Buddenbrooks Chapter Five

Was it forgetfulness, or was it intention, which would have made Senator Buddenbrook pass over in silence a certain fact, had not his sister Tony, the devotee of the family papers, announced it to all the world: the fact, namely, that in those documents the founding of the firm of Johann Buddenbrook was ascribed to the date of the 7th of July, 1768, the hundredth anniversary of which was now at hand?

Thomas seemed almost disturbed when Tony, in a moving voice, called his attention to the fact. His good mood had not lasted. All too soon he had fallen silent again, more silent than before. He would leave the office in the midst of work, seized with unrest, and roam about the garden, sometimes pausing as if he felt confined in his movements, sighing, and covering his eyes with his hand. He said nothing, gave his feelings no vent—to whom should he speak, then? When he told his partner of the Pöppenrade matter, Herr Marcus had for the first time in his life been angry with him, and had washed his hands of the whole affair. But Thomas betrayed himself to his sister Tony, when they said good-bye on the street one Thursday evening, and she alluded to the Pöppenrade harvest. He gave her hand a single quick squeeze, and added passionately “Oh, Tony, if I had only sold it already!” He broke off abruptly, and they parted, leaving Frau Permaneder dismayed and anxious. The sudden hand-pressure had something despairing, the low words betrayed pent-up feeling. But when Tony, as chance offered, tried to come back to the subject, he wrapped himself in silence, the more forbidding because of his inward mortification over having given way—his inward bitterness at being, as he felt, feeble and inadequate to the situation in hand.

He said now, slowly and fretfully: “Oh, my dear child, I wish we might ignore the whole affair!”

“Ignore it, Tom? Impossible! Unthinkable! Do you think you could suppress the fact? Do you imagine the whole town would forget the meaning of the day?”

“I don’t say it is possible—I only say I wish it were. It is pleasant to celebrate the past, when one is gratified with the present and the future. It is agreeable to think of one’s forefathers when one feels at one with them and conscious of having acted as they would have done. If the jubilee came at a better time—but just now, I feel small inclination to celebrate it.”

“You must not talk like that, Tom. You don’t mean it; you know perfectly that it would be a shame to let the hundredth anniversary of the firm of Johann Buddenbrook go by without a sign or a sound of rejoicing. You are a little nervous now, and I Know why, though there is really no reason for it. But when the day comes, you will be as moved as all the rest of us.”

She was right; the day could not be passed over in silence. It was not long before a notice appeared in the papers, calling attention to the coming anniversary and giving a detailed history of the old and estimable firm—but it was really hardly necessary. In the family, Justus Kröger was the first to mention the approaching event, on the Thursday afternoon; and Frau Permaneder saw to it that the venerable leather portfolio was solemnly brought out after dessert was cleared away, and the whole family, by way of foretaste, perused the dates and events in the life of the first Johann Buddenbrook, Hanno’s great-great-grandfather: when he had varioloid and when genuine smallpox, when he fell out of the third-storey window on to the floor of the drying-house, and when he had fever and delirium—she read all that aloud with pious fervour. Not content with that, she must go back into the 16th century, to the oldest Buddenbrook of whom there was knowledge, to the one who was Councillor in Grabau, and the Rostock tailor who had been “very well off” and had so many children, living and dead. “What a splendid man!” she cried; and began to rummage through yellow papers and read letters and poems aloud.

On the morning of the seventh of July, Herr Wenzel was naturally the first with his congratulations.

“Well, Herr Sen’ter, many happy returns!” he said, gesturing freely with razor and strop in his red hands. “A hundred years! And nearly half of it, I may say, I have been shaving in the respected family—oh, yes, one goes through a deal with the family, when one sees the head of it the first thing in the morning! The deceased Herr Consul was always the most talkative in the morning, too: ‘Wenzel,’ he would ask me, ‘Wenzel, what do you think about the rye? Should I sell or do you think it will go up again?’”

