to his wife when they were
fairly out-of-doors, "if Prussia rose in the strength of silence, as
Carlyle wants us to believe, she is taking it out in talk now, and tall
"Yes, isn't she!" Mrs. March assented, and with a passionate desire for
excess in a bad thing, which we all know at times, she looked eagerly
about her for proofs of that odious militarism of the empire, which ought
to have been conspicuous in the imperial capital; but possibly because
the troops were nearly all away at the manoeuvres, there were hardly more
in the streets than she had sometimes seen in Washington. Again the
German officers signally failed to offer her any rudeness when she met
them on the side-walks. There were scarcely any of them, and perhaps that
might have been the reason why they were not more aggressive; but a whole
company of soldiers marching carelessly up to the palace from the
Brandenburg gate, without music, or so much style as our own militia
often puts on, regarded her with inoffensive eyes so far as they looked
at her. She declared that personally there was nothing against the
Prussians; even when in uniform they were kindly and modest-looking men;
it was when they got up on pedestals, in bronze or marble, that they,
began to bully and to brag.
The dinner which the Marches got at a restaurant on Unter den Linden
almost redeemed the avenue from the disgrace it had fallen into with
them. It was, the best meal they had yet eaten in Europe, and as to fact
and form was a sort of compromise between a French dinner and an English
dinner which they did not hesitate to pronounce Prussian. The waiter who
served it was a friendly spirit, very sensible of their intelligent
appreciation of the dinner; and from him they formed a more respectful
opinion of Berlin civilization than they had yet held. After the manner
of strangers everywhere they judged the country they were visiting from
such of its inhabitants as chance brought them in contact with; and it
would really be a good thing for nations that wish to stand well with the
world at large to look carefully to the behavior of its cabmen and car
conductors, its hotel clerks and waiters, its theatre-ticket sellers and
ushers, its policemen and sacristans, its landlords and salesmen; for by
these rather than by its society women and its statesmen and divines, is
it really judged in the books of travellers; some attention also should
be paid to the weather, if the climate is to be praised. In the railroad
cafe at Potsdam there was a waiter so rude to the Marches that if they
had not been people of great strength of character he would have undone
the favorable impression the soldiers and civilians of Berlin generally
had been at such pains to produce in them; and throughout the week of
early September which they passed there, it rained so much and so
bitterly, it was so wet and so cold, that they might have come away
thinking it's the worst climate in the world, if it had not been for a
man whom they saw in one of the public gardens pouring a heavy stream
from his garden hose upon the shrubbery already soaked and shuddering in
the cold. But this convinced them that they were suffering from weather
and not from the climate, which must really be hot and dry; and they went
home to their hotel and sat contentedly down in a temperature of sixty
degrees. The weather, was not always so bad; one day it was dry cold
instead of wet cold, with rough, rusty clouds breaking a blue sky;
another day, up to eleven in the forenoon, it was like Indian summer;
then it changed to a harsh November air; and then it relented and ended
so mildly, that they hired chairs in the place before the imperial palace
for five pfennigs each, and sat watching the life before them. Motherly
women-folk were there knitting; two American girls in chairs near them
chatted together; some fine equipages, the only ones they saw in Berlin,
went by; a dog and a man (the wife who ought to have been in harness was
probably sick, and the poor fellow was forced to take her place) passed
dragging a cart; some schoolboys who had hung their satchels upon the low
railing were playing about the base of the statue of King William III. in
the joyous freedom of German childhood.
They seemed the gayer for the brief moments of sunshine, but to the
Americans, who were Southern by virtue of their sky, the brightness had a
sense of lurking winter in it, such as they remembered feeling on a sunny
day in Quebec. The blue heaven looked sad; but they agreed that it fitly
roofed the bit of old feudal Berlin which forms the most ancient wing of
the Schloss. This was time-blackened and rude, but at least it did not
try to be French, and it overhung the Spree which winds through the city
and gives it the greatest charm it has. In fact Berlin, which is
otherwise so grandiose without grandeur and so severe without
impressiveness, is sympathetic wherever the Spree opens it to the sky.
The stream is spanned by many bridges, and bridges cannot well be
unpicturesque, especially if they have statues to help them out. The
Spree abounds in bridges, and it has a charming habit of slow hay-laden
barges; at the landings of the little passenger-steamers which ply upon
it there are cafes and summer-gardens, and these even in the inclement
air of September suggested a friendly gayety.
The Marches saw it best in the tour of the elevated road in Berlin which
they made in an impassioned memory of the elevated road in New York. The
brick viaducts which carry this arch the Spree again and again in their
course through and around the city, but with never quite such spectacular
effects as our spidery tressels, achieve. The stations are pleasant,
sometimes with lunch-counters and news-stands, but have not the
comic-opera-chalet prettiness of ours, and are not so frequent. The road
is not so smooth, the cars not so smooth-running or so swift. On the
other hand they are comfortably cushioned, and they are never
overcrowded. The line is at times above, at times below the houses, and
at times on a level with them, alike in city and in suburbs. The train
whirled out of thickly built districts, past the backs of the old houses,
into outskirts thinly populated, with new houses springing up without
order or continuity among the meadows and vegetable-gardens, and along
the ready-made, elm-planted avenues, where wooden fences divided the
vacant lots. Everywhere the city was growing out over the country, in
blocks and detached edifices of limestone, sandstone, red and yellow
brick, larger or smaller, of no more uniformity than our suburban
dwellings, but never of their ugliness or lawless offensiveness.
In an effort for the intimate life of the country March went two
successive mornings for his breakfast to the Cafe Bauer, which has some
admirable wall-printings, and is the chief cafe on Unter den Linden; but
on both days there were more people in the paintings than out of them.
The second morning the waiter who took his order recognized him and
asked, "Wie gestern?" and from this he argued an affectionate constancy
in the Berliners, and a hospitable observance of the tastes of strangers.
At his bankers, on the other hand, the cashier scrutinized his signature
and remarked that it did not look like the signature in his letter of
credit, and then he inferred a suspicious mind in the moneyed classes of
Prussia; as he had not been treated with such unkind doubt by Hebrew
bankers anywhere, he made a mental note that the Jews were politer than
the Christians in Germany. In starting for Potsdam he asked a traeger
where the Potsdam train was and the man said, "Dat train dare," and in
coming back he helped a fat old lady out of the car, and she thanked him
in English. From these incidents, both occurring the same day in the same
place, the inference of a widespread knowledge of our language in all
classes of the population was inevitable.
In this obvious and easy manner he studied contemporary civilization in
the capital. He even carried his researches farther, and went one rainy
afternoon to an exhibition of modern pictures in a pavilion of the
Thiergarten, where from the small attendance he inferred an indifference
to the arts which he would not ascribe to the weather. One evening at a
summer theatre where they gave the pantomime of the 'Puppenfee' and the
operetta of 'Hansel and Gretel', he observed that the greater part of the
audience was composed of nice plain young girls and children, and he
noted that there was no sort of evening dress; from the large number of
Americans present he imagined a numerous colony in Berlin, where they
mast have an instinctive sense of their co-nationality, since one of them
in the stress of getting his hat and overcoat when they all came out,
confidently addressed him in English. But he took stock of his
impressions with his wife, and they seemed to him so few, after all, that
he could not resist a painful sense of isolation in the midst of the
They made a Sunday excursion to the Zoological Gardens in the
Thiergarten, with a large crowd of the lower classes, but though they had
a great deal of trouble in getting there by the various kinds of
horsecars and electric cars, they did not feel that they had got near to
the popular life. They endeavored for some sense of Berlin society by
driving home in a drosky, and on the way they passed rows of beautiful
houses, in French and Italian taste, fronting the deep, damp green park
from the Thiergartenstrasse, in which they were confident cultivated and
delightful people lived; but they remained to the last with nothing but
their unsupported conjecture.
Their excursion to Potsdam was the cream of their sojourn in Berlin. They
chose for it the first fair morning, and they ran out over the flat sandy
plains surrounding the capital, and among the low hills surrounding
Potsdam before it actually began to rain.
They wished immediately to see Sans Souci for the great Frederick's sake,
and they drove through a lively shower to the palace, where they waited
with a horde of twenty-five other tourists in a gusty colonnade before
they were led through Voltaire's room and Frederick's death chamber.
The French philosopher comes before the Prussian prince at Sans Souci
even in the palatial villa which expresses the wilful caprice of the
great Frederick as few edifices have embodied the whims or tastes of
their owners. The whole affair is eighteenth-century French, as the
Germans conceived it. The gardened terrace from which the low, one-story
building, thickly crusted with baroque sculptures, looks down into a
many-colored parterre, was luxuriantly French, and sentimentally French
the colonnaded front opening to a perspective of artificial ruins, with
broken pillars lifting a conscious fragment of architrave against the
sky. Within, all again was French in the design, the decoration and the
furnishing. At that time there, was in fact no other taste, and
Frederick, who despised and disused his native tongue, was resolved upon
French taste even in his intimate companionship. The droll story of his
coquetry with the terrible free spirit which he got from France to be his
guest is vividly reanimated at Sans Souci, where one breathes the very
air in which the strangely assorted companions lived, and in which they
parted so soon to pursue each other with brutal annoyance on one side,
and with merciless mockery on the other. Voltaire was long ago revenged
upon his host for all the indignities he suffered from him in their
comedy; he left deeply graven upon Frederick's fame the trace of those
lacerating talons which he could strike to the quick; and it is the
singular effect of this scene of their brief friendship that one feels
there the pre-eminence of the wit in whatever was most important to
The rain had lifted a little and the sun shone out on the bloom of the
lovely parterre where the Marches profited by a smiling moment to wander
among the statues and the roses heavy with the shower. Then they walked
back to their carriage and drove to the New Palace, which expresses in
differing architectural terms the same subjection to an alien ideal of
beauty. It is thronged without by delightfully preposterous rococco
statues, and within it is rich in all those curiosities and memorials of
royalty with which palaces so well know how to fatigue the flesh and
spirit of their visitors.
The Marches escaped from it all with sighs and groans of relief, and
before they drove off to see the great fountain of the Orangeries, they
dedicated a moment of pathos to the Temple of Friendship which Frederick
built in memory of unhappy Wilhelmina of Beyreuth, the sister he loved in
the common sorrow of their wretched home, and neglected when he came to
his kingdom. It is beautiful in its rococco way, swept up to on its
terrace by most noble staircases, and swaggered over by baroque
allegories of all sorts: Everywhere the statues outnumbered the visitors,
who may have been kept away by the rain; the statues naturally did not
Sometime in the midst of their sight-seeing the Marches had dinner in a
mildewed restaurant, where a compatriotic accent caught their ear in a
voice saying to the waiter, "We are in a hurry." They looked round and
saw that it proceeded from the pretty nose of a young American girl, who
sat with a party of young American girls at a neighboring table. Then
they perceived that all the people in that restaurant were Americans,
mostly young girls, who all looked as if they were in a hurry. But
neither their beauty nor their impatience had the least effect with the
waiter, who prolonged the dinner at his pleasure, and alarmed the Marches
with the misgiving that they should not have time for the final palace on
This was the palace where the father of Frederick, the mad old Frederick
William, brought up his children with that severity which Solomon urged
but probably did not practise. It is a vast place, but they had time for
it all, though the custodian made the most of them as the latest comers
of the day, and led them through it with a prolixity as great as their
waiter's. He was a most friendly custodian, and when he found that they
had some little notion of what they wanted to see, he mixed zeal with his
patronage, and in a manner made them his honored guests. They saw
everything but the doorway where the faithful royal father used to lie in
wait for his children and beat them, princes and princesses alike, with
his knobby cane as they came through. They might have seen this doorway
without knowing it; but from the window overlooking the parade-ground
where his family watched the manoeuvres of his gigantic grenadiers, they
made sure of just such puddles as Frederick William forced his family to
sit with their feet in, while they dined alfresco on pork and cabbage;
and they visited the room of the Smoking Parliament where he ruled his
convives with a rod of iron, and made them the victims of his bad jokes.
The measuring-board against which he took the stature of his tall
grenadiers is there, and one room is devoted to those masterpieces which
he used to paint in the agonies of gout. His chef d'oeuvre contains a
figure with two left feet, and there seemed no reason why it might not.
have had three. In another room is a small statue of Carlyle, who did so
much to rehabilitate the house which the daughter of it, Wilhelmina, did
so much to demolish in the regard of men.
The palace is now mostly kept for guests, and there is a chamber where
Napoleon slept, which is not likely to be occupied soon by any other
self-invited guest of his nation. It is perhaps to keep the princes of
Europe humble that hardly a palace on the Continent is without the
chamber of this adventurer, who, till he stooped to be like them, was
easily their master. Another democracy had here recorded its invasion in
the American stoves which the custodian pointed out in the corridor when
Mrs, March, with as little delay as possible, had proclaimed their
country. The custodian professed an added respect for them from the fact,
and if he did not feel it, no doubt he merited the drink money which they
lavished on him at parting.
Their driver also was a congenial spirit, and when he let them out of his
carriage at the station, he excused the rainy day to them. He was a merry
fellow beyond the wont of his nation, and he-laughed at the bad weather,
as if it had been a good joke on them.
His gayety, and the red sunset light, which shone on the stems of the
pines on the way back to Berlin, contributed to the content in which they
reviewed their visit to Potsdam. They agreed that the place was perfectly
charming, and that it was incomparably expressive of kingly will and
pride. These had done there on the grand scale what all the German
princes and princelings had tried to do in imitation and emulation of
French splendor. In Potsdam the grandeur, was not a historical growth as
at Versailles, but was the effect of family genius, in which there was
often the curious fascination of insanity.
They felt this strongly again amidst the futile monuments of the
Hohenzollern Museum, in Berlin, where all the portraits, effigies,
personal belongings and memorials of that gifted, eccentric race are
gathered and historically disposed. The princes of the mighty line who
stand out from the rest are Frederick the Great and his infuriate.
father; and in the waxen likeness of the son, a small thin figure,
terribly spry, and a face pitilessly alert, appears something of the
madness which showed in the life of the sire.
They went through many rooms in which the memorials of the kings and
queens, the emperors and empresses were carefully ordered, and felt no
kindness except before the relics relating to the Emperor Frederick and
his mother. In the presence of the greatest of the dynasty they
experienced a kind of terror which March expressed, when they were safely
away, in the confession of his joy that those people were dead.
The rough weather which made Berlin almost uninhabitable to Mrs. March
had such an effect with General Triscoe at Weimar that under the orders
of an English-speaking doctor he retreated from it altogether and went to
bed. Here he escaped the bronchitis which had attacked him, and his
convalesence left him so little to complain of that he could not always
keep his temper. In the absence of actual offence, either from his
daughter or from Burnamy, his sense of injury took a retroactive form; it
centred first in Stoller and the twins; then it diverged toward Rose
Adding, his mother and Kenby, and finally involved the Marches in the
same measure of inculpation; for they had each and all had part, directly
or indirectly, in the chances that brought on his cold.
He owed to Burnamy the comfort of the best room in the hotel, and he was
constantly dependent upon his kindness; but he made it evident that he
did not over-value Burnamy's sacrifice and devotion, and that it was not
an unmixed pleasure, however great a convenience, to have him about. In
giving up his room, Burnamy had proposed going out of the hotel
altogether; but General Triscoe heard of this with almost as great
vexation as he had accepted the room. He besought him not to go, but so
ungraciously that his daughter was ashamed, and tried to atone for his
manner by the kindness of her own.
Perhaps General Triscoe would not have been without excuse if he were not
eager to have her share with destitute merit the fortune which she had
hitherto shared only with him. He was old, and certain luxuries had
become habits if not necessaries with him. Of course he did not say this
to himself; and still less did he say it to her. But he let her see that
he did not enjoy the chance which had thrown them again in such close
relations with Burnamy, and he did pot hide his belief that the Marches
were somehow to blame for it. This made it impossible for her to write at
once to Mrs. March as she had promised; but she was determined that it
should not make her unjust to Burnamy. She would not avoid him; she would
not let anything that had happened keep her from showing that she felt
his kindness and was glad of his help.
Of course they knew no one else in Weimar, and his presence merely as a
fellow-countryman would have been precious. He got them a doctor, against
General Triscoe's will; he went for his medicines; he lent him books and
papers; he sat with him and tried to amuse him. But with the girl he
attempted no return to the situation at Carlsbad; there is nothing like
the delicate pride of a young man who resolves to forego unfair advantage
The day after their arrival, when her father was making up for the sleep
he had lost by night, she found herself alone in the little reading-room
of the hotel with Burnamy for the first time, and she said: "I suppose
you must have been all over Weimar by this time."
"Well, I've been here, off and on, almost a month. It's an interesting
place. There's a good deal of the old literary quality left."
"And you enjoy that! I saw"—she added this with a little unnecessary
flush—"your poem in the paper you lent papa."
