"Ehrenbreitstein" [essay]
It is said that French will carry you over all Europe, over all
civilised Europe at least, and that may be, but it will not carry you
over Germany. You might manage with the Grand Turk, but you will
not manage with the Germans. Wishing to see the interior of Ehren‐
breitstein
, we got a young German guide, and crossing to a place where
two roads met, considered him to be going the wrong way. There was a
poser—how could we stop him? “Nein, nein,” we called after him. “Ya,”
quoth he. “Nein.” So he went the way we chose.
After a very hard pull up an abominably cramp 1 hill, we beheld the
top of the flagstaff. Here we are all right. No. There was the
fortress certainly, but between us and it a ravine nearly a hundred feet
deep, walled up the sides so as to form a very unhandsome ditch, and two
or three dozen impudent, enormous, open‐mouthed guns grinning at us
from the battlement. Well, there was nothing for it, so we went back
and took the other path. 2
This time all went right, and we got into the fortress, first, however,
prudently stepping up to a sentinel, to ask permission: and he brought
an officer upon us. “Do you speak English, sir?” (A stare.) “Fran├žais?”
(A vibratory motion of the head, and a “Nein.”) “Deutsch?” “Ya,” and
there we stuck. Well, we pulled out our passport, but it was in French,
and the officer could not read it. So he looked up and down and at us,
and we looked up and down and at him. What was to be done? We
bowed and he bowed, and we looked over the battlements and trotted
down again, having a very high opinion of the height of German hills,
the strength of German walls, the size of German cannon, and the stupidity
of all German brains. 3