Part 2 out of 4
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
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.
"Parsifal!" That sacred opera which has never been performed outside of
this little hamlet. I was to see it at last!
I was prepared to be delighted with everything, and the childishness of
the little maid who took charge of our hats before we went in to the
opera charmed me. My hat was heavy and hot, and I particularly disliked
it, owing to the weight of the seagull which composed one entire side of
it, and always pulled it crooked on my head. The little maid took the
hat in both her arms, laid her round red cheek against the soft feathers
of the gull, kissed its glass bead eyes, and smilingly said in German:
"This is the finest hat that has been left in my charge to-day!"
Verily, the opera of "Parsifal" began auspiciously. Quite puffed up with
vainglorious pride over the little maiden's admiration of one of my
modest possessions, while Bee's and Mrs. Jimmie's ravishing masterpieces
had received not even a look, we met Jimmie bustling up with programmes
and opera-glasses, and went toward the main entrance. We showed our
tickets, and were sent to the side door. We went to the side door, and
were sent to the back door. At the back door, to our indignation, we
were sent up-stairs. In vain Jimmie expostulated, and said that these
seats were well in the middle of the house on the ground floor. The
doorkeepers were inexorable. On the second floor, they sent us to the
third, and on the third they would have sent us to the roof if there had
been any way of getting up there. As it was, they permitted us to stop
at the top gallery, and, to our unmitigated horror, the usher said that
our seats were there. Jimmie was furious, but I, not knowing how much he
had paid for them, endeavoured to soothe him by pointing out that all
true musicians sat in the gallery, because music rises and blends in the
"We are sure to get the best effect up here, Jimmie, and those front
rows, especially, if our seats happen to be in the middle, won't be at
all bad. Don't let's fuss any more about it, but come along like an
I will admit, however, that even my ardour was dampened when we
discovered that our seats were absolutely in the back and top row, so
that we leaned against the wall of the building, and were not even
furnished with chairs, but sat on a hard bench without relief of any
And the price Jimmie hurled at us that he had paid for those tickets! I
am ashamed to tell it.
Now Jimmie hates German opera in the most picturesque fashion. He hates
in every form, colour, and key, and in all my life I was never so sorry
for any one as I was for Jimmie that day at Bayreuth. The heat was
stifling, his rage choked him and effectually prevented his going to
sleep, as otherwise he might have done in peace and quiet. He sat there
in such a steam and fury that it was truly pitiable. He went out once to
get a breath of air, and they turned the lights out before he could get
back, so that he stumbled over people, and one man kicked him. With that
Jimmie stepped on the German's other foot, and they swore at each other
in two languages and got hissed by the people around them. When he
finally got back to us, we found it expedient not to make any remarks at
all, and I was glad it was too dark for him to see our faces.
Yet, in spite of Jimmie and the heat and the ache in our backs and the
hard unyielding bench, that afternoon at "Parsifal" is one of the
experiences of a lifetime.
People tell us now that we were there on an "Off day." By that they mean
that no singers with great names took part. How like Americans to think
of that! Germans go to the opera for the music. Americans go to hear and
see the operatic stars.
Happily unvexed by my ignorance, I heard a perfect "Parsifal" without
knowing that, from an American point of view, I ought not to have been
so delighted. The orchestra was conducted by Siegfried Wagner, and
Madame Wagner sat in full view from even our eyrie.
And then--the opera! Perfection in every detail! I believed then that
not even the Passion Play could hold my spirit, so in leash with its
symbolism, its deep devotion, and its enthralling charms.
The day on which I saw "Parsifal" at Bayreuth was a day to be marked
with a white stone.
THE PASSION PLAY
Jimmie came into the sitting-room this morning (for, by travelling with
the Jimmies, Bee and I can be very grand, and share the luxury of a
third room with them), but I suspected him from the moment I saw his
face. It was too innocent to be natural.
"What you got, Jimmie?" I said. Jimmie's manner of life invites
"Only the letter from the Burgomeister of Oberammergau, assigning our
lodgings," he replied, carelessly. He yawned and put the letter in his
"Oh, Jimmie!" we all cried out. "Have they--"
"Have they what?" asked Jimmie, opening his eyes.
"Don't be an idiot," I said, savagely. "You know I have hardly been able
to sleep, wondering if we'd have to go to ordinary lodgings or if they
would assign us to some of the leading actors in the play. Tell us! Let
me see the letter!"
"Now wait a minute," said Jimmie, and then I knew that he was going to
"Don't you let him fool you," said Bee, who always doubts everybody's
good intentions and discounts their bad ones, which worthy plan of life
permits her to count up at the end of the year only half as many mental
bruises as I, let me pause to remark. "You know that not one in ten
thousand has influence enough to obtain lodgings with the chief actors,
and who are _we_, I should like to know, except in our own estimation?"
"Well," said Jimmie, meekly, "in the estimation of the Burgomeister of
Oberammergau, my wife is an American princess, travelling incognito as
plain Mrs. Jimmie, to avoid being mobbed by entertainers. He promises in
solemn German, which I had Franz translate, not to betray her disguise."
"That makes a prince of _you_, Jimmie," I said, sternly. "A pretty
looking prince _you_ are."
"Not at all," said Jimmie modestly. "I felt that I could not do the
princely act very long either as to looks or fees, so I said that the
princess had made a morganatic marriage, and that I was it."
"Jimmie!" said his wife, blushing scarlet. "How _could_ you? Why, a
morganatic marriage isn't respectable. It's left-handed."
"My love! You are thinking of a broomstick marriage. Trust me. We are
still legally married, and if I should try to sneak out of my
obligations to you by this performance, I should still be liable in the
eyes of the law for your debts. Let that console you."
"But--" said Mrs. Jimmie, still blushing, "by this plan they won't let
us be together, will they?"
"They wouldn't anyway, as I discovered from their first letter. We are
all to be lodged separately, and from the tone of that first letter, in
which they addressed me as their prince, I hit on the morganatic
marriage as more economical in letting him down easy, without telling
him I had lied or having to pay for my lie," said Jimmie, with timid
appeal in his innocent blue eyes.
"But where do I come in, Jimmie?" I said, impatiently.
"You come in with Judas Iscariot. Where you belong!" said Jimmie,
Bee howled. Mrs. Jimmie looked startled.
"Nonsense!" I said, indignantly. "That is going a little too far. I
won't be put there. I believe you asked 'em on purpose, just so that you
could crow over me afterward."
"You are getting slightly mixed," said Jimmie, politely. "If you mention
crowing, 'tis Peter you ought to have been lodged with."
"What a fool you are, Jimmie!"
Jimmie gave an ecstatic bounce. Whenever he has completely exasperated
anybody he simply beams with joy.
"Where have they put me, Jimmie?" asked Bee.
"They have thoughtfully assigned you to Thomas,--last name not
mentioned,--where you can sit down and hold regular doubting conventions
with each other and both have the time of your lives."
"I don't believe you!"
"Look and see, O doubtful--doubting one, I mean!"
"My word! He is telling the truth!" cried Bee in astonishment.
"I tried to get--" began Jimmie to his wife, but she stopped him.
"Don't, dear," she said, gently. "You know I love your jokes, but don't
be sacrilegious. Leave His name out of this nonsense. I--I couldn't
quite bear that."
Jimmie got up and kissed her.
"They have lodged you with the Virgin Mary, sweetheart, and the two most
lovely Marys in the world will be in the same house together," he said.
Mrs. Jimmie blushed and smoothed Jimmie's riotous hair tenderly.
"And have they separated you and me, dear? Where have they lodged you?"
"I have secured an apartment with Mary Magdalene--in her house, I mean!"
said Jimmie, straightening up.
Bee and I shrieked. Jimmie edged toward the door.
"Jimmie!" said his wife in horror. "_Please_ don't--"
His wife rose from her chair and turned away.
"Don't what?" he repeated.
"I was only going to say," said Mrs. Jimmie, "don't make a joke of
"Well, if you don't want me to go there, I'll trade places with the
scribe and put _her_ with the lady who is generally represented
reclining on the ground in a blue dress improving her mind by reading.
Perhaps you would feel more comfortable if I lodged with Judas?"
"No, indeed! and put _her_ with Mary Magdalene?" said Mrs. Jimmie, whose
serious turn of mind was as a well-spring in a thirsty land to Jimmie.
"My dear," he said, impressively, with his hand on the door-knob. "Two
things seem to have escaped your mind. One is that this is only
play-acting, and the other is that Mary Magdalene, when history let go
of her, was a reformed character anyway."
The door slammed. We both looked expectantly at Mrs. Jimmie. Her
apologies for Jimmie's most delicious impertinences are so sincere and
her sense of humour so absolutely wanting that we love her almost as
dearly as we love Jimmie.
Mrs. Jimmie, large, placid, fair and beautiful as a Madonna, rose and
looked doubtfully at us after Jimmie had fled.
"You mustn't mind his--what he said or implied," she said, the colour
again rising in her creamy cheeks. "Jimmie never realises how things
will sound, or I think he wouldn't--or I don't know--" She hesitated
between her desire to clear Jimmie and her absolute truthfulness. She
changed the conversation by coming over to me and laying her hand
tenderly on my hair.
"You are _sure_, dear, that you don't mind lodging with Judas Iscariot?"
Bee stuffed her handkerchief into her mouth and politely turned her
back. I bit my lip. It hurts her feelings to be laughed at.
"Not a bit, Mrs. Jimmie. I shall love it."
"Because I was going to say that if you did, I would gladly exchange
with you, and you could lodge with Mary."
"Mrs. Jimmie," I said, "you are an angel. That's what you are."
"And now," said Bee, cheerfully, who hates sentiment, "let's pack, for
we leave at noon."
I don't apologise for Jimmie's ribald conversation, because many people,
until they have seen the Passion Play, make frivolous remarks, which
would be impossible after viewing it, except to the totally insensible
Jimmie is irreligious, but not insensible. He really had gone to no end
of trouble to obtain these lodgings for us, and he had insisted so
tenaciously that we must be lodged with the principals that we were
obliged to wait for an extra performance, and live in Munich meanwhile.
We all four made the journey from Munich to Oberammergau, which lies in
so picturesque a spot in the Bavarian Alps, from very different motives.
Mrs. Jimmie, who is an ardent churchwoman, went in a spirit of deep
devotion. Bee went because one agent told her that over twelve thousand
Americans had been booked through their company alone. Bee goes to
everything that everybody else goes to. Jimmie went in exactly the same
spirit of boyish, alert curiosity with which, when he is in New York,
he goes to each new attraction at Weber and Field's.
