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noticed how like she was to what she had been described. There had been a period in the telling of the story when her face had been closely shaded by her hand; her husband had given her one swift glance, and then had kept his eyes steadily away from her. It is all very nice of your uncle,' she said, 'and very clever, to have written this all down and then to bring it against me. I was obliged to ask for luncheon that day as a diversion, or he would never have done staring at me. I shall write my version now-ready for next Valentine's, if you like; then you'll see what a goose he sometimes made of himself.'
'Appearances, my dear; do think of appearances,' laughed Mr. Duke. 'Ferrers,' so sharply as to bring Ferrers round as sharply; 'had you any valentine to-day besides what the postman brought and those delivered at the door?'
Ferrers turned scarlet, and, singularly to relate, so did Flo.
'Ay, we laugh,' said Gurnel Duke, more drily still. And, sure enough, we all did fill up the pause with laughter-all except Flo and young Ferrers.
And that is the story I heard told over the fire at the country house where I was staying.
A MONTH'S SOJOURN AT WILDBAD.
turn a whole
series of the German Bads and Brünnens in the anxious quest of health, I resolved to repair to that most out-of-the-way resort for invalids, Wildbad-a spot far in the recesses of the Black Forest, where, nestled many many feet above the level of the sea, it rests in the shade and perfume of the pines. It is one of those places which, but for its hot springs, would probably have remained a village unknown to all Europeans save the Würtemburgers, for it is in the way to nowhere; and such an air of tristeness is there about it that the ordinary traveller would hasten through it, as a train does through a tunnel, rather than loiter in its cheerless solitudes. I never shall forget the strong sense of depression, bordering on melancholy, that I felt, and seemed to feel increasing as I drew near this most lonely retreat. Not the sun, as he shone down in all his splendour, nor the lively mountain torrent, as it hurried past me, no, nor yet the merry chirping of the feathered tribe, of which there was abundance, seemed to mitigate, at least to me, the gloom of the locality. Everything, on the contrary, wore, to my mind's eye, a funereal aspect. That sombre, unbroken mantle of pine forest, as it lay stretched along the hill-tops, looked like an extensive pall. The dress of the peasantry had something dismal about it. The oxen and the sheep were supplied with bells, whose notes resembled death-knells, while the very tread of these dumb creatures was solemn enough for the saddest of all ceremonials. But, after a spell of suffering one is prepared to forego all other considerations for the single one of health; and, martyr as I had been for months to rheumatic pains and aches, my mind was quite made up for any season of privation and self-denial that might help to rid me of my tormentor; so that, had Wildbad been tenfold as triste, I should have repaired to it and willingly spent there the period allotted for a cure. Accordingly, when I
drove up to the door of the capital hotel (de l'Ours), it was with the determination to undergo at least a month of it; and I had certainly no reason to regret, when I came away, my sojourn in this lonely village. I have applied without hesitation the term capital' to the inn where I took up my quarters, knowing well that my passing word of encomium will be endorsed by all who have lodged at Klumpp's Hotel. How scrupulously clean the house itself! How excellent the fare! And then the landlord-poor fellow! since gone to his rest-what a model of a host was he, and how keen his appreciation of the English character! Three other large hotels there are, kept going solely by folks who come to bathe-'Kurgasts,' as the Germans call them-all full to overflowing in the season, one year being much the same as another, and no such thing being known as an abatement in the supply of visitors. The Government, too-that is to say, the King-must be making a good thing out of these same Kurgasts, for the springs and the baths are royal property, and every farthing you pay for the privilege of dipping goes into the royal coffers. These springs, like most of the hot-spring family, undertake to do great things, and to cure a whole multitude of the maladies to which humanity is subject. Not gout and rheumatism alone, by any means, but divers more disorders, are said to lie within the grasp of their healing power. Every form of nervous or cutaneous infirmity, and every kind of weakness, including even certain types of the cerebral, can, it is affirmel, be cured or alleviated by these wonder-working waters; and here, as elsewhere, traditions are abundant of the little short of miraculous achievements of this, modern Bethesda. The crowds that are said to have come to Wildbad upon crutches, and to have left those articles behind them on taking their departure, are so numerous that enough should by this time have accumulated to supply every cripple
in Europe with a pair; and if some speculative man has not already turned this fact to profitable account, here assuredly is an opening for those disposed to deal wholesale in these appliances. Droll anecdotes are likewise told of invalids who have carried off another cure, different entirely from the one sought, the springs having seemingly taken in hand the wrong complaint and dealt effectively with it. A paralytic, I was assured, who had come to Wildbad with one eye fast closed, had gone away with both wide open, though such had not been his aim in bathing. His limbs were what he hoped would benefit; but his hopes, alas! in this respect, were doomed to disappointment, and the poor fellow returned home limping as he came. Powerless to effect the restoration desired, the springs did for him what they could, and gave him back his eye. The Wildbad doctors accordingly rarely if ever turn away an intending Kurgast. 'Give the waters,' they say, 'by all means a trial; they must benefit you somehow. If they don't cure this they will, perhaps, cure something else you may have wrong about you. Your sufferings, moreover, may be but symptoms, and these springs attack, not the symptoms but the disorders that cause them; so be not disheartened if you do not experience immediate relief. Slow, though thorough, is the cure; and it matters not though symptoms linger for a space, when we know the cause is disappearing.'
