THEIR SILVER WEDDING JOURNEY
By William Dean Howells
They found Burnamy expecting them at the station in Carlsbad, and she
scolded him like a mother for taking the trouble to meet them, while she
kept back for the present any sign of knowing that he had staid over a
day with the Triscoes in Leipsic. He was as affectionately glad to see
her and her husband as she could have wished, but she would have liked it
better if he had owned up at once about Leipsic. He did not, and it
seemed to her that he was holding her at arm's-length in his answers
about his employer. He would not say how he liked his work, or how he
liked Mr. Stoller; he merely said that they were at Pupp's together, and
that he had got in a good day's work already; and since he would say no
more, she contented herself with that.
The long drive from the station to the hotel was by streets that wound
down the hill-side like those of an Italian mountain town, between gay
stuccoed houses, of Southern rather than of Northern architecture; and
the impression of a Latin country was heightened at a turn of the road
which brought into view a colossal crucifix planted against a curtain of
dark green foliage on the brow of one of the wooded heights that
surrounded Carlsbad. When they reached the level of the Tepl, the
hill-fed torrent that brawls through the little city under pretty bridges
within walls of solid masonry, they found themselves in almost the only
vehicle on a brilliant promenade thronged with a cosmopolitan world.
Germans in every manner of misfit; Polish Jews in long black gabardines,
with tight corkscrew curls on their temples under their black velvet
derbys; Austrian officers in tight corsets; Greek priests in flowing
robes and brimless high hats; Russians in caftans and Cossacks in
Astrakhan caps, accented the more homogeneous masses of western
Europeans, in which it would have been hard to say which were English,
French or Italians. Among the vividly dressed ladies, some were
imaginably Parisian from their chic costumes, but they might easily have
been Hungarians or Levantines of taste; some Americans, who might have
passed unknown in the perfection of their dress, gave their nationality
away in the flat wooden tones of their voices, which made themselves
heard above the low hum of talk and the whisper of the innumerable feet.
The omnibus worked its way at a slow walk among the promenaders going and
coming between the rows of pollard locusts on one side and the bright
walls of the houses on the other. Under the trees were tables, served by
pretty bareheaded girls who ran to and from the restaurants across the
way. On both sides flashed and glittered the little shops full of silver,
glass, jewelry, terracotta figurines, wood-carvings, and all the idle
frippery of watering-place traffic: they suggested Paris, and they
suggested Saratoga, and then they were of Carlsbad and of no place else
in the world, as the crowd which might have been that of other cities at
certain moments could only have been of Carlsbad in its habitual effect.
"Do you like it?" asked Burnamy, as if he owned the place, and Mrs. March
saw how simple-hearted he was in his reticence, after all. She was ready
to bless him when they reached the hotel and found that his interest had
got them the only rooms left in the house. This satisfied in her the
passion for size which is at the bottom of every American heart, and
which perhaps above all else marks us the youngest of the peoples. We
pride ourselves on the bigness of our own things, but we are not
ungenerous, and when we go to Europe and find things bigger than ours, we
are magnanimously happy in them. Pupp's, in its altogether different way,
was larger than any hotel at Saratoga or at Niagara; and when Burnamy
told her that it sometimes fed fifteen thousand people a day in the
height of the season, she was personally proud of it.
She waited with him in the rotunda of the hotel, while the secretary led
March off to look at the rooms reserved for them, and Burnamy hospitably
turned the revolving octagonal case in the centre of the rotunda where
the names of the guests were put up. They were of all nations, but there
were so many New Yorkers whose names ended in berg, and thal, and stern,
and baum that she seemed to be gazing upon a cyclorama of the signs on
Broadway. A large man of unmistakable American make, but with so little
that was of New England or New York in his presence that she might not at
once have thought him American, lounged toward them with a quill
toothpick in the corner of his mouth. He had a jealous blue eye, into
which he seemed trying to put a friendly light; his straight mouth
stretched into an involuntary smile above his tawny chin-beard, and he
wore his soft hat so far back from his high forehead (it showed to the
crown when he took his hat off) that he had the effect of being
At his approach Burnamy turned, and with a flush said: "Oh! Let me
introduce Mr. Stoller, Mrs. March."
Stoller took his toothpick out of his mouth and bowed; then he seemed to
remember, and took off his hat. "You see Jews enough, here to make you
feel at home?" he asked; and he added: "Well, we got some of 'em in
Chicago, too, I guess. This young man"—he twisted his head toward
Burnamy—"found you easy enough?"
"It was very good of him to meet us," Mrs. March began. "We didn't
"Oh, that's all right," said Stoller, putting his toothpick back, and his
hat on. "We'd got through for the day; my doctor won't let me work all I
want to, here. Your husband's going to take the cure, they tell me. Well,
he wants to go to a good doctor, first. You can't go and drink these
waters hit or miss. I found that out before I came."
"Oh, no!" said Mrs. March, and she wished to explain how they had been
advised; but he said to Burnamy:
"I sha'n't want you again till ten to-morrow morning. Don't let me
interrupt you," he added patronizingly to Mrs. March. He put his hand up
toward his hat, and sauntered away out of the door.
Burnamy did not speak; and she only asked at last, to relieve the
silence, "Is Mr. Stoller an American?"
"Why, I suppose so," he answered, with an uneasy laugh. "His people were
German emigrants who settled in Southern Indiana. That makes him as much
American as any of us, doesn't it?"
Burnamy spoke with his mind on his French-Canadian grandfather, who had
come down through Detroit, when their name was Bonami; but Mrs. March
answered from her eight generations of New England ancestry. "Oh, for the
West, yes, perhaps," and they neither of them said anything more about
In their room, where she found March waiting for her amidst their
arriving baggage, she was so full of her pent-up opinions of Burnamy's
patron that she, would scarcely speak of the view from their windows of
the wooded hills up and down the Tepl. "Yes, yes; very nice, and I know I
shall enjoy it ever so much. But I don't know what you will think of that
poor young Burnamy!"
"Why, what's happened to him?"
"Happened? Stoller's happened."
"Oh, have you seen him, already? Well?"
"Well, if you had been going to pick out that type of man, you'd have
rejected him, because you'd have said he was too pat. He's like an actor
made up for a Western millionaire. Do you remember that American in
'L'Etranger' which Bernhardt did in Boston when she first came? He, looks
exactly like that, and he has the worst manners. He stood talking to me
with his hat on, and a toothpick in his mouth; and he made me feel as if
he had bought me, along with Burnamy, and had paid too much. If you don't
give him a setting down, Basil, I shall never speak to you; that's all.
I'm sure Burnamy is in some trouble with him; he's got some sort of hold
upon him; what it could be in such a short time, I can't imagine; but if
ever a man seemed to be, in a man's power, he does, in his!
"Now," said March, "your pronouns have got so far beyond me that I think
we'd better let it all go till after supper; perhaps I shall see Stoller
myself by that time."
She had been deeply stirred by her encounter with Stoller, but she
entered with impartial intensity into the fact that the elevator at
Pupp's had the characteristic of always coming up and never going down
with passengers. It was locked into its closet with a solid door, and
there was no bell to summon it, or any place to take it except on the
ground-floor; but the stairs by which she could descend were abundant and
stately; and on one landing there was the lithograph of one of the
largest and ugliest hotels in New York; how ugly it was, she said she
should never have known if she had not seen it there.
The dining-room was divided into the grand saloon, where they supped amid
rococo sculptures and frescoes, and the glazed veranda opening by vast
windows on a spread of tables without, which were already filling up for
the evening concert. Around them at the different tables there were
groups of faces and figures fascinating in their strangeness, with that
distinction which abashes our American level in the presence of European
"How simple and unimpressive we are, Basil," she said, "beside all these
people! I used to feel it in Europe when I was young, and now I'm certain
that we must seem like two faded-in old village photographs. We don't
even look intellectual! I hope we look good."
"I know I do," said March. The waiter went for their supper, and they
joined in guessing the different nationalities in the room. A French
party was easy enough; a Spanish mother and daughter were not difficult,
though whether they were not South-American remained uncertain; two
elderly maiden ladies were unmistakably of central Massachusetts, and
were obviously of a book-club culture that had left no leaf unturned;
some Triestines gave themselves away by their Venetian accent; but a
large group at a farther table were unassignable in the strange language
which they clattered loudly together, with bursts of laughter. They were
a family party of old and young, they were having a good time, with a
freedom which she called baronial; the ladies wore white satin, or black
lace, but the men were in sack-coats; she chose to attribute them, for no
reason but their outlandishness, to Transylvania. March pretended to
prefer a table full of Germans, who were unmistakably bourgeois, and yet
of intellectual effect. He chose as his favorite a middle-aged man of
learned aspect, and they both decided to think of him as the Herr
Professor, but they did not imagine how perfectly the title fitted him
till he drew a long comb from his waistcoat pocket and combed his hair
and beard with it above the table.
The wine wrought with the Transylvanians, and they all jargoned together
at once, and laughed at the jokes passing among them. One old gentleman
had a peculiar fascination from the infantile innocence of his gums when
he threw his head back to laugh, and showed an upper jaw toothless except
for two incisors, standing guard over the chasm between. Suddenly he
choked, coughed to relieve himself, hawked, held his napkin up before
"Noblesse oblige," said March, with the tone of irony which he reserved
for his wife's preoccupations with aristocracies of all sorts. "I think I
prefer my Hair Professor, bourgeois, as he is."
The ladies attributively of central Massachusetts had risen from their
table, and were making for the door without having paid for their supper.
The head waiter ran after them; with a real delicacy for their mistake he
explained that though in most places the meals were charged in the bill,
it was the custom in Carlsbad to pay for them at the table; one could see
that he was making their error a pleasant adventure to them which they
could laugh over together, and write home about without a pang.
"And I," said Mrs. March, shamelessly abandoning the party of the
aristocracy, "prefer the manners of the lower classes."
"Oh, yes," he admitted. "The only manners we have at home are black ones.
But you mustn't lose courage. Perhaps the nobility are not always so
"I don't know whether we have manners at home," she said, "and I don't
believe I care. At least we have decencies."
"Don't be a jingo," said her husband.
Though Stoller had formally discharged Burnamy from duty for the day, he
was not so full of resources in himself, and he had not so general an
acquaintance in the hotel but he was glad to have the young fellow make
up to him in the reading-room, that night. He laid down a New York paper
ten days old in despair of having left any American news in it, and
pushed several continental Anglo-American papers aside with his elbow, as
he gave a contemptuous glance at the foreign journals, in Bohemian,
Hungarian, German, French, and Italian, which littered the large table.
"I wonder," he said, "how long it'll take'em, over here, to catch on to
our way of having pictures?"
Burnamy had come to his newspaper work since illustrated journalism was
established, and he had never had any shock from it at home, but so
sensitive is youth to environment that, after four days in Europe, the
New York paper Stoller had laid down was already hideous to him. From the
politic side of his nature, however, he temporized with Stoller's
preference. "I suppose it will be some time yet."
"I wish," said Stoller, with a savage disregard of expressed sequences
and relevancies, "I could ha' got some pictures to send home with that
letter this afternoon: something to show how they do things here, and be
a kind of object-lesson." This term had come up in a recent campaign when
some employers, by shutting down their works, were showing their
employees what would happen if the employees voted their political
opinions into effect, and Stoller had then mastered its meaning and was
fond of using it. "I'd like 'em to see the woods around here, that the
city owns, and the springs, and the donkey-carts, and the theatre, and
everything, and give 'em some practical ideas."
Burnamy made an uneasy movement.
"I'd 'a' liked to put 'em alongside of some of our improvements, and show
how a town can be carried on when it's managed on business principles."
"Why didn't you think of it?"
"Really, I don't know," said Burnamy, with a touch of impatience.
They had not met the evening before on the best of terms. Stoller had
expected Burnamy twenty-four hours earlier, and had shown his displeasure
with him for loitering a day at Leipsic which he might have spent at
Carlsbad; and Burnamy had been unsatisfactory in accounting for the
delay. But he had taken hold so promptly and so intelligently that by
working far into the night, and through the whole forenoon, he had got
Stoller's crude mass of notes into shape, and had sent off in time for
the first steamer the letter which was to appear over the proprietor's
name in his paper. It was a sort of rough but very full study of the
Carlsbad city government, the methods of taxation, the municipal
ownership of the springs and the lands, and the public control in
everything. It condemned the aristocratic constitution of the
municipality, but it charged heavily in favor of the purity, beneficence,
and wisdom of the administration, under which there was no poverty and no
idleness, and which was managed like any large business.
Stoller had sulkily recurred to his displeasure, once or twice, and
Burnamy suffered it submissively until now. But now, at the change in
Burnamy's tone, he changed his manner a little.
"Seen your friends since supper?" he asked.
"Only a moment. They are rather tired, and they've gone to bed."
That the fellow that edits that book you write for?"
"Yes; he owns it, too."
The notion of any sort of ownership moved Stoller's respect, and he asked
more deferentially, "Makin' a good thing out of it?"
"A living, I suppose. Some of the high-class weeklies feel the
competition of the ten-cent monthlies. But 'Every Other Week' is about
the best thing we've got in the literary way, and I guess it's holding
"Have to, to let the editor come to Carlsbad," Stoller said, with a
return to the sourness of his earlier mood. "I don't know as I care much
for his looks; I seen him when he came in with you. No snap to him." He
clicked shut the penknife he had been paring his nails with, and started
up with the abruptness which marked all his motions, mental and physical;
as he walked heavily out of the room he said, without looking at Burnamy,
"You want to be ready by half past ten at the latest."
Stoller's father and mother were poor emigrants who made their way to the
West with the instinct for sordid prosperity native to their race and
class; and they set up a small butcher shop in the little Indiana town
where their son was born, and throve in it from the start. He could
remember his mother helping his father make the sausage and head-cheese
and pickle the pigs' feet, which they took turns in selling at as great a
price as they could extort from the townspeople. She was a good and
tender mother, and when her little Yawcup, as the boys called Jacob in
mimicry after her, had grown to the school-going age, she taught him to
fight the Americans, who stoned him when he came out of his gate, and
mobbed his home-coming; and mocked and tormented him at play-time till
they wore themselves into a kindlier mind toward him through the
exhaustion of their invention. No one, so far as the gloomy, stocky,
rather dense little boy could make out, ever interfered in his behalf;
and he grew up in bitter shame for his German origin, which entailed upon
him the hard fate of being Dutch among the Americans. He hated his native
speech so much that he cried when he was forced to use it with his father
and mother at home; he furiously denied it with the boys who proposed to
parley with him in it on such terms as "Nix come arouce in de Dytchman's
house." He disused it so thoroughly that after his father took him out of
school, when he was old enough to help in the shop, he could not get back
to it. He regarded his father's business as part of his national
disgrace, and at the cost of leaving his home he broke away from it, and
informally apprenticed himself to the village blacksmith and wagon-maker.
When it came to his setting up for himself in the business he had chosen,
he had no help from his father, who had gone on adding dollar to dollar
till he was one of the richest men in the place.
Jacob prospered too; his old playmates, who had used him so cruelly, had
many of them come to like him; but as a Dutchman they never dreamt of
asking him to their houses when they were young people, any more than
when they were children. He was long deeply in love with an American girl
whom he had never spoken to, and the dream of his life was to marry an
American. He ended by marrying the daughter of Pferd the brewer, who had
been at an American school in Indianapolis, and had come home as
fragilely and nasally American as anybody. She made him a good, sickly,
fretful wife; and bore him five children, of whom two survived, with no
visible taint of their German origin.
In the mean time Jacob's father had died and left his money to his son,
with the understanding that he was to provide for his mother, who would
gladly have given every cent to him and been no burden to him, if she
could. He took her home, and cared tenderly for her as long as she lived;
and she meekly did her best to abolish herself in a household trying so
hard to be American. She could not help her native accent, but she kept
silence when her son's wife had company; and when her eldest
granddaughter began very early to have American callers, she went out of
the room; they would not have noticed her if she had staid.
Before this Jacob had come forward publicly in proportion to his
financial importance in the community. He first commended himself to the
Better Element by crushing out a strike in his Buggy Works, which were
now the largest business interest of the place; and he rose on a wave of
municipal reform to such a height of favor with the respectable classes
that he was elected on a citizens' ticket to the Legislature. In the
reaction which followed he was barely defeated for Congress, and was
talked of as a dark horse who might be put up for the governorship some
day; but those who knew him best predicted that he would not get far in
politics, where his bull-headed business ways would bring him to ruin
sooner or later; they said, "You can't swing a bolt like you can a
When his mother died, he surprised his old neighbors by going to live in
Chicago, though he kept his works in the place where he and they had
grown up together. His wife died shortly after, and within four years he
lost his three eldest children; his son, it was said, had begun to go
wrong first. But the rumor of his increasing wealth drifted back from
Chicago; he was heard of in different enterprises and speculations; at
last it was said that he had bought a newspaper, and then his boyhood
friends decided that Jake was going into politics again.
In the wider horizons and opener atmosphere of the great city he came to
understand better that to be an American in all respects was not the
best. His mounting sense of importance began to be retroactive in the
direction of his ancestral home; he wrote back to the little town near
Wurzburg which his people had come from, and found that he had relatives
still living there, some of whom had become people of substance; and
about the time his health gave way from life-long gluttony, and he was
ordered to Carlsbad, he had pretty much made up his mind to take his
younger daughters and put them in school for a year or two in Wurzburg,
for a little discipline if not education. He had now left them there, to
learn the language, which he had forgotten with such heart-burning and
shame, and music, for which they had some taste.
The twins loudly lamented their fate, and they parted from their father
with open threats of running away; and in his heart he did not altogether
blame them. He came away from Wurzburg raging at the disrespect for his
money and his standing in business which had brought him a more galling
humiliation there than anything he had suffered in his boyhood at Des
Vaches. It intensified him in his dear-bought Americanism to the point of
wishing to commit lese majesty in the teeth of some local dignitaries who
had snubbed him, and who seemed to enjoy putting our eagle to shame in
his person; there was something like the bird of his step-country in
Stoller's pale eyes and huge beak.
March sat with a company of other patients in the anteroom of the doctor,
and when it came his turn to be prodded and kneaded, he was ashamed at
being told he was not so bad a case as he had dreaded. The doctor wrote
out a careful dietary for him, with a prescription of a certain number of
glasses of water at a certain spring and a certain number of baths, and a
rule for the walks he was to take before and after eating; then the
doctor patted him on the shoulder and pushed him caressingly out of his
inner office. It was too late to begin his treatment that day, but he
went with his wife to buy a cup, with a strap for hanging it over his
shoulder, and he put it on so as to be an invalid with the others at
once; he came near forgetting the small napkin of Turkish towelling which
they stuffed into their cups, but happily the shopman called him back in
time to sell it to him.
At five the next morning he rose, and on his way to the street exchanged
with the servants cleaning the hotel stairs the first of the gloomy
'Guten Morgens' which usher in the day at Carlsbad. They cannot be so
finally hopeless as they sound; they are probably expressive only of the
popular despair of getting through with them before night; but March
heard the salutations sorrowfully groaned out on every hand as he joined
the straggling current of invalids which swelled on the way past the
silent shops and cafes in the Alte Wiese, till it filled the street, and
poured its thousands upon the promenade before the classic colonnade of
the Muhlbrunn. On the other bank of the Tepl the Sprudel flings its
steaming waters by irregular impulses into the air under a pavilion of
iron and glass; but the Muhlbrunn is the source of most resort. There is
an instrumental concert somewhere in Carlsbad from early rising till
bedtime; and now at the Muhlbrunn there was an orchestra already playing;
and under the pillared porch, as well as before it, the multitude
shuffled up and down, draining their cups by slow sips, and then taking
each his place in the interminable line moving on to replenish them at
A picturesque majority of Polish Jews, whom some vice of their climate is
said peculiarly to fit for the healing effects of Carlsbad, most took his
eye in their long gabardines of rusty black and their derby hats of plush
or velvet, with their corkscrew curls coming down before their ears. They
were old and young, they were grizzled and red and black, but they seemed
all well-to-do; and what impresses one first and last at Carlsbad is that
its waters are mainly for the healing of the rich. After the Polish Jews,
the Greek priests of Russian race were the most striking figures. There
were types of Latin ecclesiastics, who were striking in their way too;
and the uniforms of certain Austrian officers and soldiers brightened the
picture. Here and there a southern face, Italian or Spanish or Levantine,
looked passionately out of the mass of dull German visages; for at
Carlsbad the Germans, more than any other gentile nation, are to the
fore. Their misfits, their absence of style, imparted the prevalent
effect; though now and then among the women a Hungarian, or Pole, or
Parisian, or American, relieved the eye which seeks beauty and grace
rather than the domestic virtues. There were certain faces, types of
discomfort and disease, which appealed from the beginning to the end. A
young Austrian, yellow as gold, and a livid South-American, were of a
lasting fascination to March.
What most troubled him, in his scrutiny of the crowd, was the difficulty
of assigning people to their respective nations, and he accused his years
of having dulled his perceptions; but perhaps it was from their long
disuse in his homogeneous American world. The Americans themselves fused
with the European races who were often so hard to make out; his
fellow-citizens would not be identified till their bad voices gave them
away; he thought the women's voices the worst.
At the springs, a line of young girls with a steady mechanical action
dipped the cups into the steaming source, and passed them impersonally up
to their owners. With the patients at the Muhlbrunn it was often a
half-hour before one's turn came, and at all a strict etiquette forbade
any attempt to anticipate it. The water was merely warm and flat, and
after the first repulsion one could forget it. March formed a childish
habit of counting ten between the sips, and of finishing the cup with a
gulp which ended it quickly; he varied his walks between cups by going
sometimes to a bridge at the end of the colonnade where a group of
Triestines were talking Venetian, and sometimes to the little Park beyond
the Kurhaus, where some old women were sweeping up from the close sward
the yellow leaves which the trees had untidily dropped overnight. He
liked to sit there and look at the city beyond the Tepl, where it climbed
the wooded heights in terraces till it lost its houses in the skirts and
folds of the forest. Most mornings it rained, quietly, absent-mindedly,
and this, with the chili in the air, deepened a pleasant illusion of
Quebec offered by the upper town across the stream; but there were sunny
mornings when the mountains shone softly through a lustrous mist, and the
air was almost warm.
Once in his walk he found himself the companion of Burnamy's employer,
whom he had sometimes noted in the line at the Muhlbrunn, waiting his
turn, cup in hand, with a face of sullen impatience. Stoller explained
that though you could have the water brought to you at your hotel, he
chose to go to the spring for the sake of the air; it was something you
had got to live through; before he had that young Burnamy to help him he
did not know what to do with his time, but now, every minute he was not
eating or sleeping he was working; his cure did not oblige him to walk
much. He examined March, with a certain mixture of respect and contempt,
upon the nature of the literary life, and how it differed from the life
of a journalist. He asked if he thought Burnamy would amount to anything
as a literary man; he so far assented to March's faith in him as to say,
"He's smart." He told of leaving his daughters in school at Wurzburg; and
upon the whole he moved March with a sense of his pathetic loneliness
without moving his liking, as he passed lumberingly on, dangling his cup.
March gave his own cup to the little maid at his spring, and while she
gave it to a second, who dipped it and handed it to a third for its
return to him, he heard an unmistakable fellow-countryman saying good-,
morning to them all in English. "Are you going to teach them United
States?" he asked of a face with which he knew such an appeal would not
"Well," the man admitted, "I try to teach them that much. They like it.
You are an American? I am glad of it. I have 'most lost the use of my
lungs, here. I'm a great talker, and I talk to my wife till she's about
dead; then I'm out of it for the rest of the day; I can't speak German."
His manner was the free, friendly manner of the West. He must be that
sort of untravelled American whom March had so seldom met, but he was
afraid to ask him if this was his first time at Carlsbad, lest it should
prove the third or fourth. "Are you taking the cure?" he asked instead.
"Oh, no. My wife is. She'll be along directly; I come down here and drink
the waters to encourage her; doctor said to. That gets me in for the
diet, too. I've e't more cooked fruit since I been here than I ever did
in my life before. Prunes? My Lord, I'm full o' prunes! Well, it does me
good to see an American, to know him. I couldn't 'a' told you, it you
hadn't have spoken."
"Well," said March, "I shouldn't have been so sure of you, either, by
"Yes, we can't always tell ourselves from these Dutch. But they know us,
and they don't want us, except just for one thing, and that's our money.
I tell you, the Americans are the chumps over here. Soon's they got all
our money, or think they have, they say, 'Here, you Americans, this is my
country; you get off;' and we got to get. Ever been over before?"
