Part 2 of 5
Hans Castorp could not refrain from slapping his knee as he exclaimed that never in all his life before had he heard the like.
"Pray do not, on that account, refuse to entertain it," Settembrini said with a smile. "Music, as a final incitement to the spirit of men, is invaluable—as a force which draws onward and upward the spirit she finds prepared for her ministrations. But literature must precede her. By music alone the world would get no further forward. Alone, she is a danger. For you, personally, Engineer, she is beyond all doubt dangerous. I saw it in your face as I came up."
Hans Castorp laughed.
"Oh, you shouldn’t look at my face, Herr Settembrini. You can’t believe how the air up here sets me on fire. It is harder than I thought to get acclimatized."
"I fear you deceive yourself."
"How so? I know, at least, how deucedly hot and tired I am all the time."
"It seems to me we should be grateful to the management for the concert," Joachim said reflectively. "I wouldn’t contradict you, Herr Settembrini, because you look at the question from a higher point of view, so to speak, as an author. But I find one ought to be grateful up here for a bit of music. I am far from being particularly musical, and then the pieces they play are not exactly elevating, neither classic nor modern, but just ordinary band-music. Still, it is a pleasant change. It takes up a couple of hours very decently; I mean it breaks them up and fills them in, so there is something to them, by comparison with the other days, hours, and weeks that whisk by like nothing at all. You see an unpretentious concert-number lasts perhaps seven minutes, and those seven minutes amount to something; they have a beginning and an end, they stand out, they don’t so easily slip into the regular humdrum round and get lost. Besides they are again divided up by the figures of the piece that is being played, and these again into beats, so there is always something going on, and every moment has a certain meaning, something you can take hold of, whereas usually—I don’t know whether I am making myself—"
"Bravo!" cried Settembrini. "Bravo, Lieutenant! You are describing very well indeed an aspect of music which has indubitably a moral value: namely, that her peculiarly life-enhancing method of measuring time imparts a spiritual awareness and value to its passage. Music quickens time, she quickens us to the finest enjoyment of time; she quickens—and in so far she has moral value. Art has moral value, in so far as it quickens. But what if it does the opposite? What if it dulls us, sends us to sleep, works against action and progress? Music can do that too; she is an old hand at using opiates. But the opiate, my dear sirs, is a gift of the Devil; it makes for lethargy, inertia, slavish inaction, stagnation. There is something suspicious about music, gentlemen. I insist that she is, by her nature, equivocal. I shall not be going too far in saying at once that she is politically suspect."
He went on in this vein, and Hans Castorp listened without precisely following; first on account of his fatigue, and second because his attention was distracted by the proceedings of the lightheaded young folk on the steps. Did his eyes deceive him, or was the tapir-faced girl really occupied in sewing on a button for the monocled youth—and, forsooth, on the knee-band of his knickerbockers? She breathed asthmatically as she sewed, and he coughed and carried his little finger, with the salt-spoon-shaped nail, to his mouth. Of course they were ill—but, after all, these young folk up here did have peculiar social standards! The band played a polka.Hippe
THUS Sunday passed. The afternoon was marked by drives undertaken by various groups; several times after tea a carriage and pair drove up the winding road and halted before the portal to receive its occupants—these being, for the most part, Russian ladies.
"Russians drive a great deal," Joachim said to Hans Castorp, as they stood before the entrance and amused themselves with watching the carriages move off. "They will be going to Clavadel, or into the valley of the Flüela, or as far as Klosters. Those are the usual objectives. We might have a drive too while you are up here, if you like. But for the present I think you have enough to do to get used to things, and don’t require more diversion."
To which Hans Castorp agreed. He had a cigarette in his mouth, and his hands in his trouser pockets; and stood so to watch the lively little old Russian lady, as she, with her lean grand-niece and two other ladies, took their seats in a carriage. The ladies were Madame Chauchat and Marusja. Madame Chauchat had put on a thin dust-cloak belted in at the back, but wore no hat. She sat down beside the old dame in the body of the carriage, while the two girls took their places behind. All four were in lively vein and chattered without stopping in their soft, spineless tongue. They chattered about the top of the carriage, which was hard for them all to get underneath, about the Russian comfits the great-aunt had brought for them to munch, in a little wooden box lined with cotton-wool and lace paper, and was already handing round.—Hans Castorp distinguished with interest Frau Chauchat’s slightly husky voice. As always whenever he set eyes on that heedless creature, the likeness reasserted itself which had puzzled him for a while and then been revealed in a dream. But Marusja’s laugh, the expression of her round, brown eyes, staring childlike above the tiny handkerchief she held over her mouth, the full bosom, which was yet so ailing within, reminded him of something else, something which gave him a sudden thrill and made him glance cautiously at his cousin without turning his head. No, thank goodness, Joachim had not gone mottled, like that other time; his lips were not so painfully compressed. But he was gazing at Marusja, and his bearing, the expression in his eyes, was anything but military. Indeed that absorbed and yearning look could only have been characterized as typically civilian. However, he pulled himself quickly together and stole a glance at Hans Castorp, which the latter had only just time to avoid, by turning his own eyes away and staring up into the sky. He felt his heart give a sudden beat—without rhyme or reason, of its own accord, as it had taken to doing up here.
The Sunday was not further remarkable, except perhaps for the meals, which, since they could not well be more abundant than they already were, displayed greater refinement in the menu. At luncheon there was a chaud-froid of chicken, garnished with crayfish and stoned cherries; with the ices came pastry served in baskets of spun sugar, and fresh pineapple besides. In the evening, after he had drunk his beer, Hans Castorp felt heavier in the limbs and more chilled and exhausted than on the day before; toward nine o’clock he bade his cousin good-night, drew his plumeau up to his chin, and slept like the dead.
