"Not only for yourself; you owe it to the girl's honor, if not to your own, to punish the fellow. You won't appear like a coward in a woman's eyes."
"That is an odd kind of logic."
"Do be quiet with your logic and your philosophy, and the lot of them. I am not a logician, but a man, and I feel a mortal offense like a man, and want to settle with the offender."
"Do stop a minute and let me speak a word. I will break off my relations with Fraulein Ellrich, and then I shall not be in a position to fight for her."
"That is very chivalrous!"
"That is silly! Just think of this situation: suppose I wound or kill the offender—come back from the duel, and find the young girl, who is the cause of the quarrel, ready to offer me the prize. I answer: 'Many thanks, fair lady, I do not now wish for it,' and straightway leave her, like the knight in the old ballad."
That seemed to satisfy Paul.
"Very well; then it must not be on her account. But fight you must," and he stopped suddenly, and then burst out: "If you will not fight him, I will."
"Are you mad?"
Paul began to explain that he had the right to do it; he worked himself into a fury, he stuck to his ideas, and it took Wilhelm an hour to bring him to a more reasonable frame of mind. He spared no pains in explaining to him his views of the world's opinion, and that the real cowardice would be to fear the foolish prejudices of society; but it was all in vain, and Paul's angry objections were only silenced when Wilhelm said with great earnestness:
"If nothing that I say convinces you, I can only act in one way with the painful knowledge that our friendship is not equal to such conditions, but only to ordinary occasions."
"Oh! if it comes to giving up our friendship, as far as I am concerned, I must wink at the whole thing; but what I can't stand is your calling the opportunity which allows one to silence a fool, a mere disease."
The crisis was not long in coming. The next morning before Wilhelm went out, a lieutenant of one of the Uhlan regiments stationed at Potsdam called, and said he had come with a challenge from Herr von Pechlar; he declined to sit down, giving his message as shortly as possible, with the least suspicion of contempt in his voice.
Herr von Pechlar had waited the whole afternoon; but as Herr Eynhardt had sent him no message, he could no longer put off demanding satisfaction. The questions as to who was the offender, and what weapons should be used, might now be decided by the seconds. Wilhelm looked calmly into the officer's eyes, and explained that he had nothing further to do with Herr von Pechlar.
"You are an officer in the Reserve?" asked the lieutenant haughtily.
"I hope you understand that we shall bring the case before the notice of the regiment?"
"You are perfectly free to do so."
The lieutenant stuck his eyeglass into his right eye, looked hard at Wilhelm for several seconds, then, with an expression of deep disgust, he spat on the floor, noisily turned round, and without a word or sign, retired, his sword and spurs clanking as he went.
Oh, how hard it was to overcome the instinct of the wild beast! How furiously it tugged at its chain! How it tried to spring after the lieutenant, and clutch his throat in its claws!—but Wilhelm conquered the new cravings of his instinct and stood still. He experienced a great self-contentment at last, and admitted to himself that he would not have been nearly so glad if he had wounded a dozen of the enemy in single combat.
Three days later he received in writing, an order to present himself at eleven o'clock the morning but one following to the Commandant of the 61st Regiment. He took the journey the following evening, and at the appointed hour he was shown into the commandant's private room, where he found also his old captain, raised to the rank of major. He spoke kindly to Wilhelm and held out his hand, while the commandant contented himself with a nod, and a sign to be seated.
"I suppose you know that you have been ordered to come here about the affair with Lieutenant von Pechlar?" he said.
"Will you relate what occurred?"
Wilhelm answered as he was desired. His recital was followed by a short silence, during which the commandant and the major exchanged glances.
"And you will not fight?" asked the first.
"Because my principles do not allow me."
The commandant looked at the major again and then at Wilhelm, and went on
"If I take the trouble to discuss the matter with you quite unofficially, you have to thank the major, who has spoken warmly in your favor."
Wilhelm thanked the major by a bow.
"We know that you are not a coward. You showed great bravery on the battlefield. It is because of that, I feel sorry. You are a faddist, you proved that by your refusal of the Iron Cross, which is the pride of every other German soldier. We are not willing to condemn a mode of procedure, the meaning of which you evidently do not understand, and which all your views of life tend to destroy. I am not speaking now as your superior officer, but as a man—as your father might speak to you. Believe what I say. Fulfill your duty as a man of honor."
"I cannot follow your advice," answered Wilhelm gentle, but firmly.
He was painfully conscious that his answer sounded more roughly and harshly than he intended, but he knew it was impossible to go into a long philosophical discussion, kind and well-meaning as the commandant was.
"We have more than fulfilled our promise, major," said the commandant, and turning to Wilhelm, "Thank you, Herr—"
The major looked out of the window, and Wilhelm had to go without being able to thank him by a look. He felt, however, that this time things had been easier for him to bear, and that the only painful feeling he had experienced during the interview was the vexation he was giving the major.
The Militar Wochenblatt published a short account of his discharge. It made no personal impression on him, but he felt that he was branded in the eyes of others. It, however, seemed to draw Paul Haber nearer to him. He avoided talking on the subject, but every one noticed the quiet way in which he behaved to Wilhelm, his little attentions, his long and frequent visits, as if he were under the impression that he must console his friend in this great misfortune, and stand by him as firmly as possible. Wilhelm knew him as he did himself—how cautious and practically clever he was, and how dangerous it was for him in his own position as Reserve officer to keep up this confidential intercourse with one who had been turned from a hero to a judicially dismissed officer, how perilous for the connection he had with celebrated and influential people, and for the appearance he must keep up in society. Wilhelm valued and appreciated all Paul's heroism in remaining so true and stanch to him, he did not ask for these things, but they were freely given by one who ran the risk of becoming poor, so he was deeply grateful to him.
He considered himself under an obligation to go once more to the Ellrichs', to formally take leave of them; but when he rang at their door he was told that the family had gone away to Heringsdorf. As this had occurred, Paul did not think it necessary to tell his friend what he had heard through Fraulein Marker, namely, that the Ellrichs were very angry about the affair of the duel, and had given orders before they went away that Wilhelm was not to be admitted if he called. Wilhelm now wrote to Loulou (he had avoided doing so earlier), a short, dignified letter, in which he begged her forgiveness for having been so long in finding out the state of his feelings, as the struggle had been hard and painful, but he could now no longer conceal the fact that their characters were not sufficiently in harmony to insure happiness together for a lifetime. He thanked her for the happiest week in his life, and for the deepest and sweetest feelings he had ever experienced, and which would always remain the dearest memory of his life. His photograph was shortly afterward sent back to him, from Ostend; but his letter remained unanswered. He did not learn therefore, that it had made an exceedingly bad impression, and that Frau Ellrich had only been restrained with difficulty by her daughter from writing to tell him how impertinent she thought it of him to appear to take the initiative, when her daughter had first refused to receive him. Herr von Pechlar obtained a long leave, which he spent at Heringsdorf. In September the Kreuzzeitung announced his betrothal to Fraulein Ellrich, which was followed in the winter by their brilliant wedding.
The breaking of Wilhelm's relations with Loulou left a great blank in his life. Up till now he had had in pleasant, hopeful hours, an object to which all the paths in his life led him, to which his thoughts were drawn as a ship steers for a distant yet secure harbor; now the object was gone, and when he looked forward to his future it seemed like the gray surface of the sea at dusk, formless, limitless, without meaning or interest. Even the painful doubt he had been in, his hesitation between the resolve to persevere in the engagement, or to renounce it, the fight between his intelligence and his inclinations, had become familiar to him, and had filled his thoughts by day and his dreams by night. These must now all be renounced. If for the last half-year his love had been only a quiet happiness, or a hardly-defined desire, it was at any rate an occupation for his mind, and he missed the employment very greatly.
He became quieter than ever; his face lost its youthful, healthy color, and he appeared like the typical lover famed in classic story. But his friends did not laugh at him; they bore with him, treated him gently, as if he had been a disappointed girl. Paul, who was filling the place of an invalided professor of agricultural chemistry, and working hard after the college term began, found time to come every day for a long walk in the Thiergarten, and resigned himself to long philosophical discussions which so far had not been at all to his taste. Dr. Schrotter seldom had any spare time during the day; but Wilhelm always took tea with him in the evenings.
Did Bhani know anything of his story?
Had her womanly instinct guessed that his careworn, melancholy expression betrayed an unhappy love story—a subject so sympathetic to women? Anyhow she anticipated every means of serving him, and her glance betrayed an almost shamefaced sympathy.
One November evening they were sitting at the little drum-shaped table in the Indian drawing-room; the teaurn steaming, and Bhani standing near, ready to obey her master's slightest wish. Schrotter touched on the wound in Wilhelm's heart hitherto so tenderly avoided.
"My friend," he said, "it is time that you came to yourself. It is obvious that you are still grieving, instead of fighting against your dreams; you give way to them without a struggle."
Wilhelm hung his head. "You are right. It is foolish; for I see that I do not love the girl deeply enough to spoil my life."
"Come now. You were more in love than you thought; but it is always so; even in pure and passionless natures human nature is very strong, and the first young and pretty girl who comes near enough to you brings out all the dormant feelings, and reason disappears. People often do the maddest things in this period of unrest, which they repent all their after life. I have always mistrusted a first love. One must be quite satisfied that it is for an individual, and not merely the natural inclination for the other sex asserting itself. Your first love, my poor Eynhardt, certainly belongs to this class. Your youthful asceticism has had its revenge; now that your reason has got hold of the reins again, the rebellion of your instinct will soon be subdued."
