The Magic Mountain Soup-Everlasting

AND now we are confronted by a phenomenon upon which the author himself may well comment, lest the reader do so in his stead. Our account of the first three weeks of Hans Castorp’s stay with “those up here”—twenty-one midsummer days, to which his visit, so far as human eye could see, should have been confined—has consumed in the telling an amount of time and space only too well confirming the author’s halfconfessed expectations; while our narrative of his next three weeks will scarcely cost as many lines, or even words and minutes, as the earlier three did pages, quires, hours, and working-days. We apprehend that these next three weeks will be over and done with in the twinkling of an eye.

Which is perhaps surprising; yet quite in order, and conformable to the laws that govern the telling of stories and the listening to them. For it is in accordance with these laws that time seems to us just as long, or just as short, that it expands or contracts precisely in the way, and to the extent, that it did for young Hans Castorp, our hero, whom our narrative now finds visited with such an unexpected blow from the hand of fate. It may even be well at this point to prepare the reader for still other surprises, still other phenomena, bearing on the mysterious element of time, which will confront us if we continue in our hero’s company.

For the moment we need only recall the swift flight of time—even of a quite considerable period of time—which we spend in bed when we are ill. All the days are nothing but the same day repeating itself—or rather, since it is always the same day, it is incorrect to speak of repetition; a continuous present, an identity, an

everlastingness—such words as these would better convey the idea. They bring you your midday broth, as they brought it yesterday and will bring it to-morrow; and it comes over you—but whence or how you do not know, it makes you quite giddy to see the broth coming in—that you are losing a sense of the demarcation of time, that its units are running together, disappearing; and what is being revealed to you as the true content of time is merely a dimensionless present in which they eternally bring you the broth. But in such a connexion it would be paradoxical to speak of time as passing slowly; and paradox, with reference to such a hero, we would avoid. Hans Castorp, then, went to bed on the Saturday afternoon, as it had been ordained by Hofrat Behrens, the highest authority in our little world. There he lay, in his nightshirt with the embroidered monogram on the pocket, his hands clasped at the back of his head, in his cleanly white bed, the death-bed of the American woman and in all probability of many another person; lay there with his confiding blue eyes, somewhat glassy with his cold, directed toward the ceiling, and contemplated the singularity of his fate. This is not to say that, if he had not had a cold, his gaze would have been any clearer or more single-minded. No, just as it was, it accurately mirrored his inner state, and that, whatever its simplicity, was full of troubled, involved, dubious, not quite ingenuous thoughts. For as he lay, he would be shaken from deep within him by a frantic burst of triumphant laughter, while his heart stood still with an anguish of extravagant anticipation like nothing he had ever known before; again, he would feel such a shudder of apprehension as sent the colour from his cheek, and then it was conscience itself that knocked, in the very throbs of his heart as it pulsed against his ribs.

On that first day Joachim left him to his rest, avoiding all discussion. He went two or three times tactfully into the sickroom, nodded to the patient, and inquired if he could do anything. It was easy for him to understand and respect Hans Castorp’s reserve—the more in that he shared it, even feeling his own position to be more difficult than the other’s.

But on Sunday forenoon, when he came back from the walk which for the first time in weeks had been solitary, there was no putting it off any longer; they must take counsel together over the necessary next step.

He sat down by the bed and said, with a sigh: “Yes, it’s no good; we must act—they are expecting you down home.”

“Not yet,” Hans Castorp answered.

“No, but inside the next few days, Wednesday or Thursday.”

“Oh, they aren’t expecting me so precisely on a particular day,” Hans Castorp said.

“They have other things to do besides counting the days until I get back. I’ll be there when I get there and Uncle Tienappel will say: ‘Oh, there you are again,’ and Uncle James: ‘Well, had a good time?’ And if I don’t arrive, it will be some time before they notice it, you may be sure of that. Of course, after a while we’d have to let them know.”

“You can see how unpleasant the thing is for me,” Joachim said, sighing again.

“What is to happen now? I feel in a way responsible. You come up here to pay me a visit, I take you in, and here you are, and who knows when you can get away and go into your position down below? You must see how extremely painful that is to me.”

“Just a moment,” said Hans Castorp, without removing his hands from their clasped position behind his neck. “Surely it is unreasonable for you to break your head over it. Did I come up here to visit you? Well, of course in a way I did; but after all, the principal reason was to get the rest Heidekind prescribed. Well, and now it appears I need more of a rest than he or any of us dreamed. I am not the first who thought of making a flying visit up here for whom it fell out differently. Remember about Tousles-deux’s second son, and how it turned out with him—I don’t know whether he is still alive or not; perhaps they have fetched him away already, while we were sitting at our meal. That I am somewhat infected is naturally a great surprise to me; I must get used to the idea of being a patient and one of you, instead of just a guest. And yet in a way I am scarcely surprised, for I never have been in such blooming health, and when I think how young both my parents were when they died, I realize that it was natural I shouldn’t be particularly robust! We can’t deny that you had a weakness that way; we make no bones of it, even if it is as good as cured now, and it may easily be that it runs a little in the family, as Behrens suggested. Anyhow, I have been lying here since yesterday thinking it all over, considering what my attitude has been, how I felt toward the whole thing, to life, you know, and the demands it makes on you. A certain seriousness, a sort of disinclination to rough and noisy ways, has always been a part of my nature; we were talking about that lately, and I said I sometimes should have liked to be a clergyman, because I took such an interest in mournful and edifying things—a black pall, you know, with a silver cross on it, or R. I. P.— requiescat in pace, you know. That seems to me the most beautiful expression—I like it much better than ‘He’s a jolly good fellow,’ which is simply rowdy. I think all that comes from the fact that I have a weakness myself, and always felt at home with illness—the way I do now. But things being as they are, I find it very lucky that I came here, and that I was examined. Certainly you have no call to reproach yourself. You heard what he said: if I were to go down and continue as I have been, I should have the whole lobe at the devil before I could say Jack Robinson.”