But next day, the first Monday spent by the guest up here, there came another regularly recurring variation in the daily routine: the lectures, one of which Dr. Krokowski delivered every other Monday morning in the dining-room, before the entire adult population of the sanatorium, with exception of the "moribund" and those who could not understand the language. The course, Hans Castorp learned from his cousin, consisted of a series of popular-scientific lectures, under the general title: "Love as a force contributory to disease." These instructive entertainments took place after second breakfast; it was not permissible, Joachim reiterated, to absent oneself from them—or, at least, absence was frowned upon. It was thus very daring of Settembrini, who surely must have more command of the language than anyone else, not only never to appear, but to refer to the entertainment in most disparaging terms. For Hans Castorp’s part, he straightway resolved to be present, in the first place out of courtesy, but also with unconcealed curiosity as to what he should hear. Before the appointed hour, however, he did something quite perverse and ill-judged, which proved worse for him than one could possibly have guessed: he went out for a long, solitary walk.
"Now listen to me," had been his first words, when Joachim entered his room that morning. "I can see that it can’t go on with me like this. I’ve had enough of the horizontal for the present; one’s very blood goes to sleep. Of course it is different with you; you are a patient, and I have no intention of tempting you. But I mean to take a proper walk after breakfast, if you don’t mind, just walking at random for a couple of hours. I’ll stick a little something in my pocket for second breakfast; then I shall be independent. We shall see if I am not quite a different chap when I come back."
Joachim warmly agreed, as he saw his cousin was in earnest in his desire and his project. "But don’t overdo it," he said; "that’s my advice. It’s not the same thing up here as at home. And be sure to come back in time for the lecture."
In reality young Hans Castorp had more ground than the physical for his present resolve. His over-heated head, the prevailing bad taste in his mouth, the fitful throbbing of his heart, were, or so he felt, less evil accompaniments to the process of acclimatization than such things as the goings-on of the Russian pair next door, the table-talk of the stupid and afflicted Frau Stöhr, the gentleman rider’s pulpy cough daily heard in the corridor, the utterances of Herr Albin, the impression he received of the manners and morals of the ailing young folk about him, the expression on Joachim’s face when he looked at Marusja—these and a hundred observations more made him feel it would be good to escape awhile from the Berghof circle, to breathe the air deep into his lungs, to get some proper exercise—and then, when he felt tired at night, he would at least know why. He took leave of Joachim in a spirit of enterprise, when his cousin addressed himself, after breakfast, to the usual round as far as the bench by the watercourse; then, swinging his walking-stick, he took his own way down the road.
It was about nine o’clock of a cool morning, with a covered sky. According to programme, Hans Castorp drew in deep draughts of the pure morning air, the fresh, light atmosphere that breathed in so easily, that held no hint of damp, that was without associations, without content. He crossed the stream and the narrow-gauge road to the street, with its scattered buildings; but left this again soon to strike into a meadow path, which went only a short way on the level and then slanted steeply up to the right. The climbing rejoiced Hans Castorp’s heart, his chest expanded, he pushed his hat back on his forehead with the crook of his stick; having gained some little height he looked back, and, seeing in the distance the mirror-like lake he had passed on his journey hither, he began to sing.
He sang what songs he had at his command, all kinds of sentimental folk-ditties, out of collections of national ballads and students’ song-books; one of them, that went:
Let poets all of love and wine,
Yet oft of virtue sing the praises,
he sang at first softly, in a humming tone, then louder, finally at the top of his voice. His baritone lacked flexibility, yet to-day he found it good, and sang on with mounting enthusiasm. When he found he had pitched the beginning too high, he shifted into falsetto, and even that pleased him. When his memory left him in the lurch, he helped himself out by setting to the melody whatever words and syllables came to hand, heedless of the sense, giving them out like an operatic singer, with arching lips and strong palatal r. He even began to improvise both words and music, accompanying his performance with theatrical gesturings. It is a good deal of a strain to sing and climb at the same time, and Hans Castorp found his breath growing scant, and scanter. Yet for sheer pleasure in the idea, for the joy of singing, he forced his voice and sang on, with frequent gasps for breath, until he could no more, and sank, quite out of wind, half blind, with coloured sparks before his eyes and racing pulses, beneath a sturdy pine. His exaltation gave way on the sudden to a pervading gloom; he fell a prey to dejection bordering on despair.
When, his nerves being tolerably restored, he got to his feet again to continue his walk, he found his neck trembling; indeed his head shook in precisely the same way now, at his age, in which the head of old Hans Lorenz Castorp once had shaken. The phenomenon so freshly called up to him the memory of his dead grandfather that, far from finding it offensive, he took a certain pleasure in availing himself of that remembered and dignified method of supporting the chin, by means of which his grandfather had been wont to control the shaking of his head, and to which the boy had responded with such inward sympathy.
He mounted still higher on the zigzag path, drawn by the sound of cow-bells, and came at length upon the herd, grazing near a hut whose roof was weighted with stones. Two bearded men approached him, with axes on their shoulders. They parted, a little way off him, and "Thank ye kindly, and God be with ye," said the one to the other, in a deep guttural voice, shifted his axe to the other shoulder, and began breaking a path through crackling pine-boughs to the valley. The words sounded strange in this lonely spot: they came dreamlike to Hans Castorp’s senses, strained and benumbed. He repeated them, softly, trying to reproduce the guttural, rustically formal syllables of the mountain tongue, as he climbed another stretch higher, above the hut. He had in mind to reach the height where the trees left off, but on glancing at his watch resisted.
He took the left-hand path in the direction of the village. It ran level for some way, then led downhill, among tall-trunked pines, where, as he went, he once more began to sing, tentatively, and despite the fact that he felt his knees to tremble more than they had during the ascent. On issuing from the wood he paused, struck by the charm of the small enclosed landscape before him, a scene composed of elements both peaceful and sublime.
A mountain stream came flowing in its shallow, stony bed down the right-hand slope, poured itself foaming over the terraced boulders lying in its path, then coursed more calmly toward the valley, crossed at this point by a picturesque railed wooden footbridge. The ground all about was blue with the bell-like blossoms of a profusely growing, bushy plant. Sombre fir-trees of even, mighty growth stood in the bed of the ravine and climbed its sides to the height. One of them, rooted in the steep bank at the side of the torrent, thrust itself aslant into the picture, with bizarre effect. The whole remote and lovely spot was wrapped in a sounding solitude by the noise of the rushing waters. Hans Castorp remarked a bench that stood on the farther bank of the stream.
