Gieshuebler would have liked nothing better than to make her a declaration of love then and there, and to ask that he might fight and die for her as a Cid or some other campeador. But as that was out of the question, and his heart could no longer endure the situation, he arose from his seat, looked for his hat, which he fortunately found at once, and, after again kissing the young wife’s hand, withdrew quickly from her presence without saying another word.
Such was Effi’s first day in Kessin. Innstetten gave her half a week further time to become settled and write letters to her mother, Hulda, and the twins. Then the city calls began, some of which were made in a closed carriage, for the rains came just right to make this unusual procedure seem the sensible thing to do. When all the city calls had been made the country nobility came next in order. These took longer, as in most cases the distances were so great that it was not possible to make more than one visit on any one day. First they went to the Borckes’ in Rothenmoor, then to Morgnitz, Dabergotz, and Kroschentin, where they made their duty call at the Ahlemanns’, the Jatzkows’, and the Grasenabbs’. Further down the list came, among other families, that of Baron von Gueldenklee in Papenhagen. The impression that Effi received was everywhere the same. Mediocre people, whose friendliness was for the most part of an uncertain character, and who, while pretending to speak of Bismarck and the Crown Princess, were in reality merely scrutinizing Effi’s dress, which some considered too pretentious for so youthful a woman, while others looked upon it as too little suited to a lady of social position. Everything about her, they said, betrayed the Berlin school,—sense in external matters and a remarkable degree of uncertainty and embarrassment in the discussion of great problems. At the Borckes’, and also at the homes in Morgnitz and Dabergotz, she had been declared “infected with rationalism,” but at the Grasenabbs’ she was pronounced point-blank an “atheist.” To be sure, the elderly Mrs. Grasenabb, nee Stiefel, of Stiefelstein in South Germany, had made a weak attempt to save Effi at least for deism. But Sidonie von Grasenabb, an old maid of forty-three, had gruffly interjected the remark: “I tell you, mother, simply an atheist, and nothing short of an atheist, and that settles it.” After this outburst the old woman, who was afraid of her own daughter, had observed discreet silence.
The whole round had taken just about two weeks, and at a late hour on the second day of December the Innstettens were returning home from their last visit. At the Gueldenklees’ Innstetten had met with the inevitable fate of having to argue politics with old Mr. Gueldenklee. “Yes, dearest district councillor, when I consider how times have changed! A generation ago today, or about that long, there was,