Part 1 out of 4
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
At the first station where the train stopped, a young German bowed
himself into the compartment with the Marches, and so visibly resisted an
impulse to smoke that March begged him to light his cigarette. In the
talk which this friendly overture led to between them he explained that
he was a railway architect, employed by the government on that line of
road, and was travelling officially. March spoke of Nuremberg; he owned
the sort of surfeit he had suffered from its excessive mediaevalism, and
the young man said it was part of the new imperial patriotism to cherish
the Gothic throughout Germany; no other sort of architecture was
permitted in Nuremberg. But they would find enough classicism at
Ansbach, he promised them, and he entered with sympathetic intelligence
into their wish to see this former capital when March told him they were
going to stop there, in hopes of something typical of the old disjointed
Germany of the petty principalities, the little paternal despotisms now
As they talked on, partly in German and partly in English, their purpose
in visiting Ansbach appeared to the Marches more meditated than it was.
In fact it was somewhat accidental; Ansbach was near Nuremberg; it was
not much out of the way to Holland. They took more and more credit to
themselves for a reasoned and definite motive, in the light of their
companion's enthusiasm for the place, and its charm began for them with
the drive from the station through streets whose sentiment was both
Italian and French, and where there was a yellowish cast in the gray of
the architecture which was almost Mantuan. They rested their
sensibilities, so bruised and fretted by Gothic angles and points,
against the smooth surfaces of the prevailing classicistic facades of the
houses as they passed, and when they arrived at their hotel, an old
mansion of Versailles type, fronting on a long irregular square planted
with pollard sycamores, they said that it might as well have been Lucca.
The archway and stairway of the hotel were draped with the Bavarian
colors, and they were obscurely flattered to learn that Prince Leopold,
the brother of the Prince-Regent of the kingdom, had taken rooms there,
on his way to the manoeuvres at Nuremberg, and was momently expected with
his suite. They realized that they were not of the princely party,
however, when they were told that he had sole possession of the dining-
room, and they went out to another hotel, and had their supper in keeping
delightfully native. People seemed to come there to write their letters
and make up their accounts, as well as to eat their suppers; they called
for stationery like characters in old comedy, and the clatter of crockery
and the scratching of pens went on together; and fortune offered the
Marches a delicate reparation for their exclusion from their own hotel in
the cold popular reception of the prince which they got back just in time
to witness. A very small group of people, mostly women and boys, had
gathered to see him arrive, but there was no cheering or any sign of
public interest. Perhaps he personally merited none; he looked a dull,
sad man, with his plain, stubbed features; and after he had mounted to
his apartment, the officers of his staff stood quite across the landing,
and barred the passage of the Americans, ignoring even Mrs. March's
presence, as they talked together.
"Well, my dear," said her husband, "here you have it at last. This is
what you've been living for, ever since we came to Germany. It's a great
"Yes. What are you going to do?"
"Who? I? Oh, nothing! This is your affair; it's for you to act."
If she had been young, she might have withered them with a glance; she
doubted now if her dim eyes would have any such power; but she advanced
steadily upon them, and then the officers seemed aware of her, and stood
March always insisted that they stood aside apologetically, but she held
as firmly that they stood aside impertinently, or at least indifferently,
and that the insult to her American womanhood was perfectly ideal. It is
true that nothing of the kind happened again during their stay at the
hotel; the prince's officers were afterwards about in the corridors and
on the stairs, but they offered no shadow of obstruction to her going and
coming, and the landlord himself was not so preoccupied with his
highhotes but he had time to express his grief that she had been obliged
to go out for supper.
They satisfied the passion for the little obsolete capital which had been
growing upon them by strolling past the old Resident at an hour so
favorable for a first impression. It loomed in the gathering dusk even
vaster than it was, and it was really vast enough for the pride of a King
of France, much more a Margrave of Ansbach. Time had blackened and
blotched its coarse limestone walls to one complexion with the statues
swelling and strutting in the figure of Roman legionaries before it, and
standing out against the evening sky along its balustraded roof, and had
softened to the right tint the stretch of half a dozen houses with
mansard roofs and renaissance facades obsequiously in keeping with the
Versailles ideal of a Resident. In the rear, and elsewhere at fit
distance from its courts, a native architecture prevailed; and at no
great remove the Marches found themselves in a simple German town again.
There they stumbled upon a little bookseller's shop blinking in a quiet
corner, and bought three or four guides and small histories of Ansbach,
which they carried home, and studied between drowsing and waking. The
wonderful German syntax seems at its most enigmatical in this sort of
literature, and sometimes they lost themselves in its labyrinths
completely, and only made their way perilously out with the help of
cumulative declensions, past articles and adjectives blindly seeking
their nouns, to long-procrastinated verbs dancing like swamp-fires in the
distance. They emerged a little less ignorant than they went in, and
better qualified than they would otherwise have been for their second
visit to the Schloss, which they paid early the next morning.
They were so early, indeed, that when they mounted from the great inner
court, much too big for Ansbach, if not for the building, and rung the
custodian's bell, a smiling maid who let them into an ante-room, where
she kept on picking over vegetables for her dinner, said the custodian
was busy, and could not be seen till ten o'clock. She seemed, in her
nook of the pretentious pile, as innocently unconscious of its history
as any hen-sparrow who had built her nest in some coign of its
architecture; and her friendly, peaceful domesticity remained a wholesome
human background to the tragedies and comedies of the past, and held them
in a picturesque relief in which they were alike tolerable and even
The history of Ansbach strikes its roots in the soil of fable, and above
ground is a gnarled and twisted growth of good and bad from the time of
the Great Charles to the time of the Great Frederick. Between these
times she had her various rulers, ecclesiastical and secular, in various
forms of vassalage to the empire; but for nearly four centuries her
sovereignty was in the hands of the margraves, who reigned in a
constantly increasing splendor till the last sold her outright to the
King of Prussia in 1791, and went to live in England on the proceeds.
She had taken her part in the miseries and glories of the wars that
desolated Germany, but after the Reformation, when she turned from the
ancient faith to which she owed her cloistered origin under St.
Gumpertus, her people had peace except when their last prince sold them
to fight the battles of others. It is in this last transaction that her
history, almost in the moment when she ceased to have a history of her
own, links to that of the modern world, and that it came home to the
Marches in their national character; for two thousand of those poor
Ansbach mercenaries were bought up by England and sent to put down a
rebellion in her American colonies.
Humanly, they were more concerned for the Last Margrave, because of
certain qualities which made him the Best Margrave, in spite of the
defects of his qualities. He was the son of the Wild Margrave, equally
known in the Ansbach annals, who may not have been the Worst Margrave,
but who had certainly a bad trick of putting his subjects to death
without trial, and in cases where there was special haste, with his own
hand. He sent his son to the university at Utrecht because he believed
that the republican influences in Holland would be wholesome for him, and
then he sent him to travel in Italy; but when the boy came home looking
frail and sick, the Wild Margrave charged his official travelling
companion with neglect, and had the unhappy Hofrath Meyer hanged without
process for this crime. One of the gentlemen of his realm, for a
pasquinade on the Margrave, was brought to the scaffold; he had, at
various times, twenty-two of his soldiers shot with arrows and bullets or
hanged for desertion, besides many whose penalties his clemency commuted
to the loss of an ear or a nose; a Hungarian who killed his hunting-dog,
he had broken alive on the wheel. A soldier's wife was hanged for
complicity in a case of desertion; a young soldier who eloped with the
girl he loved was brought to Ansbach from a neighboring town, and hanged
with her on the same gallows. A sentry at the door of one of the
Margrave's castles amiably complied with the Margrave's request to let
him take his gun for a moment, on the pretence of wishing to look at it.
For this breach of discipline the prince covered him with abuse and gave
him over to his hussars, who bound him to a horse's tail and dragged him
through the streets; he died of his injuries. The kennel-master who had
charge of the Margrave's dogs was accused of neglecting them: without
further inquiry the Margrave rode to the man's house and shot him down on
his own threshold. A shepherd who met the Margrave on a shying horse did
not get his flock out of the way quickly enough; the Margrave demanded
the pistols of a gentleman in his company, but he answered that they were
not loaded, and the shepherd's life was saved. As they returned home the
gentleman fired them off. "What does that mean?" cried the Margrave,
furiously. "It means, gracious lord, that you will sleep sweeter
tonight, for not having heard my pistols an hour sooner."
From this it appears that the gracious lord had his moments of regret;
but perhaps it is not altogether strange that when he died, the whole
population "stormed through the streets to meet his funeral train, not in
awe-stricken silence to meditate on the fall of human grandeur, but to
unite in an eager tumult of rejoicing, as if some cruel brigand who had
long held the city in terror were delivered over to them bound and in
chains." For nearly thirty years this blood-stained miscreant had
reigned over his hapless people in a sovereign plenitude of power, which
by the theory of German imperialism in our day is still a divine right.
They called him the Wild Margrave, in their instinctive revolt from the
belief that any man not untamably savage could be guilty of his
atrocities; and they called his son the Last Margrave, with a touch of
the poetry which perhaps records a regret for their extinction as a
state. He did not harry them as his father had done; his mild rule was
the effect partly of the indifference and distaste for his country bred,
by his long sojourns abroad; but doubtless also it was the effect of a
kindly nature. Even in the matter of selling a few thousands of them to
fight the battles of a bad cause on the other side of the world, he had
the best of motives, and faithfully applied the proceeds to the payment
of the state debt and the embellishment of the capital.
His mother was a younger sister of Frederick the Great, and was so
constantly at war with her husband that probably she had nothing to do
with the marriage which the Wild Margrave forced upon their son. Love
certainly had nothing to do with it, and the Last Margrave early escaped
from it to the society of Mlle. Clairon, the great French tragedienne,
whom he met in Paris, and whom he persuaded to come and make her home
with him in Ansbach. She lived there seventeen years, and though always
an alien, she bore herself with kindness to all classes, and is still
remembered there by the roll of butter which calls itself a Klarungswecke
in its imperfect French.
No roll of butter records in faltering accents the name of the brilliant
and disdainful English lady who replaced this poor tragic muse in the
Margrave's heart, though the lady herself lived to be the last Margravine
of Ansbach, where everybody seems to have hated her with a passion which
she doubtless knew how to return. She was the daughter of the Earl of
Berkeley, and the wife of Lord Craven, a sufficiently unfaithful and
unworthy nobleman by her account, from whom she was living apart when the
Margrave asked her to his capital. There she set herself to oust Mlle.
Clairon with sneers and jests for the theatrical style which the actress
could not outlive. Lady Craven said she was sure Clairon's nightcap must
be a crown of gilt paper; and when Clairon threatened to kill herself,
and the Margrave was alarmed, "You forget," said Lady Craven, "that
actresses only stab themselves under their sleeves."
She drove Clairon from Ansbach, and the great tragedienne returned to
Paris, where she remained true to her false friend, and from time to time
wrote him letters full of magnanimous counsel and generous tenderness.