"I hope so," said Wilhelm.
"I am sure of it. There is no doubt about the end of crises like these, and it really is difficult to take the misery they cause seriously, although it is bad enough while it lasts. It is the most overpowering and yet the least dangerous of diseases. The patient gives himself up for lost, and the doctor can hardly help smiling, because he knows that the malady will only run its course, and will stop like a clock at its appointed time. He can, however, hasten the cure, if he can bring the patient to his own conviction."
He was silent, and seemed sunk in thought. Then he began again suddenly: "I will read you a story about this; nothing is more instructive than a clinical picture."
Bhani sprang to her feet and hastened toward him, but he put her aside with a word, and going into his study he appeared again bearing a folio bound in leather and with the corners fastened with copper.
"This is my diary," he said. "I have had the weakness to keep this since I was sixteen. There are three volumes already, and I began the fourth when I returned to Germany. Listen now, and don't put yourself under any constraint. I will laugh with you."
He opened the folio, and after a short search began to read. It was the romance of his early life, written in the form of a diary, simply told at some length. Quite an ordinary story of an acquaintanceship made with a pretty girl, the daughter of a bookseller, who sat next to him in a theater. Meetings out of doors, then the introduction to her parents' house, and then the betrothal. The Revolution of 1848 broke out, and the many demands on the young doctor turned his thoughts away for the time from plans of marriage. His fiancee greatly admired the fiery orator and fighter at barricades, and told him so, in enthusiastic speeches and letters. The father, however, had no sympathy with reactionaries, and soon conceived a violent antipathy for his future single-minded son-in-law. As long as the democratic party held the upperhand, he kept his feelings in the background, making nevertheless endless pretexts for delaying the marriage. The party of reactionaries broke up, however, and the bookseller declared war; he forbade the young democrat to enter his house, and even denounced him to the police. The young lovers were, of course, dreadfully unhappy, and vowed to be true to one another. He determined to go away, and tried to persuade her to go with him. She was frightened, but he was audacious and insisted. They would go to London, and be married there; he could earn his living, and they would defy the father's curse. All was arranged; but at the last moment her courage failed, and she confessed all to the tyrant, who set the police on the young man's track, and sent the girl away to relations in Brandenburg. The unfortunate lover's letters were unanswered. He left Germany, and heard after some weeks that his betrothed was married to a well-to-do jeweler, apparently without any great coercion.
This story was disentangled from letters, conversations, accounts of opinions in the form of monologues, interviews, visits, and descriptions of sea-voyages; all sufficiently commonplace. But what excitement these daily effusions showed! What boundless happiness about kisses, what cries of anguish when the storm broke! Would it not be better to commit suicide and die together? Was it possible that this quiet man with his apathetic calm could ever have been through these stormy times? It did not seem credible, and Schrotter seemed conscious of the immense difference between the man who had written the book and the man who now read it. His voice had a slightly ironical sound, and he parodied some of the scenes in reading them, by exaggerating the pathos. But this could not last long. The real feeling which sighed and sobbed between the pages made itself felt, and carried him back from the cold present to the storm-heated past; he became interested, then grave, and if he had not suddenly shut the book with a bang when he came to the place where his faithless love was married, who knows—
At all events, Wilhelm had not smiled once; his eyes even showed signs of tears. Schrotter took the book into the other room, and when he came back every trace of emotion in look and manner had vanished.
"So you see," he began, "a sensible boy like I am has behaved like an ass in the past. But I did not shoot myself after all, that was so far good, and I am ashamed to tell you how soon I got over it. I often go past her shop in Unter den Linden, and see her through the window beyond all her brilliants and precious stones. She is still very pretty, and seems happy, much happier no doubt than if she had been with me. She would certainly not recognize me now, and I can look at her and my heart beats no whit the faster. Dwell on my example."
"I am not sure that you are not slandering yourself."
"You can feel easy about that," said Schrotter earnestly. "The disenchantment was quick and complete, and very naturally so. Just get Schopenhauer's 'objectivity' out of your head; I don't believe in Plato's theory of the soul divided into two halves which are forever trying to join again. Every sane man has ten thousand objects which are able to awaken and return his love. All he has to do is not to go out of their way."
"Ought not there to be an individual one?"
"I venture to say no. The story of the pine trees of Ritter Toggenburg, which love the palm trees, is the creation of a sentimental poet. Lawgivers in India to all appearance believe in faithfulness unto death; and the widow or even the betrothed follows her husband to the grave of her own free will. This free-will offering only comes, however, by aid of the sharpest threatening of punishment. I have known fourteen-year-old widows who offered themselves miserably to be burned. If they had known how soon they would be consoled, and new love sprang up, they would have violently resisted such suicide! Bhani there is a living example of this,"
As she heard her name she looked up, and Wilhelm intercepted a look between her and Dr. Schrotter, which all at once made clear to him what he had vaguely suspected before. He turned his head sadly toward the window, and looked out into the foggy autumn evening. He felt almost as if he had committed a crime, in having discovered a secret which had not been freely revealed to him.
A LAY SERMON.
"Es ist eine Lust, in deiser Zeit zu leben!" cried Paul Habor, as he walked with Wilhelm and Dr. Schrotter on the first sunny day the following April. They walked under the lindens full of leaf through the Thiergarten, and home over the Charlottenburger Brucke.
The spirit in which he uttered Hutten's words was at that time dominant and far-reaching. It seemed as though people were all enjoying the honeymoon of the new empire; that they breathed peace and the joy of life with the air, as if the whole nation inhaled the pleasure of living, the joy of youth and brave deeds, and that they stood at the entrance of an incomprehensibly great era, promising to everyone fabulous heights of happiness.
A sort of feverish growth had sprung up in Berlin, an excitement and ferment which filled the villas in the west end, and the poor lodging-houses of the other end of the town: was found too in councilors' drawing-rooms, and in suburban taverns. New streets seemed to spring up during the night. Where the hoe and rake of kitchen-gardens were at work yesterday, to-day was the noise of hammers and saws, and in the middle of the open fields hundreds of houses raised their walls and roofs to the sky. It seemed as if the increasing town expected between to-day and to-morrow a hundred thousand new inhabitants, and were forced to build houses in breathless haste to shelter them.
And as a matter of fact the expected throng arrived. Even in the most distant provinces a curious but powerful attraction drew people to the capital; artisans and cottages, village shopkeepers, and merchants from small towns, all rushed there like the inflowing tide. It made one think of a number of moths blindly fluttering round a candle, or of the magnetic rock of Eastern fairy tales, irresistibly attracting ships to wreck themselves. It recalled to one the stories of California at the time of the gold fever. People's excited imaginations saw a veritable gold-mine in Berlin. The French indemnity flew to people's heads like champagne, and in a kind of drunken frenzy every one imagined himself a millionaire. Some had even seen exhibited a reproduction of the hidden treasure. The great heap of glittering pieces was certainly there, a tempting reality, piled up mountains high, millions on millions, craftily arranged to glitter in the flaring gas-light before their covetous eyes. The real treasure must be at least as substantial as its counterfeit. People began to see gold everywhere; red streaks of gold shone through the window-panes, instead of the warm spring sun; they heard murmuring chinking streams of gold flowing behind the walls of their houses, under the pavements of the streets, and every one hastened to fill their hands, and thirsted for their share in the subterranean gold whose stream was concealed from their eyes. While their lips were being moistened by the stream of gold, they were, as a matter of fact, drinking the transformed flesh and blood of the heroes who had sacrificed themselves on the French battlefields, and in this infamous travesty of the Christian mystery of the Lord's Supper the devil himself took part and possession of them. They followed new customs, new views of life, other ideals. The motto of their noisy and obtrusive life seemed to be, "Get rich as quickly and with as little trouble as possible, and make as much as possible of your riches when you have secured them, even by illegitimate means." So the splendid houses rose up in an overloaded gaudy irregular style of architecture, and the smart carriages with india-rubber tires rolled by, yielding soft and soothing riding to their occupants.
Berlin, the sober economical town, the home of honorable families, extolled for respectability almost to affectation, now learned the disorderly ways of noisy cafes, the luxury of champagne suppers, in over-decorated restaurants, became intimately acquainted with the theaters—gaining doubtful introductions to expensive mistresses. Mere upstarts set the fashion in dress, in extravagance, and all who would be elegant, followed, leading the way to barbaric vices. The old-established inhabitants were many of them weak or silly enough to try to outdo the newcomers, and degraded the quiet dignity of their patriarchal manner of life by speculations on the Stock Exchange. The intelligent middle classes, whose eyes and ears were filled with this bluster of the gold-orgy, found that their former way of living had now grown uncomfortable, their houses were too small, their bread too dry, their beer too common and their views of life began to climb upward in a measure which, whether they were willing or equal in talent to it, forced from them harder work and more dogged perseverance. Political economists and statisticians were drawn into excitement by their knowledge of figures. They extolled the sudden crisis in the money market, the easy returns, the great development of consumption in goods. They quoted triumphantly the amount of importations, the great increase in silk, artistic furniture, glass, jewelry, valuable wines, spices, liqueurs, was called a splendid development of trade; wonderful evidence of the prosperity of all classes, and an elevation of the manner of life of the German people. And if moralists failed to see in these heated desires and idle display, the presence of progress and blessing, they were called limited Philistines, who were too feeble-minded to recognize the signs of the times.
