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Title: Paul Patoff
Author: Crawford, F. Marion (Francis Marion), 1854-1909
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Paul Patoff" ***

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PAUL PATOFF

by

F. MARION CRAWFORD

Author of "A Roman Singer," "To Leeward," "An American
Politician," "Saracinesca," Etc.



New York
The MacMillan Company
London: MacMillan & Co., Ltd.
1911

All rights reserved

Copyright, 1887,
by F. Marion Crawford.

Copyright, 1892,
by F. Marion Crawford.

First published elsewhere. Reprinted with corrections, April,
1893; June, 1894; June, 1899; July, 1906; January, 1912.

Norwood Press
J. S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith
Norwood Mass. U.S.A.



PAUL PATOFF.


My dear lady--my dear friend--you have asked me to tell you a story, and
I am going to try, because there is not anything I would not try if you
asked it of me. I do not yet know what it will be about, but it is
impossible that I should disappoint you; and if the proverb says, "Needs
must when the devil drives," I can mend the proverb into a show of
grace, and say, The most barren earth must needs bear flowers when an
angel sows the seed.

When you asked for the story I could only find a dry tale of my own
doings, which I detailed to you somewhat at length, as we cantered down
into the Valley of the Sweet Waters. The south wind was warm this
afternoon, though it brought rain with it and wetted us a little as we
rode; it was soft and dreamy, and made everything look sleepy, and
misty, and a little uncertain in outline. Baghdad sniffed it in his deep
red nostrils, for it was the wind of his home; but Haroun al Raschid
shook the raindrops restlessly from his gray mane, as though he hated to
be damp, and was thinking longingly of the hot sand and the desert sun.
But he had no right to complain, for water must needs come in the
oases,--and truly I know of no fairer and sweeter resting-place in
life's journey than the Valley of the Sweet Waters above the Golden
Horn.

That same south wind--when I think, it is a point or two easterly, and
it seems to smell of Persia--well, that same soft wind is blowing at my
windows now in the dark night, and is murmuring, sometimes almost
complaining, then dying away in a fitful, tearful sigh, sorry even to
weeping for its restless fate, sorry perhaps for me and sighing for me.
God knows, there is enough to sigh for in this working-day world, is
there not? I have heard you sigh, too, very sadly, as though something
hurt you, although you are so bright and young and fair. The wind sighs
hopelessly, in great sobs of weariness and despair, for he is filled
with the ghosts of the past; but your breath has a music in it that is
more like the song of the sunrise that used to break out from the heart
of the beautiful marble at dawn.

Poor wind! He is trying to speak to me through the pines,--perhaps he is
bringing a message. It is long since any one brought me a message I
cared to hear. I will open the door to the terrace and let him in, and
see what he has to say.

Truly, he speaks great words:--

"I am the belt and the girdle of this world. I carry in my arms the
souls of the dead and the sins of them; the souls of them that have not
yet lived, with their deeds, are in my bosom. I am sorrowful with the
sorrow of ages, and strong with the strength of ages yet unlived. What
is thy sorrow to my sorrow, or thy strength to my strength? Listen.

"Knowest thou whence I come, or whither I go? Fool, thou knowest not
even of thyself what thou shalt do to-morrow, and it may be that on the
next day I shall have thy soul, to take it away, and hold it, and buffet
it, and tear it as I will. Fool, thou knowest little! The gardens of
Persia are sweet this night; this night the maidens of Hindustan have
gone forth to greet the new moon, and I am full of their soft prayers
and gentle thoughts, for I am come from them. But the north, whither I
go, is cold and cruel, full of snow and darkness and gloom. Along the
lands where I will pass I shall see men and women dying in the frost,
and little children, too, poor and hungry, and shivering out the last
breathings of a wretched life; and some of them I will take with me
this night, to my journey's end among the ice-floes and the brown,
driving mists of the uttermost north. Dost thou wonder that I am sad?

"That is thy life. Thou art come from the sweet-scented gardens of thy
youth, thou must go to the ice desert of thine old age; and now thou art
full of strength and boastfulness, and thinkest thou shalt perchance be
the first mortal who shall cheat death. Go to! Thou shalt die like the
rest, the more miserably that thou lovest life more than the others."

The wind is in an ill humor to-night; I should not have thought he could
say such hard things. But he is a hopeless old cynic, even when he blows
warm from the south; he has seen so much and done so much, and has
furnished so many metaphors to threadbare poets, that he believes in
nothing good, or young, or in any way fresh. He is bad company, and I
have shut the window again. You asked me for a story, and you are
beginning to wonder why I do not tell you one. Do you like long stories
or short stories? Sad or gay? True or fanciful? What shall it be? My
true stories are all sad, but the ones I imagine are often merry. Could
I not think of one true, and gay as well? There was once a bad old man
who said that when the truth ceased to be solemn it became dull. Between
solemnity and dullness you would not find what you want, which, I take
it, is a little laughter, a little sadness, and, when it is done, the
comfortable assurance of your own senses that you have been amused, and
not bored. The bad old gentleman was right. When our lives are not
filled with great emotions they are crammed with insignificant details,
and one may tell them ever so well, they will be insignificant to the
end. But the fancy is a great store-house, filled with all the beautiful
things that we do not find in our lives. My dear friend, if true love
were an every-day phenomenon, experienced by everybody, it would cease
to be in any way interesting; people would be so familiar with it that
it would bore them to extinction; they would have it for breakfast,
dinner, and supper as a matter of course, and would be as fastidious of
its niceties as an Anglo-Indian about the quality of the pepper. It is
because only one man or woman in a hundred thousand is personally
acquainted with the sufferings of true-love fever that the other
ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine take delight in
observing the contortions and convulsions of the patient. It is a great
satisfaction to them to compare the slight touch of ague they once had
when they were young with the raging sickness of a breaking heart; to
see a resemblance between the tiny scratch upon themselves, which they
delight in irritating, and the ghastly wound by which the tortured soul
has sped from its prison.

To tell the truth, they are not so very much to blame. Even the
momentary reflection of love is a good thing; at least, it is better
than to know nothing of it. One can fancy that a violin upon which no
one had ever played would yet be glad to vibrate faintly in unison with
the music of a more favored neighbor; it would bring a sensation of the
possibility of music. The stronger harmony is caught up and carried on
forever in endless sound waves, but the slight responsive murmur of the
passive strings is lost and forgotten.

And now you will tell me that I am making phrases. That is my
profession: I am a twister of words; I torture language by trade. You
know it, for you have known me a long time, and, if you will pardon my
vanity, or rudeness, I observe that my mode of putting the dictionary on
the rack amuses you. The fact that you ask for a story shows that well
enough. I am a plain man, and there never was any poetry in me, but I
have seen it in other people, and I understand why some persons like it.
As for stories, I have plenty of them. I, Paul Griggs, have seen a
variety of sights, and I have a good memory. There is the south-east
wind again. I was speaking of love, a moment ago,--there is a story of
the wind falling in love. There is a garden of roses far away to the
east, where a maiden lies asleep; the roses have no thorns in that
garden, and they grow softly about her and make a pillow for her fair
head. A blustering wind came once and nearly waked her, but she was so
beautiful that he fell deep in love; and he turned into the softest
breeze that ever fanned a woman's cheek in summer, for fear lest he
should trouble her sleep. There was a poor woman in rags, in the streets
of London, on that March night, but she could not soften the heart of
the cruel blast for all her shivering and praying; for she was very poor
and wretched, and never was beautiful, even when she was young.

That is a short tale, and it has no moral application, for it is too
common a truth. If people would only act directly on things instead of
expecting the morality of their cant phrases to act for them, to feed
the hungry, to clothe the naked, to pay their bills, and to save their
souls into the bargain, what a vast deal of good would be done, and what
an incalculable amount of foolish talk would be spared! But there is a
diplomatic spirit abroad in our day, and it is necessary to enter into
polite relations with a drowning man before it is possible to pull him
out of the water.

But the story, you say,--where is it? Forgive me. I am rusty and
ponderous at the start, like an old dredger that has stuck too long in
the mud. Let me move a little and swing out with the tide till I am in
clearer waters, and I will promise to bring up something pretty from the
bottom of the sea for you to look at. I would not have you see any of
the blackness that lies in the stagnant harbor.

I will tell you the story of Paul Patoff. I played a small part in it
myself last summer, and so, in a certain way, it is a tale of my own
experience. I say a tale, because it is emphatically a tale, and nothing
else. I might almost call it a yarn, though the word would look
strangely on a printed title-page. We are vain in our generation; we
fancy we have discovered something new under the sun, and we give the
name "novel" to the things we write. I will not insult literature by
honoring this story with any such high-sounding designation. A great
many of the things I am going to tell you were told to me, so that I
shall have some difficulty in putting the whole together in a connected
shape, and I must begin by asking your indulgence if I transgress all
sorts of rules, and if I do not succeed in getting the interesting
points into the places assigned to them by the traditional laws of art.
I tell what happened, and I do not pretend to tell any more.



I.


If places could speak, they would describe people far better than people
can describe places. No two men agree together in giving an account of a
country, of natural scenery, or of a city; and though we may read the
most accurate descriptions of a place, and vividly picture to ourselves
what we have never seen, yet, when we are at last upon the spot, we
realize that we have known nothing about it, and we loudly blame the
author, whose word-painting is so palpably false. People will always
think of places as being full of poetry if they are in love, as being
beautiful if they are well, hideous if they are ill, wearisome if they
are bored, and gay if they are making money.

Constantinople and the Bosphorus are no exceptions to this general rule.
People who live there are sometimes well and sometimes ill, sometimes
rich and sometimes poor, sometimes in love with themselves and sometimes
in love with each other. A grave Persian carpet merchant sits smoking on
the quay of Buyukdere. He sees them all go by, from the gay French
secretary of embassy, puffing at a cigarette as he hurries from one
visit to the next, to the neat and military German diplomat, landing
from his steam launch on his return from the palace; from the
devil-may-care English youth in white flannel to the graceful Turkish
adjutant on his beautiful Arab horse; from the dark-eyed Armenian lady,
walking slowly by the water's edge, to the terrifically arrayed little
Greek dandy, with a spotted waistcoat and a thunder-and-lightning tie.
He sees them all: the Levantine with the weak and cunning face, the
swarthy Kurdish porter, the gorgeously arrayed Dalmatian embassy
servant, the huge, fair Turkish waterman in his spotless white dress,
and the countless veiled Turkish women from the small harems of the
little town, shuffling along in silence, or squatted peacefully upon a
jutting point of the pier, veiled in _yashmaks_, the more transparent as
they have the more beauty to show or the less ugliness to conceal. The
carpet merchant sees them all, and sits like Patience upon a monumental
heap of stuffs, waiting for customers and smoking his water-pipe. His
eyes are greedy and his fingers are long, but the peace of a superior
mendacity is on his brow, and in his heart the lawful price of goods is
multiplied exceedingly.

By the side of the quay, separated from the quiet water by the broad
white road, stand the villas, the embassies, the houses, large and
small, a varying front, following the curve of the Bosphorus for half a
mile between the Turkish towns of Buyukdere and Mesar Burnu. Behind the
villas rise the gardens, terraces upon terraces of roses, laurels,
lemons, Japanese medlars, and trees and shrubs of all sorts, with a
stone pine or a cypress here and there, dark green against the faint
blue sky. Beyond the breadth of smooth sapphire water, scarcely rippling
under the gentle northerly breeze, the long hills of the Asian mainland
stretch to the left as far as the mouth of the Black Sea, and to the
right until the quick bend of the narrow channel hides Asia from view
behind the low promontories of the European shore. Now and then a big
ferry-boat puffs into sight, churning the tranquil waters into foam with
her huge paddles; a dozen sailing craft are in view, from Lord
Mavourneen's smart yawl to the outlandishly rigged Turkish schooner, her
masts raking forward like the antlers of a stag at bay, and spreading a
motley collection of lateen-sails, stay-sails, square top-sails, and
vast spinnakers rigged out with booms and sprits, which it would puzzle
a northern sailor to name. Far to the right, towards Therapia, glimmer
the brilliant uniforms and the long bright oars of an ambassador's
twelve-oared caïque, returning from an official visit at the palace; and
near the shore are loitering half a dozen _barcas_,--commodious
row-boats, with awnings and cushioned seats,--on the lookout for a fare.

It is the month of June, and the afternoon air is warm and hazy upon the
land, though a gentle northerly breeze is on the water, just enough to
fill the sails of Lord Mavourneen's little yacht, so that by making many
short tacks he may beat up to the mouth of the Black Sea before sunset.
But his excellency the British ambassador is in no hurry; he would go on
tacking in his little yawl to all eternity of nautical time, with vast
satisfaction, rather than be bored and worried and harrowed by the
predestinating servants of Allah, at the palace of his majesty the
commander of the faithful. Even Fate, the universal Kismet,
procrastinates in Turkey, and Lord Mavourneen's special mission is to
out-procrastinate the procrastinator. For the present the little yawl is
an important factor in his operations, and as he stands in his rough
blue clothes, looking up through his single eyeglass at the bellying
canvas, a gentle smile upon his strongly marked face betrays
considerable satisfaction. Lord Mavourneen is a very successful man, and
his smile and his yacht have been elements of no small importance in his
success. They characterize him historically, like the tear which always
trembles under the left eyelid of Prince Bismarck, like the gray
overcoat of Bonaparte, the black tights and gloomy looks of Hamlet the
Dane, or Richelieu's kitten. Lord Mavourneen is a man of action, but he
can wait. When he came to Constantinople the Turks thought they could
keep him waiting, but they have discovered that they are more generally
kept waiting themselves, while his excellency is up the Bosphorus,
beating about in his little yawl near the mouth of the Black Sea. His
actions are thought worthy of high praise, but on some occasions his
inaction borders upon the sublime. Of the men who moved along the
Buyukdere quay, many paused and glanced out over the water at the
white-sailed yawl, with the single streamer flying from the mast-head;
and some smiled as they recognized the ambassadorial yacht, and some
looked grave.

The sun sank lower towards the point where he disappears from the sight
of the inhabitants of Buyukdere; for he is not seen to set from this
part of the upper Bosphorus. He sinks early behind the wooded hills
above Therapia, and when he is hidden the evening freshness begins, and
the crowd upon the quay swells to a multitude, as the people from the
embassies and villas sally forth to mount their horses or to get into
their caïques.

Two young men came out of the white gates of the Russian embassy, and,
crossing the road, stood upon the edge of the stone pier. They were
brothers, but the resemblance was slight between them. The one looked
like an Englishman, tall, fair, and rather angular, with hard blue eyes,
an aquiline nose, a heavy yellow mustache concealing his mouth, and a
ruddy complexion. He was extremely well dressed, and, though one might
detect some awkwardness in his movements, his manner had that composure
which comes from a great knowledge of the world, and from a natural
self-possession and independence of character.

His brother, though older by a year, might have passed for being several
years younger. He was in reality two and thirty years of age, but his
clear complexion was that of a boy, his dark brown hair curled closely
on his head, and his soft brown eyes had a young and trustful look in
them, which contrasted strangely with his brother's hard and dominating
expression. He was shorter, too, and more slender, but also more
graceful; his hands and feet were small and well shaped. Nevertheless,
his manner was at least as self-possessed as that of his tall brother,
and there was something in his look which suggested the dashing,
reckless spirit sometimes found in delicately constituted men.
Alexander Patoff was a soldier, and had obtained leave to visit his
younger brother Paul in Constantinople, where the latter held the
position of second secretary in the Russian embassy. At first sight one
would have said that Paul should have been the cavalry officer, and
Alexander the diplomatist: but fate had ordered it otherwise, for the
elder son had inherited the bulk of his father's fortune, and was,
consequently, able to bear the expenses of a career in a guard regiment;
while Paul, the younger, just managed to live comfortably the life of a
fashionable diplomacy, by dint of economy and an intelligent use of his
small income.

They were Russians, but their mother was an Englishwoman. Their father
had married a Miss Anne Dabstreak, with whom he had fallen in love when
in London, shortly before the Crimean War. She was a beautiful woman,
and had a moderate portion. Old Patoff's fortune, however, was
sufficient, and they had lived happily for ten years, when he had died
very suddenly, leaving a comfortable provision for his wife, and the
chief part of his possessions to Alexander Paolovitch Patoff, his eldest
boy. Paul, he thought, showed even as a child the character necessary to
fight his own way; and as he had since advanced regularly in the
diplomacy, it seemed probable that he would fulfill his father's
predictions, and die an embassador.

At the time when this story opens Madame Patoff was traveling in
Switzerland for her health. She was not strong, and dared not undertake
a journey to Constantinople at present. On the other hand, the climate
of northern Russia suited her even less well in summer than in winter,
and, to her great regret, her son Alexander, whom she loved better than
Paul, as he was also more like herself, had persisted in spending his
leave in a visit to his brother.

Madame Patoff had been surprised at Alexander's determination. Her sons
were not congenial to each other. They had been brought up differently
to different careers, which might partially account for the lack of
sympathy between them, but in reality the evil had a deeper root. Madame
Patoff had either never realized that Alexander had been the favored
son, and that Paul had suffered acutely from the preference shown to his
elder brother, or she had loved the latter too passionately to care to
hide her preference. Alexander had been a beautiful child, full of
grace, and gifted with that charm which in young children is not easily
resisted. Paul was ugly in his boyhood, cold and reserved, rarely
showing sympathy, and too proud to ask for what was not given him
freely. Alexander was quick-witted, talented, and showy, if I may use so
barbarous a word. Paul was slow at first, ungainly as a young foal,
strong without grace, shy of attempting anything new to him, and not
liking to be noticed. Both father and mother, as the boys grew up, loved
the older lad, and spoiled him, while the younger was kept forever at
his books, was treated coldly, and got little praise for the performance
of his tasks. Had Paul possessed less real energy of character, he must
have hated his brother; as it was, he silently disliked him, but
inwardly resolved to outshine him in everything, laboring to that end
from his boyhood, and especially after his father's death, with a dogged
determination which promised success. The result was that, although Paul
never outgrew a certain ungainliness of appearance, due to his large and
bony frame, he nevertheless acquired a perfection of manner, an ease and
confidence in conversation, which, in the end, might well impress people
who knew him more favorably than the bearing of Alexander, whose soft
voice and graceful attitudes began to savor of affectation when he had
attained to mature manhood. As they stood together on the quay at
Buyukdere, one could guess that, in the course of years, Alexander would
be an irritable, peevish old dandy, while Paul would turn out a stern,
successful old man.

They stood looking at the water, watching the caïques shoot out from
the shore upon the bosom of the broad stream.

"Have you made up your mind?" asked Paul, without looking at his
brother.

"Oh, yes. I do not care where we go. I suppose it is worth seeing?"

"Well worth seeing. You have never seen anything like it."

"Is it as fine as Easter Eve in Moscow?" asked Alexander, incredulously.

"It is different," said Paul. "It corresponds to our Easter Eve in some
ways. All through the Ramazán they fast all day--never smoke, nor drink
a glass of water, and of course they eat nothing--until sunset, when the
gun is fired. During the last week there are services in Santa Sophia
every night, and that is what is most remarkable. They go on until the
news comes that the new moon has been seen."

"That does not sound very interesting," remarked Alexander, languidly,
lighting a cigarette with a bit of yellow fuse that dangled from his
heavy Moscow case.

"It is interesting, nevertheless, and you must see it. You cannot be
here at this time and not see what is most worth seeing."

"Is there nothing else this evening?" asked Alexander.

"No. We have to respect the prejudices of the country a little. After
all, we really have a holiday during this month. Nothing can be done.
The people at the palace do not get up until one o'clock or later, so as
to make the time while they fast seem shorter."

"Very sensible of them. I wonder why they get up at all, until their
ridiculous gun fires, and they can smoke."

"Whether you like it or not, you must go to Santa Sophia to-night, and
see the service," said Paul, firmly. "You need not stay long, unless you
like."

"If you take me there, I will stay rather than have the trouble of
coming away," answered the other. "Bah!" he exclaimed suddenly, "there
is that caïque again!"

Paul followed the direction of his brother's glance, and saw a graceful
caïque pulling slowly upstream towards them. Four sturdy Turks in
snow-white cotton tugged at the long oars, and in the deep body of the
boat, upon low cushions, sat two ladies, side by side. Behind them, upon
the stern, was perched a hideous and beardless African, gorgeously
arrayed in a dark tunic heavily laced with gold, a richly chased and
adorned scimiter at his side, and a red fez jauntily set on one side of
his misshapen head. But Alexander's attention was arrested by the
ladies, or rather by one of them, as the caïque passed within oar's
length of the quay.

"She must be hideous," said Paul, contemptuously. "I never saw such a
yashmak. It is as thick as a towel. You cannot see her face at all."

"Look at her hand," said Alexander. "I tell you she is not hideous."

The figures of the two ladies were completely hidden in the wide black
silk garments they wore, the eternal ferigee which makes all women
alike. Upon their heads they wore caps, such as in the jargon of fashion
are called toques, and their faces were enveloped in yashmaks, white
veils which cross the forehead above the eyes and are brought back just
below them, so as to cover the rest of the face. But there was this
difference; that whereas the veil worn by one of the ladies was of the
thinnest gauze, showing every feature of her dark, coarse face through
its transparent texture, the veil of the other was perfectly opaque, and
disguised her like a mask. Paul Patoff justly remarked that this was
very unusual. He had observed the same peculiarity at least twenty
times; for in the course of three weeks, since Alexander arrived, the
brothers had seen this same lady almost every day, till they had grown
to expect her, and had exhausted all speculation in regard to her
personality. Paul maintained that she was ugly, because she would not
show her face. Alexander swore that she was beautiful, because her hand
was young and white and shapely, and because, as he said, her attitude
was graceful and her head moved well when she turned it. Concerning her
hand, at least, there was no doubt, for as the delicate fingers stole
out from the black folds of the ferigee their whiteness shone by
contrast upon the dark silk; there was something youthful and nervous
and sensitive in their shape and movement which fascinated the young
Russian, and made him mad with curiosity to see the face of the veiled
woman to whom they belonged. She turned her head a little, as the caïque
passed, and her dark eyes met his with an expression which seemed one of
intelligence; but unfortunately all black eyes look very much alike when
they are just visible between the upper and the lower folds of a thick
yashmak, and Alexander uttered an exclamation of discontent.

Thereupon the hideous negro at the stern, who had noticed the stare of
the two Russians, shook his light stick at Alexander, and hissed out
something that sounded very like "Kiope 'oul kiopek,"--dog and son of a
dog; the oarsmen grinned and pulled harder than ever, and the caïque
shot past the pier. Paul shrugged his shoulders contemptuously, but did
not translate the Turkish ejaculation to his brother. A boatman stood
lounging near them, leaning on a stone post, and following the
retreating caïque with his eyes.

"Ask that fellow who she is," said Alexander.

"He does not know," answered Paul. "Those fellows never know anything."

"Ask him," insisted his brother. "I am sure he knows." Paul was willing
to be obliging, and went up to the man.

"Do you know who that Khanum is?" he asked, in Turkish.

"Bilmem,--I don't know," replied the man, without moving a muscle of his
face.

"Do you know who her father is?"

"Allah bilir,--God knows. Probably Abraham, who is the father of all the
faithful." Paul laughed.

"I told you he knew nothing about her," he said, turning to his brother.

"It did you no harm to ask," answered Alexander testily. "Let us take a
caïque and follow her."

"You may, if you please," said Paul. "I have no intention of getting
myself into trouble."

"Nonsense! Why should we get into trouble? We have as good a right to
row on the Bosphorus as they have."

"We have no right to go near them. It is contrary to the customs of the
country."

"I do not care for custom," retorted Alexander.

"If you walked down the Boulevard des Italiens in Paris on Easter Day
and kissed every woman you met, merely saying, 'The Lord is risen,' by
way of excuse, as we do in Russia, you would discover that customs are
not the same everywhere."

"You are as slow as an ox-cart, Paul," said Alexander.

"The simile is graceful. Thank you. As I say, you may do anything you
please, as you are a stranger here. But if you do anything flagrantly
contrary to the manners of the country, you will not find my chief
disposed to help you out of trouble. We are disliked enough
already,--hated expresses it better. Come along. Take a turn upon the
quay before dinner, and then we will go to Stamboul and see the
ceremony."

"I hate the quay," replied Alexander, who was now in a very bad humor.

"Then we will go the other way. We can walk through Mesar Burnu and get
to the Valley of Roses."

"That sounds better."

So the two turned northwards, and followed the quay upstream till they
came to the wooden steamboat landing, and then, turning to the left,
they entered the small Turkish village of Mesar Burnu. While they walked
upon the road Alexander could still follow the caïque, now far ahead,
shooting along through the smooth water, and he slackened his pace more
slowly when it was out of sight. The dirty little bazaar of the village
did not interest him, and he was not inclined to talk as he picked his
way over the muddy stones, chewing his discontent and regretting the
varnish of his neat boots. Presently they emerged from the crowd of
vegetable venders, fishmongers, and sweetmeat sellers into a broad green
lane between two grave-yards, where the huge silent trees grew up
straight and sad from the sea of white tombstones which stood at every
angle, some already fallen, some looking as though they must fall at
once, some still erect, according to the length of time which had
elapsed since they were set up. For in Turkey the headstones of graves
are narrow at the base and broaden like leaves towards the top, and they
are not set deep in the ground; so that they are top-heavy, and with the
sinking of the soil they invariably fall to one side or the other.

Paul turned again, where four roads meet at a drinking fountain, and the
two brothers entered the narrow Valley of Roses. The roses are not,
indeed, so numerous as one might expect, but the path is beautiful,
green and quiet, and below it the tinkle of a little stream is heard,
flowing down from the spring where the lane ends. There they sat down
beneath a giant tree on a beaten terrace, where a Kaffegee has his
little shop. The water pours from the spring in the hillside into a
great basin bordered with green, the air is cool, and there is a
delicious sense of rest after leaving the noise and dust of the quay.
Both men smoked and drank their coffee in silence. Paul could not help
wishing that his brother would take a little more interest in Turkey and
a little less in the lady of the thick yashmak; and especially he wished
that Alexander might finish his visit without getting into trouble. He
had successfully controlled him during three weeks, and in another
fortnight he must return to Russia. Paul confessed to himself that his
brother's visit was not an unmitigated blessing, and found it hard to
explain the object of it. Indeed, it was so simple that his diplomatic
mind did not find it out; for Alexander had merely said to himself that
he had never seen Constantinople, and that, as his brother was there, in
the embassy, he could see it under favorable circumstances, at a very
moderate cost. He was impetuous, spoiled by too much flattery, and
incapable of imagining that Paul could consider his visit in any light
but that of a compliment. Accordingly he had come, and had enjoyed
himself very much.

"Let us dine here," he said suddenly, as he finished his coffee.

"There is nothing to eat," answered Paul. "Coffee, cold water, and a few
cakes. That is all, and that would hardly satisfy you."

"What a nuisance!" exclaimed the elder brother. "What a barbarous
country this is! Nothing to eat but coffee, cold water, and cakes!"

"It is rather hard on the Turks to abuse them for not keeping
restaurants in their woods," remarked Paul.

"I detest the Turks. I shall never forget the discomfort I had to put up
with in the war. They might have learned something from us then; but
they never learn anything. Come along. Let us go and dine in your
rooms."

"It is impossible to be more discontented than you are," said Paul,
rather bitterly. "It is utterly impossible to please you,--and yet you
have most things which are necessary to happiness."

"I suppose you mean the money?" sneered his brother. But Paul kept his
temper.

"I mean everything," he answered. "You have money, youth, good looks,
and social success; and yet you can hardly see anything without abusing
it."

"You forget that I do not know the name of the lady in the yashmak,"
objected Alexander.

Paul shrugged his shoulders, and said nothing. Both men rose, and began
to go down the green lane, returning towards Mesar Burnu. By this time
the sun had sunk low behind the western hills, and the cool of the
evening had descended on the woods and the Valley of Roses. The green
grass and the thick growth of shrubs took a darker color, and the first
dampness of the dew was in the air. The two walked briskly down the
path. Suddenly a turn in the narrow way brought them face to face with a
party of three persons, strolling slowly towards them.

"Luck!" ejaculated Alexander. "Here they are again!"

He was right. There was no mistaking the lady with the thick,
impenetrable veil, nor her companion, whose heavy dark face was
distinctly visible through the thin Indian gauze. Behind them walked the
hideous negro, swinging his light cane jauntily, but beginning to cast
angry glances at the two Russians, whom he had already recognized. The
way was very narrow, and the ladies saw that retreat was impossible.
Paul bit his lip, fearing some foolish rashness on the part of his
brother. As they all met, the ladies drew close to the hedge on one side
of the path, their black attendant standing before them, as though to
prevent the Giaours from even brushing against the wide silken ferigees
of his charges. Paul pushed his brother in front of him, hoping that
Alexander would have the sense to pass quietly by; but he trembled for
the result.

Alexander moved slowly forward, turning his head as he passed, and
looking long into the black eyes of the veiled lady.

"Pek güzel,--very pretty indeed," he said aloud, using the only words of
Turkish he had learned in three weeks. But they were enough; the effect
was instantaneous. Without a word and without hesitation, the tall negro
struck a violent blow at Alexander with the light bamboo he carried.
Paul, who was immediately behind his brother, saw the action and caught
the man's hand in the air, but the end of the flexible cane flew down
and knocked Alexander's hat from his head.

"Run!" cried Paul excitedly, as the negro struggled in his grip.

The two Turkish ladies laughed aloud. They were used to such adventures,
but the spectacle of the negro beating a Frank gentleman was novel and
refreshing. Alexander picked up his hat, but showed no disposition to
move. The African struggled vainly in Paul's powerful arms.

"Go, I say!" cried the latter authoritatively. "There will be trouble if
any one comes."

But Alexander had received a blow, and his blood was up. Moreover, he
was a Russian, and utterly regardless of consequences,--or perhaps he
only wanted to annoy his brother by a show of violence.

"I think I will shoot him," he said, quietly producing a small revolver
from his pocket.

At the sight of the weapon, the two ladies, who, on seeing the fight
prolonged, had retired a few paces up the path, began to scream loudly
for help. The negro, who was proof against blows and would not have
shown much fear at the sight of a knife, fell on his knees, crying aloud
for mercy. Thereupon Paul released him and bid him go.

"For God's sake, Alexander, do not make a fool of yourself!" he said
coldly, walking up to his brother. But he turned once more to the black
attendant, and added quietly in Turkish, "You had better go. We both
have pistols."

The negro did not wait, but sprang back and flew towards the two ladies,
speaking excitedly, and imploring them to make haste. The two brothers
made their way quickly down the path, Paul pushing Alexander before him.

"You have done it now. You will have to leave Constantinople to-morrow,"
he said, sternly. "You cannot play these tricks here."

"Bah!" returned Alexander, "it is of no consequence. They do not know
who we are."

"They have not seen us coming out of our embassy half a dozen times
without knowing where to look for us. There will be a complaint made
within two hours, and there will be trouble. The law protects them.
These fellows are authorized to strike anybody who speaks to the women
they have in charge, or who even goes too near them. Be quick! We must
get back to the quay before there is any alarm raised."

Alexander knew that his brother Paul was no coward, and, being
thoroughly convinced of the danger, he quickened his walk. In twenty
minutes they reached Mesar Burnu, and in five minutes more they were
within the gates of the embassy. The huge Cossack who stood by the
entrance saluted them gravely, and Paul drew a long breath of relief as
he entered the pretty pavilion in the garden in which he had his
quarters. Alexander threw himself upon a low divan, and laughed with
true Russian indifference. Paul pretended not to notice him, but
silently took up the local French paper, which came every evening, and
began to read.

"You are excellent company, upon my word!" exclaimed Alexander,
irritated at his brother's coldness. Paul laid down the paper, and
stared at him with his hard blue eyes.

"Alexander, you are a fool," he said coolly.

"Look here," said the other, suddenly losing his temper, and rising to
his feet, "I will not submit to this sort of language."

"Then do not expose yourself to it. Are you aware that you do me very
serious injury by your escapades?"

"Escapades indeed!" cried Alexander indignantly. "As if there were any
harm in telling a woman she is pretty!"

"You will probably have occasion to hear what the chief thinks of it
before long," retorted his brother. "There will be a complaint. It will
get to the palace, and the result will be that I shall be sent to
another post, with a black mark in the service. Do you call that a joke?
It is very well for you, a rich officer in the guards, taking a turn in
the East by way of recreation. You will go back to Petersburg and tell
the story and enjoy the laugh. I may be sent to China or Japan for three
or four years, in consequence."

"Bah!" ejaculated the soldier, sitting down on the divan. "I do not
believe it. You are an old woman. You are always afraid of injuring your
career."

"If it is to be injured at all, I prefer that it should be by my own
fault."

"What do you want me to do?" asked Alexander, rising once more. "I think
I will go back to the Valley of Roses, and see if I cannot find her
again." Suiting the action to the word, he moved towards the door. All
the willfulness of the angry Slav shone in his dark eyes, and he was
really capable of fulfilling his threat.

"If you try it," said Paul, touching an electric bell behind his chair,
"I will have you arrested. We are in Russia inside these gates, and
there are a couple of Cossacks outside. I am quite willing to assume the
responsibility."

Paul was certainly justified in taking active measures to coerce his
headstrong brother. The spoilt child of a brilliant society was not
accustomed to being thwarted in his caprices, and beneath his delicate
pale skin the angry blood boiled up to his face. He strode towards his
brother as though he would have struck him, but something in Paul's eyes
checked the intention. He held his heavy silver cigarette case in his
hand; turning on his heel with an oath, he dashed it angrily across the
room. It struck a small mirror that stood upon a table in the corner,
and broke it into shivers with a loud crash. At that moment the door
opened, and Paul's servant appeared in answer to the bell.

"A glass of water," said Paul calmly. The man glanced at Alexander's
angry face and at the broken looking-glass, and then retired.

"What do you mean by calling in your accursed servants when I am
angry?" cried the soldier. "You shall pay for this, Paul,--you shall pay
for it!" His soft voice rose to loud and harsh tones, as he impatiently
paced the room. "You shall pay for it!" he almost yelled, and then stood
still, suddenly, while Paul rose from his chair. The door was opened
again, but instead of the servant with the glass of water a tall and
military figure stood in the entrance. It was the ambassador himself. He
looked sternly from one brother to the other.

"Gentlemen," he said, "what is this quarrel? Lieutenant Patoff, I must
beg you to remember that you are my guest as well as your brother's, and
that the windows are open. Even the soldiers at the gates can hear your
cries. Be good enough either to cease quarreling, or to retire to some
place where you cannot be heard."

Without waiting for an answer, the old diplomat faced about and walked
away.

"That is the beginning," said Paul, in a low voice. "You see what you
are doing? You are ruining me,--and for what? Not even because you have
a caprice for a woman, but merely because I have warned you not to make
trouble."

Paul crossed the room and picked up the fallen cigarette case. Then he
handed it to his brother, with a conciliatory look.

"There,--smoke a cigarette and be quiet, like a good fellow," he said.

The servant entered with the glass of water, and put it down upon the
table. Glancing at the fragments of the mirror upon the floor, he looked
inquiringly at his master. Paul made a gesture signifying that he might
leave the room. The presence of the servant did not tend to pacify
Alexander, whose face was still flushed with anger, as he roughly took
the silver case and turned away with a furious glance. The servant had
noticed, in the course of three weeks, that the brothers were not
congenial to each other, but this was the first time he had witnessed a
violent quarrel between them. When he was gone Alexander turned again
and confronted Paul.

"You are insufferable," he said, in low tones.

"It is easy for you to escape my company," returned the other. "The
Varna boat leaves here to-morrow afternoon at three."

"Set your mind at rest," said Alexander, regaining some control of his
temper at the prospect of immediate departure. "I will leave to-morrow."

He went towards the door.

"Dinner is at seven," said Paul quietly. But his brother left the room
without noticing the remark, and, retiring to his room, he revenged
himself by writing a long letter to his mother, in which he explained at
length the violence and, as he described it, the "impossibility" of his
brother's character. He had all the pettiness of a bad child; he knew
that he was his mother's favorite, and he naturally went to her for
sympathy when he was angry with his brother, as he had done from his
infancy. Having so far vented his wrath, he closed his letter without
re-reading it, and delivered it to be posted before the clock struck
seven.

He found Paul waiting for him in the sitting-room, and was received by
him as though nothing had happened. Paul was indeed neither so forgiving
nor so long-suffering as he appeared. He cordially disliked his brother,
and was annoyed at his presence and outraged at his rashness. He felt
bitterly enough that Alexander had quartered himself in the little
pavilion for nearly a month without an invitation, and that, even
financially, the visit caused him inconvenience; but he felt still more
the danger to himself which lay in Alexander's folly, and he was not far
wrong when he said that the ambassador's rebuke was the beginning of
trouble. Accustomed to rely upon himself and his own wise conduct in the
pursuance of his career, he resented the injury done him by such
incidents as had taken place that afternoon. On the other hand, since
Alexander had expressed his determination to leave Buyukdere the next
day, he was determined that on his side the parting should be amicable.
He could control his mood so far as to be civil during dinner, and to
converse upon general topics. Alexander sat down to table in silence.
His face was pale again, and his eyes had regained that simple, trustful
look which was so much at variance with his character, and which, in the
opinion of his admirers, constituted one of his chief attractions. It is
unfortunate that, in general, the expression of the eyes should have
less importance than that of the other features, for it always seems
that by the eyes we should judge most justly. As a matter of fact, I
think that the passions leave no trace in them, although they express
the emotions of the moment clearly enough. The dark pupils may flash
with anger, contract with determination, expand with love or fear; but
so soon as the mind ceases to be under the momentary influence of any of
these, the pupil returns to its normal state, the iris takes its natural
color, and the eye, if seen through a hole in a screen, expresses
nothing. If we were in the habit of studying men's mouths rather than
their eyes, we should less often be deceived in the estimates we form of
their character. Alexander Patoff's eyes were like a child's when he was
peaceably inclined, like a wild-cat's when he was angry; but his
nervous, scornful lips were concealed by the carefully trained dark
brown mustache, and with them lay hidden the secret of his
ill-controlled, ill-balanced nature.

When dinner was finished, the servant announced that the steam launch
was at the pier, and that the embassy _kaváss_ was waiting outside to
conduct them to Santa Sophia. Alexander, who wanted diversion of some
kind during the evening, said he would go, and the two brothers left the
pavilion together.

The kaváss is a very important functionary in Constantinople, and,
though his office is lucrative, it is no sinecure. In former times the
appearance of Franks in the streets of Constantinople was very likely to
cause disturbance. Those were the great days of Turkey, when the Osmanli
was master of the East, and regarded himself as the master of the world.
A Frank--that is to say, a person from the west of Europe--was scarcely
safe out of Pera without an escort; and even at the present day most
people are advised not to venture into Stamboul without the attendance
of a native, unless willing to wear a fez instead of a hat. It became
necessary to furnish the embassies with some outward and visible means
of protection, and the kaváss was accordingly instituted. This man, who
was formerly always a Janizary, is at present a veteran soldier, and
therefore a Mussulman; for Christians rarely enter the army in
Constantinople, being permitted to buy themselves off. He is usually a
man remarkable for his trustworthy character, of fine presence, and
generally courageous. He wears a magnificent Turkish military dress,
very richly adorned with gold embroidery, girt with a splendid sash, in
which are thrust enough weapons to fill an armory,--knives, dirks,
pistols, and daggers,--while a huge scimiter hangs from his sword-belt.
When he is on active service, you will detect somewhere among his
trappings the brown leather case of a serviceable army revolver. The
reason of this outfit is a very simple one. The kaváss is answerable
with his head for those he protects,--neither more nor less. Whenever
the ambassador or the minister goes to the palace, or to Stamboul, or on
any expedition whatsoever, the kaváss follows him, frequently acting as
interpreter, and certainly never failing to impose respect upon the
populace. Moreover, when he is not needed by the head of the mission in
person, he is ready to accompany any member of the household when
necessary. A lady may cross Stamboul in safety with no other attendant,
for he is answerable for her with his life. Whether or not, in existing
circumstances, he would be put to death, in case his charge were killed
by a mob, is not easy to say; it is at least highly probable that he
would be executed within twenty-four hours.

It chanced, on the evening chosen by Paul and Alexander for their visit
to Santa Sophia, that no other members of the embassy accompanied them.
Some had seen the ceremony before, some intended to go the next day, and
some were too lazy to go at all. They followed the kaváss in silence
across the road, and went on board the beautiful steam launch which lay
alongside the quay. The night was exceedingly dark, for as the
appearance of the new moon terminates the month Ramazán, and as the
ceremonies take place only during the last week of the month, there can,
of course, be no moonlight. But a dark night is darker on the black
waters of the Bosphorus than anywhere else in the world; and the
darkness is not relieved by the illumination of the shores. On the
contrary, the countless twinkling points seem to make the shadow in
midstream deeper, and accidents are not unfrequent. In some places the
current is very rapid, and it is no easy matter to steer a steam launch
skillfully through it, without running over some belated fisherman or
some shadowy caïque, slowly making way against the stream in the dark.

The two brothers sat in the deep cane easy-chairs on the small raised
deck at the stern, the weather being too warm to admit of remaining in
the cushioned cabin. The sailors cast off the moorings, and the strong
little screw began to beat the water. In two minutes the launch was far
out in the darkness. The kaváss gave the order to the man at the wheel,
an experienced old pilot:--

"To the Vinegar Sellers' Landing."

The engine was put at full speed, and the launch rushed down stream
towards Constantinople. Paul and Alexander looked at the retreating
shore and at the lights of the embassy, fast growing dim in the
distance. Paul wished himself alone in his quiet pavilion, with a
cigarette and one of Gogol's novels. His brother, who was ashamed of
his violent temper and disgusted with his brother's coldness, wished
that he might never come back. Indeed, he was inclined to say so, and to
spend the night at a hotel in Pera; but he was ashamed of that too, now
that his anger had subsided, and he made up his mind to be morally
uncomfortable for at least twenty-four hours. For it is the nature of
violent people to be ashamed of themselves, and then to work themselves
into new fits of anger in order to escape their shame, a process which
may be exactly compared to the drunkard's glass of brandy in the
morning, and which generally leads to very much the same result.

But Paul said nothing, and so long as he was silent it was impossible to
quarrel with him. Alexander, therefore, stretched out his legs and
puffed at his cigarette, wondering whether he should ever see the lady
in the yashmak again, trying to imagine what her face could be like, but
never doubting that she was beautiful. He had been in love with many
faces. It was the first time he had ever fallen in love with a veil. The
sweet air of the Bosphorus blew in his face, the distant lights twinkled
and flashed past as the steam launch ran swiftly on, and Alexander dozed
in his chair, dreaming that the scented breeze had blown aside the folds
of the yashmak, and that he was gazing on the most beautiful face in the
world. That is one of the characteristics of the true Russian. The Slav
is easily roused to frenzied excitement, and he as easily falls back to
an indolent and luxurious repose. There is something poetic in his
temperament, but the extremes are too violent for all poetry. To be
easily sad and easily gay may belong to the temper of the poet, but to
be bloodthirsty and luxurious by turns savors of the barbarian.

Alexander was aroused by the lights of Stamboul and by the noise of the
large ferry-boats just making up to the wooden piers of Galata bridge,
or rushing away into the darkness amidst tremendous splashing of
paddles and blowing of steam whistles. A few minutes later the launch
ran alongside of the Vinegar Sellers' Landing on the Stamboul shore, and
the kaváss came aft to inform the brothers that the carriage was waiting
by the water-stairs.



II.


There is probably no nation in the world more attached to religion, both
in form and principle, than the Osmanli; and it is probably for this
reason that their public ceremonies bear a stamp of vigor and sincerity
rarely equaled in Christian countries. No one can witness the rites
practiced in the mosque of Agia Sophia without being profoundly
impressed with the power of the Mohammedan faith. The famous church of
Justinian is indeed in itself magnificent and awe-inspiring; the vast
dome is more effective than that of Saint Peter's, in proportion as the
masses which support it are smaller and less apparent; the double
stories of the nave are less burdened with detail and ornament, and are
therefore better calculated to convey an impression of size; the view
from the galleries is less obstructed in all directions, and there is
something startling in the enormous shields of green inscribed in gold
with the names of God, Mohammed, and the earliest khalifs. Everything in
the building produces a sensation of smallness in the beholder, almost
amounting to stupor. But the Agia Sophia seen by day, in the company of
a chattering Greek guide, is one thing; it is quite another when viewed
at night from the solitude of the vast galleries, during the religious
ceremonies of the last week in the month Ramazán.

Paul and Alexander Patoff were driven through dark streets to a narrow
lane, where the carriage stopped before a flight of broad steps which
suddenly descended into blackness. The kaváss was at the door, and
seemed anxious that they should be quick in their movements. He held a
small lantern in his hand, and, carrying it low down, showed them the
way. Entering a gloomy doorway, they were aware of a number of Turks,
clad mostly in white tunics, with white turbans, and congregated near
the heavy leathern curtain which separates this back entrance from the
portico. One of these men, a tall fellow with an ugly scowl, came
forward, holding a pair of keys in his hand, and after a moment's parley
with the kaváss unlocked a heavily ironed door, lighting a taper at the
lantern.

As they entered, both the brothers cast a glance at the knot of scowling
men, and Alexander felt in his pocket for his pistol. He had forgotten
it, and the discovery did not tend to make him feel more safe. Then he
smiled to himself, recognizing that it was but a passing feeling of
distrust which he experienced, and remembering how many thousands of
Franks must have passed through that very door to reach the winding
staircase. As for Paul, he had been there the previous year, and was
accustomed to the sour looks of Mussulmans when a Frank visitor enters
one of their mosques. He also went in, and the kaváss, who was the last
of the party, followed, pulling the door on its hinges behind him.
During several minutes they mounted the rough stone steps in silence, by
the dim light of the lantern and the taper. Then emerging into the
gallery through a narrow arch, a strange sound reached them, and
Alexander stood still for a moment.

Far down in the vast church an Imam was intoning a passage of the Koran
in a voice which hardly seemed human; indeed, such a sound is probably
not to be heard anywhere else in the world. The pitch was higher than
what is attainable by the highest men's voices elsewhere, and yet the
voice possessed the ringing, manly quality of the tenor, and its immense
volume never dwindled to the proportions of a soprano. The priest
recited and modulated in this extraordinary key, introducing all the
ornaments peculiar to the ancient Arabic chant with a facility which an
operatic singer might have envied. Then there was a moment's silence,
broken again almost immediately by a succession of heavy sounds which
can only be described as resembling rhythmical thunder, rising and
falling three times at equal intervals; another short but intense
silence, and again the voice burst out with the wild clang of a trumpet,
echoing and reverberating through the galleries and among the hundred
marble pillars of the vast temple.

The two brothers walked forward to the carved stone balustrade of the
high gallery, and gazed down from the height upon the scene below. The
multitude of worshipers surged like crested waves blown obliquely on a
shingly shore. For the apse of the Christian church is not built so
that, facing it, the true believer shall look towards Mecca, and the
Mussulmans have made their _mihrab_--their shrine--a little to the right
of what was once the altar, in the true direction of the sacred city.
The long lines of matting spread on the floor all lie evenly at an angle
with the axis of the nave, and when the mosque is full the whole
congregation, amounting to thousands of men, are drawn up like regiments
of soldiers in even ranks to face the mihrab, but not at right angles
with the nave. The effect is startling and strangely inharmonious, like
the studied distortions of some Japanese patterns, but yet fascinating
from its very contrariety to what the eye expects.

There they stand, the ranks of the faithful, as they have stood yearly
for centuries in the last week of Ramazán. As the trumpet notes of each
recited verse die away among the arches, every man raises his hands
above his head, then falls upon his knees, prostrates himself, and rises
again, renewing the act of homage three times with the precision of a
military evolution. At each prostration, performed exactly and
simultaneously by that countless multitude, the air is filled with the
tremendous roar of muffled rhythmical thunder, in which no voice is
heard, but only the motion of ten thousand human bodies, swaying,
bending, and kneeling in unison. Nor is the sound alone impressive. From
the vaulted roof, from the galleries, from the dome itself, are hung
hundreds of gigantic chandeliers, each having concentric rings of
lighted lamps, suspended a few feet above the heads of the worshipers.
Seen from the great height of the gallery, these thousands of lights do
not dazzle nor hide the multitude below, which seems too great to be
hidden, as the heavens are not hid by the stars; but the soft
illumination fills every corner and angle of the immense building, and,
lest any detail of the architecture and splendid music should escape the
light, rows of little lamps are kindled along the cornices of the
galleries and roof, filling up the interstices of darkness as a carver
burnishes the inner petals of the roses on a huge gilt frame of
exquisite design, in which not the smallest beauty of the workmanship
can be allowed to pass unnoticed.

This whole flood of glorious illumination descends then to the floor of
the nave, and envelops the ranks of white and green clothed men, who
rise and fall in long sloping lines, like a field of corn under the
slanting breeze. There is something mystic and awe-inspiring in the
sight, the sound, the whole condition, of this strange worship. A man
looks down upon the serried army of believers, closely packed, but not
crowded nor irregular, shoulder to shoulder, knee to knee, not one of
them standing a hair's breadth in front of his rank nor behind it,
moving all as one body, animated by one principle of harmonious motion,
elevated by one unquestioning faith in something divine,--a man looks
down upon this scene, and, whatever be his own belief, he cannot but
feel an unwonted thrill of admiration, a tremor of awe, a quiver of
dread, at the grand solemnity of this unanimous worship of the unseen.
And then, as the movement ceases, and the files of white turbans remain
motionless, the unearthly voice of the Imam rings out like a battle
signal from the lofty balcony of the _mastaba_,[1] awaking in the
fervent spirits of the believers the warlike memories of mighty
conquest. For the Osmanli is a warrior, and his nation is a warrior
tribe; his belief is too simple for civilization, his courage too blind
and devoted for the military operations of our times, his heart too
easily roused by the bloodthirsty instincts of the fanatic, and too
ready to bear the misfortunes of life with the grave indifference of the
fatalist. He lacks the balance of the faculties which is imposed upon
civilized man by a conscious distinction of the possible from the
impossible; he lacks the capacity for being contented with that state of
life in which he is placed. Instead of the quiet courage and
self-knowledge of a serviceable strength, he possesses the reckless and
all-destroying zeal of the frenzied iconoclast; in place of patience
under misfortune, in the hope of better times, he cultivates the
insensibility begotten of a belief in hopeless predestination,--instead
of strength he has fury, instead of patience, apathy. He is a strange
being, beyond our understanding, as he is too often beyond our sympathy.
It is only when we see him roused to the highest expression of his
religious fervor that we involuntarily feel that thrill of astonishment
and awe which in our hearts we know to be genuine admiration.

[Note 1: The tribune, or marble platform, from which the prayers are
read; not to be confounded with the _minber_, or pulpit, from which the
Khatib preaches on Fridays, with a drawn sword in his hand.]

Alexander Patoff stood by his brother's side, watching the ceremony with
intense interest. He hated the Turks and despised their faith, but what
he now saw appealed to the Orientalism of his nature. Himself capable of
the most distant extremes of feeling, sensitive, passionate, and
accustomed to delight in strong impressions, he could not fail to be
moved by the profound solemnity of the scene and by the indescribable
wildness of the Imam's chant. Paul, too, was silent, and, though far
less able to feel such emotions than his elder brother, the sight of
such unanimous and heart-felt devotion called up strange trains of
thought in his mind, and forced him to speculate upon the qualities and
the character which still survived in these hereditary enemies of his
nation. It was not possible, he said to himself, that such men could
ever be really conquered. They might be driven from the capital of the
East by overwhelming force, but they would soon rally in greater numbers
on the Asian shore. They might be crushed for a moment, but they could
never be kept under, nor really dominated. Their religion might be
oppressed and condemned by the oppressor, but it was of the sort to gain
new strength at every fresh persecution. To slay such men was to sow
dragon's teeth and to reap a harvest of still more furious fanatics,
who, in their turn being destroyed, would multiply as the heads of the
Hydra beneath the blows of Heracles. The even rise and fall of those
long lines of stalwart Mussulmans seemed like the irrepressible tide of
an ocean, which if restrained, would soon break every barrier raised to
obstruct it. Paul sickened at the thought that these men were bowing
themselves upon the pavement from which their forefathers had washed the
dust of Christian feet in the blood of twenty thousand Christians, and
the sullen longing for vengeance rankled in his heart. At that moment he
wished he were a soldier, like his brother; he wished he could feel a
soldier's pride in the strong fellowship of the ranks, and a soldier's
hope of retaliation. He almost shuddered when he reflected that he and
his brother stood alone, two hated Russians, with that mighty,
rhythmically surging mass of enemies below. The bravest man might feel
his nerves a little shaken in such a place, at such an hour. Paul leaned
his chin upon his hand, and gazed intently down into the body of the
church. The armed kaváss stood a few paces from him on his left, and
Alexander was leaning against a column on his right.

The kaváss was a good Mussulman, and regarded the ceremony not only with
interest, but with a devotion akin to that of those who took part in it.
He also looked fixedly down, turning his eyes to the mihrab, and
listening attentively to the chanting of the Imam, of whose Arabic
recitation, however, he could not understand any more than Paul
himself. For a long time no one of the three spoke, nor indeed noticed
his companions.

"Shall we go to the other side of the gallery?" asked Paul, presently,
in a low voice, but without looking round. Alexander did not answer, but
the kaváss moved, and uttered a low exclamation of surprise. Paul turned
his head to repeat his question, and saw that Alexander was no longer in
the place where he had been standing. He was nowhere to be seen.

"He is gone round the gallery alone," said Paul to the kaváss, and
leading the way he went to the end of the balcony, and turning in the
shadow looked down the long gallery which runs parallel with the nave.
Alexander was not in sight, and Paul, supposing him to be hidden behind
one of the heavy pillars which divided the balustrade into equal
portions, walked rapidly to the end. But his brother was not there.

"Bah!" Paul exclaimed to the kaváss, "he is on the other side." He
looked attentively at the opposite balconies, across the brilliantly
lighted church, but saw no one. He and the soldier retraced their steps,
and explored every corner of the galleries, without success. The kaváss
was pale to the lips.

"He is gone down alone," he muttered, hastening to the head of the
winding stair in the northwest corner of the dim gallery. He had left
his lantern by the door, but it was not there. Alexander must have taken
it with him. The Turk with the keys and the taper had long since gone
down, in expectation of some other Frank visitors, but as yet none had
appeared. Paul breathed hard, for he knew that a stranger could not with
safety descend alone, on such a night, to the vestibule of the mosque,
filled as it was with turbaned Mussulmans who had not found room in the
interior, and who were pursuing their devotions before the great open
doors. On the other hand, if Alexander had not entered the vestibule, he
must have gone out into the street, where he would not be much safer,
for his hat proclaimed him a Frank to every party of strolling Turks he
chanced to meet.

Paul lit a wax taper from his case, and, holding others in readiness,
began to follow the rugged descent, the kaváss close at his elbow. It
seemed interminable. At every deep embrasure Paul paused, searching the
recess by the flickering glare of the match, and then, finding nothing,
both men went on. At last they reached the bottom, and the heavy door
creaked as the kaváss pressed it back.

"You must stay here," he said, in his broken jargon. "Or, better still,
you should go outside with me and get into the carriage. I will come
back and search."

"No," said Paul. "I will go with you. I am not afraid of them."

"You cannot," answered the kaváss firmly. "I cannot protect you inside
the vestibule."

"I tell you I will go!" exclaimed Paul impatiently. "I do not expect you
to protect me. I will protect myself." But the kaváss would not yield so
easily. He was a powerful man, and stood calmly in the doorway. Paul
could not pass him without using violence.

"Effendim," said the man, speaking Turkish, which he knew that Paul
understood, "if I let you go in there, and anything happens to you, my
life is forfeited."

Paul hesitated. The man was in earnest, and they were losing time which
might be precious. It was clear that Alexander might already be in
trouble, and that the kaváss was the only person capable of imposing
respect upon the crowd.

"Go," said Paul. "I will wait by the carriage."

The kaváss opened the door, and both men went out into the dim entry.
Paul turned to the right and the soldier to the left, towards the heavy
curtain which closed the entrance of the vestibule. The knot of Turks
who had stood there when the Russians had arrived had disappeared, and
the place was silent and deserted, while from behind the curtain faint
echoes of the priest's high voice were audible, and at intervals the
distant thundering roll from the church told that the worshipers were
prostrating themselves in the intervals of the chanting. Paul retired up
the dark way, but paused at the deserted gate, unwilling to go so far as
the carriage, and thus lengthen the time before the kaváss could rejoin
him with his brother. He trembled lest Alexander should have given way
to some foolhardy impulse to enter the mosque in defiance of the
ceremony which was then proceeding, but it did not strike him that
anything very serious could have occurred, nor that the kaváss would
really have any great difficulty in finding him. Alexander would
probably escape with some rough treatment, which might not be altogether
unprofitable, provided he sustained no serious injury. It was indeed a
rash and foolish thing to go alone and unarmed among a crowd of fanatic
Mohammedans at their devotions; but, after all, civilization had
progressed in Turkey, and the intruder was no longer liable to be torn
in pieces by the mob. He would most likely be forcibly ejected from the
vestibule, and left to repent of his folly in peace.

All these reflections passed through Paul's mind, as he stood waiting in
the shadow of the gate at the back of the mosque; but the time began to
seem unreasonably long, and his doubts presently took the shape of
positive fears. Still the echoes came to his ears through the heavy
curtain, while from without the distant hum of the city, given up to
gayety after the day's long fast, mingled discordantly with the sounds
from within. He was aware that his heart was beating faster than usual,
and that he was beginning to suffer the excitement of fear. He tried to
reason with himself, saying that it was foolish to make so much of so
little; but in the arguments of reason against terror, the latter
generally gets the advantage and keeps it. Paul had a strong desire to
follow the kaváss into the vestibule, and to see for himself whether his
brother were there or not. He rarely carried weapons, as Alexander did,
but he trusted in his own strength to save him. He drew his watch from
his pocket, resolving to wait five minutes longer, and then, if the
kaváss did not return, to lift the curtain, come what might. He struck a
match, and looked at the dial. It was a quarter past ten o'clock. Then,
to occupy his mind, he began to try and count the three hundred seconds,
fancying that he could see a pendulum swinging before his eyes in the
dark. At twenty minutes past ten he would go in.

But he did not reach the end of his counting. The curtain suddenly moved
a little, allowing a ray of bright light to fall out into the darkness,
and in the momentary flash Paul saw the gorgeous uniform and
accoutrements of the embassy kaváss. He was alone, and Paul's heart
sank. He remembered very vividly the dark and scowling faces and the
fiery eyes of the turbaned men who had stood before the door an hour
earlier, and he began to fear some dreadful catastrophe. The kaváss came
quickly forward, and Paul stepped out of the shadow and confronted him.

"Well?"

"He has not been there," answered the soldier, in agitated tones. "I
went all through the crowd, and searched everywhere. I asked many
persons. They laughed at the idea of a Frank gentleman in a hat
appearing amongst them. He must have gone out into the street."

"We searched the gallery thoroughly, did we not?" asked Paul. "Are you
sure he could not have been hidden somewhere?"

"Perfectly, Effendim. He is not there."

"Then we must look for him in the streets," said Paul, growing very
pale. He turned to ascend the steps from the gate to the road.

"It is not my fault, Effendim," answered the soldier. "Did you not see
him leave the gallery?"

"It is nobody's fault but his own," returned Patoff. "I was looking down
at the people. He must have slipped away like a cat."

They reached the carriage, and Paul got inside. It was a landau, and the
kaváss and the coachman opened the front, so that Patoff might get a
better view of the streets. The kaváss mounted the box, and explained to
the coachman that they must search Stamboul as far as possible for the
lost Effendi. But the coachman turned sharply round on his seat and
spoke to Paul.

"The gentleman did not come out," he said emphatically. "I have been
watching for you ever since you went in. He is inside the Agia
Sophia--somewhere."

Paul was disconcerted. He had not thought of making inquiries of the
coachman, supposing that Alexander might easily have slipped past in the
darkness. But the man seemed very positive.

"Wait in the carriage, Effendim," said the kaváss, once more descending
from his seat. "If he is inside I will find him. I will search the
galleries again. He cannot have gone through the vestibule."

Before Paul could answer him the man had plunged once more down the
black steps, and the Russian was condemned a second time to a long
suspense, during which he was frequently tempted to leave the carriage
and explore the church for himself. He felt the cold perspiration on his
brow, and his hand trembled as he took out his watch again and again. It
was nearly a quarter of an hour before the kaváss returned. The man was
now very pale, and seemed as much distressed as Paul himself. He
silently shook his head, and, mounting to the box seat, ordered the
coachman to drive on.

The city was ablaze with lights. Every mosque was illuminated, and the
minarets, decked out with thousands of little lamps, looked like fiery
needles piercing the black bosom of the sky. The carriage drove from
place to place, passing where a crowd was gathered together, hastening
down dark and deserted streets, to emerge again upon some brilliantly
lighted square, thronged with men in fez and turban and with women
veiled in the eternal yashmak. More than once Paul started in his seat,
fancying that he could discover on the borders of the crowd the two
ladies, with their attendant, who had been the cause of the scuffle in
the Valley of Roses that afternoon. Again, he thought he could
distinguish his brother's features among the moving faces, but always
the sight of the dark red fez told him that he was wrong. He was driven
round Agia Sophia, beneath the splendid festoons of lamps, some hung so
as to form huge Arabic letters, some merely bound together in great
ropes of light; back towards the water and through the Atmaidam, the
ancient Hippodrome, down to the Serai point, then up to the Seraskierat,
where the glorious tower shot upwards like the pillar of flame that went
before the Israelites of old; on to the mosque of Suleiman, over whose
tomb the great dome burned like a fiery mountain, round once more to the
Atmaidam, past the tall trees amidst which blazed the six minarets of
Sultan Achmet; then, trying a new route, down by the bazaar gates to
Sultan Validé and the head of Galata bridge, and at last back again to
the Seraskierat, and, leaving the Dove Mosque of Bajazet on the right,
once more to the Vinegar Sellers' Landing, in the vain hope that
Alexander might have found his way down to the quay where the steam
launch was moored.

In vain did the terrified kaváss bid the coachman turn and turn again;
in vain did Paul, in agonized excitement, try to pierce the darkness
with his eyes, and to distinguish the well-known face in the throngs
that crowded the brightly lighted squares. At the end of two hours he
began to realize the hopelessness of the search. Suddenly it struck him
that Alexander might have found the bridge, and, recognizing it, might
have crossed to Pera rather than run the risk of losing himself in
Stamboul again.

"Tell the launch to be at Beschik Tasch to-morrow morning at ten
o'clock," said Paul. "Take me to Galata bridge. I will cross on foot to
Pera. Then go back and wait behind Agia Sophia, in case he comes that
way again to look for the carriage. If I find him in Pera, I will send a
messenger to tell you. If he does not come, meet me at Missiri's early
to-morrow morning."

"Pek eyi--very good," answered the kaváss, who understood the wisdom of
the plan. Again the carriage turned, and in five minutes Paul was
crossing Galata bridge, alone, on his way to Pera.

He was terribly agitated. Stories of the disappearance of foreigners in
the labyrinths of Stamboul rose to his mind, and though he had never
known of such a case in his own experience, he did not believe the thing
impossible. His brother was the rashest and most foolhardy of men,
capable of risking his life for a mere caprice, and perhaps the more
inclined to do so on that night because he had had a violent quarrel
with Paul that very afternoon, about his own foolish conduct. Of all
nights in the year, the last four or five of Ramazán are the most
dangerous to unprotected foreigners, and as he walked the spectacle of
the scowling Turks thrust itself once more before Paul's mental vision.
If Alexander had descended the steps, and had ventured, as well he
might, to push past those fellows into the vestibule of the mosque, it
must have gone hard with him. The fanatic worshipers of Allah were not
in a mood that night to bear with the capricious humors of a haughty
Frank; and though Alexander was active, strong, and brave, his strength
would avail him little against such odds. He would be overpowered,
stunned, and thrown out before he could utter a cry, and he might think
himself lucky if he escaped with one or two broken bones. But then,
again, if he had suffered such treatment, some one must have heard of
it, and Paul remembered the blank face and frightened look of the kaváss
when he returned the second time from his search. They had gone
carefully round the great building, and must have seen such an object as
the body of a man lying in the street. Perhaps Alexander had broken away
without injury, and fled out into the streets of Stamboul. If so, he
was in no common danger, for, utterly ignorant of the topography of the
great city, he might as easily have gone towards the Seven Towers or to
Aiwán Serai as to Galata bridge or Topkapussi, the Canon Gate at Serai
point. There was still one hope left. He might have reached Pera, and be
at that very moment refreshing himself with coffee and cigarettes at
Missiri's hotel.

Paul hastened his walk, and, reaching Galata, began at once to ascend
the steep street which further on is called the Grande Rue, but which of
all "great" streets least deserves the name. He then walked slowly,
scrutinizing every face he saw. But indeed there were few people about,
for Christian Pera does not fast in Ramazán, and consequently does not
spend the night in parading the streets. Nevertheless, Paul began a
systematic search, leaving no small café or eating-house unvisited,
rousing the sleepy porters of the inns with his inquiries, and finally
entering the hotel. It was now past midnight, but he would not give up
the quest. He caused all the guides to be collected from their obscure
habitations by messengers from the hotel, and representing to them the
urgency of the case, and giving them money in advance with the promise
of more to come, he dispatched them in all directions. Alexander had
been at the hotel very often during the last month, while visiting the
sights of the city, and most of these fellows knew him by sight. At all
events, it would be easy for them to recognize a well-dressed Frank
gentleman in trouble.

Patoff saw the last of them leave the hotel, and stood staring out upon
the Grande Rue de Pera, wondering what should be done next. The town
residence of the embassy was closed for the summer, and there were only
two or three sleepy servants in the place, who could be of no use. He
thought of getting a horse and riding rapidly back to Buyukdere, in
order to warn the ambassador of his brother's disappearance; but on
reflection it seemed that he would do better to stay where he was. The
short June night would soon be past, and by daylight he could at once
prosecute his search in Stamboul with safety and with far greater
probability of finding the lost man. He knew that the kaváss would
remain with the carriage all night behind Santa Sophia, and then at dawn
he should still find them there. Meanwhile, he took a _hamál_,--a
luggage porter from the hotel,--and, armed with a lantern and a stick,
began to beat the different quarters of Pera, judging that in the three
or four hours before daylight he could pass through most of the streets.

Hour after hour he trudged along, pale with fatigue and anxiety, his big
features hardening with despairing determination as he walked. He
searched every street and alley; he interviewed the Bekjees, who stamp
along the streets, pounding the pavement with their iron-shod clubs; he
tramped out to the Taksim, and down again to Galata tower, plunging into
the dark alleys about the Oriental Bank, skirting lower Pera to the
Austrian embassy, and climbing up the narrow path between tall houses,
till he was once more in the Grande Rue; crossing to the filthy quarters
of Kassim Paschá and emerging at the German Lutheran church, crossing,
recrossing, stumbling over gutters and up dirty back lanes, silent and
determined still, addressing only the sturdy Kurd by his side to ask if
there were any streets still unexplored, and entering every new by-path
with new hope. At last he found himself once more at Galata bridge, and
the light of the lantern began to pale before the grayness of the coming
morning. He paid the Kurdish porter a generous fee, and giving his tiny
coin to the tall keeper of the bridge, whose white garments looked
whiter in the dawn, he walked on until he was half way over the Golden
Horn.

Stepping aside on to the wooden pier where the great ferry-boats were
moored, he leaned upon the rail and looked out over the water,
momentarily exhausted and unable to go further. The tender light tinged
the southeastern sky, and the far mist of the horizon seemed already hot
with the rising day. On the lapping water of the Horn the light fell
like petals of roses tossed in a mantle of some soft dark fabric
interwoven with a silvery sheen. Far across the mouth of the Bosphorus
the minarets of Scutari came faintly into view, and on the Stamboul side
the few lingering lamps which had outlasted the darkness, upon the lofty
minarets, paled and lost their yellow color, and then ceased to shine,
outdone in their turn by the rosy morning light. A wonderful stillness
had fallen on the great city, as one by one the tired parties of friends
had gone to rest, to shorten the day of fasting by prolonging their
sleep till late in the hot afternoon. The clank of some capstan on one
of the ferry-boats struck loud and clear on the still air, as the
reluctant sailors and firemen prepared for their first run to the Black
Sea, or across to Kadi Köi on the Sea of Marmara. Paul turned and looked
towards the mighty dome of Santa Sophia, and his haggard face was almost
as pale as the white walls. He lingered still, and suddenly the sun
sprang up behind the Serai, and gilded the delicate spires, and caught
the gold of the crescents on the mosques, and shone full upon the broad
water. Paul followed the light as it touched one glorious building after
another, and his hand trembled convulsively on the railing. Somewhere in
that great awakening city--his brother was somewhere, alive or dead,
amongst those white walls and glittering crescents and towering
minarets--somewhere, and he must be found. Paul bent his head, and
turning away hurried across the bridge, and plunged once more into
Stamboul, alone as he had come.

The streets were deserted, and the early morning air was full of the
smell of thousands of extinguished oil lamps, that peculiar and
pervading odor which suggests past revelry, sleepless hours, and the
vanity of turning night into day. It oppressed Paul's overwrought
senses, as he passed the melancholy remains of the illumination before
the post-office and the Sultan Validé mosque, and he hurried on towards
the more secluded streets leading to Santa Sophia, in which the night's
gayety had left no perceptible signs. At last he came to the narrow lane
behind the huge pile, feeling that he had at last reached the end of his
five hours' tramp.

There stood the carriage, all dusty with the night's driving, looking
dilapidated and forlorn; the tired horses drooped their heads in the
flaccid and empty canvas nose-bags. The extinguished lamps were black
with the smoke from the last flare of their sputtering wicks. The
coachman lay inside, snoring,--a mere heap of cloth and brass buttons
surmounted by a shapeless fez. On the stone steps leading down to the
church sat the kaváss; his head had fallen on the low parapet behind
him, and his half-shaved scalp was bare. His face was deadly pale, and
his mouth was wide open as he slept, breathing heavily; his left hand
rested on the hilt of his scimiter; his right was extended, palm
upwards, on the stone step on which he sat, the very picture of
exhaustion.

At any other time Paul would have laughed at the scene. But he was very
far from mirth now, as he bent down and laid his hand upon the sleeping
kaváss's shoulder.



III.


At ten o'clock on that morning, Paul and the kaváss went on board the
steam launch at Beschik Tasch, the landing most convenient for persons
coming from the upper part of Pera. They had done everything possible,
and it was manifestly Paul's duty to inform his chief of the occurrences
of the night. The authorities had been put in possession of the details
of Alexander's disappearance, and the scanty machinery of the Stamboul
police had been set in motion; notice had been given at every hotel and
circulated to every place of resort, and it was impossible that if
Alexander showed himself in Pera he should escape observation, even if
he desired to do so. But Stamboul was not Pera, and as Paul gave the
order to steam to Buyukdere he resolutely turned his back on the eastern
shore of the Golden Horn, unable to bear the sight of the buildings so
intimately associated with his night's search. He was convinced that his
brother was in Stamboul, and he knew that the search in Pera was a mere
formality. He knew, also, that to find any one in Stamboul was only
possible provided the person were free, or at least able to give some
sign of his presence; and he began to believe that Alexander had fallen
a victim to some rash prank. He had, perhaps, repeated his folly of the
previous afternoon,--had wandered into the streets, had foolishly
ventured to look too closely at a pair of black eyes, and had been
spirited away by the prompt vengeance of the lady's attendants.

But Paul's speculations concerning the fate of his brother were just now
interrupted by the consideration of the difficulties which lay before
him. Cold and resolute by nature, he found himself in a position in
which any man's calmness would have been shaken. He knew that he must
tell his tale to his chief, and he knew that he was to blame for not
having watched Alexander more closely. It was improbable that any one
who had not been present could understand how, in the intense interest
caused by the ceremony, Paul could have overlooked his brother's
departure from the gallery. But not only had Paul failed to notice his
going; the kaváss had not observed the lost man's movements any more
than Paul himself. It was inconceivable to any one except Paul that
Alexander should have been capable of creeping past him and the soldier,
on tip-toe, purposely eluding observation; nevertheless, such an action
would not be unnatural to his character. He had perhaps conceived a
sudden desire to go down into the church and view the ceremony more
closely. He must have known that both his companions would forcibly
prevent him from such a course, and it was like him to escape them,
laughing to himself at their carelessness. The passion for adventure was
in his blood, and his training had not tended to cool it; fate had
thrown an attractive possibility into his way, and he had seized the
opportunity of doing something unusual, and annoying his more prudent
brother at the same time.

But though Paul understood this clearly enough, he felt that it would be
anything but easy to make it clear to his chief; and yet, if he did not
succeed in doing so, it would be hard for him to account for his
carelessness, and he might spend a very unpleasant season of waiting
until the missing man was found. In such a case as this, Paul was too
good a diplomatist not to tell the truth very exactly. Indeed, he was
always a truthful man, according to his lights; but had it been
necessary to shield his brother's reputation in any way, he would have
so arranged his story as not to tell any more of the truth than was
necessary. What had occurred was probably more to his own discredit than
to Alexander's, and Paul reflected that, on the other hand, there was
no need to inform the ambassador of the quarrel on the previous
afternoon, since the chief had overheard it, and had himself interposed
to produce quiet, if not peace. He resolved, therefore, to tell every
particular, from the moment of his arrival with Alexander at the Vinegar
Sellers' Landing to the time of his leaving Pera, that morning, on his
way back to Buyukdere.

There was some relief in having thus decided upon the course he should
follow; but the momentary satisfaction did not in the least lighten the
burden that weighed upon his heart. His anxiety was intense, and he
could not escape it, nor find any argument whereby to alleviate it. He
did not love his brother, or at least had never loved him before; but we
often find in life that a sudden fear for the safety of an individual,
for whom we believe we care nothing, brings out a latent affection which
we had not expected to feel. The bond of blood is a very strong one, and
asserts itself in extreme moments with an unsuspected tenacity which
works wonders, and which astonishes ourselves. The silken cord is
slender, but the hands must be strong that can break it. In spite of all
the misery his brother had caused him in boyhood, in spite of the
coolness which had existed between them in later years, in spite of the
humiliation he had so often suffered in seeing Alexander preferred
before him, yet at this moment, when, for a time, the only man who bore
his name had suddenly disappeared from the scene of life, Paul
discovered deep down in his heart a strange sympathy for the lost man.
He blamed himself bitterly for his carelessness, and, going back in his
memory, he recalled with sorrow the hard words which had passed between
them. He would have given much to be able to revoke the past and to
weave more affection into his remembrance of his brother; and at the
idea that he might perhaps never see him again, he turned pale, and
twisted his fingers uneasily in his agitation.

Meanwhile, the launch steamed bravely against the current, deftly
avoiding the swift eddies under the skillful hand of the pilot,
slackening her pace to let a big ferry-boat cross before her from Europe
to Asia, facing the fierce stream at Bala Hissar,--the devil's stream,
as the Turks call it,--and finally ploughing through the rushing waters
of Yeni Köj round the point where the Therapia pier juts out into the
placid bay of Buyukdere. Paul could see far down the pier the white
gates of the Russian embassy, and when, some ten minutes later, the
launch ran alongside the landing, he gathered his courage with all his
might, and stepped boldly ashore, and entered the grounds, the kaváss
following him with bent head and dejected looks.

His excellency the Russian ambassador was seated in his private study,
alternately sipping a cup of tea and puffing at a cigarette. The green
blinds were closed, and the air of the luxurious little apartment was
cool and refreshing. The diplomatist had very little to do, as no
business could be transacted until after the Bairam feast, which begins
with the new moon succeeding the month Ramazán; he sat late over his
tea, smoking and turning over a few letters, while he enjoyed the gentle
breeze which found its way into his room with the softened light. He was
a gray-headed man, but not old. His keen gray eyes seemed exceedingly
alive to every sight presented to them, and the lines on his face were
the expression of thought and power rather than of age. He was tall,
thin, and soldier-like, extremely courteous in manner and speech, but
grave and not inclined to mirth; he belonged to that class of active men
in whom the constant exercise of vitality and intelligence appears to
prolong life instead of exhausting its force, who possess a constitution
in which the body is governed by the mind, and who, being generally
little capable of enjoying the pleasure of the moment, find it easy to
devote their energies to the attainment of an object in the future.
Count Ananoff was the ideal diplomatist: cautious, far-sighted,
impenetrable, and exact, outwardly ceremonious and dignified, not too
skeptical of other men's qualities nor too confident of his own. His
convictions might be summed up, according to the old Russian joke, in
the one word Nabuchadnezar,--_Na Bogh ad ne Czar_,--"There is no God but
the Czar."

As Paul entered the ambassador's study, he was glad that he had always
been on good terms with his chief. Indeed, there was much sympathy
between them, and it might well have been predicted at that time that
Paul would some day become just such a man as he under whom he now
served. Convinced as he was that in his present career quite as much of
success depended upon the manner of carrying out a scheme as on the
scheme itself, Paul had long come to the conclusion that no manner could
possibly be so effective as that of Count Ananoff, and that in order to
cultivate it the utmost attention must be bestowed upon the study of his
chief's motives. Himself grave and cautious, he possessed the two main
elements noticeable in the character of his model, and to acquire the
rest could only be a matter of time. The ambassador noticed the ease
with which Paul comprehended his point of view, and fancied that he saw
in his secretary a desire to imitate himself, which of course was
flattering. The result was that a sincere good feeling existed between
the two, made up of a genuine admiration on the one side, and of
considerable self-satisfaction on the other. Patoff felt that the moment
had come when he must test the extent of the regard his chief felt for
him, and, considering the difficulty of his position and the personal
anxiety he felt for his brother, it is not surprising that he was
nervous and ill at ease.

"I have a painful story to tell, excellency," he said, standing before
the broad writing-desk at which the count was sitting. The latter looked
up from his tea.

"Be seated," he said gravely, but fixing a keen look on Paul's haggard
face.

"I will tell you everything, with all the details," said Patoff, sitting
down; and he forthwith began his story. The narrative was clear and
connected, and embraced the history of the night from the time when Paul
had left Buyukdere with his brother to the time of his return. Nothing
was omitted which he could remember, but when he had done he was
conscious that he had only told the tale of his long search for the
missing man. He had thrown no light upon the cause of the disappearance.
The ambassador looked very grave, and his thoughtful brows knit
themselves together, while he never took his eyes from Paul's face.

"It is very serious," he said at last. "Will you kindly explain to me,
if you can do so without indiscretion, the causes of the violent quarrel
which took place between you yesterday afternoon?"

Paul had foreseen the question, and proceeded to detail the occurrences
in the Valley of Roses, explaining the part he had played, and how he
had remonstrated with Alexander. The latter, he said, had lost his
temper, after they had got home.

"I would not tell that story to any one else," said Paul, in conclusion.
"It shows the disposition of my brother, and does him no credit. It was
a foolish escapade, but I should be sorry to have it known. I expected
that a complaint would have been lodged already."

"None has been made. Is the kaváss who went with you come back?"

"Yes."

"Do you think," said the count, looking quietly at Paul, "that he can
tell us anything you have forgotten?"

There was a peculiar emphasis upon the last words which did not escape
the secretary, though in that first moment he did not understand what
was meant.

"No," he answered, quite simply, returning his chief's look with perfect
calmness. "I do not believe he can tell anything more. I will call him."

"By all means. There is the bell," said the ambassador. Paul rang, and
sent the servant to call his kaváss, who had been waiting, and appeared
immediately, looking very ill and exhausted with the fatigue of the
night. He trembled visibly, as he stood before the table and made his
military salute, bringing his right hand quickly to his mouth, then to
his forehead, and letting it drop again to his side. Count Ananoff
cross-examined him with short, sharp questions. The man was very pale,
and stammered his replies, but the extraordinary accuracy with which he
recounted the details already given by Patoff did not escape the
diplomatist.

"Have you anything more to tell?" asked the ambassador, at last.

"It was not my fault, Effendim," said the kaváss, in great agitation.
"Paul Effendi and I were looking at the people, and when we turned
Alexander Effendi was gone, and we could not find him. I had warned him
beforehand not to separate himself from us"----

"Do you think he can be found?" inquired Ananoff, cutting short the
man's repetitions.

"Surely, the Effendi can be found," returned the kaváss. "But it may
take time."

"Why should it take time? Unless he is injured or imprisoned somewhere,
he ought to find his way to Pera to-day."

"Effendim, he may have strayed into the dark streets. If the _bekji_
found him without a lantern, he would be arrested, according to the
law."

"He had our lantern," said Paul. "We could not find it."

"That is true," answered the kaváss, in dejected tones. "There is the
Persian ambassador, Effendim," he said, with a sudden revival of hope.

"What can he do?" asked the count.

"He is lord over all the donkey-drivers in Stamboul, Effendim. The
Sultan allows him to exact tribute of them, which is the most part of
his fortune.[2] Perhaps if he gave orders that they should all be
beaten unless they found Alexander Effendi, they would find him. They go
everywhere and see everybody."

[Note 2: Fact.]

"That is an idea," said the ambassador, hardly able to repress a grim
smile. "I will send word to his excellency at once. I have no doubt but
that he will do it."

"But it was not my fault"--began the kaváss again.

"I am not sure of that," answered the diplomatist. "If you find him, you
will be excused."

"I think the man is not to be blamed," remarked Paul, who had not
forgotten the anxiety the kaváss had shown in trying to find Alexander.
"It is my belief that my brother's disappearance did not occur in any
ordinary way."

"I think so, too," replied the count. "You may go," he said to the
soldier, who at once left the room. A short silence followed his
departure.

"Monsieur Patoff," resumed the elder man presently, "you are in a very
dangerous and distressing position."

"Distressing," said Paul. "Not dangerous, so far as I can see."

"Let us be frank," answered the other. "Alexander Patoff is your elder
brother. You feel that he had too large a share of your father's
fortune. You have never liked him. He came here without an invitation,
and made himself very disagreeable to you. You had a violent quarrel
yesterday afternoon, and you were justly provoked,--quite justly, I have
no doubt. You go to Stamboul at night with only one man to attend you.
You come back without your rich, overbearing, intolerable brother. What
will the world say to all that?"

In spite of his pallor, the blood rushed violently to Paul's face, and
he sprang from his chair in the wildest excitement.

"You have no right--you do not mean to say it--Great God! How can you
think of such a"----

"I do not think it," said the ambassador, seizing him by the arm and
trying to calm him. "I do not think anything of the kind. Command
yourself, and be a man. Sit down,--there, be reasonable. I only mean to
put you in your right position."

"You will drive me mad," answered Paul in low tones, sinking into the
chair again.

"Now listen to me," continued the count, "and understand that you are
listening to your best friend. The world will not fail to say that you
have spirited away your brother,--got rid of him, in short, for your own
ends. There is no one but a Turkish soldier to prove the contrary. No,
do not excite yourself again. I am telling you the truth. I know
perfectly well that Alexander has lost himself by his own folly, but I
must foresee what other people will say, in case he is not found"----

"But he must be found!" interrupted Paul. "I say he shall be found!"

"Yes, so do I. But there is just a possibility that he may not be found.
Meanwhile, the alarm is given. The story will be in every one's mouth
to-night, and to-morrow you will be assailed with all manner of
questions. My dear Patoff, if Alexander does not turn up in a few days,
you had better go away, until the whole matter has blown over. You can
safely leave your reputation in my hands, as well as the care of finding
your brother, if he can be found at all, and you will be spared much
that is painful and embarrassing. I will arrange that you may be
transferred for a year to some distant post, and when the mystery is
cleared up you can come back and brave your accusers."

"But," said Paul, who had grown pale again, "it seems to me impossible
that I could be accused of murdering my brother on such slender grounds,
even if the worst were to happen and he were never found. It is an awful
imputation to put upon a man. I do not see how any one would dare to
suggest such a thing."

"In the first place," answered the ambassador, arguing the point as he
would have discussed the framing of a dispatch, "the Turks are very
cunning, and they hate us. They will begin by saying that you had an
interest in disposing of Alexander. They will search out the whole
story, and will assert the fact because they will be safe in saying that
there is no evidence to the contrary. They will take care that the
suggestion shall reach our ears, and that it shall spread throughout our
little society. What can you answer to the question, 'Where is your
brother?' If people do not ask it, they will let you know that it is in
their hearts."

"I do not know," said Paul, stunned by the possible truth of his chief's
argument.

"Exactly. You do not know, nor I either. But if you stay here, you will
have to fight for your own reputation. If you are absent, I can put down
such scandal by my authority, and it will soon be forgotten. I do not
believe that this disappearance can remain a secret forever. At present,
and for some time to come, it is only a disappearance, and it will be
expected that your brother may yet come back. But when months are
past,--should such a catastrophe occur,--people will find another word,
and the murder of Alexander Patoff will be the common topic of
conversation."

"It is awful to think of," murmured Paul. "But why do you suppose that
he will not come back? He may have got into some scrape, and he may
appear this evening. There is hope yet and for days to come."

"I am sorry to say I do not believe it," answered the count. "There have
been several disappearances of insignificant individuals since I have
been here. No pains were spared to find them, but no one ever obtained
the smallest trace of their fate. They were probably murdered for the
small sums of money they carried. Of course there is possibility, but I
think there is very little hope."

"But I cannot bear to think that poor Alexander should have come to
such an end," cried Paul. "I could not go away feeling that I had left
anything untried in searching for him. I never loved him, God forgive
me! But he was my brother, and my mother's favorite son. He was with me,
and by my carelessness he lost himself. Who is to tell her that? No, I
cannot go until I know what has become of him."

"My friend," said old Ananoff gently, "you have all my sympathy, and you
shall have all my help. I will myself write to your mother, if Alexander
does not return in a week. But if in a month he is not heard of, there
will be no hope at all. Then you must go away, and I will shut the
mouths of the gossips. Now go and rest, for you are exhausted. Be quite
sure that between the measures you have taken yourself and those which I
shall take, everything possible will be done."

Paul rose unsteadily to his feet, and took the count's hand. Then,
without a word, he went to his pavilion, and gave himself up to his own
agonizing thoughts.

