Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Visionaries
Author: Huneker, James, 1860-1921
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 "Visionaries" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



VISIONARIES

BY

JAMES HUNEKER


    J'aime les nuages ... là bas...!

    BAUDELAIRE


NEW YORK
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS
1916


COPYRIGHT, 1905,
BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

Published October, 1905.



A
MON CHER MAÎTRE

REMY DE GOURMONT
PARIS



CONTENTS

                                              PAGE

    I. A MASTER OF COBWEBS                       1

   II. THE EIGHTH DEADLY SIN                    23

  III. THE PURSE OF AHOLIBAH                    44

   IV. REBELS OF THE MOON                       64

    V. THE SPIRAL ROAD                          80

   VI. A MOCK SUN                              110

  VII. ANTICHRIST                              135

 VIII. THE ETERNAL DUEL                        145

   IX. THE ENCHANTED YODLER                    149

    X. THE THIRD KINGDOM                       168

   XI. THE HAUNTED HARPSICHORD                 188

  XII. THE TRAGIC WALL                         203

 XIII. A SENTIMENTAL REBELLION                 227

  XIV. HALL OF THE MISSING FOOTSTEPS           249

   XV. THE CURSORY LIGHT                       266

  XVI. AN IRON FAN                             278

 XVII. THE WOMAN WHO LOVED CHOPIN              289

XVIII. THE TUNE OF TIME                        309

  XIX. NADA                                    326

   XX. PAN                                     332



VISIONARIES



I

A MASTER OF COBWEBS


I

Alixe Van Kuyp sat in the first-tier box presented to her husband with
the accustomed heavy courtesy of the Société Harmonique. She went early
to the hall that she might hear the entire music-making of the
evening--Van Kuyp's tone-poem, Sordello, was on the programme between a
Weber overture and a Beethoven symphony, an unusual honour for a young
American composer. If she had gone late, it would have seemed an
affectation, she reasoned. Her husband kept within doors; she could tell
him all. And then, was there not Elvard Rentgen?

She regretted that she had invited the Parisian critic to her box. It
happened at a _soirée_, where he showed his savage profile among
admiring musical lambs. But he was never punctual at musical affairs.
This consoled Alixe.

Perhaps he would forget her impulsive, foolish speech,--"without him the
music would fall upon unheeding ears,--he, who interpreted art for the
multitude, the holder of the critical key that unlocked masterpieces."
She had felt the banality of her compliment as she uttered it, and she
knew the man who listened, his glance incredulous, his mouth smiling,
could not be deceived. Rentgen had been too many years in the candy shop
to care for sweets. She recalled her mean little blush as he twisted his
pointed, piebald beard with long, fat fingers and leisurely
traversed--his were the measuring eyes of an architect--her face, her
hair, her neck, and finally, stared at her ears until they burned like a
child's cheek in frost time.

Alixe Van Kuyp was a large woman, with a conscientious head and gray
eyes. As she waited, she realized that it was one of her timid nights,
when colour came easily and temper ran at its lowest ebb. She had begged
Van Kuyp to cancel the habit of not listening to his own music except at
rehearsal, and, annoyed by his stubbornness, neglected to tell him of
the other invitation. The house was quite full when the music began.
Uneasiness overtook her as the Oberon slowly stole upon her
consciousness. She forgot Rentgen; a more disquieting problem presented
itself. Richard's music--how would it sound in the company of the old
masters, those masters who were newer than Wagner, newer than Strauss
and the "moderns"! She envisaged her husband--small, slim, with his
bushy red hair, big student's head--familiarly locking arms with Weber
and Beethoven in the hall of fame. No, the picture did not convince her.
She was his severest censor. Not one of the professional critics could
put their fingers on Van Kuyp's weak spots--"his sore music," as he
jestingly called it--so surely as his wife. She had studied; she had
even played the violin in public; but she gave up her virtuosa ambitions
for the man she had married during their student years in Germany. Now
the old doubts came to life as the chivalric tones of Weber rose to her
sharpened senses. Why couldn't Richard--

The door in the anteroom opened, her guest entered. Alixe was not
dismayed. She left her seat and, closing the curtains, greeted him.

The overture was ending as Rentgen sat down beside her in the intimate
little chamber, lighted by a solitary electric bulb.

"You are always thoughtful," she murmured.

"My dear lady, mine is the honour. And if you do not care, can't we hear
the music of your young man--" he smiled, she thought, acidly--"here? If
I sit outside, the world will say--we have to be careful of our
unsmirched reputations--we poor critics and slave-drivers of the deaf."

She drew her hand gently away. He had held it, playfully tapping it as
he slowly delivered himself in short sentences. He was a Dane, but his
French and English were without trace of accent; certain intonations
alone betrayed his Scandinavian origin.

Alixe could not refuse, for the moment he finished speaking she heard a
too familiar motive, the ponderous phrase in the brass choir which Van
Kuyp intended as the thematic label for his hero, "Sordello."

"Ah, there's your Browning in tone for you," whispered the critic. She
wished him miles away. The draperies were now slightly parted and into
the room filtered the grave, languorous accents of the new tone-poem.
Her eyes were fixed by Rentgen's. His expression changed; with nostrils
dilated like a hunter scenting prey, his rather inert, cold features
became transfigured; he was the man who listened, the cruel judge who
sentenced. And she hoped, also the kind friend who would consider the
youth and inexperience of the culprit. To the morbidly acute hearing of
the woman, the music had a ring of hollow sonority after the denser
packed phrases of Weber.

She had read Sordello with her husband until she thought its meaning was
as clear as high noon. By the critic's advice the subject had been
selected for musical treatment. Sordello's overweening spiritual
pride--"gate-vein of this heart's blood of Lombardy"--appealed to Van
Kuyp. The stress of souls, the welter of cross-purposes which begirt the
youthful dreamer, his love for Palma, and his swift death when all the
world thrust upon him its joys--here were motives, indeed, for any
musician of lofty aim and sympathetic imagination.

Alixe recalled the interminable arguments, the snatches of poetry, the
hasty rushes to the keyboard; a composer was in travail. At the end of a
year, Rentgen professed his satisfaction; Van Kuyp stood on the highroad
to fame. Of that there could be no doubt; Elvard Rentgen would say so in
print. Alixe had been reassured--

Yet sitting now within the loop of her husband's music it suddenly
became insipid, futile, and lacking in those enchantments for which she
yearned. Her eyes dropped to the shapely hands meekly folded in her lap,
dropped because the bold, interrogative expression on Rentgen's face
disturbed her. She knew, as any woman would have known, that he admired
her--but was he not Richard's friend? His glance enveloped her with
piteous mockery.

The din was tremendous. After passages of dark music, in which the
formless ugly reigned, occurred the poetic duel between Sordello and
Eglamor at Palma's Court of Love. But why all this stress and fury? On
the pianoforte the delicate episode sounded gratefully; with the thick
riotous orchestration came a disillusioning transformation. There was
noise without power, there was sensuality that strove to imitate the
tenderness of passion; and she had fancied it a cloudy garden of love.
Alixe raised an involuntary hand to her ear.

"Yes," whispered the critic, "I warned him not to use his colours with a
trowel. His theme is not big enough to stand it." He lifted thin
eyebrows and to her overheated brain was an unexpected Mephisto. Then
the music whirled her away to Italy; the love scene of Palma and
Sordello. It should have been the apex of the work.

"Sounds too much like Tschaïkowsky's Francesca da Rimini," interrupted
Rentgen. She was annoyed.

"Why didn't you tell Van Kuyp before he scored the work?" she demanded,
her long gray eyes beginning to blacken.

"I did, my dear lady, I did. But you know what musicians are--" He
shrugged a conclusion with his narrow shoulders. Alixe coldly regarded
him. There was something new and dangerous in his attitude to her
husband's music this evening.

Her heart began to beat heavily. What if her suspicions were but the
advance guard of a painful truth! What if this keen analyst of other
men's ideas--she dared not finish the thought. With a sluggish movement
the music uncoiled itself like a huge boa about to engulf a tiny rabbit.
The simile forced itself against her volition; all this monstrous
preparation for a--rabbit! In a concert-hall the poetic idea of the
tone-poem was petty. And the churning of the orchestra, foaming hysteria
of the strings, bellowing of the brass--would they never cease! Such an
insane chase after a rabbit! Yes, she said the word to herself and found
her lips carved into a hard smile, which she saw reflected as in a trick
mirror upon the face of Elvard Rentgen. _He_ understood.

Of little avail Sordello's frantic impotencies. She saw through the
rhetorical trickeries of the music, weighed its cheap splendours,
realized the mediocrity of this second-rate poet turned symphonist.
Image after image pressed upon her brain, each more pessimistic, more
depressing than its predecessor. Alixe could have wept. Her companion
placed his hand on her arm. His fingers burned; she moved, but she felt
his will controlling her mood. With high relief she heard the music end.
There was conventional applause. Alixe restlessly peered into the
auditorium. Again she saw opera-glasses turned toward the box. "Our good
friends," she rather bitterly thought. Rentgen recognized her mental
turmoil.

"Don't worry," he said soothingly. "It will be all right to-morrow
morning. What I write will make the fortune of the composition." He did
not utter this vaingloriously, but as a man who stated simple truth. She
gazed at him, her timidity and nervousness returning in full tide.

"I know I am overwrought. I should be thankful. But--but, isn't it
deception--I mean, will it be fair to conceal from Richard the real
condition of affairs?" He took her hand.

"Spoken like a true wife," he gayly exclaimed. "My dear friend, there
will be no deception. Only encouragement, a little encouragement. As for
deceiving a composer, telling him that he may not be so wonderful as he
thinks--that's impossible. I know these star-shouldering souls, these
farmers of phantasms who exist in a world by themselves. It would be a
pity to let in the cold air of reality--anyhow Van Kuyp has some
talent."

Like lifting mists revealing the treacherous borders of a masked pool,
she felt this speech with its ironic innuendo. She flushed, her vanity
irritated. Rentgen saw her eyes contract.

"Let us go when the symphony begins," she begged, "I can't talk to any
one in my present bad humour; and to hear Beethoven would drive me
mad--now."

"I don't wonder," remarked her companion, consolingly. Alixe winced.

The silver-cold fire of an undecided moon was abroad in the sky and
rumours of spring filled the air. They parted at a fiacre. He told her
he would call the next afternoon, and she nodded an unforgiving head. It
was her turn to be disagreeable.

In his music room, Van Kuyp read a volume of verse. He did not hear his
wife enter. It pained her when she saw his serious face with its
undistinguished features and dogged expression. No genius this, was her
hasty verdict, as she quickly went to him and put a hand on his head.
It was her hand now that was hot. He raised eyes, dolent with dreams.

"Well?" he queried.

"You are a curious man!" she said wonderingly. "Aren't you interested in
the news about your symphonic poem?" He smiled the smile of the fatuous
elect. "I imagine it went all right," he languidly replied. "I heard it
at rehearsal yesterday--I suppose Thelème took the _tempi_ too slow!"

She sighed and asked:--

"What are you reading a night like this?" His expression became
animated.

"A volume of Celtic poetry--I've found a stunning idea for music. What a
tone-poem it will make! Here it is. What colour, what rhythms. It is
called The Shadowy Horses. 'I hear the shadowy horses, their long manes
a-shake'--"

"Who gave you the poem?"

"Oh, Rentgen, of course. Did you see him to-night?"

"You dear boy! You must be tired to death. Better rest. The critics will
get you up early enough."

Through interminable hours the mind of Alixe revolved about a phrase she
had picked up from Elvard Rentgen: "Music is a trap for weak souls; for
the strong as the spinning of cobwebs...."


II

It was pompous July and the Van Kuyps were still in Paris. They lived
near Passy--from her windows high in the air Alixe caught the green at
dawn as the sun lifted level rays. Richard was writing his new
tone-poem, which the Société Harmonique accepted provisionally for the
season following. Sordello had set the town agog because of the
exhaustive articles by Rentgen it brought in its wake. He was a critic
who wrote brilliantly of music in the terms of painting, of plastic arts
in the technical phraseology of music, and by him the drama was
discussed purely as literature. This deliberate and delicate confusion
of æsthetics clouded the public mind. He described Sordello as a vast
mural fresco, a Puvis de Chavannes in tone, a symphonic drama wherein
agonized the shadowy Æschylean protagonist. Even sculpture was rifled
for analogies, and Van Kuyp to his bewilderment found himself called
"The Rodin of Music"; at other times, "Richard Strauss II," or a "Tonal
Browning"; finally, he was adjured to swerve not from the path he had so
wonderfully hewn for himself in the virgin jungle of modern art, and
begged to resist the temptations of the music-drama.

Rentgen loathed the music of Wagner. Wagner had abused Meyerbeer for
doing what he did himself--writing operas stuffed with spectacular
effects. This man of the foot-lights destroyed all musical imagination
with his puppet shows, magic lanterns, Turkish bazaars, where, to the
booming of mystic bells, the listener was drugged into opium-fed
visions.

Under a tent, as at a fair, he assembled the mangled masterpieces of
Bach, Gluck, Beethoven, Weber, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, and to a
gullible public sold the songs of these music-lords--songs that should
swim on high like great swan-clouds cleaving skies blue and
inaccessible. And his music was operatic, after all, grand opera
saccharine with commonplace melodies gorgeously attired--nothing more.
Wagner, declared the indignant critic, was not original. He popularized
the noble ideas of the masters, vulgarized and debased their dreams. He
never conceived a single new melody, but substituted instead, sadly
mauled and pinched thematic fragments of Liszt, Berlioz, and Beethoven,
combined with exaggerated fairy-tales, clothed in showy tinsel and
theatrical gauds, the illusion being aided by panoramic scenery; scenery
that acted in company with toads, dragons, horses, snakes, crazy
valkyrs, mermaids, half-mad humans, gods, demons, dwarfs, and giants.
What else is all this but old-fashioned Italian opera with a new name?
What else but an inartistic mixture of Scribe libretto and Northern
mythology? Music-drama--fudge! Making music that one can _see_ is a
death-blow to a lofty idealization of the art.

Puzzled by the richness of Rentgen's vocabulary, by his want of logic,
Alixe asked herself many times whether she was wrong and her husband
right. She wished to be loyal. His devotion to his work, his inspiration
springing as it did from poetic sources, counted for something. Why not?
All composers should read the poets. It is a starting-point. Modern
music leans heavily on drama and fiction. Richard Strauss embroiders
philosophical ideas, so why should not Richard Van Kuyp go to Ireland,
to the one land where there is hope of a spiritual, a poetic renascence?
Ireland! The very name evoked dreams!

When Rentgen called at the Van Kuyps' it was near the close of a warm
afternoon. The composer would not stir, despite the invitation of the
critic or the pleading of his wife. He knew that the angel wings of
inspiration had been brushing his brow all the morning, and such visits
were too rare to be flouted. He sat at his piano and in a composer's
raucous varied voice, imitated the imaginary _timbres_ of orchestral
instruments. Sent forth, Mrs. Van Kuyp and Rentgen slowly walked into
the little Parc of Auteuil, once the joy of the Goncourts.