As we got off the train the little town looked like an exposition,
except that there were no exhibits. English, German, and French spoken
constantly, and not infrequently Russian, Spanish, and Italian assailed
our ears the whole time we were there. Only one thing was
characteristic. The native peasants looked different. The picturesque
costume of the Tyrolese men, consisting of velveteen knee breeches, gay
coloured stockings, embroidered white blouse, and short bolero jacket
with gold braid or fringe, and the Alpine hat, with a pheasant or eagle
feather in it, sat jauntily upon most of the young men, whose bold
glances and sinewy movements suggested their alert, out-of-door life in
their mountain homes. But the Oberammergau peasants walked with a slower
step. Their eyes were meek instead of roving, their smiles tender
instead of saucy, and they say it is all the influence of the Passion
Play, which for over three hundred years has dominated their lives. No
one who commits a crime, or who lives an impure life, can act in the
great drama, nor can any except natives take part. And as the ambition
of every man, woman, and child in Oberammergau is to form part of this
glorious company, the reason for the purity of their aspect is at once
to be seen. No murder, robbery, or crime of any description has been
committed in Oberammergau for three hundred years.
The peasants of this little mountain village live their whole lives
under the shadow of the cross.
Nor was it long before our little party came under this strange
influence. My own sense of the eternal fitness of things is so highly
developed that I was under the tense strain of nervous excitement which
always wrecks me after reading a strong novel or witnessing a tragic
play. I was afraid to see the Passion Play for two reasons. One that I
could not bear to see the Saviour of mankind personified, and the other
that I was afraid that the audience would misbehave. If I am going to
have my emotions wrenched, I never want any one near me. To my mind the
mad King Ludwig of Bavaria obtained the highest enjoyment possible from
having performances of magnificent merit with himself as the sole
auditor. This world is so mixed anyway, and audiences at any
entertainment so hopelessly beyond my control. Nothing, for example,
makes me feel so murderous as for an audience to go mad and stamp and
kick and howl over a cornet solo with variations, no matter how ribald,
and beg for more of it. And they always _do_!
The Passion Play, up to a comparatively few years ago, had comic
characters and scenes, as for instance, there was once a scene in hell
where the Devil, as chief comedian, ripped open the bowels of Judas and
took therefrom a string of sausages. This vulgar and hideous buffoonery
was in the habit of being received with delight by the peasants from
neighbouring hamlets, which, up to fifty years ago, formed the principal
part of the Passion Play audiences.
And as tradition, the handing down of legends from father to son, forms
such a part of the mountaineer's education, I was not surprised to hear
a party of Tyrolese giggle at moments when the deeper meaning of the
play was holding the rest of us in a spell so tense that it hurt.
I remember in Modjeska's rendition of Frou-frou, when Frou-frou's lover
is breaking her heart, and the strain becomes almost unbearable,
Modjeska's nervous hands tear her valuable lace handkerchief into bits.
It is a piece of inspired acting to make the discriminating weep, but my
friend the audience always giggled irresistibly, as if the sound of
rending lace, when a woman's agony was the most intense, were a bit of
I am constrained to believe, however, that in almost entirely
remodelling the Passion Play, the village priest, Daisenberger, was not
moved by any consideration of what an ignorant audience might do, but
rather by the noble, Oberammergau spirit of a life of devotion,
dedicated to the rewriting, rehearsing, and directing of the
The history of this man illustrates what I mean by the Oberammergau
spirit. In 1830 he was a young peasant who saw the possibilities of the
Passion Play. He went to the head of the Monastery at Ettal, and vowed
to consecrate his whole life to this work, if they would make him a
priest and permit him to become the spiritual director of the people of
the village. But he was obliged to study seven years before they gave
him the position. He was seventy years old when he died, having so nobly
fulfilled his vow that he is called "The Shakespeare of the Passion
Play." For forty-five years he superintended every performance and every
public rehearsal, and as these rehearsals take place in some form or
other almost every night during the ten years which intervene between
one performance and another, something of the depth of his devotion to
his beloved task may be gathered.
Jimmie marvelled that he could leave his money and his valuables around,
and his room door unlocked, until they told him that the street door was
never locked either. At this information Jimmie grew suspicious, and
locked his bedroom door, much to the affliction of the gentle family of
Bertha Wolf, who plays Mary Magdalene. He explained to them that there
were plenty of Italian, French, and English robbers, even if there were
no Tyrolese. "And are there no American robbers?" they asked, simply, to
which Jimmie replied with equal guilelessness that Americans in Europe
had no time to rob other people, they were so busy in being robbed.
"People think we are so very rich, you see," he explained, when they
gazed at him uncomprehendingly. Then he gave the little brown-eyed boy
who clings to his mother's skirt in one of the tableaux five pfennigs to
see him clap his hands twice and bob his yellow head, which is the way
Tyrolese children express their thanks.
This living in the families of the actors was most interesting, except
for the autograph fiends, who simply mobbed the Christus, Anton Lang,
and Josef Maier, the Christus of the last three performances, who now
takes the part of the speaker of the prologue. Those dear people were so
obliging that no one was ever refused, consequently thousands of
tourists must possess autographs of most of the principals. Not one of
our party asked an autograph of anybody. I hope they are grateful to us.
I should think they would remember us for that alone.
Mrs. Jimmie was not at all disturbed by the somewhat wooden and
inadequate acting of Anna Flunger, who plays Mary, and loved, I believe
almost worshipped, that young peasant girl, who walked bareheaded and
with downcast eyes through the streets, or who waited upon the guests in
her father's house with such sweet simplicity. To Mrs. Jimmie, Anna
Flunger was the real Virgin Mary, so real, indeed, that I believe that
Mrs. Jimmie could almost have prayed to her.
Even Bee was intensely touched by an act of Peter,--for her lodging was
changed to the house of Thomas and Peter Rendl after we arrived. The
father, Thomas Rendl, plays St. Peter, while his son is again John, the
beloved disciple. He played John in 1890, at the age of seventeen, but
they say that there is not a line in his beautiful, spiritual face to
show the flight of time. His large liquid eyes follow the every movement
of the Master's on the stage, and their expression is so hauntingly
beautiful that even Bee admitted its influence. Bee said that one
evening, as they were sitting around the table, resting for a moment
after supper was finished, the village church bell began to ring for the
Angelus. In an instant the two men and the two women politely made
their excuses and rising, stood in the middle of the room facing
eastward, crossing their hands upon their breasts in silent prayer. Bee
said it was most beautiful to see how simply they performed this little
act of devotion.
I wouldn't let Jimmie know of it for the world, but it has been quite a
trial to me to live in the house with Judas. He plays with such
tremendous power--he makes it seem so real, so close, so near. Once I
asked him if he liked the part, and he broke down and wept. He said he
hated it--that he loathed himself for playing it, and that his one
ambition was to be allowed to play the Christus for just one time before
he died, in order to wipe out the disgrace of his part as Judas and to
cleanse his soul. I cried too, for I knew that his ambition could never
be realised. I told him that perhaps they would allow him to act the
part at a rehearsal, if he told them of his ambition, and the thought
seemed to cheer him. He said he knew the part perfectly, and had often
rehearsed it in private to comfort his own soul.
Such was his sincerity and grief, such his contrition and remorse after
a performance, that it would not surprise me some day to know that the
part had overpowered him, and that he had actually hanged himself.
As to the play itself--I wish I need say nothing about it. My mind, my
heart, my soul, have all been wrenched and twisted with such emotion as
is not pleasant to feel nor expedient to speak about. It was too real,
too heart-rending, too awful. I hate, I abhor myself for feeling things
so acutely. I wish I were a skeptic, a scoffer, an atheist. I wish I
could put my mind on the mechanism of the play. I wish I could believe
that it all took place two thousand years ago. I wish I didn't know that
this suffering on the stage was all actual. I wish I thought these
people were really Tyrolese peasants, wood-carvers and potters, and that
all this agony was only a play. I hate the women who are weeping all
around me. I hate the men who let the tears run down their cheeks, and
whose shoulders heave with their sobs. It is so awful to see a man cry.
But no, it is all true. It is taking place now. I am one of the women
at the foot of the cross. The anguish, the cries, the sobs are all
actual. They pierce my heart. The cross with its piteous burden is
outlined against the real sky. The green hill beyond is Calvary. Doves
flutter in and out, and butterflies dart across the shafts of sunlight.
The expression of Christ's face is one of anguish, forgiveness, and pity
unspeakable. Then his head drops forward on his breast. It grows dark.
The weeping becomes lamentation, and as they approach to thrust the
spear into His side, from which I have been told the blood and water
really may be seen to pour forth, I turn faint and sick and close my
eyes. It has gone too far. I no longer am myself, but a disorganised
heap of racked nerves and hysterical weeping, and not even the descent
from the cross, the rising from the dead, nor the triumphant ascension
can console me nor restore my balance.
The Passion Play but once in a lifetime!
MUNICH TO THE ACHENSEE
If there were a country where the crowned heads of Europe in ball
costume sat in a magnificent hall, drinking nothing less than champagne,
while the court band discoursed bewitching music, and the electric
lights flashed on myriads of jewels, Bee and Mrs. Jimmie would declare
that sort of Bohemia to be quite in their line. And because that kind of
refined stupidity would bore Jimmie and me to the verge of extinction,
and because we really prefer an open-air concert-garden with beer, where
the people are likely to be any sort of cattle whom nobody would want to
know, yet who are interesting to speculate about, I really believe that
Bee and Mrs. Jimmie think we are a little low.
However, their impossible tastes being happily for us unattainable,
three hours after our arrival in Munich found Jimmie proudly marching
three sailor-hat and shirt-waist women into the Lowenbraukeller.
It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when we arrived, and we took
our seats at a little table in the terraced garden. A rosy-cheeked maid,
who evidently had violent objections to soap, brought us our beer, and
then we looked around. There was music, not very good, only a few people
smoking china pipes and not even drinking beer, a few idly reading the
paper, and a general air over everybody of Mr. Micawber waiting for
something to turn up.
Jimmie glanced around anxiously. The length of our stay depended upon
our ability to please Mrs. Jimmie and Bee, who were easily fatigued by
the populistic element of society.
"Nothin' doin'," growled Jimmie in my ear. "Wake 'em up, can't you?
Create a riot. Let's smash our beer-mugs, and shout 'Down with the
"You'd find you would stay longer than you wanted to if you did that," I
said. "What do you suppose they are all _waiting_ for?"
Jimmie called the redolent maiden, and in German which made her quiver
put the question.
"At five o'clock they will open a fresh hogshead of beer--the
Lowenbrau," she answered him.
"_Fresh_ beer?" cried Jimmie. "How long has this been opened?"
"Great Scott!" whispered Jimmie. "Think of me brought up on a bottle,
coming to a land where men will sit for an hour to get beer the first
five minutes it is opened."
"See, they are opening it now," said the maid.
Sure enough, every man in the garden slowly rose and ambled leisurely to
a horse-trough in the centre of the garden in which lay perhaps a score
of mugs in running water. Each took a stein or two or three, depending
on his party, and formed in line in front of the counter across which
the beer was passed.
