The 2012 Buddy Read
This was a buddy read in the context of a private discussion group; I’ll therefore only include my own comments in full, and redacted / anonymized versions of the comments of others, to the extent relevant. Quotes not italicized and not attributed to a participant of the buddy read are, unless specifically indicated otherwise, taken from the book under discussion, Elizabeth von Arnim’s The Adventures of Elizabeth in Rügen.
#2 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
THE FIRST DAY – FROM MILTZOW TO LAUTERBACH
Oh, I just love this … just look at the way it starts off:
“Every one who has been to school and still remembers what he was taught there, knows that Rügen is the biggest island Germany possesses, and that it lies in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Pomerania.
Round this island I wished to walk this summer, but no one would walk with me. It is the perfect way of moving if you want to see into the life of things. It is the one way of freedom. If you go to a place on anything but your own feet you are taken there too fast, and miss a thousand delicate joys that were waiting for you by the wayside. If you drive you are bound by a variety of considerations, eight of the most important being the horses’ legs. If you bicycle—but who that loves to get close to nature would bicycle? And as for motors, the object of a journey like mine was not the getting to a place but the going there.”
I have a feeling this is going to yield about a million further “favorite quotes!” And she is so right about walking of course … nothing like it if you REALLY want to get a feeling for a place! (I CAN see how her friends would be daunted by the prospect of walking all ’round Rügen, though. 🙂 )
And then her flight of fancy upon reading the opening of Marianne North’s book … North writes one paragraph about a fairy tale island of prehistoric age (and the practical necessities of bringing money if one wants to visit now), and Elizabeth’s mind wanders straight off to crystal blue skies, jellyfish, forests and the White Cliffs of Caspar David Friedrich fame!
#3 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Also, what strikes me (not for the first time) is her pitch-perfect sense of language(s). Reading her renditions of dialogue that would have occurred in German, I can literally hear people talking … in turn-of-the-centuries GERMAN! Her translations are so spot-on, I get an absolute kick out of imagining how those conversations must actually have run — idioms, colloquialisms and all.
Oh, and that proud, merry tea basket’s demise — I didn’t know whether to laugh or to cry at that episode … (not to mention their sudden “loss” of transportation in the first place)!
#5 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Then, too, there is the German version of the “beach resort” culture. I think I mentioned when we hooked up for this buddy read that my family used to love going to Rügen as well (going just about as far back as the time when Elizabeth von Arnim visited, too). And, you know, the funny thing is … although fashions have changed of course, the basic tenets of what she describes — or hints at — even in this first chapter have not changed all that dramatically! A lot of what being a “Badegast” in a German North Sea or Baltic Sea seaside resort involves/implies still seems to be what it already was back in her (and my grandparents’) day (and, in fact, back in the days of Thomas Mann’s stays in various seaside resorts as well, such as they are recorded in Buddenbrooks)! What Rügen and Warnemünde were to them, Föhr and its neighboring North Sea islands have come to be to me.
My maternal grandpa and his younger brothers (we think) during a seaside (Rügen?) vacation, with their paternal grandmother (left) and two aunts (at some point prior to 1910).
Rügen, summer 1939: to the right, my mom’s elder sister and brother; in the back, my grandpa with my mom on his shoulders.
Rügen, summer 1939: My grandpa, with my mom on his knees and her elder sister and brother.
Rügen, summer 1940: My grandparents, my mom and her siblings.
On the pier, about to take the ferry to Föhr island (German North Sea coast, 1978): My mom (right), her sister, my cousins (left & center) and yours truly.
(Err — alright. Transport has come quite a long way since the days of Elizabeth’s rickety ferry crossing … 🙂
Föhr island, German North Sea coast: On the beach, at dusk (1990s).
#6 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
B wrote: “Oh, and that proud, merry tea basket’s demise — I didn’t know wether to laugh or to cry at that episode … (not to mention their sudden “loss” of transportation in the first place)!
“Lauf, Gertrud!” 🙂
And: “Ruf – lauter!”
#8 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“About a mile and a half off lay Lauterbach, a little straggling group of houses down by the water; and quite by itself, a mile to the left of Lauterbach, I could see the hotel we were going to, a long white building something like a Greek temple, with a portico and a flight of steps the entire length of its façade, conspicuous in its whiteness against a background of beechwoods. Woods and fields and sea and a lovely little island a short way from the shore called Vilm, were bathed in sunset splendour. Lauterbach and not Putbus, then, was the place of radiant jelly-fish and crystal water and wooded coves. Probably in those distant years when Marianne North enjoyed them Lauterbach as an independent village with a name to itself did not exist. A branch railway goes down now to the very edge of the sea. We crossed the line and drove between chestnut trees and high grassy banks starry with flowers to the Greek hotel.
How delightful it looked as we got out of the deep chestnut lane into the open space in front of it before we were close enough to see that time had been unkind. The sea was within a stone’s throw on the right beyond a green, marshy, rushy meadow. On the left people were mowing in a field. Across the field the spire of a little Lutheran church looked out oddly round the end of the pagan portico. Behind and on either side were beeches. Not a soul came out as we drew up at the bottom of the steps. Not a soul was to be seen except the souls with scythes in the meadow. We waited a moment, thinking to hear a bell rung and to see flying waiters, but no one came. The scythes in the meadow swished, the larks called down that it was a fine evening, some fowls came and pecked about on the sunny steps of the temple, some red sails passed between the trunks of the willows down near the water.”
#13 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
W. wrote: “Beautiful pics, T-A. Thank you so much for sharing!
That poor tea-basket to be buried by the roadside. I laughed out loud at The Gracious One and Gertrude being left behind. I am glad he came thundering back into their lives.”
Tee hee. “The Gracious One” being “Die Gnädige” (or “Die Gnädige Frau”) in German, of course — not that she would seem to care all that much for the privilege coming with that title, though:
“My acquaintances do not ask the erudite to dinner, one of the reasons, as insufficient as the rest, being that they either wear day clothes in the evening, or, if worldly enough to dress, mar the effect by white satin ties with horse-shoe pins in them; and another is that they are Liberals, and therefore uninvitable. When the unknown youth, passing naturally from Kant and the older philosophers to the great Germans now living, enthusiastically mentioned the leading lights in science and art and asked if I knew them or had ever seen them — the mere seeing of them he seemed to think would be a privilege — I could only murmur no. How impossible to explain to this scion of an unprejudiced race the limitless objection of the class called Junker — I am a female Junker — to mix on equal terms with the class that wears white satin ties in the evening. But it is obvious that a man who can speak with the tongue of angels, who has put his seal on his century, and who will be remembered when we have returned, forgotten, to the Prussian dust from which we came — or rather not forgotten because we were at no time remembered, but simply ignored — it is obvious that such a man may wear what tie he pleases when he comes to dine, and still ought to be received on metaphorical knees of reverence and gratitude. Probably, however, if we who live in the country and think no end of ourselves did invite such a one, and whether there were hostesses on knees waiting for him or not, he would not come. How bored he would be if he did. He would find us full of those excellences Pater calls the more obvious parochial virtues, jealous to madness of the sensitive and bloodthirsty appendage known as our honour, exact in the observance of minor conventionalities, correct in our apparel, rigid in our views, and in our effect uninterruptedly soporific. The man who had succeeded in pushing his thoughts farther into the region of the hitherto unthought than any of his contemporaries would not, I think, if he came once, come again. But it is supposing the impossible, after all, to suppose him invited, for all the great ones of whom the unknown youth talked are Liberals, and all the Junkers are Conservatives; and how shall a German Conservative be the friend of a German Liberal? The thing is unthinkable. Like the young man’s own definition of the Absolute, it is a negation of the conceivable.”
#14 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
[Other] English aristocrats have been known to issue just as damning verdicts on their own class, though …
“If certain able stocks in the community were able to amass enough wealth to give their descendants beautiful houses to grow up in, the widest opportunities of education, complete economic security, so that they need never be influenced by mercenary considerations, and easy access to any public form of work they chose to undertake— why, then, the community had a race of perfect governors ready made. Only, as the Lauristons showed, the process worked out wholly different in practice. There came to these selected stocks a deadly, ungrateful complacence, which made them count these opportunities as their achievements, and belittle everybody else’s achievements unless they were similarly confused with opportunities; and which did worse than this, by abolishing all standards from their minds except what they themselves were and did.”
Rebecca West: The Thinking Reed
And though I don’t have my copy of Julian Fellowes’s Past Imperfect handy, I distinctly remember him expressing similar thoughts there, too (as well as, of course, in his screenplay for Gosford Park)!
#15 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
THE SECOND DAY – LAUTERBACH AND VILM
… even starting off with faint praise of the above flavor:
“A ripe experience of German pillows in country places leads me to urge the intending traveller to be sure to take his own. The native pillows are mere bags, in which feathers may have been once. There is no substance in them at all. They are of a horrid flabbiness. And they have, of course, the common drawback of all public pillows, they are haunted by the nightmares of other people. A pillow, it is true, takes up a great deal of room in one’s luggage, but in Rügen however simply you dress you are better dressed than the others, so that you need take hardly any clothes. … And let no one visit Rügen who is not of that meek and lowly character that would always prefer a good pillow to a diversity of raiment, and has no prejudices about its food.