“You can’t tell,” Joachim said. “That is just what you never can tell. They said you had already had places, of which nobody took any notice and they healed of

themselves, and left nothing but a few trifling dullnesses. It might have been the same way with the moist spot you are supposed to have now, if you hadn’t come up here at all. One can never know.”

“No, as far as knowing goes, we never can. But just for that reason, we have no right to assume the worst—for instance with regard to how long I shall be obliged to stop here. You say nobody knows when I shall be free to go into the ship-yard; but you say it in a pessimistic sense, and that I find premature, since we cannot know. Behrens did not set a limit; he is a long-headed man, and doesn’t play the prophet. There are the x-ray and the photographic plate yet to come before we can definitely know the facts; who knows whether they will show anything worth talking about, and whether I shall not be free of fever before that, and can say good-bye to you. I am all for our not striking before the time and crying wolf to the family down below. It is quite enough for the present if we write and say—I can do it myself with the fountainpen if I sit up a little—that I have a severe cold and am febrile, that I am stopping in bed, and shall not travel for the present. The rest will follow.”

“Good,” said Joachim. “We can do that for the present. And for the other matters we can wait and see.”

“What other matters?”

“Don’t be so irresponsible! You only came for three weeks, and brought a steamer trunk. You will need underwear and linen, and winter clothes—and more footwear. And anyhow, you will want money sent.”

“If,” said Hans Castorp, “if I need it.”

“Very well, we’ll wait and see. But we ought not”—Joachim paced up and down the room as he spoke, “we ought not to behave like ostriches. I have been up here too long not to know how things go. When Behrens says there is a rough place, almost rhonchi—oh well, of course, we can wait and see.”

There, for the time, the matter rested; and the weekly and fortnightly variations of the normal day set in. Hans Castorp could partake of them even in his present state, if not at first hand, then through the reports Joachim gave when he came and sat by the bedside for fifteen minutes.

His Sunday morning breakfast-tray was adorned with a vase of flowers; and they did not fail to send him his share of the Sunday pastries. After luncheon the sounds of social intercourse floated up from the terrace below, and with tantara and squealing of clarinets the fortnightly concert began. During its progress Joachim entered, and sat down by the open balcony door; his cousin half reclined in his bed, with his head on one side, and his eyes swimming with pious enjoyment as he listened to the mounting harmonies, and bestowed a momentary metaphorical shoulder-shrug upon

Settembrini’s twaddle about music being “politically suspect.”

And, as we have said, he had Joachim post him upon the sights and events of the sanatorium life. Had there, he asked, been any toilets made in honour of the day, lace matinées or that sort of thing?—though for lace matinées the weather was too cold. Whether there were people going driving (certain expeditions had in fact been undertaken, among others by the Half-Lung Club, which had gone in a body to Clavadel). On the next day, Monday, he demanded to hear all about Dr. Krokowski’s lecture, when Joachim came from it and looked in upon his cousin on his way to the rest-cure. Joachim did not feel like talking, he appeared disinclined to make a report. He would have let the subject drop, as it had after the previous lecture, had not Hans Castorp persisted, and demanded to hear details.

“I am lying up here,” he said, “paying full pension. I am entitled to have all that is going.” He recalled the Monday of two weeks ago, and his solitary walk, which had done him so little good; and committed himself to the view that it was that walk which had revolutionized his system and brought to the surface the latent infection.

“But what a stately and solemn way the people hereabout have of talking,” he said, “I mean the common people; almost like poetry. ‘Then thank ye kindly and God be with ye,’ ” he repeated, giving the words the woodman’s intonation. “I heard that up in the woods, and I shall remember it all my life. You get to associate a thing like that with other memories and impressions, you know, and you never forget it as long as you live.—Well, so Krokowski held forth again on the subject of love, did he? What did he say about it to-day?”

“Oh, nothing in particular. You know from the other time how he talks.”

“But what did he offer that was new?”

“Nothing different.—Oh, well, the stuff to-day was pure chemistry,” Joachim unwillingly condescended to enlighten his cousin. It seemed there was a sort of poisoning, an auto-infection of the organisms, so Dr. Krokowski said; it was caused by the disintegration of a substance, of the nature of which we were still ignorant, but which was present everywhere in the body; and the products of this disintegration operated like an intoxicant upon the nerve-centres of the spinal cord, with an effect similar to that of certain poisons, such as morphia, or cocaine, when introduced in the usual way from outside.

“And so you get the hectic flush,” said Hans Castorp. “But that’s all worth hearing. What doesn’t the man know! He must have simply lapped it up. You just wait, one of these days he will discover what that substance is that exists everywhere in the body and sets free the soluble toxins that act like a narcotic on the nervous system; then he will be able to fuddle us all more than ever. Perhaps in the past they were able to do that very thing. When I listen to him, I could almost think there is some truth in the old legends about love potions and the like.—Are you going?”

“Yes,” Joachim said, “I must go lie down. My curve has been rising since yesterday. This affair of yours has had its effect on me.”