The Kurgasts have the option of bathing in public or in private. Of course aristocrats prefer the more exclusive system, and give a wide berth to the crowd. If, however, you have a fancy for the public bath the doctors must first examine you, to see whether you are physically eligible for the company of other bathers. Certain distempers disqualify you for mingling with your fellows in the water; and if your skin, for instance, happens to be in an unhealthy state, your dips must be in private. Being of a sociable turn I went in for the public bath, my infirmities belonging happily to the incommunicable class, and so VOL. XV.-NO. LXXXVII.
not such as to render me a dangerous companion. The public bath consists of a chamber, I should say, at a guess, some twenty feet by twenty, surrounded by a number of dressing and drying cells, the doors of which open into the water. At a depth of about two feet there is a soft bed of red sand, quite level, and very pleasant to the feel; and every here and there a crop of bubbles may be seen rising from the bottom, that indicate the position of the numerous springs from which the bath is constantly replenished.
Habited in the regular bathing garment, I slipped in from my cell, the water feeling nice and warm; and though I cannot appeal to Fahrenheit or Centigrade for figures, the temperature must be somewhat over that of the blood, otherwise a chill would be experienced. All above the surface of the water is a mist, the vapour rising thickly to the roof, from whence, again, it keeps perpetually falling in big, cold drops upon the bathers' heads. To swim in water so shallow is, of course, out of the question; so you sit still on the sandy bottom, watching through the fog the hands of the clock to tell you when the time is up. Thus, with three parts of the body in the water, and about one-fourth enveloped in steam, the bather passes the half-hour or the hour prescribed in his case, inhaling all the while the mist surrounding him, and thus securing for tho water an internal as well as an external form of application. Some dozen or so of afflicted fellow-mortals were already in the bath before me, on most of whom were looks that told of pain, while others seemed so hearty and well-favoured as to render their ailments matters of conjecture to the uninformed beholder. Amongst these latter was a burly Frenchman, who, despite my disguise, detected at a glance my nationality.
'You air from England, sair,' observed the discerning Mussoo.
'Yes, I am; but how did you guess that? Certainly not from my dress.'
Ha! I do alvays know an Englishman ven I see him.
'Have you mixed much with my countrymen, then, that you recognize them so readily?'
'I haif been in England, and I haif lairnt de English langvidge; but I haif not so mush mix vid de English gentlemans.'
Not when you were in England?'
'Non, sair, I maked not many friends ven I vos dair, for two raisons: vun vas because I not speak de langvidge so vell as I do now, and de oder because I find de Englishmans so ver vat you call-sais pas-'
'Ah! I know what you mean. Your countrymen all complain of finding us so very dry?'
'Dry, dry! Non, ma foi! non. I not mean dry, not at all. I find it much more damp dan France. De greater number of days it did rain, and ven it not rain it maked such terrible-how you call-brouillard ?'
'You do not understand me, I see. I did not mean dry, exactly; I meant that you found us so distant,'
'Vat! distant? Oh, non! de distance vas noting. I did cross from Calais, and in less dan two hours I vos in England.'
I saw it was a hopeless business; so abandoning the subject of English peculiarities, I went into matters of more immediate interest.
'Have you derived much benefit from the Wildbad waters?'
'I could vish dat I could tell you. It is my hope de benefit is coming, yet I feel it not.'
'But you do not seem much like an invalid; do you suffer much pain?'
'Non, sair; I haif no pains. I suffer in de nerfs; I haif ver strange feelings. I tink odd tings and I hear odd tings, and sometimes I see odd tings, ven dair is noting at all. I cannot expleek it, not to no one. It is all in de nerfs, all in de nerfs.'
'Does the doctor say the waters are likely to do you good?'
'Oh, yes! He says I shall be better ver soon, and after I am gone away, den I shall find most de bene
Oder doctors haif told me just de same.'
'Then you have tried other remedies before coming to Wildbad?'
