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A Tramp Abroad by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

Part 10 out of 10

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castles stand upon as to the harder ones that lie
in those men's breasts, my child. THEY bid on books
writ in the learned tongues!--they can scarce read their own."

But Hildegarde's faith was in no wise shaken.
Bright and early she was on her way up the Neckar road,
as joyous as a bird.

Meantime Herr Givenaught and Herr Heartless were having
an early breakfast in the former's castle--the Sparrow's
Nest--and flavoring it with a quarrel; for although
these twins bore a love for each other which almost
amounted to worship, there was one subject upon which they
could not touch without calling each other hard names
--and yet it was the subject which they oftenest touched upon.

"I tell you," said Givenaught, "you will beggar yourself
yet with your insane squanderings of money upon
what you choose to consider poor and worthy objects.
All these years I have implored you to stop this foolish
custom and husband your means, but all in vain.
You are always lying to me about these secret benevolences,
but you never have managed to deceive me yet. Every time
a poor devil has been set upon his feet I have detected
your hand in it--incorrigible ass!"

"Every time you didn't set him on his feet yourself,
you mean. Where I give one unfortunate a little private lift,
you do the same for a dozen. The idea of YOUR swelling
around the country and petting yourself with the nickname
of Givenaught--intolerable humbug! Before I would be
such a fraud as that, I would cut my right hand off.
Your life is a continual lie. But go on, I have tried MY
best to save you from beggaring yourself by your riotous
charities--now for the thousandth time I wash my hands
of the consequences. A maundering old fool! that's
what you are."

"And you a blethering old idiot!" roared Givenaught,
springing up.

"I won't stay in the presence of a man who has no more
delicacy than to call me such names. Mannerless swine!"

So saying, Herr Heartless sprang up in a passion.
But some lucky accident intervened, as usual, to change
the subject, and the daily quarrel ended in the customary
daily living reconciliation. The gray-headed old
eccentrics parted, and Herr Heartless walked off to his
own castle.

Half an hour later, Hildegarde was standing in the presence
of Herr Givenaught. He heard her story, and said--

"I am sorry for you, my child, but I am very poor,
I care nothing for bookish rubbish, I shall not be there."

He said the hard words kindly, but they nearly broke poor
Hildegarde's heart, nevertheless. When she was gone
the old heartbreaker muttered, rubbing his hands--

"It was a good stroke. I have saved my brother's pocket
this time, in spite of him. Nothing else would have
prevented his rushing off to rescue the old scholar,
the pride of Germany, from his trouble. The poor child
won't venture near HIM after the rebuff she has received
from his brother the Givenaught."

But he was mistaken. The Virgin had commanded,
and Hildegarde would obey. She went to Herr Heartless
and told her story. But he said coldly--

"I am very poor, my child, and books are nothing to me.
I wish you well, but I shall not come."

When Hildegarde was gone, he chuckled and said--

"How my fool of a soft-headed soft-hearted brother would
rage if he knew how cunningly I have saved his pocket.
How he would have flown to the old man's rescue! But the
girl won't venture near him now."

When Hildegarde reached home, her father asked her how she
had prospered. She said--

"The Virgin has promised, and she will keep her word;
but not in the way I thought. She knows her own ways,
and they are best."

The old man patted her on the head, and smiled a doubting
smile, but he honored her for her brave faith, nevertheless.


Next day the people assembled in the great hall
of the Ritter tavern, to witness the auction--for
the proprietor had said the treasure of Germany's most
honored son should be bartered away in no meaner place.
Hildegarde and her father sat close to the books,
silent and sorrowful, and holding each other's hands.
There was a great crowd of people present. The bidding began--

"How much for this precious library, just as it stands,
all complete?" called the auctioneer.

"Fifty pieces of gold!"

"A hundred!"

"Two hundred."



"Five hundred!"

"Five twenty-five."

A brief pause.

"Five forty!"

A longer pause, while the auctioneer redoubled his persuasions.


A heavy drag--the auctioneer persuaded, pleaded,
implored--it was useless, everybody remained silent--

"Well, then--going, going--one--two--"

"Five hundred and fifty!"

This in a shrill voice, from a bent old man, all hung
with rags, and with a green patch over his left eye.
Everybody in his vicinity turned and gazed at him.
It was Givenaught in disguise. He was using a disguised
voice, too.

"Good!" cried the auctioneer. "Going, going--one--two--"

"Five hundred and sixty!"

