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“She came over here with letters to Paris friends, and when it became known that one of the richest heiresses in America was here, naturally all the mammas with marriageable sons were anxious to see her. She was invited everywhere, but as she could not speak French, and as she was as you see her, her success could not be said to be great. No, but that made no difference. The Duchesse de Z—- was determined that her son should marry the rich heiress. As she expected to remain here a year or more, and the young Duc de Z—- made a wry face, she did not press the matter. Then the heiress went into a convent to learn French, and the Duchesse went to see her very often and took her to drive, and did her son’s part as well as she could.

“Suddenly, to the amazement of everybody, the heiress sailed for America without a word of warning. The Duchesse was furious. ‘You must follow her,’ she said to her son. ‘We cannot let so much money escape.’ The son said he would be hanged if he went to America, or if he would marry such a monkey, and as for her money, she could go anywhere she pleased with it, or words to that effect. So that ended the affair of the Duc de Z—-. When the other impecunious young nobles heard that the Duchesse no longer had any claims upon the American’s money they got together and said, ‘Somebody must marry her and divide with the rest. We can’t all marry her, but we can all have a share from whoever does. Now we will draw lots to see who must go to America and marry her.’ The lot fell to the Baron de X—-, but he had no money for the journey. So all the others raised what money they could and loaned it to him, and took his notes for it, with enormous interest, payable after his marriage. He sailed away, and within eight months he had married her, but he has not paid those notes because his wife won’t give him the money! And these gentlemen are furious! Good joke, I call it.”

“What a shameful thing!” I said. “I wonder if that girl knew how she was being married!”

“Of course she knew! At least, she might have known. She was rich and she was plain. How could she hope to gain one of the proudest titles in France without buying it?”

“I wonder if she could have known!” I said, again.

“It would not have prevented the marriage, would it, mademoiselle, if she had?”

“Indeed it would!” I said (but I don’t know whether it would or not). He shrugged his shoulders.

“America is very different from Europe, then, mademoiselle. Here it would have made no difference. When a great amount of money is to be placed, one must not have too many scruples.”

“If she did know,” I said, with a fervor which was lost upon him, “believe this, whether you can understand it or not: she was not a typical American girl.”

I had, as usual, many more words which he deserved to have had said to him, but education along this line takes too much time. I ought to have begun this great work with his great-grandparents.

* * * * *

What any one can see about Dinard to like is a mystery to me! Is it possible that one who has spent a month there could ever be lured back again? There is a beautiful journey from Paris across France southwesterly to the coast, through odd little French villages, vineyards, poppy-fields, and rose-gardens, across shining rivulets and through an undulating landscape, all so lovely that it is no wonder that one expects all this beauty to lead up to a climax. But what a disappointment Dinard is to one’s enthusiastic anticipations! This famous watering-place has to my mind not one solitary redeeming feature. It has no excuse for being famous. It has not even one happy accident about it as a peg to hang its fame upon, like some writers’ first novels. Dinard simply goes on being famous, nobody knows why. And to go there, after reading pages about it in the papers and hearing people speak of Dinard as Mohammedans whisper sacredly of Mecca, is like meeting celebrities. You wonder what under the sun–what in the world–how in the name of Heaven such ugly, stupid, uninteresting, heavy, dull, and insufferably ordinary persons are allowed to become famous by an overruling and beneficent Providence! I have met many celebrities, and I have been to Dinard. I have had my share of disappointments.

To begin with, Dinard is not sufficiently picturesque. There are but one or two pretty vistas and three or four points of view. Then it is not typically French. It is inhabited partly by English families who cross the Channel yearly from Southampton and Portsmouth, and who take with them their nine uninteresting daughters, with long front teeth and ill-hanging duck skirts, and partly by Americans who go to Dinard as they go to the Eiffel Tower; not that either is particularly interesting, but they had heard of these places before they came over. The only really interesting thing within five miles of Dinard is that, off St. Malo, on the island of Grand Be, Chateaubriand is buried. But as this really belongs more to the attractions of St. Malo than to Dinard, and nobody who spends summers at Dinard ever mentioned Chateaubriand in my presence, or honored his tomb by a visit, it is pure charity on my part to ascribe this solitary point of real interest to Dinard. For, after all, Chateaubriand does not belong to it. Which logic reminds me forcibly of the plea entered by the defence in a suit for borrowing a kettle: “In the first place, I never borrowed his kettle; in the second place, it was whole when I returned it; and, in the third place, it was cracked when I got it.”

So with Chateaubriand and Dinard. Then Dinard has none of the dash and go of other watering-places. There is nothing to do except to bathe mornings and watch the people win or lose two francs at _petits chevaux_ in the evenings. Not wildly exciting, that. Consequently, you soon begin to stagnate with the rest.

You grow more and more stupid as the weeks pass, and at the end of a month you cease to think. From that time on you do not have such a bad time–that is to say, you do not suffer so acutely, because you have now got down to the level of the people who go back to Dinard the next year.

We came away. The hotels are among the worst on earth–musty, old-fashioned, and villainously expensive–and one of the happiest moments in my life was the day when I left Dinard for Mont St. Michel. Mont St. Michel is one of the most out-of-the-way, un-get-at-able places I found in all Europe; but, oh, how it rewards one who arrives!

Mont St. Michel is too well known to need a description. But to go from Dinard requires, first of all, that one must go by boat over to St. Malo, thence by train; change cars, and alight finally at a lonely little station, behind which stands a sort of vehicle–a cross between a London omnibus and a hay-wagon. You scramble to the top of this as best you may. Nobody helps you. The Frenchman behind you crowds forward and climbs up ahead of you and holds you back with his umbrella while he hauls his fat wife up beside him. Then you clamber up by the hub of the wheel and by sundry awkward means which remind you of climbing a stone wall when you were a child. You take any seat left, which the Frenchmen do not want, the horses are put to, and away you go over a smooth sandy road for eleven miles, with the sea crawling up on each side of you over the dunes.

Suddenly, without warning, you come squarely upon Mont St. Michel, rising solidly five hundred feet from nowhere. There is a whole town in this fortress, built upon this rock, street above street, like a flight of stairs, and house piled up behind house, until on the very top there is one of the most famous cathedrals in the world; and as you thread its maze of vaulted chambers and dungeons and come to its gigantic tower you are lost in absolute wonder at the building of it.

Where did they get the material? And when got, what human ingenuity could raise those enormous blocks of stone to that vast height? How those cannon swept all approach by land or sea as far as the eye could reach! It would require superb courage in an enemy to come within reach of that grim sentinel of France, manned by her warrior monks. What secrets those awful dungeons might relate! Here political crimes were avenged with all the cruelty of Siberian exile. Here prisoners wore their lives away in black solitude, no ray of light penetrating their darkness.

The story is told that one poor wretch was eaten alive by gigantic rats, and they have a ghastly reproduction of it in wax, which makes you creepy for a week after you have seen it. Nowhere in all Europe did I see a place which impressed its wonder and its history of horror upon me as did the cathedral dungeon of Mont St. Michel. Its situation was so impregnable, its capacity so vast, its silence and isolation from the outer world so absolute.

All Russia does not boast a situation so replete with possible and probable misery and anguish such as were suggested to my mind here.

But the wonder and charm of the compact little town which clings like a limpet to its base are more than can be expressed on the written page. It is like climbing the uneven stairs of some vast and roofless ancient palace, upon each floor of which dwell families who have come in and roofed over the suites of rooms and made houses out of them. The stairs lead you, not from floor to floor, but from bakery to carpenter-shop, from the blacksmith’s to the telegraph-office.

The streets are paved with large cobblestones, to prevent cart-wheels from slipping, and are so narrow that I often had to stand up at afternoon tea with my cup in one hand and my chair in the other, to let a straining, toiling little donkey pass me, gallantly hauling his load of fagots up an incline of forty-five degrees.

The famous inn here is kept by Madame Poularde, who can cook so marvellously that she is one of the wonders of Normandy. Her kitchen faces the main street; you simply step over the threshold as you hear the beating of eggs, and there, over an immense open fire, which roars gloriously up the chimney, are the fowls twirling on their strings and dripping deliciously into the pans which sizzle complainingly on the coals beneath.

Presently the roaring ceases, the fresh coals are flattened down, and into a skillet, with a handle five feet long, is dropped the butter, which melts almost instantly. A fat little red-faced boy pushes the skillet back and forth to keep the butter from burning. The frantic beating of eggs comes nearer and nearer. The shrill voice of Madame Poularde screams voluble French at her assistants. She boxes somebody’s ears, snatches the eggs, gives them one final puffy beating, which causes them to foam up and overflow, and at that exciting moment out they bubble into the smoking skillet, the handle of which she seizes at the identical moment that she lets go of the empty bowl with one hand and pushes the red-faced boy over backward with the other. It is legerdemain! But then, _how_ she manages that skillet! How her red cheeks flush, her black eyes sparkle, and her plump hands guide that ship of state!

We are all so excited that we get horribly in her way and almost fall into the fire in our anxiety. She stirs and coaxes and coquettes with the lovely foamy mass until it becomes as light as the yellow down on a fledgling’s wings. She calls it an omelette, but she is scrambling those eggs! Then when it is almost done she screams at us to take our places. The red-faced boy rings a huge bell, and we all tumble madly up the narrow stairs to the dining-room, where a score of assorted tourists are seated. _They_ get that first omelette because they behaved better than we did, and were more orderly. There are half a dozen little maids who attend us. They give us bread and bring our wine and get our plates all ready, for, behold, we can hear below the beating of the eggs and the sizzling of the butter, and presently Madame Poularde’s scream and slap, and we know that our omelette is on the way!

There were scores of bridal parties there when we were, for Mont St. Michel seems to be the Niagara of France, and really one could hardly imagine a more charming place for a honeymoon. Indeed, for a newly married couple, for boy and girl, for spinsters and bachelors, ay, even for Darby and Joan, Mont St. Michel has attractions. All sorts and conditions of men here find the most romantic and interesting spot to be found in the whole of France.

While here we got telegrams telling us of the assembling of our friends at a house-party at a chateau in the south of France which once had belonged to Charles VII. So without waiting for anything more we wired a joyful acceptance and set out. We did, however, stop over a few hours at Blois, in order to see the chateau there. We really did Blois in a spirit of Baedeker, for we were crazy to see Velor, in order not to miss an inch of the good times which we knew would riot there. But virtue was its own reward, for as we were looking into the depths of the first real oubliette which I ever had seen, and I was just shivering with the vision of that fiendish Catharine de’ Medici who used to drop people into these holes every morning before breakfast, just as an appetizer, we heard a most blood-curdling shriek, and there stood that wretched Jimmie watching us from an open door, waving his Baedeker at us, with Mrs. Jimmie’s lovely Madonna smile seen over his shoulder.

