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  • 1917
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the house. I thought it a dreadful bathroom when I first saw it, but now I’m grateful that it can’t be aired. The house was built years and years before Germans began to wash, and it wasn’t till the Koseritzes came that a bath was wanted. Then it had to be put in any hole, and this hole is the one place where there is silence. Everywhere else, in every room in the house, it is as if one were living next door to a dozen public houses in the worst slums of London and it were always Saturday night. I do think the patriotism of an unattacked, aggressive country is a hideous thing.

Bernd got me somehow through the crowd to the calmer streets on the way to Frau Berg. He didn’t want me to go out at all, but I want to see what I can. The Kaiser rushed through the Brandenburger Thor in his car as we went out. You never saw such a scene as then. It was frightening, like a mob of lunatics let loose. Every time he is seen tearing along the streets there’s this wild scene, Bernd says. He has suddenly leaped to the topmost top of popularity, for he’s the dispenser now of the great lottery in which all the draws are going to be prizes. You know there isn’t a German, not the cleverest, not the most sober, who doesn’t regularly and solemnly buy lottery tickets. Aren’t they, apart from all the other things they are, the _funniest_ people. So immature in wisdom, so top-heavy with dangerous knowledge that their youngness in wisdom makes them use wrongly. If they hadn’t got the latest things in guns and equipment they would be quiet, and wouldn’t think of fighting.

Bernd made me promise to wait at Frau Berg’s till he could fetch me, and as he didn’t get back till two o’clock, and Frau Berg very amiably said I must be her guest at the well-known mid-day meal, I found myself once more in the bosom of the boarders. Only this time I sat proudly on Frau Berg’s right, in the place of honour next to Doctor Krummlaut, instead of in the obscurity of my old seat at the dark end near the door.

It was so queer, and so different. There was the same Wanda, resting her dishes on my left shoulder, which she always used to do, not only so as to attract my attention but as a convenience to herself, because they were hot and heavy. There were the same boarders, except the red-mouthed bank-clerk and another young man. Hilda Seeberg was there, and the Swede, and Doctor Krummlaut; and of course Frau Berg, massive in her tight black dress buttoned up the front without a collar to it, the big brooch she fastens it with at the neck half hidden by her impressive double chins, which flow down as majestically as a patriarch’s beard. We had the same food, the same heat, and I’m sure the same flies. But the nervous tension there used to be, the tendency to quarrel, the pugnacious political arguing with me, the gibes at England, were gone. I don’t know whether it was because I’m engaged to a Prussian officer that they were so very polite–I was tremendously congratulated,–but they were certainly different about England. It may of course have been their general happiness–happiness makes one so kind all round!–for here too was the content, the satisfaction of those who, after painful waiting, get what they want. It was expressed very noisily, not with the restraint of the Koseritzes, but it was the same thing really. The Berg atmosphere was more like the one in the streets. Where the Grafin in her pleasure became only more calm, the boarders were abandoned,–excited like savages dancing round the fire their victims are to roast at. Frau Berg rumbled and shook with her relief, like some great earthquake, and didn’t mind a bit apparently about the tremendous rise there has been in prices this week. What will she get, I wonder, by war, except struggle and difficulty and departing boarders? Being a guest, I had to be polite and let them say what they liked without protest,–really, the disabilities of guests! I couldn’t argue, as I would have if I’d still been a boarder, which was a pity, for meanwhile I’ve learned a lot of German and could have said a great many things and been as natural as I liked here away from the Grafin’s gentle smile reminding me that I’m not behaving. But I had to sit and listen smilingly, and of course show none of my horror at their attitude, for more muzzling even than being a guest is being the betrothed of a Prussian officer. _They_ don’t know what sort of a Prussian officer he is, how different, how truly educated, how full of dislike for the base things they worship and want; and he, caught by birth in the Prussian chains, shall not be betrayed by me who love him. Here he is, caught anyhow for the present, and he must do his duty; but someday we’re going away,–he, and I, and you, little mother darling, when there’s no war anywhere in sight and therefore no duty to stay for, and we’ll go and live in America, and he’ll take off all those buttons and spurs and things, and we’ll give ourselves up to freedom, and harmlessness, and art, and beauty, and we’ll have friends who neither intrigue, which is what the class at the top here lives by, nor who waste their lives being afraid, which is what all the other classes here spend their lives being.

“At last we are going to wipe off old scores against France,” Doctor Krummlaut spluttered through his soup today at Frau Berg’s with shining eyes,–I should have thought it was France who had the old scores that need wiping–“and Russia, the barbarian Colossus, will topple over and choke in its own blood.”

Then Frau Berg capped that with sentiments even more bloodthirsty.

Then the Swede, who never used to speak, actually raised her voice in terms of blood too, and expressed a wish to see a Cossack strung up by his heels to every electric-light standard along the Lindens.

Then Hilda Seeberg said if her Papa–that Papa she told me once she hadn’t at all liked–were only alive, it would be the proudest moment of his life when, at the head of his regiment, he would go forth to slay President Poincare. “And if,” she said, her eyes flashing, “owing to his high years his regiment was no longer able to accept his heroic leadership, he would, I know, proceed secretly to France as an assassin, and bomb the infamous Poincare,–bomb him in the name of our Kaiser, of our Fatherland, and of our God.”

“Amen,” said Frau Berg, very loud.

I flew to Bernd when he came. It was as if a door had been flung open, and the freshness and sanity of early morning came into the room when he did. I hung on his arm, and looked up into his dear shrewd eyes, so clear and kind, so full of wisdom. The boarders were with one accord servile to him; even Doctor Krummlaut, a clever man with far better brains probably than Bernd. Bernd, from habit, stiffened and became unapproachable the instant the middle class public in the shape of the congratulatory boarders appeared. He doesn’t even know he’s like that, his training has made it second nature. You should have seen his lofty, complete indifference. It was dreadfully rude really, and oh how they loved him for it! They simply adored him, and were ready to lick his boots. It was so funny to see them sidling about him, all of them wagging their tails. He was the master, come among the slaves. But to think that even Doctor Krummlaut should sidle!

There’s a most terrific _extra_ noise going on outside. I can hardly hear myself write. I don’t know whether to run and find out what it is, or retreat to the bathroom. My ears won’t stand much more,–I shall get deaf, and not be able to play.