This, in a deep, harsh voice, from the midst of the
crowd at the other end of the room. The people near
by turned, and saw an old man, in a strange costume,
supporting himself on crutches. He wore a long white beard,
and blue spectacles. It was Herr Heartless, in disguise,
and using a disguised voice.

"Good again! Going, going--one--"

"Six hundred!"

Sensation. The crowd raised a cheer, and some one
cried out, "Go it, Green-patch!" This tickled the audience
and a score of voices shouted, "Go it, Green-patch!"

"Going--going--going--third and last call--one--two--"

"Seven hundred!"

"Huzzah!--well done, Crutches!" cried a voice. The crowd
took it up, and shouted altogether, "Well done, Crutches!"

"Splendid, gentlemen! you are doing magnificently.
Going, going--"

"A thousand!"

"Three cheers for Green-patch! Up and at him, Crutches!"


"Two thousand!"

And while the people cheered and shouted, "Crutches" muttered,
"Who can this devil be that is fighting so to get these
useless books?--But no matter, he sha'n't have them.
The pride of Germany shall have his books if it beggars
me to buy them for him."

"Going, going, going--"

"Three thousand!"

"Come, everybody--give a rouser for Green-patch!"

And while they did it, "Green-patch" muttered, "This cripple
is plainly a lunatic; but the old scholar shall have
his books, nevertheless, though my pocket sweat for it."


"Four thousand!"


"Five thousand!"


"Six thousand!"


"Seven thousand!"


"EIGHT thousand!"

"We are saved, father! I told you the Holy Virgin
would keep her word!" "Blessed be her sacred name!"
said the old scholar, with emotion. The crowd roared,
"Huzza, huzza, huzza--at him again, Green-patch!"


"TEN thousand!" As Givenaught shouted this, his excitement
was so great that he forgot himself and used his
natural voice. He brother recognized it, and muttered,
under cover of the storm of cheers--

"Aha, you are there, are you, besotted old fool? Take
the books, I know what you'll do with them!"

So saying, he slipped out of the place and the auction was
at an end. Givenaught shouldered his way to Hildegarde,
whispered a word in her ear, and then he also vanished.
The old scholar and his daughter embraced, and the former said,
"Truly the Holy Mother has done more than she promised,
child, for she has give you a splendid marriage portion
--think of it, two thousand pieces of gold!"

"And more still," cried Hildegarde, "for she has give
you back your books; the stranger whispered me that he
would none of them--'the honored son of Germany must
keep them,' so he said. I would I might have asked
his name and kissed his hand and begged his blessing;
but he was Our Lady's angel, and it is not meet that we
of earth should venture speech with them that dwell above."

German Journals

The daily journals of Hamburg, Frankfort, Baden, Munich,
and Augsburg are all constructed on the same general plan.
I speak of these because I am more familiar with them
than with any other German papers. They contain no
"editorials" whatever; no "personals"--and this is rather
a merit than a demerit, perhaps; no funny-paragraph column;
no police-court reports; no reports of proceedings
of higher courts; no information about prize-fights
or other dog-fights, horse-races, walking-machines,
yachting-contents, rifle-matches, or other sporting
matters of any sort; no reports of banquet speeches;
no department of curious odds and ends of floating fact
and gossip; no "rumors" about anything or anybody;
no prognostications or prophecies about anything or anybody;
no lists of patents granted or sought, or any reference
to such things; no abuse of public officials, big or little,
or complaints against them, or praises of them; no religious
columns Saturdays, no rehash of cold sermons Mondays;
no "weather indications"; no "local item" unveiling of
what is happening in town--nothing of a local nature,
indeed, is mentioned, beyond the movements of some prince,
or the proposed meeting of some deliberative body.

After so formidable a list of what one can't find
in a German daily, the question may well be asked,
What CAN be found in it? It is easily answered: A child's
handful of telegrams, mainly about European national and
international political movements; letter-correspondence about
the same things; market reports. There you have it.
That is what a German daily is made of. A German
daily is the slowest and saddest and dreariest of the
inventions of man. Our own dailies infuriate the reader,
pretty often; the German daily only stupefies him.
Once a week the German daily of the highest class lightens
up its heavy columns--that is, it thinks it lightens
them up--with a profound, an abysmal, book criticism;
a criticism which carries you down, down, down into
the scientific bowels of the subject--for the German
critic is nothing if not scientific--and when you come
up at last and scent the fresh air and see the bonny
daylight once more, you resolve without a dissenting voice
that a book criticism is a mistaken way to lighten up
a German daily. Sometimes, in place of the criticism,
the first-class daily gives you what it thinks is a gay
and chipper essay--about ancient Grecian funeral customs,
or the ancient Egyptian method of tarring a mummy,
or the reasons for believing that some of the peoples
who existed before the flood did not approve of cats.
These are not unpleasant subjects; they are not
uninteresting subjects; they are even exciting subjects
--until one of these massive scientists gets hold of them.
He soon convinces you that even these matters can
be handled in such a way as to make a person low-spirited.

