The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries Volume Xii Part 72

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CHAPTER XXIV

Three days later, at nine o ‘clock in the evening, Innstetten arrived in Berlin. Effi, her mother, and Cousin Briest were at the station.

The reception was hearty, particularly on the part of Effi, and a world of things had been talked about when the carriage they had taken stopped before their new residence on Keith street. “Well, you have made a good choice, Effi,” said Innstetten, as he entered the vestibule; “no shark, no crocodile, and, I hope, no spooks.”

“No, Geert, that is all past. A new era has dawned and I am no longer afraid. I am also going to be better than heretofore and live more according to your will.” This she whispered to him as they climbed the carpeted stairs to the third story. Cousin von Briest escorted the mother.

In their apartment there was still a great deal to be done, but enough had been accomplished to make a homelike impression and Innstetten exclaimed out of the joy of his heart: “Effi, you are a little genius.” But she declined the praise, pointing to her mother, saying she really deserved the credit. Her mother had issued inexorable commands, such as, “It must stand here,” and had always been right, with the natural result that much time had been saved and their good humor had never been disturbed. Finally Roswitha came in to welcome her master. She took advantage of the opportunity to say: “Miss Annie begs to be excused for today,”–a little joke, of which she was proud, and which accomplished her purpose perfectly.

They took seats around the table, already set, and when Innstetten had poured himself a gla.s.s of wine and all had joined him in a toast to “happy days,” he took Effi’s hand and said: “Now tell me, Effi, what was the nature of your illness?”

“Oh, let us not talk about that; it would be a waste of breath–A little painful and a real disturbance, because it cancelled our plans.

But that was all, and now it is past. Rummschuttel justified his reputation; he is a fine, amiable old man, as I believe I wrote you.

He is said not to be a particularly brilliant scholar, but mama says that is an advantage. And she is doubtless right, as usual. Our good Dr. Hannemann was no luminary either, and yet he was always successful. Now tell me, how are Gieshubler and all the others?”

“Let me see, who are all the others? Crampas sends his regards to her Ladyship.”

“Ah, very polite.”

“And the pastor also wishes to be remembered to you. But the people in the country were rather cool and seemed inclined to hold me responsible for your departure without formally taking leave. Our friend Sidonie spoke quite pointedly, but good Mrs. von Padden, whom I called on specially the day before yesterday, was genuinely pleased to receive your regards and your declaration of love for her. She said you were a charming woman, but I ought to guard you well. When I replied that you considered me more of a pedagogue than a husband, she said in an undertone and almost as though speaking from another world: ‘A young lamb as white as snow!’ Then she stopped.”

Cousin von Briest laughed. “‘A young lamb as white as snow.’ Hear that, cousin?” He was going to continue teasing her, but gave it up when he saw that she turned pale.

The conversation dragged on a while longer, dealing chiefly with former relations, and Effi finally learned, from various things Innstetten said, that of all their Kessin household Johanna alone had declared a willingness to move with them to Berlin. She had remained behind, to be sure, but would arrive in two or three days with the rest of the things. Innstetten was glad of her decision, for she had always been their most useful servant and possessed an unusual amount of the style demanded in a large city, perhaps a bit too much. Both Christel and Frederick had said they were too old, and Kruse had not even been asked. “What do we want with a coachman here?” concluded Innstetten, “private horses and carriages are things of the past; that luxury is seen no more in Berlin. We could not even have found a place for the black chicken. Or do I underestimate the apartment?”

Effi shook her head, and as a short pause ensued the mother arose, saying it was half past ten and she had still a long way to go, but n.o.body should accompany her, as the carriage stand was quite near.

Cousin Briest declined, of course, to accede to this request.

Thereupon they bade each other good night, after arranging to meet the following morning.

