On his way home he resolved to confess Kenby's presence; and he did so as soon as he sat down to supper with his wife. "I ought to have told you the first thing after breakfast. But when I found you in that mood of having the place all to ourselves, I put it off."
"You took terrible chances, my dear," she said, gravely.
"And I have been terribly punished. You've no idea how much Kenby has talked to me about Mrs. Adding!"
She broke out laughing. "Well, perhaps you've suffered enough. But you can see now, can't you, that it would have been awful if I had met him, and let out that I didn't know he was here?"
"Terrible. But if I had told, it would have spoiled the whole morning for you; you couldn't have thought of anything else."
"Oh, I don't know," she said, airily. "What should you think if I told you I had known he was here ever since last night?" She went on in delight at the start he gave. "I saw him come into the hotel while you were gone for the guide-books, and I determined to keep it from you as long as I could; I knew it would worry you. We've both been very nice; and I forgive you," she hurried on, "because I've really got something to tell you."
"Don't tell me that Burnamy is here!"
"Don't jump to conclusions! No, Burnamy isn't here, poor fellow! And don't suppose that I'm guilty of concealment because I haven't told you before. I was just thinking whether I wouldn't spare you till morning, but now I shall let you take the brunt of it. Mrs. Adding and Rose are here." She gave the fact time to sink in, and then she added, "And Miss Triscoe and her father are here."
"What is the matter with Major Eltwin and his wife being here, too? Are they in our hotel?"
"No, they are not. They came to look for rooms while you were off waiting for the Prince-Regent, and I saw them. They intended to go to Frankfort for the manoeuvres, but they heard that there was not even standing-room there, and so the general telegraphed to the Spanischer Hof, and they all came here. As it is, he will have to room with Rose, and Agatha and Mrs. Adding will room together. I didn't think Agatha was looking very well; she looked unhappy; I don't believe she's heard, from Burnamy yet; I hadn't a chance to ask her. And there's something else that I'm afraid will fairly make you sick."
"Oh, no; go on. I don't think anything can do that, after an afternoon of Kenby's confidences."
"It's worse than Kenby," she said with a sigh. "You know I told you at Carlsbad I thought that ridiculous old thing was making up to Mrs. Adding."
"Kenby? Why of co—"
"Don't be stupid, my dear! No, not Kenby: General Triscoe. I wish you could have been here to see him paying her all sort; of silly attentions, and hear him making her compliments."
"Thank you. I think I'm just as well without it. Did she pay him silly attentions and compliments, too?"
"That's the only thing that can make me forgive her for his wanting her. She was keeping him at arm's-length the whole time, and she was doing it so as not to make him contemptible before his daughter."
"It must have been hard. And Rose?"
"Rose didn't seem very well. He looks thin and pale; but he's sweeter than ever. She's certainly commoner clay than Rose. No, I won't say that! It's really nothing but General Triscoe's being an old goose about her that makes her seem so, and it isn't fair."
March went down to his coffee in the morning with the delicate duty of telling Kenby that Mrs. Adding was in town. Kenby seemed to think it quite natural she should wish to see the manoeuvres, and not at all strange that she should come to them with General Triscoe and his daughter. He asked if March would not go with him to call upon her after breakfast, and as this was in the line of his own instructions from Mrs. March, he went.
They found Mrs. Adding with the Triscoes, and March saw nothing that was not merely friendly, or at the most fatherly, in the general's behavior toward her. If Mrs. Adding or Miss Triscoe saw more, they hid it in a guise of sisterly affection for each other. At the most the general showed a gayety which one would not have expected of him under any conditions, and which the fact that he and Rose had kept each other awake a good deal the night before seemed so little adapted to call out. He joked with Rose about their room and their beds, and put on a comradery with him that was not a perfect fit, and that suffered by contrast with the pleasure of the boy and Kenby in meeting. There was a certain question in the attitude of Mrs. Adding till March helped Kenby to account for his presence; then she relaxed in an effect of security so tacit that words overstate it, and began to make fun of Rose.
March could not find that Miss Triscoe looked unhappy, as his wife had said; he thought simply that she had grown plainer; but when he reported this, she lost her patience with him. In a girl, she said, plainness was unhappiness; and she wished to know when he would ever learn to look an inch below the surface: She was sure that Agatha Triscoe had not heard from Burnamy since the Emperor's birthday; that she was at swords'-points with her father, and so desperate that she did not care what became of her.
He had left Kenby with the others, and now, after his wife had talked herself tired of them all, he proposed going out again to look about the city, where there was nothing for the moment to remind them of the presence of their friends or even of their existence. She answered that she was worrying about all those people, and trying to work out their problem for them. He asked why she did not let them work it out themselves as they would have to do, after all her worry, and she said that where her sympathy had been excited she could not stop worrying, whether it did any good or not, and she could not respect any one who could drop things so completely out of his mind as he could; she had never been able to respect that in him.
"I know, my dear," he assented. "But I don't think it's a question of moral responsibility; it's a question of mental structure, isn't it? Your consciousness isn't built in thought-tight compartments, and one emotion goes all through it, and sinks you; but I simply close the doors and shut the emotion in, and keep on."
The fancy pleased him so much that he worked it out in all its implications, and could not, after their long experience of each other, realize that she was not enjoying the joke too, till she said she saw that he merely wished to tease. Then, too late, he tried to share her worry; but she protested that she was not worrying at all; that she cared nothing about those people: that she was nervous, she was tired; and she wished he would leave her, and go out alone.
He found himself in the street again, and he perceived that he must be walking fast when a voice called him by name, and asked him what his hurry was. The voice was Stoller's, who got into step with him and followed the first with a second question.
"Made up your mind to go to the manoeuvres with me?"
His bluntness made it easy for March to answer: "I'm afraid my wife couldn't stand the drive back and forth."
"Come without her."
"Thank you. It's very kind of yon. I'm not certain that I shall go at all. If I do, I shall run out by train, and take my chances with the crowd."
Stoller insisted no further. He felt no offence at the refusal of his offer, or chose to show none. He said, with the same uncouth abruptness as before: "Heard anything of that fellow since he left Carlsbad?"
"Know where he is?"
"I don't in the least."
Stoller let another silence elapse while they hurried on, before he said, "I got to thinking what he done afterwards. He wasn't bound to look out for me; he might suppose I knew what I was about."
March turned his face and stared in Stoller's, which he was letting hang forward as he stamped heavily on. Had the disaster proved less than he had feared, and did he still want Burnamy's help in patching up the broken pieces; or did he really wish to do Burnamy justice to his friend?
In any case March's duty was clear. "I think Burnamy was bound to look out for you; Mr. Stoller, and I am glad to know that he saw it in the same light."
"I know he did," said Stoker with a blaze as from a long-smouldering fury, "and damn him, I'm not going to have it. I'm not going to, plead the baby act with him, or with any man. You tell him so, when you get the chance. You tell him I don't hold him accountable for anything I made him do. That ain't business; I don't want him around me, any more; but if he wants to go back to the paper he can have his place. You tell him I stand by what I done; and it's all right between him and me. I hain't done anything about it, the way I wanted him to help me to; I've let it lay, and I'm a-going to. I guess it ain't going to do me any harm, after all; our people hain't got very long memories; but if it is, let it. You tell him it's all right."
"I don't know where he is, Mr. Stoller, and I don't know that I care to be the bearer of your message," said March.
"Why, for one thing, I don't agree with you that it's all right. Your choosing to stand by the consequences of Burnamy's wrong doesn't undo it. As I understand, you don't pardon it—"
Stoller gulped and did not answer at once. Then he said, "I stand by what I done. I'm not going to let him say I turned him down for doing what I told him to, because I hadn't the sense to know what I was about."
"Ah, I don't think it's a thing he'll like to speak of in any case," said March.
Stoller left him, at the corner they had reached, as abruptly as he had joined him, and March hurried back to his wife, and told her what had just passed between him and Stoller.
She broke out, "Well, I am surprised at you, my dear! You have always accused me of suspecting people, and attributing bad motives; and here you've refused even to give the poor man the benefit of the doubt. He merely wanted to save his savage pride with you, and that's all he wants to do with Burnamy. How could it hurt the poor boy to know that Stoller doesn't blame him? Why should you refuse to give his message to Burnamy? I don't want you to ridicule me for my conscience any more, Basil; you're twice as bad as I ever was. Don't you think that a person can ever expiate an offence? I've often heard you say that if any one owned his fault, he put it from him, and it was the same as if it hadn't been; and hasn't Burnamy owned up over and over again? I'm astonished at you, dearest."
March was in fact somewhat astonished at himself in the light of her reasoning; but she went on with some sophistries that restored him to his self-righteousness.
"I suppose you think he has interfered with Stoller's political ambition, and injured him in that way. Well, what if he has? Would it be a good thing to have a man like that succeed in politics? You're always saying that the low character of our politicians is the ruin of the country; and I'm sure," she added, with a prodigious leap over all the sequences, "that Mr. Stoller is acting nobly; and it's your duty to help him relieve Burnamy's mind." At the laugh he broke into she hastened to say, "Or if you won't, I hope you'll not object to my doing so, for I shall, anyway!"
