Abroad with the Jimmies by Lilian Bell
CHAPTER I. OUR HOUSE-BOAT AT HENLEY
CHAPTER II. PARIS
CHAPTER III. STRASBURG AND BADEN-BADEN
CHAPTER IV. STUTTGART, NUREMBERG, AND BAYREUTH
CHAPTER V. THE PASSION PLAY
CHAPTER VI. MUNICH TO THE ACHENSEE
CHAPTER VII. DANCING IN THE AUSTRIAN TYROL
CHAPTER VIII. SALZBURG
CHAPTER IX. ISCHL
CHAPTER X. VIENNA
CHAPTER XI. MY FIRST INTERVIEW WITH TOLSTOY
CHAPTER XII. AT ONE OF THE TOLSTOY RECEPTIONS
CHAPTER XIII. SHOPPING EXPERIENCES
From the Painting by Oliver Dennett Grover]
Abroad with the Jimmies
“THE LOVE AFFAIRS OF AN OLD MAID,” “THE EXPATRIATES,” ETC.
WARD, LOCK &CO., LIMITED,
NEW YORK &MELBOURNE.
THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO My Dear Father, WHOSE HIGH TYPE OF
PATRIOTISM, STEADFAST LOYALTY TO THE GOVERNMENT, AND DEVOTION TO HIS
FAMILY HAVE TAUGHT ME WHEREIN LIE THE IDEALS OF LIFE.
If the critical public had cared to snub Mr. and Mrs. Jimmie and
Bee, I, who am a fighting champion of theirs, would never have run the
risk of boring it by a further chronicle of their travels. But from a
careful survey of my mail, I may say that the present volume of their
doings and undoings is a direct result of the friendships they formed
in “As Seen by Me,” and has almost literally been written by request.
With which statement, as the flushed and nervous singer, who
responds to friendly clappings, comes forward, bows, sings, and
retires, so do I, and the curtain falls on the Jimmies and Bee and me,
all kissing our hands to the gallery.
CHAPTER I. OUR HOUSE-BOAT AT HENLEY
It speaks volumes for an amiability I have always claimed for myself
through sundry fierce disputes on the subject with my sister, that,
even after two years of travel in Europe with her and Mr. and Mrs.
Jimmie, they should still wish for my company for a journey across
France and Germany to Russia. Bee says it speaks volumes for the
tempers of the Jimmies, but then Bee is my sister, or to put it more
properly, I am Bee's sister, and what woman is a heroine to her own
In any event I am not. Bee thinks I am a creature of feeble
intelligence who must be “managed.” Bee loves to “manage” people, and
I, who love to watch her circuitous, diplomatic, velvety, crooked way
to a straight end, allow myself to be so “managed;” and so after safely
disposing of Billy in the grandmotherly care of Mamma for another six
months, Bee and I gaily took ship and landed safely at the door of the
Cecil, having been escorted up from Southampton by Jimmie.
While repeated journeys to Europe lose the thrill of expectant
uncertainty which one's first held, yet there is something very
pleasing about “going back.” And so we were particularly glad
again to join forces with our friends the Jimmies and travel with them,
for they, like Bee and me, travel aimlessly and are never hampered with
Everybody seems to know that we do not mean business, and nobody has
ever dared to ask whether our intentions were serious or not.
In this frame of mind we floated over to England and had a fortnight
of “the season” in London. But this soon palled on us, and we fell into
the idle mood of waiting for something to turn up.
One Sunday morning Bee and Mrs. Jimmie and I were sitting at a
little table near the entrance to the Cecil Hotel, when Jimmie came out
of a side door and sat down in front of us, leaning his elbows on the
table and grinning at us in a suspicious silence. We all waited for him
to begin, but he simply sat and smoked and grinned.
“Well! Well!” I said, impatiently, “What now?”
You would know that Jimmie was an American by the way he smokes. He
simply eats up cigars, inhales them, chews them. The end of his cigar
blazes like a danger signal and breathes like an engine. He can hold
his hands and feet still, but his nervousness crops out in his smoking.
Finally, exasperated by his continued silence, Bee said, severely:
“Jimmie, have you anything up your sleeve? If so, speak out!”
“Well!” said Jimmie, brushing the cigar ashes off his wife's skirt,
“I thought I'd take you all out to Henley this morning to look at the
“House-boat!” shrieked Bee and I in a whisper, clutching Jimmie by
the sleeve and lapel of his coat and giving him an ecstatic shake.
“Are we going to have a house-boat?” asked Bee.
“We!” said Jimmie. “I am going to have a house-boat, and I am
going to take my wife. If you are good perhaps she will ask you out to
tea one afternoon.”
“How many staterooms are there, Jimmie? Can we invite people to stay
with us over night?” demanded Bee.
“You cannot,” said Jimmie, firmly. “I said a house-boat, not a house
“I shall ask the duke,” said Bee, clearing her throat in a pleased
way. “Can't I, Mrs. Jimmie?”
“Certainly, dear. Ask any one you like.”
“If you do,” growled Jimmie, who hates the duke because he wears
gloves in hot weather, “I'll invite the chambermaid and the head-waiter
of this hotel.”
“We ought to be starting,” said Mrs. Jimmie, pacifically, and we
started and went and arrived.
As we were driving to the station I noticed all the way along, and I
had noticed them ever since we had been in London, large capital H's on
a white background, posted on stone walls, street corners, lampposts,
and occasionally on the sidewalks.
“What are those H's for, Jimmie?” I asked. To which he replied with
this record-breaking joke:
“Those are the H's that Englishmen have been dropping for
generations, and being characteristic of this solid nation, they thus
I forgave Jimmie a good deal for that joke.
At the pier at Henley a man met us with a little boat and rowed us
up the river, past dozens of house-boats moored along the bank.
The river had been boomed off for the races, which were to begin the
next day, with little openings here and there for small boats to cross
and recross between races. Private house-boat flags, Union Jacks,
bunting, and plants made all the house-boats gay, except ours, which
looked bare and forlorn and guiltless of decoration of any sort. It was
fortunately situated within plain view of where the races would finish,
and by using glasses we could see the start.
Several crews were out practising. One shell which flashed past us
held a crew in orange and black sweaters. We had previously noticed
that there was no American flag on any of the house-boats.
Orange and black! We nearly stood up in our excitement.
“What's your college?” yelled Jimmie, hoping they were Americans.
“Princeton!” they yelled back.
With that Jimmie ripped open a long pole he was carrying, and the
stars and stripes floated out over our shell. The Princeton crew
shipped their oars, snatched off their caps, and responded by giving
their college yell, ending with “Old Glo-ree! Old Glo-ree!! Old
Glo-ree!!!” yelled three times with all the strength of their deep
That little glimpse of America made Bee and me shiver as if with
ague, while Jimmie's chin quivered and he muttered something about
“darned smoke in his eyes.”
“Jimmie,” I said, excitedly, “they are rowing toward us to let us
speak if we want to.”
Jimmie waved his hand to them and they pulled up alongside. We
exchanged enthusiastic “How-do-do's” with them, although we had never
seen one of them before.
“Are you going to row to-morrow?” asked Jimmie.
“If you are we will decorate the house-boat with orange and black,”
Their faces fell.
“We are only the Track Team,” said one. “Princeton has no crew, you
“No crew,” I cried. “Why not?”
“Well, we haven't any more water than we need to wash in, and we
cannot row on the campus.”
“Too many trees,” said another.
“No water,” I cried, “then won't you ever have a crew?”
“Not until some one gives us a million dollars to dam up a natural
formation that is there and turn the river into it,” said one.
“I'd give it to you in a minute, if I had it, the way I feel now,”
“Well, don't we send crews over here to row?” asked Bee.
“Cornell sent one, but they were beaten,” said the Captain with a
“But you wouldn't be beaten,” said Bee, decidedly, with her eye on
“Come to dinner, all of you, to-morrow night,” I said, genially.
Mrs. Jimmie looked frightened, but Bee and Jimmie so heartily
seconded my generosity with Jimmie's boat that she resigned herself.
“Wear your sweaters,” commanded Bee.
“To dinner?” they said.
“Certainly!” said Bee, decidedly. “That's the only way people will
know we are in it. We'll wear shirt-waists to keep you in countenance.”
They accepted with alacrity and we parted with mutual esteem.
“I wonder what their names are,” said Mrs. Jimmie, reproachfully.
“And they don't know our boat,” I added.
“Hi, there!” Jimmie shouted back, “that's our boat yonder—the
And with that they all struck up “Lu, Lu, How I love my Lu,” at
which Bee blushed most unnecessarily, I thought, and murmured:
“How well a handsome athlete looks with bare arms.”
“And bare legs,” added Jimmie, genially.
We found so much to do on the house-boat, and Jimmie had brought so
much bunting and so many flags, that Bee volunteered to go back to the
Cecil and have our clothes packed up by Mrs. Jimmie's maid, while we
decorated the house-boat.
The next morning bright and early we rowed down to the landing for
Bee. Such a change had taken place on the Thames in twenty-four hours!
There were hundreds upon hundreds of row-boats bearing girls in duck
and men in flannels, and a funny sight it was to Americans to see fully
half of them with the man lying at his ease on cushions at the end of
the boat, while the girls did the rowing. English girls are very clever
at punting, and look quite pretty standing up balancing in the boats
and using the long pole with such skill.
It may be sportsmanlike, but it cannot fail to look unchivalrous,
especially to the Southern-born of Americans, to see how willing
Englishmen are to permit their women to wait upon them even before
they are married!
American women are not very popular with English women, possibly
because we get so many of their Englishmen away from them, and we are
popular with only certain of Englishmen, perhaps the more susceptible,
possibly the more broad-minded, but certain it was that as we rowed
along we heard whispers from the English boats of “Americans” in much
the same tone in which we say “Niggers.”
The river was literally alive with these small craft, going up and
down, gathering their parties together and paying friendly little
visits to the neighbouring house-boats, while gay parasols, striped
shirt-waists, white flannels, sailor hats, house-boat flags, and gay
coloured boat cushions, made the river flash in the sunshine like an
electric lighted rainbow.
Jimmie had spared no expense in illuminating and decorating the
house-boat. He had the American shield in electric lights surmounted by
the American Eagle holding in his beak a chain of electric bulbs which
were festooned on each side down to the end of the boat and running
down the poles to the water's edge. A band of red, white, and blue
electric lights formed the balustrade of the upper deck, with a row of
brilliant scarlet geraniums on the railing. The house-boat next to ours
was called “The Primrose,” and when they saw our American emblem they
sent over a polite note asking where we got it, and at once ordered a
St. George and the Dragon in electric lights, which never came until
the Friday following, when all the races were over. Another house-boat,
three boats from ours, was owned by a wealthy brewer and had a pavilion
built on the land back of where it was moored and connected by a broad
gangplank with the boat. They used this pavilion for dancing and
vaudeville, but although it was very nice and we were immensely
entertained, still we all decided that it was not much like a
house-boat to be so much of the time on land.
Each morning we would be wakened by the lapping of the water between
the boat and the bank, caused by the early swims of the men from the
neighbouring boats. The weather was just cool enough and just warm
enough to be delightful. They told us that it generally rained during
Henley week, but some one must have been a mascot, and we, with our
usual becoming modesty, announced that it must have been our Eagle. The
English, however, did not take kindly to that little pleasantry, and
only said, “Fancy” whenever we got it off.
The dining-room was too small to hold such a large dinner as we gave
the night we entertained the Princeton Track Team, so we had the table
spread on the upper deck in plain view of the craft on the river and
our neighbours on each side. Jimmie had the piano brought up too, when
he heard that two of them belonged to the Glee Club and could sing.
It seemed such a simple thing to us to take up an upright baby grand
piano that we never thought we were doing anything out of the common,
until we looked down over the railing and saw that no less than fifty
boats had ranged themselves in front of our house-boat, with as much
curiosity in our proceedings as if we were going to have a trained
animal exhibit. There were two English women dining with us, and I
privately asked one of them what under the sun was the matter.
“Oh! It is nothing much,” she replied. “We cannot help thinking that
you Americans are so queer.”
“Queer, or not!” I replied, stoutly, “we have things just as we want
them wherever we go. If we wanted to bring the punt up here and put it
on the dining-table filled with flowers, Jimmie would let us,” to which
she replied, “Fancy!”
The table was very pretty that night. We had orange and black satin
ribbon down the middle of it and across the sides, finishing in big
bows. The centrepiece was made of black-eyed Susans. We women wore
orange and black wherever we could, and the men wore their sweaters as
they had been instructed. The dinner was slow in coming on, so between
courses we got up and danced. Then the men sang college songs, much to
the scandalisation of our English friends on the next boats, who seemed
to regard dinner as a sacrament. Peters, the butler, would lie in wait
for us while we were dancing, to whisper as we careered past him:
“Miss, the fowl is getting cold,” or “Miss, the ice cream is getting
warm,” but he did it once too often, so Bee waltzed on his foot.
Whereat he limped off and we saw no more of him.
Soon the professional entertainers who ply up and down the river
during Henley week discovered the “Ammurikins,” as they called us, and
we had our first encounter that night with the Thames nigger, a
creature painfully unlike that delightful commodity at home. The Thames
nigger is generally a cockney covered with blackening, which only
alters his skin and does not change his accent. To us it sounded
deliciously funny to hear this self-styled African call us “Leddies,”
and say “Halways” and say “'Aven't yer, now?” They sang in a very
indifferent manner, but were rather quick in their retorts.
Our large uninvited, but welcome audience, who had drawn so near
that they could not use their oars and only pulled their boats along by
the gunwales of the other boats, laughed at these witticisms rather
inquiringly. Always slightly unconvinced, they seemed to have no inward
desire to laugh, but yielded politely to the requirements, owing to the
niggers' harlequin costume and blackened face.
To the student of human nature there is nothing so exquisitely
ridiculous on the face of the globe as the typical British audience, at
a show which appeals humourously to the intellect rather than to the
eye. For this reason the Princetonians were indefatigable in their
conversation with the niggers, for the electric lights of the Lulu
illuminated the faces of our audience, which soon, in addition to the
strolling craft of the river, numbered many canoes from the
neighbouring house-boats, who were attracted by the gaiety and lights,
thus forming a typical river audience, thoroughly mixed, seemingly on
pleasure bent, good humoured, well behaved, polite, stolid, British.
Jimmie is hospitable to the core of his being, and nothing pleased
him better than to keep “open house-boat” for the entire floating
population of the Thames during Henley week. Every afternoon it was
particularly the custom about tea time for boats containing music hall
quartettes or a boatload of Geisha girls to pull up in front of the
house-boat and regale the occupants with the latest music hall songs.
In one end of their boat is a little melodion apparently built for
river travel, for I never saw one anywhere else. They have in addition
velvet collection-boxes on long poles whereby to reach the upper decks
of the house-boat for our coins. These things look for all the world
like the old-fashioned collection-boxes which the deacons used to pass
There was one set of Geisha girls who were masked below the eyes,
one of whom sang what she fondly imagined was a typical American song
calculated to captivate her American audience. She sang through her
nose, the better to imitate the nasal voices which to the British mind
is the national characteristic of the American, and her song had the
refrain beginning “For I am an Ammurikin Girl,” telling how this
“Ammurikin Girl” had come to England to marry a title and had finally
secured an Earl, and ending with the statement that she had done all
this “like the true Ammurikin Girl.” This song, especially the nasal
part, was received with such ill-concealed joy by our usual stolid
river audience that one afternoon I took it upon myself to avenge our
house-boat family for these truly British politenesses. So I went to
the railing after our audience had thoroughly collected and said
through my nose:
“Won't you please sing that pretty song of yours about the
'Ammurikin Girl?' You know we are 'Ammurikin girls,' and we do so love
the way you take off our 'Ammurikin' voices.”
At the same time I dropped a lot of small silver into their boat
without waiting for the collection-box. I was delighted to see that
some of it went overboard, for their consternation at that and at my
having turned the tables on them put them into such a flutter that they
couldn't sing at all, and they pulled away, saying that they would be
back in half an hour. Our audience, too, suddenly remembered urgent
business a mile or two up the river, and scattered as if by magic.
Jimmie was deeply pleased by this rencontre, for the
prejudice of the middle-class Britons (for the sake of occasionally
being moderate, I will say middle class) against all classes of
Americans is just about as deeply rooted and ineradicable as the
prejudice of middle-class Americans against everything that flies the
Union Jack. The travelled upper classes are inclined to be more
moderate in their prejudice and to see fit either for political or
social reasons to affect a friendship. But seriously I myself question
if there is a nation more thoroughly foreign to America than the
This, I take it, is because the middle classes of both countries are
not abreast of the times, and take little notice of the trend of
events. They are still influenced by the prejudice engendered by the
wars of a century ago, which has partly been inherited and partly
enhanced by marriages with England's hereditary foes, who take refuge
with us in such numbers.
However, the people could be influenced through their sympathies,
and in the to-be-expected event of the death of England's queen, or a
calamity of national importance on our own shores, the sympathy which
would be extended from each to each, through the medium of the press,
would do more to educate the masses along lines of sympathy between the
two great English-speaking nations than any amount of statecraft or
diplomacy. The people must be taught by the way of the heart, and
touched by their emotions. Their brains would follow.
As it is, the differences still exist. Take, for instance, their
language, from which ours has so far departed and become so much more
pure English, and has been enriched by so many clean-cut and
descriptive adjectives that certain sentences in English and in
American will be totally unintelligible to each other. On one occasion,
going with a party of eight English people to the races, Bee looked out
of the car window at the landscape, and said:
“How thoroughly finished England is. Here we are running through a
hill country where they are so complete and so neat in their landscape
that they even sod the cuts. It is like going through a terraced
It may be that the phrase she used was academic, but I am at least
reasonable in thinking that the average American would know what she
meant. Not one of those eight English people caught even the shadow of
her meaning, and when she explained what she meant by “sod your cuts,”
they said that she meant “turf your cuttings.” She replied that
“cutting” with us was a greenhouse term and meant a part clipped from a
plant or a tree. They said the word “cut” meant a cut of beef or
mutton, to which she retorted that we might also use the term “cut” in
a butcher shop, but when travelling in a hill country and looking out
of the train window it meant the mountain cut. They said they never
heard of the word sod, except used as a noun. She replied that she
never heard the word “turf” used as a verb. We continued in an amiable
wrangle which finally brought out the fact which even the most
obstinate of them was obliged to admit, and that is that when traced to
its proper root, the Americans speak purer English than the English.
House-boat hospitality we discovered to be conducted on a very
irregular plan, for it appeared that the casual afternoon caller always
meant tea and sometimes dinner. This is all very well if the people
happen to be agreeable and the food holds out, but even I, the least
conservative of the three women, am conservative about invitations to
guests, nothing being more offensive to me than to be politely forced
into a dinner invitation to people I don't want. Another thing, it kept
us constantly scurrying for more to eat, as house-boat provisions are
all furnished by firms in town, and house-boat owners are expected to
let the purveyors know beforehand how many guests to provide for at
I like English people very much, but I cannot help observing that
some who are very well born and are supposed to be exceedingly well
bred, take advantage of American hospitality in a way in which they
would never dream of pursuing with their English hosts. For instance,
Americans were very free in remaining so dangerously close to the
dinner hour that we were pushed into inviting them to remain, but never
once did they make it obligatory to invite them to remain over night,
while no less than half a dozen times during Henley week our English
friends said to Jimmie:
“I say, old man, beastly work getting back to town. Can't you put us
up for the night?”
As this occurred when every stateroom was filled, even Bee's sacred
duke being among the number of our guests, these self-invited ones
remained in every instance when they knew that it would force Jimmie to
sleep upon a bench in the dining-room and be seriously inconvenienced.
Toward the end of the week this supreme selfishness which I have
noticed so often in otherwise worthy English gentlemen annoyed me to
such an extent that with one Englishman who had thus insisted upon
dispossessing Jimmie for the second time I resolved to make a test. So
I said to him:
“Of course it's a little hard on Jimmie, your way of turning him out
of his stateroom to sleep on the table, so, as turn about is fair play,
if you've quite decided to remain over night, my sister and I will let
you have our room and we will sleep on the benches in the dining-room.
Jimmie doesn't get much sleep you know—we keep it up so late, and of
course you always wake him up when you turn out for your swim at six
o'clock in the morning, so if you will promise not to disturb us until
seven, and go out through the kitchen for your swim, you can have our
room for to-night.”
“Oh, I say!” he replied, “that's awfully jolly of you. It is
a beastly shame to turn the old man out of his bed two nights in one
week, but your boat is the only one on the river where a fellow feels
at home, you know. Besides that, I couldn't get back to town before ten
o'clock to-night if I started now, and where would I get my dinner? And
if I wait to get my dinner here, I'd either have to sleep at Henley or
be half the night in getting home. So you see I've got to stay, and
thanks awfully for letting me have your room.”
Bee, who was standing near, pushed her veil up and cleared her
throat. She looked at me.
“Did you ever in all your life?” she said.
“No, I never did,” I said. “I never, never did.”
“Never did what?” said the English gentleman.
“I never saw anybody like you in a book or out of it, but I suppose
there are ten thousand more just as good-looking as you are; just as
tall and well built and selfish.”
“Selfish,” he blurted out with a very red face. “What is there
selfish about me, I should like to know? You offered me your room,
“Yes, she offered it,” said Bee, sitting on a little table and
tucking her feet on a chair. “She offered it to you just to see if
you'd take it—just to see how far you would go. You haven't
known my sister very long, have you? Why, she'd no more let you have
her room than I would let Jimmie turn himself out a second time for
you. If you stay to-night you'll be the one to sleep in the
dining-room on that narrow bench.”
“Oh, I say,” he said, turning still redder, “I can't do that, you
know. It would be so very uncomfortable. It is very narrow.”
“You can lie on your side,” said Bee. “You aren't too thick through
that way, and we three women have decided to allow Jimmie to go to bed
early to-night. We'll make it as comfortable as we can for you, and
you'll get fully three hours' sleep, perhaps four. It is all Jimmie
would get if he slept there.”
“Why, I don't believe that the old man will let me sleep there. I
think he'd rather I had his room. He and his wife were so awfully good
to me when I was in America. I stayed two months at their place and
they entertained me royally.”
“Where's your wife?” I said, suddenly.
“She's in our town house,” he answered.
“And that's in Upper Brooke Street?” said Bee.
“And where's your sister, the Honourable Eleanor?” I said.
“What's that got to do with it?” said our friend.
“Nothing,” I said. “I just wondered if you'd noticed that, every
single time we have been in London for the past two years, neither your
sister nor your wife has ever called on Mrs. Jimmie; although, as you
have just admitted, you stayed two months with them in America. All
that you have done in return for the mountain trip that Jimmie arranged
for you, taking you in a private car to hunt big game, taking you
fishing and arranging for you to see everything in America that you
wanted, when you know that Jimmie isn't rich judged by the largest
fortunes in America—all, all I say, that you have done for him in
return for everything he did for you was to put him up at your club and
take them to the races twice, and even though you saw your wife at a
distance you never introduced them, although once you stopped and spoke
to her. Now, what do you think of yourself?”
“I think—I think,” he stammered.
“No, you don't think,” said Bee. “You flatter yourself.”
He stared at us helplessly, but we were enjoying ourselves too
maliciously to let up on him.
“I never was talked to so in my life,” he said.
“No, perhaps not,” I said, pleasantly. “But it has done you good,
hasn't it? Confess now, don't you feel a little better?”
His face, which was very red at all times, grew a little more claret
coloured, and he evidently wanted very much to get angry, but Bee and I
were so very cheerful, almost affectionate in our manner of mentally
skinning him, that he couldn't seem to pull himself together.
“He'll never stay after that,” said Bee, complacently, to me
afterward. But he did stay, and although Jimmie was furious, he
had every intention of letting him have his bedroom again, which Bee
and I so fiercely resented that we locked Jimmie in his stateroom,
where, after a few feeble pounds on the door, he resigned himself to
his fate and got the only night's sleep that he had in the eight days
Whether the Honourable Edwardes Edwardes slept on his side on the
bench or on his back on the dinner-table, or stood up all night, we
never knew. He was a little cross at breakfast, and complained of
feeling “a bit stiff.” But nobody petted or sympathised with him or ran
for the liniment. So by luncheon time he was drinking Jimmie's
champagne again with the utmost good humour.
One of the most amusing things we did was to go after dinner in
little boats and form part of the river audience in front of some other
house-boat where something was going on,—crowded in between other
boats, having to ship our oars and pull ourselves along by our
neighbours' gunwales, getting locked for perhaps half an hour, until
suddenly our Geisha girls or niggers would start the cry “Up river,”
when away we would all go, entertainers and entertained, pulling up the
river to the lights of another house-boat, enjoying the music for a few
minutes and then slipping away in the darkness toward the lights of
Henley village, or perhaps back to the Lulu.
Once or twice a boat would capsize, giving the occupants a severe
wetting, but as river costumes are always washable and the river is not
deep, no harm ever seemed to come of these aquatic diversions. Once,
however, it was brought near home in this wise.
Jimmie invited his wife to go canoeing. I went canoeing once on the
Kennebunk River with an Indian to paddle, and after watching the
manoeuvres of the paddlers on the Thames and the antics of those
wretched little boats, I made the solemn promise with myself never to
trust any one less skilled than an Indian again. But Jimmie, while he
is not more conceited than most people, is what you might call
confident, and he would have been all right in this instance, if he had
noticed that a race had just been rowed and that the swell from the
racers was just rippling over the boom and creeping gently toward the
house-boat. The canoe was still at the house-boat steps. They were both
seated comfortably and just about to paddle away when a swell came
alongside and tilted the canoe in such a succession of little
unexpected rolls that our two friends, in their anxiety to hold on to
something which was not there to hold on to, overbalanced, and the
canoe shipped enough water to submerge their legs entirely, giving them
a nice cold hip bath.
Mrs. Jimmie screamed, and we all rushed down and fished her out of
the boat dripping like a mermaid and thoroughly chilled. Bee took her
in to warm her with a brandy and to hurry her into dry clothes, while I
remained to see what I could do for Jimmie, who was very wet, very mad,
and very uncommunicative.
“What a pity,” I remarked, pleasantly, “that you are so thin. Shall
I come down and hold the boat still while you get out? Wet flannel has
such a clinging effect.”
Jimmie is a good deal of a gentleman, so he made no reply. I was
just turning away, resolving in a Christian spirit to order him a hot
Scotch, when I heard a splash and a remark which was full of
exclamation points, asterisks, and other things, and looking down I saw
the canoe bottom upwards, with Jimmie clinging to it indignantly
blowing a large quantity of Thames water from his mouth in a manner
which led me to know that the sooner I got away from there the better
it would be for me. I kept out of his way until dinner-time, and only
permitted him to suspect that I saw his disappearance by politely
ignoring the fact that all his and Mrs. Jimmie's lingerie, to speak
delicately, was floating about, hanging from pegs in unused portions of
the house-boat. My silence was so suspicious that finally Jimmie could
stand it no longer.
“Did you see me go down?” he demanded.
“I did not,” I answered him, firmly, whereat he released my elbow
and I edged around to the other side of the table.
“But I saw you come up,” I said, pleasantly, “and I saw what you
“Saw?” said Jimmie. “Saw what I said?”
“Certainly! There was enough blue light around your remarks for me
to have seen them in the dark.”
“Well, what have you got to say about it?” he said, resigning
“Only this, and that is that this afternoon's performance in that
canoe was the only instance in my life where I thoroughly approved of
the workings of Providence. Ordinarily the good die young and the
guilty one escapes.”
“Is that all?” growled Jimmie.
“Yes,” I said, hesitatingly, “I think it is. Did I mention before
that I thought you were thin?”
“You certainly did,” said Jimmie.
“Your legs,” I went on, but just then I was interrupted by the
reappearance of a little German musician, who had floated up the river
two days before in a white flannel suit without change of linen and who
played accompaniments of our singers so well that Jimmie permitted him
to stay on without either actually inviting him or showing him that his
presence was not any particular addition to our enjoyment.
Jimmie objected violently to some of his sentiments, which the
German was tactless enough to keep thrusting in our faces. He was as
offensive to our English friends on the subject of England as he was to
us concerning America, but one of the Englishmen sang and couldn't play
a note, so Jimmie let the German stay, because Miss Wemyss wanted him
Although secretly I think Jimmie and I hated him, we are sometimes
polite enough not to say everything we think, but at any rate there
never was a moment when Jimmie and I wouldn't leave off attacking each
other, hoping for an opportunity for a fight with the German, which
thus far he had escaped by the skin of his teeth.
“Your sister sent me to tell you that there is a house-boat up near
the Island flying the American flag and we are all going up there to
see it. Would you like to go?”
“Thanks so much for your invitation,” said Jimmie, “but I've got
some guests coming in half an hour, so I can't go.”
“I'll go. Just wait until I get my hat.”
One boat contained Bee, Mrs. Jimmie, and two Princeton men, and the
other Miss Wemyss, the German, Miss Wemyss' fiance, Sir George, and me.
Side by side the two skiffs pulled up the river to the Island, where on
a very small house-boat named the Queen a large American flag
was flying and beneath it were crossed a smaller American flag and the
Sir George, who is one of the nicest Englishmen we ever met, pulled
off his cap and cried out:
“All hats off to the Stars and Stripes!”
In an instant every hat was whipped off, ours included, although
there was some wrestling with hat-pins before we could get them off.
All, did I say? All—all except the German! He folded his arms across
his breast and kept his hat on.
“Didn't you hear Sir George?” I said to him.
He had a nervous twitching of the eye at all times, and when he was
excited the muscles of his face all jerked in unison like Saint Vitus'
dance. At my question every muscle in his face, as the Princeton man in
Bee's boat said, “began working over time.”
“Yes, I heard him. Of course I heard him,” he said.
“Then take your hat off!” said Miss Wemyss.
“Yes, take your hat off!” came in a roar from all the others, none
being louder and more peremptory than the Englishman's.
“I will not take my hat off to that dirty rag,” he said. “It means
nothing to me. The flag of any country means nothing to me. I can go
into a shop and buy that red, white, and blue! That is only a rag—that
Sir George leaned over with blazing eyes and took him by the collar.
“Don't do that, George,” said Miss Wemyss, excitedly. “His linen is
not fit to touch.”
“Let's duck him,” said the Princeton man.
But Mrs. Jimmie interfered, saying in a quiet voice, although her
hands were trembling:
“Don't do anything to him until we take him back to the house-boat.
Remember he is my guest.”
At this the German smiled with such insolence and pulled his hat
further down on his brow with such a vicious look of satisfaction that
I had all I could do to hold myself in. The boats flew back to the
house-boat as if on wings.
“You see, miss,” he leaned forward and said to me in low tones. “You
do not like me. You love your flag. Ah, ha, I revenge myself.”
“Just wait till I tell Jimmie,” I said.
“Ah, ha, he will do nothing! I play for his concert to-night.”
As the boats pulled up to the steps of the house-boat, Jimmie met us
with his two friends, who had come during our absence. We had never
seen them before.
“What do you think, Jimmie?” stammered Bee, stumbling up the steps
in her excitement.
“And Jimmie, he wouldn't take his hat off to the flag!”
“And Jimmie, I wish you had been there, you'd have drowned him!”
came from all of us at once.
