The Magic Mountain Hysterica Passio

WITH the swift-changing years, a spirit began to walk in House Berghof: a spirit of immediate descent, or so Hans Castorp surmised, from that other demon whose baleful name we have spoken. With the facile curiosity of inquiring youth on its travels, he had studied this new demon, yes, had even discovered in himself an alarming aptitude, in common with the rest of the world up here, to pay him extensive homage. This new evil genius had, like the other, always been present, as it were, in the germ, but now it began to spread itself; Hans Castorp had by nature no great predilection for becoming its slave; yet with something like horror he observed that even he, when he let himself go ever so little, fell victim to a contagion so general that scarce anyone in the circle escaped it.

What was this, then, that was in the air? A rising temper. Acute irritability. A nameless rancour. A universal tendency to envenomed exchange of words, to

outbursts of rage—yes, even to fisticuffs. Embittered disputes, bouts of uncontrolled shrieking, by pairs and by groups, were of daily occurrence; and the significant thing was that the bystanders, instead of being disgusted with the participants, or seeking to come between them, actually sympathized with one side or the other to the extent of being themselves involved in the quarrel. They would pale and tremble, their eyes would glitter provocatively, their mouths set with passion. They envied those actively engaged the chance, the justification for screaming; a gnawing desire to do likewise possessed mind and body, and he who could not summon strength to flee apart, was soon willy-nilly in the midst of the mêlée. The fruitless dissensions, the mutual recriminations, in the face of authorities bent on accommodation but themselves falling with alarming ease a prey to the general temptation to brawl—these become frequent occurrences in House Berghof. A patient might issue forth of the house in tolerable tranquillity and not know at all in what frame he would return. A member of the “good” Russian table, an elegant dame from the provinces, from Minsk, still young, and a light case, with only three months prescribed, betook herself one day to the village to make purchases at the French lingerie shop; fell there into a quarrel with the modiste, of such dimensions that she came back in a state of violent excitement, suffered a hemorrhage, and was thenceforth incurable. The husband was summoned, and informed that her stay up here would terminate only with her life.

Her case aptly illustrates the general mood. Albeit with some distaste, we cite others. Our readers may remember the greedy schoolboy in the round spectacles, who sat at Frau Salomon’s table and had a habit of cutting up all the food on his plate into a sort of mess, and gulping it down, now and again wiping his eyes with his serviette behind his heavy spectacle-lenses. He had sat here, still a schoolboy, or rather still a former schoolboy, all this time, gobbled and wiped, without drawing upon his person more than the most cursory attention. But now, one morning at early breakfast, out of a blue sky, he was overtaken by such a transport of disorder that half the dining-room started up at the noise coming from his quarter. He sat there all pale and shrieking, and it was at the dwarf waitress standing near him that he shrieked. “You lie,” he yelled, his voice breaking. “It’s ice-cold, this tea you have brought me is ice-cold, I tell you. Try it yourself before you lie to me again about it—it is just lukewarm wash-water, try if it isn’t, not fit for a decent person to drink! How do you dare think of bringing me ice-cold tea and setting it in front of me and actually persuading yourself that I would drink such hog-wash? I won’t drink it! I won’t!” he screamed, and began pounding with his fists on the table, till the dishes rang. “I will have hot tea—boiling hot—that is my right before God and man—boiling hot; I’d rather die on the spot than take a drop of this—you damned dwarf, you!” he fairly bellowed, and with the words appeared to fling off the last vestige of restraint and go stark mad, shaking his fist at Emerentia, literally showing her his foaming teeth. He went on, stamping, pounding, yelling “I will” and “I won’t”; while the dining-room displayed the now usual scene. There was tense and alarming participation in the schoolboy raving. Some of the guests even sprang up and glared, fists doubled, teeth clenched; others sat white and trembling, their eyes cast down. And they still glared or trembled, long after the schoolboy had spent himself, and sat in a collapse before his fresh tea, not drinking. What was all this?

Among the Berghof community was a former business man, some thirty years old. His case was long-standing, he had wandered for years from one establishment to another. This man was a confirmed anti-Semite, out of conviction and the sporting instinct. He devoted a joyous consistency to the game, and the preaching of this negative gospel was the pride and content of his life. Business man he had been, he was so no more, he was nothing more in the world, but he was still an anti-Semite. His illness was serious, he had a burdensome cough, and made a sound as though he sneezed with his lung, a short, high-pitched, uncanny sound. But he was no Jew, and that was his one positive characteristic. His name was Wiedemann, a Christian name, not a filthy Jewish. He took in a paper called the Arian Sun; and would talk in this wise: “I arrive at the A—sanatorium, in B—. When I go to sit down in my chair in the rest-hall, whom do I find on my right hand? Herr Hirsch! And whom do I find on my left? Herr Wolf! Of course, I leave,” And so on.

Wiedemann had a quick, threatening glance. It was literally as though he had a punching-ball hanging close in front of his nose, and squinted at it, seeing nothing whatever beyond. The prejudice that haunted him was grown to an itch, a ceaseless persecution-mania, which led him to smell out the vileness hidden or disguised in his neighbourhood and hold it up to scorn. Wherever he went, he suspected, he gibed, he vented his spleen; in short, his days were filled with hunting out and hounding down all his fellow-creatures who did not possess that inestimable advantage which was the only one he had.

The prevailing temper in House Berghof, which we have been indicating, aggravated Wiedemann’s complaint to an abnormal pitch. Naturally, he could not fail here to come into contact with persons suffering from the disability of which he was free; and so it came to a scene, at which Hans Castorp was present, and which will serve us as further illustration of our theme.

For there was another man. No possibility of concealing what he was, the case was clear. The man’s name was Sonnenschein, than which he could bear no filthier; and thus he became for Wiedemann the punching-ball in front of his nose, at which he squinted with his threatening glare, at which he struck, not so much to drive it away as to set it in motion that it might rasp his nerves the more.

Sonnenschein, like the other, was a business man born and bred. He too was critically ill, and illness made him sensitive. A friendly man, not at all a dull one, by nature rather playful, he hated Wiedemann for his gibes and stabs as Wiedemann hated him; and one afternoon things came to a head down in the hall, they fell on each other like beasts.

It was a horrid sight. They scuffled like small boys, but with the grimness of grown men when things have got to such a pitch. They clawed at each other’s faces, clutched throats or noses, grappled, hewed loose from each other and rolled together on the floor, spat, kicked, worried, and foamed at the mouth. The “management” came running and by main strength dragged them asunder, scratched and bitten. Herr Wiedemann, bleeding and frothing, his face brutish with rage, displayed a

phenomenon Hans Castorp had never before seen and had always supposed a figure of speech: his hair stood on end. He staggered away. Herr Sonnenschein, with one black eye, a bleeding lacuna in the curling black locks about his brow, was led into the bureau, where he sat down, buried his face in his hands and wept bitterly.