The position of the workingman profited by the new condition of things. Berlin seemed insatiable in her demands for able-bodied workmen. Hundreds and thousands left the fields and the woods, and taking their strong arms to the labor market of the capital, found employment in the factories and the workshops; and the mighty engines still beat, sucking in as it were the stream of people from the country. Berlin itself could not contain this influx. The newcomers were obliged gypsy fashion to put up as best they could in the neighborhood. In holes and caves on the heaths and commons, in huts made of brushwood, they bivouacked for months, and these men who lived like prairie dogs in such apparent misery were merry over their houseless, wild existence. As a matter of fact they experienced no actual want, as there was work for every one who could and would labor. The rewards were splendid, and the proletariat found that its only possession, viz., the strength of its muscles, was worth more than ever before. The workingman talked loudly, and held his head high. Was it the result of having served in one or more campaigns? Had he in the background of his mind a vision of dying men and desolate villages, seen so often on the battlefield? However it was, he became violent and quarrelsome, indifferent alike to wounding and death, and learned to make use of the knife like any cutthroat townsman.
With this return to barbarism (an unfailing result with the soldier after every time of war) went a degree of animal spirits, which made one ask whether the workman had learned something of epicurean philosophy. He had the same excited love of tattling as a thoughtless girl, and the animal love of enjoyment of a sailor after a long voyage. His ordinary life seemed to him so uninteresting, so dull, that he tried to give color and charm to it by taking as many holidays as possible, and making his work more agreeable with gambling and drinking, and going for loafing excursions about the neighborhood. Visits to wine and beer-houses and dancing-rooms were endlessly multiplied, and everything had the golden foundation which the proverb of an age of simplicity hardly attributed to honorable handicraft. Profits were squandered in drink; life was a rush and a riot without end.
But curiously, in the same degree in which the opportunities of work were increased and wages became higher, life everywhere easier, and the ordinary enjoyments greater; just so did the workman grow discontented. Desires increased with their gratification, and envy measured its own prosperity by the side of the luxury of the nouveaux riches.
The hand which never before had held so much money, now learned to clinch itself in hatred against the owner of property, the company promoter; against all in fact who were not of the proletariat. The Social Democrat had sprung up ten years before from the circle of the intelligent political economists and philosophers of the artisan classes. Since the war they numbered thousands and ten of thousands, and now began to grow and widen like a moorland fire, at first hardly perceptible, then betraying through the puff of smoke the fire creeping along the ground; then a thousand tongues of flame leap upward, and suddenly sooner or later the whole heath is in a blaze. Innumerable apostles preaching their turbid doctrines in all the factories and workshops, found hearers who were discontented and easily carried away. The social democracy of the workmen was neither a political nor economical programme which appealed to the intellect, or could be proved or argued about, but rather an instinct in which religious mysticism, good and bad impulses, needs, emotional desires were wonderfully mingled. The men were filled with enmity against those who had a large share of money; the new faith dogmatically explained possession of property as a crime—that it was meritorious to hate the possessor and necessary to destroy him. They were made discontented with their limited destiny by the sight of the world and its treasures; the new faith promised them a future paradise in the shape of an equal division of goods—a paradise in which the hand was permitted to take whatever the eye desired. They were disgusted by the consciousness of their deformity and roughness, which dragged them down to the lowest rank in the midst of school learning if not exactly knowledge; of good manners if not good breeding; the new faith raised them in their own eyes, declaring that they were the salt of the earth, that they alone were useful and important parts of humanity; all others who did not labor with their hands being miserable and contemptible sponges on humanity.
The whole proletariat was soon converted to Social Democracy. Berlin was covered with a network of societies, which became the places of worship of the new faith. Handbills, pamphlets, newspapers, partly polemical, partly literary, in which the mob made their statements and professed their faith stoutly; these, although written very badly, yet by their monotony, their angry reproaches, their invocations, reminded one of litanies and psalms.
Wilhelm felt a certain sympathy with the movement. It was first brought to his notice by a new acquaintance, who had worked with him in the physical laboratory since the beginning of the year. He was a Russian, who had introduced himself to the pupils in the laboratory as Dr. Barinskoi from Charkow. His appearance and, behavior hardly bore this out. His long thin figure was loosely joined to thin weak legs. Light blue eyes looked keenly out of a warm grayish-yellow face; add to these a sharp reddish nose, pale lips, a spare, badly grown mustache and beard of a dirty color, and slight baldness. His demeanor was suave and very submissive, his voice had the faltering persuasiveness which a natural and reasonable man dislikes, because it warns him that the speaker is lying in wait to take him by surprise. Barinskoi, beside, never stood upright when he was speaking to any one. He bent his back, his head hung forward, his eyes shifted their glance from the points of his own boots to other people's, his face was crumpled up into a smiling mask, and working his hands about nervously he crammed so many polite phrases and compliments into his conversation that he was a terrible bore to all his acquaintances. Barinskoi, who was an accomplished spy, intended by his entrance into the laboratory to learn all he could in a circuitous way of persons and conditions.
After a short observation he noticed that Wilhelm seemed isolated in the midst of the others, and was treated coldly by every one except the professor. He learned that this coolness of the atmosphere was on account of the refusal of the duel. After that he tried every possible means to get nearer to him. Wilhelm was working in some important researches, and it was possible that the results would destroy some existing theories.
The professor followed the experiments with great attention, and many times spoke of him as his best pupil in difficult work. That was Barinskoi's excuse for asking Wilhelm if he would initiate him into his work, and explain to him his hypotheses and methods. He added, with his submissive smile and nervous rubbing of the hands, that the Heir Doctor might be quite easy about the priority of his discoveries, as he was quite prepared to write an explanation that he stood in the position of pupil to the Heir Doctor, and had only a share in his discoveries in common with others. Wilhelm contented himself by replying that priority was nothing to him, and that he did not work for fame, but because he was ignorant and sought for knowledge.
Thereupon Barinskoi said he was very happy to have found some one with the same views as himself, he also thought that fame was nonsense, that knowledge was the only essential thing, that it gave power over things and men, that the ideal was to proceed unknown and unnoticed through life, making the others dance without knowing who played on the instrument. That was not what Wilhelm meant, but he let it go without denying it. Barinskoi also tried to claim him for a fellow-countryman, but Wilhelm stopped him, explaining that he was a German, although born beyond the frontier of his fatherland. This slight did not disconcert Barinskoi; he endeavored to produce an impression on Wilhelm, and if one shut one's eyes to his ugliness and fawning ways he was a well-informed man; harshness was not in Wilhelm's nature, so he held out no longer against Barinskoi's importunity—who very soon accompanied him home from the laboratory, visited him uninvited in his rooms, invited him to supper at his restaurant, which Wilhelm twice declined, the third time, however, he had not the courage to refuse. In spite of this Barinskoi would not see that his invitation was only accepted out of politeness. There were many things reserved and unsociable about Barinskoi; for example, he never invited any one to his rooms. He called for his letters at the post office. The address he gave, and under which he was entered at the University office, described him as a newspaper correspondent, which agreed with his daily readings and writings. He frequently disappeared for two or three days, after which he emerged again, as it were, dirtier than before, with reddened, half-closed eyelids, weak voice, and general bloodless appearance. A conjecture as to where he was during this time was suggested by a smell of spirits, beside the fact that students from the laboratory had often seen him late at night at the corner of the Leipziger and Friedrichstrasse in earnest consultation with some unhappy creature of the streets, and that he was often seen haunting remote streets in the eastern districts in the company of women.
Barinskoi declared he was the correspondent of a large St. Petersburg paper, and that he made great efforts to remove the prejudices of Russia against Germany, and to give his readers a respect for their great neighbors. By chance one day Wilhelm read the page of Berlin correspondence, and found that from first to last it was full of poisoned abuse, insult, and calumination of Berlin and its inhabitants. At the next opportunity he put it before Barinskoi's eyes without a word. He started a little, but said directly, quite calmly: Yes, he had read the letter too; naturally it was not by him; the paper had other correspondents, who hated Germans, he could do no more than put a stop to their lies, and find out the reality of their misrepresentations.
Early in this short acquaintance it was clear that Barinskoi was in constant money difficulties. By his own representations the paper paid him very irregularly, and the most curious accidents constantly occurred to prevent the arrival of the expected payments. Once the money was sent by mistake to the Constantinople correspondent, and it was six weeks before the oversight was cleared up. Another time a fellow-writer who was traveling to Berlin undertook to bring the money with him. On the way he lost the money out of his pocket-book, and Barinskoi had to wait until he went back to St. Petersburg, to inquire into the case. By such fool's stories was Wilhelm's friendship put to the proof. Barinskoi did not stop at borrowing money occasionally, with sighs and groans, but every few days, often at a few hours' interval, a new and larger loan would frequently follow.
All this was a dubious method of consolation, and yet Dr. Schrotter, or rather Paul Haber, decided that though further contact with Barinskoi must be avoided, he was an object of increasing interest to Wilhelm. Barinskoi had many ideas in sympathy with his, which he did not find in others, and their views of society and practical maxims of life were so much in common that Wilhelm was often puzzled by this question: "How is it possible that people can draw such completely different conclusions from the same suppositions by the same logical arguments? Where is the fatal point where one's ideas separate—ideas which have so far traveled together?"
Barinskoi thought as Wilhelm did, that the world and its machinery were mere outward phenomena, a deception of the senses, whose influence acted as in a delirium. All existing forms of the common life of humanity, all ordinances of the State or society appeared to him as foolish or criminal, and at any rate objectionable. He considered that the object of the spiritual and moral development of the individual was the deliverance from the restraint, and the complete contempt of all outward authority.
