Imágenes de páginas

Our money

Loffels, and then there was no other the worth of my money. I say our retreat but among the Messers.

entrance, for I was accompanied by The students formed a floating party, three merry fellows, a Frenchman, an each settling down to his proper level, Englishman, (by royal letters patent, according to his dress, at the first club son of her Majesty the Queen's apotheball. Did he glory in a dress coat, he cary), and a Russian, killed, poor felwas a Loffel; had he a frock-coat, he low, in the last sortie from Sebastopol. was a Gabel; did he gallant in fancy Passing into the whist-room, we sat pantaloons and colored shirt, he was a down to a game. Our entrance was reMesser.

marked; although students had the Four balls, during the winter, open

nominal entreé to this room, it was to the whole town, and two very select never used, and we were ignorant of it. picnics in summer, completed the fes A loud whisper, at the side, from the tivities of the year.

head salt inspector, perhaps intended for For the winter galas, six musicians our ears, expressed - his amazement and were hired; a keg of pickled herring, disgust at our intrusion !" Our plan some lettuce, oil, and vinegar were pur was soon formed. The Russ drew a chased, and the necessaries for the fête pile of rouble notes from his pocket, were completed. What master-strokes the Briton his Bank of England notes, of policy, what subtle intrigues did not the Gaul a handful of Napoleons, and I these dear people carry on, in order to happening to have some fifty dollar make each other miserable! Did it California pieces, placed them on the happen to rain or snow, the Löffels had table. secured every carriage in the town (the Slowly we began to play. I managed town locomotion comprised two broken to let fall a piece of my gold on the down English traveling carriages, and an floor, it rolled under the salt inspector's omnibus), and the Gabels and Messers feet; the ring of gold had its effect; trudged on foot in the mire to the

every eye was upon us. dance.

changed hands; now I had it all, next The Gabels, once, by a Machiavellian the Russian, and the notes and gold effort of diplomacy, managed to get on flew about the table. the executive committee, upon which Every game was stopped: you might occasion, having secured the right of have heard a pin drop, and I am certain mixing the herring-salad, they seasoned ten pipes, at least, went out. Appa. it so with garlic, that not a Loffel could rently not noticing the intense excitepartake of it. (This stupid trick, a ment around us, Vlademir, the Russian, Loffel afterwards told mo, recoiled upon

said: “This is all nonsense; you, the perpetrators; both Gabels and Mes de Clermont, have a chateau or so, sers, from an undue quantity coming to you, John, have a forge, beside a coaltheir share, having been made quite mine, and you have cotton and sugarill.)

plantations, with negroes. I play my The Messers had a quiet way of versts of pine-forests and serfs, without taking their revenge; how many pic- number, against them. What do you nics did they not spoil, by warning the say? We are nine a-piece, the odd parties off their fields, setting their dogs trick wins the game, and stakes the on them, and in buying up all the real negroes and coal-mines against my Kalbs-coteletten, which is an indispens- serfs and a chateau !". able part of a German merry-making: His acting was inimitable; it was

In the club-house was à room de- quietly, neatly done, said in a low, disvoted to whist, and Boston; here as tinct tone, and every one heard it. sembled the Aesellenites to smoke

As luck would have it, we each took pipes, and, through the tobacco-fumes, six tricks, and the first card of the to settle the fate of nations, according seventh was on the table, when a heavy to the Grossberzogthums Priviligirte hand was placed on each of our packs, Gazette, a tri-weekly newspaper, seven and the Herr University Proctor, and inches by nine.

University Beadle, with four soldiers How well I recollect our first en (the whole garrison of Aeselen), tore us trance there. It was during my first from our game; with a protestation, we week in Aeselen, and I was an uniniti were marched, each one home, with ated. I had paid my four guldens sub summons to appear at the University scription, and was desirous of getting court on the morrow. That night all

[ocr errors][merged small]

Aeselen knew it; men, women, and one is a prophet in his own country.”
children dreamt of it, and the place was The peasants, poor simple folk, in their
in a hubbub. Our appearance, condi- patois, called it Stickstoff's folly."
tion, recklessness, was the talk of every Now-a-days, Aeselen has lost its
one; the gold and silver placed on the professor, and Aeselen is among the
table was exaggerated some thousand gewesens," or things that have been.

