He seemed a little vague as to Burnamy, rather than inimical. While the ladies were still talking eagerly together in proffer and acceptance of Mrs. March's lamentations that she should be going away just as Miss Triscoe was coming, he asked if the omnibus for their hotel was there. He by no means resented Burnamy's assurance that it was, and he did not refuse to let him order their baggage, little and large, loaded upon it. By the time this was done, Mrs. March and Miss Triscoe had so far detached themselves from each other that they could separate after one more formal expression of regret and forgiveness. With a lament into which she poured a world of inarticulate emotions, Mrs. March wrenched herself from the place, and suffered herself, to be pushed toward her train. But with the last long look which she cast over her shoulder, before she vanished into the waiting-room, she saw Miss Triscoe and Burnamy transacting the elaborate politenesses of amiable strangers with regard to the very small bag which the girl had in her hand. He succeeded in relieving her of it; and then he led the way out of the station on the left of the general, while Miss Triscoe brought up the rear.
From the window of the train as it drew out Mrs. March tried for a glimpse of the omnibus in which her proteges were now rolling away together. As they were quite out of sight in the omnibus, which was itself out of sight, she failed, but as she fell back against her seat she treated the recent incident with a complexity and simultaneity of which no report can give an idea. At the end one fatal conviction remained: that in everything she had said she had failed to explain to Miss Triscoe how Burnamy happened to be in Weimar and how he happened to be there with them in the station. She required March to say how she had overlooked the very things which she ought to have mentioned first, and which she had on the point of her tongue the whole time. She went over the entire ground again to see if she could discover the reason why she had made such an unaccountable break, and it appeared that she was led to it by his rushing after her with Burnamy before she had had a chance to say a word about him; of course she could not say anything in his presence. This gave her some comfort, and there was consolation in the fact that she had left them together without the least intention or connivance, and now, no matter what happened, she could not accuse herself, and he could not accuse her of match-making.
He said that his own sense of guilt was so great that he should not dream of accusing her of anything except of regret that now she could never claim the credit of bringing the lovers together under circumstances so favorable. As soon as they were engaged they could join in renouncing her with a good conscience, and they would probably make this the basis of their efforts to propitiate the general.
She said she did not care, and with the mere removal of the lovers in space, her interest in them began to abate. They began to be of a minor importance in the anxieties of the change of trains at Halle, and in the excitement of settling into the express from Frankfort there were moments when they were altogether forgotten. The car was of almost American length, and it ran with almost American smoothness; when the conductor came and collected an extra fare for their seats, the Marches felt that if the charge had been two dollars instead of two marks they would have had every advantage of American travel.
On the way to Berlin the country was now fertile and flat, and now sterile and flat; near the capital the level sandy waste spread almost to its gates. The train ran quickly through the narrow fringe of suburbs, and then they were in one of those vast Continental stations which put our outdated depots to shame. The good 'traeger' who took possession of them and their hand-bags, put their boxes on a baggage-bearing drosky, and then got them another drosky for their personal transportation. This was a drosky of the first-class, but they would not have thought it so, either from the vehicle itself, or from the appearance of the driver and his horses. The public carriages of Germany are the shabbiest in the world; at Berlin the horses look like old hair trunks and the drivers like their moth-eaten contents.
The Marches got no splendor for the two prices they paid, and their approach to their hotel on Unter den Linden was as unimpressive as the ignoble avenue itself. It was a moist, cold evening, and the mean, tiresome street, slopped and splashed under its two rows of small trees, to which the thinning leaves clung like wet rags, between long lines of shops and hotels which had neither the grace of Paris nor the grandiosity of New York. March quoted in bitter derision:
"Bees, bees, was it your hydromel, Under the Lindens?"
and his wife said that if Commonwealth Avenue in Boston could be imagined with its trees and without their beauty, flanked by the architecture of Sixth Avenue, with dashes of the west side of Union Square, that would be the famous Unter den Linden, where she had so resolutely decided that they would stay while in Berlin.
They had agreed upon the hotel, and neither could blame the other because it proved second-rate in everything but its charges. They ate a poorish table d'hote dinner in such low spirits that March had no heart to get a rise from his wife by calling her notice to the mouse which fed upon the crumbs about their feet while they dined. Their English-speaking waiter said that it was a very warm evening, and they never knew whether this was because he was a humorist, or because he was lonely and wished to talk, or because it really was a warm evening, for Berlin. When they had finished, they went out and drove about the greater part of the evening looking for another hotel, whose first requisite should be that it was not on Unter den Linden. What mainly determined Mrs. March in favor of the large, handsome, impersonal place they fixed upon was the fact that it was equipped for steam-heating; what determined March was the fact that it had a passenger-office where when he wished to leave, he could buy his railroad tickets and have his baggage checked without the maddening anxiety, of doing it at the station. But it was precisely in these points that the hotel which admirably fulfilled its other functions fell short. The weather made a succession of efforts throughout their stay to clear up cold; it merely grew colder without clearing up, but this seemed to offer no suggestion of steam for heating their bleak apartment and the chilly corridors to the management. With the help of a large lamp which they kept burning night and day they got the temperature of their rooms up to sixty; there was neither stove nor fireplace, the cold electric bulbs diffused a frosty glare; and in the vast, stately dining-room with its vaulted roof, there was nothing to warm them but their plates, and the handles of their knives and forks, which, by a mysterious inspiration, were always hot. When they were ready to go, March experienced from the apathy of the baggage clerk and the reluctance of the porters a more piercing distress than any he had known at the railroad stations; and one luckless valise which he ordered sent after him by express reached his bankers in Paris a fortnight overdue, with an accumulation of charges upon it outvaluing the books which it contained.
But these were minor defects in an establishment which had many merits, and was mainly of the temperament and intention of the large English railroad hotels. They looked from their windows down into a gardened square, peopled with a full share of the superabounding statues of Berlin and frequented by babies and nurse maids who seemed not to mind the cold any more than the stone kings and generals. The aspect of this square, like the excellent cooking of the hotel and the architecture of the imperial capital, suggested the superior civilization of Paris. Even the rows of gray houses and private palaces of Berlin are in the French taste, which is the only taste there is in Berlin. The suggestion of Paris is constant, but it is of Paris in exile, and without the chic which the city wears in its native air. The crowd lacks this as much as the architecture and the sculpture; there is no distinction among the men except for now and then a military figure, and among the women no style such as relieves the commonplace rash of the New York streets. The Berliners are plain and ill dressed, both men and women, and even the little children are plain. Every one is ill dressed, but no one is ragged, and among the undersized homely folk of the lower classes there is no such poverty-stricken shabbiness as shocks and insults the sight in New York. That which distinctly recalls our metropolis is the lofty passage of the elevated trains intersecting the prospectives of many streets; but in Berlin the elevated road is carried on massive brick archways and not lifted upon gay, crazy iron ladders like ours.
When you look away from this, and regard Berlin on its aesthetic, side you are again in that banished Paris, whose captive art-soul is made to serve, so far as it may be enslaved to such an effect, in the celebration of the German triumph over France. Berlin has never the presence of a great capital, however, in spite of its perpetual monumental insistence. There is no streaming movement in broad vistas; the dull looking population moves sluggishly; there is no show of fine equipages. The prevailing tone of the city and the sky is gray; but under the cloudy heaven there is no responsive Gothic solemnity in the architecture. There are hints of the older German cities in some of the remote and observe streets, but otherwise all is as new as Boston, which in fact the actual Berlin hardly antedates.
