Buddenbrooks Chapter Five

The marriage of which little Johann had been the issue had never lost charm in the town as a subject for conversation. Since both of the parties to it were still felt to have something queer about them, the union itself must partake of that character of the strange and uncanny which they each possessed. To get behind it even a little, to look beneath the scanty outward facts to the bottom of this relation, seemed a difficult, but certainly a stimulating task. And in bedrooms and sitting-rooms, in clubs and casinos, yes, even on ’Change itself, people still talked about Gerda and Thomas Buddenbrook.

How had these two come to marry, and what sort of relationship was theirs? Everybody remembered the sudden resolve of Thomas Buddenbrook eighteen years ago, when he was thirty years old. “This one or no one,” he had said. It must have been something of the same sort with Gerda, for it was well known that she had refused everybody up to her twenty-seventh year, and then forthwith lent an ear to this particular wooer. It must have been a love match, people said: they granted that the three hundred thousand thaler had probably not played much of a rôle. But of that which any ordinary person would call love, there was very little to be seen between the pair. They had displayed from the very beginning a correct, respectful politeness, quite extraordinary between husband and wife. And what was still more odd it seemed not to proceed out of any inner estrangement, but out of a peculiar, silent, deep mutual knowledge. This had not at all altered with the years. The one change due to the passage of time was an outward one. It was only this: that the difference in years began to make itself plainly visible.

When you saw them together you felt that here was a rapidly aging man, already a little heavy, with his young wife at his side. Thomas Buddenbrook was going off very much, and this despite the now almost laughable vanity by which he kept himself up. On the other hand, Gerda had scarcely altered in these eighteen years. She seemed to be, as it were, conserved in the nervous coldness which was the essence of her being. Her lovely dark red hair had kept its colour, the white skin its smooth texture, the figure its lofty aristocratic slimness. In the corners of her rather too small and close-set brown eyes were the same blue shadows. You could not trust those eyes. Their look was strange, and what was written in it impossible to decipher. This woman’s personality was so cool, so reserved, so repressed, so distant, she showed so little human warmth for anything but her music—how could one help feeling a vague mistrust? People unearthed wise old saws on the subject of human nature and applied them to Senator Buddenbrook’s wife. Still waters were known to run deep. Some people were slyer than foxes. And as they searched for an explanation, their limited imaginations soon led them to the theory that the lovely Gerda was deceiving her aging husband.

They watched, and before long they felt sure that Gerda’s conduct, to put it mildly, passed the bounds of propriety in her relations with Herr Lieutenant von Throta.

René Maria von Throta came from the Rhineland. He was second lieutenant of one of the infantry battalions quartered in the town. The red collar of his uniform went well with his black hair, which he wore parted on the side and combed back in a high, thick curling crest from his white forehead. He looked big and strong enough, but was most unmilitary in speech and manner. He had a way of running one hand in between the buttons of his half-open undress coat and of sitting with his head supported on the back of his hand. His bows were devoid of military stiffness, and you could not hear his heels click together as he made them. And he had no more respect for his uniform than for ordinary clothes. Even the slim youthful moustaches that ran slantwise down to the corners of his mouth had neither point nor consistency; they only confirmed the unmartial impression he gave. The most remarkable thing about him was his eyes, so large, black, and extraordinarily brilliant that they seemed like glowing bottomless depths when he visited anything or anybody with his glance which was sparkling, ardent, or languishing by turns.

He had probably gone into the army against his will, or at least without any inclination for it; and despite his physique he was no good in the service. He was unregarded by his comrades, and shared but little in their interests—the interests and pleasures of young officers lately back from a victorious campaign. And they found him a disagreeable oddity, who did not care for horses or hunting or play or women. All his thoughts were bent on music. He was to be seen at all the concerts, with his languishing eyes and his lax, unmilitary, theatrical attitudes; on the other hand he despised the club and the casino and never went near them.

