The Project Gutenberg eBook of Buddenbrooks, volume 1 of 2

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Title: Buddenbrooks, volume 1 of 2

Author: Thomas Mann

Translator: H. T. Lowe-Porter

Release date: February 15, 2024 [eBook #72961]

Language: English

Original publication: New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1924

Credits: Tim Lindell, David E. Brown, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)



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Translated from the German by H. T. Lowe-Porter



Published, February, 1924
Second Printing, July, 1924
Third Printing, March, 1927



Buddenbrooks was written before the turn of the century; it was first published in 1902, and became a German classic. It is one of those novels—we possess many of them in English—which are at once a work of art and a unique record of a period and a district. Buddenbrooks is great in its psychology, great as the monument of a vanished cultural tradition, and ultimately great by the perfection of its art: the classic purity and beautiful austerity of its style.

The translation of a book which is a triumph of style in its own language, is always a piece of effrontery. Buddenbrooks is so leisurely, so chiselled: the great gulf of the war divided its literary method from that of our time. Besides, the author has recorded much dialect. This difficulty is insuperable. Dialect cannot be transferred.

So the present translation is offered with humility. It was necessary to recognize that the difficulties were great. Yet it was necessary to set oneself the bold task of transferring the spirit first and the letter so far as might be; and above all, to make certain that the work of art, coming as it does to the ear, in German, like music out of the past, should, in English, at least not come like a translation—which is, “God bless us, a thing of naught.”

H. T. Lowe-Porter






And—and—what comes next?”

“Oh, yes, yes, what the dickens does come next? C’est la question, ma très chère demoiselle!

Frau Consul Buddenbrook shot a glance at her husband and came to the rescue of her little daughter. She sat with her mother-in-law on a straight white-enamelled sofa with yellow cushions and a gilded lion’s head at the top. The Consul was in his easy-chair beside her, and the child perched on her grandfather’s knee in the window.

“Tony,” prompted the Frau Consul, “‘I believe that God’—”

Dainty little eight-year-old Antonie, in her light shot-silk frock, turned her head away from her grandfather and stared aimlessly about the room with her blue-grey eyes, trying hard to remember. Once more she repeated “What comes next?” and went on slowly: “‘I believe that God’—” and then, her face brightening, briskly finished the sentence: “‘created me, together with all living creatures.’” She was in smooth waters now, and rattled away, beaming with joy, through the whole Article, reproducing it word for word from the Catechism just promulgated, with the approval of an omniscient Senate, in that very year of grace 1835. When you were once fairly started, she thought, it was very like going down “Mount Jerusalem” with your brothers on the little sled: you had no time to think, and you couldn’t stop even if you wanted to.

“‘And clothes and shoes,’” she said, “‘meat and drink, hearth and home, wife and child, acre and cow....’” But old Johann Buddenbrook could hold in no longer. He burst[4] out laughing, in a high, half-smothered titter, in his glee at being able to make fun of the Catechism. He had probably put the child through this little examination with no other end in view. He inquired after Tony’s acre and cow, asked how much she wanted for a sack of wheat, and tried to drive a bargain with her.

His round, rosy, benevolent face, which never would look cross no matter how hard he tried, was set in a frame of snow-white powdered hair, and the suggestion of a pigtail fell over the broad collar of his mouse-coloured coat. His double chin rested comfortably on a white lace frill. He still, in his seventies, adhered to the fashions of his youth: only the lace frogs and the big pockets were missing. And never in all his life had he worn a pair of trousers.

They had all joined in his laughter, but largely as a mark of respect for the head of the family. Madame Antoinette Buddenbrook, born Duchamps, tittered in precisely the same way as her husband. She was a stout lady, with thick white curls over her ears, dressed in a plain gown of striped black and grey stuff which betrayed the native quiet simplicity of her character. Her hands were still white and lovely, and she held a little velvet work-bag on her lap. It was strange to see how she had grown, in time, to look like her husband. Only her dark eyes, by their shape and their liveliness, suggested her half-Latin origin. On her grandfather’s side Madame Buddenbrook was of French-Swiss stock, though born in Hamburg.

Her daughter-in-law, Frau Consul Elizabeth Buddenbrook, born Kröger, laughed the sputtering Kröger laugh and tucked in her chin as the Krögers did. She could not be called a beauty, but, like all the Krögers, she looked distinguished; she moved with graceful deliberation and had a clear, well-modulated voice. People liked her and felt confidence in her. Her reddish hair curled over her ears and was piled in a crown on top of her head; and she had the brilliant white complexion that goes with such hair, set off with a tiny freckle here[5] and there. Her nose was rather too long, her mouth somewhat small; her most striking facial peculiarity was the shape of her lower lip, which ran straight into the chin without a curve. She had on a short bodice with high puffed sleeves, that left exposed a flawlessly modelled neck adorned with a spray of diamonds on a satin ribbon.

The Consul was leaning forward in his easy-chair, rather fidgety. He wore a cinnamon-coloured coat with wide lapels and leg-of-mutton sleeves close-fitting at the wrists, and white linen trousers with black stripes up the outside seams. His chin nestled in a stiff choker collar, around which was folded a silk cravat that flowed down amply over his flowered waistcoat.

He had his father’s deep-set blue observant eyes, though their expression was perhaps more dreamy; but his features were clearer-cut and more serious, his nose was prominent and aquiline, and his cheeks, half-covered with a fair curling beard, were not so plump as the old man’s.

Madame Buddenbrook put her hand on her daughter-in-law’s arm and looked down at her lap with a giggle. “Oh, mon vieux—he’s always the same, isn’t he, Betsy?”

The Consul’s wife only made a motion with her delicate hand, so that her gold bangles tinkled slightly. Then, with a gesture habitual to her, she drew her finger across her face from the corner of her mouth to her forehead, as if she were smoothing back a stray hair.

But the Consul said, half-smiling, yet with mild reproach: “There you go again, Father, making fun of sacred things.”

They were sitting in the “landscape-room” on the first floor of the rambling old house in Meng Street, which the firm of Johann Buddenbrook had acquired some time since, though the family had not lived in it long. The room was hung with heavy resilient tapestries put up in such a way that they stood well out from the walls. They were woven in soft tones to harmonize with the carpet, and they depicted idyllic landscapes in the style of the eighteenth century, with merry[6] vine-dressers, busy husbandmen, and gaily beribboned shepherdesses who sat beside crystal streams with spotless lambs in their laps or exchanged kisses with amorous shepherds. These scenes were usually lighted by a pale yellow sunset to match the yellow coverings on the white-enamelled furniture and the yellow silk curtains at the two windows.

For the size of the room, the furniture was rather scant. A round table, its slender legs decorated with fine lines of gilding, stood, not in front of the sofa, but by the wall opposite the little harmonium, on which lay a flute-case; some stiff arm-chairs were ranged in a row round the walls; there was a sewing-table by the window, and a flimsy ornamental writing-desk laden with knick-knacks.

On the other side of the room from the windows was a glass door, through which one looked into the semi-darkness of a pillared hall; and on the left were the lofty white folding doors that led to the dining-room. A semi-circular niche in the remaining wall was occupied by the stove, which crackled away behind a polished wrought-iron screen.

For cold weather had set in early. The leaves of the little lime-trees around the churchyard of St. Mary’s, across the way, had turned yellow, though it was but mid-October. The wind whistled around the corners of the massive Gothic pile, and a cold, thin rain was falling. On Madame Buddenbrook’s account, the double windows had already been put in.

It was Thursday, the day on which all the members of the family living in town assembled every second week, by established custom. To-day, however, a few intimate friends as well had been bidden to a family dinner; and now, towards four o’clock in the afternoon, the Buddenbrooks sat in the gathering twilight and awaited their guests.

Little Antonie had not let her grandfather interfere with her toboggan-ride. She merely pouted, sticking out her already prominent upper lip still further over the lower one. She was at the bottom of her Mount Jerusalem, but not knowing[7] how to stop herself, she shot over the mark. “Amen,” she said. “I know something, Grandfather.”

Tiens!” cried the old gentleman. “She knows something!” He made as if he were itching all over with curiosity. “Did you hear, Mamma? She knows something. Can any one tell me—?”

“If the lightning,” uttered Tony, nodding her head with every word, “sets something on fire, then it’s the lightning that strikes. If it doesn’t, why, then it’s the thunder!” She folded her arms and looked around her like one sure of applause. But old Buddenbrook was annoyed by this display of wisdom. He demanded to know who had taught her such nonsense. It turned out that the culprit was the nursery governess, Ida Jungmann, who had lately been engaged from Marienwerder. The Consul had to come to her defence.

“You are too strict, Papa. Why shouldn’t the child have her own little ideas about such things, at her age?”

Excusez, mon cher!... Mais c’est une folie! You know I don’t like the children’s heads muddled with such things. ‘The thunder strikes,’ does it? Oh, very well, let it strike, and get along with your Prussian woman!”

The truth was, the old gentleman hadn’t a good word to say for Ida Jungmann. Not that he was narrow-minded. He had seen something of the world, having travelled by coach to Southern Germany in 1813 to buy up wheat for the Prussian army; he had been to Amsterdam and Paris, and was too enlightened to condemn everything that lay beyond the gabled roofs of his native town. But in social intercourse he was more apt than his son to draw the line rigidly and give the cold shoulder to strangers. So when this young girl—she was then only twenty—had come back with his children from a visit to Western Prussia, as a sort of charity-child, the old man had made his son a scene for the act of piety, in which he spoke hardly anything but French and low German. Ida[8] was the daughter of an inn-keeper who had died just before the Buddenbrooks’ arrival in Marienwerder. She had proved to be capable in the household and with the children, and her rigid honesty and Prussian notions of caste made her perfectly suited to her position in the family. She was a person of aristocratic principles, drawing hair-line distinctions between class and class, and very proud of her position as servant of the higher orders. She objected to Tony’s making friends with any schoolmate whom she reckoned as belonging only to the respectable middle class.

And now the Prussian woman herself came from the pillared hall through the glass door—a fairly tall, big-boned girl in a black frock, with smooth hair and an honest face. She held by the hand an extraordinarily thin small child, dressed in a flowered print frock, with lustreless ash-coloured hair and the manner of a little old maid. This was Clothilde, the daughter of a nephew of old Buddenbrook who belonged to a penniless branch of the family and was in business at Rostock as an estates agent. Clothilde was being brought up with Antonie, being about the same age and a docile little creature.

“Everything is ready,” Mamsell Jungmann said. She had had a hard time learning to pronounce her r’s, so now she rolled them tremendously in her throat. “Clothilde helped very well in the kitchen, so there was not much for cook to do.”

Monsieur Buddenbrook sneered behind his lace frill at Ida’s accent. The Consul patted his little niece’s cheek and said: “That’s right, Tilda. Work and pray. Tony ought to take a pattern from you; she’s far too likely to be saucy and idle.”

Tony dropped her head and looked at her grandfather from under her eyebrows. She knew he would defend her—he always did.

“No, no,” he said, “hold your head up, Tony. Don’t let them frighten you. We can’t all be alike. Each according[9] to his lights. Tilda is a good girl—but we’re not so bad, either. Hey, Betsy?”

He turned to his daughter-in-law, who generally deferred to his views. Madame Antoinette, probably more from shrewdness than conviction, sided with the Consul; and thus the older and the younger generation crossed hands in the dance of life.

“You are very kind, Papa,” the Consul’s wife said. “Tony will try her best to grow up a clever and industrious woman.... Have the boys come home from school?” she asked Ida.

Tony, who from her perch on her grandfather’s knee was looking out the window, called out in the same breath: “Tom and Christian are coming up Johannes Street ... and Herr Hoffstede ... and Uncle Doctor....”

The bells of St. Mary’s began to chime, ding-dong, ding-dong—rather out of time, so that one could hardly tell what they were playing; still, it was very impressive. The big and the little bell announced, the one in lively, the other in dignified tones, that it was four o’clock; and at the same time a shrill peal from the bell over the vestibule door went ringing through the entry, and Tom and Christian entered, together with the first guests, Jean Jacques Hoffstede, the poet, and Doctor Grabow, the family physician.



Herr Jean Jacques Hoffstede was the town poet. He undoubtedly had a few verses in his pocket for the present occasion. He was nearly as old as Johann Buddenbrook, and dressed in much the same style except that his coat was green instead of mouse-coloured. But he was thinner and more active than his old friend, with bright little greenish eyes and a long pointed nose.

“Many thanks,” he said, shaking hands with the gentlemen and bowing before the ladies—especially the Frau Consul, for whom he entertained a deep regard. Such bows as his it was not given to the younger generation to perform; and he accompanied them with his pleasant quiet smile. “Many thanks for your kind invitation, my dear good people. We met these two young ones, the Doctor and I”—he pointed to Tom and Christian, in their blue tunics and leather belts—“in King Street, coming home from school. Fine lads, eh, Frau Consul? Tom is a very solid chap. He’ll have to go into the business, no doubt of that. But Christian is a devil of a fellow—a young incroyable, hey? I will not conceal my engouement. He must study, I think—he is witty and brilliant.”

Old Buddenbrook used his gold snuff-box. “He’s a young monkey, that’s what he is. Why not say at once that he is to be a poet, Hoffstede?”

Mamsell Jungmann drew the curtains, and soon the room was bathed in mellow flickering light from the candles in the crystal chandelier and the sconces on the writing-desk. It lighted up golden gleams in the Frau Consul’s hair.

“Well, Christian,” she said, “what did you learn to-day?” It appeared that Christian had had writing, arithmetic, and[11] singing lessons. He was a boy of seven, who already resembled his father to an almost comic extent. He had the same rather small round deep-set eyes and the same prominent aquiline nose; the lines of his face below the cheek-bones showed that it would not always retain its present childlike fulness.

“We’ve been laughing dreadfully,” he began to prattle, his eyes darting from one to another of the circle. “What do you think Herr Stengel said to Siegmund Kostermann?” He bent his back, shook his head, and declaimed impressively: “‘Outwardly, outwardly, my dear child, you are sleek and smooth; but inwardly, my dear child, you are black and foul.’...” He mimicked with indescribably funny effect not only the master’s odd pronunciation but the look of disgust on his face at the “outward sleekness” he described. The whole company burst out laughing.

“Young monkey!” repeated old Buddenbrook. But Herr Hoffstede was in ecstasies. “Charmant!” he cried. “If you know Marcellus Stengel—that’s he, to the life. Oh, that’s too good!”

Thomas, to whom the gift of mimicry had been denied, stood near his younger brother and laughed heartily, without a trace of envy. His teeth were not very good, being small and yellowish. His nose was finely chiselled, and he strikingly resembled his grandfather in the eyes and the shape of the face.

The company had for the most part seated themselves on the chairs and the sofa. They talked with the children or discussed the unseasonable cold and the new house. Herr Hoffstede admired a beautiful Sèvres inkstand, in the shape of a black and white hunting dog, that stood on the secretary. Doctor Grabow, a man of about the Consul’s age, with a long mild face between thin whiskers, was looking at the table, set out with cakes and currant bread and saltcellars in different shapes. This was the “bread and salt” that had been sent by friends for the house-warming; but the[12] “bread” consisted of rich, heavy pastries, and the salt came in dishes of massive gold, that the senders might not seem to be mean in their gifts.

“There will be work for me here,” said the Doctor, pointing to the sweetmeats and threatening the children with his glance. Shaking his head, he picked up a heavy salt and pepper stand from the table.

“From Lebrecht Kröger,” said old Buddenbrook, with a grimace. “Our dear kinsman is always open-handed. I did not spend as much on him when he built his summer house outside the Castle Gate. But he has always been like that—very lordly, very free with his money, a real cavalier à-la-mode....”

The bell had rung several times. Pastor Wunderlich was announced; a stout old gentleman in a long black coat and powdered hair. He had twinkling grey eyes set in a face that was jovial if rather pale. He had been a widower for many years, and considered himself a bachelor of the old school, like Herr Gratjens, the broker, who entered with him. Herr Gratjens was a tall man who went around with one of his thin hands up to his eye like a telescope, as if he were examining a painting. He was a well-known art connoisseur.

Among the other guests were Senator Doctor Langhals and his wife, both friends of many years’ standing; and Köppen the wine-merchant, with his great crimson face between enormous padded sleeves. His wife, who came with him, was nearly as stout as he.

It was after half-past four when the Krögers put in an appearance—the elders together with their children; the Consul Krögers with their sons Jacob and Jürgen, who were about the age of Tom and Christian. On their heels came the parents of Frau Consul Kröger, the lumber-dealer Överdieck and his wife, a fond old pair who still addressed each other in public with nicknames from the days of their early love.

“Fine people come late,” said Consul Buddenbrook, and kissed his mother-in-law’s hand.

[13]“But look at them when they do come!” and Johann Buddenbrook included the whole Kröger connection with a sweeping gesture, and shook the elder Kröger by the hand. Lebrecht Kröger, the cavalier à-la-mode, was a tall, distinguished figure. He wore his hair slightly powdered, but dressed in the height of fashion, with a double row of jewelled buttons on his velvet waistcoat. His son Justus, with his turned-up mustache and small beard, was very like the father in figure and manner, even to the graceful easy motions of the hands.

The guests did not sit down, but stood about awaiting the principal event of the evening and passing the time in casual talk. At length, Johann Buddenbrook the older offered his arm to Madame Köppen and said in an elevated voice, “Well, mesdames et messieurs, if you are hungry....”

Mamsell Jungmann and the servant had opened the folding doors into the dining-room; and the company made its way with studied ease to table. One could be sure of a good square meal at the Buddenbrooks’.



As the party began to move toward the dining-room, Consul Buddenbrook’s hand went to his left breast-pocket and fingered a paper that was inside. The polite smile had left his face, giving place to a strained and care-worn look, and the muscles stood out on his temples as he clenched his teeth. For appearance’s sake he made a few steps toward the dining-room, but stopped and sought his mother’s eye as she was leaving the room on Pastor Wunderlich’s arm, among the last of her guests.

“Pardon me, dear Herr Pastor ... just a word with you, Mamma.” The Pastor nodded gaily, and the Consul drew his Mother over to the window of the landscape-room.

“Here is a letter from Gotthold,” he said in low, rapid tones. He took out the sealed and folded paper and looked into her dark eyes. “That is his writing. It is the third one, and Papa answered only the first. What shall I do? It came at two o’clock, and I ought to have given it to him already, but I do not like to upset him to-day. What do you think? I could call him out here....”

“No, you are right, Jean; it is better to wait,” said Madame Buddenbrook. She grasped her son’s arm with a quick, habitual movement. “What do you suppose is in it?” she added uneasily. “The boy won’t give in. He’s taken it into his head he must be compensated for his share in the house.... No, no, Jean. Not now. To-night, perhaps, before we go to bed.”

“What am I to do?” repeated the Consul, shaking his bent head. “I have often wanted to ask Papa to give in. I don’t like it to look as if I had schemed against Gotthold and worked myself into a snug place. I don’t want Father to look at it[15] like that, either. But, to be honest ... I am a partner, after all. And Betsy and I pay a fair rent for the second storey. It is all arranged with my sister in Frankfort: her husband gets compensation already, in Papa’s life-time—a quarter of the purchase price of the house. That is good business: Papa arranged it very cleverly, and it is very satisfactory from the point of view of the firm. And if Papa acts so unfriendly to Gotthold—”

“Nonsense, Jean. Your position in the matter is quite clear. But it is painful for me to have Gotthold think that his step-mother looks out after her own children and deliberately makes bad blood between him and his father!”

“But it is his own fault,” the Consul almost shouted, and then, with a glance at the dining-room door, lowered his voice. “It is his fault, the whole wretched thing. You can judge for yourself. Why couldn’t he be reasonable? Why did he have to go and marry that Stüwing girl and ... the shop....” The Consul gave an angry, embarrassed laugh at the last word. “It’s a weakness of Father’s, that prejudice against the shop; but Gotthold ought to have respected it....”

“Oh, Jean, it would be best if Papa would give in.”

“But ought I to advise him to?” whispered the Consul excitedly, clapping his hand to his forehead. “I am an interested party, so I ought to say, Pay it. But I am also a partner. And if Papa thinks he is under no obligation to a disobedient and rebellious son to draw the money out of the working capital of the firm.... It is a matter of eleven thousand thaler, a good bit of money. No, no, I cannot advise him either for or against. I’d rather wash my hands of the whole affair. But the scene with Papa is so désagréable—”

“Late this evening, Jean. Come now; they are waiting.”

The Consul put the paper back into his breast-pocket, offered his arm to his mother, and led her over the threshold into the brightly lighted dining-room, where the company had already taken their places at the long table.

[16]The tapestries in this room had a sky-blue background, against which, between slender columns, white figures of gods and goddesses stood out with plastic effect. The heavy red damask window-curtains were drawn; stiff, massive sofas in red damask stood ranged against the walls; and in each corner stood a tall gilt candelabrum with eight flaming candles, besides those in silver sconces on the table. Above the heavy sideboard, on the wall opposite the landscape-room, hung a large painting of an Italian bay, the misty blue atmosphere of which was most effective in the candle-light.

Every trace of care or disquiet had vanished from Madame Buddenbrook’s face. She sat down between Pastor Wunderlich and the elder Kröger, who presided on the window side.

“Bon appétit!” she said, with her short, quick, hearty nod, flashing a glance down the whole length of the table till it reached the children at the bottom.



Our best respects to you, Buddenbrook—I repeat, our best respects!” Herr Köppen’s powerful voice drowned the general conversation as the maid-servant, in her heavy striped petticoat, her fat arms bare and a little white cap on the back of her head, passed the cabbage soup and toast, assisted by Mamsell Jungmann and the Frau Consul’s maid from upstairs. The guests began to use their soup-spoons.

“Such plenty, such elegance! I must say, you know how to do things!—I must say—” Herr Köppen had never visited the house in its former owner’s time. He did not come of a patrician family, and had only lately become a man of means. He could never quite get rid of certain vulgar tricks of speech—like the repetition of “I must say”; and he said “respecks” for “respects.”

“It didn’t cost anything, either,” remarked Herr Gratjens drily—he certainly ought to have known—and studied the wall-painting through the hollow of his hand.

As far as possible, ladies and gentlemen had been paired off, and members of the family placed between friends of the house. But the arrangement could not be carried out in every case; the two Överdiecks were sitting, as usual, nearly on each other’s laps, nodding affectionately at one another. The elder Kröger was bolt upright, enthroned between Madame Antoinette and Frau Senator Langhals, dividing his pet jokes and his flourishes between the two ladies.

“When was the house built?” asked Herr Hoffstede diagonally across the table of old Buddenbrook, who was talking in a gay chaffing tone with Madame Köppen.

“Anno ... let me see ... about 1680, if I am not mistaken. My son is better at dates than I am.”

[18]“Eighty-two,” said the Consul, leaning forward. He was sitting at the foot of the table, without a partner, next to Senator Langhals. “It was finished in the winter of 1682. Ratenkamp and Company were just getting to the top of their form.... Sad, how the firm broke down in the last twenty years!”

A general pause in the conversation ensued, lasting for half a minute, while the company looked down at their plates and pondered on the fortunes of the brilliant family who had built and lived in the house and then, broken and impoverished, had left it.

“Yes,” said Broker Gratjens, “it’s sad, when you think of the madness that led to their ruin. If Dietrich Ratenkamp had not taken that fellow Geelmaack for a partner! I flung up my hands, I know, when he came into the management. I have it on the best authority, gentlemen, that he speculated disgracefully behind Ratenkamp’s back, and gave notes and acceptances right and left in the firm’s name.... Finally the game was up. The banks got suspicious, the firm couldn’t give security.... You haven’t the least idea ... who looked after the warehouse, even? Geelmaack, perhaps? It was a perfect rats’ nest there, year in, year out. But Ratenkamp never troubled himself about it.”

“He was like a man paralysed,” the Consul said. A gloomy, taciturn look came on his face. He leaned over and stirred his soup, now and then giving a quick glance, with his little round deep-set eyes, at the upper end of the table.

“He went about like a man with a load on his mind; I think one can understand his burden. What made him take Geelmaack into the business—a man who brought painfully little capital, and had not the best of reputations? He must have felt the need of sharing his heavy responsibility with some one, not much matter who, because he realized that the end was inevitable. The firm was ruined, the old family passée. Geelmaack only gave it the last push over the edge.”

[19]Pastor Wunderlich filled his own and his neighbour’s wineglass. “So you think my dear Consul,” he said with a discreet smile, “that even without Geelmaack, things would have turned out just as they did?”

“Oh, probably not,” the Consul said thoughtfully, not addressing anybody in particular. “But I do think that Dietrich Ratenkamp was driven by fate when he took Geelmaack into partnership. That was the way his destiny was to be fulfilled.... He acted under the pressure of inexorable necessity. I think he knew more or less what his partner was doing, and what the state of affairs was at the warehouse. But he was paralyzed.”

Assez, Jean,” interposed old Buddenbrook, laying down his spoon. “That’s one of your idées....”

The Consul rather absently lifted his glass to his father. Lebrecht Kröger broke in: “Let’s stick by the jolly present!” He took up a bottle of white wine that had a little silver stag on the stopper; and with one of his fastidious, elegant motions he held it on its side and examined the label. “C. F. Köppen,” he read, and nodded to the wine-merchant. “Ah, yes, where should we be without you?”

Madame Antoinette kept a sharp eye on the servants while they changed the gilt-edged Meissen plates; Mamsell Jungmann called orders through the speaking-tube into the kitchen, and the fish was brought in. Pastor Wunderlich remarked, as he helped himself:

“This ‘jolly present’ isn’t such a matter of course as it seems, either. The young folk here can hardly realize, I suppose, that things could ever have been different from what they are now. But I think I may fairly claim to have had a personal share, more than once, in the fortunes of the Buddenbrook family. Whenever I see one of these, for instance—” he picked up one of the heavy silver spoons and turned to Madame Antoinette—“I can’t help wondering whether they belong to the set that our friend the philosopher Lenoir, Sergeant under his Majesty the Emperor Napoleon,[20] had in his hands in the year 1806—and I think of our meeting in Alf Street, Madame.”

Madame Buddenbrook looked down at her plate with a smile half of memory, half of embarrassment. Tom and Tony, at the bottom of the table, cried out almost with one voice, “Oh, yes, tell about it, Grandmama!” They did not want the fish, and they had been listening attentively to the conversation of their elders. But the Pastor knew that she would not care to speak herself of an incident that had been rather painful to her. He came to her rescue and launched out once more upon the old story. It was new, perhaps, to one or two of the present company. As for the children, they could have listened to it a hundred times.

“Well, imagine a November afternoon, cold and rainy, a wretched day; and me coming back down Alf Street from some parochial duty. I was thinking of the hard times we were having. Prince Blücher had gone, and the French were in the town. There was little outward sign of the excitement that reigned everywhere: the streets were quiet, and people stopped close in their houses. Prahl the master-butcher had been shot through the head, just for standing at the door of his shop with his hands in his pockets and making a menacing remark about its being hard to stand. Well, thought I to myself, I’ll just have a look in at the Buddenbrooks’. Herr Buddenbrook is down with erysipelas, and Madame has a great deal to do, on account of the billeting.

“At that very moment, whom should I see coming towards me but our honored Madame Buddenbrook herself? What a state she was in! hurrying through the rain hatless, stumbling rather than walking, with a shawl flung over her shoulders, and her hair falling down—yes, Madame, it is quite true, it was falling down!

“‘This is a pleasant surprise,’ I said. She never saw me, and I made bold to lay my hand on her sleeve, for my mind misgave me about the state of things. ‘Where are you off to in such a hurry, my dear?’ She realized who I was, looked at[21] me, and burst out: ‘Farewell, farewell! All is over—I’m going into the river!’

“‘God forbid,’ cried I—I could feel that I went white. ‘That is no place for you, my dear.’ And I held her as tightly as decorum permitted. ‘What has happened?’ ‘What has happened!’ she cried, all trembling. ‘They’ve got at the silver, Wunderlich! That’s what has happened! And Jean lies there with erysipelas and can’t do anything—he couldn’t even if he were up. They are stealing my spoons, Wunderlich, and I am going into the river!’

“Well, I kept holding her, and I said what one would in such cases: ‘Courage, dear lady. It will be all right. Control yourself, I beg of you. We will go and speak with them. Let us go.’ And I got her to go back up the street to her house. The soldiery were up in the dining-room, where Madame had left them, some twenty of them, at the great silver-chest.

“‘Gentlemen,’ I say politely, ‘with which one of you may I have the pleasure of a little conversation?’ ‘They begin to laugh, and they say: ‘With all of us, Papa.’ But one of them steps out and presents himself, a fellow as tall as a tree, with a black waxed moustache and big red hands sticking out of his braided cuffs. ‘Lenoir,’ he said, and saluted with his left hand, for he had five or six spoons in his right. ‘Sergeant Lenoir. What can I do for you?’

“‘Herr Officer,’ I say, appealing to his sense of honour, ‘after your magnificent charge, how can you stoop to this sort of thing? The town has not closed its gates to the Emperor.’

“‘What do you expect?’ he answered. ‘War is war. The people need these things....’

“‘But you ought to be careful,’ I interrupted him, for an idea had come into my head. ‘This lady,’ I said—one will say anything at a time like that—‘the lady of the house, she isn’t a German. She is almost a compatriot of yours—she is a Frenchwoman....’ ‘Oh, a Frenchwoman,’ he repeated. And then what do you suppose he said, this big swashbuckler?[22] ‘Oh, an emigrée? Then she is an enemy of philosophy!’

“I was quite taken aback, but I managed not to laugh. ‘You are a man of intellect, I see,’ said I. ‘I repeat that I consider your conduct unworthy.’ He was silent for a moment. Then he got red, tossed his half-dozen spoons back into the chest, and exclaimed, ‘Who told you I was going to do anything with these things but look at them? It’s fine silver. If one or two of my men take a piece as a souvenir....’

“Well, in the end, they took plenty of souvenirs, of course. No use appealing to justice, either human or divine. I suppose they knew no other god than that terrible little Corsican....”



Did you ever see him, Herr Pastor?”

The plates were being changed again. An enormous brick-red boiled ham appeared, strewn with crumbs and served with a sour brown onion sauce, and so many vegetables that the company could have satisfied their appetites from that one vegetable-dish. Lebrecht Kröger undertook the carving, and skilfully cut the succulent slices, with his elbows slightly elevated and his two long forefingers laid out along the back of the knife and fork. With the ham went the Frau Consul’s celebrated “Russian jam,” a pungent fruit conserve flavoured with spirits.

No, Pastor Wunderlich regretted to say that he had never set eyes on Bonaparte. Old Buddenbrook and Jean Jacques Hoffstede had both seen him face to face, one in Paris just before the Russian campaign, reviewing the troops at the Tuileries; the other in Dantzig.

“I must say, he wasn’t a very cheerful person to look at,” said the poet, raising his brows, as he disposed of a forkful of ham, potato, and sprouts. “But they say he was in a lively mood, at Dantzig. There was a story they used to tell, about how he would gamble all day with the Germans, and make them pay up too, and then spend the evening playing with his generals. Once he swept a handful of gold off the table, and said: ‘Les Allemands aiment beaucoup ces petits Napoléons, n’est-ce pas, Rapp?’ ‘Oui, Sire, plus que le Grand!’ Rapp answered.”

There was general laughter—Hoffstede had told the story very prettily, even mimicking the Emperor’s manner. Old Buddenbrook said: “Well, joking aside, one can’t help having[24] respect for his personal greatness.... What a nature!”

The Consul shook his head gravely.

“No, no—we of the younger generation do not see why we should revere the man who murdered the Duc d’Engien, and butchered eight hundred prisoners in Egypt....”

“All that is probably exaggerated and overdrawn,” said Pastor Wunderlich. “The Duke was very likely a feather-brained and seditious person, and as for the prisoners, their execution was probably the deliberate and necessary policy of a council of war.” And he went on to speak of a book at which he had been looking, by one of the Emperor’s secretaries, which had appeared some years before and was well worth reading.

“All the same,” persisted the Consul, snuffing a flickering candle in the sconce in front of him, “I cannot understand it—I cannot understand the admiration people have for this monster. As a Christian, as a religious man, I can find no room in my heart for such a feeling.”

He had, as he spoke, the slightly inclined head and the rapt look of a man in a vision. His father and Pastor Wunderlich could be seen to exchange the smallest of smiles.

“Well, anyhow,” grinned the old man, “the little napoleons aren’t so bad, eh? My son has more enthusiasm for Louis Philippe,” he said to the company in general.

“Enthusiasm?” repeated Jean Jacques Hoffstede, rather sarcastically.... “That is a curious juxtaposition, Philippe Égalité and enthusiasm....”

“God knows, I feel we have much to learn from the July Monarchy,” the Consul said, with serious zeal. “The friendly and helpful attitude of French constitutionalism toward the new, practical ideals and interests of our time ... is something we should be deeply thankful for....”

“Practical ideals—well, ye-es—” The elder Buddenbrook gave his jaws a moment’s rest and played with his gold snuff-box. “Practical ideals—well—h’m—they don’t appeal to me in the least.” He dropped into dialect, out of sheer vexation.[25] “We have trade schools and technical schools and commercial schools springing up on every corner; the high schools and the classical education suddenly turn out to be all foolishness, and the whole world thinks of nothing but mines and factories and making money.... That’s all very fine, of course. But in the long run, pretty stupid, isn’t it?... I don’t know why, but it irritates me like the deuce.... I don’t mean, Jean, that the July Monarchy is not an admirable régime....”

Senator Langhals, as well as Gratjens and Köppen, stood by the Consul.... They felt that high praise was due to the French government, and to similar efforts that were being made in Germany. It was worthy of all respect—Herr Köppen called it “respeck.” He had grown more and more crimson from eating, and puffed audibly as he spoke. Pastor Wunderlich had not changed colour; he looked as pale, refined, and alert as ever, while drinking down glass after glass of wine.

The candles burned down slowly in their sockets. Now and then they flickered in a draught and dispersed a faint smell of wax over the table.

There they all sat, on heavy, high-backed chairs, consuming good heavy food from good heavy silver plate, drinking full-bodied wines and expressing their views freely on all subjects. When they began to talk shop, they slipped unconsciously more and more into dialect, and used the clumsy but comfortable idioms that seemed to embody to them the business efficiency and the easy well-being of their community. Sometimes they even used an overdrawn pronunciation by way of making fun of themselves and each other, and relished their clipped phrases and exaggerated vowels with the same heartiness as they did their food.

The ladies had not long followed the discussion. Madame Kröger gave them the cue by setting forth a tempting method of boiling carp in red wine. “You cut it into nice pieces, my dear, and put it in the saucepan, add some cloves, and[26] onions, and a few rusks, a little sugar, and a spoonful of butter, and set it on the fire.... But don’t wash it, on any account. All the blood must remain in it.”

The elder Kröger was telling the most delightful stories; and his son Justus, who sat with Dr. Grabow down at the bottom of the table, near the children, was chaffing Mamsell Jungmann. She screwed up her brown eyes and stood her knife and fork upright on the table and moved them back and forth. Even the Överdiecks were very lively. Old Frau Överdieck had a new pet name for her husband: “You good old bell-wether,” she said, and laughed so hard that her cap bobbed up and down.

But all the various conversations around the table flowed together in one stream when Jean Jacques Hoffstede embarked upon his favourite theme, and began to describe the Italian journey which he had taken fifteen years before with a rich Hamburg relative. He told of Venice, Rome, and Vesuvius, of the Villa Borghese, where Goethe had written part of his Faust; he waxed enthusiastic over the beautiful Renaissance fountains that wafted coolness upon the warm Italian air, and the formal gardens through the avenues of which it was so enchanting to stroll. Some one mentioned the big wilderness of a garden outside the Castle Gate, that belonged to the Buddenbrooks.

“Upon my word,” the old man said, “I still feel angry with myself that I have never put it into some kind of order. I was out there the other day—and it is really a disgrace, a perfect primeval forest. It would be a pretty bit of property, if the grass were cut and the trees trimmed into formal shapes.”

The Consul protested strenuously. “Oh, no, Papa! I love to go out there in the summer and walk in the undergrowth; it would quite spoil the place to trim and prune its free natural beauty.”

“But, deuce take it, the free natural beauty belongs to me—haven’t I the right to put it in order if I like?”

“Ah, Father, when I go out there and lie in the long grass[27] among the undergrowth, I have a feeling that I belong to nature and not she to me....”

“Krishan, don’t eat too much,” the old man suddenly called out, in dialect. “Never mind about Tilda—it doesn’t hurt her. She can put it away like a dozen harvest hands, that child!”

And truly it was amazing, the prowess of this scraggy child with the long, old-maidish face. Asked if she wanted more soup, she answered in a meek drawling voice: “Ye-es, ple-ase.” She had two large helpings both of fish and ham, with piles of vegetables; and she bent short-sightedly over her plate, completely absorbed in the food, which she chewed ruminantly, in large mouthfuls. “Oh, Un-cle,” she replied, with amiable simplicity, to the old man’s gibe, which did not in the least disconcert her. She ate: whether it tasted good or not, whether they teased her or not, she smiled and kept on, heaping her plate with good things, with the instinctive, insensitive voracity of a poor relation—patient, persevering, hungry, and lean.



And now came, in two great cut-glass dishes, the “Plettenpudding.” It was made of layers of macaroons, raspberries, lady-fingers, and custard. At the same time, at the other end of the table, appeared the blazing plum-pudding which was the children’s favourite sweet.

“Thomas, my son, come here a minute,” said Johann Buddenbrook, taking his great bunch of keys from his trousers pocket. “In the second cellar to the right, the second bin, behind the red Bordeaux, two bottles—you understand?” Thomas, to whom such orders were familiar, ran off and soon came back with the two bottles, covered with dust and cobwebs; and the little dessert-glasses were filled with sweet, golden-yellow malmsey from these unsightly receptacles. Now the moment came when Pastor Wunderlich rose, glass in hand, to propose a toast; and the company fell silent to listen. He spoke in the pleasant, conversational tone which he liked to use in the pulpit; his head a little on one side, a subtle, humorous smile on his pale face, gesturing easily with his free hand. “Come, my honest friends, let us honour ourselves by drinking a glass of this excellent liquor to the health of our host and hostess in their beautiful new home. Come, then—to the health of the Buddenbrook family, present and absent! May they live long and prosper!”

“Absent?” thought the Consul to himself, bowing as the company lifted their glasses. “Is he referring to the Frankfort Buddenbrooks, or perhaps the Duchamps in Hamburg—or did old Wunderlich really mean something by that?” He stood up and clinked glasses with his father, looking him affectionately in the eye.

[29]Broker Gratjens got up next, and his speech was rather long-winded; he ended by proposing in his high-pitched voice a health to the firm of Johann Buddenbrook, that it might continue to grow and prosper and do honour to the town.

Johann Buddenbrook thanked them all for their kindness, first as head of the family and then as senior partner of the firm—and sent Thomas for another bottle of Malmsey. It had been a mistake to suppose that two would be enough.

Lebrecht Kröger spoke too. He took the liberty of remaining seated, because it looked less formal, and gestured with his head and hands most charmingly as he proposed a toast to the two ladies of the family, Madame Antoinette and the Frau Consul. As he finished, the Plettenpudding was nearly consumed, and the Malmsey nearing its end; and then, to a universal, long-drawn “Ah-h!” Jean Jacques Hoffstede rose up slowly, clearing his throat. The children clapped their hands with delight.

Excusez! I really couldn’t help it,” he began. He put his finger to his long sharp nose and drew a paper from his coat pocket.... A profound silence reigned throughout the room.

His paper was gaily parti-coloured. On the outside of it was written, in an oval border surrounded by red flowers and a profusion of gilt flourishes:

On the occasion of my friendly participation in a delightful house-warming party given by the Buddenbrook family. October 1835.

He read this aloud first; then turning the paper over, he began, in a voice that was already somewhat tremulous:

Honoured friends, my modest lay
Hastes to greet you in these walls:
May kind Heaven grant to-day
Blessing on their spacious halls.
Thee, my friend with silver hair,
And thy faithful, loving spouse,
And your children young and fair—
I salute you, and your house.
Industry and beauty chaste
See we linked in marriage band:
Venus Anadyomene
And cunning Vulcan’s busy hand.
May no future storms dismay
With unkind blast the joyful hour;
May each new returning day
Blessings on your pathway shower.
Ceaselessly shall I rejoice
O’er the fortune that is yours:
As to-day I lift my voice,
May I still, while life endures.
In your splendid walls live well,
And cherish with affection true
Him who in his humble cell
Penned to-day these lines for you

He bowed to a unanimous outburst of applause.

“Charming, Hoffstede,” cried old Buddenbrook. “It was too charming for words. I drink your health.”

But when the Frau Consul touched glasses with the poet, a delicate blush mantled her cheek; for she had seen the courtly bow he made in her direction when he came to the part about the Venus Anadyomene.



The general merriment had now reached its height. Herr Köppen felt a great need to unfasten a few buttons of his waistcoat; but it obviously wouldn’t do, for not even the elderly gentlemen were permitting themselves the liberty. Lebrecht Kröger sat up as straight as he did at the beginning; Pastor Wunderlich’s face was as pale as ever, his manner as correct. The elder Buddenbrook had indeed sat back a little in his chair, but he maintained perfect decorum. There was only Justus Kröger—he was plainly a little overtaken.

But where was Dr. Grabow? The butter, cheese and fruit had just been handed round; and the Frau Consul rose from her chair and unobtrusively followed the waitress from the room; for the Doctor, Mamsell Jungmann, and Christian were no longer in their places, and a smothered wail was proceeding from the hall. There in the dim light, little Christian was half-lying, half-crouching on the round settee that encircled the central pillar. He was uttering heart-breaking groans. Ida and the Doctor stood beside him.

“Oh dear, oh dear,” said she, “the poor child is very bad!”

“I’m ill, Mamma, damned ill,” whimpered Christian, his little deep-set eyes darting back and forth, and his big nose looking bigger than ever. The “damned” came out in a tone of utter despair; but the Frau Consul said: “If we use such words, God will punish us by making us suffer still more!”

Doctor Grabow felt the lad’s pulse. His kindly face grew longer and gentler.

“It’s nothing much, Frau Consul,” he reassured her. “A touch of indigestion.” He prescribed in his best bed-side manner: “Better put him to bed and give him a Dover powder—perhaps[32] a cup of camomile tea, to bring out the perspiration.... And a rigorous diet, you know, Frau Consul. A little pigeon, a little French bread....”

“I don’t want any pigeon,” bellowed Christian angrily. “I don’t want to eat anything, ever any more. I’m ill, I tell you, damned ill!” The fervour with which he uttered the bad word seemed to bring him relief.

Doctor Grabow smiled to himself—a thoughtful, almost a melancholy smile. He would soon eat again, this young man. He would do as the rest of the world did—his father, and all their relatives and friends: he would lead a sedentary life and eat four good, rich, satisfying meals a day. Well, God bless us all! He, Friedrich Grabow, was not the man to upset the habits of these prosperous, comfortable tradesmen and their families. He would come when he was sent for, prescribe a few days’ diet—a little pigeon, a slice of French bread—yes, yes, and assure the family that it was nothing serious this time. Young as he was, he had held the head of many an honest burgher who had eaten his last joint of smoked meat, his last stuffed turkey, and, whether overtaken unaware in his counting-house or after a brief illness in his solid old four-poster, had commended his soul to God. Then it was called paralysis, a “stroke,” a sudden death. And he, Friedrich Grabow, could have predicted it, on all of these occasions when it was “nothing serious this time”—or perhaps at the times when he had not even been summoned, when there had only been a slight giddiness after luncheon. Well, God bless us all! He, Friedrich Grabow, was not the man to despise a roast turkey himself. That ham with onion sauce had been delicious, hang it! And the Plettenpudding, when they were already stuffed full—macaroons, raspberries, custard.... “A rigorous diet, Frau Consul, as I say. A little pigeon, a little French bread....”



They were rising from table.

“Well, ladies and gentlemen, gesegnete Mahlzeit! Cigars and coffee in the next room, and a liqueur if Madame feels generous.... Billiards for whoever chooses. Jean, you will show them the way back to the billiard-room? Madame Köppen, may I have the honour?”

Full of well-being, laughing and chattering, the company trooped back through the folding doors into the landscape-room. The Consul remained behind, and collected about him the gentlemen who wanted to play billiards.

“You won’t try a game, Father?”

No, Lebrecht Kröger would stop with the ladies, but Justus might go if he liked.... Senator Langhals, Köppen, Gratjens, and Doctor Grabow went with the Consul, and Jean Jacques Hoffstede said he would join them later. “Johann Buddenbrook is going to play the flute,” he said. “I must stop for that. Au revoir, messieurs.

As the gentlemen passed through the hall, they could hear from the landscape-room the first notes of the flute, accompanied by the Frau Consul on the harmonium: an airy, charming little melody that floated sweetly through the lofty rooms. The Consul listened as long as he could. He would have liked to stop behind in an easy-chair in the landscape-room and indulge the reveries that the music conjured up; but his duties as host....

“Bring some coffee and cigars into the billiard-room,” he said to the maid whom he met in the entry.

“Yes, Line, coffee!” Herr Köppen echoed, in a rich, well-fed voice, trying to pinch the girl’s red arm. The c came[34] from far back in his throat, as if he were already swallowing the coffee.

“I’m sure Madame Köppen saw you through the glass,” Consul Kröger remarked.

“So you live up there, Buddenbrook?” asked Senator Langhals. To the right a broad white staircase with a carved baluster led up to the sleeping-chambers of the Consul’s family in the second storey; to the left came another row of rooms. The party descended the stairs, smoking, and the Consul halted at the landing.

“The entresol has three rooms,” he explained—“the breakfast-room, my parents’ sleeping-chamber, and a third room which is seldom used. A corridor runs along all three.... This way, please. The wagons drive through the entry; they can go all the way out to Bakers’ Alley at the back.”

The broad echoing passageway below was paved with great square flagstones. At either end of it were several offices. The odour of the onion sauce still floated out from the kitchen, which, with the entrance to the cellars, lay on the left of the steps. On the right, at the height of a storey above the passageway, a scaffolding of ungainly but neatly varnished rafters thrust out from the wall, supporting the servants’ quarters above. A sort of ladder which led up to them from the passage was their only means of ingress or egress. Below the scaffolding were some enormous old cupboards and a carved chest.

Two low, worn steps led through a glass door out to the courtyard and the small wash-house. From here you could look into the pretty little garden, which was well laid out, though just now brown and sodden with the autumn rains, its beds protected with straw mats against the cold. At the other end of the garden rose the “portal,” the rococo façade of the summer house. From the courtyard, however, the party took the path to the left, leading between two walls through another courtyard to the annexe.

They entered by slippery steps into a cellar-like vault with[35] an earthen floor, which was used as a granary and provided with a rope for hauling up the sacks. A pair of stairs led up to the first storey, where the Consul opened a white door and admitted his guests to the billiard-room.

It was a bare, severe-looking room, with stiff chairs ranged round the sides. Herr Köppen flung himself exhausted into one of them. “I’ll look on for a while,” said he, brushing the wet from his coat. “It’s the devil of a Sabbath day’s journey through your house, Buddenbrook!”

Here too the stove was burning merrily, behind a brass lattice. Through the three high, narrow windows one looked out over red roofs gleaming with the wet, grey gables and courtyards.

The Consul took the cues out of the rack. “Shall we play a carambolage, Senator?” he asked. He went around and closed the pockets on both tables. “Who is playing with us? Gratjens? The Doctor? All right. Then will you take the other table, Gratjens and Justus? Köppen, you’ll have to play.”

The wine-merchant stood up and listened, with his mouth full of smoke. A violent gust of wind whistled between the houses, lashed the window-panes with rain, and howled down the chimney.

“Good Lord!” he said, blowing out the smoke. “Do you think the Wullenwewer will get into port, Buddenbrook? What abominable weather!”

Yes, and the news from Travemünde was not of the best, Consul Kröger agreed, chalking his cue. Storms everywhere on the coast. Nearly as bad as in 1824, the year of the great flood in St. Petersburg. Well, here was the coffee.

They poured it out and drank a little and began their game. The talk turned upon the Customs Union, and Consul Buddenbrook waxed enthusiastic.

“An inspiration, gentlemen,” he said. He finished a shot and turned to the other table, where the topic had begun. “We ought to join at the earliest opportunity.”

[36]Herr Köppen disagreed. He fairly snorted in opposition. “How about our independence?” he asked incensed, supporting himself belligerently on his cue. “How about our self-determination? Would Hamburg consent to be a party to this Prussian scheme? We might as well be annexed at once! Heaven save us, what do we want of a customs union? Aren’t we well enough as we are?”

“Yes, you and your red wine, Köppen. And the Russian products are all right. But there is little or nothing else imported. As for exports, well, we send a little corn to Holland and England, it is true. But I think we are far from being well enough as we are. In days gone by a very different business went on. Now, with the Customs Union, the Mecklenburgs and Schleswig-Holstein would be opened up—and private business would increase beyond all reckoning....”

“But look here, Buddenbrook,” Gratjens broke in, leaning far over the table and shifting his cue in his bony hand as he took careful aim, “I don’t get the idea. Certainly our own system is perfectly simple and practical. Clearing on the security of a civic oath—”

“A fine old institution,” the Consul admitted.

“Do you call it fine, Herr Consul?” Senator Langhals spoke with some heat. “I am not a merchant; but to speak frankly—well, I think this civic oath business has become little short of a farce: everybody makes light of it, and the State pockets the loss. One hears things that are simply scandalous. I am convinced that our entry into the Customs Union, so far as the Senate is concerned—”

Herr Köppen flung down his cue. “Then there will be a conflick,” he said heatedly, forgetting to be careful with his pronunciation. “I know what I’m sayin’—God help you, but you don’t know what you’re talkin’ about, beggin’ your pardon.”

Well, thank goodness! thought the rest of the company, as Jean Jacques entered at this point. He and Pastor[37] Wunderlich came together, arm in arm, two cheerful, unaffected old men from another and less troubled age.

“Here, my friends,” he began. “I have something for you: a little rhymed epigram from the French.”

He sat down comfortably opposite the billiard-players, who leaned upon their cues across the tables. Drawing a paper from his pocket and laying his long finger with the signet ring to the side of his pointed nose, he read aloud, with a mock-heroic intonation:

“When the Maréchal Saxe and the proud Pompadour
Were driving out gaily in gilt coach and four,
Frelon spied the pair: ‘Oh, see them,’ he cried:
‘The sword of our king—and his sheath, side by side.’”

Herr Köppen looked disconcerted for a minute. Then he dropped the “conflick” where it was and joined in the hearty laughter that echoed to the ceiling of the billiard-room. Pastor Wunderlich withdrew to the window, but the movement of his shoulders betrayed that he was chuckling to himself.

Herr Hoffstede had more ammunition of the same sort in his pocket, and the gentlemen remained for some time in the billiard-room. Herr Köppen unbuttoned his waistcoat all the way down, and felt much more at ease here than in the dining-room. He gave vent to droll low-German expressions at every turn, and at frequent intervals began reciting to himself with enormous relish:

“When the Maréchal Saxe....”

It sounded quite different in his harsh bass.



It was rather late, nearly eleven, when the party began to break up. They had reassembled in the landscape-room, and they all made their adieux at the same time. The Frau Consul, as soon as her hand had been kissed in farewell, went upstairs to see how Christian was doing. To Mamsell Jungmann was left the supervision of the maids as they set things to rights and put away the silver. Madame Antoinette retired to the entresol. But the Consul accompanied his guests downstairs, across the entry, and outside the house.

A high wind was driving the rain slantwise through the streets as the old Krögers, wrapped in heavy fur mantles, slipped as fast as they could into their carriage. It had been waiting for hours before the door. The street was lighted by the flickering yellow rays from oil lamps hanging on posts before the houses or suspended on heavy chains across the streets. The projecting fronts of some of the houses jutted out into the roadway; others had porticos or raised benches added on. The street ran steeply down to the River Trave; it was badly paved, and sodden grass sprang up between the cracks. The church of St. Mary’s was entirely shrouded in rain and darkness.

Merci,” said Lebrecht Kröger, shaking the Consul’s hand as he stood by the carriage door. “Merci, Jean; it was too charming!” The door slammed, and the carriage drove off. Pastor Wunderlich and Broker Gratjens expressed their thanks and went their way. Herr Köppen, in a mantle with a five-fold cape and a broad grey hat, took his plump wife on his arm and said in his gruff bass: “G’night, Buddenbrook. Go in, go in; don’t catch cold. Best thanks for everything—don’t[39] know when I’ve fed so well! So you like my red wine at four marks? Well, g’night, again.”

The Köppens went in the same direction as the Krögers, down toward the river; Senator Langhals, Doctor Grabow, and Jean Jacques Hoffstede turned the other way. Consul Buddenbrook stood with his hands in his trousers pockets and listened to their footsteps as they died away down the empty, damp, dimly-lighted street. He shivered a little in his light clothes as he stood there a few paces from his own house, and turned to look up at its grey gabled façade. His eyes lingered upon the motto carved in the stone over the entrance, in antique lettering: Dominus providebit—“The Lord will provide.” He bowed his head a little and went in, bolting the door carefully behind him. Then he locked the vestibule door and walked slowly across the echoing floor of the great entry. The cook was coming down the stairs with a tray of glasses in her hands, and he asked her, “Where’s the master, Trina?”

“In the dining-room, Herr Consul,” said she, and her face went as red as her arms, for she came from the country and was very bashful.

As he passed through the dark hall, he felt in his pocket for the letter. Then he went quickly into the dining-room, where a few small candle-ends in one of the candelabra cast a dim light over the empty table. The sour smell of the onion sauce still hung on the air.

Over by the windows Johann Buddenbrook was pacing comfortably up and down, with his hands behind his back.



Well, Johann, my son, where are you going?” He stood still and put his hand out to his son—his white Buddenbrook hand, a little too short, though finely modelled. His active figure showed indistinctly against the dark-red curtains, the only gleams of white being from his powdered hair and the lace frill at his throat.

“Aren’t you sleepy? I’ve been here listening to the wind; the weather is something fearful. Captain Kloot is on his way from Riga....”

“Oh, Father, with God’s help all will be well.”

“Well, do you think I can depend on that? I know you are on intimate terms with the Almighty—”

The Consul felt his courage rise at this display of good humour.

“Well, to get to the point,” he began, “I came in here not to bid you good night, but to—you won’t be angry, will you, Papa?... I didn’t want to disturb you with this letter on such a festive occasion ... it came this afternoon....”

Monsieur Gotthold, voilà!” The old man affected to be quite unmoved as he took the sealed blue paper. “Herr Johann Buddenbrook, Senior. Personal. A careful man, your step-brother, Jean! Have I answered his second letter, that came the other day? And so now he writes me a third.” The old man’s rosy face grew sterner as he opened the seal with one finger, unfolded the thin paper, and gave it a smart rap with the back of his hand as he turned about to catch the light from the candles. The very handwriting of this letter seemed to express revolt and disloyalty. All the Buddenbrooks wrote a fine, flowing hand; but these tall straight[41] letters were full of heavy strokes, and many of the words were hastily underlined.

The Consul had drawn back a little to where the row of chairs stood against the wall; he did not sit down, as his father did not; but he grasped one of the high chair-backs nervously and watched the old man while he read, his lips moving rapidly, his brows drawn together, and his head on one side.


I am probably mistaken in entertaining any further hope of your sense of justice or any appreciation of my feelings at receiving no reply from my second pressing letter concerning the matter in question. I do not comment again on the character of the reply I received to my first one. I feel compelled to say, however, that the way in which you, by your lamentable obstinacy, are widening the rift between us, is a sin for which you will one day have to answer grievously before the judgment seat of God. It is sad enough that when I followed the dictates of my heart and married against your wishes, and further wounded your insensate pride by taking over a shop, you should have repulsed me so cruelly and remorselessly; but the way in which you now treat me cries out to Heaven, and you are utterly mistaken if you imagine that I intend to accept your silence without a struggle. The purchase price of your newly acquired house in the Mengstrasse was a hundred thousand marks; and I am aware that Johann, your business partner and your son by your second marriage, is living with you as your tenant, and after your death will become the sole proprietor of both house and business. With my step-sister in Frankfort, you have entered into agreements which are no concern of mine. But what does concern me, your eldest son, is that you carry your un-Christian spirit so far as to refuse me a penny of compensation for my share in the house. When you gave me a hundred thousand marks on my marriage and to set me up in business, and told me that a similar sum and no more should be bequeathed me by will, I said nothing, for I was not at the time sufficiently informed as to the amount[42] of your fortune. Now I know more: and not regarding myself as disinherited in principle, I claim as my right the sum of thirty-three thousand and three hundred and thirty-three marks current, or a third of the purchase price. I make no comment on the damnable influences which are responsible for the treatment I have received. But I protest against them with my whole sense of justice as a Christian and a business man. Let me tell you for the last time that, if you cannot bring yourself to recognize the justice of my claims, I shall no longer be able to respect you as a Christian, a parent, or a man of business.

Gotthold Buddenbrook.

“You will excuse me for saying that I don’t get much pleasure out of reading that rigmarole all over again.—Voilà!” And Johann Buddenbrook tossed the letter to his son, with a contemptuous gesture. The Consul picked it up as it fluttered to his feet, and looked at his father with troubled eyes, while the old man took the long candle-snuffers from their place by the window and with angry strides crossed the room to the candelabrum in the corner.

Assez, I say. N’en parlons plus! To bed with you—en avant!” He quenched one flame after another under the little metal cap. There were only two candles left when the elder turned again to his son, whom he could hardly see at the far end of the room.

Eh bien—what are you standing there for? Why don’t you say something?”

“What shall I say, Father? I am thoroughly taken aback.”

“You are pretty easily taken aback, then,” Johann Buddenbrook rapped out irritably, though he knew that the reproach was far from being a just one. His son was in fact often his superior when it came to a quick decision upon the advantageous course.

“‘Damnable influences,’” the Consul quoted. “That is the first line I can make out. Do you know how it makes[43] me feel, Father? And he reproaches us with ‘unchristian behaviour!’”

“You’ll let yourself be bluffed by this miserable scribble, will you?” Johann Buddenbrook strode across to his son, dragging the extinguisher on its long stick behind him. “‘Unchristian behaviour!’ Ha! He shows good taste, doesn’t he, this canting money-grabber? I don’t know what to make of you young people! Your heads are full of fantastic religious humbug—practical idealism, the July Monarchy, and what not: and we old folk are supposed to be wretched cynics. And then you abuse your poor old Father in the coarsest way rather than give up a few thousand thaler.... So he deigns to look down upon me as a business man, does he? Well, as a business man, I know what faux-frais are!—Faux-frais,” he repeated, rolling the r in his throat. “I sha’n’t make this high-falutin scamp of a son any fonder of me by giving him what he asks for, it seems to me.”

“What can I say, Father? I don’t care to feel that he has any justification when he talks of ‘influences.’ As an interested party I don’t like to tell you to stick out, but— It seems to me I’m as good a Christian as Gotthold ... but still....”

“‘Still’—that is exactly it, Jean, you are right to say ‘still.’ What is the real state of the case? He got infatuated with his Mademoiselle Stüwing and wouldn’t listen to reason; he made scene after scene, and finally he married her, after I had absolutely refused to give my consent. Then I wrote to him: ‘Mon très cher fils: you are marrying our shop—very well, that’s an end of it. We cease to be on friendly terms from now on. I won’t cut you off, or do anything melodramatic. I am sending you a hundred thousand marks as a wedding present, and I’ll leave you another hundred thousand in my will. But that is absolutely all you’ll get, not another shilling!’ That shut his mouth.—What have our arrangements got to do with him? Suppose you and your[44] sister do get a bit more, and the house has been bought out of your share?”

“Father, surely you can understand how painful my position is! I ought to advise you in the interest of family harmony—but....” The Consul sighed. Johann Buddenbrook peered at him, in the dim light, to see what his expression was. One of the two candles had gone out of itself; the other was flickering. Every now and then a tall, smiling white figure seemed to step momentarily out of the tapestry and then back again.

“Father,” said the Consul softly. “This affair with Gotthold depresses me.”

“What’s all this sentimentality, Jean? How does it depress you?”

“We were all so happy here to-day, Father; we had a glorious celebration, and we felt proud and glad of what we have accomplished, and of having raised the family and firm to a position of honour and respect.... But this bitter feud with my own brother, with your eldest son, is like a hidden crack in the building we have erected. A family should be united, Father. It must keep together. ‘A house divided against itself will fall.’”

“There you are with your milk-and-water stuff, Jean! All I say is, he’s an insolent young puppy.”

A pause ensued. The last candle burned lower and lower.

“What are you doing, Jean?” asked Johann Buddenbrook. “I can’t see you.”

The Consul said shortly, “I’m calculating.” He was standing erect, and the expression in his eyes had changed. They had looked dreamy all the evening; but now they stared into the candle-flame with a cold sharp gaze. “Either you give thirty-three thousand, three hundred and thirty-three marks to Gotthold, and fifteen thousand to the family in Frankfort—that makes forty-eight thousand, three hundred and thirty-five in all—or, you give nothing to Gotthold, and twenty-five thousand to the family in Frankfort. That means a gain of twenty-three[45] thousand, three hundred and thirty-five for the firm. But there is more to it than that. If you give Gotthold a compensation for the house, you’ve started the ball rolling. He is likely to demand equal shares with my sister and me after your death, which would mean a loss of hundreds of thousands to the firm. The firm could not face it, and I, as sole head, could not face it either.” He made a vigorous gesture and drew himself more erect than before. “No, Papa,” he said, and his tone bespoke finality, “I must advise you not to give in.”

“Bravo!” cried the old man. “There’s an end of it! N’en parlons plus! En avant! Let’s get to bed.”

And he extinguished the last candle. They groped through the pitch-dark hall, and at the foot of the stairs they stopped and shook hands.

“Good night, Jean. And cheer up. These little worries aren’t anything. See you at breakfast!”

The Consul went up to his rooms, and the old man felt his way along the baluster and down to the entresol. Soon the rambling old house lay wrapped in darkness and silence. Hopes, fears, and ambitions all slumbered, while the rain fell and the autumn wind whistled around gables and street corners.







It was mid-April, two and a half years later. The spring was more advanced than usual, and with the spring had come to the Buddenbrook family a joy that made old Johann sing about the house and moved his son to the depths of his heart.

The Consul sat at the big roll-top writing-desk in the window of the breakfast-room, at nine o’clock one Sunday morning. He had before him a stout leather portfolio stuffed with papers, from among which he had drawn a gilt-edged notebook with an embossed cover, and was busily writing in it in his small, thin, flowing script. His hand hurried over the paper, never pausing except to dip his quill in the ink.

Both the windows were open, and the spring breeze wafted delicate odours into the room, lifting the curtains gently. The garden was full of young buds and bathed in tender sunshine; a pair of birds called and answered each other pertly. The sunshine was strong, too, on the white linen of the breakfast-table and the gilt-borders of the old china.

The folding doors into the bedroom were open, and the voice of old Johann could be heard inside, singing softly to a quaint and ancient tune:

A kind papa, a worthy man,
He rocks the baby in the cradle,
He feeds the children sugar-plums
And stirs the porridge with a ladle.

He sat beside the little green-curtained cradle, close to the Frau Consul’s lofty bed, and rocked it softly with one hand. Madame Antoinette, in a white lace cap and an apron over[50] her striped frock, was busy with flannel and linen at the table. The old couple had given up their bedroom to the Frau Consul for the time being, to make things easier for the servants, and were sleeping in the unused room in the entresol.

Consul Buddenbrook gave scarcely a glance at the adjoining room, so absorbed was he in his work. His face wore an expression of earnest, almost suffering piety, his mouth slightly open, the chin a little dropped; his eyes filled from time to time. He wrote:

“To-day, April 14, 1838, at six o’clock in the morning, my dear wife, Elizabeth Buddenbrook, born Kröger, was, by God’s gracious help, happily delivered of a daughter, who will receive the name of Clara in Holy Baptism. Yea, the Lord hath holpen mightily; for according to Doctor Grabow, the birth was somewhat premature, and her condition not of the best. She suffered great pain. Oh, Lord God of Sabaoth, where is there any other God save Thee? who helpest us in all our times of need and danger, and teachest us to know Thy will aright, that we may fear Thee and obey Thy commandments! O Lord, lead us and guide us all, so long as we live upon this earth....” The pen hurried glibly over the paper, with here and there a commercial flourish, talking with God in every line. Two pages further on: “I have taken out,” it said, “an insurance policy for my youngest daughter, of one hundred and fifty thaler current. Lead her, O Lord, in Thy ways, give her a pure heart, O God, that she may one day enter into the mansions of eternal peace. For inasmuch as our weak human hearts are prone to forget Thy priceless gift of the sweet, blessed Jesus....” And so on for three pages. Then he wrote “Amen.” But still the faint scratching sound of the pen went on, over several more pages. It wrote of the precious spring that refreshes the tired wanderer, of the Saviour’s holy wounds gushing blood, of the broad way and the narrow way, and the glory of the Eternal God. It is true that after a while the Consul began to feel that he had written[51] enough; that he might let well enough alone, and go in to see his wife, or out to the counting-house. Oh, fie, fie! Did one so soon weary of communion with his Lord and Saviour? Was it not robbing his God to scant Him of this service? No, he would go on, as a chastisement for these unholy impulses. He cited whole pages of Scripture, he prayed for his parents, his wife, his children, and himself, he prayed even for his brother Gotthold. And then, with a last quotation and three final “Amens,” he strewed sand on the paper and leaned back with a sigh of relief.

He crossed one leg over the other and slowly turned the pages of the notebook, reading dates and entries here and there, written in his own hand, and thanking the Lord afresh as he saw how in every time of need and danger He had stretched out His hand to aid. Once he had lain so ill of small-pox that his life had been despaired of—yet it had been saved. And once, when he was a boy, a beer-vat had fallen on him. A large quantity of beer was being brewed for a wedding, in the old days when the brewing was done at home; and a vat had fallen over, pinning the boy beneath it. It had taken six people to lift it up again, and his head had been crushed so that the blood ran down in streams. He was carried into a shop, and, as he still breathed, the doctor and the surgeon were sent for. They told the father to prepare for the worst and to bow to the will of God. But the Almighty had blessed the work of healing, and the boy was saved and restored to health. The Consul dwelt a while upon this account, re-living the accident in his mind. Then he took his pen again and wrote after his last “Amen”: “Yea, O God, I will eternally praise Thee!”

Another time, his life had been saved from danger by water, when he had gone to Bergen, as a young man. The account read:

“At high water, when the freight boats of the Northern Line are in, we have great difficulty getting through the press to our landing. I was standing on the edge of the scow, with[52] my feet on the thole-pins, leaning my back against the sailboat, trying to get the scow nearer in, when, as luck would have it, the oak thole-pins broke, and I went head over heels into the water. The first time I came up, nobody was near enough to get hold of me; the second time, the scow went over my head. There were plenty of people there anxious to save me, but they had to keep the sailboat and the scow off, so that I should not come up under them; and all their shoving would probably have been in vain if a rope had not suddenly broken on one of the sailboats belonging to the Line, so that she swung further out; and this, by the grace of God, gave me room enough to come up in free water. It was only the top of my head, with the hair, that they saw; but it was enough, for they were all lying on their stomachs with their heads sticking out over the scow, and the man at the bow grabbed me by the hair, and I got hold of his arm. He was in an unsafe position himself and could not hold me, but he gave a yell, and they all took hold of him around the waist and pulled. I hung on, though he bit me to make me let go. So they got me in at last.” There followed a long prayer of thanksgiving, which the Consul re-read with tear-wet eyes.

On another page he had said: “I could write much more, were I minded to reveal the passions of my youth....” The Consul passed over this, and began to read here and there from the period of his marriage and the birth of his first child. The union, to be frank, could hardly be called a love-match. His father had tapped him on the shoulder and pointed out to him the daughter of the wealthy Kröger, who could bring the firm a splendid marriage portion. He had accepted the situation with alacrity; and from the first moment had honoured his wife as the mate entrusted to him by God.

After all, his father’s second marriage had been of much the same kind.

“‘A kind Papa, a worthy man.’”

[53]He could still hear old Johann softly humming in the bedroom. What a pity he had so little taste for those old records! He stood with both feet firmly planted in the present, and concerned himself seldom with the past of his family. Yet in times gone by he too had made a few entries in the gilt-edged book. The Consul turned to those pages, written in a florid hand on rather coarse paper that was already yellowing with age. They were chiefly about his first marriage. Ah, Johann Buddenbrook must have adored his first wife, the daughter of a Bremen merchant! The one brief year it had been granted him to live with her was the happiest of his life—“l’année la plus heureuse de ma vie,” he had written there. The words were underlined with a wavy line, for all the world, even Madame Antoinette, to see.

Then Gotthold had come, and Josephine had died. And here some strange things had been written on the rough paper. Johann Buddenbrook must have openly and bitterly hated his child, even when, while still in the womb, it had caused its mother to faint and agonize under the lusty burden. It was born strong and active, while Josephine buried her bloodless face deeper in the pillows and passed away. Johann never forgave the ruthless intruder. He grew up vigorous and pushing, and Johann thought of him as his mother’s murderer. This was, to the Consul’s mind, incomprehensible. She had died, he thought, fulfilling the holy duty of a woman: “the love I bore to her would have passed over in all its tenderness to her child,” he said to himself. It had not been so. Later the father married again, his bride being Antoinette Duchamps, the daughter of a rich and much-esteemed Hamburg family, and the two had dwelt together with mutual respect and deference.

The Consul went on turning over the pages. There at the end were written the small histories of his own children: how Tom had had the measles, and Antonie jaundice, and Christian chicken-pox. There were accounts of various journeys he had taken with his wife, to Paris, Switzerland,[54] Marienbad. Then the Consul turned back to the front of the book, to some pages written in bluish ink, in a hand full of flourishes, on paper that was like parchment, but tattered and spotted with age. Here his grandfather Johann had set down the genealogy of the main branch of the Buddenbrooks. At the end of the sixteenth century, the first Buddenbrook of whom they had knowledge lived in Parchim, and his son had been a Senator of Grabau. Another Buddenbrook, a tailor by trade, and “very well-to-do” (this was underlined) had married in Rostock and begotten an extraordinary number of children, who lived or died, as the case might be. And again, another, this time a Johann, had lived in Rostock as a merchant, from whom the Consul’s grandfather had descended, who had left Rostock to settle himself in this very town, and was the founder of the present grain business. There was much about him set down in detail: when he had had the purples, and when genuine small-pox; when he had fallen out of the malt-kiln and been miraculously saved, when he might have fallen against the beams and been crushed; how he had had fever and been delirious—all these events were meticulously described. He had also written down wise admonitions for the benefit of his descendants, like the following, which was carefully painted and framed, in a tall Gothic script set off with a border: “My son, attend with zeal to thy business by day; but do none that hinders thee from thy sleep by night.” He had also stated that his old Wittenberg Bible was to descend to his eldest son, and thence from first-born to first-born in each generation.

Consul Buddenbrook reached for the old leather portfolio and took out the remaining documents. There were letters, on torn and yellow paper, written by anxious mothers to their sons abroad—which the sons had docketed: “Received and contents duly noted.” There were citizens’ papers, with the seal and crest of the free Hansa town; insurance policies; letters inviting this or that Buddenbrook to become god-father for a colleague’s child; congratulatory epistles and occasional[55] poems. Sons travelling for the firm to Stockholm or Amsterdam had written back, to the parent or partner at home, letters in which business was touchingly mingled with inquiries after wife and child. There was a separate diary of the Consul’s journey through England and Brabant; the cover had an engraving of Edinburgh Castle and the Grass-market. Lastly, there were Gotthold’s late angry letters to his father—painful documents, to offset which was the poem written by Jean Jacques Hoffstede to celebrate the house-warming.

A faint, rapid chime came from above the secretary, where there hung a dull-looking painting of an old market square, with a church-tower that possessed a real clock of its own. It was now striking the hour, in authentic if tiny tones. The Consul closed the portfolio and stowed it away carefully in a drawer at the back of the desk. Then he went into the bed-chamber.

Here the walls and the high old bed were hung with dark-flowered chintz, and there was in the air a feeling of repose, of convalescence—of calm after an anxious and painful ordeal. A mingled odour of cologne and drugs hung in the mild, dim-lighted atmosphere. The old pair bent over the cradle side by side and watched the slumbering child; and the Consul’s wife lay pale and happy, in an exquisite lace jacket, her hair carefully dressed. As she put out her hand to her husband, her gold bracelets tinkled slightly. She had a characteristic way of stretching out her hand with the palm upward, in a sweeping gesture that gave it added graciousness.

“Well, Betsy, how are you?”

“Splendid, splendid, my dear Jean.”

He still held her hand as he bent over and looked at the child, whose rapid little breaths were distinctly audible. For a moment he inhaled the tender warmth and the indescribable odour of well-being and cherishing care that came up from the cradle. Then he kissed the little creature on the brow[56] and said softly: “God bless you!” He noticed how like to a bird’s claws were the tiny yellow, crumpled fingers.

“She eats splendidly,” Madame Antoinette said. “See how she has gained.”

“I believe, on my soul, she looks like Netta,” old Johann said, beaming with pride and pleasure. “See what coal-black eyes she has!”

The old lady waved him away. “How can anybody tell who she looks like yet?” she said. “Are you going to church, Jean?”

“Yes, it is ten o’clock now, and high time. I am only waiting for the children.”

The children were already making an unseemly noise on the stairs, and Clothilde could be heard telling them to hush. They came in in their fur tippets—for it would still be wintry in St. Mary’s—trying to be soft and gentle in the sick-room. They wanted to see the little sister, and then go to church. Their faces were rosy with excitement. This was a wonderful red-letter day, for the stork had brought not only the baby sister, but all sorts of presents as well. How tremendously strong the stork must be, to carry all that! There was a new seal-skin school-bag for Tom, a big doll for Antonie, that had real hair—imagine that!—for Christian a complete toy theatre, with the Sultan, Death, and the Devil; and a book with pictures for demure Clothilde, who accepted it with thanks, but was more interested in the bag of sweeties that fell to her lot as well.

They kissed their mother, and were allowed a peep under the green curtains of the baby’s bed. Then off they went with their father, who had put on his fur coat and taken the hymn book. They were followed by the piercing cry of the new member of the family, who had just waked up.



Early in the summer, sometimes as early as May or June, Tony Buddenbrook always went on a visit to her grandparents, who lived outside the Castle Gate. This was a great pleasure.

For life was delightful out there in the country, in the luxurious villa with its many outbuildings, servants’ quarters and stables, and its great parterres, orchards, and kitchen-gardens, which ran steeply down to the river Trave. The Krögers lived in the grand style; there was a difference between their brilliant establishment and the solid, somewhat heavy comfort of the paternal home, which was obvious at a glance, and which impressed very much the young Demoiselle Buddenbrook.

Here there was no thought of duties in house or kitchen. In the Mengstrasse, though her Mother and Grandfather did not seem to think it important, her Father and her Grandmother were always telling her to remember her dusting, and holding up Clothilde as an example. The old feudal feeling of her Mother’s side of the family came out strongly in the little maid: one could see how she issued her orders to the footman or the abigail—and to her Grandmother’s servants and her Grandfather’s coachman as well.

Say what you will, it is pleasant to awake every morning in a large, gaily tapestried bed-chamber, and with one’s first movements to feel the soft satin of the coverlet under one’s hand; to take early breakfast in the balcony room, with the sweet fresh air coming up from the garden through the open glass door; to drink, instead of coffee, a cup of chocolate handed one on a tray—yes, proper birthday chocolate, with[58] a thick slice of fresh cup-cake! True, she had to eat her breakfast alone, except on Sundays, for her grandparents never came down until long after she had gone to school. When she had munched her cake and drunk her chocolate, she would snatch up her satchel and trip down the terrace and through the well-kept front garden.

She was very dainty, this little Tony Buddenbrook. Under her straw hat curled a wealth of blonde hair, slowly darkening with the years. Lively grey-blue eyes and a pouting upper lip gave her fresh face a roguish look, borne out by the poise of her graceful little figure; even the slender legs, in their immaculate white stockings, trotted along over the ground with an unmistakable air of ease and assurance. People knew and greeted the young daughter of Consul Buddenbrook as she came out of the garden gate and up the chestnut-bordered avenue. Perhaps an old market-woman, driving her little cart in from the village, would nod her head in its big flat straw hat with its light-green ribbons, and call out “Mornin’, little missy!” Or Matthiesen the porter, in his wide knee-breeches, white hose, and buckled shoes, would respectfully take off his hat as she passed.

Tony always waited for her neighbour, little Julie Hagenström; the two children went to school together. Julie was a high-shouldered child, with large, staring black eyes, who lived close by in a vine-covered house. Her people had not been long in the neighbourhood. The father, Herr Hagenström, had married a wife from Hamburg, with thick, heavy black hair and larger diamonds in her ears than any one had ever seen before. Her name was Semlinger. Hagenström was partner in the export firm of Strunck and Hagenström. He showed great zeal and ambition in municipal affairs, and was always acting on boards and committees and administrative bodies. But he was not very popular. His marriage had rather affronted the rigid traditions of the older families, like the Möllendorpfs, Langhals, and Buddenbrooks; and, for another thing, he seemed to enjoy thwarting their ideas[59] at every turn—he would go to work in an underhand way to oppose their interests, in order to show his own superior foresight and energy. “Heinrich Hagenström makes trouble the whole time,” the Consul would say. “He seems to take a personal pleasure in thwarting me. To-day he made a scene at the sitting of the Central Paupers’ Deputation; and a few days ago in the Finance Department....” “The old skunk!” Johann Buddenbrook interjected. Another time, father and son sat down to table angry and depressed. What was the matter? Oh, nothing. They had lost a big consignment of rye for Holland: Strunck and Hagenström had snapped it up under their noses. He was a fox, Heinrich Hagenström.

Tony had often heard such remarks, and she was not too well disposed toward Julie Hagenström; the two children walked together because they were neighbours, but usually they quarrelled.

“My Father owns a thousand thalers,” said Julchen. She thought she was uttering the most terrible falsehood. “How much does yours?”

Tony was speechless with envy and humiliation. Then she said, with a quiet, off-hand manner: “My chocolate tasted delicious this morning. What do you have for breakfast, Julie?”

“Before I forget it,” Julie would rejoin, “would you like one of my apples? Well, I won’t give you any!” She pursed up her lips, and her black eyes watered with satisfaction.

Sometimes Julie’s brother Hermann went to school at the same time with the two girls. There was another brother too, named Moritz, but he was sickly and did his lessons at home. Hermann was fair-haired and snub-nosed. He breathed through his mouth and was always smacking his lips.

“Stuff and nonsense!” he would say. “Papa has a lot more than a thousand thaler.” He interested Tony because of the luncheon he took to school: not bread, but a soft sort of[60] lemon bun with currants in it, and sausage or smoked goose between. It seemed to be his favourite luncheon. Tony had never seen anything like it before. Lemon bun, with smoked goose—it must be wonderful! He let her look into his box, and she asked if she might have some. Hermann said: “Not to-day, Tony, because I can’t spare any. But to-morrow I’ll bring another piece for you, if you’ll give me something.”

Next morning, Tony came out into the avenue, but there was no Julie. She waited five minutes, but there was no sign. Another minute—there came Hermann alone, swinging his lunch-box by the strap and smacking his lips.

“Now,” he said, “here’s a bun, with some goose between—all lean; there’s not a bit of fat to it. What will you give me for it?”

“A shilling?” suggested Tony. They were standing in the middle of the avenue.

“A shilling?” repeated Hermann. Then he gave a gulp and said, “No, I want something else.”

“What?” demanded Tony; for she was prepared to pay a good price for the dainty.

“A kiss!” shouted Hermann Hagenström. He flung his arms around Tony, and began kissing at random, never once touching her face, for she flung her head back with surprising agility, pushed him back with her left hand—it was holding her satchel—against his breast, while with her right hand she dealt him three or four blows in the face with all her strength. He stumbled backward; but at that moment sister Julie appeared from behind a tree, like a little black demon, and, falling upon Tony, tore off her hat and scratched her cheeks unmercifully. After this affair, naturally, the friendship was about at an end.

It was hardly out of shyness that Tony had refused the kiss. She was on the whole a forward damsel, and had given the Consul no little disquiet with her tomboy ways. She had a good little head, and did as well in the school as one could desire; but her conduct in other ways was far from[61] satisfactory. Things even went so far that one day the school-mistress, a certain Fräulein Agathe Vermehren, felt obliged to call upon the Frau Consul, and, flushed with embarrassment, to suggest with all due politeness that the child should receive a paternal admonition. It seemed that Tony, despite frequent correction, had been guilty, not for the first time, of creating a disturbance in the street!

There was, of course, no harm in the fact that the child knew everybody in town. The Consul quite approved of this, and argued that it displayed love of one’s neighbour, a sense of human fellowship, and a lack of snobbishness. So Tony, on her way through the streets, chattered with all and sundry. She and Tom would clamber about in the granaries on the water-side, among the piles of oats and wheat, prattling to the labourers and the clerks in the dark little ground-floor offices; they would even help haul up the sacks of grain. She knew the butchers with their trays and aprons, when she met them in Broad Street; she accosted the dairy women when they came in from the country, and made them take her a little way in their carts. She knew the grey-bearded craftsmen who sat in the narrow goldsmiths’ shops built into the arcades in the market square; and she knew the fish-wives, the fruit- and vegetable-women, and the porters that stood on the street corners chewing their tobacco.

So far, this was very well. But it was not all.

There was a pale, beardless man, of no particular age, who was often seen wandering up and down Broad Street with a wistful smile on his face. This man was so nervous that he jumped every time he heard a sudden noise behind him; and Tony delighted in making him jump every time she set eyes on him. Then there was an odd, tiny little woman with a large head, who put up a huge tattered umbrella at every sign of a storm. Tony would harass this poor soul with cries of “Mushroom!” whenever she had the chance. Moreover, she and two or three more of her ilk would go to the door of a tiny house in an alley off John Street, where there lived an[62] old woman who did a tiny trade in worsted dolls; they would ring the bell and, when the old dame appeared, inquire with deceptive courtesy, if Herr and Frau Spittoon were at home—and then run away screaming with laughter. All these ragamuffinly tricks Tony Buddenbrook was guilty of—indeed, she seemed to perform them with the best conscience in the world. If one of her victims threatened her, she would step back a pace or two, toss her pretty head, pout with her pretty lip, and say “Pooh!” in a half mocking, half angry tone which meant: “Try it if you like. I am Consul Buddenbrook’s daughter, if you don’t know!”

Thus she went about in the town like a little queen; and like a queen, she was kind or cruel to her subjects, as the whim seized her.



Jean Jacques Hoffstede’s verdict on the two sons of Consul Buddenbrook undoubtedly hit the mark.

Thomas had been marked from the cradle as a merchant and future member of the firm. He was on the modern side of the old school which the boys attended; an able, quick-witted, intelligent lad, always ready to laugh when his brother Christian mimicked the masters, which he did with uncanny facility. Christian, on the classical side, was not less gifted than Tom, but he was less serious. His special and particular joy in life was the imitation, in speech and manner, of a certain worthy Marcellus Stengel, who taught drawing, singing, and some other of the lighter branches.

This Herr Marcellus Stengel always had a round half-dozen beautifully sharpened pencils sticking out of his pocket. He wore a red wig and a light-brown coat that reached nearly down to his ankles; also a choker collar that came up almost to his temples. He was quite a wit, and loved to play with verbal distinctions, as: “You were to make a line, my child, and what have you made? You have made a dash!” In singing-class, his favourite lesson was “The Forest Green.” When they sang this, some of the pupils would go outside in the corridor; and then, when the chorus rose inside: “We ramble so gaily through field and wood,” those outside would repeat the last word very softly, as an echo. Once Christian Buddenbrook, his cousin Jürgen Kröger, and his chum Andreas Gieseke, the son of the Fire Commissioner, were deputed as echo; but when the moment came, they threw the coal-scuttle downstairs instead, and were kept in after school by Herr Stengel in consequence. But alas, by that time Herr[64] Stengel had forgotten their crime. He bade his housekeeper give them each a cup of coffee, and then dismissed them.

In truth, they were all admirable scholars, the masters who taught in the cloisters of the old school—once a monastic foundation—under the guidance of a kindly, snuff-taking old head. They were, to a man, well-meaning and sweet-humoured; and they were one in the belief that knowledge and good cheer are not mutually exclusive. The Latin classes in the middle forms were heard by a former preacher, one Pastor Shepherd, a tall man with brown whiskers and a twinkling eye, who joyed extremely in the happy coincidence of his name and calling, and missed no chance of having the boys translate the word pastor. His favourite expression was “boundlessly limited”; but it was never quite clear whether this was actually meant for a joke or not! When he wanted to dumbfound his pupils altogether, he would draw in his lips and blow them quickly out again, with a noise like the popping of a champagne cork. He would go up and down with long strides in his class-room, prophesying to one boy or another, with great vividness, the course which his life would take. He did this avowedly with the purpose of stimulating their imaginations; and then he would set to work seriously on the business in hand, which was to repeat certain verses on the rules of gender and difficult constructions. He had composed these verses himself, with no little skill, and took much pride in declaiming them, with great attention to rhyme and rhythm.

Thus passed Tom’s and Christian’s boyhood, with no great events to mark its course. There was sunshine in the Buddenbrook family, and in the office everything went famously. Only now and again there would be a sudden storm, a trifling mishap, like the following:

Herr Stuht the tailor had made a new suit for each of the Buddenbrook lads. Herr Stuht lived in Bell-Founders’ Street. He was a master tailor, and his wife bought and sold old clothes, and thus moved in the best circles of society. Herr[65] Stuht himself had an enormous belly, which hung down over his legs, wrapped in a flannel shirt. The suits he made for the young Masters Buddenbrook were at the combined cost of seventy marks; but at the boys’ request he had consented to put them down in the bill at eighty marks and to hand them the difference. It was just a little arrangement among themselves—not very honourable, indeed, but then, not very uncommon either. However, fate was unkind, and the bargain came to light. Herr Stuht was sent for to the Consul’s office, whither he came, with a black coat over his woollen shirt, and stood there while the Consul subjected Tom and Christian to a severe cross-examination. His head was bowed and his legs far apart, his manner vastly respectful. He tried to smooth things over as much as he could for the young gentlemen, and said that what was done was done, and he would be satisfied with the seventy marks. But the Consul was greatly incensed by the trick. He gave it long and serious consideration; yet finally ended by increasing the lads’ pocket-money—for was it not written: “Lead us not into temptation?”

It seemed probable that more might be expected from Thomas Buddenbrook than from his brother Christian. He was even-tempered, and his high spirits never crossed the bounds of discretion. Christian, on the other hand, was inclined to be moody: guilty at times of the most extravagant silliness, at others he would be seized by a whim which could terrify the rest of them in the most astonishing way.

The family are at table eating dessert and conversing pleasantly the while. Suddenly Christian turns pale and puts back on his plate the peach into which he has just bitten. His round, deep-set eyes, above the too-large nose, have opened wider.

“I will never eat another peach,” he says.

“Why not, Christian? What nonsense! What’s the matter?”

“Suppose I accidentally—suppose I swallowed the stone, and it stuck in my throat, so I couldn’t breathe, and I jumped[66] up, strangling horribly—and all of you jump up— Ugh...!” and he suddenly gives a short groan, full of horror and affright, starts up in his chair, and acts as if he were trying to escape.

The Frau Consul and Ida Jungmann actually do jump up.

“Heavens, Christian!—you haven’t swallowed it, have you?” For his whole appearance suggests that he has.

“No,” says Christian slowly. “No”—he is gradually quieting down—“I only mean, suppose I actually had swallowed it!”

The Consul has been pale with fright, but he recovers and begins to scold. Old Johann bangs his fist on the table and forbids any more of these idiotic practical jokes. But Christian, for a long, long time, eats no more peaches.



It was not simply the weakness of age that made Madame Antoinette Buddenbrook take to her lofty bed in the bed-chamber of the entresol, one cold January day after they had dwelt some six years in Meng Street. The old lady had remained hale and active, and carried her head, with its clustering white side-curls, proudly erect to the very last. She had gone with her husband and children to most of the large dinners given in the town, and presided no whit less elegantly than her daughter-in-law when the Buddenbrooks themselves entertained. But one day an indefinable malady had suddenly made itself felt—at first in the form of a slight intestinal catarrh, for which Dr. Grabow prescribed a mild diet of pigeon and French bread. This had been followed by colic and vomiting, which reduced her strength so rapidly as to bring about an alarming decline.

Dr. Grabow held hurried speech with the Consul, outside on the landing, and another doctor was called in consultation—a stout, black-bearded, gloomy-looking man who began going in and out with Dr. Grabow. And now the whole atmosphere of the house changed. They went about on their tip-toes and spoke in whispers. The wagons were no longer allowed to roll through the great entry-way below. They looked in each others’ eyes and saw there something strange. It was the idea of death that had entered, and was holding silent sway in the spacious rooms.

But there was no idle watching, for visitors came: old Senator Duchamps, the dying woman’s brother, from Hamburg, with his daughter; and a few days later, the Consul’s sister from Frankfort and her husband, who was a banker.[68] The illness lasted fourteen or fifteen days, during which the guests lived in the house, and Ida Jungmann had her hands full attending to the bedrooms and providing heavy breakfasts, with shrimps and port wine. Much roasting and baking went on in the kitchen.

Upstairs, Johann Buddenbrook sat by the sick-bed, his old Netta’s limp hand in his, and stared into space with his brows knitted and his lower lip hanging. A clock hung on the wall and ticked dully, with long pauses between; not so long, however, as the pauses between the dying woman’s fluttering breaths. A black-robed sister of mercy busied herself about the beef-tea which they still sought to make the patient take. Now and then some member of the family would appear at the door and disappear again.

Perhaps the old man was thinking how he had sat at the death-bed of his first wife, forty-six years before. Perhaps he recalled his frenzy of despair and contrasted it with the gentle melancholy which he felt now, as an old man, gazing into the face of his old wife—a face so changed, so listless, so void of expression. She had never given him either a great joy or a great sorrow; but she had decorously played her part beside him for many a long year—and now her life was ebbing away.

He was not thinking a great deal. He was only looking with fixed gaze back into his own past life and at life in general. It all seemed to him now quite strange and far away, and he shook his head a little. That empty noise and bustle, in the midst of which he had once stood, had flowed away imperceptibly and left him standing there, listening in wonder to sounds that died upon his ear. “Strange, strange,” he murmured.

Madame Buddenbrook breathed her last brief, effortless sigh; and they prayed by her side in the dining-room, where the service was held; and the bearers lifted the flower-covered coffin to carry it away. But old Johann did not weep. He only gave the same gentle, bewildered head-shake, and said,[69] with the same half-smiling look: “Strange, strange!” It became his most frequent expression. Plainly, the time for old Johann too was near at hand.

He would sit silent and absent in the family circle; sometimes with little Clara on his knee, to whom he would sing one of his droll catches, like

“The omnibus drives through the town”

or perhaps

“Look at the blue-fly a-buzzin’ on the wall.”

But he might suddenly stop in the middle, like one aroused out of a train of thought, put the child down on the floor, and move away, with his little head-shake and murmur “Strange, strange!” One day he said: “Jean—it’s about time, eh?”

It was soon afterward that neatly printed notices signed by father and son were sent about through the town, in which Johann Buddenbrook senior respectfully begged leave to announce that his increasing years obliged him to give up his former business activities, and that in consequence the firm of Johann Buddenbrook, founded by his late father anno 1768, would as from that day be transferred, with its assets and liabilities, to his son and former partner Johann Buddenbrook as sole proprietor; for whom he solicited a continuance of the confidence so widely bestowed upon him. Signed, with deep respect, Johann Buddenbrook—who would from now on cease to append his signature to business papers.

These announcements were no sooner sent out than the old man refused to set foot in the office; and his apathy so increased that it took only the most trifling cold to send him to bed, one March day two months after the death of his wife. One night more—then came the hour when the family gathered round his bed and he spoke to them: first to the Consul: “Good luck, Jean, and keep your courage up!” And then to[70] Thomas: “Be a help to your Father, Tom!” And to Christian: “Be something worth while!” Then he was silent, gazing at them all; and finally, with a last murmured “Strange!” he turned his face to the wall....

To the very end, he did not speak of Gotthold, and the latter encountered with silence the Consul’s written summons to his father’s death-bed. But early the next morning, before the announcements were sent out, as the Consul was about to go into the office to attend to some necessary business, Gotthold Buddenbrook, proprietor of the linen firm of Siegmund Stüwing and Company, came with rapid steps through the entry. He was forty-six years old, broad and stocky, and had thick ash-blond whiskers streaked with grey. His short legs were cased in baggy trousers of rough checked material. On the steps he met the Consul, and his eyebrows went up under the brim of his grey hat.

He did not put out his hand. “Johann,” he said, in a high-pitched, rather agreeable voice, “how is he?”

“He passed away last night,” the Consul said, with deep emotion, grasping his brother’s hand, which held an umbrella. “The best of fathers!”

Gotthold drew down his brows now, so low that the lids nearly closed. After a silence, he said pointedly: “Nothing was changed up to the end?”

The Consul let his hand drop and stepped back. His round, deep-set blue eyes flashed as he answered, “Nothing.”

Gotthold’s eyebrows went up again under his hat, and his eyes fixed themselves on his brother with an expression of suspense.

“And what have I to expect from your sense of justice?” he asked in a lower voice.

It was the Consul’s turn to look away. Then, without lifting his eyes, he made that downward gesture with his hand that always betokened decision; and in a quiet voice, but firmly, he answered:

“In this sad and solemn moment I have offered you my[71] brotherly hand. But if it is your intention to speak of business matters, then I can only reply in my capacity as head of the honourable firm whose sole proprietor I have to-day become. You can expect from me nothing that runs counter to the duties I have to-day assumed; all other feelings must be silent.”

Gotthold went away. But he came to the funeral, among the host of relatives, friends, business associates, deputies, clerks, porters, and labourers that filled the house, the stairs, and the corridors to overflowing and assembled all the hired coaches in town in a long row all the way down the Mengstrasse. Gotthold came, to the sincere joy of the Consul. He even brought his wife, born Stüwing, and his three grown daughters: Friederike and Henriette, who were too tall and thin, and Pfiffi, who was eighteen, and too short and fat.

Pastor Kölling of St. Mary’s, a heavy man with a bullet head and a rough manner of speaking, held the service at the grave, in the Buddenbrook family burying-ground, outside the Castle Gate, at the edge of the cemetery grove. He extolled the godly, temperate life of the deceased and compared it with that of “gluttons, drunkards, and profligates”—over which strong language some of the congregation shook their heads, thinking of the tact and moderation of their old Pastor Wunderlich, who had lately died. When the service and the burial were over, and the seventy or eighty hired coaches began to roll back to town, Gotthold Buddenbrook asked the Consul’s permission to go with him, that they might speak together in private. He sat with his brother on the back seat of the high, ungainly old coach, one short leg crossed over the other—and, wonderful to relate, he was gentle and conciliatory. He realized more and more, he said, that the Consul was bound to act as he was doing; and he was determined to cherish no bitter memories of his father. He renounced the claims he had put forward, the more readily that he had decided to retire from business and live upon his inheritance and what capital he had left; for he had no joy[72] of the linen business, and it was going so indifferently that he could not bring himself to put any more money into it.... “His spite against our Father brought him no blessing,” the Consul thought piously. Probably Gotthold thought so too.

When they got back, he went with his brother up to the breakfast-room; and as both gentlemen felt rather chilly, after standing so long in their dress-coats in the early spring air, they drank a glass of old cognac together. Then Gotthold exchanged a few courteous words with his sister-in-law, stroked the children’s heads, and went away. But he appeared at the next “children’s day,” which took place at the Krögers’, outside the Castle Gate. And he began to wind up his business at once.



It grieved the Consul sorely that the grandfather had not lived to see the entry of his grandson into the business—an event which took place at Easter-time of the same year.

Thomas had left school at sixteen. He was grown strong and sturdy, and his manly clothes made him look still older. He had been confirmed, and Pastor Kölling, in stentorian tones, had enjoined upon him to practice the virtues of moderation. A gold chain, bequeathed him by his grandfather, now hung about his neck, with the family arms on a medallion at the end—a rather dismal design, showing on an irregularly hatched surface a flat stretch of marshy country with one solitary, leafless willow tree. The old seal ring with the green stone, once worn, in all probability, by the well-to-do tailor in Rostock, had descended to the Consul, together with the great Bible.

Thomas’s likeness to his grandfather was as strong as Christian’s to his father. The firm round chin was the old man’s, and the straight, well-chiselled nose. Thomas wore his hair parted on one side, and it receded in two bays from his narrow veined temples. His eyelashes were colourless by contrast, and so were the eyebrows, one of which he had a habit of lifting expressively. His speech, his movements, even his laugh, which showed his rather defective teeth, were all quiet and adequate. He already looked forward seriously and eagerly to his career.

It was indeed a solemn moment when, after early breakfast, the Consul led him down into the office and introduced him to Herr Marcus the confidential clerk, Herr Havermann the cashier, and the rest of the staff, with all of whom, naturally,[74] he had long been on the best of terms. For the first time he sat at his desk, in his own revolving chair, absorbed in copying, stamping, and arranging papers. In the afternoon his father took him through the magazines on the Trave, each one of which had a special name, like the “Linden,” the “Oak,” the “Lion,” the “Whale.” Tom was thoroughly at home in every one of them, of course, but now for the first time he entered them to be formally introduced as a fellow worker.

He entered upon his tasks with devotion, imitating the quiet, tenacious industry of his father, who was working with his jaws set, and writing down many a prayer for help in his private diary. For the Consul had set himself the task of making good the sums paid out by the firm on the occasion of his father’s death. It was a conception ... an ideal.... He explained the position quite fully to his wife late one evening in the landscape-room.

It was half-past eleven, and Mamsell Jungmann and the children were already asleep in the corridor rooms. No one slept in the second storey now—it was empty save for an occasional guest. The Frau Consul sat on the yellow sofa beside her husband, and he, cigar in mouth, was reading the financial columns of the local paper. She bent over her embroidery, moving her lips as she counted a row of stitches with her needle. Six candles burned in a candelabrum on the slender sewing-table beside her, and the chandelier was unlighted.

Johann Buddenbrook was nearing the middle forties, and had visibly altered in the last years. His little round eyes seemed to have sunk deeper in his head, his cheek-bones and his large aquiline nose stood out more prominently than ever, and the ash-blond hair seemed to have been just touched with a powder-puff where it parted on the temples. The Frau Consul was at the end of her thirties, but, while never beautiful, was as brilliant as ever; her dead-white skin, with a single freckle here and there, had lost none of its splendour, and the candle-light shone on the rich red-blond hair that[75] was as wonderfully dressed as ever. Giving her husband a sidelong glance with her clear blue eyes, she said:

“Jean, I wanted to ask you to consider something: if it would not perhaps be advisable to engage a man-servant. I have just been coming to that conclusion. When I think of my parents—”

The Consul let his paper drop on his knee and took his cigar out of his mouth. A shrewd look came into his eyes: here was a question of money to be paid out.

“My dear Betsy,” he said—and he spoke as deliberately as possible, to gain time to muster his excuses—“do you think we need a man-servant? Since my parents’ death we have kept on all three maids, not counting Mamsell Jungmann. It seems to me—”

“Oh, but the house is so big, Jean. We can hardly get along as it is. I say to Line, ‘Line, it’s a fearfully long time since the rooms in the annexe were dusted’; but I don’t like to drive the girls too hard; they have their work cut out to keep everything clean and tidy here in the front. And a man-servant would be so useful for errands and so on. We could find some honest man from the country, who wouldn’t expect much.... Oh, before I forget it—Louise Möllendorpf is letting her Anton go. I’ve seen him serve nicely at table.”

“To tell you the truth,” said the Consul, and shuffled about a little uneasily, “it is a new idea to me. We aren’t either entertaining or going out just now—”

“No, but we have visitors very often—for which I am not responsible, Jean, as you know, though of course I am always glad to see them. You have a business friend from somewhere, and you invite him to dinner. Then he has not taken a room at a hotel, so we ask him to stop the night. A missionary comes, and stops the week with us. Week after next, Pastor Mathias is coming from Kannstadt. And the wages amount to so little—”

“But they mount up, Betsy! We have four people here in the house—and think of the pay-roll the firm has!”

[76]“So we really can’t afford a man-servant?” the Frau Consul asked. She smiled as she spoke, and looked at her husband with her head on one side. “When I think of all the servants my Father and Mother had—”

“My dear Betsy! Your parents— I really must ask you if you understand our financial position?”

“No, Jean, I must admit I do not. I’m afraid I have only a vague idea—”

“Well, I can tell you in a few words,” the Consul said. He sat up straight on the sofa, with one knee crossed over the other, puffed at his cigar, knit his brows a little, and marshalled his figures with wonderful fluency.

“To put it briefly, my Father had, before my sister’s marriage, a round sum of nine hundred thousand marks net, not counting, of course, real estate, and the stock and good will of the firm. Eighty thousand went to Frankfort as dowry, and a hundred thousand to set Gotthold up in business. That leaves seven hundred and twenty thousand. The price of this house, reckoning off what we got for the little one in Alf Street, and counting all the improvements and new furnishings, came to a good hundred thousand. That brings it down to six hundred and twenty thousand. Twenty-five thousand to Frankfort, as compensation on the house, leaves five hundred and ninety-five thousand—which is what we should have had at Father’s death if we hadn’t partly made up for all these expenses through years, by a profit of some two hundred thousand marks current. The entire capital amounted to seven hundred and ninety-five thousand marks, of which another hundred thousand went to Gotthold, and a few thousand marks for the minor legacies that Father left to the Holy Ghost Hospital, the Fund for Tradesmen’s Widows, and so on. That brings us down to around four hundred and twenty thousand, or another hundred thousand with your own dowry. There is the position, in round figures, aside from small fluctuations in the capital. You see, my dear Betsy, we are not rich. And while the capital has grown smaller, the running expenses[77] have not; for the whole business is established on a certain scale, which it costs about so much to maintain. Have you followed me?”

The Consul’s wife, her needlework in her lap, nodded with some hesitation. “Quite so, my dear Jean,” she said, though she was far from having understood everything, least of all what these big figures had to do with her engaging a man-servant.

The Consul puffed at his cigar till it glowed, threw back his head and blew out the smoke, and then went on:

“You are thinking, of course, that when God calls your dear parents unto Himself, we shall have a considerable sum to look forward to—and so we shall. But we must not reckon too blindly on it. Your Father has had some heavy losses, due, we all know, to your brother Justus. Justus is certainly a charming personality, but business is not his strong point, and he has had bad luck too. According to all accounts he has had to pay up pretty heavily, and transactions with bankers make dear money. Your Father has come to the rescue several times, to prevent a smash. That sort of thing may happen again—to speak frankly, I am afraid it will. You will forgive me, Betsy, for my plain speaking, but you know that the style of living which is so proper and pleasing in your Father is not at all suitable for a business man. Your Father has nothing to do with business any more; but Justus—you know what I mean—he isn’t very careful, is he? His ideas are too large, he is too impulsive. And your parents aren’t saving anything. They live a lordly life—as their circumstances permit them to.”

The Frau Consul smiled forbearingly. She well knew her husband’s opinion of the luxurious Kröger tastes.

“That’s all,” he said, and put his cigar into the ash-receiver. “As far as I’m concerned, I live in the hope that God will preserve my powers unimpaired, and that by His gracious help I may succeed in reëstablishing the firm on its old basis.... I hope you see the thing more clearly now, Betsy?”

[78]“Quite, quite, my dear Jean,” the Frau Consul hastened to reply; for she had given up the man-servant, for the evening. “Shall we go to bed? It is very late—”

A few days later, when the Consul came in to dinner in an unusually good mood, they decided at the table to engage the Möllendorpfs’ Anton.



We shall put Tony into Fräulein Weichbrodt’s boarding-school,” said the Consul. He said it with such decision that so it was.

Thomas was applying himself with talent to the business; Clara was a thriving, lively child; and the appetite of the good Clothilde must have pleased any heart alive. But Tony and Christian were hardly so satisfactory. It was not only that Christian had to stop nearly every afternoon for coffee with Herr Stengel—though even this became at length too much for the Frau Consul, and she sent a dainty missive to the master, summoning him to conference in Meng Street. Herr Stengel appeared in his Sunday wig and his tallest choker, bristling with lead-pencils like lance-heads, and they sat on the sofa in the landscape-room, while Christian hid in the dining-room and listened. The excellent man set out his views, with eloquence if some embarrassment: spoke of the difference between “line” and “dash,” told the tale of “The Forest Green” and the scuttle of coals, and made use in every other sentence of the phrase “in consequence.” It probably seemed to him a circumlocution suitable to the elegant surroundings in which he found himself. After a while the Consul came and drove Christian away. He expressed to Herr Stengel his lively regret that a son of his should give cause for dissatisfaction. “Oh, Herr Consul, God forbid! Buddenbrook minor has a wide-awake mind, he is a lively chap, and in consequence— Just a little too lively, if I might say so; and in consequence—” The Consul politely went with him through the hall to the entry, and Herr Stengel took his leave.... Ah, no, this was far from being the worst!

[80]The worst, when it became known, was as follows: Young Christian Buddenbrook had leave one evening to go to the theatre in company with a friend. The performance was Schiller’s Wilhelm Tell; and the rôle of Tell’s son Walter was played by a young lady, a certain Mademoiselle Meyer-de-la-Grange. Christian’s worst, then, had to do with this young person. She wore when on the stage, whether it suited her part or not, a diamond brooch, which was notoriously genuine; for, as everybody knew, it was the gift of young Consul Döhlmann—Peter Döhlmann, son of the deceased wholesale dealer in Wall Street outside Holsten Gate. Consul Peter, like Justus Kröger, belonged to the group of young men whom the town called “fast.” His way of life, that is to say, was rather loose! He had married, and had one child, a little daughter; but he had long ago quarrelled with his wife, and he led the life of a bachelor. His father had left him a considerable inheritance, and he carried on the business, after a fashion; but people said he was already living on his capital. He lived mostly at the Club or the Rathskeller, was often to be met somewhere in the street at four o’clock in the morning; and made frequent business trips to Hamburg. Above all, he was a zealous patron of the drama, and took a strong personal interest in the cast. Mademoiselle Meyer-de-la-Grange was the latest of a line of young ladies whom he had, in the past, distinguished by a gift of diamonds.

Well, to arrive at the point, this young lady looked so charming as Walter Tell, wore her brooch and spoke her lines with such effect, that Christian felt his heart swell with enthusiasm, and tears rose to his eyes. He was moved by his transports to a course that only the very violence of emotion could pursue. He ran during the entr’acte to a flower-shop opposite, where, for the sum of one mark eight and a half shillings, he got at a bargain a bunch of flowers; and then this fourteen-year-old sprat, with his big nose and his deep-lying eyes, took his way to the green-room, since nobody stopped him, and came upon Fräulein Meyer-de-la-Grange,[81] talking with Consul Peter Döhlmann at her dressing-room door. Peter Döhlmann nearly fell over with laughing when he saw Christian with the bouquet. But the new wooer, with a solemn face, bowed in his best manner before Walter Tell, handed her the bouquet, and, nodding his head, said in a voice of well-nigh tearful conviction: “Ah, Fräulein, how beautifully you act!”

“Well, hang me if it ain’t Krishan Buddenbrook!” Consul Döhlmann cried out, in his broadest accent. Fräulein Meyer-de-la-Grange lifted her pretty brows and asked: “The son of Consul Buddenbrook?” And she stroked the cheek of her young admirer with all the favour in the world.

Such was the story that Consul Peter Döhlmann told at the Club that night; it flew about the town like lightning, and reached the ears of the head master, who asked for an audience with Consul Buddenbrook. And how did the Father take this affair? He was, in truth, less angry than overwhelmed. He sat almost like a broken man, after telling the Frau Consul the story in the landscape-room.

“And this is our son,” he said. “So is he growing up—”

“But Jean! Good heavens, your Father would have laughed at it. Tell it to my Father and Mother on Thursday—you will see how Papa will enjoy it—”

But here the Consul rose up in anger. “Ah, yes, yes! I am sure he will enjoy it, Betsy. He will be glad to know that his light blood and impious desires live on, not only in a rake like Justus, his own son, but also in a grandson of his as well! Good God, you drive me to say these things!— He goes to this—person; he spends his pocket-money on flowers for this—lorette! I don’t say he knows what he is doing—yet. But the inclination shows itself—it shows itself, Betsy!”

Ah, yes, this was all very painful indeed. The Consul was perhaps the more beside himself for the added reason that Tony’s behaviour, too, had not been of the best. She had given up, it is true, shouting at the nervous stranger to make[82] him dance; and she no longer rang the doorbell of the tiny old woman who sold worsted dolls. But she threw back her head more pertly than ever, and showed, especially after the summer visits with her grandparents, a very strong tendency to vanity and arrogance of spirit.

One day the Consul surprised her and Mamsell Jungmann reading together. The book was Clauren’s “Mimili”; the Consul turned over some of the leaves, and then silently closed it—and it was opened no more. Soon afterward it came to light that Tony—Antonie Buddenbrook, no less a person—had been seen walking outside the City wall with a young student, a friend of her brother. Frau Stuht, she who moved in the best circles, had seen the pair, and had remarked at the Möllendorpfs’, whither she had gone to buy some cast-off clothing, that really Mademoiselle Buddenbrook was getting to the age where— And Frau Senator Möllendorpf had lightly repeated the story to the Consul. The pleasant strolls came to an end. Later it came out that Fräulein Antonie had made a post-office of the old hollow tree that stood near the Castle Gate, and not only posted therein letters addressed to the same student, but received letters from him as well by that means. When these facts came to light, they seemed to indicate the need of a more watchful oversight over the young lady, now fifteen years old; and she was accordingly, as we have already said, sent to boarding-school at Fräulein Weichbrodt’s, Number seven, Millbank.



Therese Weichbrodt was humpbacked. So humpbacked that she was not much higher than a table. She was forty-one years old. But as she had never put her faith in outward seeming, she dressed like an old lady of sixty or seventy. Upon her padded grey locks rested a cap the green ribbons of which fell down over shoulders narrow as a child’s. Nothing like an ornament ever graced her shabby black frock—only the large oval brooch with her mother’s miniature in it.

Little Miss Weichbrodt had shrewd, sharp brown eyes, a slightly hooked nose, and thin lips which she could compress with extraordinary firmness. In her whole insignificant figure, in her every movement, there indwelt a force which was, to be sure, somewhat comic, yet exacted respect. And her mode of speech helped to heighten the effect. She spoke with brisk, jerky motions of the lower jaw and quick, emphatic nods. She used no dialect, but enunciated clearly and with precision, stressing the consonants. Vowel-sounds, however, she exaggerated so much that she said, for instance, “botter” instead of “butter”—or even “batter!” Her little dog that was forever yelping she called Babby instead of Bobby. She would say to a pupil: “Don-n’t be so stu-upid, child,” and give two quick knocks on the table with her knuckle. It was very impressive—no doubt whatever about that! And when Mlle. Popinet, the Frenchwoman, took too much sugar to her coffee, Miss Weichbrodt had a way of gazing at the ceiling and drumming on the cloth with one hand while she said: “Why not take the who-ole sugar-basin? I would!” It always made Mlle. Popinet redden furiously.

As a child—heavens, what a tiny child she must have been!—Therese[84] Weichbrodt had given herself the nickname of Sesemi, and she still kept it, even letting the best and most favoured of the day as well as of the boarding-pupils use it. “Call me Sesemi, child,” she said on the first day to Tony Buddenbrook, kissing her briefly, with a sound as of a small explosion, on the forehead. “I like it.” Her elder sister, however, Madame Kethelsen, was called Nelly.

Madame Kethelsen was about forty-eight years old. She had been left penniless when her husband died, and now lived in a little upstairs bedroom in her sister’s house. She dressed like Sesemi, but by contrast was very tall. She wore woollen wristlets on her thin wrists. She was not a mistress, and knew nothing of discipline. A sort of inoffensive and placid cheerfulness was all her being. When one of the pupils played a prank, she would laugh so heartily that she nearly cried, and then Sesemi would rap on the table and call out “Nelly!” very sharply—it sounded like “Nally”—and Madame Kethelsen would shrink into herself and be mute.

Madame Kethelsen obeyed her younger sister, who scolded her as if she were a child. Sesemi, in fact, despised her warmly. Therese Weichbrodt was a well-read, almost a literary woman. She struggled endlessly to keep her childhood faith, her religious assurance that somewhere in the beyond she was to be recompensed for the hard, dull present. But Madame Kethelsen, innocent, uninstructed, was all simplicity of nature. “Dear, good Nelly, what a child she is! She never doubts or struggles, she is always happy.” In such remarks there was always as much contempt as envy. Contempt was a weakness of Sesemi’s—perhaps a pardonable one.

The small red-brick suburban house was surrounded by a neatly kept garden. Its lofty ground floor was entirely taken up by schoolrooms and dining-room; the bedrooms were in the upper storey and the attic. Miss Weichbrodt did not have a large number of pupils. As boarders she received only older girls, while the day-school consisted of but three classes, the lowest ones. Sesemi took care to have only the daughters[85] of irreproachably refined families in her house. Tony Buddenbrook, as we have seen, she welcomed most tenderly. She even made “bishop” for supper—a sort of sweet red punch to be taken cold, in the making of which she was a past mistress. “A little more beeshop,” she urged with a hearty nod. It sounded so tempting; nobody could resist!

Fräulein Weichbrodt sat on two sofa-cushions at the top of the table and presided over the meal with tact and discretion. She held her stunted figure stiffly erect, tapped vigilantly on the table, cried “Nally” or “Babby,” and subdued Mlle. Popinet with a glance whenever the latter seemed about to take unto herself all the cold veal jelly. Tony had been allotted a place between two other boarders, Armgard von Schilling, the strapping blond daughter of a Mecklenburg landowner, and Gerda Arnoldsen, whose home was in Amsterdam—an unusual, elegant figure, with dark-red hair, brown eyes close together, and a lovely, pale, haughty face. Opposite her sat a chattering French girl who looked like a negress, with huge gold earrings. The lean English Miss Brown, with her sourish smile, sat at the bottom of the table. She was a boarder too.

It was not hard, with the help of Sesemi’s bishop, to get acquainted. Mlle. Popinet had had nightmares again last night—ah, quel horreur! She usually screamed “Help, thieves; help, thieves!” until everybody jumped out of bed. Next, it appeared that Gerda Arnoldsen did not take piano like the rest of them, but the violin, and that Papa—her Mother was dead—had promised her a real Stradivarius. Tony was not musical—hardly any of the Buddenbrooks and none of the Krögers were. She could not even recognize the chorals they played at St. Mary’s.—Oh, the organ in the new Church at Amsterdam had a vox humana—a human voice—that was just wonderful. Armgard von Schilling talked about the cows at home.

It was Armgard who from the earliest moment had made a great impression on Tony. She was the first person from a[86] noble family whom Tony had ever known. What luck, to be called von Schilling! Her own parents had the most beautiful old house in the town, and her grandparents belonged to the best families; still, they were called plain Buddenbrook and Kröger—which was a pity, to be sure. The granddaughter of the proud Lebrecht Kröger glowed with reverence for Armgard’s noble birth. Privately, she sometimes thought that the splendid “von” went with her better than it did with Armgard; for Armgard did not appreciate her good luck, dear, no! She had a thick pigtail, good-natured blue eyes, and a broad Mecklenburg accent, and went about thinking just nothing at all on the subject. She made absolutely no pretentions to being aristocratic; in fact, she did not know what it was. But the word “aristocratic” stuck in Tony’s small head; and she emphatically applied it to Gerda Arnoldsen.

Gerda was rather exclusive, and had something foreign and queer about her. She liked to do up her splendid red hair in striking ways, despite Sesemi’s protests. Some of the girls thought it was “silly” of her to play the violin instead of the piano—and, be it known, “silly” was a term of very severe condemnation. Still, the girls mostly agreed with Tony that Gerda was aristocratic—in her figure, well-developed for her years; in her ways, her small possessions, everything. There was the ivory toilet set from Paris, for instance; that Tony could appreciate, for her own parents and grandparents also had treasures which had been brought from Paris.

The three girls soon made friends. They were in the same class and slept together in the same large room at the top of the house. What delightful, cosy times they had going to bed! They gossiped while they undressed—in undertones, however, for it was ten o’clock and next door Mlle. Popinet had gone to bed to dream of burglars. Eva Ewers slept with her. Eva was a little Hamburger, whose father, an amateur painter and collector, had settled in Munich.

The striped brown blinds were down, the low, red-shaded[87] lamp burned on the table, there was a faint smell of violets and fresh wash, and a delicious atmosphere of laziness and dreams.

“Heavens,” said Armgard, half undressed, sitting on her bed, “how Dr. Newmann can talk! He comes into the class and stands by the table and tells about Racine—”

“He has a lovely high forehead,” remarked Gerda, standing before the mirror between the windows and combing her hair by the light of two candles.

“Oh, yes, hasn’t he?” Armgard said eagerly.

“And you are taking the course just on his account, Armgard; you gaze at him all the time with your blue eyes, as if—”

“Are you in love with him?” asked Tony. “I can’t undo my shoe-lace; please, Gerda. Thanks. Why don’t you marry him? He is a good match—he will get to be a High School Professor.”

“I think you are both horrid. I’m not in love with him, and I would not marry a teacher, anyhow. I shall marry a country gentleman.”

“A nobleman?” Tony dropped her stocking and looked thoughtfully into Armgard’s face.

“I don’t know, yet. But he must have a large estate. Oh, girls, I just love that sort of thing! I shall get up at five o’clock every morning, and attend to everything....” She pulled up the bed-covers and stared dreamily at the ceiling.

“Five hundred cows are before your mind’s eye,” said Gerda, looking at her in the mirror.

Tony was not ready yet; but she let her head fall on the pillow, tucked her hands behind her neck, and gazed dreamily at the ceiling in her turn.

“Of course,” she said, “I shall marry a business man. He must have a lot of money, so we can furnish elegantly. I owe that to my family and the firm,” she added earnestly. “Yes, you’ll see, that’s what I shall do.”

Gerda had finished her hair for the night and was brushing[88] her big white teeth, using the ivory-backed hand-mirror to see them better.

“I shall probably not marry at all,” she said, speaking with some difficulty on account of the tooth-powder. “I don’t see why I should. I am not anxious. I’ll go back to Amsterdam and play duets with Daddy and afterwards live with my married sister.”

“What a pity,” Tony said briskly. “What a pity! You ought to marry here and stay here for always. Listen: you could marry one of my brothers—”

“The one with the big nose?” asked Gerda, and gave a dainty little yawn, holding the hand-mirror before her face.

“Or the other; it doesn’t matter. You could furnish beautifully. Jacobs could do it—the upholsterer in Fish Street. He has lovely taste. I’d come to see you every day—”

But then there came the voice of Mlle. Popinet. It said: “Oh, mademoiselles! Please go to bed. It is too late to get married any more this evening!”

Sundays and holidays Tony spent in Meng Street or outside the town with her grandparents. How lovely, when it was fine on Easter Sunday, hunting for eggs and marzipan hares in the enormous Kröger garden! Then there were the summer holidays at the seashore; they lived in the Kurhouse, ate at the table-d’hôte, bathed, and went donkey-riding. Some seasons when the Consul had business, there were long journeys. But Christmases were best of all. There were three present-givings: at home, at the grandparents’, and at Sesemi’s, where bishop flowed in streams. The one at home was the grandest, for the Consul believed in keeping the holy feast with pomp and ceremony. They gathered in the landscape-room with due solemnity. The servants and the crowd of poor people thronged into the pillared hall, where the Consul went about shaking their purple hands. Then outside rose the voices of the choir-boys from St. Mary’s in a quartette, and one’s heart beat loudly with awe and expectation. The smell of the Christmas tree was already coming through the crack[89] in the great white folding doors; and the Frau Consul took the old family Bible with the funny big letters, and slowly read aloud the Christmas chapter; and after the choir-boys had sung another carol, everybody joined in “O Tannenbaum” and went in solemn procession through the hall into the great salon, hung with tapestries that had statuary woven into them. There the tree rose to the ceiling, decorated with white lilies, twinkling and sparkling and pouring out light and fragrance; and the table with the presents on it stretched from the windows to the door. Outside, the Italians with the barrel-organ were making music in the frozen, snowy streets, and a great hubbub came over from the Christmas market in Market Square. All the children except little Clara stopped up to late supper in the salon, and there were mountains of carp and stuffed turkey.

In these years Tony Buddenbrook visited two Mecklenburg estates. She stopped for two weeks one summer with her friend Armgard, on Herr von Schilling’s property, which lay on the coast across the bay from Travemünde. And another time she went with Cousin Tilda to a place where Bernard Buddenbrook was inspector. This estate was called “Thankless,” because it did not bring in a penny’s income; but for a summer holiday it was not to be despised.

Thus the years went on. It was, take it all in all, a happy youth for Tony.







On a June afternoon, not long after five o’clock, the family were sitting before the “portal” in the garden, where they had drunk coffee. They had pulled the rustic furniture outside, for it was too close in the whitewashed garden house, with its tall mirror decorated with painted birds and its varnished folding doors, which were really not folding doors at all and had only painted latches.

The Consul, his wife, Tony, Tom, and Clothilde sat in a half-circle around the table, which was laid with its usual shining service. Christian, sitting a little to one side, conned the second oration of Cicero against Catiline. He looked unhappy. The Consul smoked his cigar and read the Advertiser. His wife had let her embroidery fall into her lap and sat smiling at little Clara; the child, with Ida Jungmann, was looking for violets in the grass-plot. Tony, her head propped on both hands, was deep in Hoffman’s “Serapion Brethren,” while Tom tickled her in the back of the neck with a grass-blade, an attention which she very wisely ignored. And Clothilde, looking thin and old-maidish in her flowered cotton frock, was reading a story called “Blind, Deaf, Dumb, and Still Happy.” As she read, she scraped up the biscuit-crumbs carefully with all five fingers from the cloth and ate them.

A few white clouds stood motionless in the slowly paling sky. The small town garden, with its carefully laid-out paths and beds, looked gay and tidy in the afternoon sun. The scent of the mignonette borders floated up now and then.

“Well, Tom,” said the Consul expansively, and took the cigar out of his mouth, “we are arranging that rye sale I told you about, with van Henkdom and Company.”

[94]“What is he giving?” Tom asked with interest, ceasing to tickle Tony.

“Sixty thaler for a thousand kilo—not bad, eh?”

“That’s very good.” Tom knew this was excellent business.

“Tony, your position is not comme il faut,” remarked the Frau Consul. Whereat Tony, without raising her eyes from her book, took one elbow off the table.

“Never mind,” Tony said. “She can sit how she likes, she will always be Tony Buddenbrook. Tilda and she are certainly the beauties of the family.”

Clothilde was astonished almost to death. “Good gracious, Tom,” she said. It was inconceivable how she could drawl out the syllables. Tony bore the jeer in silence. It was never any use, Tom was more than a match for her. He could always get the last word and have the laugh on his side. Her nostrils dilated a little, and she shrugged her shoulders. But when the Consul’s wife began to talk of the coming dance at the house of Consul Huneus, and let fall something about new patent leather shoes, Tony took the other elbow off the table and displayed a lively interest.

“You keep talking and talking,” complained Christian fretfully, “and I’m having such a hard time. I wish I were a business man.”

“Yes, you’re always wanting something different,” said Tom. Anton came across the garden with a card on his tray. They all looked at him expectantly.

“Grünlich, Agent,” read the Consul. “He is from Hamburg—an agreeable man, and well recommended, the son of a clergyman. I have business dealings with him. There is a piece of business now.—Is it all right, Betsy, if I ask him to come out here?”

A middle-sized man, his head thrust a little forward of his body, carrying his hat and stick in one hand, came across the garden. He was some two-and-thirty years old; he wore a fuzzy greenish-yellow suit with a long-skirted coat, and grey[95] worsted gloves. His face, beneath the sparse light hair, was rosy and smiling; but there was an undeniable wart on one side of his nose. His chin and upper lip were smooth-shaven; he wore long, drooping side-whiskers, in the English fashion, and these adornments were conspicuously golden-yellow in colour. Even at a distance, he began making obsequious gestures with his broad-brimmed grey hat, and as he drew near he took one last very long step, and arrived describing a half-circle with the upper part of his body, by this means bowing to them all at once.

“I am afraid I am disturbing the family circle,” he said in a soft voice, with the utmost delicacy of manner. “You are conversing, you are indulging in literary pursuits—I must really beg your pardon for my intrusion.”

“By no means, my dear Herr Grünlich,” said the Consul. He and his sons got up and shook hands with the stranger. “You are very welcome. I am delighted to see you outside the office and in my family circle. Herr Grünlich, Betsy—a friend of mine and a keen man of business. This is my daughter Antonie, and my niece Clothilde. Thomas you know already, and this is my second son, Christian, in High School.” Herr Grünlich responded to each name with an inclination of the body.

“I must repeat,” he said, “that I have no desire to intrude. I came on business. If the Herr Consul would be so good as to take a walk with me round the gardens—” The Consul’s wife answered: “It will give us pleasure to have you sit down with us for a little before you begin to talk business with my husband. Do sit down.”

“A thousand thanks,” said Herr Grünlich, apparently quite flattered. He sat down on the edge of the chair which Tom brought, laid his hat and stick on his knees, and settled himself, running his hand over his long beard with a little hemming and hawing, as if to say, “Well, now we’ve got past the introduction—what next?”

The Frau Consul began the conversation. “You live in[96] Hamburg?” she asked, inclining her head and letting her work fall into her lap.

“Yes, Frau Consul,” responded Herr Grünlich with a fresh bow. “At least, my house is in Hamburg, but I am on the road a good deal. My business is very flourishing—ahem—if I may be permitted to say so.”

The Frau Consul lifted her eyebrows and made respectful motions with her mouth, as if she were saying “Ah—indeed?”

“Ceaseless activity is a condition of my being,” added he, half turning to the Consul. He coughed again as he noticed that Fräulein Antonie’s glance rested upon him. She gave him, in fact, the cold, calculating stare with which a maiden measures a strange young man—a stare which seems always on the point of passing over into actual contempt.

“We have relatives in Hamburg,” said she, in order to be saying something.

“The Duchamps,” explained the Consul. “The family of my late Mother.”

“Oh, yes,” Herr Grünlich hastened to say. “I have the honour of a slight acquaintance with the family. They are very fine people, in mind and heart. Ahem! This would be a better world if there were more families like them in it. They have religion, benevolence, and genuine piety; in short, they are my ideal of the true Christlike spirit. And in them it is united to a rare degree with a brilliant cosmopolitanism, an elegance, an aristocratic bearing, which I find most attractive, Frau Consul.”

Tony thought: “How can he know my Father and Mother so well? He is saying exactly what they like best to hear.” The Consul responded approvingly, “The combination is one that is becoming in everybody.” And the Frau Consul could not resist stretching out her hand to their guest with her sweeping gesture, palm upward, while the bracelets gave a little jingle. “You speak as though you read my inmost thoughts, dear Herr Grünlich,” she said.

Upon which, Herr Grünlich made another deep bow, settled[97] himself again, stroked his beard, and coughed as if to say: “Well, let us get on.”

The Frau Consul mentioned the disastrous fire which had swept Hamburg in May of the year 1842. “Yes, indeed,” said Herr Grünlich, “truly a fearful misfortune. A distressing visitation. The loss amounted to one hundred and thirty-five millions, at a rough estimate. I am grateful to Providence that I came off without any loss whatever. The fire raged chiefly in the parishes of St. Peter and St. Nicholas.—What a charming garden!” he interrupted himself, taking the cigar which the Consul offered. “It is so large for a town garden, and the beds of colour are magnificent. I confess my weakness for flowers, and for nature in general. Those climbing roses over there trim up the garden uncommonly well.” He went on, praising the refinement of the location, praising the town itself, praising the Consul’s cigar. He had a pleasant word for each member of the circle.

“May I venture to inquire what you are reading, Fräulein Antonie?” he said smiling.

Tony drew her brows together sharply at this, for some reason, and answered without looking at him, “Hoffmann’s ‘Serapion Brethren.’”

“Really! He is a wonderful writer, is he not? Ah, pardon me—I forget the name of your younger son, Frau Consul?”


“A beautiful name. If I may so express myself”—here he turned again to the Consul—“I like best the names which show that the bearer is a Christian. The name of Johann, I know, is hereditary in your family—a name which always recalls the beloved disciple. My own name—if I may be permitted to mention it,” he continued, waxing eloquent, “is that of most of my forefathers—Bendix. It can only be regarded as a shortened form of Benedict. And you, Herr Buddenbrook, are reading—? ah, Cicero. The works of this great Roman orator make pretty difficult reading, eh? ‘Quousque[98] tandem—Catalina’ ... ahem. Oh, I have not forgotten quite all my Latin.”

“I disagree with my late Father on this point,” the Consul said. “I have always objected to the perpetual occupation of young heads with Greek and Latin. When there are so many other important subjects, necessary as a preparation for the practical affairs of life—”

“You take the words out of my mouth,” Herr Grünlich hastened to say. “It is hard reading, and not by any means always unexceptionable—I forgot to mention that point. Everything else aside, I can recall passages that were positively offensive—”

There came a pause, and Tony thought “Now it’s my turn.” Herr Grünlich had turned his gaze upon her. And, sure enough: he suddenly started in his chair, made a spasmodic but always highly elegant gesture toward the Frau Consul, and whispered ardently, “Pray look, Frau Consul, I beg of you.—Fräulein, I implore you,” he interrupted himself aloud, just as if Tony could not hear the rest of what he said, “to keep in that same position for just a moment. Do you see,” he began whispering again, “how the sunshine is playing in your daughter’s hair? Never,” he said solemnly, as if transported, speaking to nobody in particular, “have I seen more beautiful hair.” It was as if he were addressing his remarks to God or to his own soul.

The Consul’s wife smiled, well pleased. The Consul said, “Don’t be putting notions into the girl’s head.” And again Tony drew her brows together without speaking. After a short pause, Herr Grünlich got up.

“But I won’t disturb you any longer now—no, Frau Consul, I refuse to disturb you any longer,” he repeated. “I only came on business, but I could not resist—indeed, who could resist you? Now duty calls. May I ask the Consul—”

“I hope I do not need to assure you that it would give us pleasure if you would let us put you up while you are here,” said the Frau Consul. Herr Grünlich appeared for the[99] moment struck dumb with gratitude. “From my soul I am grateful, Frau Consul,” he said, and his look was indeed eloquent with emotion. “But I must not abuse your kindness. I have a couple of rooms at the City of Hamburg—”

“A couple of rooms,” thought the Frau Consul—which was just what Herr Grünlich meant her to think.

“And, in any case,” he said, as she offered her hand cordially, “I hope we have not seen each other for the last time.” He kissed her hand, waited a moment for Antonie to extend hers—which she did not do—described another half-circle with his upper torso, made a long step backward and another bow, threw back his head and put his hat on with a flourish, then walked away in company with the Consul.

“A pleasant man,” the Father said later, when he came back and took his place again.

“I think he’s silly,” Tony permitted herself to remark with some emphasis.

“Tony! Heavens and earth, what an idea!” said the Consul’s wife, displeased. “Such a Christian young man!”

“So well brought up, and so cosmopolitan,” went on the Consul. “You don’t know what you are talking about.” He and his wife had a way of taking each other’s side like this, out of sheer politeness. It made them the more likely to agree.

Christian wrinkled up his long nose and said, “He was so important. ‘You are conversing’—when we weren’t at all. And the roses over there ‘trim things up uncommonly.’ He acted some of the time as if he were talking to himself. ‘I am disturbing you’—‘I beg pardon’—‘I have never seen more beautiful hair.’” Christian mocked Herr Grünlich so cleverly that they all had to laugh, even the Consul.

“Yes, he gave himself too many airs,” Tony went on. “He talked the whole time about himself—his business is good, and he is fond of nature, and he likes such-and-such names, and his name is Bendix—what is all that to us, I’d like to know? Everything he said was just to spread himself.” Her[100] voice was growing louder all the time with vexation. “He said all the very things you like to hear, Mamma and Papa, and he said them just to make a fine impression on you both.”

“That is no reproach, Tony,” the Consul said sternly. “Everybody puts his best foot foremost before strangers. We all take care to say what will be pleasant to hear. That is a commonplace.”

“I think he is a good man,” Clothilde pronounced with drawling serenity—she was the only person in the circle about whom Herr Grünlich had not troubled himself at all. Thomas refrained from giving an opinion.

“Enough,” concluded the Consul. “He is a capable, cultured, and energetic Christian man, and you, Tony, should try to bridle your tongue—a great girl of eighteen or nineteen years old, like you! And after he was so polite and gallant to you, too. We are all weak creatures; and you, let me say, are one of the last to have a right to throw stones. Tom, we’ll get to work.”

Pert little Tony muttered to herself “A golden goat’s beard!” and scowled as before.



Tony, coming back from a walk some days later, met Herr Grünlich at the corner of Meng Street. “I was most grieved to have missed you, Fräulein,” he said. “I took the liberty of paying my respects to your Mother the other day, and I regretted your absence more than I can say. How delightful that I should meet you like this!”

Fräulein Buddenbrook had paused as he began to speak; but her half-shut eyes looked no further up than the height of Herr Grünlich’s chest. On her lips rested the mocking, merciless smile with which a young girl measures and rejects a man. Her lips moved—what should she say? It must be something that would demolish this Herr Bendix Grünlich once and for all—simply annihilate him. It must be clever, witty, and effective, must at one and the same time wound him to the quick and impress him tremendously.

“The pleasure is not mutual, Herr Grünlich,” said she, keeping her gaze meanwhile levelled at his chest. And after she had shot this poisoned arrow, she left him standing there and went home, her head in the air, her face red with pride in her own powers of repartee—to learn that Herr Grünlich had been invited to dinner next Sunday.

And he came. He came in a not quite new-fashioned, rather wrinkled, but still handsome bell-shaped frock-coat which gave him a solid, respectable look. He was rosy and smiling, his scant hair carefully parted, his whiskers curled and scented. He ate a ragout of shell-fish, julienne soup, fried soles, roast veal with creamed potatoes and cauliflower, maraschino pudding, and pumpernickel with roquefort; and he found a fresh and delicate compliment for each fresh course.[102] Over the sweet he lifted his dessert-spoon, gazed at one of the tapestry statues, and spoke aloud to himself, thus: “God forgive me, I have eaten far too well already. But this pudding—! It is too wonderful! I must beg my good hostess for another slice.” And he looked roguishly at the Consul’s wife. With the Consul he talked business and politics, and spoke soundly and weightily. He discussed the theatre and the fashions with the Frau Consul, and he had a good word for Tom and Christian and Clothilde, and even for little Clara and Ida Jungmann. Tony sat in silence, and he did not undertake to engage her; only gazing at her now and then, with his head a little tilted, his face looking dejected and encouraged by turns.

When Herr Grünlich took his leave that evening, he had only strengthened the impressions left by his first visit. “A thoroughly well-bred man,” said the Frau Consul. “An estimable Christian gentleman” was the Consul’s opinion. Christian imitated his speech and actions even better than before; and Tony said her good nights to them all with a frowning brow, for something told her that she had not yet seen the last of this gentleman who had won the hearts of her parents with such astonishing ease and rapidity.

