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they left New York, except that it was colder; and their hearts turned to
their children, who had been in abeyance for the week past, with a
remorseful pang. "Well," she said, "I wish we were going to be in New York
to-morrow, instead of Hamburg."

"Oh, no! Oh, no!" he protested. "Not so bad as that, my dear. This is the
last night, and it's hard to manage, as the last night always is. I
suppose the last night on earth - "

"Basil!" she implored.

"Well, I won't, then. But what I want is to see a Dutch lugger. I've
never seen a Dutch lugger, and - "

She suddenly pressed his arm, and in obedience to the signal he was
silent; though it seemed afterwards that he ought to have gone on talking
as if he did not see Burnamy and Miss Triscoe swinging slowly by. They
were walking close together, and she was leaning forward and looking up
into his face while he talked.

"Now," Mrs. March whispered, long after they were out of hearing, "let us
go instantly. I wouldn't for worlds have them see us here when they get
found again. They would feel that they had to stop and speak, and that
would spoil everything. Come!"


Burnamy paused in a flow of autobiography, and modestly waited for Miss
Triscoe's prompting. He had not to wait long.

"And then, how soon did you think of printing your things in a book?"

"Oh, about as soon as they began to take with the public."

"How could you tell that they were-taking?"

"They were copied into other papers, and people talked about them."

"And that was what made Mr. Stoller want you to be his secretary?"

"I don't believe it was. The theory in the office was that he didn't
think much of them; but he knows I can write shorthand, and put things
into shape."

"What things?"

"Oh - ideas. He has a notion of trying to come forward in politics. He
owns shares in everything but the United States Senate - gas, electricity,
railroads, aldermen, newspapers - and now he would like some Senate.
That's what I think."

She did not quite understand, and she was far from knowing that this
cynic humor expressed a deadlier pessimism than her father's fiercest
accusals of the country. "How fascinating it is!" she said, innocently.

"And I suppose they all envy your coming out?"

"In the office?"

"Yes. I should envy, them - staying."

Burnamy laughed. "I don't believe they envy me. It won't be all roses for
me - they know that. But they know that I can take care of myself if it
isn't." He remembered something one of his friends in the office had said
of the painful surprise the Bird of Prey would feel if he ever tried his
beak on him in the belief that he was soft.

She abruptly left the mere personal question. "And which would you rather
write: poems or those kind of sketches?"

"I don't know," said Burnamy, willing to talk of himself on any terms. "I
suppose that prose is the thing for our time, rather more; but there are
things you can't say in prose. I used to write a great deal of verse in
college; but I didn't have much luck with editors till Mr. March took
this little piece for 'Every Other Week'."

"Little? I thought it was a long poem!"

Burnamy laughed at the notion. "It's only eight lines."

"Oh!" said the girl. "What is it about?"

He yielded to the temptation with a weakness which he found incredible in
a person of his make. "I can repeat it if you won't give me away to Mrs.

"Oh, no indeed!" He said the lines over to her very simply and well."
They are beautiful - beautiful!"

"Do you think so?" he gasped, in his joy at her praise.

"Yes, lovely. Do you know, you are the first literary man - the only
literary man - I ever talked with. They must go out - somewhere! Papa must
meet them at his clubs. But I never do; and so I'm making the most of

"You can't make too much of me, Miss Triscoe," said Burnamy.

She would not mind his mocking. "That day you spoke about 'The Maiden
Knight', don't you know, I had never heard any talk about books in that
way. I didn't know you were an author then."

"Well, I'm not much of an author now," he said, cynically, to retrieve
his folly in repeating his poem to her.

"Oh, that will do for you to say. But I know what Mrs. March thinks."

He wished very much to know what Mrs. March thought, too; 'Every Other
Week' was such a very good place that he could not conscientiously
neglect any means of having his work favorably considered there; if Mrs.
March's interest in it would act upon her husband, ought not he to know
just how much she thought of him as a writer? "Did she like the poem."

