The Magic Mountain A Word Too Much

“NO,” answered Joachim. “I am not allowed to go far. At this period I always go down below, through the village as far as the Platz if I have time. There are shops and people, and one can buy what one needs. Don’t worry, we rest for an hour again before dinner, and then after it until four o’clock.”

They went down the drive in the sunshine, crossed the watercourse and the narrow track, having before their eyes the mountain heights of the western side of the valley: the Little Schiahorn, the Green Tower, and the Dorfberg—Joachim mentioned their names. The little walled cemetery of Davos-Dorf lay up there, at some height; Joachim pointed it out with his stick. They reached the high road that led along the terraced slope a storey higher than the valley floor.

It was rather a misnomer to speak of the village, since scarcely anything but the word remained. The resort had swallowed it up, extending further and further toward the entrance of the valley, until that part of the settlement which was called the “Dorf”

passed imperceptibly into the “Platz.” Hotels and pensions, amply equipped with covered verandahs, balconies, and reclining-halls, lay on both sides of their way, also private houses with rooms to let. Here and there were new buildings, but also open spaces, which preserved a view toward the valley meadows.

Hans Castorp, craving his familiar and wonted indulgence, had once more lighted a cigar; and, thanks probably to the beer that had gone before, he succeeded now and then in getting a whiff of the longed-for aroma—to his inexpressible satisfaction. But only now and then, but only faintly; the anxious receptivity of his attitude was a strain on the nerves, and the hateful leathery taste distinctly prevailed. Unable to reconcile himself to his impotence, he struggled awhile to regain the enjoyment which either escaped him wholly, or else mocked him by its brief presence; finally, worn out and disgusted, he flung the cigar away. Despite his benumbed condition he felt it incumbent upon him to be polite, to make conversation, and to this end he sought to recall those brilliant ideas he had previously had, on the subject of time. Alas, they had fled, the whole “complex” of them, and left not a trace behind: on the subject of time not one single idea, however insignificant, found lodgment in his head. He began, therefore, to talk of ordinary matters, of the concerns of the body—what he said sounded odd enough in his mouth.

“When do you measure again?” he asked. “After eating? Yes, that’s a good time. When the organism is in full activity, it must show itself. Behrens must have been joking when he told me to take my temperature—Settembrini laughed like anything at the idea; there’s really no sense in it, I haven’t even a thermometer.”

“Well,” Joachim said, “that is the least of your difficulties. You can get one anywhere—they sell them in almost every shop.”

“Why should I? No, the lying-down is very much the thing. I’ll gladly do it; but measuring would be rather too much for a guest; I’ll leave that to the rest of you. If I only knew,” Hans Castorp went on, and laid his hands like a lover on his heart, “if I only knew why I have palpitations the whole time—it is very disquieting; I keep thinking about it. For, you see, a person ordinarily has palpitation of the heart when he is frightened, or when he is looking forward to some great joy. But when the heart palpitates all by itself, without any reason, senselessly, of its own accord, so to speak, I feel that’s uncanny, you understand, as if the body was going its own gait without any reference to the soul, like a dead body, only it is not really dead—there isn’t any such thing, of course—but leading a very active existence all on its own account, growing hair and nails and doing a lively business in the physical and chemical line, so I’ve been told—”

“What kind of talk is that?” Joachim said, with serious reproach. “ ‘Doing a lively business’!” And perhaps he recalled the reproaches he had called down on his own head earlier in the day.

“It’s a fact—it is very lively! Why do you object to that?” Hans Castorp asked. “But I only happened to mention it. I only meant to say that it is disturbing and unpleasant to have the body act as though it had no connexion with the soul, and put on such airs—by which I mean these senseless palpitations. You keep trying to find an explanation for them, an emotion to account for them, a feeling of joy or pain, which would, so to speak, justify them. At least, it is that way with me—but I can only speak for myself.”

“Yes, yes,” Joachim said, sighing. “It is the same thing, I suppose, as when you have fever—there are pretty lively goings-on in the system then too, to talk the way you do; it may easily be that one involuntarily tries to find an emotion which would explain, or even half-way explain the goings-on. But we are talking such unpleasant stuff,” he said, his voice trembling a little, and he broke off; whereupon Hans Castorp shrugged his shoulders—with the very gesture, indeed, which had, the evening before, displeased him in his cousin.