Having eased my conscience by these hints, which he will find invaluable, to the traveller, I can now go on to say that except for the pillow I would have had if I had not brought my own, for the coloured quilt, for the water to wash with brought in a very small coffee-pot, and for the breakfast which was as cold and repellent as in some moods some persons find the world, my experiences of the hotel were pleasing. It is true that I spent most of the day, as I shall presently relate, away from it, and it is also true that in the searching light of morning I saw much that had been hidden: scraps of paper lying about the grass near the house, an automatic bon-bon machine in the form of a brooding hen, and an automatic weighing machine, both at the top of the very steps leading down to the nook that had been the night before enchanted, and, worst shock of all, an electric bell piercing the heart of the very beech tree under which I had sat.”
As for pillows, let it be noted that — town and country alike — German pillows have come to have a lot less to answer for these days. (Hrmpf.) Indeed, many’s the time when, traveling, we’ve found those foreign pillows not quite to be to our satisfaction …
#16 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Love her descriptions of the Lauterbach beach, too …
(Lauterbach Beach as shown on a postcard)
… and her ruminations on Wordsworth! What a place indeed to be reading The Prelude …
#17 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
… and then on to Vilm, where in a mere hop, skip and a jump of poetic imagination, a a blond-bearded fisherman and his boat with bright brown sails turn into a Viking with a boat with golden sails!
But then, the name “Vilm” really does sound almost more Scandinavian than German, at least to me …
#19 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Yet, how are the mighty fallen! Elizabeth paid 5 Marks (Reichsmark) for a hotel room pricier than those in Putbus, and 3 Marks for her private passage to Vilm … some 10 years ago, when we exchanged our “Deutsche Mark” for the Euro, 5 Marks would have bought you a Big Mac (and 3 Marks two hamburgers) — you wouldn’t even have been able to buy a whole meal for that kind of money even then; and nowadays, never mind the fixed official exchange rate (1€ = 1.95583 DM), it’s the Euro that has about the same purchasing power!
Of course this was before both World Wars and before the big recession of the 1920s, but still … it would mean that in Elizabeth’s day 1 Reichsmark had about 20 times (or even more of) the purchasing power of today’s money. (It’s similarly astounding to look at the currencies of other countries — in the introduction of The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, Kate Summerscale says that in 1860, 1£ had the purchasing power of 65£ in today’s money! That just gives you an idea just HOW wealthy, going even further back to the beginning of the 19th century, Jane Austen’s Mr. Bingly and Mr. Darcy really would have been with annual incomes of £5,000 and £10,000, respectively.)
#21 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
In that spirit, final post for today — a few impressions (snagged from around the web) of Vilm, Elizabeth’s destination on the second afternoon of her travels, where she had her delightful encounter with the naive young English photographer and his “conscientiously grammatical, laboriously put together” German that sounded “so like pieces of Goethe learned by heart” (would that anybody ever said about my English that it was “like pieces of Shakespeare/Jane Austen/Mark Twain” learned by heart!!) — and which more recently, alas though not surprisingly perhaps, was a favorite resort of Erich Honecker’s!
#23 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
L. wrote: “I hope I’ll be able to catch you during this week-end since this 2nd book of Proust is a very hard reading.”
Sounds good as far as Elizabeth von Arnim is concerned … not so good re: Proust! :~
Happy slogging …
#30 – L.
I didn’t know that she was born in NZ, amazing….
#31 – W.
I hope Elizabeth is able to rid herself of Charlotte soon. Charlotte is giving me a headache. And I think Charlotte is disrupting Elizabeth’s peace/sanity too. She is mine!
#32 – L.
with such annoying friend, Elizabeth deserves a better life …
#33 – L.
With this vivid description of the place, shared by TA, is like watching to the movie based on this book. The pillow’s argument is simply amazing.
#34 – W.
TA’s pics make the book really come alive. I will be sad when I finish reading this one.
#35 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Oooohhh ladies — I stopped so as not to get too far ahead of L., and now it seems you are both ahead of me! Hastening to catch up with you, I’m now somewhere in the middle of day 4, not long after Elizabeth’s meeting with Charlotte … who sounds no particular treat, even at this early stage, and I dread what is to come!
That said, here are a few more images … (and trawling the web for those makes me want to drop everything else and visit Rügen on the spot! If only I could …) 🙂
#36 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
THE THIRD DAY – FROM LAUTERBACH TO GÖHREN
“I would not, myself, make use of Vilmnitz except as a village to be driven through on the way to somewhere else. For this purpose it is quite satisfactory though its roads might be less sandy, for it is a flowery place with picturesque, prosperous-looking cottages, and high up on a mound the oldest church in the island.”
#37 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“There are many Hun graves, big mounds with trees growing on them, and I suppose Huns inside them, round Stresow, and a monument reminding the passer-by of a battle fought there between the Prussians under the old Dessauer and the Swedes. We won. It was my duty as a good German to swell with patriotic pride on beholding this memorial, and I did so. As a nation, the least thing sets us swelling with this particular sort of pride. We acquire the habit in our childhood when we imitate our parents, and on any fine Sunday afternoon you may see whole families standing round the victory column and the statues in the Sieges Allee in Berlin engaged in doing it. The old Dessauer is not very sharply outlined in a mind that easily forgets, and I am afraid to say how little I know of him except that he was old and a Dessauer; yet I felt extremely proud of him, and proud of Germany, and proud of myself as I saw the place where we fought under him and won. ‘Oh blood and iron!’ I cried, ‘Glorious and potent mixture! Do you see that monument, Gertrud? It marks the spot where we Prussians won a mighty battle, led by the old, the heroic Dessauer.’ And though Gertrud, I am positive, is even more vague about him than I am, at the mention of a Prussian victory her face immediately and mechanically took on the familiar expression of him who is secretly swelling.”
(I had to laugh out loud when reading this — she’s so spot on … again!)
Left: Hun grave on Rügen — not sure it’s at Stresow (there are other sites as well, apparently … but you get the idea!)
Right: The Stresow “Prussia Column” (the battle monument Elizabeth mentions), such as Elizabeth might have seen it. As Wikipedia informs us, the column no longer stands … having been found in need of restoration, and accidentally been destroyed in the process of taking it down for purposes of said restoration, its remains now linger in uncertainty until sufficient funds can be mustered to allow for their reassemblage and reinstatement. Hmm! I wonder what Elizabeth would say to THAT?
Leopold I, Prince of Anhalt-Dessau (3 July 1676 – 7 April 1747), nicknamed “The Old Dessauer” — ruler of the principality of Anhalt-Dessau and Generalfeldmarschall (field marshall) in the Prussian army, who participated in the battle fought on Rügen on 16 November 1715 during the Great Northern War.
#38 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“And so we came to the region of Baabe, passing first round the outskirts of Sellin, a place of villas built in the woods on the east coast of Rügen with the sea on one side and a big lake called the Selliner See on the other; and driving round the north end of this lake we got on to the dullest bit of road we had yet had, running beside a railway line and roughly paved with stones, pine-woods on our left shutting out the sea, and on our right across a marshy flat the lake, and bare and dreary hills.
These, then, were the woods of Baabe. Down the straight road, unpleasing even in the distance, I could see new houses standing aimlessly about, lodging-houses out of sight and sound of the sea waiting for chest-sufferers, the lodging-houses of the Lonely One. ‘I will not stay at Baabe,’ I called energetically to August, who had been told we were to stop there that night, ‘go on to the next place.'”
And Baabe still seems to be looking exactly like Elizabeth describes it. I think if I ever do go to Rügen, I will decide not to stay there, either …
#39 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“The forest, at first only pines and rather scrubby ones, stretches the whole way from Baabe to Göhren and grows more and more beautiful. We had to drive at a walking-pace because of the deep sand; but these sandy roads have the advantage of being so quiet that you can hear something besides the noise of wheels and hoofs. Not till we got to Göhren did we see the sea, but I heard it all the way, for outside the forest the breeze had freshened into a wind, and though we hardly felt it I could see it passing over the pine-tops and hear how they sighed. I suppose we must have been driving an hour among the pines before we got into a region of mixed forest—beeches and oaks and an undergrowth of whortleberries; and then tourists began to flutter among the trees, tourists with baskets searching for berries, so that it was certain Göhren could not be far off. We came quite suddenly upon its railway station, a small building alone in the woods, the terminus of the line whose other end is Putbus. Across the line were white dunes with young beeches bending in the wind, and beyond these dunes the sea roared. Beeches and dunes were in the full glow of the sunset. We, skirting the forest on the other side, were in deep shadow. The air was so fresh that it was almost cold. I stopped August and got out and crossed the deserted line and climbed up the dunes, and oh the glorious sight on the other side—the glorious, dashing, roaring sea! What was pale Lauterbach compared to this? A mere lake, a crystal pool, a looking-glass, a place in which to lie by the side of still waters and dream over your own and heaven’s reflection. But here one could not dream; here was life, vigorous, stinging, blustering life; and standing on the top of the dune holding my hat on with both hands, banged and battered by the salt wind, my clothes flapping and straining like a flag in a gale on a swaying flagstaff, the weight of a generation was blown off my shoulders, and I was seized by a craving as unsuitable as it was terrific to run and fetch a spade and a bucket, and dig and dig till it was too dark to dig any longer, and then go indoors tired and joyful and have periwinkles or shrimps for tea. And behold Gertrud, cold reminder of realities, beside me cloak in hand; and she told me it was chilly, and she put the cloak round my unresisting shoulders, and it was heavy with the weight of hours and custom; and the sun dropped at that moment behind the forest, and all the radiance and colour went out together. ‘Thank you, Gertrud,’ I said as she wrapped me up; but though I shivered I was not grateful.”