Thus Wiedemann and Sonnenschein. All those who saw the encounter trembled hours after. Let us turn from it to a real affair of honour, which by contrast with such ignominy will seem almost refreshing. This affair of honour occurred at about the same period, and, on account of the solemn formality with which it was conducted, deserved the name, even to the point of absurdity. Hans Castorp did not assist in person at the successive episodes; but was informed of its involved and dramatic course by means of certain documents, protocols and formal declarations, touching the affair, circulated not only in the house and without, not only in the village, the canton, and the country, but even abroad and in America; and presented for the consideration of persons who most certainly were not in the faintest degree interested in the circumstances.

It was a Polish affair, a “pain in the honour,” having its seat in the heart of the Polish group which had lately collected in the Berghof, a little colony, which preempted the “good” Russian table—Hans Castorp, be it said in passing, sat there no longer, having moved thence to the Kleefeld’s, then to Frau Salomon’s, finally to Fräulein Levi’s. Social relations in the Polish group were so elegant, so courtly, so polished, that one could only elevate one’s eyebrows and be prepared for anything. There was a married couple, and an unmarried young female who stood in friendly relations with one of the gentlemen; the rest were male, with such names as von Zutawski, Cieszynski, von Rosinski, Michael Lodygowski, Leo von Asarapetian, and others. Now it fell out that one of them, named Japoll, drinking champagne in the restaurant with two others of the party, made, in their presence, remarks of a certain nature about the wife of Herr von Zutawski, and about the young lady, named Kryloff, who was the intimate friend of Herr Lodygowski. And from this circumstance arose all the proceedings, acts, and formalities, which were the theme of a widely circulated composition. Hans Castorp read:

“Declaration, translated from the Polish original: On the 27th of March, 19—, M. Stanislaw von Zutawski addressed himself to MM. Dr. Anton Cieszynski and Stefan von Rosinski, with the request that they should betake themselves to M. Kasimir Japoil and in his name demand satisfaction in the usual way for the ‘calumny and detraction’ which the said M. Kasimir Japoll had been guilty of against M. Stanislaw von Zutawski’s wife, Mme. Jadwiga von Zutawska, in the presence of and in conversation with MM. Janusz Teofil Lenart and Leo von Asarapetian.

“When the above conversation, which took place at the end of November, came, indirectly, to M. von Zutawski’s knowledge, he took immediate steps to assure himself of the fact and the circumstances of the calumny and detraction. On the previous day, the 27th of March, 19—, he was able to confirm the fact of the said calumny and detraction by the mouth of an immediate witness to the conversation in which the offensive words and insinuations had been uttered. And thus M. Stanislaw von Zutawski was constrained to apply without delay to the undersigned and to authorize them to institute honourable proceedings against the said M. Kasimir Japoll.

“The undersigned make the following statement:

“1. On the basis of a protocol of the 9th of April, 19—, drawn up at the instance of one party, written at Lemberg by M. Zdzistaw Zygulski and Tadeusz Kadyi in the affair of M. Ladislaw Goduleczny versus M. Kasimir Japoll; and further, on the basis of the declaration of the court of honour of the 18th of June, 19—, drawn up in Lemberg with reference to the same affair, both which documents agree in

establishing that M. Kasimir Japoll, ‘in consequence of repeated conduct not to be reconciled with the principles of honour, cannot be regarded as a gentleman,’

“2. the undersigned, having reference to the significant conclusions to be deduced from the foregoing, assert and confirm the absolute impossibility of any longer considering M. Kasimir Japoll as capable of affording satisfaction,

“3. and the undersigned, for their own persons, consider it inadmissible, with reference to a man who stands outside the pale of honour, to act either as principals or as seconds in any affair of honour.

“With reference to this state of affairs, the undersigned inform M. Stanislaw von Zutawski that it would be fruitless to proceed against M. Kasimir Japoll according to the procedure laid down in affairs of honour; and recommend him instead to have recourse to a criminal court, in order to prevent further injury on the part of a person otherwise incapacitated from giving satisfaction.—Dated and signed: Dr. Anton Cieszynski. Stefan von Rosinski.”

And further, Hans Castorp read: “Protocol“of witnesses to the affair between M. Stanislaw von Zutawski, M. Michael Lodygowski,

“and MM. Kasimir Japoll and Janusz Teofil Lenart, in the bar of the Kurhaus in K—and on the 2d of April, 19—, between 7.30 and 7.45.

“As M. Stanislaw von Zutawski, with reference to the representations of his friends, MM. Dr. Anton Cieszynski and Stefan von Rosinski, in connexion with the occurrences of the 27th of March, 19—, had after mature consideration come to the conclusion that the taking of the judicial steps which they recommended against M. Kasimir Japoll for the calumny and detraction uttered against his wife Jadwiga would afford him no satisfaction whatever, since

“1. There was a justifiable suspicion that M. Kasimir Japoll would not appear before the court, and since, he being an Austrian subject, further proceedings would be difficult if not impossible,

“2. and since furthermore, a legal chastisement of M. Kasimir Japoll would in no wise atone for the insult by which he had sought to injure and defame the name and family of M. Stanislaw von Zutawski,

“now therefore, M. Stanislaw von Zutawski took what appeared to him the shortest, most thorough, and in view of the circumstances most appropriate course, after having indirectly ascertained that M. Kasimir Japoll purposed leaving the place on the following day,

“and, on the 2d of April, 19—, between 7.30 and 7.45 in the evening, in the presence of his wife Jadwiga and MM. Michael Lodykowski and Ignaz von Mellin, administered several boxes on the ear to M. Kasimir Japoll, who was seated in the company of M. Janusz Teofil Lenart and two unknown young women, in the

American bar of the Kurhaus, imbibing alcoholic drinks.

“Immediately thereafter, M. Michael Lodygowski boxed the ears of M. Kasimir Japoll, stating that he did so in return for the insult offered to Fräulein Kryloff and himself;

“and immediately thereafter M. Michael Lodygowski boxed the ears of M. Janusz Teofil Lenart, in return for the unqualifiable injury offered to M. and Mme. von Zutawski, and further,

“without losing a moment, M. Stanislaw von Zutawski likewise, and repeatedly, boxed the ears of M. Janusz Teofil Lenart for the calumnious defamation of his wife as well as of Mlle. Kryloff.