“Yes, Wenzel, and I cannot think of these years without you, either. Your calling, as I’ve often said to you, has a certain charm about it. When you have made your rounds, you are wiser than anybody: you have had the heads of nearly all the great houses under your hand, and know the mood of each one. All the others can envy you that, for it is really valuable information.”

“’s a good bit of truth in that, Herr Sen’ter. But what about the Herr Sen’ter’s own mood, if I may be so bold to ask? Herr Sen’ter’s looking a trifle pale again this morning.”

“Am I? Well, I have a headache—and so far as I can see, it will get worse before it gets better, for I suspect they’ll put a good deal of strain on it to-day.”

“I’m afraid so, Herr Sen’ter. The interest is great—the interest is very great. Just look out o’ window when I’ve done with you. Hosts of flags! And down at the bottom of the Street the ‘Wullenwewer’ and the ‘Friederike Överdieck’ with all their pennons flying.”

“Well, let’s be quick, then, Wenzel; there’s no time to lose, evidently.”

The Senator did not don his office jacket, as he usually did of a morning, but put on at once a black cutaway coat with a white waistcoat and light-coloured trousers. There would certainly be visits. He gave a last glance in the mirror, a last pressure of the tongs to his moustache, and turned with a little sigh to go. The dance was beginning. If only the day were all over! Would he have a single minute to himself, a single minute to relax the muscles of his face? All day long he should certainly have to receive, with tact and dignity, the congratulations of a host of people, find just the right word and just the right tone for everybody, be serious, hearty, ironic, jocose, and respectful by turns; and from afternoon late into the night there would be the dinner at the Ratskeller.

It was not true that his head ached. He was only tired. Already, though he had just risen, with his nerves refreshed by sleep, he felt his old, indefinable burden upon him. Why had he said his head ached—as though he always had a bad conscience where his own health was concerned? Why? Why? However, there was no time now to brood over the question.

He went into the dining-room, where Gerda met him gaily. She too was already arrayed to meet their guests, in a plaid skirt, a white blouse, and a thin silk zouave jacket over it, the colour of her heavy hair. She smiled and showed her white teeth, so large and regular, whiter than her white face; her eyes, those close-set, enigmatic brown eyes, were smiling too, to-day.

“I’ve been up for hours—you can tell from that how excited I am,” she said, “and how hearty my congratulations are.”

“Well, well! So the hundred years make an impression on you too?”

“Tremendous. But perhaps it is only the excitement of the celebration. What a day! Look at that, for instance.” She pointed to the breakfast-table, all garlanded with garden flowers. “That is Fräulein Jungmann’s work. But you are mistaken if you think you can drink tea now. The family is in the drawing-room already, waiting to make a presentation—something in which I too have had a share. Listen, Thomas. This is, of course, only the beginning of a stream of callers. At first I can stand it, but at about midday I shall have to withdraw, I am sure. The barometer has fallen a little, but the sky is still the most staring blue. It makes the flags look lovely, of course, and the whole town is flagged—but it will be frightfully hot. Come into the salon. Breakfast must wait. You should have been up before. Now the first excitement will have to come on an empty stomach.”

The Frau Consul, Christian, Clothilde, Ida Jungmann, Frau Permaneder, and Hanno were assembled in the salon, the last two supporting, not without difficulty, the family present, a great commemorative tablet. The Frau Consul, deeply moved, embraced her eldest-born.

“This is a wonderful day, my dear son—a wonderful day,” she repeated. “We must thank God unceasingly, with all our hearts, for His mercies—for all His mercies.” She wept.

The Senator was attacked by weakness in her embrace. He felt as though something within turn freed itself and flew away. His lips trembled. An overwhelming need possessed him to lay his head upon his mother’s breast, to close his eyes in her arms, to breathe in the delicate perfume that rose from the soft silk of her gown, to lie there at rest, seeing nothing more, saying nothing more. He kissed her and stood erect, putting out his hand to his brother, who greeted him with the absent-minded embarrassment which was his usual bearing on such occasions. Clothilde drawled out something kindly. Ida Jungmann confined herself to making a deep bow, while she played with the silver watch-chain on her flat bosom.