"A great while ago; so long that I can hardly believe it."
"It's my first time. My name's Otterson: I'm from out in Iowa."
March gave him his name, and added that he was from New York.
"Yes. I thought you was Eastern. But that wasn't an Eastern man you was
"No; he's from Chicago. He's a Mr. Stoller."
"Not the buggy man?"
"I believe he makes buggies."
"Well, you do meet everybody here." The Iowan was silent for a moment, as
if, hushed by the weighty thought. "I wish my wife could have seen him. I
just want her to see the man that made our buggy. I don't know what's
keeping her, this morning," he added, apologetically. "Look at that
fellow, will you, tryin' to get away from those women!" A young officer
was doing his best to take leave of two ladies, who seemed to be mother
and daughter; they detained him by their united arts, and clung to him
with caressing words and looks. He was red in the face with his polite
struggles when he broke from them at last. "How they do hang on to a man,
over here!" the Iowa man continued. "And the Americans are as bad as any.
Why, there's one ratty little Englishman up at our place, and our girls
just swarm after him; their mothers are worse. Well, it's so, Jenny," he
said to the lady who had joined them and whom March turned round to see
when he spoke to her. "If I wanted a foreigner I should go in for a man.
And these officers! Put their mustaches up at night in curl-papers, they
tell me. Introduce you to Mrs. Otterson, Mr. March. Well, had your first
glass, yet, Jenny? I'm just going for my second tumbler."
He took his wife back to the spring, and began to tell her about Stoller;
she made no sign of caring for him; and March felt inculpated. She
relented a little toward him as they drank together; when he said he must
be going to breakfast with his wife, she asked where he breakfasted, and
said, "Why, we go to the Posthof, too." He answered that then they should
be sure some time to meet there; he did not venture further; he reflected
that Mrs. March had her reluctances too; she distrusted people who had
amused or interested him before she met them.
Burnamy had found the Posthof for them, as he had found most of the other
agreeable things in Carlsbad, which he brought to their knowledge one by
one, with such forethought that March said he hoped he should be cared
for in his declining years as an editor rather than as a father; there
was no tenderness like a young contributor's.
Many people from the hotels on the hill found at Pupp's just the time and
space between their last cup of water and their first cup of coffee which
are prescribed at Carlsbad; but the Marches were aware somehow from the
beginning that Pupp's had not the hold upon the world at breakfast which
it had at the mid-day dinner, or at supper on the evenings when the
concert was there. Still it was amusing, and they were patient of
Burnamy's delay till he could get a morning off from Stoller and go with
them to the Posthof. He met Mrs. March in the reading-room, where March
was to join them on his way from the springs with his bag of bread. The
earlier usage of buying the delicate pink slices of Westphalia ham, which
form the chief motive of a Carlsbad breakfast, at a certain shop in the
town, and carrying them to the cafe with you, is no longer of such
binding force as the custom of getting your bread at the Swiss bakery.
You choose it yourself at the counter, which begins to be crowded by half
past seven, and when you have collected the prescribed loaves into the
basket of metallic filigree given you by one of the baker's maids, she
puts it into a tissue-paper bag of a gay red color, and you join the
other invalids streaming away from the bakery, their paper bags making a
festive rustling as they go.
Two roads lead out of the town into the lovely meadow-lands, a good mile
up the brawling Tepl, before they join on the right side of the torrent,
where the Posthof lurks nestled under trees whose boughs let the sun and
rain impartially through upon its army of little tables. By this time the
slow omnibus plying between Carlsbad and some villages in the valley
beyond has crossed from the left bank to the right, and keeps on past
half a dozen other cafes, where patients whose prescriptions marshal them
beyond the Posthof drop off by the dozens and scores.
The road on the left bank of the Tepl is wild and overhung at points with
wooded steeps, when it leaves the town; but on the right it is bordered
with shops and restaurants a great part of its length. In leafy nooks
between these, uphill walks begin their climb of the mountains, from the
foot of votive shrines set round with tablets commemorating in German,
French, Russian, Hebrew, Magyar and Czech, the cure of high-well-borns of
all those races and languages. Booths glittering with the lapidary's work
in the cheaper gems, or full of the ingenious figures of the toy-makers,
alternate with the shrines and the cafes on the way to the Posthof, and
with their shoulders against the overhanging cliff, spread for the
passing crowd a lure of Viennese jewelry in garnets, opals, amethysts,
and the like, and of such Bohemian playthings as carrot-eating rabbits,
worsted-working cats, dancing-bears, and peacocks that strut about the
feet of the passers and expand their iridescent tails in mimic pride.
Burnamy got his charges with difficulty by the shrines in which they felt
the far-reflected charm of the crucifixes of the white-hot Italian
highways of their early travel, and by the toyshops where they had a
mechanical, out-dated impulse to get something for the children, ending
in a pang for the fact that they were children no longer. He waited
politely while Mrs. March made up her mind that she would not buy any
laces of the motherly old women who showed them under pent-roofs on
way-side tables; and he waited patiently at the gate of the
flower-gardens beyond the shops where March bought lavishly of sweetpease
from the businesslike flower-woman, and feigned a grateful joy in her
because she knew no English, and gave him a chance of speaking his
"You'll find," he said, as they crossed the road again, "that it's well
to trifle a good deal; it makes the time pass. I should still be lagging
along in my thirties if it hadn't been for fooling, and here I am well on
in my fifties, and Mrs. March is younger than ever."
They were at the gate of the garden and grounds of the cafe at last, and
a turn of the path brought them to the prospect of its tables, under the
trees, between the two long glazed galleries where the breakfasters take
refuge at other tables when it rains; it rains nearly always, and the
trunks of the trees are as green with damp as if painted; but that
morning the sun was shining. At the verge of the open space a group of
pretty serving-maids, each with her name on a silver band pinned upon her
breast, met them and bade them a 'Guten Morgen' of almost cheerful note,
but gave way, to an eager little smiling blonde, who came pushing down
the path at sight of Burnamy, and claimed him for her own.
"Ah, Lili! We want an extra good table, this morning. These are some
American Excellencies, and you must do your best for them."
"Oh, yes," the girl answered in English, after a radiant salutation of
the Marches; "I get you one."
"You are a little more formerly, to-day, and I didn't had one already."
She ran among the tables along the edge of the western edge of the
gallery, and was far beyond hearing his protest that he was not earlier
than usual when she beckoned him to the table she had found. She had
crowded it in between two belonging to other girls, and by the time her
breakfasters came up she was ready for their order, with the pouting
pretence that the girls always tried to rob her of the best places.
Burnamy explained proudly, when she went, that none of the other girls
ever got an advantage of her; she had more custom than any three of them,
and she had hired a man to help her carry her orders. The girls were all
from the neighboring villages, he said, and they lived at home in the
winter on their summer tips; their wages were nothing, or less, for
sometimes they paid for their places.
"What a mass of information!" said March. "How did you come by it?"
"Newspaper habit of interviewing the universe."
"It's not a bad habit, if one doesn't carry it too far. How did Lili
learn her English?"
"She takes lessons in the winter. She's a perfect little electric motor.
I don't believe any Yankee girl could equal her."
"She would expect to marry a millionaire if she did. What astonishes one
over here is to see how contentedly people prosper along on their own
level. And the women do twice the work of the men without expecting to
equal them in any other way. At Pupp's, if we go to one end of the
out-door restaurant, it takes three men to wait on us: one to bring our
coffee or tea, another to bring our bread and meat, and another to make
out our bill, and I have to tip all three of them. If we go to the other
end, one girl serves us, and I have to give only one fee; I make it less
than the least I give any three of the men waiters."
"You ought to be ashamed of that," said his wife.
"I'm not. I'm simply proud of your sex, my dear."
"Women do nearly everything, here," said Burnamy, impartially. "They
built that big new Kaiserbad building: mixed the mortar, carried the
hods, and laid the stone."
"That makes me prouder of the sex than ever. But come, Mr. Burnamy! Isn't
there anybody of polite interest that you know of in this crowd?"
"Well, I can't say," Burnamy hesitated.
The breakfasters had been thronging into the grove and the galleries; the
tables were already filled, and men were bringing other tables on their
heads, and making places for them, with entreaties for pardon everywhere;
the proprietor was anxiously directing them; the pretty serving-girls
were running to and from the kitchen in a building apart with shrill,
sweet promises of haste. The morning sun fell broken through the leaves
on the gay hats and dresses of the ladies, and dappled the figures of the
men with harlequin patches of light and shade. A tall woman, with a sort
of sharpened beauty, and an artificial permanency of tint in her cheeks
and yellow hair, came trailing herself up the sun-shot path, and found,
with hardy insistence upon the publicity, places for the surly-looking,
down-faced young man behind her, and for her maid and her black poodle;
the dog was like the black poodle out of Faust. Burnamy had heard her
history; in fact, he had already roughed out a poem on it, which he
called Europa, not after the old fable, but because it seemed to him that
she expressed Europe, on one side of its civilization, and had an
authorized place in its order, as she would not have had in ours. She was
where she was by a toleration of certain social facts which corresponds
in Europe to our reverence for the vested interests. In her history
there, had been officers and bankers; even foreign dignitaries; now there
was this sullen young fellow . . . . Burnamy had wondered if it would do
to offer his poem to March, but the presence of the original abashed him,
and in his mind he had torn the poem up, with a heartache for its
"I don't believe," he said, "that I recognize-any celebrities here."
"I'm sorry," said March. "Mrs. March would have been glad of some
Hoheits, some Grafs and Grafins, or a few Excellenzes, or even some mere
well-borns. But we must try to get along with the picturesqueness."
"I'm satisfied with the picturesqueness," said his wife. "Don't worry
about me, Mr. Burnamy."
"Why can't we have this sort of thing at home?"
"We're getting something like it in the roof-gardens," said March. "We
couldn't have it naturally because the climate is against it, with us. At
this time in the morning over there, the sun would be burning the life
out of the air, and the flies would be swarming on every table. At nine
A. M. the mosquitoes would be eating us up in such a grove as this. So we
have to use artifice, and lift our Posthof above the fly-line and the
mosquito-line into the night air. I haven't seen a fly since I came to
Europe. I really miss them; it makes me homesick."
"There are plenty in Italy," his wife suggested.
"We must get down there before we go home."
"But why did nobody ever tell us that there were no flies in Germany? Why
did no traveller ever put it in his book? When your stewardess said so on
the steamer, I remember that you regarded it as a bluff." He turned to
Burnamy, who was listening with the deference of a contributor: "Isn't
Lili rather long? I mean for such a very prompt person. Oh, no!"
But Burnamy got to his feet, and shouted "Fraulein!" to Lili; with her
hireling at her heels she was flying down a distant aisle between the
tables. She called back, with a face laughing over her shoulder, "In a
minute!" and vanished in the crowd.
"Does that mean anything in particular? There's really no hurry."
"Oh, I think she'll come now," said Burnamy. March protested that he had
only been amused at Lili's delay; but his wife scolded him for his
impatience; she begged Burnamy's pardon, and repeated civilities passed
between them. She asked if he did not think some of the young ladies were
pretty beyond the European average; a very few had style; the mothers
were mostly fat, and not stylish; it was well not to regard the fathers
too closely; several old gentlemen were clearing their throats behind
their newspapers, with noises that made her quail. There was no one so
effective as the Austrian officers, who put themselves a good deal on
show, bowing from their hips to favored groups; with the sun glinting
from their eyeglasses, and their hands pressing their sword-hilts, they
moved between the tables with the gait of tight-laced women.
"They all wear corsets," Burnamy explained.
"How much you know already!" said Mrs. March. "I can see that Europe
won't be lost on you in anything. Oh, who's that?" A lady whose costume
expressed saris at every point glided up the middle aisle of the grove
with a graceful tilt. Burnamy was silent. "She must be an American. Do
you know who she is?"
"Yes." He hesitated, a little to name a woman whose tragedy had once
filled the newspapers.
Mrs. March gazed after her with the fascination which such tragedies
inspire. "What grace! Is she beautiful?"
"Very." Burnamy had not obtruded his knowledge, but somehow Mrs. March
did not like his knowing who she was, and how beautiful. She asked March
to look, but he refused.
"Those things are too squalid," he said, and she liked him for saying it;
she hoped it would not be lost upon Burnamy.
One of the waitresses tripped on the steps near them and flung the burden
off her tray on the stone floor before her; some of the dishes broke, and
the breakfast was lost. Tears came into the girl's eyes and rolled down
her hot cheeks. "There! That is what I call tragedy," said March. "She'll
have to pay for those things."
"Oh, give her the money, dearest!"
"How can I?"
The girl had just got away with the ruin when Lili and her hireling
behind her came bearing down upon them with their three substantial
breakfasts on two well-laden trays. She forestalled Burnamy's reproaches
for her delay, laughing and bridling, while she set down the dishes of
ham and tongue and egg, and the little pots of coffee and frothed milk.
"I could not so soon I wanted, because I was to serve an American
Mrs. March started with proud conjecture of one of those noble
international marriages which fill our women with vainglory for such of
their compatriots as make them.
"Oh, come now, Lili!" said Burnamy. "We have queens in America, but
nothing so low as princesses. This was a queen, wasn't it?"
She referred the case to her hireling, who confirmed her. "All people say
it is princess," she insisted.
"Well, if she's a princess we must look her up after breakfast," said
Burnamy. "Where is she sitting?"
She pointed at a corner so far off on the other side that no one could be
distinguished, and then was gone, with a smile flashed over her shoulder,
and her hireling trying to keep up with her.
"We're all very proud of Lili's having a hired man," said Burnamy. "We
think it reflects credit on her customers."
March had begun his breakfast with-the voracious appetite of an
early-rising invalid. "What coffee!"
He drew a long sigh after the first draught.
"It's said to be made of burnt figs," said Burnamy, from the
inexhaustible advantage of his few days' priority in Carlsbad.
"Then let's have burnt figs introduced at home as soon as possible. But
why burnt figs? That seems one of those doubts which are much more
difficult than faith."
"It's not only burnt figs," said Burnamy, with amiable superiority, "if it
is burnt figs, but it's made after a formula invented by a consensus of
physicians, and enforced by the municipality. Every cafe in Carlsbad
makes the same kind of coffee and charges the same price."
"You are leaving us very little to find out for ourselves," sighed March.
"Oh, I know a lot more things. Are you fond of fishing?"
"You can get a permit to catch trout in the Tepl, but they send an
official with you who keeps count, and when you have had your sport, the
trout belong to the municipality just as they did before you caught
"I don't see why that isn't a good notion: the last thing I should want
to do would be to eat a fish that I had caught, and that I was personally
acquainted with. Well, I'm never going away from Carlsbad. I don't wonder
people get their doctors to tell them to come back."
Burnamy told them a number of facts he said Stoller had got together
about the place, and had given him to put in shape. It was run in the
interest of people who had got out of order, so that they would keep
coming to get themselves in order again; you could hardly buy an
unwholesome meal in the town; all the cooking was 'kurgemass'. He won
such favor with his facts that he could not stop in time: he said to
March, "But if you ever should have a fancy for a fish of your personal
acquaintance, there's a restaurant up the Tepl, where they let you pick
out your trout in the water; then they catch him and broil him for you,
and you know what you are eating."
"Is it a municipal restaurant?"
"Semi-municipal," said Burnamy, laughing.
"We'll take Mrs. March," said her husband, and in her gravity Burnamy
felt the limitations of a woman's sense of humor, which always define
themselves for men so unexpectedly.
He did what he could to get back into her good graces by telling her what
he knew about distinctions and dignities that he now saw among the
breakfasters. The crowd had now grown denser till the tables were set
together in such labyrinths that any one who left the central aisle was
lost in them. The serving-girls ran more swiftly to and fro, responding
with a more nervous shrillness to the calls of "Fraulein! Fraulein!" that
followed them. The proprietor, in his bare head, stood like one paralyzed
by his prosperity, which sent up all round him the clash of knives and
crockery, and the confusion of tongues. It was more than an hour before
Burnamy caught Lili's eye, and three times she promised to come and be
paid before she came. Then she said, "It is so nice, when you stay a
little," and when he told her of the poor Fraulein who had broken the
dishes in her fall near them, she almost wept with tenderness; she almost
winked with wickedness when he asked if the American princess was still
in her place.
"Do go and see who it can be!" Mrs. March entreated. "We'll wait here,"
and he obeyed. "I am not sure that I like him," she said, as soon as he
was out of hearing. "I don't know but he's coarse, after all. Do you
approve of his knowing so many people's 'taches' already?"
"Would it be any better later?" he asked in tern. "He seemed to find you
"It's very different with us; we're not young," she urged, only half
Her husband laughed. "I see you want me to defend him. Oh, hello!" he
cried, and she saw Burnamy coming toward them with a young lady, who was
nodding to them from as far as she could see them. "This is the easy kind
of thing that makes you Blush for the author if you find it in a novel."
Mrs. March fairly took Miss Triscoe in her arms to kiss her. "Do you know
I felt it must be you, all the time! When did you come? Where is your
father? What hotel are you staying at?"
It appeared, while Miss Triscoe was shaking hands with March, that it was
last night, and her father was finishing his breakfast, and it was one of
the hotels on the hill. On the way back to her father it appeared that he
wished to consult March's doctor; not that there was anything the matter.
The general himself was not much softened by the reunion with his
fellow-Americans; he confided to them that his coffee was poisonous; but
he seemed, standing up with the Paris-New York Chronicle folded in his
hand, to have drunk it all. Was March going off on his forenoon tramp? He
believed that was part of the treatment, which was probably all humbug,
though he thought of trying it, now he was there. He was told the walks
were fine; he looked at Burnamy as if he had been praising them, and
Burnamy said he had been wondering if March would not like to try a
mountain path back to his hotel; he said, not so sincerely, that he
thought Mrs. March would like it.
"I shall like your account of it," she answered. "But I'll walk back on a
level, if you please."
"Oh, yes," Miss Triscoe pleaded, "come with us!"
She played a little comedy of meaning to go back with her father so
gracefully that Mrs. March herself could scarcely have told just where
the girl's real purpose of going with Burnamy began to be evident, or
just how she managed to make General Triscoe beg to have the pleasure of
seeing Mrs. March back to her hotel.
March went with the young people across the meadow behind the Posthof and
up into the forest, which began at the base of the mountain. At first
they tried to keep him in the range of their talk; but he fell behind
more and more, and as the talk narrowed to themselves it was less and
less possible to include him in it. When it began to concern their common
appreciation of the Marches, they even tried to get out of his hearing.
"They're so young in their thoughts," said Burnamy, "and they seem as
much interested in everything as they could have been thirty years ago.
They belong to a time when the world was a good deal fresher than it is
now; don't you think? I mean, in the eighteen-sixties."
"Oh, yes, I can see that."
"I don't know why we shouldn't be born older in each generation than
people were in the last. Perhaps we are," he suggested.
"I don't know how you mean," said the girl, keeping vigorously up with
him; she let him take the jacket she threw off, but she would not have
his hand at the little steeps where he wanted to give it.
"I don't believe I can quite make it out myself. But fancy a man that
began to act at twenty, quite unconsciously of course, from the past
experience of the whole race—"
"He would be rather a dreadful person, wouldn't he?"
"Rather monstrous, yes," he owned, with a laugh. "But that's where the
psychological interest would come in."
As if she did not feel the notion quite pleasant she turned from it. "I
suppose you've been writing all sorts of things since you came here."
"Well, it hasn't been such a great while as it's seemed, and I've had Mr.
Stoller's psychological interests to look after."
"Oh, yes! Do you like him?"
"I don't know. He's a lump of honest selfishness. He isn't bad. You know
where to have him. He's simple, too."
"You mean, like Mr. March?"
"I didn't mean that; but why not? They're not of the same generation, but
Stoller isn't modern."
"I'm very curious to see him," said the girl.
"Do you want me to introduce him?"
"You can introduce him to papa."
They stopped and looked across the curve of the mounting path, down on
March, who had sunk on a way-side seat, and was mopping his forehead. He
saw them, and called up: "Don't wait for me. I'll join you, gradually."
"I don't want to lose you," Burnamy called back, but he kept on with Miss
Triscoe. "I want to get the Hirschensprung in," he explained. "It's the
cliff where a hunted deer leaped down several hundred feet to get away
from an emperor who was after him."
"Oh, yes. They have them everywhere."
"Do they? Well, anyway, there's a noble view up there."
There was no view on the way up. The Germans' notion of a woodland is
everywhere that of a dense forest such as their barbarous tribes
primevally herded in. It means the close-set stems of trees, with their
tops interwoven in a roof of boughs and leaves so densely that you may
walk dry through it almost as long as a German shower lasts. When the sun
shines there is a pleasant greenish light in the aisles, shot here and
there with the gold that trickles through. There is nothing of the
accident of an American wood in these forests, which have been watched
and weeded by man ever since they burst the soil. They remain nurseries,
but they have the charm which no human care can alienate. The smell of
their bark and their leaves, and of the moist, flowerless earth about
their roots, came to March where he sat rich with the memories of his
country-bred youth, and drugged all consciousness of his long life in
cities since, and made him a part of nature, with dulled interests and
dimmed perspectives, so that for the moment he had the enjoyment of
exemption from care. There was no wild life to penetrate his isolation;
no birds, not a squirrel, not an insect; an old man who had bidden him
good-morning, as he came up, kept fumbling at the path with his hoe, and
was less intrusive than if he had not been there.
March thought of the impassioned existence of these young people playing
the inevitable comedy of hide and seek which the youth of the race has
played from the beginning of time. The other invalids who haunted the
forest, and passed up and down before him in fulfilment of their several
prescriptions, had a thin unreality in spite of the physical bulk that
prevailed among them, and they heightened the relief that the
forest-spirit brought him from the strenuous contact of that young drama.
He had been almost painfully aware that the persons in it had met,
however little they knew it, with an eagerness intensified by their brief
separation, and he fancied it was the girl who had unconsciously operated
their reunion in response to the young man's longing, her will making
itself electrically felt through space by that sort of wireless
telegraphy which love has long employed, and science has just begun to
He would have been willing that they should get home alone, but he knew
that his wife would require an account of them from him, and though he
could have invented something of the kind, if it came to the worst, he
was aware that it would not do for him to arrive without them. The
thought goaded him from his seat, and he joined the upward procession of
his fellow-sick, as it met another procession straggling downward; the
ways branched in all directions, with people on them everywhere, bent
upon building up in a month the health which they would spend the rest of
the year in demolishing.
He came upon his charges unexpectedly at a turn of the path, and Miss
Triscoe told him that he ought to have been with them for the view from
the Hirschensprung. It was magnificent, she said, and she made Burnamy
corroborate her praise of it, and agree with her that it was worth the
climb a thousand times; he modestly accepted the credit she appeared
willing to give him, of inventing the Hirschensprung.
Between his work for Stoller and what sometimes seemed the
obstructiveness of General Triscoe, Burnamy was not very much with Miss
Triscoe. He was not devout, but he went every Sunday to the pretty
English church on the hill, where he contributed beyond his means to the
support of the English clergy on the Continent, for the sake of looking
at her back hair during the service, and losing himself in the graceful
lines which defined, the girl's figure from the slant of her flowery hat
to the point where the pewtop crossed her elastic waist. One happy
morning the general did not come to church, and he had the fortune to
walk home with her to her pension, where she lingered with him a moment,
and almost made him believe she might be going to ask him to come in.
The next evening, when he was sauntering down the row of glittering shops
beside the Tepl, with Mrs. March, they overtook the general and his
daughter at a place where the girl was admiring some stork-scissors in
the window; she said she wished she were still little, so that she could
get them. They walked home with the Triscoes, and then he hurried Mrs.
March back to the shop. The man had already put up his shutters, and was
just closing his door, but Burnamy pushed in, and asked to look at the
stork-scissors they had seen in the window. The gas was out, and the
shopman lighted a very dim candle, to show them.
"I knew you wanted to get them for her, after what she said, Mrs. March,"
he laughed, nervously, "and you must let me lend you the money."
"Why, of course!" she answered, joyfully humoring his feint. "Shall I put
my card in for the man to send home to her with them?"
"Well—no. No. Not your card—exactly. Or, yes! Yes, you must, I
They made the hushing street gay with their laughter; the next evening
Miss Triscoe came upon the Marches and Burnamy where they sat after
supper listening to the concert at Pupp's, and thanked Mrs. March for the
scissors. Then she and Burnamy had their laugh again, and Miss Triscoe
joined them, to her father's frowning mystification. He stared round for
a table; they were all taken, and he could not refuse the interest
Burnamy made with the waiters to bring them one and crowd it in. He had
to ask him to sup with them, and Burnamy sat down and heard the concert
through beside Miss Triscoe.