"I suppose I ought to have kept that back. But I couldn't." He laughed,
and she said:
"You must find a great deal of inspiration in such a literary place."
"It isn't lying about loose, exactly." Even in the serious and perplexing
situation in which he found himself he could not help being amused with
her unliterary notions of literature, her conventional and commonplace
conceptions of it. They had their value with him as those of a more
fashionable world than his own, which he believed was somehow a greater
world. At the same time he believed that she was now interposing them
between the present and the past, and forbidding with them any return to
the mood of their last meeting in Carlsbad. He looked at her ladylike
composure and unconsciousness, and wondered if she could be the same
person and the same person as they who lost themselves in the crowd that
night and heard and said words palpitant with fate. Perhaps there had
been no such words; perhaps it was all a hallucination. He must leave her
to recognize that it was reality; till she did so, he felt bitterly that
there was nothing for him but submission and patience; if she never did
so, there was nothing for him but acquiescence.
In this talk and in the talks they had afterwards she seemed willing
enough to speak of what had happened since: of coming on to Wurzburg with
the Addings and of finding the Marches there; of Rose's collapse, and of
his mother's flight seaward with him in the care of Kenby, who was so
fortunately going to Holland, too. He on his side told her of going to
Wurzburg for the manoeuvres, and they agreed that it was very strange
they had not met.
She did not try to keep their relations from taking the domestic
character which was inevitable, and it seemed to him that this in itself
was significant of a determination on her part that was fatal to his
hopes. With a lover's indefinite power of blinding himself to what is
before his eyes, he believed that if she had been more diffident of him,
more uneasy in his presence, he should have had more courage; but for her
to breakfast unafraid with him, to meet him at lunch and dinner in the
little dining-room where they were often the only guests, and always the
only English-speaking guests, was nothing less than prohibitive.
In the hotel service there was one of those men who are porters in this
world, but will be angels in the next, unless the perfect goodness of
their looks, the constant kindness of their acts, belies them. The
Marches had known and loved the man in their brief stay, and he had been
the fast friend of Burnamy from the moment they first saw each other at
the station. He had tenderly taken possession of General Triscoe on his
arrival, and had constituted himself the nurse and keeper of the
irascible invalid, in the intervals of going to the trains, with a zeal
that often relieved his daughter and Burnamy. The general in fact
preferred him to either, and a tacit custom grew up by which when August
knocked at his door, and offered himself in his few words of serviceable
English, that one of them who happened to be sitting with the general
gave way, and left him in charge. The retiring watcher was then apt to
encounter the other watcher on the stairs, or in the reading-room, or in
the tiny, white-pebbled door-yard at a little table in the shade of the
wooden-tubbed evergreens. From the habit of doing this they one day
suddenly formed the habit of going across the street to that gardened
hollow before and below the Grand-Ducal Museum. There was here a bench in
the shelter of some late-flowering bush which the few other frequenters
of the place soon recognized as belonging to the young strangers, so that
they would silently rise and leave it to them when they saw them coming.
Apparently they yielded not only to their right, but to a certain
authority which resides in lovers, and which all other men, and
especially all other women, like to acknowledge and respect.
In the absence of any civic documents bearing upon the affair it is
difficult to establish the fact that this was the character in which
Agatha and Burnamy were commonly regarded by the inhabitants of Weimar.
But whatever their own notion of their relation was, if it was not that
of a Brant and a Brautigam, the people of Weimar would have been puzzled
to say what it was. It was known that the gracious young lady's father,
who would naturally have accompanied them, was sick, and in the fact that
they were Americans much extenuation was found for whatever was
phenomenal in their unencumbered enjoyment of each other's society.
If their free American association was indistinguishably like the peasant
informality which General Triscoe despised in the relations of Kenby and
Mrs. Adding, it is to be said in his excuse that he could not be fully
cognizant of it, in the circumstances, and so could do nothing to prevent
it. His pessimism extended to his health; from the first he believed
himself worse than the doctor thought him, and he would have had some
other physician if he had not found consolation in their difference of
opinion and the consequent contempt which he was enabled to cherish for
the doctor in view of the man's complete ignorance of the case. In proof
of his own better understanding of it, he remained in bed some time after
the doctor said he might get up.
Nearly ten days had passed before he left his room, and it was not till
then that he clearly saw how far affairs had gone with his daughter and
Burnamy, though even then his observance seemed to have anticipated
theirs. He found them in a quiet acceptance of the fortune which had
brought them together, so contented that they appeared to ask nothing
more of it. The divine patience and confidence of their youth might
sometimes have had almost the effect of indifference to a witness who had
seen its evolution from the moods of the first few days of their reunion
in Weimar. To General Triscoe, however, it looked like an understanding
which had been made without reference to his wishes, and had not been
directly brought to his knowledge.
"Agatha," he said, after due note of a gay contest between her and
Burnamy over the pleasure and privilege of ordering his supper sent to
his room when he had gone back to it from his first afternoon in the open
air, "how long is that young man going to stay in Weimar?"
"Why, I don't know!" she answered, startled from her work of beating the
sofa pillows into shape, and pausing with one of them in her hand. "I
never asked him." She looked down candidly into his face where he sat in
an easy-chair waiting for her arrangement of the sofa. "What makes you
He answered with another question. "Does he know that we had thought of
"Why, we've always talked of that, haven't we? Yes, he knows it. Didn't
you want him to know it, papa? You ought to have begun on the ship, then.
Of course I've asked him what sort of place it was. I'm sorry if you
didn't want me to."
"Have I said that? It's perfectly easy to push on to Paris. Unless—"
"Unless what?" Agatha dropped the pillow, and listened respectfully. But
in spite of her filial attitude she could not keep her youth and strength
and courage from quelling the forces of the elderly man.
He said querulously, "I don't see why you take that tone with me. You
certainly know what I mean. But if you don't care to deal openly with me,
I won't ask you." He dropped his eyes from her face, and at the same time
a deep blush began to tinge it, growing up from her neck to her forehead.
"You must know—you're not a child," he continued, still with averted
eyes, "that this sort of thing can't go on… It must be something else,
or it mustn't be anything at all. I don't ask you for your confidence,
and you know that I've never sought to control you."
This was not the least true, but Agatha answered, either absently or
"And I don't seek to do so now. If you have nothing that you wish to tell
He waited, and after what seemed a long time, she asked as if she had not
heard him, "Will you lie down a little before your supper, papa?"
"I will lie down when I feel like it," he answered. "Send August with the
supper; he can look after me."
His resentful tone, even more than his words, dismissed her, but she left
him without apparent grievance, saying quietly, "I will send August."
Agatha did not come down to supper with Burnamy. She asked August, when
she gave him her father's order, to have a cup of tea sent to her room,
where, when it came, she remained thinking so long that it was rather
tepid by the time she drank it.
Then she went to her window, and looked out, first above and next below.
Above, the moon was hanging over the gardened hollow before the Museum
with the airy lightness of an American moon. Below was Burnamy behind the
tubbed evergreens, sitting tilted in his chair against the house wall,
with the spark of his cigar fainting and flashing like an American
firefly. Agatha went down to the door, after a little delay, and seemed
surprised to find him there; at least she said, "Oh!" in a tone of
Burnamy stood up, and answered, "Nice night."
"Beautiful!" she breathed. "I didn't suppose the sky in Germany could
ever be so clear."
"It seems to be doing its best."
"The flowers over there look like ghosts in the light," she said
"They're not. Don't you want to get your hat and wrap, and go over and
expose the fraud?"
"Oh," she answered, as if it were merely a question of the hat and wrap,
"I have them."
They sauntered through the garden walks for a while, long enough to have
ascertained that there was not a veridical phantom among the flowers, if
they had been looking, and then when they came to their accustomed seat,
they sat down, and she said, "I don't know that I've seen the moon so
clear since we left Carlsbad." At the last word his heart gave a jump
that seemed to lodge it in his throat and kept him from speaking, so that
she could resume without interruption, "I've got something of yours, that
you left at the Posthof. The girl that broke the dishes found it, and
Lili gave it to Mrs. March for you." This did not account for Agatha's
having the thing, whatever it was; but when she took a handkerchief from
her belt, and put out her hand with it toward him, he seemed to find that
her having it had necessarily followed. He tried to take it from her, but
his own hand trembled so that it clung to hers, and he gasped, "Can't you
say now, what you wouldn't say then?"
The logical sequence was no more obvious than be fore; but she apparently
felt it in her turn as he had felt it in his. She whispered back, "Yes,"
and then she could not get out anything more till she entreated in a
half-stifled voice, "Oh, don't!"
"No, no!" he panted. "I won't—I oughtn't to have done it—I beg your
pardon—I oughtn't to have spoken,—even—I—"
She returned in a far less breathless and tremulous fashion, but still
between laughing and crying, "I meant to make you. And now, if you're
ever sorry, or I'm ever too topping about anything, you can be perfectly
free to say that you'd never have spoken if you hadn't seen that I wanted
"But I didn't see any such thing," he protested. "I spoke because I
couldn't help it any longer."
She laughed triumphantly. "Of course you think so! And that shows that
you are only a man after all; in spite of your finessing. But I am going
to have the credit of it. I knew that you were holding back because you
were too proud, or thought you hadn't the right, or something. Weren't
you?" She startled him with the sudden vehemence of her challenge: "If
you pretend, that you weren't I shall never forgive you!"
"But I was! Of course I was. I was afraid—"
"Isn't that what I said?" She triumphed over him with another laugh, and
cowered a little closer to him, if that could be.
They were standing, without knowing how they had got to their feet; and
now without any purpose of the kind, they began to stroll again among the
garden paths, and to ask and to answer questions, which touched every
point of their common history, and yet left it a mine of inexhaustible
knowledge for all future time. Out of the sweet and dear delight of this
encyclopedian reserve two or three facts appeared with a present
distinctness. One of these was that Burnamy had regarded her refusal to
be definite at Carlsbad as definite refusal, and had meant never to see
her again, and certainly never to speak again of love to her. Another
point was that she had not resented his coming back that last night, but
had been proud and happy in it as proof of his love, and had always meant
somehow to let him know that she was torched by his trusting her enough
to come back while he was still under that cloud with Mr. Stoller. With
further logic, purely of the heart, she acquitted him altogether of wrong
in that affair, and alleged in proof, what Mr. Stoller had said of it to
Mr. March. Burnamy owned that he knew what Stoller had said, but even in
his present condition he could not accept fully her reading of that
obscure passage of his life. He preferred to put the question by, and
perhaps neither of them cared anything about it except as it related to
the fact that they were now each other's forever.
They agreed that they must write to Mr. and Mrs. March at once; or at
least, Agatha said, as soon as she had spoken to her father. At her
mention of her father she was aware of a doubt, a fear, in Burnamy which
expressed itself by scarcely more than a spiritual consciousness from his
arm to the hands which she had clasped within it. "He has always
appreciated you," she said courageously, "and I know he will see it in
the right light."
She probably meant no more than to affirm her faith in her own ability
finally to bring her father to a just mind concerning it; but Burnamy
accepted her assurance with buoyant hopefulness, and said he would see
General Triscoe the first thing in the morning.
"No, I will see him," she said, "I wish to see him first; he will expect
it of me. We had better go in, now," she added, but neither made any
motion for the present to do so. On the contrary, they walked in the
other direction, and it was an hour after Agatha declared their duty in
the matter before they tried to fulfil it.
Then, indeed, after they returned to the hotel, she lost no time in going
to her father beyond that which must be given to a long hand-pressure
under the fresco of the five poets on the stairs landing, where her ways
and Burnamy's parted. She went into her own room, and softly opened the
door into her father's and listened.
"Well?" he said in a sort of challenging voice.
"Have you been asleep?" she asked.
"I've just blown out my light. What has kept you?"
She did not reply categorically. Standing there in the sheltering dark,
she said, "Papa, I wasn't very candid with you, this afternoon. I am
engaged to Mr. Burnamy."
"Light the candle," said her father. "Or no," he added before she could
do so. "Is it quite settled?"
"Quite," she answered in a voice that admitted of no doubt. "That is, as
far as it can be, without you."
"Don't be a hypocrite, Agatha," said the general. "And let me try to get
to sleep. You know I don't like it, and you know I can't help it."
"Yes," the girl assented.
"Then go to bed," said the general concisely.
Agatha did not obey her father. She thought she ought to kiss him, but
she decided that she had better postpone this; so she merely gave him a
tender goodnight, to which he made no response, and shut herself into her
own room, where she remained sitting and staring out into the moonlight,
with a smile that never left her lips.
When the moon sank below the horizon, the sky was pale with the coming
day, but before it was fairly dawn, she saw something white, not much
greater than some moths, moving before her window. She pulled the valves
open and found it a bit of paper attached to a thread dangling from
above. She broke it loose and in the morning twilight she read the great
central truth of the universe:
"I love you. L. J. B."
She wrote under the tremendous inspiration:
"So do I. Don't be silly. A. T."
She fastened the paper to the thread again, and gave it a little twitch.
She waited for the low note of laughter which did not fail to flutter
down from above; then she threw herself upon the bed, and fell asleep.
It was not so late as she thought when she woke, and it seemed, at
breakfast, that Burnamy had been up still earlier. Of the three involved
in the anxiety of the night before General Triscoe was still respited
from it by sleep, but he woke much more haggard than either of the young
people. They, in fact, were not at all haggard; the worst was over, if
bringing their engagement to his knowledge was the worst; the formality
of asking his consent which Burnamy still had to go through was
unpleasant, but after all it was a formality. Agatha told him everything
that had passed between herself and her father, and if it had not that
cordiality on his part which they could have wished it was certainly not
They agreed at breakfast that Burnamy had better have it over as quickly
as possible, and he waited only till August came down with the general's
tray before going up to his room. The young fellow did not feel more at
his ease than the elder meant he should in taking the chair to which the
general waved him from where he lay in bed; and there was no talk wasted
upon the weather between them.
"I suppose I know what you have come for, Mr. Burnamy," said General
Triscoe in a tone which was rather judicial than otherwise, "and I
suppose you know why you have come." The words certainly opened the way
for Burnamy, but he hesitated so long to take it that the general had
abundant time to add, "I don't pretend that this event is unexpected, but
I should like to know what reason you have for thinking I should wish you
to marry my daughter. I take it for granted that you are attached to each
other, and we won't waste time on that point. Not to beat about the bush,
on the next point, let me ask at once what your means of supporting her
are. How much did you earn on that newspaper in Chicago?"
"Fifteen hundred dollars," Burnamy answered, promptly enough.
"Did you earn anything more, say within the last year?"
"I got three hundred dollars advance copyright for a book I sold to a
publisher." The glory had not yet faded from the fact in Burnamy's mind.
"Eighteen hundred. What did you get for your poem in March's book?"
"That's a very trifling matter: fifteen dollars."
"And your salary as private secretary to that man Stoller?"
"Thirty dollars a week, and my expenses. But I wouldn't take that,
General Triscoe," said Burnamy.
General Triscoe, from his 'lit de justice', passed this point in silence.
"Have you any one dependent on you?"
"My mother; I take care of my mother," answered Burnamy, proudly.
"Since you have broken with Stoller, what are your prospects?"
"I have none."
"Then you don't expect to support my daughter; you expect to live upon
"I expect to do nothing of the kind!" cried Burnamy. "I should be
ashamed—I should feel disgraced—I should—I don't ask you—I don't ask
her till I have the means to support her—"
"If you were very fortunate," continued the general, unmoved by the young
fellow's pain, and unperturbed by the fact that he had himself lived upon
his wife's means as long as she lived, and then upon his daughter's, "if
you went back to Stoller—"
"I wouldn't go back to him. I don't say he's knowingly a rascal, but he's
ignorantly a rascal, and he proposed a rascally thing to me. I behaved
badly to him, and I'd give anything to undo the wrong I let him do
himself; but I'll never go back to him."
"If you went back, on your old salary," the general persisted pitilessly,
"you would be very fortunate if you brought your earnings up to
twenty-five hundred a year."
"And how far do you think that would go in supporting my daughter on the
scale she is used to? I don't speak of your mother, who has the first
claim upon you."
Burnamy sat dumb; and his head which he had lifted indignantly when the
question was of Stoller, began to sink.
The general went on. "You ask me to give you my daughter when you haven't
money enough to keep her in gowns; you ask me to give her to a
"Not quite a stranger, General Triscoe," Burnamy protested. "You have
known me for three months at least, and any one who knows me in Chicago
will tell you—"
"A stranger, and worse than a stranger," the general continued, so
pleased with the logical perfection of his position that he almost
smiled, and certainly softened toward Burnamy. "It isn't a question of
liking you, Mr. Burnamy, but of knowing you; my daughter likes you; so do
the Marches; so does everybody who has met you. I like you myself. You've
done me personally a thousand kindnesses. But I know very little of you,
in spite of our three months' acquaintance; and that little is—But you
shall judge for yourself! You were in the confidential employ of a man
who trusted you, and you let him betray himself."