“Come here, Tom,” said Frau Permaneder uncertainly. “We can’t hold it any longer, can we, Hanno?” She was holding it almost alone, for Hanno’s little arms were not much help; and she looked, what with her enthusiasm and her effort, like an enraptured martyr. Her eyes were moist, her cheeks burned, and her tongue played, with a mixture of mischief and nervousness, on her upper lip.

“Here I am,” said the Senator. “What in the world is this? Come, let me have it; we’ll lean it against the wall.” He propped it up next to the piano and stood looking at it, surrounded by the family.

In a large, heavy frame of carved nut-wood were the portraits of the four owners of the firm, under glass. There was the founder, Johann Buddenbrook, taken from an old oil painting—a tall, grave old gentleman, with his lips firmly closed, looking severe and determined above his lace Jabot. There was the broad and jovial countenance of Johann Buddenbrook, the friend of Jean Jacques Hoffstede. There was Consul Johann Buddenbrook, in a stiff choker collar, with his wide, wrinkled mouth and large aquiline nose, his eyes full of religious fervour. And finally there was Thomas Buddenbrook himself, as a somewhat younger man. The four portraits were divided by conventionalized blades of wheat, heavily gilded, and beneath, likewise in figures of brilliant gilt, the dates 1768—1868. Above the whole, in the tall, Gothic hand of him who had left it to his descendants, was the quotation: “My son, attend with zeal, to thy business by day; but do none that hinders thee from thy sleep at night.”

The Senator, his hands behind his back gazed for a long time at the tablet.

“Yes, yes,” he said abruptly, and his tone was rather mocking, “an undisturbed night’s rest is a very good thing.” Then, seriously, if perhaps a little perfunctorily, “Thank you very much, my dear family. It is indeed a most thoughtful and beautiful gift. What do you think—where shall we put it? Shall we hang it in my private office?”

“Yes, Tom, over the desk in your office,” answered Frau Permaneder, and embraced her brother. Then she drew him into the bow-window and pointed.

Under a deep blue sky, the two-coloured flag floated above all the houses, right down Fishers’ Lane, from Broad Street to the wharf, where the “Wullenwewer” and the “Friederike Överdieck” lay under full flag, in their owner’s honour.

“The whole town is the same,” said Frau Permaneder, and her voice trembled. “I’ve been out and about already. Even the Hagenströms have a flag. They couldn’t do otherwise.—I’d smash in their window!” He smiled, and they went back to the table together. “And here are the telegrams, Tom, the first ones to come—the personal ones, of course; the others have been sent to the office.” They opened a few of the dispatches: from the family in Hamburg, from the Frankfort Buddenbrooks, from Herr Arnoldsen in Amsterdam, from Jürgen Kröger in Wismar. Suddenly Frau Permaneder flushed deeply.

“He is a good man, in his way,” she said, and pushed across to her brother the telegram she had just opened: it was signed Permaneder.

“But time is passing,” said the Senator, and looked at his watch. “I’d like my tea. Will you come in with me? The house will be like a bee-hive after a while.”

His wife, who had given a sign to Ida Jungmann, held him back.

“Just a moment, Thomas. You know Hanno has to go to his lessons. He wants to say a poem to you first. Come here, Hanno. And now, just as if no one else were here—you remember? Don’t be excited.”

It was the summer holidays, of course, but little Hanno had private lessons in arithmetic, in order to keep up with his class. Somewhere out in the suburb of St. Gertrude, in a little ill-smelling room, a man in a red beard, with dirty fingernails, was waiting to discipline him in the detested “tables.” But first he was to recite to Papa a poem painfully learned by heart, with Ida Jungmann’s help, in the little balcony on the second floor.