Hah — and that’s putting it mildly. I’d probably have (near-)strangled Gertrud for making the moment end in such a pedestrian anticlimax!
#40 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Oh, but what a further anticlimax to this glorious sunset in the night to follow, in an over-bedded and under-comfortable room providing nothing but this kind of thing for purposes of hygiene!
#41 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“‘Put out? My dear Gertrud, I have been thinking of very serious things. You cannot expect me to frolic along paths of thought that lead to mighty and unpleasant truths. Why should I always smile? I am not a Cheshire cat.’
‘I trust the gracious one will come in now and enter her bed,’ said Gertrud decidedly, who had never heard of Cheshire cats, and was sure that the mention of them indicated a brain in need of repose.”
Another classic Gertrud moment … 🙂
#42 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
THE FOURTH DAY – FROM GÖHREN TO THIESSOW
“The guide-book warmly recommends the seashore when the wind is in the east (which it was) as the quickest and firmest route from Göhren to Thiessow; but I chose rather to take the road over the plain because there was a poem in the guide-book about the way along the shore, and the guide-book said it described it extremely well, and I was sure that if that were so I would do better to go the other way. This is the poem — the translation is exact, the original being unrhymed, and the punctuation is the poet’s —
Dipping gulls —
Morning grey —
I read it, marvelled, and went the other way.”
Teehee. Pithy Elizabeth!
#43 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“I put The Prelude in my pocket and went out. The fir-wood was stuffy, and suggested mosquitoes, but several bath-guests had slung up hammocks and were lying in them dozing, so that there could not have been mosquitoes; and coming suddenly out on to the sands all idea of stuffiness vanished, for there was the same glorious, heaving, sparkling, splashing blue that I had seen from the dunes of Göhren the evening before at sunset. The bathing-house, a modest place with only two cells and a long plank bridge running into deep water, was just opposite the end of the path through the firs. It was locked up and deserted. The sands were deserted too, for the tourists were all dozing in hammocks or in beds. I made a hollow in the clean dry sand beneath the last of the fir trees, and settled down to enjoy myself till Gertrud came. Oh, I was happy! Thiessow was so quiet and primitive, the afternoon so radiant, the colours of the sea and of the long line of silver sand, and of the soft green gloom of the background of firs so beautiful. Commendably far away to the north I saw the coastguard hill belonging to Göhren. On my right the woods turned into beechwoods, and scrambled up high cliffs that seemed to form the end of the peninsula. I would go and look at all that later on after my bathe. If there is a thing I love it is exploring the little paths of an unknown wood, finding out the corners where it keeps its periwinkles and anemones, discovering its birds’ nests, waiting motionless for its hedgehogs and squirrels, and even searching out those luscious recesses, oozy and green, where it keeps its happy slugs. They tell me slugs are not really happy, that Nature is cruel, and that you only have to scratch the pleasant surface of things to get at once to blood-curdling brutalities. Perhaps if you were to go on scratching you might get to consolations and beneficiencies again; but why scratch at all? Why not take the beauty and be grateful? I will not scratch. I will not criticise my own mother who has sheltered me so long in her broad bosom, and been so long my surest guide to all that is gentle and lovely. Whatever she does, from thunderbolts to headaches, I will not criticise; for if she gives me a headache, is there not pleasure when it leaves off? And if she hurls a thunderbolt at me and I am unexpectedly exterminated, my body shall serve as a basis for fresh life and growth, and shall blossom out presently into an immortality of daisies.”
A last Wordsworth-inspired moment of poetry …
Historic views of the beach at Thiessow.
#45 – W.
Themis-Athena wrote: “”‘Put out? My dear Gertrud, I have been thinking of very serious things. You cannot expect me to frolic along paths of thought that lead to mighty and unpleasant truths. Why should I always smile? …”
Elizabeth and Gertrude make the perfect comedy team – one a perfect straight foil to the other’s folly.
#46 – B.
W. wrote: “Themis-Athena wrote: “”‘Put out? My dear Gertrud, I have been thinking of very serious things. You cannot expect me to frolic along paths of thought that lead to mighty and unpleasant truths. Why s…”
I love Gertrude – the way she is joined at the hip to her knitting…
#48 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
W. wrote: Elizabeth and Gertrude make the perfect comedy team – one a perfect straight foil to the other’s folly.”
And I’m not sure which of the two was made more uncomfortable by the other on occasion … Though Elizabeth at least had her sense of humor to help her get through those situations!
Good thing to possess a sense of humor, too, in light of what was to come next, for at Thiessow, as (I think) we’ve all read in the interim …
#49 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
… unpleasantness struck in the form of Elizabeth’s cousin Charlotte (a/k/a Katherine Mansfield)!
“I turned my head and gazed reproachfully at Charlotte. How pretty she used to be. How prettily the corners of her mouth used to turn up, as though her soul were always smiling. And she had had the dearest chin with a dimple in it, and she had had clear, hopeful eyes, and all the lines of her body had been comely and gracious. These are solid advantages that should not lightly be allowed to go. Not a trace of them was left. Her face was thin, and its expression of determination made it look hard. There was a deep line straight down between her eyebrows, as though she frowned at life more than is needful. Angles had everywhere taken the place of curves. Her eyes were as bright and intelligent as ever, but seemed to have grown larger. Something had completely done for Charlotte as far as beauty of person goes; whether it was the six Bernhards, or her actual enthusiasms, or the unusual mixture of both, I could not at this stage discover; nor could I yet see if her soul had gained the beauty that her body had lost, which is undoubtedly what the rightly cared-for soul does do. Meanwhile anything more utterly unlike the wife of a famous professor I have never seen. The wife of an aged German celebrity should be, and is, calm, comfortable, large, and slow. She must be, and is, proud of her great man. She attends to his bodily wants, and does not presume to share his spiritual excitements. In their common life he is the brain, she the willing hands and feet. It is perfectly fair. If there are to be great men some one must be found to look after them—some one who shall be more patient, faithful, and admiring than a servant, and unable like a servant to throw up the situation on the least provocation. A wife is an admirable institution. She is the hedge set between the precious flowers of the male intellect and the sun and dust of sordid worries. She is the flannel that protects when the winds of routine are cold. She is the sheltering jam that makes the pills of life possible. She is buffer, comforter, and cook. And so long as she enjoys these various roles the arrangement is perfect. The difficulties begin when, defying Nature’s teaching, which on this point is luminous, she refuses to be the hedge, flannel, jam, buffer, comforter, and cook; and when she goes so far on the sulphuric path of rebellion as to insist on being clever on her own account and publicly, she has, in Germany at least, set every law of religion and decency at defiance. Charlotte had been doing this, if all I had heard was true, for the last three years; therefore her stern inquiry addressed to a wife of my sobriety struck me as singularly out of place. What had I been doing with my life? Looking back into it in search of an answer it seemed very spacious, and sunny, and quiet. There were children in it, and there was a garden, and a spouse in whose eyes I was precious; but I had not done anything. And if I could point to no pamphlets or lectures, neither need I point to a furrow between my eyebrows.”
Oh, dear. Not a happy pairing for purposes of joint travel at all …
#50 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
… though I CAN see why Charlotte would have left her husband, and that her marrying him can only be understood as an act of misguided youthful admiration:
“I was so unfortunate as to remark, no doubt with enthusiasm, that I had read some of his simpler works to my great benefit and unbounded admiration. He looked more benign than ever, and said he had had no idea that anything of his was taught in elementary schools.”
“He came after me, called me his liebe kleine Cousine, and sitting down beside me patted my hand and inquired with solicitude how it was he had never seen me before. Renewed attempts on my part to feed like a bee on the honey of his learning were met only by pats. He would pat, but he would not impart wisdom; and the longer he patted the more perfect did his serenity seem to become. When people approached us and showed a tendency to hang on the great man’s lips, he looked up with a happy smile and said, ‘This is my little cousin—we have much to say to each other,’ and turned his back on them.”
I’m not sure how much of this is actually based on a man Katherine Mansfield’s life and to what extent “Charlotte” and her execrable professorial husband are blends of several persons, though. Katherine Mansfield only met her first husband in 1909, some 5 years AFTER Elizabeth’s Rügen adventures … and neither of her husbands actually was a German porofessor, much less THAT much her senior. Does anyone know who or what is hiding behind the “Professor Nieberlein” character?
#51 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
B. wrote: “I love Gertrude – the way she is joined at the hip to her knitting…”
W. wrote: “Socktober Fest forever!”
#52 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Does anybody else feel like reading has become a bit of a chore since Charlotte’s appearance? (AND the Harvey-Brownes in addition, for good measure.) (Almost) all the joy has gone out of the trip for Elizabeth — and if that’s what you feel merely by reading the book, how infinitely much more tiresome the real experience must have been!
Oh well, we can at least try to go on vicariously enjoying the places Elizabeth visited and did her darndest to enjoy … in spite of recent company!