So far his opinions agreed with Wilhelm's, and then he disclosed the laws of morality which he had evolved from them.
"The whole world is only an outward phenomenon, and the only reality is my own consciousness," said Barinskoi; "therefore I see in the would only myself, live only for myself, and try only to please myself, I am an extreme individualist. My morality allows me to gratify my senses by pleasant impressions, to convey to my consciousness pleasant representations, so as to enjoy as much as possible. Enjoyment is the only object of my existence, and to destroy all those who come in the way of it is my right."
Wilhelm wondered whether this frightful code could possibly belong to the same views of life which, in despising the enjoyment of the senses, denied desires, demanded the sacrifice of individuality for the sake of others, and found happiness in the enjoyment of love for one's neighbors, and in the struggle for human reason over animal instinct?
Barinskoi understood Wilhelm's character and saw that he could quite safely trust to his forbearance and his single-mindedness, so he made no further secret of the fact that he was a Nihilist and an Anarchist. When Wilhelm asked him if he imagined what the realization of his theories meant, he had the answer ready.
"We demand unconditional freedom. Our will shall not be confined by the will of others, or by oppressive laws. The Parliament is our enemy as well as the monarch, the tyranny of the autocrat as well as that of the majority, the coercion of laws of the State, as well as those of society. We will gather together groups according to their free choice and inclination out of the fragments of annihilated society, that is, if we can manage to procure our enjoyment as well in groups as alone. These groups will unite into larger groups if the happiness of all demands a larger undertaking than a single group can secure, such as a great railway, a submarine tunnel, and the like. In some cases it may be necessary that a whole people, or even the whole of humanity, should be in one group, but only up to a certain point, and only until this point is reached. Naturally no individual is bound to a group, nor one group to another; binding and loosing go on perpetually, and with the same facility as molecules in living organisms unite and separate."
Barinskoi occupied himself particularly with the labor questions. Not that the distress and want of the very poor, the economical insecurity, the general misery, troubled him at all. He was cynically conscious that he was as indifferent to the laborer as to the capitalist; the laborer's inevitable brutalization, his hunger, his bad health, and short term of life touched him as little as the gout of the rich gourmand, or the nerves of fine ladies. He saw, however, in the proletariat a powerful army against prevailing conditions. He could trace among the discontented masses the possession of the crude vigor which the Nihilists wanted, to crush the old edifices of the State and society, and it was this which interested him in the movement and its literature. He knew the last accurately, and initiated Wilhelm into it, and so the latter learned all about socialism, its opinions of the philosophy of production, its theories and promises. He learned also that sects had already been formed within this new faith, which the revelations of the socialistic prophets explained differently; and that they furiously hated each other, and were as much at enmity as if they were a State Church with a privileged priesthood, benefices, property and power.
The complaints of the proletariat appeared to Wilhelm of doubtful value. In every age there were economic fevers, which were not caused by misery, but by discontent and wastefulness, and if he saw a workman staggering through the streets, his legs tottering beneath him, he guessed that his weakness was not caused by hunger, but by beer or spirits. He understood that mankind believed in an unbroken work of development within nature, and in their own self-cultivation. The theory of socialistic teaching, namely, the conditions of production and distribution, could be constantly remodeled just as other human institutions, i.e. the customs of governments and societies, the laws, ideas of beauty and morality, knowledge of nature, and views of society. His sympathies went out to those who were convinced that the present economical organization had lived out its time, and were endeavoring to remove it.
Wilhelm's friends interested themselves warmly in this new sphere of thought. Paul was a member of the National Liberal Election Society, and was enthusiastic about Bennigsen and Lasker, who possessed enough statesmanlike wisdom to surrender fearlessly to the opposition, and determine to go with the government. To these present experiences Dr. Schrotter joined the half-forgotten training of '48, and agreed to belong to a society of the district; he had soon an official appointment, and placed his experience and knowledge at the disposal of the sick and poor of the town. He did not interest himself at first in political strife. He was very uneasy about the turn things were taking, and considered that it was not right to rebel against the existing conditions of things, which to the majority of people were agreeable enough.
"You have fought and bled for the new empire," he said; "I left it while I was in India to get on as best it could; if the others think themselves well off, I don't see why they should not have the satisfaction of the results of their work, just because of the sulky temper of criticism."
Wilhelm had often taken one or other of them to his society, but without their being much interested in the meetings. One day he asked his friend whether he would not go with him to a social democratic meeting. Schrotter was quite prepared, as he saw that Wilhelm was really in earnest, and was trying to come in contact with the realities of life. Paul abominated the social democrats, but he sacrificed himself to spend an hour there with Wilhelm.
The meeting they were to attend was at the Tivoli. It was a disagreeable evening in April, with gusts of wind and frequent showers. The sky was full of clouds chasing each other in endless succession, the flames of gas flickered and flared, and the streets were covered with mud which splashed up under the horses' feet. The three friends went in spite of bad weather to the Tivoli on foot. In the Belle Alliance Strasse they came upon groups of workmen going in the same direction as themselves, and as they reached the place in the Lichterfelder Strasse, they were accompanied by a long stream of people. At the entrance to the club they found themselves in the midst of a crowd, and could only advance very slowly unless, like the others, they pushed and elbowed their way. Mounting a few steps they reached an enormous garden, lighted by the fitful beams of the moon as she emerged from the clouds, and a few gaslamps. On the right was a Gothic building, which would have been sufficiently handsome if built in stone, but with barbarous taste had been executed in wood. At the end of the garden some more steps led to a broad, four-cornered courtyard, on the right of which the iron spire of the National Memorial was dimly visible, while to the left was a large building of red and yellow brick with a four-square tower at either end, a pavilion projecting from the center, and a number of large windows. Over the entrance in the center of the building was the inscription in gold letters on a blue ground:
"Gemesst im edeln Geistensaft Des Wemes Geist, des Brodes Kraft"
In the little anteroom a few sharp-looking, rather conceited young men were standing, either the instigators or organizers of the meeting. They eyed the people who came in with a quick look of assurance, offering a pamphlet, which nearly every one bought. Through this anteroom was the hall, large enough to hold a thousand people comfortably. Several tables for beer stood between red-covered pillars which supported the ceiling, and on the right was a platform for the speakers. Wilhelm, Schrotter, and Paul Haber found places not far from this, although the hall was soon filled up after they came in.
Wilhelm's first impression was not favorable. He had bought a pamphlet at the door, and in it he read foolish jokes, clumsy tirades against capitalists, and drearily silly verses. If the party possessed quick and cultivated writers, they had certainly not been employed on this leaflet. His finer senses were as shocked at the meeting as his taste was at the pamphlet. Mingled odors of tobacco-smoke, beer, human breath, and damp clothes filled the air; the people at the tables had an indescribably common stamp, unlovely manners, harsh, loud voices, and unattractive faces. They gossiped and laughed noisily, and coarse expressions were frequent. The earnest moral tone, the almost gloomy melancholy which Wilhelm had found so attractive in socialistic writings, was absent, and it seemed to him as if the new doctrine in its removal from the enthusiast's study to the beer-tables of the crowd had lost all nobility, and had sunk to degradation.
Paul took no trouble to conceal the disgust which "this dirty rabble" gave him. He gazed contemptuously about him, and every time that one of his neighbors' elbows came near his coat he brushed the place angrily, and muttered half-aloud:
"Well, if I were the government I would jolly soon stop your meetings."
Dr. Schrotter, on the other hand, found the sight of the crowd rekindle in him all the feeling of sentiment he had had for the old democrats; he felt his heart overflow with pity and tenderness. With his physician's eyes he pierced through the brutal physiognomies, and observed them with kindness and sympathy, making his friends attentive too.
"One of the martyrs of work," he said gently, indicating a haggard man sitting at the next table who had lost one eye.
"How do you know that?"
"He must be a worker in metal, and has had a splinter in one of his eyes. He had the injured eye removed to save the other."
Here was a baker with pale face and inflamed eyelids, coughing badly—consumptive, in consequence of the dust from the flour—his eyes affected by the heat of the oven. Here was a man who had lost a finger of his left hand—the victim of a cloth loom; and here a pallid-looking man, showing when he spoke or laughed slate-colored gums—a case of lead-poisoning, with a painful death as the inevitable result. And it seemed as if over all these cripples and sickly people the Genius of Work hovered as the black angel of Eastern stories, tracing on their foreheads with his brush—on this one mutilation, on this one an early death. Schrotter's observations and explanations placed the whole meeting in a different light to Wilhelm. The coarseness of the men, even the dirt on their hands and faces, touched him like a reproach, and in their jokes and laughter he seemed to hear a bitter cry.
A reproach, a complaint against whom? Against the capitalists, or against inexorable fate? Wilhelm asked himself whether the conditions of labor were attributable to men, or were not the result of cruel necessity? Could the capitalist be responsible for the accidents of machines, the dust from flour, the splitting of iron? If these workmen had not been one-eyed or consumptive could they have performed their work for the commonweal? Was it not true that if mankind would not renounce its claims to bread and other necessities, it must pay for the satisfaction of wants with the tribute of health and life? that every comfort, every pleasure added to existence was paid for by human sacrifice? that the masks of tragedy worn at this meeting were merely the corporate expressions of a law which united development and progress with pain and destruction? In this case the whole socialist programme was manifestly wrong, and the sum of the workman's grievances was not the result of the economical arrangements of society, but of the eternal conditions of civilization, that the theory of the methods of labor and their amelioration was not the expectation of an equal division of property, but rather of the contrivances of the inventor.
