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A Book of Burlesques
by H. L. Mencken
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A BOOK OF BURLESQUES

by

H. L. MENCKEN



Published at the Borzoi . New York . by Alfred . A . Knopf

Copyright, 1916, 1920, by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Printed in the United States of America



CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE I. DEATH: A PHILOSOPHICAL DISCUSSION 11 II. FROM THE PROGRAMME OF A CONCERT 27 III. THE WEDDING: A STAGE DIRECTION 51 IV. THE VISIONARY 71 V. THE ARTIST: A DRAMA WITHOUT WORDS 83 VI. SEEING THE WORLD 105 VII. FROM THE MEMOIRS OF THE DEVIL 135 VIII. LITANIES FOR THE OVERLOOKED 149 IX. ASEPSIS: A DEDUCTION IN SCHERZO FORM 159 X. TALES OF THE MORAL AND PATHOLOGICAL 183 XI. THE JAZZ WEBSTER 201 XII. THE OLD SUBJECT 213 XIII. PANORAMAS OF PEOPLE 223 XIV. HOMEOPATHICS 231 XV. VERS LIBRE 237



The present edition includes some epigrams from "A Little Book in C Major," now out of print. To make room for them several of the smaller sketches in the first edition have been omitted. Nearly the whole contents of the book appeared originally in The Smart Set. The references to a Europe not yet devastated by war and an America not yet polluted by Prohibition show that some of the pieces first saw print in far better days than these.

H. L. M.

February 1, 1920.



I.—DEATH

I.—Death. A Philosophical Discussion

The back parlor of any average American home. The blinds are drawn and a single gas-jet burns feebly. A dim suggestion of festivity: strange chairs, the table pushed back, a decanter and glasses. A heavy, suffocating, discordant scent of flowers—roses, carnations, lilies, gardenias. A general stuffiness and mugginess, as if it were raining outside, which it isn't.

A door leads into the front parlor. It is open, and through it the flowers may be seen. They are banked about a long black box with huge nickel handles, resting upon two folding horses. Now and then a man comes into the front room from the street door, his shoes squeaking hideously. Sometimes there is a woman, usually in deep mourning. Each visitor approaches the long black box, looks into it with ill-concealed repugnance, snuffles softly, and then backs of toward the door. A clock on the mantel-piece ticks loudly. From the street come the usual noises—a wagon rattling, the clang of a trolley car's gong, the shrill cry of a child.

In the back parlor six pallbearers sit upon chairs, all of them bolt upright, with their hands on their knees. They are in their Sunday clothes, with stiff white shirts. Their hats are on the floor beside their chairs. Each wears upon his lapel the gilt badge of a fraternal order, with a crepe rosette. In the gloom they are indistinguishable; all of them talk in the same strained, throaty whisper. Between their remarks they pause, clear their throats, blow their noses, and shuffle in their chairs. They are intensely uncomfortable. Tempo: Adagio lamentoso, with occasionally a rise to andante maesto. So:

FIRST PALLBEARER

Who woulda thought that he woulda been the next?

SECOND PALLBEARER

Yes; you never can tell.

THIRD PALLBEARER

(An oldish voice, oracularly.) We're here to-day and gone to-morrow.

FOURTH PALLBEARER

I seen him no longer ago than Chewsday. He never looked no better. Nobody would have——

FIFTH PALLBEARER

I seen him Wednesday. We had a glass of beer together in the Huffbrow Kaif. He was laughing and cutting up like he always done.

SIXTH PALLBEARER

You never know who it's gonna hit next. Him and me was pallbearers together for Hen Jackson no more than a month ago, or say five weeks.

FIRST PALLBEARER

Well, a man is lucky if he goes off quick. If I had my way I wouldn't want no better way.

SECOND PALLBEARER

My brother John went thataway. He dropped like a stone, settin' there at the supper table. They had to take his knife out of his hand.

THIRD PALLBEARER

I had an uncle to do the same thing, but without the knife. He had what they call appleplexy. It runs in my family.

FOURTH PALLBEARER

They say it's in his'n, too.

FIFTH PALLBEARER

But he never looked it.

SIXTH PALLBEARER

No. Nobody woulda thought he woulda been the next.

FIRST PALLBEARER

Them are the things you never can tell anything about.

SECOND PALLBEARER

Ain't it true!

THIRD PALLBEARER

We're here to-day and gone to-morrow.

(A pause. Feet are shuffled. Somewhere a door bangs.)

FOURTH PALLBEARER

(Brightly.) He looks elegant. I hear he never suffered none.

FIFTH PALLBEARER

No; he went too quick. One minute he was alive and the next minute he was dead.

SIXTH PALLBEARER

Think of it: dead so quick!

FIRST PALLBEARER

Gone!

SECOND PALLBEARER

Passed away!

THIRD PALLBEARER

Well, we all have to go some time.

FOURTH PALLBEARER

Yes; a man never knows but what his turn'll come next.

FIFTH PALLBEARER

You can't tell nothing by looks. Them sickly fellows generally lives to be old.

SIXTH PALLBEARER

Yes; the doctors say it's the big stout person that goes off the soonest. They say typhord never kills none but the healthy.

FIRST PALLBEARER

So I have heered it said. My wife's youngest brother weighed 240 pounds. He was as strong as a mule. He could lift a sugar-barrel, and then some. Once I seen him drink damn near a whole keg of beer. Yet it finished him in less'n three weeks—and he had it mild.

SECOND PALLBEARER

It seems that there's a lot of it this fall.

THIRD PALLBEARER

Yes; I hear of people taken with it every day. Some say it's the water. My brother Sam's oldest is down with it.

FOURTH PALLBEARER

I had it myself once. I was out of my head for four weeks.

FIFTH PALLBEARER

That's a good sign.

SIXTH PALLBEARER

Yes; you don't die as long as you're out of your head.

FIRST PALLBEARER

It seems to me that there is a lot of sickness around this year.

SECOND PALLBEARER

I been to five funerals in six weeks.

THIRD PALLBEARER

I beat you. I been to six in five weeks, not counting this one.

FOURTH PALLBEARER

A body don't hardly know what to think of it scarcely.

FIFTH PALLBEARER

That's what I always say: you can't tell who'll be next.

SIXTH PALLBEARER

Ain't it true! Just think of him.

FIRST PALLBEARER

Yes; nobody woulda picked him out.

SECOND PALLBEARER

Nor my brother John, neither.

THIRD PALLBEARER

Well, what must be must be.

FOURTH PALLBEARER

Yes; it don't do no good to kick. When a man's time comes he's got to go.

FIFTH PALLBEARER

We're lucky if it ain't us.

SIXTH PALLBEARER

So I always say. We ought to be thankful.

FIRST PALLBEARER

That's the way I always feel about it.

SECOND PALLBEARER

It wouldn't do him no good, no matter what we done.

THIRD PALLBEARER

We're here to-day and gone to-morrow.

FOURTH PALLBEARER

But it's hard all the same.

FIFTH PALLBEARER

It's hard on her.

SIXTH PALLBEARER

Yes, it is. Why should he go?

FIRST PALLBEARER

It's a question nobody ain't ever answered.

SECOND PALLBEARER

Nor never won't.

THIRD PALLBEARER

You're right there. I talked to a preacher about it once, and even he couldn't give no answer to it.

FOURTH PALLBEARER

The more you think about it the less you can make it out.

FIFTH PALLBEARER

When I seen him last Wednesday he had no more ideer of it than what you had.

SIXTH PALLBEARER

Well, if I had my choice, that's the way I would always want to die.

FIRST PALLBEARER

Yes; that's what I say. I am with you there.

SECOND PALLBEARER

Yes; you're right, both of you. It don't do no good to lay sick for months, with doctors' bills eatin' you up, and then have to go anyhow.

THIRD PALLBEARER

No; when a thing has to be done, the best thing to do is to get it done and over with.

FOURTH PALLBEARER

That's just what I said to my wife when I heerd.

FIFTH PALLBEARER

But nobody hardly thought that he woulda been the next.

SIXTH PALLBEARER

No; but that's one of them things you can't tell.

FIRST PALLBEARER

You never know who'll be the next.

SECOND PALLBEARER

It's lucky you don't.

THIRD PALLBEARER

I guess you're right.

FOURTH PALLBEARER

That's what my grandfather used to say: you never know what is coming.

FIFTH PALLBEARER

Yes; that's the way it goes.

SIXTH PALLBEARER

First one, and then somebody else.

FIRST PALLBEARER

Who it'll be you can't say.

SECOND PALLBEARER

I always say the same: we're here to-day——

THIRD PALLBEARER

(Cutting in jealousy and humorously.) And to-morrow we ain't here.

(A subdued and sinister snicker. It is followed by sudden silence. There is a shuffling of feet in the front room, and whispers. Necks are craned. The pallbearers straighten their backs, hitch their coat collars and pull on their black gloves. The clergyman has arrived. From above comes the sound of weeping.)



II.—FROM THE PROGRAMME OF A CONCERT

II.—From The Programme of a Concert

"Ruhm und Ewigkeit" (Fame and Eternity), a symphonic poem in B flat minor, Opus 48, by Johann Sigismund Timotheus Albert Wolfgang Kraus (1872-).

Kraus, like his eminent compatriot, Dr. Richard Strauss, has gone to Friedrich Nietzsche, the laureate of the modern German tone-art, for his inspiration in this gigantic work. His text is to be found in Nietzsche's Ecce Homo, which was not published until after the poet's death, but the composition really belongs to Also sprach Zarathustra, as a glance will show:

I

Wie lange sitzest du schon auf deinem Missgeschick? Gieb Acht! Du bruetest mir noch ein Ei, ein Basilisken-Ei, aus deinem langen Jammer aus.

II

Was schleicht Zarathustra entlang dem Berge?—

III

Misstrauisch, geschwuerig, duester, ein langer Lauerer,— aber ploetzlich, ein Blitz, hell, furchtbar, ein Schlag gen Himmel aus dem Abgrund: —dem Berge selber schuettelt sich das Eingeweide....

IV

Wo Hass und Blitzstrahl Eins ward, ein Fluch,— auf den Bergen haust jetzt Zarathustra's Zorn, eine Wetterwolke schleicht er seines Wegs.