She rose as if she were going to begin at once, in spite of his laughing; and in fact she had already a plan for coming to Stoller's assistance by getting at Burnamy through Miss Triscoe, whom she suspected of knowing where he was. There had been no chance for them to speak of him either that morning or the evening before, and after a great deal of controversy with herself in her husband's presence she decided to wait till they came naturally together the next morning for the walk to the Capuchin Church on the hill beyond the river, which they had agreed to take. She could not keep from writing a note to Miss Triscoe begging her to be sure to come, and hinting that she had something very important to speak of.
She was not sure but she had been rather silly to do this, but when they met the girl confessed that she had thought of giving up the walk, and might not have come except for Mrs. March's note. She had come with Rose, and had left him below with March; Mrs. Adding was coming later with Kenby and General Triscoe.
Mrs. March lost no time in telling her the great news; and if she had been in doubt before of the girl's feeling for Burnamy she was now in none. She had the pleasure of seeing her flush with hope, and then the pain which was also a pleasure, of seeing her blanch with dismay.
"I don't know where he is, Mrs. March. I haven't heard a word from him since that night in Carlsbad. I expected—I didn't know but you—"
Mrs. March shook her head. She treated the fact skillfully as something to be regretted simply because it would be such a relief to Burnamy to know how Mr. Stoller now felt. Of course they could reach him somehow; you could always get letters to people in Europe, in the end; and, in fact, it was altogether probable that he was that very instant in Wurzburg; for if the New York-Paris Chronicle had wanted him to write up the Wagner operas, it would certainly want him to write up the manoeuvres. She established his presence in Wurzburg by such an irrefragable chain of reasoning that, at a knock outside, she was just able to kelp back a scream, while she ran to open the door. It was not Burnamy, as in compliance with every nerve it ought to have been, but her husband, who tried to justify his presence by saying that they were all waiting for her and Miss Triscoe, and asked when they were coming.
She frowned him silent, and then shut herself outside with him long enough to whisper, "Say she's got a headache, or anything you please; but don't stop talking here with me, or I shall go wild." She then shut herself in again, with the effect of holding him accountable for the whole affair.
General Triscoe could not keep his irritation, at hearing that his daughter was not coming, out of the excuses he made to Mrs. Adding; he said again and again that it must seem like a discourtesy to her. She gayly disclaimed any such notion; she would not hear of putting off their excursion to another day; it had been raining just long enough to give them a reasonable hope of a few hours' drought, and they might not have another dry spell for weeks. She slipped off her jacket after they started, and gave it to Kenby, but she let General Triscoe hold her umbrella over her, while he limped beside her. She seemed to March, as he followed with Rose, to be playing the two men off against each other, with an ease which he wished his wife could be there to see, and to judge aright.
They crossed by the Old Bridge, which is of the earliest years of the seventh century, between rows of saints whose statues surmount the piers. Some are bishops as well as saints; one must have been at Rome in his day, for he wore his long thick beard in the fashion of Michelangelo's Moses. He stretched out toward the passers two fingers of blessing and was unaware of the sparrow which had lighted on them and was giving him the effect of offering it to the public admiration. Squads of soldiers tramping by turned to look and smile, and the dull faces of citizens lighted up at the quaint sight. Some children stopped and remained very quiet, not to scare away the bird; and a cold-faced, spiritual-looking priest paused among them as if doubting whether to rescue the absent- minded bishop from a situation derogatory to his dignity; but he passed on, and then the sparrow suddenly flew off.
Rose Adding had lingered for the incident with March, but they now pushed on, and came up with the others at the end of the bridge, where they found them in question whether they had not better take a carriage and drive to the foot of the hill before they began their climb. March thanked them, but said he was keeping up the terms of his cure, and was getting in all the walking he could. Rose begged his mother not to include him in the driving party; he protested that he was feeling so well, and the walk was doing him good. His mother consented, if he would promise not to get tired, and then she mounted into the two-spanner which had driven instinctively up to their party when their parley began, and General Triscoe took the place beside her, while Kenby, with smiling patience, seated himself in front.
Rose kept on talking with March about Wurzburg and its history, which it seemed he had been reading the night before when he could not sleep. He explained, "We get little histories of the places wherever we go. That's what Mr. Kenby does, you know."
"Oh, yes," said March.
"I don't suppose I shall get a chance to read much here," Rose continued, "with General Triscoe in the room. He doesn't like the light."
"Well, well. He's rather old, you know. And you musn't read too much, Rose. It isn't good for you."
"I know, but if I don't read, I think, and that keeps me awake worse. Of course, I respect General Triscoe for being in the war, and getting wounded," the boy suggested.
"A good many did it," March was tempted to say.
The boy did not notice his insinuation. "I suppose there were some things they did in the army, and then they couldn't get over the habit. But General Grant says in his 'Life' that he never used a profane expletive."
"Does General Triscoe ?"
Rose answered reluctantly, "If anything wakes him in the night, or if he can't make these German beds over to suit him—"
"I see." March turned his face to hide the smile which he would not have let the boy detect. He thought best not to let Rose resume his impressions of the general; and in talk of weightier matters they found themselves at that point of the climb where the carriage was waiting for them. From this point they followed an alley through ivied, garden walls, till they reached the first of the balustraded terraces which ascend to the crest of the hill where the church stands. Each terrace is planted with sycamores, and the face of the terrace wall supports a bass- relief commemorating with the drama of its lifesize figures the stations of the cross.
Monks and priests were coming and going, and dropped on the steps leading from terrace to terrace were women and children on their knees in prayer. It was all richly reminiscent of pilgrim scenes in other Catholic lands; but here there was a touch of earnest in the Northern face of the worshipers which the South had never imparted. Even in the beautiful rococo interior of the church at the top of the hill there was a sense of something deeper and truer than mere ecclesiasticism; and March came out of it in a serious muse while the boy at his side did nothing to interrupt. A vague regret filled his heart as he gazed silently out over the prospect of river and city and vineyard, purpling together below the top where he stood, and mixed with this regret was a vague resentment of his wife's absence. She ought to have been there to share his pang and his pleasure; they had so long enjoyed everything together that without her he felt unable to get out of either emotion all there was in it.
The forgotten boy stole silently down the terraces after the rest of the party who had left him behind with March. At the last terrace they stopped and waited; and after a delay that began to be long to Mrs. Adding, she wondered aloud what could have become of them.
Kenby promptly offered to go back and see, and she consented in seeming to refuse: "It isn't worth while. Rose has probably got Mr. March into some deep discussion, and they've forgotten all about us. But if you will go, Mr. Kenby, you might just remind Rose of my existence." She let him lay her jacket on her shoulders before he left her, and then she sat down on one of the steps, which General Triscoe kept striking with the point of her umbrella as he stood before her.
"I really shall have to take it from you if you do that any more," she said, laughing up in his face. "I'm serious."
He stopped. "I wish I could believe you were serious, for a moment."
"You may, if you think it will do you any good. But I don't see why."
The general smiled, but with a kind of tremulous eagerness which might have been pathetic to any one who liked him. "Do you know this is almost the first time I have spoken alone with you?"
"Really, I hadn't noticed," said Mrs. Adding.
General Triscoe laughed in rather a ghastly way. "Well, that's encouraging, at least, to a man who's had his doubts whether it wasn't intended."
"Intended? By whom? What do you mean, General Triscoe? Why in the world shouldn't you have spoken alone with me before?"
He was not, with all his eagerness, ready to say, and while she smiled pleasantly she had the look in her eyes of being brought to bay and being prepared, if it must come to that, to have the worst over, then and there. She was not half his age, but he was aware of her having no respect for his years; compared with her average American past as he understood it, his social place was much higher, but, she was not in the least awed by it; in spite of his war record she was making him behave like a coward. He was in a false position, and if he had any one but himself to blame he had not her. He read her equal knowledge of these facts in the clear eyes that made him flush and turn his own away.
Then he started with a quick "Hello!" and stood staring up at the steps from the terrace above, where Rose Adding was staying himself weakly by a clutch of Kenby on one side and March on the other.
His mother looked round and caught herself up from where she sat and ran toward him. "Oh, Rose!"
"It's nothing, mother," he called to her, and as she dropped on her knees before him he sank limply against her. "It was like what I had in Carlsbad; that's all. Don't worry about me, please!"
"I'm not worrying, Rose," she said with courage of the same texture as his own. "You've been walking too much. You must go back in the carriage with us. Can't you have it come here?" she asked Kenby.
"There's no road, Mrs. Adding. But if Rose would let me carry him—"
"I can walk," the boy protested, trying to lift himself from her neck.
"No, no! you mustn't." She drew away and let him fall into the arms that Kenby put round him. He raised the frail burden lightly to his shoulder, and moved strongly away, followed by the eyes of the spectators who had gathered about the little group, but who dispersed now, and went back to their devotions.
March hurried after Kenby with Mrs. Adding, whom he told he had just missed Rose and was looking about for him, when Kenby came with her message for them. They made sure that he was nowhere about the church, and then started together down the terraces. At the second or third station below they found the boy clinging to the barrier that protected the bass-relief from the zeal of the devotees. He looked white and sick, though he insisted that he was well, and when he turned to come away with them he reeled and would have fallen if Kenby had not caught him. Kenby wanted to carry him, but Rose would not let him, and had made his way down between them.