“MM. Kasimir Japoll and Janusz Teofil Lenart remained entirely passive during the whole of the above proceedings. Dated and signed: Michael Lodygowski, Ign. v. Meilin.”

The prevailing temper did not permit Hans Castorp to laugh, as he would otherwise surely have done, at this rapid fire of boxes on the ear. Instead, he quaked as he read. The irreproachable bearing of the one side, the contemptibleness and total lack of selfrespect of the other were both apparent in the document, which was, despite its frigid objectivity, so impressive as to move him deeply. So it was with them all. The Polish affaire d’honneur was conned far and wide, and discussed through clenched teeth. A counterblast by Herr Kasimir Japoll fell rather flat. The substance of it was that Zutawski had been perfectly well aware that he, Japoll, had been declared incapable of giving satisfaction by some conceited puppy in Lemberg, once on a time, and that his whole proceeding had been a pretence, since he knew full well it would not issue in a duel. Furthermore, the sole and only reason Zutawski had declined to institute proceedings was that all the world, himself included, was aware that his wife Jadwiga had provided him with a complete assortment of horns; as to the truth of which fact Japoll would have found nothing easier than to give evidence; and that lastly the appearance of the Kryloff before a court would have been little edifying for anybody concerned. Anyhow, it was only his own honour that had been impeached, not that of his partner in the famous conversation; von Zutawski had entrenched himself behind the fact in order not to involve himself in any danger. As for the rôle played by Herr von Asarapetian in the whole affair, he preferred not to speak of it, but for the encounter in the Kurhaus bar, he, Japoll, though ready of tongue and wit, was admittedly of very feeble strength; he was at a great physical disadvantage with Zutawski and his friends and the uncommonly powerful Zutawska; while the two young ladies who were in his and Lenart’s society were lively creatures enough, but timid as rabbits. Under the circumstances, and in order to avoid a free fight and public scandal, he had compelled Lenart, who would have put himself on the defensive, to be quiet, and to suffer in God’s name the transient social contact with MM. von Zutawski and Lodygowski, which had not hurt them at all, and which had been regarded in the light of a pleasantry by the bystanders.

Thus Japoll, for whom, of course, not much could be said. His defence did not greatly invalidate the elegant contrast of honour with pusillanimity presented by the document on the other side; the less because he had not the manifolding facilities disposed of by his opponents, and could only distribute a few typed duplicates of his reply. The protocol, on the contrary, everyone received, even the most uninterested. Naphta and Settembrini, for instance, had copies sent them, which Hans Castorp saw in their hands, and remarked, to his surprise, that they too perused them with bitter concentration. For him the ruling temper of the Berghof was too much—he was powerless to dissipate its mood by a burst of blithe and cleansing laughter, but this he had confidently expected to hear from Herr Settembrini. Alas, no, even the unclouded eye of the Freemason was dimmed by the prevailing spleen; it weighed on his spirit, stilling his mirth; it made him susceptible to the rasping provocation of the tale of the ear-boxing. Moreover he, the protagonist of Life, was suffering in spirit from the state of his health. Slowly, remorselessly, with deceptive interludes of brighter hope, it grew worse. He despised, he scorned it, and himself; but had reached the point where it obliged him, every few days, to take to his bed.

His housemate and antagonist was no better off. The organic disease which had been the cause—or must we say pretext—for the untimely end to his activities within his order, made rapid progress; even the high and thin conditions of life up here could not give it pause. Naphta too was often confined to his bed; the crack in his voice was more cracked than ever when he talked; and as his fever increased he talked more, and more malignantly, than ever. That ideal opposition to the forces of disease and death, the forced surrender of which before the superior power of abject nature gave Herr Settembrini such pain, was foreign to little Naphta. His way of taking the deterioration of his physical part was not with sorrow or aversion, but with a sort of jeering levity, an unnatural lust of combat, a mania of intellectual doubt, denial, and distraction, that was a sore irritant to the other’s melancholy, and daily embittered more the intellectual quarrel between them. Hans Castorp, of course, could only speak of those at which he was present; but he felt tolerably sure he did not miss any; that his presence, the presence of the bone of pedagogic contention, was necessary, to give rise to a disputation of any magnitude. And though he did not spare Herr Settembrini the pain of finding Naphta’s gibes worth hearing, he had to admit that these were latterly going beyond all bounds and often enough overstepping the border-line of mental sanity.

For this sufferer possessed neither the power nor the good will to rise above his illness; but rather saw all the world in its sign and image. In the presence of Herr Settembrini’s quivering resentment, who would sooner have drawn his nursling away from the room or even stopped his ears, Naphta declared that matter was so bad a material that the spirit could not be realized within it. Any effort in that direction was sheer folly; nothing could come of it but distortion and fatuity. What had been the net result of the vainglorious French Revolution—what but the capitalistic bourgeois State? A magnificent outcome, truly! And one it was hoped to improve upon,

forsooth, by making the horror universal! A world-republic! That would bring happiness, beyond a doubt. Progress? It was the cry of the patient who constantly changes his position thinking each new one will bring relief. The unconfessed but secretly quite general desire for war was another manifestation of the same condition. It would come, this war, and it would be a good thing, though the consequences of it would not be those anticipated by its authors. Naphta sneered at the security of the bourgeois State. He took occasion to animadvert upon it one day in autumn as they were walking on the main street. It came on to rain, and suddenly, as though at the word of command, all the world put up its umbrellas. Which served Naphta as a symbol of the cowardice and vulgar softness engendered by civilized life. An incident like the going-down of the Titanic was like the writing on the wall: it flung people back upon primitive conditions and fears, and thus was salutary. Afterwards, of course, came the great outcry that transportation must be safeguarded. Always the greatest outcry whenever security was threatened. It was pathetic; and the flabby humanitarianism of it went hand in hand with the wolfish cruelty and baseness of the economic conflict within the bourgeois State. War, war! For his part, he was for it; the general hankering seemed to him comparatively creditable.

Herr Settembrini introduced the word justice into the discussion, and sought to apply this lofty principle as a preventive measure against political catastrophes both foreign and domestic. But as soon as he did so, Naphta, who just previously had found the spiritual too high ever to succeed in manifesting itself in material form, now set to work to cast doubts on, to derogate from, that very spiritual. Justice! Was it, as a conception, worth worshipping? Was it first-class? Was it of divine origin? God and Nature were not even-handed, they played favourites, they exercised the right of choice, they graced one individual with dangerous distinction, to another granted the easy common lot. And as for the man of action—for him justice was on the one hand a paralysing weakness, doubt itself, on the other a trumpet-call to unscrupulous deeds. And since, in order to remain within the moral code, such a man had always to correct

“justice” in the second sense by “justice” in the first, where then was the Absolute, the radical, in the conception? Moreover, one was “just” according to one standard or according to the other. All the rest was liberalism—in which nobody nowadays took any stock. Justice, in short, was an empty husk, a stock-in-trade of bourgeois rhetoric; to get down to business, one had always to know which justice one was dealing with: the one which would give a man his own, or the one which would give everybody alike.

