Everybody stopped to admire our costumes and give us a hearty "Pleasant march to you!"

When we got downtown I found that we could go by rail to within five miles of Heilbronn. The train was just starting, so we jumped aboard and went tearing away in splendid spirits. It was agreed all around that we had done wisely, because it would be just as enjoyable to walk DOWN the Neckar as up it, and it could not be needful to walk both ways. There were some nice German people in our compartment. I got to talking some pretty private matters presently, and Harris became nervous; so he nudged me and said:

"Speak in German--these Germans may understand English."

I did so, it was well I did; for it turned out that there was not a German in that party who did not understand English perfectly. It is curious how widespread our language is in Germany. After a while some of those folks got out and a German gentleman and his two young daughters got in. I spoke in German of one of the latter several times, but without result. Finally she said:

"ICH VERSTEHE NUR DEUTCH UND ENGLISHE,"--or words to that effect. That is, "I don't understand any language but German and English."

And sure enough, not only she but her father and sister spoke English. So after that we had all the talk we wanted; and we wanted a good deal, for they were agreeable people. They were greatly interested in our customs; especially the alpenstocks, for they had not seen any before. They said that the Neckar road was perfectly level, so we must be going to Switzerland or some other rugged country; and asked us if we did not find the walking pretty fatiguing in such warm weather. But we said no.

We reached Wimpfen--I think it was Wimpfen--in about three hours, and got out, not the least tired; found a good hotel and ordered beer and dinner--then took a stroll through the venerable old village. It was very picturesque and tumble-down, and dirty and interesting. It had queer houses five hundred years old in it, and a military tower 115 feet high, which had stood there more than ten centuries. I made a little sketch of it. I kept a copy, but gave the original to the Burgomaster. I think the original was better than the copy, because it had more windows in it and the grass stood up better and had a brisker look. There was none around the tower, though; I composed the grass myself, from studies I made in a field by Heidelberg in Haemmerling's time. The man on top, looking at the view, is apparently too large, but I found he could not be made smaller, conveniently. I wanted him there, and I wanted him visible, so I thought out a way to manage it; I composed the picture from two points of view; the spectator is to observe the man from bout where that flag is, and he must observe the tower itself from the ground. This harmonizes the seeming discrepancy. [Figure 2]

Near an old cathedral, under a shed, were three crosses of stone--moldy and damaged things, bearing life-size stone figures. The two thieves were dressed in the fanciful court costumes of the middle of the sixteenth century, while the Saviour was nude, with the exception of a cloth around the loins.

We had dinner under the green trees in a garden belonging to the hotel and overlooking the Neckar; then, after a smoke, we went to bed. We had a refreshing nap, then got up about three in the afternoon and put on our panoply. As we tramped gaily out at the gate of the town, we overtook a peasant's cart, partly laden with odds and ends of cabbages and similar vegetable rubbish, and drawn by a small cow and a smaller donkey yoked together. It was a pretty slow concern, but it got us into Heilbronn before dark--five miles, or possibly it was seven.

We stopped at the very same inn which the famous old robber-knight and rough fighter Goetz von Berlichingen, abode in after he got out of captivity in the Square Tower of Heilbronn between three hundred and fifty and four hundred years ago. Harris and I occupied the same room which he had occupied and the same paper had not quite peeled off the walls yet.

A Tramp Abroad Page 30

Mark Twain

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Mark Twain
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