There was a little white steamboat at the pier. The lake spread out before us was of the colour which you see when you look down into the depths of some fine unmounted sapphire at Tiffany’s. The pebbles on the beach under the water looked as if they were in a basin of blueing. I reached in to take one out, and thoroughly expected to find my hand stained when I withdrew it. Around the lake arose little hills of the same beauty and verdure as our Berkshires, with the exception that these hills possessed a certain purplish, bluish haze with a gray mist over them, which gave to their colouring the same softness that a woman imparts to her complexion when she wears white chiffon under a black lace veil.
I cannot understand what makes the Achensee so blue and the Koenigsee so green. Chemically analysed, the waters are almost identical, and the verdure surrounding them is very similar, and yet the Koenigsee is as green as the Achensee is blue.
A little steamer took us around the edge of the lake, where at the first landing-place Madame Carreno left us. We could only see the roof of her cottage in the grove of trees.
There is a new hotel somewhere along the lake; but we left that, with its modern equipments and electric lights, and went where we had been directed—to the Hotel Rhiner. Fraeulein Therese met us at the landing. Alas! she was no longer the beauty of her love story of thirty years before. She was ample. Her short hair curled like a boy’s, as without a hat she stood under a green umbrella, to welcome her guests. She had large feet, large hips, a large waist, and large lungs; but as she took our hands in the friendliest of greetings, and beamed on us from her full-moon face, we felt how delightful it was to get home once more.
The Hotel Rhiner is severely plain,—almost unfurnished,—and its appointments are primitive in the extreme. There was no carpet upon the floor of our rooms. Two little single beds stood side by side. A single candle was supposed to furnish light, and the wash-bowl was about the size of your hand. Yet everything was exquisitely clean, and from the windows of our corner room stretched away the blue Achensee and the mountains of the Tyrol, making a view which made you forget that the sheets were damp, and that the chairs were uncushioned.
Physically, I am sure that I was never more uncomfortable than I was at the Hotel Rhiner. The bed squeaked; the mattress, I think, was filled with corn-shucks, the hard part of which had an ungentle way of assailing you when you least expected it. Yet, if now were given to me the choice of going back to the Elysee Palace in Paris, or the Hotel Rhiner on the Achensee, it would not take me two seconds to start for the corn-shucks.
A rosy-cheeked, amply proportioned maid, named Rosa, dressed in the picturesque costume of the Tyrolese peasants, installed us in our rooms and advised us to row upon the lake and see the sunset before supper.