What has happened is that special editions of the papers have appeared announcing that the Kaiser has decreed a state of war for the whole of Germany. Well. They’ve done it now. For I did extract from a very cheerful-looking caller I met coming upstairs to the drawingroom that a state of war is followed as inevitably by the real thing as a German betrothal is followed by marriage. One is as committal as the other, he said. It is the rarest thing, and produces an immense scandal, for an engagement to be broken off; and, explained the caller looking extremely pleased,–he was a man-caller, and therefore more willing to stop and talk–to proceed backwards from a state of war to the _status quo ante_ might produce the unthinkable result of costing the Kaiser his throne.

“You can imagine, my most gracious Miss,” said the caller, “that His Majesty would never permit a calamity so colossal to overtake his people, whose welfare he has continually and exclusively in his all-highest thoughts. Therefore you may take it from me as completely certain that war is now assured.”

“But nobody has done anything to you,” I said.

He gazed at me a moment, and then smiled. “High politics, and little heads,” he said. “High politics, and little women’s heads,–” and went on up the stairs smiling and shaking his own.

I do wish they wouldn’t keep on talking as though my head were so dreadfully small. Never in my life have people taken so utterly and complacently for granted that I’m stupid.

Well, I feel very sick at heart. How long will it be before Bernd too will be one of that marching column on the Charlottenburger Chaussee. He won’t go away from me that way, I know. He’s on the Staff, and will go more splendidly; but those men in the new grey uniforms tramping day and night are symbols each one of them of departing happiness, of a closed chapter, of the end of something that can never be the same again.

Your tired Chris.

Before Breakfast.
Berlin, Sat., Aug. 1st, 1914.

My blessed little mother,

I’ve seen a thing I don’t suppose I’ll forget. It was yesterday, after the news came that Germany had sent Russia an ultimatum about instantly demobilizing, demanding an answer by eleven this morning. The sensation when this was known was tremendous. The Grafin was shaken out of her calm into exclamations of joy and fear,–joy that the step had been taken, fear lest Russia should obey, and there be no war after all.

We had to shut the windows to be able to hear ourselves talk. Some women friends of the Grafin’s who were here–we had no men with us–instantly left to drive by back streets to the Schlossplatz to see the sight it must be there, and the Grafin, saying that we too must witness the greatest history of the world’s greatest nation in the making, sent for a taxi–her chauffeur has gone–and prepared to follow. We had to wait ages for the taxi, but it was lucky we had to, else we might have gone and come back and missed seeing the Kaiser come out and speak to the crowd. We went a long way round, but even so all Germany seemed to be streaming towards the Lindens and the part at the end where the palace is. I don’t expect we ever would have got there if it hadn’t been that a cousin of the Grafin’s, a very smart young officer in the Guards, saw us in the taxi as it was vainly trying to cross the Friedrichstrasse, and flicking the obstructing policemen on one side with a sort of little kick of his spur, came up all amazement and salutes to inquire of his most gracious cousin what in the world she was doing in a taxi. He said it was hopeless to try to get to the Schlossplatz in it, but if we would allow him to escort us on foot he would be proud–the gracious cousin would permit him to offer her his arm, and the young ladies would keep very close behind him.

So we set out, and it was surprising the way he got us through. If the crowd didn’t fall apart instantly of itself at his approach, an obsequious policeman–one of those same Berlin policemen who are so rude to one if one is alone and really in need of help–sprang up from nowhere and made it. It’s as far from the Friedrichstrasse to the Schlossplatz as it is from here to the Friedrichstrasse, but we did it very much quicker than we did the first half in the taxi, and when we reached it there they all were, the drunken crowds–that’s the word that most exactly describes them–yelling, swaying, cursing the ones in their way or who trod on their feet, shouting hurrahs and bits of patriotic songs, every one of them decently dressed, obviously respectable people in ordinary times. That’s what is so constantly strange to me,–these solid burghers and their families behaving like drunken hooligans. Somehow a spectacled professor with a golden chain across his blackwaistcoated and impressive front, just roaring incoherently, just opening his mouth and hurling any sort of noise out of it till the veins on his neck and forehead look as though they would burst, is the strangest sight in the world to me. I can imagine nothing stranger, nothing that makes one more uncomfortable and ashamed. It is what will always jump up before my eyes in the future at the words German patriotism. And to see a stout elderly lady, who ought to be presiding with slow dignity in some ordered home, hoarse with shouting, tear the feathered hat she otherwise only uses tenderly on Sundays off her respectable grey head and wave it frantically, screaming _hochs_ every time a prince is seen or a general or one of the ministers, makes one want to cry with shame at the indignity put upon poor human beings, at the exploiting of their passions, in the interests of one family.

The Grafin’s smart cousin got us on to some steps and stood with us, so that we should not be pushed off them instantly again, as we would have been if he had left us. I think they were the steps of a statue, or fountain, or something like that, but the whole whatever it was was so covered with people, encrusted with them just like one of those sticky fly-sticks is black with flies, that I don’t know what it was really. I only know that it wasn’t a house, and that we were quite close to the palace, and able to look down at the sea beneath us, the heaving, roaring sea of distorted red faces, all with their mouths wide open, all blistering and streaming in the sun.

The Grafin, who had recovered her calm in the presence of her inferiors of the middle classes, put up her eyeglasses and examined them with interest and indulgence. Helena stared. The cousin twisted his little moustache, standing beside us protectingly, very elegant and slender and nonchalant, and remarked at intervals, “_Fabelhafte Enthusiasmus, was_?”

It came into my mind that Beerbohm Tree must sometimes look on like that at a successful dress rehearsal of his well-managed stage crowds, with the same nonchalant satisfaction at the excellent results, so well up to time, of careful preparation.

Of course I said “_Colossal_” to the cousin, when he expressed his satisfaction more particularly to me.

“_Dreckiges Yolk, die Russen_” he remarked, twisting his little moustache’s ends up. “_Werden lernen was es heisst, frech sein gegen uns. Wollen sie blau und schwartz dreschen_.”

You know German, so I needn’t take its peculiar flavour out by transplanting the young man’s remarks.

“_Oh pardon–aber meine Gnadigste–tausendmal pardon–” he protested the next minute in a voice of tremendous solicitude, having been pushed rather hard and suddenly against me by a little boy who had scrambled down off whatever it was he was hanging on to; and he turned on the little boy, who I believe had tumbled off rather than scrambled, with his hand flashing to his sword, ready to slash at whoever it was had dared push against him, an officer; and seeing it was a child and therefore not _satisfactionsfahig_ as they say, he merely called him an _infame_ and _verfluchte Bengel_ and smacked his face so hard that he would have been knocked down if there had been room to fall in.