While Wilhelm was absorbed in these reflections the first speaker of the evening appeared on the platform, a little dapper man, restless as quicksilver, with long hair, large mouth, and a shrill voice. He opened the meeting with an extraordinary volubility, in a whirl of pantomimic gesture and excitement, violently denouncing the capitalists; "infamous bloodsuckers" as he called them. He painted hopelessly confused pictures, with constant faults of grammar—of the hard fate of the workingman, and the black treachery of the property-owning classes. They were slaveowners who paid them their daily wages by shearing the wool off their backs, and enjoyed riotous luxury themselves while the poor destitute ones were engulfed in a chasm of misery. The workman must possess the fruit of his labor himself, like the bird in the air, or the fish in the water. He who produced nothing was a parasite, and deserved to be extirpated; he was only a drag, consequently a poison for the rest of mankind. The Commune in Paris was the first signal of warning for the thieves of society. Soon the great flood would burst forth which would carry away all thieves and tyrants, usurers and bloodsuckers, and the workingmen must be united and get their weapons ready. Unity was strength, and to allow themselves to be fleeced by these hyenas of capitalism was an insult to any free, thoughtful man.
He went on in this style for about half an hour, during which time the words came out in a constant stream without a moment's pause. Schrotter's expression became sad, while Paul banged the table with his mug and cried "Bravo" at every grammatical mistake, or every false analogy. Angry glances were cast at him from neighboring tables, as in his applause was recognized contempt for the speaker whom they admired so much. No one laughed or joked, all were silent to the end; at every violent expression of the long-haired Saxon, eyes flashed, heads nodded approval, and feet stamped excitedly. So eagerly did the meeting drink in this excited orator's words that they quite forgot to drink their beer, and the waiter, bringing in a fresh supply, had to go out again with an exclamation of surprise.
When the speaker had finished and resumed his seat, Schrotter and Paul, to their immense surprise, saw Wilhelm spring to his feet in the midst of all the stamping and applause and go to the platform. What was that for? He went up and began to speak in an undertone to the organizers of the meeting. They put their heads together, looking at the card Wilhelm had given them; then one of them rose, and coming to the front of the platform, shouted so as to be heard above the clamor:
"True to our principles of listening to opponents, we are going to allow a guest to speak: it is not part of the programme, but no citizen shall have cause to complain that his mouth has been stopped."
Any one could understand what this meant, as Wilhelm stood alone in the middle of the platform and waited with folded arms for silence and attention. His dark eyes looked straight at his audience, and he began in his clear, quiet voice: "What you all feel in this meeting is discontent with your fate, and a wish to improve it. I do not believe, however, that the honored speaker before me has shown you a way which will bring you any nearer to your desires. You wish that the State shall nurse you in sickness, and provide for you in old age. What is the State? It is yourselves. The State has nothing but what you give it. If it provides for you in sickness and old age, it takes the money out of your own pockets. You do not want the State for that. In days of health and strength you could yourselves lay aside spare money for bad times without the services of gendarmes, or assistance of executors. The last speaker spoke of hatred for the owners of property, hatred of profit. Hatred is a painful feeling. It adds to the pain of existence another, and very likely a greater one. A soul in which the poison of hate is at work is heavy and sad, and can never feel happiness. If you would not burden your lives with hatred it might be possible that you would become happy."
A murmur arose in the meeting, and a voice in opposition called out loudly. "The fellow is a Jesuit." "Parson's talk," cried another from the corner of the room. Wilhelm took no notice of the interruption, but went on.
"Why do you object to the owners of property? On account of their idleness? That is not just. Many of them work much harder than all of you, and bear a weight of responsibility which would kill most of you. But suppose we grant that many rich people waste their lives doing nothing. Instead of envying these unhappy people, I pity them from the bottom of my heart. I would prefer death a thousand times to life without duty and work."
The murmur grew stronger and more threatening.
"I wish," cried Wilhelm, raising his voice, "I wish I were rich and powerful. Then I would invite those who scorn my words now, to live quite idly for a year or six months. I would take care that no employment was possible for them, that their days and weeks should be quite empty. Then they would see how soon they would raise imploring hands to those who had condemned them to idleness. Neither guards nor walls would keep them to the softly-cushioned golden-caged prison of indolence, they would fly as if for their lives, and go back to the place where their work was, which they had previously thought like hell."
"Let us see if we would," cried some with contemptuous laughter.
"In what has the rich man the advantage of you? He lives better, you say. He can procure more enjoyments for himself. Are you sure that these so-called enjoyments bring happiness? Your healthy hunger makes your bread and cheese taste better than the rich dishes at noblemen's tables, and the suffering which fills every life is more bitter in the western villa than in the workingman's back room, because there they have more leisure to endure it in, and every fiber of the soul has its own torture."
"What do you get for defending the rich man?" called a voice from the hall.
"I am telling you the penalty of property. You must be just in everything. Granted that the rich man is a criminal; granted his idleness is an offense to your activity; granted that his roast meat and wine make your potatoes taste insipid; it is in the order of things that you should envy him. But what comes out of this envy? Let us admit that you could carry through anything you undertook. The rich man would be plundered and even killed, and his treasures divided between you. We forget that the rich man is human; we deny him the mercy which the poor man claims from his fellowmen; we take up the position that to reduce a rich man to beggary is not the same injustice as to profit by the work of a poor man; we enjoy the idea of the rich man, hungry and shivering, when at the same time the hungry shivering poor man has become our pretext for robbing the other. Do you believe that you would then have improved your lot in life? Do you think that you would be any happier? Just think it over for a moment. The rich people are exterminated, their goods are divided among you; you are already making a discovery, viz., that the wealthy people are in a very small minority, hardly one in two hundred, and that the division of their whole property amounts to very little for each of you. But suppose, for the sake of argument, that you all become rich. What then? You throw away your working clothes and dress yourselves in silk; you deck yourselves with silver and gold ornaments, and you sit on soft-cushioned sofas. Think how long these luxuries would last—a month perhaps, at the most a year. Then the rich man's wine is all drunk, and his larder empty, the silk clothes are worn out, and the sofas torn; you cannot eat precious stones and gold, and if you do not mean to starve you must begin working again, and after the extermination of the rich man and the division of his property you are exactly in the position you were in before."
He paused a moment or two, in which there was silence for the first time, and then went on:
"This all means that your bondage is not laid on you by man, but by Nature herself. Life is hard and wearisome, and no laws or orders of State or society can make it otherwise. The simple minds of men understood this a thousand years ago, and they did not rest until they had found out a reason for everything, so they sought through the authors of the Jewish Bible for a reasonable explanation of our mournful destiny on this earth, and comforted themselves with the assertion that mankind was atoning for the sins of its forefathers. You, the sons of the nineteenth century, do not believe in this any longer, but see in the system of profits and the injustice of our social conditions the causes of your misery. Your explanation is, however, fully as much a fabrication as the Biblical one. Pain and death are the conditions of our existence, and for that reason cannot be done away with. If a miracle could happen, and you could all be happy in the way you wish, namely, living your life without work, without suffering, and with a great deal of enjoyment, what would happen then? The race would increase so fast that after one or two generations there would hardly be elbow-room, and bread would be as scarce as it is now. It is the difficulty of providing for children which limits the population, and this difficulty fixes the limit. Understand this too, do what you will, you can only procure momentary relief, and every relief procured means an increase of population. Whatever your methods of labor are, however the fruits of it are distributed, you will never produce up to the satisfaction of your wants; and the sweat of your brow will always be in vain if you set yourself against the hostile forces of nature."
Wilhelm paused a moment in the deep stillness which now reigned in the hall, and then went on:
"I do not deny that your lives are troublesome and hard, but I believe that you make your pain unnecessarily difficult to bear, and add to it by imagination. You feel your lot to be hard because you see rich people, who in the distance appear to you to be happy. I have already told you that the rich are an exception, and that the world cannot guarantee the existence of a millionaire of to-day for long. At most you can make the few rich men poor, but you cannot make all the poor men rich. But why compare yourselves with such people? Why not with those who have gone before us? Look back, and you will find that your lives are not only easier but very much richer than the generations who have gone before you. The poorest among you live better, quieter, and pleasanter lives than a well-to-do man a thousand years ago, or than a prince of primitive times. You complain that your labor is hard and unhealthy? You live longer, in better health, and freer from anxiety than the huntsman, fisherman, or warrior of the barbarous ages. What you most suffer from is your hatred, not your need, your ambitions, your envy. Men can live healthily and happily on water, but you will have beer and brandy. You earn enough to buy meat and vegetables, but you will have tobacco for yourselves and finery for your wives, and that cannot go on. Your daily bread might taste well enough, but it becomes bitter in your mouths when you think of the millionaire's roast meat. Struggle then against this envy which spoils the smallest enjoyments for you, and which in point of fact rules your lives, and do not try to find happiness in the satisfaction of requirements artificially created. Do not live for the satisfaction of your palates, but rather for the improvement of intellect and feeling. There is enough pain and misery in the world, do not add hatred to it. Have the same mercy for other creatures which you expect for yourself. Trouble and danger are common to all. Things are only bearable if all combine to pull together, if the strong join hands with the weak and the hopeful with the timid. You will not be healed by envy and hatred, or by the goading on of your desires, but by love, by forbearance, by self-sacrifice, and renunciation."
This closing sentence was not to his hearers' taste. Disapprobation and ominous sounds greeted him as he came down from the platform. "Amen," said one scornfully; "A Psalm," said another; "Get thee to a nunnery, Ophelia," cried a wit; while loud cries of "Turn him out," were heard. "Pearls before swine," muttered Paul; while Schrotter pressed his hand and said: "You are right."
