MoboReader> Literature > The Wisdom of Father Brown

   Chapter 3 No.3

The Wisdom of Father Brown By G. K. Chesterton Characters: 12212

Updated: 2017-12-04 00:03


The next episode to her grim humor was wholly amusing, although it played its part in her developing sense of revolt against the attitude of the German male to the sex of the mother that bore him. She returned to Munich after a month in Berlin, for by this time she had made up her mind to write, and the city by the Isar was the most beautiful in the world to write and to dream in. Moreover, she wished to attend the lectures on drama at the University.

The four years in America, during which she had, in spite of her sentimental preoccupation, studied diligently every phase that passed before her keen critical vision, analyzed every person she had met, and passed many of her evenings in the study of the best contemporary fiction, had, associated with the spur of her own upheaval, developed her imagination, and her head was full of unwritten stories. They were highly realistic, of course, as became a modern German, but unmistakably dramatic.

She attended the lectures, practising on short stories meanwhile, devoting most of her effort to becoming a stylist, that she might attain immediate recognition whatever her matter. She lived in a small but comfortable hotel, for not only had she saved the greater part of her salary, but the Bolands, however oblivious socially of a paid attendant, had a magnificent way with them at Christmas, and had given her an even larger cheque at parting.

In Munich she was once more Gisela D?ring, once more led the student life. There are liberties even for people of rank in Munich, and many nobles, exasperated with the rigid class lines of Berlin and other German capitals, move there, and, while careful to attend court functions, make intelligent friends in all sets. They are, or were, the happiest people in Germany. Here Gisela could sit alone in a café by the hour reading the illustrated papers and smoking with her coffee, attracting no attention whatever. She joined parties of students during the summer and tramped the Bavarian Alps, and she danced all night at student balls. Nevertheless, she managed to hold herself somewhat aloof and it was understood that she did not live the "loose" life of the "artist class." She was much admired for her stately beauty and her style, and if the young people of that free and easy community were at times inclined to resent a manifest difference, they succumbed to her magnetism, and respected her obvious devotion to a high literary ideal.

It was during her second winter that she met Georg Zottmyer.

He was a tall, narrow, angular young man with a small clipped head and pre?minent ears. His narrow face was set with narrower features, and his eyes were very bright, and the windows of his conceit. Although his income was minute he boasted a father of note in the University of Leipzig, and his mother had traveled and written a scathing satire on the United States of America. He had not a grain of originality or imagination, but he too was taking the course in dramatic art, and reading for that degree without whose magic letters he could not hope to take his place in the world of art to which his parts entitled him. He met Gisela in the lecture room and immediately became her cavalier.

At first Gisela endeavored to get rid of him by an icy front, but this he took for feminine coquetry and his own front was serene. As he had made up his mind to be a dramatist merely because the career appealed acutely to his itching ambition, so did he in due course make up his mind to marry this handsome brunette (what hair he had was drab) who bore all the earmarks of secret wealth in spite of the fact that she lived in a small hotel. As time went on, Gisela resigned herself and put his little ego under her microscope.

His wooing was methodical. He not only walked home with her after every lecture, but he gave her a series of teas in his high little flat, and he really did know "people." His parental introductions had given him the entrée to the professional circles, and he cultivated society both semi-fashionable and ultra-literary. He knew no one who had not "arrived."

He chose an unpropitious day for a tentative declaration of his intentions. It was very cold. White mufflers protected his outstanding ears, a gray woolen scarf was wound about his long neck and almost covered his tight little mouth. He wore mitts and wristlets, and his nose was crimson. Gisela, in a new set of furs, sent her for Christmas by Mariette, and a smart gown of wine-colored cloth, looked radiant. Her dark eyes shone with joy in the cold electric air of that high plateau, her cheeks were red, her warm full-lipped mouth was parted over her even white teeth. They walked from the University down the great Leopoldstrasse, one of the finest streets in Europe, toward the Café Luitpold, where he had invited her to drink coffee.

There was little conversation during that brisk walk. He was frozen, and she was not thinking of him at all. At the café he selected an alcove as far from the noisy groups of students as possible. All the "trees" were hung with colored caps and the atmosphere was dense with smoke.

Zottmyer, who, after all, was young, soon thawed out in the warm room, and when he had cheered his interior with a large cup of hot coffee and lit a cigarette, he brought up the subject of matrimony. He had no intention of proposing in these surroundings, but it was time to pave the way-or set the pattern of the tiling; he cultivated the divergent phrase.

"It is time I married," he announced, and, not to appear too serious, he smiled into her glowing face. She looked happy enough to encourage a man far less fatuous than Georg Zottmyer.

"Yes?" Gisela's eyes had wandered to the nearest group of students and she was wondering if they might not have made handsome men had they permitted their duel wounds to heal instead of excoriating them with salt and pepper. "Most German men marry young."

"I am not conventional. I should not dream of marrying unless I found a young lady who possessed everything that I demand in a wife."

"Ah? What then do you

demand?"

"Everything."