“What's that?” cried Jimmie in a rage at once, and:
“What's that?” came from the men behind him. “Wouldn't take off his
hat to the flag? Who wouldn't?”
“That nasty little German!” cried Miss Wemyss.
We were all out of the boats by that time except the unhappy object
of our wrath, whose countenance by this time was working into patterns
like a kaleidoscope.
“Mr. Jimmie,” he said, coming to the end of the boat with every
intention of stepping out, “I apologise to you. I am very sorry.”
“Get back in that boat!” thundered Jimmie.
“But, sir! Your concert to-night! I play for you!”
“You go to the devil,” said Jimmie. “You'll not put your foot on
board this boat again. Off you go! Take him down to Henley!” he ordered
“Very well! Very well!” said the German, “I go, but I do not take my
hat off to your flag.”
“Ah! Don't you?” cried the Princeton man, making a grab for the
German's sailor hat with his long arm, just as the boat shot away. He
stooped and took it up full of Thames water and flung it thus loaded
squarely in the little wretch's face, while the man at the oars
dexterously tossed it overboard, where it floated bottom upwards in the
river, and the boat shot out toward Henley with the bareheaded and most
excited specimen of the human race it was ever our lot to behold.
Then Jimmie introduced his friends. Bee has just looked over this
narrative of the pleasantest week we ever spent in England and she
“You haven't said a word about the races.”
“So I haven't.”
But they were there.
CHAPTER II. PARIS
“Now,” said Jimmie as our train was pulling into Paris, “we are all
decided, are we not, that we shall stay in Paris only two days?”
His eyes met ours with apprehension and a determination that ended
in a certain amount of questioning in their glance.
“Certainly!” we all hastened to assure him. “Not over two days.”
“Just long enough,” said Jimmie, beamingly, “to have one lunch at
the Cafe Marguery for sole a la Normande—”
“And one afternoon at the Louvre to see the Venus and the Victory—“
“And the Father Tiber—” added Jimmie, waxing enthusiastic.
“Yes, and one dinner at the Pavilion d'Armenonville to hear the
Tziganes—” said Bee.
“And one afternoon on the Seine to go to St. Cloud to see the brides
dance at the Pavilion Bleu, and a supper afterward in the open to have
a poulet and a peche flambee.”
Jimmie by this time was wriggling in ecstasy.
“And just time to order two or three gowns apiece and have one look
at hats,” added Mrs. Jimmie, complacently.
“'Two or three gowns apiece and one look at hats,'“ cried Jimmie.
“And how long will that take? We agreed on two days, and you never said
a word about clothes. That means a whole week!”
“Not at all, Jimmie,” said Bee. “It's too late to do anything
to-night. To-morrow morning we'll go and look. In the afternoon we'll
think it over while we're doing the Louvre. It is always cool and quiet
there, and looking at statuary always helps me to make up my mind about
clothes. The next morning we'll go and order. In the afternoon we'll
buy our hats, and with one day more for the first fittings, I believe
we might manage and have the things sent after us to Baden-Baden.”
“Not at all,” put in Mrs. Jimmie. “They will never be satisfactory
unless we put our minds on the subject and give them plenty of time. We
must stay at least two days more. Give us four days, Jimmie.”
I had to laugh at Jimmie's rueful face. He was about to remonstrate,
but Bee switched him off diplomatically by saying, in her most
“What hotel have you decided on, Jimmie? It's such a comfort to be
getting to a Paris hotel. What one do you think would be best?”
Bee's tone was so flattering that Jimmie forgot clothes and said:
“Well, you know at the Binda you can get corn on the cob and
American griddle cakes—”
“Oh, but the rooms are so small and dark, and we could go there for
luncheon to get those things,” said his wife.
“Do let's go to the Hotel Vouillemont,” I begged. “We won't see any
Americans there, and it is so lovely and old and French, and so
“But then there is the new Elysee Palace,” said Bee. “We haven't
“And they say it's finer than the Waldorf,” said Mrs. Jimmie.
Jimmie and I looked at each other in comical despair.
“Let 'em have their own way, Jimmie,” I whispered in his ear, “while
we're in their country. They know that we are going to make 'em dodge
Switzerland and go up in the Austrian Tyrol and perhaps even get them
to Russia, so we'll be obliged to give them their head part of the way.
Let's be handsome about it.”
We went to the Elysee Palace, and we spent two weeks in Paris. Part
of this time we were fashionable with Mrs. Jimmie and Bee, and part of
the time they were Latin Quartery with us. We made them go to the
Concert Rouge and to the Restaurant Foyot, and occasionally even to sit
on the sidewalk at one of the little tables at Scossa's, where you have
dejeuner au choix for one franc fifty, including wine, and which
they couldn't help enjoying in spite of pretending to despise it and
us, while occasionally we went with them to call on the grand and
distinguished personages to whom they had letters. But it remained for
the last days of our stay for us to have our experiences. The first
came about in this wise.
I had brought a letter to Max Nordau from America, but I heard after
I got to Paris that he was so fierce a woman hater, that I determined
not to present it. I read it over every once in awhile, but failed to
screw my courage to the sticking point, until one day I mentioned that
I had this letter, and Jimmie to my surprise threw up both hands,
“A letter to Max Nordau! Why, it is like owning a gold mine! Present
it by all means, and then tell us what he is like.”
Afraid to present it in person, I sent it by mail, saying that I had
heard that he hated women and that I was scared to death of him, but if
he had a day in the near future on which he felt less fierce than
usual, I would come to see him, and I asked permission to bring a
friend. By “friend” I meant Jimmie.
The most charming note came in answer that a polished man of the
world could write—not in the least like the bear I had imagined him to
be, but courteous and even merry. In it he said he should feel honoured
if I would visit his poor abode, and he seemed to have read my books
and knew all about me, so with very mixed feelings Jimmie and I called
at the hour he named.
He lives in one of the regulation apartment houses of Paris, of the
meaner sort—by no means as fine as those in the American quarter. The
most horrible odour of German cookery—cauliflower and boiled cabbage
and vinegar and all that—floated out when the door opened. The room—a
sort of living-room—into which we were ushered was a mixture of all
sorts of furniture, black haircloth, dingy and old, with here and there
a good picture or one fine chair, which I imagined had been presented
Jimmie was much excited at the idea of meeting him. Max Nordau is
one of his idols,—Nordau's horrible power of invective fully meeting
Jimmie's ideas of the way crimes of the bestial sort should be treated.
Jimmie is often a surprise to me in his beliefs and ideals, but when
Doctor Nordau entered the room I forgot Jimmie and everything else in
the world except this one man.
I can see him now as he stood before me—a thick-set man with a
magnificent torso, but with legs which ought to have been longer. For
that body he ought to have been six feet tall. When he is seated he
appears to be a very large man. You would know that he was a physician
from the way he shakes hands—even from the touch of his hand, which
seems to be in itself a soothing of pain.
He was exquisitely clean. Indeed he seemed, after one look into his
face, to be one of the cleanest men I ever had seen. And to look into
the face of a man in Paris and to be able to say that, means
His eyes were gray blue—very clear in colour. Their whites were
really white—not bloodshot nor yellow. His skin was the clear,
beautiful colour which you sometimes see in a young and handsome Jew.
There was the same clear red and white. This distinguishing quality of
clearness was noticeable too in his lips, for his short white moustache
shows them to be full, very red, and with the line where the red joins
the white extremely clear cut. His teeth were large, full, even, and
white, like those of a primitive man, who tore his rare meat with those
same white teeth, and who never heard of a dentist. His hair was short,
white, and bristling. He seemed to have some Jewish blood in him, but
he seemed more than all to be perfectly well, perfectly normal, filled
to the brim with abounding life. It was like a draught from the Elixir
of Life to be in his presence. What a man!
All at once the whole of “Degeneration” was made clear to me. How
could any man as sane, as normal, as superbly health-loving and
health-bestowing keep from writing such a book! I never met any one who
so impressed me with his knowledge. Not pedantry, but with the
deep-lying fundamental truth that humanity ought to know. His
sympathies are so broad, his intuitions so keen, his understanding so
He asked us at once into his study—a small room, lined with books
bound in calf. Both the chair and his couch had burst out beneath,
showing broken springs and general dilapidation. He speaks many
languages, and his English is very pure and beautiful.
Like all great men, his manner was extremely simple. He did not
pose. He was interested in me, in my work, in my ambitions, hopes, and
aims. He seemed to have no overpoweringly high idea of himself, nor of
what he had achieved. He was thoroughly at home in French, German,
English, Scandinavian, and Russian literature. He read them in the
originals, and his knowledge of the classics seemed to be equally
complete. The well-worn books upon his shelves testified to this.
I asked him if he intended to come to America in the near future. To
which he replied:
“Unhappily I cannot tell. I should like to go. I consider America
the country of the world at present. Whether we admit it or not, all
nations are watching you. The rest of the world cannot live without
you. Russia is the only country in the world which could go to war
without your assistance. You must feed Europe. Your men are the
financiers of the world and your women rule and educate and are the
saviours of the men. Therefore to my mind the greatest factor in the
world's civilisation to-day is the great body of the American women.
You little know your power. You seem to have got the ear of the
American woman, and the only advice I have to give you is to be more
bold. Don't be afraid of being too pedantic. You are too subtle. You
bury your truths sometimes too deeply. The busy are too busy to dig for
it, and the stupid do not know it is there.”
“I think 'Degeneration' is the most wonderful book ever written,”
Jimmie broke in at this point as if unable to keep silent any longer.
Then he looked deeply embarrassed at Doctor Nordau's hearty laughter.
“Thank you a thousand times,” he said; “such a decided opinion I
seldom hear. Your great country was the first to appreciate and read
it. I have many friends there whom I never saw but who love me and whom
I love. They often write to me.”
“And beg autographs and photographs of you,” I said.
“Oh, yes, but it is very easy to do what they ask. But one curious
thing strikes me about America. See, here on my book shelves I have
books written explaining the government of all countries in all
languages—all countries, that is to say, except America. Why has no
one ever written such an one about the United States?”
Jimmie pricked up his ears as this phase of the conversation came
home to him. He forgot his awe and said:
“What's the matter with Bryce?”
Doctor Nordau looked puzzled. He is a practising physician.
“'What's the matter with Bryce?'“ he repeated.
“Haven't you read 'Bryce's Commonwealth?'“ I broke in, to give
Jimmie time to get on his legs again.
“Is there a book on American government by an American that I never
heard of?” asked Nordau of Jimmie.
“Well, Bryce is an Englishman, but he knows more about America than
any American I know,” answered Jimmie. “I'll send you the book if you
would like to read it.”
Doctor Nordau thanked him and said he would be delighted to have it.
While Jimmie was making a note of this, Doctor Nordau looked
quizzically at me and said:
“Do American publishers rob all foreign authors as I have been
robbed, or am I mistaken in thinking that large numbers of
'Degeneration' have been sold in America?”
Alas, wherever I go in Europe, I am obliged to hear this
denunciation of our publishers! I cannot get beyond the sound of it. To
hear foreign authors denounce American publishers by every term of
opprobrium which could commonly be applied to Barabbas! I was puzzled
to know whether they really are the most unscrupulous robbers in
creation or if they only have the name of being.
“You are not mistaken in thinking that large numbers of
'Degeneration' have been sold,” I said, “and if your book was properly
copyrighted and protected and you did not sign away all your rights to
your American publishers for a song, as too many foreign authors do in
their scorn of American appreciation of good literature, you should not
be obliged to complain, for I distinctly remember that 'Degeneration'
often led in the lists of best selling books which our booksellers
report at the end of each week.”
“Then I will leave you to judge for yourself,” said Doctor Nordau.
“The entire amount I have received from my American publishers for
'Degeneration' is fifty pounds! That is every sou!”
“Fifty pounds!” cried Jimmie, in consternation. “Why that is only
two hundred and fifty dollars of our money!”
“I leave it to you to judge for yourselves,” said Doctor Nordau
We said nothing, for as Jimmie said after we left, there was really
nothing to say.
But evidently our consternation touched him, for he broke out into a
big German laugh, saying:
“Don't take it so deeply to heart! You are too sensitive. Do you
take the criticisms of your books so deeply to heart as you take a
criticism of your countrymen? Don't do it! Remember, there are few
critics worth reading.”
“I never read them while they are fresh,” I admitted. “I keep them
until their heat has had time to cool. Then if they are favourable I
say, 'This is just so much extra pleasure that, as it is all over. I
had no right to expect.' And if they are unfavourable I think, 'What
difference does it make? It was published weeks ago and everybody has
forgotten it by this time!'“
“You have the right spirit,” he said. “Where would I be if I had
taken to heart the criticisms of the degenerates on 'Degeneration?' I
sit back and laugh at them for holding a hand mirror up to their faces
and unconsciously crying out 'I see a fool!' To understand great
truths,—and great truths are seldom popular,—one must bring a willing
mind. Yet how often it is that the very sick one wishes most to help
are the ones who refuse, either from conceit or stupidity, to believe
and be healed. Remember this: no one can get out of a book more than he
brings to it. Readers of books seldom realise that by their written or
spoken criticisms they are displaying themselves in all their
weaknesses, all their vanities, all their strength for their hearers to
make use of as they will.”
“I shouldn't think anything ever would disturb you,” said Jimmie,
regarding Doctor Nordau's gigantic strength admiringly.
Doctor Nordau laughed.
“It is the little things of this life, my friend, which often
disturb a mental balance which is always poised to receive great
shocks. The gnat-bites and mosquito buzzings are sometimes harder to
bear than an operation with a surgeon's knife.”
I looked triumphantly at Jimmie as Doctor Nordau said that, for
Jimmie never has got over it that I once dragged the whole party off a
train and made them wait until the next one, because the wheels of our
railway carriage squeaked. But Jimmie's mind is open to persuasion,
especially from one whose opinions he admires as he admires Max
Nordau's, for he looked at me with more tolerance, as he said:
“It is the nervous organisation, I suppose. She can bear neuralgia
for days at a time which would drive me crazy in an hour, but I've seen
her burst into tears because a door slammed.”
“Exactly so!” said Doctor Nordau. “I understand perfectly.”
“Now, I never hear such noises,” pursued Jimmie. “But I suppose
there must be some difference between you both, who can write
books, and me, who can't even write a letter without dictating it!”
Soon after this we came away, Jimmie beaming with delight over one
idol who had not tumbled from his pedestal at a near view.
We were still in the midst of the Paris season. It was very gay and
Bee and Mrs. Jimmie had made some amiable friends among the very
smartest of the Parisian smart set. When we went to tea or dinner with
these people Jimmie and I had to be dragged along like dogs who are
muzzled for the first time. Every once in awhile en route we
would plant our fore feet and try to rub our muzzles off, but the hands
which held our chains were gentle but firm, and we always ended by
On one Sunday we were invited to have dejeuner with the
Countess S., and as it was her last day to receive she had invited us
to remain and meet her friends. At the breakfast there were perhaps
sixteen of us and the conversation fell upon palmistry. We had just
seen Cheiro in London, and as he had amiably explained a good many of
our lines to us, I was speaking of this when the old Duchesse de Z.
thrust her little wrinkled paw loaded down with jewels across the plate
of her neighbour and said:
“Mademoiselle, can you see anything in the lines of my hand?”
I make no pretence of understanding palmistry, but I saw in her hand
a queer little mark that Cheiro had explained to us from a chart. I
took her hand in mine and all the conversation ceased to hear the
pearls of wisdom which were about to drop from my lips. The duchesse
was very much interested in the occult and known to be given to table
tipping and the invocation of spirits.
“I see something here,” I began, hesitatingly, “which looks to me as
if you had once been threatened with a great danger, but had been
miraculously preserved,” I said.
The old woman drew her hand away.
“Humph,” she muttered with her mouth full of homard. “I wondered if
you would see that. It was assassination I escaped. It was enough to
leave a mark, eh, mademoiselle?”
“I should think so,” I murmured.
The young Count de X. on my right said, in a tone which the duchesse
might have heard:
“When she was a young girl, only nineteen, her husband tied her with
ropes to her bed and set fire to the bed curtains. Her screams brought
the servants and they rescued her.”
My fork fell with a clatter.
“What an awful man!” I gasped.
“He was my uncle, mademoiselle!” said the young man, imperturbably,
arranging the gardenia in his buttonhole, “but as you say, he was a bad
“I beg your pardon!” I exclaimed.
“It is nothing,” he answered. “It is no secret. Everybody knows it.”
Later in the afternoon I took occasion to apologise to the duchesse
for having referred to the subject.
“Why should you be distressed, mademoiselle,” said the old woman,
peering up into my face from beneath her majenta bonnet with her little
watery brown eyes, “such things will go into books and be history a few
years hence. We make history, such families as ours,” she added,
I turned away rather bewildered and for an hour or two watched Bee
and Mrs. Jimmie being presented to those who called to pay their
respects to our hostess. They were of all descriptions and fascinating
to a degree. Finally the duchesse came up to me bringing a lady whom
she introduced as the Countess Y.
“She is a compatriot of yours, mademoiselle.”
It so happened that Bee and Mrs. Jimmie were standing near me and
“Ah, you are an American,” I said.
“Well,” said the countess, moving her shoulders a little uneasily,
“I am an American, but my husband does not like to have me admit it.”
It was a small thing. She had a right to deny her nationality if she
liked, but in some way it shocked the three of us alike and we moved
forward as if pulled by one string.
“I think we must be going,” said Bee, haughtily.
Jimmie's jaw was so set as we left the house of the countess, and
Bee and Mrs. Jimmie looked so disturbed that I suggested that we drive
down to the Louvre and take one last look at our treasures. Mine are
the Venus de Milo and the Victory, and Jimmie's is the colossal statue
of the river Tiber. Jimmie loves that old giant, Father Tiber, lying
there with the horn of plenty and dear little Romulus and Remus with
their foster mother under his right hand. Jimmie says the toes
of the giant fascinate him.
It looked like rain, so we hastily checked our parasols and Jimmie's
stick and cut down the left corridor to the stairs, and so on down to
the chamber where we left Jimmie and the Tiber to stare each other out
of countenance. The rest of us continued our way to the room where the
Venus stands enthroned in her silent majesty. We sat down to rest and
worship, and then coming up the steps again and mounting another
flight, we stood looking across the arcade at the brilliant electric
poise of the Victory, and in taking our last look at her, we did not
notice that it had gradually grown very dark.
When we came out, rested, uplifted, and calmed as the effect of that
glorious Venus always is upon our fretted spirits, we discovered that
the most terrific rainstorm was in progress it ever was our luck to
behold. The water came down in cataracts and blinding sheets of rain.
Every one except us had been warned by the darkness and had got
themselves home. The streets were empty except for the cabs and
carriages which skurried by with fares. Our frantic signals and
Jimmie's dashes into the street were of no avail.
We would have walked except that Bee and I had colds, and big,
beautiful Mrs. Jimmie was subject to croup, which as every one knows is
terrible in its attacks upon grown people.
Poor Jimmie ran in every direction in his wild efforts for a
carriage, but none was to be had. We waited two hours, then Mrs. Jimmie
saw a black covered wagon approaching and she gathered up her skirts
and hailed it. The driver obligingly pulled up at the curb.
“You must drive us to our hotel.” she said, firmly. “We have waited
“Impossible, madame!” said the man.
“But you must,” we all said in chorus.
“You shall have much money,” said Jimmie in his worst French.
“All the same it is impossible, monsieur,” said the man.
He regretted exceedingly his inability to oblige the ladies,
but—and he prepared to drive off.
“Get in, girls,” said Mrs. Jimmie, firmly, pushing us in at the back
of the wagon. The man expostulated, not in anger but appealingly. Mrs.
Jimmie would not listen. She said there ought to be more cabs in Paris,
and that she regretted it as much as he did, but she climbed in as she
talked, and gave the address of the hotel.
“You shall have three times your fare,” she said, calmly, “drive
“But what madame demands is impossible,” pleaded the poor man. “I am
on my way for another body. Madame sits in the morgue wagon!”
But there he was mistaken, for madame sat nowhere. Before he had
done speaking madame was flying through the air, alighting on poor
Jimmie's foot, while Bee and I clawed at our dripping skirts in a mad
effort to follow suit.
The morgue wagon pursued its way down the Rue de Rivoli, while we
risked colds, croup, and everything else in an endeavour to find a “
grand bain,” splashing through puddles but marching steadily on,
Jimmie in a somewhat strained silence limping uncomplainingly at our
CHAPTER III. STRASBURG AND
We are on our way to the Passion Play, and although each of the four
of us is a monument of amiability when taken individually, as a quartet
we sometimes clash. At present we are fighting over the route we shall
take between Paris and Oberammergau. Bee and Mrs. Jimmie have
replenished their wardrobes in the Rue de la Paix, and wish to follow
the trail of American tourists going to Baden-Baden, while Jimmie and
I, having rooted out of a German student in the Latin Quarter two or
three unknown carriage routes through the mountains which lead to
unknown spots not double starred, starred, or even mentioned in
Baedeker, are wondering how the battle between clothes and Bohemianism
We arrived at Strasburg still in an amiable wrangle, but all four
agreed on seeing the clock which has made the town famous. Our time was
so limited that there was not, as is often the case, an opportunity for
all four of us to get our own way.
Anybody who did not know her, would imagine by the quiet way that
Bee has let the subject of Baden-Baden alone for the whole day, that
she had quite given up going there, but I know Bee. She has left Jimmie
and me to defend the front of the fortress, while she is bringing all
her troops up in the rear. Bee does not believe in a charge with plenty
of shouting and galloping and noise. Bee's manoeuvres never raise any
dust, but on a flank movement, a midnight sortie or an ambush, Bee
could outgeneral Napoleon and Alexander and General Grant and every
other man who has helped change the maps of the world. Only by
indication and past sad experience do I know what she is up to. One
thing to-day has given me a clue. I have a necktie—the only really
saucy thing about the whole of my wardrobe, the only distinguishing
smartness to my toilet—upon which Bee has fixed her affection, and
which she means to get away from me. I don't know how I came to buy it
in the first place. However, I sha'n't have it long. Bee is bargaining
for it—that means that we are going to Baden-Baden. She is not openly
bargaining, for that would let me know how much she wants it, but she
has admired it pointedly. She tied my veil on for me this morning, and
even as I write, she is sewing a button on my glove. Bee in the
politest way possible is going to force me to give her that tie. I wish
she wouldn't, for I really need it, but I must get all the wear I
expect to have out of it in the next two days, for by the end of the
week, if these attentions continue, that Charvet tie will belong to
Last night, as soon as we arrived and had our dinner, we went to the
Orangerie. This great park with myriads of walks is one of the most
attractive things about Strasburg. A very good band was playing a Sousa
march as we came in and took our seats at one of the little tables.
But just here let me record something which has surprised me all
during my travels in Europe; and that is the small amount of good music
one hears outside of opera. I have always imagined Germany to be
distinguished equally by her music and her beer. I have not been
disappointed in the beer, for it is there by the tub, but as to the
music, there is not in my opinion in the whole of Germany or Austria
one such as Sousa's, and as to men choruses, not one that I have heard,
and I have followed them closely wherever I heard of their existence,
is to be compared with any of our College Glee Clubs. In my opinion the
casual open-air music of Germany is another of the disappointments of
Europe—to be set down in the same category with the linden trees of
Berlin and the trousers of the French Army.
German music seems to be too universally indulged in to be good. It
is performed with more earnestness than skill and the programme is gone
through with with more fervour than taste. The musicians of a typical
German band dig through the evening's numbers with the same dogged
perseverance and perspiration that they would exercise in tunnelling
through a mountain. In this connection I am not speaking of any of the
trained orchestras, but solely of the band music that one hears all
through the Rhine land. It is only tradition that Germans are the most
musical people in the world, for in my opinion the rank and file of
Germans have no ear for key. That they listen well and perform
earnestly is perfectly true. That they respect music and give it proper
attention is equally true, but that they know the difference between a
number performed with no expression, with one or two instruments or
voices, as the case may be, entirely out of pitch, and the same number
correctly rendered, is impossible to believe by one who has watched
them as carefully as I.
Sousa once made the statement to the American Press that in his
opinion the American nation was the most musical nation in the world.
He based this astonishing belief, which was violently attacked by the
German-American Press, upon his observation of his audiences and by the
street music, even including whistling and singing. I agree with his
opinion with all my heart. In an American audience of the most common
sort an instrument off the key or improperly tuned will be sure to be
detected. It may be, nay, it probably is true, that the person so
detecting the discord will not know where the trouble lies or of what
it consists, but his ear, untrained as it is, tells him that something
is wrong, and he shows his discomfort and disapproval. I claim that the
ordinary American—the common or garden variety of American—has a more
correct ear than the common or garden variety of German. I claim that
the rank and file in America is for this reason more truly musical than
the same class in the German nation, although the German nation has a
technical knowledge of music which it will take the Americans a
thousand years to equal. For this reason an open-air concert in America
is so much more enjoyable both from the numbers selected and the spirit
of their playing, that the two performances are not to be mentioned in
the same day.
A criticism which the wayfaring man will whip out to floor me at
this point, viz., that nearly all performers in American bands are
Germans, will not cause me to wink an eyelash, for the effect of
American audiences on German performers has raised the standard of
their music so that I am informed by Germans and Austrians that the
most annoying, irritating, and insulting factor in their otherwise
peaceful lives is the return of a German-American to his native heath.
They tell me that his arrogance and conceit are unbearable—that he
claims that Americans alone know how to make practical use of the
technical knowledge of the German—that the Teuton gathers the
knowledge, the Yankee applies it. This goes to prove my point.
We Americans are a curious people. We get better music under our own
vine and fig-tree than they have anywhere else in the world but we
don't know it. There is no such band on earth as Sousa's, no better
orchestra than Theodore Thomas's or the Boston Symphony, and we hear
the Metropolitan and French operas.
Take also our chamber music and from that come down to our street
ballads, and then to the whistling and singing heard in the streets,
with no thought of audience or even listeners.
I have followed German music closely, and I claim that German
musicians, or rather let me say German producers of music, lack ear
just about half of the time. Their students cannot compare with our
college singing, their pedestrian parties, which one meets all through
the country, singing, often from notes (and if you take the trouble to
inquire, they will frequently tell you with pride that they belong to
such and such a singing society) almost drive sensitive ears crazy. But
they love it—they adore music, they take such comfort out of it, that
one is forced to forgive this lack of ear and this polyglot pitch, or
else be considered a churl.
The Orangerie has, however, a very good average band—for Germany.
The picture of the great crowd of people gathered at little tables
around the band-stand, whole families together; of a tiny boy baby,
just able to toddle around, being dragged about by an enormous St.
Bernard dog, whose chain the baby tugged at most valiantly; the long
dim avenues under the trees where an occasional young couple lost
themselves from fathers and mothers; the music; the cheerful
beer-drinking; the general air of rosy-cheeked contentment has formed
in my mind a most agreeable recollection of the Orangerie of Strasburg.
Strasburg has, however, much more to boast of than her clock. The
city was founded by the Romans, and in the middle ages was one of the
most powerful of the free cities of the German Empire, on the occasions
of imperial processions her citizens enjoying the proud distinction of
having their banner borne second only to the imperial eagle.
Then, because of its strategical importance, in a time of peace,
Louis XIV. of France seized the city of Strasburg, and this delicate
attention on his part was confirmed by the Peace of Ryswick in 1679,
thereby giving Strasburg to France. The French kept it nearly two
hundred years, but Germany got it back at the Peace of Frankfort, 1871,
and it is now the capital of German Alsace and Lorraine.
I never think of Alsace and Lorraine that I do not recall the statue
in the Place de la Concorde, with gay coloured wreaths looking more
like a festival of joy than mourning,—in fact I never think of Paris
mourning for anything, from a relative to a dead dog, that I can keep
On the Jour des Morts, I once went to the Pere-Lachaise and found in
the family lot of a duchesse with a grand name, a stuffed dog of the
rare old breed known as mongrel. In America he would have slouched at
the heels of a stevedore—or any sort of a man who shuffles in his walk
and smokes a short black pipe. But this yellow cur was in a glass case
mounted on a marble pedestal, and his yellowness in life was
represented by a coat of small yellow beads put on in patches where the
hair had disappeared. His yellow glass eyes peered staringly at the
passer-by and his tomb was literally heaped with expensive couronnes
tied with long streamers of crape, while couronnes on the
grass-grown tomb of the defunct husband of the duchesse, buried in the
back of the lot behind the dog, were conspicuous by their absence. I
wondered if the widow took this ingenious method of publishing to the
world that in life her husband had been less to her than her dog.
Paris crape is this slippery, shiny sort of stuff, like thin
haircloth—the kind they used to cover furniture with. It is made up
into “costumes” which have such an air of fashion that the deceased
relative is instantly forgotten in one's interest in the cut and fit of
the gown. A butterfly of a bonnet, a tiny face veil coming just to the
tip of the nose, with the long one in the back sweeping almost to the
ground, completes a picture of such a jaunty grief, such a saucy
sorrow, that one would be quite willing to lose one or two distant
relatives in order to be clad in such a manner.
The University of Strasburg changed its nationality as often as the
town, but not at the same time. In one of its German periods Goethe
graduated there as doctor of laws—which fact ought to be better known.
At least I didn't know it. But Bee says that doesn't signify,
because I know so little. But Bee only says that when she has asked me
some stupid date that nobody ever knows or ever did know except in a
The next day after our evening at the Orangerie, at half after
eleven, we went to the Cathedral to see the clock. It only performs all
its functions at noon, and as there is always a crowd of tourists about
it, we went early.
The most wonderful feature of this clock to Jimmie is that it
regulates itself and adapts its motions to the revolutions of the
seasons, year after year and year after year, as if it had a wonderful
living human mind somewhere in its insides. Its perpetual calendar,
too, is a marvel! How can that insensate clock tell when to put
twenty-eight days and when to give thirty-one, when I can't even do it
myself without saying:
“Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November,
All the rest have thirty-one,
Except February alone,
Which has but twenty-eight in fine
Till leap-year gives it twenty-nine.”
And who tells that clock when leap year comes, and when the moon
changes, and when it's going to rain, and when hoop-skirts will be worn
again? Wonderful people, these Germans.
We were there on Monday when the clock struck noon. Monday is the
day when Diana steps out upon the first gallery. Each day has its
deity—Apollo on Sunday, Diana on Monday, etc.
On the first gallery an angel strikes the quarters on a bell in his
little mechanical hand. Then a gentleman who has nothing else to do the
whole year round reverses an hour-glass each hour in the twenty-four;
so that you can tell the time by counting the grains of sand or by
glancing at the face of the clock,—whichever way you have been brought
up to tell time.
Above this there is a skeleton, which strikes the hours, and
evidently cheerfully reminds us what our end will be, around which are
grouped the quarter-hours, represented by the four figures, boyhood,
youth, manhood, and old age.
But the two most remarkable things are those which crown the clock.
In the highest niche, at noon, the twelve apostles, also representing
the hours, come out of a door and march around the figure of the
Saviour. Judas hangs his head, and the eyes of the Christ follow him
until he disappears. Then on the highest pinnacle of all, a cock comes
out, preens himself, flaps his wings, and gives such an exultant crow
that Peter pauses in his walk, then drops his head forward on his
breast, and so passes out of sight.