The noise grew louder, and then a new speaker appeared on the platform, this time evidently a cultivated, thoughtful man and an adroit speaker. The organizers of the evening were unwilling to allow the meeting to retain the impression of Wilhelm's speech, and had placed a clever opponent to follow him, who said clearly and concisely that the speaker before him might be a friend of mankind, but he was certainly an enemy of culture, because the progress of civilization was always the result of new requirements and the seeking of their fulfillment, and if men limited their wants or denied them altogether, mankind would be brought back to the condition of savages or wild beasts. The progress of culture depended on the awakening of requirements and their satisfaction, and not in limiting or renouncing them. The love of mankind might be a very beautiful thing, but the speaker ought not to come and preach to the poor, who held together and helped each other without his advice. Let him go and preach to the rich, for whom he seemed to feel so much pity and tenderness. Why should the minority attract to itself the existing means of life, and leave the majority to starve, as the capitalists did now? why should the provisions not be divided between all, so that the whole community should have a part?
Paul had wished to leave when Wilhelm had finished, but the latter waited out of politeness to hear his opponent speak, and when the speaker had ended in a storm of applause, the three friends left the meeting. When they were outside, Dr. Schrotter said to Wilhelm:
"Do you know that you are a first-rate speaker? You have everything that is necessary for moving a crowd in the highest degree."
"Hardly that, I think."
"Certainly, I mean it: a noble appearance, a voice which goes to the heart, remarkable calmness and assurance, uncommon command of language, and an idealistic earnestness which would move all the better spirits among your audience. You have shown us to-night the road you ought to take. You must devote your gift to speaking in public, you must endeavor to become a deputy. If you fail in this, you will sin against our people."
"Bravo! I had already thought of that," cried Paul.
"A deputy—never," said Wilhelm. "If I spoke well to-day it was because I was sorry for the poor, ignorant men who listened to the silly talk of a fool as if it were a revelation from Mount Sinai, but I could never presume to have any influence in Parliament or in the fate of governments."
"And so you call what is every citizen's duty 'presumption,'"
"Forgive me, doctor, if I say I do not believe that. Only those who are acquainted with the laws and their development should have anything to do with the nation's destiny. But only a few isolated individuals know these laws, and I am not one of them."
"Do you think that the government know them?"
"And yet the government does not hesitate to rule the people's destiny according to their intelligence."
"It reminds me of the poet's expression, 'Du glaubst zu schieben und du wirst geschoben.'"
"What is the movement that you mean?"
"An unknown inner organic force which defines all the expressions of life, of single individuals and united societies alike. It develops as a tree grows. No single individual can add anything to it or take away from it, no single individual can hasten or retard the development or give it any direction."
"In one word—the philosophy of the Unknown."
"That is so."
"Very good, and if a government oppresses a people, robs them of their freedom, perpetually finds fault with them and ill-treats them, they must bear it quietly, and comfort themselves by the thought that the government is controlled by the infallible, all-powerful Unknown."
"Rob them of their freedom? No government can rob me of my spiritual freedom. Freedom rules continually in my mind, and no tyrant has the power of subduing my thoughts."
"You make a great mistake there," said Dr. Schrotter gravely. "From you, Dr. Wilhelm Eyuhardt, no gendarme certainly can take away your freedom, because you are mature, and your opinions of things are settled. But a tyrannical government can hinder your children from succeeding to your freedom of mind. It can teach lies and superstitions in the schools, and compel you to send your children there. It can set an example of public morality which can demoralize a whole people. It can draw up manifest examples of miserable intentions and conduct of life, through whose imitation a people voluntarily mutilates itself or commits suicide. No, no; it does not do to limit oneself to oneself, and to struggle upward for one's individual spiritual freedom. One must go out of oneself. What does it matter if one makes mistakes? It is true, as you say, that no single individual knows the whole of truth; but every individual possesss a fragment of it, and altogether we have the whole. Look at India, there you have existing what we should become if we all followed your philosophy, they live in their own spiritual world, and are indifferent to any other, they endure first the despotism of their own government, then a foreign conqueror, and finally lose not only freedom and independence, but civilization, and become not exactly slaves, but ignorant, superstitious barbarians."
"The German people will not get to that," said Wilhelm, smiling.
"Thank the men for that," cried Schrotter, "the men who think it their duty to take part in the welfare of their country, and to exert themselves for the spiritual freedom of others. An energetic sympathy with public affairs is a form of love for one's neighbor. Say that constantly to yourself, without letting yourself be deceived by the hypocrite who handles politics as others do the Stock Exchange, merely to make profit out of them."
While they talked they had arrived at Schrotter's house door. It was nearly midnight, and had stopped raining, and all the houses except Schrotter's were dark. Light shone from the two windows of his Indian drawing room, and one of the curtains was drawn aside a little, leaving a face clearly visible. It was Bhani, who was waiting patiently for Schrotter's return, and gazing eagerly down the street. As the three friends stopped at the door the head disappeared, and the curtain fell back again into its place.
The feverish pulse of a city is not felt in the same degree in all parts of it. There are places from which all circulation seems shut out, and where the rapid stream of life hardly shows a ripple. Quiet houses are there, only separated from the noisy street by the thickness of a wall. They seem to be many miles from the heated movement of life, and their inhabitants complacently gaze from their windows with the same unconcern as they would look at a picture on their own walls—a view perhaps of violence or excitement, a storm at sea, or a battle.
The Markers' house in the Lutzowstrasse was just such a peaceful island in the tossing sea of the city. It was only a few steps from the Magdeburger Platz—the first story in a stately house with a round arch over the door. Three generations of women—grandmother, mother, and daughter—lived there, without a single man to take care of them, attended only by an old widowed cook and her daughter, who had grown up into the position of a waiting maid. A dreamy, monotonous life they lived here, like that of the sleepers in the palace of the Sleeping Beauty behind their hundred-year-old hedge of thorns.
The grandmother was the head of the house—Frau Brohl, a lady of over sixty years, and a widow for the last twenty. She was a small thin woman, her figure very much bent, with snow-white hair, a narrow, pale face, and pretty brown eyes. She moved slowly and with great exertion, spoke softly and with shortness of breath, and seemed weary and sad. She looked as if she had some hidden sickness, and as if her feeble lamp of life might soon flicker out. As a matter of fact she had never had a day's illness; her appearance gave the impression of weakness, and increasing age made her neither better nor worse. Even now she was the first to rise in the morning and the last to go to bed; had the best appetite at table; and, in her occasional walks, was the least tired.
Her late husband—Herr F. A. Brohl, of the firm of Brohl, Son & Co.—had been one of the largest ship-brokers in Stettin. They had lived together for a quarter of a century in peace and happiness, and her eyes filled with tears when she remembered that part of her life. It was a beautiful time, much too good for a sinful human being. They had a house to themselves, with large high rooms, and every day she received visits from the richest women of the town, and visited them in return. There was never a betrothal, marriage, or christening in a well-known family to which she was not invited; every child in the street knew her and smiled at her; and the suppers in her hospitable house were renowned as far as Russia and Sweden.
The marriage was blessed by one daughter, who grew up to be a rather pretty, well-mannered, and well-grown girl. Her horizon stretched from the storeroom to the linen-press, and from the flatiron to her book of songs. She felt a high esteem for her father—just as everyone does for a rich man—and for her mother, if hardly love, at least a boundless respect. She regarded her as almost more than human, and the care with which she listened to her mother's instructions into the secrets of the kitchen, the market, and the linen-room, was almost unnatural. She was afraid she would never attain to the fluctuations of price in the fish market in different seasons of the year, the starching of muslins, the time it took to cook a pudding, and how much sugar went to a pot of preserved fruit; and her mother destroyed the last remnant of self-confidence when half-pityingly, half-contemptuously she told her that she was not sufficiently developed to understand such things. When Fraulein Brohl was old enough, her parents married her to Herr Marker. It was hardly a love match, but in Brohl, Son & Company's house such folly as love was not considered. Herr Marker was the son of a wholesale coffee-merchant, and was neither handsome nor distinguished-looking; he was small, thin, bandy-legged, with an unwholesome complexion, a peevish expression, and almost bald-headed.
Herr F.A. Brohl soon found that he had made a mistake, and been in too great a hurry. The old Marker lost his fortune in an unlucky speculation during the Crimean War, and was only saved by Brohl from the shame of bankruptcy. He died soon afterward of grief, and left his son nothing but debts. The young Marker showed no special genius for the coffee business, but an uncomfortable ambition for speculation in stocks. He opened an exchange office, and entered into transactions with the Exchanges of Berlin, Frankfort, and Amsterdam, and after a short time the last penny of his wife's dowry disappeared. His father-in-law dipped into his pockets and renewed the dowry, but stipulated that Marker in the future should ask his advice before any undertaking. This Marker felt as a deep humiliation, and rather than submit to Brohl's tyranny, preferred to loaf all day with his hands in his pockets at the Exchange, and shortened the evenings by going to the club, and boring people with endless stories of the meanness and thick-headedness of his cad of a father-in-law, who in his old-fashioned, narrow-minded Philistinism had not the least capacity for any great undertakings.