The ambassador lost no time, for he felt how serious the case was. In
spite of the heat, he proceeded to Stamboul at once, visited Santa
Sophia, and explored every foot of the gallery whence Alexander had
disappeared, but without discovering any trace. He asked questions of
the warden of the church, the scowling Turk who had admitted the
brothers on the previous night; but the man only answered that Allah was
great, and that he knew nothing of the circumstances, having left the
two gentlemen in charge of their kaváss. Then the count went to the
house of the Persian ambassador, and obtained his promise to aid in the
search by means of his army of donkey-drivers. He went in person to the
Ottoman Bank, to the chief of police, to every office through which he
could hope for any information. Returning to Buyukdere, he sent notes to
all his colleagues, informing them of what had occurred, and requesting
their assistance in searching for the lost man. At last he felt that he
had done everything in his power, and he desisted from his labors. But,
as he had said, he had small expectation of ever hearing again from
Lieutenant Alexander Patoff, and he meditated upon the letter he had
promised to write to the missing man's mother. He was shocked at the
accident, and he felt a real sympathy for Paul, besides the
responsibility for the safety of Russian subjects in Turkey, which in
some measure rested with him.

As for Paul, he paced his room for an hour after he had left his chief,
and then at last he fell upon the divan, faint with bodily fatigue and
exhausted by mental anxiety. He slept a troubled sleep for some hours,
and did not leave his apartments again that day.

The view of the situation presented to him by Count Ananoff had stunned
him almost beyond the power of thought, and when he tried to think his
reflections only confirmed his fears. He saw himself branded as a
murderer, though the deed could not be proved, and he knew how such an
accusation, once put upon a man, will cling to him in spite of the lack
of evidence. He realized with awful force the meaning of the question,
"Where is your brother?" and he understood how easily such a question
would suggest itself to the minds of those who knew his position. That
question which was put to the first murderer, and which will be put to
the last, has been asked many times of innocent men, and the mere fact
that they could find no ready answer has sufficed to send them to their
death. Why should it not be the same with him? Until he could show them
his brother, they would have a right to ask, and they would ask,
rejoicing in the pain inflicted. Paul cursed the day when Alexander had
come to visit him, and he had received him with a show of satisfaction.
Had he been more honest in showing his dislike, the poor fellow would
perhaps have gone angrily away, but he would not have been lost in the
night in the labyrinths of Stamboul. And then again Paul repented
bitterly of the hard words he had spoken, and, working himself into a
fever of unreasonable remorse, walked the floor of his room as a wild
beast tramps in its cage.

The night was interminable, though there were only six hours of
darkness; but when the morning rose the light was more intolerable
still, and Paul felt as though he must go mad from inaction. He dressed
hastily, and went out into the cool dawn to wait for the first boat to
Pera. Even the early shadows on the water reminded him of yesterday,
when he had crossed Galata bridge on foot, still feeling some hope. He
closed his eyes as he leaned upon the rail of the landing, wishing that
the sun would rise and dispel at least some portion of his sorrow.

He reached Pera, and spent the whole day in fruitless inquiries. In the
evening he returned, and the next morning he went back again; sleeping
little, hardly eating at all, speaking to no one he knew, and growing
hourly more thin and haggard, till the Cossacks at the gate hardly
recognized him. But day after day he searched, and all the countless
messengers, officials, guides, porters, and people of every class
searched, too, attracted by the large reward which the ambassador
offered for any information concerning Alexander Patoff. But not the
slightest clue could be obtained. Alexander Patoff had disappeared
hopelessly and completely, and had left no more trace than if he had
been thrown into the Bosphorus, with a couple of round shot at his neck.
The days lengthened into weeks, and the weeks became a month, and still
Paul hoped against all possibility of hope, and wearied the officials of
every class with his perpetual inquiries.

Count Ananoff had long since communicated the news of Alexander's
disappearance to the authorities in St. Petersburg, thinking it barely
possible that he might have gone home secretly, out of anger against his
brother. But the only answer was an instruction to leave nothing untried
in attempting to find the lost man, provided that no harm should be
done to the progress of certain diplomatic negotiations then proceeding.
As the count had foreseen, the Turkish authorities, while exhibiting
considerable alacrity in the prosecution of the search, vaguely hinted
that Paul Patoff himself was the only person able to give a satisfactory
explanation of the case; and in due time these hints found their way
into the gossip of the Bosphorus tea-parties. Paul was not unpopular,
but in spite of his studied ease in conversation there was a reserve in
his manner which many persons foolishly resented; and they were not slow
to find out that his brother's disappearance was very odd,--so strange,
they said, that it seemed impossible that Paul should know nothing of
it. The ambassador thought it was time to speak to him on the subject.
Moreover, in his present state of excitement Paul was utterly useless in
the embassy, and the work which had accumulated during the month of
Ramazán was now unusually heavy. Count Ananoff had arranged this matter,
without speaking of it to any one, a fortnight after Alexander's
disappearance, and now a secretary who had been in Athens had arrived,
ostensibly on a visit to the ambassador. But Ananoff had Paul's
appointment to Teheran in his pocket, with the permission to take a
month's leave for procuring his outfit for Persia.

The explanation was inevitable. It was impossible that things should go
on any longer as they had proceeded during the last fortnight; and now
that there was really no hope whatever, and people were beginning to
talk as they had not talked before, the best thing to be done was to
send Paul away. Count Ananoff came to his rooms one morning, and found
him staring at the wall, his untasted breakfast on the table beside him,
his face very thin and drawn, looking altogether like a man in a severe
illness. The ambassador explained the reason of his visit, reminded him
of what had been said at their first interview, and entreated him to
spend his month's leave in regaining some of his former calmness.

"Go to the Crimea, or to Tiflis," he said. "You will not be far from
your way. I will write to Madame Patoff."

"You are kind,--too kind," answered Paul. "Thank you, but I will go to
my mother myself. I will be back in time," he added bitterly. "She will
not care to keep me, now that poor Alexander is gone. Yes, I know; you
need not tell me. There is no hope left. We shall not even find his body
now. But I must tell my mother. I have already written, for I thought it
better. I told her the story, just as it all happened. She has never
answered my letter. I fancy she must have had news from some one else,
or perhaps she is ill."

"Do not go," said his chief, looking sorrowfully at Paul's white face
and wasted, nervous hands. "You are not able to bear the strain of such
a meeting. I will write to her, and explain."

"No," answered Paul firmly. "I must go myself. There is no help for it.
May I leave to-day? I think there is a boat to Varna. As for my
strength, I am as strong as ever, though I am a little thinner than I
was."

The old diplomatist shook his head gravely, but he knew that it was of
no use to try and prevent Paul from undertaking the journey. After all,
if he could bear it, it was the most manly course. He had done his best,
had labored in the search as no one else could have labored, and if he
were strong enough he was entitled to tell his own tale.

The two men parted affectionately that day, and when Paul was fairly on
board the Varna boat Count Ananoff owned to himself that he had lost one
of the best secretaries he had ever known.



IV.


Three days later Paul descended from the train which runs twice a day
from Pforzheim to Constance, at a station in the heart of the Swabian
Black Forest. The name painted in black Gothic letters over the neat,
cottage-like building before which the train stopped was _Teinach_. Paul
had never heard of the place until his mother had telegraphed that she
was there, and he looked about him with curiosity, while a dark youth,
in leather breeches, rough stockings, and a blouse, possessed himself of
the traveler's slender luggage, and began to lead the way to the hotel.

It was late in the afternoon, and the sinking sun had almost touched the
top of the hill. On all sides but one the pines and firs presented a
black, absorbing surface to the light, while at the upper end of the
valley the ancient and ruined castle of Zavelstein caught the sun's
rays, and stood clearly out against the dark background. It is
impossible to imagine anything more monotonous in color than this
boundless forest of greenish-black trees, and it is perhaps for this
reason that the ruins of the many old fortresses, which once commanded
every eminence from Weissenstein to the Boden-See, are seen to such
singular advantage. The sober gray or brown masonry, which anywhere else
would offer but a neutral tint in the landscape, here constitutes high
lights as compared with the impenetrable shadows of the woods; and even
the sky above, generally seen through the thick masses of evergreen,
seems to be of a more sombre blue. In the deep gorges the black water of
the Nagold foams and tumbles among the hollow rocks, or glides smoothly
over the long and shallow races by which the jointed timber rafts are
shot down to the Neckar, and thence to the Rhine and the ocean, many
hundreds of miles away. For the chief wealth of Swabia and of the
kingdom of Würtemberg lies in the splendid timber of the forest, which
is carefully preserved, and in which no tree is felled without the order
of the royal foresters. Indeed, Nature herself does most of the felling,
for in winter fierce wind-storms gather and spread themselves in the
winding valleys, tearing down acres of trees upon the hill-sides in
broad, straight bands, and leaving them there, uprooted and fallen over
each other in every direction, like a box of wooden matches carelessly
emptied upon a dark green table. Then come the wood-cutters in the
spring, and lop off the branches, and roll the great logs down to the
torrent below, and float them away in long flexible rafts, which spin
down the smooth water-ways at a giddy speed, or float silently along the
broad, still reaches of the widening river, or dash over the dangerous
rapids, skillfully guided by the wild raftsmen, bare-legged and armed
with long poles, whose practiced feet support them as safely on the
slippery, rolling timber as ours would carry us on the smoothest
pavement.

At Teinach the valley is wider than in other places, and a huge
establishment, built over the wonderful iron springs, rears above the
tops of the trees its walls of mingled stone, wood and stucco, gayly
painted and ornamented with balconies and pavilions, in startling and
unpleasant contrast with the sober darkness of the surroundings. The
broad post-road runs past the hotels and bath-houses, and a great
garden, or rather an esplanade with a few scattered beds of flowers, has
been cleared and smoothed for the benefit of the visitors, who take
their gentle exercise in the wide walks, or sip their weak German
coffee, to the accompaniment of a small band, at the wooden tables set
up under the few remaining trees. The place is little known, either to
tourists or invalids, beyond the limits of the kingdom of Würtemberg,
but its waters are full of healing properties, and the seclusion of the
little village amidst the wild scenery of the Black Forest is refreshing
to soul and body.

Paul followed his guide along the winding path which leads from the
railway station to the hotel, smelling with delight the aromatic odor of
the pines, and enjoying the coolness of the evening air. The fatigues of
the last month and of the rapid journey from Varna had told upon his
strength, as the fearful anxiety he had endured had wearied his brain.
He felt, as he walked, how delicious it would be to forget all the past,
to shoulder a broad axe, and to plunge forever into the silent forest;
to lead the life of one of those rude woodmen, without a thought at
night save of the trees to be felled to-morrow; to rise in the morning
with no care save to accomplish the daily task before night; to sleep in
summer on the carpet of sweet pine needles, and to watch the stars peep
through the lofty branches of the ancient trees; in winter to lie by the
warm fire of some mountain hut, with no disturbing dreams or nervous
wakings, master of himself, his axe, and his freedom.

But the thought of such peace only made the present moment more painful,
and Paul bent his head as though to shut out all pleasant thoughts, till
presently he reached the wide porch of the hotel, and, summoning his
courage, asked for Madame Patoff.

"Number seventeen," said the Swiss clerk, laconically, to the waiter who
stood at hand, by way of intimating that he should conduct the gentleman
to the number he had mentioned. As Paul turned to follow the functionary
in the white tie and the shabby dress-coat, he was stopped by a
thick-set, broad-shouldered man, with gold-rimmed spectacles and a bushy
beard, who addressed him in English:--

"I beg your pardon, I heard you ask for Madame Patoff. Have I the honor
of addressing her son?"

"Yes," said Paul, bowing stiffly, for the man was evidently a gentleman.
"May I ask to whom"----

"I am Dr. Cutter," replied the other, interrupting him. "Madame Patoff
is ill, and I am taking care of her."

The average doctor would have said, "I am attending her," and Paul,
whose English mother had brought him up to speak English as fluently and
correctly as Russian, noticed the shade in the expression. But he was
startled by the news of his mother's illness, and did not stop to think
of such a trifle.

"What is the matter with her?" he asked briefly, turning from the desk
of the hotel office, and walking across the vestibule by Dr. Cutter's
side.

"I don't know," replied the doctor, quietly.

"You are a strange physician, sir," said Paul sternly. "You tell me that
you are attending my mother, and yet you do not know what is the matter
with her."

The doctor was not in the least offended by Paul's sharp answer. He
smiled a little, but instantly became grave again, as he answered,--

"I am not a practicing physician. I am a specialist, and I devote my
life to the study of mental complaints. Your mother is ill in mind, not
in body."

"Mad!" exclaimed Paul, turning very pale. His life seemed to be nothing
but a series of misfortunes.

"Certainly not hopelessly insane," replied Dr. Cutter, in a musing tone.
"She has suffered a terrible shock, as you may imagine."

"Yes," said Paul, "of course. That is the reason why I have come all the
way from Constantinople to see her. I could not go to my new post
without telling her the whole story myself."

"Her manner is very strange," returned the other. "That is the reason
why I waited for you here. I could not have allowed you to see her
without being warned. She has a strange delusion, and you ought to know
it."

"What is it?" asked Paul, in a thick voice.

"It is a very delicate matter. Come out into the garden, and I will tell
you what I know."

The two men went out together, and walked slowly along the open path
towards the woods. In the distance a few invalids moved painfully about
the garden, or rested on the benches beneath the trees. Far off a party
of children were playing and laughing merrily at their games.

"It is a delicate matter," repeated Dr. Cutter. "In the first place, I
must explain my own position here. I am an Englishman, devoted to
scientific pursuits. Originally a physician, subsequently professor in
one of our universities, I have given up both practice and professorship
in order to be at liberty to follow my studies. I am often abroad, and I
generally spend the summer in Switzerland or somewhere in South Germany.
I was at Rugby with Madame Patoff's brother-in-law, John Carvel, whom I
dare say you know, and I met Madame Patoff two years ago at Wiesbaden. I
met her there again, last year, and this summer, as I was coming to the
South, I found her in the same place,--little more than a month ago. In
both the former years your brother Alexander came to visit her, on leave
from St. Petersburg. I knew him, therefore, and was aware of her deep
affection for him. This time I found her very much depressed in spirits
because he had resolved to join you in Constantinople. Excuse me if I
pain you by referring to him. It is unavoidable. One morning she told me
that she had made up her mind to go to Turkey, traveling by easy stages
through Switzerland to Italy, and thence by steamer to the East. She
dreaded the long railway journey through Austria, and preferred the sea.
She was in bad health, and seemed very melancholy, and I proposed to
accompany her as far as the Italian frontier. We went to Lucerne, and
thence to Como, where I intended to leave her. She chose to wait there a
few days, in order to have her letters sent on to her before going to
the East. Among those which came was a long letter from you, in which
you told in detail the story of your brother's disappearance. Your
mother was alone in her sitting-room when she received it, but the
effect of the news was such that her maid found her lying insensible in
her chair some time afterwards, and thought it best to call me. I easily
revived her from the fit of fainting, and when she came to herself she
thrust your letter into my hand, and insisted that I should read it. She
was very hysterical, and I judged that I should comply with her request.
The scene which followed was very painful."

"Well?" asked Paul, who was visibly agitated. "What then?" he inquired
rather sharply, seeing that Dr. Cutter was silent.

"To be short about it," said the professor, "it has been evident to me
from that moment that her mind is deranged. No argument can affect the
distorted view she takes."

"But what is the view? What does she think?" inquired Paul, trembling
with excitement.

"She thinks that you were the cause of your brother's death," answered
Cutter shortly.

"That I murdered him?" cried Paul, feeling that his worst fears were
realized.

"Poor lady!" exclaimed the professor, fixing his gray eyes on Paul's
face. "It is of no use to go over the story. That is what she thinks."

Paul turned from his companion, and leaned against a tree for support.
He was utterly overcome, and unmanned for the moment. Cutter stood
beside him, fearing lest he might fall, for he could see that he was
wasted with anxiety and weak with fatigue. But he possessed great
strength of will and that command of himself which is acquired by living
much among strangers. After a few seconds he stood erect, and, making a
great effort, continued to walk upon the road, steadying himself with
his stick.

"Go on, please," he said. "How did you come here?"

"You will understand that I could not leave Madame Patoff at such a
time," continued the professor, inwardly admiring the strength of his
new acquaintance. "She insisted upon returning northwards, saying that
she would go to her relations in England. Fearing lest her mind should
become more deranged, I suggested traveling slowly by an unfrequented
route. I intended to take her to England by short stages, endeavoring to
avoid all places where she might, at this season, have met any of her
numerous acquaintances. I chose to cross the Splügen Pass to the Lake of
Constance. Thence we came here by the Nagold railway. I propose to take
her to the Rhine, where we will take the Rhine boat to Rotterdam. Nobody
travels by the Rhine nowadays. You got my telegram at Vienna? Yes. Yours
went to Wiesbaden, was telegraphed to Como, and thence here. I had just
time to send an answer directed to you at Vienna, as a passenger by the
Oriental Express, giving you the name of this place. I signed it with
your mother's name."

"She does not know I have left Constantinople, then?"

"No. I feared that the news would have a bad effect. She receives her
letters, of course, but telegrams often do harm to people in her
state,--so I naturally opened yours."

"Is she perfectly sane in all other respects?" asked Paul, speaking with
an effort.

"Perfectly."

"Then she is not insane at all," said Paul, in a tone of conviction.

"I do not understand you," answered the professor, staring at him in
some surprise.

"If you knew how she loved my poor brother, and how little she loves me,
you would understand better. Without being insane, she might well
believe that I had let him lose himself in Stamboul, or even that I had
killed him. You read my letter,--you can remember how strange a story it
was. There is nothing but the evidence of a Turkish soldier to show that
I did not contribute to Alexander's disappearance."

"It was certainly a very queer story," said the professor gravely.
"Nevertheless, I am of opinion that Madame Patoff is under the
influence of a delusion. I cannot think that if she were in her right
mind she would insist as she does, and with such violence, that you are
guilty of making away with your brother."

"I must see her," said Paul firmly. "I have come from Constantinople to
see her, and I cannot go back disappointed."

"I think it would be a great mistake for you to seek an interview,"
answered the professor, no less decidedly. "It might bring on a fit of
anger."

"Which might be fatal?" inquired Paul.

"No, but which might affect her brain."

"I do not think so. Pardon my contradicting you, professor, but I have a
very strong impression that my mother is not in the least insane, and
that I may succeed in bringing her to look at this dreadful business in
its true light."

"I fear not," answered Dr. Cutter sadly.

"But you do not know," insisted Paul. "Unless you are perfectly sure
that my mother is really mad, you can have no right to prevent my seeing
her. I may possibly persuade her. I am the only one left," he added
bitterly, "and I must be a son to her in fact as well as in relation. I
cannot, for my own sake, let her go to our English relatives, with this
story to tell, without at least contradicting it."

"It is of no use to contradict it to her."

"Of no use!" exclaimed Paul, impatiently. "Do you think that if the
slightest suspicion, however unfounded, had rested on me, my chief would
have allowed me to leave Constantinople without clearing it up? I should
think that anybody in his senses would see that!"

"Yes,--anybody in his or her senses," answered the professor coldly.

Paul stopped in his walk, and faced the strong man with the gold
spectacles and the intelligent features who had thus obstinately thrust
himself in his path.

"Sir," he said, "I know you very slightly, and I do not want to insult
you. But if you continue to oppose me, I shall begin to think that you
have some other object in view besides a concern for my mother's
health." His drawn and haggard features wore an expression of desperate
determination as he spoke, and his cold blue eyes began to brighten
dangerously.

"I have nothing more to say," replied the scientist, meeting his look
with perfect steadiness. "I admit the justice of your argument. I can
only implore you to take my advice, and to reflect on what you are
doing. I have no moral right to oppose you."

"No," said Paul, "and you must not prevent this meeting. I wish to see
her only once. Then I will go. I need not tell you that I am deeply
indebted to you for the assistance you have rendered to my mother in
this affair. If she does not believe my story, she will certainly not
tolerate my presence, and I venture to hope that you will see her safely
to England. If possible, I should like to meet her to-night."

"You shall," replied the professor. "But if any harm comes of it,
remember that I protested against the meeting. That is all I ask."

"I will remember," answered Paul quietly. Both men turned in their walk,
and went back towards the hotel.

"You must give me time to warn her of your presence," said Cutter, as
they reached the steps.

Paul nodded, and they both went in. Cutter disappeared up-stairs, and
Patoff was shown to his room by a servant.

"I shall probably leave to-morrow morning," he remarked, as the man
deposited his effects in the corner, and looked round, waiting for
orders. Paul threw himself on the bed, closing his eyes, and trying to
collect his courage and his senses for this meeting, which had turned
out so much more difficult than he had expected. Nevertheless, he was
glad that Cutter had met him, and had warned him of the state of his
mother's mind. He did not in the least believe her insane,--he almost
wished that he could. Lying there on his bed, he remembered his youth,
and the time when he had longed for some little portion of the affection
lavished on his elder brother. He remembered how often he had in vain
looked to his mother for a smile of approbation, and how he had ever
been disappointed. He had grown up feeling that, by some fault not his
own, he was disliked and despised, a victim to one of those unreasoning
antipathies which parents sometimes feel for one of their children. He
remembered how he had choked down his anger, swallowed his tears, and
affected indifference to censure, until his child's heart had grown
case-hardened and steely; asking nothing, doing his tasks for his own
satisfaction, and finally taking a sad pleasure in that silence which
was so frequently imposed upon him. Then he had grown up, and the sullen
determination to outdo his brother in everything had got possession of
his strong nature. He remembered how, coming home from school, he had
presented his mother with the report which spoke of his final
examinations as brilliant compared with Alexander's; how his mother had
said a cold word of praise; and how he himself had turned silently away,
able already, in his young self-dependence, to rejoice secretly over his
victory, without demanding the least approbation from those who should
have loved him best. He remembered, when his brother was an ensign in
the guards, spoiled and reckless, making debts and getting into all
kinds of trouble, how he himself had labored at the dry work assigned to
him in the foreign office, without amusements, without pleasure, and
without pocket money, toiling day and night to win by force that
position which Alexander had got for nothing; never relaxing in his
exertions, and scrupulous in the performance of his duties. Even in the
present moment of anxiety he thought with satisfaction of his
well-earned advancement, and of the promotion which could not now be far
distant. He remembered himself a big, bony youth of twenty, and he
reflected that he had made himself what he now was, the accomplished
man of the world, the rising diplomatist among those of his years,
steadily moving on to success. But he saw that he was the same to-day as
he had been then; if he had not gained affection in his life, he had
gained strength and hardness and indifference to opposition.

Then this blow had come upon him. This brother, whom he had striven to
surpass in everything, had been suddenly and mysteriously taken from his
very side; and not that only, but the mother who had borne them both had
put the crowning touch to her life-long injustice, and had accused him
of being his brother's murderer,--accused him to a stranger, or to one
who was little nearer than a stranger,--refusing to hear him in his own
defense.

He wished that she might be indeed mad. He hoped that she was beside
herself with grief, even wholly insane, rather than that he should be
forced to believe that she could be so unjust. What construction the
world would put upon the catastrophe he knew from Count Ananoff; but
surely he might expect his mother to be more merciful. A mother should
hope against hope for her child's innocence, even when every one else
has forsaken him; how was it possible that this mother of his could so
harden her heart as to be first to suspect him of such a crime, and to
be of all people the one to refuse to hear his defense! He hoped she was
mad, as he lay there on his bed, in the little room of the hotel, in the
gathering gloom.

At last some one knocked at the door, and Professor Cutter entered,
admitting a stream of light from the corridor outside. Paul sprang to
his feet, pale and haggard.

"You are in the dark," said the professor quietly, as he shut the door
behind him. Then he struck a match, and lit the two candles which stood
on each side of the mirror on the bare dressing-table.

"Can I go now?" asked Paul. The scientist eyed him deliberately.

"Pardon me," he said. "You have not thought of your appearance. You have
traveled for three or four days, and look rather disheveled."

Paul understood. The professor did not want him to be seen as he was. He
was wild and excited, and his clothes were in disorder. Silently he
unlocked his dressing-case and bag, and proceeded to dress himself.
Cutter sat quietly watching him, as though still studying his character;
for he was a student of men, and prided himself on his ability to detect
people's peculiarities from their unconscious movements. Paul dressed
rapidly, with the neatness of a man accustomed to wait upon himself. In
twenty minutes his toilet was completed, during which time neither of
the two spoke a word. At last Paul turned to the professor. "Did you
have difficulty in arranging it?" he asked coldly.

"Yes. But you may see her, if you go at once," answered the other.

"I am ready," said Paul. "Let us go." They left the room, and went down
the corridor together. The quiet and solitude of his room had
strengthened Paul's nerves, and he walked more erect and with a firmer
step than before. Presently the professor stopped before one of the
doors.

"Go in," he said. "This is a little passage room. Knock at the door
opposite. She is there, and will receive you."

Paul followed the professor's instructions, and knocked at the door
within. A voice which he hardly recognized as his mother's bid him
enter, and he was in the presence of Madame Patoff.

A bright lamp, unshaded and filling the little sitting-room with a broad
yellow light, stood upon the table. The details of the apartment were
insignificant, and seemed to throw the figure of the seated woman into
strong relief. She had been beautiful, and was beautiful still, though
now in her fifty-second year. Her features were high and noble, and her
rich dark hair was only lightly streaked with gray. Her eyes were
brown, but of that brown which easily looks black when not exposed
directly to the light. Her face was now very pale, but there was a
slight flush upon her cheeks, which for a moment brought back a
reflection of her former brilliant beauty. She was dressed entirely in
black, and her thin white hands lay folded on the dark material of her
gown; she wore no ring save the plain band of gold upon the third finger
of her left hand.

Paul entered, and closed the door behind him without taking his eyes
from his mother. She rose from her seat as he came forward, as though to
draw back. He came nearer, and bending low would have taken her hand,
but she stepped backwards and withdrew it, while the flush darkened on
her cheek.

"Mother, will you not give me your hand?" he asked, in a low and broken
voice.

"No," she answered sternly. "Why have you come here?"

"To tell you my brother's story," said Paul, drawing himself up and
facing her. When he entered the room he had felt sorrow and pity for
her, in spite of Cutter's account, and he would willingly have kneeled
and kissed her hand. But her rough refusal brought vividly to his mind
the situation.

"You have told me already, by your letter," she replied. "Have you found
him, that you come here? Do you think I want to see you--you?" she
repeated, with rising emphasis.

"I might think it natural that you should," said Paul, very coldly. "Be
calm. I am going to-morrow. Had I supposed that you would meet me as you
have, I should have spared myself the trouble of coming here."

"Indeed you might!" she exclaimed scornfully. "Have you come here to
tell me how you did it?" Her voice trembled hysterically.

"Did what?" asked Paul, in the same cold tone. "Do you mean to accuse
me to my face of my brother's death, as your doctor says you do behind
my back? And if you dare to do so, do you think I will permit it without
defending myself?"

His mother looked at him for one moment; then, clasping her hands to her
forehead, she staggered across the room, and hid her face in the
cushions of the sofa, moaning and crying aloud.

"Alexis, Alexis!" she sobbed. "Ah--my beloved son--if only I could have
seen your dear face once more--to close your eyes--and kiss you--those
sweet eyes--oh, my boy, my boy! Where are you--my own child?"

She was beside herself with grief, and ceased to notice Paul's presence
for some minutes, moaning, and tossing herself upon the sofa, and
wringing her hands as the tears streamed down. Paul could not look
unmoved on such a sight. He came near and touched her shoulder.

"You must not give up all hope, mother," he said softly. "He may yet
come back." He did not know what else to say, to comfort her.

"Come back?" she cried hysterically, suddenly sitting up and facing him.
"Come back, when you are standing there with his blood on your hands!
You murderer! You monster! Go--for God's sake, go! Don't touch me! Don't
look at me!"

Paul was horrified at her violence, and could not believe that she was
in her senses. But he had heard the words she had spoken, and the wound
had entered into his soul. His look was colder than ever as he answered.

"You are evidently insane," he said

"Go--go, I tell you! Let me never see you again!" cried the frantic
woman, rising to her feet, and staring at him with wide and blood-shot
eyes.

Paul went up to her, and quickly seizing her hands held them in his firm
grip, without pressure, but so that she could not withdraw them.

"Mother," he said, in low and distinct tones, "I believe you are mad. If
you are not, God forgive you, and grant that you may forget what you
have said. I am as innocent of Alexander's death--if indeed he is
dead--as you are yourself."

She seemed awed by his manner, and spoke more quietly.

"Where is he, then? Paul, where is your brother?"

"I cannot tell where he is. He left me and never returned, as the man
who was with me can testify. I came here to tell you the story with my
own lips. If you do not care to hear it, I will go, and you shall have
your wish, for you need never see me again." He released her hands, and
turned from her as though to leave the room.

Madame Patoff's mood changed. Though Alexander was more like her, she
possessed, too, some of the inexorable coldness which Paul had inherited
so abundantly. She now drew herself up, and retired to the other side of
the room. Paul's hand was on the door. Then she turned once more, and he
saw that her face was as pale as death.

"Go," she said, for the last time. "And above all, do not come back.
Unless you can bring Alexis with you, and show him to me alive, I will
always believe that you killed him, like the heartless, cruel monster
you have been from a child."

"Is that your last word, mother?" asked Paul, controlling his voice by a
great effort.

"My very last word, to you," she answered, pointing to the door.

Paul went out, and left her alone. In the corridor he found Professor
Cutter, calmly walking up and down. The scientist stopped, and looked at
Paul's pale face.

"Was I right?" he asked.

"Too right."

"I thought so," said the professor. "Do you mean to leave to-morrow?"

"Yes," answered Paul quietly. "I must eat something. I am exhausted."

He staggered against Dr. Cutter's strong arm, and caught himself by it.
The professor held him firmly on his feet, and looked at him curiously.

"You are worn out," he said. "Come with me."

He led him through the corridor to the restaurant of the hotel, and
poured out a glass of wine from a bottle which stood on a table set
ready for dinner. Paul drank it slowly, stopping twice to look at his
companion, who watched him with the eye of a physician.

"Have you ever had any trouble with your heart?" asked the latter.

"No," said Paul. "I have never been ill."

"Then you must have been half starved on your journey," replied the
professor, philosophically. "Let us dine here."

They sat down, and ordered dinner. Paul was conscious that his manner
must seem strange to his new acquaintance, and indeed what he felt was
strange to himself. He was conscious that since he had left his mother
his ideas had undergone a change. He was calmer than he had been before,
and he could not account for it on the ground of his having begun to eat
something. He was indeed exhausted, for he had hardly thought of taking
any nourishment during his long journey, and the dinner revived him. But
the odd consciousness that he was not exactly the same man he had been
before had come upon him as he closed the door of his mother's room. Up
to the time he had entered her presence he had been in a state of the
wildest anxiety and excitement. The moment the interview was over his
mind worked normally and easily, and he felt himself completely master
of his own actions.

Indeed, a change had taken place. He had gone to his mother feeling that
he was accountable to her for his brother's disappearance, and prepared
to tell his story with every detail he could recall, yet knowing that he
was wholly innocent of the catastrophe, and that he had done everything
in his power to find the lost man. But in that moment he was unconscious
of two things: first, of the extreme hardness of his own nature; and
secondly, that he had not in reality the slightest real love either for
his mother or for Alexander. The moral sufferings of his childhood had
killed the natural affections in him, and there had remained nothing in
their stead but a strong sense of duty to his nearest relations. It was
this sense which had prompted him to receive Alexander kindly, and to
take the utmost care of him during his visit; and it was the same
feeling which had impelled him to come to his mother, in order to give
the best account he could of the terrible catastrophe. But the frightful
accusation she had put upon him, and her stubborn determination to abide
by it, had destroyed even that lingering sense of duty which he had so
long obeyed. He knew now that he experienced no more pain at Alexander's
loss than he would naturally have felt at the death of an ordinary
acquaintance, and that his mother had absolved him by her crowning
injustice from the last tie which bound him to his family. In the first
month at Buyukdere, after Alexander had disappeared, he had been
overcome by the horror of the situation, and by the knowledge that he
must tell his mother of the loss of her favorite son. He had mistaken
these two incentives to the search for a feeling of love for the missing
man. A quarter of an hour with his mother had shown him how little love
there had ever been between them, and her frantic behavior, which he
felt was not insanity, had disgusted him, and had shown him that he was
henceforth free from all responsibility towards her.

The love of a child for his mother may be instinctive in the first
instance, but as the child grows to manhood he becomes subject to
reason; and that which reason first rejects is injustice, because
injustice is the most destructive form of lie imaginable. Paul had borne
much, had cherished to the last his feeling of duty and his outward
rendering of respect, but his mother had gone too far. He felt that she
was not mad, and that in accusing him she was only treating him as she
had always done since he was a boy; giving way to her unaccountable
dislike, and suffering her antipathy to get the better of all sense of
truth.

As Paul sat at table with Professor Cutter, he felt that the yoke had
suddenly been taken from his neck, and that he was henceforth free to
follow his own career and his own interests, without further thought for
her who had cast him off. He was not a boy, to grow sulky at an unkind
word, or to resent a fancied insult. He was a grown man, more than
thirty years of age, and he fully realized his position, without
exaggeration and without any superfluous exhibition of feeling. All at
once he felt like a man who has done his day's work, and has a right to
think no more about it.

"I am glad to see that you have a good appetite," observed the
professor.

"I am conscious of not having eaten for a long time," answered Paul. "I
suppose I was too much excited to be hungry before."

"You are not excited any longer?" inquired Dr. Cutter, with a smile.

"No. I believe I am perfectly calm. I have accomplished the journey, I
have seen my mother, I have heard her last word, and I shall go to
Persia to-morrow."

"Your programme is a simple one," answered his companion. "However, I am
sure you can be of no use here. Your mother is quite safe under my
care."

"It is my belief that she would be quite safe alone," said Paul, "though
your presence is a help to her. You are a friend of her family, you knew
my poor brother, you are intimate with my uncle by marriage, Mr. John
Carvel. I am sure that, since you are good enough to accompany my
mother, she cannot fail to appreciate your kindness and to enjoy your
society. But I do not think she really stands in need of assistance."

"That is a matter of opinion," replied the professor, sipping his wine.

"Yes; but shall I be frank with you, Dr. Cutter? I fancy that, as a
scientist and a student of diseases of the mind, you are over-ready to
suspect insanity where my mother's conduct can be explained by ordinary
causes."

"My dear sir," said the professor, "if I am a scientist, I am not one
for nothing. I know how very little science knows, and in due time I
shall be quite ready to own myself mistaken, if your mother turns out to
be perfectly sane."

"You are very honest," returned Patoff. "All I want to express is that,
although I am grateful to you for taking her home, I think she is quite
able to take care of herself. I should be very sorry to think that you
felt yourself bound not to leave her. She is fifty-two years old, I
believe, but she is very strong, though she used to fancy herself in bad
health, for some reason or other; she has a maid, a courier, and plenty
of money. You yourself admit that she has no delusion except about this
sad business. I think that under the circumstances she could safely
travel alone."

"Possibly. But the case is an interesting one. I am a free man, and your
mother's age and my position procure me the advantage of studying the
state of her mind by traveling with her without causing any scandal. I
am not disposed to abandon my patient."

"I can assure you," said Paul, "that if I thought she would tolerate my
presence I should go with her myself, and I repeat that I am sincerely
obliged to you. Only, I do not believe she is mad. I hope you will write
to me, however, and tell me how she is."

"Of course. And I hope you will tell me whether you have changed your
mind about her. I confess that you seem to me to be the calmest person I
ever met."

"I?" exclaimed Paul. "Yes, I am calm now, but I have not had a moment's
rest during the last month."

"I can understand that. You know the worst now, and you have nothing
more to anticipate. I have no right to inquire into your personal
feelings, but I should say that you cared very little for your mother,
and less for your brother, and that hitherto you had been animated by a
sort of fictitious sense of responsibility. That has ceased, and you
feel like a man released from prison."

The professor fixed his keen gray eyes on Paul's face as he spoke. His
speech was rather incisive, considering how little he had seen of Paul.
Perhaps he intended that it should be, for he watched the effect of his
words with interest.

"You are not a bad judge of human nature," answered Patoff, coolly. But
he did not vouchsafe any further answer.

"It is my business," said the professor. "If, as a friend of Madame
Patoff's family, I take the liberty of being plain, and of telling you
what I think, you may believe that I have not wholly misjudged your
mother, since I have hit the mark in judging you."

"I am not sure that you have hit the mark," replied Paul. "Perhaps you
have. Time will show. Meanwhile, I am going to Teheran to reflect upon
it. It is impossible to choose a more secluded spot," he added, with a
smile.

"Why do you not return to Constantinople?" asked the inquisitive
professor.

"Because it has pleased the Minister for Foreign Affairs to send me to
Persia. I am a government servant, and must go whither I am sent. I dare
say I shall not be there very long. The climate is not very pleasant,
and the society is limited. But it will be an agreeable change for me."

"I suppose that efforts will still be made to find your brother?"

"Yes. The search will never be given up while there is the least hope."

"I wonder what the effect would be upon Madame Patoff, if Alexander were
found after six months?"

"I have not the least idea," answered Paul. "I suppose we should all
return to our former relations with each other. Perhaps the shock might
drive her mad in earnest,--I cannot tell. You are a psychologist; it is
a case for you."

"A puzzle without an answer. I am afraid it can never be tried."

"No, I am afraid not," said Paul quietly.

The two men finished their dinner, and went out. Paul meant to leave
early the next morning, and was anxious to go to bed. He felt that at
last he could sleep, and he took his leave of Professor Cutter.

"Good-by," he said, with more feeling than he had shown since he had
left his mother's room. "I am glad we have met. Believe me, I am really
grateful to you for your kindness, and I hope you will let me know that
you have reached England safely. If my mother refers to me, please tell
her that after what she said to me I thought it best to leave here at
once. Good-by, and thank you again."

"Good-by," said the professor, shaking Paul's hand warmly. "The world is
a little place, and I dare say we shall meet again somewhere."

"I hope so," answered Paul.

And so these two parted, to go to the opposite ends of the earth, not
satisfied with each other, and yet each feeling that he should like to
meet his new acquaintance again. But Persia and England, in the present
imperfect state of civilization, are tolerably far apart.



V.


Early on the next morning Paul was on his way to Munich, Vienna, and the
East again, and on the afternoon of the same day Professor Cutter and
Madame Patoff, with two servants, got into a spacious carriage, in which
they had determined to drive as far as Weissenstein, the last village of
the Black Forest before reaching Pforzheim. Pursuing his plan of
traveling by unfrequented routes, the professor had proposed to spend
the night in the beautiful old place which he had formerly visited,
intending to proceed the next day by rail to Carlsruhe, and thence down
the Rhine.

He had not seen Madame Patoff in the evening after her interview with
Paul, and when he met her in the morning it struck him that her manner
was greatly changed. She was very silent, and when she spoke at all
talked of indifferent subjects. She never referred in any way to the
meeting with her son, and the professor observed that for the first time
she allowed the day to pass without once mentioning the disappearance of
Alexander. He attributed this silence to the deep emotion she had felt
on seeing Paul, and to her natural desire to avoid any reference to the
pain she had suffered. As usual she allowed him to make all the
necessary arrangements for the journey, and she even spoke with some
pleasure of the long drive through the forest. She was evidently
fatigued and nervous, and her face was much paler than usual, but she
was quiet and did not seem ill. All through the long afternoon they
drove over the beautiful winding road, enjoying the views, discussing
the scenery, and breathing in the healthy odor of the pines. The
professor was an agreeable companion, for he had traveled much in
Southern Germany, and amused Madame Patoff with all manner of curious
information concerning the people, the legends connected with the
different parts of the Black Forest, the fairy tales of the Rhine, and
the history of the barons before Rudolf of Hapsburg destroyed them in
his raid upon the freebooters. This he sprinkled with anecdotes, small
talk about books, and comments on European society; speaking with ease
and remarkable knowledge of his subjects, and so pleasantly that Madame
Patoff never perceived that he wished to amuse her, and was trying to
distract her thoughts from the one subject which too easily beset them.
Indeed, the professor in the society of a woman of the world was a very
different man from the earnest, plain-speaking person who had dined with
Paul on the previous night. Even his gold-rimmed spectacles were worn
with a less professional air. His well-cut traveling costume of plain
tweed did not suggest the traditional scientist, and his bronzed and
manly face was that of a sportsman or an Alpine Club man rather than of
a student. Madame Patoff leaned back in the carriage, and fairly enjoyed
the hours; saying to herself that Cutter had never been so agreeable
before, and that indeed in her long life she had met few men who
possessed so much charm in conversation. She was an old lady, and could
judge of men, for she had spent nearly forty years in the midst of the
most brilliant society in Europe, and was not to be deceived by the ring
of false metal.

At last they reached the place in the road where they had to descend
from the carriage and mount the ascent to Weissenstein. Madame Patoff
was well pleased with the place, and said so as she slowly climbed the
narrow path, leaning on the professor's arm. The inn--the old Gasthaus
zum Goldenen Anker--stands upon the very edge of the precipice above the
tumbling Nagold, and is indeed partly built down the face of the cliff.
Rooms have been hollowed, so that their windows look down on the river
from a sheer height of two hundred feet, the surface of the natural
wall, broken only here and there by a projecting ledge, or by the
crooked stem of a strong wild cherry tree which somehow finds enough
soil and moisture there to support its hardy growth. The inn is very
primitive, but comfortable in its simple way, and the scenery is
surpassingly beautiful. Far below, on the other side of the torrent, the
small village nestles among the dark pines, the single spire of the
diminutive church standing high above the surrounding cottages. Above,
the hill is crowned by the ruins of the ancient castle of
Weissenstein,--the castle of Bellrem, the crusader, who fell from the
lofty ramparts on a moonlight night in the twelfth century, terrified by
the ghost of a woman he had loved and wronged. At least, the legend says
so, and as the ruined ramparts are still there it is probably all quite
true. On the back of the hill, where the narrow path descends from the
inn to the road, the still, deep waters of the great mill pool lie
stagnant in the hot air, and the long-legged water spiders shoot over
the surface, inviting the old carp to snap at them, well knowing that
they will not, but skimming away like mad when a mountain trout, who has
strayed in from the river through the sluices, comes suddenly to the
surface with a short, sharp splash. But there are flies for the trout,
and he prefers them, so that the water spiders lead, on the whole, a
quiet and unmolested life.

The travelers entered the inn, and were soon established for the night.
Madame Patoff was still enchanted with the view, and insisted on sitting
out upon the low balcony until late at night, though the air was very
cool and the dampness rose from the river. There was something in the
wild place which soothed her. She almost wished she could stay there
forever, and hide her sorrow from the world in such a nest as this,
overhanging the wild water, perched high in air, and surrounded on all
sides by the soft black forest. For the Black Forest is indeed black, as
only such impenetrable masses of evergreen can be.

In the early morning the tall old lady in black was again at her place
on the balcony when Professor Cutter appeared. She sat by the low
parapet, and gazed down as in a trance at the tumbling water, and at the
solitary fisherman who stood bare-legged on a jutting rock, casting his
rough tackle on the eddying stream. She was calmer than she had seemed
for a long time, and the professor began seriously to doubt the wisdom
of taking her to England, although he had already written to her
brother-in-law, naming the date when they expected to arrive.

"Shall we go on this morning?" he asked, in a tone which left the answer
wholly at Madame Patoff's decision.

"Where?" she asked, dreamily.

"Another stage on our way home," answered the professor.

"Yes," she said, with sudden determination. "If we stay here any longer,
I shall be so much in love with the place that I shall never be able to
leave it. Let us go at once. I feel as though something might happen to
prevent us."

"Very well. I will make all the arrangements." Professor Cutter
forthwith went to consult the landlord, leaving Madame Patoff upon the
balcony. She sat there without moving, absorbed in the beauty of the
scene, and happy to forget her troubles even for a moment in the sight
of something altogether new. Her thoughts were indeed confused. It was
but the day before yesterday that she had seen her son Paul after years
of separation, and that alone was sufficient to disturb her. She had
never liked him,--she could not tell why, except it were because she
loved Alexander better,--and she could not help looking on Paul as on
the man who had robbed her of what she loved best in the world. But the
recollection of the interview was cloudy and uncertain. She had given
way to a violent burst of anger, and was not quite sure of what had
happened. She tried to thrust it all away from her weary brain, and she
looked down again at the fisherman, far below. He had moved a little,
and just then she could see him only through the branches of a
projecting cherry-tree. He seemed to be baiting his hook for another
cast in the river.

"Madame Patoff, are you quite ready?" asked the professor's voice from
the window.

"Yes," she said, rising to her feet. "I am coming."

"One moment,--I am just paying the bill," answered Cutter from within;
and Madame Patoff could hear the landlord counting out the small change
upon a plate, the ringing silver marks and the dull little clatter of
the nickel ten-pfennig pieces.

She was standing now, and she looked over the torrent at the dark forest
beyond, endeavoring to fix the beautiful scene in her mind, and trying
to forget her trouble. But it would not be forgotten, and as she stood
up the whole scene with Paul came vividly to her mind. She remembered
all her loathing for him, all the horror and all the furious anger she
had felt at the sight of him. In the keen memory of that bitter meeting,
rendered tenfold more vivid by the overwrought state of her brain, the
blood rushed violently to her face, her head swam, and she put out her
hand to steady herself, thinking there was a railing before her. But the
parapet was low, scarcely reaching to her knees. She tottered, lost her
balance, and with a wild shriek fell headlong into the abyss.

Cutter dropped his change and rushed frantically to the window,
well-nigh falling over the low parapet himself. His face was ghastly, as
he leaned far forward and looked down. Then he uttered an exclamation of
terror, and seemed about to attempt to climb over the balcony. Not ten
feet below him the wretched woman hung suspended in the thick branches
of the wild cherry tree, caught by her clothes. Cutter breathed hard,
for he had never seen so horrible a sight. At any moment the material of
her dress might give way, the branches might break under the heavy
strain. He looked wildly round for help. Between the balcony and the
trees there were ten feet of smooth rock, which would not have given a
foothold to a lizard.

"Catch hold, there!" cried a loud voice from above, and Cutter saw a new
rope dangling before him into the abyss. He looked up as he seized the
means of help, and saw at the upper window the square dark face of a
strong man, who was clad in a flannel shirt and had a silver-mounted
pipe in his mouth.

"Go ahead,--it's fast," said the man, letting out more rope. "Or if
you're afraid, I'll come down the rope myself."

But Cutter was not afraid. It was the work of a moment to make a wide
bowline knot in the pliant Manilla cord. With an agility which in so
heavily built a frame surprised the dark man above, the doctor let
himself down as far as the tree; then seizing the insensible lady firmly
by the arm, and bracing himself on the roots of the cherry close to the
rock, so that he could stand for a moment without support from above, he
deftly slipped the rope twice round her waist with what are called
technically two half hitches, close to his own loop, in which he
intended to sit, clasping her body with his arms.

"Can you haul us up?" he shouted.

Slowly the rope was raised, with its heavy burden. The strong tourist
had got help from the terrified landlord, who had followed Cutter to the
balcony, but who was a stalwart Swabian, and not easily disconcerted. He
had rushed up-stairs, and was hauling away with all his might. In less
than a minute and a half Cutter was on a level with the balcony, and in
a few seconds more he had disengaged himself and the rescued lady from
the coils of the rope. It is not surprising that his first thought
should have been for her, and not for the quiet man with the pipe, who
had been the means of her escape. He bore Madame Patoff to her room, and
with the assistance of her maid set about reviving her as fast as
possible, though the perspiration streamed from his forehead, and he was
trembling with fright in every limb and joint.

The tourist wound up his rope, and took his pipe from his mouth, which
he had forgotten to do in the hurry of the moment. Then he slipped on an
old jacket, and descended the stairs, to inquire whether he could be of
any use, and whether the lady were alive or dead. He was a strongly
built man, with an ugly but not unkindly face, small gray eyes, and
black hair just beginning to grizzle at the temples. He was an extremely
quiet fellow, and the people of the inn remarked that he gave very
little trouble, though he had been at Weissenstein nearly a week. He had
told the landlord that he was going to Switzerland, but that he liked
roundabout ways, and was loitering along the road, as the season was not
yet far enough advanced for a certain ascent which he meditated. He had
nothing with him but a knapsack, a coil of rope, and a weather-beaten
ice-axe, besides one small book, which he read whenever he read at all.
He spoke German fluently, but said he was an American. Thereupon the
landlady, who had a cousin who had a nephew who had gone to Brazil,
asked the tourist if he did not know August Bürgin, and was very much
disappointed to find that he did not.

The excitement outside of Madame Patoff's room was intense. But the Herr
Doctor, as the landlord called Cutter, had admitted no one but the maid,
and as yet had not given any news of the patient. The little group stood
in the passage a long time before Cutter came out.

"She is not badly hurt," he said, and was about to re-enter the
apartment, when his eye fell on the tall tourist, who, on hearing the
news, had turned quickly away. Cutter went hastily after him, and,
grasping his hand, thanked him warmly for his timely help.

"Don't mention it," said the stranger. "You did the thing beautifully
when once you had got hold of the rope. Excuse me--I have an
engagement--good-by--glad to hear the lady is not hurt." Wherewith the
tourist quickly shook the professor's hand once more, and was gone
before the latter could ask his name.

"Queer fellow," muttered Cutter, as he returned to Madame Patoff's side.

She was not injured, as he had at once announced, but it was impossible
to say what effect the awful shock might produce upon her overwrought
brain. She opened her eyes, indeed, but she did not seem to recognize
any one; and when the professor asked her how she felt, in order to see
if she could speak intelligibly, she laughed harshly, and turned her
head away. She was badly bruised, but he could discover no mark of any
blow upon the head which could have caused a suspension of intelligence.
There was therefore nothing to be done but to take care of her, and if
she recovered her normal health she must be removed to her home at once.
All day he sat beside her bed, with the patience of a man accustomed to
tend the sick, and to regard them as studies for his own improvement.
Towards evening she slept, and Cutter went out, hoping to find the
tourist again. But the landlord said he was gone, and as the little inn
kept no book wherein strangers were asked to register their names, and
as the landlord could only say that the gentleman had declared his name
to be Paul, Cutter was obliged to suffer the pangs of unsatisfied
curiosity.

"I am sick of the name of Paul!" exclaimed the professor, half angrily.
"Is the fellow a Russian, too, I wonder? Paul, Paul,--everybody seems to
be called Paul!" Therewith he turned away, and began to walk up and down
before the house, lighting a cigar, and smoking savagely in his
annoyance with things in general.

He was thinking that if it had been so easy for Madame Patoff to throw
herself over the balcony, just when he was not looking, it was after all
not so very improbable that Alexander might have slipped away from his
brother in the dark. The coincidence of the two cases was remarkable.
As for Madame Patoff, he did not doubt for a moment that she had
intended to commit suicide by throwing herself down the precipice.
According to his theory, all her calmness of yesterday and this morning,
succeeding the great excitement of her meeting with Paul, proved that
she had been quietly meditating death. She had escaped. But had her mind
escaped the suicide she had attempted on her body? In its effects, her
anger against Paul and her fixed idea concerning him were as nothing
when compared with the terrible shock she had experienced that morning.
It was absolutely impossible to predict what would occur: whether she
would recover her faculties, or remain apathetic for the rest of her
life. She was a nervous, sensitive, and overstrung woman at all times,
and would suffer far more under a sudden and violent strain than a
duller nature could. The view she took in regard to Alexander's
disappearance proved that her faculties were not evenly balanced. Of
course the story was a very queer one, and Russians are queer people, as
the professor said to himself. It was not going beyond the bounds of
possibility to suppose that Paul might have murdered his brother, but
Cutter would have expected that Madame Patoff would be the last person
to suspect it, and especially to say it aloud. The way she had raved
against Paul on more than one occasion sufficiently showed that she
seized at false conclusions, like a person of unsound mind. Alexander
had resembled her, too, and had always acted like an irritable,
beautiful, spoiled child. There was a distinct streak of "queerness," as
Cutter expressed it, in the family. Probably Paul had inherited it in a
different way. His conduct at Teinach, after leaving his mother, had
been strange. He had shown no sorrow, scarcely any annoyance, indeed,
and during their dinner had seemed thoroughly at his ease.
Scientifically speaking, the professor regretted the accident of the
morning. Madame Patoff had been a very interesting study so long as she
was under the influence of a dominating idea. Her case might now
degenerate into one of common apathy such as Cutter had seen hundreds of
times. There would be nothing to be done but to try the usual methods,
with the usual unsatisfactory results, abandoning her at last to the
care of her relations and nurses as a hopeless idiot.

But Professor Cutter was not destined to such a disappointment. His
patient recovered in a way which was new to him, and he realized that in
losing his former case he had found one even more interesting. She was
apathetic, indeed, in a certain degree, and did not appear to understand
everything that was said to her, but this was the only sign of any
degeneracy. She never again addressed by name either the professor or
her maid, and never spoke except to express her wants, which she did in
few words, and very concisely and correctly. Nothing would induce her,
in conversation, to make any answer save a simple yes or no, and Cutter
was struck by the fact that her color ceased to change when he spoke of
Alexander. This, he thought, showed that she no longer associated any
painful idea with the name of her lost son. But there were none of the
signs of a softening brain,--no foolish ravings, nor any expressed
desire to do anything not perfectly rational. She accomplished the
journey with evident comfort, and was evidently delighted at the
beautiful sights she saw on the way, though she said nothing, but only
smiled and looked pleased. Her habitual expression was one of calm
melancholy. Her features wore a sad but placid expression, and she
appeared to thrive in health, and to be better than when the professor
had first known her. She was more scrupulous than ever about her
appearance, and there was an almost unnatural perfection in her dress
and in her calm and graceful manner. Cutter was puzzled. With these
symptoms he would have expected some apparent delusion on one point. But
he could detect nothing of the kind, and he exhausted his theories in
trying to find out what particular form of insanity afflicted her. He
could see nothing and define nothing, save her absolute refusal to talk.
She asked for what she wanted, or got it for herself, and she answered
readily yes and no to direct questions. Gradually, as they traveled by
short stages, drawing near to their destination, Cutter altogether lost
the habit of talking to her, and almost ceased to notice her one
peculiarity. She would sit for hours in the same position, apparently
never wearied of her silence, her placid expression never changing save
into a gentle smile when she saw anything that pleased her.

They reached England at last, and Madame Patoff was installed in her
brother-in-law's house in the country. Cutter came frequently from town
to see her, and always studied her case with new interest; but after a
whole year he could detect no change whatever in her condition, and
began to despair of ever classifying her malady in the scientific
catalogue of his mind.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was at this point, my dear friend, that I became an actor in the
story of Paul Patoff and his mother, and I will now for a time tell my
tale in my own person,--in the prosaic person of Paul Griggs, with whom
you are so well acquainted that you are good enough to call him your
friend. To give you at once an idea of my own connection with this
history, I will confess that it was I who dropped the rope out of the
window at Weissenstein, as you may have already guessed from the
description I have given of myself.



VI.


Mankind may be divided and classified in many ways, according to the
tests applied, and the reason why any new classification of people is
always striking is not far to seek. For, since all the mental and moral
qualities of which we have ever heard belong to men and women, it is
obviously easy to say that we can divide our fellow-creatures into two
classes, one class possessing the vice or virtue in point, and the other
not possessing it. The only division which is hard to make is that which
should separate the human race into classes of good and bad,--to speak
biblically, the division of the sheep from the goats; but as no one has
ever been able to draw the line, some people have said, in their haste,
that all men are bad, while others have arrived at the no less hasty and
equally false conclusion that all men are good. The Preacher was nearer
the truth when he said, "All is vanity," than was David when he said in
his heart, "All men are liars;" for if the bad man is foolish enough to
boast of his error, the good man is generally inclined to vaunt his
virtue after the most mature reflection, and the secret of success,
whether in good or in evil, is not to allow the right hand to know the
doings of the left. There are men who give lavishly with the one hand,
while they steal even more freely with the other, and are covered with
glory, until their biography is written by an intelligent enemy.

The faculty of persuading the world at large to consider that you are in
the right is called your "prestige," a word closely connected with the
term "prestidigitation,"--if not in derivation, most certainly in
meaning. When you have found out your neighbor's sin, your prestige is
increased; when your neighbor has found out yours, your prestige is
gone. There is little credit to be got from charity; for if you conceal
your good deeds it is certain that nobody will suspect you of doing
them, and if you do them before the world every one will say that you
are vainglorious and purse-proud, and altogether a dangerous hypocrite.
On the other hand, there is undeniably much social interest attached to
a man who is supposed to be bad, but who has never been caught in his
wickedness; and if a thorough-going sinner is discovered, after having
concealed his doings for many years, people at least give him all the
credit he can expect, saying, "Surely he was a very clever fellow to
deceive us for so long!" There are plenty of ways which serve to conceal
evil doings, from the vulgar lies which make up the code of schoolboy
honor, to the national bad faith which systematically violates all
treaties when they cease to be lucrative; from the promising youth who
borrows money from his tailor, and has it charged to his father with
compound interest as "account rendered for clothes furnished," down to
the driveling dishonesty of some old statesman who clings to office
because his ornate eloquence still survives his scanty wit. Verily, if
the boy be father to the man, it is not pleasant to imagine what manner
of men they will be to whom the modern boy stands in the relation of
paternity. The big boys who kill little ones with their fists, and spend
a pleasant hour in watching a couple of cats, slung over a clothes-line
by the tails, fight each other to death, are likely to be less
remarkable for their singular lack of intelligence than for their
extraordinary excess of brutality. It is true that a nation's greatest
activity for good is developed in the time of its transition from
coarseness to refinement. It may also be true that its period of
greatest harmfulness is when, from a fictitious refinement, it is
dragged down again by the natural brutality of its nature; when the
ideal has ceased to correspond with the real; when the poet has lost
his hold upon the hearts of the people; when poetry itself is no longer
the strong fire bursting through the thick, foul crust of the earth, but
is only the faint and shadowy smoke of the fire, wreathed for a moment
into ethereal shapes of fleeting grace that have neither heat enough to
burn the earth from which they come, nor strength to withstand the rough
winds of heaven by which they shall soon be scattered. For as the
evolution of the ideal from the real is life, so the final separation of
the soul from the body is death.

Almost all men have the qualities which can give moderate success. Very
few have those gifts which lead to greatness, and those who have them
invariably become great. There is no unrecognized genius; for genius
means the production of what is not only beautiful, but enduring, and
the works of man are all sooner or later judged by his fellows, and
judged fairly. But it is unprofitable to discuss these matters; for
those who are very great seldom know that they are, and those who are
not cannot be persuaded that they might not attain to greatness if
circumstances were slightly changed in their favor. Perhaps also there
is very little use in making any preamble to what I have to tell. I
remember to have been at a great meeting of American bankers at Niagara
some years ago, where, as usual at American meetings, many speeches were
made. There was an old gentleman there from the West who appeared to
have something to say, but although his voice rose to impassioned tones
and his gestures were highly effective as he delivered a variety of
ornate phrases, he did not come to the point. An irreverent hearer rose
and inquired what was the object of his distinguished friend's
discourse, which did not appear to bear at all upon the matters in hand.
The old gentleman stopped instantly in his flow of words, and said very
quietly and naturally, "I feel a little shy, and I want to speak some
before getting to the point, so as to get used to you." There was a
good-natured laugh, in which the speaker joined. But he presently began
again, and before long he was talking very well and very much to the
point. It may be doubted, however, whether any well-conditioned
chronicler needs a preliminary breather before so short a race as this
is likely to be. In these wild days there is small time for man to work
or for woman to weep, and those who would tell a tale must tell it
quickly, lest the traveler be out of hearing before the song is ended,
and the minstrel be left harping at the empty air and wasting his
eloquence upon the stones.

Last year I was staying in an English country house on the borders of
Hertfordshire and Essex. It is not what is called a "romantic
neighborhood," but there are plenty of pretty places and some fine old
trees where the green lanes of Essex begin to undulate into the wooded
valleys of Herts. The name of the place where I was stopping is Carvel
Place, and the people who generally live in it are John Carvel, Esq.,
formerly member for the borough; Mary Carvel, his wife, who was a Miss
Dabstreak; Hermione Carvel, their daughter; and, when he is at home on
leave, Macaulay Carvel, their son, a young man who has been in the
diplomatic service several years, and who once had the good fortune to
be selected as private secretary to Lord Mavourneen, when that noble
diplomatist was sent on a special mission to India. Mrs. Carvel has a
younger sister, a spinster, thirty-eight years of age, who rejoices in
the name of Chrysophrasia. Her parents had christened their eldest
daughter Anne, their second Mary, and had regretted the simple
appellations bitterly, so that when a third little girl came into the
world, seven years afterwards, their latent love for euphony was poured
out upon her in a double measure at the baptismal font. Anne, eldest
sister of Mrs. Carvel and Miss Chrysophrasia Dabstreak, married a
Russian in the year 1850, and was never mentioned after the Crimean War,
until her son, Paul Patoff, being a diplomatist, made the acquaintance
of his first cousin in the person of Macaulay Carvel, who happened to
be third secretary in Berlin, when Paul passed through that capital, on
his return from a distant post in the East.

It is taken for granted that the Carvels have lived at Carvel Place
since the memory of man. I know very little of their family history; my
acquaintance with John Carvel is of comparatively recent date, and Miss
Chrysophrasia eyes me with evident suspicion, as being an American and
probably an adventurer. I cannot say that Carvel and I are precisely old
friends, but we enjoy each other's society, and have been of
considerable service to each other in the last ten years. There is a
certain kind of mutual respect, not untempered by substantial mutual
obligation, which very nearly approaches to friendship when the parties
concerned have common tastes and are not unsympathetic. John Carvel is a
man fifty years of age: he is short, well built, and active, delighting
in the chase; slender rather than stout, but not thin; red in the face
from constant exposure, scrupulous in the shaving of his smooth chin and
in the scrubbing processes, dressed with untarnishing neatness; having
large hands with large nails, smooth and tolerably thick gray hair,
strongly marked eyebrows, and small, bright eyes of a gray-blue color.
In his personal appearance he is a type of a fine race; in character and
tastes he is a specimen of the best class of men to be met with in our
day. He is a country gentleman, educated in the traditions of Rugby and
Oxford at a time when those institutions had not succumbed to the subtle
evils of our times, whereby the weak are corrupted into effeminate fools
and the strong into abominable bullies. John Carvel's Latin has survived
his school-days, and his manliness has outlived the university. He
belongs to that class of Englishmen who proverbially speak the truth.

When he began life, an orphan at twenty-two years of age, he found
himself comparatively poor, but in spite of the prejudices of those days
he was not ashamed to better his fortunes by manufacture, and he is now
a rich man. He married Mary Dabstreak for love, and has never regretted
it. He has lived most of his life at Carvel Place, has hunted
perpetually, and has of late years developed a taste for books which is
likely to stand him in good stead in his old age. There is a fine
library in the house, and much has been added to it in the last ten
years. Miss Chrysophrasia occasionally strays into the repository of
learning, but she has little sympathy with the contents of the shelves.

Miss Chrysophrasia Dabstreak is a lady concerning whom there is much
speculation, to very little purpose, in the world as represented by the
select society in which she droops,--not moves. She is an amateur.

Her eye rejoices only in the tints of the crushed strawberry and the
faded olive; her ear loves the limited poetry of doubtful sound produced
by abortive attempts to revive the unbarred melodies of the troubadours;
and her soul thrills responsively in the checkered light falling through
a stained-glass window, as a sensitive-plant waves its sticky leaves
when a fly is in the neighborhood.

But life has attractions for Chrysophrasia. She enjoys it after her own
fashion. It is a little disconnected. The relation between cause and
effect is a little obscure. She is fragmentary. She is a series of
unfinished sketches in various manners. She has her being in the past
tense, and her future, if she could have it after her taste, would be
the past made present. She has many aspirations, and few of them are
realized, but all of them are sketched in faint hues upon the mist of
her mediæval atmosphere. She is, in the language of a lyric from her own
pen,

    "The shadow of fair and of joyous impossible, infinite, faintness
    That is cast on the mist of the sea by the light of the ages to come."

Her handwriting is Gothic. Her heart is of the type created by Mr.
Swinburne in the minds of those who do not understand him,--in their
minds, for in the flesh the type is not found. Moreover, she resents
modernness of every kind, including the steam-engine, the electric
telegraph, the continent of North America, and myself. Her political
creed shadows forth the government of the future as a pleasant
combination of communism and knight-baronry, wherein all oppressed
persons shall have republics, and all nice people shall wear armor, and
live in castles, and strew the floors of their rooms with rushes and
their garments with the anatomic monstrosities of heraldic blazon.

As for religion, her mind is disturbed in its choice between a palatable
form of Buddhism and a particularly luscious adaptation of Greek
mythology; but in either case as much Christianity would be
indispensable as would give the whole a flavor of crusading. I hope I am
not hard upon Miss Chrysophrasia, but the fact is she is not--what shall
I say?--not sympathetic to me. John Carvel does not often speak of her,
but he has more than once attempted to argue with her, and on these
occasions his sister-in-law invariably winds up her defense by remarking
very wearily that "argument is the negation of poetry, and, indeed, of
all that is fair and joyous."

Personally Miss Dabstreak is a faded blonde, with a very large nose, a
wide mouth garnished with imperfect teeth, a very thin figure of
considerable height, a poor complexion ill set off by scanty, straggling
fair hair; garments of unusual greenish hues, fitted in an unusual and
irregular manner, hang in fantastic folds about the angles of her frame,
and her attitudes are strange and improbable. I repeat that I do not
mean to be hard upon Chrysophrasia, but her looks are not much to my
taste. She is too strongly contrasted with her niece, Miss Carvel. There
is, besides, something in Chrysophrasia's cold green eyes which gives me
an unpleasant sensation. She was at Carvel Place when I arrived, and she
is generally there, although she has a little house in Brompton, where
she preserves the objects she most loves, consisting chiefly of earthen
vessels, abominable in color and useless to civilized man; nevertheless,
so great is her influence with her sister's family that even John
speaks of majolica with a certain reverence, as a man lowers his voice
when he mentions some dear relation not long dead. As for Mrs. Carvel,
she is silent when Chrysophrasia holds forth concerning pots and plates,
though I have seen her raise her gentle face and cast up her eyes with a
faint, hopeless smile when her sister was more than usually eloquent
about her Spanow-Morescow things, as she calls them, her
Marstrow-Geawgiow and her Robby-ah. It seems to me that objects of that
description are a trifle too perishable. Perhaps John Carvel wishes Miss
Dabstreak were perishable, too; but she is not.

I would not weary you with too many portraits, my dear lady, and I will
describe the beautiful Hermione another day. As for her mother, Mary
Carvel, she is an angel upon earth, and if her trials have not been many
until lately, her good deeds are without number as the sands of the sea;
for it is a poor country that lies on the borders of Essex, and there
have been bad times in these years. The harvests have failed, and many
other misfortunes have happened, not the least of which is that the old
race of farmers is dying out, and that the young ones cannot live as
their fathers did, but sell their goods and chattels and emigrate, one
after another, to the far, rich West. Some of them prosper, and some of
them die on the road; but they leave the land behind them a waste, and
there are eleven millions of acres now lying fallow in England which
were ploughed and sowed and reaped ten years ago. People are poor, and
Mrs. Carvel takes care of them. Her soft brown eyes have a way of
finding out trouble, and when it is found her great heart cannot help
easing it. She loves her husband and her daughter, understanding them in
different degrees. She loves her son also, but she does not pretend to
understand him; he is the outcome of a new state of things; but he has
no vices, and is thought exceedingly clever. As for her sister, she is
very good to her, but she does not profess to understand her, either.

I had been in Persia and Turkey some time, and had not been many days in
London, when John Carvel wrote to ask me if I would spend the winter
with him. I was tired and wanted to be quiet, so I accepted his offer.
Carvel Place is peaceful, and I like the woods about it, and the old
towers, and the great library in the house itself, and the general sense
of satisfaction at being among congenial people who are friendly. I knew
I should have to encounter Miss Chrysophrasia, but I reflected that
there was room for both of us, and that if it were not easy to agree
with her it was not easy to quarrel with her, either. I packed my traps,
and went down to the country one afternoon in November.

John Carvel had grown a trifle older; I thought he was a little less
cheerful than he had been in former days, but I was welcomed as warmly
as ever. The great fire burned brightly in the old hall, lighting up the
dark wainscoting and the heavy furniture with a glow that turned the old
oak from brown to red. The dim portraits looked down as of old from the
panels, and Fang, the white deerhound, shook his shaggy coat and
stretched his vast jaws as I came in. It was cold outside, and the rain
was falling fast, as the early darkness gathered gloomily over the
landscape, so that I was glad to stand by the blazing logs after the
disagreeable drive. John Carvel was alone in the hall. He stretched out
his broad hand and grasped mine, and it did my heart good to see the
smile of honest gladness on his clean, manly face.

"I hardly thought you would come," he said, looking into my eyes. "I was
never so glad to see you in my life. You have been wandering
again,--half over the world. How are you? You look tougher than ever,
and here am I growing palpably old. How in the world do you manage it?"

"A hard heart, a melancholy temperament, and a large appetite," I
answered, with a laugh. "Besides, you have four or five years the better
of me."

"The worse, you mean. I'm as gray as a badger."

"Nonsense. It is your climate that makes people gray. How is Mrs.
Carvel, and Hermione,--she must have grown up since I saw her,--and Miss
Dabstreak?"

"She is after her pots and pans as usual," said John. "Mary and Hermy
are all right, thank you. We will have tea with them presently."

He turned and poked the fire with a huge pair of old-fashioned tongs. I
thought his cheerful manner subsided a little as he took me to my room.
He lingered a moment, till the man who brought in my boxes had
unstrapped them, and trimmed the candles, and was gone.

"Is there anything you would like?" he asked. "A little whiskey? a glass
of sherry?"

"No, thanks,--nothing. I will come down to tea in a few minutes. It is
in the same old room, I suppose?"

"Oh, yes, same as ever. By the bye, Griggs," he added suddenly, as he
laid his hand on the handle of the door, "how long is it since you were
here?"

"Three years and a month," I answered, after a moment's thought. "It
does not seem so long. I suppose that is because we have met abroad
since then."

"No, it does not seem long," said John Carvel, thoughtfully. Then he
opened the door, and went out without another word.

Nothing especially worthy of mention happened on that evening, nor on
the next day, nor for many days. I hunted a little, and shot a great
deal more, and spent many hours in the library. The weather improved in
the first week of December; it was rather warmer, and the scent lay very
well. I gave myself up to the pleasant country life, and enjoyed the
society of my host, without much thought of the present or care for the
future. Hermione had grown, since I had seen her, from a grave and
rather silent girl of seventeen to a somewhat less reserved young woman
of twenty, always beautiful, but apparently not much changed. Her
mother had taken her out in London during the previous season, and there
was occasionally some talk about London and society, in which the young
girl did not appear to take very much interest. With this exception the
people and things at Carvel Place were the same as I had always known
them. I was treated as one of the household, and was allowed to go my
own ways without question or interference. Of course, I had to answer
many questions about my wanderings and my doings in the last years, but
I am used to that and do not mind it.

All this sounds as though I were going to give you some quiet chronicle
of English country life, as if I were about to begin a report of
household doings: how Mrs. Carvel and Hermione went to church on Sunday;
how the Rev. Trumpington Soulsby used to stroll back with them across
the park on fine days, and how he and Miss Dabstreak raved over the
joyousness of a certain majolica plate; how the curate gently reproved,
yet half indulged, Chrysophrasia's erratic religionism; how Mrs. Carvel
distributed blankets to the old men and red cloaks to the old women; how
the deerhound followed Hermione like Mary's little lamb, and how the
worthy keeper, James Grubb, did not quite catch the wicked William
Saltmarsh in the act of setting a beautiful new brass wire snare at a
particular spot in the quickset hedge between the park and the
twelve-acre field, but was confident he would catch him the next time he
tried it, how Moses Skingle, the sexton, fell out with Mr. Speller, the
superannuated village schoolmaster, because the juvenile Spellers would
not refrain from the preparation of luscious mud pies upon the newly
made grave of the late Peter Sullins, farmer, whose promising heir had
not yet recovered sufficiently from the dissipation attending the
funeral to erect a monument to his uncle; and so on and so forth,
cackling through a volume or two of village chronicle, "and so home to
bed."

I do not care a straw for the ducks in the horse-pond, nor for the
naughty boy who throws stones at them, robs bird's-nests, and sets
snares for hares under the wire fence of Carvel Park. I blush to say I
have done most things of that kind myself, in one part of the world or
in another, and they no longer have any sort of interest for me. No, my
dear friend, the world is not yet turned into a farm-yard; there are
other things to tell of besides the mud pies of the Speller children and
the marks of little Billy Saltmarsh's hob-nailed shoes in the grass
where he set the snare. The Turks say that a fool has three points in
common with an ass,--he eats, he drinks, and he brays at other asses. I
must fain eat and drink; let me at least refrain from braying.

It is not every one who cares for the beauty of nature as reflected in a
horse-pond, or for the conversations of a class of people who have not
more than seven or eight hundred words in their language, and with whom
every word does not by any means correspond with an idea; we cannot all
be farmer's lads, nor, if we were, could each of us find a Wordsworth to
describe feelings we should certainly not possess.

I had been nearly a month at Carvel Place, and Christmas was
approaching. We sat one afternoon in the drawing-room, drinking tea.
John Carvel was turning over the leaves of a rare book he had just
received, before transferring it to its place in the library. His heavy
brows were contracted, and his large, clean hands touched the pages
lovingly. Mrs. Carvel was installed in her favorite upright chair near
an enormous student-lamp that had a pink shade, and her fingers were
busy with some sort of needle-work. She, too, was silent, and her gentle
face was bent over her hand. I can remember exactly how she always looks
when she is working, and how her soft brown hair, that is just turning a
little gray at the temples, waves above her forehead. Chrysophrasia
Dabstreak lay languidly extended upon a couch, her thin hands clasped
together in a studied attitude. She was bemoaning the evils of
civilization, and no one was listening to her, for Hermione and I were
engaged in putting a new silver collar round the neck of Fang; the great
hound sat up patiently between us, yawning prodigiously from time to
time, for the operation was tedious, and the patent lock of the collar
would not fasten.

"I was just going to say it was time the letters came," said Mrs.
Carvel, as the door opened and a servant entered with the post-bag. The
master of the house unlocked the leathern case, and distributed the
contents. We each received our share, and without ceremony opened our
letters. There was a short silence while we were all reading.

"Macaulay has got his leave," said Mrs. Carvel, joyfully. "Is not that
delightful! And he is going to bring--wait a minute--I cannot make out
the name--let me get nearer to the light, dear--John, look here, is it
not Paul Patoff? Look, dear!"

John looked. "It is certainly Paul Patoff," he said quietly. "I told
Macaulay to bring him."

"Gracious!" ejaculated Hermione.

"How extremely interesting!" said Miss Chrysophrasia. "I adore Russians!
They have such a joyous savor of the wild, free steppes!"

"You have exactly described the Russian of the steppes, Miss Dabstreak,"
I remarked. "His savor is so wild that it is perceptible at a great
distance. But Patoff is not at all a bad fellow. I met him in Teheran
last year. He had a trick of beating his servants which excited the
wildest admiration among the Persians. The Shah decorated him before he
left."

"Do you know him?" asked John Carvel quickly, as he caught my last
words.

"Yes. I was just telling Miss Dabstreak that I met Paul Patoff last
year. He was at the Russian legation in Teheran." John showed do
surprise, and relapsed into silence.

"He and Macaulay are both in Paris," said Mrs. Carvel, "and I suppose
Macaulay has made up his mind that we must know his cousin."

"Is not Professor Cutter coming, too, mamma?" asked Hermione. "I heard
papa say so the other day."

"Oh, dear, yes!" exclaimed Chrysophrasia, wearily. "Professor Cutter is
coming, with his nasty science, and his lenses, and his mathematics. Of
course he will wear those vivid green spectacles morning, noon, and
night,--such a dreadfully offensive color."

"Yes," said John, gazing down at his neat shoes, as he stood rubbing his
broad hands slowly together before the fire, "Cutter is coming, too.
What a queer party we shall be at Christmas."

And when Christmas came, we were a very queer party indeed.

At the prospect of seeing united, under an English roof, an English
family, consisting of a great manufacturer,--at the same time a
thorough-going country gentleman of old descent,--his wife, his
beautiful daughter, and his æsthetic sister-in-law, having with them as
guests the son of the master of the house, being a young English
diplomatist; an English professor, who had given up his professorship to
devote himself to the study of diseases of the mind; a Russian secretary
of the embassy, who had seen the world, and was thirty years old; and,
lastly, your humble slave of the pen, being an American,--at the
prospect of such a heterogeneous assembly of men and women, you will
suppose, my dear lady, that I am about to embark upon the cerulean
waters of a potentially platonic republic, humbly steering my craft by
the charts of a recent voyager, who, after making a noble but
ineffectual attempt to discover the Isles of the Blessed, appears to
have stumbled into the drawing-rooms of the Damned.

I am not going to do anything of the kind. My story is written for the
sole purpose of amusing you, and as a form of diversion for your
leisure moments I would select neither the Wordsworthian pastoral, nor
the platonic doctrine of Ideas. Mary Carvel would give her vote for the
Dalesman, and Chrysophrasia for Plato, but I have not consulted them;
and if I do not consult you, it is because I think I understand your
tastes. You will, moreover, readily understand that in telling this tale
I sometimes speak of things I did not actually see, because I know the
people concerned very well, and some of them told me at the time, and
have told me since, what they felt and thought about the things they did
and saw done. For myself, I am the man you have long known, Paul Griggs,
the American; a man of many acquaintances and of few friends, who has
seen the world, and is forty-three years of age, ugly and tough, not so
poor as I have been, not so good as I might be, melancholic by
temperament, and a little sour by force of circumstances.



VII.


It chanced, one evening, that I was walking alone through the park. I
had been on foot to the village to send a telegram, which I had not
cared to trust to a servant. The weather had suddenly cleared, and there
had been a sharp frost in the morning; towards midday it had thawed a
little, but by the time it was dark everything was frozen hard again.
The moon was nearly full, and shone brightly upon the frozen grass,
casting queer shadows through the bare branches of the trees; it was
very cold, and I walked fast; the brittle, frozen mud of the road broke
beneath my feet with a creaking, crunching sound, and startled the deep
stillness. As I neared the house the moon was before me, and the mass of
buildings cast a dark shadow.

Carvel Place is like many old country houses in England; it is a typical
dwelling of its kind, irregular, yet imposing, and though it has no
plan, for it has been added to and enlarged, and in part rebuilt, it is
yet harmonious and of good proportion. I had often reflected that it was
too large for the use of the present family, and I knew that there must
be a great number of rooms in the house which were never opened; but no
one had ever proposed to show them to me, and I was not sufficiently
curious to ask permission to visit the disused apartments. I had
observed, however, that a wing of the building ran into an inclosure,
surrounded by a wall seven or eight feet high, against which were ranged
upon the one side a series of hot-houses, while another formed the back
of a covered tennis court. The third wall of the inclosure was covered
with a lattice, upon which fruit trees had been trained without any
great success, and I had noticed that the lattice now completely
covered an old oak door which led into the inclosure. I had never seen
the door open, but I remembered very well that it was uncovered the last
time I had been at Carvel Place.

When I reached the house I was no longer cold, and the night was so
clear and sparkling that I idly strolled round the great place,
wandering across the frozen lawn and through the winding paths of the
flower garden beyond, till I came to the wall I have described, and
stood still, half wondering why the door had been covered over with
fruit trees, as though no one would ever wish to enter the house from
that side. The space could hardly be so valuable for gardening purposes,
I thought, for the slender peach-trees that were bound upon the lattice
on each side of the door had not thriven. There was something melancholy
about the unsuccessful attempt to cultivate the delicate southern fruit
in the unkindly air of England, and the branches and stems, all wrapped
in straw against the frost, looked unhappy and unnatural in the cold
moonlight. I stood looking at them, with my hands in my pockets,
thinking somewhat regretfully of my southern birthplace. I smiled at
myself and turned away, but as I went the very faintest echo of a laugh
seemed to come from the other side of the wall. It sounded disagreeably
in the stillness, and I slowly finished my walk around the house and
came back to the front door, still wondering who it was that had laughed
at me from behind the wall in the moonlight. There was certainly no
original reason in the nature of things why it should not chance that
some one should laugh on the other side of the wall just as I happened
to be standing before the closed gate. The inclosure was probably in
connection with the servants' apartments; or it might be the exclusive
privilege of Chrysophrasia to walk there, composing anapæstic verse to
the infinite faintness of the moon,--or anything. A quarter of an hour
later I was in the drawing-room drinking a cup of tea. I came in when
the others had finished reading their evening letters, and there were
none for me. The tea was cold. I wished I had walked half an hour
longer, and had not come into the drawing-room at all.

"Let me make you a fresh cup, Mr. Griggs," said Hermione; "do,--it will
be ready in a moment!"

I politely declined, and the conversation of the rest soon began where
it had left off. It appeared that Professor Cutter was expected that
night, and the son of the house, with Patoff, on the following day. It
was Thursday, and Christmas was that day week. John Carvel seemed
unusually depressed; his words were few and very grave, and he did not
smile, but answered in the shortest manner possible the questions
addressed to him. He thought Cutter might arrive at any moment. Hermione
hazarded a remark to the effect that the professor was rather dull.

"No, my dear," answered John, "he is not at all dull."

"But, papa, I thought he was so immensely learned"----

"He is very learned," said her father, shortly, and buried himself in
his newspaper, so that hardly anything was visible of him but his feet,
encased in exceedingly neat shoes; those nether extremities moved
impatiently from time to time. Chrysophrasia was not present, a
circumstance which made it seem likely that she might have been the
person who had laughed behind the wall. Mary Carvel, like her husband,
was unusually silent, and I was sitting not far from Hermione. She
looked at me after her father's curt answer to her innocent remark, and
smiled faintly.

The drawing-room where we sat exhibited a curious instance of the effect
produced upon inanimate things when subjected to the contact of persons
who differ widely from each other in taste. You smile, dear lady, at the
complicated form of expression. I mean merely that if two people who
like very different things live in the same room, each of them will try
to give the place the look he or she likes. At Carvel Place there were
four to be consulted, instead of two; for John had his own opinions as
to taste, and they were certainly sounder than those of his wife and
sister-in-law, and at least as clearly defined.

John Carvel liked fine pictures, and he had placed three or four in the
drawing-room,--a couple of good Hogarths, a beautiful woman's head by
Andrea del Sarto, and a military scene by Meissonnier,--about as
heterogeneous a quartette of really valuable works as could be got for
money; and John had given a great deal of money for them. Besides the
pictures, there stood in the drawing-room an enormous leathern
easy-chair, of the old-fashioned type with semicircular wings projecting
forward from the high back on each side, made to protect the rheumatic
old head of some ancestor who suffered from the toothache before the
invention of dentists. Near this stood a low, square, revolving
bookcase, which always contained the volumes which John was reading at
the time, to be changed from day to day as circumstances required.

Mary Carvel was, and is, an exceedingly religious woman, and her tastes
are to some extent the expression of her religious feelings. She has a
number of excellent engravings of celebrated pictures, such as Holbein's
Madonna, Raphael's Transfiguration, and the Dresden Madonna di San
Sisto; she owns the entire collection of chromo-lithographs published by
the Arundel Society, and many other reproductions of a similar nature.
Many of these she had hung in the drawing-room at Carvel Place. Here and
there, also, were little shelves of oak in the common Anglomaniac style
of woodwork, ornamented with trefoils, crosses, circles, and triangles,
and containing a curious collection of sacred literature, beginning with
the ancient volume entitled Wilberforce's View, including the poetry
published in a series of Lyras,--Lyra Anglicana, Lyra Germanica, and so
on,--culminating at last in the works of Dr. Pusey; the whole perhaps
exhibiting in a succinct form the stages through which Mary Carvel had
passed, or was still passing, in her religious convictions. And here
let me say at once that I am very far from intending to jest at those
same convictions of Mary Carvel's, and if you smile it is because the
picture is true, not because it is ridiculous. She may read what she
pleases, but the world would be a better place if there were more women
like her.

There were many other possessions of hers in the drawing-room: for
instance, upon the mantel-piece were placed three magnificent Wedgwood
urns, after Flaxman's designs, inherited from her father, and now of
great value; upon the tables there were several vases of old Vienna, but
of a green color, vivid enough to elicit Chrysophrasia's most eloquent
disapprobation; there were several embroideries of a sufficiently
harmless nature, the work of Mary Carvel's patient fingers, but
conceived in a style no longer popular; and on the whole, there was a
great number of objects in the drawing-room which belonged to her and by
which she set great store, but which bore decidedly the character of
English household decoration and furniture at the beginning of the
present century, and are consequently abhorrent to the true æsthete.

Chrysophrasia Dabstreak, however, had sworn to cast the shadow of beauty
over what she called the substance of the hideous, and to this end and
intention, by dint of honeyed eloquence and stinging satire, she had
persuaded John and Mary to allow her to insert stained glass in one of
the windows, which formerly opened upon and afforded a view of a certain
particularly brilliant flower bed. Beneath the many-colored light from
this Gothic window--for she insisted upon the pointed arch--Miss
Dabstreak had made her own especial corner of the drawing-room. There
one might see strange pots and plates, and withered rushes, and
fantastic greenish draperies of Eastern weft, which, however, would not
fetch five piastres a yard in the bazaar of Stamboul, curious
water-colors said to represent "impressions," though one would be shy of
meeting, beyond the bounds of an insane asylum, the individual whose
impressions could take so questionable a shape; lastly, the centre of
the collection, a "polka mazurka harmony in yellow," by Sardanapalus
Stiggins, the great impressionist painter of the day. Chrysophrasia paid
five hundred pounds for this little gem.

But it was not enough for Miss Dabstreak to have collected so many
worthless objects of price in her own little corner of the room. She had
encumbered the tables with useless articles of pottery; she had fastened
a green plate between the better of the two Hogarths and an Arundel
chromo-lithograph, and connected it with both the pictures by a drooping
scarf of faint pink silk; she had adorned the engraving of Raphael's
Transfiguration with a bit of Broussa embroidery, because it looked so
very Oriental; and she had bedizened Mary Carvel's water-color view of
Carisbrooke Castle with peacock's feathers, because they looked so very
English. There was no spot in the room where Chrysophrasia's hand had
not fallen, and often it had fallen heavily. She had respected John
Carvel's easy-chair and revolving bookcase, but she had respected
nothing else.

