Pudfut, in contrition of his offence, wrote his English friend Lord Something-or-other, who owned the yacht, and who was at Carlsbad, begging him to run up and see the “best ever” and “one of us”—and Malone never lost an opportunity to say how quick he was in repartee, or how he missed him. Stebbins kept his mouth shut.
He had started the crusade, he knew, and was personally responsible for the result. He had tried to arouse Joplin’s obstinacy and had only aroused his fears. All he could do in reparation was to keep in touch with the exile and pave the way for his homecoming. If Joppy was ill, which he doubted, some of the German experts in whom the Bostonian believed would find the cause and the remedy. If he was “sound as a nut,” to quote Joplin’s own words, certainty of that fact, after an exhaustive examination by men he trusted, would relieve his nervous mind and make him all the happier.
The first letter came from Schonholz. Liberally translated, with the assistance of Mynheer, who spoke a little German, it conveyed the information that the Bostonian, after being put on a strict diet, had been douched, pounded and rubbed; was then on his second week of treatment; had one more to serve; was at the moment feeling like a fighting-cock, and after a fifth week at Stuckbad, in the mountains, where he was to take the after-cure, would be as strong as a three-year-old, and as frisky.
The second letter was from Joplin himself and was addressed to Stebbins. This last was authentic, and greatly relieved the situation. It read:
Nothing like a thoroughly trained expert, my dear Stebbins. These German savants fill me with wonder. The moment Dr. Stuffen fixed his eyes upon me he read my case like an open book. No nitrogenous food of any kind, was his first verdict; hot douches and complete rest packed in wet compresses, the next. I am losing flesh, of course, but it is only the “deadwood” of the body, so to speak. This Dr. Stuffen expects to replace with new shoots—predicts I will weigh forty pounds more—a charming and, to me, a most sane theory. You will be delighted also to hear that my epigastric nerve hasn’t troubled me since I arrived. Love to the boys, whom I expect to see before the month is out. Joppy.
“Forty pounds heavier!” cried Marny from his end of the table. “He’ll look like a toy balloon in knee pants. Bully for Joppy! I wouldn’t let any Schweizerkase with a hot douche get within a hundred yards of me, but then I’m not a bunch of nerves like Joppy. Anyhow, boys, we’ll give the lad a welcome that will raise the roof. Joppy thin was pretty good fun, but Joppy fat will be a roaring farce.”
And so it was decided, and at once all sorts and kinds of welcomes were discussed, modified, rearranged and discussed again. Pudfut suggested meeting him in Rotterdam and having a night of it. Malone thought of chartering a steam launch, hiring a band and bringing him past the towns with flags flying. Stebbins and Marny favored some demonstration nearer home, where everybody could join in.