When the performance is over, the crowd melts away. Some few stay to
do the Cathedral, but we went to luncheon. At luncheon it was decided
to go to Baden-Baden. Jimmie and I compromised on three days of it.
There is nothing particularly interesting about the journey thither.
When you come to the village of Oos, you get off the train and take a
little train which is waiting on a siding, and in less than five
minutes, before you have time to sit down, in fact, you are at Baden,
at the entrance of the Black Forest, and find it beautiful.
It was the height of the season and we went to a very smart hotel,
where they have very badly dressed people, because nearly everybody
there except us had money and titles.
Now the height of the season at any watering-place depresses me. If
I could wear fern seed in my shoes to make me invisible, and sit on the
piazza railing in a shirt-waist and a short skirt, I would love it.
But both Bee and Mrs. Jimmie, with the light of heaven in their eyes,
pulled out and put on their most be-yew-tiful Paris clothes, and if I
do say it of my sister—well, for modesty's sake, I will only say that
Mrs. Jimmie looked ripping. I was happily travelling with a
steamer trunk and a big hat-box, and had hitherto rejoiced that my lack
of clothes would prevent my being obliged to dress. I thought perhaps
Jimmie and I would be allowed to roam about hunting little queer
restaurants like Old Tom's or the Cheshire Cheese. But when Jimmie's
boyish face appeared over a white expanse of tucked shirt front, I sank
down in a dejected heap.
“And thou, Brutus?” I said.
“Couldn't help it,” he answered, laconically. “We'd better give in
handsomely for three days. It'll pay us in the end. Get into your 'glad
rags' and be good.”
“But I didn't bring my 'glad rags,'“ I said.
Just then Bee looked around from fastening a lace butterfly in her
hair on a jewelled spiral.
“I had two extra trays in my trunk and I put a few of your things
in. Would you like to wear your lace gown? You've never even tried it
My mouth flew open, contrary to politeness and my excellent
bringing-up. Jimmie collapsed with a silent grin, while I meekly
followed Bee into my room.
When I saw my new gown all full of rolls of tissue-paper, packed by
poor dear Bee, I went to my trunk and pulled out my smart Charvet tie.
I handed it to her in silence.
“Take it,” I said. “I hate to give it up, but you deserve it.”
Bee accepted it gratefully.
“It's good of you to give it to me,” she said. “You really need it
more than I do, only this peculiar shade of blue is so becoming to me.
I'll tell you what I'll do though,” she added, heroically. “I'll
lend it to you whenever you want it.”
I thanked her, dressed, and then humbly trailed down to dinner in
the wake of my gorgeous party.
Jimmie had engaged a table on the piazza, nearest the street and
commanding the best view of all the other diners. I very willingly sat
with my back to all the people, with the panorama of the Lichtenthaler
Strasse passing before my eyes, and in quiet moments the sounds of the
great military band playing on the promenade in front of the
Conversationshaus coming to our ears.
A great deal of grandeur always makes me homesick. It isn't envy. I
don't want to be a princess and have the bother of winding a horn for
my outriders when I want to run to the drug-store for postage stamps,
but pomp depresses me. Everybody was strange, foreign languages were
pelting me from the rear, noiseless flunkies were carrying pampered
lap-dogs with crests on their nasty little embroidered blankets, fat
old women with epilepsy and gouty old men with scrofula, representing
the aristocracy at its best, were being half carried to and from
tables, and the degeneracy of noble Europe was being borne in upon my
soul with a sickening force.
The purple twilight was turning black on the distant hills, and the
silent stars were slowly coming into view. Clean, health-giving
Baden-Baden, in the Valley of the Oos, with its beauty and its pure
air, was holding out her arms to all the disease and filth that
degenerate riches produce.
I wasn't exactly blue, but I was gently melancholy. Jimmie was
smoking, and Bee and Mrs. Jimmie had their heads together, casting
politely furtive glances at a table which held royalty. I certainly
was feeling neglected.
Suddenly a voice in English at my elbow said:
“Pardon me, madame, but were not you at the Grand Hotel at Rome last
“Yes,” I said.
“I mean no impertinence in addressing you. I am the head waiter
there in winter, here in summer. I remembered you at once, and I came
to say that if anything goes wrong with any of your distinguished party
during your stay, I shall count it a favour if you will permit me to
remedy it. The hotel is at your disposal. I will send a private maid to
attend you during your stay. I hope you will be happy here, madame.”
Then with a bow he was gone.
I was in a state of exhilaration inside which threatened to break
through at the sudden attentions of my party.
“Who's your friend?” said Jimmie.
“How nice of him!” commented his wife.
“Servants never remember me, yet I always fee better than you do,”
“Console yourself. It is only porters and head waiters who care
whether I am happy or not,” I said, bitterly.
“Deary me!” said Jimmie, sitting up. “Come, let's get out of this.
We must walk her over where she'll hear some music and see some pretty
lights or she'll drown herself in her bath to-morrow.”
We went, we promenaded, we showed our clothes, and came home
smirking with satisfaction. We had been pointed out everywhere for
Americans, which spoke volumes for our clothes and the smallness of our
During two mortal weeks we stayed at Baden-Baden, taking the baths,
improving our German and driving through the Black Forest and the Oos
Valley to the green hills beyond.
Then on one happy day we were all packed to go. We sent our trunks
down, saw every drawer emptied, pulled the bed to pieces, looked under
it and decided that this time we hadn't left so much as a pin.
Bee stuck her “blaue cravatte,” as we now called the necktie,
under the bureau mat to put on when we came up, and then we snatched a
hasty luncheon. In the meantime we turned our “private maid” and the
chambermaid loose to see if we had overlooked anything.
When we came up they were still rummaging, but had found nothing.
Bee hurried to the bureau and looked under the mat. No tie. She
asked the two women. They had not seen it. Then everybody hunted.
Jimmie swore we had packed it. But Bee's gray eyes turned to green as
she watched the flurried movements of the two maids. She walked up to
“Give me that blue necktie,” she said, in awful German.
At that Jimmie, who hates a row when it is not of his own making,
interfered and insisted that we must have packed it—he remembered
numbers of times when we had made a fuss over nothing—it was of no
account anyway, and if we would only come along and not miss the train
he would send back to Charvet and get Bee another “blaue cravatte.”
“For heaven's sake, take that man downstairs,” I said to Mrs.
Jimmie, “and let us manage this affair.”
So poor Jimmie was whisked from the scene of action, still
protesting and gesticulating, and being soothed but marched steadily
onward by his wife.
When we came down we were heated but unsuccessful. I insisted upon
reporting the affair to my friend the head waiter. He almost went back
on his devotion to me in his assurances that those maids were honest.
Then Jimmie had to come up and interfere, and those two men decided
that we had packed it.
Bee was in a cold ladylike fury.
We gave all the servants double fees to assure them that meanness
had not prompted the search, and got into the carriage.
“Remember,” said Bee, “I claim that one of those women has that tie
in her pocket now, because all four of us looked every inch of the
rooms over together. I advise you to have them searched. On the other
hand I will telegraph you from Nuremberg if I find it in my trunks.”
We had half an hour before the train left. Bee, who was riding
backward, kept looking out down the road whence we had come with a
curious expression on her face. Jimmie, in spite of warning pressures
from his wife's foot, kept sputtering about women's poor memories, etc.
Bee didn't even seem to hear.
Presently, in a cloud of dust, up drove one of the men from the
hotel, with a little package in his hand.
“Blaue cravatte,” he said, bowing.
“Where did you find it?” demanded Mrs. Jimmie.
“Between the mattress and the springs of the bed. Madame must have
put it there to press it.”
Jimmie looked sheepish and put us into the train with a red face.
Bee simply slipped the tie into her satchel and put on her
travelling-cap without a word, and began to read. Bee never nags or
So much for Baden-Baden.
CHAPTER IV. STUTTGART, NUREMBERG, AND
We had planned to go to Stuttgart next, but as we were nearing the
town, Bee pushed up her veil and said:
“I don't see why we are going to Stuttgart. I never heard of it
except in connection with men who 'studied' in Stuttgart. What's there,
Jimmie? An Academy?”
“I should say,” said Jimmie, waking up. “The Academy where Schiller
“That's very interesting,” I broke in, “but it's hardly enough to
keep me there very long. Are there any queer little places—”
“Any concert-gardens?” asked Bee.
“Are the hotels good?” asked his wife.
“There is one hotel called Hotel Billfinger, which I'd like to try,
because Mark Twain's guide in 'Innocents Abroad' was named Billfinger.
“He afterwards called him Ferguson, which I think is against the
name and against the hotel,” I said. “Why do we stop except to break
“Well, the real reason,” said Jimmie, with that timid air of his,
“is because Baedeker says that in the Royal Library there are 7,200
Bibles in more than one hundred languages, and I thought if you stayed
by them long enough you might get enough religion so that you would be
less wearing on my nerves as a travelling companion. It wouldn't take
you long to master them. While you are studying, the rest of us will
refresh ourselves in the Stadt-Garten, where Bee will find a band,
where I shall find a restaurant, and where my wife can ponder over
Baedeker's choice information of the places where it is not proper to
take a lady.”
Nobody pays any attention to Jimmie, so we all stared out of the
windows to see that the town was beautifully situated, almost upon the
Neckar, and surrounded by such vine-clad hills and green wooded heights
as to make it seem like a painting.
But Bee was still unconvinced.
“It is the capital of Nuremberg and used to be the favourite
residence of the Dukes of Nuremberg,” said Mrs. Jimmie, as we drove up
to the hotel, not the Billfinger, let me remark in passing.
We found a band for Bee, and in the course of our stay in Stuttgart
we heard any number of men's choruses, students' singing and the like.
There was, too, the Museum of Art, and a fine one. There was also a
lovely view, from the Eugen-Platz, of the city which lies below it. But
after all, the Schloss-Garten and concerts to the contrary
notwithstanding, there is an atmosphere about the law schools, museums,
and collections of Stuttgart, which led frivolous pleasure-seekers like
us to depart on the second day, for Nuremberg.
Jimmie has a curious way of selecting hotels. As the train neared
that quaintest of old cities, toward which my heart warms anew as I
think of it, he broke the silence as though we had held a long and
heated argument on the matter.
“You might as well cease this useless discussion. I have decided to
go to the Wittelsbacher Hof, Pfannenschmiedsgasse 22.”
“Good heavens!” I murmured.
“There you go, arguing!” cried Jimmie. “But can't you see the
advantages of all those extra letters on your note-paper when you write
“Besides, it's a very good hotel, I've been told,” said his wife,
It was a very good hotel, and there was a lunch-room half-way
up the main flight of stairs at the right as you enter, which I
remember with peculiar pleasure. Travellers like us may well be excused
for remembering a first luncheon such as that which we had at the
Then we all strolled out in the early summer twilight and took our
first look at Nuremberg. Tell me if you can why we went into such
ecstasies over Nuremberg and stayed there two weeks, when we could
barely persuade ourselves to remain one day in Stuttgart. But the
picturesqueness of Nuremberg is particularly enticing. The streets run
“every which way,” as the children say, and the architecture is so
queer and ancient that the houses look as if they had stepped out of
It was so hot when we arrived that we were on terms of the most
distant civility with each other. Indeed, it was dangerous to make the
simplest observation, for the other three guns were trained upon the
inoffensive speaker with such promptness and such an evident desire to
fight that for the most part we maintained a dignified but safe
Mrs. Jimmie bearded Jimmie in his den long enough to ask him to see
about our opera tickets at once. Everybody said we could not get any,
but trust Jimmie! The agent of whom he bought them had embroidered a
generous romance of how he had got them of a lady who ordered them the
January before, but whose husband having just died, her feelings would
not permit her to use them, and so as a great accommodation, etc., etc.
Everybody knows these stories. Suffice it to say that Jimmie really
had, at the last moment, secured admirable seats near the middle of the
house, and everybody said it was a miracle. In looking back over the
experiences of that one opera of “Parsifal,” I cannot deny that there
was something of a miracle about it. However, “Parsifal” was three days
distant, and Nuremberg was at hand.
I love to think of Nuremberg. The recollection of it comes back to
me again and again through a gentle haze of happy memories. The narrow
streets were lined with houses which leaned toward each other after the
gossipy manner of old friends whose confidence in each other is
established. The windows jutted queerly, and odd balconies looped
themselves on corners where no one expected them. They call these
pretty old houses the best examples of domestic architecture, but warn
you that the quaint peaked roofs are Gothic and the surprises are
Renaissance—a mixture of which purists do not approve. But I am a
pagan. I like mixtures. They give you little flutters of delight in
your heart, and one of the most satisfactory of experiences is not to
be able to analyse your emotions or to tell why you are pleased, but to
feel at liberty to answer art questions with “Just because!”
So Nuremberg. Its fortifications are rugged and strong. Its towers
imposing. It dates back to the Huns. Frederick Barbarossa frequently
occupied the castle which frowns down on you from the heights. Hans
Sachs, the poet, sang here. Albrecht Durer painted here. Peter Vischer
perhaps dreamed out the noble original of my beautiful King Arthur
From the quaint and awkward statues of saints and heroes in church
and state, to such delicate examples of sculpture as the figure of the
Virgin in the Hirschelgasse, so delicate and graceful that it was once
attributed to an Italian master, you realise how early the arts were
established here and how sedulously they were pursued. Everywhere are
works of art, from the cruder decorations over doorways and windows to
the paintings of Durer in the Germanic Museum. It is a sad reflection
to me that most of Durer's work, and all of his masterpieces, are in
other cities—Munich, Berlin, and Vienna, and that, as it is in Greece,
only their fame remains to glorify the city of his birth.
His statue, copied from a portrait painted by himself, stands in the
Albrecht-Durer Platz, and in his little house are copies of his
masterpieces and a collection of typical antique German furniture and
utensils. The exquisite art of glass-staining is the suitable
occupation of the custodian who shows you about the house.
Indeed, wood carving, glass staining, engraving of medals and
medallions, copying ancient cabinets and quaint furniture are, if not
the principal, at least the most interesting occupations pursued in
Nuremberg to-day. In searching out the little shops I also found that
table linen, superbly embroidered and decorated with drawn-work of
intricate patterns was here in a bewildering display.
Dear Nuremberg! A stroll through your lovely streets is a feast for
the eye and a whip to the imagination that no other city in the German
Empire can duplicate or approach. You abound in quaint doorways, over
which if I step, I find myself transplanted to the scenes of tapestries
and old prints, and I can easily imagine myself framed and hanging on
the wall quite comfortable and happy.
One of these tiny doorways led us, on a bright Sunday afternoon,
into one of the oddest places we ever saw. It was the
Bratwurst-Glocklein—such a restaurant as Doctor Johnson would have
deserted the Cheshire Cheese for, and revelled in the change.
It appeared to be a thousand years old. Perhaps Melanchthon
expounded the theories of the Reformation on the very benches on which
The door-sill was high, and we stepped over it on to a stone floor,
the flagging of which was sunken in many places, causing pitfalls to
the unwary. The room was small and only half lighted by infinitesimal
windows. One end of the room was given up to what appeared to be a
charcoal furnace built of bricks, over which in plain view buxom maids,
whose red cheeks were purple from the heat, were frying delicious
little sausages in strings. We squeezed ourselves into a narrow bench
behind one of the tables whose rudeness was picturesque. I have seen
schoolboy desks at Harrow and Eton worn to the smoothness of these
tables here and carved as deeply with names. There was not a vestige of
a cloth or napkins. The plates and knives and forks were rude enough to
bear out the surroundings. In fact, the clumsiness and apparent age of
everything almost transported us, in imagination, to the stone age, but
the sensation was delightful.
One of the maids brought a string of sausages sizzling hot from the
pan and deftly snipped off as many as were called for upon each of our
plates. We drank our beer from steins so heavy that each one took both
hands. A person with a mouth of the rosebud variety would have found it
exceedingly difficult to obtain any of the beer, the stein presenting
such unassailable fortifications.
It was too hot when we were there to appreciate to the full this
delicious old spot, but on a winter evening, after the theatre, which
closes about ten o'clock, think what a delightful thing it would be, O
ye Bohemian Americans, with fashionable wives who insist upon the
Waldorf or Sherry's after the theatre, to go instead to the
Bratwurst-Glocklein! There you smoke at your ease, put your elbows on
the table and dream dreams of your student days when the dinner coat
vexed not your peaceful spirit.
Owing to our late arrival and the enormous crowd of people at
Bayreuth, we found it expedient to remain in Nuremberg and go up to
Bayreuth for the opera. The day of our performance of “Parsifal” was
one of the hottest of the year. Not even Philadelphia can boast of heat
more consolidated and unswerving than that of North Germany on this
We put on muslin dresses and carried fans and smelling salts, and
Jimmie had to use force to make us carry wraps for the return. The
journey, lovely in itself, was rendered hideous to us by the heat, but
when we arrived at Bayreuth the babel of English voices was so
delightfully homelike, American clothes on American women were so good
to see, and Bayreuth itself was so picturesque, that we forgot the heat
and drove to the opera-house full of delight.
I am sorry that it is fashionable to like Wagner, for I really
should like to explain the feelings of perfect delight which tingled in
my blood as I realised that I was in the home of German opera—in the
city where the master musician lived and wrote, and where his widow and
son still maintain their unswerving faithfulness toward his glorious
music. I am a little sensitive, too, about admitting that I like
Carlyle and Browning. I suppose this is because I have belonged to a
Browning and Carlyle club, where I have heard some of the most idiotic
women it was ever my privilege to encounter, express glib sentiments
concerning these masters, which in me lay too deep for utterance. It is
something like the occasional horror which overpowers me when I think
that perhaps I am doomed to go to heaven. If certain people here on
earth upon whom I have lavished my valuable hatred are going there,
heaven is the last place I should want to inhabit. So with Wagner.
“Parsifal!” That sacred opera which has never been performed outside
of this little hamlet. I was to see it at last!
I was prepared to be delighted with everything, and the childishness
of the little maid who took charge of our hats before we went in to the
opera charmed me. My hat was heavy and hot, and I particularly disliked
it, owing to the weight of the seagull which composed one entire side
of it, and always pulled it crooked on my head. The little maid took
the hat in both her arms, laid her round red cheek against the soft
feathers of the gull, kissed its glass bead eyes, and smilingly said in
“This is the finest hat that has been left in my charge to-day!”
Verily, the opera of “Parsifal” began auspiciously. Quite puffed up
with vainglorious pride over the little maiden's admiration of one of
my modest possessions, while Bee's and Mrs. Jimmie's ravishing
masterpieces had received not even a look, we met Jimmie bustling up
with programmes and opera-glasses, and went toward the main entrance.
We showed our tickets, and were sent to the side door. We went to the
side door, and were sent to the back door. At the back door, to our
indignation, we were sent up-stairs. In vain Jimmie expostulated, and
said that these seats were well in the middle of the house on the
ground floor. The doorkeepers were inexorable. On the second floor,
they sent us to the third, and on the third they would have sent us to
the roof if there had been any way of getting up there. As it was, they
permitted us to stop at the top gallery, and, to our unmitigated
horror, the usher said that our seats were there. Jimmie was furious,
but I, not knowing how much he had paid for them, endeavoured to soothe
him by pointing out that all true musicians sat in the gallery, because
music rises and blends in the rising.
“We are sure to get the best effect up here, Jimmie, and those front
rows, especially, if our seats happen to be in the middle, won't be at
all bad. Don't let's fuss any more about it, but come along like an
I will admit, however, that even my ardour was dampened when we
discovered that our seats were absolutely in the back and top row, so
that we leaned against the wall of the building, and were not even
furnished with chairs, but sat on a hard bench without relief of any
And the price Jimmie hurled at us that he had paid for those
tickets! I am ashamed to tell it.
Now Jimmie hates German opera in the most picturesque fashion. He
hates in every form, colour, and key, and in all my life I was never so
sorry for any one as I was for Jimmie that day at Bayreuth. The heat
was stifling, his rage choked him and effectually prevented his going
to sleep, as otherwise he might have done in peace and quiet. He sat
there in such a steam and fury that it was truly pitiable. He went out
once to get a breath of air, and they turned the lights out before he
could get back, so that he stumbled over people, and one man kicked
him. With that Jimmie stepped on the German's other foot, and they
swore at each other in two languages and got hissed by the people
around them. When he finally got back to us, we found it expedient not
to make any remarks at all, and I was glad it was too dark for him to
see our faces.
Yet, in spite of Jimmie and the heat and the ache in our backs and
the hard unyielding bench, that afternoon at “Parsifal” is one of the
experiences of a lifetime.
People tell us now that we were there on an “Off day.” By that they
mean that no singers with great names took part. How like Americans to
think of that! Germans go to the opera for the music. Americans go to
hear and see the operatic stars.
Happily unvexed by my ignorance, I heard a perfect “Parsifal"
without knowing that, from an American point of view, I ought not to
have been so delighted. The orchestra was conducted by Siegfried
Wagner, and Madame Wagner sat in full view from even our eyrie.
And then—the opera! Perfection in every detail! I believed then
that not even the Passion Play could hold my spirit, so in leash with
its symbolism, its deep devotion, and its enthralling charms.
The day on which I saw “Parsifal” at Bayreuth was a day to be marked
with a white stone.
CHAPTER V. THE PASSION PLAY
Jimmie came into the sitting-room this morning (for, by travelling
with the Jimmies, Bee and I can be very grand, and share the luxury of
a third room with them), but I suspected him from the moment I saw his
face. It was too innocent to be natural.
“What you got, Jimmie?” I said. Jimmie's manner of life invites
“Only the letter from the Burgomeister of Oberammergau, assigning
our lodgings,” he replied, carelessly. He yawned and put the letter in
“Oh, Jimmie!” we all cried out. “Have they—”
“Have they what?” asked Jimmie, opening his eyes.
“Don't be an idiot,” I said, savagely. “You know I have hardly been
able to sleep, wondering if we'd have to go to ordinary lodgings or if
they would assign us to some of the leading actors in the play. Tell
us! Let me see the letter!”
“Now wait a minute,” said Jimmie, and then I knew that he was going
to be exasperating.
“Don't you let him fool you,” said Bee, who always doubts
everybody's good intentions and discounts their bad ones, which worthy
plan of life permits her to count up at the end of the year only half
as many mental bruises as I, let me pause to remark. “You know that not
one in ten thousand has influence enough to obtain lodgings with the
chief actors, and who are we, I should like to know, except in
our own estimation?”
“Well,” said Jimmie, meekly, “in the estimation of the Burgomeister
of Oberammergau, my wife is an American princess, travelling incognito
as plain Mrs. Jimmie, to avoid being mobbed by entertainers. He
promises in solemn German, which I had Franz translate, not to betray
“That makes a prince of you, Jimmie,” I said, sternly. “A
pretty looking prince you are.”
“Not at all,” said Jimmie modestly. “I felt that I could not do the
princely act very long either as to looks or fees, so I said that the
princess had made a morganatic marriage, and that I was it.”
“Jimmie!” said his wife, blushing scarlet. “How could you?
Why, a morganatic marriage isn't respectable. It's left-handed.”
“My love! You are thinking of a broomstick marriage. Trust me. We
are still legally married, and if I should try to sneak out of my
obligations to you by this performance, I should still be liable in the
eyes of the law for your debts. Let that console you.”
“But—” said Mrs. Jimmie, still blushing, “by this plan they won't
let us be together, will they?”
“They wouldn't anyway, as I discovered from their first letter. We
are all to be lodged separately, and from the tone of that first
letter, in which they addressed me as their prince, I hit on the
morganatic marriage as more economical in letting him down easy,
without telling him I had lied or having to pay for my lie,” said
Jimmie, with timid appeal in his innocent blue eyes.
“But where do I come in, Jimmie?” I said, impatiently.
“You come in with Judas Iscariot. Where you belong!” said Jimmie,
Bee howled. Mrs. Jimmie looked startled.
“Nonsense!” I said, indignantly. “That is going a little too far. I
won't be put there. I believe you asked 'em on purpose, just so that
you could crow over me afterward.”
“You are getting slightly mixed,” said Jimmie, politely. “If you
mention crowing, 'tis Peter you ought to have been lodged with.”
“What a fool you are, Jimmie!”
Jimmie gave an ecstatic bounce. Whenever he has completely
exasperated anybody he simply beams with joy.
“Where have they put me, Jimmie?” asked Bee.
“They have thoughtfully assigned you to Thomas,—last name not
mentioned,—where you can sit down and hold regular doubting
conventions with each other and both have the time of your lives.”
“I don't believe you!”
“Look and see, O doubtful—doubting one, I mean!”
“My word! He is telling the truth!” cried Bee in astonishment.
“I tried to get—” began Jimmie to his wife, but she stopped him.
“Don't, dear,” she said, gently. “You know I love your jokes, but
don't be sacrilegious. Leave His name out of this nonsense. I—I
couldn't quite bear that.”
Jimmie got up and kissed her.
“They have lodged you with the Virgin Mary, sweetheart, and the two
most lovely Marys in the world will be in the same house together,” he
Mrs. Jimmie blushed and smoothed Jimmie's riotous hair tenderly.
“And have they separated you and me, dear? Where have they lodged
“I have secured an apartment with Mary Magdalene—in her house, I
mean!” said Jimmie, straightening up.
Bee and I shrieked. Jimmie edged toward the door.
“Jimmie!” said his wife in horror. “Please don't—”
His wife rose from her chair and turned away.
“Don't what?” he repeated.
“I was only going to say,” said Mrs. Jimmie, “don't make a joke of
“Well, if you don't want me to go there, I'll trade places with the
scribe and put her with the lady who is generally represented
reclining on the ground in a blue dress improving her mind by reading.
Perhaps you would feel more comfortable if I lodged with Judas?”
“No, indeed! and put her with Mary Magdalene?” said Mrs.
Jimmie, whose serious turn of mind was as a well-spring in a thirsty
land to Jimmie.
“My dear,” he said, impressively, with his hand on the door-knob.
“Two things seem to have escaped your mind. One is that this is only
play-acting, and the other is that Mary Magdalene, when history let go
of her, was a reformed character anyway.”
The door slammed. We both looked expectantly at Mrs. Jimmie. Her
apologies for Jimmie's most delicious impertinences are so sincere and
her sense of humour so absolutely wanting that we love her almost as
dearly as we love Jimmie.
Mrs. Jimmie, large, placid, fair and beautiful as a Madonna, rose
and looked doubtfully at us after Jimmie had fled.
“You mustn't mind his—what he said or implied,” she said, the
colour again rising in her creamy cheeks. “Jimmie never realises how
things will sound, or I think he wouldn't—or I don't know—” She
hesitated between her desire to clear Jimmie and her absolute
truthfulness. She changed the conversation by coming over to me and
laying her hand tenderly on my hair.
“You are sure, dear, that you don't mind lodging with Judas
Bee stuffed her handkerchief into her mouth and politely turned her
back. I bit my lip. It hurts her feelings to be laughed at.
“Not a bit, Mrs. Jimmie. I shall love it.”
“Because I was going to say that if you did, I would gladly exchange
with you, and you could lodge with Mary.”
“Mrs. Jimmie,” I said, “you are an angel. That's what you are.”
“And now,” said Bee, cheerfully, who hates sentiment, “let's pack,
for we leave at noon.”
I don't apologise for Jimmie's ribald conversation, because many
people, until they have seen the Passion Play, make frivolous remarks,
which would be impossible after viewing it, except to the totally
insensible or irreligious.
Jimmie is irreligious, but not insensible. He really had gone to no
end of trouble to obtain these lodgings for us, and he had insisted so
tenaciously that we must be lodged with the principals that we were
obliged to wait for an extra performance, and live in Munich meanwhile.
We all four made the journey from Munich to Oberammergau, which lies
in so picturesque a spot in the Bavarian Alps, from very different
motives. Mrs. Jimmie, who is an ardent churchwoman, went in a spirit of
deep devotion. Bee went because one agent told her that over twelve
thousand Americans had been booked through their company alone. Bee
goes to everything that everybody else goes to. Jimmie went in exactly
the same spirit of boyish, alert curiosity with which, when he is in
New York, he goes to each new attraction at Weber and Field's.
As we got off the train the little town looked like an exposition,
except that there were no exhibits. English, German, and French spoken
constantly, and not infrequently Russian, Spanish, and Italian assailed
our ears the whole time we were there. Only one thing was
characteristic. The native peasants looked different. The picturesque
costume of the Tyrolese men, consisting of velveteen knee breeches, gay
coloured stockings, embroidered white blouse, and short bolero jacket
with gold braid or fringe, and the Alpine hat, with a pheasant or eagle
feather in it, sat jauntily upon most of the young men, whose bold
glances and sinewy movements suggested their alert, out-of-door life in
their mountain homes. But the Oberammergau peasants walked with a
slower step. Their eyes were meek instead of roving, their smiles
tender instead of saucy, and they say it is all the influence of the
Passion Play, which for over three hundred years has dominated their
lives. No one who commits a crime, or who lives an impure life, can act
in the great drama, nor can any except natives take part. And as the
ambition of every man, woman, and child in Oberammergau is to form part
of this glorious company, the reason for the purity of their aspect is
at once to be seen. No murder, robbery, or crime of any description has
been committed in Oberammergau for three hundred years.
The peasants of this little mountain village live their whole lives
under the shadow of the cross.
Nor was it long before our little party came under this strange
influence. My own sense of the eternal fitness of things is so highly
developed that I was under the tense strain of nervous excitement which
always wrecks me after reading a strong novel or witnessing a tragic
play. I was afraid to see the Passion Play for two reasons. One that I
could not bear to see the Saviour of mankind personified, and the other
that I was afraid that the audience would misbehave. If I am going to
have my emotions wrenched, I never want any one near me. To my mind the
mad King Ludwig of Bavaria obtained the highest enjoyment possible from
having performances of magnificent merit with himself as the sole
auditor. This world is so mixed anyway, and audiences at any
entertainment so hopelessly beyond my control. Nothing, for example,
makes me feel so murderous as for an audience to go mad and stamp and
kick and howl over a cornet solo with variations, no matter how ribald,
and beg for more of it. And they always do!
The Passion Play, up to a comparatively few years ago, had comic
characters and scenes, as for instance, there was once a scene in hell
where the Devil, as chief comedian, ripped open the bowels of Judas and
took therefrom a string of sausages. This vulgar and hideous buffoonery
was in the habit of being received with delight by the peasants from
neighbouring hamlets, which, up to fifty years ago, formed the
principal part of the Passion Play audiences.
And as tradition, the handing down of legends from father to son,
forms such a part of the mountaineer's education, I was not surprised
to hear a party of Tyrolese giggle at moments when the deeper meaning
of the play was holding the rest of us in a spell so tense that it
I remember in Modjeska's rendition of Frou-frou, when Frou-frou's
lover is breaking her heart, and the strain becomes almost unbearable,
Modjeska's nervous hands tear her valuable lace handkerchief into bits.