"I did. I don't excuse it. The thought of it burns like fire. But it
wasn't done maliciously; it wasn't done falsely; it was done
inconsiderately; and when it was done, it seemed irrevocable. But it
wasn't; I could have prevented, I could have stooped the mischief; and I
didn't! I can never outlive that."
"I know," said the general relentlessly, "that you have never attempted
any defence. That has been to your credit with me. It inclined me to
overlook your unwarranted course in writing to my daughter, when you told
her you would never see her again. What did you expect me to think, after
that, of your coming back to see her? Or didn't you expect me to know
"I expected you to know it; I knew she would tell you. But I don't excuse
that, either. It was acting a lie to come back. All I can say is that I
had to see her again for one last time."
"And to make sure that it was to be the last time, you offered yourself
"I couldn't help doing that."
"I don't say you could. I don't judge the facts at all. I leave them
altogether to you; and you shall say what a man in my position ought to
say to such a man as you have shown yourself."
"No, I will say." The door into the adjoining room was flung open, and
Agatha flashed in from it.
Her father looked coldly at her impassioned face. "Have you been
listening?" he asked.
"I have been hearing—"
"Oh!" As nearly as a man could, in bed, General Triscoe shrugged.
"I suppose I had, a right to be in my own room. I couldn't help hearing;
and I was perfectly astonished at you, papa, the cruel way you went on,
after all you've said about Mr. Stoller, and his getting no more than he
"That doesn't justify me," Burnamy began, but she cut him short almost as
severely as she—had dealt with her father.
"Yes, it does! It justifies you perfectly! And his wanting you to falsify
the whole thing afterwards, more than justifies you."
Neither of the men attempted anything in reply to her casuistry; they
both looked equally posed by it, for different reasons; and Agatha went
on as vehemently as before, addressing herself now to one and now to the
"And besides, if it didn't justify you, what you have done yourself
would; and your never denying it, or trying to excuse it, makes it the
same as if you hadn't done it, as far as you are concerned; and that is
all I care for." Burnamy started, as if with the sense of having heard
something like this before, and with surprise at hearing it now; and she
flushed a little as she added tremulously, "And I should never, never
blame you for it, after that; it's only trying to wriggle out of things
which I despise, and you've never done that. And he simply had to come
back," she turned to her father, "and tell me himself just how it was.
And you said yourself, papa—or the same as said—that he had no right to
suppose I was interested in his affairs unless he—unless—And I should
never have forgiven him, if he hadn't told me then that he that he had
come back because he—felt the way he did. I consider that that
exonerated him for breaking his word, completely. If he hadn't broken his
word I should have thought he had acted very cruelly and—and strangely.
And ever since then, he has behaved so nobly, so honorably, so
delicately, that I don't believe he would ever have said anything
again—if I hadn't fairly forced him. Yes! Yes, I did!" she cried at a
movement of remonstrance from Burnamy. "And I shall always be proud of
you for it." Her father stared steadfastly at her, and he only lifted his
eyebrows, for change of expression, when she went over to where Burnamy
stood, and put her hand in his with a certain childlike impetuosity. "And
as for the rest," she declared, "everything I have is his; just as
everything of his would be mine if I had nothing. Or if he wishes to take
me without anything, then he can have me so, and I sha'n't be afraid but
we can get along somehow." She added, "I have managed without a maid,
ever since I left home, and poverty has no terrors for me!"
General Triscoe submitted to defeat with the patience which soldiers
learn. He did not submit amiably; that would have been out of character,
and perhaps out of reason; but Burnamy and Agatha were both so amiable
that they supplied good-humor for all. They flaunted their rapture in her
father's face as little as they could, but he may have found their serene
satisfaction, their settled confidence in their fate, as hard to bear as
a more boisterous happiness would have been.
It was agreed among them all that they were to return soon to America,
and Burnamy was to find some sort of literary or journalistic employment
in New York. She was much surer than he that this could be done with
perfect ease; but they were of an equal mind that General Triscoe was not
to be disturbed in any of his habits, or vexed in the tenor of his
living; and until Burnamy was at least self-supporting there must be no
talk of their being married.
The talk of their being engaged was quite enough for the time. It
included complete and minute auto-biographies on both sides, reciprocal
analyses of character, a scientifically exhaustive comparison of tastes,
ideas and opinions; a profound study of their respective chins, noses,
eyes, hands, heights, complexions, moles and freckles, with some account
of their several friends.
In this occupation, which was profitably varied by the confession of what
they had each thought and felt and dreamt concerning the other at every
instant since they met, they passed rapidly the days which the persistent
anxiety of General Triscoe interposed before the date of their leaving
Weimar for Paris, where it was arranged that they should spend a month
before sailing for New York. Burnamy had a notion, which Agatha approved,
of trying for something there on the New York-Paris Chronicle; and if he
got it they might not go home at once. His gains from that paper had eked
out his copyright from his book, and had almost paid his expenses in
getting the material which he had contributed to it. They were not so
great, however, but that his gold reserve was reduced to less than a
hundred dollars, counting the silver coinages which had remained to him
in crossing and recrossing frontiers. He was at times dimly conscious of
his finances, but he buoyantly disregarded the facts, as incompatible
with his status as Agatha's betrothed, if not unworthy of his character
as a lover in the abstract.
The afternoon before they were to leave Weimar, they spent mostly in the
garden before the Grand-Ducal Museum, in a conference so important that
when it came on to rain, at one moment, they put up Burnamy's umbrella,
and continued to sit under it rather than interrupt the proceedings even
to let Agatha go back to the hotel and look after her father's packing.
Her own had been finished before dinner, so as to leave her the whole
afternoon for their conference, and to allow her father to remain in
undisturbed possession of his room as long as possible.
What chiefly remained to be put into the general's trunk were his coats
and trousers, hanging in the closet, and August took these down, and
carefully folded and packed them. Then, to make sure that nothing had
been forgotten, Agatha put a chair into the closet when she came in, and
stood on it to examine the shelf which stretched above the hooks.
There seemed at first to be nothing on it, and then there seemed to be
something in the further corner, which when it was tiptoed for, proved to
be a bouquet of flowers, not so faded as to seem very old; the blue satin
ribbon which they were tied up with, and which hung down half a yard, was
of entire freshness except far the dust of the shelf where it had lain.
Agatha backed out into the room with her find in her hand, and examined
it near to, and then at arm's length. August stood by with a pair of the
general's trousers lying across his outstretched hands, and as Agatha
absently looked round at him, she caught a light of intelligence in his
eyes which changed her whole psychological relation to the withered
bouquet. Till then it had been a lifeless, meaningless bunch of flowers,
which some one, for no motive, had tossed up on that dusty shelf in the
closet. At August's smile it became something else. Still she asked
lightly enough, "Was ist loss, August?"
His smile deepened and broadened. "Fur die Andere," he explained.
Agatha demanded in English, "What do you mean by feardy ondery?"
"Other lady?" August nodded, rejoicing in big success, and Agatha closed
the door into her own room, where the general had been put for the time
so as to be spared the annoyance of the packing; then she sat down with
her hands in her lap, and the bouquet in her hands. "Now, August," she
said very calmly, "I want you to tell me-ich wunsche Sie zu mir
sagen—what other lady—wass andere Dame—these flowers belonged
to—diese Blumen gehorte zu. Verstehen Sie?"
August nodded brightly, and with German carefully adjusted to Agatha's
capacity, and with now and then a word or phrase of English, he conveyed
that before she and her Herr Father had appeared, there had been in
Weimar another American Fraulein with her Frau Mother; they had not
indeed staid in that hotel, but had several times supped there with the
young Herr Bornahmee, who was occupying that room before her Herr Father.
The young Herr had been much about with these American Damen, driving and
walking with them, and sometimes dining or supping with them at their
hotel, The Elephant. August had sometimes carried notes to them from the
young Herr, and he had gone for the bouquet which the gracious Fraulein
was holding, on the morning of the day that the American Damen left by
the train for Hanover.
August was much helped and encouraged throughout by the friendly
intelligence of the gracious Fraulein, who smiled radiantly in clearing
up one dim point after another, and who now and then supplied the English
analogues which he sought in his effort to render his German more
At the end she returned to the work of packing, in which she directed
him, and sometimes assisted him with her own hands, having put the
bouquet on the mantel to leave herself free. She took it up again and
carried it into her own room, when she went with August to summon her
father back to his. She bade August say to the young Herr, if he saw him,
that she was going to sup with her father, and August gave her message to
Burnamy, whom he met on the stairs coming down as he was going up with
Agatha usually supped with her father, but that evening Burnamy was less
able than usual to bear her absence in the hotel dining-room, and he went
up to a cafe in the town for his supper. He did not stay long, and when
he returned his heart gave a joyful lift at sight of Agatha looking out
from her balcony, as if she were looking for him. He made her a gay
flourishing bow, lifting his hat high, and she came down to meet him at
the hotel door. She had her hat on and jacket over one arm and she joined
him at once for the farewell walk he proposed in what they had agreed to
call their garden.
She moved a little ahead of him, and when they reached the place where
they always sat, she shifted her jacket to the other arm and uncovered
the hand in which she had been carrying the withered bouquet. "Here is
something I found in your closet, when I was getting papa's things out."
"Why, what is it?" he asked innocently, as he took it from her.
"A bouquet, apparently," she answered, as he drew the long ribbons
through his fingers, and looked at the flowers curiously, with his head
"Where did you get it?"
"On the shelf."
It seemed a long time before Burnamy said with a long sigh, as of final
recollection, "Oh, yes," and then he said nothing; and they did not sit
down, but stood looking at each other.
"Was it something you got for me, and forgot to give me?" she asked in a
voice which would not have misled a woman, but which did its work with
the young man.
He laughed and said, "Well, hardly! The general has been in the room ever
since you came."
"Oh, yes. Then perhaps somebody left it there before you had the room?"
Burnamy was silent again, but at last he said, "No, I flung it up there I
had forgotten all about it."
"And you wish me to forget about it, too?" Agatha asked in a gayety of
tone that still deceived him.
"It would only be fair. You made me," he rejoined, and there was
something so charming in his words and way, that she would have been glad
to do it.
But she governed herself against the temptation and said, "Women are not
good at forgetting, at least till they know what."
"Oh, I'll tell you, if you want to know," he said with a laugh, and at
the words she—sank provisionally in their accustomed seat. He sat down
beside her, but not so near as usual, and he waited so long before he
began that it seemed as if he had forgotten again. "Why, it's nothing.
Miss Etkins and her mother were here before you came, and this is a
bouquet that I meant to give her at the train when she left. But I
decided I wouldn't, and I threw it onto the shelf in the closet."
"May I ask why you thought of taking a bouquet to her at the train?"
"Well, she and her mother—I had been with them a good deal, and I
thought it would be civil."
"And why did you decide not to be civil?"
"I didn't want it to look like more than civility."
"Were they here long?"
"About a week. They left just after the Marches came."
Agatha seemed not to heed the answer she had exacted. She sat reclined in
the corner of the seat, with her head drooping. After an interval which
was long to Burnamy she began to pull at a ring on the third finger of
her left hand, absently, as if she did not know what she was doing; but
when she had got it off she held it towards Burnamy and said quietly, "I
think you had better have this again," and then she rose and moved slowly
and weakly away.
He had taken the ring mechanically from her, and he stood a moment
bewildered; then he pressed after her.
"Agatha, do you—you don't mean—"
"Yes," she said, without looking round at his face, which she knew was
close to her shoulder. "It's over. It isn't what you've done. It's what
you are. I believed in you, in spite of what you did to that man—and
your coming back when you said you wouldn't—and—But I see now that what
you did was you; it was your nature; and I can't believe in you any
"Agatha!" he implored. "You're not going to be so unjust! There was
nothing between you and me when that girl was here! I had a right to—"
"Not if you really cared for me! Do you think I would have flirted with
any one so soon, if I had cared for you as you pretended you did for me
that night in Carlsbad? Oh, I don't say you're false. But you're
"But I'm not fickle! From the first moment I saw you, I never cared for
any one but you!"
"You have strange ways of showing your devotion. Well, say you are not
fickle. Say, that I'm fickle. I am. I have changed my mind. I see that it
would never do. I leave you free to follow all the turning and twisting
of your fancy." She spoke rapidly, almost breathlessly, and she gave him
no chance to get out the words that seemed to choke him. She began to
run, but at the door of the hotel she stopped and waited till he came
stupidly up. "I have a favor to ask, Mr. Burnamy. I beg you will not see
me again, if you can help it before we go to-morrow. My father and I are
indebted to you for too many kindnesses, and you mustn't take any more
trouble on our account. August can see us off in the morning."
She nodded quickly, and was gone in-doors while he was yet struggling
with his doubt of the reality of what had all so swiftly happened.
General Triscoe was still ignorant of any change in the status to which
he had reconciled himself with so much difficulty, when he came down to
get into the omnibus for the train. Till then he had been too proud to
ask what had become of Burnamy, though he had wondered, but now he looked
about and said impatiently, "I hope that young man isn't going to keep us
Agatha was pale and worn with sleeplessness, but she said firmly, "He
isn't going, papa. I will tell you in the train. August will see to the
tickets and the baggage."
August conspired with the traeger to get them a first-class compartment
to themselves. But even with the advantages of this seclusion Agatha's
confidences to her father were not full. She told her father that her
engagement was broken for reasons that did not mean anything very wrong
in Mr. Burnamy but that convinced her they could never be happy together.
As she did not give the reasons, he found a natural difficulty in
accepting them, and there was something in the situation which appealed
strongly to his contrary-mindedness. Partly from this, partly from his
sense of injury in being obliged so soon to adjust himself to new
conditions, and partly from his comfortable feeling of security from an
engagement to which his assent had been forced, he said, "I hope you're
not making a mistake."
"Oh, no," she answered, and she attested her conviction by a burst of
sobbing that lasted well on the way to the first stop of the train.
It would have been always twice as easy to go direct from Berlin to the
Hague through Hanover; but the Marches decided to go by Frankfort and the
Rhine, because they wished to revisit the famous river, which they
remembered from their youth, and because they wished to stop at
Dusseldorf, where Heinrich Heine was born. Without this Mrs. March, who
kept her husband up to his early passion for the poet with a feeling that
she was defending him from age in it, said that their silver wedding
journey would not be complete; and he began himself to think that it
would be interesting.
They took a sleeping-car for Frankfort and they woke early as people do
in sleeping-cars everywhere. March dressed and went out for a cup of the
same coffee of which sleeping-car buffets have the awful secret in Europe
as well as America, and for a glimpse of the twilight landscape. One gray
little town, towered and steepled and red-roofed within its mediaeval
walls, looked as if it would have been warmer in something more. There
was a heavy dew, if not a light frost, over all, and in places a pale fog
began to lift from the low hills. Then the sun rose without dispersing
the cold, which was afterwards so severe in their room at the Russischer
Hof in Frankfort that in spite of the steam-radiators they sat shivering
in all their wraps till breakfast-time.
There was no steam on in the radiators, of course; when they implored the
portier for at least a lamp to warm their hands by he turned on all the
electric lights without raising the temperature in the slightest degree.
Amidst these modern comforts they were so miserable that they vowed each
other to shun, as long as they were in Germany, or at least while the
summer lasted, all hotels which were steam-heated and electric-lighted.
They heated themselves somewhat with their wrath, and over their
breakfast they relented so far as to suffer themselves a certain interest
in the troops of all arms beginning to pass the hotel. They were
fragments of the great parade, which had ended the day before, and they
were now drifting back to their several quarters of the empire. Many of
them were very picturesque, and they had for the boys and girls running
before and beside them, the charm which armies and circus processions
have for children everywhere. But their passage filled with cruel anxiety
a large old dog whom his master had left harnessed to a milk-cart before
the hotel door; from time to time he lifted up his voice, and called to
the absentee with hoarse, deep barks that almost shook him from his feet.
The day continued blue and bright and cold, and the Marches gave the
morning to a rapid survey of the city, glad that it was at least not wet.
What afterwards chiefly remained to them was the impression of an old
town as quaint almost and as Gothic as old Hamburg, and a new town,
handsome and regular, and, in the sudden arrest of some streets,
apparently overbuilt. The modern architectural taste was of course
Parisian; there is no other taste for the Germans; but in the prevailing
absence of statues there was a relief from the most oppressive
characteristic of the imperial capital which was a positive delight. Some
sort of monument to the national victory over France there must have
been; but it must have been unusually inoffensive, for it left no record
of itself in the travellers' consciousness. They were aware of gardened
squares and avenues, bordered by stately dwellings, of dignified civic
edifices, and of a vast and splendid railroad station, such as the state
builds even in minor European cities, but such as our paternal
corporations have not yet given us anywhere in America. They went to the
Zoological Garden, where they heard the customary Kalmucks at their
public prayers behind a high board fence; and as pilgrims from the most
plutrocratic country in the world March insisted that they must pay their
devoirs at the shrine of the Rothschilds, whose natal banking-house they
revered from the outside.
