Part 4 out of 4
a case on all fours with that Prague statue. Possibly, the
authorities hereabout have had made some life-sized models of that
village, and have stuck them about the Forest to see where the
thing would look best. Anyhow, which way do we go now?"
"I don't know," said Harris, "and I don't care. I have done my
best; you've done nothing but grumble, and confuse me."
"I may have been critical," admitted George "but look at the thing
from my point of view. One of you says he's got an instinct, and
leads me to a wasps' nest in the middle of a wood."
"I can't help wasps building in a wood," I replied.
"I don't say you can," answered George. "I am not arguing; I am
merely stating incontrovertible facts. The other one, who leads me
up and down hill for hours on scientific principles, doesn't know
the north from the south, and is never quite sure whether he's
turned round or whether he hasn't. Personally, I profess to no
instincts beyond the ordinary, nor am I a scientist. But two
fields off I can see a man. I am going to offer him the worth of
the hay he is cutting, which I estimate at one mark fifty pfennig,
to leave his work, and lead me to within sight of Todtmoos. If you
two fellows like to follow, you can. If not, you can start another
system and work it out by yourselves."
George's plan lacked both originality and aplomb, but at the moment
it appealed to us. Fortunately, we had worked round to a very
short distance away from the spot where we had originally gone
wrong; with the result that, aided by the gentleman of the scythe,
we recovered the road, and reached Todtmoos four hours later than
we had calculated to reach it, with an appetite that took forty-
five minutes' steady work in silence to abate.
From Todtmoos we had intended to walk down to the Rhine; but having
regard to our extra exertions of the morning, we decided to
promenade in a carriage, as the French would say: and for this
purpose hired a picturesque-looking vehicle, drawn by a horse that
I should have called barrel-bodied but for contrast with his
driver, in comparison with whom he was angular. In Germany every
vehicle is arranged for a pair of horses, but drawn generally by
one. This gives to the equipage a lop-sided appearance, according
to our notions, but it is held here to indicate style. The idea to
be conveyed is that you usually drive a pair of horses, but that
for the moment you have mislaid the other one. The German driver
is not what we should call a first-class whip. He is at his best
when he is asleep. Then, at all events, he is harmless; and the
horse being, generally speaking, intelligent and experienced,
progress under these conditions is comparatively safe. If in
Germany they could only train the horse to collect the money at the
end of the journey, there would be no need for a coachman at all.
This would be a distinct relief to the passenger, for when the
German coachman is awake and not cracking his whip he is generally
occupied in getting himself into trouble or out of it. He is
better at the former. Once I recollect driving down a steep Black
Forest hill with a couple of ladies. It was one of those roads
winding corkscrew-wise down the slope. The hill rose at an angle
of seventy-five on the off-side, and fell away at an angle of
seventy-five on the near-side. We were proceeding very
comfortably, the driver, we were happy to notice, with his eyes
shut, when suddenly something, a bad dream or indigestion, awoke
him. He seized the reins, and, by an adroit movement, pulled the
near-side horse over the edge, where it clung, half supported by
the traces. Our driver did not appear in the least annoyed or
surprised; both horses, I also, noticed, seemed equally used to the
situation. We got out, and he got down. He took from under the
seat a huge clasp-knife, evidently kept there for the purpose, and
deftly cut the traces. The horse, thus released, rolled over and
over until he struck the road again some fifty feet below. There
he regained his feet and stood waiting for us. We re-entered the
carriage and descended with the single horse until we came to him.
There, with the help of some bits of string, our driver harnessed
him again, and we continued on our way. What impressed me was the
evident accustomedness of both driver and horses to this method of
working down a hill.
Evidently to them it appeared a short and convenient cut. I should
not have been surprised had the man suggested our strapping
ourselves in, and then rolling over and over, carriage and all, to
Another peculiarity of the German coachman is that he never
attempts to pull in or to pull up. He regulates his rate of speed,
not by the pace of the horse, but by manipulation of the brake.
For eight miles an hour he puts it on slightly, so that it only
scrapes the wheel, producing a continuous sound as of the
sharpening of a saw; for four miles an hour he screws it down
harder, and you travel to an accompaniment of groans and shrieks,
suggestive of a symphony of dying pigs. When he desires to come to
a full stop, he puts it on to its full. If his brake be a good
one, he calculates he can stop his carriage, unless the horse be an
extra powerful animal, in less than twice its own length. Neither
the German driver nor the German horse knows, apparently, that you
can stop a carriage by any other method. The German horse
continues to pull with his full strength until he finds it
impossible to move the vehicle another inch; then he rests. Horses
of other countries are quite willing to stop when the idea is
suggested to them. I have known horses content to go even quite
slowly. But your German horse, seemingly, is built for one
particular speed, and is unable to depart from it. I am stating
nothing but the literal, unadorned truth, when I say I have seen a
German coachman, with the reins lying loose over the splash-board,
working his brake with both hands, in terror lest he would not be
in time to avoid a collision.
At Waldshut, one of those little sixteenth-century towns through
which the Rhine flows during its earlier course, we came across
that exceedingly common object of the Continent: the travelling
Briton grieved and surprised at the unacquaintance of the foreigner
with the subtleties of the English language. When we entered the
station he was, in very fair English, though with a slight
Somersetshire accent, explaining to a porter for the tenth time, as
he informed us, the simple fact that though he himself had a ticket
for Donaueschingen, and wanted to go to Donaueschingen, to see the
source of the Danube, which is not there, though they tell you it
is, he wished his bicycle to be sent on to Engen and his bag to
Constance, there to await his arrival. He was hot and angry with
the effort of the thing. The porter was a young man in years, but
at the moment looked old and miserable. I offered my services. I
wish now I had not--though not so fervently, I expect, as he, the
speechless one, came subsequently to wish this. All three routes,
so the porter explained to us, were complicated, necessitating
changing and re-changing. There was not much time for calm
elucidation, as our own train was starting in a few minutes. The
man himself was voluble--always a mistake when anything entangled
has to be made clear; while the porter was only too eager to get
the job done with and so breathe again. It dawned upon me ten
minutes later, when thinking the matter over in the train, that
though I had agreed with the porter that it would be best for the
bicycle to go by way of Immendingen, and had agreed to his booking
it to Immendingen, I had neglected to give instructions for its
departure from Immendingen. Were I of a despondent temperament I
should be worrying myself at the present moment with the reflection
that in all probability that bicycle is still at Immendingen to
this day. But I regard it as good philosophy to endeavour always
to see the brighter side of things. Possibly the porter corrected
my omission on his own account, or some simple miracle may have
happened to restore that bicycle to its owner some time before the
end of his tour. The bag we sent to Radolfzell: but here I
console myself with the recollection that it was labelled
Constance; and no doubt after a while the railway authorities,
finding it unclaimed at Radolfzell, forwarded it on to Constance.
But all this is apart from the moral I wished to draw from the
incident. The true inwardness of the situation lay in the
indignation of this Britisher at finding a German railway porter
unable to comprehend English. The moment we spoke to him he
expressed this indignation in no measured terms.
"Thank you very much indeed," he said; "it's simple enough. I want
to go to Donaueschingen myself by train; from Donaueschingen I am
going to walk to Geisengen; from Geisengen I am going to take the
train to Engen, and from Engen I am going to bicycle to Constance.
But I don't want to take my bag with me; I want to find it at
Constance when I get there. I have been trying to explain the
thing to this fool for the last ten minutes; but I can't get it
"It is very disgraceful," I agreed. "Some of these German workmen
know hardly any other language than their own."
"I have gone over it with him," continued the man, "on the time
table, and explained it by pantomime. Even then I could not knock
it into him."
"I can hardly believe you," I again remarked; "you would think the
thing explained itself."
Harris was angry with the man; he wished to reprove him for his
folly in journeying through the outlying portions of a foreign
clime, and seeking in such to accomplish complicated railway tricks
without knowing a word of the language of the country. But I
checked the impulsiveness of Harris, and pointed out to him the
great and good work at which the man was unconsciously assisting.
Shakespeare and Milton may have done their little best to spread
acquaintance with the English tongue among the less favoured
inhabitants of Europe. Newton and Darwin may have rendered their
language a necessity among educated and thoughtful foreigners.
Dickens and Ouida (for your folk who imagine that the literary
world is bounded by the prejudices of New Grub Street, would be
surprised and grieved at the position occupied abroad by this at-
home-sneered-at lady) may have helped still further to popularise
it. But the man who has spread the knowledge of English from Cape
St. Vincent to the Ural Mountains is the Englishman who, unable or
unwilling to learn a single word of any language but his own,
travels purse in hand into every corner of the Continent. One may
be shocked at his ignorance, annoyed at his stupidity, angry at his
presumption. But the practical fact remains; he it is that is
anglicising Europe. For him the Swiss peasant tramps through the
snow on winter evenings to attend the English class open in every
village. For him the coachman and the guard, the chambermaid and
the laundress, pore over their English grammars and colloquial
phrase books. For him the foreign shopkeeper and merchant send
their sons and daughters in their thousands to study in every
English town. For him it is that every foreign hotel- and
restaurant-keeper adds to his advertisement: "Only those with fair
knowledge of English need apply."