He made the duty calls which his position demanded; but the Buddenbrook house was the only one at which he visited—too much, people thought, and the Senator himself thought so too.

No one dreamed what went on in Thomas Buddenbrook. No one must guess. But it was just this keeping everybody in ignorance of his mortification, his hatred, his powerlessness, that was so cruelly hard! People were beginning to find him a little ludicrous; but perhaps their laugh would have turned to pity if they had even dimly suspected how much he was on his guard against their laughter! He had seen it coming long before, he had felt it beforehand, before any one else had such an idea in his head. His much-carped-at vanity had its source largely in this fear. He had been first to see, with dismay, the growing disparity between himself and his lovely wife, on whom the years had not laid a finger. And now, since the advent of Herr von Throta, he had to fight with the last remnant of his strength to dissimulate his own misgivings, in order that they might not make him a laughing-stock in the eyes of the community.

Gerda Buddenbrook and the eccentric young officer met each other, naturally, in the world of music. Herr von Throta played the piano, violin, viola, cello, and flute, and played them all unusually well. Often the Senator became aware of an impending visit when Herr von Throta’s man passed the office-door with his master’s cello-case on his back. Thomas Buddenbrook would sit at his desk and watch until he saw his wife’s friend enter the house. Then, overhead in the salon, the harmonies would rise and surge like waves, with singing, lamenting, unearthly jubilation; would lift like clasped hands outstretched toward Heaven; would float in vague ecstasies; would sink and die away into sobbing, into night and silence. But they might roll and seethe, weep and exult, foam up and enfold each other, as unnaturally as they liked! They were not the worst. The worst, the actually torturing thing, was the silence. It would sometimes reign so long, so long, and so profoundly, above there in the salon, that it was impossible not to feel afraid of it. There would be no tread upon the ceiling, not even a chair would move—simply a soundless, speechless, deceiving, secret silence. Thomas Buddenbrook would sit there, and the torture was such that he sometimes softly groaned.

What was it that he feared? Once more people had seen Herr von Throta enter his house. And with their eyes he beheld the picture just as they saw it: Below, an aging man, worn out and crotchety, sat at his window in the office; above, his beautiful wife made music with her lover. And not that alone. Yes, that was the way the thing looked to them. He knew it. He was aware, too, that the word “lover” was not really descriptive of Herr von Throta. It would have been almost a relief if it were. If he could have understood and despised him as an empty-headed, ordinary youth who worked off his average endowment of high spirits in a little music, and thus beguiled the feminine heart! He tried to think of him like that. He tried to summon up the instincts of his father to meet the case: the instincts of the thrifty merchant against the frivolous, adventurous, unreliable military caste. He called Herr von Throta “the lieutenant,” and tried to think of him as that; but in his heart he was conscious that the name was inappropriate.

What was it that Thomas Buddenbrook feared? Nothing—nothing to put a name to. If there had only been something tangible, some simple, brutal fact, something to defend himself against! He envied people the simplicity of their conceptions. For while he sat there in torments, with his head in his hands, he knew all too well that “betrayal,” “adultery,” were not words to describe the singing things, the abysmally silent things, that were happening up there.

He looked up sometimes at the grey gables, at the people passing by, at the jubilee present hanging above his desk with the portraits of his forefathers: he thought of the history of his house, and said to himself that this was all that was wanting: that his person should become a byword, his name and family life a scandal among the people. This was all that was lacking to set the crown upon the whole. And the thought, again, almost did him good, because it was a simple, comprehensible, normal thought, that one could think and express—quite another matter from this brooding over a mysterious disgrace, a blot upon his family ’scutcheon.

He could bear it no more. He shoved back his chair, left the office, and went upstairs. Whither should he go? Into the salon, to be greeted with unembarrassed slight condescension by Herr von Throta, to ask him to supper and be refused? For one of the worst features of the case was that the lieutenant avoided him, refused all official invitations from the head of the house, and confined himself to the free and private intercourse with its mistress.

