Mr. Julius Hahn and his son Fritz were on a summer journey in the Tyrol. They had started from Mayrhofen early in the afternoon, on two meek-eyed, spiritless farm horses, and they intended to reach Ginzling before night-fall.
There was a great blaze of splendor hidden somewhere behind the western mountain-tops; broad bars of fiery light were climbing the sky, and the chalets and the Alpine meadows shone in a soft crimson illumination. The Zemmbach, which is of a choleric temperament, was seething and brawling in its rocky bed, and now and then sent up a fierce gust of spray, which blew like an icy shower-bath, into the faces of the travellers.
“Ach, welch verfluchtes Wetter!” cried Mr. Hahn fretfully, wiping off the streaming perspiration. “I’ll be blasted if you catch me going to the Tyrol again for the sake of being fashionable!”
“But the scenery, father, the scenery!” exclaimed Fritz, pointing toward a great, sun-flushed peak, which rose in majestic isolation toward the north.
“The scenery—bah!” growled the senior Hahn. “For scenery, recommend me to Saxon Switzerland, where you may sit in an easy cushioned carriage without blistering your legs, as I have been doing to-day in this blasted saddle.”
“Father, you are too fat,” remarked the son, with a mischievous chuckle.
“And you promise fair to tread in my footsteps, son,” retorted the elder, relaxing somewhat in his ill-humor.
This allusion to Mr. Fritz’s prospective corpulence was not well received by the latter. He gave his horse a smart cut of the whip, which made the jaded animal start off at a sort of pathetic mazurka gait up the side of the mountain.
Mr. Julius Hahn was a person of no small consequence in Berlin. He was the proprietor of the “Haute Noblesse” Concert garden, a highly respectable place of amusement, which enjoyed the especial patronage of the officers of the Royal Guard. Weissbeer, Bairisch, Seidel, Pilzner, in fact all varieties of beer, and as connoisseurs asserted, of exceptional excellence, could be procured at the “Haute Noblesse;” and the most ingenious novelties in the way of gas illumination, besides two military bands, tended greatly to heighten the flavor of the beer, and to put the guests in a festive humor. Mr. Hahn had begun life in a small way with a swallow-tail coat, a white choker, and a napkin on his arm; his stock in trade, which he utilized to good purpose, was a peculiarly elastic smile and bow, both of which he accommodated with extreme nicety to the social rank of the person to whom they were addressed. He could listen to a conversation in which he was vitally interested, never losing even the shadow of an intonation, with a blank neutrality of countenance which could only be the result of a long transmission of ancestral inanity. He read the depths of your character, divined your little foibles and vanities, and very likely passed his supercilious judgment upon you, seeming all the while the personification of uncritical humility.