No one who has not felt the awful pangs of homesickness abroad has any idea of the joy with which one greets intimate friends in Europe. I believe that travel in Europe has done more toward the riveting of lukewarm American friendships than any other thing in the world.

The Jimmies have often appeared upon my pathway like angels of light, and at Blois we simply loved them, for Blois is not only gloomy, but it has a most ghastly history. The murder of the Duc de Guise and his brother, by order of King Henry III., took place here. They show one the rooms where the murder was committed, the door through which the murderer entered, and the private _cabinet de travail_ where the king waited for the news.

Here, also, Margaret of Valois married Henry of Navarre, and Charles, Duc d’Alencon, married Margaret of Anjou. But one hardly ever thinks of the weddings which occurred here for the horrors which overshadow them. How fitting that Marie de’ Medici should have been imprisoned here, and my ancient enemy, Catharine, that queen-mother who perched her children on thrones as carelessly and as easily as did Napoleon and Queen Louise of Denmark–that Catharine should have died here, “unregretted and unlamented,” was too lovely!

Then we left the magnificent old castle and took the train for Port-Boulet, where the Marquise met us with her little private omnibus, holding eight, drawn by handsome American horses. They were new horses and young, and the Marquise said that Charles found them quite unmanageable. Jimmie watched him drive them around a moment or two before they could be made to stand, then he broke out laughing. The Marquise was so disgusted at the way they see-sawed that she said she was going to sell them.

“Sell them!” cried Jimmie. “Why, all in the world that’s the matter with those poor brutes is that they don’t speak French! Let _me_ drive them!”

So the Marquise saved Charles’s vanity by saying that monsieur wished to try the new horses. Jimmie climbed upon the box, and gathered up the reins, saying, “So, old boy, you don’t like the dratted language any better than I do. Steady now, boy! _Giddap_!” Whereat the pretty creatures pricked up their ears, pranced a little, then sprang into their collars, and we were off along the lovely river road at a spanking pace and with as smooth and even a gait as the most experienced roadsters.

We could hear Charles’s polite compliments to Jimmie on his driving, and Jimmie’s awful French, as he assured Charles that the horses were all right, “_tres gentils_” and “_tres jolis_.” “_Ne dites jamais ‘doucement’ aux chevaux americains. Dites ‘whoa,’ et ils arreteront, et quand vous dites ‘Giddap,’ ils marcheront bien. Savez?_” At which Charles obediently practised “Whoa!” and “Giddap!” while we felt ourselves pulled up and started off, as the object-lesson demanded, but amid shrieks of laughter which quite upset Charles’s dignity.

Finally, we whirled in across the moat and under the great gate to the chateau, and found ourselves in the billiard-room of Velor, with a big open fire, in front of which lay a pile of dogs and around which we all gathered shiveringly, for the day was chilly.

That charming billiard-room at Velor! It is not so grand as the rest of the chateau, but everybody loves it best of all. It is on the ground floor, and it has a writing-desk and two or three little work-tables and several sofas and heaps of easy-chairs, and here everybody came to read or write or sew or play billiards. And as to afternoon tea! Not one of us could have been hired to drink it in the salons up-stairs. In fact, so many of us insisted upon being in the billiard-room that there never was room for a free play of one’s cue, for somebody was always in the way, and it was rather discouraging to hear a woman doing embroidery say, “Don’t hit this ball. Take some other stroke, can’t you? Your cue will strike me in the eye.”

Dunham, the eighteen-year-old son of the Marquise, was teaching me billiards, but his manners were so beautiful that he always pretended that to stick to one’s own ball was a mere arbitrary rule of the game, so he permitted me to play with either ball, which made it easiest for me, or which caused least discomfort to those sitting uncomfortably near the table. A dear boy, that Dunham! He had but one fault, and that was that he _would_ wear cerise and scarlet cravats, and his hair was red–so uncompromisingly red, of such an obstinate and determined red, that his mother often said, “Come here, Dunham, dear, and light up this corner of the room with your sunny locks. It is too dark to see how to thread my needle!” Such was his amiability that I am sure he enjoyed it, for he always went promptly, and called her “_Mon amour_,” and slyly kissed her when he thought we were not looking.

All our remarks upon his red ties fell upon unheeding ears, until one day I bribed his man to bring me every one of them. These I distributed among the women guests, and when, the next morning, Dunham came in complaining that he couldn’t find any of his red ties, lo! every woman in the room was wearing one; and to our credit be it spoken that he failed to get any of them back, and never, to my knowledge at least, wore a scarlet tie again.

Velor is historic. After it passed out of the hands of Charles VII.–I have slept in his room, but I must say that he was unpleasantly short if that bed fitted him!–it was bought by the old miser Nivelau, whose daughter, Eugenie Belmaison, was the girl Balzac wished to marry. In a rage at being rejected by her father he wrote _Eugenie Grandet_, and several of the articles, such as her work-box, of which Balzac makes mention, are in the possession of the Marquise.

Every available room in the Velor was filled with our party. Each day we drove in the brake to visit some ancient chateau, such as Azay-le-Rideau, Islette, Chinon, or the Abbey of Fontevreault, finding the roads and scenery in Touraine the most delightful one can imagine.

Fontevreault was originally an abbey, and a most powerful one, being presided over by daughters of kings or women of none but the highest rank, and these noble women held the power of life and death over all the country which was fief to Fontevreault.

Velor was once fief to Fontevreault, but the abbey is now turned into a prison.

They took away our cameras before they allowed us to enter, but we saw some of the prisoners, of whom there were one thousand. The real object of our visit, however, was to see the tombs of Henry II. and of my beloved Richard the Lion-hearted, who are both buried at Fontevreault. To go to Fontevreault, we were obliged to cross the river Vienne on the most curious little old ferry, which was only a raft with the edges turned up. Charles drove the brake on to this raft, but we preferred, after one look into the eyes of the American horses, to climb down and trust to our own two feet.

We gave and attended breakfasts with the owners of neighboring chateaux, drove into Saumur to the theatre or to dine with the officers of the regiment stationed there, and had altogether a perfect visit. I have made many visits and have been the guest of many hostesses, most of them charming ones, hence it is no discourtesy to them and but a higher compliment to the Marquise when I assert that she is one of the most perfect hostesses I ever met.

A thorough woman of the world, having been presented at three courts and speaking five languages, yet her heart is as untouched by the taint of worldliness, her nature as unembittered by her sorrows, as if she were a child just opening her eyes to society. One of the cleverest of women, she is both humorous and witty, with a gift of mimicry which would have made her a fortune on the stage.

Her servants idolize her, manage the chateau to suit themselves, which fortunately means to perfection, and look upon her as a beloved child who must be protected from all the minor trials of life. She has rescued the most of them from some sort of discomfort, and their gratitude is boundless. Like the majority of the nobility, the peasants of France are royalists. The middle class, the _bourgeoisie_, are the backbone of the republic.

The servants are stanch Catholics and long for a monarchy again. The Marquise apologized to them for our being heretics, and told them that while we were not Christians (Catholics), yet we tried to be good, and in the main turned out a fair article, but she entreated their clemency and their prayers for her guests. So we had the satisfaction of being ardently prayed for all the time we were there, and of being complimented occasionally by her maid, Marie, an old Normandie peasant seventy years old, for an act on our part now and then which savored of real Christianity. And once when we had private theatricals, and I dressed as a nun, Marie never found out for half the evening that I was not one of the Sisters who frequently came to the chateau, but kept crossing herself whenever she saw me; and when she discovered me she told me, with tears in her eyes, it really was a thousand pities that I would not renounce the world and become a Christian, because I looked so much like a “religieuse.”

We went in oftenest to Chinon–always on market day; some of us on horseback, some on wheels, while the rest drove. Chinon is the fortress chateau where Jeanne d’Arc came to see Charles VII. to try to interest him in her plans. Its ruins stand high up on a bluff overlooking the town, and beneath it in an open square is the very finest and most spirited equestrian statue I ever saw. It is of Jeanne d’Arc, and I only regret that the photograph I took of it is too small to show its fire and spirit and the mad rush of the horse, and the glorious, generous pose of the noble martyr’s outstretched arms, as she seems to be in the act of sacrificing her life to her country. There is the divinest patriotism in every line of it.

We saw it on a beautiful crisp day in November. It was our Thanksgiving day at home. We drove along the lovely river-road from Chinon to Velor, and upon our arrival we discovered that the Marquise had arranged an American Thanksgiving dinner for us, sending even to America for certain delicacies appropriate to the season. It was a most gorgeous Thanksgiving dinner, for, aside from the turkey, lo! there appeared a peacock in all its magnificent plumage, sitting there looking so dressy with all his feathers on that we quite blushed for the state of the turkey.

A month of Paris, and then I long for fresh fields and pastures new. Of course there is nowhere like Paris for clothes or to eat. But when one has got all the clothes one can afford and is no longer hungry, having acquired a chronic indigestion from too intimate a knowledge of Marguery’s and Ledoyen’s, what is there to do but to leave?

Paris is essentially a holiday town, but I get horribly tired of too long a holiday, and after the newness is worn off one discovers that it is the superficiality of it all that palls. The people are superficial; their amusements are feathery–even the beauty of it all is “only skin deep.”

Therefore, after one glimpse of Poland, the pagan in my nature called me to the East, and six months of Paris have only intensified my longing to get away–to get to something solid; to find myself once more with the serious thinkers of the world.

In the mean time Bee has deserted me for the more interesting society of Billy, and now she writes me long letters so filled with his sayings and doings that I must move on or I shall die of homesickness. I have decided on Russia and the Nile, taking intermediate countries by the way. This is entirely Billy’s fault.

When I first decided to go to Russia, I supposed, of course, that I could induce the Jimmies to go with me, but, to my consternation, they revolted, and gently but firmly expressed their determination to go to Egypt by way of Italy. So I have taken a companion, and if all goes well we shall meet the Jimmies on the terrace of Shepheard’s in February.

I packed three trunks in my very best style, only to have Mrs. Jimmie regard my work with a face so full of disapproval that it reminded me of Bee’s. She then proceeded to put “everything any mortal could possibly want” into one trunk, with what seemed to me supernatural skill and common-sense, calmly sending the other two to be stored at Munroe’s. I don’t like to disparage Mrs. Jimmie’s idea of what I need, but it does seem to me that nearly everything I have wanted here in Berlin is “stored at Munroe’s.”