Did the English-speaking races make it their rule to speak anything
else than English, the marvellous progress of the English tongue
throughout the world would stop. The English-speaking man stands
amid the strangers and jingles his gold.
"Here," cries, "is payment for all such as can speak English."
He it is who is the great educator. Theoretically we may scold
him; practically we should take our hats off to him. He is the
missionary of the English tongue.
We are grieved at the earthly instincts of the German--A superb
view, but no restaurant--Continental opinion of the Englishman--
That he does not know enough to come in out of the rain--There
comes a weary traveller with a brick--The hurting of the dog--An
undesirable family residence--A fruitful region--A merry old soul
comes up the hill--George, alarmed at the lateness of the hour,
hastens down the other side--Harris follows him, to show him the
way--I hate being alone, and follow Harris--Pronunciation specially
designed for use of foreigners.
A thing that vexes much the high-class Anglo-Saxon soul is the
earthly instinct prompting the German to fix a restaurant at the
goal of every excursion. On mountain summit, in fairy glen, on
lonely pass, by waterfall or winding stream, stands ever the busy
Wirtschaft. How can one rhapsodise over a view when surrounded by
beer-stained tables? How lose one's self in historical reverie
amid the odour of roast veal and spinach?
One day, on elevating thoughts intent, we climbed through tangled
"And at the top," said Harris, bitterly, as we paused to breathe a
space and pull our belts a hole tighter, "there will be a gaudy
restaurant, where people will be guzzling beefsteaks and plum tarts
and drinking white wine."
"Do you think so?" said George.
"Sure to be," answered Harris; "you know their way. Not one grove
will they consent to dedicate to solitude and contemplation; not
one height will they leave to the lover of nature unpolluted by the
gross and the material."
"I calculate," I remarked, "that we shall be there a little before
one o'clock, provided we don't dawdle."
"The 'mittagstisch' will be just ready," groaned Harris, "with
possibly some of those little blue trout they catch about here. In
Germany one never seems able to get away from food and drink. It
We pushed on, and in the beauty of the walk forgot our indignation.
My estimate proved to be correct.
At a quarter to one, said Harris, who was leading:
"Here we are; I can see the summit."
"Any sign of that restaurant?" said George.
"I don't notice it," replied Harris; "but it's there, you may be
sure; confound it!"
Five minutes later we stood upon the top. We looked north, south,
east and west; then we looked at one another.
"Grand view, isn't it?" said Harris.
"Magnificent," I agreed.
"Superb," remarked George.
"They have had the good sense for once," said Harris, "to put that
restaurant out of sight."
"They do seem to have hidden it," said George. "One doesn't mind
the thing so much when it is not forced under one's nose," said
"Of course, in its place," I observed, "a restaurant is right
"I should like to know where they have put it," said George.
"Suppose we look for it?" said Harris, with inspiration.
It seemed a good idea. I felt curious myself. We agreed to
explore in different directions, returning to the summit to report
progress. In half an hour we stood together once again. There was
no need for words. The face of one and all of us announced plainly
that at last we had discovered a recess of German nature
untarnished by the sordid suggestion of food or drink.
"I should never have believed it possible," said Harris: "would
"I should say," I replied, "that this is the only square quarter of
a mile in the entire Fatherland unprovided with one."
"And we three strangers have struck it," said George, "without an
"True," I observed. "By pure good fortune we are now enabled to
feast our finer senses undisturbed by appeal to our lower nature.
Observe the light upon those distant peaks; is it not ravishing?"
"Talking of nature," said George, "which should you say was the
nearest way down?"
"The road to the left," I replied, after consulting the guide book,
"takes us to Sonnensteig--where, by-the-by, I observe the 'Goldener
Adler' is well spoken of--in about two hours. The road to the
right, though somewhat longer, commands more extensive prospects."
"One prospect," said Harris, "is very much like another prospect;
don't you think so?"
"Personally," said George, "I am going by the left-hand road." And
Harris and I went after him.
But we were not to get down so soon as we had anticipated. Storms
come quickly in these regions, and before we had walked for quarter
of an hour it became a question of seeking shelter or living for
the rest of the day in soaked clothes. We decided on the former
alternative, and selected a tree that, under ordinary
circumstances, should have been ample protection. But a Black
Forest thunderstorm is not an ordinary circumstance. We consoled
ourselves at first by telling each other that at such a rate it
could not last long. Next, we endeavoured to comfort ourselves
with the reflection that if it did we should soon be too wet to
fear getting wetter.
"As it turned out," said Harris, "I should have been almost glad if
there had been a restaurant up here."
"I see no advantage in being both wet AND hungry," said George. "I
shall give it another five minutes, then I am going on."
"These mountain solitudes," I remarked, "are very attractive in
fine weather. On a rainy day, especially if you happen to be past
the age when--"
At this point there hailed us a voice, proceeding from a stout
gentleman, who stood some fifty feet away from us under a big
"Won't you come inside?" asked the stout gentleman.
"Inside where?" I called back. I thought at first he was one of
those fools that will try to be funny when there is nothing to be
"Inside the restaurant," he answered.
We left our shelter and made for him. We wished for further
information about this thing.
"I did call to you from the window," said the stout gentleman, as
we drew near to him, "but I suppose you did not hear me. This
storm may last for another hour; you will get SO wet."
He was a kindly old gentleman; he seemed quite anxious about us.
I said: "It is very kind of you to have come out. We are not
lunatics. We have not been standing under that tree for the last
half-hour knowing all the time there was a restaurant, hidden by
the trees, within twenty yards of us. We had no idea we were
anywhere near a restaurant."
"I thought maybe you hadn't," said the old gentleman; "that is why
It appeared that all the people in the inn had been watching us
from the windows also, wondering why we stood there looking
miserable. If it had not been for this nice old gentleman the
fools would have remained watching us, I suppose, for the rest of
the afternoon. The landlord excused himself by saying he thought
we looked like English. It is no figure of speech. On the
Continent they do sincerely believe that every Englishman is mad.
They are as convinced of it as is every English peasant that
Frenchmen live on frogs. Even when one makes a direct personal
effort to disabuse them of the impression one is not always
It was a comfortable little restaurant, where they cooked well,
while the Tischwein was really most passable. We stopped there for
a couple of hours, and dried ourselves and fed ourselves, and
talked about the view; and just before we left an incident occurred
that shows how much more stirring in this world are the influences
of evil compared with those of good.
A traveller entered. He seemed a careworn man. He carried a brick
in his hand, tied to a piece of rope. He entered nervously and
hurriedly, closed the door carefully behind him, saw to it that it
was fastened, peered out of the window long and earnestly, and
then, with a sigh of relief, laid his brick upon the bench beside
him and called for food and drink.
There was something mysterious about the whole affair. One
wondered what he was going to do with the brick, why he had closed
the door so carefully, why he had looked so anxiously from the
window; but his aspect was too wretched to invite conversation, and
we forbore, therefore, to ask him questions. As he ate and drank
he grew more cheerful, sighed less often. Later he stretched his
legs, lit an evil-smelling cigar, and puffed in calm contentment.
Then it happened. It happened too suddenly for any detailed
explanation of the thing to be possible. I recollect a Fraulein
entering the room from the kitchen with a pan in her hand. I saw
her cross to the outer door. The next moment the whole room was in
an uproar. One was reminded of those pantomime transformation
scenes where, from among floating clouds, slow music, waving
flowers, and reclining fairies, one is suddenly transported into
the midst of shouting policemen tumbling yelling babies, swells
fighting pantaloons, sausages and harlequins, buttered slides and
clowns. As the Fraulein of the pan touched the door it flew open,
as though all the spirits of sin had been pressed against it,
waiting. Two pigs and a chicken rushed into the room; a cat that
had been sleeping on a beer-barrel spluttered into fiery life. The
Fraulein threw her pan into the air and lay down on the floor. The
gentleman with the brick sprang to his feet, upsetting the table
before him with everything upon it.
One looked to see the cause of this disaster: one discovered it at
once in the person of a mongrel terrier with pointed ears and a
squirrel's tail. The landlord rushed out from another door, and
attempted to kick him out of the room. Instead, he kicked one of
the pigs, the fatter of the two. It was a vigorous, well-planted
kick, and the pig got the whole of it; none of it was wasted. One
felt sorry for the poor animal; but no amount of sorrow anyone else
might feel for him could compare with the sorrow he felt for
himself. He stopped running about; he sat down in the middle of
the room, and appealed to the solar system generally to observe
this unjust thing that had come upon him. They must have heard his
complaint in the valleys round about, and have wondered what
upheaval of nature was taking place among the hills.
As for the hen it scuttled, screaming, every way at once. It was a
marvellous bird: it seemed to be able to run up a straight wall
quite easily; and it and the cat between them fetched down mostly
everything that was not already on the floor. In less than forty
seconds there were nine people in that room, all trying to kick one
dog. Possibly, now and again, one or another may have succeeded,
for occasionally the dog would stop barking in order to howl. But
it did not discourage him. Everything has to be paid for, he
evidently argued, even a pig and chicken hunt; and, on the whole,
the game was worth it.