There are easily more statues in Berlin than in any other city in the world, but they only unite in failing to give Berlin an artistic air. They stand in long rows on the cornices; they crowd the pediments; they poise on one leg above domes and arches; they shelter themselves in niches; they ride about on horseback; they sit or lounge on street corners or in garden walks; all with a mediocrity in the older sort which fails of any impression. If they were only furiously baroque they would be something, and it may be from a sense of this that there is a self- assertion in the recent sculptures, which are always patriotic, more noisy and bragging than anything else in perennial brass. This offensive art is the modern Prussian avatar of the old German romantic spirit, and bears the same relation to it that modern romanticism in literature bears to romance. It finds its apotheosis in the monument to Kaiser Wilhelm I., a vast incoherent group of swelling and swaggering bronze, commemorating the victory of the first Prussian Emperor in the war with the last French Emperor, and avenging the vanquished upon the victors by its ugliness. The ungainly and irrelevant assemblage of men and animals backs away from the imperial palace, and saves itself too soon from plunging over the border of a canal behind it, not far from Rauch's great statue of the great Frederic. To come to it from the simplicity and quiet of that noble work is like passing from some exquisite masterpiece of naturalistic acting to the rant and uproar of melodrama; and the Marches stood stunned and bewildered by its wild explosions.
When they could escape they found themselves so convenient to the imperial palace that they judged best to discharge at once the obligation to visit it which must otherwise weigh upon them. They entered the court without opposition from the sentinel, and joined other strangers straggling instinctively toward a waiting-room in one corner of the building, where after they had increased to some thirty, a custodian took charge of them, and led them up a series of inclined plains of brick to the state apartments. In the antechamber they found a provision of immense felt over-shoes which they were expected to put on for their passage over the waxed marquetry of the halls. These roomy slippers were designed for the accommodation of the native boots; and upon the mixed company of foreigners the effect was in the last degree humiliating. The women's skirts some what hid their disgrace, but the men were openly put to shame, and they shuffled forward with their bodies at a convenient incline like a company of snow-shoers. In the depths of his own abasement March heard a female voice behind him sighing in American accents, "To think I should be polishing up these imperial floors with my republican feet!"
The protest expressed the rebellion which he felt mounting in his own heart as they advanced through the heavily splendid rooms, in the historical order of the family portraits recording the rise of the Prussian sovereigns from Margraves to Emperors. He began to realize here the fact which grew open him more and more that imperial Germany is not the effect of a popular impulse but of a dynastic propensity. There is nothing original in the imperial palace, nothing national; it embodies and proclaims a powerful personal will, and in its adaptations of French art it appeals to no emotion in the German witness nobler than his pride in the German triumph over the French in war. March found it tiresome beyond the tiresome wont of palaces, and he gladly shook off the sense of it with his felt shoes. "Well," he confided to his wife when they were fairly out-of-doors, "if Prussia rose in the strength of silence, as Carlyle wants us to believe, she is taking it out in talk now, and tall talk."
"Yes, isn't she!" Mrs. March assented, and with a passionate desire for excess in a bad thing, which we all know at times, she looked eagerly about her for proofs of that odious militarism of the empire, which ought to have been conspicuous in the imperial capital; but possibly because the troops were nearly all away at the manoeuvres, there were hardly more in the streets than she had sometimes seen in Washington. Again the German officers signally failed to offer her any rudeness when she met them on the side-walks. There were scarcely any of them, and perhaps that might have been the reason why they were not more aggressive; but a whole company of soldiers marching carelessly up to the palace from the Brandenburg gate, without music, or so much style as our own militia often puts on, regarded her with inoffensive eyes so far as they looked at her. She declared that personally there was nothing against the Prussians; even when in uniform they were kindly and modest-looking men; it was when they got up on pedestals, in bronze or marble, that they, began to bully and to brag.
The dinner which the Marches got at a restaurant on Unter den Linden almost redeemed the avenue from the disgrace it had fallen into with them. It was, the best meal they had yet eaten in Europe, and as to fact and form was a sort of compromise between a French dinner and an English dinner which they did not hesitate to pronounce Prussian. The waiter who served it was a friendly spirit, very sensible of their intelligent appreciation of the dinner; and from him they formed a more respectful opinion of Berlin civilization than they had yet held. After the manner of strangers everywhere they judged the country they were visiting from such of its inhabitants as chance brought them in contact with; and it would really be a good thing for nations that wish to stand well with the world at large to look carefully to the behavior of its cabmen and car conductors, its hotel clerks and waiters, its theatre-ticket sellers and ushers, its policemen and sacristans, its landlords and salesmen; for by these rather than by its society women and its statesmen and divines, is it really judged in the books of travellers; some attention also should be paid to the weather, if the climate is to be praised. In the railroad cafe at Potsdam there was a waiter so rude to the Marches that if they had not been people of great strength of character he would have undone the favorable impression the soldiers and civilians of Berlin generally had been at such pains to produce in them; and throughout the week of early September which they passed there, it rained so much and so bitterly, it was so wet and so cold, that they might have come away thinking it's the worst climate in the world, if it had not been for a man whom they saw in one of the public gardens pouring a heavy stream from his garden hose upon the shrubbery already soaked and shuddering in the cold. But this convinced them that they were suffering from weather and not from the climate, which must really be hot and dry; and they went home to their hotel and sat contentedly down in a temperature of sixty degrees. The weather, was not always so bad; one day it was dry cold instead of wet cold, with rough, rusty clouds breaking a blue sky; another day, up to eleven in the forenoon, it was like Indian summer; then it changed to a harsh November air; and then it relented and ended so mildly, that they hired chairs in the place before the imperial palace for five pfennigs each, and sat watching the life before them. Motherly women-folk were there knitting; two American girls in chairs near them chatted together; some fine equipages, the only ones they saw in Berlin, went by; a dog and a man (the wife who ought to have been in harness was probably sick, and the poor fellow was forced to take her place)passed dragging a cart; some schoolboys who had hung their satchels upon the low railing were playing about the base of the statue of King William III. in the joyous freedom of German childhood.
They seemed the gayer for the brief moments of sunshine, but to the Americans, who were Southern by virtue of their sky, the brightness had a sense of lurking winter in it, such as they remembered feeling on a sunny day in Quebec. The blue heaven looked sad; but they agreed that it fitly roofed the bit of old feudal Berlin which forms the most ancient wing of the Schloss. This was time-blackened and rude, but at least it did not try to be French, and it overhung the Spree which winds through the city and gives it the greatest charm it has. In fact Berlin, which is otherwise so grandiose without grandeur and so severe without impressiveness, is sympathetic wherever the Spree opens it to the sky. The stream is spanned by many bridges, and bridges cannot well be unpicturesque, especially if they have statues to help them out. The Spree abounds in bridges, and it has a charming habit of slow hay-laden barges; at the landings of the little passenger-steamers which ply upon it there are cafes and summer-gardens, and these even in the inclement air of September suggested a friendly gayety.
The Marches saw it best in the tour of the elevated road in Berlin which they made in an impassioned memory of the elevated road in New York. The brick viaducts which carry this arch the Spree again and again in their course through and around the city, but with never quite such spectacular effects as our spidery tressels, achieve. The stations are pleasant, sometimes with lunch-counters and news-stands, but have not the comic- opera-chalet prettiness of ours, and are not so frequent. The road is not so smooth, the cars not so smooth-running or so swift. On the other hand they are comfortably cushioned, and they are never overcrowded. The line is at times above, at times below the houses, and at times on a level with them, alike in city and in suburbs. The train whirled out of thickly built districts, past the backs of the old houses, into outskirts thinly populated, with new houses springing up without order or continuity among the meadows and vegetable-gardens, and along the ready- made, elm-planted avenues, where wooden fences divided the vacant lots. Everywhere the city was growing out over the country, in blocks and detached edifices of limestone, sandstone, red and yellow brick, larger or smaller, of no more uniformity than our suburban dwellings, but never of their ugliness or lawless offensiveness.
In an effort for the intimate life of the country March went two successive mornings for his breakfast to the Cafe Bauer, which has some admirable wall-printings, and is the chief cafe on Unter den Linden; but on both days there were more people in the paintings than out of them. The second morning the waiter who took his order recognized him and asked, "Wie gestern?" and from this he argued an affectionate constancy in the Berliners, and a hospitable observance of the tastes of strangers. At his bankers, on the other hand, the cashier scrutinized his signature and remarked that it did not look like the signature in his letter of credit, and then he inferred a suspicious mind in the moneyed classes of Prussia; as he had not been treated with such unkind doubt by Hebrew bankers anywhere, he made a mental note that the Jews were politer than the Christians in Germany. In starting for Potsdam he asked a traeger where the Potsdam train was and the man said, "Dat train dare," and in coming back he helped a fat old lady out of the car, and she thanked him in English. From these incidents, both occurring the same day in the same place, the inference of a widespread knowledge of our language in all classes of the population was inevitable.