And, sure enough, coming back one afternoon from a visit with some girl friends, she found Herr Grünlich cosily established in the landscape-room, reading aloud to the Frau Consul out of Sir Walter Scott’s “Waverly.” His pronunciation was perfect, for, as he explained, his business trips had taken him to England. Tony sat down apart with another book, and Herr Grünlich softly questioned: “Our book is not to your taste, Fräulein?” To which she replied, with her head in the air, something in a sarcastic vein, like “Not in the very least.”

But he was not taken aback. He began to talk about his long-dead parents and communicated the fact that his father had been a clergyman, a Christian, and at the same time a highly cosmopolitan gentleman.—After this visit, he departed[103] for Hamburg. Tony was not there when he called to take leave. “Ida,” she said to Mamsell Jungmann, “Ida, the man has gone.” But Mamsell Jungmann only replied, “You’ll see, child.”

And eight days later, in fact, came that scene in the breakfast room. Tony came down at nine o’clock and found her father and mother still at table. She let her forehead be kissed and sat down, fresh and hungry, her eyes still red with sleep, and helped herself to sugar, butter, and herb cheese.

“How nice to find you still here, for once, Papa,” she said as she held her egg in her napkin and opened it with her spoon.

“But to-day I have been waiting for our slug-a-bed,” said the Consul. He was smoking and tapping on the table with his folded newspaper. His wife finished her breakfast with her slow, graceful motions, and leaned back in the sofa.

“Tilda is already busy in the kitchen,” went on the Consul, “and I should have been long since at work myself, if your Mother and I had not been speaking seriously about a matter that concerns our little daughter.”

Tony, her mouth full of bread and butter, looked first at her father and then her mother, with a mixture of fear and curiosity.

“Eat your breakfast, my child,” said the Frau Consul. But Tony laid down her knife and cried, “Out with it quickly, Papa—please.” Her father only answered: “Eat your breakfast first.”

So Tony drank her coffee and ate her egg and bread and cheese silently, her appetite quite gone. She began to guess. The fresh morning bloom disappeared from her cheek, and she even grew a little pale. She said “Thank you” for the honey, and soon after announced in a subdued voice that she had finished.

“My dear child,” said the Consul, “the matter we desire to talk over with you is contained in this letter.” He was tapping the table now with a big blue envelope instead of the[104] newspaper. “To be brief: Bendix Grünlich, whom we have learned, during his short stay here, to regard as a good and a charming man, writes to me that he has conceived a strong inclination for our daughter, and he here makes a request in form for her hand. What does my child say?”

Tony was leaning back in her seat, her head bent, her right hand slowly twirling the silver napkin-ring round and round. But suddenly she looked up, and her eyes had grown quite dark with tears. She said, her voice full of distress: “What does this man want of me? What have I done to him?” And she burst into weeping.

The Consul shot a glance at his wife and then regarded his empty cup, embarrassed.

“Tony dear,” said the Frau Consul gently, “why this—échauffement? You know quite well your parents can only desire your good. And they cannot counsel you to reject forthwith the position offered you. I know you feel so far no particular inclination for Herr Grünlich, but that will come; I assure you it comes, with time. Such a young thing as you is never sure what she wants. The mind is as confused as the heart. One must just give the heart time—and keep the mind open to the advice of experienced people who think and plan only for our good.”

“I don’t know him the least little bit,” Tony said in a dejected tone, wiping her eyes on the little white batiste serviette, stained with egg. “All I know is, he has a yellow beard, like a goat’s, and a flourishing business—” Her upper lip, trembling on the verge of tears, had an expression that was indescribably touching.

With a movement of sudden tenderness the Consul jerked his chair nearer hers and stroked her hair, smiling.

“My little Tony, what should you like to know of him? You are still a very young girl, you know. You would know him no better if he had been here for fifty-two weeks instead of four. You are a child, with no eyes yet for the[105] world, and you must trust other people who mean well by you.”

“I don’t understand—I don’t understand,” Tony sobbed helplessly, and put down her head as a kitten does beneath the hand that strokes it. “He comes here and says something pleasant to everybody, and then goes away again; and then he writes to you that he—that I—I don’t understand. What made him? What have I done to him?”

The Consul smiled again. “You said that once before, Tony; and it illustrates so well your childish way of reasoning. My little daughter must not feel that people mean to urge or torment her. We can consider it all very quietly; in fact, we must consider it all very quietly and calmly, for it is a very serious matter. Meanwhile I will write an answer to Herr Grünlich’s letter, without either consenting or refusing. There is much to be thought of.—Well, is that agreed? What do you say?—And now Papa can go back to his work, can’t he?—Adieu, Betsy.”

“Au revoir, dear Jean.”

“Do take a little more honey, Tony,” said the Frau Consul to her daughter, who sat in her place motionless, with her head bent. “One must eat.”

Tony’s tears gradually dried. Her head felt hot and heavy with her thoughts. Good gracious, what a business! She had always known, of course, that she should one day marry, and be the wife of a business man, and embark upon a solid and advantageous married life, commensurate with the position of the family and the firm. But suddenly, for the first time in her life, somebody, some actual person, in serious earnest, wanted to marry her. How did people act? To her, her, Tony Buddenbrook, were now applicable all those tremendous words and phrases which she had hitherto met with only in books: her “hand,” her “consent,” “as long as life shall last!” Goodness gracious, what a step to take, all at once!

“And you, Mamma? Do you too advise me to—to—to yield[106] my consent?” She hesitated a little before the “yield my consent.” It sounded high-flown and awkward. But then, this was the first occasion in her life that was worthy of fine language. She began to blush for her earlier lack of self-control. It seemed to her now not less unreasonable than it had ten minutes ago that she should marry Herr Grünlich; but the dignity of her situation began to fill her with a sense of importance which was satisfying indeed.

I advise you to accept, my child? Has Papa advised you to do so? He has only not advised you not to, that is all. It would be very irresponsible of either of us to do that. The connection offered you is a very good one, my dear Tony. You would go to Hamburg on an excellent footing and live there in great style.”

Tony sat motionless. She was having a sort of vision of silk portières, like those in grandfather’s salon. And, as Madame Grünlich, should she drink morning chocolate? She thought it would not be seemly to ask.

“As your Father says, you have time to consider,” the Frau Consul continued. “But we are obliged to tell you that such an offer does not come every day, that it would make your fortune, and that it is exactly the marriage which duty and vocation prescribe. This, my child, it is my business to tell you. You know yourself that the path which opens before you to-day is the prescribed one which your life ought to follow.”

“Yes,” Tony said thoughtfully. She was well aware of her responsibilities toward the family and the firm, and she was proud of them. She was saturated with her family history—she, Tony Buddenbrook, who, as the daughter of Consul Buddenbrook, went about the town like a little queen, before whom Matthiesen the porter took off his hat and made a low bow! The Rostock tailor had been very well off, to begin with; but since his time, the family fortunes had advanced by leaps and bounds. It was her vocation to enhance the brilliance of family and firm in her allotted way, by making a[107] rich and aristocratic marriage. To the same end, Tom worked in the office. Yes, the marriage was undoubtedly precisely the right one. But—but— She saw him before her, saw his gold-yellow whiskers, his rosy, smiling face, the wart on his nose, his mincing walk. She could feel his woolly suit, hear his soft voice....

“I felt sure,” the Consul’s wife said, “that we were accessible to quiet reason. Have we perhaps already made up our mind?”

“Oh, goodness, no!” cried Tony, suddenly. She uttered the “Oh” with an outburst of irritation. “What nonsense! Why should I marry him? I have always made fun of him. I never did anything else. I can’t understand how he can possibly endure me. The man must have some sort of pride in his bones!” She began to drip honey upon a slice of bread.



This year the Buddenbrooks took no holiday during Christian’s and Clara’s vacation. The Consul said he was too busy; but it was Tony’s unsettled affair as well, that kept them lingering in Mengstrasse. A very diplomatic letter, written by the Consul himself, had been dispatched to Herr Grünlich; but the progress of the wooing was hindered by Tony’s obstinacy. She expressed herself in the most childish way. “Heaven forbid, Mamma,” she would say. “I simply can’t endure him!” with tremendous emphasis on the second syllable. Or she would explain solemnly, “Father” (Tony never otherwise said anything but “Papa”), “I can never yield him my consent.”

And at this point the matter would assuredly have stuck, had it not been for events that occurred some ten days after the talk in the breakfast-room—in other words, about the middle of July.

It was afternoon—a hot blue afternoon. The Frau Consul was out, and Tony sat with a book alone at the window of the landscape-room, when Anton brought her a card. Before she had time to read the name, a young man in a bell-skirted coat and pea-green pantaloons entered the room. It was, of course, Herr Grünlich, with an expression of imploring tenderness upon his face.

Tony started up indignantly and made a movement to flee into the next room. How could one possibly talk to a man who had proposed for one’s hand? Her heart was in her throat and she had gone very pale. While he had been at a safe distance she had hugely enjoyed the solemn conferences with her Father and Mother and the suddenly enhanced importance[109] of her own person and destiny. But now, here he was—he stood before her. What was going to happen? And again she felt that she was going to weep.

At a rapid stride, his head tipped on one side, his arms outstretched, with the air of a man who says: “Here I am, kill me if you will!” he approached. “What a providence!” he cried. “I find you here, Antonie—” (He said “Antonie”!)

Tony stood erect, her novel in her right hand. She stuck out her lips and gave her head a series of little jerks upward, relieving her irritation by stressing, in that manner, each word as she spoke it. She got out “What is the matter with you?”—But the tears were already rising. And Herr Grünlich’s own excitement was too great for him to realize the check.

“How could I wait longer? Was I not driven to return?” he said in impassioned tones. “A week ago I had your Father’s letter, which filled me with hope. I could bear it no longer. Could I thus linger on in half-certainty? I threw myself into a carriage, I hastened hither, I have taken a couple of rooms at the City of Hamburg—and here I am, Antonie, to hear from your lips the final word which will make me happier than I can express.”

Tony was stunned. Her tears retreated abashed. This, then, was the effect of her Father’s careful letter, which had indefinitely postponed the decision. Two or three times she stammered: “You are mistaken—you are mistaken.”

Herr Grünlich had drawn an arm-chair close to her seat in the window. He sat down, he obliged her to sit as well, and, bowing over her hand, which, limp with indecision, she resigned to him, he went on in a trembling voice: “Fräulein Antonie, since first I saw you, that afternoon,—do you remember that afternoon, when I saw you, a vision of loveliness, in your own family circle?—Since then, your name has been indelibly written on my heart.” He went back, corrected himself, and said “graven”: “Since that day, Fräulein Antonie, it has been my only, my most ardent wish, to win your beautiful hand. What your Father’s letter permitted me only[110] to hope, that I implore you to confirm to me now in all certainty. I may feel sure of your consent—I may be assured of it?” He took her other hand in his and looked deep into her wide-open, frightened eyes. He had left off his worsted gloves to-day, and his hands were long and white, marked with blue veins. Tony stared at his pink face, at his wart, at his eyes, which were as blue as a goose’s.

“Oh, no, no,” she broke out, rapidly, in terror. And then she added, “No, I will never yield my consent.” She took great pains to speak firmly, but she was already in tears.

“How have I deserved this doubt and hesitation?” he asked in a lower, well-nigh reproachful tone. “I know you are a maiden cherished and sheltered by the most loving care. But I swear to you, I pledge you my word of honour as a man, that I would carry you in my arms, that as my wife you would lack nothing, that you would live in Hamburg a life altogether worthy of you—”

Tony sprang up. She freed her hand and, with the tears rolling down her cheeks, cried out in desperation, “No, no! I said no! I am refusing you—for heaven’s sake, can’t you understand?” Then Herr Grünlich rose up too. He took one backward step and stretched out his arms toward her, palms up. Seriously, like a man of honour and resolution, he spoke.

“Mademoiselle Buddenbrook, you understand that I cannot permit myself to be insulted?”

“But I am not insulting you, Herr Grünlich,” said Tony, repenting her brusqueness. Oh, dear, oh dear, why did all this have to happen to her? Such a wooing as this she had never imagined. She had supposed that one only had to say: “Your offer does me great honour, but I cannot accept it,” and that would be an end of the matter. “Your offer does me great honour,” she said, as calmly as she could, “but I cannot accept it. And now I must go; please excuse me—I am busy—” But Herr Grünlich stood in front of her.

“You reject me?” he said gloomily.

“Yes,” Tony said; adding with tact, “unfortunately.”

[111]Herr Grünlich gave a gusty sigh. He took two big steps backward, bent his torso to one side, pointed with his forefinger to the carpet and said in an awful voice: “Antonie!” Thus for the space of a moment they stood, he in a posture of commanding rage, Tony pale, weepy, and trembling, her damp handkerchief to her mouth. Then he turned from her and, with his hands on his back, measured the room twice through, as if he were at home. He paused at the window and looked out into the early dusk. Tony moved cautiously toward the glass doors, but she got only as far as the middle of the room when he stood beside her again.

“Tony!” he murmured, and gently took her hand. Then he sank, yes, he sank slowly upon his knees beside her! His two gold whiskers lay across her hand!

“Tony!” he repeated. “You behold me here—you see to what you have brought me. Have you a heart to feel what I endure? Listen. You behold a man condemned to death, devoted to destruction, a man who—who will certainly die of grief,” he interrupted himself, “if you scorn his love. Here I lie. Can you find it in your heart to say: ‘I despise you’?”

“No, no,” Tony said quickly in a consoling tone. Her tears were conquered, pity stirred. Heavens, how he must adore her, to go on like that, while she herself felt completely indifferent! Was it to her, Tony Buddenbrook, that all this was happening? One read of it in the novels. But here in real life was a man in a frock-coat, on his knees in front of her, weeping, imploring. The idea of marrying him was simply idiotic, because she had found him silly; but just at this moment he did not seem silly; heavens, no! Honourable, upright, desperate entreaty were in his voice and face.

“No, no,” she repeated, bending over him quite touched. “I don’t despise you, Herr Grünlich. How can you say such a thing? Do get up—please do!”

“Then you will not kill me?” he asked again; and she answered, in a consoling, almost motherly tone, “No, no.”

“That is a promise!” he cried, springing to his feet. But[112] when he saw Tony’s frightened face he got down again and went on in a wheedling tone: “Good, good, say no more, Antonie. Enough, for this time. We shall speak of this again. No more now—farewell. I will return—farewell!” He had got quickly to his feet. He took his broad grey hat from the table, kissed her hand, and was out through the glass doors in a twinkling.

Tony saw him take his stick from the hall and disappear down the corridor. She stood, bewildered and worn out, in the middle of the room, with the damp handkerchief in one of her limp hands.



Consul Buddenbrook said to his wife: “If I thought Tony had a motive in refusing this match— But she is a child, Betsy. She enjoys going to balls and being courted by the young fellows; she is quite aware that she is pretty and from a good family. Of course, it is possible that she is consciously or unconsciously seeking a mate herself—but I know the child, and I feel sure she has never yet found her heart, as the saying goes. If you asked her, she would turn this way and that way, and consider—but she would find nobody. She is a child, a little bird, a hoyden. Directly she once says yes, she will find her place. She will have carte blanche to set herself up, and she will love her husband, after a few days. He is no beau, God knows. But he is perfectly presentable. One mustn’t ask for five legs on a sheep, as we say in business. If she waits for somebody to come along who is an Adonis and a good match to boot—well, God bless us, Tony Buddenbrook could always find a husband, but it’s a risk, after all. Every day is fishing-day, but not every day catching-day, to use another homely phrase—. Yesterday I had a long talk with Grünlich. He is a most constant wooer. He showed me all his books. They are good enough to frame. I told him I was completely satisfied. The business is young, but in fine condition—assets must be somewhere about a hundred and twenty thousand thaler, and that is obviously only the situation at the moment, for he makes a good slice every year. I asked the Duchamps. What they said doesn’t sound at all bad. They don’t know his connections, but he lives like a gentleman, mingles in society, and his business is known to be expanding. And some other people in Hamburg have told me[114] things—a banker named Kesselmeyer, for instance—that I feel pleased with. In short, as you know, Betsy, I can only wish for the consummation of this match, which would be highly advantageous for the family and the firm. I am heartily sorry the child feels so pressed. She hardly speaks at all, and acts as if she were in a state of siege. But I can’t bring myself to refuse him out and out. You know, Betsy, there is another thing I can’t emphasize often enough: in these last years we haven’t been doing any too brilliantly. Not that there’s anything to complain of. Oh, no. Faithful work always finds its reward. Business goes quietly on—but a bit too quietly for me. And it only does that because I am eternally vigilant. We haven’t perceptibly advanced since Father was taken away. The times aren’t good for merchants. No, our prospects are not too bright. Our daughter is in a position to make a marriage that would undoubtedly be honourable and advantageous; she is of an age to marry, and she ought to do it. Delay isn’t advisable—it isn’t advisable, Betsy. Speak to her again. I said all I could, this afternoon.”

Tony was besieged, as the Consul said. She no longer said no—but she could not bring herself to say yes. She could not wring a “yes” out of herself—God knew why; she did not.

Meanwhile, first her Father would draw her aside and speak seriously, and then her Mother would take up the tale, both pressing for a decision. Uncle Gotthold and family were not brought into the affair; their attitude toward the Mengstrasse was not exactly sympathetic. But Sesemi Weichbrodt got wind of it and came to give good advice, with correct enunciation. Even Mademoiselle Jungmann said, “Tony, my little one, why should you worry? You will always be in the best society.” And Tony could not pay a visit to the admired silken salon outside the Castle Gate without getting a dose from old Madame Kröger: “À propos, little one, I[115] hear there is an affair! I hope you are going to listen to reason, child.”

One Sunday, as she sat in St. Mary’s with her parents and brothers, Pastor Kölling began preaching from the text about the wife leaving father and mother and cleaving only to her husband. His language was so violent that she began listening with a jump, staring up to see if he were looking at her. No, thank goodness, his head was turned in the other direction, and he seemed to be preaching in general to all the faithful. Still, it was plain that this was a new attack upon her,—every word struck home. A young, a still childish girl, he said, could have as yet no will and no wisdom; and if she set herself up against the loving advice of her parents she was as deserving of punishment as the guilty are; she was one of those whom the Lord spews out of his mouth. With this phrase, which the kind Pastor Kölling adored, she encountered a piercing glance from his eyes, as he made a threatening gesture with his right arm. Tony saw how her Father, sitting next to her, raised his hand, as though he would say, “Not so hard.” But it was perfectly plain that either he or her Mother had let the Pastor into the secret. Tony crouched in her place with her face like fire, and felt the eyes of all the world upon her. Next Sunday she flatly refused to go to church.

She moved dumbly about the house, she laughed no more, she lost her appetite. Sometimes she gave such heart-breaking sighs as would move a stone to pity. She was growing thinner too, and would soon lose her freshness. It would not do. At length the Consul said:

“This cannot go on, Betsy. We must not ill-use the child. She must get away a bit, to rest and be able to think quietly. You’ll see she will listen to reason then. I can’t leave, and the holidays are almost over. But there is no need for us to go. Yesterday old Schwarzkopf from Travemünde was here, and I spoke to him. He said he would be glad to take the[116] child for a while. I’d give them something for it. She would have a good home, where she could bathe and be in the fresh air and get clear in her mind. Tom can take her—so it’s all arranged. Better to-morrow than day after.”

Tony was much pleased with this idea. True, she hardly ever saw Herr Grünlich, but she knew he was in town, in touch with her parents. Any day he might appear before her and begin shrieking and importuning. She would feel safer at Travemünde, in a strange house. So she packed her trunk with alacrity, and on one of the last days in July she mounted with Tom into the majestic Kröger equipage. She said good-bye in the best of spirits; and breathed more freely as they drove out of the Castle Gate.



The road to Travemünde first crosses the ferry and then goes straight ahead. The grey high-road glided away under the hoofs of Lebrecht Kröger’s fat brown Mecklenburgs. The sound of their trotting was hollow and rhythmical, the sun burned hot, and dust concealed the meagre view. The family had eaten at one o’clock, an hour earlier than usual, and the brother and sister set out punctually at two. They would arrive shortly after four; for what a hired carriage could do in three hours, the Kröger pair were mettlesome enough to make in two.

Tony sat half asleep, nodding under her broad straw hat and her lace-trimmed parasol, which she held tipped back against the hood of the chaise. The parasol was twine-grey, with cream-coloured lace, and matched her neat, simply cut frock. She reclined in the luxurious ease proper to the equipage, with her feet, in their white stockings and strap shoes, daintily crossed before her.

Tom was already twenty years old. He wore an extremely well-cut blue suit, and sat smoking Russian cigarettes, with his hat on the back of his head. He was not very tall; but already he boasted a considerable moustache, darker in tone than his brows and eyelashes. He had one eyebrow lifted a trifle—a habit with him—and sat looking at the dust and the trees that fled away behind them as the carriage rolled on.

Tony said: “I was never so glad to come to Travemünde before—for various reasons. You needn’t laugh, Tom. I wish I could leave a certain pair of yellow mutton-chops even further behind! And then, it will be an entirely different Travemünde at the Schwarzkopfs’, on the sea front. I shan’t[118] be bothered with the Kurhouse society, I can tell you that much. I am not in the mood for it. Besides, that—that man could come there too as well as not. He has nerve enough—it wouldn’t trouble him at all. Some day he’d be bobbing up in front of me and putting on all his airs and graces.”

Tom threw away the stub of his cigarette and took a fresh one out of the box, a pretty little affair with an inlaid picture inside the lid, of an overturned troika being set upon by wolves. It was a present from a Russian customer of the Consul. The cigarettes, those biting little trifles with the yellow mouthpiece, were Tom’s passion. He smoked quantities of them, and had the bad habit of inhaling the smoke, breathing it slowly out again as he talked.

“Yes,” he said. “As far as that goes, the garden of the Kurhouse is alive with Hamburgers. Consul Fritsche, who has bought it, is a Hamburger himself. He must be doing a wonderful business now, Papa says. But you’ll miss something if you don’t take part in it a bit. Peter Döhlmann is there—he never stops in town this time of year. His business goes on at a jog-trot, all by itself, I suppose. Funny! Well—and Uncle Justus comes out for a little on a Sunday, of course, to visit the roulette table. Then there are the Möllendorpfs and the Kistenmakers, I suppose, in full strength, and the Hagenströms—”

“H’m. Yes, of course. They couldn’t get on without Sarah Semlinger!”

“Her name is Laura, my child. Let us be accurate.”

“And Julchen with her, of course. Julchen ought to get engaged to August Möllendorpf this summer—and she will do it, too. After all, they belong together. Disgusting, isn’t it, Tom? This adventurer’s family—”

“Yes, but good heavens, they are the firm of Strunck and Hagenström. That is the point.”

“Naturally, they make the firm. Of course. And everybody knows how they do it. With their elbows. Pushing[119] and shoving—entirely without courtesy or elegance. Grandfather said that Heinrich Hagenström could coin money out of paving-stones. Those were his very words.”

“Yes, yes, that is exactly it. It is money talks. And this match is perfectly good business. Julchen will be a Möllendorpf, and August will get a snug position—”

“Oh, you just want to make me angry, Tom, that’s all. You know how I despise that lot.”

Tom began to laugh. “Goodness, one has to get along with them,” he replied. “As Papa said the other day, they are the coming people; while the Möllendorpfs, for example— And one can’t deny that the Hagenströms are clever. Hermann is already useful in the business, and Moritz is very able. He finished school brilliantly, in spite of his weak chest; and he is going to study law.”

“That’s all very well, Tom, but all the same I am glad there are families that don’t have to knuckle down to them. For instance, we Buddenbrooks—”

“Oh,” Tom said, “don’t let’s begin to boast. Every family has its own skeleton,” he went on in a lower voice, with a glance at Jock’s broad back. “For instance, God knows what state Uncle Julius’ affairs are in. Papa shakes his head when he speaks of him, and Grandfather Kröger has had to come forward once or twice with large sums, I hear. The cousins aren’t just the thing, either. Jürgen wants to study, but he still hasn’t come up for his finals; and they are not very well satisfied with Jacob, at Dalbeck and Company. He is always in debt, even with a good allowance, and when Uncle Justus refuses to send any more, Aunt Rosalie does— No, I find it doesn’t do to throw stones. If you want to balance the scale with the Hagenströms, you’d better marry Grünlich.”

“Did we get into this wagon to discuss that subject?—Oh, yes, I suppose you’re right. I ought to marry him—but I won’t think about it now! I want to forget it. We are going to the Schwarzkopfs’. I’ve never seen them to know them: are they nice people?”

[120]“Oh, old Diederich Schwarzkopf—he’s not such a bad old chap. Doesn’t speak such atrocious dialect, unless he’s had more than five glasses of grog. Once he was at the office, and we went together to the Ships’ Company. He drank like a tank. His father was born on a Norwegian freighter and grew up to be captain on the very same line. Diederich has had a good education; the pilot command is a responsible office, and pretty well paid. Diederich is an old bear—but very gallant with the ladies. Look out: he’ll flirt with you.”

“Ah—well, and his wife?”

“I don’t know her, myself. She must be nice, I should think. There is a son, too. He was in first or second, in my time at school, and is a student now, I expect. Look, there’s the sea. We shall be there inside a quarter of an hour.”

They drove for a while along the shore on an avenue bordered with young beech-trees. There was the water, blue and peaceful in the sunshine; the round yellow light-house tower came into view, then the bay and the breakwater, the red roofs of the little town, the harbour with its sails, tackle, and shipping. They drove between the first houses, passed the church, and rolled along the front close to the water and up to a pretty little house, the verandah of which was overhung with vines.

Pilot-Captain Schwarzkopf stood before his door and took off his seaman’s cap as the calèche drove up. He was a broad, stocky man with a red face, sea-blue eyes, and a bristling grizzled beard that ran fan-shaped from one ear to the other. His mouth turned down at the corners, in one of which he held a wooden pipe. His smooth-shaven, red upper lip was hard and prominent; he looked thoroughly solid and respectable, with big bones and well-rounded paunch; and he wore a coat decorated with gold braid, underneath which a white piqué waistcoat was visible.

“Servant, Mademoiselle,” he said, as he carefully lifted Tony from the calèche. “We know it’s an honour you do us, coming to stop with us like this. Servant, Herr Buddenbrook.[121] Papa well? And the honoured Frau Consul? Come in, come in! My wife has some sort of a bite ready, I suppose. Drive over to Peddersen’s Inn,” he said in his broadest dialect to the coachman, who was carrying in the trunk. “You’ll find they take good care of the horses there.” Then, turning to Thomas, “you’ll stop the night with us, Herr Buddenbrook? Oh, yes, you must. The horses want a bait and a rest, and you wouldn’t get home until after dark.”

“Upon my word, one lives at least as well here as at the Kurhouse,” Tony said a quarter of an hour later, as they sat around the coffee-table in the verandah. “What wonderful air! You can smell the sea-weed from here. How frightfully glad I am to be in Travemünde again!”

Between the vine-clad columns of the verandah one could look out on the broad river-mouths, glittering in the sun; there were the piers and the boats, and the ferry-house on the “Prival” opposite, the projecting peninsula of Mecklenburg.— The clumsy, blue-bordered cups on the table were almost like basins. How different from the delicate old porcelain at home! But there was a bunch of flowers at Tony’s place, the food looked inviting, and the drive had whetted her appetite.

“Yes, Mademoiselle will see, she will pick up here fast enough,” the housewife said. “She looks a little poorly, if I might say so. That is the town air, and the parties.”

Frau Schwarzkopf was the daughter of a Schlutup pastor. She was a head shorter than Tony, rather thin, and looked to be about fifty. Her hair was still black, and neatly dressed in a large-meshed net. She wore a dark brown dress with white crocheted collar and cuffs. She was spotless, gentle, and hospitable, urging upon her guests the currant bread that lay in a boat-shaped basket surrounded by cream, butter, sugar, and honeycomb. This basket had a border of bead-work embroidery, done by little Meta, the eight-year-old daughter, who now sat next her mother, dressed in a plaid frock, her flaxen hair in a thick pigtail.

[122]Frau Schwarzkopf made excuses for Tony’s room, whither she had already been to make herself tidy after the journey. It was so very simple—

“Oh, all the better,” Tony said. It had a view of the ocean, which was the main thing. And she dipped her fourth piece of currant bread into her coffee. Tom talked with the pilot-captain about the Wullenwewer, now undergoing repairs in the town.

There came suddenly into the verandah a young man of some twenty years. He took off his grey felt hat, blushed, and bowed rather awkwardly.

“Well, my son,” said Herr Schwarzkopf, “you are late.” He presented him to the guests: “This is my son, studying to be a doctor. He is spending his vacation with us.” He had mentioned the young man’s name, but Tony failed to understand it.

“Pleased to meet you,” said Tony, primly. Tom rose and shook hands. Young Schwarzkopf bowed again, put down his book, and took his place at the table, blushing afresh. He was of medium height, very slender, and as fair as he could possibly be. His youthful moustaches, colourless as the hair which covered his long head, were scarcely visible; and he had a complexion to match, a tint like translucent porcelain, which grew pink on the slightest provocation. His eyes, slightly darker than his father’s, had the same not very animated but good-natured quizzical expression; and his features were regular and rather pleasing. When he began to eat he displayed unusually regular teeth, glistening in close ranks of polished ivory. For the rest, he wore a grey jacket buttoned up, with flaps on the pockets, and an elastic belt at the back.

“Yes, I am sorry I am late,” he said. His speech was somewhat slow and grating. “I was reading on the beach, and did not look soon enough at my watch.” Then he ate silently, looking up now and then to glance at Tom and Tony.

Later on, Tony being again urged by the housewife to[123] take something, he said, “You can rely on the honey, Fräulein Buddenbrook; it is a pure nature product—one knows what one is eating. You must eat, you know. The air here consumes one—it accelerates the process of metabolism. If you do not eat well, you will get thin.” He had a pleasant, naïve, way of now and then bending forward as he spoke and looking at some other person than the one whom he addressed.

His mother listened to him tenderly and watched Tony’s face to see the impression he made. But old Schwarzkopf said, “Now, now, Herr Doctor. Don’t be blowing off about your metabolism—we don’t know anything about that sort of talk.” Whereupon the young man laughed, blushed again, and looked at Tony’s plate.

The pilot-captain mentioned more than once his son’s Christian name, but Tony could never quite catch what it was. It sounded like Moor—or Mort; but the Father’s broad, flat pronunciation was impossible to understand.

They finished their meal. Herr Diederich sat blinking in the sun, his coat flung wide open over his white waistcoat, and he and his son took out their short pipes. Tom smoked his cigarettes, and the young people began a lively conversation, the subject of which was their old school and all the old school recollections. Tony took part gaily. They quoted Herr Stengel: “What! You were to make a line, and what are you making? A dash!” What a pity Christian was not here! he could imitate him so much better.

Once Tom pointed to the flowers at Tony’s place and said to his sister: “That trims things up uncommonly well, as Herr Grünlich would say!” Whereat Tony, red with anger, gave him a push and darted an embarrassed glance at young Schwarzkopf.

The coffee-hour had been unusually late, and they had prolonged it. It was already half-past six, and twilight was beginning to descend over the Prival, when the captain got up.

“The company will excuse me,” he said; “I’ve some work down at the pilot-house. We’ll have supper at eight o’clock,[124] if that suits the young folk. Or even a little later to-night, eh, Meta? And you” (here he used his son’s name again), “don’t be lolling about here. Just go and dig up your bones again. Fräulein Buddenbrook will want to unpack. Or perhaps the guests would like to go down on the beach. Only don’t get in the way.”

“Diederich, for pity’s sake, why shouldn’t he sit still a bit?” Frau Schwarzkopf said, with mild reproach. “And if our guests like to go down on the beach, why shouldn’t he go along? Is he to see nothing at all of our visitors?”



In her neat little room with the flower-covered furniture, Tony woke next morning with the fresh, happy feeling which one has at the beginning of a new chapter. She sat up in bed and, with her hands clasped round her knees and her tousled head flung back, blinked at the stream of light that poured through the closed shutters into the room. She began to sort out the experiences of the previous day.

Her thoughts scarcely touched upon the Grünlich affair. The town, his hateful apparition in the landscape-room, the exhortations of her family and Pastor Kölling—all that lay far behind her. Here, every morning, there would be a care-free waking. These Schwarzkopfs were splendid people. Last night there had been pineapple punch, and they had made part of a happy family circle. It had been very jolly. Herr Schwarzkopf had told his best sea tales, and young Schwarzkopf stories about student life at Göttingen. How odd it was, that she still did not know his first name! And she had strained her ear to hear too, but even at dinner she did not succeed, and somehow it did not seem proper to ask. She tried feverishly to think how it sounded—was it Moor—Mord—? Anyhow, she had liked him pretty well, this young Moor or Mord. He had such a sly, good-natured laugh when he asked for the water and called it by letters and numbers, so that his father got quite furious. But it was only the scientific formula for water—that is, for ordinary water, for the Travemünde product was a much more complicated affair, of course. Why, one could find a jelly-fish in it, any time! The authorities, of course, might have what notions they chose about fresh water. For this he only got another scolding[126] from his father, for speaking slightingly of the authorities. But Frau Schwarzkopf watched Tony all the time, to see how much she admired the young man—and really, it was most interesting, he was so learned and so jolly, all at the same time. He had given her considerable attention. She had complained that her head felt hot, while eating, and that she must have too much blood. What had he replied? He had given her a careful scrutiny, and then said, Yes, the arteries in the temples might be full; but that did not prove that she had too much blood. Perhaps, instead, it meant she had too little—or rather, that there were too few red corpuscles in it. In fact, she was perhaps a little anæmic.

The cuckoo sprang out of his carven house on the wall and cuckooed several times, clear and loud. “Seven, eight, nine,” counted Tony. “Up with you!” She jumped out of bed and opened the blinds. The sky was partly overcast, but the sun was visible. She looked out over the Leuchtenfeld with its tower, to the ruffled sea beyond. On the right it was bounded by the curve of the Mecklenburg coast; but before her it stretched on and on till its blue and green streaks mingled with the misty horizon. “I’ll bathe afterwards,” she thought, “but first I’ll eat a big breakfast, so as not to be consumed by my metabolism.” She washed and dressed with quick, eager movements.

It was shortly after half-past nine when she left her room. The door of the chamber in which Tom had slept stood open; he had risen early and driven back to town. Even up here in the upper storey, it smelled of coffee—that seemed to be the characteristic odour of the little house, for it grew stronger as she descended the simple staircase with its plain board baluster and went down the corridor, where lay the living-room, which was also the dining-room and the office of the pilot-captain. She went out into the verandah, looking, in her white piqué frock, perfectly fresh, and in the gayest of tempers. Frau Schwarzkopf sat with her son at the table. It was already partly cleared away, and the housewife wore[127] a blue-checked kitchen apron over her brown frock. A key-basket stood beside her.

“A thousand pardons for not waiting,” she said, as she stood up. “We simple folk rise early. There is so much to be done! Schwarzkopf is in his office. I hope you don’t take it ill?”

Tony excused herself in her turn. “You must not think I always sleep so late as this,” she said. “I feel very guilty. But the punch last night—”

The young man began to laugh. He stood behind the table with his short pipe in his hand and a newspaper before him.

“Good morning,” Tony said. “Yes, it is your fault. You kept urging me. Now I deserve only cold coffee. I ought to have had breakfast and a bathe as well, by this time.”

“Oh, no, that would be rather too early, for a young lady. At seven o’clock the water was rather cold—eleven degrees. That’s pretty sharp, after a warm bed.”

“How do you know I wanted a warm bath, monsieur?” and Tony sat down beside Frau Schwarzkopf. “Oh, you have kept the coffee hot for me, Frau Schwarzkopf! But I will pour it out myself, thank you so much.”

The housewife looked on as her guest began to eat. “Fräulein slept well, the first night? The mattress, dear knows, is only stuffed with sea-weed—we are simple folk! And now, good appetite, and a good morning. You will surely find many friends on the beach. If you like, my son shall bear you company. Pardon me for not sitting longer, but I must look after the dinner. The joint is in the oven. We will feed you as well as we can.”

“I shall stick to the honeycomb,” Tony said when the two were alone. “You know what you are getting.”

Young Schwarzkopf laid his pipe on the verandah rail.

“But please smoke. I don’t mind it at all. At home, when I come down to breakfast, Papa’s cigar-smoke is already in the room. Tell me,” she said suddenly. “Is it true that an egg is as good as a quarter of a pound of meat?”

[128]He grew red all over. “Are you making fun of me?” he asked, partly laughing but partly vexed. “I got another wigging from my Father last night for what he calls my silly professional airs.”

“No, really, I was asking because I wanted to know.” Tony stopped eating in consternation. “How could anybody call them airs? I should be so glad to learn something. I’m such a goose, you see. At Sesemi Weichbrodt’s I was always one of the very laziest. I’m sure you know a great deal.” Inwardly her thoughts ran: “Everybody puts his best foot foremost, before strangers. We all take care to say what will be pleasant to hear—that is a commonplace....”

“Well, you see they are the same thing, in a way. The chemical constituents of food-stuffs—” And so on, while Tony breakfasted. Next they talked about Tony’s boarding-school days, and Sesemi Weichbrodt, and Gerda Arnoldsen, who had gone back to Amsterdam, and Armgard von Schelling, whose home, a large white house, could be seen from the beach here, at least in clear weather. Tony finished eating, wiped her mouth, and asked, pointing to the paper, “Is there any news?” Young Schwarzkopf shook his head and laughed cynically.

“Oh, no. What would there be? You know these little provincial news-sheets are wretched affairs.”

“Oh, are they? Papa and Mamma always take it in.”

He reddened again. “Oh, well, you see I always read it, too. Because I can’t get anything else. But it is not very thrilling to hear that So-and-So, the merchant prince, is about to celebrate his silver wedding. Yes, you laugh. But you ought to read other papers—the Königsberg Gazette, for instance, or the Rhenish Gazette. You’d find a different story there, entirely. There it’s what the King of Prussia says.”

“What does he say?”

“Well—er—I really couldn’t repeat it to a lady.” He got red again. “He expressed himself rather strongly on the subject of this same press,” he went on with another cynical[129] laugh, which, for a moment, made a painful impression on Tony. “The press, you know, doesn’t feel any too friendly toward the government or the nobility or the parsons and junkers. It knows pretty well how to lead the censor by the nose.”

“Well, and you? Aren’t you any too friendly with the nobility, either?”

“I?” he asked, and looked very embarrassed. Tony rose.

“Shall we talk about this again another time?” she suggested. “Suppose I go down to the beach now. Look, the sky is blue nearly all over. It won’t rain any more. I am simply longing to jump into the water. Will you go down with me?”



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

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

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

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

“Oh, horrors! But if one wants to be a doctor—I will see[131] that you become our family physician, when old Grabow retires. You’ll see!”

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

“Do you know Hoffmann?” Tony asked.

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

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

“You have been racking your brains?”

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

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

“Morten? That is a nice name.”


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

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

Tony picked her way through the rushes on the edge of the beach. In front of them was a row of round-topped wooden pavilions, and beyond they could see the basket-chairs at the water’s edge and people camped by families on the warm sand—ladies with blue sun-spectacles and books out of the loan-library; gentlemen in light suits idly drawing pictures in the sand with their walking-sticks; sun-burnt children in enormous straw hats, tumbling about, shovelling sand, digging for water, baking with wooden moulds, paddling bare-legged[132] in the shallow pools, floating little ships. To the right, the wooden bathing-pavilion ran out into the water.

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

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

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

“Peace? From what?”


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

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

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

It was a rather large company which Tony was approaching while Morten Schwarzkopf betook himself to the great heap of boulders on the right, near to the bathing-house and washed by the waves. The party was encamped before the Möllendorpfs’ pier, and was composed of the Möllendorpf, Hagenström, Kistenmaker, and Fritsche families. Except for Herr Fritsche, the owner, from Hamburg, and Peter Döhlmann, the idler, the group consisted of women, for it was a week-day, and most of the men were in their offices. Consul Fritsche, an elderly, smooth-shaven gentleman with a distinguished face, was up on the open pier, busy with a telescope, which he trained upon a sailboat visible in the distance. Peter Döhlmann, with a broad-brimmed straw hat and a beard with a nautical cut, stood chatting with the ladies perched on camp-stools or stretched out on rugs on the sand. There were Frau Senator Möllendorpf, born Langhals, with her long-handled lorgnon and untidy grey hair; Frau Hagenström, with Julchen, who had not grown much, but already wore[133] diamonds in her ears, like her mother; Frau Consul Kistenmaker and her daughters; and Frau Consul Fritsche, a wrinkled little lady in a cap, who performed the duties of hospitality at the bath and went about perpetually hot and tired, thinking only about balls and routs and raffles, children’s parties and sailboat excursions. At a little distance sat her paid companion.

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

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

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

“Mademoiselle Buddenbrook!”

“You here?”

[134]“How lovely!”

“When did you come?”

“What a sweet frock!”

“Where are you stopping?”

“At the Schwarzkopfs’?”

“With the pilot-captain? How original!”

“How frightfully original.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



And now began for Tony Buddenbrook a stretch of beautiful summer weeks, briefer, lovelier, than any she had ever spent in Travemünde. She bloomed as she felt her burden no longer upon her; her gay, pert, careless manner had come back. The Consul looked at her with satisfaction when he came on Sundays with Tom and Christian. On those days they ate at the table-d’hôte, sat under the awnings at the pastry-cook’s, drinking coffee and listening to the band, and peeped into the roulette-room at the gay folk there, like Justus Kröger and Peter Döhlmann. The Consul himself never played. Tony sunned herself, took baths, ate sausages with ginger-nut sauce, and took long walks with Morten. They went out on the high-road to the next village, or along the beach to the “ocean temple” on its height, whence a wide view was to be had over land and sea; or to the woods behind the Kurhouse, where was a great bell used to call the guests to the table-d’hôte. Sometimes they rowed across the Trave to the Prival, to look for amber.

Morten made an entertaining companion, though his opinions were often dogmatic, not to say heated. He had a severe and righteous judgment for everything, and he expressed it with finality, blushing all the time. It saddened Tony to hear him call the nobility idiots and wretches and to see the contemptuous if awkward gesture that accompanied the words. She scolded him, but she was proud to have him express so freely in her presence the views and opinions which she knew he concealed from his parents. Once he confided in her: “I’ll tell you something: I’ve a skeleton in my room at Göttingen—a whole set of bones, you know,[136] held together by wire. I’ve put an old policeman’s uniform on it. Ha, ha! Isn’t that great? But don’t say anything to my Father about it.”

Tony was naturally often in the society of her town friends, or drawn into some assembly or boating party. Then Morten “sat on the rocks.” And after their first day this phrase became a convenient one. To “sit on the rocks” meant to feel bored and lonely. When a rainy day came and a grey mist covered the sea far and wide till it was one with the deep sky; when the beach was drenched and the roads streaming with wet, Tony would say: “To-day we shall both have to sit on the rocks—that is, in the verandah or sitting-room. There is nothing left to do but for you to play me some of your student songs, Morten—even if they do bore me horribly.”

“Yes,” Morten said, “come and sit down. But you know that when you are here, there are no rocks!” He never said such things when his father was present. His mother he did not mind.

“Well, what now?” asked the pilot-captain, as Tony and Morten both rose from table and were about to take their leave. “Where are the young folk off to?”

“I was going to take a little walk with Fräulein Antonie, as far as the temple.”

“Oh, is that it? Well, my son Filius, what do you say to going up to your room and conning over your nerves? You’ll lose everything out of your head before you get back to Göttingen.”

But Frau Schwarzkopf would intervene: “Now, Diederich, aren’t these his holidays? Why shouldn’t he take a walk? Is he to have nothing of our visitor?” So Morten went.

They paced along the beach close to the water, on the smooth, hard sand that made walking easy. It was strewn with common tiny white mussel-shells, and others too, pale opalescent and longish in shape; yellow-green wet sea-weed[137] with hollow round fruit that snapped when you squeezed it; and pale, translucent, reddish-yellow jelly-fish, which were poisonous and burned your leg when you touched one bathing.

“I used to be frightfully stupid, you know,” Tony said. “I wanted the bright star out of the jelly-fish, so I brought a lot home in my pocket-handkerchief and put them on the balcony, to dry in the sunshine. When I looked at them again, of course there was just a big wet spot that smelled of sea-weed.”

The waves whispered rhythmically beside them as they walked, and the salt wind blew full in their faces, streaming over and about them, closing their ears to other sounds and causing a pleasant slight giddiness. They walked in this hushed, whispering peacefulness by the sea, whose every faint murmur, near or far, seemed to have a deep significance.

To their left was a precipitous cliff of lime and boulders, with jutting corners that came into view as they rounded the bay. When the beach was too stony to go on, they began to climb, and continued upward through the wood until they reached the temple. It was a round pavilion, built of rough timbers and boards, the inside of which was covered with scribbled inscriptions and poetry, carved hearts and initials. Tony and Morten seated themselves in one of the little rooms facing the sea; it smelled of wood, like the cabins at the bathhouse. It was very quiet, even solemn, up here at this hour of the afternoon. A pair of birds chattered, and the faint rustling of the leaves mingled with the sound of the sea spread out below them. In the distance they could see the rigging of a ship. Sheltered now from the wind that had been thrumming at their ears, they suddenly experienced a quiet, almost pensive mood.

Tony said, “Is it coming or going?”

“What?” asked Morten, his subdued voice sounding as if he were coming back from a far distance. “Oh—going— That[138] is the Burgermeister Steenbock, for Russia.” He added after a pause: “I shouldn’t like to be going with it. It must be worse there than here.”

“Now,” Tony said, “you are going to begin again on the nobility. I see it in your face. And it’s not at all nice of you. Tell me, did you ever know a single one of them?”

“No!” Morten shouted, quite insulted. “Thank God, no.”

“Well, there, then, I have—Armgard von Schilling over there, that I told you about. She was much better-natured than either of us; she hardly knew she was a von—she ate sausage-meat and talked about her cows.”

“Oh, of course. There are naturally exceptions. Listen, Fräulein Tony. You are a woman, you see, so you take everything personally. You happen to know a single member of the nobility, and you say she is a good creature—certainly! But one does not need to know any of them to be able to judge them all. It is a question of the principle, you understand—of—the organization of the state. You can’t answer that, can you? They need only to be born to be the pick of everything, and look down on all the rest of us. While we, however hard we strive, cannot climb to their level.” Morten spoke with a naïve, honest irritation. He tried to fit his speech with gestures, then perceived that they were awkward, and gave it up. But he was in the vein to talk, and he went on, sitting bent forward, with his thumb between the buttons of his jacket, a defiant expression in his usually good-natured eyes. “We, the bourgeoisie—the Third Estate, as we have been called—we recognize only that nobility which consists of merit; we refuse to admit any longer the rights of the indolent aristocracy, we repudiate the class distinctions of the present day, we desire that all men should be free and equal, that no person shall be subject to another, but all subject to the law. There shall be no more privilege and arbitrary rule. All shall be sovereign children of the state; and as no middlemen exist any longer between the people and almighty God, so shall the citizen stand in direct relation to[139] the State. We will have freedom of the press, of trade and industry, so that all men, without distinction, shall be able to strive together and receive their reward according to their merit. We are enslaved, muzzled!—What was it I wanted to say? Oh, yes! Four years ago they renewed the laws of the Confederation touching the universities and the press. Fine laws they are! No truth may be written or taught which might not agree with the established order of things. Do you understand? The truth is suppressed—forbidden to be spoken. Why? For the sake of an obsolete, idiotic, decadent class which everybody knows will be destroyed some day, anyhow. I do not think you can comprehend such meanness. It is the stupid, brutal application of force, the immediate physical strength of the police, without the slightest understanding of new, spiritual forces. And apart from all that, there is the final fact of the great wrong the King of Prussia has done us. In 1813, when the French were in the country, he called us together and promised us a Constitution. We came to the rescue, we freed Germany from the invader—”

Tony, chin in hand, stole a look at him and wondered for a moment if he could have actually helped to drive out Napoleon.

“—but do you think he kept his promise? Oh, no! The present king is a fine orator, a dreamer; a romantic, like you, Fräulein Tony. But I’ll tell you something: take any general principle or conception of life. It always happens that, directly it has been found wanting and discarded by the poets and philosophers, there comes along a King to whom it is a perfectly new idea, and who makes it a guiding principle. That is what kings are like. It is not only that kings are men—they are even very distinctly average men; they are always a good way in the rear. Oh, yes, Germany is just like a students’ society; it had its brave and spirited youth at the time of the great revolution, but now it is just a lot of fretful Philistines.”

“Ye—es,” Tony said. “But let me ask you this: Why[140] are you so interested in Prussia? You aren’t a Prussian.”

“Oh, it is all the same thing, Fräulein Buddenbrook. Yes, I said Fräulein Buddenbrook on purpose, I ought even to have said Demoiselle Buddenbrook, and given you your entire title. Are the men here freer, more brotherly, more equal than in Prussia? Conventions, classes, aristocracy, here as there. You have sympathy for the nobility. Shall I tell you why? Because you belong to it yourself. Yes, yes, didn’t you know it? Your father is a great gentleman, and you are a princess. There is a gulf between you and us, because we do not belong to your circle of ruling families. You can walk on the beach with one of us for the sake of your health, but when you get back into your own class, then the rest of us can go and sit on the rocks.” His voice had grown quite strangely excited.

“Morten,” said Tony, sadly. “You have been angry all the time, then, when you were sitting on the rocks! And I always begged you to come and be introduced.”

“Now you are taking the affair personally again, like a young lady, Fräulein Tony, I’m only speaking of the principle. I say that there is no more fellowship of humanity with us than in Prussia.—And even if I were speaking personally,” he went on, after a little pause, with a softer tone, out of which, however, the strange excitement had not disappeared, “I shouldn’t be speaking of the present, but rather, perhaps, of the future. When you as Madame So-and-So finally vanish into your proper sphere, one is left to sit on the rocks all the rest of one’s life.”

He was silent, and Tony too. She did not look at him, but in the other direction, at the wooden partition. There was an uneasy stillness for some time.

“Do you remember,” Morten began again, “I once said to you that there was a question I wanted to ask you? Yes, I have wanted to know, since the first afternoon you came. Don’t guess. You couldn’t guess what I mean. I am going to ask you another time; there is no hurry; it has really[141] nothing to do with me; it is only curiosity. No, to-day I will only show you one thing. Look.” He drew out of the pocket of his jacket the end of a narrow gaily-striped ribbon, and looked with a mixture of expectation and triumph into Tony’s eyes.

“How pretty,” she said uncomprehendingly. “What is it?”

Morten spoke solemnly: “That means that I belong to a students’ fraternity in Göttingen.—Now you know. I have a cap in the same colours, but my skeleton in the policeman’s uniform is wearing it for the holidays. I couldn’t be seen with it here, you understand. I can count on your saying nothing, can’t I? Because it would be very unfortunate if my father were to hear of it.”

“Not a word, Morten. You can rely on me. But I don’t understand—have you all taken a vow against the nobility? What is it you want?”

“We want freedom,” Morten said.

“Freedom?” she asked.

“Yes, freedom, you know—Freedom!” he repeated; and he made a vague, awkward, fervent gesture outward and downward, not toward the side where the coast of Mecklenburg narrowed the bay, but in the direction of the open sea, whose rippling blue, green, yellow, and grey stripes rolled as far as eye could see out to the misty horizon.

Tony followed his gesture with her eye; they sat, their hands lying close together on the bench, and looked into the distance. Thus they remained in silence a long time, while the sea sent up to them its soft enchanting whispers.... Tony suddenly felt herself one with Morten in a great, vague yearning comprehension of this portentous something which he called “Freedom.”



It is wonderful how one doesn’t get bored, here at the seashore, Morten. Imagine lying anywhere else for hours at a time, flat on your back, doing nothing, not even thinking—”

“Yes. But I must confess that I used to be bored sometimes—only not in the last few weeks.”

Autumn was at hand. The first strong wind had risen. Thin, tattered grey clouds raced across the sky. The dreary, tossing sea was covered far and wide with foam. Great, powerful waves rolled silently in, relentless, awesome; towered majestically, in a metallic dark-green curve, then crashed thundering on the sand.

The season was quite at an end. On that part of the beach usually occupied by the throng of bathers, the pavilions were already partly dismantled, and it lay as quiet as the grave, with only a very few basket-chairs. But Tony and Morten spent the afternoon in a distant spot, at the edge of the yellow loam, where the waves hurled their spray as far up as Sea-gull Rock. Morten had made her a solid sand fortress, and she leaned against it with her back, her feet in their strap shoes and white stockings crossed in front of her. Morten lay turned toward her, his chin in his hands. Now and then a sea-gull flew past them, shrieking. They looked at the green wall of wave, streaked with sea-weed, that came threateningly on and on and then broke against the opposing boulders, with the eternal, confused tumult that deafens and silences and destroys all sense of time.

Finally Morten made a movement as though rousing himself from deep thought, and said, “Well, you will soon be leaving us, Fräulein Tony.”

[143]“No; why?” Tony said absently.

“Well, it is the tenth of September. My holidays are nearly at an end, anyhow. How much longer can it last? Shall you be glad to get back to the society of your own kind? Tell me—I suppose the gentlemen you dance with are very agreeable?—No, no, that was not what I wanted to say. Now you must answer me,” he said, with a sudden resolution, shifting his chin in his hands and looking at her. “Here is the question I have been waiting so long to ask. Now: who is Herr Grünlich?”

Tony sat up, looking at him quickly, her eyes shifting back and forth like those of a person recollecting himself on coming out of a dream. She was feeling again the sense of increased personal importance first experienced when Herr Grünlich proposed for her hand.

“Oh, is that what you want to know, Morten?” she said weightily. “Well, I will tell you. It was really very painful for me to have Thomas mention his name like that, the first afternoon; but since you have already heard of him—well, Herr Grünlich, Bendix Grünlich, is a business friend of my father, a well-to-do Hamburg merchant, who has asked for my hand. No, no,” she replied quickly to a movement of Morten’s, “I have refused him; I have never been able to make up my mind to yield him my consent for life.”

“And why not?—if I may ask,” said Morten awkwardly.

“Why? Oh, good heavens, because I couldn’t endure him,” she cried out in a passion. “You ought to have seen him, how he looked and how he acted. Among other things, he had yellow whiskers—dreadfully unnatural. I’m sure he curled them and put on gold powder, like the stuff we use for the Christmas nuts. And he was underhanded. He fawned on my Father and Mother and chimed in with them in the most shameful way—”

Morten interrupted her. “But what does this mean: ‘That trims it up uncommonly.’”

Tony broke into a nervous giggle.

[144]“Well, he talked like that, Morten. He wouldn’t say ‘That looks very well’ or ‘It goes very well with the room.’ He was frightfully silly, I tell you. And very persistent; he simply wouldn’t be put off, although I never gave him anything but sarcasm. Once he made such a scene—he nearly wept—imagine a man weeping!”

“He must have worshipped you,” Morten said softly.

“Well, what affair was that of mine?” she cried out, astonished, turning around on her sand-heap.

“You are cruel, Fräulein Tony. Are you always cruel? Tell me: You didn’t like this Herr Grünlich. But is there any one to whom you have been more gracious? Sometimes I think: Has she a cold heart? Let me tell you something: a man is not idiotic simply because he weeps when you won’t look at him. I swear it. I am not sure, not at all, that I wouldn’t do the same thing. You see, you are such a dainty, spoilt thing. Do you always make fun of people that lie at your feet? Have you really a cold heart?”

After the first giggle, Tony’s lip began to quiver. She turned on him a pair of great distressed eyes, which slowly filled with tears as she said softly: “No, Morten, you should not think that of me—you must not think that of me.”

“I don’t; indeed I don’t,” he cried, with a laugh of mingled emotion and hardly suppressed exultation. He turned fully about, so that he lay supporting himself on his elbows, took her hands in both his, and looked straight into hers with his kind steel-blue eyes, which were excited and dreamy and exalted all at once.

“Then you—you won’t mock at me if I tell you—?”

“I know, Morten,” she answered gently, looking away from him at the fine white sand sifting through the fingers of her free hand.

“You know—and you—oh, Fräulein Tony!”

“Yes, Morten. I care a great deal for you. More than for any one else I know.”

He started up, making awkward gestures with his arms,[145] like a man bewildered. Then he got to his feet, only to throw himself down again by her side and cry in a voice that stammered, wavered, died away and rose again, out of sheer joy: “Oh, thank you, thank you! I am so happy! more than I ever was in all my life!” And he fell to kissing her hands. After a moment he said more quietly; “You will be going back to town soon, Tony, and my holidays will be over in two weeks; then I must return to Göttingen. But will you promise me that you will never forget this afternoon here on the beach—till I come back again with my degree, and can ask your Father—however hard that’s going to be? And you won’t listen to any Herr Grünlich meantime? Oh, it won’t be so long—I will work like a—like anything! it will be so easy!”

“Yes, Morten,” she said dreamily, looking at his eyes, his mouth, his hands holding hers.

He drew her hand close to his breast and asked very softly and imploringly: “And won’t you—may I—seal the promise?”

She did not answer, she did not look at him, but moved nearer to him on the sand-heap, and Morten kissed her slowly and solemnly on the mouth. Then they stared in different directions across the sand, and both felt furiously embarrassed.



Dearest Mademoiselle Buddenbrook,

For how long must the undersigned exist without a glimpse of his enchantress? These few lines will tell you that the vision has never ceased to hover before his spiritual eye; that never has he during these interminably anxious months ceased to think of the precious afternoon in your parental salon, when you let fall a blushing promise which filled me with bliss unspeakable! Since then long weeks have flown, during which you have retired from the world for the sake of calm and self-examination. May I now hope that the period of probation is past? The undersigned permits himself, dearest Mademoiselle, to send the enclosed ring as an earnest of his undying tenderness. With the most tender compliments, and devotedly kissing your hand, I remain,

Your obedient servant,

Dear Papa,

How angry I’ve been! I had the enclosed letter and ring just now from Grünlich, and my head aches fearfully from excitement. I don’t know what else to do but send them both to you. He simply will not understand me, and what he so poetically writes about the promise isn’t in the least true, and I beg you emphatically to make it immediately perfectly clear to him that I am a thousand times less able to say yes to him than I was before, and that he must leave me in peace. He makes himself ridiculous. To you, my dearest Father, I can say that I have bound myself elsewhere, to one who adores me and whom I love more than I can say. Oh, Papa! I could write pages to you! I mean Herr Morten Schwarzkopf, who is studying to be a physician, and who as[147] soon as that happens will ask for my hand. I know that it is the rule of the family to marry a business man, but Morten belongs to the other section of respectable men, the scholars. He is not rich, which I know is important to you and Mamma: but I must tell you that, young as I am, I have learned that riches do not make every one happy. With a thousand kisses,

Your obedient daughter,

P.S. I find the ring very poor gold, and too narrow.

My dear Tony,

Your letter duly received. As regards its contents, I must tell you that I did not fail to communicate them to Herr Grünlich: the result was of such a nature as to shock me very much. You are a grown girl, and at a serious time of life, so I need not scruple to tell you the consequences that a frivolous step of yours may draw after it. Herr Grünlich, then, burst into despair at my announcement, declaring that he loved you so dearly, and could so little console himself for your loss, that he would be in a state to take his own life if you remain firm in your resolve. As I cannot take seriously what you write me of another attachment, I must beg you to master your excitement over the ring, and consider everything again very carefully. It is my Christian conviction, my dear daughter, that one must have regard for the feelings of others. We do not know that you may not be made responsible by the most high Judge if a man whose feelings you have coldly and obstinately scorned should trespass against his own life. But the thing I have so often told you by word of mouth, I must recall again to your remembrance, and I am glad to have the occasion to repeat it in writing; for though speech is more vivid and has the more immediate effect, the written word has the advantage that it can be chosen with pains and fixed in a form well-weighed and calculated by the writer, to be read over and over again, with proportionate effect.—My child, we are not born for that which, with our short-sighted vision, we reckon to be our own small personal happiness. We are not free, separate, and independent entities, but like links in a chain, and[148] we could not by any means be what we are without those who went before us and showed us the way, by following the straight and narrow path, not looking to right or left. Your path, it seems to me, has lain all these weeks sharply marked out for you, and you would not be my daughter, nor the granddaughter of your Grandfather who rests in God, nor a worthy member of our own family, if you really have it in your heart, alone, wilfully, and light-headedly to choose your own unregulated path. Your Mother, Thomas, Christian, and I beg you, my dear Antonie, to weigh all this in your heart. Mlle. Jungmann and Clara greet you affectionately, likewise Clothilde, who has been the last several weeks with her father at Thankless. We all rejoice at the thought of embracing you once more.

With unfailing affection,
Your loving Father.



It rained in streams. Heaven, earth, and sea were in flood, while the driving wind took the rain and flung it against the panes as though not drops but brooks were flowing down and making them impossible to see through. Complaining and despairing voices sounded in the chimney.

When Morten Schwarzkopf went out into the verandah with his pipe shortly after dinner to look at the sky, he found there a gentleman with a long, narrow yellow-checked ulster and a grey hat. A closed carriage, its top glistening with wet, its wheels clogged with mud, was before the door. Morten stared irresolutely into the rosy face of the gentleman. He had mutton-chop whiskers that looked as though they had been dressed with gold paint.

The gentleman in the ulster looked at Morten as one looks at a servant, blinking gently without seeing him, and said in a soft voice: “Is Herr Pilot-Captain Schwarzkopf at home?”

“Yes,” stammered Morten, “I think my Father—”

Hereupon the gentleman fixed his eyes upon him; they were as blue as a goose’s.

“Are you Herr Morten Schwarzkopf?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” answered Morten, trying to keep his face straight.

“Ah—indeed!” remarked the gentleman in the ulster, and went on, “Have the goodness to announce me to your Father, young man. My name is Grünlich.”

Morten led the gentleman through the verandah, opened for him the right-hand door that led into the office, and went back into the sitting-room to tell his Father. Then the youth sat down at the round table, resting his elbow on it, and seemed, without noticing his Mother, who was sitting at the[150] dark window mending stockings, to busy himself with the “wretched news-sheet” which had nothing in it except the announcements of the silver wedding of Consul So-and-So. Tony was resting in her room.

The pilot-captain entered his office with the air of a man satisfied with his meal. His uniform-coat stood open over the usual white waistcoat. His face was red, and his ice-grey beard coldly set off against it; his tongue travelled about agreeably among his teeth, making his good mouth take the most extraordinary shapes. He bowed shortly, jerkily, with the air of one conforming to the conventions as he understood them.

“Good afternoon,” he said. “At your service.”

Herr Grünlich, on his side, bowed with deliberation, although one corner of his mouth seemed to go down. He said softly: “Ahem!”

The office was rather a small room, the walls of which had wainscoting for a few feet and then simple plaster. Curtains, yellow with smoke, hung before the window, on whose panes the rain beat unceasingly. On the right of the door was a rough table covered with papers, above it a large map of Europe, and a smaller one of the Baltic Sea fastened to the wall. From the middle of the ceiling hung the well-cut model of a ship under full sail.

The Captain made his guest take the sloping sofa, covered with cracked oil-cloth, that stood opposite the door, and made himself comfortable in a wooden arm-chair, folding his hands across his stomach; while Herr Grünlich, his ulster tightly buttoned up, his hat on his knees, sat bolt upright on the edge of the sofa.

“My name is, I repeat, Grünlich,” he said; “from Hamburg. I may say by way of introduction that I am a close business friend of Herr Buddenbrook.”

“Servant, Herr Grünlich; pleased to make your acquaintance. Won’t you make yourself comfortable? Have a glass of grog after your journey? I’ll send right into the kitchen.”

[151]“I must permit myself to remark that my time is limited, my carriage is waiting, and I am really obliged to ask for the favour of a few words with you.”

“At your service,” repeated Herr Schwarzkopf, taken aback. There was a pause.

“Herr Captain,” began Herr Grünlich, wagging his head with determination and throwing himself back on his seat. After this he was silent again; and by way of enhancing the effect of his address he shut his mouth tight, like a purse drawn together with strings.

“Herr Captain,” he repeated, and went on without further pause, “The matter about which I have come to you directly concerns the young lady who has been for some weeks stopping in your house.”

“Mademoiselle Buddenbrook?” asked the Consul.

“Precisely,” assented Herr Grünlich. He looked down at the floor, and spoke in a voice devoid of expression. Hard lines came out at the corners of his mouth.

“I am obliged to inform you,” he went on in a sing-song tone, his sharp eyes jumping from one point in the room to another and then to the window, “that some time ago I proposed for the hand of Mademoiselle Buddenbrook. I am in possession of the fullest confidence of both parents, and the young lady herself has unmistakably given me a claim to her hand, though no betrothal has taken place in form.”

“You don’t say—God keep us!” said Herr Schwarzkopf, in a sprightly tone. “I never heard that before! Congratulations, Herr—er—Grünlich. She’s a good girl—genuine good stuff.”

“Thank you for the compliment,” said Herr Grünlich, coldly. He went on in his high sing-song: “What brings me to you on this occasion, my good Herr Captain, is the circumstance that certain difficulties have just arisen—and these difficulties—appear to have their source in your house—?” He spoke the last words in a questioning tone, as if to say, “Can[152] this disgraceful state of things be true, or have my ears deceived me?”

Herr Schwarzkopf answered only by lifting his eyebrows as high as they would go, and clutching the arms of his chair with his brown, blond-felled fisherman’s hands.

“Yes. This is the fact. So I am informed,” Herr Grünlich said, with dreary certitude. “I hear that your son—studiosus medicinae, I am led to understand—has allowed himself—of course unconsciously—to encroach upon my rights. I hear that he has taken advantage of the present visit of the young lady to extract certain promises from her.”

“What?” shouted the pilot-captain, gripping the arms of his chair and springing up. “That we shall soon—we can soon see—!” With two steps he was at the door, tore it open, and shouted down the corridor in a voice that would have out-roared the wildest seas: “Meta, Morten! Come in here, both of you.”

“I shall regret it exceedingly if the assertion of my prior rights runs counter to your fatherly hopes, Herr Captain.”

Diederich Schwarzkopf turned and stared, with his sharp blue eyes in their wrinkled setting, straight into the stranger’s face, as though he strove in vain to comprehend his words.

“Sir!” he said. Then, with a voice that sounded as though he had just burnt his throat with hot grog, “I’m a simple sort of a man, and don’t know much about landlubber’s tricks and skin games; but if you mean, maybe, that—well, sir, you can just set it down right away that you’ve got on the wrong tack, and are making a pretty bad miscalculation about my fatherly hopes. I know who my son is, and I know who Mademoiselle Buddenbrook is, and there’s too much respect and too much pride in my carcase to be making any plans of the sort you’ve mentioned.—And now,” he roared, jerking his head toward the door, “it’s your turn to talk, boy. You tell me what this affair is; what is this I hear—hey?”

Frau Schwarzkopf and her son stood in the doorway, she innocently arranging her apron, he with the air of a hardened[153] sinner. Herr Grünlich did not rise at their entrance. He waited, erect and composed, on the edge of the sofa, buttoned up tight in his ulster.

“So you’ve been behaving like a silly fool?” bellowed the captain to Morten.

The young man had his thumb stuck between the buttons of his jacket. He scowled and puffed out his cheeks defiantly.

“Yes, Father,” he said, “Fräulein Buddenbrook and I—”

“Well, then, I’ll just tell you you’re a perfect Tom-fool, a young ninny, and you’ll be packed off to-morrow for Göttingen—to-morrow, understand? It’s all damned childish nonsense, and rascality into the bargain.”

“Good heavens, Diederich,” said Frau Schwarzkopf, folding her hands, “you can’t just say that, you know. Who knows—?” She stopped, she said no more; but it was plain from her face that a mother’s beautiful dream had been shattered in that moment.

“Would the gentleman like to see the young lady?” Schwarzkopf turned to Herr Grünlich and spoke in a harsh voice.

“She is upstairs in her room asleep,” Frau Schwarzkopf said with feeling.