Besides, he had the satisfaction of observing that, for every kick
he received, most other living things in the room got two. As for
the unfortunate pig--the stationary one, the one that still sat
lamenting in the centre of the room--he must have averaged a steady
four. Trying to kick this dog was like playing football with a
ball that was never there--not when you went to kick it, but after
you had started to kick it, and had gone too far to stop yourself,
so that the kick had to go on in any case, your only hope being
that your foot would find something or another solid to stop it,
and so save you from sitting down on the floor noisily and
completely. When anybody did kick the dog it was by pure accident,
when they were not expecting to kick him; and, generally speaking,
this took them so unawares that, after kicking him, they fell over
him. And everybody, every half-minute, would be certain to fall
over the pig the sitting pig, the one incapable of getting out of
How long the scrimmage might have lasted it is impossible to say.
It was ended by the judgment of George. For a while he had been
seeking to catch, not the dog but the remaining pig, the one still
capable of activity. Cornering it at last, he persuaded it to
cease running round and round the room, and instead to take a spin
outside. It shot through the door with one long wail.
We always desire the thing we have not. One pig, a chicken, nine
people, and a cat, were as nothing in that dog's opinion compared
with the quarry that was disappearing. Unwisely, he darted after
it, and George closed the door upon him and shot the bolt.
Then the landlord stood up, and surveyed all the things that were
lying on the floor.
"That's a playful dog of yours," said he to the man who had come in
with the brick.
"He is not my dog," replied the man sullenly.
"Whose dog is it then?" said the landlord.
"I don't know whose dog it is," answered the man.
"That won't do for me, you know," said the landlord, picking up a
picture of the German Emperor, and wiping beer from it with his
"I know it won't," replied the man; "I never expected it would.
I'm tired of telling people it isn't my dog. They none of them
"What do you want to go about with him for, if he's not your dog?"
said the landlord. "What's the attraction about him?"
"I don't go about with him," replied the man; "he goes about with
me. He picked me up this morning at ten o'clock, and he won't
leave me. I thought I had got rid of him when I came in here. I
left him busy killing a duck more than a quarter of an hour away.
I'll have to pay for that, I expect, on my way back."
"Have you tried throwing stones at him?" asked Harris.
"Have I tried throwing stones at him!" replied the man,
contemptuously. "I've been throwing stones at him till my arm
aches with throwing stones; and he thinks it's a game, and brings
them back to me. I've been carrying this beastly brick about with
me for over an hour, in the hope of being able to drown him, but he
never comes near enough for me to get hold of him. He just sits
six inches out of reach with his mouth open, and looks at me."
"It's the funniest story I've heard for a long while," said the
"Glad it amuses somebody," said the man.
We left him helping the landlord to pick up the broken things, and
went our way. A dozen yards outside the door the faithful animal
was waiting for his friend. He looked tired, but contented. He
was evidently a dog of strange and sudden fancies, and we feared
for the moment lest he might take a liking to us. But he let us
pass with indifference. His loyalty to this unresponsive man was
touching; and we made no attempt to undermine it.
Having completed to our satisfaction the Black Forest, we journeyed
on our wheels through Alt Breisach and Colmar to Munster; whence we
started a short exploration of the Vosges range, where, according
to the present German Emperor, humanity stops. Of old, Alt
Breisach, a rocky fortress with the river now on one side of it and
now on the other--for in its inexperienced youth the Rhine never
seems to have been quite sure of its way,--must, as a place of
residence, have appealed exclusively to the lover of change and
excitement. Whoever the war was between, and whatever it was
about, Alt Breisach was bound to be in it. Everybody besieged it,
most people captured it; the majority of them lost it again; nobody
seemed able to keep it. Whom he belonged to, and what he was, the
dweller in Alt Breisach could never have been quite sure. One day
he would be a Frenchman, and then before he could learn enough
French to pay his taxes he would be an Austrian. While trying to
discover what you did in order to be a good Austrian, he would find
he was no longer an Austrian, but a German, though what particular
German out of the dozen must always have been doubtful to him. One
day he would discover that he was a Catholic, the next an ardent
Protestant. The only thing that could have given any stability to
his existence must have been the monotonous necessity of paying
heavily for the privilege of being whatever for the moment he was.
But when one begins to think of these things one finds oneself
wondering why anybody in the Middle Ages, except kings and tax
collectors, ever took the trouble to live at all.
For variety and beauty, the Vosges will not compare with the hills
of the Schwarzwald. The advantage about them from the tourist's
point of view is their superior poverty. The Vosges peasant has
not the unromantic air of contented prosperity that spoils his vis-
a-vis across the Rhine. The villages and farms possess more the
charm of decay. Another point wherein the Vosges district excels
is its ruins. Many of its numerous castles are perched where you
might think only eagles would care to build. In others, commenced
by the Romans and finished by the Troubadours, covering acres with
the maze of their still standing walls, one may wander for hours.
The fruiterer and greengrocer is a person unknown in the Vosges.
Most things of that kind grow wild, and are to be had for the
picking. It is difficult to keep to any programme when walking
through the Vosges, the temptation on a hot day to stop and eat
fruit generally being too strong for resistance. Raspberries, the
most delicious I have ever tasted, wild strawberries, currants, and
gooseberries, grow upon the hill-sides as black-berries by English
lanes. The Vosges small boy is not called upon to rob an orchard;
he can make himself ill without sin. Orchards exist in the Vosges
mountains in plenty; but to trespass into one for the purpose of
stealing fruit would be as foolish as for a fish to try and get
into a swimming bath without paying. Still, of course, mistakes do
One afternoon in the course of a climb we emerged upon a plateau,
where we lingered perhaps too long, eating more fruit than may have
been good for us; it was so plentiful around us, so varied. We
commenced with a few late strawberries, and from those we passed to
raspberries. Then Harris found a greengage-tree with some early
fruit upon it, just perfect.
"This is about the best thing we have struck," said George; "we had
better make the most of this." Which was good advice, on the face
"It is a pity," said Harris, "that the pears are still so hard."
He grieved about this for a while, but later on came across some
remarkably fine yellow plums and these consoled him somewhat.
"I suppose we are still a bit too far north for pineapples," said
George. "I feel I could just enjoy a fresh pineapple. This
commonplace fruit palls upon one after a while."
"Too much bush fruit and not enough tree, is the fault I find,"
said Harris. "Myself, I should have liked a few more greengages."
"Here is a man coming up the hill," I observed, "who looks like a
native. Maybe, he will know where we can find some more
"He walks well for an old chap," remarked Harris.
He certainly was climbing the hill at a remarkable pace. Also, so
far as we were able to judge at that distance, he appeared to be in
a remarkably cheerful mood, singing and shouting at the top of his
voice, gesticulating, and waving his arms.
"What a merry old soul it is," said Harris; "it does one good to
watch him. But why does he carry his stick over his shoulder? Why
doesn't he use it to help him up the hill?"
"Do you know, I don't think it is a stick," said George.
"What can it be, then?" asked Harris.
"Well, it looks to me," said George, "more like a gun."
"You don't think we can have made a mistake?" suggested Harris.
"You don't think this can be anything in the nature of a private
I said: "Do you remember the sad thing that happened in the South
of France some two years ago? A soldier picked some cherries as he
passed a house, and the French peasant to whom the cherries
belonged came out, and without a word of warning shot him dead."
"But surely you are not allowed to shoot a man dead for picking
fruit, even in France?" said George.
"Of course not," I answered. "It was quite illegal. The only
excuse offered by his counsel was that he was of a highly excitable
disposition, and especially keen about these particular cherries."
"I recollect something about the case," said Harris, "now you
mention it. I believe the district in which it happened--the
'Commune,' as I think it is called--had to pay heavy compensation
to the relatives of the deceased soldier; which was only fair."
George said: "I am tired of this place. Besides, it's getting
Harris said: "If he goes at that rate he will fall and hurt
himself. Besides, I don't believe he knows the way."
I felt lonesome up there all by myself, with nobody to speak to.
Besides, not since I was a boy, I reflected, had I enjoyed a run
down a really steep hill. I thought I would see if I could revive
the sensation. It is a jerky exercise, but good, I should say, for
We slept that night at Barr, a pleasant little town on the way to
St. Ottilienberg, an interesting old convent among the mountains,
where you are waited upon by real nuns, and your bill made out by a
priest. At Barr, just before supper a tourist entered. He looked
English, but spoke a language the like of which I have never heard
before. Yet it was an elegant and fine-sounding language. The
landlord stared at him blankly; the landlady shook her head. He
sighed, and tried another, which somehow recalled to me forgotten
memories, though, at the time, I could not fix it. But again
nobody understood him.
"This is damnable," he said aloud to himself.
"Ah, you are English!" exclaimed the landlord, brightening up.
"And Monsieur looks tired," added the bright little landlady.
"Monsieur will have supper."
They both spoke English excellently, nearly as well as they spoke
French and German; and they bustled about and made him comfortable.
At supper he sat next to me, and I talked to him.
"Tell me," I said--I was curious on the subject--"what language was
it you spoke when you first came in?"
"German," he explained.
"Oh," I replied, "I beg your pardon."
"You did not understand it?" he continued.
"It must have been my fault," I answered; "my knowledge is
extremely limited. One picks up a little here and there as one
goes about, but of course that is a different thing."
"But THEY did not understand it," he replied, "the landlord and his
wife; and it is their own language."