As I have said, the average German daily is made up
solely of correspondences--a trifle of it by telegraph,
the rest of it by mail. Every paragraph has the side-head,
"London," "Vienna," or some other town, and a date.
And always, before the name of the town, is placed a letter
or a sign, to indicate who the correspondent is, so that
the authorities can find him when they want to hang him.
Stars, crosses, triangles, squares, half-moons, suns
--such are some of the signs used by correspondents.

Some of the dailies move too fast, others too slowly.
For instance, my Heidelberg daily was always twenty-four
hours old when it arrived at the hotel; but one of my
Munich evening papers used to come a full twenty-four hours
before it was due.

Some of the less important dailies give one a tablespoonful
of a continued story every day; it is strung across
the bottom of the page, in the French fashion.
By subscribing for the paper for five years I judge that
a man might succeed in getting pretty much all of the story.

If you ask a citizen of Munich which is the best Munich
daily journal, he will always tell you that there is
only one good Munich daily, and that it is published
in Augsburg, forty or fifty miles away. It is like saying
that the best daily paper in New York is published out
in New Jersey somewhere. Yes, the Augsburg ALLGEMEINE
ZEITUNG is "the best Munich paper," and it is the one I
had in my mind when I was describing a "first-class
German daily" above. The entire paper, opened out, is not
quite as large as a single page of the New York HERALD.
It is printed on both sides, of course; but in such large
type that its entire contents could be put, in HERALD type,
upon a single page of the HERALD--and there would still
be room enough on the page for the ZEITUNG's "supplement"
and some portion of the ZEITUNG's next day's contents.

Such is the first-class daily. The dailies actually printed
in Munich are all called second-class by the public.
If you ask which is the best of these second-class
papers they say there is no difference; one is as good
as another. I have preserved a copy of one of them;
it is called the MUENCHENER TAGES-ANZEIGER, and bears
date January 25, 1879. Comparisons are odious,
but they need not be malicious; and without any malice
I wish to compare this journals of other countries.
I know of no other way to enable the reader to "size"
the thing.

A column of an average daily paper in America contains
from 1,800 to 2,500 words; the reading-matter in a
single issue consists of from 25,000 to 50,000 words.
The reading-matter in my copy of the Munich journal
consists of a total of 1,654 words --for I counted them.
That would be nearly a column of one of our dailies.
A single issue of the bulkiest daily newspaper in the
world--the London TIMES--often contains 100,000 words
of reading-matter. Considering that the DAILY ANZEIGER
issues the usual twenty-six numbers per month, the reading
matter in a single number of the London TIMES would keep it
in "copy" two months and a half.

The ANZEIGER is an eight-page paper; its page is one
inch wider and one inch longer than a foolscap page;
that is to say, the dimensions of its page are somewhere
between those of a schoolboy's slate and a lady's
pocket handkerchief. One-fourth of the first page is
taken up with the heading of the journal; this gives it
a rather top-heavy appearance; the rest of the first page
is reading-matter; all of the second page is reading-matter;
the other six pages are devoted to advertisements.

The reading-matter is compressed into two hundred
and five small-pica lines, and is lighted up with eight
pica headlines. The bill of fare is as follows: First,
under a pica headline, to enforce attention and respect,
is a four-line sermon urging mankind to remember that,
although they are pilgrims here below, they are yet heirs
of heaven; and that "When they depart from earth they soar
to heaven." Perhaps a four-line sermon in a Saturday paper
is the sufficient German equivalent of the eight or ten
columns of sermons which the New-Yorkers get in their
Monday morning papers. The latest news (two days old)
follows the four-line sermon, under the pica headline
"Telegrams"--these are "telegraphed" with a pair of
scissors out of the AUGSBURGER ZEITUNG of the day before.
These telegrams consist of fourteen and two-thirds lines
from Berlin, fifteen lines from Vienna, and two and five-eights
lines from Calcutta. Thirty-three small-pica lines news
in a daily journal in a King's Capital of one hundred and
seventy thousand inhabitants is surely not an overdose.
Next we have the pica heading, "News of the Day,"
under which the following facts are set forth: Prince
Leopold is going on a visit to Vienna, six lines;
Prince Arnulph is coming back from Russia, two lines;
the Landtag will meet at ten o'clock in the morning and
consider an election law, three lines and one word over;
a city government item, five and one-half lines;
prices of tickets to the proposed grand Charity Ball,
twenty-three lines--for this one item occupies almost
one-fourth of the entire first page; there is to be
a wonderful Wagner concert in Frankfurt-on-the-Main,
with an orchestra of one hundred and eight instruments,
seven and one-half lines. That concludes the first page.
Eighty-five lines, altogether, on that page,
including three headlines. About fifty of those lines,
as one perceives, deal with local matters; so the reporters
are not overworked.