V

Verkrieche sich, wer eine letzte Decke hat! In's Bett mit euch, ihr Zaertlinge! Nun rollen Donner ueber die Gewoelbe, nun zittert, was Gebaelk und Mauer ist, nun zucken Blitze und schwefelgelbe Wahrheiten— Zarathustra flucht ...!

For the following faithful and graceful translation the present commentator is indebted to Mr. Louis Untermeyer:

I

How long brood you now On thy disaster? Give heed! You hatch me soon An egg, From your long lamentation out of.

II

Why prowls Zarathustra among the mountains?

III

Distrustful, ulcerated, dismal, A long waiter— But suddenly a flash, Brilliant, fearful. A lightning stroke Leaps to heaven from the abyss: —The mountains shake themselves and Their intestines....

IV

As hate and lightning-flash Are united, a curse! On the mountains rages now Zarathustra's wrath, Like a thunder cloud rolls it on its way.

V

Crawl away, ye who have a roof remaining! To bed with you, ye tenderlings! Now thunder rolls over the great arches, Now tremble the bastions and battlements, Now flashes palpitate and sulphur-yellow truths— Zarathustra swears ...!

The composition is scored for three flutes, one piccolo, one bass piccolo, seven oboes, one English horn, three clarinets in D flat, one clarinet in G flat, one corno de bassetto, three bassoons, one contra-bassoon, eleven horns, three trumpets, eight cornets in B, four trombones, two alto trombones, one viol da gamba, one mandolin, two guitars, one banjo, two tubas, glockenspiel, bell, triangle, fife, bass-drum, cymbals, timpani, celesta, four harps, piano, harmonium, pianola, phonograph, and the usual strings.

At the opening a long B flat is sounded by the cornets, clarinets and bassoons in unison, with soft strokes upon a kettle-drum tuned to G sharp. After eighteen measures of this, singhiozzando, the strings enter pizzicato with a figure based upon one of the scales of the ancient Persians—B flat, C flat, D, E sharp, G and A flat—which starts high among the first violins, and then proceeds downward, through the second violins, violas and cellos, until it is lost in solemn and indistinct mutterings in the double-basses. Then, the atmosphere of doom having been established, and the conductor having found his place in the score, there is heard the motive of brooding, or as the German commentators call it, the Quaelerei Motiv:



The opening chord of the eleventh is sounded by six horns, and the chords of the ninth, which follow, are given to the woodwind. The rapid figure in the second measure is for solo violin, heard softly against the sustained interval of the diminished ninth, but the final G natural is snapped out by the whole orchestra sforzando. There follows a rapid and daring development of the theme, with the flutes and violoncellos leading, first harmonized with chords of the eleventh, then with chords of the thirteenth, and finally with chords of the fifteenth. Meanwhile, the tonality has moved into D minor, then into A flat major, and then into G sharp minor, and the little arpeggio for the solo violin has been augmented to seven, to eleven, and in the end to twenty-three notes. Here the influence of Claude Debussy shows itself; the chords of the ninth proceed by the same chromatic semitones that one finds in the Chansons de Bilitis. But Kraus goes much further than Debussy, for the tones of his chords are constantly altered in a strange and extremely beautiful manner, and, as has been noted, he adds the eleventh, thirteenth and fifteenth. At the end of this incomparable passage there is a sudden drop to C major, followed by the first statement of the Missgeschick Motiv, or motive of disaster (misfortune, evil destiny, untoward fate):



This graceful and ingratiating theme will give no concern to the student of Ravel and Schoenberg. It is, in fact, a quite elemental succession of intervals of the second, all produced by adding the ninth to the common chord—thus: C, G, C, D, E—with certain enharmonic changes. Its simplicity gives it, at a first hearing, a placid, pastoral aspect, somewhat disconcerting to the literalist, but the discerning will not fail to note the mutterings beneath the surface. It is first sounded by two violas and the viol da gamba, and then drops without change to the bass, where it is repeated fortissimo by two bassoons and the contra-bassoon. The tempo then quickens and the two themes so far heard are worked up into a brief but tempestuous fugue. A brief extract will suffice to show its enormously complex nature:



A pedal point on B flat is heard at the end of this fugue, sounded fortissimo by all the brass in unison, and then follows a grand pause, twelve and a half measures in length. Then, in the strings, is heard the motive of warning:



Out of this motive comes the harmonic material for much of what remains of the composition. At each repetition of the theme, the chord in the fourth measure is augmented by the addition of another interval, until in the end it includes every tone of the chromatic scale save C sharp. This omission is significant of Kraus' artistry. If C sharp were included the tonality would at once become vague, but without it the dependence of the whole gorgeous edifice upon C major is kept plain. At the end, indeed, the tonic chord of C major is clearly sounded by the wood-wind, against curious triplets, made up of F sharp, A flat and B flat in various combinations, in the strings; and from it a sudden modulation is made to C minor, and then to A flat major. This opens the way for the entrance of the motive of lamentation, or, as the German commentators call it, the Schreierei Motiv:



This simple and lovely theme is first sounded, not by any of the usual instruments of the grand orchestra, but by a phonograph in B flat, with the accompaniment of a solitary trombone. When the composition was first played at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig the innovation caused a sensation, and there were loud cries of sacrilege and even proposals of police action. One indignant classicist, in token of his ire, hung a wreath of Knackwuerste around the neck of the bust of Johann Sebastian Bach in the Thomaskirche, and appended to it a card bearing the legend, Schweinehund! But the exquisite beauty of the effect soon won acceptance for the means employed to attain it, and the phonograph has so far made its way with German composers that Prof. Ludwig Grossetrommel, of Goettingen, has even proposed its employment in opera in place of singers.

This motive of lamentation is worked out on a grand scale, and in intimate association with the motives of brooding and of warning. Kraus is not content with the ordinary materials of composition. His creative force is always impelling him to break through the fetters of the diatonic scale, and to find utterance for his ideas in archaic and extremely exotic tonalities. The pentatonic scale is a favorite with him; he employs it as boldly as Wagner did in Das Rheingold. But it is not enough, for he proceeds from it into the Dorian mode of the ancient Greeks, and then into the Phrygian, and then into two of the plagal modes. Moreover, he constantly combines both unrelated scales and antagonistic motives, and invests the combinations in astounding orchestral colors, so that the hearer, unaccustomed to such bold experimentations, is quite lost in the maze. Here, for example, is a characteristic passage for solo French horn and bass piccolo:



The dotted half notes for the horn obviously come from the motive of brooding, in augmentation, but the bass piccolo part is new. It soon appears, however, in various fresh aspects, and in the end it enters into the famous quadruple motive of "sulphur-yellow truth"—schwefelgelbe Wahrheit, as we shall presently see. Its first combination is with a jaunty figure in A minor, and the two together form what most of the commentators agree upon denominating the Zarathustra motive:



I call this the Zarathustra motive, following the weight of critical opinion, but various influential critics dissent. Thus, Dr. Ferdinand Bierfisch, of the Hochschule fuer Musik at Dresden, insists that it is the theme of "the elevated mood produced by the spiritual isolation and low barometric pressure of the mountains," while Prof. B. Moll, of Frankfurt a/M., calls it the motive of prowling. Kraus himself, when asked by Dr. Fritz Bratsche, of the Berlin Volkszeitung, shrugged his shoulders and answered in his native Hamburg dialect, "So gehts im Leben! 'S giebt gar kein Use"—Such is life; it gives hardly any use (to inquire?). In much the same way Schubert made reply to one who asked the meaning of the opening subject of the slow movement of his C major symphony: "Halt's Maul, du verfluchter Narr!"—Don't ask such question, my dear sir!

But whatever the truth, the novelty and originality of the theme cannot be denied, for it is in two distinct keys, D major and A minor, and they preserve their identity whenever it appears. The handling of two such diverse tonalities at one time would present insuperable difficulties to a composer less ingenious than Kraus, but he manages it quite simply by founding his whole harmonic scheme upon the tonic triad of D major, with the seventh and ninth added. He thus achieves a chord which also contains the tonic triad of A minor. The same thing is now done with the dominant triads, and half the battle is won. Moreover, the instrumentation shows the same boldness, for the double theme is first given to three solo violins, and they are muted in a novel and effective manner by stopping their F holes. The directions in the score say mit Glaserkitt (that is, with glazier's putty), but the Konzertmeister at the Gewandhaus, Herr F. Dur, substituted ordinary pumpernickel with excellent results. It is, in fact, now commonly used in the German orchestras in place of putty, for it does less injury to the varnish of the violins, and, besides, it is edible after use. It produces a thick, oily, mysterious, far-away effect.

At the start, as I have just said, the double theme of Zarathustra appears in D major and A minor, but there is quick modulation to B flat major and C sharp minor, and then to C major and F sharp minor. Meanwhile the tempo gradually accelerates, and the polyphonic texture is helped out by reminiscences of the themes of brooding and of lamentation. A sudden hush and the motive of warning is heard high in the wood-wind, in C flat major, against a double organ-point—C natural and C sharp—in the lower strings. There follows a cadenza of no less than eighty-four measures for four harps, tympani and a single tuba, and then the motive of waiting is given out by the whole orchestra in unison:



This stately motive is repeated in F major, after which some passage work for the piano and pianola, the former tuned a quarter tone lower than the latter and played by three performers, leads directly into the quadruple theme of the sulphur-yellow truth, mentioned above. It is first given out by two oboes divided, a single English horn, two bassoons in unison, and four trombones in unison. It is an extraordinarily long motive, running to twenty-seven measures on its first appearance; the four opening measures are given on the next page.



With an exception yet to be noted, all of the composer's thematic material is now set forth, and what follows is a stupendous development of it, so complex that no written description could even faintly indicate its character. The quadruple theme of the sulphur-yellow truth is sung almost uninterruptedly, first by the wood-wind, then by the strings and then by the full brass choir, with the glockenspiel and cymbals added. Into it are woven all of the other themes in inextricable whirls and whorls of sound, and in most amazing combinations and permutations of tonalities. Moreover, there is a constantly rising complexity of rhythm, and on one page of the score the time signature is changed no less than eighteen times. Several times it is 5-8 and 7-4; once it is 11-2; in one place the composer, following Koechlin and Erik Satie, abandons bar-lines altogether for half a page of the score. And these diverse rhythms are not always merely successive; sometimes they are heard together. For example, the motive of disaster, augmented to 5-8 time, is sounded clearly by the clarinets against the motive of lamentation in 3-4 time, and through it all one hears the steady beat of the motive of waiting in 4-4!