"I do not think so," I said. "The children hereabout speak German,
it is true, and our landlord and landlady know German to a certain
point. But throughout Alsace and Lorraine the old people still
"And I spoke to them in French also," he added, "and they
understood that no better."
"It is certainly very curious," I agreed.
"It is more than curious," he replied; "in my case it is
incomprehensible. I possess a diploma for modern languages. I won
my scholarship purely on the strength of my French and German. The
correctness of my construction, the purity of my pronunciation, was
considered at my college to be quite remarkable. Yet, when I come
abroad hardly anybody understands a word I say. Can you explain
"I think I can," I replied. "Your pronunciation is too faultless.
You remember what the Scotsman said when for the first time in his
life he tasted real whisky: 'It may be puir, but I canna drink
it'; so it is with your German. It strikes one less as a language
than as an exhibition. If I might offer advice, I should say:
Mispronounce as much as possible, and throw in as many mistakes as
you can think of."
It is the same everywhere. Each country keeps a special
pronunciation exclusively for the use of foreigners--a
pronunciation they never dream of using themselves, that they
cannot understand when it is used. I once heard an English lady
explaining to a Frenchman how to pronounce the word Have.
"You will pronounce it," said the lady reproachfully, "as if it
were spelt H-a-v. It isn't. There is an 'e' at the end."
"But I thought," said the pupil, "that you did not sound the 'e' at
the end of h-a-v-e."
"No more you do," explained his teacher. "It is what we call a
mute 'e'; but it exercises a modifying influence on the preceding
Before that, he used to say "have" quite intelligently.
Afterwards, when he came to the word he would stop dead, collect
his thoughts, and give expression to a sound that only the context
Putting aside the sufferings of the early martyrs, few men, I
suppose, have gone through more than I myself went through in
trying to I attain the correct pronunciation of the German word for
church--"Kirche." Long before I had done with it I had determined
never to go to church in Germany, rather than be bothered with it.
"No, no," my teacher would explain--he was a painstaking gentleman;
"you say it as if it were spelt K-i-r-c-h-k-e. There is no k. It
is--." And he would illustrate to me again, for the twentieth time
that morning, how it should be pronounced; the sad thing being that
I could never for the life of me detect any difference between the
way he said it and the way I said it. So he would try a new
"You say it from your throat," he would explain. He was quite
right; I did. "I want you to say it from down here," and with a
fat forefinger he would indicate the region from where I was to
start. After painful efforts, resulting in sounds suggestive of
anything rather than a place of worship, I would excuse myself.
"I really fear it is impossible," I would say. "You see, for years
I have always talked with my mouth, as it were; I never knew a man
could talk with his stomach. I doubt if it is not too late now for
me to learn."
By spending hours in dark corners, and practising in silent
streets, to the terror of chance passers-by, I came at last to
pronounce this word correctly. My teacher was delighted with me,
and until I came to Germany I was pleased with myself. In Germany
I found that nobody understood what I meant by it. I never got
near a church with it. I had to drop the correct pronunciation,
and painstakingly go back to my first wrong pronunciation. Then
they would brighten up, and tell me it was round the corner, or
down the next street, as the case might be.
I also think pronunciation of a foreign tongue could be better
taught than by demanding from the pupil those internal acrobatic
feats that are generally impossible and always useless. This is
the sort of instruction one receives:
"Press your tonsils against the underside of your larynx. Then
with the convex part of the septum curved upwards so as almost--but
not quite--to touch the uvula, try with the tip of your tongue to
reach your thyroid. Take a deep breath, and compress your glottis.
Now, without opening your lips, say 'Garoo.'"
And when you have done it they are not satisfied.
An examination into the character and behaviour of the German
student--The German Mensur--Uses and abuses of use--Views of an
impressionist--The humour of the thing--Recipe for making savages--
The Jungfrau: her peculiar taste in laces--The Kneipe--How to rub
a Salamander--Advice to the stranger--A story that might have ended
sadly--Of two men and two wives--Together with a bachelor.
On our way home we included a German University town, being wishful
to obtain an insight into the ways of student life, a curiosity
that the courtesy of German friends enabled us to gratify.
The English boy plays till he is fifteen, and works thence till
twenty. In Germany it is the child that works; the young man that
plays. The German boy goes to school at seven o'clock in the
summer, at eight in the winter, and at school he studies. The
result is that at sixteen he has a thorough knowledge of the
classics and mathematics, knows as much history as any man
compelled to belong to a political party is wise in knowing,
together with a thorough grounding in modern languages. Therefore
his eight College Semesters, extending over four years, are, except
for the young man aiming at a professorship, unnecessarily ample.
He is not a sportsman, which is a pity, for he should make good
one. He plays football a little, bicycles still less; plays French
billiards in stuffy cafes more. But generally speaking he, or the
majority of him, lays out his time bummeling, beer drinking, and
fighting. If he be the son of a wealthy father he joins a Korps--
to belong to a crack Korps costs about four hundred pounds a year.
If he be a middle-class young man, he enrols himself in a
Burschenschaft, or a Landsmannschaft, which is a little cheaper.
These companies are again broken up into smaller circles, in which
attempt is made to keep to nationality. There are the Swabians,
from Swabia; the Frankonians, descendants of the Franks; the
Thuringians, and so forth. In practice, of course, this results as
all such attempts do result--I believe half our Gordon Highlanders
are Cockneys--but the picturesque object is obtained of dividing
each University into some dozen or so separate companies of
students, each one with its distinctive cap and colours, and, quite
as important, its own particular beer hall, into which no other
student wearing his colours may come.
The chief work of these student companies is to fight among
themselves, or with some rival Korps or Schaft, the celebrated
The Mensur has been described so often and so thoroughly that I do
not intend to bore my readers with any detailed account of it. I
merely come forward as an impressionist, and I write purposely the
impression of my first Mensur, because I believe that first
impressions are more true and useful than opinions blunted by
intercourse, or shaped by influence.
A Frenchman or a Spaniard will seek to persuade you that the bull-
ring is an institution got up chiefly for the benefit of the bull.
The horse which you imagined to be screaming with pain was only
laughing at the comical appearance presented by its own inside.
Your French or Spanish friend contrasts its glorious and exciting
death in the ring with the cold-blooded brutality of the knacker's
yard. If you do not keep a tight hold of your head, you come away
with the desire to start an agitation for the inception of the
bull-ring in England as an aid to chivalry. No doubt Torquemada
was convinced of the humanity of the Inquisition. To a stout
gentleman, suffering, perhaps, from cramp or rheumatism, an hour or
so on the rack was really a physical benefit. He would rise
feeling more free in his joints--more elastic, as one might say,
than he had felt for years. English huntsmen regard the fox as an
animal to be envied. A day's excellent sport is provided for him
free of charge, during which he is the centre of attraction.
Use blinds one to everything one does not wish to see. Every third
German gentleman you meet in the street still bears, and will bear
to his grave, marks of the twenty to a hundred duels he has fought
in his student days. The German children play at the Mensur in the
nursery, rehearse it in the gymnasium. The Germans have come to
persuade themselves there is no brutality in it--nothing offensive,
nothing degrading. Their argument is that it schools the German
youth to coolness and courage. If this could be proved, the
argument, particularly in a country where every man is a soldier,
would be sufficiently one-sided. But is the virtue of the prize-
fighter the virtue of the soldier? One doubts it. Nerve and dash
are surely of more service in the field than a temperament of
unreasoning indifference as to what is happening to one. As a
matter of fact, the German student would have to be possessed of
much more courage not to fight. He fights not to please himself,
but to satisfy a public opinion that is two hundred years behind
All the Mensur does is to brutalise him. There may be skill
displayed--I am told there is,--but it is not apparent. The mere
fighting is like nothing so much as a broadsword combat at a
Richardson's show; the display as a whole a successful attempt to
combine the ludicrous with the unpleasant. In aristocratic Bonn,
where style is considered, and in Heidelberg, where visitors from
other nations are more common, the affair is perhaps more formal.
I am told that there the contests take place in handsome rooms;
that grey-haired doctors wait upon the wounded, and liveried
servants upon the hungry, and that the affair is conducted
throughout with a certain amount of picturesque ceremony. In the
more essentially German Universities, where strangers are rare and
not much encouraged, the simple essentials are the only things kept
in view, and these are not of an inviting nature.
Indeed, so distinctly uninviting are they, that I strongly advise
the sensitive reader to avoid even this description of them. The
subject cannot be made pretty, and I do not intend to try.
The room is bare and sordid; its walls splashed with mixed stains
of beer, blood, and candle-grease; its ceiling, smoky; its floor,
sawdust covered. A crowd of students, laughing, smoking, talking,
some sitting on the floor, others perched upon chairs and benches
form the framework.
In the centre, facing one another, stand the combatants, resembling
Japanese warriors, as made familiar to us by the Japanese tea-tray.
Quaint and rigid, with their goggle-covered eyes, their necks tied
up in comforters, their bodies smothered in what looks like dirty
bed quilts, their padded arms stretched straight above their heads,
they might be a pair of ungainly clockwork figures. The seconds,
also more or less padded--their heads and faces protected by huge
leather-peaked caps,--drag them out into their proper position.
