Abroad with Mark Twain and Eugene Field/Mark Got Arrested in Berlin
MARK GOT ARRESTED IN BERLIN
It was in Koernerstrasse No. 7, of course, and it happened in this way. Mark, his wife, Mrs. Crane, the three children, and the governess were having breakfast when Gretchen came in, excitement written all over her face; as Mark said: "You could hear her heart beat. There was a frightful commotion under her shirtwaist."
"'Gracious Lord,' she said, addressing me, 'there is a Mister Policeman outside who wants to see you. Gracious Lord.'
"'Tell him to go to blazes,' I said, Susan translating the American classic into even more classic German.
"'My God,' groaned Gretchen, *I could never say anything like that to a Mister Policeman. He is a Mister Policeman, don't you understand. Gracious Lord?'
"'Well,' I said, 'I haven't had any breakfast, and if the Kaiser himself called I would throw him out.'
"At this moment there was a peremptory knock at the door and a raspy voice bellowed:
"'Wird's bald?' (Aren't you coming?)
"Now I got real mad and telling Susie to get the revolver we didn't have in the house, I went to the door.
"'I am Mr. Clemens,' I said to the limb of the law. 'What do you want at this unearthly hour, of an American citizen? More taxes? I have paid taxes on a dog which I don't own, and I paid church taxes although I never go to church. I am tired of your tax rot. I won't pay another pfennig.'
"'Take a care, Herr Clemens,' warned the mister policeman. 'I heard you mention the name of our All Gracious Kaiser, and now you talk like an anarchist. We won't stand for that in Berlin.'
"'Who are we?' I asked.
"'The police,' he answered.
"'Well, tell the police to——!'
"And no sooner had I uttered that revolutionary platitude when the mister policeman dumped his helmet on his frowzy bean, knocked his heels together, and put his right hand on his sword hilt and sang out:
"'Herr, you are under arrest.'
"Whereupon all the women of the household and all the listening neighbors were petrified with terror. But I laughed to beat the band to hide my cowardice. My hilarity took the mister policeman off his perch for the moment, and he said:
"'What are you laughing at?'
"I answered: 'I am tickled because you threaten me with jail, with the gallows perhaps, and don't know enough to state the nature of my crime.'
"'That's easy, you are arrested for a breach of the city regulations. You allowed your servants to put the bedclothes near the window, and when I stand on tiptoes on the other side of the street, I can see them.'
"I laughed again. He repeated that I was under arrest, and ordered me to come to court the next morning at nine.
"So next morning at nine I went to court, the legation having furnished me with a lawyer. When the judge came in, I rose like everybody else to salute His Honor, then settled down to watch proceedings, and without wishing to be offensive, of course, I slung one knee over the other. Thereupon, the judge called me to the bar and fined me twenty marks for indecent behavior. In a German court I was expected to bend, not cross, my knees. Next my case was called and, as the court was possibly prejudiced on account of the knee incident, I was fined ten marks for showing perfectly clean linen, and twenty marks for laughing at a mister policeman. It cost me fifty marks ($12.50) all in all and I expected to make about five hundred dollars writing about my disgrace. However, Livy thought the telling of it would deal the family escutcheon a blow from which it could never hope to recover and so I had to stick to my five-cent stogies the same as the mister policeman."