This gigantic development of materials is carried to a thrilling climax, with the whole orchestra proclaiming the Zarathustra motive fortissimo. Then follows a series of arpeggios for the harps, made of the motive of warning, and out of them there gradually steals the tonic triad of D minor, sung by three oboes. This chord constitutes the backbone of all that follows. The three oboes are presently joined by a fourth. Against this curtain of tone the flutes and piccolos repeat the theme of brooding in F major, and then join the oboes in the D minor chord. The horns and bassoons follow with the motive of disaster and then do likewise. Now come the violins with the motive of lamentation, but instead of ending with the D minor tonic triad, they sound a chord of the seventh erected on C sharp as seventh of D minor. Every tone of the scale of D minor is now being sounded, and as instrument after instrument joins in the effect is indescribably sonorous and imposing. Meanwhile, there is a steady crescendo, ending after three minutes of truly tremendous music with ten sharp blasts of the double chord. A moment of silence and a single trombone gives out a theme hitherto not heard. It is the theme of tenderness, or, as the German commentators call it, the Biermad'l Motiv: Thus:



Again silence. Then a single piccolo plays the closing cadence of the composition:



Ruhm und Ewigkeit presents enormous difficulties to the performers, and taxes the generalship of the most skillful conductor. When it was in preparation at the Gewandhaus the first performance was postponed twelve times in order to extend the rehearsals. It was reported in the German papers at the time that ten members of the orchestra, including the first flutist, Ewald Loewenhals, resigned during the rehearsals, and that the intervention of the King of Saxony was necessary to make them reconsider their resignations. One of the second violins, Hugo Zehndaumen, resorted to stimulants in anticipation of the opening performance, and while on his way to the hall was run over by a taxicab. The conductor was Nikisch. A performance at Munich followed, and on May 1, 1913, the work reached Berlin. At the public rehearsal there was a riot led by members of the Bach Gesellschaft, and the hall was stormed by the mounted police. Many arrests were made, and five of the rioters were taken to hospital with serious injuries. The work was put into rehearsal by the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 1914. The rehearsals have been proceeding ever since. A piano transcription for sixteen hands has been published.

Kraus was born at Hamburg on January 14, 1872. At the age of three he performed creditably on the zither, cornet and trombone, and by 1877 he had already appeared in concert at Danzig. His family was very poor, and his early years were full of difficulties. It is said that, at the age of nine, he copied the whole score of Wagner's Ring, the scores of the nine Beethoven symphonies and the complete works of Mozart. His regular teacher, in those days, was Stadtpfeifer Schmidt, who instructed him in piano and thorough-bass. In 1884, desiring to have lessons in counterpoint from Prof. Kalbsbraten, of Mainz, he walked to that city from Hamburg once a week—a distance for the round trip of 316 miles. In 1887 he went to Berlin and became fourth cornetist of the Philharmonic Orchestra and valet to Dr. Schweinsrippen, the conductor. In Berlin he studied violin and second violin under the Polish virtuoso, Pbyschbrweski, and also had lessons in composition from Wilhelm Geigenheimer, formerly third triangle and assistant librarian at Bayreuth.

His first composition, a march for cornet, violin and piano, was performed on July 18, 1888, at the annual ball of the Arbeiter Liedertafel in Berlin. It attracted little attention, but six months later the young composer made musical Berlin talk about him by producing a composition called Adenoids, for twelve tenors, a cappella, to words by Otto Julius Bierbaum. This was first heard at an open air concert given in the Tiergarten by the Sozialist Liederkranz. It was soon after repeated by the choir of the Gottesgelehrheitsakademie, and Kraus found himself a famous young man. His string quartet in G sharp minor, first played early in 1889 by the quartet led by Prof. Rudolph Wurst, added to his growing celebrity, and when his first tone poem for orchestra, Fuchs, Du Hast die Gans Gestohlen, was done by the Philharmonic in the autumn of 1889, under Dr. Lachschinken, it was hailed with acclaim.

Kraus has since written twelve symphonies (two choral), nine tone-poems, a suite for brass and tympani, a trio for harp, tuba and glockenspiel, ten string quartettes, a serenade for flute and contra-bassoon, four concert overtures, a cornet concerto, and many songs and piano pieces. His best-known work, perhaps, is his symphony in F flat major, in eight movements. But Kraus himself is said to regard this huge work as trivial. His own favorite, according to his biographer, Dr. Linsensuppe, is Ruhm und Ewigkeit, though he is also fond of the tone-poem which immediately preceded it, Rinderbrust und Meerrettig. He has written a choral for sixty trombones, dedicated to Field Marshal von Hindenburg, and is said to be at work on a military mass for four orchestras, seven brass bands and ten choirs, with the usual soloists and clergy. Among his principal works are Der Ewigen Wiederkunft (a ten part fugue for full orchestra), Biergemuetlichkeit, his Oberkellner and Uebermensch concert overtures, and his setting (for mixed chorus) of the old German hymn:

Saufst—stirbst! Saufst net—stirbst a! Also, saufst!

Kraus is now a resident of Munich, where he conducts the orchestra at the Loewenbraeuhaus. He has been married eight times and is at present the fifth husband of Tilly Heintz, the opera singer. He has been decorated by the Kaiser, by the King of Sweden and by the Sultan of Turkey, and is a member of the German Odd Fellows.



III.—THE WEDDING

III.—The Wedding. A Stage Direction

_The scene is a church in an American city of about half a million population, and the time is about eleven o'clock of a fine morning in early spring. The neighborhood is well-to-do, but not quite fashionable. That is to say, most of the families of the vicinage keep two servants (alas, more or less intermittently!), and eat dinner at half-past six, and about one in every four boasts a colored butler (who attends to the fires, washes windows and helps with the sweeping), and a last year's automobile. The heads of these families are merchandise brokers; jobbers in notions, hardware and drugs; manufacturers of candy, hats, badges, office furniture, blank books, picture frames, wire goods and patent medicines; managers of steamboat lines; district agents of insurance companies; owners of commercial printing offices, and other such business men of substance—and the prosperous lawyers and popular family doctors who keep them out of trouble. In one block live a Congressman and two college professors, one of whom has written an unimportant textbook and got himself into "Who's Who in America." In the block above lives a man who once ran for Mayor of the city, and came near being elected.

The wives of these householders wear good clothes and have a liking for a reasonable gayety, but very few of them can pretend to what is vaguely called social standing, and, to do them justice, not many of them waste any time lamenting it. They have, taking one with another, about three children apiece, and are good mothers. A few of them belong to women's clubs or flirt with the suffragettes, but the majority can get all of the intellectual stimulation they crave in the Ladies' Home Journal and the Saturday Evening Post, with Vogue added for its fashions. Most of them, deep down in their hearts, suspect their husbands of secret frivolity, and about ten per cent. have the proofs, but it is rare for them to make rows about it, and the divorce rate among them is thus very low. Themselves indifferent cooks, they are unable to teach their servants the art, and so the food they set before their husbands and children is often such as would make a Frenchman cut his throat. But they are diligent housewives otherwise; they see to it that the windows are washed, that no one tracks mud into the hall, that the servants do not waste coal, sugar, soap and gas, and that the family buttons are always sewed on. In religion these estimable wives are pious in habit but somewhat nebulous in faith. That is to say, they regard any person who specifically refuses to go to church as a heathen, but they themselves are by no means regular in attendance, and not one in ten of them could tell you whether transubstantiation is a Roman Catholic or a Dunkard doctrine. About two per cent. have dallied more or less gingerly with Christian Science, their average period of belief being one year.

The church we are in is like the neighborhood and its people: well-to-do but not fashionable. It is Protestant in faith and probably Episcopalian. The pews are of thick, yellow-brown oak, severe in pattern and hideous in color. In each there is a long, removable cushion of a dark, purplish, dirty hue, with here and there some of its hair stuffing showing. The stained-glass windows, which were all bought ready-made and depict scenes from the New Testament, commemorate the virtues of departed worthies of the neighborhood, whose names appear, in illegible black letters, in the lower panels. The floor is covered with a carpet of some tough, fibrous material, apparently a sort of grass, and along the center aisle it is much worn. The normal smell of the place is rather less unpleasant than that of most other halls, for on the one day when it is regularly crowded practically all of the persons gathered together have been very recently bathed.

On this fine morning, however, it is full of heavy, mortuary perfumes, for a couple of florist's men have just finished decorating the chancel with flowers and potted palms. Just behind the chancel rail, facing the center aisle, there is a prie-dieu, and to either side of it are great banks of lilies, carnations, gardenias and roses. Three or four feet behind the prie-dieu and completely concealing the high altar, there is a dense jungle of palms. Those in the front rank are authentically growing in pots, but behind them the florist's men have artfully placed some more durable, and hence more profitable, sophistications. Anon the rev. clergyman, emerging from the vestry-room to the right, will pass along the front of this jungle to the prie-dieu, and so, framed in flowers, face the congregation with his saponaceous smile.

The florist's men, having completed their labors, are preparing to depart. The older of the two, a man in the fifties, shows the ease of an experienced hand by taking out a large plug of tobacco and gnawing off a substantial chew. The desire to spit seizing him shortly, he proceeds to gratify it by a trick long practised by gasfitters, musicians, caterer's helpers, piano movers and other such alien invaders of the domestic hearth. That is to say, he hunts for a place where the carpet is loose along the chancel rail, finds it where two lengths join, deftly turns up a flap, spits upon the bare floor, and then lets the flap fall back, finally giving it a pat with the sole of his foot. This done, he and his assistant leave the church to the sexton, who has been sweeping the vestibule, and, after passing the time of day with the two men who are putting up a striped awning from the door to the curb, disappear into a nearby speak-easy, there to wait and refresh themselves until the wedding is over, and it is time to take away their lilies, their carnations and their synthetic palms.