One almost listens to hear the sound of the castors. The umpire
takes his place, the word is given, and immediately there follow
five rapid clashes of the long straight swords. There is no
interest in watching the fight: there is no movement, no skill, no
grace (I am speaking of my own impressions.) The strongest man
wins; the man who, with his heavily-padded arm, always in an
unnatural position, can hold his huge clumsy sword longest without
growing too weak to be able either to guard or to strike.
The whole interest is centred in watching the wounds. They come
always in one of two places--on the top of the head or the left
side of the face. Sometimes a portion of hairy scalp or section of
cheek flies up into the air, to be carefully preserved in an
envelope by its proud possessor, or, strictly speaking, its proud
former possessor, and shown round on convivial evenings; and from
every wound, of course, flows a plentiful stream of blood. It
splashes doctors, seconds, and spectators; it sprinkles ceiling and
walls; it saturates the fighters, and makes pools for itself in the
sawdust. At the end of each round the doctors rush up, and with
hands already dripping with blood press together the gaping wounds,
dabbing them with little balls of wet cotton wool, which an
attendant carries ready on a plate. Naturally, the moment the men
stand up again and commence work, the blood gushes out again, half
blinding them, and rendering the ground beneath them slippery. Now
and then you see a man's teeth laid bare almost to the ear, so that
for the rest of the duel he appears to be grinning at one half of
the spectators, his other side, remaining serious; and sometimes a
man's nose gets slit, which gives to him as he fights a singularly
As the object of each student is to go away from the University
bearing as many scars as possible, I doubt if any particular pains
are taken to guard, even to the small extent such method of
fighting can allow. The real victor is he who comes out with the
greatest number of wounds; he who then, stitched and patched almost
to unrecognition as a human being, can promenade for the next
month, the envy of the German youth, the admiration of the German
maiden. He who obtains only a few unimportant wounds retires sulky
But the actual fighting is only the beginning of the fun. The
second act of the spectacle takes place in the dressing-room. The
doctors are generally mere medical students--young fellows who,
having taken their degree, are anxious for practice. Truth compels
me to say that those with whom I came in contact were coarse-
looking men who seemed rather to relish their work. Perhaps they
are not to be blamed for this. It is part of the system that as
much further punishment as possible must be inflicted by the
doctor, and the ideal medical man might hardly care for such job.
How the student bears the dressing of his wounds is as important as
how he receives them. Every operation has to be performed as
brutally as may be, and his companions carefully watch him during
the process to see that he goes through it with an appearance of
peace and enjoyment. A clean-cut wound that gapes wide is most
desired by all parties. On purpose it is sewn up clumsily, with
the hope that by this means the scar will last a lifetime. Such a
wound, judiciously mauled and interfered with during the week
afterwards, can generally be reckoned on to secure its fortunate
possessor a wife with a dowry of five figures at the least.
These are the general bi-weekly Mensurs, of which the average
student fights some dozen a year. There are others to which
visitors are not admitted. When a student is considered to have
disgraced himself by some slight involuntary movement of the head
or body while fighting, then he can only regain his position by
standing up to the best swordsman in his Korps. He demands and is
accorded, not a contest, but a punishment. His opponent then
proceeds to inflict as many and as bloody wounds as can be taken.
The object of the victim is to show his comrades that he can stand
still while his head is half sliced from his skull.
Whether anything can properly be said in favour of the German
Mensur I am doubtful; but if so it concerns only the two
combatants. Upon the spectators it can and does, I am convinced,
exercise nothing but evil. I know myself sufficiently well to be
sure I am not of an unusually bloodthirsty disposition. The effect
it had upon me can only be the usual effect. At first, before the
actual work commenced, my sensation was curiosity mingled with
anxiety as to how the sight would trouble me, though some slight
acquaintance with dissecting-rooms and operating tables left me
less doubt on that point than I might otherwise have felt. As the
blood began to flow, and nerves and muscles to be laid bare, I
experienced a mingling of disgust and pity. But with the second
duel, I must confess, my finer feelings began to disappear; and by
the time the third was well upon its way, and the room heavy with
the curious hot odour of blood, I began, as the American expression
is, to see things red.
I wanted more. I looked from face to face surrounding me, and in
most of them I found reflected undoubtedly my own sensations. If
it be a good thing to excite this blood thirst in the modern man,
then the Mensur is a useful institution. But is it a good thing?
We prate about our civilisation and humanity, but those of us who
do not carry hypocrisy to the length of self-deception know that
underneath our starched shirts there lurks the savage, with all his
savage instincts untouched. Occasionally he may be wanted, but we
never need fear his dying out. On the other hand, it seems unwise
to over-nourish him.
In favour of the duel, seriously considered, there are many points
to be urged. But the Mensur serves no good purpose whatever. It
is childishness, and the fact of its being a cruel and brutal game
makes it none the less childish. Wounds have no intrinsic value of
their own; it is the cause that dignifies them, not their size.
William Tell is rightly one of the heroes of the world; but what
should we think of the members of a club of fathers, formed with
the object of meeting twice a week to shoot apples from their sons'
heads with cross-bows? These young German gentlemen could obtain
all the results of which they are so proud by teasing a wild cat!
To join a society for the mere purpose of getting yourself hacked
about reduces a man to the intellectual level of a dancing Dervish.
Travellers tell us of savages in Central Africa who express their
feelings on festive occasions by jumping about and slashing
themselves. But there is no need for Europe to imitate them. The
Mensur is, in fact, the reductio ad absurdum of the duel; and if
the Germans themselves cannot see that it is funny, one can only
regret their lack of humour.
But though one may be unable to agree with the public opinion that
supports and commands the Mensur, it at least is possible to
understand. The University code that, if it does not encourage it,
at least condones drunkenness, is more difficult to treat
argumentatively. All German students do not get drunk; in fact,
the majority are sober, if not industrious. But the minority,
whose claim to be representative is freely admitted, are only saved
from perpetual inebriety by ability, acquired at some cost, to
swill half the day and all the night, while retaining to some
extent their five senses. It does not affect all alike, but it is
common in any University town to see a young man not yet twenty
with the figure of a Falstaff and the complexion of a Rubens
Bacchus. That the German maiden can be fascinated with a face, cut
and gashed till it suggests having been made out of odd materials
that never could have fitted, is a proved fact. But surely there
can be no attraction about a blotched and bloated skin and a "bay
window" thrown out to an extent threatening to overbalance the
whole structure. Yet what else can be expected, when the youngster
starts his beer-drinking with a "Fruhschoppen" at 10 a.m., and
closes it with a "Kneipe" at four in the morning?
The Kneipe is what we should call a stag party, and can be very
harmless or very rowdy, according to its composition. One man
invites his fellow-students, a dozen or a hundred, to a cafe, and
provides them with as much beer and as many cheap cigars as their
own sense of health and comfort may dictate, or the host may be the
Korps itself. Here, as everywhere, you observe the German sense of
discipline and order. As each new comer enters all those sitting
round the table rise, and with heels close together salute. When
the table is complete, a chairman is chosen, whose duty it is to
give out the number of the songs. Printed books of these songs,
one to each two men, lie round the table. The chairman gives out
number twenty-nine. "First verse," he cries, and away all go, each
two men holding a book between them exactly as two people might
hold a hymn-book in church. There is a pause at the end of each
verse until the chairman starts the company on the next. As every
German is a trained singer, and as most of them have fair voices,
the general effect is striking.
Although the manner may be suggestive of the singing of hymns in
church, the words of the songs are occasionally such as to correct
this impression. But whether it be a patriotic song, a sentimental
ballad, or a ditty of a nature that would shock the average young
Englishman, all are sung through with stern earnestness, without a
laugh, without a false note. At the end, the chairman calls
"Prosit!" Everyone answers "Prosit!" and the next moment every
glass is empty. The pianist rises and bows, and is bowed to in
return; and then the Fraulein enters to refill the glasses.
Between the songs, toasts are proposed and responded to; but there
is little cheering, and less laughter. Smiles and grave nods of
approval are considered as more seeming among German students.
A particular toast, called a Salamander, accorded to some guest as
a special distinction, is drunk with exceptional solemnity.
"We will now," says the chairman, "a Salamander rub" ("Einen
Salamander reiben"). We all rise, and stand like a regiment at
"Is the stuff prepared?" ("Sind die stoffe parat?") demands the
"Sunt," we answer, with one voice.
"Ad exercitium Salamandri," says the chairman, and we are ready.
"Eins!" We rub our glasses with a circular motion on the table.
"Zwei!" Again the glasses growl; also at "Drei!"
And with mechanical unison every glass is emptied and held on high.
"Eins!" says the chairman. The foot of every empty glass twirls
upon the table, producing a sound as of the dragging back of a
stony beach by a receding wave.
"Zwei!" The roll swells and sinks again.
"Drei!" The glasses strike the table with a single crash, and we
are in our seats again.
The sport at the Kneipe is for two students to insult each other
(in play, of course), and to then challenge each other to a
drinking duel. An umpire is appointed, two huge glasses are
filled, and the men sit opposite each other with their hands upon
the handles, all eyes fixed upon them. The umpire gives the word
to go, and in an instant the beer is gurgling down their throats.