He leaned against the piano, in his blue sailor suit with the white V front and the wide linen collar with a big sailor’s knot coming out beneath. His thin legs were crossed, his body and head a little inclined in an attitude of shy, unconscious grace. Two or three weeks before, his hair had been cut, as not only his fellow pupils, but the master as well, had laughed at it; but his head was still covered with soft abundant ringlets, growing down over the forehead and temples. His eyelids drooped, so that the long brown lashes lay over the deep blue shadows; and his closed lips were a little wry.

He knew well what would happen. He would begin to cry, would not be able to finish for crying; and his heart would contract, as it did on Sundays in St. Mary’s, when Herr Pfühl played on the organ in a certain piercingly solemn way. It always turned out that he wept when they wanted him to do something—when they examined him and tried to find out what he knew, as Papa so loved to do. If only Mamma had not spoken of getting excited! She meant to be encouraging, but he felt it was a mistake. There they stood, and looked at him. They expected, and feared, that he would break down—so how was it possible not to? He lifted his lashes and sought Ida’s eyes. She was playing with her watch-chain, and nodded to him in her usual honest, crabbed way. He would have liked to cling to her and have her take him away; to hear nothing but her low, soothing voice, saying “There, little Hanno, be quiet, you need not say it.”

“Well, my son, let us hear it,” said the Senator, shortly. He had sat down in an easy-chair by the table and was waiting. He did not smile—he seldom did on such occasions. Very serious, with one eyebrow lifted, he measured little Hanno with cold and scrutinizing glance.

Hanno straightened up. He rubbed one hand over the piano’s polished surface, gave a shy look at the company, and, somewhat emboldened by the gentle looks of Grandmamma and Aunt Tony, brought out, in a low, almost a hard voice: “‘The Shepherd’s Sunday Hymn,’ by Uhland.”

“Oh, my dear child, not like that,” called out the Senator. “Don’t stick there by the piano and cross your hands on your tummy like that! Stand up! Speak out! That’s the first thing. Here, stand here between the curtains. Now, hold your head up—let your arms hang down quietly at your sides.”

Hanno took up his position on the threshold of the living-room and let his arms hang down. Obediently he raised his head, but his eyes—the lashes drooped so low that they were invisible. They were probably already swimming in tears.

“‘This is the day of our—’”

he began, very low. His father’s voice sounded loud by contrast when he interrupted: “One begins with a bow, my son. And then, much louder. Begin again, please: ‘Shepherd’s Sunday Hymn’—”

It was cruel. The Senator was probably aware that he was robbing the child of the last remnant of his self-control. But the boy should not let himself be robbed. He should have more manliness by now. “‘Shepherd’s Sunday Hymn,’” he repeated encouragingly, remorselessly.

But it was all up with Hanno. His head sank on his breast, and the small, blue-veined right hand tugged spasmodically at the brocaded portière.

“‘I stand alone on the vacant plain,’”

he said, but could get no further. The mood of the verse possessed him. An overmastering self-pity took away his voice, and the tears could not be kept back: they rolled out from beneath his lashes. Suddenly the thought came into his mind: if he were only ill, a little ill, as on those nights when he lay in bed with a slight fever and sore throat, and Ida came and gave him a drink, and put a compress on his head, and was kind—He put his head down on the arm with which he clung to the portière, and sobbed.

“Well,” said the Senator, harshly, “there is no pleasure in that.” He stood up, irritated. “What are you crying about? Though it is certainly a good enough reason for tears, that you haven’t the courage to do anything, even for the sake of giving me a little pleasure! Are you a little girl? What will become of you if you go on like that? Will you always be drowning yourself in tears, every time you have to speak to people?”

“I never will speak to people, never!” thought Hanno in despair.

“Think it over till this afternoon,” finished the Senator, and went into the dining-room. Ida Jungmann knelt by her fledgling and dried his eyes, and spoke to him, half consoling, half reproachful.

The Senator breakfasted hurriedly, and the Frau Consul, Tony, Clothilde, and Christian meanwhile took their leave. They were to dine with Gerda, as likewise were the Krögers, the Weinschenks, and the three Misses Buddenbrook from Broad Street, while the Senator, willy-nilly, must be present at the dinner in the Ratskeller. He hoped to leave in time to see his family again at his own house.

