Part 3 out of 3
"It's nothing, Joe, nothing. Don't read it, please; please, don't.
It's so funny! it's so very queer!"
But Joe had, after a slight, half-playful struggle, taken the
letter from the girl. Then he read aloud the words written by his
father thirty years ago.
"I thank you, dear friend, for all you say about my wife and boy.
I thank you for reminding me of our boyish compact. He will be
ready to fulfil it, I know, if he loves those his father loves,
even if you should marry years later. I am glad for your sake, for
both our sakes, that it is a boy. Heaven send you a good wife,
dear Adams, and a daughter, to make my son equally happy."
Joe Silsbie looked down, took the half-laughing, half-tearful face
in his hands, kissed her forehead, and, with tears in his grave
eyes, said, "Amen!"
. . . . . .
I am inclined to think that this sentiment was echoed heartily by
Mrs. Rightbody's former acquaintances, when, a year later, Miss
Alice was united to a professional gentleman of honor and renown,
yet who was known to be the son of a convicted horse-thief. A few
remembered the previous Californian story, and found corroboration
therefor; but a majority believed it a just reward to Miss Alice
for her conduct to Mr. Marvin, and, as Miss Alice cheerfully
accepted it in that light, I do not see why I may not end my story
with happiness to all concerned.
A LEGEND OF SAMMTSTADT.
It was the sacred hour of noon at Sammtstadt. Everybody was at
dinner; and the serious Kellner of "Der Wildemann" glanced in mild
reproach at Mr. James Clinch, who, disregarding that fact and the
invitatory table d'hote, stepped into the street. For Mr. Clinch
had eaten a late breakfast at Gladbach, was dyspeptic and American,
and, moveover, preoccupied with business. He was consequently
indignant, on entering the garden-like court and cloister-like
counting-house of "Von Becheret, Sons, Uncles, and Cousins," to
find the comptoir deserted even by the porter, and was furious at
the maidservant, who offered the sacred shibboleth "Mittagsessen"
as a reasonable explanation of the solitude. "A country," said Mr.
Clinch to himself, "that stops business at mid-day to go to dinner,
and employs women-servants to talk to business-men, is played out."
He stepped from the silent building into the equally silent
Kronprinzen Strasse. Not a soul to be seen anywhere. Rows on rows
of two-storied, gray-stuccoed buildings that might be dwellings, or
might be offices, all showing some traces of feminine taste and
supervision in a flower or a curtain that belied the legended
"Comptoir," or "Direction," over their portals. Mr. Clinch thought
of Boston and State Street, of New York and Wall Street, and became
Yet there was clearly nothing to do but to walk down the formal
rows of chestnuts that lined the broad Strasse, and then walk back
again. At the corner of the first cross-street he was struck with
the fact that two men who were standing in front of a dwelling-
house appeared to be as inconsistent, and out of proportion to the
silent houses, as were the actors on a stage to the painted canvas
thoroughfares before which they strutted. Mr. Clinch usually had
no fancies, had no eye for quaintness; besides, this was not a
quaint nor romantic district, only an entrepot for silks and
velvets, and Mr. Clinch was here, not as a tourist, but as a
purchaser. The guidebooks had ignored Sammtstadt, and he was too
good an American to waste time in looking up uncatalogued
curiosities. Besides, he had been here once before,--an entire
One o'clock. Still a full hour and a half before his friend would
return to business. What should he do? The Verein where he had
once been entertained was deserted even by its waiters; the garden,
with its ostentatious out-of-door tables, looked bleak and bare.
Mr. Clinch was not artistic in his tastes; but even he was quick to
detect the affront put upon Nature by this continental, theatrical
gardening, and turned disgustedly away. Born near a "lake" larger
than the German Ocean, he resented a pool of water twenty-five feet
in diameter under that alluring title; and, a frequenter of the
Adirondacks, he could scarce contain himself over a bit of rock-
work twelve feet high. "A country," said Mr. Clinch, "that--" but
here he remembered that he had once seen in a park in his native
city an imitation of the Drachenfels in plaster, on a scale of two
inches to the foot, and checked his speech.
He turned into the principal allee of the town. There was a long
white building at one end,--the Bahnhof: at the other end he
remembered a dye-house. He had, a year ago, met its hospitable
proprietor: he would call upon him now.
But the same solitude confronted him as he passed the porter's
lodge beside the gateway. The counting-house, half villa, half
factory, must have convoked its humanity in some out-of-the-way
refectory, for the halls and passages were tenantless. For the
first time he began to be impressed with a certain foreign
quaintness in the surroundings; he found himself also recalling
something he had read when a boy, about an enchanted palace whose
inhabitants awoke on the arrival of a long-predestined Prince. To
assure himself of the absolute ridiculousness of this fancy, he
took from his pocket the business-card of its proprietor, a sample
of dye, and recalled his own personality in a letter of credit.
Having dismissed this idea from his mind, he lounged on again
through a rustic lane that might have led to a farmhouse, yet was
still, absurdly enough, a part of the factory gardens. Crossing a
ditch by a causeway, he presently came to another ditch and another
causeway, and then found himself idly contemplating a massive, ivy-
clad, venerable brick wall. As a mere wall it might not have
attracted his attention; but it seemed to enter and bury itself at
right angles in the side-wall of a quite modern-looking dwelling.
After satisfying himself of this fact, he passed on before the
dwelling, but was amazed to see the wall reappear on the other side
exactly the same--old, ivy-grown, sturdy, uncompromising, and
Could it actually be a part of the house? He turned back, and
repassed the front of the building. The entrance door was
hospitably open. There was a hall and a staircase, but--by all
that was preposterous!--they were built OVER and AROUND the central
brick intrusion. The wall actually ran through the house! "A
country," said Mr. Clinch to himself, "where they build their
houses over ruins to accommodate them, or save the trouble of
removal, is,--" but a very pleasant voice addressing him here
stopped his usual hasty conclusion.
Mr. Clinch looked hastily up. Leaning on the parapet of what
appeared to be a garden on the roof of the house was a young girl,
red-cheeked, bright-eyed, blond-haired. The voice was soft,
subdued, and mellow; it was part of the new impression he was
receiving, that it seemed to be in some sort connected with the
ivy-clad wall before him. His hat was in his hand as he answered,--
"Was the Herr seeking anything?"
"The Herr was only waiting a longtime-coming friend, and had
strayed here to speak with the before-known proprietor."
"So? But, the before-known proprietor sleeping well at present
after dinner, would the Herr on the terrace still a while linger?"