"What is so tremendously amusing in a pair of stork-scissors?" March
demanded, when his wife and he were alone.
"Why, I was wanting to tell you, dearest," she began, in a tone which he
felt to be wheedling, and she told the story of the scissors.
"Look here, my dear! Didn't you promise to let this love-affair alone?"
"That was on the ship. And besides, what would you have done, I should
like to know? Would you have refused to let him buy them for her?" She
added, carelessly, "He wants us to go to the Kurhaus ball with him."
"Oh, does he!"
"Yes. He says he knows that she can get her father to let her go if we
will chaperon them. And I promised that you would."
"That I would?"
"It will do just as well if you go. And it will be very amusing; you can
see something of Carlsbad society."
"But I'm not going!" he declared. "It would interfere with my cure. The
sitting up late would be bad enough, but I should get very hungry, and I
should eat potato salad and sausages, and drink beer, and do all sorts of
"Nonsense! The refreshments will be 'kurgemass', of course."
"You can go yourself," he said.
A ball is not the same thing for a woman after fifty as it is before
twenty, but still it has claims upon the imagination, and the novel
circumstance of a ball in the Kurhaus in Carlsbad enhanced these for Mrs.
March. It was the annual reunion which is given by municipal authority in
the large hall above the bathrooms; it is frequented with safety and
pleasure by curious strangers, and now, upon reflection, it began to have
for Mrs. March the charm of duty; she believed that she could finally
have made March go in her place, but she felt that she ought really to go
in his, and save him from the late hours and the late supper.
"Very well, then," she said at last, "I will go."
It appeared that any civil person might go to the reunion who chose to
pay two florins and a half. There must have been some sort of
restriction, and the ladies of Burnamy's party went with a good deal of
amused curiosity to see what the distinctions were; but they saw none
unless it was the advantages which the military had. The long hall over
the bathrooms shaped itself into a space for the dancing at one end, and
all the rest of it was filled with tables, which at half past eight were
crowded with people, eating, drinking, and smoking. The military enjoyed
the monopoly of a table next the rail dividing the dancing from the
dining space. There the tight-laced Herr Hauptmanns and Herr Lieutenants
sat at their sausage and beer and cigars in the intervals of the waltzes,
and strengthened themselves for a foray among the gracious Fraus and
Frauleins on the benches lining three sides of the dancing-space. From
the gallery above many civilian spectators looked down upon the gayety,
and the dress-coats of a few citizens figured among the uniforms.
As the evening wore on some ladies of greater fashion found their way to
the dancing-floor, and toward ten o'clock it became rather crowded. A
party of American girls showed their Paris dresses in the transatlantic
versions of the waltz. At first they danced with the young men who came
with them; but after a while they yielded to the custom of the place, and
danced with any of the officers who asked them.
"I know it's the custom," said Mrs. March to Miss Triscoe, who was at her
side in one of the waltzes she had decided to sit out, so as not to be
dancing all the time with Burnamy, "but I never can like it without an
"No," said the girl, with the air of putting temptation decidedly away,
"I don't believe papa would, either."
A young officer came up, and drooped in mute supplication before her. She
glanced at Mrs. March, who turned her face away; and she excused herself
with the pretence that she had promised the dance, and by good fortune,
Burnamy, who had been unscrupulously waltzing with a lady he did not
know, came up at the moment. She rose and put her hand on his arm, and
they both bowed to the officer before they whirled away. The officer
looked after them with amiable admiration; then he turned to Mrs. March
with a light of banter in his friendly eyes, and was unmistakably asking
her to dance. She liked his ironical daring, she liked it so much that
she forgot her objection to partners without introductions; she forgot
her fifty-odd years; she forgot that she was a mother of grown children
and even a mother-in-law; she remembered only the step of her out-dated
It seemed to be modern enough for the cheerful young officer, and they
were suddenly revolving with the rest. . . A tide of long-forgotten
girlhood welled up in her heart, and she laughed as she floated off on it
past the astonished eyes of Miss Triscoe and Burnamy. She saw them
falter, as if they had lost their step in their astonishment; then they
seemed both to vanish, and her partner had released her, and was helping
Miss Triscoe up from the floor; Burnamy was brushing the dust from his
knees, and the citizen who had bowled them over was boisterously
apologizing and incessantly bowing.
"Oh, are you hurt?" Mrs. March implored. "I'm sure you must be killed;
and I did it! I don't know, what I was thinking of!"
The girl laughed. "I'm not hurt a bit!"
They had one impulse to escape from the place, and from the sympathy and
congratulation. In the dressing-room she declared again that she was all
right. "How beautifully you waltz, Mrs. March!" she said, and she laughed
again, and would not agree with her that she had been ridiculous. "But
I'm glad those American girls didn't see me. And I can't be too thankful
papa didn't come!"
Mrs. March's heart sank at the thought of what General Triscoe would
think of her. "You must tell him I did it. I can never lift up my head!"
"No, I shall not. No one did it," said the girl, magnanimously. She
looked down sidelong at her draperies. "I was so afraid I had torn my
dress! I certainly heard something rip."
It was one of the skirts of Burnamy's coat, which he had caught into his
hand and held in place till he could escape to the men's dressing-room,
where he had it pinned up so skillfully that the damage was not suspected
by the ladies. He had banged his knee abominably too; but they did not
suspect that either, as he limped home on the air beside them, first to
Miss Triscoe's pension, and then to Mrs. March's hotel.
It was quite eleven o'clock, which at Carlsbad is as late as three in the
morning anywhere else, when she let herself into her room. She decided
not to tell her husband, then; and even at breakfast, which they had at
the Posthof, she had not got to her confession, though she had told him
everything else about the ball, when the young officer with whom she had
danced passed between the tables near her. He caught her eye and bowed
with a smile of so much meaning that March asked, "Who's your pretty
"Oh, that!" she answered carelessly. "That was one of the officers at the
ball," and she laughed.
"You seem to be in the joke, too," he said. "What is it?"
"Oh, something. I'll tell you some time. Or perhaps you'll find out."
"I'm afraid you won't let me wait."
"No, I won't," and now she told him. She had expected teasing, ridicule,
sarcasm, anything but the psychological interest mixed with a sort of
retrospective tenderness which he showed. "I wish I could have seen you;
I always thought you danced well." He added: "It seems that you need a
The next morning, after March and General Triscoe had started off upon
one of the hill climbs, the young people made her go with them for a walk
up the Tepl, as far as the cafe of the Freundschaftsaal. In the grounds
an artist in silhouettes was cutting out the likenesses of people who
supposed themselves to have profiles, and they begged Mrs. March to sit
for hers. It was so good that she insisted on Miss Triscoe's sitting in
turn, and then Burnamy. Then he had the inspiration to propose that they
should all three sit together, and it appeared that such a group was
within the scope of the silhouettist's art; he posed them in his little
bower, and while he was mounting the picture they took turns, at five
kreutzers each, in listening to American tunes played by his Edison
Mrs. March felt that all this was weakening her moral fibre; but she
tried to draw the line at letting Burnamy keep the group. "Why not?" he
"You oughtn't to ask," she returned. "You've no business to have Miss
Triscoe's picture, if you must know."
"But you're there to chaperon us!" he persisted.
He began to laugh, and they all laughed when she said, "You need a
chaperon who doesn't lose her head, in a silhouette." But it seemed
useless to hold out after that, and she heard herself asking, "Shall we
let him keep it, Miss Triscoe?"
Burnamy went off to his work with Stoller, carrying the silhouette with
him, and she kept on with Miss Triscoe to her hotel. In turning from the
gate after she parted with the girl she found herself confronted with
Mrs. Adding and Rose. The ladies exclaimed at each other in an
astonishment from which they had to recover before they could begin to
talk, but from the first moment Mrs. March perceived that Mrs. Adding had
something to say. The more freely to say it she asked Mrs. March into her
hotel, which was in the same street with the pension of the Triscoes, and
she let her boy go off about the exploration of Carlsbad; he promised to
be back in an hour.
"Well, now what scrape are you in?" March asked when his wife came home,
and began to put off her things, with signs of excitement which he could
not fail to note. He was lying down after a long tramp, and he seemed
His question suggested something of anterior import, and she told him
about the silhouettes, and the advantage the young people had taken of
their power over her through their knowledge of her foolish behavior at
He said, lazily: "They seem to be working you for all you're worth. Is
"No; there is something worse. Something's happened which throws all that
quite in the shade. Mrs. Adding is here."
"Mrs. Adding?" he repeated, with a dimness for names which she would not
allow was growing on him.
"Don't be stupid, dear! Mrs. Adding, who sat opposite Mr. Kenby on the
Norumbia. The mother of the nice boy."
"Oh, yes! Well, that's good!"
"No, it isn't! Don't say such a thing—till you know!" she cried, with a
certain shrillness which warned him of an unfathomed seriousness in the
fact. He sat up as if better to confront the mystery. "I have been at her
hotel, and she has been telling me that she's just come from Berlin, and
that Mr. Kenby's been there, and—Now I won't have you making a joke of
it, or breaking out about it, as if it were not a thing to be looked for;
though of course with the others on our hands you're not to blame for not
thinking of it. But you can see yourself that she's young and
good-looking. She did speak beautifully of her son, and if it were not
for him, I don't believe she would hesitate—"
"For heaven's sake, what are you driving at?" March broke in, and she
answered him as vehemently:
"He's asked her to marry him!"
"Kenby? Mrs. Adding?"
"Well, now, Isabel, this won't do! They ought to be ashamed of
themselves. With that morbid, sensitive boy! It's shocking—"
"Will you listen? Or do you want me to stop?" He arrested himself at her
threat, and she resumed, after giving her contempt of his turbulence time
to sink in, "She refused him, of course!"
"Oh, all right, then!"
"You take it in such a way that I've a great mind not to tell you
anything more about it."
"I know you have," he said, stretching himself out again; "but you'll do
it, all the same. You'd have been awfully disappointed if I had been calm
"She refused him," she began again, "although she respects him, because
she feels that she ought to devote herself to her son. Of course she's
very young, still; she was married when she was only nineteen to a man
twice her age, and she's not thirty-five yet. I don't think she ever
cared much for her husband; and she wants you to find out something about
"I never heard of him. I—"
Mrs. March made a "tchck!" that would have recalled the most consequent
of men from the most logical and coherent interpretation to the true
intent of her words. He perceived his mistake, and said, resolutely:
"Well, I won't do it. If she's refused him, that's the end of it; she
needn't know anything about him, and she has no right to."
"Now I think differently," said Mrs. March, with an inductive air. "Of
course she has to know about him, now." She stopped, and March turned his
head and looked expectantly at her. "He said he would not consider her
answer final, but would hope to see her again and—She's afraid he may
follow her—What are you looking at me so for?"
"Is he coming here?"
"Am I to blame if he is? He said he was going to write to her."
March burst into a laugh. "Well, they haven't been beating about the
bush! When I think how Miss Triscoe has been pursuing Burnamy from the
first moment she set eyes on him, with the settled belief that she was
running from him, and he imagines that he has been boldly following her,
without the least hope from her, I can't help admiring the simple
directness of these elders."
"And if Kenby wants to talk with you, what will you say?" she cut in
"I'll say I don't like the subject. What am I in Carlsbad for? I came for
the cure, and I'm spending time and money on it. I might as well go and
take my three cups of Felsenquelle on a full stomach as to listen to
"I know it's bad for you, and I wish we had never seen those people,"
said Mrs. March. "I don't believe he'll want to talk with you; but if—"
"Is Mrs. Adding in this hotel? I'm not going to have them round in my
"She isn't. She's at one of the hotels on the hill."
"Very well, let her stay there, then. They can manage their love-affairs
in their own way. The only one I care the least for is the boy."
"Yes, it is forlorn for him. But he likes Mr. Kenby, and—No, it's
horrid, and you can't make it anything else!"
"Well, I'm not trying to." He turned his face away. "I must get my nap,
now." After she thought he must have fallen asleep, he said, "The first
thing you know, those old Eltwins will be coming round and telling us
that they're going to get divorced." Then he really slept.
The mid-day dinner at Pupp's was the time to see the Carlsbad world, and
the Marches had the habit of sitting long at table to watch it.
There was one family in whom they fancied a sort of literary quality, as
if they had come out of some pleasant German story, but they never knew
anything about them. The father by his dress must have been a Protestant
clergyman; the mother had been a beauty and was still very handsome; the
daughter was good-looking, and of a good-breeding which was both girlish
and ladylike. They commended themselves by always taking the table d'hote
dinner, as the Marches did, and eating through from the soup and the rank
fresh-water fish to the sweet, upon the same principle: the husband ate
all the compote and gave the others his dessert, which was not good for
him. A young girl of a different fascination remained as much a mystery.
She was small and of an extreme tenuity, which became more bewildering as
she advanced through her meal, especially at supper, which she made of a
long cucumber pickle, a Frankfort sausage of twice the pickle's length,
and a towering goblet of beer; in her lap she held a shivering little
hound; she was in the decorous keeping of an elderly maid, and had every
effect of being a gracious Fraulein. A curious contrast to her Teutonic
voracity was the temperance of a young Latin swell, imaginably from
Trieste, who sat long over his small coffee and cigarette, and tranquilly
mused upon the pages of an Italian newspaper. At another table there was
a very noisy lady, short and fat, in flowing draperies of white, who
commanded a sallow family of South-Americans, and loudly harangued them
in South-American Spanish; she flared out in a picture which nowhere
lacked strong effects; and in her background lurked a mysterious black
face and figure, ironically subservient to the old man, the mild boy, and
the pretty young girl in the middle distance of the family group.
Amidst the shows of a hardened worldliness there were touching glimpses
of domesticity and heart: a young bride fed her husband soup from her own
plate with her spoon, unabashed by the publicity; a mother and her two
pretty daughters hung about a handsome officer, who must have been newly
betrothed to one of the girls; and, the whole family showed a helpless
fondness for him, which he did not despise, though he held it in check;
the girls dressed alike, and seemed to have for their whole change of
costume a difference from time to time in the color of their sleeves. The
Marches believed they had seen the growth of the romance which had
eventuated so happily; and they saw other romances which did not in any
wise eventuate. Carlsbad was evidently one of the great marriage marts of
middle Europe, where mothers brought their daughters to be admired, and
everywhere the flower of life was blooming for the hand of love. It blew
by on all the promenades in dresses and hats as pretty as they could be
bought or imagined; but it was chiefly at Pupp's that it flourished. For
the most part it seemed to flourish in vain, and to be destined to be put
by for another season to dream, bulblike, of the coming summer in the
quiet of Moldavian and Transylvanian homes.
Perhaps it was oftener of fortunate effect than the spectators knew; but
for their own pleasure they would not have had their pang for it less;
and March objected to having a more explicit demand upon his sympathy.
"We could have managed," he said, at the close of their dinner, as he
looked compassionately round upon the parterre of young girls, "we could
have managed with Burnamy and Miss Triscoe; but to have Mrs. Adding and
Kenby launched upon us is too much. Of course I like Kenby, and if the
widow alone were concerned I would give him my blessing: a wife more or a
widow less is not going to disturb the equilibrium of the universe;
but—" He stopped, and then he went on: "Men and women are well enough.
They complement each other very agreeably, and they have very good times
together. But why should they get in love?—It is sure to make them
uncomfortable to themselves and annoying to others." He broke off, and
stared about him. "My dear, this is really charming—almost as charming
as the Posthof." The crowd spread from the open vestibule of the hotel
and the shelter of its branching pavilion roofs until it was dimmed in
the obscurity of the low grove across the way in an ultimate depth where
the musicians were giving the afternoon concert. Between its two
stationary divisions moved a current of promenaders, with some such
effect as if the colors of a lovely garden should have liquefied and
flowed in mingled rose and lilac, pink and yellow, and white and orange,
and all the middle tints of modern millinery. Above on one side were the
agreeable bulks of architecture, in the buff and gray of Carlsbad; and
far beyond on the other were the upland slopes, with villas and long
curves of country roads, belted in with miles of wall. "It would be about
as offensive to have a love-interest that one personally knew about
intruded here," he said, "as to have a two-spanner carriage driven
through this crowd. It ought to be forbidden by the municipality."
Mrs. March listened with her ears, but not with her eyes, and she
answered: "See that handsome young Greek priest! Isn't he an
archimandrite? The portier said he was."
"Then let him pass for an archimandrite. Now," he recurred to his
grievance again, dreamily, "I have got to take Papa Triscoe in hand, and
poison his mind against Burnamy, and I shall have to instil a few drops
of venomous suspicion against Kenby into the heart of poor little Rose
Adding. Oh;" he broke out, "they will spoil everything. They'll be with
us morning, noon, and night," and he went on to work the joke of repining
at his lot. The worst thing, he said, would be the lovers' pretence of
being interested in something besides themselves, which they were no more
capable of than so many lunatics. How could they care for pretty girls
playing tennis on an upland level, in the waning afternoon? Or a cartful
of peasant women stopping to cross themselves at a way-side shrine? Or a
whistling boy with holes in his trousers pausing from some wayside
raspberries to touch his hat and say good-morning? Or those preposterous
maidens sprinkling linen on the grass from watering-pots while the skies
were full of rain? Or that blacksmith shop where Peter the Great made a
horseshoe. Or the monument of the young warrior-poet Koerner, with a
gentle-looking girl and her mother reading and knitting on a bench before
it? These simple pleasures sufficed them, but what could lovers really
care for them? A peasant girl flung down on the grassy road-side, fast
asleep, while her yoke-fellow, the gray old dog, lay in his harness near
her with one drowsy eye half open for her and the other for the contents
of their cart; a boy chasing a red squirrel in the old upper town beyond
the Tepl, and enlisting the interest of all the neighbors; the negro
door-keeper at the Golden Shield who ought to have spoken our Southern
English, but who spoke bad German and was from Cairo; the sweet afternoon
stillness in the woods; the good German mothers crocheting at the Posthof
concerts. Burnamy as a young poet might hate felt the precious quality of
these things, if his senses had not been holden by Miss Triscoe; and she
might have felt it if only he had done so. But as it was it would be lost
upon their preoccupation; with Mrs. Adding and Kenby it would be
A day or two after Mrs: March had met Mrs. Adding, she went with her
husband to revere a certain magnificent blackamoor whom he had discovered
at the entrance of one of the aristocratic hotels on the Schlossberg,
where he performed the function of a kind of caryatid, and looked, in the
black of his skin and the white of his flowing costume, like a colossal
figure carved in ebony and ivory. They took a roundabout way through a
street entirely of villa-pensions; every house in Carlsbad but one is a
pension if it is not n hotel; but these were of a sort of sentimental
prettiness; with each a little garden before it, and a bower with an iron
table in it for breakfasting and supping out-doors; and he said that they
would be the very places for bridal couples who wished to spend the
honey-moon in getting well of the wedding surfeit. She denounced him for
saying such a thing as that, and for his inconsistency in complaining of
lovers while he was willing to think of young married people. He
contended that there was a great difference in the sort of demand that
young married people made upon the interest of witnesses, and that they
were at least on their way to sanity; and before they agreed, they had
come to the hotel with the blackamoor at the door. While they lingered,
sharing the splendid creature's hospitable pleasure in the spectacle he
formed, they were aware of a carriage with liveried coachman and footman
at the steps of the hotel; the liveries were very quiet and
distinguished, and they learned that the equipage was waiting for the
Prince of Coburg, or the Princess of Montenegro, or Prince Henry of
Prussia; there were differing opinions among the twenty or thirty
bystanders. Mrs. March said she did not care which it was; and she was
patient of the denouement, which began to postpone itself with delicate
delays. After repeated agitations at the door among portiers,
proprietors, and waiters, whose fluttered spirits imparted their thrill
to the spectators, while the coachman and footman remained
sculpturesquely impassive in their places, the carriage moved aside and
let an energetic American lady and her family drive up to the steps. The
hotel people paid her a tempered devotion, but she marred the effect by
rushing out and sitting on a balcony to wait for the delaying royalties.
There began to be more promises of their early appearance; a footman got
down and placed himself at the carriage door; the coachman stiffened
himself on his box; then he relaxed; the footman drooped, and even
wandered aside. There came a moment when at some signal the carriage
drove quite away from the portal and waited near the gate of the
stableyard; it drove back, and the spectators redoubled their attention.
Nothing happened, and some of them dropped off. At last an indescribable
significance expressed itself in the official group at the door; a man in
a high hat and dresscoat hurried out; a footman hurried to meet him; they
spoke inaudibly together. The footman mounted to his place; the coachman
gathered up his reins and drove rapidly out of the hotel-yard, down the
street, round the corner, out of sight. The man in the tall hat and
dress-coat went in; the official group at the threshold dissolved; the
statue in ivory and ebony resumed its place; evidently the Hoheit of
Coburg, or Montenegro, or Prussia, was not going to take the air.
"My dear, this is humiliating."
"Not at all! I wouldn't have missed it for anything. Think how near we
came to seeing them!"
"I shouldn't feel so shabby if we had seen them. But to hang round here
in this plebeian abeyance, and then to be defeated and defrauded at last!
I wonder how long this sort of thing is going on?"
"This base subjection of the imagination to the Tom Foolery of the Ages."
"I don't know what you mean. I'm sure it's very natural to want to see a
"Only too natural. It's so deeply founded in nature that after denying
royalty by word and deed for a hundred years, we Americans are hungrier
for it than anybody else. Perhaps we may come back to it!"
They looked up at the Austrian flag on the tower of the hotel, languidly
curling and uncurling in the bland evening air, as it had over a thousand
years of stupid and selfish monarchy, while all the generous republics of
the Middle Ages had perished, and the commonwealths of later times had
passed like fever dreams. That dull, inglorious empire had antedated or
outlived Venice and Genoa, Florence and Siena, the England of Cromwell,
the Holland of the Stadtholders, and the France of many revolutions, and
all the fleeting democracies which sprang from these.
March began to ask himself how his curiosity differed from that of the
Europeans about him; then he became aware that these had detached
themselves, and left him exposed to the presence of a fellow countryman.
It was Otterson, with Mrs. Otterson; he turned upon March with hilarious
recognition. "Hello! Most of the Americans in Carlsbad seem to be hanging
round here for a sight of these kings. Well, we don't have a great many
of 'em, and it's natural we shouldn't want to miss any. But now, you
Eastern fellows, you go to Europe every summer, and yet you don't seem to
get enough of 'em. Think it's human nature, or did it get so ground into
us in the old times that we can't get it out, no difference what we say?"
"That's very much what I've been asking myself," said March. "Perhaps
it's any kind of show. We'd wait nearly as long for the President to come
out, wouldn't we?"
"I reckon we would. But we wouldn't for his nephew, or his second
"Well, they wouldn't be in the way of the succession."
"I guess you're right." The Iowan seemed better satisfied with March's
philosophy than March felt himself, and he could not forbear adding:
"But I don't, deny that we should wait for the President because he's a
kind of king too. I don't know that we shall ever get over wanting to see
kings of some kind. Or at least my wife won't. May I present you to Mrs.
"Happy to meet you, Mrs. March," said the Iowan. "Introduce you to Mrs.
Otterson. I'm the fool in my family, and I know just how you feel about a
chance like this. I don't mean that you're—"
They all laughed at the hopeless case, and Mrs. March said, with one of
her unexpected likings: "I understand, Mr. Otterson. And I would rather
be our kind of fool than the kind that pretends not to care for the sight
of a king."
"Like you and me, Mrs. Otterson," said March.
"Indeed, indeed," said the lady, "I'd like to see a king too, if it
didn't take all night. Good-evening," she said, turning her husband about
with her, as if she suspected a purpose of patronage in Mrs. March, and
was not going to have it.
Otterson looked over his shoulder to explain, despairingly: "The trouble
with me is that when I do get a chance to talk English, there's such a
flow of language it carries me away, and I don't know just where I'm
There were several kings and their kindred at Carlsbad that summer. One
day the Duchess of Orleans drove over from Marienbad, attended by the
Duke on his bicycle. After luncheon, they reappeared for a moment before
mounting to her carriage with their Secretaries: two young French
gentlemen whose dress and bearing better satisfied Mrs. March's exacting
passion for an aristocratic air in their order. The Duke was fat and
fair, as a Bourbon should be, and the Duchess fatter, though not so fair,
as became a Hapsburg, but they were both more plebeian-looking than their
retainers, who were slender as well as young, and as perfectly appointed
as English tailors could imagine them.
