That was all correct enough, and yet only half the truth. Effi cared but little for the possession of more or less commonplace things, but when she walked up and down Unter den Linden with her mother, and, after inspecting the most beautiful show-windows, went into Demuth’s to buy a number of things for the honeymoon tour of Italy, her true, character showed itself. Only the most elegant articles found favor in her sight, and, if she could not have the best, she forewent the second-best, because this second meant nothing to her. Beyond question, she was able to forego,—in that her mother was right,—and in this ability to forego there was a certain amount of unpretentiousness. But when, by way of exception, it became a question of really possessing a thing, it always had to be something out of the ordinary. In this regard she was pretentious.
Cousin Dagobert was at the station when the ladies took the train for Hohen-Cremmen. The Berlin sojourn had been a succession of happy days, chiefly because there had been no suffering from disagreeable and, one might almost say, inferior relatives. Immediately after their arrival Effi had said: “This time we must remain incognito, so far as Aunt Therese is concerned. It will not do for her to come to see us here in the hotel. Either Hotel du Nord or Aunt Therese; the two would not go together at all.” The mother had finally agreed to this, had, in fact, sealed the agreement with a kiss on her daughter’s forehead.
With Cousin Dagobert, of course, it was an entirely different matter. Not only did he have the social grace of the Guards, but also, what is more, the peculiarly good humor now almost a tradition with the officers of the Alexander regiment, and this enabled him from the outset to draw out both the mother and the daughter and keep them in good spirits to the end of their stay. “Dagobert,” said Effi at the moment of parting, “remember that you are to come to my nuptial-eve celebration; that you are to bring a cortege goes without saying. But don’t you bring any porter or mousetrap seller. For after the theatrical performances there will be a ball, and you must take into consideration that my first grand ball will probably be also my last. Fewer than six companions—superb dancers, that goes without saying—will not be approved. And you can return by the early morning train.” Her cousin promised everything she asked and so they bade each other farewell.
Toward noon the two women arrived at their Havelland station in the middle of the marsh and after a drive of half an hour were at Hohen-Cremmen. Von Briest was very happy to have his wife and daughter at home again, and asked questions upon questions, but in most cases did not wait for the answers. Instead of that he launched out into a long account of what he had experienced in the meantime. “A while ago you were telling me about the National Gallery