But she could not have been so good company as Lady Craven, who was a
very gifted person, and knew how to compose songs and sing them, and
write comedies and play them, and who could keep the Margrave amused in
many ways. When his loveless and childless wife died he married the
English woman, but he grew more and more weary of his dull little court
and his dull little country, and after a while, considering the uncertain
tenure sovereigns had of their heads since the French King had lost his,
and the fact that he had no heirs to follow him in his principality, he
resolved to cede it for a certain sum to Prussia. To this end his new
wife's urgence was perhaps not wanting. They went to England, where she
outlived him ten years, and wrote her memoirs.
The custodian of the Schloss came at last, and the Marches saw instantly
that he was worth waiting for. He was as vainglorious of the palace as
any grand-monarching margrave of them all. He could not have been more
personally superb in showing their different effigies if they had been
his own family portraits, and he would not spare the strangers a single
splendor of the twenty vast, handsome, tiresome, Versailles-like rooms he
led them through. The rooms were fatiguing physically, but so poignantly
interesting that Mrs. March would not have missed, though she perished of
her pleasure, one of the things she saw. She had for once a surfeit of
highhoting in the pictures, the porcelains, the thrones and canopies, the
tapestries, the historical associations with the margraves and their
marriages, with the Great Frederick and the Great Napoleon. The Great
Napoleon's man Bernadotte made the Schloss his headquarters when he
occupied Ansbach after Austerlitz, and here he completed his arrangements
for taking her bargain from Prussia and handing it over to Bavaria, with
whom it still remains. Twice the Great Frederick had sojourned in the
palace; visiting his sister Louise, the wife of the Wild Margrave, and
more than once it had welcomed her next neighbor and sister Wilhelmina,
the Margravine of Baireuth, whose autobiographic voice, piercingly
plaintive and reproachful, seemed to quiver in the air. Here, oddly
enough, the spell of the Wild Margrave weakened in the presence of his
portrait, which signally failed to justify his fame of furious tyrant.
That seems, indeed, to have been rather the popular and historical
conception of him than the impression he made upon his exalted
contemporaries. The Margravine of Baireuth at any rate could so far
excuse her poor blood-stained brother-in-law as to say: "The Margrave of
Ansbach . . . was a young prince who had been very badly educated.
He continually ill-treated my sister; they led the life of cat and dog.
My sister, it is true, was sometimes in fault . . . . Her education
had been very bad. . . She was married at fourteen."
At parting, the custodian told the Marches that he would easily have
known them for Americans by the handsome fee they gave him; they came
away flown with his praise; and their national vanity was again flattered
when they got out into the principal square of Ansbach. There, in a
bookseller's window, they found among the pamphlets teaching different
languages without a master, one devoted to the Amerikanische Sprache as
distinguished from the Englische Sprache. That there could be no
mistake, the cover was printed with colors in a German ideal of the star-
spangled banner; and March said he always knew that we had a language of
our own, and that now he was going in to buy that pamphlet and find out
what it was like. He asked the young shop-woman how it differed from
English, which she spoke fairly well from having lived eight years in
Chicago. She said that it differed from the English mainly in emphasis
and pronunciation. "For instance, the English say 'HALF past', and the
Americans 'Half PAST'; the English say 'laht' and the Americans say
The weather had now been clear quite long enough, and it was raining
again, a fine, bitter, piercing drizzle. They asked the girl if it
always rained in Ansbach; and she owned that it nearly always did. She
said that sometimes she longed for a little American summer; that it was
never quite warm in Ansbach; and when they had got out into the rain,
March said: "It was very nice to stumble on Chicago in an Ansbach book-
store. You ought to have told her you had a married daughter in Chicago.
Don't miss another such chance."
"We shall need another bag if we keep on buying books at this rate," said
his wife with tranquil irrelevance; and not to give him time for protest;
she pushed him into a shop where the valises in the window perhaps
suggested her thought. March made haste to forestall her there by saying
they were Americans, but the mistress of the shop seemed to have her
misgivings, and "Born Americans, perhaps?" she ventured. She had
probably never met any but the naturalized sort, and supposed these were
the only sort. March re-assured her, and then she said she had a son
living in Jersey City, and she made March take his address that he might
tell him he had seen his mother; she had apparently no conception what a
great way Jersey City is from New York.
Mrs. March would not take his arm when they came out. "Now, that is what
I never can get used to in you, Basil, and I've tried to palliate it for
twenty-seven years. You know you won't look up that poor woman's son!
Why did you let her think you would?"
"How could I tell her I wouldn't? Perhaps I shall."
"No, no! You never will. I know you're good and kind, and that's why I
can't understand your being so cruel. When we get back, how will you
ever find time to go over to Jersey City?"
He could not tell, but at last he said: "I'll tell you what! You must
keep me up to it. You know how much you enjoy making me do my duty, and
this will be such a pleasure!"
She laughed forlornly, but after a moment she took his arm; and he began,
from the example of this good mother, to philosophize the continuous
simplicity and sanity of the people of Ansbach under all their civic
changes. Saints and soldiers, knights and barons, margraves, princes,
kings, emperors, had come and gone, and left their single-hearted,
friendly subjectfolk pretty much what they found them. The people had
suffered and survived through a thousand wars, and apparently prospered
on under all governments and misgovernments. When the court was most
French, most artificial, most vicious, the citizen life must have
remained immutably German, dull, and kind. After all, he said, humanity
seemed everywhere to be pretty safe, and pretty much the same.
"Yes, that is all very well," she returned, "and you can theorize
interestingly enough; but I'm afraid that poor mother, there, had no more
reality for you than those people in the past. You appreciate her as a
type, and you don't care for her as a human being. You're nothing but a
dreamer, after all. I don't blame you," she went on. "It's your
temperament, and you can't change, now."
"I may change for the worse," he threatened. "I think I have, already.
I don't believe I could stand up to Dryfoos, now, as I did for poor old
Lindau, when I risked your bread and butter for his. I look back in
wonder and admiration at myself. I've steadily lost touch with life
since then. I'm a trifler, a dilettante, and an amateur of the right and
the good as I used to be when I was young. Oh, I have the grace to be
troubled at times, now, and once I never was. It never occurred to me
then that the world wasn't made to interest me, or at the best to
instruct me, but it does, now, at times."
She always came to his defence when he accused himself; it was the best
ground he could take with her. "I think you behaved very well with
Burnamy. You did your duty then."
"Did I? I'm not so sure. At any rate, it's the last time I shall do it.
I've served my term. I think I should tell him that he was all right in
that business with Stoller, if I were to meet him, now."
"Isn't it strange," she said, provisionally, "that we don't come upon a
trace of him anywhere in Ansbach?"
"Ah, you've been hoping he would turn up!"
"Yes. I don't deny it. I feel very unhappy about him."
"I don't. He's too much like me. He would have been quite capable of
promising that poor woman to look up her son in Jersey City. When I
think of that, I have no patience with Burnamy."
"I am going to ask the landlord about him, now he's got rid of his
highhotes," said Mrs. March.
They went home to their hotel for their midday dinner, and to the comfort
of having it nearly all to themselves. Prince Leopold had risen early,
like all the hard-working potentates of the continent, and got away to
the manoeuvres somewhere at six o'clock; the decorations had been
removed, and the court-yard where the hired coach and pair of the prince
had rolled in the evening before had only a few majestic ducks waddling
about in it and quacking together, indifferent to the presence of a
yellow mail-wagon, on which the driver had been apparently dozing till
the hour of noon should sound. He sat there immovable, but at the last
stroke of the clock he woke up and drove vigorously away to the station.
The dining-room which they had been kept out of by the prince the night
before was not such as to embitter the sense of their wrong by its
splendor. After all, the tastes of royalty must be simple, if the prince
might have gone to the Schloss and had chosen rather to stay at this
modest hotel; but perhaps the Schloss was reserved for more immediate
royalty than the brothers of prince-regents; and in that case he could
not have done better than dine at the Golden Star. If he paid no more
than two marks, he dined as cheaply as a prince could wish, and as
abundantly. The wine at Ansbach was rather thin and sour, but the bread,
March declared, was the best bread in the whole world, not excepting the
bread of Carlsbad.
After dinner the Marches had some of the local pastry, not so
incomparable as the bread, with their coffee, which they had served them
in a pavilion of the beautiful garden remaining to the hotel from the
time when it was a patrician mansion. The garden had roses in it and
several sorts of late summer flowers, as well as ripe cherries, currants,
grapes, and a Virginia-creeper red with autumn, all harmoniously
contemporaneous, as they might easily be in a climate where no one of the
seasons can very well know itself from the others. It had not been
raining for half an hour, and the sun was scalding hot, so that the
shelter of their roof was very grateful, and the puddles of the paths
were drying up with the haste which puddles have to make in Germany,
between rains, if they are ever going to dry up at all.
The landlord came out to see if they were well served, and he was
sincerely obliging in the English he had learned as a waiter in London.
Mrs. March made haste to ask him if a young American of the name of
Burnamy had been staying with him a few weeks before; and she described
Burnamy's beauty and amiability so vividly that the landlord, if he had
been a woman, could not have failed to remember him. But he failed, with
a real grief, apparently, and certainly a real politeness, to recall
either his name or his person. The landlord was an intelligent, good-
looking young fellow; he told them that he was lately married, and they
liked him so much that they were sorry to see him afterwards privately
boxing the ears of the piccolo, the waiter's little understudy. Perhaps
the piccolo deserved it, but they would rather not have witnessed his
punishment; his being in a dress-coat seemed to make it also an
In the late afternoon they went to the cafe in the old Orangery of the
Schloss for a cup of tea, and found themselves in the company of several
Ansbach ladies who had brought their work, in the evident habit of coming
there every afternoon for their coffee and for a dish of gossip. They
were kind, uncomely, motherly-looking bodies; one of them combed her hair
at the table; and they all sat outside of the cafe with their feet on the
borders of the puddles which had not dried up there in the shade of the
A deep lawn, darkened at its farther edge by the long shadows of trees,
stretched before them with the sunset light on it, and it was all very
quiet and friendly. The tea brought to the Marches was brewed from some
herb apparently of native growth, with bits of what looked like willow
leaves in it, but it was flavored with a clove in each cup, and they sat
contentedly over it and tried to make out what the Ansbach ladies were,
talking about. These had recognized the strangers for Americans, and one
of them explained that Americans spoke the same language as the English
and yet were not quite the same people.
"She differs from the girl in the book-store," said March, translating to
his wife. "Let us get away before she says that we are not so nice as
the English," and they made off toward the avenue of trees beyond the
There were a few people walking up and down in the alley, making the most
of the moment of dry weather. They saluted one another like
acquaintances, and three clean-shaven, walnut-faced old peasants bowed in
response to March's stare, with a self-respectful civility. They were
yeomen of the region of Ansbach, where the country round about is dotted
with their cottages, and not held in vast homeless tracts by the nobles
as in North Germany.
The Bavarian who had imparted this fact to March at breakfast, not
without a certain tacit pride in it to the disadvantage of the Prussians,
was at the supper table, and was disposed to more talk, which he managed
in a stout, slow English of his own. He said he had never really spoken
English with an English-speaking person before, or at all since he
studied it in school at Munich.