My companion and I, with faultless arithmetic, calculated our expenses and drew out what we considered “plenty of French money to get us to the German frontier.” Then Jimmie took my companion and Mrs. Jimmie took me to the train.

Their cab got to the station first, and when we came up Jimmie was grinning, and my companion looked rather sheepish.

“I didn’t have enough money to pay the extra luggage,” she whispered. “I had to borrow of Mr. Jimmie.”

“That’s just like you,” I said, severely. “Now _I_ drew more than you did.”

Just then Jimmie came up with _my_ little account.

“Forty-nine francs extra luggage,” he announced.

“What?” I gasped, “on that _one_ trunk?” How grateful I was at that moment for the two stored at Munroe’s!

“Oh, Jimmie,” I cried, “I haven’t got _near_ enough! You’ll _have_ to lend me twenty francs!”

My companion smiled in sweet revenge, and has been almost impossible to travel with since then, but we are one in our rage against paying extra luggage. Just think of buying your clothes once and then paying for them over and over again in every foreign country you travel through! Our clothes will be priceless heirlooms by the time we get home. We can never throw them away. They will be too valuable.

The Jimmies have been so kind to us that we nearly choked over leaving them, but we consoled ourselves after the train left, and proceeded to draw the most invidious comparisons between French sleeping-cars and the rolling palaces we are accustomed to at home. I am ashamed to think that I have made unpleasant remarks upon the discomforts of travel in America. Oh, how ungrateful I have been for past mercies!

My companion is very patient, as a rule, but I heard her restlessly tossing around in her berth, and I said, “What’s the matter?”

“Oh, nothing much. But don’t you think they have arranged the knobs in these mattresses in very curious places?”‘

Well, it _was_ a little like sleeping on a wood-pile during a continuous earthquake. But that was nothing compared to the news broken to us about eleven o’clock that our luggage would be examined at the German frontier at five o’clock in the morning. That meant being wakened at half past four. But it was quite unnecessary, for we were not asleep.

It was cold and raining. I got up and dressed for the day. But my companion put her seal-skin on over her dressing-gown, and perched her hat on top of that hair of hers, and looked ready to cope with Diana herself.

“They’ll ruin my things if they unpack them,” I said.

“You just keep still and let me manage things,” she answered. So I did. I made myself as small as possible and watched her. She selected her victim and smiled on him most charmingly. He was tearing open the trunk of a fat American got up in gray flannel and curl-papers. He dropped her tray and hurried up to my companion.

“Have you anything to declare, madam?” he asked.

“Tell him absolutely nothing,” she whispered to me. I obeyed, but he never took his eyes from her. She was tugging at the strap of her trunk in apparently wild eagerness to get it open. She frowned and panted a little to show how hard it was, and he bounded forward to help her. Then she smiled at him, and he blinked his eyes and tucked the strap in and chalked her trunk, with a shrug. He hadn’t opened it. She kept her eye on him and pointed to my trunk, and he chalked that. Then seven pieces of hand luggage, and he chalked them all. Then she smiled on him again, and I thanked him, but he didn’t seem to hear me, and she nodded her thanks and pulled me down a long stone corridor to the dining-room where we could get some coffee.

At the door I looked back. The customs officer was still looking after my companion, but she never even saw it.

The dining-room was full of smoke, but the coffee and my first taste of zwieback were delicious. Then we went out through a narrow doorway to the train, where we were jostled by Frenchmen with their habitual “_Pardon!_” (which partially reconciles you to being walked on), and knocked into by monstrous Germans, who sent us spinning without so much as a look of apology, and both of whom puffed their tobacco smoke directly in our faces. It was still dark and the rain was whimpering down on the car-roof, and, take it all in all, the situation was far from pleasant, but we are hard to depress, and our spirits remain undaunted.

It was so stuffy in our compartment that I stood in the doorway for a few moments near an open window. My companion was lying down in my berth. We still had nineteen hours of travel before us with no prospect of sleep, for sleep in those berths and over such a rough road was absolutely out of the question.

Near me (and spitting in the saddest manner out of the open window) stood the meek little American husband of the gray flannel and curl-papers, whose fury at my companion for her quick work with the customs officer knew no bounds.

The gray flannel had gone to bed again in the compartment next to ours.

The precision of this gentleman’s aim as he expectorated through the open window, and the marvellous rapidity with which he managed his diversion, led me to watch him. He looked tired and cold and ill. It was still dark outside, and the jolting of the train was almost unbearable. He had not once looked at me, but with his gaze still on the darkness he said, slowly,

“They can have the whole blamed country for all of me! _I_ don’t want it.”

It was so exactly the way I felt that even though he said something worse than “blamed,” I gave a shriek of delight, and my companion pounded the pillow in her cooperation of the sentiment.

“You are an American and you are Southern,” I said.

“Yes’m. How did you know?”

“By your accent.”

“Yes’m, I was born in Virginia. I was in the Southern army four years, and I love my country. I hate these blamed foreigners and their blamed churches and their infernal foreign languages. I am over here for my health, my wife says. But I have walked more miles in picture-galleries than I ever marched in the army. I’ve seen more pictures by Raphael than he could have painted if he’d ‘a’ had ten arms and painted a thousand years without stopping to eat or sleep. I’ve seen more ‘old masters,’ as they call ’em, but _I_ call ’em _daubs_, all varnished till they are so slick that a fly would slip on ’em and break his neck. And the stone floors are so cold that I get cold clean up to my knees, and I don’t get warm for a week. Yet I am over here for my health! Then the way they rob you–these blamed French! Lord, if I ever get back to America, where one price includes everything and your hotel bill isn’t sent in on a ladder, and where I can keep warm, won’t I just be _too_ thankful.”

Just then the gray-flannel door banged open and a hand reached out and jerked the poor little old man inside, and we heard him say, “But I was only blaming the French. I ain’t happy over here.” And a sharp voice said, “Well, you’ve said enough. Don’t talk any more at all.” Then she let him out again, but he did not find me in the corridor. He found his open window, and he leaned against our closed door and again aimed at the flying landscape, as he pondered over the disadvantages of Europe.

The sun was just rising over the cathedral as we reached Cologne.

“Let’s get out here and have our breakfast comfortably, see the cathedral, and take the next train to Berlin,” I said to my companion.

She is the courier and I am the banker. She hastily consulted her _indicateur_ and assented. We only had about two seconds in which to decide.

“Let’s throw these bags out of the window,” she said. “I’ve seen other people do it, and the porters catch them.”

“Don’t _throw_ them,” I urged. “You will break my toilet bottles. Poke them out gently.”

She did so, and we hopped off the train just at daybreak, perfectly delighted at doing something we had not planned.

A more lovely sight than the Cologne cathedral, with the rising sun gilding its numerous pinnacles and spires, would be difficult to imagine. The narrow streets were still comparatively dark, and when we arrived we heard the majestic notes of the organ in a Bach fugue, and found ourselves at early mass, with rows of humble worshippers kneeling before the high altar, and the twinkle of many candles in the soft gloom. As we stood and watched and listened, the smell of incense floated down to us, and gradually the first rays of the sun crept downward through the superb colored-glass windows and stained the marble statues in their niches into gorgeous hues of purple and scarlet and amber.

And as the priests intoned and the fresh young voices of an invisible choir floated out and the magnificent rumble of the organ shook the very foundation of the cathedral, we forgot that we were there to visit a sight of Cologne, we forgot our night of discomfort, we forgot everything but the spirit of worship, and we came away without speaking.

* * * * *

From Cologne to Dresden is stupid. We went through a country punctuated with myriads of tall chimneys of factories, which reminded us why so many things in England and America are stamped “Made in Germany.”

We arrived at Dresden at five o’clock, and decided to stop there and go to the opera that night. The opera begins in Dresden at seven o’clock and closes at ten. The best seats are absurdly cheap, and whole families, whole schools, whole communities, I should say, were there together. I never saw so many children at an opera in my life. Coming straight from Paris, from the theatrical, vivacious, enthusiastic French audiences, with their abominable _claqueurs_, this first German audience seemed serious, thoughtful, appreciative, but unenthusiastic. They use more judgment about applause than the French. They never interrupt a scene or even a musical phrase with misplaced applause because the soprano has executed a flamboyant cadenza or the tenor has reached a higher note than usual. Their appreciation is slow but hearty and always worthily disposed. The French are given to exaggerating an emotion and to applauding an eccentricity. Even their subtlety is overdone.

The German drama is much cleaner than the French, the family tie is made more of, sentiment is encouraged instead of being ridiculed, as it too often is in America; but the German point of view of Americans is quite as much distorted as the French. That statement is severe, but true. For instance, it would be utterly impossible for the American girl to be more exquisitely misunderstood than by French and German men.

Berlin is so full of electric cars that it seemed much more familiar at first sight than Paris. It is a lovely city, although we ought to have seen it before Paris in order fully to appreciate it. Its Brandenburg Gate is most impressive, and I wanted to make some demonstration every time we drove under it and realized that the statue above it has been returned. Their statue of Victory in the Thiergarten is so hideous, however, that I was reminded of General Sherman’s remark when he saw the Pension Office in Washington, “And they tell me the —- thing is fireproof!”

The streets are filled with beautiful things, mostly German officers. The only trouble is that they themselves seem to know it only too well, and as they will not give us any of the sidewalk, we are obliged to admire them from the gutters. The only way you can keep Germans from knocking you into the middle of the street is to walk sideways and pretend you are examining the shop windows.

In the eyes of men, women are of little account in England compared to the way we are treated in America; of less in France; and of still less in Germany. We have not got to Russia yet.

Paris seems a city of leisure, Berlin a city of war. The streets of Paris are quite as full of soldiers as Berlin, but French soldiers look to me like mechanical toys. I have sent Billy a box of them for Christmas–of mechanical soldiers, I mean. The chief difference I noticed was that Billy’s were smaller than the live ones, although French soldiers are small enough. That portion of the French army which I have seen–at Longchamps, Chalons-sur-Marne, Saumur, and at various other places–are, as a rule, undersized, badly dressed, and badly groomed. They do not look neat, nor even clean, if you want the truth. The uniform is very ugly, and was evidently designed for men thirteen feet high; so that on those comical little toy Frenchmen it is grotesque in the extreme.