It is a piece of inspired acting to make the discriminating weep, but
my friend the audience always giggled irresistibly, as if the sound of
rending lace, when a woman's agony was the most intense, were a bit of
I am constrained to believe, however, that in almost entirely
remodelling the Passion Play, the village priest, Daisenberger, was not
moved by any consideration of what an ignorant audience might do, but
rather by the noble, Oberammergau spirit of a life of devotion,
dedicated to the rewriting, rehearsing, and directing of the
The history of this man illustrates what I mean by the Oberammergau
spirit. In 1830 he was a young peasant who saw the possibilities of the
Passion Play. He went to the head of the Monastery at Ettal, and vowed
to consecrate his whole life to this work, if they would make him a
priest and permit him to become the spiritual director of the people of
the village. But he was obliged to study seven years before they gave
him the position. He was seventy years old when he died, having so
nobly fulfilled his vow that he is called “The Shakespeare of the
Passion Play.” For forty-five years he superintended every performance
and every public rehearsal, and as these rehearsals take place in some
form or other almost every night during the ten years which intervene
between one performance and another, something of the depth of his
devotion to his beloved task may be gathered.
Jimmie marvelled that he could leave his money and his valuables
around, and his room door unlocked, until they told him that the street
door was never locked either. At this information Jimmie grew
suspicious, and locked his bedroom door, much to the affliction of the
gentle family of Bertha Wolf, who plays Mary Magdalene. He explained to
them that there were plenty of Italian, French, and English robbers,
even if there were no Tyrolese. “And are there no American robbers?”
they asked, simply, to which Jimmie replied with equal guilelessness
that Americans in Europe had no time to rob other people, they were so
busy in being robbed.
“People think we are so very rich, you see,” he explained, when they
gazed at him uncomprehendingly. Then he gave the little brown-eyed boy
who clings to his mother's skirt in one of the tableaux five pfennigs
to see him clap his hands twice and bob his yellow head, which is the
way Tyrolese children express their thanks.
This living in the families of the actors was most interesting,
except for the autograph fiends, who simply mobbed the Christus, Anton
Lang, and Josef Maier, the Christus of the last three performances, who
now takes the part of the speaker of the prologue. Those dear people
were so obliging that no one was ever refused, consequently thousands
of tourists must possess autographs of most of the principals. Not one
of our party asked an autograph of anybody. I hope they are grateful to
us. I should think they would remember us for that alone.
Mrs. Jimmie was not at all disturbed by the somewhat wooden and
inadequate acting of Anna Flunger, who plays Mary, and loved, I believe
almost worshipped, that young peasant girl, who walked bareheaded and
with downcast eyes through the streets, or who waited upon the guests
in her father's house with such sweet simplicity. To Mrs. Jimmie, Anna
Flunger was the real Virgin Mary, so real, indeed, that I believe that
Mrs. Jimmie could almost have prayed to her.
Even Bee was intensely touched by an act of Peter,—for her lodging
was changed to the house of Thomas and Peter Rendl after we arrived.
The father, Thomas Rendl, plays St. Peter, while his son is again John,
the beloved disciple. He played John in 1890, at the age of seventeen,
but they say that there is not a line in his beautiful, spiritual face
to show the flight of time. His large liquid eyes follow the every
movement of the Master's on the stage, and their expression is so
hauntingly beautiful that even Bee admitted its influence. Bee said
that one evening, as they were sitting around the table, resting for a
moment after supper was finished, the village church bell began to ring
for the Angelus. In an instant the two men and the two women politely
made their excuses and rising, stood in the middle of the room facing
eastward, crossing their hands upon their breasts in silent prayer. Bee
said it was most beautiful to see how simply they performed this little
act of devotion.
I wouldn't let Jimmie know of it for the world, but it has been
quite a trial to me to live in the house with Judas. He plays with such
tremendous power—he makes it seem so real, so close, so near. Once I
asked him if he liked the part, and he broke down and wept. He said he
hated it—that he loathed himself for playing it, and that his one
ambition was to be allowed to play the Christus for just one time
before he died, in order to wipe out the disgrace of his part as Judas
and to cleanse his soul. I cried too, for I knew that his ambition
could never be realised. I told him that perhaps they would allow him
to act the part at a rehearsal, if he told them of his ambition, and
the thought seemed to cheer him. He said he knew the part perfectly,
and had often rehearsed it in private to comfort his own soul.
Such was his sincerity and grief, such his contrition and remorse
after a performance, that it would not surprise me some day to know
that the part had overpowered him, and that he had actually hanged
As to the play itself—I wish I need say nothing about it. My mind,
my heart, my soul, have all been wrenched and twisted with such emotion
as is not pleasant to feel nor expedient to speak about. It was too
real, too heart-rending, too awful. I hate, I abhor myself for feeling
things so acutely. I wish I were a skeptic, a scoffer, an atheist. I
wish I could put my mind on the mechanism of the play. I wish I could
believe that it all took place two thousand years ago. I wish I didn't
know that this suffering on the stage was all actual. I wish I thought
these people were really Tyrolese peasants, wood-carvers and potters,
and that all this agony was only a play. I hate the women who are
weeping all around me. I hate the men who let the tears run down their
cheeks, and whose shoulders heave with their sobs. It is so awful to
see a man cry.
But no, it is all true. It is taking place now. I am one of the
women at the foot of the cross. The anguish, the cries, the sobs are
all actual. They pierce my heart. The cross with its piteous burden is
outlined against the real sky. The green hill beyond is Calvary. Doves
flutter in and out, and butterflies dart across the shafts of sunlight.
The expression of Christ's face is one of anguish, forgiveness, and
pity unspeakable. Then his head drops forward on his breast. It grows
dark. The weeping becomes lamentation, and as they approach to thrust
the spear into His side, from which I have been told the blood and
water really may be seen to pour forth, I turn faint and sick and close
my eyes. It has gone too far. I no longer am myself, but a disorganised
heap of racked nerves and hysterical weeping, and not even the descent
from the cross, the rising from the dead, nor the triumphant ascension
can console me nor restore my balance.
The Passion Play but once in a lifetime!
CHAPTER VI. MUNICH TO THE ACHENSEE
If there were a country where the crowned heads of Europe in ball
costume sat in a magnificent hall, drinking nothing less than
champagne, while the court band discoursed bewitching music, and the
electric lights flashed on myriads of jewels, Bee and Mrs. Jimmie would
declare that sort of Bohemia to be quite in their line. And because
that kind of refined stupidity would bore Jimmie and me to the verge of
extinction, and because we really prefer an open-air concert-garden
with beer, where the people are likely to be any sort of cattle whom
nobody would want to know, yet who are interesting to speculate about,
I really believe that Bee and Mrs. Jimmie think we are a little low.
However, their impossible tastes being happily for us unattainable,
three hours after our arrival in Munich found Jimmie proudly marching
three sailor-hat and shirt-waist women into the Lowenbraukeller.
It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when we arrived, and we
took our seats at a little table in the terraced garden. A rosy-cheeked
maid, who evidently had violent objections to soap, brought us our
beer, and then we looked around. There was music, not very good, only a
few people smoking china pipes and not even drinking beer, a few idly
reading the paper, and a general air over everybody of Mr. Micawber
waiting for something to turn up.
Jimmie glanced around anxiously. The length of our stay depended
upon our ability to please Mrs. Jimmie and Bee, who were easily
fatigued by the populistic element of society.
“Nothin' doin',” growled Jimmie in my ear. “Wake 'em up, can't you?
Create a riot. Let's smash our beer-mugs, and shout 'Down with the
“You'd find you would stay longer than you wanted to if you did
that,” I said. “What do you suppose they are all waiting for?”
Jimmie called the redolent maiden, and in German which made her
quiver put the question.
“At five o'clock they will open a fresh hogshead of beer—the
Lowenbrau,” she answered him.
“Fresh beer?” cried Jimmie. “How long has this been opened?”
“Great Scott!” whispered Jimmie. “Think of me brought up on a
bottle, coming to a land where men will sit for an hour to get beer the
first five minutes it is opened.”
“See, they are opening it now,” said the maid.
Sure enough, every man in the garden slowly rose and ambled
leisurely to a horse-trough in the centre of the garden in which lay
perhaps a score of mugs in running water. Each took a stein or two or
three, depending on his party, and formed in line in front of the
counter across which the beer was passed.
“Come, Jimmie,” I said. “I'm going to get my own stein.”
“Why do they do that?” asked Mrs. Jimmie, after we had got in line.
“It saves the half-cent charged for service,” answered the maid.
“Now isn't she funny!” complained Bee of me as I returned beaming
with content. “She likes to go and do a queer thing like that
instead of sitting still to be waited on, like a lady.”
“Been waited on a million times like a lady,” I ventured to respond.
“It isn't every day one can get a cool mug and see the beer
drawn fresh and foaming like that. I felt like a Holbein painting.”
Bee, as at Baden-Baden, plaintively gave the attendant a double fee
to show that meanness had not caused my apparently thrifty act. Then
for the first time in our lives we found what fresh beer really meant.
Even Bee and Mrs. Jimmie admitted that it was worth while coming,
and let me record in advance that when we got to Vienna, and they
served us an equally delicious beer in long thin glasses as delicate as
an eggshell, Bee grew so enthusiastic in the process of beer drinking
that Jimmie grew absurdly proud of his pupil, and professed to think
that she was “coming round after all.” But Bee declared that it was the
thinness of the glasses which attracted her, and insisted that beer out
of a German stein was like trying to drink over a stone wall.
We went many times after that, generally in the evening, when the
concert was held in a hall which must have contained two thousand
people, even when all seated at little tables, and where the band would
have deafened you if the hall had not been so large. Here Jimmie and
the waitress prevailed upon us to taste the most inhuman dishes with
names a yard long, which the maid declared we would find to be
We began in a spirit of adventure, but Jimmie's taste in food is so
depraved that if he followed the precedent all through his life,
Lombroso would class him as a degenerate. As it was, he soon had us
distanced. But we let him eat pickles and cherries and herring and
cream and tripe and garlic and pig's feet all stewed up together, while
we listened to the music, and planned what we would bury him in.
The pictures in Munich we loved. I must say that I enjoy the
atmosphere of the Munich school better than any other. There is a
healthiness about German realism that one is not afraid nor ashamed to
admire. French realism is like a suggestive story, expunged of all but
the surface fun for girls' hearing. You are afraid of the laugh it
raises for fear there is something beneath it all that you don't
understand. But the modern Munich galleries were not the task that
picture galleries often are. They were a sincere delight, and let me
pause to say that Munich art was one thing that we four were unanimous
in praising and enjoying as a happy and united family.
It was here that Jimmie proceeded to go mad over Verboeckhoven's
sheep pictures, and Mrs. Jimmie and Bee over the crown jewels in the
Treasury of the Alte Residenz. To be sure they are fine. For
example, there is the famous “Pearl of the Palatinate,” which is half
black, and a glorious blue diamond about twice as fine as the one owned
by Lord Francis Hope, which his family went to law to prevent his
selling not long ago, and a superb group of St. George and the dragon,
the knight being in chased gold, the dragon made entirely of jasper,
and the whole thing studded thickly with precious stones of every
description. But, except that these things are historic and kept in
royal vaults, they are no more wonderful than jewellers' exhibits at
But if you want to be thoroughly mixed up on the Nibelungenlied,
after you think you have got those depraved old parties with their
iniquitous marriages and loose morals pretty well adjusted by a
faithful attendance at Walter Damrosch's lectures and Wagner operas,
just go through the Koenigsbau, and let one of those automatic
conductors in uniform take you through the Schnorr Nibelungen Frescoes,
and from personal experience I will guarantee that, when you have
completed the rounds, you won't even know who Siegfried is.
There is one thing particularly worth mentioning about Munich, and
that is that also in Alte Residenz, in the Festsaalbau, which faces on
the Hofgarten, and is 256 yards, not feet, long, are two small card
rooms, with what they call a “gallery of beauties.”
Now everybody knows how disappointing professional beauties are.
Think over the names of actresses heralded as “beauties;” of belles,
who have been said to turn men's heads by the score; of Venuses, and
Psyches, and Madonnas of the galleries of Europe, and tell me your
honest opinion. Aren't most of them really—well, trying, to say
Titian's beauties all need an obesity remedy, and Jimmie criticises
most “beauties” so severely that we have got to searching them out,
when we are tired and cross, just to vent our spleen upon.
Jimmie's favourite story is the old, old one of the old woman who
saw a hippopotamus for the first time. She looked at him a moment in
silence and then said: “My! ain't he plain!”
It is pre-historic, that story, but it has saved our lives many a
time in Europe. It fits so many cases, and I mention it here just to
prove my point. Go, then, to the “Gallery of Beauties” in the Palace,
and you will find thirty-six portraits by Steiler, of thirty-six of the
most exquisite women conceivable to the mind of man. Some of these are
women, like the Empress of Austria, who were justly famed for a beauty
which is not often the gift of royalty. Others are women of whom you
have never heard, but so lovely that it would be impossible not to
remember their loveliness for ever and a day.
We all enthusiastically bought photographs of the painting of the
Empress Elizabeth at the age of eighteen, which to my mind is one of
the most exquisite faces ever put upon canvas, and then, highly elated
with our presentation of Munich to Mrs. Jimmie and Bee, we gaily wended
our way southward, following the river Isar for a time, until we
reached Innsbruck, on our way to the Achensee.
At Innsbruck we halted for a sentimental reason which I am not
ashamed to divulge, as the ridicule of the public would be sweet
approval compared to the way Jimmie wore himself to a shadow in the
violence of his jeers. But the fact is that the King Arthur of Tennyson
has always been one of my heroes, and in the Franciscan Church or the
Hofkirche in Innsbruck, there were twenty-eight heroic bronze statues,
the finest of these being of Arthur, Koenig von England, by the famous
Peter Vischer of Nuremberg.
So in Innsbruck we paused for a few days, finding it delightful
beyond our ideas of it, and exquisitely picturesque, situated on both
banks of a dear little foaming, yellow river, with foot-bridges upon
which you may stand and watch it rage and churn, and around it on all
sides rising the mountains of the Bavarian Alps, which are not so near
as to crowd you. Mountains smother me as a rule.
Jimmie obligingly took us at once to the Hofkirche, to get to which
we passed under the Triumphal Gate, erected by the citizens on the
occasion of the entry of the Emperor Francis I. and the Empress Maria
Theresa, to commemorate the marriage of Prince Leopold, who afterward
became the Emperor Leopold II., with the Infanta Maria Ludovica. This
magnificent arch is of granite and will last thousands of years. It
reminded me of the Dewey Arch in New York—it was so different.
The Emperor Maximilian I. directed in his will that the Hofkirche
should be built, and in the centre of the nave he is represented
kneeling by a sumptuous bronze statue, surrounded by the statues I had
come to see. Jimmie declared that the marble sarcophagus upon which the
statue of Maximilian is placed was “worth the price of admission,” but
Jimmie's opinion is of no value except when he is accidentally right,
as in this instance. He studied this and the monument of Andreas Hofer,
whose remains are buried here, under a magnificent sarcophagus of
Tyrolese marble, leaving us to our bronze statues.
I found my King Arthur perfectly satisfactory, much to my surprise,
for I am always prepared to be disappointed. Some of the statues are
ridiculous in the extreme, but these monstrosities served the better to
emphasise the dignity of King Arthur's pose and the nobility of his
Just after you leave the Hofkirche, you find yourself just opposite
to the “Golden Dachl,” which the natives tell you is a roof built of
pure gold, but which the skeptical declare to be copper gilded. This
roof covers a handsome Gothic balcony and blazes as splendidly as if it
were gold, as Bee and Mrs. Jimmie preferred to believe. It is said to
have cost seventy thousand dollars, and was built by Count Frederick of
Tyrol, who was called “The Count of the Empty Pockets,” to refute his
While we were taking infinite satisfaction in this little history,
we lost Jimmie. He emerged presently from a handsome shop near by
followed by a man bearing a large box.
“What have you been buying, Jimmie?” we demanded, suspiciously.
“Only a replica of Maximilian's statue,” he answered, blandly.
“You mean a 'copy,' my darling,” I corrected him, sweetly.
Now Jimmie loves a fight and so do I, so we immediately offered
battle to each other, Jimmie insisting on his replica, and I declaring
that a replica meant that the same artist must have made both the
original and the second article, which when made by another craftsman
became a “copy.”
Jimmie got red in the face and abusive, while I remained cool and
exasperating. I was getting even with Jimmie for everything since
But conceive, if you can, my utter humiliation when, upon arriving
at the hotel, I discovered that the box contained, not Maximilian, but
my dear King Arthur, and that Jimmie had bought it for me!
I really cried.
“Jimmie,” I said in a meek and lowly voice, “you are an angel—a
bright, beautiful, golden angel, and from now on, I'll call this a
replica,—when I'm talking to a wayfaring man. And I'll never, never
fight with you again!”
“Then gimme back that bronze man!” declared Jimmie. “If you give up
the battlefield I'll start home to-morrow!” Which shows you where I got
encouragement to be “ungentlemanly,” as Jimmie calls me.
Innsbruck is the capital of Tyrol, and the whole country of Tyrol is
like a picture-book. Its history is so stirring, its country so
beautiful, its people are so picturesque. There are any number of
dainty little lakes lying in among its mountains, which are accessible
to the tourist, and therefore semi-public, by which I mean not as
public as the Swiss or Italian lakes. But up the Inn River a few miles,
and completely hidden from the tourist, being out of the way and little
known to Americans, there lies the most lovely lake of all, the
Achensee, and all around it the Tyrolese peasants, as they ought to be
allowed to remain, simple, primitive, natural. We wanted to see them
dance. So regardless of whether an iron bound itinerary would take us
there next, we folded away our maps, put our trust in our little yellow
coupon ticket book, and started for the Achensee. From the moment we
began to see less of tourists and more of the natives, Jimmie's and my
spirits rose. Chiffon and patent leather might belong to Bee and Mrs.
Jimmie, but here in the Austrian Tyrol, Jimmie and I were getting our
We got off the train at Jenbach and left our trunks there. Then on
the same platform, but behind it, and a few yards beyond the station,
there is a curious little hunchbacked engine and an open car. Into this
car we climbed with our handbags, and beheld on the same seat with Mrs.
Jimmie a beautiful woman in a gown unmistakably from Paris, who looked
so familiar that we could scarcely keep from staring her out of
countenance. Finally Bee leaned across and whispered:
“Don't look, but isn't that Madame Carreno?”
Without heeding Bee's polite warning, I turned and pounced upon my
“My dear child!”
“What in the world are you doing here?”
“Why I live here! And you? How came you to find your
way to this inaccessible spot?”
“We are going to the Achensee—to the Hotel Rhiner, to hear
“You have heard of my little friend Therese, and you have come—how
many thousand miles?—to hear her sing and play on her zither?”
“To do all that, but mostly to see if she will tell me her love
“How do you know she had one?” inquired Madame Carreno, quickly.
“I heard of it in England. Some one who knew the duke told me.”
“It was a lucky escape for her, and I think she will tell you all
about it. You see it happened, ah, so many years ago.”
To my mind, Madame Carreno is the most wonderful genius of modern
times at the piano. I have heard all the others scores of times, so
don't argue with me. You may all worship whom you will, but the whole
musical part of my heart is at Madame Carreno's feet, with a small
corner saved for Vladimir de Pachmann, when he plays Chopin. She claims
to be an American, but she plays with a heart of a Slav, and as one
whose untamed spirit can never be held in leash even by her music. Her
playing is so intoxicating that it goes through my veins like wine. The
last time I heard her play was in an enormous hall in the West, when
her audience was composed of music lovers of every class and
description. Just back of me was a woman whose whole soul seemed to
respond to Carreno's hypnotic genius. Carreno had just finished Liszt's
“Rhapsodic Hongroise” No. 2, and had followed it up with a mad
Tschaikowsky fragment. I was so excited I was on the verge of tears
when I heard the woman behind me catch her breath with a sob and
“My Lord! Ain't she got vinegar!”
I repeated this to Madame Carreno at Jenbach, and she seized my
hands and shouted with laughter. Such a grip as she has! Her hands are
filled with steel wires instead of muscles, and her arms have the
strength of an athlete in training.
The car propelled by the hunchbacked engine grated and bumped its
way over its cog-wheel road, pushing its delighted quota of passengers
higher and higher into the mountains. The Inn valley fell away from our
view, and wooded slopes, fir-trees, patches of snow on far hillsides,
and tiny hamlets took its place.
“Here and there among these little villages live my summer pupils,”
said Madame Carreno. “I have six. One from San Francisco, one from
Australia, one from Paris, one from Geneva, and two from Russia—all
young girls, and with such talent! They live all the way from
Jenbach to the Achensee, and come to see me once a week.”
The train stopped with a final squeal of the chain, and a lurch
which loosened our joints.
Before us spread a sheet of water of such a blueness, such a limpid,
clear, deep sapphire blue as I never saw in water before.
Around it rose the hills of Tyrol, guarding it like sentinels.
It was the Achensee!
CHAPTER VII. DANCING IN THE AUSTRIAN
Jimmie is such a curious mixture that it is really very much worth
while to study his emotions. I think perhaps that even I, who find it
so hard to discover either man, woman, child, or dog whom I would
designate as “typically American,” am forced to admit that Jimmie's
mental make-up is perfect as a certain type of the American business
man, travelling extensively in Europe. The real bread of life to Jimmie
is the New York Stock Exchange; but being on the verge of a nervous
breakdown, he brought his fine steel-wire will to bear upon his
recreation with as much nervous force as he ever expended in a deal in
Third Avenue or Union Pacific.
Hence he travels nervously yet deliberately, and views Europe from
the point of view of the American stock market, scoffing at my
enthusiasm, ironical of Bee's most cherished preferences, patient with
his wife's serious love of society, and chivalrously tolerant, as only
the American man can be, of the prejudices of his travelling family.
I notice that he is taking on a certain amount of true culture. He
is broadening. Jimmie is beginning to let his emotions out; however,
very gradually, with a firm, nervous hand on the throttle-valve, with
the sensitive American's fear of ridicule as his steam-gauge.
I watched Jimmie as he first saw the Achensee. The colour came into
his face, his eyes brightened, and he clenched his hands—a sure sign
of feeling in Jimmie.
There was a little white steamboat at the pier. The lake spread out
before us was of the colour which you see when you look down into the
depths of some fine unmounted sapphire at Tiffany's. The pebbles on the
beach under the water looked as if they were in a basin of blueing. I
reached in to take one out, and thoroughly expected to find my hand
stained when I withdrew it. Around the lake arose little hills of the
same beauty and verdure as our Berkshires, with the exception that
these hills possessed a certain purplish, bluish haze with a gray mist
over them, which gave to their colouring the same softness that a woman
imparts to her complexion when she wears white chiffon under a black
I cannot understand what makes the Achensee so blue and the
Koenigsee so green. Chemically analysed, the waters are almost
identical, and the verdure surrounding them is very similar, and yet
the Koenigsee is as green as the Achensee is blue.
A little steamer took us around the edge of the lake, where at the
first landing-place Madame Carreno left us. We could only see the roof
of her cottage in the grove of trees.
There is a new hotel somewhere along the lake; but we left that,
with its modern equipments and electric lights, and went where we had
been directed—to the Hotel Rhiner. Fraeulein Therese met us at the
landing. Alas! she was no longer the beauty of her love story of thirty
years before. She was ample. Her short hair curled like a boy's, as
without a hat she stood under a green umbrella, to welcome her guests.
She had large feet, large hips, a large waist, and large lungs; but as
she took our hands in the friendliest of greetings, and beamed on us
from her full-moon face, we felt how delightful it was to get home once
The Hotel Rhiner is severely plain,—almost unfurnished,—and its
appointments are primitive in the extreme. There was no carpet upon the
floor of our rooms. Two little single beds stood side by side. A single
candle was supposed to furnish light, and the wash-bowl was about the
size of your hand. Yet everything was exquisitely clean, and from the
windows of our corner room stretched away the blue Achensee and the
mountains of the Tyrol, making a view which made you forget that the
sheets were damp, and that the chairs were uncushioned.
Physically, I am sure that I was never more uncomfortable than I was
at the Hotel Rhiner. The bed squeaked; the mattress, I think, was
filled with corn-shucks, the hard part of which had an ungentle way of
assailing you when you least expected it. Yet, if now were given to me
the choice of going back to the Elysee Palace in Paris, or the Hotel
Rhiner on the Achensee, it would not take me two seconds to start for
A rosy-cheeked, amply proportioned maid, named Rosa, dressed in the
picturesque costume of the Tyrolese peasants, installed us in our rooms
and advised us to row upon the lake and see the sunset before supper.
Tourists from the other hotels were being landed at our pier from
tiny boats, to have their supper at the Hotel Rhiner, for the cooking
is famous. Jimmie came and pounded on our door, executing a small
war-dance in the corridor when we appeared,
“We've struck our gait,” he said, ecstatically, to me. “Virtue is
its own reward. This pays us for Baden-Baden and Paris. What do you
think? The Rhiner family themselves do the cooking. There are the old
mother, Fraeulein Therese, three sons, two daughters-in-law, and five
grandchildren who run this house. I have ordered the corner table on
the veranda for supper—and such a table! And afterward there is going
to be a dance in the kitchen. Fraeulein Therese has promised to play
for us on her zither, and there is going to be singing. Now, come along
and let's do the sunset stunt.”
Bee and Mrs. Jimmie followed us with gentle apprehension, for they
are always a little suspicious of anything that Jimmie and I
particularly like. Under a long, sloping roof we found several dozen
little row-boats, with the “shipmaster,” a peasant whose costume might
have come out of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera. He launched us, however,
and the boat shot out into the lake, with Jimmie and me at the oars,
and then we saw a sight that none of us had ever seen before. The air
was wonderfully calm and still. The only ripple on the lake was that
which was left by our boat as we rowed out to where there was a break
in the hills. On the east and west, there the tallest hills fall away
from the Achensee and make an undulating line on the horizon. As we
reached this break, we stopped rowing, transfixed by the glory of the
The sun was just setting, a great molten mass of flame, splashing
down in the crimson clouds, which showed in the aperture between the
hills. Little thin wraiths of mist or haze curled up from this molten
mass into the rosy sky above, as if the gods on Olympus were mulling
claret for a marriage feast. The purple hills curved down on each side
in the exact shape of an amethyst punch-bowl, and the radiance of
colouring fairly blinded us. On the other hand, the full moon was
rising above the eastern hills in a haze of silver, but with a calmness
and serene majesty which formed a direct antithesis to the sinking sun
Lower and lower sank the king, going down out of sight finally in a
blaze of splendour which left the western sky aflame with light. In the
east higher and higher rose the queen, rising from her silver mists
into the clear pale blue of the sky, and sending her white lances
gliding across the blue waters of the Achensee, till their tips touched
We watched it, hushed, breathless, awed. I looked at Jimmie.
“What is it like?” murmured Bee.
And to my surprise, Jimmie answered her from out of the spell this
magic scene had caused, saying:
“It is like a glimpse of the splendours of the New Jerusalem.”
We had supper that night in the open air of the veranda, where
Jimmie had engaged the table. Hedwig, a waitress, whispered into my ear
confidentially that we would find the fish delicious, as they were some
of those the priests had not needed.
The Tyrol, especially in the vicinity of the Achensee, is absolutely
priest-ridden, every one, from the peasants to the gentry,
contributing, and the best in the land going into their larders and
We were indebted to the overfeeding of these fat priests for a
delicacy which was then unknown to me—broiled goose liver with onions.
It is a German dish, but a rarity not to be had in even all first-class
hotels in Germany and Austria. When you have it, it is announced to the
guests personally, with something the same air as if the proprietor
“Madame, the Emperor and his suite will dine at this hotel to-night,
Goose liver may not sound tempting to some, but as I saw it that
night, cooked by the old mother of Fraeulein Therese, a luscious white
meat delicately browned and smothered in onions as we smother a steak,
and so delicate that it melted in the mouth like an aspic jelly, it was
one of the most delicious dishes I ever essayed.
As we were eating our dessert, a gemischtes compote so rich
that it nearly sent us to our eternal rest, Fraeulein Therese came and
asked us to have our coffee in the kitchen. A long, low-ceiled room,
three steps below the level of the ground, with seats against the wall,
and a raised platform on each side, with little tables for coffee,
adjoined the hotel. This room at one time perhaps had been a real
kitchen, where cooking was done. Now it was turned into a place of
recreation. Around the walls were seated a variegated, almost motley,
array of men and women, from the dear old fat mother of Fraeulein
Therese and the three boys, the daughters-in-law, the granddaughters,
to a picturesque old man, whose coal-black beard fell almost to his
waist, our friend the “shipmaster,” and the band of four musicians, all
dressed in the Tyrolese costume, with the exception of the women of the
Some thirty years ago the father Rhiner, now dead and gone, the
mother, whose voice is still a wonder, Fraeulein Therese, and the three
boys journeyed to London to sing before the Queen at her jubilee. This
made them famous, and was the beginning of the Fraeulein's love story,
which was told me in London by Lady J., a relative of the duke who so
nearly wrecked the Fraeulein's life.
By telling the Fraeulein that I knew Lady J., I induced her to
repeat the story to me.
“It was in St. Petersburg that I saw him for the second time. He was
then the Marquis of B., in the suite of the Prince of Wales, when he
went to pay a visit to the Tzar's court. The marquis loved me, as I
thought sincerely. I was very young, and I believed him. After he went
back to London, he arranged for me to sing in grand opera; they tell me
that it was a lie; that I could not have sung in opera; that he only
wanted to get me away from my family. They tell me that it was a wise
thing, directed by God, that I should drop the letter in which he gave
me directions how to meet him, that my sister-in-law should find it,
and that my brother should overtake me at the train, and prevent my
going. I do not know. I only know that I have always loved him. Even
after he became the Duke of M., and married one of your countrywomen, I
still loved him. Now he is dead, and I love him still. See, I wear this
black ribbon always in his memory. Yet they tell me that he lied to me,
and that it was for the best. Well, we are all in God's hands.” And she
She drew her zither toward her, and began to play as I never heard
that simple little instrument played before. Then one by one they began
to sing. It was amazing how little of the freshness of their voices has
been lost during all this time. I never heard such singing. A bass
voice which would have graced the Tzar's choir, came booming from the
old man with the black beard, as they yodeled and sang and sang and
yodeled again, until their little audience went quite wild with
Bee and Mrs. Jimmie were beginning to forgive us. Jimmie dashed over
to Fraeulein Therese, at Bee's request, to ask who the old man was.
“It's the cowherd,” he announced, with his evil-minded simplicity,
and seemed to obtain a huge interior enjoyment from the way Bee pushed
her chair back out of range, and looked disgusted.
Presently came Rosa, the chambermaid, and Hedwig, the waitress, and
a dozen young men from the neighbouring hamlet, and began to dance the
“schuplattle.” I have seen this wonderful dance performed on the stage
and in other Tyrolese villages, but never have I seen it danced with
the abandonment of those young peasants in that little kitchen on the
Achensee. They were all beautiful dancers. The young “shipmaster"
seized our pretty Rosa around the waist, and they began to waltz.
Suddenly, without a moment's warning, they fell apart, with a yell from
the boy which curdled the blood in our veins. Rosa continued waltzing
alone, with her hands on her hips, while her partner did a series of
cart-wheels around the room, bringing up just in front of her, and
waltzing with her again without either of them losing a step. Then he
lifted her hands by the finger tips high above her head, and they
writhed their bodies in and out under this arch, he occasionally
stooping to snatch a kiss, and all the time their feet waltzing in
perfect time to the music. Suddenly, with another yell, he leaped into
the air, and, with Rosa waltzing demurely in front of him, began the
fantastic part of the schuplattle, which consists, as Jimmie says, “of
making tambourines all over yourself, spanking yourself on the arms,
thighs, legs, and soles of your feet, and the crown of your head, and
winding up by boxing your partner's ears or kissing her, just as you
I never saw anything like it. I never heard anything like it. It was
so exhilarating it aroused even the cowherd's enthusiasm, so that he
came and did a turn with Fraeulein Therese.