There was a fourth person, however, who had set her especial impress on
the appearance of the room where all met in common. I mean Hermione
Carvel. Educated and brought up among the conflicting tastes and views
of her parents and her aunt, she had imbibed some of the characteristics
of each, although in widely different degrees. At that time, perhaps,
the various traits which were united in her had not yet blended
harmoniously so as to form a satisfactory whole. The resultant of so
many more or less conflicting forces was prone to extremes of enthusiasm
or of indifference. Her heart was capable of feeling the warmest
sympathy, but was liable also to conceive unwarrantable antipathies; her
mind was of admirable quality, fairly well gifted and sensibly trained;
though not marvelously quick to understand, yet tenacious and slow to
forget. The constant attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable opinions
of her mother and aunt had given Hermione a certain versatility of
thought, and a certain capacity to see both sides of the question when
not under the momentary influence of her enthusiasm. She is, and was
even then, a fine type of the English girl who has grown up under the
most favorable circumstances; that is to say, with an excellent
education and a decided preference for the country. It is not necessary
to allow her any of the privileges and immunities usually granted to
exceptional people; in any ordinary position of life she would bear the
test of any ordinary difficulty very well. She inherits common sense
from her father, an honest country gentleman of the kind now
unfortunately growing every day more rare; a man not so countrified as
to break his connection with the intelligent world, nor so foolishly
ambitious as to abandon a happy life in the country in order to pursue
the mirage of petty political importance: a man who holds humbug in
supreme contempt, and having purged it from his being has still
something to fall back upon. From her mother Hermione inherits an
extreme conscientiousness in the things of every-day life; but whereas
in Mary Carvel this scrupulous pursuance of what is right is on the
verge of degenerating into morbid religionism, in Hermione it is
tempered by occasional bursts of enthusiasm, and relieved by a wholesome
and natural capacity for liking some people and disliking others.

In the drawing-room I have been describing, Hermione touched everything,
and did her best to cast over the various objects some grace, some air
of harmony, which should make the contrasted tastes of the rest of her
family less glaring and unpleasant to the eye. Her task was not easy,
and it was no fault of hers if the room was out of joint. Her love of
flowers showed itself everywhere, and she knew how to take advantage of
each inch of room on shelf, or table, or window-seat, filling all
available spaces with a profusion of roses, geraniums, and blossoms of
every kind that chanced to be in season. Flowers in a room will do what
nothing else can accomplish. The eye turns gladly to the living plant,
when wearied and strained with the incongruities of inanimate things. A
pot of pinks makes the lowliest and most dismal cottage chamber look gay
by comparison; a single rose in a glass of water lights up the most
dusty den of the most dusty student. A bit of climbing ivy converts a
hideous ruin into a bower, as the Alp roses and the Iva make a garden
for one short month of the roughest rocks in the Grisons. Only that
which lives and of which the life is beautiful can reconcile us to those
surroundings which would otherwise offend our sense of harmony, or
oppress us with a dullness even more deadly than mere ugliness can ever
be.

Hermione loves all flowers, and at Carvel Place she was the sweetest
blossom of them all. Her fresh vitality is of the contagious kind, and
even plants seem to revive and get new life from the touch of her small
fingers, as though feeling the necessity of growing like her. Her beauty
may not last. It is not of the imperious kind, nor even quite classic,
but it has a wonderful fineness and delicacy. Her soft brown hair coils
closely on her small, well-shaped head; her gentle, serious blue eyes
look tenderly on all that lives and has being within the circle of her
sight; her small mouth smiles graciously and readily, though sometimes a
little sadly; and her pleasant voice has a frank ring in it that is good
to hear. Her slight fingers, neither too long nor too short, are often
busy, but her labors are generally labors of love, and she is never
weary of them. Of middle height, she has the grace of a taller woman,
and the ease in motion which comes only from natural, healthy, elastic
strength, not weakened by enforced idleness, not overdeveloped by
abominable and unwomanly gymnastic exercises. Everything she does is
graceful.

It is very strange and interesting to see in her the combination of such
different elements. Even her aunt Chrysophrasia's queer nature is
represented, though it needs some ingenuity to trace the resemblance
between the two. There are indeed tones of the voice, phrases and
expressions, which seem to belong to particular families, and by which
one may sometimes discover the relationship. But the modification of
leading characteristics in the individual is not so easily detected.
Miss Dabstreak is eccentric, but the wild ideas which continue to
flourish in the æsthetic cells of Chrysophrasia's brain are softened and
made more gentle and delicate in Hermione, so that even if they were
inconsequent they would not seem offensive; though one might not admire
them, one could not despise them. The young girl loves all that is
beautiful: not as Chrysophrasia loves it, by sheer force of habitual
affectation, without discernment and without real enjoyment, but from
the bottom of her heart, from the well-springs of her own beautiful
soul; knowing and understanding the great divisions between the graceful
and the clumsy, between the true and the false, the lovely and the
unlovely. The extraordinary passion for the eccentric is tempered to an
honest and natural craving after the beautiful; the admixture of the
gentleness the girl has inherited from her saintly mother and of the
genuine common sense which characterizes her father has produced a
rational desire and ability to do good to every one. Mary Carvel is
sometimes exaggerated in her ideas of charity, and John on rare
occasions--very rarely--used to be a little too much inclined to the
practice of economy; "near" was the term applied by the village people.
It was at first with him but the reminiscence of poorer years, when
economy was necessary, and forethought was an indispensable element in
his life; but the tendency has remained and sometimes shows itself. All
that can be traced of this quality in the daughter is a certain power of
keen discernment, which saves her from being cheated by the sham paupers
who abound in the neighborhood of Carvel Place, and from being led into
spoiling the school-children with too many feasts of tea, jam, and
cake.

It is not easy to be brief in describing Hermione Carvel, because in her
fair self she combines a great many qualities belonging to contradictory
persons, which one would suppose impossible to unite in one harmonious
whole; and yet Hermione is one of the most harmonious persons I ever
knew. Nothing about her ever offended my sense of fitness. I often used
to wonder how she managed to be loved equally by the different members
of the household, but there is no doubt of the fact that all the members
of her family not only love her, but excuse readily enough those of
their own bad qualities which they fancy they recognize in her; for,
indeed, nothing ever seems bad in Hermione, and I doubt greatly whether
there is not some touch of white magic in her nature that protects her
and shields her, so that bad things turn to good when they come near
her. If she likes the curious notions of her aunt, she certainly changes
them so that they become delicate fancies, and agree together with the
gentle charity she has from her mother and the sterling honesty she gets
from her father. John sometimes shrugs his shoulders at what he calls
his wife's extraordinary faith in human nature, and both he and Mary are
sometimes driven to the verge of distraction by Chrysophrasia's
perpetual moaning over civilization; but no one is ever out of temper
with Hermione, nor is Hermione ever impatient with any one of the three.
She is the peace-maker, the one whose sympathy never fails, whose
gentleness is never ruffled, and whose fair judgment is never at fault.

When John Carvel answered Hermione's question about Professor Cutter by
a simple affirmation to the effect that he was a very learned man, the
young girl did not press her father with any more inquiries, but turned
to me.

"Do you not think learned people are very often dull, Mr. Griggs?" she
asked.

"Oppressively," I answered.

"What makes them so?"

"It is the very low and common view which they take of life," put in
Miss Dabstreak, who entered the room while we were speaking, and sank
upon the couch with a little sigh. "They have no aspirations after the
beautiful,--and what else can satisfy the human mind? The Greeks were
never dull."

"What do you call dull?" asked Mrs. Carvel very mildly.

"Oh--anything; parliamentary reports, for instance, and agricultural
shows, and the Rural Dean,--anything of that sort," answered Miss
Chrysophrasia languidly.

"In other words, civilization as compared with barbarism," I suggested.
"It is true that there cannot be much boredom among barbarous tribes who
are always scalping their enemies or being scalped themselves; those
things help to pass the time."

"Yes, scalping must be most interesting," murmured Chrysophrasia, with
an air of conviction.

Hermione laughed.

"I really believe you would like to see it done, aunt Chrysophrasia,"
said she.

"Hermy, Hermy, what dreadful ideas you have!" exclaimed Mrs. Carvel, in
gentle horror. But she immediately returned to her embroidery, and
relapsed into silence.

"It is Mr. Griggs, mamma," said Hermione, still laughing. "He agrees
with me that learned people are all oppressively dull, and that the only
tolerably exciting society is found among scalping Indians."

"Did you not once scalp somebody yourself, Griggs?" asked John, suddenly
lowering his newspaper.

"Not quite," I answered; "but I once shaved a poodle with a
pocket-knife. Perhaps you were thinking of that?"

While I spoke there was a sound of wheels without, and John rose to his
feet. He seemed impatient.

"That must be Cutter at last'" he exclaimed, moving towards the door
that led into the hall. "I thought he was never coming."

I rose also, and followed him. It was Cutter. The learned professor
arrived wrapped in a huge ulster overcoat, his hands in the deep pockets
thereof, and the end of an extinguished cigar between his teeth. He
furtively disposed of the remains of the weed before shaking hands with
our host. After the first greetings John led him away to his room, and I
remained standing in the hall. The professor's luggage was rather
voluminous, and various boxes, bags, and portmanteaus bore the labels of
many journeys. The men brought them in from the dog-cart; the strong cob
pawed the gravel a little, and the moonlight flashed back from the
silver harness, from the smooth varnished dashboard, the polished
chains, and the plated lamps. I stood staring out of the door, hardly
seeing anything. Indeed, I was lost in a fruitless effort of memory. The
groom gathered up the reins and drove away, and presently I was aware
that Stubbs, the butler, was offering me a hat, as a hint, I supposed,
that he wanted to shut the front door. I mechanically covered my head
and strolled away.

I was trying to remember where I had seen Professor Cutter. I could not
have known him well, for I never forget a man I have met three or four
times; and yet his face was perfectly familiar to me, and came vividly
before me as I paced the garden walks. Instinctively I walked round the
house again, and paused before the door that had attracted my attention
an hour earlier. I listened, but heard nothing, and still I tried to
recall my former meeting with Cutter. Strange, I thought, that I should
seem to know him so well, and that I should nevertheless be unable to
connect him in my mind with any date, or country, or circumstance. In
vain I went over many scenes of my life, endeavoring to limit this
remembrance to a particular period. I argued that our meeting, if we
really had met, could not have taken place many years ago, for I
recognized exactly the curling gray hairs in the professor's beard, the
wrinkles in his forehead, and a slight mark upon one cheek, just below
the eye. I recollected the same spectacles; the same bushy, cropped gray
hair; the same massive, square head set upon a short but powerful body;
the same huge hands, spotlessly clean, the big nails kept closely pared
and polished, but so large that they might have belonged to an extinct
species of gigantic man. The whole of him and his belongings, to the
very clothes he wore, seemed familiar to me and witnesses to his
identity; but though I did my best for half an hour, I could not bring
back one circumstance connected with him. I grew impatient and returned
to the house, for it was time to dress for dinner, and I felt cold as I
strolled about in the frosty moonlight.

We met again before dinner, for a few minutes, in the drawing-room. I
went near to the professor, and examined his appearance very carefully.
His evening dress set off the robust proportions of his frame, and the
recollection I had of him struck me more forcibly than ever. I am not
superstitious, but I began to fancy that we must have met in some former
state, in some other sphere. He stood before the fire, rubbing his hands
and answering all manner of questions that were put to him. He appeared
to be an old friend of the family, to judge by the conversation, and yet
I was positively certain that I had never seen him at Carvel Place. He
knew all the family, however, and seemed familiar with their tastes and
pursuits: he inquired about John's manufacturing interests, and about
Mrs. Carvel's poor people; he asked Hermione several questions about the
recent exhibitions of flowers, and discussed with Chrysophrasia a sale
of majolica which had just taken place in London. After this round of
remarks I suspected that the professor would address himself to me, for
his gray eyes rested on me from time to time with a look of recognition.
But he held his peace, and we presently went to dinner.

Professor Cutter talked much and talked well, in a continuous,
consistent manner that was satisfactory for a time, but a little
wearisome in the long run. His ideas were often brilliant, and his
expression of them was always original, but he had an extraordinary
faculty of dominating the conversation. Even John Carvel, who knew a
great deal in his way, found it hard to make any headway against the
professor's eloquence, though I could sometimes see that he was far from
being convinced. The professor had been everywhere and had seen most
things; he talked with absolute conviction of what he had seen, and
avoided talking of what he had not seen, doubtless inferring that it was
not worth seeing. Nevertheless, he was not a disagreeable person, as
such men often are; on the contrary, there was a charm of manner about
him that was felt by every one present. I longed for the meal to be
over, however, for I intended to seize the first opportunity which
presented itself of asking him whether he remembered where we had met
before.

I was destined to remain in suspense for some time. We had no sooner
risen from dinner than John Carvel came up to me and spoke in a low
voice.

"Will you excuse me if I leave you alone, Griggs?" he said. "I have very
important business with Professor Cutter, which will not keep until
to-morrow. We will join you in the drawing-room in about an hour."

It was nothing to me if the two men had business together; I was
sufficiently intimate in the house to be treated without ceremony, and I
did not care for anybody's company until I could find what I was
searching for in the forgotten corners of my brain.

"Do not mind me," I answered, and I retired into the smoking-room, and
began to turn over the evening papers. How long I read I do not know,
nor whether the news of the day was more or less interesting and
credible than usual; I do not believe that an hour elapsed, either, for
an hour is a long time when a man is not interested in what he is doing,
and is trying to recall something to his mind. I cannot even tell why I
so longed to recollect the professor's face; I only remember that the
effort was intense, but wholly fruitless. I lay back in the deep
leathern easy-chair, and all sorts of visions flitted before my
half-closed eyes,--visions of good and visions of evil, visions of
yesterday and visions of long ago. Somehow I fell to thinking about the
lattice-covered door in the wall, and I caught myself wondering who had
been behind it when I passed; and then I laughed, for I had made up my
mind that it must have been Miss Chrysophrasia, who had entered the
drawing-room five minutes after I did. I sat staring at the fire. I was
conscious that some one had entered the room, and presently the
scratching of a match upon something rough roused me from my reverie. I
looked round, and saw Professor Cutter standing by the table.

It sometimes happens that a very slight thing will recall a very long
chain of circumstances; a look, the intonation of a word, the attitude
of a moment, will call up other looks and words and attitudes in quick
succession, until the chain is complete. So it happened to me, when I
saw the learned professor standing by the table, with a cigar in his
mouth, and his great gray eyes fixed upon me from behind his enormous
spectacles. I recognized the man, and the little I knew of him came back
to me.

The professor is one of the most learned specialists in neurology and
the study of the brain now living; he is, moreover, a famous
anthropologist. He began his career as a surgeon, and would have been
celebrated as an operator had he not one day inherited a private
fortune, which permitted him to abandon his surgical practice in favor
of a special branch for which he knew himself more particularly fitted.
So soon as I recalled the circumstances of our first meeting I realized
that I had been in his company only a few moments, and had not known his
name.

He came and sat himself down in an easy-chair by my side, and puffed in
silence at a big cigar.

"We have met before," I said. "I could not make you out at first. You
were at Weissenstein last year. You remember that affair?"

Professor Cutter looked at me curiously for several seconds before he
answered.

"You are the man who let down the rope," he said at last. "I remember
you now very well."

There was a short pause.

"Did you ever hear any more of that lady?" asked he, presently.

"No, I did not even know her name, any more than I knew yours," I
replied. "I took you for a physician, and the lady for your patient."

We heard steps on the polished floor outside the smoking-room.

"If I were you, I would not say anything to Carvel about that matter,"
said the professor quickly.

The door opened, and John entered the room. He was a little pale and
looked nervous.

"Ah," he ejaculated, "I thought you would fraternize over the tobacco."

"We are doing our best," said I.

"It is written that the free should be brothers and equal," said the
professor, with a laugh.

"I never knew two brothers who were equal," said Carvel, in reflective
tones. "I do not know why the ideal freedom and equality, attaching to
the ideal brothers, should not be as good as any other visionary aim for
tangible earthly government; but it certainly does not seem so easy of
realization, nor so sound in the working, as our good English principle
that exceptions prove the rule, and that the more exceptions there are
the better the rule will be."

"Is that speech an attack upon American freedom?" asked the professor,
laughing a little. "I believe Mr. Griggs is an American."

"No, indeed. Why should I attack American freedom?" said John.

"American freedom is not so easily attacked," I remarked. "It eludes
definition and rejects political paradox. No one ever connects our
republic with the fashionable liberty-fraternity-and-equality doctrines
of European emancipation; still less with the communistic idea that,
although men have very different capacities for originating things, all
men have an equal right to destroy them."

"Griggs is mounted upon his hobby," remarked John Carvel, stretching his
feet out towards the fire. The professor turned the light of his
spectacles upon me, and puffed a cloud of smoke.

"Are you a political enthusiast and a rider of hobby-horses, Mr.
Griggs?" he asked.

"I do not know; you must ask our host."

"Pardon me. I think you know very well," said the professor. "I should
say you belonged to a class of persons who know very well what they
think."

"How do you judge?"

"That is, of all questions a man can ask, the most difficult to answer.
How do you judge of anything?"

"By applying the test of past experience to present fact," I replied.

"Then past experience is that by which I judge. How can you expect me to
tell you the whole of my past experience, in order that you may
understand how my judgment is formed? It would take years."

"You are a pair of very singular men," remarked John Carvel. "You seem
to take to argument as fish to the water. You ought to be successful in
a school of walking philosophers."

John seemed more depressed than I had ever seen him, and only made an
observation from time to time, as though to make a show of hospitality.
The professor interested me, but I could see that we were boring Carvel.
The conversation languished, and before long the latter proposed that we
should go into the drawing-room for half an hour before bed-time.

We found the ladies seated around the fire. Their voices fell suddenly
as we entered the room, and all of them looked towards John and the
professor, as though expecting something. It struck me that they had
been talking of some matter which was not intended for our ears.

"We have been making plans for Christmas," said Mrs. Carvel, as though
to break the awkward silence that followed our entrance.



VIII.


Early on the following morning John Carvel came to my room. He looked
less anxious than on the previous night, but he was evidently not
altogether his former self.

"Would you care to drive to the station and meet those boys?" he asked,
cheerfully.

The weather was bright and frosty, and I was glad enough of an excuse
for being alone for half an hour with my friend. I assented, therefore,
to his proposition, and presently we were rattling along the hard road
through the park. The hoar-frost was on the trees and on the blue-green
frozen grass beneath them, and on the reeds and sedges beside the pond,
which was overspread with a sheet of black ice. The breath flew from the
horses' nostrils in white clouds to right and left, and the low morning
sun flashed back from the harness, and made the little icicles and laces
of frost upon the trees shine like diamonds.

"Carvel," I said presently, as we spun past the lodge, through the great
iron gates, "I am not inquisitive, but it is easy to see that there is
something going on in your house which is not agreeable to you. Will you
tell me frankly whether you would like me to go away?"

"Not for worlds," my companion ejaculated, and he turned a shade paler
as he spoke. "I would rather tell you all about it--only"---- He paused.

"Don't," said I. "I don't want to know. I merely thought you might
prefer to be left free of outsiders at present."

"We hardly look upon you as an outsider, Griggs," said John, quietly.
"You have been here so much and we have been so intimate that you are
almost like one of the family. Besides, you know this young nephew of my
wife's, Paul Patoff; and your knowing him will make matters a little
easier. I am not at all sure I shall like him."

"I think you will. At all events, I can give you some idea of him."

"I wish you would," answered John.

"He is a thorough Russian in his ideas and an Englishman in
appearance,--perhaps you might say he is more like a Scotchman. He is
fair, with blue eyes, a brown mustache, and a prominent nose. He is
angular in his movements and rather tall. He has a remarkable talent for
languages, and is regarded as a very promising diplomatist. His temper
is violent and changeable, but he has excellent manners and is full of
tact. I should call him an extremely clever fellow in a general way, and
he has done wisely in the selection of his career."

"That is not a bad description. Is there anything against him?"

"I cannot say; I only knew him in Persia,--a chance acquaintance. People
said he was very eccentric."

"Eccentric?" asked John. "How?"

"Moody, I suppose, because he would sometimes shut himself up for days,
and see nobody unless the minister sent for him. He used to beat his
native servants when he was in a bad humor, and was said to be a
reckless sort of fellow."

"I hope he will not indulge his eccentricities here. Heaven knows, he
has reason enough for being odd, poor fellow. We must make the best of
him," continued John hurriedly, as though regretting his last remark,
"and you must help us to amuse him and keep him out of mischief. Those
Russians are the very devil, sometimes, as I have no doubt you know, and
just at present our relations with them are not of the best; but, after
all, he is my nephew and one of the family, so that we must do what we
can for him, and avoid trouble. Macaulay likes him, and I dare say he
likes Macaulay. They will get on together very well."

"Yes--perhaps so--though I do not see what the two can have in common,"
I answered. "Macaulay can hardly have much sympathy for Patoff's
peculiarities, however much he may like the man himself."

"Macaulay is very young, although he has seen something of the world. He
has not outgrown the age which mistakes eccentricity for genius and bad
temper for boldness. We shall see,--we shall see very soon. They will
both hate Cutter, with his professorial wisdom and his immense
experience of things they have never seen. How do you like him
yourself?"

"Without being congenial to me, he represents what I would like to be
myself."

"Would you change with him, if you could?" asked John.

"No, indeed. I, in my person, would like to be what he is in his,--that
is all. People often talk of changing. No man alive would really
exchange his personality for that of another man, if he had the chance.
He only wishes to adorn what he most admires in himself with those
things which, in his neighbor, excite the admiration of others. He
meditates no change which does not give his vanity a better appearance
to himself, and his reputation a dash of more brilliant color in the
popular eye."

"Perhaps you are right," said John. "At all events, the professor has
qualities that any man might envy."

We reached the station just as the train ran in, and Macaulay Carvel and
Patoff waved their hats from the carriage window. In a moment we were
all shaking hands upon the platform.

"Papa, this is cousin Paul," said Macaulay, and he turned to greet me
next. He is a good-looking fellow, with rather delicate features and a
quiet, conscientious sort of expression, exquisite in his dress and
scrupulous in his manners, with more of his mother's gentleness than of
his father's bold frankness in his brown eyes. His small hand grasped
mine readily enough, but seemed nerveless and lacking in vitality, a
contrast to Paul Patoff's grip. The Russian was as angular as ever, and
his wiry fingers seemed to discharge an electric shock as they touched
mine. I realized that he was a very tall man, and that he was far from
ugly. His prominent nose and high cheek-bones gave a singular eagle-like
look to his face, and his cold, bright eyes added to the impression. He
lacked grace of form, but he had plenty of force, and though his
movements were sometimes sudden and ungainly he was not without a
certain air of nobility. His brown mustache did not altogether hide the
half-scornful expression of his mouth.

"How is everybody?" asked Macaulay Carvel of his father. "We shall have
a most jolly Christmas, all together."

"Well, Mr. Griggs," said Patoff to me, "I did not expect, when we parted
in Persia, that we should meet again in my uncle's house, did you? You
will hardly believe that this is my first visit to England, and to my
relations here."

"You will certainly not be taken for a foreigner here," I said,
laughing.

"Oh, of course not. You see my mother is English, so that I speak the
language. The difficulty for me will lie in learning the customs. The
English have so many peculiar habits. Is Professor Cutter at the house?"

"Yes. You know him?"

"Very well. He has been my mother's physician for some time."

"Indeed--I was not aware that he practiced as a physician." I was
surprised by the news, and a suspicion crossed my mind that the lady at
Weissenstein might have been Patoff's mother. Instantly the meaning of
the professor's warning flashed upon me,--I was not to mention that
affair in the Black Forest to Carvel. Of course not. Carvel was the
brother-in-law of the lady in question. However, I kept my own counsel
as we drove rapidly homewards. The sun had risen higher in the cloudless
sky, and the frozen ground was beginning to thaw, so that now and then
the mud splashed high from under the horses' hoofs. The vehicle in which
we drove was a mail phaeton, and Macaulay sat in front by his father's
side, while Patoff and I sat behind. We chatted pleasantly along the
road, and in half an hour were deposited at Carvel Place, where the
ladies came out to meet us, and the new cousin was introduced to every
one. He seemed to make himself at home very easily, and I think the
first impression he produced was favorable. Mrs. Carvel held his hand
for several seconds, and looked up into his cold blue eyes as though
searching for some resemblance to his mother, and he met her gentle look
frankly enough. Chrysophrasia eyed him and eyed him again, trying to
discover in him the attributes she had bestowed upon him in her
imagination; he was certainly a bold-looking fellow, and she was not
altogether disappointed. She allowed her hand to linger in his, and her
sentimental eyes turned upwards towards him with a look that was
intended to express profound sympathy. As for Paul, he looked at his
aunt Chrysophrasia with a certain surprise, and he looked upon Hermione
with a great admiration as she came forward and put out her hand. John
Carvel stood near by, and I thought his expression changed as he saw the
glance his nephew bestowed upon his daughter. I slipped away to the
library, and left the family party to themselves. Professor Cutter had
not yet appeared, and I hoped to find him. Sure enough, he was among the
books. Three or four large volumes lay open upon a table near the
window, and the sturdy professor was turning over the leaves, holding a
pencil in his mouth and a sheet of paper in one hand, the image of a
student in the pursuit of knowledge. I went straight up to him.

"Professor Cutter," I said, "you asked me last night whether I had ever
heard anything more of the lady with whom I met you at Weissenstein. I
have heard of her this morning."

The scientist took the pencil from his mouth, and thrust his hands into
his pockets, gazing upon me through the large round lenses of his
spectacles. He glanced towards the door before he spoke.

"Well, what have you heard?" he asked.

"Only that she was Paul Patoff's mother," I answered.

"Nothing else?"

"Nothing."

"And how did you come by the information, if you please?" he inquired.

"Very simply. Paul Patoff volunteered to tell me that you had been his
mother's physician for some time. I remembered that you warned me not to
speak of the Weissenstein affair to our friend Carvel; that was natural
enough, since the lady was his sister-in-law. She did not look at all
like Paul, it is true, but you are not in the habit of playing
physician, and it is a thousand to one that you have attended no one
else in the last year who is in any way connected with John Carvel."

The learned doctor smiled.

"You have made a very good guess, Mr. Griggs," he said. "Paul Patoff is
a silly fellow enough, or he would not have spoken so plainly. Why do
you tell me that you have found me out?"

"Because I imagine that you are still interested in the lady, and that
you had better be informed of everything connected with the case."

"The case--yes--it is a very singular case, and I am intensely
interested in it. Besides, it has very nearly cost me my reputation, as
well as my life. I assure you I have rarely had to do with such a case,
nor have I ever experienced such a sensation as when I went over the
cliff at Weissenstein after Madame Patoff."

"Probably not," I remarked. "I never saw a braver thing more
successfully accomplished."

"There is small courage in acting under necessity," said the professor,
walking slowly across the room towards the fire. "If I had not rescued
my patient, I should have been much more injured than if I had broken my
neck in the attempt. I was responsible for her. What would have become
of the 'great neurologist,' the celebrated 'mad-doctor,' as they call
me, if one of the few patients to whom I ever devoted my whole personal
attention had committed suicide under my very eyes? You can understand
that there was something more than her life and mine at stake."

"I never knew exactly how it happened," I replied. "I was looking out of
my window, when I saw a woman fall over the balcony below me. Her
clothes caught in the crooked branches of a wild cherry tree that grew
some ten feet below; and as she struggled, I saw you leaning over the
parapet, as if you meant to scramble down the face of the cliff after
her. I had a hundred feet of manilla rope which I was taking with me to
Switzerland for a special expedition, and I let it down to you. The
people of the inn came to my assistance, and we managed to haul you up
together, thanks to your knowing how to tie the rope around you both.
Then I saw you down-stairs for a few minutes and you told me the lady
was not hurt. I left almost immediately. I never knew what led to the
accident."

Professor Cutter passed his heavy hand slowly over his thick gray hair,
and looked pensively into the fire.

"It was simple enough," he said at last. "I was paying our bill to the
landlord, and in doing so I turned my back upon Madame Patoff for a
moment. She was standing on a low balcony outside the window, and she
must have thrown herself over. Luckily she was dressed in a gown of
strong Scotch stuff, which did not tear when it caught in the tree. It
was the most extraordinary escape I ever saw."

"I should think so, indeed. But why did she want to kill herself? Was
she insane?"

"Are people always insane who try to kill themselves?" asked the
professor, eying me keenly through his glasses.

"Very generally they are. I suppose that she was."

"That is precisely the question," said the scientist. "Insanity is an
expression that covers a multitude of sins of all kinds, but explains
none of them, nor is itself explained. If I could tell you what insanity
is, I could tell you whether Madame Patoff was insane or not. I can say
that a man possesses a dog, because I can classify the dogs I have seen
all over the world. But supposing I had never met any specimen of the
canine race but a King Charles spaniel, and on seeing a Scotch deerhound
in the possession of a friend was told that the man had a 'dog:' I
should be justified in doubting whether the deerhound was a dog at all
in the sense in which the tiny spaniel--the only dog I had ever
seen--represented the canine race in my mind and experience. The
biblical 'devil,' which 'possessed' men, took as many shapes and
characteristics as the _genus_ 'dog' does: there was the devil that
dwelt in tombs, the devil that tore its victim, the devil that entered
into swine, the devil that spoke false prophecies, and many more. It is
the same with insanity. No two mad people are alike. If I find a person
with any madness I know, I can say he is mad; but if I find a person
acting in a very unusual way under the influence of strong and
protracted emotion, I am not justified in concluding that he is crazy. I
have not seen everything in the world yet. I have not seen every kind of
dog, nor every kind of devil, nor every kind of madness."

"You choose strange illustrations," I said, "but you speak clearly."

"Strange cases and strange examples. Insanity is the strangest phase of
human nature, because it is the least common state of humanity. If a
majority of men were mad, they would have a right to consider themselves
sane, and sane men crazy. Your original question was whether, when she
attempted suicide, Madame Patoff were sane or not. I do not know. I have
known many persons to attempt to take their lives when, according to all
their other actions, they were perfectly sane. The question of their
sanity could be decided by placing a large number of sensible people in
similar circumstances, in order to see whether the majority of them
would kill themselves or not. That sort of experiment is not likely to
be tried. I found Madame Patoff placed in very extraordinary
circumstances, but I did not know her before she was so placed. The case
interests me exceedingly. I am still trying to understand it."

"You speak as though you were still treating it," I remarked.

"A physician, in his imagination, will continue to study a case for
years after it has passed out of his treatment," answered my companion.
"I must go and see Paul, however, since he was good enough to mention me
to you." Whereupon Professor Cutter buttoned up his coat and went away,
leaving me to my reflections by the library fire.

If Carvel had intended to have a family party in his house at Christmas,
including his nephew whom he had never seen, and whose mother had been
mad, and the great scientist who had attended her, it seemed strange
that he should have asked me as directly as he had done to spend the
whole winter under his roof. I had never been asked for so long a visit
before, and had never been treated with such confidence and received so
intimately as I now was. I could not help wondering whether I was to be
told the reason of what was going on, whether, indeed, anything was
going on at all, and whether the air of depression and mystery which I
thought I observed were not the result of my own imagination, rather
than of any actual foundation in fact. The professor might be making a
visit for his pleasure, but I knew how valuable his time must be, and I
wondered how he could afford to spend it in mere amusement. I
remembered John Carvel's hesitation as we drove to the station that
morning, and his evident annoyance when I proposed to leave. He knew me
well enough to say, "All right, if you don't mind, run up to town for a
day or two," but he had not said it. He had manifested the strongest
desire that I should stay, and I had determined to comply with his
request. At the same time I was left entirely in the dark as to what was
going on in the family, and whispered words, conversations that ceased
abruptly on my approach, and many other little signs told me beyond all
doubt that something was occurring of which I had no knowledge. Without
being inquisitive, it is hard to live in such surroundings without
having one's curiosity roused, and the circumstance of my former meeting
with the professor, now so suddenly illuminated by the discovery that
the lady whose life he had saved was the sister-in-law of our host, led
me to believe, almost intuitively, that the mystery, if mystery there
were, was connected in some way with Madame Patoff. As I thought of her,
the memory of the little inn, the Gasthof zum Goldenen Anker, in
Weissenstein, came vividly back to me. The splash of the plunging Nagold
was in my ears, the smell of the boundless pine forest was in my
nostrils; once more I seemed to be looking down from the upper window of
the hostelry upon the deep ravine, a sheer precipice from the back of
the house, broken only by some few struggling trees that appeared
scarcely able to find roothold on the straight fall of rock,--one tree
projecting just below the foundations of the inn, ten feet lower than
the lowest window, a knotted wild cherry, storm-beaten and crooked,--and
then, suddenly, something of uncertain shape, huddled together and
falling from the balcony down the precipice,--a woman's figure, caught
in the gnarled boughs of the cherry-tree, hanging and swinging over the
abyss, while shriek on shriek echoed down to the swollen torrent and up
to the turrets of the old inn in an agonized reverberation of horror.

It was a fearful memory, and the thought of being brought into the
company of the woman whose life I had seen so risked and so saved was
strange and fascinating. Often and often I had wondered about her fate,
speculating upon the question whether her fall was due to accident or to
the intention of suicide, and I had tried to realize the terrible waking
when she found herself saved from the destruction she sought by the man
I had seen,--perhaps by the very man from whom she was endeavoring to
escape. I was thrown off my balance by being so suddenly brought face to
face with this woman's son, the tall, blue-eyed, awkward fine gentleman,
Paul Patoff. I sat by the library fire and thought it all over, and I
said to myself at last, "Paul Griggs, thou art an ass for thy pains, and
an inquisitive idiot for thy curiosity." I, who am rarely out of conceit
with myself, was disgusted at my lack of dignity at actually desiring to
find out things that were in no way my business, nor ever concerned me.
So I took a book and fell to reading. Far off in the house I could hear
voices now and then, the voices of the family making the acquaintance of
their new-found relation. The great fire blazed upon the broad hearth
within, and the wintry sun shone brightly without, and there came
gradually upon me the delight of comfort that reigns within a luxurious
library when the frost is biting without, and there is no scent upon the
frozen fields,--the comfort that lies in the contrasts we make for
ourselves against nature; most of all, the peace that a wanderer on the
face of the earth, as I am, can feel when he rests his weary limbs in
some quiet home, half wishing he might at last be allowed to lay down
the staff and scrip, and taste freely of the world's good things, yet
knowing that before many days the devil of unrest will drive him forth
again upon his road. So I sat in John Carvel's library, and read his
books, and enjoyed his cushioned easy-chair with the swinging desk; and
I envied John Carvel his home, and his quiet life, and his defenses
against intrusion, saying that I also might be made happy by the
trifling addition of twenty thousand pounds a year to my income.

But I was not long permitted to enjoy the undisturbed possession of this
temple of sweet dreams, reveling in my imagination at the idea of what I
should do if I possessed such a place. The door of the library opened
suddenly with the noise of many feet upon the polished floor.

"And this is the library," said the voice of Hermione, who led the way,
followed by her mother and aunt and Paul; John Carvel brought up the
rear, quietly looking on while his daughter showed the new cousin the
wonders of Carvel Place.

"This is the library," she repeated, "and this is Mr. Griggs," she
added, with a little laugh, as she discovered me in the deep easy-chair.
"This is the celebrated Mr. Griggs. His name is Paul, like yours, but
otherwise he is not in the least like you, I fancy. Everybody knows him,
and he knows everybody."

"We have met before," said Patoff, "not only this morning, but in the
East. Mr. Griggs certainly seemed to know everybody there, from the Shah
to the Greek consul. What a splendid room! It must have taken you years
of thought to construct such a literary retreat, uncle John," he added,
turning to the master of the house as he spoke.

Indeed, Paul Patoff appeared much struck with everything he saw at
Carvel Place. I left my chair and joined the party, who wandered through
the rooms and into the great conservatory, and finally gravitated to the
drawing-room. Patoff examined everything with an air of extreme
interest, and seemed to understand intuitively the tastes of each member
of the household. He praised John's pictures and Mrs. Carvel's
engravings; he admired Chrysophrasia's stained-glass window, and her
pots, and plates, and bits of drapery, he glanced reverently at Mrs.
Carvel's religious books, and stopped now and then to smell the flowers
Hermione loved. He noted the view upon the park from the south windows,
and thought the disposal of the shrubbery near the house was a
masterpiece of landscape gardening. As he proceeded, surrounded by his
relations, remarking upon everything he saw, and giving upon all things
opinions which marvelously flattered the individual tastes of each one
of the family, it became evident that he was making a very favorable
impression upon them.

"It is delightful to show you things," said Hermione. "You are so
appreciative."

"It needs little skill to appreciate, where everything is so beautiful,"
he answered. "Indeed," he continued, addressing himself to all present,
"your home is the most charming I ever saw: I had no idea that the
English understood luxury so well. You know that with us Continental
people you have the reputation of being extravagant, even magnificent,
in your ideas, but of being also ascetics in some measure,--loving to
make yourselves strangely uncomfortable, fond of getting very hot, and
of taking very cold baths, and of living on raw meat and cold potatoes
and all manner of strange things. I do not see here any evidences of
great asceticism."

"How wonderfully he speaks English!" exclaimed Mrs. Carvel, aside, to
her husband.

"I should say," continued Paul, without noticing the flattering
interruption, "that you are the most luxurious people in the world, that
you have more taste than any people I have ever known, and that if I had
had the least idea how charming my relations were, I should have come
from our Russian wilds ten years ago to visit you and tell you how
superior I think you are to ourselves."

Paul laughed pleasantly as he made this speech, and there was a little
murmur of applause.

"We were very different, ten years ago," said John Carvel. "In the first
place, there was no Hermione then, to do the honors and show you the
sights. She was quite a little thing, ten years ago."

"That would have made no difference in the place, though," said
Hermione, simply.

"On the contrary," said Paul. "I am inclined to think, on reflection,
that I would have postponed my visit, after all, for the sake of having
my cousin for a guide."

"Ah, how gracefully these wild northern men can turn a phrase!"
whispered Chrysophrasia in my ear,--"so strong and yet so tender!" She
could not take her eyes from her nephew, and he appeared to understand
that he had already made a conquest of the æsthetic old maid, for he
took her admiration for granted, and addressed himself to Mrs. Carvel;
not losing sight of Chrysophrasia, however, but looking pleasantly at
her as he talked, though his words were meant for her sister.

"It is the whole atmosphere of this life that is delightful, and every
little thing seems so harmonious," he said. "You have here the solidity
of traditional English country life, combined with the comforts of the
most advanced civilization; and, to make it all perfection, you have at
every turn the lingering romance of the glorious mediæval life," with a
glance at Miss Dabstreak, "that middle age which in beauty was the prime
of age, from which began and spread all your most glorious ideas, your
government, your warfare, your science. Did you never have an alchemist
in your family, Uncle John? Surely he found for you the golden secret,
and it is his touch which has beautified these old walls!"

"I don't know," said John Carvel.

"Indeed there was!" cried Chrysophrasia, in delight. "I have found out
all about him. He was not exactly an alchemist; he was an astrologer,
and there are the ruins of his tower in the park. There are some old
books up-stairs, upon the Black Art, with his name in them, Johannes
Carvellius, written in the most enchanting angular handwriting."

"I believe there was somebody of that name," remarked John.

"They are full of delicious incantations for raising the devil,--such
exquisite ceremonies, with all the dress described that you must wear,
and the phases of the moon, and hazel wands cut at midnight. Imagine how
delightful!"

"The tower in the park is a beautiful place," said Hermione. "I have it
all filled with flowers in summer, and the gardener's boy once saw a
ghost there on All Hallow E'en."

"You must take me there," said Paul, smiling good-humoredly at the
reference to the alchemist. "I have a passion for ruins, and I had no
idea that you had any; nothing seems ruined here, and yet everything
appears old. What a delightful place!" Paul sat far back in his
comfortable chair, and inserted a single eyeglass in the angle between
his heavy brow and his aquiline nose; his bony fingers were spotless,
long, and white, and as he sat there he had the appearance of a
personage receiving the respectful homage of a body of devoted
attendants, the indescribable air of easy superiority and condescending
good-nature which a Roman patrician might have assumed when visiting the
country villa of one of his clients. Everybody seemed delighted to be
noticed by him and flattered by his words.

I am by nature cross-grained and crabbed, I presume. I admitted that
Paul Patoff, though not graceful in his movements, was a fine-looking
fellow, with an undeniable distinction of manner; he had a pleasant
voice, an extraordinary command of English, though he was but half an
Englishman, and a tact which he certainly owed to his foreign blood; he
was irreproachable in appearance, in the simplicity of his dress, in the
smoothness of his fair hair and well-trimmed mustache; he appeared
thoroughly at home among his new-found relations, and anxious to please
them all alike; he was modest and unassuming, for he did not speak of
himself, and he gave no opinion saving such as should be pleasing to
his audience. He had all this, and yet in the cold stare of his stony
eyes, in the ungainly twist of his broad white hand, where the bones
and sinews crossed and recrossed like a network of marble, in the
decisive tone with which he uttered the most flattering remarks,
there was something which betrayed a tyrannical and unyielding
character,--something which struck me at first sight, and which
suggested a nature by no means so gentle and amiable as he was willing
it should appear.

Nevertheless, I was the only one to notice these signs, to judge by the
enthusiasm which Patoff produced at Carvel Place in those first hours of
his stay. It is true that the professor was not present, although he had
left me on the pretense of going to see Paul, and Macaulay Carvel was
resting from his journey in his own rooms, in a remote part of the
house; but I judged that the latter had already fallen under the spell
of Patoff's manner, and that it would not be easy to find out what the
man of science really thought about the Anglo-Russian. They probably
knew each other of old, and whatever opinions they held of each other
were fully formed.

Paul sat in his easy-chair in the midst of the family, and smiled and
surveyed everything through his single eyeglass, and if anything did not
please him he did not say so. John had something to do, and went away,
then Mrs. Carvel wanted to see her son alone, and she left us too; so
that Chrysophrasia and Hermione and I remained to amuse Patoff. Hermione
immediately began to do so after her own fashion. I think that of all of
us she was the one least inclined to give him absolute supremacy at
first, but he interested her, for she had seen little of the world, and
nothing of such men as her cousin Paul, who was thirty years of age, and
had been to most of the courts of the world in the course of twelve
years in the diplomatic service. She was not inclined to admit that
knowledge of the world was superiority of itself, nor that an easy
manner and an irreproachable appearance constituted the ideal of a man;
but she was barely twenty, and had seen little of those things. She
recognized their importance, and desired to understand them; she felt
that wonderful suspicion of possibilities which a young girl loves to
dwell on in connection with every exceptional man she meets; she
unconsciously said to herself that such a man as Patoff might possibly
be her ideal, because there was nothing apparent to her at first sight
which was in direct contradiction with the typical picture she had
conceived of the typical man she hoped to meet.

Every young girl has an ideal, I presume. If it be possible to reason
about so unreasonable a thing as love, I should say that love at first
sight is probably due to the sudden supposed realization in every
respect of an ideal long cherished and carefully developed in the
imagination. But in most cases a young girl sees one man after another,
hopes in each one to find those qualities which she has elected to
admire, and finally submits to be satisfied with far less than she had
at first supposed could satisfy her. As for young men, they are mostly
fools, and they talk of love with a vast deal of swagger and bravery,
laughing it to scorn, as a landsman talks of seasickness, telling you it
is nothing but an impression and a mere lack of courage, till one day
the land-bred boaster puts to sea in a Channel steamer, and experiences
a new sensation, and becomes a very sick man indeed before he is out of
sight of Dover cliffs.

But with Hermione there was certainly no realization of her ideal, but
probably only the faint, unformulated hope that in her cousin Paul she
might find some of those qualities which her own many-sided nature
longed to find in man.

"You must tell us all about Russia, cousin Paul," she said, when her
father and mother were gone. "Aunt Chrysophrasia believes that you are
the most extraordinary set of barbarians up there, and she adores
barbarians, you know."

"Of course we are rather barbarous."

"Hermione! How can you say I ever said such a thing!" interposed Miss
Dabstreak, with a deprecating glance at Paul. "I only said the Russians
were such a young and manly race, so interesting, so unlike the
inhabitants of this dreary den of printing-presses and steam-engines,
so"----

"Thanks, aunt Chrysophrasia," said Paul, "for the delightful ideal you
have formed of us. We are certainly less civilized than you, and
perhaps, as you are so good as to believe, we are the more interesting.
I suppose the unbroken colt of the desert is more interesting than an
American trotting horse, but for downright practical use"----

"There is such a tremendous talk of usefulness!" ejaculated
Chrysophrasia, a faint, sad smile flickering over her sallow features.

"Usefulness is so remarkably useful," I remarked.

"Oh, Mr. Griggs," exclaimed Hermione, "what an immensely witty speech!"

"There is nothing so witty as truth, Miss Carvel, though you laugh at
it," I answered, "for where there is no truth, there is no wit. I
maintain that usefulness is really useful. Miss Dabstreak, I believe,
maintains the contrary."

"Indeed, I care more for beauty than for usefulness," replied the
æsthetic lady, with a fine smile.

"Beauty is indeed truly useful," said Paul, with a very faint imitation
of Chrysophrasia's accent, "and it should be sought in everything. But
that need not prevent us from seeing true beauty in all that is truly
useful."

I had a faint suspicion that if Patoff had mimicked Miss Dabstreak in
the first half of his speech, he had imitated me in the second portion
of the sentiment. I do not like to be made game of, because I am aware
that I am naturally pedantic. It is an old trick of the schools to rouse
a pedant to desperate and distracted self-contradiction by quietly
imitating everything he says.

"You are very clever at taking both sides of a question at once," said
Hermione, with a smile.

"Almost all questions have two sides," answered Paul, "but very often
both sides are true. A man may perfectly appreciate and approve of the
opinions of two persons who take diametrically opposite views of the
same point, provided there be no question of right and wrong involved."

"Perhaps," retorted Hermione; "but then the man who takes both sides has
no opinion of his own. I do not like that."

"In general, cousin Hermione," said Paul, with a polite smile, "you may
be sure that any man will make your opinion his. In this case, I submit
that both beauty and usefulness are good, and that they need not at all
interfere with each other. As for the compliment my aunt Chrysophrasia
has paid to us Russians, I do not think we can be said to have gone very
far in either direction as yet." After which diplomatic speech Paul
dropped his eyeglass, and looked pleasantly round upon all three of us,
as much as to say that it was impossible to draw him into the position
of disagreeing with any one present by any device whatsoever.



IX.


Professor Cutter and I walked to the village that afternoon. He is a
great pedestrian, and is never satisfied unless he can walk four or five
miles a day. His robust and somewhat heavy frame was planned rather for
bodily labor than for the housing of so active a mind, and he often
complains that the exercise of his body has robbed him of years of
intellectual labor. He grumbles at the necessity of wasting time in that
way, but he never omits his daily walk.

"I should like to possess your temperament, Mr. Griggs," he remarked, as
we walked briskly through the park. "You might renounce exercise and
open air for the rest of your life, and never be the worse for it."

"I hardly know," I answered. "I have never tried any regular method of
life, and I have never been ill. I do not believe in regular methods."

"That is the ideal constitution. By the by, I had hoped to induce Patoff
to come with us, but he said he would stay with the ladies."

"You will never induce him to do anything he does not want to do," I
replied. "However, I dare say you know that as well as I do."

"What makes you say that?"

"I can see it,--it is plain enough. Carvel wanted him to go and shoot
something after lunch, you wanted him to come for a walk, Macaulay
wanted him to bury himself up-stairs and talk out the Egyptian question,
I wanted to get him into the smoking-room to ask him questions about
some friends of mine in the East, Miss Dabstreak had plans to waylay him
with her pottery. Not a bit of it! He smiled at us all, and serenely
sat by Mrs. Carvel, talking to her and Miss Hermione. He has a will of
his own."

"Indeed he has," assented the professor. "He is a moderately clever
fellow, with a smooth tongue and a despotic character, a much better
combination than a weak will and the mind of a genius. You are right, he
is not to be turned by trifles."

"I see that he must be a good diplomatist in these days."

"Diplomacy has got past the stage of being intellectual," said the
professor. "There was a time when a fine intellect was thought important
in an ambassador; nowadays it is enough if his excellency can hold his
tongue and show his teeth. The question is, whether the low estimate of
intellect in our day is due to the exigency of modern affairs, or to the
exiguity of modern intelligence."

"Men are stronger in our time," I answered, "and consequently have less
need to be clever. The transition from the joint government of the world
by a herd of wily foxes to the domination of the universe by the mammoth
ox is marked by the increase of clumsy strength and the disappearance of
graceful deception."

"That is true; but the graceful deception continues to be the more
interesting, if not the more agreeable. As for me, I would rather be
gracefully deceived, as you call it, than pounded to jelly by the hoofs
of the mammoth,--unless I could be the mammoth myself."

"To return to Patoff," said I, "what are they going to do with him?"

"The question is much more likely to be what he will do with them, I
should say," answered the scientist, looking straight before him, and
increasing the speed of his walk. "I am not at all sure what he might
do, if no one prevented him. He is capable of considerable originality
if left to himself, and they follow him up there at the Place as the
boys and girls followed the Pied Piper."

"Is he at all like his mother?" I asked.

"In point of originality?" inquired the professor, with a curious smile.
"She was certainly a most original woman. I hardly know whether he is
like her. Boys are said to resemble their mother in appearance and their
father in character. He is certainly not of the same type of
constitution as his mother, he has not even the same shape of head, and
I am glad of it. But his father was a Slav, and what is madness in an
Englishwoman is sanity in a Russian. Her most extraordinary aberrations
might not seem at all extraordinary when set off by the natural violence
he inherits from his father."

"That is a novel idea to me," I remarked. "You mean that what is madness
in one man is not necessarily insanity in another; besides, you refused
to allow this morning that Madame Patoff was crazy."

"I did not refuse to allow it; I only said I did not know it to be the
case. But as for what I just said, take two types of mankind, a Chinese
and an Englishman, for instance. If you met a fair-haired, blue-eyed,
sanguine Englishman, whose head and features were shaped precisely like
those of a Chinaman, you could predicate of him that he must be a very
extraordinary creature, capable, perhaps, of becoming a driveling idiot.
The same of a Chinese, if you met one with a brain shaped like that of
an Englishman, and similar features, but with straight black hair, a
yellow skin, and red eyes. He would have the brain of the Anglo-Saxon
with the temperament of the Mongol, and would probably become a raving
maniac. It is not the temperament only, nor the intellect only, which
produces the idiot or the madman; it is the lack of balance between the
two. Arrant cowards frequently have very warlike imaginations, and in
their dreams conceive themselves doing extremely violent things. Suppose
that with such an imagination you unite the temperament of an Arab
fanatic, or the coarse, brutal courage of an English prize-fighter, you
can put no bounds to the possible actions of the monster you create.
The salvation of the human race lies in the fact that very strong and
brave people commonly have a peaceable disposition, or else commit
murder and get hanged for it. It is far better that they should be
hanged, because nobody knows where violence ends and insanity begins,
and it is just as well to be on the safe side. Whenever a given form of
intellect happens to be joined to a totally inappropriate temperament,
we say it is a case of idiocy or insanity. Of course there are many
other cases which arise from the mind or the body being injured by
extraneous causes; but they are not genuine cases of insanity, because
the evil has not been transmitted from the parents, nor will it be to
the children."

The professor marched forward as he gave his lecture on unsoundness of
brain, and I strode by his side, silent and listening. What he said
seemed very natural, and yet I had never heard it before. Was Madame
Patoff such a monster as he described? It was more likely that her son
might be, seeing that he in some points answered precisely to the
description of a man with the intellect of one race and the temperament
of another; and yet any one would scoff at the idea that Paul Patoff
could go mad. He was so correct, so staid, so absolutely master of what
he said, and probably of what he felt, that one could not imagine him a
pray to insanity.

"What you say is very interesting," I remarked, at last, "but how does
it apply to Madame Patoff?"

"It does not apply to her," returned Professor Cutter. "She belongs to
the class of people in whom the mind has been injured by extraneous
circumstances."

"I suppose it is possible. I suppose a perfectly sound mind may be
completely destroyed by an accident, even by the moral shock from a
sorrow or disappointment."

"Yes," said the professor. "It is even possible to produce artificial
insanity,--perfectly genuine while it lasts; but it is not possible for
any one to pretend to be insane."

"Really? I should have thought it quite possible," said I.

"No. It is impossible. I was once called to give my opinion in such a
case. The man betrayed himself in half an hour, and yet he was a very
clever fellow. He was a servant; murdered his master to rob him; was
caught, but succeeded in restoring the valuables to their places, and
pretended to be crazy. It was very well managed and he played the fool
splendidly, but I caught him."

"How?" I asked.

"Simply by bullying. I treated him roughly, and never stopped talking to
him,--just the worst treatment for a person really insane. In less than
an hour I had wearied him out, his feigned madness became so fatiguing
to him that there was finally only a spasmodic attempt, and when I had
done with him the sane man was perfectly apparent. He grew too much
frightened and too tired to act a part. He was hanged, to the
satisfaction of all concerned, and he made a complete confession."

"But how about the artificial insanity you spoke of? How can it be
produced?"

"By any poison, from coffee to alcohol, from tobacco to belladonna. A
man who is drunk is insane."

"I wonder whether, if a madman got drunk, he would be sane?" I said.

"Sometimes. A man who has delirium tremens can be brought to his right
mind for a time by alcohol, unless he is too far gone. The habitual
drunkard is not in his right mind until he has had a certain amount of
liquor. All habitual poisons act in that way, even tea. How often do you
hear a woman or a student say, 'I do not feel like myself to-day,--I
have not had my tea'! When a man does not feel like himself, he means
that he feels like some one else, and he is mildly crazy. Generally
speaking, any sudden change in our habits of eating and drinking will
produce a temporary unsoundness of the mind. Every one knows that
thirst sometimes brings on a dangerous madness, and hunger produces
hallucinations and visions which take a very real character."

"I know,--I have seen that. In the East it is thought that insanity can
be caused by mesmerism, or something like it."

"It is not impossible," answered the scientist. "We do not deny that
some very extraordinary circumstances can be induced by sympathy and
antipathy."

"I suppose you do not believe in actual mesmerism, do you?"

"I neither affirm nor deny,--I wait; and until I have been convinced I
do not consider my opinion worth giving."

"That is the only rational position for a man of science. I fancy that
nothing but experience satisfies you,--why should it?"

"The trouble is that experiments, according to the old maxim, are
generally made, and should be made, upon worthless bodies, and that they
are necessarily very far from being conclusive in regard to the human
body. There is no doubt that dogs are subject to grief, joy, hope, and
disappointment; but it is not possible to conclude from the conduct of a
dog who is deprived of a particularly interesting bone he is gnawing,
for instance, how a man will act who is robbed of his possessions.
Similarity of misfortune does not imply analogy in the consequences."

"Certainly not. Otherwise everybody would act in the same way, if put in
the same case."

The professor's conversation was interesting if only on account of the
extreme simplicity with which he spoke of such a complicated subject. I
was impressed with the belief that he belonged to a class of scientists
whose interest in what they hope to learn surpasses their enthusiasm for
what they have already learned,--a class of scientists unfortunately
very rare in our day. For we talk more nonsense about science than
would fill many volumes, because we devote so much time to the pursuit
of knowledge; nevertheless, the amount of knowledge actually acquired,
beyond all possibility of contradiction, is ludicrously small as
compared with the energy expended in the pursuit of it and the noise
made over its attainment. Science lays many eggs, but few are hatched.
Science boasts much, but accomplishes little; is vainglorious, puffed
up, and uncharitable; desires to be considered as the root of all
civilization and the seed of all good, whereas it is the heart that
civilizes, never the head.

I walked by the professor's side in deep thought, and he, too, became
silent, so that we talked little more until we were coming home and had
almost reached the house.

"Why has Patoff never been in England before?" I asked, suddenly.

"I believe he has," answered Cutter.

"He says he has not."

"Never mind. I believe he was in London during nearly eighteen months,
about four or five years ago, as secretary in the Russian embassy. He
never went near his relations."

"Why should he say now that he never was in the country?"

"Because they would not like it, if they knew he had been so near them
without ever visiting them."

"Was his mother with him? Did she never write to her people?"

"No," said Cutter, with a short laugh, "she never wrote to them."

"How very odd!" I exclaimed, as we entered the hall-door.

"It was odd," answered my companion, and went up-stairs. There was
something very unsatisfactory about him, I thought; and then I cursed my
own curiosity. What business was it all of mine? If Paul Patoff chose to
tell a diplomatic falsehood, it certainly did not concern me. It was
possible that his mother might have quarreled with her family,--indeed,
in former years I had sometimes thought as much from their never
mentioning her; and in that case it would be natural that her son might
not have cared to visit his relations when he was in England before. He
need not have made such a show of never having visited the country, but
people often do that sort of thing. And now it was probable that since
Madame Patoff had been insane there might have been a reconciliation and
a smoothing over of the family difficulties. I had no idea where Madame
Patoff might be. I could not ask any one such a delicate question, for I
supposed she was confined in an asylum, and no one volunteered the
information. Probably Cutter's visit to Carvel Place was connected with
her sad state; perhaps Patoff's coming might be the result of it, also.
It was impossible to say. But of this I was certain: that John Carvel
and his wife had both grown older and sadder in the past two years, and
that there was an air of concealment about the house which made me very
uncomfortable. I have been connected with more than one odd story in my
time, and I confess that I no longer care for excitement as I once did.
If people are going to get into trouble, I would rather not be there to
see it, and I have a strong dislike to being suddenly called upon to
play an unexpected part in sensational events. Above all, I hate
mystery; I hate the mournful air of superior sorrow that hangs about
people who have a disagreeable secret, and the constant depression of
long-protracted anxiety in those about me. It spoiled my pleasure in the
quiet country life to see John's face grow every day more grave and Mary
Carvel's eyes turn sadder. Pain of any sort is unpleasant to witness,
but there is nothing so depressing as to watch the progress of
melancholy in one's friends; to feel that from some cause which they
will not confide they are losing peace and health and happiness. Even if
one knew the cause one might not be able to do anything to remove it,
for it is no bodily ill, that can be doctored and studied and
experimented upon, a subject for dissertation and barbarous,
semi-classic nomenclature; quacks do not pretend to cure it with patent
medicines, and great physicians do not write nebulous articles about it
in the reviews. There is little room for speculation in the matter of
grief, for most people know well enough what it is, and need no Latin
words with Greek terminations to express it. It is the breaking of the
sea of life over the harbor bar where science ends and humanity begins.

Poor John! It needed something strong indeed to sadden his cheerfulness
and leaden his energy. That evening I talked with Hermione in the
drawing room. She looked more lovely than ever dressed all in white,
with a single row of pearls around her throat. Her delicate features
were pale and luminous, and her brown eyes brighter than usual,--a mere
girl, scarcely yet gone into the world, but such a woman! It was no
wonder that Paul glanced from time to time in admiration at his cousin.

We were seated in Chrysophrasia's corner, Hermione and I. There was
nothing odd in that; the young girl likes me and enjoys talking to me,
and I am no longer young. You know, dear friend, that I am forty-six
years old this summer, and it is a long time since any one thought of
flirting with me. I am not dangerous,--nature has taken care of
that,--and I am thought very safe company for the young.

"Tell me one of your stories, Mr. Griggs. I am so tired this evening,"
said Hermione.

"I do not know what to tell you," I answered. "I was hoping that you
would tell me one of yours, all about the fairies and the elves in the
park, as you used to when you were a little girl."

"I do not believe in fairies any more," said Hermione, with a little
sigh. "I believed in them once,--it was so nice. I want stories of real
life now,--sad ones, that end happily."

"A great many happy stories end sadly," I replied, "but few sad ones
end happily. Why do you want a sad story? You ought to be gay."

"Ought I? I am not, I am sure. I cannot take everything with a laugh, as
some people can; and I cannot be always resigned and religious, as mamma
is."

"The pleasantest people are the ones who are always good, but not always
alike," I remarked. "It is variety that makes life charming, and
goodness that makes it worth living."

Hermione laughed a little.

"That sounds very good,--a little goody, as we used to say when we were
small. I wonder whether it is true. I suppose I have not enough variety,
or not enough goodness, just at present."

"Why?" I asked. "I should think you had both."

"I do not see the great variety," she answered.

"Have you not found a new relation to-day? An interesting cousin who has
seen the whole world ought to go far towards making a variety in life."

"What should you think of a man, Mr. Griggs, whose brother has not been
dead eighteen months, and whose mother is dangerously ill, perhaps
dying, and who shows no more feeling than a stone?"

The question came sharply and distinctly; Hermione's short lip curled in
scorn, and the words were spoken through her closed teeth. Of course she
was speaking of Paul Patoff. She turned to me for an answer, and there
was an angry light in her eyes.

"Is your cousin's mother very ill?" I asked.

"She is not really dying, but she can never get well. Oh, Mr. Griggs,"
she cried, clasping her hands together on her knees, and leaning back in
her seat, "I wish I could tell you all about it! I am sure you might do
some good, but they would be very angry if I told you. I wonder whether
he is really so hard-hearted as he looks!"

"Oh, no," I answered. "Men who have lived so much in the world learn to
conceal their feelings."

"It is not thought good manners to have any feeling, is it?"

"Most people try to hide what they feel. What is good of showing every
one that you are hurt, when nobody can do anything to help you? It is
undignified to make an exhibition of sorrow for the benefit of one's
neighbors."

"Perhaps. But I almost think aunt Chrysophrasia is right: the world was
a nicer place, and life was more interesting, when everybody showed what
they felt, and fought for what they wanted, and ran away with people
they loved, and killed people they hated."

"I think you would get very tired of it," I said, laughing. "It is
uncomfortable to live in constant danger of one's life. You used not to
talk so, Miss Carvel; what has happened to you?"

"Oh, I do not know; everything is happening that ought not. I should
think you might see that we are all very anxious. But I do not half
understand it myself. Will you not tell me a story, and help me to
forget all about it? Here comes papa with Professor Cutter, looking
graver than ever; they have been to see--I mean they have been talking
about it again."

"Once upon a time there was a"---- I stopped. John Carvel came straight
across the room to where we were sitting.

"Griggs," he said, in a low voice, "will you come with me for a moment?"
I sprang to my feet. John laid his hand upon my arm; he was very pale.
"Don't look as though anything were the matter," he added.

Accordingly I sauntered across the room, and made a show of stopping a
moment before the fire to warm my hands and listen to the general
conversation that was going on there. Presently I walked away, and John
followed me. As I passed, I looked at the professor, who seemed already
absorbed in listening to one of Chrysophrasia's speeches. He did not
return my glance, and I left the room with my friend. A moment later we
were in his study. A student's lamp with a green shade burned steadily
upon the table, and there was a bright fire on the hearth. A huge
writing-table filled the centre of the room, covered with papers and
pamphlets. John did not sit down, but stood leaning back against a heavy
bookcase, with one hand behind him.

"Griggs," he said, and his voice trembled with excitement, "I am going
to ask you a favor, and in order to ask it I am obliged to take you into
my confidence."

"I am ready," said I. "You can trust me."

"Since you were here last, very painful things have occurred. In
consequence of the death of her eldest son, and of certain circumstances
attending it which I need not, cannot, detail, my wife's sister, Madame
Patoff, became insane about eighteen months ago. Professor Cutter
chanced to be with her at the time, and informed me at once. Her
husband, as you know, died twenty years ago, and Paul was away, so that
Cutter was so good as to take care of her. He said her only chance of
recovery lay in being removed to her native country and carefully
nursed. Thank God, I am rich. I received her here, and she has been here
ever since. Do not look surprised. For the sake of all I have taken
every precaution to keep her absolutely removed from us, though we visit
her from time to time. Cutter told me that dreadful story of her trying
to kill herself in Suabia. He has just informed me that it was you who
saved both her life and his with your rope,--not knowing either of them.
I need not tell you my gratitude."

John paused, and grasped my hand; his own was cold and moist.

"It was nothing," I said. "I did not even incur any danger; it was
Cutter who risked his life."

"No matter," continued Carvel. "It was you who saved them both. From
that time she has recognized no one. Cutter brought her here, and the
north wing of the house was fitted up for her. He has come from time to
time to see her, and she has proper attendants. You never see them nor
her, for she has a walled garden,--the one against which the hot-houses
and the tennis-court are built. Of course the servants know,--everybody
in the house knows all about it; but this is a huge old place, and there
is plenty of room. It is not thought safe to take her out, and there
appears to be something so peculiar about her insanity that Cutter
discourages the idea of the ordinary treatment of placing the patient in
the company of other insane, giving them all manner of amusement, and so
on. He seems to think that if she is left alone, and is well cared for,
seeing only, from time to time, the faces of persons she has known
before, she may recover."

"I trust so, indeed," I said earnestly.

"We all pray that she may, poor thing!" rejoined Carvel, very sadly.

"Now listen. Her son. Paul Patoff, arrived this morning, and insisted
upon seeing her this afternoon. Cutter said it could do no harm, as she
probably would not recognize him. To our astonishment and delight she
knew him at once for her son, though she treated him with a coldness
almost amounting to horror. She stepped back from him, and folded her
arms, only saying, over and over again, 'Paul, why did you come
here,--why did you come?' We could get nothing more from her than that,
and at the end of ten minutes we left her. She seemed very much
exhausted, excited, too, and the nurse who was with her advised us to
go."

"It is a great step, however, that she should have recognized any one,
especially her own son," I remarked.

"So Cutter holds. She never takes the least notice of him. But he has
suggested to me that while she is still in this humor it would be worth
while trying whether she has any recollection of you. He says that
anything which recalls so violent a shock as the one she experienced
when you saved her life may possibly recall a connected train of
thought, even though it be a very painful reminiscence; and anything
which helps memory helps recovery. He considers hers the most
extraordinary case he has ever seen, and he must have seen a great many;
he says that there is almost always some delusion, some fixed idea, in
insanity. Madame Patoff seems to have none, but she has absolutely no
recognition for any one, nor any memory for events beyond a few minutes.
She can hardly be induced to speak at all, but will sit quite still for
hours with any book that is given her, turning over the pages
mechanically. She has a curious fancy for big books, and will always
select the thickest from a number of volumes; but whether or not she
retains any impression of what she reads, or whether, in fact, she
really reads at all, it is quite impossible to say. She will sometimes
answer 'yes' or 'no' to a question, but she will give opposite answers
to the same question in five minutes. She will stare stolidly at any one
who talks to her consecutively; or will simply turn away, and close her
eyes as though she were going to sleep. In other respects she is in
normal health. She eats little, but regularly, and sleeps soundly; goes
out into her garden at certain hours, and seems to enjoy fine weather,
and to be annoyed when it rains. She is not easily startled by a sudden
noise, or the abrupt appearance of those of us who go to see her. Cutter
does not know what to make of it. She was once a very beautiful woman,
and is still as handsome as a woman can be at fifty. Cutter says that if
she had softening of the brain she would behave very differently, and
that if she had become feeble-minded the decay of her faculties would
show in her face; but there is nothing of that observable in her. She
has as much dignity and beauty as ever, and, excepting when she stares
blankly at those who talk to her, her face is intelligent, though very
sad."

"Poor lady!" I said. "How old did you say she is?"

"She must be fifty-two, in her fifty-third year. Her hair is gray, but
it is not white."

"Had she any children besides Paul and his brother?"

"No. I know very little of her family life. It was a love match; but old
Patoff was rich. I never heard that they quarreled. Alexander entered
the army, and remained in a guard regiment in St. Petersburg, while Paul
went into the diplomacy. Madame Patoff must have spent much of her time
with Alexander until he died, and Cutter says he was always the favorite
son. I dare say that Paul has a bad temper, and he may have been
extravagant. At all events, she loved Alexander devotedly, and it was
his death that first affected her mind."

John had grown more calm during this long conversation. To tell the
truth, I did not precisely understand why he should have looked so pale
and seemed so anxious, seeing that the news of Madame Patoff was
decidedly of an encouraging nature. I myself was too much astonished at
learning that the insane lady was actually an inmate of the house, and I
was too much interested at the prospect of seeing her so soon, to think
much of John and his anxiety; but on looking back I remember that his
mournful manner produced a certain impression upon me at the moment.

The story was strange enough. I began to comprehend what Hermione had
meant when she spoke of Paul's cold nature. An hour before dinner the
man had seen his mother for the first time in eighteen months,--it might
be more, for all I knew,--for the first time since she had been out of
her mind. I had learned from John that she had recognized him, indeed,
but had coldly repulsed him when he came before her. If Paul Patoff had
been a warm-hearted man, he could not have been at that very moment
making conversation for his cousins in the drawing-room, laughing and
chatting, his eyeglass in his eye, his bony fingers toying with the
flower Chrysophrasia had given him. It struck me that neither Mrs.
Carvel nor her sister could have known of the interview, or they would
have manifested some feeling, or at least would not have behaved just as
they always did. I asked John if they knew.

"No," he answered. "He told my daughter because he broke off his
conversation with her to go and see his mother, but Hermy never tells
anything except to me."

"When would you like me to go?" I asked.

"Now, if you will. I will call Cutter. He thinks that, as she last saw
you with him, your coming together now will be more likely to recall
some memory of the accident. Besides, it is better to go this evening,
before she has slept, as the return of memory this afternoon may have
been very transitory, and anything which might stimulate it again should
be tried before the mood changes. Will you go now?"

"Certainly," I replied, and John Carvel left the room to call the
professor.

While I was waiting alone in the study, I happened to take up a pamphlet
that lay upon the table. It was something about the relations of England
with Russia. An idea crossed my mind.

"I wonder," I said to myself, "whether they have ever tried speaking to
her in Russian. Cutter does not know a word of the language; I suppose
nobody else here does, either, except Paul, and she seems to have spoken
to him in English."

The door opened, and John entered with the professor. I laid down the
pamphlet, and prepared to accompany them.

"I suppose Carvel has told you all that I could not tell you, Mr.
Griggs," said the learned man, eying me through his glasses with an air
of inquiry, and slowly rubbing his enormous hands together.

"Yes," I said. "I understand that we are about to make an experiment in
order to ascertain if this unfortunate lady will recognize me."

"Precisely. It is not impossible that she may know you, though, if she
saw you at all, it was only for a moment. You have a very striking face
and figure, and you have not changed in the least. Besides, the moment
was that in which she experienced an awful shock. Such things are
sometimes photographed on the mind."

"Has she never recognized you in any way?" I asked.

"Never since that day at Weissenstein. There is just a faint possibility
that when she sees us together she may recall that catastrophe. I think
Carvel had better stay behind."

"Very well," said John, "I will leave you at the door."

Carvel led the way to the great hall, and then turned through a passage
I had never entered. The narrow corridor was brightly lighted by a
number of lamps; at the end of it we came to a massive door. John took a
little key from a niche in the wall, and inserted it in the small metal
plate of the patent lock.

"Cutter will lead you now," he said, as he pushed the heavy mahogany
back upon its hinges. Beyond it the passage continued, still brilliantly
illuminated, to a dark curtain which closed the other end. It was very
warm. Carvel closed the door behind us, and the professor and I
proceeded alone.



X.


The professor pushed aside the heavy curtain, and we entered a small
room, simply furnished with a couple of tables, a bookcase, one or two
easy-chairs, and a divan. The walls were dark, and the color of the
curtains and carpet was a dark green, but two large lamps illuminated
every corner of the apartment. At one of the tables a middle-aged woman
sat reading; as we entered she looked up at us, and I saw that she was
one of the nurses in charge of Madame Patoff. She wore a simple gown of
dark material, and upon her head a dainty cap of French appearance was
pinned, with a certain show of taste. The nurse had a kindly face and
quiet eyes, accustomed, one would think, to look calmly upon sights
which would astonish ordinary people. Her features were strongly marked,
but gentle in expression and somewhat pale, and as she sat facing us,
her large white hands were folded together on the foot of the open page,
with an air of resolution that seemed appropriate to her character. She
rose deliberately to her feet, as we came forward, and I saw that she
was short, though when seated I should have guessed her to be tall.

"Mrs. North," said the professor, "this is my friend Mr. Griggs, who
formerly knew Madame Patoff. I have hopes that she may recognize him.
Can we see her now?"

"If you will wait one moment," answered Mrs. North, "I will see whether
you may go in." Her voice was like herself, calm and gentle, but with a
ring of strength and determination in it that was very attractive. She
moved to the door opposite to the one by which we had entered, and
opened it cautiously; after looking in, she turned and beckoned to us
to advance. We went in, and she softly closed the door behind us.

I shall never forget the impression made upon me when I saw Madame
Patoff. She was tall, and, though she was much over fifty years of age,
her figure was erect and commanding, slight, but of good proportion;
whether by nature, or owing to her mental disease, it seemed as though
she had escaped the effects of time, and had she concealed her hair with
a veil she might easily have passed for a woman still young. Mary Carvel
had been beautiful, and was beautiful still in a matronly, old-fashioned
way; Hermione was beautiful after another and a smaller manner, slender
and delicate and lovely; but Madame Patoff belonged to a very different
category. She was on a grander scale, and in her dark eyes there was
room for deeper feeling than in the gentle looks of her sister and
niece. One could understand how in her youth she had braved the
opposition of father and mother and sisters, and had married the
brilliant Russian, and had followed him to the ends of the earth during
ten years, through peace and through war, till he died. One could
understand how some great trouble and despair, which would send a
duller, gentler soul to prayers and sad meditations, might have driven
this grand, passionate creature to the very defiance of all despair and
trouble, into the abyss of a self-sought death. I shuddered when I
remembered that I had seen this very woman suspended in mid-air, her
life depending on the slender strength of a wild cherry tree upon the
cliff side. I had seen her, and yet had not seen her; for the sudden
impression of that terrible moment bore little or no relation to the
calmer view of the present time.

Madame Patoff stood before us, dressed in a close-fitting gown of black
velvet, closed at the throat with a clasp of pearls; her thick hair,
just turning gray, was coiled in masses low behind her head, drawn back
in long broad waves on each side, in the manner of the Greeks. Her
features, slightly aquiline and strongly defined, wore an expression of
haughty indifference, not at all like the stolid stare which John Carvel
had described to me, and though her dark eyes gazed upon us without
apparent recognition, their look was not without intelligence. She had
been walking up and down in the long drawing-room where we found her,
and she had paused in her walk as we entered, standing beneath a
chandelier which carried five lamps; there were others upon the wall,
high up on brackets and beyond her reach. There was no fireplace, but
the air was very warm, heated, I suppose, by some concealed apparatus.
The furniture consisted of deep chairs, lounges and divans of every
description; three or four bookcases were filled with books, and there
were many volumes piled in a disorderly fashion upon the different
tables, and some lay upon the floor beside a cushioned lounge, which
looked as though it were the favorite resting-place of the inmate of the
apartment. At first sight it seemed to me that few precautions were
observed; the nurse was seated in an outer apartment, and Madame Patoff
was quite alone and free. But the room where she was left was so
constructed that she could do herself no harm. There was no fire; the
lamps were all out of reach; the windows were locked, and she could only
go out by passing through the antechamber where the nurse was watching.
There was a singular lack of all those little objects which encumbered
the drawing-room of Carvel Place; there was not a bit of porcelain or
glass, nor a paper-knife, nor any kind of metal object. There were a few
pictures upon the walls, and the walls themselves were hung with a light
gray material, that looked like silk and brilliantly reflected the
strong light, making an extraordinary background for Madame Patoff's
figure, clad as she was in black velvet and white lace.

We stood before her, Cutter and I, for several seconds, watching for
some change of expression in her face. He had hoped that my sudden
appearance would arouse a memory in her disordered mind. I understood
his anxiety, but it appeared to me very unlikely that when she failed to
recognize him she should remember me. For some moments she gazed upon
me, and then a slight flush rose to her pale cheeks, her fixed stare
wavered, and her eyes fell. I could hear Cutter's long-drawn breath of
excitement. She clasped her hands together and turned away, resuming her
walk. It was strange,--perhaps she really remembered.

"He saved your life in Weissenstein," said Cutter, in loud, clear tones.
"You ought to thank him for it,--you never did."

The unhappy woman paused in her walk, stood still, then came swiftly
towards us, and again paused. Her face had changed completely in its
expression. Her teeth were closely set together, and her lip curled in
scorn, while a dark flush overspread her pale face, and her hands
twisted each other convulsively.

"Do you remember Weissenstein?" asked the professor, in the same
incisive voice, and through his round glasses he fixed his commanding
glance upon her. But as he looked her eyes grew dull, and the blush
subsided from her cheek. With a low, short laugh she turned away.

I started. I had forgotten the laugh behind the latticed wall, and if I
had found time to reflect I should have known, from what John Carvel had
told me, that it could have come from no one but the mad lady, who had
been walking in the garden with her nurse, on that bright evening. It
was the same low, rippling sound, silvery and clear, and it came so
suddenly that I was startled. I thought that the professor sighed as he
heard it. It was, perhaps, a strong evidence of insanity. In all my life
of wandering and various experience I have chanced to be thrown into the
society of but one insane person besides Madame Patoff. That was a
curious case: a hardy old sea-captain, who chanced to make a fortune
upon the New York stock exchange, and went stark mad a few weeks later.
His madness seemed to come from elation at his success, and it was very
curious to watch its progress, and very sad. He was a strong man, and in
all his active life had never touched liquor nor tobacco. Nothing but
wealth could have driven him out of his mind; but within two months of
his acquiring a fortune he was confined in an asylum, and within the
year he died of softening of the brain. I only mention this to show you
that I had had no experience of insanity worth speaking of before I met
Madame Patoff. I knew next to nothing of the signs of the disease.

Madame Patoff turned away, and crossed the room; then she sank down upon
the lounge which I have described as surrounded with books, and, taking
a volume in her hand, she began to read, with the utmost unconcern.

"Come," said the professor, "we may as well go."

"Wait a minute," I suggested. "Stay where you are." Cutter looked at me,
and shrugged his shoulders.

"You can't do any harm," he replied, indifferently. "I think she has a
faint remembrance of you."

You know I can speak the Russian language fairly well, for I have lived
some time in the country. It had struck me, while I was waiting in the
study, that it would be worth while to try the effect of a remark in a
tongue with which Madame Patoff had been familiar for over thirty years.
I went quietly up to the couch where she was lying, and spoke to her.

"I am sorry I saved your life, since you wished to die," I said, in a
low voice, in Russian. "Forgive me."

Madame Patoff started violently, and her white hands closed upon her
book with such force that the strong binding bent and cracked. Cutter
could not have seen this, for I was between him and her. She looked up
at me, and fixed her dark eyes on mine. There was a great sadness in
them, and at the same time a certain terror, but she did not speak.
However, as I had made an impression, I addressed her again in the same
language.

"Do you remember seeing Paul to-day?" I asked.

"Paul?" she repeated, in a soft, sad voice, that seemed to stir the
heart into sympathy. "Paul is dead."

I thought it might have been her husband's name as well as her son's.

"I mean your son. He was with you to-day; you were unkind to him."

"Was I?" she asked. "I have no son." Still her eyes gazed into mine as
though searching for something, and as I looked I thought the tears rose
in them and trembled, but they did not overflow. I was profoundly
surprised. They had told me that she had no memory for any one, and yet
she seemed to have told me that her husband was dead,--if indeed his
name had been Paul,--and although she said she had no son, her tears
rose at the mention of him. Probably for the very reason that I had not
then had any experience of insane persons, the impression formed itself
in my mind that this poor lady was not mad, after all. It seemed madness
on my own part to doubt the evidence before me,--the evidence of
attendants trained to the duty of watching lunatics, the assurances of a
man who had grown famous by studying diseases of the brain as Professor
Cutter had, the unanimous opinion of Madame Patoff's family. How could
they all be mistaken? Besides, she might have been really mad, and she
might be now recovering; this might be one of her first lucid moments. I
hardly knew how to continue, but I was so much interested by her first
answers that I felt I must say something.

"Why do you say you have no son! He is here in the house; you have seen
him to-day. Your son is Paul Patoff. He loves you, and has come to see
you."

Again the low, silvery laugh came rippling from her lips. She let the
book fall from her hands upon her lap, and leaned far back upon the
couch.

"Why do you torment me so?" she asked. "I tell you I have no son." Again
she laughed,--less sweetly than before. "Why do you torment me?"

"I do not want to torment you. I will leave you. Shall I come again?"

"Again?" she repeated, vacantly, as though not understanding. But as I
stood beside her I moved a little, and I thought her eyes rested on the
figure of the professor, standing at the other end of the room, and her
face expressed dislike of him, while her answer to me was a meaningless
repetition of my own word.

"Yes," I said. "Shall I come again? Do you like to talk Russian?" This
time she said nothing, but her eyes remained fixed upon the professor.
"I am going," I added. "Good-by."

She looked up suddenly. I bowed to her, out of habit, I suppose. Do
people generally bow to insane persons? To my surprise, she put out her
hand and took mine, and shook it, in the most natural way imaginable;
but she did not answer me. Just as I was turning from her she spoke
again.

"Who are you?" she asked in English.

"My name is Griggs," I replied, and lingered to see if she would say
more. But she laughed again,--very little this time,--and she took up
the book she had dropped and began to read.

Cutter smiled, too, as we left the room. I glanced back at the graceful
figure of the gray-haired woman, extended upon her couch. She did not
look up, and a moment later Cutter and I stood again in the antechamber.
The professor slowly rubbed his hands together,--his gigantic hands,
modeled by nature for dealing with big things. Mrs. North rose from her
reading.

"I have an idea that our patient has recognized this gentleman," said
the scientist. "This has been a remarkably eventful day. She is probably
very tired, and if you could induce her to go to bed it would be a very
good thing, Mrs. North. Good-evening."

"Good-evening," I said. Mrs. North made a slight inclination with her
head, in answer to our salutation. I pushed aside the heavy curtain,
and we went out. Cutter had a pass-key to the heavy door in the passage,
and opened it and closed it noiselessly behind us. I felt as though I
had been in a dream, as we emerged into the dimly lighted great hall,
where a huge fire burned in the old-fashioned fireplace, and Fang, the
white deerhound, lay asleep upon the thick rug.

"And now, Mr. Griggs," said the professor, stopping short and thrusting
his hands into his pockets, "will you tell me what she said to you, and
whether she gave any signs of intelligence?" He faced me very sharply,
as though to disconcert me by the suddenness of his question. It was a
habit he had.

"She said very little," I replied. "She said that 'Paul' was dead. Was
that her husband's name as well as her son's?"

"Yes. What else?"

"She told me she had no son; and when I reminded her that she had seen
him that very afternoon, she laughed and answered, 'I tell you I have no
son,--why do you torment me?' She said all that in Russian. As I was
going away you heard her ask me who I was, in English. My name appeared
to amuse her."

"Yes," assented Cutter, with a smile. "Was that all?"

"That was all she said," I answered, with perfect truth. Somehow I did
not care to tell the professor of the look I thought I had seen in her
face when her eyes rested on him. In the first place, as he was doing
his best to cure her, it seemed useless to tell him that I thought she
disliked him. It might have been only my imagination. Besides, that
nameless, undefined suspicion had crossed my brain that Madame Patoff
was not really mad; and though her apparently meaningless words might
have been interpreted to mean something in connection with her
expression of face in speaking, it was all too vague to be worth
detailing. I had determined that I would see her again and see her
alone, before long. I might then make some discovery, or satisfy myself
that she was really insane.

"Well," observed the professor, "it looks as though she remembered her
husband's death, at all events; and if she remembers that, she has the
memory of her own identity, which is something in such cases. I think
she faintly recognized you. That flush that came into her face was there
when she saw her son this afternoon, so far as I can gather from
Carvel's description. I wish they had waited for me. This remark about
her son is very curious, too. It is more like a monomania than anything
we have had yet. It is like a fixed idea in character; she certainly is
not sane enough to have meant it ironically,--to have meant that Paul
Patoff is not a son to her while thinking only of the other one who is
dead. Did she speak Russian fluently? She has not spoken it for more
than eighteen months,--perhaps longer."

"She speaks it perfectly," I replied.

"What strange tricks this brain of ours will play us!" exclaimed the
professor. "Here is a woman who has forgotten every circumstance of her
former life, has forgotten her friends and relations, and is puzzling us
all with her extraordinary lack of memory, and who, nevertheless,
remembers fluently the forms and expressions of one of the most
complicated languages in the world. At the same time we do not think
that she remembers what she reads. I wish we could find out. She acts
like a person who has had an injury to some part of the head which has
not affected the rest. But then, she never received any injury, to my
knowledge."

"Not even when she fell at Weissenstein?"

"Not the least. I made a careful examination."

"I do not see that we are likely to arrive at a conclusion by any amount
of guessing," I remarked. "Nothing but time and experiments will show
what is the matter with her."

"I have not the time, and I cannot invent the experiments," replied the
professor, impatiently. "I have a great mind to advise Carvel to put her
into an asylum, and have done with all this sort of thing."

"He will never consent to do that," I answered. "He evidently believes
that she is recovering. I could see it in his face this evening. What do
the nurses think of it?"

"Mrs. North never says anything very encouraging, excepting that she has
taken care of many insane women before, and remembers no case like this.
She is a famous nurse, too. Those people, from their constant daily
experience, sometimes understand things that we specialists do not. But
on the other hand, she is so taciturn and cautious that she can hardly
be induced to speak at all. The other woman is younger and more
enthusiastic, but she has not half so much sense."

I was silent. I was thinking that, according to all accounts, I had been
more successful than any one hitherto, and that a possible clue to
Madame Patoff's condition might be obtained by encouraging her to speak
in her adopted language. Perhaps something of the sort crossed the
professor's mind.

"Should you like to see her again?" he inquired. "It will be interesting
to know whether this return of memory is wholly transitory. She
recognized her son to-day, and I think she had some recognition of you.
You might both see her again to-morrow, and discover if the same
symptoms present themselves."

"I should be glad to go again," I replied. "But if I can be of any
service, it seems to me that I ought to be informed of the circumstances
which led to her insanity. I might have a better chance of rousing her
attention."

"Carvel will never consent to that," said the professor, shortly, and he
looked away from me as I spoke.

I was about to ask whether Cutter himself was acquainted with the whole
story, when Fang, the dog, who had taken no notice whatever of our
presence in the hall, suddenly sprang to his feet and trotted across the
floor, wagging his tail. He had recognized the tread of his mistress,
and a moment later Hermione entered and came towards us. Hermione did
not like the professor very much, and the professor knew it; for he was
a man of quick and intuitive perceptions, who had a marvelous
understanding of the sympathies and antipathies of those with whom he
was thrown. He sniffed the air rather discontentedly as the young girl
approached, and he looked at his watch.

"Fang has good ears, Miss Carvel," said he. "He knew your step before
you came in."