Out of his shoreless stream of words, we have hit upon these in illustration of the way he sought to confound the reason. But even worse was the way he talked about science—in which he did not believe. He did not believe, he said, in it, because it was permissible to exercise choice, whether to believe in it or not. It was a belief, like any other, only worse, stupider than any; the word science was the expression of the silliest realism, which did not blush to take at their face value the more than dubious reflections of objects in the human intellect; to pass them current, and to shape out of them the sorriest, most spiritless dogma ever imposed upon humanity. Was not the idea of a material world existing by and for itself the most laughable of all selfcontradictions? But the modern natural sciences, as dogma, rested upon the metaphysical postulate that time, space, and causality, the forms of cognition, in which all phenomena are enacted, are actual conditions, existing independently of our knowledge of them. This monistic position was an insult to the spirit. Space, time, and causality—in monistic language, evolution: here was the central dogma of a freethinking, atheistical, bastard religion, by virtue of which one thought to supersede the first book of Moses, and oppose the pure light of knowledge to a stultifying fable—as though Haeckel had been present at the creation! Empiricism! The universal ether—

based on exact knowledge, of course? The atom, that pretty mathematical joke of the smallest, the indivisible particle of matter—its existence had been demonstrated, undoubtedly? The doctrine of the illimitability of time and space was, surely, based on experience? In fact, anybody with a very little logic could make very merry over the theory of the endlessness and the reality of space and time; and could arrive at the result of—nothing: that is, at the view that realism is your true nihilism. How? Quite simply; since the relation to infinity of any size you chose to postulate was as zero. There was no size to the infinite; in eternity was neither duration nor change. In the spatially infinite, since every distance was, mathematically, as zero, there could not even be two points close together, to say nothing of two bodies, or of motion as such. He, Naphta, stated this, in order to counter the arrogance of materialistic science, which gave out for absolute knowledge its astronomical quackery, its windbaggery about the universe. Pitiable human kind, that by a vain mustering of meaningless figures have let themselves be driven to a conclusion of their own insignificance, to the destruction of any emphasis upon their own importance! It might be tolerable that human reason and knowledge should confine themselves to the terrestrial, and within this sphere treat as actual their experience with the subjective object. But let them go beyond that, let them once attempt to grapple with the riddle of eternity, and invent so-called cosmologies and cosmogonies, and it was beyond a jest; the

presumptuousness of it reached a climax. What blasphemous rubbish, to reckon the “distance” of any star from the earth in terms of trillions of kilometres, or in light years, and to imagine that with such a parade of figures the human spirit was gaining an insight into the essence of infinity and eternity—whereas infinity had absolutely nothing whatever to do with size, nor yet eternity with duration or distance in time; they had nothing in common with natural science, being, as they were, the abrogation of that which we called nature! Verily, the simplicity of a child, who thinks the stars are holes in the tent of heaven, through which the eternal brightness shines, was a thousand times more to his mind than the whole hollow, preposterous, overweening drivel of monistic science on the subject of the “universe.”

Settembrini asked him if that about the stars represented his own personal belief. He answered that on this point he reserved to himself the freedom, and the humblemindedness, of doubt. From which again it might be seen what he understood by freedom, and whither such a conception of it might lead. If only Herr Settembrini had not ground for the fear that Hans Castorp found all this highly worth listening to!

Naphta’s malicious wit lay in ambush, to spy out the weaknesses of the naturecompelling forces of progress, and convict its standard-bearers and pioneers of human relapses into the irrational. Aviators, flying men, he said, were mostly a bad lot, untrustworthy, above all exceedingly superstitious. They carried mascots on board with them, pigs and ravens and such-like; they spat three times in different directions, they wore the gloves of lucky flyers. How could such primitive unreason be

reconciled with the conception of the universe which underlay their calling? The contradiction diverted him, he held forth upon it in extenso. But such illustrations of Naphta’s malevolence are without number—let us abandon them for the all-toopertinent tale we have to tell. One afternoon in February, the gentlemen arranged an excursion to Monstein, some hour and a half from the village by sleigh. The party consisted of Naphta and Settembrini, Hans Castorp, Ferge and Wehsal. In two one-horse sleighs, Hans Castorp with the humanist, Naphta with Ferge and Wehsal, the last-named sitting with the coachman, they left the greengrocer’s at about three o’clock in the afternoon, and well bundled up drove off to the friendly music of bells, that sounds so pleasant through still, snowy air. They took the right-hand road, past Frauenkirch and Claris, southwards. Storm-clouds pushed up rapidly from that direction, and soon the only streak of blue in the sky lay behind them, over the Rhätikon. The cold was severe, the mountains misty. The road, a narrow, railingless shelf between mountain wall and abyss, rose steeply into the fir forests. They went at a foot-pace. Coasting-parties rode downhill toward them, and had to dismount as they met. Sometimes from round a bend in the road would come the clear and warning sound of other bells; sleighs driven tandem would be approaching and some skill was required to pass in the narrow road. Near their destination was a beautiful view of a rocky stretch of the Zügenstrasse. They disentangled themselves from their wraps and climbed out in front of the little Monstein inn, that called itself a Kurhaus, and went on foot a few steps further to get the view south-west toward the Stulsergrat. The gigantic wall, three thousand metres high, was shrouded in vapours. Only one jagged tooth reared itself heavenward out of the mist—superterrestrial, Valhallari, far and faint and awesomely inaccessible. Hans Castorp admired it immensely, and summoned the others to follow suit. It was he who with due respect dubbed it inaccessible—and afforded Herr Settembrini the chance of saying that this particular rock was considerably frequented. And, in general, that there were few spots where man had not set his foot. That was rather tall talk, retorted Naphta; and mentioned Mount Everest, which to date had icily refused to surrender to man’s importunity, and seemed likely to continue to do so. The humanist was put out. They returned to the Kurhaus, before which stood other unharnessed sleighs beside their own.