The Herr would, but looked around in vain for the means to do it.
He was thinking of a scaling-ladder, when the young woman
reappeared at the open door, and bade him enter.
Following the youthful hostess, Mr. Clinch mounted the staircase,
but, passing the mysterious wall, could not forbear an allusion to
it. "It is old, very old," said the girl: "it was here when I
"That was not very long ago," said Mr. Clinch gallantly.
"No; but my grandfather found it here too."
"And built over it?"
"Why not? It is very, very hard, and SO thick."
Mr. Clinch here explained, with masculine superiority, the
existence of such modern agents as nitro-glycerine and dynamite,
persuasive in their effects upon time-honored obstructions and
"But there was not then what you call--this--ni--nitro-glycerine."
"But since then?"
The young girl gazed at him in troubled surprise. "My great-
grandfather did not take it away when he built the house: why
They had passed through a hall and dining-room, and suddenly
stepped out of a window upon a gravelled terrace. From this a few
stone steps descended to another terrace, on which trees and shrubs
were growing; and yet, looking over the parapet, Mr. Clinch could
see the road some twenty feet below. It was nearly on a level
with, and part of, the second story of the house. Had an
earthquake lifted the adjacent ground? or had the house burrowed
into a hill? Mr. Clinch turned to his companion, who was standing
close beside him, breathing quite audibly, and leaving an
impression on his senses as of a gentle and fragrant heifer.
"How was all this done?"
The maiden did not know. "It was always here."
Mr. Clinch reascended the steps. He had quite forgotten his
impatience. Possibly it was the gentle, equable calm of the girl,
who, but for her ready color, did not seem to be moved by anything;
perhaps it was the peaceful repose of this mausoleum of the dead
and forgotten wall that subdued him, but he was quite willing to
take the old-fashioned chair on the terrace which she offered him,
and follow her motions with not altogether mechanical eyes as she
drew out certain bottles and glasses from a mysterious closet in
the wall. Mr. Clinch had the weakness of a majority of his sex in
believing that he was a good judge of wine and women. The latter,
as shown in the specimen before him, he would have invoiced as a
fair sample of the middle-class German woman,--healthy, comfort-
loving, home-abiding, the very genius of domesticity. Even in her
virgin outlines the future wholesome matron was already forecast,
from the curves of her broad hips, to the flat lines of her back
and shoulders. Of the wine he was to judge later. THAT required
an even more subtle and unimpassioned intellect.
She placed two bottles before him on the table,--one, the
traditional long-necked, amber-colored Rheinflasche; the other, an
old, quaint, discolored, amphorax-patterned glass jug. The first
"This," she said, pointing to the other, "cannot be opened."
Mr. Clinch paid his respects first to the opened bottle, a good
quality of Niersteiner. With his intellect thus clarified, he
glanced at the other.
"It is from my great-grandfather. It is old as the wall."
Mr. Clinch examined the bottle attentively. It seemed to have no
cork. Formed of some obsolete, opaque glass, its twisted neck was
apparently hermetically sealed by the same material. The maiden
smiled, as she said,--
"It cannot be opened now without breaking the bottle. It is not
good luck to do so. My grandfather and my father would not."
But Mr. Clinch was still examining the bottle. Its neck was
flattened towards the mouth; but a close inspection showed it was
closed by some equally hard cement, but not glass.
"If I can open it without breaking the bottle, have I your
A mischievous glance rested on Mr. Clinch, as the maiden answered,--
"I shall not object; but for what will you do it?"
"To taste it, to try it."
"You are not afraid?"
There was just enough obvious admiration of Mr. Clinch's audacity
in the maiden's manner to impel him to any risk. His only answer
was to take from his pocket a small steel instrument. Holding the
neck of the bottle firmly in one hand, he passed his thumb and the
steel twice or thrice around it. A faint rasping, scratching sound
was all the wondering girl heard. Then, with a sudden, dexterous
twist of his thumb and finger, to her utter astonishment he laid
the top of the neck, neatly cut off, in her hand.
"There's a better and more modern bottle than you had before," he
said, pointing to the cleanly-divided neck, "and any cork will fit
But the girl regarded him with anxiety. "And you still wish to
taste the wine?"
"With your permission, yes!"
He looked up in her eyes. There was permission: there was
something more, that was flattering to his vanity. He took the
wine-glass, and, slowly and in silence, filled it from the
The wine fell into the glass clearly, transparently, heavily, but
still and cold as death. There was no sparkle, no cheap
ebullition, no evanescent bubble. Yet it was so clear, that, but
for a faint amber-tinting, the glass seemed empty. There was no
aroma, no ethereal diffusion from its equable surface. Perhaps it
was fancy, perhaps it was from nervous excitement; but a slight
chill seemed to radiate from the still goblet, and bring down the
temperature of the terrace. Mr. Clinch and his companion both
But only for a moment. Mr. Clinch raised the glass to his lips.
As he did so, he remembered seeing distinctly, as in a picture
before him, the sunlit terrace, the pretty girl in the foreground,--
an amused spectator of his sacrilegious act,--the outlying ivy-
crowned wall, the grass-grown ditch, the tall factory chimneys
rising above the chestnuts, and the distant poplars that marked the
The wine was delicious; perhaps a TRIFLE, only a trifle, heady. He
was conscious of a slight exaltation. There was also a smile upon
the girl's lip and a roguish twinkle in her eye as she looked at
"Do you find the wine to your taste?" she asked.
"Fair enough, I warrant," said Mr. Clinch with ponderous gallantry;
"but methinks 'tis nothing compared with the nectar that grows on
those ruby lips. Nay, by St. Ursula, I swear it!"
No sooner had this solemnly ridiculous speech passed the lips of
the unfortunate man than he would have given worlds to have
recalled it. He knew that he must be intoxicated; that the
sentiment and language were utterly unlike him, he was miserably
aware; that he did not even know exactly what it meant, he was also
hopelessly conscious. Yet feeling all this,--feeling, too, the
shame of appearing before her as a man who had lost his senses
through a single glass of wine,--nevertheless he rose awkwardly,
seized her hand, and by sheer force drew her towards him, and
kissed her. With an exclamation that was half a cry and half a
laugh, she fled from him, leaving him alone and bewildered on the
For a moment Mr. Clinch supported himself against the open window,
leaning his throbbing head on the cold glass. Shame, mortification,
an hysterical half-consciousness of his utter ridiculousness, and
yet an odd, undefined terror of something, by turns possessed him.
