But what charm could such a man as Lindau find in such a place? It could not be that he lived there because he was too poor to live elsewhere: with a shutting of the heart, March refused to believe this as he looked round on the abounding evidences of misery, and guiltily remembered his neglect of his old friend. Lindau could probably find as cheap a lodging in some decenter part of the town; and, in fact, there was some amelioration of the prevailing squalor in the quieter street which he turned into from Mott.
A woman with a tied-up face of toothache opened the door for him when he pulled, with a shiver of foreboding, the bell-knob, from which a yard of rusty crape dangled. But it was not Lindau who was dead, for the woman said he was at home, and sent March stumbling up the four or five dark flights of stairs that led to his tenement. It was quite at the top of the house, and when March obeyed the German-English “Komm!” that followed his knock, he found himself in a kitchen where a meagre breakfast was scattered in stale fragments on the table before the stove. The place was bare and cold; a half-empty beer bottle scarcely gave it a convivial air. On the left from this kitchen was a room with a bed in it, which seemed also to be a cobbler’s shop: on the right, through a door that stood ajar, came the German-English voice again, saying this time, “Hier!”
March pushed the door open into a room like that on the left, but with a writing-desk instead of a cobbler’s bench, and a bed, where Lindau sat propped up; with a coat over his shoulders and a skull-cap on his head, reading a book, from which he lifted his eyes to stare blankly over his spectacles at March. His hairy old breast showed through the night-shirt, which gaped apart; the stump of his left arm lay upon the book to keep it open.
“Ah, my tear yo’ng friendt! Passil! Marge! Iss it you?” he called out, joyously, the next moment.
“Why, are you sick, Lindau?” March anxiously scanned his face in taking his hand.
Lindau laughed. “No; I’m all righdt. Only a lidtle lazy, and a lidtle eggonomigal. Idt’s jeaper to stay in pedt sometimes as to geep a fire a-goin’ all the time. Don’t wandt to gome too hardt on the ‘brafer Mann’, you know:
“Braver Mann, er schafft mir zu essen.”
You remember? Heine? You readt Heine still? Who is your favorite boet now, Passil? You write some boetry yourself yet? No? Well, I am gladt to zee you. Brush those baperss off of that jair. Well, idt is goodt for zore eyess. How didt you findt where I lif?
“They told me at Maroni’s,” said March. He tried to keep his eyes on Lindau’s face, and not see the discomfort of the room, but he was aware of the shabby and frowsy bedding, the odor of stale smoke, and the pipes and tobacco shreds mixed with the books and manuscripts strewn over the leaf of the writing-desk. He laid down on the mass the pile of foreign magazines he had brought under his arm. “They gave me another address first.”