Effi was up rather early and, as the air was almost as warm as in the summer, had ordered the breakfast table moved close to the open balcony door. When Innstetten appeared she stepped out upon the balcony with him and said: “Well, what do you say? You wished to hear the finches singing in the Tiergarten and the parrots calling in the Zoological Garden. I don’t know whether both will do you the favor, but it is possible. Do you hear that? It came from the little park over yonder. It is not the real Tiergarten, but near it.”

Innstetten was delighted and as grateful as though Effi herself had conjured up all these things for him. Then they sat down and Annie came in. Roswitha expected Innstetten to find a great change in the child, and he did. They went on chatting, first about the people of Kessin, then about the visits to be made in Berlin, and finally about a summer journey. They had to stop in the middle of their conversation in order to be at the rendezvous on time.

They met, as agreed, at Helms’s, opposite the Red Palace, went to various stores, lunched at Hiller’s, and were home again in good season. It was a capital day together, and Innstetten was very glad to be able once more to share in the life of a great city and feel its influence upon him. The following day, the 1st of April, he went to the Chancellor’s Palace to register, considerately foregoing a personal call, and then went to the Ministry to report for duty. He was received, in spite of the rush of business and social obligations, in fact he was favored with a particularly friendly reception by his chief, who said: “I know what a valuable man you are and am certain nothing can ever disturb our harmony.”

Likewise at home everything a.s.sumed a good aspect. Effi truly regretted to see her mother return to Hohen-Cremmen, even after her treatment had been prolonged to nearly six weeks, as she had predicted in the beginning. But the loss was partly offset by Johanna’s arrival in Berlin on the same day. That was at least something, and even if the pretty blonde was not so near to Effi’s heart as the wholly unselfish and infinitely good-natured Roswitha, nevertheless she was treated on an equality with her, both by Innstetten and her young mistress, because she was very clever and useful and showed a decided, self-conscious reserve toward the men. According to a Kessin rumor the roots of her existence could be traced to a long-retired officer of the Pasewalk garrison, which was said to explain her aristocratic temperament, her beautiful blonde hair, and the special shapeliness of her appearance. Johanna shared the joy displayed on all hands at her arrival and was perfectly willing to resume her former duties as house servant and lady’s maid, whereas Roswitha, who after an experience of nearly a year had acquired about all of Christel’s cookery art, was to superintend the culinary department. The care and nurture of Annie fell to Effi herself, at which Roswitha naturally laughed, for she knew young wives.

Innstetten was wholly devoted to his office and his home. He was happier than formerly in Kessin, because he could not fail to observe that Effi manifested more artlessness and cheerfulness. She could do so because she felt freer. True, the past still cast a shadow over her life, but it no longer worried her, or at least much more rarely and transiently, and all such after-effects served but to give her bearing a peculiar charm. In everything she did there was an element of sadness, of confession, so to speak, and it would have made her happy if she could have shown it still more plainly. But, of course, she dared not.

When they made their calls, during the first weeks of April, the social season of the great city was not yet past, but it was about to end, so they were unable to share in it to any great extent. During the latter half of May it expired completely and they were more than ever happy to be able to meet at the noon hour in the Tiergarten, when Innstetten came from his office, or to take a walk in the afternoon to the garden of the Palace in Charlottenburg. As Effi walked up and down the long front, between the Palace and the orange trees, she studied time and again the many Roman emperors standing there, found a remarkable resemblance between Nero and t.i.tus, gathered pine cones that had fallen from the trees, and then walked arm in arm with her husband toward the Spree till they came to the lonely Belvedere Palace.

“They say this palace was also once haunted,” she remarked.

“No, merely ghostly apparitions.”

“That is the same thing.”

“Yes, sometimes,” said Innstetten. “As a matter of fact, however, there is a difference. Ghostly apparitions are always artificial, or at least that is said to have been the case in the Belvedere, as Cousin von Briest told me only yesterday, but hauntings are never artificial; hauntings are natural.”

“So you do believe in them?”

“Certainly I believe in them. There are such things. But I don’t quite believe in those we had in Kessin. Has Johanna shown you her Chinaman yet?”

“What Chinaman?”