Was he ever before guilty of such perfect folly? Had he ever before
made such a spectacle of himself? Was it possible that he, Mr.
James Clinch, the coolest head at a late supper,--he, the American,
who had repeatedly drunk Frenchmen and Englishmen under the
table--could be transformed into a sentimental, stagey idiot by a
single glass of wine? He was conscious, too, of asking himself
these very questions in a stilted sort of rhetoric, and with a
rising brutality of anger that was new to him. And then everything
swam before him, and he seemed to lose all consciousness.
But only for an instant. With a strong effort of his will he again
recalled himself, his situation, his surroundings, and, above all,
his appointment. He rose to his feet, hurriedly descended the
terrace-steps, and, before he well knew how, found himself again on
the road. Once there, his faculties returned in full vigor; he was
again himself. He strode briskly forward toward the ditch he had
crossed only a few moments before, but was suddenly stopped. It
was filled with water. He looked up and down. It was clearly the
same ditch; but a flowing stream thirty feet wide now separated him
from the other bank.
The appearance of this unlooked-for obstacle made Mr. Clinch doubt
the full restoration of his faculties. He stepped to the brink of
the flood to bathe his head in the stream, and wash away the last
vestiges of his potations. But as he approached the placid depths,
and knelt down he again started back, and this time with a full
conviction of his own madness; for reflected from its mirror-like
surface was a figure he could scarcely call his own, although here
and there some trace of his former self remained.
His close-cropped hair, trimmed a la mode, had given way to long,
curling locks that dropped upon his shoulders. His neat mustache
was frightfully prolonged, and curled up at the ends stiffly. His
Piccadilly collar had changed shape and texture, and reached--a
mass of lace--to a point midway of his breast! His boots,--why had
he not noticed his boots before?--these triumphs of his Parisian
bootmaker, were lost in hideous leathern cases that reached half
way up his thighs. In place of his former high silk hat, there lay
upon the ground beside him the awful thing he had just taken off,--
a mass of thickened felt, flap, feather, and buckle that weighed at
least a stone.
A single terrible idea now took possession of him. He had been
"sold," "taken in," "done for." He saw it all. In a state of
intoxication he had lost his way, had been dragged into some vile
den, stripped of his clothes and valuables, and turned adrift upon
the quiet town in this shameless masquerade. How should he keep
his appointment? how inform the police of this outrage upon a
stranger and an American citizen? how establish his identity? Had
they spared his papers? He felt feverishly in his breast. Ah!--
his watch? Yes, a watch--heavy, jewelled, enamelled--and, by all
that was ridiculous, FIVE OTHERS! He ran his hands into his
capacious trunk hose. What was this? Brooches, chains, finger-
rings,--one large episcopal one,--ear-rings, and a handful of
battered gold and silver coins. His papers, his memorandums, his
passport--all proofs of his identity--were gone! In their place
was the unmistakable omnium gatherum of an accomplished knight of
the road. Not only was his personality, but his character, gone
It was a part of Mr. Clinch's singular experience that this last
stroke of ill fortune seemed to revive in him something of the
brutal instinct he had felt a moment before. He turned eagerly
about with the intention of calling some one--the first person he
met--to account. But the house that he had just quitted was gone.
The wall! Ah, there it was, no longer purposeless, intrusive, and
ivy-clad, but part of the buttress of another massive wall that
rose into battlements above him. Mr. Clinch turned again
hopelessly toward Sammtstadt. There was the fringe of poplars on
the Rhine, there were the outlying fields lit by the same meridian
sun; but the characteristic chimneys of Sammtstadt were gone. Mr.
Clinch was hopelessly lost.
The sound of a horn breaking the stillness recalled his senses. He
now for the first time perceived that a little distance below him,
partly hidden in the trees, was a queer, tower-shaped structure
with chains and pulleys, that in some strange way recalled his
boyish reading. A drawbridge and portcullis! And on the
battlement a figure in a masquerading dress as absurd as his own,
flourishing a banner and trumpet, and trying to attract his
"Was wollen Sie?"
"I want to see the proprietor," said Mr. Clinch, choking back his
There was a pause, and the figure turned apparently to consult with
some one behind the battlements. After a moment he reappeared, and
in a perfunctory monotone, with an occasional breathing spell on
the trumpet, began,--
"You do give warranty as a good knight and true, as well as by the
bones of the blessed St. Ursula, that you bear no ill will, secret
enmity, wicked misprise or conspiracy, against the body of our
noble lord and master Von Kolnsche? And you bring with you no
ambush, siege, or surprise of retainers, neither secret warrant nor
lettres de cachet, nor carry on your knightly person poisoned
dagger, magic ring, witch-powder, nor enchanted bullet, and that
you have entered into no unhallowed alliance with the Prince of
Darkness, gnomes, hexies, dragons, Undines, Loreleis, nor the
"Come down out of that, you d----d old fool!" roared Mr. Clinch,
now perfectly beside himself with rage,--"come down, and let me
As Mr. Clinch shouted out the last words, confused cries of
recognition and welcome, not unmixed with some consternation, rose
from the battlements: "Ach Gott!" "Mutter Gott--it is he! It is
Jann, Der Wanderer. It is himself." The chains rattled, the
ponderous drawbridge creaked and dropped; and across it a medley of
motley figures rushed pellmell. But, foremost among them, the very
maiden whom he had left not ten minutes before flew into his arms,
and with a cry of joyful greeting sank upon his breast. Mr. Clinch
looked down upon the fair head and long braids. It certainly was
the same maiden, his cruel enchantress; but where did she get those
"Willkommen," said a stout figure, advancing with some authority,
and seizing his disengaged hand, "where hast thou been so long?"
Mr. Clinch, by no means placated, coldly dropped the extended hand.
It was NOT the proprietor he had known. But there was a singular
resemblance in his face to some one of Mr. Clinch's own kin; but
who, he could not remember. "May I take the liberty of asking your
name?" he asked coldly.
The figure grinned. "Surely; but, if thou standest upon punctilio,
it is for ME to ask thine, most noble Freiherr," said he, winking
upon his retainers. "Whom have I the honor of entertaining?"
"My name is Clinch,--James Clinch of Chicago, Ill."
A shout of laughter followed. In the midst of his rage and
mortification Mr. Clinch fancied he saw a shade of pain and
annoyance flit across the face of the maiden. He was puzzled, but
pressed her hand, in spite of his late experiences, reassuringly.