"Yes," answered Hermione, seating herself in one of the deep chairs by
the fireside, and caressing the dog's head as he laid his long muzzle
upon her knee. "Poor Fang, you know your friends, don't you? Mr. Griggs,
this new collar is always unfastening itself. I believe you have
bewitched it! See, here it is falling off again."

I bent down to examine the lock. The professor was not interested in the
dog nor his collar, and, muttering something about speaking to Carvel
before he went to bed, he left us.

"I could not stay in there," said Hermione. "Aunt Chrysophrasia is
talking to cousin Paul in her usual way, and Macaulay has got into a
corner with mamma, so that I was left alone. Where have you been all
this time?"

"I have heard what you could not tell me," I answered. "I have been to
see Madame Patoff with the professor."

"Not really? Oh, I am so glad! Now I can always talk to you about it.
Did papa tell you? Why did he want you to go?"

I briefly explained the circumstances of my seeing Madame Patoff in the
Black Forest, and the hope that was entertained of her recognizing me.

"Do you ever go in to see her, Miss Carvel?" I asked.

"Sometimes. They do not like me to go," said she; "they think it is too
depressing for me. I cannot tell why. Poor dear aunt! she used to be
glad to see me. Is not it dreadfully sad? Can you imagine a man who has
just seen his mother in such a condition, behaving as Paul Patoff
behaves this evening? He talks as if nothing had happened."

"No, I cannot imagine it. I suppose he does not want to make everybody
feel badly about it."

"Mr. Griggs, is she really mad?" asked Hermione, in a low voice, leaning
forward and clasping her hands.

"Why," I began, very much surprised, "does anybody doubt that she is
insane?"

"I do," said the young girl, decidedly. "I do not believe she is any
more insane than you and I are."

"That is a very bold thing to say," I objected, "when a man of Professor
Cutter's reputation in those things says that she is crazy, and gives up
so much time to visiting her."

"All the same," said Hermione, "I do not believe it. I am sure people
sometimes try to kill themselves without being insane, and that is all
it rests on."

"But she has never recognized any one since that," I urged.

"Perhaps she is ashamed," suggested my companion, simply.

I was struck by the reply. It was such a simple idea that it seemed
almost foolish. But it was a woman's thought about another woman, and it
had its value. I laughed a little, but I answered seriously enough.

"Why should she be ashamed?"

"It seems to me," said the young girl, "that if I had done something
very foolish and wicked, like trying to kill myself, and if people took
it for granted that I was crazy, I would let them believe it, because I
should be too much ashamed of myself to allow that I had consciously
done anything so bad. Perhaps that is very silly; do you think so?"

"I do not think it is silly," I replied. "It is a very original idea."

"Well, I will tell you something. Soon after she was first brought here
I used to go and see her more often than I do now. She interested me so
much. I was often alone with her. She never answered any questions, but
she would sometimes let me read aloud to her. I do not know whether she
understood anything I read, but it soothed her, and occasionally she
would go to sleep while I was reading. One day I was sitting quite
quietly beside her, and she looked at me very sadly, as though she were
thinking of somebody she had loved,--I cannot tell why; and without
thinking I looked at her, and said, 'Dear aunt Annie, tell me, you are
not really mad, are you?' Then she turned very pale and began to cry, so
that I was frightened, and called the nurse, and went away. I never told
anybody, because it seemed so foolish of me, and I thought I had been
unkind, and had hurt her feelings. But after that she did not seem to
want to see me when I came, and so I have thought a great deal about it.
Do you see? Perhaps there is not much connection."

"I think you ought to have told some one; your father, for instance," I
said. "It is very interesting."

"I have told you, though it is so long since it happened," she answered;
and then she added, quickly, "Shall you tell Professor Cutter?"

"No," I replied, after a moment's hesitation. "I do not think I shall.
Should you like me to tell him?"

"Oh, no," she exclaimed quickly, "I should much rather you would not."

"Why?" I inquired. "I agree with you, but I should like to know your
reason."

"I think Professor Cutter knows more already than he will tell you or
me"---- She checked herself, and then continued in a lower voice: "It is
prejudice, of course, but I do not like him. I positively cannot bear
the sight of him."

"I fancy he knows that you do not like him," I remarked.

"Tell me, Miss Carvel, do you know anything of the reason why Madame
Patoff became insane? If you do know, you must not tell me what it was,
because your father does not wish me to hear it. But I should like to be
sure whether you know all about it or not; whether you and I judge her
from the same point of view, or whether you are better instructed than I
am."

"I know nothing about it," said Hermione, quietly.

She sat gazing into the great fire, one small hand supporting her chin,
and the other resting upon the sharp white head of Fang, who never moved
from her knee. There was a pause, during which we were both wondering
what strange circumstance could have brought the unhappy woman to her
present condition, whether it were that of real or of assumed insanity.

"I do not know," she repeated, at last. "I wish I did; but I suppose it
was something too dreadful to be told. There are such dreadful things in
the world, you know."

"Yes, I know there are," I answered, gravely; and in truth I was
persuaded that the prime cause must have been extraordinary indeed,
since even John Carvel had said that he could not tell me.

"There are such dreadful things," Hermione said again. "Just think how
horrible it would be if"---- She stopped short, and blushed crimson in
the ruddy firelight.

"What?" I asked. But she did not answer, and I saw that the idea had
pained her, whatever it might be. Presently she turned the phrase so as
to make it appear natural enough.

"What a horrible thing it would be if we found that poor aunt Annie only
let us believe she was mad, because she had done something she was sorry
for, and would not own it!"

"Dreadful indeed," I replied. Hermione rose from her deep chair.

"Good-night, Mr. Griggs," she said. "I hope we may all understand
everything some day."

"Good-night, Miss Carvel."

"How careful you are of the formalities!" she said, laughing. "How two
years change everything! It used to be 'Good-night, Hermy,' so short a
time ago!"

"Good-night, Hermy," I said, laughing too, as she took my hand. "If you
are old enough to be called Miss Carvel, I am old enough to call you
Hermy still."

"Oh, I did not mean that," she said, and went away.

I sat a few minutes by the fire after she had gone, and then, fearing
lest I should be disturbed by the professor or John Carvel, I too left
the hall, and went to my own room, to think over the events of the day.
I had learned so much that I was confused, and needed rest and leisure
to reflect. That morning I had waked with a sensation of unsatisfied
curiosity. All I had wanted to discover had been told me before
bed-time, and more also; and now I was unpleasantly aware that this very
curiosity was redoubled, and that, having been promoted from knowing
nothing to knowing something, I felt I had only begun to guess how much
there was to be known.

Oh, this interest in other people's business! How grand and beautiful
and simple a thing it is to mind one's own affairs, and leave other
people to mind what concerns them! And yet I defy the most indifferent
man alive to let himself be put in my position, and not to feel
curiosity; to be taken into a half confidence of the most intense
interest, and not to desire exceedingly to be trusted with the
remainder; to be asked to consider and give an opinion upon certain
effects, and to be deliberately informed that he may never know the
causes which led to the results he sees.

On mature reflection, what had struck me as most remarkable in
connection with the whole matter was Hermione's simple, almost childlike
guess,--that Madame Patoff was ashamed of something, and was willing to
be considered insane, rather than let it be thought she was in
possession of her faculties at the time when she did the deed, whatever
it might be. That this was a conceivable hypothesis there was no manner
of doubt, only I could hardly imagine what action, apart from the poor
woman's attempt at suicide, could have been so serious as to persuade
her to act insanity for the rest of her life. Surely John Carvel, with
his great, kind heart, would not be unforgiving. But John Carvel might
not have been concerned in the matter at all. He spoke of knowing the
details and being unable to tell them to me, but he never said they
concerned any one but Madame Patoff.

Strange that Hermione should not know, either. Whatever the details
were, they were not fit for her young ears. It was strange, too, that
she should have conceived an antipathy for the professor. He was a man
who was generally popular, or who at least had the faculty of making
himself acceptable when he chose; but it was perfectly evident that the
scientist and the young girl disliked each other. There was more in it
than appeared upon the surface. Innocent young girls do not suddenly
contract violent prejudices against elderly and inoffensive men who do
not weary them or annoy them in some way; still less do men of large
intellect and experience take unreasoning and foolish dislikes to young
and beautiful maidens. We know little of the hidden sympathies and
antipathies of the human heart, but we know enough to say with certainty
that in broad cases the average human being will not, without cause, act
wholly in contradiction to the dictates of reason and the probabilities
of human nature.

I lay awake long that night, and for many nights afterwards, trying to
explain to myself these problems, and planning ways and means for
discovering whether or not the beautiful old lady down-stairs was in her
right mind, or was playing a shameful and wicked trick upon the man who
sheltered her. But though other events followed each other with
rapidity, it was long before I got at the truth and settled the
question. Whether or not I was right in wishing to pursue the secret to
its ultimate source and explanation, I leave you to judge. I will only
say that, although I was at first impelled by what seems now a wretched
and worthless curiosity, I found, as time went on, that there was such a
multiplicity of interests at stake, that the complications were so
singular and unexpected and the passions aroused so masterful and
desperate, that, being in the fight, I had no choice but to fight it to
the end. So I did my very best in helping those to whom I owed
allegiance by all the laws of hospitality and gratitude, and in
concentrating my whole strength and intelligence and activity in the
discovery of an evil which I suspected from the first to be very great,
but of which I was far from realizing the magnitude and extent.

You will forgive my thus speaking of myself, and this apology for my
doings at this stage of my story; but I am aware that my motives
hitherto may have appeared contemptible, and I am anxious to have you
understand that when I found myself suddenly placed in what I regard as
one of the most extraordinary situations of my life, I honestly put my
hand out, and strove to become an agent for good in that strange series
of events into which my poor curiosity had originally brought me. And
having thus explained and expressed myself in concluding what I may
regard as the first part of my story, I promise that I will not trouble
you again, dear lady, with any unnecessary asseverations of my good
faith, nor with any useless defense of my actions; conceiving that
although I am responsible to you for the telling of this tale, I am
answerable to many for the part I played in the circumstances here
related; and that, on the other hand, though no one can find much fault
with me for my doings, none but you will have occasion to criticise my
mode of telling them.

Henceforth, therefore, and to the end, I will speak of events which
happened from an historical point of view, frequently detailing
conversations in which I took no part and scenes of which I had not at
the time any knowledge, and only introducing myself in the first person
when the nature of the story requires it.



XI.


One might perhaps define the difference between Professor Cutter and
Paul Patoff by saying that the Russian endeavored to make a favorable
impression upon people about him, and then to lead them on by means of
the impression he had created, whereas the scientist enjoyed feeling
that he had a hidden power over his surroundings, while he allowed
people to think that he was only blunt and outspoken. Essentially, there
was between the two men the difference that exists between a diplomatist
and a conspirator. Patoff loved to appear brilliant, to talk well, to be
liked by everybody, and to accomplish everything by persuasion; he
seemed to enjoy the world and his position in it, and it was part of his
plan of life to acknowledge his little vanities, and to make others feel
that they need only take a sufficient pride in themselves to become as
shining lights in the social world as Paul Patoff. At a small cost to
himself, he favored the general opinion in regard to his eccentricity,
because the reputation of it gave him a certain amount of freedom he
would not otherwise have enjoyed. He undertook many obligations, in his
constant readiness to be agreeable to all men, and perhaps, if he had
not reserved to himself the liberty of some occasional repose, he would
have found the burden of his responsibilities intolerable. It was his
maxim that one should never appear to refuse anything to any one, and it
is no easy matter to do that, especially when it is necessary never to
neglect an opportunity of gaining an advantage for one's self. For the
whole aim of Patoff's policy at that time was selfish. He believed that
he possessed the secret of power in his own indomitable will, and he
cultivated the science of persuasion, until he acquired an infinite art
in adapting the means to the end. Every kind of knowledge served him,
and though his mind was perhaps not really profound, it was far from
being superficial, and the surface of it which he presented when he
chose was vast. It was impossible to speak of any question of history,
science, ethics, or æsthetics of which Patoff was ignorant, and his
information on most points was more than sufficient to help him in
artfully indorsing the opinions of those about him. He was full of tact.
It was impossible to make him disagree with any one, and yet he was so
skillful in his conversation that he was generally thought to have a
very sound judgment. His system was substantially one of harmless
flattery, and he never departed from it. He reckoned on the unfathomable
vanity of man, and he rarely was out in his reckoning; he counted upon
woman's admiration of dominating characters, and was not disappointed,
for women respected him, and were proportionately delighted when he
asked their opinion.

In this, as in all other things, the professor was the precise opposite
of the diplomatist. Cutter affected an air of sublime simplicity, and
cultivated a straightforward bluntness of expression which was not
without weight. He prided himself on saying at once that he either had
an opinion upon a subject, or had none; and if he chanced to have formed
any judgment he was hot in its support. His intellect was really
profound within the limits he had chosen for his activity, and his
experience of mankind was varied and singular. He was a man who cared
little for detail, except when details tended to elucidate the whole,
for his first impressions were accurate and large. With his strong and
sanguine nature he exhibited a rough frankness appropriate to his
character. He was strong-handed, strong-minded, and strong-tongued; a
man who loved to rule others, and who made no secret of it; impatient of
contradiction when he stated his views, but sure never to assume a
position in argument or in affairs which he did not believe himself
able to maintain against all comers.

But with this appearance of hearty honesty the scientist possessed the
remarkable quality of discretion, not often found in sanguine
temperaments. He loved to understand the secrets of men's lives, and to
feel that if need be he could govern people by main force and wholly
against their will. He could conceal anything, any knowledge he
possessed, any strong passion he felt, with amazing skill. At the very
time when he seemed to be most frankly speaking his mind, when he made
his honest strength appear as open as the day, as though scorning all
concealment and courting inquiry into his motives, he was capable of
completely hiding his real intentions, of professing ignorance in
matters in which he was profoundly versed, of appearing to be as cold as
stone when his heart was as hot as fire. He was a man of violent
passions in love and hate, unforgetting and unforgiving, who never
relented in the pursuit of an object, nor weighed the cruelty of the
means in comparison with the importance of the end. He had by nature a
temperament fitted for conspiracy and planned to disarm suspicion. He
was incomparably superior to Paul Patoff in powers of mind and in the
art of concealment, he was equal to him in the unchanging determination
of his will, but he was by far inferior to him in those external gifts
which charm the world and command social success.

These two remarkable men had met before they found themselves together
under John Carvel's roof, but they did not appear to have been intimate.
It was, indeed, very difficult to imagine what their relations could
have been, for they occasionally seemed to understand each other
perfectly upon matters not understood by the rest of us, whereas they
sometimes betrayed a surprising ignorance in regard to each other's
affairs.

From the time when the professor arrived it was apparent that Hermione
did not like him; and that Cutter was aware of the fact. It had not
needed the young girl's own assurance to inform me of the antipathy she
felt for the man of science. He had seen her before, but Hermione had
suddenly grown into a young lady since his last visit, and the
consequence was that she was thrown far more often into the society of
the man she disliked than had been the case when she was still in the
schoolroom. John Carvel never liked governesses, and as soon as
practicable the last one had been discharged, so that Hermione was left
to the society of her mother and aunt and of such visitors as chanced to
be staying in the house. She was fond of her brother, but had seen
little of him, and stood rather in awe of his superior genius; for
Macaulay was a young man who possessed in a very high degree what we
call the advantages of modern education. She loved him and looked up to
him, but did not understand him in the least, because people who have a
great deal of heart do not easily comprehend the nature of people who
have little; and Macaulay Carvel's manner of talking about men, and even
nations, as though they were mere wooden pawns, or sets of pawns,
puzzled his sister's simpler views of humanity. Her mother did not
always interest her, either; she was devotedly attached to her, but Mrs.
Carvel, as she grew older, became more and more absolved in the strange
sort of inner religious life which she had created for herself as a kind
of stronghold in the midst of her surroundings, and when alone with her
daughter was apt to talk too much upon serious subjects. To a young and
beautiful girl, who felt herself entering the vestibule of the world in
the glow of a wondrous dawn, the somewhat mournful contemplation of the
spiritual future could not possibly have the charm such meditation
possessed for a woman in middle age, who had passed through the halls of
the palace of life without seeing many of its beauties, and who already,
in the dim distance, caught sight of the shadowy gate whereby we must
all descend from this world's sumptuous dwelling, to tread the silent
labyrinths of the unknown future.

Such society as Mrs. Carvel's was not good for Hermione. It is not good
for any girl. It is before all things important that youth should be
young, lest it should not know how to be old when age comes upon it. Nor
is there anything that should be further removed from youth than the
contemplation of death, which to old age is but a haven of rest to be
desired, whereas to those who are still young it is an abyss to be
abhorred. It is well to say, "_Memento, homo, quia pulvis es_," but not
to say it too often, lest the dust of individual human existence make
cobwebs in the existence of humanity.

As for her aunt Chrysophrasia, Hermione liked to talk to her, because
Miss Dabstreak was amusing, with her everlasting paradoxes upon
everything; and because, not being by nature of an evil heart, and
desiring to be eccentric beyond her fellows, she was not altogether
averse to the mild martyrdom of being thought ridiculous by those who
held contrary opinions. Nevertheless, her aunt's company did not satisfy
all Hermione's want of society, and the advent of strangers, even of
myself, was hailed by her with delight. The fact of her conceiving a
particular antipathy for the professor was therefore all the more
remarkable, because she rarely shunned the society of any one with whom
she had an opportunity of exchanging ideas. But Cutter did not like to
be disliked, and he sought an occasion of making her change her mind in
regard to him. A few days after my visit to Madame Patoff, the professor
found his chance. Macaulay Carvel, Paul Patoff, and I left the house
early to ride to a distant meet, for Patoff had expressed his desire to
follow the hounds, and, as usual, everybody was anxious to oblige him.

After breakfast the professor watched until he saw Hermione enter the
conservatory, where she usually spent a part of the morning alone among
the flowers; sometimes making an elaborate inspection of the plants she
loved best, sometimes sitting for an hour or two with a book in some
remote corner, among the giant tropical leaves and the bright-colored
blossoms. She loved not only the flowers, but the warmth of the place,
in the bitter winter weather.

Cutter entered with a supremely unconscious air, as though he believed
there was no one in the conservatory. There was nothing professorial
about his appearance, except his great spectacles, through which he
gazed benignly at the luxuriant growth of plants, as he advanced, his
hands in the pockets of his plaid shooting-coat. He was dressed as any
other man might be in the country; he had selected an unostentatious
plaid for the material of his clothes, and he wore a colored tie, which
just showed beneath the wave of his thick beard. He trod slowly but
firmly, putting his feet down as though prepared to prove his right to
the ground he trod on.

"Oh! Are you here, Miss Carvel?" he exclaimed, as he caught sight of
Hermione installed in a cane chair behind some plants. She was not much
pleased at being disturbed, but she looked up with a slight smile,
willing to be civil.

"Since you ask me, I am," she replied.

"Whereas if I had not asked you, you would have affected not to be here,
you mean? How odd it is that just when one sees a person one should
always ask them if one sees them or not! In this case, I suppose the
pleasure of seeing you was so great that I doubted the evidence of my
senses. Is that the way to turn a speech?"

"It is a way of turning one, certainly," answered Hermione. "There may
be other ways. I have not much experience of people who turn speeches."

"I have had great experience of them," said the professor, "and I
confess to you that I consider the practice of turning everything into
compliment as a disagreeable and tiresome humbug."

"I was just thinking the same thing," said Hermione.

"Then we shall agree."

"Provided you practice what you preach, we shall."

"Did you ever know me to preach what I did not practice?" asked Cutter,
with a smile of honest amusement.

"I have not known much of you, either in preaching or in practicing, as
yet. We shall see."

"Shall I begin now?"

"If you like," answered the young girl.

"Which shall it be, preaching or practicing?"

"I should say that, as you have me entirely at your mercy, the
opportunity is favorable for preaching."

"I would not make such an unfair use of my advantage," said the
professor. "I detest preaching. In practice I never preach"----

"You are making too much conversation out of those two words,"
interrupted Hermione. "If I let you go on, you will be making puns upon
them."

"You do not like puns?"

"I think nothing is more contemptible."

"Merely because that way of being funny is grown old-fashioned," said
Cutter. "Fifty or sixty years ago, a hundred years ago, when a man
wanted to be very bitingly sarcastic, he would compose a criticism upon
his enemy which was only a long string of abominable puns; each pun was
printed in italics. That was thought to be very funny."

"You would not imitate that sort of fun, would you?" asked Hermione.

"No. You would think it no joke if I did," answered Cutter, gravely.

"I am not going to laugh," said Hermione. But she laughed, nevertheless.

"Pray do not laugh if you do not want to," said Cutter. "I am used to
being thought dull. Your gravity would not wound me though I were chief
clown to the whole universe, and yours were the only grave face in the
world. By the by, you are laughing, I see. I am much obliged for the
appreciation. Shall I go on being funny?"

"Not if you can help it," said Hermione.

"Do you insinuate that I am naturally an object for laughter?" asked
Cutter, smiling. "Do you mean that 'I am not only witty in myself, but
the cause that wit is in other men'? If so, I may yet make you spend a
pleasant hour in despite of yourself, without any great effort on my own
part. I will sit here, and you shall laugh at me. The morning will pass
very agreeably."

"I should think you might find something better to do," returned
Hermione. "But they say that small things amuse great minds."

"If I had a great mind, do you think I should look upon it as a small
thing to be laughed at by you, Miss Carvel?" inquired Cutter, quietly.

"You offer yourself so readily to be my laughing-stock that I am forced
to consider what you offer a small thing," returned his companion.

"You are exceedingly sarcastic. In that case, I have not a great mind,
as you supposed."

"You are fishing for a compliment, I presume."

"Perhaps. I wish you would pay me compliments--in earnest. I am vain. I
like to be appreciated. You do not like me,--I should like to be liked
by you."

"You are talking nonsense, Professor Cutter," said the young girl,
raising her eyebrows a little. "If I did not like you, it would be
uncivil of you to say you had found it out, unless I treated you
rudely."

"It may be nonsense, Miss Carvel. I speak according to my lights."

"Then I should say that for a luminary of science your light is very
limited," returned Hermione.

"In future I will hide my light under a bushel, since it displeases
you."

"Something smaller than a bushel would serve the purpose. But it does
not please me that you should be in the dark; I would rather you had
more light."

"You have only to look at me," said the scientist, with a laugh.

"I thought you professed not to make silly compliments. My mother tells
me that the true light should come from within," added Hermione, with a
little scorn.

"Religious enthusiasts, who make those phrases, spend their lives in
studying themselves," retorted Cutter. "They think they see light where
they most wish to find it. I spend my time in studying other people."

"I should think you would find it vastly more interesting."

"I do; especially when you are one of the people I am permitted to
study."

"If you think I will permit it long, you are mistaken," said Hermione,
who was beginning to lose her temper, without precisely knowing why. She
took up her book and a piece of embroidery she had brought with her, as
though she would go.

"You cannot help my making a study of you," returned the professor,
calmly. "If you leave me now, I regard it as an interesting feature in
your case."

"I will afford you that much interest, at all events," answered
Hermione, rising to her feet. She was annoyed, and the blood rose to her
delicate cheeks, while her downcast lashes hid the anger in her eyes.
But she did not know the man, if she thought he would let himself be
treated so lightly. She knew neither him nor his weapons.

"Miss Carvel, permit me to ask your forgiveness," he said. "I am so fond
of hearing myself talk that my tongue runs away with me."

"Why do you tease me so?" asked Hermione, suddenly raising her eyes and
facing Cutter. But before he could answer her she laid down her work and
her book, and walked slowly away from him. She reached the opposite side
of the broad conservatory, and turned back.

Cutter's whole manner had changed the moment he saw that she was
seriously annoyed. He knew well enough that he had said nothing for
which the girl could be legitimately angry, but he understood her
antipathy to him too well not to know that it could easily be excited at
any moment to an open expression of dislike. On the present occasion,
however, he had resolved to fathom, if possible, the secret cause of the
feeling the beautiful Hermione entertained against him.

"Miss Carvel," he said, very gently, as she advanced again towards him,
"I like to talk to you, of all people, but you do not like me,--forgive
my saying it, for I am in earnest,--and I lose my temper because I
cannot find out why."

Hermione stood still for a moment, and looked straight into the
professor's eyes; she saw that they met hers with such an honest
expression of regret that her heart was touched. She stooped and picked
a flower, and held it in her hand some seconds before she answered.

"It was I who was wrong," she said, presently. "Let us be friends. It is
not that I do not like you,--really I believe it is not that. It is
that, somehow, you do manage to--to tease me, I suppose." She blushed.
"I am sure you do not mean it. It is very foolish of me, I know."

"If you could only tell me exactly where my fault lies," said Cutter,
earnestly, "I am sure I would never commit it again. You do not
seriously believe that I ever intend to annoy you?"

"N--no," hesitated Hermione. "No, you do not intend to annoy me, and yet
I think it amuses you sometimes to see that I am angry about nothing."

"It does not amuse me," said Cutter. "My tongue gets the better of me,
and then I am very sorry afterwards. Let us be friends, as you say. We
have more serious things to think of than quarreling in our
conversation. Say you forgive me, as freely as I say that it has been my
fault."

There was something so natural and humble in the way the man spoke that
Hermione had no choice but to put out her hand and agree to the truce.
Professor Cutter was as old as her father, though he looked ten years
younger, or more; he had a world-wide reputation in more than one branch
of science; he was altogether what is called a celebrated man; and he
stood before her asking to "make friends," as simply as a schoolboy.
Hermione had no choice.

"Of course," she answered, and then added with a smile, "only you must
really not tease me any more."

"I won't," said Cutter, emphatically.

They sat down again, side by side, and were silent for some moments. It
seemed to Hermione as though she had made an important compact, and she
did not feel altogether certain of the result. She could have laughed at
the idea that her making up her differences with the professor was of
any real importance in her life, but nevertheless she felt that it was
so, and she was inclined to think over what she had done. Her hands lay
folded upon her lap, and she idly gazed at them, and thought how small
and white they looked upon the dark blue serge. Cutter spoke first.

"I suppose," he began, "that when we are not concerned with our own
immediate affairs, we are all of us thinking of the same thing. Indeed,
though we live very much as though nothing were the matter, we are
constantly aware that one subject occupies us all alike."

To tell the truth, Hermione was not at that moment thinking of poor
Madame Patoff. She raised her eyes with an inquiring glance.

"I am very much preoccupied," continued the professor. "I have not the
least idea whether we have done wisely in allowing Paul to see his
mother."

"If she knew him, I imagine it was a good thing," answered Hermione.
"How long is it since they met?"

"Eighteen months, or more. They met last in very painful circumstances,
I believe. You see the impression was strong enough to outlive her
insanity. She was not glad to see him."

"Why will they not tell me what drove her mad?" asked Hermione.

"It is not a very nice story," answered the professor. "It is probably
on account of Paul." There was a short pause.

"Do you mean that she went mad on account of something Paul did?" asked
Hermione presently.

"I am not sure I can tell you that. I wish you could know the whole
story, but your father would never consent to it, I am sure."

"If it is not nice, I do not wish to hear it," said Hermione, quietly.
"I only wanted to know about Paul. You gave me the impression that it
was in some way his fault."

"In some way it was," replied Cutter. "Poor lady,--I am not sure we
should have let her see him."

"Does she suffer much, do you think?"

"No. If she suffered much, she would fall ill and probably die. I do not
think she has any consciousness of her situation. I have known people
like that who were mad only three or four days in the week. She never
has a lucid moment. I am beginning to think it is hopeless, and we might
as well advise your father to have her taken to a private asylum. The
experiment would be interesting."

"Why?" asked Hermione. "She gives nobody any trouble here. It would be
unkind. She is not violent, nor anything of that sort. We should all
feel dreadfully if anything happened to her in the asylum. Besides, I
thought it was a great thing that she should have known Paul yesterday."

"Not so great as one might fancy. I think that if there were much chance
of her recovery, the recognition of her son ought to have brought back a
long train of memories, amounting almost to a lucid interval."

"I understood that you had spoken more hopefully last night," said
Hermione, doubtfully. "You seem discouraged to-day."

"With most people it is necessary to appear hopeful at any price,"
answered Cutter. "I feel that with you I am perfectly safe in saying
precisely what I think. You will not misinterpret what I say, nor repeat
it to every other member of the household."

"No, indeed. I am glad you tell me the truth, but I had hoped it was not
as bad as you say."

"Your aunt is very mad indeed, Miss Carvel," said the professor.

I may observe, in passing, that what the professor said to me differed
very materially from what he said to Hermione, a circumstance we did not
discover until a later date. For Hermione, having given her promise not
to repeat what Cutter told her about her aunt, kept it faithfully, and
did not even assume an air of superiority when speaking about the case
to others. She believed exactly what the professor said, namely, that he
trusted her, and no one else, with his true views of the matter; and
that, to all others, he assumed an air of hopefulness very far removed
from his actual state of mind.

Singularly,--or naturally, as you look at it,--the result of the
conversation between Hermione and the professor was the complete
disappearance, for some time, of all their differences. Cutter ceased to
annoy her with his sharp answers to all she said, and she showed a
growing interest in him and in his conversation. They were frequently
seen talking together, apparently taking pleasure in each other's
society, a fact which I alone noticed as interesting, for Patoff had not
been long enough at Carvel Place to discover that there had ever been
any antipathy between the two. On looking back, I ascribe the change to
the influence Cutter obtained over Hermione by suddenly affecting a
great earnestness and a sincere regret for the annoyance he had given in
the past, and by admitting her, as he gave her to understand that he
did, to his confidence in the matter of Madame Patoff's insanity. Be
that as it may, the result was obtained very easily by the professor;
and when Hermione left him, before lunch, it is probable that in the
solitude of the conservatory the man of science rubbed his gigantic
hands together, and beamed upon the orchids with unusual benignity.

But while this new alliance was being formed in the conservatory,
another conversation was taking place in a distant part of the house,
not less interesting, perhaps, but not destined to reach so peaceable a
conclusion. The scene of this other meeting was Miss Chrysophrasia
Dabstreak's especial boudoir, an apartment so singular in its furniture
and adornment that I will leave out all description of it, and ask you
merely to imagine, at will, the most æsthetic retreat of the most
æsthetic old maid in existence.

After breakfast, that morning, Chrysophrasia had sent word to Mrs.
Carvel that she should be glad to see her, if she could come up to her
boudoir. Chrysophrasia never came down to breakfast. She regarded that
meal as a barbarism, forgetting that the mediæval persons she admired
began their days by taking to themselves a goodly supply of food. She
never appeared before lunch, but spent her mornings in the solitude of
her own apartment, probably in the composition of verses which have
remained hitherto unpublished. Mrs. Carvel at once acceded to the
request conveyed in her sister's message, and went to answer the
summons. She was not greatly pleased at the idea of spending the morning
with her sister, for she devoted the early hours to religious reading
whenever she was able; but she was the most obliging woman in the world,
and so she quietly put aside her own wishes, and mounted the stairs to
Miss Dabstreak's boudoir. She found the latter clad in loose garments of
strange cut and hue, and a green silk handkerchief was tied about her
forehead, presumably out of respect for certain concealed curl papers
rather than for any direct purpose of adornment. Chrysophrasia looked
very faded in the morning. As Mrs. Carvel entered the room, her sister
pointed languidly to a chair, and then paused a moment, as though to
recover from the exertion.

"Mary," said she at last, and even from the first tone of her voice Mrs.
Carvel felt that a severe lecture was imminent,--"Mary, this thing is a
hollow sham. It cannot be allowed to go on any longer."

Mrs. Carvel's face assumed a sweet and sad expression, and folding her
hands upon her knees, she leaned slightly forward from the chair upon
which she sat, and prepared to soothe her sister's views upon hollow
shams in general.

"My dear," said she, "you must endeavor to be charitable."

"I do not see the use of being charitable," returned Chrysophrasia, with
more energy than she was wont to display. "Dear me, Mary, what in the
world has charity to do with the matter? Can you look at me and say that
it has anything to do with it?"

No. Mary could not look at her and say so, for a very good reason. She
had not the most distant idea what Chrysophrasia was talking about. On
general principles, she had made a remark about being charitable, and
was now held to account for it. She smiled timidly, as though to
deprecate her sister's vengeance.

"Mary," said Chrysophrasia, in a tone of sorrowful rebuke, "I am afraid
you are not listening to me."

"Indeed I am," said Mrs. Carvel, patiently.

"Well, then, Mary, I say it is a hollow sham, and that it cannot go on
any longer."

"Yes, my dear," assented her sister. "I have no doubt you are right; but
what were you referring to as a hollow sham?"

"You are hopeless, Mary,--you have no intuitions. Of course I mean
Paul."

Even this was not perfectly clear, and Mrs. Carvel looked inquiringly at
her sister.

"Is it possible you do not understand?" asked Chrysophrasia. "Do you
propose to allow my niece--my niece, Mary, and your daughter," she
repeated with awful emphasis--"to fall in love with her own cousin?"

"I am sure the dear child would never think of such a thing," answered
Mary Carvel, very gently, and as though not wishing to contradict her
sister. "He has not been here twenty-four hours."

"The dear child is thinking of it at this very moment," said
Chrysophrasia. "And what is more, Paul has come here with the deliberate
intention of marrying her. I have seen it from the first moment he
entered the house. I can see it in his eyes."

"Well, my dear, you may be right. But I have not noticed anything of the
sort, and I think you go too far. You will jump at conclusions,
Chrysophrasia."

"If I went at them at all, Mary, I would glide,--I certainly would not
jump," replied the æsthetic lady, with a languid smile. Mrs. Carvel
looked wearily out of the window. "Besides," continued Chrysophrasia,
"the thing is quite impossible. Paul is not at all a match. Hermy will
be very rich, some day. John will not leave everything to Macaulay: I
have heard him say so."

"Why do you discuss the matter, Chrysophrasia?" objected Mrs. Carvel,
with a little shade of very mild impatience. "There is no question of
Hermy marrying Paul."

"Then Paul ought to go away at once."

"We cannot send him away. Besides, I think he is a very good fellow. You
forget that poor Annie is in the house, and he has a right to see her,
at least for a week."

"It seems to me that Annie might go and live with him."

"He has no home, poor fellow,--he is in the diplomatic service. He is
made to fly from Constantinople to Persia, and from Persia to St.
Petersburg; how could he take poor Annie with him?"

"If poor Annie chose," said Chrysophrasia, sniffing the air with a
disagreeable expression, "poor Annie could go. If she has sense enough
to dress herself gorgeously and to read dry books all day, she has sense
enough to travel."

"Oh, Chrysophrasia! How dreadfully unkind you are! You know how--ill she
is."

Mrs. Carvel did not like to pronounce the word "insane." She always
spoke of Madame Patoff's "illness."

"I do not believe it," returned Miss Dabstreak. "She is no more crazy
than I am. I believe Professor Cutter knows it, too. Only he has been
used to saying that she is mad for so long that he will not believe his
senses, for fear of contradicting himself."

"In any case I would rather trust to him than to my own judgment."

"I would not. I am utterly sick of this perpetual disturbance about
Annie's state of mind. It destroys the charm of a peaceful existence. If
I had the strength, I would go to her and tell her that I know she is
perfectly sane, and that she must leave the house. John is so silly
about her. He turns the place into an asylum, just because she chooses
to hold her tongue."

Mrs. Carvel rose with great dignity.

"I will leave you, Chrysophrasia," she said. "I cannot bear to hear you
talk in this way. You really ought to be more charitable."

"You are angry, Mary," replied her sister. "Good-by. I cannot bear the
strain of arguing with you. When you are calmer you will remember what I
have said."

Poor Mrs. Carvel certainly exhibited none of the ordinary symptoms of
anger, as she quietly left the room, with an expression of pain upon her
gentle face. When Chrysophrasia was very unreasonable her only course
was to go away; for she was wholly unable to give a rough answer, or to
defend herself against her sister's attacks. Mary went in search of her
husband, and was glad to find him in the library, among his books.

"John dear, may I come in?" asked Mrs. Carvel, opening the door of her
husband's library, and standing on the threshold.

"By all means," exclaimed John, looking up. "Anything wrong?" he
inquired, observing the expression of his wife's face.

"John," said Mrs. Carvel, coming near to him and laying her hand gently
on his shoulder, "tell me--do you think there is likely to be anything
between Paul and Hermy?"

"Gracious goodness! what put that into your head?" asked Carvel.

"I have been with Chrysophrasia"--began Mary.

"Chrysophrasia! Oh! Is that it?" cried John in discontented tones. "I
wish Chrysophrasia would mind her own business, and not talk nonsense!"

"It is nonsense, is it not?"

"Of course,--absolute rubbish! I would not hear of it, to begin with!"
he exclaimed, as though that were sufficient evidence that the thing was
impossible.

"No, indeed," echoed Mrs. Carvel, but in more doubtful tones. "Of
course, Paul is a very good fellow. But yet"---- She hesitated. "After
all, they are cousins," she added suddenly, "and that is a great
objection."

"I hope you will not think seriously of any such marriage, Mary," said
John Carvel, with great decision. "They are cousins, and there are
twenty other reasons why they should not marry."

"Are there? I dare say you are right, and of course there is no
probability of either of them thinking of such a thing. But after all,
Paul is a very marriageable fellow, John."

"I would not consent to his marrying my daughter, though," returned
Carvel. "I have no doubt it is all right about his brother, who
disappeared on a dark night in Constantinople. But I would not let Hermy
marry anybody who had such a story connected with his name."

"Surely, John, you are not so unkind as to give any weight to that
spiteful accusation. It was very dreadful, but there never was the
slightest ground for believing that Paul had a hand in it. Even
Professor Cutter, who does not like him, always said so. That was one of
the principal proofs of poor Annie's madness."

"I know, my dear. But to the end of time people will go on asking where
Paul's brother is, and will look suspicious when he is mentioned.
Cutter, whom you quote, says the same thing, though he believes Paul
perfectly innocent, as I do myself. Do you suppose I would have a man in
the house whom I suspected of having murdered his brother?"

"What a dreadful idea!" exclaimed Mrs. Carvel. "But if you liked him
very much, and wanted him to marry Hermy, would you let that silly bit
of gossip stand in the way of the match?"

"I don't know what I should do. Perhaps not. But Hermy shall marry whom
she pleases, provided she marries a gentleman. She has no more idea of
marrying Paul than Chrysophrasia has, or than Paul has of marrying her.
Besides, she is far too young to think of such things."

"Really, John, Hermy is nineteen. She is nearly twenty."

"My dear," retorted Carvel, "you will make me think you want them to
marry."

"Nonsense, John!"

"Well, nonsense, if you like. But Chrysophrasia has been putting this
ridiculous notion into your head. I believe she is in love with Paul
herself."

"Oh, John!" exclaimed Mrs. Carvel, smiling at the idea.

But John rose from his chair, and indulged in a hearty laugh at the
thought of Chrysophrasia's affection for Patoff. Then he stirred the
fire vigorously, till the coals broke into a bright blaze.

"Annie is better," he said presently, without looking round. "You know
she recognized Paul; and Griggs thought she knew him, too, when he went
in with Cutter, the other night."

"Would you like me to go and see her to-day?" asked Mrs. Carvel. Her
husband had already told her the news and seemed to be repeating it now
out of sheer satisfaction.

"Perhaps she may know you," he answered. "Have you seen Mrs. North this
morning?"

"Yes. She says Annie has not slept very well since that day."

"The meeting excited her. Better wait a day or two longer, before doing
anything else. At any rate, we ought to ask Cutter before making another
experiment."

"Why did you not go to the meet to-day?" asked Mrs. Carvel suddenly.

"I wanted to have a morning at my books," answered John. His wife took
the answer as a hint to go away, and presently left the room, feeling
that her mind had been unnecessarily troubled by her sister. But in her
honest self-examination, when she had returned to her own room and to
the perusal of Jeremy Taylor's sermons, she acknowledged to herself that
she had a liking for Paul Patoff, and that she could not understand why
both her sister and her husband should at the very beginning scout the
idea of his marrying Hermione. Of course there was not the slightest
reason for supposing that Hermione liked him at all, but there was
nothing to show that she would not like him here-after.

Late in the afternoon we three came back from our long day with the
hounds, hungry and thirsty and tired. When I came down from my room to
get some tea, I found that Patoff had been quicker than I; he was
already comfortably installed by the fireside, with Fang at his feet,
while Hermione sat beside him. Mrs. Carvel was at the tea-table, at some
little distance, with her work in her hands, but neither John nor
Chrysophrasia was in the room. As I sat down and began to drink my tea,
I watched Paul's face, and it seemed to me that he had changed since I
had seen him in Teheran, six months ago. I had not liked him much. I am
not given to seeking acquaintance, and had certainly not sought his, but
in the Persian capital one necessarily knew every one in the little
European colony, and I had met him frequently. I had then been struck by
the stony coldness which appeared to underlie his courteous manner, and
I had thought it was part of the strange temper he was said to possess.
Treating his colleagues and all whom he met with the utmost affability,
never sullenly silent and often even brilliant in conversation, he
nevertheless had struck me as a man who hated and despised his
fellow-creatures. There had been then a sort of scornful, defiant look
on his large features, which inevitably repelled a stranger until he
began to talk. But he understood eminently the science of making himself
agreeable, and, when he chose, few could so well lead conversation
without imposing themselves upon their hearers. I well remembered the
disdainful coldness of his face when he was listening to some one else,
and I recollected how oddly it contrasted with his courteous forbearing
speech. He would look at a man who made a remark with a cynical stare,
and then in the very next moment would agree with him, and produce
excellent arguments for doing so. One felt that the man's own nature was
at war with itself, and that, while forcing himself to be sociable, he
despised society. It was a thing so evident that I used to avoid looking
at him, because his expression was so unpleasant.

But as I saw him seated by Hermione's side, playing with the great hound
at his feet, and talking quietly with his companion, I was forcibly
struck by the change. His face could not be said to have softened; but
instead of the cold, defiant sneer which had formerly been peculiar to
him, his look was now very grave, and from time to time a pleasant light
passed quickly over his features. Watching him now, I could not fancy
him either violent or eccentric in temper, as he was said to be. It was
as though the real nature of the man had got the better of some malady.

"This is like home," I heard him say. "How happy you must be!"

"Yes, I am very happy," answered Hermione. "I have only one unhappiness
in my life."

"What is that?"

"Poor aunt Annie," said the girl. "I am so dreadfully sorry for her."
The words were spoken in a low tone, and Mrs. Carvel said something to
me just then, so that I could not hear Patoff's answer. But while
talking with my hostess I noticed his earnest manner, and that he seemed
to be telling some story which interested Hermione intensely. His voice
dropped to a lower key, and I heard no more, though he talked for a long
time, as I thought. Then Macaulay Carvel and Professor Cutter entered
the room. I saw Cutter look at the pair by the fire, and, after
exchanging a few words with Mrs. Carvel, he immediately joined them.
Paul's face assumed suddenly the expression of stony indifference, once
so familiar to me, and I did not hear his voice again. It struck me that
his more gentle look might have been wholly due to the pleasure he took
in Hermione's society; but I dismissed the idea as improbable.

Macaulay sat down by his mother, and began telling the incidents of the
day's hunting in his smooth, unmodulated voice. He was altogether smooth
and unmodulated in appearance, in conversation, and in manner, and he
reminded me more of a model schoolboy, rather vain of his acquirements
and of the favor he enjoyed in the eyes of his masters, than of a grown
Englishman. It would be impossible to imagine a greater contrast than
that which existed between the two cousins, and, little as I was
inclined to like Patoff at first, I was bound to acknowledge that he was
more manly, more dignified, and altogether more attractive than Macaulay
Carvel. It was strange that the sturdy, active, intelligent John should
have such a son, although, on looking at the mother, one recognized the
sweet smile and gentle features, the dutiful submission and quiet
feminine forbearance, which in her face so well expressed her character.

But in spite of the vast difference between them in temperament,
appearance, and education, Macaulay was destined to play a small part in
Patoff's life. He had from the first taken a fancy to his big Russian
cousin, and admired him with all his heart. Paul seemed to be his ideal,
probably because he differed so much from himself; and though Macaulay
felt it was impossible to imitate him, he was content to give him his
earnest admiration. It was to be foreseen that if Paul fell in love with
Hermione he would find a powerful ally in her brother, who was prepared
to say everything good about him, and to extol his virtues to the skies.
Indeed, it was likely that during their short acquaintance Macaulay had
only seen the best points in his cousin's character; for the principal
sins imputed to Patoff were his violence of temper and his selfishness,
and it appeared to me that he had done much to overcome both since I had
last seen him. It is probable that in the last analysis, if this
reputation could have been traced to its source, it would have been
found to have arisen from the gossip concerning his quarrel with his
brother in Constantinople, and from his having once or twice boxed the
ears of some lazy Persian servant in Teheran. None of the Carvel family
knew much of Paul's antecedents. His mother never spoke, and before she
was brought home in her present state, by Professor Cutter, there had
been hardly any communication between her and her sisters since her
marriage. Time had effaced the remembrance of what they had called her
folly when she married Patoff, but the breach had never been healed.
Mrs. Carvel had made one or two efforts at reconciliation, but they had
been coldly received; she was a timid woman, and soon gave up the
attempt. It was not till poor Madame Patoff was brought home hopelessly
insane, and Macaulay had conceived an unbounded admiration for his
cousin, that the old affection was revived, and transferred in some
degree to this son of the lost sister.

As I sat with Mrs. Carvel listening to Macaulay's nerveless,
conscientious description of the day's doings, I thought over all these
things, and wondered what would happen next.

* * *

The days passed much as usual at Carvel Place after the first excitement
of Paul's arrival had worn off; but I regretted that I saw less of
Hermione than formerly, though I found Cutter's society very
interesting. Remembering my promise to see Madame Patoff again, I
visited her once more, but, to my great disappointment, she seemed to
have forgotten me; and though I again spoke to her in Russian, she gave
no answer to my questions, and after a quarter of an hour I retired,
much shaken in my theory that she was not really as mad as was supposed.
It was reserved for some one else to break the spell, if it could be
broken at all, and I felt the hopelessness of making any further
attempt. Though I was not aware of it at the time, I afterwards learned
that Paul visited her again within a week of his arrival. She behaved
very much as on the first occasion, it appears, except that her manner
was more violent than before, so that Cutter deemed it imprudent to
repeat the experiment.

One morning, three weeks after the events last recorded, I was walking
with Hermione in the garden. She was as fond of me as ever, though we
now saw little of each other. But this morning she had seen me alone
among the empty flower-beds, smoking a solitary cigar after breakfast,
and, having nothing better to do, she wrapped herself in a fur cloak and
came out to join me. For a few minutes we talked of the day, and of the
prospect of an early spring, though we were still in January. People
always talk of spring before the winter is half over. I said I wondered
whether Paul would stay to the end of the hunting season.

"I hope so," said Hermione.

"By the by," I remarked, "you seem to have overcome your antipathy for
your cousin. You are very good friends."

"Yes, he is interesting," she answered. "I wonder"---- She paused, and
looked at me rather wistfully. "Have you known him long?" she asked,
suddenly.

"Not very long."

"Do you know anything of his past life?"

"Nothing," I answered. "Nobody does, I fancy, unless it be Professor
Cutter."

"He has been very unhappy, I should think," she said, presently.

"Has he? Has he told you so?" I resented the idea of Paul's confiding
his woes, if he had any, to the lovely girl I had known from a child. It
is too common a way of making love.

"No--that is--yes. He told me about his childhood; how his brother was
the favorite, and he was always second best, and it made him very
unhappy."

"Indeed!" I ejaculated, indifferently enough. I knew nothing about his
brother except that he was dead, or had disappeared and was thought to
be dead. The story had never reached my ears, and I did not know
anything about the circumstances.

"How did his brother die?" I asked.

"Oh, he is dead," answered Hermione gravely. "He died in the East
eighteen months ago. Aunt Annie worshiped him; it was his death that
affected her mind. At least, I believe so. Professor Cutter says it is
something else,--something connected with cousin Paul; but papa seems to
think it was Alexander's death."

"What does the professor say?" I inquired.

"He will not tell me. He is a very odd person. He says it is something
about Paul, and that it is not nice, and that papa would not like me to
know it. And then papa tells me that it was only Alexander's death."

"That is very strange," I said. "If I were you, I would believe your
father rather than the professor."

"Of course; how could I help believing papa?" Hermione turned her
beautiful blue eyes full upon my face, as though wondering at the
simplicity of my remark. Of course she believed her father.

"You would not think Paul capable of doing anything not nice, would
you?" I asked.

Hermione blushed, and looked away towards the distant woods.

"I think he is very nice," she said.

I am Hermione's old friend, but I saw that I had no right to press her
with questions. No friendship gives a man the right to ask the
confidence of a young girl, and, moreover, it was evident from her few
words and from the blush which accompanied them that this was a delicate
subject. If any one were to speak to her, it must be her father. As far
as I knew, there was no reason why she should not love her cousin Paul,
if she admired him half as much as her brother was inclined to do.

"There is only one thing about him which I cannot understand," she
continued, after a short pause. "He seems not to care in the least for
his mother; and yet," she added thoughtfully, "I cannot believe that he
is heartless. I suppose it is because she did not treat him well when he
was a child. I cannot think of any other reason."

"No," I echoed mechanically, "I cannot think of any other reason."

And indeed I could not. I had known nothing of his unhappy childhood
before Hermione had told me of it, and though that did not afford a
sufficient explanation of his evident indifference in regard to his
mother, it was better than nothing. The whole situation seemed to me to
be wrapped in impenetrable mystery, and I was beginning to despair of
ever understanding what was going on about me. John Carvel treated me
most affectionately, and delighted in entrapping me into the library to
talk about books; but he scarcely ever referred to Madame Patoff. Cutter
would walk or ride with me for hours, talking over the extraordinary
cases of insanity he had met with in his experience; but he never would
give me the least information in regard to the events which had preceded
the accident at Weissenstein. I was entirely in the dark.

A catastrophe was soon to occur, however, which led to my acquaintance
with all the details of Alexander's disappearance in Stamboul. I will
tell what happened as well as I can from what was afterwards told me by
the persons most concerned.

A week after my conversation with Hermione, the train was fired which
led to a very remarkable concatenation of circumstances. You have
foreseen that Paul would fall in love with his beautiful young cousin.
Chrysophrasia foresaw it from the first moment of his appearance at
Carvel Place, with that keen scent for romance which sometimes
characterizes romantic old maids. If I were telling you a love story, I
could make a great deal out of Paul's courtship. But this is the history
of the extraordinary things which befell Paul Patoff, and for the
present it is sufficient to say that he was in love with Hermione, and
that he had never before cared seriously for any woman. He was cold by
nature, and his wandering life as a diplomatist, together with his fixed
determination to excel in his career, had not been favorable to the
development of love in his heart. The repose of Carvel Place, the
novelty of the life, and the comparative freedom from all
responsibility, had relaxed the hard shell of his sensibilities, and the
beauty and grace of Hermione had easily fascinated him. She, on her
part, had distinguished with a woman's natural instinct the curious
duality of his character. The grave, powerful, dominating man attracted
her very forcibly; the cold, impenetrable, apparently heartless soul, on
the other hand, repelled her, and almost inspired her with horror when
it showed itself.

One afternoon in the end of January, Paul and Hermione were walking in
the park. The weather was raw and gusty, and the ground hard frozen.
They had been merely strolling up and down before the house, as they
often did, but, being in earnest conversation, had forgotten at last to
turn back, and had gone on along the avenue, till they were far from the
old mansion and quite out of sight. They had been talking of Paul's
approaching departure, and they were both in low spirits at the
prospect.

"I am like those patches of snow," said Paul. "The clouds drop me in a
beautiful place, and I feel very comfortable; and then I have to melt
away again, and the clouds pick me up and carry me a thousand miles off,
and drop me somewhere else. I wish they would leave me alone for a
while."

"Yes," said Hermione. "I wish you could stay with us longer."

"It is of no use to wish," answered Paul bitterly. "I am always wishing
for things I cannot possibly have. I would give anything to stay here. I
have grown so fond of you all, and you have all been so kind to me--it
is very hard to go, Hermione!"

He looked almost tenderly at the beautiful girl beside him, as he spoke.
But she looked down, so that he could hardly see her face at all.

"I have never before felt as though I were at home," he continued. "I
never had much of a home, at the best. Latterly I have had none at all.
I had almost forgotten the idea when I came to England. It is hard to
think how soon I must forget it again, and all the dear people I have
known here."

"You must not quite forget us," said Hermione. Her voice trembled a
little.

"I will never forget you--Hermione--for I love you with all my heart."

He took her little gloved hand in his, and held it tightly. They stood
still in the midst of the lonely park. Hermione blushed like an Alp-rose
in the snow, and turned her head away from him. But her lip quivered
slightly, and she left her hand in his.

"I love you, my darling," he repeated, drawing her to him, till her head
rested for a moment on his shoulder. "I cannot live without you,--I
cannot leave you."

What could she do? When he spoke in that tone his voice was so very
gentle; she loved him, and she was under the fascination of his love.
She said nothing, but she looked up into his face, and her blue eyes saw
themselves in his. Then she bent her head and hid her face against his
coat, and her small hand tightened convulsively upon his fingers.

"Do you really love me?" he asked as he bent down and kissed her white
forehead.

"You know I do," she answered in a low voice.

That was all they said, I suppose. But it was quite enough. When a man
and a woman have told each other their love, there is little more to
say. They probably say it again, and repeat it in different keys and
with different modulations. I can imagine that a man in love might find
many pretty expressions, but the gist of the thing is the same. Model
conversation as follows, in fugue form, for two voices:--

_He._ I love you. Do you love me? (Theme.)

_She._ Very much. I love you more than you love me. (Answer.)

_He._ No. I love you most. (Sub-theme.)

_She._ Not more. That is impossible. (Sub-answer.)

_He and She._ Then we love each other very much. (_A due voci._)

_She._ Yes. But I am not sure that you _can_ love me as much as I do
you. (_Stretto._) Etc., etc., etc.

By using these simple themes you may easily write a series of
conversations in at least twenty-four keys, on the principle of Bach's
Wohltemperirtes Klavier, but your fugues must be composed for two
voices only, unless you are very clever. A third voice increases the
difficulty, a fourth causes a high degree of complication, five voices
are distracting, and six impossible.

It is certain that when Paul and Hermione returned from their walk they
had arranged matters to their own satisfaction, or had at least settled
the preliminaries. I think every one noticed the change in their manner.
Hermione was radiant, and talked better than I had ever heard her talk
before. Paul was quiet, even taciturn, but his silence was evidently not
due to bad temper. His expression was serene and happy, and the cold
look seemed to have left his face forever. His peace of mind, however,
was destined to be short-lived.

Chrysophrasia and Professor Cutter watched the couple with extreme
interest when they appeared at tea, and each arrived at the same
conclusion. They had probably expected for a long time what had now
occurred, and, as they were eagerly looking for some evidence that their
convictions were well founded, they did not overlook the sudden change
of manner which succeeded the walk in the park. They did not communicate
their suspicions to each other, however. Chrysophrasia had protested
again and again to Mary Carvel and to John that things were going too
far. But Paul was a favorite with the Carvels, and they refused to see
anything in his conduct which could be interpreted to mean love for
Hermione. Chrysophrasia resolved at once to throw a bomb into the camp,
and to enjoy the effect of the explosion.

Cutter's position was more delicate. He was very fond of John, and was,
moreover, his guest. It was not his business to criticise what occurred
in the house. He was profoundly interested in Madame Patoff, but he did
not like Paul. Indeed, in his inmost heart he had never settled the
question of Alexander's disappearance from the world, and in his opinion
Paul Patoff was a man accused of murder, who had not sufficiently
established his innocence. In his desire to be wholly unprejudiced in
judging mankind and their mental aberrations, he did not allow that the
social position of the individual was in itself a guaranty against
committing any crime whatever. On the contrary, he had found reason to
believe, from his own experience, that people belonging to the higher
classes have generally a much keener appreciation of the construction
which will be put upon their smallest actions, and are therefore far
more ingenious in concealing their evil deeds than the common ruffian
could possibly be. John Carvel would have said that it was impossible
that a gentleman should murder his brother. Professor Cutter said it was
not only possible, but, under certain circumstances, very probable. It
must also be remembered that he had got most of his information
concerning Paul from Madame Patoff and from Alexander, who both detested
him, in the two summers when he had met the mother and son at Wiesbaden.
His idea of Paul's character had therefore received a bias from the
first, and was to a great extent unjust. Conceiving it possible that
Patoff might be responsible for his brother's death, he therefore
regarded the prospect of Paul's marriage with Hermione with the
strongest aversion, though he could not make up his mind to speak to
John Carvel on the subject. He had told the whole story to him eighteen
months earlier, when he had brought home Madame Patoff; and he had told
it without ornament, leaving John to judge for himself. But at that time
there had been no prospect whatever of Paul's coming to Carvel Place.
Cutter might easily have turned his story in such a way as to make Paul
look guilty, or at least so as to cast a slight upon his character. But
he had given the plain facts as they occurred. John had said the thing
was absurd, and a great injustice to the young man; and he had,
moreover, told his wife and sister, as well as Cutter, that Hermione was
never to know anything of the story. It was not right, he said, that the
young girl should ever know that any member of the family had even been
suspected of such a crime. She should grow up in ignorance of it, and it
was not untruthful to say that Madame Patoff's insanity had been caused
by Alexander's death.

But now Cutter regretted that he had not put the matter in a stronger
light from the first, giving John to understand that Paul had never
really cleared himself of the imputation. The professor did not know
what to do, and would very likely have done nothing at all, had Miss
Dabstreak not fired the mine. He had, indeed, endeavored to stop the
progress of the attachment, but, in attempting always to intervene as a
third person in their conversations, he had roused Paul's obstinacy
instead of interrupting his love-making. And Paul was a very obstinate
man.

As we sat at dinner that evening, the conversation turned upon general
topics. Chrysophrasia sat opposite to Paul, as usual, and her green eyes
watched him with interest for some time. As luck would have it, our talk
approached the subject of crime in general, and John Carvel asked me
some question about the average number of murders in India, taking ten
years together, as compared with the number committed in Europe. While I
was hesitating and trying to recollect some figures I had once known,
Chrysophrasia rushed into the conversation in her usual wild way.

"I think murders are so extremely interesting," said she to Patoff. "I
always wonder what it must be like to commit one, don't you?"

"No," said Paul, quietly. "I confess that I do not generally devote much
thought to the matter. Murder is not a particularly pleasant subject for
contemplation."

"Oh, do you think so?" answered Chrysophrasia. "Of course not pleasant,
no, but so very interesting. I read such a delightfully thrilling
account this morning of a man who killed his own brother,--quite like
Cain."

Paul made no answer, and continued to eat his dinner in silence. Though
at that time I knew nothing of his story, I remember noticing how
Professor Cutter slowly turned his face towards Patoff, and the peculiar
expression of his gray eyes as I saw them through the gold-rimmed
spectacles. Then he looked at John Carvel, who grew very red in the
pause which followed. Mrs. Carvel looked down at her plate, and her
features showed that her sister's remark had given her some pain; for
she was quite incapable of concealing her slightest emotions, like many
extremely truthful and sensitive people. But Chrysophrasia had launched
herself, and was not to be silenced by an awkward pause. Not
understanding the situation in the least, I nevertheless tried to
relieve the unpleasantness by answering her.

"I think it is a great mistake that the newspapers should publish the
horrible details of every crime committed," I said. "It is bad for the
public morals, and worse for the public taste."

"Really, we must be allowed some emotion," answered Chrysophrasia. "It
is so very thrilling to read about such cases. Now I can quite well
imagine what it must be like to kill somebody, and then to hear every
one saying to me, 'Where is thy brother?' Poor Cain! He must have had
the most deliciously complicated feelings!"

She fixed her green eyes on Paul so intently as she spoke that I looked
at him, too, and was surprised to see that he was very pale. He said
nothing, however, but he looked up and returned her gaze. His cold blue
eyes glittered disagreeably. At that moment, John Carvel, who was redder
than ever, addressed me in loud tones. I thought his voice had an
artificial ring in it as he spoke.

"Well, Griggs," he cried, "without going into the question of Cain and
Abel, can you tell me anything about the figures?"

I said something. I gave some approximate account, and, speaking loudly,
I ran on readily with a long string of statistics, most of them, I
grieve to say, manufactured on the spur of the moment. But I knew that
Carvel was not listening, and did not care what I said. Hermione was
watching Paul with evident concern; Mrs. Carvel and Macaulay at once
affected the greatest interest in what I was saying, while Professor
Cutter looked at Chrysophrasia, as though trying to attract her
attention.

"What a wonderful memory you have, Mr. Griggs!" said Macaulay Carvel, in
sincere admiration.

"Oh, not at all," I answered, with perfect truth. "Statistics of that
kind are very easily got."

By this time the awkwardness had disappeared, and by dint of talking
very loud and saying a great many things which meant very little, John
and I succeeded in making the remainder of the dinner pass off very
well. But every one seemed to be afraid of Chrysophrasia, and when, once
or twice, she was on the point of making a remark, there was a general
attempt made to prevent her from leading the conversation. As soon as
dinner was over we scattered in all directions, like a flock of sheep.
Chrysophrasia retired to her room. John Carvel went to the library,
whither his wife followed him in a few minutes. Macaulay, Patoff, and I
went to the smoking-room, contrary to all precedent; but as Macaulay led
the way, we followed with delight. The result of this general separation
was that Hermione and Professor Cutter were left alone in the
drawing-room.

"I want to ask you a question," said the young girl, as they stood
before the great fireplace.

"Yes," answered the scientist, anticipating trouble. "I am at your
service."

"Why did Paul turn so pale when aunt Chrysophrasia talked about Cain at
dinner, and why did everybody feel so uncomfortable?"

"It is not surprising. But I cannot tell you the story."

"You must," said Hermione, growing pale, and laying her hand upon his
arm. "I must know. I insist that you shall tell me."

"If I tell you, will you promise not to blame me here-after?" asked
Cutter.

"Certainly,--of course. Please go on."

"Do not be shocked. There is no truth in the story, I fancy. When
Alexander Patoff was lost on a dark night in Constantinople, the world
said that Paul had made away with him. That is all."

Hermione did not scream nor faint, as Cutter had expected. The blood
rushed to her face, and then sank again as suddenly. She steadied
herself with one hand on the chimney-piece before she answered.

"What a horrible, infamous lie!" she exclaimed in low tones.

"You insisted upon knowing it, Miss Carvel," said the professor quietly.
"You must not blame me for telling you. After all, it was as well that
you should know it."

"Yes--it was as well." She turned away, and with bent head left the
room. So it came about that both Chrysophrasia and Cutter on the same
evening struck a blow at the new-found happiness of the cousins, raising
between them, as it were, the spectre of the lost man.

After what had occurred in the afternoon, Paul had intended to seek a
formal interview with John Carvel. He had no intention of keeping his
engagement a secret, and indeed he already felt that, according to his
European notions, he had done wrong in declaring his love to Hermione
before asking her father's consent. It had been an accident, and he
regretted it. But after the scene at the dinner-table, he felt that he
must see Hermione again before going to her father. Chrysophrasia's
remarks had been so evidently directed against him that he had betrayed
himself, and he knew that Hermione had noticed his expression, as well
as the momentary stupefaction which had chilled the whole party. He had
no idea whether Hermione had ever heard his story or not. She had of
course never referred to it, and he thought it was now his duty to speak
to her, to ascertain the extent of her information, and, if necessary,
to tell her all the circumstances; honestly avowing that, although he
had never been accused openly of his brother's death except by his
mother, he knew that many persons had suspected him of having been
voluntarily concerned in it. He would state the case plainly, and she
might then decide upon her own course. But the question, "Where is your
brother?" had been asked again, and he was deeply wounded,--far more
deeply than he would acknowledge to himself. As we three sat together in
the smoking-room, keeping up a dry, strained conversation, the old
expression returned to his face, and I watched him with a kind of regret
as I saw the cold, defiant look harden again, where lately there had
been nothing but gentleness.

Hermione left the drawing-room, and glided through the hall towards the
passage which led to Madame Patoff's rooms. She had formed a desperate
resolution,--one of those which must be carried out quickly, or not at
all. Mrs. North, the nurse, opened the door at the end of the corridor,
and admitted the young girl.

"Can I see my aunt?" asked Hermione, trying to control her voice.

"Has anything happened, Miss Carvel?" inquired Mrs. North, scrutinizing
her features and noticing her paleness.

"No--yes, dear Mrs. North, something has happened. I want to see aunt
Annie," answered Hermione. "Do let me go in!"

The nurse did not suppose that anything Hermione could say would rouse
Madame Patoff from her habitual apathy. After a moment's hesitation, she
nodded, and opened the door into the sitting-room. Hermione passed her
in silence, and entered, closing the door behind her. Her aunt sat as
usual in a deep chair near the fire, beneath the brilliant light, the
rich folds of her sweeping gown gathered around her, her face pale and
calm, holding a book upon her knee. She did not look up as the young
girl came in, but an uneasy expression passed over her features.
Hermione had never believed that Madame Patoff was mad, in spite of
Professor Cutter's assurances to the contrary. On this occasion she
resolved to speak as though her aunt were perfectly sane.

"Dear aunt Annie," she began, sitting down beside the deep chair, and
laying her hand on Madame Patoff's apathetic fingers,--"dear aunt Annie,
I have something to tell you, and I am sure you will listen to me."

"Yes," answered the lady, in her mechanical voice.

"Aunt Annie, Paul is still here. I love him, and we are going to be
married."

"No," said Madame Patoff, in the same tone as before. Hermione's heart
sank, for her aunt did not seem to understand in the least. But before
she could speak again, a curious change seemed to come over the
invalid's face. The features were drawn into an expression of pain, such
as Hermione had never seen there before, the lip trembled hysterically,
the blood rushed to her face, and Madame Patoff suddenly broke into a
fit of violent weeping. The tears streamed down her cheeks, bursting
between her fingers as she covered her eyes. She sobbed as though her
heart would break, rocking herself backwards and forwards in her chair.
Hermione was frightened, and rose to call Mrs. North; but to her extreme
surprise her aunt put out her hand, all wet with tears, and held her
back.

"No, no," she moaned; "let me cry."

For several minutes nothing was heard in the room but her passionate
sobs. It seemed as though they would never stop, and again Hermione
would have called the nurse, but again Madame Patoff prevented her.

"Aunt Annie,--dear aunt Annie!" said the young girl, trying to soothe
her, and laying her hand upon the thick gray hair. "What is the matter?
Can I do nothing? I cannot bear to see you cry like this!"

Gradually the hysteric emotion spent itself, and Madame Patoff grew more
calm. Then she spoke, and, to Hermione's amazement, she spoke
connectedly.

"Hermione, you must not betray my secret,--you will not betray me? Swear
that you will not, my child!" She was evidently suffering some great
emotion.

"Aunt Annie," said Hermione in the greatest excitement, "you are not
mad! I always said you were not!"

Madame Patoff shook her head sorrowfully.

"No, child, I am not mad,--I never was. I am only unhappy. I let them
think so, because I am so miserable, and I can live alone, and perhaps
die very soon. But you have found me out."

Again it seemed as though she would burst into tears. Hermione hastened
to reassure her, not knowing what she said, in the anxiety of the
moment.

"You are safe with me, aunt Annie. I will not tell. But why, why have
you deceived them all so long, a year and a half,--why?"

"I am the most wretched woman alive," moaned Madame Patoff. Then,
looking suddenly into Hermione's eyes, she spoke in low, distinct tones.
"You cannot marry Paul, Hermione. You must never think of it again. You
must promise me never to think of it."

"I will not promise that," answered the young girl, summoning all her
courage. "It is not true that he killed his brother. You never believed
it,--nobody ever believed it!"

"It is true--true--truer than anything else can be!" exclaimed Madame
Patoff, lowering her voice to a strong, clear whisper.

"No," said Hermione. "You are wrong, aunt Annie; it is an abominable
lie."

"I tell you I know it is true," retorted her aunt, still whispering, but
emphasizing every word with the greatest decision. "If you do not
believe it, go to him and say, 'Paul, where is your brother?' and you
will see how he will look."

"I will. I will ask him, and I will tell you what he says."

"He murdered him, Hermione," continued Madame Patoff, not heeding the
interruption. "He murdered him in Constantinople,--he and a Turkish
soldier whom he hired. And now he has come here to marry you. He thinks
I am mad--he is the worst man that ever lived. You must never see him
again. There is blood on his hands--blood, do you hear? Rather than that
you should love him, I will tell them all that I am a sane woman. I will
confess that I have imposed upon them in order to be alone, to die in
peace, or, while I live to mourn for my poor murdered boy,--the boy I
loved. Oh how I loved him!"

This time her tears could not be controlled, and at the thought of
Alexander she sobbed again, as she had sobbed before. Hermione was too
much astonished and altogether thrown off her mental balance to know
what to do. Her amazement at discovering that her aunt had for more than
a year imposed upon Professor Cutter and upon the whole household was
almost obliterated in the horror inspired by Madame Patoff's words.
There was a conviction in her way of speaking which terrified Hermione,
and for a moment she was completely unnerved.

Meanwhile, Madame Patoff's tears ceased again. In the strange deception
she had practiced upon all around her for so long, she had acquired an
extraordinary command of her features and voice. It was only Hermione's
discovery which had thrown her off her guard, and once feeling that the
girl knew her secret, she had perhaps enjoyed the luxury of tears and of
expressed emotion. But this stage being past, she regained her
self-control. She had meditated so long on the death of her eldest son
that the mention of his name had ceased to affect her, and though she
had been betrayed into recognizing Paul, she had cleverly resumed her
play of apathetic indifference so soon as he had left her. Had Hermione
known of the early stages which had led to her present state, she would
have asked herself how Madame Patoff could have suddenly begun to act
her part so well as to deceive even Professor Cutter from the first.
But Hermione knew nothing of all those details. She only realized that
her aunt was a perfectly sane woman, and that she had fully confirmed
the fearful accusation against Paul.

"Go now, my child," said Madame Patoff. "Remember your promise. Remember
that I am a wretched old woman, come here to be left alone, to die.
Remember what I have told you, and beware of being deceived. You love a
murderer--a murderer--remember that."

Hermione stood a moment and gazed at her aunt's face, grown calm and
almost beautiful again. Her tears had left no trace, her thick gray hair
was as smooth as ever, her great dark eyes were deep and full of light.
Then, without another word, the young girl turned away and left the
room, closing the door behind her, and nodding a good-night to Mrs.
North, who sat by her lamp in the outer room, gray and watchful as ever.

If her aunt was sane, was she human? The question suggested itself to
Hermione's brain as she walked along the passage; but she had not time
to frame an answer. As she went out into the hall she saw Paul standing
by the huge carved, fireplace, his back turned towards her, his tall
figure thrown into high relief by the leaping flames. She went up to
him, and as he heard her step he started and faced her. He had finished
his cigar with us, and was about to go quietly to his room in search of
solitude, when he had paused by the hall fire. His face was very sad as
he looked up.

"Paul," said the young girl, taking both his hands and looking into his
eyes, "I believe in you,--you could not do anything wrong. People would
never suspect you if you answered them, if you would only take the
trouble to defend yourself."

"Defend myself?" repeated Paul. "Against what, Hermione?"

"When people say, 'Where is your brother?'--or mean to say it, as aunt
Chrysophrasia did this evening,--you ought to answer; you ought not to
turn pale and be silent."

"You too!" groaned the unhappy man, looking into her eyes. "You too, my
darling! Ah, no! It is too much." He dropped her hands, and turned
again, leaning on the chimney-piece.

"How can you think I believe it? Oh, Paul! how unkind!" exclaimed
Hermione, clasping her hands upon his shoulder, and trying to look at
his averted face. "I never, never believed it, dear. But no one else
must believe it either; you must make them not believe it."

"My dearest," said Paul, almost sternly, but not unkindly, "this thing
has pursued me for a long time. I thought it was dead. It has come
between you and me on the very day of our happiness. You say you believe
in me. I say you shall not believe in me without proof. Good-by,
love,--good-by!"

He drew her to him and kissed her once; then he tried to go.

"Paul," she cried, holding him, "where are you going?" She was terrified
by his manner.

"I am going away," he said slowly. "I will find my brother, or his body,
and I will not come back until then."

"But you must not go! I cannot bear to let you go!" she cried, in
agonized tones.

"You must," he answered, and the color left his cheeks. "You cannot
marry a man who is suspected. Good-by, my beloved!"

Once more he kissed her, and then he turned quickly away and left the
hall. Hermione stood still one moment, staring at his retreating figure.
Then she sank into the deep chair by the side of the great fire and
burst into tears. She had good cause for sorrow, for she had sent Paul
Patoff away, she knew not whither. She had not even the satisfaction of
feeling that she had been quite right in speaking to him as she had
spoken, and above all she feared lest he should believe, in spite of her
words, that in her own mind there was some shadow of suspicion left. But
he was gone. He would probably leave the house early in the morning, and
she might never see him again. What could she do but let her tears flow
down as freely as they could?

Late at night I sat in my room, reading by the light of the candles, and
watching the fire as it gradually died away in the grate. It was very
late, and I was beginning to think of going to bed, when some one
knocked at the door. It was Paul Patoff. I was very much surprised to
see him, and I suppose my face showed it, for he apologized for the
intrusion.

"Excuse me," he said. "It is very late, but could you spare me half an
hour before going to bed?"

"Certainly," I answered, noticing his pallor, and fancying that
something had happened.

"Thank you," said he. "I believe I have heard you say that you know
Constantinople very well?"

"Tolerably well--yes. I know many of the natives. I have been there very
often."

"I am going back there," said Patoff. "They sent me to Persia for a year
and more, and now I am to return to my old post. I want to ask your
advice about a very delicate matter. You know--or perhaps you do not
know--that my brother disappeared in Stamboul, a year ago last summer,
under very strange circumstances. I did all I could to find him, and the
ambassador did more. But we never discovered any trace of him. I have
made up my mind that I will not be disappointed this time."

"Could you tell me any of the details?" I asked.

Paul looked at me once, and hesitated. Then he settled himself in his
chair, and told me his story very much as I have told it, from the
afternoon of the day on which Alexander disappeared to the moment when
Paul left his mother at Teinach in the Black Forest. He told me also how
Professor Cutter had written to him his account of the accident at
Weissenstein, when Madame Patoff, as he said, had attempted to commit
suicide.

"Pardon me," I said, when he had reached this stage. "I do not believe
she tried to kill herself."

"Why not?" asked Patoff, in some surprise.

"I was the man with the rope. Cutter has never realized that you did not
know it."

Paul was very much astonished at the news, and looked at me as though
hardly believing his senses.

"Yes," I continued. "I happened to be leaning out of the window
immediately over the balcony, and I saw your mother fall. I do not
believe she threw herself over; if she had done that, she would probably
not have been caught on the tree. The parapet was very low, and she is
very tall. I heard her say to Professor Cutter, 'I am coming;' then she
stood up. Suddenly she grew red in the face, tottered, tried to save
herself, but missed the parapet, and fell over with a loud scream of
terror."

"I am very much surprised," said Paul, "very grateful to you, of course,
for saving her life. I do not know how to thank you; but how strange
that Cutter should never have told me!"

"He saw that we knew each other," I remarked. "He supposed that I had
told you."

"So it was not an attempt at suicide, after all. It is amazing to think
how one may be deceived in this world."

For some minutes he sat silent in his chair, evidently in deep thought.
I did not disturb him, though I watched the melancholy expression of his
face, thinking of the great misfortunes which had overtaken him, and
pitying him, perhaps, more than he would have liked.

"Griggs," he said at last, "do you know of any one in Constantinople who
would help me,--who could help me if he would?"

"To find your brother? It is a serious affair. Yes, I do know of one
man; if he could be induced to take an interest in the matter, he might
do a great deal."

"What is his name?"

"Balsamides Bey," I answered.

"I have seen him, but I do not know him," said Paul. "Could you give me
a letter?"

"It would not be of the slightest use. You can easily make his
acquaintance, but it will be a very different matter to get him to help
you. He is one of the strangest men in the world. If he takes a fancy to
you, he will do anything imaginable to oblige you."

"And if not?"

"If not, he will laugh at you. He is a queer fellow."

"Eccentric, I should think. I am not prepared to be laughed at, but I
will risk it, if there is any chance."

"Look here, Patoff," I said. "I have nothing to do this spring, and the
devil of unrest is on me again. I will go to Constantinople with you,
and we will see what can be done. You are a Russian, and those people
will not trust you; your nationality will be against you at every turn.
Balsamides himself hates Russians, having fought against them ten years
ago, in the last war."

Paul started up in his chair, and stretched out his hand. "Will you
really go with me?" he cried in great excitement. "That would be too
good of you. Shall we start to-morrow?"

"Let me see,--we must have an excuse. Could you not telegraph to your
chief to recall you at once? You must have something to show to Carvel.
He will be startled at our leaving so suddenly."

"Will he?" said Paul, absently. "I suppose so. Perhaps I can manage it."

It was very late when he left my room. I went to bed, but slept little,
thinking over all he had told me, but knowing that he had not told me
all. I guessed then what I knew later,--that he had asked Hermione to
marry him, and that, in consequence of Chrysophrasia's remark at
dinner, she had asked him about his brother. It was easy to understand
that the question, coming from her, would produce a revival of his
former energy in the search for Alexander. But it was long before I knew
all the details of Hermione's visit to Madame Patoff.

The matter was arranged without much difficulty. Paul received a
despatch the next day from Count Ananoff, requesting him to return as
soon as possible, and I announced my determination to accompany him. The
news was received by the different members of the household in different
ways, according to the views of each. Poor Hermione was pale and silent.
Chrysophrasia's disagreeable eyes wore a greenish air of cat-like
satisfaction. Mrs. Carvel herself was sincerely distressed, and John
opened his eyes in astonishment. Professor Cutter looked about with an
inquiring air, and Macaulay expressed a hope that he might be appointed
to Constantinople very soon, adding that he should take pains to learn
Turkish as quickly as possible. That fellow regards everything in life
as a sort of lesson, and takes part in events as a highly moral and
studious undergraduate would attend a course of lectures.

I think Paul and I both breathed more freely when we had announced our
departure. He looked ill, and it was evident that he was sorry to go,
but it was also quite clear that nothing could move him from his
determination. Even at the last minute he kept himself calm, and though
he was obliged to part from Hermione in the presence of all the rest, he
did not wince. Every one joined in saying that they hoped he would pay
them another visit, and even Chrysophrasia drawled out something to that
effect, though I have no doubt she was inwardly rejoicing at his going
away; and just as we were starting she ostentatiously kissed poor
Hermione, as though to reassert her protectorate, and to show that
Hermione's safety was due entirely to her aunt Chrysophrasia's exertions
on her behalf.

Paul would have been willing to go to his mother once again before
parting, but Cutter thought it better not to let him do so, as his
presence irritated her beyond measure. Hermione looked as though she
would have said something, but seemed to think better of it. At last we
drove away from the old place in the chilly February afternoon, and I
confess that for a moment I half repented of my sudden resolution to go
to the East. But in a few minutes the old longing for some active
occupation came back, and though I thought gratefully of John Carvel's
friendly ways and pleasant conversation, I found myself looking forward
to the sight of the crowded bazaars and the solemn Turks, smelling
already the indescribable atmosphere of the Levant, and enjoying the
prospect almost as keenly as when I first set my face eastwards, many
years ago.

These were the circumstances which brought me back to Constantinople
last year. If, in telling my story, I have dwelt long upon what happened
in England, I must beg you to remember that it is one thing to construct
a drama with all possible regard for the unities and no regard whatever
for probability, whereas it is quite another to tell the story of a
man's life, or even of those years which have been to him the most
important part of it.



XII.


It was not an easy matter to make Balsamides Bey take a fancy to Paul,
for he was, and still is, a man full of prejudice, if also full of wit.
In his well-shaped head resides an intelligence of no mean order, and
the lines graven in his pale face express thought and study, while
suggesting also an extreme love of sarcasm and a caustic, incredulous
humor. His large and deep-set blue eyes seem to look at things only to
criticise them, never to enjoy them, and his arched eyebrows bristle
like defenses set up between the world with its interests on the one
side and the inner man Balsamides on the other. Though he wears a heavy
brown mustache, it is easy to see that underneath it his thin lips curl
scornfully, and are drawn down at the extremities of his mouth. He is
very scrupulous in his appearance, whether he wears the uniform of a
Sultan's adjutant, or the morning dress of an ordinary man of the world,
or the official evening coat of the Turks, made like that of an English
clergyman, but ornamented by a string of tiny decorations attached to
the buttonhole on the left side. Gregorios Balsamides is of middle
height, slender and well built, a matchless horseman, and long inured to
every kind of hardship, though his pallor and his delicate white hands
suggest a constitution anything but hardy.

He is the natural outcome of the present state of civilization in
Turkey; and as it is not easy for the ordinary mind to understand the
state of the Ottoman Empire without long study, so it is not by any
means a simple matter to comprehend the characters produced by the
modern condition of things in the East. Balsamides Bey is a man who
seems to unite in himself as many contradictory qualities and
characteristics as are to be found in any one living man. He is a
thorough Turk in principle, but also a thorough Western Frank in
education. He has read immensely in many languages, and speaks French
and English with remarkable fluency. He has made an especial study of
modern history, and can give an important date, a short account of a
great battle, or a brief notice of a living celebrity, with an ease and
accuracy that many a student might envy. He reads French and English
novels, and probably possesses a contraband copy of Byron, whose works
are proscribed in Turkey and confiscated by the custom-house. He goes
into European society as well as among Turks, Greeks, and Armenians.
Although a Greek by descent, he loves the Turks and is profoundly
attached to the reigning dynasty, under whom his father and grandfather
lived and prospered. A Christian by birth and education, he has a
profound respect for the Mussulman faith, as being the religion of the
government he serves, and a profound hatred of the Armenian, whom he
regards as the evil genius of the Osmanli. He is a man whom many trust,
but whose chief desire seems to be to avoid all show of power. He is
often consulted on important matters, but his discretion is proof
against all attacks, and there is not a journalist nor correspondent in
Pera who can boast of ever having extracted the smallest item of
information from Balsamides Bey.

These are his good qualities, and they are solid ones, for he is a
thoroughly well-informed man, exceedingly clever, and absolutely
trustworthy. On the other hand, he is cold, sarcastic, and possibly
cruel, and occasionally he is frank almost to brutality.

On the very evening of our arrival in Pera I went to see him, for he is
an old friend of mine. I found him alone in his small lodgings in the
Grande Rue, reading a yellow-covered French novel by the light of a
German student-lamp. The room was simply furnished with a table, a
divan, three or four stiff, straight-backed chairs, and a bookcase. But
on the matted floor and divan there were two or three fine Siné carpets;
a couple of trophies of splendidly ornamented weapons adorned the wall;
by his side, upon a small eight-sided table inlaid with tortoise-shell
and mother-of-pearl, stood a silver salver with an empty coffee-cup of
beautiful workmanship,--the stand of beaten gold, and the delicate shell
of the most exquisite transparent china. He had evidently been on duty
at the palace, for he was in uniform, and had removed only his long
riding-boots, throwing himself down in his chair to read the book in
which he was interested.

On seeing me, he rose suddenly and put out his hand.

"Is it you? Where have you come from?" he cried.

"From England, to see you," I answered.

"You must stay with me," he said at once. "The spare room is ready," he
added, leading me to the door. Then he clapped his hands to call the
servant, before I could prevent him.

"But I have already been to the hotel," I protested.

"Go to Missiri's with a hamál, and bring the Effendi's luggage," he said
to the servant, who instantly disappeared.

"Caught," he exclaimed, laughing, as he opened the door and showed me my
little room. I had slept there many a night in former times, and I loved
his simple hospitality.

"You are the same as ever," I said. "A man cannot put his nose inside
your door without being caught, as you call it."

"Many a man may," he answered. "But not you, my dear fellow. Now--you
will have coffee and a cigarette. We will dine at home. There is pilaff
and kebabi and a bottle of champagne. How are you? I forgot to ask."

"Very well, thanks," said I, as we came back to the sitting-room. "I am
always well, you know. You look pale, but that is nothing new. You have
been on duty at the palace?"

"Friday," he answered laconically, which meant that he had been at the
Selamlek, attending the Sultan to the weekly service at the mosque.

"You used to get back early in the day. Have the hours changed?"

"Man of Belial," he replied, "with us nothing changes. I was detained at
the palace. So you have come all the way from England to see me?"

"Yes,--and to ask you a question and a favor."

"You shall have the answer and my services."

"Do not promise before you have heard. 'Two acrobats cannot always dance
on the same rope,' as your proverb says."

"And 'Every sheep hangs by its own heels,'" said he. "I will take my
chance with you. First, the question, please."

"Did you ever hear of Alexander Patoff?"

Balsamides looked at me a moment, with the air of a man who is asked an
exceedingly foolish question.

"Hear of him? I have heard of nothing else for the last eighteen months.
I have an indigestion brought on by too much Alexander Patoff. Is that
your errand, Griggs? How in the world did you come to take up that
question?"

"You have been asked about him before?" I inquired.

"I tell you there is not a dog in Constantinople that has not been
kicked for not knowing where that fellow is. I am sick of him, alive or
dead. What do I care about your Patoffs? The fool could not take care of
himself when he was alive, and now the universe is turned upside down to
find his silly body. Where is he? At the bottom of the Bosphorus. How
did he get there? By the kind exertions of his brother, who then played
the comedy of tearing his hair so cleverly that his ambassador believed
him. Very simple: if you want to find his body, I can tell you how to do
it."

"How?" I asked eagerly.

"Drain the Bosphorus," he answered, with a sneer. "You will find plenty
of skulls at the bottom of it. The smallest will be his, to a dead
certainty."

"My dear fellow," I protested, "his brother did not kill him. The proof
is that Paul Patoff has come hack swearing that he will find some trace
of Alexander. He came with me, and I believe his story."

"He is only renewing the comedy,--tearing his hair on the anniversary of
the death, like a well-paid mourner. Of course, somebody has accused him
again of the murder. He will have to tear his hair every time he is
accused, in order to keep up appearances. He knows, and he alone knows,
where the dead man is."

"But if he killed him the kaváss must have known it--must have helped
him. You remember the story?"

"I should think so. What does the kaváss prove? Nothing. He was probably
told to go off for a moment, and now will not confess it. Money will do
anything."

"There remains the driver of the carriage," I objected. "He saw
Alexander go into Agia Sophia, but he never saw him come out."

"And is anything easier than that? A man might learn those few words in
three minutes. That proves nothing."

"There is the probability," I argued. "Many persons have disappeared in
Stamboul before now."