He crossed the foot-bridge and sat down to regale himself with the sight of the foaming, rushing waterfall and the idyllic sound of its monotonous yet modulated prattle. For Hans Castorp loved like music the sound of rushing water—perhaps he loved it even more. But hardly had he settled himself when he was overtaken by a bleeding at the nose, which came on so suddenly he had barely time to save his clothing from soilure. The bleeding was violent and persistent, taking to stanch it nearly half an hour of going to and fro between bench and brook, snuffing water up his nostrils, rinsing his handkerchief and lying flat on his back upon the wooden seat with the damp cloth on his nose. He lay there, after the blood at length was stanched, his knees elevated, hands folded behind his head, eyes closed, and ears full of the noise of water. He felt no unpleasant sensation, the blood-letting had had a soothing effect, but he found himself in a state of extraordinarily reduced vitality, so that when he exhaled the air, he felt no need to draw it in again, and lay there moveless, for the space of several quiet heart-beats, before taking another slow and superficial breath.
Quite suddenly he found himself in the far distant past, transported to a scene which had come back to him in a dream some nights before, summoned by certain impressions of the last few days. But so strongly, so resistlessly, to the annihilation of time and space, was he rapt back into the past, one might have said it was a lifeless body lying here on the bench by the waterside, while the actual Hans Castorp moved in that far-away time and place—in a situation which was for him, despite its childishness, vibrant with daring and adventure.
It happened when he was a lad of thirteen, in knee-breeches, in the lower third form at school. He stood in the school yard in talk with another boy of like years, from a higher form. The conversation had been begun, rather arbitrarily, by himself and, dealing as it did with a narrowly circumscribed subject of a practical nature, could in no case be prolonged; yet it gave him the greatest satisfaction. It took place in the break between the last two periods, a history and a drawing hour for Hans Castorp’s form; the pupils were walking up and down, or standing about in groups, or lounging against the glazed abutments of the school-building wall. A murmur of voices filled the red-tiled court-yard, which was shut off from the street by a wall topped with shingles and provided with two entrance gates. Supervision was exercised by a master in a slouch hat, who munched a ham sandwich the while.
He with whom Hans Castorp spoke was called Hippe, Pribislav Hippe. A peculiarity of this given name was that you were to pronounce it as though it were spelled Pschibislav; and the singularity of the appellation suited the lad’s appearance, which did indeed have something exotic about it. Hippe was the son of a scholar and history professor in the gymnasium. He was, by consequence, a notorious model pupil, and, though not much older than Hans Castorp, already a form higher up. He came from Mecklenburg and was in his person obviously the product of an ancient mixture of races, a grafting of Germanic stock with Slavic, or the reverse. True, his close-shorn round pate was blond; but the eyes were a grey-blue, or a blue-grey—an indefinite, ambiguous colour, like the hue of far-distant mountain ranges—and of an odd, narrow shape; were even, to be precise, a little slanting, with strongly marked, prominent cheek-bones directly under them. It was a type of face which in this instance, far from seeming an abnormality, was distinctly pleasing, though odd enough to have won for him the nickname of "the Kirghiz" among his schoolmates. Hippe already wore long trousers, and a blue jacket belted in at the back and closed to the throat, the collar of which was usually whitened by a few scales of dandruff.
Now, the thing was that Hans Castorp, for a long time, had had his eye upon this Pribislav; had chosen him out of the whole host, known and unknown, in the court-yard of the school, taken an interest in him, followed him with his eyes—shall we say admired him?—at all events observed him with peculiar sympathy. Even on the way to school he looked forward with pleasure to watching him among his fellows, seeing him speak and laugh, singling out his voice from the others by its pleasantly veiled, husky quality. Granted that there was no sufficient ground for his preference, unless one might refer it to Hippe’s heathenish name, his character as model pupil—this latter was, of course, out of the question—or to the "Kirghiz" eyes, whose grey-blue glance could sometimes melt into a mystery of darkness when one caught it musing sidewise; whichever it might be, or none of these, Hans Castorp troubled not a whit to justify his feelings, or even to question by what name they might suitably be called. For, since he did not "know" Hippe, the relation could hardly be one of friendship. But in the first place there was not the faintest need of calling it anything; it could never be a subject of discussion; that would be out of place, and he had no desire for it; and, in the second, giving a thing a name implies, if not passing judgment on it, at least defining it; that is to say, classifying it among the familiar and habitual; whereas Hans Castorp was penetrated by the unconscious conviction that an inward good of this sort was above all to be guarded from definition and classification.
But whether well or ill founded, and however far from being the subject of conversation, or even from being touched on in Hans Castorp’s own mind, these feelings of his flourished there in great strength, as they had done for almost a year now—or a year as nearly as one could fix the time, for it was hard to be precise about their beginnings. For about a year, then, he had carried them about in secret, which spoke for the loyalty and constancy of his character, when one reflects what a great space of time a year is at that age. But alas, every characterization of this kind involves a moral judgment, whether favourable or unfavourable—though, to be sure, each trait of character has its two sides. Thus Hans Castorp’s "loyalty"—upon which, be it said, he was not prone to plume himself—consisted, baldly, in a certain tempera-mental heaviness, sluggishness, and quiescence, a fundamental tendency to feel respect for conditions of duration and stability; and the more respect, the longer they lasted. He inclined to believe in the permanence of the particular state or circumstances in which he for the moment found himself; prized it for that very quality, and was not bent on change. Thus he had grown used to his silent and remote relation to Pribislav Hippe, and considered it a regular feature of his life; loved the emotions it brought in its train, the suspense as to whether he was likely to meet him that day, whether Pribislav would pass close by him, even look at him; loved the subtle and wordless satisfaction imparted by his secret, loved even the disappointments inseparable from it—the greatest of which was Pribislav’s absence from school. When this happened, the school yard became a desert, the day lacked all charm, hope alone lingered.