She made a gesture of silence to him, and then slipped away in the
"Schames K'l'n'sche von Schekargo," mimicked the figure, to the
unspeakable delight of his retainers. "So! THAT is the latest
French style. Holy St. Ursula! Hark ye, nephew! I am not a
travelled man. Since the Crusades we simple Rhine gentlemen have
staid at home. But I call myself Kolnsche of Koln, at your
"Very likely you are right," said Mr. Clinch hotly, disregarding
the caution of his fair companion; "but, whoever YOU are, I am a
stranger entitled to protection. I have been robbed."
If Mr. Clinch had uttered an exquisite joke instead of a very angry
statement, it could not have been more hilariously received. He
paused, grew confused, and then went on hesitatingly,--
"In place of my papers and credentials I find only these." And he
produced the jewelry from his pockets.
Another shout of laughter and clapping of hands followed this
second speech; and the baron, with a wink at his retainers,
prolonged the general mirth by saying, "By the way, nephew, there
is little doubt but there has been robbery--somewhere."
"It was done," continued Mr. Clinch, hurrying to make an end of his
explanation, "while I was inadvertently overcome with liquor,--
The laughter here was so uproarious that the baron, albeit with
tears of laughter in his own eyes, made a peremptory gesture of
silence. The gesture was peculiar to the baron, efficacious and
simple. It consisted merely in knocking down the nearest laugher.
Having thus restored tranquillity, he strode forward, and took Mr.
Clinch by the hand. "By St. Adolph, I did doubt thee a moment ago,
nephew; but this last frank confession of thine shows me I did thee
wrong. Willkommen zu Hause, Jann, drunk or sober, willcommen zu
More and more mystified, but convinced of the folly of any further
explanation, Mr. Clinch took the extended hand of his alleged
uncle, and permitted himself to be led into the castle. They
passed into a large banqueting-hall adorned with armor and
implements of the chase. Mr. Clinch could not help noticing, that,
although the appointments were liberal and picturesque, the
ventilation was bad, and the smoke from the huge chimney made the
air murky. The oaken tables, massive in carving and rich in color,
were unmistakably greasy; and Mr. Clinch slipped on a piece of meat
that one of the dozen half-wild dogs who were occupying the room
was tearing on the floor. The dog, yelping, ran between the legs
of a retainer, precipitating him upon the baron, who instantly,
with the "equal foot" of fate, kicked him and the dog into a
"And whence came you last?" asked the baron, disregarding the
little contretemps, and throwing himself heavily on an oaken
settle, while he pushed a queer, uncomfortable-looking stool, with
legs like a Siamese-twin-connected double X, towards his companion.
Mr. Clinch, who had quite given himself up to fate, answered
The baron winked his eye with unutterable, elderly wickedness.
"Ach Gott! it is nothing to what it was when I was your age. Ah!
there was Manon,--Sieur Manon we used to call her. I suppose she's
getting old now. How goes on the feud between the students and the
citizens? Eh? Did you go to the bal in la Cite?"
Mr. Clinch stopped the flow of those Justice-Shallow-like
reminiscences by an uneasy exclamation. He was thinking of the
maiden who had disappeared so suddenly. The baron misinterpreted
his nervousness. "What ho, within there!--Max, Wolfgang,--lazy
rascals! Bring some wine."
At the baleful word Mr. Clinch started to his feet. "Not for me!
Bring me none of your body-and-soul-destroying poison! I've enough
The baron stared. The servitors stared also.
"I beg your pardon," said Mr. Clinch, recalling himself slowly;
"but I fear that Rhine wine does not agree with me."
The baron grinned. Perceiving, however, that the three servitors
grinned also, he kicked two of them into obscurity, and felled the
third to the floor with his fist. "Hark ye, nephew," he said,
turning to the astonished Clinch, "give over this nonsense! By the
mitre of Bishop Hatto, thou art as big a fool as he!"
"Hatto," repeated Clinch mechanically. "What! he of the Mouse
"Ay, of the Mouse Tower!" sneered the baron. "I see you know the
"Why am I like him?" asked Mr. Clinch in amazement.
The baron grinned. "HE punished the Rhenish wine as thou dost,
without judgment. He had--"
"The jim-jams," said Mr. Clinch mechanically again.
The baron frowned. "I know not what gibberish thou sayest by 'jim-
jams'; but he had, like thee, the wildest fantasies and imaginings;
saw snakes, toads, rats, in his boots, but principally rats; said
they pursued him, came to his room, his bed--ach Gott!"
"Oh!" said Mr. Clinch, with a sudden return to his firmer self and
his native inquiring habits; "then THAT is the fact about Bishop
Hatto of the story?"
"His enemies made it the subject of a vile slander of an old friend
of mine," said the baron; "and those cursed poets, who believe
everything, and then persuade others to do so,--may the Devil fly
away with them!--kept it up."
Here were facts quite to Mr. Clinch's sceptical mind. He forgot
himself and his surroundings.
"And that story of the Drachenfels?" he asked insinuatingly,--"the
dragon, you know. Was he too--"
The baron grinned. "A boar transformed by the drunken brains of
the Bauers of the Siebengebirge. Ach Gott! Ottefried had many a
hearty laugh over it; and it did him, as thou knowest, good service
with the nervous mother of the silly maiden."
"And the seven sisters of Schonberg?" asked Mr. Clinch persuasively.
"'Schonberg! Seven sisters!' What of them?" demanded the baron
"Why, you know,--the maidens who were so coy to their suitors, and--
don't you remember?--jumped into the Rhine to avoid them."
"'Coy? Jumped into the Rhine to avoid suitors'?" roared the baron,
purple with rage. "Hark ye, nephew! I like not this jesting.
Thou knowest I married one of the Schonberg girls, as did thy
father. How 'coy' they were is neither here nor there; but mayhap
WE might tell another story. Thy father, as weak a fellow as thou
art where a petticoat is concerned, could not as a gentleman do
other than he did. And THIS is his reward? Ach Gott! 'Coy!' And
THIS, I warrant, is the way the story is delivered in Paris."
Mr. Clinch would have answered that this was the way he read it in
a guidebook, but checked himself at the hopelessness of the
explanation. Besides, he was on the eve of historic information;
he was, as it were, interviewing the past; and, whether he would
ever be able to profit by the opportunity or not, he could not bear
to lose it. "And how about the Lorelei--is she, too, a fiction?"
he asked glibly.
"It was said," observed the baron sardonically, "that when thou
disappeared with the gamekeeper's daughter at Obercassel--Heaven
knows where!--thou wast swallowed up in a whirlpool with some
creature. Ach Gott! I believe it! But a truce to this
balderdash. And so thou wantest to know of the 'coy' sisters of
Schoenberg? Hark ye, Jann, that cousin of thine is a Schonberg.