"Yea, he has such a spirit," she said, "and I've no doubt he's suffering now more from Mr. Kenby's kindness than from his own sickness he had one of these giddy turns in Carlsbad, though, and I shall certainly have a doctor to see him."
"I think I should, Mrs. Adding," said March, not too gravely, for it seemed to him that it was not quite his business to alarm her further, if she was herself taking the affair with that seriousness. He questioned whether she was taking it quite seriously enough, when she turned with a laugh, and called to General Triscoe, who was limping down the steps of the last terrace behind them:
"Oh, poor General Triscoe! I thought you had gone on ahead."
General Triscoe could not enter into the joke of being forgotten, apparently. He assisted with gravity at the disposition of the party for the return, when they all reached the carriage. Rose had the place beside his mother, and Kenby wished March to take his with the general and let him sit with the driver; but he insisted that he would rather walk home, and he did walk till they had driven out of eight. Then he called a passing one-spanner, and drove to his hotel in comfort and silence.
Kenby did not come to the Swan before supper; then he reported that the doctor had said Rose was on the verge of a nervous collapse. He had overworked at school, but the immediate trouble was the high, thin air, which the doctor said he must be got out of at once, into a quiet place at the sea-shore somewhere. He had suggested Ostend; or some point on the French coast; Kenby had thought of Schevleningen, and the doctor had said that would do admirably.
"I understood from Mrs. Adding," he concluded, "that you were going. there for your after-cure, Mr. March, and I didn't know but you might be going soon."
At the mention of Schevleningen the Marches had looked at each other with a guilty alarm, which they both tried to give the cast of affectionate sympathy but she dismissed her fear that he might be going to let his compassion prevail with him to his hurt when he said: "Why, we ought to have been there before this, but I've been taking my life in my hands in trying to see a little of Germany, and I'm afraid now that Mrs. March has her mind too firmly fixed on Berlin to let me think of going to Schevleningen till we've been there."
"It's too bad!" said Mrs. March, with real regret. "I wish we were going." But she had not the least notion of gratifying her wish; and they were all silent till Kenby broke out:
"Look here! You know how I feel about Mrs Adding! I've been pretty frank with Mr. March myself, and I've had my suspicions that she's been frank with you, Mrs. March. There isn't any doubt about my wanting to marry her, and up to this time there hasn't been any doubt about her not wanting to marry me. But it isn't a question of her or of me, now. It's a question of Rose. I love the boy," and Kenby's voice shook, and he faltered a moment. "Pshaw! You understand."
"Indeed I do, Mr. Kenby," said Mrs. March. "I perfectly understand you."
"Well, I don't think Mrs. Adding is fit to make the journey with him alone, or to place herself in the best way after she gets to Schevleningen. She's been badly shaken up; she broke down before the doctor; she said she didn't know what to do; I suppose she's frightened—"
Kenby stopped again, and March asked, "When is she going?"
"To-morrow," said Kenby, and he added, "And now the question is, why shouldn't I go with her?"
Mrs. March gave a little start, and looked at her husband, but he said nothing, and Kenby seemed not to have supposed that he would say anything.
"I know it would be very American, and all that, but I happen to be an American, and it wouldn't be out of character for me. I suppose," he appealed to Mrs. March, "that it's something I might offer to do if it were from New York to Florida—and I happened to be going there? And I did happen to be going to Holland."
"Why, of course, Mr. Kenby," she responded, with such solemnity that March gave way in an outrageous laugh.
Kenby laughed, and Mrs. March laughed too, but with an inner note of protest.
"Well," Kenby continued, still addressing her, "what I want you to do is to stand by me when I propose it."
Mrs. March gathered strength to say, "No, Mr. Kenby, it's your own affair, and you must take the responsibility."
"Do you disapprove?"
"It isn't the same as it would be at home. You see that yourself."
"Well," said Kenby, rising, "I have to arrange about their getting away to-morrow. It won't be easy in this hurly-burly that's coming off."
"Give Rose our love; and tell Mrs. Adding that I'll come round and see her to-morrow before she starts."
"Oh! I'm afraid you can't, Mrs. March. They're to start at six in the morning."
"They are! Then we must go and see them tonight. We'll be there almost as soon as you are."
March went up to their rooms with, his wife, and she began on the stairs:
"Well, my dear, I hope you realize that your laughing so gave us completely away. And what was there to keep grinning about, all through?"
"Nothing but the disingenuous, hypocritical passion of love. It's always the most amusing thing in the world; but to see it trying to pass itself off in poor old Kenby as duty and humanity, and disinterested affection for Rose, was more than I could stand. I don't apologize for laughing; I wanted to yell."
His effrontery and his philosophy both helped to save him; and she said from the point where he had side-tracked her mind: "I don't call it disingenuous. He was brutally frank. He's made it impossible to treat the affair with dignity. I want you to leave the whole thing to me, from this out. Now, will you?"
On their way to the Spanischer Hof she arranged in her own mind for Mrs. Adding to get a maid, and for the doctor to send an assistant with her on the journey, but she was in such despair with her scheme that she had not the courage to right herself when Mrs. Adding met her with the appeal:
"Oh, Mrs. March, I'm so glad you approve of Mr. Kenby's plan. It does seem the only thing to do. I can't trust myself alone with Rose, and Mr. Kenby's intending to go to Schevleningen a few days later anyway. Though it's too bad to let him give up the manoeuvres."
"I'm sure he won't mind that," Mrs. March's voice said mechanically, while her thought was busy with the question whether this scandalous duplicity was altogether Kenby's, and whether Mrs. Adding was as guiltless of any share in it as she looked. She looked pitifully distracted; she might not have understood his report; or Kenby might really have mistaken Mrs. March's sympathy for favor.
"No, he only lives to do good," Mrs. Adding returned. "He's with Rose; won't you come in and see them?"
Rose was lying back on the pillows of a sofa, from which they would not let him get up. He was full of the trip to Holland, and had already pushed Kenby, as Kenby owned, beyond the bounds of his very general knowledge of the Dutch language, which Rose had plans for taking up after they were settled in Schevleningen. The boy scoffed at the notion that he was not perfectly well, and he wished to talk with March on the points where he had found Kenby wanting.
"Kenby is an encyclopaedia compared with me, Rose," the editor protested, and he amplified his ignorance for the boy's good to an extent which Rose saw was a joke. He left Holland to talk about other things which his mother thought quite as bad for him. He wished to know if March did not think that the statue of the bishop with the sparrow on its finger was a subject for a poem; and March said gayly that if Rose would write it he would print it in 'Every Other Week'.
The boy flushed with pleasure at his banter. "No, I couldn't do it. But I wish Mr. Burnamy had seen it. He could. Will you tell him about it?" He wanted to know if March had heard from Burnamy lately, and in the midst of his vivid interest he gave a weary sigh.
His mother said that now he had talked enough, and bade him say good-by to the Marches, who were coming so soon to Holland, anyway. Mrs. March put her arms round him to kiss him, and when she let him sink back her eyes were dim.
"You see how frail he is?" said Mrs. Adding. "I shall not let him out of my sight, after this, till he's well again."
She had a kind of authority in sending Kenby away with them which was not lost upon the witnesses. He asked them to come into the reading-room a moment with him, and Mrs. March wondered if he were going to make some excuse to her for himself; but he said: "I don't know how we're to manage about the Triscoes. The general will have a room to himself, but if Mrs. Adding takes Rose in with her, it leaves Miss Triscoe out, and there isn't a room to be had in this house for love or money. Do you think," he appealed directly to Mrs. March, "that it would do to offer her my room at the Swan?"
"Why, yes," she assented, with a reluctance rather for the complicity in which he had already involved her, and for which he was still unpunished, than for what he was now proposing. "Or she could come in with me, and Mr. March could take it."
"Whichever you think," said Kenby so submissively that she relented, to ask:
"And what will you do?"
He laughed. "Well, people have been known to sleep in a chair. I shall manage somehow."
"You might offer to go in with the general," March suggested, and the men apparently thought this was a joke. Mrs. March did not laugh in her feminine worry about ways and means.
"Where is Miss Triscoe?" she asked. "We haven't seen them."
"Didn't Mrs. Adding tell you? They went to supper at a restaurant; the general doesn't like the cooking here. They ought to have been back before this."
He looked up at the clock on the wall, and she said, "I suppose you would like us to wait."
"It would be very kind of you."
"Oh, it's quite essential," she returned with an airy freshness which Kenby did not seem to feel as painfully as he ought.
They all sat down, and the Triscoes came in after a few minutes, and a cloud on the general's face lifted at the proposition Kenby left Mrs. March to make.
"I thought that child ought to be in his mother's charge," he said. With his own comfort provided for, he made no objections to Mrs. March's plan; and Agatha went to take leave of Rose and his mother. "By-the-way," the general turned to March, "I found Stoller at the restaurant where we supped. He offered me a place in his carriage for the manoeuvres. How are you going?"
