Mynheer Peeperkorn 60

Frau Chauchat complied with the demands of Western civilization and introduced the gentlemen to one another. An acquaintance from before, she said, referring to Hans Castorp – from her previous stay here. Herr Peeperkorn’s presence needed no further explanation. She said his name, and the Dutchman attentively turned his gaze to the young man, his eyes pale beneath the almost idol-like arabesques of his creased brow and temples, and extended a hand – the back of it was all freckles, a sea captain’s hand, Hans Castorp thought, if you discounted those lancelike nails. He was standing now directly under the influence of Peeperkorn’s massive personality (“personality” – one glance at him, and the word would leave your mind; suddenly you knew what a personality was and the more saw of him the more you were convinced that this was the only way a personality could look); and malleable youth felt crushed beneath the weight of this broad-shouldered, red-faced sixty-year-old, with white flames that encircled his head, painfully ragged lips, and a long, narrow beard that reached down to his high-buttoned, clerical-style vest. Peeperkorn was courtesy personified, by the way.

“My dear sir,” he said, “by all means. No, permit me, sir – by all means. I am making your acquaintance this evening – the acquaintance of a promising young man – and I do so, my dear sir, quite deliberately, fully engaging all my energies. I like you, sir. I – don’t mention it. Settled. You appeal to me.”