Call you her 'coy'? Did I not see thy greeting? Eh? By St.
Adolph, knowing thee as she does to be robber and thief, call you
her greeting 'coy'?"
Furious as Mr. Clinch inwardly became under these epithets, he felt
that his explanation would hardly relieve the maiden from deceit,
or himself from weakness. But out of his very perplexity and
turmoil a bright idea was born. He turned to the baron,--
"Then you have no faith in the Rhine legends?"
The baron only replied with a contemptuous shrug of his shoulders.
"But what if I told you a new one?"
"Yes; a part of my experience?"
The baron was curious. It was early in the afternoon, just after
dinner. He might be worse bored.
"I've only one condition," added Mr. Clinch: "the young lady--I
mean, of course, my cousin--must hear it too."
"Oh, ay! I see. Of course--the old trick! Well, call the jade.
But mark ye, Sir Nephew, no enchanted maidens and knights. Keep to
thyself. Be as thou art, vagabond Jann Kolnische, knight of the
road.--What ho there, scoundrels! Call the Lady Wilhemina."
It was the first time Mr. Clinch had heard his fair friend's name;
but it was not, evidently, the first time she had seen him, as the
very decided wink the gentle maiden dropped him testified.
Nevertheless, with hands lightly clasped together, and downcast
eyes, she stood before them.
Mr. Clinch began. Without heeding the baron's scornful grin, he
graphically described his meeting, two years before, with a
Lorelei, her usual pressing invitation, and his subsequent plunge
into the Rhine.
"I am free to confess," added Mr. Clinch, with an affecting glance
to Wilhelmina, "that I was not enamoured of the graces of the lady,
but was actuated by my desire to travel, and explore hitherto
unknown regions. I wished to travel, to visit--"
"Paris," interrupted the baron sarcastically.
"America," continued Mr. Clinch.
"'Tis a gnome-like sounding name, this Meriker. Go on, nephew:
tell us of Meriker."
With the characteristic fluency of his nation, Mr. Clinch described
his landing on those enchanted shores, viz, the Rhine Whirlpool and
Hell Gate, East River, New York. He described the railways, tram-
ways, telegraphs, hotels, phonograph, and telephone. An occasional
oath broke from the baron, but he listened attentively; and in a
few moments Mr. Clinch had the raconteur's satisfaction of seeing
the vast hall slowly filling with open-eyed and open-mouthed
retainers hanging upon his words. Mr. Clinch went on to describe
his astonishment at meeting on these very shores some of his own
blood and kin. "In fact," said Mr. Clinch, "here were a race
calling themselves 'Clinch,' but all claiming to have descended
"And how?" sneered the baron.
"Through James Kolnische and Wilhelmina his wife," returned Mr.
Clinch boldly. "They emigrated from Koln and Crefeld to
Philadelphia, where there is a quarter named Crefeld." Mr. Clinch
felt himself shaky as to his chronology, but wisely remembered that
it was a chronology of the future to his hearers, and they could
not detect an anachronism. With his eyes fixed upon those of the
gentle Wilhelmina, Mr. Clinch now proceeded to describe his return
to his fatherland, but his astonishment at finding the very face of
the country changed, and a city standing on those fields he had
played in as a boy; and how he had wandered hopelessly on, until he
at last sat wearily down in a humble cottage built upon the ruins
of a lordly castle. "So utterly travel-worn and weak had I
become," said Mr. Clinch, with adroitly simulated pathos, "that a
single glass of wine offered me by the simple cottage maiden
affected me like a prolonged debauch."
A long-drawn snore was all that followed this affecting climax.
The baron was asleep; the retainers were also asleep. Only one
pair of eyes remained open,--arch, luminous, blue,--Wilhelmina's.
"There is a subterranean passage below us to Linn. Let us fly!"
"They always do it in the legends," she murmured modestly.
"But your father?"
"He sleeps. Do you not hear him?"
Certainly somebody was snoring. But, oddly enough, it seemed to be
Wilhelmina. Mr. Clinch suggested this to her.
"Fool, it is yourself!"
Mr. Clinch, struck with the idea, stopped to consider. She was
right. It certainly WAS himself.
With a struggle he awoke. The sun was shining. The maiden was
looking at him. But the castle--the castle was gone!
"You have slept well," said the maiden archly. "Everybody does
after dinner at Sammtstadt. Father has just awakened, and is
Mr. Clinch stared at the maiden, at the terrace, at the sky, at the
distant chimneys of Sammtstadt, at the more distant Rhine, at the
table before him, and finally at the empty glass. The maiden
smiled. "Tell me," said Mr. Clinch, looking in her eyes, "is there
a secret passage underground between this place and the Castle of
"An underground passage?"
"Ay--whence the daughter of the house fled with a stranger knight."
"They say there is," said the maiden, with a gentle blush.
"Can you show it to me?"
She hesitated. "Papa is coming: I'll ask him."