That was the Sunday, and the Monday. The evening and the morning made the third day of Hans Castorp’s sojourn in the “caboose.” It was a day without distinction, an ordinary weekday, that Tuesday—but after all, it was the day of his arrival in this place, he had been here a round three weeks, and time pressed; he would have to send a letter home and inform his uncle of the state of affairs, even though cursorily and without reference to their true inwardness. He stuffed his down quilt behind his back, and wrote upon the note-paper of the establishment, to the effect that his departure was being delayed beyond the appointed time. He was in bed with a feverish cold, which Hofrat Behrens—over-conscientious as he probably was—refused to take

lightly; insisting on regarding it as immediately connected with his (Hans Castorp’s) constitution and general state of health. The physician had perceived directly he saw him that he was decidedly anæmic; and take it all in all, it seemed as though the limit he had originally set for his stay was not regarded by the authorities as long enough for a full recovery. He would write again as soon as he could.—That’s the idea, thought Hans Castorp; not too much or too little; and whatever the issue, it will satisfy them for a while. The letter was given to the servant, with instructions that it be taken direct to the station and sent off by the earliest possible train, instead of being posted in the usual way in the house letter-box, with consequent delays.

Our adventurous youth felt much relieved to have set affairs in such good train—if likewise a good deal plagued by his cough and the heavy-headedness caused by his catarrh—and now he began to live each day as it came—a day which never varied, which was always broken up into a number of sections, and which, in its abiding uniformity, could not be said either to pass too fast or to hang too heavy on the hands. In the morning the bathing-master would give a mighty thump on the door and enter—a nervous individual named Turnherr, who wore his sleeves rolled up, and had great standing veins upon his forearms, and a gurgling, impeded speech. He addressed Hans Castorp, as he did all the patients, by the number of his room, and rubbed him with alcohol. Not long after he left, Joachim would appear ready dressed, to greet his cousin, inquire after his seven o’clock temperature, and communicate his own. While he breakfasted below, Hans Castorp did the same above, his down quilt tucked behind his back, in enjoyment of the good appetite a change engenders. He was scarcely disturbed by the bustling and businesslike entrance of the two physicians, who at this hour made a hurried round of the dining-hall and the rooms of the bedridden and moribund. Hans Castorp, with his mouth full of jam, announced himself to have slept

“splendidly” and looked over the rim of his cup at the Hofrat, who leaned with his fists on the centre table, and hastily scanned the fever chart. Both physicians wished him good-morning, and he responded in an unconcerned drawl as they went out. Then he lighted a cigarette, and beheld Joachim returning from the morning walk, almost before he realized his departure. Again they chatted of this and that; Joachim went to lie down until second breakfast, and the interval seemed so short that even the emptiest-headed could hardly have felt bored. Hans Castorp, indeed, had so much food for thought in the events of the past three weeks, so much to ponder in his present state and what might come of it, that although two bound volumes of an illustrated periodical from the Berghof library lay upon his night-table, he had no need to resort to them.

It was no different with the brief hour during which Joachim took his regular walk down to the Platz. He came in to Hans Castorp afterwards, told him whatever of interest he had seen, and sat or stood a few minutes by the sick-bed before he withdrew to his own balcony for the midday rest. And how long did that last? Again, only a brief hour. It seemed to Hans Castorp he had barely settled to commune a little with his own thoughts, hands folded behind his head and eyes directed upon the ceiling, before the gong droned through the house, summoning all those not bedridden or moribund to prepare for the principal meal of the day.

Joachim went down, and the “midday broth” was brought—“broth” in a symbolic sense merely, considering in what it consisted. Hans Castorp was not on sick-diet. He lay there and paid full pension, and what they brought him in the abiding present of that midday hour was by no means broth, it was the full six-course Berghof dinner, in all its amplitude, with nothing left out. Even on week-days this was a sumptuous meal; on Sundays it was a gala banquet and “gaudy,” prepared by a cosmopolitan chef in the kitchens of the establishment, which were precisely those of a European hotel de luxe. The “dining-room girl” whose duty it was to serve the bedridden brought it to him in dainty cook-pots under nickel-plated dish-covers. She produced an invalid-table, a marvel of one-legged equilibrium, adjusted it across his bed, and Hans Castorp banqueted like the tailor’s son in the fairy-story.

As he finished, Joachim would return, and it might be as late as half past two before the latter went into his loggia, and the hush of the main rest period fell upon the Berghof. Not quite, perhaps; perhaps it would be nearer the truth to call it a quarter after, but these odd quarter-hours outside the round figures do not count, they are swallowed up unregarded, in places where one reckons time in large units—on long train journeys of many hours on end, or wherever one is in a state of vacant suspense, with all one’s being concentrated on pulling the time behind one. A quarter past two will pass for half past, will even pass for three, on the theory that it is already well on the way toward it. The thirty minutes are taken as a sort of onset to the full hour from three to four, and inwardly discounted. In this wise the duration of the main rest period was finally reduced to no more than an hour; and even this hour was lopped off at its latter end, elided, as it were. Dr. Krokowski played the part of apostrophe. Yes, nowadays when Dr. Krokowski went his independent afternoon round, he no longer made a circle round Hans Castorp; our young man was no longer an interval and hiatus, he counted as much as the others, he too was a patient. He was questioned, not ignored, as had so long been the case, to his slight and concealed but daily recurring annoyance. It was on Monday that Dr. Krokowski for the first time manifested himself in the room—manifested being the only proper word for the phenomenon as Hans Castorp, with an involuntary start, perceived it. He lay in half—or quarter—slumber, and became aware that the Assistant was beside him, having entered not through the door, but approaching from outside. His round at this time lay not through the corridor, but along the balconies, and he had come through the open door of the loggia with an effect of having flown through the air. There he stood at Hans Castorp’s bedside, in all his pallor and blackness, broad-shouldered and squat, his lips parted in a manly smile that showed the yellowish teeth through his beard—the apostrophe!