Their trousers are always much too long, and so ample in width that they seem to need only a belt at the ankle to turn them into perfect Russian blouses. But English and German soldiers not only appear, but _are_, in perfect condition, as though they could go to war at a moment’s notice, and would be glad of the chance.

I am keeping my eyes open to see how America bears comparison with other nations in all particulars. In point of appearance the English army stands first, the German second, the American third, and the French fourth. I put the American third only because our uniforms are less impressive. In everything else, except in numbers, they might easily stand first. But uniforms and gold lace, and bright scarlet and waving plumes, make a vast difference in appearance, and every country in the world recognizes this, except America. I wish that everybody in the United States who boasts of democracy and Jeffersonian simplicity could share my dissatisfaction in seeing our ambassadors at Court balls and diplomatic receptions in deacons’ suits of modest black, without even a medal or decoration of any kind, except perhaps that gorgeous and overpowering insignia known as the Loyal Legion button, while every little twopenny kingdom of a mile square sends a representative in a uniform as brilliant as a peony and stiff with gold embroidery.

No matter how magnificent a man, personally, our ambassador may be, no matter how valuable his public services, no matter how unimpeachable his private character, I wish you could see how small and miserable and mean is the appearance he presents at Court functions, where every man there, except the representative of seventy millions of people, is in some sort of uniform. If it really were Thomas Jefferson whose administration inaugurated the disgusting simplicity which goes by his name, I wish the words had stuck in his throat and strangled him. “Jeffersonian simplicity!” How I despise it! Thomas Jefferson, I believe, was the first Populist. We had had gentlemen for Presidents before him, but he was the first one who rooted for votes with the common herd by catering to the gutter instead of to the skyline, and the tail end of his policy is to be seen in the mortifying appearance of our highest officials and representatives. _Hinc illae lachrymae_!

I looked at the servant who announced our names in Paris at General Porter’s first official reception, and even he was much more gorgeous in dress than the master of the house, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary representing seventy millions of people! Not even in his uniform of a general! The only man in the room in plain black. The United States ought to treat her representatives better. When Mr. White at Berlin was received by the Emperor, he, too, was the only man in plain black.

No wonder we are taken no account of socially when we don’t even give our ambassador a house, as all the other countries do, and when his salary is so inadequate. Every other ambassador except the American has a furnished house given him, and a salary sufficient to entertain as becomes the representative of a great country. All except _ours_! Yet none of them is obliged to entertain as continuously as our ambassador, because _only_ Americans travel unremittingly, and _only_ Americans expect their ambassador to be their host.

“O wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!”

Of course I notice such things immensely more in Berlin than in Paris, because the glory of a Court is much more than the twinkle of a republic.

I have worked myself into such a towering rage over this subject that there is no getting down to earth gracefully or gradually. I have not polished off the matter by any manner of means. I have only just started in, but a row of stars will cool me off.

* * * * *

Before I came to Berlin I heard so much about Unter den Linden, that magnificent street of the city, that I could scarcely wait to get to it. I pictured it lined on both sides with magnificent linden-trees, gigantic, imposing, impressive. I had had no intimate acquaintance with linden-trees–and I wouldn’t know one now if I should see it–but I had an idea from the name–linden, linden–that it was grand and waving; not so grand as an oak nor so waving as a willow, but a cross between the two. I knew that I should see these great monarchs making a giant arch over this broad avenue and mingling their tossing branches overhead.

What I found when I arrived was a broad, handsome street. But those lindens! They are consumptive, stunted little saplings without sufficient energy to grow into real trees. They are set so far apart that you have time to forget one before you come to another, and as to their appearance–we have some just like them in Chicago where there is a leak in the gas-pipes near their roots.

On the day before Christmas we felt very low in our minds. We had the doleful prospect ahead of us of eating Christmas dinner alone in a strange country, and in a hotel at that, so we started out shopping. Not that we needed a thing, but it is our rule, “When you have the blues, go shopping.” It always cures you to spend money.

Berlin shop-windows are much more fascinating even than those of Paris, because in Berlin there are so many more things that you can afford to buy that Paris seems expensive in comparison. We became so much interested in the Christmas display that we did not notice the flight of time. When we had bought several heavy things to weigh our trunks down a little more and to pay extra luggage on, I happened to glance at the sun, and it was just above the horizon. It looked to be about four o’clock in the afternoon, and we had had nothing to eat since nine o’clock, and even then only a cup of coffee. I felt myself suddenly grow faint and weak. “Heavens!” I said, “see what time it is! We have shopped all day and we have forgotten to get our luncheon.”

My companion glanced at her watch.

“It’s only half past eleven o’clock by my watch. I couldn’t have wound it last night. No, it is going.”

“Perhaps the hands stick. They do on mine. Whenever I wind it, I have to hit it with the hair-brush to start it; and even then it loses time every day.”

“Let’s take them both to a jeweller,” she said. “We can’t travel with watches which act this way.”

So we left them to be repaired, and as we came out, I said, “It will take us half an hour to get back to the hotel. Don’t you think we ought to go in somewhere and get just a little something to sustain us?”

“Of course we ought,” she said, in a weak voice. So we went in and got a light luncheon. Then we went back to the hotel, intending to lie down and rest after such an arduous day.

“We must not do this again,” I said, firmly. “Mamma told me particularly not to overdo.”

My companion did not answer. She was looking at the clock. It was just noon.

“Why, _that_ clock has stopped too,” she said.

But as we looked into the reading-room _that_ clock struck twelve. Then it dawned on me, and I dropped into a chair and nearly had hysterics.

“It’s because we are so far _north_!” I cried. “Our watches were all right and the sun’s all right. That is as high as it can get!”

She was too much astonished to laugh.

“And you had to go in and get luncheon because you felt so faint,” she said, in a tone of gentle sarcasm.

“Well, you confessed to a fearful sense of goneness yourself.”

“Don’t tell anybody,” she said.

“I should think not!” I retorted, with dignity. “I hope I have _some_ pride.”

“Have you presented your letter to the ambassador?” she asked.

“Yes, but it’s so near Christmas that I suppose he won’t bother about two waifs like us until after it’s over.”

“My! but you _are_ blue,” she said. “I never heard you refer to yourself as a waif before.”

“I am a worm of the dust. I wish there wasn’t such a thing as Christmas! I wonder what Billy will say when he sees his tree.”

“You might cable and find out,” she said. “It only costs about three marks a word. ‘What did Billy say when he saw his tree?’–nine words–it would cost you about eight dollars, without counting the address.”

Dead silence. I didn’t think she was at all funny.

“Don’t you think we ought to have champagne to-morrow?” she asked.

“What for? I hate the stuff. It makes me ill. Do _you_ want it?”

“No, only I thought that, being Christmas, and very expensive, perhaps it would do you good to spend–“

A knock on the door made us both jump.

“His Excellency the Ambassador of the United States to see the American ladies!”

It was, indeed, Mr. White and Mrs. White, and Lieutenant Allen, the Military Attache!

“Oh, those blessed angels!” I cried, buckling my belt and dashing for the wash-stand, thereby knocking the comb and hand-glass from the grasp of my companion.

They had come within an hour of the presentation of my letter, and they brought with them an invitation from Mrs. Allen for us to join them at Christmas dinner the next day, as Mrs. White said they could not bear to think of our dining alone.

I had many beautiful things done for me during my thirty thousand miles travel in Europe, but nothing stands out in my mind with more distinctness than the affectionate welcome I received into the homes of our representatives in Berlin. And, in passing, let me say this, I am distinctly proud of them, one and all. I say this because one hears many humiliating anecdotes of the mistakes made by the men and women sent to foreign Courts, appointed because they had earned some recognition for political services. Those of us who have strong national pride and a sense of the eternal fitness of things, are obliged to hear such things in shamed silence, and offer no retort, for there can be no possible excuse for mortifying lapses of etiquette. And these things will continue until our government establishes a school of diplomacy and makes a diplomatic career possible to a man.

As long as it is possible for an ex-coroner or sheriff to be appointed to a secretaryship of a foreign legation–a man who does not speak the language and whose wife understands better how to cope with croup and measles than with wives of foreign diplomats who have been properly trained for this vocation, just so long shall we be obliged to bear the ridicule heaped upon us over here, which our government never hears, and wouldn’t care if it did!

Imagine the relief with which I met our Berlin representatives! At the end of four years there will be no sly anecdotes whispered behind fans at _their_ expense, for they have all held the same office before and are well equipped by training, education, and native tact to bear themselves with a proud front at one of the most difficult Courts of Europe. I look back upon that little group of Americans with feelings of unmixed pride.

Mr. White invited us to go with him that afternoon to see the tombs of the kings at Charlottenburg; and when his gorgeous-liveried footman came to announce his presence, the hotel proprietor and about forty of his menials nearly crawled on their hands and knees before us, so great is their deference to pomp and power.

I wish to associate Berlin with this beautiful mausoleum. It is circular in shape, and the light falls from above through lovely colored-glass windows upon those recumbent marble statues. The dignity, the still, solemn beauty of those pale figures lying there in their eternal repose, fill the soul with a sense of the great majesty of death.

When we got back to the hotel we found that the same good fortune which had attended us so far had ordained that the American mail should arrive that day, and behold! there were all our Christmas letters timed as accurately as if they had only gone from Chicago to New York.

Christmas letters! How they go to the heart when one is five thousand miles away! How we tore up to our rooms, and oh! how long it seemed to get the doors unlocked and the electric light turned up, and to plant ourselves in the middle of the bed to read and laugh and cry and interrupt each other, and to read out paragraphs of Billy’s funny baby-talk!

While we were still discussing them, the proprietor came up to announce to us that there was to be a Christmas Eve entertainment in the main dining-room that evening, and would the American ladies do him the honor to come down? The American ladies would.

When we went down we found that the enormous dining-room was packed with people, all standing around a table which ran around two sides of the room. A row of Christmas trees, covered with cotton to represent snow, occupied the middle of the room, and at one end was a space reserved for the lady guests, and in each chair was a handsome bouquet of violets and lilies-of-the-valley.

This entertainment was for the servants of the hotel, of whom there were three hundred and fifty.

First they sang a Lutheran hymn, very slowly, as if it were a dirge. Then there was a short sermon. Then another hymn. Then the manager made a little speech and called, for three cheers for the proprietor, and they gave them with a fervor that nearly split the ears of the groundlings.

Then a signal was given, and in less than one minute three hundred and fifty paper bags were produced, and three hundred and fifty plates full of oranges, apples, buns, and sweetened breads were emptied into them. The table looked as if a plague of grasshoppers had swept over it.

