It has long been the custom of the North German Lloyd steamers, which conve_assengers from Bremen to New York, to anchor for several hours in th_leasant port of Southampton, where their human cargo receives many additions.
An intelligent young German, Count Otto Vogelstein, hardly knew a few year_go whether to condemn this custom or approve it. He leaned over the bulwark_f the Donau as the American passengers crossed the plank—the travellers wh_mbark at Southampton are mainly of that nationality—and curiously, indifferently, vaguely, through the smoke of his cigar, saw them absorbed i_he huge capacity of the ship, where he had the agreeable consciousness tha_is own nest was comfortably made. To watch from such a point of vantage th_truggles of those less fortunate than ourselves—of the uninformed, th_nprovided, the belated, the bewildered—is an occupation not devoid o_weetness, and there was nothing to mitigate the complacency with which ou_oung friend gave himself up to it; nothing, that is, save a natura_enevolence which had not yet been extinguished by the consciousness o_fficial greatness. For Count Vogelstein was official, as I think you woul_ave seen from the straightness of his back, the lustre of his light elegan_pectacles, and something discreet and diplomatic in the curve of hi_oustache, which looked as if it might well contribute to the principa_unction, as cynics say, of the lips—the active concealment of thought. He ha_een appointed to the secretaryship of the German legation at Washington an_n these first days of the autumn was about to take possession of his post. H_as a model character for such a purpose—serious civil ceremonious curiou_tiff, stuffed with knowledge and convinced that, as lately rearranged, th_erman Empire places in the most striking light the highest of all th_ossibilities of the greatest of all the peoples. He was quite aware, however, of the claims to economic and other consideration of the United States, an_hat this quarter of the globe offered a vast field for study.
The process of inquiry had already begun for him, in spite of his having a_et spoken to none of his fellow-passengers; the case being that Vogelstei_nquired not only with his tongue, but with his eyes—that is with hi_pectacles—with his ears, with his nose, with his palate, with all his sense_nd organs. He was a highly upright young man, whose only fault was that hi_ense of comedy, or of the humour of things, had never been specificall_isengaged from his several other senses. He vaguely felt that somethin_hould be done about this, and in a general manner proposed to do it, for h_as on his way to explore a society abounding in comic aspects. Thi_onsciousness of a missing measure gave him a certain mistrust of what migh_e said of him; and if circumspection is the essence of diplomacy our youn_spirant promised well. His mind contained several millions of facts, packe_oo closely together for the light breeze of the imagination to draw throug_he mass. He was impatient to report himself to his superior in Washington, and the loss of time in an English port could only incommode him, inasmuch a_he study of English institutions was no part of his mission. On the othe_and the day was charming; the blue sea, in Southampton Water, pricked al_ver with light, had no movement but that of its infinite shimmer. Moreover h_as by no means sure that he should be happy in the United States, wher_oubtless he should find himself soon enough disembarked. He knew that thi_as not an important question and that happiness was an unscientific term, such as a man of his education should be ashamed to use even in the silence o_is thoughts. Lost none the less in the inconsiderate crowd and feelin_imself neither in his own country nor in that to which he was in a manne_ccredited, he was reduced to his mere personality; so that during the hour, to save his importance, he cultivated such ground as lay in sight for _udgement of this delay to which the German steamer was subjected in Englis_aters. Mightn't it be proved, facts, figures and documents—or at leas_atch—in hand, considerably greater than the occasion demanded?
Count Vogelstein was still young enough in diplomacy to think it necessary t_ave opinions. He had a good many indeed which had been formed withou_ifficulty; they had been received ready-made from a line of ancestors wh_new what they liked. This was of course—and under pressure, being candid, h_ould have admitted it —an unscientific way of furnishing one's mind. Ou_oung man was a stiff conservative, a Junker of Junkers; he thought moder_emocracy a temporary phase and expected to find many arguments against it i_he great Republic. In regard to these things it was a pleasure to him to fee_hat, with his complete training, he had been taught thoroughly to appreciat_he nature of evidence. The ship was heavily laden with German emigrants, whose mission in the United States differed considerably from Count Otto's.
They hung over the bulwarks, densely grouped; they leaned forward on thei_lbows for hours, their shoulders kept on a level with their ears; the men i_urred caps, smoking long-bowled pipes, the women with babies hidden i_emarkably ugly shawls. Some were yellow Germans and some were black, and al_ooked greasy and matted with the sea-damp. They were destined to swell stil_urther the huge current of the Western democracy; and Count Vogelstei_oubtless said to himself that they wouldn't improve its quality. Thei_umbers, however, were striking, and I know not what he thought of the natur_f this particular evidence.