"It wouldn't do for the very highest sort of Highhotes," March declared,
"to look their own consequence personally; they have to leave that, like
everything else, to their inferiors."
By a happy heterophemy of Mrs. March's the German Hoheit had now become
Highhote, which was so much more descriptive that they had permanently
adopted it, and found comfort to their republican pride in the mockery
which it poured upon the feudal structure of society. They applied it
with a certain compunction, however, to the King of Servia, who came a
few days after the Duke and Duchess: he was such a young King, and of
such a little country. They watched for him from the windows of the
reading-room, while the crowd outside stood six deep on the three sides
of the square before the hotel, and the two plain public carriages which
brought the King and his suite drew tamely up at the portal, where the
proprietor and some civic dignitaries received him. His moderated
approach, so little like that of royalty on the stage, to which Americans
are used, allowed Mrs. March to make sure of the pale, slight,
insignificant, amiable-looking youth in spectacles as the sovereign she
was ambuscading. Then no appeal to her principles could keep her from
peeping through the reading-room door into the rotunda, where the King
graciously but speedily dismissed the civic gentlemen and the proprietor,
and vanished into the elevator. She was destined to see him so often
afterwards that she scarcely took the trouble to time her dining and
supping by that of the simple potentate, who had his meals in one of the
public rooms, with three gentlemen of his suite, in sack-coats like
himself, after the informal manner of the place.
Still another potentate, who happened that summer to be sojourning
abroad, in the interval of a successful rebellion, was at the opera one
night with some of his faithful followers. Burnamy had offered Mrs.
March, who supposed that he merely wanted her and her husband with him,
places in a box; but after she eagerly accepted, it seemed that he wished
her to advise him whether it would do to ask Miss Triscoe and her father
to join them.
"Why not?" she returned, with an arching of the eyebrows.
"Why," he said, "perhaps I had better make a clean breast of it."
"Perhaps you had," she said, and they both laughed, though he laughed
with a knot between his eyes.
"The fact is, you know, this isn't my treat, exactly. It's Mr.
Stoller's." At the surprise in her face he hurried on. "He's got back his
first letter in the paper, and he's so much pleased with the way he reads
in print, that he wants to celebrate."
"Yes," said Mrs. March, non-committally.
Burnamy laughed again. "But he's bashful, and he isn't sure that you
would all take it in the right way. He wants you as friends of mine; and
he hasn't quite the courage to ask you himself."
This seemed to Mrs. March so far from bad that she said: "That's very
nice of him. Then he's satisfied with—with your help? I'm glad of that."
"Thank you. He's met the Triscoes, and he thought it would be pleasant to
you if they went, too."
"He thought," Burnamy went on, with the air of feeling his way, "that we
might all go to the opera, and then—then go for a little supper
afterwards at Schwarzkopf's."
He named the only place in Carlsbad where you can sup so late as ten
o'clock; as the opera begins at six, and is over at half past eight, none
but the wildest roisterers frequent the place.
"Oh!" said Mrs. March. "I don't know how a late supper would agree with
my husband's cure. I should have to ask him."
"We could make it very hygienic," Burnamy explained.
In repeating his invitation she blamed Burnamy's uncandor so much that
March took his part, as perhaps she intended, and said, "Oh, nonsense,"
and that he should like to go in for the whole thing; and General Triscoe
accepted as promptly for himself and his daughter. That made six people,
Burnamy counted up, and he feigned a decent regret that there was not
room for Mrs. Adding and her son; he would have liked to ask them.
Mrs. March did not enjoy it so much as coming with her husband alone when
they took two florin seats in the orchestra for the comedy. The comedy
always began half an hour earlier than the opera, and they had a
five-o'clock supper at the Theatre-Cafe before they went, and they got to
sleep by nine o'clock; now they would be up till half past ten at least,
and that orgy at Schwarzkopf's might not be at all good for him. But
still she liked being there; and Miss Triscoe made her take the best
seat; Burnamy and Stoller made the older men take the other seats beside
the ladies, while they sat behind, or stood up, when they, wished to see,
as people do in the back of a box. Stoller was not much at ease in
evening dress, but he bore himself with a dignity which was not perhaps
so gloomy as it looked; Mrs. March thought him handsome in his way, and
required Miss Triscoe to admire him. As for Burnamy's beauty it was not
necessary to insist upon that; he had the distinction of slender youth;
and she liked to think that no Highhote there was of a more patrician
presence than this yet unprinted contributor to 'Every Other Week'. He
and Stoller seemed on perfect terms; or else in his joy he was able to
hide the uneasiness which she had fancied in him from the first time she
saw them together, and which had never been quite absent from his manner
in Stoller's presence. Her husband always denied that it existed, or if
it did that it was anything but Burnamy's effort to get on common ground
with an inferior whom fortune had put over him.
The young fellow talked with Stoller, and tried to bring him into the
range of the general conversation. He leaned over the ladies, from time
to time, and pointed out the notables whom he saw in the house; she was
glad, for his sake, that he did not lean less over her than over Miss
Triscoe. He explained certain military figures in the boxes opposite, and
certain ladies of rank who did not look their rank; Miss Triscoe, to Mrs.
March's thinking, looked their united ranks, and more; her dress was very
simple, but of a touch which saved it from being insipidly girlish; her
beauty was dazzling.
"Do you see that old fellow in the corner chair just behind the
orchestra?" asked Burnamy. "He's ninety-six years old, and he comes to
the theatre every night, and falls asleep as soon as the curtain rises,
and sleeps through till the end of the act."
"How dear!" said the girl, leaning forward to fix the nonagenarian with
her glasses, while many other glasses converged upon her. "Oh, wouldn't
you like to know him, Mr. March?"
"I should consider it a liberal education. They have brought these things
to a perfect system in Europe. There is nothing to make life pass
smoothly like inflexible constancy to an entirely simple custom. My
dear," he added to his wife, "I wish we'd seen this sage before. He'd
have helped us through a good many hours of unintelligible comedy. I'm
always coming as Burnamy's guest, after this."
The young fellow swelled with pleasure in his triumph, and casting an eye
about the theatre to cap it, he caught sight of that other potentate. He
whispered joyfully, "Ah! We've got two kings here to-night," and he
indicated in a box of their tier just across from that where the King of
Servia sat, the well-known face of the King of New York.
"He isn't bad-looking," said March, handing his glass to General Triscoe.
"I've not seen many kings in exile; a matter of a few Carlist princes and
ex-sovereign dukes, and the good Henry V. of France, once, when I was
staying a month in Venice; but I don't think they any of them looked the
part better. I suppose he has his dream of recurring power like the
"Dream!" said General Triscoe with the glass at his eyes. "He's dead sure
"Oh, you don't really mean that!"
"I don't know why I should have changed my mind."
"Then it's as if we were in the presence of Charles II. just before he
was called back to England, or Napoleon in the last moments of Elba. It's
better than that. The thing is almost unique; it's a new situation in
history. Here's a sovereign who has no recognized function, no legal
status, no objective existence. He has no sort of public being, except in
the affection of his subjects. It took an upheaval little short of an
earthquake to unseat him. His rule, as we understand it, was bad for all
classes; the poor suffered more than the rich; the people have now had
three years of self-government; and yet this wonderful man has such a
hold upon the masses that he is going home to win the cause of oppression
at the head of the oppressed. When he's in power again, he will be as
subjective as ever, with the power of civic life and death, and an
idolatrous following perfectly ruthless in the execution of his will."
"We've only begun," said the general. "This kind of king is municipal,
now; but he's going to be national. And then, good-by, Republic!"
"The only thing like it," March resumed, too incredulous of the evil
future to deny himself the aesthetic pleasure of the parallel, "is the
rise of the Medici in Florence, but even the Medici were not mere
manipulators of pulls; they had some sort of public office, with some
sort of legislated tenure of it. The King of New York is sovereign by
force of will alone, and he will reign in the voluntary submission of the
majority. Is our national dictator to be of the same nature and quality?"
"It would be the scientific evolution, wouldn't it?"
The ladies listened with the perfunctory attention which women pay to any
sort of inquiry which is not personal. Stoller had scarcely spoken yet;
he now startled them all by demanding, with a sort of vindictive force,
"Why shouldn't he have the power, if they're willing to let him?"
"Yes," said General Triscoe, with a tilt of his head towards March.
"That's what we must ask ourselves more and more."
March leaned back in his chair, and looked up over his shoulder at
Stoller. "Well, I don't know. Do you think it's quite right for a man to
use an unjust power, even if others are willing that he should?"
Stoller stopped with an air of bewilderment as if surprised on the point
of saying that he thought just this. He asked instead, "What's wrong
"Well, that's one of those things that have to be felt, I suppose. But if
a man came to you, and offered to be your slave for a certain
consideration—say a comfortable house, and a steady job, that wasn't too
hard—should you feel it morally right to accept the offer? I don't say
think it right, for there might be a kind of logic for it."
Stoller seemed about to answer; he hesitated; and before he had made any
response, the curtain rose.
There are few prettier things than Carlsbad by night from one of the many
bridges which span the Tepl in its course through the town. If it is a
starry night, the torrent glides swiftly away with an inverted firmament
in its bosom, to which the lamps along its shores and in the houses on
either side contribute a planetary splendor of their own. By nine o'clock
everything is hushed; not a wheel is heard at that dead hour; the few
feet shuffling stealthily through the Alte Wiese whisper a caution of
silence to those issuing with a less guarded tread from the opera; the
little bowers that overhang the stream are as dark and mute as the
restaurants across the way which serve meals in them by day; the whole
place is as forsaken as other cities at midnight. People get quickly home
to bed, or if they have a mind to snatch a belated joy, they slip into
the Theater-Cafe, where the sleepy Frauleins serve them, in an exemplary
drowse, with plates of cold ham and bottles of the gently gaseous waters
of Giesshubl. Few are of the bold badness which delights in a supper at
Schwarzkopf's, and even these are glad of the drawn curtains which hide
their orgy from the chance passer.
The invalids of Burnamy's party kept together, strengthening themselves
in a mutual purpose not to be tempted to eat anything which was not
strictly 'kurgemass'. Mrs. March played upon the interest which each of
them felt in his own case so artfully that she kept them talking of their
cure, and left Burnamy and Miss Triscoe to a moment on the bridge, by
which they profited, while the others strolled on, to lean against the
parapet and watch the lights in the skies and the water, and be alone
together. The stream shone above and below, and found its way out of and
into the darkness under the successive bridges; the town climbed into the
night with lamp-lit windows here and there, till the woods of the
hill-sides darkened down to meet it, and fold it in an embrace from which
some white edifice showed palely in the farthest gloom.
He tried to make her think they could see that great iron crucifix which
watches over it day and night from its piny cliff. He had a fancy for a
poem, very impressionistic, which should convey the notion of the
crucifix's vigil. He submitted it to her; and they remained talking till
the others had got out of sight and hearing; and she was letting him keep
the hand on her arm which he had put there to hold her from falling over
the parapet, when they were both startled by approaching steps, and a
voice calling, "Look here! Who's running this supper party, anyway?"
His wife had detached March from her group for the mission, as soon as
she felt that the young people were abusing her kindness. They answered
him with hysterical laughter, and Burnamy said, "Why, it's Mr. Stoller's
treat, you know."
At the restaurant, where the proprietor obsequiously met the party on the
threshold and bowed them into a pretty inner room, with a table set for
their supper, Stoller had gained courage to play the host openly. He
appointed General Triscoe to the chief seat; he would have put his
daughter next to him, if the girl had not insisted upon Mrs. March's
having the place, and going herself to sit next to March, whom she said
she had not been able to speak a word to the whole evening. But she did
not talk a great deal to him; he smiled to find how soon he dropped out
of the conversation, and Burnamy, from his greater remoteness across the
table, dropped into it. He really preferred the study of Stoller, whose
instinct of a greater worldly quality in the Triscoes interested him; he
could see him listening now to what General Triscoe was saying to Mrs.
March, and now to what Burnamy was saying to Miss Triscoe; his strong,
selfish face, as he turned it on the young people, expressed a mingled
grudge and greed that was very curious.
Stoller's courage, which had come and gone at moments throughout, rose at
the end, and while they lingered at the table well on to the hour of ten,
he said, in the sort of helpless offence he had with Burnamy, "What's the
reason we can't all go out tomorrow to that old castle you was talking
"To Engelhaus? I don't know any reason, as far as I'm concerned,"
answered Burnamy; but he refused the initiative offered him, and Stoller
was obliged to ask March:
"You heard about it?"
"Yes." General Triscoe was listening, and March added for him, "It was
the hold of an old robber baron; Gustavus Adolphus knocked it down, and
it's very picturesque, I believe."
"It sounds promising," said the general. "Where is it?"
"Isn't to-morrow our mineral bath?" Mrs. March interposed between her
husband and temptation.
"No; the day after. Why, it's about ten or twelve miles out on the old
postroad that Napoleon took for Prague."
"Napoleon knew a good road when he saw it," said the general, and he
alone of the company lighted a cigar. He was decidedly in favor of the
excursion, and he arranged for it with Stoller, whom he had the effect of
using for his pleasure as if he were doing him a favor. They were six,
and two carriages would take them: a two-spanner for four, and a
one-spanner for two; they could start directly after dinners and get home
in time for supper.
Stoller asserted himself to say: "That's all right, then. I want you to
be my guests, and I'll see about the carriages." He turned to Burnamy:
"Will you order them?"
"Oh," said the young fellow, with a sort of dryness, "the portier will
"I don't understand why General Triscoe was so willing to accept. Surely,
he can't like that man!" said Mrs. March to her husband in their own
"Oh, I fancy that wouldn't be essential. The general seems to me, capable
of letting even an enemy serve his turn. Why didn't you speak, if you
didn't want to go?"
"Why didn't you?"
"I wanted to go."
"And I knew it wouldn't do to let Miss Triscoe go alone; I could see that
she wished to go."
"Do you think Burnamy did?"
"He seemed rather indifferent. And yet he must have realized that he
would be with Miss Triscoe the whole afternoon."
If Burnamy and Miss Triscoe took the lead in the one-spanner, and the
others followed in the two-spanner, it was not from want of politeness on
the part of the young people in offering to give up their places to each
of their elders in turn. It would have been grotesque for either March or
Stoller to drive with the girl; for her father it was apparently no
question, after a glance at the more rigid uprightness of the seat in the
one-spanner; and he accepted the place beside Mrs. March on the back seat
of the two-spanner without demur. He asked her leave to smoke, and then
he scarcely spoke to her. But he talked to the two men in front of him
almost incessantly, haranguing them upon the inferiority of our
conditions and the futility of our hopes as a people, with the effect of
bewildering the cruder arrogance of Stoller, who could have got on with
Triscoe's contempt for the worthlessness of our working-classes, but did
not know what to do with his scorn of the vulgarity and venality of their
employers. He accused some of Stoller's most honored and envied
capitalists of being the source of our worst corruptions, and guiltier
than the voting-cattle whom they bought and sold.
"I think we can get rid of the whole trouble if we go at it the right
way," Stoller said, diverging for the sake of the point he wished to
bring in. "I believe in having the government run on business principles.
They've got it here in Carlsbad, already, just the right sort of thing,
and it works. I been lookin' into it, and I got this young man,
yonder"—he twisted his hand in the direction of the one-spanner! "to
help me put it in shape. I believe it's going to make our folks think,
the best ones among them. Here!" He drew a newspaper out of his pocket,
folded to show two columns in their full length, and handed it to
Triscoe, who took it with no great eagerness, and began to run his eye
over it. "You tell me what you think of that. I've put it out for a kind
of a feeler. I got some money in that paper, and I just thought I'd let
our people see how a city can be managed on business principles."
He kept his eye eagerly upon Triscoe, as if to follow his thought while
he read, and keep him up to the work, and he ignored the Marches so
entirely that they began in self-defence to talk with each other.
Their carriage had climbed from Carlsbad in long irregular curves to the
breezy upland where the great highroad to Prague ran through fields of
harvest. They had come by heights and slopes of forest, where the serried
stems of the tall firs showed brown and whitish-blue and grew straight as
stalks of grain; and now on either side the farms opened under a sky of
unwonted cloudlessness. Narrow strips of wheat and rye, which the men
were cutting with sickles, and the women in red bodices were binding,
alternated with ribands of yellowing oats and grass, and breadths of
beets and turnips, with now and then lengths of ploughed land. In the
meadows the peasants were piling their carts with heavy rowen, the girls
lifting the hay on the forks, and the men giving themselves the lighter
labor of ordering the load. From the upturned earth, where there ought to
have been troops of strutting crows, a few sombre ravens rose. But they
could not rob the scene of its gayety; it smiled in the sunshine with
colors which vividly followed the slope of the land till they were dimmed
in the forests on the far-off mountains. Nearer and farther, the cottages
and villages shone in the valleys, or glimmered through the veils of the
distant haze. Over all breathed the keen pure air of the hills, with a
sentiment of changeless eld, which charmed March, back to his boyhood,
where he lost the sense of his wife's presence, and answered her vaguely.
She talked contentedly on in the monologue to which the wives of
absent-minded men learn to resign themselves. They were both roused from
their vagary by the voice of General Triscoe. He was handing back the
folded newspaper to Stoller, and saying, with a queer look at him over
his glasses, "I should like to see what your contemporaries have to say
to all that."
"Well, sir," Stoller returned, "maybe I'll have the chance to show you.
They got my instructions over there to send everything to me."
Burnamy and Miss Triscoe gave little heed to the landscape as landscape.
They agreed that the human interest was the great thing on a landscape,
after all; but they ignored the peasants in the fields and meadows, who
were no more to them than the driver on the box, or the people in the
two-spanner behind. They were talking of the hero and heroine of a novel
they had both read, and he was saying, "I suppose you think he was justly
"Punished?" she repeated. "Why, they got married, after all!"
"Yes, but you could see that they were not going to be happy."
"Then it seems to me that she was punished; too."
"Well, yes; you might say that. The author couldn't help that."
Miss Triscoe was silent a moment before she said:
"I always thought the author was rather hard on the hero. The girl was
"Why," said Burnamy, "I supposed that women hated anything like deception
in men too much to tolerate it at all. Of course, in this case, he didn't
deceive her; he let her deceive herself; but wasn't that worse?"
"Yes, that was worse. She could have forgiven him for deceiving her."
"He might have had to do that. She wouldn't have minded his fibbing
outright, so much, for then it wouldn't have seemed to come from his
nature. But if he just let her believe what wasn't true, and didn't say a
word to prevent her, of course it was worse. It showed something weak,
something cowardly in him."
Burnamy gave a little cynical laugh. "I suppose it did. But don't you
think it's rather rough, expecting us to have all the kinds of courage?"
"Yes, it is," she assented. "That is why I say she was too exacting. But
a man oughn't to defend him."
Burnamy's laugh had more pleasure in it, now. "Another woman might?"
"No. She might excuse him."
He turned to look back at the two-spanner; it was rather far behind, and
he spoke to their driver bidding him go slowly till it caught up with
them. By the time it did so, they were so close to it that they could
distinguish the lines of its wandering and broken walls. Ever since they
had climbed from the wooded depths of the hills above Carlsbad to the
open plateau, it had shown itself in greater and greater detail. The
detached mound of rock on which it stood rose like an island in the midst
of the plain, and commanded the highways in every direction.
"I believe," Burnamy broke out, with a bitterness apparently relevant to
the ruin alone, "that if you hadn't required any quarterings of nobility
from him, Stoller would have made a good sort of robber baron. He's a
robber baron by nature, now, and he wouldn't have any scruple in levying
tribute on us here in our one-spanner, if his castle was in good repair
and his crossbowmen were not on a strike. But they would be on a strike,
probably, and then he would lock them out, and employ none but non-union
If Miss Triscoe understood that he arraigned the morality as well as the
civility of his employer, she did not take him more seriously than he
meant, apparently, for she smiled as she said, "I don't see how you can
have anything to do with him, if you feel so about him."
"Oh," Burnamy replied in kind, "he buys my poverty and not my will. And
perhaps if I thought better of myself, I should respect him more."
"Have you been doing something very wicked?"
"What should you have to say to me, if I had?" he bantered.
"Oh, I should have nothing at all to say to you," she mocked back.
They turned a corner of the highway, and drove rattling through a village
street up a long slope to the rounded hill which it crowned. A church at
its base looked out upon an irregular square.
A gaunt figure of a man, with a staring mask, which seemed to hide a
darkling mind within, came out of the church, and locked it behind him.
He proved to be the sacristan, and the keeper of all the village's claims
upon the visitors' interest; he mastered, after a moment, their wishes in
respect to the castle, and showed the path that led to it; at the top, he
said, they would find a custodian of the ruins who would admit them.
The, path to the castle slanted upward across the shoulder of the hill,
to a certain point, and there some rude stone steps mounted more
directly. Wilding lilac-bushes, as if from some forgotten garden,
bordered the ascent; the chickory opened its blue flower; the clean
bitter odor of vermouth rose from the trodden turf; but Nature spreads no
such lavish feast in wood or field in the Old World as she spoils us with
in the New; a few kinds, repeated again and again, seem to be all her
store, and man must make the most of them. Miss Triscoe seemed to find
flowers enough in the simple bouquet which Burnamy put together for her.
She took it, and then gave it back to him, that she might have both hands
for her skirt, and so did him two favors.
A superannuated forester of the nobleman who owns the ruin opened a gate
for the party at the top, and levied a tax of thirty kreutzers each upon
them, for its maintenance. The castle, by his story, had descended from
robber sire to robber son, till Gustavus knocked it to pieces in the
sixteenth century; three hundred years later, the present owner restored
it; and now its broken walls and arches, built of rubble mixed with
brick, and neatly pointed up with cement, form a ruin satisfyingly
permanent. The walls were not of great extent, but such as they were they
enclosed several dungeons and a chapel, all underground, and a cistern
which once enabled the barons and their retainers to water their wine in
time of siege.
From that height they could overlook the neighboring highways in every
direction, and could bring a merchant train to, with a shaft from a
crossbow, or a shot from an arquebuse, at pleasure. With General
Triscoe's leave, March praised the strategic strength of the unique
position, which he found expressive of the past, and yet suggestive of
the present. It was more a difference in method than anything else that
distinguished the levy of customs by the authorities then and now. What
was the essential difference, between taking tribute of travellers
passing on horseback, and collecting dues from travellers arriving by
steamer? They did not pay voluntarily in either case; but it might be
proof of progress that they no longer fought the customs officials.
"Then you believe in free trade," said Stoller, severely.
"No. I am just inquiring which is the best way of enforcing the tariff
"I saw in the Paris Chronicle, last night," said Miss Triscoe, "that
people are kept on the docks now for hours, and ladies cry at the way
their things are tumbled over by the inspectors."
"It's shocking," said Mrs. March, magisterially.
"It seems to be a return to the scenes of feudal times," her husband
resumed. "But I'm glad the travellers make no resistance. I'm opposed to
private war as much as I am to free trade."
"It all comes round to the same thing at last," said General Triscoe.
"Your precious humanity—"
"Oh, I don't claim it exclusively," March protested.
"Well, then, our precious humanity is like a man that has lost his road.
He thinks he is finding his way out, but he is merely rounding on his
course, and coming back to where he started."
Stoller said, "I think we ought to make it so rough for them, over here,
that they will come to America and set up, if they can't stand the
"Oh, we ought to make it rough for them anyway," March consented.
If Stoller felt his irony, he did not know what to answer. He followed
with his eyes the manoeuvre by which Burnamy and Miss Triscoe eliminated
themselves from the discussion, and strayed off to another corner of the
ruin, where they sat down on the turf in the shadow of the wall; a thin,
upland breeze drew across them, but the sun was hot. The land fell away
from the height, and then rose again on every side in carpetlike fields
and in long curving bands, whose parallel colors passed unblended into
the distance. "I don't suppose," Burnamy said, "that life ever does much
better than this, do you? I feel like knocking on a piece of wood and
saying 'Unberufen.' I might knock on your bouquet; that's wood."
"It would spoil the flowers," she said, looking down at them in her belt.
She looked up and their eyes met.
"I wonder," he said, presently, "what makes us always have a feeling of
dread when we are happy?"
"Do you have that, too?" she asked.
"Yes. Perhaps it's because we know that change must come, and it must be
for the worse."
"That must be it. I never thought of it before, though."