It was a pity, he said, that the Rothschilds were not on his letter of
credit; he would have been willing to pay tribute to the Genius of
Finance in the percentage on at least ten pounds. But he consoled himself
by reflecting that he did not need the money; and he consoled Mrs. March
for their failure to penetrate to the interior of the Rothschilds'
birthplace by taking her to see the house where Goethe was born. The
public is apparently much more expected there, and in the friendly place
they were no doubt much more welcome than they would have been in the
Rothschild house. Under that roof they renewed a happy moment of Weimar,
which after the lapse of a week seemed already so remote. They wondered,
as they mounted the stairs from the basement opening into a clean little
court, how Burnamy was getting on, and whether it had yet come to that
understanding between him and Agatha, which Mrs. March, at least, had
meant to be inevitable. Then they became part of some such sight-seeing
retinue as followed the custodian about in the Goethe horse in Weimar,
and of an emotion indistinguishable from that of their fellow
sight-seers. They could make sure, afterwards, of a personal pleasure in
a certain prescient classicism of the house. It somehow recalled both the
Goethe houses at Weimar, and it somehow recalled Italy. It is a separate
house of two floors above the entrance, which opens to a little court or
yard, and gives access by a decent stairway to the living-rooms. The
chief of these is a sufficiently dignified parlor or salon, and the most
important is the little chamber in the third story where the poet first
opened his eyes to the light which he rejoiced in for so long a life, and
which, dying, he implored to be with him more. It is as large as his
death-chamber in Weimar, where he breathed this prayer, and it looks down
into the Italian-looking court, where probably he noticed the world for
the first time, and thought it a paved enclosure thirty or forty feet
square. In the birth-room they keep his puppet theatre, and the place is
fairly suggestive of his childhood; later, in his youth, he could look
from the parlor windows and see the house where his earliest love dwelt.
So much remains of Goethe in the place where he was born, and as such
things go, it is not a little. The house is that of a prosperous and
well-placed citizen, and speaks of the senatorial quality in his family
which Heine says he was fond of recalling, rather than the sartorial
quality of the ancestor who, again as Heine says, mended the Republic's
From the Goethe house, one drives by the Goethe monument to the Romer,
the famous town-hall of the old free imperial city which Frankfort once
was; and by this route the Marches drove to it, agreeing with their
coachman that he was to keep as much in the sun as possible. It was still
so cold that when they reached the Romer, and he stopped in a broad blaze
of the only means of heating that they have in Frankfort in the summer,
the travellers were loath to leave it for the chill interior, where the
German emperors were elected for so many centuries. As soon as an emperor
was chosen, in the great hall effigied round with the portraits of his
predecessors, he hurried out in the balcony, ostensibly to show himself
to the people, but really, March contended, to warm up a little in the
sun. The balcony was undergoing repairs that day, and the travellers
could not go out on it; but under the spell of the historic interest of
the beautiful old Gothic place, they lingered in the interior till they
were half-torpid with the cold. Then she abandoned to him the joint duty
of viewing the cathedral, and hurried to their carriage where she basked
in the sun till he came to her. He returned shivering, after a
half-hour's absence, and pretended that she had missed the greatest thing
in the world, but as he could never be got to say just what she had lost,
and under the closest cross-examination could not prove that this
cathedral was memorably different from hundreds of other
fourteenth-century cathedrals, she remained in a lasting content with the
easier part she had chosen. His only definite impression at the cathedral
seemed to be confined to a Bostonian of gloomily correct type, whom he
had seen doing it with his Baedeker, and not letting an object of
interest escape; and his account of her fellow-townsman reconciled Mrs.
March more and more to not having gone.
As it was warmer out-doors than in-doors at Frankfort, and as the breadth
of sunshine increased with the approach of noon they gave the rest of the
morning to driving about and ignorantly enjoying the outside of many
Gothic churches, whose names even they did not trouble themselves to
learn. They liked the river Main whenever they came to it, because it was
so lately from Wurzburg, and because it was so beautiful with its
bridges, old and new, and its boats of many patterns. They liked the
market-place in front of the Romer not only because it was full of
fascinating bargains in curious crockery and wooden-ware, but because
there was scarcely any shade at all in it. They read from their Baedeker
that until the end of the last century no Jew was suffered to enter the
marketplace, and they rejoiced to find from all appearances that the Jews
had been making up for their unjust exclusion ever since. They were
almost as numerous there as the Anglo-Saxons were everywhere else in
Frankfort. These, both of the English and American branches of the race,
prevailed in the hotel diningroom, where the Marches had a mid-day dinner
so good that it almost made amends for the steam-heating and
As soon as possible after dinner they took the train for Mayence, and ran
Rhinewards through a pretty country into what seemed a milder climate. It
grew so much milder, apparently, that a lady in their compartment to whom
March offered his forward-looking seat, ordered the window down when the
guard came, without asking their leave. Then the climate proved much
colder, and Mrs. March cowered under her shawls the rest of the way, and
would not be entreated to look at the pleasant level landscape near, or
the hills far off. He proposed to put up the window as peremptorily as it
had been put down, but she stayed him with a hoarse whisper, "She may be
another Baroness!" At first he did not know what she meant, then he
remembered the lady whose claims to rank her presence had so poorly
enforced on the way to Wurzburg, and he perceived that his wife was
practising a wise forbearance with their fellow-passengers, and giving
her a chance to turn out any sort of highhote she chose. She failed to
profit by the opportunity; she remained simply a selfish, disagreeable
woman, of no more perceptible distinction than their other
fellow-passenger, a little commercial traveller from Vienna (they
resolved from his appearance and the lettering on his valise that he was
no other), who slept with a sort of passionate intensity all the way to
The Main widened and swam fuller as they approached the Rhine, and
flooded the low-lying fields in-places with a pleasant effect under a wet
sunset. When they reached the station in Mayence they drove interminably
to the hotel they had chosen on the river-shore, through a city handsomer
and cleaner than any American city they could think of, and great part of
the way by a street of dwellings nobler, Mrs. March owned, than even
Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. It was planted, like that, with double
rows of trees, but lacked its green lawns; and at times the sign of
Weinhandlung at a corner, betrayed that there was no such restriction
against shops as keeps the Boston street so sacred. Otherwise they had to
confess once more that any inferior city of Germany is of a more proper
and dignified presence than the most parse-proud metropolis in America.
To be sure, they said, the German towns had generally a thousand years'
start; but all the same the fact galled them.
It was very bleak, though very beautiful when they stopped before their
hotel on the Rhine, where all their impalpable memories of their visit to
Mayence thirty years earlier precipitated themselves into something
tangible. There were the reaches of the storied and fabled stream with
its boats and bridges and wooded shores and islands; there were the
spires and towers and roofs of the town on either bank crowding to the
river's brink; and there within-doors was the stately portier in gold
braid, and the smiling, bowing, hand-rubbing landlord, alluring them to
his most expensive rooms, which so late in the season he would fain have
had them take. But in a little elevator, that mounted slowly, very
slowly, in the curve of the stairs, they went higher to something lower,
and the landlord retired baked, and left them to the ministrations of the
serving-men who arrived with their large and small baggage. All these
retired in turn when they asked to have a fire lighted in the stove,
without which Mrs. March would never have taken the fine stately rooms,
and sent back a pretty young girl to do it. She came indignant, not
because she had come lugging a heavy hod of coal and a great arm-load of
wood, but because her sense of fitness was outraged by the strange
"What!" she cried. "A fire in September!"
"Yes," March returned, inspired to miraculous aptness in his German by
the exigency, "yes, if September is cold."
The girl looked at him, and then, either because she thought him mad, or
liked him merry, burst into a loud laugh, and kindled the fire without a
He lighted all the reluctant gas-jets in the vast gilt chandelier, and in
less than half an hour the temperature of the place rose to at least
sixty-five Fahrenheit, with every promise of going higher. Mrs. March
made herself comfortable in a deep chair before the stove, and said she
would have her supper there; and she bade him send her just such a supper
of chicken and honey and tea as they had all had in Mayence when they
supped in her aunt's parlor there all those years ago. He wished to
compute the years, but she drove him out with an imploring cry, and he
went down to a very gusty dining-room on the ground-floor, where he found
himself alone with a young English couple and their little boy. They were
friendly, intelligent people, and would have been conversable,
apparently, but for the terrible cold of the husband, which he said he
had contracted at the manoeuvres in Hombourg. March said he was going to
Holland, and the Englishman was doubtful of the warmth which March
expected to find there. He seemed to be suffering from a suspense of
faith as to the warmth anywhere; from time to time the door of the
dining-room self-opened in a silent, ghostly fashion into the court
without, and let in a chilling draught about the legs of all, till the
little English boy got down from his place and shut it.
He alone continued cheerful, for March's spirits certainly did not rise
when some mumbling Americans came in and muttered over their meat at
another table. He hated to own it, but he had to own that wherever he had
met the two branches of the Anglo-Saxon race together in Europe, the
elder had shown, by a superior chirpiness, to the disadvantage of the
younger. The cast clothes of the old-fashioned British offishness seemed
to have fallen to the American travellers who were trying to be correct
and exemplary; and he would almost rather have had back the old-style
bragging Americans whom he no longer saw. He asked of an agreeable
fellow-countryman whom he found later in the reading-room, what had
become of these; and this compatriot said he had travelled with one only
the day before, who had posed before their whole compartment in his scorn
of the German landscape, the German weather, the German government, the
German railway management, and then turned out an American of German
birth! March found his wife in great bodily comfort when he went back to
her, but in trouble of mind about a clock which she had discovered
standing on the lacquered iron top of the stove. It was a French clock,
of architectural pretensions, in the taste of the first Empire, and it
looked as if it had not been going since Napoleon occupied Mayence early
in the century. But Mrs. March now had it sorely on her conscience where,
in its danger from the heat of the stove, it rested with the weight of
the Pantheon, whose classic form it recalled. She wondered that no one
had noticed it before the fire was kindled, and she required her husband
to remove it at once from the top of the stove to the mantel under the
mirror, which was the natural habitat of such a clock. He said nothing
could be simpler, but when he lifted it, it began to fall all apart, like
a clock in the house of the Hoodoo. Its marble base dropped-off; its
pillars tottered; its pediment swayed to one side. While Mrs. March
lamented her hard fate, and implored him to hurry it together before any
one came, he contrived to reconstruct it in its new place. Then they both
breathed freer, and returned to sit down before the stove. But at the
same moment they both saw, ineffaceably outlined on the lacquered top,
the basal form of the clock. The chambermaid would see it in the morning;
she would notice the removal of the clock, and would make a merit of
reporting its ruin by the heat to the landlord, and in the end they would
be mulcted of its value. Rather than suffer this wrong they agreed to
restore it to its place, and, let it go to destruction upon its own
terms. March painfully rebuilt it where he had found it, and they went to
bed with a bad conscience to worse dreams.
He remembered, before he slept, the hour of his youth when he was in
Mayence before, and was so care free that he had heard with impersonal
joy two young American voices speaking English in the street under his
window. One of them broke from the common talk with a gay burlesque of
pathos in the line:
"Oh heavens! she cried, my Heeding country save!"
and then with a laughing good-night these unseen, unknown spirits of
youth parted and departed. Who were they, and in what different places,
with what cares or ills, had their joyous voices grown old, or fallen
silent for evermore? It was a moonlight night, March remembered, and he
remembered how he wished he were out in it with those merry fellows.
He nursed the memory and the wonder in his dreaming thought, and he woke
early to other voices under his window. But now the voices, though young,
were many and were German, and the march of feet and the stamp of hooves
kept time with their singing. He drew his curtain and saw the street
filled with broken squads of men, some afoot and some on horseback, some
in uniform and some in civil dress with students' caps, loosely
straggling on and roaring forth that song whose words he could not make
out. At breakfast he asked the waiter what it all meant, and he said that
these were conscripts whose service had expired with the late manoeuvres,
and who were now going home. He promised March a translation of the song,
but he never gave it; and perhaps the sense of their joyful home-going
remained the more poetic with him because its utterance remained
March spent the rainy Sunday, on which they had fallen, in wandering
about the little city alone. His wife said she was tired and would sit by
the fire, and hear about Mayence when he came in. He went to the
cathedral, which has its renown for beauty and antiquity, and he there
added to his stock of useful information the fact that the people of
Mayence seemed very Catholic and very devout. They proved it by
preferring to any of the divine old Gothic shrines in the cathedral, an
ugly baroque altar, which was everywhere hung about with votive
offerings. A fashionably dressed young man and young girl sprinkled
themselves with holy water as reverently as if they had been old and
ragged. Some tourists strolled up and down the aisles with their red
guide-books, and studied the objects of interest. A resplendent beadle in
a cocked hat, and with along staff of authority posed before his own
ecclesiastical consciousness in blue and silver. At the high altar a
priest was saying mass, and March wondered whether his consciousness was
as wholly ecclesiastical as the beadle's, or whether somewhere in it he
felt the historical majesty, the long human consecration of the place.
He wandered at random in the town through streets German and quaint and
old, and streets French and fine and new, and got back to the river,
which he crossed on one of the several handsome bridges. The rough river
looked chill under a sky of windy clouds, and he felt out of season, both
as to the summer travel, and as to the journey he was making. The summer
of life as well as the summer of that year was past. Better return to his
own radiator in his flat on Stuyvesant Square; to the great ugly brutal
town which, if it was not home to him, was as much home to him as to any
one. A longing for New York welled up his heart, which was perhaps really
a wish to be at work again. He said he must keep this from his wife, who
seemed not very well, and whom he must try to cheer up when he returned
to the hotel.
But they had not a very joyous afternoon, and the evening was no gayer.
They said that if they had not ordered their letters sent to Dusseldorf
they believed they should push on to Holland without stopping; and March
would have liked to ask, Why not push on to America? But he forbore, and
he was afterwards glad that he had done so.
In the morning their spirits rose with the sun, though the sun got up
behind clouds as usual; and they were further animated by the imposition
which the landlord practised upon them. After a distinct and repeated
agreement as to the price of their rooms he charged them twice as much,
and then made a merit of throwing off two marks out of the twenty he had
plundered them of.
"Now I see," said Mrs. March, on their way down to the boat, "how
fortunate it was that we baked his clock. You may laugh, but I believe we
were the instruments of justice."
"Do you suppose that clock was never baked before?" asked her husband.
"The landlord has his own arrangement with justice. When he overcharges
his parting guests he says to his conscience, Well, they baked my clock."
The morning was raw, but it was something not to have it rainy; and the
clouds that hung upon the hills and hid their tops were at least as fine
as the long board signs advertising chocolate on the river banks. The
smoke rising from the chimneys of the manufactories of Mayence was not so
bad, either, when one got them in the distance a little; and March liked
the way the river swam to the stems of the trees on the low grassy
shores. It was like the Mississippi between St. Louis and Cairo in that,
and it was yellow and thick, like the Mississippi, though he thought he
remembered it blue and clear. A friendly German, of those who began to
come aboard more and more at all the landings after leaving Mayence,
assured him that he was right, and that the Rhine was unusually turbid
from the unusual rains. March had his own belief that whatever the color
of the Rhine might be the rains were not unusual, but he could not
gainsay the friendly German.
Most of the passengers at starting were English and American; but they
showed no prescience of the international affinition which has since
realized itself, in their behavior toward one another. They held silently
apart, and mingled only in the effect of one young man who kept the
Marches in perpetual question whether he was a Bostonian or an
Englishman. His look was Bostonian, but his accent was English; and was
he a Bostonian who had been in England long enough to get the accent, or
was he an Englishman who had been in Boston long enough to get the look?
He wore a belated straw hat, and a thin sack-coat; and in the rush of the
boat through the raw air they fancied him very cold, and longed to offer
him one of their superabundant wraps. At times March actually lifted a
shawl from his knees, feeling sure that the stranger was English and that
he might make so bold with him; then at some glacial glint in the young
man's eye, or at some petrific expression of his delicate face, he felt
that he was a Bostonian, and lost courage and let the shawl sink again.
