Jimmie glanced around anxiously. The length of our stay depended upon our ability to please Mrs. Jimmie and Bee, who were easily fatigued by the populistic element of society.
“Nothin’ doin’,” growled Jimmie in my ear. “Wake ’em up, can’t you? Create a riot. Let’s smash our beer-mugs, and shout ’Down with the Kaiser!’”
“You’d find you would stay longer than you wanted to if you did that,” I said. “What do you suppose they are all waiting for?”
Jimmie called the redolent maiden, and in German which made her quiver put the question.
“At five o’clock they will open a fresh hogshead of beer—the Lowenbrau,” she answered him.
“Fresh beer?” cried Jimmie. “How long has this been opened?”
“Great Scott!” whispered Jimmie. “Think of me brought up on a bottle, coming to a land where men will sit for an hour to get beer the first five minutes it is opened.”
“See, they are opening it now,” said the maid.
Sure enough, every man in the garden slowly rose and ambled leisurely to a horse-trough in the centre of the garden in which lay perhaps a score of mugs in running water. Each took a stein or two or three, depending on his party, and formed in line in front of the counter across which the beer was passed.
“Come, Jimmie,” I said. “I’m going to get my own stein.”
“Why do they do that?” asked Mrs. Jimmie, after we had got in line.
“It saves the half-cent charged for service,” answered the maid.
“Now isn’t she funny!” complained Bee of me as I returned beaming with content. “She likes to go and do a queer thing like that instead of sitting still to be waited on, like a lady.”
“Been waited on a million times like a lady,” I ventured to respond. “It isn’t every day one can get a cool mug and see the beer drawn fresh and foaming like that. I felt like a Holbein painting.”
Bee, as at Baden-Baden, plaintively gave the attendant a double fee to show that meanness had not caused my apparently thrifty act. Then for the first time in our lives we found what fresh beer really meant.
Even Bee and Mrs. Jimmie admitted that it was worth while coming, and let me record in advance that when we got to Vienna, and they served us an equally delicious beer in long thin glasses as delicate as an eggshell, Bee grew so enthusiastic in the process of beer drinking that Jimmie grew absurdly proud of his pupil, and professed to think that she was “coming round after all.” But Bee declared that it was the thinness of the glasses which attracted her, and insisted that beer out of a German stein was like trying to drink over a stone wall.
We went many times after that, generally in the evening, when the concert was held in a hall which must have contained two thousand people, even when all seated at little tables, and where the band would have deafened you if the hall had not been so large. Here Jimmie and the waitress prevailed upon us to taste the most inhuman dishes with names a yard long, which the maid declared we would find to be “wunderschoen.”