I presume she did. At least the Herr Consul at Sammtstadt informs
me of a marriage-certificate issued to one Clinch of Chicago, and
Kolnische of Koln; and there is an amusing story extant in the
Verein at Sammtstadt, of an American connoisseur of Rhine wines,
who mistook a flask of Cognac and rock-candy, used for "craftily
qualifying" lower grades of wine to the American standard, for the
VIEWS FROM A GERMAN SPION
Outside of my window, two narrow perpendicular mirrors, parallel
with the casement, project into the street, yet with a certain
unobtrusiveness of angle that enables them to reflect the people
who pass, without any reciprocal disclosure of their own. The men
and women hurrying by not only do not know they are observed, but,
what is worse, do not even see their own reflection in this
hypocritical plane, and are consequently unable, through its aid,
to correct any carelessness of garb, gait, or demeanor. At first
this seems to be taking an unfair advantage of the human animal,
who invariably assumes an attitude when he is conscious of being
under human focus. But I observe that my neighbors' windows, right
and left, have a similar apparatus, that this custom is evidently a
local one, and the locality is German. Being an American stranger,
I am quite willing to leave the morality of the transaction with
the locality, and adapt myself to the custom: indeed, I had thought
of offering it, figuratively, as an excuse for any unfairness of
observation I might make in these pages. But my German mirrors
reflect without prejudice, selection, or comment; and the American
eye, I fear, is but mortal, and like all mortal eyes, figuratively
as well as in that literal fact noted by an eminent scientific
authority, infinitely inferior to the work of the best German
And this leads me to my first observation, namely, that a majority
of those who pass my mirror have weak eyes, and have already
invoked the aid of the optician. Why are these people, physically
in all else so much stronger than my countrymen, deficient in
eyesight? Or, to omit the passing testimony of my Spion, and take
my own personal experience, why does my young friend Max, brightest
of all schoolboys, who already wears the cap that denotes the
highest class,--why does he shock me by suddenly drawing forth a
pair of spectacles, that upon his fresh, rosy face would be an
obvious mocking imitation of the Herr Papa--if German children
could ever, by any possibility, be irreverent? Or why does the
Fraulein Marie, his sister, pink as Aurora, round as Hebe, suddenly
veil her blue eyes with a golden lorgnette in the midst of our
polyglot conversation? Is it to evade the direct, admiring glance
of the impulsive American? Dare I say NO? Dare I say that that
frank, clear, honest, earnest return of the eye, which has on the
Continent most unfairly brought my fair countrywomen under
criticism, is quite as common to her more carefully-guarded,
tradition-hedged German sisters? No, it is not that. Is it any
thing in these emerald and opal tinted skies, which seem so unreal
to the American eye, and for the first time explain what seemed the
unreality of German art? in these mysterious yet restful Rhine
fogs, which prolong the twilight, and hang the curtain of romance
even over mid-day? Surely not. Is it not rather, O Herr Professor
profound in analogy and philosophy!--is it not rather this
abominable black-letter, this elsewhere-discarded, uncouth, slowly-
decaying text known as the German Alphabet, that plucks out the
bright eyes of youth, and bristles the gateways of your language
with a chevaux de frise of splintered rubbish? Why must I hesitate
whether it is an accident of the printer's press, or the poor
quality of the paper, that makes this letter a "k" or a "t"? Why
must I halt in an emotion or a thought because "s" and "f" are so
nearly alike? Is it not enough that I, an impulsive American,
accustomed to do a thing first, and reflect upon it afterwards,
must grope my way through a blind alley of substantives and
adjectives, only to find the verb of action in an obscure corner,
without ruining my eyesight in the groping?
But I dismiss these abstract reflections for a fresh and active
resentment. This is the fifth or sixth dog that has passed my
Spion, harnessed to a small barrow-like cart, and tugging painfully
at a burden so ludicrously disproportionate to his size, that it
would seem a burlesque, but for the poor dog's sad sincerity.
Perhaps it is because I have the barbarian's fondness for dogs, and
for their lawless, gentle, loving uselessness, that I rebel against
this unnatural servitude. It seems as monstrous as if a child were
put between the shafts, and made to carry burdens; and I have come
to regard those men and women, who in the weakest perfunctory way
affect to aid the poor brute by laying idle hands on the barrow
behind, as I would unnatural parents. Pegasus harnessed to the
Thracian herdsman's plough was no more of a desecration. I fancy
the poor dog seems to feel the monstrosity of the performance, and,
in sheer shame for his master, forgivingly tries to assume it is
PLAY; and I have seen a little "colley" running along, barking, and
endeavoring to leap and gambol in the shafts, before a load that
any one out of this locality would have thought the direst cruelty.
Nor do the older or more powerful dogs seem to become accustomed to
it. When his cruel taskmaster halts with his wares, instantly the
dog, either by sitting down in his harness, or crawling over the
shafts, or by some unmistakable dog-like trick, utterly scatters
any such delusion of even the habit of servitude. The few of his
race who do not work in this ducal city seem to have lost their
democratic canine sympathies, and look upon him with something of
that indifferent calm with which yonder officer eyes the road-
mender in the ditch below him. He loses even the characteristics
of species. The common cur and mastiff look alike in harness. The
burden levels all distinctions. I have said that he was generally
sincere in his efforts. I recall but one instance to the contrary.
I remember a young colley who first attracted my attention by his
persistent barking. Whether he did this, as the plough-boy
whistled, "for want of thought," or whether it was a running
protest against his occupation, I could not determine, until one
day I noticed, that, in barking, he slightly threw up his neck and
shoulders, and that the two-wheeled barrow-like vehicle behind him,
having its weight evenly poised on the wheels by the trucks in the
hands of its driver, enabled him by this movement to cunningly
throw the center of gravity and the greater weight on the man,--a
fact which that less sagacious brute never discerned. Perhaps I am
using a strong expression regarding his driver. It may be that the
purely animal wants of the dog, in the way of food, care, and
shelter, are more bountifully supplied in servitude than in
freedom; becoming a valuable and useful property, he may be cared
for and protected as such (an odd recollection that this argument
had been used forcibly in regard to human slavery in my own country
strikes me here); but his picturesqueness and poetry are gone, and
I cannot help thinking that the people who have lost this gentle,
sympathetic, characteristic figure from their domestic life and
surroundings have not acquired an equal gain through his harsh
To the American eye there is, throughout the length and breadth of
this foreign city, no more notable and striking object than the
average German house-servant. It is not that she has passed my
Spion a dozen times within the last hour,--for here she is
messenger, porter, and commissionnaire, as well as housemaid and
cook,--but that she is always a phenomenon to the American
stranger, accustomed to be abused in his own country by his foreign
Irish handmaiden. Her presence is as refreshing and grateful as
the morning light, and as inevitable and regular. When I add that
with the novelty of being well served is combined the satisfaction
of knowing that you have in your household an intelligent being who
reads and writes with fluency, and yet does not abstract your
books, nor criticise your literary composition; who is cleanly
clad, and neat in her person, without the suspicion of having
borrowed her mistress's dresses; who may be good-looking without
the least imputation of coquetry or addition to her followers; who
is obedient without servility, polite without flattery, willing and
replete with supererogatory performance, without the expectation of
immediate pecuniary return, what wonder that the American
householder translated into German life feels himself in a new Eden
of domestic possibilities unrealized in any other country, and
begins to believe in a present and future of domestic happiness!