"Come, Jimmie," I said. "I'm going to get my own stein."
"Why do they do that?" asked Mrs. Jimmie, after we had got in line.
"It saves the half-cent charged for service," answered the maid.
"Now isn't she funny!" complained Bee of me as I returned beaming with
content. "She _likes_ to go and do a queer thing like that instead of
sitting still to be waited on, like a lady."
"Been waited on a million times like a lady," I ventured to respond. "It
isn't every day one _can_ get a cool mug and see the beer drawn fresh
and foaming like that. I felt like a Holbein painting."
Bee, as at Baden-Baden, plaintively gave the attendant a double fee to
show that meanness had not caused my apparently thrifty act. Then for
the first time in our lives we found what fresh beer really meant.
Even Bee and Mrs. Jimmie admitted that it was worth while coming, and
let me record in advance that when we got to Vienna, and they served us
an equally delicious beer in long thin glasses as delicate as an
eggshell, Bee grew so enthusiastic in the process of beer drinking that
Jimmie grew absurdly proud of his pupil, and professed to think that she
was "coming round after all." But Bee declared that it was the thinness
of the glasses which attracted her, and insisted that beer out of a
German stein was like trying to drink over a stone wall.
We went many times after that, generally in the evening, when the
concert was held in a hall which must have contained two thousand
people, even when all seated at little tables, and where the band would
have deafened you if the hall had not been so large. Here Jimmie and the
waitress prevailed upon us to taste the most inhuman dishes with names a
yard long, which the maid declared we would find to be "wunderschoen."
We began in a spirit of adventure, but Jimmie's taste in food is so
depraved that if he followed the precedent all through his life,
Lombroso would class him as a degenerate. As it was, he soon had us
distanced. But we let him eat pickles and cherries and herring and cream
and tripe and garlic and pig's feet all stewed up together, while we
listened to the music, and planned what we would bury him in.
The pictures in Munich we loved. I must say that I enjoy the atmosphere
of the Munich school better than any other. There is a healthiness about
German realism that one is not afraid nor ashamed to admire. French
realism is like a suggestive story, expunged of all but the surface fun
for girls' hearing. You are afraid of the laugh it raises for fear there
is something beneath it all that you don't understand. But the modern
Munich galleries were not the task that picture galleries often are.
They were a sincere delight, and let me pause to say that Munich art was
one thing that we four were unanimous in praising and enjoying as a
happy and united family.
It was here that Jimmie proceeded to go mad over Verboeckhoven's sheep
pictures, and Mrs. Jimmie and Bee over the crown jewels in the Treasury
of the Alte Residenz. To be sure they _are_ fine. For example, there is
the famous "Pearl of the Palatinate," which is half black, and a
glorious blue diamond about twice as fine as the one owned by Lord
Francis Hope, which his family went to law to prevent his selling not
long ago, and a superb group of St. George and the dragon, the knight
being in chased gold, the dragon made entirely of jasper, and the whole
thing studded thickly with precious stones of every description. But,
except that these things are historic and kept in royal vaults, they are
no more wonderful than jewellers' exhibits at the expositions.
But if you want to be thoroughly mixed up on the Nibelungenlied, after
you think you have got those depraved old parties with their iniquitous
marriages and loose morals pretty well adjusted by a faithful attendance
at Walter Damrosch's lectures and Wagner operas, just go through the
Koenigsbau, and let one of those automatic conductors in uniform take you
through the Schnorr Nibelungen Frescoes, and from personal experience I
will guarantee that, when you have completed the rounds, you won't even
know who Siegfried is.
There is one thing particularly worth mentioning about Munich, and that
is that also in Alte Residenz, in the Festsaalbau, which faces on the
Hofgarten, and is 256 yards, not feet, long, are two small card rooms,
with what they call a "gallery of beauties."
Now everybody knows how disappointing professional beauties are. Think
over the names of actresses heralded as "beauties;" of belles, who have
been said to turn men's heads by the score; of Venuses, and Psyches, and
Madonnas of the galleries of Europe, and tell me your honest opinion.
Aren't most of them really--well, _trying,_ to say the least?
Titian's beauties all need an obesity remedy, and Jimmie criticises most
"beauties" so severely that we have got to searching them out, when we
are tired and cross, just to vent our spleen upon.
Jimmie's favourite story is the old, old one of the old woman who saw a
hippopotamus for the first time. She looked at him a moment in silence
and then said: "My! ain't he plain!"
It is pre-historic, that story, but it has saved our lives many a time
in Europe. It fits so many cases, and I mention it here just to prove my
point. Go, then, to the "Gallery of Beauties" in the Palace, and you
will find thirty-six portraits by Steiler, of thirty-six of the most
exquisite women conceivable to the mind of man. Some of these are
women, like the Empress of Austria, who were justly famed for a beauty
which is not often the gift of royalty. Others are women of whom you
have never heard, but so lovely that it would be impossible not to
remember their loveliness for ever and a day.
We all enthusiastically bought photographs of the painting of the
Empress Elizabeth at the age of eighteen, which to my mind is one of the
most exquisite faces ever put upon canvas, and then, highly elated with
our presentation of Munich to Mrs. Jimmie and Bee, we gaily wended our
way southward, following the river Isar for a time, until we reached
Innsbruck, on our way to the Achensee.
At Innsbruck we halted for a sentimental reason which I am not ashamed
to divulge, as the ridicule of the public would be sweet approval
compared to the way Jimmie wore himself to a shadow in the violence of
his jeers. But the fact is that the King Arthur of Tennyson has always
been one of my heroes, and in the Franciscan Church or the Hofkirche in
Innsbruck, there were twenty-eight heroic bronze statues, the finest of
these being of Arthur, Koenig von England, by the famous Peter Vischer
So in Innsbruck we paused for a few days, finding it delightful beyond
our ideas of it, and exquisitely picturesque, situated on both banks of
a dear little foaming, yellow river, with foot-bridges upon which you
may stand and watch it rage and churn, and around it on all sides rising
the mountains of the Bavarian Alps, which are not so near as to crowd
you. Mountains smother me as a rule.
Jimmie obligingly took us at once to the Hofkirche, to get to which we
passed under the Triumphal Gate, erected by the citizens on the occasion
of the entry of the Emperor Francis I. and the Empress Maria Theresa, to
commemorate the marriage of Prince Leopold, who afterward became the
Emperor Leopold II., with the Infanta Maria Ludovica. This magnificent
arch is of granite and will last thousands of years. It reminded me of
the Dewey Arch in New York--it was so different.
The Emperor Maximilian I. directed in his will that the Hofkirche should
be built, and in the centre of the nave he is represented kneeling by a
sumptuous bronze statue, surrounded by the statues I had come to see.
Jimmie declared that the marble sarcophagus upon which the statue of
Maximilian is placed was "worth the price of admission," but Jimmie's
opinion is of no value except when he is accidentally right, as in this
instance. He studied this and the monument of Andreas Hofer, whose
remains are buried here, under a magnificent sarcophagus of Tyrolese
marble, leaving us to our bronze statues.
I found my King Arthur perfectly satisfactory, much to my surprise, for
I am always prepared to be disappointed. Some of the statues are
ridiculous in the extreme, but these monstrosities served the better to
emphasise the dignity of King Arthur's pose and the nobility of his
Just after you leave the Hofkirche, you find yourself just opposite to
the "Golden Dachl," which the natives tell you is a roof built of pure
gold, but which the skeptical declare to be copper gilded. This roof
covers a handsome Gothic balcony and blazes as splendidly as if it were
gold, as Bee and Mrs. Jimmie preferred to believe. It is said to have
cost seventy thousand dollars, and was built by Count Frederick of
Tyrol, who was called "The Count of the Empty Pockets," to refute his
While we were taking infinite satisfaction in this little history, we
lost Jimmie. He emerged presently from a handsome shop near by followed
by a man bearing a large box.
"What have you been buying, Jimmie?" we demanded, suspiciously.
"Only a replica of Maximilian's statue," he answered, blandly.
"You mean a 'copy,' my darling," I corrected him, sweetly.
Now Jimmie loves a fight and so do I, so we immediately offered battle
to each other, Jimmie insisting on his replica, and I declaring that a
replica meant that the same artist must have made both the original and
the second article, which when made by another craftsman became a
Jimmie got red in the face and abusive, while I remained cool and
exasperating. I was getting even with Jimmie for everything since Paris.
But conceive, if you can, my utter humiliation when, upon arriving at
the hotel, I discovered that the box contained, not Maximilian, but my
dear King Arthur, and that Jimmie had bought it for _me!_
I really cried.
"Jimmie," I said in a meek and lowly voice, "you are an angel--a bright,
beautiful, golden angel, and from now on, I'll call this a
replica,--when I'm talking to a wayfaring man. And I'll never, never
fight with you again!"
"Then gimme back that bronze man!" declared Jimmie. "If you give up the
battlefield I'll start home to-morrow!" Which shows you where I got
encouragement to be "ungentlemanly," as Jimmie calls me.
Innsbruck is the capital of Tyrol, and the whole country of Tyrol is
like a picture-book. Its history is so stirring, its country so
beautiful, its people are so picturesque. There are any number of dainty
little lakes lying in among its mountains, which are accessible to the
tourist, and therefore semi-public, by which I mean not as public as the
Swiss or Italian lakes. But up the Inn River a few miles, and completely
hidden from the tourist, being out of the way and little known to
Americans, there lies the most lovely lake of all, the Achensee, and all
around it the Tyrolese peasants, as they ought to be allowed to remain,
simple, primitive, natural. We wanted to see them dance. So regardless
of whether an iron bound itinerary would take us there next, we folded
away our maps, put our trust in our little yellow coupon ticket book,
and started for the Achensee. From the moment we began to see less of
tourists and more of the natives, Jimmie's and my spirits rose. Chiffon
and patent leather might belong to Bee and Mrs. Jimmie, but here in the
Austrian Tyrol, Jimmie and I were getting our innings.
We got off the train at Jenbach and left our trunks there. Then on the
same platform, but behind it, and a few yards beyond the station, there
is a curious little hunchbacked engine and an open car. Into this car we
climbed with our handbags, and beheld on the same seat with Mrs. Jimmie
a beautiful woman in a gown unmistakably from Paris, who looked so
familiar that we could scarcely keep from staring her out of
countenance. Finally Bee leaned across and whispered:
"Don't look, but isn't that Madame Carreno?"
Without heeding Bee's polite warning, I turned and pounced upon my idol.
"My _dear_ child!"
"What in the world are you doing here?"
"Why I _live_ here! And you? How came _you_ to find your way to this
"We are going to the Achensee--to the Hotel Rhiner, to hear Fraeulein
"You have heard of my little friend Therese, and you have come--how many
thousand miles?--to hear her sing and play on her zither?"
"To do all that, but mostly to see if she will tell me her love story."
"How do you know she had one?" inquired Madame Carreno, quickly.
"I heard of it in England. Some one who knew the duke told me."
"It was a lucky escape for her, and I think she will tell you all about
it. You see it happened, ah, so many years ago."
To my mind, Madame Carreno is the most wonderful genius of modern times
at the piano. I have heard all the others scores of times, so don't
argue with me. You may all worship whom you will, but the whole musical
part of my heart is at Madame Carreno's feet, with a small corner saved
for Vladimir de Pachmann, when he plays Chopin. She claims to be an
American, but she plays with a heart of a Slav, and as one whose untamed
spirit can never be held in leash even by her music. Her playing is so
intoxicating that it goes through my veins like wine. The last time I
heard her play was in an enormous hall in the West, when her audience
was composed of music lovers of every class and description. Just back
of me was a woman whose whole soul seemed to respond to Carreno's
hypnotic genius. Carreno had just finished Liszt's "Rhapsodic Hongroise"
No. 2, and had followed it up with a mad Tschaikowsky fragment. I was so
excited I was on the verge of tears when I heard the woman behind me
catch her breath with a sob and exclaim:
"My Lord! Ain't she got _vinegar_!"
I repeated this to Madame Carreno at Jenbach, and she seized my hands
and shouted with laughter. Such a grip as she has! Her hands are filled
with steel wires instead of muscles, and her arms have the strength of
an athlete in training.
The car propelled by the hunchbacked engine grated and bumped its way
over its cog-wheel road, pushing its delighted quota of passengers
higher and higher into the mountains. The Inn valley fell away from our
view, and wooded slopes, fir-trees, patches of snow on far hillsides,
and tiny hamlets took its place.
"Here and there among these little villages live my summer pupils," said
Madame Carreno. "I have six. One from San Francisco, one from Australia,
one from Paris, one from Geneva, and two from Russia--all young girls,
and with _such_ talent! They live all the way from Jenbach to the
Achensee, and come to see me once a week."
The train stopped with a final squeal of the chain, and a lurch which
loosened our joints.
Before us spread a sheet of water of such a blueness, such a limpid,
clear, deep sapphire blue as I never saw in water before.
Around it rose the hills of Tyrol, guarding it like sentinels.
It was the Achensee!
DANCING IN THE AUSTRIAN TYROL
Jimmie is such a curious mixture that it is really very much worth while
to study his emotions. I think perhaps that even I, who find it so hard
to discover either man, woman, child, or dog whom I would designate as
"typically American," am forced to admit that Jimmie's mental make-up is
perfect as a certain type of the American business man, travelling
extensively in Europe. The real bread of life to Jimmie is the New York
Stock Exchange; but being on the verge of a nervous breakdown, he
brought his fine steel-wire will to bear upon his recreation with as
much nervous force as he ever expended in a deal in Third Avenue or
Hence he travels nervously yet deliberately, and views Europe from the
point of view of the American stock market, scoffing at my enthusiasm,
ironical of Bee's most cherished preferences, patient with his wife's
serious love of society, and chivalrously tolerant, as only the American
man can be, of the prejudices of his travelling family.
I notice that he is taking on a certain amount of true culture. He is
broadening. Jimmie is beginning to let his emotions out; however, very
gradually, with a firm, nervous hand on the throttle-valve, with the
sensitive American's fear of ridicule as his steam-gauge.
I watched Jimmie as he first saw the Achensee. The colour came into his
face, his eyes brightened, and he clenched his hands--a sure sign of
feeling in Jimmie.
There was a little white steamboat at the pier. The lake spread out
before us was of the colour which you see when you look down into the
depths of some fine unmounted sapphire at Tiffany's. The pebbles on the
beach under the water looked as if they were in a basin of blueing. I
reached in to take one out, and thoroughly expected to find my hand
stained when I withdrew it. Around the lake arose little hills of the
same beauty and verdure as our Berkshires, with the exception that these
hills possessed a certain purplish, bluish haze with a gray mist over
them, which gave to their colouring the same softness that a woman
imparts to her complexion when she wears white chiffon under a black
I cannot understand what makes the Achensee so blue and the Koenigsee so
green. Chemically analysed, the waters are almost identical, and the
verdure surrounding them is very similar, and yet the Koenigsee is as
green as the Achensee is blue.
A little steamer took us around the edge of the lake, where at the first
landing-place Madame Carreno left us. We could only see the roof of her
cottage in the grove of trees.
There is a new hotel somewhere along the lake; but we left that, with
its modern equipments and electric lights, and went where we had been
directed--to the Hotel Rhiner. Fraeulein Therese met us at the landing.
Alas! she was no longer the beauty of her love story of thirty years
before. She was ample. Her short hair curled like a boy's, as without a
hat she stood under a green umbrella, to welcome her guests. She had
large feet, large hips, a large waist, and large lungs; but as she took
our hands in the friendliest of greetings, and beamed on us from her
full-moon face, we felt how delightful it was to get home once more.
The Hotel Rhiner is severely plain,--almost unfurnished,--and its
appointments are primitive in the extreme. There was no carpet upon the
floor of our rooms. Two little single beds stood side by side. A single
candle was supposed to furnish light, and the wash-bowl was about the
size of your hand. Yet everything was exquisitely clean, and from the
windows of our corner room stretched away the blue Achensee and the
mountains of the Tyrol, making a view which made you forget that the
sheets were damp, and that the chairs were uncushioned.
Physically, I am sure that I was never more uncomfortable than I was at
the Hotel Rhiner. The bed squeaked; the mattress, I think, was filled
with corn-shucks, the hard part of which had an ungentle way of
assailing you when you least expected it. Yet, if now were given to me
the choice of going back to the Elysee Palace in Paris, or the Hotel
Rhiner on the Achensee, it would not take me two seconds to start for
A rosy-cheeked, amply proportioned maid, named Rosa, dressed in the
picturesque costume of the Tyrolese peasants, installed us in our rooms
and advised us to row upon the lake and see the sunset before supper.
Tourists from the other hotels were being landed at our pier from tiny
boats, to have their supper at the Hotel Rhiner, for the cooking is
famous. Jimmie came and pounded on our door, executing a small war-dance
in the corridor when we appeared,
"We've struck our gait," he said, ecstatically, to me. "Virtue is its
own reward. This pays us for Baden-Baden and Paris. What do you think?
The Rhiner family themselves do the cooking. There are the old mother,
Fraeulein Therese, three sons, two daughters-in-law, and five
grandchildren who run this house. I have ordered the corner table on
the veranda for supper--and such a table! And afterward there is going
to be a dance in the kitchen. Fraeulein Therese has promised to play for
us on her zither, and there is going to be singing. Now, come along and
let's do the sunset stunt."
Bee and Mrs. Jimmie followed us with gentle apprehension, for they are
always a little suspicious of anything that Jimmie and I particularly
like. Under a long, sloping roof we found several dozen little
row-boats, with the "shipmaster," a peasant whose costume might have
come out of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera. He launched us, however, and
the boat shot out into the lake, with Jimmie and me at the oars, and
then we saw a sight that none of us had ever seen before. The air was
wonderfully calm and still. The only ripple on the lake was that which
was left by our boat as we rowed out to where there was a break in the
hills. On the east and west, there the tallest hills fall away from the
Achensee and make an undulating line on the horizon. As we reached this
break, we stopped rowing, transfixed by the glory of the scene.
The sun was just setting, a great molten mass of flame, splashing down
in the crimson clouds, which showed in the aperture between the hills.
Little thin wraiths of mist or haze curled up from this molten mass into
the rosy sky above, as if the gods on Olympus were mulling claret for a
marriage feast. The purple hills curved down on each side in the exact
shape of an amethyst punch-bowl, and the radiance of colouring fairly
blinded us. On the other hand, the full moon was rising above the
eastern hills in a haze of silver, but with a calmness and serene
majesty which formed a direct antithesis to the sinking sun she faced.
Lower and lower sank the king, going down out of sight finally in a
blaze of splendour which left the western sky aflame with light. In the
east higher and higher rose the queen, rising from her silver mists into
the clear pale blue of the sky, and sending her white lances gliding
across the blue waters of the Achensee, till their tips touched our
We watched it, hushed, breathless, awed. I looked at Jimmie.
"What is it like?" murmured Bee.
And to my surprise, Jimmie answered her from out of the spell this magic
scene had caused, saying:
"It is like a glimpse of the splendours of the New Jerusalem."
We had supper that night in the open air of the veranda, where Jimmie
had engaged the table. Hedwig, a waitress, whispered into my ear
confidentially that we would find the fish delicious, as they were some
of those the priests had not needed.
The Tyrol, especially in the vicinity of the Achensee, is absolutely
priest-ridden, every one, from the peasants to the gentry, contributing,
and the best in the land going into their larders and their coffers.
We were indebted to the overfeeding of these fat priests for a delicacy
which was then unknown to me--broiled goose liver with onions. It is a
German dish, but a rarity not to be had in even all first-class hotels
in Germany and Austria. When you have it, it is announced to the guests
personally, with something the same air as if the proprietor should say:
"Madame, the Emperor and his suite will dine at this hotel to-night, at
Goose liver may not sound tempting to some, but as I saw it that night,
cooked by the old mother of Fraeulein Therese, a luscious white meat
delicately browned and smothered in onions as we smother a steak, and so
delicate that it melted in the mouth like an aspic jelly, it was one of
the most delicious dishes I ever essayed.
As we were eating our dessert, a _gemischtes compote_ so rich that it
nearly sent us to our eternal rest, Fraeulein Therese came and asked us
to have our coffee in the kitchen. A long, low-ceiled room, three steps
below the level of the ground, with seats against the wall, and a raised
platform on each side, with little tables for coffee, adjoined the
hotel. This room at one time perhaps had been a real kitchen, where
cooking was done. Now it was turned into a place of recreation. Around
the walls were seated a variegated, almost motley, array of men and
women, from the dear old fat mother of Fraeulein Therese and the three
boys, the daughters-in-law, the granddaughters, to a picturesque old
man, whose coal-black beard fell almost to his waist, our friend the
"shipmaster," and the band of four musicians, all dressed in the
Tyrolese costume, with the exception of the women of the Rhiner family.
Some thirty years ago the father Rhiner, now dead and gone, the mother,
whose voice is still a wonder, Fraeulein Therese, and the three boys
journeyed to London to sing before the Queen at her jubilee. This made
them famous, and was the beginning of the Fraeulein's love story, which
was told me in London by Lady J., a relative of the duke who so nearly
wrecked the Fraeulein's life.
By telling the Fraeulein that I knew Lady J., I induced her to repeat the
story to me.