Should he wait? Sit down somewhere, perhaps in the smoking-room, until the lieutenant went, and then go to Gerda and speak out, and call her to account? Ah, one did not speak out with Gerda, one did not call her to account. Why should one? Their alliance was based on mutual consideration, tact, and silence. To become a laughing-stock before her, too—no, surely he was not called upon to do that. To play the jealous husband would be to grant that outsiders were right, to proclaim a scandal, to cry it aloud. Was he jealous? Of whom? Of what? Alas, no! Jealousy—the word meant action: mistaken, crazy, wrong action, perhaps, but at least action, energetic, fearless, and conclusive. No, he only felt a slight anxiety, a harassing worry, over the whole thing.

He went into his dressing-room and bathed his face with eau-de-cologne. Then he descended to the music-room, determined to break the silence there, cost what it would. He laid his hand on the door-knob—but now the music struck up again with a stormy outburst of sound, and he shrank back.

One day in such an hour, he was leaning over the balcony of the second floor, looking down the well or the staircase. Everything was quite still. Little Johann came out of his room, down the gallery steps, and across the corridor, on his way to Ida Jungmann’s room. He slipped along the wall with his book, and would have passed his father with lowered eyes, and a murmured greeting; but the Senator spoke to him.

“Well, Hanno, and what are you doing?”

“Studying my lessons, Papa. I am going to Ida, to have her hear my translation—”

“Well, and what do you have to-morrow?”

Hanno, still looking down, made an obvious effort to give a prompt, alert, and correct answer to the question. He swallowed once and said, “We have Cornelius Nepos, some accounts to copy, French grammar, the rivers of North America, German theme-correcting—”

He stopped and felt provoked with himself; he could not remember any more, and wished he had said and and let his voice fall, it sounded so abrupt and unfinished. “Nothing else,” he said as decidedly as he could, without looking up. But his father did not seem to be listening. He held Hanno’s free hand and played with it absently, unconsciously fingering the slim fingers.

And then Hanno heard something that had nothing to do with the lessons at all: his father’s voice, in a tone he had never heard before, low, distressed, almost imploring: “Hanno—the lieutenant has been more than two hours with Mamma—”

Little Hanno opened wide his gold-brown eyes at the sound; and they looked, as never before, clear, large, and loving, straight into his father’s face, with its reddened eyelids under the light brows, its white puffy cheeks and long stiff moustaches. God knows how much he understood. But one thing they both felt: in the long second when their eyes met, all constraint, coldness, and misunderstanding melted away. Hanno might fail his father in all that demanded vitality, energy and strength. But where fear and suffering were in question, there Thomas Buddenbrook could count on the devotion of his son. On that common ground they met as one.

He did not realize this—he tried not to realize it. In the days that followed, he urged Hanno on more sternly than ever to practical preparations for his future career. He tested his mental powers, pressed him to commit himself upon the subject of his calling, and grew irritated at every sign of rebellion or fatigue. For the truth was that Thomas Buddenbrook, at the age of forty-eight, began to feel that his days were numbered, and to reckon with his own approaching death.

His health had failed. Loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dizziness, and the chills to which he had always been subject forced him several times to call in Dr. Langhals. But he did not follow the doctor’s orders. His will-power had grown flabby in these years of idleness or petty activity. He slept late in the morning, though every evening he made an angry resolve to rise early and take the prescribed walk before breakfast. Only two or three times did he actually carry out the resolve; and it was the same with everything else. And the constant effort to spur on his will, with the constant failure to do so, consumed his self-respect and made him a prey to despair. He never even tried to give up his cigarettes; he could not do without the pleasant narcotic effect; he had smoked them from his youth up. He told Dr. Langhals to his vapid face: “You see, Doctor, it is your duty to forbid me cigarettes—a very easy and agreeable duty. But I have to obey the order—that is my share, and you can look on at it. No, we will work together over my health; but I find the work unevenly divided—too much of yours falls to me. Don’t laugh; it is no joke. One is so frightfully alone—well, I smoke. Will you have one?” He offered his case.

All his powers were on the decline. What strengthened in him was the conviction that it could not last long, that the end was close at hand. He suffered from strange apprehensive fancies. Sometimes at table it seemed to him that he was no longer sitting with his family, but hovering above them somewhere and looking down upon them from a great distance. “I am going to die,” he said to himself. And he would call Hanno to him repeatedly and say: “My son, I may be taken away from you sooner than you think. And then you will be called upon to take my place. I was called upon very young myself. Can you understand that I am troubled by your indifference? Are you now resolved in your mind? Yes? Oh, ‘yes’ is no answer! Again you won’t answer me! What I ask you is, have you resolved, bravely and joyfully, to take up your burden? Do you imagine that you won’t have to work, that you will have enough money without? You will have nothing, or very, very little; you will be thrown upon your own resources. If you want to live, and live well, you will have to work hard, harder even than I did.”

But this was not all. It was not only the burden of his son’s future, the future of his house, that weighed him down. There was another thought that took command, that mastered him and spurred on his weary thoughts. And it was this: As soon as he began to think of his mortal end not as an indefinite remote event, almost a contingency, but as something near and tangible for which it behooved him to prepare, he began to investigate himself, to examine his relations to death and questions of another world. And his earliest researches in this kind discovered in himself an irremediable unpreparedness.

His father had united with his hard practical sense a literal faith, a fanatic Bible-Christianity which his mother, in her latter years, had adhered to as well; but to himself it had always been rather repellent. The worldly scepticism of his grandfather had been more nearly his own attitude. But the comfortable superficiality of old Johann could not satisfy his metaphysical and spiritual needs, and he ended by finding in evolution the answer to all his questions about eternity and immortality. He said to himself that he had lived in his forbears and would live on in his descendants. And this line which he had taken coincided not only with his sense of family, his patrician self-consciousness, his ancestor-worship, as it were; it had also strengthened his ambitions and through them the whole course of his existence. But now, before the near and penetrating eye of death, it fell away; it was nothing, it gave him not one single hour of calm, of readiness for the end.

Thomas Buddenbrook had played now and then throughout his life with an inclination to Catholicism. But he was at bottom, none the less, the born Protestant: full of the true Protestant’s passionate, relentless sense of personal responsibility. No, in the ultimate things there was, there could be, no help from outside, no mediation, no absolution, no soothing-syrup, no panacea. Each one of us, alone, unaided, of his own powers, must unravel the riddle before it was too late, must wring for himself a pious readiness before the hour of death, or else part in despair. Thomas Buddenbrook turned away, desperate and hopeless, from his only son, in whom he had once hoped to live on, renewed and strong, and began in fear and haste to seek for the truth which must somewhere exist for him.

It was high summer of the year 1874. Silvery, high-piled clouds drifted across the deep blue sky above the garden’s dainty symmetry. The birds twittered in the boughs of the walnut tree, the fountain splashed among the irises, and the scent of the lilacs floated on the breeze, mingled, alas, with the smell of hot syrup from a sugar-factory nearby. To the astonishment of the staff, the Senator now often left his work during office hours, to pace up and down in the garden with his hands behind his back, or to work about, raking the gravel paths, tying up the rose-bushes, or dredging mud out of the fountain. His face, with its light eyebrows, seemed serious and attentive as he worked; but his thoughts travelled far away in the dark on their lonely, painful path.

Sometimes he seated himself on the little terrace, in the pavilion now entirely overgrown with green, and stared across the garden at the red brick rear wall of the house. The air was warm and sweet; it seemed as though the peaceful sounds about him strove to lull him to sleep. Weary of loneliness and silence and staring into space, he would close his eyes now and then, only to snatch them open and harshly frighten peace away. “I must think,” he said, almost aloud. “I must arrange everything before it is too late.”

