The cure could take care of itself. Man lebt nur einmal!
On his way to the Alm he met the fattest man in Marienbad, a former chef of the German emperor, and gave him a friendly salute. He liked to see this monster, who made the scales groan at six hundred pounds, more than double his own weight, for it put him at ease with himself. But this evening he felt uncomfortable. What if he were to reach such a climax in adiposity What if in the years to come he should be compelled, as was the unfortunate man from Berlin, to sit on a chair every five minutes, a chair carried by an impudent boy! What—here his heart sank—if the Fraeulein should mock his size! He walked so rapidly at this idea that other victims of rotundity stopped to look at his tall figure and nodded approval. Ach! Marienbad was wonderful!
After he had found a seat at the Alm next to the low wall, across which he could see a vast stretch of undulating country, lighted by a moon that seemed to swing like a silver hoop in the sky, Krayne ordered Pilsner. He was fatigued by the hilly scramble and he was thirsty. Oh, the lovely thirst of Marienbad—who that hath not been within thy hospitable gates he knoweth it not! The magic of the night was making of him a poet. He could see his Tyrolean friends behind the glass partition of the little hall. There would they sing, not in the open. It was nearly the same, for presently the windows were raised and their voices came floating out to him, the bourdon of Roeselein’s organ easily distinguishable. Love had sharpened his ears. He drained his glass and sent for another. He felt that he was tumbling down an abyss of passion and that nothing in the world could save him.
The intermission! He stood up to attract the attention of Herr Johan Praeger. Roeselein saw him and at once neared him, but without the basket. This delicacy pleased Krayne very much. It showed him that he was not on the same footing as the public. He made the girl take a seat, and though he felt the eyes of the crowd upon him, he was not in the least concerned. London was far away and the season was too young for the annual rush of his compatriots. Would the Fraeulein take something? She accepted coffee, which she drank from a long glass with plenty of milk and sugar. She again gazed at him with such a resigned expression that he felt his starched cuffs grow warm from their contiguity to his leaping pulses.
“Yes, Fraeulein,” he said, employing the familiar du, “thou hast overcome me. Why not accept my offer?” Was this the prudent Hugh Krayne talking? She smiled sweetly and shook her head. Her voice was delicious in colour and intonation, nor did it betray humble origin.
“I fear, dear sir, that what you offer is impossible. My sister, the soprano, would never hear of such a thing. My brother, her husband, would not allow it. And I owe them my living, my education. How could I repay them if I left them now?” she hesitated.