Christopher and Columbus HTML version

Their names were really Anna-Rose and Anna-Felicitas; but they decided, as they sat
huddled together in a corner of the second-class deck of the American liner St. Luke,
and watched the dirty water of the Mersey slipping past and the Liverpool landing-stage
disappearing into mist, and felt that it was comfortless and cold, and knew they hadn't
got a father or a mother, and remembered that they were aliens, and realized that in
front of them lay a great deal of gray, uneasy, dreadfully wet sea, endless stretches of it,
days and days of it, with waves on top of it to make them sick and submarines beneath
it to kill them if they could, and knew that they hadn't the remotest idea, not the very
remotest, what was before them when and if they did get across to the other side, and
knew that they were refugees, castaways, derelicts, two wretched little Germans who
were neither really Germans nor really English because they so unfortunately, so
complicatedly were both,—they decided, looking very calm and determined and sitting
very close together beneath the rug their English aunt had given them to put round their
miserable alien legs, that what they really were, were Christopher and Columbus,
because they were setting out to discover a New World.
"It's very pleasant," said Anna-Rose. "It's very pleasant to go and discover America. All
for ourselves."
It was Anna-Rosa who suggested their being Christopher and Columbus. She was the
elder by twenty minutes. Both had had their seventeenth birthday—and what a birthday:
no cake, no candles, no kisses and wreaths and home-made poems; but then, as Anna-
Felicitas pointed out, to comfort Anna-Rose who was taking it hard, you can't get blood
out of an aunt—only a month before. Both were very German outside and very English
inside. Both had fair hair, and the sorts of chins Germans have, and eyes the colour of
the sky in August along the shores of the Baltic. Their noses were brief, and had been
objected to in Germany, where, if you are a Junker's daughter, you are expected to
show it in your nose. Anna-Rose had a tight little body, inclined to the round. Anna-
Felicitas, in spite of being a twin, seemed to have made the most of her twenty extra
minutes to grow more in; anyhow she was tall and thin, and she drooped; and having
perhaps grown quicker made her eyes more dreamy, and her thoughts more slow. And
both held their heads up with a great air of calm whenever anybody on the ship looked
at them, as who should say serenely, "We're thoroughly happy, and having the time of
our lives."
For worlds they wouldn't have admitted to each other that they were even aware of such
a thing as being anxious or wanting to cry. Like other persons of English blood, they
never were so cheerful nor pretended to be so much amused as when they were right
down on the very bottom of their luck. Like other persons of German blood, they had the
squashiest corners deep in their hearts, where they secretly clung to cakes and
Christmas trees, and fought a tendency to celebrate every possible anniversary, both
dead and alive.