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Roads of Destiny

The Halberdier Of The Little Rheinschloss
I go sometimes into the Bierhalle and restaurant called Old Munich. Not long ago it was
a resort of interesting Bohemians, but now only artists and musicians and literary folk
frequent it. But the Pilsner is yet good, and I take some diversion from the conversation
of Waiter No. 18.
For many years the customers of Old Munich have accepted the place as a faithful copy
from the ancient German town. The big hall with its smoky rafters, rows of imported
steins, portrait of Goethe, and verses painted on the walls—translated into German from
the original of the Cincinnati poets—seems atmospherically correct when viewed through
the bottom of a glass.
But not long ago the proprietors added the room above, called it the Little Rheinschloss,
and built in a stairway. Up there was an imitation stone parapet, ivy-covered, and the
walls were painted to represent depth and distance, with the Rhine winding at the base of
the vineyarded slopes, and the castle of Ehrenbreitstein looming directly opposite the
entrance. Of course there were tables and chairs; and you could have beer and food
brought you, as you naturally would on the top of a castle on the Rhine.
I went into Old Munich one afternoon when there were few customers, and sat at my
usual table near the stairway. I was shocked and almost displeased to perceive that the
glass cigar-case by the orchestra stand had been smashed to smithereens. I did not like
things to happen in Old Munich. Nothing had ever happened there before.
Waiter No. 18 came and breathed on my neck. I was his by right of discovery. Eighteen's
brain was built like a corral. It was full of ideas which, when he opened the gate, came
huddling out like a flock of sheep that might get together afterward or might not. I did not
shine as a shepherd. As a type Eighteen fitted nowhere. I did not find out if he had a
nationality, family, creed, grievance, hobby, soul, preference, home, or vote. He only
came always to my table and, as long as his leisure would permit, let words flutter from
him like swallows leaving a barn at daylight.
"How did the cigar-case come to be broken, Eighteen?" I asked, with a certain feeling of
personal grievance.
"I can tell you about that, sir," said he, resting his foot on the chair next to mine. "Did you
ever have anybody hand you a double handful of good luck while both your hands was
full of bad luck, and stop to notice how your fingers behaved?"
"No riddles, Eighteen," said I. "Leave out palmistry and manicuring."
"You remember," said Eighteen, "the guy in the hammered brass Prince Albert and the
oroide gold pants and the amalgamated copper hat, that carried the combination meat-
 
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