In this obvious and easy manner he studied contemporary civilization in the capital. He even carried his researches farther, and went one rainy afternoon to an exhibition of modern pictures in a pavilion of the Thiergarten, where from the small attendance he inferred an indifference to the arts which he would not ascribe to the weather. One evening at a summer theatre where they gave the pantomime of the 'Puppenfee' and the operetta of 'Hansel and Gretel', he observed that the greater part of the audience was composed of nice plain young girls and children, and he noted that there was no sort of evening dress; from the large number of Americans present he imagined a numerous colony in Berlin, where they mast have an instinctive sense of their co-nationality, since one of them in the stress of getting his hat and overcoat when they all came out, confidently addressed him in English. But he took stock of his impressions with his wife, and they seemed to him so few, after all, that he could not resist a painful sense of isolation in the midst of the environment.
They made a Sunday excursion to the Zoological Gardens in the Thiergarten, with a large crowd of the lower classes, but though they had a great deal of trouble in getting there by the various kinds of horsecars and electric cars, they did not feel that they had got near to the popular life. They endeavored for some sense of Berlin society by driving home in a drosky, and on the way they passed rows of beautiful houses, in French and Italian taste, fronting the deep, damp green park from the Thiergartenstrasse, in which they were confident cultivated and delightful people lived; but they remained to the last with nothing but their unsupported conjecture.
Their excursion to Potsdam was the cream of their sojourn in Berlin. They chose for it the first fair morning, and they ran out over the flat sandy plains surrounding the capital, and among the low hills surrounding Potsdam before it actually began to rain.
They wished immediately to see Sans Souci for the great Frederick's sake, and they drove through a lively shower to the palace, where they waited with a horde of twenty-five other tourists in a gusty colonnade before they were led through Voltaire's room and Frederick's death chamber.
The French philosopher comes before the Prussian prince at Sans Souci even in the palatial villa which expresses the wilful caprice of the great Frederick as few edifices have embodied the whims or tastes of their owners. The whole affair is eighteenth-century French, as the Germans conceived it. The gardened terrace from which the low, one-story building, thickly crusted with baroque sculptures, looks down into a many-colored parterre, was luxuriantly French, and sentimentally French the colonnaded front opening to a perspective of artificial ruins, with broken pillars lifting a conscious fragment of architrave against the sky. Within, all again was French in the design, the decoration and the furnishing. At that time there, was in fact no other taste, and Frederick, who despised and disused his native tongue, was resolved upon French taste even in his intimate companionship. The droll story of his coquetry with the terrible free spirit which he got from France to be his guest is vividly reanimated at Sans Souci, where one breathes the very air in which the strangely assorted companions lived, and in which they parted so soon to pursue each other with brutal annoyance on one side, and with merciless mockery on the other. Voltaire was long ago revenged upon his host for all the indignities he suffered from him in their comedy; he left deeply graven upon Frederick's fame the trace of those lacerating talons which he could strike to the quick; and it is the singular effect of this scene of their brief friendship that one feels there the pre-eminence of the wit in whatever was most important to mankind.
The rain had lifted a little and the sun shone out on the bloom of the lovely parterre where the Marches profited by a smiling moment to wander among the statues and the roses heavy with the shower. Then they walked back to their carriage and drove to the New Palace, which expresses in differing architectural terms the same subjection to an alien ideal of beauty. It is thronged without by delightfully preposterous rococco statues, and within it is rich in all those curiosities and memorials of royalty with which palaces so well know how to fatigue the flesh and spirit of their visitors.
The Marches escaped from it all with sighs and groans of relief, and before they drove off to see the great fountain of the Orangeries, they dedicated a moment of pathos to the Temple of Friendship which Frederick built in memory of unhappy Wilhelmina of Beyreuth, the sister he loved in the common sorrow of their wretched home, and neglected when he came to his kingdom. It is beautiful in its rococco way, swept up to on its terrace by most noble staircases, and swaggered over by baroque allegories of all sorts: Everywhere the statues outnumbered the visitors, who may have been kept away by the rain; the statues naturally did not mind it.
Sometime in the midst of their sight-seeing the Marches had dinner in a mildewed restaurant, where a compatriotic accent caught their ear in a voice saying to the waiter, "We are in a hurry." They looked round and saw that it proceeded from the pretty nose of a young American girl, who sat with a party of young American girls at a neighboring table. Then they perceived that all the people in that restaurant were Americans, mostly young girls, who all looked as if they were in a hurry. But neither their beauty nor their impatience had the least effect with the waiter, who prolonged the dinner at his pleasure, and alarmed the Marches with the misgiving that they should not have time for the final palace on their list.
This was the palace where the father of Frederick, the mad old Frederick William, brought up his children with that severity which Solomon urged but probably did not practise. It is a vast place, but they had time for it all, though the custodian made the most of them as the latest comers of the day, and led them through it with a prolixity as great as their waiter's. He was a most friendly custodian, and when he found that they had some little notion of what they wanted to see, he mixed zeal with his patronage, and in a manner made them his honored guests. They saw everything but the doorway where the faithful royal father used to lie in wait for his children and beat them, princes and princesses alike, with his knobby cane as they came through. They might have seen this doorway without knowing it; but from the window overlooking the parade-ground where his family watched the manoeuvres of his gigantic grenadiers, they made sure of just such puddles as Frederick William forced his family to sit with their feet in, while they dined alfresco on pork and cabbage; and they visited the room of the Smoking Parliament where he ruled his convives with a rod of iron, and made them the victims of his bad jokes. The measuring-board against which he took the stature of his tall grenadiers is there, and one room is devoted to those masterpieces which he used to paint in the agonies of gout. His chef d'oeuvre contains a figure with two left feet, and there seemed no reason why it might not. have had three. In another room is a small statue of Carlyle, who did so much to rehabilitate the house which the daughter of it, Wilhelmina, did so much to demolish in the regard of men.
The palace is now mostly kept for guests, and there is a chamber where Napoleon slept, which is not likely to be occupied soon by any other self-invited guest of his nation. It is perhaps to keep the princes of Europe humble that hardly a palace on the Continent is without the chamber of this adventurer, who, till he stooped to be like them, was easily their master. Another democracy had here recorded its invasion in the American stoves which the custodian pointed out in the corridor when Mrs, March, with as little delay as possible, had proclaimed their country. The custodian professed an added respect for them from the fact, and if he did not feel it, no doubt he merited the drink money which they lavished on him at parting.
Their driver also was a congenial spirit, and when he let them out of his carriage at the station, he excused the rainy day to them. He was a merry fellow beyond the wont of his nation, and he-laughed at the bad weather, as if it had been a good joke on them.
His gayety, and the red sunset light, which shone on the stems of the pines on the way back to Berlin, contributed to the content in which they reviewed their visit to Potsdam. They agreed that the place was perfectly charming, and that it was incomparably expressive of kingly will and pride. These had done there on the grand scale what all the German princes and princelings had tried to do in imitation and emulation of French splendor. In Potsdam the grandeur, was not a historical growth as at Versailles, but was the effect of family genius, in which there was often the curious fascination of insanity.
They felt this strongly again amidst the futile monuments of the Hohenzollern Museum, in Berlin, where all the portraits, effigies, personal belongings and memorials of that gifted, eccentric race are gathered and historically disposed. The princes of the mighty line who stand out from the rest are Frederick the Great and his infuriate. father; and in the waxen likeness of the son, a small thin figure, terribly spry, and a face pitilessly alert, appears something of the madness which showed in the life of the sire.
They went through many rooms in which the memorials of the kings and queens, the emperors and empresses were carefully ordered, and felt no kindness except before the relics relating to the Emperor Frederick and his mother. In the presence of the greatest of the dynasty they experienced a kind of terror which March expressed, when they were safely away, in the confession of his joy that those people were dead.