“You seem surprised to see me, Herr Castorp,” he said, mildly baritone, drawling, unquestionably rather affected: he gave the r a foreign, palatal sound, not rolled, but pronounced with a single impact of the tongue against the upper front teeth. “But I am only performing my pleasant duty, in seeing after your welfare. Your relations with us have entered upon a new phase. Overnight the guest has become the comrade.” His patient was rather alarmed by the word comrade.—“Who would have thought it?” he jested fraternally. “Who would have thought it on that evening when I had the honour of making your acquaintance, and you replied to my mistaken supposition—at that time mistaken—with the explanation that you were perfectly healthy? I believe I expressed some doubt, but I assure you I did not mean it in that sense. I will not pretend to being more sharp-sighted than I am. I was not thinking of a moist spot. My remark was meant only in the general, philosophical sense, as a doubt whether the two conceptions, man and perfect health, were after all consistent one with the other. Even to-day, after the examination, I confess that I personally, as distinguished from my honoured chief, cannot regard the moist spot as the most important factor in the situation. It is, for me, a secondary phenomenon—the organic is always secondary—”

Hans Castorp drew a short breath.

“—and thus your catarrh is, in my view, a third-line phenomenon,” Dr. Krokowski concluded, very softly. “How is it? The rest in bed will undoubtedly be efficacious, in this respect. What have you measured to-day?” And from then on the Assistant’s visit was in the key of an ordinary professional call, to which it kept during the following days and weeks. Dr. Krokowski would enter by the open balcony door at a quarter to four or earlier, greet the patient with manly readiness, put the usual professional questions, with perhaps a little personal touch as well, a jest or two—and if all this had a slight aura of the questionable about it, yet one can get used even to the questionable, provided it keeps within bounds. It was not long before Hans Castorp forgot any feeling he may have had about Dr. Krokowski’s visits. They took their place in the programme of the normal day, and performed, as it were, an elision in the latter end of the main rest period.

The Assistant would return along the balconies at four o’clock or thereabouts, that is to say mid-afternoon. Yes, thus suddenly, before one realized it, there one was, in the very deep of the afternoon, and steadily still deepening on toward twilight. Before tea was finished drinking, up above and down below, it was well on the way toward five o’clock; and by the time Joachim returned from his third daily round and looked in on his cousin, it would be near enough to six to reduce the remaining rest period to no more than a single hour—reckoned always in round numbers. It was an easy matter to kill that much time, if one had ideas in one’s head, and a whole orbis pictus on the table to boot.

Joachim, on his way to the evening meal, stopped to say goodbye. Hans Castorp’s tray was brought. The valley had long since filled with shadow, and darkened apace as he ate. When he had done, he leaned back against his down quilt, with the magic table cleared before him, and looked into the growing dusk, to-day’s dusk, yet scarcely distinguishable from the dusk of yesterday or last week. It was evening—and had just been morning. The day, artificially shortened, broken into small bits, had literally crumbled in his hands and was reduced to nothing: he remarked it to himself with a start—or, at any rate, he did at least remark; for to shudder at it was foreign to his years. It seemed to him that from the beginning of time he had been lying and looking thus.

One day—some ten or twelve had passed since Hans Castorp retired to bed—there was a knock on his door at about this hour, before Joachim had returned from dinner and the social half-hour. Upon Hans Castorp’s inquiring “Come in,” it opened, and Ludovico Settembrini appeared—and lo, on the instant the room was flooded with light. For the visitor’s first motion, while still on the threshold, had been to turn on the electric light, which filled the room in a trice with vibrating brilliance, and reverberated from the gleaming white ceiling and furniture.

The Italian had been the only one of the guests after whom Hans Castorp had expressly asked in these days. Joachim indeed, when he stood or sat by his cousin for ten or fifteen minutes—and that happened ten times in the course of the day—would relate whatever there was of interest or variation in the daily life of the community; and Hans Castorp’s questions, whenever he put any, had been of a general nature. The exile wished to know whether there were new guests, or if any of the familiar faces were absent; it seemed to gratify him that only the former was the case. There was one new-comer, a hollow-cheeked, green-complexioned young man, who had been given a place at the next table on the right with Frau Iltis and the ivory-skinned Levi. Hans Castorp might look forward to the pleasure of seeing him. So no one had left?

Joachim answered in a curt negative, his eyes on the ground. But he had to reply to this question every day or so, until at last he became restive and sought to answer once for all by saying that, so far as he knew, no one was purposing to leave—nobody did leave very much, up here, as a matter of fact.

But Hans Castorp had asked after Settembrini by name, and desired to hear what he had “said to it.” To what? “Why, that I am in bed and supposed to be ill.” Settembrini, it seemed, had expressed himself on the subject, though briefly. On the very day of Hans Castorp’s disappearance he had come to find out his whereabouts of Joachim, obviously prepared to hear that the guest had departed; and on learning the explanation had responded only in Italian: first “Ecco!” and then “Poveretto!”—as much as to say: “There you are, poor chap!”—It needed no more Italian than the cousins could boast to understand the sense in which he uttered the words. “Why

‘ poveretto’?” Hans Castorp inquired. “He sits up here with his literature made of politics and humanism and he is very little good for the ordinary interests of life. He needn’t look down his nose and pity me like that, I shall get down to the flat-land before he does.”