"I think I shall go by train. I don't fancy the long drive."
"Well, I don't know that it's worse than the long walk after you leave the train," said the general from the offence which any difference of taste was apt to give him. "Are you going by train, too?" he asked Kenby with indifference.
"I'm not going at all," said Kenby. "I'm leaving Wurzburg in the morning."
"Oh, indeed," said the general.
Mrs. March could not make out whether he knew that Kenby was going with Rose and Mrs. Adding, but she felt that there must be a full and open recognition of the fact among them. "Yes," she said, "isn't it fortunate that Mr. Kenby should be going to Holland, too! I should have been so unhappy about them if Mrs. Adding had been obliged to make that long journey with poor little Rose alone."
"Yes, yes; very fortunate, certainly," said the general colorlessly.
Her husband gave her a glance of intelligent appreciation; but Kenby was too simply, too densely content with the situation to know the value of what she had done. She thought he must certainly explain, as he walked back with her to the Swan, whether he had misrepresented her to Mrs. Adding, or Mrs. Adding had misunderstood him. Somewhere there had been an error, or a duplicity which it was now useless to punish; and Kenby was so apparently unconscious of it that she had not the heart to be cross with him. She heard Miss Triscoe behind her with March laughing in the gayety which the escape from her father seemed to inspire in her. She was promising March to go with him in the morning to see the Emperor and Empress of Germany arrive at the station, and he was warning her that if she laughed there, like that, she would subject him to fine and imprisonment. She pretended that she would like to see him led off between two gendarmes, but consented to be a little careful when he asked her how she expected to get back to her hotel without him, if such a thing happened.
After all, Miss Triscoe did not go with March; she preferred to sleep. The imperial party was to arrive at half past seven, but at six the crowd was already dense before the station, and all along the street leading to the Residenz. It was a brilliant day, with the promise of sunshine, through which a chilly wind blew, for the manoeuvres. The colors of all the German states flapped in this breeze from the poles wreathed with evergreen which encircled the square; the workmen putting the last touches on the bronzed allegory hurried madly to be done, and they had, scarcely finished their labors when two troops of dragoons rode into the place and formed before the station, and waited as motionlessly as their horses would allow.
These animals were not so conscious as lions at the approach of princes; they tossed and stamped impatiently in the long interval before the Regent and his daughter-in-law came to welcome their guests. All the human beings, both those who were in charge and those who were under charge, were in a quiver of anxiety to play their parts well, as if there were some heavy penalty for failure in the least point. The policemen keeping the people, in line behind the ropes which restrained them trembled with eagerness; the faces of some of the troopers twitched. An involuntary sigh went up from the crowd as the Regent's carriage appeared, heralded by outriders, and followed by other plain carriages of Bavarian blue with liveries of blue and silver. Then the whistle of the Kaiser's train sounded; a trumpeter advanced and began to blow his trumpet as they do in the theatre; and exactly at the appointed moment the Emperor and Empress came out of the station through the brilliant human alley leading from it, mounted their carriages, with the stage trumpeter always blowing, and whirled swiftly round half the square and flashed into the corner toward the Residenz out of sight. The same hollow groans of Ho-o-o-ch greeted and followed them from the spectators as had welcomed the Regent when he first arrived among his fellow- townsmen, with the same effect of being the conventional cries of a stage mob behind the scenes.
The Emperor was like most of his innumerable pictures, with a swarthy face from which his blue eyes glanced pleasantly; he looked good-humored if not good-natured; the Empress smiled amiably beneath her deeply fringed white parasol, and they both bowed right and left in acknowledgment of those hollow groans; but again it seemed, to March that sovereignty, gave the popular curiosity, not to call it devotion, a scantier return than it merited. He had perhaps been insensibly working toward some such perception as now came to him that the great difference between Europe and America was that in Europe life is histrionic and dramatized, and that in America, except when it is trying to be European, it is direct and sincere. He wondered whether the innate conviction of equality, the deep, underlying sense of a common humanity transcending all social and civic pretences, was what gave their theatrical effect to the shows of deference from low to high, and of condescension from high to low. If in such encounters of sovereigns and subjects, the prince did not play his part so well as the people, it might be that he had a harder part to play, and that to support his dignity at all, to keep from being found out the sham that he essentially was, he had to hurry across the stage amidst the distracting thunders of the orchestra. If the star staid to be scrutinized by the soldiers, citizens, and so forth, even the poor supernumeraries and scene-shifters might see that he was a tallow candle like themselves.
In the censorious mood induced by the reflection that he had waited an hour and a half for half a minute's glimpse of the imperial party, March now decided not to go to the manoeuvres, where he might be subjected to still greater humiliation and disappointment. He had certainly come to Wurzburg for the manoeuvres, but Wurzburg had been richly repaying in itself; and why should he stifle half an hour in an overcrowded train, and struggle for three miles on foot against that harsh wind, to see a multitude of men give proofs of their fitness to do manifold murder? He was, in fact, not the least curious for the sight, and the only thing that really troubled him was the question of how he should justify his recreance to his wife. This did alloy the pleasure with which he began, after an excellent breakfast at a neighboring cafe, to stroll about the streets, though he had them almost to himself, so many citizens had followed the soldiers to the manoeuvres.
It was not till the soldiers began returning from the manoeuvres, dusty- footed, and in white canvas overalls drawn over their trousers to save them, that he went back to Mrs. March and Miss Triscoe at the Swan. He had given them time enough to imagine him at the review, and to wonder whether he had seen General Triscoe and the Stollers there, and they met him with such confident inquiries that he would not undeceive them at once. He let them divine from his inventive answers that he had not gone to the manoeuvres, which put them in the best humor with themselves, and the girl said it was so cold and rough that she wished her father had not gone, either. The general appeared just before dinner and frankly avowed the same wish. He was rasping and wheezing from the dust which filled his lungs; he looked blown and red, and he was too angry with the company he had been in to have any comments on the manoeuvres. He referred to the military chiefly in relation to the Miss Stollers' ineffectual flirtations, which he declared had been outrageous. Their father had apparently no control over them whatever, or else was too ignorant to know that they were misbehaving. They were without respect or reverence for any one; they had talked to General Triscoe as if he were a boy of their own age, or a dotard whom nobody need mind; they had not only kept up their foolish babble before him, they had laughed and giggled, they had broken into snatches of American song, they had all but whistled and danced. They made loud comments in Illinois English—on the cuteness of the officers whom they admired, and they had at one time actually got out their handkerchiefs. He supposed they meant to wave them at the officers, but at the look he gave them they merely put their hats together and snickered in derision of him. They were American girls of the worst type; they conformed to no standard of behavior; their conduct was personal. They ought to be taken home.
Mrs. March said she saw what he meant, and she agreed with him that they were altogether unformed, and were the effect of their own ignorant caprices. Probably, however, it was too late to amend them by taking them away.
"It would hide them, at any rate," he answered. "They would sink back into the great mass of our vulgarity, and not be noticed. We behave like a parcel of peasants with our women. We think that if no harm is meant or thought, we may risk any sort of appearance, and we do things that are scandalously improper simply because they are innocent. That may be all very well at home, but people who prefer that sort of thing had better stay there, where our peasant manners won't make them conspicuous."
As their train ran northward out of Wurzburg that afternoon, Mrs. March recurred to the general's closing words. "That was a slap at Mrs. Adding for letting Kenby go off with her."
She took up the history of the past twenty-four hours, from the time March had left her with Miss Triscoe when he went with her father and the Addings and Kenby to see that church. She had had no chance to bring up these arrears until now, and she atoned to herself for the delay by making the history very full, and going back and adding touches at any point where she thought she had scanted it. After all, it consisted mainly of fragmentary intimations from Miss Triscoe and of half-uttered questions which her own art now built into a coherent statement.
March could not find that the general had much resented Burnamy's clandestine visit to Carlsbad when his daughter told him of it, or that he had done more than make her promise that she would not keep up the acquaintance upon any terms unknown to him.
"Probably," Mrs. March said, "as long as he had any hopes of Mrs. Adding, he was a little too self-conscious to be very up and down about Burnamy."
"Then you think he was really serious about her?"
"Now my dear! He was so serious that I suppose he was never so completely taken aback in his life as when he met Kenby in Wurzburg and saw how she received him. Of course, that put an end to the fight."
"Yes—that Mrs. Adding and Agatha were keeping up to prevent his offering himself."
"Oh! And how do you know that they were keeping up the fight together?"
"How do I? Didn't you see yourself what friends they were? Did you tell him what Stoller had, said about Burnamy?"
"I had no chance. I don't know that I should have done it, anyway. It wasn't my affair."
"Well, then, I think you might. It would have been everything for that poor child; it would have completely justified her in her own eyes."
"Perhaps your telling her will serve the same purpose."
"Yes, I did tell her, and I am glad of it. She had a right to know it."
"Did she think Stoller's willingness to overlook Burnamy's performance had anything to do with its moral quality?"
Mrs. March was daunted for the moment, but she said, "I told her you thought that if a person owned to a fault they disowned it, and put it away from them just as if it had never been committed; and that if a person had taken their punishment for a wrong they had done, they had expiated it so far as anybody else was concerned. And hasn't poor Burnamy done both?"