Then each servant presented a number and received a present from the tree, and that ended the festivity. But so typical of the fatherland, so paternal, so like one great family!

Participating in this simple festival brought a little of the Christmas feeling home to us and made us almost happy. We knew that our American parcels would not be delivered until the next day, so we had but just time to reread our precious letters when the clock struck twelve, and with much solemnity my companion and I presented each other with our modest Christmas present–which each had announced that she wanted and had helped to select! But, then, who would not rather select one’s own Christmas presents, and so be sure of getting things that one wants?

On Christmas morning registered packages began to arrive for both of us. The first ten presents to arrive for my companion were pocket-handkerchiefs. My first ten were all books. Evidently the dear family had thought that American books would be most acceptable over here, and I could see, with a feeling that warmed my heart, how carefully they had consulted my taste, and had tried to remember to send those I wanted. But I am of a frugal mind, and thoughts of the extra luggage to be paid on bound books would intrude themselves. However, I made no remark over the first ten, but before the day was over I had received twenty-two books and one pen-wiper, and my vocabulary was exhausted. My companion continued to receive handkerchiefs until the room was full of them. Take it all together, there was a good deal of sameness about our presents, but they have been useful as dinner anecdotes ever since. Now that I have sent all mine to be stored at Munroe’s, together with all my other necessities, I feel lighter and more buoyant both in mind and trunk.

A Christmas dinner in a foreign land, in the midst of the diplomatic corps, is the most undiplomatic thing in the world, for that is the one time when you can cease to be diplomatic and dare to criticise the government and make personal remarks to your heart’s content.

It was a beautiful dinner, and after it was over we were all invited to the children’s entertainment at Mrs. Squiers’s. She had gathered about fifty of the American colony for Christmas carols and a tree. Immediately after the ambassador arrived the children marched in and recited in chorus the verses about the birth of Christ, beginning, “Now in the days of Herod the King.” Then they sang their carols, and then “Stille Nacht,” and they sang them beautifully, in their sweet, childish voices.

After these exercises the doors were thrown open, and the most beautiful Christmas-tree I ever beheld burst upon the view of those children, who nearly went wild with delight.

After everybody had gone home except “the diplomatic family,” which for the time being included us, we picnicked on the remains of the Christmas turkey for supper, and there was as little ceremony about it as if it had been at an army post on the frontier. We had a beautiful time, and everybody seemed to like everybody very much and to be excellent friends.

Then Mr. and Mrs. White escorted us back to our hotel, which wasn’t at all necessary, but which illustrates the way in which they treated us all the time we were there.

This ended a truly beautiful Christmas, for, aside from being unexpected and in striking contrast to the forlornness we had anticipated, we had been taken into the families of beautiful people, whose home life was an honor and an inspiration to share.

On New Year’s day we started early and went to Potsdam to visit the palace of Sans Souci.

A most curious and interesting little old man who had been a guide there for thirty years showed us through the grounds, where the King’s greyhounds are buried, and where he pleaded to be buried with them. The guide had no idea that he possessed a certain dramatic genius for pathos, for, parrot-like, he was repeating the story he had told perhaps a thousand times before. But when he showed us the graves of the greyhounds which ate the poisoned food which had been prepared for the King, he said:

“And they lie here. Not there with the other dogs, the favorites of the King, but here, alone, disgraced, without even a headstone. Without even their names, although they saved the great King from death and gave their lives for his. Yet they lie here, and the others lie there. It is the way of the world, ladies.”

Then he took us to the top of the terrace facing the palace, and, pointing to the entrance, he said:

“In the left wing were the chambers of the King’s guests. In the right wing were his own. Therefore, he placed a comma between those two words ‘Sans’ and ‘Souci,’ to indicate that those at the left were ‘without,’ while with himself was–‘Care.'”

While we were there the Emperor drove by and spoke to our cabman, saying, “How is business?” Seeing how much pleasure it gave the poor fellow to repeat it, we kept asking him to tell vis what the Kaiser said to him.

First my companion would say:

“When was it and what happened?”

And when he had quite finished, I would say:

“It wasn’t the Emperor himself, was it? It must have been the coachman who spoke to you.”

“No, not so, ladies. It was the great Kaiser himself. He said to me–” And then we would get the whole thing over again. It was charming to see his pleasure.

When we returned home we entered the hotel between rows of palms, and we dropped money into each of them. It seemed to me that fifty servants were between me and the elevators. However, it was New Year’s, and we tried not to be bored by it.

People talk so much of the expense of foreign travel, but to my mind the greatest expenditures are in paying for extra luggage and in fees. Otherwise, I fancy that travel is much the same if one travels luxuriously, and that in the long run things would be about equal. The great difference is that in America all travel luxuries are given to you for the price of your ticket, and here you pay for each separate necessity, to say nothing of luxury, and your ticket only permits you to breathe. But the annoyance of this continuous habit of feeing makes life a burden. One pays for everything. It is the custom of the country, and no matter if you arrange to have “service included,” it is in the air, in the eyes of the servants, in the whole mental atmosphere, and you fee, you fee, you fee until you are nearly dead from the bother of it. In Germany they raise their hats and rise to their feet every time you pass, even if you pass every seven minutes, and when the time comes for you to go, you have to pay for the wear and tear of these hats.

In Paris, at the theatre, you fee the woman who shows you to your seat, you fee the woman who opens the door and the woman who takes your wraps. One night in midsummer we stepped across from the Grand Hotel to the opera without even a scarf for a wrap, and the woman was so disappointed that we were handed from one attendant to another some half dozen times as “three ladies without wraps.” And the next one would look us over from head to foot and repeat the words, “Three ladies without wraps,” until we laughed in their faces.

French servants are the cleverest in the world if you want versatility, but they are absolutely shameless in their greed, and look at the size of your coin before they thank you. In fact, the words in which they thank you indicate whether your fee was not enough, only modest, or handsome.

“It is not too much, madam,” or “thanks, madam,” or “I thank you a thousand times” show your status in their estimation.

If you are an American they reserve the right to rob you by the impudence of their demands, until rather than have a scene, you give them all they ask. I have followed in the footsteps of a French woman and given exactly what she did, and had my money flung in derision upon the pavement.

German servants seem to have more self-respect, for while they expect it quite as much, they smile and thank you and never look at the coin before your eyes. Perhaps they know from the feeling of it, but even if you place it upon the table behind them they thank you and never look at it or take it until you turn away.

However, you fee unmercifully here too. You fee the man at the bank who cashes your checks, you fee the street-car conductor who takes your fare, you fee every uniformed hireling of the government, whether he has done anything for you or not.

The only persons whom I have neglected to fee so far are the ambassadors.

But then, they do not wear uniforms!

IV

ON BOARD THE YACHT “HELA”

I am just able to sit up, and I couldn’t think of a thing I wanted to eat if I thought a week. I came on this yachting trip because my friends begged me to. They said it would be an experience for me. It has been.

The _Hela_ started out with a party of ten on board, who were on pleasure bent. We have come up the English Channel from Dinard to Ostend, but before we had been out an hour we struck a gale, to which veterans on seasickness will refer for many a long day as “that fearful time on the Channel.”

On the whole, I don’t know but that I myself might be considered a veteran on seasickness. I have averaged crossing the Channel once a month ever since I’ve been over here. I have got into the habit of crossing the Channel, and I can’t seem to stop. It always appears that I am in the wrong place for whatever is going on, for just as sure as I go to London somebody sends for me to come to Paris, and I rush for the Channel, and I have no sooner unpacked my trunks in Paris, and bargained that service and electric lights shall be included, than somebody discovers that I am imperatively needed in England, and I make for the Channel again. The Channel is like Jordan. It always rolls between.

But even in crossing the Channel there is everything in knowing how. I have discarded the private state-room. It is too expensive, and I am not a bit less uncomfortable than when occupying six feet of the settee in the ladies’ cabin, with my feet in the flowers of another woman’s hat. In fact, I prefer the latter. The other woman is always too ill to protest or to move. I have now, by long and patient practice, proved to my own satisfaction what serves me best in case of seasickness. I will not stay on deck. I will not eat or drink anything to cure it. I will not take anything to prevent it. I will not sit up, and I will not keep my hat on. When I go on board of a Channel steamer my first act is to shake hands with my friends and to go below. There I present the stewardess with a modest testimonial of my regard. I also give her my ticket. Then I select the most desirable portion of the settee, near a port-hole, from which I can get fresh air. I take off my hat and lie down. The steamer may not start for an hour. No matter. There I am, and there I stay. The Channel may be as smooth as glass, but I travel better flat. Like manuscript, I am not to be rolled. Sometimes I am not ill at all, but I freely confess that those times are infrequent and disappointing.

Now, of course, this is always to be expected in crossing the Channel, but my friends said in going up the Channel we would not get those choppy waves, and that I would find that the _Hela_ swam like a duck.

In analyzing that statement since, with a view to classifying it as truth or otherwise, I have studied my recollections of ducks, and I have come to the conclusion that in a rough sea a duck has every right to be seasick, for she wobbles like everything else that floats. For real comfort, give me something that’s anchored. Nevertheless, I was persuaded to join the party.

Everybody came down at Dinard to see us off, and quite a number even went over to St. Malo with us in the electric launch, for the _Hela_ drew too much water to enter the harbor at Dinard at low tide.

We were a merry party for the first hour on board the _Hela_–until we struck the gale. It has seemed to me since that our evil genius was hovering over us from the first, and simply waited until it would be out of the question to turn back before emptying the vials of her wrath on our devoted heads. It did not rain. The sun kept a malevolent eye upon us all the time. It simply blew just one straight, unrelenting, unswerving gale. And it came so suddenly. We were all sitting on deck as happy as angels, when, without a word of warning, the _Hela_ simply turned over on her side and threw us all out of our chairs. I caught at a mast as I went by and clung like a limpet. There was tar on the mast. It isn’t there any more. It is on the front of my new white serge yachting dress. Jimmie coasted across the deck, and landed on his hands and knees against the gunwale. If he had persisted in standing up he would have gone overboard. The women all shrieked and remained in a tangled heap of chairs, and rugs, and petticoats, waiting for the yacht to right herself, and for the men to come and pick them up. But the yacht showed no intention of righting herself. She continued to careen in the position of a cab going round Piccadilly Circus on one wheel. The sailors were all running around like ants on an ant-hill, and the captain was shouting orders, and even lending a hand with the ropes himself. I don’t know the nautical terms, but they were taking down the middle sail–the mainsail, that’s it. It did not look dangerous, because the sun kept shining, and I never thought of being frightened. I just clung to the mast, watching the other people right themselves, and laughing, when suddenly everything ceased to be funny. The decks of the _Hela_ took on a wavy motion, and I blinked my eyes in order to see better, for everything was getting very indistinct, and there were green spots on the sun. Suddenly I realized that I was a long way from home, and that I was even a long way from my state-room. I only had just about sense enough left to remember that the mast was my very best friend and that I must cling there.