The passengers who came on board at Southampton were not of the greasy class; they were for the most part American families who had been spending th_ummer, or a longer period, in Europe. They had a great deal of luggage, innumerable bags and rugs and hampers and sea-chairs, and were compose_argely of ladies of various ages, a little pale with anticipation, wrappe_lso in striped shawls, though in prettier ones than the nursing mothers o_he steerage, and crowned with very high hats and feathers. They darted to an_ro across the gangway, looking for each other and for their scattere_arcels; they separated and reunited, they exclaimed and declared, they eye_ith dismay the occupants of the forward quarter, who seemed numerous enoug_o sink the vessel, and their voices sounded faint and far as they rose t_ogelstein's ear over the latter's great tarred sides. He noticed that in th_ew contingent there were many young girls, and he remembered what a lady i_resden had once said to him—that America was the country of the Madchen. H_ondered whether he should like that, and reflected that it would be an aspec_o study, like everything else. He had known in Dresden an American family i_hich there were three daughters who used to skate with the officers, and som_f the ladies now coming on board struck him as of that same habit, excep_hat in the Dresden days feathers weren't worn quite so high.
At last the ship began to creak and slowly bridge, and the delay a_outhampton came to an end. The gangway was removed and the vessel indulged i_he awkward evolutions that were to detach her from the land. Count Vogelstei_ad finished his cigar, and he spent a long time in walking up and down th_pper deck. The charming English coast passed before him, and he felt this t_e the last of the old world. The American coast also might be pretty—h_ardly knew what one would expect of an American coast; but he was sure i_ould be different. Differences, however, were notoriously half the charm o_ravel, and perhaps even most when they couldn't be expressed in figures, numbers, diagrams or the other merely useful symbols. As yet indeed there wer_ery few among the objects presented to sight on the steamer. Most of hi_ellow-passengers appeared of one and the same persuasion, and that persuasio_he least to be mistaken. They were Jews and commercial to a man. And by thi_ime they had lighted their cigars and put on all manner of seafaring caps, some of them with big ear-lappets which somehow had the effect of bringing ou_heir peculiar facial type. At last the new voyagers began to emerge fro_elow and to look about them, vaguely, with that suspicious expression of fac_lways to be noted in the newly embarked and which, as directed to th_eceding land, resembles that of a person who begins to perceive himself th_ictim of a trick. Earth and ocean, in such glances, are made the subject of _weeping objection, and many travellers, in the general plight, have an air a_nce duped and superior, which seems to say that they could easily go ashor_f they would.
It still wanted two hours of dinner, and by the time Vogelstein's long leg_ad measured three or four miles on the deck he was ready to settle himself i_is sea-chair and draw from his pocket a Tauchnitz novel by an American autho_hose pages, he had been assured, would help to prepare him for some of th_ddities. On the back of his chair his name was painted in rather larg_etters, this being a precaution taken at the recommendation of a friend wh_ad told him that on the American steamers the passengers—especially th_adies—thought nothing of pilfering one's little comforts. His friend had eve_inted at the correct reproduction of his coronet. This marked man of th_orld had added that the Americans are greatly impressed by a coronet. I kno_ot whether it was scepticism or modesty, but Count Vogelstein had omitte_very pictured plea for his rank; there were others of which he might hav_ade use. The precious piece of furniture which on the Atlantic voyage i_rusted never to flinch among universal concussions was emblazoned simply wit_is title and name. It happened, however, that the blazonry was huge; the bac_f the chair was covered with enormous German characters. This time there ca_e no doubt: it was modesty that caused the secretary of legation, in placin_imself, to turn this portion of his seat outward, away from the eyes of hi_ompanions—to present it to the balustrade of the deck. The ship was passin_he Needles—the beautiful uttermost point of the Isle of Wight. Certain tal_hite cones of rock rose out of the purple sea; they flushed in the afternoo_ight and their vague rosiness gave them a human expression in face of th_old expanse toward which the prow was turned; they seemed to say farewell, t_e the last note of a peopled world. Vogelstein saw them very comfortably fro_is place and after a while turned his eyes to the other quarter, where th_lements of air and water managed to make between them so comparatively poo_n opposition. Even his American novelist was more amusing than that, and h_repared to return to this author. In the great curve which it described, however, his glance was arrested by the figure of a young lady who had jus_scended to the deck and who paused at the mouth of the companionway.
This was not in itself an extraordinary phenomenon; but what attracte_ogelstein's attention was the fact that the young person appeared to hav_ixed her eyes on him. She was slim, brightly dressed, rather pretty; Vogelstein remembered in a moment that he had noticed her among the people o_he wharf at Southampton. She was soon aware he had observed her; whereupo_he began to move along the deck with a step that seemed to indicate a purpos_f approaching him. Vogelstein had time to wonder whether she could be one o_he girls he had known at Dresden; but he presently reflected that they woul_ow be much older than that. It was true they were apt to advance, like thi_ne, straight upon their victim. Yet the present specimen was no longe_ooking at him, and though she passed near him it was now tolerably clear sh_ad come above but to take a general survey. She was a quick handsom_ompetent girl, and she simply wanted to see what one could think of the ship, of the weather, of the appearance of England, from such a position as that; possibly even of one's fellow-passengers. She satisfied herself promptly o_hese points, and then she looked about, while she walked, as if in kee_earch of a missing object; so that Vogelstein finally arrived at a convictio_f her real motive. She passed near him again and this time almost stopped, her eyes bent upon him attentively. He thought her conduct remarkable eve_fter he had gathered that it was not at his face, with its yellow moustache, she was looking, but at the chair on which he was seated. Then those words o_is friend came back to him—the speech about the tendency of the people, especially of the ladies, on the American steamers to take to themselves one'_ittle belongings. Especially the ladies, he might well say; for here was on_ho apparently wished to pull from under him the very chair he was sitting on.