As a moralist March was flattered to be hoist with his own petard, but as a husband he was not going to come down at once. "I thought probably you had told her that. You had it pat from having just been over it with me. When has she heard from him?"
"Why, that's the strangest thing about it. She hasn't heard at all. She doesn't know where he is. She thought we must know. She was terribly broken up."
"How did she show it?"
"She didn't show it. Either you want to tease, or you've forgotten how such things are with young people—or at least girls."
"Yes, it's all a long time ago with me, and I never was a girl. Besides, the frank and direct behavior of Kenby and Mrs. Adding has been very obliterating to my early impressions of love-making."
"It certainly hasn't been ideal," said Mrs. March with a sigh.
"Why hasn't it been ideal?" he asked. "Kenby is tremendously in love with her; and I believe she's had a fancy for him from the beginning. If it hadn't been for Rose she would have accepted him at once; and now he's essential to them both in their helplessness. As for Papa Triscoe and his Europeanized scruples, if they have any reality at all they're the residuum of his personal resentment, and Kenby and Mrs. Adding have nothing to do with their unreality. His being in love with her is no reason why he shouldn't be helpful to her when she needs him, and every reason why he should. I call it a poem, such as very few people have the luck to live out together."
Mrs. March listened with mounting fervor, and when he stopped, she cried out, "Well, my dear, I do believe you are right! It is ideal, as you say; it's a perfect poem. And I shall always say—"
She stopped at the mocking light which she caught in his look, and perceived that he had been amusing himself with her perennial enthusiasm for all sorts of love-affairs. But she averred that she did not care; what he had said was true, and she should always hold him to it.
They were again in the wedding-journey sentiment in which they had left Carlsbad, when they found themselves alone together after their escape from the pressure of others' interests. The tide of travel was towards Frankfort, where the grand parade was to take place some days later. They were going to Weimar, which was so few hours out of their way that they simply must not miss it; and all the way to the old literary capital they were alone in their compartment, with not even a stranger, much less a friend to molest them. The flying landscape without was of their own early autumnal mood, and when the vineyards of Wurzburg ceased to purple it, the heavy after-math of hay and clover, which men, women, and children were loading on heavy wains, and driving from the meadows everywhere, offered a pastoral and pleasing change. It was always the German landscape; sometimes flat and fertile, sometimes hilly and poor; often clothed with dense woods, but always charming, with castled tops in ruin or repair, and with levels where Gothic villages drowsed within their walls, and dreamed of the mediaeval past, silent, without apparent life, except for some little goose-girl driving her flock before her as she sallied out into the nineteenth century in search of fresh pasturage.
As their train mounted among the Thuringian uplands they were aware of a finer, cooler air through their open window. The torrents foamed white out of the black forests of fir and pine, and brawled along the valleys, where the hamlets roused themselves in momentary curiosity as the train roared into them from the many tunnels. The afternoon sunshine had the glister of mountain sunshine everywhere, and the travellers had a pleasant bewilderment in which their memories of Switzerland and the White Mountains mixed with long-dormant emotions from Adirondack sojourns. They chose this place and that in the lovely region where they lamented that they had not come at once for the after-cure, and they appointed enough returns to it in future years to consume all the summers they had left to live.
It was falling night when they reached Weimar, where they found at the station a provision of omnibuses far beyond the hotel accommodations. They drove first to the Crown-Prince, which was in a promising state of reparation, but which for the present could only welcome them to an apartment where a canvas curtain cut them off from a freshly plastered wall. The landlord deplored the fact, and sent hospitably out to try and place them at the Elephant. But the Elephant was full, and the Russian Court was full too. Then the landlord of the Crown-Prince bethought himself of a new hotel, of the second class, indeed, but very nice, where they might get rooms, and after the delay of an hour, they got a carriage and drove away from the Crown-Prince, where the landlord continued to the last as benevolent as if they had been a profit instead of a loss to him.
The streets of the town at nine o'clock were empty and quiet, and they instantly felt the academic quality of the place. Through the pale night they could see that the architecture was of the classic sentiment which they were destined to feel more and more; at one point they caught a fleeting glimpse of two figures with clasped hands and half embraced, which they knew for the statues of Goethe and Schiller; and when they mounted to their rooms at the Grand-Duke of Saxe-Weimar, they passed under a fresco representing Goethe and four other world-famous poets, Shakspere, Milton, Tasso, and Schiller. The poets all looked like Germans, as was just, and Goethe was naturally chief among them; he marshalled the immortals on their way, and Schiller brought up the rear and kept them from going astray in an Elysium where they did not speak the language. For the rest, the hotel was brand-new, of a quite American freshness, and was pervaded by a sweet smell as of straw matting, and provided with steam-radiators. In the sense of its homelikeness the Marches boasted that they were never going away from it.
In the morning they discovered that their windows looked out on the grand-ducal museum, with a gardened space before and below its classicistic bulk, where, in a whim of the weather, the gay flowers were full of sun. In a pleasant illusion of taking it unawares, March strolled up through the town; but Weimar was as much awake at that hour as at any of the twenty-four, and the tranquillity of its streets, where he encountered a few passers several blocks apart, was their habitual mood. He came promptly upon two objects which he would willingly have shunned: a 'denkmal' of the Franco-German war, not so furiously bad as most German monuments, but antipathetic and uninteresting, as all patriotic monuments are; and a woman-and-dog team. In the shock from this he was sensible that he had not seen any woman-and-dog teams for some time, and he wondered by what civic or ethnic influences their distribution was so controlled that they should have abounded in Hamburg, Leipsic, and Carlsbad, and wholly ceased in Nuremberg, Ansbach, and Wurzburg, to reappear again in Weimar, though they seemed as characteristic of all Germany as the ugly denkmals to her victories over France.
The Goethe and Schiller monument which he had glimpsed the night before was characteristic too, but less offensively so. German statues at the best are conscious; and the poet-pair, as the inscription calls them, have the air of showily confronting posterity with their clasped hands, and of being only partially rapt from the spectators. But they were more unconscious than any other German statues that March had seen, and he quelled a desire to ask Goethe, as he stood with his hand on Schiller's shoulder, and looked serenely into space far above one of the typical equipages of his country, what he thought of that sort of thing. But upon reflection he did not know why Goethe should be held personally responsible for the existence of the woman-and-dog team. He felt that he might more reasonably attribute to his taste the prevalence of classic profiles which he began to note in the Weimar populace. This could be a sympathetic effect of that passion for the antique which the poet brought back with him from his sojourn in Italy; though many of the people, especially the children, were bow-legged. Perhaps the antique had: begun in their faces, and had not yet got down to their legs; in any case they were charming children, and as a test of their culture, he had a mind to ask a little girl if she could tell him where the statue of Herder was, which he thought he might as well take in on his ramble, and so be done with as many statues as he could. She answered with a pretty regret in her tender voice, "That I truly cannot," and he was more satisfied than if she could, for he thought it better to be a child and honest, than to know where any German statue was.
He easily found it for himself in the place which is called the Herder Platz after it. He went into the Peter and Paul Church there; where Herder used to preach sermons, sometimes not at all liked by the nobility and gentry for their revolutionary tendency; the sovereign was shielded from the worst effects of his doctrine by worshipping apart from other sinners in a glazed gallery. Herder is buried in the church, and when you ask where, the sacristan lifts a wooden trap-door in the pavement, and you think you are going down into the crypt, but you are only to see Herder's monumental stone, which is kept covered so to save it from passing feet. Here also is the greatest picture of that great soul Luke Kranach, who had sincerity enough in his paining to atone for all the swelling German sculptures in the world. It is a crucifixion, and the cross is of a white birch log, such as might have been cut out of the Weimar woods, shaved smooth on the sides, with the bark showing at the edges. Kranach has put himself among the spectators, and a stream of blood from the side of the Savior falls in baptism upon the painter's head. He is in the company of John the Baptist and Martin Luther; Luther stands with his Bible open, and his finger on the line, "The blood of Jesus cleanseth us."
Partly because he felt guilty at doing all these things without his wife, and partly because he was now very hungry, March turned from them and got back to his hotel, where she was looking out for him from their open window. She had the air of being long domesticated there, as she laughed down at seeing him come; and the continued brilliancy of the weather added to the illusion of home.
It was like a day of late spring in Italy or America; the sun in that gardened hollow before the museum was already hot enough to make him glad of the shelter of the hotel. The summer seemed to have come back to oblige them, and when they learned that they were to see Weimar in a festive mood because this was Sedan Day, their curiosity, if not their sympathy, accepted the chance gratefully. But they were almost moved to wish that the war had gone otherwise when they learned that all the public carriages were engaged, and they must have one from a stable if they wished to drive after breakfast. Still it was offered them for such a modest number of marks, and their driver proved so friendly and conversable, that they assented to the course of history, and were more and more reconciled as they bowled along through the grand-ducal park beside the waters of the classic Ilm.