As it was, he was only hurled violently against the side of a man in a black coat and straw hat who looked like an elderly confidential clerk, so respectable and complete with his short grey beard and spectacles, who was evidently the father, for he instantly on his own account smacked the boy on his other ear, and sweeping off his hat entreated the Herr Leutnant to forgive the boy on account of his extreme youth.

The cousin, whom by now I didn’t like, was beginning very severely to advise the parent jolly well to see to it, or German words to that effect, that his idiotic boy didn’t repeat such insolences, or by hell, etc., etc., when there was such a blast of extra noise and hurrahing that the rest of his remarks were knocked out of his mouth. It was the Kaiser, come out on the balcony of the palace.

The cousin became rigid, and stood at the salute. The air seemed full of hats and handkerchiefs and delirious shrieking. The Kaiser put up his hand.

“Majestat is going to speak,” exclaimed the Grafin, her calm fluttered into fragments.

There was an immense instantaneous hush, uncanny after all the noise. Only the little boy with the boxed ears continued to call out, but not patriotically. His father, efficient and Prussian, put a stop to that by seizing his head, buttoning it up inside his black coat, and holding his arm tightly over it, so that no struggles of suffocation could get it free. There was no more noise, but the little boy’s legs, desperately twitching, kicked their dusty little boots against the cousin’s shins, and he, standing at the salute with his body rigidly turned towards Majestat, was unable to take the steps his outraged honour, let alone the pain in his shins, called for.

I was so much interested in this situation, really absorbed by it, for the little boy unconsciously was getting quite a lot of his own back, his little boots being sturdy and studded with nails, and the father, all eyes and ears for Majestat, not aware of what was happening, that positively I missed the first part of the speech. But what I did hear was immensely impressive. I had seen the Kaiser before, you remember; that time he was in London with the Kaiserin, in 1912 or 1913 I think it was, and we were staying with Aunt Angela in Wilton Crescent and we saw him driving one afternoon in a barouche down Birdcage Walk. Do you remember how cross he looked, hardly returning the salutations he got? We said he and she must have been quarrelling, he looked so sulky. And do you remember how ordinary he looked in his top hat and black coat, just like any cross and bored middle-class husband? There was nothing royal about him that day except the liveries on the servants, and they were England’s. Yesterday things were very different. He really did look like the royal prince of a picture book, a real War Lord,–impressive and glittering with orders flashing in the sun. We were near enough to see him perfectly. There wasn’t much crossness or boredom about him this time. He was, I am certain, thoroughly enjoying himself,–unconsciously of course, but with that immense thrilled enjoyment all leading figures at leading moments must have: Sir Galahad, humbly glorying in his perfect achievement of negations; Parsifal, engulfed in an ecstasy of humble gloating over his own worthiness as he holds up the Grail high above bowed, adoring heads; Beerbohm Tree–I can’t get away from theatrical analogies–coming before the curtain on his most successful first night, meek with happiness. Hasn’t it run through the ages, this great humility at the moment of supreme success, this moved self-depreciation of the man who has pulled it off, the “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us” attitude,–quite genuine at the moment, and because quite genuine so extraordinarily moving and impressive? Really one couldn’t wonder at the people. The Empress was there, and a lot of officers and princes and people, but it was the Emperor alone that we looked at. He came and stood by himself in front of the others. He was very grave, with a real look of solemn exaltation. Here was royalty in all its most impressive trappings, a prince of the fairy-tales, splendidly dressed, dilated of nostril, flashing of eye, the defender of homes, the leader to glory, the object of the nation’s worship and belief and prayers since each of its members was a baby, become visible and audible to thousands who had never seen him before, who had worshipped him by faith only. It was as though the people were suddenly allowed to look upon God. There was a profound awe in the hush. I believe if they hadn’t been so tightly packed together they would all have knelt down.

Well, it is easy to stir a mob. One knows how easily one is moved oneself by the cheapest emotions, by something that catches one on the sentimental side, on that side of one that through all the years has still stayed clinging to one’s mother’s knee. We’ve often talked of this, you and I, little mother. You know the sort of thing, and have got that side yourself,–even you, you dear objective one. The three things up to now that have got me most on that side, got me on the very raw of it–I’ll tell you now, now that I can’t see your amused eyes looking at me with that little quizzical questioning in them–the three things that have broken my heart each time I’ve come across them and made me only want to sob and sob, are when Kurwenal, mortally wounded, crawls blindly to Tristan’s side and says, “_Schilt mich nicht dass der Treue auch mitkommt_” and Siegfried’s dying “_Brunnhild, heilige Braut_,” and Tannhauser’s dying “_Heilige Elisabeth, bitte fur mich_.” All three German things, you see. All morbid things. Most of the sentimentality seems to have come from Germany, an essentially brutal place. But of course sentimentality is really diluted morbidness, and therefore first cousin to cruelty. And I have a real and healthy dislike for that Tannhauser opera.

But seeing how the best of us–which is you–have these little hidden swamps of emotionalness, you can imagine the effect of the Kaiser yesterday at such a moment in their lives on a people whose swamps are carefully cultivated by their politicians. Even I, rebellious and hostile to the whole attitude, sure that the real motives beneath all this are base, and constitutionally unable to care about Kaisers, was thrilled. Thrilled by him, I mean. Oh, there was enough to thrill one legitimately and tragically about the poor people, so eager to offer themselves, their souls and bodies, to be an unreasonable sacrifice and satisfaction for the Hohenzollerns. His speech was wonderfully suited to the occasion. Of course it would be. If he were not able to prepare it himself his officials would have seen to it that some properly eloquent person did it for him; but Kloster says he speaks really well on cheap, popular lines. All the great reverberating words were in it, the old big words ambitious and greedy rulers have conjured with since time began,–God, Duty, Country, Hearth and Home, Wives, Little Ones, God again–lots of God.

Perhaps you’ll see the speech in the papers. What you won’t see is that enormous crowd, struck quiet, struck into religious awe, crying quietly, men and women like little children gathered to the feet of, positively, a heavenly Father. “Go to your homes,” he said, dismissing them at the end with uplifted hand,–“go to your homes, and pray.”