He was afraid she would ask him for it, so he pretended to read, systematically avoiding her eye. He was conscious she hovered near him, an_as moreover curious to see what she would do. It seemed to him strange tha_uch a nice-looking girl—for her appearance was really charming—shoul_ndeavour by arts so flagrant to work upon the quiet dignity of a secretary o_egation. At last it stood out that she was trying to look round a corner, a_t were—trying to see what was written on the back of his chair. "She wants t_ind out my name; she wants to see who I am!" This reflexion passed throug_is mind and caused him to raise his eyes. They rested on her own— which fo_n appreciable moment she didn't withdraw. The latter were brilliant an_xpressive, and surmounted a delicate aquiline nose, which, though pretty, wa_erhaps just a trifle too hawk-like. It was the oddest coincidence in th_orld; the story Vogelstein had taken up treated of a flighty forward littl_merican girl who plants herself in front of a young man in the garden of a_otel. Wasn't the conduct of this young lady a testimony to the truthfulnes_f the tale, and wasn't Vogelstein himself in the position of the young man i_he garden? That young man—though with more, in such connexions in general, t_o upon—ended by addressing himself to his aggressor, as she might be called, and after a very short hesitation Vogelstein followed his example. "If sh_ants to know who I am she's welcome," he said to himself; and he got out o_he chair, seized it by the back and, turning it round, exhibited th_uperscription to the girl. She coloured slightly, but smiled and read hi_ame, while Vogelstein raised his hat.
"I'm much obliged to you. That's all right," she remarked as if the discover_ad made her very happy.
It affected him indeed as all right that he should be Count Otto Vogelstein; this appeared even rather a flippant mode of disposing of the fact. By way o_ejoinder he asked her if she desired of him the surrender of his seat.
"I'm much obliged to you; of course not. I thought you had one of our chairs, and I didn't like to ask you. It looks exactly like one of ours; not so muc_ow as when you sit in it. Please sit down again. I don't want to trouble you.
We've lost one of ours, and I've been looking for it everywhere. They look s_uch alike; you can't tell till you see the back. Of course I see there wil_e no mistake about yours," the young lady went on with a smile of which th_erenity matched her other abundance. "But we've got such a small name—you ca_carcely see it," she added with the same friendly intention. "Our name's jus_ay—you mightn't think it WAS a name, might you? if we didn't make the most o_t. If you see that on anything, I'd be so obliged if you'd tell me. It isn'_or myself, it's for my mother; she's so dependent on her chair, and that on_'m looking for pulls out so beautifully. Now that you sit down again and hid_he lower part it does look just like ours. Well, it must be somewhere. Yo_ust excuse me; I wouldn't disturb you."
This was a long and even confidential speech for a young woman, presumabl_nmarried, to make to a perfect stranger; but Miss Day acquitted herself of i_ith perfect simplicity and self-possession. She held up her head and steppe_way, and Vogelstein could see that the foot she pressed upon the clean smoot_eck was slender and shapely. He watched her disappear through the trap b_hich she had ascended, and he felt more than ever like the young man in hi_merican tale. The girl in the present case was older and not so pretty, as h_ould easily judge, for the image of her smiling eyes and speaking lips stil_overed before him. He went back to his book with the feeling that it woul_ive him some information about her. This was rather illogical, but i_ndicated a certain amount of curiosity on the part of Count Vogelstein. Th_irl in the book had a mother, it appeared, and so had this young lady; th_ormer had also a brother, and he now remembered that he had noticed a youn_an on the wharf—a young man in a high hat and a white overcoat—who seeme_nited to Miss Day by this natural tie. And there was some one else too, as h_radually recollected, an older man, also in a high hat, but in a blac_vercoat—in black altogether—who completed the group and who was presumabl_he head of the family. These reflexions would indicate that Count Vogelstei_ead his volume of Tauchnitz rather interruptedly. Moreover they represente_ut the loosest economy of consciousness; for wasn't he to be afloat in a_blong box for ten days with such people, and could it be doubted he shoul_ee at least enough of them?
It may as well be written without delay that he saw a great deal of them. _ave sketched in some detail the conditions in which he made the acquaintanc_f Miss Day, because the event had a certain importance for this fair squar_euton; but I must pass briefly over the incidents that immediately followe_t. He wondered what it was open to him, after such an introduction, to do i_elation to her, and he determined he would push through his American tale an_iscover what the hero did. But he satisfied himself in a very short time tha_iss Day had nothing in common with the heroine of that work save certai_igns of habitat and climate—and save, further, the fact that the male se_asn't terrible to her. The local stamp sharply, as he gathered, impresse_pon her he estimated indeed rather in a borrowed than in a natural light, fo_f she was native to a small town in the interior of the American continen_ne of their fellow-passengers, a lady from New York with whom he had a goo_eal of conversation, pronounced her "atrociously" provincial. How the lad_rrived at this certitude didn't appear, for Vogelstein observed that she hel_o communication with the girl. It was true she gave it the support of he_aying down that certain Americans could tell immediately who other American_ere, leaving him to judge whether or no she herself belonged to the critica_r only to the criticised half of the nation. Mrs. Dangerfield was a handsom_onfidential insinuating woman, with whom Vogelstein felt his talk take a ver_ide range indeed. She convinced him rather effectually that even in a grea_emocracy there are human differences, and that American life was full o_ocial distinctions, of delicate shades, which foreigners often lack th_ntelligence to perceive. Did he suppose every one knew every one else in th_iggest country in the world, and that one wasn't as free to choose one'_ompany there as in the most monarchical and most exclusive societies? Sh_aughed such delusions to scorn as Vogelstein tucked her beautiful furre_overlet—they reclined together a great deal in their elongated chairs—wel_ver her feet. How free an American lady was to choose her company sh_bundantly proved by not knowing any one on the steamer but Count Otto.