It is now a quarter past eleven, and two flappers of the neighborhood, giggling and arm-in-arm, approach the sexton and inquire of him if they may enter. He asks them if they have tickets and when they say they haven't, he tells them that he ain't got no right to let them in, and don't know nothing about what the rule is going to be. At some weddings, he goes on, hardly nobody ain't allowed in, but then again, sometimes they don't scarcely look at the tickets at all. The two flappers retire abashed, and as the sexton finishes his sweeping, there enters the organist.

The organist is a tall, thin man of melancholy, uraemic aspect, wearing a black slouch hat with a wide brim and a yellow overcoat that barely reaches to his knees. A pupil, in his youth, of a man who had once studied (irregularly and briefly) with Charles-Marie Widor, he acquired thereby the artistic temperament, and with it a vast fondness for malt liquor. His mood this morning is acidulous and depressed, for he spent yesterday evening in a Pilsner ausschank with two former members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and it was 3 A. M. before they finally agreed that Johann Sebastian Bach, all things considered, was a greater man than Beethoven, and so parted amicably. Sourness is the precise sensation that wells within him. He feels vinegary; his blood runs cold; he wishes he could immerse himself in bicarbonate of soda. But the call of his art is more potent than the protest of his poisoned and quaking liver, and so he manfully climbs the spiral stairway to his organ-loft.

Once there, he takes off his hat and overcoat, stoops down to blow the dust off the organ keys, throws the electrical switch which sets the bellows going, and then proceeds to take off his shoes. This done, he takes his seat, reaches for the pedals with his stockinged feet, tries an experimental 32-foot CCC, and then wanders gently into a Bach toccata. It is his limbering-up piece: he always plays it as a prelude to a wedding job. It thus goes very smoothly and even brilliantly, but when he comes to the end of it and tackles the ensuing fugue he is quickly in difficulties, and after four or five stumbling repetitions of the subject he hurriedly improvises a crude coda and has done. Peering down into the church to see if his flounderings have had an audience, he sees two old maids enter, the one very tall and thin and the other somewhat brisk and bunchy.

They constitute the vanguard of the nuptial throng, and as they proceed hesitatingly up the center aisle, eager for good seats but afraid to go too far, the organist wipes his palms upon his trousers legs, squares his shoulders, and plunges into the program that he has played at all weddings for fifteen years past. It begins with Mendelssohn's Spring Song, pianissimo. Then comes Rubinstein's Melody in F, with a touch of forte toward the close, and then Nevin's "Oh, That We Two Were Maying" and then the Chopin waltz in A flat, Opus 69, No. 1, and then the Spring Song again, and then a free fantasia upon "The Rosary" and then a Moszkowski mazurka, and then the Dvorak Humoresque (with its heart-rending cry in the middle), and then some vague and turbulent thing (apparently the disjecta membra of another fugue), and then Tschaikowsky's "Autumn," and then Elgar's "Salut d'Amour," and then the Spring Song a third time, and then something or other from one of the Peer Gynt suites, and then an hurrah or two from the Hallelujah chorus, and then Chopin again, and Nevin, and Elgar, and——

But meanwhile, there is a growing activity below. First comes a closed automobile bearing the six ushers and soon after it another automobile bearing the bridegroom and his best man. The bridegroom and the best man disembark before the side entrance of the church and make their way into the vestry room, where they remove their hats and coats, and proceed to struggle with their cravats and collars before a mirror which hangs on the wall. The room is very dingy. A baize-covered table is in the center of it, and around the table stand six or eight chairs of assorted designs. One wall is completely covered by a bookcase, through the glass doors of which one may discern piles of cheap Bibles, hymn-books and back numbers of the parish magazine. In one corner is a small washstand. The best man takes a flat flask of whiskey from his pocket, looks about him for a glass, finds it on the washstand, rinses it at the tap, fills it with a policeman's drink, and hands it to the bridegroom. The latter downs it at a gulp. Then the best man pours out one for himself.

The ushers, reaching the vestibule of the church, have handed their silk hats to the sexton, and entered the sacred edifice. There was a rehearsal of the wedding last night, but after it was over the bride ordered certain incomprehensible changes in the plan, and the ushers are now completely at sea. All they know clearly is that the relatives of the bride are to be seated on one side and the relatives of the bridegroom on the other. But which side for one and which for the other? They discuss it heatedly for three minutes and then find that they stand three for putting the bride's relatives on the left side and three for putting them on the right side. The debate, though instructive, is interrupted by the sudden entrance of seven women in a group. They are headed by a truculent old battleship, possibly an aunt or something of the sort, who fixes the nearest usher with a knowing, suspicious glance, and motions to him to show her the way.

He offers her his right arm and they start up the center aisle, with the six other women following in irregular order, and the five other ushers scattered among the women. The leading usher is tortured damnably by doubts as to where the party should go. If they are aunts, to which house do they belong, and on which side are the members of that house to be seated? What if they are not aunts, but merely neighbors? Or perhaps an association of former cooks, parlor maids, nurse girls? Or strangers? The sufferings of the usher are relieved by the battleship, who halts majestically about twenty feet from the altar, and motions her followers into a pew to the left. They file in silently and she seats herself next the aisle. All seven settle back and wriggle for room. It is a tight fit.

(Who, in point of fact, are these ladies? Don't ask the question! The ushers never find out. No one ever finds out. They remain a joint mystery for all time. In the end they become a sort of tradition, and years hence, when two of the ushers meet, they will cackle over old dreadnaught and her six cruisers. The bride, grown old and fat, will tell the tale to her daughter, and then to her granddaughter. It will grow more and more strange, marvelous, incredible. Variorum versions will spring up. It will be adapted to other weddings. The dreadnaught will become an apparition, a witch, the Devil in skirts. And as the years pass, the date of the episode will be pushed back. By 2017 it will be dated 1150. By 2475 it will take on a sort of sacred character, and there will be a footnote referring to it in the latest Revised Version of the New Testament.)

It is now a quarter to twelve, and of a sudden the vestibule fills with wedding guests. Nine-tenths of them, perhaps even nineteen-twentieths, are women, and most of them are beyond thirty-five. Scattered among them, hanging on to their skirts, are about a dozen little girls—one of them a youngster of eight or thereabout, with spindle shanks and shining morning face, entranced by her first wedding. Here and there lurks a man. Usually he wears a hurried, unwilling, protesting look. He has been dragged from his office on a busy morning, forced to rush home and get into his cut-away coat, and then marched to the church by his wife. One of these men, much hustled, has forgotten to have his shoes shined. He is intensely conscious of them, and tries to hide them behind his wife's skirt as they walk up the aisle. Accidentally he steps upon it, and gets a look over the shoulder which lifts his diaphragm an inch and turns his liver to water. This man will be courtmartialed when he reaches home, and he knows it. He wishes that some foreign power would invade the United States and burn down all the churches in the country, and that the bride, the bridegroom and all the other persons interested in the present wedding were dead and in hell.

The ushers do their best to seat these wedding guests in some sort of order, but after a few minutes the crowd at the doors becomes so large that they have to give it up, and thereafter all they can do is to hold out their right arms ingratiatingly and trust to luck. One of them steps on a fat woman's skirt, tearing it very badly, and she has to be helped back to the vestibule. There she seeks refuge in a corner, under a stairway leading up to the steeple, and essays to repair the damage with pins produced from various nooks and crevices of her person. Meanwhile the guilty usher stands in front of her, mumbling apologies and trying to look helpful. When she finishes her work and emerges from her improvised dry-dock, he again offers her his arm, but she sweeps past him without noticing him, and proceeds grandly to a seat far forward. She is a cousin to the bride's mother, and will make a report to every branch of the family that all six ushers disgraced the ceremony by appearing at it far gone in liquor.

Fifteen minutes are consumed by such episodes and divertisements. By the time the clock in the steeple strikes twelve the church is well filled. The music of the organist, who has now reached Mendelssohn's Spring Song for the third and last time, is accompanied by a huge buzz of whispers, and there is much craning of necks and long-distance nodding and smiling. Here and there an unusually gorgeous hat is the target of many converging glances, and of as many more or less satirical criticisms. To the damp funeral smell of the flowers at the altar, there has been added the cacodorous scents of forty or fifty different brands of talcum and rice powder. It begins to grow warm in the church, and a number of women open their vanity bags and duck down for stealthy dabs at their noses. Others, more reverent, suffer the agony of augmenting shines. One, a trickster, has concealed powder in her pocket handkerchief, and applies it dexterously while pretending to blow her nose.

The bridegroom in the vestry-room, entering upon the second year (or is it the third?) of his long and ghastly wait, grows increasingly nervous, and when he hears the organist pass from the Spring Song into some more sonorous and stately thing he mistakes it for the wedding march from "Lohengrin," and is hot for marching upon the altar at once. The best man, an old hand, restrains him gently, and administers another sedative from the bottle. The bridegroom's thoughts turn to gloomy things. He remembers sadly that he will never be able to laugh at benedicts again; that his days of low, rabelaisian wit and care-free scoffing are over; that he is now the very thing he mocked so gaily but yesteryear. Like a drowning man, he passes his whole life in review—not, however, that part which is past, but that part which is to come. Odd fancies throng upon him. He wonders what his honeymoon will cost him, what there will be to drink at the wedding breakfast, what a certain girl in Chicago will say when she hears of his marriage. Will there be any children? He rather hopes not, for all those he knows appear so greasy and noisy, but he decides that he might conceivably compromise on a boy. But how is he going to make sure that it will not be a girl? The thing, as yet, is a medical impossibility—but medicine is making rapid strides. Why not wait until the secret is discovered? This sapient compromise pleases the bridegroom, and he proceeds to a consideration of various problems of finance. And then, of a sudden, the organist swings unmistakably into "Lohengrin" and the best man grabs him by the arm.