"If we had got so far in science that we could predict psychological
weather, and could know twenty-four hours ahead when a warm wave of bliss
or a cold wave of misery was coming, and prepare for smiles and tears
beforehand—it may come to that."
"I hope it won't. I'd rather not know when I was to be happy; it would
spoil the pleasure; and wouldn't be any compensation when it was the
A shadow fell across them, and Burnamy glanced round to see Stoller
looking down at them, with a slant of the face that brought his aquiline
profile into relief. "Oh! Have a turf, Mr. Stoller?" he called gayly up
"I guess we've seen about all there is," he answered. "Hadn't we better
be going?" He probably did not mean to be mandatory.
"All right," said Burnamy, and he turned to speak to Miss Triscoe again
without further notice of him.
They all descended to the church at the foot of the hill where the weird
sacristan was waiting to show them the cold, bare interior, and to
account for its newness with the fact that the old church had been burnt,
and this one built only a few years before. Then he locked the doors
after them, and ran forward to open against their coming the chapel of
the village cemetery, which they were to visit after they had fortified
themselves for it at the village cafe.
They were served by a little hunch-back maid; and she told them who lived
in the chief house of the village. It was uncommonly pretty; where all
the houses were picturesque, and she spoke of it with respect as the
dwelling of a rich magistrate who was clearly the great man of the place.
March admired the cat which rubbed against her skirt while she stood and
talked, and she took his praises modestly for the cat; but they wrought
upon the envy, of her brother so that he ran off to the garden, and came
back with two fat, sleepy-eyed puppies which he held up, with an arm
across each of their stomachs, for the acclaim of the spectators.
"Oh, give him something!" Mrs. March entreated. "He's such a dear."
"No, no! I am not going to have my little hunchback and her cat outdone,"
he refused; and then he was about to yield.
"Hold on!" said Stoller, assuming the host. "I got the change."
He gave the boy a few kreutzers, when Mrs. March had meant her husband to
reward his naivete with half a florin at least; but he seemed to feel
that he had now ingratiated himself with the ladies, and he put himself
in charge of them for the walk to the cemetery chapel; he made Miss
Triscoe let him carry her jacket when she found it warm.
The chapel is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and the Jesuit brother who
designed it, two or three centuries ago, indulged a devotional fancy in
the triangular form of the structure and the decorative details.
Everything is three-cornered; the whole chapel, to begin with, and then
the ark of the high altar in the middle of it, and each of the three
side-altars. The clumsy baroque taste of the architecture is a German
version of the impulse that was making Italy fantastic at the time; the
carving is coarse, and the color harsh and unsoftened by years, though it
is broken and obliterated in places.
The sacristan said that the chapel was never used for anything but
funeral services, and he led the way out into the cemetery, where he
wished to display the sepultural devices. The graves here were planted
with flowers, and some were in a mourning of black pansies; but a space
fenced apart from the rest held a few neglected mounds, overgrown with
weeds and brambles: This space, he said, was for suicides; but to March
it was not so ghastly as the dapper grief of certain tombs in consecrated
ground where the stones had photographs of the dead on porcelain let into
them. One was the picture of a beautiful young woman, who had been the
wife of the local magnate; an eternal love was vowed to her in the
inscription, but now, the sacristan said, with nothing of irony, the
magnate was married again, and lived in that prettiest house of the
village. He seemed proud of the monument, as the thing worthiest the
attention of the strangers, and he led them with less apparent
hopefulness to the unfinished chapel representing a Gethsemane, with the
figure of Christ praying and his apostles sleeping. It is a subject much
celebrated in terra-cotta about Carlsbad, and it was not a novelty to his
party; still, from its surroundings, it had a fresh pathos, and March
tried to make him understand that they appreciated it. He knew that his
wife wished the poor man to think he had done them a great favor in
showing it; he had been touched with all the vain shows of grief in the
poor, ugly little place; most of all he had felt the exile of those who
had taken their own lives and were parted in death from the more patient
sufferers who had waited for God to take them. With a curious, unpainful
self-analysis he noted that the older members of the party, who in the
course of nature were so much nearer death, did not shrink from its
shows; but the young girl and the young man had not borne to look on
them, and had quickly escaped from the place, somewhere outside the gate.
Was it the beginning, the promise of that reconciliation with death which
nature brings to life at last, or was it merely the effect, or defect, of
ossified sensibilities, of toughened nerves?
"That is all?" he asked of the spectral sacristan.
"That is all," the man said, and March felt in his pocket for a coin
commensurate to the service he had done them; it ought to be something
"No, no," said Stoller, detecting his gesture. "Your money a'n't good."
He put twenty or thirty kreutzers into the hand of the man, who regarded
them with a disappointment none the less cruel because it was so patient.
In France, he would have been insolent; in Italy, he would have frankly
said it was too little; here, he merely looked at the money and whispered
a sad "Danke."
Burnamy and Miss Triscoe rose from the grassy bank outside where they
were sitting, and waited for the elders to get into their two-spanner.
"Oh, have I lost my glove in there?" said Mrs. March, looking at her
hands and such parts of her dress as a glove might cling to.
"Let me go and find it for you," Burnamy entreated.
"Well," she consented, and she added, "If the sacristan has found it,
give him something for me something really handsome, poor fellow."
As Burnamy passed her, she let him see that she had both her gloves, and
her heart yearned upon him for his instant smile of intelligence: some
men would have blundered out that she had the lost glove in her hand. He
came back directly, saying, "No, he didn't find it."
She laughed, and held both gloves up. "No wonder! I had it all the time.
Thank you ever so much."
"How are we going to ride back?" asked Stoller.
Burnamy almost turned pale; Miss Triscoe smiled impenetrably. No one else
spoke, and Mrs. March said, with placid authority, "Oh, I think the way
we came, is best."
"Did that absurd creature," she apostrophized her husband as soon as she
got him alone after their arrival at Pupp's, "think I was going to let
him drive back with Agatha?"
"I wonder," said March, "if that's what Burnamy calls her now?"
"I shall despise him if it isn't."
Burnamy took up his mail to Stoller after the supper which they had eaten
in a silence natural with two men who have been off on a picnic together.
He did not rise from his writing-desk when Burnamy came in, and the young
man did not sit down after putting his letters before him. He said, with
an effort of forcing himself to speak at once, "I have looked through the
papers, and there is something that I think you ought to see."
"What do you mean?" said Stoller.
Burnamy laid down three or four papers opened to pages where certain
articles were strongly circumscribed in ink. The papers varied, but their
editorials did not, in purport at least. Some were grave and some were
gay; one indignantly denounced; another affected an ironical
bewilderment; the third simply had fun with the Hon. Jacob Stoller. They
all, however, treated his letter on the city government of Carlsbad as
the praise of municipal socialism, and the paper which had fun with him
gleefully congratulated the dangerous classes on the accession of the
Honorable Jacob to their ranks.
Stoller read the articles, one after another, with parted lips and
gathering drops of perspiration on his upper lip, while Burnamy waited on
foot. He flung the papers all down at last. "Why, they're a pack of
fools! They don't know what they're talking about! I want city government
carried on on business principles, by the people, for the people. I don't
care what they say! I know I'm right, and I'm going ahead on this line if
it takes all—" The note of defiance died out of his voice at the sight
of Burnamy's pale face. "What's the matter with you?"
"There's nothing the matter with me."
"Do you mean to tell me it is"—he could not bring himself to use the
word—"what they say?"
"I suppose," said Burnamy, with a dry mouth, "it's what you may call
Stoller jumped from his seat. "And you knew it when you let me do it?"
"I supposed you knew what you were about."
"It's a lie!" Stoller advanced upon him, wildly, and Burnamy took a step
"Look out!" shouted Burnamy. "You never asked me anything about it. You
told me what you wanted done, and I did it. How could I believe you were
such an ignoramus as not to know the a b c of the thing you were talking
about?" He added, in cynical contempt, "But you needn't worry. You can
make it right with the managers by spending a little more money than you
expected to spend."
Stoller started as if the word money reminded him of something. "I can
take care of myself, young man. How much do I owe you?"
"Nothing!" said Burnamy, with an effort for grandeur which failed him.
The next morning as the Marches sat over their coffee at the Posthof, he
came dragging himself toward them with such a haggard air that Mrs. March
called, before he reached their table, "Why, Mr. Burnamy, what's the
He smiled miserably. "Oh, I haven't slept very well. May I have my coffee
with you? I want to tell you something; I want you to make me. But I
can't speak till the coffee comes. Fraulein!" he besought a waitress
going off with a tray near them. "Tell Lili, please, to bring me some
He tried to make some talk about the weather, which was rainy, and the
Marches helped him, but the poor endeavor lagged wretchedly in the
interval between the ordering and the coming of the coffee. "Ah, thank
you, Lili," he said, with a humility which confirmed Mrs. March in her
instant belief that he had been offering himself to Miss Triscoe and been
rejected. After gulping his coffee, he turned to her: "I want to say
good-by. I'm going away."
"From Carlsbad?" asked Mrs. March with a keen distress.
The water came into his eyes. "Don't, don't be good to me, Mrs. March! I
can't stand it. But you won't, when you know."
He began to speak of Stoller, first to her, but addressing himself more
and more to the intelligence of March, who let him go on without
question, and laid a restraining hand upon his wife when he saw her about
to prompt him. At the end, "That's all," he said, huskily, and then he
seemed to be waiting for March's comment. He made none, and the young
fellow was forced to ask, "Well, what do you think, Mr. March?"
"What do you think yourself?"
"I think, I behaved badly," said Burnamy, and a movement of protest from
Mrs. March nerved him to add: "I could make out that it was not my
business to tell him what he was doing; but I guess it was; I guess I
ought to have stopped him, or given him a chance to stop himself. I
suppose I might have done it, if he had treated me decently when I turned
up a day late, here; or hadn't acted toward me as if I were a hand in his
buggy-works that had come in an hour after the whistle sounded."
He set his teeth, and an indignant sympathy shone in Mrs. March's eyes;
but her husband only looked the more serious.
He asked gently, "Do you offer that fact as an explanation, or as a
Burnamy laughed forlornly. "It certainly wouldn't justify me. You might
say that it made the case all the worse for me." March forbore to say,
and Burnamy went on. "But I didn't suppose they would be onto him so
quick, or perhaps at all. I thought—if I thought anything—that it would
amuse some of the fellows in the office, who know about those things." He
paused, and in March's continued silence he went on. "The chance was one
in a hundred that anybody else would know where he had brought up."
"But you let him take that chance," March suggested.
"Yes, I let him take it. Oh, you know how mixed all these things are!"
"Of course I didn't think it out at the time. But I don't deny that I had
a satisfaction in the notion of the hornets' nest he was poking his thick
head into. It makes me sick, now, to think I had. I oughtn't to have let
him; he was perfectly innocent in it. After the letter went, I wanted to
tell him, but I couldn't; and then I took the chances too. I don't
believe he could have ever got forward in politics; he's too honest—or
he isn't dishonest in the right way. But that doesn't let me out. I don't
defend myself! I did wrong; I behaved badly. But I've suffered for it.
"I've had a foreboding all the time that it would come to the worst, and
felt like a murderer with his victim when I've been alone with Stoller.
When I could get away from him I could shake it off, and even believe
that it hadn't happened. You can't think what a nightmare it's been!
Well, I've ruined Stoller politically, but I've ruined myself, too. I've
spoiled my own life; I've done what I can never explain to—to the people
I want to have believe in me; I've got to steal away like the thief I am.
Good-by!" He jumped to his feet, and put out his hand to March, and then
to Mrs. March.
"Why, you're not going away now!" she cried, in a daze.
"Yes, I am. I shall leave Carlsbad on the eleven-o'clock train. I don't
think I shall see you again." He clung to her hand. "If you see General
Triscoe—I wish you'd tell them I couldn't—that I had to—that I was
called away suddenly—Good-by!" He pressed her hand and dropped it, and
mixed with the crowd. Then he came suddenly back, with a final appeal to
March: "Should you—do you think I ought to see Stoller, and—and tell
him I don't think I used him fairly?"
"You ought to know—" March began.
But before he could say more, Burnamy said, "You're right," and was off
"Oh, how hard you were with him, my dear!" Mrs. March lamented.
"I wish," he said, "if our boy ever went wrong that some one would be as
true to him as I was to that poor fellow. He condemned himself; and he
was right; he has behaved very badly."
"You always overdo things so, when you act righteously!"
"Oh, yes, I know what you will say. But I should have tempered justice
Her nerves tingled with pity for Burnamy, but in her heart she was glad
that her husband had had strength to side with him against himself, and
she was proud of the forbearance with which he had done it. In their
earlier married life she would have confidently taken the initiative on
all moral questions. She still believed that she was better fitted for
their decision by her Puritan tradition and her New England birth, but
once in a great crisis when it seemed a question of their living, she had
weakened before it, and he, with no such advantages, had somehow met the
issue with courage and conscience. She could not believe he did so by
inspiration, but she had since let him take the brunt of all such issues
and the responsibility. He made no reply, and she said: "I suppose you'll
admit now there was always something peculiar in the poor boy's manner to
He would confess no more than that there ought to have been. "I don't see
how he could stagger through with that load on his conscience. I'm not
sure I like his being able to do so."
She was silent in the misgiving which she shared with him, but she said:
"I wonder how far it has gone with him and Miss Triscoe?"
"Well, from his wanting you to give his message to the general in the
"Don't laugh! It's wicked to laugh! It's heartless!" she cried,
hysterically. "What will he do, poor fellow?"
"I've an idea that he will light on his feet, somehow. But, at any rate,
he's doing the right thing in going to own up to Stoller."
"Oh, Stoller! I care nothing for Stoller! Don't speak to me of Stoller!"
Burnamy fond the Bird of Prey, as he no longer had the heart to call him,
walking up and down in his room like an eagle caught in a trap. He
erected his crest fiercely enough, though, when the young fellow came in
at his loudly shouted, "Herein!"
"What do you want?" he demanded, brutally.
This simplified Burnamy's task, while it made it more loathsome. He
answered not much less brutally, "I want to tell you that I think I used
you badly, that I let you betray yourself, that I feel myself to blame."
He could have added, "Curse you!" without change of tone.
Stoller sneered in a derision that showed his lower teeth like a dog's
when he snarls. "You want to get back!"
"No," said Burnamy, mildly, and with increasing sadness as he spoke. "I
don't want to get back. Nothing would induce me. I'm going away on the
"Well, you're not!" shouted Stoller. "You've lied me into this—"
"Look out!" Burnamy turned white.
"Didn't you lie me into it, if you let me fool myself, as you say?"
Stoller pursued, and Burnamy felt himself weaken through his wrath.
"Well, then, you got to lie me out of it. I been going over the damn
thing, all night—and you can do it for me. I know you can do it," he
gave way in a plea that was almost a whimper. "Look here! You see if you
can't. I'll make it all right with you. I'll pay you whatever you think
is right—whatever you say."
"Oh!" said Burnamy, in otherwise unutterable disgust.
"You kin," Stoller went on, breaking down more and more into his adopted
Hoosier, in the stress of his anxiety. "I know you kin, Mr. Burnamy." He
pushed the paper containing his letter into Burnamy's hands, and pointed
out a succession of marked passages. "There! And here! And this place!
Don't you see how you could make out that it meant something else, or was
just ironical?" He went on to prove how the text might be given the
complexion he wished, and Burnamy saw that he had really thought it not
impossibly out. "I can't put it in writing as well as you; but I've done
all the work, and all you've got to do is to give it some of them turns
of yours. I'll cable the fellows in our office to say I've been
misrepresented, and that my correction is coming. We'll get it into shape
here together, and then I'll cable that. I don't care for the money. And
I'll get our counting-room to see this scoundrel"—he picked up the paper
that had had fun with him—"and fix him all right, so that he'll ask for
a suspension of public opinion, and—You see, don't you?"
The thing did appeal to Burnamy. If it could be done, it would enable him
to make Stoller the reparation he longed to make him more than anything
else in the world. But he heard himself saying, very gently, almost
tenderly, "It might be done, Mr. Stoller. But I couldn't do it. It
wouldn't be honest—for me."
"Yah!" yelled Stoller, and he crushed the paper into a wad and flung it
into Burnamy's face. "Honest, you damn humbug! You let me in for this,
when you knew I didn't mean it, and now you won't help me out because it
a'n't honest! Get out of my room, and get out quick before I—"
He hurled himself toward Burnamy, who straightened himself, with "If you
dare!" He knew that he was right in refusing; but he knew that Stoller
was right, too, and that he had not meant the logic of what he had said
in his letter, and of what Burnamy had let him imply. He braved Stoller's
onset, and he left his presence untouched, but feeling as little a moral
hero as he well could.
General Triscoe woke in the bad humor of an elderly man after a day's
pleasure, and in the self-reproach of a pessimist who has lost his point
of view for a time, and has to work back to it. He began at the belated
breakfast with his daughter when she said, after kissing him gayly, in
the small two-seated bower where they breakfasted at their hotel when
they did not go to the Posthof, "Didn't you have a nice time, yesterday,
She sank into the chair opposite, and beamed at him across the little
iron table, as she lifted the pot to pour out his coffee.
"What do you call a nice time?" he temporized, not quite able to resist
"Well, the kind of time I had."
"Did you get rheumatism from sitting on the grass? I took cold in that
old church, and the tea at that restaurant must have been brewed in a
brass kettle. I suffered all night from it. And that ass from Illinois—"
"Oh, poor papa! I couldn't go with Mr. Stoller alone, but I might have
gone in the two-spanner with him and let you have Mr. or Mrs. March in
"I don't know. Their interest in each other isn't so interesting to other
people as they seem to think."
"Do you feel that way really, papa? Don't you like their being so much in
"At their time of life? Thank you it's bad enough in young people."
The girl did not answer; she appeared altogether occupied in pouring out
her father's coffee.
He tasted it, and then he drank pretty well all of it; but he said, as he
put his cup down, "I don't know what they make this stuff of. I wish I
had a cup of good, honest American coffee."
"Oh, there's nothing like American food!" said his daughter, with so much
conciliation that he looked up sharply.
But whatever he might have been going to say was at least postponed by
the approach of a serving-maid, who brought a note to his daughter. She
blushed a little at sight of it, and then tore it open and read:
"I am going away from Carlsbad, for a fault of my own which forbids me to
look you in the face. If you wish to know the worst of me, ask Mrs.
March. I have no heart to tell you."
Agatha read these mystifying words of Burnamy's several times over in a
silent absorption with them which left her father to look after himself,
and he had poured out a second cup of coffee with his own hand, and was
reaching for the bread beside her before she came slowly back to a sense
of his presence.
"Oh, excuse me, papa," she said, and she gave him the butter. "Here's a
very strange letter from Mr. Burnamy, which I think you'd better see."
She held the note across the table to him, and watched his face as he
After he had read it twice, he turned the sheet over, as people do with
letters that puzzle them, in the vain hope of something explanatory on
the back. Then he looked up and asked: "What do you suppose he's been
"I don't believe he's been doing anything. It's something that Mr.
Stoller's been doing to him."
"I shouldn't infer that from his own words. What makes you think the
trouble is with Stoller?"
"He said—he said yesterday—something about being glad to be through
with him, because he disliked him so much he was always afraid of
wronging him. And that proves that now Mr. Stoller has made him believe
that he's done wrong, and has worked upon him till he does believe it."
"It proves nothing of the kind," said the general, recurring to the note.
After reading it again, he looked keenly at her: "Am I to understand that
you have given him the right to suppose you would want to know the
worst—or the best of him?"
The girl's eyes fell, and she pushed her knife against her plate. She
"Then confound his impudence!" the general broke out. "What business has
he to write to you at all about this?"
"Because he couldn't go away without it!" she returned; and she met her
father's eye courageously. "He had a right to think we were his friends;
and if he has done wrong, or is in disgrace any way, isn't it manly of
him to wish to tell us first himself?"
Her father could not say that it was not. But he could and did say, very
sceptically: "Stuff! Now, see here, Agatha: what are you going to do?"
"I'm going to see Mrs. March, and then—"
"You mustn't do anything of the kind, my dear," said her father, gently.
"You've no right to give yourself away to that romantic old goose." He
put up his hand to interrupt her protest. "This thing has got to be gone
to the bottom of. But you're not to do it. I will see March myself. We
must consider your dignity in this matter—and mine. And you may as well
understand that I'm not going to have any nonsense. It's got to be
managed so that it can't be supposed we're anxious about it, one way or
the other, or that he was authorized to write to you in this way—"
"No, no! He oughtn't to have done so. He was to blame. He couldn't have
written to you, though, papa—"
"Well, I don't know why. But that's no reason why we should let it be
understood that he has written to you. I will see March; and I will
manage to see his wife, too. I shall probably find them in the
reading-room at Pupp's, and—"
The Marches were in fact just coming in from their breakfast at the
Posthof, and he met them at the door of Pupp's, where they all sat down
on one of the iron settees of the piazza, and began to ask one another
questions of their minds about the pleasure of the day before, and to
beat about the bush where Burnamy lurked in their common consciousness.
Mrs. March was not able to keep long from starting him. "You knew," she
said, "that Mr. Burnamy had left us?"
"Left! Why?" asked the general.
She was a woman of resource, but in a case like this she found it best to
trust her husband's poverty of invention. She looked at him, and he
answered for her with a promptness that made her quake at first, but
finally seemed the only thing, if not the best thing: "He's had some
trouble with Stoller." He went on to tell the general just what the
At the end the general grunted as from an uncertain mind. "You think he's
"I think he's behaved foolishly—youthfully. But I can understand how
strongly he was tempted. He could say that he was not authorized to stop
Stoller in his mad career."
At this Mrs. March put her hand through her husband's arm.
"I'm not so sure about that," said the general.
March added: "Since I saw him this morning, I've heard something that
disposes me to look at his performance in a friendlier light. It's
something that Stoller told me himself; to heighten my sense of Burnamy's
wickedness. He seems to have felt that I ought to know what a serpent I
was cherishing in my bosom," and he gave Triscoe the facts of Burnamy's
injurious refusal to help Stoller put a false complexion on the opinions
he had allowed him ignorantly to express.
The general grunted again. "Of course he had to refuse, and he has
behaved like a gentleman so far. But that doesn't justify him in having
let Stoller get himself into the scrape."
"No," said March. "It's a tough nut for the casuist to try his tooth on.
And I must say I feel sorry for Stoller."
Mrs. March plucked her hand from his arm. "I don't, one bit. He was
thoroughly selfish from first to last. He has got just what he deserved."
"Ah, very likely," said her husband. "The question is about Burnamy's
part in giving him his deserts; he had to leave him to them, of course."
The general fixed her with the impenetrable glitter of his eye-glasses,
and left the subject as of no concern to him. "I believe," he said,
rising, "I'll have a look at some of your papers," and he went into the
"Now," said Mrs. March, "he will go home and poison that poor girl's
mind. And, you will have yourself to thank for prejudicing him against
"Then why didn't you do it yourself, my dear?" he teased; but he was
really too sorry for the whole affair, which he nevertheless enjoyed as
an ethical problem.
The general looked so little at the papers that before March went off for
his morning walk he saw him come out of the reading-room and take his way
down the Alte Wiese. He went directly back to his daughter, and reported
Burnamy's behavior with entire exactness. He dwelt upon his making the
best of a bad business in refusing to help Stoller out of it,
dishonorably and mendaciously; but he did not conceal that it was a bad
"Now, you know all about it," he said at the end, "and I leave the whole
thing to you. If you prefer, you can see Mrs. March. I don't know but I'd
rather you'd satisfy yourself—"
"I will not see Mrs. March. Do you think I would go back of you in that
way? I am satisfied now."