"Musicians are as selfish as the sea," he asserted, as they sat upon a
bench of tepid iron. She did not demur. The weather had exhausted her
patience; she was young and fond of the open air--the woods made an
irresistible picture this day. The critic watched her changing,
dissatisfied face.

"Shall we ride?" he suddenly asked. Before she could shake a negative
head, he quickly uttered the words that had been hovering in her mind
for hours.

"Or, shall we go to the Bois?" She started. "What an idea! Go to the
Bois without Richard, without my husband?"

"Why not?" he inquired, "it's not far away. Send him a wire asking him
to join us; it will do him good after his labours. Come, Madame Van
Kuyp, come Alixe, my child." He paused. Her eyes expanded. "I'll go,"
she quietly announced--"that is, if you grant me a favour."

"A hundred!" he triumphantly cried.


III

To soothe her conscience, which began to ring faint alarm-bells at
sundown, Alixe sent several despatches to her husband, and then tried a
telephone; but she was not successful. Her mood shifted chilly, and they
bored each other immeasurably on the long promenade vibrating with gypsy
music and frivolous folk.

It was after seven o'clock as the sun slowly swam down the sky-line.
Decidedly their little flight from the prison of stone was not offering
rich recompense to Alixe Van Kuyp and her elderly companion.

"And now for the favour!" he demanded, his eyes contentedly resting upon
the graceful expanse of his guest's figure.

She moved restlessly: "My dear Rentgen, I am about to ask you a
question, only a plain question. _That_ is the favour." He bowed
incredulously.

"I must know the truth about Richard. It is a serious matter, this
composing of his. He neglects his pupils--most of them Americans who
come to Paris to study with him. Yet with the reputation he has
attained, due to you entirely"--she waved away an interruption--"he
refuses to write songs or piano music that will sell. He is an
incorrigible idealist and I confess I am discouraged. What can be our
future?" She drew the deep breath of one in peril; this plain talk
devoid of all sham mortified her exceedingly.

She was thankful that he did not attempt to play the rôle of fatherly
adviser. His eyes were quite sincere when he answered her:--

"What you say, Alixe--" the familiarity brought with it no condescending
reverberations--"has bothered me more than once. I shall be just as
frank on my side. No, your husband has but little talent; original
talent, none. He is mediocre--wait!" She started, her cheeks red with
the blood that fled her heart when she heard this doleful news. "Wait!
There are qualifications. In the first place, what do you expect from an
American?"

"But you always write so glowingly of our composers," she interjected.

"And," he went on as if she had not spoken, "Van Kuyp is your typical
countryman. He has studied in Germany. He has muddled his brain with
the music of a dozen different nations; if he had had any individuality
it would have been submerged. His memory has killed his imagination. He
borrows his inspiration from the poets, from Liszt, Wagner, Berlioz,
Richard Strauss. Anyhow, like all musicians of his country, he is too
painfully self-conscious of his nationality."

"You, alone, are responsible for his present ambitions," retorted the
unhappy woman.

"Quite true, my dear friend. I acknowledge it."

"And you say this to my face?"

"Do you wish me to lie?" She did not reply. After a grim pause she burst
forth:--

"Oh, why doesn't he compose an opera, and make a popular name?"

"Richard Wagner Number II!" There were implications of sarcasm in this
which greatly displeased Mrs. Van Kuyp. They strolled on slowly. It was
a melodious summer night; mauve haze screened all but the exquisite
large stars. Soothed despite rebellion, Alixe told herself sharply that
in every duel with this man she was worsted. He said things that
scratched her nerves; yet she forgave. He had not the slightest
attraction for her; nevertheless, when he spoke, she listened, when he
wrote, she read. He ruled the husband through his music; he ruled her
through her husband. And what did he expect?

They retraced their way. A fantastic bridge spanning the brief
marshland, frozen by the moonlight, appealed to them. They crossed. A
coachman driving an open carriage hailed confidentially. Alixe entered
and with a dexterous play of draperies usurped the back seat. Rentgen
made no sign. He had her in full view, the moon streaking her disturbed
features with its unflattering pencil.

They started bravely, the horses running for home; but the rapid gait
soon subsided into a rhythmic trot. Rentgen spoke. She hardly recognized
his voice, so gently monotonous were his phrases.

"Dear Alixe. It is a night for confessions. You care for your husband,
you are wrapped up in his art work, you are solicitous of his future, of
his fame. It is admirable. You are a model wife for an artist. But tell
me frankly, doesn't it bore you to death? Doesn't all this talk of
music, themes, orchestration, of the public, critics, musicians,
conductors, get on your nerves? Is it any consolation for you to know
that Van Kuyp will be famous? What is his fame or his failure to you?
Where do you, Alixe Van Kuyp, come in? Why must your charming woman's
soul be sacrificed, warped to this stunted tree of another's talent? You
are silent. You say he is trying to make me deny Richard! You were never
more mistaken. I am interested in you both; interested in you as a noble
woman--stop! I mean it. And interested in Richard--well--because he is
my own creation...."

She watched him now with her heart in her eyes; he frightened her more
with these low, purring words, than if he declared open love.

"He is my own handiwork. I have created him. I have fashioned his
outlines, have wound up the mechanism that moves him to compose. Did you
ever read that terrifying thought of Yeats, the Irish poet? I've
forgotten the story, but remember the idea: 'The beautiful arts were
sent into the world to overthrow nations, and, finally, life itself,
sowing everywhere unlimited desires, like torches thrown into a burning
city.' There--'like torches thrown into a burning city!' Richard Van
Kuyp is one of my burning torches. In the spectacle of his impuissance I
find relief from my own suffering."

The booming of the Tzigane band was no longer heard--only the horses'
muffled footfalls and the intermittent chromatic drone of hidden distant
tram-cars. She shivered and shaded her face with her fan. There was
something remote from humanity in his speech. He continued with
increasing vivacity:--

"Music is a burning torch. And music, like ideas, can slay the brain.
Wagner borrowed his harmonic fire from the torch of Chopin--" She broke
in:--

"Don't talk of Chopin! Tell me more of Van Kuyp. Why do you call him
_yours_?" Her curiosity was become pain. It mastered her prudence.

"In far-away Celtic legends there may be found a lovely belief that our
thoughts are independent realities, that they go about in the void
seeking creatures to control. They are as bodiless souls. When they
descend into a human being they possess his moods, in very existence--"

"And Richard!" she muttered. His words swayed her like strange music;
the country through which they were passing was a blank; she could see
but two luminous points--the nocturnal eyes of Elvard Rentgen, as he
spun his cobwebs in the moonshine. She did not fear him; nothing could
frighten her now. One desire held her. If it were unslaked, she felt she
would collapse. It was to know the truth, to be told everything! He put
restraining fingers on her ungloved hand; they seemed like cold, fat
spiders. Yet she was only curious, with a curiosity that murdered the
spirit within her.

"To transfuse these shadows, my dear Alixe, has been one of my delights,
for I can project my futile desires into another's soul. I am denied the
gift of music-making, so this is my revenge on nature for bungling its
job. If Richard had genius, my intervention would be superfluous. He has
none. He is dull. You must realize it. But since he has known me, has
felt my influence, has been subject to my volition, my sorcery, you may
call it,--" his laugh was disagreeably conscious,--"he has developed the
shadow of a great man. He will seem a great composer. I shall make him
think he is one. I shall make the world believe it, also. It is my
fashion of squaring a life I hate. But if I chose to withdraw--"

The road they entered was black and full of the buzzing shadows of hot
night, but she was oblivious to everything but his hallucinating
voice:--

"And if you withdraw?" Her mouth echoed phrases without the complicity
of her brain.

"If I do--ah, these cobweb spinners! Good-by to Richard Van Kuyp and
dreams of glory." This note of harsh triumph snapped his weaving words.

"I don't believe you or your boasts," remarked Alixe, in her most
conventionally amused manner. "You are trying to scare me, and with this
hypnotic joke about Richard you have only hypnotized yourself. I mean to
tell Mr. Van Kuyp every bit of our conversation. I'm not frightened by
your vampire tales. You critics are only shadows of composers."

"Yes, but we make ordinary composers believe they are great," he replied
acridly.

"I'll tell this to Richard."

"He won't believe you."

"He shall--he won't believe _you_! Oh, Rentgen, how can you invent such
cruel things? Are you always so malicious? What do you mean? Come--what
do you expect?" She closed her eyes, anticipating an avowal. Why should
a man seek to destroy her faith in her husband, in love itself, if not
for some selfish purpose of his own? But she was wrong, and became
vaguely alarmed--at least if he had offered his service and sympathy in
exchange for her friendship, she might have understood his fantastic
talk. Rentgen sourly reflected--despite epigrams, women never vary. For
him her sentiment was suburban. It strangled poetry. But he said
nothing, though she imagined he looked depressed; nor did he open his
mouth as the carriage traversed avenues of processional poplars before
arriving at her door. She turned to him imploringly:--

"You must come with me. I shall never be able to go in alone, without an
excuse. Don't--don't repeat to Richard what you said to me, in joke, I
am sure, about his music. Heavens! What will my husband think?" There
was despair in her voice, but hopefulness in her gait and gesture, when
they reached the ill-lighted hall.

A night-lamp stood on the composer's study table. The piano was open. He
sat at the keyboard, though not playing, as they hurriedly entered the
room.

"You poor fellow! You look worn out. Did you think we had run away from
you? Did you get the wires, the telephone messages? Oh, why did you keep
us expecting you, Richard! We have had a wonderful time and missed you
so much! Such a talk with Rentgen! And all about _you_. _Nicht wahr_,
Rentgen? He says you are the only man in the world with a musical
future. Isn't that so, Rentgen? Didn't you say that Richard was the only
man in whom you took any interest? Say what you said to me! I _dare_
you!"

The musician, aroused by this wordy assault, looked from one to the
other with his heavy eyes, the eyes of an owl rudely disturbed. Alixe
almost danced her excitement. She hummed shrilly and grasped Van Kuyp's
arm in the gayest rebounding humour.

"Why don't you speak, Maestro?"

"I didn't join you because I was too busy at my score. Listen, children!
I have sketched the beginning of The Shadowy Horses. You remember the
Yeats poem, Rentgen? Listen!"

Furiously he attacked the instrument, from which escaped accents of
veritable torture; a delirium of tone followed, meagre melodies fighting
for existence in the boiling madness of it all; it was the parody of a
parody, the music of yesterday masquerading as the music of to-morrow.
Alixe nervously watched the critic. He stood at the end of the piano and
morosely fumbled his beard. Again a wave of anxious hatred, followed by
forebodings, crowded her alert brain. She desperately clutched her
husband's shoulder; he finished in a burst of sheer pounding and brutal
roaring. Then she threw her arms about him in an ecstasy of pride--her
confidence was her only anchorage.

"There, Elvard Rentgen! What did you tell me? I dare you to say that
this music is not marvellous, not original!" Her victorious gaze, in
which floated indomitable faith, challenged him, as she drew the head of
her husband to her protecting bosom. The warring of exasperated eyes
endured a moment; to Alixe it seemed eternity. Rentgen bowed and went
away from this castle of cobwebs, deeply stirred by the wife's tender
untruths.... She was the last dawn illuminating his empty, sordid
life,--now a burnt city of defaced dreams and blackened torches.



II

THE EIGHTH DEADLY SIN

     Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which
     the Lord God had made.--_Genesis._


I

THE SERMON

"And the Seven Deadly Sins, beloved brethren, are: Pride, Covetousness,
Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth. To these our wise Mother, the
Church, opposes the contrary virtues: Humility, Chastity, Meekness,
Temperance, Brotherly Love, Diligence." The voice of the preacher was
clear and well modulated. It penetrated to the remotest corner of the
church. Baldur, sitting near the pulpit, with its elaborate traceries of
marble, idly wondered why the sins were, with few exceptions, words of
one syllable, while those of the virtues were all longer. Perhaps
because it was easier to sin than to repent! The voice of the speaker
deepened as he continued:--

"Now the Seven Deadly Arts are: Music, Literature, Painting, Sculpture,
Architecture, Dancing, Acting. The mercy of God has luckily purified
these once pagan inventions, and transformed them into saving
instruments of grace. Yet it behooves us to examine with the utmost
diligence the possible sources of evil latent in each and every one of
those arts. Then we shall consider some of the special forms of sin that
may develop from them. St. Chrysostom warned the faithful against the
danger of the Eighth Deadly Art--Perfume...."

His phrases, which began to fall into the rhythmic drone of a Sunday
sermon, lulled Baldur to dreaming. Perfume--that delicious vocable! And
the contrast with what his own nostrils reported to his consciousness
made him slightly shiver. It was on a Friday night in Lent that, weary
in flesh and spirit, his conscience out of tune, he had entered the
church and taken the first vacant seat. Without, the air was sluggish;
after leaving his club the idea of theatres or calls had set his teeth
on edge. He longed to be alone, to weigh in the silence of his heart the
utter futility of life. Religion had never been a part of his training
as the only son of a millionnaire, and if he preferred the Roman
Catholic ritual above all others, it was because the appeal was to his
æsthetic sense; a Turkish mosque, he assured his friends, produced the
same soothing impression--gauze veils gently waving and slowly obscuring
the dulling realities of everyday existence. This _morbidezza_ of the
spirit the Mahometans call _Kef_; the Christians, pious ecstasy.

But now he could not plunge himself, despite the faint odour of incense
lingering in the atmosphere, into the deepest pit of his personality. At
first he ascribed his restlessness to the sultry weather, then to his
abuse of tea and cigarettes,--perhaps it was the sharp odour of the
average congregation, that collective odour of humanity encountered in
church, theatre, or court-rooms. The smell of poverty was mingled with
the heavy scents of fashionable women, who, in the minority, made their
presence felt by their showy gowns, rustling movements, and attitudes of
superior boredom. In a vast building like this extremes touch with
eagerness on the part of the poor, to whom these furtive views of the
rich and indolent brought with them a bitter consolation.