There is now great excitement in the church. The bride's mother, two sisters, three brothers and three sisters-in-law have just marched up the center aisle and taken seats in the front pew, and all the women in the place are craning their necks toward the door. The usual electrical delay ensues. There is something the matter with the bride's train, and the two bridesmaids have a deuce of a time fixing it. Meanwhile the bride's father, in tight pantaloons and tighter gloves, fidgets and fumes in the vestibule, the six ushers crowd about him inanely, and the sexton rushes to and fro like a rat in a trap. Finally, all being ready, with the ushers formed two abreast, the sexton pushes a button, a small buzzer sounds in the organ loft, and the organist, as has been said, plunges magnificently into the fanfare of the "Lohengrin" march. Simultaneously the sexton opens the door at the bottom of the main aisle, and the wedding procession gets under weigh.

The bride and her father march first. Their step is so slow (about one beat to two measures) that the father has some difficulty in maintaining his equilibrium, but the bride herself moves steadily and erectly, almost seeming to float. Her face is thickly encrusted with talcum in its various forms, so that she is almost a dead white. She keeps her eyelids lowered modestly, but is still acutely aware of every glance fastened upon her—not in the mass, but every glance individually. For example, she sees clearly, even through her eyelids, the still, cold smile of a girl in Pew 8 R—a girl who once made an unwomanly attempt upon the bridegroom's affections, and was routed and put to flight by superior strategy. And her ears are open, too: she hears every "How sweet!" and "Oh, lovely!" and "Ain't she pale!" from the latitude of the last pew to the very glacis of the altar of God.

While she has thus made her progress up the hymeneal chute, the bridegroom and his best man have emerged from the vestryroom and begun the short march to the prie-dieu. They walk haltingly, clumsily, uncertainly, stealing occasional glances at the advancing bridal party. The bridegroom feels of his lower right-hand waistcoat pocket; the ring is still there. The best man wriggles his cuffs. No one, however, pays any heed to them. They are not even seen, indeed, until the bride and her father reach the open space in front of the altar. There the bride and the bridegroom find themselves standing side by side, but not a word is exchanged between them, nor even a look of recognition. They stand motionless, contemplating the ornate cushion at their feet, until the bride's father and the bridesmaids file to the left of the bride and the ushers, now wholly disorganized and imbecile, drape themselves in an irregular file along the altar rail. Then, the music having died down to a faint murmur and a hush having fallen upon the assemblage, they look up.

Before them, framed by foliage, stands the reverend gentleman of God who will presently link them in indissoluble chains—the estimable rector of the parish. He has got there just in time; it was, indeed, a close shave. But no trace of haste or of anything else of a disturbing character is now visible upon his smooth, glistening, somewhat feverish face. That face is wholly occupied by his official smile, a thing of oil and honey all compact, a balmy, unctuous illumination—the secret of his success in life. Slowly his cheeks puff out, gleaming like soap-bubbles. Slowly he lifts his prayer-book from the prie-dieu and holds it droopingly. Slowly his soft caressing eyes engage it. There is an almost imperceptible stiffening of his frame. His mouth opens with a faint click. He begins to read.

The Ceremony of Marriage has begun._



IV.—THE VISIONARY

IV.—The Visionary

"Yes," said Cheops, helping his guest over a ticklish place, "I daresay this pile of rocks will last. It has cost me a pretty penny, believe me. I made up my mind at the start that it would be built of honest stone, or not at all. No cheap and shoddy brickwork for me! Look at Babylon. It's all brick, and it's always tumbling down. My ambassador there tells me that it costs a million a year to keep up the walls alone—mind you, the walls alone! What must it cost to keep up the palace, with all that fancy work!

"Yes, I grant you that brickwork looks good. But what of it? So does a cheap cotton night-shirt—you know the gaudy things those Theban peddlers sell to my sand-hogs down on the river bank. But does it last? Of course it doesn't. Well, I am putting up this pyramid to stay put, and I don't give a damn for its looks. I hear all sorts of funny cracks about it. My barber is a sharp nigger and keeps his ears open: he brings me all the gossip. But I let it go. This is my pyramid. I am putting up the money for it, and I have got to be mortared up in it when I die. So I am trying to make a good, substantial job of it, and letting the mere beauty of it go hang.

"Anyhow, there are plenty of uglier things in Egypt. Look at some of those fifth-rate pyramids up the river. When it comes to shape they are pretty much the same as this one, and when it comes to size, they look like warts beside it. And look at the Sphinx. There is something that cost four millions if it cost a copper—and what is it now? A burlesque! A caricature! An architectural cripple! So long as it was new, good enough! It was a showy piece of work. People came all the way from Sicyonia and Tyre to gape at it. Everybody said it was one of the sights no one could afford to miss. But by and by a piece began to peel off here and another piece there, and then the nose cracked, and then an ear dropped off, and then one of the eyes began to get mushy and watery looking, and finally it was a mere smudge, a false-face, a scarecrow. My father spent a lot of money trying to fix it up, but what good did it do? By the time he had the nose cobbled the ears were loose again, and so on. In the end he gave it up as a bad job.

"Yes; this pyramid has kept me on the jump, but I'm going to stick to it if it breaks me. Some say I ought to have built it across the river, where the quarries are. Such gabble makes me sick. Do I look like a man who would go looking around for such child's-play? I hope not. A one-legged man could have done that. Even a Babylonian could have done it. It would have been as easy as milking a cow. What I wanted was something that would keep me on the jump—something that would put a strain on me. So I decided to haul the whole business across the river—six million tons of rock. And when the engineers said that it couldn't be done, I gave them two days to get out of Egypt, and then tackled it myself. It was something new and hard. It was a job I could get my teeth into.

"Well, I suppose you know what a time I had of it at the start. First I tried a pontoon bridge, but the stones for the bottom course were so heavy that they sank the pontoons, and I lost a couple of hundred niggers before I saw that it couldn't be done. Then I tried a big raft, but in order to get her to float with the stones I had to use such big logs that she was unwieldy, and before I knew what had struck me I had lost six big dressed stones and another hundred niggers. I got the laugh, of course. Every numskull in Egypt wagged his beard over it; I could hear the chatter myself. But I kept quiet and stuck to the problem, and by and by I solved it.

"I suppose you know how I did it. In a general way? Well, the details are simple. First I made a new raft, a good deal lighter than the old one, and then I got a thousand water-tight goat-skins and had them blown up until they were as tight as drums. Then I got together a thousand niggers who were good swimmers, and gave each of them one of the blown-up goat-skins. On each goat-skin there was a leather thong, and on the bottom of the raft, spread over it evenly, there were a thousand hooks. Do you get the idea? Yes; that's it exactly. The niggers dived overboard with the goat-skins, swam under the raft, and tied the thongs to the hooks. And when all of them were tied on, the raft floated like a bladder. You simply couldn't sink it.

"Naturally enough, the thing took time, and there were accidents and setbacks. For instance, some of the niggers were so light in weight that they couldn't hold their goat-skins under water long enough to get them under the raft. I had to weight those fellows by having rocks tied around their middles. And when they had fastened their goat-skins and tried to swim back, some of them were carried down by the rocks. I never made any exact count, but I suppose that two or three hundred of them were drowned in that way. Besides, a couple of hundred were drowned because they couldn't hold their breaths long enough to swim under the raft and back. But what of it? I wasn't trying to hoard up niggers, but to make a raft that would float. And I did it.

"Well, once I showed how it could be done, all the wiseacres caught the idea, and after that I put a big gang to work making more rafts, and by and by I had sixteen of them in operation, and was hauling more stone than the masons could set. But I won't go into all that. Here is the pyramid; it speaks for itself. One year more and I'll have the top course laid and begin on the surfacing. I am going to make it plain marble, with no fancy work. I could bring in a gang of Theban stonecutters and have it carved all over with lions' heads and tiger claws and all that sort of gim-crackery, but why waste time and money? This isn't a menagerie, but a pyramid. My idea was to make it the boss pyramid of the world. The king who tries to beat it will have to get up pretty early in the morning.

"But what troubles I have had! Believe me, there has been nothing but trouble, trouble, trouble from the start. I set aside the engineering difficulties. They were hard for the engineers, but easy for me, once I put my mind on them. But the way these niggers have carried on has been something terrible. At the beginning I had only a thousand or two, and they all came from one tribe; so they got along fairly well. During the whole first year I doubt that more than twenty or thirty were killed in fights. But then I began to get fresh batches from up the river, and after that it was nothing but one fight after another. For two weeks running not a stroke of work was done. I really thought, at one time, that I'd have to give up. But finally the army put down the row, and after a couple of hundred of the ringleaders had been thrown into the river peace was restored. But it cost me, first and last, fully three thousand niggers, and set me back at least six months.

"Then came the so-called labor unions, and the strikes, and more trouble. These labor unions were started by a couple of smart, yellow niggers from Chaldea, one of them a sort of lay preacher, a fellow with a lot of gab. Before I got wind of them, they had gone so far it was almost impossible to squelch them. First I tried conciliation, but it didn't work a bit. They made the craziest demands you ever heard of—a holiday every six days, meat every day, no night work and regular houses to live in. Some of them even had the effrontery to ask for money! Think of it! Niggers asking for money! Finally, I had to order out the army again and let some blood. But every time one was knocked over, I had to get another one to take his place, and that meant sending the army up the river, and more expense, and more devilish worry and nuisance.

"In my grandfather's time niggers were honest and faithful workmen. You could take one fresh from the bush, teach him to handle a shovel or pull a rope in a year or so, and after that he was worth almost as much as he could eat. But the nigger of to-day isn't worth a damn. He never does an honest day's work if he can help it, and he is forever wanting something. Take these fellows I have now—mainly young bucks from around the First Cataract. Here are niggers who never saw baker's bread or butcher's meat until my men grabbed them. They lived there in the bush like so many hyenas. They were ten days' march from a lemon. Well, now they get first-class beef twice a week, good bread and all the fish they can catch. They don't have to begin work until broad daylight, and they lay off at dark. There is hardly one of them that hasn't got a psaltery, or a harp, or some other musical instrument. If they want to dress up and make believe they are Egyptians, I give them clothes. If one of them is killed on the work, or by a stray lion, or in a fight, I have him embalmed by my own embalmers and plant him like a man. If one of them breaks a leg or loses an arm or gets too old to work, I turn him loose without complaining, and he is free to go home if he wants to.

"But are they contented? Do they show any gratitude? Not at all. Scarcely a day passes that I don't hear of some fresh soldiering. And, what is worse, they have stirred up some of my own people—the carpenters, stone-cutters, gang bosses and so on. Every now and then my inspectors find some rotten libel cut on a stone—something to the effect that I am overworking them, and knocking them about, and holding them against their will, and generally mistreating them. I haven't the slightest doubt that some of these inscriptions have actually gone into the pyramid: it's impossible to watch every stone. Well, in the years to come, they will be dug out and read by strangers, and I will get a black eye. People will think of Cheops as a heartless old rapscallion—me, mind you! Can you beat it?"



V.—THE ARTIST

V.—The Artist. A Drama Without Words

CHARACTERS:

A GREAT PIANIST A JANITOR SIX MUSICAL CRITICS A MARRIED WOMAN A VIRGIN SIXTEEN HUNDRED AND FORTY-THREE OTHER WOMEN SIX OTHER MEN

PLACE—A City of the United States.

TIME—A December afternoon.

(During the action of the play not a word is uttered aloud. All of the speeches of the characters are supposed to be unspoken meditations only.)

A large, gloomy hall, with many rows of uncushioned, uncomfortable seats, designed, it would seem, by some one misinformed as to the average width of the normal human pelvis. A number of busts of celebrated composers, once white, but now a dirty gray, stand in niches along the walls. At one end of the hall there is a bare, uncarpeted stage, with nothing on it save a grand piano and a chair. It is raining outside, and, as hundreds of people come crowding in, the air is laden with the mingled scents of umbrellas, raincoats, goloshes, cosmetics, perfumery and wet hair.

At eight minutes past four, THE JANITOR, after smoothing his hair with his hands and putting on a pair of detachable cuffs, emerges from the wings and crosses the stage, his shoes squeaking hideously at each step. Arriving at the piano, he opens it with solemn slowness. The job seems so absurdly trivial, even to so mean an understanding, that he can't refrain from glorifying it with a bit of hocus-pocus. This takes the form of a careful adjustment of a mysterious something within the instrument. He reaches in, pauses a moment as if in doubt, reaches in again, and then permits a faint smile of conscious sapience and efficiency to illuminate his face. All of this accomplished, he tiptoes back to the wings, his shoes again squeaking.

THE JANITOR

Now all of them people think I'm the professor's tuner. (The thought gives him such delight that, for the moment, his brain is numbed. Then he proceeds.) I guess them tuners make pretty good money. I wish I could get the hang of the trick. It looks easy. (By this time he has disappeared in the wings and the stage is again a desert. Two or three women, far back in the hall, start a halfhearted handclapping. It dies out at once. The noise of rustling programs and shuffling feet succeeds it.)

FOUR HUNDRED OF THE WOMEN

Oh, I do certainly hope he plays that lovely Valse Poupee as an encore! They say he does it better than Bloomfield-Zeisler.

ONE OF THE CRITICS

I hope the animal doesn't pull any encore numbers that I don't recognize. All of these people will buy the paper to-morrow morning just to find out what they have heard. It's infernally embarrassing to have to ask the manager. The public expects a musical critic to be a sort of walking thematic catalogue. The public is an ass.

THE SIX OTHER MEN

Oh, Lord! What a way to spend an afternoon!

A HUNDRED OF THE WOMEN

I wonder if he's as handsome as Paderewski.

ANOTHER HUNDRED OF THE WOMEN

I wonder if he's as gentlemanly as Josef Hofmann.

STILL ANOTHER HUNDRED WOMEN

I wonder if he's as fascinating as De Pachmann.

YET OTHER HUNDREDS

I wonder if he has dark eyes. You never can tell by those awful photographs in the newspapers.

HALF A DOZEN WOMEN

I wonder if he can really play the piano.

THE CRITIC AFORESAID

What a hell of a wait! These rotten piano-thumping immigrants deserve a hard call-down. But what's the use? The piano manufacturers bring them over here to wallop their pianos—and the piano manufacturers are not afraid to advertise. If you knock them too hard you have a nasty business-office row on your hands.

ONE OF THE MEN

If they allowed smoking, it wouldn't be so bad.

ANOTHER MAN

I wonder if that woman across the aisle——

(THE GREAT PIANIST bounces upon the stage so suddenly that he is bowing in the center before any one thinks to applaud. He makes three stiff bows. At the second the applause begins, swelling at once to a roar. He steps up to the piano, bows three times more, and then sits down. He hunches his shoulders, reaches for the pedals with his feet, spreads out his hands and waits for the clapper-clawing to cease. He is an undersized, paunchy East German, with hair the color of wet hay, and an extremely pallid complexion. Talcum powder hides the fact that his nose is shiny and somewhat pink. His eyebrows are carefully penciled and there are artificial shadows under his eyes. His face is absolutely expressionless.)

THE VIRGIN

Oh!

THE MARRIED WOMEN

Oh!

THE OTHER WOMEN

Oh! How dreadfully handsome!

THE VIRGIN

Oh, such eyes, such depth! How he must have suffered! I'd like to hear him play the Prelude in D flat major. It would drive you crazy!

A HUNDRED OTHER WOMEN

I certainly do hope he plays some Schumann.

OTHER WOMEN

What beautiful hands! I could kiss them!

(THE GREAT PIANIST, throwing back his head, strikes the massive opening chords of a Beethoven sonata. There is a sudden hush and each note is heard clearly. The tempo of the first movement, which begins after a grand pause, is allegro con brio, and the first subject is given out in a sparkling cascade of sound. But, despite the buoyancy of the music, there is an unmistakable undercurrent of melancholy in the playing. The audience doesn't fail to notice it.)

THE VIRGIN

Oh, perfect! I could love him! Paderewski played it like a fox trot. What poetry he puts into it! I can see a soldier lover marching off to war.

ONE OF THE CRITICS

The ass is dragging it. Doesn't con brio mean—well, what the devil does it mean? I forget. I must look it up before I write the notice. Somehow, brio suggests cheese. Anyhow, Pachmann plays it a damn sight faster. It's safe to say that, at all events.

THE MARRIED WOMAN

Oh, I could listen to that sonata all day! The poetry he puts into it—even into the allegro! Just think what the andante will be! I like music to be sad.

ANOTHER WOMAN

What a sob he gets into it!

MANY OTHER WOMEN

How exquisite!

THE GREAT PIANIST

(Gathering himself together for the difficult development section.) That American beer will be the death of me! I wonder what they put in it to give it its gassy taste. And the so-called German beer they sell over here—du heiliger Herr Jesu! Even Bremen would be ashamed of it. In Muenchen the police would take a hand.

(Aiming for the first and second C's above the staff, he accidentally strikes the C sharps instead and has to transpose three measures to get back into the key. The effect is harrowing, and he gives his audience a swift glance of apprehension.)

TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY WOMEN

What new beauties he gets out of it!

A MAN

He can tickle the ivories, all right, all right!

A CRITIC

Well, at any rate, he doesn't try to imitate Paderewski.

THE GREAT PIANIST

(Relieved by the non-appearance of the hisses he expected.) Well, it's lucky for me that I'm not in Leipzig to-day! But in Leipzig an artist runs no risks: the beer is pure. The authorities see to that. The worse enemy of technic is biliousness, and biliousness is sure to follow bad beer. (He gets to the coda at last and takes it at a somewhat livelier pace.)

THE VIRGIN

How I envy the woman he loves! How it would thrill me to feel his arms about me—to be drawn closer, closer, closer! I would give up the whole world! What are conventions, prejudices, legal forms, morality, after all? Vanities! Love is beyond and above them all—and art is love! I think I must be a pagan.

THE GREAT PIANIST

And the herring! Good God, what herring! These barbarous Americans——

THE VIRGIN

Really, I am quite indecent! I should blush, I suppose. But love is never ashamed—How people misunderstand me!

THE MARRIED WOMAN

I wonder if he's faithful. The chances are against it. I never heard of a man who was. (An agreeable melancholy overcomes her and she gives herself up to the mood without thought.)

THE GREAT PIANIST

I wonder whatever became of that girl in Dresden. Every time I think of her, she suggests pleasant thoughts—good beer, a fine band, Gemuetlichkeit. I must have been in love with her—not much, of course, but just enough to make things pleasant. And not a single letter from her! I suppose she thinks I'm starving to death over here—or tuning pianos. Well, when I get back with the money there'll be a shock for her. A shock—but not a Pfennig!

THE MARRIED WOMAN

(Her emotional coma ended.) Still, you can hardly blame him. There must be a good deal of temptation for a great artist. All of these frumps here would——

THE VIRGIN

Ah, how dolorous, how exquisite is love! How small the world would seem if——

THE MARRIED WOMAN

Of course you could hardly call such old scarecrows temptations. But still——

(THE GREAT PIANIST comes to the last measure of the coda—a passage of almost Haydnesque clarity and spirit. As he strikes the broad chord of the tonic there comes a roar of applause. He arises, moves a step or two down the stage, and makes a series of low bows, his hands to his heart.)

THE GREAT PIANIST

(Bowing.) I wonder why the American women always wear raincoats to piano recitals. Even when the sun is shining brightly, one sees hundreds of them. What a disagreeable smell they give to the hall. (More applause and more bows.) An American audience always smells of rubber and lilies-of-the-valley. How different in London! There an audience always smells of soap. In Paris it reminds you of sachet bags—and lingerie.

(The applause ceases and he returns to the piano.)

And now comes that verfluchte adagio.

(As he begins to play, a deathlike silence falls upon the hall.)

ONE OF THE CRITICS

What rotten pedaling!

ANOTHER CRITIC

A touch like a xylophone player, but he knows how to use his feet. That suggests a good line for the notice—"he plays better with his feet than with his hands," or something like that. I'll have to think it over and polish it up.

ONE OF THE OTHER MEN

Now comes some more of that awful classical stuff.

THE VIRGIN

Suppose he can't speak English? But that wouldn't matter. Nothing matters. Love is beyond and above——

SIX HUNDRED WOMEN

Oh, how beautiful!

THE MARRIED WOMAN

Perfect!

THE DEAN OF THE CRITICS

(Sinking quickly into the slumber which always overtakes him during the adagio.) C-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h!

THE YOUNGEST CRITIC

There is that old fraud asleep again. And to-morrow he'll print half a column of vapid reminiscence and call it criticism. It's a wonder his paper stands for him. Because he once heard Liszt, he....

THE GREAT PIANIST

That plump girl over there on the left is not so bad. As for the rest, I beg to be excused. The American women have no more shape than so many matches. They are too tall and too thin. I like a nice rubbery armful—like that Dresden girl. Or that harpist in Moscow—the girl with the Pilsner hair. Let me see, what was her name? Oh, Fritzi, to be sure—but her last name? Schmidt? Kraus? Meyer? I'll have to try to think of it, and send her a postcard.

THE MARRIED WOMAN

What delicious flutelike tones!

ONE OF THE WOMEN

If Beethoven could only be here to hear it! He would cry for very joy! Maybe he does hear it. Who knows? I believe he does. I am sure he does.

(THE GREAT PIANIST reaches the end of the adagio, and there is another burst of applause, which awakens THE DEAN OF THE CRITICS.)

THE DEAN OF THE CRITICS

Oh, piffle! Compared to Gottschalk, the man is an amateur. Let him go back to the conservatory for a couple of years.

ONE OF THE MEN

(Looking at his program.) Next comes the shirt-so. I hope it has some tune in it.

THE VIRGIN

The adagio is love's agony, but the scherzo is love triumphant. What beautiful eyes he has! And how pale he is!

THE GREAT PIANIST

(Resuming his grim toil.) Well, there's half of it over. But this scherzo is ticklish business. That horrible evening in Prague—will I ever forget it? Those hisses—and the papers next day!

ONE OF THE MEN

Go it, professor! That's the best you've done yet!

ONE OF THE CRITICS

Too fast!

ANOTHER CRITIC

Too slow!

A YOUNG GIRL

My, but ain't the professor just full of talent!

THE GREAT PIANIST

Well, so far no accident. (He negotiates a difficult passage, and plays it triumphantly, but at some expenditure of cold perspiration.) What a way for a man to make a living!

THE VIRGIN

What passion he puts into it! His soul is in his finger-tips.

A CRITIC

A human pianola!

THE GREAT PIANIST

This scherzo always fetches the women. I can hear them draw long breaths. That plump girl is getting pale. Well, why shouldn't she? I suppose I'm about the best pianist she has ever heard—or ever will hear. What people can see in that Hambourg fellow I never could imagine. In Chopin, Schumann, Grieg, you might fairly say he's pretty good. But it takes an artist to play Beethoven. (He rattles on to the end of the scherzo and there is more applause. Then he dashes into the finale.)

THE DEAN OF THE CRITICS

Too loud! Too loud! It sounds like an ash-cart going down an alley. But what can you expect? Piano-playing is a lost art. Paderewski ruined it.

THE GREAT PIANIST

I ought to clear 200,000 marks by this tournee. If it weren't for those thieving agents and hotelkeepers, I'd make 300,000. Just think of it—twenty-four marks a day for a room! That's the way these Americans treat a visiting artist! The country is worse than Bulgaria. I was treated better at Bucharest. Well, it won't last forever. As soon as I get enough of their money they'll see me no more. Vienna is the place to settle down. A nice studio at fifty marks a month—and the life of a gentleman. What was the name of that little red-cheeked girl at the cafe in the Franzjosefstrasse—that girl with the gold tooth and the silk stockings? I'll have to look her up.

THE VIRGIN

What an artist! What a master! What a——

THE MARRIED WOMAN

Has he really suffered, or is it just intuition?

THE GREAT PIANIST

No, marriage is a waste of money. Let the other fellow marry her. (He approaches the closing measures of the finale.) And now for a breathing spell and a swallow of beer. American beer! Bah! But it's better than nothing. The Americans drink water. Cattle! Animals! Ach, Muenchen, wie bist du so schoen!

(As he concludes there is a whirlwind of applause and he is forced to bow again and again. Finally, he is permitted to retire, and the audience prepares to spend the short intermission in whispering, grunting, wriggling, scraping its feet, rustling its programs and gaping at hats. The SIX MUSICAL CRITICS and SIX OTHER MEN, their lips parched and their eyes staring, gallop for the door. As THE GREAT PIANIST comes from the stage, THE JANITOR meets him with a large seidel of beer. He seizes it eagerly and downs it at a gulp.)

THE JANITOR

My, but them professors can put the stuff away!



VI.—SEEING THE WORLD

VI.—Seeing The World

_The scene is the brow of the Hungerberg at Innsbruck. It is the half hour before sunset, and the whole lovely valley of the Inn_—still wie die Nacht, tief wie das Meer—_begins to glow with mauves and apple greens, apricots and silvery blues. Along the peaks of the great snowy mountains which shut it in, as if from the folly and misery of the world, there are touches of piercing primary colours—red, yellow, violet. Far below, hugging the winding river, lies little Innsbruck, with its checkerboard parks and Christmas garden villas. A battalion of Austrian soldiers, drilling in the Exerzierplatz, appears as an army of grey ants, now barely visible. Somewhere to the left, beyond the broad flank of the Hungerberg, the night train for Venice labours toward the town.

It is a superbly beautiful scene, perhaps the most beautiful in all Europe. It has colour, dignity, repose. The Alps here come down a bit and so increase their spell. They are not the harsh precipices of Switzerland, nor the too charming stage mountains of the Trentino, but rotting billows of clouds and snow, the high flung waves of some titanic but stricken ocean. Now and then comes a faint clank of metal from the funicular railway, but the tracks themselves are hidden among the trees of the lower slopes. The tinkle of an angelus bell (or maybe it is only a sheep bell) is heard from afar. A great bird, an eagle or a falcon, sweeps across the crystal spaces.

Here where we are is a shelf on the mountainside, and the hand of man has converted it into a terrace. To the rear, clinging to the mountain, is an Alpine gasthaus—a bit overdone, perhaps, with its red-framed windows and elaborate fretwork, but still genuinely of the Alps. Along the front of the terrace, protecting sightseers from the sheer drop of a thousand feet, is a stout wooden rail.

A man in an American sack suit, with a bowler hat on his head, lounges against this rail. His elbows rest upon it, his legs are crossed in the fashion of a figure four, and his face is buried in the red book of Herr Baedeker. It is the volume on Southern Germany, and he is reading the list of Munich hotels. Now and then he stops to mark one with a pencil, which he wets at his lips each time. While he is thus engaged, another man comes ambling along the terrace, apparently from the direction of the funicular railway station. He, too, carries a red book. It is Baedeker on Austria-Hungary. After gaping around him a bit, this second man approaches the rail near the other and leans his elbows upon it. Presently he takes a package of chewing gum from his coat pocket, selects two pieces, puts them into his mouth and begins to chew. Then he spits idly into space, idly but homerically, a truly stupendous expectoration, a staggering discharge from the Alps to the first shelf of the Lombard plain! The first man, startled by the report, glances up. Their eyes meet and there is a vague glimmer of recognition._

THE FIRST MAN

American?

THE SECOND MAN

Yes; St. Louis.

THE FIRST MAN

Been over long?

THE SECOND MAN

A couple of months.

THE FIRST MAN

What ship'd you come over in?

THE SECOND MAN

The Kronprinz Friedrich.

THE FIRST MAN

Aha, the German line! I guess you found the grub all right.

THE SECOND MAN

Oh, in the main. I have eaten better, but then again, I have eaten worse.

THE FIRST MAN

Well, they charge you enough for it, whether you get it or not. A man could live at the Plaza cheaper.

THE SECOND MAN

I should say he could. What boat did you come over in?

THE FIRST MAN

The Maurentic.

THE SECOND MAN

How is she?

THE FIRST MAN

Oh, so-so.

THE SECOND MAN

I hear the meals on those English ships are nothing to what they used to be.

THE FIRST MAN

That's what everybody tells me. But, as for me, I can't say I found them so bad. I had to send back the potatoes twice and the breakfast bacon once, but they had very good lima beans.

THE SECOND MAN

Isn't that English bacon awful stuff to get down?

THE FIRST MAN

It certainly is: all meat and gristle. I wonder what an Englishman would say if you put him next to a plate of genuine, crisp, American bacon.

THE SECOND MAN

I guess he would yell for the police—or choke to death.

THE FIRST MAN

Did you like the German cooking on the Kronprinz?

THE SECOND MAN

Well, I did and I didn't. The chicken a la Maryland was very good, but they had it only once. I could eat it every day.

THE FIRST MAN

Why didn't you order it?

THE SECOND MAN

It wasn't on the bill.

THE FIRST MAN

Oh, bill be damned! You might have ordered it anyhow. Make a fuss and you'll get what you want. These foreigners have to be bossed around. They're used to it.

THE SECOND MAN

I guess you're right. There was a fellow near me who set up a holler about his room the minute he saw it—said it was dark and musty and not fit to pen a hog in—and they gave him one twice as large, and the chief steward bowed and scraped to him, and the room stewards danced around him as if he was a duke. And yet I heard later that he was nothing but a Bismarck herring importer from Hoboken.

THE FIRST MAN

Yes, that's the way to get what you want. Did you have any nobility on board?

THE SECOND MAN

Yes, there was a Hungarian baron in the automobile business, and two English sirs. The baron was quite a decent fellow: I had a talk with him in the smoking room one night. He didn't put on any airs at all. You would have thought he was an ordinary man. But the sirs kept to themselves. All they did the whole voyage was to write letters, wear their dress suits and curse the stewards.

THE FIRST MAN

They tell me over here that the best eating is on the French lines.

THE SECOND MAN

Yes, so I hear. But some say, too, that the Scandinavian lines are best, and then again I have heard people boosting the Italian lines.

THE FIRST MAN

I guess each one has its points. They say that you get wine free with meals on the French boats.

THE SECOND MAN

But I hear it's fourth-rate wine.

THE FIRST MAN

Well, you don't have to drink it.

THE SECOND MAN

That's so. But, as for me, I can't stand a Frenchman. I'd rather do without the wine and travel with the Dutch. Paris is dead compared with Berlin.