Miss Triscoe could not recall that Mrs. March had said anything about the
poem, but she launched herself upon the general current of Mrs. March's
liking for Burnamy. "But it wouldn't do to tell you all she said!" This
was not what he hoped, but he was richly content when she returned to his
personal history. "And you didn't know any one when, you went up to
Chicago from - "

"Tippecanoe? Not exactly that. I wasn't acquainted with any one in the
office, but they had printed somethings of mine, and they were willing to
let me try my hand. That was all I could ask."

"Of course! You knew you could do the rest. Well, it is like a romance. A
woman couldn't have such an adventure as that!" sighed the girl.

"But women do!" Burnamy retorted. "There is a girl writing on the paper
now - she's going to do the literary notices while I'm gone - who came to
Chicago from Ann Arbor, with no more chance than I had, and who's made
her way single-handed from interviewing up."

"Oh," said Miss Triscoe, with a distinct drop in her enthusiasm. "Is she

"She's mighty clever, and she's nice enough, too, though the kind of
journalism that women do isn't the most dignified. And she's one of the
best girls I know, with lots of sense."

"It must be very interesting," said Miss Triscoe, with little interest in
the way she said it. "I suppose you're quite a little community by

"On the paper?"


"Well, some of us know one another, in the office, but most of us don't.
There's quite a regiment of people on a big paper. If you'd like to come
out," Burnamy ventured, "perhaps you could get the Woman's Page to do."

"What's that?"

"Oh, fashion; and personal gossip about society leaders; and recipes for
dishes and diseases; and correspondence on points of etiquette."

He expected her to shudder at the notion, but she merely asked, "Do women
write it?"

He laughed reminiscently. "Well, not always. We had one man who used to
do it beautifully - when he was sober. The department hasn't had any
permanent head since."

He was sorry he had said this, but it did not seem to shock her, and no
doubt she had not taken it in fully. She abruptly left the subject. "Do
you know what time we really get in to-morrow?"

"About one, I believe - there's a consensus of stewards to that effect,
anyway." After a pause he asked, "Are you likely to be in Carlsbad?"

"We are going to Dresden, first, I believe. Then we may go on down to
Vienna. But nothing is settled, yet."

"Are you going direct to Dresden?"

"I don't know. We may stay in Hamburg a day or two."

"I've got to go straight to Carlsbad. There's a sleeping-car that will
get me there by morning: Mr. Stoller likes zeal. But I hope you'll let me
be of use to you any way I can, before we part tomorrow."

"You're very kind. You've been very good already - to papa." He protested
that he had not been at all good. "But he's used to taking care of
himself on the other side. Oh, it's this side, now!"

"So it is! How strange that seems! It's actually Europe. But as long as
we're at sea, we can't realize it. Don't you hate to have experiences
slip through your fingers?"

"I don't know. A girl doesn't have many experiences of her own; they're
always other people's."

This affected Burnamy as so profound that he did not question its truth.
He only suggested, "Well; sometimes they make other people have the

Whether Miss Triscoe decided that this was too intimate or not she left
the question. "Do you understand German?"

"A little. I studied it at college, and I've cultivated a sort of
beer-garden German in Chicago. I can ask for things."

"I can't, except in French, and that's worse than English, in Germany, I

"Then you must let me be your interpreter up to the last moment. Will

She did not answer. "It must be rather late, isn't it?" she asked. He let
her see his watch, and she said, "Yes, it's very late," and led the way
within. "I must look after my packing; papa's always so prompt, and I
must justify myself for making him let me give up my maid when we left
home; we expect to get one in Dresden. Good-night!"

Burnamy looked after her drifting down their corridor, and wondered
whether it would have been a fit return for her expression of a sense of
novelty in him as a literary man if he had told her that she was the
first young lady he had known who had a maid. The fact awed him; Miss
Triscoe herself did not awe him so much.


The next morning was merely a transitional period, full of turmoil and
disorder, between the broken life of the sea and the untried life of the
shore. No one attempted to resume the routine of the voyage. People went
and came between their rooms and the saloons and the decks, and were no
longer careful to take their own steamer chairs when they sat down for a

In the cabins the berths were not made up, and those who remained below
had to sit on their hard edges, or on the sofas, which were cumbered
with, hand-bags and rolls of shawls. At an early hour after breakfast the
bedroom stewards began to get the steamer trunks out and pile them in the
corridors; the servants all became more caressingly attentive; and people
who had left off settling the amount of the fees they were going to give,
anxiously conferred together. The question whether you ought ever to give
the head steward anything pressed crucially at the early lunch, and Kenby
brought only a partial relief by saying that he always regarded the head
steward as an officer of the ship. March made the experiment of offering
him six marks, and the head steward took them quite as if he were not an
officer of the ship. He also collected a handsome fee for the music,
which is the tax levied on all German ships beyond the tolls exacted on
the steamers of other nations.