March tried to forget him in the wonder of seeing the Germans begin to
eat and drink, as soon as they came on boards either from the baskets
they had brought with them, or from the boat's provision. But he
prevailed, with his smile that was like a sneer, through all the events
of the voyage; and took March's mind off the scenery with a sudden wrench
when he came unexpectedly into view after a momentary disappearance. At
the table d'hote, which was served when the landscape began to be less
interesting, the guests were expected to hand their plates across the
table to the stewards but to keep their knives and forks throughout the
different courses, and at each of these partial changes March felt the
young man's chilly eyes upon him, inculpating him for the
semi-civilization of the management. At such times he knew that he was a
The weather cleared, as they descended the river, and under a sky at last
cloudless, the Marches had moments of swift reversion to their former
Rhine journey, when they were young and the purple light of love mantled
the vineyarded hills along the shore, and flushed the castled steeps. The
scene had lost nothing of the beauty they dimly remembered; there were
certain features of it which seemed even fairer and grander than they
remembered. The town of Bingen, where everybody who knows the poem was
more or less born, was beautiful in spite of its factory chimneys, though
there were no compensating castles near it; and the castles seemed as
good as those of the theatre. Here and there some of them had been
restored and were occupied, probably by robber barons who had gone into
trade. Others were still ruinous, and there was now and then such a mere
gray snag that March, at sight of it, involuntarily put his tongue to the
broken tooth which he was keeping for the skill of the first American
For natural sublimity the Rhine scenery, as they recognized once more,
does not compare with the Hudson scenery; and they recalled one point on
the American river where the Central Road tunnels a jutting cliff, which
might very well pass for the rock of the Loreley, where she dreams
'Solo sitting by the shores of old romance'
and the trains run in and out under her knees unheeded. "Still, still you
know," March argued, "this is the Loreley on the Rhine, and not the
Loreley on the Hudson; and I suppose that makes all the difference.
Besides, the Rhine doesn't set up to be sublime; it only means to be
storied and dreamy and romantic and it does it. And then we have really
got no Mouse Tower; we might build one, to be sure."
"Well, we have got no denkmal, either," said his wife, meaning the
national monument to the German reconquest of the Rhine, which they had
just passed, "and that is something in our favor."
"It was too far off for us to see how ugly it was," he returned.
"The denkmal at Coblenz was so near that the bronze Emperor almost rode
aboard the boat."
He could not answer such a piece of logic as that. He yielded, and began
to praise the orcharded levels which now replaced the vine-purpled slopes
of the upper river. He said they put him in mind of orchards that he had
known in his boyhood; and they, agreed that the supreme charm of travel,
after all, was not in seeing something new and strange, but in finding
something familiar and dear in the heart of the strangeness.
At Cologne they found this in the tumult of getting ashore with their
baggage and driving from the steamboat landing to the railroad station,
where they were to get their train for Dusseldorf an hour later. The
station swarmed with travellers eating and drinking and smoking; but they
escaped from it for a precious half of their golden hour, and gave the
time to the great cathedral, which was built, a thousand years ago, just
round the corner from the station, and is therefore very handy to it.
Since they saw the cathedral last it had been finished, and now under a
cloudless evening sky, it soared and swept upward like a pale flame.
Within it was a bit over-clean, a bit bare, but without it was one of the
great memories of the race, the record of a faith which wrought miracles
of beauty, at least, if not piety.
The train gave the Marches another, and last, view of it as they slowly
drew out of the city, and began to run through a level country walled
with far-off hills; past fields of buckwheat showing their stems like
coral under their black tops; past peasant houses changing their wonted
shape to taller and narrower forms; past sluggish streams from which the
mist rose and hung over the meadows, under a red sunset, glassy clear
till the manifold factory chimneys of Dusseldorf stained it with their
This industrial greeting seemed odd from the town where Heinrich Heine
was born; but when they had eaten their supper in the capital little
hotel they found there, and went out for a stroll, they found nothing to
remind them of the factories, and much to make them think of the poet.
The moon, beautiful and perfect as a stage moon, came up over the
shoulder of a church as they passed down a long street which they had all
to themselves. Everybody seemed to have gone to bed, but at a certain
corner a girl opened a window above them, and looked out at the moon.
When they returned to their hotel they found a highwalled garden facing
it, full of black depths of foliage. In the night March woke and saw the
moon standing over the garden, and silvering its leafy tops. This was
really as it should be in the town where the idolized poet of his youth
was born; the poet whom of all others he had adored, and who had once
seemed like a living friend; who had been witness of his first love, and
had helped him to speak it. His wife used to laugh at him for his
Heine-worship in those days; but she had since come to share it, and she,
even more than he, had insisted upon this pilgrimage. He thought long
thoughts of the past, as he looked into the garden across the way, with
an ache for his perished self and the dead companionship of his youth,
all ghosts together in the silvered shadow. The trees shuddered in the
night breeze, and its chill penetrated to him where he stood.
His wife called to him from her room, "What are you doing?"
"Oh, sentimentalizing," he answered boldly.
"Well, you will be sick," she said, and he crept back into bed again.
They had sat up late, talking in a glad excitement. But he woke early, as
an elderly man is apt to do after broken slumbers, and left his wife
still sleeping. He was not so eager for the poetic interests of the town
as he had been the night before; he even deferred his curiosity for
Heine's birth-house to the instructive conference which he had with his
waiter at breakfast. After all, was not it more important to know
something of the actual life of a simple common class of men than to
indulge a faded fancy for the memory of a genius, which no amount of
associations could feed again to its former bloom? The waiter said he was
a Nuremberger, and had learned English in London where he had served a
year for nothing. Afterwards, when he could speak three languages he got
a pound a week, which seemed low for so many, though not so low as the
one mark a day which he now received in Dusseldorf; in Berlin he paid the
hotel two marks a day. March confided to him his secret trouble as to
tips, and they tried vainly to enlighten each other as to what a just tip
He went to his banker's, and when he came back he found his wife with her
breakfast eaten, and so eager for the exploration of Heine's birthplace
that she heard with indifference of his failure to get any letters. It
was too soon to expect them, she said, and then she showed him her plan,
which she had been working out ever since she woke. It contained every
place which Heine had mentioned, and she was determined not one should
escape them. She examined him sharply upon his condition, accusing him of
having taken cold when he got up in the night, and acquitting him with
difficulty. She herself was perfectly well, but a little fagged, and they
must have a carriage.
They set out in a lordly two-spanner, which took up half the little
Bolkerstrasse where Heine was born, when they stopped across the way from
his birthhouse, so that she might first take it all in from the outside
before they entered it. It is a simple street, and not the cleanest of
the streets in a town where most of them are rather dirty. Below the
houses are shops, and the first story of Heine's house is a butcher shop,
with sides of pork and mutton hanging in the windows; above, where the
Heine family must once have lived, a gold-beater and a frame-maker
displayed their signs.
But did the Heine family really once live there? The house looked so
fresh and new that in spite of the tablet in its front affirming it the
poet's birthplace, they doubted; and they were not reassured by the
people who half halted as they passed, and stared at the strangers, so
anomalously interested in the place. They dismounted, and crossed to the
butcher shop where the provision man corroborated the tablet, but could
not understand their wish to go up stairs. He did not try to prevent
them, however, and they climbed to the first floor above, where a placard
on the door declared it private and implored them not to knock. Was this
the outcome of the inmate's despair from the intrusion of other pilgrims
who had wised to see the Heine dwelling-rooms? They durst not knock and
ask so much, and they sadly descended to the ground-floor, where they
found a butcher boy of much greater apparent intelligence than the
butcher himself, who told them that the building in front was as new as
it looked, and the house where Heine was really born was the old house in
the rear. He showed them this house, across a little court patched with
mangy grass and lilac-bushes; and when they wished to visit it he led the
way. The place was strewn both underfoot and overhead with feathers; it
had once been all a garden out to the street, the boy said, but from
these feathers, as well as the odor which prevailed, and the anxious
behavior of a few hens left in the high coop at one side, it was plain
that what remained of the garden was now a chicken slaughteryard. There
was one well-grown tree, and the boy said it was of the poet's time; but
when he let them into the house, he became vague as to the room where
Heine was born; it was certain only that it was somewhere upstairs and
that it could not be seen. The room where they stood was the
frame-maker's shop, and they bought of him a small frame for a memorial.
They bought of the butcher's boy, not so commercially, a branch of lilac;
and they came away, thinking how much amused Heine himself would have
been with their visit; how sadly, how merrily he would have mocked at
their effort to revere his birthplace.
They were too old if not too wise to be daunted by their defeat, and they
drove next to the old court garden beside the Rhine where the poet says
he used to play with the little Veronika, and probably did not. At any
rate, the garden is gone; the Schloss was burned down long ago; and
nothing remains but a detached tower in which the good Elector Jan
Wilhelm, of Heine's time, amused himself with his many mechanical
inventions. The tower seemed to be in process of demolition, but an
intelligent workman who came down out of it, was interested in the
strangers' curiosity, and directed them to a place behind the Historical
Museum where they could find a bit of the old garden. It consisted of two
or three low trees, and under them the statue of the Elector by which
Heine sat with the little Veronika, if he really did. Afresh gale blowing
through the trees stirred the bushes that backed the statue, but not the
laurel wreathing the Elector's head, and meeting in a neat point over his
forehead. The laurel wreath is stone, like the rest of the Elector, who
stands there smirking in marble ermine and armor, and resting his baton
on the nose of a very small lion, who, in the exigencies of
foreshortening, obligingly goes to nothing but a tail under the Elector's
This was a prince who loved himself in effigy so much that he raised an
equestrian statue to his own renown in the market-place, though he
modestly refused the credit of it, and ascribed its erection to the
affection of his subjects. You see him therein a full-bottomed wig,
mounted on a rampant charger with a tail as big round as a barrel, and
heavy enough to keep him from coming down on his fore legs as long as he
likes to hold them up. It was to this horse's back that Heine clambered
when a small boy, to see the French take formal possession of Dusseldorf;
and he clung to the waist of the bronze Elector, who had just abdicated,
while the burgomaster made a long speech, from the balcony of the
Rathhaus, and the Electoral arms were taken down from its doorway.
The Rathhaus is a salad-dressing of German gothic and French rococo as to
its architectural style, and is charming in its way, but the Marches were
in the market-place for the sake of that moment of Heine's boyhood. They
felt that he might have been the boy who stopped as he ran before them,
and smacked the stomach of a large pumpkin lying at the feet of an old
market-woman, and then dashed away before she could frame a protest
against the indignity. From this incident they philosophized that the
boys of Dusseldorf are as mischievous at the end of the century as they
were at the beginning; and they felt the fascination that such a
bounteous, unkempt old marketplace must have for the boys of any period.
There were magnificent vegetables of all sorts in it, and if the fruits
were meagre that was the fault of the rainy summer, perhaps. The
market-place was very dirty, and so was the narrow street leading down
from it to the Rhine, which ran swift as a mountain torrent along a
slatternly quay. A bridge of boats crossing the stream shook in the rapid
current, and a long procession of market carts passed slowly over, while
a cluster of scows waited in picturesque patience for the draw to open.
They saw what a beautiful town that was for a boy to grow up in, and how
many privileges it offered, how many dangers, how many chances for
hairbreadth escapes. They chose that Heine must often have rushed
shrieking joyfully down that foul alley to the Rhine with other boys; and
they easily found a leaf-strewn stretch of the sluggish Dussel, in the
Public Garden, where his playmate, the little Wilhelm, lost his life and
saved the kitten's. They were not so sure of the avenue through which the
poet saw the Emperor Napoleon come riding on his small white horse when
he took possession of the Elector's dominions. But if it was that where
the statue of the Kaiser Wilhelm I. comes riding on a horse led by two
Victories, both poet and hero are avenged there on the accomplished fact.
Defeated and humiliated France triumphs in the badness of that foolish
denkmal (one of the worst in all denkmal-ridden Germany), and the memory
of the singer whom the Hohenzollern family pride forbids honor in his
native place, is immortal in its presence.
On the way back to their hotel, March made some reflections upon the open
neglect, throughout Germany, of the greatest German lyrist, by which the
poet might have profited if he had been present. He contended that it was
not altogether an effect of Hohenzollern pride, which could not suffer a
joke or two from the arch-humorist; but that Heine had said things of
Germany herself which Germans might well have found unpardonable. He
concluded that it would not do to be perfectly frank with one's own
country. Though, to be sure, there would always be the question whether
the Jew-born Heine had even a step-fatherland in the Germany he loved so
tenderly and mocked so pitilessly. He had to own that if he were a negro
poet he would not feel bound to measure terms in speaking of America, and
he would not feel that his fame was in her keeping.
Upon the whole he blamed Heine less than Germany and he accused her of
taking a shabby revenge, in trying to forget him; in the heat of his
resentment that there should be no record of Heine in the city where he
was born, March came near ignoring himself the fact that the poet
Freiligrath was also born there. As for the famous Dusseldorf school of
painting, which once filled the world with the worst art, he rejoiced
that it was now so dead, and he grudged the glance which the beauty of
the new Art Academy extorted from him. It is in the French taste, and is
so far a monument to the continuance in one sort of that French
supremacy, of which in another sort another denkmal celebrates the
overthrow. Dusseldorf is not content with the denkmal of the Kaiser on
horseback, with the two Victories for grooms; there is a second, which
the Marches found when they strolled out again late in the afternoon. It
is in the lovely park which lies in the heart of the city, and they felt
in its presence the only emotion of sympathy which the many patriotic
monuments of Germany awakened in them. It had dignity and repose, which
these never had elsewhere; but it was perhaps not so much for the dying
warrior and the pitying lion of the sculpture that their hearts were
moved as for the gentle and mournful humanity of the inscription, which
dropped into equivalent English verse in March's note-book:
Fame was enough for the Victors, and glory and verdurous laurel;
Tears by their mothers wept founded this image of stone.
To this they could forgive the vaunting record, on the reverse, of the
German soldiers who died heroes in the war with France, the war with
Austria, and even the war with poor little Denmark!
The morning had been bright and warm, and it was just that the afternoon
should be dim and cold, with a pale sun looking through a September mist,
which seemed to deepen the seclusion and silence of the forest reaches;
for the park was really a forest of the German sort, as parks are apt to
be in Germany. But it was beautiful, and they strayed through it, and
sometimes sat down on the benches in its damp shadows, and said how much
seemed to be done in Germany for the people's comfort and pleasure. In
what was their own explicitly, as well as what was tacitly theirs, they
were not so restricted as we were at home, and especially the children
seemed made fondly and lovingly free of all public things. The Marches
met troops of them in the forest, as they strolled slowly back by the
winding Dussel to the gardened avenue leading to the park, and they found
them everywhere gay and joyful. But their elders seemed subdued, and were
silent. The strangers heard no sound of laughter in the streets of
Dusseldorf, and they saw no smiling except on the part of a very old
couple, whose meeting they witnessed and who grinned and cackled at each
other like two children as they shook hands. Perhaps they were indeed
children of that sad second childhood which one would rather not blossom
In America, life is yet a joke with us, even when it is grotesque and
shameful, as it so often is; for we think we can make it right when we
choose. But there is no joking in Germany, between the first and second
childhoods, unless behind closed doors. Even there, people do not joke
above their breath about kings and emperors. If they joke about them in
print, they take out their laugh in jail, for the press laws are severely
enforced, and the prisons are full of able editors, serious as well as
comic. Lese-majesty is a crime that searches sinners out in every walk of
life, and it is said that in family jars a husband sometimes has the last
word of his wife by accusing her of blaspheming the sovereign, and so
having her silenced for three months at least behind penitential bars.
"Think," said March, "how simply I could adjust any differences of
opinion between us in Dusseldorf."
"Don't!" his wife implored with a burst of feeling which surprised him.
"I want to go home!"
They had been talking over their day, and planning their journey to
Holland for the morrow, when it came to this outburst from her in the
last half-hour before bed which they sat prolonging beside their stove.
"What! And not go to Holland? What is to become of my after-cure?"
"Oh, it's too late for that, now. We've used up the month running about,
and tiring ourselves to death. I should like to rest a week—to get into
my berth on the Norumbia and rest!"
"I guess the September gales would have something to say about that."
"I would risk the September gales."
In the morning March came home from his bankers gay with the day's
provisional sunshine in his heart, and joyously expectant of his wife's
pleasure in the letters he was bringing. There was one from each of their
children, and there was one from Fulkerson, which March opened and read
on the street, so as to intercept any unpleasant news there might be in
them; there were two letters for Mrs. March which he knew without opening
were from Miss Triscoe and Mrs. Adding respectively; Mrs. Adding's, from
the postmarks, seemed to have been following them about for some time.
"They're all right at home," he said. "Do see what those people have been
"I believe," she said, taking a knife from the breakfast tray beside her
bed to cut the envelopes, "that you've really cared more about them all
along than I have."
"No, I've only been anxious to be done with them."
She got the letters open, and holding one of them up in each hand she
read them impartially and simultaneously; then she flung them both down,
and turned her face into her pillow with an impulse of her inalienable
girlishness. "Well, it is too silly."