And now Herr Settembrini stood here in the suddenly illuminated room—Hans Castorp, who had raised himself on his elbow and turned blinking toward the door, recognized him and flushed. Settembrini wore, as usual, his thick coat with the wide lapels, a frayed turnover collar, and the check trousers. As he came from supper, he was armed with the usual wooden toothpick. The corner of his mouth, beneath the beautiful curve of his moustache, displayed the familiar fine, dry, critical smile.

“Good-evening, Engineer! May I be permitted to look in on you? If so, I need light—you will pardon my taking it upon myself”—and he waved his small hand toward the lamp in the ceiling. “You were absorbed in contemplation, I should not wish to disturb you. A tendency to meditate is surely natural under the circumstances, and if you want to talk, you have your cousin. You see, I am well aware that I am superfluous. But even so—we live here close together, a sympathy springs up between man and man, intellectual and emotional sympathy.—It has been a full week that we have not seen you. I began to think you had left, as I saw your place empty down in the refectory. The Lieutenant told me better—or should we say worse, if that would not sound impolite? Well, and how are you? How do you feel? Not too much cast down, I hope?”

“Ah, that is you, Herr Settembrini! How friendly of you! Refectory—oh, I say, that is good! Always at your jokes—but do sit down. You are not disturbing me in the least. I was lying there musing—no, musing is too much to say. I was simply too lazy to turn on the light. Thanks very much, I am subjectively as good as normal, and my cold is much better from lying in bed. But it was a secondary phenomenon, so everybody tells me. My temperature is still not what it should be, I have 99.5° to 99.7°, all the time.”

“You take your temperature regularly?”

“Yes, six times a day, like the rest of you. Pardon me, I am still laughing at your calling our dining-hall a refectory. That is what they are called in a cloister, isn’t it?

After all, there is some resemblance—not that I have been in a cloister, but I imagine they are something like this. And I have the ‘Rule’ at my fingers’ ends, and observe it faithfully.”

“As a pious brother should. One might say that your novitiate is at an end and you have made your profession. My formal congratulations. You even say ‘our’ dininghall. But, without meaning to affront your manly dignity, you remind me more of a young nun than a monk, a regular new-shorn, innocent bride of Christ, with great martyrlike eyes. I have seen such lambs, here and there about the world; never without a certain—a certain access of sensibility. Yes, your cousin has told me about it. So you had yourself examined after all, at the eleventh hour.”

“Since I was febrile—of course, Herr Settembrini. What do you want? If I had been at home, I should have consulted a physician. And here, at the source and fount so to speak, with two specialists in the house—it would have been very strange—”

“Of course, of course. And you took your temperature, too, before they told you to. But they did recommend it, from the beginning. And the Mylendonk slipped you the thermometer?”

“Slipped me—? Since the occasion arose, I bought one from her.”

“I understand. An irreproachable transaction. And how many months did the chief knock you down for? Good heavens, I have asked you that before! Do you remember?

You had just come. You answered with such assurance—”

“Of course I remember. I have had many new experiences since that time, but that I remember as though it were yesterday. You were so amusing, and spoke of Behrens as the judge of the lower regions—Radames, was it? No, wait, that is something else.”

“Rhadamanthus? Yes, I may have called him that. I am afraid I do not remember every phrase that happens to well up to my lips.”

“Rhadamanthus, of course. Minos and Rhadamanthus. And you spoke to us of Carducci at the same time—”

“Pardon me, my dear young friend, we will, if you please, leave him out. The name, at this moment, sounds too strange upon your tongue.”

“That’s good too,” laughed Hans Castorp. “But I have learned a good deal about him through you.—Yes, at that time I had not the faintest suspicion, I answered you that I was here for three weeks, I did not know any different. The Kleefeld girl had just been whistling at me with her pneumothorax, I hardly knew where I was. But I was feeling febrile even then—for the air up here is not only good against the illness, you know, it is also good for it, it sometimes brings it to the surface—which is of course a necessary step in the cure.”

“An alluring hypothesis. And has Hofrat Behrens also told you about the GermanRussian woman we had here last year—no, year before last—for five months? He did not? He should have. A charming woman, of Russo-German origin, married, a young mother. She came from the Baltic provinces somewhere—lymphatic, anæmic, but probably some more serious trouble as well. She spent a month here and complained that she felt ill all the time. They told her to be patient. Another month passes, she continues to assert that she is actually worse instead of better. They point out to her that only the physician can judge how she is—she herself only knows how she feels; which does not signify. They are satisfied with the condition of her lung. Good. She says no more, she goes on with the cure, and loses weight by the week. The fourth month she faints during the examination. That is nothing, says Behrens, her lung is perfectly satisfactory. But by the fifth month she cannot get about, she goes to bed and writes to her husband, out in the Baltic provinces; Behrens gets a letter from him marked ‘personal’ and ‘urgent’ in a very firm hand—I saw it myself. Yes, says Behrens, and shrugs his shoulders, it seems to be indicated that she certainly cannot stand the climate up here. The woman was beside herself. He ought to have said that before, she had felt it from the beginning, she declared—they had killed her among them. Let us hope she recovered her strength when she went back to her husband.”