"I should be afraid to put my school-boy German against your English,"
March said, and, when he had understood, the other laughed for pleasure,
and reported the compliment to his wife in their own parlance. "You
Germans certainly beat us in languages."
"Oh, well," he retaliated, "the Americans beat us in some other things,"
and Mrs. March felt that this was but just; she would have liked to
mention a few, but not ungraciously; she and the German lady kept smiling
across the table, and trying detached vocables of their respective
tongues upon each other.
The Bavarian said he lived in Munich still, but was in Ansbach on an
affair of business; he asked March if he were not going to see the
manoeuvres somewhere. Till now the manoeuvres had merely been the
interesting background of their travel; but now, hearing that the Emperor
of Germany, the King of Saxony, the Regent of Bavaria, and the King of
Wurtemberg, the Grand-Dukes of Weimar and Baden, with visiting potentates
of all sorts, and innumerable lesser highhotes, foreign and domestic,
were to be present, Mrs. March resolved that they must go to at least one
of the reviews.
"If you go to Frankfort, you can see the King of Italy too," said the
Bavarian, but he owned that they probably could not get into a hotel
there, and he asked why they should not go to Wurzburg, where they could
see all the sovereigns except the King of Italy.
"Wurzburg? Wurzburg?" March queried of his wife. "Where did we hear of
"Isn't it where Burnamy said Mr. Stoller had left his daughters at
"So it is! And is that on the way to the Rhine?" he asked the Bavarian.
"No, no! Wurzburg is on the Main, about five hours from Ansbach. And it
is a very interesting place. It is where the good wine comes from."
"Oh, yes," said March, and in their rooms his wife got out all their
guides and maps and began to inform herself and to inform him about
Wurzburg. But first she said it was very cold and he must order some
fire made in the tall German stove in their parlor. The maid who came
said "Gleich," but she did not come back, and about the time they were
getting furious at her neglect, they began getting warm. He put his hand
on the stove and found it hot; then he looked down for a door in the
stove where he might shut a damper; there was no door.
"Good heavens!" he shouted. "It's like something in a dream," and he ran
to pull the bell for help.
"No, no! Don't ring! It will make us ridiculous. They'll think
Americans don't know anything. There must be some way of dampening the
stove; and if there isn't, I'd rather suffocate than give myself away."
Mrs. March ran and opened the window, while her husband carefully
examined the stove at every point, and explored the pipe for the damper
in vain. "Can't you find it?" The night wind came in raw and damp, and
threatened to blow their lamp out, and she was obliged to shut the
"Not a sign of it. I will go down and ask the landlord in strict
confidence how they dampen their stoves in Ansbach."
"Well, if you must. It's getting hotter every moment." She followed him
timorously into the corridor, lit by a hanging lamp, turned low for the
He looked at his watch; it was eleven o'clock. "I'm afraid they're all
"Yes; you mustn't go! We must try to find out for ourselves. What can
that door be for?"
It was a low iron door, half the height of a man, in the wall near their
room, and it yielded to his pull. "Get a candle," he whispered, and when
she brought it, he stooped to enter the doorway.
"Oh, do you think you'd better?" she hesitated.
"You can come, too, if you're afraid. You've always said you wanted to
die with me."
"Well. But you go first."
He disappeared within, and then came back to the doorway. "Just come in
here, a moment." She found herself in a sort of antechamber, half the
height of her own room, and following his gesture she looked down where
in one corner some crouching monster seemed showing its fiery teeth in a
grin of derision. This grin was the damper of their stove, and this was
where the maid had kindled the fire which had been roasting them alive,
and was still joyously chuckling to itself. "I think that Munich man was
wrong. I don't believe we beat the Germans in anything. There isn't a
hotel in the United States where the stoves have no front doors, and
every one of them has the space of a good-sized flat given up to the
convenience of kindling a fire in it."
After a red sunset of shameless duplicity March was awakened to a rainy
morning by the clinking of cavalry hoofs on the pavement of the long-
irregular square before the hotel, and he hurried out to see the passing
of the soldiers on their way to the manoeuvres. They were troops of all
arms, but mainly infantry, and as they stumped heavily through the groups
of apathetic citizens in their mud-splashed boots, they took the steady
downpour on their dripping helmets. Some of them were smoking, but none
smiling, except one gay fellow who made a joke to a serving-maid on the
sidewalk. An old officer halted his staff to scold a citizen who had
given him a mistaken direction. The shame of the erring man was great,
and the pride of a fellow-citizen who corrected him was not less, though
the arrogant brute before whom they both cringed used them with equal
scorn; the younger officers listened indifferently round on horseback
behind the glitter of their eyeglasses, and one of them amused himself by
turning the silver bangles on his wrist.
Then the files of soldier slaves passed on, and March crossed the bridge
spanning the gardens in what had been the city moat, and found his way to
the market-place, under the walls of the old Gothic church of St.
Gumpertus. The market, which spread pretty well over the square, seemed
to be also a fair, with peasants' clothes and local pottery for sale,
as well as fruits and vegetables, and large baskets of flowers, with old
women squatting before them. It was all as picturesque as the markets
used to be in Montreal and Quebec, and in a cloudy memory of his wedding
journey long before, he bought so lavishly of the flowers to carry back
to his wife that a little girl, who saw his arm-load from her window as
he returned, laughed at him, and then drew shyly back. Her laugh
reminded him how many happy children he had seen in Germany, and how
freely they seemed to play everywhere, with no one to make them afraid.
When they grow up the women laugh as little as the men, whose rude toil
the soldiering leaves them to.
He got home with his flowers, and his wife took them absently, and made
him join her in watching the sight which had fascinated her in the street
under their windows. A slender girl, with a waist as slim as a corseted
officer's, from time to time came out of the house across the way to the
firewood which had been thrown from a wagon upon the sidewalk there.
Each time she embraced several of the heavy four-foot logs and
disappeared with them in-doors. Once she paused from her work to joke
with a well-dressed man who came by; and seemed to find nothing odd in
her work; some gentlemen lounging at the window over head watched her
with no apparent sense of anomaly.
"What do you think of that?" asked Mrs. March. "I think it's good
exercise for the girl, and I should like to recommend it to those fat
fellows at the window. I suppose she'll saw the wood in the cellar, and
then lug it up stairs, and pile it up in the stoves' dressing-rooms."
"Don't laugh! It's too disgraceful."
"Well, I don't know! If you like, I'll offer these gentlemen across the
way your opinion of it in the language of Goethe and Schiller."
"I wish you'd offer my opinion of them. They've been staring in here
with an opera-glass."
"Ah, that's a different affair. There isn't much going on in Ansbach,
and they have to make the most of it."
The lower casements of the houses were furnished with mirrors set at
right angles with them, and nothing which went on in the streets was
lost. Some of the streets were long and straight, and at rare moments
they lay full of sun. At such times the Marches were puzzled by the
sight of citizens carrying open umbrellas, and they wondered if they had
forgotten to put them down, or thought it not worth while in the brief
respites from the rain, or were profiting by such rare occasions to dry
them; and some other sights remained baffling to the last. Once a man
with his hands pinioned before him, and a gendarme marching stolidly
after him with his musket on his shoulder, passed under their windows;
but who he was, or what he, had done, or was to suffer, they never knew.
Another time a pair went by on the way to the railway station: a young
man carrying an umbrella under his arm, and a very decent-looking old
woman lugging a heavy carpet bag, who left them to the lasting question
whether she was the young man's servant in her best clothes, or merely
Women do not do everything in Ansbach, however, the sacristans being men,
as the Marches found when they went to complete their impression of the
courtly past of the city by visiting the funeral chapel of the margraves
in the crypt of St. Johannis Church. In the little ex-margravely capital
there was something of the neighborly interest in the curiosity of
strangers which endears Italian witness. The white-haired street-sweeper
of Ansbach, who willingly left his broom to guide them to the house of
the sacristan, might have been a street-sweeper in Vicenza; and the old
sacristan, when he put his velvet skull-cap out of an upper window and
professed his willingness to show them the chapel, disappointed them by
saying "Gleich!" instead of "Subito!" The architecture of the houses was
a party to the illusion. St. Johannis, like the older church of St.
Gumpertus, is Gothic, with the two unequal towers which seem distinctive
of Ansbach; at the St. Gumpertus end of the place where they both stand
the dwellings are Gothic too, and might be in Hamburg; but at the St.
Johannis end they seem to have felt the exotic spirit of the court, and
are of a sort of Teutonized renaissance.
The rococo margraves and margravines used of course to worship in St.
Johannis Church. Now they all, such as did not marry abroad, lie in the
crypt of the church, in caskets of bronze and copper and marble, with
draperies of black samite, more and more funereally vainglorious to the
last. Their courtly coffins are ranged in a kind of hemicycle, with the
little coffins of the children that died before they came to the
knowledge of their greatness. On one of these a kneeling figurine in
bronze holds up the effigy of the child within; on another the epitaph
plays tenderly with the fate of a little princess, who died in her first
In the Rose-month was this sweet Rose taken.
For the Rose-kind hath she earth forsaken.
The Princess is the Rose, that here no longer blows.
From the stem by death's hand rudely shaken.
Then rest in the Rose-house.
Little Princess-Rosebud dear!
There life's Rose shall bloom again
In Heaven's sunshine clear.
While March struggled to get this into English words, two German ladies,
who had made themselves of his party, passed reverently away and left him
to pay the sacristan alone.
"That is all right," he said, when he came out. "I think we got the most
value; and they didn't look as if they could afford it so well; though
you never can tell, here. These ladies may be the highest kind of
highhotes practising a praiseworthy economy. I hope the lesson won't be
lost on us. They have saved enough by us for their coffee at the
Orangery. Let us go and have a little willow-leaf tea!"
The Orangery perpetually lured them by what it had kept of the days when
an Orangery was essential to the self-respect of every sovereign prince,
and of so many private gentlemen. On their way they always passed the
statue of Count Platen, the dull poet whom Heine's hate would have
delivered so cruelly over to an immortality of contempt, but who stands
there near the Schloss in a grass-plot prettily planted with flowers, and
ignores his brilliant enemy in the comfortable durability of bronze; and
there always awaited them in the old pleasaunce the pathos of Kaspar
Hauser's fate; which his murder affixes to it with a red stain.
After their cups of willow leaves at the cafe they went up into that nook
of the plantation where the simple shaft of church-warden's Gothic
commemorates the assassination on the spot where it befell. Here the
hapless youth, whose mystery will never be fathomed on earth, used to
come for a little respite from his harsh guardian in Ansbach, homesick
for the kindness of his Nuremberg friends; and here his murderer found
him and dealt him the mortal blow.
March lingered upon the last sad circumstance of the tragedy in which the
wounded boy dragged himself home, to suffer the suspicion and neglect of
his guardian till death attested his good faith beyond cavil. He said
this was the hardest thing to bear in all his story, and that he would
like to have a look into the soul of the dull, unkind wretch who had so
misread his charge. He was going on with an inquiry that pleased him
much, when his wife pulled him abruptly away.
"Now, I see, you are yielding to the fascination of it, and you are
wanting to take the material from Burnamy!"
