Buddenbrooks Chapter Seven

She had put on her big straw hat, and she raised her sunshade; for it was very hot, though there was a little sea-breeze. Young Schwarzkopf, in his grey felt, book in hand, walked beside her and sometimes gave her a shy side-glance. They went along the front and walked through the garden of the Kurhouse, which lay there in the sun shadeless and still, with its rose-bushes and pebbly paths. The music pavilion, hidden among pine trees, stood opposite the Kurhouse, the pastry-cook’s, and the two Swiss cottages, which were connected by a long gallery. It was about half-past eleven, and the hotel guests were probably down on the beach.

They crossed the playground, where there were many benches and a large swing, passed close to the building where one took the hot baths, and strolled slowly across the Leuchtenfeld. The sun brooded over the grass, and there rose up a spicy smell from the warm weeds and clover; blue-bottle flies buzzed and droned about. A dull, booming roar came up from the ocean, whose waters now and then lifted a crested head of spray in the distance.

“What is that you are reading?” Tony asked. The young man took the book in both hands and ran it quickly through, from cover to cover.

“Oh, that is nothing for you, Fräulein Buddenbrook. Nothing but blood and entrails and such awful things. This part treats of nodes in the lungs. What we call pulmonary catarrh. The lungs get filled up with a watery fluid. It is a very dangerous condition, and occurs in inflammation of the lungs. In bad cases, the patient simply chokes to death. And that is all described with perfect coolness, from a scientific point of view.”

“Oh, horrors! But if one wants to be a doctor—I will see that you become our family physician, when old Grabow retires. You’ll see!”

“Ha, ha! And what are you reading, if I may ask, Fräulein Buddenbrook?”

“Do you know Hoffmann?” Tony asked.

“About the choir-master, and the gold pot? Yes, that’s very pretty. But it is more for ladies. Men want something different, you know.”

“I must ask you one thing,” Tony said, taking a sudden resolution, after they had gone a few steps. “And that is, do, I beg of you, tell me your first name. I haven’t been able to understand it a single time I’ve heard it, and it is making me dreadfully nervous. I’ve simply been racking my brains—I have, quite.”

“You have been racking your brains?”

“Now don’t make it worse—I’m sure it couldn’t have been proper for me to ask, only I’m naturally curious. There’s really no reason whatever why I should know.”

“Why, my name is Morten,” said he, and became redder than ever.

“Morten? That is a nice name.”


“Yes, indeed. At least, it’s prettier than to be called something like Hinz, or Kunz. It is unusual; it sounds foreign.”

“You are romantic, Fräulein Buddenbrook. You have read too much Hoffmann. My grandfather was half Norwegian, and I was named after him. That is all there is to it.”

Tony picked her way through the rushes on the edge of the beach. In front of them was a row of round-topped wooden pavilions, and beyond they could see the basket-chairs at the water’s edge and people camped by families on the warm sand—ladies with blue sun-spectacles and books out of the loan-library; gentlemen in light suits idly drawing pictures in the sand with their walking-sticks; sun-burnt children in enormous straw hats, tumbling about, shovelling sand, digging for water, baking with wooden moulds, paddling bare-legged in the shallow pools, floating little ships. To the right, the wooden bathing-pavilion ran out into the water.

“We are going straight across to Möllendorpf’s pier,” said Tony. “Let’s turn off.”

“Certainly; but don’t you want to meet your friends? I can sit down yonder on those boulders.”

“Well, I suppose I ought to just greet them. But I don’t want to, you know. I came here to be in peace and quiet.”

“Peace? From what?”


“Listen, Fräulein Buddenbrook. I must ask you something. No, I’ll wait till another day—till we have more time. Now I will say au revoir and go and sit down there on the rocks.”

“Don’t you want me to introduce you, then?” Tony asked, importantly.

“Oh, no,” Morten said, hastily. “Thanks, but I don’t fit very well with those people, you see. I’ll just sit down over there on the rocks.”