#53 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
THE FIFTH DAY – FROM THIESSOW TO SELLIN and FROM SELLIN TO BINZ
“Sellin from this side is a pine-forest with a very deep sandy road. Occasional villas appear between the trees, and becoming more frequent join into a string and form one side of the road. After passing them we came to a broad gravel road at right angles to the one we were on, with restaurants and villas on either side, trim rows of iron lamp-posts and stripling chestnut trees, and a wide gap at the end at the edge of the cliff below which lay the sea.
This was the real Sellin, this single wide hot road, with its glaring white houses, and at the back of them on either side the forest brushing against their windows.”
(Sellin was a major locality on Rügen even in Elizabeth’s time — it still is today, probably even more so.)
#54 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“We walked back in silence, each feeling resentful, and keeping along the cliff passed, just before we came to Sellin, a little restaurant of coloured glass, a round building of an atrocious ugliness, which we discovered was one of the prides of Sellin; for afterwards, driving through the forest to Binz, all the sign-posts had fingers pointing in its direction, and bore the inscription Glas Pavilion, schönste Aussicht Sellins. The schöne Aussicht was indisputable, but to choose the loveliest spot and blot its beauty with a coloured glass restaurant so close to a place full of restaurants is surely unusually profane. There it is, however, and all day long it industriously scents the forest round it with the smell of soup. People were beginning to gather about its tables, the people we had seen dining and who had slept since, and some of them were already drinking coffee and eating slabs of cherry cake with a pile of whipped cream on each slab, for all the world as though they had had nothing since breakfast.”
I couldn’t find a contemporary photo of the thing, so perhaps that means they’ve demolished it? If so, certainly not on the grounds of Elizabeth’s aesthetical objections, alas, for in 2008 they came up with this monstrosity right next to the pier …
#55 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Yet, even Sellin has its serene spots — or at least it did in Elizabeth’s day (the presence of an amusement park makes me somewhat doubtful about the serenity of present-day Sellin, photographic evidence of the continued existence of Elizabeth’s beechwood notwithstanding):
“[F]or two hours we wandered and sat about among the beeches, sometimes on the grassy edge of the cliffs, our backs against tree trunks, looking out over the brilliant blue water with its brilliant green shallows, or lying in the grass watching the fine weather clouds floating past between the shining beech-leaves.
Those were glorious hours, for Charlotte dozed most of the time, and it was almost as quiet as though she had not been there at all.
This forest is extremely beautiful. It stretches for miles along the coast, and is full of paths and roads that lead you to unexpected lovelinesses—sudden glimpses of the sea between huge beech trunks on grassy plateaus; deep ravines, their sides clothed with moss, with water trickling down over green stones to the sea out in the sun at the bottom; silent glades of bracken, silvery in the afternoon light, where fallow deer examine you for one brief moment of curiosity before they spring away, panic-stricken, into the deeper shadows of the beeches.”
#56 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“The drive from Sellin to Binz was by far the most beautiful I had had. Up to that point no drive had been uninterruptedly beautiful, but this one was lovely from end to end. It took about an hour and a half, and we were the whole time in the glorious mixed forest belonging to Prince Putbus and called the Granitz. As we neared Binz the road runs down close to the sea, and through the overhanging branches we could see that we had rounded another headland and were in another bay. Also, after having met nothing but shy troops of deer, we began to pass increasing numbers of bath-guests, walking slowly, taking the gentlest of exercise before their evening meal.”
#57 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Binz is, and I believe even in Elizabeth’s day was, THE major seaside resort on Rügen. Thus, it’s not surprising that without prearranged booking they had a hard time finding rooms … and they were extremely fortunate indeed for having found any at all, let alone in such a beautiful location (even if they came at the price of a spooky experience! 🙂 )
(The last 2 images are from 1919 and 1908, respectively — evidence of how busy the place was even back then!)
#58 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
… and after dinner … Booh!! 🙂
#59 – W.
One thing I have noticed since the Charlotte/Harvey-Browne invasion is that the writing and descriptions of places is a bit (just a wee bit) sadder. The descriptions themselves seem a bit “crowded” just as Elizabeth’s life and vacation are a bit crowded. See the pics from the beginning showing large expanses of open space and now the pics are a bit “squashed.” The forest does not feel quite so large.
And I laughed out loud at the “man in the window.”
#60 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
I agree — the descriptions of scenery ARE sadder; they’re also more hurried and less expansive … you clearly get the feeling that she is no longer at ease to do what she set out to do in the first place; to explore Rügen at leisure and completely at her own pace.
The crowdedness is enhanced in the Sellin/Binz area by the fact that this simply IS the most croweded part of the island (at any rate it is these days, but I get the feeling it already was back then); largely due to the fact that Binz and Sellin are major townships, as opposed to the villages she passed through/stayed in before. There actually is just about as much open space outside those two locations as in the areas she visited on the first couple of days — if the images I posted earlier give a contrary impression mea culpa; I just dedicated so much room to the wood they walked in and later also passed through on their way to Binz (the so-called “Granitz”), because Elizabeth seems to have found it so serene and beautiful, and also because it really IS one of the area’s major natural features.
But it’s certainly no accident that Elizabeth and Charlotte would have run into each other, and later on also into the Harvey-Brownes, precisely in this part of the island … it’s where everybody seems to be going at one point or another, these days just as much as in Elizabeth’s time!
And yet, crowds as such don’t necessarily seem to be objectionable to Elizabeth, as long as she can keep them at a distance — it’s being crowded on a more intimate level that she objects to, and with this kind of company, who can blame her? 🙁
#61 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Sellin and Binz — aerial views from a different perspective.
#65 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Before we get to the chalk cliffs, however … (and I was glad to see Elizabeth was able to carve out almost a full day spent at her own leisure again — with lovely expansive descriptions of nature and ruminations on the restoration of her peace of mind):
THE SIXTH DAY – THE JAGDSCHLOSS
“So that was where my walk had led me to. The guide-book devotes several animated pages to this Jagdschloss, or shooting lodge. It belongs to Prince Putbus. Its round tower, rising out of a green sea of wood, was a landmark with which I had soon grown familiar.”
#66 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“‘Do you wish to ascend the tower?’ he asked my companion, showing us the open-work iron staircase winding round and round inside the tower up to the top.
‘Gott Du Allmächtiger, nein,’ was the hasty reply after a glance and a shudder.”
[And again, a few minutes later:]
“[The custodian] hurried, or tried to hurry, [the Harvey-Brownes] under the tower, but the bishop’s wife had not hurried for years, and would not have dreamed of doing so; and when he had got them under it he asked if they wished to make the ascent. They looked up, shuddered, and declined.”
And I can’t blame them! 🙂
#67 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Felt slippers of the infamous sort the visitors to the “Jagdschloss” were made to wear (… like countless visitors to countless other German castles since!)
#68 – W.
I did not picture the tower to be quite so large. Wow!
Chapter 7 was last evening; so, we are just about together.
#69 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“… [Mrs. Harvey-Browne] having remarked that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophy, and I, in order to show my acquaintance with the classics of other countries, having added ‘As Chaucer justly observes,’ to which she said, ‘Ah, yes — so beautiful, isn’t he?’ …”
Probably both Shakespeare AND Chaucer pirouetted in their graves at that … with laughter!! 🙂
#70 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Walls “with antlers and things on them” (beastly custom, that, if you ask me …)
#71 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
The Finnish soldier’s grave, next to which Elizabeth had her [after]noon nap after visiting the “Jagdschloss”
#72 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
W. wrote: “I did not picture the tower to be quite so large. Wow!
Chapter 7 was last evening; so, we are just about together.”
All the better!
Yes, that tower seems to be quite the landmark … according to Wikipedia, its construction was based on sketches by one of Germany’s most famous architects, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, who — inter alia — also designed just about every other historic building of note in Berlin.
#75 – W.
Themis-Athena wrote: “Walls “with antlers and things on them” (beastly custom, that, if you ask me …). “
I dislike the head and antlers being displayed. Makes me feel as though the eyes are watching me.
#77 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
W. wrote: “I dislike the head and antlers being displayed. Makes me feel as though the eyes are watching me.”
Exactly!! Also, why kill animals just so you can put parts of them on display in the first place? Alas, this is a very common sight in German (and English) countryside manors, what with hunting being considered a “sport” and a major pastime amongst the well-to-do … 🙁
#78 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Alright — onward and upward! 🙂
THE SEVENTH DAY – FROM BINZ TO STUBBENKAMMER
Schmachtener See and Schmale Heide
#79 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“At Lubkow, a small village on the Jasmunder Bodden, we got on to the high road to Bergen, and turning up it to the right faced northwards once more. Soon after passing a forestry in the woods we reached the Schmale Heide again, and then for four miles drove along a white road between young pines, the bluest of skies overhead, and on our right, level with the road, the violet sea. This was the first time I saw the Baltic really violet. On other days it had been a deep blue or a brilliant green, but here it was a wonderful, dazzling violet.”
#80 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“I would advise the intending tourist to use Sassnitz only as a place to make excursions to from Binz on one side or Stubbenkammer on the other; though, aware of my peculiarities, I advise it with diffidence. For out of every thousand Germans nine hundred and ninety-nine would give, with emphasis, a contrary advice, and the remaining one would not agree with me. But I have nothing to do with the enthusiasms of other people, and can only repeat that it is a dusty, glaring place — quaint enough on a fine day, with its steep streets leading down to the water, and on wet days dreary beyond words, for its houses all look as though they were built of cardboard and were only meant, as indeed is the case, to be used during a few weeks in summer.”
And this, of course, was even before Sassnitz was made into a major port city connecting Rügen with Trelleborg and other, equally major ports in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Russia and elsewhere in the Baltics … how infinitely much more would Elizabeth probably detest the city in its present incarnation!
#81 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Finally, however, we get to the famous chalk cliffs …
“The walk along the coast from Sassnitz to Stubbenkammer is alone worth a journey to Rügen. I suppose there are few walks in the world more wholly beautiful from beginning to end. On no account, therefore, should the traveller, all unsuspecting of so much beauty so near at hand, be persuaded to go to Stubbenkammer by road. The road will give him merely a pretty country drive, taking him the shortest way, quite out of sight of the sea; the path keeps close to the edge of the cliffs, and is a series of exquisite surprises. But only the lusty and the spare must undertake it, for it is not to be done under three hours, and is an almost continual going down countless steps into deep ravines, and up countless steps out of them again. You are, however, in the shade of beeches the whole time; and who shall describe, as you climb higher and higher, the lovely sparkle and colour of the sea as it curls, far below you, in and out among the folds of the cliffs?
Mrs. Harvey-Browne was sufficiently spare to enjoy the walk. Ambrose was perfectly content telling us about Nieberlein’s new work. I was perfectly content too, because only one ear was wanted for Nieberlein, and I still had one over for the larks and the lapping of the water, besides both my happy eyes. We did not hurry, but lingered over each beauty, resting on little sunny plateaus high up on the very edge of the cliffs, where, sitting on the hot sweet grass, we saw the colour of the sea shine through the colour of the fringing scabious — a divine meeting of colours often to be seen along the Rügen coast in July; or, in the deep shade at the bottom of a ravine, we rested on the moss by water trickling down over slimy green stones to the sea which looked, from those dark places, like a great wall of light.”
And aren’t they just glorious indeed?
#82 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Elisabeth von Heyking (1861-1925)
Now, since we are not spared “the Professor”‘s acquaintance, either, I did a little more investigation into his and “Charlotte”‘s real-life background. It turns out there actually is a couple among Elizabeth’s Arnim in-laws who might have contributed some features to the fictionalized personalities we get to meet in the book: Namely, Elisabeth von Heyking (née von Flemming), the granddaughter of Achim and Bettina von Arnim, who at age 18 married Prof. Stephan Gans zu Putlitz (a well-reputed economist) and, soon finding her husband unrefined and her marriage burdensome, repeatedly tried to break out almost immediately, finally leaving Putlitz a mere 2 years later … which in turn caused him to feel so dishonored he ended up killing himself (he is also believed to be the model of Baron Waldemar in Theodor Fontane’s Stine, incidentally). This all happened some 20 years prior to Elizabeth’s Rügen adventures, and admittedly I’m conjecturing — but at least marginally there seems to be a fit, and it also seems to be quite clear from Katherine Mansfield’s bio that Charlotte at the very least can’t be solely modelled on her.
#84 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
B. wrote: “Katherine and Elizabeth = chalk and cheese. Now if this trip had been penned by the former maybe we would be treated to a view of E as a pampered petulant pussy.”
“PPP” — indeed! 🙂 A woman who has “not done” anything with her life and is wasting her talents and intelligence on “vegetables” (as applied both to her garden and her family, first and foremost her boorish husband) …
#86 – B.
Themis-Athena wrote: “B. wrote: “Katherine and Elizabeth = chalk and cheese. Now if this trip had been penned by the former maybe we would be treated to a view of E as a pampered petulant pussy.”
“PPP” — indeed! …”
It depends on whose lens we are looking through at the time, doesn’t it. Both women astounding but could never be easy in each other’s company.
#90 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
W. wrote: “Chapter 10 is today. Are we still on track? Do I need to wait? I am just loving this travelogue!”
Sorry for going MIA over the weekend — I’ll probably be finishing the book tonight and will post final impressions (words and images 🙂 ) tomorrow or the day after that. Does that sound OK?
#92 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Elizabeth’s final solitary evening reverie (and very fittingly, looking out to the sea from the Königsstuhl cliffs):
“Once again I slowly walked through the trees to the cliffs. The highest of these cliffs, the Königsstuhl, jutting out into the sea forms a plateau where a few trees that have weathered the winter storms of many years stand in little groups. For a long while I sat on the knotted roots of one of them, listening to the slow wash of the waves on the shingle far below. I saw the ribbon of smoke left by the Harvey-Browne’s steamer get thinner and disappear. I watched the sunset-red fade out of the sky and sea, and all the world grow grey and full of secrets. Once, after I had sat there a very long time, I thought I heard the faint departing whistle of a far-distant train, and my heart leapt up with exultation. Oh the gloriousness of freedom and silence, of being alone with my own soul once more! I drew a long, long breath, and stood up and stretched myself in the supreme comfort of complete relaxation.”
#93 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
… then she is off again, having decided, very ill-advisedly and not least to her own detriment, to meddle with the Nieberlein marriage (I confess I found this last part rather disconcerting — for ALL involved):
THE EIGHTH DAY – FROM STUBBENKAMMER TO GLOWE
“About eleven, there being still no signs of Charlotte, I set out on foot on the first stage of my journey to Glowe, sending the carriage round by road to meet me at Lohme, the place where I meant to stop for lunch, and going myself along the footpath down on the shore. The Professor, who was a great walker and extraordinarily active for his years, came with me part of the way. He intended, he said, to go into Sassnitz that afternoon if Charlotte did not appear before then and make inquiries, and meanwhile he would walk a little with me; so we started very gaily down the same zigzag path up which I had crawled dripping a few hours before. At the bottom of the ravine the shore-path from Stubbenkammer to Lohme begins. It is a continuation of the lovely path from Sassnitz, but, less steep, it keeps closer to the beach. It is a white chalk path running along the foot of cliffs clothed with moss and every kind of wild-flower and fern. Masses of the leaves of lilies of the valley show what it must look like in May, and on the day we walked there the space between the twisted beech trunks—twisted into the strangest contortions under the lash of winter storms—was blue with wild campanula.
What a walk that was. The sea lay close to our feet in great green and blue streaks; the leaves of the beeches on our left seemed carved in gold, they shone so motionless against the sky; and the Professor was so gay, so certain that he was going to find Charlotte, that he almost danced instead of walking.”
#94 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“We drove down over stones between grassy banks to a tiny village with a very ancient church and the pleasing name of Bobbin. I looked wistfully up at the church on its mound as we passed below it. It was very old—six centuries the guide-book said—and fain would I have gone into it; but I knew it would be locked, and did not like to disturb the parson for the key. The parson himself came along the road at that moment, and he looked so kind, and his eye was so mild that I got out and inquired of him with what I hope was an engaging modesty whether the guide-book were correct about the six centuries. He was amiability itself. Not only, he said, was the church ancient, but interesting. Would I like to see it? ‘Oh please.’
The parson took me down a little path to the church, talking amiably on the way. He was proud, he said, of his church, very proud on week-days; on Sundays so few people came to the services that his pride was quenched by the aspect of the empty seats. A bell began to toll as we reached the door. In answer to my inquiring look he said it was the Gebetglocke, the prayer-bell, and was rung three times a day, at eight, and twelve, and four, so that the scattered inhabitants of the lonely country-side, the sower in the field, the housewife among her pots, the fisherman on the Bodden, or over there, in quiet weather, on the sea, might hear it and join together spiritually at those hours in a common prayer. ‘And do they?’ I asked. He shrugged his shoulders and murmured of hopes.
It is the quaintest church. The vaulted chancel is the oldest part, and there is an altarpiece put there by the Swedish Field-Marshal Wrangel, who in the seventeenth century lived in a turreted Schloss near by that I had seen from the hills. A closed-in seat high up on the side of the chancel was where he sat; it has latticed windows and curiously-painted panels, with his arms in the middle panel and those of Prince Putbus, to whom the Schloss now belongs, on either side. The parson took me up into the gallery and showed me a picture of John the Baptist’s head, just off, with Herodias trying to pull out its tongue. I said I thought it nasty, and he told me it had been moved up there because the lady downstairs over whose head it used to hang was made ill by it every Sunday. Had the parishioners up in the gallery thicker skins, I asked? But there was no question of skins, because the congregation never overflowed into the galleries. There is another picture up there, the Supper at Emmaus, with the Scripture account written underneath in Latin. The parson read this aloud, and his eyes, otherwise so mild, woke into gleams of enthusiasm. It sounded very dignified and compressed to ears accustomed to Luther’s lengthy rendering of the same thing. I remarked how beautiful it was, and with a pleased smile he at once read it again, and then translated it into Greek, lingering lovingly over each of the beautiful words. I sat listening in the cool of the dusty little gallery, gazing out at the summer fields and the glistening water of the Bodden through the open door. His gentle voice made a soft droning in the emptiness. A swallow came in and skimmed about anxiously, trying to get out again.
‘The painted pulpit was also given by Wrangel,’ said the parson, as we went downstairs.
‘He seems to have given a great deal.’
‘He needed to, to make good all his sins,’ he replied with a smile. ‘Many were the sins he committed.’
I smiled too. Posterity in the shape of the parishioners of Bobbin have been direct gainers by Wrangel’s sins.”