Baldur remarked these things as he leaned back in his hard seat and
barely listened to the sermon, which poured forth as though the tap
would never be turned off again. And then a delicate note of iris, most
episcopal of perfumes, emerged from the mass of odours--musk, garlic,
damp shoes, alcohol, shabby clothing, rubber, pomade, cologne,
rice-powder, tobacco, patchouli, sachet, and a hundred other tintings of
the earthly symphony. The finely specialized olfactory sense of the
young man told him that it was either a bishop or a beautiful woman who
imparted to the air the subtle, penetrating aroma of iris. But it was
neither ecclesiastic nor maid. At his side was a short, rather thick-set
woman of vague age; she might have been twenty-five or forty. Her hair
was cut in masculine fashion, her attire unattractive. As clearly as he
could distinguish her features he saw that she was not good-looking. A
stern mask it was, though not hardened. He would not have looked at such
an ordinary physiognomy twice if the iris had not signalled his peculiar
sense. There was no doubt that to her it was due. Susceptible as he was
to odours, Baldur was not a ladies' man. He went into society because it
was his world; and he attended in a perfunctory manner to the enormous
estate left him by his father, bound up in a single trust company. But
his thoughts were always three thousand miles away, in that delectable
city of cities, Paris. For Paris he suffered a painful nostalgia. There
he met his true brethren, while in New York he felt an alien. He was
one. The city, with its high, narrow streets--granite tunnels; its rude
reverberations; its colourless, toiling barbarians, with their
undistinguished physiognomies, their uncouth indifference to art,--he
did not deny that he loathed this nation, vibrating only in the presence
of money, sports, grimy ward politics, while exhibiting a depressing
snobbery to things British. There was no _nuance_ in its life or its
literature, he asserted. France was his _patrie psychique_; he would
return there some day and forever....

The iris crept under his nostrils, and again he regarded the woman. This
time she faced him, and he no longer wondered, for he saw her eyes.
With such eyes only a great soul could be imprisoned in her brain. They
were smoke-gray, with long, dark lashes, and they did not seem to focus
perfectly--at least there was enough deflection to make their expression
odd, withal interesting, like the slow droop of Eleonora Duse's magic
eye. Though her features were rigid, the woman's glance spoke to Baldur,
spoke eloquently. Her eyes were--or was it the iris?--symbols of a
soul-state, of a rare emotion, not of sex, nor yet sexless. The pupils
seemed powdered with a strange iridescence. He became more troubled than
before. What did the curious creature want of him! She was neither
coquette nor cocotte, flirtation was not hinted by her intense
expression. He resumed his former position, but her eyes made his
shoulders burn, as if they had sufficient power to bore through them. He
no longer paid any attention to his surroundings. The sermon was like
the sound of far-away falling waters, the worshippers were so many black
marks. Of two things was he aware--the odour of iris and her eyes.

He knew that he was in an overwrought mood. For some weeks this mood had
been descending upon his spirit, like a pall. He had avoided music,
pictures, the opera--which he never regarded as an art; even his
favourite poets he could not read. Nor did he degustate, as was his
daily wont, the supreme prose of the French masters. The pleasures of
robust stomachs, gourmandizing and drinking, were denied him by nature.
He could not sip a glass of wine, and for meat he entertained distaste.
His physique proved him to be of the neurotic temperament--he was very
tall, very slim, of an exceeding elegance, in dress a finical dandy;
while his trim pointed blue-black beard and dark, foreign eyes were the
cause of his being mistaken often for a Frenchman or a Spaniard--which
illusion was not dissipated when he chose to speak their several
tongues.

Involuntarily, and to the ire of his neighbours, he arose and indolently
made his way down the side aisle. When he reached the baize swinging
doors, he saw the woman approaching him. As if she had been an
acquaintance of years, she saluted him carelessly, and, accompanied by
the scandalized looks of many in the congregation, the pair left the
church, though not before the preacher had sonorously quoted from the
Psalm, _Domine ne in Furore_, "For my loins are filled with illusions;
and there is no health in my flesh."


II

THE SÉANCE

     Je cherche des parfums nouveaux, des fleurs plus larges, des
     plaisirs inéprouvés.--FLAUBERT.

"It may be all a magnificent illusion, but--" he began.

"Everything is an illusion in this life, though seldom magnificent," she
answered. They slowly walked up the avenue. The night was tepid; motor
cars, looking like magnified beetles, with bulging eyes of fire, went
swiftly by. The pavements were almost deserted when they reached the
park. He felt as if hypnotized, and once, rather meanly, was glad that
no one saw him in company of his dowdy companion.

"I wonder if you realize that we do not know each other's name," he
said.

"Oh, yes. You are Mr. Baldur. My name is Mrs. Lilith Whistler."

"Mrs. Whistler. Not the medium?"

"The medium--as you call it. In reality I am only a woman, happy, or
unhappy, in the possession of super-normal powers."

"Not supernatural, then?" he interposed. He was a sceptic who called
himself agnostic. The mystery of earth and heaven might be interpreted,
but always in terms of science; yet he did not fancy the superior manner
in which this charlatan flouted the supernatural. He had heard of her
miracles--and doubted them. She gave a little laugh at his correction.

"What phrase-jugglers you men are! You want all the splendours of the
Infinite thrown in with the price of admission! I said super-normal,
because we know of nothing greater than nature. Things that are off the
beaten track of the normal, across the frontiers, some call
supernatural; but it is their ignorance of the vast, unexplored
territory of the spirit--which is only the material masquerading in a
different guise."

"But you go to church, to a Lenten service--?" It was as if he had known
her for years, and their unconventional behaviour never crossed his
mind. He did not even ask himself where they were moving.

"I go to church to rest my nerves--as do many other people," she
replied; "I was interested in the parallel of the Seven Deadly Sins and
the Seven Deadly Arts."

"You believe the arts are sinful?" He was curious.

"I don't believe in sin at all. A bad conscience is the result of poor
digestion. Sins are created so that we pay the poll-tax to eternity--pay
it on this side of the ferry. Yet the arts may become dangerous engines
of destruction if wrongfully employed. The Fathers of the early Church,
Ambrose and the rest, were right in viewing them suspiciously."--He
spoke:--

"The arts diabolic! Then what of the particular form of wizardry
practised so successfully by the celebrated Mrs. Whistler, one of whose
names is, according to the Talmud, that of Adam's first wife?"

"What do you know, my dear young man, of diabolic arts?"

"Only that I am walking with you near the park on a dark night of April
and I never saw you before a half-hour ago. Isn't that magic--white, not
black?"

"Pray do not mock magic, either white or black. Remember the fate of the
serpents manufactured by Pharaoh's magicians. They were, need I tell
you, speedily devoured by the serpents of Moses and Aaron. Both parties
did not play fair in the game. If it was black magic to transform a rod
into a snake on the part of Pharaoh's conjurers, was it any less
reprehensible for the Hebrew magicians to play the same trick? It was
prestidigitation for all concerned--only the side of the children of
Israel was espoused in the recital. Therefore, do not talk of black or
white magic. There is only one true magic. And it is not slate-writing,
toe-joint snapping, fortune-telling, or the vending of charms. Magic,
too, is an art--like other arts. This is forgotten by the majority of
its practitioners. Hence the sordid vulgarity of the average mind-reader
and humbugging spiritualist of the dark-chamber séance. Besides, the
study of the super-normal mind tells us of the mind in health--nature is
shy in revealing her secrets."

They passed the lake and were turning toward the east driveway. Suddenly
she stopped and under the faint starlight regarded her companion
earnestly. He had not been without adventures in his career--Paris
always provided them in plenty; but this encounter with a homely woman
piqued him. Her eye he felt was upon him and her voice soothing.

"Mr. Baldur--listen! Since Milton wrote his great poem the
English-speaking people are all devil-worshippers, for Satan is the hero
of Paradise Lost. But I am no table-tipping medium eager for your
applause or your money. I don't care for money. I think you know enough
of me through the newspapers to vouchsafe that. You are rich, and it is
your chief misery. Listen! Whether you believe it or not, you are very
unhappy. Let me read your horoscope. Your club life bores you; you are
tired of our silly theatres; no longer do you care for Wagner's music.
You are deracinated; you are unpatriotic. For that there is no excuse.
The arts are for you deadly. I am sure you are a lover of literature.
Yet what a curse it has been for you! When you see one of your friends
drinking wine, you call him a fool because he is poisoning himself. But
you--you--poison your spirit with the honey of France, of Scandinavia,
of Russia. As for the society of women--"

"The Eternal Womanly!" he sneered.

"The Eternal Simpleton, you mean. In _that_ swamp of pettiness, idiocy,
and materialism, a man of your nature could not long abide. Religion--it
has not yet responded to your need. And without faith your sins lose
their savour. The arts--you don't know them all, the Seven Deadly Arts
and the One Beautiful Art!" She paused. Her voice had been as the sound
of delicate flutes. He was aflame.

"Is there, then, an eighth art?" he quickly asked.

"Would you know it if you saw it?"

"Of course. Where is it, what is it?"

She laughed and took his arm.

"Why did you look at me in church?"

"Because--it was mere chance--no, it may have been the odour of iris. I
am mad over perfume. I think it a neglected art, degraded to the
function of anointment. I have often dreamed of an art by which a
dazzling and novel synthesis of fragrant perfumes would be invented by
some genius, some latter-day Rimmel or Lubin whom we could hail as a
peer of Chopin or Richard Strauss--two composers who have expressed
perfume in tone. Roinard in his Cantiques des Cantiques attempted a
concordance of tone, light, and odours. Yes--it was the iris that
attracted me."

"But I have no iris about me. I have none now," she simply replied. He
faced her.

"No iris? What--?"

"I _thought_ iris," she added triumphantly, as she guided him into one
of the side streets off Madison Avenue. He was astounded. She must be a
hypnotist, he said to himself. No suggestion of iris clung to her now.
And he remembered that the odour disappeared after they left the church.
He held his peace until they arrived before a brown-stone house of the
ordinary kind with an English basement. She took a key from her pocket
and, going down several steps, beckoned to him. Baldur followed. His
interest in this modern Cassandra and her bizarre words was too great
for him to hesitate or to realize that he would get himself into some
dangerous scrape. And was this truly the Mrs. Whistler whose tricks of
telepathy and other extraordinary antics had puzzled and angered the
wise men of two continents? He did not have much time for reflection. A
grilled door opened, and presently he was in a room furnished very much
like a physician's office. Electric bulbs, an open grate, and two
bookcases gave the apartment a familiar, cheerful appearance. Baldur sat
down on a low chair, and Mrs. Whistler removed her commonplace headgear.
In the bright light she was younger than he had imagined, and her head a
beautifully modelled one--broad brows, very full at the back, and the
mask that of an emotional actress. Her smoke-coloured eyes were most
remarkable and her helmet of hair blue black.

"And now that you are my guest at last, Mr. Baldur, let me apologize for
the exercise of my art upon your responsive nerves;" she made this
witch-burning admission as if she were accounting for the absence of
tea. To his relief she offered him nothing. He had a cigarette between
his fingers, but he did not care to smoke. She continued:--

"For some time I have known you--never mind how! For some time I have
wished to meet you. I am not an impostor, nor do I desire to pose as the
goddess of a new creed. But you, Irving Baldur, are a man among men who
will appreciate what I may show you. You love, you understand, perfumes.
You have even wished for a new art--don't forget that there are others
in the world to whom the seven arts have become a thrice-told tale, to
whom the arts have become too useful. All great art should be useless.
Yet architecture houses us; sculpture flatters us; painting imitates us;
dancing is pure vanity; literature and the drama, mere vehicles for
bread-earning; while music--music, the most useless art as it should
have been--is in the hands of the speculators. Moreover music is too
sexual--it reports in a more intense style the stories of our loves.
Music is the memory of love. What Prophet will enter the temple of the
modern arts and drive away with his divine scourge the vile
money-changers who fatten therein?" Her voice was shrill as she paced
the room. A very sibyl this, her crest of hair agitated, her eyes
sparkling with wrath. He missed the Cumæan tripod.

"There is an art, Baldur, an art that was one of the lost arts of
Babylon until now, one based, as are all the arts, on the senses.
Perfume--the poor, neglected nose must have its revenge. It has outlived
the other senses in the æsthetic field."

"What of the palate--you have forgotten that. Cookery, too, is a fine
art," he ventured. His smile irritated her.

"Yes, Frenchmen have invented symphonic sauces, they say. But again,
eating is a useful art; primarily it serves to nourish the body. When
man was wholly wild--he is a mere barbarian to-day--his sense of smell
guarded him from his foes, from the beasts, from a thousand dangers.
Civilization, with its charming odours of decay,--have you ever ventured
to savour New York?--cast into abeyance the keenest of all the senses.
Little wonder, then, that there was no art of perfume like the arts of
vision and sound. I firmly believe the Hindoos, Egyptians, and the
Chinese knew of such an art. How account for the power of theocracies?
How else credit the tales of the saints who scattered perfumes--St.
Francis de Paul, St. Joseph of Cupertino, Venturini of Bergamo?"

"But," he interrupted, "all this is interesting, fascinating. What I
wish to know is what form your art may take. How marshal odours as
melodies in a symphony, as colours on a canvas?" She made an impatient
gesture.

"And how like an amateur you talk. Melody! When harmony is infinitely
greater in music! Form! When colour is infinitely greater than line! The
most profound music gives only the timbre--melodies are for infantile
people without imagination, who believe in patterns. Tone is the quality
_I_ wish on a canvas, not anxious drawing. So it is with perfumes. I can
blend them into groups of lovely harmony; I can give you single notes of
delicious timbre--in a word, I can evoke an odour symphony which will
transport you. Memory is a supreme factor in this art. Do not forget how
the vaguest scent will carry you back to your youthful dreamland. It is
also the secret of spiritual correspondences--it plays the great rôle of
bridging space between human beings."

"I sniff the air promise-crammed," he gayly misquoted. "But when will
you rewrite this Apocalypse? and how am I to know whether I shall really
enjoy this feast of perfume, if you can simulate the odour of iris as
you did an hour ago?"

"I propose to show you an artificial paradise," she firmly asserted. In
the middle of the room there was a round table, the top inlaid with
agate. On it a large blue bowl stood, and it was empty. Mrs. Whistler
went to a swinging cabinet and took from it a dozen small phials. "Now
for the incantation," he jokingly said. In her matter-of-fact manner she
placed the bottles on the table, and uncorking them, she poured them
slowly into the bowl. He broke the silence:--

"Isn't there any special form of hair-raising invocation that goes with
this dangerous operation?"

"Listen to this." Her eyes swimming with fire, she intoned:--

    As I came through the desert thus it was,
    As I came through the desert: Lo you there,
    That hillock burning with a brazen glare;
    Those myriad dusky flames with points aglow
    Which writhed and hissed and darted to and fro;
    A Sabbath of the serpents, heaped pell-mell
    For Devil's roll-call and some fête in Hell:
    Yet I strode on austere;
    No hope could have no fear.

He did not seem to hear. From out the bowl there was stealing a perfume
which overmastered his will and led him captive to the lugubrious glade
of the Druids....


III

THE CIRCUS OF CANDLES

    Comme d'autres esprits voguent sur la musique,
    Le míen, ô mon amour! nage sur ton parfum.

    --BAUDELAIRE.

