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CHAPTER II THE COUNTRY

The country measured eight thousand square kilometres, and numbered one million inhabitants.

A pretty, quiet, leisurely country. The tops of the trees in its forests rustled dreamily; its broad acres showed signs of honest care; its industries were undeveloped to the point of indigence.

It possessed some brick-kilns, a few salt and silver-mines—that was almost all. A certain amount of tourist-traffic must also be mentioned, but he would be a bold man who described it as a flourishing industry. The alkali springs, which rose from the ground in the immediate neighbourhood of the capital and formed the centre of an attractive bathing-establishment, constituted the claims of the city to be considered a health resort. But while the baths at the end of the Middle Ages had been frequented by visitors from afar, they had later lost their repute, and been put in the shade by other baths and forgotten. The most valuable of the springs, that called the Ditlinde spring, which was exceptionally rich in Uthium salts, had been opened up quite recently, in the reign of Johann Albrecht III, and as energetic business and advertising methods were not employed, its water had not yet succeeded in winning world-recognition. A hundred thousand bottles of it were sent away in the year—rather less than more. And but few strangers came to drink it on the spot.…

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