March felt authorized to take them up and read them consecutively; when
he had done, so he did not differ from his wife. In one case, Agatha had
written to her dear Mrs. March that she and Burnamy had just that evening
become engaged; Mrs. Adding, on her part owned a farther step, and
announced her marriage to Mr. Kenby. Following immemorial usage in such
matters Kenby had added a postscript affirming his happiness in unsparing
terms, and in Agatha's letter there was an avowal of like effect from
Burnamy. Agatha hinted her belief that her father would soon come to
regard Burnamy as she did; and Mrs. Adding professed a certain
humiliation in having realized that, after all her misgiving about him,
Rose seemed rather relieved than otherwise, as if he were glad to have
her off his hands.
"Well," said March, "with these troublesome affairs settled, I don't see
what there is to keep us in Europe any longer, unless it's the consensus
of opinion in Tom, Bella, and Fulkerson, that we ought to stay the
"Stay the winter!" Mrs. March rose from her pillow, and clutched the home
letters to her from the abeyance in which they had fallen on the coverlet
while she was dealing with the others. "What do you mean?"
"It seems to have been prompted by a hint you let drop, which Tom has
passed to Bella and Fulkerson."
"Oh, but that was before we left Carlsbad!" she protested, while she
devoured the letters with her eyes, and continued to denounce the
absurdity of the writers. Her son and daughter both urged that now their
father and mother were over there, they had better stay as long as they
enjoyed it, and that they certainly ought not to come home without going
to Italy, where they had first met, and revisiting the places which they
had seen together when they were young engaged people: without that their
silver wedding journey would not be complete. Her son said that
everything was going well with 'Every Other Week', and both himself and
Mr. Fulkerson thought his father ought to spend the winter in Italy, and
get a thorough rest. "Make a job of it, March," Fulkerson wrote, "and
have a Sabbatical year while you're at it. You may not get another."
"Well, I can tell them," said Mrs. March indignantly, "we shall not do
anything of the kind."
"Then you didn't mean it?"
"Mean it!" She stopped herself with a look at her husband, and asked
gently, "Do you want to stay?"
"Well, I don't know," he answered vaguely. The fact was, he was sick of
travel and of leisure; he was longing to be at home and at work again.
But if there was to be any self-sacrifice which could be had, as it were,
at a bargain; which could be fairly divided between them, and leave him
the self and her the sacrifice, he was too experienced a husband not to
see the advantage of it, or to refuse the merit. "I thought you wished to
"Yes," she sighed, "I did. It has been very, very pleasant, and, if
anything, I have over-enjoyed myself. We have gone romping through it
like two young people, haven't we?"
"You have," he assented. "I have always felt the weight of my years in
getting the baggage registered; they have made the baggage weigh more
"And I've forgotten mine. Yes, I have. But the years haven't forgotten
me, Basil, and now I remember them. I'm tired. It doesn't seem as if I
could ever get up. But I dare say it's only a mood; it may be only a
cold; and if you wish to stay, why—we will think it over."
"No, we won't, my dear," he said, with a generous shame for his hypocrisy
if not with a pure generosity. "I've got all the good out of it that
there was in it, for me, and I shouldn't go home any better six months
hence than I should now. Italy will keep for another time, and so, for
the matter of that, will Holland."
"No, no!" she interposed. "We won't give up Holland, whatever we do. I
couldn't go home feeling that I had kept you out of your after-cure; and
when we get there, no doubt the sea air will bring me up so that I shall
want to go to Italy, too, again. Though it seems so far off, now! But go
and see when the afternoon train for the Hague leaves, and I shall be
ready. My mind's quite made up on that point."
"What a bundle of energy!" said her husband laughing down at her.
He went and asked about the train to the Hague, but only to satisfy a
superficial conscience; for now he knew that they were both of one mind
about going home. He also looked up the trains for London, and found that
they could get there by way of Ostend in fourteen hours. Then he went
back to the banker's, and with the help of the Paris-New York Chronicle
which he found there, he got the sailings of the first steamers home.
After that he strolled about the streets for a last impression of
Dusseldorf, but it was rather blurred by the constantly recurring pull of
his thoughts toward America, and he ended by turning abruptly at a
certain corner, and going to his hotel.
He found his wife dressed, but fallen again on her bed, beside which her
breakfast stood still untasted; her smile responded wanly to his
brightness. "I'm not well, my dear," she said. "I don't believe I could
get off to the Hague this afternoon."
"Could you to Liverpool?" he returned.
"To Liverpool?" she gasped. "What do you mean?"
"Merely that the Cupania is sailing on the twentieth, and I've
telegraphed to know if we can get a room. I'm afraid it won't be a good
one, but she's the first boat out, and—"
"No, indeed, we won't go to Liverpool, and we will never go home till
you've had your after-cure in Holland." She was very firm in this, but
she added, "We will stay another night, here, and go to the Hague
tomorrow. Sit down, and let us talk it over. Where were we?"
She lay down on the sofa, and he put a shawl over her. "We were just
starting for Liverpool."
"No, no we weren't! Don't say such things, dearest! I want you to help me
sum it all, up. You think it's been a success, don't you?"
"As a cure?"
"No, as a silver wedding journey?"
"I do think we've had a good time. I never expected to enjoy myself so
much again in the world. I didn't suppose I should ever take so much
interest in anything. It shows that when we choose to get out of our rut
we shall always find life as fresh and delightful as ever. There is
nothing to prevent our coming any year, now that Tom's shown himself so
capable, and having another silver wedding journey. I don't like to think
of it's being confined to Germany quite."
"Oh, I don't know. We can always talk of it as our German-Silver Wedding
"That's true. But nobody would understand nowadays what you meant by
German-silver; it's perfectly gone out. How ugly it was! A sort of greasy
yellowish stuff, always getting worn through; I believe it was made worn
through. Aunt Mary had a castor of it, that I can remember when I was a
child; it went into the kitchen long before I grew up. Would a joke like
that console you for the loss of Italy?"
"It would go far to do it. And as a German-Silver Wedding Journey, it's
certainly been very complete."
"What do you mean?"
"It's given us a representative variety of German cities. First we had
Hamburg, you know, a great modern commercial centre."
"Yes! Go on!"
"Then we had Leipsic, the academic."
"Then Carlsbad, the supreme type of a German health resort; then
Nuremberg, the mediaeval; then Anspach, the extinct princely capital;
then Wurzburg, the ecclesiastical rococo; then Weimar, for the literature
of a great epoch; then imperial Berlin; then Frankfort, the memory of the
old free city; then Dusseldorf, the centre of the most poignant personal
interest in the world—I don't see how we could have done better, if we'd
planned it all, and not acted from successive impulses."
"It's been grand; it's been perfect! As German-Silver Wedding Journey
it's perfect—it seems as if it had been ordered! But I will never let
you give up Holland! No, we will go this afternoon, and when I get to
Schevleningen, I'll go to bed, and stay there, till you've completed your
"Do you think that will be wildly gay for the convalescent?"
She suddenly began to cry. "Oh, dearest, what shall we do? I feel
perfectly broken down. I'm afraid I'm going to be sick—and away from
home! How could you ever let me overdo, so?" She put her handkerchief to
her eyes, and turned her face into the sofa pillow.
This was rather hard upon him, whom her vivid energy and inextinguishable
interest had not permitted a moment's respite from pleasure since they
left Carlsbad. But he had been married, too long not to understand that
her blame of him was only a form of self-reproach for her own
self-forgetfulness. She had not remembered that she was no longer young
till she had come to what he saw was a nervous collapse. The fact had its
pathos and its poetry which no one could have felt more keenly than he.
If it also had its inconvenience and its danger he realized these too.
"Isabel," he said, "we are going home."
"Very well, then it will be your doing."
"Quite. Do you think you could stand it as far as Cologne? We get the
sleeping-car there, and you can lie down the rest of the way to Ostend."
"This afternoon? Why I'm perfectly strong; it's merely my nerves that are
gone." She sat up, and wiped her eyes. "But Basil! If you're doing this
"I'm doing it for myself," said March, as he went out of the room.
She stood the journey perfectly well, and in the passage to Dover she
suffered so little from the rough weather that she was an example to many
robust matrons who filled the ladies' cabin with the noise of their
anguish during the night. She would have insisted upon taking the first
train up to London, if March had not represented that this would not
expedite the sailing of the Cupania, and that she might as well stay the
forenoon at the convenient railway hotel, and rest. It was not quite his
ideal of repose that the first people they saw in the coffee-room when
they went to breakfast should be Kenby and Rose Adding, who were having
their tea and toast and eggs together in the greatest apparent
good-fellowship. He saw his wife shrink back involuntarily from the
encounter, but this was only to gather force for it; and the next moment
she was upon them in all the joy of the surprise. Then March allowed
himself to be as glad as the others both seemed, and he shook hands with
Kenby while his wife kissed Rose; and they all talked at once. In the
confusion of tongues it was presently intelligible that Mrs. Kenby was
going to be down in a few minutes; and Kenby took March into his
confidence with a smile which was, almost a wink in explaining that he
knew how it was with the ladies. He said that Rose and he usually got
down to breakfast first, and when he had listened inattentively to Mrs.
March's apology for being on her way home, he told her that she was lucky
not to have gone to Schevleningen, where she and March would have frozen
to death. He said that they were going to spend September at a little
place on the English coast, near by, where he had been the day before
with Rose to look at lodgings, and where you could bathe all through the
month. He was not surprised that the Marches were going home, and said,
Well, that was their original plan, wasn't it?
Mrs. Kenby, appearing upon this, pretended to know better, after the
outburst of joyful greeting with the Marches; and intelligently reminded
Kenby that he knew the Marches had intended to pass the winter in Paris.
She was looking extremely pretty, but she wished only to make them see
how well Rose was looking, and she put her arm round his shoulders as she
spoke, Schevleningen had done wonders for him, but it was fearfully cold
there, and now they were expecting everything from Westgate, where she
advised March to come, too, for his after-cure: she recollected in time
to say, She forgot they were on their way home. She added that she did
not know when she should return; she was merely a passenger, now; she
left everything to the men of the family. She had, in fact, the air of
having thrown off every responsibility, but in supremacy, not submission.
She was always ordering Kenby about; she sent him for her handkerchief,
and her rings which she had left either in the tray of her trunk, or on
the pin-cushion, or on the wash-stand or somewhere, and forbade him to
come back without them. He asked for her keys, and then with a joyful
scream she owned that she had left the door-key in the door and the whole
bunch of trunk-keys in her trunk; and Kenby treated it all as the
greatest joke; Rose, too, seemed to think that Kenby would make
everything come right, and he had lost that look of anxiety which he used
to have; at the most he showed a friendly sympathy for Kenby, for whose
sake he seemed mortified at her. He was unable to regard his mother as
the delightful joke which she appeared to Kenby, but that was merely
temperamental; and he was never distressed except when she behaved with
unreasonable caprice at Kenby's cost.
As for Kenby himself he betrayed no dissatisfaction with his fate to
March. He perhaps no longer regarded his wife as that strong character
which he had sometimes wearied March by celebrating; but she was still
the most brilliant intelligence, and her charm seemed only to have grown
with his perception of its wilful limitations. He did not want to talk
about her so much; he wanted rather to talk about Rose, his health, his
education, his nature, and what was best to do for him. The two were on
terms of a confidence and affection which perpetually amused Mrs. Kenby,
but which left the sympathetic witness nothing to desire in their
They all came to the train when the Marches started up to London, and
stood waving to them as they pulled out of the station. "Well, I can't
see but that's all right," he said as he sank back in his seat with a
sigh of relief. "I never supposed we should get out of their marriage
half so well, and I don't feel that you quite made the match either, my
She was forced to agree with him that the Kenbys seemed happy together,
and that there was nothing to fear for Rose in their happiness. He would
be as tenderly cared for by Kenby as he could have been by his mother,
and far more judiciously. She owned that she had trembled for him till
she had seen them all together; and now she should never tremble again.
"Well?" March prompted, at a certain inconclusiveness in her tone rather
than her words.
"Well, you can see that it, isn't ideal."
"Why isn't it ideal? I suppose you think that the marriage of Burnamy and
Agatha Triscoe will be ideal, with their ignorances and inexperiences and
"Yes! It's the illusions: no marriage can be perfect without them, and at
their age the Kenbys can't have them."
"Kenby is a solid mass of illusion. And I believe that people can go and
get as many new illusions as they want, whenever they've lost their old
"Yes, but the new illusions won't wear so well; and in marriage you want
illusions that will last. No; you needn't talk to me. It's all very well,
but it isn't ideal."
March laughed. "Ideal! What is ideal?"
"Going home!" she said with such passion that he had not the heart to
point out that they were merely returning to their old duties, cares and
pains, with the worn-out illusion that these would be altogether
different when they took them up again.
In fulfilment of another ideal Mrs. March took straightway to her berth
when she got on board the Cupania, and to her husband's admiration she
remained there till the day before they reached New York. Her theory was
that the complete rest would do more than anything else to calm her
shaken nerves; and she did not admit into her calculations the chances of
adverse weather which March would not suggest as probable in the last
week in September. The event justified her unconscious faith. The ship's
run was of unparalled swiftness, even for the Cupania, and of unparalled
smoothness. For days the sea was as sleek as oil; the racks were never on
the tables once; the voyage was of the sort which those who make it no
more believe in at the time than those whom they afterwards weary in
boasting of it.
The ship was very full, but Mrs. March did not show the slightest
curiosity to know who her fellow-passengers were. She said that she
wished to be let perfectly alone, even by her own emotions, and for this
reason she forbade March to bring her a list of the passengers till after
they had left Queenstown lest it should be too exciting. He did not take
the trouble to look it up, therefore; and the first night out he saw no
one whom he knew at dinner; but the next morning at breakfast he found
himself to his great satisfaction at the same table with the Eltwins.
They were so much at ease with him that even Mrs. Eltwin took part in the
talk, and told him how they had spent the time of her husband's rigorous
after-cure in Switzerland, and now he was going home much better than
they had expected. She said they had rather thought of spending the
winter in Europe, but had given it up because they were both a little
homesick. March confessed that this was exactly the case with his wife
and himself; and he had to add that Mrs. March was not very well
otherwise, and he should be glad to be at home on her account. The
recurrence of the word home seemed to deepen Eltwin's habitual gloom, and
Mrs. Eltwin hastened to leave the subject of their return for inquiry
into Mrs. March's condition; her interest did not so far overcome her
shyness that she ventured to propose a visit to her; and March found that
the fact of the Eltwins' presence on board did not agitate his wife. It
seemed rather to comfort her, and she said she hoped he would see all he
could of the poor old things. She asked if he had met any one else he
knew, and he was able to tell her that there seemed to be a good many
swells on board, and this cheered her very much, though he did not know
them; she liked to be near the rose, though it was not a flower that she
really cared for.
She did not ask who the swells were, and March took no trouble to find
out. He took no trouble to get a passenger-list, and he had the more
trouble when he tried at last; the lists seemed to have all vanished, as
they have a habit of doing, after the first day; the one that he made
interest for with the head steward was a second-hand copy, and had no one
he knew in it but the Eltwins. The social solitude, however, was rather
favorable to certain other impressions. There seemed even more elderly
people than there were on the Norumbia; the human atmosphere was gray and
sober; there was nothing of the gay expansion of the outward voyage;
there was little talking or laughing among those autumnal men who were
going seriously and anxiously home, with faces fiercely set for the
coming grapple; or necks meekly bowed for the yoke. They had eaten their
cake, and it had been good, but there remained a discomfort in the
digestion. They sat about in silence, and March fancied that the flown
summer was as dreamlike to each of them as it now was to him. He hated to
be of their dreary company, but spiritually he knew that he was of it;
and he vainly turned to cheer himself with the younger passengers. Some
matrons who went about clad in furs amused him, for they must have been
unpleasantly warm in their jackets and boas; nothing but the hope of
being able to tell the customs inspector with a good conscience that the
things had been worn, would have sustained one lady draped from head to
foot in Astrakhan.
They were all getting themselves ready for the fray or the play of the
coming winter; but there seemed nothing joyous in the preparation. There
were many young girls, as there always are everywhere, but there were not
many young men, and such as there were kept to the smoking-room. There
was no sign of flirtation among them; he would have given much for a
moment of the pivotal girl, to see whether she could have brightened
those gloomy surfaces with her impartial lamp. March wished that he could
have brought some report from the outer world to cheer his wife, as he
descended to their state-room. They had taken what they could get at the
eleventh hour, and they had got no such ideal room as they had in the
Norumbia. It was, as Mrs. March graphically said, a basement room. It was
on the north side of the ship, which is a cold exposure, and if there had
been any sun it could not have got into their window, which was half the
time under water. The green waves, laced with foam, hissed as they ran
across the port; and the electric fan in the corridor moaned like the
wind in a gable.
He felt a sinking of the heart as he pushed the state-room door open, and
looked at his wife lying with her face turned to the wall; and he was
going to withdraw, thinking her asleep, when she said quietly, "Are we
"Not that I know of," he answered with a gayety he did not feel. "But
I'll ask the head steward."