"It was in St. Petersburg that I saw him for the second time. He was
then the Marquis of B., in the suite of the Prince of Wales, when he
went to pay a visit to the Tzar's court. The marquis loved me, as I
thought sincerely. I was very young, and I believed him. After he went
back to London, he arranged for me to sing in grand opera; they tell me
that it was a lie; that I could not have sung in opera; that he only
wanted to get me away from my family. They tell me that it was a wise
thing, directed by God, that I should drop the letter in which he gave
me directions how to meet him, that my sister-in-law should find it, and
that my brother should overtake me at the train, and prevent my going. I
do not know. I only know that I have always loved him. Even after he
became the Duke of M., and married one of your countrywomen, I still
loved him. Now he is dead, and I love him still. See, I wear this black
ribbon always in his memory. Yet they tell me that he lied to me, and
that it was for the best. Well, we are all in God's hands." And she
She drew her zither toward her, and began to play as I never heard that
simple little instrument played before. Then one by one they began to
sing. It was amazing how little of the freshness of their voices has
been lost during all this time. I never heard such singing. A bass voice
which would have graced the Tzar's choir, came booming from the old man
with the black beard, as they yodeled and sang and sang and yodeled
again, until their little audience went quite wild with delight.
Bee and Mrs. Jimmie were beginning to forgive us. Jimmie dashed over to
Fraeulein Therese, at Bee's request, to ask who the old man was.
"It's the cowherd," he announced, with his evil-minded simplicity, and
seemed to obtain a huge interior enjoyment from the way Bee pushed her
chair back out of range, and looked disgusted.
Presently came Rosa, the chambermaid, and Hedwig, the waitress, and a
dozen young men from the neighbouring hamlet, and began to dance the
"schuplattle." I have seen this wonderful dance performed on the stage
and in other Tyrolese villages, but never have I seen it danced with the
abandonment of those young peasants in that little kitchen on the
Achensee. They were all beautiful dancers. The young "shipmaster" seized
our pretty Rosa around the waist, and they began to waltz. Suddenly,
without a moment's warning, they fell apart, with a yell from the boy
which curdled the blood in our veins. Rosa continued waltzing alone,
with her hands on her hips, while her partner did a series of
cart-wheels around the room, bringing up just in front of her, and
waltzing with her again without either of them losing a step. Then he
lifted her hands by the finger tips high above her head, and they
writhed their bodies in and out under this arch, he occasionally
stooping to snatch a kiss, and all the time their feet waltzing in
perfect time to the music. Suddenly, with another yell, he leaped into
the air, and, with Rosa waltzing demurely in front of him, began the
fantastic part of the schuplattle, which consists, as Jimmie says, "of
making tambourines all over yourself, spanking yourself on the arms,
thighs, legs, and soles of your feet, and the crown of your head, and
winding up by boxing your partner's ears or kissing her, just as you
I never saw anything like it. I never heard anything like it. It was so
exhilarating it aroused even the cowherd's enthusiasm, so that he came
and did a turn with Fraeulein Therese.
Then more of the peasants joined in the schuplattle, and in a moment the
kitchen was a mass of flying feet, waving arms, leaping, shouting men
and laughing girls, the dance growing wilder and wilder, until, with a
final yell that split the ears of the groundlings, the music stopped,
and the dancers sank breathless into their seats. The excitement was
contagious. One after another got up and danced singly, each attempting
to outdo the other.
The other guests, who had seen this before, by this time had finished
their coffee and left. Our little party remained. The Fraeulein Therese
came over to our table, saying that the "shipmaster" would like very
much to dance with me. I don't blush often, but I actually felt my whole
face blaze at the proposition. I protested that I couldn't, and
wouldn't; that I should die of fright if he yelled in my ear, and that
he would split my sleeves out if he tried "London bridge" with me. She
urged, and Jimmie urged, and Bee and Mrs. Jimmie joined. So finally I
did, the Fraeulein having warned him that I would simply consent to
waltz, with nothing else. They never reverse, the music was fast and
furious, and the room was as hot as a desert at midday. After I had gone
around that room twice with the "shipmaster," he whirled me to my seat,
and for fully five minutes the room, the musicians, and the tables
continued the waltz that I had left off. It makes me dizzy to think of
it even now.
When I got my sight back, I looked apprehensively at Bee, to see if I
had gone beyond the limit which her own perfectly ladylike manner always
sets for me; but to my surprise her foot was tapping the floor, and
there was a gleam in her eyes which told the mischievous Jimmie that the
music was getting into Bee's blood. Jimmie wrenched my little finger
under the table and whispered:
"For two cents, Bee would do the skirt dance!"
"Ask her," I whispered back.
He jogged her elbow and said:
"Give 'um the skirt dance, Bee. You could knock 'um all silly with the
way you dance."
Bee needed no urging. It was quite evident she had made up her mind to
do it before we asked. She arose with a look of determination in her
eyes, which would have carried her through a murder. When Bee makes up
her mind to do a thing, she'll put it through, good or bad, determined
and remorseless, from giving a dinner to the poor to robbing a grave,
and nobody can stop her, or laugh her out of it any more than you can
persuade her to do it, if she doesn't want to. Nobody is responsible for
Bee's acts but herself. Therefore, I recall that scene with a peculiar
and exquisite joy which the truly good never feel.
Bee's travelling-skirt was tailor-made, tight at the belt, and of ample
fulness around the bottom. She had on a shirt-waist, a linen collar, the
Charvet tie, a black hat with a few gay coloured flowers on it, and a
lace petticoat from the Rue de la Paix. At the first strains of the
skirt dance from the delighted band Bee seized her skirts firmly and
began the dance which is so familiar to us, but which those Tyrolese
peasants had never seen before. Jimmie says he would rather see Bee do
the skirt dance than any professional he ever saw on any stage. He says
that her kicks are such poems that he forgives her everything when he
thinks of them, but when she danced that night, Jimmie was so tickled
by the excitement and polite interest she created in her primitive
audience, that he stretched himself out on the bench in such shrieks of
laughter that even Bee grinned at him, while I simply passed away. She
sat down, flushed, breathless, but triumphant.
Instantly she was surrounded by every young fellow in the room,
imploring her to dance with him, and at once Bee became the belle of the
ball. And, if you will believe it, when Mrs. Jimmie and I went outside
to get a breath of air, Bee, the ladylike; Bee, the conservative;
haughty, intolerant Bee, was dancing with the cowherd!
We had our breakfast the next morning on the same piazza where we had
dined and where the early morning sun gave an entirely new aspect to the
eternal blueness of the Achensee. Oh, you who have seen only Italian
lakes, think not that you know blue when you see it, until you have seen
"If you would only get back into yourself," said Jimmie, addressing my
absent spirit, "you might help me decide where we shall go next."
"I can't leave here," I replied. "I cannot tear myself away from this
"It _is_ beautiful," murmured Bee, dreamily, but she murmured dreamily
not so much because of the beauty of the scene as because eating in the
open air that early in the morning always makes her sleepy.
"'Tis not that," I responded. "'Tis because, while some few modest
triumphs have come my way, I think I never achieved one which gave me
such acute physical satisfaction as I underwent last night at my sister
Bee's success as a _premiere danseuse_. Shall I ever forget it? Shall
danger, or sickness, or poverty, or disaster ever blot from my mind that
scene? Jimmie, never again can she scorn us for our sawdust-ring
proclivities, for do you know, _I_ shouldn't be surprised to see her end
her days on the trapeze!"
But if I fondly hoped to make Bee waver in her thorough approval of her
own acts, this cheerful exchange of badinage, where the exchange was all
on my part, undeceived me, for Bee simply looked at me without replying,
so Jimmie uncoiled himself and handed the map to Bee.
"Jimmie has talked nothing but salt mines for a fortnight," said Bee,
finally, "yet by coming here we have left Salzburg behind us."
"Let's go back then," he said. "It isn't far, and it's all through a
For a wonder, we all agreed to this plan without the usual discussion of
individual tastes which usually follows the most tentative suggestion
on the part of any one of us who has the temerity to leap into the arena
to be worried.
The whole Rhiner family, including the chambermaid, the shipmaster, and
Bee's friend the cowherd, were on the little pier, under some pretext or
other, to see us off, and not only feeling but knowing that we left real
friends behind us, we started on our way to Jenbach, down the same
little cog-wheel road up which we had climbed, and, as Jimmie said:
"literally getting back to earth again," for the descent was like being
dropped from the clouds.
The journey from Jenbach to Salzburg was indeed marvellously beautiful,
but some little time before we arrived Jimmie emerged from his
guide-book to say, somewhat timidly:
"Are you tired of lakes?"
"Tired of lakes? How could we be when we've only seen one this week?"
"And that the most exquisite spot we have found this summer!"
"Certainly we are not tired of the beautiful things!"
From this avalanche of replies Jimmie gathered an idea of our attitude.
"Thank you!" he said, politely. "I think I understand. Would you consent
to turn aside to see the Koenigsee, another small lake which belongs more
to the natives than to the tourists?"
For reply, we simply rose in concert. Mrs. Jimmie drew on her gloves and
Bee pulled down her veil.
"When do we get off, Jimmie?"
"In ten minutes," he said with a delighted grin. And in another ten
minutes we were off, and Salzburg was removed another twenty-four hours
But after the Achensee, the Koenigsee was something of an anticlimax,
although the natives were perfectly satisfactory, and not an English
word was spoken outside of our party. But as Jimmie speaks
German-American, we got what we wanted in the way of a boat, and found
that the Koenigsee is quite as green as the Achensee is blue. At least it
was the day we were there. The tiny Tyrolese lad who went with us as
guide, told us that it was sometimes as blue as the sky. But the black
shadows cast upon its waters by the steep cliffs which rise sheerly from
its sides, give back their darkness to the depths of the lake, and for
the scene of a picturesque murder it would be perfect. There is a
magnificent echo around certain parts of the Koenigsee, and swans sailing
majestically on the breast of the lake remind one of the Lohengrin
We rested that night at a dear little inn and the next morning took up
our interrupted journey to Salzburg.
On the way Jimmie talked salt mines to us until, when we arrived at
Salzburg, we imagined the whole town must be given up to them. But to
our surprise, and no less to our delight, we found Salzburg not only one
of the most picturesque towns we had met with, but interesting and
highly satisfactory, while the salt mines are not at Salzburg at all,
but half a day's drive away. Salzburg satisfied the entire emotional
gamut of our diversified and centrifugal party. It had mountains for
Jimmie, the rushing, roaring, picturesque little river Salzach for me,
the Residenz-Schloss, where the Grand Duke of Tuscany lives part of his
time, for Mrs. Jimmie and Bee, and the glorious views from every
direction for all of us. Here, also, Bee found her restaurants, with
bands, situated more delightfully than any we had found before.
