“It was in St. Petersburg that I saw him for the second time. He was then the Marquis of B., in the suite of the Prince of Wales, when he went to pay a visit to the Tzar’s court. The marquis loved me, as I thought sincerely. I was very young, and I believed him. After he went back to London, he arranged for me to sing in grand opera; they tell me that it was a lie; that I could not have sung in opera; that he only wanted to get me away from my family. They tell me that it was a wise thing, directed by God, that I should drop the letter in which he gave me directions how to meet him, that my sister-in-law should find it, and that my brother should overtake me at the train, and prevent my going. I do not know. I only know that I have always loved him. Even after he became the Duke of M., and married one of your countrywomen, I still loved him. Now he is dead, and I love him still. See, I wear this black ribbon always in his memory. Yet they tell me that he lied to me, and that it was for the best. Well, we are all in God’s hands.” And she sighed deeply.
She drew her zither toward her, and began to play as I never heard that simple little instrument played before. Then one by one they began to sing. It was amazing how little of the freshness of their voices has been lost during all this time. I never heard such singing. A bass voice which would have graced the Tzar’s choir, came booming from the old man with the black beard, as they yodeled and sang and sang and yodeled again, until their little audience went quite wild with delight.
Bee and Mrs. Jimmie were beginning to forgive us. Jimmie dashed over to Fraeulein Therese, at Bee’s request, to ask who the old man was.
“It’s the cowherd,” he announced, with his evil-minded simplicity, and seemed to obtain a huge interior enjoyment from the way Bee pushed her chair back out of range, and looked disgusted.
Presently came Rosa, the chambermaid, and Hedwig, the waitress, and a dozen young men from the neighbouring hamlet, and began to dance the “schuplattle.” I have seen this wonderful dance performed on the stage and in other Tyrolese villages, but never have I seen it danced with the abandonment of those young peasants in that little kitchen on the Achensee. They were all beautiful dancers. The young “shipmaster” seized our pretty Rosa around the waist, and they began to waltz. Suddenly, without a moment’s warning, they fell apart, with a yell from the boy which curdled the blood in our veins. Rosa continued waltzing alone, with her hands on her hips, while her partner did a series of cart-wheels around the room, bringing up just in front of her, and waltzing with her again without either of them losing a step. Then he lifted her hands by the finger tips high above her head, and they writhed their bodies in and out under this arch, he occasionally stooping to snatch a kiss, and all the time their feet waltzing in perfect time to the music. Suddenly, with another yell, he leaped into the air, and, with Rosa waltzing demurely in front of him, began the fantastic part of the schuplattle, which consists, as Jimmie says, “of making tambourines all over yourself, spanking yourself on the arms, thighs, legs, and soles of your feet, and the crown of your head, and winding up by boxing your partner’s ears or kissing her, just as you feel inclined.”