Frances Waldeaux

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Author: Rebecca Harding Davis

Chapter X

The travellers entered Munich at noon. The great generous city lay tranquil and smiling in the frosty sunlight.

"I have secured apartments," said Miss Vance, "used hitherto by royalties or American millionaires. My girl must be properly framed when a prince comes a-wooing."

Lucy smiled. But her usual warm color faded as they drove through the streets. Jean, however, was gay and eager.

"Ah, the dear splendid town!" she cried. "It always seems to give us a royal welcome. Nothing is changed! There is the music in the Kellers, and there go the same Bavarian officers with their swagger and saucy blue eyes. They are the handsomest men in Europe! And here is the Munchen-kindl laughing at us, and the same crowds are going to the Pinakothek! What do you want more? Beer and splendor and fun and art! What a home it will be for you, Lucy!"

Lucy’s cold silence did not check Jean’s affectionate zeal. She anxiously searched among the stately old buildings, which they passed, for the Wolfburgh palace. "It will not be in these commonplace Haussmannized streets," she said. "It is in some old corner; it has a vast, mysterious, feudal air, I fancy. You will hold a little court in it, and sometimes let a poor American artist from Pond City in to hang on the edge of the crowd and stare at the haute noblesse."

"Don’t be absurd, Jean," said Miss Vance.

"I am quite serious. I think an American girl like Lucy, with her beauty and her money, will be welcomed by these German nobles as a white swan among ducks. She ought to take her place and hold it." Jean’s black eyes snapped and the blood flamed up her cheeks. "If I were she I’d make my money tell! I’d buy poor King Ludwig’s residence at Binderhof, with the cascades and jewelled peacocks and fairy grottos, for my country seat. The Bavarian nobility are a beggarly lot. If they knew that Lucy and her millions were coming to town in this cab, they’d blow their trumpets for joy. `Wave, Munich, all thy banners wave!’" Lucy’s impatient shrug silenced her, but she was preoccupied and excited throughout the day. Miss Vance watched her curiously. Could it be that she had heard of the prince’s plan of marrying her to his cousin, and that she was building these air castles for herself?

A day or two sufficed to make Miss Vance’s cheery apartments the rendezvous of troops of Americans of all kinds: from the rich lounger, bored by the sight of pictures, which he did not understand, and courts which he could not enter, to the half-starved, eager-eyed art students, who smoked, and drank beer, and chattered in gutturals, hoping to pass for Germans.

There were plenty of idle young New Yorkers and Bostonians too, hovering round Lucy and Jean, overweighted by their faultless London coats and trousers and fluent French. But they deceived nobody; they all had that nimble brain, and that unconscious swagger of importance and success which stamps the American in every country. Prince Hugo, in his old brown suit, came and went quietly among them.

"The genuine article!" Jean declared loudly. "There is something royal in his hospitality! He lays all Munich at Lucy’s feet, as if it were his own estate, and the museums and palaces were the furniture of his house. That homely simplicity of his is tremendously fine, if she could understand it!"

The homely genuineness had its effect even upon Lucy. The carriage which he brought to drive them to Isar-anen was scaly with age, but the crest upon it was the noblest in Bavaria; in the cabinet of portraits of ancient beauties in the royal palace he showed her indifferently two or three of his aunts and grandmothers, and in the historical picture of the anointing of the great Charlemagne, one of his ancestors, stout and good-humored as Hugo himself, supported the emperor. "The pudgy little man," said Jean one day, somehow belongs to the old world of knights and crusaders—Sintram and his companions. He will make it all real to Lucy when she marries him. He is like Ali Baba, standing at the shut door of the cave full of jewels and treasures with the key in his hand."

"Those Arabian Night stories are simply silly," said Lucy severely. "I am astonished that any woman in this age of the world should read that kind of trash."

"But the prince’s cave?" persisted Jean. "When are we to look into it? I want to be sure of the treasures inside. When are we to go to his palace? When will his sisters ask us to dinner?"

Miss Vance looked anxious. "That is a question of great importance," she said. "The princesses have invited me through their brother to call. It is of course etiquette here for the stranger to call first, but I don’t wish to compromise Lucy by making advances."

There was a moment’s silence, then Lucy said, blushing and faltering a little, "It would be better perhaps to call, and not prejudice them, by any discourtesy, against us. The prince is very kind."

"So! The wind is in that quarter?" Jean said, with a harsh laugh.

She jumped up and went to her own room. She was in a rage at herself. Why had she not run away to Paris months ago and begun her great picture of the World’s mother, Eve? There was a career for her! And thinking—perhaps of Eve—she cried hot salt tears.

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Chicago: Rebecca Harding Davis, "Chapter X," Frances Waldeaux in Frances Waldeaux (New York: George E. Wood, 1850), Original Sources, accessed January 20, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=QBWL6ATXXKUAGMV.

MLA: Davis, Rebecca Harding. "Chapter X." Frances Waldeaux, in Frances Waldeaux, Vol. 22, New York, George E. Wood, 1850, Original Sources. 20 Jan. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=QBWL6ATXXKUAGMV.

Harvard: Davis, RH, 'Chapter X' in Frances Waldeaux. cited in 1850, Frances Waldeaux, George E. Wood, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 20 January 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=QBWL6ATXXKUAGMV.