What wonder that the American bachelor living in German lodgings
feels half the terrors of the conjugal future removed, and rushes
madly into love--and housekeeping! What wonder that I, a long-
suffering and patient master, who have been served by the reticent
but too imitative Chinaman; who have been "Massa" to the childlike
but untruthful negro; who have been the recipient of the brotherly
but uncertain ministrations of the South-Sea Islander, and have
been proudly disregarded by the American aborigine, only in due
time to meet the fate of my countrymen at the hands of Bridget the
Celt,--what wonder that I gladly seize this opportunity to sing the
praises of my German handmaid! Honor to thee, Lenchen, wherever
thou goest! Heaven bless thee in thy walks abroad! whether with
that tightly-booted cavalryman in thy Sunday gown and best, or in
blue polka-dotted apron and bare head as thou trottest nimbly on
mine errands,--errands which Bridget o'Flaherty would scorn to
undertake, or, undertaking, would hopelessly blunder in. Heaven
bless thee, child, in thy early risings and in thy later sittings,
at thy festive board overflowing with Essig and Fett, in the
mysteries of thy Kuchen, in the fulness of thy Bier, and in thy
nightly suffocations beneath mountainous and multitudinous
feathers! Good, honest, simple-minded, cheerful, duty-loving
Lenchen! Have not thy brothers, strong and dutiful as thou, lent
their gravity and earnestness to sweeten and strengthen the fierce
youth of the Republic beyond the seas? and shall not thy children
inherit the broad prairies that still wait for them, and discover
the fatness thereof, and send a portion transmuted in glittering
shekels back to thee?
Almost as notable are the children whose round faces have as
frequently been reflected in my Spion. Whether it is only a fancy
of mine that the average German retains longer than any other race
his childish simplicity and unconsciousness, or whether it is
because I am more accustomed to the extreme self-assertion and
early maturity of American children, I know not; but I am inclined
to believe that among no other people is childhood as perennial,
and to be studied in such characteristic and quaint and simple
phases as here. The picturesqueness of Spanish and Italian
childhood has a faint suspicion of the pantomime and the conscious
attitudinizing of the Latin races. German children are not
exuberant or volatile: they are serious,--a seriousness, however,
not to be confounded with the grave reflectiveness of age, but only
the abstract wonderment of childhood; for all those who have made a
loving study of the young human animal will, I think, admit that
its dominant expression is GRAVITY, and not playfulness, and will
be satisfied that he erred pitifully who first ascribed "light-
heartedness" and "thoughtlessness" as part of its phenomena. These
little creatures I meet upon the street,--whether in quaint wooden
shoes and short woollen petticoats, or neatly booted and furred,
with school knapsacks jauntily borne upon little square shoulders,--
all carry likewise in their round chubby faces their profound
wonderment and astonishment at the big busy world into which they
have so lately strayed. If I stop to speak with this little maid
who scarcely reaches to the top-boots of yonder cavalry officer,
there is less of bashful self-consciousness in her sweet little
face than of grave wonder at the foreign accent and strange ways of
this new figure obtruded upon her limited horizon. She answers
honestly, frankly, prettily, but gravely. There is a remote
possibility that I might bite; and, with this suspicion plainly
indicated in her round blue eyes, she quietly slips her little red
hand from mine, and moves solemnly away. I remember once to have
stopped in the street with a fair countrywoman of mine to
interrogate a little figure in sabots,--the one quaint object in
the long, formal perspective of narrow, gray bastard-Italian
facaded houses of a Rhenish German Strasse. The sweet little
figure wore a dark-blue woollen petticoat that came to its knees;
gray woollen stockings covered the shapely little limbs below; and
its very blonde hair, the color of a bright dandelion, was tied in
a pathetic little knot at the back of its round head, and garnished
with an absurd green ribbon. Now, although this gentlewoman's
sympathies were catholic and universal, unfortunately their
expression was limited to her own mother-tongue. She could not
help pouring out upon the child the maternal love that was in her
own womanly breast, nor could she withhold the "baby-talk" through
which it was expressed. But, alas! it was in English. Hence
ensued a colloquy, tender and extravagant on the part of the elder,
grave and wondering on the part of the child. But the lady had a
natural feminine desire for reciprocity, particularly in the
presence of our emotion-scorning sex, and as a last resource she
emptied the small silver of her purse into the lap of the coy
maiden. It was a declaration of love, susceptible of translation
at the nearest cake-shop. But the little maid, whose dress and
manner certainly did not betray an habitual disregard of gifts of
this kind, looked at the coin thoughtfully, but not regretfully.
Some innate sense of duty, equally strong with that of being polite
to strangers, filled her consciousness. With the utterly
unexpected remark that her father 'did not allow her to take money',
the queer little figure moved away, leaving the two Americans
covered with mortification. The rare American child who could have
done this would have done it with an attitude. This little German
bourgeoise did it naturally. I do not intend to rush to the
deduction that German children of the lower classes habitually
refuse pecuniary gratuities: indeed, I remember to have wickedly
suggested to my companion, that, to avoid impoverishment in a
foreign land, she should not repeat the story nor the experiment.
But I simply offer it as a fact, and to an American, at home or
abroad, a novel one.
I owe to these little figures another experience quite as strange.
It was at the close of a dull winter's day,--a day from which all
out-of-door festivity seemed to be naturally excluded: there was a
baleful promise of snow in the air and a dismal reminiscence of it
under foot, when suddenly, in striking contrast with the dreadful
bleakness of the street, a half dozen children, masked and
bedizened with cheap ribbons, spangles, and embroidery, flashed
across my Spion. I was quick to understand the phenomenon. It was
the Carnival season. Only the night before I had been to the great
opening masquerade,--a famous affair, for which this art-loving
city is noted, and to which strangers are drawn from all parts of
the Continent. I remember to have wondered if the pleasure-loving
German in America had not broken some of his conventional shackles
in emigration; for certainly I had found the Carnival balls of the
"Lieder Kranz Society" in New York, although decorous and
fashionable to the American taste, to be wild dissipations compared
with the practical seriousness of this native performance, and I
hailed the presence of these children in the open street as a
promise of some extravagance, real, untrammelled, and characteristic.
I seized my hat and--OVERCOAT,--a dreadful incongruity to the
spangles that had whisked by, and followed the vanishing figures
round the corner. Here they were re-enforced by a dozen men and
women, fantastically, but not expensively arrayed, looking not
unlike the supernumeraries of some provincial opera troupe.
Following the crowd, which already began to pour in from the
side-streets, in a few moments I was in the broad, grove-like allee,
and in the midst of the masqueraders.
I remember to have been told that this was a characteristic annual
celebration of the lower classes, anticipated with eagerness, and
achieved with difficulty, indeed, often only through the
alternative of pawning clothing and furniture to provide the means
for this ephemeral transformation. I remember being warned, also,
that the buffoonery was coarse, and some of the slang hardly fit
for "ears polite." But I am afraid that I was not shocked at the
prodigality of these poor people, who purchased a holiday on such
hard conditions; and, as to the coarseness of the performance, I
felt that I certainly might go where these children could.