One might have lodgment here; in the upper story were numbered rooms, and on the same floor the dining-room, furnished in peasant style, and well heated. They ordered a bite from the obliging landlady: coffee, honey, white bread and “pear bread,” a sort of sweetmeat, the speciality of the place; red wine was sent out to the coachman. At the other tables were sitting Swiss and Dutch visitors.

We should have been glad to relate that our friends, being warmed and cheered by the hot and excellent coffee, proceeded to elevating discourse. But the statement would be inexact. For the discourse, after the first few words, took the form of a monologue by Naphta, and even as a monologue was conducted in a manner

singularly offensive, from the social point of view; the ex-Jesuit flatly turning his back on Herr Settembrini, completely ignoring the other two gentlemen, and devoting himself to Hans Castorp, to whom he held forth with marked affability.

It would have been hard to give a name to the subject of this discourse, to which Hans Castorp listened, nodding from time to time as though in partial agreement. We may presume that it was scarcely a connected argument, but rather moved loosely in the realms of the intellectual; in general pointing out, with an accompanying comment which we may characterize as cheerless, the equivocal nature of the spiritual phenomena of life, the changeful aspects and contentious unserviceability of the great abstract conceptions man has based on them, and indicating in what a rainbow-hued garment the Absolute appears upon this earth.

At any rate, we might take as the nucleus of his lecture the problem of freedom, which he treated in the sense of confusion. He spoke, among other matters, of the Romantic movement, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and its fascinating double meaning; pointing out how before it the conceptions of reaction and revolution went down, in so far as they were not incorporated in a new and higher one. For it was of course utterly absurd to try to associate the conception of revolution solely with progress and victoriously advancing enlightenment. The Romantic movement in Europe had been above all a movement of liberation: anti-classic, anti-academic, directed against French classicism, the old school of reason, whose defenders it derided as “powdered wigs.”

And Naphta began upon wars of liberation, talked of Fichtean enthusiasms, of a singing, frenzied popular uprising against that unbearable tyranny, as which, unfortunately—he tittered—freedom, that is to say the revolutionary idea, had taken shape. Very droll it was: singing loudly, the people had set out to shatter the revolutionary tyranny for the benefit of reactionary princely authority—and this they did in the name of freedom.

The youthful listener would perceive the distinction, even the opposition, between foreign and domestic freedom; also note the ticklish question, which unfreedom was soonest—he he!—which least compatible with a nation’s honour.

Freedom, indeed, was a conception rather romantic than illuminating. Like romanticism, it inevitably limited the human impulse to expansion; and the passionate individualism in them both had similar repressive results. Individualistic thirst for freedom had produced the historic and romantic cult of nationalism, which was warlike in character, and was called sinister by humanitarian liberalism, though the latter also preached individualism, only the other way about. Individualism was romantic-mediæval, in its conviction of the infinite, the cosmic, importance of the single human being, whence was deduced the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, the geocentric doctrine, and astrology. But on the other hand, individualism was an aspect of liberalizing humanism, which inclined to anarchy and would in any case protect the precious individual from being offered up on the altar of the general. Such was individualism, in its two aspects—all things unto all men.

One had to admit that the freedom- pathos had produced the most brilliant enemies of freedom, the most brilliant knights-errant of tradition at war with irreverent, destructive progress. Naphta cited Arndt, who cursed industrialism and glorified the nobility; and Görres, the author of Christian mysticism. Perhaps his hearer would ask what mysticism had to do with progress? Had it not been anti-scholastic, antidogmatic, anti-priestly? One was, indeed, compelled to recognize in the Hierarchy a force making for freedom: had it not set limits to the boundless pretensions of monarchy? But the mysticism of the end of the Middle Ages had shown its liberal character as forerunner of the Reformation—he he!—which in its turn had been an inextricable and tangled weave, a weft of freedom with a warp of mediævalism.

^^Oh, yes, what Luther did possessed the merit of demonstrating crudely and vividly the dubious character of the deed itself, the deed in general. Did Naphta’s listener know what a deed was? A deed, for example, was the murder of Councillor Kotzebue by Sand, the theological student and member of the Burschenschaft. What was it, to speak the language of criminology, had put the weapon into the hand of young Sand? Enthusiasm for freedom, of course. But looked at more nearly, it had rather been moral fanaticism, and the hatred of light foreign ways. Kotzebue had been in the employ of Russia, in the service of the Holy Alliance, and thus Sand’s shot had presumably been fired for freedom; which again declined into improbability by virtue of the circumstance that there were several Jesuits among his nearest friends. In short, whatever the “deed” might be, it was in any case a poor way of making one’s meaning clear; as also it contributed little toward the clarification of intellectual problems.

“Might I take the liberty of inquiring if you will be bringing these scurrilities of yours to an end before long?”

Herr Settembrini put the question in withering tones. He had been drumming on the table, and twisting his moustaches. But now his patience was exhausted. It was too much. He sat upright, and more than upright, he sat, so to speak, on tiptoe, for only his shanks touched the chair; and with flashing black eyes faced the enemy, who turned toward him in assumed surprise.

“What, may I ask, was the expression you were pleased to use?” Naphta countered.

“I was pleased to say,” said the Italian, swallowing, “I am pleased to say, that I am resolved to prevent you from continuing to molest a defenceless youth with your equivocations.”

“I invite you, sir, to take heed to your words.”

“The reminder, sir, is unnecessary. I am accustomed to take heed to my words. They will precisely fit the fact if I say that your way of misleading unsettled youth, of dissipating and undermining his moral and intellectual powers, is infamous, and cannot receive a stronger chastisement than it merits.”

With the word infamous, Settembrini struck the table with the flat of his hand, and pushing back his chair, stood up. It was a signal for the rest to do likewise. People looked across from the other tables—or, rather, from one, as the Swiss guests had left and only the Dutchmen remained, listening in amazement.

At our table they all stood there stiffly: Hans Castorp and the two antagonists, with Ferge and Wehsal opposite. All five were pale and wide-eyed, with twitching lips. Might not the three onlookers have made an effort to calm the troubled waters, to lighten the atmosphere with a jest, or bring affairs to a peaceful conclusion with some kind of human appeal? They did not try. The prevailing temper prevented them. They stood, all trembling, with hands that clenched involuntarily into fists. Even A. K. Ferge, to whom all elevated thoughts were foreign, who disclaimed from its inception any power to measure the seriousness of the dispute—even he was convinced that this was a quarrel à outrance, and that there was nothing to do but let it take its course. His good-natured moustaches worked violently up and down.