She put out her hand behind her for him to take, and clutched his fingers
convulsively. "If I'm never any better, you will always remember this
happy, summer, won't you? Oh, it's been such a happy summer! It has been
one long joy, one continued triumph! But it was too late; we were too
old; and it's broken me."
The time had been when he would have attempted comfort; when he would
have tried mocking; but that time was long past; he could only pray
inwardly for some sort of diversion, but what it was to be in their
barren circumstance he was obliged to leave altogether to Providence. He
ventured, pending an answer to his prayers upon the question, "Don't you
think I'd better see the doctor, and get you some sort of tonic?"
She suddenly turned and faced him. "The doctor! Why, I'm not sick, Basil!
If you can see the purser and get our rooms changed, or do something to
stop those waves from slapping against that horrible blinking one-eyed
window, you can save my life; but no tonic is going to help me."
She turned her face from him again, and buried it in the bedclothes,
while he looked desperately at the racing waves, and the port that seemed
to open and shut like a weary eye.
"Oh, go away!" she implored. "I shall be better presently, but if you
stand there like that—Go and see if you can't get some other room, where
I needn't feel as if I were drowning, all the way over."
He obeyed, so far as to go away at once, and having once started, he did
not stop short of the purser's office. He made an excuse of getting
greenbacks for some English bank-notes, and then he said casually that he
supposed there would be no chance of having his room on the lower deck
changed for something a little less intimate with the sea. The purser was
not there to take the humorous view, but he conceived that March wanted
something higher up, and he was able to offer him a room of those on the
promenade where he had seen swells going in and out, for six hundred
dollars. March did not blench, but said he would get his wife to look at
it with him, and then he went out somewhat dizzily to take counsel with
himself how he should put the matter to her. She would be sure to ask
what the price of the new room would be, and he debated whether to take
it and tell her some kindly lie about it, or trust to the bracing effect
of the sum named in helping restore the lost balance of her nerves. He
was not so rich that he could throw six hundred dollars away, but there
might be worse things; and he walked up and down thinking. All at once it
flashed upon him that he had better see the doctor, anyway, and find out
whether there were not some last hope in medicine before he took the
desperate step before him. He turned in half his course, and ran into a
lady who had just emerged from the door of the promenade laden with
wraps, and who dropped them all and clutched him to save herself from
"Why, Mr. March!" she shrieked.
"Miss Triscoe!" he returned, in the astonishment which he shared with her
to the extent of letting the shawls he had knocked from her hold lie
between them till she began to pick them up herself. Then he joined her
and in the relief of their common occupation they contrived to possess
each other of the reason of their presence on, the same boat. She had
sorrowed over Mrs. March's sad state, and he had grieved to hear that her
father was going home because he was not at all well, before they found
the general stretched out in his steamer-chair, and waiting with a grim
impatience for his daughter.
"But how is it you're not in the passenger-list?" he inquired of them
both, and Miss Triscoe explained that they had taken their passage at the
last moment, too late, she supposed, to get into the list. They were in
London, and had run down to Liverpool on the chance of getting berths.
Beyond this she was not definite, and there was an absence of Burnamy not
only from her company but from her conversation which mystified March
through all his selfish preoccupations with his wife. She was a girl who
had her reserves, but for a girl who had so lately and rapturously
written them of her engagement, there was a silence concerning her
betrothed that had almost positive quality. With his longing to try Miss
Triscoe upon Mrs. March's malady as a remedial agent, he had now the
desire to try Mrs. March upon Miss Triscoe's mystery as a solvent. She
stood talking to him, and refusing to sit down and be wrapped up in the
chair next her father. She said that if he were going to ask Mrs. March
to let her come to her, it would not be worth while to sit down; and he
"Did you get it?" asked his wife, without looking round, but not so
apathetically as before.
"Oh, yes. That's all right. But now, Isabel, there's something I've got
to tell you. You'd find it out, and you'd better know it at once."
She turned her face, and asked sternly, "What is it?"
Then he said, with, an almost equal severity, "Miss Triscoe is on board.
Miss Triscoe-and-her-father. She wishes to come down and see you."
Mrs. March sat up and began to twist her hair into shape. "And Burnamy?"
"There is no Burnamy physically, or so far as I can make out,
spiritually. She didn't mention him, and I talked at least five minutes
"Hand me my dressing-sack," said Mrs. March, "and poke those things on
the sofa under the berth. Shut up that wash-stand, and pull the curtain
across that hideous window. Stop! Throw those towels into your berth. Put
my shoes, and your slippers into the shoe-bag on the door. Slip the
brushes into that other bag. Beat the dent out of the sofa cushion that
your head has made. Now!"
"Then—then you will see her?"
Her voice was so terrible that he fled before it, and he returned with
Miss Triscoe in a dreamlike simultaneity. He remembered, as he led the
way into his corridor, to apologize for bringing her down into a basement
"Oh, we're in the basement, too; it was all we could get," she said in
words that ended within the state-room he opened to her. Then he went
back and took her chair and wraps beside her father.
He let the general himself lead the way up to his health, which he was
not slow in reaching, and was not quick in leaving. He reminded March of
the state he had seen him in at Wurzburg, and he said it had gone from
bad to worse with him. At Weimar he had taken to his bed and merely
escaped from it with his life. Then they had tried Schevleningen for a
week, where, he said in a tone of some injury, they had rather thought
they might find them, the Marches. The air had been poison to him, and
they had come over to England with some notion of Bournemouth; but the
doctor in London had thought not, and urged their going home. "All Europe
is damp, you know, and dark as a pocket in winter," he ended.
There had been nothing about Burnamy, and March decided that he must wait
to see his wife if he wished to know anything, when the general, who had
been silent, twisted his head towards him, and said without regard to the
context, "It was complicated, at Weimar, by that young man in the most
devilish way. Did my daughter write to Mrs. March about—Well it came to
nothing, after all; and I don't understand how, to this day. I doubt if
they do. It was some sort of quarrel, I suppose. I wasn't consulted in
the matter either way. It appears that parents are not consulted in these
trifling affairs, nowadays." He had married his daughter's mother in open
defiance of her father; but in the glare of his daughter's wilfulness
this fact had whitened into pious obedience. "I dare say I shall be told,
by-and-by, and shall be expected to approve of the result."
A fancy possessed March that by operation of temperamental laws General
Triscoe was no more satisfied with Burnamy's final rejection than with
his acceptance. If the engagement was ever to be renewed, it might be
another thing; but as it stood, March divined a certain favor for the
young man in the general's attitude. But the affair was altogether too
delicate for comment; the general's aristocratic frankness in dealing
with it might have gone farther if his knowledge had been greater; but in
any case March did not see how he could touch it. He could only say, He
had always liked Burnamy, himself.
He had his good qualities, the general owned. He did not profess to
understand the young men of our time; but certainly the fellow had the
instincts of a gentleman. He had nothing to say against him, unless in
that business with that man—what was his name?
"Stoller?" March prompted. "I don't excuse him in that, but I don't blame
him so much, either. If punishment means atonement, he had the
opportunity of making that right very suddenly, and if pardon means
expunction, then I don't see why that offence hasn't been pretty well
"Those things are not so simple as they used to seem," said the general,
with a seriousness beyond his wont in things that did not immediately
concern his own comfort or advantage.
In the mean time Mrs. March and Miss Triscoe were discussing another
offence of Burnamy's.
"It wasn't," said the girl, excitedly, after a plunge through all the
minor facts to the heart of the matter, "that he hadn't a perfect right
to do it, if he thought I didn't care for him. I had refused him at
Carlsbad, and I had forbidden him to speak to me about—on the subject.
But that was merely temporary, and he ought to have known it. He ought to
have known that I couldn't accept him, on the spur of the moment, that
way; and when he had come back, after going away in disgrace, before he
had done anything to justify himself. I couldn't have kept my
self-respect; and as it was I had the greatest difficulty; and he ought
to have seen it. Of course he said afterwards that he didn't see it. But
when—when I found out that SHE had been in Weimar, and all that time,
while I had been suffering in Carlsbad and Wurzburg, and longing to see
him—let him know how I was really feeling—he was flirting with
that—that girl, then I saw that he was a false nature, and I determined
to put an end to everything. And that is what I did; and I shall always
think I—did right—and—"
The rest was lost in Agatha's handkerchief, which she put up to her eyes.
Mrs. March watched her from her pillow keeping the girl's unoccupied hand
in her own, and softly pressing it till the storm was past sufficiently
to allow her to be heard.
Then she said, "Men are very strange—the best of them. And from the very
fact that he was disappointed, he would be all the more apt to rush into
a flirtation with somebody else."
Miss Triscoe took down her handkerchief from a face that had certainly
not been beautified by grief. "I didn't blame him for the flirting; or
not so much. It was his keeping it from me afterwards. He ought to have
told me the very first instant we were engaged. But he didn't. He let it
go on, and if I hadn't happened on that bouquet I might never have known
anything about it. That is what I mean by—a false nature. I wouldn't
have minded his deceiving me; but to let me deceive myself—Oh, it was
Agatha hid her face in her handkerchief again. She was perching on the
edge of the berth, and Mrs. March said, with a glance, which she did not
see, toward the sofa, "I'm afraid that's rather a hard seat for you.
"Oh, no, thank you! I'm perfectly comfortable—I like it—if you don't
Mrs. March pressed her hand for answer, and after another little delay,
sighed and said, "They are not like us, and we cannot help it. They are
"How do you mean?" Agatha unmasked again.
"They can bear to keep things better than we can, and they trust to time
to bring them right, or to come right of themselves."
"I don't think Mr. March would trust things to come right of themselves!"
said Agatha in indignant accusal of Mrs. March's sincerity.
"Ah, that's just what he would do, my dear, and has done, all along; and
I don't believe we could have lived through without it: we should have
quarrelled ourselves into the grave!"
"Yes, indeed. I don't mean that he would ever deceive me. But he would
let things go on, and hope that somehow they would come right without any
"Do you mean that he would let anybody deceive themselves?"
"I'm afraid he would—if he thought it would come right. It used to be a
terrible trial to me; and it is yet, at times when I don't remember that
he means nothing but good and kindness by it. Only the other day in
Ansbach—how long ago it seems!—he let a poor old woman give him her
son's address in Jersey City, and allowed her to believe he would look
him up when we got back and tell him we had seen her. I don't believe,
unless I keep right round after him, as we say in New England, that he'll
ever go near the man."
Agatha looked daunted, but she said, "That is a very different thing."
"It isn't a different kind of thing. And it shows what men are,—the
sweetest and best of them, that is. They are terribly apt to
"Then you think I was all wrong?" the girl asked in a tremor.
"No, indeed! You were right, because you really expected perfection of
him. You expected the ideal. And that's what makes all the trouble, in
married life: we expect too much of each other—we each expect more of
the other than we are willing to give or can give. If I had to begin over
again, I should not expect anything at all, and then I should be sure of
being radiantly happy. But all this talking and all this writing about
love seems to turn our brains; we know that men are not perfect, even at
our craziest, because women are not, but we expect perfection of them;
and they seem to expect it of us, poor things! If we could keep on after
we are in love just as we were before we were in love, and take nice
things as favors and surprises, as we did in the beginning! But we get
more and more greedy and exacting—"
"Do you think I was too exacting in wanting him to tell me everything
after we were engaged?"
"No, I don't say that. But suppose he had put it off till you were
married?" Agatha blushed a little, but not painfully, "Would it have been
so bad? Then you might have thought that his flirting up to the last
moment in his desperation was a very good joke. You would have understood
better just how it was, and it might even have made you fonder of him.
You might have seen that he had flirted with some one else because he was
so heart-broken about you."
"Then you believe that if I could have waited till—till—but when I had
found out, don't you see I couldn't wait? It would have been all very
well if I hadn't known it till then. But as I did know it. Don't you
"Yes, that certainly complicated it," Mrs. March admitted. "But I don't
think, if he'd been a false nature, he'd have owned up as he did. You
see, he didn't try to deny it; and that's a great point gained."
"Yes, that is true," said Agatha, with conviction. "I saw that
afterwards. But you don't think, Mrs. March, that I was unjust or—or
"No, indeed! You couldn't have done differently under the circumstances.
You may be sure he felt that—he is so unselfish and generous—" Agatha
began to weep into her handkerchief again; Mrs. March caressed her hand.
"And it will certainly come right if you feel as you do."
"No," the girl protested. "He can never forgive me; it's all over,
everything is over. It would make very little difference to me, what
happened now—if the steamer broke her shaft, or anything. But if I can
only believe I wasn't unjust—"
Mrs. March assured her once more that she had behaved with absolute
impartiality; and she proved to her by a process of reasoning quite
irrefragable that it was only a question of time, with which place had
nothing to do, when she and Burnamy should come together again, and all
should be made right between them. The fact that she did not know where
he was, any more than Mrs. March herself, had nothing to do with the
result; that was a mere detail, which would settle itself. She clinched
her argument by confessing that her own engagement had been broken off,
and that it had simply renewed itself. All you had to do was to keep
willing it, and waiting. There was something very mysterious in it.
"And how long was it till—" Agatha faltered.
"Well, in our ease it was two years."
"Oh!" said the girl, but Mrs. March hastened to reassure her.
"But our case was very peculiar. I could see afterwards that it needn't
have been two months, if I had been willing to acknowledge at once that I
was in the wrong. I waited till we met."
"If I felt that I was in the wrong, I should write," said Agatha. "I
shouldn't care what he thought of my doing it."
"Yes, the great thing is to make sure that you were wrong."
They remained talking so long, that March and the general had exhausted
all the topics of common interest, and had even gone through those they
did not care for. At last the general said, "I'm afraid my daughter will
tire Mrs. March."
"Oh, I don't think she'll tire my wife. But do you want her?"
"Well, when you're going down."
"I think I'll take a turn about the deck, and start my circulation," said
March, and he did so before he went below.
He found his wife up and dressed, and waiting provisionally on the sofa.
"I thought I might as well go to lunch," she said, and then she told him
about Agatha and Burnamy, and the means she had employed to comfort and
encourage the girl. "And now, dearest, I want you to find out where
Burnamy is, and give him a hint. You will, won't you! If you could have
seen how unhappy she was!"
"I don't think I should have cared, and I'm certainly not going to
meddle. I think Burnamy has got no more than he deserved, and that he's
well rid of her. I can't imagine a broken engagement that would more
completely meet my approval. As the case stands, they have my blessing."
"Don't say that, dearest! You know you don't mean it."
"I do; and I advise you to keep your hands off. You've done all and more
than you ought to propitiate Miss Triscoe. You've offered yourself up,
and you've offered me up—"
"No, no, Basil! I merely used you as an illustration of what men
were—the best of them."
"And I can't observe," he continued, "that any one else has been
considered in the matter. Is Miss Triscoe the sole sufferer by Burnamy's
flirtation? What is the matter with a little compassion for the pivotal
"Now, you know you're not serious," said his wife; and though he would
not admit this, he could not be seriously sorry for the new interest
which she took in the affair. There was no longer any question of
changing their state-room. Under the tonic influence of the excitement
she did not go back to her berth after lunch, and she was up later after
dinner than he could have advised. She was absorbed in Agatha, but in her
liberation from her hypochondria, she began also to make a comparative
study of the American swells, in the light of her late experience with
the German highhotes. It is true that none of the swells gave her the
opportunity of examining them at close range, as the highhotes had done.
They kept to their, state-rooms mostly, where, after he thought she could
bear it, March told her how near he had come to making her their equal by
an outlay of six hundred dollars. She now shuddered at the thought; but
she contended that in their magnificent exclusiveness they could give
points to European princes; and that this showed again how when Americans
did try to do a thing, they beat the world. Agatha Triscoe knew who they
were, but she did not know them; they belonged to another kind of set;
she spoke of them as "rich people," and she seemed content to keep away
from them with Mrs. March and with the shy, silent old wife of Major
Eltwin, to whom March sometimes found her talking.
He never found her father talking with Major Eltwin. General Triscoe had
his own friends in the smoking-room, where he held forth in a certain
corner on the chances of the approaching election in New York, and mocked
their incredulity when he prophesied the success of Tammany and the
return of the King. March himself much preferred Major Eltwin to the
general and his friends; he lived back in the talk of the Ohioan into his
own younger years in Indiana, and he was amused and touched to find how
much the mid-Western life seemed still the same as he had known. The
conditions had changed, but not so much as they had changed in the East
and the farther West. The picture that the major drew of them in his own
region was alluring; it made March homesick; though he knew that he
should never go back to his native section. There was the comfort of kind
in the major; and he had a vein of philosophy, spare but sweet, which
March liked; he liked also the meekness which had come through sorrow
upon a spirit which had once been proud.