“I regret,” said Herr Grünlich, and he got up, obviously relieved. “But I repeat that my time is limited, and the carriage waits. I permit myself,” he went on, describing with his hat a motion in the direction of Herr Schwarzkopf, “to acknowledge to you, Herr Captain, my entire recognition of your manly and high-principled bearing. I salute you. Good-bye.”

Diederich Schwarzkopf did not offer to shake hands with him. He merely gave a jerky bow with the upper part of his heavy figure, that had an air of saying: “This is the proper thing, I suppose.”

Herr Grünlich, with measured tread, passed between Morten and his mother and went out the door.



Thomas appeared with the Kröger calèche. The day was at hand.

The young man arrived at ten o’clock in the forenoon and took a bite with the family in the living-room. They sat together as on the first day, except that now summer was over; it was too cold and windy to sit in the verandah; and—Morten was not there. He was in Göttingen. Tony and he had not even been able to say good-bye. The Captain had stood there and said, “Well, so that’s the end of that, eh!”

At eleven the brother and sister mounted into the wagon, where Tony’s trunk was already fastened at the back. She was pale and shivered in her soft autumn coat—from cold, weariness, excitement, and a grief that now and then rose up suddenly and filled her breast with a painful oppression. She kissed little Meta, pressed the house-wife’s hand, and nodded to Herr Schwarzkopf when he said, “Well, you won’t forget us, little Miss, will you? And no bad feeling, eh? And a safe journey and best greetings to your honoured Father and the Frau Consul.” Then the coach door slammed, the fat brown horses pulled at their traces, and the three Schwarzkopfs waved their handkerchiefs.

Tony crooked her neck in the corner of the coach, in order to peer out of the window. The sky was covered with white cloud-flakes; the Trave broke into little waves that hurried before the wind. Now and then drops of rain pattered against the glass. At the end of the front people sat in the doors of their cottages and mended nets; barefoot children came running to look curiously at the carriage. They did not have to go away!

[155]As they left the last houses behind, Tony bent forward to look at the light-house; then she leaned back and closed her tired and burning eyes. She had hardly slept for excitement. She had risen early to finish her packing, and discovered no desire for breakfast. There was a dull taste in her mouth, and she felt so weak that she made no effort to dry the slow, hot tears that kept rising every minute.

But directly her eyes were shut, she found herself again in Travemünde, on the verandah. She saw Morten in the flesh before her; he seemed to speak and to lean toward her as he always did, and then look good-naturedly and searchingly at the next person, unconsciously showing his beautiful teeth as he smiled. Slowly her mind grew calm and peaceful again. She recalled everything that she had heard and learned from him in many a talk, and it solaced her to promise herself that she would preserve all this as a secret holy and inviolate and cherish it in her heart. That the King of Prussia had committed a great wrong against his people; that the local newspaper was a lamentable sheet; yes, that the laws of the League concerning universities had been renewed four years ago—all these were from now on consoling and edifying truths, a hidden treasure which she might store up within herself and contemplate whenever she chose. On the street, in the family circle, at the table she would think of them. Who knew? Perhaps she might even go on in the path prescribed for her and marry Herr Grünlich—that was a detail, after all—but when he spoke to her she could always say to herself, “I know something you don’t: the nobility is in principle despicable.”

She smiled to herself and was assuaged. But suddenly, in the noise of the wheels, she heard Morten’s voice with miraculous clearness. She distinguished every nuance of his kindly, dragging speech as he said: “To-day we must both ‘sit on the rocks,’ Fräulein Tony,” and this little memory overpowered her. Her breast contracted with her grief, and she let the tears flow down unopposed. Bowed in her corner, she[156] held her handkerchief before her face and wept bitterly.

Thomas, his cigarette in his mouth, looked somewhat blankly at the high-road. “Poor Tony,” he said at last, stroking her jacket. “I feel so sorry—I understand so well, you know. But what can you do? One has to bear these things. Believe me, I do understand what you feel.”

“Oh, you don’t understand at all, Tom,” sobbed Tony.

“Don’t say that. Did you know it is decided that I am to go to Amsterdam at the beginning of next year? Papa has obtained a place for me with van der Kellen and Company. That means I must say good-bye for a long, long time.”

“Oh, Tom! Saying good-bye to your father and mother and sisters and brothers—that isn’t anything.”

“Ye-es,” he said, slowly. He sighed, as if he did not wish to say more, and was silent. He let the cigarette rove from one corner of his mouth to the other, lifted one eyebrow, and turned his head away.

“Well, it doesn’t last for ever,” he began again after a while. “Naturally one forgets.”

“But I don’t want to forget,” Tony cried out in desperation. “Forgetting—is that any consolation?”



Then came the ferry, and Israelsdorf Avenue, Jerusalem Hill, the Castle Field. The wagon passed the Castle Gate, with the walls of the prison rising on the right, and rolled along Castle Street and over the Koberg. Tony looked at the grey gables, the oil lamps hung across the streets, Holy Ghost Hospital with the already almost bare lindens in front of it. Oh, how everything was exactly as it had been! It had been standing here, in immovable dignity, while she had thought of it as a dream worthy only to be forgotten. These grey gables were the old, the accustomed, the traditional, to which she was returning, in the midst of which she must live. She wept no more. She looked about curiously. The pain of parting was almost dulled at the sight of these well-known streets and faces. At that moment—the wagon was rolling through Broad Street—the porter Matthiesen passed and took off his stove-pipe hat so obsequiously that it seemed he must be thinking, “Bow, you dog of a porter—you can’t bow low enough.”

The equipage turned into the Mengstrasse, and the fat brown horses stood snorting and stamping before the Buddenbrook door. Tom was very attentive in helping his sister out, while Anton and Line hastened up to unfasten the trunk. But they had to wait before they could enter the house. Three great lorries were being driven through, one close behind another, piled high with full corn sacks, with the firm name written on them in big black letters. They jolted along over the great boards and down the shallow steps to the cart-yard with a heavy rumbling noise. Part of the corn was evidently to be unloaded at the back of the house and the rest taken to the “Walrus,” the “Lion,” or the “Oak.”

[158]The Consul came out of the office with his pen behind his ear as the brother and sister reached the entry, and stretched out his arms to his daughter.

“Welcome home, my dear Tony!”

She kissed him, looking a little shame-faced, her eyes still red with weeping. But he was very tactful; he made no allusions; he only said: “It is late, but we waited with the second breakfast.”

The Frau Consul, Christian, Clothilde, Clara, and Ida Jungmann stood above on the landing to greet her.

Tony slept soundly and well the first night in Mengstrasse. She rose the next morning, the twenty-second of September, refreshed and calmed, and went down into the breakfast-room. It was still quite early, hardly seven o’clock. Only Mamsell Jungmann was there, making the morning coffee.

“Well, well, Tony, my little child,” she said, looking round with her small, blinking brown eyes. “Up so early?”

Tony sat down at the open desk, clasped her hands behind her head, and looked for a while at the pavement of the court, gleaming black with wet, and at the damp, yellow garden. Then she began to rummage curiously among the visiting-cards and letters on the desk. Close by the inkstand lay the well-known large copy-book with the stamped cover, gilt edges, and leaves of various qualities and colours. It must have been used the evening before, and it was strange that Papa had not put it back in its leather portfolio and laid it in its special drawer.

She took it and turned over the pages, began to read, and became absorbed. What she read were mostly simple facts well-known to her; but each successive writer had followed his predecessor in a stately but simple chronicle style which was no bad mirror of the family attitude, its modest but honourable self-respect, and its reverence for tradition and history. The book was not new to Tony; she had sometimes been allowed to read in it. But its contents had never made the impression upon her that they did this morning. She was[159] thrilled by the reverent particularity with which the simplest facts pertinent to the family were here treated. She propped herself on her elbows and read with growing absorption, seriousness and pride.

No point in her own tiny past was lacking. Her birth, her childish illnesses, her first school, her boarding-school days at Mademoiselle Weichbrodt’s, her confirmation—everything was carefully entered, with an almost reverent observation of facts, in the Consul’s small, flowing business hand; for was not the least of them the will and work of God, who wonderfully guided the destinies of the family? What, she mused, would there be entered here in the future after her name, which she had received from her grandmother Antoinette? All that was yet to be written there would be conned by later members of the family with a piety equal to her own.

She leaned back sighing; her heart beat solemnly. She was filled with reverence for herself: the familiar feeling of personal importance possessed her, heightened by all she had been reading. She felt thrilled and shuddery. “Like a link in a chain,” Papa had written. Yes, yes. She was important precisely as a link in this chain. Such was her significance and her responsibility, such her task: to share by deed and word in the history of her family.

She turned back to the end of the great volume, where on a rough folio page was entered the genealogy of the whole Buddenbrook family, with parentheses and rubrics, indicated in the Consul’s hand, and all the dates set down: from the marriage of the earliest scion of the family with Brigitta Schuren, the pastor’s daughter, down to the wedding of Consul Johann Buddenbrook with Elizabeth Kröger in 1825. From this marriage, it said, four children had resulted: whereupon these were all entered, with the days and years of their birth, and their baptismal names, one after another. Under that of the eldest son it was recorded that he had entered as apprentice in his father’s business in the Easter of 1842.

Tony looked a long time at her name and at the blank[160] space next it. Then, suddenly, with a jerk, with a nervous, feverish accompaniment of sobbing breaths and quick-moving lips—she clutched the pen, plunged it rather than dipped it into the ink, and wrote, with her forefinger crooked, her hot head bent far over on her shoulder, in her awkward handwriting that climbed up the page from left to right: “Betrothed, on Sept. 22, 1845, to Herr Bendix Grünlich, Merchant, of Hamburg.”



I entirely agree with you, my good friend. This important matter must be settled. In short, then: the usual dowry of a young girl of our family is seventy thousand marks.”

Herr Grünlich cast at his future father-in-law a shrewd, calculating glance—the glance of the genuine man of business.

“As a matter of fact,” he said—and this “matter of fact” was of precisely the same length as his left-hand whisker, which he was drawing reflectively through his fingers; he let go of the end just as “of fact” was finished.

“You know, my honoured father,” he began again, “the deep respect I have for traditions and principles. Only—in the present case is not this consideration for the tradition a little exaggerated? A business increases—a family prospers—in short, conditions change and improve.”

“My good friend,” said the Consul, “you see in me a fair-dealing merchant. You have not let me finish, or you would have heard that I am ready and willing to meet you in the circumstances, and add ten thousand marks to the seventy thousand without more ado.”

“Eighty thousand, then,” said Herr Grünlich, making motions with his mouth, as though to say: “Not too much; but it will do.”

Thus they came to an affectionate settlement; the Consul jingled his keys like a man satisfied as he got up. And, in fact, his satisfaction was justified; for it was only with the eighty thousand marks that they had arrived at the dowry traditional in the family.

Herr Grünlich now said good-bye and departed for Hamburg. Tony as yet realized but little of her new estate. She still[162] went to dances at the Möllendorpfs’, Kistenmakers’, and Langhals’, and in her own home; she skated on the Burgfield and the meadows of the Trave, and permitted the attentions of the young gentlemen of the town. In the middle of October she went to the betrothal feast at the Möllendorpfs’ for the oldest son of the house and Juliet Hagenström. “Tom,” she said, “I won’t go. It is disgusting.” But she went, and enjoyed herself hugely. And, as for the rest, by the entry with the pen in the family history-book, she had won the privilege of going, with the Frau Consul or alone, into all the shops in town and making purchases in a grand style for her trousseau. It was to be a brilliant trousseau. Two seamstresses sat all day in the breakfast-room window, sewing, embroidering monograms, and eating quantities of house-bread and green cheese.

“Is the linen come from Lentföhr, Mamma?”

“No, but here are two dozen tea-serviettes.”

“That is nice. But he promised it by this afternoon. My goodness, the sheets still have to be hemmed.”

“Mamsell Bitterlich wants to know about the lace for the pillow-cases, Ida.”

“It is in the right-hand cupboard in the entry, Tony, my child.”


“You could go yourself, my dear.”

“Oh, if I’m marrying for the privilege of running up and down stairs—!”

“Have you made up your mind yet about the material for the wedding-dress, Tony?”

“Moiré antique, Mamma—I won’t marry without moiré antique!”

So passed October and November. At Christmas time Herr Grünlich appeared, to spend Christmas in the Buddenbrook family circle and also to take part in the celebration at the Krögers’. His conduct toward his bride showed all the delicacy one would have expected from him. No unnecessary[163] formality, no importunity, no tactless tenderness. A light, discreet kiss upon the forehead, in the presence of the parents, sealed the betrothal. Tony sometimes puzzled over this, the least in the world. Why, she wondered, did his present happiness seem not quite commensurate with the despair into which her refusal had thrown him? He regarded her with the air of a satisfied possessor. Now and then, indeed, if they happened to be alone, a jesting and teasing mood seemed to overcome him; once he attempted to fall on his knees and approach his whiskers to her face, while he asked in a voice apparently trembling with joy, “Have I indeed captured you? Have I won you for my own?” To which Tony answered, “You are forgetting yourself,” and got away with all possible speed.

Soon after the holidays Herr Grünlich went back to Hamburg, for his flourishing business demanded his personal attention; and the Buddenbrooks agreed with him that Tony had had time enough before the betrothal to make his acquaintance.

The question of a house was quickly arranged. Tony, who looked forward extravagantly to life in a large city, had expressed the wish to settle in Hamburg itself, and indeed in the Spitalstrasse, where Herr Grünlich’s office was. But the bridegroom, by manly persistence, won her over to the purchase of a villa outside the city, near Eimsbüttel, a romantic and retired spot, an ideal nest for a newly-wedded pair—“procul negotiis.”—Ah, he had not yet forgotten quite all his Latin!

Thus December passed, and at the beginning of the year ’46 the wedding was celebrated. There was a splendid wedding feast, to which half the town was bidden. Tony’s friends—among them Armgard von Schilling, who arrived in a towering coach—danced with Tom’s and Christian’s friends, among them Andreas Gieseke, son of the Fire Commissioner and now studiosus juris; also Stephan and Edward Kistenmacher, of Kistenmacher and Son. They danced in the dining-room[164] and the hall, which had been strewn with talc for the occasion. Among the liveliest of the lively was Consul Peter Döhlmann; he got hold of all the earthenware crocks he could find and broke them on the flags of the big passage.

Frau Stuht from Bell-Founders’ Street had another opportunity to mingle in the society of the great; for it was she who helped Mamsell Jungmann and the two seamstresses to adjust Tony’s toilette on the great day. She had, as God was her judge, never seen a more beautiful bride. Fat as she was, she went on her knees; and, with her eyes rolled up in admiration, fastened the myrtle twigs on the white moiré antique. This was in the breakfast-room. Herr Grünlich, in his long-skirted frock-coat and silk waistcoat, waited at the door. His rosy face had a correct and serious expression, his wart was powdered, and his gold-yellow whiskers carefully curled.

Above in the hall, where the marriage was to take place, the family gathered—a stately assemblage. There sat the old Krögers, a little ailing both of them, but distinguished figures always. There was Consul Kröger with his sons Jürgen and Jacob, the latter having come from Hamburg, like the Duchamps. There were Gottfried Buddenbrook and his wife, born Stüwing, with their three offspring, Friederike, Henriette, and Pfiffi, none of whom was, unfortunately, likely to marry. There was the Mecklenburg branch, represented by Clothilde’s father, Herr Bernhard Buddenbrook, who had come in from Thankless and looked with large eyes at the seignorial house of his rich relations. The relatives from Frankfort had contented themselves with sending presents; the journey was too arduous. In their place were the only guests not members of the family. Dr. Grabow, the family physician, and Mlle. Weichbrodt, Tony’s motherly friend—Sesemi Weichbrodt, with fresh ribbons on her cap over the side-curls, and a little black dress. “Be happy, you good child,” she said, when Tony appeared at Herr Grünlich’s[165] side in the hall. She reached up and kissed her with a little explosion on the forehead. The family was satisfied with the bride: Tony looked pretty, gay, and at her ease, if a little pale from excitement and tension.

The hall had been decorated with flowers and an altar arranged on the right side. Pastor Kölling of St. Mary’s performed the service, and laid special stress upon moderation. Everything went according to custom and arrangement, Tony brought out a hearty yes, and Herr Grünlich gave his little ahem, beforehand, to clear his throat. Afterward, everybody ate long and well.

While the guests continued to eat in the salon, with the pastor in their midst, the Consul and his wife accompanied the young pair, who had dressed for their journey, out into the snowy, misty air, where the great travelling coach stood before the door, packed with boxes and bags.

After Tony had expressed many times her conviction that she should soon be back again on a visit, and that they too would not delay long to come to Hamburg to see her, she climbed in good spirits into the coach and let herself be carefully wrapped up by the Consul in the warm fur rug. Her husband took his place by her side.

“And, Grünlich,” said the Consul, “the new laces are in the small satchel, on top. You take a little in under your overcoat, don’t you? This excise—one has to get around it the best one can. Farewell, farewell! Farewell, dear Tony. God bless you.”

“You will find good accommodation in Arensburg, won’t you?” asked the Frau Consul. “Already reserved, my dear Mamma,” answered Herr Grünlich.

Anton, Line, Trine, and Sophie took leave of Ma’am Grünlich. The coach door was about to be slammed, when Tony was overtaken by a sudden impulse. Despite all the trouble it took, she unwound herself again from her wrappings, climbed ruthlessly over Herr Grünlich, who began to grumble,[166] and embraced her Father with passion. “Adieu, Papa, adieu, my good Papa.” And then she whispered softly: “Are you satisfied with me?”

The Consul pressed her without words to his heart, then put her from him and shook her hands with deep feeling.

Now everything was ready. The coach door slammed, the coachman cracked his whip, the horses dashed away so that the coach windows rattled; the Frau Consul let fly her little white handkerchief; and the carriage, rolling down the street, disappeared in the mist.

The Consul stood thoughtfully next to his wife, who drew her cloak about her shoulders with a graceful movement.

“There she goes, Betsy.”

“Yes, Jean, the first to leave us. Do you think she is happy with him?”

“Oh, Betsy, she is satisfied with herself, which is better; it is the most solid happiness we can have on this earth.”

They went back to their guests.



Thomas Buddenbrook went down Meng Street as far as the “Five Houses.” He avoided Broad Street so as not to be accosted by acquaintances and obliged to greet them. With his hands deep in the big pockets of his warm dark grey overcoat, he walked, sunk in thought, over the hard, sparkling snow, which crunched under his boots. He went his own way, and whither it led no one knew but himself. The sky was pale blue and clear, the air biting and crisp—a still, severe, clear weather, with five degrees of frost; in short, a matchless February day.

Thomas walked down the “Five Houses,” crossed Bakers’ Alley, and went along a narrow cross-street into Fishers’ Lane. He followed this street, which led down to the Trave parallel to Meng Street, for a few steps, and paused before a small house, a modest flower-shop, with a narrow door and dingy show-window, where a few pots of onions stood on a pane of green glass.

He went in, whereupon the bell above the door began to give tongue, like a little watch-dog. Within, before the counter, talking to the young saleswoman, was a little fat elderly lady in a Turkey shawl. She was choosing a pot of flowers, examining, smelling, criticizing, chattering, and constantly obliged to wipe her mouth with her handkerchief. Thomas Buddenbrook greeted her politely and stepped to one side. She was a poor relation of the Langhals’, a good-natured garrulous old maid who bore the name of one of the best families without herself belonging to their set: that is, she was not asked to the large dinners, but to the small coffee circles. She was known to almost all the world as Aunt[168] Lottchen. She turned toward the door, with her pot of flowers, wrapped up in tissue paper, under her arm; and Thomas, after greeting her again, said in an elevated voice to the shop girl, “Give me a couple of roses, please. Never mind the kind—well, La France.”

Then, after Aunt Lottchen had shut the door behind her and gone away, he said in a lower voice, “Put them away again, Anna. How are you, little Anna? Here I am—and I’ve come with a heavy heart.”

Anna wore a white apron over her simple black frock. She was wonderfully pretty. Delicately built as a fawn, she had an almost mongol type of face, somewhat prominent cheek-bones, narrow black eyes full of a soft gleam, and a pale yellow skin the like of which is rare anywhere. Her hands, of the same tint, were narrow, and more beautiful than a shop girl’s are wont to be.

She went behind the counter at the right end, so that she could not be seen through the shop-window. Thomas followed on the outside of the counter and, bending over, kissed her on the lips and the eyes.

“You are quite frozen, poor boy,” she said.

“Five degrees,” said Tom. “I didn’t notice it, I’ve felt so sad coming over.”

He sat down on the table, keeping her hand in his, and went on: “Listen, Anna; we’ll be sensible to-day, won’t we? The time has come.”

“Oh, dear,” she said miserably, and lifted her apron to her eyes.

“It had to happen sometime, Anna. No, don’t weep. We were going to be reasonable, weren’t we? What else is there to do? One has to bear such things.”

“When?” asked Anna, sobbing.

“Day after to-morrow.”

“Oh, God, no! Why to-morrow? A week longer—five days! Please, oh, please!”

[169]“Impossible, dear Anna. Everything is arranged and in order. They are expecting me in Amsterdam. I couldn’t make it a day longer, no matter how much I wanted.”

“And that is so far away—so far away!”

“Amsterdam? Nonsense, that isn’t far. We can always think of each other, can’t we? And I’ll write to you. You’ll see, I’ll write directly I’ve got there.”

“Do you remember,” she said, “a year and a half ago, at the Rifle-club fair?”

He interrupted her ardently. “Do I remember? Yes, a year and a half ago! I took you for an Italian. I bought a pink and put it in my button-hole.—I still have it—I am taking it with me to Amsterdam.—What a heat: how hot and dusty it was on the meadow!”

“Yes, you bought me a glass of lemonade from the next booth. I remember it like yesterday. Everything smelled of fatty-cakes and people.”

“But it was fine! We knew right away how we felt—about each other!”

“You wanted to take me on the carroussel, but I couldn’t go; I had to be in the shop. The old woman would have scolded.”

“No, I know it wouldn’t have done, Anna.”

She said softly and clearly, “But that is the only thing I’ve refused you.”

He kissed her again, on the lips and the eyes. “Adieu, darling little Anna. We must begin to say good-bye.”

“Oh, you will come back to-morrow?”

“Yes, of course, and day after to-morrow early, if I can get away.—But there is one thing I want to say to you, Anna. I am going, after all, rather far away. Amsterdam is a long way off—and you are staying here. But—don’t throw yourself away, I tell you.”

She wept into her apron, holding it up with her free hand to her face. “And you—and you?”

[170]“God knows, Anna, what will happen. One isn’t young for ever—you are a sensible girl, you have never said anything about marriage and that sort of thing—”

“God forbid—that I should ask such a thing of you!”

“One is carried along—you see. If I live, I shall take over the business, and make a good match—you see, I am open with you at parting, Anna. I wish you every happiness, darling, darling little Anna. But don’t throw yourself away, do you hear? For you haven’t done that—with me—I swear it.”

It was warm in the shop. A moist scent of earth and flowers was in the air. Outside, the winter sun was hurrying to its repose, and a pure delicate sunset, like one painted on porcelain, beautified the sky across the river. People hurried past the window, their chins tucked into their turned-up collars; no one gave a glance into the corner of the little flower-shop, at the two who stood there saying their last farewells.






April 30, 1846

My dear Mamma,

A thousand thanks for your letter, in which you tell me of Armgard von Schilling’s betrothal to Herr von Maiboom of Pöppenrade. Armgard herself sent me an invitation (very fine, with a gilt edge), and also a letter in which she expresses herself as enchanted with her bridegroom. He sounds like a very handsome and refined man. How happy she must be! Everybody is getting married. I have had a card from Munich too, from Eva Ewers. I hear she’s getting a director of a brewery.

Now I must ask you something, dearest Mamma: Why do I hear nothing of a visit from the Buddenbrooks? Are you waiting for an official invitation from Grünlich? If so, it isn’t necessary; and besides, when I remind him to ask you, he says, “Yes, yes, child, your Father has something else to do.” Or do you think you would be disturbing me? Oh, dear me, no; quite the contrary! Perhaps you think you would make me homesick again? But don’t you know I am a reasonable woman, already middle-aged and experienced?

I’ve just been to coffee at Madame Käselau’s, a neighbour of mine. They are pleasant people, and our left-hand neighbours, the Gussmanns (but there is a good deal of space between the houses) are sociable people too. We have two friends who are at the house a good deal, both of whom live out here: Doctor Klaasen, of whom I must tell you more later, and Kesselmeyer, the banker, Grünlich’s intimate friend. You don’t know what a funny old man he is. He has a stubbly white beard and thin black and white hair on his head, that looks like down and waves in the breeze. He makes funny motions with his head, like a bird, and talks all the time, so I call him the magpie, but Grünlich has forbidden[174] me to say that, because magpies steal, and Herr Kesselmeyer is an honourable man. He stoops when he walks, and rows along with his arms. His fuzz only reaches half-way down his head in the back, and from there on his neck is all red and seamy. There is something so awfully sprightly about him! Sometimes he pats me on the cheek and says, “You good little wifey! what a blessing for Grünlich that he has got you.” Then he takes out his eye-glasses (he always wears three of them, on long cords, that are forever getting tangled up in his white waistcoat) and sticks them on his nose, which he wrinkles up to make them stop on, and looks at me with his mouth open, until I have to laugh, right in his face. But he takes no offence at that.

Grünlich is very busy; he drives into town in the morning in our little yellow wagon and often does not come back till late. Sometimes he sits down with me and reads the paper.

When we go into society—for example, to Kesselmeyer’s, or to Consul Goudstikker on the Alster Dam, or Senator Bock in City Hall Street—we have to take a hired coach. I have begged Grünlich again and again to get a coupé, for it is really a necessity out here. He has half promised, but, strange to say, he does not like to go into society with me and is evidently displeased when I visit people in the town. Do you suppose he is jealous?

Our villa, which I’ve already described to you in detail, dear Mamma, is really very pretty, and is much prettier by reason of the new furnishings. You could not find a flaw in the upstairs sitting-room—all in brown silk. The dining-room next is prettily wainscoted. The chairs cost twenty-five marks apiece. I sit in the “pensée-room,” which we use as a sitting-room. There is also a little room for smoking and playing cards. The salon, which takes up the whole other half of the parterre, has new yellow blinds now and looks very well. Above are the bed, bath, and dressing-rooms and the servants’ quarters. We have a little groom for the yellow wagon. I am fairly well satisfied with the two maidservants. I am not sure they are quite honest, but thank God I don’t have to look after every kreuzer. In short, everything is really worthy of the family and the firm.

[175]And now, dear Mamma, comes the most important part of my letter, which I have kept till the last. A while ago I was feeling rather queer—not exactly ill and yet not quite well. I told Dr. Klaasen about it when I had the chance. He is a little bit of a man with a big head and a still bigger hat. He carries a cane with a flat round handle made of a piece of bone, and walks with it pressed against his whiskers, which are almost light-green from being dyed so many years. Well, you should have seen him! he did not answer my questions at all, but jerked his eye-glasses, twinkled his little eyes, wrinkled his nose at me—it looks like a potato—snickered, giggled, and stared so impertinently that I did not know what to do. Then he examined me, and said everything was going on well, only I must drink mineral water, because I am perhaps a little anæmic. Oh, Mamma, do tell Papa about it, so he can put it in the family book. I will write you again as soon as possible, you may be sure.

Give my love to Papa, Christian, Clara, Clothilde and Ida Jungmann. I wrote to Thomas just lately.

Your dutiful daughter,

August 2, 1846

My dear Thomas,

I have read with pleasure the news of your meeting with Christian in Amsterdam. It must have been a happy few days for both of you. I have no word as yet of your brother’s further journey to England via Ostende, but I hope that with God’s mercy it has been safely accomplished. It may not be too late, since Christian has decided to give up a professional career, for him to learn much that is valuable from his chief, Mr. Richardson; may he prosper and find blessing in the mercantile line! Mr. Richardson, Threadneedle Street, is, as you know, a close business friend of our house; I consider myself lucky to have placed both my sons with such friendly-disposed firms. You are now experiencing the good result of such a policy; and I feel profound satisfaction that Herr van der Kellen has already raised your salary in the quarter[176] of a year you have been with him, and that he will continue to give you advancement. I am convinced that you have shown and will continue to show yourself, by your industry and good behaviour, worthy of these favours.

I regret to hear that your health is not so good as it should be. What you write me of nervousness reminds me of my own youth, when I was working in Antwerp and had to go to Ems to take a cure. If anything of the sort seems best for you, my son, I am ready to encourage you with advice and assistance, although I am avoiding such expense for the rest of us in these times of political unrest.

However, your Mother and I took a trip to Hamburg in the middle of June to visit your sister Tony. Her husband had not invited us, but he received us with the greatest cordiality and devoted himself to us so entirely during the two days of our visit, that he neglected his business and hardly left me time for a visit to Duchamps in the town. Antonie is in her fifth month, and her physician assures her that everything is going on in a normal and satisfactory way.

I have still to mention a letter from Herr van der Kellen, from which I was pleased to learn that you are a favoured guest in his family circle. You are now, my son, at an age to begin to harvest the fruits of the upbringing your parents gave you. It may be helpful to you if I tell you that at your age, both in Antwerp and Bergen, I formed a habit of making myself useful and agreeable to my principals; and this was of the greatest service to me. Aside from the honour of association with the family of the head of the firm, one acquires an advocate in the person of the principal’s wife; and she may prove invaluable in the undesirable contingency of an oversight at the office or the dissatisfaction of your chief for some slight cause or other.

As regards your business plans for the future, my son, I rejoice in the lively interest they indicate, without being able entirely to agree with them. You start with the idea that the market for our native products—for instance, grain, rapeseed, hides and skins, wool, oil, oil-cake, bones, etc.—is our chief concern; and you think it would be of advantage for[177] you to turn yourself to the commission branch of the business. I once occupied myself with these ideas, at a time when the competition was small (it has since distinctly increased), and I made some experiments in them. My journey to England had for its chief purpose to look out connections there for my undertakings. To this end I went as far as Scotland, and made many valuable acquaintances; but I soon recognized the precarious nature of an export trade hither, and decided to discourage further expansion in that direction. Thus I kept in mind the warning of our forefather, the founder of the firm, which he bequeathed to us, his descendants: “My son, attend with zeal to thy business by day, but do none that hinders thee from thy sleep at night.”

This principle I intend to keep sacred, now as in the past, though one is sometimes forced to entertain a doubt, on contemplating the operations of people who seem to get on better without it. I am thinking of Strunk and Hagenström, who have made such notable progress while our own business seems almost at a stand-still. You know that the house has not enlarged its business since the set-back consequent upon the death of your grandfather; and I pray to God that I shall be able to turn over the business to you in its present state. I have an experienced and cautious adviser in our head clerk Marcus. If only your Mother’s family would hang on to their groschen a little better! The inheritance is a matter of real importance for us.

I am unusually full of business and civic work. I have been made alderman of the Board of the Bergen Line; also city deputy for the Finance Department, the Chamber of Commerce, the Auditing Commission, and the Almshouse of St. Anne, one after the other.

Your Mother, Clara and Clothilde send greetings. Also several gentlemen—Senator Möllendorpf, Doctor Överdieck, Consul Kistenmaker, Gosch the broker, C. F. Köppen, and Herr Marcus in the office, have asked to be remembered. God’s blessing on you, my dear son. Work, pray, and save.

With affectionate regards,
Your Father.

[178]October 8, 1846

Dear and honoured Parents,

The undersigned is overjoyed to be able to advise you of the happy accouchement, half an hour ago, of your daughter, my beloved wife Antonie. It is, by God’s will, a daughter; I can find no words to express my joyful emotion. The health of the dear patient, as well as of the infant, is unexceptionable. Dr. Klaasen is entirely satisfied with the way things have gone; and Frau Grossgeorgis, the midwife, says it was simply nothing at all. Excitement obliges me to lay down my pen. I commend myself to my worthy parents with the most respectful affection.

B. Grünlich.

If it had been a boy, I had a very pretty name. As it is, I wanted to name her Meta, but Grünlich is for Erica.



What is the matter, Betsy?” said the Consul, as he came to the table and lifted up the plate with which his soup was covered. “Aren’t you well? You don’t look just right to me.”

The round table in the great dining-room was grown very small. Around it there gathered in these days, besides the parents, only little Clara, now ten years old, Mamsell Jungmann, and Clothilde, as humble, lean, and hungry as ever. The Consul looked about him: every face was long and gloomy. What had happened? He himself was troubled and anxious; for the Bourse was unsteady, owing to this complicated Schleswig-Holstein affair. And still another source of disquiet was in the air; when Anton had gone to fetch in the meat course, the Consul heard what had happened. Trina, the cook, who had never before been anything but loyal and dutiful to her mistress, had suddenly shown clear signs of revolt. To the Frau Consul’s great vexation, she had been maintaining relations—a sort of spiritual affinity, it seemed—with the butcher’s apprentice; and that man of blood must have influenced her political views in a most regrettable way. The Consul’s wife had addressed some reproach to her in the matter of an unsuccessful sauce, and she had put her naked arms akimbo and delivered herself as follows: “You jus’ wait, Frau Consul; ’tain’ goin’ t’ be much longer—there’ll come another order inter the world. ’N’ then I’ll be sittin’ on the sofa in a silk gownd, an’ you’ll be servin’ me.” Naturally, she received summary notice.

The Consul shook his head. He himself had had similar troubles. The old porters and labourers were of course respectful[180] enough, and had no notions in their heads; but several here and there among the young ones had shown by their bearing that the new spirit of revolt had entered into them. In the spring there had been a street riot, although a constitution corresponding to the demands of the new time had already been drafted; which, a little later, despite the opposition of Lebrecht Kröger and other stubborn old gentlemen, became law by a decree of the Senate. The citizens met together and representatives of the people were elected. But there was no rest. The world was upside down. Every one wanted to revise the constitution and the franchise, and the citizens grumbled. “Voting by estates,” said some—Consul Johann Buddenbrook among them. “Universal franchise,” said the others; Heinrich Hagenström was one of these. Still others cried “Universal voting by estates”—and dear knew what they meant by that! All sorts of ideas were in the air; for instance, the abolition of disabilities and the general extension of the rights of citizenship—even to non-Christians! No wonder Buddenbrook’s Trina had imbibed such ideas about sofas and silk gowns! Oh, there was worse to come! Things threatened to take a fearful turn.

It was an early October day of the year 1848. The sky was blue, with a few light floating clouds in it, silvered by the rays of the sun, the strength of which was indeed not so great but that the stove was already going, behind the polished screen in the landscape-room. Little Clara, whose hair had grown darker and whose eyes had a rather severe expression, sat with some embroidery before the sewing-table, while Clothilde, busy likewise with her needlework, had the sofa-place near the Frau Consul. Although Clothilde Buddenbrook was not much older than her married cousin—that is to say, only twenty-one years—her long face already showed pronounced lines; and with her smooth hair, which had never been blond, but always a dull greyish colour, she presented an ideal portrait of a typical old maid. But she was content;[181] she did nothing to alter her condition. Perhaps she thought it best to grow old early and thus to make a quick end of all doubts and hopes. As she did not own a single sou, she knew that she would find nobody in all the wide world to marry her, and she looked with humility into her future, which would surely consist of consuming a tiny income in some tiny room which her influential uncle would procure for her out of the funds of some charitable establishment for maidens of good family.

The Consul’s wife was busy reading two letters. Tony related the good progress of the little Erica, and Christian wrote eagerly of his life and doings in London. He did not give any details of his industry with Mr. Richardson of Threadneedle Street. The Frau Consul, who was approaching the middle forties, complained bitterly of the tendency of blond women to grow old too soon. The delicate tint which corresponded to her reddish hair had grown dulled despite all cosmetics; and the hair itself began relentlessly to grey, or would have done so but for a Parisian tincture of which the Frau Consul had the receipt. She was determined never to grow white. When the dye would no longer perform its office, she would wear a blond wig. On top of her still artistic coiffure was a silk scarf bordered with white lace, the beginning, the first adumbration of a cap. Her silk frock was wide and flowing, its bell-shaped sleeves lined with the softest mull. A pair of gold circlets tinkled as usual on her wrist.

It was three o’clock in the afternoon. Suddenly there was a noise of running and shouting: a sort of insolent hooting and cat-calling, the stamping of feet on the pavement, a hubbub that grew louder and came nearer.

“What is that noise, Mamma?” said Clara, looking out of the window and into the gossip’s glass. “Look at the people! What is the matter with them? What are they so pleased about?”

[182]“My God!” shouted the Frau Consul, throwing down her letters and springing to the window. “Is it—? My God, it is the Revolution! It is the people!”

The truth was that the town had been the whole day in a state of unrest. In the morning the windows of Benthien the draper’s shop in Broad Street had been broken by stones—although God knew what the owner had to do with politics!

“Anton,” the Consul’s wife called with a trembling voice into the dining-room, where the servants were bustling about with the silver. “Anton! Go below! Shut the outside doors. Make everything fast. It is a mob.”

“Oh, Frau Consul,” said Anton. “Is it safe for me to do that? I am a servant. If they see my livery—”

“What wicked people,” Clothilde drawled without putting down her work. Just then the Consul crossed the entrance hall and came in through the glass door. He carried his coat over his arm and his hat in his hand.

“You are going out, Jean?” asked the Frau Consul in great excitement and trepidation.

“Yes, my dear, I must go to the meeting.”

“But the mob, Jean, the Revolution—”

“Oh, dear me, Betsy, it isn’t so serious as that! We are in God’s hand. They have gone past the house already. I’ll go down the back way.”

“Jean, if you love me—do you want to expose yourself to this danger? Will you leave us here unprotected? I am afraid, I tell you—I am afraid.”

“My dear, I beg of you, don’t work yourself up like this. They will only make a bit of a row in front of the Town Hall or in the market. It may cost the government a few window-panes—but that’s all.”

“Where are you going, Jean?”

“To the Assembly. I am late already. I was detained by business. It would be a shame not to be there to-day. Do you think your Father is stepping away, old as he is?”

[183]“Then go, in God’s name, Jean. But be careful, I beg of you. And keep an eye on my Father. If anything hit him—”

“Certainly, my dear.”

“When will you be back?” the Frau Consul called after him.

“Well, about half-past four or five o’clock. Depends. There is a good deal of importance on the agenda, so I can’t exactly tell.”

“Oh, I’m frightened, I’m frightened,” repeated the Frau Consul, walking up and down restlessly.



Consul Buddenbrook crossed his spacious ground floor in haste. Coming out into Bakers’ Alley, he heard steps behind him and saw Gosch the broker, a picturesque figure in his long cloak and Jesuit hat, also climbing the narrow street to the meeting. He lifted his hat with one thin long hand, and with the other made a deferential gesture, as he said, “Well, Herr Consul—how are you?” His voice sounded sinister.

This broker, Siegismund Gosch, a bachelor of some forty years, was, despite his demeanour, the best and most honest soul in the world; but he was a wit and an oddity. His smooth-shaven face was distinguished by a Roman nose, a protruding pointed chin, sharp features, and a wide mouth drooping at the corners, whose narrow lips he was in the habit of pressing together in the most taciturn and forbidding manner. His grey hair fell thick and sombre over his brow, and he actually regretted not being humpbacked. It was his whim to assume the rôle of a wild, witty, and reckless intrigant—a cross between Mephistopheles and Napoleon, something very malevolent and yet fascinating too; and he was not entirely unsuccessful in his pose. He was a strange yet attractive figure among the citizens of the old city; still, he belonged among them, for he carried on a small brokerage business in the most modest, respectable sort of way. In his narrow, dark little office, however, he had a large book-case filled with poetry in every language, and there was a story that he had been engaged since his twentieth year on a translation of Lope de Vega’s collected dramas. Once he had played the rôle of Domingo in an amateur performance of Schiller’s “Don Carlos”—this was the culmination of his career. A common word never crossed[185] his lips; and the most ordinary business expressions he would hiss between his clenched teeth, as if he were saying “Curses on you, villain,” instead of some commonplace about stocks and commissions. He was, in many ways, the heir and successor to Jean Jacques Hoffstede of blessed memory, except that his character had certain elements of the sombre and pathetic, with none of the playful liveliness of that old 18th century friend of Johann Buddenbrook. One day he lost at a single blow, on the Bourse, six and a half thaler on two or three papers which he had bought as a speculation. This was enough. He sank upon a bench; he struck an attitude which looked as though he had lost the Battle of Waterloo; he struck his clenched fist against his forehead and repeated several times, with a blasphemous roll of the eyes: “Ha, accursed, accursed!” He must have been, at bottom, cruelly bored by the small, safe business he did and the petty transfer of this or that bit of property; for this loss, this tragic blow with which Heaven had stricken him down—him, the schemer Gosch—delighted his inmost soul. He fed on it for weeks. Some one would say, “So you’ve had a loss, Herr Gosch, I’m sorry to hear.” To which he would answer: “Oh, my good friend, ‘uomo non educato dal dolore riman sempre bambino’!” Probably nobody understood that. Was it, possibly, Lope da Vega? Anyhow, there was no doubt that this Siegismund Gosch was a remarkable and learned man.

“What times we live in,” he said, limping up the street with the Consul, supported by his stick. “Times of storm and unrest.”

“You are right,” replied the Consul. “The times are unquiet. This morning’s sitting will be exciting. The principle of the estates—”

“Well, now,” Herr Gosch went on, “I have been about all day in the streets, and I have been looking at the mob. There are some fine fellows in it, their eyes flaming with excitement and hatred—”

[186]Johann Buddenbrook began to laugh. “You like that, don’t, you? But you have the right end of it after all, let me tell you. It is all childishness! What do these men want? A lot of uneducated rowdies who see a chance for a bit of a scrimmage.”

“Of course. Though I can’t deny—I was in the crowd when Berkemeyer, the journeyman butcher, smashed Herr Benthien’s window. He was like a panther.” Herr Gosch spoke the last word with his teeth particularly close together, and went on: “Oh, the thing has its fine side, that’s certain. It is a change, at least, you know; something that doesn’t happen every day. Storm, stress, violence—the tempest! Oh, the people are ignorant, I know—still, my heart, this heart of mine—it beats with theirs!” They were already before the simple yellow-painted house on the ground floor of which the sittings of the Assembly took place.

The room belonged to the beer-hall and dance-establishment of a widow named Suerkringel; but on certain days it was at the service of the gentlemen burgesses. The entrance was through a narrow whitewashed corridor opening into the restaurant on the right side, where it smelled of beer and cooking, and thence through a handleless, lockless green door so small and narrow that no one could have supposed such a large room lay behind it. The room was empty, cold, and barnlike, with a whitewashed roof in which the beams showed, and whitewashed walls. The three rather high windows had green-painted bars, but no curtains. Opposite them were the benches, rising in rows like an amphitheatre, with a table at the bottom for the chairman, the recording clerk, and the Committee of the Senate. It was covered with a green cloth and had a clock, documents, and writing materials on it. On the wall opposite the door were several tall hat-racks with hats and coats.

The sound of voices met the Consul and his companion as they entered through the narrow door. They were the last to come. The room was filled with burgesses, hands in their[187] trousers pockets, on their hips, or in the air, as they stood together in groups and discussed. Of the hundred and thirty members of the body at least a hundred were present. A number of delegates from the country districts had been obliged by circumstances to stop at home.

Near the entrance stood a group composed of two or three small business men, a high-school teacher, the orphan asylum “father,” Herr Mindermann, and Herr Wenzel, the popular barber. Herr Wenzel, a powerful little man with a black moustache, an intelligent face, and red hands, had shaved the Consul that very morning; here, however, he stood on an equality with him. He shaved only in the best circles; he shaved almost exclusively the Möllendorpfs, Langhals, Buddenbrooks, and Överdiecks, and he owed his vote in the Assembly to his omniscience in city affairs, his sociability and ease, and his remarkable power of decision at a division.

“Have you heard the latest, Herr Consul?” he asked with round-eyed eagerness as his patron came up.

“What is there to hear, my dear Wenzel?”

“Nobody knew it this morning. Well, permit me to tell you, Herr Consul, the latest is that the crowd are not going to collect before the Town Hall, or in the market—they are coming here to threaten the burgesses. Editor Rübsam has stirred them up.”

“Is it possible?” said the Consul. He pressed through the various groups to the middle of the room, where he saw his father-in-law with Senators Dr. Langhals and James Möllendorpf. “Is it true, gentlemen?” he asked, shaking hands with them.

But there was no need to answer. The whole assemblage was full of it: the peace-breakers were coming; they could be heard already in the distance.

Canaille!” said Lebrecht Kröger with cold scorn. He had driven hither in his carriage. On an ordinary day the tall, distinguished figure of the once famous cavalier showed the burden of his eighty years; but to-day he stood quite erect[188] with his eyes half-closed, the corners of his mouth contemptuously drawn down, and the points of his white moustaches sticking straight up. Two rows of jewelled buttons sparkled on his black velvet waistcoat.

Not far from this group was Heinrich Hagenström, a square-built, fleshy man with a reddish beard sprinkled with grey, a heavy watch-chain across his blue-checked waistcoat, and his coat open over it. He was standing with his partner Herr Strunck, and did not greet the Consul.

Herr Benthien, the draper, a prosperous looking man, had a large group of gentlemen around him, to whom he was circumstantially describing what had happened to his show-window. “A brick, gentlemen, a brick, or at least half a brick—crack! through it went and landed on a roll of green rep. The rascally mob! Oh, the Government will have to take it up! It’s their affair!”

And in every corner of the room unceasingly resounded the voice of Herr Stuht from Bell-Founders’ Street. He had on a black coat over his woollen shirt; and he so deeply sympathized with the narrative of Herr Benthien that he never stopped saying, in outraged accents, “Infamous, un-heard-of!”

Johann Buddenbrook found and greeted his old friend G. F. Köppen, and then Köppen’s rival, Consul Kistenmaker. He moved about in the crowd, pressed Dr. Grabow’s hand, and exchanged a few words with Herr Gieseke the Fire Commissioner, Contractor Voigt, Dr. Langhals, the Chairman, brother of the Senator, and several merchants, lawyers, and teachers.

The sitting was not yet opened, but debate was already lively. Everybody was cursing that pestilential scribbler, Editor Rübsam; everybody knew he had stirred up the crowd—and what for? The business in hand was to decide whether they were to go on with the method of selecting representatives by estates, or whether there was to be universal and equal franchise. The Senate had already proposed the latter. But what did the people want? They wanted these gentlemen by the throats—no more and no less. It was the[189] worst hole they had ever found themselves in, devil take it! The Senatorial Committee was surrounded, its members’ opinion eagerly sought. They approached Consul Buddenbrook, as one who should know the attitude of Burgomaster Överdieck; for since Senator Doctor Överdieck, Consul Justus Kröger’s brother-in-law, had been made President last year, the Buddenbrooks were related to the Burgomaster; which had distinctly enhanced the regard in which they were held.

All of a sudden the tumult began outside. Revolution had arrived under the windows of the Sitting. The excited exchange of opinions inside ceased simultaneously. Every man, dumb with the shock, folded his hands upon his stomach and looked at his fellows or at the windows, where fists were being shaken in the air and the crowd was giving vent to deafening and frantic yelling. But then, most astonishingly, as though the offenders themselves had suddenly grown aghast at their own behaviour, it became just as still outside as in the hall; and in that deep hush, one word from the neighbourhood of the lowest benches, where Lebrecht Kröger was sitting, was distinctly audible. It rang through the hall, cold, emphatic, and deliberate—the word “Canaille!” And, like an echo, came the word “Infamous,” in a fat, outraged voice from the other corner of the hall. Then the hurried, trembling, whispering utterance of the draper Benthien: “Gentlemen, gentlemen! Listen! I know the house. There is a trap-door on to the roof from the attic. I used to shoot cats through it when I was a lad. We can climb on to the next roof and get down safely.”

“Cowardice,” hissed Gosch the broker between his teeth. He leaned against the table with his arms folded and head bent, directing a blood-curdling glance through the window.

“Cowardice, do you say? How cowardice? In God’s name, sir, aren’t they throwing bricks? I’ve had enough of that.”

The noise outside had begun again, but without reaching its former stormy height. It sounded quieter and more continuous,[190] a prolonged, patient, almost comfortable hum, rising and falling; now and then one heard whistles, and sometimes single words like “principle” and “rights of citizens.” The assembly listened respectfully.

After a while the chairman, Herr Dr. Langhals, spoke in a subdued tone: “Gentlemen, I think we could come to some agreement if we opened the meeting.”

But this humble suggestion did not meet with the slightest support from anybody.

“No good in that,” somebody said, with a simple decisiveness that permitted no appeal. It was a peasant sort of man, named Pfahl, from the Ritzerau district, deputy for the village of Little Schretstaken. Nobody remembered ever to have heard his voice raised before in a meeting, but its very simplicity made it weighty at the present crisis. Unafraid and with sure political insight, Herr Pfahl had voiced the feeling of the entire assemblage.

“God keep us,” Herr Benthien said despondently. “If we sit on the benches we can be seen from outside. They’re throwing stones—I’ve had enough of that.”

“And the cursed door is so narrow,” burst out Köppen the wine-merchant, in despair. “If we start to go out, we’ll probably get crushed.”

“Infamous, un-heard-of,” Herr Stuht intoned.

“Gentlemen,” began the Chairman urgently once more. “I have to put before the Burgomaster in the next three days a draft of to-day’s protocol, and the town expects its publication through the press. I should at least like to get a vote on that subject, if the sitting would come to order—”

But with the exception of a few citizens who supported the chairman, nobody seemed ready to come to the consideration of the agenda. A vote would have been useless anyhow—they must not irritate the people. Nobody knew what they wanted, so it was no good to offend them by a vote, in whatever direction. They must wait and control themselves. The clock of St. Mary’s struck half-past four.

[191]They confirmed themselves and each other in this resolve of patient waiting. They began to get used to the noise that rose and fell outside, to feel quieter; to make themselves more comfortable, to sit down on the lower benches and chairs. The natural instinct toward industry, common to all these good burghers, began to assert itself: they ventured to bargain a little, to pick up a little business here and there. The brokers sat down by the wholesale dealers. These beleaguered gentlemen talked together like people shut in by a sudden storm, who speak of other things, and now and then pause to listen with respectful faces to the thunder. It was five o’clock—half-past five. It was getting dark. Now and then somebody sighed and said that the wife would be waiting with the coffee—and then Herr Benthien would venture to mention the trap-door. But most of them were like Herr Stuht, who said fatalistically, shaking his head, “I’m too fat.”

Mindful of his wife’s request Johann Buddenbrook had kept an eye on his father-in-law. He said to him: “This little adventure isn’t disturbing you, is it, Father?”

Lebrecht Kröger’s forehead showed two swollen blue veins under his white wig. He looked ill. One aristocratic old hand played with the opalescent buttons on his waistcoat; the other, with its great diamond ring, trembled on his knee.

“Fiddlesticks, Buddenbrook,” he said; but his voice showed extreme fatigue. “I am sick of it, that’s all.” Then he betrayed himself by suddenly hissing out: “Parbleu, Jean, this infamous rabble ought to be taught some respect with a little powder and shot. Canaille! Scum!”

The Consul hummed assent. “Yes, yes, you are right; it is a pretty undignified affair. But what can we do? We must keep our tempers. It’s getting late. They’ll go away after a bit.”

“Where is my carriage? I desire my carriage,” said the old man in a tone of command, suddenly quite beside himself. His anger exploded; he trembled all over. “I ordered it for five o’clock: where is it? This sitting will never be held.[192] Why should I stop any longer? I don’t care about being made a fool of. My carriage! What are they doing to my coachman? Go see after it, Buddenbrook.”

“My dear Father-in-Law, for heaven’s sake be calm. You are getting excited. It will be bad for you. Of course I will go and see after the carriage. I think myself we have had enough of this. I will speak to the people and tell them to go home.”

Close by the little green door he was accosted by Siegismund Gosch, who grasped his arm with a bony hand and asked in a gruesome whisper: “Whither away, Herr Consul?”

The broker’s face was furrowed with a thousand lines. His pointed chin rose almost up to his nose, his face expressed the most desperate resolution; his grey hair streamed distractedly over brow and temples; his head was so drawn in between his shoulders that he really almost achieved his ambition of looking like a dwarf—and he rapped out: “You behold me resolved to speak to the people.”

The Consul said: “No, let me do it, Gosch. I really know more of them than you do.”

“Be it so,” answered the broker tonelessly. “You are a bigger man than I.” And, lifting his voice, he went on: “But I will accompany you, I will stand at your side, Consul Buddenbrook. Let the wrath of the outraged people tear me in pieces—”

“What a day, what a night!” he said as they went out. There is no doubt he had never felt so happy before in his life. “Ha, Herr Consul! Here are the people.”

They had gone down the corridor and outside the outer door, where they stood at the top of three little steps that went down to the pavement. The street was indeed a strange sight. It was as still as the grave. At the open and lighted windows of the houses round, stood the curious, looking down upon the black mass of the insurgents before the Burgesses’ House. The crowd was not much bigger than that inside the[193] hall. It consisted of young labourers from the harbour and granaries, servants, school pupils, sailors from the merchant ships, and other people from the little streets, alleys, courts, and rabbit-hutches round about. There were even two or three women—who had probably promised themselves the same millennium as the Buddenbrooks’ cook. A few of the insurrectionists, weary of standing, had sat down with their feet in the gutter and were eating sandwiches.

It was nearly six o’clock. Though twilight was well advanced, the oil lamps hung unlighted above the street. This fact, this open and unheard-of interruption of the regular order, was the first thing that really made Consul Buddenbrook’s temper rise, and was responsible for his beginning to speak in a rather short and angry tone and the broadest of pronunciations:

“Now then, all of you, what is the meaning of this foolishness?”

The picnickers sprang up from the sidewalk. Those in the back ranks, beyond the foot-pavement, stood on their tip-toes. Some navvies, in the service of the Consul, took off their caps. They stood at attention, nudged each other, and muttered in low tones, “’Tis Consul Buddenbrook. He be goin’ to talk. Hold yer jaw, there, Chrishan; he can jaw like the devil himself! Ther’s Broker Gosch—look! What a monkey he is! Isn’t he gettin’ o’erwrought!”

“Carl Smolt!” began the Consul again, picking out and fastening his small, deep-set eyes upon a bow-legged young labourer of about two-and-twenty, with his cap in his hand and his mouth full of bread, standing in front of the steps. “Here, speak up, Carl Smolt! Now’s the time! I’ve been here the whole afternoon—”

“Yes, Herr Consul,” brought out Carl Smolt, chewing violently. “The thing is—ower—it’s a soart o’—we’re makkin’ a rivolution.”

“What kind of nonsense is that, then?”

[194]“Lord, Herr Consul, ye knaw what that is. We’re not satisfied wi’ things as they be. We demand another order o’ things; tain’t any more’n that—that’s what it is.”

“Now, listen, Carl Smolt and the rest of you. Whoever’s got any sense will go home and not bother himself over any revolutions, disturbing the regular order of things—”

“The sacred order,” interrupted Herr Gosch dramatically.

“The regular order, I say,” finished the Consul. “Why, even the lamps aren’t lighted. That’s going too far with the revolution.”

Carl Smolt had swallowed his mouthful by now, and, with the people at his back, stood his ground and made some objections.

“Well, Herr Consul, ye may say that. But we’re only agin the principle of the voate—”

“God in heaven, you ninny,” shouted the Consul, forgetting, in his excitement, to speak dialect. “You’re talking the sheerest nonsense—”

“Lord, Herr Consul,” said Carl Smolt, somewhat abashed, “thet’s oall as it is. Rivolution it has to be. Ther’s rivolution iverywheer, in Berlin, in Paris—”

“But, Smolt, what do you want? Just tell me that, if you can.”

“Lord, Herr Consul, I say we wants a republic; that’s wat I be sayin’.”

“But, you fool, you’ve got one already.”

“Well, Herr Consul, then we wants another.”

Some of the bystanders, who understood the matter better, began to laugh rudely and heartily; and although few even heard Carl’s answer, the laughter spread until the whole crowd of republicans stood shaking good-naturedly. Some of the gentlemen from inside the hall appeared at the window with curious faces and beer-mugs in their hands. The only person disappointed and pained by this turn of affairs was Siegismund Gosch.

[195]“Now, people,” shouted Consul Buddenbrook finally, “I think the best thing for you all to do is to go home.”

Carl Smolt, quite crestfallen over the result he had brought about, answered “That’s right, Herr Consul. Then things’ll be quieted down. And Herr Consul doesn’t take it ill of me, do’e, now? Good-bye, Herr Consul!”

The crowd began to disperse, in the best of humours.

“Wait a minute, Smolt,” shouted the Consul. “Have you seen the Kröger carriage? the calèche from outside the Castle Gate?”

“Yes, sir, Herr Consul. He’s here; he be driven up in some court somewhere.”

“Then run quick and say he’s to come at once; his master wants to go home.”

“Servant, Herr Consul,” and, throwing his cap on his head and pulling the leather visor well down over his brows, Carl Smolt ran with great swinging strides down the street.



When the Consul and Siegismund Gosch returned to the hall, the scene was a more comfortable one than it had been a quarter of an hour before. It was lighted by two large oil lamps standing on the Committee table, in whose yellow light the gentlemen sat or stood together, pouring out beer into shining tankards, touching glasses and talking loudly, in the gayest of humours. Frau Suerkringel, the widow, had consoled them. She had loyally taken on her enforced guests and given them good advice, recommending that they fortify themselves for the siege, which might endure some while yet. And thus she had profitably employed the time by selling a considerable quantity of her light yet exhilarating beer. As the others entered, the house-boy, in shirt-sleeves and good-natured grin, was just bringing in a fresh supply of bottles. While it was certainly late, too late to consider further the revision of the Constitution, nobody seemed inclined to interrupt the meeting and go home. It was too late for coffee, in any case.

After the Consul had received congratulatory handshakes on his success, he went up to his father-in-law. Lebrecht Kröger was the only man in the room whose mood had not improved. He sat in his place, cold, remote, and lofty, and answered the information that the carriage would be around at once by saying scornfully, in a voice that trembled more with bitterness than age: “Then the mob permits me to go home?”

With stiff movements that no longer had in them anything of the charm that had been his, he had his fur mantle put about his shoulders, and laid his arm, with a careless “Merci,” on that of the Consul, who offered to accompany him home.[197] The majestic coach, with two large lanterns on the box, stood in the street, where, to the Consul’s great satisfaction, the lamps were now being lighted. They both got in. Silent and stiffly erect, with his eyes half-closed, Lebrecht Kröger sat with the rug over his knees, the Consul at his right hand, while the carriage rolled through the streets. Beneath the points of the old man’s white moustaches two lines ran down perpendicularly from the corners of his mouth to his chin. He was gnawed by chagrin at the insult that had been offered him, and he stared, weary and chilled, at the cushions opposite.

There was more gayety in the streets than on a Sunday evening. Obviously a holiday temper reigned. The people, delighted at the successful outcome of the revolution, were out in the gayest mood. There was singing. Here and there youngsters shouted “Hurrah!” as the carriage drove past, and threw their caps into the air.

“I really think, Father, you let the matter affect you too much,” the Consul said. “When one thinks of it, what a tom-fool business the whole thing was—simply a farce.” In order to get some reply from the old man he went on to talk about the revolution in lively tones. “When the propertyless class begin to realize how little they serve their own ends—why, good heavens, it’s the same everywhere. I was talking this afternoon with Gosch the broker, a wonderful man, looking at everything with the eyes of a poet and writer. You see, Father, this revolution was made at the æsthetic tea-tables of Berlin. Then the people take their own skin to market—for, of course, they will be the ones to pay for it!”

“It would be a good thing if you would open the window on your side,” said Herr Kröger.

Johann Buddenbrook gave him a quick glance and let the glass down hastily.

“Aren’t you feeling well, dear Father?” he asked anxiously.

“Not at all,” answered Lebrecht Kröger severely.

“You need food and rest,” the Consul said; and in order to[198] be doing something he drew up the fur rug closer about his father-in-law’s knees.

Suddenly—the carriage was rolling through Castle Street—a wretched thing happened. Fifteen paces from the Castle Gate, in the half-dark, they passed a group of noisy and happy street urchins, and a stone flew through the open window. It was a harmless little stone, the size of a hen’s egg, flung by the hand of some Chris Snut or Heine Voss to celebrate the revolution; certainly not with any bad intent, and probably not directed toward the carriage at all. It came noiselessly through the window and struck Lebrecht Kröger in his chest, which was covered with the thick fur rug. Then it rolled down over the cover and fell upon the floor of the coach.

“Clumsy fools!” said the Consul angrily. “Is everybody out of their senses this evening? It didn’t hurt you, did it?”

Old Kröger was silent—alarmingly silent. It was too dark in the carriage to see his expression. He sat straighter, higher, stiffer than ever, without touching the cushions. Then, from deep within him, slowly, coldly, dully, came the single word: “Canaille.”

For fear of angering him further, the Consul made no answer. The carriage clattered through the gate, and three minutes later was in the broad avenue before the gilt-tipped railings that bounded the Kröger domain. A drive bordered with chestnut trees went from the garden gate up to the terrace; and on either side of the gate a gilt-topped lantern was burning brightly. The Consul saw his father-in-law’s face by this light—it was yellow and wrinkled; the firm, contemptuous set of the mouth had given way: it had changed to the lax, silly, distorted expression of a very old man. The carriage stopped before the terrace.

“Help me out,” said Lebrecht Kröger; but the Consul was already out, had thrown back the rug, and offered his arm and shoulder as a support. He led the old man slowly for a[199] few paces across the gravel to the white stone steps that went up to the dining-room. At the foot of these, the old man bent at the knee-joints. His head fell so heavily on his breast that the lower jaw clashed against the upper. His eyes rolled—grew dim; Lebrecht Kröger, the gallant, the cavalier à-la-mode, had joined his fathers.



A year and two months later, on a misty, snowy morning in January of the year 1850, Herr and Madame Grünlich sat at breakfast with their little three-year-old daughter, in the brown wainscoted dining-room, on chairs that cost twenty-five marks apiece.

The panes of both windows were opaque with mist; behind them one had vague glimpses of bare trees and bushes. A red glow and a gentle, scented warmth came from the low, green-tiled stove standing in a corner. Through the open door next to it one could see the foliage-plants in the “pensée-room.” On the other wall, half-drawn green stuff portières gave a view of the brown satin salon and of a lofty glass door leading on to a little terrace beyond. The cracks in this door were carefully stopped with cotton-wool, and there was nothing to be seen through its panes but the whitish-grey mist beyond.

The snow-white cloth of woven damask on the round table had an embroidered green runner across it, laid with gold-bordered porcelain so translucent that it gleamed like mother-of-pearl. The tea-kettle was humming. There was a finely worked silver bread-basket in the shape of a curling leaf, with slices and rolls of fine bread; under one crystal bell were little balls of butter, under another different sorts of cheese, white, yellow, and green. There was even a bottle of wine standing before the master of the house; for Herr Grünlich had a full breakfast every morning.

His whiskers were freshly curled, and at this early hour his rosy face was rosier than ever. He sat with his back to the salon, already arrayed in a black coat and light trousers with[201] a pattern of large checks, eating a grilled chop, in the English manner. His wife thought this very elegant, but also very disgusting—she had never brought herself to take it instead of her usual breakfast of bread and butter and an egg.

Tony was in her dressing-gown. She adored dressing-gowns. Nothing seemed more elegant to her than a handsome negligée, and as she had not been allowed to indulge this passion in the parental house she was the more given to it as a wife. She had three of these dainty clinging garments, to the fashioning of which can go so much more taste and fantasy than to a ball-gown. To-day she wore her dark-red one. Its colour toned beautifully with the paper above the wainscoting, and its large-flowered stuff, of a beautiful soft texture, was embroidered all over with sprays of tiny glass beads of the same colour, while row after row of red velvet ribbons ran from neck to hem.

Her thick ash-blonde hair, with its dark-red velvet band, curled about her brows. She had now, as she was herself well aware, reached the highest point of her physical bloom; yet her pretty, pouting upper lip retained just the naïve, provocative expression of her childhood. The lids of her grey-blue eyes were reddened with cold water. Her hands, the white Buddenbrook hands, finely shaped if a little stumpy, their delicate wrists caressed by the velvet cuffs of her dressing-gown, handled her knife and fork and tea-cup with motions that were to-day, for some reason or other, rather jerky and abrupt. Her little daughter Erica sat near her in a high chair. She was a plump child with short blonde hair, in a funny, shapeless, knitted frock of pale-blue wool. She held a large cup in both tiny hands, entirely concealing her face, and drank her milk with little sighs of satisfaction.

Frau Grünlich rang, and Tinka, the housemaid, came from the entry to take the child from her high chair and carry her upstairs into the play-room. “You may take her walking outside for a half-hour, Tinka,” said Tony. “But not longer;[202] and put on her thick jacket. It is very damp and foggy.” She remained alone with her husband.

“You only make yourself seem absurd,” she said then, after a silence, obviously continuing an interrupted conversation. “What are your objections? Give me some reason. I can’t be always attending to the child.”

“You are not fond of children, Antonie.”

“Fond of children, indeed! I have no time. I am taken up with the housekeeping. I wake up with twenty things that must be done, and I go to bed with forty that have not been done.”

“There are two servants. A young woman like you—”

“Two servants. Good. Tinka has to wash up, to clean, to serve. The cook is busy all the time. You have chops early in the morning. Think it over, Grünlich. Sooner or later, Erica must have a bonne, a governess.”

“But to get a governess for her so soon is not suited to our means.”

“Our means! Goodness, you are absurd! Are we beggars? Are we forced to live within the smallest limits we can? I think I brought you in eighty thousand marks—”

“Oh, you and your eighty thousand marks—!”

“Yes, I know you like to make light of them. They were of no importance to you because you married me for love! Good. But do you still love me? You deliberately disregard my wishes. The child is not to have a governess. And I don’t even speak any more of the coupé, which we need quite as much as we need food and drink. And why do you insist on our living out here in the country, if it isn’t in accordance with our means to keep a carriage so that we can go into society respectably? Why do you never like it when I go in to town? You would always rather just have me bury myself out here, so I should never see a living soul. I think you are very ill-tempered.”

Herr Grünlich poured some wine into his glass, lifted up[203] one of the crystal bells, and began on the cheese. He made no reply.

“Don’t you love me any more?” repeated Tony. “Your silence is so insulting, it drives me to remind you of a certain day when you entered our landscape-room. You made a fine figure of yourself! But from the very first day after our marriage you have sat with me only in the evening, and that only to read the paper. Just at first you showed some little regard for my wishes. But that’s been over with for a long while now. You neglect me.”

“And you? You are ruining me.”

“I? I am ruining you?”

“Yes, you are ruining me with your indolence, your extravagance, and love of luxury.”

“Oh, pray don’t reproach me with my good upbringing! In my parents’ house I never had to lift a finger. Now I have hard work to get accustomed to the housekeeping; but I have at least a right to demand that you do not refuse me the ordinary assistance. Father is a rich man; he would never dream that I could lack for service.”

“Then wait for this third servant until we get hold of some of those riches.”

“Oh, you are wishing for my Father’s death. But I mean that we are well-to-do people in our own right. I did not come to you with empty hands.”

Herr Grünlich smiled an embarrassed and dejected smile, although he was in the act of chewing his breakfast. He made no other reply, and his silence bewildered Tony.

“Grünlich,” she said more quietly, “why do you smile and talk about our ‘means’? Am I mistaken? Has business been bad? Have you—?”

Just then somebody drummed on the corridor door, and Herr Kesselmeyer walked in.



Herr Kesselmeyer entered unannounced, as a friend of the house, without hat or coat. He paused, however, near the door. His looks corresponded exactly to the description Tony had given to her Mother. He was slightly thick-set as to figure, but neither fat nor lean. He wore a black, already somewhat shiny coat, short tight trousers of the same material, and a white waistcoat, over which went a long thin watch-chain and two or three eye-glass cords. His clipped white beard was in sharp contrast with his red face. It covered his cheeks and left his chin and lips free. His mouth was small and mobile, with two yellowish pointed teeth in the otherwise vacant gum of his lower jaw, and he was pressing these into his upper lip, as he stood absently by the door with his hands in his trousers pockets and the black and white down on his head waving slightly, although there was not the least perceptible draught.