#95 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
Carl Gustaf Wrangel (23 December 1613 – 5 July 1676), Swedish Field Marshal, commander-in-chief of the Swedish forces in Germany from 1646–1648 (i.e., during the final years of the Thirty Years’ War), and Lord High Admiral of Sweden (from 1657 onwards). Wrangel was Governor General of Swedish Pomerania (1648–1652 and 1656–1676), to which Rügen belonged at the time; from 1658 onwards, he was moreover Supreme Judge in Uppland, from 1660, Chancellor of the University of Greifswald, and from 1664, Lord High Constable of Sweden and a member of the Privy Council. He was also a close friend of King Charles X Gustav of Sweden.
#96 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“On the way we passed the Schloss with the four towers where the wicked Wrangel committed all those sins that presently crystallised into a painted pulpit. The Schloss, called the Spyker Schloss, is let to a farmer. We met him riding hFome, to his coffee, I suppose, it being now nearly five, and I caught a glimpse of a beautiful old garden with ancient pyramids of box, many flowers, [and] broad alleys.”
(I’ll have a little personal family postscript to add with regard to Spyker — will be posting that as a final note to the entire book.)
#97 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
THE NINTH DAY – FROM GLOWE TO WIEK
“The road turns off sharply inland at Vitt, a tiny fisher-hamlet we came upon unexpectedly, hidden in a deep clough. It is a charming little place—a few fishermen’s huts, a minute inn, and a great many walnut trees. Passing along the upper end of the clough we looked straight down its one shingly street to the sea washing among rocks. Big black fisher-boats were hauled up almost into the street itself. A forlorn artist’s umbrella stood all alone half-way down, sheltering an unfinished painting from the gentle rain, while the artist—I supposed him to be the artist because of his unique neck arrangements—watched it wistfully from the inn door. As Vitt even in rain was perfectly charming I can confidently recommend it to the traveller; for on a sunny day it must be quite one of the prettiest spots in Rügen.”
#98 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“From Vitt the road to Arkona describes a triangle of which the village of Putgarten is the apex, and round which it took us half an hour to drive. We got to Arkona, which consists solely of a lighthouse with an inn in it, about one.”
This last picture doesn’t only give you an idea of what the weather must have been like when Elizabeth and the Professor finally made it to Arkona (depressing indeed!!) — it also shows the site of a mudslide that occurred just recently, in December 2011, burying under it a young girl who was taking a walk along the beach with her mom and sister. I think officially she is still considered “lost,” but chances that she survived were extremely small even at the time and there hasn’t been an equally big story about her unlikely reappearance, sooo … 🙁
#99 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“Fate was busy tucking up her sleeves preparing to hit me harder than ever.” (!!)
#100 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“Wiek after all turned out to be hardly more than five miles from Arkona, but it was heavy going. What with the bicycle and my wet skirts and the high talk we got along slowly, and my soul grew more chilled with every step by the thought of the complications the presence of the Harvey-Brownes was going to make in the delicate task of persuading Charlotte to return to her husband.
Brosy knew very well that there was something unusual in the Nieberlein relations, and was plainly uneasy at being thrust into a family meeting. When the red roofs and poplars of Wiek came in sight he sank into thoughtfulness, and we walked the last mile in our heavy, sand-caked shoes in almost total silence. The carriage and cart had disappeared long ago, urged on, no doubt, by the Professor’s eagerness to get to Charlotte and away from Mrs. Harvey-Browne, and we were quite near the first cottages when August appeared coming back to fetch us, driving very fast, with Gertrud’s face peering anxiously round the hood. It was only a few yards from there to the open space in the middle of the village in which the two inns are, and Brosy got on his bicycle while I drove with Gertrud, wrapped in all the rugs she could muster.”
Judging by the more recent images, Wiek would seem to have grown a bit since Elizabeth’s day!
#101 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
THE TENTH DAY – FROM WIEK TO HIDDENSEE
“The island to which Charlotte had retired was the island of Hiddensee, a narrow strip of sand to the west of Rügen. Generally so wordy, the guide-book merely mentions it as a place to which it is possible for Rügen tourists to make excursions, and proffers with a certain timidity the information that pleasure may be had there in observing the life and habits of sea-birds.
The sun was shining, the ground was drying, there was a slight breeze from the east which ought, the landlord said, to blow us gently to Hiddensee if it kept up in about four hours. All my arrangements had been made the night before with the aid of August and Gertrud, and the brig Bertha, quite an imposing-looking craft that plied on week-days, weather permitting, between Wiek and Stralsund, had been hired for the day at a cost of fifteen marks, including a skipper with one eye and four able seamen.
The reader who looks at the map will see the course we took, and how with that gentle wind it came to be nearly twelve before we rounded the corner of the Wieker Bodden, passed a sandbank crowded with hundreds of sea-gulls, and headed for the northern end of Hiddensee.
Hiddensee lay stretched out from north to south, long and narrow, like a lizard lying in the sun. It is absolutely flat, a mere sandbank, except at the northern end where it swells up into hills and a lighthouse. There are only two villages on it with inns, the one called Vitte, built on a strip of sand so low, so level with the sea that it looks as if an extra big wave, or indeed any wave, must wash right over it and clean it off the face of the earth; and the other called Kloster, where Charlotte was.”
#102 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“We dropped anchor in the glassy bay about two o’clock, the last bit of the Vitter Bodden having been slow, almost windless work, and were rowed ashore in a dinghy, there not being enough water within a hundred yards to float so majestic a craft as the Bertha.
Up we sped in silence past the bleak churchyard on to what turned out to be the most glorious downs. On the top the Professor stopped a moment to wipe his forehead, and looking back for the first time I was absolutely startled by the loveliness of the view. The shining Bodden with its bays and little islands lay beneath us, to the north was the sea, to the west the sea, to the east, right away on the other side of distant Rügen, the sea; far in the south rose the towers of Stralsund; close behind us a forest of young pines filled the air with warm waves of fragrance; at our feet the turf was thick with flowers,—oh, wide and splendid world! How good it is to look sometimes across great spaces, to lift one’s eyes from narrowness, to feel the large silence that rests on lonely hills! Motionless we stood before this sudden unrolling of the beauty of God’s earth. The place seemed full of a serene and mighty Presence. Far up near the clouds a solitary lark was singing its joys. There was no other sound.”
#103 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
“I observe that on the map Kloster is printed in large letters, as though it were a place of some importance. It is a very pretty, very small, handful of fishermen’s cottages, one little line of them in a green nest of rushes and willows along the water’s edge, with a hill at the back, and some way up the hill a small, dilapidated church, forlorn and spireless, in a churchyard bare of trees.
The inn servant had said Charlotte had gone up to the lighthouse. From where we were we could not see it, but hurrying through a corner of the pine-wood we came out on the north end of Hiddensee, and there it was on the edge of the cliff. […] The footpath led us across a flowery slope ending in a cliff that dropped down on the sunset side of the island to the sea. We had not gone many yards before we saw a single figure sitting on this slope, its back to us, its slightly dejected head and shoulders appearing above the crowd of wild-flowers—scabious, harebells, and cow-parsley, through whose frail loveliness flashed the shimmering sea. It was Charlotte.”
#104 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
… whereupon Elizabeth turned tail and ran back to Berlin as if pursued by a demon, without sparing even a second to witness the (apparently: not-so) happy and excessively brief reunion of the Nieberleins. As a result, we’re unfortunately not regaled with a description of the scenery forming the backdrop of her drive to the railway station at Bergen, either, on the grounds that that “there is nothing to be recorded of that last drive […] except that it was flat, and we saw the Jagdschloss in the distance.”
#105 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
So therefore now for my promised family postscript:
Some 20 years after Elizabeth’s trip to Rügen, my grandfather — who was then a young civil servant in the employ of the Prussian ministry of agriculture — was commissioned to transfer a horse from the West Pomeranian Stettin area (these days, the Polish Szczecin) to … you guessed it, the lovely Schloss Spyker of erstwhile Wrangel “infamy” (Wrangel incidentally died at Spyker, too) and subsequent serenely agricultural use. Another 50 or so years later, my grandpa wrote an account of that three-day ride which, though set in the third person, his family believes to be closely based on his actual experience. If you want to read the whole thing, you’ll find a translation here: https://themisathena.info/my-grandfathers-voice/ride-to-spyker … In the following I’ll post a few excerpts, though, touching on some of the parts of Rügen that Elizabeth passed through (which also suggest, incidentally, that possibly in her haste to get back to the mainland, Elizabeth may just have missed the scenic route from north of the Great Bay of Jasmund back to Bergen):
“Back then – some 50 years ago – Pomerania was still a part of Prussia; its jewel being considered the Baltic island of Rügen. Those who wanted to travel there usually did so by train, on the Stettin – Sassnitz – Trelleborg line, or they went by car. Hereinafter, however, we shall be concerned with a trip on horseback, which lasted all of three days.
[image error] By way of preface, it is necessary to mention that the reason why the trip took place at all was not the rider but the horse. She was a white mare named Killa, a Hanover horse by race, destined to exchange the narrow stables of a sugar manufacturing plant near Stettin for the breezy grounds of Spyker Estate on Rügen island, there to be used as a saddle horse.
The next morning he made an early start, as he wanted to get close to the ferry to Rügen; aiming for a nearby military horse breeding farm. On this day his ride was interrupted only once, by a huge cloud of dust suddenly hanging over the summertime path. He waited to see what was hidden behind it – and lo’n behold, it was a squadron of riders, all on chestnut horses, a picture begging to be painted. Yet, only a few minutes later the cloud of dust was already behind him.