Sitting at the be-garlanded table, he drank his hot tea out of a saucer, hurriedly ate an egg, and on the steps took two or three puffs of a cigarette. Grobleben, wearing his woollen scarf in defiance of the July heat, with a boot over his left forearm and the polish-brush in his right, a long drop pendent from his nose, came from the garden into the front entry and accosted his master at the foot of the stairs, where the brown bear stood with his tray.

“Many happy returns, Herr Sen’ter, many happy—’n’ one is rich ’n’ great, ’n’ t’other’s pore—”

“Yes, yes, Grobleben, you’re right, that’s just how it is!” And the Senator slipped a piece of money into the hand with the brush, and crossed the entry into the anteroom of the office. In the office the cashier came up to him, a tall man with honest, faithful eyes, to convey, in carefully selected phrases, the good wishes of the staff. The Senator thanked him in a few words, and went on to his place by the window. He had hardly opened his letters and glanced into the morning paper lying there ready for him, when a knock came on the door leading into the front entry, and the first visitors appeared with their congratulations.

It was a delegation of granary labourers, who came straddling in like bears, the corners of their mouths drawn down with befitting solemnity and their caps in their hands. Their spokesman spat tobacco-juice on the floor, pulled up his trousers, and talked in great excitement about “a hun’erd year” and “many more hun’erd year.” The Senator proposed to them a considerable increase in their pay for the week, and dismissed them. The office staff of the revenue department came in a body to congratulate their chief. As they left, they met in the doorway a number of sailors, with two pilots at the head, from the “Wullenwewer” and the “Friederike Överdieck,” the two ships belonging to the firm which happened at the time to be in port. Then there was a deputation of grain-porters, in black blouses, knee-breeches, and top-hats. And single citizens, too, were announced from time to time: Herr Stuht from Bell-Founder Street came, with a black coat over his flannel shirt, and Iwersen the florist, and sundry other neighbours. There was an old postman, with watery eyes, earrings, and a white beard—an ancient oddity whom the Senator used to salute on the street and call him Herr Postmaster: he came, stood in the doorway, and cried out “Ah bain’t come fer that, Herr Sen’tor! Ah knows as iverybody gits summat as comes here to-day, but ah bain’t come fer that, an’ so ah tells ye!” He received his piece of money with gratitude, none the less. There was simply no end to it. At half past ten the servant came from the house to announce that the Frau Senator was receiving guests in the salon.

Thomas Buddenbrook left his office and hurried upstairs. At the door of the salon he paused a moment for a glance into the mirror to order his cravat, and to refresh himself with a whiff of the eau-de-cologne on his handkerchief. His body was wet with perspiration, but his face was pale, his hands and feet cold. The reception in the office had nearly used him up already. He drew a long breath and entered the sunlit room, to be greeted at once by Consul Huneus, the lumber dealer and multi-millionaire, his wife, their daughter, and the latter’s husband, Senator Dr. Gieseke. These had all driven in from Travemünde, like many others of the first families of the town, who were spending July in a cure which they interrupted only for the Buddenbrook jubilee.

They had not been sitting for three minutes in the elegant armchairs of the salon when Consul Överdieck, son of the deceased Burgomaster, and his wife, who was a Kistenmaker, were announced. When Consul Huneus made his adieux, his place was taken by his brother, who had a million less money than he, but made up for it by being a senator.

