THE LUFT BAD.
I think it must be the umbrellas which make us look ridiculous.
When I was admitted into the enclosure for the first time, and
fellow-bathers walking about very nearly "in their nakeds,"
it struck me
that the umbrellas gave a distinctly "Little Black Sambo"
Ridiculous dignity in holding over yourself a green cotton thing
with a red
parroquet handle when you are dressed in nothing larger than a
There are no trees in the "Luft Bad." It boasts a collection
wooden cells, a bath shelter, two swings and two odd clubs--one,
the lost property of Hercules or the German army, and the other
to be used
with safety in the cradle.
And there in all weathers we take the air--walking, or sitting
companies talking over each other's ailments and measurements and
flesh is heir to.
A high wooden wall compasses us all about; above it the pine-trees
down a little superciliously, nudging each other in a way that is
peculiarly trying to a debutante. Over the wall, on the right side,
men's section. We hear them chopping down trees and sawing through
dashing heavy weights to the ground, and singing part songs. Yes,
take it far more seriously.
On the first day I was conscious of my legs, and went back into
three times to look at my watch, but when a woman with whom I had
chess for three weeks cut me dead, I took heart and joined a circle.
We lay curled on the ground while a Hungarian lady of immense proportions
told us what a beautiful tomb she had bought for her second husband.
"A vault it is," she said, "with nice black railings.
And so large that I
can go down there and walk about. Both their photographs are there,
two very handsome wreaths sent me by my first husband's brother.
an enlargement of a family group photograph, too, and an illuminated
address presented to my first husband on his marriage. I am often
it makes such a pleasant excursion for a fine Saturday afternoon."
She suddenly lay down flat on her back, took in six long breaths,
"The death agony was dreadful," she said brightly; "of
the second, I mean.
The 'first' was run into by a furniture wagon, and had fifty marks
out of a new waistcoat pocket, but the 'second' was dying for sixty-seven
hours. I never ceased crying once--not even to put the children
A young Russian, with a "bang" curl on her forehead,
turned to me.
"Can you do the 'Salome' dance?" she asked. "I can."
"How delightful," I said.
"Shall I do it now? Would you like to see me?"
She sprang to her feet, executed a series of amazing contortions
next ten minutes, and then paused, panting, twisting her long hair.
"Isn't that nice?" she said. "And now I am perspiring
so splendidly. I
shall go and take a bath."
Opposite to me was the brownest woman I have ever seen, lying on
her arms clasped over her head.
"How long have you been here to-day?" she was asked.
"Oh, I spend the day here now," she answered. "I
am making my own 'cure,'
and living entirely on raw vegetables and nuts, and each day I feel
spirit is stronger and purer. After all, what can you expect? The
majority of us are walking about with pig corpuscles and oxen fragments
our brain. The wonder is the world is as good as it is. Now I live
simple, provided food"--she pointed to a little bag beside
a carrot, a potato, and some nuts are ample, rational nourishment.
them under the tap and eat them raw, just as they come from the
earth--fresh and uncontaminated."
"Do you take nothing else all day?" I cried.
"Water. And perhaps a banana if I wake in the night."
She turned round
and leaned on one elbow. "You over-eat yourself dreadfully,"
"shamelessly! How can you expect the Flame of the Spirit to
under layers of superfluous flesh?"
I wished she would not stare at me, and thought of going to look
watch again when a little girl wearing a string of coral beads joined
"The poor Frau Hauptmann cannot join us to-day," she
said; "she has come
out in spots all over on account of her nerves. She was very excited
yesterday after having written two post-cards."
"A delicate woman," volunteered the Hungarian, "but
pleasant. Fancy, she
has a separate plate for each of her front teeth! But she has no
let her daughters wear such short sailor suits. They sit about on
crossing their legs in a most shameless manner. What are you going
this afternoon, Fraulein Anna?"
"Oh," said the Coral Necklace, "the Herr Oberleutnant
has asked me to go
with him to Landsdorf. He must buy some eggs there to take home
mother. He saves a penny on eight eggs by knowing the right peasants
"Are you an American?" said the Vegetable Lady, turning
"Then you are an Englishwoman?"
"You must be one of the two; you cannot help it. I have seen
alone several times. You wear your--"
I got up and climbed on to the swing. The air was sweet and cool,
past my body. Above, white clouds trailed delicately through the
From the pine forest streamed a wild perfume, the branches swayed
rhythmically, sonorously. I felt so light and free and happy--so
I wanted to poke my tongue out at the circle on the grass, who,
close together, were whispering meaningly.
"Perhaps you do not know," cried a voice from one of
the cells, "to swing
is very upsetting for the stomach? A friend of mine could keep nothing
down for three weeks after exciting herself so."
I went to the bath shelter and was hosed.
As I dressed, someone tapped on the wall.
"Do you know," said a voice, "there is a man who
LIVES in the Luft Bad next
door? He buries himself up to the armpits in mud and refuses to
The umbrellas are the saving grace of the Luft Bad. Now when I
go, I take
my husband's "storm" gamp and sit in a corner, hiding
Not that I am in the least ashamed of my legs.