"Oh, well, let him have the material; he will spoil it. And I can always
reject it, if he offers it to 'Every Other Week'."
"I could believe, after your behavior to that poor woman about her son in
Jersey City, you're really capable of it."
"What comprehensive inculpation! I had forgotten about that poor woman."
The letters which March had asked his Nuremberg banker to send them came
just as they were leaving Ansbach. The landlord sent them down to the
station, and Mrs. March opened them in the train, and read them first so
that she could prepare him if there were anything annoying in them, as
well as indulge her livelier curiosity.
"They're from both the children," she said, without waiting for him to
ask. "You can look at them later. There's a very nice letter from Mrs.
Adding to me, and one from dear little Rose for you." Then she
hesitated, with her hand on a letter faced down in her lap. "And there's
one from Agatha Triscoe, which I wonder what you'll think of." She
delayed again, and then flashed it open before him, and waited with a
sort of impassioned patience while he read it.
He read it, and gave it back to her. "There doesn't seem to be very much
"That's it! Don't you think I had a right to there being something in
it, after all I did for her?"
"I always hoped you hadn't done anything for her, but if you have, why
should she give herself away on paper? It's a very proper letter."
"It's a little too proper, and it's the last I shall have to do with her.
She knew that I should be on pins and needles till I heard how her father
had taken Burnamy's being there, that night, and she doesn't say a word
"The general may have had a tantrum that she couldn't describe. Perhaps
she hasn't told him, yet."
"She would tell him instantly!" cried Mrs. March who began to find
reason in the supposition, as well as comfort for the hurt which the
girl's reticence had given her. "Or if she wouldn't, it would be because
she was waiting for the best chance."
"That would be like the wise daughter of a difficult father. She may be
waiting for the best chance to say how he took it. No, I'm all for Miss
Triscoe, and I hope that now, if she's taken herself off our hands,
she'll keep off."
"It's altogether likely that he's made her promise not to tell me
anything about it," Mrs. March mused aloud.
"That would be unjust to a person who had behaved so discreetly as you
have," said her husband.
They were on their way to Wurzburg, and at the first station, which was a
junction, a lady mounted to their compartment just before the train began
to move. She was stout and middle-aged, and had never been pretty, but
she bore herself with a kind of authority in spite of her thread gloves,
her dowdy gray travelling-dress, and a hat of lower middle-class English
tastelessness. She took the only seat vacant, a backward-riding place
beside a sleeping passenger who looked like a commercial traveller, but
she seemed ill at ease in it, and March offered her his seat. She
accepted it very promptly, and thanked him for it in the English of a
German, and Mrs. March now classed her as a governess who had been
teaching in England and had acquired the national feeling for dress.
But in this character she found her interesting, and even a little
pathetic, and she made her some overtures of talk which the other met
eagerly enough. They were now running among low hills, not so
picturesque as those between Eger and Nuremberg, but of much the same
toylike quaintness in the villages dropped here and there in their
valleys. One small town, completely walled, with its gray houses and red
roofs, showed through the green of its trees and gardens so like a
colored print in a child's story-book that Mrs. March cried out for joy
in it, and then accounted for her rapture by explaining to the stranger
that they were Americans and had never been in Germany before. The lady
was not visibly affected by the fact, she said casually that she had
often been in that little town, which she named; her uncle had a castle
in the country back of it, and she came with her husband for the shooting
in the autumn. By a natural transition she spoke of her children, for
whom she had an English governess; she said she had never been in
England, but had learnt the language from a governess in her own
childhood; and through it all Mrs. March perceived that she was trying to
impress them with her consequence. To humor her pose, she said they had
been looking up the scene of Kaspar Hauser's death at Ansbach; and at
this the stranger launched into such intimate particulars concerning him,
and was so familiar at first hands with the facts of his life, that Mrs.
March let her run on, too much amused with her pretensions to betray any
doubt of her. She wondered if March were enjoying it all as much, and
from time to time she tried to catch his eye, while the lady talked
constantly and rather loudly, helping herself out with words from them
both when her English failed her. In the safety of her perfect
understanding of the case, Mrs. March now submitted farther, and even
suffered some patronage from her, which in another mood she would have
met with a decided snub.
As they drew in among the broad vine-webbed slopes of the Wurzburg,
hills, the stranger said she was going to change there, and take a train
on to Berlin. Mrs. March wondered whether she would be able to keep up
the comedy to the last; and she had to own that she carried it off very
easily when the friends whom she was expecting did not meet her on the
arrival of their train. She refused March's offers of help, and remained
quietly seated while he got out their wraps and bags. She returned with
a hardy smile the cold leave Mrs. March took of her; and when a porter
came to the door, and forced his way by the Marches, to ask with anxious
servility if she, were the Baroness von-----, she bade the man get them.
a 'traeger', and then come back for her. She waved them a complacent
adieu before they mixed with the crowd and lost sight of her.
"Well, my dear," said March, addressing the snobbishness in his wife
which he knew to be so wholly impersonal, "you've mingled with one
highhote, anyway. I must say she didn't look it, any more than the Duke
and Duchess of Orleans, and yet she's only a baroness. Think of our
being three hours in the same compartment, and she doing all she could to
impress us and our getting no good of it! I hoped you were feeling her
quality, so that we should have it in the family, anyway, and always know
what it was like. But so far, the highhotes have all been terribly
He teased on as they followed the traeger with their baggage out of the
station; and in the omnibus on the way to their hotel, he recurred to the
loss they had suffered in the baroness's failure to dramatize her
nobility effectually. "After all, perhaps she was as much disappointed
in us. I don't suppose we looked any more like democrats than she looked
like an aristocrat."
"But there's a great difference," Mrs. March returned at last. "It isn't
at all a parallel case. We were not real democrats, and she was a real
"To be sure. There is that way of looking at it. That's rather novel; I
wish I had thought of that myself. She was certainly more to blame than
The square in front of the station was planted with flag-poles wreathed
in evergreens; a triumphal arch was nearly finished, and a colossal
allegory in imitation bronze was well on the way to completion, in honor
of the majesties who were coming for the manoeuvres. The streets which
the omnibus passed through to the Swan Inn were draped with the imperial
German and the royal Bavarian colors; and the standards of the visiting
nationalities decked the fronts of the houses where their military
attaches were lodged; but the Marches failed to see our own banner, and
were spared for the moment the ignominy of finding it over an apothecary
shop in a retired avenue. The sun had come out, the sky overhead was of
a smiling blue; and they felt the gala-day glow and thrill in the depths
of their inextinguishable youth.
The Swan Inn sits on one of the long quays bordering the Main, and its
windows look down upon the bridges and shipping of the river; but the
traveller reaches it by a door in the rear, through an archway into a
back street, where an odor dating back to the foundation of the city is
waiting to welcome him.
The landlord was there, too, and he greeted the Marches so cordially that
they fully partook his grief in being able to offer them rooms on the
front of the house for two nights only. They reconciled themselves to
the necessity of then turning out for the staff of the King of Saxony,
the more readily because they knew that there was no hope of better
things at any other hotel.
The rooms which they could have for the time were charming, and they came
down to supper in a glazed gallery looking out on the river picturesque
with craft of all fashions: with row-boats, sail-boats, and little
steamers, but mainly with long black barges built up into houses in the
middle, and defended each by a little nervous German dog. Long rafts of
logs weltered in the sunset red which painted the swift current, and
mantled the immeasurable vineyards of the hills around like the color of
their ripening grapes. Directly in face rose a castled steep, which kept
the ranging walls and the bastions and battlements of the time when such
a stronghold could have defended the city from foes without or from
tumult within. The arches of a stately bridge spanned the river
sunsetward, and lifted a succession of colossal figures against the
"I guess we have been wasting our time, my dear," said March, as they,
turned from this beauty to the question of supper. "I wish we had always
Their waiter had put them at a table in a division of the gallery beyond
that which they entered, where some groups of officers were noisily
supping. There was no one in their room but a man whose face was
indistinguishable against the light, and two young girls who glanced at
them with looks at once quelled and defiant, and then after a stare at
the officers in the gallery beyond, whispered together with suppressed
giggling. The man fed on without noticing them, except now and then to
utter a growl that silenced the whispering and giggling for a moment.
The Marches, from no positive evidence of any sense, decided that they
"I don't know that I feel responsible for them as their fellow-
countryman; I should, once," he said.
"It isn't that. It's the worry of trying to make out why they are just
what they are," his wife returned.
The girls drew the man's attention to them and he looked at them for the
first time; then after a sort of hesitation he went on with his supper.
They had only begun theirs when he rose with the two girls, whom Mrs.
March now saw to be of the same size and dressed alike, and came heavily
"I thought you was in Carlsbad," he said bluntly to March, with a nod at
Mrs. March. He added, with a twist of his head toward the two girls,
"My daughters," and then left them to her, while he talked on with her
husband. "Come to see this foolery, I suppose. I'm on my way to the
woods for my after-cure; but I thought I might as well stop and give the
girls a chance; they got a week's vacation, anyway." Stoller glanced at
them with a sort of troubled tenderness in his strong dull face.
"Oh, yes. I understood they were at school here," said March, and he
heard one of them saying, in a sweet, high pipe to his wife:
"Ain't it just splendid? I ha'n't seen anything equal to it since the
Worrld's Fairr." She spoke with a strong contortion of the Western r,
and her sister hastened to put in:
"I don't think it's to be compared with the Worrld's Fairr. But these
German girls, here, just think it's great. It just does me good to laff
at 'em, about it. I like to tell 'em about the electric fountain and the
Courrt of Iionorr when they get to talkin' about the illuminations
they're goun' to have. You goun' out to the parade? You better engage
your carriage right away if you arre. The carrs'll be a perfect jam.
Father's engaged ourrs; he had to pay sixty marrks forr it."
They chattered on without shyness and on as easy terms with a woman of
three times their years as if she had been a girl of their own age; they
willingly took the whole talk to themselves, and had left her quite
outside of it before Stoller turned to her.
"I been telling Mr. March here that you better both come to the parade
with us. I guess my twospanner will hold five; or if it won't, we'll
make it. I don't believe there's a carriage left in Wurzburg; and if you
go in the cars, you'll have to walk three or four miles before you get to
the parade-ground. You think it over," he said to March. "Nobody else
is going to have the places, anyway, and you can say yes at the last
minute just as well as now."
He moved off with his girls, who looked over their shoulders at the
officers as they passed on through the adjoining room.
"My dear!" cried Mrs. March. "Didn't you suppose he classed us with
Burnamy in that business? Why should he be polite to us?"
"Perhaps he wants you to chaperon his daughters. He's probably heard of
your performance at the Kurhaus ball. But he knows that I thought
Burnamy in the wrong. This may be Stoller's way of wiping out an
obligation. Wouldn't you like to go with him?"
"The mere thought of his being in the same town is prostrating. I'd far
rather he hated us; then he would avoid us."
"Well, he doesn't own the town, and if it comes to the worst, perhaps we
can avoid him. Let us go out, anyway, and see if we can't."