After that, I remember that somebody came up behind me and pried my hands loose from the mast.

The doctor’s voice said, “Can you walk?”

I smiled feebly and said, “I used to know how.” But evidently my efforts were not highly successful, for he picked me up, white serge, tar, green spots on the sun, and all, and carried me below, a limp and humiliated bit of humanity.

Mrs. Jimmie and Commodore Strossi followed with more anxiety than the occasion warranted.

Then Mrs. Jimmie sent the men away, and I felt pillows under my head, and camphor under my nose, and hot-water bags about me; and I must have gone to sleep or died, or something, for I don’t remember anything more until the next day.

They were very nice to me, for I was such a cheerful invalid. It seemed to surprise them that I could even pretend to be happy. I knew that it must be an uncommon gale from the way Commodore Strossi studied the charts, and because even his wife, for whom the yacht was named, was ill, and she had spent half her life on the sea. The poor little French cabin-boy was ill, too, and went around, with a Nile-green countenance, waiting on people, before he was obliged to retire from active service.

The pitching of the yacht was something so terrible that it got to be hysterically funny. It couldn’t seem dangerous with the sun streaming down the companion-way and past my state-room windows. About five o’clock on the second day they began to tack, and then I heard shrieks of laughter and the crash of china, and groans from the saloon settee, where young Bashforth was lying ghastly ill.

At the first lurch my trunk tipped over, and all the bottles on the wash-stand bounded across to the bed, and most of them struck me on the head. It frightened me so that I shrieked, and Jimmie came running down to see if I was killed.

As I raised my head I saw his horrified gaze fairly riveted to my face, and I felt something softly trickling down. I touched it, and then looked at my hand and discovered that it was wet and red.

“Good heavens, your face is all cut open,” gasped Jimmie, in a voice that revealed his terror.

Mrs. Jimmie was just behind him, and I saw her turn pale. In a flash I saw myself disfigured for life, and probably having to be sewed up. The pain in my face became excruciating, and I began to think yachting rather serious business.

“Run for the doctor, Jimmie,” said his wife. Jimmie obediently ran.

“Does it hurt very much, dear?” she said, sitting on the edge of the bed.

“Awfully,” I murmured.

The doctor came, followed by Francois, with a basin of hot water and sponges, and a nasty-looking little case of instruments. Mrs. Jimmie held my hand. They turned on the electric lights and opened the windows. Jimmie had my salts. The doctor carefully wet a sponge and tenderly bathed my cheek, and I held my breath ready to shriek if he hurt me. Commodore Strossi stood at the door with an anxious face. Suddenly the doctor reached for a broken bottle half hidden under my pillow.

“Oh, what is it, doctor?” asked Mrs. Jimmie. “What makes you look so queer?”

“This is iodine on her face. Her bottle has emptied itself. That is all.”

We gazed at each other for a moment or two, then I nearly went into hysterics. Jimmie’s face was a study.

“You said it was blood, Jimmie,” I said.

“Well, you said it hurt,” he retorted.

“Well, it did. When you said I was covered with blood it hurt awfully.”

The doctor went out much chagrined that he had not been called upon to sew up a wound. I had a relapse, brought on by young Bashforth’s jeering remarks as he frantically clung to the handles of the locker which formed the back of the settee where he lay prostrate.

I was too utterly done up to reply, for two days’ violent seasickness rather takes the mental ginger out of one’s make-up. But Fate avenged me in this wise. The door of my state-room opened into the dining-room, and my bed faced the door. Opposite to me was the settee on which Bashforth was coiled, and back of him was the locker for the tinned mushrooms, sardines, lobster, shrimp, caviar, deviled ham, and all the things which well people can eat. This locker had brass handles let into the mahogany, and to these handles the poor fellow clung when the yacht lurched.

His cruel words of derision had hardly left his pale lips before they tacked again. He was not holding on, but he hastily snatched at the handles. He was too late, however, for he was tossed from the settee to the legs of the dining-room table (which, fortunately, were anchored) without touching the floor at all. He described a perfect parabola. It was just the way I should have tossed him had I been Destiny. He gripped the table-legs like a vise, coiling himself around them like a poor navy-blue python with a green face. He thought the worst was over, but in his last clutch at the locker he had accidentally opened it, and at the next lurch of the yacht all the cans bounded out and battered his unprotected back like a shower of grape-shot. The yacht lurched again and the cans rolled back. She pitched forward, and again the mushrooms and deviled ham aimed for him. The noise brought everybody, and at first nobody tried to help him. They just couldn’t see because of the tears in their eyes from laughing. As for me, I managed to crawl to the foot of the bed and cling to a post, so weak I couldn’t wipe the tears away, but laying up an amount of enjoyment which will enrich my old age.

Finally, Jimmie got sorry for him, and went and tried to pick him up. But he was laughing so, he dropped him.

“Oh, Jimmie,” I pleaded. “Don’t drop anybody who is seasick. Drop well people if you must. But put him on the settee carefully.”

“I’ll put him there,” said Jimmie, wiping his eyes on his coat-sleeve. “But I don’t say I’ll do it the first time I try. I’ll get him there by dinner-time–I hope.”

It was dangerous to ridicule anybody in that gale, for the doctor in the companion-way was leaning in at my window and laughing in his big English voice, when the _Hela_ lurched and pitched him half-way into my state-room. There he balanced with his hands on my trunk.

He was rather a tight fit, which interested Jimmie more than young Bashforth, so he left the boy and came around and pried the doctor back into the companion-way.

The _Hela_ was a fickle jade, for no sooner would she shake us up in such an alarming manner than she would seem to regret her violence, and would skim like a bird for an hour or so, with no perceptible motion. She would not even flap her big white wings, but she cut through the water with a whir and a rush which exhilarated me as flying must stir the heart of a sea-gull.

She behaved so well after five o’clock that they decided to try to eat dinner from the dinner-table–a thing they had not done since we started. There were only four of them able to appear–Mr. and Mrs. Jimmie, the doctor, and the Commodore.

They put the racks up and took every precaution. The only mistake they made was in using the yacht’s lovely china, which bore the Strossi crest under the _Hela’s_ private flag.

Jimmie and his wife sat opposite each other. I put three pillows under my head, the better to watch them, when suddenly the yacht tilted Mrs. Jimmie and her chair over backward. Jimmie saw her going and reached to save her. But he forgot to set down his soup-plate. The result was that she got Jimmie’s soup in her face, and that he slid clear across the table on his hands and knees, taking china and table-cloth with him, and they all landed on top of poor Mrs. Jimmie (who, even as I write, is in her stateroom having her hair washed).

Her chief wail, when she could speak, was not that her head ached from the blow, or that she was half strangled with tepid soup, but that Jimmie had broken all the china. She could not be comforted until the Commodore proved that some of the china had been broken previously, by showing her the fragments wrecked on the first day out.

That last catastrophe has apparently settled things. Everybody has turned in to repair damages, and, perhaps, afterwards to sleep.

The Commodore is studying the charts on the dining-room table, and the captain, an American, has just put his head in at the door and said:

“She’s sailing twelve knots an hour under just the fores’l, sir, and she’s running like a scairt dog.”

* * * * *

Americans are so accustomed to outrageous distances that a journey of fifty hours is mere play. But I sincerely believe that no other trait of ours causes the European to regard our nation with such suspicion as our utter unconcern of long journeys. Nothing short of accession to a title or to escape being caught by the police would induce the Continental to travel over a few hours. So when I decided to go to Poland in order to be a member of a gorgeous house-party, I might as well have robbed a bank and given my friends something to be suspicious of. They never believed that I would do such a fatiguing and unheard-of thing until I really left.

But Poland has always beckoned me like a friend–a friend which combined all the poetry, romance, fascination, nobility, and honor of a first love. If the Pole is proud, he has something to be proud of. His honor has dignity. His country’s sorrows touch the heart. Polish literature has sentiment, her music has fire, her men of genius stand out like heroes, her women are adorable. Balzac describes not only one but a not infrequent type when he dedicates _Modeste Mignon_ “To a Polish Lady” in the most exquisite apostrophe which ever graced the entrance-hall to one of the noblest novels of this inimitable master.

“Daughter of an enslaved land, angel through love, witch through fancy, child by faith, aged by experience, man in brain, woman in heart, giant by hope, mother through sorrow, poet in thy dreams, to Thee belongs this book, in which thy love, thy fancy, thy experience, thy sorrow, thy hope, thy dreams, are the warp through which is shot a woof less brilliant than the poesy of thy soul, whose expression when it shines upon thy countenance is, to those who love thee, what the characters of a lost language are to scholars.”

Such a tribute as this would of itself be sufficient to turn the heart expectantly towards Poland, to say nothing of the interest her history has for the brain. The history of Poland is one long struggle for home and country. The Pole is a patriot by inheritance. His patriotism, goes deeper than his love.

His country comes first in his soul, and for that reason the Poles have in me an enthusiastic ally, an ardent admirer, and a sympathetic friend.

In speaking of the story of Poland with a cold-blooded reader of history I expressed my appreciation of the noble proportions of their struggles and my sympathy for their present unfortunate plight, to which she replied: “Yes, but it is so entirely their own fault. They are so fiery, so precipitate, so romantic. They got _themselves_ into it! Their poesy and romance and folly make them charming as individuals, but ridiculous as a nation. I like the Poles, but I have no patience with Poland.” How exactly the world’s verdict on the artistic temperament! There is a round hole, and, lo and behold! all squares must be forced into it!

Suppose that everything resolved itself into the commonplace; where would be your imagination, your fancy, your rich experience of the heart and soul? Poland furnishes just this element in history. Her struggles are so romantic, her follies so charmingly natural to a high-strung nation, her despair so profound, her frequent revolutions so buoyant in hope, that she reminds me of a brilliant woman striving to make dull women understand her, and failing as persistently and completely as the artistic temperament always fails.

A frog spat at a glowworm. “Why do you spit at me?” said the glowworm. “Why do you shine so?” said the frog.