They had both the elderly man's habit of early rising, and they usually
found themselves together waiting impatiently for the cup of coffee,
ingenuously bad, which they served on the Cupania not earlier than half
past six, in strict observance of a rule of the line discouraging to
people of their habits. March admired the vileness of the decoction,
which he said could not be got anywhere out of the British Empire, and he
asked Eltwin the first morning if he had noticed how instantly on the
Channel boat they had dropped to it and to the sour, heavy, sodden
British bread, from the spirited and airy Continental tradition of coffee
The major confessed that he was no great hand to notice such things, and
he said he supposed that if the line had never lost a passenger, and got
you to New York in six days it had a right to feed you as it pleased; he
surmised that if they could get their airing outside before they took
their coffee, it would give the coffee a chance to taste better; and this
was what they afterwards did. They met, well buttoned and well mined up,
on the promenade when it was yet so early that they were not at once sure
of each other in the twilight, and watched the morning planets pale east
and west before the sun rose. Sometimes there were no paling planets and
no rising sun, and a black sea, ridged with white, tossed under a low
dark sky with dim rifts.
One morning, they saw the sun rise with a serenity and majesty which it
rarely has outside of the theatre. The dawn began over that sea which was
like the rumpled canvas imitations of the sea on the stage, under long
mauve clouds bathed in solemn light. Above these, in the pale tender sky,
two silver stars hung, and the steamer's smoke drifted across them like a
thin dusky veil. To the right a bank of dun cloud began to burn crimson,
and to burn brighter till it was like a low hill-side full of gorgeous
rugosities fleeced with a dense dwarfish growth of autumnal shrubs. The
whole eastern heaven softened and flushed through diaphanous mists; the
west remained a livid mystery. The eastern masses and flakes of cloud
began to kindle keenly; but the stars shone clearly, and then one star,
till the tawny pink hid it. All the zenith reddened, but still the sun
did not show except in the color of the brilliant clouds. At last the
lurid horizon began to burn like a flame-shot smoke, and a fiercely
bright disc edge pierced its level, and swiftly defined itself as the
Many thoughts went through March's mind; some of them were sad, but in
some there was a touch of hopefulness. It might have been that beauty
which consoled him for his years; somehow he felt himself, if no longer
young, a part of the young immortal frame of things. His state was
indefinable, but he longed to hint at it to his companion.
"Yes," said Eltwin, with a long deep sigh. "I feel as if I could walk out
through that brightness and find her. I reckon that such hopes wouldn't
be allowed to lie to us; that so many ages of men couldn't have fooled
themselves so. I'm glad I've seen this." He was silent and they both
remained watching the rising sun till they could not bear its splendor.
"Now," said the major, "it must be time for that mud, as you call it."
Over their coffee and crackers at the end of the table which they had to
themselves, he resumed. "I was thinking all the time—we seem to think
half a dozen things at once, and this was one of them—about a piece of
business I've got to settle when I reach home; and perhaps you can advise
me about it; you're an editor. I've got a newspaper on my hands; I reckon
it would be a pretty good thing, if it had a chance; but I don't know
what to do with it: I got it in trade with a fellow who has to go West
for his lungs, but he's staying till I get back. What's become of that
young chap—what's his name?—that went out with us?"
"Burnamy?" prompted March, rather breathlessly.
"Yes. Couldn't he take hold of it? I rather liked him. He's smart, isn't
"Very," said March. "But I don't know where he is. I don't know that he
would go into the country—. But he might, if—"
They entered provisionally into the case, and for argument's sake
supposed that Burnamy would take hold of the major's paper if he could be
got at. It really looked to March like a good chance for him, on Eltwin's
showing; but he was not confident of Burnamy's turning up very soon, and
he gave the major a pretty clear notion why, by entering into the young
fellow's history for the last three months.
"Isn't it the very irony of fate?" he said to his wife when he found her
in their room with a cup of the same mud he had been drinking, and
reported the facts to her.
"Irony?" she said, with all the excitement he could have imagined or
desired. "Nothing of the kind. It's a leading, if ever there was one. It
will be the easiest thing in the world to find Burnamy. And out there she
can sit on her steps!"
He slowly groped his way to her meaning, through the hypothesis of
Burnamy's reconciliation and marriage with Agatha Triscoe, and their
settlement in Major Eltwin's town under social conditions that implied a
habit of spending the summer evenings on their front porch. While he was
doing this she showered him with questions and conjectures and
requisitions in which nothing but the impossibility of going ashore saved
him from the instant devotion of all his energies to a world-wide,
inquiry into Burnamy's whereabouts.
The next morning he was up before Major Eltwin got out, and found the
second-cabin passengers free of the first-cabin promenade at an hour when
their superiors were not using it. As he watched these inferiors,
decent-looking, well-clad men and women, enjoying their privilege with a
furtive air, and with stolen glances at him, he asked himself in what
sort he was their superior, till the inquiry grew painful. Then he rose
from his chair, and made his way to the place where the material barrier
between them was lifted, and interested himself in a few of them who
seemed too proud to avail themselves of his society on the terms made. A
figure seized his attention with a sudden fascination of conjecture and
rejection: the figure of a tall young man who came out on the promenade
and without looking round, walked swiftly away to the bow of the ship,
and stood there, looking down at the water in an attitude which was
bewilderingly familiar. His movement, his posture, his dress, even, was
that of Burnamy, and March, after a first flush of pleasure, felt a
sickening repulsion in the notion of his presence. It would have been
such a cheap performance on the part of life, which has all sorts of
chances at command, and need not descend to the poor tricks of
second-rate fiction; and he accused Burnamy of a complicity in the bad
taste of the affair, though he realized, when he reflected, that if it
were really Burnamy he must have sailed in as much unconsciousness of the
Triscoes as he himself had done. He had probably got out of money and had
hurried home while he had still enough to pay the second-cabin fare on
the first boat back. Clearly he was not to blame, but life was to blame
for such a shabby device; and March felt this so keenly that he wished to
turn from the situation, and have nothing to do with it. He kept moving
toward him, drawn by the fatal attraction, and at a few paces' distance
the young man whirled about and showed him the face of a stranger.
March made some witless remark on the rapid course of the ship as it cut
its way through the water of the bow; the stranger answered with a strong
Lancashire accent; and in the talk which followed, he said he was going
out to see the cotton-mills at Fall River and New Bedford, and he seemed
hopeful of some advice or information from March; then he said he must go
and try to get his Missus out; March understood him to mean his wife, and
he hurried down to his own, to whom he related his hair-breadth escape
"I don't call it an escape at all!" she declared. "I call it the greatest
possible misfortune. If it had been Burnamy we could have brought them
together at once, just when she has seen so clearly that she was in the
wrong, and is feeling all broken up. There wouldn't have been any
difficulty about his being in the second-cabin. We could have contrived
to have them meet somehow. If the worst came to the worst you could have
lent him money to pay the difference, and got him into the first-cabin."
"I could have taken that six-hundred-dollar room for him," said March,
"and then he could have eaten with the swells."
She answered that now he was teasing; that he was fundamentally incapable
of taking anything seriously; and in the end he retired before the
stewardess bringing her first coffee, with a well-merited feeling that if
it had not been for his triviality the young Lancashireman would really
have been Burnamy.
Except for the first day and night out from Queenstown, when the ship
rolled and pitched with straining and squeaking noises, and a thumping of
the lifted screws, there was no rough weather, and at last the ocean was
livid and oily, with a long swell, on which she swayed with no
perceptible motion save from her machinery.
Most of the seamanship seemed to be done after dark, or in those early
hours when March found the stewards cleaning the stairs, and the sailors
scouring the promenades. He made little acquaintance with his
fellow-passengers. One morning he almost spoke with an old Quaker lady
whom he joined in looking at the Niagara flood which poured from the
churning screws; but he did not quite get the words out. On the contrary
he talked freely with an American who, bred horses on a farm near
Boulogne, and was going home to the Horse Show; he had been thirty-five
years out of the country, but he had preserved his Yankee accent in all
its purity, and was the most typical-looking American on board. Now and
then March walked up and down with a blond Mexican whom he found of the
usual well-ordered Latin intelligence, but rather flavorless; at times he
sat beside a nice Jew, who talked agreeably, but only about business; and
he philosophized the race as so tiresome often because it seemed so often
without philosophy. He made desperate attempts at times to interest
himself in the pool-selling in the smoking-room where the betting on the
ship's wonderful run was continual.
He thought that people talked less and less as they drew nearer home; but
on the last day out there was a sudden expansion, and some whom he had
not spoken with voluntarily addressed him. The sweet, soft air was like
midsummer the water rippled gently, without a swell, blue under the clear
sky, and the ship left a wide track that was silver in the sun. There
were more sail; the first and second class baggage was got up and piled
along the steerage deck.
Some people dressed a little more than usual for the last dinner which
was earlier than usual, so as to be out of the way against the arrival
which had been variously predicted at from five to seven-thirty. An
indescribable nervousness culminated with the appearance of the customs
officers on board, who spread their papers on cleared spaces of the
dining-tables, and summoned the passengers to declare that they had
nothing to declare, as a preliminary to being searched like thieves at
This ceremony proceeded while the Cupania made her way up the Narrows,
and into the North River, where the flare of lights from the crazy steeps
and cliffs of architecture on the New York shore seemed a persistence of
the last Fourth of July pyrotechnics. March blushed for the grotesque
splendor of the spectacle, and was confounded to find some Englishmen
admiring it, till he remembered that aesthetics were not the strong point
of our race. His wife sat hand in hand with Miss Triscoe, and from time
to time made him count the pieces of small baggage in the keeping of
their steward; while General Triscoe held aloof in a sarcastic calm.
The steamer groped into her dock; the gangways were lifted to her side;
the passengers fumbled and stumbled down their incline, and at the bottom
the Marches found themselves respectively in the arms of their son and
daughter. They all began talking at once, and ignoring and trying to
remember the Triscoes to whom the young Marches were presented. Bella did
her best to be polite to Agatha, and Tom offered to get an inspector for
the general at the same time as for his father. Then March, remorsefully
remembered the Eltwins, and looked about for them, so that his son might
get them an inspector too. He found the major already in the hands of an
inspector, who was passing all his pieces after carelessly looking into
one: the official who received the declarations on board had noted a
Grand Army button like his own in the major's lapel, and had marked his
fellow-veteran's paper with the mystic sign which procures for the bearer
the honor of being promptly treated as a smuggler, while the less favored
have to wait longer for this indignity at the hands of their government.
When March's own inspector came he was as civil and lenient as our
hateful law allows; when he had finished March tried to put a bank-note
in his hand, and was brought to a just shame by his refusal of it. The
bed-room steward keeping guard over the baggage helped put-it together
after the search, and protested that March had feed him so handsomely
that he would stay there with it as long as they wished. This partly
restored March's self-respect, and he could share in General Triscoe's
indignation with the Treasury ruling which obliged him to pay duty on his
own purchases in excess of the hundred-dollar limit, though his daughter
had brought nothing, and they jointly came far within the limit for two.
He found that the Triscoes were going to a quiet old hotel on the way to
Stuyvesant Square, quite in his own neighborhood, and he quickly arranged
for all the ladies and the general to drive together while he was to
follow with his son on foot and by car. They got away from the scene of
the customs' havoc while the steamer shed, with its vast darkness dimly
lit by its many lamps, still showed like a battle-field where the
inspectors groped among the scattered baggage like details from the
victorious army searching for the wounded. His son clapped him on the
shoulder when he suggested this notion, and said he was the same old
father; and they got home as gayly together as the dispiriting influences
of the New York ugliness would permit. It was still in those good and
decent times, now so remote, when the city got something for the money
paid out to keep its streets clean, and those they passed through were
not foul but merely mean.
The ignoble effect culminated when they came into Broadway, and found its
sidewalks, at an hour when those of any European metropolis would have
been brilliant with life, as unpeopled as those of a minor country town,
while long processions of cable-cars carted heaps of men and women up and
down the thoroughfare amidst the deformities of the architecture.
The next morning the March family breakfasted late after an evening
prolonged beyond midnight in spite of half-hourly agreements that now
they must really all go to bed. The children had both to recognize again
and again how well their parents were looking; Tom had to tell his father
about the condition of 'Every Other Week'; Bella had to explain to her
mother how sorry her husband was that he could not come on to meet them
with her, but was coming a week later to take her home, and then she
would know the reason why they could not all, go back to Chicago with
him: it was just the place for her father to live, for everybody to live.
At breakfast she renewed the reasoning with which she had maintained her
position the night before; the travellers entered into a full expression
of their joy at being home again; March asked what had become of that
stray parrot which they had left in the tree-top the morning they
started; and Mrs. March declared that this was the last Silver Wedding
Journey she ever wished to take, and tried to convince them all that she
had been on the verge of nervous collapse when she reached the ship. They
sat at table till she discovered that it was very nearly eleven o'clock,
and said it was disgraceful.
Before they rose, there was a ring at the door, and a card was brought in
to Tom. He glanced at it, and said to his father, "Oh, yes! This man has
been haunting the office for the last three days. He's got to leave
to-day, and as it seemed to be rather a case of life and death with him,
I said he'd probably find you here this morning. But if you don't want to
see him, I can put him off till afternoon, I suppose."
He tossed the card to his father, who looked at it quietly, and then gave
it to his wife. "Perhaps I'd as well see him?"
"See him!" she returned in accents in which all the intensity of her soul
was centred. By an effort of self-control which no words can convey a
just sense of she remained with her children, while her husband with a
laugh more teasing than can be imagined went into the drawing-room to
The poor fellow was in an effect of belated summer as to clothes, and he
looked not merely haggard but shabby. He made an effort for dignity as
well as gayety, however, in stating himself to March, with many apologies
for his persistency. But, he said, he was on his way West, and he was
anxious to know whether there was any chance of his 'Kasper Hauler' paper
being taken if he finished it up. March would have been a far
harder-hearted editor than he was, if he could have discouraged the
suppliant before him. He said he would take the Kasper Hauler paper and
add a band of music to the usual rate of ten dollars a thousand words.
Then Burnamy's dignity gave way, if not his gayety; he began to laugh,
and suddenly he broke down and confessed that he had come home in the
steerage; and was at his last cent, beyond his fare to Chicago. His straw
hat looked like a withered leaf in the light of his sad facts; his thin
overcoat affected March's imagination as something like the diaphanous
cast shell of a locust, hopelessly resumed for comfort at the approach of
autumn. He made Burnamy sit down, after he had once risen, and he told
him of Major Eltwin's wish to see him; and he promised to go round with
him to the major's hotel before the Eltwins left town that afternoon.
While he prolonged the interview in this way, Mrs. March was kept from
breaking in upon them only by the psychical experiment which she was
making with the help and sympathy of her daughter at the window of the
dining-room which looked up Sixteenth Street. At the first hint she gave
of the emotional situation which Burnamy was a main part of, her son;
with the brutal contempt of young men for other young men's love affairs,
said he must go to the office; he bade his mother tell his father there
was no need of his coming down that day, and he left the two women
together. This gave the mother a chance to develop the whole fact to the
daughter with telegrammic rapidity and brevity, and then to enrich the
first-outline with innumerable details, while they both remained at the
window, and Mrs. March said at two-minutely intervals, with no sense of
iteration for either of them, "I told her to come in the morning, if she
felt like it, and I know she will. But if she doesn't, I shall say there
is nothing in fate, or Providence either. At any rate I'm going to stay
here and keep longing for her, and we'll see whether there's anything in
that silly theory of your father's. I don't believe there is," she said,
to be on the safe side.
Even when she saw Agatha Triscoe enter the park gate on Rutherford Place,
she saved herself from disappointment by declaring that she was not
coming across to their house. As the girl persisted in coming and coming,
and at last came so near that she caught sight of Mrs. March at the
window and nodded, the mother turned ungratefully upon her daughter, and
drove her away to her own room, so that no society detail should hinder
the divine chance. She went to the door herself when Agatha rang, and
then she was going to open the way into the parlor where March was still
closeted with Burnamy, and pretend that she had not known they were
there. But a soberer second thought than this prevailed, and she told the
girl who it was that was within and explained the accident of his
presence. "I think," she said nobly, "that you ought to have the chance
of going away if you don't wish to meet him."
The girl, with that heroic precipitation which Mrs. March had noted in
her from the first with regard to what she wanted to do, when Burnamy was
in question, answered, "But I do wish to meet him, Mrs. March."
While they stood looking at each other, March came out to ask his wife if
she would see Burnamy, and she permitted herself so much stratagem as to
substitute Agatha, after catching her husband aside and subduing his
proposed greeting of the girl to a hasty handshake.
Half an hour later she thought it time to join the young people, urged
largely by the frantic interest of her daughter. But she returned from
the half-open door without entering. "I couldn't bring myself to break in
on the poor things. They are standing at the window together looking over
at St. George's."
Bella silently clasped her hands. March gave cynical laugh, and said,
"Well we are in for it, my dear." Then he added, "I hope they'll take us
with them on their Silver Wedding Journey."