“Why, my dear sir, a person would know you are new to Berlin just by your innocent questions. Our aristocracy, our old, real, genuine aristocracy, are full of the quaintest eccentricities, eccentricities inherited for centuries, eccentricities which they are prouder of than they are of their titles, and that sign-board there is one of them. They all hang them out. And it’s regulated by an unwritten law. A baron is entitled to hang out two, a count five, a duke fifteen——”
“Then they are all dukes over on that side, I sup——”
“Every one of them.
Now the old Duke of Backofenhofenschwartz not
the present Duke, but the last but one, he——”
“Does he live over the sausage-shop in the cellar?”
“No, the one farther
along, where the eighteenth yellow cat is
chewing the door-mat——”
“But all the yellow cats are chewing the door-mats.”
“Yes, but I mean the
eighteenth one. Count. No, never mind;
there’s a lot more come. I’ll get you another mark. Let me see—–”
They could not remain permanently in Komerstrasse, but they stuck it out till the end of December—about two months. Then they made such settlement with the agent as they could—that is to say, they paid the rest of their year’s rent—and established themselves in a handsome apartment at the Hotel Royal, Unter den Linden. There was no need to be ashamed of this address, for it was one of the best in Berlin.
As for Komerstrasse, it is cleaner now. It is still not aristocratic, but it is eminently respectable. There is a new post-office that takes in Number 7, where one may post mail and send telegrams and use the Fernsprecher—which is to say the telephone—and be politely treated by uniformed officials, who have all heard of Mark Twain, but have no knowledge of his former occupation of their premises.
A WINTER IN BERLIN
Clemens, meantime, had been trying to establish himself in his work, but his rheumatism racked him occasionally and was always a menace. Closing a letter to Hall, he said:
“I must stop-my arm is howling.”
He put in a good deal of time devising publishing schemes, principal among them being a plan for various cheap editions of his books, pamphlets, and such like, to sell for a few cents. These projects appear never to have been really undertaken, Hall very likely fearing that a flood of cheap issues would interfere with the more important trade. It seemed dangerous to trifle with an apparently increasing prosperity, and Clemens was willing enough to agree with this view.
Clemens had still another letter to write for Laffan and McClure, and he made a pretty careful study of Berlin with that end in view. But his arm kept him from any regular work. He made notes, however. Once he wrote: