Abroad with the Jimmies
"THE LOVE AFFAIRS OF AN OLD MAID," "THE EXPATRIATES," ETC.
WARD, LOCK & CO., LIMITED,
NEW YORK & MELBOURNE.
THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO My Dear Father, WHOSE HIGH TYPE OF PATRIOTISM, STEADFAST LOYALTY TO THE GOVERNMENT, AND DEVOTION TO HIS FAMILY HAVE TAUGHT ME WHEREIN LIE THE IDEALS OF LIFE.
If the critical public had cared to snub Mr. and Mrs. Jimmie and Bee, I, who am a fighting champion of theirs, would never have run the risk of boring it by a further chronicle of their travels. But from a careful survey of my mail, I may say that the present volume of their doings and undoings is a direct result of the friendships they formed in "As Seen by Me," and has almost literally been written by request.
With which statement, as the flushed and nervous singer, who responds to friendly clappings, comes forward, bows, sings, and retires, so do I, and the curtain falls on the Jimmies and Bee and me, all kissing our hands to the gallery.
I. Our House-boat at Henley
III. Strasburg and Baden-Baden
IV. Stuttgart, Nuremberg, and Bayreuth
V. The Passion Play
VI. Munich to the Achensee
VII. Dancing in the Austrian Tyrol
XI. My First Interview with Tolstoy
XII. At one of the Tolstoy Receptions
XIII. Shopping Experiences
OUR HOUSE-BOAT AT HENLEY
It speaks volumes for an amiability I have always claimed for myself through sundry fierce disputes on the subject with my sister, that, even after two years of travel in Europe with her and Mr. and Mrs. Jimmie, they should still wish for my company for a journey across France and Germany to Russia. Bee says it speaks volumes for the tempers of the Jimmies, but then Bee is my sister, or to put it more properly, I am Bee's sister, and what woman is a heroine to her own sister?
In any event I am not. Bee thinks I am a creature of feeble intelligence who must be "managed." Bee loves to "manage" people, and I, who love to watch her circuitous, diplomatic, velvety, crooked way to a straight end, allow myself to be so "managed;" and so after safely disposing of Billy in the grandmotherly care of Mamma for another six months, Bee and I gaily took ship and landed safely at the door of the Cecil, having been escorted up from Southampton by Jimmie.
While repeated journeys to Europe lose the thrill of expectant uncertainty which one's first held, yet there is something very pleasing about "going back." And so we were particularly glad again to join forces with our friends the Jimmies and travel with them, for they, like Bee and me, travel aimlessly and are never hampered with plans.
Everybody seems to know that we do not mean business, and nobody has ever dared to ask whether our intentions were serious or not.
In this frame of mind we floated over to England and had a fortnight of "the season" in London. But this soon palled on us, and we fell into the idle mood of waiting for something to turn up.
One Sunday morning Bee and Mrs. Jimmie and I were sitting at a little table near the entrance to the Cecil Hotel, when Jimmie came out of a side door and sat down in front of us, leaning his elbows on the table and grinning at us in a suspicious silence. We all waited for him to begin, but he simply sat and smoked and grinned.
"Well! Well!" I said, impatiently, "What now?"
You would know that Jimmie was an American by the way he smokes. He simply eats up cigars, inhales them, chews them. The end of his cigar blazes like a danger signal and breathes like an engine. He can hold his hands and feet still, but his nervousness crops out in his smoking. Finally, exasperated by his continued silence, Bee said, severely:
"Jimmie, have you anything up your sleeve? If so, speak out!"
"Well!" said Jimmie, brushing the cigar ashes off his wife's skirt, "I thought I'd take you all out to Henley this morning to look at the house-boat."
"House-boat!" shrieked Bee and I in a whisper, clutching Jimmie by the sleeve and lapel of his coat and giving him an ecstatic shake.
"Are we going to have a house-boat?" asked Bee.
"We!" said Jimmie. "I am going to have a house-boat, and I am going to take my wife. If you are good perhaps she will ask you out to tea one afternoon."
"How many staterooms are there, Jimmie? Can we invite people to stay with us over night?" demanded Bee.
"You cannot," said Jimmie, firmly. "I said a house-boat, not a house party."
"I shall ask the duke," said Bee, clearing her throat in a pleased way. "Can't I, Mrs. Jimmie?"
"Certainly, dear. Ask any one you like."
"If you do," growled Jimmie, who hates the duke because he wears gloves in hot weather, "I'll invite the chambermaid and the head-waiter of this hotel."
"We ought to be starting," said Mrs. Jimmie, pacifically, and we started and went and arrived.
As we were driving to the station I noticed all the way along, and I had noticed them ever since we had been in London, large capital H's on a white background, posted on stone walls, street corners, lampposts, and occasionally on the sidewalks.
"What are those H's for, Jimmie?" I asked. To which he replied with this record-breaking joke:
"Those are the H's that Englishmen have been dropping for generations, and being characteristic of this solid nation, they thus ossified them."
I forgave Jimmie a good deal for that joke.
At the pier at Henley a man met us with a little boat and rowed us up the river, past dozens of house-boats moored along the bank.
The river had been boomed off for the races, which were to begin the next day, with little openings here and there for small boats to cross and recross between races. Private house-boat flags, Union Jacks, bunting, and plants made all the house-boats gay, except ours, which looked bare and forlorn and guiltless of decoration of any sort. It was fortunately situated within plain view of where the races would finish, and by using glasses we could see the start.
Several crews were out practising. One shell which flashed past us held a crew in orange and black sweaters. We had previously noticed that there was no American flag on any of the house-boats.
Orange and black! We nearly stood up in our excitement.
"What's your college?" yelled Jimmie, hoping they were Americans.
"Princeton!" they yelled back.
With that Jimmie ripped open a long pole he was carrying, and the stars and stripes floated out over our shell. The Princeton crew shipped their oars, snatched off their caps, and responded by giving their college yell, ending with "Old Glo-ree! Old Glo-ree!! Old Glo-ree!!!" yelled three times with all the strength of their deep lungs.
That little glimpse of America made Bee and me shiver as if with ague, while Jimmie's chin quivered and he muttered something about "darned smoke in his eyes."
"Jimmie," I said, excitedly, "they are rowing toward us to let us speak if we want to."
Jimmie waved his hand to them and they pulled up alongside. We exchanged enthusiastic "How-do-do's" with them, although we had never seen one of them before.
"Are you going to row to-morrow?" asked Jimmie.
"If you are we will decorate the house-boat with orange and black," I said.
Their faces fell.
"We are only the Track Team," said one. "Princeton has no crew, you know."
"No crew," I cried. "Why not?"
"Well, we haven't any more water than we need to wash in, and we cannot row on the campus."
"Too many trees," said another.
"No water," I cried, "then won't you ever have a crew?"
"Not until some one gives us a million dollars to dam up a natural formation that is there and turn the river into it," said one.
"I'd give it to you in a minute, if I had it, the way I feel now," said Jimmie.
"Well, don't we send crews over here to row?" asked Bee.
"Cornell sent one, but they were beaten," said the Captain with a grin.
"But you wouldn't be beaten," said Bee, decidedly, with her eye on the Captain.
"Come to dinner, all of you, to-morrow night," I said, genially.
Mrs. Jimmie looked frightened, but Bee and Jimmie so heartily seconded my generosity with Jimmie's boat that she resigned herself.
"Wear your sweaters," commanded Bee.
"To dinner?" they said.
"Certainly!" said Bee, decidedly. "That's the only way people will know we are in it. We'll wear shirt-waists to keep you in countenance."
They accepted with alacrity and we parted with mutual esteem.
"I wonder what their names are," said Mrs. Jimmie, reproachfully.
"And they don't know our boat," I added.
"Hi, there!" Jimmie shouted back, "that's our boat yonder—the Lulu."
And with that they all struck up "Lu, Lu, How I love my Lu," at which Bee blushed most unnecessarily, I thought, and murmured:
"How well a handsome athlete looks with bare arms."
"And bare legs," added Jimmie, genially.
We found so much to do on the house-boat, and Jimmie had brought so much bunting and so many flags, that Bee volunteered to go back to the Cecil and have our clothes packed up by Mrs. Jimmie's maid, while we decorated the house-boat.
The next morning bright and early we rowed down to the landing for Bee. Such a change had taken place on the Thames in twenty-four hours! There were hundreds upon hundreds of row-boats bearing girls in duck and men in flannels, and a funny sight it was to Americans to see fully half of them with the man lying at his ease on cushions at the end of the boat, while the girls did the rowing. English girls are very clever at punting, and look quite pretty standing up balancing in the boats and using the long pole with such skill.
It may be sportsmanlike, but it cannot fail to look unchivalrous, especially to the Southern-born of Americans, to see how willing Englishmen are to permit their women to wait upon them even before they are married!
American women are not very popular with English women, possibly because we get so many of their Englishmen away from them, and we are popular with only certain of Englishmen, perhaps the more susceptible, possibly the more broad-minded, but certain it was that as we rowed along we heard whispers from the English boats of "Americans" in much the same tone in which we say "Niggers."
The river was literally alive with these small craft, going up and down, gathering their parties together and paying friendly little visits to the neighbouring house-boats, while gay parasols, striped shirt-waists, white flannels, sailor hats, house-boat flags, and gay coloured boat cushions, made the river flash in the sunshine like an electric lighted rainbow.
Jimmie had spared no expense in illuminating and decorating the house-boat. He had the American shield in electric lights surmounted by the American Eagle holding in his beak a chain of electric bulbs which were festooned on each side down to the end of the boat and running down the poles to the water's edge. A band of red, white, and blue electric lights formed the balustrade of the upper deck, with a row of brilliant scarlet geraniums on the railing. The house-boat next to ours was called "The Primrose," and when they saw our American emblem they sent over a polite note asking where we got it, and at once ordered a St. George and the Dragon in electric lights, which never came until the Friday following, when all the races were over. Another house-boat, three boats from ours, was owned by a wealthy brewer and had a pavilion built on the land back of where it was moored and connected by a broad gangplank with the boat. They used this pavilion for dancing and vaudeville, but although it was very nice and we were immensely entertained, still we all decided that it was not much like a house-boat to be so much of the time on land.
Each morning we would be wakened by the lapping of the water between the boat and the bank, caused by the early swims of the men from the neighbouring boats. The weather was just cool enough and just warm enough to be delightful. They told us that it generally rained during Henley week, but some one must have been a mascot, and we, with our usual becoming modesty, announced that it must have been our Eagle. The English, however, did not take kindly to that little pleasantry, and only said, "Fancy" whenever we got it off.
The dining-room was too small to hold such a large dinner as we gave the night we entertained the Princeton Track Team, so we had the table spread on the upper deck in plain view of the craft on the river and our neighbours on each side. Jimmie had the piano brought up too, when he heard that two of them belonged to the Glee Club and could sing.
It seemed such a simple thing to us to take up an upright baby grand piano that we never thought we were doing anything out of the common, until we looked down over the railing and saw that no less than fifty boats had ranged themselves in front of our house-boat, with as much curiosity in our proceedings as if we were going to have a trained animal exhibit. There were two English women dining with us, and I privately asked one of them what under the sun was the matter.
"Oh! It is nothing much," she replied. "We cannot help thinking that you Americans are so queer."
"Queer, or not!" I replied, stoutly, "we have things just as we want them wherever we go. If we wanted to bring the punt up here and put it on the dining-table filled with flowers, Jimmie would let us," to which she replied, "Fancy!"
The table was very pretty that night. We had orange and black satin ribbon down the middle of it and across the sides, finishing in big bows. The centrepiece was made of black-eyed Susans. We women wore orange and black wherever we could, and the men wore their sweaters as they had been instructed. The dinner was slow in coming on, so between courses we got up and danced. Then the men sang college songs, much to the scandalisation of our English friends on the next boats, who seemed to regard dinner as a sacrament. Peters, the butler, would lie in wait for us while we were dancing, to whisper as we careered past him:
"Miss, the fowl is getting cold," or "Miss, the ice cream is getting warm," but he did it once too often, so Bee waltzed on his foot. Whereat he limped off and we saw no more of him.
Soon the professional entertainers who ply up and down the river during Henley week discovered the "Ammurikins," as they called us, and we had our first encounter that night with the Thames nigger, a creature painfully unlike that delightful commodity at home. The Thames nigger is generally a cockney covered with blackening, which only alters his skin and does not change his accent. To us it sounded deliciously funny to hear this self-styled African call us "Leddies," and say "Halways" and say "'Aven't yer, now?" They sang in a very indifferent manner, but were rather quick in their retorts.
Our large uninvited, but welcome audience, who had drawn so near that they could not use their oars and only pulled their boats along by the gunwales of the other boats, laughed at these witticisms rather inquiringly. Always slightly unconvinced, they seemed to have no inward desire to laugh, but yielded politely to the requirements, owing to the niggers' harlequin costume and blackened face.
To the student of human nature there is nothing so exquisitely ridiculous on the face of the globe as the typical British audience, at a show which appeals humourously to the intellect rather than to the eye. For this reason the Princetonians were indefatigable in their conversation with the niggers, for the electric lights of the Lulu illuminated the faces of our audience, which soon, in addition to the strolling craft of the river, numbered many canoes from the neighbouring house-boats, who were attracted by the gaiety and lights, thus forming a typical river audience, thoroughly mixed, seemingly on pleasure bent, good humoured, well behaved, polite, stolid, British.
Jimmie is hospitable to the core of his being, and nothing pleased him better than to keep "open house-boat" for the entire floating population of the Thames during Henley week. Every afternoon it was particularly the custom about tea time for boats containing music hall quartettes or a boatload of Geisha girls to pull up in front of the house-boat and regale the occupants with the latest music hall songs.
In one end of their boat is a little melodion apparently built for river travel, for I never saw one anywhere else. They have in addition velvet collection-boxes on long poles whereby to reach the upper decks of the house-boat for our coins. These things look for all the world like the old-fashioned collection-boxes which the deacons used to pass in church.
There was one set of Geisha girls who were masked below the eyes, one of whom sang what she fondly imagined was a typical American song calculated to captivate her American audience. She sang through her nose, the better to imitate the nasal voices which to the British mind is the national characteristic of the American, and her song had the refrain beginning "For I am an Ammurikin Girl," telling how this "Ammurikin Girl" had come to England to marry a title and had finally secured an Earl, and ending with the statement that she had done all this "like the true Ammurikin Girl." This song, especially the nasal part, was received with such ill-concealed joy by our usual stolid river audience that one afternoon I took it upon myself to avenge our house-boat family for these truly British politenesses. So I went to the railing after our audience had thoroughly collected and said through my nose:
"Won't you please sing that pretty song of yours about the 'Ammurikin Girl?' You know we are 'Ammurikin girls,' and we do so love the way you take off our 'Ammurikin' voices."
At the same time I dropped a lot of small silver into their boat without waiting for the collection-box. I was delighted to see that some of it went overboard, for their consternation at that and at my having turned the tables on them put them into such a flutter that they couldn't sing at all, and they pulled away, saying that they would be back in half an hour. Our audience, too, suddenly remembered urgent business a mile or two up the river, and scattered as if by magic.
Jimmie was deeply pleased by this rencontre, for the prejudice of the middle-class Britons (for the sake of occasionally being moderate, I will say middle class) against all classes of Americans is just about as deeply rooted and ineradicable as the prejudice of middle-class Americans against everything that flies the Union Jack. The travelled upper classes are inclined to be more moderate in their prejudice and to see fit either for political or social reasons to affect a friendship. But seriously I myself question if there is a nation more thoroughly foreign to America than the English.
This, I take it, is because the middle classes of both countries are not abreast of the times, and take little notice of the trend of events. They are still influenced by the prejudice engendered by the wars of a century ago, which has partly been inherited and partly enhanced by marriages with England's hereditary foes, who take refuge with us in such numbers.
However, the people could be influenced through their sympathies, and in the to-be-expected event of the death of England's queen, or a calamity of national importance on our own shores, the sympathy which would be extended from each to each, through the medium of the press, would do more to educate the masses along lines of sympathy between the two great English-speaking nations than any amount of statecraft or diplomacy. The people must be taught by the way of the heart, and touched by their emotions. Their brains would follow.
As it is, the differences still exist. Take, for instance, their language, from which ours has so far departed and become so much more pure English, and has been enriched by so many clean-cut and descriptive adjectives that certain sentences in English and in American will be totally unintelligible to each other. On one occasion, going with a party of eight English people to the races, Bee looked out of the car window at the landscape, and said:
"How thoroughly finished England is. Here we are running through a hill country where they are so complete and so neat in their landscape that they even sod the cuts. It is like going through a terraced garden."
It may be that the phrase she used was academic, but I am at least reasonable in thinking that the average American would know what she meant. Not one of those eight English people caught even the shadow of her meaning, and when she explained what she meant by "sod your cuts," they said that she meant "turf your cuttings." She replied that "cutting" with us was a greenhouse term and meant a part clipped from a plant or a tree. They said the word "cut" meant a cut of beef or mutton, to which she retorted that we might also use the term "cut" in a butcher shop, but when travelling in a hill country and looking out of the train window it meant the mountain cut. They said they never heard of the word sod, except used as a noun. She replied that she never heard the word "turf" used as a verb. We continued in an amiable wrangle which finally brought out the fact which even the most obstinate of them was obliged to admit, and that is that when traced to its proper root, the Americans speak purer English than the English.
House-boat hospitality we discovered to be conducted on a very irregular plan, for it appeared that the casual afternoon caller always meant tea and sometimes dinner. This is all very well if the people happen to be agreeable and the food holds out, but even I, the least conservative of the three women, am conservative about invitations to guests, nothing being more offensive to me than to be politely forced into a dinner invitation to people I don't want. Another thing, it kept us constantly scurrying for more to eat, as house-boat provisions are all furnished by firms in town, and house-boat owners are expected to let the purveyors know beforehand how many guests to provide for at each meal.
I like English people very much, but I cannot help observing that some who are very well born and are supposed to be exceedingly well bred, take advantage of American hospitality in a way in which they would never dream of pursuing with their English hosts. For instance, Americans were very free in remaining so dangerously close to the dinner hour that we were pushed into inviting them to remain, but never once did they make it obligatory to invite them to remain over night, while no less than half a dozen times during Henley week our English friends said to Jimmie:
"I say, old man, beastly work getting back to town. Can't you put us up for the night?"
As this occurred when every stateroom was filled, even Bee's sacred duke being among the number of our guests, these self-invited ones remained in every instance when they knew that it would force Jimmie to sleep upon a bench in the dining-room and be seriously inconvenienced. Toward the end of the week this supreme selfishness which I have noticed so often in otherwise worthy English gentlemen annoyed me to such an extent that with one Englishman who had thus insisted upon dispossessing Jimmie for the second time I resolved to make a test. So I said to him:
"Of course it's a little hard on Jimmie, your way of turning him out of his stateroom to sleep on the table, so, as turn about is fair play, if you've quite decided to remain over night, my sister and I will let you have our room and we will sleep on the benches in the dining-room. Jimmie doesn't get much sleep you know—we keep it up so late, and of course you always wake him up when you turn out for your swim at six o'clock in the morning, so if you will promise not to disturb us until seven, and go out through the kitchen for your swim, you can have our room for to-night."
"Oh, I say!" he replied, "that's awfully jolly of you. It is a beastly shame to turn the old man out of his bed two nights in one week, but your boat is the only one on the river where a fellow feels at home, you know. Besides that, I couldn't get back to town before ten o'clock to-night if I started now, and where would I get my dinner? And if I wait to get my dinner here, I'd either have to sleep at Henley or be half the night in getting home. So you see I've got to stay, and thanks awfully for letting me have your room."
Bee, who was standing near, pushed her veil up and cleared her throat. She looked at me.
"Did you ever in all your life?" she said.
"No, I never did," I said. "I never, never did."
"Never did what?" said the English gentleman.
"I never saw anybody like you in a book or out of it, but I suppose there are ten thousand more just as good-looking as you are; just as tall and well built and selfish."
"Selfish," he blurted out with a very red face. "What is there selfish about me, I should like to know? You offered me your room, didn't you?"
"Yes, she offered it," said Bee, sitting on a little table and tucking her feet on a chair. "She offered it to you just to see if you'd take it—just to see how far you would go. You haven't known my sister very long, have you? Why, she'd no more let you have her room than I would let Jimmie turn himself out a second time for you. If you stay to-night you'll be the one to sleep in the dining-room on that narrow bench."
"Oh, I say," he said, turning still redder, "I can't do that, you know. It would be so very uncomfortable. It is very narrow."
"You can lie on your side," said Bee. "You aren't too thick through that way, and we three women have decided to allow Jimmie to go to bed early to-night. We'll make it as comfortable as we can for you, and you'll get fully three hours' sleep, perhaps four. It is all Jimmie would get if he slept there."
"Why, I don't believe that the old man will let me sleep there. I think he'd rather I had his room. He and his wife were so awfully good to me when I was in America. I stayed two months at their place and they entertained me royally."
"Where's your wife?" I said, suddenly.
"She's in our town house," he answered.
"And that's in Upper Brooke Street?" said Bee.
"And where's your sister, the Honourable Eleanor?" I said.
"What's that got to do with it?" said our friend.
"Nothing," I said. "I just wondered if you'd noticed that, every single time we have been in London for the past two years, neither your sister nor your wife has ever called on Mrs. Jimmie; although, as you have just admitted, you stayed two months with them in America. All that you have done in return for the mountain trip that Jimmie arranged for you, taking you in a private car to hunt big game, taking you fishing and arranging for you to see everything in America that you wanted, when you know that Jimmie isn't rich judged by the largest fortunes in America—all, all I say, that you have done for him in return for everything he did for you was to put him up at your club and take them to the races twice, and even though you saw your wife at a distance you never introduced them, although once you stopped and spoke to her. Now, what do you think of yourself?"
"I think—I think," he stammered.
"No, you don't think," said Bee. "You flatter yourself."
He stared at us helplessly, but we were enjoying ourselves too maliciously to let up on him.
"I never was talked to so in my life," he said.
"No, perhaps not," I said, pleasantly. "But it has done you good, hasn't it? Confess now, don't you feel a little better?"
His face, which was very red at all times, grew a little more claret coloured, and he evidently wanted very much to get angry, but Bee and I were so very cheerful, almost affectionate in our manner of mentally skinning him, that he couldn't seem to pull himself together.
"He'll never stay after that," said Bee, complacently, to me afterward. But he did stay, and although Jimmie was furious, he had every intention of letting him have his bedroom again, which Bee and I so fiercely resented that we locked Jimmie in his stateroom, where, after a few feeble pounds on the door, he resigned himself to his fate and got the only night's sleep that he had in the eight days of Henley.
Whether the Honourable Edwardes Edwardes slept on his side on the bench or on his back on the dinner-table, or stood up all night, we never knew. He was a little cross at breakfast, and complained of feeling "a bit stiff." But nobody petted or sympathised with him or ran for the liniment. So by luncheon time he was drinking Jimmie's champagne again with the utmost good humour.
One of the most amusing things we did was to go after dinner in little boats and form part of the river audience in front of some other house-boat where something was going on,—crowded in between other boats, having to ship our oars and pull ourselves along by our neighbours' gunwales, getting locked for perhaps half an hour, until suddenly our Geisha girls or niggers would start the cry "Up river," when away we would all go, entertainers and entertained, pulling up the river to the lights of another house-boat, enjoying the music for a few minutes and then slipping away in the darkness toward the lights of Henley village, or perhaps back to the Lulu.
Once or twice a boat would capsize, giving the occupants a severe wetting, but as river costumes are always washable and the river is not deep, no harm ever seemed to come of these aquatic diversions. Once, however, it was brought near home in this wise.
Jimmie invited his wife to go canoeing. I went canoeing once on the Kennebunk River with an Indian to paddle, and after watching the manoeuvres of the paddlers on the Thames and the antics of those wretched little boats, I made the solemn promise with myself never to trust any one less skilled than an Indian again. But Jimmie, while he is not more conceited than most people, is what you might call confident, and he would have been all right in this instance, if he had noticed that a race had just been rowed and that the swell from the racers was just rippling over the boom and creeping gently toward the house-boat. The canoe was still at the house-boat steps. They were both seated comfortably and just about to paddle away when a swell came alongside and tilted the canoe in such a succession of little unexpected rolls that our two friends, in their anxiety to hold on to something which was not there to hold on to, overbalanced, and the canoe shipped enough water to submerge their legs entirely, giving them a nice cold hip bath.
Mrs. Jimmie screamed, and we all rushed down and fished her out of the boat dripping like a mermaid and thoroughly chilled. Bee took her in to warm her with a brandy and to hurry her into dry clothes, while I remained to see what I could do for Jimmie, who was very wet, very mad, and very uncommunicative.
"What a pity," I remarked, pleasantly, "that you are so thin. Shall I come down and hold the boat still while you get out? Wet flannel has such a clinging effect."
Jimmie is a good deal of a gentleman, so he made no reply. I was just turning away, resolving in a Christian spirit to order him a hot Scotch, when I heard a splash and a remark which was full of exclamation points, asterisks, and other things, and looking down I saw the canoe bottom upwards, with Jimmie clinging to it indignantly blowing a large quantity of Thames water from his mouth in a manner which led me to know that the sooner I got away from there the better it would be for me. I kept out of his way until dinner-time, and only permitted him to suspect that I saw his disappearance by politely ignoring the fact that all his and Mrs. Jimmie's lingerie, to speak delicately, was floating about, hanging from pegs in unused portions of the house-boat. My silence was so suspicious that finally Jimmie could stand it no longer.
"Did you see me go down?" he demanded.
"I did not," I answered him, firmly, whereat he released my elbow and I edged around to the other side of the table.
"But I saw you come up," I said, pleasantly, "and I saw what you said."
"Saw?" said Jimmie. "Saw what I said?"
"Certainly! There was enough blue light around your remarks for me to have seen them in the dark."
"Well, what have you got to say about it?" he said, resigning himself.
"Only this, and that is that this afternoon's performance in that canoe was the only instance in my life where I thoroughly approved of the workings of Providence. Ordinarily the good die young and the guilty one escapes."
"Is that all?" growled Jimmie.
"Yes," I said, hesitatingly, "I think it is. Did I mention before that I thought you were thin?"
"You certainly did," said Jimmie.
"Your legs," I went on, but just then I was interrupted by the reappearance of a little German musician, who had floated up the river two days before in a white flannel suit without change of linen and who played accompaniments of our singers so well that Jimmie permitted him to stay on without either actually inviting him or showing him that his presence was not any particular addition to our enjoyment.
Jimmie objected violently to some of his sentiments, which the German was tactless enough to keep thrusting in our faces. He was as offensive to our English friends on the subject of England as he was to us concerning America, but one of the Englishmen sang and couldn't play a note, so Jimmie let the German stay, because Miss Wemyss wanted him to.
Although secretly I think Jimmie and I hated him, we are sometimes polite enough not to say everything we think, but at any rate there never was a moment when Jimmie and I wouldn't leave off attacking each other, hoping for an opportunity for a fight with the German, which thus far he had escaped by the skin of his teeth.
"Your sister sent me to tell you that there is a house-boat up near the Island flying the American flag and we are all going up there to see it. Would you like to go?"
"Thanks so much for your invitation," said Jimmie, "but I've got some guests coming in half an hour, so I can't go."
"I'll go. Just wait until I get my hat."
One boat contained Bee, Mrs. Jimmie, and two Princeton men, and the other Miss Wemyss, the German, Miss Wemyss' fiance, Sir George, and me. Side by side the two skiffs pulled up the river to the Island, where on a very small house-boat named the Queen a large American flag was flying and beneath it were crossed a smaller American flag and the Union Jack.
Sir George, who is one of the nicest Englishmen we ever met, pulled off his cap and cried out:
"All hats off to the Stars and Stripes!"
In an instant every hat was whipped off, ours included, although there was some wrestling with hat-pins before we could get them off. All, did I say? All—all except the German! He folded his arms across his breast and kept his hat on.
"Didn't you hear Sir George?" I said to him.
He had a nervous twitching of the eye at all times, and when he was excited the muscles of his face all jerked in unison like Saint Vitus' dance. At my question every muscle in his face, as the Princeton man in Bee's boat said, "began working over time."
"Yes, I heard him. Of course I heard him," he said.
"Then take your hat off!" said Miss Wemyss.
"Yes, take your hat off!" came in a roar from all the others, none being louder and more peremptory than the Englishman's.
"I will not take my hat off to that dirty rag," he said. "It means nothing to me. The flag of any country means nothing to me. I can go into a shop and buy that red, white, and blue! That is only a rag—that flag."
Sir George leaned over with blazing eyes and took him by the collar.
"Don't do that, George," said Miss Wemyss, excitedly. "His linen is not fit to touch."
"Let's duck him," said the Princeton man.
But Mrs. Jimmie interfered, saying in a quiet voice, although her hands were trembling:
"Don't do anything to him until we take him back to the house-boat. Remember he is my guest."
At this the German smiled with such insolence and pulled his hat further down on his brow with such a vicious look of satisfaction that I had all I could do to hold myself in. The boats flew back to the house-boat as if on wings.
"You see, miss," he leaned forward and said to me in low tones. "You do not like me. You love your flag. Ah, ha, I revenge myself."
"Just wait till I tell Jimmie," I said.
"Ah, ha, he will do nothing! I play for his concert to-night."
As the boats pulled up to the steps of the house-boat, Jimmie met us with his two friends, who had come during our absence. We had never seen them before.
"What do you think, Jimmie?" stammered Bee, stumbling up the steps in her excitement.
"And Jimmie, he wouldn't take his hat off to the flag!"
"And Jimmie, I wish you had been there, you'd have drowned him!" came from all of us at once.
"What's that?" cried Jimmie in a rage at once, and:
"What's that?" came from the men behind him. "Wouldn't take off his hat to the flag? Who wouldn't?"
"That nasty little German!" cried Miss Wemyss.
We were all out of the boats by that time except the unhappy object of our wrath, whose countenance by this time was working into patterns like a kaleidoscope.
"Mr. Jimmie," he said, coming to the end of the boat with every intention of stepping out, "I apologise to you. I am very sorry."
"Get back in that boat!" thundered Jimmie.
"But, sir! Your concert to-night! I play for you!"
"You go to the devil," said Jimmie. "You'll not put your foot on board this boat again. Off you go! Take him down to Henley!" he ordered the boatman.
"Very well! Very well!" said the German, "I go, but I do not take my hat off to your flag."
"Ah! Don't you?" cried the Princeton man, making a grab for the German's sailor hat with his long arm, just as the boat shot away. He stooped and took it up full of Thames water and flung it thus loaded squarely in the little wretch's face, while the man at the oars dexterously tossed it overboard, where it floated bottom upwards in the river, and the boat shot out toward Henley with the bareheaded and most excited specimen of the human race it was ever our lot to behold.
Then Jimmie introduced his friends. Bee has just looked over this narrative of the pleasantest week we ever spent in England and she says:
"You haven't said a word about the races."
"So I haven't."
But they were there.
"Now," said Jimmie as our train was pulling into Paris, "we are all decided, are we not, that we shall stay in Paris only two days?"
His eyes met ours with apprehension and a determination that ended in a certain amount of questioning in their glance.
"Certainly!" we all hastened to assure him. "Not over two days."
"Just long enough," said Jimmie, beamingly, "to have one lunch at the Cafe Marguery for sole a la Normande—"
"And one afternoon at the Louvre to see the Venus and the Victory—" I pleaded.
"And the Father Tiber—" added Jimmie, waxing enthusiastic.
"Yes, and one dinner at the Pavilion d'Armenonville to hear the Tziganes—" said Bee.
"And one afternoon on the Seine to go to St. Cloud to see the brides dance at the Pavilion Bleu, and a supper afterward in the open to have a poulet and a peche flambee."
Jimmie by this time was wriggling in ecstasy.
"And just time to order two or three gowns apiece and have one look at hats," added Mrs. Jimmie, complacently.
"'Two or three gowns apiece and one look at hats,'" cried Jimmie. "And how long will that take? We agreed on two days, and you never said a word about clothes. That means a whole week!"
"Not at all, Jimmie," said Bee. "It's too late to do anything to-night. To-morrow morning we'll go and look. In the afternoon we'll think it over while we're doing the Louvre. It is always cool and quiet there, and looking at statuary always helps me to make up my mind about clothes. The next morning we'll go and order. In the afternoon we'll buy our hats, and with one day more for the first fittings, I believe we might manage and have the things sent after us to Baden-Baden."
"Not at all," put in Mrs. Jimmie. "They will never be satisfactory unless we put our minds on the subject and give them plenty of time. We must stay at least two days more. Give us four days, Jimmie."
I had to laugh at Jimmie's rueful face. He was about to remonstrate, but Bee switched him off diplomatically by saying, in her most deferential manner:
"What hotel have you decided on, Jimmie? It's such a comfort to be getting to a Paris hotel. What one do you think would be best?"
Bee's tone was so flattering that Jimmie forgot clothes and said:
"Well, you know at the Binda you can get corn on the cob and American griddle cakes—"
"Oh, but the rooms are so small and dark, and we could go there for luncheon to get those things," said his wife.
"Do let's go to the Hotel Vouillemont," I begged. "We won't see any Americans there, and it is so lovely and old and French, and so heavenly quiet."
"But then there is the new Elysee Palace," said Bee. "We haven't seen that."
"And they say it's finer than the Waldorf," said Mrs. Jimmie.
Jimmie and I looked at each other in comical despair.
"Let 'em have their own way, Jimmie," I whispered in his ear, "while we're in their country. They know that we are going to make 'em dodge Switzerland and go up in the Austrian Tyrol and perhaps even get them to Russia, so we'll be obliged to give them their head part of the way. Let's be handsome about it."
We went to the Elysee Palace, and we spent two weeks in Paris. Part of this time we were fashionable with Mrs. Jimmie and Bee, and part of the time they were Latin Quartery with us. We made them go to the Concert Rouge and to the Restaurant Foyot, and occasionally even to sit on the sidewalk at one of the little tables at Scossa's, where you have dejeuner au choix for one franc fifty, including wine, and which they couldn't help enjoying in spite of pretending to despise it and us, while occasionally we went with them to call on the grand and distinguished personages to whom they had letters. But it remained for the last days of our stay for us to have our experiences. The first came about in this wise.
I had brought a letter to Max Nordau from America, but I heard after I got to Paris that he was so fierce a woman hater, that I determined not to present it. I read it over every once in awhile, but failed to screw my courage to the sticking point, until one day I mentioned that I had this letter, and Jimmie to my surprise threw up both hands, exclaiming:
"A letter to Max Nordau! Why, it is like owning a gold mine! Present it by all means, and then tell us what he is like."
Afraid to present it in person, I sent it by mail, saying that I had heard that he hated women and that I was scared to death of him, but if he had a day in the near future on which he felt less fierce than usual, I would come to see him, and I asked permission to bring a friend. By "friend" I meant Jimmie.
The most charming note came in answer that a polished man of the world could write—not in the least like the bear I had imagined him to be, but courteous and even merry. In it he said he should feel honoured if I would visit his poor abode, and he seemed to have read my books and knew all about me, so with very mixed feelings Jimmie and I called at the hour he named.
He lives in one of the regulation apartment houses of Paris, of the meaner sort—by no means as fine as those in the American quarter. The most horrible odour of German cookery—cauliflower and boiled cabbage and vinegar and all that—floated out when the door opened. The room—a sort of living-room—into which we were ushered was a mixture of all sorts of furniture, black haircloth, dingy and old, with here and there a good picture or one fine chair, which I imagined had been presented to him.
Jimmie was much excited at the idea of meeting him. Max Nordau is one of his idols,—Nordau's horrible power of invective fully meeting Jimmie's ideas of the way crimes of the bestial sort should be treated. Jimmie is often a surprise to me in his beliefs and ideals, but when Doctor Nordau entered the room I forgot Jimmie and everything else in the world except this one man.
I can see him now as he stood before me—a thick-set man with a magnificent torso, but with legs which ought to have been longer. For that body he ought to have been six feet tall. When he is seated he appears to be a very large man. You would know that he was a physician from the way he shakes hands—even from the touch of his hand, which seems to be in itself a soothing of pain.
He was exquisitely clean. Indeed he seemed, after one look into his face, to be one of the cleanest men I ever had seen. And to look into the face of a man in Paris and to be able to say that, means something.
His eyes were gray blue—very clear in colour. Their whites were really white—not bloodshot nor yellow. His skin was the clear, beautiful colour which you sometimes see in a young and handsome Jew. There was the same clear red and white. This distinguishing quality of clearness was noticeable too in his lips, for his short white moustache shows them to be full, very red, and with the line where the red joins the white extremely clear cut. His teeth were large, full, even, and white, like those of a primitive man, who tore his rare meat with those same white teeth, and who never heard of a dentist. His hair was short, white, and bristling. He seemed to have some Jewish blood in him, but he seemed more than all to be perfectly well, perfectly normal, filled to the brim with abounding life. It was like a draught from the Elixir of Life to be in his presence. What a man!
All at once the whole of "Degeneration" was made clear to me. How could any man as sane, as normal, as superbly health-loving and health-bestowing keep from writing such a book! I never met any one who so impressed me with his knowledge. Not pedantry, but with the deep-lying fundamental truth that humanity ought to know. His sympathies are so broad, his intuitions so keen, his understanding so subtle.
He asked us at once into his study—a small room, lined with books bound in calf. Both the chair and his couch had burst out beneath, showing broken springs and general dilapidation. He speaks many languages, and his English is very pure and beautiful.
Like all great men, his manner was extremely simple. He did not pose. He was interested in me, in my work, in my ambitions, hopes, and aims. He seemed to have no overpoweringly high idea of himself, nor of what he had achieved. He was thoroughly at home in French, German, English, Scandinavian, and Russian literature. He read them in the originals, and his knowledge of the classics seemed to be equally complete. The well-worn books upon his shelves testified to this.
I asked him if he intended to come to America in the near future. To which he replied:
"Unhappily I cannot tell. I should like to go. I consider America the country of the world at present. Whether we admit it or not, all nations are watching you. The rest of the world cannot live without you. Russia is the only country in the world which could go to war without your assistance. You must feed Europe. Your men are the financiers of the world and your women rule and educate and are the saviours of the men. Therefore to my mind the greatest factor in the world's civilisation to-day is the great body of the American women. You little know your power. You seem to have got the ear of the American woman, and the only advice I have to give you is to be more bold. Don't be afraid of being too pedantic. You are too subtle. You bury your truths sometimes too deeply. The busy are too busy to dig for it, and the stupid do not know it is there."
"I think 'Degeneration' is the most wonderful book ever written," Jimmie broke in at this point as if unable to keep silent any longer. Then he looked deeply embarrassed at Doctor Nordau's hearty laughter.
"Thank you a thousand times," he said; "such a decided opinion I seldom hear. Your great country was the first to appreciate and read it. I have many friends there whom I never saw but who love me and whom I love. They often write to me."
"And beg autographs and photographs of you," I said.
"Oh, yes, but it is very easy to do what they ask. But one curious thing strikes me about America. See, here on my book shelves I have books written explaining the government of all countries in all languages—all countries, that is to say, except America. Why has no one ever written such an one about the United States?"
Jimmie pricked up his ears as this phase of the conversation came home to him. He forgot his awe and said:
"What's the matter with Bryce?"
Doctor Nordau looked puzzled. He is a practising physician.
"'What's the matter with Bryce?'" he repeated.
"Haven't you read 'Bryce's Commonwealth?'" I broke in, to give Jimmie time to get on his legs again.
"Is there a book on American government by an American that I never heard of?" asked Nordau of Jimmie.
"Well, Bryce is an Englishman, but he knows more about America than any American I know," answered Jimmie. "I'll send you the book if you would like to read it."
Doctor Nordau thanked him and said he would be delighted to have it. While Jimmie was making a note of this, Doctor Nordau looked quizzically at me and said:
"Do American publishers rob all foreign authors as I have been robbed, or am I mistaken in thinking that large numbers of 'Degeneration' have been sold in America?"
Alas, wherever I go in Europe, I am obliged to hear this denunciation of our publishers! I cannot get beyond the sound of it. To hear foreign authors denounce American publishers by every term of opprobrium which could commonly be applied to Barabbas! I was puzzled to know whether they really are the most unscrupulous robbers in creation or if they only have the name of being.
"You are not mistaken in thinking that large numbers of 'Degeneration' have been sold," I said, "and if your book was properly copyrighted and protected and you did not sign away all your rights to your American publishers for a song, as too many foreign authors do in their scorn of American appreciation of good literature, you should not be obliged to complain, for I distinctly remember that 'Degeneration' often led in the lists of best selling books which our booksellers report at the end of each week."
"Then I will leave you to judge for yourself," said Doctor Nordau. "The entire amount I have received from my American publishers for 'Degeneration' is fifty pounds! That is every sou!"
"Fifty pounds!" cried Jimmie, in consternation. "Why that is only two hundred and fifty dollars of our money!"
"I leave it to you to judge for yourselves," said Doctor Nordau again.
We said nothing, for as Jimmie said after we left, there was really nothing to say.
But evidently our consternation touched him, for he broke out into a big German laugh, saying:
"Don't take it so deeply to heart! You are too sensitive. Do you take the criticisms of your books so deeply to heart as you take a criticism of your countrymen? Don't do it! Remember, there are few critics worth reading."
"I never read them while they are fresh," I admitted. "I keep them until their heat has had time to cool. Then if they are favourable I say, 'This is just so much extra pleasure that, as it is all over. I had no right to expect.' And if they are unfavourable I think, 'What difference does it make? It was published weeks ago and everybody has forgotten it by this time!'"
"You have the right spirit," he said. "Where would I be if I had taken to heart the criticisms of the degenerates on 'Degeneration?' I sit back and laugh at them for holding a hand mirror up to their faces and unconsciously crying out 'I see a fool!' To understand great truths,—and great truths are seldom popular,—one must bring a willing mind. Yet how often it is that the very sick one wishes most to help are the ones who refuse, either from conceit or stupidity, to believe and be healed. Remember this: no one can get out of a book more than he brings to it. Readers of books seldom realise that by their written or spoken criticisms they are displaying themselves in all their weaknesses, all their vanities, all their strength for their hearers to make use of as they will."
"I shouldn't think anything ever would disturb you," said Jimmie, regarding Doctor Nordau's gigantic strength admiringly.
Doctor Nordau laughed.
"It is the little things of this life, my friend, which often disturb a mental balance which is always poised to receive great shocks. The gnat-bites and mosquito buzzings are sometimes harder to bear than an operation with a surgeon's knife."
I looked triumphantly at Jimmie as Doctor Nordau said that, for Jimmie never has got over it that I once dragged the whole party off a train and made them wait until the next one, because the wheels of our railway carriage squeaked. But Jimmie's mind is open to persuasion, especially from one whose opinions he admires as he admires Max Nordau's, for he looked at me with more tolerance, as he said:
"It is the nervous organisation, I suppose. She can bear neuralgia for days at a time which would drive me crazy in an hour, but I've seen her burst into tears because a door slammed."
"Exactly so!" said Doctor Nordau. "I understand perfectly."
"Now, I never hear such noises," pursued Jimmie. "But I suppose there must be some difference between you both, who can write books, and me, who can't even write a letter without dictating it!"
Soon after this we came away, Jimmie beaming with delight over one idol who had not tumbled from his pedestal at a near view.
We were still in the midst of the Paris season. It was very gay and Bee and Mrs. Jimmie had made some amiable friends among the very smartest of the Parisian smart set. When we went to tea or dinner with these people Jimmie and I had to be dragged along like dogs who are muzzled for the first time. Every once in awhile en route we would plant our fore feet and try to rub our muzzles off, but the hands which held our chains were gentle but firm, and we always ended by going.
On one Sunday we were invited to have dejeuner with the Countess S., and as it was her last day to receive she had invited us to remain and meet her friends. At the breakfast there were perhaps sixteen of us and the conversation fell upon palmistry. We had just seen Cheiro in London, and as he had amiably explained a good many of our lines to us, I was speaking of this when the old Duchesse de Z. thrust her little wrinkled paw loaded down with jewels across the plate of her neighbour and said:
"Mademoiselle, can you see anything in the lines of my hand?"
I make no pretence of understanding palmistry, but I saw in her hand a queer little mark that Cheiro had explained to us from a chart. I took her hand in mine and all the conversation ceased to hear the pearls of wisdom which were about to drop from my lips. The duchesse was very much interested in the occult and known to be given to table tipping and the invocation of spirits.
"I see something here," I began, hesitatingly, "which looks to me as if you had once been threatened with a great danger, but had been miraculously preserved," I said.
The old woman drew her hand away.
"Humph," she muttered with her mouth full of homard. "I wondered if you would see that. It was assassination I escaped. It was enough to leave a mark, eh, mademoiselle?"
"I should think so," I murmured.
The young Count de X. on my right said, in a tone which the duchesse might have heard:
"When she was a young girl, only nineteen, her husband tied her with ropes to her bed and set fire to the bed curtains. Her screams brought the servants and they rescued her."
My fork fell with a clatter.
"What an awful man!" I gasped.
"He was my uncle, mademoiselle!" said the young man, imperturbably, arranging the gardenia in his buttonhole, "but as you say, he was a bad lot."
"I beg your pardon!" I exclaimed.
"It is nothing," he answered. "It is no secret. Everybody knows it."
Later in the afternoon I took occasion to apologise to the duchesse for having referred to the subject.
"Why should you be distressed, mademoiselle," said the old woman, peering up into my face from beneath her majenta bonnet with her little watery brown eyes, "such things will go into books and be history a few years hence. We make history, such families as ours," she added, proudly.
I turned away rather bewildered and for an hour or two watched Bee and Mrs. Jimmie being presented to those who called to pay their respects to our hostess. They were of all descriptions and fascinating to a degree. Finally the duchesse came up to me bringing a lady whom she introduced as the Countess Y.
"She is a compatriot of yours, mademoiselle."
It so happened that Bee and Mrs. Jimmie were standing near me and overheard.
"Ah, you are an American," I said.
"Well," said the countess, moving her shoulders a little uneasily, "I am an American, but my husband does not like to have me admit it."
It was a small thing. She had a right to deny her nationality if she liked, but in some way it shocked the three of us alike and we moved forward as if pulled by one string.
"I think we must be going," said Bee, haughtily.
Jimmie's jaw was so set as we left the house of the countess, and Bee and Mrs. Jimmie looked so disturbed that I suggested that we drive down to the Louvre and take one last look at our treasures. Mine are the Venus de Milo and the Victory, and Jimmie's is the colossal statue of the river Tiber. Jimmie loves that old giant, Father Tiber, lying there with the horn of plenty and dear little Romulus and Remus with their foster mother under his right hand. Jimmie says the toes of the giant fascinate him.
It looked like rain, so we hastily checked our parasols and Jimmie's stick and cut down the left corridor to the stairs, and so on down to the chamber where we left Jimmie and the Tiber to stare each other out of countenance. The rest of us continued our way to the room where the Venus stands enthroned in her silent majesty. We sat down to rest and worship, and then coming up the steps again and mounting another flight, we stood looking across the arcade at the brilliant electric poise of the Victory, and in taking our last look at her, we did not notice that it had gradually grown very dark.
When we came out, rested, uplifted, and calmed as the effect of that glorious Venus always is upon our fretted spirits, we discovered that the most terrific rainstorm was in progress it ever was our luck to behold. The water came down in cataracts and blinding sheets of rain. Every one except us had been warned by the darkness and had got themselves home. The streets were empty except for the cabs and carriages which skurried by with fares. Our frantic signals and Jimmie's dashes into the street were of no avail.
We would have walked except that Bee and I had colds, and big, beautiful Mrs. Jimmie was subject to croup, which as every one knows is terrible in its attacks upon grown people.
Poor Jimmie ran in every direction in his wild efforts for a carriage, but none was to be had. We waited two hours, then Mrs. Jimmie saw a black covered wagon approaching and she gathered up her skirts and hailed it. The driver obligingly pulled up at the curb.
"You must drive us to our hotel." she said, firmly. "We have waited two hours."
"Impossible, madame!" said the man.
"But you must," we all said in chorus.
"You shall have much money," said Jimmie in his worst French.
"All the same it is impossible, monsieur," said the man.
He regretted exceedingly his inability to oblige the ladies, but—and he prepared to drive off.
"Get in, girls," said Mrs. Jimmie, firmly, pushing us in at the back of the wagon. The man expostulated, not in anger but appealingly. Mrs. Jimmie would not listen. She said there ought to be more cabs in Paris, and that she regretted it as much as he did, but she climbed in as she talked, and gave the address of the hotel.
"You shall have three times your fare," she said, calmly, "drive on!"
"But what madame demands is impossible," pleaded the poor man. "I am on my way for another body. Madame sits in the morgue wagon!"
But there he was mistaken, for madame sat nowhere. Before he had done speaking madame was flying through the air, alighting on poor Jimmie's foot, while Bee and I clawed at our dripping skirts in a mad effort to follow suit.
The morgue wagon pursued its way down the Rue de Rivoli, while we risked colds, croup, and everything else in an endeavour to find a "grand bain," splashing through puddles but marching steadily on, Jimmie in a somewhat strained silence limping uncomplainingly at our side.
STRASBURG AND BADEN-BADEN
We are on our way to the Passion Play, and although each of the four of us is a monument of amiability when taken individually, as a quartet we sometimes clash. At present we are fighting over the route we shall take between Paris and Oberammergau. Bee and Mrs. Jimmie have replenished their wardrobes in the Rue de la Paix, and wish to follow the trail of American tourists going to Baden-Baden, while Jimmie and I, having rooted out of a German student in the Latin Quarter two or three unknown carriage routes through the mountains which lead to unknown spots not double starred, starred, or even mentioned in Baedeker, are wondering how the battle between clothes and Bohemianism will end.
We arrived at Strasburg still in an amiable wrangle, but all four agreed on seeing the clock which has made the town famous. Our time was so limited that there was not, as is often the case, an opportunity for all four of us to get our own way.
Anybody who did not know her, would imagine by the quiet way that Bee has let the subject of Baden-Baden alone for the whole day, that she had quite given up going there, but I know Bee. She has left Jimmie and me to defend the front of the fortress, while she is bringing all her troops up in the rear. Bee does not believe in a charge with plenty of shouting and galloping and noise. Bee's manoeuvres never raise any dust, but on a flank movement, a midnight sortie or an ambush, Bee could outgeneral Napoleon and Alexander and General Grant and every other man who has helped change the maps of the world. Only by indication and past sad experience do I know what she is up to. One thing to-day has given me a clue. I have a necktie—the only really saucy thing about the whole of my wardrobe, the only distinguishing smartness to my toilet—upon which Bee has fixed her affection, and which she means to get away from me. I don't know how I came to buy it in the first place. However, I sha'n't have it long. Bee is bargaining for it—that means that we are going to Baden-Baden. She is not openly bargaining, for that would let me know how much she wants it, but she has admired it pointedly. She tied my veil on for me this morning, and even as I write, she is sewing a button on my glove. Bee in the politest way possible is going to force me to give her that tie. I wish she wouldn't, for I really need it, but I must get all the wear I expect to have out of it in the next two days, for by the end of the week, if these attentions continue, that Charvet tie will belong to Bee.
Last night, as soon as we arrived and had our dinner, we went to the Orangerie. This great park with myriads of walks is one of the most attractive things about Strasburg. A very good band was playing a Sousa march as we came in and took our seats at one of the little tables.
But just here let me record something which has surprised me all during my travels in Europe; and that is the small amount of good music one hears outside of opera. I have always imagined Germany to be distinguished equally by her music and her beer. I have not been disappointed in the beer, for it is there by the tub, but as to the music, there is not in my opinion in the whole of Germany or Austria one such as Sousa's, and as to men choruses, not one that I have heard, and I have followed them closely wherever I heard of their existence, is to be compared with any of our College Glee Clubs. In my opinion the casual open-air music of Germany is another of the disappointments of Europe—to be set down in the same category with the linden trees of Berlin and the trousers of the French Army.
German music seems to be too universally indulged in to be good. It is performed with more earnestness than skill and the programme is gone through with with more fervour than taste. The musicians of a typical German band dig through the evening's numbers with the same dogged perseverance and perspiration that they would exercise in tunnelling through a mountain. In this connection I am not speaking of any of the trained orchestras, but solely of the band music that one hears all through the Rhine land. It is only tradition that Germans are the most musical people in the world, for in my opinion the rank and file of Germans have no ear for key. That they listen well and perform earnestly is perfectly true. That they respect music and give it proper attention is equally true, but that they know the difference between a number performed with no expression, with one or two instruments or voices, as the case may be, entirely out of pitch, and the same number correctly rendered, is impossible to believe by one who has watched them as carefully as I.
Sousa once made the statement to the American Press that in his opinion the American nation was the most musical nation in the world. He based this astonishing belief, which was violently attacked by the German-American Press, upon his observation of his audiences and by the street music, even including whistling and singing. I agree with his opinion with all my heart. In an American audience of the most common sort an instrument off the key or improperly tuned will be sure to be detected. It may be, nay, it probably is true, that the person so detecting the discord will not know where the trouble lies or of what it consists, but his ear, untrained as it is, tells him that something is wrong, and he shows his discomfort and disapproval. I claim that the ordinary American—the common or garden variety of American—has a more correct ear than the common or garden variety of German. I claim that the rank and file in America is for this reason more truly musical than the same class in the German nation, although the German nation has a technical knowledge of music which it will take the Americans a thousand years to equal. For this reason an open-air concert in America is so much more enjoyable both from the numbers selected and the spirit of their playing, that the two performances are not to be mentioned in the same day.
A criticism which the wayfaring man will whip out to floor me at this point, viz., that nearly all performers in American bands are Germans, will not cause me to wink an eyelash, for the effect of American audiences on German performers has raised the standard of their music so that I am informed by Germans and Austrians that the most annoying, irritating, and insulting factor in their otherwise peaceful lives is the return of a German-American to his native heath. They tell me that his arrogance and conceit are unbearable—that he claims that Americans alone know how to make practical use of the technical knowledge of the German—that the Teuton gathers the knowledge, the Yankee applies it. This goes to prove my point.
We Americans are a curious people. We get better music under our own vine and fig-tree than they have anywhere else in the world but we don't know it. There is no such band on earth as Sousa's, no better orchestra than Theodore Thomas's or the Boston Symphony, and we hear the Metropolitan and French operas.
Take also our chamber music and from that come down to our street ballads, and then to the whistling and singing heard in the streets, with no thought of audience or even listeners.
I have followed German music closely, and I claim that German musicians, or rather let me say German producers of music, lack ear just about half of the time. Their students cannot compare with our college singing, their pedestrian parties, which one meets all through the country, singing, often from notes (and if you take the trouble to inquire, they will frequently tell you with pride that they belong to such and such a singing society) almost drive sensitive ears crazy. But they love it—they adore music, they take such comfort out of it, that one is forced to forgive this lack of ear and this polyglot pitch, or else be considered a churl.
The Orangerie has, however, a very good average band—for Germany. The picture of the great crowd of people gathered at little tables around the band-stand, whole families together; of a tiny boy baby, just able to toddle around, being dragged about by an enormous St. Bernard dog, whose chain the baby tugged at most valiantly; the long dim avenues under the trees where an occasional young couple lost themselves from fathers and mothers; the music; the cheerful beer-drinking; the general air of rosy-cheeked contentment has formed in my mind a most agreeable recollection of the Orangerie of Strasburg.
Strasburg has, however, much more to boast of than her clock. The city was founded by the Romans, and in the middle ages was one of the most powerful of the free cities of the German Empire, on the occasions of imperial processions her citizens enjoying the proud distinction of having their banner borne second only to the imperial eagle.
Then, because of its strategical importance, in a time of peace, Louis XIV. of France seized the city of Strasburg, and this delicate attention on his part was confirmed by the Peace of Ryswick in 1679, thereby giving Strasburg to France. The French kept it nearly two hundred years, but Germany got it back at the Peace of Frankfort, 1871, and it is now the capital of German Alsace and Lorraine.
I never think of Alsace and Lorraine that I do not recall the statue in the Place de la Concorde, with gay coloured wreaths looking more like a festival of joy than mourning,—in fact I never think of Paris mourning for anything, from a relative to a dead dog, that I can keep my countenance.
On the Jour des Morts, I once went to the Pere-Lachaise and found in the family lot of a duchesse with a grand name, a stuffed dog of the rare old breed known as mongrel. In America he would have slouched at the heels of a stevedore—or any sort of a man who shuffles in his walk and smokes a short black pipe. But this yellow cur was in a glass case mounted on a marble pedestal, and his yellowness in life was represented by a coat of small yellow beads put on in patches where the hair had disappeared. His yellow glass eyes peered staringly at the passer-by and his tomb was literally heaped with expensive couronnes tied with long streamers of crape, while couronnes on the grass-grown tomb of the defunct husband of the duchesse, buried in the back of the lot behind the dog, were conspicuous by their absence. I wondered if the widow took this ingenious method of publishing to the world that in life her husband had been less to her than her dog.
Paris crape is this slippery, shiny sort of stuff, like thin haircloth—the kind they used to cover furniture with. It is made up into "costumes" which have such an air of fashion that the deceased relative is instantly forgotten in one's interest in the cut and fit of the gown. A butterfly of a bonnet, a tiny face veil coming just to the tip of the nose, with the long one in the back sweeping almost to the ground, completes a picture of such a jaunty grief, such a saucy sorrow, that one would be quite willing to lose one or two distant relatives in order to be clad in such a manner.
The University of Strasburg changed its nationality as often as the town, but not at the same time. In one of its German periods Goethe graduated there as doctor of laws—which fact ought to be better known. At least I didn't know it. But Bee says that doesn't signify, because I know so little. But Bee only says that when she has asked me some stupid date that nobody ever knows or ever did know except in a history class.
The next day after our evening at the Orangerie, at half after eleven, we went to the Cathedral to see the clock. It only performs all its functions at noon, and as there is always a crowd of tourists about it, we went early.
The most wonderful feature of this clock to Jimmie is that it regulates itself and adapts its motions to the revolutions of the seasons, year after year and year after year, as if it had a wonderful living human mind somewhere in its insides. Its perpetual calendar, too, is a marvel! How can that insensate clock tell when to put twenty-eight days and when to give thirty-one, when I can't even do it myself without saying:
"Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November, All the rest have thirty-one, Except February alone, Which has but twenty-eight in fine Till leap-year gives it twenty-nine."
And who tells that clock when leap year comes, and when the moon changes, and when it's going to rain, and when hoop-skirts will be worn again? Wonderful people, these Germans.
We were there on Monday when the clock struck noon. Monday is the day when Diana steps out upon the first gallery. Each day has its deity—Apollo on Sunday, Diana on Monday, etc.
On the first gallery an angel strikes the quarters on a bell in his little mechanical hand. Then a gentleman who has nothing else to do the whole year round reverses an hour-glass each hour in the twenty-four; so that you can tell the time by counting the grains of sand or by glancing at the face of the clock,—whichever way you have been brought up to tell time.
Above this there is a skeleton, which strikes the hours, and evidently cheerfully reminds us what our end will be, around which are grouped the quarter-hours, represented by the four figures, boyhood, youth, manhood, and old age.
But the two most remarkable things are those which crown the clock. In the highest niche, at noon, the twelve apostles, also representing the hours, come out of a door and march around the figure of the Saviour. Judas hangs his head, and the eyes of the Christ follow him until he disappears. Then on the highest pinnacle of all, a cock comes out, preens himself, flaps his wings, and gives such an exultant crow that Peter pauses in his walk, then drops his head forward on his breast, and so passes out of sight.
When the performance is over, the crowd melts away. Some few stay to do the Cathedral, but we went to luncheon. At luncheon it was decided to go to Baden-Baden. Jimmie and I compromised on three days of it.
There is nothing particularly interesting about the journey thither. When you come to the village of Oos, you get off the train and take a little train which is waiting on a siding, and in less than five minutes, before you have time to sit down, in fact, you are at Baden, at the entrance of the Black Forest, and find it beautiful.
It was the height of the season and we went to a very smart hotel, where they have very badly dressed people, because nearly everybody there except us had money and titles.
Now the height of the season at any watering-place depresses me. If I could wear fern seed in my shoes to make me invisible, and sit on the piazza railing in a shirt-waist and a short skirt, I would love it. But both Bee and Mrs. Jimmie, with the light of heaven in their eyes, pulled out and put on their most be-yew-tiful Paris clothes, and if I do say it of my sister—well, for modesty's sake, I will only say that Mrs. Jimmie looked ripping. I was happily travelling with a steamer trunk and a big hat-box, and had hitherto rejoiced that my lack of clothes would prevent my being obliged to dress. I thought perhaps Jimmie and I would be allowed to roam about hunting little queer restaurants like Old Tom's or the Cheshire Cheese. But when Jimmie's boyish face appeared over a white expanse of tucked shirt front, I sank down in a dejected heap.
"And thou, Brutus?" I said.
"Couldn't help it," he answered, laconically. "We'd better give in handsomely for three days. It'll pay us in the end. Get into your 'glad rags' and be good."
"But I didn't bring my 'glad rags,'" I said.
Just then Bee looked around from fastening a lace butterfly in her hair on a jewelled spiral.
"I had two extra trays in my trunk and I put a few of your things in. Would you like to wear your lace gown? You've never even tried it on."
My mouth flew open, contrary to politeness and my excellent bringing-up. Jimmie collapsed with a silent grin, while I meekly followed Bee into my room.
When I saw my new gown all full of rolls of tissue-paper, packed by poor dear Bee, I went to my trunk and pulled out my smart Charvet tie. I handed it to her in silence.
"Take it," I said. "I hate to give it up, but you deserve it."
Bee accepted it gratefully.
"It's good of you to give it to me," she said. "You really need it more than I do, only this peculiar shade of blue is so becoming to me. I'll tell you what I'll do though," she added, heroically. "I'll lend it to you whenever you want it."
I thanked her, dressed, and then humbly trailed down to dinner in the wake of my gorgeous party.
Jimmie had engaged a table on the piazza, nearest the street and commanding the best view of all the other diners. I very willingly sat with my back to all the people, with the panorama of the Lichtenthaler Strasse passing before my eyes, and in quiet moments the sounds of the great military band playing on the promenade in front of the Conversationshaus coming to our ears.
A great deal of grandeur always makes me homesick. It isn't envy. I don't want to be a princess and have the bother of winding a horn for my outriders when I want to run to the drug-store for postage stamps, but pomp depresses me. Everybody was strange, foreign languages were pelting me from the rear, noiseless flunkies were carrying pampered lap-dogs with crests on their nasty little embroidered blankets, fat old women with epilepsy and gouty old men with scrofula, representing the aristocracy at its best, were being half carried to and from tables, and the degeneracy of noble Europe was being borne in upon my soul with a sickening force.
The purple twilight was turning black on the distant hills, and the silent stars were slowly coming into view. Clean, health-giving Baden-Baden, in the Valley of the Oos, with its beauty and its pure air, was holding out her arms to all the disease and filth that degenerate riches produce.
I wasn't exactly blue, but I was gently melancholy. Jimmie was smoking, and Bee and Mrs. Jimmie had their heads together, casting politely furtive glances at a table which held royalty. I certainly was feeling neglected.
Suddenly a voice in English at my elbow said:
"Pardon me, madame, but were not you at the Grand Hotel at Rome last winter?"
"Yes," I said.
"I mean no impertinence in addressing you. I am the head waiter there in winter, here in summer. I remembered you at once, and I came to say that if anything goes wrong with any of your distinguished party during your stay, I shall count it a favour if you will permit me to remedy it. The hotel is at your disposal. I will send a private maid to attend you during your stay. I hope you will be happy here, madame."
Then with a bow he was gone.
I was in a state of exhilaration inside which threatened to break through at the sudden attentions of my party.
"Who's your friend?" said Jimmie.
"How nice of him!" commented his wife.
"Servants never remember me, yet I always fee better than you do," complained Bee.
"Console yourself. It is only porters and head waiters who care whether I am happy or not," I said, bitterly.
"Deary me!" said Jimmie, sitting up. "Come, let's get out of this. We must walk her over where she'll hear some music and see some pretty lights or she'll drown herself in her bath to-morrow."
We went, we promenaded, we showed our clothes, and came home smirking with satisfaction. We had been pointed out everywhere for Americans, which spoke volumes for our clothes and the smallness of our feet.
During two mortal weeks we stayed at Baden-Baden, taking the baths, improving our German and driving through the Black Forest and the Oos Valley to the green hills beyond.
Then on one happy day we were all packed to go. We sent our trunks down, saw every drawer emptied, pulled the bed to pieces, looked under it and decided that this time we hadn't left so much as a pin. Bee stuck her "blaue cravatte," as we now called the necktie, under the bureau mat to put on when we came up, and then we snatched a hasty luncheon. In the meantime we turned our "private maid" and the chambermaid loose to see if we had overlooked anything.
When we came up they were still rummaging, but had found nothing.
Bee hurried to the bureau and looked under the mat. No tie. She asked the two women. They had not seen it. Then everybody hunted. Jimmie swore we had packed it. But Bee's gray eyes turned to green as she watched the flurried movements of the two maids. She walked up to them.
"Give me that blue necktie," she said, in awful German.
At that Jimmie, who hates a row when it is not of his own making, interfered and insisted that we must have packed it—he remembered numbers of times when we had made a fuss over nothing—it was of no account anyway, and if we would only come along and not miss the train he would send back to Charvet and get Bee another "blaue cravatte."
"For heaven's sake, take that man downstairs," I said to Mrs. Jimmie, "and let us manage this affair."
So poor Jimmie was whisked from the scene of action, still protesting and gesticulating, and being soothed but marched steadily onward by his wife.
When we came down we were heated but unsuccessful. I insisted upon reporting the affair to my friend the head waiter. He almost went back on his devotion to me in his assurances that those maids were honest. Then Jimmie had to come up and interfere, and those two men decided that we had packed it.
Bee was in a cold ladylike fury.
We gave all the servants double fees to assure them that meanness had not prompted the search, and got into the carriage.
"Remember," said Bee, "I claim that one of those women has that tie in her pocket now, because all four of us looked every inch of the rooms over together. I advise you to have them searched. On the other hand I will telegraph you from Nuremberg if I find it in my trunks."
We had half an hour before the train left. Bee, who was riding backward, kept looking out down the road whence we had come with a curious expression on her face. Jimmie, in spite of warning pressures from his wife's foot, kept sputtering about women's poor memories, etc. Bee didn't even seem to hear.
Presently, in a cloud of dust, up drove one of the men from the hotel, with a little package in his hand.
"Blaue cravatte," he said, bowing.
"Where did you find it?" demanded Mrs. Jimmie.
"Between the mattress and the springs of the bed. Madame must have put it there to press it."
Jimmie looked sheepish and put us into the train with a red face. Bee simply slipped the tie into her satchel and put on her travelling-cap without a word, and began to read. Bee never nags or crows.
So much for Baden-Baden.
STUTTGART, NUREMBERG, AND BAYREUTH
We had planned to go to Stuttgart next, but as we were nearing the town, Bee pushed up her veil and said:
"I don't see why we are going to Stuttgart. I never heard of it except in connection with men who 'studied' in Stuttgart. What's there, Jimmie? An Academy?"
"I should say," said Jimmie, waking up. "The Academy where Schiller studied."
"That's very interesting," I broke in, "but it's hardly enough to keep me there very long. Are there any queer little places—"
"Any concert-gardens?" asked Bee.
"Are the hotels good?" asked his wife.
"There is one hotel called Hotel Billfinger, which I'd like to try, because Mark Twain's guide in 'Innocents Abroad' was named Billfinger. Remember?"
"He afterwards called him Ferguson, which I think is against the name and against the hotel," I said. "Why do we stop except to break the journey?"
"Well, the real reason," said Jimmie, with that timid air of his, "is because Baedeker says that in the Royal Library there are 7,200 Bibles in more than one hundred languages, and I thought if you stayed by them long enough you might get enough religion so that you would be less wearing on my nerves as a travelling companion. It wouldn't take you long to master them. While you are studying, the rest of us will refresh ourselves in the Stadt-Garten, where Bee will find a band, where I shall find a restaurant, and where my wife can ponder over Baedeker's choice information of the places where it is not proper to take a lady."
Nobody pays any attention to Jimmie, so we all stared out of the windows to see that the town was beautifully situated, almost upon the Neckar, and surrounded by such vine-clad hills and green wooded heights as to make it seem like a painting.
But Bee was still unconvinced.
"It is the capital of Nuremberg and used to be the favourite residence of the Dukes of Nuremberg," said Mrs. Jimmie, as we drove up to the hotel, not the Billfinger, let me remark in passing.
We found a band for Bee, and in the course of our stay in Stuttgart we heard any number of men's choruses, students' singing and the like. There was, too, the Museum of Art, and a fine one. There was also a lovely view, from the Eugen-Platz, of the city which lies below it. But after all, the Schloss-Garten and concerts to the contrary notwithstanding, there is an atmosphere about the law schools, museums, and collections of Stuttgart, which led frivolous pleasure-seekers like us to depart on the second day, for Nuremberg.
Jimmie has a curious way of selecting hotels. As the train neared that quaintest of old cities, toward which my heart warms anew as I think of it, he broke the silence as though we had held a long and heated argument on the matter.
"You might as well cease this useless discussion. I have decided to go to the Wittelsbacher Hof, Pfannenschmiedsgasse 22."
"Good heavens!" I murmured.
"There you go, arguing!" cried Jimmie. "But can't you see the advantages of all those extra letters on your note-paper when you write home?"
"Besides, it's a very good hotel, I've been told," said his wife, affably.
It was a very good hotel, and there was a lunch-room half-way up the main flight of stairs at the right as you enter, which I remember with peculiar pleasure. Travellers like us may well be excused for remembering a first luncheon such as that which we had at the Wittelsbacher Hof.
Then we all strolled out in the early summer twilight and took our first look at Nuremberg. Tell me if you can why we went into such ecstasies over Nuremberg and stayed there two weeks, when we could barely persuade ourselves to remain one day in Stuttgart. But the picturesqueness of Nuremberg is particularly enticing. The streets run "every which way," as the children say, and the architecture is so queer and ancient that the houses look as if they had stepped out of old prints.
It was so hot when we arrived that we were on terms of the most distant civility with each other. Indeed, it was dangerous to make the simplest observation, for the other three guns were trained upon the inoffensive speaker with such promptness and such an evident desire to fight that for the most part we maintained a dignified but safe silence.
Mrs. Jimmie bearded Jimmie in his den long enough to ask him to see about our opera tickets at once. Everybody said we could not get any, but trust Jimmie! The agent of whom he bought them had embroidered a generous romance of how he had got them of a lady who ordered them the January before, but whose husband having just died, her feelings would not permit her to use them, and so as a great accommodation, etc., etc.
Everybody knows these stories. Suffice it to say that Jimmie really had, at the last moment, secured admirable seats near the middle of the house, and everybody said it was a miracle. In looking back over the experiences of that one opera of "Parsifal," I cannot deny that there was something of a miracle about it. However, "Parsifal" was three days distant, and Nuremberg was at hand.
I love to think of Nuremberg. The recollection of it comes back to me again and again through a gentle haze of happy memories. The narrow streets were lined with houses which leaned toward each other after the gossipy manner of old friends whose confidence in each other is established. The windows jutted queerly, and odd balconies looped themselves on corners where no one expected them. They call these pretty old houses the best examples of domestic architecture, but warn you that the quaint peaked roofs are Gothic and the surprises are Renaissance—a mixture of which purists do not approve. But I am a pagan. I like mixtures. They give you little flutters of delight in your heart, and one of the most satisfactory of experiences is not to be able to analyse your emotions or to tell why you are pleased, but to feel at liberty to answer art questions with "Just because!"
So Nuremberg. Its fortifications are rugged and strong. Its towers imposing. It dates back to the Huns. Frederick Barbarossa frequently occupied the castle which frowns down on you from the heights. Hans Sachs, the poet, sang here. Albrecht Durer painted here. Peter Vischer perhaps dreamed out the noble original of my beautiful King Arthur here.
From the quaint and awkward statues of saints and heroes in church and state, to such delicate examples of sculpture as the figure of the Virgin in the Hirschelgasse, so delicate and graceful that it was once attributed to an Italian master, you realise how early the arts were established here and how sedulously they were pursued. Everywhere are works of art, from the cruder decorations over doorways and windows to the paintings of Durer in the Germanic Museum. It is a sad reflection to me that most of Durer's work, and all of his masterpieces, are in other cities—Munich, Berlin, and Vienna, and that, as it is in Greece, only their fame remains to glorify the city of his birth.
His statue, copied from a portrait painted by himself, stands in the Albrecht-Durer Platz, and in his little house are copies of his masterpieces and a collection of typical antique German furniture and utensils. The exquisite art of glass-staining is the suitable occupation of the custodian who shows you about the house.
Indeed, wood carving, glass staining, engraving of medals and medallions, copying ancient cabinets and quaint furniture are, if not the principal, at least the most interesting occupations pursued in Nuremberg to-day. In searching out the little shops I also found that table linen, superbly embroidered and decorated with drawn-work of intricate patterns was here in a bewildering display.
Dear Nuremberg! A stroll through your lovely streets is a feast for the eye and a whip to the imagination that no other city in the German Empire can duplicate or approach. You abound in quaint doorways, over which if I step, I find myself transplanted to the scenes of tapestries and old prints, and I can easily imagine myself framed and hanging on the wall quite comfortable and happy.
One of these tiny doorways led us, on a bright Sunday afternoon, into one of the oddest places we ever saw. It was the Bratwurst-Glocklein—such a restaurant as Doctor Johnson would have deserted the Cheshire Cheese for, and revelled in the change.
It appeared to be a thousand years old. Perhaps Melanchthon expounded the theories of the Reformation on the very benches on which we sat.
The door-sill was high, and we stepped over it on to a stone floor, the flagging of which was sunken in many places, causing pitfalls to the unwary. The room was small and only half lighted by infinitesimal windows. One end of the room was given up to what appeared to be a charcoal furnace built of bricks, over which in plain view buxom maids, whose red cheeks were purple from the heat, were frying delicious little sausages in strings. We squeezed ourselves into a narrow bench behind one of the tables whose rudeness was picturesque. I have seen schoolboy desks at Harrow and Eton worn to the smoothness of these tables here and carved as deeply with names. There was not a vestige of a cloth or napkins. The plates and knives and forks were rude enough to bear out the surroundings. In fact, the clumsiness and apparent age of everything almost transported us, in imagination, to the stone age, but the sensation was delightful.
One of the maids brought a string of sausages sizzling hot from the pan and deftly snipped off as many as were called for upon each of our plates. We drank our beer from steins so heavy that each one took both hands. A person with a mouth of the rosebud variety would have found it exceedingly difficult to obtain any of the beer, the stein presenting such unassailable fortifications.
It was too hot when we were there to appreciate to the full this delicious old spot, but on a winter evening, after the theatre, which closes about ten o'clock, think what a delightful thing it would be, O ye Bohemian Americans, with fashionable wives who insist upon the Waldorf or Sherry's after the theatre, to go instead to the Bratwurst-Glocklein! There you smoke at your ease, put your elbows on the table and dream dreams of your student days when the dinner coat vexed not your peaceful spirit.
Owing to our late arrival and the enormous crowd of people at Bayreuth, we found it expedient to remain in Nuremberg and go up to Bayreuth for the opera. The day of our performance of "Parsifal" was one of the hottest of the year. Not even Philadelphia can boast of heat more consolidated and unswerving than that of North Germany on this particular day.
We put on muslin dresses and carried fans and smelling salts, and Jimmie had to use force to make us carry wraps for the return. The journey, lovely in itself, was rendered hideous to us by the heat, but when we arrived at Bayreuth the babel of English voices was so delightfully homelike, American clothes on American women were so good to see, and Bayreuth itself was so picturesque, that we forgot the heat and drove to the opera-house full of delight.
I am sorry that it is fashionable to like Wagner, for I really should like to explain the feelings of perfect delight which tingled in my blood as I realised that I was in the home of German opera—in the city where the master musician lived and wrote, and where his widow and son still maintain their unswerving faithfulness toward his glorious music. I am a little sensitive, too, about admitting that I like Carlyle and Browning. I suppose this is because I have belonged to a Browning and Carlyle club, where I have heard some of the most idiotic women it was ever my privilege to encounter, express glib sentiments concerning these masters, which in me lay too deep for utterance. It is something like the occasional horror which overpowers me when I think that perhaps I am doomed to go to heaven. If certain people here on earth upon whom I have lavished my valuable hatred are going there, heaven is the last place I should want to inhabit. So with Wagner.