He sat here one day, in the pavilion, in the little reed rocking-chair, and read for four hours, with growing absorption, in a book which had, partly by chance, come into his hands. After second breakfast, cigarette in mouth, he had unearthed it in the smoking-room, from behind some stately volumes in the corner of a bookcase, and recalled that he had bought it at a bargain one day years ago. It was a large volume, poorly printed on cheap paper and poorly sewed; the second part, only, of a famous philosophical system. He had brought it out with him into the garden, and now he turned the pages, profoundly interested.

He was filled with a great, surpassing satisfaction. It soothed him to see how a master-mind could lay hold on this strong, cruel, mocking thing called life and enforce it and condemn it. His was the gratification of the sufferer who has always had a bad conscience about his sufferings and concealed them from the gaze of a harsh, unsympathetic world, until suddenly, from the hand of an authority, he receives, as it were, justification and license for his suffering—justification before the world, this best of all possible worlds which the master-mind scornfully demonstrates to be the worst of all possible ones!

He did not understand it all. Principles and premises remained unclear, and his mind, unpractised in such reading, was not able to follow certain trains of thought. But this very alternation of vagueness and clarity, of dull incomprehension with sudden bursts of light, kept him enthralled and breathless, and the hours vanished without his looking up from his book or changing his position in his chair.

He had left some pages unread in the beginning of the book, and hurried on, clutching rapidly after the main thesis, reading only this or that section which held his attention. Then he struck on a comprehensive chapter and read it from beginning to end, his lips tightly closed and his brows drawn together with a concentration which had long been strange to him, completely withdrawn from the life about him. The chapter was called “On Death, and its Relation to our Personal Immortality.”

Only a few lines remained when the servant came through the garden at four o’clock to call him to dinner. He nodded, read the remaining sentences, closed the book, and looked about him. He felt that his whole being had unaccountably expanded, and at the same time there clung about his senses a profound intoxication, a strange, sweet, vague allurement which somehow resembled the feelings of early love and longing. He put away the book in the drawer of the garden table. His hands were cold and unsteady, his head was burning, and he felt in it a strange pressure and strain, as though something were about to snap. He was not capable of consecutive thought.

What was this? He asked himself the question as he mounted the stairs and sat down to table with his family. What is it? Have I had a revelation? What has happened to me, Thomas Buddenbrook, Councillor of this government, head of the grain firm of Johann Buddenbrook? Was this message meant for me? Can I bear it? I don’t know what it was: I only know it is too much for my poor brain.

He remained the rest of the day in this condition, this heavy lethargy and intoxication, overpowered by the heady draught he had drunk, incapable of thought. Evening came. His head was heavy, and since he could hold it up no longer, he went early to bed. He slept for three hours, more profoundly than ever before in his life. And, then, suddenly, abruptly, with a start, he awoke and felt as one feels on realizing, suddenly, a budding love in the heart.

He was alone in the large sleeping chamber; for Gerda slept now in Ida Jungmann’s room, and the latter had moved into one of the three balcony rooms to be nearer little Johann. It was dark, for the curtains of both high windows were tightly closed. He lay on his back, feeling the oppression of the stillness and of the heavy, warm air, and looked up into the darkness.

And behold, it was as though the darkness were rent from before his eyes, as if the whole wall of the night parted wide and disclosed an immeasurable, boundless prospect of light. “I shall live!” said Thomas Buddenbrook, almost aloud, and felt his breast shaken with inward sobs. “This is the revelation: that I shall live! For it will live—and that this it is not I is only an illusion, an error which death will make plain. This is it, this is it! Why?” But at this question the night closed in again upon him. He saw, he knew, he understood, no least particle more; he let himself sink deep in the pillows, quite blinded and exhausted by the morsel of truth which had been vouchsafed.

He lay still and waited fervently, feeling himself tempted to pray that it would come again and irradiate his darkness. And it came. With folded hands, not daring to move, he lay and looked.

What was Death? The answer came, not in poor, large-sounding words: he felt it within him, he possessed it. Death was a joy, so great, so deep that it could be dreamed of only in moments of revelation like the present. It was the return from an unspeakably painful wandering, the correction of a grave mistake, the loosening of chains, the opening of doors—it put right again a lamentable mischance.

End, dissolution! These were pitiable words, and thrice pitiable he who used them! What would end, what would dissolve? Why, this his body, this heavy, faulty, hateful incumbrance, which prevented him from being something other and better.

Was not every human being a mistake and a blunder? Was he not in painful arrest from the hour of his birth? Prison, prison, bonds and limitations everywhere! The human being stares hopelessly through the barred window of his personality at the high walls of outward circumstance, till Death comes and calls him home to freedom!

Individuality?—All, all that one is, can, and has, seems poor, grey, inadequate, wearisome; what one is not, can not, has not, that is what one looks at with a longing desire that becomes love because it fears to become hate.

I bear in myself the seed, the tendency, the possibility of all capacity and all achievement. Where should I be were I not here? Who, what, how could I be, if I were not I—if this my external self, my consciousness, did not cut me off from those who are not I? Organism! Blind, thoughtless, pitiful eruption of the urging will! Better, indeed, for the will to float free in spaceless, timeless night than for it to languish in prison, illumined by the feeble, flickering light of the intellect!

Have I hoped to live on in my son? In a personality yet more feeble, flickering, and timorous than my own? Blind, childish folly! What can my son do for me—what need have I of a son? Where shall I be when I am dead? Ah, it is so brilliantly clear, so overwhelmingly simple! I shall be in all those who have ever, do ever, or ever shall say “I”—especially, however, in all those who say it most fully, potently, and gladly!

Somewhere in the world a child is growing up, strong, well-grown, adequate, able to develop its powers, gifted, untroubled, pure, joyous, relentless, one of those beings whose glance heightens the joy of the joyous and drives the unhappy to despair. He is my son. He is I, myself, soon, soon; as soon as Death frees me from the wretched delusion that I am not he as well as myself.

Have I ever hated life—pure, strong, relentless life? Folly and misconception! I have but hated myself, because I could not bear it. I love you, I love you all, you blessed, and soon, soon, I shall cease to be cut off from you all by the narrow bonds of myself; soon will that in me which loves you be free and be in and with you—in and with you all.

He wept, he pressed his face into the pillows and wept, shaken through and through, lifted up in transports by a joy without compare for its exquisite sweetness. This it was which since yesterday had filled him as if with a heady, intoxicating draught, had worked in his heart in the darkness of the night and roused him like a budding love! And in so far as he could now understand and recognize—not in words and consecutive thoughts, but in sudden rapturous illuminations of his inmost being—he was already free, already actually released and free of all natural as well as artificial limitations. The walls of his native town, in which he had wilfully and consciously shut himself up, opened out; they opened and disclosed to his view the entire world, of which he had in his youth seen this or that small portion, and of which Death now promised him the whole. The deceptive perceptions of space, time and history, the preoccupation with a glorious historical continuity of life in the person of his own descendants, the dread of some future final dissolution and decomposition—all this his spirit now put aside. He was no longer prevented from grasping eternity. Nothing began, nothing left off. There was only an endless present; and that power in him which loved life with a love so exquisitely sweet and yearning—the power of which his person was only the unsuccessful expression—that power would always know how to find access to this present.

“I shall live,” he whispered into his pillow. He wept, and in the next moment knew not why. His brain stood still, the vision was quenched. Suddenly there was nothing more—he lay in dumb darkness. “It will come back,” he assured himself. And before sleep inexorably wrapped him round, he swore to himself never to let go this precious treasure, but to read and study, to learn its powers, and to make inalienably his own the whole conception of the universe out of which his vision sprang.

But that could not be. Even the next day, as he woke with a faint feeling of shame at the emotional extravagances of the night, he suspected that it would be hard to put these beautiful designs into practice.

