At the hotel the portier gave them four letters. There was one from each of their children: one very buoyant, not to say boisterous, from the daughter, celebrating her happiness in her husband, and the loveliness of Chicago as a summer city ("You would think she was born out there!” sighed her mother); and one from the son, boasting his well-being in spite of the heat they were having ("And just think how cool it is here!” his mother upbraided herself), and the prosperity of ‘Every Other Week’. There was a line from Fulkerson, praising the boy’s editorial instinct, and ironically proposing March’s resignation in his favor.
“I do believe we could stay all winter, just as well as not,” said Mrs. March, proudly. “What does ’Burnamy say?”
“How do you know it’s from him?”
“Because you’ve been keeping your hand on it! Give it here.”
“When I’ve read it.”
The letter was dated at Ansbach, in Germany, and dealt, except for some messages of affection to Mrs. March, with a scheme for a paper which Burnamy wished to write on Kaspar Hauser, if March thought he could use it in ‘Every Other Week’. He had come upon a book about that hapless foundling in Nuremberg, and after looking up all his traces there he had gone on to Ansbach, where Kaspar Hauser met his death so pathetically. Burnamy said he could not give any notion of the enchantment of Nuremberg; but he besought March, if he was going to the Tyrol for his after-cure, not to fail staying a day or so in the wonderful place. He thought March would enjoy Ansbach too, in its way.
“And, not a word—not a syllable—about Miss Triscoe!” cried Mrs. March. “Shall you take his paper?”
“It would be serving him right, if I refused it, wouldn’t it?”
They never knew what it cost Burnamy to keep her name out of his letter, or by what an effort of the will he forbade himself even to tell of his parting interview with Stoller. He had recovered from his remorse for letting Stoller give himself away; he was still sorry for that, but he no longer suffered; yet he had not reached the psychological moment when he could celebrate his final virtue in the matter. He was glad he had been able to hold out against the temptation to retrieve himself by another wrong; but he was humbly glad, and he felt that until happier chance brought him and his friends together he must leave them to their merciful conjectures. He was young, and he took the chance, with an aching heart. If he had been older, he might not have taken it.
The birthday of the Emperor comes conveniently, in late August, in the good weather which is pretty sure to fall then, if ever in the Austrian summer. For a week past, at Carlsbad, the workmen had been building a scaffolding for the illumination in the woods on a height overlooking the town, and making unobtrusive preparations at points within it.