Part 1 out of 3
This etext was produced by David Widger
[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks at the end of this file
for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making
an entire meal of them. D.W.]
THEIR SILVER WEDDING JOURNEY
They found Burnamy expecting them at the station in Carlsbad, and she
scolded him like a mother for taking the trouble to meet them, while she
kept back for the present any sign of knowing that he had staid over a
day with the Triscoes in Leipsic. He was as affectionately glad to see
her and her husband as she could have wished, but she would have liked it
better if he had owned up at once about Leipsic. He did not, and it
seemed to her that he was holding her at arm's-length in his answers
about his employer. He would not say how he liked his work, or how he
liked Mr. Stoller; he merely said that they were at Pupp's together, and
that he had got in a good day's work already; and since he would say no
more, she contented herself with that.
The long drive from the station to the hotel was by streets that wound
down the hill-side like those of an Italian mountain town, between gay
stuccoed houses, of Southern rather than of Northern architecture; and
the impression of a Latin country was heightened at a turn of the road
which brought into view a colossal crucifix planted against a curtain of
dark green foliage on the brow of one of the wooded heights that
surrounded Carlsbad. When they reached the level of the Tepl, the hill-
fed torrent that brawls through the little city under pretty bridges
within walls of solid masonry, they found themselves in almost the only
vehicle on a brilliant promenade thronged with a cosmopolitan world.
Germans in every manner of misfit; Polish Jews in long black gabardines,
with tight corkscrew curls on their temples under their black velvet
derbys; Austrian officers in tight corsets; Greek priests in flowing
robes and brimless high hats; Russians in caftans and Cossacks in
Astrakhan caps, accented the more homogeneous masses of western
Europeans, in which it would have been hard to say which were English,
French or Italians. Among the vividly dressed ladies, some were
imaginably Parisian from their chic costumes, but they might easily have
been Hungarians or Levantines of taste; some Americans, who might have
passed unknown in the perfection of their dress, gave their nationality
away in the flat wooden tones of their voices, which made themselves
heard above the low hum of talk and the whisper of the innumerable feet.
The omnibus worked its way at a slow walk among the promenaders going and
coming between the rows of pollard locusts on one side and the bright
walls of the houses on the other. Under the trees were tables, served by
pretty bareheaded girls who ran to and from the restaurants across the
way. On both sides flashed and glittered the little shops full of
silver, glass, jewelry, terracotta figurines, wood-carvings, and all the
idle frippery of watering-place traffic: they suggested Paris, and they
suggested Saratoga, and then they were of Carlsbad and of no place else
in the world, as the crowd which might have been that of other cities at
certain moments could only have been of Carlsbad in its habitual effect.
"Do you like it?" asked Burnamy, as if he owned the place, and Mrs. March
saw how simple-hearted he was in his reticence, after all. She was ready
to bless him when they reached the hotel and found that his interest had
got them the only rooms left in the house. This satisfied in her the
passion for size which is at the bottom of every American heart, and
which perhaps above all else marks us the youngest of the peoples.
We pride ourselves on the bigness of our own things, but we are not
ungenerous, and when we go to Europe and find things bigger than ours, we
are magnanimously happy in them. Pupp's, in its altogether different
way, was larger than any hotel at Saratoga or at Niagara; and when
Burnamy told her that it sometimes fed fifteen thousand people a day in
the height of the season, she was personally proud of it.
She waited with him in the rotunda of the hotel, while the secretary led
March off to look at the rooms reserved for them, and Burnamy hospitably
turned the revolving octagonal case in the centre of the rotunda where
the names of the guests were put up. They were of all nations, but there
were so many New Yorkers whose names ended in berg, and thal, and stern,
and baum that she seemed to be gazing upon a cyclorama of the signs on
Broadway. A large man of unmistakable American make, but with so little
that was of New England or New York in his presence that she might not at
once have thought him American, lounged toward them with a quill
toothpick in the corner of his mouth. He had a jealous blue eye, into
which he seemed trying to put a friendly light; his straight mouth
stretched into an involuntary smile above his tawny chin-beard, and he
wore his soft hat so far back from his high forehead (it showed to the
crown when he took his hat off) that he had the effect of being
At his approach Burnamy turned, and with a flush said: "Oh! Let me
introduce Mr. Stoller, Mrs. March."
Stoller took his toothpick out of his mouth and bowed; then he seemed to
remember, and took off his hat. "You see Jews enough, here to make you
feel at home?" he asked; and he added: "Well, we got some of 'em in
Chicago, too, I guess. This young man"--he twisted his head toward
Burnamy" found you easy enough?"
"It was very good of him to meet us," Mrs. March began. "We didn't
"Oh, that's all right," said Stoller, putting his toothpick back, and his
hat on. "We'd got through for the day; my doctor won't let me work all I
want to, here. Your husband's going to take the cure, they tell me.
Well, he wants to go to a good doctor, first. You can't go and drink
these waters hit or miss. I found that out before I came."
"Oh, no!" said Mrs. March, and she wished to explain how they had been
advised; but he said to Burnamy:
"I sha'n't want you again till ten to-morrow morning. Don't let me
interrupt you," he added patronizingly to Mrs. March. He put his hand up
toward his hat, and sauntered away out of the door.
Burnamy did not speak; and she only asked at last, to relieve the
silence, "Is Mr. Stoller an American?"
"Why, I suppose so," he answered, with an uneasy laugh. "His people were
German emigrants who settled in Southern Indiana. That makes him as much
American as any of us, doesn't it?"
Burnamy spoke with his mind on his French-Canadian grandfather, who had
come down through Detroit, when their name was Bonami; but Mrs. March
answered from her eight generations of New England ancestry. "Oh, for
the West, yes, perhaps," and they neither of them said anything more
In their room, where she found March waiting for her amidst their
arriving baggage, she was so full of her pent-up opinions of Burnamy's
patron that she, would scarcely speak of the view from their windows of
the wooded hills up and down the Tepl. "Yes, yes; very nice, and I know
I shall enjoy it ever so much. But I don't know what you will think of
that poor young Burnamy!"
"Why, what's happened to him?"
"Happened? Stoller's happened."
"Oh, have you seen him, already? Well?"
"Well, if you had been going to pick out that type of man, you'd have
rejected him, because you'd have said he was too pat. He's like an actor
made up for a Western millionaire. Do you remember that American in
'L'Etranger' which Bernhardt did in Boston when she first came? He,
looks exactly like that, and he has the worst manners. He stood talking
to me with his hat on, and a toothpick in his mouth; and he made me feel
as if he had bought me, along with Burnamy, and had paid too much. If
you don't give him a setting down, Basil, I shall never speak to you;
that's all. I'm sure Burnamy is in some trouble with him; he's got some
sort of hold upon him; what it could be in such a short time, I can't
imagine; but if ever a man seemed to be, in a man's power, he does, in
"Now," said March, "your pronouns have got so far beyond me that I think
we'd better let it all go till after supper; perhaps I shall see Stoller
myself by that time."
She had been deeply stirred by her encounter with Stoller, but she
entered with impartial intensity into the fact that the elevator at
Pupp's had the characteristic of always coming up and never going down
with passengers. It was locked into its closet with a solid door, and
there was no bell to summon it, or any place to take it except on the
ground-floor; but the stairs by which she could descend were abundant and
stately; and on one landing there was the lithograph of one of the
largest and ugliest hotels in New York; how ugly it was, she said she
should never have known if she had not seen it there.
The dining-room was divided into the grand saloon, where they supped amid
rococo sculptures and frescoes, and the glazed veranda opening by vast
windows on a spread of tables without, which were already filling up for
the evening concert. Around them at the different tables there were
groups of faces and figures fascinating in their strangeness, with that
distinction which abashes our American level in the presence of European
"How simple and unimpressive we are, Basil," she said, "beside all these
people! I used to feel it in Europe when I was young, and now I'm
certain that we must seem like two faded-in old village photographs. We
don't even look intellectual! I hope we look good."
"I know I do," said March. The waiter went for their supper, and they
joined in guessing the different nationalities in the room. A French
party was easy enough; a Spanish mother and daughter were not difficult,
though whether they were not South-American remained uncertain; two
elderly maiden ladies were unmistakably of central Massachusetts, and
were obviously of a book-club culture that had left no leaf unturned;
some Triestines gave themselves away by their Venetian accent; but a
large group at a farther table were unassignable in the strange language
which they clattered loudly together, with bursts of laughter. They were
a family party of old and young, they were having a good time, with a
freedom which she called baronial; the ladies wore white satin, or black
lace, but the men were in sack-coats; she chose to attribute them, for no
reason but their outlandishness, to Transylvania. March pretended to
prefer a table full of Germans, who were unmistakably bourgeois, and yet
of intellectual effect. He chose as his favorite a middle-aged man of
learned aspect, and they both decided to think of him as the Herr
Professor, but they did not imagine how perfectly the title fitted him
till he drew a long comb from his waistcoat pocket and combed his hair
and beard with it above the table.
The wine wrought with the Transylvanians, and they all jargoned together
at once, and laughed at the jokes passing among them. One old gentleman
had a peculiar fascination from the infantile innocence of his gums when
he threw his head back to laugh, and showed an upper jaw toothless except
for two incisors, standing guard over the chasm between. Suddenly he
choked, coughed to relieve himself, hawked, held his napkin up before
"Noblesse oblige," said March, with the tone of irony which he reserved
for his wife's preoccupations with aristocracies of all sorts. "I think
I prefer my Hair Professor, bourgeois, as he is."
The ladies attributively of central Massachusetts had risen from their
table, and were making for the door without having paid for their supper.
The head waiter ran after them; with a real delicacy for their mistake he
explained that though in most places the meals were charged in the bill,
it was the custom in Carlsbad to pay for them at the table; one could see
that he was making their error a pleasant adventure to them which they
could laugh over together, and write home about without a pang.
"And I," said Mrs. March, shamelessly abandoning the party of the
aristocracy, "prefer the manners of the lower classes."
"Oh, yes," he admitted. "The only manners we have at home are black
ones. But you mustn't lose courage. Perhaps the nobility are not always
"I don't know whether we have manners at home," she said, "and I don't
believe I care. At least we have decencies."
"Don't be a jingo," said her husband.
Though Stoller had formally discharged Burnamy from duty for the day, he
was not so full of resources in himself, and he had not so general an
acquaintance in the hotel but he was glad to have the young fellow make
up to him in the reading-room, that night. He laid down a New York paper
ten days old in despair of having left any American news in it, and
pushed several continental Anglo-American papers aside with his elbow, as
he gave a contemptuous glance at the foreign journals, in Bohemian,
Hungarian, German, French, and Italian, which littered the large table.
"I wonder," he said, "how long it'll take'em, over here, to catch on to
our way of having pictures?"