Finally he drew his hands out of his pockets, bowed, released his lip, and with difficulty freed one of the eye-glass cords from the confusion on his waistcoat. He lifted his pince-nez and put it with a single gesture astride his nose. Then he made the most astonishing grimaces, looked at the husband and wife, and remarked: “Ah, ha!”

He used this expression with extraordinary frequency and a surprising variety of inflections. He might say it with his head thrown back, his nose wrinkled up, mouth wide open, hands swishing about in the air, with a long-drawn-out, nasal, metallic sound, like a Chinese gong; or he might, with still funnier effect, toss it out, gently, en passant; or with any one of a thousand different shades of tone and meaning. His a[205] was very clouded and nasal. To-day it was a hurried, lively “Ah ha!” accompanied with a jerk of the head, that seemed to arise from an unusually pleasant mood, and yet might not be trusted to be so; for the fact was, Banker Kesselmeyer never behaved more gaily than when he was dangerous. When he jumped about emitting a thousand “Ah ha’s,” lifting his glasses to his nose and letting them fall again, waving his arms, chattering, plainly quite beside himself with light-headedness, then you might be sure that evil was gnawing at his inwards. Herr Grünlich looked at him blinking, with unconcealed mistrust.

“Already—so early?” he asked.

“Ah, ha!” answered Herr Kesselmeyer, and waved one of his small, red, wrinkled hands in the air, as if to say: “Patience, there is a surprise coming.” “I must speak with you, without any delay; I must speak with you.”

The words sounded irresistibly comic as he rolled each one about before giving it out, with exaggerated movements of his little toothless, mobile mouth. He rolled his r’s as if his palate were greased. Herr Grünlich blinked more and more suspiciously.

“Come and sit down, Herr Kesselmeyer,” said Tony. “I’m glad you’ve come. Listen. You can decide between us. Grünlich and I have been disagreeing. Now tell me: ought a three-year-old child to have a governess or not?”

But Herr Kesselmeyer seemed not to be attending. He had seated himself and was rubbing his stubbly beard with his forefinger, making a rasping sound, his mouth as wide open as possible, nose as wrinkled, while he stared over his glasses with an indescribably sprightly air at the elegantly appointed breakfast-table, the silver bread-basket, the label on the wine-bottle.

“Grünlich says I am ruining him,” Tony continued.

Herr Kesselmeyer looked at her; then he looked at Herr Grünlich; then he burst out into an astonishing fit of laughter. “You are ruining him?—you? You are ruining him—that’s[206] it, is it? Oh good gracious, heavens and earth, you don’t say! That is a joke. That is a tre-men-dous, tre-men-dous joke.” He let out a stream of ha ha’s all run in together.

Herr Grünlich was plainly nervous. He squirmed on his seat. He ran his long finger down between his collar and his neck and let his golden whiskers glide through his hand.

“Kesselmeyer,” he said. “Control yourself, man. Are you out of your head? Stop laughing! Will you have some wine? Or a cigar? What are you laughing at?”

“What am I laughing at? Yes, yes, give me a glass of wine, give me a cigar. Why am I laughing? So you think your wife is ruining you?”

“She is very luxuriously inclined,” Herr Grünlich said irritably.

Tony did not contradict him. She leaned calmly back, her hands in her lap on the velvet ribbons of her frock and her pert upper lip in evidence: “Yes, I am, I know. I have it from Mamma. All the Krögers are fond of luxury.”

She would have admitted in the same calm way that she was frivolous, revengeful, or quick-tempered. Her strongly developed family sense was instinctively hostile to conceptions of free will and self-development; it inclined her rather to recognize and accept her own characteristics wholesale, with fatalistic indifference and toleration. She had, unconsciously, the feeling that any trait of hers, no matter of what kind, was a family tradition and therefore worthy of respect.

Herr Grünlich had finished breakfast, and the fragrance of the two cigars mingled with the warm air from the stove. “Will you take another, Kesselmeyer?” said the host. “I’ll pour you out another glass of wine.—You want to see me? Anything pressing? Is it important?—Too warm here, is it? We’ll drive into town together afterward. It is cooler in the smoking-room.” To all this Herr Kesselmeyer simply shook his hand in the air, as if to say: “This won’t get us anywhere, my dear friend.”

[207]At length they got up; and, while Tony remained in the dining-room to see that the servant-maid cleared away, Herr Grünlich led his colleague through the “pensée-room,” with his head bent, drawing his long beard reflectively through his fingers. Herr Kesselmeyer rowed into the room with his arms and disappeared behind him.

Ten minutes passed. Tony had gone into the salon to give the polished nut-wood secretary and the curved table-legs her personal attention with the aid of a gay little feather duster. Then she moved slowly through the dining-room into the living-room with dignity and marked self-respect. The Demoiselle Buddenbrook had plainly not grown less important in her own eyes since becoming Madame Grünlich. She held herself very erect, chin in, and looked down at the world from above. She carried in one hand her little lacquered key-basket; the other was in the pocket of her gown, whose soft folds played about her. The naïve expression of her mouth betrayed that the whole of her dignity and importance were a part of a beautiful, childlike, innocent game which she was constantly playing with herself.

In the “pensée-room” she busied herself with a little brass sprinkler, watering the black earth around her plants. She loved her palms, they gave so much elegance to the room. She touched carefully a young shoot on one of the thick round stems, examined the majestically unfolded fans, and cut away a yellow tip here and there with the scissors. Suddenly she stopped. The conversation in the next room, which had for several minutes been assuming a livelier tone, became so loud that she could hear every word, though the door and the portières were both heavy.

“Don’t shriek like that—control yourself, for God’s sake!” she heard Herr Grünlich say. His weak voice could not stand the strain, and went off in a squeak. “Take another cigar,” he went on, with desperate mildness.

“Yes, thanks, with the greatest pleasure,” answered the[208] banker, and there was a pause while he presumably helped himself. Then he said: “In short, will you or won’t you: one or the other?”

“Kesselmeyer, give me an extension.”

“Ah, ha! No, no, my friend. There is no question of an extension. That’s not the point now.”

“Why not? What is stirring you up to this? Be reasonable, for heaven’s sake. You’ve waited this long.”

“Not a day longer, my friend. Yes, we’ll say eight days, but not an hour longer. But can’t we rely any longer on—?”

“No names, Kesselmeyer.”

“No names. Good. But doesn’t some one rely any longer on his estimable Herr Pa—”

“No hints, either. My God, don’t be a fool.”

“Very good; no hints, either. But have we no claim any longer on the well-known firm with whom our credit stands and falls, my friend? How much did it lose by the Bremen failure? Fifty thousand? Seventy thousand? A hundred thousand? More? The sparrows on the housetops know that it was involved, heavily involved. Yesterday—well, no names. Yesterday the well-known firm was good, and it was unconsciously protecting you against pressure. To-day its stock is flat—and B. Grünlich’s stock is the flattest of the flat. Is that clear? Do you grasp it? You are the first man to notice a thing like that. How are people treating you? How do they look at you? Beck and Goudstikker are perfectly agreeable, give you the same terms as usual? And the bank?”

“They will extend.”

“You aren’t lying, are you? Oh, no! I know they gave you a jolt yesterday—a very, very stimulating jolt eh? You see? Oh, don’t be embarrassed. It is to your interest, of course, to pull the wool over my eyes, so that the others will be quiet. Hey, my dear friend? Well, you’d better write to the Consul. I’ll wait a week.”

“A part payment, Kesselmeyer!”

[209]“Part payment, rubbish! One accepts part payment to convince oneself for the time of a debtor’s ability to pay. Do I need to make experiments of that kind on you? I am perfectly well-informed about your ability to pay. Ah, ha, ah, ha! Part payment! That’s a very good joke.”

“Moderate your voice, Kesselmeyer. Don’t laugh all the time in that cursed way. My position is so serious—yes, I admit, it is serious. But I have such-and-such business in hand—everything may still come out all right. Listen, wait a minute: Give me an extension and I’ll sign it for twenty per cent.”

“Nothing in it, nothing in it, my friend. Very funny, very amusing. Oh, yes, I’m in favour of selling at the right time. You promised me eight per cent, and I extended. You promised me twelve and sixteen per cent, and I extended, every time. Now, you might offer me forty per cent, and I shouldn’t consider it—not for a moment. Since Brother Westfall in Bremen fell on his nose, everybody is for the moment freeing himself from the well-known firm and getting on a sound basis. As I say, I’m for selling at the right time. I’ve held your signatures as long as Johann Buddenbrook was good—in the meantime I could write up the interest on the capital and increase the per cent. But one only keeps a thing so long as it is rising or at least keeping steady. When it begins to fall, one sells—which is the same as saying I want my capital.”

“Kesselmeyer, you are shameless.”

“Ah, ha, a-ha! Shameless, am I? That’s very charming, very funny. What do you want? You must apply to your father-in-law. The Credit Bank is raging—and you know you are not exactly spotless.”

“No, Kesselmeyer. I adjure you to hear me quietly. I’ll be perfectly frank. I confess that my situation is serious. You and the Credit Bank are not the only ones—there are notes of hand—everything seems to have gone to pieces at once!”

[210]“Of course—naturally. It is certainly a clean-up—a liquidation.”

“No, Kesselmeyer; hear me out. Do take another cigar.”

“This one is not half finished. Leave me alone with your cigars. Pay up.”

“Kesselmeyer, don’t let me smash!—You are a friend of mine—you have eaten at my table.”

“And maybe you haven’t eaten at mine?”

“Yes, yes—but don’t refuse me credit now, Kesselmeyer!”

“Credit? It’s credit, now, is it? Are you in your senses? A new loan?”

“Yes, Kesselmeyer, I swear to you— A little—a trifle. I only need to make a few payments and advances here and there to get on my feet again and restore confidence. Help me and you will be doing a big business. As I said, I have a number of affairs on hand. They may still all come out right. You know how shrewd and resourceful I am.”

“I know what a numbskull you are! A dolt, a nincompoop, my dear friend! Will you have the goodness to tell me what your resourcefulness can accomplish at this stage? Perhaps there is a bank somewhere in the wide world that will lend you a shilling? Or another father-in-law? Ah, no; you have already played your best card. You can’t play it twice.—With all due respect, my dear fellow, and my highest regards.”

“Speak lower, devil take you!”

“You are a fool. Shrewd and resourceful, are you? Yes, to the other chap’s advantage. You’re not scrupulous, I’ll say that for you, but much good it’s done you! You have played tricks, and wormed capital out of people by hook or crook, just to pay me my twelve or sixteen per cent. You threw your honour overboard without getting any return. You have a conscience like a butcher’s dog, and yet you are nothing but a ninny, a scapegoat. There are always such people—they are too funny for words. Why is it you are so afraid to apply to the person we mean with the whole story?[211] Isn’t it because there was crooked work four years ago? Perhaps it wasn’t all quite straight—what? Are you afraid that certain things—?”

“Very well, Kesselmeyer; I will write. But suppose he refuses? Suppose he lets me down?”

“Oh—ah, ha! Then we will just have a bankruptcy, a highly amusing little bankruptcy. That doesn’t bother me at all. So far as I am concerned, I have about covered my expenses with the interest you have scratched together, and I have the priority with the assets. Oh, you wait; I shan’t come short. I know everything pretty well, my good friend; I have an inventory already in my pocket. Ah, ha! We shall see that no dressing-gown and no silver bread-basket gets away.”

“Kesselmeyer, you have sat at my table—”

“Oh, be quiet with your table! In eight days I’ll be back for the answer. I shall walk in to town—the fresh air will do me good. Good morning, my friend, good morning!”

And Herr Kesselmeyer seemed to depart—yes, he went. She heard his odd, shuffling walk in the corridor, and imagined him rowing along with his arms....

Herr Grünlich entered the “pensée-room” and saw Tony standing there with the little watering-can in her hand. She looked him in the face.

“What are you looking at? Why are you staring like that?” he said to her. He showed his teeth, and made vague movements in the air with his hands, and wiggled his body from side to side. His rosy face could not become actually pale; but it was spotted red and white like a scarlet-fever patient’s.



Consul Johann Buddenbrook arrived at the villa at two o’clock in the afternoon. He entered the Grünlich salon in a grey travelling-cloak and embraced his daughter with painful intensity. He was pale and seemed older. His small eyes were deep in their sockets, his large pointed nose stuck out between the fallen cheeks, his lips seemed to have grown thinner, and the beard under his chin and jaws half-covered by his stiff choker and high neck-band,—he had lately ceased to wear the two locks running from the temples half-way down the cheeks—was as grey as the hair on his head.

The Consul had hard, nerve-racking days behind him. Thomas had had a haemorrhage; the Father had learned of the misfortune in a letter from Herr van der Kellen. He had left his business in the careful hands of his clerk and hurried off to Amsterdam. He found nothing immediately dangerous about his son’s illness, but an open-air cure was necessary, in the South, in Southern France; and as it fortunately happened that a journey of convalescence had been prescribed for the young son of the head of the firm, the two young men had left for Pau as soon as Thomas was able to travel.

The Consul had scarcely reached home again when he was attacked by a fresh misfortune, which had for the moment shaken his firm to its foundations and by which it had lost eighty thousand marks at one blow. How? Discounted cheques drawn on Westfall Brothers had come back to the firm, liquidation having begun. He had not failed to cover them. The firm had at once showed what it could do, without hesitation or embarrassment. But that could not prevent[213] the Consul from experiencing all the sudden coldness, the reserve, the mistrust at the banks, with “friends,” and among firms abroad, which such an event, such a weakening of working capital, was sure to bring in its train.

Well, he had pulled himself together, and had reviewed the whole situation; had reassured, reinforced, made head. And then, in the midst of the struggle, among telegrams, letters, and calculations, this last blow broke upon him as well: B. Grünlich, his daughter’s husband, was insolvent. In a long, whining, confused letter he had implored, begged, and prayed for an assistance of a hundred to a hundred and twenty thousand marks. The Consul replied curtly and non-committally that he would come to Hamburg to meet Herr Grünlich and Kesselmeyer the banker, made a brief, soothing explanation to his wife, and started off.

Tony received him in the salon. She was fond of receiving visits in her brown silk salon, and she made no exception now; particularly as she had a very profound impression of the importance of the present occasion, without comprehending in the least what it was about. She looked blooming and yet becomingly serious, in her pale grey frock with its laces at breast and wrists, its bell-shaped sleeves and long train, and little diamond clasp at the throat. “How are you, Papa? At last you have come to see us again. How is Mamma? Is there good news from Tom? Take off your things, Father dear. Will you dress? The guest-room is ready for you. Grünlich is dressing.”

“Don’t call him, my child. I will wait for him here. You know I have come for a talk with your husband—a very, very serious talk, my dear Tony. Is Herr Kesselmeyer here?”

“Yes, he is in the pensée-room looking at the album.”

“Where is Erica?”

“Up in the nursery with Tinka. She is very well. She is bathing her doll—of course, not in real water; I mean—she is a wax-doll, she only—”

“Of course.” The Consul drew a deep breath and went[214] on: “Evidently you have not been informed as to—to the state of affairs with your husband.”

He had sat down in an arm-chair near the large table, and Tony placed herself at his feet on a little seat made of three cushions on top of one another. The finger of her right hand toyed gently with the diamond at her throat.

“No, Papa,” answered Tony. “I must confess I know nothing. Heavens, I am a goose!—I have no understanding at all. I heard Kesselmeyer talking lately to Grünlich—at the end it seemed to me he was just joking again—he always talks so drolly. I heard your name once or twice—”

“You heard my name? In what connection?”

“Oh, I know nothing of the connection, Papa. Grünlich has been insufferably sulky ever since that day, I must say. Until yesterday—yesterday he was in a good mood, and asked me a dozen times if I loved him, and if I would put in a good word for him with you if he had something to ask you.”


“Yes, he told me he had written you and that you were coming here. It is good you have. Everything is so queer. Grünlich had the card-table put in here. There are a lot of paper and pencils on it—for you to sit at, and hold a council together.”

“Listen, my dear child,” said the Consul, stroking her hair. “I want to ask you something very serious. Tell me: you love your husband with your whole heart, don’t you?”

“Of course, Papa,” said Tony with a face of childlike hypocrisy—precisely the face of the child Tony when she was asked: “You won’t tease the old doll-woman again, Tony?” The Consul was silent a minute.

“You love him so much,” he asked again, “that you could not live without him, under any circumstances, even if by God’s will your situation should alter so that he could no longer surround you with all these things?” And his hand described a quick movement over the furniture and portières,[215] over the gilt clock on the étagère, and finally over her own frock.

“Certainly, Papa,” repeated Tony, in the soothing tone she nearly always used when any one spoke seriously to her. She looked past her father out of the window, where a heavy veil of rain was silently descending. Her face had the expression children wear when some one tells them a fairy story and then tactlessly introduces a generalization about conduct and duty—a mixture of embarrassment and impatience, piety and boredom.

The Consul looked at her without speaking for a minute. Was he satisfied with her response? He had weighed everything thoroughly, at home and during the journey.

It is comprehensible that Johann Buddenbrook’s first impulse was to refuse his son-in-law any considerable payment. But when he remembered how pressing—to use a mild word—he had been about this marriage; when he looked back into the past, and recalled the words: “Are you satisfied with me?” with which his child had taken leave of him after the wedding, he gave way to a burdensome sense of guilt against her and said to himself that the thing must be decided according to her feelings. He knew perfectly that she had not made the marriage out of love, but he was obliged to reckon with the possibility that these four years of life together and the birth of the child had changed matters; that Tony now felt bound body and soul to her husband and would be driven by considerations both spiritual and worldly to shrink from a separation. In such a case, the Consul argued, he must accommodate himself to the surrender of whatever sum was necessary. Christian duty and wifely feeling did indeed demand that Tony should follow her husband into misfortune; and if she actually took this resolve, he did not feel justified in letting her be deprived of all the ease and comfort to which she had been accustomed since childhood. He would feel himself obliged to avert the catastrophe, and to support B. Grünlich at any price. Yet the final[216] result of his considerations was the desire to take his daughter and her child home with him and let Grünlich go his own way. God forbid that the worst should happen!

In any case, the Consul invoked the pronouncement of the law that a continued inability to provide for wife and children justified a separation. But, before everything, he must find out his daughter’s real feelings.

“I see,” he said, “my dear child, that you are actuated by good and praiseworthy motives. But—I cannot believe that you are seeing the thing as, unhappily, it really is—namely, as actual fact. I have not asked what you would do in this or that case, but what you to-day, now, will do. I do not know how much of the situation you know or suspect. It is my painful duty to tell you that your husband is obliged to call his creditors together; that he cannot carry on his business any longer. I hope you understand me.”

“Grünlich is bankrupt?” Tony asked under her breath, half rising from the cushions and seizing the Consul’s hand quickly.

“Yes, my child,” he said seriously. “You did not know it?”

“My suspicions were not definite,” she stammered. “Then Kesselmeyer was not joking?” she went on, staring before her at the brown carpet. “Oh, my God!” she suddenly uttered, and sank back on her seat.

In that minute all that was involved in the word “bankrupt” rose clearly before her: all the vague and fearful hints which she had heard as a child. “Bankrupt”—that was more dreadful than death, that was catastrophe, ruin, shame, disgrace, misery, despair. “He is bankrupt,” she repeated. She was so cast down and shaken by the fatal word that the idea of escape, of assistance from her father, never occurred to her. He looked at her with raised eyebrows, out of his small deep-set eyes, which were tired and sad and full of an unusual suspense. “I am asking you,” he said gently, “my dear Tony, if you are ready to follow your husband into misery?” He realized at once that he had used the hard word[217] instinctively to frighten her, and he added: “He can work himself up again, of course.”

“Certainly, Papa,” answered she. But it did not prevent her from bursting into tears. She sobbed into her batiste handkerchief, trimmed with lace and with the monogram A. G. She still wept just like a child; quite unaffectedly and without embarrassment. Her upper lip had the most touching expression.

Her father continued to probe her with his eyes. “That is your serious feeling, my child?” he asked. He was as simple as she.

“I must, mustn’t I?” she sobbed. “Don’t I have to—?”

“Certainly not,” he said. But with a guilty feeling he added: “I would not force you to it, my dear Tony. If it should be the case that your feelings did not bind you indissolubly to your husband—”

She looked at him with uncomprehending, tear-streaming eyes. “How, Papa?”

The Consul twisted and turned, and found a compromise. “My dear child, you can understand how painful it would be for me to have to tell you all the hardships and suffering that would come about through the misfortune of your husband, the breaking-up of the business and of your household. I desire to spare you these first unpleasantnesses by taking you and little Erica home with me. You would be glad of that, I think?”

Tony was silent a moment, drying her tears. She carefully breathed on her handkerchief and pressed it against her eyes to heal their inflammation. Then she asked tn a firm tone, without lifting her voice: “Papa, is Grünlich to blame? Is it his folly and lack of uprightness that has brought him to this?”

“Very probably,” said the Consul. “That is—no, I don’t know, my child. The explanation with him and the banker has not taken place yet.”

She seemed not to be listening. She sat crouched on her[218] three silk cushions, her elbow on her knee, her chin in her hand, and with her head bowed looked dreamily into the room.

“Ah, Papa,” she said softly, almost without moving her lips, “wouldn’t it have been better—?”

The Consul could not see her face—but it had the expression it often wore those summer evenings at Travemünde, as she leaned at the window of her little room. One arm rested on her Father’s knee, the hand hanging down limply. This very hand was expressive of a sad and tender abandonment, a sweet, pensive longing, travelling back into the past.

“Better?” asked Consul Buddenbrook. “If what, my child?”

He was thoroughly prepared for the confession that it would have been better had this marriage not taken place; but Tony only answered with a sigh: “Oh, nothing.”

She seemed rapt by her thoughts, which had borne her so far away that she had almost forgotten the “bankrupt.” The Consul felt himself obliged to utter what he would rather only have confirmed.

“I think I guess your thoughts, Tony,” he said, “and I don’t on my side hesitate to confess that in this hour I regret the step that seemed to me four years ago so wise and advisable. I believe, before God, I am not responsible. I think I did my duty in trying to give you an existence suitable to your station. Heaven has willed otherwise. You will not believe that your Father played lightly and unreflectingly with your happiness in those days! Grünlich came to us with the best recommendations, a minister’s son, a Christian and a cosmopolitan man. Later I made business inquiries, and it all sounded as favourable as possible. I examined the connections. All that is still very dark; and the explanation is yet to come. But you don’t blame me—?”

“No, Papa—how can you say such a thing? Come, don’t take it to heart, poor Papa! You look pale. Shall I give[219] you a little cordial?” She put her arm around his neck and kissed his cheek.

“Thank you, no,” he said. “There, there! It is all right. Yes, I have bad days behind me. I have had much to try me. These are all trials sent from God. But that does not help my feeling a little guilty toward you, my child. Everything depends on the question I have already asked you. Speak openly, Tony. Have you learned to love your husband in these years of marriage?”

Tony wept afresh; and covering her eyes with both hands, in which she held the batiste handkerchief, she sobbed out: “Oh, what are you asking me, Papa? I have never loved him—he has always been repulsive to me. You know that.”

It would be hard to say what went on in Johann Buddenbrook. His eyes looked shocked and sad; but he bit his lips hard together, and great wrinkles came in his cheeks, as they did when he had brought a piece of business to a successful conclusion. He said softly: “Four years—”

Tony’s tears ceased suddenly. With her damp handkerchief in her hand, she sat up straight on her seat and said angrily: “Four years! Yes! Sometimes, in those four years, he sat with me in the evening and read the paper.”

“God gave you a child,” said the Father, moved.

“Yes, Papa. And I love Erica very much, although Grünlich says I am not fond of children. I would not be parted from her, that is certain. But Grünlich—no! Grünlich, no. And now he is bankrupt. Ah, Papa, if you will take Erica and me home—oh, gladly.”

The Consul compressed his lips again. He was extremely well satisfied. But the main point had yet to be touched upon; though, by the decision Tony showed, he did not risk much by asking.

“You seem not to have thought it might be possible to do something, to get help. I have already said to you that I do not feel myself altogether innocent of the situation, and—in[220] case you should expect—hope—I might intervene, to prevent the failure and cover your husband’s debts, the best I could, and float his business—”

He watched her keenly, and her bearing filled him with satisfaction. It expressed disappointment.

“How much is it?” she asked.

“What is that to the point, my child? A very large sum.” And Consul Buddenbrook nodded several times, as though the weight of the very thought of such a sum swung his head back and forth. “I should not conceal from you,” he went on, “that the firm has suffered losses already quite apart from this affair, and that the surrender of a sum like this would be a blow from which it would recover with difficulty. I do not in any way say this to—”

He did not finish. Tony had sprung up, had even taken a few steps backward, and with the wet handkerchief still in her hand she cried: “Good! Enough! Never!” She looked almost heroic. The words “the firm” had struck home. It is highly probable that they had more effect than even her dislike of Herr Grünlich. “You shall not do that, Papa,” she went on, quite beside herself. “Do you want to be bankrupt too? Never, never!”

At this moment the hall door opened a little uncertainly and Herr Grünlich entered.

Johann Buddenbrook rose, with a movement that meant: “That’s settled.”



Herr Grünlich’s face was all mottled with red; but he had dressed carefully in a respectable-looking black coat and pea-green trousers like those in which he had made his first visits in Meng Street. He stood still, with his head down, looking very limp, and said in a weak exhausted sort of voice: “Father?”

The Consul bowed, not too cordially, and straightened his neck-cloth with an energetic movement.

“Thank you for coming,” said Herr Grünlich.

“It was my duty, my friend,” replied the Consul. “But I am afraid it will be about all I can do for you.”

Herr Grünlich threw him a quick look and seemed to grow still more limp.

“I hear,” the Consul went on, “that your banker, Herr Kesselmeyer, is awaiting us—where shall the conference be held? I am at your service.”

“If you will be so good as to follow me,” Herr Grünlich murmured. Consul Buddenbrook kissed his daughter on the forehead and said, “Go up to your child, Antonie.”

Then he went, with Herr Grünlich fluttering in front of and behind him to open the portières, through the dining-room into the living-room.

Herr Kesselmeyer stood at the window, the black and white down softly rising and falling upon his cranium.

“Herr Kesselmeyer, Herr Consul Buddenbrook, my father-in-law,” said Herr Grünlich, meekly. The Consul’s face was impassive. Herr Kesselmeyer bowed with his arms hanging down, both yellow teeth against his upper lip, and said “Pleasure to meet you, Herr Consul.”

[222]“Please excuse us for keeping you waiting, Kesselmeyer,” said Herr Grünlich. He was not more polite to one than to the other. “Pray sit down.”

As they went into the smoking-room, Herr Kesselmeyer said vivaciously: “Have you had a pleasant journey? Ah, rain? Yes, it is a bad time of year, a dirty time. If we had a little frost, or snow, now—but rain, filth—very, very unpleasant.”

“What a queer creature!” thought the Consul.

In the centre of the little room with its dark-flowered wall-paper stood a sizable square table covered with green baize. It rained harder and harder; it was so dark that the first thing Herr Grünlich did was to light the three candles on the table. Business letters on blue paper, stamped with the names of various firms, torn and soiled papers with dates and signatures, lay on the green cloth. There were a thick ledger and a metal inkstand and sand-holder, full of well-sharpened pencils and goose-quills.

Herr Grünlich did the honours with the subdued and tactful mien of a man greeting guests at a funeral. “Dear Father, do take the easy-chair,” he said. “Herr Kesselmeyer, will you be so kind as to sit here?”

At last they were settled. The banker sat opposite the host, the Consul presided on the long side of the table. The back of his chair was against the hall door.

Herr Kesselmeyer bent over, released his upper lip, disentangled a glass from his waistcoat and stuck it on his nose, which he wrinkled for the purpose, and opened his mouth wide. Then he scratched his stubbly beard with an ugly rasping noise, put his hands on his knees, and remarked in a sprightly tone, jerking his head toward the piles of papers: “Well, there we have the whole boiling.”

“May I look into matters a little more closely?” asked the Consul, taking up the ledger. But Herr Grünlich suddenly stretched out his hands over the table—long, trembling hands[223] marked with high blue veins—and cried out in a voice that trembled too: “A moment, Father. Just a moment. Let me make just a few explanations. Yes, you will get an insight into everything—nothing will escape your glance; but, believe me, you will get an insight into the situation of an unfortunate, not a guilty man. You see in me a man who fought unwearied against fate, but was finally struck down. I am innocent of all—”

“We shall see, my friend, we shall see,” said the Consul, with obvious impatience; and Herr Grünlich took his hands away and resigned himself to his fate.

Then there were long dreadful minutes of silence. The three gentlemen sat close together in the flickering candle-light, shut in by the four dark walls. There was not a sound but the rustling of the Consul’s papers and the falling rain outside.

Herr Kesselmeyer stuck his thumbs in the arm-holes of his waistcoat and played piano on his shoulders with his fingers, looking with indescribable jocosity from one to the other. Herr Grünlich sat upright in his chair, hands on the table, staring gloomily before him, and now and then stealing an anxious glance at his father-in-law out of the tail of his eye. The Consul examined the ledger, followed columns of figures with his finger, compared dates, and did indecipherable little sums in lead-pencil on a scrap of paper. His worn features expressed astonishment and dismay at the conditions into which he now “gained an insight.” Finally he laid his left arm on Herr Grünlich’s and said with evident emotion: “You poor man!”

“Father,” Herr Grünlich broke out. Two great tears rolled down his cheeks and ran into the golden whiskers. Herr Kesselmeyer followed their course with the greatest interest. He even raised himself a little, bent over, and looked his vis-à-vis in the face, with his mouth open. Consul Buddenbrook was moved. Softened by his own recent misfortunes,[224] he felt himself carried away by sympathy; but he controlled his feelings.

“How is it possible?” he said, with a sad head-shake. “In so few years—”

“Oh, that’s simple,” answered Herr Kesselmeyer, good-temperedly. “One can easily ruin oneself in four years. When we remember that it took an even shorter time for Westfall Brothers in Bremen to go smash—” The Consul stared at him, but without either seeing or hearing him. He himself had not expressed his own actual thoughts, his real misgivings. Why, he asked himself with puzzled suspicion, why was this happening now? It was as clear as daylight that, just where he stood to-day, B. Grünlich had stood two years, three years before. But his credit had been inexhaustible, he had had capital from the banks, and for his undertakings continual endorsement from sound houses like Senator Bock and Consul Goudstikker. His paper had passed as current as banknotes. Why now, precisely now—and the head of the firm of Johann Buddenbrook knew well what he meant by this “now”—had there come this crash on all sides, this complete withdrawal of credit as if by common consent, this unanimous descent upon B. Grünlich, this disregard of all consideration, all ordinary business courtesy? The Consul would have been naïve indeed had he not realized that the good standing of his own firm was to the advantage of his son-in-law. But had the son-in-law’s credit so entirely, so strikingly, so exclusively depended upon his own? Had Grünlich himself been nothing at all? And the information the Consul had had, the books he had examined—? Well, however the thing stood, his resolution was firmer than ever not to lift a finger. They had reckoned without their host.

Apparently B. Grünlich had known how to make it appear that he was connected with the firm of Buddenbrook—well, this widely-circulated error should be set right once for all. And this Kesselmeyer—he was going to get a shock too. The clown! Had he no conscience whatever? It was very plain[225] how shamelessly he had speculated on the probability that he, Johann Buddenbrook, would not let his daughter’s husband be ruined; how he had continued to finance Grünlich long after he was unsound, and exacted from him an ever crueller rate of interest.

“Now,” he said shortly, “let us get to the point. If I am asked as a merchant to say frankly what I think, I am obliged to say that if the situation is that of an unfortunate man, it is also in a great degree that of a guilty one.”

“Father!” stammered Herr Grünlich.

“The name does not come well to my ears,” said the Consul, quickly and harshly. “Your demands on Herr Grünlich amount, sir”—turning for a moment to the banker—“to sixty thousand marks, I believe?”

“With the back interest they come to sixty-eight thousand seven hundred and fifty-five marks and fifteen shillings,” answered Herr Kesselmeyer pleasantly.

“Very good. And you would not be inclined under any circumstances to be patient for a longer time?”

Herr Kesselmeyer simply began to laugh. He laughed with his mouth open, in spasms, without a trace of scorn, even good-naturedly, looking at the Consul as though he were inviting him to join in the fun.

Johann Buddenbrook’s little deep eyes clouded over and began to show red rims around them that ran down to the cheek-bones. He had only asked for form’s sake, being aware that a postponement on the part of one creditor would not materially alter the situation. But the manner of this man’s refusal was mortifying indeed. With a motion of the hand he pushed away everything from in front of him, laid the pencil down with a jerk on the table, and said, “Then I must express myself as unwilling to concern myself any further with this affair.”

“Ah, ha!” cried Herr Kesselmeyer, shaking his hands in the air. “That’s the way to talk. The Herr Consul will settle everything out of hand—we shan’t have any long[226] speeches. Without more ado.” Johann Buddenbrook did not even look at him.

“I cannot help you, my friend.” He turned calmly to Herr Grünlich. “Things must go on as they have begun. Pull yourself together, and God will give you strength and consolation. I must consider our interview at an end.”

Herr Kesselmeyer’s face took on a serious expression which was vastly becoming to it. But then he nodded encouragingly to Herr Grünlich. The latter sat motionless at the table, only wringing his hands so hard that the fingers cracked.

“Father—Herr Consul,” he said, with a trembling voice. “You will not—you cannot desire my ruin. Listen. It is a matter of a hundred and twenty thousand marks in all—you can save me! You are a rich man. Regard it as you like—as a final arrangement, as your daughter’s inheritance, as a loan subject to interest. I will work—you know I am keen and resourceful—”

“I have spoken my last word,” said the Consul.

“Permit me—may I ask whether you could if you would?” asked Herr Kesselmeyer, looking at him through his glasses, with his nose wrinkled up. “I suggest to the Consul that this would be a most advantageous time to display the strength of the firm of Buddenbrook.”

“You would do well, sir, to leave the good name of my house to me. I do not need to throw my money in the nearest ditch in order to show how good my credit is.”

“Dear me, no, of course not—ditch, ah, ha!—Ditch is very funny. But doesn’t the gentleman think the failure of his son-in-law places his own credit in a bad light—er—ah—?”

“I can only recommend you again to remember that my credit in the business world is entirely my own affair,” said the Consul.

Herr Grünlich looked at his banker helplessly and began afresh: “Father! I implore you again: think what you are doing. Is it a question of me alone? I—oh, I myself might be allowed to perish. But your daughter, my wife, whom I[227] love, whom I won after such a struggle—and our child—both innocent children—are they to be brought low as well? No, Father, I will not bear it; I will kill myself. Yes, I would kill myself with this hand. Believe me—and may heaven pardon you if it will.”

Johann Buddenbrook leaned back in his arm-chair quite white, with a fast-beating heart. For the second time the emotions of this man played upon him, and their expression had the stamp of truth; again he heard, as when he told Herr Grünlich the contents of his daughter’s letter from Travemünde, the same terrible threat, and again there shuddered through him all the fanatical reverence of his generation for human feelings, which yet had always been in conflict with his own hard practical sense. But the attack lasted no longer than a moment. “A hundred thousand marks,” he repeated to himself; and then he said quietly and decisively: “Antonie is my daughter. I shall know how to protect her from unmerited suffering.”

“What do you mean by that?” asked Herr Grünlich, slowly stiffening.

“That you will see,” answered the Consul. “For the present I have nothing to add.” And he got up, pushed back his chair, and turned toward the door.

Herr Grünlich sat silent, stiff, irresolute; his mouth opened and closed without a word coming out. But the sprightliness of Herr Kesselmeyer returned at this conclusive action of the Consul. Yes, it got the upper hand entirely, it passed all bounds, it became frightful. The glasses fell from his nose, which went skyward, while his little mouth, with the two triangular yellow teeth, looked as though it were splitting. He rowed with his little red hands in the air, the fuzz on his head waved up and down, his whole face, with its bristly white beard distorted and grotesque with uncontrolled hilarity—had grown the colour of cinnamon.

“Ah, ha, ha, ah, ha!” he yelled, his voice cracking. “I find that in the last—degree—funny! You ought to consider,[228] Consul Buddenbrook, before you consign to the grave such a valuable—such a supreme specimen of a son-in-law. Anything so shrewd, so resourceful as he is, won’t be born upon God’s wide earth a second time. Aha! Four years ago—when the knife was at our throat, the rope around our neck—suddenly we made a match with Fräulein Buddenbrook, and spread the news on ’Change, even before it had actually come off! Congratulations, my dear friend; my best respects!”

“Kesselmeyer,” groaned Herr Grünlich, making spasmodic motions with his hands, as though waving off an evil spirit. He rushed into one corner of the room, where he sat down and buried his face in his hands. The ends of his whiskers lay on his shanks, and he rocked his knees up and down in his emotion.

“How did we do that?” went on Herr Kesselmeyer. “How did we actually manage to catch the little daughter and the eighty thousand marks? O-ho, ah, ha! That is easy. Even if one has no more shrewdness and resourcefulness than a tallow candle, it is easy! You show the saviour Papa nice, pretty, clean books, in which everything is put in the right way—only that they don’t quite correspond with the plain fact—for the plain fact is that three-quarters of the dowry is already debts.”

The Consul stood at the door deathly pale, the handle in his hand. Shivers ran up and down his back. He seemed to be standing in this little room lighted by the flickering candles, between a swindler and an ape gone mad with spite.

“I despise your words, sir,” he brought out with uncertain emphasis. “I despise your wild utterances the more that they concern me as well. I did not hand my daughter over light-headedly to misfortune; I informed myself as to my son-in-law’s prospects. The rest was God’s will.”

He turned—he would not hear any more—he opened the door. But Herr Kesselmeyer shrieked after him: “Aha, inquiries? Where? Of Bock? Of Goudstikker? Of Petersen?[229] Of Massmann and Timm? They were all in it. They were all in it up to their necks. They were all uncommonly pleased to be secured by the wedding—” The Consul slammed the door behind him.



Dora the cook, about whose honesty Tony had had her doubts, was busy in the dining-room.

“Ask Madame Grünlich to come down,” ordered the Consul. “Get yourself ready, my child,” he said as Tony appeared. He went with her into the salon. “Get ready as soon as possible, and get Erica ready too. We are going to the city. We shall sleep to-night in a hotel and travel home to-morrow.”

“Yes, Papa,” Tony said. Her face was red; she was distracted and bewildered. She made unnecessary and hurried motions about her waist, as if not knowing where to begin and not grasping the actuality of the occasion.

“What shall I take, Papa?” she asked distractedly. “Everything? All our clothes? One trunk or two? Is Grünlich really bankrupt? Oh, my God! But can I take my jewelry, then? Papa, the servants must leave—I cannot pay them. Grünlich was to have given me housekeeping money to-day or to-morrow.”

“Never mind, my child; things will all be arranged here. Just take what is necessary in a small trunk. They can send your own things after you. Hurry, do you hear?”

Just then the portières were parted and Herr Grünlich came into the salon. With quick steps, his arms outstretched, his head on one side, with the bearing of a man who says: “Here I am; kill me if you will,” he hurried to his wife and sank down on his knees right in front of her. His appearance was pitiable. His golden whiskers were dishevelled, his coat crumpled, his neck-cloth askew, his collar open; little drops stood upon his forehead.

[231]“Antonie!” he said. “Have you a heart that can feel? Hear me. You see before you a man who will be utterly ruined, if—yes, who will die of grief, if you deny him your love. Here I lie; can you find it in your heart to say to me: ‘I despise you—I am leaving you’?”

Tony wept. It was just the same as that time in the landscape-room. Once more she saw his anguished face, his imploring eyes directed upon her; again she saw, and was moved to see, that this pleading, this anguish, were real and unfeigned.

“Get up, Grünlich,” she said, sobbing. “Please, please get up.” She tried to raise his shoulders. “I do not despise you. How can you say such a thing?” Without knowing what else she should say, she turned helplessly to her father. The Consul took her hand, bowed to his son-in-law, and moved with her toward the hall door.

“You are going?” cried Herr Grünlich, springing to his feet.

“I have told you already,” said the Consul, “that I cannot be responsible for leaving my innocent child in misfortune—and I might add that you cannot, either. No, sir, you have misprized the possession of my daughter. You may thank your Creator that the child’s heart is so pure and unsuspicious that she parts from you without repulsion. Farewell.”

But here Herr Grünlich lost his head. He could have borne to hear of a brief parting—of a return and a new life and perhaps the saving of the inheritance. But this was too much for his powers of self-command, his shrewdness and resource. He might have taken the large bronze plaque that stood on the étagère, but he seized instead a thin painted vase with flowers that stood next it, and threw it on the ground so that it smashed into a thousand bits.

“Ha, good, good!” he screamed. “Get along with you! Did you think I’d whine after you, you goose? You are very much mistaken, my darling. I only married you for your[232] money; and it was not nearly enough, so you may as well go home. I’m through with you—through—through—through!”

Johann Buddenbrook ushered his daughter silently out. Then he turned, went up to Herr Grünlich, who was standing in the window with his hands behind his back staring out at the rain, touched him softly on the shoulder, and spoke with soft admonishment. “Pull yourself together. Pray!



A chastened mood reigned for some time at the old house in Meng Street after Madame Grünlich and her little daughter returned thither to take up their abode. The family went about rather subdued and did not speak much about “it,” with the exception of the chief actor in the affair, who, on the contrary, talked about “it” inexhaustibly, and was entirely in her element.

Tony had moved with Erica into the rooms in the second storey which her parents had occupied in the time of the elder Buddenbrooks. She was a little disappointed to find that it did not occur to her Papa to engage a servant for her, and she had rather a pensive half-hour when he gently explained that it would be fitting for her to live a retired life and give up the society of the town: for though, he said, according to human judgments she was an innocent victim of the fate which God had sent to try her, still her position as a divorced wife made a very quiet life advisable, particularly at first. But Tony possessed the gift of adaptability. She could adjust herself with ease and cheerfulness to any situation. She soon grew charmed with her rôle of the injured wife returned to the house of her fathers; wore dark frocks, dressed her ash-blonde hair primly like a young girl’s, and felt richly repaid for her lack of society by the weight she had acquired in the household, the seriousness and dignity of her new position, and above all by the immense pleasure of being able to talk about Herr Grünlich and her marriage and to make general observations about life and destiny, which she did with the utmost gusto.

Not everybody gave her this opportunity, it is true. The[234] Frau Consul was convinced that her husband had acted correctly and out of a sense of duty; but when Tony began to talk, she would put up her lovely white hand and say: “Assez, my child; I do not like to hear about it.”

Clara, now twelve years old, understood nothing, and Cousin Clothilde was just as stupid. “Oh, Tony!”—that was all she could say, with drawling astonishment. But the young wife found an attentive listener in Mamsell Jungmann, who was now thirty-five years old and could boast of having grown grey in the service of the best society. “You don’t need to worry, Tony, my child,” she would say. “You are young; you will marry again.” And she devoted herself to the upbringing of little Erica, telling her the same stories, the same memories of her youth, to which the Consul’s children had listened fifteen years before; and, in particular, of that uncle who died of hiccoughs at Marienwerder “because his heart was broken.”

But it was with her father that Tony talked most and longest. She liked to catch him after the noonday meal or in the morning at early breakfast. Their relations had grown closer and warmer; for her feeling had been heretofore one of awe and respect rather than affection, on account of his high position in the town, his piety, his solid, stern ability and industry. During that talk in her own salon he had come humanly near to her, and it had filled her with pride and emotion to be found worthy of that serious and confidential consultation. He, the infallible parent, had put the decision into her hands: he had confessed, almost humbly, to a sense of guilt. Such an idea would never have entered Tony’s head of itself; but since he said it, she believed it, and her feeling for him had thereby grown warmer and tenderer. As for the Consul, he believed himself bound to make up to his daughter for her misfortune by redoubled love and care.

Johann Buddenbrook had himself taken no steps against his untrustworthy son-in-law. Tony and her Mother did hear[235] from him, in the course of conversation, what dishonourable means Grünlich had used to get hold of the eighty thousand marks; but the Consul was careful to give the matter no publicity. He did not even consider going to the courts with it. He felt wounded in his pride as a merchant, and he wrestled silently with the disgrace of having been so thoroughly taken in.

But he pressed the divorce suit energetically as soon as the failure of Grünlich came out, which it soon did, thereby causing no inconsiderable losses to certain Hamburg firms.

It was this suit, and the thought that she herself was a principal in it, that gave Tony her most delicious and indescribable feelings of importance.

“Father,” she said—for in these conversations she never called him “Papa”—“Father, how is our affair going on? Do you think it will be all right? The paragraph is perfectly clear; I have studied it. ‘Incapacity of the husband to provide for his family’: surely they will say that is quite plain. If there were a son, Grünlich would keep him—”

Another time she said: “I have thought a great deal about the four years of my marriage, Father. That was certainly the reason the man never wanted us to live in the town, which I was so anxious to do. That was the reason he never liked me even to be in the town or go into society. The danger was much greater there than in Eimsbüttel, of my hearing somehow or other how things stood. What a scoundrel!”

“We must not judge, my child,” answered the Consul.

Or, when the divorce was finally pronounced: “Have you entered it in the family papers, Father? No? Then I’d better do it. Please give me the key to the secretary.” With bustling pride she wrote, beneath the lines she had set there four years ago under her name: “This marriage was dissolved by law in February, 1850.” Then she put away the pen and reflected a minute.

“Father,” she said, “I understand very well that this affair is a blot on our family history. I have thought about it a[236] great deal. It is exactly as if there were a spot of ink in the book here. But never mind. That is my affair. I will erase it. I am still young. Don’t you think I am still quite pretty? Though Frau Stuht, when she saw me again, said to me: ‘Oh, Heavens, Mme. Grünlich, how old you’ve grown!’ Well, I certainly couldn’t remain all my life the goose I was four years ago! Life takes one along with it. Anyhow, I shall marry again. You will see, everything can be put right by a good marriage.”

“That is in God’s hand, my child. It is most unfitting to speak of such things.”

Tony began at this time to use very frequently the expression “Such is life”; and with the word “life” she would open her eyes wide with a charming serious look, indicating the deep insight she had acquired into human affairs and human destinies.

Thomas returned from Pau in August of that year. The dining-table was opened out again, and Tony had a fresh audience for her tale. She loved and looked up to her brother, who had felt for her pain in that departure from Travemünde, and she respected him as the future head of the firm and the family.

“Yes, yes,” he said; “we’ve both of us gone through things, Tony.”

The corner of his eyebrow went up, and his cigarette moved from one corner of his mouth to the other: his thoughts were probably with the little flower-girl with the Malay face, who had lately married the son of her employer and now herself carried on the shop in Fishers’ Lane.

Thomas Buddenbrook, though still a little pale, was strikingly elegant. The last few years had entirely completed his education. His hair was brushed so that it stood out in two clumps above his ears, and his moustache was trimmed in the French mode, with sharp points that were stiffened with the tongs and stuck straight out. His stocky broad-shouldered figure had an almost military air.

[237]His constitution was not of the best; the blue veins showed too plainly at the narrow temples, and he had a slight tendency to chills, which good Dr. Grabow struggled with in vain. In the details of his physical appearance—the chin, the nose, and especially the hands, which were wonderfully true to the Buddenbrook type—his likeness to his grandfather was more pronounced than ever.

He spoke French with a distinctly Spanish accent, and astonished everybody by his enthusiasm for certain modern writers of a satiric and polemic character. Broker Gosch was the only person in town who sympathized with his tastes. His father strongly reprehended them.

But the Father’s pride and joy in his eldest son were plain to be seen; they shone in the Consul’s eyes. He welcomed him joyfully home as his colleague in the firm, and himself began to work with increased satisfaction in his office—especially after the death of old Madame Kröger, which took place at the end of the year.

The old lady’s loss was one to be borne with resignation. She had grown very old, and lived quite alone at the end. She went to God, and the firm of Buddenbrooks received a large sum of money, a round hundred thousand thaler, which strengthened the working capital of the business in a highly desirable way.

The Consul’s brother-in-law Justus, weary of continual business disappointments, as soon as he had his hands on his inheritance settled his business and retired. The gay son of the cavalier à-la-mode was not a happy man. He had been too careless, too generous to attain a solid position in the mercantile world. But he had already spent a considerable part of his inheritance; and now Jacob, his eldest son, was the source of fresh cares to him.

The young man had become addicted to light, not to say disreputable, society in the great city of Hamburg. He had cost his father a huge sum in the course of years, and when Consul Kröger refused to give him more, the mother, a weak,[238] sickly woman, sent money secretly to the son, and wretched clouds had sprung up between husband and wife.

The final blow came at the very time when B. Grünlich was making his failure: something happened at Dalbeck and Company in Hamburg, where Jacob Kröger worked. There had been some kind of dishonesty. It was not talked about; no questions were asked of Justus Kröger; but it got about that Jacob had a position as travelling man in New York and was about to sail. He was seen once in the town before his boat left, a foppishly dressed, unwholesome-looking youth. He had probably come hither to get more money out of his mother, besides the passage money his father sent him.

It finally came about that Justus spoke exclusively of “my son,” as though he had none but the one heir, his second son, Jürgen, who would certainly never be guilty of a false step, but who seemed on the other hand to be mentally limited. He had had difficulty getting through the High School; after which he spent some time in Jena, studying law—evidently without either pleasure or profit.

Johann Buddenbrook felt keenly the cloud on his wife’s family and looked with the more anxiety to the future of his own children. He was justified in placing the utmost confidence in the ability and earnestness of his older son. As for Christian, Mr. Richardson had written that he showed an unusual gift for acquiring English, but no genuine interest in the business. He had a great weakness for the theatre and for other distractions of the great city. Christian himself wrote that he had a longing to travel and see the world. He begged eagerly to be allowed to take a position “over there”—which meant in South America, perhaps in Chile. “That’s simply love of adventure,” the Consul said, and told him to remain with Mr. Richardson for another year and acquire mercantile experience. There followed an exchange of letters on the subject, with the result that in the summer of 1851 Christian Buddenbrook sailed for Valparaiso, where he had[239] hunted up a position. He travelled direct from England, without coming home.

So much for his two sons. As for Tony, the Consul was gratified to see with what self-possession she defended her position in the town as a Buddenbrook born; for as a divorced wife she had naturally to overcome all sorts of prejudice on the part of the other families.

“Oh!” she said, coming back with flushed cheeks from a walk and throwing her hat on the sofa in the landscape-room. “This Juliet Möllendorpf, or Hagenström—or Semmlinger—whatever she is, the creature!—Imagine, Mamma! She doesn’t speak. She doesn’t say ‘How do you do’: She waits for me to speak first. What do you say to that? I passed her in Broad Street with my head up and looked straight at her.”

“You go too far, Tony. There is a limit to everything. Why shouldn’t you speak first? You are the same age, and she is a married woman, just as you were.”

“Never, Mamma! Never under the shining sun! Such rag-tag and bob-tail!”

Assez, my love. Such vulgar expressions—”

“Oh, it makes me feel perfectly beside myself!”

Her hatred of the upstart family was fed by the mere thought that the Hagenströms might now feel justified in looking down on her—especially considering the present good fortune of the clan. Old Heinrich had died at the beginning of 1851, and his son Hermann—he of the lemon buns and the boxes on the ear—was doing a very brilliant business with Herr Strunk as partner. He had married, less than a year later, the daughter of Consul Huneus, the richest man in town, who had made enough out of his business to leave each of his three children two million marks. Hermann’s brother Moritz, despite his lung trouble, had a brilliant career as student, and had now settled down in the town to practise law. He had a reputation for being able, witty, and literary, and soon acquired a considerable business. He did not[240] look like the Semmlingers, having a yellow face and pointed teeth with wide spaces between.

Even in the family Tony had to take care to hold her head up. Uncle Gotthold’s temper toward his fortunate step-brother had grown more mild and resigned now that he had given up business and spent his time care-free in his modest house, munching lozenges out of a tin box—he loved sweets. Still, considering his three unmarried daughters, he could not have failed to feel a quiet satisfaction over Tony’s unfortunate venture; and his wife, born Stüwing, and his three daughters, twenty-six, twenty-seven, and twenty-eight years old, showed an exaggerated interest in their cousin’s misfortune and the divorce proceedings; more, in fact, than they had in her betrothal and wedding. When the “children’s Thursdays” began again in Meng Street after old Madame Kröger’s death, Tony found it no easy work to defend herself.

“Oh, heavens, you poor thing!” said Pfiffi, the youngest, who was little and plump, with a droll way of shaking herself at every word. A drop of water always came in the corner of her mouth when she spoke. “Has the decree been pronounced? Are you exactly as you were before?”

“Oh, on the contrary,” said Henriette, who like her elder sister, was extraordinarily tall and withered-looking. “You are much worse off than if you had never married at all.”

“Yes,” Friederike chimed in. “Then it is ever so much better never to have married at all.”

“Oh, no, dear Friederike,” said Tony, erecting her head, while she bethought herself of a telling and clever retort. “You make a mistake there. Marriage teaches one to know life, you see. One is no longer a silly goose. And then I have more prospect of marrying again than those who have never married at all!”

“Oh!” cried the others with one voice. They said it with a long hissing intake of breath which made it sound very sceptical indeed.

Sesemi Weichbrodt was too good and tactful even to mention[241] the subject. Tony sometimes visited her former teacher in the little red house at Millbrink No. 7. It was still occupied by a troop of girls, though the boarding-school was slowly falling out of fashion. The lively old maid was also invited to Meng Street on occasion to partake of a haunch of venison or a stuffed goose. She always raised herself on tip-toe to kiss Tony on the forehead, with a little exploding noise. Madame Kethelsen, her simple sister, had grown rapidly deaf and had understood almost nothing of Tony’s affair. She still laughed her painfully hearty laugh on the most unsuitable occasions, and Sesemi still felt it necessary to rap on the table and cry “Nally!”

The years went on. Gradually people forgot their feelings over Tony’s affair. She herself would only think now and then of her married life, when she saw on Erica’s healthy, hearty little face some expression that reminded her of Bendix Grünlich. She dressed again in colours, wore her hair in the old way, and made the same old visits into society.

Still, she was always glad that she had the chance to be away from the town for some time in the summer. The Consul’s health made it necessary for him to visit various cures.

“Oh, what it is to grow old!” he said. “If I get a spot of coffee on my trousers and put a drop of cold water on it, I have rheumatism. When one is young, one can do anything.” He suffered at times also from spells of dizziness.

They went to Obersalzbrunn, to Ems and Baden-Baden, to Kissingen, whence they made a delightful and edifying journey to Nuremberg and Munich and the Salzburg neighbourhood, to Ischl and Vienna, Prague, Dresden, Berlin, and home again. Madame Grünlich had been suffering from a nervous affection of the digestion, and was obliged to take a strenuous cure at the baths; but nevertheless she found the journey a highly desirable change, for she did not conceal her opinion that it was a little slow at home.

“Heavens, yes—you know how it is, Father,” she would say, regarding the ceiling with a thoughtful air. “Of course, I[242] have learned what life is like—but just for that reason it is rather a dull prospect for me to be always sitting here at home like a stupid goose. I hope you don’t think I mean I do not like to be with you, Papa. I ought to be whipped if I did, it would be so ungrateful. But I only mean life is like that, you know.”

The hardest thing she had to bear was the increasing piety of her parents’ home. The Consul’s religious fervour grew upon him in proportion as he himself felt the weight of years and infirmity; and his wife too, as she got older, began to find the spiritual side to her taste. Prayers had always been customary in the Buddenbrook house, but now for some time the family and the servants had assembled mornings and evenings in the breakfast-room to hear the Master read the Bible. And the visits of ministers and missionaries increased more and more from year to year. The godly patrician house in Meng Street, where, by the way, such good dinners were to be had, had been known for years as a spiritual haven to the Lutheran and reformed clergy and to both foreign and home missions. From all quarters of the Fatherland came long-haired, black-coated gentlemen, to enjoy the pious intercourse and the nourishing meals, and to be furnished with the sinews of their spiritual warfare. The ministers of the town went in and out as friends of the house.

Tom was much too discreet and prudent even to let any one see him smile; but Tony mocked quite openly. She even, sad to say, made fun of these pious worthies whenever she had a chance.

Sometimes when the Frau Consul had a headache, it was Tony’s turn to play the housekeeper and order the dinner. One day, when a strange clergyman whose appetite was the subject of general hilarity, was a guest, Tony mischievously ordered “bacon broth,” the famous local dish: a bouillon made with sour cabbage, in which was served the entire meal—ham, potatoes, beet-root, cauliflower, peas, beans, pears, sour plums, and goodness knows what, juice and all—a[243] dish which nobody except those born to it could possibly eat.

“I do hope you are enjoying the soup, Herr Pastor,” she said several times. “No? Oh, dear, who would have thought it?” And she made a very roguish face, and ran her tongue over her lips, a trick she had when she thought of some prank or other.

The fat man laid down his spoon resignedly and said mildly: “I will wait till the next course.”

“Yes,” the Frau Consul said hastily, “there is a little something afterwards.” But a “next course” was unthinkable, after this mighty dish; and despite the French toast and apple jelly which finished the meal, the reverend guest had to rise hungry from table, while Tony tittered, and Tom, with fine self-control, lifted one eyebrow.

Another time Tony stood with Stina, the cook, in domestic discourse in the entry, when Pastor Mathias from Kannstadt, who was stopping a few days in the house, came back from a walk and rang at the outer door. Stina ran to open, with her peasant waddle, and the Pastor, with the view of saying an edifying word and testing her a little, asked in a friendly tone: “Do you love the Master?”

Perhaps he had the idea of giving her a tip if she professed herself on the side of the Saviour.

“Lord, Herr Pastor,” said Stina, trembling and blushing, with wide eyes. “Which one do Herr Pastor mean? T’ old un or t’ young un?” Madame Grünlich did not fail to tell the story at the table, so that even the Frau Consul burst out into her sputtering Kröger laugh. The Consul, however, looked down in displeasure at his plate.

“A misunderstanding,” said Herr Mathias, highly embarrassed.



What follows happened in the late summer of 1855, on a Sunday afternoon. The Buddenbrooks were sitting in the landscape-room waiting for the Consul, who was below dressing himself. They had arranged to take a holiday walk to a pleasure garden outside the City Gate, where, all except Clara and Clothilde, they were to drink coffee and, if the weather permitted, go for a row on the river. Clara and Clothilde went always on Sunday evenings to the house of a friend, where they knitted stockings for little negro children.

“Papa is ridiculous,” Tony said, using her habitual strong language. “Can he never be ready on time? He sits and sits and sits at his desk: something or other must be finished—good heavens, perhaps it is something really necessary, I don’t know. But I don’t believe we should actually become bankrupt if he put down his pen a quarter of an hour sooner. Well, when it is already ten minutes too late, he remembers his appointment and comes upstairs, always two steps at a time, although he knows he will get palpitation at the top. And it is like that at every company, before every expedition. Isn’t it possible for him to leave himself time enough? And stop soon enough? It’s so irresponsible of him; you ought to talk to him about it, Mamma.” She sat on the sofa beside her Mother, dressed in the changeable silk that was fashionable that summer; while the Frau Consul wore a heavy grey ribbed silk trimmed with black lace, and a cap of lace and stiffened tulle, tied under her chin with a satin bow. The lappets of her cap fell down on her breast. Her smooth hair was still inexorably reddish-blond in colour, and she held a work-bag in both her white delicately veined hands. Tom was[245] lounging in an easy-chair beside her smoking his cigarette, while Clara and Clothilde sat opposite each other at the window. It was a mystery how much good and nourishing food that poor Clothilde could absorb daily without any result whatever! She grew thinner and thinner, and her shapeless black frock did not conceal the fact. Her face was as long, straight, and expressionless as ever, her hair as smooth and ash-coloured, her nose as straight, but full of large pores and getting thick at the end.

“Don’t you think it will rain?” said Clara. The young girl had the habit of not elevating her voice at the end of a question and of looking everybody straight in the face with a pronounced and rather forbidding look. Her brown frock was relieved only by a little stiff turn-over collar and cuffs. She sat straight up, her hands in her lap. The servants had more respect for her than for any one else in the family; it was she who held the services morning and evening now, for the Consul could not read aloud without getting a feeling of oppression in the head.

“Shall you take your new Baschlik?” she asked again. “The rain will spoil it. It would be a pity. I think it would be better to put off the party.”

“No,” said Tom. “The Kistenmakers are coming. It doesn’t matter. The barometer went down so suddenly—. There will be a storm—it will pour, but not last long. Papa is not ready yet; so we can wait till it is over.”

The Frau Consul raised a protesting hand. “You think there will be a severe storm, Tom? You know I am afraid of them.”

“No,” Tom answered. “I was down at the harbour this morning talking to Captain Kloot. He is infallible. There will be a heavy rain, but no wind.”

The second week in September had brought belated hot weather with it. There was a south-west wind, and the city suffered more than in July. A strange-looking dark blue sky hung above the roof-tops, pale on the skyline as it is in the[246] desert. After sunset a sultry breath, like a hot blast from an oven, streamed out of the small houses and up from the pavement of the narrow streets. To-day the wind had gone round to the west, and at the same time the barometer had fallen sharply. A large part of the sky was still blue, but it was slowly being overcast by heavy grey-blue clouds that looked like feather pillows.

Tom added: “It would be a good thing if it did rain, I think. We should collapse if we had to walk in this atmosphere. It is an unnatural heat. Hotter than it ever was in Pau.”

Ida Jungmann, with little Erica’s hand in hers, came into the room. The child looked a droll little figure in her stiffly starched cotton frock; she smelled of starch and soap. She had Herr Grünlich’s eyes and his rosy skin, but the upper lip was Tony’s.

The good Ida was already quite grey, almost white, although not out of the forties. It was a trait of her family: the uncle that died had had white hair at thirty. But her little brown eyes looked as shrewd and faithful as ever. She had been now for twenty years with the Buddenbrooks, and she realized with pride that she was indispensable. She oversaw kitchen, larders, linen and china cupboards, she made the most important purchases, she read to little Erica, made clothes for her dolls, and fetched her from school, with a slice of French bread, to take her walking on the Mill-wall. Every lady said to Frau Consul or her daughter: “What a treasure your Mamsell is, my dear! Goodness, she is worth her weight in gold! Twenty years—and she will be useful at sixty and more; these wiry people are. What faithful eyes she has! I envy you, my love.” But Ida Jungmann was very reserved. She knew her own position, and when some ordinary nurse-girl came and sat down with her charge on the same bench and tried to enter into conversation, Ida Jungmann would say: “There is a draught here, Erica,” and get up and go.

[247]Tony drew her little daughter to her and kissed the rosy cheeks, and the Frau Consul stretched out her hand with rather an absent smile; for she was looking anxiously at the sky, which grew darker and darker. Her left hand fingered the sofa pillows nervously, and her light eyes wandered restlessly to the window.

Erica was allowed to sit next her Grandmother, and Ida sat up straight on a chair and began to knit. Thus all waited silently for the Consul. The air was heavy. The last bit of blue had disappeared; the dark grey sky lowered heavy and swollen over them. The colours in the room changed, the yellow of furniture and hangings and the tones of the landscapes on the walls were all quenched, like the gay shades in Tony’s frock and the brightness of their eyes. Even the west wind, which had been playing in the churchyard of St. Mary’s and whirling the dust around in the darkening street, was suddenly quiet.

This breathless moment of absolute calm came without warning, like some unexpected, soundless, awful event. The sultriness grew heavier, the atmosphere seemed to increase its weight in a second; it oppressed the brain, it rested on the heart, it prevented the breathing. A swallow flew so low over the pavement that its wings touched. And this pressure that one could not lift, this tension, this growing weight on the whole organism, would have become unbearable had it lasted even the smallest part of a second longer, if at its height there had not come a relief, a release—a little break somewhere, soundless, yet perceptible; and at the same moment, without any premonitory drops, the rain fell down in sheets, filling the gutters and overflowing the pavements.

Thomas, whose illness had taught him to pay attention to his nerves, bent over in this second, made a motion toward his head, and flung away his cigarette. He looked around the circle to see if the others had felt anything. He thought his Mother had, perhaps; the others did not seem to be aware. The Frau Consul was looking out now into the thick-streaming[248] rain, which quite hid the church from view; she sighed “Thank God.”

“There,” said Tony, “that will cool the air in two minutes. But the drops will be hanging on the trees outside—we can drink coffee in the verandah. Open the window, Tilda.”

The noise of the rain grew louder. It almost roared. Everything pattered, streamed, rushed, foamed. The wind came up and blew the thick veils of water, tore them apart, and flung them about. It grew cooler every minute.

Lina, the maid-servant, came running through the hall and burst so suddenly into the room that Ida Jungmann called out sharply: “I say, what do you mean—?” Lina’s expressionless blue eyes were wide open, her jaws worked without making a sound—

“Oh, Frau Consul,” she got out, at last. “Come, come quick! oh, what a scare—”

“Yes,” Tony said, “she’s probably broken something again. Very likely the good porcelain. Oh, these servants of yours, Mamma!”

But the girl burst out: “Oh, no, Ma’am Grünlich—if that’s all it was!—It’s the Master—I were bringing him his boots, and there he sits and can’t speak, on his chair, and I says to myself, there’s something wrong there; the Herr Consul—”

“Get Grabow,” cried Thomas and ran out of the room.

“My God—oh, my God!” cried the Frau Consul, putting her hands to her face and hurrying out.

“Quick, get a wagon and fetch Grabow,” Tony repeated breathlessly.

Everybody flew downstairs and through the breakfast-room into the bedroom.

But Johann Buddenbrook was already dead.






Good evening, Justus,” said the Frau Consul. “How are you? Sit down.”

Consul Kröger embraced her tenderly and shook hands with his elder niece, who was also present in the dining-room. He was now about fifty-five years old, and wore a heavy round whisker as well as his moustache, leaving his chin free. It was quite grey. His scanty hair was carefully combed over the broad pink expanse of his skull. The sleeve of his elegant frock-coat had a broad mourning band.

“Do you know the latest, Betsy?” he asked. “Yes, Tony, this will particularly interest you. To put it briefly, our property outside the Castle Gate is sold—guess to whom? Not to one man, but to two: for the house is to be pulled down, and a hedge run through diagonally, and Benthien will build himself a dog-kennel on the right side, and Sorenson one on the left. God bless us!”

“Whoever heard the like?” said Frau Grünlich, folding her hands in her lap and gazing up at the ceiling. “Grandfather’s property! Well, now the estate is all haggled up. Its great charm was its extent: there was really too much of it, but that was what made it elegant. The large garden, all the way down to the Trave, the house set far back with the drive, and the chestnut avenue. So it is to be divided. Benthien will stand in front of one door and Sorenson in front of the other. I say, ‘God bless us,’ too, Uncle Justus! I suppose there is nobody grand enough these days to occupy the whole thing. It is good that Grandpapa is not here to see it.”

The sense of mourning still lay too heavily on the air for Tony to give expression to her outraged feelings in livelier or[252] stronger terms. It was the day on which the will had been read, two weeks after the death of the Consul, at half-past five in the afternoon. Frau Consul Buddenbrook had invited her brother to Meng Street, in order that he might talk over the provisions made by the deceased with Thomas and with Herr Marcus the confidential clerk. Tony had announced her intention to be present at the settlements. This attention, she said, she owed to the firm as well as to the family, and she took pains to give the meeting the character of a family council. She had closed the curtains, and despite the two oil lamps on the green-covered dining-table, drawn out to its full extent, she had lighted all the candles in the great gilded candelabrum as well. And, though there was no particular need of them, she had put on the table a quantity of writing paper and sharpened pencils.