Then more of the peasants joined in the schuplattle, and in a moment
the kitchen was a mass of flying feet, waving arms, leaping, shouting
men and laughing girls, the dance growing wilder and wilder, until,
with a final yell that split the ears of the groundlings, the music
stopped, and the dancers sank breathless into their seats. The
excitement was contagious. One after another got up and danced singly,
each attempting to outdo the other.
The other guests, who had seen this before, by this time had
finished their coffee and left. Our little party remained. The
Fraeulein Therese came over to our table, saying that the “shipmaster"
would like very much to dance with me. I don't blush often, but I
actually felt my whole face blaze at the proposition. I protested that
I couldn't, and wouldn't; that I should die of fright if he yelled in
my ear, and that he would split my sleeves out if he tried “London
bridge” with me. She urged, and Jimmie urged, and Bee and Mrs. Jimmie
joined. So finally I did, the Fraeulein having warned him that I would
simply consent to waltz, with nothing else. They never reverse, the
music was fast and furious, and the room was as hot as a desert at
midday. After I had gone around that room twice with the “shipmaster,”
he whirled me to my seat, and for fully five minutes the room, the
musicians, and the tables continued the waltz that I had left off. It
makes me dizzy to think of it even now.
When I got my sight back, I looked apprehensively at Bee, to see if
I had gone beyond the limit which her own perfectly ladylike manner
always sets for me; but to my surprise her foot was tapping the floor,
and there was a gleam in her eyes which told the mischievous Jimmie
that the music was getting into Bee's blood. Jimmie wrenched my little
finger under the table and whispered:
“For two cents, Bee would do the skirt dance!”
“Ask her,” I whispered back.
He jogged her elbow and said:
“Give 'um the skirt dance, Bee. You could knock 'um all silly with
the way you dance.”
Bee needed no urging. It was quite evident she had made up her mind
to do it before we asked. She arose with a look of determination in her
eyes, which would have carried her through a murder. When Bee makes up
her mind to do a thing, she'll put it through, good or bad, determined
and remorseless, from giving a dinner to the poor to robbing a grave,
and nobody can stop her, or laugh her out of it any more than you can
persuade her to do it, if she doesn't want to. Nobody is responsible
for Bee's acts but herself. Therefore, I recall that scene with a
peculiar and exquisite joy which the truly good never feel.
Bee's travelling-skirt was tailor-made, tight at the belt, and of
ample fulness around the bottom. She had on a shirt-waist, a linen
collar, the Charvet tie, a black hat with a few gay coloured flowers on
it, and a lace petticoat from the Rue de la Paix. At the first strains
of the skirt dance from the delighted band Bee seized her skirts firmly
and began the dance which is so familiar to us, but which those
Tyrolese peasants had never seen before. Jimmie says he would rather
see Bee do the skirt dance than any professional he ever saw on any
stage. He says that her kicks are such poems that he forgives her
everything when he thinks of them, but when she danced that night,
Jimmie was so tickled by the excitement and polite interest she created
in her primitive audience, that he stretched himself out on the bench
in such shrieks of laughter that even Bee grinned at him, while I
simply passed away. She sat down, flushed, breathless, but triumphant.
Instantly she was surrounded by every young fellow in the room,
imploring her to dance with him, and at once Bee became the belle of
the ball. And, if you will believe it, when Mrs. Jimmie and I went
outside to get a breath of air, Bee, the ladylike; Bee, the
conservative; haughty, intolerant Bee, was dancing with the cowherd!
CHAPTER VIII. SALZBURG
We had our breakfast the next morning on the same piazza where we
had dined and where the early morning sun gave an entirely new aspect
to the eternal blueness of the Achensee. Oh, you who have seen only
Italian lakes, think not that you know blue when you see it, until you
have seen the Achensee!
“If you would only get back into yourself,” said Jimmie, addressing
my absent spirit, “you might help me decide where we shall go next.”
“I can't leave here,” I replied. “I cannot tear myself away from
“It is beautiful,” murmured Bee, dreamily, but she murmured
dreamily not so much because of the beauty of the scene as because
eating in the open air that early in the morning always makes her
“'Tis not that,” I responded. “'Tis because, while some few modest
triumphs have come my way, I think I never achieved one which gave me
such acute physical satisfaction as I underwent last night at my sister
Bee's success as a premiere danseuse. Shall I ever forget it?
Shall danger, or sickness, or poverty, or disaster ever blot from my
mind that scene? Jimmie, never again can she scorn us for our
sawdust-ring proclivities, for do you know, I shouldn't be
surprised to see her end her days on the trapeze!”
But if I fondly hoped to make Bee waver in her thorough approval of
her own acts, this cheerful exchange of badinage, where the exchange
was all on my part, undeceived me, for Bee simply looked at me without
replying, so Jimmie uncoiled himself and handed the map to Bee.
“Jimmie has talked nothing but salt mines for a fortnight,” said
Bee, finally, “yet by coming here we have left Salzburg behind us.”
“Let's go back then,” he said. “It isn't far, and it's all through a
For a wonder, we all agreed to this plan without the usual
discussion of individual tastes which usually follows the most
tentative suggestion on the part of any one of us who has the temerity
to leap into the arena to be worried.
The whole Rhiner family, including the chambermaid, the shipmaster,
and Bee's friend the cowherd, were on the little pier, under some
pretext or other, to see us off, and not only feeling but knowing that
we left real friends behind us, we started on our way to Jenbach, down
the same little cog-wheel road up which we had climbed, and, as Jimmie
said: “literally getting back to earth again,” for the descent was like
being dropped from the clouds.
The journey from Jenbach to Salzburg was indeed marvellously
beautiful, but some little time before we arrived Jimmie emerged from
his guide-book to say, somewhat timidly:
“Are you tired of lakes?”
“Tired of lakes? How could we be when we've only seen one this
“And that the most exquisite spot we have found this summer!”
“Certainly we are not tired of the beautiful things!”
From this avalanche of replies Jimmie gathered an idea of our
“Thank you!” he said, politely. “I think I understand. Would you
consent to turn aside to see the Koenigsee, another small lake which
belongs more to the natives than to the tourists?”
For reply, we simply rose in concert. Mrs. Jimmie drew on her gloves
and Bee pulled down her veil.
“When do we get off, Jimmie?”
“In ten minutes,” he said with a delighted grin. And in another ten
minutes we were off, and Salzburg was removed another twenty-four hours
But after the Achensee, the Koenigsee was something of an
anticlimax, although the natives were perfectly satisfactory, and not
an English word was spoken outside of our party. But as Jimmie speaks
German-American, we got what we wanted in the way of a boat, and found
that the Koenigsee is quite as green as the Achensee is blue. At least
it was the day we were there. The tiny Tyrolese lad who went with us as
guide, told us that it was sometimes as blue as the sky. But the black
shadows cast upon its waters by the steep cliffs which rise sheerly
from its sides, give back their darkness to the depths of the lake, and
for the scene of a picturesque murder it would be perfect. There is a
magnificent echo around certain parts of the Koenigsee, and swans
sailing majestically on the breast of the lake remind one of the
We rested that night at a dear little inn and the next morning took
up our interrupted journey to Salzburg.
On the way Jimmie talked salt mines to us until, when we arrived at
Salzburg, we imagined the whole town must be given up to them. But to
our surprise, and no less to our delight, we found Salzburg not only
one of the most picturesque towns we had met with, but interesting and
highly satisfactory, while the salt mines are not at Salzburg at all,
but half a day's drive away. Salzburg satisfied the entire emotional
gamut of our diversified and centrifugal party. It had mountains for
Jimmie, the rushing, roaring, picturesque little river Salzach for me,
the Residenz-Schloss, where the Grand Duke of Tuscany lives part of his
time, for Mrs. Jimmie and Bee, and the glorious views from every
direction for all of us. Here, also, Bee found her restaurants, with
bands, situated more delightfully than any we had found before.
Hills bound the town on two sides—thickly wooded, with ravishing
shades of green, to the side of which a schloss, or convent, or perhaps
only a terraced restaurant, clings like a swallow's nest. All the
bridle-paths, walks, and drives around Salzburg lead somewhere. You may
be quite certain that no matter what road you follow you will find your
There is one curious restaurant where we went for our first dinner,
because two rival singing societies were to furnish the programme. It
is reached by an enormous elevator which takes you up some two hundred
feet, where there spreads before you a series of terraces, each with
tables and diners, and above all the band-stand. Here were the singers
singing quite abominably out of key, but with great vigour and
earnestness, and always applauded to the echo, but getting quite a
little overcome by their exhilaration later in the evening. Then there
is the fortress protecting the town, the Nonnberg, the cloisters in
whose church are the oldest in Germany, and they won't let you in to
see them at any price. This of itself is an attraction, for as a rule
there is no spot so sacred, so old, or so queer in all Europe that you
can't buy admission to it. But when I found the cloisters of the
Convent Church closed to the gaping public, I thanked God and took
courage. We found another spot in Salzburg where they allow only men to
enter, but as we found plenty of those in Turkey, we paid no particular
attention to the Franciscan Monastery for barring women, except that we
had some curiosity to hear the performance which is given daily on the
pansymphonicon, a queer instrument invented by one of the monks.
Jimmie, of course, came out fairly bursting with unnecessary pride, and
to this day pretends that you have lived only half your life if you
haven't heard the pansymphonicon. We gave him little satisfaction by
asking no questions and yawning or asking what time it was every time
he tried to whet our curiosity by vague references and half
descriptions of it. Jimmie is a frightful liar, and would sacrifice his
hope of heaven to torture us successfully for half a day. I don't
believe one word of all he has said or hinted or drawn or sung about
that thing, and yet, I would give everything I possess, and all Bee's
good clothes, and all Mrs. Jimmie's jewels, if I could hear and see the
pansymphonicon just once!
One of the most romantic things we did was to take the little
railway leading to the top of the Gaisberg, where we spent the night at
the little Hotel Gaisbergspilze, and saw Salzburg lying beneath us,
twinkling with lights, and making a sight to be remembered for ever.
Tucked in among the Salzburg Alps you can see seven little lakes, and
the colouring, the dark shadows, and fleecy belts of clouds make it a
ravishing view, and full of a tender, poetic melancholy. Mr. and Mrs.
Jimmie sat very close together, and renewed the days of their courting,
but poor Bee and I held each other's hands and felt lonely.
The romance of the situation drove me to poetry, and reduced Bee to
the submission of listening to it—for a short time. Trust me! I know
how far to trespass on my sister's patience! But when I said,
“Never the time and place
And the loved one all together,”
Bee nodded a plaintive acquiescence.
In the morning, we almost saw the sun rise, but not quite.
Aigen, the chateau of Prince Schwarzenberg, was more cheerful; so was
Mozart's statue and his Geburthaus. I didn't know that
Mozart was born in Salzburg, but he was. There is something actually
furtive about the way certain facts have a habit of existing and I not
learning of them until everybody else has forgotten them.
We decided to make the excursion to the salt mine on Monday, and on
the Sunday Jimmie arranged for us to visit the Imperial chateau of
Helbrun, built in the seventeenth century, and promising us several new
features of amusement and interest not generally to be met with. Our
hotel being a very smart one, filled with Americans, we naturally had
on rather good frocks, for it was Sunday, and we were to drive instead
of taking the train. We had all been to the church in the morning, and
felt at liberty to escape from the gossip of the piazzas, and to amuse
ourselves in this decorous way.
Now, Jimmie is thoroughly ashamed of himself, and would give
anything if I would not tell this, but I have recently suffered an
attack of pansymphonicon, and this is my revenge.
I noticed something suspicious in Jimmie's childlike innocence and
elaborate amiability during our drive. If Jimmie is business-like and
somewhat indifferent, he is behaving himself. If he is officiously
attentive to our comfort, and his countenance is frank and open, look
out for him. I hate practical jokes, and on that Sunday I almost hated
We drove first into a great yard surrounded by high trees. The
horses were immediately taken from our carriage, as if our stay was to
be a long one. Then we made our way through the gates into what
appeared to be a lovely garden or park with gravelled walks, flowering
shrubs, and large shade trees. There were any number of pleasure
seekers there besides ourselves. Father, mother, and six or seven
children in one party, with the air of cheerfulness and
light-heartedness—an air of those who have no burdens to carry, and no
bills to pay, which characterises the Continental middle class on its
Sunday outing. It was impossible to escape them, for their cheerful
interest in our clothes, their friendly smiling countenances robbed
their attendance of all impertinence. Thus, somewhat of their company,
although not strictly belonging to it, we went to the Steinerne
Theatre, hewn in the rock, where pastorals and operas were at one time
performed under the direction of the prince-bishops.
Then, in front of the Mechanical Theatre, there is a flight of great
stone steps and balustrades of granite upon which, in company with our
German friends, we hung and climbed and stood, while the most ingenious
little play was performed by tiny puppets that I ever had the good
fortune to behold. Over and over again the midgets went through every
performance of mechanicism with such precision and accuracy that it
took me back to the first mechanical toy I ever possessed. This little
mechanical theatre is really a wonder.
I have never been sure how seriously to blame Jimmie for what
followed. At any rate, he knew something of the trick, and I have a
distant recollection of the gleam in his eyes when he led his
unsuspecting party along the gravel walk to the side of a certain
granite building, whose function I have forgotten. I remember standing
there and looking up the stone steps at our German friends, when
suddenly out from behind the stones of this building, from the cornice,
from above and from beneath, shot jets of water, drenching me and all
others who were back of me, and sending us forward in a mad rush to
gain the top of those stone steps, and so to safety. A stout German
frau, weighing something between three and four hundred pounds, trod on
the train of my gown, and the gathers gave way at the belt with that
horrid ripping noise which every woman has heard at some time of her
life. It generally means a man. It makes no difference, however; man or
woman, the result is the same. As I could not shake her off, and we
were both bound for the same place, she continued walking up my back,
and in this manner we gained the top of the steps and the gravelled
walk, only to find that thin streams of water from subterranean
fountains were shooting up through the gravel, making it useless to try
to escape. It was all over in a minute, but in the meantime we were
drenched within and without and in such a fury that I for one am not
recovered from it. It seems that this is one of the practical jokes of
which the German mind is capable. Practical jokes seem to me worse
than, and on the order of, calamities. Unfortunately Mrs. Jimmie was
the wettest of any of us. She had on better clothes than Bee or I, and
she refused to run, and she got soaking wet. I really pity Jimmie as I
look back on it.
The visit to the salt mine we had planned for the next day. It was
necessarily put off. Two of us were not on speaking terms with
Jimmie,—Bee and I,—while Mrs. Jimmie, from driving back to the hotel
in her wet clothes, had a slight attack of her strange trouble, croup.
Poor dear Mrs. Jimmie! However, Jimmie's repentance was so deep and
sincere, he was so thoroughly scared by the extent of the calamity, so
deeply sorry for our ruined clothes, apart from his anxiety over his
wife, that we finally forgave him and took him into our favour again,
to escape his remorseful attentions to us. So one day late, but on a
better day, we took a fine large carriage, having previously tested the
springs, and started for the salt mines. A description of that drive is
almost impossible. To be sure, it was hot, dusty, and long. Before we
got to the first wayside inn we were ravenous, and Jimmie's thirst
could be indicated only by capital letters. But winding in and out
among farmhouses with flower gardens of hollyhocks, poppies, and roses;
passing now a wayside shrine with the crucifixion exploited in heroic
size; houses and barns and stables all under one roof; and now
curiously painted doors peculiar to Bavarian houses; the country inns
with their wooden benches and deal tables spread under the shade of the
trees; parties of pedestrians, members of Alpine clubs, taking their
vacations by tramping through this wonderful district; the sloping
hills over and around which the road winds; the blues and greens and
shadows of the more distant mountains, all combine to make this road
from Salzburg to the salt mines one of the most interesting to be found
in all Germany.
Never did small cheese sandwiches and little German sausages taste
so delicious as at our first stop on our way to the salt mines. Jimmie
said never was anything to drink so long in coming. Near us sat eight
members of a Mannerchor, whose first act was to unsling a long
curved horn capable of holding a gallon. This was filled with beer, and
formed a loving-cup. Afterward, at the request of the landlord, and
evidently to their great gratification, these men regaled us with
songs, all sung with exceeding great earnestness, little regard to
tune, and great carelessness as to pitch; but, if one may judge from
their smiling and streaming countenances, the music had proved
perfectly satisfactory to the singers themselves. Another drive, and
soon we were at the mouth of the salt mine. We had learned previously
that the better way would be to go as a private party and pay a small
fee, as otherwise we would find ourselves in as great a crowd as on a
free day at a museum. If I remember rightly, four o'clock marks the
free hour. It had commenced to rain a little,—a fine, thin mountain
shower,—but the carriage was closed up, the horses led away to be
rested, and we three women pushed our way through the crowd of summer
tourists waiting for the free hour to strike in the courtyard, and
found ourselves in a room in which women were being arrayed in the salt
mine costume. This costume is so absurd that it requires a specific
Two or three motherly-looking German attendants gave us
instructions. Our costumes consisted of white duck trousers, clean, but
still damp from recent washing, a thick leather apron, a short duck
blouse, something like those worn by bakers, and a cap. The trousers,
being all the same size and same length, came to Bee's ankles, were
knickerbockers for me and tights for Mrs. Jimmie.
European travel hardens one to many of the hitherto essential
delicacies of refinement, which, however, the American instantly
resumes upon landing upon the New York pier; it being, I think, simply
the instinct of “when in Rome do as the Romans do,” which compels us to
pretend that we do not object to things which, nevertheless, are
never-ending shocks. I have seldom undergone anything more difficult
than the walk in broad daylight, across that courtyard to the mouth of
the salt mine. We were borne up by the fact that perhaps one hundred
other women were similarly attired, and that both men and women looked
upon it as a huge joke and nothing more. One rather incomprehensible
thing struck us as we left the attiring-room. This was the use of the
leather apron. The attendant switched it around in the back and tied it
firmly in place, and when we demanded to know the reason, she said, in
German, “It is for the swift descent.”
Jimmie was similarly arrayed when he met us at the door, but he
seemed to know no more about it than we did. At the mouth of the salt
mine we were met by our conductor, who took us along a dark passage,
where all the lights furnished were those from the covered candles
fastened to our belts, something on the order of the miner's lamp.
Further and further into the blackness we went, our shoes grinding
into the coarse salt mixed with dirt, and the dampness smelling like
the spray from the sea. Presently we came to the mouth of something
that evidently led down somewhere. Blindly following our guide who sat
astride of a pole, Jimmie planted himself beside him, astride of the
guide's back; Mrs. Jimmie, after having absolutely refused, was finally
persuaded to place herself behind Jimmie, then came Bee, and last of
Our German is not fluent, nevertheless we asked many questions of
the guide, whose only instructions were to hold on tight. He then asked
us if we were ready.
“Ready for what?” we said.
“For the swift descent,” he answered.
“The descent into what?” said Jimmie.
But at that, and as if disdaining our ignorance, we suddenly began
to shoot downward with fearful rapidity on nothing at all. All at once
the high polish on the leather aprons was explained to me. We were not
on any toboggan; we formed one ourselves.
When we arrived they said we had descended three hundred feet. But
we women had done nothing but emit piercing shrieks the entire way, and
it might have been three hundred feet or three hundred miles, for all
we knew. After our fierce refusal to start and our horrible screams
during the descent, Jimmie's disgust was something unspeakable when we
instantly said we wished we could do it again. Our guide, however,
being matter of fact, and utterly without imagination, was as
indifferent to our appreciation as he had been to our screams.
He unmoored a boat, and we were rowed across a subterranean lake
which was nothing more or less than liquid salt. We were in an enormous
cavern, lighted only by candles here and there on the banks of the
lake. The walls glittered fitfully with the crystals of salt, and there
was not a sound except the dipping of the oars into the dark water.
Arriving at the other side, we continued to go down corridor after
corridor, sometimes descending, sometimes mounting flights of steps,
always seeing nothing but salt—salt—salt.
In one place, artificially lighted, there are exhibited all the
curious formations of salt, with their beautiful crystals and varied
colours. It takes about an hour to explore the mine, and then comes
what to us was the pleasantest part of all. There is a tiny narrow
gauge road, possibly not over eighteen inches broad, upon which are
eight-seated, little open cars. It seems that, in spite of sometimes
descending, we had, after all, been ascending most of the time, for
these cars descend of their own momentum from the highest point of the
salt mine to its mouth. The roar of that little car, the occasional
parties of pedestrians we passed, crowded into cavities in the salty
walls (for the free hour had struck), who shouted to us a friendly good
luck, the salt wind whistling past our ears and blowing out our
lanterns, made of that final ride one of the most exhilarating that we
But, of course, from now on in describing rides we must always
except “the swift descent.”
CHAPTER IX. ISCHL
We were wondering where we should go next with the delicious idle
wonder of those who drop off the train at a moment's notice if a fellow
passenger vouchsafes an alluring description of a certain village, or
if the approach from the car window attracts. Only those who have bound
themselves down on a European tour to an itinerary can understand the
freedom and delight of idle wanderings such as ours. We never feel
compelled to go on even one mile from where we thought for a moment we
should like to stop.
It was Jimmie who made this plan possible, without the friction and
unnecessary expense which we should have incurred had we followed this
plan, and bought tickets from one city to another, but in fussing
around information bureaux and railway stations, Jimmie unearthed the
information that one can buy circular tickets of a certain route,
embodying from one to three months in time, and including all the spice
for a picturesque trip of Germany and Austria, where one would
naturally like to travel. By purchasing these little books with the
tickets in the form of coupons at the railway station we saved the
additional fee which the tourist agent usually exacts, and this frugal
act so filled us with joy that our trip proved unusually expensive, for
at every stop we indulged in a small extravagance which we felt that we
could well afford on account of this accidental saving at the start. We
have been so amply repaid at every pause on our journey that it has
become a matter of pride with Jimmie and me to have no falling off from
the standard we had set. Therefore Jimmie came and sat down by me one
morning and said:
“Ever hear of Ischl?”
“No,” I said, “what is it? But I warn you beforehand that I sha'n't
touch it if it's a mixture of sarsaparilla and ginger ale, or lime
juice and red ink, or anything like that thing you—”
“It isn't a drink,” said Jimmie, in disgust. “It's a town! If people
who read your stuff realised how little you know—”
“I am perfectly satisfied,” I said, looking at him firmly, “that it
isn't twenty minutes since you found what Ischl is yourself. You never
learned a thing in your life that you didn't bring it to me as though
you had known it for ever, whereas your information is always so fresh
that it's still bubbling, and if Kissingen is a town as well as a
drink, why shouldn't Ischl be a drink as well as a town?”
My triumphant manner was a little annoying that early in the
morning, but as Jimmie really had something to say, my gauntlet lay
where I cast it, unnoticed by the adversary.
“Now Ischl,” said Jimmie, “is where the Austrian Emperor has his
summer residence. It is tucked up in the hills with drives which you
would call 'heavenly.' People from all over Austria gather there during
the season. There will be royalty for my wife; German officers for Bee;
heaps of people for you to stare at, and as for me, I don't need any
attraction. I can be perfectly happy where there is no strife and where
I can enjoy the delight of a small but interesting family party.”
I smiled at this statement, for when Jimmie is not carefully
stirring me up for argument or battle, I always feel his pulse to see
if he is ill.
“It will probably please Bee and Mrs. Jimmie,” I said, doubtfully,
“and they have been so good to us at the Achensee and Salzburg,
“That's just what I was thinking,” said Jimmie. “You're a good old
sort. You're as square as a man.”
At this, I positively gurgled with delight, for it is not once in a
million—no, not once in ten million years that Jimmie says anything
decent about me to my face. I sometimes hear rumours of approving
remarks that he makes behind my back, but I never have been able to run
any of them to earth.
“If Ischl is a royal country-seat,” said Jimmie, “I'll bet you a '
blaue cravatte' for yourself against a 'blaue cravatte' for
myself—both to come from Charvet's—that Bee will know all about it.”
“You can't bet with me on that because I know I'd lose. I'll bet
that they both know all about it. Let's ask them.”
“Ever hear of Ischl, Bee?” said Jimmie, as Bee appeared as smartly
got up as if she were in New Bond Street.
“Did I ever hear of Ischl?” repeated Bee, in surprise. “Why,
certainly. Ischl is where Emperor Franz Josef has his summer home. He
is there now with his entire suite, and next Wednesday is his
“Say 'geburt-day,' Bee,” I pleaded. Nobody paid any attention.
Jimmie looked meekly at Bee.
“Have you decided on a hotel there?” he asked, ironically. But Bee
“There are two good ones—the 'Kaiserin Elisabeth' and the 'Goldenes
Kreuz.' It will probably be very crowded, for they always celebrate the
Jimmie and I looked at each other helplessly. She knew all about
Ischl, and had intended to steer the whole four of us there, while
Jimmie and I had just heard of it, and were planning to give her a nice
Jimmie said nothing, but took his hat and went out to telegraph for
“I'm glad I didn't bet with you, Jimmie,” I whispered as he passed
It is the merest suspicion of a journey from Salzburg to Ischl, but
it consumes several hours, because every inch of the country on both
sides of the car is worth looking at. The little train creeps along now
at the foot of a mountain, now at the edge of a lake, and it is such a
vision of loveliness that even those unfeeling persons who “don't care
for scenery” would be roused from their lethargy by the gentle
seductiveness of its beauty. Ischl appears when you are least looking
for it, tucked in the hollow of a mountain's arm as lovingly as ever a
baby was cradled.
Our rooms at the Goldenes Kreuz had a wide balcony where our
breakfasts were served, and commanded not only a view of the mountains
and valleys, and a rushing stream, but afforded us our only meal where
we could get plenty of air.
Our first experience in the general dining-room was a revelation of
many things. The room was air-tight. Not a window or door was permitted
to be opened the smallest crack. The men smoked all through dinner, and
quite a number of women smoked from one to a dozen cigarettes held in
all manner of curious cigarette-holders, some of which were only a
handle with a ring for the cigarette, something like our opera-glass
handles, while others were the more familiar mouthpieces. But all were
jewelled and handsome, and the women who used them were all elderly.
Two women smoked strong black cigars, but as the smokers were very
smart and went in court society, Bee's eyes only grew round and big,
and she ventured no word of criticism.
But all this smoke and lack of ventilation made the air very thick
and hot and unbreathable for us, so that we complained to the
proprietor, who sympathised with us so deeply that he nearly wept, but
he assured us that Austrians were even worse than the French in their
fear of a draught, and he declared that while he would very willingly
open all the windows, and as far as he was concerned, he himself
revelled in fresh air,—nevertheless, if he should follow our advice,
his hotel would be emptied the next day of all but our one American
In vain we reminded him that it was August. Not a window nor a door
was opened in that dining-room while we were there.
But we got along very well, for we are not too strenuous in our
demands,—especially when we realise that we cannot get them acceded
to,—so in lieu of air we breathed smoke, and in watching the people we
soon forgot all about it. Air is not essential after all when royalty
If not royalty, at least the next thing to it. The gorgeous and
glorious officers of his Majesty's suite, handsome, distinguished,
young, and ever near the throne! Bee's eyes were glued to their table.
We were afraid the poor dear would never pull through. She scarcely ate
“Bee,” I whispered, pulling her dress under the table, “you really
must not pay them such marked attention. Remember your husband and
baby—far away, to be sure, but still there!”
“What difference does it make, I should like to know,” was Bee's
callous reply. “They can't speak English.”
Now of all the irrelevant retorts!
Bee had so evidently capitulated to the whole lot that I stole a few
furtive glances myself, and while I was rewarded by some brief interest
from their table, and I felt sure that they were talking about us, it
seemed to me that the interest of The One, the tallest,
handsomest, and the one most suited for a pedestal in Central Park, was
overlooking both Bee's and my undeniable attractions, and was
concentrating all his fiery, hawk-like glances upon Mrs. Jimmie, whose
total unconsciousness of her great beauty is one of her supreme charms.
She wore a black lace gown that night with sleeves which came not quite
to her elbow; no bracelets to mar those perfect arms, but her hands
fairly loaded with rings. She never looks at any other man except
Jimmie, and Jimmie thinks that the earth exists simply for her. Poor
Jimmie never can express his emotion in proper words, but I have seen
his eyes fill with tears of love and pride as he whispered to me,
“Isn't she ripping to-night?”
She certainly was “ripping” that first night at Ischl—far more
ripping than any titled dame there, upon whose mature ugliness all her
calm attention was bestowed, while I was on the verge of collapse when
I saw that Bee's love was like to go unrequited, while Mrs. Jimmie's
rings and beauty—I name her attractions in their proper order as far
as I was able to gather from the enamoured officer's glances—snatched
The situation as it bade fair to develop was far, far too sacred to
permit of ribald speech, so with the greatest difficulty I held my
tongue. For my only natural confidant, Jimmie, was plainly disqualified
in this case.
The next morning Jimmie wanted us to drive, but I, hoping to give
matters an onward fillip, spoke so warmly in favour of a morning stroll
in the promenade “to see people” that he gave in, and Bee's attentions
to me while garbing ourselves were so marked that I almost hoped I had
been wrong the night before.
But alas for our ignorance of officers' duties! Not one of those in
his Majesty's suite was visible, although all the old ladies were out
in force, and some very pretty Austrian girls appeared, smartly gowned,
and most of them carrying slender little gold or silver mounted sticks.
Those sticks caught Bee's eye at once, and she bought one before the
hour was over, much to Jimmie's disgust.
But his expostulations produced no effect. It seemed queer to
me—her sister—that he should waste his breath. But Jimmie was obliged
to relieve his mind by saying that it looked too pronounced.
“It's all right for an Austrian,” said Jimmie, wagging his head.
“But everybody knows you are an American, and it doesn't look right.”
“Doesn't it go with my costume, Jimmie?” demanded Bee. “Look me
over! Doesn't it match?”
Alas for Jimmie! It did match. Bee's carrying it simply
looked saucy, not loud. I couldn't have carried it—I should have
tripped over it, and fallen down. Mrs. Jimmie would have dropped or
broken it. Bee and that stick simply fitted each other—there in Ischl!
At luncheon, just as we were going out, the four officers came in.
We passed them in the doorway. Bee looked desperate. They lined up to
allow us to pass, and for a moment I thought Bee was going to snatch
one, and make her escape. But she compromised, on seeing them seat
themselves at the table we had just left, by sending Jimmie back to
look for her handkerchief.
“If that doesn't fetch an acquaintance,” Bee's look seemed to say,
“with Jimmie burrowing around on the floor among their boots and spurs,
I shall have but a poor opinion of Austrian ingenuity.”
Jimmie was gone half an hour. When he came back, his face was too
innocent. He seated himself quietly, and after saying, “It wasn't
there, Bee,” he went on smoking placidly.