'Yes, I have tried ver many. Every year I do make a tour of de Bads. I come from Viesbad, I go on from Vilbad to Loèche, vair one bades all de day in de vater; from dair I go to Karlsbad. Afterwards I shall try de grape cure at (I have forgotten the name of the place), and den my doctor chez moi at Paris, he says it will be time for me to come back to him for de vinter.'
Ah! thought I, doctors are much the same everywhere. The Paris practitioners are, apparently, no better than their brethren on this side of the Channel. To trade upon the fancies and delusions of the weakminded is clearly one of the recognised arts of the faculty. My nervous friend was but a representative man, one out of a numerous class who are as good as so much a year regularly to their medical advisers. A story is told of a somewhat hippish old lady, a resident of Brighton, who on mentioning to her doctor her intention of visiting Cheltenham for a season, the latter gave her a letter of introduction to a medical friend of his at the latter place, purporting to enter at the same time into an elaborate diagnosis of her case with a specification of the treatment she would need. The lady, however, changed her mind, and went elsewhere instead of to Cheltenham, and curiosity having tempted her to open her doctor's letter, it was found to run as follows:
'DEAR—The bearer of this note is a rich old dame who bleeds freely. Keep her a month or so, and then be sure and send her back to me, as she is one of my best in vestments.-Yours, &c.'
And no doubt the Paris physician appreciated equally the prize he had in this stout Frenchman. I had, almost daily, interviews with this interesting individual, in the course of which the notions he divulged to me touching the peculiarities of England and the English were highly entertaining. Amongst the rest, he shared the conviction which
I have heard freely expressed abroad, that one half our population dies of consumption and the other half of gout; that what conduces to the former malady is the excessive dampness of the English climate, and that the only refuge from its baneful effects consists in imbibing plentifully the strongest alcoholic liquors. Porter, gin, and whisky are, accordingly, the antidotes in vogue amongst the masses; port wine and brandy the specifics with the upper ten. Unfortunately, however, these potent remedies, if taken in sufficient quantities, have a tendency to bring on the gout; such is the theory with foreigners; so it comes to this, that we unhappy Englishmen have the option either of drinking hard and paying the penalty in gout, or, should we prefer abstaining, consumption stares us in the face as the alternative.
But to return to the bath. It is in their wonderfully soothing power that the excellency of the Wildbad waters consists, and to this property is to be attributed any efficacy they possess in complaints arising from irritation of the nervous system. My own experience of their effects in this respect quite confirmed the reputation that had reached me of their soothing virtue. A sense of pleasant languor, and a strong tendency to drowsiness, invariably follows an hour's immersion; and on coming from the bath, you are directed to lie down for a while till this wears off, resisting vigorously the inclination to fall asleep. What is dreaded if you yield to this temptation I forget, but I remember finding Morpheus too many for me, and despite my arming myself with book or newspaper, he defied and overcame me again and again. The doctor told me this would never do. Some anti-soporific must be had recourse to, otherwise-well, so he suggested by way of a preventive measure that I should be rubbed down or shampooed for a full halfhour after returning to my room: 'And who is to shampoo me?' inquired I. 'I will send Professor
to you. He is very skilful in the operation,' was the doctor's reply. That term 'Professor,' to
which we in England attach so important a significance, is a common enough title all over Fatherland, every man assuming it who has become familiar with the smallest of sciences, and pursues it as an avocation. An instructor in calisthenics or an operator upon corns would each be dubbed professors of their respective arts. I did not as yet know what ordinary folks Professors' were in these localities, so when my doctor talked of sending a live professor to shampoo me, it was with feelings of mingled awe and hesitation that I consented to be manipulated by this important personage-feelings which the suspicion of a heavy fee being demanded after each visit did not tend to mitigate. But I might have spared myself all my misgivings in the matter, for on the said professor making his appearance, he proved to be a most unformidable individual, and thankful for the douceur of a few kreutzers when he had done handling me. I noticed, however, while his garments were most unpretending, he wore a very smart blue cap with a gold-lace band upon it, broad enough for a post captain of our navy, the gay article contrasting oddly with the rest of the professor's homely garb. I felt there must be some meaning in that cap, and time after time, as he appeared with it, I lived in hope some light might be thrown thereon; at last I grew irrepressibly inquisitive, and asked him the question point blank. What cap is that I see you wear?' The man had spent some years in America, and, saving the odious nasal twang, spoke English admirably, so our dialogues were always in that language.
'That cap,' said he, 'is given me by my government, and I wear it by virtue of my office.'
'Indeed! Then you are in government employ? what may your office be?'
'I am chief overseer of the Brünnen's deputy, &c., &c.' This was about half the man's title, which, in spite of my utter inability to comprehend the nature of the office, I had for some time off quite pat, as I made him repeat it every time he