He could see for himself that Mr. and Mrs. Day had not at all her grand air.
They were fat plain serious people who sat side by side on the deck for hour_nd looked straight before them. Mrs. Day had a white face, large cheeks an_mall eyes: her forehead was surrounded with a multitude of little tight blac_urls; her lips moved as if she had always a lozenge in her mouth. She wor_ntwined about her head an article which Mrs. Dangerfield spoke of as a
"nuby," a knitted pink scarf concealing her hair, encircling her neck an_aving among its convolutions a hole for her perfectly expressionless face.
Her hands were folded on her stomach, and in her still, swathed figure he_ittle bead-like eyes, which occasionally changed their direction, alon_epresented life. Her husband had a stiff grey beard on his chin and a bar_pacious upper lip, to which constant shaving had imparted a hard glaze. Hi_yebrows were thick and his nostrils wide, and when he was uncovered, in th_aloon, it was visible that his grizzled hair was dense and perpendicular. H_ight have looked rather grim and truculent hadn't it been for the mil_amiliar accommodating gaze with which his large light-coloured pupils—th_eisurely eyes of a silent man—appeared to consider surrounding objects. H_as evidently more friendly than fierce, but he was more diffident tha_riendly. He liked to have you in sight, but wouldn't have pretended t_nderstand you much or to classify you, and would have been sorry it shoul_ut you under an obligation. He and his wife spoke sometimes, but seldo_alked, and there was something vague and patient in them, as if they ha_ecome victims of a wrought spell. The spell however was of no sinister cast; it was the fascination of prosperity, the confidence of security, whic_ometimes makes people arrogant, but which had had such a different effect o_his simple satisfied pair, in whom further development of every kind appeare_o have been happily arrested.
Mrs. Dangerfield made it known to Count Otto that every morning afte_reakfast, the hour at which he wrote his journal in his cabin, the old coupl_ere guided upstairs and installed in their customary corner by Pandora. Thi_he had learned to be the name of their elder daughter, and she was immensel_mused by her discovery. "Pandora"—that was in the highest degree typical; i_laced them in the social scale if other evidence had been wanting; you coul_ell that a girl was from the interior, the mysterious interior about whic_ogelstein's imagination was now quite excited, when she had such a name a_hat. This young lady managed the whole family, even a little the smal_eflounced sister, who, with bold pretty innocent eyes, a torrent of fai_ilky hair, a crimson fez, such as is worn by male Turks, very much askew o_op of it, and a way of galloping and straddling about the ship in any compan_he could pick up—she had long thin legs, very short skirts and stockings o_very tint— was going home, in elegant French clothes, to resume a_nterrupted education. Pandora overlooked and directed her relatives; Vogelstein could see this for himself, could see she was very active an_ecided, that she had in a high degree the sentiment of responsibility, settling on the spot most of the questions that could come up for a famil_rom the interior.
The voyage was remarkably fine, and day after day it was possible to sit ther_nder the salt sky and feel one's self rounding the great curves of the globe.
The long deck made a white spot in the sharp black circle of the ocean and i_he intense sea-light, while the shadow of the smoke-streamers trembled on th_amiliar floor, the shoes of fellow-passengers, distinctive now, and in som_ases irritating, passed and repassed, accompanied, in the air so tremendously
"open," that rendered all voices weak and most remarks rather flat, b_ragments of opinion on the run of the ship. Vogelstein by this time ha_inished his little American story and now definitely judged that Pandora Da_as not at all like the heroine. She was of quite another type; much mor_erious and strenuous, and not at all keen, as he had supposed, about makin_he acquaintance of gentlemen. Her speaking to him that first afternoon ha_een, he was bound to believe, an incident without importance for herself; i_pite of her having followed it up the next day by the remark, thrown at hi_s she passed, with a smile that was almost fraternal: "It's all right, sir!
I've found that old chair." After this she hadn't spoken to him again and ha_carcely looked at him. She read a great deal, and almost always French books, in fresh yellow paper; not the lighter forms of that literature, but a volum_f Sainte-Beuve, of Renan or at the most, in the way of dissipation, of Alfre_e Musset. She took frequent exercise and almost always walked alone, apparently not having made many friends on the ship and being without th_esource of her parents, who, as has been related, never budged out of th_osy corner in which she planted them for the day.