The affair had lasted a year, up to that intrepid and culminating moment; after which, thanks to Hans Castorp’s constancy of spirit, it lasted another. Then it was over. And it is a fact that he marked no more the loosening and dissolving of the bond which united him to Pribislav than he had previously marked its beginnings. Moreover, in consequence of his father’s taking another position, Pribislav left the school and the city; but that was all one to Hans Castorp; he had already forgotten him before he went. One may put it that the figure of the "Kirghiz" had glided out of the mist into Hans Castorp’s life, and slowly grown vivid and tangible there, up to that moment of the greatest nearness and corporeity, in the school court; had stood awhile thus in the foreground, then slowly receded, and, with no pain of parting, dissolved again into the mist.
But that moment, that bold, adventurous situation, into which Hans Castorp found himself transported after all these years, the conversation—an actual conversation with Pribislav Hippe—came about thus. The drawing-lesson was the next period, and Hans Castorp found himself without a pencil. His classmates needed their own, but he had among the other pupils this and that acquaintance, of whom he might have sought a loan. Yet he found it was Pribislav who after all stood nearest to him, with whom, in secret, he had had to do; and with a joyous impulse of his entire being he determined to seize the opportunity—for so he called it—and ask Pribislav for a pencil. It was rather an odd thing to do, since he did not, in reality, "know" Pribislav at all; but this aspect of the affair escaped him in his recklessness, or he chose to disregard it. So there he stood before Pribislav Hippe, among the bustling crowd that filled the tiled court-yard; and he said to him: "Excuse me, can you lend me a pencil?"
And Pribislav looked at him, with his "Kirghiz" eyes above the prominent cheek-bones, and spoke, in his pleasantly husky voice, without any surprise, or, at least, without showing any.
"With pleasure," he said. "But you must be sure to give it me back, after the period." And drew his pencil out of his pocket, a silver pencil-holder with a ring in the end, which one screwed in order to make the red lead-pencil come out. He displayed the simple mechanism, their two heads bent over it together.
"Only be careful not to break it," he added.
What made him say that? As if Hans Castorp had been intending to handle it carelessly or keep it after the hour!
They looked at each other, and smiled; then, as there remained nothing more to say, they turned, first their shoulders and then their backs, and went.
That was all. But never in his life had Hans Castorp felt so supremely content as in this drawing hour, drawing with Pribislav Hippe’s pencil, in the immediate prospect of giving it back into the owner’s hand—which followed as a matter of course out of what had gone before. He took the liberty of sharpening the pencil a little, and cherished three of the red shavings nearly a year, in an inner drawer of his desk—no one seeing them there could have guessed what significance they possessed. The return of the pencil was of the simplest formality, quite after Hans Castorp’s heart—indeed, he prided himself on it no little, in the vainglorious state his intimacy with Hippe produced.
"There," he said. "And thanks very much."
And Pribislav said nothing at all, only hastily tried the screw and stuck the pencil in his pocket.
Never again did they speak to each other; but this one time, thanks to the enterprise of Hans Castorp, they had spoken.
He wrenched his eyes open, amazed at the depths of the trance in which he had been sunk. "I’ve been dreaming," he thought. "Yes, that was Pribislav. It’s a long time since I thought of him. I wonder what became of the shavings. My desk is in the attic at Uncle Tienappel’s; they must be there yet, in the little inner back drawer. I never took them out, never thought enough about them to throw them away! That was certainly Pribislav, his very own self. I shouldn’t have thought I could remember him so clearly. How remarkably like her he looked—like this girl up here! Is that why I feel interested in her? Or was that why I felt so interested in him? What rubbish! Anyhow, I must be stirring, and pretty fast, too." But he lay another moment, musing and recalling, before he got up. "Then thank ye kindly, and God be with ye," he said—the tears came to his eyes as he smiled And with that he would have been off, but instead sat suddenly down again with his hat and stick in his hand, being forced to the realization that his knees would not support him. "Hullo," he thought, "this won’t do. I am supposed to be back in the dining-room punctually at eleven, for the lecture. Taking walks up here is very beautiful—but appears to have its difficult side. Well, well, I can’t stop here. I must have got stiff from lying; I shall be better as I move about." He tried again to get on his legs and, by dint of great effort, succeeded.
But the return home was lamentable indeed, after the high spirits of his setting forth. He had repeatedly to rest by the way, feeling the colour recede from his face, and cold sweat break out on his brow; the wild beating of his heart took away his breath. Thus painfully he fought his way down the winding path and reached the bottom in the neighbourhood of the Kurhaus. But here it became clear that his own powers would never take him over the stretch between him and the Berghof; and accordingly, as there was no tram and he saw no carriages for hire, he hailed a driver going toward the Dorf with a load of empty boxes and asked permission to climb into his wagon. Back to back with the man, his legs hanging down out of the end, swaying and nodding with fatigue and the jolting of the vehicle, regarded with surprise and sympathy by the passers-by, he got as far as the railway crossing, where he dismounted and paid for his ride, whether much money or little he did not heed, and hurried headlong up the drive.