He was not dreaming, for he saw the woman at the bowl, saw her
apartment. But the interior of his brain was as melancholy as a lighted
cathedral. A mortal sadness encompassed him, and his nerves were like
taut violin strings. It was within the walls of his skull, that he
saw--his mundane surroundings did not disturb his visions. And the waves
of dolour swept over his consciousness. A mingling of tuberoses,
narcissus, attar of roses, and ambergris he detected in the air--as
_triste_ as a morbid nocturne of Chopin. This was followed by a blending
of heliotrope, moss-rose, and hyacinth, together with dainty touches of
geranium. He dreamed of Beethoven's manly music when whiffs of
apple-blossom, white rose, cedar, and balsam reached him. Mozart passed
roguishly by in strains of scarlet pimpernel, mignonette, syringa, and
violets. Then the sky was darkened with Schumann's perverse harmonies as
jasmine, lavender, and lime were sprayed over him. Music, surely, was
the art nearest akin to odour. A superb and subtle chord floated about
him; it was composed of vervain, opoponax, and frangipane. He could not
conceive of a more unearthly triad. It was music from Parsifal. Through
the mists that were gathering he savoured a fulminating bouquet of
patchouli, musk, bergamot, and he recalled the music of Mascagni. Brahms
strode stolidly on in company with new-mown hay, cologne, and sweet
peas. Liszt was interpreted as ylang-ylang, myrrh, and maréchale;
Richard Strauss, by wistaria, oil of cloves, chypre, poppy, and
crab-apple.

Suddenly there developed a terrific orchestration of chromatic odours:
ambrosia, cassia, orange, peach-blossoms, and musk of Tonkin, magnolia,
eglantine, hortensia, lilac, saffron, begonia, peau d'Espagne, acacia,
carnation, liban, fleur de Takeoka, cypress, oil of almonds, benzoin,
jacinth, rue, shrub, olea, clematis, the hediosma of Jamaica, olive,
vanilla, cinnamon, petunia, lotus, frankincense, sorrel, neroli from
Japan, jonquil, verbena, spikenard, thyme, hyssop, and decaying orchids.
This quintessential medley was as the sonorous blasts of Berlioz,
repugnant and exquisite; it swayed the soul of Baldur as the wind sways
the flame. There were odours like wingèd dreams; odours as the plucked
sounds of celestial harps; odours mystic and evil, corrupt and opulent;
odours recalling the sweet, dense smell of chloroform; odours evil,
angelic, and anonymous. They painted--painted by Satan!--upon his
cerebellum more than music--music that merged into picture; and he was
again in the glade of the Druids. The huge scent-symphony dissolved in a
shower of black roses which covered the ground ankle-deep. An antique
temple of exotic architecture had thrown open its bronze doors, and out
there surged and rustled a throng of Bacchanalian beings who sported and
shouted around a terminal god, which, with smiling, ironic lips,
accepted their delirious homage. White nymphs and brown displayed in
choric rhythms the dance of the Seven Deadly Sins, and their goat-hoofed
mates gave vertiginous pursuit. At first the pagan gayety of the scene
fired the fancy of the solitary spectator; but soon his nerves,
disordered by the rout and fatigued by the spoor of so many odours,
warned him that something disquieting was at hand. He felt a nameless
horror as the sinister bitter odour of honeysuckle, sandalwood, and
aloes echoed from the sacred grove. A score of seductive young witches
pranced in upon their broomsticks, and without dismounting surrounded
the garden god. A battalion of centaurs charged upon them. The
vespertine hour was nigh, and over this iron landscape there floated the
moon, an opal button in the sky. Then to his shame and fear he saw that
the Satyr had vanished and in its place there reared the Black Venus,
the vile shape of ancient Africa, and her face was the face of Lilith.
The screaming lovely witches capered in fantastic spirals, each sporting
a lighted candle. It was the diabolic Circus of the Candles, the
infernal circus of the Witches' Sabbath. Rooted to the ground, Baldur
realized with fresh amazement and vivid pain the fair beauty of Adam's
prehistoric wife, her luxurious blond hair, her shapely shoulders, her
stature of a goddess--he trembled, for she had turned her mordant gaze
in his direction. And he strove in vain to bring back the comforting
vision of the chamber. She smiled, and the odours of sandal, coreopsis,
and aloes encircled his soul like the plaited strands of her glorious
hair. She was that other Lilith, the only offspring of the old Serpent.
On what storied fresco, limned by what worshipper of Satan, had these
accursed lineaments, this lithe, seductive figure, been shown! Names of
Satanic painters, from Hell-fire Breughel to Arnold Böcklin, from
Felicien Rops to Franz Stuck, passed through the halls of Irving
Baldur's memory.

The clangour of the feast was become maddening. He heard the Venus
ballet music from Tannhäuser entwined with the acridities of aloes,
sandal, and honeysuckle. Then the aroma of pitch, sulphur, and
assafœtida cruelly strangled the other melodic emanations. Lilith,
disdaining the shelter of her nymphs and their clowneries, stood forth
in all the hideous majesty of Ænothea, the undulating priestess of the
Abominable Shape. His nerves macerated by this sinful apparition, Baldur
struggled to resist her mute command. What was it? He saw her wish
streaming from her eyes. Despair! Despair! Despair! There is no hope for
thee, wretched earthworm! No abode but the abysmal House of Satan!
Despair, and you will be welcomed! By a violent act of volition, set in
motion by his fingers fumbling a small gold cross he wore as a
watch-guard, the heady fumes of the orgy dissipated....

He was sitting facing the bowl, and over it with her calm, confidential
gaze was the figure of Lilith Whistler.

"Have I proved to you that perfume is the art of arts?" she demanded. He
rushed from the room and was shaking the grilled gate in the hallway
like a caged maniac, when with a pitying smile she released him. He
reached the street at a bound....

       *       *       *       *       *

... "the evil of perfume, I repeat, was one against which the venerable
Fathers of the Church warned the faithful." The preacher's voice had
sagged to a monotone. Baldur lifted his eyes in dismay. Near him sat the
same woman, and she still stared at him as if to rebuke him for his
abstraction. About her hovered the odour of iris. Had it been only a
disturbing dream? Intoxicated by his escape from damnation, from the
last of the Deadly Arts, he bowed his head in grateful prayer. What
ecstasy to be once more in the arms of Mother Church! There, dipped in
her lustral waters, and there alone would he find solace for his barren
heart, pardon for his insane pride of intellect, and protection from the
demons that waylaid his sluggish soul. The sermon ended as it began:--

"And the Seven Deadly Sins, beloved brethren, are: Pride, Covetousness,
Lust, Anger, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth. _Oremus!_"

"Amen," fervently responded Baldur the Immoralist.



III

THE PURSE OF AHOLIBAH

                      Lo, this is that Aholibah
    Whose name was blown among strange seas....

    --SWINBURNE.


I

THE AVIARY

When the last breakfast guests had gone the waiters of the café began
their most disagreeable daily task. All the silver was assembled on one
of the long tables in an inner room, where, as at a solemn conclave, the
servants took their seats, and, presided over by the major-domo of the
establishment, they polished the knives and forks, spoons, and
sugar-tongs, filled the salt-cellars, replenished the pepper-boxes and
other paraphernalia of the dining art. The gabble in this close
apartment was terrific. Joseph, the maître d'hôtel, rapped in vain a
dozen times for silence. The chef poked his head of a truculent Gascon
through the door and indulged in a war of wit with a long fellow from
Marseilles,--called the "mast" because he was very tall and thin, and
had cooked in the galley of a Mediterranean trading brig. From time to
time one of the piccolos, a fat little boy from the South, carried in
pitchers of flat beer, brewed in the suburbs. As it was a hot day, he
was kept busy. The waiters had gone through a trying morning; there were
many strangers in Paris. Outside, the Boulevard des Italiens, despite
its shade trees, broiled under a torrid July sun that swam in a
mercilessly blue sky.

The majority of the men were listening to gossip about their colleagues
in the Café Cardinal across the way. Ambroise alone sat apart and patted
and smoothed the salt in its receptacles. He was a young man from some
little town in Alsace, a furious patriot, and the butt of his
companions--for he was the latest comer in the Café Riche. Though he
told his family name, Nettier, and declared that his father and mother
were of French blood, he was called "the German." He was good-looking,
very blond, with big, innocent blue eyes; and while he was never
molested personally,--a short, sharp tussle with a cook had proved him
to be a man of muscle,--behind his back his walk was mimicked, his
precise attitudes were openly bantered. But Ambroise stood this torture
gantlet equably. He had lived long enough among Germans to copy their
impassive manner and, coupled with a natural contempt for his
fellow-monkeys in the cage, he knew that perhaps in a day a new man
would receive all these unwelcome attentions. Moreover, his work,
clear-cut, unobtrusive, and capable, pleased M. Joseph. And when the
patron himself dined at the café, Ambroise was the garçon selected to
wait upon him. Hence the jealousy of his colleagues. Couple to this the
fact that he was reported miserly, and had saved a large sum--which were
all sufficient reasons for his unpopularity.

As the afternoon wore on little airs began to play in the tree-tops; the
street watering carts had been assiduous, and before the terrace water
had been sprinkled by the piccolos so effectively that at five o'clock,
when the jaded stock-brokers, journalists, and business men began to
flock in, each for his apéritif, the café was comparatively cool.

A few women's frocks relieved the picture with discreet or joyous shades
of white and pink. Ambroise was diligent and served his regular
customers, the men who grumbled if any one occupied their favourite
corners. Absinthe nicely iced, dominoes, the evening papers--these he
brought as he welcomed familiar faces. But his thoughts were not his
own, and his pose when not in service was listless, even bored. Would
_she_ return that evening with the same crowd--was the idea that had
taken possession of his brain. He was very timid in the presence of
women, and it diverted the waiters to see him blush when he waited upon
the gorgeous birds that thronged the aviary at night, making its walls
echo with their chattering, quarrels, laughter. This provincial, modest,
sensitive, the only child of old-fashioned parents, was stupefied and
shocked in the presence of the over-decorated and under-dressed
creatures, daubed like idols, who began to flock in the café, with or
without escorts, after eleven o'clock every night in the year. He knew
them all by name. He knew their histories. He could detect at a glance
whether they were unhappy or merely depressed by the rain, whether they
drank champagne from happiness or desperation. Notwithstanding his
dreamy disposition his temperament was ardent; his was an unspoiled
soul; he felt himself a sort of moral barometer for the magnificent and
feline women who treated him as if he were a wooden post when they were
gossiping, harried him like an animal when they were thirsty. He noted
that they were always thirsty. They smoked more than they ate, and
whispered more, if no men were present, than they smoked. But then, men
were seldom absent.

The night previous, Ambroise recalled the fact, she had not come in with
a different set. This was not her custom, and he worried over it.
Protected by princes and financiers, she nevertheless loved her liberty
so much that one seldom caught her in the same company twice in
succession. For this singular caprice Aholibah, oftener called the Woman
from Morocco,--because she had lived in Algiers,--was the despair of her
circle. Why, argued the other birds, why fly in the face of luck? To be
sure, she was still young, still beautiful, with that sort of metallic
beauty which reminded Ambroise of some priceless bronze blackened in the
sun. She was meagre, diabolically graceful, dark, with huge saucer-like
eyes that greedily drank in her surroundings. But her lashes were long,
and she could veil her glance so that her brilliant face looked as if
the shutters had been closed on her soul. Across her brows a bar of
blue-black marked the passage of her eyebrows--which sable line was
matched by her abundant hair, worn in overshadowing clusters. She
dressed winter and summer in scarlet, and her stage name was
Aholibah--bestowed upon her by some fantastic poet who had not read
Ezekiel, but Swinburne. It was rumoured by her intimates that her real
name was Clotilde Durval, that her mother had been a seamstress....

With a sinking at the heart Ambroise saw her enter in the company of the
same gentleman she had brought the previous evening. The garçon did not
analyze this strange, jealous feeling, for he was too busily employed in
seating his guests and relieving the man of his hat and walking-stick.
An insolent chap it was, with his air of an assured conqueror and the
easy bearing of wealth. There was little discussion as to the order--a
certain brand of wine, iced beyond recognition for any normal palate,
was always served to Aholibah. She loved "needles on her tongue," she
asseverated if any one offered her weaker stuff. That July night she
looked like a piratical craft that had captured a sleek merchantman for
prize. She was all smoothness; Ambroise alone detected the retracted
claws of the leopardess. She blazed in the electric illumination, and
her large hat, with its swelling plumes, threw her dusky features into
shadow--her eyes seemed far away under its brim and glowed with unholy
phosphorescence.

While he arranged the details of the silver wine-pail in the other room,
the chef asked him if the Princess Comet had arrived. Ambroise almost
snarled--much to the astonishment of the Gascon. And when the sommelier
attempted to help him with the wine, he was elbowed vigorously. Ambroise
must have been drinking too much, said the boys. Joseph rather curiously
inspected his waiter as he made his accustomed round in the café. But,
pale as usual, Ambroise stood near his table, his whole bearing an
intent and thoroughly professional one. Joseph was satisfied and drove
the chef back to the kitchen.

The young Alsatian had never seen Aholibah look so radiant. She was in
high spirits, and her pungent talk aroused her companion from incipient
moroseness. After midnight the party grew--some actresses from a near-by
theatre came in with their male friends, and another waiter was detailed
to the aid of Ambroise. But he stuck to the first-comers and served so
much wine to them that he had the satisfaction of seeing Aholibah's
disagreeable protector collapse. She hardly noticed it, for she was
talking vivaciously to Madeleine about the première of Donnay's comedy.
Thrice Ambroise sought to fill her glass; but she repulsed him. He was
sad. Something told him that Aholibah was farther away from him than
ever; was she on the eve of forming one of those alliances that would
rob him finally of her presence? He eyed the sleeping man--surely a
monster, a millionnaire, with the tastes of a brute. It was all very
trying to a man with fine nerves. Several times he caught Aholibah's eye
upon him, and he vaguely wondered if he had omitted anything--or, had he
betrayed his feelings? In Paris the waiter who shows that he has ears,
or eyes, or a heart, except in the exercise of his functions, is lost.
He is bound to be caught and his telltale humanity scourged by instant
dismissal. So when those fathomless eyes glittered in his direction, his
knees trembled, and a ball of copper invaded his throat. He could barely
drag himself to her side and ask if he could help her. A burst of
impertinent laughter greeted him, and Madeleine cried:--

"Your blond garçon seems smitten, Aholibah!" When Ambroise heard this
awful phrase, his courage quite forsook him, and he withdrew into the
obscurity of the hall. So white was he that the kindly Joseph asked
solicitously if he were ill. Ambroise shook his head. The heat, he
feebly explained, had made his head giddy. Better drink some iced
mineral water, was suggested--the other man could look after the party!
But Ambroise would not hear of this, and feeling once more the beckoning
gaze of Aholibah he marched bravely to her and was rewarded by a tap on
the wrist.

"There, loiterer! Go call a carriage. The Prince is sleepy--dear sheep!"
This last was a tender apostrophe to her snoring friend. Ambroise helped
them into a fiacre. When it drove away it was past two o'clock; the
house had to be closed. He walked slowly home to his little chamber on
the Rue Puteaux, just off the Batignolles. But he could not sleep until
the street-cleaners began the work of another day.... The Woman from
Morocco was the scarlet colour of his troubled dreams....

       *       *       *       *       *

August had almost spent itself, and Aholibah remained in the arid and
flavourless town. Her intimate friends had weeks earlier gone to
Trouville, to Dinard, to Ostende, to Hombourg, even as far as Brighton;
but she lingered, seemingly from perversity. She came regularly to the
café about eleven, always in company with her Prince, and was untiringly
served by Ambroise. He was rewarded for his fidelity with many valuable
tips and latterly with gifts--for on being questioned he was forced to
admit that gratuities had to be shared with the other waiters. He was so
amiable, his smile so winning, his admiration so virginal, that
Aholibah kept him near her. Her Prince drank, sulked, or grumbled as
much as ever. He was bored by the general heat and the dulness, yet made
no effort to escape either. One night they entered after twelve o'clock.
Aholibah was in vicious humour and snapped at her garçon. Dog-like he
waited upon her, an humble, devoted helot. He overheard her say to her
companion that she must have lost the purse at the Folies-Bergères.

"Well, go to the Rue de la Paix to-morrow and buy another," was the
reply.

"I can't replace that purse. Besides, it was a prized gift--"

"From your sainted mother in heaven!" he sneered.

Ambroise saw the windows of her eyes close with a snap, and he moved
away, fearing to be present in the surely impending quarrel. He
remembered the purse. It was a long gold affair, its tiny links crusted
with precious pearls--emeralds, rubies, diamonds. And the top he saw
before him with ease, for its pattern was odd--a snake's head with jaws
distended by a large amethyst. Yes, it was unique, that purse. And its
value must have been bewildering for any but the idle rich. Ah! how he
hated all this money, coming from nowhere, pouring in golden streams
nowhere. He was not a revolutionist,--not even a socialist,--but there
were times when he could have taken the neck of the Prince between his
strong fingers and choked out his worthless life. These attacks of envy
were short-lived--he could not ascribe them to the reading of the little
hornet-like anarchist sheet, _Père Peinard_, which the other waiters
lent him; rather was it an excess of bile provoked by the coveted beauty
of Aholibah.

She usurped his day dreams, his night reveries. He never took a step
without keeping her memory in the foreground. When he closed his eyes,
he saw scarlet. When he opened them, he felt her magnetic glance upon
him, though she was far from the café. His one idea was to speak with
her. His maddest wish assumed the shape of a couple walking slowly arm
in arm through the Bois--_she_ was the woman! But this particular vision
bordered on delirium, and he rarely indulged in it.... He stooped to
look under the chairs, under the table, for the missing treasure. It was
not to be seen. Indolently the Prince watched him as he peered all over
the café, out on the terrace. Aholibah was deeply preoccupied. She
sipped her wine without pleasure. Her brows were thunderous. The
cart-wheel hat was tipped low over them. Several times Ambroise sought
her glance. He could have sworn that she was regarding him steadily. So
painful became the intensity of her eyes that he withdrew in confusion.
His mind was made up at last.

The next day was for him a free one. He wandered up and down the Rue de
la Paix staring moodily into the jewellers' windows. That night, though
he could have stayed away from the café, he returned at ten o'clock, and
luckily enough was needed. Joseph greeted him effusively. The "mast,"
the thin fellow from Marseilles, had gone home with a splitting
headache. Would Ambroise stay and serve his usual table? To his immense
astonishment and joy he saw her enter alone. He took her wraps and
seated her on her favourite divan near an electric fan. Then he stared
expectantly at the door. But her carriage had driven away. Was a part of
his dream coming true? He closed his eyes, and straightway saw scarlet.
Then he went for wine, without taking her order.

Aholibah was preoccupied. She played with the bracelet on her tawny left
wrist. Occasionally she lifted her glass, or else tossed her hair from
her eyes. If any stranger ventured near her, she began to hum
insolently, or spoke earnestly with Ambroise. He was in the eleventh
heaven of the Persians. Two Ambroises appeared to be in him: one served
his lady, spoke with her; the other from afar contemplated with the
ecstasy of a hasheesh eater his counterfeit brother. It was an exquisite
sensation.

"The purse--has Mademoiselle--" He stammered.

"No," she crisply answered.

"Can it never be duplicated? Perhaps--"

"Never. It is impossible. It was made in Africa."

"But--but--" he persisted. His bearing was so peculiar that she bent
upon him her dynamic gaze.

"What's the matter with you this evening, Ambroise? Have you come into a
successful lottery ticket? Or--" She was suspiciously looking at him.
"Or--you haven't found _it_?"

He nodded his head, his face beatific with joy. He resembled the
youthful Saint George after slaying the dragon. She was startled. Her
eyes positively lightened; he listened for the attendant peal of
thunder.

"Speak out, you booby. Cornichon! Where did you find it? Let me see
it--at once." All fire and imperiousness, she held out grasping fingers.
He shook. And then carefully he drew from the inside pocket of his coat,
the purse. She snatched it. Yes--it was her purse. And yet there was
something strange about it. Had the stones been tampered with? She
examined it searchingly. She boasted a jeweller's knowledge of diamonds
and rubies. One of the stones had been transposed, that she could have
sworn. And how different the expression of the serpent's eyes--small
carbuncles. No--it was not her purse! She looked at Ambroise. He was
paling and reddening in rapid succession.

"It is _not_ my purse! How did this come into your possession? It is
very valuable, quite as valuable as mine. But the eyes of my serpent
were not so large--I mean the carbuncles. Ambroise--look at me! I
command you! Where did you find this treasure--cher ami!" Her seductive
voice lingered on the last words as if they were a morsel of delicious
fruit. He leaned heavily on the table and closed his eyes to shut out
her face--but he only saw scarlet. He heard scarlet.

"I--I--bought the thing because--you missed the other--" He could get no
further. She smiled, showing her celebrated teeth.

"You bought the thing--_hein_? You must be a prince in
disguise--Ambroise! And I have just lost _my_ Prince! Perhaps--you
thought--you audacious boy--"

He kept his eyes closed. She was in a corner of the room--quite
empty--the other waiters were on the terrace. She weighed his appearance
and smiled mysteriously; her smile, her glance, and her scarlet gowns
were her dramatic assets. Then she spoke in a low voice--a contralto
like the darker tones of an English horn:--

"I fancy I'll keep your thoughtful _gift_--Ambroise. And now, like a
good boy, get a fiacre for me!" She went away, leaving him standing in
the middle of the room, a pillar of burning ice. When Joseph spoke to
him he did not answer. Then they took him by the arm, and he fell over
in a seizure which, asserted the practical head waiter, was caused by
indigestion.


II

ACROSS THE STYX

It was raining on the Left Bank. The chill of a November afternoon cut
its way through the doors of the Café La Source in the Boul' Mich' and
made shiver the groups of young medical students who were reading or
playing dominos. Ambroise Nettier, older, thinner, paler, waited
carefully on his patrons. He had been in the hospital with brain fever,
and after he was cured, one of the students secured him a position at
this café in the Quartier. He had been afraid to go back to the Café
Riche; Joseph had harshly discharged him on that terrible night; alone,
without a home, without a penny, his savings gone, his life insurance
hypothecated,--it had been intended for the benefit of his parents,--his
clothes, his very trunk gone, and plunged in debt to his fellow-waiters,
his brain had succumbed to the shock. But Ambroise was young and strong;
when he left the hospital he was relieved to find that he no longer saw
scarlet. He was a healed man. He had intended to seek for a place at the
Café Cardinal, but it was too near the Café Riche--he might meet old
acquaintances, might be asked embarrassing questions. So he gladly
accepted his present opportunity.

The dulness of the day waxed with its waning. It was nearly six o'clock
when the door slowly opened and Aholibah entered. She was alone. Her
scarlet plumage was wet, and she was painted like a Peruvian war-god.
She did not appear so brilliant a bird of paradise--or elsewhere--as at
the aviary across the water. Yet her gaze was as forthright as ever. She
sat on a divan between two domino parties, and was hardly noticed by the
fanatics of that bony diversion. Recognizing Ambroise, she made a sign
to him. It was some minutes before he could reach her table; he had
other orders. When he did, she said she wanted some absinthe. He stared
at her. Yes, absinthe--she had discarded iced wines. The doctor told her
that cold wine was dangerous. He still stared. Then she held up the
purse. It was a mere shell; all the stones save the amethyst in the
mouth of the serpent were gone. She laughed shrilly. He went for the
drink. She lighted a cigarette....

Every night for six months she haunted the café. She was always
unattended, always in excellent humour. She made few friends among the
students. Her scarlet dress grew shabbier. Her gloves and boots were
pitiful to Ambroise, who recalled her former splendours, her outrageous
extravagances. Why had fortune flouted her! Why had she let it, like
water, escape through her jewelled, indifferent fingers! He made no
inquiries. She vouchsafed none. They were now on a different footing.
Tantalizingly she dangled the purse under his nose as he brought her
absinthe--always this opalescent absinthe. She drank it in the morning,
in the afternoon, at night. She seldom spoke save to Ambroise. And
he--he no longer saw scarlet, for the glorious tone of her hat and gown
had vanished. They were rusty red, a carroty tint. Her face was like the
mask of La Buveuse d'Absinthe, by Felicien Rops; her eyes, black wells
of regard; her hair without lustre, and coarse as the mane of a horse.
Aholibah no longer manifested interest in the life of Paris. She did not
read or gossip. But she still had money to spend.

The night he quarrelled with his new patron, Ambroise was not well. All
the day his head had pained him. When he reached La Source, the dame at
the cashier's desk told him that he was in for a scolding. He shrugged
his thin shoulders. He didn't care very much. Later the prophesied event
occurred. He had been much too attentive to the solitary woman who drank
absinthe day and night. The patron did not propose to see his
establishment, patronized as it was by the shining lights of medicine--!

Ambroise changed his clothes and went away without a word. He was weary
of his existence, and a friend who shared his wretched room in the Rue
Mouffetard had apprised him of a vacant job at a livelier resort, the
Café Vachette, commonly known as the Café Rasta. There he would earn
more tips, though the work would be more fatiguing. And--the Morocco
Woman might not follow him. He hurried away.


III

AVERNUS

She sat on a divan in the corner when he entered the Vachette for the
first time. He said nothing, nor did he experience either a thrill of
pleasure or disgust. The other waiters assured him that she was an old
customer, sometimes better dressed, yet never without money. And she was
liberal. He took her usual order, but did not speak to her, though she
played with the purse as if to tempt him--it had become for him a symbol
of their lives. A quick glance assured him that the amethyst had
disappeared. She was literally drinking _his_ gift away in absinthe. The
spring passed, and Ambroise did not regain his former health. His limbs
were leaden, his head always heavy. The alert waiter was transformed. He
took his orders soberly, executed them soberly,--he was still a good
routinier; but his early enthusiasm was absent. Something had gone from
him that night; as she went to her carriage with her scornful, snapping,
petulant _Ça_!--he felt that his life was over. Aholibah watched like a
cat every night; he was not on for day duty. She never came to the Rasta
before dark. The story of her infatuation for the well-bred, melancholy
garçon was noised about; but it did not endanger his position, as at La
Source. He paid little attention to the jesting, and was scrupulously
exact in his work. But the sense of his double personality began to
worry him again. He did not see scarlet as of old; he noticed when his
eyes were closed that the apparition of a second Ambroise swam into the
field of his vision. And he was positively certain that this spectre of
himself saw scarlet--the attitude of his double assured him of the fact.
Simple-minded, ignorant of cerebral disorders, loyal, and laborious,
Ambroise could not speak of these disquieting things--indeed, he only
worked the more....

At last, one night in late summer, she did not appear. It was after a
day when she had sung more insolently than ever, drunk more than her
accustomed allowance, and had shown Ambroise the purse--the sockets of
the serpent's eyes untenanted by the beautiful carbuncles. Apathetic as
he had become, he was surprised at her absence. It was either caprice or
serious illness. She had dwindled to a skeleton, with a maleficent
smile. Her teeth were yellow, her hands become claws, the scarlet of her
clothes a drab hue, the plumes on her hat gone. Ambroise wondered. About
midnight a mean-looking fellow entered and asked for him. A lady, a very
ill lady, was in a coupé at the door. He hurried out. It was Aholibah.
Her eyes were glazed and her lips black and cracked. She tried to croon,
in a hoarse voice:--

"I am the Woman of Morocco!" But her head fell on the window-sill of the
carriage. Ambroise lifted the weary head on his shoulder. His eyes were
so dry that they seemed thirsty. The old glamour gripped him. The cabman
held the reins and waited; it was an every-night occurrence for him. The
starlight could not penetrate to the Boulevard through the harsh
electric glare; and the whirring of wheels and laughter of the café's
guests entered the soul of Ambroise like steel nails. She opened her
eyes.

"I am that Aholibah ... a witness through waste Asia ... that the strong
men and the Captains knew ..." This line of Swinburne's was pronounced
in the purest English. Ambroise did not understand. Then followed some
rapidly uttered jargon that might have been Moorish. He soothed her, and
softly passed his hand over her rough and dishevelled hair. His heart
was bursting. She was after all his Aholibah, his first love. A crowd
gathered. He asked for a doctor. A dozen students ran in a dozen
different directions. The tired horse stamped its feet impatiently, and
once it whinnied. The coachman lighted his pipe and watched his dying
fare. Some wag sang a drunken lyric, and Ambroise repeated at
intervals:--

"Please not so close, Messieurs. She needs air." Then she moved her head
and murmured:

"Where's--my Prince? My--Prince Ambroise--I have something--" Her head
fell back on his shoulder with a rigid jerk. In her clenched fingers he
recognized his purse--smudged, torn, the serpent mouth gaping, the eyes
empty.... And for the last time Ambroise saw scarlet--saw scarlet
double. His two personalities had separated, never to merge again.



IV

REBELS OF THE MOON

     "On my honour, friend," Zarathustra answered, "what thou speakest
     of doth not exist: there is no devil nor hell. Thy soul will be
     dead even sooner than thy body: henceforth fear naught."


The moon, a spiritual gray wafer, fainted in the red wind of a summer
morning as the two men leaped a ditch soft with mud. The wall was not
high, the escape an easy one. Crouching, their clothes the colour of
clay, they trod cautiously the trench, until opposite a wood whose trees
blackened the slow dawn. Then, without a word, they ran across the road,
and, in a few minutes, were lost in the thick underbrush of the little
forest. It was past four o'clock and the dawn began to trill over the
rim of night; the east burst into stinging sun rays, while the moving
air awoke the birds and sent scurrying around the smooth green park a
cloud of golden powdery dust....

Arved and Quell stood in a secret glade and looked at each other
solemnly--but only for a moment. Laughter, unrestrained laughter,
frightened the squirrels and warned them that they were still in
danger.

"Well, we've escaped this time," said the poet.

"Yes; but how long?" was the sardonic rejoinder of the painter.

"See here, Quell, you're a pessimist. You are never satisfied; which, I
take it, is a neat definition of pessimism."

"I don't propose to chop logic so early in the morning," was the surly
reply. "I'm cold and nervous. Say, did you lift anything before we got
away?" Arved smiled the significant smile of a drinking man.

"Yes, I did. I waited until Doc McKracken left his office, and then I
sneaked _this_." The severe lines in Quell's face began to swim
together. He reached out his hand, took the flask, and then threw back
his head. Arved watched him with patient resignation.

"Hold on there! Leave a dozen drops for a poor maker of rhymes," he
chuckled, and soon was himself gurgling the liquor.

They arose, and after despairing glances at their bespattered garments,
trudged on. In an hour, the pair had reached the edge of the forest,
and, as the sun sat high and warm, a rest was agreed upon. But this time
they did not easily find a hiding-place. Fearing to venture nearer the
turnpike, hearing human sounds, they finally retired from the clearing,
and behind a moss-etched rock discovered a cool resting-place on the
leafy floor.

At full length, hands under heads, brains mellowed by brandy, the men
summed up the situation. Arved was the first to speak. He was tall,
blond, heavy of figure, and his beard hung upon his chest. His
dissatisfied eyes were cynical when he rallied his companion. A man of
brains this, but careless as the grass.

"Quell, let us think this thing out carefully. It is nearly six o'clock.
At six o'clock the cells will be unlocked, and then,--well, McKracken
will damn our bones, for he gets a fat board fee from my people, and the
table is not so cursed good at the Hermitage that he misses a margin of
profit! What will he do? Set the dogs after us? No, he daren't; we're
not convicts--we're only mad folk." He smiled good-humouredly, though
his white brow was dented as if by harsh thoughts.

Quell's little bloodshot eyes stared up into a narrow channel of
foliage, at the end of which was a splash of blue sky. He was
mean-appearing, with a horselike head, his mustache twisted into a
savage curl. His forehead was abnormal in breadth and the irritable
flashes of fire in his eyes told the story of a restless soul. The
nostrils expanded as he spoke:--

"We're only mad folk, as you say; nevertheless, the Lord High Keeper
will send his police patrol wagon after us in a jiffy. He went to bed
dead full last night, so his humour won't be any too sweet when he hears
that several of his boarders have vanished. He'll miss you more than me;
I'm not at the first table with you swells."

Quell ended his speech with so disagreeable an inflection that Arved was
astonished. He looked around and spat at a beetle.

"What's wrong with you, my hearty? I believe you miss your soft iron
couch. Or did you leave it this morning left foot foremost? Anyhow,
Quell, don't get on your ear. We'll push to town as soon as it's
twilight, and I know a little crib near the river where we can have all
we want to eat and drink. Do you hear--drink!" Quell made no answer. The
other continued:--

"Besides, I don't see why you've turned sulky simply because your family
sent you up to the Hermitage. It's no disgrace. In fact, it steadies the
nerves, and you can get plenty of booze."

"If you have the price," snapped his friend.

"Money or no money, McKracken's asylum--no, it's bad taste to call it
that; his retreat, ah, there's the word!--is not so awful. I've a theory
that our keepers are crazy as loons; though you can't blame them,
watching us, as they must, from six o'clock in the morning until
midnight. Say, why were you put away?"

"Crazy, like yourself, I suppose." Quell grinned.

"And now we're cured. We cured ourselves by flight. How can they call us
crazy when we planned the job so neatly?"

Arved began to be interested in the sound of his own voice. He searched
his pockets and after some vain fumbling found a half package of
cigarettes.

"Take some and be happy, my boy. They are boon-sticks indeed." Quell
suddenly arose.

"Arved, what were you sent up for, may I ask?"

The poet stretched his big legs, rolled over on his back again, and
scratching his tangled beard, smoked the cigarette he had just lighted.
In the hot hum of the woods there was heard the occasional dropping of
pine cones as the wind fanned lazy music from the leaves. They could not
see the sun; its power was felt. Perspiration beaded their shiny faces
and presently they removed collars and coats, sitting at ease in
shirt-sleeves.... Arved's tongue began to speed:--

"Though I've only known you twenty-four hours, my son, I feel impelled
to tell you the history of my happy life--for happiness has its
histories, no matter what the poets say. But the day is hot, our time
limited. Wait until we are recaptured, then I'll spin you a yarn."

"You expect to get caught for sure?"

"I do. So do you. No need to argue--your face tells me that. But we'll
have the time of our life before they gather us in. Anyhow, we'll want
to go back. The whole world is crazy, but ashamed to acknowledge it. We
are not. Pascal said men are so mad that he who would not be is a madman
of a new kind. To escape ineffable dulness is the privilege of the
lunatic; the lunatic, who is the true aristocrat of nature--the unique
man in a tower of ivory, the elect, who, in samite robes, traverses
moody gardens. Really, I shudder at the idea of ever living again in
yonder stewpot of humanity, with all its bad smells. To struggle with
the fools for their idiotic prizes is beyond me. The lunatic asylum--"

"Can't you find some other word?" asked Quell, dryly.

"--is the best modern equivalent for the tub of Diogenes--he who was the
first Solitary, the first Individualist. To dream one's dreams, to be
alone--"

"How about McKracken and the keepers?"

"From the volatile intellects of madmen are fashioned the truths of
humanity. Mental repose is death. All our modern theocrats,
politicians,--whose minds are sewers for the people,--and lawyers are
corpses, their brains dead from feeding on dead ideas. Motion is
life--mad minds are always in motion."

"Let up there! You talk like the doctor chaps over at the crazy crib,"
interrupted Quell.

"Ah, if we could only arrange our dreams in chapters--as in a novel.
Sometimes Nature does it for us. There is really a beginning, a
development, a dénouement. But, for the most of us, life is a crooked
road with weeds so high that we can't see the turn of the path. Now, my
case--I'm telling you my story after all--my case is a typical one of
the artistic sort. I wrote prose, verse, and dissipated with true
poetic regularity. It was after reading Nietzsche that I decided to quit
my stupid, sinful ways. Yes, you may smile! It was Nietzsche who
converted me. I left the old crowd, the old life in Paris, went to
Brittany, studied new rhythms, new forms, studied the moon; and then
people began to touch their foreheads knowingly. I was suspected simply
because I did not want to turn out sweet sonnets about the pretty stars.
Why, man, I have a star in my stomach! Every poet has. We are of the
same stuff as the stars. It was Marlowe who said, 'A sound magician is a
mighty god.' He was wrong. Only the mentally unsound are really wise.
This the ancients knew. Even if Gerard de Nerval did walk the boulevards
trolling a lobster by a blue ribbon--that is no reason for judging him
crazy. As he truly said, 'Lobsters neither bark nor bite; and they know
the secrets of the sea!' His dreams simply overflowed into his daily
existence. He had the courage of his dreams. Do you remember his
declaring that the sun never appears in dreams? How true! But the moon
does, 'sexton of the planets,' as the crazy poet Lenau called it--the
moon which is the patron sky-saint of men with brains. Ah, brains! What
unhappiness they cause in this brainless world, a world rotten with
hypocrisy. A poet polishes words until they glitter with beauty,
charging them with fulminating meaning--straightway he is called mad by
men who sweat and toil on the stock exchange. Have you ever, my dear
Quell, watched those little, grotesque brokers on a busy day? No? Well,
you will say that no lunatic grimacing beneath the horns of the moon
ever made such ludicrous, such useless, gestures. And for what? Money!
Money to spend as idiotically as it is garnered. The world is crazy, I
tell you, crazy, to toil as it does. How much cleverer are the apes who
won't talk, because, if they did, they would be forced to abandon their
lovely free life, put on ugly garments, and work for a living. These
animals, for which we have such contempt, are freer than men; they are
the Supermen of Nietzsche--Nietzsche whose brain mirrored both a
Prometheus and a Napoleon." Quell listened to this speech with
indifference. Arved continued:--

"Nor was Nietzsche insane when he went to the asylum. His sanity was
blinding in its brilliancy; he voluntarily renounced the world of
foolish faces and had himself locked away where he would not hear its
foolish clacking. O Silence! gift of the gods, deified by Carlyle in
many volumes and praised by me in many silly words! My good fellow,
society, which is always hypocritical, has to build lunatic asylums in
self-defence. These polite jails keep the world in countenance; they
give it a standard. If _you_ are behind the bars--"

"Speak for yourself," growled Quell.

"Then the world knows that you are crazy and that _it_ is not. There is
no other way of telling the difference. So a conspiracy of fools,
lawyers, and doctors is formed. If you do not live the life of the
stupid: cheat, lie, steal, smirk, eat, dance, and drink--then you are
crazy! That fact agreed upon, the hypocrites, who are quite mad, but
cunning enough to dissemble, lock behind bolted doors those free souls,
the poets, painters, musicians--artistic folk in general. They brand our
gifts with fancy scientific names, such as Megalomania, Paranoia, _Folie
des grandeurs_. Show me a genius and I'll show you a madman--according
to the world's notion."

"There you go again," cried Quell, arising to his knees. "Genius, _I_
believe, is a disease of the nerves; and I don't mind telling you that I
consider poets and musicians quite crazy."

Arved's eyes were blazing blue signals.

"But, my dear Quell, are not all men mad at some time or another? Madly
in love, religiously mad, patriotically insane, and idiotic on the
subject of clothes, blood, social precedence, handsome persons, money?
And is it not a sign of insanity when one man claims sanity for his own
particular art? Painting, I admit, is--"

"What the devil do you know about painting?" Quell roughly interposed;
"you are a poet and, pretending to love all creation,--altruism, I think
your sentimental philosophers call it,--have the conceit to believe you
bear a star in your stomach when it is only a craving for rum. I've
been through the game."

He began to pace the sward, chewing a blade of grass. He spoke in
hurried, staccato phrases:--

"Why was I put away? Listen: I tried to paint the sun,--for I hate your
moon and its misty madness. To put this glorious furnace on canvas is,
as you will acknowledge, the task of a god. It never came to me in my
dreams, so I wooed it by day. Above all, I wished to express truth; the
sun is black. Think of an ebon sun fringed with its dazzling
photosphere! I tried to paint sun-rhythms, the rhythms of the quivering
sky, which is never still even when it seems most immobile; I tried to
paint the rhythms of the atmosphere, shivering as it is with chords of
sunlight and chromatic scales as yet unpainted. Like Oswald Alving in
Ibsen's Ghosts, my last cry will be for 'the sun.' How did my friends
act? What did the critics say? A black sun was too much for the world,
though astronomers have proven my theory correct. The doctors swore I
drank too much absinthe; the critics said a species of optical madness
had set in; that I saw only the peripheral tints--I was yellow and blue
crazy. Perhaps I was, perhaps I am. So is the fellow crazy who invented
wireless telegraphy; so is the man off his base who invents a folding
bird cage. We are all crazy, and the craziest gang are our doctors at
the Hermitage." He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. Arved rolled his
handsome head acquiescingly.

"You poets and musicians are trying to compass the inane. You are trying
to duplicate your dreams, dreams without a hint of the sun. The painter
at least copies or interprets real life; while the composer dips his
finger in the air, making endless sound-scrolls--noises with long tails
and whirligig decorations like foolish fireworks--though I think the art
of the future will be pyrotechnics. Mad, mad, I tell you! But whether
mad or not matters little in our land of freedom, where all men are born
unequal, where only the artists are sad. They are useless beings, openly
derided, and when one is caught napping, doing something that offends
church or State or society, he is imprisoned. Mad, you know! No wonder
anarchy is thriving, no wonder every true artist is an anarch, unavowed
perhaps, yet an anarch, and an atheist."

"Not so fast!" interrupted Arved. "I'm an anarchist, but I don't believe
in blowing up innocent policemen. Neither do you, Quell. You wouldn't
hurt a bartender! Give an anarchist plenty to drink, and he sheds his
anarchy like a shirt. There are, I have noticed, three stages in the
career of a revolutionist: destruction, instruction, construction. He
begins the first at twenty, at forty he is teaching, at sixty he
believes in society--especially if he has money in the bank." Quell
regarded the speaker sourly.

"You are a wonder, Arved. You fly off on a wild tangent stimulated by
the mere sound of a word. Who said anything about dynamite-anarchy?
There's another sort that men of brains--madmen if you will--believe and
indirectly teach. Emerson was one, though he hardly knew it. Thoreau
realized it for him, however. Don't you remember his stern rebuke when
Emerson visited him in Concord jail: 'Henry, why art thou here?' meekly
inquired the mystic man. 'Ralph, why art thou _not_ here?' was the
counter-question. Thoreau had brave nerves. To live in peace in this
malicious swamp of a world we must all wear iron masks until we are
carted off to the _domino-park_; pious people call it the cemetery. Now,
I'm going to sleep. I'm tired of all this jabbering. We are crazy for
sure, or else we wouldn't talk so much."

Arved grumbled, "Yes, I've noticed that when a man in an asylum begins
to suspect his keepers of madness he's mighty near lunacy himself."

"You have crazy blue eyes, Arved! Where's that flask--I'm dry again!
Let's sleep."

They drained the bottle and were soon dozing, while about them buzzed
the noon in all its torrid splendour.

When they awoke it was solid night. They yawned and damned the darkness,
which smelt like stale india-rubber, so Quell said. They cursed life and
the bitter taste in their mouths. Quell spoke of his thirst in words
that startled the easy-going Arved, who confessed that if he could rid
himself of the wool in his throat, he would be comparatively happy. Then
they stumbled along, bumping into trees, feeling with outstretched arms,
but finding nothing to guide them save the few thin stars in the torn
foliage overhead. Without watches, they could catch no idea of the hour.
The night was far spent, declared Arved; he discovered that he was very
hungry. Suddenly, from the top of a steep, slippery bank they pitched
forward into the highroad.

Arved put out his hand, searching for his comrade. "Quell, Quell!" he
whispered. Quell rose darkly beside him, a narrow lath of humanity.
Locking arms, both walked briskly until, turning a sharp, short corner,
they beheld, all smiling in the night, a summer garden, well lighted and
full of gay people, chattering, singing, eating, drinking--happy! The
two fugitives were stunned for a moment by such a joyful prospect. Tears
came slowly to their eyes, yet they never relaxed their gait. Arriving
at an outlying table and seats, they bethought themselves of their
appearance, of money, of other disquieting prospects; but, sitting down,
they boldly called a waiter.

Luckily it was a country girl who timidly took their order for beer and
sandwiches. And they drank eagerly, gobbling the food as soon as it
came, ordering more so noisily that they attracted attention. The beer
made them brave. As they poured down glass after glass, reckless of the
reckoning, insolent to the servant, they began wrangling over the
subject that had possessed their waking hours.

"Look here, Quell!" Arved exclaimed crustily, "you said I had crazy blue
eyes. What about your own red ones? Crazy! Why, they glow now like a
rat's. Poets may be music-mad, drunk with tone--"

"And other things," sneered the painter.

"--but at least their work is great when it endures; it does not fade
away on rotten canvas."

"Now, I know you ought to be in the Brain-College, Arved, where your
friends could take the little green car that goes by the grounds and see
you on Sunday afternoons if weather permits."

His accent seemed deliberately insulting to Arved, who, however, let it
pass because of their mutual plight. If they fell to fighting, detection
would ensue. So he answered in placatory phrases:--

"Yes, my friend, we both belong to the same establishment, for we are
men of genius. As the cat said to Alice, 'We must be mad or else we
shouldn't be here.' I started to tell you why my people thought I had
better take the cure. I loved the moon too much and loathed sunlight. If
I had never tried to write lunar poetry--the tone quality of music
combined with the pictorial evocation of painting--I might be in the
bosom of my family now instead of--"

"Drinking with a crazy painter, eh?" Quell was very angry. He shouted
for drinks so rapidly that he alarmed the more prudent Arved; and as
they were now the last guests, the head waiter approached and curtly
bade them leave. In an instant he was dripping with beer thrown at
him--glass and all--by the irate Quell. A whistle sounded, two other
waiters rushed out, and the battle began. Arved, aroused by the sight of
his friend on the ground with three men hammering his head, gave a roar
like the trumpeting of an elephant. A chair was smashed over a table,
and, swinging one-half of it, he made a formidable onslaught. Two of the
waiters were knocked senseless and the leader's nose and teeth crushed
in by the rude cudgel. The morose moon started up, a tragic hieroglyph
in the passionless sky. Quell, seeing its hated disk, howled, his face
aflame with exaltation. Then he leaped like a hoarsely panting animal
upon the poet; a moment and they were in the grass clawing each other.
And the moon foamed down upon them its magnetic beams until darkness,
caused by a coarse blanket, enveloped, pinioned, smothered them. When
the light shone again, they were sitting in a wagon, their legs tightly
bound....

They began singing. The attendant interrupted:--

"Will you fellows keep quiet? How can a man drive straight, listening to
your cackle?"

Arved touched his temple significantly and nudged Quell.

"Another one of us. Another rebel of the moon!"

"Shut up or I'll gag you both!" imperiously commanded the doctor, as the
wheels of the ambulance cut the pebbly road. They were entering the
asylum; now they passed the porter's lodge. In the jewelled light of a
senescent moon, his wife and little daughter gazed at them curiously,
without semblance of pity or fear. Then, as if shot from the same vocal
spring-board, the voices of poet and painter merged into crazy
rhythmatic chanting:--

"Rebels of the moon, rebels of the moon! We are, we are, the rebels of
the moon!"

And the great gates closed behind them with a brazen clangour--metal
gates of the moon-rebels.



V

THE SPIRAL ROAD

     There can be nothing good, as we know it, nor anything evil, as we
     know it, in the eye of the Omnipresent and the
     Omniscient.--_Oriental Proverb._


I

THE STRAND OF DREAMS

"I must see him if only for a minute. I can't go back to the city after
coming so far. Please--" but the girl's face disappeared and the rickety
door, which had been opened on a chain, was slammed after this
imperative speech, and Gerald Shannon found himself staring
exasperatedly at its rusty exterior. To have travelled on foot such a
distance only to be turned away like a beggar enraged him. Nor was the
prospect of returning over the path which had brought him to Karospina's
house a cheering one. He turned and saw that a low, creeping mist had
obliterated every vestige of the trail across the swamp lands. There was
no sun, and the twilight of a slow yellow day in late September would
soon, in complicity with the fog, leave him totally adrift on this
remote strand--he could hear the curving fall and hiss of the breakers,
the monotonous rumour of the sea. So he was determined to face
Karospina, even if he had to force his way into the house.

Two hours earlier, at the little railway station, they had informed him
that the road was easy flatland for the greater part of the way. He had
offered money for a horse or even a wheel; but these were luxuries on
this bleak, poverty-ridden coast. As there was no alternative, Gerald
had walked rapidly since three o'clock. And he had not been told the
truth about the road; where the oozing, green, unwholesome waters were
not he stepped, sometimes sinking over his ankles in the soft mud. Not a
sign of humanity served him for comfort or compass. He had been assured
that if he kept his back to the sun he would reach his destination. And
he did, but not without many misgivings. It was the vision of a squat
tower-like building, almost hemmed in by a monster gas reservoir,
fantastic wooden galleries, and the gigantic silhouettes of strange
machinery, that relieved his mind. But this house and its surroundings
soon repelled him. His reception was the final disenchantment.

He played a lively tattoo with his blackthorn stick on the panels of the
door. For five minutes this continued, interspersed with occasional loud
calls for Karospina. At last the siege was raised. After preliminary
unboltings, unbarrings, and the rattling of the chain, Gerald saw before
him a middle-aged man with a smooth face and closely shaven head, who
quietly asked his name and business.

"I have a letter for you, Mr. Karospina--if you are that gentleman--and
as I have put myself to much trouble in getting to you, I think I
deserve a little consideration."

"A letter, my worthy sir! And for me? Who told you to come here? How do
you know my name?" This angered the young man.

"It is from Prince K. _The_ Prince. Now are you satisfied?" he added, as
his questioner turned red and then paled as if the news were too
startling for his nerves.

"Come in, come in!" he cried. "Mila, Mila, here is a guest. Fetch tea to
the laboratory." He literally dragged Shannon within doors and led him
across a stone corridor to a large room, but not before he had bolted
and barred the entrance to his mysterious fortress. Seeing the other's
look of quiet amusement, he laughed himself:--

"Wolves, my dear sir, wolves, _human_ wolves, prowl on the beach at
night, and while I have no treasures, it is well to be on the safe side.
Mila, Mila, the tea, the tea." There was a passionate intensity in his
utterance that attracted Gerald from his survey of the chamber. He saw
that in the light Karospina was a much older man than he had at first
supposed. But the broad shoulders, the thick chest, and short, powerful
figure and bullet head belied his years. Incredulously his visitor asked
himself if this were the wonderful, the celebrated Karospina, chemist,
revolutionary, mystic, nobleman, and millionnaire. A Russian, he knew
that--yet he looked more like the monk one sees depicted on the canvases
of the early Flemish painters. His high, wide brow and deep-set, dark
eyes proclaimed the thinker; and because of his physique, he might have
posed as a prize-fighter.

He took the letter and read it as the door opened and the girl came in
with the tea. She wore her hair braided in two big plaits which hung
between her shoulders, and her bold, careless glance from eyes sea-blue
made the Irishman forget his host and the rigours of the afternoon. A
Russian beauty, with bare, plump arms, and dressed in peasant costume;
but--a patrician! Her fair skin and blond hair filled him with
admiration. What the devil!--he thought, and came near saying it aloud.

"My niece, Princess Mila Georgovics, Mr. Shannon." Gerald acknowledged
the introduction with his deepest bow. He was dazzled. He had come to
this dreary place to talk politics. But now this was out of the
question. And he began explaining to the Princess; Mila he had fancied
was some slattern waiting on the old fanatic of a prince. He told Mila
this in a few words, and soon the pair laughed and chatted. In the
meantime Karospina, who had finished the letter, began to pace the
apartment. Apparently he had forgotten the others.

"Tea, tea, where's the tea?" he presently shouted. As they drank, he
said: "The prince asks an impossibility, Mr. Shannon. Say to him, _no_,
simply no; he will understand, and so will you, I hope. I'm done with
all militant movements. I'm converted to the peace party. What's the use
of liberty to people who won't know what to do with it when they get it?
Tolstoy is right. Let the peasant be shown how to save his soul--that
and a little to eat and drink and a roof are all he needs in this life."

Gerald was startled. He had expected to find an "advanced" leader of the
Bakounine type. Instead, a man of the "vegetarian" order,--as he had
heard them called,--who talked religion instead of dynamite;--and after
all the bother of bringing the letter down to this remote country!
Decidedly the princess was more enjoyable than a reformed anarchist. She
was gazing at him seriously now, her society manner gone. Her nose,
rather large for the harmony of her face, palpitated with eagerness.
Evidently, thought Gerald, the young lady is the real revolutionist in
this curious household. He also ventured to say so to her, but she did
not meet his smiling declaration. Her uncle, irritated by his
interrupted discourse, exclaimed:--

"Never mind what the Princess Mila thinks, Mr. Shannon. Women change
their minds. The chief matter just now is that you cannot go away
to-night. You would lose your way, perhaps be drowned. Can you sleep on
a hard bed?" He was assured by Gerald that, if he had been turned away,
he would have slept in an outhouse, even under one of those windmills he
saw in such number on the strand. Karospina smiled.

"Hardly there--that is, if you expected to awaken." Then he left the
room, saying that some one must see to the supper. His niece burst into
laughter. Gerald joined in.

"He's always like that, fussy, nervous, but with a heart of gold,
Mr.--Mr. Shannon. Thank you. It's an Irish name, is it not? And you look
like an Irishman; a soldier, too, I fancy!"

Gerald blushed. "A soldier in the cause of humanity," he answered, "but
no longer a hireling in the uniform of kings." He felt so foolish after
this brave bit of rhetoric that he kept his eyes on the floor. In an
instant she was at his side.

"Give me your hand--_comrade_!" she said, with a peculiar intonation.
"Oh! if you only knew how I longed to meet the right men. Uncle is a
convert--no, hardly a backslider; but he swears by the regenerating
process instead of violence. Formerly the cleverest living chemist, he
now--oh! I shame to say it--he now indulges in firework displays instead
of manufacturing bombs with which to execute tyrants." She slowly
dropped his hand and her eyes wore a clairvoyant expression. He was
astounded.

"Fireworks! Doesn't the prince hold by his old faith--he, a pupil of
Bakounine, Netschajew, and Kropotkin?" Just then the prince came in,
bearing a tray. He seemed happy.

"Here, sit down, dear sir, and partake of a few things. We live so far
from civilization that we seldom get a good chicken. But eggs I can
offer you, eggs and ham, cooked by me on an electric machine."

"You have no servants?" Gerald ventured.

"Not one. I can't trust them near my--toys. The princess plays Chopin
mazourkas after she makes the beds in the morning, and in the afternoon
she is my assistant in the laboratory." Again the young man looked about
him. If the room was a laboratory, where were the retorts, the oven, the
phials, the jars, the usual apparatus of a modern chemist? He saw
nothing, except an old-fashioned electric fan and a few dusty books. The
fireworks--were those overgrown wheels and gaunt windmills and gas-house
the secret of the prince's self-banishment to this dreary coast? What
dreams did he seek to incarnate on this strand, in this queer tower,
locked away from the world with a charming princess--a fairy princess
whose heart beat with love for the oppressed, in whose hand he might
some time see the blazing torch of freedom? He, himself, was enveloped
by the hypnotism of the place. Mila spoke:--

"I fear I must leave you. I am studying to-night and--I go early to
rest. Pray dine as well as you can, with such a chef." She smiled
mischievously at her uncle, courtesied in peasant fashion to the
bewildered Gerald, who put out his hand, fain to touch hers, and
disappeared. The prince gazed inquiringly at the young man.

"Revolutionists soon become friends, do they not? The Princess Mila is
part Russian, part Roumanian,--my sister married a Roumanian,--hence her
implacable political attitude. I can't lead her back to civilized
thinking. She sees war in the moon, sun, and stars. And I--I have
forsworn violence. Ah! if I could only make the prince change.
Bakounine's death had no effect; Netschajew's fate did not move him; nor
was Illowski's mad attempt to burn down Paris with his incendiary
symphony an example to our prince that those who take up the sword
perish by the sword. Ah, Tolstoy, dear Leon Nikolaievitch, you showed me
the true way to master the world by love and not by hate! Until I
read--but there, it's late. Come with me to your room. You may smoke and
sleep when you will. In the morning I will show you my--toys." They
shook hands formally and parted.

His bed was hard, and his room cheerless, but anything, even a haymow,
rather than walking back to the station. After he went to his bed, he
rehearsed the day's doings from the three hours' ride in the train to
the tower. How weary he was! Hark--some one played the piano! A Chopin
mazourka! It was the princess. Mila! How lovely her touch!... Mila! What
a lovely name! A sleeping princess. A prince with such a sleepy head.
How the girl could play ... along the spiral road he saw the music glow
in enigmatic figures of fire....


II

THE PANACEA OF CORUSCATION

He seemed to be uttering her name when he awoke. It was daylight; the
sun poured its rays over his face, and he asked himself how he could
have fallen asleep leaving the lamp burning on the table near his bed.
He must have slept long, for he felt rested, cheerful--happy. As he
dressed he speculated whether it was the sunshine, or the prospect of
going back to life, or--or--Did he wish to return so soon? He wondered
what Mila was doing. Then he went into the stone corridor and coughed as
a hint that he was up. Not a sound but the persistent fall at a distance
of some heavy metallic substance. It must be Karospina in his workshop,
at his rockets, pinwheels, torpedoes, and firecrackers. What a singular
change in a bloodthirsty revolutionist. And how childish! Had he
squandered his millions on futile experimentings? What his object, what
his scheme, for the amelioration of mankind's woes? Gerald's stomach
warned him that coffee and rolls were far dearer to him than the
downfall of tyranny's bastions, and impatiently he began whistling. The
rhythmic thud never ceased. He noticed an open door at the back of the
house, and he went out, his long legs carrying him about the yard,
toward the beach. The air was glorious, a soft breeze blowing landward
from the ocean. He almost forgot his hunger in the face of such a
spectacle. The breakers were racing in, and after crumbling, they
scudded, a film of green, crested by cottony white, across the hard sand
to the young man's feet. He felt exhilarated. And his hunger returned.
Then Mila's voice sounded near him. She carried a basket and fairly ran
in her eagerness.

"Mr. Shannon, Mr. Shannon, good Prince Gerald--" he was amazed; where
could she have heard his Christian name?--"your breakfast. Wait--don't
swim the seas to New York for it. Here it is." She opened the basket and
handed him a jug of coffee and showed him the rolls inside. Without the
slightest embarrassment he thanked her and drank his coffee, walking; he
ate the bread, and felt, as he expressed it, like leading a forlorn
hope. They went on, the cutting sunshine and sparkling breeze alluring
them to vague distances. It was long after midday when they marched back
at a slower pace, Gerald swinging the basket like a light-hearted boy,
instead of the desperado he fancied himself.

Entering the house, Mila hunted up some cold meat, and with fresh tea
and stale bread they were contented. The formidable pyrotechnist did not
appear, and so the young people enjoyed the day in each other's company.
She conducted him like a river through the lands of sociology,
Dostoïewsky, and Chopin. She played, but made him sit in the hall, for
the piano was in her private room. And then they began to exchange
confidences. It was dusk before the prince returned, in the attire of a
workingman, his face and hands covered with soot and grease. A hard
day's labour, he said, and did not seem surprised to see Shannon.