Her brother was always in the smoking-room, where Vogelstein observed him, i_ery tight clothes, his neck encircled with a collar like a palisade. He had _harp little face, which was not disagreeable; he smoked enormous cigars an_egan his drinking early in the day: but his appearance gave no sign of thes_xcesses. As regards euchre and poker and the other distractions of the plac_e was guilty of none. He evidently understood such games in perfection, fo_e used to watch the players, and even at moments impartially advise them; bu_ogelstein never saw the cards in his hand. He was referred to as regard_isputed points, and his opinion carried the day. He took little part in th_onversation, usually much relaxed, that prevailed in the smoking-room, bu_rom time to time he made, in his soft flat youthful voice, a remark whic_very one paused to listen to and which was greeted with roars of laughter.
Vogelstein, well as he knew English, could rarely catch the joke; but he coul_ee at least that these must be choice specimens of that American humou_dmired and practised by a whole continent and yet to be rendered accessibl_o a trained diplomatist, clearly, but by some special and incalculabl_evelation. The young man, in his way, was very remarkable, for, as Vogelstei_eard some one say once after the laughter had subsided, he was only nineteen.
If his sister didn't resemble the dreadful little girl in the tale alread_entioned, there was for Vogelstein at least an analogy between young Mr. Da_nd a certain small brother—a candy-loving Madison, Hamilton or Jefferson—wh_as, in the Tauchnitz volume, attributed to that unfortunate maid. This wa_hat the little Madison would have grown up to at nineteen, and th_mprovement was greater than might have been expected.
The days were long, but the voyage was short, and it had almost come to an en_efore Count Otto yielded to an attraction peculiar in its nature and finall_rresistible, and, in spite of Mrs. Dangerfield's emphatic warning, sough_ccasion for a little continuous talk with Miss Pandora. To mention that thi_mpulse took effect without mentioning sundry other of his current impression_ith which it had nothing to do is perhaps to violate proportion and give _alse idea; but to pass it by would be still more unjust. The Germans, as w_now, are a transcendental people, and there was at last an irresistibl_ppeal for Vogelstein in this quick bright silent girl who could smile an_urn vocal in an instant, who imparted a rare originality to the filia_haracter, and whose profile was delicate as she bent it over a volume whic_he cut as she read, or presented it in musing attitudes, at the side of th_hip, to the horizon they had left behind. But he felt it to be a pity, a_egards a possible acquaintance with her, that her parents should be heav_ittle burghers, that her brother should not correspond to his conception of _oung man of the upper class, and that her sister should be a Daisy Miller e_erbe. Repeatedly admonished by Mrs. Dangerfield, the young diplomatist wa_oubly careful as to the relations he might form at the beginning of hi_ojourn in the United States. That lady reminded him, and he had himself mad_he observation in other capitals, that the first year, and even the second, is the time for prudence. One was ignorant of proportions and values; one wa_xposed to mistakes and thankful for attention, and one might give one's sel_way to people who would afterwards be as a millstone round one's neck: Mrs.
Dangerfield struck and sustained that note, which resounded in the young man'_magination. She assured him that if he didn't "look out" he would b_ommitting himself to some American girl with an impossible family. I_merica, when one committed one's self, there was nothing to do but march t_he altar, and what should he say for instance to finding himself a nea_elation of Mr. and Mrs. P. W. Day?—since such were the initials inscribed o_he back of the two chairs of that couple. Count Otto felt the peril, for h_ould immediately think of a dozen men he knew who had married American girls.
There appeared now to be a constant danger of marrying the American girl; i_as something one had to reckon with, like the railway, the telegraph, th_iscovery of dynamite, the Chassepot rifle, the Socialistic spirit: it was on_f the complications of modern life.
It would doubtless be too much to say that he feared being carried away by _assion for a young woman who was not strikingly beautiful and with whom h_ad talked, in all, but ten minutes. But, as we recognise, he went so far a_o wish that the human belongings of a person whose high spirit appeared t_ave no taint either of fastness, as they said in England, or of subversiv_pinion, and whose mouth had charming lines, should not be a little mor_istinguished. There was an effect of drollery in her behaviour to thes_ubjects of her zeal, whom she seemed to regard as a care, but not as a_nterest; it was as if they had been entrusted to her honour and she ha_ngaged to convey them safe to a certain point; she was detached an_nadvertent, and then suddenly remembered, repented and came back to tuck the_nto their blankets, to alter the position of her mother's umbrella, to tel_hem something about the run of the ship. These little offices were usuall_erformed deftly, rapidly, with the minimum of words, and when their daughte_rew near them Mr. and Mrs. Day closed their eyes after the fashion of a pai_f household dogs who expect to be scratched.
One morning she brought up the Captain of the ship to present to them; sh_ppeared to have a private and independent acquaintance with this officer, an_he introduction to her parents had the air of a sudden happy thought. I_asn't so much an introduction as an exhibition, as if she were saying to him:
"This is what they look like; see how comfortable I make them. Aren't the_ather queer and rather dear little people? But they leave me perfectly free.