That evening he had to be careful not to miss the path leading to the horse breeding farm through the fields. It turned out not to be difficult to find, however, as in a depression he saw a number of pastures on which foals were grazing. When he entered the path, the foals trotted alongside him, curiously eying the white mare and her rider. Eventually he also met a lonely walker, whom he supposed the farm’s manager. This, the other indeed turned out to be. He jumped off his horse to introduce himself; although arguably this was hardly necessary, since they had been advised of his arrival. Then followed a friendly welcome, a hearty dinner, good Moselle wine, a relaxed atmosphere, deep slumber, the shrill sound of his alarm clock, and off he was for the final leg of his trip.
The way to the ferry was not far. And now, on Rügen island, the landscape was completely different from the mainland’s low country, consisting instead of rolling moraines, woods and fields, pastures and shallow inlets, bays and pointed promontories, water everywhere, and above it all, nature’s stillness.
At around noon he arrived in the district capital of Bergen and gave his mare a rest in the stables of a place calling itself a “hostel and place of unyoking,” while he himself found a seat at the inn, sharing a table with a traveler who turned out to be a brewers’ barley salesman.
His rest over, he then continued northward, first in the direction of Polchow and then to the hills above the Great Bay of Jasmund, on whose slopes lay the Spyker estate.
The heights provided a particularly beautiful view of the castle and the estate buildings. Having finished plowing, the cart drivers were just about to unharness their horses and ride back for the night.”
#107 – W.
Themis-Athena wrote: “”I observe that on the map Kloster is printed in large letters, as though it were a place of some importance. It is a very pretty, very small, handful of fishermen’s cottages, one little line of th…”
That’s my spot there – right by the lighthouse.
#108 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
W. wrote: “That’s my spot there – right by the lighthouse.”
Can I sit there with you? I promise I’ll be very still and silently enraptured with the scenery …
I’m glad you enjoyed the images. I had an inordinate amount of fun putting them together — the only problem is that now I want to drop everything and go visit Rügen on the spot, when this is the last thing I actually CAN do at the moment! 🙂
#109 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
B. wrote: “Themis-Athena wrote: “B. wrote: “Katherine and Elizabeth = chalk and cheese. Now if this trip had been penned by the former maybe we would be treated to a view of E as a pampered petulant pussy.”
“PPP” — indeed! …”
It depends on whose lens we are looking through at the time, doesn’t it. Both women astounding but could never be easy in each other’s company.”
Mansfield did have an acute sense of humor not unlike Elizabeth’s actually, though. And she lays out her view of things very pithily in The Garden Party and Other Stories and, for present purposes, even more so in In a German Pension …
#111-112 – Themis-Athena (Lioness at Large)
KATHERINE MANSFIELD: THE ADVANCED LADY
“Do you think we might ask her to come with us,” said Fraulein Elsa, retying her pink sash ribbon before my mirror. “You know, although she is so intellectual, I cannot help feeling convinced that she has some secret sorrow. And Lisa told me this morning, as she was turning out my room, that she remains hours and hours by herself, writing; in fact Lisa says she is writing a book! I suppose that is why she never cares to mingle with us, and has so little time for her husband and the child.”
“Well, YOU ask her,” said I. “I have never spoken to the lady.”
Elsa blushed faintly. “I have only spoken to her once,” she confessed. “I took her a bunch of wild flowers, to her room, and she came to the door in a white gown, with her hair loose. Never shall I forget that moment. She just took the flowers, and I heard her—because the door was not quite properly shut—I heard her, as I walked down the passage, saying ‘Purity, fragrance, the fragrance of purity and the purity of fragrance!’ It was wonderful!”
At that moment Frau Kellermann knocked at the door.
“Are you ready?” she said, coming into the room and nodding to us very genially. “The gentlemen are waiting on the steps, and I have asked the Advanced Lady to come with us.”
“Na, how extraordinary!” cried Elsa. “But this moment the gnadige Frau and I were debating whether—”
“Yes, I met her coming out of her room and she said she was charmed with the idea. Like all of us, she has never been to Schlingen. She is downstairs now, talking to Herr Erchardt. I think we shall have a delightful afternoon.”
“Is Fritzi waiting too?” asked Elsa.
“Of course he is, dear child—as impatient as a hungry man listening for the dinner bell. Run along!”
Elsa ran, and Frau Kellermann smiled at me significantly. In the past she and I had seldom spoken to each other, owing to the fact that her “one remaining joy”—her charming little Karl—had never succeeded in kindling into flame those sparks of maternity which are supposed to glow in great numbers upon the altar of every respectable female heart; but, in view of a premeditated journey together, we became delightfully cordial.
“For us,” she said, “there will be a double joy. We shall be able to watch the happiness of these two dear children, Elsa and Fritz. They only received the letters of blessing from their parents yesterday morning. It is a very strange thing, but whenever I am in the company of newly-engaged couples I blossom. Newly-engaged couples, mothers with first babies, and normal deathbeds have precisely the same effect on me. Shall we join the others?”
I was longing to ask her why normal deathbeds should cause anyone to burst into flower, and said, “Yes, do let us.”
We were greeted by the little party of “cure guests” on the pension steps, with those cries of joy and excitement which herald so pleasantly the mildest German excursion. Herr Erchardt and I had not met before that day, so, in accordance with strict pension custom, we asked each other how long we had slept during the night, had we dreamed agreeably, what time we had got up, was the coffee fresh when we had appeared at breakfast, and how had we passed the morning. Having toiled up these stairs of almost national politeness we landed, triumphant and smiling, and paused to recover breath.
“And now,” said Herr Erchardt, “I have a pleasure in store for you. The Frau Professor is going to be one of us for the afternoon. Yes,” nodding graciously to the Advanced Lady. “Allow me to introduce you to each other.”
We bowed very formally, and looked each other over with that eye which is known as “eagle” but is far more the property of the female than that most unoffending of birds. “I think you are English?” she said. I acknowledged the fact. “I am reading a great many English books just now—rather, I am studying them.”
“Nu,” cried Herr Erchardt. “Fancy that! What a bond already! I have made up my mind to know Shakespeare in his mother tongue before I die, but that you, Frau Professor, should be already immersed in those wells of English thought!”
“From what I have read,” she said, “I do not think they are very deep wells.”
He nodded sympathetically.
“No,” he answered, “so I have heard… But do not let us embitter our excursion for our little English friend. We will speak of this another time.”
“Nu, are we ready?” cried Fritz, who stood, supporting Elsa’s elbow in his hand, at the foot of the steps. It was immediately discovered that Karl was lost.
“Ka—rl, Karl—chen!” we cried. No response.
“But he was here one moment ago,” said Herr Langen, a tired, pale youth, who was recovering from a nervous breakdown due to much philosophy and little nourishment. “He was sitting here, picking out the works of his watch with a hairpin!”
Frau Kellermann rounded on him. “Do you mean to say, my dear Herr Langen, you did not stop the child!”
“No,” said Herr Langen; “I’ve tried stopping him before now.”
“Da, that child has such energy; never is his brain at peace. If he is not doing one thing, he is doing another!”
“Perhaps he has started on the dining-room clock now,” suggested Herr Langen, abominably hopeful.
The Advanced Lady suggested that we should go without him. “I never take my little daughter for walks,” she said. “I have accustomed her to sitting quietly in my bedroom from the time I go out until I return!”
“There he is—there he is,” piped Elsa, and Karl was observed slithering down a chestnut-tree, very much the worse for twigs.
“I’ve been listening to what you said about me, mumma,” he confessed while Frau Kellermann brushed him down. “It was not true about the watch. I was only looking at it, and the little girl never stays in the bedroom. She told me herself she always goes down to the kitchen, and—”
“Da, that’s enough!” said Frau Kellermann.
We marched en masse along the station road. It was a very warm afternoon, and continuous parties of “cure guests”, who were giving their digestions a quiet airing in pension gardens, called after us, asked if we were going for a walk, and cried “Herr Gott—happy journey” with immense ill-concealed relish when we mentioned Schlingen.
“But that is eight kilometres,” shouted one old man with a white beard, who leaned against a fence, fanning himself with a yellow handkerchief.
“Seven and a half,” answered Herr Erchardt shortly.
“Eight,” bellowed the sage.
“Seven and a half!”
“The man is mad,” said Herr Erchardt.
“Well, please let him be mad in peace,” said I, putting my hands over my ears.
“Such ignorance must not be allowed to go uncontradicted,” said he, and turning his back on us, too exhausted to cry out any longer, he held up seven and a half fingers.
“Eight!” thundered the greybeard, with pristine freshness.
We felt very sobered, and did not recover until we reached a white signpost which entreated us to leave the road and walk through the field path—without trampling down more of the grass than was necessary. Being interpreted, it meant “single file”, which was distressing for Elsa and Fritz. Karl, like a happy child, gambolled ahead, and cut down as many flowers as possible with the stick of his mother’s parasol—followed the three others—then myself—and the lovers in the rear. And above the conversation of the advance party I had the privilege of hearing these delicious whispers.
Fritz: “Do you love me?” Elsa: “Nu—yes.” Fritz passionately: “But how much?” To which Elsa never replied—except with “How much do YOU love ME?”
Fritz escaped that truly Christian trap by saying, “I asked you first.”
