Page:1880. A Tramp Abroad.djvu/177

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165
A STOCK OF MISINFORMATION.

And possibly the raftsmen's dialect was what is called platt -Deutch, and so they found his English more familiar to their ears than another man's German. Quite indifferent students of German can read Fritz Renter's charming platt-Deutch tales with some little facility because many of the words are English. I suppose this is the tongue which our Saxon ancestors carried to England with them. By and by I will inquire of some other philologist.

However, in the meantime it had transpired that the men employed to caulk the raft had found that the leak was not a leak at all, but only a crack between the logs,—a crack which belonged there, and was not dangerous, but had been magnified into a leak by the disordered imagination of the mate. Therefore we went aboard again with a good degree of confidence, and presently got to sea without accident. As we swam smoothly along between the enchanting shores, we fell to swapping notes about manners and customs in Germany and elsewhere.

As I write, now, many months later, I perceive that each of us, by observing and noting and inquiring, diligently and day by day, had managed to lay in a most varied and opulent stock of misinformation. But this is not surprising; it is very difficult to get accurate details in any country.

For example, I had the idea, once, in Heidelberg, to find out all about those five student-corps. I started with the White-cap corps. I began to inquire of this and that and the other citizen, and here is what I found out:

1. It is called the Prussian Corps, because none but Prussians are admitted to it.

2. It is called the Prussian Corps for no particular reason. It has simply pleased each corps to name itself after some German State.

3. It is not named the Prussian Corps at all, but only the White Cap Corps.

4. Any student can belong to it who is a German by birth.