Poland’s singers have voices so piercingly sweet; her novelists have pens touched with such divine fire; her actors portray so much of the soul; her patriots have always shown such reckless and inspiring bravery; and now, in her desolation and subjection, there is still so much pride, such noble dignity under her losses, that of all the countries in the world Poland holds both the heart and mind by a fascination of which she herself is unconscious, marking a noble simplicity of soul which is in itself an added indication of her queenly inheritance.

Julia Marlowe in her _Countess Valeska_ is a Pole to her finger-tips. Her acting is superb. Cleopatra herself never felt nor inspired a diviner passion than Valeska; but when it came to a question of her love or her country she rose above self with an almost superhuman effort and saved her country at the expense of her love.

No American who has not the same awful passion of patriotism; no one who is not a lover of his country above home or friends or wife or children; who does not love his America second only to his God; whose blood does not prickle in his veins at the sound of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and whose eyes do not fill with tears at the sight of “Old Glory” floating anywhere, can understand of what patriotism the Pole is capable.

Nor can one who has not the foolish, romantic, nervous, high-strung, artistic temperament understand from within Poland’s national history. For that reason one is apt to find famous places in Europe which have only an historical significance somewhat disappointing. One fails to find in a battle fought for the sake of conquest by an overweening ambition such soul-stirring pathos as in the leading of a forlorn hope from the spirit of patriotism, or of a woman’s pleadings where a man’s arguments have failed. For that reason Austerlitz touches one not so nearly as the struggle around Memel. As we drew near Memel things began to look lonely and foreign and queer, and its picturesque features were enhanced by recollection of Napoleon and Queen Louise.

Memel is near Tilsit, and the river Niemen, or Memel, empties into the Baltic just below here. The conference on the raft appeals to me as one of the most thrilling and yet pitiably human events in all history.

Its sickening anticlimax to poor Queen Louise was so exactly in keeping with the smaller disappointments which assail her more humble sister women in every walk of life that it takes on the air of a heart tragedy. I tried to imagine the feelings of the Queen when _she_ journeyed to Memel to hold her famous interview with Napoleon. How her pride must have suffered at the thought of lowering herself to plead for her husband and her country at Napoleon’s hands! How she hated him before she saw him! How she more than hated him after she left him! How she must have scorned the beauty upon which Napoleon commented so idly when a nation’s honor was at stake! A typical act of the emperor of the French nation! Napoleon proved by that one episode that he was more French than Corsican.

In the Queen’s illness at Memel she was so poorly housed that long lines of snow sifted in through the roof and fell across her bed. But that was as nothing to her mental disquiet while the fate of her beloved Prussia hung in the balance.

There is a bridge across the Memel at the exact spot where the famous raft conference is said to have taken place. As we crossed this bridge it seemed so far removed from those stormy days of strife that it was difficult to imagine the magnificent spectacle of the immense armies of Napoleon and Alexander drawn up on either bank, while these two powerful monarchs were rowed out to the raft to decide the fate of Frederick William and his lovely queen.

And although to them Prussia was the issue of the hour, how like the history of individual lives was this conference! For Prussia’s fate was almost ignored, while the conversation originally intended to consume but a few moments lengthened into hours, and Napoleon and Alexander, having sworn eternal friendship, proceeded to divide up Europe between them, and parted with mutual expressions of esteem and admiration, having quite forgotten a trifle like the King and Queen of Prussia and their rage of anxiety.

But all these memories of Napoleon and Prussia gave way before the vital fact that we were to visit a lovely Polish princess and see some of her charming home life. I had been duly informed by my friends of the various ceremonies which I would encounter, and which, I must confess, rendered me rather timid. I only hoped my wits would not desert me at the crucial moment.

For instance, if the archbishop were there I must give him my hand and then lean forward and kiss his sleeve just below the shoulder. I only hoped my chattering teeth would not meet in his robe. So when I saw the state carriage of the princess at the station of Memel, drawn by four horses, and with numbers of servants in such queer liveries to attend to my luggage, I simply breathed a prayer that I would get through it all successfully; and if not, that they would lay any lapses at the door of my own eccentricities, and not to the ignorance of Americans in general, for I never wish to disgrace my native land.

The servants wore an odd flat cap, like a tam-o’-shanter with a visor. Their coats were of bright blue, with the coat-of-arms of the princess on the brass buttons. This coat reached nearly to their feet, and in the back it was gathered full and stiffened with canvas, for all the world like a woman’s pannier. I thought I should die the first time I got a side view of those men.

It was late Friday afternoon when we left the train, and we drove at a tremendous pace through lonely forests which we were only too happy to leave behind us. Suddenly we came upon the little village of Kretynga, whose streets were paved with cobblestones the size of a man’s two fists.

To drive slowly over cobblestones is not a joy, but to drive four Russian horses at a gallop over such cobblestones as those was something to make you bite your tongue and to break your teeth and to shake your very soul from its socket.

The town is inhabited by Polish Jews, and a filthy, greasy, nauseating set they are, both men and women. The men wear two or three long, oily, tight curls in front of their ears. Their noses are hooked like a parrot’s. Their countenances are sinister, and I believe they have not washed since the Flood. The women, when they marry, shave their heads. Then they either wear huge wigs, which they use to wipe their hands on without the ceremony of washing them first, or else they wear a black or white or gray satin hood-piece with a line to imitate the parting of the hair embroidered on it.

Nothing is clean about them. I no longer wonder that Jews are expelled from Russia. It makes one rather respect Russia as a clean country. As it was Friday night, one window-sill in each house was filled with a row of lighted candles representing each member of the family who was either absent or dead.

Being so far away from home myself, this appealed to me as such a touching custom that it made my eyes smart.

Presently a clearing in the forest revealed the famous monastery of Kretynga–a monastery famous for being peopled with priests and monks whom the Tzar has exiled because they took too much interest in politics for his nerves. Then soon after passing this monastery we entered the grounds of the castle. Still the longest part of the drive lay before us, for this one of the many estates of the Princess lies between the Memel and the Baltic Sea, and covers a large territory.

But finally, after driving through an avenue of trees which are worth a dictionary of words all to themselves, we came to the castle, a huge structure, which seemed to spread out before us interminably, for it was too dark to see anything but its majestic outlines.

The Princess in her own home was even lovelier than she had been in Paris, and charitably allowed us to have one night’s rest before meeting the family.

About three o’clock in the morning I was awakened by a mournful chant, all in minor, which began beneath my windows and receded, growing fainter and fainter, until at last it died away. It was the hymn which the peasants always sing as they go forth to their work in the fields; but its mournful cadence haunted me. The next morning the largeness of the situation dawned upon me. The size of the rooms and their majestic furnishings were almost barbaric in their splendor. The tray upon which my breakfast was served was of massive silver. The coffee-pot, sugar-bowl, and plates were of repousse silver, exquisitely wrought, but so large that one could hardly lift them.

In a great openwork basket of silver were any number of sweetened breads and small cakes and buns, all made by the baker in the castle, who all day long does nothing but bake bread and pastry. They do not serve hot milk with coffee, for which I blessed them from the bottom of my soul, but they have little brown porcelain jugs which they fill with cream so thick that you have to take it out with a spoon–it won’t pour,–and these they heat in ovens, and so serve you hot cream for your coffee.

I call the gods from Olympus to testify to the quality of the nectar this combination produces. Some of those little porcelain jugs are going on their travels soon.

Meeting the various members of the Princess’s charming family and remembering their titles was not an ordeal at all–at least it was not after it was over. They were quite like other people, except that their manners were unusually good. There was to be a hunt that morning–an amusing, luxurious sort of hunt quite in my line; one where I could go in a carriage and see the animals caught, but where I need not see them killed.

They were to hunt a mischievous little burrowing animal something like our badger, which is as great a pest to Poland as the rabbits are to Australia. They destroy the crops by eating their roots, so every little while a hunt is organized to destroy them in large numbers. The foresters had been sent out the night before to discover a favorite haunt of theirs, and to fill up all the entrances to their burrows; so all that we had to do was to drive to the scene of action.

It sounds simple enough, but I most solemnly assure you that it was anything but a simple drive to one fresh from the asphalt of Paris, for, like Jehu, they drove furiously.

Their horses are all wild, runaway beasts, and they drive them at an uneven gallop resembling the gait of our fire-engine horses at home, except that ours go more slowly. Sometimes the horses fall down when they drive across country, as they stop only for stone walls or moats. The carriages must be built of iron, for the front wheels drop a few feet into a burrow every now and then, and at such times an unwary American is liable to be pitched over the coachman’s head. “Hold on with both hands, shut your eyes, and keep your tongue from between your teeth,” would be my instructions to one about to “take a drive” in Poland.

When we came to the place we found the foresters watching the _dachshunde_. These I discovered to be long, flat, shallow dogs with stumpy legs–a dog which an American has described as “looking as if he was always coming out from under a bureau.” Very cautiously here and there the foresters uncovered a burrow, and a _dachshund_ disappeared. Then from below ground came the sounds of fighting. The _dachshunde_ had found their prey. The foresters ran about, stooping to locate the sound. When they discovered the spot a dozen of them at once began to dig as fast as they could.

Presently a writhing, rolling, barking bunch of fur and flying sand came into view, when a forester with a long forked stick caught the animal just back of its head and flung it into a coarse sack, which was then tied up and thrown aside, and the hunt went on. After we all went home the foresters gathered up these bags and killed the poor little animals somehow–mercifully, I hope.

The dinner, which came at two o’clock, was so much of a function, on account of the number of guests in the house, that it impressed itself upon my memory.

First in the salon there were small tables set, containing _hors d’oeuvres_. There were large decanters containing _vodke_, a liquor something like Chinese rice-brandy. There were smoked goose, smoked bear, and salmon, white and black bread, all sorts of sausages, anchovies and caviar, of course. After these had been tasted largely by the guests who were not Americans, and who knew that a formidable dinner yet had to be discussed, we were all seated at a table in the grand dining-room.

There were a hundred of us, and the table held enough for twice that many. We began with a hot soup made of fermented beet-juice. This we found to be delicious, but I seemed to be eating transparent red ink with parsley in it. This was followed by a cold soup made of sour cream and cucumbers, with _ecrevisse_, a small and delicious lobster. There was ice in this.

Cucumbers and sour cream! Let me see, wasn’t it President Taylor who died of eating cherries and milk?

Then came a salad of chicken and lettuce, and then huge roasts garnished with exquisite French skill.

