One change in my surroundings made me realize forcibly that I myself was ten years older. In 1880, in that very street, I had seen Maier's children run to meet their father, and had watched him catch them up and hold them to his breast, while his wife looked on from the door-step with a happy smile. Now I perceived that the small children of ten years before had grown to be tall, buxom maidens, who evidently took upon themselves the care of housekeeping, to spare as far as possible their mother.
Christ And His Disciples At Bethany.
Christ Disputing With The Doctors.(Hoffmann)
I asked Frau Maier if it was true that, just as she had done in 1880, she would refrain from attending the Passion Play.
"As before, I shall only see the first part," she replied. "After the scene of the Last Supper I can bear to hear no more, and come back to my house alone." This is not strange; for she is evidently a woman of the gentlest heart and finest sensi-bilities, and would be tortured by the sight of the realistic sufferings, and finally the death which, apparently, awaits her husband on the stage.
What a transformation takes place in Ober-Ammergau on the Saturday preceding a performance! A multitude of peasants from north, south, east, and west, keep pouring into the town all day long in groups of three or four, having shoes in their hands and umbrellas strapped on their backs - and sometimes even carrying a feather-bed wrapped around a pole.
These people have been tramping over the mountains from their homes fifty or sixty miles away. For them the journey has the sacredness of a religious pilgrimage. To see the Passion Play is the greatest event in their lives, and they would make almost any sacrifice to witness it.
By The River.
On the Saturday which we spent here, there suddenly appeared toward nightfall a train of landaus, wagons, and omnibuses, all heralded by cracking whips or echoing horns. The streets, so quiet but an hour before, were quickly swarming with humanity. From the variety of languages that filled the air, one might have fancied that the Kofel was the Tower of Babel. Most of the visitors wore an anxious look, like persons searching for lost baggage; and many who had tempted Fate by engaging nothing in advance, rushed frantically from house to house inquiring for beds. We looked upon all this with sympathy, of course, but also with a wicked sense of superiority, arising from the fact that our own rooms and tickets were secure. It is true the accommodations for visitors at Ober-Ammergau in 1890 were better and more numerous than ever before; and yet, so crowded was the town, that, on looking out of my window at daybreak, Sunday morning, I discovered a gentleman completing his toilet in a carriage where he had spent the night.
One Of The Hotels.
Two incidents of that day can never be forgotten. As I was trying to write in all this hubbub, I suddenly heard beneath my window the word Chicago. In that remote Bavarian valley, this name produced on me the effect that the word "Spaghetti" does on an Italian.
I sprang to the casement and looked out. In the yard below stood a young man talking to my friend.
"I first heard of the Passion Play," he was saying, "through one of Mr. Stoddard's lectures in Chicago. Ever since then I have been anxious to visit Ober-Ammergau in 1890, and here I am. Did you ever hear him?"
"Alas, yes," replied my friend; "and, what is more, here at my side is his photographer, and Mr. Stoddard himself is upstairs preparing to inflict another lecture on the public."
"He never does anything but lecture me," grumbled the photographer."Gentlemen," I called softly from the window, "you had better put an end to this exchange of confidences. The lecturer will be down directly. Waiter, bring at once refreshments for four."