They walked awhile in silence, until Joachim asked: “Well, how do you like the people up here? I mean the ones at our table.”

Hans Castorp put on a judicial air. “Dear me,” he said, “I don’t find them so very interesting. Some of the people at the other tables look more so, but that may be only seeming. Frau Stöhr ought to have her hair shampooed, it is so greasy. And that Mazurka—or whatever her name is—seemed rather silly to me. She keeps giggling and stuffing her handkerchief in her mouth.”

Joachim laughed loudly at the twist his cousin had given the name.

“ ‘Mazurka’ is capital,” he said. “Her name is Marusja, with your kind permission—it is the same as Marie. Yes, she really is too undisciplined, and after all, she has every reason to be serious,” he said, “for her case is by no means light.”

“Who would have thought it?” said Hans Castorp. “She looks so very fit. Chest trouble is the last thing one would accuse her of.” He tried to catch his cousin’s eye, and saw that Joachim’s sunburnt face had gone all spotted, as a tanned complexion will when the blood leaves it with suddenness; his mouth too was pitifully drawn, and wore an expression that sent an indefinable chill of fear over Hans Castorp and made him hasten to change the subject. He hurriedly inquired about others of their tablemates and tried to forget Marusja and the look on Joachim’s face—an effort in which he presently succeeded.

The Englishwoman with the rose tea was Miss Robinson. The seamstress was not a seamstress but a schoolmistress at a lycée in Königsberg—which accounted for the precision of her speech. Her name was Fräulein Engelhart. As for the name of the lively little old lady, Joachim, as long as he had been up here, did not know it. All he knew was that she was great-aunt to the young lady who ate yogurt, and lived with her permanently in the sanatorium. The worst case at their table was Dr. Blumenkohl, Leo Blumenkohl, from Odessa, the young man with the moustaches and the absorbed and care-worn air. He had been here years.

They were now walking on the city pavement, the main street, obviously, of an international centre. They met the guests of the cure, strolling about, young people for the most part: gallants in “sporting,” without their hats; white-skirted ladies, also hatless. One heard Russian and English. Shops with gay show-windows were on either side of the road, and Hans Castorp, his curiosity struggling with intense weariness, forced himself to look into them, and stood a long time before a shop that purveyed fashionable male wear, to decide whether its display was really up to the mark.

They reached a rotunda with covered galleries, where a band was giving a concert. This was the Kurhaus. Tennis was being played on several courts by long-legged, clean-shaven youths in accurately pressed flannels and rubber-soled shoes, their arms bared to the elbow, and sunburnt girls in white frocks, who ran and flung themselves high in the sunny air in their efforts to strike the white ball. The well-kept courts looked as though coated with flour. The cousins sat down on an empty bench to watch and criticize the game.

“You don’t play here?” Hans Castorp asked.

“I am not allowed,” Joachim answered. “We have to lie—nothing but lie.

Settembrini says we live horizontally—he calls us horizontallers; that’s one of his rotten jokes. Those are healthy people, there—or else they are breaking the rules. But they don’t play very seriously anyhow—it’s more for the sake of the costume. As far as breaking the rules goes, there are more forbidden things besides tennis that get played here—poker, and petits-chevaux, in this and that hotel. At our place there is a notice about it; it is supposed to be the most harmful thing one can do. Even so, there are people who slip out after the evening visit and come down here to gamble. That prince who gave Behrens his title always did it, they say.”

Hans Castorp barely attended. His mouth was open, for he could not have breathed through his nose without sniffing; he felt with dull discomfort that his heart was hammering out of time with the music; and with this combined sense of discord and disorder he was about to doze off when Joachim suggested that they go home. They returned almost in silence. Hans Castorp stumbled once or twice on the level street and grinned ruefully as he shook his head. The lame man took them up in the lift to their own storey. They parted, with a brief “See you later” at the door of number thirty-four; Hans Castorp piloted himself through his room to the balcony, where he dropped just as he was upon his deck-chair and, without once shifting to a more comfortable posture, sank into a dull half-slumber, broken by the rapid beating of his unquiet heart.