« PreviousContinue »
CAUGHT IN THE RAIN.
Nashville Experience.-A Candid Critic.-A Model Hotel (“Over the
Left.”')— More Military Necessity. – Two St. Clouds. — Hogshead Cheese.-A Slippery Actor.-Miss Griggs.–Visit to a Battlefield.A Bellicose Official.-Mrs. Ackley's Sorrows.—The Blacksmith Shop.— Somebody's Darling. From the Pathetic to the Ridiculous.--" Let me Kiss him for his Mother?'-Farewell to Nashville.
It was late in the evening when we arrived at Nashville. The second night I had been announced as positively to appear, when I positively did not. But the third night I was on hand, and ready at the proper time to go through the loves and woes of Juliet.
It was raining in torrents as I left the theatre that night,-a drenching deluge of rain, which saturated me in stepping only from the door of the building to the door of the carriage. As we were being driven off, we were arrested by a shout of “Stop!” I opened the door to see what was the matter. A man with a slouched hat and military cloak was giving an unfortunate female a shower bath by holding a dripping umbrella over her head, while she, vainly endeavoring to gather up some voluminous skirts from off the wet pavement beneath, was affording the rain full play upon the back of a velvet cloak.
Ladies,” said the man, addressing us in a polite tone, “I can't get a carriage high or low. Will you permit us to drive to our hotel in yours? It's only about a square up this street.”
It was rather a cool request, but I reflected that necessity knows no law, and that there were really no carriages about. Besides, I hope I am never churlish, and I begged them to step in at once. They did so. I soon discovered three things from their conversation: That the gentleman
was a major; that they had been to the theatre, and that they did not recognize me.
“Well, what did you think of the Juliet ?” presently asked the major.
“The worst I ever saw,” she answered tightly, I mean tritely.
Now, that was pleasant, wasn't it?
You take two strangers, who may be pickpockets or Mullers, into your carriage; you order the driver to go to their hotel ; you submit uncomplainingly to the accession of dampness brought by them; you permit yourself to be crowded for them; you take your traveling bag off the front seat and place it on your knees for them; you put yourself to all sorts of inconvenience for them and all for what?
To be told you are the worst Juliet they ever saw
I never had such difficulty to restrain my laughter in all my life. I had the greatest mind in the world to disclose myself. But I didn't. It would have been cruel, would it not, under the circumstances ? I thought so, and I refrained.
“Oh, Shakespeare's all played out anyhow,” responded the major. “What I like to see is Madame Mazeppa in her bareback act."
I was shocked; upon my word I was.
A sudden “pull up" announced our arrival at the major’s hotel. The driver assisted the lady to alight, and while they were still standing near the door of the carriage, opening the umbrella, the hackman addressed me with:
“Shall I drive you home now, Miss Logan ?"
You should have seen the expression of their faces! I know they would have welcomed an untimely but temporary grave with joy; a trap-door would have been dearer to their hearts than an oil well in Pennsylvania. The
very umbrella in the major's hand partook of his humiliation, collapsing from its distended proportions, and hanging listlessly by his side. I never saw two people look so thoroughly ashamed of themselves.
In the course of several years of peregrination I have lodged in a somewhat large number of hotels, good, bad, and indifferent. I have sipped café noir at the Grand Hotel du Louvre in Paris, and have partaken of café muddy at what I suppose must be called the Grand Hotel at Cairo, Illinois. I have eaten oranges in Spain, and whitebait at Greenwich; have slept in spotless linen sheets at the Clarendon, in London, and slept without sheets, either spotless or otherwise, at some of the Albergos in Italy; thus I have been in hotels which were something open to censure, but, take it all in all, it is my humble opinion that the palm for utter badness in hotelkeeping must be awarded to those hardy individuals who did set up their local habitations and their names as innkeepers in Nashville during the war.
It was alleged that the “City Hotel” would suit us exactly,—a totally false allegation, and I am now thoroughly convinced that that alligator knew it.
It didn't suit me, and I don't believe it suited anybody. How could it? A large, ricketty, barn-like frame house, built with that entire disregard of comfort which seems to be the special end and aim of Southern architects.
Tottering verandahs running the length of the house on every floor, of no earthly use except to admit the cold, which was intense during the whole time I stayed in Tennessee. Windows with sashes determined to be hateful—which would not come down when they were up, nor go up when they were down; doors of an equally obstinate frame of mind—which “stuck” with great pertinacity when closed, but generally insisted, being quite innocent of lock or key, on swinging open at all hours of the day and night.
We had telegraphed for rooms in the plural, and the obliging proprietor reserved us a room in the singular. A singular room, too, by the way. You had to get on the bed to shut the door, to stand on the table to look in the glass; the united efforts of three men and a step-ladder were required to get the gas lit; to turn it off before morning's ruddy beam greeted the opening day was a thing not to be thought of for a moment; it had to burn all night, thus depriving you of sleep, for which the proprietor made an extra charge.
Again, the door of the apartment had to be left open in the coldest weather, to give the fire a “draft,”—“blowers,” except of the human species, were unknown. I extemporized one with a newspaper. It answered the purpose capitally until it burnt up, by which time the fire was generally alight, as by that tender foresight which tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, the coal in Nashville is of a bituminous character, and easily ignited.
The furniture of the room, too, was rather peculiar. A carpet full of neglected rents, which threw the unwary traveler down many a time and oft; a rocking-chair which seemed to have a speciality for tipping over backwards; a table irremediably “shant;" a clock with an unwavering partiality for a quarter past two; a flower vase with a brilliant painting representing a sickly peasant girl eating something which may have been an apple, but which looked uncommonly like a diseased tomato, and a pair of greenish brassy candelabra representing nothing with equal fidelity, and the same striking adhesion to truth.
This was the room; with the additional disadvantage of having recently been occupied by an officer of rank whose brother officers insisted on pouncing down on me at particularly inopportune moments, under the impression that the apartment was still the stronghold of their
chief, and who required the most minute explanation in regard to his sudden change of base (about which I, of course, knew so very much, never having lain eyes on him), and the cause of my own unlooked-for and no doubt unwelcome appearance.
I think that general must have evacuated the room but a few hours before I took possession of it, and I fancy he left his packing to the care of a servant, for many little remembrances of his were lying about which, like Ophelia, I wished to re-deliver. Cigarettes were scattered around in Sardanapalan quantities; evidences of "prime old port” were abundant; Mrs. Woolt-(the rest burnt off for a cigar lighter) would be happy to see him at dinner next Sunday at half-past three precisely; his old friend G. wanted to know how about it for the 17th ?-and yours ever D. B. would feel obliged if the general would let him have the precise state of military law on the point of which we were speaking.
A well-regulated hotel would have caused the room to be put in order before I entered; but this foolish custom was more honored in the breach than the observance, in Nashville.
The door proving utterly false to me, I was forced to push the table and two chairs against it before I took my afternoon siesta. I am sure I was not allowed five minutes' oblivion of my grievances before I was ruthlessly awakened by hearing the whole construction tumble to the ground; on arousing myself, what was my surprise at beholding a smart young lieutenant gazing upon me with an expression of astonishment not unmingled with awe.
“ Well,” I exclaimed, “this is pretty!"
“What are you doing in my apartment ?” I inquired, savagely.