Tony’s black frock gave her figure a maidenly slimness. She, of them all, was perhaps most deeply moved by the death of the Consul, to whom she had drawn so close in the last months that even to-day the thought of him made her burst out twice in bitter weeping; yet the prospect of this family council, this solemn little conference in which she could bear a worthy part, had power to flush her pretty cheek, brighten her glance, and give her motions dignity and even joy. The Frau Consul, on the other hand, worn with anxiety and grief and the thousand formalities of the funeral and the mourning, looked ailing. Her face, framed in the black lace of her cap-strings, seemed paler, and her light-blue eyes were tired and dull. But there was not a single white hair to be seen in her smooth red-blonde coiffure. Was this still the Parisian tonic, or was it the wig? Mamsell Jungmann alone knew, and she would not have betrayed the secret even to the other ladies of the family.

They sat at the end of the table and waited for Herr Marcus and Thomas to come out of the office. The painted statues seemed to stand out white and proud on their pedestals against the sky-blue background.

[253]The Frau Consul said: “The thing is—I bade you come, my dear Justus—in short, it is about Clara, the child. My beloved husband left to me the choice of a guardian for her—she will need one for three years. I know you do not want to be overburdened with responsibilities. You have duties to your wife and sons—”

“My son, Betsy.”

“Yes, yes, we must be Christlike and merciful, Justus. As we forgive our debtors, it says. Think of our gracious Father in Heaven.”

Her brother looked at her, a little aggrieved. Such turns of phrase had come in the past only from the mouth of the Consul.

“Enough,” she went on. “There are as good as no obligations connected with this service of love. I should like to ask you to accept it.”

“Gladly, Betsy; of course, I’ll do it with pleasure. May I not see my ward? A little too serious, isn’t she, the good child—?” Clara was called. She slowly appeared, all black and pallid, her movements melancholy and full of restraint. She had spent the time since her father’s death in her room praying almost without ceasing. Her dark eyes were immobile; she seemed frozen with grief and awe.

Uncle Justus the gallant stepped up to her, bowed as he pressed her hand, and murmured something appropriate. She went out, after receiving the Frau Consul’s kiss on her stiff lips.

“How is Jürgen?” began the Frau Consul again. “Does it agree with him in Wismar?”

“Very well,” answered Justus Kröger, sitting down again with a shrug of the shoulders. “I think he has found his place now. He is a good lad, Betsy, a lad of principle, but—after he had failed twice in the examination, it seemed best— He did not like the law himself, and the position in the post-office at Wismar is quite suitable. Tell me—I hear Christian is coming?”

[254]“Yes, Justus, he is coming. May God watch over him on the seas! I wrote to him the next day after Jean’s death, but he hasn’t even had the letter yet, and then he will take about two months with the sailing-vessel after that. But he must come, Justus; I must see him. Tom says Jean would never have been willing for Christian to give up his position in Valparaiso; but I ask you—nearly eight years since I have seen him! And then, under the circumstances! No, I must have them all about me in this painful time—that is a natural feeling for a mother.”

“Surely, surely,” said Consul Kröger; for she had begun to weep.

“Thomas agrees with me now, too,” she went on; “for where will Christian be better off than in his own father’s business, in Tom’s business? He can stay here, work here. I have been in constant fear that the climate over there might be bad for him—”

Thomas Buddenbrook, accompanied by Herr Marcus, came into the room. Friederich Wilhelm Marcus, for years the dead Consul’s confidential clerk, was a tall man in a brown-skirted coat with a mourning band. He spoke softly, hesitatingly, stammering a little and considering each word before he uttered it. He had a habit of slowly and cautiously stroking the red-brown moustache that grew over his mouth with the extended middle and index fingers of his left hand; or he would rub his hands together and let his round brown eyes wander so aimlessly about that he gave the impression of complete confusion and absent-mindedness, though he was always most watchfully bent on the matter in hand.

Thomas Buddenbrook, now the youthful head of the great house, displayed real dignity in manner and bearing. But he was pale. His hands in particular, on one of which shone the Consul’s signet ring with the green stone, were as white as the cuffs beneath his black sleeves—a frozen whiteness which showed that they were quite dry and cold. He had extraordinarily sensitive hands, with beautifully cared-for[255] oval bluish fingernails. Sometimes, in a difficult situation, they would take positions or make little nervous movements that were indescribably expressive of shrinking sensibility and painful reserve. This was an individual trait strange heretofore to the rather broad, though finely articulated Buddenbrook hand.

Tom’s first care was to open the folding doors into the landscape-room in order to get the benefit of the warmth from the stove burning there behind the wrought-iron lattice. Then he shook hands with Consul Kröger and sat down at the table with Herr Marcus opposite him. He looked at his sister Tony, and his eyebrow went up in surprise. But she flung her head back and tucked in her chin in a way that warned him to suppress any comment on her presence.

“Well, and one may not say Herr Consul?” asked Justus Kröger. “The Netherlands hope in vain that you should represent them, Tom, my dear chap?”

“Yes, Uncle Justus, I thought it was better. You see, I could have taken over the Consulate along with so many other responsibilities, but in the first place I am a little too young—and then I spoke to Uncle Gotthold, and he was very pleased to accept it.”

“Very sensible, my lad; very politic. And very gentlemanly.”

“Herr Marcus,” said the Frau Consul, “my dear Herr Marcus!” And with her usual sweeping gesture she reached out her hand, which he took slowly, with a respectful side-glance: “I have asked you to come up—you know what the affair is; and I know that you are agreed with us. My beloved husband expressed in his final arrangements the wish that after his death you would put your loyal and well-tried powers at the service of the firm, not as an outsider but as partner.”

“Certainly, Frau Consul,” said Herr Marcus, “I must protest that I know how to value the honour your offer does me, being aware, as I am, that the resources I can bring to the firm are but small. In God’s name, I know nothing better to[256] do than thankfully to accept the offer you and your son make me.”

“Yes, Marcus. And I thank you in my turn, most warmly, for your willingness to share with me the great responsibilities which would perhaps be too heavy for me alone.” Thomas Buddenbrook spoke quickly and whole-heartedly, reaching his hand across the table to his partner; for they were already long since agreed on the subject, and this was only the formal expression.

“Company is trumpery—you will spoil our chat, between you,” said Consul Kröger. “And now, shall we run through the provisions, my children? All I have to look out for is the dowry of my ward. The rest is not my affair. Have you a copy of the will here, Betsy? And have you made a rough calculation, Tom?”

“I have it in my head,” said Thomas; and he began, leaning back, looking into the landscape-room, and moving his gold pencil back and forth on the table, to explain how matters stood. The truth was that the Consul’s estate was more considerable than any one had supposed. The dowry of his oldest daughter, indeed, was gone, and the losses which the firm had suffered in the Bremen failure in 1851 had been a heavy blow. And the year ’48, as well as the present year ’55, with their unrest and interval of war, had brought losses. But the Buddenbrook share of the Kröger estate of four hundred thousand current marks had been full three hundred thousand, for Justus had already had much of his beforehand. Johann Buddenbrook had continually complained, as a merchant will; but the losses of the firm had been made good by the accrued profits of some fifteen years, amounting to thirty thousand thaler, and thus the property, aside from real estate, amounted in round figures, to seven hundred thousand marks.

Thomas himself, with all his knowledge of the business, had been left in ignorance by his father of this total. The Frau Consul took the announcement with discreet calm; Tony put on an adorable expression of pride and ignorance, and then[257] could not repress an anxious mental query: Is that a lot? Are we very rich now? Herr Marcus slowly rubbed his hands, apparently in absence of mind, and Consul Kröger was obviously bored. But the sum filled Tom himself, as he stated it, with such a rush of excited pride that the effort at self-control made him seem dejected. “We must have already passed the million,” he said. He controlled his voice, but his hands trembled. “Grandfather could command nine hundred thousand marks in his best time; and we’ve made great efforts since then, and had successes, and made fine coups here and there. And Mamma’s dowry, and Mamma’s inheritance! There was the constant breaking-up—well, good heavens, that lay in the nature of things! Please forgive me if I speak just now in the sense of the firm and not of the family. These dowries and payments to Uncle Gotthold and to Frankfort, these hundreds of thousands which had to be drawn out of the business—and then there were only two heirs beside the head of the firm. Good; we have our work cut out for us, Marcus.” The thirst for action, for power and success, the longing to force fortune to her knees, sprang up quick and passionate in his eyes. He felt all the world looking at him expectantly, questioning if he would know how to command prestige for the firm and the family and protect its name. On exchange he had been meeting measuring side-looks out of jovial, mocking old eyes, that seemed to be saying “So you’re taking it on, my son!” “I am!” he thought.

Friederich Wilhelm Marcus rubbed his hands circumspectly, and Justus Kröger said: “Quietly, quietly, my dear chap. Times aren’t what they were when your grandfather was a Prussian army contractor.”

There began now a detailed conversation upon the provisions of the will, in which they all joined, and Consul Kröger took a lighter tone, referring to Thomas as “his Highness the reigning Prince” and saying, “The warehouses will go with the crown, according to tradition.” In general, of course, it was decided that as far as possible everything should be left together,[258] that Frau Elizabeth Buddenbrook should be considered the sole heir, and that the entire property should remain in the business. Herr Marcus announced that as partner he should be able to strengthen the working capital by a hundred and twenty thousand marks current. A sum of fifty thousand marks was set aside as a private fortune for Thomas, and the same for Christian, in case he wished to establish himself separately. Justus Kröger paid close attention to the passage that ran: “The fixing of the dowry of my beloved daughter Clara I leave to the discretion of my dear wife.” “Shall we say a hundred thousand?” he suggested, leaning back, one leg crossed over the other, and turning up his short grey moustache with both hands. He was affability itself. But the sum was fixed at eighty thousand. “In case of a second marriage of my dearly loved older daughter Antonie, in view of the fact that eighty thousand marks have already been applied to her first marriage, the sum of seventeen thousand thaler current must not be exceeded.” Frau Antonie waved her arm with a graceful but excited gesture which tossed back her flowing sleeve; she looked at the ceiling and said loudly: “Grünlich, indeed!” It sounded like a challenge, like a little trumpet-call. “You know, Herr Marcus,” she said, “about that man. We are sitting, one fine afternoon, perfectly innocent, in the garden, in front of the door—you know the portal, Herr Marcus. Well! Who appears? a person with gold-coloured whiskers—the scoundrel!”

“Yes,” Thomas said. “We will talk about Herr Grünlich afterward.”

“Very well; but you are a clever creature, and you will admit, Tom, that in this life things don’t always happen fairly and squarely. That’s been my experience, though a short time ago I was too simple to realize it.”

“Yes,” Tom said. They went into detail, noting the Consul’s instructions about the great family Bible, about his diamond buttons, and many, many other matters.

Justus Kröger and Herr Marcus stopped for supper.



In the beginning of February, 1856, after eight years’ absence, Christian Buddenbrook returned to the home of his fathers. He arrived in the post-coach from Hamburg, wearing a yellow suit with a pattern of large checks, that had a distinctly exotic look. He brought the bill of a swordfish and a great sugar-cane, and received the embraces of his mother with a half-embarrassed, half absent air.

He wore the same air when, on the next afternoon after his arrival, the family went to the cemetery outside the Castle Gate to lay a wreath on the grave. They stood together on the snowy path in front of the large tablet on which were the names of those resting there, surrounding the family arms cut in the stone. Before them was the upright marble cross that stood at the edge of the bare little churchyard grove. They were all there except Clothilde, who was at Thankless, nursing her ailing father.

Tony laid the wreath on the tablet, where her father’s name stood on the stone in fresh gold letters: then, despite the snow, she knelt down by the grave to pray. Her black veil played about her, and her full skirt lay spread out in picturesque folds. God alone knew how much grief and religious emotion—and, on the other hand, how much of a pretty woman’s self-conscious pleasure—there was in the bowed attitude. Thomas was not in the mood to think about it. But Christian looked sidewise at his sister with a mixture of mockery and misgiving, as if to say: “Can you really carry that off? Shan’t you feel silly when you get up? How uncomfortable!” Tony caught this look as she rose, but she was not in the least put out. She tossed her head back, arranged[260] her veil and skirt, and turned with dignified assurance to go; whereupon Christian was obviously relieved.

The deceased Consul’s fanatical love of God and of the Saviour had been an emotion foreign to his forebears, who never cherished other than the normal, every-day sentiments proper to good citizens. The two living Buddenbrooks had in their turn their own idiosyncrasies. One of these appeared to be a nervous distaste for the expression of feeling. Thomas had certainly felt the death of his father with painful acuteness, much as his grandfather had felt the loss of his. But he could not sink on his knees by his grave. He had never, like his sister Tony, flung himself across the table sobbing like a child; and he shrank from hearing the heart-broken words in which Madame Grünlich, from roast to dessert, loved to celebrate the character and person of her dead father. Such outbursts he met with composed silence or a reserved nod. And yet, when nobody had mentioned or was thinking of the dead, it would be just then that his eyes would fill with slow tears, although his facial expression remained unchanged.

It was different with Christian. He unfortunately did not succeed in preserving his composure at the naïve and childish outpourings of his sister. He bent over his plate, turned his head away, and looked as though he wanted to sink through the floor; and several times he interrupted her with a low, tormented “Good God, Tony!” his large nose screwed into countless tiny wrinkles.

In fact, he showed disquiet and embarrassment whenever the conversation turned to the dead. It seemed as though he feared and avoided not only the indelicate expression of deep and solemn feeling, but even the feeling itself.

No one had seen him shed a tear over the death of his father; and his long absence alone hardly explained this fact. A more remarkable thing, however, was that he took his sister Tony aside again and again to hear in vivid detail the events[261] of that fatal afternoon; for Madame Grünlich had a gift of lively narration.

“He looked yellow?” he asked for the fifth time. “What was it the girl shrieked when she came running in to you? He looked quite yellow, and died without saying another word? What did the girl say? What sort of sound was it he made?” Then he would be silent—silent a long time—while his small deep-set eyes travelled round the room in thought.

“Horrible,” he said suddenly, and a visible shudder ran over him as he got up. He would walk up and down with the same unquiet and brooding eyes. Madame Grünlich felt astonished to see that her brother, who for some unknown reason was so embarrassed when she bewailed her father aloud, liked to reproduce with a sort of dreadful relish the dying efforts to speak which he had inquired about in detail of Lina the maid-servant.

Christian had certainly not grown better looking. He was lean and pallid. The skin was stretched over his skull very tightly; his large nose, with a distinct hump, stuck out fleshless and sharp between his cheek-bones, and his hair was already noticeably scantier. His neck was too thin and long and his lean legs decidedly bowed. His London period seemed to have made a lasting impression upon him. In Valparaiso, too, he had mostly associated with Englishmen; and his whole appearance had something English about it which somehow seemed rather appropriate. It was partly the comfortable cut and durable wool material of his clothing, the broad, solid elegance of his boots, his crotchety expression, and the way in which his red-blond moustache drooped over his mouth. Even his hands had an English look: they were a dull porous white from the hot climate, with round, clean, short-trimmed nails.

“Tell me,” he said, abruptly, “do you know that feeling—it is hard to describe—when you swallow something hard, the[262] wrong way, and it hurts all the way down your spine?” His whole nose wrinkled as he spoke.

“Yes,” said Tony; “that is quite common. You take a drink of water—”

“Oh,” he said in a dissatisfied tone. “No, I don’t think we mean the same thing.” And a restless look floated across his face.

He was the first one in the house to shake off his mourning and re-assume a natural attitude. He had not lost the art of imitating the deceased Marcellus Stengel, and he often spoke for hours in his voice. At the table he asked about the theatre—if there were a good company and what they were giving.

“I don’t know,” said Tom, with a tone that was exaggeratedly indifferent, in order not to seem irritated. “I haven’t noticed lately.”

But Christian missed this altogether and went on to talk about the theatre. “I am too happy for words in the theatre. Even the word ‘theatre’ makes me feel happy. I don’t know whether any of you have that feeling. I could sit for hours and just look at the curtain. I feel as I used to when I was a child and we went in to the Christmas party here. Even the sound of the orchestra beforehand! I would go if only to hear that and nothing more. I like the love scenes best. Some of the heroines have such a fetching way of taking their lovers’ heads between their hands. But the actors—in London and Valparaiso I have known a lot of actors. At first I was very proud to get to know them in ordinary life. In the theatre I watched their every movement. It is fascinating. One of them says his last speech and turns around quietly and goes deliberately, without the least embarrassment, to the door, although he knows that the eyes of the whole audience are on his back. How can he do that? I used to be continually thinking about going behind the scenes. But now I am pretty much at home there, I must say. Imagine: once, in an operetta—it was in London—the curtain went up one evening when I was on the stage! I was talking with Miss Waterhouse,[263] a very pretty girl. Well, suddenly there was the whole audience! Good Lord, I don’t know how I got off the stage.”

Madame Grünlich was the only one who laughed, to speak of, in the circle round the table. But Christian went on, his eyes wandering back and forth. He talked about English café-chantant singers; about an actress who came on in powdered wig, and knocked with a long cane on the ground and sang a song called: “That’s Maria.” “Maria, you know—Maria is the most scandalous of the lot. When somebody does something perfectly shocking, why—‘that’s Maria’—the bad lot, you know—utterly depraved!” He said this last with a frightful expression and raised his right hand with the fingers formed into a ring.

Assez, Christian,” said the Frau Consul. “That does not interest us in the least.”

But Christian’s gaze flickered absently over her head; he would probably have stopped without her suggestion, for he seemed to be sunk in a profound, disquieting dream of Maria and her depravity, while his little round deep eyes wandered back and forth.

Suddenly he said: “Strange—sometimes I can’t swallow. Oh, it’s no joke. I find it very serious. It enters my head that perhaps I can’t swallow, and then all of a sudden I can’t. The food is already swallowed, but the muscles—right here—they simply refuse. It isn’t a question of will-power. Or rather, the thing is, I don’t dare really will it.”

Tony cried out, quite beside herself: “Christian! Good Lord, what nonsense! You don’t dare to make up your mind to swallow! What are you talking about? You are absurd!”

Thomas was silent. But the Frau Consul said: That is nerves, Christian. Yes, it was high time you came home; the climate over there would have killed you in the end.

After the meal Christian sat down at the little harmonium that stood in the dining-room and imitated a piano virtuoso. He pretended to toss back his hair, rubbed his hands, and looked around the room; then, without a sound, without[264] touching the bellows—for he could not play in the least, and was entirely unmusical, like all the Buddenbrooks—he bent quite over and began to belabour the bass, played unbelievable passages, threw himself back, looked in ecstasy at the ceiling, and banged the key-board in a triumphant finale. Even Clara burst out laughing. The illusion was convincing; full of assurance and charlatanry and irresistible comicality of the burlesque, eccentric English-American kind; so certain of its own effect that the result was not in the least unpleasant.

“I have gone a great deal to concerts,” he said. “I like to watch how the people behave with their instruments. It is really beautiful to be an artist.”

Then he began to play again, but broke off suddenly and became serious, as though a mask had fallen over his features. He got up, ran his hand through his scanty hair, moved away, and stood silent, obviously fallen into a bad mood, with unquiet eyes and an expression as though he were listening to some kind of uncanny noise.

“Sometimes I find Christian a little strange,” said Madame Grünlich to her brother Thomas, one evening, when they were alone. “He talks so, somehow. He goes so unnaturally into detail, seems to me—or what shall I say? He looks at things in such a strange way; don’t you think so?”

“Yes,” said Tom, “I understand what you mean very well, Tony. Christian is very incautious—undignified—it is difficult to express what I mean. Something is lacking in him—what people call equilibrium, mental poise. On the one hand, he does not know how to keep his countenance when other people make naïve or tactless remarks—he does not understand how to cover it up, and he just loses his self-possession altogether. But the same thing happens when he begins to be garrulous himself, in the unpleasant way he has, and tells his most intimate thoughts. It gives one such an uncanny feeling—it is just the way people speak in a fever, isn’t it? Self-control and personal reserve are both lacking in the same way. Oh, the thing is quite simple: Christian busies himself[265] too much with himself, with what goes on in his own insides. Sometimes he has a regular mania for bringing out the deepest and the pettiest of these experiences—things a reasonable man does not trouble himself about or even want to know about, for the simple reason that he would not like to tell them to any one else. There is such a lack of modesty in so much communicativeness. You see, Tony, anybody, except Christian, may say that he loves the theatre. But he would say it in a different tone, more en passant, more modestly, in short. Christian says it in a tone that says: ‘Is not my passion for the stage something very marvellous and interesting?’ He struggles, he behaves as if he were really wrestling to express something supremely delicate and difficult.”

“I’ll tell you,” he went on after a pause, throwing his cigarette through the wrought-iron lattice into the stove: “I have thought a great deal about this curious and useless self-preoccupation, because I had once an inclination to it myself. But I observed that it made me unsteady, hare-brained, and incapable—and control, equilibrium, is, at least for me, the important thing. There will always be men who are justified in this interest in themselves, this detailed observation of their own emotions; poets who can express with clarity and beauty their privileged inner life, and thereby enrich the emotional world of other people. But the likes of us are simple merchants, my child; our self-observations are decidedly inconsiderable. We can sometimes go so far as to say that the sound of orchestra instruments gives us unspeakable pleasure, and that we sometimes do not dare try to swallow—but it would be much better, deuce take it, if we sat down and accomplished something, as our fathers did before us.”

“Yes, Tom, you express my views exactly. When I think of the airs those Hagenströms put on—oh, Heavens, what truck! Mother doesn’t like the words I use, but I find they are the only right ones. Do you suppose they think they are the only good family in town? I have to laugh, you know; I really do.”



The head of the firm of Johann Buddenbrook had measured his brother on his arrival with a long, scrutinizing gaze. He had given him passing and unobtrusive observation during several days; and then, though he did not allow any sign of his opinion to appear upon his calm and discreet face, his curiosity was satisfied, his mind made up. He talked with him in the family circle in a casual tone on casual subjects and enjoyed himself like the others when Christian gave a performance. A week later he said to him: “Well, shall we work together, young man? So far as I know, you consent to Mamma’s wish, do you not? As you know, Marcus has become my partner, in proportion to the quota he has paid in. I should think that, as my brother, you could ostensibly take the place he had—that of confidential clerk. What your work would be—I do not know how much mercantile experience you have really had. You have been loafing a bit, so far—am I right? Well, in any case, the English correspondence will suit you. But I must beg one thing of you, my dear chap. In your position as brother of the head of the house, you will actually have a superior position to the others; but I do not need to tell you that you will impress them far more by behaving like their equal and doing your duty, than you will by making use of privileges and taking liberties. Are you willing to keep office hours and observe appearances?”

And then he made a proposal in respect of salary, which Christian accepted without consideration, with an embarrassed and inattentive face that betrayed very little love of gain and a great zeal to settle the matter quickly. Next day Thomas led[267] him into the office; and Christian’s labours for the old firm began.

The business had taken its uninterrupted and solid course after the Consul’s death. But soon after Thomas Buddenbrook seized the reins, a fresher and more enterprising spirit began to be noticeable in the management. Risks were taken now and then. The credit of the house, formerly a conception, a theory, a luxury, was consciously strained and utilized. The gentlemen on ’Change nodded at each other. “Buddenbrook wants to make money with both hands,” they said. They thought it was a good thing that Thomas had to carry the upright Friederich Wilhelm Marcus along with him, like a ball and chain on his foot. Herr Marcus’ influence was the conservative force in the business. He stroked his moustache with his two fingers, punctiliously arranged his writing materials and glass of water on his desk, looked at everything on both sides and top and bottom; and, five or six times in the day, would go out through the courtyard into the wash-kitchen and hold his head under the tap to refresh himself.

“They complement each other,” said the heads of the great houses to each other; Consul Huneus said it to Consul Kistenmaker. The small families echoed them; and the dockyard and warehouse hands repeated the same opinion. The whole town was interested in the way young Buddenbrook would “take hold.” Herr Stuht in Bell-Founders’ Street would say to his wife, who knew the best families: “They balance each other, you see.”

But the personality of the business was plainly the younger partner. He knew how to handle the personnel, the ship-captains, the heads in the warehouse offices, the drivers and the yard hands. He could speak their language with ease and yet keep a distance between himself and them. But when Herr Marcus spoke in dialect to some faithful servant it sounded so outlandish that his partner would simply begin to laugh, and the whole office would dissolve in merriment.

Thomas Buddenbrook’s desire to protect and increase the[268] prestige of the old firm made him love to be present in the daily struggle for success. He well knew that his assured and elegant bearing, his tact and winning manners were responsible for a great deal of good trade.

“A business man cannot be a bureaucrat,” he said to Stephan Kistenmaker, of Kistenmaker and Sons, his former school-fellow. He had remained the oracle of this old playmate, who listened to his every word in order to give it out later as his own. “It takes personality—that is my view. I don’t think any great success is to be had from the office alone—at least, I shouldn’t care for it. I always want to direct the course of things on the spot, with a look, a word, a gesture—to govern it with the immediate influence of my will and my talent—my luck, as you call it. But, unfortunately, personal contact is going out of fashion. The times move on, but it seems to me they leave the best behind. Relations are easier and easier; the connections better and better; the risk gets smaller—but the profits do too. Yes, the old people were better off. My grandfather, for example—he drove in a four-horse coach to Southern Germany, as commissary to the Prussian army—an old man in pumps, with his head powdered. And there he played his charms and his talents and made an astonishing amount of money, Kistenmaker. Oh, I’m afraid the merchant’s life will get duller and duller as time goes on.”

It was feelings like these that made him relish most the trade he came by through his own personal efforts. Sometimes, entirely by accident, perhaps on a walk with the family, he would go into a mill for a chat with the miller, who would feel himself much honoured by the visit; and quite en passant, in the best of moods, he would conclude a good bargain. His partner was incapable of that sort of thing.

As for Christian, he seemed at first to devote himself to his task with real zest and enjoyment, and to feel exceptionally well and contented. For several days he ate with[269] appetite, smoked his short pipe, and squared his shoulders in the English jacket, giving expression to his sense of ease and well-being. In the morning he went to the office at about the same time as Thomas, and sat opposite his brother and Herr Marcus in a revolving arm-chair like theirs. First he read the paper, while he comfortably smoked his morning cigarette. Then he would fetch out an old cognac from his bottom desk drawer, stretch out his arms in order to feel himself free to move, say “Well!” and go to work good-naturedly, his tongue roving about among his teeth. His English letters were extraordinarily able and effective, for he wrote English as he spoke it, simply and fluently, without effort.

He gave expression to his mood in his own way in the family circle.

“Business is really a fine, gratifying calling,” he said. “Respectable, satisfying, industrious, comfortable. I was really born to it—fact! And as a member of the house!—well, I’ve never felt so good before. You come fresh into the office in the morning, and look through the paper, smoke, think about this and that, take some cognac, and then go to work. Comes midday; you eat with your family, take a rest, then to work again. You write, on smooth, good business paper, with a good pen, rule, paper-knife, stamp—everything first-class and all in order. You keep at it, get things done one after the other, and finish up. To-morrow is another day. When you go home to supper, you feel thoroughly satisfied—satisfied in every limb. Even your hands—”

“Heavens, Christian,” cried Tony. “What rubbish! How can your hands feel satisfied?”

“Why, yes, of course—can’t you understand that? I mean—” he made a painstaking effort to express and explain. “You can shut your fist, you see. You don’t make a violent effort, of course, because you are tired from your work. But it isn’t flabby; it doesn’t make you feel irritable.[270] You have a sense of satisfaction in it; you feel easy and comfortable—you can sit quite still without feeling bored.”

Every one was silent. Then Thomas said in a casual tone, so as not to show that he disagreed: “It seems to me that one doesn’t work for the sake of—” He broke off and did not continue. “At least, I have different reasons,” he added after a minute. But Christian did not hear. His eyes roamed about, sunk in thought; and he soon began to tell a story of Valparaiso, a tale of assault and murder of which he had personal knowledge. “Then the fellow ripped out his knife—” For some reason Thomas never applauded these tales. Christian was full of them, and Madame Grünlich found them vastly entertaining. The Frau Consul, Clara, and Clothilde sat aghast, and Mamsell Jungmann and Erica listened with their mouths open. Thomas used to make cool sarcastic comments and act as if he thought Christian was exaggerating or hoaxing—which was certainly not the case. He narrated with colour and vividness. Perhaps Thomas found unpleasant the reflection that his younger brother had been about and seen more of the world than he! Or were his feelings of repulsion due to the glorification of disorder, the exotic violence of these knife- and revolver-tales? Christian certainly did not trouble himself over his brother’s failure to appreciate his stories. He was always too much absorbed in his narrative to notice its success or lack of success with his audience, and when he had finished he would look pensively or absently about the room.

But if in time the relations between the two brothers came to be not of the best, Christian was not the one who thought of showing or feeling any animosity against his brother. He silently took for granted the pre-eminence of his elder, his superior capacity, earnestness, and respectability. But precisely this casual, indiscriminate acknowledgment irritated Thomas, for it had the appearance of setting no value upon superior capacity, earnestness, or respectability.

Christian appeared not to notice the growing dislike of the[271] head of the firm. Thomas’s feelings were indeed quite justifiable; for unfortunately Christian’s zeal for business visibly decreased, even after the first week, though more after the second. His little preparations for work, which, in the beginning, wore the air of a prolonged and refined anticipation: the reading of the paper, the after-breakfast cigarette, the cognac, began to take more and more time, and finally used up the whole morning. It gradually came about that Christian freed himself largely from the constraint of office hours. He appeared later and later with his breakfast cigarette to begin his preparations for work; he went at midday to eat at the Club, and came back late or not at all.

This Club, to which mostly unmarried business men belonged, occupied comfortable rooms in the first storey of a restaurant, where one could eat and meet in unrestrained and sometimes not altogether harmless conversation—for there was a roulette table. Even some of the more light-minded fathers of families, like Justus Kröger and, of course, Peter Döhlmann, were members, and police senator Crema was here “the first man at the hose.” That was the expression of Dr. Gieseke—Andreas Gieseke, the son of the Fire Commissioner and Christian’s old schoolmate. He had settled as a lawyer in the town, and Christian renewed the friendship with him, though he ranked as rather a wild fellow. Christian—or, as he was called everywhere, Chris—had known them all more or less in the old days, for nearly all of them had been pupils of Marcellus Stengel. They received him into the Club with open arms; for, while neither business men nor scholars found him a genius, they recognized his amusing social gifts. It was here that he gave his best performances and told his best stories. He did the virtuoso at the club piano and imitated English and transatlantic actors and opera singers. But the best things he did were stories of his affairs with women, related in the most harmless and entertaining way imaginable—adventures that had befallen him on shipboard, on trains, in St. Paul’s, in Whitechapel,[272] in the virgin forest. There was no doubt that Christian’s weakness was for women. He narrated with a fluency and power that entranced his listeners, in an exhaustless stream, with his somewhat plaintive, drawling voice, burlesque and innocent, like an English humourist. He told a story about a dog that had been sent in a satchel from Valparaiso to San Francisco and was mangy to boot. Goodness knew what was the point of the anecdote—in his mouth it was indescribably comic. And while everybody about him writhed with laughter, unable to leave off, he himself sat there cross-legged, a strange, uneasy seriousness in his face with its great hooked nose, his thin, long neck, his sparse light-red hair and little round deep-set eyes. It almost seemed as if the laugh were at his expense, as if they were laughing at him. But that never occurred to him.

At home his favourite tales were about his office in Valparaiso. He told of the extreme heat there, and about a young Londoner, named Johnny Thunderstorm, a ne’er-do-well, an extraordinary chap, whom he had “never seen do a stroke of work, God damn me,” and who yet was a remarkable business man.

“Good God, the heat!” he said. “Well, the chief came into the office—there we all lay, eight of us, like flies, and smoked cigarettes to keep the mosquitoes away. Good God! Well, the chief said: ‘You are not working, gentlemen?’ ‘No, sir,’ says Johnny Thunderstorm, ‘as you see, sir!’ And we all blew our cigarette-smoke in his face. Good God!”

“Why do you keep saying ‘good God’?” asked Thomas irritably. But his irritation was at bottom because he felt that Christian told this story with particular relish just because it gave him a chance to sneer at honest work.

The Mother would discreetly change the subject. There were many hateful things in the world, thought the Frau Consul, born Kröger. Brothers could despise and dislike each other, dreadful as it sounded; but one didn’t mention such things. They had to be covered up and ignored.



In May it happened that Uncle Gotthold—Consul Gotthold Buddenbrook, now sixty years old—was seized with a heart attack one night and died in the arms of his wife, born Stüwing.

The son of poor Madame Josephine had had the worst of it in life, compared with the younger and stronger brother and sister born of Madame Antoinette. But he had long since resigned himself to his fortunes; and in his later years, especially after his nephew turned over to him the Consulate of the Netherlands, he ate his lozenges out of his tin box and harboured the friendliest feelings. It was his ladies who kept up the feud now: not so much his good-natured wife as the three elderly damsels, who could not look at Frau Consul, or Antonie, or Thomas, without a spark in their eyes.

On the traditional “children’s day,” at four o’clock, they all gathered in the big house in Meng Street, to eat dinner and spend the evening. Sometimes Consul Kröger or Sesemi Weichbrodt came too, with her simple sister. On these occasions the three Miss Buddenbrooks from Broad Street loved to turn the conversation to Tony’s former marriage and to dart sharp glances at each other while they egged Madame Grünlich on to use strong language. Or they would make general remarks on the subject of the undignified vanity of dyeing one’s hair. Or they would enquire particularly after Jacob Kröger, the Frau Consul’s nephew. They made jokes at the expense of poor, innocent, Clothilde—jokes not so harmless as those which the charity girl received in good part every day from Tom and Tony. They made fun of Clara’s austerity and bigotry. They were quick to find out that Tom[274] and Christian were not on the best of terms; also, that they did not need to pay much attention to Christian anyhow, for he was a sort of Tom-fool. As for Thomas himself, who had no weak point for them to ferret out, and who always met them with a good-humoured indulgence, that signified “I understand what you mean, and I am very sorry”—him they treated with respect tinctured with bitterness. Next came the turn of little Erica. Rosy and plump as she was, they found her alarmingly backward in her growth. And Pfiffi in a series of little shakes drew attention several times to the child’s shocking resemblance to the deceiver Grünlich.

But now they stood with their mother about their Father’s death-bed, weeping; and a message was sent to Meng Street, though the feeling was not entirely wanting that their rich relations were somehow or other to blame for this misfortune too.

In the middle of the night the great bell downstairs rang; and as Christian had come home very late and was not feeling up to much, Tom set out alone in the spring rain.

He came just in time to see the last convulsive motions of the old gentleman. Then he stood a long time in the death-chamber and looked at the short figure under the covers, at the dead face with the mild features and white whiskers. “You haven’t had a very good time, Uncle Gotthold,” he thought. “You learned too late to make concessions and show consideration. But that is what one has to do. If I had been like you, I should have married a shop girl years ago. But for the sake of appearances—! I wonder if you really wanted anything different? You were proud, and probably felt that your pride was something idealistic; but your spirit had little power to rise. To cherish the vision of an abstract good; to carry in your heart, like a hidden love, only far sweeter, the dream of preserving an ancient name, an old family, an old business, of carrying it on, and adding to it more and more honour and lustre—ah, that takes imagination, Uncle Gotthold, and imagination you didn’t have.[275] The sense of poetry escaped you, though you were brave enough to love and marry against the will of your father. And you had no ambition, Uncle Gotthold. The old name is only a burgher name, it is true, and one cherishes it by making the grain business flourish, and oneself beloved and powerful in a little corner of the earth. Did you think: ‘I will marry her whom I love, and pay no attention to practical considerations, for they are petty and provincial?’ Oh, we are travelled and educated enough to realize that the limits set to our ambition are small and petty enough, looked at from outside and above. But everything in this world is comparative, Uncle Gotthold. Did you know one can be a great man, even in a small place; a Cæsar even in a little commercial town on the Baltic? But that takes imagination and idealism—and you didn’t have it, whatever you may have thought yourself.”

Thomas Buddenbrook turned away. He went to the window and looked out at the dim grey gothic façade of the Town Hall opposite, shrouded in rain. He had his hands behind his back and a smile on his intelligent face.

The office and title of the Royal Consulate of the Netherlands, which Thomas Buddenbrook might have taken after his father’s death, went back to him now, to the boundless satisfaction of Tony Grünlich; and the curving shield with the lions, the arms, and the crown was once more to be seen on the gabled front of the house in Meng Street, under the “Dominus providebit.”

Soon after this was accomplished, in June of the same year, the young Consul set out to Amsterdam on a business journey the duration of which he did not know.



Deaths in the family usually induce a religious mood. It was not surprising, after the decease of the Consul, to hear from the mouth of his widow expressions which she had not been accustomed to use.

But it was soon apparent that this was no passing phase. Even in the last years of the Consul’s life, his wife had more and more sympathized with his spiritual cravings; and it now became plain that she was determined to honour the memory of her dead by adopting as her own all his pious conceptions.

She strove to fill the great house with the spirit of the deceased—that mild and Christlike spirit which yet had not excluded a certain dignified and hearty good cheer. The morning and evening prayers were continued and lengthened. The family gathered in the dining-room, and the servants in the hall, to hear the Frau Consul or Clara read a chapter out of the great family Bible with the big letters. They also sang a few verses out of the hymn-book, accompanied by the Frau Consul on the little organ. Or, often, in place of the chapter from the Bible, they had a reading from one of those edifying or devotional books with the black binding and gilt edges—those Little Treasuries, Jewel-Caskets, Holy Hours, Morning Chimes, Pilgrims’ Staffs, and the like, whose common trait was a sickly and languishing tenderness for the little Jesus, and of which there were all too many in the house.

Christian did not often appear at these devotions. Thomas once chose a favourable moment to disparage the practice, half-jestingly; but his objection met with a gentle rebuff. As for Madame Grünlich, she did not, unfortunately, always conduct[277] herself correctly at the exercises. One morning when there was a strange clergyman stopping with the Buddenbrooks, they were invited to sing to a solemn and devout melody the following words:—

I am a reprobate,
A warped and hardened sinner;
I gobble evil down
Just like the joint for dinner.
Lord, fling thy cur a bone
Of righteousness to chew
And take my carcass home
To Heaven and to you.

Whereat Frau Grünlich threw down her book and left the room, bursting with suppressed giggles.

But the Frau Consul made more demands upon herself than upon her children. She instituted a Sunday School, and on Sunday afternoon only little board-school pupils rang at the door of the house in Meng Street. Stine Voss, who lived by the city wall, and Mike Stuht from Bell-Founders’ Street, and Fike Snut from the river-bank or Groping Alley, their straw-coloured locks smoothed back with a wet comb, crossed the entry into the garden-room, which for a long time now had not been used as an office, and in which rows of benches had been arranged and Frau Consul Buddenbrook, born Kröger, in a gown of heavy black satin, with her white refined face and still whiter lace cap, sat opposite to them at a little table with a glass of sugar-water and catechized them for an hour.

Also, she founded the “Jerusalem evenings,” which not only Clara and Clothilde but also Tony were obliged to attend, willy-nilly. Once a week they sat at the extension-table in the dining-room by the light of lamps and candles. Some twenty ladies, all of an age when it is profitable to begin to look after a good place in heaven, drank tea or bishop, ate delicate sandwiches and puddings, read hymns and sermons aloud to each other, and did embroidery, which at the[278] end of the year was sold at a bazaar and the proceeds sent to the mission in Jerusalem.

This pious society was formed in the main from ladies of the Frau Consul’s own social rank: Frau Senator Langhals, Frau Consul Möllendorpf, and old Frau Consul Kistenmaker belonged; but other, more worldly and profane old ladies, like Mme. Köppen, made fun of their friend Betsy. The wives of the clergymen of the town were all members, likewise the widowed Frau Consul Buddenbrook, born Stüwing, and Sesemi Weichbrodt and her simple sister. There is, however, no rank and no discrimination before Jesus; and so certain humble oddities were also guests at the Jerusalem evenings—for example, a little wrinkled creature, rich in the grace of God and knitting-patterns, who lived in the Holy Ghost Hospital and was named Himmelsburger. She was the last of her name—“the last Himmelsburger,” she called herself humbly, and ran her knitting-needle under her cap to scratch her head.

But far more remarkable were two other extraordinary old creatures, twins, who went about hand in hand through the town doing good deeds, in shepherdess hats out of the eighteenth century and faded clothes out of the long, long ago. They were named Gerhardt, and asserted that they descended in a direct line from Paul Gerhardt. People said they were by no means poor; but they lived wretchedly and gave away all they had. “My dears,” remarked the Frau Consul, who was sometimes rather ashamed of them, “God sees the heart, I know; but your clothes are really a little—one must take some thought for oneself.” But she could not prevent them kissing their elegant friend on the brow with the forebearing, yearning, pitying superiority of the poor in heart over the worldly great who seek salvation. They were not at all stupid. In their homely shrivelled heads—for all the world like ancient parrots—; they had bright soft brown eyes and they looked out at the world with a wonderful expression of gentleness and understanding. Their hearts were[279] full of amazing wisdom. They knew that in the last day all our beloved gone before us to God will come with song and salvation to fetch us home. They spoke the words “the Lord” with the fluent authority of early Christians, as if they had heard out of the Master’s own mouth the words, “Yet a little while and ye shall see me.” They possessed the most remarkable theories concerning inner light and intuition and the transmission of thought. One of them, named Lea, was deaf, and yet she nearly always knew what was being talked about!

It was usually the deaf Gerhardt who read aloud at the Jerusalem evenings, and the ladies found that she read beautifully and very affectingly. She took out of her bag an old book of a very disproportionate shape, much taller than it was broad, with an inhumanly chubby presentment of her ancestor in the front. She held it in both hands and read in a tremendous voice, in order to catch a little herself of what she read. It sounded as if the wind were imprisoned in the chimney:

“If Satan me would swallow.”

“Goodness!” thought Tony Grünlich, “how could Satan want to swallow her?” But she said nothing and devoted herself to the pudding, wondering if she herself would ever become as ugly as the two Miss Gerhardts.

She was not happy. She felt bored and out of patience with all the pastors and missionaries, whose visits had increased ever since the death of the Consul. According to Tony they had too much to say in the house and received entirely too much money. But this last was Tom’s affair, and he said nothing, while his sister now and then murmured something about people who consumed widows’ homes and made long prayers.

She hated these black gentlemen bitterly. As a mature woman who knew life and was no longer a silly innocent,[280] she found herself unable to believe in their irreproachable sanctity. “Mother,” she said, “oh dear, I know I must not speak evil of my neighbours. But one thing I must say, and I should be surprised if life had not taught you that too, and that is that not all those who wear a long coat and say ‘Lord, Lord’ are always entirely without blemish.”

History does not say what Tom thought of his sister’s opinion on this point. Christian had no opinion at all. He confined himself to watching the gentlemen with his nose wrinkled up, in order to imitate them afterward at the club or in the family circle.

But it is true that Tony was the chief sufferer from the pious visitants. One day it actually happened that a missionary named Jonathan, who had been in Arabia and Syria—a man with great, reproachful eyes and baggy cheeks was stopping in the house, and challenged her to assert that the curls she wore on her forehead were consistent with true Christian humility. He had not reckoned with Tony Grünlich’s skill at repartee. She was silent a moment, while her mind worked rapidly; and then out it came. “May I ask you, Herr Pastor, to concern yourself with your own curls?” With that she rustled out, shoulders up, head back, and chin well tucked in. Pastor Jonathan had very few curls on his head—it would be nearer truth to say that he was quite bald.

And once she had an even greater triumph. There was a certain Pastor Trieschke from Berlin. His nickname was Teary Trieschke, because every Sunday he began to weep at an appropriate place in his sermon. Teary Trieschke had a pale face, red eyes, and cheek-bones like a horse’s. He had been stopping for eight or ten days with the Buddenbrooks, conducting devotions and holding eating contests with poor Clothilde, turn about. He happened to fall in love with Tony—not with her immortal soul, oh no, but with her upper lip, her thick hair, her pretty eyes and charming figure. And the man of God, who had a wife and numerous children[281] in Berlin, was not ashamed to have Anton leave a letter in Madame Grünlich’s bedroom in the upper storey, wherein Bible texts and a kind of fawning sentimentality were surpassingly mingled. She found it when she went to bed, read it, and went with a firm step downstairs into the Frau Consul’s bedroom, where by the candle-light she read aloud the words of the soul-saver to her Mother, quite unembarrassed and in a loud voice; so that Teary Trieschke became impossible in Meng Street.

“They are all alike,” said Madame Grünlich; “ah, they are all alike. Oh, heavens, what a goose I was once! But life has destroyed my faith in men. Most of them are scoundrels—alas, it is the truth. Grünlich—” The name was, as always, like a summons to battle. She uttered it with her shoulders lifted and her eyes rolled up.



Sievert Tiburtius was a small, narrow man with a large head and a thin, long, blond beard parted in the middle, so that he sometimes put the ends back over his shoulders. A quantity of little woolly ringlets covered his round head. His ears were large and outstanding, very much curled up at the edges and pointed at the tips like the ears of a fox. His nose sat like a tiny flat button in his face, his cheek-bones stood out, and his grey eyes, usually drawn close together and blinking about rather stupidly, could at certain moments widen quite extraordinarily, and get larger and larger, protruding more and more until they almost sprang out of their sockets.

This Pastor Tiburtius, who came from Riga, had preached for some years in central Germany, and now touched at the town on his way back home, where a living had been offered to him. Armed with the recommendation of a brother of the cloth who had eaten at least once in Meng Street of mock-turtle soup and ham with onion sauce, he waited upon the Frau Consul and was invited to be her guest for a few days. He occupied the spacious guest-chamber off the corridor in the first storey. But he stopped longer than he had expected. Eight days passed, and still there was this or that to be seen: the dance of death and the apostle-clock in St. Mary’s, the Town Hall, the ancient Ships’ Company, the Cathedral clock with the movable eyes. Ten days passed, and he spoke repeatedly of his departure, but at the first word of demur from anybody would postpone anew.

He was a better man than Herr Jonathan or Teary Trieschke. He thought not at all about Frau Antonie’s curls and wrote[283] her no letters. Strange to say, he paid his attentions to Clara, her younger and more serious sister. In her presence, when she spoke, entered or left the room, his eyes would grow surprisingly larger and larger and open out until they nearly jumped out of his head. He would spend almost the entire day in her company, in spiritual or worldly converse or reading aloud to her in his high voice and with the droll, jerky pronunciation of his Baltic home.

Even on the first day he said: “Permit me to say, Frau Consul, what a treasure and blessing from God you have in your daughter Clara. She is certainly a wonderful child.”

“You are right,” replied the Frau Consul. But he repeated his opinion so often that she began looking him over with her pale-blue eyes, and led him on to speak of his home, his connections, and his prospects. She learned that he came of a mercantile family, that his mother was with God, that he had no brothers and sisters, and that his old father had retired and lived on his income in Riga—an income which would sometime fall to him, Pastor Tiburtius. He also had a sufficient living from his calling.

Clara Buddenbrook was now in her nineteenth year. She had grown to be a young lady of an austere and peculiar beauty, with a tall, slender figure, dark, smooth hair, and stern yet dreamy eyes. Her nose was slightly hooked, her mouth a little too firmly closed. In the household she was most intimate with her poor and pious cousin Clothilde, whose father had lately died, and whose idea it was to “establish herself” soon—which meant to go into a pension somewhere with the money and furniture which she had inherited. Clara had nothing of Clothilde’s meek and hungry submissiveness. On the contrary, with the servants and even with her brothers and sister and mother, a commanding tone was usual with her. Her low voice, which seemed only to drop with decision and never to rise with a question, had an imperious sound and could often take on a short, hard, impatient,[284] haughty quality—on days, for example, when Clara had a headache.

Before the father’s death had shrouded the family in mourning, she had taken part with irreproachable dignity in the society of her parents’ house and other houses of like rank. But when the Frau Consul looked at her, she could not deny that, despite the stately dowry and Clara’s domestic prowess, it would not be easy to marry her off. None of the godless, jovial, claret-drinking merchants of their circle would answer in the least; a clergyman would be the only suitable partner for this earnest and God-fearing maiden. After the Frau Consul had conceived this joyful idea, she responded with friendliness to the delicate advances of Pastor Tiburtius.

And truly the affair developed with precision. On a warm, cloudless July afternoon the family took a walk: the Frau Consul, Antonie, Christian, Clara, Clothilde, Erica Grünlich, and Mamsell Jungmann, with Pastor Tiburtius in their midst, went out far beyond the Castle Gate to eat strawberries and clotted milk or porridge at a wooden table laid out-of-doors, going after the meal into the large nut-garden which ran down to the river, in the shade of all sorts of fruit-trees, between currant and gooseberry bushes, asparagus and potato patches.

Sievert Tiburtius and Clara Buddenbrook stopped a little behind the others. He, much the smaller of the two, with his beard parted back over his shoulders, had taken off his broad-brimmed black hat from his big head; and he wiped his brow now and then with his handkerchief. His eyes were larger than usual and he carried on with her a long and gentle conversation, in the course of which they both stood still, and Clara, with a serious, calm voice said her “Yes.”

After they returned, the Frau Consul, a little tired and overheated, was sitting alone in the landscape-room, when Pastor Tiburtius came and sat beside her. Outside there reigned the pensive calm of the Sabbath afternoon; and they sat inside and held, in the brightness of the summer evening,[285] a long, low conversation, at the end of which the Frau Consul said: “Enough, my dear Herr Pastor. Your offer coincides with my motherly plans for my daughter; and you on your side have not chosen badly—that I can assure you. Who would have thought that your coming and your stay here in our house would be so wonderfully blest! I will not speak my final word to-day, for I must write first to my son, the Consul, who is at present, as you know, away. You will travel to-morrow, if you live and have your health, to Riga, to take up your work; and we expect to go for some weeks to the seashore. You will receive word from me soon, and God grant that we shall have a happy meeting.”



Amsterdam, July 30th, 1856

My dear Mother,

I have just received your important letter, and hasten to thank you for the consideration you show me in asking for my consent in the affair under discussion. I send you, of course, not only my hearty agreement, but add my warmest good-wishes, being thoroughly convinced that you and Clara have made a good choice. The fine name Tiburtius is known to me, and I feel sure that Papa had business relations with the father. Clara comes into pleasant connections, in any case, and the position as pastor’s wife will be very suited to her temperament.

And Tiburtius has gone back to Riga, and will visit his bride again in August? Well, it will be a gay time then with us in Meng Street—gayer than you realize, for you do not know the reason why I was so joyfully surprised by Mademoiselle Clara’s betrothal, nor what a charming company it is likely to be. Yes, my dear good Mother: I am complying with the request to send my solemn consent to Clara’s betrothal from the Amstel to the Baltic. But I do so on condition that you send me a similar consent by return of post! I would give three solid gulden to see your face, and even more that of our honest Tony, when you read these lines. But I will come to the point.

My clean little hotel is in the centre of the town with a pretty view of the canal. It is not far from the Bourse; and the business on which I came here—a question of a new and valuable connection, which you know I prefer to look after in person—has gone successfully from the first day. I have still considerable acquaintance here from the days of my apprenticeship; so, although many families are at the shore now,[287] I have been invited out a good deal. I have been at small evening companies at the Van Henkdoms and the Moelens, and on the third day after my arrival I had to put on my dress clothes to go to a dinner at the house of my former chief, van der Kellen, which he had arranged out of season in my honour. Whom did I take in to dinner? Should you like to guess? Fräulein Arnoldsen, Tony’s old school-fellow. Her father, the great merchant and almost greater violin artist, and his married daughter and her husband were also of the party.

I well remember that Gerda—if I may call her so—from the beginning, even when she was a young girl at school at Fräulein Weichbrodt’s on the Millbrink, made a strong impression on me, never quite obliterated. But now I saw her again, taller, more developed, lovelier, more animated. Please spare me a description, which might so easily sound overdrawn—and you will soon see each other face to face.

You can imagine we had much to talk about at the table, but we had left the old memories behind by the end of the soup, and went on to more serious and fascinating matters. In music I could not hold my own with her, for we poor Buddenbrooks know all too little of that, but in the art of the Netherlands I was more at home, and in literature we were fully agreed.

Truly the time flew. After dinner I had myself presented to old Herr Arnoldsen, who received me with especial cordiality. Later, in the salon, he played several concert pieces, and Gerda also performed. She looked wonderful as she played, and although I have no notion of violin playing, I know that she knew how to sing upon her instrument (a real Stradivarius) so that the tears nearly came into my eyes. Next day I went to call on the Arnoldsens. I was received at first by an elderly companion, with whom I spoke French, but then Gerda came, and we talked as on the day before for perhaps an hour, only that this time we drew nearer together and made still more effort to understand and know each other. The talk was of you, Mamma, of Tony, of our good old town, and of my work.

And on that day I had already taken the firm resolve: this[288] one or no one, now or never! I met her again by chance at a garden party at my friend van Svindren’s, and I was invited to a musical evening at the Arnoldsens’, in the course of which I sounded the young lady by a half-declaration, which was received encouragingly. Five days ago I went to Herr Arnoldsen to ask for permission to win his daughter’s hand. He received me in his private office. “My dear Consul,” he said, “you are very welcome, hard as it will be for an old widower to part from his daughter. But what does she say? She has already held firmly to her resolve never to marry. Have you a chance?” He was extremely surprised when I told him that Fräulein Gerda had actually given me ground for hope.

He left her some time for reflection, and I imagine that out of pure selfishness he dissuaded her. But it was useless. She had chosen me—since yesterday evening the betrothal is an accomplished fact.

No, my dear Mother, I am not asking a written answer to this letter, for I am leaving to-morrow. But I am bringing with me the Arnoldsens’ promise that father, daughter, and married sister will visit us in August, and then you will be obliged to confess that she is the very wife for me. I hope you see no objection in the fact that Gerda is only three years younger than I? I am sure you never thought I would marry a chit out of the Möllendorpf-Langhals, Kistenmaker-Hagenström circle.

And now for the dowry. I am almost frightened to think how Stephan Kistenmaker and Hermann Hagenström and Peter Döhlmann and Uncle Justus and the whole town will blink at me when they hear of the dowry. For my future father-in-law is a millionaire. Heavens, what is there to say? We are such complex, contradictory creatures! I deeply love and respect Gerda Arnoldsen; and I simply will not delve deep down enough in myself to find out how much the thought of the dowry, which was whispered into my ear that first evening, contributed to my feeling. I love her: but it crowns my happiness and pride to think that when she becomes mine, our firm will at the same time gain a very considerable increase of capital.

[289]I must close this letter, dear Mother; considering that in a few days, we shall be talking over my good fortune together, it is already too long. I wish you a pleasant and beneficial stay at the baths, and beg you to greet all the family most heartily for me. Your loving and obedient son,




That year there was indeed a merry midsummer holiday in the Buddenbrook home. At the end of July Thomas returned to Meng Street and visited his family at the shore several times, like the other business men in the town. Christian had allotted full holidays unto himself, as he complained of an indefinite ache in his left leg. Dr. Grabow did not seem to treat it successfully, and Christian thought of it so much the more.

“It is not a pain—one can’t call it a pain,” he expatiated, rubbing his hand up and down his leg, wrinkling his big nose, and letting his eyes roam about. “It is a sort of ache, a continuous, slight, uneasy ache in the whole leg and on the left side, the side where the heart is. Strange. I find it strange—what do you think about it, Tom?”

“Well, well,” said Tom, “you can have a rest and the sea-baths.”

So Christian went down to the shore to tell stories to his fellow-guests, and the beach resounded with their laughter. Or he played roulette with Peter Döhlmann, Uncle Justus, Dr. Gieseke, and other Hamburg high-fliers.

Consul Buddenbrook went with Tony, as always when they were in Travemünde, to see the old Schwarzkopfs on the front. “Good day, Ma’am Grünlich,” said the pilot-captain, and spoke low German out of pure good feeling.

“Well, well, what a long time ago that was! And Morten, he’s a doctor in Breslau and has all the practice in the town, the rascal.” Frau Schwarzkopf ran off and made coffee, and they supped in the green verandah as they used to—only all of them were a good ten years older, and Morten[291] and little Meta were not there, she having married the magistrate of Haffkrug. And the captain, already white-haired and rather deaf, had retired from his office—and Madame Grünlich was not a goose any more! Which did not prevent her from eating a great many slices of bread and honey, for, as she said: “Honey is a pure nature product—one knows what one is getting.”

At the beginning of August the Buddenbrooks, like most of the other families, returned to town; and then came the great moment when, almost at the same time, Pastor Tiburtius from Prussia and the Arnoldsens from Holland arrived for a long visit in Meng Street.

It was a very pretty scene when the Consul led his bride for the first time into the landscape-room and took her to his mother, who received her with outstretched arms. Gerda had grown tall and splendid. She walked with a free and gracious bearing; with her heavy dark-red hair, her close-set brown eyes with the blue shadows round them, her large, gleaming teeth which showed when she smiled, her straight strong nose and nobly formed mouth, this maiden of seven-and-twenty years had a strange, aristocratic, haunting beauty. Her face was white and a little haughty, but she bowed her head as the Frau Consul with gentle feeling took it between her hands and kissed the pure, snowy forehead. “Yes, you are welcome to our house and to our family, you dear, beautiful, blessed creature,” she said. “You will make him happy. Do I not see already how happy you make him?” And she drew Thomas forward with her other arm, to kiss him also.

Never, except perhaps in Grandfather’s time, was there more gay society in the great house, which accommodated its guests with ease. Pastor Tiburtius had modestly chosen a bed-chamber in the back building next the billiard-room. But the rest divided the unoccupied space on the ground floor next the hall and in the first storey: Gerda; Herr Arnoldsen, a quick, clever man at the end of the fifties, with a pointed grey beard and a pleasant impetuosity in every motion;[292] his oldest daughter, an ailing-looking woman; and his son-in-law, an elegant man of the world, who was turned over to Christian for entertainment in the town and at the club.

Antonie was overjoyed that Sievert Tiburtius was the only parson in the house. The betrothal of her adored brother rejoiced her heart. Aside from Gerda’s being her friend, the parti was a brilliant one, gilding the family name and the firm with such new glory! And the three-hundred-thousand mark dowry and the thought of what the town and particularly the Hagenströms would say to it, put her in a state of prolonged and delightful enchantment. Three times daily, at least, she passionately embraced her future sister-in-law.

“Oh, Gerda,” she cried, “I love you—you know I always did love you. I know you can’t stand me—you used to hate me; but—”

“Why, Tony!” said Fräulein Arnoldsen. “How could I have hated you? Did you ever do anything to me?” For some reason, however—probably out of mere wantonness and love of talking—Tony asserted stoutly that Gerda had always hated her, while she on her side had always returned the hate with love. She took Thomas aside and told him: “You have done very well, Tom. Oh, heavens, how well you have done! If Father could only see this—it is just dreadful that he cannot! Yes, this wipes out a lot of things—not least the affair with that person whose name I do not even like to speak.”

Which put it into her head to take Gerda into an empty room and tell her with awful detail the story of her married life with Bendix Grünlich. Then they talked for hours about boarding-school days and the bed-time gossip; of Armgard von Schilling in Mecklenburg and Eva Ewers in Munich. Tony paid little or no attention to Sievert Tiburtius and his betrothed—which troubled them not at all. The lovers sat quietly together hand in hand, and spoke gently and earnestly of the beautiful future before them.

As the year of mourning was not quite over, the two betrothals[293] were celebrated only in the family. But Gerda quickly became a celebrity in the town. Her person formed the chief subject of conversation on the Bourse, at the club, at the theatre, and in society. “Tip-top,” said the gallants, and clucked their tongues, for that was the latest Hamburg slang for a superior article, whether a brand of claret, a cigar, or a “deal.” But among the solid, respectable citizens there was much head-shaking. “Something queer about her,” they said. “Her hair, her face, the way she dresses—a little too unusual.” Sorenson expressed it: “She has a certain something about her!” He made a face as if he were on the Bourse and somebody had made him a doubtful proposition. But it was all just like Consul Buddenbrook: a little pretentious, not like his forebears. Everybody knew—not least Benthien the draper—that he ordered his clothes from Hamburg: not only the fine new-fashioned materials for his suits—and he had a great many of them, cloaks, coats, waistcoats, and trousers—but his hats and cravats and linen as well. He changed his shirt every day, sometimes twice a day, and perfumed his handkerchief and his moustache, which he wore cut like Napoleon III. All this was not for the sake of the firm, of course—the house of Johann Buddenbrook did not need that sort of thing—but to gratify his own personal taste for the superfine and aristocratic—or whatever you might call it. And then the quotations from Heine and other poets which he dropped sometimes in the most practical connections, in business or civic matters! And now, his bride—well, Consul Buddenbrook himself had “a certain something” about him! All this, of course, with the greatest respect; for the family was highly esteemed, the firm very, very “good,” and the head of it an able and charming man who loved his city and would still serve her well. It was really a devilishly fine match for him; there was talk of a hundred thousand thaler down; but of course.... Among the ladies there were some who found Gerda “silly”; which, it will be recalled, was a very severe judgment.

[294]But the man who gazed with furious ardour at Thomas Buddenbrook’s bride, the first time he saw her on the street, was Gosch the broker. “Ah!” he said in the club or the Ships’ Company, lifting his glass and screwing up his face absurdly, “what a woman! Hera and Aphrodite, Brunhilda and Melusine all in one! Oh, how wonderful life is!” he would add. And not one of the citizens who sat about with their beer on the hard wooden benches of the old guild-house, under the models of sailing vessels and big stuffed fish hanging down from the ceiling, had the least idea what the advent of Gerda Arnoldsen meant in the yearning life of Gosch the broker.

The little company in Meng Street, not committed, as we have seen, to large entertainments, had the more leisure for intimacy with each other. Sievert Tiburtius, with Clara’s hand in his, talked about his parents, his childhood, and his future plans. The Arnoldsens told of their people, who came from Dresden, only one branch of them having been transplanted to Holland.

Madame Grünlich asked her brother for the key of the secretary in the landscape-room, and brought out the portfolio with the family papers, in which Thomas had already entered the new events. She proudly related the Buddenbrook history, from the Rostock tailor on; and when she read out the old festival verses:

Industry and beauty chaste
See we linked in marriage band:
Venus Anadyomene,
And cunning Vulcan’s busy hand

she looked at Tom and Gerda and let her tongue play over her lips. Regard for historical veracity also caused her to narrate events connected with a certain person whose name she did not like to mention!

On Thursday at four o’clock the usual guests came. Uncle Justus brought his feeble wife, with whom he lived an unhappy[295] existence. The wretched mother continued to scrape together money out of the housekeeping to send to the degenerate and disinherited Jacob in America, while she and her husband subsisted on almost nothing but porridge. The Buddenbrook ladies from Broad Street also came; and their love of truth compelled them to say, as usual, that Erica Grünlich was not growing well and that she looked more than ever like her wretched father. Also that the Consul’s bride wore a rather conspicuous coiffure. And Sesemi Weichbrodt came too, and standing on her tip-toes, kissed Gerda with her little explosive kiss on the forehead and said with emotion: “Be happy, my dear child.”

At table Herr Arnoldsen gave one of his witty and fanciful toasts in honour of the two bridal pairs. While the rest drank their coffee he played the violin, like a gipsy, passionately, with abandonment—and with what dexterity!... Gerda fetched her Stradivarius and accompanied him in his passages with her sweet cantilena. They performed magnificent duets at the little organ in the landscape-room, where once the Consul’s grandfather had played his simple melodies on the flute.

“Sublime!” said Tony, lolling back in her easy-chair. “Oh, heavens, how sublime that is!” And she rolled up her eyes to the ceiling to express her emotions. “You know how it is in life,” she went on, weightily. “Not everybody is given such a gift. Heaven has unfortunately denied it to me, though I used to pray for it at night. I am a goose, a silly creature. You know, Gerda—I am the elder and have learned to know life—let me tell you, you ought to thank your Creator every day on your knees, for being such a gifted creature!”

“Oh, please,” said Gerda, with a laugh, showing her beautiful large white teeth.

Later they all ate wine jelly and discussed their plans for the near future. At the end of that month or the beginning of September, it was decided, Sievert Tiburtius and the Arnoldsens would go home. Then, directly after Christmas,[296] Clara’s wedding would be celebrated with due solemnity in the great hall. The Frau Consul, health permitting, would attend Tom’s wedding in Amsterdam. But it must be put off until the beginning of the next year, that there might be a little pause for rest between. It was no use for Thomas to protest. “Please,” said the Frau Consul, and laid her hand on his sleeve. “Sievert should have the precedence, I think.”

The Pastor and his bride had decided against a wedding journey. Gerda and Thomas, however, were to take a trip to northern Italy, as far as Florence, and be gone about two months. In the meantime Tony, with the help of the upholsterer Jacobs in Fish Street, was to make ready the charming little house in Broad Street, the property of a bachelor who had moved to Hamburg. The Consul was already arranging for its purchase. Oh, Tony would furnish it to the Queen’s taste. “It will be perfect,” she said. They were all sure it would.

Christian looked on while the two bridal pairs held hands, and listened to the talk about weddings and trousseaux and bridal journeys. His nose looked bigger and his legs more crooked than ever. He felt an indefinite sort of pain in the left one, and stared solemnly at them all out of his little round deep-set eyes. Finally, in the accents of Marcellus Stengel, he said to his cousin Clothilde, who sat elderly, dried-up, silent, and hungry, at table among the happy throng: “Well, Tilda, let’s us get married too—I mean, of course each one for himself.”



Some six months later Consul Buddenbrook returned with his bride from Italy. The March snows lay in Broad Street as the carriage drove up at five o’clock before the front door of their simple painted façade. A few children and grown folk had stopped to watch the home-coming pair descend. Frau Antonie Grünlich stood proudly in the doorway, behind her the two servant-maids, with white caps, bare arms, and thick striped skirts—she had engaged them beforehand for her sister-in-law. Flushed with pleasure and industry, she ran impetuously down the steps; Gerda and Thomas climbed out of the trunk-laden carriage wrapped in their furs; and she drew them into the house in her embrace.

“Here you are! You lucky people, to have travelled so far in the world. ‘Knowest thou the house? High-pillared are its walls!’ Gerda, you are more beautiful than ever; here, I must kiss you—no, so, on the mouth. How are you, Tom, old fellow?—yes, I must kiss you too. Marcus says everything has gone well here. Mother is waiting for you at home, but you can first just make yourselves comfortable. Will you have some tea? Or a bath? Everything is ready—you won’t complain. Jacobs did his best—and I have done all I could, too.”

They went together into the vestibule, and the servants brought in the luggage with the help of the coachman. Tony said: “The rooms here in the parterre you will probably not need for the present. For the present,” she repeated, running her tongue over her upper lip. “Look, this is pretty,” and she opened a door directly next the vestibule. “Simple oak furniture, ivy at the windows. Over there, the[298] other side of the corridor, is another room, a larger one. Here on the right are the kitchen and larder. But let’s go up. I will show you everything.” They went up the stairs, which were covered with a dark-red runner. Above, behind a glass partition, was a narrow corridor which led to the dining-room. This had dark-red damask wall-paper, a heavy round table upon which the samovar was steaming, a massive sideboard, and chairs of carved nut-wood, with rush seats. Then there was a comfortable sitting-room upholstered in grey, separated by portières from a small salon with a bay-window and furniture in green striped rep. A fourth of this whole storey was occupied by a large hall with three windows.

Then they went into the sleeping-room, on the right of the corridor. It had flowered hangings and solid mahogany beds. Tony passed on to a small door with open-work carving in the opposite wall, and displayed a winding stair leading from the bedroom to the lower floors, the bathroom, and the servants’ quarters.

“It is pretty here. I shall stop here,” said Gerda, and sank with a deep breath into the reclining-chair beside one of the beds.

The Consul bent over and kissed her forehead. “Tired? I feel like that too. I should like to tidy up a bit.”