Now, any one who knows anything about anything, cannot fail to admit
that my sister ought either to be at the head of Tammany Hall or the
army. She gave one look at Jimmie's suspiciously bland countenance,
then gathered up her gloves, her veil and stick, and went slowly
up-stairs, apparently in a brown study.
Jimmie is clever, but he is no match for a clever woman. No man
is, for that matter.
The moment she was out of sight, he began to chuckle.
“Great Scott,” he whispered, bringing our three heads together by a
gesture. “If Bee knew that all those officers we just passed went right
in, and sat down at the very table we left, so that when she sent me
for her handkerchief I had to run bang into them, I wonder if she would
have gone up-stairs so calmly!”
“Why didn't you tell her?” I cried.
“I was going to—after I had got her curiosity up a little. They
were very polite, and nothing would do but I must sit down, and have a
glass of beer with them. I didn't want that, so I took a cigar, and
they all nearly fell over themselves to offer me one—from the most
beautiful cigar cases you ever saw. That tall chap with the eyes had
one of gold, with the Tzar's face done in enamel, surmounted by the
imperial crown in diamonds, and an inscription on the inside showing
that the Tzar gave it to him. I took one out of that case for Bee's
sake. I'll save her the stub!”
“Did they ask any questions about us?” I said, guilelessly.
“Yes, heaps. And when I told them how devoted my wife was to the
Empress Elizabeth they offered to make up a party to show us two of the
shrines she built near here, and invited us to dine afterward. So I
made it for this afternoon at three. Don't tell Bee. Let's surprise
her. Her eyes will pop clear out of her head when she sees them.”
Within ten minutes I had told Bee everything I knew, and had even
enlarged upon it a little, and Bee, in a holy delight, was preparing to
robe herself in costly array. She solemnly promised me to be surprised
when she saw them.
Only two of them could leave—The One, whose name shall be Count
Andreae von Engel, and the other, Baron Oscar von Furzmann. They had a
four-seated carriage for us, while they accompanied us on horseback.
That drive was one of the most romantic episodes which ever came
into my prosaic life. To be sure I was not in the romance at
all,—neither one of those bottle-green knights had an eye for me
—but I was there, and I saw and heard and enjoyed it more than anybody.
Bee, with the craft of a fox, offered to sit riding backward with
Jimmie, knowing that she must thus perforce be face to face with the
horsemen. But in this she was outwitted by a mere man, but a man
skilled in intrigue and court diplomacy. Although the road was narrow
and dangerous, twisting over mountains and beside rushing streams, The
One, in order to feast his eyes on Mrs. Jimmie, permitted his horse to
curvet and caracole as if he were in tourney. Jimmie, while the count
was doing it, managed to whisper to me: “Tom Sawyer showing off,” but
I knew that it was for a second purpose which counted for even more
than the first.
I must admit that this Austrian diplomat was very skilful, and
managed it in a way to throw the unsuspicious wholly off his guard,
for, in order not to make his manoeuvres too marked, he often rode
ahead of the carriage, when, by turning in his saddle, he could look
back and fling his ardent glances in our direction. They not only
overshot me, but glanced as harmlessly off Mrs. Jimmie's arrow-proof
armour of complete unconsciousness as if they had hurtled aimlessly
over her handsome head.
I was in ecstasies, for Bee's wholesome admiration of her stunning
officer and his undeniably unusual horsemanship prevented her from
being rendered in any way uncomfortable by his action, for truth to
tell, Bee was a target for the roving glances of Baron von
Furzmann, but he was so hopelessly the wrong man that she not only was
unaware of it then but vehemently disclaimed it when I enlightened her
later. Alas and alack! The wrong man is always the wrong man, and never
can take the place of the right man, no matter what his country or
It was supremely interesting to talk with men who had known the
beautiful Empress well; to whom her living beauty was as familiar as
her pictured loveliness was to us. We plied them with countless
questions as to her wonderful horsemanship, her daily appearance, her
dress, her conversation, and her learning. Their enthusiastic praise of
her was genuine and spontaneous.
I was dying to ask minute questions about the Crown Prince's affair,
but just enough sense was left in my make-up to know that I must not.
They might whisper their gossip to each other who knew all of the truth
anyway, but to strangers their loyalty would compel them to suppress
not only what they themselves knew but what we knew to be the truth.
Both of these officers had known Prince Rudie well; had hunted with
him; travelled with him; served with him; had often been at his
hunting-lodge Mayerling, where he died, but, when they came to refer to
this part of their narrative, they were so visibly embarrassed that we
changed the subject to the Princess Stephanie. Here, although they were
studiously careful to put nothing into actual words, their manner
plainly indicated their contempt and dislike of the heavy Belgian
Princess, who was so poor a helpmeet for the graceful and picturesque
figure of the Crown Prince of Austria.
“Did you know the lady in her Majesty's suite who wrote 'The
Martyrdom of an Empress?'“ I demanded, boldly.
Von Engel's face flushed darkly.
“I do not know. I am not certain,” he stammered.
“Never mind. Don't commit yourself. She was exiled, wasn't she, for
arranging meetings between Prince Rudolph and his belle amie?
She was a dear thing, whoever she was, for she gave him what was
probably the only real happiness he ever knew. And when people love
each other well enough to die together, it means more than most men and
women can boast.”
Jimmie trod on my foot just here, so I stopped, but, to his and my
surprise, Mrs. Jimmie not only agreed with me, but added:
“What a misfortune it is that princes and kings and queens must
marry for state reasons, so that love can play no part.”
I don't know whether Von Engel had not then put two and two
together, so that he knew that Mrs. Jimmie had her own husband in mind
when she made that speech about love or not. I think not, for I
happened to be looking at him, and for a moment I thought he was going
to spring from his horse right into her lap.
To me the two loveliest women rulers of the world, the ones whose
histories I most grieve over, and with whose temperaments I am most in
sympathy, are the Empress Eugenie of the French and the Empress
Elizabeth of Austria. The Empress Elizabeth was of such a high-strung,
nervous, proud temperament that had there not been madness in her
unfortunate family, all her apparently unbalanced acts could be
accounted for by her imperious and imperial nature, and the stigma of a
mind even partially unbalanced need never have been hers. Many a wife
in the common walks of life has been driven to more insane acts in the
eyes of an unfeeling and critical world than ever the unhappy Empress
Elizabeth committed, and for the same causes. An inhumanly tyrannical
mother-in-law, the most vicious of her vicious kind, whose chief
delight was to torture the high-strung nature she was too small to
comprehend; a husband, encouraged in his not-to-be-borne gallantries by
his own mother, this same monstrous mother-in-law of the Empress; her
children's love aborted by this same fiend in woman form—is it any
marvel that the proud Empress broke away from her splendid torture and
found a sad comfort in travel and study? The wonder of it is that she
chose so mild a remedy. She might have murdered her husband's mother,
and those who knew would have declared her justified. If she had done
so she could scarcely have suffered in her mind more than she did.
When I expressed some of these opinions I discovered that both
officers looked at me with undisguised sympathy. They themselves dared
not put into words such incendiary thoughts, but they welcomed their
expression from another. This was not the first time I had worded the
inner thoughts of a company who dared not speak out themselves, but, as
catspaws are invariably burned, I cannot lay to my soul the flattering
unction that I have escaped their common lot. Bee says I am generally
burned to a cinder.
We had just visited the last of the shrines, which were interesting
only because erected by the Empress, when we were overtaken by a
terrific mountain storm which broke over our heads without warning. The
rain came down in torrents, but not even the officers got wet, for they
instantly produced from some mysterious region rubber capes which
completely enveloped their beautiful uniforms.
I was not sure, but, in the general confusion of closing the
carriage top, I thought I saw Count Andreae whisper to Mrs. Jimmie. I
am positive I heard Von Furzmann whisper to Bee. So, not to be outdone,
I leaned over and whispered to Jimmie. I do so hate to be left out of a
We had a gay little supper at the Kaiserin Elisabeth, but I could
not see that Count Andreae “got any forrarder,” as Jimmie would say,
for he literally could not concentrate his attention on Mrs. Jimmie on
account of Bee's attentions to him. Poor Von Furzmann had to content
himself with Jimmie and me.
The next day being the Emperor's birthday, the whole town was
gloriously illuminated, and the splendid old Franz Josef—splendid in
spite of his past irregularities—appeared before his adoring people,
with Bee the most adoring of all his subjects.
There were any number of little parties made up after that, for, of
course, we returned the civility of the officers. But after awhile
Ischl, in spite of the bracing air, and bewitching drives, and
occasional glimpses of royalty, and daily meetings with our beloved
officers, Jimmie and I began to think longingly of green fields and
pastures new. It was a little hard on Bee, and even on Mrs. Jimmie, to
drag them away from the morning promenade, where they always saw the
rank and fashion of Austria. I wondered what Bee's feelings would be at
parting with her loved ones, for most of our conversations lately had
tended toward turning our journeyings aside from Vienna to go north to
the September manoeuvres, in which our friends were to take part. We in
turn combated this by begging them to meet us in Italy in three months.
You should have seen their anguished faces when Jimmie and I mentioned
three months! A week's separation was more than they could think of
without tying crape on their arms. To our amazement they assured us
that a leave was out of the question. Von Engel declared that he had
not had a leave of absence for ten years and he doubted if he could
obtain one on any excuse short of a death in the family.
At last, however, one fine day, with farewell notes and loaded with
flowers, and with the prettiest of parting speeches, we tore ourselves
away and were off for Vienna.
As Bee leaned back in the railway carriage with one glove missing, I
looked to see her very low in her mind, but to my surprise she was
“You don't seem to mind leaving them very much,” I observed,
“I haven't left them for long,” she replied, drawing her face into
complacent lines. “They are both coming to Vienna on leave.”
“On leave?” I cried.
CHAPTER X. VIENNA
If Americans continue to flock to Europe in such numbers, the whole
country will in time be as Americanised as the hotels are becoming.
Vienna, with her beautiful Hotel Bristol, is such an advance in modern
comfort from the best of her accommodations for travellers of a few
years ago that she affords an excellent example, although for every
steam-heater, modern lift, and American comfort you gain, you lose a
quaintness and picturesqueness, the like of which makes Europe so worth
while. The whole of civilised Europe is now engaged in a flurried
debate as to the propriety of remodelling its travelled portions for
the benefit of ease-loving American millionaires.
It was not the season when we arrived in Vienna, but we had letters
to the old Countess von Schimpfurmann, who had been lady-in-waiting to
the Empress Elizabeth when she first came to the court of Austria, a
mere slip of a girl, with that marvellous hair of hers whose length was
the wonder of Europe, dressed high for the first time, but oftenest
flowing silkily to the hem of her skirt. The countess was something of
an invalid, and happened to be in town when we arrived. Her husband,
the old count, had been a very distinguished man in his day, standing
high in the Emperor's favour, and died full of years and honour, and
more appreciated, so rumour had it, by his wife in his death than in
We also had letters from a lady whose friendship Mrs. Jimmie made at
Ischl, to her daughter-in-law, Baroness von Schumann, the baron being
attached to an Austrian commission then in Italy; to several officers
who were friends of our officers in Ischl, and, last but not least, to
a little Hungarian, to whom I had a letter from America, who was so
kind, so attentive, so fatherly to us, that he went by the name of
“Little Papa”—a soubriquet which seemed to give him no end of
Thus well equipped, we prepared to fall in love with Vienna, and we
found it an easy task, for in spite of it being out of season, we were
vastly entertained, and in all likelihood obtained a more intimate
knowledge of the inner life of our Vienna friends than we could have
done if we had arrived in the season of formal and more elaborate
The opera was there, and, with all due respect to Mr. Grau, I must
admit that we saw the most perfect production of “Faust” in Vienna than
I ever saw on any stage.
The carnival was going on, where no Viennese lady, so the baroness
declared, would think of being seen, because confetti-throwing
was only resorted to by the canaille (and officers and husbands
of high-born ladies, who went there with their little friends of the
ballet and chorus), but where we did go, contrary to all
precedent, persuading the baroness to make up a smart party and “go
slumming.” Her husband being in Italy, she had no fear of meeting
him there, and she took good care to send an invitation to any one
who might have been inclined to be critical, to be of the party, which,
after one mighty protest as to the propriety of it, they one and all
accepted with suspicious alacrity.
It was not so very amusing. It consisted of merely walking along a
broad avenue lined with booths, and flinging confetti into people's
faces. More rude than lively or even amusing, it seemed to me, and my
curiosity was so easily satisfied that I was ready to go after a
quarter of an hour. But do you think we could persuade the other ladies
to give it up? Indeed, no! Like mischievous children, with Americans
for an excuse, they remained until the last ones, laughing immoderately
when they encountered men they knew. But as these men always claimed
that they had heard we were coming, and immediately attached themselves
to our party as a sort of sheet armour of protection against possible
tales out of school, our supper party afterward was quite large. A
carnival like that in America would end in a fight, if not in murder,
for the American loses sight of the fact that it is simply rude play,
and when he sees a handful of coloured paper flung in his wife's face,
it might as well be water or pebbles for the stirring effect it has on
his fighting blood.
The baroness had such a beautiful evening that she quite sighed when
it was over.
“Don't you ever have this in America?” she asked Bee.
“No, indeed,” said Bee. “And if we did, we wouldn't go to it. We
reserve such frolics for Europe.”
“Exactly as it is with us,” declared the baroness; “Carl and I
always go in Paris and Nice, but here—well, we had to have you for an
excuse. I must thank you for giving us such an amusing evening!” she
added, gaily. “After all, it is so much more diverting to catch one's
friends in mischief than strangers whom no one cares about!”
I suppose, in showing Vienna to us, we showed more of Vienna to the
baroness and her friends than they ever had seen before. We went into
all the booths and shows; we were in St. Stephen's Church at sunset to
see the light filter through those marvels of stained-glass windows.
Instead of stately drives in the Prater, we took little excursions into
the country and dined at blissful open-air restaurants, with views of
the Danube and distant Vienna, which they never had seen before. They
became quite enthusiastic over seeking out new diversions for us, and,
through their court influence, I feel sure that few Americans could
have got a more intimate knowledge of Vienna than we.
An amusing coincidence happened while we were there, concerning the
gown Mrs. Jimmie was to be painted in. The baroness's brother, Count
Georg Brunow, was an authority on dress, and, as he designed all the
gowns for his cousin, who was also in the Emperor's suite, he begged
permission to design Mrs. Jimmie's. His English was a little queer, so
this is what he said after an anxious scrutiny of Mrs. Jimmie's beauty:
“You must have a gown of white—soft white chiffon or mull over a
white satin slip. It must be very full and fluffy around the foot, and
be looped up on the skirt and around the decollete corsage with
festoons of small pink considerations.”
“Considerations?” said Mrs. Jimmie.
“Carnations, you mean,” said Bee.
“Yes, thank you. My English is so rusty. I mean pink carnations.”
Mrs. Jimmie thanked him, and we all discussed it approvingly. Still,
she told me privately that she would not decide until she got back to
Paris to her own man, who knew her taste and style.
“You know, for a portrait,” said Count Georg, “you do not want
anything pronounced. It must be quite simple, so that in fifty years it
will still be beautiful.”
When we got back to Paris, we presented ourselves before Mrs.
Jimmie's dressmaker, who has dressed her ever since she was sixteen.
She told him to design a gown for a full-length portrait. He looked at
her carefully and said, slowly:
“I would suggest a gown of soft white over a white satin slip. It
should be cut low in the corsage, and have no sleeves. A touch of
colour in the shape of loops of small pink roses at the foot, heading a
triple flounce of white, and on the shoulders and around the top of the
bodice. You know for a portrait, madame, you want no epoch-making
effect. It should be quite simple, so that in the years to come it may
still please the eye as a work of art and not a creation of the
Bee and I nearly had to be removed in an ambulance, and even Mrs.
Jimmie looked startled.
“Order it,” I whispered. “Plainly, Providence has a hand in this
design. It might be dangerous to flout such a sign from heaven.”
All of which goes to prove that the eye of the artist is true the
world over. Or, at least, that is the deduction I drew. Bee is more
The Countess von Schimpfurmann lived in a marvellous old house, to
which we were invited again and again, her dear old politeness causing
her to give three handsome entertainments for us, so that each could be
a guest of honour at least once, and be distinguished by a seat on the
sofa. The Emperor being at Ischl, we were permitted all sorts of
intimate privileges with the Imperial Residenz, the court stables and
private views not ordinarily shown to travellers, which were more
interesting from being personally conducted than by the marvels we saw,
for several years of continuous travel rather blunt one's ecstasy and
effectively wear out one's adjectives.
Again, as in Munich, we were never tired of the picture-galleries,
the whole school of German and Austrian art being quite to our taste,
while if there exists anywhere else a more wonderful collection of
original drawings of such masters as Raphael, Durer, Rubens, and
Rembrandt which comprise the Albertina in the palace of the Archduke
Albert, I do not know of it.
The old countess had numerous anecdotes to tell of the beautiful
Empress, all of which confirmed and strengthened my belief that she was
most of all a glorious woman gloriously misunderstood by her nearest
and dearest. What other prince or princess of Europe in all history
turned to so noble a pursuit as culture, learning, and travel to cure a
broken heart and a wrecked existence in the majestic manner of this
silent, haughty, noble soul? The excesses, dissipation, and intrigue
which served to divert other bruised royal hearts were as far beneath
this imperial nature as if they did not exist. Her life, in its crystal
purity and its scorn of intrigue, is unique in royal history. Yet she,
this blameless princess, this woman of imperial beauty, this noblest of
all empresses, was marked to be stricken down by the red hand of
anarchy, to whose crime, and poison, and danger we open our national
ports with an unwisdom which is criminal stupidity, and of which we
shall inevitably reap the benefit. America cannot warm the asp of
anarchy in her bosom without expecting it to turn and sting her.
The deference paid to royalty is so difficult of comprehension to
the republican mind that every time we encountered it it gave us a
separate shock of surprise. At least, it gave it to me. I have an idea
from the way events finally shaped themselves that Bee and Mrs. Jimmie
were a little more alive to its possibilities than I was.
The Bristol was quite full when we arrived and Jimmie could not get
communicating rooms, nor very good ones. I did not particularly notice
it at the time, but I remembered afterward that Bee kept urging him to
change them, and Jimmie made two or three endeavours, but seemed to
obtain no favour at the hands of the proprietor.
One morning, however, when Jimmie started to leave the sitting-room,
he opened the door and closed it again suddenly. We were sitting there
waiting for breakfast to be served, and we were all three struck by the
expression on his face.
“What's the matter, Jimmie?”
He looked at us queerly.
“What have you three been up to?” he asked.
“Nothing. Honestly and truly!” we cried. “What's out in the hall? Or
are you just pretending?”
“The hall is full of menials and officials and gold lace and brass
buttons. I hope you haven't done anything to be arrested for!”
Bee began to look knowing, and just then came a knock at the door.
“If you please,” said the interpreter, bowing at every other word,
“here is one of the Emperor's couriers just from Ischl, with despatches
from the court of his Imperial Majesty for the ladies if they are ready
to receive them. The courier had orders not to disturb their sleep. He
waited here in the corridor until he heard voices. Will the excellent
ladies be pleased to receive them? His orders are to wait for answers.”
Jimmie signified that we would receive them, when forth stepped a
man in the imperial liveries and handed him a packet on a silver tray.
Jimmie had the wit to lay a gold piece on the tray, at which the
courier almost knelt to express his thanks. The other attendants drew
long envious breaths.
The door was shut, and Mrs. Jimmie and Bee opened their letters.
Both were from Count Andreae von Engel, saying that he and Von
Furzmann, rendered desperate by the near departure of his Majesty for
the manoeuvres, had resolved to risk dismissal from his suite by
absence without leave. The letter said that on that day—the day on
which it was written—they had both attended his Majesty on a hunt, and
as he seldom hunted with the same officers two days in succession, they
bade fair not to be on duty after noon the next day. Therefore, if we
heard nothing to the contrary, they would leave Ischl on the one
o'clock train in uniform, as if on official business. Their servants
would board the train at Gmund with citizens' clothes, and they would
be with us soon after seven that night. They begged leave to dine with
us in our private dining-room that evening, and would we be so gracious
as to receive them until midnight, when they must take train for Ischl,
and be on duty in uniform by seven in the morning.
I simply shrieked, as I looked at Jimmie's perplexed face.
“What shall we do?” he said. “We can't have 'em here! We must stop
'em! Get a telegraph blank, Bee! We haven't any private dining-room,
anyhow, and if they got caught we might be dragged into it! Well, what
He turned to the door half savagely, and there stood the proprietor,
with some ten or twelve servants at his heels.
“You were speaking to me the other day about better rooms? Will it
please you to look at some on the second floor, which have never been
occupied since they were done over? There are five rooms en suite
—just about what your Excellency desires.”
Jimmie turned to us with a sickly grin.
We all waited for Mrs. Jimmie to speak.
“Jimmie, dear,” she said at last, “if you don't object, I think it
would be very nice to take those rooms, and entertain the gentlemen
this evening. Of course, they cannot be seen in the public dining-room,
and, after all, they are gentlemen and in the Emperor's suite,
so their attentions to us, while a little more pronounced than we are
accustomed to, are an honour.”
Jimmie said nothing, but went to the door and signified that we
would look at the rooms.
We did look; we took them, and before noon every handsome piece of
furniture from all over the house had been placed in our suite; flowers
were everywhere, and servants fairly swarmed at our commands.
Jimmie, in reality, was not at all pleased by any of this, but he
has such a blissful sense of humour that he could not help seeing the
pitiful front it put upon human nature, both Austrian and American. He
permitted himself, however, only one remark. This was now done with his
wife's sanction, and loyalty to her closed his lips. But he beckoned me
over to the window, and, handing me a paper-knife, he turned up the
sole of his shoe, saying:
“Scrape 'em off!”
“Scrape what off, Jimmie?”
“The servants! I haven't been able to step to-day without crushing a
dozen of 'em!”
As I turned away he called out:
“There aren't any on the shoes I wore yesterday!”
A rumour somewhat near the truth had swept through the hotel, for
wherever we appeared we found ourselves the object of the deepest
attention, not only by the slavish minions of the hotel from the
proprietor down, but from the other guests.
It was so pronounced that my feeble spirit quaked, so to borrow some
of my sister's soul-sustaining joy, I went into her room and said:
“Bee, what does all this mean, anyhow? Where will it land us?”
Bee's eyes gleamed.
“If you aren't actually blind to opportunity,” she said, slowly,
“you certainly are hopelessly near-sighted. Don't you understand how
nobody can do anything or be anybody without royal approval? Haven't
you seen enough here to-day, to say nothing of the attentions we had
from women in Ischl, to know what all this counts for?”
“Yes, I know,” I hastened to say. “But what of these men? You know
what they will think; they are Austrians, Russians, and Hungarians,
remember, not Americans!”
“A man is a man,” she said, sententiously. “Don't worry for fear the
poor dears' hearts will be broken. Now I'll tell you something. Mrs.
Jimmie's sincere indifference and my silent eye-homage have stirred
these blase officers out of their usual calm. There you have the whole
thing. Von Engel thinks Mrs. Jimmie's indifference is assumed, and both
Von Engel and Von Furzmann are determined that my silence shall voice
itself. I have no doubt that they would like to have me write
it, so that they could boast of it afterward to their fellow officers.
Now, as Jimmie would say in his frightful slang, 'I'm going to give
them a run for their money.' Von Engel will probably beseech you to
arrange to keep Jimmie at your side, so that he can have a few words
with Mrs. Jimmie. Von Furzmann will plead with you to permit him a word
with me. I need hardly tell you that your role to-night is to make
yourself as disagreeable as possible to both of them by keeping the
conversation general, and by cutting in at any attempt at a
I felt limp and weak. “And all this display, this dinner, this added
“Part of the game, my dear!”
“And the end of it all? When they come back from the manoeuvres?”
“We shall be gone! Without a word!”
“Then this isn't a flirtation?”
“Only on their parts. They are after our scalps. But we are actuated
by the true missionary spirit.”
We leaned over and shook hands solemnly. I do love Bee!
That night—shall I ever forget it? Those stunning men dashed into
our rooms muffled in military cloaks, which they tossed aside with such
grace that they nearly secured my scalp, for all they were after
Bee's and Mrs. Jimmie's. They were in velveteen hunting costumes; we in
the smartest of evening dress. Jimmie had given his fancy free rein in
ordering the dinner, but, to his amazement and indignation, the little
game being played by the rest of us so surprised and baffled our guests
that Jimmie's delicacies were removed with course after course
untasted. The officers searched the brilliant room with their eyes,
hoping for a quiet nook, or balcony. There was none, and their disguise
effectually prevented them from suggesting to go out. I saw that,
finally, they pinned their hopes to me, and the way I clung to Jimmie
to prevent their speaking to me almost roused his suspicions that I was
in love with him. We stuck doggedly to the table, even after dinner was
over and the servants dismissed. Finally, Von Furzmann, who spoke
English rather well, rose in a determined manner, and quite forgetful
of our proximity, said to Bee in a loud, distinct tone:
“My heart is on fire!”
It was too much. Jimmie and I led the way in a general shout of
laughter, and then, as a happy family party, we adjourned to the single
salon, where we grouped ourselves together, and, strive as they might,
the officers could not outwit my sister nor upset her plan.
Toward midnight, when the hour of parting drew near, they grew so
desperate I almost feared that they would say something rash. But they
were diplomats and game. Occasionally a gleam of suspicion would appear
on their countenances—it was so very unusual, I imagined, for their
plans so persistently to miscarry—but both Bee and I have an extremely
guiltless and innocent eye, and we used an unwinking gaze of genial
friendliness which disarmed them.
At last they flung their cloaks around them, as their servants
announced their carriage for the third time.
“Such an evening!” moaned Von Engel.
It might mean anything!
Bee bit her lip.
“I was never more loath to leave. Promise that you will be here when
we return. It will only be ten days! Promise us!”
“I hardly think—” began Jimmie, but Bee trod on his foot.
“Ouch!” said Jimmie, fiercely.
“I beg your pardon, Jimmie, dear!” murmured Bee. “It is possible,”
said Bee to Von Engel. “We never make plans, you know. We go whenever
we are bored, or when we have nothing pleasant to look forward to.”
“Oh, then, pray remain! We shall fly to see you the moment we
“That surely is an inducement,” said Bee, with a little laugh, which
caused Von Engel to colour.
Von Engel's servant, under pretext of arranging the collar of his
master's cloak, here whispered peremptorily to him, and the officer
started with a hurried “Yes, yes!” to his servant.
They bent and kissed our hands, and Von Furzmann, in the violence of
his emotion, flung his arms around Jimmie and kissed him on the cheek.
Then they dashed away down the long corridor, looking back and waving
their hands to us.
Jimmie came into the room with his hand on the spot where Von
Furzmann had kissed him.
“Well, I'll be damned!” he said. “That was all your fault,”
he added, looking at Bee.
“I've always said somebody would steal you, Jimmie!” I said.
“Did you enjoy yourself, dear?” asked Mrs. Jimmie kindly of Bee.
Bee stood up yawning.
“Oh, I don't know,” she said. “These officers try to be so
impressive. They urge you to take a little more pepper in the same tone
that they would ask you to elope.”
Jimmie beamed on her.
When Bee and I were alone, I dropped limply on the bed. Bee turned
to the light and read a crumpled note which Von Furzmann had thrust
into her hand at parting. She handed it to me:
“I shall write every day, and shall count the hours until I see you
again!” it read. I could just hear him shouting, “My heart is on fire!”
“Well, did you enjoy it?” I asked her.
“Enjoy it? Certainly not!”
“Why, I thought you were having the time of your life!” I cried.
“Oh, yes, in a way it was amusing. But did it ever occur to you that
it wasn't very flattering for those two unmarried officers to select
the two married women in our party for their attentions when you, being
unmarried, were the only legitimate object of their interest?”
I said nothing. To tell the truth I had not thought of it.
“No, these officers need just a few kinks taken out of their brains
concerning women, and I propose to do it. I told Jimmie to-day that if
he would be handsome about to-night, I would start to-morrow for
Moscow. Mrs. Jimmie is perfectly willing, and I know you are dying to
get on to Tolstoy. I've only stayed over for to-night. I knew this was
coming when we were in Ischl, and I wanted them to see how lightly we
viewed their risking dismissal from his Majesty's service for us. We
have paid up all our indebtedness to everybody else, so nothing but
farewell calls need detain us.”
“And the officers?” I stammered. “How will they know?”
“I'll get Jimmie to send them a wire saying we have gone. They won't
know where. Hurry up and turn out the lights. They hurt my eyes.”
CHAPTER XI. MY FIRST INTERVIEW WITH
At the critical point of relating the difficulty attending my first
audience with Tolstoy, I am constrained to mention a few of the
obstacles encountered by a person bearing indifferent letters of
introduction, and if by so doing I persuade any man or woman to write
one worthy letter introducing one strange man or woman in a foreign
country to a foreign host, I shall feel that I have not lived in vain.
No one, who has not travelled abroad unknown and depending for all
society upon written introductions, can form any idea of the utter
inadequacy of the ordinary letter of introduction. When I first
announced my intention of several years' travel in Europe, I accepted
the generously offered letters of friends and acquaintances, and, in
some instances, of kind persons who were almost total strangers to me,
careless of the wording of these letters and only grateful for the
goodness of heart they evinced.
In one instance, a man who had lived in Berlin sent me a dozen of
his visiting-cards, on the reverse side of which were written the names
of his German friends and under them the scanty words, “Introducing
Miss So-and-So.” He took pains also to call upon me several times, and
to ask as a special favour that I would present these letters.
Forgetful of the fact that his German acquaintances would have no idea
who I was, that there was no explanation upon the card, and without
thinking that he would not take the trouble to write letters of
explanation beforehand, I presented these twelve cards without the
least reluctance, simply because I had given my word. Out of the
twelve, ten returned my calls and we discussed nothing more important
than the weather. We knew nothing of each other except our names, and
all of these I dare say were mispronounced. Two out of the twelve
entertained me at dinner, and three years afterward, when I returned to
America, I received a letter of the sincerest apology from one, saying
that she had learned more of me through the ambassador, and reproaching
me for not having volunteered information about myself, which might
have led at least to conversation of a more intimate nature.
I was armed at that time with many of these visiting-cards of
introduction, and after this instance I filed them with great care in
the waste-basket. I then examined my other letters. It is idle to
describe to those who have never depended upon such documents in
foreign countries the inadequacy of half of them. In spite of the
kindest intentions, they were really worthless.
It was only after I got to Poland and Russia, where the hospitality
springs from the heart, that my introductions began to bear fruit
satisfactory to a sensitive mind. It is, therefore, with feelings of
the liveliest appreciation that I look back on the letter given me by
Ambassador White in Berlin to Count Leo Tolstoy. A lifetime of
diplomacy, added to the sincerest and most generous appreciation of
what an ideal hospitality should be, have served to make this
representative of the American people perfect in details of kindness,
which can only be fully appreciated when one is far from home. Nothing
short of the completeness and yet brevity of this letter would have
served to obtain an audience with that great author, who must needs
protect himself from the idle and curious, and the only drawback to my
first interview with Tolstoy was the fact that I had to part company
with this precious letter. It was so kind, so generous, so
appreciative, that up to the time I relinquished it, I cured the worst
attacks of homesickness simply by reading it over, and from the lowest
depths of despair it not only brought me back my self-respect, but so
exquisitely tickled my vanity that I was proud of my own acquaintance
My introduction to Princess Sophy Golitzin, in Moscow, was of such a
sort that we at once received an invitation from her to meet her
choicest friends, at her house the next day. When we arrived, we found
some thirty or forty charming Russians in a long, handsomely furnished
salon, all speaking their own language. But upon our approach, every
one began speaking English, and so continued during our stay. Twice,
however, little groups fell into French and German at the advent of one
or two persons who spoke no English.