The rough weather which made Berlin almost uninhabitable to Mrs. March had such an effect with General Triscoe at Weimar that under the orders of an English-speaking doctor he retreated from it altogether and went to bed. Here he escaped the bronchitis which had attacked him, and his convalesence left him so little to complain of that he could not always keep his temper. In the absence of actual offence, either from his daughter or from Burnamy, his sense of injury took a retroactive form; it centred first in Stoller and the twins; then it diverged toward Rose Adding, his mother and Kenby, and finally involved the Marches in the same measure of inculpation; for they had each and all had part, directly or indirectly, in the chances that brought on his cold.
He owed to Burnamy the comfort of the best room in the hotel, and he was constantly dependent upon his kindness; but he made it evident that he did not over-value Burnamy's sacrifice and devotion, and that it was not an unmixed pleasure, however great a convenience, to have him about. In giving up his room, Burnamy had proposed going out of the hotel altogether; but General Triscoe heard of this with almost as great vexation as he had accepted the room. He besought him not to go, but so ungraciously that his daughter was ashamed, and tried to atone for his manner by the kindness of her own.
Perhaps General Triscoe would not have been without excuse if he were not eager to have her share with destitute merit the fortune which she had hitherto shared only with him. He was old, and certain luxuries had become habits if not necessaries with him. Of course he did not say this to himself; and still less did he say it to her. But he let her see that he did not enjoy the chance which had thrown them again in such close relations with Burnamy, and he did pot hide his belief that the Marches were somehow to blame for it. This made it impossible for her to write at once to Mrs. March as she had promised; but she was determined that it should not make her unjust to Burnamy. She would not avoid him; she would not let anything that had happened keep her from showing that she felt his kindness and was glad of his help.
Of course they knew no one else in Weimar, and his presence merely as a fellow-countryman would have been precious. He got them a doctor, against General Triscoe's will; he went for his medicines; he lent him books and papers; he sat with him and tried to amuse him. But with the girl he attempted no return to the situation at Carlsbad; there is nothing like the delicate pride of a young man who resolves to forego unfair advantage in love.
The day after their arrival, when her father was making up for the sleep he had lost by night, she found herself alone in the little reading-room of the hotel with Burnamy for the first time, and she said: "I suppose you must have been all over Weimar by this time."
"Well, I've been here, off and on, almost a month. It's an interesting place. There's a good deal of the old literary quality left."
"And you enjoy that! I saw"—she added this with a little unnecessary flush—"your poem in the paper you lent papa."
"I suppose I ought to have kept that back. But I couldn't." He laughed, and she said:
"You must find a great deal of inspiration in such a literary place."
"It isn't lying about loose, exactly." Even in the serious and perplexing situation in which he found himself he could not help being amused with her unliterary notions of literature, her conventional and commonplace conceptions of it. They had their value with him as those of a more fashionable world than his own, which he believed was somehow a greater world. At the same time he believed that she was now interposing them between the present and the past, and forbidding with them any return to the mood of their last meeting in Carlsbad. He looked at her ladylike composure and unconsciousness, and wondered if she could be the same person and the same person as they who lost themselves in the crowd that night and heard and said words palpitant with fate. Perhaps there had been no such words; perhaps it was all a hallucination. He must leave her to recognize that it was reality; till she did so, he felt bitterly that there was nothing for him but submission and patience; if she never did so, there was nothing for him but acquiescence.
In this talk and in the talks they had afterwards she seemed willing enough to speak of what had happened since: of coming on to Wurzburg with the Addings and of finding the Marches there; of Rose's collapse, and of his mother's flight seaward with him in the care of Kenby, who was so fortunately going to Holland, too. He on his side told her of going to Wurzburg for the manoeuvres, and they agreed that it was very strange they had not met.
She did not try to keep their relations from taking the domestic character which was inevitable, and it seemed to him that this in itself was significant of a determination on her part that was fatal to his hopes. With a lover's indefinite power of blinding himself to what is before his eyes, he believed that if she had been more diffident of him, more uneasy in his presence, he should have had more courage; but for her to breakfast unafraid with him, to meet him at lunch and dinner in the little dining-room where they were often the only guests, and always the only English-speaking guests, was nothing less than prohibitive.
In the hotel service there was one of those men who are porters in this world, but will be angels in the next, unless the perfect goodness of their looks, the constant kindness of their acts, belies them. The Marches had known and loved the man in their brief stay, and he had been the fast friend of Burnamy from the moment they first saw each other at the station. He had tenderly taken possession of General Triscoe on his arrival, and had constituted himself the nurse and keeper of the irascible invalid, in the intervals of going to the trains, with a zeal that often relieved his daughter and Burnamy. The general in fact preferred him to either, and a tacit custom grew up by which when August knocked at his door, and offered himself in his few words of serviceable English, that one of them who happened to be sitting with the general gave way, and left him in charge. The retiring watcher was then apt to encounter the other watcher on the stairs, or in the reading-room, or in the tiny, white-pebbled door-yard at a little table in the shade of the wooden-tubbed evergreens. From the habit of doing this they one day suddenly formed the habit of going across the street to that gardened hollow before and below the Grand-Ducal Museum. There was here a bench in the shelter of some late-flowering bush which the few other frequenters of the place soon recognized as belonging to the young strangers, so that they would silently rise and leave it to them when they saw them coming. Apparently they yielded not only to their right, but to a certain authority which resides in lovers, and which all other men, and especially all other women, like to acknowledge and respect.
In the absence of any civic documents bearing upon the affair it is difficult to establish the fact that this was the character in which Agatha and Burnamy were commonly regarded by the inhabitants of Weimar. But whatever their own notion of their relation was, if it was not that of a Brant and a Brautigam, the people of Weimar would have been puzzled to say what it was. It was known that the gracious young lady's father, who would naturally have accompanied them, was sick, and in the fact that they were Americans much extenuation was found for whatever was phenomenal in their unencumbered enjoyment of each other's society.
If their free American association was indistinguishably like the peasant informality which General Triscoe despised in the relations of Kenby and Mrs. Adding, it is to be said in his excuse that he could not be fully cognizant of it, in the circumstances, and so could do nothing to prevent it. His pessimism extended to his health; from the first he believed himself worse than the doctor thought him, and he would have had some other physician if he had not found consolation in their difference of opinion and the consequent contempt which he was enabled to cherish for the doctor in view of the man's complete ignorance of the case. In proof of his own better understanding of it, he remained in bed some time after the doctor said he might get up.
Nearly ten days had passed before he left his room, and it was not till then that he clearly saw how far affairs had gone with his daughter and Burnamy, though even then his observance seemed to have anticipated theirs. He found them in a quiet acceptance of the fortune which had brought them together, so contented that they appeared to ask nothing more of it. The divine patience and confidence of their youth might sometimes have had almost the effect of indifference to a witness who had seen its evolution from the moods of the first few days of their reunion in Weimar. To General Triscoe, however, it looked like an understanding which had been made without reference to his wishes, and had not been directly brought to his knowledge.
"Agatha," he said, after due note of a gay contest between her and Burnamy over the pleasure and privilege of ordering his supper sent to his room when he had gone back to it from his first afternoon in the open air, "how long is that young man going to stay in Weimar?"
"Why, I don't know!" she answered, startled from her work of beating the sofa pillows into shape, and pausing with one of them in her hand. "I never asked him." She looked down candidly into his face where he sat in an easy-chair waiting for her arrangement of the sofa. "What makes you ask?"
He answered with another question. "Does he know that we had thought of staying here?"
"Why, we've always talked of that, haven't we? Yes, he knows it. Didn't you want him to know it, papa? You ought to have begun on the ship, then. Of course I've asked him what sort of place it was. I'm sorry if you didn't want me to."
"Have I said that? It's perfectly easy to push on to Paris. Unless—"
"Unless what?" Agatha dropped the pillow, and listened respectfully. But in spite of her filial attitude she could not keep her youth and strength and courage from quelling the forces of the elderly man.
He said querulously, "I don't see why you take that tone with me. You certainly know what I mean. But if you don't care to deal openly with me, I won't ask you." He dropped his eyes from her face, and at the same time a deep blush began to tinge it, growing up from her neck to her forehead. "You must know—you're not a child," he continued, still with averted eyes, "that this sort of thing can't go on... It must be something else, or it mustn't be anything at all. I don't ask you for your confidence, and you know that I've never sought to control you."
This was not the least true, but Agatha answered, either absently or provisionally, "No."
"And I don't seek to do so now. If you have nothing that you wish to tell me—"
He waited, and after what seemed a long time, she asked as if she had not heard him, "Will you lie down a little before your supper, papa?"
"I will lie down when I feel like it," he answered. "Send August with the supper; he can look after me."
His resentful tone, even more than his words, dismissed her, but she left him without apparent grievance, saying quietly, "I will send August."
Agatha did not come down to supper with Burnamy. She asked August, when she gave him her father's order, to have a cup of tea sent to her room, where, when it came, she remained thinking so long that it was rather tepid by the time she drank it.
Then she went to her window, and looked out, first above and next below. Above, the moon was hanging over the gardened hollow before the Museum with the airy lightness of an American moon. Below was Burnamy behind the tubbed evergreens, sitting tilted in his chair against the house wall, with the spark of his cigar fainting and flashing like an American firefly. Agatha went down to the door, after a little delay, and seemed surprised to find him there; at least she said, "Oh!" in a tone of surprise.
Burnamy stood up, and answered, "Nice night."
"Beautiful!" she breathed. "I didn't suppose the sky in Germany could ever be so clear."
"It seems to be doing its best."
"The flowers over there look like ghosts in the light," she said dreamily.
"They're not. Don't you want to get your hat and wrap, and go over and expose the fraud?"
"Oh," she answered, as if it were merely a question of the hat and wrap, "I have them."
They sauntered through the garden walks for a while, long enough to have ascertained that there was not a veridical phantom among the flowers, if they had been looking, and then when they came to their accustomed seat, they sat down, and she said, "I don't know that I've seen the moon so clear since we left Carlsbad." At the last word his heart gave a jump that seemed to lodge it in his throat and kept him from speaking, so that she could resume without interruption, "I've got something of yours, that you left at the Posthof. The girl that broke the dishes found it, and Lili gave it to Mrs. March for you." This did not account for Agatha's having the thing, whatever it was; but when she took a handkerchief from her belt, and put out her hand with it toward him, he seemed to find that her having it had necessarily followed. He tried to take it from her, but his own hand trembled so that it clung to hers, and he gasped, "Can't you say now, what you wouldn't say then?"
The logical sequence was no more obvious than be fore; but she apparently felt it in her turn as he had felt it in his. She whispered back, "Yes," and then she could not get out anything more till she entreated in a half-stifled voice, "Oh, don't!" '
"No, no!" he panted. "I won't—I oughtn't to have done it—I beg your pardon—I oughtn't to have spoken,—even—I—"
She returned in a far less breathless and tremulous fashion, but still between laughing and crying, "I meant to make you. And now, if you're ever sorry, or I'm ever too topping about anything, you can be perfectly free to say that you'd never have spoken if you hadn't seen that I wanted you to."
"But I didn't see any such thing," he protested. "I spoke because I couldn't help it any longer."
She laughed triumphantly. "Of course you think so! And that shows that you are only a man after all; in spite of your finessing. But I am going to have the credit of it. I knew that you were holding back because you were too proud, or thought you hadn't the right, or something. Weren't you?" She startled him with the sudden vehemence of her challenge: "If you pretend, that you weren't I shall never forgive you!"
"But I was! Of course I was. I was afraid—"
"Isn't that what I said?" She triumphed over him with another laugh, and cowered a little closer to him, if that could be.
They were standing, without knowing how they had got to their feet; and now without any purpose of the kind, they began to stroll again among the garden paths, and to ask and to answer questions, which touched every point of their common history, and yet left it a mine of inexhaustible knowledge for all future time. Out of the sweet and dear delight of this encyclopedian reserve two or three facts appeared with a present distinctness. One of these was that Burnamy had regarded her refusal to be definite at Carlsbad as definite refusal, and had meant never to see her again, and certainly never to speak again of love to her. Another point was that she had not resented his coming back that last night, but had been proud and happy in it as proof of his love, and had always meant somehow to let him know that she was torched by his trusting her enough to come back while be was still under that cloud with Mr. Stoller. With further logic, purely of the heart, she acquitted him altogether of wrong in that affair, and alleged in proof, what Mr. Stoller had said of it to Mr. March. Burnamy owned that he knew what Stoller had said, but even in his present condition he could not accept fully her reading of that obscure passage of his life. He preferred to put the question by, and perhaps neither of them cared anything about it except as it related to the fact that they were now each other's forever.
They agreed that they must write to Mr. and Mrs. March at once; or at least, Agatha said, as soon as she had spoken to her father. At her mention of her father she was aware of a doubt, a fear, in Burnamy which expressed itself by scarcely more than a spiritual consciousness from his arm to the hands which she had clasped within it. "He has always appreciated you," she said courageously, "and I know he will see it in the right light."
She probably meant no more than to affirm her faith in her own ability finally to bring her father to a just mind concerning it; but Burnamy accepted her assurance with buoyant hopefulness, and said he would see General Triscoe the first thing in the morning.
"No, I will see him," she said, "I wish to see him first; he will expect it of me. We had better go in, now," she added, but neither made any motion for the present to do so. On the contrary, they walked in the other direction, and it was an hour after Agatha declared their duty in the matter before they tried to fulfil it.
Then, indeed, after they returned to the hotel, she lost no time in going to her father beyond that which must be given to a long hand-pressure under the fresco of the five poets on the stairs landing, where her ways and Burnamy's parted. She went into her own room, and softly opened the door into her father's and listened.
"Well?" he said in a sort of challenging voice.
"Have you been asleep?" she asked.
"I've just blown out my light. What has kept you?"
She did not reply categorically. Standing there in the sheltering dark, she said, "Papa, I wasn't very candid with you, this afternoon. I am engaged to Mr. Burnamy."
"Light the candle," said her father. "Or no," he added before she could do so. "Is it quite settled?"
"Quite," she answered in a voice that admitted of no doubt. "That is, as far as it can be, without you."
"Don't be a hypocrite, Agatha," said the general. "And let me try to get to sleep. You know I don't like it, and you know I can't help it."
"Yes," the girl assented.
"Then go to bed," said the general concisely.
Agatha did not obey her father. She thought she ought to kiss him, but she decided that she had better postpone this; so she merely gave him a tender goodnight, to which he made no response, and shut herself into her own room, where she remained sitting and staring out into the moonlight, with a smile that never left her lips.
When the moon sank below the horizon, the sky was pale with the coming day, but before it was fairly dawn, she saw something white, not much greater than some moths, moving before her window. She pulled the valves open and found it a bit of paper attached to a thread dangling from above. She broke it loose and in the morning twilight she read the great central truth of the universe:
"I love you. L. J. B."
She wrote under the tremendous inspiration:
"So do I. Don't be silly. A. T."
She fastened the paper to the thread again, and gave it a little twitch. She waited for the low note of laughter which did not fail to flutter down from above; then she threw herself upon the bed, and fell asleep.
It was not so late as she thought when she woke, and it seemed, at breakfast, that Burnamy had been up still earlier. Of the three involved in the anxiety of the night before General Triscoe was still respited from it by sleep, but he woke much more haggard than either of the young people. They, in fact, were not at all haggard; the worst was over, if bringing their engagement to his knowledge was the worst; the formality of asking his consent which Burnamy still had to go through was unpleasant, but after all it was a formality. Agatha told him everything that had passed between herself and her father, and if it had not that cordiality on his part which they could have wished it was certainly not hopelessly discouraging.
They agreed at breakfast that Burnamy had better have it over as quickly as possible, and he waited only till August came down with the general's tray before going up to his room. The young fellow did not feel more at his ease than the elder meant he should in taking the chair to which the general waved him from where he lay in bed; and there was no talk wasted upon the weather between them.