"Nonsense, Griggs," he answered. "You know that when anything of the
kind has occurred it has generally turned out that the missing man was
bankrupt. He disappeared to reappear somewhere else under another name.
I do not believe a word of all those romances. To you Franks we are a
nation of robbers, murderers, and thieves; we are the Turkey of Byron,
always thirsting for blood, spilling it senselessly, and crying out for
more. If that idiot allowed his brother to kill him without attracting a
crowd,--in Stamboul, in the last week of Ramazán, when everybody is out
of doors,--he deserved his fate, that is all."

"I do not believe he is dead," I said, "and I have come here to ask you
to make the acquaintance of Paul Patoff. If you still believe him to be
a murderer when you have heard him tell his story, I shall be very much
surprised."

"I should tear him to pieces if I met him," said Balsamides, with a
laugh. "The mere sight of anybody called Patoff would bring on an attack
of the nerves."

"Be serious," said I. "Do you think I would be so foolish as to interest
myself in this business unless I believed that it could be cleared of
all mystery and explained?"

"You have been in England," retorted Gregorios. "That will explain any
kind of insanity. Do you want me to pester every office in the
government with new inquiries? It will do no good. Everything has been
tried. The man is gone without leaving a trace. No amount of money will
produce information. Can I say more? Where money fails, a man need not
be so foolish as to hope anything from his intelligence."

"I am foolish enough to hope something," I replied. "If you will not
help me, I must go elsewhere. I will not give up the thing at the
start."

"Well, if I say I will help you, what do you expect me to do? Can I do
anything which has not been done already? If so, I will do it. But I
will not harness myself to a rotten cart, as the proverb says. It is
quite useless to expect anything more from the police."

"I expect nothing from them. I believe that Alexander is alive, and has
been hidden by somebody rich enough and strong enough to baffle
pursuit."

"What put that into your head?" asked my companion, looking at me with
sudden curiosity.

"Nothing but the reduction of the thing to the last analysis. Either he
is dead, or he is alive. As you say, he could hardly have been killed on
such a night without attracting attention. Besides, the motives for
Paul's killing him were wholly inadequate. No, let me go on. Therefore
I say that he was taken alive."

"Where?"

"In Santa Sophia."

"But then," argued Balsamides, "the driver would have seen him carried
out."

"Yes," I admitted. "That is the difficulty. But he might perhaps have
been taken through the porch; at all events, he must have gone down the
stairs alone, taking the lantern."

"They found the lantern," said Gregorios. "You did not know that? A long
time afterwards the man who opens the towers confessed that when he had
gone up with the brothers and the kaváss he had found that his taper was
burnt out. He picked up the kaváss's lantern and carried it down,
meaning to return with the next party of foreigners. No other foreigners
came, and when he went up to find the Patoffs they were gone and the
carriage was gone. He kept the lantern, until the offers of reward
induced him to give it up and tell his story."

"That proves nothing, except that Alexander went down-stairs in the
dark."

"I have an idea, Griggs!" cried Balsamides, suddenly changing his tone.
"It proves this,--that Alexander did not necessarily go down the steps
at all."

"I do not understand."

"There is another way out of that gallery. Did you know that? At the
other end, in exactly the same position, hidden in the deep arch, there
is a second door. There is also a winding staircase, which leads to the
street on the opposite side of the mosque. Foreigners are never admitted
by that side, but it is barely possible that the door may have been
open. Alexander Patoff may have gone down that way, thinking it was the
staircase by which he had come up."

"You see," I said, delighted at this information, "everything is not
exhausted yet."

"No, I begin to think we are nearer to an explanation. If that door was
open,--which, however, is very improbable,--he could have gone down and
have got into the street without passing the carriage, which stood on
the other side of the mosque. But, after all, we are no nearer to
knowing what ultimately became of him."

"Would it be possible to find out whether the door was really open, and,
if so, who passed that way?" I inquired.

"We shall see," said Gregorios. "I will change my mind. I will make the
acquaintance of your Russian friend. I know him by sight, though I never
spoke to him. When I have talked the matter over with him I will tell
you what I think about it. Let us go to dinner."

I felt that I had overcome the first great difficulty in persuading
Balsamides to take some interest in my errand. He is one of those men
who are very hard to move, but who, when once they are disposed to act
at all, are ready to do their best. Moreover, the existence of the
second staircase, leading from the gallery to the street, at once
explained how Alexander might have left the church unobserved by the
coachman. I wondered why no one had thought of this. It had probably not
suggested itself to any one, because strangers are never admitted from
that side, and because the door is almost always closed.

Gregorios did not refer to the subject again that evening, but amused
himself by asking me all manner of questions about the state of England.
We fell to talking about European politics, and the hours passed very
pleasantly until midnight.

On the next day I went to see Paul, and told him the result of my first
step. He appeared very grateful.

"It seems hard that my life should be ruined by this thing," he said
wearily. "Any prospect of news is delightful, however small. I am under
a sort of curse,--as much as though I had really had something to do
with poor Alexander's death. It comes up in all sorts of ways. Unless we
can solve the mystery, I shall never be really free."

"We will solve it," I said, in order to reassure him. "Nothing shall be
left undone, and I hope that in a few weeks you may feel relieved from
all this anxiety."

"It is more than anxiety; it is pain," he answered. I supposed that he
was thinking of Hermione, and was silent. Presently he proposed to go
out. It was a fine day in February, though the snow was on the ground
and filled the ruts in the pavement of the Grande Rue de Pera. Every one
was wrapped in furs and every one wore overshoes, without which it is
impossible to go out in winter in Constantinople. The streets were
crowded with that strange multitude seen nowhere else in the world; the
shops were full of people of all sorts, from the ladies of the embassies
to the veiled Turkish ladies, who have small respect for the regulation
forbidding them to buy in Frank establishments. At Galata Serai the huge
Kurdish hamáls loitered in the sun, waiting for a job, their ropes and
the heavy pillows on which they carry their burdens lying at their feet.
The lean dogs sat up and glared hungrily at the huge joints of meat
which the butchers' lads carried through the crowd, forcing their way
past the delicate Western ladies, who drew back in horror at the sight
of so much raw beef, and through knots of well-dressed men standing
before the cafés in the narrow street. Numberless soldiers moved in the
crowd, tall, fair Turks, with broad shoulders and blue eyes, in the
shabby uniform of the foot-guards, but looking as though they could
fight as well as any smart Prussian grenadier, as indeed they can when
they get enough to eat. Now and then a closed sedan-chair moved rapidly
along, borne by sturdy Kurds, and occasionally a considerable
disturbance was caused by the appearance of a carriage. Paul and I
strolled down the steep street, past Galata Tower and down into Galata
itself.

"Shall we cross?" asked Paul, as we reached the bridge.

"Let us go up the Bosphorus," I said. "There will probably be a steamer
before long."

He assented readily enough. It was about eleven o'clock in the
morning,--five by the Turkish clocks,--and the day was magnificent. The
sun was high, and illuminated everything in the bright, cold air, so
that the domes and minarets of the city were white as snow, with bluish
shadows, while the gilded crescents and spires glistened with unnatural
brilliancy in the clear winter's daylight. It is hard to say whether
Stamboul is more beautiful at any one season of the year than during the
other three, for every season brings with it some especial loveliness,
some new phase of color. You may reach Serai point on a winter's morning
in a driving snow-storm, so that everything is hidden in the gray veil
of the falling flakes; suddenly the clouds will part and the sunlight
will fall full upon the city, so that it seems as if every mosque and
spire were built of diamonds. Or you may cross to Scutari in the early
dawn of a morning in June, when the sky is like a vast Eastern flower,
dark blue in the midst overhead, the petals shaded with every tint to
the faint purple on the horizon; and every hue in turn passes over the
fantastic buildings, as the shadows gradually take color from the sky,
and the soft velvety water laps up the light in broad pools and delicate
streaks of tinted reflection. It is always beautiful, always new; but of
all times, I think the hour when the high sun illuminates most
distinctly everything on land and sea is the time when Stamboul is most
splendid and queenly.

The great ferry-boat heaved and thumped the water, and swung slowly off
the wooden pier, while we stood on the upper deck watching the scene
before us. For two men as familiar with Constantinople in all its
aspects as we were, it seemed almost ridiculous to go on board a steamer
merely for the sake of being carried to the mouth of the Black Sea and
back again. But I have always loved the Bosphorus, and I thought it
would amuse Paul to pass the many landings, and to see the crowds of
passengers, and to walk about the empty deck. He was tired with the
journey and harassed in mind, and for those ills the open air is the
best medicine.

He appeared to enjoy it, and asked me many questions about the palaces
and villas on both shores, for I was better acquainted with the place
than he. It seemed to interest him to know that such a villa belonged to
such a Pasha, that such another was the property of an old princess of
evil fame, while the third had seen strange doings in the days of
Mehemet Ali, and was now deserted or inhabited only by ghosts of the
past,--the resort of ghouls and jins from the neighboring grave-yards.
As we lay a moment at the pier of Yeni Köj,--"New town" sounds less
interesting,--we watched the stream of passengers, and I thought Paul
started slightly as a tall, smooth-faced, and hideous negro suddenly
turned and looked up to where we stood on the deck, as he left the
steamer. I might have been mistaken, but it was the only approach to an
incident of interest which occurred that day. We reached the upper part
of the Bosphorus, and at Yeni Mahallè, within sight of the Black Sea,
the ferry-boat described a wide circle and turned once more in the
direction of Stamboul.

"I feel better," said Paul, as we reached Galata bridge and elbowed our
way ashore through the crowd. "We will go again."

"By all means," I answered.

From that time during several weeks we frequently made excursions into
Stamboul and up the Bosphorus, and the constant enjoyment of the open
air did Paul good. But I could see that wherever we went he watched the
people with intense interest; following some individual with his eyes in
silence, or trying to see into dark archways and through latticed
windows, staring at the files of passengers who came on board the boats
or went ashore at the different landings, and apparently never relaxing
his attention. The people grew familiar to me, too, and gradually it
appeared that Paul was constructing a method for our peregrinations. It
was he, and not I, who suggested the direction of our expeditions, and I
noticed that he chose certain places on certain days. On Monday, for
instance, he never failed to propose a visit to the bazaars, on Tuesday
we generally went up the Bosphorus, on Wednesday into Stamboul. On
Friday afternoons, when the weather was fine, we used to ride out to the
Sweet Waters of Europe; for Friday is the Mussulman's day of rest, and
on that day all who are able love to go out to the Kiat-hané--the
"paper-mill,"--where they pass the afternoon in driving and walking,
eating sweetmeats, smoking, drinking coffee, watching gypsy girls dance,
or listening to the long-winded tales of professional story-tellers.
Almost every day had its regular excursion, and it was clear to me that
he always chose the place where on that day of the week there was likely
to be the greatest crowd.

Meanwhile Balsamides, in whose house I continued to live, alternately
laughed at me for believing Paul's story, and expressed in the next
breath a hope that Alexander might yet be found. He had been to Santa
Sophia, and had ascertained that the other staircase was usually opened
on the nights when the mosque was illuminated, for the convenience of
the men employed in lighting the lamps, and this confirmed his theory
about the direction taken by Alexander when he left the gallery. But
here all trace ceased again, and Balsamides was almost ready to give up
the search, when an incident occurred which renewed our energy and hope,
and which had the effect of rousing Paul to the greatest excitement.

We were wandering under the gloomy arches of the vast bazaar one day,
and had reached the quarter where the Spanish Jews have their shops and
collect their wonderful mass of valuables, chiefly antiquities, offering
them for sale in their little dens, and ever hungry for a bargain. We
strolled along, smoking and chatting as we went, when a Jew named
Marchetto, with whom I had had dealings in former days and who knew me
very well, came suddenly out into the broad covered way, and invited us
into his shop. He said he had an object of rare beauty which he was sure
I would buy. We went in, and sat down on a low divan against the wall.
The sides of the little shop were piled to the ceiling with neatly
folded packages of stuffs, embroideries, and prayer carpets. In one
corner stood a shabby old table with a glass case, under which various
objects of gold and silver were exposed for sale. The whole place
smelled strongly of Greek tobacco, but otherwise it was clean and neat.
A little raised dome in the middle of the ceiling admitted light and
air.

Marchetto disappeared for a moment, and instantly returned with two cups
of Turkish coffee on a pewter salver, which he deposited on a stool
before us. He evidently meant business, for he began to talk of the
weather, and seemed in no hurry to show us the object he had vaguely
mentioned. At last I asked for it, which I would certainly not have done
had I meant to buy it. It proved to be a magnificent strip of Rhodes
tapestry, of the kind formerly made for the Knights of Malta, but not
manufactured since the last century. It consists always of Maltese
crosses, of various sizes and designs, embroidered in heavy dark red
silk upon strips of coarse strong linen about two feet wide, or of the
same design worked upon square pieces for cushions. The value of this
tapestry is very great, and is principally determined by the fineness of
the stitch and the shade of red in the silk used.

Marchetto's face fell as we admired his tapestry, for he knew that we
would not begin a bargain by conceding the smallest merit to the object
offered. But he put a brave face on the matter, and began to show us
other things: a Giordès carpet, a magnificent piece of old Broussa gold
embroidery on pale blue satin, curious embroideries on towels, known as
Persian lace,--indeed, every variety of ancient stuff. Tired of sitting
still, I rose and turned over some of the things myself. In doing so I
struck my elbow against the old glass case in the corner, and looked to
see whether I had broken it. In so doing my eye naturally fell upon the
things laid out on white paper beneath the glazed frame. Among them I
saw a watch which attracted my attention. It was of silver, but very
beautifully engraved and adorned in Russian _niello_. The ribbed knob
which served to wind it was of gold. Altogether the workmanship was very
fine, and the watch looked new.

"Here is a Russian watch, Patoff," I said, tapping the glass pane with
my finger. Paul rose languidly and came to the table. When he saw the
thing he turned pale, and gripped my arm in sudden excitement.

"It is his," he said, in a low voice, trying to raise the lid.

"Alexander's?" Paul nodded. "Pretend to be indifferent," I said in
Russian, fearing lest Marchetto should understand.

The Jew unclosed the case and handed us the watch. Paul took it with
trembling fingers and opened it at the back. There in Russian letters
were engraved the words ALEXANDER PAULOVITCH, FROM HIS FATHER; the date
followed. There was no doubt about it. The watch had belonged to the
lost man; he had, therefore, been robbed.

"You got this from some bankrupt Pasha, Marchetto?" I inquired.
Everything offered for sale in the bazaar at second hand is said to come
from the establishment of a Pasha; the statement is supposed to attract
foreigners.

Marchetto nodded and smiled.

"A Russian Pasha," I continued. "Did you ever hear of a Russian Pasha,
Marchetto? The fellow who sold it to you lied."

"He who lies on the first day of Ramazán repents on the day of Bairam,"
returned the Jew, quoting a Turkish proverb, and grinning. I was struck
by the words. Somehow the mention of Bairam made me think of Alexander's
uncertain fate, and suggested the idea that Marchetto knew something
about it.

"Yes," I answered, looking sharply at him; "and another proverb says
that the fox ends his days in the furrier's shop. Where did you buy the
watch?"

"Allah bilir! I have forgotten."

"Allah knows, undoubtedly. But you know too," I said, laughing, and
pretending to be amused. Paul had resumed his seat upon the small divan,
and was listening with intense interest; but he knew it was best to
leave the thing to me. Marchetto was a fat man, with red hair and
red-brown eyes. He looked at me doubtfully for a moment.

"I will buy it if you will tell me where you got it," I said.

"I got it"--He hesitated. "It came out of a harem," he added suddenly,
with a sort of chuckle.

"Out of a harem!" I exclaimed, in utter incredulity. "What harem?"

"I will not tell you," he answered, gravely, the smile fading from his
face. "I swore that I would not tell."

"Will you swear that it really came from a harem?" I asked.

"I give you my word of honor," asseverated Marchetto. "I swear by my
head, by your beard"----

"I do not mean that," I said quietly. "Will you swear to me, solemnly,
before God, that you are telling the truth?"

Marchetto looked at me in surprise, for no people in the world are so
averse to making a solemn oath as the Hebrews, as, perhaps, no people
are more exact in regard to the truth when so made to bind themselves.
The man looked at me for a moment.

"You seem very curious about that watch," he said at last, turning away
and busying himself with his stuffs.

"Then you will not swear?" I asked, putting the watch back in its place.

"I cannot swear to what I do not know. But I know the man who sold it to
me. He is the Lala of a harem, that is certain. I will not tell you his
name, nor the name of the Effendi to whose harem he belongs. Will you
buy my watch?--birindjí--first quality--it is a beautiful thing. On my
honor, I have never seen a finer one, though it is of silver."

"Not unless you will tell me where it came from," I said firmly.
"Besides, I must show it to Vartan in Pera before I buy it. Perhaps the
works are not good."

"It is yours," said Marchetto. "Take it. When you have had it two days
you will buy it."

"How much?"

"Twenty liras,--twenty Turkish pounds," answered the Jew promptly.

"You mean five," I said. The watch was worth ten, I thought, about two
hundred and thirty francs.

"Impossible. I would rather let you take it as a gift. It is
birindjí--first quality--upon my honor. I never saw"----

"Rubbish, Marchetto!" I exclaimed. "Let me take it to Vartan to be
examined. Then we will bargain."

"Take it," he answered. "Keep it as long as you like. I know you very
well, and I thank Heaven I have profited a little with you. But the
price of the watch is twenty pounds. You will pay it, and all your life
you will look at it and say, 'What an honest man Marchetto is!' By my
head--it is birindjí--first quality--I never"----

"I have no doubt," I answered, cutting him short. I motioned to Paul
that we had better go: he rose without a word.

"Good-by, Marchetto," I said. "I will come back in a day or two and
bargain with you."

"It is birindjí--by my head--first quality"--were the last words we
heard as we left the Jew amongst his stuffs. Then we threaded the
subterranean passages of the bazaar, and soon afterwards were walking in
the direction of Galata bridge, on our way back to Pera. At last Paul
spoke.

"We are on the scent," he said. "That fellow was speaking the truth when
he said the watch came from a harem. I could see it in his face. I begin
to think that Alexander did some absurdly rash thing,--followed some
veiled Turkish woman, as he would have done before if I had not stopped
him,--was seized, imprisoned in some cellar or other, and ultimately
murdered."

"It looks like it," I answered. "Of course I would not buy the watch
outright, because as long as it is not paid for I have a hold upon
Marchetto. I will talk to Balsamides to-night. He is very clever about
those things, and he will find out the name of the black man who sold
it."

We separated, and I went to find my friend; but he was on duty and would
not return until evening. I spent the rest of the day in making visits,
trying to get rid of the time. On returning to the house of Gregorios I
found a letter from John Carvel, the first I had received from him since
I had left England. It ran as follows:--

* * *

MY DEAR GRIGGS: Since you left us something very extraordinary and
unexpected has taken place, and considering the part you took in our
household affairs, you should not be kept in the dark. I have suffered
more annoyance in connection with my unfortunate sister-in-law than I
can ever tell you; and the thing has culminated in a sort of
transformation scene, such as you certainly never expected any more than
I did. What will you say when I tell you that Madame Patoff has suddenly
emerged from her rooms in all respects a sane woman? You will not be any
less surprised--unless Paul has confided in you--to hear that he asked
Hermione to marry him before leaving us, and that Hermione did not
refuse him! I am so nervous that I have cut three meets in the last
month.

Of course you will want to know how all this came out. I do not see how
I can manage to write so long a letter as this must be. But the _labor
improbus_ knocks the stuffing out of all difficulties, as you put it in
your neat American way. I dare say I shall survive. If I do not, the
directions for my epitaph are, "Here lies the body of Anne Patoff's
brother-in-law." If you could see me, you would appreciate the justice
of the inscription.

Madame Patoff is perfectly sane; dines with us, drives out, walks,
talks, and reads like any other human being,--in which she differs
materially from Chrysophrasia, who does all these things as they were
never done, before or after the flood. We do not know what to make of
the situation, but we try to make the best of it. It came about in this
way. Hermione had taken a fancy to pay her aunt a visit, a day or two
after you had left. Mrs. North was outside, as usual, reading or working
in the next room. It chanced that the door was left open, or not quite
closed. Mrs. North had the habit of listening to what went on,
professionally, because it was her business to watch the case. As she
sat there working, she heard Madame Patoff's voice, talking
consecutively. She had never heard her talk before, more than to say
"Yes," or "No," or "It is a fine day," or "It rains." She rose and went
near the door. Her patient was talking very connectedly about a book she
had been reading, and Hermione was answering her as though not at all
surprised at the conversation. Then, presently, Hermione began to beg
her to come out into the house and to live with the rest of us, since
she was now perfectly sane. Mrs. North was thunderstruck, but did not
lose her head. She probably did the best thing she could have done, as
the event proved. She entered the room very quietly,--she is always so
quiet,--and said in the most natural way in the world, "I am so glad you
are better, Madame Patoff. Excuse me, Miss Hermione left the door open
and I heard you talking." The old lady started and looked at her a
moment. Then she turned away, and presently, looking rather white, she
answered the nurse: "Thank you, Mrs. North, I am quite well. Will you
send for Professor Cutter?" So Cutter was sent for, and when he had
seen her he sent for me, and told me that my sister-in-law was in a
lucid state, but that it would be just as well not to excite her. If she
chose to leave her room she might, he said, but she ought to be watched.
"The deuce!" said I, "this is most extraordinary!" "Exactly," said he,
"most extraordinary."

The lucid moment lasted, and she has been perfectly sane ever since. She
goes about the house, touching everything and admiring everything, and
enjoys driving with me in the dog-cart. I do not know what to make of
it. I asked Hermione how it began. She only said that she thought her
aunt had been better when she was with her, and then it had come very
suddenly. The other day Madame Patoff asked about Paul, and I told her
he had gone to the East with you. But she did not seem to know anything
about you, though I told her you had seen her. "Poor Paul," she said, "I
should like to see him so much. He is the only one left." She was sad
for a moment, but that was all. Cutter said it was very strange; that
her insanity must have been caused in some way by the shock she had when
she threw herself out of the window in Germany. Perhaps so. At all
events she is sane now, and Cutter says she will not be crazy again. I
hope he is right. She appeared very grateful for all I had done for her,
and I believe she has written to Paul. Queer story, is it not?

Now for the sequel. Hermione came to me one morning in the library, and
confessed that Paul had asked her to marry him, and that she had not
exactly refused. Girls' ideas about those things are apt to be very
inexact when they are in love with a man and do not want to own it. Of
course I said I was glad she had not accepted him; but when I put it to
her in that way she seemed more uncertain than ever. The end of it was
that she said she could not marry him, however much she liked him,
unless he could put an end to a certain foolish tale which is told
against him. I dare say you have heard that he had been half suspected
of helping his brother out of the world. Was there ever such nonsense?
That was what Chrysophrasia meant with her disgusting personalities
about Cain and Abel. I dare say you remember. I do not mind telling you
that I like Paul very much more than I expected to when he first came.
He has a hard shell, but he is a good fellow, and as innocent of his
brother's death as I am. But--they are cousins, and Paul's mother has
certainly been insane. Of course insanity brought on by an accident can
never be hereditary; but then, there is Chrysophrasia, who is certainly
very odd. However, Paul is a fine fellow, and I will think of it. Mrs.
Carvel likes him even better than I do. I would have preferred that
Hermione should marry an out-and-out Englishman, but I always said she
should marry the man she loved, if he were a gentleman, and I will not
go back on my word. They will not have much to live on, for I believe
Paul has refused to touch a penny of his brother's fortune, believing
that he may yet be found.

But the plot thickens. What do you suppose Macaulay has been doing? He
has written a letter to his old chief, Lord Mavourneen, who always liked
him so much, begging to be sent to Constantinople. The ambassador had a
secretary out there of the same standing who wanted to go to Paris, so
the matter was arranged at the Foreign Office, and Macaulay is going out
at once. Naturally the female establishment set up a howl that they must
spend the summer on the Bosphorus; that I had taken them everywhere
else, and that no one of them could die happy without having seen
Constantinople. The howl lasted a week. Then I went the way of all
flesh, and gave in. Mrs. Carvel wanted to see Macaulay, Madame Patoff
wanted to see the place where poor Alexander disappeared, Hermione
wanted to see Paul, and Chrysophrasia wanted to see the Golden Horn and
dance upon the glad waters of the joyous Bosphorus in the light caïque
of commerce. I am rather glad I have submitted. I think that Hermione's
affection is serious,--she looks ill, poor child,--and I want to see
more of Paul before deciding. Of course, with Macaulay in one embassy
and Paul in another, we shall see everything; and Mary says I am growing
crusty over my books. You understand now how all this has occurred.

Now I want your advice, for you not only know Constantinople, but you
are living there. Do you advise us to come at once and spend the spring,
or to come later and stay all summer? Is there anything to eat? Must I
bring a cook? Can I get a house, or must we encamp in a hotel? What
clothes does one wear? In short, tell me everything you know, on a
series of post cards or by telegraph,--for you hate writing letters more
than I do. I await your answer with anxiety, as we shall regulate our
movements by what you say. All send affectionate messages to you and to
Paul, to whom please read this letter.

Yours ever, JOHN CARVEL.

* * *

I had not recovered from my astonishment in reading this long epistle,
when Gregorios came in and sat down by the fire. His entrance reminded
me of the watch, and for the moment banished John Carvel and his family
from my thoughts. I showed him the thing, and told him what Marchetto
had said.

"We have him now!" he exclaimed, examining the name and date with
interest, though he could not read the Russian characters.

"It is not so sure," I said. "He will never tell the name of the negro."

"No; but we can see the fellow easily enough, I fancy," returned
Balsamides. "You do not know how these things are done. It is most
probable that Marchetto has not paid him for the watch. Things of that
sort are generally not paid for until they have been sold out of the
shop. Marchetto would not give him a good price for the watch until he
knew what it would fetch, and the man would not take a small sum because
he believes it to be valuable. The chances are that the Lala comes from
time to time to inquire if it is sold, and Marchetto shows it to him to
prove that he has not got any money for it."

"That sounds rather far-fetched," I observed. "Marchetto may have had it
in his keeping ever since Alexander disappeared. The Lala would not wait
as long as that. He would take it to some one else."

"No, I do not believe so," said Gregorios thoughtfully. "Besides, it may
not have been brought to the Jew more than a week ago. Those fellows do
not part with jewelry unless they need money. It is a pretty thing, too,
and would attract the attention of any foreigner."

"How can you manage to watch Marchetto so closely as to get a sight of
the man?"

"Bribe the Jew in the next shop; or, still better, pay a hamál to spend
his time in the neighborhood. The man probably comes once a week on a
certain day. Keep the watch. The next time he comes it will be gone, but
Marchetto will not have been paid for it and will refuse to pay the
Lala. There will inevitably be a hubbub and a noise over it. The hamál
can easily find out the name of the negro, who is probably well known in
the bazaar."

"But suppose that I am right, and it is already paid for?" I objected.

"It is very unlikely. I know these people better than you do. At all
events, we will put the hamál there to watch for the row. If it does not
come off in a month, I will begin to think you are right."

Gregorios is a true Oriental. He possesses the inborn instinct of the
bazaar.



XIII.


That night I went in search of Paul, and found him standing silent and
alone in the corner of a drawing-room at one of the embassies. There was
a great reception and a dance, and all the diplomats had turned out
officially to see that portion of the native Pera society which is
invited on such occasions.

There is a brilliancy about such affairs in Constantinople which is
hardly rivaled elsewhere. The display of jewels is something wonderful,
for the great Fanariote families are still rich, in spite of the
devastations of the late war, and the light of their hereditary diamonds
and pearls is not hidden under a bushel. There is beauty, too, of the
Oriental and Western kind, and plenty of it. The black eyes and
transparently white complexions of the Greek ladies, their raven hair
and heavy brows, their magnificent calm and their languid attitudes,
contrast strangely with the fair women of many countries, whose
husbands, or fathers, or brothers, or uncles are attached to the
different embassies. The uniforms, too, are often superb, and the
display of decorations is amazing. The conversation is an enlargement on
the ordinary idea of Babel, for almost every known language is spoken
within the limits of the ball-room.

I found Paul alone, with an abstracted expression on his face, as he
stood aside from the crowd, unnoticed in his corner.

"My dear fellow," I said, "I believe I may congratulate you."

"Upon what?" he asked, in some surprise.

"Let us get out of this crowd," I answered. "I have a letter from John
Carvel, which you ought to read."

We threaded the rooms till we reached a small boudoir, occupied only by
one or two couples, exceedingly interested in each other.

"Read that," said I. It was the best thing I could do for him, I
thought. He might be annoyed to find that I knew his secret, but he
could not fail to rejoice at the view John took of the engagement. His
face changed many times in expression, as he read the letter carefully.
When he had finished he was silent and held it in his hand.

"What do you think of all this?" I asked.

"She never was mad. Or if she was, this is the strangest recovery I ever
heard of. So she is coming here with the rest! And uncle John thinks me
a very fine fellow," he added with a laugh, meant to be a little
sarcastic, but which ended with the irrepressible ring of genuine
happiness.

"I congratulate you," I said. "I think the affair is as good as settled.
You have only to wait a few weeks, and they will be here. By the by, I
hope you do not mind Carvel's frankness in telling me all about it?"

"Not in the least," answered Paul, with a smile. "I believe you are the
best friend I have in the world, and you are his friend. You will do
good rather than harm."

"I hope so," said I. "But if any one had foretold a month ago that we
should all be together again so soon,--and here, too,--I could have
laughed at him."

"It is fate," answered Paul. "It would be better if it could be put off
until we reach the end of our search, especially as we seem to be nearer
the track than ever before. I am afraid that their arrival will hinder
us--or, at least, me--from working as hard as I would like."

"On the contrary," I replied, "I fancy you will work all the harder. I
have been talking to Balsamides about the watch. He feels sure that he
can catch the man who took it to Marchetto."

I explained to Paul the course Gregorios proposed to follow. He seemed
to think the chance was a poor one.

"I have been pursued by an idea ever since this morning," he said at
last. "I dare say you will think it very foolish, but I cannot get rid
of it. Do you remember the adventure in the Valley of Roses? I told you
about it at Carvel Place. Very well. I cannot help thinking that the
negro who took the watch to Marchetto was the one who accompanied those
two Turkish women. The man was exasperated. He probably knew us by
sight, for we had constantly met him and the lady with the thick
yashmak. They had often seen us come out of the Russian embassy. No
complaint was ever made against Alexander. It looks to me like a piece
of private vengeance."

"Yes," I assented, struck by the idea. "Besides, if the fellow had
succeeded in making away with your brother, it is natural that he should
have waited a long time before disposing of his jewelry."

"I wonder what became of the other things," said Patoff. "Alexander had
with him his Moscow cigarette case, he wore a gold chain with the watch,
and he had on his finger a ring with a sapphire and two diamonds in a
heavy gold band. If all those things have been disposed of, they must
have passed through the bazaar, probably through Marchetto's hands."

At this moment Balsamides Bey's pale, intelligent face showed itself at
the door. He came quickly forward on seeing us, and drew up a chair. I
told him in a few words what we had said. He smiled and twirled the end
of his brown mustache.

"There is something in that," he answered. "I fancy, too, that such a
fellow would first part with the chain, then with the cigarette case,
thirdly with the watch, and last of all with the ring, which he probably
wears."

"We must find out if Marchetto has sold the chain and the case for him,"
I said.

"Leave Marchetto to me," said Gregorios, confidently. "I will spend the
day with him to-morrow. Have you ever seen the negro since that affair
in the Valley of Roses?"

"Often," replied Paul, somewhat to my surprise. "He goes to Yeni Köj
every Thursday."

"You seem to have watched his movements," observed Balsamides, with a
smile of admiration. "Did you never tell Griggs?"

"No," said I, rather amazed.

"What would have been the use? I only watched the man because I fancied
he might be in some way connected with the matter, but it seemed so
absurd, until the finding of the watch made it look more probable, that
I never spoke of it."

"I am glad you have spoken of it now," said Gregorios. "It is probably
the key to the whole affair."

We talked on for a few minutes, and Paul told Balsamides that his mother
and the Carvels were coming, explaining his anxiety to hasten the search
so as to have something positive to show when they arrived. Then Paul
left us, and went to fulfill such social obligations as his position
imposed upon him. He was not a man to forget such things, even in times
of great excitement; and when he returned to Constantinople, his chief
had expressed the hope that Paul would not shut himself up, but would go
everywhere, as he had formerly done.

"This thing is beginning to interest me, Griggs," said Gregorios,
arching his eyebrows, and looking at me with a peculiar expression. "You
are doing more than I am, and I will not bear it," he added, with a
laugh. "What is my little bit of evidence about the staircase in Santa
Sophia compared to your discovery of the watch? I believe that in the
end Marchetto will be the _deus ex machina_ who will pull us out of all
our difficulties. I believe, too, that the best thing to do is to
confide the matter to him. I will go and see him to-morrow."

"He will never break his oath to the Lala," I answered.

"Perhaps not. But he has only sworn that he will not tell his name. He
has not sworn that he will not let me see him. So the fellow goes to
Yeni Köj on Thursday. Then he probably lives there, and chooses that day
to come to Stamboul. You have seen him going home. If he goes to
Stamboul, he most likely visits the bazaar early in the morning. If so,
I will catch him to-morrow, and to-morrow night I will tell you whether
he is the man or not. I will come upon Marchetto by accident, and he
will of course want to show me the Rhodes tapestry; then I will spend
the whole morning over the bargain, and I shall not miss the Lala if he
comes."

Balsamides was evidently fully roused, and as we smoked a last cigarette
in his rooms that night he talked enthusiastically of what he hoped to
accomplish on the next day. He kept his word, and very early in the
morning I heard him go out. From the sound of his walk I could tell that
he had no spurs, and was therefore in civilian's dress. He told me
afterwards what occurred.

At half past eight o'clock he was drinking a cup of coffee in
Marchetto's shop in the bazaar, and the Jew was displaying his tapestry,
and swearing that it was birindjí, first quality. Balsamides wanted to
produce the impression that he intended to make a bargain.

"Kaldyr! Take it away!" he exclaimed. "It is rubbish."

Marchetto held the stuff up over his customer's head so that the light
from the little dome could fall upon it.

"There is not a hole in the whole length of it," he cried
enthusiastically. "It is perfect; not a thread loose. Examine it; is
there a patch? By my head, if you can find such another piece I will
give you a present."

"Is that a color?" asked Balsamides contemptuously. "Is that red? It is
pink. It is magenta. How much did you pay to have it made?"

"If I could make Rhodes tapestry, I should be as rich as the Hunkyar,"
retorted Marchetto, squatting on the matted floor and slowly drawing the
magnificent tapestry across his knees, so that Gregorios could see it to
advantage.

"Do you take me for a madman?" asked the aid-de-camp. "I do not care for
Rhodes tapestry. Kaldyr! If it were old, it would have holes in it."

"I have Rhodes full of holes, beautiful holes," observed Marchetto, with
a grin.

"Fox!" retorted Gregorios. "Do you think when I buy tapestry I want to
buy holes?"

"But this piece has none," argued the Jew.

"You want me to buy it. I can see you do. You are laughing at my beard.
You think I will give a thousand pounds for your rubbish?"

"Not a thousand pounds," said Marchetto. "It is worth a hundred and
fifty pounds, neither more nor less. Marchetto is an honest man. He is
not a Persian fox."

"No," answered Balsamides, "he is an Israelite of Saloniki. What have I
to do with such a fellow as you, who have the impudence to ask a hundred
and fifty liras for that rag?"

"How shall the lion and the lamb lie down together?" inquired Marchetto.
"And is it a rag?"

"I will tell you, Marchetto," said Gregorios, gravely. "The lion and the
lamb shall lie down together, when the lion lies down with the lamb
inside of him."

"Take, and eat!" exclaimed the ready Jew, holding out the Rhodes
tapestry to Balsamides.

"A man who has fasted throughout Ramazán shall not break his fast with
an onion," retorted Gregorios, laughing.

"Who eats little earns much," replied Marchetto. "Is it not the most
beautiful piece of Rhodes you ever saw, Effendim? There is not a Pasha
in Stamboul, nor in Pera, nor in Scutari, who possesses the like of it.
Only a hundred and fifty pounds; it is very cheap."

"I will give you ten pounds for it, if you will give me a good
backsheesh," said Gregorios at last. In Stamboul it is customary, when a
bargain of any importance is completed, for the seller to make the buyer
a present of some small object, which is called the backsheesh, or gift.

On hearing the offer, Marchetto looked slyly at Gregorios and laughed,
without saying anything. Then he slowly began to fold the tapestry
together.

"Ten pounds," said Balsamides. "Pek chok,--that is quite enough, and too
much."

"Yes, of course it is," answered the Jew, ironically. "I paid a hundred
and nineteen pounds and eighty-five piastres for it. I only ask fifteen
piastres profit. Small profits. Get rid of everything quickly. Who sells
cheaply sells soon; who sells soon earns much."

"I told you from the first that I did not want your Rhodes," said
Balsamides. "I came here to see what you had. Have you nothing else that
is good?"

"Everything Marchetto has is good. His carpets are all of silk, and of
the finest colors. His embroideries are the envy of the bazaar.
Marchetto has everything."

He did not finish folding the Rhodes, but thrust it aside upon the
matting, and began to pull down other stuffs and carpets from the
shelves. From the obstinacy Gregorios displayed, he really judged that
he meant to buy the tapestry, and to make a good bargain he would
willingly have turned everything in his little shop upside down.

Gregorios admired several pieces very much, whereupon the Jew threw them
aside in disgust, well knowing that his customer would not buy them. The
latter had now been an hour in the shop, and showed no signs of going
away. Marchetto returned to the original question.

"If it is worth so much, why do you not take it to one of the
embassies?" asked Balsamides at last. He had resolved that he would
prolong the discussion until twelve o'clock, judging that by midday the
negro would be on his way back to Yeni Köj, and that there would be no
further chance of seeing him. He therefore broached the subject of
Marchetto's trade with the foreigners, knowing that once upon this tack
the Jew would have endless stories and anecdotes to relate. But
Gregorios was not destined to stand in need of so much ingenuity. He
would never have made the attempt in which he was now engaged unless he
had anticipated success, and he was not surprised when a tall,
smooth-faced negro, of hideous countenance but exceedingly well dressed,
put his head into the shop. He saluted Gregorios and entered. Marchetto
touched his mouth and his fez with his right hand, but did not at first
rise from his seat upon the floor. Balsamides watched the man. He looked
about the shop, and then approached the old glass case in the corner. He
had hardly glanced at it when he turned and tried to catch Marchetto's
eye. The latter made an almost imperceptible motion of the head.
Gregorios was satisfied that the pantomime referred to the watch, which
was no longer in its place. He continued to talk with the Jew for a few
minutes, and then slowly rose from his seat.

"I see you have business with this gentleman," he said. "I have
something to do in the bazaar. I will return in half an hour."

The Lala seemed delighted, and politely made way for Gregorios to pass,
but Marchetto of course protested loudly that the negro's business could
wait. He accompanied Gregorios to the door, and with many inclinations
stood looking after him for a few moments. At a little distance
Gregorios pretended to be attracted by something exposed for sale, and,
pausing, looked furtively back. The Jew had gone in again. Then
Balsamides returned and entered a shop almost opposite to Marchetto's,
kept by another Spanish Hebrew of Saloniki, who made a specialty of
selling shawls,--a smart young fellow, with beady black eyes.

"Good morning, Abraham," he said. "Have you manufactured any new Kashmir
shawls out of old rags of borders and French imitations since I saw
you?"

Abraham smiled pleasantly, and began to unfold his wares. Before many
minutes the sound of angry voices was heard outside. Gregorios had
ensconced himself in a corner, whence he could see what went on without
being seen. The quarrelers were Marchetto and the Lala.

"Dog of a Jew!" screamed the black man in his high, cracked voice. "Will
you rob me, and then turn me out of your filthy den? You shall suffer
for it, you Saloniki beast!"

"Dog yourself, and son of a dog!" bellowed Marchetto, his big face
growing fiery red as he blocked the doorway with his bulky shoulders.
"Behold the gratitude of this vile wretch!" he cried, as though
addressing an audience. "Look at this insatiate jackal, this pork-eater,
this defiler of his father's grave! Oh! beware of touching what is
black, for the filth will surely rub off!"

Exasperated at the Jew's eloquent abuse, the Lala tried to push him back
into the shop, flourishing his light cane in his right hand. In a moment
a crowd collected, and the epithets of the combatants were drowned
amidst the jeers and laughter of the by-standers, delighted at seeing
the dandy keeper of a great harem in the clutches of the sturdy
Marchetto.

Abraham looked out, and then turned back to his customer.

"It is Selim," he said with a chuckle. "He has been trying to cheat
Marchetto again."

"Again?" repeated Gregorios, who had at last attained his end. "And who
is Selim, Abraham?"

"Selim? Everybody in the bazaar knows Selim, the most insolent,
avaricious, money-grabbing Lala in Stamboul. He is more like a Persian
than anything else. He is the Lala of Laleli Khanum Effendi, who lives
at Yeni Köj. They say she is a witch since her husband died," added
Abraham, lowering his voice.

"I have heard so," said Gregorios calmly. But in reality he was
triumphant. He knew now what had become of Alexander Patoff.

The noise outside was rapidly growing to an uproar. Gregorios slipped
quickly out of the shop and made his way through the crowd, for he felt
that it was time to put a stop to the quarrel. Many of the people knew
him, and knew that he was an officer and a man in authority; recognizing
him, they stopped yelling and made way for him.

"What is this?" he cried, violently separating Marchetto and the negro,
who were screaming insults at each other and shaking their fists in each
other's faces. "Stop this noise," he continued, "or I will send a score
of soldiers down to keep you in order. If the Lala is not satisfied, he
can go before the magistrate. So can Marchetto, if he likes.--Go!" he
said to the negro, pushing him away and scattering the crowd. "If you
have any complaints to make, go to the magistrate."

"Who are you?" asked the fellow, insolently.

"It is none of your business," answered Gregorios, dragging the man away
in the nervous grip of his white hand; then lowering his voice, he spoke
quickly in the man's ear: "Do you remember the Bairam, a year ago last
summer? If you are not quiet, I will ask you what became of the chain of
that watch, of the silver box, and especially of that beautiful ring
with the sapphire and two diamonds. Moreover, I may ask you what became
of a certain Frank Effendi, to whom they belonged,--do you understand?"

The man trembled in every joint, and a greenish livid hue seemed to
drive the blackness out of his face.

"I know nothing!" he gasped hysterically. But Balsamides let him go.

"Be quick," he said. "The watch will be paid for, but do not venture to
come to the bazaar again for some time. Fear nothing,--I have an eye to
your safety."

The last speech was perhaps somewhat ambiguous, but the man, being once
released, dived into a narrow passage and disappeared. The crowd of
Jews had shrunk into their shops again. Gregorios hastily concluded a
bargain with Abraham, and then returned to finish his conversation with
Marchetto. He found the latter mopping his forehead, and talking
excitedly to a couple of sympathetic Hebrews who had entered his place
of business. On seeing Balsamides they immediately left the shop.

"I have sent him away," said Gregorios. "He will not trouble you again."

"It is not my fault if the dog of a Turk is angry," answered Marchetto.

"I hardly know. He says he had left a watch with you to be sold, and
that now he can get neither the watch nor the money. You like to keep
your customers waiting when they have anything to sell, Marchetto. How
long is it since he gave you the watch?"

"On my head, it is only three weeks," answered the Jew. "How can I sell
a watch in three weeks and get the money for it? An Effendi took the
watch yesterday to show it to Vartan, the jeweler. He is a friend of
yours, Effendim; you first brought him here a long time ago. His name is
a strange name,--Cricks,--a very strange name, like the creaking of an
ungreased cart-wheel."

"Oh, did he take the watch? I will speak to him about it. He will pay
you immediately. How did the Lala come to have a watch to sell?"

"Allah bilir. He is always bringing me things to sell."

"Other things?"

"He showed me a gold chain one day in the winter. But it was not
curious, so he took it to a jeweler in the jeweler's tcharshee, who gave
him the value of the gold by weight."

"Who is he?" asked Gregorios, judging that he ought to show some
curiosity about the man.

"I cannot tell," answered the Jew.

"That means that you will not, of course. Very well. It is your affair.
Curiosity is the mother of deception. Will you give me the Rhodes for
ten pounds?"

They began to bargain again, but nothing was concluded on that day, for
Gregorios had got what he wanted, and was anxious to reach home and to
see me.

Patoff and I, as usual on Thursday, had made a trip up the Bosphorus,
and it was on this occasion that he first pointed out to me the hideous
negro. He proved to be the same man I had seen once before, on our very
first excursion. To-day he looked more ugly than ever, as he went ashore
at Yeni Köj. There was a malignity in his face such as I have never seen
equaled in the expression of any human being.

"I wonder what we shall find out," said Paul thoughtfully. "I have a
very strong belief that he is the fellow who sold the watch. If he is,
poor Alexander can have had but small chance of escape. Did you ever see
such a diabolical face? Of course it may be a mere fancy, but I cannot
rid myself of the thought."

"Balsamides will find out," I replied. "He can handle those fellows in
the bazaar as only an Oriental can."

It was not long before I heard the story of the morning's adventure from
Gregorios. I found him waiting for me and very impatient. He told his
tale triumphantly, dwelling on the fact that Marchetto himself had never
suspected that he was interested in the matter.

"And who is Laleli Khanum Effendi?" I inquired when he had finished.
"And how are we to get into her house?"

"You never heard of Laleli? You Franks think you know Constantinople,
but you know very little in reality. Laleli means 'a tulip.' A pretty
name, Tulip. Why not 'cabbage rose,' or 'artichoke,' or 'asparagus'?
Laleli is an extraordinary woman, my friend, and has been in the habit
of doing extraordinary things, ever since she poisoned her husband. She
is the sister of a very high and mighty personage, who has been dead
some time. She was married to an important officer in the government.
She was concerned in the conspiracy against Abdul Azis; she is said to
have poisoned her husband; she fell in her turn a victim to the
conspiracy against Murad, and, though not banished, lost all favor. She
managed to keep her fortune, however, which is very large, and she has
lived for many years in Yeni Köj. There are all sorts of legends about
her. Some say she is old and hideous, others declare that she has
preserved her beauty by witchcraft. There is nothing absurd which has
not been said of her. She certainly at one time exercised considerable
influence in politics. That is all I know of her except this, which I
have never believed: it has been said that more than one person has been
seen to enter her house, but has never been seen to leave it."

"How can one believe that?" I asked skeptically. "If it were really
known, her house would have been searched, especially as she is out of
favor."

"It is curious, however," said Gregorios, without contradicting me,
"that we should have traced Alexander Patoff's personal possessions to
her house."

"What shall we do next?" I asked.

"There are only two courses open. In the first place, we can easily
catch the Lala who sold the watch, and take him to a quiet place."

"Well, do you suppose he will tell us what he knows?"

"We will torture him," said Balsamides, coolly. I confess that I was
rather startled by the calm way in which he made the proposition. I
inwardly determined that we should do nothing of the kind.

"What is the other alternative?" I inquired, without showing any
surprise.

"To break into the house and make a search, I suppose," answered my
friend, still quite unmoved, and speaking as though he were proposing a
picnic on the Bosphorus.

"That is not an easy matter," I remarked, "besides being slightly
illegal."

"Whatever we do must be illegal," answered Gregorios. "If we begin to
use the law, the Khanum will have timely warning. If Alexander is still
alive and imprisoned in her house, it would be the work of a moment to
drop him into the Bosphorus. If he is dead already, we should have less
chance of getting evidence of the fact by using legal means than by
extracting a confession by bribery or violence."

"In other words, you think it is indispensable that we should undertake
a burglary?"

"Unless we succeed in persuading the Lala to confess," said Balsamides.

"This is a very unpleasant business," I remarked, with a pardonable
hesitation. "I do not quite see where it will end. If we break into the
house and find nothing, we shall be amenable to the law. I object to
that."

"Very well. What do you propose?"

"I cannot say what would be best. In my opinion, Paul should consult
with his ambassador, and take his advice. But before all else it is
necessary to find out whether Alexander is dead or alive."

"Of course. That is precisely what I want to find out," answered
Balsamides, rather impatiently. "The person who can best answer the
question is Selim, the Lala."

"I object to using violence," I said, boldly. "I fancy he might be
bribed. Those fellows will do anything for money."

"You do not know them. They will commit any baseness for money, except
betraying their masters. It has been tried a hundred times. We may avoid
using violence, as you call it, but the man must be frightened with the
show of it. The people who can be bribed are the women slaves of the
harem. But they are not easily reached."

"It is not impossible, though," I answered. "Nevertheless, if I were
acting alone, I would put the matter in the hands of the Russian
embassy."

"Do you think they would hesitate at any means of getting information,
any more than I would?" inquired Gregorios, scornfully.

"We shall see," I said. "We must discuss the matter thoroughly before
doing anything more. I have no experience of affairs of this sort; your
knowledge of them is very great. On the other hand, I am more prudent
than you are, and I do not like to risk everything on one throw of the
dice."

"We might set fire to the house and burn them out," said Gregorios,
thoughtfully. "The danger would be that we might burn Alexander alive."

My friend did not stick at trifles. Under his cold exterior lurked the
desperate rashness of the true Oriental, ready to blaze out at any
moment.

"No," I said, laughing; "that would not do, either. Is it not possible
to send a spy into the house? It seems to me that the thing might be
done. What sort of women are they who gain access to the harems?"

"Women who sell finery and sweetmeats; women who amuse the Khanums by
dressing their hair, when they have any, in the Frank style; women who
tell stories"----

"A story-teller would do," I said. "They are often admitted, are they
not? It is almost the only amusement those poor creatures have. I fancy
that one who could interest them might be admitted again and again."

Balsamides was silent, and smoked meditatively for some minutes.

"That is an idea," he said at last. "I know of such a woman, and I dare
say she could get in. But if she did, she might go to the house twenty
times, and get no information worth having."

"Never mind. It would be a great step to establish a means of
communication with the interior of the house. You could easily force the
Lala to recommend the story-teller to his Khanum. She could tell us
about the internal arrangement of the place, at all events, which would
make it easier for us to search the house, if we ever got a chance."

"If one could get as far as that, it would be a wise precaution and a
benefit to the human race to convey a little strychnine to the Khanum in
a sweetmeat," said Gregorios, with a laugh.

"How horribly bloodthirsty you are!" I answered, laughing in my turn. "I
believe you would massacre half of Stamboul to find a man who may be
dead already."

"It is our way of looking at things, I suppose," returned Balsamides. "I
will see the story-teller, and explain as much as possible of the
situation. What I most fear is that we may have to take somebody else
into our confidence."

"Do none of the ladies in the embassies know this Laleli, as you call
her?" I asked.

"Yes. Many Frank ladies have been to see her. But their visits are
merely the satisfaction of curiosity on the one side, and of formality
on the other."

"I was wondering whether one of them would not be the best person in
whom to confide."

"Not yet," said Balsamides.

And so our interview ended. When I saw Paul and told him the news, he
seemed to think that the search was already at an end. I found it hard
to persuade him that a week or two might elapse before anything definite
was known. In his enthusiasm he insisted that I should answer John
Carvel's letter by begging him to come at once. As he was the person
most concerned, I yielded, and wrote.

"It is strange," said Paul, "that we should have accomplished more in a
single month than has been done by all the official searching in a year
and a half."

"The reason is very simple," I answered. "The Lala did not chance to be
in want of money until lately. Everything we have discovered has been
found out by means of that watch."

"Griggs," said Paul, "Balsamides is a very clever fellow, but he has not
thought of asking one question. Why was the Lala never in want of money
before?"

"I do not know."

"Because, in some way or other, he is out of favor with his Khanum. If
that is the case, this is the time to bribe him."

"Very true," I said. "In any case, if he is trying to get money, it is a
sign that he needs it, in spite of our friend's declaration that he and
his kind cannot be bribed."



XIV.


It often happens, when our hopes are raised to the highest pitch of
expectation, and when we think we are on the eve of realizing our
well-considered plans, that an unexpected obstacle arises in our path,
like the impenetrable wall which so often in our dreams suddenly
interposes itself between us and the enemy we are pursuing. At such
moments we are apt to despair of ourselves, and it is the inability to
rise above this dejection at the important crisis which too often causes
failure. After we had discovered the watch, and after Balsamides had
traced it to the house of Laleli Khanum Effendi, it seemed to me that
the end could not be far. It could not be an operation of superhuman
difficulty to bribe some one in the harem to tell us what we wanted to
know. In a few days this might be accomplished, and we should learn the
fate of Alexander Patoff.

It was at this point, however, that failure awaited us. The house of
Laleli was impenetrable. The scheme to establish communication by means
of the story-teller did not succeed. The old woman was received once,
but saw nothing, and never succeeded in gaining admittance again. Selim,
the Lala, ceased at that time to pay regular visits to Stamboul on
Thursday, and Balsamides realized that he had perhaps not done wisely in
letting him go free from the bazaar. We paid several visits to Yeni Köj,
and contemplated the dismal exterior of the Khanum's villa. High walls
of mud and stone surrounded it on all sides except the front, and there
the long, low wooden facade exhibited only its double row of latticed
windows, overlooking the water, while two small doors, which were always
closed, constituted the entrance from the narrow stone quay. Nothing
could penetrate those lattices, nor surmount the blank steepness of
those walls. Our only means of reaching the interior of the dwelling and
the secrets which perhaps were hidden there lay in our power over Selim;
but the Lala had no difficulty in eluding us, and either kept resolutely
within doors, or sallied out in company with his mistress. It was
remarkable, however, that we had never met him in charge of the ladies
of the harem, as Paul had so often met him during the summer when
Alexander had made his visit to his brother. We went to every place
where Turkish ladies are wont to resort in their carriages during the
winter, but we never saw Selim nor the lady with the thick veil.

Meanwhile, Paul grew nervous, and his anxiety for the result of our
operations began to show itself in his face. I had written to John
Carvel, and he had replied that he was making his preparations, and
would soon join us. Then Macaulay Carvel arrived, and, having found
Paul, came with him to see me. The young man's delight at being at last
appointed to Constantinople knew no bounds, and he almost became
enthusiastic in his praises of the city and the scenery. He smiled
perpetually, and was smoother than ever in speech and manner. Balsamides
conceived a strong dislike for him, but condescended to treat him with
civility in consideration of the fact that he was Paul's cousin and the
son of my old friend.

Indeed, Macaulay had every reason to be happy. He had succeeded in
getting transferred to the East, where he could see his cousin every
day; he was under one of the most agreeable and kind-hearted chiefs in
the service; and now his whole family had determined to spend the summer
with him. What more could the heart of a good boy desire? It was rather
odd that Paul should like him so much, I thought. It seemed as though
Patoff, who was inclined to repel all attempts at intimacy, and who at
four-and-thirty years of age was comparatively friendless, was touched
by the admiration of his younger cousin, and had for him a sort of
half-paternal affection, which was quite enough to satisfy the modest
expectations of the quiet young man. Yet Macaulay was far from being a
match for Paul in any respect. Where Paul exhibited the force of his
determination by intelligent hard work, Macaulay showed his desire for
excellence by doggedly memorizing in a parrot-like way everything which
he wished to know. Where Paul was enthusiastic, Macaulay was
conscientious. Where Paul was original, Macaulay was a studious but dull
imitator of the originality of others. Instead of Paul's indescribable
air of good-breeding, Macaulay possessed what might be called a
well-bred respectability. Where Paul was bold, Macaulay exhibited a
laudable desire to do his duty.

Yet Macaulay Carvel was not to be despised on account of his high-class
mediocrity. He did his best, according to his lights. He endeavored to
improve the shining hour, and admired the busy little bee, as he had
been taught to do in the nursery. If he had not the air of a
thoroughbred, he had none of the plebeian clumsiness of the cart-horse.
Though he was not the man to lead a forlorn hope, he was no coward; and
though he had not invented gunpowder, he had the requisite intelligence
to make use of already existing inventions under the direction of
others. He had a way of remembering what he had learned laboriously
which his brilliant chief found to be very convenient, and he was a
useful secretary. His admiration for Paul was the honest admiration
which many a young man feels for those qualities which he does not
possess, but which he believes he can create in himself by closely
imitating the actions of others.

It is unnecessary to add that Macaulay was discreet, and that in the
course of a few days he was put in possession of the details of what had
occurred. I had feared at first that his presence might irritate Paul,
in the present state of affairs, but I soon found out that the younger
man's uniformly cheerful, if rather colorless, disposition seemed to
act like a sort of calming medicine upon his cousin's anxious moods.

"That fellow Carvel," Balsamides would say, "is the ultimate expression
of your Western civilization, which tends to make all men alike. I
cannot understand why you are both so fond of him. To me he is insipid
as boiled cucumber. He ought to be a banker's clerk instead of a
diplomatist. The idea of his serving his country is about as absurd as
hunting bears with toy spaniels."

"You do not do him justice," I always answered. "You forget that the
days of original and personal diplomacy are over, or very nearly over.
Plenipotentiaries now are merely persons who have an unlimited credit at
the telegraph office. The clever ones complain that they can do nothing
without authority; the painstaking ones, like Macaulay Carvel,
congratulate themselves that they need not use their own judgment in any
case whatever. They make the best government servants, after all."

"When servants begin to think, they are dangerous. That is quite true,"
was Gregorios' scornful retort; and I knew how useless it was to attempt
to convince him. Nevertheless, I believe that as time proceeded he began
to respect Macaulay on account of his extreme calmness. The young man
had made up his mind that he would not be astonished in life, and had
therefore systematically deadened his mental organs of astonishment, or
the capacity of his mental organs for being astonished. As no one has
the least idea what a mental organ is, one phrase is about as good as
another.

We had not advanced another step in our investigations, in spite of all
our efforts, when we received news that the Carvels, accompanied by
Madame Patoff and Chrysophrasia Dabstreak, were on their way to
Constantinople. We had looked at several houses which we thought might
suit them, but as the season was advancing we supposed that John would
prefer to spend the remainder of the spring in a hotel, and then engage
a villa on the Bosphorus, at Therapia or Buyukdere. At last the day came
for their arrival, and Macaulay took the kaváss of his embassy with him
to facilitate the operations of the custom-house. Paul did not go with
him, thinking it best not to meet his mother, for the first time since
her recovery, in the hubbub of landing. I, however, went with Macaulay
Carvel on board the Varna boat. In a few minutes we were exchanging
happy greetings on the deck of the steamer, and in the midst of the
confusion I was presented to Madame Patoff.

She was not changed since I had seen her last, except that she now
looked quietly at me and offered her hand. Her fine features were
perhaps a little less pale, her dark eyes were a little less cold, and
her small traveling-bonnet concealed most of her thick gray hair. She
was dressed in a simple costume of some neutral tint which I cannot
remember, and she wore those long loose gauntlets commonly known as
Biarritz gloves. I thought her less tall and less imposing than when I
had seen her in the black velvet which it was her caprice to wear during
the period of her insanity; but she looked more natural, too, and at
first sight one would have merely said that she was a woman of sixty,
who had once been beautiful, and who had not lost the youthful
proportions of her figure. As I observed her more closely in the broad
daylight, on the deck of the steamer, however, I began to see that her
face was marked by innumerable small lines, which followed the shape of
her features like the carefully traced shadows of an engraving; they
crossed her forehead, they made labyrinths of infinitesimal wrinkles
about her eyes, they curved along the high cheek-bones and the somewhat
sunken cheeks, and they surrounded the mouth and made shadings on her
chin. They were not like ordinary wrinkles. They looked as though they
had been drawn with infinite precision and care by the hand of a cunning
workman. To me they betrayed an abnormally nervous temperament, such as
I had not suspected that Madame Patoff possessed, when in the yellow
lamp-light of her apartment her white skin had seemed so smooth and
even. But she was evidently in her right mind, and very quiet, as she
gave me her hand, with the conventional smile which we use to convey the
idea of an equally conventional satisfaction when a stranger is
introduced to us.

John was delighted to see me, and was more like his old self than when I
had last seen him. Mrs. Carvel's gentle temper was not ruffled by the
confusion of landing, and she greeted me as ever, with her sweet smile
and air of sympathetic inquiry. Chrysophrasia held out her hand, a very
forlorn hope of anatomy cased in flabby kid. She also smiled, as one may
fancy that a mosquito smiles in the dark when it settles upon the nose
of some happy sleeper. I am sure that mosquitoes have green eyes,
exactly of the hue of Chrysophrasia's.

"So deliciously barbarous, is it not, Mr. Griggs?" she murmured,
subduing the creaking of her thin voice.

"Dear Mr. Griggs, I am so awfully glad to see you again," said Hermione
with genuine pleasure, as she laid her little hand in mine.

It seemed to me that Hermione was taller and thinner than she had been
in the winter. But there was something womanly in her lovely face, as
she looked at me, which I had not seen before. Her soft blue eyes were
more shaded,--not more sad, but less carelessly happy than they used to
be,--and the delicate color was fainter in her transparent skin. There
was an indescribable look of gravity about her, something which made me
think that she was very much in earnest with her life.

"Paul is at the hotel," I said, rather loudly, when the first meeting
was over. "He has made everything comfortable for you up there. The
kaváss will see to your things. Let us go ashore at once, out of all
this din."

We left the steamer, and landed where the carriages were waiting. John
talked all the time, recounting the incidents of the journey, the
annoyance they had had in crossing the Danube at Rustchuk, the rough
night in the Black Sea, the delight of watching the shores of the
Bosphorus in the morning. When we landed, Chrysophrasia turned suddenly
round and surveyed the scene.

"We are not in Constantinople at all," she said, in a tone of bitter
disappointment.

"No," said Macaulay; "nobody lives in Stamboul. This is Galata, and we
are going up to Pera, which is the European town, formerly occupied by
the Genoese, who built that remarkable tower you may have observed from
the harbor. The place was formerly fortified, and the tower has now been
applied to the use of the fire brigade. Much interest is attached"----

How long Macaulay would have continued his lecture on Galata Tower is
uncertain. Chrysophrasia interrupted him in disgust.

"A fire brigade!" she exclaimed. "We might as well be in America at
once. Really, John, this is a terrible disappointment. A fire brigade!
Do not tell me that the people here understand the steam-engine,--pray
do not! All the delicacy of my illusions is vanishing like a dream!"

Chrysophrasia sometimes reminds me of a certain imperial sportsman who
once shot an eagle in the Tyrol.

"An eagle!" he cried contemptuously, when told what it was. "Gentlemen,
do not trifle with me,--an eagle always has two heads. This must be some
other bird."

In due time we reached the hotel. Paul was standing in the doorway, and
came forward to help the ladies as they descended from the carriage,
greeting them one by one. When his mother got out, he respectfully
kissed her hand. To the surprise of most of us, Madame Patoff threw her
arms round his neck, and embraced him with considerable emotion.

"Dear, dear Paul,--my dear son!" she cried. "What a happy meeting!"

Paul was evidently very much astonished, but I will do him the credit to
say that he seemed moved as he kissed his mother on both cheeks, for his
face was pale and he appeared to tremble a little.

The travelers were conducted to their rooms by Macaulay, and I saw no
more of them. But John insisted that I should dine with them in the
evening. In the mean while I went home, and found Gregorios reading, as
usual when he was not on duty at Yildiz-Kiöshk,--the "Star-Palace,"
where the Sultan resides.

"Have you deposited your friends in a place of safety?" he asked,
looking up from his book. "Have they all come,--even the old maid with
the green eyes, and the mad lady whom Patoff is so unfortunate as to
call his mother?"

"All," I answered. "They are real English people, and my old friend John
Carvel is the patriarch of the establishment. There are maid-servants
and men-servants, and more boxes than any house in Pera will hold. The
old lady seems perfectly sane again."

"Then she will probably die," said Gregorios, reassuringly. "Crazy
people almost always have a lucid interval before death."

"You take a cheerful view," I observed.

"Fate would confer a great benefit on Patoff by removing his mother from
this valley of tears," returned my friend. "Besides, as our proverb
says, mad people are the only happy people. Madame Patoff, in passing
from insanity to sanity, has therefore fallen from happiness to
unhappiness."

"If all your proverbs were true, the world would be a strange place."

"I will not discuss the inexhaustible subject of the truth of proverbs,"
answered Balsamides. "I only doubt whether Madame Patoff will be happy
now that she is sane, and whether the uncertainty of the issue of our
search may not drive her mad again. She will probably spoil everything
by chattering at all the embassies. By the by, since we are on the
subject of death, lunacy, and other similar annoyances, I may as well
tell you that Laleli is very ill, and it is not expected that she can
live. I heard it this morning on very good authority."

"That is rather startling," I said.

"Very. Dying people sometimes make confessions of their crimes, but to
hear the confession you must be there when they are about to give up the
ghost."

"That is impossible in this case, unless you can get into the harem as a
doctor."

"Who knows? We must make a desperate attempt of some kind. Leave it to
me, and do not be surprised if I do not appear for a day or two. I have
made up my mind to strike a blow. You are too evidently a Frank to be of
any use. I wish you were a Turk, Griggs. You have such an enviably sober
appearance. You speak Turkish just well enough to make me wish you would
never betray yourself by little slips in the verbs and mistakes in using
Arabic words. Only educated Osmanlis can detect those errors: just now
they are the very people we want to deceive."

"I can pass for anything else here without being found out," I answered.
"I can pass for a Persian when there are no Persians about, or for a
Panjabí Mussulman, if necessary."

"That is an idea. You might be an Indian Hadji. I will think of it."

"What in the world do you intend to do?" I asked, suspecting my friend
of some rash or violent project.

"A very sly trick," he replied, with his usual sarcastic smile. "There
need not necessarily be any violence about it, unless we find Alexander
alive, in which case you and I must manage to get him out of the house."

"Tell me your plan," I said. "Let me hear what it is like."

"No; I will tell you to-night, when I know whether it is possible or
not. You are going to dine with your friends? Yes; very well, when you
have finished, come here, and we will see what can be done. We must only
pray that the iniquitous old woman may live till morning."

It was clear that Gregorios was not ready, and that nothing would induce
him to speak what was in his mind. I showed no further curiosity, and at
the appointed time I left the house to go and dine with the Carvels.

"Say nothing to Patoff," said Balsamides, as I went out.

I found the Carvels assembled in their sitting-room, and we went to
dinner. I could not help looking from time to time at Paul's mother, who
surprised me by her fluent conversation and perfect self-possession.
With the exception that she was present and that Professor Cutter was
absent, the dinner was very much like the meals at Carvel Place. I
noticed that Paul was placed between Mrs. Carvel and his mother, while
Hermione was on the opposite side of the table. But their eyes met
constantly, and there was evidently a perfect understanding between
them. Paul looked once more as I had seen him when he was talking to
Hermione in England, and the coldness I so much disliked had temporarily
disappeared from his face. I did not know what had occurred during the
afternoon, since I had left the hotel, and it was not until later that I
learned some of the details of the meeting.

When the members of the party retired to their rooms, on arriving at
Missiri's, Macaulay had gone off with his father, and Paul had been left
alone for a few minutes in the sitting-room. When all was quiet,
Hermione opened her door softly and looked in. Paul was standing by the
chimney-piece, contemplating the smouldering logs with the interest of a
man who has nothing to do. He raised his head suddenly, and saw that
Hermione had entered the room and was standing near him. She had taken
off her traveling-hat, and her golden hair was in some disorder, but the
tangled coils and waves of it only showed more perfectly how beautiful
she was. She came forward, and he, too, left his place. She took his
hands rather timidly in hers.

"Paul--I never meant that you should go!" she exclaimed, while the tears
stood in her eyes. "Why did you take me so literally at my word?"

"It was better, darling," said he, drawing her nearer to him. "You were
quite right. I could not bear the idea of any one being free to speak to
me as your aunt did; but I was very unhappy. How could I know that you
were coming here so soon?"

"I did not know," she said simply. "But I was very unhappy, too, and the
days seemed so long. I could worship my brother for bringing it about."

"So could I," answered Paul, rather absently. He was looking down into
her eyes that met his so trustfully. "Do you really and truly believe in
me, Hermione?" he asked.

"Indeed I do; I always did!" she cried passionately. Then he kissed her
very tenderly, and held her in his arms.

"Thank you,--thank you, my darling," he murmured in her ear.

Presently they stood by the chimney-piece, still holding each other's
hands.

"I must speak to your father," he said. "You know his way. He wrote all
about it to Griggs, telling him to show me the letter."

"I could not keep the secret to myself any longer," she answered. "And I
knew that papa loved me and liked you."

"Yes, dear, you were quite right," said Paul. "But I did not mean to
tell him, after what happened that evening, until I had found my
brother. Do you know? I have almost found him. I hope to reach the end
in a day or two."

"Oh, Paul! that is splendid!" cried Hermione. "I knew you would. You
must tell me all about it."

There was a sound of footsteps in one of the rooms. Hermione slipped
quickly away, and throwing a kiss towards Paul with her fingers,
disappeared through the door by which she had entered, leaving him once
more alone. The moments of their meeting had been few and short, but
they had more than sufficed to show that these two loved each other as
much as ever. Some time afterwards Paul had been alone with his mother
for half an hour and had frankly asked her whether she was able to hear
him speak of Alexander or not. Her face twitched nervously, but she
answered calmly enough that she wished to hear all he had to tell. But
when he had finished she shook her head sadly.

"You may find out how he died, but you will never find him," she said.
Then, with a sudden energy which startled Paul, she gazed straight into
his eyes. "You know that you cannot," she added, almost savagely.

"I do not know, mother," he answered, calmly. "I still have hope."

Madame Patoff looked down, and seemed to regain her self-control almost
immediately. The long habit of concealing her feelings, which she had
acquired when deceiving Professor Cutter, stood her in good stead, and
she had not forgotten what she had studied so carefully. But Paul had
seen the angry glance of her eyes, and the excited tone of her voice
still rang in his ears. He guessed that, although she had come to
Constantinople with the full intention of forgetting the accusations she
had once uttered, the mere sight of him was enough to bring back all her
virulent hatred. She still believed that he had killed his brother. That
was clear from her words, and from the tone in which they were spoken.
Whether the thought was a delusion, or whether she sanely believed Paul
to be a murderer, made little difference. Her mind was evidently still
under the influence of the idea. But Paul determined that he would hold
his peace, and it was not until later, when all necessity for
concealment was removed, that I learned what had passed. Paul believed
that in a few days he should certainly solve the mystery of Alexander's
disappearance, and thus effectually root out his mother's suspicions.

All this had occurred before dinner, and without my knowledge. Madame
Patoff seemed determined to be agreeable and to make everything go
smoothly. Even Chrysophrasia relaxed a little, as we talked of the city
and of what the party must see.

"I am afraid," said I, "that you do not find all this as Oriental as you
expected, Miss Dabstreak."

"Ah, no!" she sighed. "If by 'this' you mean the hotel, it is European,
and unpleasantly so at that."

"I think it is a very good hotel; and this rice--what do you call
it?--is very good, too," said John Carvel, who was tasting pilaff for
the first time.

"Your carnal love of food always shocks me, John," murmured
Chrysophrasia. "But I dare say there is a good deal that is Oriental on
the other side. There, I am sure, we should be sitting on very precious
carpets, and eating sweetmeats with golden spoons, while some fair young
Circassian slave sang wild melodies and played upon a rare old inlaid
lute."

"Yes," I answered. "I have dined with Turks in Stamboul."

"Oh, do describe it!" exclaimed Miss Dabstreak.

"We squatted on the floor around a tiny table, and we devoured ragouts
of mutton and onions with our fingers," I said.

"How very disgusting!" Miss Dabstreak made an unæsthetic grimace, and
looked at me with profound contempt.

"But I suppose they eat other things, Griggs?" asked John, laughing.

"Yes. But mutton and onions and pilaff are the staple of their
consumption. They eat jams of all sorts. Sometimes soup is brought in in
a huge bowl, and put down in the middle of the table. Then each one dips
in his spoon in the order of precedence, and eats as much as he can.
They will give you a dozen courses in half an hour, and they never speak
at their meals if they can help it."

"Pigs!" exclaimed Chrysophrasia, whose delicacy did not always assert
itself in her selection of epithets.

"No; I assure you," I objected, "they are nothing of the kind. They
consider it cleaner to eat with their fingers, which they can wash
themselves, than with forks, which are washed in a common bath of
soapsuds by the grimy hands of a scullery maid. It is not so
unreasonable."

"You have such a terrible way of putting things, Mr. Griggs!" exclaimed
Mrs. Carvel in a tone of gentle protest. "But I dare say," she added, as
though fearing lest her mild rebuke should have hurt my feelings,--"I
dare say you are quite right."

"To tell the truth," I answered, "I am rather fond of the Turks."

"I have always noticed," remarked Madame Patoff, "that you Americans
generally admire people who live under a despotic government. Americans
all like Russia and Russians."

"Our government is not quite despotic," observed Paul, who felt bound to
defend his country. "We have laws, and the laws are respected. The Czar
would not think of acting against the established law, even though in
theory he might."

"The Turks must have laws, too," objected Madame Patoff.

"I don't know," said Chrysophrasia. "I already feel a delicious
sensation, as though I might be strangled with a bow-string at any
moment and dropped into the Bosphorus."

John Carvel looked very grave. Perhaps he was offering up a silent
prayer to the end that such a consummation might soon be reached; but
more probably he considered the topic of sudden death by violence as one
to be avoided. Macaulay Carvel came to the rescue.

"The Turks have laws," he said, fluently. "All their law is founded upon
the Koran, and they are most ingenious in making the Koran answer the
purpose of our more learned and therefore more efficacious codes. The
Supreme Court really exists in the person of the Sheik ul Islam, who may
be called the High Pontiff, a sort of Pontifex Maximus with judicial
powers. All important cases are ultimately referred to him, and as most
of these important cases are connected with the Vakuf, the real estate
held by the mosques, like our glebe lands at home, it follows that the
Sheik ul Islam generally decides in favor of his own class, who are the
Ulema, or priests. The consequences of this mode of administering the
laws are very"----

"Capital!" exclaimed John Carvel. "Where on earth did you learn all
that, my boy?"

"I began to coach the East when I saw there was a chance of my coming
here," answered Macaulay, much pleased at his father's acknowledgment of
his learning. It struck me that the young man had got his information
out of some rather antiquated book, in which no mention was made of the
present division of the civil and criminal courts under the Ministry of
Justice, and of the ecclesiastical courts under the Sheik ul Islam. But
I held my peace, being grateful to Macaulay for delivering his lecture
at the right moment. Mrs. Carvel looked with undisguised admiration at
her son, and even Hermione smiled and felt proud of her brother.

"Wonderful, this modern education, is it not?" said John Carvel, turning
to me.

"Amazing," I replied.

"I want to see all those delightful creatures, you know," said
Chrysophrasia. "The Sultan and the Sheik--what do you call him?"

"Sheik ul Islam," said the ready Macaulay.

"Sheik Ool is lamb!" repeated Chrysophrasia, thoughtfully. "Lamb,--so
symbolical in our own very symbolic religion. It means so much, you
know."

"Chrysophrasia!" ejaculated Mary Carvel, in a tone of gentle reproach.
She thought she detected the far-off shadow of a possible irreverence in
her sister's tone. Macaulay again interposed, while Paul and I
endeavored to avoid each other's eyes, lest we should be overtaken by an
explosion of laughter.

"It is '_Is_lam,' not 'is _lamb_,' aunt Chrysophrasia," said Macaulay,
mildly.

"I don't see much difference," retorted Miss Dabstreak, "except that you
say it _is_ lamb, and I say it is _lamb_. Oh! you mean it is one
word,--yes; I dare say," she added quickly, in some confusion. "Of
course, I don't speak Turkish."

"It is Arabic," observed the implacable Macaulay.

"John," said Chrysophrasia, ignoring the correction with a fine
indifference, "we must see everything at once. When shall we begin?"

The question effectually turned the conversation, for all the party were
anxious to see what Macaulay was equally anxious to show, having himself
only seen each sight once. The remainder of the time while we sat at
table was occupied in discussing the various expeditions which the party
must undertake in order to see the city and its surroundings
systematically. After dinner John and I remained behind for a while.
Paul wanted to talk to Hermione, and Macaulay, who was the most domestic
of young men, preferred the society of his mother and aunts, whom he had
not seen for several months, to the smell of cigars and Turkish coffee.

"What do you think of her?" asked John Carvel when we were alone. "She
seems perfectly sane, does she not?"

"Perfectly. What proves it best is the way she treats Paul. She is very
affectionate. I suppose there is no fear of a relapse?"

"I hope not, I hope not!" repeated John fervently. "She has behaved
admirably during the journey. Now, about Paul," he continued, lowering
his voice a little: "how does he strike you since you have known him
better? You have seen him every day for some time. What sort of a fellow
is he?"

"I think he is very much in earnest," I answered.

"Yes, yes,--no doubt. But you know what I mean, Griggs: is he the kind
of man to whom I can give my daughter? That is what I am thinking of. I
know that he works hard and will succeed, and all that."

"I can tell you what I think," said I, "but you must form your own
judgment as well. I like Paul very much, but you must like him too,
before you decide. In my opinion he is a man of fine character,
scrupulously honest, and not at all capricious. I cannot say more."

"A little wild when he was younger?" suggested John.

"Not very, I am sure. He was unhappy in his childhood; he was one of
those boys who make up their minds to work, and who grow so fond of it
that they go on working when other boys begin to play."

"Very odd," observed John. "He is not at all a prig."

"No, indeed. He is as manly a fellow as you could meet, and at first
sight he does not produce the impression of being so serious as he is. I
think that is put on. He once told me that he had made a study of small
talk and of the art of appearing well, because he thinks it so important
in his career. I dare say he is right. He knows a great deal, and knows
it thoroughly."

"He does not know any more than Macaulay," said John, as though in
praising Paul I had attacked his son. "What a clever fellow he is! I
only wish he were a little tougher,--just a little more shell to him, I
mean."

"He will get that," I answered. "He is younger than Paul, and has not
seen so much of the world."

"You say you like Paul. Do you think he would make a good husband?"

"Yes, I really believe he would," I replied. "But do not take him on my
recommendation. You must know him better yourself. You will meet many
people here who know him, and some who know him well."

"What do you think of that story about his brother?" asked John, looking
at me very earnestly.

"I believe he is as innocent as you or I. But we are getting near the
truth, and have made some valuable discoveries."

I explained to Carvel what we had found, and without mentioning the name
of Laleli Khanum I told him how far we had traced the mystery, and he
listened with profound interest to my account.

"I hope you may find him alive," he said, as we rose from the table.
"For my part, I do not believe we shall ever see him. Paul was alone
with his mother this afternoon, and I dare say he told her what you have
told me. She does not seem to object to the subject, though of course we
generally avoid it."

I stayed an hour longer with the party, during which time Paul talked a
great deal to Hermione, occasionally joining in the general
conversation, and certainly not trying to prevent what he said to the
young girl from being heard. At last I took my leave and went home, for
I was anxious to see Gregorios, and to hear from him what plan he
proposed to adopt for the solution of our difficulties at this critical
moment. I found him waiting for me.

"Have you made up your mind?" I asked.

Balsamides was sitting beside his table with a book. He looked even
paler than usual, and was evidently more excited than he liked to own.
He is eminently a man who loves danger, and his nature never warms so
genially as when something desperate is to be done. A Christian by race
and belief, he has absorbed much of the fatalism of the Oriental races,
and his courage is of the fatalist kind, reckless and devoted.

"Yes," he answered. "I have made up my mind. One must either be the
camel or the camel-driver. One must either submit to the course of
events, or do something to violently change their direction. If we
submit much longer, we shall lose the game. The old woman will die,--the
Turkish women always die when they are ill; and if she is once dead
without confessing, we may give up all hope."

"We should always have Selim to examine," I remarked.

"If Laleli Khanum dies, Selim will disappear the same hour,--laying
hands on everything within reach, of course. How could we catch him? He
would cross the Bosphorus, put on a disguise of some sort, and make his
way to Egypt in no time. Those fellows are very cunning."

"Then you mean to try and extort a confession from Laleli herself? How
in the world do you mean to do it? It is a case of life or death."

"I have got life and death in my pocket," answered Gregorios, his eyes
beginning to sparkle. "Can you read Turkish? Of course you can. Read
that."

I took the folded document and examined it.

"This is an Iradè!" I exclaimed, in great surprise; "an imperial order
to arrest Laleli Khanum Effendi,--good heavens! Balsamides, I had no
idea that you possessed such tools as this!"

"To tell you how I got it would be to tell you my own history during the
last ten years," he answered, in low tones. "I trust you, Griggs, but
there are other reasons why I cannot tell you all that. You see the
result, at all events, and a result very dearly paid for," he added
gravely. "But I have got the thing, and what is more, I have permission
to personate the Sultan's private physician."

"What is that for? I should think the Iradè were quite enough."

"Laleli might die of fright, if I merely presented myself and threatened
to arrest her. But I shall see her in the assumed character of the court
physician. Laleli is a Turkish woman, who understands no other language
but her own and Greek. She is very superstitious, and believes in all
manner of charms and spells; for she has no ideas at all concerning
Western science, except that it is all contrary to the Koran. I can talk
the jargon of an old Hadji well enough, and besides I know something of
medicine; very little, but enough to tell me whether she is absolutely
in a dying state. It is a great compliment for the Sultan to send his
private physician, and if she is in a conscious state she will be
flattered and thrown off her guard. If I can manage to get her slaves
out of the way, I may induce her to confess. If I fail in this, I have
the means to frighten her. If she dies, I have the means of arresting
Selim before he can escape. It is all very well arranged, and there is
nothing to be done but to put the plan into execution. When you left me
I had not got the Iradè; it came about an hour ago."

"How can I help you?" I asked.

"You must have a disguise, too. When the court physician is sent to
visit a person of consequence, he is always accompanied by an adjutant
from the palace. You must play this part. I have borrowed a uniform from
a brother officer which will fit you. It is in your room, and I will
help you to put it on. You need say nothing, nor answer any questions
the slaves may put to you unless you are quite sure of your words. You
have a very military figure, and the sight of a uniform acts like magic
on fellows like the Lala and his companions. As I am an adjutant myself,
I can tell you exactly what to do, so that no one could detect you. Are
you willing to try?"

"Of course," I said, rising and going towards my room. "How are we to go
to Yeni Köj?"

"A carriage from the palace will be at the door in half an hour,"
answered Gregorios, looking at his watch. "Now, then, we must turn you
into a Turkish officer," he added, with a laugh.

In ten minutes the change was complete, and I do not believe that my
best friend would have recognized me in the close-fitting dress, cut
like that of a Prussian dragoon's parade uniform, but made of dark cloth
with red facings. I buckled on the sabre, and Gregorios set the fez
carefully on my head. I looked at myself in the glass. The costume
fitted as though it were made for me.

"I feel as though I were going to a masked ball," I said, laughing. "I
never was so disguised before in my life."

"I hope you may feel so when you come home," answered Balsamides, with a
smile. "Now you must take some of your own clothes in a bag. We may not
get home before morning, and we might meet some one of the adjutants
when we come back. They would know that you are not one of us, and there
might be trouble. We must take some money, too. We may need to hire a
boat or horses; one can never tell."

Balsamides stood a moment and looked at me, apparently well satisfied
with my appearance. Then he opened the window to see whether the
carriage was below, but it had not yet come.

"While we are waiting, I will explain our plan of action," he said, as
he opened his writing-desk and took a small roll of gold pieces and a
handful of silver. "We shall be driven to the door of the house, and
when we knock, Selim or some other Lala, if there are others, will open
the door. He will see you and recognize your uniform, as well as the
livery of the palace carriage. He will salute us, and you must of course
return the salutation. I will then explain that I am the court
physician, and that his majesty, having just heard of the Khanum
Effendi's illness, has sent me down to attend her. Selim will salute us
again, and show us into the house. You will be left in the _salamlek_,
the lower hall, and I shall be shown into the harem, after a few minutes
have elapsed to give time for preparation. Then you will have to wait,
but you will probably not be disturbed, unless a slave brings you
coffee and cigarettes. Selim will probably remain in the harem all the
time I am there. But if you hear anything like a scuffle, you must come
when you recognize my voice. This will not occur unless Selim hears
something which frightens him, and tries to get away. Of course you are
supposed to be present for my protection, and you must affect a certain
deference towards me."

"I will be humility itself," I answered.

"No, not too much humility. A mere show of respect for my position will
do. We adjutants about the palace are not much given to self-abasement
of any sort. There is one catastrophe which may occur. If the old woman
is really dying, as they say she is, she may die while we are there. We
must then take possession of the person of Selim and carry him off.
There will not be much trouble about that. The house is in a lonely
place, and the driver of the carriage knows his orders. He will obey
instantly, no matter what I tell him to do."

"And if we should, by any chance, find Alexander in the house," I asked,
"shall we be able to get him out without trouble?"

"Not without trouble," answered Gregorios, with a grim smile. "But we
will not stick at trifles so long as we have the imperial Iradè with us.
I hear the carriage. Let us be off."

So we left the house on our errand without further words.



XV.


Paul stayed at the hotel until a late hour, and went home, feeling
lighter at heart than he had felt for many days. He was in love, and the
passion had a very salutary effect upon his nature. His heart had been
crushed down when he was a child, until he doubted whether he had any
heart at all. His early sufferings had hardened his nature, and his cool
strong mind had approved the process, so that he was well satisfied with
his solitary condition and his loveless life. He had seen much of the
world, and had known many women of all nations, but his immovable
indifference was proverbial among his colleagues, and if he had ever
entertained a passing fancy for any one, the fact was unknown to gossip.
It might be supposed that this very coldness would have rendered him
attractive to women, for it is commonly said, and with some truth, that
they are sometimes drawn to those men who show them no manner of
attention. But I think that the case is not always the same, and admits
of very subtle distinctions. It is not a man's coldness that attracts a
woman, but the belief that, though he is cold to others, he may soften
towards herself; and this belief often rests on mere vanity, and often
on the truth of the supposition. There are many men who systematically
affect outward indifference in order to make themselves interesting in
the eyes of the other sex, allowing a word, a look, a gesture, to betray
at stated intervals that they are not indifferent to the one woman
whose love they covet. They give these signs with the utmost skill and
with a strange, calculating avarice. Women watch such men jealously from
a distance, to see if they can detect the slightest softening of manner
towards other women; and when they have convinced themselves that they
alone have the power to influence the frozen nature they admire, they
very easily fall wholly in love. In general a man who is very cold and
indifferent is not to be trusted. The chances are ten to one that he is
playing the old and time-honored part for a definite purpose.