"No, no; I'm too tired; but you go. And get all the maps and guides you
can; there's so very little in Baedeker, and almost nothing in that great
hulking Bradshaw of yours; and I'm sure there must be the most
interesting history of Wurzburg. Isn't it strange that we haven't the
slightest association with the name?"
"I've been rummaging in my mind, and I've got hold of an association at
last," said March. "It's beer; a sign in a Sixth Avenue saloon window
"No matter if it is beer. Find some sketch of the history, and we'll try
to get away from the Stollers in it. I pitied those wild girls, too.
What crazy images of the world must fill their empty minds! How their
ignorant thoughts must go whirling out into the unknown! I don't envy
their father. Do hurry back! I shall be thinking about them every
instant till you come."
She said this, but in their own rooms it was so soothing to sit looking
through the long twilight at the lovely landscape that the sort of bruise
given by their encounter with the Stollers had left her consciousness
before March returned. She made him admire first the convent church on a
hill further up the river which exactly balanced the fortress in front of
them, and then she seized upon the little books he had brought, and set
him to exploring the labyrinths of their German, with a mounting
exultation in his discoveries. There was a general guide to the city,
and a special guide, with plans and personal details of the approaching
manoeuvres and the princes who were to figure in them; and there was a
sketch of the local history: a kind of thing that the Germans know how to
write particularly, well, with little gleams of pleasant humor blinking
through it. For the study of this, Mrs. March realized, more and more
passionately, that they were in the very most central and convenient
point, for the history of Wurzburg might be said to have begun with her
prince-bishops, whose rule had begun in the twelfth century, and who had
built, on a forgotten Roman work, the fortress of the Marienburg on that
vineyarded hill over against the Swan Inn. There had of course been
history before that, but 'nothing so clear, nothing so peculiarly swell,
nothing that so united the glory of this world and the next as that of
the prince-bishops. They had made the Marienburg their home, and kept it
against foreign and domestic foes for five hundred years. Shut within
its well-armed walls they had awed the often-turbulent city across the
Main; they had held it against the embattled farmers in the Peasants'
War, and had splendidly lost it to Gustavus Adolphus, and then got it
back again and held it till Napoleon took it from them. He gave it with
their flock to the Bavarians, who in turn briefly yielded it to the
Prussians in 1866, and were now in apparently final possession of it.
Before the prince-bishops, Charlemagne and Barbarossa had come and gone,
and since the prince-bishops there had been visiting thrones and kingdoms
enough in the ancient city, which was soon to be illustrated by the
presence of imperial Germany, royal, Wirtemberg and Saxony, grand-ducal
Baden and Weimar, and a surfeit of all the minor potentates among those
who speak the beautiful language of the Ja.
But none of these could dislodge the prince-bishops from that supreme
place which they had at once taken in Mrs. March's fancy. The potentates
were all going to be housed in the vast palace which the prince-bishops
had built themselves in Wurzburg as soon as they found it safe to come
down from their stronghold of Marienburg, and begin to adorn their city,
and to confirm it in its intense fidelity to the Church. Tiepolo had
come up out of Italy to fresco their palace, where he wrought year after
year, in that worldly taste which has somehow come to express the most
sovereign moment of ecclesiasticism. It prevailed so universally in
Wurzburg that it left her with the name of the Rococo City, intrenched in
a period of time equally remote from early Christianity and modern
Protestantism. Out of her sixty thousand souls, only ten thousand are
now of the reformed religion, and these bear about the same relation to
the Catholic spirit of the place that the Gothic architecture bears to
As long as the prince-bishops lasted the Wurzburgers got on very well
with but one newspaper, and perhaps the smallest amount of merrymaking
known outside of the colony of Massachusetts Bay at the same epoch. The
prince-bishops had their finger in everybody's pie, and they portioned
out the cakes and ale, which were made according to formulas of their
own. The distractions were all of a religious character; churches,
convents, monasteries, abounded; ecclesiastical processions and
solemnities were the spectacles that edified if they did not amuse the
It seemed to March an ironical outcome of all this spiritual severity
that one of the greatest modern scientific discoveries should have been
made in Wurzburg, and that the Roentgen rays should now be giving her
name a splendor destined to eclipse the glories of her past.
Mrs. March could not allow that they would do so; or at least that the
name of Roentgen would ever lend more lustre to his city than that of
Longfellow's Walther von der Vogelweide. She was no less surprised than
pleased to realize that this friend of the birds was a Wurzburger, and
she said that their first pilgrimage in the morning should be to the
church where he lies buried.
March went down to breakfast not quite so early as his wife had planned,
and left her to have her coffee in her room. He got a pleasant table in
the gallery overlooking the river, and he decided that the landscape,
though it now seemed to be rather too much studied from a drop-certain,
had certainly lost nothing of its charm in the clear morning light. The
waiter brought his breakfast, and after a little delay came back with a
card which he insisted was for March. It was not till he put on his
glasses and read the name of Mr. R. M. Kenby that he was able at all to
agree with the waiter, who stood passive at his elbow.
"Well," he said, "why wasn't this card sent up last night?"
The waiter explained that the gentleman had just, given him his card,
after asking March's nationality, and was then breakfasting in the next
room. March caught up his napkin and ran round the partition wall, and
Kenby rose with his napkin and hurried to meet him.
"I thought it must be you," he called out, joyfully, as they struck their
extended hands together, "but so many people look alike, nowadays, that I
don't trust my eyes any more."
Kenby said he had spent the time since they last met partly in Leipsic
and partly in Gotha, where he had amused himself in rubbing up his rusty
German. As soon as he realized that Wurzburg was so near he had slipped
down from Gotha for a glimpse of the manoeuvres. He added that he
supposed March was there to see them, and he asked with a quite
unembarrassed smile if they had met Mr. Adding in Carlsbad, and without
heeding March's answer, he laughed and added: "Of course, I know she must
have told Mrs. March all about it."
March could not deny this; he laughed, too; though in his wife's absence
he felt bound to forbid himself anything more explicit.
"I don't give it up, you know," Kenby went on, with perfect ease. "I'm
not a young fellow, if you call thirty-nine old."
"At my age I don't," March put in, and they roared together, in men's
security from the encroachments of time.
"But she happens to be the only woman I've ever really wanted to marry,
for more than a few days at a stretch. You know how it is with us."
"Oh, yes, I know," said March, and they shouted again.
"We're in love, and we're out of love, twenty times. But this isn't a
mere fancy; it's a conviction. And there's no reason why she shouldn't
March smiled gravely, and his smile was not lost upon Kenby. "You mean
the boy," he said. "Well, I like Rose," and now March really felt swept
from his feet. "She doesn't deny that she likes me, but she seems to
think that her marrying again will take her from him; the fact is, it
will only give me to him. As for devoting her whole life to him, she
couldn't do a worse thing for him. What the boy needs is a man's care,
and a man's will--Good heavens! You don't think I could ever be unkind
to the little soul?" Kenby threw himself forward over the table.
"My dear fellow!" March protested.
"I'd rather cut off my right hand! "Kenby pursued, excitedly, and then
he said, with a humorous drop: "The fact is, I don't believe I should
want her so much if I couldn't have Rose too. I want to have them both.
So far, I've only got no for an answer; but I'm not going to keep it.
I had a letter from Rose at Carlsbad, the other day; and--"
The waiter came forward with a folded scrap of paper on his salver, which
March knew must be from his wife. "What is keeping you so?" she wrote.
"I am all ready." "It's from Mrs. March," he explained to Kenby. "I am
going out with her on some errands. I'm awfully glad to see you again.
We must talk it all over, and you must--you mustn't--Mrs. March will want
to see you later--I--Are you in the hotel?"
"Oh yes. I'll see you at the one-o'clock table d'hote, I suppose."
March went away with his head whirling in the question whether he should
tell his wife at once of Kenby's presence, or leave her free for the
pleasures of Wurzburg, till he could shape the fact into some safe and
acceptable form. She met him at the door with her guide-books, wraps and
umbrellas, and would hardly give him time to get on his hat and coat.
"Now, I want you to avoid the Stollers as far as you can see them. This
is to be a real wedding-journey day, with no extraneous acquaintance to
bother; the more strangers the better. Wurzburg is richer than anything
I imagined. I've looked it all up; I've got the plan of the city, so
that we can easily find the way. We'll walk first, and take carriages
whenever we get tired. We'll go to the cathedral at once; I want a good
gulp of rococo to begin with; there wasn't half enough of it at Ansbach.
Isn't it strange how we've come round to it?"
She referred to that passion for the Gothic which they had obediently
imbibed from Ruskin in the days of their early Italian travel and
courtship, when all the English-speaking world bowed down to him in
devout aversion from the renaissance, and pious abhorrence of the rococo.
"What biddable little things we were!" she went on, while March was
struggling to keep Kenby in the background of his consciousness.
"The rococo must have always had a sneaking charm for us, when we were
pinning our faith to pointed arches; and yet I suppose we were perfectly
sincere. Oh, look at that divinely ridiculous Madonna!" They were now
making their way out of the crooked footway behind their hotel toward the
street leading to the cathedral, and she pointed to the Blessed Virgin
over the door of some religious house, her drapery billowing about her
feet; her body twisting to show the sculptor's mastery of anatomy, and
the halo held on her tossing head with the help of stout gilt rays. In
fact, the Virgin's whole figure was gilded, and so was that of the child
in her arms. "Isn't she delightful?"
"I see what you mean," said March, with a dubious glance at the statue,
"but I'm not sure, now, that I wouldn't like something quieter in my
The thoroughfare which they emerged upon, with the cathedral ending the
prospective, was full of the holiday so near at hand. The narrow
sidewalks were thronged with people, both soldiers and civilians, and up
the middle of the street detachments of military came and went, halting
the little horse-cars and the huge beer-wagons which otherwise seemed to
have the sole right to the streets of Wurzburg; they came jingling or
thundering out of the aide streets and hurled themselves round the
corners reckless of the passers, who escaped alive by flattening
themselves like posters against the house walls. There were peasants,
men and women, in the costume which the unbroken course of their country
life had kept as quaint as it was a hundred years before; there were
citizens in the misfits of the latest German fashions; there were
soldiers of all arms in their vivid uniforms, and from time to time there
were pretty young girls in white dresses with low necks, and bare arms
gloved to the elbows, who were following a holiday custom of the place in
going about the streets in ball costume. The shop windows were filled
with portraits of the Emperor and the Empress, and the Prince-Regent and
the ladies of his family; the German and Bavarian colors draped the
facades of the houses and festooned the fantastic Madonnas posing above
so many portals. The modern patriotism included the ancient piety
without disturbing it; the rococo city remained ecclesiastical through
its new imperialism, and kept the stamp given it by the long rule of the
prince-bishops under the sovereignty of its King and the suzerainty of
The Marches escaped from the present, when they entered the cathedral, as
wholly as if they had taken hold of the horns of the altar, though they
were far from literally doing this in an interior so grandiose. There
area few rococo churches in Italy, and perhaps more in Spain, which
approach the perfection achieved by the Wurzburg cathedral in the baroque
style. For once one sees what that style can do in architecture and
sculpture, and whatever one may say of the details, one cannot deny that
there is a prodigiously effective keeping in it all. This interior came
together, as the decorators say, with a harmony that the travellers had
felt nowhere in their earlier experience of the rococo. It was,
unimpeachably perfect in its way, "Just," March murmured to his wife,
"as the social and political and scientific scheme of the eighteenth
century was perfected in certain times and places. But the odd thing is
to find the apotheosis of the rococo away up here in Germany. I wonder
how much the prince-bishops really liked it. But they had become rococo,
too! Look at that row of their statues on both sides of the nave! What
magnificent swell! How they abash this poor plain Christ, here; he would
like to get behind the pillar; he knows that he could never lend himself
to the baroque style. It expresses the eighteenth century, though. But
how you long for some little hint of the thirteenth, or even the
"I don't," she whispered back. "I'm perfectly wild with Wurzburg.
