A great deal of grandeur always makes me homesick. It isn’t envy. I don’t want to be a princess and have the bother of winding a horn for my outriders when I want to run to the drug-store for postage stamps, but pomp depresses me. Everybody was strange, foreign languages were pelting me from the rear, noiseless flunkies were carrying pampered lap-dogs with crests on their nasty little embroidered blankets, fat old women with epilepsy and gouty old men with scrofula, representing the aristocracy at its best, were being half carried to and from tables, and the degeneracy of noble Europe was being borne in upon my soul with a sickening force.
The purple twilight was turning black on the distant hills, and the silent stars were slowly coming into view. Clean, health-giving Baden-Baden, in the Valley of the Oos, with its beauty and its pure air, was holding out her arms to all the disease and filth that degenerate riches produce.
I wasn’t exactly blue, but I was gently melancholy. Jimmie was smoking, and Bee and Mrs. Jimmie had their heads together, casting politely furtive glances at a table which held royalty. I certainly was feeling neglected.
Suddenly a voice in English at my elbow said:
“Pardon me, madame, but were not you at the Grand Hotel at Rome last winter?”
“Yes,” I said.
“I mean no impertinence in addressing you. I am the head waiter there in winter, here in summer. I remembered you at once, and I came to say that if anything goes wrong with any of your distinguished party during your stay, I shall count it a favour if you will permit me to remedy it. The hotel is at your disposal. I will send a private maid to attend you during your stay. I hope you will be happy here, madame.”
Then with a bow he was gone.
I was in a state of exhilaration inside which threatened to break through at the sudden attentions of my party.
“Who’s your friend?” said Jimmie.
“How nice of him!” commented his wife.
“Servants never remember me, yet I always fee better than you do,” complained Bee.
“Console yourself. It is only porters and head waiters who care whether I am happy or not,” I said, bitterly.
“Deary me!” said Jimmie, sitting up. “Come, let’s get out of this. We must walk her over where she’ll hear some music and see some pretty lights or she’ll drown herself in her bath to-morrow.”
We went, we promenaded, we showed our clothes, and came home smirking with satisfaction. We had been pointed out everywhere for Americans, which spoke volumes for our clothes and the smallness of our feet.
During two mortal weeks we stayed at Baden-Baden, taking the baths, improving our German and driving through the Black Forest and the Oos Valley to the green hills beyond.
Then on one happy day we were all packed to go. We sent our trunks down, saw every drawer emptied, pulled the bed to pieces, looked under it and decided that this time we hadn’t left so much as a pin. Bee stuck her “blaue cravatte,” as we now called the necktie, under the bureau mat to put on when we came up, and then we snatched a hasty luncheon. In the meantime we turned our “private maid” and the chambermaid loose to see if we had overlooked anything.