Hills bound the town on two sides--thickly wooded, with ravishing shades
of green, to the side of which a schloss, or convent, or perhaps only a
terraced restaurant, clings like a swallow's nest. All the bridle-paths,
walks, and drives around Salzburg lead somewhere. You may be quite
certain that no matter what road you follow you will find your diligence
There is one curious restaurant where we went for our first dinner,
because two rival singing societies were to furnish the programme. It is
reached by an enormous elevator which takes you up some two hundred
feet, where there spreads before you a series of terraces, each with
tables and diners, and above all the band-stand. Here were the singers
singing quite abominably out of key, but with great vigour and
earnestness, and always applauded to the echo, but getting quite a
little overcome by their exhilaration later in the evening. Then there
is the fortress protecting the town, the Nonnberg, the cloisters in
whose church are the oldest in Germany, and they won't let you in to see
them at any price. This of itself is an attraction, for as a rule there
is no spot so sacred, so old, or so queer in all Europe that you can't
buy admission to it. But when I found the cloisters of the Convent
Church closed to the gaping public, I thanked God and took courage. We
found another spot in Salzburg where they allow only men to enter, but
as we found plenty of those in Turkey, we paid no particular attention
to the Franciscan Monastery for barring women, except that we had some
curiosity to hear the performance which is given daily on the
pansymphonicon, a queer instrument invented by one of the monks. Jimmie,
of course, came out fairly bursting with unnecessary pride, and to this
day pretends that you have lived only half your life if you haven't
heard the pansymphonicon. We gave him little satisfaction by asking no
questions and yawning or asking what time it was every time he tried to
whet our curiosity by vague references and half descriptions of it.
Jimmie is a frightful liar, and would sacrifice his hope of heaven to
torture us successfully for half a day. I don't believe one word of all
he has said or hinted or drawn or sung about that thing, and yet, I
would give everything I possess, and all Bee's good clothes, and all
Mrs. Jimmie's jewels, if I could hear and see the pansymphonicon _just
One of the most romantic things we did was to take the little railway
leading to the top of the Gaisberg, where we spent the night at the
little Hotel Gaisbergspilze, and saw Salzburg lying beneath us,
twinkling with lights, and making a sight to be remembered for ever.
Tucked in among the Salzburg Alps you can see seven little lakes, and
the colouring, the dark shadows, and fleecy belts of clouds make it a
ravishing view, and full of a tender, poetic melancholy. Mr. and Mrs.
Jimmie sat very close together, and renewed the days of their courting,
but poor Bee and I held each other's hands and felt lonely.
The romance of the situation drove me to poetry, and reduced Bee to the
submission of listening to it--for a short time. Trust me! I know how
far to trespass on my sister's patience! But when I said, mournfully:
"Never the time and place
And the loved one all together,"
Bee nodded a plaintive acquiescence.
In the morning, we _almost_ saw the sun rise, but not quite. Aigen, the
chateau of Prince Schwarzenberg, was more cheerful; so was Mozart's
statue and his _Geburthaus_. _I_ didn't know that Mozart was born in
Salzburg, but he was. There is something actually furtive about the way
certain facts have a habit of existing and I not learning of them until
everybody else has forgotten them.
We decided to make the excursion to the salt mine on Monday, and on the
Sunday Jimmie arranged for us to visit the Imperial chateau of Helbrun,
built in the seventeenth century, and promising us several new features
of amusement and interest not generally to be met with. Our hotel being
a very smart one, filled with Americans, we naturally had on rather good
frocks, for it was Sunday, and we were to drive instead of taking the
train. We had all been to the church in the morning, and felt at liberty
to escape from the gossip of the piazzas, and to amuse ourselves in this
Now, Jimmie is thoroughly ashamed of himself, and would give anything if
I would not tell this, but I have recently suffered an attack of
pansymphonicon, and this is my revenge.
I noticed something suspicious in Jimmie's childlike innocence and
elaborate amiability during our drive. If Jimmie is business-like and
somewhat indifferent, he is behaving himself. If he is officiously
attentive to our comfort, and his countenance is frank and open, look
out for him. I hate practical jokes, and on that Sunday I almost hated
We drove first into a great yard surrounded by high trees. The horses
were immediately taken from our carriage, as if our stay was to be a
long one. Then we made our way through the gates into what appeared to
be a lovely garden or park with gravelled walks, flowering shrubs, and
large shade trees. There were any number of pleasure seekers there
besides ourselves. Father, mother, and six or seven children in one
party, with the air of cheerfulness and light-heartedness--an air of
those who have no burdens to carry, and no bills to pay, which
characterises the Continental middle class on its Sunday outing. It was
impossible to escape them, for their cheerful interest in our clothes,
their friendly smiling countenances robbed their attendance of all
impertinence. Thus, somewhat of their company, although not strictly
belonging to it, we went to the Steinerne Theatre, hewn in the rock,
where pastorals and operas were at one time performed under the
direction of the prince-bishops.
Then, in front of the Mechanical Theatre, there is a flight of great
stone steps and balustrades of granite upon which, in company with our
German friends, we hung and climbed and stood, while the most ingenious
little play was performed by tiny puppets that I ever had the good
fortune to behold. Over and over again the midgets went through every
performance of mechanicism with such precision and accuracy that it took
me back to the first mechanical toy I ever possessed. This little
mechanical theatre is really a wonder.
I have never been sure how seriously to blame Jimmie for what followed.
At any rate, he knew something of the trick, and I have a distant
recollection of the gleam in his eyes when he led his unsuspecting party
along the gravel walk to the side of a certain granite building, whose
function I have forgotten. I remember standing there and looking up the
stone steps at our German friends, when suddenly out from behind the
stones of this building, from the cornice, from above and from beneath,
shot jets of water, drenching me and all others who were back of me, and
sending us forward in a mad rush to gain the top of those stone steps,
and so to safety. A stout German frau, weighing something between three
and four hundred pounds, trod on the train of my gown, and the gathers
gave way at the belt with that horrid ripping noise which every woman
has heard at some time of her life. It generally means a man. It makes
no difference, however; man or woman, the result is the same. As I could
not shake her off, and we were both bound for the same place, she
continued walking up my back, and in this manner we gained the top of
the steps and the gravelled walk, only to find that thin streams of
water from subterranean fountains were shooting up through the gravel,
making it useless to try to escape. It was all over in a minute, but in
the meantime we were drenched within and without and in such a fury that
I for one am not recovered from it. It seems that this is one of the
practical jokes of which the German mind is capable. Practical jokes
seem to me worse than, and on the order of, calamities. Unfortunately
Mrs. Jimmie was the wettest of any of us. She had on better clothes than
Bee or I, and she refused to run, and she got soaking wet. I really pity
Jimmie as I look back on it.
The visit to the salt mine we had planned for the next day. It was
necessarily put off. Two of us were not on speaking terms with
Jimmie,--Bee and I,--while Mrs. Jimmie, from driving back to the hotel
in her wet clothes, had a slight attack of her strange trouble, croup.
Poor dear Mrs. Jimmie! However, Jimmie's repentance was so deep and
sincere, he was so thoroughly scared by the extent of the calamity, so
deeply sorry for our ruined clothes, apart from his anxiety over his
wife, that we finally forgave him and took him into our favour again, to
escape his remorseful attentions to us. So one day late, but on a better
day, we took a fine large carriage, having previously tested the
springs, and started for the salt mines. A description of that drive is
almost impossible. To be sure, it was hot, dusty, and long. Before we
got to the first wayside inn we were ravenous, and Jimmie's thirst could
be indicated only by capital letters. But winding in and out among
farmhouses with flower gardens of hollyhocks, poppies, and roses;
passing now a wayside shrine with the crucifixion exploited in heroic
size; houses and barns and stables all under one roof; and now curiously
painted doors peculiar to Bavarian houses; the country inns with their
wooden benches and deal tables spread under the shade of the trees;
parties of pedestrians, members of Alpine clubs, taking their vacations
by tramping through this wonderful district; the sloping hills over and
around which the road winds; the blues and greens and shadows of the
more distant mountains, all combine to make this road from Salzburg to
the salt mines one of the most interesting to be found in all Germany.
Never did small cheese sandwiches and little German sausages taste so
delicious as at our first stop on our way to the salt mines. Jimmie said
never was anything to drink so long in coming. Near us sat eight members
of a _Mannerchor_, whose first act was to unsling a long curved horn
capable of holding a gallon. This was filled with beer, and formed a
loving-cup. Afterward, at the request of the landlord, and evidently to
their great gratification, these men regaled us with songs, all sung
with exceeding great earnestness, little regard to tune, and great
carelessness as to pitch; but, if one may judge from their smiling and
streaming countenances, the music had proved perfectly satisfactory to
the singers themselves. Another drive, and soon we were at the mouth of
the salt mine. We had learned previously that the better way would be to
go as a private party and pay a small fee, as otherwise we would find
ourselves in as great a crowd as on a free day at a museum. If I
remember rightly, four o'clock marks the free hour. It had commenced to
rain a little,--a fine, thin mountain shower,--but the carriage was
closed up, the horses led away to be rested, and we three women pushed
our way through the crowd of summer tourists waiting for the free hour
to strike in the courtyard, and found ourselves in a room in which women
were being arrayed in the salt mine costume. This costume is so absurd
that it requires a specific description.
Two or three motherly-looking German attendants gave us instructions.
Our costumes consisted of white duck trousers, clean, but still damp
from recent washing, a thick leather apron, a short duck blouse,
something like those worn by bakers, and a cap. The trousers, being all
the same size and same length, came to Bee's ankles, were knickerbockers
for me and tights for Mrs. Jimmie.
European travel hardens one to many of the hitherto essential delicacies
of refinement, which, however, the American instantly resumes upon
landing upon the New York pier; it being, I think, simply the instinct
of "when in Rome do as the Romans do," which compels us to pretend that
we do not object to things which, nevertheless, are never-ending shocks.
I have seldom undergone anything more difficult than the walk in broad
daylight, across that courtyard to the mouth of the salt mine. We were
borne up by the fact that perhaps one hundred other women were similarly
attired, and that both men and women looked upon it as a huge joke and
nothing more. One rather incomprehensible thing struck us as we left the
attiring-room. This was the use of the leather apron. The attendant
switched it around in the back and tied it firmly in place, and when we
demanded to know the reason, she said, in German, "It is for the swift
Jimmie was similarly arrayed when he met us at the door, but he seemed
to know no more about it than we did. At the mouth of the salt mine we
were met by our conductor, who took us along a dark passage, where all
the lights furnished were those from the covered candles fastened to
our belts, something on the order of the miner's lamp.
Further and further into the blackness we went, our shoes grinding into
the coarse salt mixed with dirt, and the dampness smelling like the
spray from the sea. Presently we came to the mouth of something that
evidently led down somewhere. Blindly following our guide who sat
astride of a pole, Jimmie planted himself beside him, astride of the
guide's back; Mrs. Jimmie, after having absolutely refused, was finally
persuaded to place herself behind Jimmie, then came Bee, and last of all
Our German is not fluent, nevertheless we asked many questions of the
guide, whose only instructions were to hold on tight. He then asked us
if we were ready.