Brohl died soon after, and Marker experienced a new and painful sensation. His wife did not inherit a penny by her father's will, his whole property under limited conditions going to the widow. This was specially arranged for by Brohl to prevent Marker from laying his hands on more capital. He shook his fist at the opening of the will, and broke out into unseemly abuse; he went all over Stettin, and cried out that he was robbed, that the old rascal had plundered him. To his wife and mother-in-law he also talked day after day and night after night, saying how shamefully he had been treated, and that it was his mother-in-law's duty to make good the mistake. Frau Marker could not endure this perpetual grumbling and badgering, and Frau Brohl became weak with not only her son-in-law but her daughter constantly at her ear. She consented to give him a large sum to put him into a new business, which he described as having a brilliant and unfailing future, and after a great deal of begging and worrying she at length brought herself to the far greater sacrifice of a removal to Berlin, that Marker might have a greater sphere for his energies. So the stately house in the Frauenstrasse with its lofty rooms was abandoned, and exchanged for the small flat in Berlin.
The departure from Stettin was a miserable one. It was desperate work packing the thousand things which had gathered together during the quarter of a century in careless profusion. It was heart-breaking to be obliged to leave behind the stores of wood, coal, and potatoes in the cellar, the cranberry jam in the storeroom, which the Markers, in their grandeur of ideas, did not think worth the trouble of taking with them! And the farewell visits to the rich friends, in whose family festivals she would never more take part; and the last visit to the Jacobkirche, where she would never more go on Sundays and meet her intimate friends, for whose benefit she wore the family ornaments, and the stiff silk dress. There were many tears and sobs, but the cup was drained like the others; and Marker began his new life in the Lutzowstrasse with his wife, his mother-in-law, and the little Malvine, who was the only child of their marriage.
At first things went on pretty well. Frau Brohl often had tears in her eyes when looking at the familiar furniture in her room, which had been designed for a house three times as large, and she would rather have sacrificed one of her hands than one of her old sofas or tables. But Marker was gay as he had never been before, and full of wonderful stories of the future importance of his firm, astounding both the women, and even making them respect him, which feeling had never before influenced them. He had an office in the Burgstrasse, near the Exchange, shared by other young men, and came home every day with new reports of the wonderful business he was doing.
A day came, however, when he had no news to tell them, when his complexion was as yellow as ever, his eyes avoided the questioning glances of his mother-in-law, and after playing at concealment for a whole week, he was at last forced to tell them that he had again lost all his money. He hastened to add, however, that every thing could be saved if the mother would once more set him on his feet; in every new undertaking one had to pay something for learning; he had hardly understood his position so far, but now he knew what he was about, he must be contented with modest profits. Frau Brohl made a fresh sacrifice, giving Marker his position in business again after six months. He had hardly the courage to come home with new plans, but used to steal in quietly like a shadow on the wall, sit down at table with a heart-breaking sigh, sulked with the women, and often was heard talking to himself in this fashion: "This is no sort of life. If women hold the cards, stupidity is trumps. The woman in the kitchen, the man in business," and so on. Finally the thing happened which Frau Brohl had foreseen with anxiety—Marker came with a new project, for which he wanted fifty thousand thalers. It was an entirely new idea, unheard of before; it couldn't miscarry, it must bring in a hundred thousand; with one stroke all the former losses would be retrieved. Then he stopped talking, and showed yards of figures, read aloud letters of advice, and went on reading and talking and crackling papers for an hour to Frau Brohl, following her from the drawing-room into the kitchen, from the kitchen back to the drawing-room; and when she took refuge in her bedroom, he read to her through the door. However, it was no good, and Frau Brohl stood firm. Then Marker tried a new method. He was argumentative before, now he became tragic; he threatened to throw himself out of the window, to become dangerously ill, to go away and never be heard of again. He left half-finished letters on his writing-table, in which he announced his death to his acquaintances, laying the blame on his wife and mother-in-law; in short, poor Frau Brohl, whose existence had become a veritable hell, with a heavy heart put her hand once more into her pocket, and gave Marker what he wanted.
Everything now went on as smoothly and merrily as before. After a few weeks Marker again lost everything, and seemed so upset that he stayed away all day without coming home. At last he appeared again, and hesitatingly, with a timid expression, begged for forgiveness. "Very well," said Frau Brohl, "only I hope you will not begin all over again." Her hopes were not realized. The spirit of speculation had too strong a hold over Marker to be kept back. After he had remained quiet for about a year, he actually had the effrontery to ask his mother-in-law for more capital. But this time she was like a rock. "Not a penny," said Frau Brohl, and kept her word. Marker wept, and she let him weep; he talked of suicide, and she advised him to use a rope, as he did not understand the use of firearms. He had run through half her money, and the other half she meant to defend like a lioness. The specter of poverty rose up before her, she reflected that rich people would cast her out of their society, and look upon her as a weak woman without any self-respect, conquered by Marker's tenacity.
There were no more storms after this, and peace reigned in the tightly-crammed flat in the Lutzowstrasse, but it was peace which concealed a great deal of grumbling and sulkiness. Marker very seldom spoke, and his obstinate silence was made easy for him, for the women at last hardly ever spoke to him. Every week he had a certain sum given him for pocket-money; Frau Brohl paid his tailor's and bootmaker's bills, and he was treated in fact as if he had done with this world. His business was to take the little Malvine to school and fetch her home again, and on the way he grumbled incessantly to the child about her mother and grandmother. The former he called "she," and the latter "the old lady." He never mentioned their names. Malvine had noticed that at home they never spoke to her father; in her childish way she imitated this contemptuous silence. The only bright spot in his existence was a visit to some old business friends, where he unburdened his overflowing heart, and complained by the hour together of the tyrants in his house, who trod him under-foot, and ill-treated him now that he was unfortunate. He was the victim of two silly women, but he would show them one day of what he was capable. "She" and "the old lady" were too stupid to understand him, but he hoped he would not die until he had seen them on their knees before him. In this way he ceaselessly kept up the smouldering rage within him; his face became more and more yellow, he grew thinner, he lost his appetite, he looked as if he were suffering from some dreadful malady. He said nothing, however, about his health, but seemed to find a comforting satisfaction in the reflection that "she" and "the old lady" would one day be surprised to see him lying there, and that would be his revenge. And so it came to pass—one morning he was too weak to leave his bed. At luncheon Frau Brohl and Frau Marker noticed his absence, and went to look for him; as they had taken no notice of him for so long, they were not aware how shriveled and emaciated he had grown, and were now shocked and astonished to see how miserable and frail he was. They sent for a doctor; Frau Brohl made some elder tea; Frau Marker sat up all night by the sick-bed, but nothing could be done. A few days later he died, with a look of hatred at his mother-in-law, and a movement of aversion from his wife.
Nothing was changed in the household; there was another place at table and a room at liberty, which was soon filled with the things overflowing from the drawing-room. Frau Brohl still had a passion for preserving and pickling, which had descended to her daughter and her granddaughter, and also a passion for needle-work. Year in and year out the three sat at the window of their drawing-room over embroidery, lace-making, and such like, working as if they had to earn their daily bread. They were mistresses of all kinds of fancy work, and invented many more.
Frau Brohl was unequaled in her inventions of new kinds of work. Such things as book-markers and slippers, paper-baskets, bed-quilts and tablecloths, card-baskets, and chair-cushions were all too simple—the mere a b c of the art. Wonders like embroidered pictures for the walls, various kinds of fringes for the legs of pianos, fireplace hangings, gold nets for window-curtains, mottoes for the canary's cage, silk covers for books, were the order of the day. When any one came in he was first struck with surprise, which quickly changed to bewilderment. Wherever he looked his eye fell on some piece of work, with no repose or unadorned space. Here a row of family portraits, in plush and gold frames, all looking stiff and uninteresting—on inspecting them at close quarters, they were seen to be not painted but embroidered in colored silks. There hung a melon, the outside of the fruit represented by yellow, green, and brown satin, the stalk by gold thread, the little cracks and roughnesses by gray silk applique, the whole thing fearful and absurd in its exuberance. And wherever one went or stood, sat down or laid one's hand, there wandered a huge wreath of flowers in Berlin wool, or the profile of a warrior in cross-stitch sneered at one, or a piece of hanging tapestry of pompous pattern and learned inscriptions flapped at one, and everything was rich and tedious and terrifying and shocking in taste; and when one's tired eyes looked out of the triply be-curtained windows into the street, one fell convinced that little angels would come down out of the sky clad in what was left over of the rococo furniture draperies, bordered with gold.
This unsightly museum of useless things was the occupation of Frau Brohl and Frau Marker's lives, and here Malvine grew up to be the pretty girl to whom we have been introduced at the Ellrichs'. Her mother was a sort of elder sister to her, and the only authority in the house was the grandmother. She ordered the servants, and her daughter paid her the same timid reverence as in the time of her short frocks. Frau Marker seldom opened her lips except to eat, or to answer her mother in a parrot-like sort of echo. Frau Brohl's energetic spirit stirred even in these narrow boundaries. She did not feel at home in Berlin; she met no one she knew in the streets, and in fact knew no one, and this feeling of being among strangers, as if at some out-of-the-way fair, made her so uneasy that she hardly ever went out. Often since Marker's death she had thought of returning to Stettin, but when she reflected how dreadful it would be to pack up and unpack again all the thousand pieces of work, her courage failed her. All the same she lived with her heart and soul in Stettin. A local paper from Stettin was her only reading. She kept up a regular correspondence with all her old acquaintances, who gave her news of all the engagements, marriages, births, and deaths of the rich people she had known. If Stettin people of good standing came to Berlin she called on them and invited them to dinner, when her former celebrated triumphs in cookery were repeated. If she found out that any wealthy inhabitants of Stettin had been in Berlin without informing her of the fact, she took it so much to heart that she had to go to bed for a week. A few Stettin families, who in the course of the year emigrated to the capital, constituted her circle of visiting acquaintances, enlarged later by Malvine's school friends, and introductions at their houses. The connection with the Ellrichs was through the Stettin circle. Frau Brohl gave a large soiree twice in the course of the winter, when the invitations they had received were returned. Since Malvine was grown up there had been dancing, although the small size of the drawing-room, and the displacement of all Frau Brohl's needlework, set everything in great confusion.