"I suppose I know what you have come for, Mr. Burnamy," said General Triscoe in a tone which was rather judicial than otherwise, "and I suppose you know why you have come." The words certainly opened the way for Burnamy, but he hesitated so long to take it that the general had abundant time to add, "I don't pretend that this event is unexpected, but I should like to know what reason you have for thinking I should wish you to marry my daughter. I take it for granted that you are attached to each other, and we won't waste time on that point. Not to beat about the bush, on the next point, let me ask at once what your means of supporting her are. How much did you earn on that newspaper in Chicago?"
"Fifteen hundred dollars," Burnamy answered, promptly enough.
"Did you earn anything more, say within the last year?"
"I got three hundred dollars advance copyright for a book I sold to a publisher." The glory had not yet faded from the fact in Burnamy's mind.
"Eighteen hundred. What did you get for your poem in March's book?"
"That's a very trifling matter: fifteen dollars."
"And your salary as private secretary to that man Stoller?"
"Thirty dollars a week, and my expenses. But I wouldn't take that, General Triscoe," said Burnamy.
General Triscoe, from his 'lit de justice', passed this point in silence. "Have you any one dependent on you?"
"My mother; I take care of my mother," answered Burnamy, proudly.
"Since you have broken with Stoller, what are your prospects?"
"I have none."
"Then you don't expect to support my daughter; you expect to live upon her means."
"I expect to do nothing of the kind!" cried Burnamy. "I should be ashamed—I should feel disgraced—I should—I don't ask you—I don't ask her till I have the means to support her—"
"If you were very fortunate," continued the general, unmoved by the young fellow's pain, and unperturbed by the fact that he had himself lived upon his wife's means as long as she lived, and then upon his daughter's, "if you went back to Stoller—"
"I wouldn't go back to him. I don't say he's knowingly a rascal, but he's ignorantly a rascal, and he proposed a rascally thing to me. I behaved badly to him, and I'd give anything to undo the wrong I let him do himself; but I'll never go back to him."
"If you went back, on your old salary," the general persisted pitilessly, "you would be very fortunate if you brought your earnings up to twenty- five hundred a year."
"And how far do you think that would go in supporting my daughter on the scale she is used to? I don't speak of your mother, who has the first claim upon you."
Burnamy sat dumb; and his head which he had lifted indignantly when the question was of Stoller, began to sink.
The general went on. "You ask me to give you my daughter when you haven't money enough to keep her in gowns; you ask me to give her to a stranger—"
"Not quite a stranger, General Triscoe," Burnamy protested. "You have known me for three months at least, and any one who knows me in Chicago will tell you—"
"A stranger, and worse than a stranger," the general continued, so pleased with the logical perfection of his position that he almost smiled, and certainly softened toward Burnamy. "It isn't a question of liking you, Mr. Burnamy, but of knowing you; my daughter likes you; so do the Marches; so does everybody who has met you. I like you myself. You've done me personally a thousand kindnesses. But I know very little of you, in spite of our three months' acquaintance; and that little is— But you shall judge for yourself! You were in the confidential employ of a man who trusted you, and you let him betray himself."
"I did. I don't excuse it. The thought of it burns like fire. But it wasn't done maliciously; it wasn't done falsely; it was done inconsiderately; and when it was done, it seemed irrevocable. But it wasn't; I could have prevented, I could have stooped the mischief; and I didn't! I can never outlive that."
"I know," said the general relentlessly, "that you have never attempted any defence. That has been to your credit with me. It inclined me to overlook your unwarranted course in writing to my daughter, when you told her you would never see her again. What did you expect me to think, after that, of your coming back to see her? Or didn't you expect me to know it?"
"I expected you to know it; I knew she would tell you. But I don't excuse that, either. It was acting a lie to come back. All I can say is that I had to see her again for one last time."
"And to make sure that it was to be the last time, you offered yourself to her."
"I couldn't help doing that."
"I don't say you could. I don't judge the facts at all. I leave them altogether to you; and you shall say what a man in my position ought to say to such a man as you have shown yourself."
"No, I will say." The door into the adjoining room was flung open, and Agatha flashed in from it.
Her father looked coldly at her impassioned face. "Have you been listening?" he asked.
"I have been hearing—"
"Oh!" As nearly as a man could, in bed, General Triscoe shrugged.
"I suppose I had, a right to be in my own room. I couldn't help hearing; and I was perfectly astonished at you, papa, the cruel way you went on, after all you've said about Mr. Stoller, and his getting no more than he deserved."
"That doesn't justify me," Burnamy began, but she cut him short almost as severely as she—had dealt with her father.
"Yes, it does! It justifies you perfectly! And his wanting you to falsify the whole thing afterwards, more than justifies you."
Neither of the men attempted anything in reply to her casuistry; they both looked equally posed by it, for different reasons; and Agatha went on as vehemently as before, addressing herself now to one and now to the other.
"And besides, if it didn't justify you, what you have done yourself would; and your never denying it, or trying to excuse it, makes it the same as if you hadn't done it, as far as you are concerned; and that is all I care for." Burnamy started, as if with the sense of having heard something like this before, and with surprise at hearing it now; and she flushed a little as she added tremulously, "And I should never, never blame you for it, after that; it's only trying to wriggle out of things which I despise, and you've never done that. And he simply had to come back," she turned to her father, "and tell me himself just how it was. And you said yourself, papa—or the same as said—that he had no right to suppose I was interested in his affairs unless he—unless—And I should never have forgiven him, if he hadn't told me then that he that he had come back because he—felt the way he did. I consider that that exonerated him for breaking his word, completely. If he hadn't broken his word I should have thought he had acted very cruelly and—and strangely. And ever since then, he has behaved so nobly, so honorably, so delicately, that I don't believe he would ever have said anything again—if I hadn't fairly forced him. Yes! Yes, I did!" she cried at a movement of remonstrance from Burnamy. "And I shall always be proud of you for it." Her father stared steadfastly at her, and he only lifted his eyebrows, for change of expression, when she went over to where Burnamy stood, and put her hand in his with a certain childlike impetuosity. "And as for the rest," she declared, "everything I have is his; just as everything of his would be mine if I had nothing. Or if he wishes to take me without anything, then he can have me so, and I sha'n't be afraid but we can get along somehow." She added, "I have managed without a maid, ever since I left home, and poverty has no terrors for me!"
General Triscoe submitted to defeat with the patience which soldiers learn. He did not submit amiably; that would have been out of character, and perhaps out of reason; but Burnamy and Agatha were both so amiable that they supplied good-humor for all. They flaunted their rapture in her father's face as little as they could, but he may have found their serene satisfaction, their settled confidence in their fate, as hard to bear as a more boisterous happiness would have been.
It was agreed among them all that they were to return soon to America, and Burnamy was to find some sort of literary or journalistic employment in New York. She was much surer than he that this could be done with perfect ease; but they were of an equal mind that General Triscoe was not to be disturbed in any of his habits, or vexed in the tenor of his living; and until Burnamy was at least self-supporting there must be no talk of their being married.
The talk of their being engaged was quite enough for the time. It included complete and minute auto-biographies on both sides, reciprocal analyses of character, a scientifically exhaustive comparison of tastes, ideas and opinions; a profound study of their respective chins, noses, eyes, hands, heights, complexions, moles and freckles, with some account of their several friends.
In this occupation, which was profitably varied by the confession of what they had each thought and felt and dreamt concerning the other at every instant since they met, they passed rapidly the days which the persistent anxiety of General Triscoe interposed before the date of their leaving Weimar for Paris, where it was arranged that they should spend a month before sailing for New York. Burnamy had a notion, which Agatha approved, of trying for something there on the New York-Paris Chronicle; and if he got it they might not go home at once. His gains from that paper had eked out his copyright from his book, and had almost paid his expenses in getting the material which he had contributed to it. They were not so great, however, but that his gold reserve was reduced to less than a hundred dollars, counting the silver coinages which had remained to him in crossing and recrossing frontiers. He was at times dimly conscious of his finances, but he buoyantly disregarded the facts, as incompatible with his status as Agatha's betrothed, if not unworthy of his character as a lover in the abstract.
The afternoon before they were to leave Weimar, they spent mostly in the garden before the Grand-Ducal Museum, in a conference so important that when it came on to rain, at one moment, they put up Burnamy's umbrella, and continued to sit under it rather than interrupt the proceedings even to let Agatha go back to the hotel and look after her father's packing. Her own had been finished before dinner, so as to leave her the whole afternoon for their conference, and to allow her father to remain in undisturbed possession of his room as long as possible.
What chiefly remained to be put into the general's trunk were his coats and trousers, hanging in the closet, and August took these down, and carefully folded and packed them. Then, to make sure that nothing had been forgotten, Agatha put a chair into the closet when she came in, and stood on it to examine the shelf which stretched above the hooks.
There seemed at first to be nothing on it, and then there seemed to be something in the further corner, which when it was tiptoed for, proved to be a bouquet of flowers, not so faded as to seem very old; the blue satin ribbon which they were tied up with, and which hung down half a yard, was of entire freshness except far the dust of the shelf where it had lain.
Agatha backed out into the room with her find in her hand, and examined it near to, and then at arm's length. August stood by with a pair of the general's trousers lying across his outstretched hands, and as Agatha absently looked round at him, she caught a light of intelligence in his eyes which changed her whole psychological relation to the withered bouquet. Till then it had been a lifeless, meaningless bunch of flowers, which some one, for no motive, had tossed up on that dusty shelf in the closet. At August's smile it became something else. Still she asked lightly enough, "Was ist loss, August?"
His smile deepened and broadened. "Fur die Andere," he explained.
Agatha demanded in English, "What do you mean by feardy ondery?"
"Other lady?" August nodded, rejoicing in big success, and Agatha closed the door into her own room, where the general had been put for the time so as to be spared the annoyance of the packing; then she sat down with her hands in her lap, and the bouquet in her hands. "Now, August," she said very calmly, "I want you to tell me-ich wunsche Sie zu mir sagen— what other lady—wass andere Dame—these flowers belonged to—diese Blumen gehorte zu. Verstehen Sie?"
August nodded brightly, and with German carefully adjusted to Agatha's capacity, and with now and then a word or phrase of English, he conveyed that before she and her Herr Father had appeared, there had been in Weimar another American Fraulein with her Frau Mother; they had not indeed staid in that hotel, but had several times supped there with the young Herr Bornahmee, who was occupying that room before her Herr Father. The young Herr had been much about with these American Damen, driving and walking with them, and sometimes dining or supping with them at their hotel, The Elephant. August had sometimes carried notes to them from the young Herr, and he had gone for the bouquet which the gracious Fraulein was holding, on the morning of the day that the American Damen left by the train for Hanover.
August was much helped and encouraged throughout by the friendly intelligence of the gracious Fraulein, who smiled radiantly in clearing up one dim point after another, and who now and then supplied the English analogues which he sought in his effort to render his German more luminous.
At the end she returned to the work of packing, in which she directed him, and sometimes assisted him with her own hands, having put the bouquet on the mantel to leave herself free. She took it up again and carried it into her own room, when she went with August to summon her father back to his. She bade August say to the young Herr, if he saw him, that she was going to sup with her father, and August gave her message to Burnamy, whom he met on the stairs coming down as he was going up with their tray.
Agatha usually supped with her father, but that evening Burnamy was less able than usual to bear her absence in the hotel dining-room, and he went up to a cafe in the town for his supper. He did not stay long, and when he returned his heart gave a joyful lift at sight of Agatha looking out from her balcony, as if she were looking for him. He made her a gay flourishing bow, lifting his hat high, and she came down to meet him at the hotel door. She had her hat on and jacket over one arm and she joined him at once for the farewell walk he proposed in what they had agreed to call their garden.
She moved a little ahead of him, and when they reached the place where they always sat, she shifted her jacket to the other arm and uncovered the hand in which she had been carrying the withered bouquet. "Here is something I found in your closet, when I was getting papa's things out."
"Why, what is it?" he asked innocently, as he took it from her.
"A bouquet, apparently," she answered, as he drew the long ribbons through his fingers, and looked at the flowers curiously, with his head aslant.
"Where did you get it?"
"On the shelf."
It seemed a long time before Burnamy said with a long sigh, as of final recollection, "Oh, yes," and then he said nothing; and they did not sit down, but stood looking at each other.
"Was it something you got for me, and forgot to give me?" she asked in a voice which would not have misled a woman, but which did its work with the young man.
He laughed and said, "Well, hardly! The general has been in the room ever since you came."
"Oh, yes. Then perhaps somebody left it there before you had the room?"
Burnamy was silent again, but at last he said, "No, I flung it up there I had forgotten all about it."
"And you wish me to forget about it, too?" Agatha asked in a gayety of tone that still deceived him.
"It would only be fair. You made me," he rejoined, and there was something so charming in his words and way, that she would have been glad to do it.
But she governed herself against the temptation and said, "Women are not good at forgetting, at least till they know what."
"Oh, I'll tell you, if you want to know," he said with a laugh, and at the words she—sank provisionally in their accustomed seat. He sat down beside her, but not so near as usual, and he waited so long before he began that it seemed as if he had forgotten again. "Why, it's nothing. Miss Etkins and her mother were here before you came, and this is a bouquet that I meant to give her at the train when she left. But I decided I wouldn't, and I threw it onto the shelf in the closet."
"May I ask why you thought of taking a bouquet to her at the train?"
"Well, she and her mother—I had been with them a good deal, and I thought it would be civil."
"And why did you decide not to be civil?"
"I didn't want it to look like more than civility."
"Were they here long?"
"About a week. They left just after the Marches came."
Agatha seemed not to heed the answer she had exacted. She sat reclined in the corner of the seat, with her head drooping. After an interval which was long to Burnamy she began to pull at a ring on the third finger of her left hand, absently, as if she did not know what she was doing; but when she had got it off she held it towards Burnamy and said quietly, "I think you had better have this again," and then she rose and moved slowly and weakly away.
He had taken the ring mechanically from her, and he stood a moment bewildered; then he pressed after her.
"Agatha, do you—you don't mean—"
"Yes," she said, without looking round at his face, which she knew was close to her shoulder. "It's over. It isn't what you've done. It's what you are. I believed in you, in spite of what you did to that man— and your coming back when you said you wouldn't—and—But I see now that what you did was you; it was your nature; and I can't believe in you any more."
"Agatha!" he implored. "You're not going to be so unjust! There was nothing between you and me when that girl was here! I had a right to—"
"Not if you really cared for me! Do you think I would have flirted with any one so soon, if I had cared for you as you pretended you did for me that night in Carlsbad? Oh, I don't say you're false. But you're fickle—"
"But I'm not fickle! From the first moment I saw you, I never cared for any one but you!"
"You have strange ways of showing your devotion. Well, say you are not fickle. Say, that I'm fickle. I am. I have changed my mind. I see that it would never do. I leave you free to follow all the turning and twisting of your fancy." She spoke rapidly, almost breathlessly, and she gave him no chance to get out the words that seemed to choke him. She began to run, but at the door of the hotel she stopped and waited till he came stupidly up. "I have a favor to ask, Mr. Burnamy. I beg you will not see me again, if you can help it before we go to-morrow. My father and I are indebted to you for too many kindnesses, and you mustn't take any more trouble on our account. August can see us off in the morning."
She nodded quickly, and was gone in-doors while he was yet struggling with his doubt of the reality of what had all so swiftly happened.
General Triscoe was still ignorant of any change in the status to which he had reconciled himself with so much difficulty, when he came down to get into the omnibus for the train. Till then he had been too proud to ask what had become of Burnamy, though he had wondered, but now he looked about and said impatiently, "I hope that young man isn't going to keep us waiting."
Agatha was pale and worn with sleeplessness, but she said firmly, "He isn't going, papa. I will tell you in the train. August will see to the tickets and the baggage."