"Ready for what?" we said.
"For the swift descent," he answered.
"The descent into what?" said Jimmie.
But at that, and as if disdaining our ignorance, we suddenly began to
shoot downward with fearful rapidity on nothing at all. All at once the
high polish on the leather aprons was explained to me. We were not on
any toboggan; we formed one ourselves.
When we arrived they said we had descended three hundred feet. But we
women had done nothing but emit piercing shrieks the entire way, and it
might have been three hundred feet or three hundred miles, for all we
knew. After our fierce refusal to start and our horrible screams during
the descent, Jimmie's disgust was something unspeakable when we
instantly said we wished we could do it again. Our guide, however, being
matter of fact, and utterly without imagination, was as indifferent to
our appreciation as he had been to our screams.
He unmoored a boat, and we were rowed across a subterranean lake which
was nothing more or less than liquid salt. We were in an enormous
cavern, lighted only by candles here and there on the banks of the lake.
The walls glittered fitfully with the crystals of salt, and there was
not a sound except the dipping of the oars into the dark water.
Arriving at the other side, we continued to go down corridor after
corridor, sometimes descending, sometimes mounting flights of steps,
always seeing nothing but salt--salt--salt.
In one place, artificially lighted, there are exhibited all the curious
formations of salt, with their beautiful crystals and varied colours. It
takes about an hour to explore the mine, and then comes what to us was
the pleasantest part of all. There is a tiny narrow gauge road, possibly
not over eighteen inches broad, upon which are eight-seated, little open
cars. It seems that, in spite of sometimes descending, we had, after
all, been ascending most of the time, for these cars descend of their
own momentum from the highest point of the salt mine to its mouth. The
roar of that little car, the occasional parties of pedestrians we
passed, crowded into cavities in the salty walls (for the free hour had
struck), who shouted to us a friendly good luck, the salt wind whistling
past our ears and blowing out our lanterns, made of that final ride one
of the most exhilarating that we ever took.
But, of course, from now on in describing rides we must always except
"the swift descent."
We were wondering where we should go next with the delicious idle wonder
of those who drop off the train at a moment's notice if a fellow
passenger vouchsafes an alluring description of a certain village, or if
the approach from the car window attracts. Only those who have bound
themselves down on a European tour to an itinerary can understand the
freedom and delight of idle wanderings such as ours. We never feel
compelled to go on even one mile from where we thought for a moment we
should like to stop.
It was Jimmie who made this plan possible, without the friction and
unnecessary expense which we should have incurred had we followed this
plan, and bought tickets from one city to another, but in fussing around
information bureaux and railway stations, Jimmie unearthed the
information that one can buy circular tickets of a certain route,
embodying from one to three months in time, and including all the spice
for a picturesque trip of Germany and Austria, where one would naturally
like to travel. By purchasing these little books with the tickets in the
form of coupons at the railway station we saved the additional fee which
the tourist agent usually exacts, and this frugal act so filled us with
joy that our trip proved unusually expensive, for at every stop we
indulged in a small extravagance which we felt that we could well afford
on account of this accidental saving at the start. We have been so amply
repaid at every pause on our journey that it has become a matter of
pride with Jimmie and me to have no falling off from the standard we had
set. Therefore Jimmie came and sat down by me one morning and said:
"Ever hear of Ischl?"
"No," I said, "what is it? But I warn you beforehand that I sha'n't
touch it if it's a mixture of sarsaparilla and ginger ale, or lime juice
and red ink, or anything like that thing you--"
"It isn't a drink," said Jimmie, in disgust. "It's a town! If people
who read your stuff realised how little you know--"
"I am perfectly satisfied," I said, looking at him firmly, "that it
isn't twenty minutes since you found what Ischl is yourself. You never
learned a thing in your life that you didn't bring it to me as though
you had known it for ever, whereas your information is always so fresh
that it's still bubbling, and if Kissingen is a town as well as a drink,
why shouldn't Ischl be a drink as well as a town?"
My triumphant manner was a little annoying that early in the morning,
but as Jimmie really had something to say, my gauntlet lay where I cast
it, unnoticed by the adversary.
"Now Ischl," said Jimmie, "is where the Austrian Emperor has his summer
residence. It is tucked up in the hills with drives which you would call
'heavenly.' People from all over Austria gather there during the season.
There will be royalty for my wife; German officers for Bee; heaps of
people for you to stare at, and as for me, I don't need any attraction.
I can be perfectly happy where there is no strife and where I can enjoy
the delight of a small but interesting family party."
I smiled at this statement, for when Jimmie is not carefully stirring me
up for argument or battle, I always feel his pulse to see if he is ill.
"It will probably please Bee and Mrs. Jimmie," I said, doubtfully, "and
they have been _so_ good to us at the Achensee and Salzburg, perhaps--"
"That's just what I was thinking," said Jimmie. "You're a good old sort.
You're as square as a man."
At this, I positively gurgled with delight, for it is not once in a
million--no, not once in ten million years that Jimmie says anything
decent about me to my face. I sometimes hear rumours of approving
remarks that he makes behind my back, but I never have been able to run
any of them to earth.
"If Ischl is a royal country-seat," said Jimmie, "I'll bet you a '_blaue
cravatte_' for yourself against a '_blaue cravatte_' for myself--both to
come from Charvet's--that Bee will know all about it."
"You can't bet with me on that because I know I'd lose. I'll bet that
they both know all about it. Let's ask them."
"Ever hear of Ischl, Bee?" said Jimmie, as Bee appeared as smartly got
up as if she were in New Bond Street.
"Did I ever hear of Ischl?" repeated Bee, in surprise. "Why, certainly.
Ischl is where Emperor Franz Josef has his summer home. He is there now
with his entire suite, and next Wednesday is his birthday."
"Say 'geburt-day,' Bee," I pleaded. Nobody paid any attention. Jimmie
looked meekly at Bee.
"Have you decided on a hotel there?" he asked, ironically. But Bee
"There are two good ones--the 'Kaiserin Elisabeth' and the 'Goldenes
Kreuz.' It will probably be very crowded, for they always celebrate the
Jimmie and I looked at each other helplessly. She knew all about Ischl,
and had intended to steer the whole four of us there, while Jimmie and I
had just heard of it, and were planning to give her a nice little
Jimmie said nothing, but took his hat and went out to telegraph for
"I'm glad I didn't bet with you, Jimmie," I whispered as he passed me.
It is the merest suspicion of a journey from Salzburg to Ischl, but it
consumes several hours, because every inch of the country on both sides
of the car is worth looking at. The little train creeps along now at the
foot of a mountain, now at the edge of a lake, and it is such a vision
of loveliness that even those unfeeling persons who "don't care for
scenery" would be roused from their lethargy by the gentle seductiveness
of its beauty. Ischl appears when you are least looking for it, tucked
in the hollow of a mountain's arm as lovingly as ever a baby was
Our rooms at the Goldenes Kreuz had a wide balcony where our breakfasts
were served, and commanded not only a view of the mountains and valleys,
and a rushing stream, but afforded us our only meal where we could get
plenty of air.
Our first experience in the general dining-room was a revelation of many
things. The room was air-tight. Not a window or door was permitted to
be opened the smallest crack. The men smoked all through dinner, and
quite a number of women smoked from one to a dozen cigarettes held in
all manner of curious cigarette-holders, some of which were only a
handle with a ring for the cigarette, something like our opera-glass
handles, while others were the more familiar mouthpieces. But all were
jewelled and handsome, and the women who used them were all elderly. Two
women smoked strong black cigars, but as the smokers were very smart and
went in court society, Bee's eyes only grew round and big, and she
ventured no word of criticism.
But all this smoke and lack of ventilation made the air very thick and
hot and unbreathable for us, so that we complained to the proprietor,
who sympathised with us so deeply that he nearly wept, but he assured us
that Austrians were even worse than the French in their fear of a
draught, and he declared that while he would very willingly open all the
windows, and as far as he was concerned, he himself revelled in fresh
air,--nevertheless, if he should follow our advice, his hotel would be
emptied the next day of all but our one American party.
In vain we reminded him that it was August. Not a window nor a door was
opened in that dining-room while we were there.
But we got along very well, for we are not too strenuous in our
demands,--especially when we realise that we cannot get them acceded
to,--so in lieu of air we breathed smoke, and in watching the people we
soon forgot all about it. Air is not essential after all when royalty is
If not royalty, at least the next thing to it. The gorgeous and glorious
officers of his Majesty's suite, handsome, distinguished, young, and
ever near the throne! Bee's eyes were glued to their table. We were
afraid the poor dear would never pull through. She scarcely ate any
"Bee," I whispered, pulling her dress under the table, "you really must
not pay them such marked attention. Remember your husband and baby--far
away, to be sure, but still _there_!"
"What difference does it make, I should like to know," was Bee's
callous reply. "They can't speak English."
Now of all the irrelevant retorts!
Bee had so evidently capitulated to the whole lot that I stole a few
furtive glances myself, and while I was rewarded by some brief interest
from their table, and I felt sure that they were talking about us, it
seemed to me that the interest of _The One_, the tallest, handsomest,
and the one most suited for a pedestal in Central Park, was overlooking
both Bee's and my undeniable attractions, and was concentrating all his
fiery, hawk-like glances upon Mrs. Jimmie, whose total unconsciousness
of her great beauty is one of her supreme charms. She wore a black lace
gown that night with sleeves which came not quite to her elbow; no
bracelets to mar those perfect arms, but her hands fairly loaded with
rings. She never looks at any other man except Jimmie, and Jimmie thinks
that the earth exists simply for her. Poor Jimmie never can express his
emotion in proper words, but I have seen his eyes fill with tears of
love and pride as he whispered to me, "Isn't she ripping to-night?"
She certainly was "ripping" that first night at Ischl--far more ripping
than any titled dame there, upon whose mature ugliness all her calm
attention was bestowed, while I was on the verge of collapse when I saw
that Bee's love was like to go unrequited, while Mrs. Jimmie's rings and
beauty--I name her attractions in their proper order as far as I was
able to gather from the enamoured officer's glances--snatched the prize.
The situation as it bade fair to develop was far, far too sacred to
permit of ribald speech, so with the greatest difficulty I held my
tongue. For my only natural confidant, Jimmie, was plainly disqualified
in this case.
The next morning Jimmie wanted us to drive, but I, hoping to give
matters an onward fillip, spoke so warmly in favour of a morning stroll
in the promenade "to see people" that he gave in, and Bee's attentions
to me while garbing ourselves were so marked that I almost hoped I had
been wrong the night before.
But alas for our ignorance of officers' duties! Not one of those in his
Majesty's suite was visible, although all the old ladies were out in
force, and some very pretty Austrian girls appeared, smartly gowned, and
most of them carrying slender little gold or silver mounted sticks.