The students have deserted it. The At the University court-room the illiberal policy of a government, that Herr University Proctor made an elabo gave this great man an under-usher's rate speech, full of the choicest quota- salary, with a thousand restrictions, tions, and his rage was unequaled when has deprived the Grossherzogthum of we told him our ignorance of transgres its only reputation; for, beside the ocsion, and the true state of the joke. casional production of a Prince or Prin

We were severely reprimanded, and cess, for a European marriage, the only escaped being rusticated, from the noise it makes in the world is on a fact of no precedent being found to parallel with that of Monaco. judge the case by. Aeselen was in a It was strange to see how this little passion, and, from that time, we were country was incensed against its neighconsidered dangerous. There was not bors; how it raved and stormed against a soul in the place, of a philological the adjacent electorate people. turn of mind, that did not ferret, in the The incident made an impression on English dictionary, the meaning of the me, and as it, curiously enough, has word - sell,” which term the son of the something to do with our own history, Queen's apothecary had unguardedly it is worth recording. used, as explaining the circumstance. Riding through the adjacent state (a How dark and muddy were the streets ten minutes easy canter brought you in winter; and how we used to plunge there), with no less & person than ankle deep in the slime, on going to the Herzogthumlich Rittmeister, the our evening lectures. Aeselen had two Royal University riding master-(every street-lamps, the illumination being student in Germany is supposed to be vested in the hands of two important a master of equitation, and sleeps in functionaries, the upper lantern-inspec- boots and spurs, though his familiarity tor, and the lower lantern inspector, with the noble quadruped is about the the former going up the rungs of the same as his acquaintance with the ladder, whilst the latter steadied him. dromedary); the riding master had a We four procured huge tin lanterns, stud of three broken down cavalry such as only primeval Germany can horses, and a kicking mare, which latinvent, and with them, even at sundown, ter amiable animal I was bestriding ;no matter how clear or moonlit the

the important functionary said to the night, we sallied out. It was consid ostler, who fed our steeds, on disered as an insult to the corporation, mounting, “Give him some water, du the matter was reported to the capital, blinder Hesser." and the matter was compromised, by “Why call him blind, oh, well-born the addition of a third lantern, which, riding-master ?" I asked. we devotedly hope, still swings, creaks, * Because all these electoral Hessians and flickers over the streets of Aeselen. are blind-blind as stones, blind as pup

Herr Professor Von Stickstoff was pies, we all call them so." the great man of the place; all Aeselen • Ah," thought I, "unfortunate peobowed before him, and well they might. ple cursed with cecity." I then asked, His immense talents, the discovery of ** but the reason why you call them a new science, had brought, to Aeselen, blind, is it because ?" students from all the world. In grati “ The Lord knows,” answered the tude to him, the townspeople had pre- riding master. “They ain't worth talksented him with some two acres of ing about; I suppose you have lots of sand, on which not even stunted briars buffaloes, lions, and wild horses, for the grew, with the pithy remark, “That powder's worth, in your country ?since his lectures on agriculture taught On arriving at Aeselen, hearing the how to make the poorest land rich, he Herr Professor Aepfelkopf (Professor was welcome to this, to grow wealthy of History) using the same epithet, I thereby," an ambiguous compliment, inquired the reason. He gravely inrather smacking of the idea, that "no formed me, that after the Boeotians of

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ers on.

old, the inhabitants of the neighboring skilled in England than others, in makelectorate were the next in stupidity; ing corsets, he would much like to have in fact, that if he had the palm to award, his address.” he would confer it on the latter, and Professor Herr von Stickstoff once that the fact of their having been caught invited me to his house. We had redasleep at Trenton, by General Wash- cabbage, cooked white, and white-cabington, had given them this pleasing bage, cooked red (a beautiful experiment cognomen of "

blind,” throughout all of the Professor's), beside lentil porGermany; but he pressed me, at the ridge, and sour-beef with currants and same time, not to confound them with the raisins. He had a pretty daughter people of his country, who were not at Magnesia (all the Pharmacie Studenten all of the same race, and whose intelli were supposed to be dead in love with gence and far-sightedness, he had no her), and with Mademoiselle I was, undoubt, were already impressed on my fortunately, on not the best of terms. mind.

At the last club, I had danced a polka But to return to Aeselen-what sub with her, to polka music, when she jects of interest they had there. Did insisted on waltzing, which little disan officer of the army arrive, how he parity of motion was by no means was stared at, and how they gave him agreeable to ourselves, nor to the lookthe whole side-walk, and how every window mirror on the place was made The Professor, worthy man, had a bright, as a Daguerreotype plate, to re sad way of pumping his students. His ceive his impression. Some Messers delight was to mount one on the very were absolutely elevated to be Löffels, Pegasus of science, and then, with a from the fact of his having nodded to word, tumble the unwary pupil out of them. And how these mighty chief- the saddle to the ground. I had been tains would sneer at the timid waiters, warned of this. He acknowledged that abuse the food, and glance at us poor it was the only way of his getting an students, at the tavern table d'hote. idea of their capabilities. One dear fellow, with an apple dumpling Was this morning's lecture clear to head, and wasp-waist, and with at least you ?” he asked. five feet of sword, once sat near us at “I think so, worthy sir," I answered. dinner. My friend the Englishman (a "Well, sir! That astonishing protrue disciple of Albert Smith's) quietly perty the common ant possesses, of asking him in English, “whether a wood-assimilating, and converting the corset did not answer the same purpose same into an acid ; does it not induce as a coat of mail ?" was disagreeably you to imagine that some one-who surprised by bis understanding it. The knows, perhaps yourself—may be the soldier grew intensely red and apo means of artificially producing some plectic, and threatened to cut off the much required substance ? Eh? Eh? apothecary's son's ears.