“I’ll look after the tea,” said Tony Grünlich, “and wait for you in the dining-room.”

The tea stood steaming in the Meissenware cups when Thomas entered. “Here I am,” he said. “Gerda would like to rest a little. She has a headache. Afterward we will go to Meng Street. Well, how is everything, my dear Tony—all right? Mother, Erica, Christian? But now,” he went on with his most charming manner, “our warmest thanks—Gerda’s too—for all your trouble, you good soul. How pretty you have made everything! Nothing is missing.—I only need a few palms for my wife’s bay-window; and I must look about for some suitable oil paintings. But tell[299] me, now, how are you? What have you been doing all this time?”

He had drawn up a chair for his sister beside himself, and slowly drank his tea and ate a biscuit as they talked.

“Oh, Tom,” she answered. “What should I be doing? My life is over.”

“Nonsense, Tony—you and your life! But it is pretty tiresome, is it?”

“Yes, Tom, it is very tiresome. Sometimes I just have to shriek, out of sheer boredom. It has been nice to be busy with this house, and you don’t know how happy I am at your return. But I am not happy here—God forgive me, if that is a sin. I am in the thirties now, but I’m still not quite old enough to make intimate friends with the last of the Himmelsburgers, or the Miss Gerhardts, or any of mother’s black friends that come and consume widows’ homes. I don’t believe in them, Tom; they are wolves in sheep’s clothing—a generation of vipers. We are all weak creatures with sinful hearts, and when they begin to look down on me for a poor worldling I laugh in their faces. I’ve always thought that all men are the same, and that we don’t need any intercessors between us and God. You know my political beliefs. I think the citizens—”

“Then you feel lonely?” Tom asked, to bring her back to her starting-point. “But you have Erica.”

“Yes, Tom, and I love the child with my whole heart—although a certain person did use to declare that I am not fond of children. But you see—I am perfectly frank; I am an honest woman and speak as I think, without making words—”

“Which is splendid of you, Tony.”

“Well, in short—it is sad, but the child reminds me too much of Grünlich. The Buddenbrooks in Broad Street think she is very like him too. And then, when I see her before me I always think: ‘You are an old woman with a big daughter, and your life is over. Once for a few years you were alive; but now you can grow to be seventy or eighty years[300] old, sitting here and listening to Lea Gerhardt read aloud.’ That is such an awful thought, Tom, that a lump comes in my throat. Because I still feel so young, and still long to see life again. And besides, I don’t feel comfortable—not only in the house; but in the town. You know I haven’t been struck blind. I have my eyes in my head and see how things are; I am not a stupid goose any more, I am a divorced woman—and I am made to feel it, that’s certain. Believe me, Tom, it lies like a weight on my heart, to know that I have besmirched our name, even if it was not any fault of mine. You can do whatever you will, you can earn money and be the first man in the town—but people will still say: ‘Yes, but his sister is a divorced woman.’ Julchen Möllendorpf, the Hagenström girl—she doesn’t speak to me! Oh, well, she is a goose. It is the same with all families. And yet I can’t get rid of the hope that I could make it all good again. I am still young—don’t you think I am still rather pretty? Mamma cannot give me very much again, but even what she can give is an acceptable sum of money. Suppose I were to marry again? To confess the truth, Tom, it is my most fervent wish. Then everything would be put right and the stain wiped out. Oh, if I could only make a match worthy of our name, and set myself up again—do you think it is entirely out of the question?”

“Not in the least, Tony. Heaven forbid! I have always thought of it. But it seems to me that in the first place you must get out a little, have a little change, and brighten up a bit.”

“Yes, that’s it,” she cried eagerly. “Now I must tell you a little story.”

Thomas was well pleased. He leaned back in his chair and smoked his second cigarette. The twilight was coming on.

“Well, then, while you were away, I almost took a situation—a position as companion in Liverpool! Would you have thought it was shocking? Oh, I know it would have been undignified! But I was so wildly anxious to get away. The[301] plan came to nothing. I sent my photograph to the lady, and she wrote that she must decline my services, because I was too pretty—there was a grown son in the house. ‘You are too pretty,’ she wrote! I don’t know when I have been so pleased.”

They both laughed heartily.

“But now I have something else in mind,” went on Tony. “I have had an invitation, from Eva Ewers, to go to Munich. Her name is Eva Niederpaur now; her husband is superintendent of a brewery. Well, she has asked me to visit her, and I think I will take advantage of the invitation. Of course, Erica could not go with me. I would put her in Sesemi Weichbrodt’s pension. She would be well taken care of. Have you any objection?”

“Not at all. It is necessary, in any case, that you should make some new connections.”

“Yes, that’s it,” she said gratefully. “But now, Tom. I have been talking the whole time about myself; I am a selfish thing. Now, tell me your affairs. Oh, Heavens, how happy you must be.”

“Yes, Tony,” he said with emphasis. There was a pause. He blew out the smoke across the table and continued: “In the first place, I am very glad to be married and set up an establishment. You know I should not make a good bachelor. It has a side to it that suggests loneliness and also laziness—and I am ambitious, as you know. I don’t feel that my career is finished, either in business or—to speak half-jestingly—in politics. And a man gains the confidence of the world better if he is a family man and a father. Though I came within an ace of not doing it, after all! I am a bit fastidious. For a long time I thought it would not be possible to find the right person. But the sight of Gerda decided me. I felt at once that she was the only one for me: though I know there are people in town who don’t care for my taste. She is a wonderful creature; there are few like her in the world. She is nothing like you, Tony, to be sure. You are simpler,[302] and more natural too. My lady sister is simply more temperamental,” he continued, suddenly taking a lighter tone. “Oh, Gerda has temperament too—her playing shows that; but she can sometimes be a little cold. In short, she is not to be measured by the ordinary standards. She is an artist, an individual, a puzzling, fascinating creature.”

“Yes, yes,” Tony said. She had given her brother the closest attention. It was nearly dark, and she had not thought of lighting the lamps.

The corridor door opened, and there stood before them in the twilight, in a pleated piqué house-frock, white as snow, a slender figure. The heavy dark-red hair framed her white face, and blue shadows lay about her close-set brown eyes. It was Gerda, mother of future Buddenbrooks.






Thomas Buddenbrook took a solitary early breakfast in his pretty dining-room. His wife usually left her room late, as she was subject to headaches and vapours in the morning. The Consul went at once to Meng Street, where the offices still were, took his second breakfast with his mother, Christian and Ida Jungmann in the entresol, and met Gerda only at dinner, at four in the afternoon.

The ground floor of the old house still preserved the life and movement of a great business; but the upper storeys were empty and lonely. Little Erica had been received as a boarder by Mademoiselle Weichbrodt, and poor Clothilde had moved with her few sticks of furniture into a cheap pension with the widow of a high-school teacher, a Frau Dr. Krauseminz. Even Anton had left the house, and gone over to the young pair, where he was more needed. When Christian was at the club, the Frau Consul and Ida Jungmann sat at four o’clock dinner alone at the round table, in which there was now not a single extra leaf. It looked quite lost in the great spaces of the dining-temple with its images of the gods.

The social life of Meng Street had been extinguished with the death of Consul Johann Buddenbrook. Except for the visits of this or that man of God, the Frau Consul saw no guests but the members of her family, who still came on Thursday afternoons. But the first great dinner had already been given by the young pair in Broad Street. Tables were laid in both dining- and living-room, and there were a hired cook and waiters and Kistenmaker wines. It began at five o’clock, and its sounds and smells were still in the air at eleven. All the business and professional men were present,[306] married pairs and bachelors as well: all the tribe of Langhals, Hagenströms, Huneus’, Kistenmakers, Överdiecks, and Möllendorpfs. It finished off with whist and music. They talked about it in glowing terms on the Bourse for a whole week. The young Frau Consul certainly knew how to entertain! When she and the Consul were alone, in the room lighted by burned-down candles, with the furniture disarranged and the air thick with heavy odours of rich food, wine, cigars, coffee, perfume, and the scent of the flowers from the ladies’ toilettes and the table decorations, he pressed her hand and said: “Very good, Gerda. We do not need to be ashamed. This sort of thing is necessary. I have no great fondness for balls, and having the young people jumping about here; and, besides, there is not room. But we must entertain the settled people. A dinner like that costs a bit more—but it is well spent.”

“You are right,” she had answered, and arranged the laces through which her bosom shimmered like marble. “I much prefer the dinners to the balls myself. A dinner is so soothing. I had been playing this afternoon, and felt a little queer. My brain feels quite dead now. If I were to be struck by lightning I should not change colour.”

Next morning at half-past eleven the Consul sat down beside his Mother at the breakfast-table, and she read a letter aloud to him:

Munich, April 2, 1857

My dear Mother,

I must beg your pardon—it is a shame that I have not written before in the eight days I have been here. My time has been so taken up with all the things there are to see—I’ll tell you about them afterwards. Now I must ask if all the dear ones, you and Tom and Gerda and Erica and Christian and Tilda and Ida, are well—that is the most important thing.

Ah, what all I have seen in these days!—the Pinakothek and[307] the Glyptothek and the Hofbräuhaus and the Court Theatre and the churches, and quantities of other things! I must tell you of them when I see you; otherwise I should kill myself writing. We have also had a drive in the Isar valley, and for to-morrow an excursion to the Wurmsee is arranged. So it goes on. Eva is very sweet to me, and her husband, Herr Niederpaur, the brewery superintendent, is an agreeable man. We live in a very pretty square in the town, with a fountain in the middle, like ours at home in the market place, and the house is quite near the Town Hall. I have never seen such a house. It is painted from top to bottom, in all colours—St. Georges killing dragons, and old Bavarian princes in full robes and arms. Imagine!

Yes, I like Munich extremely. The air is very strengthening to the nerves, and for the moment I am quite in order with my stomach trouble. I enjoy drinking the beer—I drink a good deal, the more so as the water is not very good. But I cannot quite get used to the food. There are too few vegetables and too much flour, for instance in the sauces, which are pathetic. They have no idea of a proper joint of veal, for the butchers cut everything very badly. And I miss the fish. It is quite mad to be eating so much cucumber and potato salad with the beer—my tummy rebels audibly.

Yes, one has to get used to a great deal. It is a real foreign country. The strange currency, the difficulty of understanding the common people—I speak too fast to them and they seem to talk gibberish to me—and then the Catholicism. I hate it, as you know; I have no respect for it—

Here the Consul began to laugh, leaning back in the sofa with a piece of bread and herb cheese in his hand.

“Yes, Tom, you are laughing,” said his Mother, and tapped with her middle finger on the table. “But it pleases me very much that she holds fast to the faith of her fathers and shuns the unevangelical gim-crackery. I know that you felt a certain sympathy for the papal church, while you were in France and Italy: but that is not religion in you, Tom—it is something else, and I understand what. We must be forbearing; yet[308] in these things a frivolous feeling of fascination is very much to be regretted. I pray God that you and your Gerda,—for I well know that she does not belong to those firm in the faith—will in the course of time feel the necessary seriousness. You will forgive your mother her words, I know.”

On top of the fountain (she continued reading) there is a Madonna, and sometimes she is crowned with a wreath, and the common people come with rose garlands and kneel down and pray—which looks very pretty, but it is written: “Go into your chamber.” You often see monks here in the street; they look very respectable. But—imagine, Mamma!—yesterday in Theatiner Street some high dignitary of the church was driving past me in his coach; perhaps it was an archbishop; anyhow, an elderly man—well, this gentleman throws me an ogling look out of the window, like a lieutenant of the Guard! You know, Mother, I’ve no great opinion of your friends the ministers and missionaries, but Teary Trieschke was certainly nothing compared to this rakish old prince of the Church.

“Horrors!” interjected the Frau Consul, shocked.

“That’s Tony, to the life,” said the Consul.

“How is that, Tom?”

“Well, perhaps she just invited him a trifle—to try him, you know. I know Tony. And I am sure the ‘ogling look’ delighted her hugely, which was probably what the old gentleman wanted.”

The Frau Consul did not take this up, but continued to read:

Day before yesterday the Niederpaurs entertained in the evening. It was lovely, though I could not always follow the conversation, and I found the tone sometimes rather questionable. There was a singer there from the Court opera, who sang songs, and a young artist, who asked me to sit for him, which I refused, as I thought it not suitable. I enjoyed myself most with a Herr Permaneder. Would you ever think there[309] could be such a name? He is a hop dealer, a nice, jolly man, in middle life and a bachelor. I had him at table, and stuck to him, for he was the only Protestant in the party. He is a citizen of Munich, but his family comes from Nuremberg. He assured me that he knew our firm very well by name, and you can imagine how it pleased me, Tom, to hear the respectful tone in which he said that. He asked how many there are of us, and things like that. He asked about Erica and Grünlich too. He comes sometimes to the Niederpaurs’, and is probably going to-morrow to Wurmsee with us.

Well, adieu, dear Mamma; I can write no more. If I live and prosper, as you always say, I shall stop here three or four weeks more, and when I come back I will tell you more of Munich, for in a letter it is hard to know where to begin. I like it very much; that I must say—though one would have to train a cook to make decent sauces. You see, I am an old woman, with my life behind me, and I have nothing more to look forward to on earth. But if, for example, Erica should—if she lives and prospers—marry here, I should have nothing against it; that I must say.

Again the Consul was obliged to stop eating and lean back in his chair to laugh.

“She is simply priceless, Mother. And when she tries to dissimulate, she is incomparable. She is a thousand miles away from being able to carry it off.”

“Yes, Tom,” said the Frau Consul, “she is a good child, and deserves good fortune.” And she finished the letter.



At the end of April Frau Grünlich returned home. Another epoch was behind her, and the old existence began again—attending the daily devotions and the Jerusalem evenings and hearing Lea Gerhardt read aloud. Yet she was obviously in a gay and hopeful mood.

Her brother, the Consul, fetched her from the station—she had come from Buchen—and drove her through the Holsten Gate into the town. He could not resist paying her the old compliment—how, next to Clothilde, she was the prettiest one in the family; and she answered: “Oh, Tom, I hate you! To make fun of an old lady like that—”

But he was right, nevertheless: Madame Grünlich kept her good looks remarkably. You looked at the thick ash-blonde hair, rolled at the sides, drawn back above the little ears, and fastened on the top of the head with a broad tortoise-shell comb; at the soft expression of her grey-blue eyes, her pretty upper lip, the fine oval and delicate colour of her face—and you thought of three-and-twenty, perhaps; never of thirty. She wore elegant hanging gold earrings, which, in a somewhat different form, her grandmother had worn before her. A loose bodice of soft dark silk, with satin revers and flat lace epaulettes, gave her pretty bosom an enchanting look of softness and fulness.

She was in the best of tempers. On Thursday, when Consul Buddenbrook and the ladies from Broad Street, Consul Kröger, Clothilde, Sesemi Wiechbrodt and Erica came to tea, she talked vividly about Munich. The beer, the noodles, the artist who wanted to paint her, and the court coaches had made the greatest impressions. She mentioned Herr Permaneder in[311] passing; and Pfiffi Buddenbrook let fall a word or two to the effect that such a journey might be very agreeable, but did not seem to have any practical results. Frau Grünlich passed this by with dignity, though she put back her head and tucked in her chin. She fell into the habit now, whenever the vestibule bell rang through the entry, of hurrying to the landing to see who had come. What might that mean? Probably only Ida Jungmann, Tony’s governess and year-long confidante, knew that. Ida would say, “Tony, my child, you will see: he’ll come.”

The family was grateful to the returned traveller for her cheering presence; for the atmosphere of the house sadly needed brightening. The relations between the head of the firm and his younger brother had not improved. Indeed, they had grown sadly worse. Their Mother, the Frau Consul, followed with anxious misgivings the course of events and had enough to do to mediate between the two. Her hints to visit the office more regularly were received in absent silence by Christian. He met his brother’s remonstrances with a mortified air, making no defence, and for a few days would apply himself with somewhat more zeal to the English correspondence. But there developed more and more in the elder an irritated contempt for the younger brother, not decreased by the fact that Christian received his occasional rebukes without seeming offence, only looking at him with the usual absent disquiet in his eyes.

Tom’s irritable activity and the condition of his nerves would not let him listen sympathetically or even patiently to Christian’s detailed accounts of his increasing symptoms. To his mother or sister, he referred to them with disgust as “the silly phenomena of an obstinate introspection.”

The ache, the indefinite ache in Christian’s left leg, had yielded by now to treatment; but the trouble in swallowing came on often at table, and there was lately a difficulty in breathing, an asthmatic trouble, which Christian thought for several weeks was consumption. He explained its nature and[312] activity at length to his family, his nose wrinkled up the while. Dr. Grabow was called in. He said the heart and lungs were operating soundly, but the occasional difficulty in breathing was due to muscular sluggishness, and ordered first the use of a fan and secondly that of a green powder which one burned, inhaling the smoke. Christian used the fan in the office, and to a remonstrance on the part of the chief answered that in Valparaiso every man in the office was provided with a fan on account of the heat: “Johnny Thunderstorm—good God!” But one day, after he had been wriggling about on his chair for some time, nervous and restless, he took his powder out of his pocket and made such a strong and violent-smelling reek in the room that some of the men began to cough violently, and Herr Marcus grew quite pale. There was an open explosion, a scandal, a dreadful talking-to which would have led to a break at once, but that the Frau Consul once more covered everything all up, reasoned them out of it, and set things going again.

But this was not all. The life Christian led outside the house, mainly with his old schoolmate Lawyer Gieseke, was observed by the Consul with disgust. He was no prig, no spoil-sport. He knew very well that his native town, this port and trading city, where men walked the streets proud of their irreproachable reputation as business men, was by no means of spotless morality. They made up to themselves for the tedious hours spent in their offices, by dinners with heavy wines and heavy dishes—and by other things. But the broad mantle of civic respectability concealed this side of their life. Thomas Buddenbrook’s first law was to preserve “the dehors”; wherein he showed himself not so different from his fellow burghers. Lawyer Gieseke was a member of the professional class, whose habits of life were much like those of the merchants. That he was also a “good fellow,” anybody could see who looked at him. But, like the other easy men of pleasure in the community, he knew how to avoid trouble by wearing the proper expression and saying the proper thing. And in[313] political and professional matters, he had a reputation of irreproachable respectability. His betrothal to Fräulein Huneus had just been announced; whereby he married a considerable dowry and a place in the best society. He was active in civic affairs, and he had his eye on a seat in the Council—even, ultimately, on the seat of old Burgomaster Överdieck.

But his friend Christian Buddenbrook—the same who could go calmly up to Mlle. Meyer-de-la-Grange, present her his bouquet, and say, “Oh, Fräulein, how beautifully you act!”—Christian had been developed by character and circumstances into a free-liver of the naïve and untrammeled type. In affairs of the heart, as in all others, he was disinclined to govern his feelings or to practise discretion for the sake of preserving his dignity. The whole town had laughed over his affair with an obscure actress at the summer theatre. Frau Stuht in Bell Founders’ Street—the same who moved in the best society—told everybody who would listen how Chris had been seen again walking by daylight in the open street with the person from the Tivoli.

Even that did not actually offend people. There was too much candid cynicism in the community to permit a display of serious moral disapproval. Christian Buddenbrook, like Consul Peter Döhlmann—whose declining business put him into somewhat the same artless class—was a popular entertainer and indispensable to gentlemen’s companions. But neither was taken seriously. In important matters they simply did not count. It was a significant fact that the whole town, the Bourse, the docks, the club, and the street called them by their first names—Peter and Chris. And enemies, like the Hagenströms, laughed not only at Chris’s stories and jokes; but at Chris himself, too.

He thought little or nothing of this. If he noticed it, it passed out of his mind again after a momentary disquiet. But his brother the Consul knew it. Thomas knew that Christian afforded a point of attack to the enemies of the family—and there were already too many such points. The connection[314] with the Överdiecks was distant and would be quite worthless after the Burgomaster’s death. The Krögers played no rôle now; they lived retired, after the misfortunes with their son. The marriage of the deceased uncle Gotthold was always unpleasant. The Consul’s sister was a divorced wife, even if one did not quite give up hope of her re-marrying. And his brother was a laughing-stock in the town, a man with whose clownishness industrious men amused their leisure and then laughed good-naturedly or maliciously. He contracted debts, too, and at the end of the quarter, when he had no more money, would quite openly let Dr. Gieseke pay for him—which was a direct reflection on the firm. Thomas’s contemptuous ill will, which Christian bore with quiet indifference, expressed itself in all the trifling situations that come up between members of a family. If the conversation turned upon the Buddenbrook family history, Christian might be in the mood to speak with serious love and admiration of his native town and of his ancestors. It sat rather oddly on him, to be sure, and the Consul could not stand it: he would cut short the conversation with some cold remark. He despised his brother so much that he could not even permit him to love where he did. If Christian had uttered the same sentiments in the dialect of Marcellus Stengel, Tom could have borne it better. He had read a book, a historical work, which had made such a strong impression on him that he spoke about it and praised it in the family. Christian would by himself never have found out the book; but he was impressionable and accessible to every influence; so he also read it, found it wonderful, and described his reactions with all possible detail. That book was spoiled for Thomas for ever. He spoke of it with cold and critical detachment. He pretended hardly to have read it. He completely gave it over to his brother, to admire all by himself.



Consul Buddenbrook came from the “Harmony”—a reading-club for men, where he had spent the hour after second breakfast—back into Meng Street. He crossed the yard from behind, entered the side of the garden by the passage which ran between vine-covered walls and connected the back and front courtyards, and called into the kitchen to ask if his brother were at home. They should let him know when he came in. Then he passed through the office (where the men at the desks bent more closely over their work) into the private room; he laid aside his hat and stick, put on his working coat, and sat down in his place by the window, opposite Herr Marcus. Between his pale eyebrows were two deep wrinkles. The yellow end of a Russian cigarette roamed from one corner of his mouth to the other. The movements with which he took up paper and writing materials were so short and jerky that Herr Marcus ran his two fingers up and down his beard and gave his colleague a long, scrutinizing look. The younger men glanced at him with raised eyebrows. The Head was angry.

After half an hour, during which nothing was heard but the scratching of pens and the sound of Herr Marcus discreetly clearing his throat, the Consul looked over the green half-blind and saw Christian coming down the street. He was smoking. He came from the club, where he had eaten and also played a bit. He wore his hat a little awry on his head, and swung his yellow stick, which had come from “over there” and had the bust of a nun for a handle. He was obviously in good health and the best of tempers. He came humming into the office, said “Good morning, gentlemen,” although[316] it was a bright spring afternoon, and took his place to “do a bit of work.” But the Consul got up and, passing him, said without looking at him, “Oh, may I have a few words with you?” Christian followed him. They walked rather rapidly through the entry. Thomas held his hands behind his back, and Christian involuntarily did the same, turning his big bony hooked nose toward his brother. The red-blond moustache drooped, English fashion, over his mouth. While they went across the court, Thomas said: “We will walk a few steps up and down the garden, my friend.”

“Good,” answered Christian. Then there was a long silence again, while they turned to the left and walked, by the outside way, past the rococo “portal” right round the garden, where the buds were beginning to swell. Finally the Consul said in a loud voice, with a long breath, “I have just been very angry, on account of your behaviour.”


“Yes. I heard in the ‘Harmony’ about a remark of yours that you dropped in the club last evening. It was so obnoxious, so incredibly tactless, that I can find no words—the stupidity called down a sharp snub on you at once. Do you care to recall what it was?”

“I know now what you mean. Who told you that?”

“What has that to do with it? Döhlmann.—In a voice loud enough so that all the people who did not already know the story could laugh at the joke.”

“Well, Tom, I must say I was ashamed of Hagenström.”

“You were ashamed—you were—! Listen to me,” shouted the Consul, stretching out both hands in front of him and shaking them in excitement. “In a company consisting of business as well as professional men, you make the remark, for everybody to hear, that, when one really considers it, every business man is a swindler—you, a business man yourself, belonging to a firm that strains every nerve and muscle to preserve its perfect integrity and spotless reputation!”

“Good heavens, Thomas, it was a joke!—although,[317] really—” Christian hesitated, wrinkling his nose and stooping a little. In this position he took a few steps.

“A joke!” shouted the Consul. “I think I can understand a joke, but you see how your joke was understood. ‘For my part, I have the greatest respect for my calling.’ That was what Hermann Hagenström answered you. And there you sat, a good-for-nothing, with no respect for yours—”

“Tom, you don’t know what you are talking about. I assure you he spoiled the whole joke. After everybody laughed, as if they agreed with me, there sat this Hagenström and brought out with ridiculous solemnity, ‘For my part—’ Stupid fool! I was really ashamed for him. I thought about it a long time in bed last night, and I had a quite remarkable feeling—you know how it feels—”

“Stop chattering, stop chattering, I beg you,” interrupted the Consul. He trembled with disgust in his whole body. “I agree—I agree with you that his answer was not in the right key, and that it was tasteless. But that is just the kind of people you pick out to say such things to!—if it is necessary to say them at all—and so you lay yourself open to an insolent snub like that. Hagenström took the opening to—give not only you but us a slap. Do you understand what ‘for my part’ meant? It meant: ‘You may have such ideas going about in your brother’s office, Herr Buddenbrook.’ That’s what it meant, you idiot.”

“Idiot—?” said Christian. He looked disturbed and embarrassed.

“And finally, you belong not to yourself alone; I’m supposed to be indifferent when you make yourself personally ridiculous—and when don’t you make yourself personally ridiculous?” Thomas cried. He was pale, and the blue veins stood out on his narrow temples, from which the hair went back in two bays. One of his light eyebrows was raised; even the long, stiff pointed ends of his moustache looked angry as he threw his words down at Christian’s feet on the gravel with quick sidewise gestures. “You make yourself[318] a laughing-stock with your love affairs, your harlequinades, your diseases and your remedies.”

Christian shook his head vehemently and put up a warning finger. “As far as that goes, Tom, you don’t understand very well, you know. The thing is—every one must attend to his own conscience, so to speak. I don’t know if you understand that.—Grabow has ordered me a salve for the throat muscles. Well—if I don’t use it, if I neglect it, I am quite lost and helpless, I am restless and uncertain and worried and upset, and I can’t swallow. But if I have been using it, I feel that I have done my duty, I have a good conscience, I am quiet and calm and can swallow famously. The salve does not do it, you know, but the thing is that an idea like that, you understand, can only be destroyed by another idea, an opposite one. I don’t know whether you understand me—”

“Oh, yes—oh, yes!” cried the Consul, holding his head for a moment with both hands. “Do it, do it, but don’t talk about it—don’t gabble about it. Leave other people alone with your horrible nuances. You make yourself ridiculous with your absurd chatter from morning to night. I must tell you, and I repeat it, I am not interested in how much you make a fool of yourself personally. But I forbid your compromising the firm in the way you did yesterday evening.”

Christian did not answer, except to run his hand slowly over his sparse red-brown locks, while his eyes roamed unsteadily and absently, and unrest sat upon his face. Undoubtedly he was still busy with the idea which he had just been expressing.

There was a pause. Thomas stalked along with the calmness of despair. “All business men are swindlers, you say,” he began afresh. “Good. Are you tired of it? Are you sorry you are a business man? You once got permission from Father—”

“Why, Tom,” said Christian reflectively, “I would really rather study. It must be nice to be in the university. One[319] attends when one likes, at one’s own free will, sits down and listens, as in the theatre—”

“As in the theatre! Yes, I think your right place is that of a comedian in a café chantant. I am not joking. I am perfectly convinced that is your secret ideal.” Christian did not deny it; he merely gazed aimlessly about. “And you have the cheek to make such a remark—when you haven’t the slightest notion of work, and spend your days storing up a lot of feelings and sensations and episodes you hear in the theatre and when you are loafing about, God knows where; you take these and pet them and study them and chatter about them shamelessly!”

“Yes, Tom,” said Christian. He was a little depressed, and rubbed his hand again over his head. “That is true: you have expressed it quite correctly. That is the difference between us. You enjoy the theatre yourself; and you had your little affairs too, once on a time, between ourselves! And there was a time when you preferred novels and poetry and all that. But you have always known how to reconcile it with regular work and a serious life. I haven’t that. I am quite used up with the other; I have nothing left over for the regular life— I don’t know whether you understand—”

“Oh, so you see that?” cried Thomas, standing still and folding his arms on his breast. “You humbly admit that, and still you go on the same old way? Are you a dog, Christian? A man has some pride, by God! One doesn’t live a life that one may not know how to defend oneself. But so you are. That is your character. If you can only see a thing and understand and describe it—. No, my patience is at an end, Christian.” And the Consul took a quick backward step and made a gesture with his arms straight out. “It is at an end, I tell you.—You draw your pay, and stay away from the office. That isn’t what irritates me. Go and trifle your life away, as you have been doing, if you choose. But you compromise us, all of us, wherever you are. You are a growth, a fester, on the body of our family. You are a disgrace[320] to us here in this town, and if this house were mine, I’d show you the door!” he screamed, making a wild sweeping gesture over the garden, the court, and the whole property. He had no more control of himself. A long-stored-up well of hatred poured itself out.

“What is the matter with you, Thomas?” said Christian. He was seized with unaccustomed anger, standing there in a position common to bow-legged people, like a questionmark, with head, stomach, and knees all prominent. His little deep eyes were wide open and surrounded by red rims down to the cheek-bones, as his Father’s used to be in anger. “How are you speaking to me? What have I done to you? I’ll go, without being thrown out. Shame on you!” he added with downright reproach, accompanying the word with a short, snapping motion in front of him, as if he were catching a fly.

Strange to say, Thomas did not meet this outburst by more anger. He bent his head and slowly took his way around the garden. It seemed to quiet him, actually to do him good to have made his brother angry at last—to have pushed him finally to the energy of a protest.

“Believe me,” he said quietly, putting his hands behind his back again, “this conversation is truly painful to me. But it had to take place. Such scenes in the family are frightful, but we must speak out once for all. Let us talk the thing over quietly, young one. You do not like your present position, it seems?”

“No, Tom; you are right about that. You see, at first I was very well satisfied. I know I’m better off here than in a stranger’s business. But what I want is the independence, I think. I have always envied you when I saw you sit there and work, for it is really no work at all for you. You work not because you must, but as master and head, and let others work for you, and you have the control, make your calculations, and are free. It is quite different.”

“Good, Christian. Why couldn’t you have said that before?[321] You can make yourself free, or freer, if you like. You know Father left you as well as me an immediate inheritance of fifty thousand marks current; and I am ready at any moment to pay out this sum for a reasonable and sound purpose. In Hamburg, or anywhere else you like, there are plenty of safe but limited firms where they could use an increase of capital, and where you could enter as a partner. Let us think the matter over quietly, each by himself, and also speak to Mother at a good opportunity. I must get to work, and you could for the present go on with the English correspondence.” As they crossed the entry, he added, “What do you say, for instance, to H. C. F. Burmeester and Company in Hamburg? Import and export. I know the man. I am certain he would snap at it.”

That was in the end of May of the year 1857. At the beginning of June Christian travelled via Buchen to Hamburg—a heavy loss to the club, the theatre, the Tivoli, and the liberal livers of the town. All the “good fellows,” among them Dr. Gieseke and Peter Döhlmann, took leave of him at the station, and brought him flowers and cigars, and laughed to split their sides—recalling, no doubt, all the stories Christian had told them. And Lawyer Gieseke, amidst general applause, fastened to Christian’s overcoat a great favour made out of gold paper. This favour came from a sort of inn in the neighbourhood of the port, a place of free and easy resort where a red lantern burned above the door at night, and it was always very lively. The favour was awarded to the departing Chris Buddenbrook for his distinguished services.



The outer bell rang, and Frau Grünlich appeared on the landing to look down into the court—a habit she had lately formed. The door was hardly opened below when she started, leaned over still more, and then sprang back with one hand pressing her handkerchief to her mouth and the other holding up her gown. She hurried upstairs.

On the steps to the second storey she met Ida Jungmann, to whom she whispered in a suffocated voice. Ida gave a joyous shriek and answered with some Polish gibberish.

The Frau Consul was sitting in the landscape-room, crocheting a shawl or some such article with two large wooden needles. It was eleven o’clock in the morning.

The servant came through the hall, knocked on the glass door, and waddled in to bring the Frau Consul a visiting-card. She took the card, got out her sewing-glasses, and read it. Then she looked again at the girl’s red face; then read again; then looked up again at the girl. Finally she said calmly but firmly:

“What is this, my dear? What does it mean?”

On the card was printed: “X. Noppe and Company.” The “X. Noppe” and the “and” were crossed out with a lead-pencil, so that only the “Company” was left. “Oh, Frau Consul,” said the maid, “there’s a gentleman, but he doesn’t speak German, and he do go on so—”

“Ask the gentleman in,” said the Frau Consul; for she understood now that it was the “Company” who desired admittance. The maid went. Then the glass door was opened again to let in a stocky figure, who remained in the shadowy background of the room for a moment and said with a drawling[323] pronunciation something that seemed as if it might have been: “I have the honour—”

“Good morning,” said the Frau Consul. “Will you not come in?” And she supported herself on the sofa-cushion and rose a little; for she did not know yet whether she ought to rise all the way or not.

“I take the liberty,” replied the gentleman in a pleasant sing-song; while he bowed in the politest manner, and took two steps forward. Then he stood still again and looked around as if searching for something—perhaps for a place to put his hat and stick, for he had brought both—the stick being a horn crutch with the top shaped like a claw and a good foot and a half long—into the room with him.

He was a man of forty years. Short-legged and chubby, he wore a wide-open coat of brown frieze and a light flowered waistcoat which covered the gentle protuberant curve of his stomach and supported a gold watch-chain with a whole bouquet of charms made of horn, bone, silver, and coral. His trousers were of an indefinite grey-green colour and too short. The material must have been extraordinarily stiff, for the edges stood out in a circle around the legs of his short, broad boots. He had a bullet head, untidy hair, and a stubby nose, and the light-blond curly moustache drooping over his mouth made him look like a walrus. By way of contrast, the imperial between his chin and his underlip stood out rather bristly. His cheeks were extremely fat and puffy, crowding his eyes into two narrow light-blue cracks with wrinkles at the corners. The whole face looked swollen and had a funny expression of fierceness, mingled with an almost touching good nature. Directly below his tiny chin a steep line ran into the white neck-cloth: his goiterous neck could not have endured a choker. In fact, the whole lower part of his face and his neck, the back of his head, his cheeks and nose, all ran rather formlessly in together. The whole skin of the face was stretched to an immoderate tightness and showed a roughness at the ear-joinings and the sides of the nose. In[324] one of his short fat white hands the visitor held his stick; in the other his green Tyrolese hat, decorated with a chamois beard.

The Frau Consul had taken off her glasses and was still rising from her sofa-pillow.

“What can I do for you?” she asked politely but pointedly.

The gentleman, with a movement of decision, laid his hat and stick on the lid of the harmonium. He rubbed his free hands with satisfaction and looked at the Frau Consul out of his kindly, light-blue eyes. “I beg the gracious lady’s pardon for the card,” he said. “I had no other by me. My name is Permaneder—Alois Permaneder, from Munich. Perhaps you might have heard my name from your daughter.” He said all this in a puzzling dialect with a rather loud, coarse voice; but there was a confidential gleam from the cracks of his eyes, which seemed to say: “I’m sure we understand each other already.”

The Frau Consul had now risen entirely and went forward with her hand outstretched and her head inclined in greeting.

“Herr Permaneder! Is it you? Certainly my daughter has spoken of you. I know how much you contributed to make her visit in Munich pleasant and entertaining. And so some wind has blown you all the way up here?”

“That’s it; you’re just right there,” said Herr Permaneder. He sat down by the Frau Consul in the arm-chair which she gracefully indicated to him, and began to rub his short round thighs comfortably with both hands.

“I beg your pardon?” asked the Frau Consul. She had not understood a single word of his remark.

“You’ve guessed it, that’s the point,” answered Herr Permaneder, as he stopped rubbing his knees.

“How nice!” said the Frau Consul blankly. She leaned back in her chair with feigned satisfaction and folded her hands. Actually, she was quite as much at sea as before, and inly wondering if Antonie were really able to follow the[325] windings of the Bavarian tongue. But Herr Permaneder—though his appearance hardly led one to expect that he possessed acute sensibilities—saw through her at once. He bent forward, making—God knows why—circles in the air with his hand, and, struggling after clarity, enunciated the words: “The gracious lady is surprised?”

“Yes, Herr Permaneder, yes!” she cried, with disproportionate joy, for she had really understood him. Perhaps they could manage after all! But now there came a pause. To fill it out, Herr Permaneder gave a sort of groan, and followed it up by an exclamation in the broadest of dialect: something that shocked the Frau Consul because it sounded so like swearing, though it probably wasn’t—at least, she hoped not! Should she ask him to repeat it?

“Ah—what did you say?” she ventured, turning her light eyes a little away, that he might not see the bewilderment they expressed.

Herr Permaneder obliged by repeating, with extraordinary loudness and coarseness. Surely it was something about a crucifix! Horrors!

“How nice!” she stammered again, with desperate finality; and thus this subject also was disposed of. It might be better to talk a little oneself. “May one ask,” she went on, “what brings you so far, Herr Permaneder? It is a good long journey from Munich!”

“A little business,” said Herr Permaneder, as before, and waved his broad hand in the air. It was really touching, the efforts he made. “A little business, my dear lady, with the brewery at Walkmill.”

“Oh, yes—you are hop merchants, of course, my dear Herr Permaneder: Noppe and Company, isn’t it? I am sure I have heard good things of your firm from my son,” said the Frau Consul cordially. Again she felt as if she were almost upon firm ground. Herr Permaneder waved away the compliment. That was nothing to mention. No, the main thing was, he wanted to pay his respects to the Frau Consul[326] and—see Frau Grünlich again. That was enough to make the journey repay the trouble it cost.

The Frau Consul did not understand it all, but she got the general drift, and was glad. “Oh, thank you,” she said, with the utmost heartiness, and again offered him her hand, with the palm outstretched.

“But we must call my daughter,” she added, and stood up and went toward the embroidered bell-pull near the glass door.

“Oh, Lord, yes, I’ll be glad to see her!” cried the hop merchant, and turned his chair and himself toward the door at one and the same time.

The Frau Consul said to the servant: “Ask Madame Grünlich to come down, my dear.”

Then she went back to her sofa, and Herr Permaneder turned himself and his chair around again.

“Lord, yes, I’ll be glad!” he repeated, while he stared at the hangings and the furniture and the great Sèvres inkstand on the secretary. But then he sighed heavily, several times over, rubbed his knees, and gave vent to his favourite outlandish phrase. The Frau Consul thought it more discreet not to inquire again into his meaning; besides, he muttered it under his breath, with a sort of groan, though his mood, otherwise, appeared to be anything but despondent.

And now Frau Grünlich appeared. She had made a little toilette, put on a light blouse, and dressed her hair. Her face looked fresher and prettier than ever, and the tip of her tongue played in the corner of her mouth.

Scarcely had she entered when Herr Permaneder sprang up and went to meet her with tremendous enthusiasm. He vibrated all over. He seized both her hands, shook them and cried: “Well, Frau Grünlich! Well, well, grüss Gott! Well, and how’s it been going with you? What you been doing up here? Yes, yes! Grüss Gott! Lord, I’m just silly glad to see you. Do you think sometimes of little old[327] Munich and what a gay time we had? Oh, my, oh my! And here we are again. Who would ’a’ thought it?”

Tony, on her side, greeted him with great vivacity, drew up a chair, and began to chat with him about her weeks in Munich. Now the conversation went on without hitches, and the Frau Consul followed it, smiling and nodding encouragingly at Herr Permaneder. She would translate this or that expression into her own tongue, and then lean back into the sofa again, well pleased with her own intelligence.

Herr Permaneder had to explain to Frau Antonie in her turn the reason of his appearance. But he laid small stress on the “little business” with the brewery, and it was obviously not the occasion of his visit at all. He asked with interest after the second daughter and the sons of the Frau Consul, and regretted loudly the absence of Clara and Christian, as he had always wanted to get acquainted with the whole family.

He said his stay in the town was of indefinite length, but when the Frau Consul said: “I am expecting my son for second breakfast at any moment, Herr Permaneder. Will you give us the pleasure of your company?” he accepted the invitation almost before she gave it, with such alacrity that it was plain he had expected it.

The Consul came. He had found the breakfast-room empty, and appeared in his office coat, tired and preoccupied, to take a hasty bite. But when he saw the strange guest with the frieze jacket and the fantastic watch-chain, he became all charm. He had heard his name often enough from Frau Antonie, and he threw a quick glance at his sister as he greeted Herr Permaneder in his most fascinating manner. He did not sit down. They went directly down to the entresol, where Mamsell Jungmann had laid the table and set the samovar—a real samovar, a present from Pastor Tiburtius and Clara.

“You’ve got it good here,” said Herr Permaneder, as he[328] let himself down in his chair and looked at the variety of cold meats on the table. His grammar, now and then, was of the most artless and disarming quality.

“It isn’t Munich beer, of course, Herr Permaneder, but still it is better than our domestic brew.” And the Consul poured him a glass of the brown foaming porter, which he was accustomed to drink himself at midday.

“Thank you kindly, neighbour,” said Herr Permaneder, quite unaware of the outraged look Mamsell Jungmann cast at him. But he drank so moderately of the porter that the Frau Consul had a bottle of red wine brought up; whereat he grew visibly gayer and began to talk with Frau Grünlich again. He sat, on account of his prominent stomach, well away from the table, with his legs far apart, and one of his arms, with the plump white hand, hanging down over the chair-back. He put his round head with its walrus moustache on one side and blinked out of the cracks of his eyes naïvely as he listened to Tony’s conversation. He looked offensively comfortable. As he had had no experience with sprats, she daintily dismembered them for him, commenting the while on life in general.

“Oh Heavens, how sad it is, Herr Permaneder, that everything good and lovely in this world is so fleeting,” she said, referring to her Munich visit. She laid down her knife and fork a moment and looked earnestly up at the ceiling. She made charming if unsuccessful efforts to speak Bavarian.

During the meal there was a knock at the door, and the office boy brought in a telegram. The Consul read it, letting the long ends of his moustache run through his fingers. He was plainly preoccupied with the contents of the message; but, even as he read it, he asked in the easiest tone: “Well, how is business, Herr Permaneder?—That will do,” he said immediately to the apprentice, who disappeared.

“Oh, well, neighbour,” answered Herr Permaneder, turning himself about toward the Consul’s side with the awkwardness of a man who has a thick, stiff neck, and letting his[329] other arm hang over the chair-back. “There’s naught to speak of—it’s a fair plague. You see, Munich”—he pronounced the name of his native city in such a way that one could only guess what he meant—“Munich is no commercial town. Everybody wants his peace and quiet and his beer—nobody gets despatches while he’s eating; not there. You’re a different cut up here—Holy Sacrament! Yes, thank you kindly, I’ll take another glass. Tough luck, that’s what it is; tough luck. My partner, Noppe, wanted to go to Nuremberg, because they have a Bourse there and are keen on business, but I won’t forsake my Munich. Not me! That would be a fine thing to do! You see, there’s no competition, and the export trade is just silly. Even in Russia they’ll be beginning soon to plant and build for themselves.”

Then he suddenly threw the Consul a quick, shrewd look and said: “Oh, well, neighbour, ’tain’t so bad as it sounds. Yon’s a fair little business. We make money with the joint-stock brewery, that Niederpaur is director of. That was just a small affair, but we’ve put it on its legs and lent it credit—cash too, four per cent on security—and now we can do business at a profit, and we’ve collared a blame good trade already.” Herr Permaneder declined cigars and cigarettes and asked leave to smoke his pipe. He drew the long horn bowl out of his pocket, enveloped himself in a reek of smoke, and entered upon a business conversation with the Consul, which glided into politics, and Bavaria’s relations with Prussia, and King Max, and the Emperor Napoleon. He garnished his views with disjointed sighs and some perfectly unintelligible Munich phrases.

Mamsell Jungmann, out of sheer astonishment, continually forgot to chew, even when she had food in her mouth. She blinked speechlessly at the guest out of her bright brown eyes, standing her knife and fork perpendicularly on the table and swaying them back and forth. This room had never before beheld Herr Permaneder’s like. Never had it been filled by such reeking pipe-smoke; such unpleasantly easy manners[330] were foreign to it. The Frau Consul abode in cordial miscomprehension, after she had made inquiries and received information as to the sufferings of the little protestant oasis among the Munich papists. Tony seemed to grow somewhat absent and restive in the course of the meal. But the Consul was highly entertained, asked his mother to order up another bottle of wine, and cordially invited Herr Permaneder to a visit in Broad Street—his wife would be charmed. A good three hours after his arrival the hop dealer began to show signs of leaving—emptied his glass, knocked out his pipe, called something or other “bad luck,” and got up.

“I have the honour, madame. Good day, Frau Grünli’ and Herr Consul—servant, servant.” At this Ida Jungmann actually shivered and changed colour. “Good day, Freilein,” he said to her, and he repeated “Good day” at the door.

The Frau Consul and her son exchanged a glance. Herr Permaneder had announced his intention of stopping at the modest inn on the Trave whither he had gone on arrival. The Frau Consul went toward him again. “My daughter’s Munich friend,” she began, “lives so far away that we shall have no opportunity to repay her hospitality. But if you, my dear sir, would give us the pleasure of your company while you are in town—you would be very welcome.” She held her hand out to him; and lo! Herr Permaneder accepted this invitation as blithely as he had the one to dinner. He kissed the hands of both ladies—and a funny sight he was as he did so—fetched his hat and stick from the landscape-room, and promised to have his trunk brought at once and to be on the spot at four o’clock, after transacting his business. Then he allowed the Consul to convoy him down the stairs. But even at the vestibule door he turned again and shook hands violently. “No offence, neighbour,” he said—“your sister is certainly a great girl—no doubt about it. Good day,” and he disappeared, still wagging his head.

The Consul felt an irresistible drawing to go up again and see the ladies. Ida Jungmann had gone to look after the[331] linen for the guest-room. The Frau Consul still sat at the breakfast-table, her light eyes fixed on a spot on the ceiling. She was lightly drumming with her white fingers on the cloth. Tony sat at the window, her arms folded, gazing straight ahead of her with a severe air. Silence reigned.

“Well?” said Thomas, standing in the door and taking a cigarette out of the box ornamented with the troika. His shoulders shook with laughter.

“A pleasant man,” commented the Frau Consul innocently.

“Quite my opinion.” The Consul made a quick, humorous turn toward Tony, as if he were asking her in the most respectful manner for her opinion as well. She was silent, and looked neither to the right nor to the left.

“But I think, Tom, he ought to stop swearing,” went on the Frau Consul with mild disapproval. “If I understood him correctly, he kept using the words Sacrament and Cross.”

“Oh, that’s nothing, Mother—he doesn’t mean anything by that.”

“And perhaps a little too easy-mannered, Tom?”

“Oh, yes; that is south-German,” said the Consul, breathing the smoke slowly out into the room. He smiled at his mother and stole glances at Tony. His mother saw the glances not at all.

“You will come to dinner to-day with Gerda. Please do me the favour, Tom.”

“Certainly, Mother, with the greatest of pleasure. To tell the truth, I promise myself much pleasure from this guest, don’t you? He is something different from your ministers, in any case.”

“Everybody to his taste, Tom.”

“Of course. I must go now.—Oh, Tony,” he said, the door-handle in his hand, “you have made a great impression on him. No, no joke. Do you know what he called you down there just now? A great girl! Those were his very words.”

But here Frau Grünlich turned around and said clearly: “Very good, Tom. You are repeating his words—and I don’t[332] know that he would mind; but even so I am not sure it was just the nicest thing to do. But this much I do know: and this much I am going to say: that in this life it does not depend on how things are said and expressed, but on how they are felt and meant in the heart; and if you make fun of Herr Permaneder’s language and find him ridiculous—”

“Who? Why? Tony, what an idea! Why are you getting excited—?”

Assez,” said the Frau Consul, casting an imploring glance at her son. It meant “Spare her!”

“Please don’t be angry, Tony,” he said. “I didn’t mean to provoke you. And now I will go and see that somebody from the warehouse brings Herr Permaneder’s trunk. Au revoir.”



Herr Permaneder moved into Meng Street; he ate dinner with Thomas Buddenbrook and his wife the following day; and on the third, a Thursday, he made the acquaintance of Justus Kröger and his wife, the three ladies from Broad Street, who found him “frightfully funny” (they said fr-right-fully), Sesemi Weichbrodt, who was rather stern with him, and poor Clothilde and little Erica, to whom he gave a bag of bonbons.

The man was invincibly good-humoured. His sighs, in fact, meant nothing, and seemed to arise out of an excess of comfort. He smoked his pipe, talked in his curious dialect, and displayed an inexhaustible power of sitting still. He kept his place long after the meal was finished, in the most easy attitude possible, and smoked, drank, and chatted. His presence gave to the life in the old home a new and strange tone; his very being brought something unharmonious into the room. But he disturbed none of the traditional customs of the house. He was faithful to morning and evening prayers, asked permission to attend one of the Frau Consul’s Sunday School classes, and even appeared on a Jerusalem evening in the drawing-room and was presented to the guests, but withdrew affrighted when Lea Gerhardt began to read aloud.

He was soon known in the town. They spoke in the great houses about the Buddenbrooks’ guest from Bavaria; but neither in the family nor on the Bourse did he make connections, and as it was already the time when people were making ready to go to the shore, the Consul refrained from introducing Herr Permaneder into society. But he devoted himself with zeal to the guest, taking time from his business and civic engagements to show him about the town and point out the mediæval monuments—churches, gates, fountains,[334] market, Town Hall, and Ship Company. He made him acquainted with his own nearest friends on Exchange and entertained him in every way. His mother took occasion one day to thank him for his self-sacrifice; but he only remarked drily: “Why, ye-es, Mother—what wouldn’t one do?”

The Frau Consul left this unanswered. She did not even smile or move her eyelids, but shifted the gaze of her light eyes and changed the subject.

She preserved an even, hearty friendliness toward Herr Permaneder—which could hardly be said of her daughter. On the third or fourth day after his arrival the hop dealer let it be known that he had concluded his business with the local brewery. But a week and a half had passed since then, and he had been present for two children’s afternoons. On these occasions, Frau Grünlich had sat blushing and watching his every motion, casting quick embarrassed glances at Thomas and the three Buddenbrook cousins. She talked hardly at all, sat for long minutes stiff and speechless, or even got up and left the room.

The green blinds in Frau Grünlich’s sleeping-room were gently stirred by the mild air of a June night, for the windows were open. It was a large room, with simple furniture covered in grey linen. On the night-table at the side of the high bed several little wicks burned in a glass with oil and water in it, filling the room with faint, even light. Frau Grünlich was in bed. Her pretty head was sunk softly in the lace-edged pillow, and her hands lay folded on the quilted coverlet. But her eyes, too thoughtful to close themselves, slowly followed the movements of a large insect with a long body, which perpetually besieged the glass with a million soundless motions of his wings. Near the bed there was a framed text hanging on the wall, between two old copper-plate views of the town in the Middle Ages. It said: “Commit your ways unto the Lord.” But what good is a text like that when you are lying awake at midnight, and you have to[335] decide for your whole life, and other people’s too, whether it shall be yes or no?

It was very still. The clock ticked away on the wall, and the only other sound was Mamsell Jungmann’s occasional cough. Her room was next to Tony’s, divided only by curtains from it. She still had a light. The born-and-bred Prussian was sitting under the hanging lamp at her extension-table, darning stockings for little Erica. The child’s deep, peaceful breathing could be heard in the room, for Sesemi’s pupils were having summer holidays and Erica was at home again.

Frau Grünlich sighed and sat up a little, propping her head on her hand. “Ida,” she called softly, “are you still sitting there mending?”

“Yes, yes, Tony, my child,” Ida answered. “Sleep now; you will be getting up early in the morning, and you won’t get enough rest.”

“All right, Ida. You will wake me at six o’clock?”

“Half-past is early enough, child. The carriage is ordered for eight. Go on sleeping, so you will look fresh and pretty.”

“Oh, I haven’t slept at all yet.”

“Now, Tony, that is a bad child. Do you want to look all knocked up for the picnic? Drink seven swallows of water, and then lie down and count a thousand.”

“Oh, Ida, do come here a minute. I can’t sleep, I tell you, and my head aches for thinking. Feel—I think I have some fever, and there is something the matter with my tummy again. Or is it because I am anæmic? The veins in my temples are all swollen and they beat so that it hurts; but still, there may be too little blood in my head.”

A chair was pushed back, and Ida Jungmann’s lean, vigorous figure, in her unfashionable brown gown, appeared between the portières.

“Now, now, Tony—fever? Let me feel, my child—I’ll make you a compress.”

She went with her long firm masculine tread to the chest for a handkerchief, dipped it into the water-basin, and, going[336] back to the bed, laid it on Tony’s forehead, stroking her brow a few times with both hands.

“Thank you, Ida; that feels good.—Oh, please sit down a few minutes, good old Ida. Sit down on the edge of the bed. You see, I keep thinking the whole time about to-morrow. What shall I do? My head is going round and round.”

Ida sat down beside her, with her needle and the stocking drawn over the darner again in her hand, and bent over them the smooth grey head and the indefatigable bright brown eyes. “Do you think he is going to propose to-morrow?” she asked.

“No doubt of it at all. He won’t lose this opportunity. It happened with Clara on just such an expedition. I could avoid it, of course, I could keep with the others all the time and not let him get near me. But then, that would settle it! He is leaving day after to-morrow, he said, and he cannot stay any longer if nothing comes of it to-day. It must be decided to-day.—But what shall I say, Ida, when he asks me? You’ve never been married, so of course you know nothing about life, really; but you are a truthful woman, and you have some sense—and you are forty-two years old! Do tell me what you think.—I do so need advice!”

Ida Jungmann let the stocking fall into her lap.

“Yes, yes, Tony child, I have thought a great deal about it. But what I think is, there is nothing to advise about. He can’t go away without speaking to you and your Mamma, and if you didn’t want him, you should have sent him away before now.”

“You are right there, Ida; but I could not do it—I suppose because it is to be! But now I keep thinking: ‘It isn’t too late yet; I can still draw back!’ So I am living here tormenting myself—”

“Do you like him, Tony? Tell me straight out.”

“Yes, Ida. It would not be the truth if I should say no. He is not handsome—but that isn’t the important thing in this life; and he is as good as gold, and couldn’t do anything mean—at least, he seems so to me. When I think about[337] Grünlich—oh, goodness! He was all the time saying how clever and resourceful he was, and all the time hiding his villainy. Permaneder is not in the least like that. You might say he is too easy-going and takes life too comfortably—and that is a fault too; because he will never be a millionaire that way, and he really is too much inclined to let things go and muddle along—as they say down there. They are all like that down there, Ida—that is what I mean. In Munich, where he was among his own kind and everybody spoke and looked as he does, I fairly loved him, he seemed so nice and faithful and comfy. And I noticed it was mutual—but part of that, I dare say, was that he takes me for a rich woman, richer probably than I am; because Mother cannot do much more for me, as you know. But I hardly think that will make much difference to him—a great lot of money would not be to his taste.—But—what was I saying, Ida?”

“That is in Munich, Tony. But here—”

“Oh, here, Ida! You know how it was already: up here he was torn right out of his own element and set against everybody here, and they are all ever so much stiffer, and—more dignified and serious. Here I really often blush for him, though it may be unworthy of me. You know—it even happened several times that he said ‘me’ instead of ‘I.’ But they say that down there; even the most cultured people do, and it doesn’t hurt anything—it slips out once in a while and nobody minds. But up here—here sits Mother on one side and Tom on the other, looking at him and lifting their eyebrows, and Uncle Justus gives a start and fairly snorts, the way the Krögers do, and Pfiffi Buddenbrook gives her Mother a look, or Friederike or Henriette, and I feel so mortified I want to run out of the room, and it doesn’t seem as if I could marry him—”

“Oh, childie—it would be Munich that you would live in with him.”

“You are right, Ida. But the engagement!—and if I have to feel the whole time mortified to death before the family[338] and the Kistenmakers and the Möllendorpfs, because they think he is common— Oh, Grünlich was much more refined, though he was certainly black within, as Herr Stengel would have said.—Oh, Ida, my head! do wet the compress again.”

“But it must be so, in the end,” she went on again, drawing a long breath as the compress went on; “for the main point is and remains that I must get married again, and not stick about here any longer as a divorced woman. Ah, Ida, I think so much about the past these days: about the time when Grünlich first appeared, and the scenes he made me—scandalous, Ida!—and then about Travemünde and the Schwarzkopfs—” She spoke slowly, and her eyes rested for a while dreamily on a darn in Erica’s stocking. “And then the betrothal, and Eimsbüttel, and our house. It was quite elegant, Ida. When I think of my morning-gowns— It would not be like that with Permaneder; one gets more modest as life goes on— And Dr. Klaasen and the baby, and Banker Kesselmeyer—and then the end. It was frightful; you can’t imagine how frightful it was. And when you have had such dreadful experiences in life— But Permaneder would never go in for anything filthy like that. That is the last thing in the world I should expect of him, and we can rely on him too in a business way, for I really think he makes a good deal with Noppe at the Niederpaur brewery. And when I am his wife, you’ll see, Ida, I will take care that he has ambition and gets ahead and makes an effort and is a credit to me and all of us. That, at least, he takes upon himself when he marries a Buddenbrook!”

She folded her hands under her head and looked at the ceiling. “Yes, ten years ago and more, I married Grünlich. Ten years! And here I am at the same place again, saying yes to somebody else. You know, Ida, life is very, very serious. Only the difference is that then it was a great affair, and they all pressed me and tormented me, whereas now they are all perfectly quiet and take it for granted that I am going[339] to say yes. Of course you know, Ida, that this engagement to Alois—I say Alois, because of course it is to be—has nothing very gay or festive about it, and it isn’t really a question of my happiness at all. I am making this second marriage with my eyes open, to make good the mistake of my first one, as a duty which I owe our name. Mother thinks so, and so does Tom.”

“But oh, dear, Tony—if you don’t like him, and if he won’t make you happy—”

“Ida, I know life, and I am not a little goose any more. I have the use of my senses. I don’t say that Mother would actually insist on it—when there is a dispute over anything she usually avoids it and says ‘Assez!’ But Tom wants it. I know Tom. He thinks: ‘Anybody! Anybody who isn’t absolutely impossible.’ For this time it is not a question of a brilliant match, but just one that will make good the other one. That is what he thinks. As soon as Permaneder appeared, you may be sure that Tom made all the proper inquiries about his business, and found it was all right—and then, as far as he was concerned, the matter was settled. Tom is a politician—he knows what he wants. Who was it threw Christian out? That is strong language, Ida, but that was really the truth of it. And why? Because he was compromising the firm and the family. And in his eyes I do the same thing—not with words or acts, but by my very existence as a divorced woman. He wants that put an end to, and he is right. I love him none the less for that—nor, I hope, does he me. In all these years, I have always longed to be out in the world again; it is so dull here in this house. God punish me if that is a sin: but I am not much more than thirty, and I still feel young. People differ about that. You had grey hair at thirty, like all your family and that uncle that died at Marienwerder.”

More and more observations of the same kind followed as the night wore on; and every now and again she would say: “It is to be, after all.” But at length she went to sleep, and slept for five hours on end, deeply and peacefully.



A mist lay over the town. But—or so said Herr Longuet, the livery man in John Street, as he himself drove the covered char-à-banc up to the door of the house in Meng Street: “The sun will be out before an hour is over”—which was most encouraging.

The Frau Consul, Antonie, Herr Permaneder, Erica, and Ida had breakfast together and gathered one after another, ready for the expedition, in the great entry, to wait for Gerda and Tom. Frau Grünlich, in a cream-coloured frock with a satin tie, looked her best, despite the loss of sleep the night before. Her doubts and fears seemed to be laid to rest, and her manner was assured, calm, and almost formal as she talked with their guest and fastened her glove-button. She had regained the tone of the old days. The well-known conviction of her own importance, of the weightiness of her own decisions, the consciousness that once more a day had come when she was to inscribe herself decisively in the family history—all this filled her heart and made it beat higher. She had dreamed of seeing that page in the family papers on which she would write down the fact of her betrothal—the fact that should obliterate and make void the black spot which the page contained. She looked forward to the moment when Tom would appear and she would greet him with a meaning nod.

He came with his wife, somewhat tardily, for the young Frau Consul was not used to make such an early toilette. He looked well and happy in his light-brown checked suit, the broad revers of which showed the white waistcoat beneath; and his eyes had a smile in them as he noted Tony’s incomparably dignified mien. Gerda, with her slightly exotic,[341] even morbid beauty, which was always in great contrast to her sister-in-law’s healthy prettiness, was not in a holiday mood. Probably she had risen too early. The deep lilac background of her frock suited oddly with her dark-red hair and made her skin look whiter and more even-toned than ever, and the bluish shadows deeper and darker in the corners of her close-set brown eyes. She rather coldly offered her mother-in-law her brow to kiss, gave her hand to Herr Permaneder with an almost ironical expression on her face, and answered only by a deprecating smile when Tony clapped her hands and cried out in her hearty way: “Oh, Gerda, how lovely you always look!”

She had a real distaste for expeditions like to-day’s, especially in summer and most especially on Sunday. She lived in the twilight of her curtained living-rooms, and dreaded the sun, the dust, the crowds of townsfolk in their holiday clothes, the smell of coffee, beer, and tobacco; and above everything else in the world she hated getting hot and upset. When the expedition to Swartau and the “Giant Bush” was arranged, in order to give the Munich guest a glimpse of the surroundings of the old town, Gerda said lightly to her husband “Dearest, you know how I am made: I only like peace and quiet. I was not meant for change and excitement. You’ll let me off, won’t you?”

She would not have married him if she had not felt sure of his essential agreement with her in these matters.

“Oh, heavens, yes; you are right, of course, Gerda. It is mostly imagination that one enjoys oneself on such parties. Still, one goes, because one does not like to seem odd, either to oneself or to the others. Everybody has that kind of vanity; don’t you think so? People get the idea that you are solitary or else unhappy, and they have less respect for you. And then, there is something else, Gerda dear. We all want to pay a little court to Herr Permaneder. Of course you see what the situation is. Something is going on; it would be a real pity if it came to nothing.”

[342]“I do not see, my dear friend, why my presence—but no matter. Let it be as you wish. Let us indulge.”

They went into the street. And the sun actually began at that moment to pierce the morning mist. The bells of St. Mary’s were ringing for Sunday, and the twittering of birds filled the air. The coachman took off his hat, and the Frau Consul greeted him with the patriarchal kindness which sometimes put Thomas a little on edge: “Good morning, my friend!—Well, get in now, my dears. It is just time for early service, but to-day we will praise God with full hearts in his own free out-of-doors; shall we not, Herr Permaneder?”

“That’s right, Frau Consul.”

They climbed one after another up the steps through the narrow back door of the wagon and made themselves comfortable on the cushioned seats, which—doubtless in honour of Herr Permaneder—were striped blue and white, the Bavarian colours. The door slammed, Herr Longuet clucked to the horses and shouted “Gee” and “Haw,” the strong brown beasts tugged at the harness, and the wagon rolled down Meng Street along the Trave and out the Holsten gate and then to the right along the Swartau Road.

Fields, meadows, tree-clumps, farmyards. They stared up into the high, thin blue mist above them for the larks they heard singing there. Thomas, smoking his cigarette, looked about keenly, and when they came to the grain he called Herr Permaneder’s attention to its condition. The hop dealer was in a mood of childlike anticipation. He had perched his green hat with the goat’s beard on the side of his head, and was balancing his big stick with the horn handle on the palm of his broad white hand and even on his underlip—a feat which, though he never quite succeeded in accomplishing it, was always greeted with applause from little Erica. He repeated over and over remarks like: “’Twon’t be the Zugspitz, but we’ll climb a bit and have a little lark—kind of a little old spree, hey, Frau Grünli’?”

Then he began to relate with much liveliness stories of[343] mountain-climbing with knapsack and alpenstock, the Frau Consul rewarding him with many an admiring “You don’t say!” He came by some train of thought or other to Christian, and expressed the most lively regret for his absence—he had heard what a jolly chap he was.

“He varies,” the Consul said drily. “On a party like this he is inimitable, it is true.—We shall have crabs to eat, Herr Permaneder,” he said in a livelier tone; “crabs and Baltic shrimps! You have had them a few times already at my Mother’s, but friend Dieckmann, the owner of the ‘Giant Bush,’ serves especially fine ones. And ginger-nuts, the famous ginger-nuts of these parts. Has their fame reached even as far as the Isar? Well, you shall try them.”

Two or three times Frau Grünlich stopped the wagon to pick poppies and corn-flowers by the roadside, and each time Herr Permaneder testified to his desire to get out and help her, if it were not for his slight nervousness at climbing in and out of the wagon.

Erica rejoiced at every crow she saw; and Ida Jungmann, wearing her mackintosh and carrying her umbrella, as she always did even in the most settled weather, rejoiced with her like a good governess who shares not only outwardly but inwardly in the childish emotions of her charge. She entered heartily into Erica’s pleasure, with her rather loud laugh that sounded like a horse neighing. Gerda, who had not seen her growing grey in the family service, looked at her repeatedly with cold surprise.

They were in Oldenberg. The beech groves came in sight. They drove through the village, across the market square with its well, and out again into the country, over the bridge that spanned the little river Au, and finally drew up in front of the one-storey inn, “The Giant Bush.” It stood at the side of a flat open space laid out with lawns and sandy paths and country flower-beds; beyond it, the forest rose gradually like an amphitheatre. Each stage was reached by rude steps formed from the natural rocks and tree roots; and on each[344] one white-painted tables, benches, and chairs stood placed among the trees.

The Buddenbrooks were by no means the first guests. A couple of plump maids and a waiter in a greasy dress-coat were hurrying about the square carrying cold meat, lemonades, milk, and beer up to the tables, even the more remote ones, which were already occupied by several families with children.

Herr Dieckmann, the landlord, appeared personally, in shirt-sleeves and a little yellow-embroidered cap, to help the guests dismount, and Longuet drove off to unhitch. The Frau Consul said: “My good man, we will take our walk first, and after an hour or so we should like luncheon served up above—but not too high up; say perhaps at the second landing.”

“You must show what you are made of, Herr Dieckmann,” added the Consul. “We have a guest who is used to good living.”

“Oh, no such thing,” Herr Permaneder protested. “A beer and cheese—”

But Herr Dieckmann could not understand him, and began with great fluency: “Everything we have, Herr Consul: crabs, shrimps, all sorts of sausages, all sorts of cheese, smoked eel, smoked salmon, smoked sturgeon—”

“Fine, Dieckmann; give us what you have. And then—six glasses of milk and a glass of beer—if I am not mistaken, Herr Permaneder?”

“One beer, six milks—sweet milk, buttermilk, sour milk, clotted milk, Herr Consul?”

“Half and half, Herr Dieckmann: sweet milk and buttermilk. In an hour, then.” They went across the square.

“First, Herr Permaneder, it is our duty to visit the spring,” said Thomas. “The spring, that is to say, is the source of the Au; and the Au is the tiny little river on which Swartau lies, and on which, in the grey Middle Ages, our own town was situated—until it burned down. There was probably[345] nothing very permanent about it at that time, and it was rebuilt again, on the Trave. But there are painful recollections connected with the Au. When we were schoolboys we used to pinch each other’s arms and say: ‘What is the name of the river at Swartau?’ Of course, it hurt, and the involuntary answer was the right one.—Look!” he interrupted himself suddenly, ten steps from the ascent, “they’ve got ahead of us.” It was the Möllendorpfs and the Hagenströms.