And we went. In dead silence. That immense crowd. Quietly, like people going out of church; moved, like people coming away from communion. I walked beside Helena, who was crying, with my head very high and my chin in the air, trying not to cry too, for then they would have been more than ever persuaded that I’m a promising little German, but I did desperately want to. I could hardly not cry. These cheated people! Exploited and cheated, led carefully step by step from babyhood to a certain habit of mind necessary to their exploiters, with certain passions carefully developed and encouraged, certain ancient ideas, anachronisms every one of them, kept continually before their eyes,–why, if they _did_ win in their murderous attack on nations who have done nothing to them, what are they going to get individually? Just wind; the empty wind of big words. They’ll be told, and they’ll read it in the newspapers, that now they’re great, the mightiest people in the world, the one best able to crush and grind other nations. But not a single happiness _really_ will be added to the private life of a single citizen belonging to the vast class that pays the bill. For the rest of their lives this generation will be poorer and sadder, that’s all. Nobody will give them back the money they have sacrificed, or the ruined businesses, and nobody can give them back their dead sons. There’ll be troops of old miserable women everywhere, who were young and content before all the glory set in, and troops of dreary old men who once had children, and troops of cripples who used to look forward and hope. Yes, I too obeyed the Kaiser and went home and prayed; but what I prayed was that Germany should be beaten–so beaten, so punished for this tremendous crime, that she will be jerked by main force into line with modern life, dragged up to date, taught that the world is too grown up now to put up with the smashings and destructions of a greedy and brutal child. It is queer to think of the fear of God having to be kicked into anybody, but I believe with Prussians it’s the only way. They understand kicks. They respect brute strength exercised brutally. I can hear their roar of derision, if Christ were to come among them today with His gentle, “Little children, love one another.”

Your Chris.

_Berlin, Sunday, August 2nd, 1914_.

My precious mother,

Just think,–when I had my lesson yesterday Kloster wouldn’t talk either about the war or the Kaiser. For a long time I thought he was ill; but he wasn’t, he just wouldn’t talk. I told him about Friday, and the Kaiser’s “_Geht nach Hause und betet_,” and how I had felt about it and the whole thing, and I expected a flood of illuminating and instructive and fearless comment from him; and instead he was dumb. And not only dumb, but he fidgeted while I talked, and at last stopped me altogether and bade me go on playing.

Then I asked him if he were ill, and he said, “No, why should I be ill?”

“Because you’re different,–you don’t talk,” I said.

And he said, “It is only women who always talk.”

So then I got on with my playing, and just wondered in silence.

I ran against Frau Kloster in the passage as I was coming out, and asked her if there was anything wrong, and she too said, “No, what should there be wrong?”

“Because the Master’s different,” I said. “He won’t talk.”

And she said, “My dear Mees Chrees, these are great days we live in, and one cannot be as usual.”

“But the Master–” I said. “Just these great days–you’d think he’d be pouring out streams of all the things that most need saying–“

And she shrugged her shoulders and merely repeated, “One is not as usual.”

So I came away, greatly puzzled. I had expected bread, and here I was going off with nothing but an unaccountable stone. Kloster and Bernd are the two solitary sane and wise people I know here in this place of fever, the two I trust, to whom I say what I really think and feel, and I went to Kloster yesterday athirst for wisdom, for that detached, critical picking out one by one of the feathers of the imperial bird, the Prussian eagle, that I find so wholesome, so balance-restoring, so comforting, in what is now a very great isolation of spirit. And he was dumb. I can’t get over it.

I’ve not seen Bernd since, as he is frightfully busy and wasn’t able to come yesterday at all, but he’s coming to lunch today, and perhaps he’ll be able to explain Kloster. I’ve been practising all the morning,–it will seem to you an odd thing to have done while Rome is burning, but I did it savagely, with a feeling of flinging defiance at this topsy-turvy world, of slitting its ugliness in spite of itself with bright spears of music, insisting on intruding loveliness on its preoccupation, the loveliness created by its own brains in the days before Prussia got the upper hand. All the morning I practised the Beethoven violin concerto, and the naked, slender radiance of it without the orchestra to muffle it up in a background, enchanted me into forgetting.

The crowds down there are soberer since Friday, and I didn’t have to go into the bathroom to play. Now that war is upon them the women seem to have started thinking a little what it may really mean, and the men aren’t quite so ready incoherently to roar. They keep on going to church,–the churches have been having services at unaccustomed moments throughout yesterday, of course by order, and are going on like that today too, for the churches are very valuable to Authority in nourishing the necessary emotions in the people at a time like this. The people were told by the Kaiser to pray, and so they do pray. It is useful to have them praying, it quiets them and gets them out of the streets and helps the authorities. Berlin is really the most godless place. Religion is the last thing anybody thinks of. Nobody dreams of going to church unless there is going to be special music there or a prince, and as for the country, my two Sundays there might have been week-days except for the extra food. It is true on each of them I saw a pastor, but each time he came to the family I was with, they didn’t go to him, to his church. Now there’s suddenly this immense recollection of God, turned on by Authority just as one turns on an electric light switch and says “Let there be light,” and there is light. So I picture the Kaiser, running his finger down his list of available assets and coming to God. Then he rings for an official, and says, “Let there be God”; and there is God.

I’m not really being profane. It isn’t really God at all I’m talking about. It’s what German Authority finds convenient to turn on and off, according as it suits what it wishes to obtain. It isn’t God. It’s just a tap.


Bernd came to lunch, but also unfortunately so did his chief. They both arrived together after we had begun,–there’s a tremendous _aller et venir_ all day in the house, and sometimes the traffic on the stairs to the drawingroom gets so congested that nothing but a London policeman could deal with it. I could only say ordinary things to Bernd, and he went away, swept off by his Colonel, directly afterwards. He did manage to whisper he would try to come in to dinner tonight and get here early, but he hasn’t come yet and it’s nearly half past seven.

