First published in 1880
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[The Knighted Knave of Bergen]
One day it occurred to me that it had been many years
since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man
adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Europe
on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was
a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle.
So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878.
I looked about me for the right sort of person to
accompany me in the capacity of agent, and finally
hired a Mr. Harris for this service.
It was also my purpose to study art while in Europe.
Mr. Harris was in sympathy with me in this. He was as much
of an enthusiast in art as I was, and not less anxious
to learn to paint. I desired to learn the German language;
so did Harris.
Toward the middle of April we sailed in the HOLSATIA,
Captain Brandt, and had a very peasant trip, indeed.
After a brief rest at Hamburg, we made preparations for
a long pedestrian trip southward in the soft spring weather,
but at the last moment we changed the program,
for private reasons, and took the express-train.
We made a short halt at Frankfort-on-the-Main, and found
it an interesting city. I would have liked to visit
the birthplace of Gutenburg, but it could not be done,
as no memorandum of the site of the house has been kept.
So we spent an hour in the Goethe mansion instead.
The city permits this house to belong to private parties,
instead of gracing and dignifying herself with the honor
of possessing and protecting it.
Frankfort is one of the sixteen cities which have
the distinction of being the place where the following
incident occurred. Charlemagne, while chasing the Saxons
(as HE said), or being chased by them (as THEY said),
arrived at the bank of the river at dawn, in a fog.
The enemy were either before him or behind him;
but in any case he wanted to get across, very badly.
He would have given anything for a guide, but none was to
be had. Presently he saw a deer, followed by her young,
approach the water. He watched her, judging that she
would seek a ford, and he was right. She waded over,
and the army followed. So a great Frankish victory or
defeat was gained or avoided; and in order to commemorate
the episode, Charlemagne commanded a city to be built there,
which he named Frankfort - the ford of the Franks.
None of the other cities where this event happened were
named for it. This is good evidence that Frankfort was
the first place it occurred at.
Frankfort has another distinction - it is the birthplace
of the German alphabet; or at least of the German word
for alphabet - BUCHSTABEN. They say that the first movable
types were made on birch sticks - BUCHSTABE - hence the name.