After lunch the flat shore at Cuxhaven was so near that the summer
cottages of the little watering-place showed through the warm drizzle
much like the summer cottages of our own shore, and if it had not been
for the strange, low sky, the Americans might easily have fancied
themselves at home again.

Every one waited on foot while the tender came out into the stream where
the Norumbia had dropped anchor. People who had brought their
hand-baggage with them from their rooms looked so much safer with it that
people who had left theirs to their stewards had to go back and pledge
them afresh not to forget it. The tender came alongside, and the transfer
of the heavy trunks began, but it seemed such an endless work that every
one sat down in some other's chair. At last the trunks were all on the
tender, and the bareheaded stewards began to run down the gangways with
the hand-baggage. "Is this Hoboken?" March murmured in his wife's ear,
with a bewildered sense of something in the scene like the reversed
action of the kinematograph.

On the deck of the tender there was a brief moment of reunion among the
companions of the voyage, the more intimate for their being crowded
together under cover from the drizzle which now turned into a dashing
rain. Burnamy's smile appeared, and then Mrs. March recognized Miss
Triscoe and her father in their travel dress; they were not far from
Burnamy's smile, but he seemed rather to have charge of the Eltwins, whom
he was helping look after their bags and bundles. Rose Adding was talking
with Kenby, and apparently asking his opinion of something; Mrs. Adding
sat near them tranquilly enjoying her son.

Mrs. March made her husband identify their baggage, large and small, and
after he had satisfied her, he furtively satisfied himself by a fresh
count that it was all there. But he need not have taken the trouble;
their long, calm bedroom-steward was keeping guard over it; his eyes
expressed a contemptuous pity for their anxiety, whose like he must have
been very tired of. He brought their handbags into the customs-room at
the station where they landed; and there took a last leave and a last fee
with unexpected cordiality.

Again their companionship suffered eclipse in the distraction which the
customs inspectors of all countries bring to travellers; and again they
were united during the long delay in the waiting-room, which was also the
restaurant. It was full of strange noises and figures and odors - the
shuffling of feet, the clash of crockery, the explosion of nervous German
voices, mixed with the smell of beer and ham, and the smoke of cigars.
Through it all pierced the wail of a postman standing at the door with a
letter in his hand and calling out at regular intervals, "Krahnay,
Krahnay!" When March could bear it no longer he went up to him and
shouted, "Crane! Crane!" and the man bowed gratefully, and began to cry,
"Kren! Kren!" But whether Mr. Crane got his letter or not, he never knew.

People were swarming at the window of the telegraph-office, and sending
home cablegrams to announce their safe arrival; March could not forbear
cabling to his son, though he felt it absurd. There was a great deal of
talking, but no laughing, except among the Americans, and the girls
behind the bar who tried to understand, what they wanted, and then served
them with what they chose for them. Otherwise the Germans, though
voluble, were unsmiling, and here on the threshold of their empire the
travellers had their first hint of the anxious mood which seems habitual
with these amiable people.

Mrs. Adding came screaming with glee to March where he sat with his wife,
and leaned over her son to ask, "Do you know what lese-majesty is? Rose
is afraid I've committed it!"

"No, I don't," said March. "But it's the unpardonable sin. What have you
been doing?"

"I asked the official at the door when our train would start, and when he
said at half past three, I said, 'How tiresome!' Rose says the railroads
belong to the state here, and that if I find fault with the time-table,
it's constructive censure of the Emperor, and that's lese-majesty." She
gave way to her mirth, while the boy studied March's face with an
appealing smile.