It grew so confusing that I slipped in front of Frau Kellermann—and walked in the peaceful knowledge that she was blossoming and I was under no obligation to inform even my nearest and dearest as to the precise capacity of my affections. “What right have they to ask each other such questions the day after letters of blessing have been received?” I reflected. “What right have they even to question each other? Love which becomes engaged and married is a purely affirmative affair—they are usurping the privileges of their betters and wisers!”
The edges of the field frilled over into an immense pine forest—very pleasant and cool it looked. Another signpost begged us to keep to the broad path for Schlingen and deposit waste paper and fruit peelings in wire receptacles attached to the benches for the purpose. We sat down on the first bench, and Karl with great curiosity explored the wire receptacle.
“I love woods,” said the Advanced Lady, smiling pitifully into the air. “In a wood my hair already seems to stir and remember something of its savage origin.”
“But speaking literally,” said Frau Kellermann, after an appreciative pause, “there is really nothing better than the air of pine-trees for the scalp.”
“Oh, Frau Kellermann, please don’t break the spell,” said Elsa.
The Advanced Lady looked at her very sympathetically. “Have you, too, found the magic heart of Nature?” she said.
That was Herr Langen’s cue. “Nature has no heart,” said he, very bitterly and readily, as people do who are over-philosophised and underfed. “She creates that she may destroy. She eats that she may spew up and she spews up that she may eat. That is why we, who are forced to eke out an existence at her trampling feet, consider the world mad, and realise the deadly vulgarity of production.”
“Young man,” interrupted Herr Erchardt, “you have never lived and you have never suffered!”
“Oh, excuse me—how can you know?”
“I know because you have told me, and there’s an end of it. Come back to this bench in ten years’ time and repeat those words to me,” said Frau Kellermann, with an eye upon Fritz, who was engaged in counting Elsa’s fingers with passionate fervour—”and bring with you your young wife, Herr Langen, and watch, perhaps, your little child playing with—” She turned towards Karl, who had rooted an old illustrated paper out of the receptacle and was spelling over an advertisement for the enlargement of Beautiful Breasts.
The sentence remained unfinished. We decided to move on. As we plunged more deeply into the wood our spirits rose—reaching a point where they burst into song—on the part of the three men—”O Welt, wie bist du wunderbar!”—the lower part of which was piercingly sustained by Herr Langen, who attempted quite unsuccessfully to infuse satire into it in accordance with his—”world outlook”. They strode ahead and left us to trail after them—hot and happy.
“Now is the opportunity,” said Frau Kellermann. “Dear Frau Professor, do tell us a little about your book.”
“Ach, how did you know I was writing one?” she cried playfully.
“Elsa, here, had it from Lisa. And never before have I personally known a woman who was writing a book. How do you manage to find enough to write down?”
“That is never the trouble,” said the Advanced Lady—she took Elsa’s arm and leaned on it gently. “The trouble is to know where to stop. My brain has been a hive for years, and about three months ago the pent-up waters burst over my soul, and since then I am writing all day until late into the night, still ever finding fresh inspirations and thoughts which beat impatient wings about my heart.”
“Is it a novel?” asked Elsa shyly.
“Of course it is a novel,” said I.
“How can you be so positive?” said Frau Kellermann, eyeing me severely.
“Because nothing but a novel could produce an effect like that.”
“Ach, don’t quarrel,” said the Advanced Lady sweetly. “Yes, it is a novel—upon the Modern Woman. For this seems to me the woman’s hour. It is mysterious and almost prophetic, it is the symbol of the true advanced woman: not one of those violent creatures who deny their sex and smother their frail wings under… under—”
“The English tailor-made?” from Frau Kellermann.
“I was not going to put it like that. Rather, under the lying garb of false masculinity!”
“Such a subtle distinction!” I murmured.
“Whom then,” asked Fraulein Elsa, looking adoringly at the Advanced Lady—”whom then do you consider the true woman?”
“She is the incarnation of comprehending Love!”
“But my dear Frau Professor,” protested Frau Kellermann, “you must remember that one has so few opportunities for exhibiting Love within the family circle nowadays. One’s husband is at business all day, and naturally desires to sleep when he returns home—one’s children are out of the lap and in at the university before one can lavish anything at all upon them!”
“But Love is not a question of lavishing,” said the Advanced Lady. “It is the lamp carried in the bosom touching with serene rays all the heights and depths of—”
“Darkest Africa,” I murmured flippantly.
She did not hear.
“The mistake we have made in the past—as a sex,” said she, “is in not realising that our gifts of giving are for the whole world—we are the glad sacrifice of ourselves!”
“Oh!” cried Elsa rapturously, and almost bursting into gifts as she breathed—”how I know that! You know ever since Fritz and I have been engaged, I share the desire to give to everybody, to share everything!”
“How extremely dangerous,” said I.
“It is only the beauty of danger, or the danger of beauty” said the Advanced Lady—”and there you have the ideal of my book—that woman is nothing but a gift.”
I smiled at her very sweetly. “Do you know,” I said, “I, too, would like to write a book, on the advisability of caring for daughters, and taking them for airings and keeping them out of kitchens!”
I think the masculine element must have felt these angry vibrations: they ceased from singing, and together we climbed out of the wood, to see Schlingen below us, tucked in a circle of hills, the white houses shining in the sunlight, “for all the world like eggs in a bird’s nest”, as Herr Erchardt declared. We descended upon Schlingen and demanded sour milk with fresh cream and bread at the Inn of the Golden Stag, a most friendly place, with tables in a rose-garden where hens and chickens ran riot—even flopping upon the disused tables and pecking at the red checks on the cloths. We broke the bread into the bowls, added the cream, and stirred it round with flat wooden spoons, the landlord and his wife standing by.
“Splendid weather!” said Herr Erchardt, waving his spoon at the landlord, who shrugged his shoulders.
“What! you don’t call it splendid!”
“As you please,” said the landlord, obviously scorning us.
“Such a beautiful walk,” said Fraulein Elsa, making a free gift of her most charming smile to the landlady.
“I never walk,” said the landlady; “when I go to Mindelbau my man drives me—I’ve more important things to do with my legs than walk them through the dust!”
“I like these people,” confessed Herr Langen to me. “I like them very, very much. I think I shall take a room here for the whole summer.”
“Oh, because they live close to the earth, and therefore despise it.”
He pushed away his bowl of sour milk and lit a cigarette. We ate, solidly and seriously, until those seven and a half kilometres to Mindelbau stretched before us like an eternity. Even Karl’s activity became so full fed that he lay on the ground and removed his leather waistbelt. Elsa suddenly leaned over to Fritz and whispered, who on hearing her to the end and asking her if she loved him, got up and made a little speech.
“We—we wish to celebrate our betrothal by—by—asking you all to drive back with us in the landlord’s cart—if—it will hold us!”
“Oh, what a beautiful, noble idea!” said Frau Kellermann, heaving a sigh of relief that audibly burst two hooks.
“It is my little gift,” said Elsa to the Advanced Lady, who by virtue of three portions almost wept tears of gratitude.
Squeezed into the peasant cart and driven by the landlord, who showed his contempt for mother earth by spitting savagely every now and again, we jolted home again, and the nearer we came to Mindelbau the more we loved it and one another.
“We must have many excursions like this,” said Herr Erchardt to me, “for one surely gets to know a person in the simple surroundings of the open air—one SHARES the same joys—one feels friendship. What is it your Shakespeare says? One moment, I have it. The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried—grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel!”
“But,” said I, feeling very friendly towards him, “the bother about my soul is that it refuses to grapple anybody at all—and I am sure that the dead weight of a friend whose adoption it had tried would kill it immediately. Never yet has it shown the slightest sign of a hoop!”
He bumped against my knees and excused himself and the cart.
“My dear little lady, you must not take the quotation literally. Naturally, one is not physically conscious of the hoops; but hoops there are in the soul of him or her who loves his fellow-men… Take this afternoon, for instance. How did we start out? As strangers you might almost say, and yet—all of us—how have we come home?”
“In a cart,” said the only remaining joy, who sat upon his mother’s lap and felt sick.
We skirted the field that we had passed through, going round by the cemetery. Herr Langen leaned over the edge of the seat and greeted the graves. He was sitting next to the Advanced Lady—inside the shelter of her shoulder. I heard her murmur: “You look like a little boy with your hair blowing about in the wind.” Herr Langen, slightly less bitter—watched the last graves disappear. And I heard her murmur: “Why are you so sad? I too am very sad sometimes—but—you look young enough for me to dare to say this—I—too—know of much joy!”
“What do you know?” said he.
I leaned over and touched the Advanced Lady’s hand. “Hasn’t it been a nice afternoon?” I said questioningly. “But you know, that theory of yours about women and Love—it’s as old as the hills—oh, older!”
From the road a sudden shout of triumph. Yes, there he was again—white beard, silk handkerchief and undaunted enthusiasm.
“What did I say? Eight kilometres—it is!”
“Seven and a half!” shrieked Herr Erchardt.
“Why, then, do you return in carts? Eight kilometres it must be.”
Herr Erchardt made a cup of his hands and stood up in the jolting cart while Frau Kellermann clung to his knees. “Seven and a half!”
“Ignorance must not go uncontradicted!” I said to the Advanced Lady.
From In a German Pension (courtesy of Project Gutenberg).
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