Burnamy had come to his newspaper work since illustrated journalism was
established, and he had never had any shock from it at home, but so
sensitive is youth to environment that, after four days in Europe, the
New York paper Stoller had laid down was already hideous to him. From
the politic side of his nature, however, he temporized with Stoller's
preference. "I suppose it will be some time yet."
"I wish," said Stoller, with a savage disregard of expressed sequences
and relevancies, "I could ha' got some pictures to send home with that
letter this afternoon: something to show how they do things here, and be
a kind of object-lesson." This term had come up in a recent campaign
when some employers, by shutting down their works, were showing their
employees what would happen if the employees voted their political
opinions into effect, and Stoller had then mastered its meaning and was
fond of using it. "I'd like 'em to see the woods around here, that the
city owns, and the springs, and the donkey-carts, and the theatre, and
everything, and give 'em some practical ideas."
Burnamy made an uneasy movement.
"I'd 'a' liked to put 'em alongside of some of our improvements, and show
how a town can be carried on when it's managed on business principles.
"Why didn't you think of it?"
"Really, I don't know," said Burnamy, with a touch of impatience.
They had not met the evening before on the best of terms. Stoller had
expected Burnamy twenty-four hours earlier, and had shown his displeasure
with him for loitering a day at Leipsic which he might have spent at
Carlsbad; and Burnamy had been unsatisfactory in accounting for the
delay. But he had taken hold so promptly and so intelligently that by
working far into the night, and through the whole forenoon, he had got
Stoller's crude mass of notes into shape, and had sent off in time for
the first steamer the letter which was to appear over the proprietor's
name in his paper. It was a sort of rough but very full study of the
Carlsbad city government, the methods of taxation, the municipal
ownership of the springs and the lands, and the public control in
everything. It condemned the aristocratic constitution of the
municipality, but it charged heavily in favor of the purity, beneficence,
and wisdom of the administration, under which there was no poverty and no
idleness, and which was managed like any large business.
Stoller had sulkily recurred to his displeasure, once or twice, and
Burnamy suffered it submissively until now. But now, at the change in
Burnamy's tone, he changed his manner a little.
"Seen your friends since supper?" he asked.
"Only a moment. They are rather tired, and they've gone to bed."
That the fellow that edits that book you write for?"
"Yes; he owns it, too."
The notion of any sort of ownership moved Stoller's respect, and he asked
more deferentially, "Makin' a good thing out of it?"
"A living, I suppose. Some of the high-class weeklies feel the
competition of the ten-cent monthlies. But 'Every Other Week' is about
the best thing we've got in the literary way, and I guess it's holding
"Have to, to let the editor come to Carlsbad," Stoller said, with a
return to the sourness of his earlier mood. "I don't know as I care much
for his looks; I seen him when he came in with you. No snap to him."
He clicked shut the penknife he had been paring his nails with, and
started up with the abruptness which marked all his motions, mental and
physical; as he walked heavily out of the room he said, without looking
at Burnamy, "You want to be ready by half past ten at the latest."
Stoller's father and mother were poor emigrants who made their way to the
West with the instinct for sordid prosperity native to their race and
class; and they set up a small butcher shop in the little Indiana town
where their son was born, and throve in it from the start. He could
remember his mother helping his father make the sausage and head-cheese
and pickle the pigs' feet, which they took turns in selling at as great a
price as they could extort from the townspeople. She was a good and
tender mother, and when her little Yawcup, as the boys called Jacob in
mimicry after her, had grown to the school-going age, she taught him to
fight the Americans, who stoned him when he came out of his gate, and
mobbed his home-coming; and mocked and tormented him at play-time till
they wore themselves into a kindlier mind toward him through the
exhaustion of their invention. No one, so far as the gloomy, stocky,
rather dense little boy could make out, ever interfered in his behalf;
and he grew up in bitter shame for his German origin, which entailed upon
him the hard fate of being Dutch among the Americans. He hated his
native speech so much that he cried when he was forced to use it with his
father and mother at home; he furiously denied it with the boys who
proposed to parley with him in it on such terms as "Nix come arouce in de
Dytchman's house." He disused it so thoroughly that after his father
took him out of school, when he was old enough to help in the shop, he
could not get back to it. He regarded his father's business as part of
his national disgrace, and at the cost of leaving his home he broke away
from it, and informally apprenticed himself to the village blacksmith and
wagon-maker. When it came to his setting up for himself in the business
he had chosen, he had no help from his father, who had gone on adding
dollar to dollar till he was one of the richest men in the place.
Jacob prospered too; his old playmates, who had used him so cruelly, had
many of them come to like him; but as a Dutchman they never dreamt of
asking him to their houses when they were young people, any more than
when they were children. He was long deeply in love with an American
girl whom he had never spoken to, and the dream of his life was to marry
an American. He ended by marrying the daughter of Pferd the brewer, who
had been at an American school in Indianapolis, and had come home as
fragilely and nasally American as anybody. She made him a good, sickly,
fretful wife; and bore him five children, of whom two survived, with no
visible taint of their German origin.
In the mean time Jacob's father had died and left his money to his son,
with the understanding that he was to provide for his mother, who would
gladly have given every cent to him and been no burden to him, if she
could. He took her home, and cared tenderly for her as long as she
lived; and she meekly did her best to abolish herself in a household
trying so hard to be American. She could not help her native accent, but
she kept silence when her son's wife had company; and when her eldest
granddaughter began very early to have American callers, she went out of
the room; they would not have noticed her if she had staid.
Before this Jacob had come forward publicly in proportion to his
financial importance in the community. He first commended himself to the
Better Element by crushing out a strike in his Buggy Works, which were
now the largest business interest of the place; and he rose on a wave of
municipal reform to such a height of favor with the respectable classes
that he was elected on a citizens' ticket to the Legislature. In the
reaction which followed he was barely defeated for Congress, and was
talked of as a dark horse who might be put up for the governorship some
day; but those who knew him best predicted that he would not get far in
politics, where his bull-headed business ways would bring him to ruin
sooner or later; they said, "You can't swing a bolt like you can a
When his mother died, he surprised his old neighbors by going to live in
Chicago, though he kept his works in the place where he and they had
grown up together. His wife died shortly after, and within four years he
lost his three eldest children; his son, it was said, had begun to go
wrong first. But the rumor of his increasing wealth drifted back from
Chicago; he was heard of in different enterprises and speculations; at
last it was said that he had bought a newspaper, and then his boyhood
friends decided that Jake was going into politics again.
In the wider horizons and opener atmosphere of the great city he came to
understand better that to be an American in all respects was not the
best. His mounting sense of importance began to be retroactive in the
direction of his ancestral home; he wrote back to the little town near
Wurzburg which his people had come from, and found that he had relatives
still living there, some of whom had become people of substance; and
about the time his health gave way from life-long gluttony, and he was
ordered to Carlsbad, he had pretty much made up his mind to take his
younger daughters and put them in school for a year or two in Wurzburg,
for a little discipline if not education. He had now left them there, to
learn the language, which he had forgotten with such heart-burning and
shame, and music, for which they had some taste.
The twins loudly lamented their fate, and they parted from their father
with open threats of running away; and in his heart he did not altogether
blame them. He came away from Wurzburg raging at the disrespect for his
money and his standing in business which had brought him a more galling
humiliation there than anything he had suffered in his boyhood at Des
Vaches. It intensified him in his dear-bought Americanism to the point
of wishing to commit lese majesty in the teeth of some local dignitaries
who had snubbed him, and who seemed to enjoy putting our eagle to shame
in his person; there was something like the bird of his step-country in
Stoller's pale eyes and huge beak.
March sat with a company of other patients in the anteroom of the doctor,
and when it came his turn to be prodded and kneaded, he was ashamed at
being told he was not so bad a case as he had dreaded. The doctor wrote
out a careful dietary for him, with a prescription of a certain number of
glasses of water at a certain spring and a certain number of baths, and a
rule for the walks he was to take before and after eating; then the
doctor patted him on the shoulder and pushed him caressingly out of his
inner office. It was too late to begin his treatment that day, but he
went with his wife to buy a cup, with a strap for hanging it over his
shoulder, and he put it on so as to be an invalid with the others at
once; he came near forgetting the small napkin of Turkish towelling which
they stuffed into their cups, but happily the shopman called him back in
time to sell it to him.
At five the next morning he rose, and on his way to the street exchanged
with the servants cleaning the hotel stairs the first of the gloomy
'Guten Morgens' which usher in the day at Carlsbad. They cannot be so
finally hopeless as they sound; they are probably expressive only of the
popular despair of getting through with them before night; but March
heard the salutations sorrowfully groaned out on every hand as he joined
the straggling current of invalids which swelled on the way past the
silent shops and cafes in the Alte Wiese, till it filled the street, and
poured its thousands upon the promenade before the classic colonnade of
the Muhlbrunn. On the other bank of the Tepl the Sprudel flings its
steaming waters by irregular impulses into the air under a pavilion of
iron and glass; but the Muhlbrunn is the source of most resort. There is
an instrumental concert somewhere in Carlsbad from early rising till
bedtime; and now at the Muhlbrunn there was an orchestra already playing;
and under the pillared porch, as well as before it, the multitude
shuffled up and down, draining their cups by slow sips, and then taking
each his place in the interminable line moving on to replenish them at
A picturesque majority of Polish Jews, whom some vice of their climate is
said peculiarly to fit for the healing effects of Carlsbad, most took his
eye in their long gabardines of rusty black and their derby hats of plush
or velvet, with their corkscrew curls coming down before their ears.
They were old and young, they were grizzled and red and black, but they
seemed all well-to-do; and what impresses one first and last at Carlsbad
is that its waters are mainly for the healing of the rich. After the
Polish Jews, the Greek priests of Russian race were the most striking
figures. There were types of Latin ecclesiastics, who were striking in
their way too; and the uniforms of certain Austrian officers and soldiers
brightened the picture. Here and there a southern face, Italian or
Spanish or Levantine, looked passionately out of the mass of dull German
visages; for at Carlsbad the Germans, more than any other gentile nation,
are to the fore. Their misfits, their absence of style, imparted the
prevalent effect; though now and then among the women a Hungarian, or
Pole, or Parisian, or American, relieved the eye which seeks beauty and
grace rather than the domestic virtues. There were certain faces, types
of discomfort and disease, which appealed from the beginning to the end.
A young Austrian, yellow as gold, and a livid South-American, were of a
lasting fascination to March.
What most troubled him, in his scrutiny of the crowd, was the difficulty
of assigning people to their respective nations, and he accused his years
of having dulled his perceptions; but perhaps it was from their long
disuse in his homogeneous American world. The Americans themselves fused
with the European races who were often so hard to make out; his fellow-
citizens would not be identified till their bad voices gave them away;
he thought the women's voices the worst.