"Depêchez-vous, monsieur," said to him the French concierge. "La conférence de M. Krokowski vient de commencer." Hans Castorp tossed hat and stick on the stand and squeezed himself with much precaution, tongue between his teeth, through the partly open glass door into the dining-room, where the society of the cure sat in rows on their chairs, and on the right-hand narrow side of the room, behind a covered table adorned with a water-bottle, Dr. Krokowski, in a frock-coat, stood and delivered his lecture.Analysis
LUCKILY there was a vacant seat in the corner, near the door. He slipped into it and assumed an air of having been here from the beginning. The audience, hanging rapt on Dr. Krokowski’s lips, paid him no heed—which was as well, for he looked rather ghastly. His face white as a sheet, his coat spotted with blood—he might have been a murderer stealing from his crime. The lady in front of him did, indeed, turn her head as he sat down, and measured him with narrow eyes. With a sense of exasperation he recognized Madame Chauchat. Deuce take it—was he never to have a moment’s peace? He had thought that, having arrived at his goal, he could sit here quietly and rest a little; and now he had to have her under his nose. In other circumstances he might conceivably have found her nearness rather pleasant than otherwise. But now, worn out and harassed as he felt, what was it to him? It could only make new demands on his heart and keep him from drawing a long breath during the whole lecture. With Pribislav’s very eyes she had looked at him, and at the spots of blood on his coat; her look had been rather bold and ruthless too, as a woman’s would be who let doors bang behind her. How badly she held herself! Not like the ladies of Hans Castorp’s social sphere, who sat erect at their tables, turned their heads towards their lords and masters, and spoke with mincing correctness. Frau Chauchat sat all relaxed, with drooping shoulders and round back; she even thrust her head forward until the vertebra at the base of the neck showed prominently above the rounded décollétage of her white blouse. Pribislav had held his head like that. But he had been a model pupil and full of honours (which was not the reason why Hans Castorp had borrowed his pencil), whereas it was abundantly clear that Frau Chauchat’s bad carriage, her door-slamming, and the directness of her gaze all had to do with her physical condition; yes, were even expressive of that want of restraint in which young Herr Albin rejoiced, which was not honourable at all, yet possessed boundless advantages all its own.
Hans Castorp’s thoughts, as he sat and looked at Frau Chauchat’s flaccid back, began to blur; they ceased to be thoughts at all and began to be a reverie, into which Dr. Krokowski’s drawling baritone, with the soft-sounding r, came as from afar. But the stillness of the room, the profound attention that rapt all the rest of the audience, had the effect of rousing him too. He looked about. Near him sat the thin-haired pianist, with bent head and folded arms, listening with his mouth open. Somewhat farther on was Fräulein Engelhart, avid-eyed, with a dull red spot on each cheek; Hans Castorp saw the same signal flame on the faces of other ladies—on Frau Salomon’s, and Frau Magnus’s, the same who was wife to the brewer and lost flesh persistently.
Frau Stöhr sat somewhat farther back, an expression of ignorant credulity painted on her face, truly painful to behold; while the ivory-complexioned Levi, leaning back in her chair with half-closed eyes, her hands lying open in her lap, would have looked like a corpse had not her breast risen and fallen with such profound and rhythmical breaths as to remind Hans Castorp of a mechanical waxwork he had once seen. Many of the guests had their hands curved behind their ears; some even held the hand in the air half-way thither, as though arrested midway in the gesture by the strength of their concentration. Lawyer Paravant, a sunburnt man who looked to have had the strength of a bull, even flicked his ear with his forefinger to make it hear better, then turned it again to catch the words that flowed from Dr. Krokowski’s lips.
And what was Dr. Krokowski saying? What was his line of thought? Hans Castorp summoned his wits to discover, not immediately succeeding, however, since he had not heard the beginning and lost still more while musing on Frau Chauchat’s flabby back. It was about a power, the power which—in short, it was about the power of love. Yes, of course; the subject was already given out in the general title of the whole course, and, moreover, this was Dr. Krokowski’s special field; of what else should he be talking? It was a bit odd, to be sure, listening to a lecture on such a theme, when previously Hans Castorp’s courses had dealt only with such matters as geared transmission in shipbuilding. No, really, how did one go about to discuss a subject of this delicate and private nature, in broad daylight, before a mixed audience? Dr. Krokowski did it by adopting a mingled terminology, partly poetic and partly erudite; ruthlessly scientific, yet with a vibrating, singsong delivery, which impressed young Hans Castorp as being unsuitable, but may have been the reason why the ladies looked flushed and the gentlemen flicked their ears to make them hear better. In particular the speaker employed the word love in a somewhat ambiguous sense, so that you were never quite sure where you were with it, or whether he had reference to its sacred or its passionate and fleshly aspect—and this doubt gave one a slightly seasick feeling. Never in all his life had Hans Castorp heard the word uttered so many times on end as he was hearing it now. When he reflected, it seemed to him he had never taken it in his own mouth, nor ever heard it from a stranger’s. That might not be the case, but whether it were or no, the word did not seem to him to repay such frequent repetition. The slippery monosyllable, with its lingual and labial, and the bleating vowel between—it came to sound positively offensive; it suggested watered milk, or anything else that was pale and insipid; the more so considering the meat for strong men Dr. Krokowski was in fact serving up. For it was plain that when one set about it like that, one could go pretty far without shocking anybody. He was not content to allude, with exquisite tact, to certain matters which are known to everybody, but which most people are content to pass over in silence. He demolished illusions, he was ruthlessly enlightened, he relentlessly destroyed all faith in the dignity of silver hairs and the innocence of the sucking babe. And he wore, with the frock-coat, his négligé collar, sandals, and grey woollen socks, and, thus attired, made an impression profoundly otherworldly, though at the same time not a little startling to young Hans Castorp. He supported his statements with a wealth of illustration and anecdote from the books and loose notes on the table before him; several times he even quoted poetry. And he discussed certain startling manifestations of the power of love, certain extraordinary, painful, uncanny variations, which the majestic phenomenon at times displayed. It was, he said, the most unstable, the most unreliable of man’s instincts, the most prone of its very essence to error and fatal perversion. In the which there was nothing that should cause surprise. For this mighty force did not consist of a single impulse, it was of its nature complex; it was built up out of components which, however legitimate they might be in composition, were, taken each by itself, sheer perversity. But—continued Dr. Krokowski—since we refuse, and rightly, to deduce the perversity of the whole from the perversity of its parts, we are driven to claim, for the component perversities, some part at least, though perhaps not all, of the justification