"Well, I don't think you'll be arrested this time, Mrs. Adding; but I
hope it will be a warning to Mrs. March. She's been complaining of the

"Indeed I shall say what I like," said Mrs. March. "I'm an American."

"Well, you'll find you're a German, if you like to say anything
disagreeable about the coffee in the restaurant of the Emperor's railroad
station; the first thing you know I shall be given three months on your

Mrs. Adding asked: "Then they won't punish ladies? There, Rose! I'm safe,
you see; and you're still a minor, though you are so wise for your

She went back to her table, where Kenby came and sat down by her.

"I don't know that I quite like her playing on that sensitive child,",
said Mrs. March. "And you've joined with her in her joking. Go and speak,
to him!"

The boy was slowly following his mother, with his head fallen. March
overtook him, and he started nervously at the touch of a hand on his
shoulder, and then looked gratefully up into the man's face. March tried
to tell him what the crime of lese-majesty was, and he said: "Oh, yes. I
understood that. But I got to thinking; and I don't want my mother to
take any risks."

"I don't believe she will, really, Rose. But I'll speak to her, and tell
her she can't be too cautious."

"Not now, please!" the boy entreated.

"Well, I'll find another chance," March assented. He looked round and
caught a smiling nod from Burnamy, who was still with the Eltwins; the
Triscoes were at a table by themselves; Miss Triseoe nodded too, but her
father appeared not to see March. "It's all right, with Rose," he said,
when he sat down again by his wife; "but I guess it's all over with
Burnamy," and he told her what he had seen. "Do you think it came to any
displeasure between them last night? Do you suppose he offered himself,
and she - "

"What nonsense!" said Mrs. March, but she was not at peace. "It's her
father who's keeping her away from him."

"I shouldn't mind that. He's keeping her away from us, too." But at that
moment Miss Triscoe as if she had followed his return from afar, came
over to speak to his wife. She said they were going on to Dresden that
evening, and she was afraid they might have no chance to see each other
on the train or in Hamburg. March, at this advance, went to speak with
her father; he found him no more reconciled to Europe than America.

"They're Goths," he said of the Germans. "I could hardly get that stupid
brute in the telegraph-office to take my despatch."

On his way back to his wife March met Miss Triscoe; he was not altogether
surprised to meet Burnamy with her, now. The young fellow asked if he
could be of any use to him, and then he said he would look him up in the
train. He seemed in a hurry, but when he walked away with Miss Triscoe he
did not seem in a hurry.

March remarked upon the change to his wife, and she sighed, "Yes, you can
see that as far as they're concerned."

"It's a great pity that there should be parents to complicate these
affairs," he said. "How simple it would be if there were no parties to
them but the lovers! But nature is always insisting upon fathers and
mothers, and families on both sides."


The long train which they took at last was for the Norumbia's people
alone, and it was of several transitional and tentative types of cars.
Some were still the old coach-body carriages; but most were of a strange
corridor arrangement, with the aide at the aide, and the seats crossing
from it, with compartments sometimes rising to the roof, and sometimes
rising half-way. No two cars seemed quite alike, but all were very
comfortable; and when the train began to run out through the little
sea-side town into the country, the old delight of foreign travel began.
Most of the houses were little and low and gray, with ivy or flowering
vines covering their walls to their browntiled roofs; there was here and
there a touch of Northern Gothic in the architecture; but usually where
it was pretentious it was in the mansard taste, which was so bad with us
a generation ago, and is still very bad in Cuxhaven.

The fields, flat and wide, were dotted with familiar shapes of Holstein
cattle, herded by little girls, with their hair in yellow pigtails. The
gray, stormy sky hung low, and broke in fitful rains; but perhaps for the
inclement season of mid-summer it was not very cold. Flowers were
blooming along the embankments and in the rank green fields with a dogged
energy; in the various distances were groups of trees embowering cottages
and even villages, and always along the ditches and watercourses were
double lines of low willows. At the first stop the train made, the
passengers flocked to the refreshment-booth, prettily arranged beside the
station, where the abundance of the cherries and strawberries gave proof
that vegetation was in other respects superior to the elements. But it
was not of the profusion of the sausages, and the ham which openly in
slices or covertly in sandwiches claimed its primacy in the German
affections; every form of this was flanked by tall glasses of beer.