Now the ball was open. The tall white door, with the relief of the singing cupids above it, was scarcely closed for a moment; there was a constant view from within of the great staircase, upon which the light streamed down from the skylight far above, and of the stairs themselves, full of guests either entering or taking their leave. But the salon was spacious, the guests lingered in groups to talk, and the number of those who came was for some time far greater than the number of those who went away. Soon the maid-servant gave up opening and shutting the door that led into the salon and left it wide open, so that the guests stood in the corridor as well. There was the drone and buzz of conversation in masculine and feminine voices, there were handshakings, bows, jests, and loud, jolly laughter, which reverberated among the columns of the staircase and echoed from the great glass panes of the skylight. Senator Buddenbrook stood by turns at the top of the stairs and in the bow-window, receiving the congratulations, which were sometimes mere formal murmurs and sometimes loud and hearty expressions of good will. Burgomaster Dr. Langhals, a heavily built man of elegant appearance, with a shaven chin nestling in a white neck-cloth, short grey mutton-chops, and a languid diplomatic air, was received with general marks of respect. Consul Eduard Kistenmaker the wine-merchant, his wife, who was a Möllendorpf, and his brother and partner Stephan, Senator Buddenbrook’s loyal friend and supporter, with his wife, the rudely healthy daughter of a landed proprietor, arrive and pay their respects. The widowed Frau Senator Möllendorpf sits throned in the centre of the sofa in the salon, while her children, Consul August Möllendorpf and his wife Julchen, born Hagenström, mingle with the crowd. Consul Hermann Hagenström supports his considerable weight on the balustrade, breathes heavily into his red beard, and talks with Senator Dr. Cremer, the Chief of Police, whose brown beard, mixed with grey, frames a smiling face expressive of a sort of gentle slyness. State Attorney Moritz Hagenström, smiling and showing his defective teeth, is there with his beautiful wife, the former Fräulein Puttfarken of Hamburg. Good old Dr. Grabow may be seen pressing Senator Buddenbrook’s hand for a moment in both of his, to be displaced next moment by Contractor Voigt. Pastor Pringsheim, in secular garb, only betraying his dignity by the length of his frock coat, comes up the steps with outstretched arms and a beaming face. And Herr Friedrich Wilhelm Marcus is present, of course. Those gentlemen who come as delegates from any body such as the Senate, the Board of Trade, or the Assembly of Burgesses, appear in frock coats. It is half-past eleven. The heat is intense. The lady of the house withdrew a quarter of an hour ago.

Suddenly there is a hubbub below the vestibule door, a stamping and shuffling of feet, as of many people entering together; and a ringing, noisy voice echoes through the whole house. Everybody rushes to the landing, blocks up the doors to the salon, the dining-room, and the smoking-room, and peers down. Below is a group of fifteen of twenty men with musical instruments, headed by a gentleman in a brown wig, with a grey nautical beard and yellow artificial teeth, which he snows when he talks. What is happening? It is Consul Peter Döhlmann, of course: he is bringing the band from the theatre, and mounts the stairs in triumph, swinging a packet of programmes in his hand!

The serenade in honour of the hundredth anniversary of the firm of Johann Buddenbrook begins: in these impossible conditions, with the notes all running together, the chords drowning each other, the loud grunting and snarling of the big bass trumpet heard above everything else. It begins with “Now let us all thank God,” goes over into the adaptation of Offenbach’s “La Belle Hélène,” and winds up with a pot-pourri of folk-songs—quite an extensive programme! And a pretty idea of Döhlmann’s! They congratulate him on it; and nobody feels inclined to break up until the concert is finished. They stand or sit in the salon and the corridor; they listen and talk.

Thomas Buddenbrook stood with Stephan Kistenmaker, Senator Dr. Gieseke, and Contractor Voigt, beyond the staircase, near the open door of the smoking-room and the flight of stairs up to the second storey. He leaned against the wall, now and then contributing a word to the conversation, and for the rest looking out into space across the balustrade. It was hotter than ever, and more oppressive; but it would probably rain. To judge from the shadows that drove across the skylight there must be clouds in the sky. They were so many and moved so rapidly that the changeful, flickering light on the staircase came in time to hurt the eyes. Every other minute the brilliance of the gilt chandelier and the brass instruments below was quenched, to blaze out the next minute as before. Once the shadows lasted a little longer, and sue or seven times something fell with a slight crackling sound upon the panes of the skylight—hail-stones, no doubt. Then the sunlight streamed down again.