Instead of Burnamy, Mrs. Adding and her son now breakfasted with the
Marches at the Posthof, and the boy was with March throughout the day a
good deal. He rectified his impressions of life in Carlsbad by March's
greater wisdom and experience, and did his best to anticipate his
opinions and conform to his conclusions. This was not easy, for sometimes
he could not conceal from himself, that March's opinions were whimsical,
and his conclusions fantastic; and he could not always conceal from March
that he was matching them with Kenby's on some points, and suffering from
their divergence. He came to join the sage in his early visit to the
springs, and they walked up and down talking; and they went off together
on long strolls in which Rose was proud to bear him company. He was
patient of the absences from which he was often answered, and he learned
to distinguish between the earnest and the irony of which March's replies
seemed to be mixed. He examined him upon many features of German
civilization, but chiefly upon the treatment of women in it; and upon
this his philosopher was less satisfactory than he could have wished him
to be. He tried to excuse his trifling as an escape from the painful
stress of questions which he found so afflicting himself; but in the
matter of the woman-and-dog teams, this was not easy. March owned that
the notion of their being yokemates was shocking; but he urged that it
was a stage of evolution, and a distinct advance upon the time when women
dragged the carts without the help of the dogs; and that the time might
not be far distant when the dogs would drag the carts without the help of
Rose surmised a joke, and he tried to enjoy it, but inwardly he was
troubled by his friend's apparent acceptance of unjust things on their
picturesque side. Once as they were sauntering homeward by the brink of
the turbid Eger, they came to a man lying on the grass with a pipe in his
mouth, and lazily watching from under his fallen lids the cows grazing by
the river-side, while in a field of scraggy wheat a file of women were
reaping a belated harvest with sickles, bending wearily over to clutch
the stems together and cut them with their hooked blades. "Ah,
delightful!" March took off his hat as if to salute the pleasant sight.
"But don't you think, Mr. March," the boy ventured, "that the man had
better be cutting the wheat, and letting the women watch the cows?"
"Well, I don't know. There are more of them; and he wouldn't be half so
graceful as they are, with that flow of their garments, and the sway of
their aching backs." The boy smiled sadly, and March put his hand on his
shoulder as they walked on. "You find a lot of things in Europe that need
putting right, don't you, Rose?"
"Yes; I know it's silly."
"Well, I'm not sure. But I'm afraid it's useless. You see, these old
customs go such a way back, and are so grounded in conditions. We think
they might be changed, if those who rule could be got to see how cruel
and ugly they are; but probably they couldn't. I'm afraid that the
Emperor of Austria himself couldn't change them, in his sovereign
plenitude of power. The Emperor is only an old custom too, and he's as
much grounded in the conditions as any." This was the serious way Rose
felt that March ought always to talk; and he was too much grieved to
laugh when he went on. "The women have so much of the hard work to do,
over here, because the emperors need the men for their armies. They
couldn't let their men cut wheat unless it was for their officers'
horses, in the field of some peasant whom it would ruin."
If Mrs. March was by she would not allow him to work these paradoxes for
the boy's confusion. She said the child adored him, and it was a
sacrilege to play with his veneration. She always interfered to save him,
but with so little logic though so much justice that Rose suffered a
humiliation from her championship, and was obliged from a sense of
self-respect to side with the mocker. She understood this, and
magnanimously urged it as another reason why her husband should not
trifle with Rose's ideal of him; to make his mother laugh at him was
"Oh, I'm not his only ideal," March protested. "He adores Kenby too, and
every now and then he brings me to book with a text from Kenby's gospel."
Mrs. March caught her breath. "Kenby! Do you really think, then, that
"Oh, hold on, now! It isn't a question of Mrs. Adding; and I don't say
Rose had an eye on poor old Kenby as a step-father. I merely want you to
understand that I'm the object of a divided worship, and that when I'm
off duty as an ideal I don't see why I shouldn't have the fun of making
Mrs. Adding laugh. You can't pretend she isn't wrapped up in the boy.
You've said that yourself."
"Yes, she's wrapped up in him; she'd give her life for him; but she is so
light. I didn't suppose she was so light; but it's borne in upon me more
They were constantly seeing Rose and his mother, in the sort of abeyance
the Triscoes had fallen into. One afternoon the Addings came to Mrs.
March's room to look from her windows at a parade of bicyclers' clubs
from the neighboring towns. The spectacle prospered through its first
half-hour, with the charm which German sentiment and ingenuity, are able
to lend even a bicycle parade. The wheelmen and wheelwomen filed by on
machines wreathed with flowers and ribbons, and decked with streaming
banners. Here and there one sat under a moving arch of blossoms, or in a
bower of leaves and petals, and they were all gay with their club
costumes and insignia. In the height of the display a sudden mountain
shower gathered and broke upon them. They braved it till it became a
drenching down-pour; then they leaped from their machines and fled to any
shelter they could find, under trees and in doorways. The men used their
greater agility to get the best places, and kept them; the women made no
appeal for them by word or look, but took the rain in the open as if they
expected nothing else.
Rose watched the scene with a silent intensity which March interpreted.
"There's your chance, Rose. Why don't you go down and rebuke those
Rose blushed and shrank away without answer, and Mrs. March promptly
attacked her husband in his behalf. "Why don't you go and rebuke them
"Well, for one thing, there isn't any conversation in my phrase-book
Between an indignant American Herr and a Party of German Wheelmen who
have taken Shelter from the Rain and are keeping the Wheelwomen out in
the Wet." Mrs. Adding shrieked her delight, and he was flattered into
going on. "For another thing, I think it's very well for you ladies to
realize from an object-lesson of this sort what spoiled children of our
civilization you are. It ought to make you grateful for your privileges."
"There is something in that," Mrs. Adding joyfully consented.
"Oh, there is no civilization but ours," said Mrs. March, in a burst of
vindictive patriotism. "I am more and more convinced of it the longer I
stay in Europe."
"Perhaps that's why we like to stay so long in Europe; it strengthens us
in the conviction that America is the only civilized country in the
world," said March.
The shower passed as quickly as it had gathered, and the band which it
had silenced for a moment burst forth again in the music which fills the
Carlsbad day from dawn till dusk. Just now, it began to play a pot pourri
of American airs; at the end some unseen Americans under the trees below
clapped and cheered.
"That was opportune of the band," said March. "It must have been a
telepathic impulse from our patriotism in the director. But a pot pourri
of American airs is like that tablet dedicating the American Park up here
on the Schlossberg, which is signed by six Jews and one Irishman. The
only thing in this medley that's the least characteristic or original is
Dixie; and I'm glad the South has brought us back into the Union."
"You don't know one note from another, my dear," said his wife.
"I know the 'Washington Post.'"
"And don't you call that American?"
"Yes, if Sousa is an American name; I should have thought it was
"Now that sounds a little too much like General Triscoe's pessimism,"
said Mrs. March; and she added: "But whether we have any national
melodies or not, we don't poke women out in the rain and keep them
"No, we certainly don't," he assented, with such a well-studied effect of
yielding to superior logic that Mrs. Adding screamed for joy.
The boy had stolen out of the room, and he said, "I hope Rose isn't
acting on my suggestion?"
"I hate to have you tease him, dearest," his wife interposed.
"Oh, no," the mother said, laughing still, but with a note of tenderness
in her laugh, which dropped at last to a sigh. "He's too much afraid of
lese-majesty, for that. But I dare say he couldn't stand the sight. He's
"He's beautiful!" said Mrs. March.
"He's good," the mother admitted. "As good as the day's long. He's never
given me a moment's trouble—but he troubles me. If you can understand!"
"Oh, I do understand!" Mrs. March returned. "By his innocence, you mean.
That is the worst of children. Their innocence breaks our hearts and
makes us feel ourselves such dreadful old things."
"His innocence, yes," pursued Mrs. Adding, "and his ideals." She began to
laugh again. "He may have gone off for a season of meditation and prayer
over the misbehavior of these bicyclers. His mind is turning that way a
good deal lately. It's only fair to tell you, Mr. March, that he seems to
be giving up his notion of being an editor. You mustn't be disappointed."
"I shall be sorry," said the editor. "But now that you mention it, I
think I have noticed that Rose seems rather more indifferent to
periodical literature. I supposed he might simply have exhausted his
questions—or my answers."
"No; it goes deeper than that. I think it's Europe that's turned his mind
in the direction of reform. At any rate he thinks now he will be a
"Really! What kind of one? Not religious, I hope?"
"No. His reform has a religious basis, but its objects are social. I
don't make it out, exactly; but I shall, as soon as Rose does. He tells
me everything, and sometimes I don't feel equal to it, spiritually or
"Don't laugh at him, Mrs. Adding!" Mrs. March entreated.
"Oh, he doesn't mind my laughing," said the mother, gayly. Rose came
shyly back into the room, and she said, "Well, did you rebuke those bad
bicyclers?" and she laughed again.
"They're only a custom, too, Rose,", said March, tenderly. "Like the man
resting while the women worked, and the Emperor, and all the rest of it."
"Oh, yes, I know," the boy returned.
"They ride modern machines, but they live in the tenth century. That's
what we're always forgetting when we come to Europe and see these
barbarians enjoying all our up-to-date improvements."
"There, doesn't that console you?" asked his mother, and she took him away
with her, laughing back from the door. "I don't believe it does, a bit!"
"I don't believe she understands the child," said Mrs. March. "She is
very light, don't you think? I don't know, after all, whether it wouldn't
be a good thing for her to marry Kenby. She is very easygoing, and she
will be sure to marry somebody."
She had fallen into a tone of musing censure, and he said, "You might put
these ideas to her."
With the passage of the days and weeks, the strange faces which had
familiarized themselves at the springs disappeared; even some of those
which had become the faces of acquaintance began to go. In the
diminishing crowd the smile of Otterson was no longer to be seen; the
sad, severe visage of Major Eltwin, who seemed never to have quite got
his bearings after his error with General Triscoe, seldom showed itself.
The Triscoes themselves kept out of the Marches' way, or they fancied so;
Mrs. Adding and Rose alone remained of their daily encounter.
It was full summer, as it is everywhere in mid-August, but at Carlsbad
the sun was so late getting up over the hills that as people went to
their breakfasts at the cafes up the valley of the Tepl they found him
looking very obliquely into it at eight o'clock in the morning. The
yellow leaves were thicker about the feet of the trees, and the grass was
silvery gray with the belated dews. The breakfasters were fewer than they
had been, and there were more little barefooted boys and girls with cups
of red raspberries which they offered to the passers with cries of
"Himbeeren! Himbeeren!" plaintive as the notes of birds left songless by
the receding summer.
March was forbidden the fruit, but his wife and Mrs. Adding bought
recklessly of it, and ate it under his eyes with their coffee and bread,
pouring over it pots of clotted cream that the 'schone' Lili brought
them. Rose pretended an indifference to it, which his mother betrayed was
a sacrifice in behalf of March's inability.
Lili's delays in coming to be paid had been such that the Marches now
tried to pay her when she brought their breakfast, but they sometimes
forgot, and then they caught her whenever she came near them. In this
event she liked to coquet with their impatience; she would lean against
their table, and say: "Oh, no. You stay a little. It is so nice." One day
after such an entreaty, she said, "The queen is here, this morning."
Mrs. March started, in the hope of highhotes. "The queen!"
"Yes; the young lady. Mr. Burnamy was saying she was a queen. She is
there with her father." She nodded in the direction of a distant corner,
and the Marches knew that she meant Miss Triscoe and the general. "She is
not seeming so gayly as she was being."
March smiled. "We are none of us so gayly as we were being, Lili. The
summer is going."
"But Mr. Burnamy will be returning, not true?" the girl asked, resting
her tray on the corner of the table.
"No, I'm afraid he won't," March returned sadly.
"He was very good. He was paying the proprietor for the dishes that
Augusta did break when she was falling down. He was paying before he went
away, when he was knowing that the proprietor would make Augusta to pay."
"Ah!" said March, and his wife said, "That was like him!" and she eagerly
explained to Mrs. Adding how good and great Burnamy had been in this
characteristic instance, while Lili waited with the tray to add some
pathetic facts about Augusta's poverty and gratitude. "I think Miss
Triscoe ought to know it. There goes the wretch, now!" she broke off.
"Don't look at him!" She set her husband the example of averting his face
from the sight of Stoller sullenly pacing up the middle aisle of the
grove, and looking to the right and left for a vacant table. "Ugh! I hope
he won't be able to find a single place."
Mrs. Adding gave one of her pealing laughs, while Rose watched March's
face with grave sympathy. "He certainly doesn't deserve one. Don't let us
keep you from offering Miss Triscoe any consolation you can." They got
up, and the boy gathered up the gloves, umbrella, and handkerchief which
the ladies let drop from their laps.
"Have you been telling?" March asked his wife.
"Have I told you anything?" she demanded of Mrs. Adding in turn.
"Anything that you didn't as good as know, already?"
"Not a syllable!" Mrs. Adding replied in high delight. "Come, Rose!"
"Well, I suppose there's no use saying anything," said March, after she
"She had guessed everything, without my telling her," said his wife.
"Well-no. I did tell her that part, but that was nothing. It was about
Burnamy and Agatha that she knew. She saw it from the first."
"I should have thought she would have enough to do to look after poor old
"I'm not sure, after all, that she cares for him. If she doesn't, she
oughtn't to let him write to her. Aren't you going over to speak to the
"No, certainly not. I'm going back to the hotel. There ought to be some
steamer letters this morning. Here we are, worrying about these strangers
all the time, and we never give a thought to our own children on the
other side of the ocean."
"I worry about them, too," said the mother, fondly. "Though there is
nothing to worry about," she added.
"It's our duty to worry," he insisted.
At the hotel the portier gave them four letters. There was one from each
of their children: one very buoyant, not to say boisterous, from the
daughter, celebrating her happiness in her husband, and the loveliness of
Chicago as a summer city ("You would think she was born out there!"
sighed her mother); and one from the son, boasting his well-being in
spite of the heat they were having ("And just think how cool it is here!"
his mother upbraided herself), and the prosperity of 'Every Other Week'.
There was a line from Fulkerson, praising the boy's editorial instinct,
and ironically proposing March's resignation in his favor.
"I do believe we could stay all winter, just as well as not," said Mrs.
March, proudly. "What does 'Burnamy say?"
"How do you know it's from him?"
"Because you've been keeping your hand on it! Give it here."
"When I've read it."
The letter was dated at Ansbach, in Germany, and dealt, except for some
messages of affection to Mrs. March, with a scheme for a paper which
Burnamy wished to write on Kaspar Hauser, if March thought he could use
it in 'Every Other Week'. He had come upon a book about that hapless
foundling in Nuremberg, and after looking up all his traces there he had
gone on to Ansbach, where Kaspar Hauser met his death so pathetically.
Burnamy said he could not give any notion of the enchantment of
Nuremberg; but he besought March, if he was going to the Tyrol for his
after-cure, not to fail staying a day or so in the wonderful place. He
thought March would enjoy Ansbach too, in its way.
"And, not a word—not a syllable—about Miss Triscoe!" cried Mrs. March.
"Shall you take his paper?"
"It would be serving him right, if I refused it, wouldn't it?"
They never knew what it cost Burnamy to keep her name out of his letter,
or by what an effort of the will he forbade himself even to tell of his
parting interview with Stoller. He had recovered from his remorse for
letting Stoller give himself away; he was still sorry for that, but he no
longer suffered; yet he had not reached the psychological moment when he
could celebrate his final virtue in the matter. He was glad he had been
able to hold out against the temptation to retrieve himself by another
wrong; but he was humbly glad, and he felt that until happier chance
brought him and his friends together he must leave them to their merciful
conjectures. He was young, and he took the chance, with an aching heart.
If he had been older, he might not have taken it.
The birthday of the Emperor comes conveniently, in late August, in the
good weather which is pretty sure to fall then, if ever in the Austrian
summer. For a week past, at Carlsbad, the workmen had been building a
scaffolding for the illumination in the woods on a height overlooking the
town, and making unobtrusive preparations at points within it.
The day was important as the last of March's cure, and its pleasures
began for him by a renewal of his acquaintance in its first kindliness
with the Eltwins. He had met them so seldom that at one time he thought
they must have gone away, but now after his first cup he saw the quiet,
sad old pair, sitting together on a bench in the Stadt Park, and he asked
leave to sit down with them till it was time for the next. Eltwin said
that this was their last day, too; and explained that his wife always
came with him to the springs, while he took the waters.
"Well," he apologized, "we're all that's left, and I suppose we like to
keep together." He paused, and at the look in March's face he suddenly
went on. "I haven't been well for three or four years; but I always
fought against coming out here, when the doctors wanted me to. I said I
couldn't leave home; and, I don't suppose I ever should. But my home left
As he spoke his wife shrank tenderly near him, and March saw her steal
her withered hand into his.
"We'd had a large family, but they'd all died off, with one thing or
another, and here in the spring we lost our last daughter. Seemed
perfectly well, and all at once she died; heart-failure, they called it.
It broke me up, and mother, here, got at me to go. And so we're here."
His voice trembled; and his eyes softened; then they flashed up, and
March heard him add, in a tone that astonished him less when he looked
round and saw General Triscoe advancing toward them, "I don't know what
it is always makes me want to kick that man."
The general lifted his hat to their group, and hoped that Mrs. Eltwin was
well, and Major Eltwin better. He did not notice their replies, but said
to March, "The ladies are waiting for you in Pupp's readingroom, to go
with them to the Posthof for breakfast."
"Aren't you going, too?" asked March.
"No, thank you," said the general, as if it were much finer not; "I shall
breakfast at our pension." He strolled off with the air of a man who has
done more than his duty.
"I don't suppose I ought to feel that way," said Eltwin, with a remorse
which March suspected a reproachful pressure of his wife's hand had
prompted in him. "I reckon he means well."
"Well, I don't know," March said, with a candor he could not wholly
On his way to the hotel he fancied mocking his wife for her interest in
the romantic woes of her lovers, in a world where there was such real
pathos as these poor old people's; but in the company of Miss Triscoe he
could not give himself this pleasure. He tried to amuse her on the way
from Pupp's, with the doubt he always felt in passing the Cafe
Sans-Souci, whether he should live to reach the Posthof where he meant to
breakfast. She said, "Poor Mr. March!" and laughed inattentively; when he
went on to philosophize the commonness of the sparse company always
observable at the Sans-Souci as a just effect of its Laodicean situation
between Pupp's and the Posthof, the girl sighed absently, and his wife
frowned at him.
The flower-woman at the gate of her garden had now only autumnal blooms
for sale in the vases which flanked the entrance; the windrows of the
rowen, left steeping in the dews overnight, exhaled a faint fragrance; a
poor remnant of the midsummer multitudes trailed itself along to the
various cafes of the valley, its pink paper bags of bread rustling like
sere foliage as it moved.
At the Posthof the 'schone' Lili alone was as gay, as in the prime of
July. She played archly about the guests she welcomed to a table in a
sunny spot in the gallery. "You are tired of Carlsbad?" she said
caressingly to Miss Triscoe, as she put her breakfast before her.
"Not of the Posthof," said the girl, listlessly.
"Posthof, and very little Lili?" She showed, with one forefinger on
another, how very little she was.
Miss Triscoe laughed, not cheerily, and Lili said to Mrs. March, with
abrupt seriousness, "Augusta was finding a handkerchief under the table,
and she was washing it and ironing it before she did bring it. I have
scolded her, and I have made her give it to me."
She took from under her apron a man's handkerchief, which she offered to
Mrs. March. It bore, as she saw Miss Triscoe saw, the initials L. J. B.
But, "Whose can it be?" they asked each other.
"Why, Burnamy's," said March; and Lili's eyes danced. "Give it here!"
His wife caught it farther away. "No, I'm going to see whose it is,
first; if it's his, I'll send it to him myself."
She tried to put it into the pocket which was not in her dress by sliding
it down her lap; then she handed it to the girl, who took it with a
careless air, but kept it after a like failure to pocket it.
Mrs. March had come out in her India-rubber sandals, but for once in
Carlsbad the weather was too dry for them, and she had taken them off and
was holding them in her lap. They fell to the ground when she now rose
from breakfast, and she stooped to pick them up. Miss Triscoe was too
quick for her.
"Oh, let me carry them for you!" she entreated, and after a tender
struggle she succeed in enslaving herself to them, and went away wearing
them through the heel-bands like manacles on her wrist. She was not the
kind of girl to offer such pretty devotions, and Mrs. March was not the
kind of woman to suffer them; but they played the comedy through, and let
March go off for his last hill-climb with the promise to meet him in the
Stadt Park when he came to the Kurhaus for his last mineral bath.
Mrs. March in the mean time went about some final shopping, and invited
the girl's advice with a fondness which did not prevent her rejecting it
in every case, with Miss Triscoe's eager approval. In the Stadt Park they
sat down and talked; from time to time Mrs. March made polite feints of
recovering her sandals, but the girl kept them with increased effusion.
When they rose, and strolled away from the bench where they had been
sitting, they seemed to be followed. They looked round and saw no one
more alarming than a very severe-looking old gentleman, whose hat brim in
spite of his severity was limp with much lifting, as all Austrian hat
brims are. He touched it, and saying haughtily in German, "Something left
lying," passed on.
They stared at each other; then, as women do, they glanced down at their
skirts to see if there was anything amiss with them, and Miss Triscoe
perceived her hands empty of Mrs. March's sandals and of Burnamy's
"Oh, I put it in one of the toes!" she lamented, and she fled back to
their bench, alarming in her course the fears of a gendarme for the
public security, and putting a baby in its nurse's arms into such doubts
of its personal safety that it burst into a desolate cry. She laughed
breathlessly as she rejoined Mrs. March. "That comes of having no pocket;
I didn't suppose I could forget your sandals, Mrs. March! Wasn't it
"It's one of those things," Mrs. March said to her husband afterwards,
"that they can always laugh over together."
"They? And what about Burnamy's behavior to Stoller?"
"Oh, I don't call that anything but what will come right. Of course he
can make it up to him somehow. And I regard his refusal to do wrong when
Stoller wanted him to as quite wiping out the first offence."
"Well, my dear, you have burnt your ships behind you. My only hope is
that when we leave here tomorrow, her pessimistic papa's poison will
neutralize yours somehow."
One of the pleasantest incidents of March's sojourn in Carlsbad was his
introduction to the manager of the municipal theatre by a common friend
who explained the editor in such terms to the manager that he conceived
of him as a brother artist. This led to much bowing and smiling from the
manager when the Marches met him in the street, or in their frequent
visits to the theatre, with which March felt that it might well have
ended, and still been far beyond his desert. He had not thought of going
to the opera on the Emperor's birthnight, but after dinner a box came
from the manager, and Mrs. March agreed with him that they could not in
decency accept so great a favor. At the same time she argued that they
could not in decency refuse it, and that to show their sense of the
pleasure done them, they must adorn their box with all the beauty and
distinction possible; in other words, she said they must ask Miss Triscoe
and her father.
"And why not Major Eltwin and his wife? Or Mrs. Adding and Rose?"
She begged him, simply in his own interest, not to be foolish; and they
went early, so as to be in their box when their guests came. The foyer of
the theatre was banked with flowers, and against a curtain of evergreens
stood a high-pedestalled bust of the paternal Caesar, with whose
side-whiskers a laurel crown comported itself as well as it could. At the
foot of the grand staircase leading to the boxes the manager stood in
evening dress, receiving his friends and their felicitations upon the
honor which the theatre was sure to do itself on an occasion so august.
The Marches were so cordial in their prophecies that the manager yielded
to an artist's impulse and begged his fellow-artist to do him the
pleasure of coming behind the scenes between the acts of the opera; he
bowed a heart-felt regret to Mrs. March that he could not make the
invitation include her, and hoped that she would not be too lonely while
her husband was gone.
She explained that they had asked friends, and she should not be alone,
and then he entreated March to bring any gentleman who was his guest with
him. On the way up to their box, she pressed his arm as she used in their
young married days, and asked him if it was not perfect. "I wish we were
going to have it all to ourselves; no one else can appreciate the whole
situation. Do you think we have made a mistake in having the Triscoes?"
"We!" he retorted. "Oh, that's good! I'm going to shirk him, when it
comes to going behind the scenes."
"No, no, dearest," she entreated. "Snubbing will only make it worse. We
must stand it to the bitter end, now."
The curtain rose upon another laurelled bust of the Emperor, with a
chorus of men formed on either side, who broke into the grave and noble
strains of the Austrian Hymn, while every one stood. Then the curtain
fell again, and in the interval before the opera could begin, General
Triscoe and his daughter came in.
Mrs. March took the splendor in which the girl appeared as a tribute to
her hospitality. She had hitherto been a little disappointed of the open
homage to American girlhood which her readings of international romance
had taught her to expect in Europe, but now her patriotic vanity feasted
full. Fat highhotes of her own sex levelled their lorgnettes at Miss
Triscoe all around the horseshoe, with critical glances which fell
blunted from her complexion and costume; the house was brilliant with the
military uniforms, which we have not yet to mingle with our unrivalled
millinery, and the ardent gaze of the young officers dwelt on the perfect
mould of her girlish arms and neck, and the winning lines of her face.