Oh I can assure you of that. Besides, you must see it for yourself." Mr. an_rs. Day looked up at the high functionary who thus unbent to them with ver_ittle change of countenance; then looked at each other in the same way. H_aluted, he inclined himself a moment; but Pandora shook her head, she seeme_o be answering for them; she made little gestures as if in explanation to th_ood Captain of some of their peculiarities, as for instance that he needn'_xpect them to speak. They closed their eyes at last; she appeared to have _ind of mesmeric influence on them, and Miss Day walked away with th_mportant friend, who treated her with evident consideration, bowing very low, for all his importance, when the two presently after separated. Vogelstei_ould see she was capable of making an impression; and the moral of our littl_atter is that in spite of Mrs. Dangerfield, in spite of the resolutions o_is prudence, in spite of the limits of such acquaintance as he ha_omentarily made with her, in spite of Mr. and Mrs. Day and the young man i_he smoking-room, she had fixed his attention.
It was in the course of the evening after the scene with the Captain that h_oined her, awkwardly, abruptly, irresistibly, on the deck, where she wa_acing to and fro alone, the hour being auspiciously mild and the star_emarkably fine. There were scattered talkers and smokers and couples, unrecognisable, that moved quickly through the gloom. The vessel dipped wit_ong regular pulsations; vague and spectral under the low stars, its swayin_innacles spotted here and there with lights, it seemed to rush through th_arkness faster than by day. Count Otto had come up to walk, and as the gir_rushed past him he distinguished Pandora's face—with Mrs. Dangerfield h_lways spoke of her as Pandora—under the veil worn to protect it from the sea- damp. He stopped, turned, hurried after her, threw away his cigar—then aske_er if she would do him the honour to accept his arm. She declined his arm bu_ccepted his company, and he allowed her to enjoy it for an hour. They had _reat deal of talk, and he was to remember afterwards some of the things sh_ad said. There was now a certainty of the ship's getting into dock the nex_orning but one, and this prospect afforded an obvious topic. Some of Mis_ay's expressions struck him as singular, but of course, as he was aware, hi_nowledge of English was not nice enough to give him a perfect measure.
"I'm not in a hurry to arrive; I'm very happy here," she said. "I'm afraid _hall have such a time putting my people through."
"Putting them through?"
"Through the Custom-House. We've made so many purchases. Well, I've written t_ friend to come down, and perhaps he can help us. He's very well acquainte_ith the head. Once I'm chalked I don't care. I feel like a kind of blackboar_y this time anyway. We found them awful in Germany."
Count Otto wondered if the friend she had written to were her lover and i_hey had plighted their troth, especially when she alluded to him again as
"that gentleman who's coming down." He asked her about her travels, he_mpressions, whether she had been long in Europe and what she liked best, an_he put it to him that they had gone abroad, she and her family, for a littl_resh experience. Though he found her very intelligent he suspected she gav_his as a reason because he was a German and she had heard the Germans wer_ich in culture. He wondered what form of culture Mr. and Mrs. Day had brough_ack from Italy, Greece and Palestine—they had travelled for two years an_een everywhere—especially when their daughter said: "I wanted father an_other to see the best things. I kept them three hours on the Acropolis. _uess they won't forget that!" Perhaps it was of Phidias and Pericles the_ere thinking, Vogelstein reflected, as they sat ruminating in their rugs.
Pandora remarked also that she wanted to show her little sister everythin_hile she was comparatively unformed ("comparatively!" he mutely gasped); remarkable sights made so much more impression when the mind was fresh: sh_ad read something of that sort somewhere in Goethe. She had wanted to com_erself when she was her sister's age; but her father was in business then an_hey couldn't leave Utica. The young man thought of the little sister friskin_ver the Parthenon and the Mount of Olives and sharing for two years, th_ears of the school-room, this extraordinary pilgrimage of her parents; h_ondered whether Goethe's dictum had been justified in this case. He aske_andora if Utica were the seat of her family, if it were an important o_ypical place, if it would be an interesting city for him, as a stranger, t_ee. His companion replied frankly that this was a big question, but adde_hat all the same she would ask him to "come and visit us at our home" if i_eren't that they should probably soon leave it.
"Ah, you're going to live elsewhere?" Vogelstein asked, as if that fact to_ould be typical.
"Well, I'm working for New York. I flatter myself I've loosened them whil_e've been away," the girl went on. "They won't find in Utica the same charm; that was my idea. I want a big place, and of course Utica—!" She broke off a_efore a complex statement.
"I suppose Utica is inferior—?" Vogelstein seemed to see his way to suggest.
"Well no, I guess I can't have you call Utica inferior. It isn'_upreme—that's what's the matter with it, and I hate anything middling," sai_andora Day. She gave a light dry laugh, tossing back her head a little as sh_ade this declaration. And looking at her askance in the dusk, as she trod th_eck that vaguely swayed, he recognised something in her air and port tha_atched such a pronouncement.
"What's her social position?" he inquired of Mrs. Dangerfield the next day. "_an't make it out at all—it's so contradictory. She strikes me as having muc_ultivation and much spirit. Her appearance, too, is very neat. Yet he_arents are complete little burghers. That's easily seen."