There was a stillness, in which could be heard the gnashing of Naphta’s teeth. To Hans Castorp, this was an experience like the one with Wiedemann’s hair. He had supposed it to be a figure of speech, something which did not actually occur. Yet here was Naphta, and in the silence his teeth could be heard to grate; a horribly unpleasant, a wild, incredible sound, which yet evinced a self-control equally fearsome, for he did not storm, but said in quite a low voice, though with a sort of cackling half-laugh;

“Infamous? Chastisement? Ah, so the bleating sheep have taken to butting? Have we driven the policemen of civilization so far that they draw their weapons? That is a triumph; won in passing; I must say, considering what mild provocation sufficed to summon to arms the guardians of our morality! As for the rest, sir, it will follow in due course. The chastisement too. I hope your civilian principles will not prevent you from knowing what you owe me—else I shall be forced to put these principles to a test that—”

Herr Settembrini drew himself up; the movement was so expressive that Naphta went on: “Ah, I see, that will not be necessary. I am in your way, you are in mine—

good. We will transfer the settlement of our differences to a suitable place. For the moment, only this: your sentimental solicitude for the scholastic interpretation of the Jacobin Revolution envisages a pedagogic crime in my manner of leading youth to doubt, of throwing categories to the winds, of robbing ideas of their academic dignity. And your anxiety is justified; for it happens on account of your humanity, be assured of that—happens and is done. For your humanity is to-day nothing but a tail end, a stale classicistic survival, a spiritual ennui; it is yawning its head off, while the new Revolution, our Revolution, my dear sir, is coming on apace to give it its quietus. We, when we sow the seeds of doubt deeper than the most up-to-date and modish freethought has ever dreamed of doing, we well know what we are about. Only out of radical scepsis, out of moral chaos, can the Absolute spring, the anointed Terror of which the time has need. This for your instruction, and my justification. For the rest we must turn over the page. You will hear from me.”

“And you will find a hearing, sir,” Settembrini called after him, as the Jesuit left his place and hurried to the hat-stand to seek his cloak. Then the Freemason let himself fall back with a thud on his hard chair, and pressed both hands to his heart.

“Distruttore! Cane arabbiato! Bisogna ammazzarlo!” burst from him, pantingly. The others still stood at the table. Ferge’s moustaches went on wagging up and down. Wehsal’s jaw was set hard awry. Hans Castorp was imitating his grandfather’s famous attitude, for his neck was all a-tremble. They were thinking how little they had expected such an outcome as this to their excursion. And all of them, even Herr Settembrini, felt how fortunate it was that they had come in two sleighs. It simplified the return. But afterwards?

“He challenged you,” Hans Castorp said, heavily.

“Undoubtedly,” answered Herr Settembrini, and cast a glance upward at his neighbour, only to turn away again at once and lean his head on his hand.

“Shall you take it up?” Wehsal wanted to know.

“Can you ask?” answered Settembrini, and looked a moment at him too.

“Gentlemen,” he said then, and sat up, having brought himself again to perfect control, “I regret the outcome of our pleasure excursion; but in life one must be prepared to reckon with such events. Theoretically I disapprove of the duel, I am of a law-abiding temper. In practice, however, it is another matter. There are situations where—quarrels that—in short, I am at this man’s service. It is well that in my youth I fenced a little. A few hours’ practice will make my wrist supple again. Shall we go?

The rendezvous will have to be made. I assume our gentleman will already have ordered them to put to the horses.”

Hans Castorp had moments, during the drive home, and afterwards, when he became giddy in contemplation of what lay before them. Still more, when it subsequently appeared that Naphta would not hear of cut and thrust, but insisted on a duel with pistols. And he, as the injured party, had the choice of weapons. There were moments, we say, when Hans Castorp was able, to a certain extent, to free himself from embroilment with the prevailing temper and tell himself that all this was madness, and must be prevented.

“If even there were a real injury,” he cried, in discussion with Herr Settembrini, Ferge and Wehsal—Naphta, on the way home, had invited the last-named to be his second, and he acted as intermediary between the factions. “An affront like that, purely civilian and social! If one of them had dragged the other’s good name in the dirt, if it was a question of a woman, or anything else really momentous, that you could take hold of, so that you felt there was no possibility of reconciliation! For such cases the duel is the last resort; and when honour is satisfied and the affair has gone off with credit to all parties, and the antagonists part friends, as they say, why, then it seems a very good arrangement, quite useful and practical, too, in complicated cases. But what was it he did? I don’t mean to stand up for him, I only ask what the insult consisted in. He threw the categories to the winds, as you say, and robbed conceptions of their academic dignity. And you felt yourself insulted thereby—justifiably, let us assume—”

“Assume?” repeated Herr Settembrini, and looked at him.

“Oh, justifiably, quite justifiably! He affronted you. But he did not insult you. There is a difference. Permit me to say so. It was a matter of abstractions, an intellectual disagreement. On intellectual topics he could affront you, perhaps, but not insult you. That is axiomatic, any court of honour would tell you the same, I swear to God they would. And so neither was your answer to him, about infamy and chastisement an insult; because it was in an intellectual sense, the whole affair was in the intellectual sphere, and has nothing to do with the personal, and an insult can only be personal. The intellectual can never be personal, that is the conclusion and the explanation of the axiom, and therefore—”

“You err, my friend,” answered Settembrini, with closed eyes. “You err first of all in the assumption that the intellectual cannot assume a personal character. You should not think that,” he said, and smiled a peculiarly fine and painful smile. “The point at which you go wrong is in your estimation of the things of the mind, in general. You obviously think they are too feeble to engender conflicts and passions comparable for sternness with those real life brings forth, the only issue of which can be the appeal to force. All incontro! The abstract, the refined-upon, the ideal, is at the same time the Absolute—it is sternness itself; it contains within it more possibilities of deep and radical hatred, of unconditional and irreconcilable hostility, than any relation of social life can. It astonishes you to hear that it leads, far more directly and inexorably than these, to radical intimacy, to grips, to the duel and actual physical struggle? The duel, my friend, is not an “arrangement,” like another. It is the ultimate, the return to a state of nature, slightly mitigated by regulations which are chivalrous in character, but extremely superficial. The essential nature of the thing remains the primitive, the physical struggle; and however civilized a man is, it is his duty to be ready for such a contingency, which may any day arise. Whoever is unable to offer his person, his arm, his blood, in the service of the ideal, is unworthy of it; however intellectualized, it is the duty of a man to remain a man.”

