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Christopher and Columbus
Countess Elizabeth Von Arnim
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In their berths that night before they went to sleep, it occurred to them that perhaps
what was the matter with the stewardess was that she needed a tip. At first, with their
recent experiences fresh in their minds, they thought that she was probably
passionately pro-Ally, and had already detected all those Junkers in their past and
accordingly couldn't endure them. Then they remembered how Aunt Alice had said,
"You will have to give your stewardess a little something."
This had greatly perturbed them at the time, for up to then they had been in the easy
position of the tipped rather than the tippers, and anyhow they had no idea what one
gave stewardesses. Neither, it appeared, had Aunt Alice; for, on being questioned, she
said vaguely that as it was an American boat they were going on she supposed it would
have to be American money, which was dollars, and she didn't know much about dollars
except that you divided them by four and multiplied them by five, or else it was the other
way about; and when, feeling still uninformed, they had begged her to tell them why one
did that, she said it was the quickest way of finding out what a dollar really was, and
would they mind not talking any more for a little while because her head ached.
The tips they had seen administered during their short lives had all been given at the
end of things, not at the beginning; but Americans, Aunt Alice told them, were in some
respects, in spite of their talking English, different, and perhaps they were different just
on this point and liked to be tipped at both ends. Anna-Rose wanted to crane out her
head and call up to Anna-Felicitas and ask her whether she didn't think that might be so,
but was afraid of disturbing the people in the opposite berths.
Anna-Felicitas was in the top berth on their side of the cabin, and Anna-Rose as the
elder and accordingly as she explained to Anna-Felicitas, needing more comfort, in the
lower one. On the opposite side were two similar berths, each containing as Anna-
Felicitas whispered after peeping cautiously through their closed curtains,—for at first
on coming in after dinner to go to bed the cabin seemed empty, except for inanimate
things, like clothes hanging up and an immense smell,—its human freight. They were
awed by this discovery, for the human freight was motionless and speechless, and yet
made none of the noises suggesting sleep.
They unpacked and undressed as silently and quickly as possible, but it was very
difficult, for there seemed to be no room for anything, not even for themselves. Every
now and then they glanced a little uneasily at the closed curtains, which bulged, and
sniffed cautiously and delicately, trying to decide what the smell exactly was. It
appeared to be a mixture of the sauce one had with plum pudding at Christmas, and
German bedrooms in the morning. It was a smell they didn't like the idea of sleeping
with, but they saw no way of getting air. They thought of ringing for the stewardess and
asking her to open a window, though they could see no window, but came to the
conclusion it was better not to stir her up; not yet, at least, not till they had correctly