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Atlantis   By: (1862-1946)

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ATLANTIS

A novel by Gerhart Hauptmann

Translated by Adele and Thomas Seltzer

NEW YORK B.W. HUEBSCH 1912

Copyright 1912 by S. FISCHER, VERLAG, BERLIN

Copyright 1912 by B.W. HUEBSCH

All rights reserved

PRINTED IN U.S.A.

ATLANTIS

PART I

I

The German fast mail steamer, Roland , one of the older vessels of the North German Steamship Company, plying between Bremen and New York, left Bremen on the twenty third of January, 1892.

It had been built in English yards with none of those profuse, gorgeous gold decorations in a riotous rococo style which are so unpleasant in the saloons and cabins of ships more recently built in German yards.

The crew of the vessel included the captain, four officers, two engineers of the first rank, assistant engineers, firemen, coal passers, oilers, a purser, the head steward and the second steward, the chef, the second cook, and a doctor. In addition to these men with their assistants, to whom the well being of that tremendous floating household was entrusted, there were, of course, a number of sailors, stewards, stewardesses, workers in the kitchen, and so on, besides two cabin boys and a nurse. There was also an officer in charge of the mail on board. The vessel was carrying only a hundred cabin passengers from Bremen; but in the steerage there were four hundred human beings.

Frederick von Kammacher, to whom, the day before, the Roland had been non existent, telegraphed from Paris to have a cabin on it reserved for him. Haste was imperative. After receiving notification from the company that the cabin was being held, he had only an hour and a half in which to catch the express that would bring him to Havre at about twelve o'clock. From Havre he crossed to Southampton, spending the night in a bunk in one of those wretched saloons in which a number of persons are herded together. But he managed to sleep the whole time, and the crossing went without incident.

At dawn he was on deck watching England's ghostly coast line draw nearer and nearer, until finally the steamer entered the port of Southampton, where he was to await the Roland .

At the steamship office, he was told that the Roland would scarcely make Southampton before evening, and at seven o'clock a tender would be at the pier to convey the passengers to the ship as soon as it was sighted. That meant twelve idle hours in a dreary foreign town, with the thermometer at ten degrees below freezing point. Frederick decided to take a room in a hotel, and, if possible, pass some of the time in sleep.

In a shop window he saw a display of cigarettes of the brand of Simon Arzt of Port Said. He entered the shop, which a maid was sweeping, and bought several hundred. It was an act dictated by sentiment rather than by a desire for enjoyment. The cigarettes of Simon Arzt of Port Said were excellent, the best he had ever smoked; but the significance they had acquired for him was not due to any intrinsic virtue of theirs.

He carried an alligator portfolio in his waistcoat pocket. In that portfolio, among other things, was a letter he had received the very day he left Paris:

Dear Frederick,

It's no use. I left the sanatorium in the Harz and returned to my parents' home a lost man. That cursed winter in the Heuscheuer Mountains! After a stay in tropical countries, I should not have thrown myself into the fangs of such a winter. Of course, the worst thing was my predecessor's fur coat. To my predecessor's fur coat I owe my sweet fate. May the devil in hell take special delight in burning it. I need scarcely tell you that I gave myself copious injections of tuberculin and spat a considerable number of bacilli. But enough remained behind to provide me with a speedy exitus letalis .

Now for the essential. I must settle my bequests... Continue reading book >>




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