"Oh, social position," and Mrs. Dangerfield nodded two or three time_ortentously. "What big expressions you use! Do you think everybody in th_orld has a social position? That's reserved for an infinitely small majorit_f mankind. You can't have a social position at Utica any more than you ca_ave an opera-box. Pandora hasn't got one; where, if you please, should sh_ave got it? Poor girl, it isn't fair of you to make her the subject of suc_uestions as that."
"Well," said Vogelstein, "if she's of the lower class it seems to m_ery—very—" And he paused a moment, as he often paused in speaking English, looking for his word.
"Very what, dear Count?"
"Very significant, very representative."
"Oh dear, she isn't of the lower class," Mrs. Dangerfield returned with a_rritated sense of wasted wisdom. She liked to explain her country, but tha_omehow always required two persons.
"What is she then?"
"Well, I'm bound to admit that since I was at home last she's a novelty. _irl like that with such people—it IS a new type."
"I like novelties"—and Count Otto smiled with an air of considerabl_esolution. He couldn't however be satisfied with a demonstration that onl_egged the question; and when they disembarked in New York he felt, even ami_he confusion of the wharf and the heaps of disembowelled baggage, a certai_cuteness of regret at the idea that Pandora and her family were about t_anish into the unknown. He had a consolation however: it was apparent tha_or some reason or other—illness or absence from town—the gentleman to who_he had written had not, as she said, come down. Vogelstein was glad—h_ouldn't have told you why—that this sympathetic person had failed her; eve_hough without him Pandora had to engage single-handed with the United State_ustom-House. Our young man's first impression of the Western world wa_eceived on the landing-place of the German steamers at Jersey City—a hug_ooden shed covering a wooden wharf which resounded under the feet, an expans_alisaded with rough-hewn piles that leaned this way and that, and bestrew_ith masses of heterogeneous luggage. At one end; toward the town, was a ro_f tall painted palings, behind which he could distinguish a press of hackney- coachmen, who brandished their whips and awaited their victims, while thei_oices rose, incessant, with a sharp strange sound, a challenge at once fierc_nd familiar. The whole place, behind the fence, appeared to bristle an_esound. Out there was America, Count Otto said to himself, and he looke_oward it with a sense that he should have to muster resolution. On the whar_eople were rushing about amid their trunks, pulling their things together, trying to unite their scattered parcels. They were heated and angry, or els_uite bewildered and discouraged. The few that had succeeded in collectin_heir battered boxes had an air of flushed indifference to the efforts o_heir neighbours, not even looking at people with whom they had been fondl_ntimate on the steamer. A detachment of the officers of the Customs was i_ttendance, and energetic passengers were engaged in attempts to drag the_oward their luggage or to drag heavy pieces toward them. These functionarie_ere good-natured and taciturn, except when occasionally they remarked to _assenger whose open trunk stared up at them, eloquent, imploring, that the_ere afraid the voyage had been "rather glassy." They had a friendly leisurel_peculative way of discharging their duty, and if they perceived a victim'_ame written on the portmanteau they addressed him by it in a tone of ol_cquaintance. Vogelstein found however that if they were familiar they weren'_ndiscreet. He had heard that in America all public functionaries were th_ame, that there wasn't a different tenue, as they said in France, fo_ifferent positions, and he wondered whether at Washington the President an_inisters, whom he expected to see—to HAVE to see—a good deal of, would b_ike that.
He was diverted from these speculations by the sight of Mr. and Mrs. Da_eated side by side upon a trunk and encompassed apparently by th_ccumulations of their tour. Their faces expressed more consciousness o_urrounding objects than he had hitherto recognised, and there was an air o_lacid expansion in the mysterious couple which suggested that thi_onsciousness was agreeable. Mr. and Mrs. Day were, as they would have said, real glad to get back. At a little distance, on the edge of the dock, ou_bserver remarked their son, who had found a place where, between the sides o_wo big ships, he could see the ferry-boats pass; the large pyramidal low- laden ferry-boats of American waters. He stood there, patient and considering, with his small neat foot on a coil of rope, his back to everything that ha_een disembarked, his neck elongated in its polished cylinder, while th_ragrance of his big cigar mingled with the odour of the rotting piles, an_is little sister, beside him, hugged a huge post and tried to see how far sh_ould crane over the water without falling in. Vogelstein's servant was off i_earch of an examiner; Count Otto himself had got his things together and wa_aiting to be released, fully expecting that for a person of his importanc_he ceremony would be brief.
Before it began he said a word to young Mr. Day, raising his hat at the sam_ime to the little girl, whom he had not yet greeted and who dodged his salut_y swinging herself boldly outward to the dangerous side of the pier. She wa_ndeed still unformed, but was evidently as light as a feather.
"I see you're kept waiting like me. It's very tiresome," Count Otto said.
The young American answered without looking behind him. "As soon as we'r_tarted we'll go all right. My sister has written to a gentleman to com_own."
"I've looked for Miss Day to bid her good-bye," Vogelstein went on; "but _on't see her."
"I guess she has gone to meet that gentleman; he's a great friend of hers."
"I guess he's her lover!" the little girl broke out. "She was always writin_o him in Europe."
Her brother puffed his cigar in silence a moment. "That was only for this.
I'll tell on you, sis," he presently added.
But the younger Miss Day gave no heed to his menace; she addressed hersel_nly, though with all freedom, to Vogelstein. "This is New York; I like i_etter than Utica."
He had no time to reply, for his servant had arrived with one of th_ispensers of fortune; but as he turned away he wondered, in the light of th_hild's preference, about the towns of the interior. He was naturally exemp_rom the common doom. The officer who took him in hand, and who had a larg_traw hat and a diamond breastpin, was quite a man of the world, and in repl_o the Count's formal declarations only said, "Well, I guess it's all right; _uess I'll just pass you," distributing chalk-marks as if they had been s_any love-pats. The servant had done some superfluous unlocking an_nbuckling, and while he closed the pieces the officer stood there wiping hi_orehead and conversing with Vogelstein. "First visit to our country, sir?—quite alone—no ladies? Of course the ladies are what we're most after."
It was in this manner he expressed himself, while the young diplomatis_ondered what he was waiting for and whether he ought to slip something int_is palm. But this representative of order left our friend only a moment i_uspense; he presently turned away with the remark quite paternally uttered, that he hoped the Count would make quite a stay; upon which the young man sa_ow wrong he should have been to offer a tip. It was simply the America_anner, which had a finish of its own after all. Vogelstein's servant ha_ecured a porter with a truck, and he was about to leave the place when he sa_andora Day dart out of the crowd and address herself with much eagerness t_he functionary who had just liberated him. She had an open letter in her han_hich she gave him to read and over which he cast his eyes, thoughtfull_troking his beard. Then she led him away to where her parents sat on thei_uggage. Count Otto sent off his servant with the porter and followed Pandora, to whom he really wished to address a word of farewell. The last thing the_ad said to each other on the ship was that they should meet again on shore.
It seemed improbable however that the meeting would occur anywhere but jus_ere on the dock; inasmuch as Pandora was decidedly not in society, wher_ogelstein would be of course, and as, if Utica—he had her sharp littl_ister's word for it—was worse than what was about him there, he'd be hange_f he'd go to Utica. He overtook Pandora quickly; she was in the act o_ntroducing the representative of order to her parents, quite in the sam_anner in which she had introduced the Captain of the ship. Mr. and Mrs. Da_ot up and shook hands with him and they evidently all prepared to have _ittle talk. "I should like to introduce you to my brother and sister," h_eard the girl say, and he saw her look about for these appendages. He caugh_er eye as she did so, and advanced with his hand outstretched, reflecting th_hile that evidently the Americans, whom he had always heard described a_ilent and practical, rejoiced to extravagance in the social graces. The_awdled and chattered like so many Neapolitans.
"Good-bye, Count Vogelstein," said Pandora, who was a little flushed with he_arious exertions but didn't look the worse for it. "I hope you'll have _plendid time and appreciate our country."
"I hope you'll get through all right," Vogelstein answered, smiling an_eeling himself already more idiomatic.
"That gentleman's sick that I wrote to," she rejoined; "isn't it too bad? Bu_e sent me down a letter to a friend of his—one of the examiners—and I gues_e won't have any trouble. Mr. Lansing, let me make you acquainted with Coun_ogelstein," she went on, presenting to her fellow-passenger the wearer of th_traw hat and the breastpin, who shook hands with the young German as if h_ad never seen him before. Vogelstein's heart rose for an instant to hi_hroat; he thanked his stars he hadn't offered a tip to the friend of _entleman who had often been mentioned to him and who had also been describe_y a member of Pandora's family as Pandora's lover.
"It's a case of ladies this time," Mr. Lansing remarked to him with a smil_hich seemed to confess surreptitiously, and as if neither party could b_ager, to recognition.
"Well, Mr. Bellamy says you'll do anything for HIM," Pandora said, smilin_ery sweetly at Mr. Lansing. "We haven't got much; we've been gone only tw_ears."
Mr. Lansing scratched his head a little behind, with a movement that sent hi_traw hat forward in the direction of his nose. "I don't know as I'd d_nything for him that I wouldn't do for you," he responded with an equa_eniality. "I guess you'd better open that one"—and he gave a littl_ffectionate kick to one of the trunks.
"Oh mother, isn't he lovely? It's only your sea-things," Pandora cried, stooping over the coffer with the key in her hand.
"I don't know as I like showing them," Mrs. Day modestly murmured.
Vogelstein made his German salutation to the company in general, and t_andora he offered an audible good-bye, which she returned in a brigh_riendly voice, but without looking round as she fumbled at the lock of he_runk.
"We'll try another, if you like," said Mr. Lansing good-humouredly.
"Oh no it has got to be this one! Good-bye, Count Vogelstein. I hope you'l_udge us correctly!"
The young man went his way and passed the barrier of the dock. Here he was me_y his English valet with a face of consternation which led him to ask if _ab weren't forthcoming.
"They call 'em 'acks 'ere, sir," said the man, "and they're beyond everything.
He wants thirty shillings to take you to the inn."
Vogelstein hesitated a moment. "Couldn't you find a German?"
"By the way he talks he IS a German said the man; and in a moment Count Ott_egan his career in America by discussing the tariff of hackney-coaches in th_anguage of the fatherland.