At the springs, a line of young girls with a steady mechanical action
dipped the cups into the steaming source, and passed them impersonally up
to their owners. With the patients at the Muhlbrunn it was often a half-
hour before one's turn carne, and at all a strict etiquette forbade any
attempt to anticipate it. The water was merely warm and flat, and after
the first repulsion one could forget it. March formed a childish habit
of counting ten between the sips, and of finishing the cup with a gulp
which ended it quickly; he varied his walks between cups by going
sometimes to a bridge at the end of the colonnade where a group of
Triestines were talking Venetian, and sometimes to the little Park beyond
the Kurhaus, where some old women were sweeping up from the close sward
the yellow leaves which the trees had untidily dropped overnight. He
liked to sit there and look at the city beyond the Tepl, where it climbed
the wooded heights in terraces till it lost its houses in the skirts and
folds of the forest. Most mornings it rained, quietly, absent-mindedly,
and this, with the chili in the air, deepened a pleasant illusion of
Quebec offered by the upper town across the stream; but there were sunny
mornings when the mountains shone softly through a lustrous mist, and the
air was almost warm.
Once in his walk he found himself the companion of Burnamy's employer,
whom he had sometimes noted in the line at the Muhlbrunn, waiting his
turn, cup in hand, with a face of sullen impatience. Stoller explained
that though you could have the water brought to you at your hotel, he
chose to go to the spring for the sake of the air; it was something you
had got to live through; before he had that young Burnamy to help him he
did not know what to do with his time, but now, every minute he was not
eating or sleeping he was working; his cure did not oblige him to walk
much. He examined March, with a certain mixture of respect and contempt,
upon the nature of the literary life, and how it differed from the life
of a journalist. He asked if he thought Burnamy would amount to anything
as a literary man; he so far assented to March's faith in him as to say,
"He's smart." He told of leaving his daughters in school at Wurzburg;
and upon the whole he moved March with a sense of his pathetic loneliness
without moving his liking, as he passed lumberingly on, dangling his cup.
March gave his own cup to the little maid at his spring, and while she
gave it to a second, who dipped it and handed it to a third for its
return to him, he heard an unmistakable fellow-countryman saying good-,
morning to them all in English. "Are you going to teach them United
States?" he asked of a face with which he knew such an appeal would not
"Well," the man admitted, "I try to teach them that much. They like it.
You are an American? I am glad of it. I have 'most lost the use of my
lungs, here. I'm a great talker, and I talk to my wife till she's about
dead; then I'm out of it for the rest of the day; I can't speak German."
His manner was the free, friendly manner of the West. He must be that
sort of untravelled American whom March had so seldom met, but he was
afraid to ask him if this was his first time at Carlsbad, lest it should
prove the third or fourth. "Are you taking the cure?" he asked instead.
"Oh, no. My wife is. She'll be along directly; I come down here and
drink the waters to encourage her; doctor said to. That gets me in for
the diet, too. I've e't more cooked fruit since I been here than I ever
did in my life before. Prunes? My Lord, I'm full o' prunes! Well, it
does me good to see an American, to know him. I couldn't 'a' told you,
it you hadn't have spoken."
"Well," said March, "I shouldn't have been so sure of you, either, by
"Yes, we can't always tell ourselves from these Dutch. But they know us,
and they don't want us, except just for one thing, and that's our money.
I tell you, the Americans are the chumps over here. Soon's they got all
our money, or think they have, they say, "Here, you Americans, this is my
country; you get off; and we got to get. Ever been over before?"
"A great while ago; so long that I can hardly believe it."
"It's my first time. My name's Otterson: I'm from out in Iowa."
March gave him his name, and added that he was from New York.
"Yes. I thought you was Eastern. But that wasn't an Eastern man you was
"No; he's from Chicago. He's a Mr. Stoller."
"Not the buggy man?"
"I believe he makes buggies."
"Well, you do meet everybody here." The Iowan was silent for a moment,
as if, hushed by the weighty thought. "I wish my wife could have seen
him. I just want her to see the man that made our buggy. I don't know
what's keeping her, this morning," he added, apologetically. "Look at
that fellow, will you, tryin' to get away from those women!" A young
officer was doing his best to take leave of two ladies, who seemed to be
mother and daughter; they detained him by their united arts, and clung to
him with caressing words and looks. He was red in the face with his
polite struggles when he broke from them at last. "How they do hang on
to a man, over here!" the Iowa man continued. "And the Americans are as
bad as any. Why, there's one ratty little Englishman up at our place,
and our girls just swarm after him; their mothers are worse. Well, it's
so, Jenny," he said to the lady who had joined them and whom March turned
round to see when he spoke to her. "If I wanted a foreigner I should go
in for a man. And these officers! Put their mustaches up at night in
curl-papers, they tell me. Introduce you to Mrs. Otterson, Mr. March.
Well, had your first glass, yet, Jenny? I'm just going for my second
He took his wife back to the spring, and began to tell her about Stoller;
she made no sign of caring for him; and March felt inculpated. She
relented a little toward him as they drank together; when he said he must
be going to breakfast with his wife, she asked where he breakfasted, and
said, "Why, we go to the Posthof, too." He answered that then they
should be sure some time to meet there; he did not venture further; he
reflected that Mrs. March had her reluctances too; she distrusted people
who had amused or interested him before she met them.
Burnamy had found the Posthof for them, as he had found most of the other
agreeable things in Carlsbad, which he brought to their knowledge one by
one, with such forethought that March said he hoped he should be cared
for in his declining years as an editor rather than as a father; there
was no tenderness like a young contributor's.
Many people from the hotels on the hill found at Pupp's just the time and
space between their last cup of water and their first cup of coffee which
are prescribed at Carlsbad; but the Marches were aware somehow from the
beginning that Pupp's had not the hold upon the world at breakfast which
it had at the mid-day dinner, or at supper on the evenings when the
concert was there. Still it was amusing, and they were patient of
Burnamy's delay till he could get a morning off from Stoller and go with
them to the Posthof. He met Mrs. March in the reading-room, where March
was to join them on his way from the springs with his bag of bread. The
earlier usage of buying the delicate pink slices of Westphalia ham, which
form the chief motive of a Carlsbad breakfast, at a certain shop in the
town, and carrying them to the cafe with you, is no longer of such
binding force as the custom of getting your bread at the Swiss bakery.
You choose it yourself at the counter, which begins to be crowded by half
past seven, and when you have collected the prescribed loaves into the
basket of metallic filigree given you by one of the baker's maids, she
puts it into a tissue-paper bag of a gay red color, and you join the
other invalids streaming away from the bakery, their paper bags making a
festive rustling as they go.
Two roads lead out of the town into the lovely meadow-lands, a good mile
up the brawling Tepl, before they join on the right side of the torrent,
where the Posthof lurks nestled under trees whose boughs let the sun and
rain impartially through upon its army of little tables. By this time
the slow omnibus plying between Carlsbad and some villages in the valley
beyond has crossed from the left bank to the right, and keeps on past
half a dozen other cafes, where patients whose prescriptions marshal them
beyond the Posthof drop off by the dozens and scores.
The road on the left bank of the Tepl is wild and overhung at points with
wooded steeps, when it leaves the town; but on the right it is bordered
with shops and restaurants a great part of its length. In leafy nooks
between these, uphill walks begin their climb of the mountains, from the
foot of votive shrines set round with tablets commemorating in German,
French, Russian, Hebrew, Magyar and Czech, the cure of high-well-borns of
all those races and languages. Booths glittering with the lapidary's
work in the cheaper gems, or full of the ingenious figures of the toy-
makers, alternate with the shrines and the cafes on the way to the
Posthof, and with their shoulders against the overhanging cliff, spread
for the passing crowd a lure of Viennese jewelry in garnets, opals,
amethysts, and the like, and of such Bohemian playthings as carrot-eating
rabbits, worsted-working cats, dancing-bears, and peacocks that strut
about the feet of the passers and expand their iridescent tails in mimic
Burnamy got his charges with difficulty by the shrines in which they felt
the far-reflected charm of the crucifixes of the white-hot Italian
highways of their early travel, and by the toyshops where they had a
mechanical, out-dated impulse to get something for the children, ending
in a pang for the fact that they were children no longer. He waited
politely while Mrs. March made up her mind that she would not buy any
laces of the motherly old women who showed them under pent-roofs on way-
side tables; and he waited patiently at the gate of the flower-gardens
beyond the shops where March bought lavishly of sweetpease from the
businesslike flower-woman, and feigned a grateful joy in her because she
knew no English, and gave him a chance of speaking his German.
"You'll find," he said, as they crossed the road again, "that it's well
to trifle a good deal; it makes the time pass. I should still be lagging
along in my thirties if it hadn't been for fooling, and here I am well on
in my fifties, and Mrs. March is younger than ever."
They were at the gate of the garden and grounds of the cafe at last, and
a turn of the path brought them to the prospect of its tables, under the
trees, between the two long glazed galleries where the breakfasters take
refuge at other tables when it rains; it rains nearly always, and the
trunks of the trees are as green with damp as if painted; but that
morning the sun was shining. At the verge of the open space a group of
pretty serving-maids, each with her name on a silver band pinned upon her
breast, met them and bade them a 'Guten Morgen' of almost cheerful note,
but gave way, to an eager little smiling blonde, who came pushing down
the path at sight of Burnamy, and claimed him for her own.
"Ah, Lili! We want an extra good table, this morning. These are some
American Excellencies, and you must do your best for them."
"Oh, yes," the girl answered in English, after a radiant salutation of
the Marches; "I get you one."
"You are a little more formerly, to-day, and I didn't had one already."
She ran among the tables along the edge of the western edge of the
gallery, and was far beyond hearing his protest that he was not earlier
than usual when she beckoned him to the table she had found. She had
crowded it in between two belonging to other girls, and by the time her
breakfasters came up she was ready for their order, with the pouting
pretence that the girls always tried to rob her of the best places.
Burnamy explained proudly, when she went, that none of the other girls
ever got an advantage of her; she had more custom than any three of them,
and she had hired a man to help her carry her orders. The girls were all
from the neighboring villages, he said, and they lived at home in the
winter on their summer tips; their wages were nothing, or less, for
sometimes they paid for their places.
"What a mass of information!" said March. "How did you come by it?"
"Newspaper habit of interviewing the universe."
"It's not a bad habit, if one doesn't carry it too far. How did Lili
learn her English?"
"She takes lessons in the winter. She's a perfect little electric motor.
I don't believe any Yankee girl could equal her."
"She would expect to marry a millionaire if she did. What astonishes one
over here is to see how contentedly people prosper along on their own
level. And the women do twice the work of the men without expecting to
equal them in any other way. At Pupp's, if we go to one end of the out-
door restaurant, it takes three men to wait on us: one to bring our
coffee or tea, another to bring our bread and meat, and another to make
out our bill, and I have to tip all three of them. If we go to the other
end, one girl serves us, and I have to give only one fee; I make it less
than the least I give any three of the men waiters."