Give me your idea about it. Induction We arranged it, though, upon the so is the great key to our science !" lemn statement, that it was an estab * You mean formic acid, I suppose, lished article of English military equip- Herr Professor ?" ment, and that it was a well known “ Exactly. The formica rupra, eathistorical fact, that Wellington fought ing the wood, digests the same; now his Waterloo in stays, and would never digestion we know is but a slow oxidahave left the field, had not the bullet tion—the wood is oxidized. We can directed against him Aattened on his imitate this little creature. We take busk. Upon this he was pacified. wood, sour-dust, and, by the presence

Numerous bottles of Liebfraumilch of an acid, we can artificially produce and Jesuitengarten were ordered, and this same formic acid. Now make an wine, like oil, stilled the troubled waters. induction! Do you not see? Eh ? I recollect he got very happy, and Eh ?" insisted on fraternizing; pathetically "What is the equivalent of formio protesting, “that rather "might his acid ?" innocently asked Magnesia, allbelovedmuchhonored sword be bro. turning her eyes on me. ken, than would he ever draw it against I was perfectly aware that she had America, or England,” and concluded every equivalent specific by heart. I by quietly asking the Englishman, believe she was weaned on them. " that if he did know one artisan more “Ah, sir," I answered, at first ap

parently embarrassed, then gradually, robe, to be worn by you, at some future with a more decided air. The all club-ball." minute ant has oft been my study. To " That will do, sir," said the Profesnature copy, has always been my de sor. “Let us talk of something else." light. She I ever sucoessful be, A conversation commenced on literawhat wreaths of science-flowers, would ture, American books, home authors ; not a discovery, mine may I be allowed and I found him wonderfully well-into say, if it succeeds--make !"

formed, and a universal book reader. " Ah, indeed—and what might it How he found time to read all the be ?" asked the Professor dryly, getting modern novels, poems, histories, is still up already a mental trip for me. a wonder to me, occupied, as he was,

" Yes," I went on quite warmly, the whole day, with his lectures, his “ since ants make formic acid, and we laboratory, and his own immense rehigherbornanimals can make it, too (in searches. The Professor will have a our retorts, instead of in our stomachs), statue in the gallery of great men; for I have cast my eyes on the scarlet dyes the discovery of his new science, now of South America; what a forward so familiar to us all, scientifically, is as battalionmarch of intellect that would remarkable as the finding of a new be; what-what-great heaps of gold world by Columbus. to one's moneywallets !"

Of course, Magnesia never forgave “The Americans are very practical,” me the plucking of that leaf, and her said the Professor.

perspective scarlet ball-dress; and, next “And as fond of making gold as of day, cut me dead, in the presence of the showing it," sarcastically added Frau- head salt-inspector's wife and daughter lein.

-in consequence of which, I was a man “ Pray, Mademoiselle, allow me to tabooed among the Loffels. pluck this prickly leaf from out your At the next club-ball, neither Loffel jardiniere ? and, to her horror, I took nor Gabel would as much as speak to à small leaf from a thorny plant. me, and my dancing with my landlady's “Here," I added, “is what I want. daughters stamped me as a Messer. The insect that feeds on this produces What sweet, modest girls my landthe most vivid of colors-a dye, worth lady's daughters were, and how they more than its weight in gold. Now, enjoyed the dances I had taught them. this leaf, forming the food of the insect, The Löffels and Gabels had declared the insect producing the color—the it not comme il faut to do anything vegetable substance going through no else than waltz, to all dance music; and thing more than a slow oxidation: I my introduction of the polka, redowa, propose taking the leaves of the cactus, and mazurka, among the Messers, was to treat them properly, and produce a heinous crime. My pupils were so cochineal."

apt, so graceful, that even one of the “Ahem !" said the Professor.

Loffels (who had been at the capital for “ As well,” remarked Magnesia, with a week, and got worldly thereby), rea withering look, “ as well make silk gardless of caste, invited one of the from the mulberry-leaf!"