THE FIRST MAN

So it is. But those Germans are awful sharks. The way they charge in Berlin is enough to make you sick.

THE SECOND MAN

Don't tell me. I have been there. No longer ago than last Tuesday—or was it last Monday?—I went into one of those big restaurants on the Unter den Linden and ordered a small steak, French fried potatoes, a piece of pie and a cup of coffee—and what do you think those thieves charged me for it? Three marks fifty. That's eighty-seven and a half cents. Why, a man could have got the same meal at home for a dollar. These Germans are running wild. American money has gone to their heads. They think every American they get hold of is a millionaire.

THE FIRST MAN

The French are worse. I went into a hotel in Paris and paid ten francs a day for a room for myself and wife, and when we left they charged me one franc forty a day extra for sweeping it out and making the bed!

THE SECOND MAN

That's nothing. Here in Innsbruck they charge you half a krone a day taxes.

THE FIRST MAN

What! You don't say!

THE SECOND MAN

Sure thing. And if you don't eat breakfast in the hotel they charge you a krone for it anyhow.

THE FIRST MAN

Well, well, what next? But, after all, you can't blame them. We Americans come over here and hand them our pocket-books, and we ought to be glad if we get anything back at all. The way a man has to tip is something fearful.

THE SECOND MAN

Isn't it, though! I stayed in Dresden a week, and when I left there were six grafters lined up with their claws out. First came the porteer. Then came——

THE FIRST MAN

How much did you give the porteer?

THE SECOND MAN

Five marks.

THE FIRST MAN

You gave him too much. You ought to have given him about three marks, or, say, two marks fifty. How much was your hotel bill?

THE SECOND MAN

Including everything?

THE FIRST MAN

No, just your bill for your room.

THE SECOND MAN

I paid six marks a day.

THE FIRST MAN

Well, that made forty-two marks for the week. Now the way to figure out how much the porteer ought to get is easy: a fellow I met in Baden-Baden showed me how to do it. First, you multiply your hotel bill by two, then you divide it by twenty-seven, and then you knock off half a mark. Twice forty-two is eighty-four. Twenty-seven into eighty-four goes about three times, and half from three leaves two and a half. See how easy it is?

THE SECOND MAN

It looks easy, anyhow. But you haven't got much time to do all that figuring.

THE FIRST MAN

Well, let the porteer wait. The longer he has to wait the more he appreciates you.

THE SECOND MAN

But how about the others?

THE FIRST MAN

It's just as simple. Your chambermaid gets a quarter of a mark for every day you have been in the hotel. But if you stay less than four days she gets a whole mark anyhow. If there are two in the party she gets half a mark a day, but no more than three marks in any one week.

THE SECOND MAN

But suppose there are two chambermaids? In Dresden there was one on day duty and one on night duty. I left at six o'clock in the evening, and so they were both on the job.

THE FIRST MAN

Don't worry. They'd have been on the job anyhow, no matter when you left. But it's just as easy to figure out the tip for two as for one. All you have to do is to add fifty per cent. and then divide it into two halves, and give one to each girl. Or, better still, give it all to one girl and tell her to give half to her pal. If there are three chambermaids, as you sometimes find in the swell hotels, you add another fifty per cent. and then divide by three. And so on.

THE SECOND MAN

I see. But how about the hall porter and the floor waiter?

THE FIRST MAN

Just as easy. The hall porter gets whatever the chambermaid gets, plus twenty-five per cent.—but no more than two marks in any one week. The floor waiter gets thirty pfennigs a day straight, but if you stay only one day he gets half a mark, and if you stay more than a week he gets two marks flat a week after the first week. In some hotels the hall porter don't shine shoes. If he don't he gets just as much as if he does, but then the actual "boots" has to be taken care of. He gets half a mark every two days. Every time you put out an extra pair of shoes he gets fifty per cent. more for that day. If you shine your own shoes, or go without shining them, the "boots" gets half his regular tip, but never less than a mark a week.

THE SECOND MAN

Certainly it seems simple enough. I never knew there was any such system.

THE FIRST MAN

I guess you didn't. Very few do. But it's just because Americans don't know it that these foreign blackmailers shake 'em down. Once you let the porteer see that you know the ropes, he'll pass the word on to the others, and you'll be treated like a native.

THE SECOND MAN

I see. But how about the elevator boy? I gave the elevator boy in Dresden two marks and he almost fell on my neck, so I figured that I played the sucker.

THE FIRST MAN

So you did. The rule for elevator boys is still somewhat in the air, because so few of these bum hotels over here have elevators, but you can sort of reason the thing out if you put your mind on it. When you get on a street car in Germany, what tip do you give the conductor?

THE SECOND MAN

Five pfennigs.

THE FIRST MAN.

Naturally. That's the tip fixed by custom. You may almost say it's the unwritten law. If you gave the conductor more, he would hand you change. Well, how I reason it out is this way: If five pfennigs is enough for a car conductor, who may carry you three miles, why shouldn't it be enough for the elevator boy, who may carry you only three stories?

THE SECOND MAN

It seems fair, certainly.

THE FIRST MAN

And it is fair. So all you have to do is to keep account of the number of times you go up and down in the elevator, and then give the elevator boy five pfennigs for each trip. Say you come down in the morning, go up in the evening, and average one other round trip a day. That makes twenty-eight trips a week. Five times twenty-eight is one mark forty—and there you are.

THE SECOND MAN

I see. By the way, what hotel are you stopping at?

THE FIRST MAN

The Goldene Esel.

THE SECOND MAN

How is it?

THE FIRST MAN

Oh, so-so. Ask for oatmeal at breakfast and they send to the livery stable for a peck of oats and ask you please to be so kind as to show them how to make it.

THE SECOND MAN

My hotel is even worse. Last night I got into such a sweat under the big German feather bed that I had to throw it off. But when I asked for a single blanket they didn't have any, so I had to wrap up in bath towels.

THE FIRST MAN

Yes, and you used up every one in town. This morning, when I took a bath, the only towel the chambermaid could find wasn't bigger than a wedding invitation. But while she was hunting around I dried off, so no harm was done.

THE SECOND MAN

Well, that's what a man gets for running around in such one-horse countries. In Leipzig they sat a nigger down beside me at the table. In Amsterdam they had cheese for breakfast. In Munich the head waiter had never heard of buckwheat cakes. In Mannheim they charged me ten pfennigs extra for a cake of soap.

THE FIRST MAN

What do you think of the railroad trains over here?

THE SECOND MAN

Rotten. That compartment system is all wrong. If nobody comes into your compartment it's lonesome, and if anybody does come in it's too damn sociable. And if you try to stretch out and get some sleep, some ruffian begins singing in the next compartment, or the conductor keeps butting in and jabbering at you.

THE FIRST MAN

But you can say one thing for the German trains: they get in on time.

THE SECOND MAN

So they do, but no wonder! They run so slow they can't help it. The way I figure it, a German engineer must have a devil of a time holding his engine in. The fact is, he usually can't, and so he has to wait outside every big town until the schedule catches up to him. They say they never have accidents, but is it any more than you expect? Did you ever hear of a mud turtle having an accident?

THE FIRST MAN

Scarcely. As you say, these countries are far behind the times. I saw a fire in Cologne; you would have laughed your head off! It was in a feed store near my hotel, and I got there before the firemen. When they came at last, in their tinpot hats, they got out half a dozen big squirts and rushed into the building with them. Then, when it was out, they put the squirts back into their little express wagon and drove off. Not a line of hose run out, not an engine puffing, not a gong heard, not a soul letting out a whoop! It was more like a Sunday-school picnic than a fire. I guess if these Dutch ever did have a civilised blaze, it would scare them to death. But they never have any.

THE SECOND MAN

Well, what can you expect? A country where all the charwomen are men and all the garbage men are women!—

For the moment the two have talked each other out, and so they lounge upon the rail in silence and gaze out over the valley. Anon the gumchewer spits. By now the sun has reached the skyline to the westward and the tops of the ice mountains are in gorgeous conflagration. Scarlets war with golden oranges, and vermilions fade into palpitating pinks. Below, in the valley, the colours begin to fade slowly to a uniform seashell grey. It is a scene of indescribable loveliness; the wild reds of hades splashed riotously upon the cold whites and pale blues of heaven. The night train for Venice, a long line of black coaches, is entering the town. Somewhere below, apparently in the barracks, a sunset gun is fired. After a silence of perhaps two or three minutes, the Americans gather fresh inspiration and resume their conversation.

THE FIRST MAN

I have seen worse scenery.

THE SECOND MAN

Very pretty.

THE FIRST MAN

Yes, sir; it's well worth the money.

THE SECOND MAN

But the Rockies beat it all hollow.

THE FIRST MAN

Oh, of course. They have nothing over here that we can't beat to a whisper. Just consider the Rhine, for instance. The Hudson makes it look like a country creek.

THE SECOND MAN

Yes, you're right. Take away the castles, and not even a German would give a hoot for it. It's not so much what a thing is over here as what reputation it's got. The whole thing is a matter of press-agenting.

THE FIRST MAN

I agree with you. There's the "beautiful, blue Danube." To me it looks like a sewer. If it's blue, then I'm green. A man would hesitate to drown himself in such a mud puddle.

THE SECOND MAN

But you hear the bands playing that waltz all your life, and so you spend your good money to come over here to see the river. And when you get back home you don't want to admit that you've been a sucker, so you start touting it from hell to breakfast. And then some other fellow comes over and does the same, and so on and so on.

THE FIRST MAN

Yes, it's all a matter of boosting. Day in and day out you hear about Westminster Abbey. Every English book mentions it; it's in the newspapers almost as much as Jane Addams or Caruso. Well, one day you pack your grip, put on your hat and come over to have a look—and what do you find? A one-horse church full of statues! And every statue crying for sapolio! You expect to see something magnificent and enormous, something to knock your eye out and send you down for the count. What you do see is a second-rate graveyard under roof. And when you examine into it, you find that two-thirds of the graves haven't even got dead men in them! Whenever a prominent Englishman dies, they put up a statue to him in Westminster Abbey—no matter where he happens to be buried! I call that clever advertising. That's the way to get the crowd.

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