The waters of the classic Ilm are sluggish and slimy in places, and in places clear and brooklike, but always a dull dark green in color. They flow in the shadow of pensive trees, and by the brinks of sunny meadows, where the after-math wanders in heavy windrows, and the children sport joyously over the smooth-mown surfaces in all the freedom that there is in Germany. At last, after immemorial appropriation the owners of the earth are everywhere expropriated, and the people come into the pleasure if not the profit of it. At last, the prince, the knight, the noble finds, as in his turn the plutocrat will find, that his property is not for him, but for all; and that the nation is to enjoy what he takes from it and vainly thinks to keep from it. Parks, pleasaunces, gardens, set apart for kings, are the play-grounds of the landless poor in the Old World, and perhaps yield the sweetest joy of privilege to some state-sick ruler, some world-weary princess, some lonely child born to the solitude of sovereignty, as they each look down from their palace windows upon the leisure of overwork taking its little holiday amidst beauty vainly created for the perpetual festival of their empty lives.
March smiled to think that in this very Weimar, where sovereignty had graced and ennobled itself as nowhere else in the world by the companionship of letters and the arts, they still were not hurrying first to see the palace of a prince, but were involuntarily making it second to the cottage of a poet. But in fact it is Goethe who is forever the prince in Weimar. His greatness blots out its history, his name fills the city; the thought of him is its chiefest imitation and largest hospitality. The travellers remembered, above all other facts of the grand-ducal park, that it was there he first met Christiane Vulpius, beautiful and young, when he too was beautiful and young, and took her home to be his love, to the just and lasting displeasure of Fran von Stein, who was even less reconciled when, after eighteen years of due reflection, the love of Goethe and Christiane became their marriage. They, wondered just where it was he saw the young girl coming to meet him as the Grand-Duke's minister with an office-seeking petition from her brother, Goethe's brother author, long famed and long forgotten for his romantic tale of "Rinaldo Rinaldini."
They had indeed no great mind, in their American respectability, for that rather matter-of-fact and deliberate liaison, and little as their sympathy was for the passionless intellectual intrigue with the Frau von Stein, it cast no halo of sentiment about the Goethe cottage to suppose that there his love-life with Christiane began. Mrs. March even resented the fact, and when she learned later that it was not the fact at all, she removed it from her associations with the pretty place almost indignantly.
In spite of our facile and multiple divorces we Americans are worshipers of marriage, and if a great poet, the minister of a prince, is going to marry a poor girl, we think he had better not wait till their son is almost of age. Mrs. March would not accept as extenuating circumstances the Grand-Duke's godfatherhood, or Goethe's open constancy to Christiane, or the tardy consecration of their union after the French sack of, Weimar, when the girl's devotion had saved him from the rudeness of the marauding soldiers. For her New England soul there were no degrees in such guilt; and, perhaps there are really not so many as people have tried to think, in their deference to Goethe's greatness. But certainly the affair was not so simple for a grand-ducal minister of world-wide renown, and he might well have felt its difficulties, for he could not have been proof against the censorious public opinion of Weimar, or the yet more censorious private opinion of Fran von Stein.
On that lovely Italo-American morning no ghost of these old dead embarrassments lingered within or without the Goethe garden-house. The trees which the poet himself planted flung a sun-shot shadow upon it, and about its feet basked a garden of simple flowers, from which the sweet lame girl who limped through the rooms and showed them, gathered a parting nosegay for her visitors. The few small livingrooms were above the ground-floor, with kitchen and offices below in the Italian fashion; in one of the little chambers was the camp-bed which Goethe carried with him on his journeys through Italy; and in the larger room at the front stood the desk where he wrote, with the chair before it from which he might just have risen.
All was much more livingly conscious of the great man gone than the proud little palace in the town, which so abounds with relics and memorials of him. His library, his study, his study table, with everything on it just as he left it when
"Cadde la stanca mana."
are there, and there is the death-chair facing the window, from which he gasped for "more light" at last. The handsome, well-arranged rooms are full of souvenirs of his travel, and of that passion for Italy which he did so much to impart to all German hearts, and whose modern waning leaves its records here of an interest pathetically, almost amusingly, faded. They intimate the classic temper to which his mind tended more and more, and amidst the multitude of sculptures, pictures, prints, drawings, gems, medals, autographs, there is the sense of the many- mindedness, the universal taste, for which he found room in little Weimar, but not in his contemporaneous Germany. But it is all less keenly personal, less intimate than the simple garden-house, or else, with the great troop of people going through it, and the custodians lecturing in various voices and languages to the attendant groups, the Marches had it less to themselves, and so imagined him less in it.
All palaces have a character of tiresome unlivableness which is common to them everywhere, and very probably if one could meet their proprietors in them one would as little remember them apart afterwards as the palaces themselves. It will not do to lift either houses or men far out of the average; they become spectacles, ceremonies; they cease to have charm, to have character, which belong to the levels of life, where alone there are ease and comfort, and human nature may be itself, with all the little delightful differences repressed in those who represent and typify.
As they followed the custodian through the grand-ducal Residenz at Weimar, March felt everywhere the strong wish of the prince who was Goethe's friend to ally himself with literature, and to be human at least in the humanities. He came honestly by his passion for poets; his mother had known it in her time, and Weimar was the home of Wieland and of Herder before the young Grand-Duke came back from his travels bringing Goethe with him, and afterwards attracting Schiller. The story of that great epoch is all there in the Residenz, told as articulately as a palace can.
There are certain Poets' Rooms, frescoed with illustrations of Goethe, Schiller, and Wieland; there is the room where Goethe and the Grand-Duke used to play chess together; there is the conservatory opening from it where they liked to sit and chat; everywhere in the pictures and sculptures, the engraving and intaglios, are the witnesses of the tastes they shared, the love they both had for Italy, and for beautiful Italian things. The prince was not so great a prince but that he could very nearly be a man; the court was perhaps the most human court that ever was; the Grand-Duke and the grand poet were first boon companions, and then monarch and minister working together for the good of the country; they were always friends, and yet, as the American saw in the light of the New World, which he carried with him, how far from friends! At best it was make-believe, the make-believe of superiority and inferiority, the make-believe of master and man, which could only be the more painful and ghastly for the endeavor of two generous spirits to reach and rescue each other through the asphyxiating unreality; but they kept up the show of equality faithfully to the end. Goethe was born citizen of a free republic, and his youth was nurtured in the traditions of liberty; he was one of the greatest souls of any time, and he must have known the impossibility of the thing they pretended; but he died and made no sign, and the poet's friendship with the prince has passed smoothly into history as one of the things that might really be. They worked and played together; they dined and danced, they picnicked and poetized, each on his own side of the impassable gulf; with an air of its not being there which probably did not deceive their contemporaries so much as posterity.
A part of the palace was of course undergoing repair; and in the gallery beyond the conservatory a company of workmen were sitting at a table where they had spread their luncheon. They were somewhat subdued by the consciousness of their august environment; but the sight of them was charming; they gave a kindly interest to the place which it had wanted before; and which the Marches felt again in another palace where the custodian showed them the little tin dishes and saucepans which the German Empress Augusta and her sisters played with when they were children. The sight of these was more affecting even than the withered wreaths which they had left on the death-bed of their mother, and which are still mouldering there.
This was in the Belvedere, the country house on the height overlooking Weimar, where the grand-ducal family spend the month of May, and where the stranger finds himself amid overwhelming associations of Goethe, although the place is so full of relics and memorials of the owners. It seemed in fact to be a storehouse for the wedding-presents of the whole connection, which were on show in every room; Mrs. March hardly knew whether they heightened the domestic effect or took from it; but they enabled her to verify with the custodian's help certain royal intermarriages which she had been in doubt about before.
Her zeal for these made such favor with him that he did not spare them a portrait of all those which March hoped to escape; he passed them over, scarcely able to stand, to the gardener, who was to show them the open- air theatre where Goethe used to take part in the plays.
The Natur-Theater was of a classic ideal, realized in the trained vines and clipped trees which formed the coulisses. There was a grassy space for the chorus and the commoner audience, and then a few semicircular gradines cut in the turf, one alcove another, where the more honored spectators sat. Behind the seats were plinths bearing the busts of Goethe, Schiller, Wieland, and Herder. It was all very pretty, and if ever the weather in Weimar was dry enough to permit a performance, it must have been charming to see a play in that open day to which the drama is native, though in the late hours it now keeps in the thick air of modern theatres it has long forgotten the fact. It would be difficult to be Greek under a German sky, even when it was not actually raining, but March held that with Goethe's help it might have been done at Weimar, and his wife and he proved themselves such enthusiasts for the Natur-Theater that the walnut-faced old gardener who showed it put together a sheaf of the flowers that grew nearest it and gave them to Mrs. March for a souvenir.
They went for a cup of tea to the cafe which looks, as from another eyebrow of the hill, out over lovely little Weimar in the plain below. In a moment of sunshine the prospect was very smiling; but their spirits sank over their tea when it came; they were at least sorry they had not asked for coffee. Most of the people about them were taking beer, including the pretty girls of a young ladies' school, who were there with their books and needle-work, in the care of one of the teachers, apparently for the afternoon.