Messers to dance--an immense conde" It is within the bounds of possibili- scension on his part; but the Messer ty, and when that silk is produced,” I lady refused him, and the rage of the went on to say, in a lower tone, to Loffels was redoubled. Mademoiselle, *my artificial cochineal A great Suabian student, with a schlashall color it a brilliant hue, to form a ger cut* on his face, was instigated, by

* The schlager is the student's dueling-sword. It has a large basket-bilt, or guard ; is about three feet long, very light, and sharpened only about three inches from the end-which end is ground square, so that no thrust can be made. The principals are swaddled up in buckskin and buckram, a thick handkerchief is bound around the throat, the left arm is tied down, and the right arm protected. The head is partially protected by a cap, and the forehead by a strong leather vizard. The breast is almost the only attainable spot. They stand about four feet apart, and, as their faces are covered by the vizards of their caps, they generally hit at each other in the dark. Sauf respect a Monsieur Howitt, I have witnessed many of these duels. At first, in seeing the preparations, I was attrighted; but the effect, afterwards, upon me, as upon any other spectator, was that of its being simply ridiculous. The wounds are generally about two inches long, by a quarter of an inch in depth-about the diagnosis of a cut finger. I must say, that I consider a moderate black-eye worse punishinent than the bloody cut of their duels. It always seemed to me, the seconds ran the greatest risk, exposed, as they were, to the blows

the Loffels, I feel certain, to quarrel the middle, which was to be planted. with me; but a hint on my part, that The laborer, who had promised to unthe art of boxing was familiar to me, and dertake it, had disappointed them, and that an ignorance of his baby weapons they were sorrowful with the idea of necessitated a more serious method of having no potato-pancakes for the comsettling the question (a harmless bra- ing year. "I proposed, for economy's vado on my part), soon quieted him. sake, to dig and plant the same; and

There was one bright spot in Aeselen, how they all agreed with merry glee, and that was my home. When first and how cheerfully all hands set to work. looking for a lodging, the fact of my The blow-pipe professor's wife, oppohaving refused a room in a professor's site, observed it, from her reflecting winhouse—from the pompous way in which dow mirror, and, in ten minutes, all Aethe professor's lady majestically did me selen knew it, and throngs of the curious the honor of showing me her bare apart inspected our labors. What an occasion ment, with the proviso of three towels to talk and tattle! I must admit that, and one pair of sheets per month—did in order to appear quite at my ease and much to make me a subject of talk and accustomed to the work, I almost broke tattle (unfortunate that I was, I must my back over the spade. confess, I took the Frau Professorin for When summer came, a basket of the a rapacious landlady). The cleanliness first-fruits were sent to the blow-pipe of my little room-perhaps more, some professor's wife, by myself, with a pofamiliar prints on the wall—the pleasant lite note, expressing "the hope of her face of my old landlady, made mo se acceptance of the same, as the auspicious cure it, without bargaining.

eye, with which she had regarded our Dear old landlady, how she cared potato-planting, had, no doubt, aided for me; and her daughters, how they them in their growth.”. They were spoiled me. Pretty Dorothie! How thankfully received, and pronounced much sweeter was the sugar, when "ausgezeichnet." passing through your taper fingers ! What an excitement the club-ball was The daughters kept the house, week for our young ladies, and how Dorothie and week about; and how well I knew it. would wear Charlotte's scarf, and CharWas it Christiana, the bustling, the re lotte Dorothie's skirt. For my dancing lentless! a big thump at my door woke lessons, Dorothie taught me the zitter me at cock-crow, for early morning lec —and how I bungled at it, and tried her ture. Was it Dorothie, I got five patience over the twanging wires. Sweet lumps of sugar, every morning, with Dorothie, a fairer, purer creature never my coffee, whilst the other students in lived to be immersed within the stupid the house got but three. Was it Wilhe Aeselen! mine, lisping Wilheminchen! I was at At first, the good old mother lifted up liberty to sleep on forever. Charlotte! her hands, at our goings on, and cried, Lottche ever graced my frugal break " What will Aeselen say?" I pacified fast with sweet cake, made by her own her, with saying, that it was all “acfair hands. How they manufactured cording to the American fashion." for me smoking-caps and tobacco I confess, at first, they were wont to pouches, and strangely-knitted things, tattle, and tear the Loffels and Gabels which only German women's hands and to tatters : but, after a score of protractpatience can devise. Dear souls, how ed struggles, I cured them. I proved to they cried their eyes out, when I left; them, that the fact of my wearing a and how I promised to write to them, turn-down collar in the morning, and a which promise, wretch that I am, I have stand-up one in the evening, was of no never yet kept. How merrily we worked moment to Aeselen, and of no particular in the garden, and how I went up the eccentricity on my part. apricot trees, and showered down the That the fact of my taking an occagolden fruit on them.

There was a sional evening walk, of a mile or so, was potato-patch, back of the house, some neither a reason to suppose me of a rohalf an acre, with a summer-house in mantic turn, nor that, conscience strick

of both parties—as they are expected to protect their principals. I once saw a student without a nose, and was informed that his own principal had cut it off. Upon the whole, it is the most insignificant, but, if I may be allowed the paradox, the most admirable, of all the “ kinds of duello." Neither party hurt, and both parties satisfied.

« AnteriorContinuar »