Thus was Hans Castorp put in his place. What should he answer? He preserved a depressed and brooding silence. Herr Settembrini had spoken with composure, logically. But his words sounded strange in his mouth. His thoughts were not his own thoughts, the idea of the duel was one he would never have come upon of himself. He had only taken it over from the terroristic little Naphta. And what he said was but an expression of the strength of that prevailing temper, whose tool and underling Herr Settembrini’s fine understanding had become. What? The intellectual, simply because it was so stern, must lead relentlessly to the animal, to the issue of physical combat?

Hans Castorp set himself against it—or at least he tried, only to discover, in affright, that even he was powerless to do so. In him too the prevailing temper was strong, he was not the man to win free. There was an area of his brain where memory showed him Wiedemann and Sonnenschein grappled like animals; and with horror he

understood that at the end of everything only the physical remained, only the teeth and the nails. Yes, they must fight; only thus could be assured even that small mitigation of the primitive by the rules of chivalry. Hans Castorp offered to act as Herr Settembrini’s second.

The offer was refused. No, it was not fitting, it would not do, he was told: first by Herr Settembrini himself, with that fine, rueful smile; then, after brief consideration, by Ferge and Wehsal, who also, without specified reason, found it would not do for Hans Castorp to assist at the encounter in this capacity. As a neutral party, perhaps—

the presence of such an one was a part of the prescribed chivalrous mitigations—he might be present. Even Naphta, through his second, let it be known that this was his view, and Hans Castorp was satisfied. As witness, or as neutral party, in either case he was able to exert his influence upon the details of the procedure now to be discussed and settled—an influence which proved necessary indeed.

For Naphta’s proposals went beyond all bounds. He demanded a distance of five paces, and, if necessary, three exchanges of fire. These insane conditions he sent by Wehsal the very evening of the quarrel; Wehsal had succeeded in fully identifying himself with Naphta’s mad ideas, and partly as representative, but certainly also in accordance with his personal taste, obstinately insisted upon them. Settembrini, of course, found nothing in them to object to. But Ferge, as second, and the neutral Hans Castorp, were beside themselves, and the latter fell heavily upon the wretched Wehsal. Was he not ashamed to bring forward such frantic and inhuman ideas to meet a case where the injury was purely abstract, not sensible at all? As though pistols were not bad enough, that they must add these murderous conditions! Where did the chivalrous mitigation come in? He might as well suggest firing across a handkerchief!

He, Wehsal, was not going to be fired at five paces off—it was easy for him to be blood-thirsty! And so forth. Wehsal shrugged his shoulders, as much as to say that precisely that extreme case was a contingency; thus reducing to silence Hans Castorp, who was inclined to forget the fact. But he succeeded, during the negotiations of the following day, in fixing the number of shots at one instead of three, and in dealing with the question of distance so as to arrange that the combatants should be placed fifteen paces apart, and have the right to advance five paces before firing. But in exchange for these concessions, he had to promise that no attempt should be made at reconciling the parties.—It was discovered that none of them had any pistols. Herr Albin had. Besides the shiny little revolver with which he loved to frighten the ladies, he had a pair of officer’s pistols from Belgium in a velvet case: Browning automatics, with brown wooden butts holding the magazine, blued steel mechanism and shining barrels, with crisp little sights atop. Hans Castorp had seen them in Herr Albin’s room, and against his own convictions, out of sheer compulsion from the prevailing temper, offered to borrow them. He made no concealment of the purpose they were to serve, but appealing to the young swaggerer’s honour, readily swore him to secrecy. Herr Albin instructed him how to load the pistols, and they tested both weapons with blank shots in the open.

All this took time: two days and three nights intervened between the quarrel and the meeting. The place was of Hans Castorp’s choosing: that picturesque blue-blossoming scene of his retreat and stock-taking activities. On this spot the affair should take place, on the third morning, as soon as there should be light enough to see. The evening before, rather late, it occurred to Hans Castorp, by this time thoroughly wrought up, that there ought to be a physician present.

He immediately advised with Ferge, who foresaw great difficulty. Rhadamanthus himself was an old corps-student; but it would be impossible to ask the head of the establishment to act in an illegal affair, and between patients to boot. It was scarcely likely a doctor could be found who would be willing to lend a hand in a pistol duel between two severe cases. As for Krokowski, for all his brain, it was a question whether the technique of wound treatment would be his strong point.

Wehsal, who was present, announced that Naphta had already expressed himself to the effect that he wanted no doctor. He was not going to the meeting-place to be salved and bandaged, but to lay about him, and that in grim earnest. It sounded a sinister declaration enough; but Hans Castorp tried to interpret it as meaning that Naphta felt there would be no need of a physician. Ferge too bore back a message from Herr Settembrini, that they might dispose of the question, it did not interest him. It was thus not unreasonable to hope that both antagonists had resolved not to let it come to the shedding of blood. Two nights had passed since the quarrel, and there would be yet a third. Time cools, time clarifies; no mood can be maintained quite unaltered through the course of hours. In the early dawn, standing weapon in hand, neither of the combatants would be the same man as on the evening of the quarrel. They would be going through it, if at all, mechanically, in obedience to the demands of honour, not, as they would have at first, of their own free will, desire, and conviction; and such a denial of their actual selves in favour of their past ones, it must somehow be possible to prevent.

Hans Castorp’s reflections proved in the event not far from justified; but justified in a manner unlike anything he could have dreamed. So far as Herr Settembrini was concerned, he was entirely right. But had he suspected in what direction Leo Naphta would have altered his intentions beforehand, or at the decisive moment, not even the prevailing temper, of which all this was the outcome, could have driven him to let the affair go on.

At seven o’clock next morning, the sun showed no sign of making an appearance above the mountain; yet day was dawning, difficultly, in a reek of mist, as Hans Castorp, after a restless night, left the Berghof to go to the rendezvous. The maidservants cleaning the hall looked after him in wonder. The house door, however, was unbolted; Ferge and Wehsal, alone or in company, had undoubtedly passed that threshold, the one to accompany Settembrini, the other Naphta, to the field of battle. He, Hans, went alone, his capacity of neutral not permitting him to attach himself to either party.

He moved mechanically, under the compulsion of honour, under pressure from the prevailing temper. It was necessary for him to be present at the encounter—that went without saying. Impossible to stop away and await the event in bed, in the first place because—but he did not finish his firstly, but hastened on to secondly, which was that one could not leave the thing to itself. Thus far, thank Heaven, nothing dreadful had happened; and nothing dreadful need happen, it was really highly improbable that anything would. They had had to get up and dress by artificial light. and breakfastless, in the bitter frost, betake themselves to the appointed spot. But once there, under the influence of his, Hans Castorp’s presence, the whole thing would surely be turned aside, work out for good—in some manner not yet foreseen, and best left unguessed at, since experience showed that even the simplest events always worked out differently from what one would have thought beforehand.