The man who bangs his perfectly finished glass upon the table first
Strangers who are going through a Kneipe, and who wish to do the
thing in German style, will do well, before commencing proceedings,
to pin their name and address upon their coats. The German student
is courtesy itself, and whatever his own state may be, he will see
to it that, by some means or another, his guest gets safely home
before the morning. But, of course, he cannot be expected to
A story was told me of three guests to a Berlin Kneipe which might
have had tragic results. The strangers determined to do the thing
thoroughly. They explained their intention, and were applauded,
and each proceeded to write his address upon his card, and pin it
to the tablecloth in front of him. That was the mistake they made.
They should, as I have advised, have pinned it carefully to their
coats. A man may change his place at a table, quite unconsciously
he may come out the other side of it; but wherever he goes he takes
his coat with him.
Some time in the small hours, the chairman suggested that to make
things more comfortable for those still upright, all the gentlemen
unable to keep their heads off the table should be sent home.
Among those to whom the proceedings had become uninteresting were
the three Englishmen. It was decided to put them into a cab in
charge of a comparatively speaking sober student, and return them.
Had they retained their original seats throughout the evening all
would have been well; but, unfortunately, they had gone walking
about, and which gentleman belonged to which card nobody knew--
least of all the guests themselves. In the then state of general
cheerfulness, this did not to anybody appear to much matter. There
were three gentlemen and three addresses. I suppose the idea was
that even if a mistake were made, the parties could be sorted out
in the morning. Anyhow, the three gentlemen were put into a cab,
the comparatively speaking sober student took the three cards in
his hand, and the party started amid the cheers and good wishes of
There is this advantage about German beer: it does not make a man
drunk as the word drunk is understood in England. There is nothing
objectionable about him; he is simply tired. He does not want to
talk; he wants to be let alone, to go to sleep; it does not matter
The conductor of the party stopped his cab at the nearest address.
He took out his worst case; it was a natural instinct to get rid of
that first. He and the cabman carried it upstairs, and rang the
bell of the Pension. A sleepy porter answered it. They carried
their burden in, and looked for a place to drop it. A bedroom door
happened to be open; the room was empty; could anything be better?-
-they took it in there. They relieved it of such things as came
off easily, and laid it in the bed. This done, both men, pleased
with themselves, returned to the cab.
At the next address they stopped again. This time, in answer to
their summons, a lady appeared, dressed in a tea gown, with a book
in her hand. The German student looked at the top one of two cards
remaining in his hand, and enquired if he had the pleasure of
addressing Frau Y. It happened that he had, though so far as any
pleasure was concerned that appeared to be entirely on his side.
He explained to Frau Y. that the gentleman at that moment asleep
against the wall was her husband. The reunion moved her to no
enthusiasm; she simply opened the bedroom door, and then walked
away. The cabman and the student took him in, and laid him on the
bed. They did not trouble to undress him, they were feeling tired!
They did not see the lady of the house again, and retired therefore
The last card was that of a bachelor stopping at an hotel. They
took their last man, therefore, to that hotel, passed him over to
the night porter, and left him.
To return to the address at which the first delivery was made, what
had happened there was this. Some eight hours previously had said
Mr. X. to Mrs. X.: "I think I told you, my dear, that I had an
invitation for this evening to what, I believe, is called a
"You did mention something of the sort," replied Mrs. X. "What is
"Well, it's a sort of bachelor party, my dear, where the students
meet to sing and talk and--and smoke, and all that sort of thing,
"Oh, well, I hope you will enjoy yourself!" said Mrs. X., who was a
nice woman and sensible.
"It will be interesting," observed Mr. X. "I have often had a
curiosity to see one. I may," continued Mr. X.,--"I mean it is
possible, that I may be home a little late."
"What do you call late?" asked Mrs. X.
"It is somewhat difficult to say," returned Mr. X. "You see these
students, they are a wild lot, and when they get together--And
then, I believe, a good many toasts are drunk. I don't know how it
will affect me. If I can see an opportunity I shall come away
early, that is if I can do so without giving offence; but if not--"
Said Mrs. X., who, as I remarked before, was a sensible woman:
"You had better get the people here to lend you a latchkey. I
shall sleep with Dolly, and then you won't disturb me whatever time
it may be."
"I think that an excellent idea of yours," agreed Mr. X. "I should
hate disturbing you. I shall just come in quietly, and slip into
Some time in the middle of the night, or maybe towards the early
morning, Dolly, who was Mrs. X.'s sister, sat up in bed and
"Jenny," said Dolly, "are you awake?"
"Yes, dear," answered Mrs. X. "It's all right. You go to sleep
"But whatever is it?" asked Dolly. "Do you think it's fire?"
"I expect," replied Mrs. X., "that it's Percy. Very possibly he
has stumbled over something in the dark. Don't you worry, dear;
you go to sleep."
But so soon as Dolly had dozed off again, Mrs. X., who was a good
wife, thought she would steal off softly and see to it that Percy
was all right. So, putting on a dressing-gown and slippers, she
crept along the passage and into her own room. To awake the
gentleman on the bed would have required an earthquake. She lit a
candle and stole over to the bedside.
It was not Percy; it was not anyone like Percy. She felt it was
not the man that ever could have been her husband, under any
circumstances. In his present condition her sentiment towards him
was that of positive dislike. Her only desire was to get rid of
But something there was about him which seemed familiar to her.
She went nearer, and took a closer view. Then she remembered.
Surely it was Mr. Y., a gentleman at whose flat she and Percy had
dined the day they first arrived in Berlin.
But what was he doing here? She put the candle on the table, and
taking her head between her hands sat down to think. The
explanation of the thing came to her with a rush. It was with this
Mr. Y. that Percy had gone to the Kneipe. A mistake had been made.
Mr. Y. had been brought back to Percy's address. Percy at this
very moment -
The terrible possibilities of the situation swam before her.
Returning to Dolly's room, she dressed herself hastily, and
silently crept downstairs. Finding, fortunately, a passing night-
cab, she drove to the address of Mrs. Y. Telling the man to wait,
she flew upstairs and rang persistently at the bell. It was opened
as before by Mrs. Y., still in her tea-gown, and with her book
still in her hand.
"Mrs. X.!" exclaimed Mrs. Y. "Whatever brings you here?"
"My husband!" was all poor Mrs. X. could think to say at the
moment, "is he here?"
"Mrs. X.," returned Mrs. Y., drawing herself up to her full height,
"how dare you?"
"Oh, please don't misunderstand me!" pleaded Mrs. X. "It's all a
terrible mistake. They must have brought poor Percy here instead
of to our place, I'm sure they must. Do please look and see."
"My dear," said Mrs. Y., who was a much older woman, and more
motherly, "don't excite yourself. They brought him here about half
an hour ago, and, to tell you the truth, I never looked at him. He
is in here. I don't think they troubled to take off even his
boots. If you keep cool, we will get him downstairs and home
without a soul beyond ourselves being any the wiser.
Indeed, Mrs. Y. seemed quite eager to help Mrs. X.
She pushed open the door, and Mrs. X, went in. The next moment she
came out with a white, scared face.
"It isn't Percy," she said. "Whatever am I to do?"
"I wish you wouldn't make these mistakes," said Mrs. Y., moving to
enter the room herself.
Mrs. X. stopped her. "And it isn't your husband either."
"Nonsense," said Mrs. Y.
"It isn't really," persisted Mrs. X. "I know, because I have just
left him, asleep on Percy's bed."
"What's he doing there?" thundered Mrs. Y.
"They brought him there, and put him there," explained Mrs. X.,
beginning to cry. "That's what made me think Percy must be here."
The two women stood and looked at one another; and there was
silence for awhile, broken only by the snoring of the gentleman the
other side of the half-open door.
"Then who is that, in there?" demanded Mrs. Y., who was the first
to recover herself.
"I don't know," answered Mrs. X., "I have never seen him before.
Do you think it is anybody you know?"
But Mrs. Y. only banged to the door.
"What are we to do?" said Mrs. X.
"I know what _I_ am going to do," said Mrs. Y. "I'm coming back
with you to fetch my husband."
"He's very sleepy," explained Mrs. X.
"I've known him to be that before," replied Mrs. Y., as she
fastened on her cloak.
"But where's Percy?" sobbed poor little Mrs. X., as they descended
the stairs together.
"That my dear," said Mrs. Y., "will be a question for you to ask
"If they go about making mistakes like this," said Mrs. X., "it is
impossible to say what they may not have done with him."
"We will make enquiries in the morning, my dear," said Mrs. Y.,
"I think these Kneipes are disgraceful affairs," said Mrs. X. "I
shall never let Percy go to another, never--so long as I live."
"My dear," remarked Mrs. Y., "if you know your duty, he will never
want to." And rumour has it that he never did.
But, as I have said, the mistake was in pinning the card to the
tablecloth instead of to the coat. And error in this world is
always severely punished.
Which is serious: as becomes a parting chapter--The German from
the Anglo-Saxon's point of view--Providence in buttons and a
helmet--Paradise of the helpless idiot--German conscience: its
aggressiveness--How they hang in Germany, very possibly--What
happens to good Germans when they die?--The military instinct: is
it all-sufficient?--The German as a shopkeeper--How he supports
life--The New Woman, here as everywhere--What can be said against
the Germans, as a people--The Bummel is over and done.
"Anybody could rule this country," said George; "_I_ could rule
We were seated in the garden of the Kaiser Hof at Bonn, looking
down upon the Rhine. It was the last evening of our Bummel; the
early morning train would be the beginning of the end.