The Graf was at lunch, and two other men who ate their food as if they had to catch a train, and they talked so breathlessly while they ate that I can’t think why they didn’t choke; and there was great triumph and excitement because the Germans crossed into Luxembourg this morning on their way to France, marching straight through the expostulations and entreaties of the Grand Duchess, blowing her aside, I gather, like so much rather amusing thistledown. It seemed to tickle the Graf, whom I have not before seen tickled and hadn’t imagined ever could be; but this idea of a _junges Madchen_–(“Sie soll ganz niedlich sein_,” threw in one of the gobbling men. “_Ja ganz appetitlich_,” threw in the other; “_Na, es geht_,” said the Colonel with a shrug–)–motoring out to bar the passage of a mighty army, trying to stop thousands of bayonets by lifting up one little admonitory kitten’s paw, shook him out of his gravity into a weird, uncanny chuckling.

The Colonel, who was as genial and hilarious as ever, rather more so than ever, said all the Luxembourg railways would be in German hands by tonight. “It works out as easily and inevitably as a simple arithmetical problem,” he laughed; and I heard him tell the Graf German cavalry was already in France at several points.

“_Ja, ja_” he said, apparently addressing me, for he looked at me and smiled, “when we Germans make war we do not wait till the next day. Everything thought of; everything ready; plenty of oil in the machine; _und dann los_.”

He raised his glass. “Delightful young English lady,” he said, “I drink to your charming eyes.”

There’s dinner. I must leave off.

_Eleven p. m_.

You’ll never believe it, but Kloster has been given the Order of the Red Eagle 1st Class, and made a privy councillor and an excellency by the Kaiser this very day. And his most intimate friends, the cleverest talkers among his set, two or three who used to hold forth particularly brilliantly in his rooms on Socialism and the slavish stupidity of Germans, have each had an order and an advancement of some sort. Kloster was at the palace this afternoon. He knew about it yesterday when I was having my lesson. _Kloster_. Of all men. I feel sick.

Bernd didn’t come to dinner, but was able to be with me for half an hour afterwards, half an hour of comfort I badly needed, for where can one’s feet be set firmly and safely in this upheaving world? The Colonel was at dinner; he comes to nearly every meal; and it was he who started talking about Kloster’s audience with Majestat this afternoon.

I jumped as though some one had hit me. “That _can’t_ be true,” I exclaimed, exactly as one calls out quickly if one is suddenly struck.

They all looked at me. Somehow I saw that they had known about it beforehand, and Bernd told me tonight it was the Graf who had drawn the authorities’ attention to the desirability of having tongues like Kloster’s on the side of the Hohenzollerns.

“Dear child,” said the Grafin gently, “we Germans do not permit our great to go unhonoured.”

“But he would never–” I began; then remembered my lesson yesterday and his silence. So that’s what it was. He already had his command to attend at the palace and be decorated in his pocket.

I sat staring straight before me. Kloster bought? Kloster for sale? And the Government at such a crisis finding time to bother about him?

“_Ja, ja_,” said the Colonel gaily, as though answering my thoughts–and I found I had been staring, without seeing him, straight into his eyes, “_ja, ja_, we think of everything here.”

“Not,” gently amended the Grafin, “that it was difficult to think of honouring so great a genius as our dear Kloster. He has been in Majestat’s thoughts for years.”

“I expect he has,” I said; for Kloster has often told me how they hated him at court, him and his friends, but that he was too well known all over the world for them to be able to interfere with him; something like, I expect, Tolstoi and the Russian court.

The Grafin looked at me quickly.

“And so has Majestat been in his,” I continued.

“Kloster,” said the Grafin very gently, “is a most amusing talker, and sometimes cannot resist saying the witty things that occur to him, however undesirable they may be. We all know they mean nothing. We all understand and love our Kloster. And nobody, as you see, dear child, more than Majestat, with his ever ready appreciation of genius.”

I could only sit silent, staring at my plate. Kloster gone. Kloster allowing himself to be gagged by a decoration. I wanted to push the intolerable thought away from me and cry out, “No, it _can’t_ be.”

Why, who can one believe in now? Who is left? There’s Bernd, my beloved, my heart’s own mate; and as I sat there dumb, and they all triumphed on with their self-congratulations and satisfactions, and Majestat this, and Deutschland that, for an awful moment my faith in Bernd himself began to shake. Suppose he too, he with his Prussian blood and upbringing, fell away and went over in spirit to the side of life that decorates a man in return for the absolute control of his thoughts, rewards him for the disposal of his soul? Kloster, that freest of critics, had gone over, his German blood after all unable to resist the call to slavery. I never could have believed it. I never _would_ have believed it without actual proof. And Bernd? What about Bernd? For I haven’t more believed in Kloster than I do in Bernd. Oh, little mother, I was cold with fear.

Then he came. My dear one came for a blessed half hour. And because we, thank God, are betrothed, and so have the right to be alone together, we got rid of those smug triumphant others; and if he had happened not to be able to come, and I had had to wait till tomorrow, all night long thinking of Kloster, I believe I’d have gone mad. For you see one believes so utterly in a person one _does_ believe in. At least, I do. I can’t manage caution in belief, I can’t give prudently, carefully, holding back part, as I’m told a woman does if she is really clever, in either faith or love. And how is one to get on without faith and love? Bernd comforted me. And he comforted me most by my finding how greatly he needed to be comforted himself. He was every bit as profoundly shaken and shocked as I was. Oh, the relief of discovering that!

We clung to each other, and comforted each other like two hurt children. Kloster has been so much to us both. More, perhaps, here in this place of hypocrisy and self-deceptions, than he would have been anywhere else. He stood for fearlessness, for freedom, for beauty, for all the great things. And now he has gone; silent, choked by the _Rote Adler Orden Erste Klasse_. It is an order with three classes. We wondered bitterly whether he couldn’t have been had cheaper,–whether second, or even third class, wouldn’t have done it. He is now a _Wirkliche Geheimrath mit dem Pradikat Excellenz_. God rest his soul.


_Berlin, Monday, August 3rd, 1914_.

Darling own mother,

It’s only a matter of hours now before Bernd will have to go, and when he goes I’m coming back to you.

Your Chris.

_Berlin, Monday August 3rd, evening_.

Precious mother,

I want to come back to you–directly Bernd has gone I’m coming back to you, and if he doesn’t go soon but is used in Berlin at the Staff Head Quarters, as he says now perhaps he may be for a while, I won’t stay with the Koseritzes, but go back to Frau Berg’s for as long as Bernd is in Berlin, and the day he leaves I start for Switzerland.

