Bread soup was
placed upon the table. "Ah," said the Herr Rat, leaning
upon the table as he peered into the tureen, "that is what
I need. My
'magen' has not been in order for several days. Bread soup, and
right consistency. I am a good cook myself"--he turned to me.
I said, attempting to infuse just the right amount of
enthusiasm into my voice.
one is not married it is necessary. As for me, I have had
all I wanted from women without marriage." He tucked his napkin
collar and blew upon his soup as he spoke. "Now at nine o'clock
myself an English breakfast, but not much. Four slices of bread,
two slices of cold ham, one plate of soup, two cups of tea--that
the fact so vehemently that I had not the courage to refute it.
All eyes were
suddenly turned upon me. I felt I was bearing the burden of
the nation's preposterous breakfast--I who drank a cup of coffee
buttoning my blouse in the morning.
at all," cried Herr Hoffmann from Berlin. "Ach, when I
England in the morning I used to eat."
He turned up
his eyes and his moustache, wiping the soup drippings from his
coat and waistcoat.
really eat so much?" asked Fraulein Stiegelauer. "Soup
baker's bread and pig's flesh, and tea and coffee and stewed fruit,
honey and eggs, and cold fish and kidneys, and hot fish and liver?
ladies eat, too, especially the ladies."
I myself have noticed it, when I was living in a hotel in
Leicester Square," cried the Herr Rat. "It was a good
hotel, but they
could not make tea--now--"
one thing I CAN do," said I, laughing brightly. "I can
very good tea. The great secret is to warm the teapot."
teapot," interrupted the Herr Rat, pushing away his soup plate.
"What do you warm the teapot for? Ha! ha! that's very good!
One does not
eat the teapot, I suppose?"
He fixed his
cold blue eyes upon me with an expression which suggested a
thousand premeditated invasions.
is the great secret of your English tea? All you do is to warm
I wanted to
say that was only the preliminary canter, but could not
translate it, and so was silent.
brought in veal, with sauerkraut and potatoes.
sauerkraut with great pleasure," said the Traveller from North
Germany, "but now I have eaten so much of it that I cannot
retain it. I am
immediately forced to--"
day," I cried, turning to Fraulein Stiegelauer. "Did you
o'clock I walked for ten minutes in the wet grass. Again in bed.
At half-past five I fell asleep, and woke at seven, when I made
'overbody' washing! Again in bed. At eight o'clock I had a cold-water
poultice, and at half past eight I drank a cup of mint tea. At nine
drank some malt coffee, and began my 'cure.' Pass me the sauerkraut,
please. You do not eat it?"
you. I still find it a little strong."
true," asked the Widow, picking her teeth with a hairpin as
spoke, "that you are a vegetarian?"
I have not eaten meat for three years."
Have you any family?"
now, you see, that's what you're coming to! Who ever heard of
having children upon vegetables? It is not possible. But you never
large families in England now; I suppose you are too busy with your
suffragetting. Now I have had nine children, and they are all alive,
God. Fine, healthy babies--though after the first one was born I
said the Widow contemptuously, replacing the hairpin in the
knob which was balanced on the top of her head. "Not at all!
A friend of
mine had four at the same time. Her husband was so pleased he gave
supper-party and had them placed on the table. Of course she was
boomed the Traveller, biting round a potato which he had speared
with his knife, "is the home of the Family."
The dishes were
changed for beef, red currants and spinach. They wiped
their forks upon black bread and started again.
are you remaining here?" asked the Herr Rat.
"I do not
know exactly. I must be back in London in September."
you will visit Munchen?"
"I am afraid
I shall not have time. You see, it is important not to break
into my 'cure.'"
MUST go to Munchen. You have not seen Germany if you have not
been to Munchen. All the Exhibitions, all the Art and Soul life
are in Munchen. There is the Wagner Festival in August, and Mozart
Japanese collection of pictures--and there is the beer! You do not
what good beer is until you have been to Munchen. Why, I see fine
every afternoon, but fine ladies, I tell you, drinking glasses so
He measured a good washstand pitcher in height, and I smiled.
"If I drink
a great deal of Munchen beer I sweat so," said Herr Hoffmann.
"When I am here, in the fields or before my baths, I sweat,
but I enjoy it;
but in the town it is not at all the same thing."
the thought, he wiped his neck and face with his dinner napkin
and carefully cleaned his ears.
A glass dish
of stewed apricots was placed upon the table.
said Fraulein Stiegelauer, "that is so necessary to health.
The doctor told me this morning that the more fruit I could eat
She very obviously
followed the advice.
Said the Traveller:
"I suppose you are frightened of an invasion, too, eh?
Oh, that's good. I've been reading all about your English play in
newspaper. Did you see it?"
I sat upright. "I assure you we are not afraid."
then, you ought to be," said the Herr Rat. "You have got
no army at
all--a few little boys with their veins full of nicotine poisoning."
be afraid," Herr Hoffmann said. "We don't want England.
If we did
we would have had her long ago. We really do not want you."
He waved his
spoon airily, looking across at me as though I were a little
child whom he would keep or dismiss as he pleased.
do not want Germany," I said.
I took a half bath. Then this afternoon I must take a knee
bath and an arm bath," volunteered the Herr Rat; "then
I do my exercises
for an hour, and my work is over. A glass of wine and a couple of
with some sardines--"
They were handed
cherry cake with whipped cream.
your husband's favourite meat?" asked the Widow.
do not know," I answered.
do not know? How long have you been married?"
cannot be in earnest! You would not have kept house as his wife
for a week without knowing that fact."
never asked him; he is not at all particular about his food."
A pause. They
all looked at me, shaking their heads, their mouths full of
there is a repetition in England of that dreadful state of
things in Paris," said the Widow, folding her dinner napkin.
"How can a
woman expect to keep her husband if she does not know his favourite
after three years?"
I closed the
door after me.