But there are those who play no part, nor need to affect any
characteristic not theirs. When women find out that a man is really
indifferent to all women, their disgust knows no bounds. So long as he
is known to have loved any one in the past, or to love any one in the
present, or to be even likely to love any one in the future, he may be
pardoned. But if it is firmly believed that he is incapable of love,
woman-kind arises in a body and abuses him in unmeasured terms. He is
selfish. He is arrogant. He is so conceited that he thinks no one good
enough for him. He is a stone, a prig, a hypocrite, a maniac, a monster,
a statue, and especially he is a bore. In other words, he is a man's
man, and not a woman's man; and unless it can be proved that his madness
proceeds from disappointed love, even Dives in hell is not further
removed from forgiveness than he. Men may admire his strength, his
talents, his perseverance, and some friend will be found foolish enough
to sing his praises to some woman of the world. She will answer the
panegyrist with a blank stare, and will very likely say coldly, that he
is a bore, or that he is very rude. No amount of praise or ingenious
argument will extort an admission that the unfortunate man is worthy of
human sympathy. And yet, he may be very human, after all. At all events,
if we say with the Greek philosopher that a man shall not be called
happy until he be dead, we should not allow that he is beyond the reach
of love until the life has gone out of him, certainly not until he is
sixty years of age at the very least.

Now Paul Patoff was not sixty years old when he found himself in the
quiet English country house, and looked on his fair English cousin and
loved her. He was, as the times go, a young man, just entered upon the
prime of his life, just past the age when youth is considered foolish,
and just reaching the time when it is considered desirable. The fact
that he had not loved before was not likely to make his passion less
strong now that it had come at last, and he knew it, as men generally
understand themselves better when they are in love with a good woman. He
asked himself, indeed, why he had so suddenly given himself up, heart
and soul, to the lovely girl he had known only for a month; but such
questions are necessarily futile, because the heart does not always go
through the formality of asking the mind's consent before acting, and
the mind consequently refuses to be called to account in a matter for
which it is in no way responsible. It seemed to Paul very strange that
after so many years of a busy life, in which no passion but ambition had
played any part, he should all at once find his whole existence involved
in a new and un-dreamed-of labyrinth of feeling. But though it was
indeed a labyrinth, from which he did not even desire to escape, he
acknowledged that the paths of it were full of roses, and that life in
its winding walks was pleasanter than life outside.

The uncertainty of his position, however, disturbed his dreams, and even
the pleasant hours he spent with Hermione, listening to her rippling
laughter and gentle voice, were somewhat disturbed by the thought of the
morrow, and of what the end would be. His own instinct would have led
him to speak to Carvel at once and to have the matter settled, but
another set of ideas argued that he should wait and see what happened,
and if possible put off asking the fatal question until he had
unraveled the mystery of his brother's disappearance. That Carvel could
have believed him in any way implicated in the tragedy, and yet have
asked him to his house, he knew to be impossible; but he knew also that
the shadow of Alexander's fate hung over him, and now that there existed
a chance of completely and brilliantly establishing his innocence before
the world, he was unwilling to take so serious a step as formally
proposing for Hermione's hand, until the long desired result should be
reached. He had deeply felt the truth of what she had said to him in
England,--that he should be able to silence hints like those
Chrysophrasia had let fall, that he should place himself in such a
position as to defy insults instead of being obliged to bear them
quietly; and the conviction brought home to him by Hermione's words had
resulted in his immediate departure, with the determination to fathom
the mystery, and to clear himself forever, or to sacrifice his love in
case of failure.

But he had not counted upon the visit of the Carvels to Constantinople.
So long as he could not see Hermione, he had felt that it was possible
to contemplate with some calmness the prospect of giving her up if he
failed in his search. When Carvel had proposed to come out and had asked
my advice, we had fancied ourselves on the verge of the final discovery,
and with natural and pardonable enthusiasm Paul had joined me in urging
John to bring his family at once. He had felt sure that the end was
near, and he had wished that Hermione might arrive at the moment of his
triumph. It would not be a complete triumph, he thought, unless she were
there, and this idea showed how the man had changed under the influence
of his love. In former times Paul Patoff would never have thought of
anticipating success until he held it securely in his own hands; he
would have worked silently, giving no sign, and when the result was
obtained he would have presented it to the world with his coldest and
most sarcastic stare, content in the thought that he had satisfied
himself, and demanding no appreciation from others. To feel that he had
succeeded was then the most delicious part of success. Now, he was so
changed that he could not imagine success as being at all worth having
unless Hermione were there to share it. No one else would do, and
something of his exclusiveness might still be found in his desire for
her sympathy, and for that of no one else. But the transformation was
very great, and as he had realized it, he had understood the extent of
his love for his cousin. The sensation was wholly novel, and he again
asked himself what it meant, half doubting its reality, but never
doubting that it would last forever,--in the highly contradictory spirit
of a man who is in love for the first time.

Then Hermione arrived, and Paul awoke to find himself between two fires.
To contemplate the possibility of not marrying Hermione, when she was in
the same city, when he must see her and hear her voice every day of his
life, was now out of the question. His love had grown ten times stronger
in the separation of the last months, and he knew that it was now
useless to think of putting it away. With a modesty not found in men who
have loved many women, Paul discarded the idea that Hermione's happiness
was as deeply concerned as his own. He did not understand how very much
she loved him, and it would have seemed to his softened soul an
outrageous piece of arrogance to suppose that she could not be quite as
happy with some one else as with himself. But of his own feelings he had
no doubt. It was perfectly clear that without Hermione life could never
be worth living, and he found himself face to face with a most difficult
question,--a true dilemma, from which there could be no issue unless he
found his brother, or the evidences of his brother's death.

If the search proved fruitless, he was still in the position of a man
who is liable to suspicion, and he had firmly resolved that he would not
permit the woman he loved to marry a man who could be accused, however
unjustly, of the crime of murder. On the other hand, he knew that while
she was present in Constantinople he was not master of his feelings,
hardly of his words; and he could not go away: first, because to go away
would be to leave the search wholly in the hands of others; and
secondly, because his presence was required at the embassy and his
services were constantly in requisition. To abandon his career was a
course he never contemplated for a moment. His personal resources were
small, and his pay was now considerable, so that he depended upon it for
the necessities of life. He had never been willing to touch his
brother's money, either, and this honorable refusal had practically
crushed all gossip about Alexander's disappearance; so that at the
present time he was dependent upon himself. With the prospect of being a
_chargé d'affaires_ in a short time, and of being chancellor of an
embassy at forty, he believed that he could fairly propose to marry
Hermione. But to do this he must abide by his career, a conclusion which
effectually prevented his flying from danger and giving the inquiry
entirely into my hands. With a keen sense of honor and a very strong
determination on the one side, and all the force of his love for
Hermione on the other, Paul's position was not an easy one, and he knew
it.

Nor was his mind wholly at rest concerning his mother. He had seen her
that afternoon, and had recognized that in the ordinary sense of the
word, and in the common opinion of people on the subject, she was
perfectly sane. She looked, moved, talked, ate, and dressed as though
she were wholly in her right mind; but Paul was not satisfied. He had
seen the old gleam of unreasoning anger in her eyes, when she had said
that he knew Alexander could never be found; meaning, as Paul supposed,
that he knew how the unfortunate man had come to his end. That this
belief had been the cause and first beginning of her madness, he was
convinced; and if the disturbing element was still present in her mind,
it might assert itself again at any moment with direful results. He was
willing, for the sake of argument, to believe that her idea was a
delusion, and indeed he preferred to think so. He did not like the
thought that his mother could seriously and sanely believe him to be a
murderer, though she had given him reason enough for knowing how she had
always disliked him. There was no affection between the mother and the
son, there was not even much respect; but beyond respect and affection
we recognize in the relations of a mother with her children a sort of
universal law of fitness, embracing the few conditions without which
there can be no relations at all between them. That a mother should
dislike her child offends our feelings and our conceptions of human
sympathy; but that a mother should wantonly and without evidence accuse
her son of a fearful crime, and be his only accuser, is a sin against
humanity itself, and our reason revolts against it as much as our heart.

It was hopeless to attempt an explanation of Madame Patoff's state of
mind. Paul might have understood her better had he known how she talked
and behaved when he was not present. John Carvel and his wife had indeed
assured Paul that his mother was entirely sane, and had forgotten her
resentment against him, speaking of him affectionately, and showing
herself anxious to see him during the long journey. But there was one of
the party who could have told a different story; who could have repeated
some of her aunt's utterances, and could have described certain phases
in her temper in such a way as would have surprised the rest. Madame
Patoff had naturally chosen to confide in Hermione, for Hermione had
first startled her into a confession of her sanity, and with her rested
the secret of the last two years. On the occasion which Carvel had
mentioned in his letter to me, when Madame Patoff had been surprised in
a sensible conversation by her nurse, the old lady had shown very great
presence of mind. She had recognized immediately that she was detected,
and that she would find it extremely difficult in future to deceive the
practiced eye of the vigilant Mrs. North. She was tired, too, in spite
of what she said to Hermione, of the absolute seclusion in which she
lived; not that she was wearied of mourning for Alexander, but because
she had exhausted one way of expressing her grief. So, at least, it
seemed to Hermione. Madame Patoff had therefore accepted the situation
and made the best of it, declaring herself sane and entirely recovered.
She had always contemplated the possibility of some such termination to
her pretended madness, and was perhaps glad that it had come at last.
She even found at first a pleasant relaxation in leading the life of an
ordinary person, and she tried to join in the life of the family in such
a way as to be no longer a burden or a source of anxiety to those she
had capriciously sacrificed during a year and a half. But with Hermione
she was not the same as with the rest. She was with her what she had
been on the first day when Hermione had declared her love for Paul, and
it appeared to the young girl that her aunt was in reality leading a
double existence, being in one state when with the assembled family, and
in quite another when she was alone with Hermione.

Madame Patoff was able to force herself upon her niece, for the young
girl had given a promise not to betray her secret, and though often in
hard straits to elude her father's questions without falling into
falsehood, felt herself bound to her aunt, and obliged to submit to long
conversations with her. It was a difficult position, and any one less
honest than Hermione and less sensitively tactful would have found it
hard to maintain the balance. She herself avoided carefully all mention
of Paul, but her aunt delighted in talking of him. One of these
conversations took place on the evening of their arrival in
Constantinople, and may well serve as a specimen of the rest. When all
the party had retired for the night, Madame Patoff came into Hermione's
room and sat down, evidently with the intention of staying at least an
hour. Hermione looked at her with a deprecating expression, being indeed
very tired, and wishing that her aunt would put off her visit until the
next day. She saw, however, that there was no hope of this, and
submitted herself with a good grace.

"Are you not tired, aunt Annie?" asked the young girl.

"No, no, not very, my dear," said the old lady, smoothing her thick gray
hair with her hand, and fixing her dark eyes on her niece's face. "Oh,
Hermy, what a meeting!" she suddenly exclaimed. "If you knew how hard I
tried to be kind to him, I am sure you would pity me. It is so hard, so
hard!"

"It is the least you can do,--to treat him kindly," answered Hermione,
somewhat coldly. "But I was very glad to see that you kissed him when we
arrived."

"It was dreadfully hard to do it. The very sight of him freezes my
blood. Oh, Hermy dear, how can you love him so much, when I love you as
I do? It frightens me"----

"It does not frighten me, aunt Annie," said her niece. "I can say, when
you love me as you do, how can you not love him?"

"It is not the same, my dear. How could I love him, knowing what I
know?"

"You do not know it," answered Hermione very firmly, "and you must not
suggest it to me. Sometimes I could almost think you were really mad,
aunt Annie,--forgive me, I must say it. Not mad as you pretended to be,
but mad on this one point. You have always hated poor Paul since he was
a child, and you have treated him very unkindly. But you have no right
to accuse him now, and I would not listen to you unless I believed that
I could help to make you see him as you should."

Madame Patoff bent her head and hid her eyes in her hand, as though
greatly distressed.

"I love you so much, dear Hermy--I cannot bear to think of your marrying
him. You cannot understand me--I know--and you think me very unkind. But
I hate him!" she cried, with a burst of uncontrollable anger. "Oh, how I
hate him!"

Her hands had dropped from her face, and her dark eyes flashed wickedly
as she stared at the young girl. Hermione was startled for a moment, but
she also had learned a lesson of self-possession.

"Do you think that I am afraid when you look at me like that, aunt
Annie?" she asked, very quietly.

Madame Patoff's features relaxed, and she laughed a little foolishly, as
though ashamed of herself.

"No, child; why should you be afraid? I am only an unhappy old woman. I
cannot speak to any one else."

"And you must not speak to me in that way," answered Hermione, in a
gentle tone. "I love Paul with all my heart, and I cannot hear him
abused by you, even though I know you are out of your mind when you say
such things. I should be despicable if I listened to you."

"If I loved you less, dear," returned the old lady, "I might hate him
less. Ah, if you could only have married Alexis,--if it could only have
been the other way!"

"Hush!" exclaimed Hermione, almost roughly. "You are wishing that Paul
were dead, instead of his brother. I will go away, if you talk like
that."

She suited the action to the word, and rose to go towards the door. She
knew her aunt very well. Madame Patoff changed her tone at once.

"Oh, don't go away, don't go away!" she cried nervously. "I will never
speak of him again, if you will only stay with me."

Hermione turned and came back, and saw that her threat had for the
present produced its effect, as it usually did. Madame Patoff had
indeed a strange affection for her niece, and the latter knew how to
manage her by means of it. At the mere idea of Hermione's leaving her in
anger, the aunt softened and became docile.

"I did not mean it, child," she said, dolefully. "I am always so
unhappy, so dreadfully wretched, that I say things I do not altogether
mean. I am not quite myself to-night, either. Coming here, to the place
where my poor boy was lost, has upset my nerves; and, really, your aunt
Chrysophrasia is so very tactless. She always was like that. I remember
the way in which she treated my poor husband before we were married. It
was she who made all the quarrel, you know. It broke up my life at the
very beginning, and we two sisters never saw each other again. I do not
know what would have become of me if my husband had not loved me as he
did. He was so kind to me, always, and he sympathized in all my feelings
and ideas. If he had only lived, how different it might all have been!"

Hermione thought so, too; reflecting that if Paul's father had been
alive during the time when he was growing up, the unfortunate boy would
have been spared a vast deal of suffering, and Madame Patoff would
perhaps have been held in check. Her character was not of the kind which
could safely be left to its own development, for she called her caprices
justice and her obstinacy principle, a mode of viewing life not
conducive to much permanent satisfaction when not modified by the
salutary restraint of a more sensible companion. But Hermione was glad
that her aunt was willing to talk of anything except Paul, and
encouraged her to continue, though she had heard again and again Madame
Patoff's account of her own life and of the family quarrels. By
carefully listening and watching her, it was possible to keep her from
reaching the point at which Hermione was always obliged to protest that
she would not hear more.

It may be judged from this scene that the young girl's position was not
an easy one. She was beginning to feel that Madame Patoff's hatred for
Paul approached in reality much nearer to insanity than the affected
apathy she had assumed before Hermione discovered the imposition; but,
nevertheless, the young girl felt that, sane or not sane, she could
allow no one to cast a slur on the name of the man she loved. She was
glad, indeed, that Madame Patoff did not make her hatred and her
suspicion topics for conversation with the rest of the family, and she
was willing to suffer much in order that her aunt might confide in her
alone, and behave herself with propriety and dignity before the others.
But when Madame Patoff overstepped the limits Hermione had set for her,
the old lady invariably found herself checked and even frightened by the
authoritative manner of her niece. The anxiety, however, and the
constant annoyance to which she was subjected, together with the sorrow
of the separation from Paul, had told upon the girl's strength, and it
was no wonder that she had grown thinner during the last months. Her
young character was forming itself under terrible difficulties, and it
was well that she inherited more of her father's good sense and courage
than of her mother's meekness and gentleness under all circumstances.
Hermione looked back and tried to remember what she had been six months
ago, but she hardly recognized herself in the picture called up by her
memories. She thought of her ignorance about her aunt's state, and of
how she had sometimes felt sad and sorry for the old lady, but had on
the whole not found that her presence in the house materially changed
her own smooth life. She looked further back, and remembered as in a
dream her first London season. She had not enjoyed herself; she had been
oppressed rather than delighted by the crowds, the lights, the whirl of
a life she could not understand, the terrors of presentation, the men
suddenly brought up to her, who bowed and immediately whirled her away
amongst a crowd of young people, all spinning madly round, and knowing
each other probably as little as she knew her partner of the moment. It
had all been strange to her, and she realized with pleasure that she
should not be obliged to go through it again this year. Her mother was
not a worldly woman, and had not inspired her, while still in the
schoolroom, with a mad desire for the world. Hermione was an only
daughter, and there was no reason for hastening her marriage; nor had
she ever been told, as many young girls are, that she must marry well,
and if possible in her first season. She saw many men in the round of
parties to which she was taken, but she found it hard to remember the
names of even a few of them. They had been presented, had danced with
her, had perhaps danced with her again somewhere else, and had dropped
out of her existence without inspiring in her the smallest interest.
Now, after nearly a year, she would not have known their faces. Some had
talked to her, but their language was not hers; it was the jargon of
society, the petty gossip, the eternal chatter of people and people's
doings. Her answers were vague, and when she asked a question about a
book, about an idea, about a fact, the faultlessly correct young men
smiled sweetly, and answered that they did not understand that sort of
thing. Towards the end of the season, when the first surprise of
watching the moving crowds, the dancing, the women's gowns, and the
men's faces, had worn out, Hermione had regarded the whole thing as an
inexpressible bore, and had returned with delight to the quiet life at
Carvel Place, glad that her father's position and tastes did not lead
him to keep open house, as some of his neighbors did, and that she was
allowed to read and to be quiet, and to do everything she liked.

Then her real life had begun, and her character, untouched and unchanged
by what she had seen in a London season, had suddenly come under the
influence of another character, strong, dominant, and apparently good,
but in the eyes of the young girl eminently mysterious. She had known
Paul Patoff as one knows people in the midst of a small family party in
a country house, and he had at first repelled her, as he repelled many
people; but soon, very soon, she thought, the feeling of repulsion had
grown to be a curiosity to know the man's history, the secret of his
coldness towards his mother, and of his hard and cynical expression.
From such interest as she felt for him, it was but a step to love, and
the step was soon taken. The nearer she came to him, the more she felt
the power of his fascination, and the more she wondered that every one
else did not see it as she saw it, and yield to it as she yielded to it.
Then had come the afternoon in the park; the joy of those few hours; the
scene at dinner on the same evening; the revelation she had extracted
from Cutter; the discovery that her aunt was sane; her interview with
Paul, and his sudden departure, wounded by her speech;--all these events
following on each other in less than four-and-twenty hours. From that
day she knew that she had changed much, and she realized the strength of
her love for Paul. And on that day, also, had begun her annoyances with
Madame Patoff, her constant defense of the son against the accusations
of the mother, and her own fears lest she should be playing a double
part. She had suffered much by the separation from Paul; she suffered
more whenever her aunt fell into her passionate way of abusing him, and
she felt that her faculties were overstrained when she was in the
society of her strange relative. But Madame Patoff loved her, and her
affection was so evident to Hermione that she found it hard to cut her
speeches short with a sharp word, however painful it might be to her to
listen to them. Of late she had adopted the practice of treating her as
she did on the first night, assuming that her hatred was very nearly an
insanity in itself, and managing her almost like a child, threatening to
leave her when she said too much, and bringing her to her senses by
seeming to withdraw her affection. Indeed, there was something
exaggerated in Madame Patoff's love for the girl, as there appeared to
be in everything she really felt. With the other members of the
household she behaved with perfect self-possession, but when she was
alone with Hermione she laid aside all her assumed calm, and spoke
unreasonably about her son, as though it gave her pleasure; always
submitting, however, to the rebuke which Hermione invariably
administered on such occasions. But the idea that whenever she was alone
with her aunt something of the kind was sure to occur made Hermione
nervous, so that she avoided an interview whenever she could.



XVI.


If any of the party could have guessed what Gregorios Balsamides and I
were doing on that dark night, they would not have slept as soundly as
they did. It was an evil night, a night for a bad deed, I thought, as I
looked out of the carriage-window, when we were clear of the houses and
streets of Pera. The black clouds drove angrily down before the north
wind, seeming to tear themselves in pieces on the stars, as one might
tear a black veil upon steel nails. The wind swept the desolate country,
and made the panes of the windows rattle even more loudly than did the
hoofs and wheels upon the stony road. But the horses were strong, and
the driver was not a shivering Greek, but a sturdy Turk, who could laugh
at the wind as it whistled past his ears, striking full upon his broad
chest. He drove fast along the rising ground, and faster as he reached
the high bend which the road follows above the Bosphorus, winding in and
out among the hills till it descends at last to Therapia.

"The clouds look like the souls of the lost, to-night," said Balsamides,
drawing his fur coat closely around him. "One can imagine how Dante
conceived the idea of the scene in hell, when the souls stream down the
wind."

"You seem poetically inclined," I answered.

"Why not? We are out upon a romantic errand. Our lives are not often
romantic. We may as well make the best of it, as a beggar does when he
gets a bowl of rice."

"I should fancy you had led a very romantic life," said I, lighting a
cigarette in the dark, and leaning back against the cushions.

"That is what women always say when they want a man to make
confidences," laughed Balsamides. "No, I have not led a romantic life. I
pass most of my time sitting on my horse in the hot sun, or the driving
snow, preserving, or pretending to preserve, the life of his Majesty
from real or imaginary dangers. Or else I sit eight or nine hours a day
chatting and smoking with the other adjutants. It is not a healthy life.
It is certainly not romantic."

"Not as you describe it. But I judged from the ease with which you made
the preparations for this expedition that you had done things of the
sort before."

My friend laughed again, but turned the subject.

"I hope that when we meet your friends to-morrow morning, we may have
something to show for our night's work," he said. "Fancy what an
excitement there would be if we brought Alexander Patoff back with us!
Not that it is at all probable. We may bring back nothing but broken
bones."

"I do not think Selim will hurt us much," I answered. "He is not exactly
an athlete. I would risk a fight with him."

"I dare say. But there may be plenty of strong fellows about the
premises. There are the four caïdjs, the boatmen, to begin with. There
is a coachman and probably two grooms. Very likely there are half a
dozen big hamáls about."

"That makes thirteen," I said. "Six and a half to one, or four and a
third to one, if we count upon our own driver."

"You may count upon him," replied Gregorios. "He is an old soldier, and
as strong as a lion. In case of necessity he will call the watch from
Yeni Köj. There is a small detachment of infantry there. But we shall
not have to resort to such measures. I believe that I can make the
Khanum confess. If so, I can make her order Selim to give up Patoff, if
he is alive."

"And if he is dead?"

"It will be the worse for the Khanum and her people. She is not in good
odor at the palace. It would not take much to have her exiled to Arabia,
even though she be dying, as they say she is. That is the question. Let
me only find her alive, and I will answer for the rest."

"She might very well refuse to confess, I fancy," I remarked, surprised
at my friend's tone of conviction.

"I believe not," he said shortly. Then he remained silent for some time.

My nerves are good; but I did not like the business, though I knew it
was undertaken for a good purpose, and that if we were successful we
should be conferring great and lasting happiness upon more than one of
my friends. I had heard many queer stories of wild deeds in the East,
and in my own experience had been concerned in at least one strange and
unhappy story, which had ended in my losing sight forever of a man who
was very dear to me. I do not think that the fact of having been in
danger necessarily brings with it a liking for dangerous adventures,
though it undoubtedly makes a man more fit to encounter perils of all
kinds. Few men are absolutely careless of life, and those who are, do
not of necessity court death. It is one thing to say that one would
readily die at any moment; it is quite another to seek risks and to
incur them voluntarily. The brave man, as a general rule, does not feel
a thrill of pleasure until the struggle has actually begun; when he is
expecting it he is grave and cautious, lest it should come upon him
unawares. This, at least, I believe to be the character of the Northern
man, and I think it constitutes one of his elements of superiority.

Balsamides is an Oriental, and looks at things very differently. In his
belief death will come at its appointed time, whether a man stay at home
and nurse his safety, or whether he lead the front in battle. The
essence of fatalism is the conviction that death must come at a certain
time, no matter what a man is doing, nor how he may try to protect
himself. This is the reason why the fanatic Mussulman is absolutely
indifferent to danger. He firmly believes that if he is to die, death
will overtake him at the plow as surely as in storming an enemy's
battery. But he believes also that if he dies fighting against
unbelievers his place in Paradise will be far higher than if he dies
upon his farm, his ambrosial refreshment more abundant, and the
dark-eyed houris who will soothe his eternal repose more beautiful and
more numerous. The low-born hamál in the street will march up to the
mouth of the guns without so much as a cup of coffee to animate him,
with an absolute courage not found in men who have not his unswerving
faith. To him Paradise is an almost visible reality, and the attainment
of it depends only on his individual exertions. But what is most strange
is the fact that this indifference to death is contagious, so that
Christians who live among Turks unconsciously acquire much of the Moslem
belief in fate. The Albanians, who are chiefly Christians, are among the
bravest officers in the Turkish army, as they are amongst the most
faithfully devoted to the Sultan and to the interests of the Empire.

Balsamides was in a mood which differed widely from mine. As we
clattered over the rough road in the face of the north wind, I was
thinking of what was before us, anticipating trouble, and determining
within myself what I would do. If I were ready to meet danger, it was
from an inward conviction of necessity which clearly presented itself to
me, and I consequently made the best of it. But Balsamides grew merry as
we proceeded. His spirits rose at the mere thought of a fight, until I
almost fancied that he would provoke an unnecessary struggle rather than
forego the pleasure of dealing a few blows. It was a new phase of his
character, and I watched him, or rather listened to him, with interest.

"This is positively delightful," he said in a cheerful voice.

"What?" I inquired, with pardonable curiosity.

"What? In an hour or two we may have strangled the Lala, have forced the
old Khanum to confess her iniquities, kicked the retainers into the
Bosphorus, and be on our way back, with Alexander Patoff in this very
carriage! I cannot imagine a more delightful prospect."

"It is certainly a lively entertainment for a cold night," I replied.
"But if you expect me to murder anybody in cold blood, I warn you that I
will not do it."

"No; but they may show fight," he said. "A little scuffle would be such
a rest after leading this monotonous life. I should think you would be
more enthusiastic."

"I shall reserve my enthusiasm until the fight is over."

"Then it will be of no use to you. Where is the pleasure in talking
about things when they are past? The real pleasure is in action."

"Action is not necessarily bloodshed," said I. "Active exercise is
undoubtedly good for mind and body, but when you take it by strangling
your fellow-creatures"----

"Rubbish!" exclaimed Balsamides. "What is the life of one Lala more or
less in this world? Besides, he will not be killed unless he deserves
it."

"With your ideas about the delight of such amusements, you will be
likely to find that he deserves it. I do not think he would be very safe
in your keeping."

"No, perhaps not," he answered, with a light laugh. "If he objects to
letting me in, I shall take great pleasure in making short work of him.
I am rather sorry you have put on that uniform. Your appearance will
probably inspire so much respect that they will all act like sheep in a
thunderstorm,--huddle together, and bleat or squeal. It is some
consolation to think that unless I appeared with an adjutant they would
not believe that I came from the palace."

"It is a consolation to me to think that my presence may render it
unnecessary for you to strangle, crucify, burn alive, and drown the
whole population of Yeni Köj," I answered. "I dare say you have done
most of those things at one time or another."

"In insurrections, such as we occasionally have in Albania and Crete, it
is imperative sometimes to make an example. But I am not bloodthirsty."

"No; from your conversation I should take you for a lamb," said I.

"I am not bloodthirsty," continued Gregorios. "I should not care to kill
a man who was quite defenseless, or who was innocent. Indeed, I would
not do such a thing on any account."

"You amaze me," I observed.

"No. But I like fighting. I enter into the spirit of the thing. There is
really nothing more exhilarating,--I even believe it is healthy."

"For the survivors it is good exercise. Those who do not survive are, of
course, no longer in a condition to appreciate the fun."

"Exactly; the fun consists in surviving."

"One does not always survive," I objected.

"What is the difference?" exclaimed Balsamides, who probably shrugged
his shoulders, in his dark corner of the carriage. "A man can die only
once, and then it is all over."

"A man can also live only once," said I. "A living dog is better than a
dead lion."

"Very little," answered Balsamides, with a laugh. "I would rather have
been a living lion for ever so short a time, and be dead, than be a Pera
dog forever. The Preacher would have been nearer to the truth if he had
said that a living man is better than a dead man. But the Preacher was
an Oriental, and naturally had to use a simile to express his meaning."

Suddenly the carriage stopped in the road. Then, after a moment's pause,
we turned to the right, and began to descend a steep hill, slowly and
cautiously, for the night was very dark and the road bad.

"We are going down to Yeni Köj," said Balsamides. "In twenty minutes we
shall be there. I will get out of the carriage first. Remember that,
once there, you must not speak a word of any language but Turkish."

Slowly we crept down the hill, the wheels grinding in the drag, and
jolting heavily from time to time. There were trees by the
roadside,--indeed, we were on the outskirts of the Belgrade forest. The
bare boughs swayed and creaked in the bitter March wind, and as I peered
out through the window the night seemed more hideous than ever.

"By the by," said I, suddenly, "we have no names. What am I to call you,
if I have to speak to you?"

"Anything," said Balsamides. "She does not know the name of the court
physician, I suppose. However, you had better call me by his name. She
might know, after all. Call me Kalopithaki Bey. You are Mehemet Bey.
That is simple enough. Here we are coming to the house; be ready, they
will open the door if they recognize the palace carriage through the
lattice. Of course every one will be up if the old lady is dying, and it
is not much past twelve. The man has driven fast."

The wheels rattled over the pavement, and we drew up before the door of
Laleli's house. We both descended quickly, and Balsamides went up the
broad steps which led to the door and knocked. Some one opened almost
immediately, and a harsh voice--not Selim's--called out,--

"Who is there?"

"From the palace, by order of his Majesty," answered Balsamides,
promptly. I showed myself by his side, and, as he had predicted, the
effect produced by the adjutant's uniform was instantaneous. The man
made a low salute, which we hastily returned, and held the door wide
open for us to pass; closing it and bolting it, however, when we had
entered. I noticed that the bolts slid easily and noiselessly in their
sockets. The man was a sturdy and military Turk, I observed, with
grizzled mustaches and a face deeply marked with small-pox.

We entered a lofty vestibule, lighted by two hanging lamps. The floor
was matted, but there was no furniture of any description. At the
opposite end a high doorway was closed by a heavy curtain. A large
Turkish mangál, or brazier, stood in the middle of the wide hall. The
man turned to the right and led us into a smaller apartment, of which
the walls were ornamented with mirrors in gilt frames. A low divan,
covered with satin of the disagreeable color known as magenta,
surrounded the room on all sides. Two small tables, inlaid with
tortoise-shell and mother-of-pearl, stood side by side in the middle of
the apartment.

"Buyurun, be seated, Effendimlir," said the man, who then left the room.
A moment later we heard his harsh voice at some distance:--

"Selim, Selim! There are two Effendilir from Yildiz-Kiöshk in the
selamlek!"

We sat down to wait.

"The porter is a genuine Turk, and not a Circassian. A Circassian would
have said 'Effendilir,' without the 'm,' in the vocative when he spoke
to us, as he did when he used it in the nominative to Selim."

I reflected that Balsamides had good nerves if he could notice
grammatical niceties at such a moment.



XVII.


In a few moments Selim, the hideous Lala, entered the room, making the
usual salutation as he advanced. He must have recognized Balsamides at
once, for he started and stood still when he saw him, and seemed about
to speak. But my appearance probably prevented him from saying what was
on his lips, and he stood motionless before us. Balsamides assumed a
suave manner, and informed him that he was sent by his Majesty to afford
relief, if possible, to Laleli Khanum Effendi. His Majesty, said
Gregorios, was deeply grieved at hearing of the Khanum's illness, and
desired that every means should be employed to alleviate her sufferings.
He begged that Selim would at once inform the Khanum of the physician's
presence, as every moment might be of importance at such a juncture.

Selim could hardly have guessed the truth. He did not know the court
doctor by sight, and Balsamides played his part with consummate
coolness. The negro could never have imagined that a Frank and a
foreigner would dare to assume the uniform of one of the Sultan's
adjutants,--a uniform which he knew very well, and which he knew that he
must respect. He was terrified when he recognized in the Sultan's
medical adviser the man who had scattered the crowd in the bazaar, and
who had so startled him by his references to the ring, the box, and the
chain. He was frightened, but he knew he could not attempt to resist the
imperial order, and after a moment's hesitation he answered.

"The Khanum Effendi," he said, "is indeed very ill. It is past midnight,
and no one in the harem thinks of sleep. I will prepare the Khanum for
the Effendi's visit."

Thereupon he withdrew, and we were once more left alone. I confess that
my courage rose as I grew more confident of the excellence of my
disguise. If the Lala himself had no doubts concerning me, it was not
likely that any one else would venture to question my identity. As for
Balsamides, he seemed as calm as though he were making an ordinary
visit.

"They will make us wait," he said. "It will take half an hour to prepare
the harem for my entrance. The old lady may be dying, but she will not
sacrifice the formalities. It is no light thing with such as she to
receive a visit from a Frank doctor."

He spoke in a low voice, lest the porter in the hall should hear us. But
he did not speak again. I fancied he was framing his speech to the
Khanum. The preparations within did not take so long as he had expected,
for scarcely ten minutes had elapsed when Selim returned.

"Buyurun," said the negro, shortly. The word is the universal formula in
Turkey for "walk in," "sit down," "make yourself comfortable," "help
yourself."

Balsamides glanced at me, as we both rose from our seats, and I saw that
he was perfectly calm and confident. A moment later I was alone.

Gregorios followed Selim into the hall; then, passing under the heavy
curtain and through a door which the Lala opened on the other side, he
found himself within the precincts of the harem, in a wide vestibule not
unlike the one he had just quitted, though more brilliantly lighted, and
furnished with low divans covered with pale blue satin. There was no one
to be seen, however, and Balsamides followed the negro, who entered a
door on the right-hand side, at the end of the hall. They passed through
a narrow passage, entirely hung with rose-colored silk and matted, but
devoid of furniture, and then Selim raised a curtain and admitted
Gregorios to the presence of the sick lady.

The apartment was vast and brilliantly illuminated with lamps. Huge
mirrors in gilt frames of the fashion of the last century filled the
panels from the ceiling to the wainscoting. In the corners, and in every
available space between the larger ones, small mirrors bearing branches
of lights were hung, and groups of lamps were suspended from the
ceiling. The whole effect was as though the room had been lighted for a
ball. The Khanum had always loved lights, and feeling her sight dimmed
by illness she had ordered every lamp in the house to be lighted,
producing a fictitious daylight, and perhaps in some measure the
exhilaration which daylight brings with it.

The floor of the hall was of highly polished wood, and the everlasting
divans of disagreeable magenta satin, so dear to the modern Turkish
woman, lined the walls on three sides. At the upper end, however, a dais
was raised about a foot from the floor. Here rich Siné and Giordès
carpets were spread, and a broad divan extended across the whole width
of the apartment, covered with silk of a very delicate hue, such as in
the last century was called "bloom" in England. The long stiff cushions,
of the same material, leaned stiffly against the wall at the back of the
low seat, in an even row. Several dwarf tables, of the inlaid sort,
stood within arm's-length of the divan, and on one of them lay a golden
salver, bearing a crystal jar of strawberry preserves, and a glass half
full of water, with a gold spoon in it. In the right-hand corner of the
divan was the Khanum herself.

The old lady's dress was in striking contrast to her surroundings. She
wore a shapeless, snuff-colored gown, very loose and only slightly
gathered at the waist. As she sat propped among her cushions, her feet
entirely concealed beneath her, she seemed to be inclosed in a brown
bag, from which emerged her head and hands. The latter were very small
and white, and might well have belonged to a young woman, but her head
was that of an aged crone. Balsamides was amazed at her ugliness and the
extraordinary expression of her features. She wore no head-dress, and
the bit of gauze about her throat, which properly speaking should have
concealed her face, did not even cover her chin. Her hair was perfectly
black in spite of her age, and being cut so short as only to reach the
collar of her gown, hung straight down like that of an American Indian,
brushed back from the high yellow forehead, and falling like stiff
horse-hair over her ears and cheeks when she bent forward. Her eyes,
too, were black, and were set so near together as to give her a very
disagreeable expression, while the heavy eyebrows rose slightly from the
nose towards the temples. The nose was long, straight, and pointed, but
very thin; and the nostrils, which had once been broad and sensitive,
were pinched and wrinkled by old age and the play of strong emotions.
Her cheeks were hollowed and yellow, as the warped parchment cover of an
old manuscript, seamed with furrows in all directions, so that the
slightest motion of her face destroyed one set of deep-traced lines only
to exhibit another new and unexpected network of wrinkles. The upper lip
was long and drawn down, while the thin mouth curved upwards at the
corners in a disagreeable smile, something like that which seems to play
about the long, slit lips of a dead viper. This unpleasant combination
of features was terminated by a short but prominent chin, indicating a
determined and undeviating will. The ghastly yellow color of her face
made the unnatural brightness of her beady eyes more extraordinary
still.

To judge from her appearance, she had not long to live, and Balsamides
realized the fact as soon as he was in her presence. It was not a fever;
it was no sudden illness which had attacked her, depriving her of
strength, speech, and consciousness. She was dying of a slow and
incurable disease, which fed upon the body without weakening the
energies of the brain, and which had now reached its last stage. She
might live a month, or she might die that very night, but her end was
close at hand. With the iron determination of a tyrannical old woman,
she kept up appearances to the last, and had insisted on being carried
to the great hall and set in the place of honor upon the divan to
receive the visit of the physician. Indeed, for many days she had given
the slaves of her harem no rest, causing herself to be carried from one
part of the house to another, in the vain hope of finding some relief
from the pain which devoured her. All night the great rooms were
illuminated. Day and night the slaves exhausted themselves in the
attempt to amuse her: the trained and educated Circassian girl
translated the newspapers to her, or read aloud whole chapters of Victor
Hugo's Misérables, one of the few foreign novels which have been
translated into Turkish; the almehs danced and sang to their small
lutes; the black slaves succeeded each other in bringing every kind of
refreshment which the ingenuity of the Dalmatian cook could devise; the
whole establishment was in perpetual motion, and had rarely in the last
few days snatched a few minutes of uneasy rest when the Khanum slept her
short and broken sleep. It chanced that Laleli had all her life detested
opium, and was so quick to detect its presence in a sweetmeat or in a
sherbet, that now, when its use might have soothed her agonies, no
member of her household had the courage to offer it to her. Her
sleepless days and nights passed in the perpetual effort to obtain some
diversion from her pain, and with every hour it became more difficult to
satisfy her craving for change and amusement.

Balsamides came forward, touching his hand to his mouth and forehead;
and then approaching nearer, he awaited her invitation to sit down. The
old woman made a feeble, almost palsied gesture with her thin white
hand, and Gregorios advanced and seated himself upon the divan at some
distance from his patient.

"His Majesty has sent you?" she inquired presently, slowly turning her
head and fixing her beady eyes upon his face. Her voice was weak and
hoarse, scarcely rising above a whisper.

"It is his Majesty's pleasure that I should use my art to stay the hand
of death," replied Balsamides. "His Majesty is deeply grieved to hear of
the Khanum Effendi's illness."

"My gratitude is profound as the sea," said Laleli Khanum, but as she
spoke the viper smile wreathed and curled upon her seamed lips. "I thank
his Majesty. My time is come,--it is my kadèr, my fate. Allah alone can
save. None else can help me."

"Nevertheless, though it be in vain, I must try my arts, Khanum
Effendim," said Balsamides.

"What are your arts?" asked the sick woman, scornfully. "Can you burn me
with fire, and make a new Laleli out of the ashes of my bones?"

"No," said Gregorios, "I cannot do that, but I can ease your pain, and
perhaps you may recover."

"If you can ease my pain, you shall be rich. But you can not. Only Allah
is great!"

"If the Khanum will permit her servant to approach her and to touch her
hand"--suggested Balsamides, humbly.

"Gelinis, come," muttered Laleli. But she drew the pale green veil that
was round her throat a little higher, so as to cover her mouth. "What is
this vile body that it should be any longer withheld from the touch of
the unbeliever? What is your medicine, Giaour? Shall the touch of your
unbelieving hand, wherewith you daily make signs before images, heal the
sickness of her who is a daughter of the prophet of the Most High?"

Balsamides rose from his seat and came to her side. She shrank together
in her snuff-colored, bag-shaped gown, and hesitated before she would
put out her small hand, and her eyes expressed ineffable disgust. But at
last she held out her fingers, and Gregorios succeeded in getting at her
wrist. The pulse was very quick, and fluttered and sank at every fourth
or fifth beat.

"The Khanum is in great pain," said Gregorios. He saw indeed that she
was in a very weak state, and he fancied she could not last long.

"Ay, the pains of Gehennam are upon me," she answered in her hoarse
whisper, and at the same time she trembled violently, while the
perspiration broke out in a clammy moisture on her yellow forehead.

Gregorios produced a small case from his pocket. It is the magical
transformer of the modern physician.

"The prick of a pin," said he, "and your pain will cease. If the Khanum
will consent?"

She was in an access of terrible agony, and could not speak. Gregorios
took from his case a tiny syringe and a small bottle containing a
colorless liquid. It was the work of an instant to puncture the skin of
Laleli's hand, and to inject a small dose of morphine,--a very small
dose indeed, for the solution was weak. But the effect was almost
instantaneous. The Khanum opened her small black eyes, the contortion of
her wrinkled face gave way to a more natural expression, and she
gradually assumed a look of peace and relief which told Gregorios that
the drug had done its work. Even her voice sounded less hoarse and
indistinct when she spoke again.

"I am cured!" she exclaimed in sudden delight. "The pain is gone,--Allah
be praised, the pain is gone, the fire is put out! I shall live! I shall
live!"

Not one word of thanks to Gregorios escaped her lips. It was
characteristic of the woman that she expressed only her own satisfaction
at the relief she experienced, feeling not the smallest gratitude
towards the physician. She clapped her thin hands, and a black slave
girl appeared, one of those called halaïk, or "creatures." The Khanum
ordered coffee and chibouques. She had never accepted the modern
cigarette.

"The relief is instantaneous," remarked Balsamides, carefully putting
back the syringe and the bottle in the little case, which he returned to
his pocket.

"Tell me," said the old woman, lowering her voice, "is it the magic of
the Franks?"

"It is, and it is not," answered Gregorios, willing to play upon her
superstition. "It is, truly, very mysterious, and a man who employs it
must have clean hands and a brave heart. And so, indeed, must the person
who benefits by the cure. Otherwise it cannot be permanent. The sins
which burden the soul have power to consume the body, and if there is no
repentance, no device to undo the harm done, the magic properties of the
fluid are soon destroyed by the more powerful arts of Satan."

The Khanum looked anxiously at Balsamides as he spoke. At that moment
the black slave girl returned, bearing two little cups of coffee, while
two other girls, exactly like the first, followed with two lighted
chibouques, a mangál filled with coals, two small brass dishes upon
which the bowls of the pipes were to rest, so as not to burn the carpet,
and a little pair of steel firetongs inlaid with gold. At a sign the
three slaves silently retired. The Khanum drank the hot coffee eagerly,
and, placing the huge amber mouthpiece against her lips, began to inhale
the smoke. Gregorios followed her example.

"What is this you say of Satan destroying the power of your medicine?"
asked Laleli, presently.

"It is the truth, Khanum Effendim," answered Balsamides, solemnly. "If,
therefore, you would be healed, repent of sin, and if you have done
anything that is sinful, command that it be undone, if possible. If not,
your pain will return, and I cannot save you."

"How do you, a Giaour, talk to me of repentance?" asked Laleli, in
scornful tones. "While you try to extract the eyelash from my eye, you
do not see the beam which has entered your own."

"Nevertheless, unless you repent my medicine will not heal you,"
returned Gregorios, calmly.

"What have I to repent? Shall you find out my sin?"

"That I be unable to find it out does not destroy the necessity for your
repenting it. The time is short. If your heart is not clean you will
soon be writhing in a worse agony than when I charmed away your pain."

"We shall see," retorted the Khanum, her features wrinkling in a
contemptuous smile. "I tell you I feel perfectly well. I have
recovered."

But she had hardly spoken, and puffed a great cloud of aromatic smoke
into the still air of the illuminated room, when the smile began to
fade. Balsamides watched her narrowly, and saw the former expression of
pain slowly returning to her face. He had not expected it so soon, but
in his fear of producing death he had administered a very small dose of
morphine, and the disease was far advanced. Laleli, however, though
terrified as she felt that the agony she had so long endured was
returning after so brief a respite, endeavored bravely to hide her
sufferings, lest she should seem to confess that the Giaour was right,
and that it was the presence of the devil in her heart which prevented
the medicine from having its full effect. Gradually, as she smoked on in
silence, Gregorios saw that the disease had got the mastery over her
again, and that she was struggling to control her features. He pretended
not to observe the change, and waited philosophically for the inevitable
result. At last the unfortunate woman could bear it no longer; the pipe
dropped from her trembling hand, and the sweat stood upon her brow.

"I wonder whether there is any truth in what you say!" she exclaimed, in
a voice broken with the pain she would not confess.

"It is useless to deny it," answered Balsamides. "The Khanum Effendim is
already suffering."

"No, I am not!" she said between her teeth. But the perspiration
trickled down her hollow cheeks. Suddenly, unable to hide the horrible
agony which was gnawing in her bosom, she uttered a short, harsh cry,
and rocked herself backwards and forwards.

"It is even so," said Balsamides, eying her coldly, and not moving from
his place as he blew the clouds of smoke into the warm air. "My medicine
is of no use when the soul is dark and diseased by a black deed."

"Where is the medicine?" cried the wretched woman, swaying from side to
side in her agony. "Where is it? Give it to me again, or I shall die!"

"It cannot help you unless you confess your sin," returned her torturer
indifferently.

"In the name of Allah! I will confess all, even to you an unbeliever, if
you will only give me rest again!" cried Laleli. From the momentary
respite the pain seemed far greater than before.

"If you will do that, I will try and save you," answered Balsamides,
producing the case from his pocket. He had been very far from expecting
the advantage he had obtained through the combination of the old woman's
credulity and extreme suffering; but in his usual cold fashion he now
resolved to use it to the utmost. Laleli saw him take the syringe from
the case, and her eyes glittered with the anticipation of immediate
relief.

"Speak," said Gregorios,--"confess your sin, and you shall have rest."

"What am I to confess?" asked the old woman, hungrily watching the tiny
instrument in his fingers.

"This," answered Balsamides, lowering his voice. "You must tell me what
became of a Russian Effendi, whose name was Alexander, whom you caused
to be seized one night in the last week of"----

Again Laleli cried out, and rocked her body, apparently suffering more
than ever.

"The medicine!" she whispered almost inaudibly.--"Quick--I cannot
speak---- am dying of the pain." The perspiration streamed down her
yellow wrinkled face, and Balsamides feared the end was come.

"You must tell me first, or it will be of no use," he said. But he
quickly filled the syringe, and prepared to repeat the former operation.

"I cannot," groaned Laleli. "I die!--quick! Then I will tell."

A physician might have known whether the woman were really dying or not,
but Balsamides' science did not go so far as that. Without further
hesitation he pricked the skin of her hand and injected a small
quantity, a very little more than the first time. The effect was not
quite so sudden as before, but it followed after a few seconds. The
signs of extreme suffering disappeared from the Khanum's face, and she
once more looked up.

"Your medicine is good, Giaour," she said, with the ghost of a
disdainful laugh. But her voice was still very weak and hoarse.

"It will not save you unless you confess what became of the Frank," said
Gregorios, again putting his instrument into the case, and the case into
his pocket.

"It is very easy for me to have you kept here, and to force you to cure
me," she answered with a wicked smile. "Do you think you can leave my
house without my permission?"

"Easily," returned Balsamides, coolly. "I have not come here
unprotected. His Majesty's adjutant is outside. You will not find it
easy to take him prisoner."

"Who knows?" exclaimed Laleli. "The only thing which prevents me from
keeping you is, that I see you have very little of your medicine. It is
a good medicine. But I do not believe your story about repentance. It
may serve for Franks; it is not enough for a daughter of the true
Prophet."

"You shall see. If you wish to avoid further suffering, I advise you to
tell me what became of Alexander Patoff, and to tell me quickly. I was
wrong to give you the medicine until you had confessed, but if you
refuse I have another medicine ready which may persuade you."

"What do I know of your unbelieving dogs of Russians?" retorted the old
woman, fiercely.

"You know the answer to my question well enough. If you do not tell me
within five minutes what I want to know, I will tell you what the other
medicine is."

Laleli relapsed into a scornful silence. She was better of her pain, but
she was angry at the physician's manner. Balsamides took out his watch,
and began to count the minutes. There was a dead silence in the spacious
hall, where the lights burned as brightly as ever, while the heavy
clouds of tobacco smoke slowly wreathed themselves around the
chandeliers and mirrors. The two sat watching each other. It seemed an
eternity to the old woman, but the dose had been stronger this time, and
she was free from pain. At last Balsamides shut his watch and returned
it to his pocket.

"Will you, or will you not, tell me what became of Alexander Patoff,
whom you caused to be seized in or near Agia Sophia, one night in the
last week of the month of Ramazán before the last?"

Laleli's beady eyes were fixed on his as he spoke, with an air of
surprise, not unmingled with curiosity, and strongly tinged with
contempt.

"I know nothing about him," she answered steadily. "I never caused him
to be seized. I never heard of him."

"Then here is my medicine," said Gregorios, coldly. "It is a terrible
medicine. Listen to the pleasure of his Majesty the Hunkyar." He rose,
and pressed the document to his lips and forehead.

"What!" cried Laleli, in sudden terror, her voice gathering strength
from her fright.

"It is an order, dated to-day, to arrest Laleli Khanum Effendi, and to
convey her to a place of safety, where she shall await the further
commands of his Majesty."

"It is false," murmured the Khanum. But her white fingers twisted each
other nervously. "It is a forgery."

"So false," replied Balsamides, with cold contempt, "that the adjutant
is waiting outside, and a troop of horse is stationed within call to
conduct you to the place of safety aforesaid. I can force you to lay his
Majesty's signature on your forehead and to follow me to my carriage, if
I please."

"Allah alone is great!" groaned the Khanum, her head sinking on her
breast in despair. "Kadèr,--it is my fate."

"But if you will deliver me this man alive, I will save you out of the
hands even of the Hunkyar. I will say that you are too ill to be removed
from your house,--unless I give you my medicine," he added, flattering
her hopes to the last.

"Give me time. I know nothing--what shall I say?" muttered Laleli
incoherently, her thin fingers twitching at the stuff of her
snuff-colored gown, while as she bent her head her short, coarse, black
hair fell over her yellow cheeks, and concealed her expression from
Gregorios.

"You have not much time," he answered. "The pain will soon seize you
more sharply than before. If I arrest you, your sentence will be
banishment to Arabia,--not for this crime, but for that other which you
thought was pardoned. If I leave you here without help, my sentence upon
you is pain, pain and agony until you die. It is already returning; I
can see it in your face."

"I must have time to consider," said Laleli, her old firmness returning,
as it generally did in moments of great difficulty. She looked up,
tossing back her hair. "How long will you give me?"

"Till the morning light is first gray in the sky above Beikos," replied
Gregorios, without hesitation. "But for your own sake you had better
decide sooner."

Laleli was silent. She must have had the strongest reasons for refusing
to tell the secret of Alexander's fate, for the penalty of silence was a
fearful one. She felt herself to be dying, but the morphine had revived
in her the hope of life, and she loved life yet. But to live and suffer,
to go through the horrors of an exile to Arabia, to drag her gnawing
pain through the sands of the desert, was a prospect too awful to be
contemplated. As the effects of the last dose administered began to
disappear, and her sufferings recommenced, she realized her situation
with frightful vividness. Still she strove to be calm and to baffle her
tormentor to the very end. If she had not felt the unspeakable relief
she had gained from his medicine, she would have wished to die, but she
had tasted of life again. The problem was how to preserve this new life
while refusing to answer the question Gregorios had asked of her. She
was so clever, so thoroughly able to deal with difficulties, that if she
could but have relief from her sufferings, so that her mind might be
free to work undisturbed, she still hoped to find the solution. But the
pain was already returning. In a few minutes she would be writhing in
agony again.

"I will wait until morning,--it is not many hours now," said Balsamides,
after a pause. "But I strongly advise you to decide at once. You are
beginning to suffer, and I warn you that unless you confess you shall
not have the medicine."

"I lived without it until you came," answered Laleli. "I can live
without it now, if it is my fate." Her voice trembled convulsively, but
she finished her sentence by a great effort.

"It is not your fate," returned Gregorios. "You can not live without
it."

"Then at least I shall die and escape you," she groaned; but even in her
groan there was a sort of scorn. On the last occasion she had indeed
exaggerated her sufferings, pretending that she was at the point of
death in order to get relief without telling her secret. She had always
believed that at the last minute Balsamides would relent, out of fear
lest she should die, and that she could thus obtain a series of
intervals of rest, during which she might think what was to be done. She
did not know the relentless character of the man with whom she had to
deal.

"You cannot escape me," said Balsamides, sternly. "But you can save me
trouble by deciding quickly."

"I have decided to die!" she cried at last, with a great effort. She
groaned again, and began to rock herself in her seat upon the divan.

"You will not die yet," observed Gregorios, contemptuously. He had
understood that he had been deceived the previous time, and had
determined to let her suffer.

Indeed, she was suffering, and very terribly. Her groans had a different
character now, and it was evident that she was not playing a comedy. A
livid hue overspread her face, and she gasped for breath.

"If you are really in pain," said Balsamides, "confess, and I will give
you relief."

But Laleli shook her head, and did not look up. He attributed her
constancy to an intention to impose upon him a second time by appearing
to suffer in silence rather than to sell her secret for the medicine. He
looked on, quite unmoved, for some minutes. At last she raised her head
and showed the deathly color of her face.

"Medicine!" she gasped.

"Not this time, unless you make a full confession," said Balsamides
calmly. "I will not be deceived again."

The wretched woman cast an imploring glance at him, and seemed trying to
speak. But he thought she was acting again, and did not move from his
seat.

"You understand the price," he said, slowly taking the case from his
pocket. "Tell what you know, and you shall have it all, if you like."

The old Khanum's eyes glittered as she saw the receptacle of the coveted
medicine. Her lips moved, producing only inarticulate sounds. Then, with
a convulsive movement, she suddenly began to try and drag herself along
the divan to the place where Gregorios sat. He gazed at her scornfully.
She was very weak, and painfully moved on her hands and knees, the
straight hair falling about her face, while her eyes gleamed and her
lips moved. Occasionally she paused as though exhausted, and groaned
heavily in her agony. But Balsamides believed it to be but a comedy to
frighten him into administering the dose, and he sat still in his place,
holding the case in his hand and keeping his eyes upon her.

"You cannot deceive me," he said coldly. "All these contortions will not
prevail upon me. You must tell your secret, or you will get nothing."

Still Laleli dragged herself along, apparently trying to speak, but
uttering only inarticulate sounds. As she got nearer to him, still on
her hands and knees, Gregorios thought he had never seen so awful a
sight. The straight black hair was matted in the moisture upon her
clammy face; a deathly, greenish livid hue had overspread her features;
her chin was extended forward hungrily and her eyes shone dangerously,
while her lips chattered perpetually. She was very near to Balsamides.
Had she had the strength to stretch out her hand she could almost have
touched the small black case he held. He thought she was too near, at
last, and his grip tightened on the little box.

"Confess," he said once more, "and you shall have it."

For one moment more she tried to struggle on, still not speaking.
Balsamides rose and quietly put the case into his pocket, anticipating a
struggle. He little knew what the result would be. The miserable
creature uttered a short cry, and a wild look of despair was in her
eyes. Suddenly, as she crawled upon the divan, she reared herself up on
her knees, stretching out her wasted hands towards him.

"Give--give"--she cried. "I will tell you all--he is alive--he is--a
wan--"

Her staring black eyes abruptly seemed to turn white, and instantly her
face became ashy pale. One last convulsive effort,--the jaw dropped, the
features relaxed, the limbs were unstrung, and Laleli Khanum fell
forward to her full length upon her face on the peach-colored satin of
the divan.

She was dead, and Gregorios Balsamides knew it, as he turned her limp
body so that she lay upon her back. She was quite dead, but he was
neither startled nor horrified; he was bitterly disappointed, and again
and again he ground his heel into the thick Siné carpet under his feet.
What was it to him whether this hideous old hag were dead in one way or
another? She had died with her secret. There she lay in her shapeless
bag-like gown of snuff-colored stuff, under the brilliant lights and the
gorgeous mirrors, upon the delicate satin cushions, her white eyes
staring wide, her hands clenched still in the death agony, the coarse
hair clinging to her wet temples.

Presently the body moved, and appeared to draw one--two--three
convulsive breaths. Gregorios was startled, and bent down. But it was
only the very end.

"Bah!" he exclaimed, half aloud, "they often do that." Indeed, he had
many times in his life seen men die, on the battlefield, on the hospital
pallet, in their beds at home. But he had never seen such a death as
this, and for a moment longer he gazed at the dead woman's face. Then
the whole sense of disappointment rushed back upon him, and he hastily
strode down the long hall, under the lamps, between the mirrors, without
once looking behind him.



XVIII.


Balsamides found Selim outside the door at the other end of the passage,
sitting disconsolately upon the divan. The Lala turned up his ugly face
as Gregorios entered, and then rose from his seat, reluctantly, as
though much exhausted. Balsamides laid his hand upon the fellow's arm
and looked into his small red eyes.

"The Khanum is dead," said the pretended physician.

The negro trembled violently, and throwing up his arms would have
clapped his hands together. But Balsamides stopped him.

"No noise," he said sternly. "Come with me. All may yet be well with
you; but you must be quiet, or it will be the worse for you." He held
the Lala's arm and led him without resistance to the outer hall.

"Mehemet Bey! Mehemet Bey!" I heard him call, and I hastened from the
room where I had waited to join him in the vestibule. He was very pale
and grave. On hearing him enter, the porter appeared, and silently
opened the outer door. Balsamides addressed him as we prepared to leave
the house.

"The Khanum Effendi is dead," he said. "Selim will accompany us to the
palace, and will return in the morning."

The man's face, deeply marked with the small-pox and weather-beaten in
many a campaign, did not change color. Perhaps he had long expected the
news, for he bowed his head as though submitting to a superior order.

"It is the will of Allah," he said in a low voice. In another moment we
had descended the steps, Selim walking between us. The coachman was
standing at the horses' heads in the light of the bright carriage lamps.
Balsamides entered the carriage first, then I made Selim get in, and
last of all I took my seat and closed the door.

"Yildiz-Kiöshk!" shouted Balsamides out of the window to the driver, and
once more we rattled over the pavement and along the rough road. I
imagined that the order had been given only to mislead the porter, who
had stood upon the steps until we drove away. I knew well enough that
Balsamides would not present himself at the palace with me in my present
disguise, and that it was very improbable that he would take Selim
there. I hesitated to speak to him, because I did not know whether I was
to continue to personate the adjutant or to reveal myself in my true
character. I had comprehended the situation when I heard my friend tell
the porter that the Khanum was dead, and I congratulated myself that we
had secured the person of Selim without the smallest struggle or
difficulty of any kind. I argued from this, either that the Khanum had
died without telling her story, or else that she had told it all, and
that Selim was to accompany us to the place where Alexander was buried
or hidden.

At last we turned to the left. Balsamides again put his head out of the
window, and called to the coachman to drive on the Belgrade road instead
of turning towards Pera. The negro started violently when he heard the
order given, and I thought he put out his hand to take the handle of the
door; but my own was in the hanging loop fastened to the inside of the
door, and I knew that he could not open it. The road indicated by
Gregorios leads through the heart of the Belgrade forest.

The fierce north wind had moderated a little, or rather, as we drove up
the thickly wooded valley, we were not exposed to it as we had been upon
the shore of the Bosphorus and on the heights above. Overhead, the
driving clouds took a silvery-gray tinge, as the last quarter of the
waning moon rose slowly behind the hills of the Asian shore. The bare
trees swayed and moved slowly in the wind with the rhythmical motion of
aquatic plants under moving water. I looked through the glass as we
drove along, recognizing the well-known turns, the big trees, the
occasional low stone cottages by the roadside. Everything was familiar
to me, even in the bleak winter weather; only the landscape was
inexpressibly wild in its leafless grayness, under the faint light of
the waning moon. From time to time the Lala moved uneasily, but said
nothing. We were ascending the hill which leads to the huge arch of the
lonely aqueduct which pierces the forest, when Balsamides tapped upon
the window. The carriage stopped in the road and he opened the door on
his side and descended.

"Get down," he said to Selim. I pushed the negro forward, and got out
after him. Balsamides seized his arm firmly.

"Take him on the other side," he said to me in Turkish, dragging the
fellow along the road in the direction of a stony bridle-path which from
this point ascends into the forest. Then Selim's coolness failed him,
and he yelled aloud, struggling in our grip, and turning his head back
towards the coachman.

"Help! help!" he cried. "In the name of Allah! They will murder me!"

From the lonely road the coachman's careless laugh echoed after us, as
we hurried up the steep way.

"It is a solitary spot," observed Balsamides to the terrified Selim.
"You may yell yourself hoarse, if it pleases you."

We continued to ascend the path, dragging the Lala between us. He had
little chance of escape between two such men as we, and he seemed to
know it, for after a few minutes he submitted quietly enough. At last we
reached an open space among the rocks and trees, and Balsamides stopped.
We were quite out of earshot from the road, and it would be hard to
imagine a more desolate place than it appeared, between two and three
o'clock on that March night, the bare twigs of the birch-trees wriggling
in the bleak wind, the faint light of the decrescent moon, that seemed
to be upside down in the sky, falling on the white rocks, and on the
whitened branches torn down by the winter's storms, lying like bleached
bones upon the ground before us.

"Now," said Balsamides to the negro, "no one can hear us. You have one
chance of life. Tell us at once where we can find the Russian Effendi
whose property you stole and sold to Marchetto in the bazaar."

In the dim gloom I almost fancied that the black man changed color as
Gregorios put this question, but he answered coolly enough.

"You cannot find him," he said. "You need not have brought me here to
ask me about him. I would have told you what you wanted to know at Yeni
Köj, willingly enough."

"Why can he not be found?"

"Because he has been dead nearly two years, and his body was thrown into
the Bosphorus," answered the Lala defiantly.

"You killed him, I suppose?" Balsamides tightened his grip upon the
man's arm. But Selim was ready with his reply.

"You need not tear me in pieces. He killed himself."

The news was so unexpected that Balsamides and I both started and looked
at each other. The Lala spoke with the greatest decision.

"How did he kill himself?" asked Gregorios sternly.

"I will tell you, as far as I know. The Bekjí of Agia Sophia, the same
who admitted the Effendi, took me up by the other staircase. Franks are
never allowed to pass that way, as you know. When we were halfway up,
holding the tapers before us, we stumbled over the body of a man lying
at the foot of one of the flights, with his hand against the wall. We
stooped down and examined him. He was quite dead. 'Selim,' said the
Bekjí, who knows me very well, 'the Effendi has fallen down the stairs
in the dark, and has broken his neck.' 'If we give the alarm,' said I,
'we shall be held responsible for his death.' 'Leave it to me,' answered
the Bekjí. 'Behold, the man is dead. It is his fate. He has no further
use for valuables.' So the Bekjí took a ring, and a tobacco-box, and the
watch and chain, and some money which was in the man's pockets. Then he
said we should leave the corpse where it was. And when the prayers in
the mosque were over, before it was day, he got a vegetable-seller's
cart, and put the body in it and covered it with cabbages. Then we took
it down to the point below Top Kapu Serai, where the waters are swift
and deep. So we threw him in, for he was but a dog of a Giaour, and had
broken his neck in stumbling where it was forbidden to go. Is it my
fault that he stumbled?"

"No," answered Balsamides, "it was not your fault if he stumbled, and
the Bekjí was a Persian fox. But you robbed his body, and divided the
spoil. What share did the Bekjí take?"

"He took the ring and the tobacco-box and the money, for he was the
stronger," answered the Lala.

"Selim," said Balsamides quietly, "before the Khanum died to-night she
said that Alexander Patoff was alive. If so, you are lying. You are a
greater liar than Moseylama, the false prophet, as they say in your
country. But if not, you are a robber of dead bodies. Therefore, Selim,
say a Fatihah, for your hour is come."

With that, Balsamides drew a short revolver from his pocket and cocked
it before the man's eyes. The negro's limbs relaxed, and with a howl he
fell upon his knees.

"Mercy! In the name of Allah!" he cried. "I have told all the truth, I
swear by the grave of my father"----

"Don't move," said Gregorios, with horrible calmness. "You will do very
well in that position. Now--say your Fatihah, and be quick about it. I
cannot wait all night."

"You are not in earnest, Gregorios?" I asked in English, for my blood
ran cold at the sight.

"Very much in earnest," he answered in Turkish, presenting the muzzle of
the pistol to the Lala's head. "This fellow shall not laugh at our
beards a second time. I will count three. If you do not wish to say your
prayers, I will fire when I have said three. One--two"----

"He is alive!" screamed the Lala, before the fatal "three" was spoken by
Balsamides. "I have lied: he is alive! Mercy! and I will tell you all."

"I thought so," said Balsamides, coolly uncocking his pistol and putting
it back into his pocket. "Get up, dog, and tell us what you know."

Selim was literally almost frightened to death, as he kneeled on the
sharp stones at our feet. He could hardly speak, and I dragged him up
and made him sit upon the trunk of a fallen tree. I was indeed glad that
he was still alive, for though Balsamides had not yet told me the events
of the night, I could see that he was in no humor to be trifled with.
Even I, who am peaceably disposed towards all men, felt my blood boil
when the fellow told how he and the Bekjí had robbed the body of
Alexander Patoff, and thrown it into the Bosphorus for fear of being
suspected. But the whole story seemed improbable, and I had a strong
impression that Selim was lying. Perhaps nothing but the fear of death
could have made him confess, after all, and Balsamides had a way of
making death seem very real and near.

"I will tell you this, Selim," said Gregorios. "If you will give me
Alexander Patoff Effendi to-night, alive, well, and uninjured in any
way, you shall go free, and I will engage that you shall not be hurt.
You evidently wished to keep the Khanum's secret. The Khanum is dead,
and her secrets are the Padishah's, like everything else she possessed.
You are bound to deliver those secrets to my keeping. Therefore tell us
shortly where the Russian is, that we may liberate him and take him home
at once."

"He is alive and well. That is to say, he has been well treated,"
answered Selim. "If you can take him, you may take him to-night, for all
I care. But you must swear that you will then protect me."

"Filthy liquor in a dirty bottle!" exclaimed Balsamides angrily. "Will
you make conditions with me, you soul of a dog in a snake's body?"

"Very well," returned the Lala cunningly. "But if you should kill me by
mistake before I have taken you to him, you will never find him."

"I have told you that you shall not be hurt, if you will give him up.
That is enough. My word is good, and I will keep it. Speak; you are
safe."

"In the first place, we must go back to Yeni Köj. You might have saved
yourself the trouble of coming up here on such a night as this."

"I want no comments on my doings. Tell me where the man is."

"I will take you to him," said the Lala.

"Well, then, get up and come back to the carriage," said Balsamides,
seeing it was useless to bandy words with the fellow. Moreover, it was
bitterly cold in the forest, and the idea of being once more in the
comfortable carriage was attractive. Again we took Selim between us, and
rapidly descended the stony path. In a few moments we were driving
swiftly away from the arches of the aqueduct in the direction whence we
had come.

Before we had reached the door of Laleli's house, Selim asked Balsamides
to stop the carriage. We got out, and he took us up a narrow and filthy
lane between two high walls. The feeble light of the moon did not
penetrate the blackness, and we stumbled along in the mud as best we
could. After climbing in this way for nearly ten minutes, Selim stopped
before what appeared to be a small door sunk in a niche in the wall. I
heard a bunch of keys jingling in his hand, and in a few seconds he
admitted us. Balsamides held him firmly by the sleeve, as he turned to
lock the door behind us.

"You shall not lock it," he said in a low voice. "Are we mice to be
caught in a trap?"

Having made sure that the door was open, he pushed Selim forward. We
seemed to be in a very spacious garden, surrounded by high walls on all
sides. The trees were bare, excepting a few tall cypresses, which reared
their black spear-like heads against the dim sky. The flower-beds were
covered with dark earth, and the gravel in the paths was rough, as
though no one had trod upon it for a long time. The walls protected the
place from the wind, and a gloomy stillness prevailed, broken only by
the distant sighing of trees higher up, which caught the northern gale.

Selim followed the wall for some distance, and at last stood still. We
had reached one angle of the garden, and as well as I could see the
corner made by the walls was filled by a low stone building with
latticed windows, from one of which issued a faint light. Going nearer,
I saw that the lattices were not of wood, but were strong iron gratings,
such as no man's strength could break. The door in the middle of this
stone box was also heavily ironed. Selim went forward, and again I heard
the keys rattle in his hands. Almost instantly the shadow of a head
appeared at the window whence the light came. While the Lala was
unfastening the lock I went close to the grating. I was just tall enough
to meet a pair of dark eyes gazing at me intently through the lowest
bars.

"Alexander Patoff, is it you?" I asked in Russian.

"Good God!" exclaimed a tremulous voice. "Have the Russians taken
Constantinople at last? Who are you?"

"I am Paul Griggs. We have come to set you free."

The heavy door yielded and moved. I rushed in, and in another moment I
clasped the lost man's hand. Gregorios, far more prudent than I, held
Selim by the collar as a man would hold a dog, for he feared some
treachery.

"Is it really you?" I asked, for I could scarcely believe my eyes.
Alexander looked at me once, then broke into hysterical tears, laughing
and crying and sobbing all at once. He was indeed unrecognizable. I
remembered the descriptions I had heard of the young dandy, the gay
officer of a crack regiment, irreproachable in every detail of his
dress, and delicate as a woman in his tastes. I saw before me a man of
good height, wrapped in an old Turkish kaftan of green cloth lined with
fur, his feet thrust into a pair of worn-out red slippers. His dark
brown hair had grown till it fell upon his shoulders, his beard reached
halfway to his waist, his face was ghastly white and thin to emaciation.
The hand he had given me was like a parcel of bones in a thin glove. I
doubted whether he were the man, after all.

"We must be quick," I said. "Have you anything to take away?" He cast a
piteous glance at his poor clothing.

"This is all I have," he said in a low voice. Then, with a half-feminine
touch of vanity, he added, "You must excuse me: I am hardly fit to go
with you." He looked wildly at me for a moment, and again laughed and
sobbed hysterically. The apartment was indeed empty enough. There was a
low round table, a wretched old divan at one end, and a sort of bed
spread upon the floor, in the old Turkish fashion. The whole place
seemed to consist of a single room, lighted by a small oil lamp which
hung in one corner. The stuccoed walls were green with dampness, and the
cold was intense. I wondered how the poor man had lived so long in such
a place. I put my arm under his, and threw my heavy military cloak over
his shoulders. Then I led him away through the open door. The key was
still in the lock without, and Balsamides held Selim tightly by the
collar. When we had passed, Gregorios, instead of following us, held the
Lala at arm's-length before him. Then he administered one tremendous
kick, and sent the wretch flying into the empty cell; he locked the door
on him with care, and withdrew the keys.

"I told you I would protect you," he called out through the keyhole.
"You will be quite safe there for the present." Then he turned away,
laughing to himself, and we all three hurried down the path under the
wall, till we reached the small door by which we had entered the garden.
Stumbling down the narrow lane, we soon got to the road, and found the
carriage where we had left it. There was no time for words as we almost
lifted the wretched Russian into the carriage and got in after him.

"To my house in Pera!" cried Balsamides to the patient coachman. "Pek
tchabuk! As fast as you can drive!"

"Evvét Effendim," replied the old soldier, and in another moment we were
tearing along the road at breakneck speed.

Hitherto Alexander Patoff had been too much surprised and overcome by
his emotions to speak connectedly or to ask us any questions. When once
we were in the carriage and on our way to Pera, however, he recovered
his senses.

"Will you kindly tell me how all this has happened? Are you a Turkish
officer?"

"No," I answered. "This is a disguise. Let me present you to the man who
has really liberated you,--Balsamides Bey."

Patoff took the hand Gregorios stretched out towards him in both of his,
and would have kissed it had Gregorios allowed him.

"God bless you! God bless you!" he repeated fervently. He was evidently
still very much shaken, and in order to give him a little strength I
handed him a flask of spirits which I had left in the carriage. He drank
eagerly, and grasped even more greedily the case of cigarettes which I
offered him.

"Ah!" he cried, in a sort of ecstasy, as he tasted the tobacco. "I feel
that I am free."

I began to tell him in a few words what had happened: how we had
stumbled upon his watch in the bazaar, had identified Selim, and traced
the Lala to Laleli Khanum's house; how the Khanum had died while
Balsamides was there, just as she was about to tell the truth; how we
had dragged Selim into the forest, and had threatened him with death;
and how at last, feeling that since his mistress was dead he was no
longer in danger, the fellow had conducted us to Alexander's cell in the
garden. I told him that his brother and mother were in Pera, and that he
should see them in the morning. I said that Madame Patoff had been very
ill in consequence of his disappearance, and that every one had mourned
for him as dead. In short, I endeavored to explain the whole situation
as clearly as I could. While I was telling our story Balsamides never
spoke a word, but sat smoking in his corner, probably thinking of the
single kick in which he had tried to concentrate all his vengeance.

As we drove along, the dawn began to appear,--the cold dawn of a March
morning. I asked Balsamides whether it would be necessary to change my
clothes before entering the city.

"No," he answered; "we shall be at home at sunrise. The fellow drives
well."

"I shall have to ask you to take me in for a few hours," said Alexander.
"I am in a pitiable state."

"You must have suffered horribly in that den," observed Balsamides. "Of
course you must come home with me. We will send for your brother at
once, and when you are rested you can tell us something of your story.
It must be even more interesting than ours."

"It would not take so long to tell," answered Patoff, with a melancholy
smile. In the gray light of the morning I was horrified to notice how
miserably thin and ill he looked; but even in his squalor, and in spite
of the long hair and immense beard, I could see traces of the beauty I
had so often heard described by Paul, and even by Cutter, who was rarely
enthusiastic about the appearance of his fellows. He seemed weak, too,
as though he had been half starved in his prison. I asked him how long
it was since he had eaten.

"Last night," he said, wearily, "they brought me food, but I could not
eat. A man in prison has no appetite." Then suddenly he opened the
window beside him, and put his head out into the cold blast, as though
to drink in more fully the sense of freedom regained. Balsamides looked
at him with a sort of pity which I hardly ever saw in his face.

"Poor devil!" he said, in a low voice. "We were just in time. He could
not have lasted much longer."

We reached the outskirts of Pera, and Alexander hastily withdrew his
head and sank back in the corner, as though afraid of being seen. He had
the startled look of a man who fears pursuit. At last we rattled down
the Grande Rue, and stopped before the door of Balsamides' house. It was
six o'clock in the morning, and the sun was nearly up. I thought it had
been one of the longest nights I ever remembered.

While Balsamides dismissed the coachman, I led Alexander quickly into
the house and up the narrow stairs. In a few minutes Gregorios joined
us, and coffee was brought.

"I think you could wear my clothes," he said, looking at Alexander with
a scarcely perceptible smile. "We are nearly the same height, and I am
almost as thin as you."

"If you would be so very kind as to send for a barber," suggested
Patoff. "I have never been allowed one, for fear I should get hold of
his razor and kill myself or somebody else."

"I will go and send one," said I. "And I will rouse your brother and
bring him back with me."

"Stop!" cried Balsamides. "You cannot go like that!" I had forgotten
that I still wore the adjutant's uniform. "Take care of our friend," he
added, "and I will go myself."

We should probably have felt very tired, after our night's excursion,
had we not been sustained by the sense of triumph at having at last
succeeded beyond all hope. It was hard to imagine what the effect would
be upon Madame Patoff, and I began to fear for her reason as I
remembered how improbable it had always seemed to me that we should find
her son alive. I was full of curiosity to hear his story, but I knew
that he was exhausted with fatigue and emotion, so that I put him in
possession of my room and gave him some of my friend's clothes. In a few
moments the barber arrived, and while he was performing his operations I
myself resumed my ordinary dress.

Balsamides found Paul in bed and fast asleep, but, pushing the servant
aside, he walked in and opened the windows.

"Wake up, Patoff!" he shouted, making a great noise with the fastenings.

"Holloa! What is the matter?" cried Paul, opening his sleepy eyes wide
with astonishment as he saw Balsamides standing before him, white as
death with the excitement of the night. "Has anything happened?"

"Everything has happened," said Gregorios. "The sun is risen, the birds
are singing, the Jews are wrangling in the bazaar, the dogs are fighting
at Galata Serai, and, last of all, your brother, Alexander Patoff, is at
this moment drinking his coffee in my rooms."

"My brother!" cried Paul, fairly leaping out of bed in his excitement.
"Are you in earnest? Come, let us go at once."

"Your costume," remarked Balsamides quietly, "smacks too much of the
classic for the Grande Rue de Pera. I will wait while you dress."

"Does my mother know?" asked Patoff.

"No," replied Balsamides. "Your brother had not been five minutes in my
house when I came here." Then he told Paul briefly how we had found
Alexander.

Paul Patoff was not a man to be easily surprised; but in the present
case the issue had been so important, that, being taken utterly unawares
by the news, he felt stunned and dazed as he tried to realize the whole
truth. He sat down in the midst of dressing, and for one moment buried
his face in his hands. Balsamides looked on quietly. He knew how much
even that simple action meant in a man of Paul's proud and
undemonstrative temper. In a few seconds Paul rose from his seat and
completed his toilette.

"You know how grateful I am to you both," he said. "You must guess it,
for nothing I could say could express what I feel."

"Do not mention it," answered Balsamides. "No thanks could give me half
the pleasure I have in seeing your satisfaction. You must prepare to
find your brother much changed, I fancy. He seemed to me to be thin and
pale, but I think he is not ill in any way. If you are ready, we will
go."

Meanwhile, Alexander had had his hair cut short, in the military
fashion, and had been divested of the immense beard which hid half his
face. A tub and a suit of civilized clothes did the rest, even though
the latter did not fit him as well as Gregorios had expected. Gregorios
is a deceptive man and is larger than he looks, for his coat was too
broad for Alexander, and hung loosely over the latter's shoulders and
chest. But in spite of the imperfect fit, the change in the man's
appearance was so great that I started in surprise when he entered the
sitting-room, taking him for an intruder who had walked in unannounced.

He was very beautiful; that is the only word which applies to his
appearance. His regular features, in their extreme thinness, were
ethereal as the face of an angel, but he had not the painful look of
emaciation which one so often sees in the faces of those long kept in
confinement. He was very thin indeed, but there was a perfect grace in
all his movements, an ease and self-possession in his gestures, a quiet,
earnest, trustful look in his dark eyes, which seemed almost unearthly.
I watched him with the greatest interest, and with the greatest
admiration also. Had I been asked at that moment to state what man or
woman in the whole world I considered most perfectly beautiful, I should
have answered unhesitatingly, Alexander Patoff. He had that about him
which is scarcely ever met with in men, and which does not always please
others, though it never fails to attract attention. I mean that he had
the delicate beauty of a woman combined with the activity and dash of a
man. I saw how the lightness, the alternate indolence and reckless
excitement, of such a nature must act upon a man of Paul Patoff's
character. Every point and peculiarity of Alexander's temper and bearing
would necessarily irritate Paul, who was stern, cold, and manly before
all else, and who readily despised every species of weakness except
pride, and every demonstration of feeling except physical courage.
Alexander was like his mother; so like her, indeed, that as soon as I
saw him without his beard I realized the cause of Madame Patoff's
singular preference for the older son, and much which had seemed
unnatural before was explained by this sudden revelation. Paul probably
resembled his father's family more than his mother's. Madame Patoff, who
had loved that same cold, determined character in her husband, because
she was awed by it, hated it in her child, because she could neither
bend it nor influence it, nor make it express any of that exuberant
affection which Alexander so easily felt. Both boys had inherited from
their father a goodly share of the Slav element, but, finding very
different ground upon which to work in the natures of the two brothers,
the strong Russian individuality had developed in widely different ways.
In Alexander were expressed all the wild extremes of mood of which the
true Russian is so eminently capable; all the overflowing and
uncultivated talent and love of art and beauty, which in Russia brings
forth so much that approaches indefinitely near to genius without ever
quite reaching it. In Paul the effect of the Slavonic blood was totally
opposite, and showed itself in that strange stolidity, that cold and
ruthless exercise of force and pursuance of conviction, which have
characterized so many Russian generals, so many Russian monarchs, and
which have produced also so many Russian martyrs. There is something
fateful in that terrible sternness, something which very well excites
horror while imposing respect, and especially when forced to submit to
superior force; and when vanquished, there is something grand in the
capacity such a character possesses for submitting to destiny, and
bearing the extremest suffering.

It was clear enough that there could never be any love lost between two
such men, and I was curious to see their meeting. I wondered whether
each would fall upon the other's neck and shed tears of rejoicing, or
whether they would shake hands and express their satisfaction more
formally. In looking forward to the scene which was soon to take place,
I almost wished that Paul might have accompanied us in the disguise of a
second adjutant, and thus have had a hand in the final stroke by which
we had effected Alexander's liberation. But I knew that he would only
have been in the way, and that, considering the whole situation, we had
done wisely. The least mistake on his part might have led to a struggle
inside the Khanum's house, and we had good cause to congratulate
ourselves upon having freed the prisoner without shedding blood. There
was something pleasantly ludicrous in the thought that all our
anticipations of a fight had ended in that one solemn kick with which
Balsamides had consigned Selim to the prison whence we had taken
Alexander.

I was giving the latter a few more details of the events of the night,
when Paul and Balsamides entered the room together. Paul showed more
emotion than I had expected, and clasped his brother in his arms in
genuine delight at having found him at last. Then he looked long at his
face, as though trying to see how far Alexander was changed in the
twenty months which had elapsed since they had met.

"You are a little thinner,--you look as though you had been ill," said
Paul.

"No, I have not been ill, but I have suffered horribly in many ways,"
answered Alexander, in his smooth, musical voice.

For some minutes they exchanged questions, while they overcame their
first excitement at being once more together. It was indeed little less
than a resurrection, and Alexander's ethereal face was that of a spirit
returning to earth rather than of a living man who had never left it. At
last Paul grew calmer.

"Will you tell us how it happened?" he asked, as he sat down upon the
divan beside his brother. Balsamides and I established ourselves in
chairs, ready to listen with breathless interest to the tale Alexander
was about to tell.

"You remember that night at Santa Sophia, Paul?" began the young man,
leaning back among the cushions, which showed to strong advantage the
extreme beauty of his delicate face. "Yes, of course you remember it,
very vividly, for Mr. Griggs has told me how you acted, and all the
trouble you took to find me. Very well; you remember, then, that the
last time I saw you we were all looking down at those fellows as they
went through their prayers and prostrations, and I stood a little apart
from you. You were very much absorbed in the sight, and the kaváss, who
was a Mussulman, was looking on very devoutly. I thought I should like
to see the sight from the other side, and I walked away and turned the
corner of the gallery. You did not notice me, I suppose, and the noise
of the crowd, rising and falling on their knees, must have drowned my
footsteps."

"I had not the slightest idea that you had moved from where you stood,"
said Paul.

"No. When I reached the corner, I was very much surprised to see a man
standing in the shadow of the pillar. I was still more astonished when I
recognized the hideous negro who had knocked off my hat in the
afternoon. I expected that he would insult me, and I suppose I made as
though I would show fight; but he raised his finger to his lips, and
with the other hand held out a letter, composing his face into a sort of
horrible leer, intended to be attractive. I took the letter without
speaking, for I knew he could not understand a word I said, and that I
could not understand him. The envelope contained a sheet of pink paper,
on which, in an ill-formed hand, but in tolerably good French, were
written a few words. It was a declaration of love."

"From Laleli?" asked Balsamides, with a laugh.

"Exactly," replied Alexander. "It was a declaration of love from Laleli.
I leave you to imagine what I supposed Laleli to be like at that time,
and Paul, who knows me, will tell you that I was not likely to hesitate
at such a moment. The note ended by saying that the faithful Selim would
conduct me to her presence without delay. I was delighted with the
adventure, and crept noiselessly after him in the shadow of the gallery,
lest you should see me; for I knew you would prevent my going with the
man. We descended the stairs, but it was not until we reached the bottom
that I saw we had not come down by the way I had ascended. Selim was
most obsequious, and seemed ready to do everything for my comfort. As we
walked down a narrow street, he presented me with a new fez, and made
signs to me to put it on instead of my hat, which he then carefully
wrapped in a handkerchief and carried in his hand. At a place near the
bridge several caïques were lying side by side. He invited me to enter
one, which I observed was very luxuriously fitted, and which I thought I
recognized as the one in which I had so often seen the woman with the
impenetrable veil. I lay back among the cushions and smoked, while Selim
perched himself on the raised seat behind me, and the four boatmen
pulled rapidly away. It was heavy work for them, I dare say, tugging
upstream, but to me the voyage was enchanting. The shores were all
illuminated, and the Bosphorus swarmed with boats. It was the last time
I was in a caïque. I do not know whether I could bear the sight of one
now."

"So they took you to Laleli's house?" said Paul, anxious to hear the
rest.

"Yes; I was taken to Laleli's house, and I never got out of it till last
night," continued Alexander. "How long is it? I have not the least idea
of the European date."

"This is the 29th of March," said I.

"And that was the end of June,--twenty-one months. I have learned
Turkish since I was caught, to pass the time, and I always knew the
Turkish date after I had learned their way of counting, but I had lost
all reckoning by our style. Well, to go on with my story. They brought
me to the stone pier before the house. Selim admitted me by a curiously
concealed panel at one end of the building, and we found ourselves in a
very narrow place, whence half a dozen steps ascended to a small door. A
little oil lamp burned in one corner. He led the way, and the door at
the top slid back into the wall. We entered, and he closed it again. We
were in the corner of a small room, richly furnished in the worst
possible taste. I dare say you know the style these natives admire.
Selim left me there for a moment. I looked carefully at the wall, and
tried to find the panel; but to my surprise, the wainscoting was
perfectly smooth and even, and I could not discover the place where it
opened, nor detect any spring or sign of a fastening. Laleli, I thought,
understood those things. Presently a door opened on one side of the
room, and I saw the figure I had often watched, beckoning to me to come.
Of course I obeyed, and she retired into the room beyond, which was very
high and had no windows, though I noticed that there was a dome at the
top, which in the day-time would admit the light."