“Oh, that’s good, that’s very good! You do tell stories capitally, Herr Settembrini; every word is so plastic. And that story about the girl that went bathing in the lake, the one they gave the ‘silent sister’ to take her temperature with—I have often laughed at it, all by myself. Yes, what strange things do happen. One lives and learns. But my own case is still quite uncertain. The Hofrat is supposed to have discovered a trifling weakness, places where I was infected long ago, I heard them myself when, he tapped me, and some fresh places he can hear now—what a funny word fresh is to use in such a connexion! But so far there are only the acoustic indications; real diagnostic certainty we shall only arrive at when I am about again, and the x-ray and

photography have taken place. Then we shall have positive knowledge.”

“You think so? You know that the photographic plate often shows spots that are taken for cavities when there are none there? And that, sometimes, it shows no spots although there is something there? Madonna—the photographic plate! There was a young numismatician up here, with fever; and since he had fever, there were cavitiesplain to be seen on the plate. They could even hear them. They treated him for phthisis, and he died. The postmortem showed his lung to be sound; the cause of his death was some coccus or other.”

“Oh, come, Herr Settembrini. Talking about post-mortems already. I haven’t got that far yet, I assure you.”

“Engineer, you are a wag.”

“And you are an out-and-out critic and sceptic, I must say. You do not even believe in science. Can you see spots on your plate, Herr Settembrini?”

“Yes, it shows some spots.”

“And you really are ill too?”

“Yes, I am unfortunately rather ill,” replied Settembrini, and his head drooped. There was a pause, in which he gave a little cough. Hans Castorp, from his bed, regarded his guest, whom he had reduced to silence. It seemed to him that with his two simple inquiries he had refuted Settembrini’s whole position, even the republic and the bello stile. And he did nothing on his side to resume the conversation. After a while Herr Settembrini straightened himself, with a smile.

“Tell me, Engineer,” he said, “how have your family taken the news?”

“What news do you mean? Of my delayed return? Oh, my family, you know, consists of three uncles, a great-uncle and his two sons, who are more like my cousins. Other family I have none, I was doubly orphaned when I was very small. As to how they took it—they know as much, and as little, as I myself. At first, when I had to go to bed, I wrote that I had a severe cold, and could not travel. Yesterday, as it seemed rather long after all, I wrote again, saying that my catarrh had drawn Hofrat Behren’s attention to the condition or my chest, and that he insisted I should remain until he is clear what the condition is. You may be perfectly sure they took it calmly— it didn’t upset them.”

“And your position? You spoke of a sphere of practical activity, where you were intending to enter shortly on certain duties.”

“Yes, as volunteer apprentice. I have asked them to excuse me for the present. You must not imagine they are in despair over my defection. They can carry on indefinitely without an assistant.”

“Good. Everything is in order, then, in that direction. Perfect equanimity all along the line. It is a phlegmatic race of people in your part of the country, is it not? But energetic, certainly?”

“Oh, yes, very energetic,” said Hans Castorp. He mentally assayed the temper of his native city, and found that his interlocuter had characterized it justly. “Phlegmatic and energetic, yes, I should say they are.”

“I assume,” continued Herr Settembrini, “in case your stay is prolonged, we shall make the acquaintance of your uncle—I mean your great-uncle—shall we not? He will undoubtedly come up to ascertain your condition.”

“Out of the question,” cried Hans Castorp. “Under no conceivable circumstances. Wild horses could not drag him up here. My uncle is apoplectic, you understand; he has almost no neck at all. No, he has to have a reasonable atmospheric pressure; it would be worse for him up here than it was for your lady from the Baltic provinces— he would be in a dreadful way.”

“I am disappointed. And apoplectic? Energy and phlegm are not much use under those circumstances.—Your uncle is rich, I suppose? You are all rich down your way?”

Hans Castorp smiled at Herr Settembrini’s literary generalizations. And again, from his distant couch, he cast a metaphorical eye upon the sphere from which he had been snatched. He called up memories, he made an effort to judge objectively, and found that distance enabled him to do so.

He answered: “One is rich—or else one isn’t. And if not, so much the worse. I myself am no millionaire, but what I have is secured to me, I have enough to live on and be independent. But personalities aside—well, if you had said one must be rich, I should have agreed with you. If you aren’t rich, or if you leave off being, then woe be unto you. ‘Oh, he?’ they will say about this or that person. ‘He hasn’t any money, has he?’ Literally that, and making just such a face; I have often heard them, and I see now it made an impression on me—which it would not have done, of course, unless it had struck me as strange. Or don’t you think that follows? No, I don’t think you, for instance, as homo humanus, would feel very comfortable down there; it often struck me that it was pretty strong, as I can see now, though I am a native of the place and for myself have never had to suffer from it. If a man does not serve the best and dearest wines at his dinners, people don’t go, and his daughters are left on his hands. That is what they are like. Lying here and looking at it from this distance, I find it pretty gross. What were the words you used—phlegmatic and—and energetic. That’s very good. But what does it mean? It means hard, cold. And what do hard and cold mean? They mean cruel. It is a cruel atmosphere down there, cruel and ruthless. When you lie here and look at it, from a distance, it makes you shudder.”

Settembrini listened, and nodded; nodded after Hans Castorp had come to an end, for the present, of his pronouncement and fallen silent.