“Why, ours. Before she left our old house she pulled him off the back of the chair upstairs and put him in her purse. I caught a glimpse of him not long ago when she was changing a mark for me. She was embarra.s.sed, but confessed.”

“Oh, Geert, you ought not to have told me that. Now there is such a thing in our house again.”

“Tell her to burn it up.”

“No, I don’t want to; it would not do any good anyhow. But I will ask Roswitha–“

“What? Oh, I understand, I can imagine what you are thinking of. You will ask her to buy a picture of a saint and put it also in the purse.

Is that about it?”

Effi nodded.

“Well, do what you like, but do not tell anybody.”

Effi finally said she would rather not do it, and they went on talking about all sorts of little things, till the plans for their summer journey gradually crowded out other interests. They rode back to the “Great Star” and then walked home by the Korso Boulevard and the broad Frederick William Street.

They planned to take their vacation at the end of July and go to the Bavarian Alps, as the Pa.s.sion Play was to be given again this year at Oberammergau. But it could not be done, as Privy Councillor von Wullersdorf, whom Innstetten had known for some time and who was now his special colleague, fell sick suddenly and Innstetten had to stay and take his place. Not until the middle of August was everything again running smoothly and a vacation journey possible. It was too late then to go to Oberammergau, so they fixed upon a sojourn on the island of Rugen. “First, of course, Stralsund, with Schill, whom you know, and with Scheele, whom you don’t know. Scheele discovered oxygen, but you don’t need to know that. Then from Stralsund to Bergen and the Rugard, where Wullersdorf said one can get a good view of the whole island, and thence between the Big and the Little Jasmund Bodden to Sa.s.snitz. Going to Rugen means going to Sa.s.snitz. Binz might perhaps be possible, too, but, to quote Wullersdorf again, there are so many small pebbles and sh.e.l.ls on the beach, and we want to go bathing.”

Effi agreed to everything planned by Innstetten, especially that the whole household should be broken up for four weeks, Roswitha going with Annie to Hohen-Cremmen, and Johanna visiting her younger half-brother, who had a sawmill near Pasewalk. Thus everybody was well provided for.

At the beginning of the following week they set out and the same evening were in Sa.s.snitz. Over the hostelry was the sign, “Hotel Fahrenheit.” “I hope the prices are according to Reaumur,” added Innstetten, as he read the name, and the two took an evening walk along the beach cliffs in the best of humor. From a projecting rock they looked out upon the bay quivering in the moonlight. Effi was entranced. “Ah, Geert, why, this is Capri, it is Sorrento. Yes, let us stay here, but not in the hotel, of course. The waiters are too aristocratic for me and I feel ashamed to ask for a bottle of soda water.”

“Yes, everybody is an employee. But, I think, we can find private quarters.”

“I think so too. And we will look for them the first thing in the morning.”

The next morning was as beautiful as the evening had been, and they took coffee out of doors. Innstetten received a few letters, which had to be attended to promptly, and so Effi decided at once to employ the hour thus left free for her in looking for quarters. She first walked past an inclosed meadow, then past groups of houses and fields of oats, finally turning into a road which ran through a kind of gully to the sea. Where this gully road struck the beach there stood an inn shaded by tall beech trees, not so aristocratic as the “Fahrenheit,” a mere restaurant, in fact, which because of the early hour was entirely empty. Effi sat down at a point with a good view and hardly had she taken a sip of the sherry she had ordered when the inn-keeper stepped up to engage her in conversation, half out of curiosity and half out of politeness.

“We like it very well here,” she said, “my husband and I. What a splendid view of the bay! Our only worry is about a place to stay.”

“Well, most gracious Lady, that will be hard.”

“Why, it is already late in the season.”

“In spite of that. Here in Sa.s.snitz there is surely nothing to be found, I can guarantee you. But farther along the sh.o.r.e, where the next village begins–you can see the shining roofs from here–there you might perhaps find something.”

“What is the name of the village?”

“Crampas.”