There is a mood of depression in which everything that would ordinarily irritate us and call up a healthy reaction, merely weighs us down with a nameless, heavy burden of dull chagrin. Thus Thomas brooded over the break-down of little Johann, over the feelings which the whole celebration aroused in him, and still more over those which he would have liked to feel but could not. He sought again and again to pull himself together, to clear his countenance, to tell himself that this was a great day which was bound to heighten and exhilarate his mood. And indeed the noise which the band was making, the buzz of voices, the sight of all these people gathered in his honour, did shake his nerves; did, together with his memories of the past and of his father, give rise in him to a sort of weak emotionalism. But a sense of the ridiculous, of the disagreeable, hung over it all—the trumpery music, spoiled by the bad acoustics, the banal company chattering about dinners and the stock market—and this very mingling or emotion and disgust heightened his inward sense of exhaustion and despair.

At a quarter after twelve, when the musical program was drawing to a close, an incident occurred which in no wise interfered with the prevailing good feeling, but which obliged the master of the house to leave his guests for a short time. It was of a business nature. At a pause in the music the youngest apprentice in the firm appeared, coming up the great staircase, overcome with embarrassment at sight of so many people. He was a little, stunted fellow; and he drew his red face down as far as possible between his shoulders and swung one long, thin arm violently back and forth to show that he was perfectly at his ease. In the other hand he had a telegram. He mounted the steps, looking everywhere for his master, and when he had discovered him he passed with blushes and murmured excuses through the crowds that blocked his way.

His blushes were superfluous—nobody saw him. Without looking at him or breaking off their talk, they slightly made way, and they hardly noticed when he gave his telegram to the Senator, with a scrape, and the latter turned a little away from Kistenmaker, Voigt, and Gieseke to read it. Nearly all the telegrams that came to-day were messages of congratulation; still, during business hours, they had to be delivered at once.

The corridor made a bend at the point where the stairs mounted to the second storey, and then went on to the back stairs, where there was another, a side entrance into the dining-room. Opposite the stairs was the shaft of the dumb-waiter, and at this point there was a sizable table, where the maids usually polished the silver. The Senator paused here, turned his back to the apprentice, and opened the despatch.

Suddenly his eyes opened so wide that any one seeing him would have started in astonishment, and he gave a deep, gasping intake of breath which dried his throat and made him cough.

He tried to say “Very well,” but his voice was inaudible in the clamour behind him. “Very well,” he repeated; but the second word was only a whisper.

As his master did not move or turn round or make any sign, the hump-backed apprentice shifted from one foot to the other, then made his outlandish scrape again and went down the back stairs.

Senator Buddenbrook still stood at the table. His hands, holding the despatch, hung weakly down in front of him; he breathed in difficult, short breaths through his mouth; his body swayed back and forth, and he shook his head meaninglessly, as if stunned. “That little bit of hail,” he said, “that little bit of hail.” He repeated it stupidly. But gradually his breathing grew longer and quieter, the movement of his body less; his half-shut eyes clouded over with a weary, broken expression, and he turned around, slowly nodding his head, opened the door into the dining-room, and went in. With bent head he crossed the wide polished floor and sat down on one of the dark red sofas by the window. Here it was quiet and cool. The sound of the fountain came up from the garden, and a fly buzzed on the pane. There was only a dull murmur from the front of the house.

He laid his weary head on the cushion and closed his eyes. “That’s good, that’s good,” he muttered, half aloud, drawing a deep breath of relief and satisfaction, “Oh, that is good!”

He lay five minutes thus, with limbs relaxed and a look of peace upon his face. Then he sat up, folded the telegram, put it in his breast pocket, and rose to rejoin his guests.

But in the same minute he sank back with a disgusted groan upon the sofa. The music—it was beginning again; an idiotic racket, meant to be a galop, with the drum and cymbals marking a rhythm in which the other instruments all joined either ahead of or behind time; a naïve, insistent, intolerable hullabaloo of snarling, crashing, and feebly piping noises, punctuated by the silly tootling of the piccolo.