which attaches to their united product. We were driven by sheer force of logic to this conclusion; Dr. Krokowski implored his hearers, having arrived at it, to hold it fast. Now there were psychical correctives, forces working in the other direction, instincts tending to conformability and regularity—he would almost have liked to characterize them as bourgeois; and these influences had the effect of merging the perverse components into a valid and irreproachable whole: a frequent and gratifying result, which, Dr. Krokowski almost contemptuously added, was, as such, of no further concern to the thinker and the physician. But on the other hand, there were cases where this result was not obtained, could not and should not be obtained; and who, Dr. Krokowski asked, would dare to say that these cases did not, psychically considered, form a higher, more exclusive type? For in these cases the two opposing groups of instincts—the compulsive force of love, and the sum of the impulses urging in the other direction, among which he would particularly mention shame and disgust—both exhibited an extraordinary and abnormal height and intensity when measured by the ordinary bourgeois standards; and the conflict between them which took place in the abysses of the soul prevented the erring instinct from attaining to that safe, sheltered, and civilized state which alone could resolve its difficulties in the prescribed harmonies of the love-life as experienced by the average human being. This conflict between the powers of love and chastity—for that was what it really amounted to—what was its issue? It ended, apparently, in the triumph of chastity. Love was suppressed, held in darkness and chains, by fear, conventionality, aversion, or a tremulous yearning to be pure. Her confused and tumultuous claims were never allowed to rise to consciousness or to come to proof in anything like their entire strength or multiformity. But this triumph of chastity was only an apparent, a pyrrhic victory; for the claims of love could not be crippled or enforced by any such means. The love thus suppressed was not dead; it lived, it laboured after fulfilment in the darkest and secretest depths of the being. It would break through the ban of chastity, it would emerge—if in a form so altered as to be unrecognizable. But what then was this form, this mask, in which suppressed, unchartered love would reappear? Dr. Krokowski asked the question, and looked along the listening rows as though in all seriousness expecting an answer. But he had to say it himself, who had said so much else already. No one knew save him, but it was plain that he did. Indeed, with his ardent eyes, his black beard setting off the waxen pallor of his face, his monkish sandals and grey woollen socks, he seemed to symbolize in his own person that conflict between passion and chastity which was his theme. At least so thought Hans Castorp, as with the others he waited in the greatest suspense to hear in what form love driven below the surface would reappear. The ladies barely breathed. Lawyer Paravant rattled his ear anew, that the critical moment might find it open and receptive. And Dr. Krokowski answered his own question, and said: "In the form of illness. Symptoms of disease are nothing but a disguised manifestation of the power of love; and all disease is only love transformed."
So now they knew—though very probably not all of them were capable of an opinion on what they heard. A sigh passed through the assemblage, and Lawyer Paravant weightily nodded approbation as Krokowski proceeded to develop his theme. Hans Castorp for his part sat with bowed head, trying to reflect on what had been said and test his own understanding of it. But he was unpractised in such exercises, and rendered still further incapable of mental exertion by the unhappy effect of the walk he had taken. His thoughts were soon drawn off again by the sight of Frau Chauchat’s back, and the arm appertaining, which was lifting and bending itself, close before Hans Castorp’s eyes, so that the hand could hold the braids of hair.
It made him uncomfortable to have the hand so close beneath his eye, to be forced to look at it whether he wished or no, to study it in all its human blemishes and imperfections, as though under a magnifying-glass. No, there was nothing aristocratic about this stubby schoolgirl hand, with the badly cut nails. He was even not quite sure that the ends of the fingers were perfectly clean; and the skin round the nails was distinctly bitten. Hans Castorp made a face; but his eyes remained fixed on Madame Chauchat’s back, as he vaguely recalled what Dr. Krokowski had been saying, about counteracting influences of a bourgeois kind, which set themselves up against the power of love.—The arm, in its gentle upward curve, was better than the hand; it was scarcely clothed, for the material of the sleeve was thinner than that of the blouse, being the lightest gauze, which had the effect of lending the arm a sort of shadowed radiance, making it prettier than it might otherwise have been. It was at once both full and slender—in all probability cool to the touch. No, so far as the arm went, the idea about counteracting bourgeois influences did not apply.
Hans Castorp mused, his gaze still bent on Frau Chauchat’s arm. The way women dressed! They showed their necks and bosoms, they transfigured their arms by veiling them in "illusion"; they did so, the world over, to arouse our desire. O God, how beautiful life was! And it was just such accepted commonplaces as this that made it beautiful—for it was a commonplace that women dressed themselves alluringly, it was so well known and recognized a fact that we never consciously realized it, but merely enjoyed it without a thought. And yet he had an inward conviction that we ought to think about it, ought to realize what a blessed, what a well-nigh miraculous arrangement it was. For of course it all had a certain end and aim; it was by a definite design that women were permitted to array themselves with irresistible allure: it was for the sake of posterity, for the perpetuation of the species. Of course. But suppose a woman were inwardly diseased, unfit for motherhood—what then? What was the sense of her wearing gauze sleeves and attracting male attention to her physical parts if these were actually unsound? Obviously there was no sense; it ought to be considered immoral, and forbidden as such. For a man to take an interest in a woman inwardly diseased had no more sense than—well, than the interest Hans Castorp had once taken in Pribislav Hippe. The comparison was a stupid one; it roused memories better forgotten; he had not meant to make it, it came into his head unbidden. But at this point his musings broke off, largely because Dr. Krokowski had raised his voice and so drawn attention once more upon himself. He was standing there behind his table, with his arms outstretched and his head on one side—almost, despite the frock-coat, he looked like Christ on the cross.
It seemed that at the end of his lecture Dr. Krokowski was making propaganda for psycho-analysis; with open arms he summoned all and sundry to come unto him. "Come unto me," he was saying, though not in those words, "come unto me, all ye who are weary and heavy-laden." And he left no doubt of his conviction that all those present were weary and heavy-laden. He spoke of secret suffering, of shame and sorrow, of the redeeming power of the analytic. He advocated the bringing of light into the unconscious mind and explained how the abnormality was metamorphosed into the conscious emotion; he urged them to have confidence; he promised relief. Then he let fall his arms, raised his head, gathered up his notes and went out by the corridor door, with his head in the air, and the bundle of papers held schoolmaster fashion, in his left hand, against his shoulder.