It was a rather large company which Tony was approaching while Morten Schwarzkopf betook himself to the great heap of boulders on the right, near to the bathing-house and washed by the waves. The party was encamped before the Möllendorpfs’ pier, and was composed of the Möllendorpf, Hagenström, Kistenmaker, and Fritsche families. Except for Herr Fritsche, the owner, from Hamburg, and Peter Döhlmann, the idler, the group consisted of women, for it was a week-day, and most of the men were in their offices. Consul Fritsche, an elderly, smooth-shaven gentleman with a distinguished face, was up on the open pier, busy with a telescope, which he trained upon a sailboat visible in the distance. Peter Döhlmann, with a broad-brimmed straw hat and a beard with a nautical cut, stood chatting with the ladies perched on camp-stools or stretched out on rugs on the sand. There were Frau Senator Möllendorpf, born Langhals, with her long-handled lorgnon and untidy grey hair; Frau Hagenström, with Julchen, who had not grown much, but already wore diamonds in her ears, like her mother; Frau Consul Kistenmaker and her daughters; and Frau Consul Fritsche, a wrinkled little lady in a cap, who performed the duties of hospitality at the bath and went about perpetually hot and tired, thinking only about balls and routs and raffles, children’s parties and sailboat excursions. At a little distance sat her paid companion.

Kistenmaker and Son was the new firm of wine-merchants which had, in the last few years, managed to put C. F. Köppen rather in the shade. The two sons, Edouard and Stephan, worked in their father’s office. Consul Döhlmann possessed none of those graces of manner upon which Justus Kröger laid such stress. He was an idler pure and simple, whose special characteristic was a sort of rough good humour. He could and did take a good many liberties in society, being quite aware that his loud, brusque voice and bluff ways caused the ladies to set him down as an original. Once at a dinner at the Buddenbrooks’, when a course failed to come in promptly and the guests grew dull and the hostess flustered, he came to the rescue and put them into a good humour by bellowing in his big voice the whole length of the table: “Please don’t wait for me, Frau Consul!” Just now, in this same reverberating voice, he was relating questionable anecdotes seasoned with low-German idioms. Frau Senator Möllendorpf, in paroxysms of laughter, was crying out over and over again: “Stop, Herr Döhlmann, stop! for heaven’s sake, don’t tell any more.”

They greeted Tony—the Hagenströms coldly, the others with great cordiality. Consul Fritsche even came down the steps of the pier, for he hoped that the Buddenbrooks would return next year to swell the population of the baths.

“Yours to command, Fräulein Buddenbrook,” said Consul Döhlmann, with his very best pronunciation; for he was aware that Mademoiselle did not especially care for his manners.

“Mademoiselle Buddenbrook!”

“You here?”

“How lovely!”

“When did you come?”

“What a sweet frock!”

“Where are you stopping?”

“At the Schwarzkopfs’?”

“With the pilot-captain? How original!”

“How frightfully original.”

“You are stopping in the town?” asked Consul Fritsche, the owner of the baths. He did not betray that he felt the blow.

“Will you come to our next assembly?” his wife asked.

“Oh, you are only here for a short time?”—this from another lady.

“Don’t you think, darling, the Buddenbrooks rather give themselves airs?” Frau Hagenström whispered to Frau Senator Möllendorpf.

“Have you been in yet?” somebody asked. “Which of the rest of you hasn’t bathed yet, young ladies? Marie? Julie, Louise? Your friends will go bathing with you, of course, Fräulein Antonie.” Some of the young girls rose, and Peter Döhlmann insisted on accompanying them up the beach.

“Do you remember how we used to go back and forth to school together?” Tony asked Julie Hagenström.

“Yes, and you were always the one that got into mischief,” Julie said, joining in her laugh. They went across the beach on a foot-bridge made of a few boards, and reached the bathhouse. As they passed the boulders where Morten Schwarzkopf sat, Tony nodded to him from a distance, and somebody asked, “who is that you are bowing to, Tony?”

“That was young Schwarzkopf,” Tony answered. “He walked down here with me.”

“The son of the pilot-captain?” Julchen asked, and peered across at Morten with her staring black eyes. He on his side watched the gay troop with rather a melancholy air. Tony said in a loud voice: “What a pity August is not here. It must be stupid on the beach.”