I don’t know what is happening, but the Koseritzes have suddenly turned different to me. They’re making me feel more and more uncomfortable and strange. And there’s a gloom about them and the people who have been here today that sets me wondering whether their war plans after all are rolling along quite as smoothly as they thought. I never did quite believe the Koseritzes liked me, any of them, and now I’m sure they don’t. Tonight at dinner the Graf’s face was a thunder-cloud, and actually the Colonel, who hasn’t been all day but came in late for dinner and went again immediately, didn’t speak to me once. Hardly looked at me when he bowed, and his bow was the stiffest thing. I can’t ask anybody if there is bad news for Germany, for it would be a most dreadful insult even to suggest there _could_ be bad news. Besides, I feel as if I somehow were mixed up in whatever it is. Bernd hasn’t been since this morning. I shall go round to Frau Berg tomorrow and ask her if I can have my old room. But oh, little beloved mother, I feel torn in two! I want so dreadfully to get away, to go back to you, and the thought of being at Frau Berg’s, just waiting, waiting for the tiny scraps of moments Bernd can come to me, fills me with horror. And yet how can I leave him? I love him so. And once he has gone, shall I ever see him again? If it weren’t for him I’d have started for Switzerland yesterday, the moment I heard about Kloster, for the whole reason for my being in Berlin was only Kloster,

And now Kloster says he isn’t going to teach me any more. Darling mother, I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but it’s true. He sent round a note this evening saying he regretted he couldn’t continue the lessons. Just that. Not another word. I can’t make anything out any more. I’ve got nobody but Bernd to ask, and I only see him in briefest snatches. Of course I knew the lessons would be strange and painful now, but I thought we could manage, Kloster and I, by excluding everything but the bare teaching and learning, to go on and finish what we’ve begun. He knows how important it is to me. He knows what this journey here has meant to us, to you and me, the difficulty of it, the sacrifice. I’m very unhappy tonight, darling mother, and selfishly crying out to you. I feel almost like leaving Bernd, and starting for Glion tomorrow. And then when I think of him without me–He’s as spiritually alone in this welter as I am. I’m the only one he has, the only human being who understands. Today he said, holding me in his arms–you should see how we cling to each other now as if we were drowning–“When this is over, Chris, when I’ve paid off my bill of duty and settled with them here to the last farthing of me that I’ve promised them, we’ll go away for ever. We’ll never come back. We’ll never be caught again.”

_Berlin, Tuesday, August 4th, 1914_.

My beloved mother,

The atmosphere in this house really is intolerable, and I’m going back to Frau Berg’s tomorrow morning. I’ve settled it with her by telephone, and I can have my old room. However lonely I am in it without my lessons and Kloster, without the reason there was for being there before, I won’t have this horrid feeling of being in a place full of sudden and unaccountable hostility. Bernd came this morning, and the Grafin told him I was out, and he went away again. She couldn’t have thought I was out, for I always tell her when I’m going, so she wants to separate us. But why? Why? And oh, it means so much to me to see him, it was so cruel to find out by accident that he had been! A woman who was at lunch happened to say she had met him coming out of the front door as she came in.

“What–was Bernd here?” I exclaimed, half getting up on a sort of impulse to run after him and try and catch him in the street.

“Helena thought you had gone out,” said the Grafin.

“But you _knew_ I hadn’t,” I said, turning on Helena.

“Helena knew nothing of the sort,” said the Grafin severely. “She said what she believed to be true. I must request you, Christine, not to cast doubts on her word. We Germans do not lie.”

And the Graf muttered, “_Peinlich, peinlich_” and pushed hack his chair and left the room.

“You have spoilt my husband’s lunch,” said the Grafin sternly.

“I am very sorry,” I said; and tried to go on with my own, but couldn’t see it because I was blinded by tears.

After this there was nothing for it but Frau Berg. I waited till the Grafin was alone, and then went and told her I thought it better I should go back to the Lutzowstrasse, and would like, if she didn’t mind, to go tomorrow. It was very _peinlich_, as they say; for however much people want to get rid of you they’re always angry if you want to go. I said all I could that was grateful, and there was quite a lot I could say by blotting out the last two days from my remembrance. I did, being greatly at sea and perplexed, ask what it was that I had done to offend her; though of course she didn’t tell me, and was only still more offended at being asked.

I’m going to pack now, and write a letter to Bernd telling him about it, in case Helena should have a second unfortunate conviction that I’m not at home when he comes next. And I do try to be cheerful, little mother, and keep my soul from getting hurt, and when I’m at Frau Berg’s I shall feel more normal again I expect. But one has such fears–oh, more than just fears, terrors–Well, I won’t go on writing in this mood. I’ll pack.

Your own Chris.

_At Frau Berg’s, August 4th, 1914, very late_.

Precious mother,

I’m coming back to you. Don’t be unhappy about me. Don’t think I’m coming back mangled, a bleeding thing, because you see, I still have Bernd. I still believe in him–oh, with my whole being. And as long as I do that how can I be anything but happy? It’s strange how, now that the catastrophe has come, I’m quite calm, sitting here at Frau Berg’s in my old room in the middle of the night writing to you. I think it’s because the whole thing is so great that I’m like this, like somebody who has had a mortal blow, and because it’s mortal doesn’t feel. But this isn’t mortal. I’ve got Bernd and you,–only now I must have great patience. Till I see him again. Till war is over and he comes for me, and I shall be with him always.

I’m coming to you, dear mother. It’s finished here. I’m going to describe it all quite calmly to you. I’m not going to be unworthy of Bernd, I won’t have less of dignity and patience than he has. If you’d seen him tonight saying good-bye to me, and stopped by the Colonel! His look as he obeyed–I shan’t forget it. When next I’m weak and base I shall remember it, and it will save me.

At dinner there were only the Grafin and Helena and me, and they didn’t speak a word, not only not to me but not to each other, and in the middle a servant brought in a note for the Grafin from the Graf, he said, and when she had looked at it she got up and went out. We finished our dinner in dead silence, and I was going up to my room when the Grafin’s maid came after me and said would I go to her mistress. She was alone in the drawingroom, sitting at her writing table, though she wasn’t writing, and when I came in she said, without turning round, that she must ask me to leave her house at once, that very evening. She said that apart from her private feelings, which were all in favour of my going–she would be quite frank, she said–there were serious political reasons why I shouldn’t stay even as long as till tomorrow. The Graf’s career, his position in the ministry, their social position, Majestat,–I really don’t remember all she said, and it matters so little, so little. I listened, trying to understand, trying to give all my attention to it and disentangle it, while my heart was thumping so because of Bernd. For I was being turned out in disgrace, and I am his betrothed, and so I am his honour, and whatever of shame there is for me there is of shame for him.

