Interesting Extracts From A Friend’s Letter

JUST as we are reminded by the German students of our borderland boys, we are receiving letters from a friend, a Western business man, who until recently was a member of our travelling party, and to give our readers a little change from the matter-of-fact record of our own experiences we present some stray bits from his letters, letting him tell in his own language some of the impressions made upon him by this foreign country. When our jovial companion left us and started entirely alone, without any knowledge of the German, for the Carlsbad Springs, where the old doctor had sent him, one member of our party, who understood the Teutonic tongue, gave him a small list of the most necessary German words, initiating him into the mystical pronunciation of them. He tried to imitate the latter, but was quite at sea, groping for those strange sounds which seemed to get out of his reach so rapidly after he had heard them. He writes from Nuremberg :

” The driver of the droschke whom I engaged to show me round the city faithfully explained everything. I tried to make him comprehend that I did not ` foosstan.’ He thought he had not been explicit enough, and so went over all the details again, more minutely than before.

“I enjoyed the town immensely, and must say that in point of magnificent old architecture Nuremberg leads them all. I returned to the hotel and drank beer for half an hour, and went to the station with a pain under my vest, well knowing that the proprietor of the hash-foundry had swindled me out of thirty-five pfennigs, at least.

“I jumped into the car at the depot and took a seat, when a big Dutchman yelled at me to come out. I did so, . and the guard asked me in German for my billet. This last, thanks to my tutor, I remembered, but I could not find it. I looked and looked, but no ticket. I thought of my inside vest pocket-book, and there it was tucked away safely inside of my letter of credit, ” I had barely time to board the train again when the bell rang, the guard slammed the door, and we were soon rapidly leaving the city be-hind. Besides myself there were two other gentlemen in the coach. One of them (evidently a German) at once opened conversation with the other, whom I had ventured to hope was an American or an Englishman ; but, as he assented to his companion’s replies, I settled my-self comfortably in my corner, and wondered how any human being could understand such a confused medley of sounds. As I had previously read my only American paper, and having nothing whatever to do, I quietly listened to the German vocal sounds (taking no exception whatever), and soon noticed that one of the gentlemen, the speaker, rather monopolized the conversation, his companion always assenting to all he said, and responding ‘ Yah’ in a wonderful variety of modulated tones, and I could not but recognize the art of being a good listener. The first speaker at last, disgusted by the monosyllabic answers of his companion, turned to him and said quite plainly, ‘Do you speak English ?’ whereupon the other responded : ` Yes, by thunder, that is the only language I do speak.’ Of course we all enjoyed the situation, and the remainder of the journey was passed in pleasant conversation, interrupted with English and German jokes.

“I more and more realize how embarrassing it is to be in a strange country with the thousand-and-one needs of the traveller, and yet quite unable to speak a single word that will bring an answering look of intelligence into the face of the person addressed. I could not help thinking how often, in our own country, we meet such unfortunate people, and yet pass them without a thought, or, if we give them one, it is as to their foreign stupidity in not being able to speak the king’s English.

” An American who has never visited Europe can form little idea from books of the watering-places in this country. I arrived at Carlsbad in the evening, and as we rattled along over the stones, with our baggage safely on the top of the hotel ‘bus, there came a man with a wagon laden with boxes and vegetables and such a diminutive donkey in front that it seemed a shame for that great, fat fellow to ride on the top of the big load and make the dear little donkey do all the work. I thought the least he could do would be to help the poor creature up the hill at which he was now tugging. This he finally did, with a very ill grace, after the little brute had exerted his full strength under blows and curses and yet failed to accomplish the task. The human brute resumed his place on the load at the top of the hill with an air of complete satisfaction.

” When I reached the Hôtel de Russe I was assigned rooms on the highest floor. I found later that the price was much the same as for better ones lower down ; and as for the fees, I thought I should never get through paying them. I soon had to repair to my bankers, whom, owing to my letter of credit, I prevailed upon to give me some of the needful. The fol-lowing morning I arose at 6.30, and opening my window heard the grand band playing at the springs. I descended, and soon met men and women going to and returning from the springs. Each had a cup suspended from his neck by a strap, on the end of which was a small steel snap, by means of which the cup could easily be detached.

“I at once hied me to a stand where an old woman kept a full stock of cups, straps, tubes, etc., and purchased a ` lay-out,’ and found when I got away that I had been swindled out of ten kreutzers. I went back—this was foolish—and tried to convince the old lady of the error of her ways, to no other purpose than to find that she had quite forgotten even the little English she had used in making the sale to me. I went off thinking how unscrupulous foreigners are. I now felt rather ashamed to go walking around in daylight with the blue-streaked cup hanging to my neck. Like the boy with the new silk hat, I thought every one was looking at me. I turned aside to hide my blushes, and finally straggled into the long line which was marching slowly to the music in the direction of the springs.

“Here we found six little girls methodically dipping up the water, handing up the clips from one to another, and placing them on a shelf so that the man with the mad liver and the woman with inflamed kidneys could reach it. You just take your cup of water and move on through the grand colonnade, and slowly place yourself outside of the water, and, according to your doctor’s directions, you take the next glass and fall into line accordingly. The water is mildly unpleasant, especially after the fifth glass, and it takes excellent music to make you forget the taste. I did not see any of the musicians indulge in the water, and I am sure that with a stomach full of it before breakfast the average artist would be likely to produce discord. An hour usually elapses between the last glass and breakfast, which is generally taken in one of the restaurants in the suburbs or in the neighboring mountains, since long walks are a necessary part of the cure.

” There are a number of excellent bands in Carlsbad, and the people follow them around from one place to another, always ascertaining in the morning where the music is to be at night, and then they engage seats in advance and go at any hour that suits, always finding their seats awaiting them. I enjoyed these musical suppers very much, and what with cheerful conversation and pleasant companions I never remember to have had better times.

” There are a number of springs in the building and many others throughout the city, but analysis shows the chemical properties to be about the same. The main difference lies in the temperature, which varies from lukewarm to boiling hot. One of the latter spouts up ten feet high. Tea or coffee can be made with the water directly from the spring. To watch the many specimens and conditions of humanity is an interesting pastime, as you see people from all quarters of the globe. Here passes a portly Englishman, whose rubicund face and well-rounded form stand in strong contrast with the emaciated Italian, or the young Polish Jew who has a fearful case of jaundice, and whose clothes plainly show long use, and that they should have been replaced by new ones is only too plain. Then, further on, we notice a young German woman whose face betokens great suffering. She is leaning upon the arm of an old man, perhaps her father, and from the appearance of the couple one is compelled to believe that they have had to make some sacrifice in order to get to Carlsbad to drink its healing waters, and they, no doubt, felt that it was her last chance.

” There comes a middle-aged man with a young woman, richly attired, and with a profusion of jewelry about their persons. The whole bearing of this class here is so supercilious and disgusting that I went home and took off what jewelry I had on, and now I intend to omit the glitter. There are misery and happiness, refinement and vulgarity, poverty and wealth, all mixed together in the diversified throngs daily seen upon the thoroughfares. Jews from the East (livers out of order), the most curious and antiquated specimens of humanity. They are generally tall and spare, with black eyes and hair, and a sharp look, as though they were good judges of ready-made clothing and diamonds. They wear a small ringlet or curl hanging down in front of each ear, and the hair behind is clipped quite close. They do not shave, but, like Abraham, they allow their beards to grow the full length. Altogether they present a some-what uncanny appearance, as they are constitutionally opposed to water, and the reader can readily understand the advisability of keeping a safe distance from his Eastern brother.

I was out with a friend, the other evening, who had been looking upon the wine when it was red, and was in the humor to paint the city of the same color. As we walked through the park we noticed two of the fancy-looking gentlemen with the long black coats and the two little curls sitting near by the path. A sudden notion seized my friend to go and throw one of them down, and cut off a curl with his scissors, and carry it away as a trophy. I, of course, re-strained him, and we found out afterwards that all these fellows carry long knives, in the use of which they are very skilful. No doubt we might have become involved in a serious difficulty had I been of the same inclination as my friend.

“Here we see the mammas out in full force, with dear Clara or Julia, and they smile and are so charming that the ordinary public does not know how desperate the dear girls are getting, or how often they hear from their dear mammas on the subject of marriage and its usefulness. I know there is some of the same trouble for American girls at home, but my impression is that the chances are fearfully whittled down here. It would seem to be the part of wisdom for any American girls in this country who entertain these views about marriage, and have so far had no opportunity of embodying them, to save money enough out of a season’s frivolities to purchase a ticket to the `land of the free and the home of the brave,’ unless, of course, the lady gives up all idea of matrimony, and the scarcity of such cases makes it not worth mentioning. Nevertheless, I am proud to say that the American girl is at a big premium in the European market, that they are much sought by the men, and correspondingly envied by their foreign sisters.

“The way the restaurants are run here is something quite peculiar, and especially in the matter of fees to the waiters. It is marvellous how many waiters there are here, and how they try, with their shrewd and cunning ways, to get fees. Their promptness to serve you increases as the meal is nearly over. Wherever you look one of them seems to spring up, and you find his hand immediately under your nose. The head-waiter, the wine-waiter, the coffee-waiter, and the waiter who serves the food, all expect a fee at every meal. A free American citizen cannot turn round without one of these crouching varmints after him, and if you don’t fee him he gives you to understand he knows it, and if you do he takes it as a matter of course. I some-times forget my book of phrases at breakfast or tea, and I have trouble every time, as the waiters cannot understand my English ; and although the head pusher can speak some English, he is generally busy making up some unfortunate’s ‘rechnung.’ I tried ten fellows one day and had to fall back on my only known phrase: `Zweieier mit brod and thea,’ and, strange to say, I got them all right. I can now rattle this off as though I had plenty more behind it but did not care to waste it on waiters. I eat in stately silence and pay no attention to the conversation all around me.

My doctor seems to take a lively interest in me, and I think is rather ashamed of himself that he cannot converse in English. The other day when I went to see him he produced a piece of paper upon which he had written a number of English sentences, and when I asked him a question he would hastily refer to the paper and try to pick out a suitable reply. I said : ‘Doc-tor, you have a pleasant office.’ He assured me my `kidneys were all right.’ I told him I was glad of it, and he said : `Olt ! no, it is quite a mistake ; you go on as usual and take three glasses of the water daily.’ I asked him when I should call again, and he said I could take a glass of red wine with my supper, and he finally wound up the conversation by saying that he ‘could not sprechen pretty good English.’ On this last we cordially shook hands, and I shook the doctor. I don’t intend to call on him more than three times a day from this on.

“I am beginning to feel some of the old-time vigor. When I arrived I felt as though if any one had kicked me I should have apologized. After having been here ten days I felt as though I should have firmly stood my ground. I now feel as though I should give him kick for kick ; and that at the end of thirty days I should wipe up the ground with him, and the bystanders would have to interfere.

” I had among my effects on arriving here a bottle of American tanglefoot. I think it was originally imported from New Jersey in June, 1888. It was too old for nie as it was. I never took but one dose of this excellent whiskey. I am very thankful I am alive to write these lines. Under the ` influence’ of that one drink I did things which plainly showed that I was acting under excitement. I gave away all my spare kreutzers, and yet the porter was kindly attentive. I ran my hand into my pocket where the kreutzers had been, but no kreutzers were left. I was desperate, but not half so desperate as the porter was, later. In an unguarded moment I gave that poor porter the bottle of pure Jersey lightning, and he rapidly but gracefully with-drew, and so did I, rolling away from the house to the station. No doubt that dose was more than even the German stomach could stand, and the friends and acquaintances of the family will attend.”