I like to have a thing go as far as it can. At Nuremberg I wanted all
the Gothic I could get, and in Wurzburg I want all the baroque I can get.
I am consistent."
She kept on praising herself to his disadvantage, as women do, all the
way to the Neumunster Church, where they were going to revere the tomb of
Walther yon der Vogelweide, not so much for his own sake as for
Longfellow's. The older poet lies buried within, but his monument is
outside the church, perhaps for the greater convenience of the sparrows,
which now represent the birds he loved. The cenotaph is surmounted by a
broad vase, and around this are thickly perched the effigies of the
Meistersinger's feathered friends, from whom the canons of the church, as
Mrs. March read aloud from her Baedeker, long ago directed his bequest to
themselves. In revenge for their lawless greed the defrauded
beneficiaries choose to burlesque the affair by looking like the four-
and-twenty blackbirds when the pie was opened.
She consented to go for a moment to the Gothic Marienkapelle with her
husband in the revival of his mediaeval taste, and she was rewarded
amidst its thirteenth-century sincerity by his recantation. "You are
right! Baroque is the thing for Wurzburg; one can't enjoy Gothic here
any more than one could enjoy baroque in Nuremberg."
Reconciled in the rococo, they now called a carriage, and went to visit
the palace of the prince-bishops who had so well known how to make the
heavenly take the image and superscription of the worldly; and they were
jointly indignant to find it shut against the public in preparation for
the imperialities and royalties coining to occupy it. They were in time
for the noon guard-mounting, however, and Mrs. March said that the way
the retiring squad kicked their legs out in the high martial step of the
German soldiers was a perfect expression of the insolent militarism of
their empire, and was of itself enough to make one thank Heaven that one
was an American and a republican. She softened a little toward their
system when it proved that the garden of the palace was still open, and
yet more when she sank down upon a bench between two marble groups
representing the Rape of Proserpine and the Rape of Europa. They stood
each in a gravelled plot, thickly overrun by a growth of ivy, and the
vine climbed the white naked limbs of the nymphs, who were present on a
pretence of gathering flowers, but really to pose at the spectators, and
clad them to the waist and shoulders with an effect of modesty never
meant by the sculptor, but not displeasing. There was an old fountain
near, its stone rim and centre of rock-work green with immemorial mould,
and its basin quivering between its water-plants under the soft fall of
spray. At a waft of fitful breeze some leaves of early autumn fell from
the trees overhead upon the elderly pair where they sat, and a little
company of sparrows came and hopped about their feet. Though the square
without was so all astir with festive expectation, there were few people
in the garden; three or four peasant women in densely fluted white skirts
and red aprons and shawls wandered by and stared at the Europa and at the
It was a precious moment in which the charm of the city's past seemed to
culminate, and they were loath to break it by speech.
"Why didn't we have something like all this on our first wedding
journey?" she sighed at last. "To think of our battening from Boston to
Niagara and back! And how hard we tried to make something of Rochester
and Buffalo, of Montreal and Quebec!"
"Niagara wasn't so bad," he said, "and I will never go back on Quebec."
"Ah, but if we could have had Hamburg and Leipsic, and Carlsbad and
Nuremberg, and Ansbach and Wurzburg! Perhaps this is meant as a
compensation for our lost youth. But I can't enjoy it as I could when I
was young. It's wasted on my sere and yellow leaf. I wish Burnamy and
Miss Triscoe were here; I should like to try this garden on them."
"They wouldn't care for it," he replied, and upon a daring impulse he
added, "Kenby and Mrs. Adding might." If she took this suggestion in
good part, he could tell her that Kenby was in Wurzburg.
"Don't speak of them! They're in just that besotted early middle-age
when life has settled into a self-satisfied present, with no past and no
future; the most philistine, the most bourgeois, moment of existence.
Better be elderly at once, as far as appreciation of all this goes."
She rose and put her hand on his arm, and pushed him away in the
impulsive fashion of her youth, across alleys of old trees toward a
balustraded terrace in the background which had tempted her.
"It isn't so bad, being elderly," he said. "By that time we have
accumulated enough past to sit down and really enjoy its associations.
We have got all sorts of perspectives and points of view. We know
where we are at."
"I don't mind being elderly. The world's just as amusing as ever, and
lots of disagreeable things have dropped out. It's the getting more than
elderly; it's the getting old; and then--"
They shrank a little closer together, and walked on in silence till he
said, "Perhaps there's something else, something better--somewhere."
They had reached the balustraded terrace, and were pausing for pleasure
in the garden tops below, with the flowery spaces, and the statued
fountains all coming together. She put her hand on one of the fat little
urchin-groups on the stone coping. "I don't want cherubs, when I can
have these putti. And those old prince-bishops didn't, either!"
"I don't suppose they kept a New England conscience," he said, with a
vague smile. "It would be difficult in the presence of the rococo."
They left the garden through the beautiful gate which the old court
ironsmith Oegg hammered out in lovely forms of leaves and flowers, and
shaped laterally upward, as lightly as if with a waft of his hand, in
gracious Louis Quinze curves; and they looked back at it in the kind of
despair which any perfection inspires. They said how feminine it was,
how exotic, how expressive of a luxurious ideal of life which art had
purified and left eternally charming. They remembered their Ruskinian
youth, and the confidence with which they would once have condemned it;
and they had a sense of recreance in now admiring it; but they certainly
admired it, and it remained for them the supreme expression of that time-
soul, mundane, courtly, aristocratic, flattering, which once influenced
the art of the whole world, and which had here so curiously found its
apotheosis in a city remote from its native place and under a rule
sacerdotally vowed to austerity. The vast superb palace of the prince
bishops, which was now to house a whole troop of sovereigns, imperial,
royal, grand ducal and ducal, swelled aloft in superb amplitude; but it
did not realize their historic pride so effectively as this exquisite
work of the court ironsmith. It related itself in its aerial beauty to
that of the Tiepolo frescoes which the travellers knew were swimming and
soaring on the ceilings within, and from which it seemed to accent their
exclusion with a delicate irony, March said. "Or iron-mongery," he
corrected himself upon reflection.
He had forgotten Kenby in these aesthetic interests, but he remembered
him again when he called a carriage, and ordered it driven to their
hotel. It was the hour of the German mid-day table d'hote, and they
would be sure to meet him there. The question now was how March should
own his presence in time to prevent his wife from showing her ignorance
of it to Kenby himself, and he was still turning the question hopelessly
over in his mind when the sight of the hotel seemed to remind her of a
fact which she announced.
"Now, my dear, I am tired to death, and I am not going to sit through a
long table d'hote. I want you to send me up a simple beefsteak and a cup
of tea to our rooms; and I don't want you to come near for hours; because
I intend to take a whole afternoon nap. You can keep all the maps and
plans, and guides, and you had better go and see what the Volksfest is
like; it will give you some notion of the part the people are really
taking in all this official celebration, and you know I don't care.
Don't come up after dinner to see how I am getting along; I shall get
along; and if you should happen to wake me after I had dropped off--"
Kenby had seen them arrive from where he sat at the reading-room window,
waiting for the dinner hour, and had meant to rush out and greet Mrs.
March as they passed up the corridor. But she looked so tired that he
had decided to spare her till she came down to dinner; and as he sat with
March at their soup, he asked if she were not well.
March explained, and he provisionally invented some regrets from her that
she should not see Kenby till supper.
Kenby ordered a bottle of one of the famous Wurzburg wines for their
mutual consolation in her absence, and in the friendliness which its
promoted they agreed to spend the afternoon together. No man is so
inveterate a husband as not to take kindly an occasional release to
bachelor companionship, and before the dinner was over they agreed that
they would go to the Volksfest, and get some notion of the popular life
and amusements of Wurzburg, which was one of the few places where Kenby
had never been before; and they agreed that they would walk.
Their way was partly up the quay of the Main, past a barrack full of
soldiers. They met detachments of soldiers everywhere, infantry,
"This is going to be a great show," Kenby said, meaning the manoeuvres,
and he added, as if now he had kept away from the subject long enough and
had a right to recur to it, at least indirectly, "I should like to have
Rose see it, and get his impressions."
"I've an idea he wouldn't approve of it. His mother says his mind is
turning more and more to philanthropy."
Kenby could not forego such a chance to speak of Mrs. Adding. "It's one
of the prettiest things to see how she understands Rose. It's charming
to see them together. She wouldn't have half the attraction without
"Oh, yes," March assented. He had often wondered how a man wishing to
marry a widow managed with the idea of her children by another marriage;
but if Kenby was honest; it was much simpler than he had supposed. He
could not say this to him, however, and in a certain embarrassment he had
with the conjecture in his presence he attempted a diversion. "We're
promised something at the Volksfest which will be a great novelty to us
as Americans. Our driver told us this morning that one of the houses
there was built entirely of wood."
When they reached the grounds of the Volksfest, this civil feature of the
great military event at hand, which the Marches had found largely set
forth in the programme of the parade, did not fully keep the glowing
promises made for it; in fact it could not easily have done so. It was
in a pleasant neighborhood of new villas such as form the modern quarter
of every German city, and the Volksfest was even more unfinished than its
environment. It was not yet enclosed by the fence which was to hide its
wonders from the non-paying public, but March and Kenby went in through
an archway where the gate-money was as effectually collected from them as
if they were barred every other entrance.
The wooden building was easily distinguishable from the other edifices
because these were tents and booths still less substantial. They did not
make out its function, but of the others four sheltered merry-go-rounds,
four were beer-gardens, four were restaurants, and the rest were devoted
to amusements of the usual country-fair type. Apparently they had little
attraction for country people. The Americans met few peasants in the
grounds, and neither at the Edison kinematograph, where they refreshed
their patriotism with some scenes of their native life, nor at the little
theatre where they saw the sports of the arena revived, in the wrestle of
a woman with a bear, did any of the people except tradesmen and artisans
seem to be taking part in the festival expression of the popular
The woman, who finally threw the bear, whether by slight, or by main
strength, or by a previous understanding with him, was a slender
creature, pathetically small and not altogether plain; and March as they
walked away lapsed into a pensive muse upon her strange employ. He
wondered how she came to take it up, and whether she began with the bear
when they were both very young, and she could easily throw him.