"You ought to be ashamed of that," said his wife.
"I'm not. I'm simply proud of your sex, my dear."
"Women do nearly everything, here," said Burnamy, impartially. "They
built that big new Kaiserbad building: mixed the mortar, carried the
hods, and laid the stone."
"That makes me prouder of the sex than ever. But come, Mr. Burnamy!
Isn't there anybody of polite interest that you know of in this crowd?"
"Well, I can't say," Burnamy hesitated.
The breakfasters had been thronging into the grove and the galleries; the
tables were already filled, and men were bringing other tables on their
heads, and making places for them, with entreaties for pardon everywhere;
the proprietor was anxiously directing them; the pretty serving-girls
were running to and from the kitchen in a building apart with shrill,
sweet promises of haste. The morning sun fell broken through the leaves
on the gay hats and dresses of the ladies, and dappled the figures of the
men with harlequin patches of light and shade. A tall woman, with a sort
of sharpened beauty, and an artificial permanency of tint in her cheeks
and yellow hair, came trailing herself up the sun-shot path, and found,
with hardy insistence upon the publicity, places for the surly-looking,
down-faced young man behind her, and for her maid and her black poodle;
the dog was like the black poodle out of Faust. Burnamy had heard her
history; in fact, he had already roughed out a poem on it, which he
called Europa, not after the old fable, but because it seemed to him that
she expressed Europe, on one side of its civilization, and had an
authorized place in its order, as she would not have had in ours. She
was where she was by a toleration of certain social facts which
corresponds in Europe to our reverence for the vested interests. In her
history there, had been officers and bankers; even foreign dignitaries;
now there was this sullen young fellow . . . . Burnamy had wondered
if it would do to offer his poem to March, but the presence of the
original abashed him, and in his mind he had torn the poem up, with a
heartache for its aptness.
"I don't believe," he said, "that I recognize-any celebrities here."
"I'm sorry," said March. "Mrs. March would have been glad of some
Hoheits, some Grafs and Grafins, or a few Excellenzes, or even some mere
well-borns. But we must try to get along with the picturesqueness."
"I'm satisfied with the picturesqueness," said his wife. "Don't worry
about me, Mr. Burnamy. "Why can't we have this sort of thing at home?"
"We're getting something like it in the roof-gardens," said March."
We couldn't have it naturally because the climate is against it, with us.
At this time in the morning over there, the sun would be burning the life
out of the air, and the flies would be swarming on every table. At nine
A. M. the mosquitoes would be eating us up in such a grove as this. So
we have to use artifice, and lift our Posthof above the fly-line and the
mosquito-line into the night air. I haven't seen a fly since I came to
Europe. I really miss them; it makes me homesick."
"There are plenty in Italy," his wife suggested.
"We must get down there before we go home."
"But why did nobody ever tell us that there were no flies in Germany?
Why did no traveller ever put it in his book? When your stewardess said
so on the steamer, I remember that you regarded it as a bluff." He
turned to Burnamy, who was listening with the deference of a contributor:
"Isn't Lili rather long? I mean for such a very prompt person. Oh, no!"
But Burnamy got to his feet, and shouted "Fraulein!" to Lili; with her
hireling at her heels she was flying down a distant aisle between the
tables. She called back, with a face laughing over her shoulder, "In a
minute!" and vanished in the crowd.
"Does that mean anything in particular? There's really no hurry."
"Oh, I think she'll come now," said Burnamy. March protested that he had
only been amused at Lili's delay; but his wife scolded him for his
impatience; she begged Burnamy's pardon, and repeated civilities passed
between them. She asked if he did not think some of the young ladies
were pretty beyond the European average; a very few had style; the
mothers were mostly fat, and not stylish; it was well not to regard the
fathers too closely; several old gentlemen were clearing their throats
behind their newspapers, with noises that made her quail. There was no
one so effective as the Austrian officers, who put themselves a good deal
on show, bowing from their hips to favored groups; with the sun glinting
from their eyeglasses, and their hands pressing their sword-hilts, they
moved between the tables with the gait of tight-laced women.
"They all wear corsets," Burnamy explained.
"How much you know already!" said Mrs. March. "I can see that Europe
won't be lost on you in anything. Oh, who's that?" A lady whose costume
expressed saris at every point glided up the middle aisle of the grove
with a graceful tilt. Burnamy was silent. "She must be an American. Do
you know who she is?"
"Yes." He hesitated, a little to name a woman whose tragedy had once
filled the newspapers.
Mrs. March gazed after her with the fascination which such tragedies
inspire. "What grace! Is she beautiful?"
"Very." Burnamy had not obtruded his knowledge, but somehow Mrs. March
did not like his knowing who she was, and how beautiful. She asked March
to look, but he refused.
"Those things are too squalid," he said, and she liked him for saying it;
she hoped it would not be lost upon Burnamy.
One of the waitresses tripped on the steps near them and flung the burden
off her tray on the stone floor before her; some of the dishes broke, and
the breakfast was lost. Tears came into the girl's eyes and rolled down
her hot cheeks. "There! That is what I call tragedy," said March.
"She'll have to pay for those things."
"Oh, give her the money, dearest!"
"How can I?"
The girl had just got away with the ruin when Lili and her hireling
behind her came bearing down upon them with their three substantial
breakfasts on two well-laden trays. She forestalled Burnamy's reproaches
for her delay, laughing and bridling, while she set down the dishes of
ham and tongue and egg, and the little pots of coffee and frothed milk.
"I could not so soon I wanted, because I was to serve an American
Mrs. March started with proud conjecture of one of those noble
international marriages which fill our women with vainglory for such of
their compatriots as make them.
"Oh, come now, Lili!" said Burnamy. "We have queens in America, but
nothing so low as princesses. This was a queen, wasn't it?"
She referred the case to her hireling, who confirmed her. "All people
say it is princess," she insisted.
"Well, if she's a princess we must look her up after breakfast," said
Burnamy. "Where is she sitting?"
She pointed at a corner so far off on the other side that no one could be
distinguished, and then was gone, with a smile flashed over her shoulder,
and her hireling trying to keep up with her.
"We're all very proud of Lili's having a hired man," said Burnamy.
"We think it reflects credit on her customers."
March had begun his breakfast with-the voracious appetite of an early-
rising invalid. "What coffee!"
He drew a long sigh after the first draught.
"It's said to be made of burnt figs," said Burnamy, from the
inexhaustible advantage of his few days' priority in Carlsbad.
"Then let's have burnt figs introduced at home as soon as possible. But
why burnt figs? That seems one of those doubts which are much more
difficult than faith."
It's not only burnt figs," said Burnamy, with amiable superiority, "if it
is burnt figs, but it's made after a formula invented by a consensus of
physicians, and enforced by the municipality. Every cafe in Carlsbad
makes the same kind of coffee and charges the same price."
"You are leaving us very little to find out for ourselves," sighed March.
"Oh, I know a lot more things. Are you fond of fishing?"
"You can get a permit to catch trout in the Tepl, but they send an
official with you who keeps count, and when you have had your sport, the
trout belong to the municipality just as they did before you caught
"I don't see why that isn't a good notion: the last thing I should want
to do would be to eat a fish that I had caught, and that I was personally
acquainted with. Well, I'm never going away from Carlsbad. I don't
wonder people get their doctors to tell them to come back."
Burnamy told them a number of facts he said Stoller had got together
about the place, and had given him to put in shape. It was run in the
interest of people who had got out of order, so that they would keep
coming to get themselves in order again; you could hardly buy an
unwholesome meal in the town; all the cooking was 'kurgemass'. He won
such favor with his facts that he could not stop in time: he said to
March, "But if you ever should have a fancy for a fish of your personal
acquaintance, there's a restaurant up the Tepl, where they let you pick
out your trout in the water; then they catch him and broil him for you,
and you know what you are eating."
"Is it a municipal restaurant?"
"Semi-municipal," said Burnamy, laughing.
"We'll take Mrs. March," said her husband, and in her gravity Burnamy felt
the limitations of a woman's sense of humor, which always define
themselves for men so unexpectedly.
He did what he could to get back into her good graces by telling her what
he knew about distinctions and dignities that he now saw among the
breakfasters. The crowd had now grown denser till the tables were set
together in such labyrinths that any one who left the central aisle was
lost in them. The serving-girls ran more swiftly to and fro, responding
with a more nervous shrillness to the calls of "Fraulein! Fraulein!" that
followed them. The proprietor, in his bare head, stood like one
paralyzed by his prosperity, which sent up all round him the clash of
knives and crockery, and the confusion of tongues. It was more than an
hour before Burnamy caught Lili's eye, and three times she promised to
come and be paid before she came. Then she said, "It is so nice, when
you stay a little," and when he told her of the poor Fraulein who had
broken the dishes in her fall near them, she almost wept with tenderness;
she almost winked with wickedness when he asked if the American princess
was still in her place.
"Do go and see who it can be!" Mrs. March entreated. "We'll wait here,"
and he obeyed. "I am not sure that I like him," she said, as soon as he
was out of hearing. "I don't know but he's coarse, after all. Do you
approve of his knowing so many people's 'taches' already?"
"Would it be any better later?" he asked in tern. "He seemed to find you
"It's very different with us; we're not young," she urged, only half
Her husband laughed. "I see you want me to defend him. Oh, hello!"
he cried, and she saw Burnamy coming toward them with a young lady, who
was nodding to them from as far as she could see them. "This is the easy
kind of thing that makes you Blush for the author if you find it in a
Mrs. March fairly took Miss Triscoe in her arms to kiss her. "Do you
know I felt it must be you, all the time! When did you come? Where is
your father? What hotel are you staying at?"
It appeared, while Miss Triscoe was shaking hands with March, that it was
last night, and her father was finishing his breakfast, and it was one of
the hotels on the hill. On the way back to her father it appeared that
he wished to consult March's doctor; not that there was anything the
The general himself was not much softened by the reunion with his fellow-
Americans; he confided to them that his coffee was poisonous; but he
seemed, standing up with the Paris-New York Chronicle folded in his hand,
to have drunk it all. Was March going off on his forenoon tramp? He
believed that was part of the treatment, which was probably all humbug,
though he thought of trying it, now he was there. He was told the walks
were fine; he looked at Burnamy as if he had been praising them, and
Burnamy said he had been wondering if March would not like to try a
mountain path back to his hotel; he said, not so sincerely, that he
thought Mrs. March would like it.
"I shall like your account of it," she answered. "But I'll walk back on
a level, if you please."
"Oh, yes," Miss Triscoe pleaded, "come with us!"
She played a little comedy of meaning to go back with her father so
gracefully that Mrs. March herself could scarcely have told just where
the girl's real purpose of going with Burnamy began to be evident, or
just how she managed to make General Triscoe beg to have the pleasure of
seeing Mrs. March back to her hotel.