This kind of life and its surroundings naturally could not develop Malvine's mind and character in any high degree. She missed any stimulus from her mother or from her grandmother; she only learned to respect rich people, to fathom the mysteries of the kitchen, and to cultivate a taste for peculiar and original fancy work; she was, however, a good-tempered, rather slow-witted girl, of well-balanced mind, without a trace of capriciousness or the nervous temperament so common to city life; within her limited view of things she had a good, honest intelligence, and with her plump figure and her round, rosy face, which bore witness to her grandmother's kitchen, she was very comely in men's eyes.
Paul Haber had already become acquainted with the flat in the Lutzowstrasse during the winter before the war, and he liked the quiet he found in the corners of the little rooms, and in the muffled voices of these three women. The friendship was continued during the war by means of frequent letters, and on his home-coming Paul renewed his visits with pleasure. By cautious inquiries he had gathered that Malvine had sixty thousand thalers in cash as her dowry, and would inherit double that sum. Her modest, quiet, amiable disposition made him drift into a strong attachment; her appearance was sufficiently womanly and charming, and her steady, practical views on things, utterly unromantic an unenthusiastic, harmonized entirely with his own. It was refreshing for him to hear her chatter about people and things with the calm good sense of a Philistine, especially in a society where the bombastic and exaggerated talk of original, poetically minded young ladies had repelled and bored him. At his first meeting with Malvine Marker he had thought that she was the wife for him, and since he had become friendly with her and her circle, he said to himself, "This one and no other."
The three ladies liked him immensely. Frau Brohl took him at once to her heart, and that was the chief consideration. His appearance made a good impression on her. He was strongly built, not too thin, in fact, showing signs of a respectable probable stoutness in later life; his face was full, and his complexion healthy, his mustache carefully trimmed, and his hair closely cropped; he certainly dressed well. The young men of her former rich acquaintances were of the same type, so also was the late F.A. Brohl when she first met him. He was gentlemanly, without a doubt, and he must be well off to employ such a good tailor and friseur. She also noticed, with an immense satisfaction, that he had a due appreciation of fancy work. He did not, like some superficial people, regard these housewifely creations as merely pretty or useful things, but appreciated them as works of art, and wondered at the difficulty of these marvelous fabrications. Complicated lace-work, or embroidered pictures, filled him with amazement, even if applique had no effect on him. When Frau Brohl noticed these marks of distinction in him, she did not hesitate to invite him to dinner on Sunday—at first occasionally, and afterward regularly, and with increasing pleasure she noticed that in other ways he also reached the ideal she had imagined in him. He had a good appetite, and it was not necessary for him to say in words how much he enjoyed the dishes set before him, every look and gesture showed it plainly. He evinced a warm sympathy for family events, even when they did not concern him in any way, and he had the same genuine esteem for rich people, which had been handed down for three generations in the Brohl-Marker families. She thought that he showed no disinclination to be her granddaughter's husband, only at first she pondered over his calling in life. She knew perfectly well that the highest professorship could only earn in a year what an ordinary ship-broker made in a month. At the same time she reflected that even a merchant made a bad job of it sometimes, as her son-in-law's example had shown her only too plainly; that the title "Professor" sounded very well, and if he did not make very much money at most, at least he could not lose it, and she came to the conclusion that in the circumstances a professor could make his wife very happy. Frau Marker had nothing to say about the matter, and was quite prepared to accept a son-in-law from her mother's hand, as she had formerly accepted a husband, so the fact that Paul had not made a very favorable impression on her did not matter very much.
There remained only Malvine—but just there lay the difficulty. The girl was always kind and friendly to Paul, she took his homage without any coquetry or apparent disinclination; when they went out walking she took his arm quite unaffectedly; when they were invited to meet in society, by a tacit agreement he took her in to dinner, had the privilege of the greater part of the dances, and was her partner for the cotillion. But whether they were alone or in company, whether they danced or talked, whether he came or went, she showed a perfect unconcern and freedom of manner to which he longed to put an end. She was much too cold and collected even for his unsentimental nature. He would have forgiven some agitation, some confusion, a few blushes now and then, perhaps a sigh, but these signs of the heart's flutterings were nowhere forthcoming. As they were out one day alone together, something happened which filled Paul with doubt and trouble. Malvine had been attracted to Wilhelm when first she saw him, and since then she had incessantly thought and talked of him. He was so handsome, he spoke so charmingly! She thought it astonishing that any one should not love him, just because his admiration was mingled with so much shyness. She herself was much too insignificant a person to think of loving him, and beside, he was not free, and it would have been a sin to think of the man who was engaged to her friend. This enthusiasm for Wilhelm naturally did not escape Paul's notice, but it did not disquiet him, because he took into account Malvine's nature. "It is a harmless fancy," he said to himself, "the sort of fancy girls take sometimes for princes whose photographs they see in shop-windows, or for actors whom they have admired as Don Carlos or Romeo; later on they laugh over their childish folly, and these fancies never prevent the pretty enthusiast from marrying and being happy."
Nevertheless, things became suspiciously different after the breach between Wilhelm and Loulou. In Malvine's somewhat narrow but well-regulated mind a brave romance had been mistakenly built up. Now Wilhelm was free: now she need have no feeling of duty on account of that superficial, pleasure-seeking Loulou, who had never been worthy of him. Was it impossible that he might notice her? would be grateful for her sympathy? and perhaps—who knows—later—he might seek consolation from her—who was so ready to give it? The concluding chapter of this girlish romance remained her own secret, but the beginning she boldly declared. She explained to her grandmother, as well as to Paul, that now Dr. Eynhardt was in need of being comforted, it was the duty of his friends to try to overcome his sorrow. She proposed that Paul should bring him as often as possible, and she obtained from Frau Brohl the unwonted permission of inviting him to the Sunday luncheon. Wilhelm had little pleasure in going into ordinary society, especially to strangers, but this invitation was so warm and pressing that he could not bring himself to refuse it.
When Wilhelm was there Paul was put completely in the background. Malvine had no words or glances for any one but Wilhelm, and if she spoke to Paul it was only to thank him for having brought Dr. Eynhardt to the Lutzowstrasse. If Paul came alone he was mortified to see a shadow pass over Malvine's face, and he was forced to listen to a string of inquiries after his friend. He had been conscious for a long time that he must try to reconcile himself to this condition of things, and if he felt himself rebelling, he reminded himself he must have patience and wait, trying to console himself with the thought that Malvine's enthusiasm was only on her side—Wilhelm's demeanor seemed to show that he did not guess what was going on in the girl's mind. His manner was courteous and friendly, but there was really no difference between his demeanor toward Frau Brohl and toward the young girl. While Malvine blushed and became confused when he entered the room, Wilhelm, on his side, spoke to the grandmother, mother, and daughter with exactly the same pleasant smile, and his hand rested not a moment longer in Malvine's than in that of her grandmother. On his side there was evidently nothing to dread. He felt he had a defender and support in Frau Brohl. The old lady kept a sharp lookout on her little world with her dim-sighted eyes. She noticed that Malvine was unable to withstand the charm which Wilhelm exercised over her, and she could not bring herself to be angry with the girl. She herself liked the young man extremely, admired his handsome face, his fine voice, his modest, unassuming manners, but she felt instinctively that he belonged to quite a different world from herself, and that in a sense they would always be strangers. When he spoke she could not follow his thoughts, although she felt that they were very profound; when she spoke he listened with the greatest politeness, but nothing more came of it. He tried to be attentive to her stories about engagements and separations, he was entirely uninterested in rich people, he did not praise the best dishes at table, and he even went so far as not to conceal his aversion for the design of the horrible knight in cross-stitch. Beside all this, his clothes were bad, and although he had a house of his own, it was only a little one. No, Wilhelm as a relation was not to be thought of. He was not of their own flesh and blood, like that good, delightful Paul Haber.
It was not in Paul's nature to wait patiently in suspense, and he determined to put an end to his uncertainty. Malvine seemed to him as desirable as ever, and he had built up in his mind a future, of which Malvine and her sixty thousand thalers were the foundation. He must know whether she were for him or not; in the one case to transform his castle in the air into reality without loss of time, and in the other case not to waste the best years of his life in aimless disappointment; not to let other opportunities slip by. He was not quite clear, however, on one point, To whom should he make his proposal? To Frau Brohl? That would be the most practicable way, no doubt, as the bent, pale old lady, with the soft, sighing voice, ruled everything in the house, and if she promised the hand of her grand-daughter, she would certainly keep her word. But it went against the grain to put any constraint on the girl, and he felt that he would be ashamed to answer "No," if Frau Brohl were to ask him if he had already spoken to Malvine. Then if he were to go in a straightforward way to Malvine, and say, "I can no longer hide from you that I love you, and that I want you to be my wife, will you consent?" there was a great deal of risk in that, for if she misjudged her own feelings, and said that she loved some one else, and so could not listen to him, the rupture between them would be accomplished, and it would be no use to him if later she found out that she had been mistaken in her feelings. There could be no secure step for him, on that he was quite decided.