He rose late and had to go at once to take part in the debate at an assembly of burgesses. Public business, the civic life that went on in the gabled narrow streets of this middle-sized trading city, consumed his energies once more. He still planned to take up the wonderful reading again where he had left it off. But he questioned of himself whether the events of that night had been anything firm and permanent; whether, when Death approached, they would be found to hold their ground.

His middle-class instincts rose against them—and his vanity, too: the fear of being eccentric, of playing a laughable rôle. Had he really seen these things? And did they really become him—him, Thomas Buddenbrook, head of the firm of Johann Buddenbrook?

He never succeeded in looking again into the precious volume—to say nothing of buying its other parts. His days were consumed by nervous pedantry: harassed by a thousand details, all of them unimportant, he was too weak-willed to arrive at a reasonable and fruitful arrangement of his time. Nearly two weeks after that memorable afternoon he gave it up—and ordered the maid-servant to fetch the book from the drawer in the garden table and replace it in the bookcase.

And thus Thomas Buddenbrook, who had held his hands stretched imploringly upward toward the high ultimate truth, sank now weakly back to the images and conceptions of his childhood. He strove to call back that personal God, the Father of all human beings, who had sent a part of Himself upon earth to suffer and bleed for our sins, and who, on the final day, would come to judge the quick and the dead; at whose feet the justified, in the course of the eternity then beginning, would be recompensed for the sorrows they had borne in this vale of tears. Yes, he strove to subscribe to the whole confused unconvincing story, which required no intelligence, only obedient credulity; and which, when the last anguish came, would sustain one in a firm and childlike faith.—But would it, really?

Ah, even here there was no peace. This poor, well-nigh exhausted man, consumed with gnawing fears for the honour of his house, his wife, his child, his name, his family, this man who spent painful effort even to keep his body artificially erect and well-preserved—this poor man tortured himself for days with thoughts upon the moment and manner of death. How would it really be? Did the soul go to Heaven immediately after death, or did bliss first begin with the resurrection of the flesh? And, if so, where did the soul stay until that time? He did not remember ever having been taught this. Why had he not been told this important fact in school or in church? How was it justifiable for them to leave people in such uncertainty? He considered visiting Pastor Pringsheim and seeking advice and counsel; but he gave it up in the end for fear of being ridiculous.

And finally he gave it all up—he left it all to God. But having come to such an unsatisfactory ending of his attempts to set his spiritual affairs in order, he determined at least to spare no pains over his earthly ones, and to carry out a plan which he had long entertained.

One day little Johann heard his father tell his mother, as they drank their coffee in the living-room after the midday meal, that he expected Lawyer So-and-So to make his will. He really ought not to keep on putting it off. Later, in the afternoon, Hanno practised his music for an hour. When he went down the corridor after that, he met, coming up the stairs, his father and a gentleman in a long black overcoat.

“Hanno,” said the Senator, curtly. And little Johann stopped, swallowed, and said quickly and softly: “Yes, Papa.”

“I have some important business with this gentleman,” his father went on. “Will you stand before the door into the smoking-room and take care that nobody—absolutely nobody, you understand—disturbs us?”

“Yes, Pap,” said little Johann, and took up his post before the door, which closed after the two gentlemen.

He stood there, clutching his sailor’s knot with one hand, felt with his tongue for a doubtful tooth, and listened to the earnest subdued voices which could be heard from inside. His head, with the curling light-brown hair, he held on one side, and his face with the frowning brows and blue-shadowed, gold-brown eyes, wore that same displeased and brooding look with which he had inhaled the odour of the flowers, and that other strange, yet half-familiar odour, by his grandmother’s bier.

Ida Jungmann passed and said, “Well, little Hanno, why are you hanging about here?”

And the hump-backed apprentice came out of the office with a telegram, and asked for the Senator.

But, both times, little Johann put his arm in its blue sailor sleeve with the anchor on it horizontally across the door; both times he shook his head and said softly, after a pause, “No one may go in. Papa is making his will.”