August conspired with the traeger to get them a first-class compartment to themselves. But even with the advantages of this seclusion Agatha's confidences to her father were not full. She told her father that her engagement was broken for reasons that did not mean anything very wrong in Mr. Burnamy but that convinced her they could never be happy together. As she did not give the reasons, he found a natural difficulty in accepting them, and there was something in the situation which appealed strongly to his contrary-mindedness. Partly from this, partly from his sense of injury in being obliged so soon to adjust himself to new conditions, and partly from his comfortable feeling of security from an engagement to which his assent had been forced, he said, "I hope you're not making a mistake."
"Oh, no," she answered, and she attested her conviction by a burst of sobbing that lasted well on the way to the first stop of the train.
It would have been always twice as easy to go direct from Berlin to the Hague through Hanover; but the Marches decided to go by Frankfort and the Rhine, because they wished to revisit the famous river, which they remembered from their youth, and because they wished to stop at Dusseldorf, where Heinrich Heine was born. Without this Mrs. March, who kept her husband up to his early passion for the poet with a feeling that she was defending him from age in it, said that their silver wedding journey would not be complete; and he began himself to think that it would be interesting.
They took a sleeping-car for Frankfort and they woke early as people do in sleeping-cars everywhere. March dressed and went out for a cup of the same coffee of which sleeping-car buffets have the awful secret in Europe as well as America, and for a glimpse of the twilight landscape. One gray little town, towered and steepled and red-roofed within its mediaeval walls, looked as if it would have been warmer in something more. There was a heavy dew, if not a light frost, over all, and in places a pale fog began to lift from the low hills. Then the sun rose without dispersing the cold, which was afterwards so severe in their room at the Russischer Hof in Frankfort that in spite of the steam-radiators they sat shivering in all their wraps till breakfast-time.
There was no steam on in the radiators, of course; when they implored the portier for at least a lamp to warm their hands by he turned on all the electric lights without raising the temperature in the slightest degree. Amidst these modern comforts they were so miserable that they vowed each other to shun, as long as they were in Germany, or at least while the summer lasted, all hotels which were steam-heated and electric-lighted. They heated themselves somewhat with their wrath, and over their breakfast they relented so far as to suffer themselves a certain interest in the troops of all arms beginning to pass the hotel. They were fragments of the great parade, which had ended the day before, and they were now drifting back to their several quarters of the empire. Many of them were very picturesque, and they had for the boys and girls running before and beside them, the charm which armies and circus processions have for children everywhere. But their passage filled with cruel anxiety a large old dog whom his master had left harnessed to a milk-cart before the hotel door; from time to time he lifted up his voice, and called to the absentee with hoarse, deep barks that almost shook him from his feet.
The day continued blue and bright and cold, and the Marches gave the morning to a rapid survey of the city, glad that it was at least not wet. What afterwards chiefly remained to them was the impression of an old town as quaint almost and as Gothic as old Hamburg, and a new town, handsome and regular, and, in the sudden arrest of some streets, apparently overbuilt. The modern architectural taste was of course Parisian; there is no other taste for the Germans; but in the prevailing absence of statues there was a relief from the most oppressive characteristic of the imperial capital which was a positive delight. Some sort of monument to the national victory over France there must have been; but it must have been unusually inoffensive, for it left no record of itself in the travellers' consciousness. They were aware of gardened squares and avenues, bordered by stately dwellings, of dignified civic edifices, and of a vast arid splendid railroad station, such as the state builds even in minor European cities, but such as our paternal corporations have not yet given us anywhere in America. They went to the Zoological Garden, where they heard the customary Kalmucks at their public prayers behind a high board fence; and as pilgrims from the most plutrocratic country in the world March insisted that they must pay their devoirs at the shrine of the Rothschilds, whose natal banking-house they revered from the outside.
It was a pity, he said, that the Rothschilds were not on his letter of credit; he would have been willing to pay tribute to the Genius of Finance in the percentage on at least ten pounds. But he consoled himself by reflecting that he did not need the money; and he consoled Mrs. March for their failure to penetrate to the interior of the Rothschilds' birthplace by taking her to see the house where Goethe was born. The public is apparently much more expected there, and in the friendly place they were no doubt much more welcome than they would have been in the Rothschild house. Under that roof they renewed a happy moment of Weimar, which after the lapse of a week seemed already so remote. They wondered, as they mounted the stairs from the basement opening into a clean little court, how Burnamy was getting on, and whether it had yet come to that understanding between him and Agatha, which Mrs. March, at least, had meant to be inevitable. Then they became part of some such sight-seeing retinue as followed the custodian about in the Goethe horse in Weimar, and of an emotion indistinguishable from that of their fellow sight-seers. They could make sure, afterwards, of a personal pleasure in a certain prescient classicism of the house. It somehow recalled both the Goethe houses at Weimar, and it somehow recalled Italy. It is a separate house of two floors above the entrance, which opens to a little court or yard, and gives access by a decent stairway to the living-rooms. The chief of these is a sufficiently dignified parlor or salon, and the most important is the little chamber in the third story where the poet first opened his eyes to the light which he rejoiced in for so long a life, and which, dying, he implored to be with him more. It is as large as his death-chamber in Weimar, where he breathed this prayer, and it looks down into the Italian-looking court, where probably he noticed the world for the first time, and thought it a paved enclosure thirty or forty feet square. In the birth- room they keep his puppet theatre, and the place is fairly suggestive of his childhood; later, in his youth, he could look from the parlor windows and see the house where his earliest love dwelt. So much remains of Goethe in the place where he was born, and as such things go, it is not a little. The house is that of a prosperous and well-placed citizen, and speaks of the senatorial quality in his family which Heine says he was fond of recalling, rather than the sartorial quality of the ancestor who, again as Heine says, mended the Republic's breeches.
From the Goethe house, one drives by the Goethe monument to the Romer, the famous town-hall of the old free imperial city which Frankfort once was; and by this route the Marches drove to it, agreeing with their coachman that he was to keep as much in the sun as possible. It was still so cold that when they reached the Romer, and he stopped in a broad blaze of the only means of heating that they have in Frankfort in the summer, the travellers were loath to leave it for the chill interior, where the German emperors were elected for so many centuries. As soon as an emperor was chosen, in the great hall effigied round with the portraits of his predecessors, he hurried out in the balcony, ostensibly to show himself to the people, but really, March contended, to warm up a little in the sun. The balcony was undergoing repairs that day, and the travellers could not go out on it; but under the spell of the historic interest of the beautiful old Gothic place, they lingered in the interior till they were half-torpid with the cold. Then she abandoned to him the joint duty of viewing the cathedral, and hurried to their carriage where she basked in the sun till he came to her. He returned shivering, after a half-hour's absence, and pretended that she had missed the greatest thing in the world, but as he could never be got to say just what she had lost, and under the closest cross-examination could not prove that this cathedral was memorably different from hundreds of other fourteenth- century cathedrals, she remained in a lasting content with the easier part she had chosen. His only definite impression at the cathedral seemed to be confined to a Bostonian of gloomily correct type, whom he had seen doing it with his Baedeker, and not letting an object of interest escape; and his account of her fellow-townsman reconciled Mrs. March more and more to not having gone.
As it was warmer out-doors than in-doors at Frankfort, and as the breadth of sunshine increased with the approach of noon they gave the rest of the morning to driving about and ignorantly enjoying the outside of many Gothic churches, whose names even they did not trouble themselves to learn. They liked the river Main whenever they came to it, because it was so lately from Wurzburg, and because it was so beautiful with its bridges, old and new, and its boats of many patterns. They liked the market-place in front of the Romer not only because it was full of fascinating bargains in curious crockery and wooden-ware, but because there was scarcely any shade at all in it. They read from their Baedeker that until the end of the last century no Jew was suffered to enter the marketplace, and they rejoiced to find from all appearances that the Jews had been making up for their unjust exclusion ever since. They were almost as numerous there as the Anglo-Saxons were everywhere else in Frankfort. These, both of the English and American branches of the race, prevailed in the hotel diningroom, where the Marches had a mid-day dinner so good that it almost made amends for the steam-heating and electric- lighting.