Mrs. March perceived that they were not so much engaged with their books or their needle-work but they had eyes for other things, and she followed the glances of the girls till they rested upon the people at a table somewhat obliquely to the left. These were apparently a mother and daughter, and they were listening to a young man who sat with his back to Mrs. March, and leaned low over the table talking to them. They were both smiling radiantly, and as the girl smiled she kept turning herself from the waist up, and slanting her face from this side to that, as if to make sure that every one saw her smiling.
Mrs. March felt her husband's gaze following her own, and she had just time to press her finger firmly on his arm and reduce his cry of astonishment to the hoarse whisper in which he gasped, "Good gracious! It's the pivotal girl!"
At the same moment the girl rose with her mother, and with the young man, who had risen too, came directly toward the Marches on their way out of the place without noticing them, though Burnamy passed so near that Mrs. March could almost have touched him.
She had just strength to say, "Well, my dear! That was the cut direct."
She said this in order to have her husband reassure her. "Nonsense! He never saw us. Why didn't you speak to him?"
"Speak to him? I never shall speak to him again. No! This is the last of Mr. Burnamy for me. I shouldn't have minded his not recognizing us, for, as you say, I don't believe he saw us; but if he could go back to such a girl as that, and flirt with her, after Miss Triscoe, that's all I wish to know of him. Don't you try to look him up, Basil! I'm glad- yes, I'm glad he doesn't know how Stoller has come to feel about him; he deserves to suffer, and I hope he'll keep on suffering: You were quite right, my dear—and it shows how true your instinct is in such things (I don't call it more than instinct)—not to tell him what Stoller said, and I don't want you ever should."
She had risen in her excitement, and was making off in such haste that she would hardly give him time to pay for their tea, as she pulled him impatiently to their carriage.
At last he got a chance to say, "I don't think I can quite promise that; my mind's been veering round in the other direction. I think I shall tell him."
"What! After you've seen him flirting with that girl? Very well, then, you won't, my dear; that's all! He's behaving very basely to Agatha."
"What's his flirtation with all the girls in the universe to do with my duty to him? He has a right to know what Stoller thinks. And as to his behaving badly toward Miss Triscoe, how has he done it? So far as you know, there is nothing whatever between them. She either refused him outright, that last night in Carlsbad, or else she made impossible conditions with him. Burnamy is simply consoling himself, and I don't blame him."
"Consoling himself with a pivotal girl!" cried Mrs. March.
"Yes, with a pivotal girl. Her pivotality may be a nervous idiosyncrasy, or it may be the effect of tight lacing; perhaps she has to keep turning and twisting that way to get breath. But attribute the worst motive: say it is to make people look at her! Well, Burnamy has a right to look with the rest; and I am not going to renounce him because he takes refuge with one pretty girl from another. It's what men have been doing from the beginning of time."
"Oh, I dare say!"
"Men," he went on, "are very delicately constituted; very peculiarly. They have been known to seek the society of girls in general, of any girl, because some girl has made them happy; and when some girl has made them unhappy, they are still more susceptible. Burnamy may be merely amusing himself, or he may be consoling himself; but in either case I think the pivotal girl has as much right to him as Miss Triscoe. She had him first; and I'm all for her."
Burnamy came away from seeing the pivotal girl and her mother off on the train which they were taking that evening for Frankfort and Hombourg, and strolled back through the Weimar streets little at ease with himself. While he was with the girl and near her he had felt the attraction by which youth impersonally draws youth, the charm which mere maid has for mere man; but once beyond the range of this he felt sick at heart and ashamed. He was aware of having used her folly as an anodyne for the pain which was always gnawing at him, and he had managed to forget it in her folly, but now it came back, and the sense that he had been reckless of her rights came with it. He had done his best to make her think him in love with her, by everything but words; he wondered how he could be such an ass, such a wicked ass, as to try making her promise to write to him from Frankfort; he wished never to see her again, and he wished still less to hear from her. It was some comfort to reflect that she had not promised, but it was not comfort enough to restore him to such fragmentary self-respect as he had been enjoying since he parted with Agatha Triscoe in Carlsbad; he could not even get back to the resentment with which he had been staying himself somewhat before the pivotal girl unexpectedly appeared with her mother in Weimar.
It was Sedan Day, but there was apparently no official observance of the holiday, perhaps because the Grand-Duke was away at the manoeuvres, with all the other German princes. Burnamy had hoped for some voluntary excitement among the people, at least enough to warrant him in making a paper about Sedan Day in Weimar, which he could sell somewhere; but the night was falling, and there was still no sign of popular rejoicing over the French humiliation twenty-eight years before, except in the multitude of Japanese lanterns which the children were everywhere carrying at the ends of sticks. Babies had them in their carriages, and the effect of the floating lights in the winding, up-and-down-hill streets was charming even to Burnamy's lack-lustre eyes. He went by his hotel and on to a cafe with a garden, where there was a patriotic, concert promised; he supped there, and then sat dreamily behind his beer, while the music banged and brayed round him unheeded.
Presently he heard a voice of friendly banter saying in English, "May I sit at your table?" and he saw an ironical face looking down on him. "There doesn't seem any other place."
"Why, Mr. March!" Burnamy sprang up and wrung the hand held out to him, but he choked with his words of recognition; it was so good to see this faithful friend again, though he saw him now as he had seen him last, just when he had so little reason to be proud of himself.
March settled his person in the chair facing Burnamy, and then glanced round at the joyful jam of people eating and drinking, under a firmament of lanterns. "This is pretty," he said, "mighty pretty. I shall make Mrs. March sorry for not coming, when I go back."
"Is Mrs. March—she is—with you—in Weimar?" Burnamy asked stupidly.
March forbore to take advantage of him. "Oh, yes. We saw you out at Belvedere this afternoon. Mrs. March thought for a moment that you meant not to see us. A woman likes to exercise her imagination in those little flights."
"I never dreamed of your being there—I never saw—" Burnamy began.
"Of course not. Neither did Mrs. Etkins, nor Miss Etkins; she was looking very pretty. Have you been here some time?"
"Not long. A week or so. I've been at the parade at Wurzburg."
"At Wurzburg! Ah, how little the world is, or how large Wurzburg is! We were there nearly a week, and we pervaded the place. But there was a great crowd for you to hide in from us. What had I better take?" A waiter had come up, and was standing at March's elbow. "I suppose I mustn't sit here without ordering something?"
"White wine and selters," said Burnamy vaguely.
"The very thing! Why didn't I think of it? It's a divine drink: it satisfies without filling. I had it a night or two before we left home, in the Madison Square Roof Garden. Have you seen 'Every Other Week' lately?"
"No," said Burnamy, with more spirit than he had yet shown.
"We've just got our mail from Nuremberg. The last number has a poem in it that I rather like." March laughed to see the young fellow's face light up with joyful consciousness. "Come round to my hotel, after you're tired here, and I'll let you see it. There's no hurry. Did you notice the little children with their lanterns, as you came along? It's the gentlest effect that a warlike memory ever came to. The French themselves couldn't have minded those innocents carrying those soft lights on the day of their disaster. You ought to get something out of that, and I've got a subject in trust for you from Rose Adding. He and his mother were at Wurzburg; I'm sorry to say the poor little chap didn't seem very well. They've gone to Holland for the sea air." March had been talking for quantity in compassion of the embarrassment in which Burnamy seemed bound; but he questioned how far he ought to bring comfort to the young fellow merely because he liked him. So far as he could make out, Burnamy had been doing rather less than nothing to retrieve himself since they had met; and it was by an impulse that he could not have logically defended to Mrs. March that he resumed. "We found another friend of yours in Wurzburg: Mr. Stoller."
"Mr. Stoller?" Burnamy faintly echoed.
"Yes; he was there to give his daughters a holiday during the manoeuvres; and they made the most of it. He wanted us to go to the parade with his family but we declined. The twins were pretty nearly the death of General Triscoe."
Again Burnamy echoed him. "General Triscoe?"
"Ah, yes: I didn't tell you. General Triscoe and his daughter had come on with Mrs. Adding and Rose. Kenby—you remember Kenby, On the Norumbia?—Kenby happened to be there, too; we were quite a family party; and Stoller got the general to drive out to the manoeuvres with him and his girls."
Now that he was launched, March rather enjoyed letting himself go. He did not know what he should say to Mrs. March when he came to confess having told Burnamy everything before she got a chance at him; he pushed on recklessly, upon the principle, which probably will not hold in morals, that one may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. "I have a message for you from Mr. Stoller."
"For me?" Burnamy gasped.
"I've been wondering how I should put it, for I hadn't expected to see you. But it's simply this: he wants you to know—and he seemed to want me to know—that he doesn't hold you accountable in the way he did. He's thought it all over, and he's decided that he had no right to expect you to save him from his own ignorance where he was making a show of knowledge. As he said, he doesn't choose to plead the baby act. He says that you're all right, and your place on the paper is open to you."
Burnamy had not been very prompt before, but now he seemed braced for instant response. "I think he's wrong," he said, so harshly that the people at the next table looked round. "His feeling as he does has nothing to do with the fact, and it doesn't let me out."
March would have liked to take him in his arms; he merely said, "I think you're quite right, as to that. But there's such a thing as forgiveness, you know. It doesn't change the nature of what you've done; but as far as the sufferer from it is concerned, it annuls it."
