After the demonstration in Villa Elsa against America, Anderson was gratified by this proof of his contentions. While Kirtley admitted the force in the argument that this excited and confident condition of feeling among the common German people pointed toward hostilities, he could not really believe that such a horror would break forth upon Europe. There was the Hague Convention
At his morning drill his sergeant had knocked him down by a blow in the face and then kicked him in the knee. The little philosopher was a good deal of a dreamer and had failed in strict and prompt attention. To strike down and boot the rank and file are, of course, a normal part of Prussian army discipline. Kirtley was incensed, horrified. But to his amazement the family sided with the officer.
Kirtley readily perceived that he had scarcely sufficient precise information to discuss intelligently general topics with this boy. The latter could always quote some acknowledged and ponderous authority German, of course, and all the more awe-inspiring, but of whom Gard had not heard. For it usually came down to the question, Who are your authorities? He rarely could tell who his were.
Kirtley waited with fear, with trembling and also with some hopeful interest, for the fireworks resulting from Deming's induction to Villa Elsa. And they promptly began to soar, for Jim had, in his way, all the American speed, and proceeded to overwhelm the household with his attentions. It was a case of swift enthusiasm about the whole family.
Kindly old Rebner had hinted that it would not be amiss in Gard to bring home one of the excellent German mädchens with her brimming stock of health and efficiency. "She would be an answer to our American servant girl question, flood your fireside with invigorating music, and rear a house full of robust children. It would be a novel and commendable experiment and experience for you, Kirtley."
Cave canem can hardly be called a suitable first attraction toward the spread of hospitality. He feared he was going to be bitten and wished his welcome had not been complicated with shudders. The entrance to Villa Elsa consisted of a hallway swimming in heady odors from the strong cooking in the adjacent kitchen. Kirtley stood for a moment stifled.
So he wandered on with his mixtures of nonchalance, condescension and, above all, his ebullient self-esteem that flowed over on to everyone to the point of deluging them. When he went away, it was with such a warm invitation to call upon him the next week that Kirtley could not but accept.
"I haven't yet seen I suppose I shall see" said Kirtley, "why the general American student like me is so persistently encouraged to come to Germany. Why is it?" "Because we are damn fools," heartily rejoined Anderson. "The Germans don't have education. They have instruction. The one makes gentlemen. The other makes experts. It is hard for an expert to be a gentleman.
You don't seriously mean that Rudolph you assume it's Rudolph is watching me?" returned Kirtley, a little disturbed over the recurrence to this subject. "What am I guilty of? I'm as innocent as an unborn lamb." "Certainly you are. But, my dear boy, what's innocence in Germany? The Secret Police can make an alien like you a lot of trouble about nothing.
He believed he had, on the contrary, grown in their estimation, as had Rudi after his "experience." The poor Herr Kirtley was considered a much abused victim of an unfortunate sickness. Once Frau exclaimed: "Ach Himmel! our sons have such a hard time of it!" When he began to eat ravenously after his enforced abstinence, hearty foods and heavy drinks were supplied.
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