"Well, women have a great deal more strength than we suppose," Kenby
began with a philosophical air that gave March the hope of some rational
conversation. Then his eye glazed with a far-off look, and a doting
smile came into his face. "When we went through the Dresden gallery
together, Rose and I were perfectly used up at the end of an hour, but
his mother kept on as long as there was anything to see, and came away as
fresh as a peach."
Then March saw that it was useless to expect anything different from him,
and he let him talk on about Mrs. Adding all the rest of the way back to
the hotel. Kenby seemed only to have begun when they reached the door,
and wanted to continue the subject in the reading-room.
March pleaded his wish to find how his wife had got through the
afternoon, and he escaped to her. He would have told her now that Kenby
was in the house, but he was really so sick of the fact himself that he
could not speak of it at once, and he let her go on celebrating all she
had seen from the window since she had waked from her long nap. She said
she could never be glad enough that they had come just at that time.
Soldiers had been going by the whole afternoon, and that made it so
Yes," he assented. "But aren't you coming up to the station with me to
see the Prince-Regent arrive? He's due at seven, you know."
"I declare I had forgotten all about it. No, I'm not equal to it. You
must go; you can tell me everything; be sure to notice how the Princess
Maria looks; the last of the Stuarts, you know; and some people consider
her the rightful Queen of England; and I'll have the supper ordered, and
we can go down as soon as you've got back."
March felt rather shabby stealing away without Kenby; but he had really
had as much of Mrs. Adding as he could stand, for one day, and he was
even beginning to get sick of Rose. Besides, he had not sent back a line
for 'Every Other Week' yet, and he had made up his mind to write a sketch
of the manoeuvres. To this end he wished to receive an impression of the
Prince-Regent's arrival which should not be blurred or clouded by other
interests. His wife knew the kind of thing he liked to see, and would
have helped him out with his observations, but Kenby would have got in
the way, and would have clogged the movement of his fancy in assigning
the facts to the parts he would like them to play in the sketch.
At least he made some such excuses to himself as he hurried along toward
the Kaiserstrasse. The draught of universal interest in that direction
had left the other streets almost deserted, but as he approached the
thoroughfare he found all the ways blocked, and the horse-cars,
ordinarily so furiously headlong, arrested by the multiple ranks of
spectators on the sidewalks. The avenue leading from the railway station
to the palace was decorated with flags and garlands, and planted with the
stems of young firs and birches. The doorways were crowded, and the
windows dense with eager faces peering out of the draped bunting. The
carriageway was kept clear by mild policemen who now and then allowed one
of the crowd to cross it.
The crowd was made up mostly of women and boys, and when March joined
them, they had already been waiting an hour for the sight of the princes
who were to bless them with a vision of the faery race which kings always
are to common men. He thought the people looked dull, and therefore able
to bear the strain of expectation with patience better than a livelier
race. They relieved it by no attempt at joking; here and there a dim
smile dawned on a weary face, but it seemed an effect of amiability
rather than humor. There was so little of this, or else it was so well
bridled by the solemnity of the occasion, that not a man, woman, or child
laughed when a bareheaded maid-servant broke through the lines and ran
down between them with a life-size plaster bust of the Emperor William in
her arms: she carried it like an overgrown infant, and in alarm at her
conspicuous part she cast frightened looks from side to side without
arousing any sort of notice. Undeterred by her failure, a young dog,
parted from his owner, and seeking him in the crowd, pursued his search
in a wild flight down the guarded roadway with an air of anxiety that in
America would have won him thunders of applause, and all sorts of kindly
encouragements to greater speed. But this German crowd witnessed his
progress apparently without interest, and without a sign of pleasure.
They were there to see the Prince-Regent arrive, and they did not suffer
themselves to be distracted by any preliminary excitement. Suddenly the
indefinable emotion which expresses the fulfilment of expectation in a
waiting crowd passed through the multitude, and before he realized it
March was looking into the friendly gray-bearded face of the Prince-
Regent, for the moment that his carriage allowed in passing. This came
first preceded by four outriders, and followed by other simple equipages
of Bavarian blue, full of highnesses of all grades. Beside the Regent
sat his daughter-in-law, the Princess Maria, her silvered hair framing a
face as plain and good as the Regent's, if not so intelligent.
He, in virtue of having been born in Wurzburg, is officially supposed to
be specially beloved by his fellow townsmen; and they now testified their
affection as he whirled through their ranks, bowing right and left, by
what passes in Germany for a cheer. It is the word Hoch, groaned forth
from abdominal depths, and dismally prolonged in a hollow roar like that
which the mob makes behind the scenes at the theatre before bursting in
visible tumult on the stage. Then the crowd dispersed, and March came
away wondering why such a kindly-looking Prince-Regent should not have
given them a little longer sight of himself; after they had waited so
patiently for hours to see him. But doubtless in those countries, he
concluded, the art of keeping the sovereign precious by suffering him to
be rarely and briefly seen is wisely studied.
On his way home he resolved to confess Kenby's presence; and he did so as
soon as he sat down to supper with his wife. "I ought to have told you
the first thing after breakfast. But when I found you in that mood of
having the place all to ourselves, I put it off."
"You took terrible chances, my dear," she said, gravely.
"And I have been terribly punished. You've no idea how much Kenby has
talked to me about Mrs. Adding!"
She broke out laughing. "Well, perhaps you've suffered enough. But you
can see now, can't you, that it would have been awful if I had met him,
and let out that I didn't know he was here?"
"Terrible. But if I had told, it would have spoiled the whole morning
for you; you couldn't have thought of anything else."
"Oh, I don't know," she said, airily. "What should you think if I told
you I had known he was here ever since last night?" She went on in
delight at the start he gave. "I saw him come into the hotel while you
were gone for the guide-books, and I determined to keep it from you as
long as I could; I knew it would worry you. We've both been very nice;
and I forgive you," she hurried on, "because I've really got something to
"Don't tell me that Burnamy is here!"
"Don't jump to conclusions! No, Burnamy isn't here, poor fellow! And
don't suppose that I'm guilty of concealment because I haven't told you
before. I was just thinking whether I wouldn't spare you till morning,
but now I shall let you take the brunt of it. Mrs. Adding and Rose are
here." She gave the fact time to sink in, and then she added, "And Miss
Triscoe and her father are here."
"What is the matter with Major Eltwin and his wife being here, too? Are
they in our hotel?"
"No, they are not. They came to look for rooms while you were off
waiting for the Prince-Regent, and I saw them. They intended to go to
Frankfort for the manoeuvres, but they heard that there was not even
standing-room there, and so the general telegraphed to the Spanischer
Hof, and they all came here. As it is, he will have to room with Rose,
and Agatha and Mrs. Adding will room together. I didn't think Agatha was
looking very well; she looked unhappy; I don't believe she's heard, from
Burnamy yet; I hadn't a chance to ask her. And there's something else
that I'm afraid will fairly make you sick."
"Oh, no; go on. I don't think anything can do that, after an afternoon
of Kenby's confidences."
"It's worse than Kenby," she said with a sigh. "You know I told you at
Carlsbad I thought that ridiculous old thing was making up to Mrs.
"Kenby? Why of co--"
"Don't be stupid, my dear! No, not Kenby: General Triscoe. I wish you
could have been here to see him paying her all sort; of silly attentions,
and hear him making her compliments."
"Thank you. I think I'm just as well without it. Did she pay him silly
attentions and compliments, too?"
"That's the only thing that can make me forgive her for his wanting her.
She was keeping him at arm's-length the whole time, and she was doing it
so as not to make him contemptible before his daughter."
"It must have been hard. And Rose?"
"Rose didn't seem very well. He looks thin and pale; but he's sweeter
than ever. She's certainly commoner clay than Rose. No, I won't say
that! It's really nothing but General Triscoe's being an old goose about
her that makes her seem so, and it isn't fair."
March went down to his coffee in the morning with the delicate duty of
telling Kenby that Mrs. Adding was in town. Kenby seemed to think it
quite natural she should wish to see the manoeuvres, and not at all
strange that she should come to them with General Triscoe and his
daughter. He asked if March would not go with him to call upon her after
breakfast, and as this was in the line of his own instructions from Mrs.
March, he went.
They found Mrs. Adding with the Triscoes, and March saw nothing that was
not merely friendly, or at the most fatherly, in the general's behavior
toward her. If Mrs. Adding or Miss Triscoe saw more, they hid it in a
guise of sisterly affection for each other. At the most the general
showed a gayety which one would not have expected of him under any
conditions, and which the fact that he and Rose had kept each other awake
a good deal the night before seemed so little adapted to call out. He
joked with Rose about their room and their beds, and put on a comradery
with him that was not a perfect fit, and that suffered by contrast with
the pleasure of the boy and Kenby in meeting. There was a certain
question in the attitude of Mrs. Adding till March helped Kenby to
account for his presence; then she relaxed in an effect of security so
tacit that words overstate it, and began to make fun of Rose.
March could not find that Miss Triscoe looked unhappy, as his wife had
said; he thought simply that she had grown plainer; but when he reported
this, she lost her patience with him. In a girl, she said, plainness was
unhappiness; and she wished to know when he would ever learn to look an
inch below the surface: She was sure that Agatha Triscoe had not heard
from Burnamy since the Emperor's birthday; that she was at swords'-points
with her father, and so desperate that she did not care what became of
He had left Kenby with the others, and now, after his wife had talked
herself tired of them all, he proposed going out again to look about the
city, where there was nothing for the moment to remind them of the
presence of their friends or even of their existence. She answered that
she was worrying about all those people, and trying to work out their
problem for them. He asked why she did not let them work it out
themselves as they would have to do, after all her worry, and she said
that where her sympathy had been excited she could not stop worrying,
whether it did any good or not, and she could not respect any one who
could drop things so completely out of his mind as he could; she had
never been able to respect that in him.
"I know, my dear," he assented. "But I don't think it's a question of
moral responsibility; it's a question of mental structure, isn't it?
Your consciousness isn't built in thought-tight compartments, and one
emotion goes all through it, and sinks you; but I simply close the doors
and shut the emotion in, and keep on."
The fancy pleased him so much that he worked it out in all its
implications, and could not, after their long experience of each other,
realize that she was not enjoying the joke too, till she said she saw
that he merely wished to tease. Then, too late, he tried to share her
worry; but she protested that she was not worrying at all; that she cared
nothing about those people: that she was nervous, she was tired; and she
wished he would leave her, and go out alone.
He found himself in the street again, and he perceived that he must be
walking fast when a voice called him by name, and asked him what his
hurry was. The voice was Stoller's, who got into step with him and
followed the first with a second question.
"Made up your mind to go to the manoeuvres with me?"
His bluntness made it easy for March to answer: "I'm afraid my wife
couldn't stand the drive back and forth."
"Come without her."
"Thank you. It's very kind of yon. I'm not certain that I shall go at
all. If I do, I shall run out by train, and take my chances with the
Stoller insisted no further. He felt no offence at the refusal of his
offer, or chose to show none. He said, with the same uncouth abruptness
as before: "Heard anything of that fellow since he left Carlsbad?"
"Know where he is?"
"I don't in the least."
Stoller let another silence elapse while they hurried on, before he said,
"I got to thinking what he done afterwards. He wasn't bound to look out
for me; he might suppose I knew what I was about."
March turned his face and stared in Stoller's, which he was letting hang
forward as he stamped heavily on. Had the disaster proved less than he
had feared, and did he still want Burnamy's help in patching up the
broken pieces; or did he really wish to do Burnamy justice to his friend?
In any case March's duty was clear. "I think Burnamy was bound to look
out for you; Mr. Stoller, and I am glad to know that he saw it in the
"I know he did," said Stoker with a blaze as from a long-smouldering
fury, "and damn him, I'm not going to have it. I'm not going to, plead
the baby act with him, or with any man. You tell him so, when you get
the chance. You tell him I don't hold him accountable for anything I
made him do. That ain't business; I don't want him around me, any more;
but if he wants to go back to the paper he can have his place. You tell
him I stand by what I done; and it's all right between him and me.
I hain't done anything about it, the way I wanted him to help me to; I've
let it lay, and I'm a-going to. I guess it ain't going to do me any
harm, after all; our people hain't got very long memories; but if it is,
let it. You tell him it's all right."
"I don't know where he is, Mr. Stoller, and I don't know that I care to
be the bearer of your message," said March.
"Why, for one thing, I don't agree with you that it's all right. Your
choosing to stand by the consequences of Burnamy's wrong doesn't undo it.
As I understand, you don't pardon it--"
Stoller gulped and did not answer at once. Then he said, "I stand by
what I done. I'm not going to let him say I turned him down for doing
what I told him to, because I hadn't the sense to know what I was about."
"Ah, I don't think it's a thing he'll like to speak of in any case," said
Stoller left him, at the corner they had reached, as abruptly as he had
joined him, and March hurried back to his wife, and told her what had
just passed between him and Stoller.
She broke out, "Well, I am surprised at you, my dear! You have always
accused me of suspecting people, and attributing bad motives; and here
you've refused even to give the poor man the benefit of the doubt. He
merely wanted to save his savage pride with you, and that's all he wants
to do with Burnamy. How could it hurt the poor boy to know that Stoller
doesn't blame him? Why should you refuse to give his message to Burnamy?
I don't want you to ridicule me for my conscience any more, Basil; you're
twice as bad as I ever was. Don't you think that a person can ever
expiate an offence? I've often heard you say that if any one owned his
fault, he put it from him, and it was the same as if it hadn't been; and
hasn't Burnamy owned up over and over again? I'm astonished at you,
March was in fact somewhat astonished at himself in the light of her
reasoning; but she went on with some sophistries that restored him to his
"I suppose you think he has interfered with Stoller's political ambition,
and injured him in that way. Well, what if he has? Would it be a good
thing to have a man like that succeed in politics? You're always saying
that the low character of our politicians is the ruin of the country; and
I'm sure," she added, with a prodigious leap over all the sequences,
"that Mr. Stoller is acting nobly; and it's your duty to help him relieve
Burnamy's mind." At the laugh he broke into she hastened to say, "Or if
you won't, I hope you'll not object to my doing so, for I shall, anyway!"
She rose as if she were going to begin at once, in spite of his laughing;
and in fact she had already a plan for coming to Stoller's assistance by
getting at Burnamy through Miss Triscoe, whom she suspected of knowing
where he was. There had been no chance for them to speak of him either
that morning or the evening before, and after a great deal of controversy
with herself in her husband's presence she decided to wait till they came
naturally together the next morning for the walk to the Capuchin Church
on the hill beyond the river, which they had agreed to take. She could
not keep from writing a note to Miss Triscoe begging her to be sure to
come, and hinting that she had something very important to speak of.
She was not sure but she had been rather silly to do this, but when they
met the girl confessed that she had thought of giving up the walk, and
might not have come except for Mrs. March's note. She had come with
Rose, and had left him below with March; Mrs. Adding was coming later
with Kenby and General Triscoe.
Mrs. March lost no time in telling her the great news; and if she had
been in doubt before of the girl's feeling for Burnamy she was now in
none. She had the pleasure of seeing her flush with hope, and then the
pain which was also a pleasure, of seeing her blanch with dismay.
"I don't know where he is, Mrs. March. I haven't heard a word from him
since that night in Carlsbad. I expected--I didn't know but you--"
Mrs. March shook her head. She treated the fact skillfully as something
to be regretted simply because it would be such a relief to Burnamy to
know how Mr. Stoller now felt. Of course they could reach him somehow;
you could always get letters to people in Europe, in the end; and, in
fact, it was altogether probable that he was that very instant in
Wurzburg; for if the New York-Paris Chronicle had wanted him to write up
the Wagner operas, it would certainly want him to write up the
manoeuvres. She established his presence in Wurzburg by such an
irrefragable chain of reasoning that, at a knock outside, she was just
able to kelp back a scream, while she ran to open the door. It was not
Burnamy, as in compliance with every nerve it ought to have been, but her
husband, who tried to justify his presence by saying that they were all
waiting for her and Miss Triscoe, and asked when they were coming.
She frowned him silent, and then shut herself outside with him long
enough to whisper, "Say she's got a headache, or anything you please;
but don't stop talking here with me, or I shall go wild." She then shut
herself in again, with the effect of holding him accountable for the
General Triscoe could not keep his irritation, at hearing that his
daughter was not coming, out of the excuses he made to Mrs. Adding;
he said again and again that it must seem like a discourtesy to her.
She gayly disclaimed any such notion; she would not hear of putting off
their excursion to another day; it had been raining just long enough to
give them a reasonable hope of a few hours' drought, and they might not
have another dry spell for weeks. She slipped off her jacket after they
started, and gave it to Kenby, but she let General Triscoe hold her
umbrella over her, while he limped beside her. She seemed to March, as
he followed with Rose, to be playing the two men off against each other,
with an ease which he wished his wife could be there to see, and to judge
They crossed by the Old Bridge, which is of the earliest years of the
seventh century, between rows of saints whose statues surmount the piers.
Some are bishops as well as saints; one must have been at Rome in his
day, for he wore his long thick beard in the fashion of Michelangelo's
Moses. He stretched out toward the passers two fingers of blessing and
was unaware of the sparrow which had lighted on them and was giving him
the effect of offering it to the public admiration. Squads of soldiers
tramping by turned to look and smile, and the dull faces of citizens
lighted up at the quaint sight. Some children stopped and remained very
quiet, not to scare away the bird; and a cold-faced, spiritual-looking
priest paused among them as if doubting whether to rescue the absent-
minded bishop from a situation derogatory to his dignity; but he passed
on, and then the sparrow suddenly flew off.
Rose Adding had lingered for the incident with March, but they now pushed
on, and came up with the others at the end of the bridge, where they
found them in question whether they had not better take a carriage and
drive to the foot of the hill before they began their climb. March
thanked them, but said he was keeping up the terms of his cure, and was
getting in all the walking he could. Rose begged his mother not to
include him in the driving party; he protested that he was feeling so
well, and the walk was doing him good. His mother consented, if he would
promise not to get tired, and then she mounted into the two-spanner which
had driven instinctively up to their party when their parley began, and
General Triscoe took the place beside her, while Kenby, with smiling
patience, seated himself in front.
Rose kept on talking with March about Wurzburg and its history, which it
seemed he had been reading the night before when he could not sleep. He
explained, "We get little histories of the places wherever we go. That's
what Mr. Kenby does, you know."
"Oh, yes," said March.
"I don't suppose I shall get a chance to read much here," Rose continued,
"with General Triscoe in the room. He doesn't like the light."
"Well, well. He's rather old, you know. And you musn't read too much,
Rose. It isn't good for you."
"I know, but if I don't read, I think, and that keeps me awake worse. Of
course, I respect General Triscoe for being in the war, and getting
wounded," the boy suggested.
"A good many did it," March was tempted to say.
The boy did not notice his insinuation. "I suppose there were some
things they did in the army, and then they couldn't get over the habit.
But General Grant says in his 'Life' that he never used a profane
"Does General Triscoe ?"
Rose answered reluctantly, "If anything wakes him in the night, or if he
can't make these German beds over to suit him--"
"I see." March turned his face to hide the smile which he would not have
let the boy detect. He thought best not to let Rose resume his
impressions of the general; and in talk of weightier matters they found
themselves at that point of the climb where the carriage was waiting for
them. From this point they followed an alley through ivied, garden
walls, till they reached the first of the balustraded terraces which
ascend to the crest of the hill where the church stands. Each terrace is
planted with sycamores, and the face of the terrace wall supports a bass-
relief commemorating with the drama of its lifesize figures the stations
of the cross.
Monks and priests were coming and going, and dropped on the steps leading
from terrace to terrace were women and children on their knees in prayer.
It was all richly reminiscent of pilgrim scenes in other Catholic lands;
but here there was a touch of earnest in the Northern face of the
worshipers which the South had never imparted. Even in the beautiful
rococo interior of the church at the top of the hill there was a sense of
something deeper and truer than mere ecclesiasticism; and March came out
of it in a serious muse while the boy at his side did nothing to
interrupt. A vague regret filled his heart as he gazed silently out over
the prospect of river and city and vineyard, purpling together below the
top where he stood, and mixed with this regret was a vague resentment of
his wife's absence. She ought to have been there to share his pang and
his pleasure; they had so long enjoyed everything together that without
her he felt unable to get out of either emotion all there was in it.
The forgotten boy stole silently down the terraces after the rest of the
party who had left him behind with March. At the last terrace they
stopped and waited; and after a delay that began to be long to Mrs.
Adding, she wondered aloud what could have become of them.
Kenby promptly offered to go back and see, and she consented in seeming
to refuse: "It isn't worth while. Rose has probably got Mr. March into
some deep discussion, and they've forgotten all about us. But if you
will go, Mr. Kenby, you might just remind Rose of my existence." She let
him lay her jacket on her shoulders before he left her, and then she sat
down on one of the steps, which General Triscoe kept striking with the
point of her umbrella as he stood before her.
"I really shall have to take it from you if you do that any more," she
said, laughing up in his face. "I'm serious."
He stopped. "I wish I could believe you were serious, for a moment."
"You may, if you think it will do you any good. But I don't see why."
The general smiled, but with a kind of tremulous eagerness which might
have been pathetic to any one who liked him. "Do you know this is almost
the first time I have spoken alone with you?"
"Really, I hadn't noticed," said Mrs. Adding.
General Triscoe laughed in rather a ghastly way. "Well, that's
encouraging, at least, to a man who's had his doubts whether it wasn't
"Intended? By whom? What do you mean, General Triscoe? Why in the
world shouldn't you have spoken alone with me before?"
He was not, with all his eagerness, ready to say, and while she smiled
pleasantly she had the look in her eyes of being brought to bay and being
prepared, if it must come to that, to have the worst over, then and
there. She was not half his age, but he was aware of her having no
respect for his years; compared with her average American past as he
understood it, his social place was much higher, but, she was not in the
least awed by it; in spite of his war record she was making him behave
like a coward. He was in a false position, and if he had any one but
himself to blame he had not her. He read her equal knowledge of these
facts in the clear eyes that made him flush and turn his own away.