March went with the young people across the meadow behind the Posthof and
up into the forest, which began at the base of the mountain. At first
they tried to keep him in the range of their talk; but he fell behind
more and more, and as the talk narrowed to themselves it was less and
less possible to include him in it. When it began to concern their
common appreciation of the Marches, they even tried to get out of his
"They're so young in their thoughts," said Burnamy, "and they seem as
much interested in everything as they could have been thirty years ago.
They belong to a time when the world was a good deal fresher than it is
now; don't you think? I mean, in the eighteen-sixties."
"Oh, yes, I can see that."
"I don't know why we shouldn't be born older in each generation than
people were in the last. Perhaps we are," he suggested.
"I don't know how you mean," said the girl, keeping vigorously up with
him; she let him take the jacket she threw off, but she would not have
his hand at the little steeps where he wanted to give it.
"I don't believe I can quite make it out myself. But fancy a man that
began to act at twenty, quite unconsciously of course, from the past
experience of the whole race--"
"He would be rather a dreadful person, wouldn't he?"
"Rather monstrous, yes," he owned, with a laugh. "But that's where the
psychological interest would come in."
As if she did not feel the notion quite pleasant she turned from it.
"I suppose you've been writing all sorts of things since you came here."
"Well, it hasn't been such a great while as it's seemed, and I've had Mr.
Stoller's psychological interests to look after."
"Oh, yes! Do you like him?"
"I don't know. He's a lump of honest selfishness. He isn't bad. You
know where to have him. He's simple, too."
"You mean, like Mr. March?"
"I didn't mean that; but why not? They're not of the same generation,
but Stoller isn't modern."
"I'm very curious to see him," said the girl.
"Do you want me to introduce him?"
"You can introduce him to papa."
They stopped and looked across the curve of the mounting path, down on
March, who had sunk on a way-side seat, and was mopping his forehead. He
saw them, and called up: "Don't wait for me. I'll join you, gradually."
"I don't want to lose you," Burnamy called back, but he kept on with Miss
Triscoe. "I want to get the Hirschensprung in," he explained. "It's the
cliff where a hunted deer leaped down several hundred feet to get away
from an emperor who was after him."
"Oh, yes. They have them everywhere."
"Do they? Well, anyway, there's a noble view up there."
There was no view on the way up. The Germans' notion of a woodland is
everywhere that of a dense forest such as their barbarous tribes
primevally herded in. It means the close-set stems of trees, with their
tops interwoven in a roof of boughs and leaves so densely that you may
walk dry through it almost as long as a German shower lasts. When the
sun shines there is a pleasant greenish light in the aisles, shot here
and there with the gold that trickles through. There is nothing of the
accident of an American wood in these forests, which have been watched
and weeded by man ever since they burst the soil. They remain nurseries,
but they have the charm which no human care can alienate. The smell of
their bark and their leaves, and of the moist, flowerless earth about
their roots, came to March where he sat rich with the memories of his
country-bred youth, and drugged all consciousness of his long life in
cities since, and made him a part of nature, with dulled interests and
dimmed perspectives, so that for the moment he had the enjoyment of
exemption from care. There was no wild life to penetrate his isolation;
no birds, not a squirrel, not an insect; an old man who had bidden him
good-morning, as he came up, kept fumbling at the path with his hoe, and
was less intrusive than if he had not been there.
March thought of the impassioned existence of these young people playing
the inevitable comedy of hide and seek which the youth of the race has
played from the beginning of time. The other invalids who haunted the
forest, and passed up and down before him in fulfilment of their several
prescriptions, had a thin unreality in spite of the physical bulk that
prevailed among them, and they heightened the relief that the forest-
spirit brought him from the strenuous contact of that young drama. He
had been almost painfully aware that the persons in it had met, however
little they knew it, with an eagerness intensified by their brief
separation, and he fancied it was the girl who had unconsciously operated
their reunion in response to the young man's longing, her will making
itself electrically felt through space by that sort of wireless
telegraphy which love has long employed, and science has just begun to
He would have been willing that they should get home alone, but he knew
that his wife would require an account of them from him, and though he
could have invented something of the kind, if it came to the worst, he
was aware that it would not do for him to arrive without them. The
thought goaded him from his seat, and he joined the upward procession of
his fellow-sick, as it met another procession straggling downward; the
ways branched in all directions, with people on them everywhere, bent
upon building up in a month the health which they would spend the rest of
the year in demolishing.
He came upon his charges unexpectedly at a turn of the path, and Miss
Triscoe told him that he ought to have been with them for the view from
the Hirschensprung. It was magnificent, she said, and she made Burnamy
corroborate her praise of it, and agree with her that it was worth the
climb a thousand times; he modestly accepted the credit she appeared
willing to give him, of inventing the Hirschensprung.
Between his work for Stoller and what sometimes seemed the
obstructiveness of General Triscoe, Burnamy was not very much with Miss
Triscoe. He was not devout, but he went every Sunday to the pretty
English church on the hill, where he contributed beyond his means to the
support of the English clergy on the Continent, for the sake of looking
at her back hair during the service, and losing himself in the graceful
lines which defined, the girl's figure from the slant of her flowery hat
to the point where the pewtop crossed her elastic waist. One happy
morning the general did not come to church, and he had the fortune to
walk home with her to her pension, where she lingered with him a moment,
and almost made him believe she might be going to ask him to come in.
The next evening, when he was sauntering down the row of glittering shops
beside the Tepl, with Mrs. March, they overtook the general and his
daughter at a place where the girl was admiring some stork-scissors in
the window; she said she wished she were still little, so that she could
get them. They walked home with the Triscoes, and then he hurried Mrs.
March back to the shop. The man had already put up his shutters, and was
just closing his door, but Burnamy pushed in, and asked to look at the
stork-scissors they had seen in the window. The gas was out, and the
shopman lighted a very dim candle, to show them.
"I knew you wanted to get them for her, after what she said, Mrs. March,"
he laughed, nervously, "and you must let me lend you the money."
"Why, of course!" she answered, joyfully humoring his feint. "Shall I
put my card in for the man to send home to her with them?"
"Well--no. No. Not your card--exactly. Or, yes! Yes, you must, I
They made the hushing street gay with their laughter; the next evening
Miss Triscoe came upon the Marches and Burnamy where they sat after
supper listening to the concert at Pupp's, and thanked Mrs. March for the
scissors. Then she and Burnamy had their laugh again, and Miss Triscoe
joined them, to her father's frowning mystification. He stared round for
a table; they were all taken, and he could not refuse the interest
Burnamy made with the waiters to bring them one and crowd it in. He had
to ask him to sup with them, and Burnamy sat down and heard the concert
through beside Miss Triscoe.
"What is so tremendously amusing in a pair of stork-scissors?" March
demanded, when his wife and he were alone.
"Why, I was wanting to tell you, dearest," she began, in a tone which he
felt to be wheedling, and she told the story of the scissors.
"Look here, my dear! Didn't you promise to let this love-affair alone?"
"That was on the ship. And besides, what would you have done, I should
like to know? Would you have refused to let him buy them for her?"
She added, carelessly, "He wants us to go to the Kurhaus ball with him."
"Oh, does he!"
"Yes. He says he knows that she can get her father to let her go if we
will chaperon them. And I promised that you would."
"That I would?"
"It will do just as well if you go. And it will be very amusing; you can
see something of Carlsbad society."
"But I'm not going!" he declared. "It would interfere with my cure. The
sitting up late would be bad enough, but I should get very hungry, and I
should eat potato salad and sausages, and drink beer, and do all sorts of
"Nonsense! The refreshments will be 'kurgemass', of course."
"You can go yourself," he said.
A ball is not the same thing for a woman after fifty as it is before
twenty, but still it has claims upon the imagination, and the novel
circumstance of a ball in the Kurhaus in Carlsbad enhanced these for Mrs.
March. It was the annual reunion which is given by municipal authority
in the large hall above the bathrooms; it is frequented with safety and
pleasure by curious strangers, and now, upon reflection, it began to have
for Mrs. March the charm of duty; she believed that she could finally
have made March go in her place, but she felt that she ought really to go
in his, and save him from the late hours and the late supper.
"Very well, then," she said at last, "I will go."
It appeared that any civil person might go to the reunion who chose to
pay two florins and a half. There must have been some sort of
restriction, and the ladies of Burnamy's party went with a good deal of
amused curiosity to see what the distinctions were; but they saw none
unless it was the advantages which the military had. The long hall over
the bathrooms shaped itself into a space for the dancing at one end, and
all the rest of it was filled with tables, which at half past eight were
crowded with people, eating, drinking, and smoking. The military enjoyed
the monopoly of a table next the rail dividing the dancing from the
dining space. There the tight-laced Herr Hauptmanns and Herr Lieutenants
sat at their sausage and beer and cigars in the intervals of the waltzes,
and strengthened themselves for a foray among the gracious Fraus and
Frauleins on the benches lining three sides of the dancing-space. From
the gallery above many civilian spectators looked down upon the gayety,
and the dress-coats of a few citizens figured among the uniforms.
As the evening wore on some ladies of greater fashion found their way to
the dancing-floor, and toward ten o'clock it became rather crowded. A
party of American girls showed their Paris dresses in the transatlantic
versions of the waltz. At first they danced with the young men who came
with them; but after a while they yielded to the custom of the place, and
danced with any of the officers who asked them.
"I know it's the custom," said Mrs. March to Miss Triscoe, who was at her
side in one of the waltzes she had decided to sit out, so as not to be
dancing all the time with Burnamy, "but I never can like it without an
"No," said the girl, with the air of putting temptation decidedly away,
"I don't believe papa would, either."
A young officer came up, and drooped in mute supplication before her.
She glanced at Mrs. March, who turned her face away; and she excused
herself with the pretence that she had promised the dance, and by good
fortune, Burnamy, who had been unscrupulously waltzing with a lady he did
not know, came up at the moment. She rose and put her hand on his arm,
and they both bowed to the officer before they whirled away. The officer
looked after them with amiable admiration; then he turned to Mrs. March
with a light of banter in his friendly eyes, and was unmistakably asking
her to dance. She liked his ironical daring, she liked it so much that
she forgot her objection to partners without introductions; she forgot
her fifty-odd years; she forgot that she was a mother of grown children
and even a mother-in-law; she remembered only the step of her out-dated
It seemed to be modern enough for the cheerful young officer, and they
were suddenly revolving with the rest. . . A tide of long-forgotten
girlhood welled up in her heart, and she laughed as she floated off on it
past the astonished eyes of Miss Triscoe and Burnamy. She saw them
falter, as if they had lost their step in their astonishment; then they
seemed both to vanish, and her partner had released her, and was helping
Miss Triscoe up from the floor; Burnamy was brushing the dust from his
knees, and the citizen who had bowled them over was boisterously
apologizing and incessantly bowing.
"Oh, are you hurt?" Mrs. March implored. "I'm sure you must be killed;
and I did it! I don't know, what I was thinking of!"
The girl laughed. "I'm not hurt a bit!"
They had one impulse to escape from the place, and from the sympathy and
congratulation. In the dressing-room she declared again that she was all
right. "How beautifully you waltz, Mrs. March!" she said, and she
laughed again, and would not agree with her that she had been ridiculous.
"But I'm glad those American girls didn't see me. And I can't be too
thankful papa didn't come!"
Mrs. March's heart sank at the thought of what General Triscoe would
think of her. "You must tell him I did it. I can never lift up my
"No, I shall not. No one did it," said the girl, magnanimously. She
looked down sidelong at her draperies. "I was so afraid I had torn my
dress! I certainly heard something rip."
It was one of the skirts of Burnamy's coat, which he had caught into his
hand and held in place till he could escape to the men's dressing-room,
where he had it pinned up so skillfully that the damage was not suspected
by the ladies. He had banged his knee abominably too; but they did not
suspect that either, as he limped home on the air beside them, first to
Miss Triscoe's pension, and then to Mrs. March's hotel.
It was quite eleven o'clock, which at Carlsbad is as late as three in the
morning anywhere else, when she let herself into her room. She decided
not to tell her husband, then; and even at breakfast, which they had at
the Posthof, she had not got to her confession, though she had told him
everything else about the ball, when the young officer with whom she had
danced passed between the tables near her. He caught her eye and bowed
with a smile of so much meaning that March asked, "Who's your pretty
"Oh, that!" she answered carelessly. "That was one of the officers at
the ball," and she laughed.
"You seem to be in the joke, too," he said. "What is it?"
"Oh, something. I'll tell you some time. Or perhaps you'll find out."
"I'm afraid you won't let me wait."
"No, I won't," and now she told him. She had expected teasing, ridicule,
sarcasm, anything but the psychological interest mixed with a sort of
retrospective tenderness which he showed. "I wish I could have seen you;
I always thought you danced well." He added: "It seems that you need a
The next morning, after March and General Triscoe had started off upon
one of the hill climbs, the young people made her go with them for a walk
up the Tepl, as far as the cafe of the Freundschaftsaal. In the grounds
an artist in silhouettes was cutting out the likenesses of people who
supposed themselves to have profiles, and they begged Mrs. March to sit
for hers. It was so good that she insisted on Miss Triscoe's sitting in
turn, and then Burnamy. Then he had the inspiration to propose that they
should all three sit together, and it appeared that such a group was
within the scope of the silhouettist's art; he posed them in his little
bower, and while he was mounting the picture they took turns, at five
kreutzers each, in listening to American tunes played by his Edison
Mrs. March felt that all this was weakening her moral fibre; but she
tried to draw the line at letting Burnamy keep the group. "Why not?" he
"You oughtn't to ask," she returned. "You've no business to have Miss
Triscoe's picture, if you must know."
"But you're there to chaperon us!" he persisted.
He began to laugh, and they all laughed when she said, "You need a
chaperon who doesn't lose her head, in a silhouette." But it seemed
useless to hold out after that, and she heard herself asking, "Shall we
let him keep it, Miss Triscoe?"
Burnamy went off to his work with Stoller, carrying the silhouette with
him, and she kept on with Miss Triscoe to her hotel. In turning from the
gate after she parted with the girl she found herself confronted with
Mrs. Adding and Rose. The ladies exclaimed at each other in an
astonishment from which they had to recover before they could begin to
talk, but from the first moment Mrs. March perceived that Mrs. Adding had
something to say. The more freely to say it she asked Mrs. March into
her hotel, which was in the same street with the pension of the Triscoes,
and she let her boy go off about the exploration of Carlsbad; he promised
to be back in an hour.
"Well, now what scrape are you in?" March asked when his wife came home,
and began to put off her things, with signs of excitement which he could
not fail to note. He was lying down after a long tramp, and he seemed
His question suggested something of anterior import, and she told him
about the silhouettes, and the advantage the young people had taken of
their power over her through their knowledge of her foolish behavior at
He said, lazily: "They seem to be working you for all you're worth. Is
"No; there is something worse. Something's happened which throws all
that quite in the shade. Mrs. Adding is here."
"Mrs. Adding?" he repeated, with a dimness for names which she would not
allow was growing on him.
"Don't be stupid, dear! Mrs. Adding, who sat opposite Mr. Kenby on the
Norumbia. The mother of the nice boy."
"Oh, yes! Well, that's good!"
"No, it isn't! Don't say such a thing--till you know!" she cried, with a
certain shrillness which warned him of an unfathomed seriousness in the
fact. He sat up as if better to confront the mystery. "I have been at
her hotel, and she has been telling me that she's just come from Berlin,
and that Mr. Kenby's been there, and--Now I won't have you making a joke
of it, or breaking out about it, as if it were not a thing to be looked
for; though of course with the others on our hands you're not to blame
for not thinking of it. But you can see yourself that she's young and
good-looking. She did speak beautifully of her son, and if it were not
for him, I don't believe she would hesitate--"
"For heaven's sake, what are you driving at?" March broke in, and she
answered him as vehemently:
"He's asked her to marry him!"
"Kenby? Mrs. Adding?"
"Well, now, Isabel, this won't do! They ought to be ashamed of
themselves. With that morbid, sensitive boy! It's shocking--"
"Will you listen? Or do you want me to stop?" He arrested himself at
her threat, and she resumed, after giving her contempt of his turbulence
time to sink in, "She refused him, of course!"
"Oh, all right, then!"
"You take it in such a way that I've a great mind not to tell you
anything more about it."
"I know you have," he said, stretching himself out again; "but you'll do
it, all the same. You'd have been awfully disappointed if I had been
calm and collected."
"She refused him," she began again, "although she respects him, because
she feels that she ought to devote herself to her son. Of course she's
very young, still; she was married when she was only nineteen to a man
twice her age, and she's not thirty-five yet. I don't think she ever
cared much for her husband; and she wants you to find out something about
"I never heard of him. I--"
Mrs. March made a "tchck!" that would have recalled the most consequent
of men from the most logical and coherent interpretation to the true
intent of her words. He perceived his mistake, and said, resolutely:
"Well, I won't do it. If she's refused him, that's the end of it; she
needn't know anything about him, and she has no right to."
"Now I think differently," said Mrs. March, with an inductive air.
"Of course she has to know about him, now." She stopped, and March
turned his head and looked expectantly at her. "He said he would not
consider her answer final, but would hope to see her again and--She's
afraid he may follow her--What are you looking at me so for?"
"Is he coming here?"
"Am I to blame if he is? He said he was going to write to her."
March burst into a laugh. "Well, they haven't been beating about the
bush! When I think how Miss Triscoe has been pursuing Burnamy from the
first moment she set eyes on him, with the settled belief that she was
running from him, and he imagines that he has been boldly following her,
without the least hope from her, I can't help admiring the simple
directness of these elders."
"And if Kenby wants to talk with you, what will you say?" she cut in
"I'll say I don't like the subject. What am I in Carlsbad for? I came
for the cure, and I'm spending time and money on it. I might as well go
and take my three cups of Felsenquelle on a full stomach as to listen to
"I know it's bad for you, and I wish we had never seen those people,"
said Mrs. March. "I don't believe he'll want to talk with you; but if--"
"Is Mrs. Adding in this hotel? I'm not going to have them round in my
"She isn't. She's at one of the hotels on the hill."
"Very well, let her stay there, then. They can manage their love-affairs
in their own way. The only one I care the least for is the boy."
"Yes, it is forlorn for him. But he likes Mr. Kenby, and--No, it's
horrid, and you can't make it anything else!"
"Well, I'm not trying to." He turned his face away. "I must get my nap,
now." After she thought he must have fallen asleep, he said, "The first
thing you know, those old Eltwins will be coming round and telling us
that they're going to get divorced." Then he really slept.
The mid-day dinner at Pupp's was the time to see the Carlsbad world, and
the Marches had the habit of sitting long at table to watch it.
There was one family in whom they fancied a sort of literary quality, as
if they had come out of some pleasant German story, but they never knew
anything about them. The father by his dress must have been a Protestant
clergyman; the mother had been a beauty and was still very handsome; the
daughter was good-looking, and of a good-breeding which was both girlish
and ladylike. They commended themselves by always taking the table
d'hote dinner, as the Marches did, and eating through from the soup and
the rank fresh-water fish to the sweet, upon the same principle: the
husband ate all the compote and gave the others his dessert, which was
not good for him. A young girl of a different fascination remained as
much a mystery. She was small and of an extreme tenuity, which became
more bewildering as she advanced through her meal, especially at supper,
which she made of a long cucumber pickle, a Frankfort sausage of twice
the pickle's length, and a towering goblet of beer; in her lap she held a
shivering little hound; she was in the decorous keeping of an elderly
maid, and had every effect of being a gracious Fraulein. A curious
contrast to her Teutonic voracity was the temperance of a young Latin
swell, imaginably from Trieste, who sat long over his small coffee and
cigarette, and tranquilly mused upon the pages of an Italian newspaper.
At another table there was a very noisy lady, short and fat, in flowing
draperies of white, who commanded a sallow family of South-Americans, and
loudly harangued them in South-American Spanish; she flared out in a
picture which nowhere lacked strong effects; and in her background lurked
a mysterious black face and figure, ironically subservient to the old
man, the mild boy, and the pretty young girl in the middle distance of
the family group.
Amidst the shows of a hardened worldliness there were touching glimpses
of domesticity and heart: a young bride fed her husband soup from her own
plate with her spoon, unabashed by the publicity; a mother and her two
pretty daughters hung about a handsome officer, who must have been newly
betrothed to one of the girls; and, the whole family showed a helpless
fondness for him, which he did not despise, though he held it in check;
the girls dressed alike, and seemed to have for their whole change of
costume a difference from time to time in the color of their sleeves.
The Marches believed they had seen the growth of the romance which had
eventuated so happily; and they saw other romances which did not in any
wise eventuate. Carlsbad was evidently one of the great marriage marts
of middle Europe, where mothers brought their daughters to be admired,
and everywhere the flower of life was blooming for the hand of love.
It blew by on all the promenades in dresses and hats as pretty as they
could be bought or imagined; but it was chiefly at Pupp's that it
flourished. For the most part it seemed to flourish in vain, and to be
destined to be put by for another season to dream, bulblike, of the
coming summer in the quiet of Moldavian and Transylvanian homes.
Perhaps it was oftener of fortunate effect than the spectators knew; but
for their own pleasure they would not have had their pang for it less;
and March objected to having a more explicit demand upon his sympathy.