Exactly one-half of the second page is occupied with
an opera criticism, fifty-three lines (three of them
being headlines), and "Death Notices," ten lines.

The other half of the second page is made up of two
paragraphs under the head of "Miscellaneous News."
One of these paragraphs tells about a quarrel between the Czar
of Russia and his eldest son, twenty-one and a half lines;
and the other tells about the atrocious destruction of a
peasant child by its parents, forty lines, or one-fifth
of the total of the reading-matter contained in the paper.

Consider what a fifth part of the reading-matter of an American
daily paper issued in a city of one hundred and seventy
thousand inhabitants amounts to! Think what a mass it is.
Would any one suppose I could so snugly tuck away such a
mass in a chapter of this book that it would be difficult
to find it again in the reader lost his place? Surely not.
I will translate that child-murder word for word,
to give the reader a realizing sense of what a fifth
part of the reading-matter of a Munich daily actually
is when it comes under measurement of the eye:

"From Oberkreuzberg, January 21st, the DONAU ZEITUNG
receives a long account of a crime, which we shortened
as follows: In Rametuach, a village near Eppenschlag,
lived a young married couple with two children, one of which,
a boy aged five, was born three years before the marriage.
For this reason, and also because a relative at Iggensbach
had bequeathed M400 ($100) to the boy, the heartless
father considered him in the way; so the unnatural
parents determined to sacrifice him in the cruelest
possible manner. They proceeded to starve him slowly
to death, meantime frightfully maltreating him--as the
village people now make known, when it is too late.
The boy was shut in a hole, and when people passed
by he cried, and implored them to give him bread.
His long-continued tortures and deprivations destroyed
him at last, on the third of January. The sudden (sic)
death of the child created suspicion, the more so as the
body was immediately clothed and laid upon the bier.
Therefore the coroner gave notice, and an inquest was held
on the 6th. What a pitiful spectacle was disclosed then!
The body was a complete skeleton. The stomach and intestines
were utterly empty; they contained nothing whatsoever.
The flesh on the corpse was not as thick as the back of
a knife, and incisions in it brought not one drop of blood.
There was not a piece of sound skin the size of a dollar
on the whole body; wounds, scars, bruises, discolored
extravasated blood, everywhere--even on the soles of
the feet there were wounds. The cruel parents asserted
that the boy had been so bad that they had been obliged
to use severe punishments, and that he finally fell over
a bench and broke his neck. However, they were arrested
two weeks after the inquest and put in the prison at Deggendorf."

Yes, they were arrested "two weeks after the inquest."
What a home sound that has. That kind of police briskness
rather more reminds me of my native land than German
journalism does.

I think a German daily journal doesn't do any good to
speak of, but at the same time it doesn't do any harm.
That is a very large merit, and should not be lightly
weighted nor lightly thought of.

The German humorous papers are beautifully printed upon
fine paper, and the illustrations are finely drawn,
finely engraved, and are not vapidly funny, but deliciously so.
So also, generally speaking, are the two or three terse
sentences which accompany the pictures. I remember one
of these pictures: A most dilapidated tramp is ruefully
contemplating some coins which lie in his open palm.
He says: "Well, begging is getting played out. Only about
five marks ($1.25) for the whole day; many an official
makes more!" And I call to mind a picture of a commercial
traveler who is about to unroll his samples:

MERCHANT (pettishly).--NO, don't. I don't want to buy anything!

DRUMMER.--If you please, I was only going to show you--

MERCHANT.--But I don't wish to see them!

DRUMMER (after a pause, pleadingly).--But do you you mind
letting ME look at them! I haven't seen them for three weeks!

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