Those sticks caught Bee's eye at once, and she bought one before the
hour was over, much to Jimmie's disgust.
But his expostulations produced no effect. It seemed queer to me--her
sister--that he should waste his breath. But Jimmie was obliged to
relieve his mind by saying that it looked too pronounced.
"It's all right for an Austrian," said Jimmie, wagging his head. "But
everybody knows you are an American, and it doesn't look right."
"Doesn't it go with my costume, Jimmie?" demanded Bee. "Look me over!
Doesn't it match?"
Alas for Jimmie! It _did_ match. Bee's carrying it simply looked saucy,
not loud. I couldn't have carried it--I should have tripped over it, and
fallen down. Mrs. Jimmie would have dropped or broken it. Bee and that
stick simply fitted each other--there in Ischl! Nowhere else.
At luncheon, just as we were going out, the four officers came in. We
passed them in the doorway. Bee looked desperate. They lined up to allow
us to pass, and for a moment I thought Bee was going to snatch one, and
make her escape. But she compromised, on seeing them seat themselves at
the table we had just left, by sending Jimmie back to look for her
"If that doesn't fetch an acquaintance," Bee's look seemed to say, "with
Jimmie burrowing around on the floor among their boots and spurs, I
shall have but a poor opinion of Austrian ingenuity."
Jimmie was gone half an hour. When he came back, his face was too
innocent. He seated himself quietly, and after saying, "It wasn't there,
Bee," he went on smoking placidly.
Now, any one who knows anything about anything, cannot fail to admit
that my sister ought either to be at the head of Tammany Hall or the
army. She gave one look at Jimmie's suspiciously bland countenance, then
gathered up her gloves, her veil and stick, and went slowly up-stairs,
apparently in a brown study.
Jimmie is clever, but he is no match for a clever woman. No man _is_,
for that matter.
The moment she was out of sight, he began to chuckle.
"Great Scott," he whispered, bringing our three heads together by a
gesture. "If Bee knew that all those officers we just passed went right
in, and sat down at the very table we left, so that when she sent me for
her handkerchief I had to run bang into them, I wonder if she would have
gone up-stairs so calmly!"
"Why didn't you tell her?" I cried.
"I was going to--after I had got her curiosity up a little. They were
very polite, and nothing would do but I must sit down, and have a glass
of beer with them. I didn't want that, so I took a cigar, and they all
nearly fell over themselves to offer me one--from the most beautiful
cigar cases you ever saw. That tall chap with the eyes had one of gold,
with the Tzar's face done in enamel, surmounted by the imperial crown in
diamonds, and an inscription on the inside showing that the Tzar gave
it to him. I took one out of that case for Bee's sake. I'll save her the
"Did they ask any questions about us?" I said, guilelessly.
"Yes, heaps. And when I told them how devoted my wife was to the Empress
Elizabeth they offered to make up a party to show us two of the shrines
she built near here, and invited us to dine afterward. So I made it for
this afternoon at three. Don't tell Bee. Let's surprise her. Her eyes
will pop clear out of her head when she sees them."
Within ten minutes I had told Bee everything I knew, and had even
enlarged upon it a little, and Bee, in a holy delight, was preparing to
robe herself in costly array. She solemnly promised me to be surprised
when she saw them.
Only two of them could leave--The One, whose name shall be Count Andreae
von Engel, and the other, Baron Oscar von Furzmann. They had a
four-seated carriage for us, while they accompanied us on horseback.
That drive was one of the most romantic episodes which ever came into
my prosaic life. To be sure I was not in the romance at all,--neither
one of those bottle-green knights had an eye for _me_--but I was there,
and I saw and heard and enjoyed it more than anybody.
Bee, with the craft of a fox, offered to sit riding backward with
Jimmie, knowing that she must thus perforce be face to face with the
horsemen. But in this she was outwitted by a mere man, but a man skilled
in intrigue and court diplomacy. Although the road was narrow and
dangerous, twisting over mountains and beside rushing streams, The One,
in order to feast his eyes on Mrs. Jimmie, permitted his horse to curvet
and caracole as if he were in tourney. Jimmie, while the count was doing
it, managed to whisper to me: "Tom Sawyer showing off," but _I_ knew
that it was for a second purpose which counted for even more than the
I must admit that this Austrian diplomat was very skilful, and managed
it in a way to throw the unsuspicious wholly off his guard, for, in
order not to make his manoeuvres too marked, he often rode ahead of the
carriage, when, by turning in his saddle, he could look back and fling
his ardent glances in our direction. They not only overshot me, but
glanced as harmlessly off Mrs. Jimmie's arrow-proof armour of complete
unconsciousness as if they had hurtled aimlessly over her handsome head.
I was in ecstasies, for Bee's wholesome admiration of her stunning
officer and his undeniably unusual horsemanship prevented her from being
rendered in any way uncomfortable by his action, for truth to tell, Bee
_was_ a target for the roving glances of Baron von Furzmann, but he was
so hopelessly the wrong man that she not only was unaware of it then but
vehemently disclaimed it when I enlightened her later. Alas and alack!
The wrong man is always the wrong man, and never can take the place of
the right man, no matter what his country or speech.
It was supremely interesting to talk with men who had known the
beautiful Empress well; to whom her living beauty was as familiar as her
pictured loveliness was to us. We plied them with countless questions as
to her wonderful horsemanship, her daily appearance, her dress, her
conversation, and her learning. Their enthusiastic praise of her was
genuine and spontaneous.
I was dying to ask minute questions about the Crown Prince's affair, but
just enough sense was left in my make-up to know that I must not. They
might whisper their gossip to each other who knew all of the truth
anyway, but to strangers their loyalty would compel them to suppress not
only what they themselves knew but what we knew to be the truth. Both of
these officers had known Prince Rudie well; had hunted with him;
travelled with him; served with him; had often been at his hunting-lodge
Mayerling, where he died, but, when they came to refer to this part of
their narrative, they were so visibly embarrassed that we changed the
subject to the Princess Stephanie. Here, although they were studiously
careful to put nothing into actual words, their manner plainly indicated
their contempt and dislike of the heavy Belgian Princess, who was so
poor a helpmeet for the graceful and picturesque figure of the Crown
Prince of Austria.
"Did you know the lady in her Majesty's suite who wrote 'The Martyrdom
of an Empress?'" I demanded, boldly.
Von Engel's face flushed darkly.
"I do not know. I am not certain," he stammered.
"Never mind. Don't commit yourself. She was exiled, wasn't she, for
arranging meetings between Prince Rudolph and his _belle amie?_ She was
a dear thing, whoever she was, for she gave him what was probably the
only real happiness he ever knew. And when people love each other well
enough to die together, it means more than most men and women can
Jimmie trod on my foot just here, so I stopped, but, to his and my
surprise, Mrs. Jimmie not only agreed with me, but added:
"What a misfortune it is that princes and kings and queens must marry
for state reasons, so that love can play no part."
I don't know whether Von Engel had not then put two and two together, so
that he knew that Mrs. Jimmie had her own husband in mind when she made
that speech about love or not. I think not, for I happened to be looking
at him, and for a moment I thought he was going to spring from his
horse right into her lap.
To me the two loveliest women rulers of the world, the ones whose
histories I most grieve over, and with whose temperaments I am most in
sympathy, are the Empress Eugenie of the French and the Empress
Elizabeth of Austria. The Empress Elizabeth was of such a high-strung,
nervous, proud temperament that had there not been madness in her
unfortunate family, all her apparently unbalanced acts could be
accounted for by her imperious and imperial nature, and the stigma of a
mind even partially unbalanced need never have been hers. Many a wife in
the common walks of life has been driven to more insane acts in the eyes
of an unfeeling and critical world than ever the unhappy Empress
Elizabeth committed, and for the same causes. An inhumanly tyrannical
mother-in-law, the most vicious of her vicious kind, whose chief delight
was to torture the high-strung nature she was too small to comprehend; a
husband, encouraged in his not-to-be-borne gallantries by his own
mother, this same monstrous mother-in-law of the Empress; her
children's love aborted by this same fiend in woman form--is it any
marvel that the proud Empress broke away from her splendid torture and
found a sad comfort in travel and study? The wonder of it is that she
chose so mild a remedy. She might have murdered her husband's mother,
and those who knew would have declared her justified. If she had done so
she could scarcely have suffered in her mind more than she did.
When I expressed some of these opinions I discovered that both officers
looked at me with undisguised sympathy. They themselves dared not put
into words such incendiary thoughts, but they welcomed their expression
from another. This was not the first time I had worded the inner
thoughts of a company who dared not speak out themselves, but, as
catspaws are invariably burned, I cannot lay to my soul the flattering
unction that I have escaped their common lot. Bee says I am generally
burned to a cinder.
We had just visited the last of the shrines, which were interesting only
because erected by the Empress, when we were overtaken by a terrific
mountain storm which broke over our heads without warning. The rain came
down in torrents, but not even the officers got wet, for they instantly
produced from some mysterious region rubber capes which completely
enveloped their beautiful uniforms.
I was not sure, but, in the general confusion of closing the carriage
top, I thought I saw Count Andreae whisper to Mrs. Jimmie. I am positive
I heard Von Furzmann whisper to Bee. So, not to be outdone, I leaned
over and whispered to Jimmie. I do so hate to be left out of a thing.
We had a gay little supper at the Kaiserin Elisabeth, but I could not
see that Count Andreae "got any forrarder," as Jimmie would say, for he
literally could not concentrate his attention on Mrs. Jimmie on account
of Bee's attentions to him. Poor Von Furzmann had to content himself
with Jimmie and me.
The next day being the Emperor's birthday, the whole town was gloriously
illuminated, and the splendid old Franz Josef--splendid in spite of his
past irregularities--appeared before his adoring people, with Bee the
most adoring of all his subjects.
There were any number of little parties made up after that, for, of
course, we returned the civility of the officers. But after awhile
Ischl, in spite of the bracing air, and bewitching drives, and
occasional glimpses of royalty, and daily meetings with our beloved
officers, Jimmie and I began to think longingly of green fields and
pastures new. It was a little hard on Bee, and even on Mrs. Jimmie, to
drag them away from the morning promenade, where they always saw the
rank and fashion of Austria. I wondered what Bee's feelings would be at
parting with her loved ones, for most of our conversations lately had
tended toward turning our journeyings aside from Vienna to go north to
the September manoeuvres, in which our friends were to take part. We in
turn combated this by begging them to meet us in Italy in three months.
You should have seen their anguished faces when Jimmie and I mentioned
three months! A week's separation was more than they could think of
without tying crape on their arms. To our amazement they assured us that
a leave was out of the question. Von Engel declared that he had not had
a leave of absence for ten years and he doubted if he could obtain one
on any excuse short of a death in the family.
At last, however, one fine day, with farewell notes and loaded with
flowers, and with the prettiest of parting speeches, we tore ourselves
away and were off for Vienna.