I never saw anything like it. I never heard anything like it. It was so exhilarating it aroused even the cowherd’s enthusiasm, so that he came and did a turn with Fraeulein Therese.
Then more of the peasants joined in the schuplattle, and in a moment the kitchen was a mass of flying feet, waving arms, leaping, shouting men and laughing girls, the dance growing wilder and wilder, until, with a final yell that split the ears of the groundlings, the music stopped, and the dancers sank breathless into their seats. The excitement was contagious. One after another got up and danced singly, each attempting to outdo the other.
The other guests, who had seen this before, by this time had finished their coffee and left. Our little party remained. The Fraeulein Therese came over to our table, saying that the “shipmaster” would like very much to dance with me. I don’t blush often, but I actually felt my whole face blaze at the proposition. I protested that I couldn’t, and wouldn’t; that I should die of fright if he yelled in my ear, and that he would split my sleeves out if he tried “London bridge” with me. She urged, and Jimmie urged, and Bee and Mrs. Jimmie joined. So finally I did, the Fraeulein having warned him that I would simply consent to waltz, with nothing else. They never reverse, the music was fast and furious, and the room was as hot as a desert at midday. After I had gone around that room twice with the “shipmaster,” he whirled me to my seat, and for fully five minutes the room, the musicians, and the tables continued the waltz that I had left off. It makes me dizzy to think of it even now.
When I got my sight back, I looked apprehensively at Bee, to see if I had gone beyond the limit which her own perfectly ladylike manner always sets for me; but to my surprise her foot was tapping the floor, and there was a gleam in her eyes which told the mischievous Jimmie that the music was getting into Bee’s blood. Jimmie wrenched my little finger under the table and whispered:
“For two cents, Bee would do the skirt dance!”
“Ask her,” I whispered back.
He jogged her elbow and said:
“Give ’um the skirt dance, Bee. You could knock ’um all silly with the way you dance.”
Bee needed no urging. It was quite evident she had made up her mind to do it before we asked. She arose with a look of determination in her eyes, which would have carried her through a murder. When Bee makes up her mind to do a thing, she’ll put it through, good or bad, determined and remorseless, from giving a dinner to the poor to robbing a grave, and nobody can stop her, or laugh her out of it any more than you can persuade her to do it, if she doesn’t want to. Nobody is responsible for Bee’s acts but herself. Therefore, I recall that scene with a peculiar and exquisite joy which the truly good never feel.