After the sweets came the fruit, such fruits as even our own California cannot produce, with white raspberries of a size and taste quite indescribable. When dinner is over comes a very pretty custom. The hostess, whose seat is nearest the door, rises, and each guest kisses her hand or her arm as he passes out, and thanks her in a phrase for her hospitality. Sometimes it is only “Thank you, princess”; sometimes “Many thanks for your beautiful dinner,” or anything you like. They speak Polish to each other and to their servants, but they are such wonderful linguists that they always address a guest in his own language. To their peasants, however, who speak an unlearnable dialect, they are obliged always to have an interpreter.

At six o’clock came tea from samovars four feet high and of the most gorgeous repousse silver. Melons, fruit, and all sorts of bread are served with this. Then at eight a supper, very heavy, very sumptuous, very luxurious.

The whole day had been charming, exhilarating, different from anything we had ever seen before; but there was to follow something which impressed itself upon my excitable nerves with a fascination so bewildering that I can think of but one thing which would give me the same amount of heavenly satisfaction. This would be to have Theodore Thomas conduct the Chicago orchestra in the “Tannhaeuser” overture in the Court of Honor at the World’s Fair some night with a full moon.

But to return. The Princess excused herself to her Protestant guests after supper, and then her family, with the servants and all the guests who wished, assembled in the winter garden to sing hymns to the Virgin. The winter garden is like a gigantic conservatory four stories high. It connects the two wings of the castle on the ground floor, and all the windows and galleries of the floors above overlook it.

It is the most beautiful spot even in the daytime that I ever saw connected with any house built for man. But at night to look down upon its beauty, with its palms, its tall ferns, its growing, climbing, waving vines and flowering shrubs, with its divine odors and fragrances and sweet dampnesses from mosses and lovely, moist, green, growing things, is to have one’s soul filled with a poetry undreamed of on the written page.

The candles dotting the soft gloom, the spray from the fountains blowing in the air and tinkling into their marble basins, the tones of the grand organ rumbling and soaring up to us, the moonlight pouring through the great glass dome and filtering through the waving green leaves, dimpling on the marble statues and making trembling shades and shadows upon the earnest faces of the worshippers, the penetrating sadness of their minor hymns–all the sights and sounds and fragrances of this winter garden made of that hour “one to be forever marked with a white stone.”

V

VILNA, RUSSIA

We met our first real discourtesy in Berlin at the hands of a German, and although he was only the manager of an hotel, we lay it up against him and cannot forgive him for it. It happened in this wise:

My companion, being the courier, bought our tickets straight through to St. Petersburg, with the privilege of stopping a week in Vilna, where we were to be the guests of a Polish nobleman. When she sent the porter to check our trunks she told him in faultless German to check them only to Vilna on those tickets. But as her faultless German generally brings us soap when she orders coffee, and hot water when she calls for ice, I am not so severe upon the stupidity of the porter as she is. However, when he came back and asked for fifty-five marks extra luggage to St. Petersburg we gave a wail, and explained to the manager, who spoke English, that we were not going to St. Petersburg, and that we were not particularly eager to pay out fifty-five marks for the mere fun of spending money. If the choice were left to us we felt that we could invest it more to our satisfaction in belts and card-cases.

He was very big and handsome, this German, and doubtless some meek _fraeulein_ loves him, but we do not, and, moreover, we pity her, whoever and wherever she may be, for we know by experience that if they two are ever to be made one he will be that one. He said he was sorry, but that, doubtless, when we got to the Russian frontier we could explain matters and get our trunks. But we could not speak Russian, we told him, and we wanted things properly arranged then and there. He clicked his heels together and bowed in a superb manner, and we were sure our eloquence and our distress had fetched him, so to speak, when to our amazement he simply reiterated his statements.

“But surely you are not going to let two American women leave your hotel all alone at eleven o’clock at night with their luggage checked to the wrong town?” I said, in wide-eyed astonishment.

Again he clicked those heels of his. Again that silk hat came off. Again that superb bow. He was very sorry, but he could do nothing. Doubtless we could arrange things at the frontier. It was within ten minutes of train time, and we were surrounded by no fewer than thirty German men–guests, porters, hall-boys–who listened curiously, and offered no assistance.

I looked at my companion, and she looked at me, and ground her teeth.

“Then you absolutely refuse us the courtesy of walking across the street with us and mending matters, do you?” I said.

Again those heels, that hat, that bow. I could have killed him. I am sorry now that I didn’t. I missed a glorious opportunity.

So off we started alone at eleven o’clock at night for Poland, with our trunks safely checked through to St. Petersburg, and fifty-five marks lighter in pocket.

My companion kept saying, “Well, I never!” A pause. And again, “Well, I never!” And again, “Did you ever in all your life!” Yet there was no sameness in my ears to her remarks, for it was all that I, too, wanted to say. It covered the ground completely.

I was speechless with surprise. It kept recurring to my mind that my friends in America who had lived in Germany had told me that I need expect nothing at the hands of German men on account of being a woman. I couldn’t seem to get it through my head. But now that it had happened to me–now that a man had deliberately refused to cross the street–no farther, mind you!–to get us out of such a mess! Why, in America, there isn’t a man from the President to a chimney-sweep, from a major-general to the blackest nigger in the cotton fields, who wouldn’t do ten times that much for _any_ woman!

I shall never get over it.

With the courage of despair I accosted every man and woman on the platform with the words, “Do you speak English?” But not one of them did. Nor French either. So with heavy hearts we got on the train, feed the porter four marks for getting us into this dilemma (and incidentally carrying our hand-luggage), and when he had the impertinence to demand more I turned on him and assured him that if he dared to speak another word to us we would report him to His Excellency the American Ambassador, who was on intimate terms with the Kaiser; and that I would use my influence to have him put in prison for life. He fled in dismay, although I know he did not understand one word. My manner, however, was not affable. Then I cast myself into my berth in a despairing heap, and broke two of the wings in my hat.

My companion was almost in tears. “Never mind,” she said. “It was all my fault. But we may get our trunks, anyway. And if not, perhaps we can get along without them.”

“Impossible!” I said. “How can we spend a week as guests in a house without a change of clothes?”

In order not to let her know how worried I was, I told her that if we couldn’t get our trunks off the train at Vilna we would give up our visit and telegraph our excuses and regrets to our expectant hostess, or else come back from St. Petersburg after we had got our precious trunks once more within our clutches.

All the next day we tried to find some one who spoke English or French, but to no avail. We spent, therefore, a dreary day. By letting my companion manage the customs officers in patomime we got through the frontier without having to unlock anything, although it is considered the most difficult one in Europe.

The trains in Russia fairly crawl. Instead of coal they use wood in their engines, which sends back thousands of sparks like the tail of a comet. It grew dark about two o’clock in the afternoon, and we found ourselves promenading through the bleakest of winter landscapes. Tiny cottages, emitting a bright red glow from infinitesimal windows, crouched in the snow, and silent fir-trees silhouetted themselves against the moonlit sky. It only needed the howl of wolves to make it the loneliest picture the mind could conceive.

When we were within an hour of Vilna I heard in the distance my companion’s familiar words, “Pardon me, sir, but do you speak English?” And a deep voice, which I knew without seeing him came from a big man, replied in French, “For the first time in my life I regret that I do not.”

At the sound of French I hurried to the door of our compartment, and there stood a tall Russian officer in his gray uniform and a huge fur-lined pelisse which came to his feet.

When my companion wishes to be amusing she says that as soon as I found that the man spoke French I whirled her around by the arm and sent her spinning into the corner among the valises. But I don’t remember even touching her. I only remembered that here was some one to whom I could talk, and in two minutes this handsome Russian had untangled my incoherent explanations, had taken our luggage receipt, and had assured us that he himself would not pause until he had seen our trunks taken from the train at Vilna. If I should live a thousand years I never shall forget nor cease to be grateful to that superb Russian. He was so very much like an American gentleman.

We were met at the station by our Polish friends, our precious trunks were put into sledges, we were stowed into the most comfortable of equipages, and in an hour we were installed in one of the most delightful homes it was ever my good fortune to enter.

I never realized before what people can suffer at the hands of a conquering government, and were it not that the young Tzar of Russia has done away, either by public ukase or private advice, with the worst of the wrongs his father permitted to be put upon the Poles, I could not bear to listen to their recitals.

Politics, as a rule, make little impression upon me. Guide-books are a bore, and histories are unattractive, they are so dry and accurate. My father’s grief at my lack of essential knowledge is perennial and deep-seated. But, somehow, facts are the most elusive things I have to contend with. I can only seem to get a firm grasp on the imaginary. Of course, I know the historical facts in this case, but it does not sound personally pathetic to read that Russia, Prussia, and Austria divided Poland between them.

But to be here in Russia, in what was once Poland, visiting the families of the Polish nobility; to see their beautiful home-life, their marvellous family affection, the respect they pay to their women; to feel all the charm of their broad culture and noble sympathy for all that makes for the general good, and then to hear the story of their oppression, is to feel a personal ache in the heart for their national burdens.

It does not sound as if a grievous hardship were being put upon a conquered people to read in histories or guide-books that Prussia is colonizing her part of Poland with Germans–selling them land for almost nothing in order to infuse German blood, German language, German customs into a conquered land. It does not touch one’s sympathies very much to know that Austria is the only one of the three to give Poland the most of her rights, and in a measure to restore her self-respect by allowing her representation in the Reichstag and by permitting Poles to hold office.

But when you come to Russian Poland and know that in the province of Lithuania–which was a separate and distinct province until a prince of Lithuania fell in love with and married a queen of Poland, and the two countries were joined–Poles are not allowed to buy one foot of land in the country where they were born and bred, are not permitted to hold office even when elected, are prohibited from speaking their own language in public, are forbidden to sing their Polish hymns, or to take children in from the streets and teach them in anything but Russian, and that every one is taught the Greek religion, then this colonization becomes a burning question. Then you know how to appreciate America, where we have full, free, and unqualified liberty.

The young Tzar has greatly endeared himself to his Polish subjects by several humane and generous acts. One was to remove the tax on all estates (over and above the ordinary taxes), which Poles were obliged to pay annually to the Russian government. Another was to release school-children from the necessity of attending the Greek church on all Russian feast-days. These two were by public ukase, and as the Poles are passionately grateful for any act of kindness, one hears nothing but good words for the Tzar, and there is the utmost feeling of loyalty to him among them. I hear it constantly said that if he continue in this generous policy Russia need never apprehend another Polish revolution. And while by a revolution they could never hope to