Russians do not show off at their best in foreign environments. I
have met them in Germany, France, England, Italy, and America, and
while their culture is always complete, their distinguishing trait is
their hospitality, generous and free beyond any I have ever known,
which, of course, is best exploited in their own country and among
their own people.
At the Princess Golitzin's, I was told that the Countess Tolstoy and
her daughter had been there earlier in the afternoon, but, owing to the
distance at which they lived, they had been obliged to leave early.
They, however, left their compliments for all of us, and asked the
princess to say that they had remained as long as they had dared,
hoping for the pleasure of meeting us.
Being only a modest American, I confess that I opened my eyes with
wonder that a personage of such renown as the Countess Tolstoy, the
wife of the greatest living man of letters, should take the trouble to
leave so kind a message for me.
When Bee and Mrs. Jimmie heard it, they treated me with almost the
same respect as when they discovered that I knew the head waiter at
Baden-Baden. But not quite.
As, however, our one ambition in coming to Russia had been to see
Tolstoy himself, we at once began to ask questions of the princess as
to how we might best accomplish our object, but to our disappointment
her answers were far from encouraging. He was, I was told by everybody,
ill, cross as a bear, and in the throes of composition. Could there be
a worse possible combination for my purpose?
So much was said discouraging our project that Jimmie was for giving
it up, but I think one man never received three such simultaneously
contemptuous glances as we three levelled at Jimmie for his craven
suggestion. So it happened that one Sunday morning we took a carriage,
and, having invited the consul, who spoke Russian, we drove to
Tolstoy's town house, some little distance out of Moscow.
We gave the letter and our visiting-cards to the consul, and he
explained our wish to see Tolstoy to the footman who answered our ring.
Having evidently received instructions to admit no one, he not only
refused us admittance, but declined to take our cards. The consul
translated his refusal, and seemed vanquished, but I urged him to make
another attempt, and he did so, which was followed by the announcement
that the countess was asleep, and the count was out. This being
translated to me, I announced, in cheerful English which the footman
could not understand, that both of these statements were lies, and for
my part I had no doubt that the footman was a direct descendant of
“Tell him that you know better,” I said. “Tell him that we know the
count is too ill to leave the house, and that the countess could not
possibly be asleep at this time of day. Tell him if he expects us to
believe him, to make up a better one than that.”
“Say something,” urged Bee. “Get us inside the house, if no more.”
“Tell him how far we have come, and how anxious we are to see the
count,” said Mrs. Jimmie.
“Oh, better give it up,” said Jimmie, “and come on home.”
The consul obligingly made the desired effort, evidently combining
all of our instructions, politely softened by his own judgment. The
footman's face betrayed no yielding, and in order the better to refuse
to take our cards he put his hands behind him.
“You see, it's no use,” said the consul. “Hadn't we better give it
“He won't let you in,” said Jimmie, “so don't make a fuss.”
“I shall make no fuss,” I said, quietly. “But I'll get in, and I'll
see Tolstoy, and I'll get all the rest of you in. Give me those cards.”
I took two rubles from my purse, and, taking the cards and letter, I
handed them all to the footman, saying in lucid English:
“We are coming in, and you are to take these cards to Count
At the same time, I pointed a decisive forefinger in the direction
in which I thought the count was concealed. The obsequious menial took
our cards, bowed low, and invited us to enter with true servant's
In all Russian houses, as, doubtless, everybody knows, the first
floor is given up to an antechambre, where guests remove their
wraps and goloshes, and behind this room are the kitchen and servants'
quarters. All the living-rooms of the family are generally on the floor
above. Having once entered this antechambre, my Bob Acres
courage began to ooze.
“Now, I am not going to be rude,” I said. “We'll just pretend to be
taking off our wraps until we find whether we can be received. I don't
mind forcing myself on a servant, but I do object to inconveniencing
the master of the house.
“You're weakening,” said Jimmie, derisively. “You're scared!”
“I am not,” I declared, indignantly. “I am only trying to be polite,
and it's a hard pull, I can tell you, when I want anything as much as I
want to see Tolstoy. If he won't see us after he reads that letter, I
can at least go away knowing that I put forth my best efforts to see
him, but if I had taken a servant's refusal, I should feel myself a
I looked anxiously at my friends for approval. Jimmie and the consul
looked dubious, but Bee and Mrs. Jimmie patted me on the back and said
I had done just right.
While we were engaged in this conversation, and while the man was
still up-stairs, the door from the kitchen burst open, and in came a
handsome young fellow of about eighteen, whistling. Now my brother
whistles and slams doors just like this young Russian. So my
understanding of boys made me feel friendly with this one at once.
Seeing us, he stopped and bowed politely.
“Good morning,” I said, cheerfully. “We are Americans, and we have
travelled five thousand miles for the purpose of seeing Count Tolstoy,
and when we got here this morning the servant wouldn't even let us in
until I made him, and we are waiting to see if the count will receive
“Why, I am just sure papa will see you,” said the boy in perfect
English. “How disgusting of Dmitri. He is a blockhead, that Dmitri. I
shall tell mamma how he treated you. The idea of leaving you standing
down here while he took your cards up.”
“It is partly our fault,” I said, defending Dmitri. “We sent him up
“Nevertheless, he should have had you wait in the salon. Dmitri is a
“His manner wasn't very cordial,” I admitted, as we followed him
up-stairs and into a large well-furnished, but rather plain, room
containing no ornaments.
“But as I had a letter from the ambassador,” I went on, “I felt that
I must at least present it.”
The boy turned back, as he started to leave the room, and said:
“Oh! From Mr. White? Your ambassador wrote about you, and also some
friends of ours from Petersburg. Papa has been expecting you this long
time. He would have been so annoyed if he had failed to see you. I'll
tell him how badly Dmitri treated you. What must you think of the
He said all this hurrying to the door to find his father. We sat
down and regarded each other in silence. Jimmie and the consul looked
into their hats with a somewhat sheepish countenance. Bee cleared her
throat with pleasure, and Mrs. Jimmie carefully assumed an attitude of
unstudied grace, smoothing her silk dress over her knee with her gloved
hand, and involuntarily looking at her glove the way we do in America.
Then the door opened and Count Tolstoy came in.
To begin with, he speaks perfect English, and his cordial welcome,
beginning as he entered the door, continued while he traversed the
length of the long room, holding out both hands to me, in one of which
was my letter from the ambassador. He examined our party with as much
curiosity and interest as we studied him. He wore the ordinary
peasant's costume. His blue blouse and white under-garment, which
showed around the neck, had brown stains on it which might be from
either coffee or tobacco. His eyes were set widely apart and were
benignant and kind in expression. His brow was benevolent, and
counteracted the lower part of his face, which in itself would be
pugnacious. His nose was short, broad, and thick. His jaw betrayed the
determination of the bulldog. The combination made an exceedingly
interesting study. His coarse clothes formed a curious contrast to the
elegance of his speech and the grace of his manner. He was simple,
unaffected, gentle, and possessed, in common with all his race, the
trait upon which I have remarked before, a keen, intelligent interest
in America and Americans.
While he was still welcoming us and apologising for the behaviour of
his servant, the countess came in, followed by the young countess,
their daughter. The Countess Tolstoy has one of the sweetest faces I
ever saw, and, although she has had thirteen children, she looks as if
she were not over forty-three years old. Her smooth brown hair had not
one silver thread, and its gloss might be envied by many a girl of
eighteen. Her eyes were brown, alert, and fun-loving, her manner quick,
and her speech enthusiastic. Her plain silk gown was well made, and its
richness was in strange contrast to the peasant's costume of her
The little countess had short red brown hair parted on the side like
a boy's and softly waving about her face, red brown eyes, and a skin so
delicate that little freckles showed against its clearness. Her modest,
quiet manner gave her at once an air of breeding. Her manner was older
and more subdued than that of her mother, from whom the cares and
anxieties of her large family and varied interests had evidently rolled
softly and easily, leaving no trace behind.
All three of them began questioning us about our plans, our homes,
our families, wondering at the ease with which we took long journeys,
envying our leisure to enjoy ourselves, and constantly interrupting
themselves with true expressions of welcome.
It is, perhaps, only a fair example of the bountiful hospitality we
received all through Poland and Russia to chronicle here that Count
Tolstoy invited us to his house in the country, whither they expected
to go shortly, to remain several months, and, as he afterward explained
it, “for as long as you can be happy with us.”
His book on “What is Art?” was then attracting a great deal of
attention, but he was deeply engaged in the one which has since
appeared, first under the title of “The Awakening,” and afterward
called “Resurrection.” It is said that he wrote this book twelve years
ago, and only rewrote it at the instance of the publishers, but no one
who has met Tolstoy and become acquainted with him can doubt that he
has been collecting material, thinking, planning, and writing on that
book for a lifetime.
Many consider Tolstoy a poseur, but he sincerely believes in
himself. He had only the day before worked all day in the shop of a
peasant, making shoes for which he had been paid fifty copecks, and we
were told that not infrequently he might be seen working in the forest
or field, bending his back to the same burdens as his peasants, sharing
their hardships, and receiving no more pay than they.
It was a wonderful experience to sit opposite him, to look into his
eyes, and to hear him talk.
“It is a great country, yours,” he said. “To me the most interesting
in the world just at present. What are you going to do with your
problems? How are you going to deal with anarchy and the Indian and
negro questions? You have a blessed liberty in your country.”
“If you will excuse me for saying so, I think we have a very
un_blessed liberty in our country! Too much liberty is what has brought
about the very conditions of anarchy and the race problem which now
“Do you think the negroes ought not to have been given the
“That is a difficult question,” I said. “Let me answer it by giving
you another. Is it a good thing to turn loose on a young republic a
mass of consolidated ignorance, such as the average negro represented
at the close of the war, and put votes into their hands with not one
restraining influence to counteract it? You continentals can form no
idea of the Southern negro. The case of your serfs is by no means a
parallel. But it is too late now. You cannot take the franchise away
from them. They must work out their own salvation.”
“Would you take it away from them, if you could?” asked Tolstoy.
“Most certainly I would,” I answered, “although my opinion is of no
value, and I am only wasting your time by expressing it. I would take
away the franchise from the negroes and from all foreigners until they
had lived in our country twenty-one years, as our American men must do,
and I would establish a property and educational qualification for
every voter. I would not permit a man to vote upon property issues
unless he were a property owner.”
“Would you enfranchise the women?” asked the countess.
“I would, but under the same conditions.”
“But would your best element of women exercise the privilege?” asked
the little countess.
“Not all of them at first, and some of them never, I suppose; but
when once our country awakens to the meaning of patriotism, and our
women understand that they are citizens exactly as the men are
citizens, they will do their duty, and do it more conscientiously than
“It is a very interesting subject,” said the count; “and your
suggestions open up many possibilities. Women do vote in several of
your States, I am told.”
“How I would love to see a woman who had voted,” cried the countess,
clasping her hands with all the vivacity of a French woman.
“Why, I have voted,” said Bee, laughing. “I voted for President
McKinley in the State of Colorado, and my sister and Mrs. Jimmie voted
for school trustee in Illinois.” All three of the Tolstoys turned
eagerly toward Bee.
“Do tell me about it,” said the count.
“There is very little to tell. I simply went and stood in line and
cast my ballot.”
“But was there no shooting, no bribery, no excitement?” cried the
countess. “Do they go dressed as you are now?”
“No, I dressed much better. I wore my best Paris gown, and drove
down in my victoria. While I was in the line half a dozen gentlemen,
who attended my receptions, came up and chatted with me, showed me how
to fold my ballot, and attended me as if we were at a concert. When I
came away, I took a street-car home, and sent my carriage for several
ladies who otherwise would not have come.”
“And you,” said the countess, turning to Mrs. Jimmie.
“It was in a barber shop,” she said, laughing. “When I went in, the
men had their feet on the table, their hats on their heads, and they
were all smoking, but at my entrance all these things changed. Hats
came off, cigars were laid down, and feet disappeared. I was politely
treated, and enjoyed it immensely.”
“How very interesting,” said Tolstoy. “But are there not societies
for and against suffrage? Why do your women combine against it?”
“Because American women have not awakened to the meaning of good
citizenship, and they prefer chivalry to justice, regardless of the
love of country. I never belonged to any suffrage society, never wrote
or spoke or talked about it. I think the responsibility of voting would
be heavy and often disagreeable, but, if the women were enfranchised, I
would vote from a sense of duty, just as I think many others would;
and, as to the good which might accrue, I think you will agree with me
that women's standards are higher than men's. There would be far less
bribery in politics than there is now.”
“Is there much bribery?” asked Tolstoy.
“Unfortunately, I suppose there is. Have you heard how the
ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tom Reed, defines an honest
man in politics? 'An honest man is a man that will stay bought!'“
There is no use in denying the truth. Tolstoy is always the teacher
and the author. I could not imagine him the husband and the father. He
seemed in the act of getting copy, and had a way of asking a question,
and then scrutinising both the question and the answer as one who had
set a mechanical toy in motion by winding it up. Tolstoy would make an
excellent reporter for an American newspaper. He could obtain an
interview with the most reticent politician. But I had a feeling that
his methods were as the methods of Goethe.
His wife evidently does not share his own opinion of himself. She
listened with obvious impatience to the conversation, then she drew Bee
and Mrs. Jimmie aside, and they were soon in the midst of an animated
discussion of the Rue de la Paix.
Tolstoy overheard snatches of their talk without a sign of
disapproval. I have seen a big Newfoundland watch the graceful antics
of a kitten with the same air of indifference with which Tolstoy
regarded his wife's humanity and naturalness. Tolstoy takes himself
with profound seriousness, but, in spite of his influence on Russia and
the outside world, the great teacher has been unable to cure his wife's
interest in millinery.
Nordau told me in Paris that Tolstoy was a combination of genius and
insanity. Undoubtedly Tolstoy is actuated by a genuine desire to free
Russia, but the idea was unmistakably imbedded in my mind that his
Christianity was like Napoleon's description of a Russian. Scratch it
and you would find Tartar fanaticism under it,—the fanaticism of the
ascetic who would drive his own flesh and blood into the flames to save
the soul of his domestics. This impression grew as I watched the
attitude of the countess toward her husband. What must a wife think of
such a husband's views of marriage when she is the mother of thirteen
of his children? What must she think of insincerity when he refuses to
copyright his books because he thinks it wrong to take money for
teaching, yet permits her to copyright them and draw the
royalties for the support of the family?
Her opinion of her famous husband lies beneath her manner, covered
lightly by a charming and graceful impatience,—the impatience of a
When we got into the carriage I said:
“Well,” said our friend the consul, who had not spoken during the
interview, “he is the queerest man I ever met. But how he pumped you!”
“We are all 'copy' to him,” said Jimmie. “He wanted information at
“Sometime he may succeed in convincing his daughter,” said Mrs.
Jimmie, “but never his wife. She knows him too well.”
“Yet he seemed interested in you and Jimmie,” said Bee, ruefully.
Then more cheerfully, “but we're asked to come again!”
“We are living documents; that's why.”
“What do you think of him?” said Jimmie to me with a grin of
“I don't know. My impressions have got to settle and be skimmed and
drained off before I know.”
“Well, we'll go to their reception anyway,” said Bee, comfortably,
with the air of one who had no problems to wrestle with.
“What are you going to wear?”
To be sure! That was the main question after all. What were we going
CHAPTER XII. AT ONE OF THE TOLSTOY
When we arrived the next evening, it was to find a curious
situation. The Countess Tolstoy and her daughter and young son, in
European costume,—the countess in velvet and lace, and the little
countess in a pretty taffeta silk,—were receiving their guests in the
main salon, and later served them to a magnificent supper with
champagne. The count, we were told, was elsewhere receiving his guests,
who would not join us. Later he came in, still in his peasant's
costume, and refused all refreshment. He was exceedingly civil to all
his guests, but signalled out the Americans in a manner truly
It was a charming evening, and we met agreeable people, but,
although they stayed late, we remained, at Tolstoy's request, still
later, and when the last guest had departed, we sat down, drawing our
chairs quite close together after the manner of a cheerful family
After inquiring how we had spent our day, and giving us some
valuable hints about different points of interest for the morrow,
Tolstoy plunged at once into the conversation which had been broken off
the day before. It was evident that he had been thinking about our
country, and was eager for more information.
“I became very well acquainted with your ambassador, Mr. White,
while he was in this country,” he began. “I found him a man of wide
experience, of great culture, and of much originality in thought. I
learned a great deal about America from him. It must be wonderful to
live in a country where there is no Orthodox Church, where one can
worship as one pleases, and where every one's vote is counted.”
Jimmie coughed politely, and looked at me.
“It encourages individuality,” he added. “Do you not find your own
countrymen more individual than those of any other nation?” he added,
addressing Jimmie directly for the first time.
“I think I do,” said Jimmie, carefully weighing out his words as if
on invisible scales. Jimmie is largely imbued with that absurd fear of
a man who has written books, which is to me so inexplicable.
“Your country appeals to Russians, strongly,” pursued the count,
evidently bent upon drawing Jimmie out.
“I have often wondered why,” said Jimmie. “It couldn't have been the
“No, not entirely the wheat, although the news of your generosity
spread like wildfire through all classes of society, and served to open
the hearts of the peasants toward America as they are opened toward no
other country in the world. The word 'Amerikanski' is an open sesame
all through Russia. Have you noticed it?”
“Often,” said Jimmie. “And often wondered at it. But that wheat was
a small enterprise to gain a nation's gratitude. It is the more
surprising to us because it was not a national gift, but the result of
the generosity and large-mindedness of a handful of men, who pushed it
through so quietly and unostentatiously that millions of people in
America to this day do not know that it was ever done, but over here we
have not met a single Russian who has not spoken of it immediately.”
“The Russians are a grateful people,” observed Mrs. Jimmie, “but it
seems a little strange to me to discover such ardent gratitude among
the nobility for assistance which reached people hundreds of miles away
from them, and in whose welfare they could have only a general
interest, prompted by humanity.”
“Ah! but madame, Russians are more keenly alive to the problem of
our serfs than any other. Many of our wealthy people are doing all that
they can to assist them, and, when a crisis like the famine comes, it
is heart-breaking not to be able to relieve their suffering.
Consequently, the sending of that wheat touched every heart.”
“Then, too, we are not divided,—the North against the South, as you
were on your negro question,” said the little countess. “The peasant
problem stretches from one end of Russia to the other.”
“We are a diffuse people,” I said. “Perhaps that is the result of
our mixed blood and the individuality that you spoke of, but your books
are so widely read in America that I believe people in the North are
quite as well informed and quite as much interested in the problem of
the Russian serf as in our own negro problem.”
Bee gave me a look which in sign language meant, “And that isn't
saying half as much as it sounds.”
“Undoubtedly there is a strong point of sympathy between our two
countries. Like you, we have many mixed strains of blood, and, though
we are so much older, we have civilised more slowly, so that we are
both in youthful stages of progress. Your great prairies correspond in
a large measure to our steppes. America and Russia are the greatest
wheat-growing countries in the world. Our internal resources are the
only ones vast enough to support us without assistance from other
“Is that true of Russia?” Jimmie cut in, his commercial instinct
getting the better of his awe of Tolstoy. “Where would you get your
“True,” said Tolstoy, “we could not do it as completely as you, and
your very resources are one reason for our admiration of America.”
“In case of war, now,—” went on Jimmie. He stopped speaking, and
looked down in deep embarrassment, remembering Tolstoy's hatred of war.
“Yes,” said Tolstoy, kindly. “In case the whole civilised world
waged war on the United States, I dare say you could still remain a
tolerably prosperous people.”
“At any rate,” said Jimmie, recovering himself, “it would be a good
many years before we would be a hungry nation, and, in the meantime, we
could practically starve out the enemy by cutting off their food
supply, and disable their fleets and commerce for want of coal, so
there is hardly any danger, from the prudent point of view, of the
world combining against us.”
“If the diplomacy at Washington continues in its present trend,
under your great President McKinley, your country will not allow
herself to be dragged into the quarrels of Europe. We older nations
might well learn a lesson from your present government.”
“Oh!” I cried, “how good of you to say that. It is the first time in
all Europe that I have heard our government praised for its diplomacy,
and coming from you, I am so grateful.”
Jimmie and the consul also beamed at Tolstoy's complimentary
“Now, about your men of letters?” said Tolstoy. “It is some time
since I have had such direct news from America. What are the great
names among you now?”
At this juncture Countess Tolstoy drew nearer to Bee and Mrs.
Jimmie, and our groups somewhat separated.
“Our great names?” I repeated. “Either we have no great names now,
or we are too close to them to realise how great they are. We seem to
be between generations. We have lost our Lowell, and Longfellow, and
Poe, and Hawthorne, and Emerson, and we have no others to take their
“But a young school will spring up, some of whom may take their
places,” said Tolstoy.
“It has already sprung up,” I said, “and is well on the way to
manhood. One great drawback, however, I find in mentioning the names of
all of them to a European, or even to an Englishman, is the fact that
so many of our characteristic American authors write in a dialect which
is all that we Americans can do to understand. For instance, take the
negro stories, which to me are like my mother tongue, brought up as I
was in the South. Thousands of Northern people who have never been
South are unable to read it, and to them it holds no humour and no
pathos. To the ordinary Englishman, it is like so much Greek, and to
the continental English-speaking person it is like Sanskrit. In the
same way the New England stories, which are written in Yankee dialect,
cannot be understood by people in the South who have never been North.
How then can we expect Europeans to manage them?”
“How extraordinary,” said Tolstoy. “And both are equally typical, I
“Equally so,” I replied.
“The reason she understands them both,” broke in Jimmie, “is because
her mother comes from the northernmost part of the northernmost State
in the Union, and her father from a point almost equally in the South.
There is but one State between his birthplace and the Gulf of Mexico.”
“About the same distance,” said Tolstoy, “as if your mother came
from Petersburg and your father from Odessa.”
“But there are others who write English which is not distorted in
its spelling. James Lane Alien and Henry B. Fuller are particularly
noted for their lucid English and literary style; Cable writes Creole
stories of Louisiana; Mary Hartwell Catherwood, stories of French
Canadians and the early French settlers in America; Bret Harte, stories
of California mining camps; Mary Hallock Foote, civil engineering
stories around the Rocky Mountains; Weir Mitchell, Quaker stories of
Pennsylvania; and Charles Egbert Craddock lays her plots in the
Tennessee mountains. Of all these authors, each has written at least
two books along the lines I have indicated, and I mention them,
thinking they would be particularly interesting to you as descriptive
of portions of the United States.”
“All these,” said Tolstoy, meditatively, “in one country.”
“Not only that,” I said, “but no two alike, and most of them as
widely different as if one wrote in French and the other in German.”
“A wonderful country,” murmured Tolstoy again. “I have often thought
of going there, but now I am too old.”
“There is no one in the world,” I answered him, “in the realm of
letters or social economics, whom the people of America would rather
see than you.”
He bowed gracefully, and only answered again:
“No, I am too old now. I wish I had gone there when I could. But
tell me,” he added, “have you no authors who write universally?”
“Universally,” I repeated. “That is a large word. Yes, we have Mark
Twain. He is our most eminent literary figure at present.”
“Ah! Mark Twain,” repeated Tolstoy. “I have heard of him.”
“Have you indeed? I thought no one was known in Europe, except
Fenimore Cooper. He is supposed to have written universally of America,
because he never wrote anything but Indian stories! In France, they
know of Poe, and like him because they tell me that he was like
“He was insane, was he not?” said Tolstoy, innocently.
I bit my lip to keep from laughing, for Tolstoy had not perpetrated
that as a jest.
“But many of our most whimsical and most delicious authors could not
be appreciated by Europe in general, because Europeans are all so
ignorant of us. There is Frank Stockton, whose humour continentals
would be sure to take seriously, and then Thomas Nelson Page writes
most effectively when he uses negro dialect. His story 'Marse Chan,'
which made him famous, I consider the best short story ever written in
America. Hopkinson Smith, too, has written a book which deserves to
live for ever, depicting as it does a phase of the reconstruction
period, when Southern gentlemen of the old school came into contact
with the Northern business methods. Books like these would seem trivial
to a European, because they represent but a single step in our curious
“I understand,” said Tolstoy, sympathetically. “Of course it is
difficult for us to realise that America is not one nation, but an
amalgamation of all nations. To the casual thinker, America is an
off-shoot of England.”
“Perfectly true,” said Jimmie, “and that barring the fact that we
speak a language which is, in some respects, similar to the English, no
nations are more foreign to each other than the United States and
England. It would be better for the English if they had a few more
Bryces among them.”
“If it weren't for the dialects,” said Tolstoy, “I think more
Europeans would be interested in American literature.”
“That is true,” I said, “and yet, without dialects, you wouldn't get
the United States as it really is. There are heaps and heaps of
Americans who won't read dialect themselves, but they miss a great
deal. Take, for instance, James Whitcomb Riley, a poet who, to my mind,
possesses absolute genius,—the genius of the commonplace. His best
things are all in dialect, which a great many find difficult, and yet,
when he gives public readings from his own poems, he draws audiences
which test the capacity of the largest halls. I myself have seen him
recalled nineteen times.”
“America and Russia are growing closer together every day,” said
Tolstoy. “Every year we use more of your American machinery; your
plows, and threshers, and mowing-machines, and all agricultural
implements are coming into use here. Every year some Americans settle
in Russia from business interests, and we are rapidly becoming
dependent on you for our coal. If you had a larger merchant marine, it
would benefit our mutual interests wonderfully. Is your country as much
interested in Russia as we are in you?”
“Equally so,” I said. “Russian literature is very well understood in
America. We read all your books. We know Pushkin and Tourguenieff. Your
Russian music is played by our orchestras, and your Russian painter,
Verestchagin, exhibited his paintings in all the large cities, and made
us familiar with his genius.”
“All art, all music has a moral effect upon the soul. Verestchagin
paints war—hideous war! Moral questions should be talked about and
discussed, and a remedy found for them. In America you will not discuss
many questions. Even in the translations of my books, parts which seem
important to me are left out. Why is that? It limits you, does it not?”
“I suppose the demand creates the supply,” I ventured. “We may be
prudish, but as yet the moral questions you speak of have not such a
hold on our young republic that they need drastic measures. When we
become more civilised, and society more cancerous, doubtless the public
mind will permit these questions to be discussed.”
“The time for repentance is in advance of the crime,” said Tolstoy.
“American prudery is narrowing in its effect on our art,” I
“Is that the reason for many of your artists and authors living
“It may be. We certainly are not encouraged in America to depict
life as it is. That is one reason I think why foreign authors sell
their books by the thousands in America, and by the hundreds in their
“Then the taste is there, is it?” asked Tolstoy.
“The common sense is there,” I said, bluntly,—“the common sense to
know that our authors are limited to depicting a phase instead of the
whole life, and then, if you are going to get the whole life, you must
read foreign authors. It's just as if a sculptor should confine himself
to shaping fingers, and toes, and noses, and ears because the public
refuses to take a finished study.”
“But why, why is it?” said Tolstoy, with a touch of impatience. “If
you will read the whole thing when written by foreign authors, why do
you not encourage your own?”
“I am sure I don't know,” I said, “unless it is on the simple
principle that many men enjoy the ballet scene in opera, while they
would not permit their wives and daughters to take part in it.”
“America is the protector of the family,” said Jimmie, regarding me
with a hostile eye.
Tolstoy tactfully changed the subject out of deference to Jimmie's
“Do many Russians visit America?” asked Tolstoy.
“Oh, yes, quite a number, and they are among our most agreeable
visitors. Prince Serge Wolkonsky travelled so much and made so many
addresses that he made Russia more popular than ever.”
“Do you know how popular you are in America?” said Jimmie, blushing
at his own temerity.
“I know how many of my books are sold there, and I get many kind
letters from Americans.”
“Isn't he considered the greatest living man of letters in America?”
said Jimmie, appealingly to me boyishly.
“Undoubtedly,” I replied, smiling, because Tolstoy smiled.
“Whom do you consider the greatest living author?” asked Jimmie.
“Mrs. Humphrey Ward,” said Tolstoy, decisively.
This was a thunderbolt which stopped the conversation of the other
members of the party.
“And one of your greatest Americans,” went on Tolstoy, “was Henry
“From a literary point of view, or—”
“From the point of view of humanity and of the Christian.”
Jimmie and I leaned back involuntarily. Judged by these standards,
we were none of us either Christians or human, in our party at least.
The Countess Tolstoy, who seemed to be in not the slightest awe of
her illustrious husband, having become somewhat impatient during this
conversation, now turned to me and said:
“It has been so interesting to talk with your sister and Mrs. Jimmie
about Paris fashions. We see so little here that is not second hand,
and your journey is so fascinating. It seems incredible that you can be
travelling simply for pleasure and over such a number of countries!
Where do you go next?”
“We have come from everywhere,” I said, laughing, “and we are going
The countess clasped her hands and said:
“How I envy you, but doesn't it cost you a great deal of money?”
“I suppose it does,” I said, regretfully. “I am going to travel as
long as my money holds out, but the rest are not so hampered.”
“Alas, if I could only go with you,” said the countess, “but we are
under such heavy expense now. It used to be easier when we had three or
four children nearer of an age who could be educated together. Then it
cost less. But now this boy, my youngest, necessitates different tutors
for everything, and it costs as much to educate this last one of
thirteen as it did any four of the others.”
“But then you educate so thoroughly,” I said. “Russians always speak
five or six, sometimes ten languages, including dialects. With us our
wealthy people generally send their children to a good private school
and afterward prepare them by tutor for college. Then the richest send
them for a trip around the world, or perhaps a year abroad, and that
ends it. But the ordinary American has only a public school education.
Americans are not linguists naturally.”
“Ah! but here we are obliged to be linguists, because, if we travel
at all, we must speak other languages, and, if we entertain at all, we
meet people who cannot speak ours, which is very difficult to learn.
But languages are easy.”
“Oh! are they?” said Jimmie, involuntarily, and everybody
“Jimmie's languages are unique,” said Bee.
“Are you going to Italy?” said the countess.
“Yes, we hope to spend next spring in Italy, beginning with Sicily
and working slowly northward.”
“How delightful! How charming!” cried the countess. “How I wish, how
I wish I could go with you.”
“Go with us?” I cried in delight. “Could you manage it? We should be
so flattered to have your company.”
“Oh, if I could! I shall ask. It will do no harm to ask.”
We had all stood up to go and had begun to shake hands when she
cried across to her husband:
“Leo, Leo, may I go—”
Then seeing she had not engaged her husband's attention, who was
talking to Jimmie about single tax, she went over and pulled his
“Leo, may I go with them to Italy in the spring? Please, dear Leo,
He shook his head gravely, and the little countess smiled at her
“It would cost too much,” said Tolstoy, “besides, I cannot spare
you. I need you.”