The girl's eyes shone with a joyful excitement, and her little head,
defined by its dark hair, trembled as she slowly turned it from side to
side, after she removed the airy scarf which had covered it. Her father,
in evening dress, looked the Third Emperor complaisant to a civil
occasion, and took a chair in the front of the box without resistance;
and the ladies disputed which should yield the best place to the other,
till Miss Triscoe forced Mrs. March fondly into it for the first act at
The piece had to be cut a good deal to give people time for the
illuminations afterwards; but as it was it gave scope to the actress who,
'als Gast' from a Viennese theatre, was the chief figure in it. She
merited the distinction by the art which still lingered, deeply embedded
in her massive balk, but never wholly obscured.
"That is grand, isn't it?" said March, following one of the tremendous
strokes by which she overcame her physical disadvantages. "It's fine to
see how her art can undo, for one splendid instant, the work of all those
steins of beer, those illimitable licks of sausage, those boundless
fields of cabbage. But it's rather pathetic."
"It's disgusting," said his wife; and at this General Triscoe, who had
been watching the actress through his lorgnette, said, as if his
contrary-mindedness were irresistibly invoked:
"Well, I don't know. It's amusing. Do you suppose we shall see her when
we go behind, March?"
He still professed a desire to do so when the curtain fell, and they
hurried to the rear door of the theatre. It was slightly ajar, and they
pulled it wide open, with the eagerness of their age and nation, and
began to mount the stairs leading up from it between rows of painted
dancing-girls, who had come out for a breath of air, and who pressed
themselves against the walls to make room for the intruders. With their
rouged faces, and the stare of their glassy eyes intensified by the
coloring of their brows and lashes, they were like painted statues, as
they stood there with their crimsoned lips parted in astonished smiles.
"This is rather weird," said March, faltering at the sight. "I wonder if
we might ask these young ladies where to go?" General Triscoe made no
answer, and was apparently no more prepared than himself to accost the
files of danseuses, when they were themselves accosted by an angry voice
from the head of the stairs with a demand for their business. The voice
belonged to a gendarme, who descended toward them and seemed as deeply
scandalized at their appearance as they could have been at that of the
March explained, in his ineffective German, with every effect of
improbability, that they were there by appointment of the manager, and
wished to find his room.
The gendarme would not or could not make anything out of it. He pressed
down upon them, and laying a rude hand on a shoulder of either, began to
force them back to the door. The mild nature of the editor might have
yielded to his violence, but the martial spirit of General Triscoe was
roused. He shrugged the gendarme's hand from his shoulder, and with a
voice as furious as his own required him, in English, to say what the
devil he meant. The gendarme rejoined with equal heat in German; the
general's tone rose in anger; the dancing-girls emitted some little
shrieks of alarm, and fled noisily up the stairs. From time to time March
interposed with a word of the German which had mostly deserted him in his
hour of need; but if it had been a flow of intelligible expostulation, it
would have had no effect upon the disputants. They grew more outrageous,
till the manager himself, appeared at the head of the stairs, and
extended an arresting hand over the hubbub. As soon as the situation
clarified itself he hurried down to his visitors with a polite roar of
apology and rescued them from the gendarme, and led them up to his room
and forced them into arm-chairs with a rapidity of reparation which did
not exhaust itself till he had entreated them with every circumstance of
civility to excuse an incident so mortifying to him. But with all his
haste he lost so much time in this that he had little left to show them
through the theatre, and their presentation to the prima donna was
reduced to the obeisances with which they met and parted as she went upon
the stage at the lifting of the curtain. In the lack of a common language
this was perhaps as well as a longer interview; and nothing could have
been more honorable than their dismissal at the hands of the gendarme who
had received them so stormily. He opened the door for them, and stood
with his fingers to his cap saluting, in the effect of being a whole file
At the same moment Burnamy bowed himself out of the box where he had been
sitting with the ladies during the absence of the gentlemen. He had
knocked at the door almost as soon as they disappeared, and if he did not
fully share the consternation which his presence caused, he looked so
frightened that Mrs. March reserved the censure which the sight of him
inspired, and in default of other inspiration treated his coming simply
as a surprise. She shook hands with him, and then she asked him to sit
down, and listened to his explanation that he had come back to Carlsbad
to write up the birthnight festivities, on an order from the Paris-New
York Chronicle; that he had seen them in the box and had ventured to took
in. He was pale, and so discomposed that the heart of justice was
softened more and more in Mrs. March's breast, and she left him to the
talk that sprang up, by an admirable effect of tact in the young lady,
between him and Miss Triscoe.
After all, she decided, there was nothing criminal in his being in
Carlsbad, and possibly in the last analysis there was nothing so very
wicked in his being in her box. One might say that it was not very nice
of him after he had gone away under such a cloud; but on the other hand
it was nice, though in a different way, if he longed so much to see Miss
Triscoe that he could not help coming. It was altogether in his favor
that he was so agitated, though he was momently becoming less agitated;
the young people were beginning to laugh at the notion of Mr. March and
General Triscoe going behind the scenes. Burnamy said he envied them the
chance; and added, not very relevantly, that he had come from Baireuth,
where he had seen the last of the Wagner performances. He said he was
going back to Baireuth, but not to Ansbach again, where he had finished
looking up that Kaspar Hauser business. He seemed to think Mrs. March
would know about it, and she could not help saying; Oh, yes, Mr. March
was so much interested. She wondered if she ought to tell him about his
handkerchief; but she remembered in time that she had left it in Miss
Triscoe's keeping. She wondered if the girl realized how handsome he was.
He was extremely handsome, in his black evening dress, with his Tuxedo,
and the pallor of his face repeated in his expanse of shirt front.
At the bell for the rising of the curtain he rose too, and took their
offered hands. In offering hers Mrs. March asked if he would not stay and
speak with Mr. March and the general; and now for the first time he
recognized anything clandestine in his visit. He laughed nervously, and
said, "No, thank you!" and shut himself out.
"We must tell them," said Mrs. March, rather interrogatively, and she was
glad that the girl answered with a note of indignation.
"Why, certainly, Mrs. March."
They could not tell them at once, for the second act had begun when March
and the general came back; and after the opera was over and they got out
into the crowded street there was no chance, for the general was obliged
to offer his arm to Mrs. March, while her husband followed with his
The facades of the theatre and of the hotels were outlined with thickly
set little lamps, which beaded the arches of the bridges spanning the
Tepl, and lighted the casements and portals of the shops. High above all,
against the curtain of black woodland on the mountain where its skeleton
had been growing for days, glittered the colossal effigy of the
doubleheaded eagle of Austria, crowned with the tiara of the Holy Roman
Empire; in the reflected splendor of its myriad lamps the pale Christ
looked down from the mountain opposite upon the surging multitudes in the
streets and on the bridges.
They were most amiable multitudes, March thought, and they responded
docilely to the entreaties of the policemen who stood on the steps of the
bridges, and divided their encountering currents with patient appeals of
"Bitte schon! Bitte schon!" He laughed to think of a New York cop saying
"Please prettily! Please prettily!" to a New York crowd which he wished
to have go this way or that, and then he burned with shame to think how
far our manners were from civilization, wherever our heads and hearts
might be, when he heard a voice at his elbow:
"A punch with a club would start some of these fellows along quicker."
It was Stoller, and March turned from him to lose his disgust in the
sudden terror of perceiving that Miss Triscoe was no longer at his side.
Neither could he see his wife and General Triscoe, and he began to push
frantically about in the crowd looking for the girl. He had an
interminable five or ten minutes in his vain search, and he was going to
call out to her by name, when Burnamy saved him from the hopeless
absurdity by elbowing his way to him with Miss. Triscoe on his arm.
"Here she is, Mr. March," he said, as if there were nothing strange in
his having been there to find her; in fact he had followed them all from
the theatre, and at the moment he saw the party separated, and Miss
Triscoe carried off helpless in the human stream, had plunged in and
rescued her. Before March could formulate any question in his
bewilderment, Burnamy was gone again; the girl offered no explanation for
him, and March had not yet decided to ask any when he caught sight of his
wife and General Triscoe standing tiptoe in a doorway and craning their
necks upward and forward to scan the crowd in search of him and his
charge. Then he looked round at her and opened his lips to express the
astonishment that filled him, when he was aware of an ominous shining of
her eyes and trembling of her hand on his arm.
She pressed his arm nervously, and he understood her to beg him to
forbear at once all question of her and all comment on Burnamy's presence
to her father.
It would not have been just the time for either. Not only Mrs. March was
with the general, but Mrs. Adding also; she had called to them from that
place, where she was safe with Rose when she saw them eddying about in
the crowd. The general was still, expressing a gratitude which became
more pressing the more it was disclaimed; he said casually at sight of
his daughter, "Ah; you've found us, have you?" and went on talking to
Mrs. Adding, who nodded to them laughingly, and asked, "Did you see me
"Look here, my dear!" March said to his wife as soon as they parted from
the rest, the general gallantly promising that his daughter and he would
see Mrs. Adding safe to her hotel, and were making their way slowly home
alone. "Did you know that Burnamy was in Carlsbad?"
"He's going away on the twelve-o'clock train tonight," she answered,
"What has that got to do with it? Where did you see him?"
"In the box, while you were behind the scenes."
She told him all about it, and he listened in silent endeavor for the
ground of censure from which a sense of his own guilt forced him. She
asked suddenly, "Where did you see him?" and he told her in turn.
He added severely, "Her father ought to know. Why didn't you tell him?"
"Why didn't you?" she retorted with great reason.
"Because I didn't think he was just in the humor for it." He began to
laugh as he sketched their encounter with the gendarme, but she did not
seem to think it amusing; and he became serious again. "Besides, I was
afraid she was going to blubber, any way."
"She wouldn't have blubbered, as you call it. I don't know why you need
be so disgusting! It would have given her just the moral support she
needed. Now she will have to tell him herself, and he will blame us. You
ought to have spoken; you could have done it easily and naturally when
you came up with her. You will have yourself to thank for all the trouble
that comes of it, now, my dear."
He shouted in admiration of her skill in shifting the blame on him. "All
right! I should have had to stand it, even if you hadn't behaved with
"Why," she said, after reflection, "I don't see what either of us has
done. We didn't get Burnamy to come here, or connive at his presence in
"Oh! Make Triscoe believe that! He knows you've done all you could to
help the affair on."
"Well, what if I have? He began making up to Mrs. Adding himself as soon
as he saw her, to-night. She looked very pretty."
"Well, thank Heaven! we're off to-morrow morning, and I hope we've seen
the last of them. They've done what they could to spoil my cure, but I'm
not going to have them spoil my aftercure."
Mrs. March had decided not to go to the Posthof for breakfast, where they
had already taken a lavish leave of the 'schone' Lili, with a sense of
being promptly superseded in her affections. They found a place in the
red-table-cloth end of the pavilion at Pupp's, and were served by the
pretty girl with the rose-bud mouth whom they had known only as
Ein-und-Zwanzig, and whose promise of "Komm' gleich, bitte schon!" was
like a bird's note. Never had the coffee been so good, the bread so
aerially light, the Westphalian ham so tenderly pink. A young married
couple whom they knew came by, arm in arm, in their morning walk, and sat
down with them, like their own youth, for a moment.
"If you had told them we were going, dear," said Mrs. March, when the
couple were themselves gone, "we should have been as old as ever. Don't
let us tell anybody, this morning, that we're going. I couldn't bear it."
They had been obliged to take the secretary of the hotel into their
confidence, in the process of paying their bill. He put on his high hat
and came out to see them off. The portier was already there, standing at
the step of the lordly two-spanner which they had ordered for the long
drive to the station. The Swiss elevator-man came to the door to offer
them a fellow-republican's good wishes for their journey; Herr Pupp
himself appeared at the last moment to hope for their return another
summer. Mrs. March bent a last look of interest upon the proprietor as
their two-spanner whirled away.
"They say that he is going to be made a count."
"Well, I don't object," said March. "A man who can feed fourteen thousand
people, mostly Germans, in a day, ought to be made an archduke."
At the station something happened which touched them even more than these
last attentions of the hotel. They were in their compartment, and were in
the act of possessing themselves of the best places by putting their
bundles and bags on them, when they heard Mrs. March's name called.
They turned and saw Rose Adding at the door, his thin face flushed with
excitement and his eyes glowing. "I was afraid I shouldn't get here in
time," he panted, and he held up to her a huge bunch of flowers.
"Why Rose! From your mother?"
"From me," he said, timidly, and he was slipping out into the corridor,
when she caught him and his flowers to her in one embrace. "I want to
kiss you," she said; and presently, when he had waved his hand to them
from the platform outside, and the train had started, she fumbled for her
handkerchief. "I suppose you call it blubbering; but he is the sweetest
"He's about the only one of our Carlsbad compatriots that I'm sorry to
leave behind," March assented. "He's the only unmarried one that wasn't
in danger of turning up a lover on my hands; if there had been some
rather old girl, or some rather light matron in our acquaintance, I'm not
sure that I should have been safe even from Rose. Carlsbad has been an
interruption to our silver wedding journey, my dear; but I hope now that
it will begin again."
"Yes," said his wife, "now we can have each other all to ourselves."
"Yes. It's been very different from our first wedding journey in that. It
isn't that we're not so young now as we were, but that we don't seem so
much our own property. We used to be the sole proprietors, and now we
seem to be mere tenants at will, and any interloping lover may come in
and set our dearest interests on the sidewalk. The disadvantage of living
along is that we get too much into the hands of other people."
"Yes, it is. I shall be glad to be rid of them all, too."
"I don't know that the drawback is serious enough to make us wish we had
died young—or younger," he suggested.
"No, I don't know that it is," she assented. She added, from an absence
where he was sufficiently able to locate her meaning, "I hope she'll
write and tell me what her father says and does when she tells him that
he was there."
There were many things, in the weather, the landscape, their sole
occupancy of an unsmoking compartment, while all the smoking compartments
round overflowed with smokers, which conspired to offer them a pleasing
illusion of the past; it was sometimes so perfect that they almost held
each other's hands. In later life there are such moments when the
youthful emotions come back, as certain birds do in winter, and the
elderly heart chirps and twitters to itself as if it were young. But it
is best to discourage this fondness; and Mrs. March joined her husband in
mocking it, when he made her observe how fit it was that their silver
wedding journey should be resumed as part of his after-cure. If he had
found the fountain of youth in the warm, flat, faintly nauseous water of
the Felsenquelle, he was not going to call himself twenty-eight again
till his second month of the Carlsbad regimen was out, and he had got
back to salad and fruit.
At Eger they had a memorable dinner, with so much leisure for it that
they could form a life-long friendship for the old English-speaking
waiter who served them, and would not suffer them to hurry themselves.
The hills had already fallen away, and they ran along through a cheerful
country, with tracts of forest under white clouds blowing about in a blue
sky, and gayly flinging their shadows down upon the brown ploughed land,
and upon the yellow oat-fields, where women were cutting the leisurely
harvest with sickles, and where once a great girl with swarthy bare arms
unbent herself from her toil, and rose, a statue of rude vigor and
beauty, to watch them go by. Hedges of evergreen enclosed the yellow
oat-fields, where slow wagons paused to gather the sheaves of the week
before, and then loitered away with them. Flocks of geese waddled in
sculpturesque relief against the close-cropt pastures, herded by little
girls with flaxen pigtails, whose eyes, blue as corn-flowers, followed
the flying train. There were stretches of wild thyme purpling long barren
acreages, and growing up the railroad banks almost to the rails
themselves. From the meadows the rowen, tossed in long loose windrows,
sent into their car a sad autumnal fragrance which mingled with the
tobacco smoke, when two fat smokers emerged into the narrow corridor
outside their compartments and tried to pass each other. Their vast
stomachs beat together in a vain encounter.
"Zu enge!" said one, and "Ja, zu enge!" said the other, and they laughed
innocently in each other's' faces, with a joy in their recognition of the
corridor's narrowness as great as if it had been a stroke of the finest
All the way the land was lovely, and as they drew near Nuremberg it grew
enchanting, with a fairy quaintness. The scenery was Alpine, but the
scale was toy-like, as befitted the region, and the mimic peaks and
valleys with green brooks gushing between them, and strange rock forms
recurring in endless caprice, seemed the home of children's story. All
the gnomes and elves might have dwelt there in peaceful fellowship with
the peasants who ploughed the little fields, and gathered the garlanded
hops, and lived in the farmsteads and village houses with those high
"We ought to have come here long ago with the children, when they were
children," said March.
"No," his wife returned; "it would have been too much for them. Nobody
but grown people could bear it."
The spell which began here was not really broken by anything that
afterwards happened in Nuremberg, though the old toy-capital was
trolley-wired through all its quaintness, and they were lodged in a hotel
lighted by electricity and heated by steam, and equipped with an elevator
which was so modern that it came down with them as well as went up. All
the things that assumed to be of recent structure or invention were as
nothing against the dense past, which overwhelmed them with the sense of
a world elsewhere outlived. In Nuremberg it is not the quaint or the
picturesque that is exceptional; it is the matter-of-fact and the
commonplace. Here, more than anywhere else, you are steeped in the gothic
spirit which expresses itself in a Teutonic dialect of homely sweetness,
of endearing caprice, of rude grotesqueness, but of positive grace and
beauty almost never. It is the architectural speech of a strenuous,
gross, kindly, honest people's fancy; such as it is it was inexhaustible,
and such as it is it was bewitching for the travellers.
They could hardly wait till they had supper before plunging into the
ancient town, and they took the first tram-car at a venture. It was a
sort of transfer, drawn by horses, which delivered them a little inside.
of the city gate to a trolley-car. The conductor with their fare demanded
their destination; March frankly owned that they did not know where they
wanted to go; they wanted to go anywhere the conductor chose; and the
conductor, after reflection, decided to put them down at the public
garden, which, as one of the newest things in the city, would make the
most favorable impression upon strangers. It was in fact so like all
other city gardens, with the foliage of its trimly planted alleys, that
it sheltered them effectually from the picturesqueness of Nuremberg, and
they had a long, peaceful hour on one of its benches, where they rested
from their journey, and repented their hasty attempt to appropriate the
charm of the city.
The next morning it rained, according to a custom which the elevator-boy
(flown with the insolent recollection of a sunny summer in Milan) said
was invariable in Nuremberg; but after the one-o'clock table d'hote they
took a noble two-spanner carriage, and drove all round the city.
Everywhere the ancient moat, thickly turfed and planted with trees and
shrubs, stretched a girdle of garden between their course and the wall
beautifully old, with knots of dead ivy clinging to its crevices, or
broad meshes of the shining foliage mantling its blackened masonry. A
tile-roofed open gallery ran along the top, where so many centuries of
sentries had paced, and arched the massive gates with heavily moulded
piers, where so countlessly the fierce burgher troops had sallied forth
against their besiegers, and so often the leaguer hosts had dashed
themselves in assault. The blood shed in forgotten battles would have
flooded the moat where now the grass and flowers grew, or here and there
a peaceful stretch of water stagnated.
The drive ended in a visit to the old Burg, where the Hapsburg Kaisers
dwelt when they visited their faithful imperial city. From its ramparts
the incredible picturesqueness of Nuremberg best shows itself, and if one
has any love for the distinctive quality of Teutonic architecture it is
here that more than anywhere else one may feast it. The prospect of tower
and spire and gable is of such a mediaeval richness, of such an abounding
fulness, that all incidents are lost in it. The multitudinous roofs of
red-brown tiles, blinking browsily from their low dormers, press upon one
another in endless succession; they cluster together on a rise of ground
and sink away where the street falls, but they nowhere disperse or
scatter, and they end abruptly at the other rim of the city, beyond which
looms the green country, merging in the remoter blue of misty uplands.
A pretty young girl waited at the door of the tower for the visitors to
gather in sufficient number, and then led them through the terrible
museum, discanting in the same gay voice and with the same smiling air on
all the murderous engines and implements of torture. First in German and
then in English she explained the fearful uses of the Iron Maiden, she
winningly illustrated the action of the racks and wheels on which men had
been stretched and broken, and she sweetly vaunted a sword which had
beheaded eight hundred persons. When she took the established fee from
March she suggested, with a demure glance, "And what more you please for
saying it in English."
"Can you say it in Russian?" demanded a young man, whose eyes he had seen
dwelling on her from the beginning. She laughed archly, and responded
with some Slavic words, and then delivered her train of sight-seers over
to the custodian who was to show them through the halls and chambers of
the Burg. These were undergoing the repairs which the monuments of the
past are perpetually suffering in the present, and there was some special
painting and varnishing for the reception of the Kaiser, who was coming
to Nuremberg for the military manoeuvres then at hand. But if they had
been in the unmolested discomfort of their unlivable magnificence, their
splendor was such as might well reconcile the witness to the superior
comfort of a private station in our snugger day. The Marches came out
owning that the youth which might once have found the romantic glories of
the place enough was gone from them. But so much of it was left to her
that she wished to make him stop and look at the flirtation which had
blossomed out between that pretty young girl and the Russian, whom they
had scarcely missed from their party in the Burg. He had apparently never
parted from the girl, and now as they sat together on the threshold of
the gloomy tower, he most have been teaching her more Slavic words, for
they were both laughing as if they understood each other perfectly.
In his security from having the affair in any wise on his hands, March
would have willingly lingered, to see how her education got on; but it
began to rain, The rain did not disturb the lovers, but it obliged the
elderly spectators to take refuge in their carriage; and they drove off
to find the famous Little Goose Man. This is what every one does at
Nuremberg; it would be difficult to say why. When they found the Little
Goose Man, he was only a mediaeval fancy in bronze, who stood on his
pedestal in the market-place and contributed from the bill of the goose
under his arm a small stream to the rainfall drenching the wet wares of
the wet market-women round the fountain, and soaking their cauliflowers
and lettuce, their grapes and pears, their carrots and turnips, to the
watery flavor of all fruits and vegetables in Germany.
The air was very raw and chill; but after supper the clouds cleared away,
and a pleasant evening tempted the travellers out. The portier dissembled
any slight which their eagerness for the only amusement he could think of
inspired, and directed them to a popular theatre which was giving a
summer season at low prices to the lower classes, and which they
surprised, after some search, trying to hide itself in a sort of back
square. They got the best places at a price which ought to have been
mortifyingly cheap, and found themselves, with a thousand other harmless
bourgeois folk, in a sort of spacious, agreeable barn, of a decoration by
no means ugly, and of a certain artless comfort. Each seat fronted a
shelf at the back of the seat before it, where the spectator could put
his hat; there was a smaller shelf for his stein of the beer passed
constantly throughout the evening; and there was a buffet where he could
stay himself with cold ham and other robust German refreshments.
It was "The Wedding Journey to Nuremberg" upon which they had oddly
chanced, and they accepted as a national tribute the character of an
American girl in it. She was an American girl of the advanced pattern,
and she came and went at a picnic on the arm of a head waiter. She seemed
to have no office in the drama except to illustrate a German conception
of American girlhood, but even in this simple function she seemed rather
to puzzle the German audience; perhaps because of the occasional English
words which she used.
To the astonishment of her compatriots, when they came out of the theatre
it was not raining; the night was as brilliantly starlit as a night could
be in Germany, and they sauntered home richly content through the narrow
streets and through the beautiful old Damenthor, beyond which their hotel
lay. How pretty, they said, to call that charming port the Ladies' Gate!
They promised each other to find out why, and they never did so, but
satisfied themselves by assigning it to the exclusive use of the slim
maidens and massive matrons of the old Nuremberg patriciate, whom they
imagined trailing their silken splendors under its arch in perpetual
The life of the Nuremberg patriciate, now extinct in the control of the
city which it builded so strenuously and maintained so heroically, is
still insistent in all its art. This expresses their pride at once and
their simplicity with a childish literality. At its best it is never so
good as the good Italian art, whose influence is always present in its
best. The coloring of the great canvases is Venetian, but there is no
such democracy of greatness as in the painting at Venice; in decoration
the art of Nuremberg is at best quaint, and at the worst puerile.
Wherever it had obeyed an academic intention it seemed to March poor and
coarse, as in the bronze fountain beside the Church of St. Lawrence. The
water spins from the pouted breasts of the beautiful figures in streams
that cross and interlace after a fancy trivial and gross; but in the base
of the church there is a time-worn Gethsemane, exquisitely affecting in
its simple-hearted truth. The long ages have made it even more affecting
than the sculptor imagined it; they have blurred the faces and figures in
passing till their features are scarcely distinguishable; and the
sleeping apostles seem to have dreamed themselves back into the
mother-marble. It is of the same tradition and impulse with that supreme
glory of the native sculpture, the ineffable tabernacle of Adam Krafft,
which climbs a column of the church within, a miracle of richly carven
story; and no doubt if there were a Nuremberg sculptor doing great things
today, his work would be of kindred inspiration.
