4. Strasbourg – Basel – Separated and reunited

So, we stayed the night in Strasbourg. Since the train to Basel (or St. Louis) did not leave until eleven o’clock, there was enough time the next morning to inspect the old town, especially the Thomas church and the Minster. When I hurried back from visiting the “deep cellar” of our inn, it was long past ten o’clock. I quickly prepared myself for the journey, told my companion to bring the horses as soon as possible, and hurried ahead to the station to take the tickets in the meantime. The cost of transporting a horse from Strasbourg to Basel was 42 francs 50 centimes, while the cost for both of us was 15 francs; so, everything together makes 100 francs: a hit in our coffers, which we later felt only too painfully. It was high time when Henninger, accompanied by the porter, brought the two horses. They were put into the carriage, and as the train was about to leave, I got in, while my companion wanted to stay with the horses.

Suddenly I hear a terrible voice calling my name. It was Henninger who, quite beside himself, asked about his luggage. Of course, I couldn’t give him any information because I was of the firm opinion that he had taken care of it himself, just as I had done mine. This explanation was the work of a moment: because – a whistle from the locomotive and another thunderstorm from Henninger, and the train started moving.

I thought Henninger hadn’t come with me. Alone at the next station he called me again; and since everything goes like the wind on the French railways, he only had enough time to let me know that he wanted to go back to Strasbourg. Imagining him was impossible; by the time I remembered, we had already flown two or three stations further.

Little by little I realized my sad situation. I, who know as little of horses as a savage in North America knows a telegraph, I was now alone with two brave young horses thirty hours from my companion. It is easy to imagine, therefore, in what mood I arrived in St. Louis. But I didn’t lose my head. I went to the customs office and showed the note I had received in Strasbourg; for I thought it best if I had my fifty francs in my pocket again. <<Montrez-moi les cheveaux!>> (Show me the horses!) said the officer. I explained to him that they were in the car and he could just call one of his Ministering Spirits to open it. This happened. The signals of the horses were found to be correct, I got my money back, but also a gendarme who was to take me across the border immediately, since I wasn’t allowed to stay in the country a minute after receiving the money. So, I wanted to return it, but it didn’t help; I had to go. <<Voici la frontière, Monsieur, adieu!>> (Here is the border, sir, adieu!) were the dry words of the bearded bluecoat escorting me across the border as he turned his back on me and walked away.

After some time, my saving angel appeared in the form of a dirty Italian whose legs had a striking resemblance to the shape of an O. I think a nimble poodle could have jumped between them without grazing left or right in the slightest. You can see, “Ingratitude is the world’s reward”: I make fun of every noble, philanthropic youth who was so willing to bring my two horses to Basel, not far away, for a measly franc. Who can describe my joy when we finally arrived at the “Krone” in Basel, after enduring many hardships along the way! I’ve never preferred giving a tip, but I’ve never sweated more than on that day, which I will never forget!

Basel – Aeschen gate

So, I was in the old, venerable Basel, while the good Henninger was still miles away from me. I left him to his fate in my mind and was only concerned with restoring myself after the hardships I had gone through with a good glass of “Schwizer Wi”. Occasionally I asked the “well versed” head waiter when the last train would arrive. He said: “at nine o’clock”. So that was three full hours after all; because I had arrived around six o’clock. Partly to vent annoyance at Henninger, partly to avoid consolation myself, I wrote a letter to Mainz, in which I related the whole railway story at great length. But Henninger—who, by the way, admitted to having pulled a silly prank—got hold of this letter the next morning, read it and declared with great energy that he would not let me send it; it is not at all necessary for the people of Mainz to know. I resisted it, but in vain. I finally had to give in.

But back to that evening when I was alone. It was long past nine o’clock, Henninger wasn’t there yet. It was also ten o’clock and he hadn’t appeared yet. Then I finally ran out of patience. I also rushed to my room and lay down. At about half past eleven I was awakened by a dreadful concert of Faust at my door. I opened it: it was Henninger. Now there was a strange scene. For ten minutes we grumbled about each other, and then we almost hugged each other with delight at having met again so happily. In order not to go overboard, I must now also relate the experiences of my companion, which he related to me on that fateful evening. As already noted, he lagged behind at the first station. There he asked the way to Strasbourg in order to walk back there. A compassionate miller, however, in spite of his own bulky physique, granted the weary traveller a place in his carriage. But unfortunately, the nearest village was home to the portly Samaritan. So Henninger had to use the shoemaker’s pony again to get to Strasbourg. Finally, he arrived at the inn where we had stayed. There he received the overcoat jacket he had left behind, still intact, which the innkeeper, by the way, would have sent on the next train if he hadn’t fetched it. But that was not all. When Henninger arrived in St. Louis, he didn’t know whether I could be found there or in Basel, whether in the “Krone”, in the “Golden Head” in the “Sonne” or in any of the hundred other inns. It is true that I had instructed the young Italian who had led the horses for me to look around when the last train arrived to Henninger, whose exact description I had given him for this purpose; either he must have missed it, or he hadn’t gone at all. In short, Henninger allowed himself to be taken to Basel and half a dozen inns by a servile spirit, until he finally found the right person.