"I should write down all I wanted the people to do on a piece of
paper," continued George; "get a good firm to print off so many
copies, have them posted about the towns and villages; and the
thing would be done."
In the placid, docile German of to-day, whose only ambition appears
to be to pay his taxes, and do what he is told to do by those whom
it has pleased Providence to place in authority over him, it is
difficult, one must confess, to detect any trace of his wild
ancestor, to whom individual liberty was as the breath of his
nostrils; who appointed his magistrates to advise, but retained the
right of execution for the tribe; who followed his chief, but would
have scorned to obey him. In Germany to-day one hears a good deal
concerning Socialism, but it is a Socialism that would only be
despotism under another name. Individualism makes no appeal to the
German voter. He is willing, nay, anxious, to be controlled and
regulated in all things. He disputes, not government, but the form
of it. The policeman is to him a religion, and, one feels, will
always remain so. In England we regard our man in blue as a
harmless necessity. By the average citizen he is employed chiefly
as a signpost, though in busy quarters of the town he is considered
useful for taking old ladies across the road. Beyond feeling
thankful to him for these services, I doubt if we take much thought
of him. In Germany, on the other hand, he is worshipped as a
little god and loved as a guardian angel. To the German child he
is a combination of Santa Clans and the Bogie Man. All good things
come from him: Spielplatze to play in, furnished with swings and
giant-strides, sand heaps to fight around, swimming baths, and
fairs. All misbehaviour is punished by him. It is the hope of
every well-meaning German boy and girl to please the police. To be
smiled at by a policeman makes it conceited. A German child that
has been patted on the head by a policeman is not fit to live with;
its self-importance is unbearable.
The German citizen is a soldier, and the policeman is his officer.
The policeman directs him where in the street to walk, and how fast
to walk. At the end of each bridge stands a policeman to tell the
German how to cross it. Were there no policeman there, he would
probably sit down and wait till the river had passed by. At the
railway station the policeman locks him up in the waiting-room,
where he can do no harm to himself. When the proper time arrives,
he fetches him out and hands him over to the guard of the train,
who is only a policeman in another uniform. The guard tells him
where to sit in the train, and when to get out, and sees that he
does get out. In Germany you take no responsibility upon yourself
whatever. Everything is done for you, and done well. You are not
supposed to look after yourself; you are not blamed for being
incapable of looking after yourself; it is the duty of the German
policeman to look after you. That you may be a helpless idiot does
not excuse him should anything happen to you. Wherever you are and
whatever you are doing you are in his charge, and he takes care of
you--good care of you; there is no denying this.
If you lose yourself, he finds you; and if you lose anything
belonging to you, he recovers it for you. If you don't know what
you want, he tells you. If you want anything that is good for you
to have, he gets it for you. Private lawyers are not needed in
Germany. If you want to buy or sell a house or field, the State
makes out the conveyance. If you have been swindled, the State
takes up the case for you. The State marries you, insures you,
will even gamble with you for a trifle.
"You get yourself born," says the German Government to the German
citizen, "we do the rest. Indoors and out of doors, in sickness
and in health, in pleasure and in work, we will tell you what to
do, and we will see to it that you do it. Don't you worry yourself
And the German doesn't. Where there is no policeman to be found,
he wanders about till he comes to a police notice posted on a wall.
This he reads; then he goes and does what it says.
I remember in one German town--I forget which; it is immaterial;
the incident could have happened in any--noticing an open gate
leading to a garden in which a concert was being given. There was
nothing to prevent anyone who chose from walking through that gate,
and thus gaining admittance to the concert without paying. In
fact, of the two gates quarter of a mile apart it was the more
convenient. Yet of the crowds that passed, not one attempted to
enter by that gate. They plodded steadily on under a blazing sun
to the other gate, at which a man stood to collect the entrance
money. I have seen German youngsters stand longingly by the margin
of a lonely sheet of ice. They could have skated on that ice for
hours, and nobody have been the wiser. The crowd and the police
were at the other end, more than half a mile away, and round the
corner. Nothing stopped their going on but the knowledge that they
ought not. Things such as these make one pause to seriously wonder
whether the Teuton be a member of the sinful human family or not.
Is it not possible that these placid, gentle folk may in reality be
angels, come down to earth for the sake of a glass of beer, which,
as they must know, can only in Germany be obtained worth the
In Germany the country roads are lined with fruit trees. There is
no voice to stay man or boy from picking and eating the fruit,
except conscience. In England such a state of things would cause
public indignation. Children would die of cholera by the hundred.
The medical profession would be worked off its legs trying to cope
with the natural results of over-indulgence in sour apples and
unripe walnuts. Public opinion would demand that these fruit trees
should be fenced about, and thus rendered harmless. Fruit growers,
to save themselves the expense of walls and palings, would not be
allowed in this manner to spread sickness and death throughout the
But in Germany a boy will walk for miles down a lonely road, hedged
with fruit trees, to buy a pennyworth of pears in the village at
the other end. To pass these unprotected fruit trees, drooping
under their burden of ripe fruit, strikes the Anglo-Saxon mind as a
wicked waste of opportunity, a flouting of the blessed gifts of
I do not know if it be so, but from what I have observed of the
German character I should not be surprised to hear that when a man
in Germany is condemned to death he is given a piece of rope, and
told to go and hang himself. It would save the State much trouble
and expense, and I can see that German criminal taking that piece
of rope home with him, reading up carefully the police
instructions, and proceeding to carry them out in his own back
The Germans are a good people. On the whole, the best people
perhaps in the world; an amiable, unselfish, kindly people. I am
positive that the vast majority of them go to Heaven. Indeed,
comparing them with the other Christian nations of the earth, one
is forced to the conclusion that Heaven will be chiefly of German
manufacture. But I cannot understand how they get there. That the
soul of any single individual German has sufficient initiative to
fly up by itself and knock at St. Peter's door, I cannot believe.
My own opinion is that they are taken there in small companies, and
passed in under the charge of a dead policeman.
Carlyle said of the Prussians, and it is true of the whole German
nation, that one of their chief virtues was their power of being
drilled. Of the Germans you might say they are a people who will
go anywhere, and do anything, they are told. Drill him for the
work and send him out to Africa or Asia under charge of somebody in
uniform, and he is bound to make an excellent colonist, facing
difficulties as he would face the devil himself, if ordered. But
it is not easy to conceive of him as a pioneer. Left to run
himself, one feels he would soon fade away and die, not from any
lack of intelligence, but from sheer want of presumption.
The German has so long been the soldier of Europe, that the
military instinct has entered into his blood. The military virtues
he possesses in abundance; but he also suffers from the drawbacks
of the military training. It was told me of a German servant,
lately released from the barracks, that he was instructed by his
master to deliver a letter to a certain house, and to wait there
for the answer. The hours passed by, and the man did not return.
His master, anxious and surprised, followed. He found the man
where he had been sent, the answer in his hand. He was waiting for
further orders. The story sounds exaggerated, but personally I can
The curious thing is that the same man, who as an individual is as
helpless as a child, becomes, the moment he puts on the uniform, an
intelligent being, capable of responsibility and initiative. The
German can rule others, and be ruled by others, but he cannot rule
himself. The cure would appear to be to train every German for an
officer, and then put him under himself. It is certain he would
order himself about with discretion and judgment, and see to it
that he himself obeyed himself with smartness and precision.
For the direction of German character into these channels, the
schools, of course, are chiefly responsible. Their everlasting
teaching is duty. It is a fine ideal for any people; but before
buckling to it, one would wish to have a clear understanding as to
what this "duty" is. The German idea of it would appear to be:
"blind obedience to everything in buttons." It is the antithesis
of the Anglo-Saxon scheme; but as both the Anglo-Saxon and the
Teuton are prospering, there must be good in both methods.
Hitherto, the German has had the blessed fortune to be
exceptionally well governed; if this continue, it will go well with
him. When his troubles will begin will be when by any chance
something goes wrong with the governing machine. But maybe his
method has the advantage of producing a continuous supply of good
governors; it would certainly seem so.
As a trader, I am inclined to think the German will, unless his
temperament considerably change, remain always a long way behind
his Anglo-Saxon competitor; and this by reason of his virtues. To
him life is something more important than a mere race for wealth.
A country that closes its banks and post-offices for two hours in
the middle of the day, while it goes home and enjoys a comfortable
meal in the bosom of its family, with, perhaps, forty winks by way
of dessert, cannot hope, and possibly has no wish, to compete with
a people that takes its meals standing, and sleeps with a telephone
over its bed. In Germany there is not, at all events as yet,
sufficient distinction between the classes to make the struggle for
position the life and death affair it is in England. Beyond the
landed aristocracy, whose boundaries are impregnable, grade hardly
counts. Frau Professor and Frau Candlestickmaker meet at the
Weekly Kaffee-Klatsch and exchange scandal on terms of mutual
equality. The livery-stable keeper and the doctor hobnob together
at their favourite beer hall. The wealthy master builder, when he
prepares his roomy waggon for an excursion into the country,
invites his foreman and his tailor to join him with their families.