"Yes, I understand that. But I can't accept his forgiveness if I hate him."
"But perhaps you won't always hate him. Some day you may have a chance to do him a good turn. It's rather banale; but there doesn't seem any other way. Well, I have given you his message. Are you going with me to get that poem?"
When March had given Burnamy the paper at his hotel, and Burnamy had put it in his pocket, the young man said he thought he would take some coffee, and he asked March to join him in the dining-room where they had stood talking.
"No, thank you," said the elder, "I don't propose sitting up all night, and you'll excuse me if I go to bed now. It's a little informal to leave a guest—"
"You're not leaving a guest! I'm at home here. I'm staying in this hotel too."
March said, "Oh!" and then he added abruptly, "Good-night," and went up stairs under the fresco of the five poets.
"Whom were you talking with below?" asked Mrs. March through the door opening into his room from hers.
"Burnamy," he answered from within. "He's staying in this house. He let me know just as I was going to turn him out for the night. It's one of those little uncandors of his that throw suspicion on his honesty in great things."
"Oh! Then you've been telling him," she said, with a mental bound high above and far beyond the point.
"About Stoller, too?"
"About Stoller and his daughters, and Mrs. Adding and Rose and Kenby and General Triscoe—and Agatha."
"Very well. That's what I call shabby. Don't ever talk to me again about the inconsistencies of women. But now there's something perfectly fearful."
"What is it?"
"A letter from Miss Triscoe came after you were gone, asking us to find rooms in some hotel for her and her father to-morrow. He isn't well, and they're coming. And I've telegraphed them to come here. Now what do you say?"
They could see no way out of the trouble, and Mrs. March could not resign herself to it till her husband suggested that she should consider it providential. This touched the lingering superstition in which she had been ancestrally taught to regard herself as a means, when in a very tight place, and to leave the responsibility with the moral government of the universe. As she now perceived, it had been the same as ordered that they should see Burnamy under such conditions in the afternoon that they could not speak to him, and hear where he was staying; and in an inferior degree it had been the same as ordered that March should see him in the evening and tell him everything, so that she should know just how to act when she saw him in the morning. If he could plausibly account for the renewal of his flirtation with Miss Elkins, or if he seemed generally worthy apart from that, she could forgive him.
It was so pleasant when he came in at breakfast with his well-remembered smile, that she did not require from him any explicit defence. While they talked she was righting herself in an undercurrent of drama with Miss Triscoe, and explaining to her that they could not possibly wait over for her and her father in Weimar, but must be off that day for Berlin, as they had made all their plans. It was not easy, even in drama where one has everything one's own way, to prove that she could not without impiety so far interfere with the course of Providence as to prevent Miss Triscoe's coming with her father to the same hotel where Burnamy was staying. She contrived, indeed, to persuade her that she had not known he was staying there when she telegraphed them where to come, and that in the absence of any open confidence from Miss Triscoe she was not obliged to suppose that his presence would be embarrassing.
March proposed leaving her with Burnamy while he went up into the town and interviewed the house of Schiller, which he had not done yet; and as soon as he got himself away she came to business, breaking altogether from the inner drama with Miss Triscoe and devoting herself to Burnamy. They had already got so far as to have mentioned the meeting with the Triscoes in Wurzburg, and she said: "Did Mr. March tell you they were coming here? Or, no! We hadn't heard then. Yes, they are coming to- morrow. They may be going to stay some time. She talked of Weimar when we first spoke of Germany on the ship." Burnamy said nothing, and she suddenly added, with a sharp glance, "They wanted us to get them rooms, and we advised their coming to this house." He started very satisfactorily, and "Do you think they would be comfortable, here?" she pursued.
"Oh, yes, very. They can have my room; it's southeast; I shall be going into other quarters." She did not say anything; and "Mrs. March," he began again, "what is the use of my beating about the bush? You must know what I went back to Carlsbad for, that night—"
"No one ever told—"
"Well, you must have made a pretty good guess. But it was a failure. I ought to have failed, and I did. She said that unless her father liked it—And apparently he hasn't liked it." Burnamy smiled ruefully.
"How do you know? She didn't know where you were!"
"She could have got word to me if she had had good news for me. They've forwarded other letters from Pupp's. But it's all right; I had no business to go back to Carlsbad. Of course you didn't know I was in this house when you told them to come; and I must clear out. I had better clear out of Weimar, too."
"No, I don't think so; I have no right to pry into your affairs, but—"
"Oh, they're wide enough open!"
"And you may have changed your mind. I thought you might, when I saw you yesterday at Belvedere—"
"I was only trying to make bad worse."
"Then I think the situation has changed entirely through what Mr. Stoller said to Mr. March."
"I can't see how it has. I committed an act of shabby treachery, and I'm as much to blame as if he still wanted to punish me for it."
"Did Mr. March say that to you?"
"No; I said that to Mr. March; and he couldn't answer it, and you can't. You're very good, and very kind, but you can't answer it."
"I can answer it very well," she boasted, but she could find nothing better to say than, "It's your duty to her to see her and let her know."
"Doesn't she know already?"
"She has a right to know it from you. I think you are morbid, Mr. Burnamy. You know very well I didn't like your doing that to Mr. Stoller. I didn't say so at the time, because you seemed to feel it enough yourself. But I did like your owning up to it," and here Mrs. March thought it time to trot out her borrowed battle-horse again. "My husband always says that if a person owns up to an error, fully and faithfully, as you've always done, they make it the same in its consequences to them as if it had never been done."
"Does Mr. March say that?" asked Burnamy with a relenting smile.
"Indeed he does!"
Burnamy hesitated; then he asked, gloomily again:
"And what about the consequences to the, other fellow?"
"A woman," said Mrs. March, "has no concern with them. And besides, I think you've done all you could to save Mr. Stoller from the consequences."
"I haven't done anything."
"No matter. You would if you could. I wonder," she broke off, to prevent his persistence at a point where her nerves were beginning to give way, "what can be keeping Mr. March?"
Nothing much more important, it appeared later, than the pleasure of sauntering through the streets on the way to the house of Schiller, and looking at the pretty children going to school, with books under their arms. It was the day for the schools to open after the long summer vacation, and there was a freshness of expectation in the shining faces which, if it could not light up his own graybeard visage, could at least touch his heart:
When he reached the Schiller house he found that it was really not the Schiller house, but the Schiller flat, of three or four rooms, one flight up, whose windows look out upon the street named after the poet. The whole place is bare and clean; in one corner of the large room fronting the street stands Schiller's writing-table, with his chair before it; with the foot extending toward this there stands, in another corner, the narrow bed on which he died; some withered wreaths on the pillow frame a picture of his deathmask, which at first glance is like his dead face lying there. It is all rather tasteless, and all rather touching, and the place with its meagre appointments, as compared with the rich Goethe house, suggests that personal competition with Goethe in which Schiller is always falling into the second place. Whether it will be finally so with him in literature it is too early to ask of time, and upon other points eternity will not be interrogated. "The great, Goethe and the good Schiller," they remain; and yet, March reasoned, there was something good in Goethe and something great, in Schiller.
He was so full of the pathos of their inequality before the world that he did not heed the warning on the door of the pastry-shop near the Schiller house, and on opening it he bedaubed his hand with the fresh paint on it. He was then in such a state, that he could not bring his mind to bear upon the question of which cakes his wife would probably prefer, and he stood helplessly holding up his hand till the good woman behind the counter discovered his plight, and uttered a loud cry of compassion. She ran and got a wet napkin, which she rubbed with soap, and then she instructed him by word and gesture to rub his hand upon it, and she did not leave him till his rescue was complete. He let her choose a variety of the cakes for him, and came away with a gay paper bag full of them, and with the feeling that he had been in more intimate relations with the life of Weimar than travellers are often privileged to be. He argued from the instant and intelligent sympathy of the pastry woman a high grade of culture in all classes; and he conceived the notion of pretending to Mrs. March that he had got these cakes from, a descendant of Schiller.
His deceit availed with her for the brief moment in which she always, after so many years' experience of his duplicity, believed anything he told her. They dined merrily together at their hotel, and then Burnamy came down to the station with them and was very comfortable to March in helping him to get their tickets and their baggage registered. The train which was to take them to Halle, where they were to change for Berlin, was rather late, and they had but ten minutes after it came in before it would start again. Mrs. March was watching impatiently at the window of the waiting-room for the dismounting passengers to clear the platform and allow the doors to be opened; suddenly she gave a cry, and turned and ran into the passage by which the new arrivals were pouring out toward the superabundant omnibuses. March and Burnamy, who had been talking apart, mechanically rushed after her and found her kissing Miss Triscoe and shaking hands with the general amidst a tempest of questions and answers, from which it appeared that the Triscoes had got tired of staying in Wurzburg, and had simply come on to Weimar a day sooner than they had intended.
The, general was rather much bundled up for a day which was mild for a German summer day, and he coughed out an explanation that he had taken an abominable cold at that ridiculous parade, and had not shaken it off yet. He had a notion that change of air would be better for him; it could not be worse.