"The Khanum was waiting for you?" I asked.

"Yes. I was surprised to see her dressed in the clothes she wore
out-of-doors, and as thickly veiled as ever. There were lights in the
room. She held out her small hand,--you remember noticing that she had
small white hands?"

"Like a young woman's," replied Balsamides.

"Yes. I took her hand, and spoke in French. I dare say I looked very
sentimental and passionate as I gazed into her black eyes. I could see
nothing of her face. She answered me in Turkish, which of course I could
not understand. All I could say was Pek güzel, very beautiful, which I
repeated amidst my French phrases, giving the words as passionate an
accent as I could command. At last she seemed to relent, and as she bent
towards me I expected that she was about to speak very softly some
Turkish love-word. What was my horror when she suddenly screamed into my
ear, with a hideous harsh voice, my own words, Pek güzel! In a moment
she threw off her black ferigee, and tore the thick veil from her head.
I could have yelled with rage, for I saw what a fool I had made of
myself, and that the old hag had played a practical joke on me in
revenge for the affair in the Valley of Roses. I cursed her in French, I
cursed her in Russian, I cursed her in English, and stamped about the
room, trying to get out. The horrible old witch screamed herself hoarse
with laughter, making hideous grimaces and pointing at me in scorn. What
could I do? I tried to force one of the doors, and twisted at the
handle, and tugged and pushed with all my might. While I was thus
engaged I heard the door at the other end of the room open quickly, and
as I turned and sprang towards it I caught sight of her baggy,
snuff-colored gown disappearing, as she slammed the door behind her.
Before I could reach it the lock was turned, and I was caught in the
trap,--caught like a mouse."

"What a spiteful old thing she was!" I exclaimed. "She might have been
satisfied with keeping you there a day instead of two years."

"Nearly two years. I did everything humanly possible to escape. I gave
all I possessed to Selim to take a message to Paul, to anybody; but of
course that was useless. At first they kept me in the room where I had
been caught. My food was brought to me by the Turkish porter, a brawny
fellow, who could have brained me with his fist. He was always
accompanied by another man, as big as himself, who carried a loaded
pistol, in case I attacked the first. I had no chance, and I wished I
might go mad. Then, one night, they set upon me suddenly, and tied a
handkerchief over my mouth, and bound me hand and foot, in spite of my
struggles. I thought I was to be put into a sack and drowned. They
carried me like a log out into the garden, and put me into that cell
where you found me, which had apparently just been built, for the stones
were new and the cement was fresh. There, at least, I could look through
the gratings. I even thought at one time that I could make myself heard,
having no idea of the desolate position of the place. But I soon gave up
the attempt and abandoned myself to despair. There it was that Selim
used to come occasionally, and talk to me through the bars. That was
better than nothing, and the villain amused his leisure moments by
teaching me to speak Turkish. One day he brought me a book, which I
hailed with delight. It was an old French method for learning the
language. I made great progress, as I studied from morning to night.
Selim grew more familiar to me, and I confess with shame that I missed
his visits when he did not come. The men who brought my food seemed
absolutely mute, and I never succeeded in extracting a word from either
of them. Even Selim was a companion, and talking to him saved me from
going mad. I asked him all sorts of questions, and at last I guessed
from his answers that the Khanum had been terrified by the disturbance
my disappearance had created, and was afraid to set me free lest I
should take vengeance on her. She was also afraid to kill me, for some
reason or other. The result was, that, from having merely wished to
revenge upon me the affair in the Valley of Roses by means of a
practical joke, she found herself obliged to keep me a prisoner. I used
every means of persuasion to move Selim. I told him I was rich, and
would make him rich if he would help me to escape. I promised to take
no steps against the Khanum. It was in vain, I assure you I have
conceived a very high opinion of the fidelity of Lalas in general, and
of Selim in particular."

"They are very faithful," said Balsamides gravely. I have since fancied
that he had some reason for knowing.

Alexander afterwards told us many more details of his confinement; but
this was his first account of it, and embraced all that is most
important to know. The whole affair made a very strong impression on me.
The unfortunate man had fallen a victim to a chain of circumstances
which it had been entirely impossible to foresee, all resulting directly
from his first imprudent action in addressing the veiled lady in the
Valley of Roses. A little piece of folly had ruined two years of his
life, and subjected him to a punishment such as a court of justice would
have inflicted for a very considerable crime.

The remainder of the day was occupied by the meeting of Alexander with
his mother and his introduction to his English relations, upon which it
is needless to dwell long. I never knew what passed between the mother
and son, but the interview must have been a very extraordinary one. It
was necessary, of course, to prepare Madame Patoff for the news and for
the sight of the child she seemed to love better than anything in the
world. Hermione performed the task, as being the one who understood her
best. She began by hinting vaguely that we had advanced another step in
our search, and that we were now confident of finding Alexander before
long, perhaps in a few hours. She gradually, in talking, spoke of the
moment when he would appear, wondering how he would look, and insensibly
accustoming Madame Patoff to the idea. At last she confessed that he had
been found during the night, and that he was ready to come to his mother
at any moment.

It was well done, and the force of the shock was broken. The old lady
nearly swooned with joy, but the danger was past when she recovered her
consciousness and demanded to see Alexander at once. He was admitted to
her room, and the two were left alone to their happiness.

The rest of the family were mad with delight. John Carvel grew ten years
younger, and Mrs. Carvel fairly cried with joy, while Chrysophrasia
declared that it was worth while to be disappointed by the first
impression of Constantinople, when one was consoled by such a thrilling
tale with so joyous a termination,--or happy end, as I should have said.
Hermione's face beamed with happiness, and Macaulay literally melted in
smiles, as he retired to write down the story in his diary.

"Oh, Paul!" Hermione exclaimed when they were alone, "you never told me
he was such a beauty!"

"Yes," he answered quietly, "he is far better-looking than I am. You
must not fall in love with him, Hermy."

"The idea of such a thing!" she cried, with a light laugh.

"I should not be surprised if he fell in love with you, dear," said
Paul, smiling.

"You only say that because you do not like him," she answered. "But you
will like him now, won't you? You are so good,--I am sure you will. But
think what a splendid thing it is that you should have found him. If
aunt Chrysophrasia says, 'Where is your brother?' you can just answer
that he is in the next room."

"Yes; I am a free man now. No one can ever accuse me again. But apart
from that, I am really and sincerely glad that he is alive. I wish him
no ill. It is not his fault that I have been under a cloud for nearly
two years. He was as anxious to be found as I was to find him. After
all, it was not I. It was Balsamides and Griggs who did it at last. I
dare say that if I had been with them I should have spoiled it all. I
could not have dressed myself like a Turkish officer, to begin with. If
I had been caught in the uniform, belonging as I do to the embassy,
there would have been a terrible fuss. I should have been obliged to go
away, very likely without having found my brother at all. I owe
everything to those two men."

"If you had not made up your mind that he should be found, they would
never have found him; they would not have thought of taking the
trouble."

Hermione spoke in a reassuring tone, as though to comfort Paul for
having had no share in the final stroke which had liberated his brother.
In reality Paul needed no consolation. In his heart he was glad that
Alexander had been set free by others, and need therefore never feel
himself under heavy obligations to Paul. It was not in the strong man's
nature to wish to revenge himself upon his brother because the latter
had been the favored child and the favorite son. Nor, if he had
contemplated any kind of vengeance, would he have chosen the Christian
method of heaping coals of fire upon his head. He merely thought of
Alexander as he would have thought of any other man not his relation at
all, and he did not wish to appear in the light of his liberator. It was
enough for Paul that he had been found at last, and that his own
reputation was now free from stain. Nothing prevented him any longer
from marrying Hermione, and he looked forward to the consummation of all
his hopes in the immediate future.

The day closed in a great rejoicing. John Carvel insisted that we should
all dine with him that night; and our numbers being now swelled by the
addition of Alexander Patoff and Gregorios Balsamides, we were a large
party,--ten at table. I shall never forget the genuine happiness which
was on every face. The conversation flowed brilliantly, and every one
felt as though a weight had been lifted from his or her spirits.
Alexander Patoff was of course the most prominent person, and as he
turned his beautiful eyes from one to the other of us, and told us his
story with many episodes and comments, I think we all fell under his
fascination, and understood the intense love his mother felt for him. He
had indeed a woman's beauty with a man's energy, when his energy was
roused at all; and though the feminine element at first seemed out of
place in him, it gave him that singular faculty of charming when he
pleased, and that brilliancy which no manly beauty can ever have.

It was late when we got home, and I went to bed with a profound
conviction that Paul Patoff's troubles had come to a happy end, and that
he would probably be married to Hermione in the course of the summer. If
things had ended thus, my story would end here, and perhaps it would be
complete. Unfortunately, events rarely take place as we expect that they
will, still more rarely as we hope that they may; and it is generally
when our hopes coincide with our expectations, and we feel most sure of
ourselves, that fate overtakes us with the most cruel disappointments.
Paul Patoff had not yet reached the quiet haven of his hopes, and I have
not reached the end of my story. It would indeed be a very easy matter,
as I have said before, to collect all the things which happened to him
into a neat romance, of which the action should not cover more than
four-and-twenty hours of such excitement as no one of the actors could
have borne in real life, any more than Salvini could act a tragedy which
should begin at noon to-day and end at midday to-morrow. I might have
divested Paul of many of his surroundings, have bereaved him of many of
his friends, and made him do himself what others did to him; but if he
were to read such an account of his life he would laugh scornfully, and
say that the real thing was very different indeed, as without doubt it
was.

This is the reason why I have not hesitated to bring before you a great
number of personages, each of whom, in a great or a small way, affected
his life. I do not believe that you could understand his actions in the
sequel without knowing the details of those situations through which he
had passed before. We are largely influenced by little things and little
events. The statement is a truism in the eyes of the moralist, but the
truth is, unfortunately, too often forgotten in real life. The man who
falls down-stairs and breaks his leg has not noticed the tiny spot of
candle grease which made the polished step so slippery just where he
trod.



XIX.


There were great rejoicings when it was known in Pera that Alexander
Patoff had been found. His disappearance had furnished the gossips with
a subject of conversation during many weeks, and his coming back revived
the whole story, with the addition of a satisfactory ending. In
consideration of the fact that Laleli Khanum was dead, Count Ananoff
thought it best to take no official notice of the matter. To treat it
diplomatically would be useless, he said. Alexander had fallen a victim
to his own folly, and though the penalty had been severe, it was
impossible to hold the Ottoman government responsible for what Patoff
had suffered, now that the Khanum had departed this life. Alexander
received permission to take three months' leave to recruit his health
before returning to his regiment, and he resolved to spend a part of the
time in Constantinople, after which his mother promised to accompany him
to St. Petersburg.

The Carvels had very soon made the acquaintance of the small but
brilliant society of which the diplomatic corps constituted the chief
element; and if anything had been needed to make them thoroughly
popular, their near connection with the young man whose story was in
every one's mouth would alone have sufficed to surround them with
interest. The adventure was told with every conceivable variety of
detail, and Alexander was often called upon to settle disputes as to
what had happened to him. He was ready enough at all times to play the
chief part in a drawing-room, and delighted in being questioned by grave
old gentlemen, as well as by inquisitive young women. The women admired
him for his beauty, his grace and brilliancy, and especially for the
expression of his eyes, which they declared in a variety of languages to
be absolutely fascinating. The men were interested in his story, and
envied him the additional social success which he obtained as the hero
of so strange an adventure. Some people admired and praised his devotion
to his mother, which they said was most touching, whatever that may
mean. Others said that he had an angelic disposition, flavored by a dash
of the devil, which saved him from being goody; and this criticism of
his character conveyed some meaning to the minds of those who uttered
it. People have a strange way of talking about their favorites, and when
the praise they mean to bestow is not faint, the expression of it is apt
to be feeble and involved.

Pera is a gay place, for when a set of men and women are temporarily
exiled from their homes to a strange country, where they do not find the
society of a great capital, they naturally seek amusement and pursue it;
creating among themselves those pastimes which in the great European
cities others so often provide for them. Politically, also,
Constantinople is a very important place to most of the powers, who
choose their representatives for the post from among the cleverest men
they can find; and I will venture to say that there is scarcely a court
in the world where so many first-rate diplomatists are gathered together
as are to be met with among the missions to the Sublime Porte. Diplomacy
in Constantinople has preserved something of the character it had all
over the world fifty years ago. Personal influence is of far greater
importance when negotiations are to be undertaken with a half-civilized
form of administration, which is carried on chiefly by persons of
imperfect education, but of immense natural talent for intrigue. The
absence of an hereditary nobility in Turkey, and the extremely
democratic nature of the army and the civil service, make it possible
for men of the lowest birth to attain to the highest power. The immense
and complicated bureaucracy is not in the hands of any one class of the
people; its prizes are won by men of all sorts and conditions, who
continue to pursue their own interests and fortunes with undiminished
energy, when they ought to be devoting their whole powers to the service
of the country. Their power is indeed checked by the centralization of
all the executive faculties in the person of the sovereign. Without the
Sultan's signature the minister of war cannot order a gun to be cast in
the arsenal of Tophanè, the minister of marine cannot buy a ton of coal
for the ironclads which lie behind Galata bridge in the Golden Horn, the
minister of foreign affairs cannot give a reply to an ambassador, nor
can the minister of justice avail himself of the machinery of the law.
Every smallest act must be justified by the Sultan's own signature, and
the chief object of all diplomacy from without, and of all personal
intrigue from within, is to obtain this imperial consent to measures
suggested by considerations of private advantage or public necessity.
The Ottoman Empire may be described as an irregular democracy, whose
acts are all subject to the veto of an absolute autocrat. The officials
pass their lives in proposing, and his Majesty very generally spends his
time in opposing, all manner of schemes, good, bad, and indifferent. The
contradictory nature of the system produces the anomalous position
occupied by the Ottoman Empire in Europe.

The fact that there is no aristocracy and the seclusion of women among
the Mussulmans are the chief reasons why there is no native society, in
our sense of the word. A few of the great Greek families still survive,
descendants of those Fanariotes whose ancestors had played an important
part in the decadence of the Eastern Empire. A certain number of
Armenians who have gained wealth and influence follow more or less
closely the customs of the West. But beyond these few there cannot be
said to be many houses of the social kind. Two or three pashas, of
European origin, and Christians by religion, mix with their families in
the gayety of Pera and the Bosphorus. A few Turkish officers, and
Prussian officers in Turkish service, show their brilliant uniforms in
the ball-rooms, and occasionally some high official of the Porte appears
at formal receptions; but on the whole the society is diplomatic, and
depends almost entirely upon the diplomatists for its existence and for
its diversions. The lead once given, the old Greek aristocrats have not
been behindhand in following it; but their numbers are small, and the
movement and interest in Pera, or on the Bosphorus, centre in the great
embassies, as they do nowhere else in the world.

Small as the society is, it is, nevertheless exceedingly brilliant and
very amusing. Intimacies grow up quickly, and often become lasting
friendships when fostered by such influences. Every one knows every one
else, and every one meets everybody else at least once a week. The
arrival of a new secretary is expected with unbounded interest. The
departure of one who has been long in Constantinople is mourned as a
public loss. Occasionally society is convulsed to its foundations by the
departure of an ambassador to whom every one has been so long accustomed
that he has come to be regarded as one of the fathers of the community,
whose hospitality every one has enjoyed, whose tact and knowledge of the
world have been a source of satisfaction to his colleagues in many a
diplomatic difficulty, and whose palace in Pera is associated in the
minds of all with many hours of pleasure and with much delightful
intercourse. He goes, and society turns out in a body to see him off.
The occasion is like a funeral. People send hundreds of baskets of
flowers. There is an address, there are many leave-takings. Once, at
least, I remember seeing two thirds of the people shedding
tears,--genuine wet tears of sorrow. And there was good reason for their
grief. In such communities as the diplomatic colony in Pera, people
understand the value of those who not only do more than their share in
contributing to the pleasantness of life, but who possess in an
abundant degree those talents which delight us in individuals, and those
qualities which are dear to us in friends. It would be easy to write a
book about society in Pera, and it would be a pleasant book. But these
are not the days of Samuel Pepys; we have hardly passed the age of Mr.
George Ticknor.

In a short time after their arrival, and after the reappearance of
Alexander Patoff, the Carvels knew everybody, and everybody knew them.
Each member of the party found something to praise and some one to like.
John Carvel was soon lost in admiration of Lord Mavourneen, while Mrs.
Carvel talked much with the English missionary bishop of Western
Kamtchatka, who happened to be spending a few days at the embassy. She
asked him many questions concerning the differences between Armenian
orthodox, Armenian catholic, Greek orthodox, and Russian orthodox; and
though his lordship found a great deal to say on the subject, I am bound
to allow that he was almost as much puzzled as herself when brought face
to face in the reality with such a variety of sects. Chrysophrasia had
not come to the East for nothing, either. She meant to indulge what John
called her fancy for pots and pans and old rags; in other words, she
intended to try her luck in the bazaar, and with the bloodhound's scent
of the true collector she detected by instinct the bricabrac hunters of
society. There is always a goodly number of them wherever antiquities
are to be found, and Chrysophrasia was hailed by those of her persuasion
with the mingled delight and jealousy which scientific bodies feel when
a new scientist appears upon the horizon.

As for Hermione, she created a great sensation, and the hearts of many
secretaries palpitated in the most lively manner when she first entered
the ball-room of one of the embassies, two days after her arrival. The
astonishment was great when it was known that she was Paul Patoff's own
cousin; and when it was observed that Paul was very often with her the
cry went up that he had fallen in love at last. Thereupon all the women
who had said that he was a bore, a monster, a statue, and a piece of
ice, immediately declared that there must be something in him, after
all, and began to talk to him whenever they got a chance. Some
disappointment was felt, too, when it was observed that Alexander Patoff
also showed a manifest preference for the society of his beautiful
cousin, and wise old ladies said there would be trouble. Everybody,
however, received the addition to society with open arms, and hoped that
the Carvels' visit might be prolonged for at least a whole year.

Many of these comments reached my ears, and the remarks concerning
Alexander's growing attachment for Hermione startled me, and chilled me
with a sense of evil to come. I opened my eyes and watched, as every one
else was doing, and in a short time I came to the conclusion that public
opinion was right. It was very disagreeable to me to admit it, but I
soon saw that there was no doubt that Alexander was falling in love with
his cousin. I saw, too, what others who knew them less well did not see:
Madame Patoff exercised all her ingenuity in giving her favorite son
opportunities of seeing Hermione alone. It was very easy to do this, and
she did it in the most natural way; she affected to repent bitterly of
her injustice to Paul, and took delight in calling him to her side, and
keeping him with her as long as possible. Sometimes she would make him
stay an hour by her side at a party, going over and over the strange
story of Alexander's imprisonment, and asking him questions again and
again, until he grew weary and absent, and answered her with rather
incoherent phrases, or in short monosyllables not always to the point.
Then at last, when she saw that she could keep him no longer, she would
let him go, asking him to forgive her for being so importunate, and
explaining as an excuse that she could never hear enough of a story that
had ended so happily. Meanwhile Alexander had found ample opportunity
for talking with Hermione, and had made the most of his time.

I have said that I had always been very fond of the young girl, and I
thought that I understood her character well enough; but I find it hard
to understand the phases through which she passed after she first met
Alexander. I believe she loved Paul very sincerely from the first, and I
know that she contemplated the prospect of marrying him at no distant
time. But I am equally sure that she did not escape the influence of
that wonderful fascination which Alexander exercised over everybody. If
it is possible to explain it at all, which is more than doubtful, I
should think that it might be accounted for on some such theory as this.
Hermione was negative as compared with Paul, but in comparison with
Alexander she was positive. It is clear that if this were so she must
have experienced two totally different sets of impressions, according as
she was with the one or the other of the brothers.

To define more clearly what I mean, I will state this theory in other
words. Paul Patoff was a very masculine and dominating man. Hermione
Carvel was a young girl, who resembled her strong, sensible, and manly
father far more than her meek and delicate mother. Though she was still
very young, there was much in her which showed the determined will and
energetic purpose which a man needs to possess more than a woman.
Alexander Patoff, on the other hand, without being effeminate, was
intensely feminine. He had fine sensibilities, he had quick intuitions,
he was capricious and womanly in his ideas. It follows that, in the
scale of characters, Hermione held the mean between the two brothers.
Compared with Paul's powerful nature, her qualities were those of a
woman; in comparison with Alexander's delicate organization of mind,
Hermione's character was more like that of a man. The effect of this
singular scale of personalities was, that when she found herself
alternately in the society of the two brothers she felt as though she
were alternately two different women. To a man entering a house on a
bitter winter's night the hall seems comfortably warm; but it seems
cold to a man who has been sitting over a fire in a hermetically sealed
study.

Now Hermione had loved Paul when he was practically the only man of
those she had ever known intimately whom she believed it possible to
love at all. But she had seen very little of the world, and had known
very few men. Her first recollections of society were indistinct, and no
one individual had made any more impression upon her than another,
perhaps because she was in reality not very impressionable. But Paul was
preëminently a man able to impress himself upon others when he chose. He
had come to Carvel Place, had loved his cousin, and she had returned his
love with a readiness which had surprised herself. It was genuine in its
way, and she knew that it was; nor could she doubt that Paul was in
earnest, since a word from her had sufficed to make him curtail his
visit, and go to the ends of the earth to find his brother. Hermione
more than once wished that she had never spoken that word.

She now entered upon a new phase of her life, she saw a new sort of
society, and she met a man who upset in a moment all her convictions
about men in general. The result of all this novelty was that she began
to look at life from a different point of view. Alexander amused her,
and at the same time he made her feel of more importance in her own
eyes. He talked well, but he made her fancy that she herself talked
better. His thoughts were subtle, though not always logical, and his
quick instincts gave him an immense advantage over people of slower
intelligence. He knew all this himself, perhaps; at all events, he used
his gifts in the cleverest possible way. He possessed the power to
attract Hermione without dominating her; in other words, he made her
like him of her own free will.

She liked him very much, and she felt that there was no harm in it. He
was the brother of her future husband, so that she easily felt it a duty
to like him, as well as a pleasure. Alexander himself affected to treat
her with a sort of cousinly-brotherly affection, and spoke always of
Paul with the greatest respect, when he spoke of him at all; but he
manifestly sought opportunities of expressing his affection, and avoided
all mention of Paul when not absolutely necessary. The position was
certainly a difficult one, but he managed it with the tact of a woman
and the daring of a man. I have always believed that he was really fond
of Hermione; for I cannot imagine him so vile as to attempt to take her
from Paul, when Paul had done so much towards liberating him from his
prison. But whatever were his motives or his feelings, it was evident to
me that he was making love to her in good earnest, that the girl was
more interested in him than she supposed, and that Madame Patoff was
cunningly scheming to break off the match with Paul in order to marry
Hermione to Alexander.

Balsamides had of course become a friend of the family, after the part
he had played in effecting Alexander's escape, and in his own way I
think he watched the situation when he got a chance with as much
interest as I myself. One evening we were sitting in his rooms, about
midnight, talking, as we talked eternally, upon all manner of subjects.

"Griggs," said he, suddenly changing the topic of our conversation, "it
is a great pity we ever took the trouble to find Alexander. I often wish
he were still lying in that pleasant den in Laleli's garden."

"It would be better for every one concerned, except himself, if he
were," I answered.

"I detest the fellow's face. If it were not for his mustache, he might
pass for a woman anywhere."

"He is as beautiful as an angel," I said, wishing to give him his due.

"What business have men with such beauty as that?" asked Gregorios,
scornfully. "I would rather look like a Kurd hamál than like Alexander
Patoff. He is spoiling Paul's life. Not that I care!" he added,
shrugging his shoulders.

"No," I said, "it is none of our business. I liked him at first, I
confess, and I thought that Alexander and Miss Carvel would make a very
pretty couple. But I like him less the more I see of him. However, he
will soon be going back to his regiment, and we shall hear no more of
him."

"His leave is not over yet," answered my friend. "A fellow like that can
do a deal of harm in a few weeks."

Gregorios is a man of violent sympathies and antipathies, though no one
would suppose it from his cold manner and general indifference. But I
know him better than I have known most men, and he is less reticent with
me than with the generality of his friends. It was impossible to say
whether he took enough interest in the Carvels or in Paul to attempt to
influence their destiny, but I was sure that if he crossed Alexander's
path the latter would get the worst of it, and I mentally noted the fact
in summing up Paul's chances.

At that time nothing had openly occurred which suggested the possibility
of a rupture of the unacknowledged engagement between Paul and Hermione.
Paul several times told her that he wished to speak formally to John
Carvel, and obtain his consent to the marriage; but Hermione advised him
to wait a little longer, arguing that she herself had spoken, and that
there was therefore no concealment about the matter. The longer they
waited, she said, the more her father would become accustomed to the
idea, and the more he would learn to like Paul, so that in another month
there would be no doubt but that he would gladly give his consent. But
Paul himself was not satisfied. His mother's conduct irritated him
beyond measure, and he began seriously to suspect her of wishing to make
trouble. He was no longer deceived by her constant show of affection for
himself, for she continued always to make it most manifest just when it
prevented him from talking with Hermione. Alexander, too, treated him as
he had not done before, with a deference and a sort of feline softness
which inspired distrust. Two years ago Paul would have been the first to
expect foul play from his brother, and would have been upon his guard
from the beginning; but Paul himself was changed, and had grown more
merciful in his judgment of others. He found it hard to persuade himself
that Alexander really meant to steal Hermione's love; and even when he
began to suspect the possibility of such a thing, he believed that he
could treat the matter lightly enough. Nevertheless, Hermione continued
to dissuade him from going to her father, and he yielded to her advice,
though much against his will. He found himself in a situation which to
his conscience seemed equivocal. He knew from what John Carvel had
written to me that his suit was not likely to meet with any serious
opposition; he understood that John expected him to speak, and he began
to fancy that his future father-in-law looked at him inquiringly from
time to time, as though anticipating a question, and wondering why it
was not asked.

One day he came to see me, and found me alone. Gregorios had gone to the
palace, and I have no doubt that Paul, who knew his habits, had chosen a
morning for his visit when he was certain that Balsamides would not be
at home. He looked annoyed and almost nervous, as he sat down in silence
and began to smoke.

"Anything wrong?" I asked.

"I hardly know," he replied. "I am very uncomfortable. I am in a very
disagreeable situation."

I was silent. I did not want to invite his confidence, and if he had
come to tell me anything about himself, it was better to let him tell it
in his own way.

"I am in a very disagreeable position," he repeated slowly. "I want to
ask your advice."

"That is always a rash thing to do," I replied.

"I do not care. I must confide in you, as I did once before, but this
time I only want your advice. My position is intolerable. I feel every
day that I ought to ask Mr. Carvel to give me his daughter, and yet I
cannot do it."

"Why not? It is certainly your duty," said I.

"Because Miss Carvel objects," he answered, with sudden energy. His
voice sounded almost fierce as he spoke.

"Do you mean that she has not accepted"----

"I do not know what I mean, nor what she means, either!" exclaimed Paul,
rising, and beginning to pace the floor.

"My dear Patoff," I said, "you made a grave mistake in making me find
your brother. Excuse my abruptness, but that is my opinion."

He turned suddenly upon me, and his face was very pale, while his eyes
gleamed disagreeably and his lip trembled.

"So you have noticed that, too," he said in a low voice. "Well--go on!
What do you advise me to do? How am I to get him out of the way?"

"There can be no doubt that Balsamides would advise you to cut his
throat," I replied. "As for me, I advise you to wait, and see what comes
of it. He must soon go home and rejoin his regiment."

"Wait!" exclaimed Paul impatiently. "Wait! Yes,--and while I am waiting
he will be working, and he will succeed! With that angel's face of his,
he will certainly succeed! Besides, my mother will help him, as you
know."

"Look here," said I. "Either Miss Carvel loves you, or she does not. If
she does, she will not love your brother. If she does not love you, you
had better not marry her. That is the reasonable view."

"No doubt,--no doubt. But I do not mean to be reasonable in that way.
You forget that I love her. The argument might have some weight."

"Not much. After all, why do you love her? You do not know her well."

Paul stared at me as though he thought I were going mad. I dare say that
I must have appeared to him to be perfectly insane. But I was
disconcerted by the gravity of the situation, and I believed that he had
a bad chance against Alexander. It was wiser to accustom his mind to the
idea of failure than to flatter him with imaginary hopes of success. A
man in love is either a hero or a fool; heroes who fail are generally
called fools for their pains, and fools who succeed are sometimes called
heroes. Paul stared, and turned away in silence.

"You do not seem to have any answer ready," I observed. "You say you
love a certain lady. Is there any reason, in the nature of things, why
some one else should not love her at the same time? Then it follows that
the most important point is this,--she must love you. If she does not,
your affection is wasted. I am not an old man, but I am far from being a
young one, and I have seen much in my time. You may analyze your
feelings and those of others, when in love, as much as you please, but
you will not get at any other result. Unless a woman loves you, it is of
very little use that you love her."

"What in the world are you talking about, Griggs?" asked Paul, whose
ideas, perhaps, did not coincide with mine. "What can you know about
love? You are nothing but a hardened old bachelor; you never loved a
woman in your life, I am sure."

I was much struck by the truth of this observation, and I held my peace.
A cannibal cannot be expected to understand French cooking.

"I tell you," continued Paul, "that Miss Carvel has promised to marry
me, and I constantly speak to her of our marriage."

"But does she speak to you of it?" I asked. "I fancy that she never
alludes to it except to tell you not to go to her father."

In his turn Paul was silent, and bent his brows. He must have been half
distracted, or he would not have talked to me as he did. I never knew a
less communicative man.

"This is a very delicate matter," I said presently. "You ask my advice;
I will give you the best I can. Do one of two things. Either go to Mr.
Carvel without his daughter's permission, or else fight it out as you
can until your brother goes. Then you will have the field to yourself."

"The difficulty lies in the choice," said Paul.

"The choice depends upon your own state of mind, and upon your strength,
or rather upon the strength of your position. If Miss Carvel has
promised to marry you, I think you have a right to push matters as fast
as you can."

"I will," said Paul. "Good-by."

He left me at once, and I began to reflect upon what had passed. It
seemed to me that he was foolish and irrational, altogether unlike
himself. He had asked my advice upon a point in which his own judgment
would serve him better than mine, and it was contrary to his nature to
ask advice at all in such matters. He was evidently hard pressed and
unhappy, and I wished I could help him, but it was impossible. He was in
a dilemma from which he could issue only by his own efforts; and
although I was curious to see what he would do, I felt that I was not in
a position to suggest any very definite line of action. I looked idly
out of the window at the people who passed, and I began to wonder
whether even my curiosity to see the end could keep me much longer in
Pera. The crowd jostled and elbowed itself in the narrow way, as usual.
The fez, in every shade of red, and in every condition of newness,
shabbiness, and mediocrity, with tassel and without, rocked, swayed,
wagged, turned, and moved beneath my window till I grew sick of the
sight of it, and longed to see a turban, or a tall hat, or no hat at
all,--anything for a change of head-dress. I left the window rather
wearily, and took up one of the many novels which lay on the table,
pondering on the probable fate of Paul Patoff's love for his cousin.



XX.


Hermione found herself placed in quite as embarrassing a position as
Paul, and before long she began to feel that she had lost herself in a
sort of labyrinth of new sensations. She hardly trusted herself to think
or to reflect, so confusing were the questions which constantly
presented themselves to her mind. It seems an easy matter for a woman to
say, I love this man, or, I love that man, and to know that she speaks
truly in so saying. With some natures first love is a fact, a certainty
against which there is no appeal, and beside which there is no
alternative. To see, with them, is practically to love, and to love once
is to love forever. We may laugh over "love at first sight," as we call
it, but history and every-day life afford so many instances of its
reality that we cannot deny its existence. But the conditions in which
it is found are rare. To love each other at first sight, both the
persons must be impulsive; each must find in the other exactly what each
has long sought and most earnestly desired, and each must recognize the
discovery instantaneously. I suppose, also, that unless such love lasts
it does not deserve the name; but in order that it may be durable it is
necessary that the persons should realize that they have not been
deceived in their estimate of each other, that they should possess in
themselves the capacity for endurance, that their tastes should change
little and their hearts not at all. People who are at once very
impulsive and very enduring are few in the world and very hard to mate;
wherefore love at first sight, but of a lasting nature, is a rare
phenomenon.

Hermione did not belong to this class, and she had certainly not loved
Paul during the first few days of their acquaintance. Her nature was
relatively slow and hard to rouse. A season in society had produced no
impression upon her; and if Paul had stayed only a week, or even a
fortnight, at Carvel Place he might have fared no better than all the
other men who had been presented to her, had talked and danced with her,
and had gone away, leaving her life serenely calm as before. But Paul
had been very assiduous, and had lost no time. Moreover, he loved her,
and was in earnest about it; so that when, on that memorable day in the
park, he had spoken at last, she had accepted his speech and had sealed
her answer.

She believed that she loved him with all her heart, but she was new to
love, and the waking sentiment was not yet a passion. It was only a
sensation, and though its strength was great enough to influence
Hermione's life, it had not yet acquired any great stability. A more
impulsive nature would have been more suddenly moved, but Hermione's
love needed time for its development, and the time had been very short.
Since she had admitted that she loved Paul, she had not seen him until
the eve of his brother's reappearance; and now, owing to Madame Patoff's
skillful management, she talked with Alexander more frequently than with
Paul. Alexander was apparently doing his best to make her love him, and
the world said that he was succeeding. Hermione herself was startled
when she tried to understand her own feelings, for she saw that a great
change had taken place in her, and she could neither account for it nor
assure herself where it would end. It would be unjust to blame her, or
to say that she was unfaithful. She did not waver in her determination
to marry Paul, but she tried to put it off as long as possible,
struggling to clear away her doubts, and trying hard to feel that she
was acting rightly. After all, it is easy to comprehend the confusion
which arises in a young girl's mind when placed in such a position. We
say too readily that a woman who wavers and hesitates is treating a man
badly. Men are so quick to jump at the conclusion that women love them
that they resent violently the smallest signs of hesitation in the other
sex. They do not see that a woman needs time to decide, just as a man
does; and they think it quite enough that they themselves have made up
their minds, as if women existed only to submit themselves to the choice
of men, and had no manner of right to question that choice when once
made.

Paul could not imagine why Hermione hesitated, and she herself would
certainly have refused to account for the delay she caused, by admitting
that Alexander had made an impression upon her heart. But she felt the
charm the man exercised, and her life was really influenced by it. The
strange adventure which had so long kept him a prisoner in Laleli's
house lent him an atmosphere of romantic interest, and his own nature
increased the illusion. The brilliant young officer, with his almost
supernatural beauty, his ready tongue, his sweet voice, and his dashing
grace, was well calculated to make an impression upon any woman; to a
young girl who had grown up in very quiet surroundings, who had hitherto
regarded Paul Patoff as the ideal of all that a man should be, the
soldier brother seemed like a being from another world. At the same time
Hermione was reaching the age when she could enjoy society, because she
began to feel at home in it, because the first dazzling impression of it
had given way to a quieter appreciation of what it offered, and lastly
because she herself was surrounded by many admirers, and had become a
personage of more importance than she had ever thought possible before.
Under such circumstances a young girl's impressions change very rapidly.
She feels the disturbing influence and enjoys the moment, but while it
lasts she feels also that she is unfit to decide upon the greatest
question of her life. She needs time, because she can employ very little
of the time she has in serious thought, and because she doubts whether
all her previous convictions are not shaken to their foundations. She
dreads a mistake, and is afraid that in speaking too quickly she may
speak untruly. It is the desire to be honest which forbids her to
continue in the course she had chosen before this new phase of her life
began, or to come to any new decision involving immediate action,
especially immediate marriage.

Herein lies the great danger to a young girl who has promised to marry a
man before she has seen anything of the world, and who suddenly begins
to see a great deal of the world before the marriage actually takes
place. She is just enough attached to the man to feel that she loves
him, but the bonds are not yet so close as to make her know that his
love is altogether the dominating influence of her life. Unless this
same man whom she has chosen stands out as conspicuously in the new
world she has entered as in the quiet home she has left, there is great
danger that he may fall in her estimation; and in those early stages of
love, estimation is a terribly important element. By estimation I do not
mean esteem. There is a subtle difference between the two; for though
our estimation may be high or low, our esteem is generally high. When a
young girl is old enough to be at home in society, she sets a value on
every man, and perhaps on every woman, whom she meets. They take their
places in the scale she forms, and their places are not easily changed.
Among them the man she has previously promised to marry almost
inevitably finds his rank, and she is fortunate if he is among the
highest; for if he is not, she will not fail to regret that he does not
possess some quality or qualities which she supposes to exist in those
men whom she ranks first among her acquaintance. Where criticism begins,
sympathy very often ends, and with it love. Then, if she is honest, a
woman owns that she has made a mistake, and refuses to abide by her
engagement, because she feels that she cannot make the man happy. Or if
her ideas of faith forbid her from doing this, she marries him in spite
of her convictions, and generally makes him miserable for the rest of
his days. When a girl throws a man over, as the phrase goes, the world
sets up a howl, and vows that she has treated him very badly; but it
always seems to me that by a single act of courage she has freed herself
and the man who loves her from the fearful consequences of a marriage
where all the love would have been on one side, and all the criticism on
the other. It is not always a girl's own fault when she does not know
her own mind, and when she has discovered her mistake she is wise if she
refuses to persist in it. There is more to be said in favor of breaking
off engagements than is generally allowed, and there is usually far too
much said against the woman who has the courage to pursue such a course.

In comparing the two brothers, as she undoubtedly did, Hermione was not
aware that she was making any real comparison between them. What she
felt and understood was that when she was with Paul she was one person,
and when she was with Alexander she was quite another; and the knowledge
of this fact confused her, and made her uncertain of herself. With Paul
she was, in her own feelings, the Hermione he had known in England; with
Alexander she was some one else,--some one she did not recognize, and
who should have been called by another name. Until she could unravel
this mystery, and explain to herself what she felt, she was resolved not
to take any further steps in regard to her marriage.

Pera, at this time, was indulging itself in its last gayeties before the
beginning of the summer season, when every one who is able to leave the
town goes up the Bosphorus, or to the islands. The weather was growing
warm, but still the dancing continued with undiminished vigor. Among
other festivities there was to be a masked ball, a species of amusement
which is very rare in Constantinople; but somebody had suggested the
idea, one of the great embassies had taken it up, and at last the day
was fixed and the invitations were issued. It was to be a great affair,
and everybody went secretly about the business of composing costumes
and disguises. There was much whispering and plotting and agreeing
together in schemes of mystification. The evening came, everybody went,
and the ball was a great success.

Hermione had entirely hidden her costume with a black domino, which is
certainly the surest disguise which anyone can wear. Its wide folds
reached to the ground, and completely hid her figure, while even her
hands were rendered unrecognizable by loose black gloves. Paul had been
told what she was to wear; but he probably knew her by some sign, agreed
upon beforehand, from all the other black dominos; for a number of other
ladies had chosen the same over-garment to hide the brilliant costumes
until the time came for unmasking. He came up to her immediately, and
offered his arm, proposing to walk through the rooms before dancing; but
Hermione would not hear of it, saying that if she were seen with him at
first she would be found out at once.

"Do not be unreasonable," said she, as she saw the disappointed look on
his face. "I want to mystify ever so many people first. Then I will
dance with you as much as you like."

"Very well," said Paul, rather coldly. "When you want me, come to me."

Hermione nodded, and moved away, mixing with the crowd under the
hundreds of lights in the great ball-room. Paul sighed, and stood by the
door, caring little for what went on. He was not a man who really took
pleasure in society, though he had cultivated his social faculties to
the utmost, as being necessary to his career. The fact that all the
ladies were masked dispensed him for the time from the duty of making
the round of the room and speaking to all his acquaintances, and he was
glad of it. But Hermione was bent upon enjoying her first masked ball,
and all the freedom of moving about alone. She spoke to many men whom
she knew, using a high, squeaking voice which in no way recalled her
natural tones. In the course of half an hour she found Alexander Patoff
talking earnestly with a lady in a white domino, whom she recognized, to
her surprise, as her aunt Chrysophrasia. Alexander evidently had no idea
of her identity, for he was speaking in low and passionate tones, while
Miss Dabstreak, who seemed to enter into the spirit of the mystification
with amazing readiness, replied in the conventional squeak. She had
concealed her hands in the loose sleeves of her domino, and as she was
of about the same height as Hermione, it was absolutely impossible to
prove that she was not Hermione herself.

"Hermione," exclaimed Alexander, just as the real Hermione came up to
him, "I cannot bear to hear you talk in that voice! What is the use of
keeping up this ridiculous disguise? Do you not see that I am in
earnest?"

"Perfectly," squeaked Chrysophrasia. "So am I. But somebody might hear
my natural voice, you know."

Hermione started, and drew back a little. It was a strange position, for
Alexander was evidently under the impression that he was making love to
herself, and her aunt was amused by drawing him on. She hesitated, not
knowing what she ought to do. It was clear that, unless she made herself
known to him, he might remain under the impression that she had accepted
his love-making. She waited to see what would happen. But Chrysophrasia
had probably detected her, for presently the white domino moved quickly
away towards the crowd. Alexander sprang forward, and would have
followed, but Hermione crossed his path, and laid her hand on his
sleeve.

"Will you give me your arm, Alexander?" she said, quietly, in her
natural way.

He stopped short, stared at her, and then broke into a short, half-angry
laugh. But he gave her his arm, and walked by her side, with an
expression of bewilderment and annoyance on his beautiful face. Hermione
was too wise to say that she had overheard the conversation, and
Alexander was ashamed to own that he had made a mistake, and taken some
one else for her. But by making herself known Hermione had effectually
annulled whatever false impression Chrysophrasia had made upon him.

"Do you know who that lady in the white domino is, with whom I was
talking a moment ago? Did you see her?" he asked, rather nervously.

"It is our beloved aunt Chrysophrasia," said Hermione, calmly.

"Good heavens! Aunt Chrysophrasia!" exclaimed Alexander, in some horror.

"Why 'good heavens'?" inquired Hermione. "Have you been doing anything
foolish? I am sure you have been making love to her. Tell me about it."

"There is nothing to tell. But what a wonderful disguise! How many
dances will you give me? May I have the cotillon?"

"You may have a quadrille," answered Hermione.

"A quadrille, two waltzes, and the cotillon. That will do very well. As
nobody knows you in that domino, we can dance as often as we please, and
you will only be seen with me in the cotillon. What is your costume? I
am sure it is something wonderful."

"How you run on!" exclaimed the young girl. "You do not give one the
time to refuse one thing before you take another!"

"That is the best way, and you know it," answered Alexander, laughing.
"A man should never give a woman time to refuse. It is the greatest
mistake that can be imagined."

"Did aunt Chrysophrasia refuse to dance with you?" inquired Hermione.

Alexander bit his lip, and a faint color rose in his transparent skin.

"Aunt Chrysophrasia is a hard-hearted old person," he replied,
evasively; but he almost shuddered at the thought that under the white
domino there had lurked the green eyes and the faded, sour face of his
æsthetic relative.

"To think that even she should have resisted you!" exclaimed Hermione,
wickedly.

"Better she than you," said Alexander, lowering his tone as they passed
near a group of persons who chattered loudly in feigned voices. "Better
she than you, dear cousin," he repeated, gently. "To be refused anything
by you"----

"They do things very well here," interrupted Hermione, pretending not to
hear. "They have such magnificent rooms, and the floor is so good."

"Hermione, why do you"----

"Because," said Hermione quickly, before he could finish his sentence,
"because you say too much, cousin Alexander. I interrupt you because you
go too far, and because the only possible way of checking you is to cut
you short."

"And why must you check me? Am I rude or rough with you? Do I say
anything that you should not hear? You know that I love you; why may I
not tell you so? I know. You will say that Paul has spoken before me.
But do you love Paul? Hermione, can you own to yourself that you love
him,--not as a brother, but as the man you would choose to marry? He
does not love you as I love you."

"Hush!" exclaimed the young girl. "You must not. I will go away and
leave you."

"I will follow you."

"Why will you torment me so?" Perhaps her tone of voice did not express
all the annoyance she meant to show, for Alexander did not desist. He
only changed his manner, growing suddenly as soft and yielding as a
girl.

"I did not mean to annoy you," he said. "You know that I never mean to.
You must forgive me, you must be kind to me, Hermione. You have the
stronger position, and you should be merciful. How can I help saying
something of what I feel?"

"You should not feel it, to begin with," answered his cousin.

"Will you teach me how I may not love you?" His voice dropped almost to
a whisper, as he bent down to her and asked the question. But Hermione
was silent for a moment, not having any very satisfactory plan to
propose. Half reluctant, she sat down by him upon a sofa in the corner
of an almost empty room. There were tall plants in the windows, and the
light was softened by rose-colored shades.

"It must be a hard lesson to learn," said Alexander, speaking again.
"But if you will teach me, I will try and learn it; for I will do
anything you ask me. You say I must not love you, but I love you
already. When I am with you I am carried away, like a boat spinning down
the Neva in the springtime. Can the river stop itself in order that what
lives in it may not move any more? Can it say to the skiff, 'Go no
further,' when the skiff is already far from the shore, at the mercy of
the water?"

"The boatman must pull hard at his oars," laughed Hermione. "Have you
never seen a caïque pull through the Devil's Stream on the Bosphorus, at
Bala Hissar? It is hard work, but it generally succeeds."

"A man may fight against the devil, but he cannot struggle against what
he worships. Or, if he can, you must teach me how to do it, and give me
some weapon to fight with."

"You must rely on yourself for that. You must say, 'I will not,' and it
will be very easy. Besides," she added, with another laugh, in which
there was a rather nervous ring,--"besides, you know all this is only a
comedy, or a pastime. You are not in earnest."

"I wish I were not," answered Alexander, softly. "You tell me to rely
upon myself. I rely on you. I love you, and that makes you stronger than
me."

Hermione believed him, and perhaps she was right. She felt, and he made
her feel, that she dominated him, and could turn him whither she would.
Her pride was flattered, and though she promised herself that she would
make him give up his love for her by the mere exertion of a superior
common sense, she was conscious that the task was not wholly
distasteful. She enjoyed the sensation of being the stronger, of
realizing that Alexander was wholly at her feet and subject to her
commands. That he should have gradually grown so intimate as to speak so
freely to her is not altogether surprising. They were own cousins, and
called each other by their Christian names. They met daily, and were
often together for many consecutive hours, and Madame Patoff did her
best to promote this state of things. Hermione had become accustomed to
his devotion, for he had advanced by imperceptible stages. When he first
said that he loved her, she took it as she might have taken such an
expression from her brother,--as the exuberant expression of an
affection purely platonic, not to say brotherly. When he had repeated it
more earnestly, she had laughed at him, and he had laughed with her in a
way which disarmed all her suspicions. But each time that he said it he
laughed less, until she realized that he was not jesting. Then she
reproached herself a little for having let the intimacy grow, and
determined to persuade him by gentle means that he had made a mistake.
She felt that she was responsible for his conduct, because she had not
been wise enough to stop him at the outset, and she therefore felt also
that it would be unjust to make a violent scene, and that it was
altogether out of the question to speak to Paul about the matter. To
tell the truth, she was not sorry that it was out of the question, and
this was the most dangerous element in her intimacy with Alexander. When
a young woman who has not a profound experience of the world undertakes
to convince a man by sheer argument that he ought not to love her, the
result is likely to be unsatisfactory, and she stands less chance of
persuading than of being persuaded. A man who persuades a woman that
she is able to influence him, and that he is wholly at her mercy, has
already succeeded in making himself interesting to her; and she will not
readily abandon the exercise of her power, since she is provided with
the too plausible excuse that she is doing him good, and consequently is
herself doing right.

"I wish you would really listen to me, and take my advice," said
Hermione, after a pause. "There is so much that is good in you,--so much
that is far better than this foolish love-making."

Alexander Patoff smiled softly, and his brown eyes gazed dreamily at
hers, that just showed through the openings in the black domino.

"If there is anything good in me, you have put it there," he answered.
"Do not take it away; do not give me the physic of good advice."

"I think you need it more than usual to-night," said his cousin. "You
are more than usually foolish, you know."

"You are more than usually wise. But if you tell me to do anything
to-night, I will do it."

"Then go away and dance with some one else," laughed Hermione. To her
surprise, Alexander rose quietly, and with one gentle glance turned
away. Then she repented.

"Alexander!" she exclaimed, almost involuntarily.

"Yes," he answered, coming back, and seating himself again by her side.

"I did not tell you to come back," she said, amused at his docility.

"No--but I came," he replied. "You called me. I thought you had
forgotten something. Shall I go away again?"

"No. You may stay, if you will be good," said she, leaning back and
looking away from him.

"I promise. Besides, you admitted a moment ago that I was very good.
Perhaps I am too good, and that is the reason why you sent me away."

"I did not say you were good. I said there was some good in you. You
always take everything for granted."

"I will take all you grant," said he.

"I grant nothing. It is you who fancy that I do. You have altogether too
much imagination."

"I never need it with you, even if I have it," answered Alexander. "You
are infinitely beyond anything I ever imagined in my wildest dreams."

"So are you," laughed Hermione. "Only--it is in a different way."

"Why do you think I like you so much?" asked her cousin, suddenly
changing his tone.

"Because you ought not to," she answered without hesitation.

"Then you think that as soon as any one tells me that I should not like
a thing, I make up my mind to like it and to have it? No, that is not
the reason I love you."

"It was 'liking,' not 'loving,' a moment ago," observed Hermione.
"Please always say 'liking.' It is a much better word."

"Perhaps. It leaves more to the imagination, of which you say I have so
much. The reason I like you so much, Hermione, is because you are so
honest. You always say just what you mean."

"Yes. The difficulty lies in making you understand what I mean."

"As the Frenchman said when a man misunderstood him. You furnish me with
an argument; you are not bound to furnish me with an understanding. No,
I am afraid that would be asking the impossible. It is easier for a
woman to talk than for a man to know what she thinks."

"I thought you said I was honest. Please explain," returned Hermione.

"Honesty does not always carry conviction. I mean that you are evidently
most wonderfully honest, from your own point of view. If I could make my
opinion yours, everything would be settled very soon."

"In what way?"

"Why should I tell you? I have told you so often, and you will not
believe me. If I say it, you will send me away again. I do not say
it,--another proof of my goodness to-night."

"I am deeply sensible," answered Hermione, with a laugh. "Come, I will
give you one dance, and then you must go."

So they left their seat, and went into the ball-room just as the
musicians began to play Nur für Natur; and the enchanting strains of the
waltz carried them away in the swaying movement, and did them no manner
of good. Just such conversations had taken place before, and would take
place again so long as Hermione maintained the possibility of converting
Alexander to the platonic view of cousinly affection. But each time some
chance expression, some softer tone of voice, some warmer gleam of light
in the Russian's brown eyes, betrayed that he was gaining ground rather
than losing anything of the advantage he had already obtained.

Half an hour later Hermione laid her hand on Paul's arm, and looked up
rather timidly into his eyes through the holes in her domino. His
expression was very cold and hard, but it changed as he recognized her.

"At last," he said happily, as he led her away.

"At last," she echoed, with a little sigh. "Do you want to dance?" she
asked. "It is so hot; let us go and sit down somewhere."

Almost by accident they came to the place where Hermione had sat with
Alexander. There was no one there, and they installed themselves upon
the same sofa.

"I thought you were never coming," said Paul. "After all, what does it
matter whether people see us together or not? I never can understand
what amusement there is, after the first five minutes, in rushing about
in a domino and trying to mystify people."

"No," answered Hermione, "it is not very amusing. I would much rather
sit quietly and talk with some one I know and who knows me."

"I want to tell you something to-night, dear," said Paul, after a short
silence. "Do you mind if I tell you now?"

"No bad news?" asked Hermione, rather nervously.

"No. It is simply this: I have made up my mind that I must speak to your
father to-morrow. Do not be startled, darling. This position cannot
last. I am not acting an honorable part, and he expects me to ask him
the question. I know you have objected to my going to him for a long
time, but I feel that the thing must be done. There can be no good
objection to our marriage,--Mr. Carvel made Griggs understand that. Tell
me, is there any real reason why I should not speak?"

Hermione turned her head away. Under the long sleeves of her domino her
small hands were tightly clasped together.

"Is there any reason, dear?" repeated Paul, very gently. But as her
silence continued his lips set themselves firmly, and his face grew
slowly pale.

"Will you please speak, darling?" he said, in changed tones. "I am very
nervous," he added, with a short, harsh laugh.

"Oh--Paul! Don't!" cried Hermione. Her voice seemed to choke her as she
spoke. Then she took courage, and continued more calmly: "Please, please
wait a little longer,--it is such a risk!"

Paul laughed again, almost roughly.

"A risk! What risk? Your father has done all but give his formal
consent. What possible danger can there be?"

"No. Not from him,--it is not that!"

"Well, what is it? Hermione, what in the name of Heaven is the matter?
Speak, darling! Tell me what it is. I cannot bear this much longer."
Indeed, the man's suppressed passion was on the very point of breaking
out, and the blue light quivered in his eyes, while his face grew
unnaturally pale.

"Oh, Paul--I cannot tell you--you frighten me so," murmured Hermione in
broken tones. "Oh, Paul! Forgive me--forgive me!"

At that moment Gregorios Balsamides passed before their corner, a lady
in a red hood and a red mask leaning on his arm.

"Hush!" exclaimed Paul, under his breath, as the couple came near them.
But Gregorios only nodded familiarly to Paul, stared a moment at his
pale face, glanced at the black domino, and went on with his partner. "I
do not want to frighten you, dearest," continued Paul, when no one could
hear them. "And what have I to forgive? Do not be afraid, and tell me
what all this means."

"I must," answered Hermione, her strength returning suddenly. "I must,
or I should despise myself. You must not go to my father, Paul--because
I--I am not sure of myself."

She trembled visibly under her domino, as she spoke the last words
almost in a whisper, hesitating and yet forcing herself to tell the
truth. Paul glanced uneasily at the black drapery which veiled all her
head and figure, and with one hand he grasped the carved end of the
sofa, so that it cracked under the pressure. For some seconds there was
an awful silence, broken only by low sounds which told that Hermione was
crying.

"You mean--that you do not love me," said Paul at last, very slowly,
steadying his voice on every syllable.

The young girl shook her head, and tried to speak. But the words would
not come. Meanwhile the strong man's anger was slowly rising, very
slowly but very surely, so that Hermione felt it coming, as a belated
traveler on the sands sees the tide creeping nearer to the black cliff.

"Hermione," he said, very sternly, "if you mean that you are no longer
willing to marry me, say so plainly. I will forgive you if I can,
because I love you. But please do not trifle with me. I can bear the
worst, but I cannot bear waiting."

"Do not talk like that, Paul!" cried his cousin in an agonized voice,
but recovering her power of speech before the pent-up anger he seemed to
be controlling. "Let us wait, Paul; let us wait and be sure. I cannot
marry you unless I am sure that I love you as I ought to love you. I do
love you, but I feel that I could love you so much more--as--as I should
like to love my--the man I marry. Have patience,--please have patience
for a little while."

Paul's white lips opened and shut mechanically as he answered her.

"I am very patient. I have been patient for long. But it cannot last
forever. I believed you loved me and had promised to marry me. If you
have made a mistake, it is much to be regretted. But I must really beg
you to make up your mind as soon as possible."

"Oh, pray do not talk like that. You are so cold. I am so very unhappy!"

"What would you have me say?" asked Paul, his voice growing clearer and
harder with every word. "Will you answer me one question? Will you tell
me whether you have learned to care so much for another man that your
liking for him makes you doubt?"

"I am afraid"--She stopped, then suddenly exclaimed, "How can you ask me
such a question?"

"What are you afraid of?" inquired Paul, in the same hard tone. "You
always tell the truth. You will tell it now. Has any other man come
between you and me?"

It was of no use for her to hesitate. She could command Alexander and
give him any answer she chose, but Paul's strong nature completely
dominated her. She bent her head in assent, and the Yes she spoke was
almost inaudible.

"And you ask time to choose between us?" asked Paul, icily. "Yes, I
understand. You shall have the time,--as long as you please to remain
in Constantinople. I am much obliged to you for being so frank. May I
give you my arm to go into the next room?"

"How unkind you are!" said Hermione, making an effort to rise. But her
strength failed her, and she fell back into her seat. "Excuse me," she
faltered. "Please wait one moment,--I am not well."

Paul looked at her, and hesitated. But her weakness touched him, and he
spoke more gently as he turned to her.

"May I get you a glass of water, or anything?"

"Thanks, nothing. It will be over in a moment,--only a little
dizziness."

For a few seconds they remained seated in silence. Then Hermione turned
her head, and looked at her cousin's white face. Her small gloved hand
stole out from under her domino and rested on his arm. He took no notice
of the action; he did not even look at her.

"Paul," she said, very gently, "you will thank me some day for having
waited."

A contemptuous answer rose to his lips, but he was ashamed of it before
it was spoken, and merely raised his eyebrows as he answered in
perfectly monotonous tones:

"I believe you have done what you think best."

"Indeed I have," replied Hermione, rising to her feet.

He offered her his arm, and they went out together. But when supper-time
came, and with it the hour for unmasking, Hermione was not to be seen;
and Alexander, who had counted upon her half-given assent to dance the
cotillon with him, leaned disconsolately against a door, wondering
whether it could be worth while to sacrifice himself by engaging any one
in her place.

But Paul did not go home. He was too angry to be alone, and above all
too deeply wounded. Besides, his position required that he should stay
at least until supper was over, and it was almost a relief to move about
among the gorgeous costumes of all kinds which now issued from the
black, white, and red dominos, as a moth from the chrysalis. He spoke to
many people, saying the same thing to each, with the same mechanical
smile, as men do when they are obliged day after day to accomplish a
certain social task. But the effort was agreeable, and took off the
first keen edge of his wrath.

He had no need to ask the name of the man who had come between him and
the woman he loved. For weeks he had watched his brother and Hermione,
asking himself if their intimacy meant anything, and then driving away
the tormenting question, as though it contained something of disloyalty
to her. Now he remembered that for weeks this thing she had spoken must
have been in her mind, since she had always entreated him to wait a
little longer before speaking with her father. It had appeared such an
easy matter to her to wait; it was such a hard matter for him,--harder
than death it seemed now. For it was all over. He believed that she had
spoken her last word that night, and that in speaking of waiting still
longer she had only intended to make it less troublesome to break it
off. She had admitted that another man had come between them. Was
anything further needed? It followed, of course, that she loved this
other man--Alexander--better than himself. For the present he could see
only one side of the question, and he repeated to himself that all was
over, saying it again and again in his heart, as he went the rounds of
the room, asking each acquaintance he met concerning his or her plans
for the summer, commenting on the weather, and praising the successful
arrangement of the masked ball.

But Paul was ignorant of two things, in his present frame of mind. He
did not know that Hermione had been perfectly sincere in what she had
said, and he did not calculate upon his own nature. It was a simple
matter, in the impulse of the first moment, to say that all was at an
end, that he gave her up, even as she had rejected him, with a sort of
savage pleasure in the coldness of the words he spoke. He could not
imagine, after this interview, that he could ever think of her again as
his possible wife, and if the idea had presented itself he would have
cast it behind him as a piece of unpardonable weakness. All his former
cynical determination to trust only in what he could do himself, for the
satisfaction of his ambition, returned with renewed strength; and as he
shook hands with the people he met, he felt that he would never again
ask man or woman for anything which he could not take by force. He did
not know that in at least one respect his nature had changed, and that
the love he had lavished on Hermione was a deep-rooted passion, which
had grown and strengthened and spread in his hard character, as the
sculptor adapts the heavy iron framework in the body and limbs of a
great clay statue. In the first sudden revulsion of his feeling, he
thought he could pluck away his love and leave it behind him like an old
garment, and the general contempt with which he regarded his
surroundings after he left Hermione reminded him almost reassuringly of
his old self. If his old self still lived, he could live his old life as
before, without Hermione, and above all, without love. There was a
bitter comfort in the thought that once more he was to look at all
things, at success in everything, at his career, his aims both great and
small, surrounded by obstacles which could be overcome only by main
force, as prizes to be wrested from his fellows by his own unaided
exertions.

He had forgotten that Hermione had been the chiefest aim of his
existence for several months, and at the same time he did not realize
that he loved her in such a way as to make it almost impossible for him
to live without her. It was not in accordance with his character to
relinquish without a struggle, and a very desperate struggle, that for
which he had labored so long, and an outsider would have prophesied that
whosoever would take from Paul Patoff the woman he loved would find that
he had attempted a dangerous thing. Mere senseless anger does not often
last long, and before an hour had passed Paul began to feel those
suspicious little thrusts of pain in the breast and midriff which warn
us that we miss some one we love. For a long time he tried to persuade
himself that he was deceived, because he did not believe himself capable
of such weakness. But the feeling was unmistakable.

The dancing was at its height, for all those who did not mean to stay
until the end of the cotillon had gone home, so that the more distant
rooms were already deserted. Almost unconsciously Paul strayed to the
spot where he had sat with Hermione. He looked towards the sofa where
they had been seated, and he saw a strange sight.

Alexander Patoff was there, half sitting, half lying, on the small sofa,
unaware of his brother's presence. His face was turned away, and he was
passionately kissing the cushions,--the very spot against which
Hermione's head had rested. Paul stared stupidly at him for a moment, as
though not comprehending the action, which indeed was wild and
incomprehensible enough; then he seemed to understand, and strode
forward in bitter anger. His brother, he thought, had seen them there
together, had been told what had passed, and had chosen this passionate
way of expressing his joy and his gratitude to Hermione. Alexander heard
his brother's footsteps, and, starting, looked wildly round; then
recognizing Paul, he sprang to his feet, and a faint color mounted to
his pale cheeks.

"Fool!" cried Paul, bitterly, as he came forward. But Alexander had
already recovered himself, and faced him coolly enough.

"What is the matter? What do you mean?" he asked, contemptuously.

"You know very well what I mean," retorted his brother, fiercely. "You
know very well why you are making a fool of yourself,--kissing a heap of
cushions, like a silly schoolboy in love."

"My dear fellow, you are certainly quite mad. I waltzed too long just
now, and was dizzy. I was trying to get over it, that was all. My nerves
are not so sound in dancing as they were before I was caught in that
trap. Really, you have the most extraordinary ideas."

Paul was confused by the smooth lie. He did not believe his brother, but
he could not find a ready answer.

"You do not know who sat there a little while ago?" he asked, sternly.

"Not the remotest idea," replied Alexander. "Was it that adorable red
mask, who would not leave Balsamides even for a moment? Bah! You must
think me very foolish. Come along and have some supper before we go
home. I have no partner, and have had nothing to eat and very little to
drink."

Paul was obliged to be content with the answer; but he understood his
brother well enough to know that if there had been nothing to conceal,
Alexander would have been furious at the way in which he was addressed.
His conviction remained unchanged that his brother had known what
passed, and was so overcome with joy that he had kissed the sofa whereon
Hermione had sat. The two men left the room together, but Paul presently
slipped away, and went home.

Strange to say, what he had seen did not have the effect of renewing his
resentment against Hermione so much as of exciting his anger against his
brother. He now felt for the first time that though he might give her up
to another, he could not give her up to Alexander. The feeling was
perhaps only an excuse suggested by the real love for her which filled
him, but it was strongly mixed with pride, and with the old hostility
which during so many years had divided the two brothers.

To give her up, and to his own brother,--the thing was impossible, not
to be thought of for a moment. As he walked quickly home over the rough
stones of the Grande Rue, he realized all that it meant, and stopped
short, staring at the dusky houses. He was not a man of dramatic
instincts. He did not strike his forehead, nor stamp his foot, nor
formulate in words the resolution he made out there in the dark street.
He merely thrust his hands deeper into the pockets of his overcoat, and
walked on; but he knew from that moment that he would fight for
Hermione, and that his mood of an hour ago had been but the passing
effect of a sudden anger. He regretted his hard speech and bitter looks,
and he wished that he had merely assented to her proposal to wait, and
had said no more about it until the next day. Hermione might talk of not
marrying him, but he would marry her in spite of all objections, and
especially in spite of Alexander.

Had she spoken thoughtlessly? In the light of his stronger emotion it
seemed so to him, and it was long before he realized that she had
suffered almost as much in making this sacrifice to her honesty as he
had suffered himself. But she had indeed been in earnest, and had done
courageously a very hard thing. She was conscious that she had made a
great mistake, and she wanted to avert the consequences of it, if there
were to be any consequences, before it was too late. She had allowed
Alexander to become too fond of her, as their interview that evening had
shown; and though she knew that she did not love him, she knew also that
she felt a growing sympathy for him, which was in some measure a wrong
to Paul. This sympathy had increased until it began to frighten her, and
she asked herself where it would end, while she yet felt that she had no
right to inflict pain on Alexander by suddenly forcing him to change his
tone. Her mind was very much confused, and as she could not imagine that
a real and undivided love admitted of any confusion, she had simply
asked Paul to wait, in perfect good faith, meaning that she needed time
to decide and to settle the matter in her own conscience. He had pressed
her with questions, and had finally extorted the confession that
another man had come between them. She had not meant to say that, but
she was too honest to deny the charge. Paul had instantly taken it for
granted that she already loved this other man better than himself, and
had treated her as though everything were over between them.

The poor girl was in great trouble when she went home that night.
Although nothing had been openly discussed, she knew that her engagement
to Paul was tacitly acknowledged. She asked herself how he would treat
her when they met; whether they should meet at all, indeed, for she
feared that he would refuse to come to the house altogether. She
wondered what questions her father would put to her, and how Madame
Patoff would take the matter. More than all, she hesitated in deciding
whether she had done well in speaking as she had spoken, seeing what the
first results had been.

She shut herself in her room, and just as she was, in the beautiful
Eastern dress which she was to have shown at the ball when the masking
was over, she sat down upon a chair in the corner, and leaned her tired
head against the wall. But for the disastrous ending of the evening, she
would doubtless have sat before her glass, and looked with innocent
satisfaction at her own beautiful face. But the dark corner suited her
better, in her present mood. Her cheek rested against the wall, and very
soon the silent tears welled over and trickled down, staining the green
wall paper of the hotel bedroom, as they slowly reached the floor and
soaked into the dusty carpet. She was very miserable and very tired,
poor child, and perhaps she would have fallen asleep at last, just as
she sat, had she not been roused by sounds which reached her from the
next room, and which finally attracted her attention. Madame Patoff
slept there, or should have been sleeping at that hour, for she was
evidently awake. She seemed to be walking up and down, up and down
eternally, between the window and the door. As she walked, she spoke
aloud from time to time. At first she always spoke just as she was
moving away from the door, and consequently, when her back was turned
towards the place where Hermione sat on the other side of the wall, her
words were lost, and only incoherent sounds reached the young girl's
ears. Presently, however, she stopped just behind the door, and her
voice came clear and distinct through the thin wooden panel:--

"I wish he were dead. I wish he were dead. Oh, I wish I could kill him
myself!" Then the voice ceased, and the sound of the footsteps began
again, pacing up and down.

Hermione started, and sat upright in her chair, while the tears dried
slowly on her cheeks. The habit of considering her aunt to be insane was
not wholly lost, and it was natural that she should listen to such
unwonted sounds. For some time she could hear the voice at intervals,
but the words were indistinct and confused. Her aunt was probably very
ill, or under the influence of some hallucination which kept her awake.
Hermione crept stealthily near the door, and listened intently. Madame
Patoff continued to walk regularly up and down. At last she heard clear
words again:--

"I wish I could kill him; then Alexis could marry her. Alexis ought to
marry her, but he never will. Cannot Paul die!"

Hermione shrank from the door in horror. She was frightened and shaken,
and after the events of the evening her aunt's soliloquies produced a
much greater effect upon her than would have been possible six hours
earlier. Her first impulse was not to listen more, and she hastily began
to undress, making a noise with the chairs, and walking as heavily as
she could. Then she listened a moment, and all was still in the next
room. Her aunt had probably heard her, and had feared lest she herself
should be overheard. Hermione crept into bed, and closed her eyes. At
the end of a few minutes the steps began again, and after some time the
indistinct sounds of Madame Patoffs voice reached the young girl's ears.
She seemed to speak in lower tones than before, however, for the words
she spoke could not be distinguished. But Hermione strained her
attention to the utmost, while telling herself that it was better she
should not hear. The nervous anxiety to know whether Madame Patoff were
still repeating the same phrases made her heart beat fast, and she lay
there in the dark, her eyes wide open, her little hands tightening on
the sheet, praying that the sounds might cease altogether, or that she
might understand their import. Her pulse beat audibly for a few seconds,
then seemed to stop altogether in sudden fear, while her forehead grew
damp with terror. She thought that any supernatural visitation would
have been less fearful than this reality, and she strove to collect her
senses and to compose herself to rest.

At last she could bear it no longer. She got up and groped her way to
the door of her aunt's room, not meaning to enter, but unable to
withstand the desire to hear the words of which the incoherent murmur
alone came to her in her bed. She reached the door, but in feeling for
it her outstretched hand tapped sharply upon the panel. Instantly the
footsteps ceased. She knew that Madame Patoff had heard her, and that
the best thing she could do was to ask admittance.

"May I come in, aunt Annie?" she inquired, in trembling tones.

"Come in," was the answer; but the voice was almost as uncertain as her
own.

She opened the door. By the light of the single candle--an English
reading-light with a reflecting hood--she saw her aunt's figure standing
out in strong relief against the dark background of shadow. Madame
Patoff's thick gray hair was streaming down her back and over her
shoulders, and she held a hairbrush in her hand, as though the fit of
walking had come upon her while she was at her toilet. Her white
dressing-gown hung in straight folds to the floor, and her dark eyes
stared curiously at the young girl. Hermione was more startled than
before, for there was something unearthly about the apparition.

"Are you ill, aunt Annie?" she asked timidly, but she was awed by the
glare in the old lady's eyes. She glanced round the room. The bed was in
the shadow, and the bed-clothes were rolled together, so that they took
the shape of a human figure. Hermione shuddered, and for a moment
thought her aunt must be dead, and that she was looking at her ghost.
The girl's nerves were already so overstrained that the horrible idea
terrified her; the more, as several seconds elapsed before Madame Patoff
answered the question.

"No, I am not ill," she said slowly. "What made you ask?"

"I heard you walking up and down," explained Hermione. "It is very late;
you generally go to sleep so early"----

"I? I never sleep," answered the old lady, in a tone of profound
conviction, keeping her eyes fixed upon her niece's face.

"I cannot sleep, either, to-night," said Hermione, uneasily. She sat
down upon a chair, and shivered slightly. Madame Patoff remained
standing, the hairbrush still in her hand.

"Why should you not sleep? Why should you? What difference does it make?
One is just as well without it, and one can think all night,--one can
think of things one would like to do."

"Yes," answered the young girl, growing more and more nervous. "You must
have been thinking aloud, aunt Annie. I thought I heard your voice."

Madame Patoff moved suddenly and bent forward, bringing her face close
to her niece's, so that the latter was startled and drew back in her
chair.

"Did you hear what I said?" asked the old lady, almost fiercely, in low
tones.

Sometimes a very slight thing is enough to turn the balance of our
beliefs, especially when all our feelings are wrought to the highest
pitch of excitement. In a moment the conviction seized Hermione that her
aunt was mad,--not mad as she had once pretended to be, but really and
dangerously insane.

"I did not understand what you said," answered the young girl, too
frightened to own the truth, as she saw the angry eyes glaring into her
face. It seemed impossible that this should be the quiet, sweet-tempered
woman whom she was accustomed to talk with every day. She certainly did
the wisest thing, for her aunt's face instantly relaxed, and she drew
herself up again and turned away.

"Go to bed, child," she said, presently. "I dare say I frightened you. I
sometimes frighten myself. Go to bed and sleep. I will not make any more
noise to-night."

There was something in the quick change, from apparent anger to apparent
gentleness, which confirmed the idea that Madame Patoff's brain was
seriously disturbed. Hermione rose and quietly left the room. She locked
her door, and went to bed, hoping that she might sleep and find some
rest; for she was worn out with excitement, and shaken by a sort of
nervous fear.

Sleep came at last, troubled by dreams and restless, but it was sleep,
nevertheless. Several times she started up awake, thinking that she
again heard her aunt's low voice and the regular fall of her footsteps
in the next room. But all was still, and her weary head sank back on the
pillow in the dark, her eyelids closed again in sheer weariness, and
once more her dreams wove fantastic scenes of happiness, ending always
in despair, with the suddenness of revulsion which makes the visions of
the night ten times more agonizing while they last than the worst of our
real troubles.

But the morning brought a calmer reflection; and when Hermione was
awake she began to think of what had passed. The horror inspired by her
aunt's words and looks faded before the greater anxiety of the girl's
position with regard to Paul. She tried to go over the interview in her
mind. Her conscience told her that she had done right, but her heart
said that she had done wrong, and its beating hurt her. Then came the
difficult task of reconciling those two opposing voices, which are never
so contradictory as when the heart and the conscience fall out, and
argue their cause before the bewildered court of justice we call our
intelligence. First she remembered all the many reasons she had found
for speaking plainly to Paul on the previous night. She had said to
herself that she did not feel sure of her love, allowing tacitly that
she expected to feel sure of it before long. But until the matter was
settled she could not let him hurry the marriage nor take any decisive
step. If he had only been willing to wait another month, he might have
been spared all the suffering she had seen in his face; she herself
could have escaped it, too. But he had insisted, and she had tried to do
right in telling him that she was not ready. Then he had been angry and
hurt, and had coldly told her that she might wait forever, or something
very like it, and she had felt that the deed was done. It was dreadful;
yet how could she tell him that she was ready? Half an hour earlier, on
that very spot, she had suffered Alexander to speak as he had spoken,
only laughing kindly at his expressions of love; not rebuking him and
leaving him, as she should have done, and would have done, had she loved
Paul with her whole heart.

And yet this morning, as she lay awake and thought it all over,
something within her spoke very differently, like an incoherent cry,
telling her that she loved him in spite of all. She tried to listen to
what it said, and then the answer came quickly enough, and told her that
she had been unkind, that she had given needless pain, that she had
broken a man's life for an over-conscientious scruple which had no real
foundation. But then her conscience returned to the charge, refuting the
slighting accusation, so that the confusion was renewed, and became
worse than before. For the sake of discovering something in support of
her action, she began to think about Alexander; and finding that she
remembered very accurately what they had said to each other, her
thoughts dwelt upon him. It was pleasant to think of his beautiful face,
his soft voice, and his marvelous dancing. It was a fascination from
which she could not easily escape, even when he was absent; and there
was a charm in the memory of him, in thinking of how she would turn him
from being a lover to being a friend, which drew her mind away from the
main question that occupied it, and gave her a momentary sensation of
peace.

Suddenly the two men came vividly before her in profile, side by side.
The bold, manly features and cold glance of the strong man contrasted
very strangely with the exquisitely chiseled lines of his brother's
face, with the soft brown eyes veiled under long lashes, and the
indescribable delicacy of the feminine mouth. Paul wore the stern
expression of a man superior to events and very careless of them.
Alexander smiled, as though he loved his life, and would let no moment
of it pass without enjoying it to the full.

It was but the vision of an instant, as she closed her eyes, and opened
them again to the faint light which came in through the blinds. But
Hermione felt that she must choose between the two men, and it was
perhaps the first time she had quite realized the fact. Hitherto
Alexander had appeared to her only as a man who disturbed her previous
determinations. If she had hesitated to marry Paul while the disturbance
lasted, it was not because she had ever thought of taking his brother
instead. Now it seemed clear that she must accept either the one or the
other, for the comparison of the two had asserted itself in her mind. In
that moment she felt that she was worse than she had ever been before;
for the fact that she compared the two men as possible husbands showed
her that she set no value on the promises she had made to Paul.

To choose,--but how to choose? Had she a right to choose at all? If she
refused to marry Paul, was she not bound to refuse any one
else,--morally bound in honor? The questions came fast, and would not be
answered. Just then her aunt moved in the next room, and the thought of
her possible insanity returned instantly to Hermione's mind. She
determined that it was best to speak to her father about it. He was the
person who ought to know immediately, and he should decide whether
anything should be done. She made up her mind to go to him at once, and
she rang for her maid.

But before she was dressed she had half decided to act differently, to
wait at least a day or two, and see whether Madame Patoff would talk to
herself again during the night. To tell her father would certainly be to
give an alarm, and would perhaps involve the necessity of putting her
aunt once more under the care of a nurse. John Carvel could not know, as
Hermione knew, that the old lady's resentment against Paul was caused by
her niece's preference for him, and it would not be easy for the young
girl to explain this. But Hermione wished that she might speak to Paul
himself, and warn him of what his mother had said. She sighed as she
thought how impossible that would be. Nevertheless, in the morning light
and in the presence of her maid, while her gold-brown hair was being
smoothed and twisted, and the noises from the street told her that all
the world was awake, the horror of the night disappeared, and Hermione
almost doubted whether her aunt had really spoken those words at all. If
she had, it had been but the angry out-break of a moment, and should not
be taken too seriously.



XXI.


It was probably curiosity that induced Professor Cutter to pay a visit
to Constantinople in the spring. He is a scientist, and curiosity is the
basis of all science, past, present, and future. His mind was not at
rest in regard to Madame Patoff, and he found it very hard to persuade
himself that she should suddenly have become perfectly sane, after
having made him believe during eighteen months that she was quite mad.
After her recovery he had had long interviews with Mrs. North, and had
done his best to extract all the information she was able to give about
the case. He had studied the matter very carefully, and had almost
arrived at a satisfactory conclusion; but he felt that in order to
remove all doubt he must see her again. He was deeply interested, and
such a trifle as a journey to Constantinople could not stand in the way
of his observations. Accordingly he wrote a post-card to John Carvel to
say that he was coming, and on the following day he left England. But he
likes to travel comfortably, and especially he is very fond of finding
out old acquaintances when he is abroad, and of having an hour's chat
with scientific men like himself. He therefore did not arrive until a
week after John had news of his intended journey.

For some reason unknown to me, Carvel did not speak beforehand of the
professor's coming. It may be that, in the hurry of preparation for
moving up the Bosphorus, he forgot the matter; or perhaps he thought it
would be an agreeable surprise to most of us. I myself was certainly
very much astonished when he came, but the person who showed the
greatest delight at his arrival was Hermione. It is not hard to imagine
why she was pleased, and when I knew all that I have already told I
understood her satisfaction well enough. The professor appeared on the
day before the Carvels were to transfer themselves to Buyukdere. His
gold-rimmed spectacles were on his nose, his thick and short gray hair
stood up perpendicularly on his head as of old, his beard was as bushy
and his great hands were as huge and as spotless as ever. But after not
having seen him for some months, I was more struck than ever by his
massive build and the imposing strength of his manner.

Several days had elapsed since the events recorded in the last chapter.
To Hermione's surprise, Paul had come to the hotel as usual, on the day
after the ball, and behaved as though nothing had happened, except that
he had at first avoided finding himself alone with his cousin. She on
her part was very silent, and even Alexander could not rouse her to talk
as she used to do. When questioned, she said that the heat gave her a
headache; and as Chrysophrasia spent much time in languidly complaining
of the weather, the excuse had a show of probability. But after a day or
two she was reassured by Paul's manner, and no longer tried to keep out
of his way. Then it was that they found themselves together for the
first time since the ball. It was only for a moment, but it was long
enough.

Hermione took his passive hand in hers, very timidly, and looked into
his face.

"You are not angry with me any more?" she said.

"No, not in the least," he answered. "I believe you did what you
believed to be best, the other night. No one can do more than that."

"Yes, but you thought I was not in earnest."

"I thought you were more in earnest than you admitted. I thought you
meant to break it off altogether. I have changed my mind."

"Have you? I am so glad. I meant just what I said, Paul. You should not
have doubted that I meant it."

"I was angry. Forgive me if I was rude. I will not give you up. I will
marry you in spite of everybody."

Hermione looked at him, curiously at first, then with a sort of
admiration which she could not explain,--the admiration we all feel for
a strong man who is very much in earnest.

"In spite of myself?" she asked, after a pause.

"Yes, almost," he began hotly, but his tone softened as he finished the
sentence,--"almost in spite of yourself, Hermione."

"Indeed, I begin to think that you will," she answered, turning away her
head to hide a smile that had in it more of happiness than of unbelief.
Some one entered the room where they were standing, and nothing more was
said; nor did Paul repeat his words at the next opportunity, for he was
not much given to repetition. When he had said a thing, he meant it, and
he was in no hurry to say it again.

Meanwhile, also, the young girl had more than once listened, during the
night, for any sounds which might proceed from Madame Patoff's bedroom;
but she had heard nothing more, and the impression gradually faded from
her mind, or was stored away there as a fact to be remembered at some
future time. When Professor Cutter arrived, she determined to tell him
in strictest confidence what had occurred. This, however, was not what
gave her so much satisfaction in meeting him. She had long looked
forward to the day when she could enjoy the triumph of seeing him meet
Alexander Patoff, alive and well; for she knew how strongly his
suspicions had fastened upon Paul, and it was he who had first told her
what the common story was.

The professor arrived in the early morning by the Brindisi boat, and
Hermione proposed that Chrysophrasia, Paul, Cutter, and herself should
make a party to go over to Stamboul on the same afternoon. It was warm
indeed, but she represented that as the whole family were to move up the
Bosphorus on the following day, it would be long before they would have
a chance of going to Stamboul again. Chrysophrasia moaned a little, but
at last accepted the proposition, and Paul and the professor expressed
themselves delighted with the idea.

The four set off together, descended by the Galata tunnel, and crossed
the bridge on foot. Then they took a carriage and drove to Santa Sophia.
There was little chance for conversation, as they rattled over the
stones towards the mosque. Chrysophrasia leaned wearily back in her
corner. Paul and Hermione tried to talk, and failed, and Professor
Cutter promenaded his regards, to borrow an appropriate French
expression, upon the buildings, the people, and the view. Perhaps he was
wondering whether more cases of insanity presented themselves amongst
the vegetable sellers as a class than amongst the public scribes, whose
booths swarm before the Turkish post-office. He had seen the city
before, but only during a very short visit, as a mere tourist, and he
was glad to see it again.

They reached the mosque, and after skating about in the felt overshoes
provided for the use of unbelievers, Cutter suggested going up to the
galleries.

"It is so very, very far!" murmured Chrysophrasia, who was watching a
solitary young Sufí, who sat reciting his lesson aloud to himself in a
corner, swaying his body backwards and forwards with the measure of his
chant.

"I will go," said Hermione, with alacrity. "Paul can stay with my aunt."

"I would rather stay," answered Paul, whose reminiscences of the gallery
were not of the most pleasant sort.

So Professor Cutter and the young girl left the mosque, and with the
guide ascended the dim staircase.

"Papa wrote you the story, did he not?" asked Hermione. "Yes. This is
the way they went up."

The professor looked about him curiously, as they followed the guide.
Emerging amidst the broad arches of the gallery, they walked forward,
and Hermione explained, as Paul had explained to her, what had taken
place on that memorable night two years ago. It was a simple matter, and
the position of the columns made the story very clear.

"Professor Cutter, I want to speak to you about my aunt," said Hermione,
at last. The professor stopped and looked sharply at her, but said
nothing. "Do you remember that morning in the conservatory?" she
continued. "You told me that she was very mad indeed,--those were your
own words. I did not believe it, and I was triumphant when she came
out--in--well, quite in her senses, you know. I thought she had
recovered,--I hope she has. But she has very queer ways."

"What do you mean by queer ways, Miss Carvel? I have come to
Constantinople on purpose to see her. I hope there is nothing wrong?"

"I do not know. But I have told nobody what I am going to tell you. I
think you ought to be told. My room is next to hers, at the hotel, and I
hear through the door what goes on, without meaning to. The other night
I came home late from a ball, and she was walking up and down, talking
to herself so loud that I heard several sentences."

"What did she say?" asked Cutter, whose interest was already aroused.
The symptom was only too familiar to him.

"She said"--Hermione hesitated before she continued, and the color rose
faintly in her cheeks--"she said she wished she could kill Paul--and
then"----

"And then what?" inquired the professor, looking at her steadily.
"Please tell me all."

"It was very foolish.--she said that then Alexander could marry me. It
was so silly of her. Just think!"

After all, Professor Cutter was her father's old friend. She need not
have been so long about telling the thing.

"She thinks that you are going to marry Paul?" observed the professor,
with an interrogative intonation.

"Well, if I did?" replied the young girl, after a short pause. "If she
were in her right mind, would that be any reason for her wishing to
murder him?"

"No. But I never believed she was out of danger," said Cutter. "Did she
say anything more?"

Hermione told how Madame Patoff had behaved when she had entered the
room. Her companion looked very grave, and said little during the few
moments they remained in the gallery. He only promised that he would
tell no one about it, unless it appeared absolutely necessary for the
safety of every one concerned. Then they descended the steps again and
joined Chrysophrasia and Paul, who were waiting below.

"Aunt Chrysophrasia says she must go to the bazaar," said the latter.

"Yes," remarked Miss Dabstreak, "I really must. That Jew! Oh, that Jew!
He haunts my dreams. I see him at night, dressed like Moses, with a
linen ephod, you know, holding up that Persian embroidery. It is more
than my soul can bear!"

"But we were going to take Professor Cutter to the other mosques,"
objected Hermione.

"I am sure he will not mind if we go to the bazaar instead, will you?"
she asked, with an engaging squint of her green eyes, as she turned to
the professor.

"Not at all,--not at all, Miss Dabstreak. Anything you propose--I am
sure"--ejaculated Cutter, apparently waking from an absorbing meditation
upon his thumb-nail, and perhaps upon thumb-nails in general.

"You see how kind he is!" murmured Chrysophrasia, as she got into the
carriage. "To the bazaar, Paul. Could you tell the driver?"

Paul could and did. Ten minutes later the carriage stopped at the gate
of the bazaar. A dozen Mohammedans, Greeks, and Jews sprang out to
conduct the visitors whither they would,--or, more probably, whither
they would not. But Paul, who knew his way about very well, fought them
off. One only would not be repulsed, and Chrysophrasia took his part.

"Let him come,--pray let him come, Paul. He has such beautiful eyes,
such soft, languishing eyes,--so sweetly like those of a gazelle."

"His name is Abraham," said Paul. "I know him very well. The gazelle is
of Jewish extraction, and sells shawls. He is a liar."

"Haïr, Effendim--sir," cried Abraham, who knew a little English. "Him
Israeleet--hones' Jew--Abraham's name, Effendim."

"I know it is," said Paul. "Git!"--an expression which is good
Californian, and equally good Turkish.

They threaded the narrow vaulted passages, which were cool in the warm
spring afternoon, taking the direction of the Jews' quarter, but pausing
from time to time to survey the thousand articles, of every description,
exposed for sale by the squatting shopkeepers. Cutter looked at the
weapons especially, and remarked that they were not so good as those
which used to be found ten years earlier. Everything, indeed, seemed to
have changed since that time, and for the worse. There is less wealth in
the bazaar, and yet the desire to purchase has increased tenfold, so
that a bit of Rhodes tapestry, which at that earlier time would not have
fetched forty piastres, is now sold for a pound Turkish, and is hard to
get at that. It may be supposed that the Jews have made large fortunes
in the interval, but the fact is not apparent in any way; the
uncertainty of property in Turkey forcing them to conceal their riches,
if they have any. Their shops are very fairly clean, but otherwise they
are humble, and the best and most valuable objects are generally packed
carefully away in dark corners, and are produced only when asked for.
You see nothing but a small divan, a table, a matted floor, and shelves
reaching to the ceiling, piled with packages wrapped in shabby gray
linen. It is chiefly in the Mohammedan and Greek "tscharshis" of the
bazaar that jewelry, weapons, and pipes are openly exhibited, and laid
out upon benches for the selection of the buyer. But the Jews have
almost a monopoly of everything which comes under the head of
antiquities, and it is with them that foreigners generally deal. They
are as intelligent as elsewhere, and perhaps more so, for the traveler
of to-day is a great cheapener of valuables. Moreover, the Stamboul Jews
are most of them linguists. They speak a bastard Spanish among
themselves; they are obliged to know Turkish, Greek, and a little
Armenian, and many of them speak French and Italian intelligibly.

Chrysophrasia delighted in the bazaar. The flavor of antiquity which
hangs about it, and makes it the only thoroughly Oriental place in
Constantinople, ascended gratefully to the old maid's nostrils, while
her nerves were continually thrilled by strange contrasts of color. It
was very pleasant, she thought, to be really in the East, and to have
such a palpable proof of the fact as was afforded by the jargon of loud
but incomprehensible tongues which filled her ears. She had often been
in the place, and the Jews were beginning to know her, scenting a
bargain whenever her yellow face and yellow hair became visible on the
horizon. She generally patronized Marchetto, however, and on the present
occasion she had come expressly to see him. He was standing in the door
of his little shop as usual, and his red face and red-brown eyes lighted
up when he caught sight of Miss Dabstreak. With many expressions of joy
he backed into the interior, and immediately went in search of the
famous piece of Persian embroidery which Chrysophrasia had admired
during her last visit to the bazaar.

"Upon my honor"--began Marchetto, launching into praises of the stuff.
Patoff and Hermione stood at the door, but Cutter immediately became
interested in the bargain, and handled the embroideries with curiosity,
asking all manner of questions of the Jew and of Miss Dabstreak. Somehow
or other, the two younger members of the party soon found themselves
outside the shop, walking slowly up and down and talking, until the
bargain should be concluded.

"I could not go up to the gallery in Santa Sophia," said Paul. "I am not
a nervous person, but it brings the story back too vividly."

"What does it matter, since he is found?" asked Hermione.

Patoff was struck by the question, for it was too much at variance with
his own feelings to seem reasonable. It was not because he preferred to
avoid all reminiscence of the adventure that he had stayed below, but
rather because he hated to think what the consequences of Alexander's
return had been.

"What does it matter?" he repeated slowly. "It matters a great deal.
What happened on that night, two years ago, was the beginning of a whole
series of misfortunes. I have had bad luck ever since."

"Why do you say that?" asked Hermione, somewhat reproachfully.

"It is true,--that is one reason why I say it. But for that night, my
mother would never have been mad. I should never have been sent to
Persia, and should not have gone to England during my leave. I should
not have met you"----

"You consider that a terrible misfortune," observed Hermione.

"It is always a man's misfortune when he determines to have what is
denied him," answered Paul quietly. "Somebody must suffer in the
encounter, or somebody must yield."

"Somebody,--yes. Why do you talk about it, Paul?"

"Because I think of nothing else. I cannot help it. It is easy to say,
'Let this or that alone;' it is another matter to talk to you about the
bazaar, and the Turks, and the weather, when we are together."

Hermione was silent, for there was nothing to be said. She knew how
well he loved her, and when she was with him she submitted in a measure
to his influence; so that often she was on the point of yielding, and
telling him that she no longer hesitated. It was when she was away from
him that she doubted herself, and refused to be persuaded. Paul needed
only a very little to complete his conquest, but that little he could
not command. He had reached the point at which a man talks of the woman
he loves or of himself, and of nothing else, and the depth of his
passion seemed to dull his speech. A little more eloquence, a little
more gentleness, a little more of that charm which Alexander possessed
in such abundance, might have been enough to turn the scale. But they
were lacking. The very intensity of what he felt made him for the time a
man of one idea only, and even the freedom with which he could speak to
Hermione about his love for her was a disadvantage to him. It had grown
to be too plain a fact, and there was too little left to the
imagination. He felt that he wearied her, or he fancied that he did,
which amounted to the same; and he either remained tongue-tied, or
repeated in one form or another his half-savage 'I will.' He began to
long for a change in their relations, or for some opportunity of
practically showing her how much he would sacrifice for her sake. But in
these days there are no lists for the silent knights; there are no
jousts where a man may express his declaration of love by tying a lady's
colors to his arm, and breaking the bones of half a dozen gentlemen
before her eyes. And yet the instinct to do something of the kind is
sometimes felt even now,--the longing to win by physical prowess what it
is at present the fashion to get by persuasion.

Paul felt it strongly enough, and was disgusted with his own stupidity.
Of what use was it that during so many years he had cultivated the art
of conversation as a necessary accomplishment, if at his utmost need his
wits were to abandon him, and leave him uncouth and taciturn as he had
been in his childhood? He looked at Hermione's downcast face; at the
perfect figure displayed by her tightly fitting costume of gray; at her
small hands, as she stood still and tried to thrust the point of her
dainty parasol into the crevice between two stones of the pavement. He
gazed at her, and was seized with a very foolish desire to take her up
in his arms and walk away with her, whether she liked it or not. But
just at that moment Hermione glanced at him with a smile, not at all as
he had expected that she would look.

"I think we had better go back to the shop," said she. So they turned,
and walked slowly towards the narrow door.

"These Orientals are so full of wonderful imagery!" Chrysophrasia was
saying to Professor Cutter as the pair came in. "It is delightful to
hear them talk,--so different from an English shopkeeper."

"Very," assented the learned man. "Their imagery is certainly
remarkable. Their scale of prices seems to be founded upon it, as
logarithms depend for their existence on the square root of minus one,
an impossible quantity."

"Dear me! Could you explain that to Marchetto? It might make a
difference, you know."

"I am afraid not," answered the professor gravely. "Marchetto is not a
mathematician; are you, Marchetto?"

"No surr, Effendim. Marchetto very honest man. Twenty-five pounds,
lady--ah! but it is birindjí--there is not a Pacha in Stamboul"----

"You have said that before," observed the scientist, "Try and say
something new."

"New!" cried Marchetto. "It is not new. Any one say it new, he lie!
Old--eski, eski! Very old! Twenty-five-six pounds, lady! Hein! Pacha
give more."

"I fear that the traditions of his race are very strong," remarked
Chrysophrasia, languidly examining the embroidery, a magnificent piece
of work, about a yard and a half square, wrought in gold and silver
threads upon a dark-red velvet ground; evidently of considerable
antiquity, but in excellent preservation. "Paul, dear," continued Miss
Dabstreak, seeing Patoff enter with Hermione, "what would you give for
this lovely thing? How hard it is to bargain! How low! How infinitely
fatiguing! Do help me!"

"Begin by offering him a quarter of what he asks,--that is a safe rule,"
answered Paul.

"How much is a quarter of twenty-five--let me see--three times eight
are--do tell me, somebody! Figures drive me quite mad."

"I have known of such cases," assented the professor. "Eight and a
quarter, Miss Dabstreak. Say eight,--I dare say it will do as well."

"Marchetto," said Chrysophrasia sadly, "I am afraid your embroidery is
only worth eight pounds."

The Jew was kneeling on the floor, squatting upon his heels. He put on
an injured expression, and looked up at Miss Dabstreak's face.

"Eight pounds!" he exclaimed, in holy horror. "You know where this come
from, lady? Ha! Laleli Khanum house--dead--no more like it." Marchetto
of course knew the story of Alexander's confinement, and by a ready lie
turned it to his advantage. Every one looked surprised, and began to
examine the embroidery more closely.

"Really!" ejaculated Chrysophrasia. "How strange this little world is!
To think of all this bit of broidered velvet has seen,--what joyous
sights! It may have been in the very room where she died. But she was a
wicked old woman, Marchetto. I could not give more than eight pounds for
anything which belonged to so depraved a creature."

"Hein?" ejaculated the Jew, with a soft smile. "I know what you want.
Here!" he exclaimed, springing up, and rummaging among his shelves.
Presently he brought out a shabby old green cloth caftán, trimmed with a
little tarnished silver lace, and held it up triumphantly to
Chrysophrasia's sight.

"Twenty-five-six pounds!" he cried, exultingly. "Cheap. Him
coat of very big saint-man--die going to Mecca last year. Cheap,
lady--twenty-five-six pounds!"

"I think you are fairly caught, aunt Chrysophrasia," observed Paul, with
a laugh.

"Who would have guessed that there was so much humor in an Israelite?"
asked Chrysophrasia, with a sad intonation. "I cannot wear the saint's
tea-gown, Marchetto," she continued; "otherwise I would gladly give you
twenty-five pounds for it. Eight pounds for the embroidery,--no more. It
is not worth so much. I even think I see a nauseous tint of magenta in
the velvet."

"Twenty-four-five pounds, lady. I lose pound--your backsheesh."

How long the process of bargaining might have been protracted is
uncertain. At that moment Balsamides Bey entered the shop. It appeared
that he had called at the Carvels', and, being told that the party were
in Stamboul, had gone straight to the Jew's shop, in the hope of finding
them there. He was introduced to the professor by Paul, with a word of
explanation. Marchetto's face fell as he saw the adjutant, who had a
terribly acute knowledge of the value of things. Balsamides was asked to
give his opinion. He examined the piece carefully.

"Where did you get it?" he asked, in Turkish.

"From the Validé Khan," answered the Jew, in the same language. "It is a
genuine piece,--a hundred years old at least."

"You probably ask a pound for every year, and a backsheesh for the odd
months," said the other.

"Twenty pounds," answered Marchetto, imperturbably.

"It is worth ten pounds," remarked Balsamides, in English, to Miss
Dabstreak. "If you care to give that, you may buy it with a clear
conscience. But he will take three weeks to think about it."

"To bargain for three weeks!" exclaimed Chrysophrasia. "Oh, no! It takes
my whole energy to bargain for half an hour. The lovely thing,--those
faint, mysterious shades intertwined with the dull gold and silver,--it
breaks my heart!"

Marchetto was obdurate, on that day at least, and with an unusually
grave face he began to fold the embroidery, wrapping it at last in the
inevitable piece of shabby gray linen. The party left the shop, and
threaded the labyrinth of vaulted passages towards the gate. Cutter was
interested in Gregorios, and asked him a great many questions, so that
Chrysophrasia felt she was being neglected, and wore her most mournful
expression. Paul and Hermione came behind, talking a little as they
walked. They reached the bridge on foot, and, paying the toll to the big
men in white who guard the entrance, began to cross the long stretch of
planks which unites Stamboul with Pera. The sun was already low. Indeed,
Marchetto had kept his shop open beyond the ordinary hour of closing,
which is ten o'clock by Turkish time, two hours before sunset, and the
bazaar was nearly deserted when they left it.

Paul and Hermione stopped when they were halfway across the bridge, and
looked up the Golden Horn. Great clouds were piled up in the west,
behind which the sun was hidden, and the air was very sultry. A dull
light, that seemed to cast no shadows, was on all the mosques and
minarets, and down upon the water the air was thick, and the boats
looked indistinct as they glided by. The great useless men-of-war lay as
though water-logged in the heavy, smooth stream, and the flags hung
motionless from the mastheads.

The two stood side by side for a few moments and said nothing. At last
Paul spoke.

"It is going to rain," he said, in an odd voice.

"Yes, it is going to rain," answered his companion.

"On parà! Ten paras, for the love of God!" screamed a filthy beggar
close behind them. Paul threw the wretched creature the tiny coin he
asked, and they turned away. But his face was very white, and Hermione's
eyes were filled with tears.



XXII.


A few days later the Carvels were installed for the summer in one of the
many large houses on the Buyukdere quay, which are usually let to any
one who will hire them. These dwellings are mostly the property of
Armenians and Greeks who lost heavily during the war, and whose
diminished fortunes no longer allow them to live in their former state.
They are vast wooden buildings for the most part, having a huge hall on
each floor, from which smaller rooms open on two sides; large windows in
front afford a view of the Bosphorus, and at the back the balconies are
connected with the gardens by flights of wooden steps. In one of these,
not far from the Russian embassy, the Carvels took up their abode, and
John expressed himself extremely well satisfied with his choice and with
his bargain. In the course of their stay in Pera, the family had
contrived to collect a considerable quantity of Oriental carpets and
other objects, some good, some utterly worthless in themselves, but
useful in filling up the immense rooms of the house. Chrysophrasia
seemed to find the East sympathetic to her nerves, and was certainly
more in her element in Constantinople than in Brompton or Carvel Place.
Strange to say, she was the one of the family who best understood the
Turks and their ways. In contact with a semi-barbarous people, she
developed an amount of common sense and keen intelligence which I had
never suspected her of possessing.

As for me, I had gone up to Buyukdere one day, and had then and there
changed my mind in regard to my departure. The roses were in full bloom,
and everything looked so unusually attractive, that I could not resist
the temptation of spending the summer in the place. A few years ago,
when I thought of traveling, I set out without hesitation, and went to
the ends of the earth. I suppose I am growing old, for I begin to
dislike perpetual motion. The little kiosk on the hill, at the top of a
beautiful garden, was very tempting, too, and after a few hours'
consideration I hired it for the season, with that fine disregard for
consequences which one learns in the East. The only furniture in the
place was an iron bedstead and an old divan. There was not a chair, not
a bit of matting; not so much as an earthen pot in the kitchen, nor a
deal table in the sitting-room. But in Turkey such conveniences are a
secondary consideration. The rooms were freshly whitewashed, the board
floors were scrubbed, and the view from the windows was one of the most
beautiful in the world. A day spent in the bazaar did the rest. I picked
up a queer, wizened old Dalmatian cook, and with the help of my servant
was installed in the little place eight-and-forty hours after I had made
up my mind.

The life on the Bosphorus is totally different from that in Pera.
Everybody either keeps a horse or keeps a sail-boat, and many people do
both; for the Belgrade forest stretches five-and-twenty miles inland
from Buyukdere and Therapia, and the broad Bosphorus lies before,
widening into a deep bay between the two. The fresh northerly breeze
blows down from the Black Sea all day, and often all night; and there is
something invigorating in the air, which revives one after the long, gay
season in Pera, and makes one feel that anything and everything is
possible in such a place.

The forest was different in May from what it had been on that bitter
March night when Gregorios and I drove down to Laleli's house. The
maidám--the broad stretch of grass at the opening of the valley before
you reach the woods--was green and fresh and smooth. The trees were full
of leaves, and gypsies were already camping out for the season. The
woodland roads were not as full of riders as they are in July and
August, and the summer dancing had not yet begun, nor the garden
parties, nor any kind of gayety. There was peace everywhere,--the peace
of quiet spring weather before one learns to fear the sun and to long
for rain, when the crocus pushes its tender head timidly through the
grass, and the bold daisies gayly dance by millions in the light breeze
as though knowing that their numbers save them from being plucked up and
tied into nose-gays, and otherwise barbarously dealt with, according to
the luck of rarer flowers.

So we rode in the forest, and sailed on the Bosphorus, and enjoyed the
freedom of the life and the freshness of the cool air, and things went
on very pleasantly for every one, as far as outward appearances were
concerned. But it was soon clear to me that the matter which more or
less interested the whole party was no nearer to its termination than it
had been before. Paul came and went, and his face betrayed no emotion
when he met Hermione or parted from her. They were sometimes alone
together, but not often, and it did not seem to me that they showed any
very great anxiety to procure themselves such interviews. A keen
observer might have noticed, indeed, that Hermione was a shade less
cordial in her relations with Alexander, but he himself did not relax
his attentions, and was as devoted to her as ever. He followed her
about, always tried to ride by her side in the forest, and to sit by her
in the boat; but under no circumstances did I see Paul's face change
either in color or expression. He did not look scornful and cynical, as
he formerly did, nor was there anything hostile in his manner towards
his brother. He merely seemed very calm and very sure of himself,--too
sure, I thought. But he had made up his mind to win, and meant to do it
in his own fashion, and he appeared to be indifferent to the fact that
while his duties often kept him at the embassy the whole day, Alexander
had nothing to do but to talk to Hermione from morning till night. I
fancied that he was playing a waiting game, but I feared that he would
wait too long, and lose in the end. I knew, indeed, that under his calm
exterior his whole nature was wrought up to its highest point of
excitement; but if he persisted in exercising such perfect self-control
he ran the risk of being thought too cold, as he appeared to be. I was
called upon to give an opinion on the matter before we had been many
days in Buyukdere, and I was embarrassed to explain what I meant.

John Carvel and Hermione, Alexander and I, rode together in the woods,
one afternoon. Paul was busy that day, and could not come. It fell out
naturally enough that the young girl and her cousin should pair off
together, leaving us two elderly men to our conversation. Hermione was
mounted on a beautiful Arab, nearly black, which her father had bought
for her in Pera, and Alexander rode a strong white horse that he had
hired for the short time which remained to him before he should be
obliged to return to St. Petersburg. They looked well together, as they
rode before us, and John watched them with interest, if not altogether
with satisfaction.

"Griggs," he observed at last, "it is very odd. I don't know what to
make of it at all. You remember the conversation we had in Pera, the
first night after our arrival? I certainly believed that Hermy wanted to
marry Paul. She seems to get on amazingly well with his brother; don't
you think so?"

"It is natural," I answered. "They are cousins. Why should they not like
each other? Alexander is a most agreeable fellow, and makes the time
pass very pleasantly when Paul is not there."

"What surprises me most," said John Carvel, "is that Paul does not seem
to mind in the least. And he has never spoken to me about it, either. I
am beginning to think he never will. Well, well, there is no reason why
Hermy should marry just yet, and Paul is no great match, though he is a
very good fellow."

"A very good fellow," I assented. "A much better fellow than his
brother, I fancy,--though Alexander has what women call charm. But Paul
will not change his mind; you need not be afraid of that."

"I should be sorry if Hermy did," said Carvel, gravely. "I should not
like my daughter to begin life by jilting an honest man for the sake of
a pretty toy soldier like Alexander."

It was very clear that John Carvel had a fixed opinion in the case, and
that his judgment did not incline to favor Alexander. On the other hand,
he could not but be astonished at Paul's silence. Of course I defended
the latter as well as I could, but as we rode slowly on, talking the
matter over, I could see that John was not altogether pleased.

Alexander and Hermione had passed a bend in the road before us, and had
been hidden from our view for some time, for they were nearly half a
mile in front when we had last seen them. They rode side by side, and
Alexander seemed to have plenty to say, for he talked incessantly in his
pleasant, easy voice, and Hermione listened to him. They came to a place
where the road forked to the right and left. Neither of them were very
familiar with the forest, and, without stopping to think, they followed
the lane which looked the straighter and broader of the two, but which
in reality led by winding ways to a distant part of the woods. When John
Carvel and I came to the place, I naturally turned to the left, to cross
the little bridge and ascend the hill towards the Khedive's farm. In
this way the two young people were separated from us, and we were soon
very far apart, for we were in reality riding in opposite directions.

The lane taken by Hermione and her cousin led at first through a
hollowed way, above which the branches of the trees met and twined
closely together, as beautiful a place as can be found in the whole
forest. Alexander grew less talkative, and presently relapsed altogether
into silence. They walked their horses, and he looked at his cousin's
face, half shaded by a thin gray veil, which set off admirably the
beauty of her mouth and chin.

"Hermione," he said after a time, in his softest voice.

The girl blushed a little, without knowing why, but did not answer. He
hesitated, as though he could get no further than her name. As the blush
faded from her cheek, his cousin glanced timidly at him, not at all as
she generally looked. Perhaps she felt the magic of the place. She was
not used to be timid with him, and she experienced a new sensation.
There was generally something light and gay in his way of speaking to
her which admitted of a laughing answer; but just now he had spoken her
name so seriously, so gently, that she felt for the first time that he
was in earnest. Instinctively she put her horse to a brisker pace,
before he had said anything more. He kept close at her side.

"Hermione," he said again, and his voice sounded in her ear like the
voice of an unknown spell, weaving charms about her under the shade of
the enchanted forest. "Hermione, my beloved,--do not laugh at me any
more. It is earnest, dear,--it is my whole life."

Still she said nothing, but the blush rose again to her face and died
away, leaving her very pale. She shortened the reins in her hands,
keeping the Arab at a regular, even trot.

"It is earnest, darling," continued her cousin, in low, clear tones. "I
never knew how much I loved you until to-day. No, do not laugh again.
Tell me you know it is so, as I know it."

The lane grew narrower and the branches lower, but she would not slacken
speed, though now and then she had to bend her head to avoid the leafy
twigs as she passed. But this time she answered, not laughing, but very
gravely.

"You must not talk like that any more," she said. "I do not like to hear
it."

"Is it so bitter to be told that you are loved--as I love? Is it so
hard to hear? But you have heard once--twice, twenty times; you will not
always think it bad to hear; your ears will grow used to it. All,
Hermione, if you could guess how sweet it is to love as I love, you
would understand!"

"I do not know--- I cannot guess--I would not if I could," answered the
young girl desperately. "Hush, Alexander! Do not talk in that way. You
must not. It is not right."

"Not right?" echoed the young man, with a soft laugh. "I will make it
right; you shall guess what it is to love, dear,--to love me as I love
you."

He bent in his saddle as he rode beside her, and laid his left hand on
hers, but she shook his fingers off impatiently.

"Why are you angry, love?" he asked. "You have let me say it lightly so
often; will you not let me say it earnestly for once?"

"No," she answered firmly. "I do not want to hear it. I have been very
wrong, Alexander. I like you very much--because you are my cousin--but I
do not love you--I will not--I mean, I cannot. No, I am in earnest,
too--far more than you are. I can never love you--no, no, no--never!"

But she had let fall the words "I will not," and Alexander knew that
there was a struggle in her mind.

"You will not?" he said tenderly. "No--but you will, darling. I know you
will. You must; I will make you!"

Again he leaned far out of his saddle, and in an instant his left arm
went round her slender waist, as they rode quickly along, and his lips
touched her soft cheek just below the little gray veil. But he had gone
too far. Hermione's spurred heel just touched the Arab's flank, and he
sprang forward in a gallop up the narrow lane. Alexander kept close at
her side. His blood was up, and burning in his delicate cheek. He still
tried to keep his hand upon her waist, and bent towards her, moving in
his saddle with the ease of a born horseman as he galloped along. But
Hermione spurred her horse, and angrily tried to elude her cousin's
embrace, till in a moment they were tearing through the woods at a
racing pace.

Suddenly there came a crash, followed by a dull, heavy sound, and
Hermione saw that she was alone. She tried to look behind her, but
several seconds elapsed before her Arab could be quieted; at last she
succeeded in making him turn, and rode quickly back along the path.
Alexander's horse was standing across the way, and Hermione was obliged
to dismount and turn him before she could see beyond. Her cousin lay in
the lane, motionless as he had fallen, his face pale and turned upwards,
one arm twisted under his body, the other stretched out upon the soft
mould of the woodland path. Hermione stood holding the two horses, one
with each hand, and looking intently at the insensible man. She did not
lose her presence of mind, though she was frightened by his pallor; but
she could not let the horses run loose in such a place, when they might
be lost in a moment. She paused a moment, and listened for the sound of
hoofs, thinking that her father and I could not be far behind. But the
woods were very still, and she remembered that she and her cousin had
ridden fast over the last two miles. Drawing the bridles over the
horses' heads, she proceeded to fasten them to a couple of trees, not
without some trouble, for her own horse was excited and nervous from the
sharp gallop; but at last she succeeded, and, gathering her habit in one
hand, she ran quickly to Alexander's side.

There he lay, quite unconscious, and so pale that she thought he might
be dead. His head was bare, and his hat, crumpled and broken, lay in the
path, some distance behind him. There was a dark mark on the right side
of his forehead, high up and half covered by his silky brown hair.
Hermione knelt down and tried to lift his head upon her knee. But his
body was heavy, and she was not very strong. She dragged him with
difficulty to the side of the path, and raised his shoulders a little
against the bank. She felt for his pulse, but there was no motion in the
lifeless veins, nor could she decide whether he breathed or not. Utterly
without means of reviving him, for she had not so much as a bottle of
salts in the pocket of her saddle, she kneeled over him, and wiped his
pale forehead with her handkerchief, and blew gently on his face. She
was pale herself, and was beginning to be frightened, though she had
good nerves. Nevertheless she took courage, feeling sure that we should
appear in five minutes at the latest.

It was clear that in galloping by her side at full speed Alexander's
head had struck violently against a heavy branch, which grew lower than
the rest. His eyes had been turned on her, and he had not seen the
danger. The branch was so placed that Hermione, lowering her head to
avoid the leaves, as she looked straight before, had passed under it in
safety; whereas her cousin must have struck full upon the thickest part,
three or four feet nearer to the tree. At the pace they were riding, the
blow might well have been fatal; and as the moments passed and the
injured man showed no signs of life, Hermione's heart beat faster and
her face grew whiter. Her first thought was of his mother, and a keen,
sharp fear shot through her as she thought of the dreadful moment when
Madame Patoff must be told; but the next instant brought her a feeling
of far deeper horror. He had been hurt almost while speaking words of
love to her; he had struck his head because he was looking at her
instead of before him, and it was in some measure her fault, for she had
urged the speed of that foolish race. She bent down over him, and the
tears started to her eyes. She tried to listen for the beating of his
heart, and, opening his coat, she laid her ear to his breast. Something
cold touched her cheek, and she quickly raised her head again and looked
down. It was a small flat silver flask which he carried in the pocket of
his waistcoat, and which in the fall had slipped up from its place.
Hermione withdrew it eagerly and unscrewed the cap. It contained some
kind of spirits, and she poured a little between his parted lips.

The deathly features contracted a little, and the eyelids quivered. She
poured the brandy into the palm of her hand, and chafed his temples and
forehead. Alexander drew a long breath and slowly opened his eyes; then
shut them again; then, after a few moments, opened them wide, stared,
and uttered an exclamation of surprise in Russian.

"Are you better?" asked Hermione, breathlessly. "I thought you were
dead."

"No, I am all right," he said, faintly, trying to raise himself. But his
head swam, and he fell back, once more insensible. This time, however,
the fainting fit did not last long, and he soon opened his eyes again
and looked at Hermione without speaking. She continued to rub the
spirits upon his forehead. Then he put out his hand and grasped the
flask she held, and drank a long draught from it.

"It is nothing," he said. "I can get up now, thank you." He struggled to
his feet, leaning on the young girl's arm. "How did it happen?" he
asked. "I cannot remember anything."

"You must have struck your head against that branch," answered Hermione,
pointing to the thick bough which projected over the lane. "Do you feel
better?"

"Yes. I can mount in a minute," he replied, steadying himself. "I have
had a bad shaking, and my head hurts me. It is nothing serious."

"Better sit down for a few minutes, until the others come up," suggested
the young girl, who was surprised to see him recover himself so quickly.
He seemed glad enough to follow her advice, and they sat down together
on the mossy bank.

"It was my fault," said Hermione, penitently. "It was so foolish of me
to ride fast in such a place."

"Women care for nothing but galloping when they are on horseback," said
Alexander. It was not a very civil speech, and though Hermione forgave
him because he was half stunned with pain, the words rang unpleasantly
in her ear. He might have been satisfied, she thought, when she owned
that it was her fault. It was not generous to agree with her so
unhesitatingly. She wondered whether Paul would have spoken like that.

"Do you really think you can ride back?" she asked, in a colder tone.

"Certainly," he said; "provided we ride slowly. What can have become of
uncle John and Griggs?"

Uncle John and Griggs were at that moment wondering what had become of
the two young people. We had ridden on to the top of the hill, and had
stopped on reaching the open space near the Khedive's farm, where there
is a beautiful view, and where we expected to find our companions
waiting for us. But we were surprised to see no one there. After a great
deal of hesitation we agreed that John Carvel, who did not know the
forest, should follow the main road down the hill on the other side,
while I rode back over the way we had come. I suspected that Alexander
and Hermione had taken the wrong turn, and I was more anxious about them
than I would show. The forest is indeed said to be safe, but hardly a
year passes without some solitary rider being molested by gypsies or
wandering thieves, if he has ventured too far from the beaten tracks. I
rode as fast as I could, but it was nearly twenty minutes before I
struck into the hollow lane. I found the pair seated on the bank, a mile
further on, and Hermione hailed me with delight. Everything was
explained in a few words. Alexander seemed sufficiently recovered from
his accident to get into the saddle, and we were soon walking our horses
back towards the maidám of Buyukdere. Neither Alexander nor Hermione
talked much by the way, and we were all glad when we reached the tiny
bazaar, and were picking out way over the uneven street, amongst the
coppersmiths, the lounging soldiers, the solemn narghylè smokers, the
kaffejis, the beggars, and the half-naked children.

On that evening, two things occurred which precipitated the course of
events. John Carvel had an interview with Hermione, and I had a most
unlucky idea. John Carvel's mind was disturbed concerning the future of
his only daughter, and though he was not a man who hastily took fright,
his character was such that when once persuaded that things were not as
they should be, he never hesitated as to the course he should pursue.
Accordingly, that night he called Hermione into his study, and
determined to ask her for an explanation. The poor girl was nervous, for
she suspected trouble, and did not see very clearly how it could be
avoided.

"Sit down, Hermy," said John, establishing himself in a deep chair with
a cigar. "I want to talk with you, my dear."

"Yes, papa," answered Hermione, meekly.

"Hermy, do you mean to marry Paul, or not? Don't be nervous, my child,
but think the matter over before you answer. If you mean to have him, I
have no objection to the match; but if you do not mean to, I would like
to know. That is all. You know you spoke to me about it in England
before we left home. Things have been going on a long time now, and yet
Paul has said nothing to me about it."

It was impossible to put the matter more clearly than this, and Hermione
knew it. She said nothing for some minutes, but sat staring out of the
window at the dark water, where the boats moved slowly about, each
bearing a little light at the bow. Far down the quay a band was playing
the eternal _Stella Confidente_, which has become a sort of national air
in Turkey. The strains floated in through the window, and the young girl
struggled hard to concentrate her thoughts, which somehow wound
themselves in and out of the music in a very irrelevant manner.

"Must I answer now, papa?" she asked at last, almost desperately.

"My dear," replied the inexorable John, in kind tones, "I cannot see why
you should not. You are probably in very much the same state of mind
to-night as you were in yesterday, or as you will be in to-morrow. It is
better to settle the matter and be done with it. I do not believe that a
fortnight, a month, or even a longer time will make any perceptible
difference in your ideas about this matter." He puffed at his cigar, and
again looked at his daughter.

"Hermy," he continued, after another interval of silence, "if you do not
mean to marry Paul, you are treating him very badly. You are letting
that idiot of a brother of his make love to you from morning till
night."

"Oh, papa! How can you!" exclaimed Hermione, who was not accustomed to
hearing any kind of strong language from her father.

"Idiot,--yes, my dear, that expresses it very well. He is my nephew, and
I have a right to call him an idiot if I please. I believe the fellow
wears stays, and curls his hair with tongs. He has a face like a girl,
and he talks unmitigated rubbish."

"I thought you liked him, papa," objected Hermione. "I do not think he
is at all as silly as you say he is. He is very agreeable."

"I have no objection to him," retorted John Carvel. "I tolerate him.
Toleration is not liking. He fascinated us all for a day or two, but it
did not last long; that sort of fascination never does."

There was another long pause. The band had finished the _Stella
Confidente_, and ran on without stopping to the performance of the
drinking chorus in the _Traviata_. Hermione twisted her fingers
together, and bit her lips. Her father's opinion of Alexander was a
revelation to her, but it carried weight with it, and it aroused a whole
train of recollections in her mind, culminating in the accident of the
afternoon. She remembered vividly what she had felt during those long
minutes before Alexander had recovered consciousness, and she knew that
her feelings bore not the slightest relation to love. She had been
terrified, and had blamed herself, and had thought of his mother; but
the idea that he might be dead had not hurt her as it would have done
had she loved him. She had felt no wild grief, no awful sense of
blankness; the tears which had risen to her eyes had been tears of pity,
of genuine sorrow, but not of despair. She tried to think what she would
have felt had she seen Paul lying dead before her, and the mere idea
sent a sharp thrust through her heart that almost frightened her.

"Well, my dear," said John, at last, "can you give me an answer? Do you
mean to marry Paul or Alexander, or neither?"

"Not Alexander,--oh, never!" exclaimed Hermione. "I never thought of
such a thing."

"Paul, then?"

"Papa, dear," said the young girl, after a moment's hesitation, "I will
tell you all about it. When Paul came, I firmly intended to marry him.
Then I began to know Alexander--and--well, I was very wrong, but he
began to make pretty phrases, and to talk of loving me. Of course I told
him he was very foolish, and I laughed at him. But he only went on, and
said a great deal more, in spite of me. Then I thought that because I
could not stop him I was interested in him. Paul wanted to speak to you,
but I would not let him. I did not feel that my conscience was quite
clear. I was not sure that I should always love him. Do you see? I think
I love him, really, but Alexander interests me."

"But you never for a moment thought of marrying Alexander? You said so
just now."

"Oh, never! I laughed at him, and he amused me,--nothing more than
that."

"Then I don't quite see"--began John Carvel, who was rather puzzled by
the explanation.

"Of course not. You are a man,--how can you understand? I will promise
you this, papa: if I cannot make up my mind in a week, I will tell Paul
so."

"How will a week help you, my dear? Ever so many weeks have passed, and
you are still uncertain."

"I am sure that a week will make all the difference. I think I shall
have decided then. I am in earnest, dear papa," she added, gravely. "Do
you think I would willingly do anything to hurt Paul?"

"No, my dear, I don't," answered John Carvel. "Only--you might do it
unwillingly, you know, and as far as he is concerned it would come to
very much the same thing." And with this word of warning the interview
ended.

When I went home to dinner, I found Gregorios Balsamides seated on the
wooden bench under the honeysuckle outside my door. He had escaped from
the dust and heat of Pera, and had come to spend the night, sure of
finding a hearty welcome at my kiosk on the hill. I sat down beside him,
and he began asking me questions about the people who had arrived,
giving me in return the news and gossip of Pera.

"You have a very pretty place here," he said. "A man I knew took it last
summer, and used to give tea-parties and little fêtes in the evening. It
is easy to string lanterns from one tree to another, and it makes a very
pretty effect. It is a mild form of idiocy, it is true,--much milder
than the prevailing practice of dancing in-doors, with the thermometer
at the boiling point."

"It is not a bad idea," I answered. "We will experiment upon our friends
the Carvels in a small way. I will ask them and the Patoffs to come here
next Saturday. Can you come, too?"

The thing was settled, and Gregorios promised to be of the party. We
dined, and sat late together, talking long before we went to bed.
Gregorios is a soldier, and does not mind roughing it a little; so he
slept on the divan, and declared the next day that he had slept very
well.



XXIII.


Madame Patoff had not received the news of Alexander's accident with
indifference, and it had been necessary that he should assure her
himself that he was not seriously hurt before she could be quieted. He
had been badly stunned, however, and his head gave him much pain during
several days, as was natural enough. He spent most of his time on the
sofa in his mother's sitting-room, and she would sit for hours talking
to him and trying to soothe his pain. The sympathy between the two
seemed strengthened, and it was strange to see how, when together, their
manner changed. The relation between the mother and the spoiled child is
a very peculiar one, and occupies an entirely separate division in the
scale of human affections; for while the mother's love in such a case is
sincere, though generally founded on a mere capricious preference, the
over-indulged affection of the child breeds nothing but caprice and a
ruthless desire to see that caprice satisfied. Madame Patoff loved
Alexander so much that the belief in his death had driven her mad; he on
his side loved his mother because he knew that in all cases, just and
unjust, she would defend him, take his part, and help him to get what he
wanted. But he never missed her when they were separated, and he never
took any pains to see her unless in so doing he could satisfy some other
wish at the same time. He was selfish, willful, and obstinate at
two-and-thirty as he had been at ten years of age. His mother was
willful, obstinate, and capricious, but as far as he was concerned she
was incapable of selfishness.

What was most remarkable in her manner was her ease in talking with
Professor Cutter, and her indifference in referring to her past
insanity. She did not appear to realize it; she hardly seemed to care
whether any one knew it or not, and regarded it as an unfortunate
accident, but one which there was little object in concealing. As the
scientist talked with her and observed her, he opened his eyes wider and
wider behind his gold-rimmed spectacles, and grew more and more silent
when any one spoke to him of her. I knew later that he detected in her
conduct certain symptoms which alarmed him, but felt obliged to hold his
peace on account of the extreme difficulty of his position. He felt that
to watch her again, or to put her under any kind of restraint, might now
lead to far more serious results than before, and he determined to bide
his time. An incident occurred very soon, however, which helped him to
make up his mind.

One afternoon we arranged an excursion to the ruined castle of Anadoli
Kavák, on the Asian shore, near the mouth of the Black Sea. Mrs. Carvel,
who was not a good sailor, stayed at home, but Miss Dabstreak, Madame
Patoff, and Hermione were of the party, with Paul, Macaulay Carvel,
Professor Cutter, and myself. Macaulay had borrowed a good-sized cutter
from one of his many colleagues who kept yachts on the Bosphorus, and at
three o'clock in the afternoon we started from the Buyukdere quay. There
was a smart northerly breeze as we hoisted the jib, and it was evident
that we should have to make several tacks before we could beat up to our
destination. The boat was of about ten tons burden, with a full deck,
broken only by a well leading to the cabin; a low rail ran round the
bulwarks, for the yacht was intended for pleasure excursions and the
accommodation of ladies. The members of the party sat in a group on the
edge of the well, and I took the helm. Chrysophrasia was in a
particularly Oriental frame of mind. The deep blue sky, the emerald
green of the hills, and the cool clear water rippling under the breeze,
no doubt acted soothingly upon her nerves.

"I feel quite like Sindbad the Sailor," she said. "Mr. Griggs, you ought
really to tell us a tale from the Arabian Nights. I am sure it would
seem so very real, you know."

"If I were to spin yarns while steering, Miss Dabstreak," I said, "your
fate would probably resemble Sindbad's. You would be wrecked six or
seven times between here and Kavák."

"So delightfully exciting," murmured Chrysophrasia. "Annie," she
continued, addressing her sister, "shall we not ask Mr. Griggs to wreck
us? I have always longed to be on a wreck."

"No," said Madame Patoff, glancing at her foolish sister with her great
dark eyes. "I should not like to be drowned."

"Of course not; how very dreadful!" exclaimed Miss Dabstreak. "But
Sindbad was never drowned, you remember. It was always somebody else."

"Oh--somebody else," repeated Madame Patoff, looking down at the deep
water. "Yes, to drown somebody else,--that would be very different."

I think we were all a little startled, and Hermione looked at Paul and
turned pale. As for Cutter, he very slowly and solemnly drew a cigar
from his case, lit it carefully, crossed one knee over the other, and
gazed fixedly at Madame Patoff during several minutes, before he spoke.

"Would you really like to see anybody drowned?" he asked at last.

"Why do you ask?" inquired Madame Patoff, rather sharply.

"Because I thought you said so, and I wanted to know if you were in
earnest."

"I suppose we should all like to see our enemies die," said the old
lady. "Not painfully, of course, but so that we should be quite sure of
it." She laid a strong emphasis on the last words, and as she looked up
I thought she glanced at Paul.

"If you had seen many people die, you would not care for the sight,"
said the professor quietly. "Besides, you have no enemies."

"What is death?" asked Madame Patoff, looking at him with a curiously
calm smile as she asked the question.

"The only thing we know about it, is that it appears to be in every way
the opposite of life," was the scientist's answer. "Life separates us
for a time from the state of what we call inanimate matter. When life
ceases, we return to that state."

"Why do you say 'what we call inanimate matter'?" inquired Paul.

"Because it has been very well said that names are labels, not
definitions. As a definition, inanimate matter means generally the
earth, the water, the air; but the name would be a very poor
definition,--as poor as the word 'man' used to define the human animal."

"You do not think that inanimate matter is really lifeless?" I asked.

"Unless it is so hot that it melts," laughed the professor. "Even then
it may not be true,--indeed, it may be quite false. We call the moon
dead, because we have reason to believe that she has cooled to the
centre. We call Jupiter and Saturn live planets, though we believe them
still too hot to support life."

"All that does not explain death," objected Madame Patoff.

"If I could explain death, I could explain life," answered Cutter. "And
if I could explain life, I should have made a great step towards
producing it artificially."

"If one could only produce artificial death!" exclaimed Madame Patoff.

"It would be very amusing," answered Cutter, with a smile, folding his
huge white hands upon his knee. "We could try it on ourselves, and then
we should know what to expect. I have often thought about it, I assure
you. I once had the curiosity to put myself into a trance by the Munich
method of shining disks,--they use it in the hospitals instead of ether,
you know,--and I remained in the state half an hour."

"And then, what happened when you woke up?"

"I had a bad headache and my eyes hurt me," replied the professor dryly.
"I dare say that if a dead man came to life he would feel much the same
thing."

"I dare say," assented Madame Patoff; but there was a vague look in her
eyes, which showed that her thoughts were somewhere else. We were close
upon the Asian shore, and I put the helm down to go about. The ladies
changed their places, and there was a little confusion, in which Cutter
found himself close to me.

"Keep an eye on her," he said quickly, in a low voice. "She is very
queer."

I thought so, too, and I watched Madame Patoff to see whether she would
return to the subject which seemed to attract her. Cutter kept up the
conversation, however, and did not again show any apprehension about his
former patient's state of mind, though I could see that he watched her
as closely as I did. The fresh breeze filled the sails, and the next
tack took us clear up to Yeni Mahallè on the European side; for the
little yacht was quick in stays, and, moreover, had a good hold on the
water, enabling her to beat quickly up against wind and current. Once
again I went about, and, running briskly across, made the little pier
below Anadoli Kavák, little more than three quarters of an hour after we
had started. We landed, and went up the green slope to the place where
the little coffee-shop stands under the trees. We intended to climb the
hill to the ruined castle. To my surprise, Professor Cutter suggested to
Madame Patoff that they should stay below, while the rest made the
ascent. He said he feared she would tire herself too much. But she would
not listen to him.

"I insist upon going," she said. "I am as strong as any of you. It is
quite absurd."

Cutter temporized by suggesting that we should have coffee before the
walk, and Chrysophrasia sank languidly down upon a straw chair.

"If the man has any loukoum, I could bear a cup of coffee," she
murmured. The man had loukoum, it appeared, and Chrysophrasia was
satisfied. We all sat down in a circle under the huge oak-tree, and
enjoyed the freshness and greenness of the place. The kaffeji, in loose
white garments and a fez, presently brought out a polished brass tray,
bearing the requisite number of tiny cups and two little white saucers
filled with pieces of loukoum-rahat, the Turkish national sweetmeat,
commonly called by schoolboys fig-paste.

"Why was I not born a Turk!" exclaimed Chrysophrasia. "This joyous life
in the open air is so intensely real, so profoundly true!"

"Life is real anywhere," remarked Cutter, with a smile. "The important
question is whether it is agreeable to the liver."

"Death is real, too," said Madame Patoff, in such a curious tone that we
all started slightly, as we had done in the boat. My nerves are good,
but I felt a weird horror of the woman stealing over me. The
imperturbable scientist only glanced at me, as though to remind me of
what he had said before. Then he took up the question.

"No, madam," he said, coldly. "Death is a negation, almost a universal
negation. It is not real; it only devours reality, and then denies it.
You can see that life is to breathe, to think, to eat, to drink, to
love, to fear,--any of these. Death is only the negation of all these
things, because we can only say that in death we do none of them.
Reality is motion, in the broad sense, as far as man is concerned; death
is only the cessation of the ability to move. You cannot predicate
anything else of it."

"Oh, your dry, dry science!" exclaimed Chrysophrasia, casting
up her green eyes. "You would turn our fair fields and
limpid--ahem--skies--into the joyless waste of a London pavement, or one
of your horrid dissecting-rooms!"

"I don't see the point of your simile, Miss Dabstreak," answered Cutter,
with pardonable bluntness. "Besides, that is philosophy, and not
science."

"What is the difference. Mr. Griggs?" asked Hermione, turning to me.

"My dear young lady," said I, "science, I think, means the state of
being wise, and hence, the thing known, which gives a man the title of
wise. Philosophy means the love of wisdom."

"Rather involved definition," observed the professor, with a laugh.
"There is not much difference between the state of being wise and the
state of loving wisdom."

"The one asserts the possession of that which the other aspires to
possess, but considers to be very difficult of attainment," I tried to
explain. "The scientist says to the world, 'I have found the origin of
life: it is protoplasm, it is your God, and all your religious beliefs
are merely the result of your ignorance of protoplasm.' The philosopher
answers, 'I allow that this protoplasm is the origin of life, but how
did this origin itself originate? And if you can show how it originated
from inanimate matter, how did the inanimate matter begin to exist? And
how was space found in which it could exist? And why does anything
exist, animate or inanimate? And is the existence of matter a proof of a
supreme design, or is it not?' Thereupon science gets very red in the
face, and says that these questions are absurd, after previously stating
that everything ought to be questioned."

"Science," answered the professor, "says that man has enough to do in
questioning his immediate surroundings, without going into the matter of
transcendental inquiry."

"Then she ought to keep to her own proper sphere," said I, waxing hot.
"The fact is that science, armed with miserably imperfect tools, but
unbounded assumption, has discovered a jelly-fish in a basin of water,
and has deduced from that premise the tremendous conclusion that there
is no God."

"That is strong language, Mr. Griggs,--very strong language," repeated
the professor. "You exaggerate the position too much, I think. But it is
useless to argue with transcendentalists. You always fall back upon the
question of faith, and you refuse to listen to reason."

"When you can disprove our position, we will listen to your proof. But
since the whole human race, as far as we can ascertain, without any
exception whatsoever, has believed always in the survival of the soul
after death, allow me to say that when you deny the existence of the
soul the _onus probandi_ lies with you, and not with us."

Therewith I drank my coffee in silence, and looked at the half-naked
Turkish children playing upon the little pier over the bright water. It
struck me that if the learned scientist had told them that they had no
souls, they would have laughed at him very heartily. I think that in the
opinion of the company I had the best of the argument, and Cutter knew
it, for he did not answer.

"I have always believed that I have a soul," said Macaulay Carvel, in
his smooth, monotonous tone. But there was as much conviction in his
tone as though he had expressed his belief in the fact that he had a
nose.

"Of course you have," said Hermione. "Let us go up to the castle and see
the view before it is too late. Aunt Annie, do wait for us here; it is
very tiring, really."

"You seem to think I am a decrepit old woman," answered Madame Patoff,
impatiently, as she rose from her chair.

Paul felt that it was his duty to offer his mother his arm for the
ascent, though the professor came forward at the same moment.

"Dear Paul, you are so good," said she, accepting his assistance as we
began to climb the hill.

I saw her face in that moment. It was as calm and beautiful as ever, but
I thought she glanced sideways to see whether every one had heard her
speech and appreciated it. Little was said as we breasted the steep
ascent, for the path was rough, and there was barely room for two people
to walk side by side. At last we emerged upon a broad slope of grass
outside the walls of the old fortress. A goatherd lives inside it, and
has turned the old half-open vaults into a stable for his flocks. We
paused under the high walls, which on one side are built above the
precipitous cliff, with a sheer fall of a hundred feet or more. Towards
the land they are not more than forty feet high, where the grass grows
up to their base. There is a curious gate on that side, with the carved
arms of the Genoese republic imbedded in the brick masonry.

Some one suggested that we should go inside, and after a short interview
with the goatherd he consented to chain up his enormous dog, and let us
pass the small wooden gate which leads to the interior. Inside the
fortress the falling in of the roof and walls has filled the old court
so that it is nearly on a level with the walls. It is easy to scramble
up to the top, and the thickness is so great that it is safe to walk
along for a little distance, provided one does not go too near the edge.
We wandered about below, and some of us climbed up to see the beautiful
view, which extends far down the Bosphorus on the one side, and looks
over the broad Black Sea on the other. Madame Patoff still leaned on
Paul's arm, while the professor gallantly helped the languid
Chrysophrasia to reach the most accessible places. Macaulay was engaged
in an attempt to measure the circumference of the castle, and rambled
about in quest of facts, as usual, noting down the figures in his
pocket-book very conscientiously. I was left alone with Hermione for a
few minutes. We sat down on a heap of broken masonry to rest, talking of
the place and its history. Hermione was so placed that she could not see
the top of the wall which overhung the precipice on the outer side, but
from where I sat I could watch Paul slowly helping his mother to reach
the top.

"It belonged to the Genoese, and was built by them," I said. "The arms
over the gate are theirs. Perhaps you noticed them." Paul and his mother
had reached the summit of the wall, and were standing there, looking out
at the view.

"How did the Genoese come to be here?" asked Hermione, digging her
parasol into the loose earth.

"They were once very powerful in Constantinople," I answered. "They held
Pera for many years, and"----

I broke off with an exclamation of horror, starting to my feet at the
same instant. I had idly watched the mother and son as they stood
together, and I could hear their voices as they spoke. Suddenly, and
without a moment's warning, Madame Patoff put out her hand, and seemed
to push Paul with all her might. He stumbled, and fell upon the edge,
but from my position I could not tell whether he had saved himself or
had fallen into the abyss.

I suppose Hermione followed my look, and saw that Madame Patoff was
standing alone upon the top, but I did not stop to speak or explain. I
sprang upon the wall, and in a second more I saw that Paul had fallen
his full length along the brink, but had saved himself, and was
scrambling to his feet. Madame Patoff stood quite still, her face rigid
and drawn, and an expression of horror in her eyes that was bad to see.
But I was not alone in coming to Paul's assistance. As I put out my arm
to help him to his feet, I saw Hermione's small hands lay hold of him
with desperate strength, dragging him from the fatal brink. But Paul was
unhurt, and was on his legs in another moment. He was ghastly white, and
his lips worked curiously as his eyes settled on his mother's face.

"How did it happen?" asked Hermione, as soon as she could speak, but
still clinging to his arm, while she glanced inquiringly at her aunt.

"I do not know," said Paul, in a thick voice, between his teeth.

"I was dizzy," gasped Madame Patoff. "I put out my hand to save
myself"----

"Do me the favor to come down from this place at once," I said, grasping
her firmly by the arm, and leading her away.

"Paul, Paul, how did it happen?" I heard Hermione saying, as we
descended.

But Paul's lips were resolutely shut, and he would say nothing more
about it. Indeed, he was badly startled, but I knew his paleness was not
caused by fear. In my own mind the conviction was strong that his mother
had deliberately attempted to murder him by pushing him over the edge. I
remembered Cutter's warning, and I wondered that he should have allowed
her to go out of his sight since he recognized the condition of her
brain, but a moment's reflection made me recollect that I had understood
him differently. He had meant that she might try to kill herself, not
her son; and that had been my own impression, for it was not till later
that I learned how she had spoken of Paul to herself, that night in
Pera, after the ball. At that time the professor knew more about the
matter than I did, for Hermione had confided in him when they were alone
in Santa Sophia.

I think Madame Patoff tried to explain the accident to me as I got her
down into the ruined court, but I do not remember what she said. My only
wish was to get the party back to Buyukdere, and to be alone with Cutter
for five minutes.

"Patoff has met with an accident," I said, as the others came up. "He
stumbled near the edge of the wall, and is badly shaken. We had better
go home."

There was very little explanation needed, and Paul protested that he had
incurred no danger, though he acquiesced readily enough to the
suggestion. I did not let Madame Patoff leave my arm until we were once
more on board the little yacht, for I was convinced that the woman was
dangerously mad. The drawn expression of her pale face did not change,
and she soon ceased speaking altogether. I noted the fact that in all
the excitement of the moment she expressed no satisfaction at Paul's
escape. It was not until we reached the water that she said something
about "dear Paul," in a tone that made me shudder. We were a silent
party as we ran down the wind to Buyukdere. Cutter sat beside Madame
Patoff, and watched her curiously; for the expression of her face had
not escaped him, though he had no idea of what had happened. Sitting on
the deck, at the edge of the wall, she looked down at the water as we
rushed along.

"What do you see in the water?" asked the professor, quietly. The answer
came in a very low voice, but I heard it as I stood by the helm:--

"I see a man's face under the water, looking up at me."

"And whose face is it?" inquired Cutter, in the same matter-of-fact
tone.

"I will not tell you, nor any one," she answered. Cutter looked up at me
to see whether I had heard, and I nodded to him. In a few minutes we
were alongside of the pier. I refused Chrysophrasia's not very pressing
invitation to tea, and, bidding good-by to the rest, I put my arm
through the professor's. He seemed ready enough to go with me, so we
walked along the smooth quay in the sunset, arm in arm.

"I wanted to speak to you," I said. "You ought to know what happened up
there this afternoon. Madame Patoff tried to push Paul over the edge. It
was a deliberate attempt to murder him." Cutter stopped in his walk and
looked earnestly into my face.

"Did you see it yourself? Did you positively see it, or is that only
your impression?"

"I saw it," I answered, shortly.

"She is quite mad still, then. No one but a mad woman would attempt such
a thing. What is worse, it is a fixed idea that she has." He told me
what Hermione had confided to him.

"Then Paul's life is not safe for a moment," I said, after a moment's
pause.

"Unless his brother marries Miss Carvel, I would advise him to be on his
guard when he is alone with his mother. He is safe enough when other
people are present. I know those cases. They are sly, cautious, timid.
She will try and push him over the edge of a precipice when nobody is
looking. Before you she will call him 'dear Paul,' and all the rest of
it."

"That looks to me more like the cunning of a murderess than the slyness
of a maniac," I said.

"Most murderers are only maniacs, mad people," answered the professor.
"Men and women are born with a certain tendency of mind which makes them
easily brood over an idea. Their life and circumstances foster one
particular notion, till it gets a predominant weight in their weak
reasoning. The occasion presents itself, and they carry out the plan
they have been forming for years in secret, or even unconsciously. If in
carrying out their ideas they kill anybody, it is called murder. It
makes very little difference what you call it. The law distinguishes
between crimes premeditated and crimes unpremeditated. Murder, willful
and premeditated, involves in my opinion a process of mind so similar to
that found in lunatics that it is impossible to distinguish the one from
the other, and I am quite ready to believe that all premeditated murders
are brought about by mental aberration in the murderer. On the other
hand, manslaughter, quick, sudden, and unplanned, is the result of more
or less inhuman instincts, and those who commit the crime are people who
approach more or less nearly to wild beasts. For the advancement of
science, murderers should not be hanged, but should be kept as
interesting cases of insanity. Much might be learned by carefully
observing the action of their minds upon ordinary occasions. As for
homicides, or manslaughterers,--I wish we could use the English
word,--they are less attractive as a study, and I do not care what
becomes of them. The brain of a freshly killed tiger would be far more
interesting."

"What do you propose to do with Madame Patoff?" I asked. "You do not
suppose that Miss Carvel will marry Alexander Patoff in order to prevent
his mother from murdering Paul?"

"She ought to," answered Cutter, quietly. "It would be most curious to
see whether there would be any change in her fixed dislike of the
younger son."

"And do you mean that that young girl should sacrifice her life to your
experiments?" I asked, rather hotly. I hated the coldness of the man,
and his ruthless determination to make scientific capital out of other
people's troubles.

"I can neither propose nor dispose," he answered. "I only wish that it
might be so. After all, she could be quite as happy with Alexander as
with Paul. I doubt whether she has a strong preference for either."

"You are mistaken," said I. "She loves Paul much more than she herself
imagines. I saw her face to-day when Paul was lying on the edge of the
precipice. You did not. I have watched them ever since they have been
together in Constantinople, and I am convinced that she loves Paul, and
not Alexander. What do you intend to do with Madame Patoff? You know I
have a little party at my cottage on Saturday,--you promised to come. Is
it safe to let her come, too?"

"Perfectly," answered my companion. "The only thing to be done at
present is to prevent her remaining alone with Paul."

"Suppose that Paul tells what happened this afternoon. What then?"

"He will not tell it. I have a great admiration for the fellow, he is so
manly. If she had done worse than that, he would not tell any one,
because she is his mother. But he will be on his guard, never fear. She
will not get such a chance again. Good-night."

The professor left me at the door of the garden through which I had to
pass to reach the little kiosk. I walked slowly up through the roses
and the flowers, meditating as I went. Paul had a new enemy in the
professor, who would certainly try and help Alexander, in order to
continue his experiments upon Madame Patoff's mind. Poor Paul! He seemed
to be persecuted by an evil fate, and I pitied him sincerely.



XXIV.


It was Saturday afternoon, and my preparations for my little tea-party
were complete. Gregorios Balsamides had arrived from Pera, and we were
waiting for the Carvels, seated on the long bench before the house,
where the view overlooks the Bosphorus. The sun had almost set, and the
hills of Asia were already tinged with golden light, which caught the
walls of the white mosque on the Giant's Mountain,--the Yusha-Dagh,
where the Mussulmans believe that Joshua's body lies buried; Anadoli
Kavák was bathed in a soft radiance, in which every line of the old
fortress stood out clear and distinct, so that I could see the very spot
where Paul had fallen a few days before; the far mouth of the Black Sea
looked cold and gray in the shadows below the hills, but down below, the
big steamers, the little yachts, the outlandish Turkish schooners, and
the tiny caïques moved quickly about in the evening sunshine. My garden
was become a wilderness of roses in the soft spring weather, too, and
each flower took a warmer hue as the sun sank in the west, and slowly
neared the point where it would drop behind the European foreland.

The kiosk was a wooden building, narrow and tall, so that the rooms
within were high, and the second story was twenty feet above the ground.
I had caused hundreds of lamps to be hung within and without, to be
lighted so soon as the darkness set in, and my man, who has an especial
talent for all sorts of illuminations, and in general for everything
which in Southern Italy comes under the head of 'festa,' had borrowed
long strings of little signal-flags and streamers, which he had hung
fantastically from the house to the surrounding trees. When once the
lamps should be lighted the effect would be very pretty, and to the eyes
of English people utterly new.

Gregorios sat beside me on the garden seat, and we talked of Madame
Patoff and her latest doings. My mind was not at rest about her, and I
inwardly wished that some accident might prevent her from coming that
day. I had more than once almost determined to speak to my old friend
John Carvel, and to tell him what had occurred at Anadoli Kavák. Nothing
but my respect for Professor Cutter's opinion as a specialist had
prevented me from doing so; but now, at the last moment, I wished I had
not been overruled, for I had an unpleasant conviction that his prudence
had been forgotten in his desire to study the case. For men of his
profession there seems to be an absorbing interest in deciding the
question of where crime ends and madness begins, and to put Madame
Patoff under restraint would have been to cut short one of the most
valuable experiences of Cutter's life. He probably knew that in the
present stage of her malady such a proceeding would very likely have
driven her into hopeless and evident insanity. I could have forgiven him
if I had thought that he regarded the question from a moralist's point
of view, and balanced the danger of leaving the unfortunate woman at
large against the possible advantage she herself might gain from
enjoying unrestricted liberty. But I was sure that the scientist was not
thinking of that. He had expressed interest rather than horror at her
attempt to push Paul over the edge of the wall. He had answered my
anxious questions concerning the treatment of Madame Patoff by a short
dissertation on insanity in general, and had left me to continue his
studies, regardless of any danger to his patient's relations. The moral
point of view shrank into insignificance as he became more and more
absorbed in the result of the case, and I believe that he would have let
us all perish, if necessary, rather than consent to relinquish his
study. He might have regretted his indifference afterwards, especially
if he had arrived at no satisfactory conclusion in regard to the unhappy
woman; but in the fervor of scientific speculation, minor considerations
of safety were forgotten. Cutter is not a bad man, though he is
ruthless. He would be incapable of doing any one an injury from a
personal motive, but in comparison with the importance of one of his
theories the life of a man is no more to him than the life of a dog. I
said something of that kind to Balsamides.

"My dear fellow," he answered, "do you expect common sense from people
who waste their lives in such a senseless fashion? Can anything be more
absurd than to attempt to explain the vagaries of a diseased mind? They
call that science in the professor's country. They may as well give it
up. They will never ultimately discover any better treatment for
dangerous lunatics than solid bolts and barred windows."

"I believe you are right," I said. "If we could put medicine into the
head as we can into the stomach, something might be accomplished. It is
very unpleasant to think that I am to entertain a lady at my tea-party
who only the other day tried to murder her son in my sight."

"Very," assented Gregorios. "Here they come."

We heard the sound of voices in the garden, and rose to meet the party
as they came up towards the house. None of them had been to see me
before, except Paul, and they at once launched into extravagant praises
of the view and of the kiosk. Chrysophrasia raved about the sunset
effects, and Hermione was delighted with the way the flags were
arranged. Macaulay consulted his pocket barometer to see how many feet
above the sea the house was built, and declared that the air must be far
more healthy in such a place than on the quay. Madame Patoff looked
silently out at the view, leaning on Alexander's arm, while John Carvel
and his wife stood close together, smiling and appreciative, the ideal
of a well-assorted and perfectly happy middle-aged couple. Cutter
talked to Balsamides, and Paul followed Hermione as she slowly moved
from point to point. I stood alone for a few moments, and looked at
them, going over in my mind all that had happened during the last seven
months, and wondering how it would all end.

These ten people had lived much together, and had found themselves
lately united in some very strange occurrences. With the exception of
Balsamides and the professor, they were all nearly related, and yet they
were as unlike each other as people of one family could be. The gentle,
saintly Mary Carvel had little in common with her æsthetic sister
Chrysophrasia Dabstreak, and neither of them was very like Madame
Patoff. Sturdy John Carvel was not like his sleek son Macaulay, except
in honesty and good-nature. Alexander Patoff was indeed like his mother,
but Paul's stern, cold nature was that of his father, long dead and
forgotten. As for Hermione, she presented a combination of character
derived from the best points in her father and mother, marred only, I
thought, by a little of that vacillation which was the chief
characteristic of her aunt Chrysophrasia. Cutter and Balsamides were men
of widely different nationalities and temperaments: the one a ruthless
scientist, the other an equally ruthless fatalist; the one ready to
sacrifice the lives of others to a fanatic worship of his profession,
the other willing to sacrifice himself to the inevitable with heroic
courage, but holding other men's lives as of no more value than his own.
A strange company, I thought, and yet in many respects a most
interesting company, too.

"Shall we go in-doors and have tea?" I said after a few moments,
collecting my guests together. "The view is even better from the windows
above."

I led them into the stone-paved vestibule of the wooden house, and up
the wooden stairs to the upper story. Presently they were all installed
in the large room where the preparations for the small festivity had
been made, and I began to do the honors of my bachelor establishment.
In a Turkish family, the room where we sat, and the three others upon
the same floor, would have been set apart for the harem, for one door
separated them from the staircase and from all the rest of the house,--a
large strong door, painted white, and provided with an excellent lock
and key. I had selected one room for my bedroom, and the rest were
furnished with Oriental simplicity, not to say economy. But Balsamides
had sent down a bale of beautiful carpets, which he lent me for the
occasion, and which I had hung upon the walls and spread upon the floors
and divans. Tea, coffee, sherbet, a beautiful view, and a little
illumination of the gardens, constituted the whole entertainment, but
the enthusiasm of my guests knew no bounds, probably because they had
never seen anything of the kind before.

"Griggs is growing to be a true Oriental," said Balsamides, approvingly;
"he understands how the Turks live."

"Yes," I answered, "I present you the thing in all its bareness. You may
take this as a specimen of an Eastern house. People are apt to fancy
that those long, latticed houses on the Bosphorus conceal unheard-of
luxuries, and that the people live like Sybarites. It is quite untrue.
They either try to imitate the French style, and do it horribly, or else
they live in great bare rooms like these."

"What do the women do all day long?" asked Chrysophrasia. "I am sure
they do not pass their time upon a straw matting, staring at each
other,--so very dreary!"

"Nevertheless they do," said Gregorios. "They smoke and eat sweetmeats
from morning till night, and occasionally an old woman comes and tells
them stories. Some of them can read French. They learn it in order to
read novels, but cannot speak a word of the language."

"Dreary, dreary!" sighed Chrysophrasia. "And then, the division of the
affections, you know,--so sad."

"Many of them die of consumption," said Gregorios.

"It would be curious to watch the phases of their intelligence," said
the professor, slowly sipping his coffee, and staring out of the window
through his great gold-rimmed spectacles.

The sun had gone down, and the darkness gathered quickly over the
beautiful scene. At one of the windows Hermione sat silently enjoying
the evening breeze; Alexander was seated beside her, while Paul stood
looking out over her head. Neither of the two men spoke, but from time
to time they exchanged glances which were anything but friendly.
Outside, my man and the gardener were lighting the little lamps, and
gradually, as each glass cup received its tiny light, the festoons of
white and red grew, and seemed to creep stealthily from tree to tree.
The conversation languished, and the deepening twilight brought with it
that pleasant silence which is the very embodiment of rest descending at
evening on the tired earth.

"It is like an evening hymn," said Mrs. Carvel, whose gentle features
were barely visible in the gloom.

No one spoke, but I fancied I saw John Carvel lay his hand
affectionately on his wife's arm, as they sat together. There was a
light above the eastern hills, brightening quickly as we looked, and
presently the full moon rose and shed her rays through the low open
windows, making our faces look white and deathly in the dark room. It
shone on Madame Patoff's marble features, and cast strange shadows
around her mouth.

"Shall we have lights?" I asked. There was a general refusal; everybody
preferred the moonlight, which now flooded the apartment.

"It seems to me," said Chrysophrasia, half sadly,--"it seems to me--ah,
no! I must be mistaken,--and yet--it seems to me that I smell something
burning."

"I think it is the lamps outside," I answered. No one else took any
notice of the speech, which jarred upon the pleasant stillness. I myself
thought she was mistaken.

"What a wonderful contrast!" said Hermione. "I mean the lamps and the
moonlight." Then she added, suddenly, "Do you know, Mr. Griggs, there
is really something burning. I can smell it quite well."

A fire in a Turkish house is a serious matter. The old beams and boarded
walls are like so much tinder, and burn up immediately, as though soaked
with some inflammable liquid. I rose, and went out to see if there were
anything wrong. As I opened the door which shut off the whole apartment
from the stairs, I heard a strange crackling sound, and outside the
window of the staircase, which was in the back of the house, I saw a red
glare, which brightened in the moment while I watched it. I did not go
further, for I knew the danger was imminent.

"Will you be good enough to come down-stairs?" I said, quietly, as I
re-entered the room where my guests were assembled. "I am afraid
something is wrong, but there is plenty of time."

A considerable confusion ensued, and everybody rushed to the door.
Protestations were vain, for all the women were frightened, and all the
men were anxious to help them. The sight of the flames outside the
window redoubled their fears, and they rushed out, stumbling on the
dusky landing. In the confusion of the moment I did not realize how it
all happened. Chrysophrasia, who was mad with fright, caught her foot
against something, and fell close beside me. The other ladies were
already down-stairs, I thought. I picked her up and carried her down as
fast as I could, and out into the garden.

"Come away from the house!" I cried. "Away from the trees!"
Chrysophrasia was senseless with fear, and I bore her hastily on till I
reached the fountain, some twenty yards down the hill. There I put her
down upon a bench. There were two buckets and a couple of watering-pots
there, and I shouted to the other men to come to me, as I filled two of
the vessels and ran round to the back of the house. I passed Madame
Patoff, standing alone under a festoon of little lamps, by a tree, and I
remember the strange expression of gladness which was on her face. But
I had no time to speak to her, and rushed on with my water-cans.

Meanwhile the flames rose higher and higher, crackling and licking the
brown face of the old timber. There was small chance of saving the
building now. My men had been busy lighting the lamps in the garden, but
I found them already on the spot, dipping water out of a small cistern
with buckets, and dashing it into the fire with all their might, their
dark faces grim and set in the light of the flames. I worked as hard as
I could, supposing that all the party were safe. I had no idea of what
was going on upon the opposite side of the house. In truth, it was
horrible enough.

Paul and Cutter were very self-possessed, and their first care was to
see that all the four ladies were safe. They had Hermione and her mother
with them, and, taking the direction of the fountain, they found
Chrysophrasia upon the bench where I had left her, in a violent fit of
hysterics. Madame Patoff was not there.

"I was going back for aunt Annie," said Macaulay Carvel, "for I counted
them as they came out, and missed her. She ran right into my arms as I
stood in the door. She is somewhere in the garden; I am quite sure of
it."

Cutter hurried off, and began to search among the trees. Already the
bright flames could be seen in the lower story, and in a moment more the
glass of one of the windows cracked loudly, and the fire leapt through.
Then from the high windows above a voice was heard calling, loud and
clear, to those below.

"The door is locked! Can any one help me?" The voice belonged to
Gregorios, and the party looked into each other's faces in sudden
horror, and then glanced at the burning house.

"Save him! Save him!" cried Hermione. But Paul had already left her
side, and had reached the open door of the porch. Alexander stood still,
staring at the flames.

"He saved you," said Hermione, grasping his arm fiercely. "Will you do
nothing to help him?"

"Paul is gone already," answered Alexander, impatiently. "There is
nothing the matter. Paul will let him out."

But the other men were less apathetic, and had followed the brave man to
the door. He had disappeared already, and as they came up a tremendous
puff of smoke and ashes was blown into their faces, stifling and burning
them, so that they drew back.

"Jump for your life!" shouted John Carvel, looking up at the window from
which the voice had proceeded.

"Yes, jump!" cried Alexander, who had reluctantly followed. "We will
catch you in our arms!"

But no one answered them. Nothing was heard but the crackling of the
burning timber and the roaring of the flames, during the awful moments
which followed. Stupefied with horror, the three men stood staring
stupidly at the hideous sight. Then suddenly another huge puff of smoke
and fiery sparks burst from the door, and with it a dark mass flew
forward, as though shot from a cannon's mouth, and fell in a heap upon
the ground outside. All three ran forward, but some one else was there
before them, dragging away a thick carpet, of which the wool was all
singed and burning.

There lay Gregorios Balsamides as he had fallen, stumbling on the
doorstep, with the heavy body of Paul Patoff in his arms. Hermione fell
on her knees and shrieked aloud. It was plain enough. Paul, without the
least protection from the flames, had struggled up the burning
staircase, and had unlocked the door, losing consciousness as he opened
it. Gregorios, who was not to be outdone in bravery, and whom no danger
could frighten from his senses, had wrapped a carpet round the injured
man, and, throwing another over his own head, had borne him back through
the fire, the steps of the wooden staircase, already in flames, almost
breaking under his tread. But he had done the deed, and had lived
through it.

He looked up faintly at Hermione as she bent over them both.

"I think he is alive," he gasped, and fainted upon the ground.

They bore the two senseless bodies to the fountain, and laid them down,
and sprinkled water on their faces. Behind them they could hear the
crash of the first timbers falling in, as the fire reached the upper
story of the kiosk; at their feet they saw only the still, pale faces of
the men who had been ready to give their lives for each other.

But Cutter had gone in search of Madame Patoff, during the five minutes
which had sufficed for the enacting of this scene. He had found her
where I had passed her, looking up with a strange smile at the doomed
house.

"Paul is looking for you," said the professor, taking her arm under his.
She started, and trembled violently.

"Paul!" she cried in surprise. Then, with a wild laugh, she stared into
Cutter's eyes. He had heard that laugh many a time in his experience,
and he silently tightened his grip upon her arm.

"Paul!" she repeated wildly. "There is no more Paul," she added,
suddenly lowering her voice, and speaking confidentially. "Hermione can
marry my dear Alexander now. There is no more Paul. You do not know? It
was so quickly done. He stayed behind in the room, and I locked the
door, so tight, so fast. He can never get out. Ah!" she screamed all at
once, "I am so glad! Let me go--let me go"----

At that moment I came upon them. Relinquishing all hopes of saving the
house, and wondering vaguely, in my confusion of mind, why nobody had
come to help me, I called my two men off, and was going to see what had
become of the party. I found Madame Patoff a raving maniac, struggling
in the gigantic hands of the sturdy scientist. I will not dwell upon the
hideous scene which followed. It was the last time I ever saw her, and I
pray that I may never again see man or woman in such a condition.

Meanwhile, the two men who lay by the fountain in the moonlight showed
signs of life. Gregorios first came to himself, for he had only fainted.
He was in great pain, but was as eager as the rest to restore Paul to
consciousness. Patoff was almost asphyxiated by the smoke, his hair and
eyebrows and mustache were almost burnt off, and his right hand was
injured. But he was alive, and at last he opened his eyes. In a quarter
of an hour he could be helped upon his feet. Balsamides was already
standing, and Paul caught at his hand.

"Not that arm," said Gregorios calmly, holding out the other. In his
fall he had broken his wrist.

In answer to my cries, the two Carvels left the injured men and came to
our assistance, while we struggled with the mad woman, who seemed
possessed of the strength of a dozen athletes. Hermione was left by the
fountain.

"I was quite sure it would be all right," said Alexander to her,
presently. It was more than the young girl could bear. She turned upon
him fiercely, and her beautiful face was very white.

"I despise you!" she exclaimed. That was all she said, but in the next
moment she turned and threw her arms about Paul's neck, and kissed his
burnt and wounded face before them all.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is little more to be said, for my story is told to the end. When I
found them all together, Gregorios took me aside and drew a crumpled
mass of papers from his pocket with his uninjured hand.

"I stayed behind to save your papers and your money," he said quietly.
"I have seen houses burn before, and there is generally no time to be
lost."

I wonder what there is at the bottom of that man's strange nature. Cold,
indifferent, and fatalistic, apparently one of the most selfish of men,
he nevertheless seems to possess somewhere a kind of devoted heroism, an
untainted quality of friendship only too rare in our day.

Hermione Carvel is to be married to Paul in the autumn, but there is
reason to believe that Alexander, who has rejoined his regiment in St.
Petersburg, will not find it convenient to be at the wedding. When
Balsamides was crying for help from the upper window, and when Alexander
stood quietly by Hermione's side while his brother faced the danger, the
die was cast, and she saw what a wide gulf separated the two men, and
she knew that she loved the one and hated the other with a fierce
hatred.

Poor Madame Patoff is dead, but before he left Constantinople Professor
Cutter spent half an hour in trying to demonstrate to me that she might
have been cured if Hermione had married Alexander. I am glad he is gone,
for I always detested his theories.

So the story is ended, my dear friend; and if it is told badly, it is my
fault, for I assure you that I never in my life spent so exciting a
year. It has been a long tale, too, but you have told me that from time
to time you were interested in it; and, after all, a tale is but a tale,
and is a very different affair from an artistically constructed drama,
in which facts have to be softened, so as not to look too startling in
print. I have given you facts, and if you ever meet Gregorios Balsamides
he will tell you that I have exaggerated nothing. Moreover, if you will
take the trouble to visit Santa Sophia during the last nights of
Ramazán, you will understand how Alexander Patoff disappeared; and if
you will go over the house of Laleli Khanum Effendi, which is now to be
sold, you will see how impossible it was for him to escape from such a
place. In the garden above Mesar Burnu you will see the heap of ashes,
which is all that remains of the kiosk where I gave my unlucky
tea-party; and if you will turn up the bridle-path at the left of the
Belgrade road, a hundred yards before you reach the aqueduct, you will
come upon the spot where Gregorios threatened to kill Selim, the wicked
Lala, on that bitter March night. I dare say, also, that if you visit
any of these places by chance you will remember the strange scenes they
have witnessed, and I hope that you will also remember Paul Griggs, your
friend, who spun you this yarn because you asked him for a story, when
he was riding with you on that rainy afternoon last month. I only wish
you knew the Carvels, for I am sure you would like them, and you would
find Chrysophrasia very amusing.



       *       *       *       *       *



WRITINGS OF F. MARION CRAWFORD

12mo. Cloth


Corleone                                          $1.50
Casa Braccio. 2 vols.                              2.00
Taquisara                                          1.50
Saracinesca                                        1.50
Sant' Ilario                                       1.50
Don Orsino                                         1.50
Mr. Isaacs                                         1.50
A Cigarette-Maker's Romance, and Khaled            1.50
Marzio's Crucifix                                  1.50
An American Politician                             1.50
Paul Patoff                                        1.50
To Leeward                                         1.50
Dr. Claudius                                       1.50
Zoroaster                                          1.50
A Tale of a Lonely Parish                          1.50
With the Immortals                                 1.50
The Witch of Prague                                1.50
A Roman Singer                                     1.50
Greifenstein                                       1.50
Pietro Ghisleri                                    1.50
Katherine Lauderdale                               1.50
The Ralstons                                       1.50
Children of the King                               1.50
The Three Fates                                    1.50
Adam Johnstone's Son, and A Rose of Yesterday      1.50
Marion Darche                                      1.50
Love in Idleness                                   2.00
Via Crucis                                         1.50
In the Palace of the King                          1.50
Ave Roma Immortalis                               $3.00 net
Rulers of the South: Sicily, Calabria, Malta. 2 vols. $6.00 net.


CORLEONE

A TALE OF SICILY

The last of the famous Saracinesca Series

"It is by far the most stirring and dramatic of all the author's Italian
stories.... The plot is a masterly one, bringing at almost every page a
fresh surprise, keeping the reader in suspense to the very end."--_The
Times_, New York.


MR. ISAACS

"It is lofty and uplifting. It is strongly, sweetly, tenderly written.
It is in all respects an uncommon novel."--_The Literary World._


DR. CLAUDIUS

"The characters are strongly marked without any suspicion of caricature,
and the author's ideas on social and political subjects are often
brilliant and always striking. It is no exaggeration to say that there
is not a dull page in the book, which is peculiarly adapted for the
recreation of the student or thinker."--_Living Church._


A ROMAN SINGER

"A powerful story of art and love in Rome."--_The New York Observer._


AN AMERICAN POLITICIAN

"One of the characters is a visiting Englishman. Possibly Mr. Crawford's
long residence abroad has made him select such a hero as a safeguard
against slips, which does not seem to have been needed. His insight into
a phase of politics with which he could hardly be expected to be
familiar is remarkable."--_Buffalo Express._


TAQUISARA

"A charming story this is, and one which will certainly be liked by all
admirers of Mr. Crawford's work."--_New York Herald._


ADAM JOHNSTONE'S SON and A ROSE OF YESTERDAY

"It is not only one of the most enjoyable novels that Mr. Crawford has
ever written, but is a novel that will make people think."--_Boston
Beacon._

"Don't miss reading Marion Crawford's new novel, 'A Rose of Yesterday.'
It is brief, but beautiful and strong. It is as charming a piece of pure
idealism as ever came from Mr. Crawford's pen."--_Chicago Tribune._


SARACINESCA

"The work has two distinct merits, either of which would serve to make
it great: that of telling a perfect story in a perfect way, and of
giving a graphic picture of Roman society.... The story is exquisitely
told, and is the author's highest achievement, as yet, in the realm of
fiction."--_The Boston Traveler._


SANT' ILARIO

A SEQUEL TO SARACINESCA

"A singularly powerful and beautiful story.... It fulfils every
requirement of artistic fiction. It brings out what is most impressive
in human action, without owing any of its effectiveness to
sensationalism or artifice. It is natural, fluent in evolution,
accordant with experience, graphic in description, penetrating in
analysis, and absorbing in interest."--_The New York Tribune._


DON ORSINO

A SEQUEL TO SARACINESCA AND SANT' ILARIO

"Offers exceptional enjoyment in many ways, in the fascinating
absorption of good fiction, in the interest of faithful historic
accuracy, and in charm of style. The 'New Italy' is strikingly revealed
in 'Don Orsino.'"--_Boston Budget._


WITH THE IMMORTALS

"The strange central idea of the story could have occurred only to a
writer whose mind was very sensitive to the current of modern thought
and progress, while its execution, the setting it forth in proper
literary clothing, could be successfully attempted only by one whose
active literary ability should be fully equalled by his power of
assimilative knowledge both literary and scientific, and no less by his
courage, and so have a fascination entirely new for the habitual reader
of novels. Indeed, Mr. Crawford has succeeded in taking his readers
quite above the ordinary plane of novel interest."--_The Boston
Advertiser._


GREIFENSTEIN

"...Another notable contribution to the literature of the day. Like all
Mr. Crawford's work, this novel is crisp, clear, and vigorous, and will
be read with a great deal of interest."--_New York Evening Telegram._


A CIGARETTE-MAKER'S ROMANCE and KHALED

"It is a touching romance, filled with scenes of great dramatic
power."--_Boston Commercial Bulletin._

"It abounds in stirring incidents and barbaric picturesqueness; and the
love struggle of the unloved Khaled is manly in its simplicity and noble
in its ending."--_The Mail and Express._


THE WITCH OF PRAGUE

"The artistic skill with which this extraordinary story is constructed
and carried out is admirable and delightful.... Mr. Crawford has scored
a decided triumph, for the interest of the tale is sustained
throughout.... A very remarkable, powerful, and interesting
story."--_New York Tribune._


TO LEEWARD

"It is an admirable tale of Italian life told in a spirited way and far
better than most of the fiction current."--_San Francisco Chronicle._


ZOROASTER

"As a matter of literary art solely, we doubt if Mr. Crawford has ever
before given us better work than the description of Belshazzar's feast
with which the story begins, or the death-scene with which it
closes."--_The Christian Union_ (now _The Outlook_).


A TALE OF A LONELY PARISH

"It is a pleasure to have anything so perfect of its kind as this brief
and vivid story. It is doubly a success, being full of human sympathy,
as well as thoroughly artistic."--_The Critic._


MARZIO'S CRUCIFIX

"We take the liberty of saying that this work belongs to the highest
department of character-painting in words."--_The Churchman._


PAUL PATOFF

"It need scarcely be said that the story is skilfully and picturesquely
written, portraying sharply individual characters in well-defined
surroundings."--_New York Commercial Advertiser._


PIETRO GHISLERI

"The strength of the story lies not only in the artistic and highly
dramatic working out of the plot, but also in the penetrating analysis
and understanding of the impulsive and passionate Italian
character."--_Public Opinion._


THE CHILDREN OF THE KING

"One of the most artistic and exquisitely finished pieces of work that
Crawford has produced. The picturesque setting, Calabria and its
surroundings, the beautiful Sorrento and the Gulf of Salerno, with the
bewitching accessories that climate, sea, and sky afford, give Mr.
Crawford rich opportunities to show his rare descriptive powers. As a
whole the book is strong and beautiful through its simplicity."--_Public
Opinion._


MARION DARCHE

"We are disposed to rank 'Marion Darche' as the best of Mr. Crawford's
American stories."--_The Literary World._


KATHERINE LAUDERDALE

"It need scarcely be said that the story is skilfully and picturesquely
written, portraying sharply individual characters in well-defined
surroundings."--_New York Commercial Advertiser._


THE RALSTONS

"The whole group of character studies is strong and vivid."--_The
Literary World._


LOVE IN IDLENESS

"The story is told in the author's lightest vein; it is bright and
entertaining."--_The Literary World._


CASA BRACCIO

"We are grateful when Mr. Crawford keeps to his Italy. The poetry and
enchantment of the land are all his own, and 'Casa Braccio' gives
promise of being his masterpiece.... He has the life, the beauty, the
heart, and the soul of Italy at the tips of his fingers."--_Los Angeles
Express._


THE THREE FATES

"The strength of the story lies in portrayal of the aspirations,
disciplinary efforts, trials, and triumphs of the man who is a born
writer, and who by long and painful experiences learns the good that is
in him and the way in which to give it effectual expression. Taken for
all in all it is one of the most pleasing of all his productions in
fiction, and it affords a view of certain phases of American, or perhaps
we should say of New York, life that have not hitherto been treated with
anything like the same adequacy and felicity."--_Boston Beacon._


AVE ROMA IMMORTALIS

STUDIES FROM THE CHRONICLES OF ROME

In two Volumes. Fully Illustrated with Photogravures and Drawings in the
Text. Cloth. Crown 8vo. $6.00 net

"I have not for a long while read a book which pleased me more than Mr.
Crawford's 'Roma.' It is cast in a form so original and so available
that it must surely take the place of all other books about Rome which
are needed to help one to understand its story and its archæology....
The book has for me a rare interest."--DR. S. WEIR MITCHELL


THE RULERS OF THE SOUTH

SICILY, CALABRIA, AND MALTA

In two Volumes. Fully Illustrated with Photogravures and Drawings in the
Text. Cloth. Crown 8vo. $6.00 net

The author has gathered the threads of history and legend which have
wound themselves around the three kingdoms of Sicily, Calabria, and
Malta. Their history is of a long line of illustrious deeds, full of
stirring interest.

The illustrations are of unusual beauty, and have been reproduced in
both photogravure and half-tone.


VIA CRUCIS

A ROMANCE OF THE SECOND CRUSADE

"Throughout 'Via Crucis' the author shows not only the artist's
selective power and a sense of proportion and comparative values, but
the Christian's instinct for those things that it is well to think
upon.... Blessed is the book that exalts, and 'Via Crucis' merits that
beatitude."--_New York Times._


IN THE PALACE OF THE KING

A LOVE STORY OF OLD MADRID

"Marion Crawford's latest story, 'In the Palace of the King,' is quite
up to the level of his best works for cleverness, grace of style, and
sustained interest. It is, besides, to some extent a historical story,
the scene being the royal palace at Madrid, the author drawing the
characters of Philip II. and Don John of Austria, with an attempt, in a
broad impressionist way, at historic faithfulness. His reproduction of
the life at the Spanish court is as brilliant and picturesque as any of
his Italian scenes, and in minute study of detail is, in a real and
valuable sense, true history."--_The Advance._

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

66 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK





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