All which notwithstanding, this was the unpleasantest morning within his memory. He felt stale and seedy, his teeth tended to chatter; in the depth of his being he was prone to mistrust his own powers of self-control. These were such singular times. The lady from Minsk, who shattered her health on the point of a quarrel with her corsetière, the raging schoolboy, Wiedemann and Sonnenschein, the Polish earboxes—drearily he thought of them. Simply he could not picture two people, before his eyes, in his presence, standing up to shoot at each other, spill each other’s blood. But when he remembered what it had come to, what he had actually seen, in the case of Wiedemann and Sonnenschein, then he misdoubted himself, misdoubted all the world, and shivered in his fur jacket; though at the same time a feeling of the extraordinariness, the abnormality of all this, heightened by the quality of the early morning air, began now surprisingly to elevate and stimulate him.

In the dusk of that slow-brightening dawn, moved by such mingled and fluctuating hopes and feelings, he mounted the narrow path along the slope, from the village end of the bob-run; arrived at the deeply drifted woods, crossed the little wooden bridge over the course, and followed a way among the tree-trunks trodden by feet in the snow rather than cleared by any shovel. He walked fast, and very soon overtook Settembrini and Ferge, the latter holding the case of pistols with one hand under his cloak. Hans Castorp did not hesitate to join them, and, coming abreast, was aware of Naphta and Wehsal, only a few paces in advance.

“Cold morning; at least eighteen degrees of frost,” said he, in the purity of his intentions, but started at the frivolity of his own remark, and added: “Gentlemen, I am convinced—”

The others were silent. Ferge’s good-natured moustache wagged up and down.

After a while Settembrini came to a pause, took Hans Castorp’s hand, laid his own other one upon it, and spoke.

“My friend, I will not kill. I will not. I will offer myself to his bullet, that is all that honour can demand. But I will not kill, you may trust me.”

He released the young man and walked on. Hans Castorp was deeply moved. After a few steps he said: “That is splendid of you, Herr Settembrini. Now—on the other side—if he, for his part— ”

But Herr Settembrini shook his head. Hans Castorp reflected that if one party did not fire, the other would surely not be able to bring himself to do it either; and his heart perceptibly lightened. Everything was going well, his predictions seemed about to be verified.

They crossed the foot-bridge over the gorge, where the waterfall hung stiff and silent. Naphta and Wehsal were walking up and down before the bench now

upholstered with thick white cushions of snow: the bench on which Hans Castorp, lying to await the end of his nose-bleeding, had experienced such lively memories out of the distant past. Naphta was smoking a cigarette, and Hans Castorp questioned himself if he should do the same, but found he had no faintest desire. It seemed to him an affectation in the other. With the pleasure he always felt in these surroundings, he looked about at them in their icy state and found them not less beautiful than in the season of their blue blossom-time. The fir that jutted so boldly into the picture had its trunk and branches laden with snow.

“Good-morning,” he said cheerily, with the idea of lending the scene a note of the natural, which should help to dissipate its evil bearing—but was out of luck, for nobody answered. The greetings consisted in silent bows, so stiff as to be almost imperceptible. However, he was resolved to convert the energy from his walk, the splendid warmth engendered by brisk motion in the cold air, at once and without delay to good purpose; and so began: “Gentlemen, I am convinced—”

“You will develop your convictions another time,” Naphta cut him off icily. “The weapons, if you please,” he added, in the same arrogant tone. Hans Castorp, thus slapped on the mouth, had to look on while Ferge brought out the fatal étui from beneath his cloak, and handed one pistol to Wehsal to pass on to Naphta. Settembrini took the other from Ferge’s hand. The latter in a murmur asked them to make a space, and began measuring off the ground. He marked off the outer limits by lines dug with his heel in the snow, the inner by means of two canes, his own and Settembrini’s. Our good-natured sufferer, what sort of work was this for him? Hans Castorp could not trust his eyes. Ferge was long-legged, he took proper strides, the fifteen paces, at least, were a goodly distance—but the cursed canes, alas, were not far apart at all. Certainly, he was acting in all honour; but what a grip the prevailing temper had upon him, to enforce him to a procedure so monstrous in its significance!

Naphta had flung his fur cloak on the ground, so that its mink lining showed. Pistol in hand, he moved to one of the outer barriers directly it was established, and while Ferge was still marking off the other. When that was fixed, Settembrini took up his position, his shabby fur coat open in front. Hans Castorp wrenched himself out of a stealing paralysis, and flung himself once more into the breach.

“Gentlemen,” he said, choking, “don’t be hasty. It is my duty, after all—”

“Silence!” cried out Naphta sharply. “Give the signal.”

But no one gave the signal. It had not been arranged for. Somebody, of course, ought to say: “Fire!” but it had not been realized that it was the office of the neutral party to give the dread sign—at least, it had not been mentioned. Hans Castorp remained silent, and nobody spoke in his place.

“We will begin,” Naphta declared. “Come forward, sir, and fire,” he called across to his antagonist, and began himself to advance, holding the pistol at arm’s length, directed at Settembrini—an unbelievable sight. Settembrini did the same. At the third step the other, without firing, was already at the barrier—the Italian raised the pistol very high, and fired. The shot awaked repeated echoes, the mountains flung back the sound and the rebound, the valley reverberated with the shock, until it seemed to Hans Castorp people must come running.

“You fired in the air,” Naphta said collectedly to Settembrini, letting his own weapon sink.

Settembrini answered: “I fired where it pleased me to fire.”

“You will fire again!”

“I have no such intention. It is your turn.” Herr Settembrini, lifting his face toward the sky, had turned himself somewhat side-wise to his opponent. It was touching to realize that he had heard one should not offer one’s breast full face to an opponent’s fire; and that he was acting according to the regulations.

“Coward!” Naphta shrieked; and with this human shriek confessing that it takes more courage to fire than be fired upon, raised his pistol in a way that had nothing to do with duelling, and shot himself in the head.

Piteous, unforgettable sight! He staggered, or tottered, while the mountains played ball with the sound of his shot, a few steps backward, flinging out his legs jerkily; executed a right turn with his whole body, and fell with his face in the snow. They all stood a moment rigid. Settembrini, hurling his weapon from him, was first at Naphta’s side.

“Infelice!” he cried. “Che cosa fai, per l’amor di Dio?”

Hans Castorp helped him turn the body over. They saw the blackened red hole in the temple. They looked into a face that one would do well to cover with the silk handkerchief, one corner of which hung out of Naphta’s breast pocket.