Each brings his share of drink and provisions, and returning home
they sing in chorus the same songs. So long as this state of
things endures, a man is not induced to sacrifice the best years of
his life to win a fortune for his dotage. His tastes, and, more to
the point still, his wife's, remain inexpensive. He likes to see
his flat or villa furnished with much red plush upholstery and a
profusion of gilt and lacquer. But that is his idea; and maybe it
is in no worse taste than is a mixture of bastard Elizabethan with
imitation Louis XV, the whole lit by electric light, and smothered
with photographs. Possibly, he will have his outer walls painted
by the local artist: a sanguinary battle, a good deal interfered
with by the front door, taking place below, while Bismarck, as an
angel, flutters vaguely about the bedroom windows. But for his Old
Masters he is quite content to go to the public galleries; and "the
Celebrity at Home" not having as yet taken its place amongst the
institutions of the Fatherland, he is not impelled to waste his,
money turning his house into an old curiosity shop.
The German is a gourmand. There are still English farmers who,
while telling you that farming spells starvation, enjoy their seven
solid meals a day. Once a year there comes a week's feast
throughout Russia, during which many deaths occur from the over-
eating of pancakes; but this is a religious festival, and an
exception. Taking him all round, the German as a trencherman
stands pre-eminent among the nations of the earth. He rises early,
and while dressing tosses off a few cups of coffee, together with
half a dozen hot buttered rolls. But it is not until ten o'clock
that he sits down to anything that can properly be called a meal.
At one or half-past takes place his chief dinner. Of this he makes
a business, sitting at it for a couple of hours. At four o'clock
he goes to the cafe, and eats cakes and drinks chocolate. The
evening he devotes to eating generally--not a set meal, or rarely,
but a series of snacks,--a bottle of beer and a Belegete-semmel or
two at seven, say; another bottle of beer and an Aufschnitt at the
theatre between the acts; a small bottle of white wine and a
Spiegeleier before going home; then a piece of cheese or sausage,
washed down by more beer, previous to turning in for the night.
But he is no gourmet. French cooks and French prices are not the
rule at his restaurant. His beer or his inexpensive native white
wine he prefers to the most costly clarets or champagnes. And,
indeed, it is well for him he does; for one is inclined to think
that every time a French grower sells a bottle of wine to a German
hotel- or shop-keeper, Sedan is rankling in his mind. It is a
foolish revenge, seeing that it is not the German who as a rule
drinks it; the punishment falls upon some innocent travelling
Englishman. Maybe, however, the French dealer remembers also
Waterloo, and feels that in any event he scores.
In Germany expensive entertainments are neither offered nor
expected. Everything throughout the Fatherland is homely and
friendly. The German has no costly sports to pay for, no showy
establishment to maintain, no purse-proud circle to dress for. His
chief pleasure, a seat at the opera or concert, can be had for a
few marks; and his wife and daughters walk there in home-made
dresses, with shawls over their heads. Indeed, throughout the
country the absence of all ostentation is to English eyes quite
refreshing. Private carriages are few and far between, and even
the droschke is made use of only when the quicker and cleaner
electric car is not available.
By such means the German retains his independence. The shopkeeper
in Germany does not fawn upon his customers. I accompanied an
English lady once on a shopping excursion in Munich. She had been
accustomed to shopping in London and New York, and she grumbled at
everything the man showed her. It was not that she was really
dissatisfied; this was her method. She explained that she could
get most things cheaper and better elsewhere; not that she really
thought she could, merely she held it good for the shopkeeper to
say this. She told him that his stock lacked taste--she did not
mean to be offensive; as I have explained, it was her method;--that
there was no variety about it; that it was not up to date; that it
was commonplace; that it looked as if it would not wear. He did
not argue with her; he did not contradict her. He put the things
back into their respective boxes, replaced the boxes on their
respective shelves, walked into the little parlour behind the shop,
and closed the door.
"Isn't he ever coming back?" asked the lady, after a couple of
minutes had elapsed.
Her tone did not imply a question, so much as an exclamation of
"I doubt it," I replied.
"Why not?" she asked, much astonished.
"I expect," I answered, "you have bored him. In all probability he
is at this moment behind that door smoking a pipe and reading the
"What an extraordinary shopkeeper!" said my friend, as she gathered
her parcels together and indignantly walked out.
"It is their way," I explained. "There are the goods; if you want
them, you can have them. If you do not want them, they would
almost rather that you did not come and talk about them."
On another occasion I listened in the smoke-room of a German hotel
to a small Englishman telling a tale which, had I been in his
place, I should have kept to myself.
"It doesn't do," said the little Englishman, "to try and beat a
German down. They don't seem to understand it. I saw a first
edition of The Robbers in a shop in the Georg Platz. I went in and
asked the price. It was a rum old chap behind the counter. He
said: 'Twenty-five marks,' and went on reading. I told him I had
seen a better copy only a few days before for twenty--one talks
like that when one is bargaining; it is understood. He asked me
'Where?' I told him in a shop at Leipsig. He suggested my
returning there and getting it; he did not seem to care whether I
bought the book or whether I didn't. I said:
"'What's the least you will take for it?'
"'I have told you once,' he answered; 'twenty-five marks.' He was
an irritable old chap.
"I said: 'It's not worth it.'
"'I never said it was, did I?' he snapped.
"I said: 'I'll give you ten marks for it.' I thought, maybe, he
would end by taking twenty.
"He rose. I took it he was coming round the counter to get the
book out. Instead, he came straight up to me. He was a biggish
sort of man. He took me by the two shoulders, walked me out into
the street, and closed the door behind me with a bang. I was never
more surprised in all my life.
"Maybe the book was worth twenty-five marks," I suggested.
"Of course it was," he replied; "well worth it. But what a notion
If anything change the German character, it will be the German
woman. She herself is changing rapidly--advancing, as we call it.
Ten years ago no German woman caring for her reputation, hoping for
a husband, would have dared to ride a bicycle: to-day they spin
about the country in their thousands. The old folks shake their
heads at them; but the young men, I notice, overtake them and ride
beside them. Not long ago it was considered unwomanly in Germany
for a lady to be able to do the outside edge. Her proper skating
attitude was thought to be that of clinging limpness to some male
relative. Now she practises eights in a corner by herself, until
some young man comes along to help her. She plays tennis, and,
from a point of safety, I have even noticed her driving a dog-cart.
Brilliantly educated she always has been. At eighteen she speaks
two or three languages, and has forgotten more than the average
Englishwoman has ever read. Hitherto, this education has been
utterly useless to her. On marriage she has retired into the
kitchen, and made haste to clear her brain of everything else, in
order to leave room for bad cooking. But suppose it begins to dawn
upon her that a woman need not sacrifice her whole existence to
household drudgery any more than a man need make himself nothing
else than a business machine. Suppose she develop an ambition to
take part in the social and national life. Then the influence of
such a partner, healthy in body and therefore vigorous in mind, is
bound to be both lasting and far-reaching.
For it must be borne in mind that the German man is exceptionally
sentimental, and most easily influenced by his women folk. It is
said of him, he is the best of lovers, the worst of husbands. This
has been the woman's fault. Once married, the German woman has
done more than put romance behind her; she has taken a carpet-
beater and driven it out of the house. As a girl, she never
understood dressing; as a wife, she takes off such clothes even as
she had, and proceeds to wrap herself up in any odd articles she
may happen to find about the house; at all events, this is the
impression she produces. The figure that might often be that of a
Juno, the complexion that would sometimes do credit to a healthy
angel, she proceeds of malice and intent to spoil. She sells her
birth-right of admiration and devotion for a mess of sweets. Every
afternoon you may see her at the cafe, loading herself with rich
cream-covered cakes, washed down by copious draughts of chocolate.
In a short time she becomes fat, pasty, placid, and utterly
When the German woman gives up her afternoon coffee and her evening
beer, takes sufficient exercise to retain her shape, and continues
to read after marriage something else than the cookery-book, the
German Government will find it has a new and unknown force to deal
with. And everywhere throughout Germany one is confronted by
unmistakable signs that the old German Frauen are giving place to
the newer Damen.
Concerning what will then happen one feels curious. For the German
nation is still young, and its maturity is of importance to the
world. They are a good people, a lovable people, who should help
much to make the world better.
The worst that can be said against them is that they have their
failings. They themselves do not know this; they consider
themselves perfect, which is foolish of them. They even go so far
as to think themselves superior to the Anglo-Saxon: this is
incomprehensible. One feels they must be pretending.
"They have their points," said George; "but their tobacco is a
national sin. I'm going to bed."
We rose, and leaning over the low stone parapet, watched the
dancing lights upon the soft, dark river.
"It has been a pleasant Bummel, on the whole," said Harris; "I
shall be glad to get back, and yet I am sorry it is over, if you
"What is a 'Bummel'?" said George. "How would you translate it?"
"A 'Bummel'," I explained, "I should describe as a journey, long or
short, without an end; the only thing regulating it being the
necessity of getting back within a given time to the point from
which one started. Sometimes it is through busy streets, and
sometimes through the fields and lanes; sometimes we can be spared
for a few hours, and sometimes for a few days. But long or short,
but here or there, our thoughts are ever on the running of the
sand. We nod and smile to many as we pass; with some we stop and
talk awhile; and with a few we walk a little way. We have been
much interested, and often a little tired. But on the whole we
have had a pleasant time, and are sorry when 'tis over."