"That is a large order. What do you mean, exactly."

"I mean, of course, that I should not marry a woman who did not have in the first place beauty, that I might be proud of her in public, besides refreshing myself with the sight of her in private. She must have beauty of figure as well as of face, as I detest our dumpy type of German women. And she must have style, and dress well. It would mortify me to death, particularly after I had made my position, to go about with one of those wives that seem to fall to the lot of most intellectuals. Soft-waisted, bulging women," he added spitefully, "how I hate them!"

"Your taste is admirable. Our women are much too careless, particularly after marriage. And the second requirement?"

"Oh, a small fortune, at least. I could not afford to marry, otherwise, and although I shall no doubt make a large income in due course, I must begin well. I prefer a house, as it gives an artist a more serious and dignified position."

"Indeed, yes."

"And of course my wife must be of good birth, as good as my own. I should never dream of marrying even a Venus in this Bohemian class. That sort of thing is all very well-" He waved his hand, and arched an eyebrow, and Gisela inferred she was to take quite a number of amours for granted; much, for instance, as she would those of a handsome officer who sat alone at the next table and who looked infinitely bored with love and longing for war.

"She must-it goes without saying-be intellectual, clever, bright, amusing. I must have companionship. Not an artist, however. I should never permit my wife to write or model or sing for the public. And she must have the social talent, magnetism, the power to charm whom she will. That would help me infinitely in my career."

"Is that all?"

"Oh, she must be affectionate and a good housekeeper, but most German women have the domestic virtues. Naturally, she must have perfect health. I detest women with nerves and moods."

Gisela had been leaning forward, her elbows on the table, her little square chin on her hands, and if there were wondering contempt in her eyes he saw only their brilliance and fixed regard.

"And what, may I ask, do you purpose to give her in return for all that?"

He flicked the ashes from his cigarette, and the gesture was quite without affectation. "What has that to do with it?"

"Well-only-you think, then, that in return for all-but all!-that a woman has to offer a man-any man-you should not feel yourself bound to give her an equal measure in return?"

"I have not given the matter a thought. Naturally the woman I select will see all in me that I see in her. Shall we get out of this? I feel I have taken a cold. Fresh air is a drastic but efficient corrective."

He escorted her to her hotel, although he gazed longingly down his own street as they passed it. His head felt overburdened and it was awkward manipulating a handkerchief with mitts.

Within half a block of the hotel Gisela, who had been walking rapidly, bending a little against the wind, paused and drew herself up to her stately height. Cold as he was he thrilled slightly as he reflected that she possessed real distinction; almost she might be hochwohlgeboren-yes, quite. He tingled less agreeably as he recalled a snub administered by a great lady with whom he had presumed to attempt conversation at the house of a liberal little Russian baroness. This woman would snub any hochwohlgeboren who presumed to snub him in the future.

"Herr Zottmyer," said Gisela, and her tones were as crisp as the air blowing down from the Alps, "you must permit me to give you a note of introduction to my mother when you go to Berlin next week. I hope you will find time to call on her."

Zottmyer's eyes snapped at this covert encouragement, although it was rather forward in a German girl practically to ask a man his intentions. "I shall be delighted to call on Frau D?rmer-"

"Countess Niebuhr. I have practised a little innocent deception here in Munich-for obvious reasons. Also, during my four years' sojourn in America-"

"In America?" His brain, a fine, concentrated, Teutonic organ, strove to grapple with two ideas at once. "You have been in America!"

"Rather. I feel half an American. You have no idea how it changed my point of view-oh, but in many ways! The men, you see, are so different from ours. The American woman has a magnificent position-"

"Ridiculous, uppish, spoilt creatures-"

"But how delicious to be spoiled. You will call on my mother?"

Zottmyer almost choked. "I hate the Prussians-above all, that arrogant junker class. And the name of Niebuhr!-why, it stands for all that junkerdom means in its most virulent form!"

"I am afraid it does. My brothers are junkers unalloyed. But I can assure you that my mother is as democratic as one may be in Berlin. She has quite a number of friends among the intellectuals-"

"Would she consent to your marriage with a-a-mere intellectual?"

"What has that to do with it! It would never occur to me to marry out of my own class. That is always a mistake. There are, you see,-well-subtle differences that forbid harmony-"

"You are a snob. I might have seen it before this. You give yourself airs-" He was now so torn between fury and disappointment, mortification and Teutonic resentment at being obliged to diverge abruptly from precisely thought-out tactics, that he forgot his physical discomfort-and incidentally to use his handkerchief.

"A snob? When I am true to the best traditions of my race? Did you not tell me that you would not marry a Venus if she happened to be born outside of your own class? But it is rather cold here-not? Shall I send the note of introduction to your flat?"

"I would not put my foot in any supercilious junker palace, and I never wish to see you again!" He whirled about, burying his nose in his handkerchief, and tore down the street.

Gisela laughed, but with little amusement. Her sympathy for German women took a long stride. But she forgot him a few moments later at her desk.

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares