Thus well equipped, we prepared to fall in love with Vienna, and we found it an easy task, for in spite of it being out of season, we were vastly entertained, and in all likelihood obtained a more intimate knowledge of the inner life of our Vienna friends than we could have done if we had arrived in the season of formal and more elaborate entertainment.
The opera was there, and, with all due respect to Mr. Grau, I must admit that we saw the most perfect production of “Faust” in Vienna than I ever saw on any stage.
The carnival was going on, where no Viennese lady, so the baroness declared, would think of being seen, because confetti-throwing was only resorted to by the canaille (and officers and husbands of high-born ladies, who went there with their little friends of the ballet and chorus), but where we did go, contrary to all precedent, persuading the baroness to make up a smart party and “go slumming.” Her husband being in Italy, she had no fear of meeting him there, and she took good care to send an invitation to any one who might have been inclined to be critical, to be of the party, which, after one mighty protest as to the propriety of it, they one and all accepted with suspicious alacrity.
It was not so very amusing. It consisted of merely walking along a broad avenue lined with booths, and flinging confetti into people’s faces. More rude than lively or even amusing, it seemed to me, and my curiosity was so easily satisfied that I was ready to go after a quarter of an hour. But do you think we could persuade the other ladies to give it up? Indeed, no! Like mischievous children, with Americans for an excuse, they remained until the last ones, laughing immoderately when they encountered men they knew. But as these men always claimed that they had heard we were coming, and immediately attached themselves to our party as a sort of sheet armour of protection against possible tales out of school, our supper party afterward was quite large. A carnival like that in America would end in a fight, if not in murder, for the American loses sight of the fact that it is simply rude play, and when he sees a handful of coloured paper flung in his wife’s face, it might as well be water or pebbles for the stirring effect it has on his fighting blood.
The baroness had such a beautiful evening that she quite sighed when it was over.
“Don’t you ever have this in America?” she asked Bee.
“No, indeed,” said Bee. “And if we did, we wouldn’t go to it. We reserve such frolics for Europe.”
“Exactly as it is with us,” declared the baroness; “Carl and I always go in Paris and Nice, but here—well, we had to have you for an excuse. I must thank you for giving us such an amusing evening!” she added, gaily. “After all, it is so much more diverting to catch one’s friends in mischief than strangers whom no one cares about!”