The Grafin got more and more unsteady in her voice as she went on. She was trying hard to keep calm, but she was evidently feeling so acutely, so violently, that it was distressing to, have to watch her. I was so sorry. I wanted to put my arms round her and tell her not to mind so much, that of course I’d go, but if only she wouldn’t mind so much whatever it was. Then at last she began to lose her hold on herself, and got up and walked about the room saying things about England. So then I knew. And I knew the answer to everything that has been perplexing me. They’d been afraid of it the last two days, and now they knew it. England isn’t going to fold her arms and look on. Oh, how I loved England then! Standing in that Berlin drawingroom in the heart of the Junker-military-official set, all by myself in what I think and feel,–how I loved her! My heart was thumping five minutes before for fear of shame, now it thumped so that I couldn’t have said anything if I’d wanted to for gladness and pride. I was a bit of England. I think to know how much one loves England one has to be in Germany. I forgot Bernd for a moment, my heart was so full of that other love, that proud love for one’s country when it takes its stand on the side of righteousness. And presently the Grafin said it all, tumbled it all out,–that England was going to declare war, and under circumstances so shameful, so full of the well-known revolting hypocrisy, that it made an honest German sick. “Belgium!” she cried, “What is Belgium? An excuse, a pretence, one more of the sickening, whining phrases with which you conceal your gluttonous opportunism–” And so she continued, while I stood silent.

Oh well, all that doesn’t matter now,–I’m in a hurry, I want to get this letter off to you tonight. Luckily there’s a letter-box a few yards away, so I won’t have to face much of those awful streets that are yelling now for England’s blood.

I went up and got my things together. I knew Bernd would get the letter I posted to him this morning telling him I was going to Frau Berg’s tomorrow, so I felt safe about seeing him, even if he didn’t come in to the Koseritzes before I left. But he did come in. He came just as I was going downstairs carrying my violin-case–how foolish and outside of life that music business seems now–and he seized my hand and took me into the drawingroom.

“Not in here, not in here!” cried the Grafin, getting up excitedly. “Not again, not ever again does an Englishwoman come into my drawingroom–“

Bernd went to her and drew her hand through his arm and led her politely to the door, which he shut after her. Then he came back to me. “You know, Chris,” he said, “about England?”

“Of course–just listen,” I answered, for in the street newsboys were yelling _Kriegserklarung Englands_, and there was a great dull roaring as of a multitude of wild beasts who have been wounded.

“You must go to your mother at once–tomorrow,” he said. “Before you’re noticed, before there’s been time to make your going difficult.”

I told him the Grafin had asked me to leave, and I was coming here tonight. He wasted no words on the Koseritzes, but was anxious lest Frau Berg mightn’t wish to take me in now. He said he would come with me and see that she did, and place me under her care as part of himself. “And tomorrow you run. You run to Switzerland, without telling Frau Berg or a soul where you are going,” he said. “You just go out, and don’t come back. I’ll settle with Frau Berg afterwards. You go to the Anhalter station–on your feet, Chris, as though you were going for a walk–and get into the first train for Geneva, Zurich, Lausanne, anywhere as long as it’s Switzerland. You’ll want all your intelligence. Have you money enough?”

“Yes, yes,” I said, feeling every second was precious and shouldn’t be wasted; but he opened my violin-case and put a lot of banknotes into it.

“And have you courage enough?” he asked, taking my face in his hands and looking into my eyes.

Oh the blessedness, the blessedness of being near him, of hearing and seeing him. What couldn’t I and wouldn’t I be and do for Bernd?

I told him I had courage enough, for I had him, and I wouldn’t fail in it, nor in patience.

“We shall want both, my Chris,” he said, his face against mine, “oh, my Chris–!”

And then the Colonel walked in.

“Herr Leutnant?” he said, in a raucous voice, as though he were ordering troops about.

At the sound of it Bernd instantly became rigid and stood at attention,–the perfect automaton, except that I was hanging on his arm.

“_Zur Befehl_, Herr Oberst,” he said.

“Take that woman’s hand off your arm, Herr Leutnant,” said the Colonel sharply.

Bernd gently put my hand off, and I put it back again.

“We are going to be married,” I said to the Colonel, “and perhaps I may not see Bernd for a long while after tonight.”

“No German officer marries an alien enemy,” snapped out the Colonel. “Remove the woman’s hand, Herr Leutnant.”

Again Bernd gently took my hand, but I held on. “This is good-bye, then?” I said, looking up at him and clinging to him.

He was facing the Colonel, rigid, his profile to me; but he did at that turn his head and look at me. “Remember–” he breathed.

“I forbid all talking, Herr Leutnant,” snapped the Colonel.

“Never mind him,” I whispered. “What does _he_ matter? Remember what, my Bernd, my own beloved?”

“Remember courage–patience–” he murmured quickly, under his breath.

“Silence!” shouted the Colonel. “Take that woman’s hand off your arm, Herr Leutnant. _Kreutzhimmeldonnerwetter nochmal_. Instantly.”

Bernd took my hand, and raising it to his face kissed it slowly and looked at me. I shall not forget that look.

The Colonel, who was very red and more like an infuriated machine than a human being, stepped on one side and pointed to the door. “Precede me,” he said. “On the instant. March.”

And Bernd went out as if on parade.

When shall we see each other again? Only a fortnight, one fortnight and two days, have we been lovers. But such things can’t be measured by time. They are of eternity. They are for always. If he is killed, and the rest of my years are empty, we still will have had the whole of life.

And now there’s tomorrow, and my getting away. You won’t be anxious, dear mother. You’ll wait quietly and patiently till I come. I’ll write to you on the way if I can. It may take several days to get to Switzerland, and it may be difficult to get out of Germany. I think I shall say I’m an American. Frau Berg, poor thing, will be relieved to find me gone. She only took me in tonight because of Bernd. While she was demurring on the threshold, when at last I got to her after a terrifying walk through the crowds,–for I was afraid they would notice me and see, as they always do, that I’m English,–his soldier servant brought her a note from him which just turned the scale for me. I’m afraid humanity wouldn’t have done it, nor pity, for patriotism and pity don’t go well together here.

I wonder if you’ll believe how calmly I’m going to bed and to sleep tonight, on the night of what might seem to be the ruin of my happiness. I’m glad I’ve written everything down that has happened this evening. It has got it so clear to me. I don’t want ever to forget one word or look of Bernd’s tonight. I don’t want ever to forget his patience, his dear look of untouchable dignity, when the Colonel, because he is in authority and can be cruel, at such a moment in the lives of two poor human beings was so unkind.

God bless and keep you, my mother,–my dear sweet mother.

Your Chris.

_Halle, Wednesday night, August 5th, 1914_.

I’ve got as far as this, and hope to get on in an hour or two. We’ve been stopped to let troop trains pass. They go rushing by one after the other, packed with waving, shouting soldiers, all of them with flowers stuck about them, in their buttonholes and caps. I’ve been watching them. There’s no end to them. And the enthusiasm of the crowds on the platform as they go by never slackens. I’m making for Zurich. I tried for Bale. but couldn’t get into Switzerland that way,–it is _abgesperrt_. I hadn’t much difficulty getting a ticket in Berlin. There was such confusion and such a rush at the ticket office that the man just asked me why I wanted to go; and I said I was American and rejoining my mother, and he flung me the ticket, only too glad to get rid of me. Don’t expect me till you see me, for we shall be held up lots of times, I’m sure.

I’m all right, mother darling. It was fearfully hot all day, squeezed tight in a third class carriage–no other class to be had. It’s cold and draughty in this station by comparison, and I wish I had my coat. I’ve brought nothing away with me, except my fiddle and what would go into its case, which was handkerchiefs. Bernd will see that my things get sent on, I expect. I locked everything up in my trunk,–your letters, and all my precious things. An official came along the train at Wittenberg, and after eyeing us all in my compartment suddenly held out his hand to me and said, “_Ihre Papiere_.” As I haven’t got any I told him about being an American, and as much family history not till then known to me as I could put into German. The other passengers listened eagerly, but not unfriendly. I think if you’re a woman, not being old helps one in Germany.

Now I’m going to get some hot coffee, for it has turned cold, I think, and post this. The one thing in life now that seems of desperate importance is to get to you. Oh, little mother, the moment when I reach you! It will be like getting to heaven, like getting at last, after many wanderings, and batterings, to the feet of God.

We _ought_ to be at Waldshut, on the frontier, tomorrow morning, but nobody can say for certain, because we may be held up for hours anywhere on the way.

Your Chris.

It’s a good thing being too tired to think.

_Wursburg, Thursday, August 6th, 1914, 4 p. m_.

I’ve only got as far as this. I was held up this time, not the train. It went on without me. Well, it doesn’t matter really; it only keeps me a little longer from you.

We stopped here about ten o’clock this morning, and I was so tired and stiff after the long night wedged in tight in the railway carriage that I got out to get some air and unstiffen myself, instinctively clutching my fiddle-case; and a Bavarian officer on the platform, watching the train with some soldiers, saw me and came over to me at once and demanded to see my papers.

“You are English,” he said; and when I said I was American he made a sound like Tcha.

I can’t tell you how horrid he was. He kept me standing for two hours in the blazing sun. You can imagine what I felt like when I saw my train going away without me. I asked if I mightn’t go into the shade, into the waiting-room, anywhere out of the terrible sun, for I was positively dripping after the first half hour of it, and his answer to that and to anything else I said in protest was always the same: “_Krieg ist Krieg. Mund halten_.”

There was no _reason_ why I shouldn’t be in the shade, except that he had power to prevent it. Well, he was very young, and I don’t suppose had ever had so much power before, so I suppose it was natural, he being German. But it was a most ridiculous position. I tried to see it from that side and be amused, but I wasn’t amused. While he went and telephoned to his superiors for instructions he put a soldier to guard me, and of course the people waiting on the platform for trains crowded to look. They decided that I was no doubt a spy, and certainly and manifestly one of the swinish English, they said. I wished then I couldn’t understand German. I stood there doing my best to think it was all very funny, but I was too tired to succeed, and hadn’t had any breakfast, and they were too rude. Then I tried to think it was just a silly dream, and that I had really got to Glion, and would wake up in a minute in a cool bedroom with the light coming through green shutters, and there’d be the lake, and the mountains opposite with snow on them, and you, my blessed, blessed little mother, calling me to breakfast. But it was too hot and distinct and horribly consistent to be a dream. And my clothes were getting wetter and wetter with the heat, and sticking to me.

I want to get to you. That’s all I think of now. There isn’t a train till tonight, and then only as far as Stuttgart. I expect this letter will get to you long before I do, because I may be kept at Stuttgart.

Another officer, higher up than the first one, let me go. He was more decent. He came and questioned me, and said that as he couldn’t prove I wasn’t American he preferred to risk believing that I was, rather than inconvenience a lady belonging to a friendly nation, or something like that. I don’t know what he said really, for by that time I was stupid because of the sun beating down so. But he let me go, and I came here to the restaurant to get something to drink. He came after me, to see that I was not further inconvenienced, he said, so I thought I’d tell him I was going to marry one of his fellow-officers. He changed completely then, when I told him Bernd’s name and regiment, and was really polite and really saw that I wasn’t further inconvenienced. Dear Bernd! Even just his name saves me.

I went to sleep on the bench in the waiting room after I had drunk a great deal of iced milk. My fiddle-case was the pillow. Poor fiddle. It seems such a useless, futile thing now.

It was so nice lying down flat, and not having to do anything. The waiter says there’s a place I can wash in, and I suppose I’d better go and wash after I’ve posted this, but I don’t want to particularly. I don’t want to do anything, particularly, except shut my eyes and wait till I get to you. But I think I’ll go out into the sun and warm myself up again, for it’s cold in here. Dear mother, I’m a great deal nearer to you than I’ve been for weeks. Won’t you borrow a map, and see where Wurzburg is?

Your Chris.

* * * * *

Transcriber’s note: The following is my attempt to convert the music found earlier in this book into Lilypond format. Search for “G minor Bach”.

\clef treble \key b \major \time 4/4 r8 d8 d8[ d8]
\bar “|”
d8[ c8[ b16]] c8[ a8]
\bar “|”

This was produced by a combination of examining other Lilypond files and on-line research. I know little of music reading or theory, so any errors are mine. I have made no attempt to create any Lilypond “wrapper” components that may be required.