Then he took a breath and said: “I will not seek to extenuate the specific forms which life’s normal cruelty assumes in your native sphere. It is all one—for the reproach of cruelty rests upon somewhat sentimental grounds. You would scarcely even have levelled it, while you were in that atmosphere, for fear of being ridiculous in your own eyes. You left it to the drones to make, and rightly. That you make it now bears witness to a certain estrangement, which I should be sorry to see increase; since he who falls in the habit of making it is in danger of being lost to life, to the manner of life to which he was born. Do you know, Engineer, what I mean by being lost to life?

I, I know it, I see it here every day. Six months at most after they get here, these young people—and they are mostly young who come—have lost every idea they had, except flirtation and temperature. And if they remain a year, they will have lost the power of grasping any other; they will find any other ‘cruel’—or, more precisely, ignorant and inadequate. You are fond of anecdote—I could serve your turn. I could tell you of a young man I know, a husband and son, who was up here for eleven months. He was a little older than you, yes, rather older. They let him go home, provisionally, as much improved; he returned to the bosom of his family—not uncles, you understand, but his wife and his mother. The whole day he lay with the

thermometer in his mouth, he took no interest in anything else. ‘You don’t understand,’ he said. ‘No one understands who has not lived up there. Down here the fundamental conception is lacking.’ In the end it was the mother who settled it. ‘Go back,’ she said. ‘There is nothing to be done with you any more.’ He went back, went back ‘home’—you know, don’t you, that they call this home when they have once lived here? He was entirely estranged from his young wife, she lacked the

fundamental conception, and she gave up trying to get it. It was borne in upon her that he would find a mate up here who had it, and that he would stop with her.”

Hans Castorp seemed to be only half listening. He went on staring into the incandescent brilliance of his white room, as into far space.

He laughed belatedly, and said: “He called it home? That is sentimental, as you say. You know no end of stories. I was still thinking of what we said about hardness and cruelty; the same idea has gone through my head a number of times in these days. You see, a person has to have a rather thick skin to find it natural, the way they have of thinking and talking down there, the ‘has he got any money?’ and the face they make when they say it. It never came quite natural to me, though I am no homo humanus. I can see, now I look back, that I was always struck by it. Perhaps that had to do with my tendency to illness, though I did not know about it at the time—those old places which I heard myself the other day. And now Behrens has found a fresh place. That, I must say, was a surprise to me—and yet, in a way, I don’t know that it was, after all. I never have felt myself as firm as a rock, and my parents, both of them, dying so young—for I have been doubly orphaned from youth up, you know—”

Herr Settembrini described a single gesture, with head, hand, and shoulders. Pleasantly, courteously, it put the question: “Well, and what of it?”

“You are an author,” Hans Castorp said, “a literary man. It must be easy for you to understand a thing like that; you can feel how under those circumstances a man might not be of tough enough fibre to find that sort of cruelty quite natural, the cruelty of ordinary people, who go about joking and making money and filling their bellies.—I don’t know if I am expressing myself”—

Settembrini bowed. “You mean,” he interrupted, “that the early and repeated contact with death developed in you a tendency which made you sensitive to the harshness and crudity, let us say the cynicism, of our everyday, worldly existence.”

“Precisely!” cried Hans Castorp, in honest enthusiasm. “You have expressed it to a T, Herr Settembrini. Contact with death! I was sure that you, as a literary man—”

Settembrini put out his hand, laid his head on one side, and closed his eyes. It was a mild and beautiful gesture, a plea for silence and further hearing. He held it some seconds, even after Hans Castorp had ceased to speak and was waiting in suspense for what was to come. But at length he opened his black eyes, organ-grinder eyes, and spoke: “Permit me. Permit me, Engineer, to say to you, and to bring it home to you, that the only sane, noble—and I will expressly add, the only religious way to think of death is as part and parcel of life; to regard it, with the understanding and with the emotions, as the inviolable condition of life. It is the very opposite of sane, noble, reasonable, or religious to divorce it in any way from life, or to play it off against it. The ancients adorned their sarcophagi with the emblems of life and procreation, and even with obscene symbols; in the religions of antiquity the sacred and the obscene often lay very close together. These men knew how to pay homage to death. For death is worthy of homage, as the cradle of life, as the womb of palingenesis. Severed from life, it becomes a spectre, a distortion, and worse. For death, as an independent power, is a lustful power, whose vicious attraction is strong indeed; to feel drawn to it, to feel sympathy with it, is without any doubt at all the most ghastly aberration to which the spirit of man is prone.”

Herr Settembrini left off speaking. He finished with this generalization, and made it the definite period of his discourse. He had spoken in a very serious vein and by no means with conversational intent; he even refrained from giving Hans Castorp the opportunity for a rejoinder; but simply dropped his voice at this point and concluded his remarks. He sat now with his lips closed, his hands folded in his lap, one leg in its check trouser flung over the other, slightly swinging the foot, which he regarded with an austere expression.

Hans Castorp too preserved silence. He leaned back in his plumeau, turned his head to the wall, and drummed with his finger-ends on the coverlet. He felt set to rights, chidden, corrected; in his silence there was no little childish obstinacy. The pause lasted some time.

At length Herr Settembrini lifted his head, and said with a smile: “You very likely recall, Engineer, that we have had a similar discussion once before—one might say the same discussion. We were talking about disease and dullness—I think we were taking a walk—and you found the combination a paradox, on the ground of your reverence for ill health. I called that reverence a dismal fancy which dishonoured human thought; and I was gratified to find you not disinclined to entertain my plea. We spoke of the neutrality and the intellectual indecision of youth, of its liberty of choice, of its inclination to play with all possible points of view, and that one should not—or need not—regard these experimentations as final and definite elections. Will you permit me”—Herr Settembrini smiled and bent forward as he sat, his feet close together on the floor, his hands between his knees, his head stretched out and a little on one side—“will you permit me”—and his voice had the faintest tremor in it—“to be beside you in your essays and experiments, and to exercise a corrective influence when there appears to be danger of your taking up a destructive position?”