A number of the natives stood by and stared unsmiling at the train, which
had broken out in a rash of little American flags at every window. This
boyish display, which must have made the Americans themselves laugh, if
their sense of humor had not been lost in their impassioned patriotism,
was the last expression of unity among the Norumbia's passengers, and
they met no more in their sea-solidarity. Of their table acquaintance the
Marches saw no one except Burnamy, who came through the train looking for
them. He said he was in one of the rear cars with the Eltwins, and was
going to Carlsbad with them in the sleeping-car train leaving Hamburg at
seven. He owned to having seen the Triscoes since they had left Cuxhaven;
Mrs. March would not suffer herself to ask him whether they were in the
same carriage with the Eltwins. He had got a letter from Mr. Stoller at
Cuxhaven, and he begged the Marches to let him engage rooms for them at
the hotel where he was going to stay with him.

After they reached Hamburg they had flying glimpses of him and of others
in the odious rivalry to get their baggage examined first which seized
upon all, and in which they no longer knew one another, but selfishly
struggled for the good-will of porters and inspectors. There was really
no such haste; but none could govern themselves against the general
frenzy. With the porter he secured March conspired and perspired to win
the attention of a cold but not unkindly inspector. The officer opened
one trunk, and after a glance at it marked all as passed, and then there
ensued a heroic strife with the porter as to the pieces which were to go
to the Berlin station for their journey next day, and the pieces which
were to go to the hotel overnight. At last the division was made; the
Marches got into a cab of the first class; and the porter, crimson and
steaming at every pore from the physical and intellectual strain, went
back into the station.

They had got the number of their cab from the policeman who stands at the
door of all large German stations and supplies the traveller with a
metallic check for the sort of vehicle he demands. They were not proud,
but it seemed best not to risk a second-class cab in a strange city, and
when their first-class cab came creaking and limping out of the rank,
they saw how wise they had been, if one of the second class could have
been worse.

As they rattled away from the station they saw yet another kind of
turnout, which they were destined to see more and more in the German
lands. It was that team of a woman harnessed with a dog to a cart which
the women of no other country can see without a sense of personal insult.
March tried to take the humorous view, and complained that they had not
been offered the choice of such an equipage by the policeman, but his
wife would not be amused. She said that no country which suffered such a
thing could be truly civilized, though he made her observe that no city
in the world, except Boston or Brooklyn, was probably so thoroughly
trolleyed as Hamburg. The hum of the electric car was everywhere, and
everywhere the shriek of the wires overhead; batlike flights of
connecting plates traversed all the perspectives through which they drove
to the pleasant little hotel they had chosen.


On one hand their windows looked toward a basin of the Elbe, where
stately white swans were sailing; and on the other to the new Rathhaus,
over the trees that deeply shaded the perennial mud of a cold, dim public
garden, where water-proof old women and impervious nurses sat, and
children played in the long twilight of the sour, rain-soaked summer of
the fatherland. It was all picturesque, and within-doors there was the
novelty of the meagre carpets and stalwart furniture of the Germans, and
their beds, which after so many ages of Anglo-Saxon satire remain
immutably preposterous. They are apparently imagined for the stature of
sleepers who have shortened as they broadened; their pillows are
triangularly shaped to bring the chin tight upon the breast under the
bloated feather bulk which is meant for covering, and which rises over
the sleeper from a thick substratum of cotton coverlet, neatly buttoned
into the upper sheet, with the effect of a portly waistcoat.

The hotel was illumined by the kindly splendor of the uniformed portier,
who had met the travellers at the door, like a glowing vision of the
past, and a friendly air diffused itself through the whole house. At the
dinner, which, if not so cheap as they had somehow hoped, was by no means
bad, they took counsel with the English-speaking waiter as to what
entertainment Hamburg could offer for the evening, and by the time they
had drunk their coffee they had courage for the Circus Renz, which seemed
to be all there was.

The conductor of the trolley-car, which they hailed at the street corner,
stopped it and got off the platform, and stood in the street until they

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Online LibraryWilliam Dean HowellsTheir Silver Wedding Journey — Volume 1 → online text (page 7 of 10)