The descendants of the old patrician who ordered the tabernacle at rather
a hard bargain from the artist still worship on the floor below, and the
descendants of his neighbor patricians have their seats in the pews
about, and their names cut in the proprietary plates on the pew-tops. The
vergeress who showed the Marches through the church was devout in the
praise of these aristocratic fellow-citizens of hers. "So simple, and yet
so noble!" she said. She was a very romantic vergeress, and she told them
at unsparing length the legend of the tabernacle, how the artist fell
asleep in despair of winning his patron's daughter, and saw in a vision
the master-work with the lily-like droop at top, which gained him her
hand. They did not realize till too late that it was all out of a novel
of Georg Ebers's, but added to the regular fee for the church a gift
worthy of an inedited legend.
Even then they had a pleasure in her enthusiasm rarely imparted by the
Nuremberg manner. They missed there the constant, sweet civility of
Carlsbad, and found themselves falling flat in their endeavors for a
little cordiality. They indeed inspired with some kindness the old woman
who showed them through that cemetery where Albert Durer and Hans Sachs
and many other illustrious citizens lie buried under monumental brasses
of such beauty:
"That kings to have the like, might wish to die."
But this must have been because they abandoned themselves so willingly to
the fascination of the bronze skull on the tomb of a fourteenth-century
patrician, which had the uncommon advantage of a lower jaw hinged to the
upper. She proudly clapped it up and down for their astonishment, and
waited, with a toothless smile, to let them discover the bead of a nail
artfully figured in the skull; then she gave a shrill cackle of joy, and
gleefully explained that the wife of this patrician had killed him by
driving a nail into his temple, and had been fitly beheaded for the
She cared so much for nothing else in the cemetery, but she consented to
let them wonder at the richness of the sculpture in the level tombs, with
their escutcheons and memorial tablets, overrun by the long grass and the
matted ivy; she even consented to share their indignation at the
destruction of some of the brasses and the theft of others. She suffered
more reluctantly their tenderness for the old, old crucifixion figured in
sculpture at one corner of the cemetery, where the anguish of the Christ
had long since faded into the stone from which it had been evoked, and
the thieves were no longer distinguishable in their penitence or
impenitence; but she parted friends with them when she saw how much they
seemed taken with the votive chapel of the noble Holzschuh family, where
a line of wooden shoes puns upon the name in the frieze, like the line of
dogs which chase one another, with bones in their mouths, around the
Canossa palace at Verona. A sense of the beautiful house by the Adige was
part of the pleasing confusion which possessed them in Nuremberg whenever
they came upon the expression of the gothic spirit common both to the
German and northern Italian art. They knew that it was an effect which
had passed from Germany into Italy, but in the liberal air of the older
land it had come to so much more beauty that now, when they found it in
its home, it seemed something fetched from over the Alps and coarsened in
the attempt to naturalize it to an alien air.
In the Germanic Museum they fled to the Italian painters from the German
pictures they had inspired; in the great hall of the Rathhaus the noble
Processional of Durer was the more precious, because his Triumph of
Maximilian somehow suggested Mantegna's Triumph of Caesar. There was to
be a banquet in the hall, under the mighty fresco, to welcome the German
Emperor, coming the next week, and the Rathhaus was full of work-people
furbishing it up against his arrival, and making it difficult for the
custodian who had it in charge to show it properly to strangers. She was
of the same enthusiastic sisterhood as the vergeress of St. Lawrence and
the guardian of the old cemetery, and by a mighty effort she prevailed
over the workmen so far as to lead her charges out through the corridor
where the literal conscience of the brothers Kuhn has wrought in the roof
to an exact image of a tournament as it was in Nuremberg four hundred
years ago. In this relief, thronged with men and horses, the gala-life of
the past survives in unexampled fulness; and March blamed himself after
enjoying it for having felt in it that toy-figure quality which seems the
final effect of the German gothicism in sculpture.
On Sunday Mrs. March partially conformed to an earlier New England ideal
of the day by ceasing from sight-seeing. She could not have understood
the sermon if she had gone to church, but she appeased the lingering
conscience she had on this point by not going out till afternoon. Then
she found nothing of the gayety which Sunday afternoon wears in Catholic
lands. The people were resting from their week-day labors, but they were
not playing; and the old churches, long since converted to Lutheran uses,
were locked against tourist curiosity.
It was as it should be; it was as it would be at home; and yet in this
ancient city, where the past was so much alive in the perpetual
picturesqueness, the Marches felt an incongruity in it; and they were
fain to escape from the Protestant silence and seriousness of the streets
to the shade of the public garden they had involuntarily visited the
evening of their arrival.
On a bench sat a quiet, rather dejected man, whom March asked some
question of their way. He answered in English, and in the parley that
followed they discovered that they were all Americans. The stranger
proved to be an American of the sort commonest in Germany, and he said he
had returned to his native country to get rid of the ague which he had
taken on Staten Island. He had been seventeen years in New York, and now
a talk of Tammany and its chances in the next election, of pulls and
deals, of bosses and heelers, grew up between the civic step-brothers,
and joined them is a common interest. The German-American said he was
bookkeeper in some glass-works which had been closed by our tariff, and
he confessed that he did not mean to return to us, though he spoke of
German affairs with the impartiality of an outsider. He said that the
Socialist party was increasing faster than any other, and that this
tacitly meant the suppression of rank and the abolition of monarchy. He
warned March against the appearance of industrial prosperity in Germany;
beggary was severely repressed, and if poverty was better clad than with
us, it was as hungry and as hopeless in Nuremberg as in New York. The
working classes were kindly and peaceable; they only knifed each other
quietly on Sunday evenings after having too much beer.
Presently the stranger rose and bowed to the Marches for good-by; and as
he walked down the aisle of trees in which they had been fitting
together, he seemed to be retreating farther and farther from such
Americanism as they had in common. He had reverted to an entirely German
effect of dress and figure; his walk was slow and Teutonic; he must be a
type of thousands who have returned to the fatherland without wishing to
own themselves its children again, and yet out of heart with the only
country left them.
"He was rather pathetic, my dear," said March, in the discomfort he knew
his wife must be feeling as well as himself. "How odd to have the lid
lifted here, and see the same old problems seething and bubbling in the
witch's caldron we call civilization as we left simmering away at home!
And how hard to have our tariff reach out and snatch the bread from the
mouths of those poor glass-workers!"
"I thought that was hard," she sighed. "It must have been his bread,
"Let's hope it was not his cake, anyway. I suppose," he added, dreamily,
"that what we used to like in Italy was the absence of all the modern
activities. The Italians didn't repel us by assuming to be of our epoch
in the presence of their monuments; they knew how to behave as pensive
memories. I wonder if they're still as charming."
"Oh, no," she returned, "nothing is as charming as it used to be. And now
we need the charm more than ever."
He laughed at her despair, in the tacit understanding they had lived into
that only one of them was to be desperate at a time, and that they were
to take turns in cheering each other up. "Well, perhaps we don't deserve
it. And I'm not sure that we need it so much as we did when we were
young. We've got tougher; we can stand the cold facts better now. They
made me shiver once, but now they give me a sort of agreeable thrill.
Besides, if, life kept up its pretty illusions, if it insisted upon being
as charming as it used to be, how could we ever bear to die? We've got
that to consider." He yielded to the temptation of his paradox, but he
did not fail altogether of the purpose with which he began, and they took
the trolley back to their hotel cheerful in the intrepid fancy that they
had confronted fate when they had only had the hardihood to face a
They agreed that now he ought really to find out something about the
contemporary life of Nuremberg, and the next morning he went out before
breakfast, and strolled through some of the simpler streets, in the hope
of intimate impressions. The peasant women, serving portions of milk from
house to house out of the cans in the little wagons which they drew
themselves, were a touch of pleasing domestic comedy; a certain effect of
tragedy imparted itself from the lamentations of the sucking-pigs jolted
over the pavements in handcarts; a certain majesty from the long
procession of yellow mail-wagons, with drivers in the royal Bavarian
blue, trooping by in the cold small rain, impassibly dripping from their
glazed hat-brims upon their uniforms. But he could not feel that these
things were any of them very poignantly significant; and he covered his
retreat from the actualities of Nuremberg by visiting the chief
book-store and buying more photographs of the architecture than he
wanted, and more local histories than he should ever read. He made a last
effort for the contemporaneous life by asking the English-speaking clerk
if there were any literary men of distinction living in Nuremberg, and
the clerk said there was not one.
He went home to breakfast wondering if he should be able to make his
meagre facts serve with his wife; but he found her far from any wish to
listen to them. She was intent upon a pair of young lovers, at a table
near her own, who were so absorbed in each other that they were proof
against an interest that must otherwise have pierced them through. The
bridegroom, as he would have called himself, was a pretty little Bavarian
lieutenant, very dark and regular, and the bride was as pretty and as
little, but delicately blond. Nature had admirably mated them, and if art
had helped to bring them together through the genius of the bride's
mother, who was breakfasting with them, it had wrought almost as fitly.
Mrs. March queried impartially who they were, where they met, and how,
and just when they were going to be married; and March consented, in his
personal immunity from their romance, to let it go on under his eyes
without protest. But later, when they met the lovers in the street,
walking arm in arm, with the bride's mother behind them gloating upon
their bliss, he said the woman ought, at her time of life, to be ashamed
of such folly. She must know that this affair, by nine chances out of
ten, could not fail to eventuate at the best in a marriage as tiresome as
most other marriages, and yet she was abandoning herself with those
ignorant young people to the illusion that it was the finest and sweetest
thing in life.
"Well, isn't it?" his wife asked.
"Yes, that's the worst of it. It shows how poverty-stricken life really
is. We want somehow to believe that each pair of lovers will find the
good we have missed, and be as happy as we expected to be."
"I think we have been happy enough, and that we've had as much good as
was wholesome for us," she returned, hurt.
"You're always so concrete! I meant us in the abstract. But if you will
be personal, I'll say that you've been as happy as you deserve, and got
more good than you had any right to."
She laughed with him, and then they laughed again to perceive that they
were walking arm in arm too, like the lovers, whom they were insensibly
He proposed that while they were in the mood they should go again to the
old cemetery, and see the hinged jaw of the murdered Paumgartner, wagging
in eternal accusation of his murderess. "It's rather hard on her, that he
should be having the last word, that way," he said. "She was a woman, no
matter what mistakes she had committed."
"That's what I call 'banale'," said Mrs. March.
"It is, rather," he confessed. "It makes me feel as if I must go to see
the house of Durer, after all."
"Well, I knew we should have to, sooner or later."
It was the thing that they had said would not do, in Nuremberg, because
everybody did it; but now they hailed a fiacre, and ordered it driven to
Durer's house, which they found in a remote part of the town near a
stretch of the city wall, varied in its picturesqueness by the
interposition of a dripping grove; it was raining again by the time they
reached it. The quarter had lapsed from earlier dignity, and without
being squalid, it looked worn and hard worked; otherwise it could hardly
have been different in Durer's time. His dwelling, in no way impressive
outside, amidst the environing quaintness, stood at the corner of a
narrow side-hill street that sloped cityward; and within it was stripped
bare of all the furniture of life below-stairs, and above was none the
cozier for the stiff appointment of a show-house. It was cavernous and
cold; but if there had been a fire in the kitchen, and a table laid in
the dining-room, and beds equipped for nightmare, after the German
fashion, in the empty chambers, one could have imagined a kindly, simple,
neighborly existence there. It in no wise suggested the calling of an
artist, perhaps because artists had not begun in Durer's time to take
themselves so objectively as they do now, but it implied the life of a
prosperous citizen, and it expressed the period.
The Marches wrote their names in the visitors' book, and paid the
visitor's fee, which also bought them tickets in an annual lottery for a
reproduction of one of Durer's pictures; and then they came away, by no
means dissatisfied with his house. By its association with his sojourns
in Italy it recalled visits to other shrines, and they had to own that it
was really no worse than Ariosto's house at Ferrara, or Petrarch's at
Arqua, or Michelangelo's at Florence. "But what I admire," he said, "is
our futility in going to see it. We expected to surprise some quality of
the man left lying about in the house because he lived and died in it;
and because his wife kept him up so close there, and worked him so hard
to save his widow from coming to want."
"Who said she did that?"
"A friend of his who hated her. But he had to allow that she was a
God-fearing woman, and had a New England conscience."
"Well, I dare say Durer was easy-going."
"Yes; but I don't like her laying her plans to survive him; though women
always do that."
They were going away the next day, and they sat down that evening to a
final supper in such good-humor with themselves that they were willing to
include a young couple who came to take places at their table, though
they would rather have been alone. They lifted their eyes for their
expected salutation, and recognized Mr. and Mrs. Leffers, of the
The ladies fell upon each other as if they had been mother and daughter;
March and the young man shook hands, in the feeling of passengers
mutually endeared by the memories of a pleasant voyage. They arrived at
the fact that Mr. Leffers had received letters in England from his
partners which allowed him to prolong his wedding journey in a tour of
the continent, while their wives were still exclaiming at their encounter
in the same hotel at Nuremberg; and then they all sat down to have, as
the bride said, a real Norumbia time.
She was one of those young wives who talk always with their eyes
submissively on their husbands, no matter whom they are speaking to; but
she was already unconsciously ruling him in her abeyance. No doubt she
was ruling him for his good; she had a livelier, mind than he, and she
knew more, as the American wives of young American business men always
do, and she was planning wisely for their travels. She recognized her
merit in this devotion with an artless candor, which was typical rather
than personal. March was glad to go out with Leffers for a little stroll,
and to leave Mrs. March to listen to Mrs. Leffers, who did not let them
go without making her husband promise to wrap up well, and not get his
feet wet. She made March promise not to take him far, and to bring him
back early, which he found himself very willing to do, after an exchange
of ideas with Mr. Leffers. The young man began to talk about his wife, in
her providential, her almost miraculous adaptation to the sort of man he
was, and when he had once begun to explain what sort of man he was, there
was no end to it, till they rejoined the ladies in the reading-room.
The young couple came to the station to see the Marches off after dinner
the next day; and the wife left a bank of flowers on the seat beside Mrs.
March, who said, as soon as they were gone, "I believe I would rather
meet people of our own age after this. I used to think that you could
keep young by being with young people; but I don't, now. There world is
very different from ours. Our world doesn't really exist any more, but as
long as we keep away from theirs we needn't realize it. Young people,"
she went on, "are more practical-minded than we used to be; they're quite
as sentimental; but I don't think they care so much for the higher
things. They're not so much brought up on poetry as we were," she
pursued. "That little Mrs. Leffers would have read Longfellow in our
time; but now she didn't know of his poem on Nuremberg; she was
intelligent enough about the place, but you could see that its quaintness
was not so precious as it was to us; not so sacred." Her tone entreated
him to find more meaning in her words than she had put into them. "They
couldn't have felt as we did about that old ivied wall and that grassy,
flowery moat under it; and the beautiful Damenthor and that pile-up of
the roofs from the Burg; and those winding streets with their Gothic
facades all, cobwebbed with trolley wires; and that yellow,
aguish-looking river drowsing through the town under the windows of those
overhanging houses; and the market-place, and the squares before the
churches, with their queer shops in the nooks and corners round them!"
"I see what you mean. But do you think it's as sacred to us as it would
have been twenty-five years ago? I had an irreverent feeling now and then
that Nuremberg was overdoing Nuremberg."
"Oh, yes; so had I. We're that modern, if we're not so young as we were."
"We were very simple, in those days."
"Well, if we were simple, we knew it!"
"Yes; we used to like taking our unconsciousness to pieces and looking at
"We had a good time."
"Too good. Sometimes it seems as if it would have lasted longer if it had
not been so good. We might have our cake now if we hadn't eaten it."
"It would be mouldy, though."
"I wonder," he said, recurring to the Lefferses; "how we really struck
"Well, I don't believe they thought we ought to be travelling about
alone, quite, at our age."
"Oh, not so bad as that!" After a moment he said, "I dare say they don't
go round quarrelling on their wedding journey, as we did."
"Indeed they do! They had an awful quarrel just before they got to
Nuremberg: about his wanting to send some of the baggage to Liverpool by
express that she wanted to keep with them. But she said it had been a
lesson, and they were never going to quarrel again." The elders looked at
each other in the light of experience, and laughed. "Well," she ended,
"that's one thing we're through with. I suppose we've come to feel more
alike than we used to."
"Or not to feel at all. How did they settle it about the baggage?"
"Oh! He insisted on her keeping it with her." March laughed again, but
this time he laughed alone, and after a while she said: "Well, they gave
just the right relief to Nuremberg, with their good, clean American
philistinism. I don't mind their thinking us queer; they must have
thought Nuremberg was queer."
"Yes. We oldsters are always queer to the young. We're either
ridiculously lively and chirpy, or we're ridiculously stiff and grim;
they never expect to be like us, and wouldn't, for the world. The worst
of it is, we elderly people are absurd to one another; we don't, at the
bottom of our hearts, believe we're like that, when we meet. I suppose
that arrogant old ass of a Triscoe looks upon me as a grinning dotard."
"I wonder," said Mrs. March, "if she's told him yet," and March perceived
that she was now suddenly far from the mood of philosophic introspection;
but he had no difficulty in following her.
"She's had time enough. But it was an awkward task Burnamy left to her."
"Yes, when I think of that, I can hardly forgive him for coming back in
that way. I know she is dead in love with him; but she could only have
accepted him conditionally."
"Conditionally to his making it all right with Stoller?"
"Stoller? No! To her father's liking it."
"Ah, that's quite as hard. What makes you think she accepted him at all?"
"What do you think she was crying about?"
"Well, I have supposed that ladies occasionally shed tears of pity. If
she accepted him conditionally she would have to tell her father about
it." Mrs. March gave him a glance of silent contempt, and he hastened to
atone for his stupidity. "Perhaps she's told him on the instalment plan.
She may have begun by confessing that Burnamy had been in Carlsbad. Poor
old fellow, I wish we were going to find him in Ansbach! He could make
things very smooth for us."
"Well, you needn't flatter yourself that you'll find him in Ansbach. I'm
sure I don't know where he is."
"You might write to Miss Triscoe and ask."
"I think I shall wait for Miss Triscoe to write to me," she said, with
"Yes, she certainly owes you that much, after all your suffering for her.
I've asked the banker in Nuremberg to forward our letters to the poste
restante in Ansbach. Isn't it good to see the crows again, after those
ravens around Carlsbad?"
She joined him in looking at the mild autumnal landscape through the open
window. The afternoon was fair and warm, and in the level fields bodies
of soldiers were at work with picks and spades, getting the ground ready
for the military manoeuvres; they disturbed among the stubble foraging
parties of crows, which rose from time to time with cries of indignant
protest. She said, with a smile for the crows, "Yes. And I'm thankful
that I've got nothing on my conscience, whatever happens," she added in
dismissal of the subject of Burnamy.
"I'm thankful too, my dear. I'd much rather have things on my own. I'm
more used to that, and I believe I feel less remorse than when you're to
They might have been carried near this point by those telepathic
influences which have as yet been so imperfectly studied. It was only
that morning, after the lapse of a week since Burnamy's furtive
reappearance in Carlsbad, that Miss Triscoe spoke to her father about it,
and she had at that moment a longing for support and counsel that might
well have made its mystical appeal to Mrs. March.
She spoke at last because she could put it off no longer, rather than
because the right time had come. She began as they sat at breakfast.
"Papa, there is something that I have got to tell you. It is something
that you ought to know; but I have put off telling you because—"
She hesitated for the reason, and "Well!" said her father, looking up at
her from his second cup of coffee. "What is it?"
Then she answered, "Mr. Burnamy has been here."
"In Carlsbad? When was he here?"
"The night of the Emperor's birthday. He came into the box when you were
behind the scenes with Mr. March; afterwards I met him in the crowd."
"I thought you ought to know. Mrs. March said I ought to tell you."
"Did she say you ought to wait a week?" He gave way to an irascibility
which he tried to check, and to ask with indifference, "Why did he come
"He was going to write about it for that paper in Paris." The girl had
the effect of gathering her courage up for a bold plunge. She looked
steadily at her father, and added: "He said he came back because he
couldn't help it. He—wished to speak with me, He said he knew he had no
right to suppose I cared anything about what had happened with him and
Mr. Stoller. He wanted to come back and tell me—that."
Her father waited for her to go on, but apparently she was going to leave
the word to him, now. He hesitated to take it, but he asked at last with
a mildness that seemed to surprise her, "Have you heard anything from him
"Where is he?"
"I don't know. I told him I could not say what he wished; that I must
tell you about it."
The case was less simple than it would once have been for General
Triscoe. There was still his affection for his daughter, his wish for her
happiness, but this had always been subordinate to his sense of his own
interest and comfort, and a question had recently arisen which put his
paternal love and duty in a new light. He was no more explicit with
himself than other men are, and the most which could ever be said of him
without injustice was that in his dependence upon her he would rather
have kept his daughter to himself if she could not have been very
prosperously married. On the other hand, if he disliked the man for whom
she now hardly hid her liking, he was not just then ready to go to
extremes concerning him.
"He was very anxious," she went on, "that you should know just how it
was. He thinks everything of your judgment and—and—opinion." The
general made a consenting noise in his throat. "He said that he did not
wish me to 'whitewash' him to you. He didn't think he had done right; he
didn't excuse himself, or ask you to excuse him unless you could from the
stand-point of a gentleman."
The general made a less consenting noise in his throat, and asked, "How
do you look at it, yourself, Agatha?"
"I don't believe I quite understand it; but Mrs. March—"
"Oh, Mrs. March!" the general snorted.
"—says that Mr. March does not think so badly of it as Mr. Burnamy
"I doubt it. At any rate, I understood March quite differently."
"She says that he thinks he behaved very nobly afterwards when Mr.
Stoller wanted him to help him put a false complexion on it; that it was
all the more difficult for him to do right then, because of his remorse
for what he had done before." As she spoke on she had become more eager.
"There's something in that," the general admitted, with a candor that he
made the most of both to himself and to her. "But I should like to know
what Stoller had to say of it all. Is there anything," he inquired, "any
reason why I need be more explicit about it, just now?"
"N—no. Only, I thought—He thinks so much of your opinion that—if—"
"Oh, he can very well afford to wait. If he values my opinion so highly
he can give me time to make up my mind."
"And I'm not responsible," the general continued, significantly, "for the
delay altogether. If you had told me this before—Now, I don't know
whether Stoller is still in town."
He was not behaving openly with her; but she had not behaved openly with
him. She owned that to herself, and she got what comfort she could from
his making the affair a question of what Burnamy had done to Stoller
rather than of what Burnamy had said to her, and what she had answered
him. If she was not perfectly clear as to what she wanted to do, or
wished to have happen, there was now time and place in which she could
delay and make sure. The accepted theory of such matters is that people
know their minds from the beginning, and that they do not change them.
But experience seems to contradict this theory, or else people often act
contrary to their convictions and impulses. If the statistics were
accessible, it might be found that many potential engagements hovered in
a doubtful air, and before they touched the earth in actual promise were
dissipated by the play of meteorological chances.
When General Triscoe put down his napkin in rising he said that he would
step round to Pupp's and see if Stoller were still there. But on the way
he stepped up to Mrs. Adding's hotel on the hill, and he came back, after
an interval which he seemed not to have found long, to report rather
casually that Stoller had left Carlsbad the day before. By this time the
fact seemed not to concern Agatha herself very vitally.
He asked if the Marches had left any address with her, and she answered
that they had not. They were going to spend a few days in Nuremberg, and
then push on to Holland for Mr. March's after-cure. There was no
relevance in his question unless it intimated his belief that she was in
confidential correspondence with Mrs. March, and she met this by saying
that she was going to write her in care of their bankers; she asked
whether he wished to send any word.
"No. I understand," he intimated, "that there is nothing at all in the
nature of a—a—an understanding, then, with—"
"Hm!" The general waited a moment. Then he ventured, "Do you care to
say—do you wish me to know—how he took it?"
The tears came into the girl's eyes, but she governed herself to say,
"He—he was disappointed."
"He had no right to be disappointed."
It was a question, and she answered: "He thought he had. He said—that he
wouldn't—trouble me any more."
The general did not ask at once, "And you don't know where he is now—you
haven't heard anything from him since?"
Agatha flashed through her tears, "Papa!"
"Oh! I beg your pardon. I think you told me."