His audience rose, pushed back its chairs, and slowly began to move towards the same door, as though converging upon him from all sides, without volition, hesitatingly, yet with one accord, like the throng after the Pied Piper. Hans Castorp stood in the stream without moving, his hand on the back of his chair. I am only a guest up here, he thought. Thank God I am healthy, that business has nothing to do with me; I shan’t even be here for the next lecture. He watched Frau Chauchat going out, gliding along with her head thrust forward. Did she have herself psycho-analysed, he wondered. And his heart began to thump. He did not notice Joachim, coming toward him among the chairs, and started when his cousin spoke.
"You got here at the last minute," Joachim said. "Did you go very far? How was it?"
"Oh, very nice," Hans Castorp answered. "Yes, I went rather a long way. But I must confess, it did me less good than I thought it would. I won’t repeat it for the present."
Joachim did not ask how he liked the lecture; neither did Hans Castorp express an opinion. By common consent they let the subject rest, both then and thereafter.Doubts and Considerations
TUESDAY was the last day of our hero’s week up here, and accordingly he found his weekly bill in his room on his return from the morning walk. It was a clear and businesslike document, in a green envelope, with a picture of the Berghof building at the top, and extracts from the prospectus carried in a narrow column down the left-hand side of the sheet. "Psycho-analytic treatment, by the most modern methods" was called attention to by means of spaced type. The items, set down in a calligraphic hand, came to one hundred and eighty francs almost exactly: eight francs a day for his chamber, twelve for board and medical attendance, entrance fee twenty, disinfection of room ten, while small charges for laundry, beer, and the late dinner of the first evening made up the sum.
Hans Castorp went over the bill with Joachim and found naught to object to. "Of course I made no use of the medical attendance," he said, "but that was my own affair. It is included in the price of pension, and I couldn’t expect them to make any deduction; how could they? As regards the disinfection, they must show a neat profit there, they never could have used ten francs’ worth of H2CO to smoke the American woman out. But on the whole I must say I find it cheap rather than dear, considering what they offer," And before second breakfast they went down to the management in order that Hans Castorp might acquit himself of his debt.
The management was on the ground-floor. You reached it after passing the hall, the garderobe, the kitchens and domestic offices; you could not miss the door, it had a porcelain shield. Hans Castorp took an interest in this glimpse into the business side of the enterprise. There was a neat little office, with a typist busy at her machine and three clerks bending over desks. In an adjoining office a man who looked like a head or director was working at a desk in the middle of the room; he flung a cool and calculating glance at the clients over the top of his glasses. Their affair was dispatched at the cashier’s window, a note changed, money received, the bill receipted; the cousins preserving throughout these transactions the solemn, discreet, almost overawed bearing which the young German’s respect for authority leads him to assume in the presence of pens, ink, and paper, or anything else which bears to his mind an official stamp. But on the way to breakfast, and later in the course of the day, they talked about the direction of the Berghof sanatorium, and Joachim, in his character as inmate, answered his cousin’s questions.
Hofrat Behrens was not—though he gave the impression of being—owner and proprietor of the establishment. Above and behind him stood invisible powers, which to a certain extent manifested their existence in the office they had just visited. They consisted of a supervisory head and a stock company—in which it was not a bad thing to hold shares, according to Joachim, since the members of it divided a fat dividend each year. The Hofrat was a dependent, he was merely an agent, a functionary, an associate of higher powers; the first and highest, of course, and the soul of the enterprise, with a well-defined influence upon it and upon the management itself—though of course as directing physician he was relieved of all preoccupation with the business side. He was a native of north-western Germany, and it was common knowledge that when he took the position, years ago, he had done so contrary to his previous intention and plans. He had come here on account of his wife—whose remains had long reposed in the village churchyard, that picturesque churchyard of Dorf Davos, which lay high up on the right-hand slope, nearer the entrance of the valley. She had been a charming person, to judge from her likenesses, though too large-eyed and asthenic-looking. Photographs of her stood about everywhere in the Hofrat’s house; even oil portraits by his own amateur hand hung on the walls. Two children, a son and a daughter, had been born; then they had brought her up here, the fragile body already fever-smitten; a few months had seen the completion of the wasting-away process. Behrens, they said, had adored her. He was brought so low by the blow that he got very odd and melancholy; people saw him gesturing, sniggering, and talking to himself, on the street. He did not go back to his original place, but remained where he was—in part, no doubt, because he could not tear himself away from her grave, but also for the less sentimental reason that he was himself in poor health and, in his own professional opinion, actually belonged here. He had settled down as one of the physicians who are companions in suffering to the patients in their care; who do not stand above disease, fighting her in the armour of personal security, but who themselves bear her mark—an odd, but by no means isolated, case, and one which has its good as well as its bad side. Sympathy between doctor and patient is surely desirable, and a case might be made out for the view that only he who suffers can be the guide and healer of the suffering. And yet—can true spiritual mastery over a power be won by him who is counted among her slaves? Can he free others who himself is not free? The ailing physician remains a paradox to the average mind, a questionable phenomenon. May not his scientific knowledge tend to be clouded and confused by his own participation, rather than enriched and morally reinforced? He cannot face disease in clear-eyed hostility to her; he is a prejudiced party, his position is equivocal. With all due reserve it must be asked whether a man who himself belongs among the ailing can give himself to the cure or care of others as can a man who is himself entirely sound.