"We could have managed," he said, at the close of their dinner, as he
looked compassionately round upon the parterre of young girls, "we could
have managed with Burnamy and Miss Triscoe; but to have Mrs. Adding and
Kenby launched upon us is too much. Of course I like Kenby, and if the
widow alone were concerned I would give him my blessing: a wife more or a
widow less is not going to disturb the equilibrium of the universe;
but--" He stopped, and then he went on: "Men and women are well enough.
They complement each other very agreeably, and they have very good times
together. But why should they get in love?--It is sure to make them
uncomfortable to themselves and annoying to others." He broke off, and
stared about him. "My dear, this is really charming--almost as charming
as the Posthof." The crowd spread from the open vestibule of the hotel
and the shelter of its branching pavilion roofs until it was dimmed in
the obscurity of the low grove across the way in an ultimate depth where
the musicians were giving the afternoon concert. Between its two
stationary divisions moved a current of promenaders, with some such
effect as if the colors of a lovely garden should have liquefied and
flowed in mingled rose and lilac, pink and yellow, and white and orange,
and all the middle tints of modern millinery. Above on one side were the
agreeable bulks of architecture, in the buff and gray of Carlsbad; and
far beyond on the other were the upland slopes, with villas and long
curves of country roads, belted in with miles of wall. "It would be
about as offensive to have a love-interest that one personally knew about
intruded here," he said, "as to have a two-spanner carriage driven
through this crowd. It ought to be forbidden by the municipality."
Mrs. March listened with her ears, but not with her eyes, and she
answered: "See that handsome young Greek priest! Isn't he an
archimandrite? The portier said he was."
"Then let him pass for an archimandrite. Now," he recurred to his
grievance again, dreamily, "I have got to take Papa Triscoe in hand, and
poison his mind against Burnamy, and I shall have to instil a few drops
of venomous suspicion against Kenby into the heart of poor little Rose
Adding. Oh;" he broke out, "they will spoil everything. They'll be with
us morning, noon, and night," and he went on to work the joke of repining
at his lot. The worst thing, he said, would be the lovers' pretence of
being interested in something besides themselves, which they were no more
capable of than so many lunatics. How could they care for pretty girls
playing tennis on an upland level, in the waning afternoon? Or a cartful
of peasant women stopping to cross themselves at a way-side shrine? Or a
whistling boy with holes in his trousers pausing from some wayside
raspberries to touch his hat and say good-morning? Or those preposterous
maidens sprinkling linen on the grass from watering-pots while the skies
were full of rain? Or that blacksmith shop where Peter the Great made a
horseshoe. Or the monument of the young warrior-poet Koerner, with a
gentle-looking girl and her mother reading and knitting on a bench before
it? These simple pleasures sufficed them, but what could lovers really
care for them? A peasant girl flung down on the grassy road-side, fast
asleep, while her yoke-fellow, the gray old dog, lay in his harness near
her with one drowsy eye half open for her and the other for the contents
of their cart; a boy chasing a red squirrel in the old upper town beyond
the Tepl, and enlisting the interest of all the neighbors; the negro
door-keeper at the Golden Shield who ought to have spoken our Southern
English, but who spoke bad German and was from Cairo; the sweet afternoon
stillness in the woods; the good German mothers crocheting at the Posthof
concerts. Burnamy as a young poet might hate felt the precious quality
of these things, if his senses had not been holden by Miss Triscoe; and
she might have felt it if only he had done so. But as it was it would be
lost upon their preoccupation; with Mrs. Adding and Kenby it would be
A day or two after Mrs: March had met Mrs. Adding, she went with her
husband to revere a certain magnificent blackamoor whom be had discovered
at the entrance of one of the aristocratic hotels on the Schlossberg,
where he performed the function of a kind of caryatid, and looked, in the
black of his skin and the white of his flowing costume, like a colossal
figure carved in ebony and ivory. They took a roundabout way through a
street entirely of villa-pensions; every house in Carlsbad but one is a
pension if it is not n hotel; but these were of a sort of sentimental
prettiness; with each a little garden before it, and a bower with an iron
table in it for breakfasting and supping out-doors; and he said that they
would be the very places for bridal couples who wished to spend the
honey-moon in getting well of the wedding surfeit. She denounced him for
saying such a thing as that, and for his inconsistency in complaining of
lovers while he was willing to think of young married people. He
contended that there was a great difference in the sort of demand that
young married people made upon the interest of witnesses, and that they
were at least on their way to sanity; and before they agreed, they had
come to the hotel with the blackamoor at the door. While they lingered,
sharing the splendid creature's hospitable pleasure in the spectacle he
formed, they were aware of a carriage with liveried coachman and footman
at the steps of the hotel; the liveries were very quiet and
distinguished, and they learned that the equipage was waiting for the
Prince of Coburg, or the Princess of Montenegro, or Prince Henry of
Prussia; there were differing opinions among the twenty or thirty
bystanders. Mrs. March said she did not care which it was; and she was
patient of the denouement, which began to postpone itself with delicate
delays. After repeated agitations at the door among portiers,
proprietors, and waiters, whose fluttered spirits imparted their thrill
to the spectators, while the coachman and footman remained
sculpturesquely impassive in their places, the carriage moved aside and
let an energetic American lady and her family drive up to the steps. The
hotel people paid her a tempered devotion, but she marred the effect by
rushing out and sitting on a balcony to wait for the delaying royalties.
There began to be more promises of their early appearance; a footman got
down and placed himself at the carriage door; the coachman stiffened
himself on his box; then he relaxed; the footman drooped, and even
wandered aside. There came a moment when at some signal the carriage
drove quite away from the portal and waited near the gate of the
stableyard; it drove back, and the spectators redoubled their attention.
Nothing happened, and some of them dropped off. At last an indescribable
significance expressed itself in the official group at the door; a man in
a high hat and dresscoat hurried out; a footman hurried to meet him; they
spoke inaudibly together. The footman mounted to his place; the coachman
gathered up his reins and drove rapidly out of the hotel-yard, down the
street, round the corner, out of sight. The man in the tall hat and
dress-coat went in; the official group at the threshold dissolved; the
statue in ivory and ebony resumed its place; evidently the Hoheit of
Coburg, or Montenegro, or Prussia, was not going to take the air.
"My dear, this is humiliating."
"Not at all! I wouldn't have missed it for anything. Think how near we
came to seeing them!"
"I shouldn't feel so shabby if we had seen them. But to hang round here
in this plebeian abeyance, and then to be defeated and defrauded at last!
I wonder how long this sort of thing is going on?"
"This base subjection of the imagination to the Tom Foolery of the Ages."
"I don't know what you mean. I'm sure it's very natural to want to see a
"Only too natural. It's so deeply founded in nature that after denying
royalty by word and deed for a hundred years, we Americans are hungrier
for it than anybody else. Perhaps we may come back to it!"
They looked up at the Austrian flag on the tower of the hotel, languidly
curling and uncurling in the bland evening air, as it had over a thousand
years of stupid and selfish monarchy, while all the generous republics of
the Middle Ages had perished, and the commonwealths of later times had
passed like fever dreams. That dull, inglorious empire had antedated or
outlived Venice and Genoa, Florence and Siena, the England of Cromwell,
the Holland of the Stadtholders, and the France of many revolutions, and
all the fleeting democracies which sprang from these.
March began to ask himself how his curiosity differed from that of the
Europeans about him; then he became aware that these had detached
themselves, and left him exposed to the presence of a fellow countryman.
It was Otterson, with Mrs. Otterson; he turned upon March with hilarious
recognition. "Hello! Most of the Americans in Carlsbad seem to be
hanging round here for a sight of these kings. Well, we don't have a
great many of 'em, and it's natural we shouldn't want to miss any. But
now, you Eastern fellows, you go to Europe every summer, and yet you
don't seem to get enough of 'em. Think it's human nature, or did it get
so ground into us in the old times that we can't get it out, no
difference what we say?"
"That's very much what I've been asking myself," said March. "Perhaps
it's any kind of show. We'd wait nearly as long for the President to
come out, wouldn't we?"
"I reckon we would. But we wouldn't for his nephew, or his second
"Well, they wouldn't be in the way of the succession."
"I guess you're right." The Iowan seemed better satisfied with March's
philosophy than March felt himself, and he could not forbear adding:
"But I don't, deny that we should wait for the President because he's a
kind of king too. I don't know that we shall ever get over wanting to
see kings of some kind. Or at least my wife won't. May I present you to
"Happy to meet you, Mrs. March," said the Iowan. "Introduce you to Mrs.
Otterson. I'm the fool in my family, and I know just how you feel about
a chance like this. I don't mean that you're--"
They all laughed at the hopeless case, and Mrs. March said, with one of
her unexpected likings: "I understand, Mr. Otterson. And I would rather
be our kind of fool than the kind that pretends not to care for the sight
of a king."
"Like you and me, Mrs. Otterson," said March.
"Indeed, indeed," said the lady, "I'd like to see a king too, if it
didn't take all night. Good-evening," she said, turning her husband
about with her, as if she suspected a purpose of patronage in Mrs. March,
and was not going to have it.
Otterson looked over his shoulder to explain, despairingly: "The trouble
with me is that when I do get a chance to talk English, there's such a
flow of language it carries me away, and I don't know just where I'm
There were several kings and their kindred at Carlsbad that summer. One
day the Duchess of Orleans drove over from Marienbad, attended by the
Duke on his bicycle. After luncheon, they reappeared for a moment before
mounting to her carriage with their Secretaries: two young French
gentlemen whose dress and bearing better satisfied Mrs. March's exacting
passion for an aristocratic air in their order. The Duke was fat and
fair, as a Bourbon should be, and the Duchess fatter, though not so fair,
as became a Hapsburg, but they were both more plebeian-looking than their
retainers, who were slender as well as young, and as perfectly appointed
as English tailors could imagine them.
"It wouldn't do for the very highest sort of Highhotes," March declared,
"to look their own consequence personally; they have to leave that, like
everything else, to their inferiors."
By a happy heterophemy of Mrs. March's the German Hoheit had now become
Highhote, which was so much more descriptive that they had permanently
adopted it, and found comfort to their republican pride in the mockery
which it poured upon the feudal structure of society. They applied it
with a certain compunction, however, to the King of Servia, who came a
few days after the Duke and Duchess: he was such a young King, and of
such a little country. They watched for him from the windows of the
reading-room, while the crowd outside stood six deep on the three sides
of the square before the hotel, and the two plain public carriages which
brought the King and his suite drew tamely up at the portal, where the
proprietor and some civic dignitaries received him. His moderated
approach, so little like that of royalty on the stage, to which Americans
are used, allowed Mrs. March to make sure of the pale, slight,
insignificant, amiable-looking youth in spectacles as the sovereign she
was ambuscading. Then no appeal to her principles could keep her from
peeping through the reading-room door into the rotunda, where the King
graciously but speedily dismissed the civic gentlemen and the proprietor,
and vanished into the elevator. She was destined to see him so often
afterwards that she scarcely took the trouble to time her dining and
supping by that of the simple potentate, who had his meals in one of the
public rooms, with three gentlemen of his suite, in sack-coats like
himself, after the informal manner of the place.
Still another potentate, who happened that summer to be sojourning
abroad, in the interval of a successful rebellion, was at the opera one
night with some of his faithful followers. Burnamy had offered Mrs.
March, who supposed that he merely wanted her and her husband with him,
places in a box; but after she eagerly accepted, it seemed that he wished
her to advise him whether it would do to ask Miss Triscoe and her father
to join them.
"Why not?" she returned, with an arching of the eyebrows.
"Why," he said, "perhaps I had better make a clean breast of it."
"Perhaps you had," she said, and they both laughed, though he laughed
with a knot between his eyes.
"The fact is, you know, this isn't my treat, exactly. It's Mr.
Stoller's." At the surprise in her face he hurried on. "He's got back
his first letter in the paper, and he's so much pleased with the way he
reads in print, that he wants to celebrate."
"Yes," said Mrs. March, non-committally.
Burnamy laughed again. "But he's bashful, and he isn't sure that you
would all take it in the right way. He wants you as friends of mine; and
he hasn't quite the courage to ask you himself."
This seemed to Mrs. March so far from bad that she said: "That's very
nice of him. Then he's satisfied with--with your help? I'm glad of
"Thank you. He's met the Triscoes, and he thought it would be pleasant
to you if they went, too."
"He thought," Burnamy went on, with the air of feeling his way, "that we
might all go to the opera, and then--then go for a little supper
afterwards at Schwarzkopf's."
He named the only place in Carlsbad where yon can sup so late as ten
o'clock; as the opera begins at six, and is over at half past eight, none
but the wildest roisterers frequent the place.
"Oh!" said Mrs. March. "I don't know how a late supper would agree with
my husband's cure. I should have to ask him."
"We could make it very hygienic," Burnamy explained.
In repeating his invitation she blamed Burnamy's uncandor so much that
March took his part, as perhaps she intended, and said, "Oh, nonsense,"
and that he should like to go in for the whole thing; and General Triscoe
accepted as promptly for himself and his daughter. That made six people,
Burnamy counted up, and he feigned a decent regret that there was not
room for Mrs. Adding and her son; he would have liked to ask them.
Mrs. March did not enjoy it so much as coming with her husband alone when
they took two florin seats in the orchestra for the comedy. The comedy
always began half an hour earlier than the opera, and they had a five-
o'clock supper at the Theatre-Cafe before they went, and they got to
sleep by nine o'clock; now they would be up till half past ten at least,
and that orgy at Schwarzkopf's might not be at all good for him. But
still she liked being there; and Miss Triscoe made her take the best
seat; Burnamy and Stoller made the older men take the other seats beside
the ladies, while they sat behind, or stood up, when they, wished to see,
as people do in the back of a box. Stoller was not much at ease in
evening dress, but he bore himself with a dignity which was not perhaps
so gloomy as it looked; Mrs. March thought him handsome in his way, and
required Miss Triscoe to admire him. As for Burnamy's beauty it was not
necessary to insist upon that; he had the distinction of slender youth;
and she liked to think that no Highhote there was of a more patrician
presence than this yet unprinted contributor to 'Every Other Week'.
He and Stoller seemed on perfect terms; or else in his joy he was able to
hide the uneasiness which she had fancied in him from the first time she
saw them together, and which had never been quite absent from his manner
in Stoller's presence. Her husband always denied that it existed, or if
it did that it was anything but Burnamy's effort to get on common ground
with an inferior whom fortune had put over him.
The young fellow talked with Stoller, and tried to bring him into the
range of the general conversation. He leaned over the ladies, from time
to time, and pointed out the notables whom he saw in the house; she was
glad, for his sake, that he did not lean less over her than over Miss
Triscoe. He explained certain military figures in the boxes opposite,
and certain ladies of rank who did not look their rank; Miss Triscoe, to
Mrs. March's thinking, looked their united ranks, and more; her dress was
very simple, but of a touch which saved it from being insipidly girlish;
her beauty was dazzling.
"Do you see that old fellow in the corner chair just behind the
orchestra?" asked Burnamy. "He's ninety-six years old, and he comes to
the theatre every night, and falls asleep as soon as the curtain rises,
and sleeps through till the end of the act."
"How dear!" said the girl, leaning forward to fix the nonagenarian with
her glasses, while many other glasses converged upon her. "Oh, wouldn't
you like to know him, Mr. March?"
"I should consider it a liberal education. They have brought these
things to a perfect system in Europe. There is nothing to make life pass
smoothly like inflexible constancy to an entirely simple custom. My
dear," he added to his wife, "I wish we'd seen this sage before. He'd
have helped us through a good many hours of unintelligible comedy. I'm
always coming as Burnamy's guest, after this."
The young fellow swelled with pleasure in his triumph, and casting an eye
about the theatre to cap it, he caught sight of that other potentate.
He whispered joyfully, "Ah! We've got two kings here to-night," and he
indicated in a box of their tier just across from that where the King of
Servia sat, the well-known face of the King of New York.
"He isn't bad-looking," said March, handing his glass to General Triscoe.
"I've not seen many kings in exile; a matter of a few Carlist princes and
ex-sovereign dukes, and the good Henry V. of France, once, when I was
staying a month in Venice; but I don't think they any of them looked the
part better. I suppose he has his dream of recurring power like the
"Dream!" said General Triscoe with the glass at his eyes. "He's dead
sure of it."
"Oh, you don't really mean that!"
"I don't know why I should have changed my mind."
"Then it's as if we were in the presence of Charles II. just before he
was called back to England, or Napoleon in the last moments of Elba.
It's better than that. The thing is almost unique; it's a new situation
in history. Here's a sovereign who has no recognized function, no legal
status, no objective existence. He has no sort of public being, except
in the affection of his subjects. It took an upheaval little short of an
earthquake to unseat him. His rule, as we understand it, was bad for all
classes; the poor suffered more than the rich; the people have now had
three years of self-government; and yet this wonderful man has such a
hold upon the masses that he is going home to win the cause of oppression
at the head of the oppressed. When he's in power again, he will be as
subjective as ever, with the power of civic life and death, and an
idolatrous following perfectly ruthless in the execution of his will."
"We've only begun," said the general. "This kind of king is municipal,
now; but he's going to be national. And then, good-by, Republic!"
"The only thing like it," March resumed, too incredulous of the evil
future to deny himself the aesthetic pleasure of the parallel, "is the
rise of the Medici in Florence, but even the Medici were not mere
manipulators of pulls; they had some sort of public office, with some
sort of legislated tenure of it. The King of New York is sovereign by
force of will alone, and he will reign in the voluntary submission of the
majority. Is our national dictator to be of the same nature and
"It would be the scientific evolution, wouldn't it?"
The ladies listened with the perfunctory attention which women pay to any
sort of inquiry which is not personal. Stoller had scarcely spoken yet;
he now startled them all by demanding, with a sort of vindictive force,
"Why shouldn't he have the power, if they're willing to let him?"
"Yes," said General Triscoe, with a tilt of his head towards March.
"That's what we must ask ourselves more and more."
March leaned back in his chair, and looked up over his shoulder at
Stoller. "Well, I don't know. Do you think it's quite right for a man
to use an unjust power, even if others are willing that he should?"
Stoller stopped with an air of bewilderment as if surprised on the point
of saying that he thought just this. He asked instead, "What's wrong
"Well, that's one of those things that have to be felt, I suppose. But
if a man came to you, and offered to be your slave for a certain
consideration--say a comfortable house, and a steady job, that wasn't too
hard--should you feel it morally right to accept the offer? I don't say
think it right, for there might be a kind of logic for it."
Stoller seemed about to answer; he hesitated; and before he had made any
response, the curtain rose.
There are few prettier things than Carlsbad by night from one of the many
bridges which span the Tepl in its course through the town. If it is a
starry night, the torrent glides swiftly away with an inverted firmament
in its bosom, to which the lamps along its shores and in the houses on
either side contribute a planetary splendor of their own. By nine
o'clock everything is hushed; not a wheel is heard at that dead hour;
the few feet shuffling stealthily through the Alte Wiese whisper a
caution of silence to those issuing with a less guarded tread from the
opera; the little bowers that overhang the stream are as dark and mute as
the restaurants across the way which serve meals in them by day; the
whole place is as forsaken as other cities at midnight. People get
quickly home to bed, or if they have a mind to snatch a belated joy, they
slip into the Theater-Cafe, where the sleepy Frauleins serve them, in an
exemplary drowse, with plates of cold ham and bottles of the gently
gaseous waters of Giesshubl. Few are of the bold badness which delights
in a supper at Schwarzkopf's, and even these are glad of the drawn
curtains which hide their orgy from the chance passer.
The invalids of Burnamy's party kept together, strengthening themselves
in a mutual purpose not to be tempted to eat anything which was not
strictly 'kurgemass'. Mrs. March played upon the interest which each of
them felt in his own case so artfully that she kept them talking of their
cure, and left Burnamy and Miss Triscoe to a moment on the bridge, by
which they profited, while the others strolled on, to lean against the
parapet and watch the lights in the skies and the water, and be alone
together. The stream shone above and below, and found its way out of and
into the darkness under the successive bridges; the town climbed into the
night with lamp-lit windows here and there, till the woods of the hill-
sides darkened down to meet it, and fold it in an embrace from which some
white edifice showed palely in the farthest gloom.
He tried to make her think they could see that great iron crucifix which
watches over it day and night from its piny cliff. He had a fancy for a
poem, very impressionistic, which should convey the notion of the
crucifix's vigil. He submitted it to her; and they remained talking till
the others had got out of sight and hearing; and she was letting him keep
the hand on her arm which he had put there to hold her from falling over
the parapet, when they were both startled by approaching steps, and a
voice calling, "Look here! Who's running this supper party, anyway?"
His wife had detached March from her group for the mission, as soon as
she felt that the young people were abusing her kindness. They answered
him with hysterical laughter, and Burnamy said, "Why, it's Mr. Stoller's
treat, you know."
At the restaurant, where the proprietor obsequiously met the party on the
threshold and bowed them into a pretty inner room, with a table set for
their supper, Stoller had gained courage to play the host openly. He
appointed General Triscoe to the chief seat; he would have put his
daughter next to him, if the girl had not insisted upon Mrs. March's
having the place, and going herself to sit next to March, whom she said
she had not been able to speak a word to the whole evening. But she did
not talk a great deal to him; he smiled to find how soon he dropped out
of the conversation, and Burnamy, from his greater remoteness across the
table, dropped into it. He really preferred the study of Stoller, whose
instinct of a greater worldly quality in the Triscoes interested him;
he could see him listening now to what General Triscoe was saying to Mrs.
March, and now to what Burnamy was saying to Miss Triscoe; his strong,