At first the masquerading figures appeared to be mainly composed of
young girls of ages varying from nine to eighteen. Their costumes--
if what was often only the addition of a broad, bright-colored
stripe to the hem of a short dress could be called a COSTUME--were
plain, and seemed to indicate no particular historical epoch or
character. A general suggestion of the peasant's holiday attire
was dominant in all the costumes. Everybody was closely masked.
All carried a short, gayly-striped baton of split wood, called a
Pritsche, which, when struck sharply on the back or shoulders of
some spectator or sister-masker, emitted a clattering, rasping
sound. To wander hand in hand down this broad allee, to strike
almost mechanically, and often monotonously, at each other with
their batons, seemed to be the extent of that wild dissipation.
The crowd thickened. Young men with false noses, hideous masks,
cheap black or red cotton dominoes, soldiers in uniform, crowded
past each other, up and down the promenade, all carrying a
Pritsche, and exchanging blows with each other, but always with the
same slow seriousness of demeanor, which, with their silence, gave
the performance the effect of a religious rite. Occasionally some
one shouted: perhaps a dozen young fellows broke out in song; but
the shout was provocative of nothing, the song faltered as if the
singers were frightened at their own voices. One blithe fellow,
with a bear's head on his fur-capped shoulders, began to dance;
but, on the crowd stopping to observe him seriously, he apparently
thought better of it, and slipped away. Nevertheless, the solemn
beating of Pritschen over each other's backs went on. I remember
that I was followed the whole length of the allee by a little girl
scarcely twelve years old, in a bright striped skirt and black
mask, who from time to time struck me over the shoulders with a
regularity and sad persistency that was peculiarly irresistible to
me; the more so, as I could not help thinking that it was not half
as amusing to herself. Once only did the ordinary brusque
gallantry of the Carnival spirit show itself. A man with an
enormous pair of horns, like a half-civilized satyr, suddenly
seized a young girl and endeavored to kiss her. A slight struggle
ensued, in which I fancied I detected in the girl's face and manner
the confusion and embarrassment of one who was obliged to overlook,
or seem to accept, a familiarity that was distasteful, rather than
be laughed at for prudishness or ignorance. But the incident was
exceptional. Indeed, it was particularly notable to my American
eyes to find such decorum where there might easily have been the
greatest license. I am afraid that an American mob of this class
would have scarcely been as orderly and civil under the
circumstances. They might have shown more humor; but there would
have probably been more effrontery: they might have been more
exuberant; they would certainly have been drunker. I did not
notice a single masquerader unduly excited by liquor: there was not
a word or motion from the lighter sex that could have been
construed into an impropriety. There was something almost pathetic
to me in this attempt to wrest gayety and excitement out of these
dull materials; to fight against the blackness of that wintry sky,
and the stubborn hardness of the frozen soil, with these painted
sticks of wood; to mock the dreariness of their poverty with these
flaunting raiments. It did not seem like them, or rather,
consistent with my idea of them. There was incongruity deeper than
their bizarre externals; a half-melancholy, half-crazy absurdity in
their action, the substitution of a grim spasmodic frenzy for
levity, that rightly or wrongly impressed me. When the increasing
gloom of the evening made their figures undistinguishable, I turned
into the first cross-street. As I lifted my hat to my persistent
young friend with the Pritsche, I fancied she looked as relieved as
myself. If, however, I was mistaken; if that child's pathway
through life be strewn with rosy recollections of the unresisting
back of the stranger American; if any burden, O Gretchen! laid upon
thy young shoulders, be lighter for the trifling one thou didst lay
upon mine,--know, then, that I, too, am content.
And so, day by day, has my Spion reflected the various changing
forms of life before it. It has seen the first flush of spring in
the broad allee, when the shadows of tiny leaflets overhead were
beginning to checker the cool, square flagstones. It has seen the
glare and fulness of summer sunshine and shadow, the flying of
November gold through the air, the gaunt limbs, and stark, rigid,
death-like whiteness of winter. It has seen children in their
queer, wicker baby-carriages, old men and women, and occasionally
that grim usher of death, in sable cloak and cocked hat,--a baleful
figure for the wandering invalid tourist to meet,--who acts as
undertaker for this ducal city, and marshals the last melancholy
procession. I well remember my first meeting with this ominous
functionary. It was an early autumnal morning; so early, that the
long formal perspective of the allee, and the decorous, smooth
vanishing-lines of cream-and-gray fronted houses, were unrelieved
by a single human figure. Suddenly a tall black spectre, as
theatrical and as unreal as the painted scenic distance, turned the
corner from a cross-street, and moved slowly towards me. A long
black cloak, falling from its shoulders to its feet, floated out on
either side like sable wings; a cocked hat trimmed with crape, and
surmounted by a hearse-like feather, covered a passionless face;
and its eyes, looking neither left nor right, were fixed fatefully
upon some distant goal. Stranger as I was to this Continental
ceremonial figure, there was no mistaking his functions as the grim
messenger, knocking "with equal foot" on every door; and, indeed,
so perfectly did he act and look his role, that there was nothing
ludicrous in the extraordinary spectacle. Facial expression and
dignity of bearing were perfect; the whole man seemed saturated
with the accepted sentiment of his office. Recalling the half-
confused and half-conscious ostentatious hypocrisy of the American
sexton, the shameless absurdities of the English mutes and
mourners, I could not help feeling, that, if it were demanded that
Grief and Fate should be personified, it were better that it should
be well done. And it is one observation of my Spion, that this
sincerity and belief is the characteristic of all Continental
It is possible that my Spion has shown me little that is really
characteristic of the people, and the few observations I have made
I offer only as an illustration of the impressions made upon two-
thirds of American strangers in the larger towns of Germany.
Assimilation goes on more rapidly than we are led to imagine. As I
have seen my friend Karl, fresh and awkward in his first uniform,
lounging later down the allee with the blase listlessness of a
full-blown militaire, so I have seen American and English residents
gradually lose their peculiarities, and melt and merge into the
general mass. Returning to my Spion after a flying trip through
Belgium and France, as I look down the long perspective of the
Strasse, I am conscious of recalling the same style of architecture
and humanity at Aachen, Brussels, Lille, and Paris, and am inclined
to believe that, even as I would have met, in a journey of the same
distance through a parallel of the same latitude in America, a
greater diversity of type and character, and a more distinct flavor
of locality, even so would I have met a more heterogeneous and
picturesque display from a club window on Fifth Avenue, New York,
or Montgomery Street, San Francisco.