Hans Castorp expressed some of these doubts and speculations, as he and Joachim gossiped about the Berghof and its professional head. But Joachim answered that nobody knew whether the Hofrat was still a patient—he was probably long since cured. It was ages ago that he had first begun to practise here; independently at first, and early winning a name for himself as an extraordinarily gifted auscultator and skilful surgeon. Then the Berghof had secured him; it would soon be ten years that he had been in intimate association with it. His private residence was in the end of the north-west wing of the building (Dr. Krokowski’s was not far off), and that lady of the lofty lineage, the nursing sister and directress of the establishment, of whom Settembrini had made such utter fun, and whom thus far Hans Castorp had scarcely seen, presided over the small household. The Hofrat was otherwise alone, for his son was at the university and his daughter already married, to a lawyer in one of the French cantons. Young Behrens sometimes visited his father in the holidays; he had done so once during Joachim’s time up here. The ladies, he related, had been quite thrilled; their temperatures had gone up, petty jealousies had led to bickering and quarrels in the rest-hall and an increase of visits to Dr. Krokowski’s private office.
The assistant had his own office hours, in a special room, which, together with the large examination-rooms, the laboratory, the operating-rooms and x-ray studio, was in the well-lighted basement of the building. We call it the basement, for the stone steps leading down to it from the ground-floor created the impression that it was such—an erroneous impression, for not only was the ground-floor somewhat elevated, but the entire building stood on a sidehill, part way up the mountain, and these "basement" rooms faced the front, with a view of the gardens and valley, a circumstance negatived to some extent by the fact of the steps leading down to them. One descended, as one supposed, from the ground-floor, only to find oneself at the bottom still on it, or practically so. Hans Castorp amused himself with this illusion when he accompanied his cousin one afternoon down to the "bathing-master," that Joachim might get himself weighed. A clinical brilliance and spotlessness reigned in this sphere. Everything was as white as white; the doors gleamed with white enamel; the one leading to Dr. Krokowski’s receiving-room, with the doctor’s visiting-card tacked on it, was reached by two more steps down from the corridor, which gave the room behind it an air of being more spacious and withdrawn than the rest. This door was at the end of the corridor, on your right as you came downstairs. Hans Castorp kept his eye on it as he walked up and down waiting for his cousin. He saw a lady come out, a recent arrival, whose name he did not know: a small, dainty person, with curls on her forehead, and gold ear-rings. She bent over as she mounted the stairs, and held up her frock with one beringed hand, while with the other she pressed her tiny handkerchief to her lips and, all stooped as she was, stared up over it into nothing, with great blue, distracted eyes. She hurried with small tripping steps, her petticoat rustling, to the stairs, paused suddenly as though something had occurred to her, then went on tripping upward, and disappeared, still bending over and holding her handkerchief to her mouth.
Behind her, when she opened the office door, it had been much darker than in the white corridor. Obviously the brilliant lighting of these lower regions did hot extend so far; Hans Castorp remarked that a shadowed dusk, a profound twilight, prevailed in Dr. Krokowski’s private sanctum.Table-Talk
YOUNG Hans Castorp noticed that the ancestral tremor brought on by his ill-advised walk continued to trouble him—he found it rather an embarrassment when in the dining-room. Almost as a regular thing now, his head would begin shaking at table; he found this impossible to prevent and hard to dissemble. He tried various devices to disguise the weakness, for he could not continually support his chin on his collar; he would keep his head in action, turning it to the right and left in conversation, or bear hard against the table with the left forearm when he carried a spoonful of soup to his mouth, and support his head with his hand. In the pauses he even rested his elbow on the table, this although it was in his own eyes a piece of ill breeding, which would not pass in any society save the lax abnormal one where he now found himself. But the weakness was burdensome too and went far to spoil the meal hours for him, which he had otherwise continued to find diverting and full of interesting episode.
But the truth was—and Hans Castorp was entirely aware of it—that the absurd manifestation against which he struggled was not solely physical in its origin, not wholly to be accounted for by the air up here and the efforts his system made to adjust itself. Rather was it the outward expression of his inner stimulation, and bore directly upon those very episodes and diversions.
Madame Chauchat almost invariably came late to meals. Until she came, Hans Castorp could not sit and keep his feet still, but must wait in suspense for the crashing of the glass door; he knew it would make him start and that his face would feel cold all over, and this was what regularly happened. At first he had jerked round his head infuriated and followed the offender with angry eyes to her seat at the "good" Russian table. He may even have muttered some abusive epithet between his teeth, some outraged cry of protest. But now he only bent over his plate, bit his lips, or deliber-ately turned his head away. It seemed to him that anger was no longer in place; he even had an obscure feeling that he was partly responsible, that he shared the blame with her before the others. In short, it would be no longer so true to say he was ashamed of Frau Chauchat as that he was ashamed for her—a feeling he might well have spared himself, for not a soul in the room troubled either over Frau Chauchat’s misconduct or Hans Castorp’s sensitiveness to it—with the possible exception of the schoolmistress, Fräulein Engelhart, on his right.
This poor creature had perceived that, thanks to his sensibility in the matter of slamming doors, a certain emotional attitude toward the Russian lady was come to subsist in her young neighbour’s mind. Further, that the grounds of the attitude were of little moment compared to the fact of its existence; and, finally, that his assumed indifference—very poorly assumed, for Hans Castorp had neither talent nor training as an actor—did not mean a decrease of interest, but on the contrary indicated that the affair was passing into a higher phase. Fräulein Engelhart was for her own person quite without hopes or pretensions. She therefore launched out into extravagant enthusiasm over Frau Chauchat—about which quite the most extraordinary thing was that Hans Castorp saw perfectly how she was egging him on—not all at once, perhaps, but in the course of time—saw through it and even felt disgusted at it, yet without being the less willingly led on by her and made a fool of.
"Slam—bang!" the old spinster said. "That was she. No need to look up to tell who just came in. Of course, there she goes—like a kitten to a saucer of milk—how pretty it is! I wish we might change places, so you could look at her as much as you liked. Naturally you don’t care to keep turning your head—that would flatter her far too much. She is greeting her table—you really ought to look, it is so refreshing to see her! When she smiles and talks as she is doing now, a dimple comes in one cheek, but not always, only when she likes. What a love of a woman! A spoilt child, that is why she is so heedless. Creatures like that one has to love, whether one will or no; they vex you with their heedlessness, but that is only one reason the more for loving them; it makes you so happy to have to care for them in spite of yourself."