“Why, certainly, Herr Settembrini”—Hans Castorp hastened to abandon his forced and even peevish attitude, stop drumming on the bed-cover, and turn to his guest with friendliness, even with contrition. “It is uncommonly kind of you—I must ask myself if I really—that is, if there is anything—”

“Sine pecunia, of course,” quoted Herr Settembrini, as he rose. “I can’t let myself be outdone!” They both laughed. The outer door opened, next moment the inner one as well. It was Joachim, returned from “society.” When he saw the Italian he flushed, as Hans Castorp had done; the deep bronze of his face deepened by another shade.

“Oh, you have company,” he said. “How nice for you! I was detained, they made me make one of a table of bridge. They call it bridge,” he said, shaking his head, “as they do outside, but it was really something else entirely. I won five marks—”

“Only so it doesn’t become a vice with you,” Hans Castorp laughed. “Ahem! Herr Settembrini has beguiled the time for me—no, that is not the proper expression, though it may be all right for your mock bridge. Herr Settembrini has filled the time for me, and given it content, whereas when mock bridge breaks out in our midst, a respectable man feels he has to fight his way through. And yet to have the privilege of listening to Herr Settembrini, to get the benefit of his good counsel, I could almost wish to keep my fever, and stop up here with you indefinitely. They would have to give me a ‘silent sister’ to measure with.”

“I repeat, Engineer, you are a wag,” said the Italian. He took leave gracefully and went. Alone with his cousin, Hans Castorp heaved a sigh.

“Oh, what a schoolmaster!” he said. “A humanistic one, of course. He never leaves off setting you right—first by means of anecdote, then by abstractions. And the things one gets to talk about with him, things you would never have thought you could talk about, or even understand! And if I had met him down below,” he added, “I never should have understood.”

At this hour Joachim would remain with him for a while, sacrificing a half or threequarters of an hour of the evening cure. Sometimes they played chess on Hans Castorp’s magic table; Joachim had brought a set of chess-men from below. Then he would take his wrappings and go into the balcony, thermometer in mouth, and Hans Castorp too took his temperature for the last time, while soft music, near or far, stole up from the dark valley. The cure ended at ten. He heard Joachim, he heard the pair from the “bad” Russian table; he turned on his side and invited slumber.

The night was the harder half of the day, for Hans Castorp woke often, and lay not seldom hours awake; either because his slightly abnormal temperature kept him stimulated, or because his horizontal manner of life, detracted from the power, or the desire, to sleep. To make up for their briefness, his hours of slumber were animated by extremely lively and varied dreams, which he could ponder on awaking. And if the hours of the day were shortened by their frequent division into small sections, it was the blurred monotony of the marching hours of the night which operated with the like effect. Then as dawn came on, he found it diverting to watch the gradual grey, the slow emergence of the room and the objects in it, as though by the drawing of veils; to see day kindling outside, with smouldering or with lively glow; and it was always a surprise when the moment came round again and the thump of the bathing-master on his door announced to Hans Castorp that the daily programme was again in force. He had brought no calendar with him on his holiday, and did not always find himself sure of the date. Now and then he asked his cousin; who, in turn, was not always quite sure either. True, the Sundays, particularly the fortnightly one with the concert—it was the second Hans Castorp had spent in this situation—gave him a fixed point. So much was certain, that by little and little they had now got well on in September, close on to the middle. Since he went to bed, the cold and cloudy weather had given place to a succession of wonderful midsummer days. Every morning Joachim appeared arrayed in white flannel trousers, to greet his cousin, and Hans Castorp felt a pang of regret, in which both heart and youthful muscles joined, at the loss of all this splendid weather. He murmured that it was “a shame,” but added to console himself that even if he were up and about he would hardly know how to take

advantage of it, since it seemed it did not answer for him to exert himself much. And the wide-open balcony door did afford him some share of the warm shimmer outside. But toward the end of his prescribed term of lying, the weather veered again. It grew misty and cold overnight, the valley was hid by gusts of wet snow, and the dry heat of the radiator filled the room. Such was the day on which Hans Castorp reminded the doctor, on his morning round, that the three weeks were out, and asked leave to get up.

“What the deuce—you don’t say!” said Behrens. “Time’s up, is it? Let’s see: yes, you’re right—good Lord, how fast we grow old! Things haven’t changed much with you, in the mean time. Normal yesterday? Yes, up to six o’clock in the afternoon. Well, Castorp, I won’t grudge you human society any longer. Up with you, man, and get on with your walks—within the prescribed limits, of course. We’ll take a picture of the inside of you—make a note of it,” he said as he went out, jerking his great thumb over his shoulder at Hans Castorp, and looking at the pallid assistant with his bloodshot, watery blue eyes. Hans Castorp left the “caboose.”

In galoshes, with his collar turned up, he accompanied his cousin once more to the bench by the watercourse and back. On the way he raised the question of how long the Hofrat might have let him lie had he not been reminded. And Joachim, looking worried, opened his mouth to emit a single pessimistic syllable, spread out his hands in an expressive gesture, and gave it up.