There, on the third landing of the wooded terrace, sat the principal members of those affiliated families, at two tables shoved close together, eating and talking with the greatest gusto. Old Senator Möllendorpf presided, a pallid gentleman with thin, pointed white mutton-chops; he suffered from diabetes. His wife, born Langhals, wielded her lorgnon; and, as usual, her hair stood up untidily all over her head. Her son Augustus was a blond young man with a prosperous exterior, and there was Julie his wife, born Hagenström, little and lively, with great blank black eyes and diamond earrings that were nearly as large. She sat between her brothers, Hermann and Moritz. Consul Hermann Hagenström had begun to get very stout with good living: people said he began the day with paté de foie gras. He wore a full, short reddish-blond beard, and he had his mother’s nose, which came down quite flat on the upper lip. Dr. Morris was narrow-chested and yellow-skinned, and he talked very gaily, showing pointed teeth with gaps between them. Both brothers had their ladies with them—for the lawyer had married, some years since, a Fräulein Puttfarken from Hamburg, a lady with butter-coloured hair and wonderful cold, regular, English features of more than common beauty; Dr. Hagenström had not been able to reconcile with his reputation as connoisseur the idea of taking a plain wife. And, finally, there were the little daughter of Hermann and the little son of Moritz, two white-frocked children, already as good as betrothed to each other, for the Huneus-Hagenström money[346] must be kept together, of course. They all sat there eating ham and scrambled eggs.

Greetings were exchanged when the Buddenbrook party passed at a little distance the company seated at the table. The Frau Consul bowed confusedly; Thomas lifted his hat, his lips moving in a courteous and conventional greeting, and Gerda inclined her head with formal politeness. But Herr Permaneder, stimulated by the climb, swung his green hat unaffectedly and shouted in a loud, hearty voice: “Hearty good morning to all of you!” whereat Frau Senator Möllendorpf made use of her lorgnon. Tony, for her part, flung back her head and tucked in her chin as much as possible, while her shoulders went up ever so slightly, and she greeted the party as if from some remote height—which meant that she stared straight ahead directly over the broad brim of Julie Möllendorpf’s elegant hat. Precisely at this moment, her decision of the night before became fixed, unalterable resolve.

“Thanks be to goodness, Tom, we are not going to eat for another hour. I’d hate to have that Julie watching us. Did you see how she spoke? Hardly at all. I only had a glimpse of her hat, but it looked frightfully bad taste.”

“Well, as far as that goes, I don’t know about the hat—but you were certainly not much more cordial than she was, my love. And don’t get irritated—it makes for wrinkles.”

“Irritated, Tom? Not at all. If these people think they are the first and foremost, why, one can only laugh at them, that’s all. What difference is there between this Julie and me, if it comes to that? She only drew a fool, instead of a knave, for a husband; and if she were in my position now, we should see if she would find another one.”

“How can you tell that you will find another one?”

“A fool, Thomas?”

“Very much better than a knave.”

“It doesn’t have to be either. But it is not a fit subject for discussion.”

[347]“Quite right. The others are ahead of us—Herr Permaneder is climbing lustily.”

The shady forest road grew level, and it was not long before they reached the “spring,” a pretty, romantic spot with a wooden bridge over a little ravine, steep cliffs, and overhanging trees with their roots in the air. The Frau Consul had brought a silver collapsible cup, and they scooped up the water from the little stone basin directly under the source and refreshed themselves with the iron-impregnated spring. And here Herr Permaneder had a slight attack of gallantry, and insisted on Frau Grünlich tasting his cup before presenting it to him. He ran over with friendliness and displayed great tact in chatting with the Frau Consul and Thomas, as well as with Gerda and Tony, and even with little Erica. Gerda, who had up to now been suffering from the heat and a kind of silent and rigid nervousness, began to feel like herself again. They came back to the inn by a shorter way, and sat down at a groaning table on the second of the wooded terraces; and it was Gerda who gave expression in friendly terms to the general regret over Herr Permaneder’s early departure, now that they were just becoming a little acquainted and finding less and less difficulty with the language. She was ready to swear that she had heard her friend and sister-in-law, Tony, use several times the most unadulterated Munich dialect!

Herr Permaneder forebore to commit himself on the subject of his departure. Instead, he devoted himself for the time to the dainties that weighted down the table—dainties such as he seldom saw the other side of the Danube.

They sat and consumed the good things at their leisure—what little Erica liked far better than anything else were the serviettes made of tissue paper, much nicer than the big linen ones at home. With the waiter’s permission she put a few in her pocket as a souvenir. When they had finished, they still sat; Herr Permaneder smoked several very black cigars with his beer, Thomas smoked cigarettes, and the whole family[348] chatted a long time with their guest. It was noticeable that Herr Permaneder’s leaving was not mentioned again; in fact, the future was left shrouded in darkness. Rather, they turned to memories of the past or talked of the political events of recent years. Herr Permaneder shook with laughter over some dozens of stories of the late Herr Consul, which his widow related, and then in his turn told about the Munich Revolution, and about Lola Montez, in whom Frau Grünlich displayed an unbounded interest. The hour after luncheon slowly wore on, and little Erica came back laden with daisies, grasses, and ladies’ smocks from an expedition with Ida Jungmann, and recalled the fact that the ginger-nuts were still to be bought. They started on their walk down to the village, not before the Frau Consul, who was the hostess of the occasion, had paid the bill with a good-sized gold-piece.

They gave orders at the inn that the wagon should be ready in half an hour, so that there would be time for a rest in town before dinner, and then they rambled slowly down, in the dusty sunshine, to the handful of cottages that formed the village.

After they crossed the bridge they fell naturally into little groups, in which they continued after that to walk: Mamsell Jungmann with her long stride in the van, with little Erica jumping tirelessly alongside, hunting for butterflies; then the Frau Consul, Thomas, and Gerda together; and lastly, at some distance, Frau Grünlich and Herr Permaneder. The first pair made considerable noise, for the child shouted for joy, and Ida joined in with her neighing, good-natured laugh. In the middle, all three were silent; for the dust had driven Gerda into another fit of depression, and the old Frau Consul, and her son as well, were plunged in thought. The couple behind were quiet too, but their quietness was only apparent, for in reality Tony and her Bavarian guest were conversing in subdued and intimate tones. And what was the subject of their discourse? It was Herr Grünlich....

Herr Permaneder had made the pointed remark that little[349] Erica was a dear and pretty child, but that she had not the slightest resemblance to her mother. To which Tony had answered: “She is altogether like her father in looks, and one may say that it is not at all to her disadvantage, for as far as looks go, Grünlich was a gentleman. He had golden-yellow whiskers—very uncommon; I never saw anything like them.” When Tony visited the Niederpaurs in Munich, she had already told Herr Permaneder in considerable detail the story of her first marriage; but now he asked again all the particulars of it, listening with anxiously sympathetic blinks to the details of the bankruptcy.

“He was a bad man, Herr Permaneder, or Father would never have taken me away from him—of that you may be sure. Life has taught me that not everybody in the world has a good heart. I have learned that, young as I am for a person who, as you might say, has been a widow for ten years. He was a bad man, and his banker, Kesselmeyer, was a worse one—and a silly puppy into the bargain. I won’t say that I consider myself an angel and perfectly free from all blame—don’t misunderstand me. Grünlich neglected me, and even when he was with me he just sat and read the paper; and he deceived me, and kept me in Eimsbüttel, because he was afraid if I went to town I would find out the mess he was in. But I am a weak woman, and I have my faults too, and I’ve no doubt I did not always go the right way to work. I know I gave him cause to worry and complain over my extravagance and silliness and my new dressing-gowns. But it is only fair to say one thing: I was just a child when I was married, a perfect goose, a silly little thing. Just imagine: only a short time before I was engaged, I didn’t even so much as know that the Confederation decrees concerning the universities and the press had been renewed four years before! And fine decrees they were, too! Ah, me, Herr Permaneder! The sad thing is that one lives but once—one can’t begin life over again. And one would know so much better the second time!”

[350]She was silent; she looked down at the road—but she was very intent on the reply Herr Permaneder would make, for she had not unskilfully left him an opening, it being only a step to the idea that, even though it was impossible to begin life anew, yet a new and better married life was not out of the question. Herr Permaneder let the chance slip and confined himself to laying the blame on Herr Grünlich, with such violence that his very chin-whiskers bristled.

“Silly ass! If I had the fool here I’d give it to him! What a swine!”

“Fie, Herr Permaneder! No, you really mustn’t. We must forgive and forget—‘Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.’ Ask Mother. Heaven forbid—I don’t know where Grünlich is, nor what state his affairs are in, but I wish him the best of fortune, even though he doesn’t deserve it.”

They had reached the village and stood before the little house which was at the same time the bakery. They had stopped walking, almost without knowing it, and were hardly aware that Ida, Erica, the Frau Consul, Thomas, and Gerda had disappeared through the funny, tiny little door, so low that they had to stoop to enter. They were absorbed in their conversation, though it had not got beyond these trifling preliminaries.

They stood by a hedge with a long narrow flower-bed beneath it, in which some mignonette was growing. Frau Grünlich, rather hot, bent her head and poked industriously with her parasol in the black loam. Herr Permaneder stood close to her, now and then assisting her excavations with his walking-stick. His little green hat with the tuft of goat’s beard had slid back on his forehead. He was stooping over the bed too, but his small, bulging pale-blue eyes, quite blank and even a little reddish, gazed up at her with a mixture of devotion, distress, and expectancy. It was odd to see how his very moustache, drooping down over his mouth, took the same expression.

“Likely, now,” he ventured, “likely, now, ye’ve taken a[351] silly fright, and are too damned scared of marriage ever to try it again—hey, Frau Grünlich?”

“How clumsy!” thought she. “Must I say yes to that?” Aloud she answered: “Well, dear Herr Permaneder, I must confess that it would be hard for me to yield anybody my consent for life; for life has taught me, you see, what a serious step that is. One needs to be sure that the man in question is a thoroughly noble, good, kind soul—”

And now he actually ventured the question whether she could consider him such a man—to which she answered: “Yes, Herr Permaneder, I do.” Upon which there followed the few short murmured words which clinched the betrothal and gave Herr Permaneder the assurance that he might speak to Thomas and the Frau Consul when they reached home.

When the other members of the party came forth, laden with bags of ginger-nuts, Thomas let his eye rove discreetly over the heads of the two standing outside, for they were embarrassed to the last degree. Herr Permaneder simply made no effort to conceal the fact, but Tony was hiding her embarrassment under a well-nigh majestic dignity.

They hurried back to the wagon, for the sky had clouded over and some drops began to fall.

Tony was right: her brother had, soon after Herr Permaneder appeared, made proper inquiries as to his situation in life. He learned that X. Noppe and Company did a thoroughly sound if somewhat restricted business, operating with the joint-stock brewery managed by Herr Niederpaur as director. It showed a nice little income, Herr Permaneder’s share of which, with the help of Tony’s seventeen thousand, would suffice for a comfortable if modest life. The Frau Consul heard the news, and there was a long and particular conversation among her, Herr Permaneder, Antonie, and Thomas, in the landscape-room that very evening, and everything was arranged. It was decided that little Erica should[352] go to Munich too, this being her Mother’s wish, to which her betrothed warmly agreed.

Two days later the hop dealer left for home—“Noppe will be raising the deuce if I don’t,” he said. But in July Frau Grünlich was again in his native town, accompanied by Tom and Gerda. They were to spend four or five weeks at Bad Kreuth, while the Frau Consul with Erica and Ida were on the Baltic coast. While in Munich, the four had time to see the house in Kaufinger Street which Herr Permaneder was about to buy. It was in the neighbourhood of the Niederpaurs’—a perfectly remarkable old house, a large part of which Herr Permaneder thought to let. It had a steep, ladderlike pair of stairs which ran without a turning from the front door straight up to the first floor, where a corridor led on each side back to the front rooms.

Tony went home the middle of August to devote herself to her trousseau. She had considerable left from her earlier equipment, but new purchases were necessary to complete it. One day several things arrived from Hamburg, among them a morning-gown—this time not trimmed with velvet but with bands of cloth instead.

Herr Permaneder returned to Meng Street well on in the autumn. They thought best to delay no longer. As for the wedding festivities, they went off just as Tony expected and desired, no great fuss being made over them. “Let us leave out the formalities,” said the Consul. “You are married again, and it is simply as if you always had been.” Only a few announcements were sent—Madame Grünlich saw to it that Julie Möllendorpf, born Hagenström, received one—and there was no wedding journey. Herr Permaneder objected to making “such a fuss,” and Tony, just back from the summer trip, found even the journey to Munich too long. The wedding took place, not in the hall this time, but in the church of St. Mary’s, in the presence of the family only. Tony wore the orange-blossom, which replaced the myrtle, with great[353] dignity, and Doctor Kölling preached on moderation, with as strong language as ever, but in a weaker voice.

Christian came from Hamburg, very elegantly dressed, looking a little ailing but very lively. He said his business with Burmeester was “top-top”; thought that he and Tilda would probably get married “up there”—that is to say, “each one for himself, of course”; and came very late to the wedding from the visit he paid at the club. Uncle Justus was much moved by the occasion, and with his usual lavishness presented the newly-wedded pair with a beautiful heavy silver epergne. He and his wife practically starved themselves at home, for the weak woman was still paying the disinherited and outcast Jacob’s debts with the housekeeping money. Jacob was rumoured to be in Paris at present. The Buddenbrook ladies from Broad Street made the remark: “Well, let’s hope it will last, this time.” The unpleasant part of this lay in the doubt whether they really hoped it. Sesemi Weichbrodt stood on her tip-toes, kissed her pupil, now Frau Permaneder, explosively on the forehead, and said with her most pronounced vowels: “Be happy, you go-od che-ild!”



In the morning at eight o’clock Consul Buddenbrook, so soon as he had left his bed, stolen through the little door and down the winding stair into the bathroom, taken a bath, and put on his night-shirt again—Consul Buddenbrook, we say, began to busy himself with public affairs. For then Herr Wenzel, barber and member of the Assembly, appeared, with his intelligent face and his red hands, his razors and other tools, and the basin of warm water which he had fetched from the kitchen; and the Consul sat in a reclining-chair and leaned his head back, and Herr Wenzel began to make a lather; and there ensued almost always a conversation that began with the weather and how you had slept the night before, went on to politics and the great world, thence to domestic affairs in the city itself, and closed in an intimate and familiar key on business and family matters. All this prolonged very much the process in hand, for every time the Consul said anything Herr Wenzel had to stop shaving.

“Hope you slept well, Herr Consul?”

“Yes, thanks, Wenzel. Is it fine to-day?”

“Frost and a bit of snow, Herr Consul. In front of St. James’s the boys have made another slide, more than ten yards long—I nearly sat down, when I came from the Burgomaster’s. The young wretches!”

“Seen the papers?”

“The Advertiser and the Hamburg News—yes. Nothing in them but the Orsini bombs. Horrible. It happened on the way to the opera. Oh, they must be a fine lot over there.”

“Oh, it doesn’t signify much, I should think. It has nothing to do with the people, and the only effect will be that the police will be doubled and there will be twice as much interference[355] with the press. He is on his guard. Yes, it must be a perpetual strain, for he has to introduce new projects all the time, to keep himself in power. But I respect him, all the same. At all events, he can’t be a fool, with his traditions, and I was very much impressed with the cheap bread affair. There is no doubt he does a great deal for the people.”

“Yes, Herr Kistenmaker says so too.”

“Stephan? We were talking about it yesterday.”

“It looks bad for Frederick William of Prussia. Things won’t last much longer as they are. They say already that the prince will be made Regent in time.”

“It will be interesting to see what happens then. He has already shown that he has liberal ideas and does not feel his brother’s secret disgust for the Constitution. It is just the chagrin that upsets him, poor man. What is the news from Copenhagen?”

“Nothing new, Herr Consul. They simply won’t. The Confederation has declared that a united government for Holstein and Lauenburg is illegal—they won’t have it at any price.”

“Yes, it is unheard-of, Wenzel. They dare the Bundestag to put it into operation—and if it were a little more lively—oh, these Danes!—Careful with that chapped place, Wenzel.—There’s our direct-line Hamburg railway, too. That has cost some diplomatic battles, and will cost more before they get the concession from Copenhagen.”

“Yes, Herr Consul. The stupid thing is that the Altona-Kiel Railway Company is against it—and, in fact, all Holstein is. Dr. Överdieck, the Burgomaster, was saying so just now. They are dreadfully afraid of Kiel prospering much.”

“Of course, Wenzel. A new connection between the North Sea and the Baltic.—You’ll see, the Kiel-Altona line will keep on intriguing. They are in a position to build a rival railway: East Holstein, Neuminster, Neustadt—yes, that is quite on the cards. But we must not let ourselves be bullied, and we must have a direct route to Hamburg.”

[356]“Herr Consul must take the matter up himself.”

“Certainly, so far as my powers go, and wherever I have any influence. I am interested in the development of our railways—it is a tradition with us from 1851 on. My Father was a director of the Buchen line, which is probably the reason why I was elected so young. I am only thirty-three years old, and my services so far have been very inconsiderable.”

“Oh, Herr Consul! How can the Herr Consul say that after his speech in the Assembly—?”

“Yes, that made an impression, and I’ve certainly shown my good will, at least. I can only be grateful that my Father, Grandfather, and great-Grandfather prepared the way for me, and that I inherited so much of the respect and confidence they received from the town; for without it I could not move as I am now able to. For instance, after ’48 and the beginning of this decade, what did my Father not do towards the reform of our postal service? Think how he urged in the Assembly the union of the Hamburg diligences with the postal service; and how in 1850 he forced the Senate by continuous pressure to join the German-Austrian Postal Union! If we have cheap letter postage now, and stamps and book post, and letter-boxes, and telegraphic connection with Hamburg and Travemünde, he is not the last one to be grateful to. Why, if he and a few other people had not kept at the Senate continually, we should most likely still be behind the Danish and the Thurn-and-Taxis postal service! So when I have an opinion nowadays on these subjects, people listen to me.”

“The Herr Consul is speaking God’s truth. About the Hamburg line, Doctor Överdieck was saying to me only three days ago: ‘When we get where we can buy a suitable site for the station in Hamburg, we will send Consul Buddenbrook to help transact the business, for in such dealings he is better than most lawyers.’ Those were his very words.”

“Well, that is very flattering to me, Wenzel.—Just put a little more lather on my chin, will you? It wants a bit more cleaning up.—Yes, the truth is, we mustn’t let the grass[357] grow under our feet. I am saying nothing against Överdieck, but he is getting on. If I were Burgomaster I’d make things move a little faster. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that they are installing gas for the street-lighting, and the miserable old oil lamps are disappearing—I admit I had a little something to do with that change. Oh, how much there is to do! Times are changing, Wenzel, and we have many responsibilities toward the new age. When I think back to my boyhood—you know better than I do what the town looked like then: the streets without sidewalks, grass growing a foot high between the paving-stones, and the houses with porticos and benches sticking out into the streets—and our buildings from the time of the Middle Ages spoilt with clumsy additions, and all tumbling down because, while individuals had money and nobody went hungry, the town had none at all and just muddled along, as my brother-in-law calls it, without ever thinking of repairs. That was a happy and comfortable generation, when my grandfather’s crony, the good Jean Jacques Hofstede, strolled about the town and translated improper little French poems. They had to end, those good old times; they have changed, and they will have to change still more. Then the population was thirty-seven thousand: now it is fifty, you know, and the whole character of the place is altering. There is so much building, and the suburbs are spreading out, and we are able to have good streets and restore the old monuments out of our great period. Yet even all that is merely superficial. The most important matter is still outstanding, my dear Wenzel. I mean, of course, the ceterum censeo of my dear Father: the customs union. We must join, Wenzel; there should be no longer any question about it, and you must all help me fight for it. As a business man, believe me, I am better informed than the diplomats, and the fear that we should lose independence and freedom of action is simply laughable in this case. The Mecklenburg and Schleswig-Holstein Inland would take us in, which is the more desirable for the reason that we do not control the northern trade quite[358] to the extent that we once did.—That’s enough. Please give me the towel, Wenzel,” concluded the Consul.

Then the market price of rye, which stood at fifty-five thaler and showed disquieting signs of falling still further, was talked about, and perhaps there was a mention of some event or other in the town; and then Herr Wenzel vanished by the basement route and emptied the lather out of his shiny basin on to the pavement in the street. And the Consul mounted the winding stair into the bedroom, and found Gerda awake, and kissed her on the forehead. Then he dressed.

These little morning sessions with the lively barber formed the introduction to busy days, full to running over with thinking, talking, writing, reckoning, doing business, going about in the town. Thanks to his travel, his interests, and his knowledge of affairs, Thomas Buddenbrook’s mind was the least provincial in the district; and he was certainly the first to realize the limitations of his lot. The lively interest in public affairs which the years of the Revolution had brought in, was suffering throughout the whole country from a period of prostration and arrest, and that field was too sterile to occupy a vigorous talent; but Thomas Buddenbrook possessed the spirit to take to himself that wise old saying that all human achievement is of a merely symbolic value, and thus to devote all that he had of capacity, enthusiasm, energy, and strength of will to the service of the community as well as to the service of his own name and firm. He stood in the front rank of his small society and was seriously ambitious to give his city greatness and power within her sphere—though he had the intellect too, to smile at himself for the ambition even while he cherished it.

He ate his breakfast, served by Anton, and went to the office in Meng Street, where he remained about an hour, writing two or three pressing letters and telegrams, giving this or that instruction, imparting to the wheels of industry a small push, and then leaving them to revolve under the cautious eye of Herr Marcus.

[359]He went to assemblies and committee meetings, visited the Bourse, which was held under the Gothic arcades in the Market square, inspected dockyards and warehouses, talked with the captains of the ships he owned, and transacted much and various business all day long until evening, interrupted only by the hasty luncheon with his Mother and dinner with Gerda; after which he took a half-hour’s rest on the sofa with his cigarette and the newspaper. Customs, rates, construction, railways, posts, almonry—all this as well as his own business occupied him; and even in matters commonly left to professionals he acquired insight and judgment, especially in finance, where he early showed himself extremely gifted.

He was careful not to neglect the social side. True, he was not always punctual, and usually appeared at the very last minute, when the carriage waited below and his wife sat in full toilette. “I’m sorry, Gerda,” he would say; “I was detained”; and he would dash upstairs to don his evening clothes. But when he arrived at a dinner, a ball, or an evening company, he showed lively interest and ranked as a charming causeur. And in entertaining he and his wife were not behind the other rich houses. In kitchen and cellar everything was “tip-top,” and he himself was considered a most courteous and tactful host, whose toasts were wittier than the common run. His quiet evenings he spent at home with Gerda alone, smoking, listening to her music, or reading with her some book of her selection.

Thus his labours enforced success, his consequence grew in the town, and the firm had excellent years, despite the sums drawn out to settle Christian and to pay Tony’s second dowry. And yet there were troubles which had, at times, the power to lame his courage for hours, weaken his elasticity, and depress his mood.

There was Christian in Hamburg. His partner, Herr Burmeester, had died quite suddenly of an apoplectic stroke, in the spring of the year 1858. His heirs drew their money out of the business, and the Consul strongly advised Christian[360] against trying to continue it with his own means, for he knew how difficult it is to carry on a business already established on definite lines if the working capital be suddenly diminished. But Christian insisted upon the continuation of his independence. He took over the assets and the liabilities of H. C. F. Burmeester and Company, and trouble was to be looked for.

Then there was the Consul’s sister Clara in Riga. Her marriage with Pastor Tiburtius had remained unblest with children—but then, as Clara Buddenbrook she had never wanted children, and probably had very little talent for motherhood. Now her husband wrote that her health left much to be desired. The severe headaches from which she had suffered even as a girl were now recurring periodically, to an almost unbearable extent.

That was disquieting. And even here at home there was another source of worry—for, as yet, there was no certainty whatever that the family name would live. Gerda treated the subject with sovereign indifference which came very near to being repugnance. Thomas concealed his anxiety. But the old Frau Consul took the matter in hand and consulted Grabow.

“Doctor—just between ourselves—something is bound to happen sometime, isn’t it? A little mountain air at Kreuth, a little seashore at Glucksberg or Travemünde—but they don’t seem to work. What do you advise?” Dr. Grabow’s pleasant old prescription: “a nourishing diet, a little pigeon, a slice of French bread,” didn’t seem strong enough, either, to fit the case. He ordered Pyrmont and Schlangenbad.

Those were three worries. And Tony? Poor Tony!



She wrote: “... And when I say ‘croquettes,’ she doesn’t understand me, because here they are called ‘meaties’; and when she says ‘broccoli,’ how could any Christian know she means cauliflower? When I say ‘baked potatoes,’ she screams ‘How?’ at me, until I remember to say ‘roast potatoes,’ which is what they call them here. ‘How’ means ‘What did you say?’ And she is the second one I’ve had—I sent away the first one, named Katy, because she was so impertinent—or at least, I thought she was. I’m getting to see now that I may have been mistaken, for I’m never quite sure whether people here mean to be rude or friendly. This one’s name is Babette. She has a very pleasing exterior, with something southern, the way of some of them have here; black hair and eyes, and teeth that any one might envy. She is willing, too, and I am teaching her how to make some of our home dishes. Yesterday we had sorrel and currants, but I wish I hadn’t, for Permaneder objected so much to the sorrel—he picked the currants out with a fork—that he would not speak to me the whole afternoon, but just growled; and I can tell you, Mother, that life is not so easy.”

Alas, it was not only the sorrel and the “meaties” that were embittering Tony’s life. Before the honeymoon was over she had had a blow so unforeseen, so unexpected, so incomprehensible, that it took away all her joy in life. She could not get over it. And here it was.

Not until after the Permaneder couple had been some weeks in Munich had Consul Buddenbrook liquidated the sum fixed by his Father’s will as his sister’s second marriage portion. That sum, translated into gulden, had at last safely reached Herr Permaneder’s hands, and Herr Permaneder had[362] invested it securely and not unprofitably. But then, what he had said, quite unblushingly and without embarrassment, to his wife, was this: “Tonerl”—he called her “Tonerl”—“Tonerl, that’s good enough for me. What do we want of more? I been working my hide off all my days; now I’d like to sit down and have a little peace and quiet, damned if I wouldn’t. Let’s rent the parterre and the second floor, and still we’ll have a good house, where we can sit and eat our bit of pig’s meat without screwing ourselves up and putting on so much lug. And in the evening I can go to the Hofbräu house. I’m no swell—I don’t care about scraping money together. I want my comfort. I quit to-morrow and go into private life.”

“Permaneder!” she had cried; and for the first time she had spoken his name with that peculiar throaty sound which her voice always had when she uttered the name of Grünlich.

“Oh, shut up! Don’t take on!” was all he answered. There had followed, thus early in their life together, a quarrel, serious and violent enough to endanger the happiness of any marriage. He came off victorious. Her passionate resistance was shattered upon his urgent longing for “peace and quiet.” It ended in Herr Permaneder’s withdrawing the capital he had in the hop business, so that now Herr Noppe, in his turn, could strike the “and Company” off his card. After which Tony’s husband, like most of the friends whom he met around the table in the Hofbräu House, to play cards and drink his regular three litres of beer, limited his activities to the raising of rents in his capacity of landlord, and to an undisturbed cutting of coupons.

The Frau Consul was notified quite simply of this fact. But Frau Permaneder’s distress was evident in the letters which she wrote to her brother. Poor Tony! Her worst fears were more than realized. She had always known that Herr Permaneder possessed none of that “resourcefulness” of which her first husband had had so much; but that he would so entirely confound the expectations she had expressed to Mamsell[363] Jungmann on the eve of her betrothal—that he would so completely fail to recognize the duties he had taken upon himself when he married a Buddenbrook—that she had never dreamed.

But these feelings must be overcome; and her family at home saw from her letters how she resigned herself. She lived on rather monotonously with her husband and Erica, who went to school; she attended to her housekeeping, kept up friendly relations with the people who rented the parterre and the first storey and with the Niederpaur family in Marienplatz; and she wrote now and then of going to the theatre with her friend Eva. Herr Permaneder did not care for the theatre. And it came out that he had grown to more than forty years of age in his beloved Munich without ever having seen the inside of the Pinakothek.

Time passed. But Tony could feel no longer any true happiness in her new life, since the day when Herr Permaneder received her dowry and settled himself down to enjoy his ease. Hope was no more. She would never be able to write home to announce new ventures and new successes. Just as life was now—free from cares, it was true, but so limited, so lamentably “unrefined,”—just so it would remain until the end. It weighed upon her. It was plain from her letters that this very lowness of tone was making it harder for her to adapt herself to the south-German surroundings. In small matters, of course, things grew easier. She learned to make herself understood by the servants and errand-boys, to say “meaties” instead of “croquettes,” and to set no more fruit soup before her husband after the one he had called a “sickening mess.” But, in general, she remained a stranger in her new home; and she never ceased to taste the bitterness of the knowledge that to be a born Buddenbrook was not to enjoy any particular prestige in her adopted home. She once related in a letter the story of how she met in the street a mason’s apprentice, carrying a mug of beer in one hand and holding a large white radish by its tail in the other; who, waving his beer, said jovially: “Neighbour, can ye tell us the time?”[364] She made a joke of it, in the telling; yet even so, a strong undercurrent of irritation betrayed itself. You might be quite certain that she threw back her head and vouchsafed to the poor man neither answer nor glance in his direction. But it was not alone this lack of formality and absence of distinctions that made her feel strange and unsympathetic. She did not live deeply, it is true, into the life or affairs of her new home; but she breathed the Munich air, the air of a great city, full of artists and citizens who habitually did nothing: an air with something about it a little demoralizing, which she sometimes found it hard to take good-humouredly.

The days passed. And then it seemed that there was after all a joy in store—in fact, the very one which was longed for in vain in Broad Street and Meng Street. For not long after the New Year of 1859 Tony felt certain that she was again to become a mother.

The joy of it trembled in her letters, which were full of the old childish gaiety and sense of importance. The Frau Consul, who, with the exception of the summer holiday, confined her journeyings more and more to the Baltic coast, lamented that she could not be with her daughter at this time. Tom and Gerda made plans to go to the christening, and Tony’s head was full of giving them an elegant reception. Alas, poor Tony! The visit which took place was sad indeed, and the christening—Tony had cherished visions of a ravishing little feast, with flowers, sweetmeats, and chocolate—never took place at all. The child, a little girl, only entered into life for a tiny quarter of an hour; then, though the doctor did his best to set the pathetic little mechanism going, it faded out of being.

Consul Buddenbrook and his wife arrived in Munich to find Tony herself not out of danger. She was far more ill than before, and a nervous weakness from which she had already suffered prevented her from taking any nourishment at all for several days. Then she began to eat, and on their departure, the Buddenbrooks felt reassured as far as her health[365] was concerned. But in other ways there was much reason for anxiety; for it had been all too plain, especially to the Consul’s observant eye, that not even their common loss would suffice to bring husband and wife together again.

There was nothing against Herr Permaneder’s good heart. He was truly shaken by the death of the child; big tears rolled down out of his bulging eyes upon his puffy cheeks and on into his frizzled beard. Many times he sighed deeply and gave vent to his favourite expression. But, after all, Tony felt that his “peace and quiet” had not suffered any long interruption. After a few evenings, he sought the Hofbräu House for consolation, and was soon, as he always said, “muddling along” again in his old, good-natured, comfortable, grumbling way, with the easy fatalism natural to him.

But from now on Tony’s letters never lost their hopeless, even complaining tone. “Oh, Mother,” she wrote, “why do I have to bear everything like this? First Grünlich and the bankruptcy, and then Permaneder going out of business—and then the baby! How have I deserved all these misfortunes?”

When the Consul read these outpourings, he could never quite forego a little smile: for, nothwithstanding all the real pain they showed, he heard an undertone of almost comic pride, and he knew that Tony Buddenbrook, as Madame Grünlich or as Madame Permaneder, was and would remain a child. She bore all her mature experiences almost with a child’s unbelief in their reality, yet with a child’s seriousness, a child’s self-importance, and, above all, with a child’s power to throw them off at will.

She could not understand how she had deserved her misfortunes; for even while she mocked at her mother’s piety, she herself was so full of it that she fervently believed in justice and righteousness on this earth.

Poor Tony! The death of her second child was neither the last nor the hardest blow that fell upon her. As the year 1859 drew to a close, something frightful indeed happened.



It was a day toward the end of November—a cold autumn day with a hazy sky. It looked almost as if there would be snow, and a mist was rising, pierced through every now and then by the sun. It was one of those days, common in a seaport town, when a sharp north-east wind whistled round the massive church corners and influenzas were to be had cheap.

Consul Thomas Buddenbrook entered the breakfast-room toward midday, to find his Mother, with her spectacles on her nose, bent over a paper on the table.

“Tom,” she said; and she looked at him, holding the paper with both hands, as if she hesitated to show it to him. “Don’t be startled. But it is not very good news. I don’t understand— It is from Berlin. Something must have happened.”

“Give it to me, please,” he said shortly. He lost colour, and the muscles stood out on his temples as he clenched his teeth. His gesture as he stretched out his hand was so full of decision that it was as if he said aloud: “Just tell me quickly. Don’t prepare me for it!”

He read the lines still standing; one of his light eyebrows went up, and he drew the long ends of his moustache through his fingers. It was a telegram, and it said: “Don’t be frightened. Am coming at once with Erica. All is over. Your unhappy Antonie.”

“‘At once ... at once,’” he said, with irritation, looking at the Frau Consul and giving his head a quick shake. “What does she mean by ‘at once’?”

“That is just a way of putting it, Tom; it doesn’t mean anything particular. She means by the next train, or something like that.”

[367]“And from Berlin! What is she doing in Berlin? How did she get to Berlin?”

“I don’t know, Tom; I don’t understand it. The dispatch only came ten minutes ago. But something must have happened, and we must just wait to see what it is. God in his mercy will turn it all to good. Sit down, my son, and eat your luncheon.”

He took his chair, and mechanically he poured out a glass of porter.

“‘All is over,’” he repeated. And then “‘Antonie.’ How childish!”

He ate and drank in silence.

After a while the Frau Consul ventured to say: “It must be something about Permaneder, don’t you think, Tom?”

He shrugged his shoulders without looking up.

As he went away he said, with his hand on the doorknob, “Well, we must wait and see. As she is not likely to burst into the house in the middle of the night, she will probably reach here sometime to-morrow. You will let me know, won’t you?”

The Frau Consul waited from hour to hour. She had slept very badly, and in the night she rang for Ida Jungmann, who now slept in the back room of the entresol. She had Ida make her some eau sucrée; and she sat up in bed for a long time and embroidered. And now the forenoon passed in nervous expectancy. When the Consul came to second breakfast, he said that Tony could not arrive before the three-thirty-three train from Buchen. At that hour the Frau Consul seated herself in the landscape-room and tried to read, out of a book with a black leather cover decorated with a gold palm-leaf.

It was a day like its predecessor: cold, mist, wind. The stove crackled away behind its wrought-iron screen. The old lady trembled and looked out of the window whenever she heard a wagon. At four o’clock, when she had stopped watching[368] and almost stopped thinking about her daughter, there was a stir below in the house. She hastily turned toward the window and wiped away the damp with her handkerchief. Yes, a carriage had stopped below, and some one was coming up the steps.

She grasped the arms of her chair with both hands to rise. But then she thought better of it and sank back. She only turned her head as her daughter entered, and her face wore an almost defensive expression. Tony burst impetuously into the room: Erica remained outside at the glass door, with her hand in Ida Jungmann’s.

Frau Permaneder wore a fur wrap and a large felt hat with a veil. She looked very pale and ailing, and her upper lip trembled as it used to when the little Tony was about to weep. Her eyes were red. She raised her arms and let them drop, and then she fell on her knees at her Mother’s side, burying her face in the folds of her gown and sobbing bitterly. It was as though she had rushed straight hither from Munich all in one breath, and now lay there, having gained the goal of her headlong flight, exhausted but safe. The Frau Consul sat a moment quite still.

“Tony!” she said then, with gentle remonstrance. She drew the long hatpins out of Frau Permaneder’s hat and laid it on the window-seat; then she stroked gently and soothingly her daughter’s thick ash-blonde hair.

“What is it, my child? What has happened?”

But she saw that patience was her only weapon; for it was long before her question drew out any reply.

“Mother!” uttered Frau Permaneder. “Mamma!” But that was all.

The Frau Consul looked toward the glass door and, still embracing her daughter, stretched out her hand to her grandchild, who stood there shyly with her finger to her mouth.

“Come, child; come here and say how do you do. You have grown so big, and you look so strong and well, for which God be thanked. How old are you now, Erica?”

[369]“Thirteen, Grandmama.”

“Good gracious! A young lady!” She kissed the little maiden over Tony’s head and told her: “Go up with Ida now—we shall soon have dinner. Just now Mamma and I want to talk.”

They were alone.

“Now, my dear Tony? Can you not stop crying? When God sends us a heavy trial, we must bear it with composure. ‘Take your cross upon you,’ we are told. Would you like to go up first and rest a little and refresh yourself, and then come down to me again? Our good Jungmann has your room ready. Thanks for your telegram—of course, it shocked us a good deal—”

She stopped. For Tony’s voice came, all trembling and smothered, out of the folds of her gown: “He is a wicked man—a wicked man! Oh, he is—”

Frau Permaneder seemed not able to get away from this dreadful phrase. It possessed her altogether. She buried her face deeper and deeper in the Frau Consul’s lap and clenched her fist beside the Frau Consul’s chair.

“Do you mean your husband, my child?” asked the old lady, after a pause. “It ought not to be possible for me to have such a thought in my mind, I know; but you leave me nothing else to think, Tony. Has Herr Permaneder done you an injury? Are you making a complaint of him?”

“Babette” Frau Permaneder brought out. “Babette—”

“Babette?” repeated the Frau Consul, inquiringly. Then she leaned back in her chair, and her pale eyes wandered toward the window. She understood now. There was a pause, broken by Tony’s gradually decreasing sobs.

“Tony,” said the Frau Consul after a little space, “I see now that there has been an injury done you—that you have cause to complain. But was it necessary to give the sense of injury such violent expression? Was it necessary to travel here from Munich, with Erica, and to make it appear—for other people will not be so sensible as we are—that you have[370] left him permanently; that you will not go back to him?”

“But I won’t go back to him—never!” cried Frau Permaneder, and she lifted up her head with a jerk and looked at her Mother wildly with tear-stained eyes, and then buried her face again. The Frau Consul affected not to have heard.

“But now,” she went on, in a louder key, slowly nodding her head from one side to the other, “now that you are here, I am glad you are. For you can unburden your heart, and tell me everything, and then we shall see how we can put things right, by taking thought, and by mutual forbearance and affection.”

“Never,” Tony said again. “Never!” And then she told her story. It was not all intelligible, for she spoke into the folds of her Mother’s stuff gown, and broke into her own narrative with explosions of passionate anger. But what had happened was somewhat as follows:

On the night of the twenty-fourth of the month, Madame Permaneder had gone to sleep very late, having been disturbed during the day by the nervous digestive trouble to which she was subject. She had been awakened about midnight, out of a light slumber, by a confused and continuous noise outside on the landing—a half-suppressed, mysterious noise, in which one distinguished the creaking of the stairs, a sort of giggling cough, smothered, protesting words, and, mixed with these, the most singular snarling sounds. But there was no doubt whence they proceeded. Frau Permaneder had hardly, with her sleepy senses, taken them in before she interpreted them as well, in such a way that she felt the blood leave her cheeks and rush to her heart, which contracted and then went on beating with heavy, oppressed pulsations. For a long, dreadful minute she lay among the pillows as if stunned, as if paralysed. Then, as the shameless disturbance did not stop, she had with trembling hands kindled a light, had left her bed, thrilling with horror, repulsion, and despair, had opened the door and hurried out on to the landing in her slippers, the light in her hand—to the top of the “ladder”[371] that went straight up from the house door to the first storey. And there, on the upper steps, in all its actuality, was indeed the very scene she had pictured in her mind’s eye as she listened to the compromising noises. It was an unseemly and indecent scuffle, a sort of wrestling match between Babette the cook and Herr Permaneder. The girl must have been busied late about the house, for she had her bunch of keys and her candle in her hand as she swayed back and forth in the effort to fend her master off. He, with his hat on the back of his head, held her round the body and kept making essays, now and then successfully, to press his face, with its great walrus moustache, against hers. As Antonie appeared, Babette exclaimed something that sounded like “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!”—and “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” echoed Herr Permaneder likewise, as he let go. Almost in the same second the girl vanished, and there was Herr Permaneder left standing before his wife, with drooping head, drooping arms, drooping moustaches too; and all he could get out was some idiotic remark like “Holy Cross, what a mess!” When he ventured to lift his eyes, she was no longer there. She was in the bed-chamber, half-sitting, half-lying on the bed, repeating over and over again with frantic sobbing, “Shame, shame!” He leaned rather flabbily in the doorway and jerked his shoulder in her direction—had he been closer, the gesture would have been a nudge in the ribs. “Hey, Tonerl—don’t be a fool, you know. Say—you know Franz, the Ramsau Franz, he had his name-day to-day, and we’re all half-seas over.” Strong alcoholic fumes pervaded the room as he spoke; and they brought Frau Permaneder’s excitement to a climax. She sobbed no more, she was no longer weak and faint. Carried away by frenzy, incapable of measuring her words, she poured out her disgust, her abhorrence, her complete and utter contempt and loathing of him and all his ways. Herr Permaneder did not take it meekly. His head was hot; for he had treated his friend Franz not only to many beers, but to “champagne wine” as well. He answered and answered[372] wildly—the quarrel reached a height far greater than the one that had signalized Herr Permaneder’s retirement into private life, and it ended in Frau Antonie gathering her clothes together and withdrawing into the living-room for the night. And at the end he had flung at her a word—a word which she would not repeat—a word that should never pass her lips—a word....

This was the major content of the confession which Frau Permaneder had sobbed into the folds of her mother’s gown. But the “word,” the word that in that fearful night had sunk into her very depths—no, she would not repeat it; no, she would not, she asseverated,—although her mother had not in the least pressed her to do so, but only nodded her head, slowly, almost imperceptibly, as she looked down on Tony’s lovely ash-blond hair.

“Yes, yes,” she said; “this is very sad, Tony. And I understand it all, my dear little one, because I am not only your Mamma, but I am a woman like you as well. I see now how fully your grief is justified, and how completely your husband, in a moment of weakness, forgot what he owed to you and—”

“In a moment—?” cried Tony. She sprang up. She made two steps backward and feverishly dried her eyes. “A moment, Mamma! He forgot what he owed to me and to our name? He never knew it, from the very beginning! A man that quietly sits down with his wife’s dowry—a man without ambition or energy or will-power! A man that has some kind of thick soup made out of hops in his veins instead of blood—and I verily believe he has! And to let himself down to such common doings as this with Babette—and when I reproached him with his good-for-nothingness, to answer with a word that—a word—”

And, arrived once more at the word, the word she would not repeat, quite suddenly she took a step forward and said, in a completely altered, a quieter, milder, interested tone: “How perfectly sweet! Where did you get that, Mamma?”[373] She motioned with her chin toward a little receptacle, a charming basket-work stand woven out of reeds and decorated with ribbon bows, in which the Frau Consul kept her fancy-work.

“I bought it, some time ago,” answered the old lady. “I needed it.”

“Very smart,” Tony said, looking at it with her head on one side. The Frau Consul looked at it too, but without seeing it, for she was in deep thought.

“Now, my dear daughter,” she said at last, putting out her hand again, “however things are, you are here, and welcome a hundred times to your old home. We can talk everything over when we are calmer. Take your things off in your room and make yourself comfortable. Ida!” she called into the dining-room, lifting her voice, “lay a place for Madame Permaneder, and one for Erica, my dear.”



Tony returned to her bed-chamber after dinner. During the meal her Mother had told her that Thomas was aware of her expected arrival; and she did not seem particularly anxious to meet him.

The Consul came at six o’clock. He went into the landscape-room and had a long talk with his Mother.

“How is she?” he asked. “How does she seem?”

“Oh, Tom, I am afraid she is very determined. She is terribly wrought up. And this word—if I only knew what it was he said—”

“I will go up and see her.”

“Yes, do, Tom. But knock softly, so as not to startle her, and be very calm, will you? Her nerves are upset. That is the trouble she has with her digestion—she has eaten nothing. Do talk quietly with her.”

He went up quickly, skipping a step in his usual way. He was thinking, and twisting the ends of his moustache, but as he knocked his face cleared—he was resolved to handle the situation as long as possible with humour.

A suffering voice said “Come in,” and he opened the door, to find Frau Permaneder lying on the bed fully dressed. The bed curtains were flung back, the down quilt was underneath her back, and a medicine bottle stood on the night-table. She turned round a little and propped her head on her hand, looking at him with her pouting smile. He made a deep bow and spread out his hands in a solemn gesture.

“Well, dear lady! To what are we indebted for the honour of a visit from this personage from the royal city of—?”

“Oh, give me a kiss, Tom,” she said, sat up to offer him her cheek, and then sank back again. “Well, how are you, my[375] dear boy? Quite unchanged, I see, since I saw you in Munich.”

“You can’t tell much about it with the blinds down, my dear. And you ought not to steal my thunder like that, either. It is more suitable for me to say—” he held her hand in his, and at the same time drew up a chair beside the bed—“as I so often have, that you and Tilda—”

“Oh, for shame, Tom!—How is Tilda?”

“Well, of course. Madame Krauseminz sees she doesn’t starve. Which doesn’t prevent her eating for the week ahead when she comes here on Thursday.”

She laughed very heartily—as she had not for a long time back, in fact. Then she broke off with a sigh, and asked “And how is business?”

“Oh, we get on. Mustn’t complain.”

“Thank goodness, here everything is as it should be. Oh, Tom, I don’t feel much like chatting pleasantly about trifles!”

“Pity. One should preserve one’s sense of humour, quand même.”

“All that is at an end, Tom.—You know all?”

“‘You know all’!” he repeated. He dropped her hand and pushed back his chair. “Goodness gracious, how that sounds! ‘All’! What-all lies in that ‘all’? ‘My love and grief I gave thee,’ eh? No, listen!”

She was silent. She swept him with an astonished and deeply offended glance.

“Yes, I expected that look,” he said, “for without that look you would not be here. But, dear Tony, let me take the thing as much too lightly as you take it too seriously. You will see we shall complement each other very nicely—”

“Too seriously, Thomas? I take it too seriously?”

“Yes.—For heaven’s sake, don’t let’s make a tragedy of it! Let us take it in a lower key, not with ‘all is at an end’ and ‘your unhappy Antonie.’ Don’t misunderstand me, Tony. You well know that no one can be gladder than I that you have come. I have long wished you would come to us on a visit[376] by yourself, without your husband, so that we could be en famille together once more. But to come now, like this—my dear child, I beg your pardon, but it was—foolish. Yes—let me finish! Permaneder has certainly behaved very badly, as I will give him to understand pretty clearly—don’t be afraid of that—”

“As to how he has behaved himself, Thomas,” she interrupted him, raising herself up to lay a hand upon her breast, “as far as that goes, I have already given him to understand that—and not only ‘given him to understand,’ I can tell you! I am convinced that further discussion with that man is entirely out of place.” And she let herself fall back again and looked sternly and fixedly at the ceiling.

He bowed, as if under the weight of her words, and kept on looking down at his knee and smiling.

“Well, then, I won’t send him a stiff letter. It is just as you say. In the end it is after all your affair, and it is quite enough if you put him in his place—it is your duty as his wife. After all, there are some extenuating circumstances. There was a birthday celebration, and he came home a little bit exalted, so to speak, and was guilty of a false step, an unseemly blunder—”

“Thomas,” said she, “I do not understand you. I do not understand your tone. You—a man with your principles! But you did not see him. You did not see how drunk he looked—”

“He looked ridiculous enough, I’m sure. But that is it, Tony. You will not see how comic it was—but probably that is the fault of your bad digestion. You caught your husband in a moment of weakness, and you have seen him make himself look ridiculous. But that ought not to outrage you to such an extent. It ought to amuse you a little, perhaps, but bring you closer together as human beings. I will say that I don’t mean you could have just let it pass with a laugh and said nothing about it—not at all. You left home; that was a demonstration of a rather extreme kind, perhaps—a bit too[377] severe—but, after all, he deserved it. I imagine he is feeling pretty down in the mouth. I only mean that you must get to take the thing differently—not so insulted—a little more politic point of view. We are just between ourselves. Let me tell you something, Tony. In any marriage, the important thing is, on which side the moral ascendency lies. Understand? Your husband has laid himself open, there is no doubt of that. He compromised himself and made a laughable spectacle—laughable, precisely because what he did was actually so harmless, so impossible to take seriously. But, after all, his dignity is impaired—and the moral advantage has passed over to you. If you know how to use it wisely, your happiness is assured. If you go back, say in a couple of weeks—certainly I must insist on keeping you for ourselves as long as that—if you go back to Munich in a couple of weeks, you will see—”

“I will not go back to Munich, Thomas.”

“I beg your pardon?” he asked, putting his hand to his ear and screwing up his face as he bent forward.

She was lying on her back with her head sunk in the pillow, so that her chin stood out with an effect of severity. “Never,” she said. And she gave a long, audible outward breath and cleared her throat, also at length and deliberately. It was like a dry cough, which had of late become almost a habit with her, and had probably to do with her digestive trouble. There followed a pause.

“Tony,” he said suddenly, getting up and slapping his hand on the arm of his chair, “you aren’t going to make a scandal!”

She gave a side-glance and saw him all pale, with the muscles standing out on his temples. Her position was no longer tenable. She bestirred herself and, to hide the fear she really felt of him, grew angry in her turn. She sat up quickly and put her feet to the floor. With glowing cheeks and a frowning brow, making hasty motions of the head and hands, she began: “Scandal, Thomas! You want to tell me[378] not to make a scandal, when I have been insulted, and people spit in my face? Is that worthy of a brother, you will permit me to ask? Circumspection, tact—they are very well in their place. But there are limits, Tom—I know just as much of life as you do, and I tell you there is a point where the care for appearances leaves off, and cowardice begins! I am astonished that such a stupid goose as I am have to tell you this—yes, I am a stupid goose, and I should not be surprised if Permaneder never loved me at all, for I am an ugly old woman, very likely, and Babette is certainly prettier than I am! But did that give him a right to forget the respect he owed to my family, and my upbringing, and all my feelings? You did not see the way he forgot himself, Tom; and since you did not see it, you cannot understand, for I can never tell you how disgusting he was. You did not hear the word that he called after me, your sister, when I took my things and went out of the room, to sleep on the sofa in the living-room. But I heard it, and it was a word that—a word— Oh, it was that word, let me tell you, Thomas, that caused me, to spend the whole night packing my trunk, to wake Erica early in the morning, and to leave the place, rather than to remain in the neighbourhood of a man who could utter such words. And to such a man, as I said before, I will never, never return, not so long as I have any self-respect, or care in the least what becomes of me in my life on this earth.”

“And will you now have the goodness, to tell me what this cursed word was? Yes or no?”

“Never, Thomas! Never would I permit that word to cross my lips. I know too well what I owe to you and to myself within these walls.”

“Then it’s no use talking with you!”

“That may easily be. I am sure I do not want to discuss it any further.”

“What do you expect to do? Get a divorce?”

“Yes, Tom; such is my firm determination. I feel that I owe it to myself, my child, and my family.”

[379]“That is all nonsense, of course,” he said in a dispassionate tone. He turned on his heel and moved away, as if his words had settled the matter. “It takes two to make a divorce, my child. Do you think Permaneder will just say yes and thank you kindly? The idea is absurd.”

“Oh, you can leave that to me,” she said, quite undismayed. “You mean he will refuse on account of the seventeen thousand marks current. But Grünlich wasn’t willing, either, and they made him. There are ways and means, I’m sure. I’ll go to Dr. Gieseke. He is Christian’s friend, and he will help me. Oh, yes, of course, I know it was not the same thing then. It was ‘incapacity of the husband to provide for his family.’ You see, I know my way about in these affairs. Dear me, you act as if this were the first time in my life that I got a divorce! But even so, Tom. Perhaps there is nothing that applies to this case. Perhaps it is impossible—you may be right. But it is all the same; my resolve is fixed. Let him keep the money. There are higher things in life. He will never see me again, either way.”

She coughed again. She had left the bed and seated herself in an easy-chair, resting one elbow on its arm. Her chin was so deeply buried in her hand that her four bent fingers clutched her under lip. She sat with her body turned to the right, staring with red, excited eyes out of the window.

The Consul walked up and down, sighed, shook his head, shrugged his shoulders. He paused in front of her, fairly wringing his hands.

“You are a child, Tony, a child,” said he in a discouraged, almost pleading tone. “Every word you have spoken is the most utter childish nonsense. Will you make an effort, now, if I beg you, to think about the thing for just one minute like a grown woman? Don’t you see that you are acting as if something very serious and dreadful had happened to you—as if your husband had cruelly betrayed you and heaped insults on you before all the world? Do try to realize that nothing of the sort has happened! Not a single soul in the[380] world knows anything about that silly affair that happened at the top of your staircase in Kaufinger Street. Your dignity, and ours, will suffer no slightest diminution if you go calmly and composedly back to Permaneder—of course, with your nose in the air! But, on the other hand, if you don’t go back, if you give this nonsense so much importance as to make a scandal out of it, then you will be wounding our dignity indeed.”

She jerked her chin out of her hand and stared him in the face.

“That’s enough, Thomas Buddenbrook. Be quiet now; it’s my turn. Listen. So you think there is no shame and no scandal so long as people don’t get to hear it? Ah, no! The shame that gnaws at us secretly and eats away our self-respect—that is far, far worse. Are we Buddenbrooks the sort of people to be satisfied if everything looks ‘tip-top,’ as you say here, on the outside, no matter how much mortification we have to choke down, inside our four walls? I cannot help feeling astonished at you, Tom. Think of our Father and how he would act to-day—and then judge as he would! No, no! Clean and open dealings must be the rule. Why, you can open your books any day, for all the world to see, and say, ‘Here they are, look at them.’ We should all of us be just the same. I know how God has made me. I am not afraid. Let Julchen Möllendorpf pass me in the street and not speak, if she wants to. Let Pfiffi Buddenbrook sit here on Thursday afternoons and shake all over with spite, and say, ‘Well, that is the second time! But, of course, both times the men were to blame!’ I feel so far above all that now, Thomas—farther than I can tell you! I know I have done what I thought was right. But if I am to be so afraid of Julchen Möllendorpf and Pfiffi Buddenbrook as to swallow down all sorts of insults and let myself be cursed out in a drunken dialect that isn’t even grammar—to stop with a man in a town where I have to get used to that kind of language and the kind of scenes I saw that night at the top of the stairs—where I have to forget my[381] origin and my upbringing and everything that I am, and learn to disown it altogether in order to act as if I were satisfied and happy—that is what I call undignified—that is what I call scandalous, I tell you!”

She broke off, buried her chin once more in her hand, and stared out of the window. He stood before her, his weight on one leg, his hands in his trousers pockets. His eyes rested on her unseeing, for he was in deep thought, and slowly moving his head from side to side.

“Tony,” he said. “You’re telling the truth. I knew it all along; but you betrayed yourself just now. It is not the man at all. It is the place. It isn’t this other idiotic business—it is the whole thing all together. You couldn’t get used to it. Tell the truth.”

“Thomas,” she cried, “it is the truth!” She sprang up as she spoke, and pointed straight into his face with her outstretched hand. Her own face was red. She stood there in a warlike pose, one hand grasping the chair, gesticulating with the other, and made a long, agitated, passionate speech that welled up in a resistless tide. The Consul stared at her amazed. Scarcely would she pause to draw breath, when new words would come gushing and bubbling forth. Yes, she found words for everything; she gave full expression to all the accumulated disgust of her Munich years. Unassorted, confused, she poured it all out, one thing after another; she kept nothing back. It was like the bursting of a dam—an assertion of desperate integrity; something elemental, a force of nature, that brooked no restraint.

“It is the truth!” she cried. “Say it again, Thomas! Oh, I can tell you plainly, I am no stupid goose any longer; I know what I have to expect. I don’t faint away at my time of life, to hear that dirty work goes on now and then. I’ve known people like Teary Trieschke, and I was married to Bendix Grünlich, and I know the dissipated creatures there are here in this town. I am no country innocent, I tell you; and the affair with Babette wouldn’t have made me go off the[382] handle like that, just by itself. No, Thomas, the thing was that it filled the cup to overflowing—and that didn’t take much, for it was full already, and had been for a long time—a long time. It would have taken very little to make it run over. And then this happened! The knowledge that I could not depend on Permaneder even in that way—that put the top on everything. It knocked the bottom out of the cask. It brought to a head all at once my intention to get away from Munich, that had been slowly growing in my mind a long time before that, Tom; for I cannot live down there—I swear it before God and all His heavenly hosts! How wretched I have been, Thomas, you can never know. When you were there on a visit, I concealed everything, for I am a tactful woman and do not burden others with my complainings, nor wear my heart on my sleeve on a week-day. I have always been rather reserved. But I have suffered, Tom, suffered with my entire being—with my whole personality, so to speak. Like a plant, a flower that has been transplanted into a foreign soil—if I may make such a comparison. You will probably find it a most unsuitable one, for I am really an ugly old woman—but I could not be planted in a more foreign soil than that, and I would just as lief go and live in Turkey! Oh, we should never be transplanted, we northern folk! We should stick to the shore of our own bay; we can only really thrive upon our native soil! You all used to laugh at my taste for the nobility. Yes, in these years I have often thought of what somebody said to me once, in times gone by. A very clever man. ‘Your sympathies are with the nobility,’ he said. ‘Shall I tell you why? Because you yourself belong to the nobility. Your father is a great gentleman, and you are a princess. A gulf lies between you and the rest of us who do not belong to the governing classes.’ Yes, Tom. We feel like the nobility, and we realize the difference; we should never try to live where we are not known, where no one understands our worth, for we shall have nothing but chagrin, and be laughed at for our arrogance. Yes, they[383] all found me ridiculously arrogant. They did not say so, but I felt it every minute, and that made me suffer, too. Do you think I feel arrogant, Tom—in a place where they eat cake with a knife, and the very princes speak bad grammar, and if a gentleman picks up a lady’s fan it is supposed to be a love-affair. Get used to it? To people without dignity, morals, energy, ambition, self-respect, or good manners, lazy and frivolous, stupid and shallow at the same time?—no, never, never, as long as I am a Buddenbrook and your sister! Eva Ewers managed it—but Eva is not a Buddenbrook, and she has a husband that amounts to something. It was different with me. You think back, Tom, from the very beginning: I come from a home where people work and get things accomplished and have a purpose in life, and I go down there to Permaneder—and he sits himself down with my dowry— Oh, that was genuine enough, that was characteristic—but it was the only good thing there was about it! And then? I was going to have a baby; that would have made everything up to me. And what happens? It dies. I don’t blame Permaneder for that, of course; I don’t mean that. God forbid. He did everything he could—and he didn’t go to the café for several days. But, after all, it belonged to the same thing. It made me no happier, as you can well believe. But I didn’t give in, and I didn’t grumble. I was alone, and misunderstood, and pointed at for being arrogant; but I said to myself: ‘You yielded him your consent for life. He is lumpy and lazy, and he caused you a cruel disappointment. But his heart is pure, and he means well.’ And then I had to bear the sight of him in that last unspeakable minute. And I said to myself: ‘He understands you no better and respects you no more and no less than the others do, and he calls you names that one of our workmen up here wouldn’t throw at a dog!’ I knew then that nothing bound me to him any more, and that it was an indignity for me to stay. When I was driving from the station this afternoon, I passed Nielsen the porter, and he took off his hat and made me a deep bow, and[384] I bowed back to him—not arrogantly, not a bit—I waved my hand, just the way Father used to. And here I am. You can do what you like: you can harness up all your work-horses—but you can never drag me back to Munich again. And to-morrow I go to Gieseke!”

Thus she spoke; and, finishing, sank back exhausted in her chair and stared again out of the window.

Tom was alarmed, shaken, stupefied. He stood before her and found no words. He raised his arms up shoulder-high, drawing a long breath. Then he let them fall against his thighs.

“Well, that’s an end of it,” he said. His voice was calm, and he turned and went toward the door.

Her face wore now the same expression, the same half-pouting, half-injured smile, as when he entered.

“Tom?” she said, with a rising inflection. “Are you vexed with me?”

He held the oval doorknob in one hand and made a gesture of weary protest with the other. “Oh, no. Not at all.”

She put out her hand and tipped her head on one side. “Come here, Tom. Your poor sister has had a hard time. Life is hard on her. She has much to bear. And at this minute she has nobody, in all the world—”

He came back; he took her hand; but wearily, indifferently, not looking at her face. Suddenly her lip began to quiver.

“You must go on alone now,” she said. “There’s nothing good to be looked for from Christian, and I am finished. Failed. Gone to pieces. I can do no more. I am a poor, useless woman, dependent on you all for my living. I could never have dreamed, Tom, that I should be no help to you at all. Now you stand quite alone, and upon you it depends to keep up the honour and dignity of the family. May God help you in the task.”

Two large, clear, childish tears rolled down over her cheeks, which were beginning to show, very faintly, the first signs of age.



Tony lost no time. She went resolutely about her affair. In the hope of quieting her, of bringing her slowly to a different frame of mind, the Consul said but little. He asked only one thing: that she should be very quiet and stop entirely in the house—and Erica as well. Perhaps it would blow over. The town did not need to know. The family Thursday afternoon was put off on some pretext.

But on the very next day she wrote to Dr. Gieseke and summoned him to Meng Street. She received him alone, in the middle corridor room on the first floor, where a fire was laid, and she had arranged a heavy table with ink and writing materials and a quantity of foolscap paper from the office. They sat down in two easy-chairs.

“Doctor Gieseke,” said Tony. She folded her arms, flung back her head, and looked at the ceiling while she spoke. “You are a man of experience, both professionally and personally. I can speak openly with you.” And thereupon she revealed to him the whole story about Babette and what had happened in her sleeping-chamber. Dr. Gieseke regretted being obliged to explain to her that neither the affair on the stairs nor the insult she had undoubtedly received, the precise nature of which she hesitated to divulge, was sufficient ground for a divorce.

“Very good,” she said. “Thank you.”

And then, at her request, he gave an exposition of the existing legal grounds for divorce, and an even longer discourse after it, which had for its subject-matter the law touching dowry rights. She listened with open mind and strained attention; and then, with cordial thanks, dismissed Dr. Gieseke for the time being.

[386]She went downstairs and demanded audience of her brother in his private office.

“Thomas,” she said, “please write to the man at once—I do not like to mention his name. As far as the money goes, I am perfectly informed on that subject. Let him speak. Me he shall never see again, whatever he decides. If he agrees to a divorce, we will ask him to give an accounting and restore my dos. If he refuses, we need not be discouraged. For, as you probably know, Permaneder’s right to my dos, is, legally speaking a property right. We grant that. But on the other hand, thank goodness, I have certain material rights on my side—”

The Consul walked up and down with his hands behind his back, his shoulders twitching nervously. Tony’s face, as she uttered the word dos was too unutterably self-satisfied!

He had no time. Heaven knew he had no time. Let her have patience, and wait, and bethink herself a hundred times. His nearest duty was a journey to Hamburg—indeed, he must go the very next day, for the purpose of a personal interview with Christian. Christian had written for help, for money which would have to come out of the Frau Consul’s inheritance. His business was in frightful condition; he was in constant difficulties. Yet he seemed to amuse himself royally and went everywhere, to theatres, restaurants, and concert halls. To judge from the debts now coming to light, which he had been able to pile up on the credit of his family name, he had been living far, far beyond his means. And they knew in Meng Street, and at the club—yes, the whole town knew—who was responsible. It was a certain female, a certain Aline Puvogel, who lived alone with her two pretty children. Christian was not the only Hamburg business man who possessed her favours and spent money on her.

In short, Tony’s intentions in the matter of her divorce were not the only dark spot in the Consul’s sky; and the journey to Hamburg was pressing. Besides, it was altogether likely that they would hear from Herr Permaneder.

[387]The Consul went to Hamburg, and came back angry and depressed. No word had come from Munich, and he felt obliged to take the first step. He wrote; wrote rather coldly, with curt condescension, to this effect: Antonie, during her life with Permaneder, had been subjected to great disappointments—that would not be denied. Without going into detail, it was evident that she could never find happiness in this marriage. Her wish that it should be dissolved must be justified, to the mind of any reasonable person; and her determination not to return to Munich was entirely unshakable. And he put the question as to what were Herr Permaneder’s feelings in view of the facts which he had just stated.

There were more days of suspense. And then came Herr Permaneder’s reply.

He answered as no one had expected him to answer—not Dr. Gieseke, nor the Frau Consul, not Thomas, nor Antonie herself. He agreed, quite simply, to a divorce.

He wrote that he deeply regretted what had happened, but that he respected Antonie’s wishes, as he saw that he and she had “never hit it off.” If it were true that she had suffered during those years through him, he begged her to forget and forgive. As he would probably never see her and Erica again, he sent them both his hearty good-wishes for all happiness on this earth. And he signed himself, Alois Permaneder. In a postscript he offered to make immediate restitution of the dowry. He had enough without it to lead a life free from care. He did not require to have notice given, for business there was none to wind up, the house belonged to him, and the money was ready any time.

Tony felt a slight twinge of shame, and was almost inclined, for the first time, to admit that Herr Permaneder’s indifference to money matters might have something good about it.

Now it was Dr. Gieseke’s turn again. He communicated with the husband, and a plea of “mutual incompatibility” was set up as ground for the divorce. The hearing began—Tony’s second divorce case. She talked about it night and[388] day, and the Consul lost his temper several times. Tony was in no state to share his feelings. She was entirely taken up with words like “tangibilities,” “improvabilities,” “accessions,” “productivity,” “dowry rights,” and the like, which she used in season and out of season, with marvellous fluency, her shoulders slightly raised. One point in Dr. Gieseke’s long disquisitions had made a great impression on her: it had to do with “treasure” found in any piece of property that has constituted part of a dowry, which was to be regarded as a component part of the dowry, to be liquidated if the marriage came to an end. About this “treasure”—which was, of course, non-existent—she talked to every soul she knew: Ida Jungmann, Uncle Justus, poor Clothilde, the Broad Street Buddenbrooks—and they, when they heard how matters stood, just folded their hands in their laps and looked at each other in speechless joy that this satisfaction, too, had been vouchsafed them. Therese Weichbrodt was told of it—Erica had gone to stay at the pension again—and Madame Kethelsen too, though this last, for more than one reason, understood not a single word.

Then came the day when the divorce was pronounced; when the last formalities were gone through, and Tony asked Thomas for the family papers and set down this last event with her own hand. Yes, it was done. All that remained was to get used to it.

She did it gallantly. She bore, with unscathed dignity, the tiny dagger-thrusts of the ladies from Broad Street; she met the Hagenströms and Möllendorpfs on the street and looked with chilling indifference straight over their heads; and she quite gave up going into society—the more easily that it had for some years past forsaken her Mother’s house for her brother’s. She had her own immediate family, the Frau Consul, Tom, and Gerda; she had Ida Jungmann and her motherly friend Sesemi Weichbrodt; and she had Erica, upon whose future she probably built her own last secret[389] hopes, and upon whose aristocratic upbringing she expended much care and thought.

Thus she lived, and thus time went on.

Later, in some way that was never quite clear, there came to certain members of the family knowledge of that “word,” the desperate word which had escaped from Herr Permaneder on that never-to-be-forgotten night.

What was it, then, that he had said?

“Go to the devil, you filthy sprat-eating slut!”

And thus Tony Buddenbrook’s second marriage came to an end.



This book is composed on the Linotype in Bodoni, so-called after its designer, Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813) a celebrated Italian scholar and printer. Bodoni planned his type especially for use on the more smoothly finished papers that came into vogue late in the eighteenth century and drew his letters with a mechanical regularity that is readily apparent on comparison with the less formal old style. Other characteristics that will be noted are the square serifs without fillet and the marked contrast between the light and heavy strokes.

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Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

Archaic or variant spelling has been retained.

New original cover art included with this eBook is granted to the public domain.