“You need me!” cried the countess in gay derision. Then pleadingly,
“Do let me go.”
“I cannot,” said Tolstoy, turning to Jimmie again.
The countess came back to us with a face full of disappointment.
“He doesn't need me at all,” she whispered. “I'd go anyway if I had
As I said before, Russia and America are very much alike.
As we left the house my mind recurred to Max Nordau, whose
personality and methods I have so imperfectly presented. The contrast
to Tolstoy would intrude itself. In all the conversations I ever had
with Max Nordau, he spent most of the time in trying to be a help and a
benefit to me. The physician in him was always at the front. His aim
was healing, and I only regret that their intimate personality prevents
me from relating them word for word, as they would interest and benefit
others quite as much as they did me.
The difference between these two great leaders of thought—these two
great reformers, Nordau and Tolstoy—is the theme of many learned
discussions, and admits many different points of view.
To me they present this aspect: Tolstoy, like Goethe, is an
interesting combination of genius and hypocrisy. He preaches
unselfishness, while himself the embodiment of self. Max Nordau is his
antithesis. Nordau gives with generous enthusiasm—of his time, his
learning, his genius, most of all, of himself. Tolstoy fastens himself
upon each newcomer politely, like a courteous leech, sucks him dry, and
Max Nordau, like Shakespeare, absorbs humanity as a whole. Tolstoy
considers the Bible the most dramatic work ever written, and turns this
knowledge of the world's demand for religion to theatrical account.
Tolstoy is outwardly a Christian, Nordau outwardly a pagan. Tolstoy
openly acknowledges God, but exemplifies the ideas of man, while Max
Nordau's private life embodies the noble teachings of the Christ whom
It was not until months afterward, we were back in London in fact,
when Jimmie's opinion of Tolstoy seemed to have crystallised. He came
to me one morning and said:
“I've read everything, since we left Moscow, that Tolstoy has
written. Now you know I don't pretend to know anything about literary
style and all that rot that you're so keen about, but I do know
something about human nature, and I do know a grand-stand play when I
see one. Now Tolstoy is a genius, there's no gainsaying that, but it's
all covered up and smothered in that religious rubbish that he has
caught the ear of the world with. If you want to be admired while you
are alive, write a religious novel and let the hoi polloi snivel over
you and give you gold dollars while you can enjoy 'em and spend 'em.
That's where Tolstoy is a fox. So is Mrs. Humphrey Ward. She's a fox,
too. They are getting all the fun now. But it's all gallery play
with both of 'em.”
I said nothing, and he smoked in silence for a moment. Then he
“But I say, what a ripper Tolstoy could write if he'd just
cut loose from religion for a minute and write a novel that didn't have
any damned purpose in it!”
Verily, Jimmie is no fool.
CHAPTER XIII. SHOPPING EXPERIENCES
In going to Europe timid persons often cover their real design by
claiming the intention of taking German baths, of “doing” Switzerland,
or of learning languages. But everybody knows that the real reason why
most women go abroad is to shop. What cathedral can bring such a look
of rapture to a woman's face as New Bond Street or what scenery such
ecstasy as the Rue de la Paix?
Therefore, as I believe my lot in shopping to be the common lot of
all, let me tell my tale, so that to all who have suffered the same
agonies and delights this may come as a personal reminiscence of their
own, while to you who have Europe yet to view for that blissful first
time, which is the best of all, this is what you will go through.
When I first went to Europe I had all of the average American
woman's timidity about asserting herself in the face of a shopgirl or
salesman. Many years of shopping in America had thoroughly broken a
spirit which was once proud. I therefore suffered unnecessary annoyance
during my first shopping in London, because I was overwhelmingly polite
and affable to the man behind the counter. I said “please,” and “If you
don't mind,” and “I would like to see,” instead of using the martial
command of the ordinary Englishwoman, who marches up to the show-case
in flat-heeled boots and says in a tone of an officer ordering
“Shoulder arms,” “Show me your gauze fans!” I used to listen to them
standing next me at a counter, momentarily expecting to see them
knocked down by the indignant salesman and carried to a hospital in an
My own tones were so conversational when I said, “Will you please
show me your black satin ribbon?” that, while I did not say it, my
voice implied such questions as “How are your father and mother?” and
“I hope the baby is better?” and “Doesn't that draught there on your
back annoy you?” and “Don't you get very tired standing up all day?”
It was Bee, as usual, who gave me my first lesson in the insolent
bearing which alone obtains the best results from the average British
Still without having thoroughly asserted myself, not having been to
that particular manner born, I went next to Paris, where my politeness
met with the just reward which virtue is always supposed to get and
I consider shopping in Paris one of the greatest pleasures to be
found in this vale of tears. The shops, with the exception of the
Louvre, the Bon Marche, and one or two of the large department stores
of similar scope, are all small—tiny, in fact, and exploit but one or
two things. A little shop for fans will be next to a milliner who makes
a specialty of nothing but gauze theatre bonnets. Perhaps next will
come a linen store, where the windows will have nothing but the most
fascinating embroidery, handkerchiefs, and neckware. Then comes the man
who sells belts of every description, and parasol handles. Perhaps your
next window will have such a display of diamond necklaces as would
justify you in supposing that his stock would make Tiffany choke with
envy, but if you enter, you will find yourself in an aperture in the
wall, holding an iron safe, a two-by-four show-case, and three chairs,
and you will find that everything of value he has, except the clothes
he wears, are all in his window.
As long as these shops are all crowded together and so small, to
shop in Paris is really much more convenient than in one of our large
department stores at home, with the additional delight of having
smiling interested service. The proprietor himself enters into your
wants, and uses all his quickness and intelligence to supply your
demands. He may be, very likely he is, doubling the price on you,
because you are an American, but, if your bruised spirit is like mine,
you will be perfectly willing to pay a little extra for politeness.
It is a truth that I have brought home with me no article from Paris
which does not carry with it pleasant recollections of the way I bought
it. Can any woman who has shopped only in America bring forward a
All this changes, however, when once you get into the clutches of
the average French dressmaker. By his side, Barabbas would appear a
gentleman of exceptional honesty. I have often, in idle moments,
imagined myself a cannibal, and, in preparing my daily menu, my first
dish would be a fricassee of French dressmakers. Perhaps in that I am
unjust. In thinking it over, I will amend it by saying a fricassee of
all dressmakers. It would be unfair to limit it to the French.
There is one thing particularly noticeable about the charm which
French shop-windows in one of the smart streets like the rue de la Paix
exercises upon the American woman, and that is that it very soon wears
off, and she sees that most of the things exploited are beyond her
means, or are totally unsuited to her needs. I defy any woman to walk
down one of these brilliant shop-lined streets of Paris for the first
time, and not want to buy every individual thing she sees, and she will
want to do it a second time and a third time, and, if she goes away
from Paris and stays two months, the first time she sees these things
on her return all the old fascination is there. To overcome it, to
stamp it out of the system, she must stay long enough in Paris to live
it down, for, if she buys rashly while under the influence of this
first glamour, she is sure to regret it.
Dresden and Berlin differ materially from Paris in this respect.
Their shop-windows exploit things less expensive, more suitable to your
every-day needs, and equally unattainable at home. So that if you have
gained some experience by your mistakes in Paris, your outlay in these
German cities will be much more rational.
Leather goods in Germany are simply distracting. There are shops in
Dresden where no woman who appreciates bags, satchels, card-cases,
photograph-frames, book-covers, and purses could refrain from buying
without disastrous results. I remember my first pilgrimage through the
streets of Dresden. Between the porcelains and toilet sets, the
Madonnas, the belts, and card-cases, I nearly lost my mind. The modest
prices of the coveted articles were each time a separate shock of joy.
If these sturdy Germans had wished to take advantage of my indiscreet
expressions of surprise and delight, they might easily have raised
their prices without our ever having discovered it. But day after day
we returned, not only to find that the prices remained the same, but
that, in many instances, if we bought several articles, they
voluntarily took off a mark or two on account of the generosity of our
Dresden is a city where works of art are most cunningly copied. You
can order, if you like, copies of any but the most intricate of the
treasures of the Green Vaults, and you will not be disappointed with
the results. You can order copies of any of the most famous pictures in
the Dresden galleries, and have them executed with like exquisite
skill. Nor is there any city in all Europe where it is so satisfactory
to buy a souvenir of a town, which you will not want to throw away when
you get home and try to find a place for it. Because souvenirs of
Dresden appeal to your love of art and the highest in your nature.
Leather you will find elsewhere, but the Dresden works of art are
peculiarly its own.
In Austria manners differ considerably both from those of Paris and
upper Germany. I should say they were a cross between the two. We
shopped in Ischl, which has shops quite out of proportion to its size
on account of being the summer home of the Emperor, and there we met
with a politeness which was delightful.
In Vienna we had occasion to accompany Jimmie and “Little Papa” on
business expeditions which led him into the wholesale district. There
it was universal for all the clerks to be seated at their work,
particularly in the jeweller's shops. At our entrance, every man and
woman there, from the proprietor to the errand boys, rose to their
feet, bowed, and said “Good day.”
When we finished our purchases, or even if we only looked and came
away without buying, this was all repeated, which sometimes gave me the
sensation of having been to a court function.
Vienna fashions are very elegant. Being the seat of the court, there
is a great deal of dress. There is wealth, and the shops are
magnificent. Personally, I much prefer the fashions of Vienna to those
of Paris. Prices are perhaps a little more moderate, but the truly
Paris creation generally has the effect of making one think it would be
beautiful on somebody else. I can go to Worth, Felix, and Doucet, and
half a dozen others equally as smart, and not see ten models that I
would like to own. In Vienna there were Paris clothes, of course, but
the Viennese have modified them, producing somewhat the same effect as
American influence on Paris fashions. To my mind they are more elegant,
having more of reserve and dignity in their style, and a distinct
morality. Paris clothes generally look immoral when you buy them, and
feel immoral when you get them on. There is a distinct spiritual
atmosphere about clothes. In Vienna this was very noticeable. I speak
more of clothes in Paris and Vienna, as there are only four cities in
the world where one would naturally buy clothes,—Paris, Vienna,
London, and New York. In other cities you buy other things, articles
perhaps distinctive of the country.
When you get to St. Petersburg, in your shopping experiences, you
will find a mixture of Teuton and Slav which is very perplexing. We
were particularly anxious to get some good specimens of Russian enamel,
which naturally one supposes to be more inexpensive in the country
which creates them, but to our distress we discovered Avenue de l'Opera
prices on everything we wished. Each time that we went back the price
was different. The market seemed to fluctuate. One blue enamelled belt,
upon which I had set my heart, varied in price from one to three
dollars each time I looked at it. Finally, one day I hit upon a plan. I
asked my friend, Mile, de Falk, to follow me into this shop and not
speak to me, but to notice the particular belt I held in my hand. I
then went out without purchasing, and the next day my friend sent her
sister, who speaks nothing but Russian and French, to this shop. She
purchased the belt for ten dollars less than it had been offered to me.
She ordered a different lining made for it, and the shopkeeper said in
guileless Russian, “How strange it is that ladies all over the world
are alike. For a week two American young ladies have been in here
looking at this belt, and by a strange coincidence they also wished
this same lining.”
For once I flatter myself that I “did” a Russian Jew, but his
companions in crime have so thoroughly “done” me in other corners of
the world that I need not plume myself unnecessarily. He is more than
even with me.
All through Russia we contented ourselves with buying Russian
engravings, which are among the finest in the world. Perhaps some of
their charm is in the subject portrayed, which, being unfamiliar,
arouses curiosity. Russian operas, paintings, theatricals, the national
ballet, the interior of churches and mosques are different from those
of every other country. There is in the churches such a strange
admixture of the spiritual and the theatrical. So that the engravings
of these things have for me at least more interest than anything else.
Occasionally we were betrayed into buying a peasant's costume, an
ikon, or an enamel, but in Moscow and Kief, the only way that we could
reproduce to our friends at home the glories and splendours of these
two beautiful cities was by photographs, in which the brilliancy of
their colours brings back the sensations of delight which we
Shopping in Constantinople is not shopping as we Americans
understand it, unless you happen to be an Indian trader by profession.
I am not. Therefore, the system of bargaining, of going away from a
bazaar and pretending you never intended buying, never wanted it
anyhow, of coming back to sit down and take a cup of coffee, was like
acting in private theatricals. By nature I am not a diplomat, but if I
had stayed longer in the Orient, I think I would have learned to be as
tricky as Chinese diplomacy.
We were given, by several of our Turkish friends, two or three rules
which should govern conduct when shopping in the Orient. One is to look
bored; the second, never to show interest in what pleases you; the
third, never to let your robber salesman have an idea of what you
really intend to buy. This comes hard at first, but after you have once
learned it, to go shopping is one of the most exciting experiences that
I can remember. I have always thought that burglary must be an
exhilarating profession, second only to that of the detective who traps
him. In shopping in the Orient, the bazaars are dens of thieves, and
you, the purchaser, are the detective. We found in Constantinople
little opportunity to exercise our new-found knowledge, because we were
accompanied by our Turkish friends, who saw to it that we made no
indiscreet purchases. On several occasions they made us send things
back because we had been overcharged, and they found us better articles
at less price. Of course we bought a fez, embroidered capes, bolero
jackets, embroidered curtains, and rugs, but we, ourselves, were
waiting to get to Smyrna for the real purchase of rugs, and it was
there that I personally first brought into play the guile that I had
learned of the Turks.
I remember Smyrna with particular delight. The quay curves in like a
giant horseshoe of white cement. The piers jut out into the sapphire
blue of this artificial bay, and are surrounded by myriads of tiny
rowing shells, in which you must trust yourself to get to land, as your
big ship anchors a mile or more from shore.
It was the brightest, most brilliant Mediterranean sunshine which
irradiated the scene the morning on which we arrived at Smyrna. A score
of gaily clad boatmen, whose very patches on their trousers were as
picturesque as the patches on Italian sails, held out their hands to
enable us to step from one cockle-shell to another, to reach the pier.
In the way the boats touch each other in the harbour at Smyrna, I was
reminded of the Thames in Henley week. We climbed through perhaps a
dozen of these boats before we landed on the pier, and in three
minutes' walk we were in the rug bazaars of Smyrna. Such treasures as
We were received by the smiling merchants as if we were long-lost
daughters suddenly restored, but we practised our newly acquired
diplomacy on them to such an extent that their faces soon began to
betray the most comic astonishment. These people are like children, and
exhibit their emotions in a manner which seems almost infantile to the
Caucasian. Alas, we were not the prey they had hoped for. We sneered at
their rugs; we laughed at their embroideries; we turned up our noses at
their jewelled weapons; we drank their coffee, and walked out of their
shops without buying. They followed us into the street, and there
implored us to come back, but we pretended to be returning to our ship.
On our way back through this same street, every proprietor was out in
front of his shop, holding up some special rug or embroidery which he
had hastily dug out of his secret treasures in the vain hope of
compelling our respect. Some of these were Persian silk rugs worth from
one to three thousand dollars each. Although we would have committed
any crime in order to possess these treasures, having got thoroughly
into the spirit of the thing, we turned these rugs on their backs and
pretended to find flaws in them, jeered at their colouring, and went on
our way, followed by a jabbering, excited, perplexed, and nettled
horde, who recklessly slaughtered their prices and almost tore up their
mud floors in their wild anxiety to prove that they had
something—anything—which we would buy. They called upon Allah to
witness that they never had been treated so in their lives, but would
we not stop just once more again to cast our eyes on their unworthy
Having had all the amusement we wanted, and it being nearly time for
luncheon, we went in, and in half an hour we had bought all that we had
intended to buy from the first moment our eyes were cast upon them, and
at about one-half the price they were offered to us three hours before.
Now, if that isn't what you call enjoying yourself, I should like to
ask what you expect.
Ephesus, the graves of the Seven Sleepers, the tomb of St. Luke, the
ruins of the Temple of Diana (“Great is Diana of the Ephesians"), the
prison of St. Paul, are only a part of my vivid experiences in Smyrna.
In Athens we bought nothing modern, but found several antique shops
with Byzantine treasures, also silver ornaments, ancient curios, more
beautiful than anything we found in Italy, and ancient sacred brass
candlesticks of the Greek Church, which bore the test of being
transplanted to an American setting.
In truth, some of my richest experiences have been in exploring with
Jimmie tiny second-hand shops, pawn-shops, and dark, almost squalid
corners, where, amid piles of rubbish, we found some really exquisite
treasures. Mrs. Jimmie and Bee would have been afraid they would catch
leprosy if they had gone with us on some of our expeditions, but Jimmie
and I trusted in that Providence which always watches over children and
fools, and even in England we found bits of old silver, china, and
porcelain which amply repaid us for all the risk we ran. We often
encountered shopkeepers who spoke a language utterly unknown to us and
who understood not one word of English, and with whom we communicated
by writing down the figures on paper which we would pay, or showing
them the money in our hands. Perhaps we were cheated now and then—in
fact, in our secret hearts we are guiltily sure of it, but what
difference does that make?
When you get to Cairo, it being the jumping-off place, you naturally
expect the most curious admixture of stuffs for sale that your mind can
imagine, but, after having passed through the first stages of
bewilderment, you soon see that there are only a few things that you
really care for. For instance, you can't resist the turquoises. If you
go home from Egypt without buying any you will be sorry all the rest of
your lives. Nor ought you to hold yourself back from your natural
leaning toward crude ostrich feathers from the ostrich farms, and to
bottle up your emotion at seeing uncut amber in pieces the size of a
lump of chalk is to render yourself explosive and dangerous to your
friends. Shirt studs, long chains for your vinaigrette or your fan,
cuff buttons, antique belts of curious stones (generally clumsy and
unbecoming to the waist, but not to be withstood), carved ostrich eggs,
jewelled fly-brushes, carved brass coffee-pots and finger bowls, cigar
sets of brilliant but rude enamel, to say nothing of the rugs and
embroideries, are some of the things which I defy you to refrain from
buying. To be sure, there are thousands of other attractions, which, if
you are strong-minded, you can leave alone, but these things I have
enumerated you will find that you cannot live without. Of course, I
mean by this that these things are within reach of your purse, and
cheaper than you can get them anywhere else, unless perhaps you go into
the adjacent countries from which they come.
As you go up the Nile, your shopping becomes more primitive. On the
mud banks, at the stations at which your boat stops, Arabians, Nubians,
and Egyptians sit squatting on the caked mud with their gaudy clothes,
brilliant embroideries, and rugs piled around them all within arm's
reach. Here also you must bring the guile which I have described into
It may be that at Assuan, near the first cataract, I really got into
some little danger. I never knew why, but in the bazaars there I
developed an awful, insatiable desire to make a complete collection of
Abyssinian weapons of warfare. For this purpose, one day, I got on my
donkey and took with me only a little Scotchman, who had presented me
with countless bead necklaces and so many baskets all the way up the
Nile that at night I was obliged to put them overboard in order to get
into my stateroom, and who wore, besides his goggles, a green veil over
his face. We made our way across the sand, into which our donkeys' feet
sank above their fetlocks, to the bazaars of Assuan.
These bazaars deserve more than a passing mention, as they are
unlike any that I ever saw. They are all under one roof on both sides
of tiny streets or broad aisles, just as you choose to call them, and
through these aisles your donkey is privileged to go, while you sit
calmly on his back, bargaining with the cross-legged merchants, who
scream at you as you pass, thrusting their wares into your face, and,
even if you attempt to pass on, they stop your donkey by pulling his
tail. On this particular day I left my donkey at the door and made my
way on foot, as I was eager to make my purchases.
Perhaps I was careless and ought to have taken better care of my
Scotchman, because he was so little and so far from home, but I regret
to say that I lost him soon after I went into the bazaar, and I didn't
see him again for three hours. Never shall I forget those three hours.
In Smyrna, Turkey, and Egypt the bargaining language is about the
“What you give, lady?”
“I won't give anything! I don't want it! What! Do you think I would
carry that back home?”
“But you take hold of him; you feel him silk; I think you want to
buy. Ver' cheap, only four pound!”
“Four pounds!” I say in French. “Oh, you don't want to sell. You
want to keep it. And at such a price you will keep it.”
“Keep it!” in a shrill scream. “Not want to sell? Me? I here
to sell! I sell you everything you see! I sell you the shop!”
and then more wheedlingly, “You give me forty francs?”
“No,” in English again. “I'll give you two dollars.”
“America! Liberty!” he cries, having cunningly established my
nationality, and flattering my country with Oriental guile.
“Exactly,” I say, “liberty for such as you if you go there. None for
me. Liberty in America is only free to the lower classes. The others
are obliged to buy theirs.”
He shakes his head uncomprehendingly. “How much you give for him?
Last price now! Six dollars!”
We haggle over “last prices” for a quarter of an hour more, and
after two cups of coffee, amiably taken together, and some general
conversation, I buy the thing for three dollars.
Bee says my tastes are low, but at any rate I can truthfully say
that I get on uncommonly well with the common herd. I got about thirty
of these jargon-speaking merchants so excited with my spirited method
of not buying what they wanted me to that a large Englishman and a
tall, gaunt Australian, thinking there was a fight going on, came to
where I sat drinking coffee, and found that the screams,
gesticulations, appeals to Allah, smiting of foreheads, brandishing of
fists, and the general uproar were all caused by a quiet and
well-behaved American girl sitting in their midst, while no less than
four of them held a fold of her skirt, twitching it now and then to
call attention to their particular howl of resentment. They rescued me,
loaded my purchases on my donkey boy, and found my donkey for me,
beside which, sitting patiently on the ground and humbly waiting my
return, I found my little Scotchman.
With all this cumulative experience, as Jimmie says, “of how to
misbehave in shops,” we got back to London, where I could bring it into
play, and in a manner avenge myself for past slights.
I was so grateful to Jimmie for the King Arthur that he gave me at
Innsbruck that I decided to surprise him by something really handsome
on his birthday.
When we got to Paris, there seemed to be an epidemic of gun-metal
ornaments set with tiny pearls, diamonds, or sapphires. Of these I
noticed that Jimmie admired the pearl-studded cigar-cases and
match-safes most, but for some reason I waited to make my purchase in
London, which was one of the most foolish things I ever have done in
all my foolish career, and right here let me say that there is nothing
so unsatisfactory as to postpone a purchase, thinking either that you
will come back to the same place or that you will see better further
along, for in nine cases out of ten you never see it again.
When we got to London, Bee and I put on our best street clothes and
started out to buy Jimmie his birthday present. We searched everywhere,
but found that all gun-metal articles in London were either plain or
studded with diamonds. We couldn't find a pearl. Finally in one shop I
explained my search to a tall, heavy man, evidently the proprietor, who
had small green eyes set quite closely together, a florid complexion,
and hay-coloured side-whiskers. His whiskers irritated me quite as much
as the fact that he hadn't what I wanted. Perhaps my hat vexed him, but
at any rate he looked as though he were glad he didn't have the pearls,
and he finally permitted his annoyance, or his general British
rudeness, to voice itself in this way:
“Pardon me, madame,” he said, “but you will never find cigar-cases
of gun-metal studded with pearls, no matter how much you may desire it,
for it is not good taste.”
I was warm, irritated, and my dress was too tight in the belt, so I
just leaned my two elbows on that show-case, and I said to him:
“Do you mean to have the impertinence, my good man, to tell two
American ladies that what they are looking for is not in good taste,
simply because you are so stupid and insular as not to keep it in
stock? Do you presume to express your opinion on taste when you are
wearing a green satin necktie with a pink shirt? If you had ever been
off this little island, and had gone to a land where taste in dress,
and particularly in jewels, is understood, you would realise the
impertinence of criticising the taste of an American woman, who is
trying to find something worth while buying in so hopelessly British a
shop as this. Now, my good man,” I added, taking up my parasol and
purse, “I shall not report your rudeness to the proprietor, because
doubtless you have a family to support, and I don't wish to make you
lose your place, but let this be a warning to you never to be so
insolent again,” and with that, I simply swept out of his shop. I
seldom sweep out. Bee says I generally crawl out, but this time I was
so inflated with an unholy joy that I recklessly cabled to Paris for
Jimmie's pearls, and to this day I rejoice at the way that man covered
his green satin tie with his large hairy red hand, and at the ecstatic
smiles on the faces of two clerks standing near, for I knew he
was the proprietor when I called him “My good man.”
If you want to open an account in London, you have to be vouched for
by another commercial house. They won't take your personal friends, no
matter how wealthy, no matter if they are titled. Your bank's opinion
of you is no good. Neither does it avail you how well and favourably
you are known at your hotel for paying your bill promptly. This, and
the custom in several large department stores of never returning your
money if you take back goods, but making you spend it, not in the
store, but in the department in which you have bought, makes shopping
for dry goods excessively annoying to Americans.
I took back two silk blouses out of five that I bought at a large
shop in Regent Street much frequented by Americans, which carries on a
store near by under the same name, exclusively for mourning goods. To
my astonishment, I discovered that I must buy three more blouses, or
else lose all the money I paid for them. In my thirst for information,
I asked the reason for this. In America, a lady would consider the
reason they gave an insult. The shopwoman told me that ladies' maids
are so expert at copying that many ladies have six or eight garments
sent home, kept a few days, copied by their maids and returned, and
that this became so much the custom that they were finally forced to
make that obnoxious rule.
I have heard complaints made in America by proprietors of large
importing houses that women who keep accounts frequently order a
handsome gown, wrap, or hat sent home on approval, wear it, and return
it the next day. If this is the custom among decent self-respecting
American women, who masquerade in society in the guise of women of
refinement and culture, no wonder that shopkeepers are obliged to
protect themselves. There is nowhere that the saying, “the innocent
must suffer with the guilty,” obtains with so much force as in
shopping, particularly in London.
It is a characteristic difference between the clever American and
the insular British shopkeeper that in America, when a thing such as I
have mentioned is suspected, the saleswoman or a private detective is
sent to shadow the suspect, and ascertain if she really wore the
garment in question. In such cases, the garment is returned to her with
a note, saying that she was seen wearing it, when it is generally paid
for without a word. If not, the shop is in danger of losing one
otherwise valuable customer, as she is placed on what is known as the
“blacklist,” which means that a double scrutiny is placed on all her
purchases, as she is suspected of trickery.
In this same shop in Regent Street, of which I have been speaking,
we submitted to several petty annoyances of this description without
complaint, the last and pettiest of which was when Mrs. Jimmie, being
captivated by an exquisite hundred-guinea gown of pale gray,
embroidered in pink silk roses, and veiled with black Chantilly lace,
bought it and ordered it altered to her figure. For this they charged
her two pounds ten in addition to that frightful price for about an
hour's work about the collar. Mrs. Jimmie seldom resents anything, and
in her gentleness is easily governed, so this time I persuaded her to
protest, and dictated a furious letter of remonstrance to the
proprietor, citing only this one case of extortion. Jimmie sat by,
smoking and encouraging me, as I paced up and down the room with my
hands behind my back, giving vent to sentences which, when copied down
in Mrs. Jimmie's ladylike handwriting, made Jimmie scream with joy. I
think Mrs. Jimmie never had any intention of sending the letter, having
written it down as a safety-valve for my rather explosive nature, but
Jimmie was so carried away by the artistic incongruities of the
situation that he whipped a stamp on it and mailed it before his wife
To his delight, Mrs. Jimmie received, three days later, a letter
from the astonished proprietor, which showed in every line of it the
jolt that my letter must have been to his stolid British nerveless
system. He began by thanking her for having reported the matter to him,
apologised humbly, as a British tradesman always does apologise to the
bloated power of wealth, and said that her letter had been sent to all
the various heads of departments for their perusal. He declared that
for five years he had been endeavouring to bring the directors to see
that, if they were to possess the coveted American patronage for which
they always strove, they must accommodate themselves to certain
American prejudices, one of which was the unalterable distaste
Americans displayed in paying for refitting handsome gowns. He was
delighted to say that her letter had been couched in such firm,
decisive, and righteously indignant language, such as he himself never
would have been capable of commanding, had carried such weight, and had
been productive of such definite results with the directors that he was
pleased to announce that henceforward a radical change would appear in
the government of their house, and that never again would an extra
charge be made for refitting any garment costing over ten pounds. He
thanked her again for her letter, but could not resist saying at the
close that it was the most astonishing letter he had ever received in
his life, and he begged to enclose the two pounds ten overcharge.
Jimmie fairly howled for joy as he read this letter aloud; Bee
looked very much mortified; Mrs. Jimmie exceedingly perplexed, as if
uncertain what to think, but I confess that all my irritation against
British shopkeepers fell away from me as a cast-off garment. I blush to
say that I shared Jimmie's delight, and when he solemnly made me a
present of the two pounds ten I had so heroically earned, I soothed my
ladylike sister's refined resentment by inviting all three to have
broiled lobster with me at Scott's.
I imagine, however, that one woman's experience with dressmakers is
like all others. I have noticed that to introduce the subject of my
personal woes in the matter is to make the conversation general, in
fact I might say composite, no matter how formal the gathering of
women. Like the subject of servants, it is as provocative of
conversation as classical music.
Far be it from me, however, to class all shopping in London under
the head of dry goods, or the rage one gets into with every dressmaker.
In most of the shops, in fact, I may say, in all of them (for the one
unfortunate experience I have related in the jeweller's shop was the
only one of the kind I ever had in London), the clerks are universally
polite, interested, and obliging, no matter how smart the shop may be.
Take for instance, Jay's, or Lewis and Allenby's. The instant you stop
before the smallest object a saleswoman approaches and says, “Good
morning.” You say, “What a very pretty parasol!” and she replies, “It
is pretty, isn't it, modom?” She wears a skin-tight black cashmere
gown with a little tail to it. Her beautiful broad shoulders, flat
back, tiny waist, bun at the back of her head, and the invisible net
over the fringe, all proclaim her to be an Englishwoman, but her
pronunciation of the simplest words, and the way her voice goes up and
down two or three times in a single sentence, sometimes twice in a
single word, might sometimes lead you to think she spoke a foreign
The English call all our voices monotonous, but it was several weeks
after I reached London for the first time before I could catch the
significance of a sentence the first time it was pronounced. All over
Europe our watchword with the Russians, Turks, Egyptians, Arabs,
French, Germans, and Italians was always “Do you speak English?” and in
London it is Jimmie's crowning act of revenge to ask the railway guards
and cab-drivers the same insulting question. Imagine asking London
cabbies the question, “Do you speak English?” It puts him in a purple
But shopkeepers all over Europe are quick to anticipate all your
wants, to suggest tempting things which have not occurred to you to
buy, and to offer to have things made, if nothing in stock suits you. I
suppose I am naturally slow and stupid. Bee says I am, but having been
brought up in America, in the South, where nothing is ever made, and
where we had to send to New York for everything, and where even New
York has to depend on Europe for many of its staples, my surprise
overpowered me so that it mortified Bee, when they offered to have silk
stockings made for me in Paris.
Like most Americans, I am in the habit of turning away disappointed,
and preparing to go without things if I cannot find what I want in the
shops, but in London and Paris they will offer of their own accord to
make for you anything you may describe to them, from a pair of gloves
to a pattern of brocade. This is one and perhaps the only glory of
being an American in Europe, for, as my friend in Naples, of the firm
of Ananias, Barabbas, and Company, said to me:
“Behold! you are an American, and by Americans do we not live?”