After supper he asked Gerald if he would smoke a pipe with him in his
laboratory. Mila must have bored him enough by this time! They lighted
their pipes; but Mila refused to be sent away. She sat down beside her
uncle and put her elbows on the table--white, strong arms she had, and
Gerald only took his eyes from their pleasing contemplation to lift them
to hers. He was fast losing what little prudence he had; he was a Celt,
and he felt that he had known Mila for a century.

"Young man," said Prince Karospina, sharply, "you have the message I
gave you last night! Well--and you will say _no_, to my beloved friend
K., without knowing why. And you will think that you have been dealing
with a man whose hard head has turned to the mush of human kindness,--an
altruist. Ah! I know how you fellows despise the word. But what have
Kropotkin, Elisée Reclus, Jean Grave, or the rest accomplished? To
build up, not to tear down, should be the object of the scientific
anarch. Stop! You need not say the earth has to be levelled and ploughed
before sowing the seed. That suits turnip fields, not the garden of
humanity. Educate the downtrodden into liberty, is my message, not the
slaughtering of monarchs. How am I going to go about it? Ah! that's my
affair, my dear sir. After I read a certain book by Tolstoy, I realized
that art was as potent an agent for mischief as the knout. Music--music
is rooted in sex; it works miracles of evil--"

"Now, uncle, I won't hear a word against Chopin," said Mila, looking
toward Gerald for approval.

"Music, Mila, in the hands of evil men is an instrument dangerous to
religion, to civilization. What of Illowski and his crazy attack on
Paris and St. Petersburg? You remember, Shannon! Leave Wagner out of the
question--there is no fusion of the arts in his music drama--only bad
verse, foolish librettos, dealing with monsters and gods, and
indifferent scene-painting. Moreover, this new music is not understood
by the world. Even if the whole of mankind could be assembled on the
roof of the world and at a preconcerted signal made to howl the
Marseillaise, it would not be educated to the heights I imagine. Stage
plays--Shakespeare has no message for our days; Ibsen is an
anarchist--he believes in placing the torpedo under the social ark.
Painting--it is an affair for state galleries and the cabinets of
wealthy amateurs. Literature is a dead art--every one writes and reads
and no one understands. Religion! Ah! Yes, religion; the world will be a
blackened cinder or cometary gas before the love of God is stamped from
its heart. But religion and art must go hand in hand. Divorced, art has
fallen into the Slough of Despond; else has been transformed into an
acrid poison wherewith men's souls are destroyed as if by a virulent
absinthe. United with religion, art is purified. All art sprang from
religion. All great art, from a Greek statue to a Gothic cathedral, from
a Bach fugue to Michael Angelo, was religious. Therefore, if we are to
reach the hearts of the people, we must make art the handmaid of
religion." He stopped for breath. Gerald interposed:--

"But, dear prince, you say 'art.' What art--painting, sculpture,
architecture, music, poetry, drama--?"

"One art," harshly cried the now excited man, as he pounded the table
with his hard fist. "One art, _my_ art, the fusion of all the arts. I,
Prince Igorovitch Karospina, tell you that I have discovered the secret
of the arts never dreamed of by Wagner and his futile, painted music on
a painted stage; I have gone, not to art, but to nature--colour, fire,
the elements. The eye is keener than the ear, vision is easier
comprehended than tone. Ah! I have you interested at last."

He began walking as if to overtake a missing idea. His niece watched him
cynically.

"I fear you are boring Mr. Shannon," she said in her most birdlike
accents. Her uncle turned on her.

"I don't care if I am. Go to bed! I am nearing the climax of a lifetime,
and I feel that I must talk to a sympathetic ear. You are not bored,
dear friend. I have pondered this matter for more than thirty years. I
have studied all the arts--painting particularly; and with colour, with
colourful design I mean to teach mankind the great lessons of the
masters and of religion."

"Ah, you will exhibit in large halls, panoramic pictures, I suppose,"
interrupted Shannon.

"Nothing of the sort," was the testy reply. "For thousands of years the
world has been gazing upon dead stones and canvases, reading dead words.
Dead--all, I tell you, all of these arts. And painting is only in two
dimensions--a poor copy of nature. The theatre has its possibilities,
but is too restricted in space. Music is alive. It moves; but its
message is not articulate to _all_. I want an art that will be
understood and admired at a glance by the world from pole to pole. I
want an art that will live and move and tell a noble tale. I want an art
that will appeal to the eye by its colouring and the soul by its
beautiful designs. Where is that legend-laden art? Hitherto it has not
existed. I have found it. I have tracked it down until I am the master
who by a touch can liberate elemental forces, which will not destroy,
like those of Illowski's, but will elevate the soul and make mankind one
great nation, one loving brotherhood. Ah! to open once more those doors
of faith closed by the imperious dogmas of science--open them upon a
lovely land of mystery. Mankind must have mystery. And beyond each
mystery lies another. This will be our new religion."

Gerald had caught the enthusiasm of this swelling prologue and rose, his
face alight with curiosity.

"And that art is--is--?" he stammered.

"That art is--pyrotechny." It was too much for the young man's nerves,
and he fell back in his chair, purple with suppressed laughter. Angrily
darting at him and catching his left shoulder in a vicelike grip,
Karospina growled:

"You fool, how dare you mock something you know nothing of?" He shook
his guest roughly.

"Uncle, uncle, be patient! Tell Mr. Shannon, and he, too, will become a
believer. I believe in you. I believe in him, Mr. Shannon. Don't sneer!
Tell him, uncle." Mila's words, almost imploring in their tone, calmed
the infuriated inventor, who left the room. He reëntered in a moment,
his head dripping, and he was grinning broadly.

"Whenever I encounter a refractory pattern in my fireworks--as you call
them--I am compelled to throw a bucket of water over it to quench its
too ardent spirits. I have just done the same to my own head, dear Mr.
Shannon, and I ask your pardon for my rudeness. Get some fresh tea,
Mila, strong tea, Mila." Pipes were relighted and the conversation
resumed.

"I forgot in my obsession, in what Jacob Boehme calls 'the shudder of
divine excitement,' that I was talking to one of the uninitiated. I
suppose you think by pyrotechny I mean the old-fashioned methods of set
pieces, ghastly portraits in fire, big, spouting wheels, rockets, war
scenes from contemporary history, seaside stuff, badly done--and flowery
squibs. My boy, all that, still admired by our country cousins, is the
very infancy of my art. In China, where nearly everything was invented
ages ago, in China I learned the first principles, also the
possibilities of the art of fireworks; yes, call it by its humble title.
In China I have seen surprising things at night. Pagodas blown across
the sky, an army of elephants in pursuit, and all bathed in the most
divine hues imaginable. But their art suffers from convention. They
accomplish miracles considering the medium they work in--largely
gunpowder. And their art has no meaning, no message, no moral principle,
no soul. Years ago I discovered all the aids necessary to the
pyrotechnist. I am not a chemist for nothing. If I can paint a fair
imitation of a Claude Monet on canvas, I can also produce for you a
colourless gas which, when handled by a virtuoso, produces astonishing
illusions. In the open air, against the dark background of the horizon,
I can show you the luminous dots planewise of the Impressionists; or I
can give you the broad, sabrelike brushwork of Velasquez, or the
imperial tintings of Titian. I can paint pictures on the sky. I can
produce blazing symphonies. I will prove to you that colour is also
music. This sounds as if I were a victim to that lesion of the brain
called 'coloured-audition.' Perhaps! Not Helmholtz or Chevreul can tell
me anything new in the science of optics. I am the possessor of the
rainbow secrets--for somewhere in Iceland, a runic legend runs, there is
a region vast as night, where all the rainbows--worn out or to be
used--drift about in their vapoury limbo. I have the key to this land of
dreams. Over the earth I shall float my rainbows of art like a flock of
angels. With them I propose to dazzle the eyes of mankind, to arouse
sleeping souls. From the chords of the combined arts I shall extort
nobler cadences, nobler rhythms, for men to live by, for men to die
for!"

Shannon was impressed. Through the smoke of his host's discourse he
discovered genuine fire. The philosopher took his hand and led him to
the window.

"Stand there a moment!" he adjured. Mila joined him and after turning
the lamp to a pin-head of light, their shoulders touching--for the
window was narrow--they peered into the night. They were on the side of
the water. Suddenly Gerald exclaimed:--

"What's that light out at sea--far out? It looks like the moon!"

"It is the sun," coolly replied his companion. They saw arise from the
waters a majestic, glowing sphere of light, apparently the size of the
sun. It flooded the country with its glare, and after sailing nearly in
front of the house it shrank into a scarlet cross not larger than a
man's hand. Then in a shower of sparks it ceased, its absence making the
blackness almost corporeal. Instinctively the hands of the two indulged
in a long pressure, and Mila quickly adjusted the lamp. But Gerald still
stood at the window a prey to astonishment, terror, stupefaction.

Karospina entered. His face was slightly flushed and in his eyes there
burned the sombre fire of the fanatic. Triumphantly he regarded his
young friend.

"That was only a little superfluous gas--nothing I cared to show you.
Read the newspapers to-morrow, and you will learn that a big meteor
burst off the north coast the night before, and fell into the sea." Then
he moved closer and whispered:--

"The time is at hand. Within three weeks--not later than the middle of
October--I shall make my first public test. 'Thus saith the Lord God to
the mountains and to the hills, to the rivers and to the valleys:
Behold, I, _even_ I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy
your high places.'"

His voice rose in passion, his face worked in anger, and he shook his
clenched fists at an imaginary universe. So this man of peace was a
destroyer, after all! Gerald aroused him. Again he asked pardon. Mila
was nowhere to be seen, and with a sinking at the heart new to his
buoyant temperament, Gerald bade the magician good night. It was
arranged that he would leave the next day, for, like Milton, he was
haunted by "the ghost of a linen decency." But that night he did not
sleep, and no sound of music came to his ears from Mila's chamber. Once
he tried to open his window. It was nailed down.

A gray day greeted his tired eyes. In an hour he was bidding his friends
good-by and thanking them for their hospitality. He had hoped that Mila
would accompany him a few steps on his long journey, but she made no
sign beyond a despairing look at her uncle, who was surly, as if he had
felt the reaction from too prolonged a debauch of the spirit. Gerald lit
his pipe, kissed the hand of Mila with emphasis, and parted from them.
He had not gone a hundred yards before he heard soft footsteps tracking
him. He turned and was disappointed to see that it was only Karospina,
who came up to him, breathing heavily, and in his catlike eyes the fixed
expression of monomania. He stuttered, waving his arms aloft.

"The time is at hand and the end of all things shall be accomplished.
You shall return for the great night. You shall hear of it in the world.
Tell K. that I said _no!_ He must be with us at the transfiguration of
all things, when mankind shall go up the spiral road of perfection."

Gerald Shannon fairly ran to escape knowing more about the universal
panacea. And when he turned for the last time the sea and tower and man
were blotted out by wavering mists of silver.


III

THE FIERY CHARIOT

The young man soon heard of Karospina's project. A week before the event
the newspapers began describing the experiments of the new Russian
wonder-worker, but treated the matter with calm journalistic
obliviousness to any but its most superficial aspects. A scientific
pyrotechnist was a novelty, particularly as the experimentings were to
be given with the aid of a newly discovered gas. Strange rumours of
human levitations, of flying machines seen after dark at unearthly
heights, were printed. This millionnaire, who had expended fortunes in
trying to accomplish what Maxim and Langley had failed in achieving,
was a good peg upon which to hang thrilling gossip. He promised to
convince the doubting ones that at last man would come into the empire
of the air, and by means of fireworks. In searching carefully all the
published reports Gerald was relieved not to encounter the name of Mila.

That celebrated afternoon he found himself, after the distressingly
crowded cars, in company with many thousands, all clamouring and
jostling on the road to the tower. This time there were vehicles and
horses, though not in any degree commensurate with the crowd; but the
high tax imposed by the speculators gave him an opportunity of securing
a seat with a few others in a carriage drawn by four horses. Gingerly
they made their way down the narrow road--time was not gained, for the
packed mass of humans refused to separate. Fuming at the delay, he was
forced to console himself with smoking and listening to the stories told
of Karospina and his miracles. They were exaggerated. Karospina here,
Karospina there--the name of this modern magician was hummed everywhere
in the brisk October air. A little man who occupied the seat with
Shannon informed him that he knew some one who had worked for Karospina.
He declared that it was no uncommon sight for the conjurer--he was
usually called by that name--to float like a furled flag over his house
when the sun had set. Also he had been seen driving in the sky a span
of three fiery horses in a fiery chariot across the waters of the bay,
while sitting by his side was the star-crowned Woman of the Apocalypse
clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet. Gerald held his
counsel; but the grandeur of the spectacle he had witnessed still shook
his soul--if he had not been the victim of a hallucination! The journey
seemed endless.

At last the strand came into view with the squat tower, the rusting
machinery, and the reservoir back of the house. There were, however,
changes in the scene. Within a quarter of a mile of the beach tents were
set and booths erected. Seemingly all the city had rushed to this place,
and the plain, with its swampy surfaces, was dotted by masses of noisy
men and women. Gerald, finding that approach to the house was impossible
from the land side, made a wide detour, and on reaching the shore he was
gratified to find it empty. The local constabulary, powerless to fight
off the mob near the house, had devoted their energies to clearing the
space about the gas retorts. After much bother, and only by telling his
name, did he pass the police cordon. Once inside, he rushed to the back
door and found, oh! great luck--Mila. Dressed in white, to his taste she
was angelic. He had great difficulty in keeping his arms pinioned to his
side; but his eyes shone with the truth beating at the bars of his
bosom, and Mila knew it. He felt this and was light-headed in his
happiness.

They greeted. Mila's face wore a serious expression.

"I'm very glad you have come down. I think uncle will be glad also. I am
_happy_ to see you again; I have missed you these past weeks. But my
happiness is nothing just now, Gerald! [He started.] My uncle, you must
speak with him. From brooding so much over the Holy Scriptures, and the
natural excitement of his discoveries--they are so extraordinary, dear
friend, that he means always to keep them to himself, for he rightly
believes that the governments of the world would employ them for wicked
purposes, war, the destruction of weaker nations--he has become
overwrought. You may not know it, he has a very strong, sane head on his
shoulders; but this scheme for lifting up the masses, I suspect, may
upset his own equilibrium. And his constant study of the Apocalypse and
the Hebraic revelations--it has filled him with strange notions.
Understand me: a man who can swim in the air like a fish in the sea is
apt to become unstrung. He has begun to identify himself with the
prophets. He insists on showing biblical pictures,--worse still,
appearing in them himself."

"How 'appearing in them'?" asked Gerald, wonderingly.

"In actual person. I, too, have promised to go with him."

"In a transparency of fire, you mean? Isn't it dangerous?" She hung her
head.

"No, in mid air, in a fiery chariot," she murmured.

"The Woman of the Apocalypse!" he cried. "Oh! Princess Mila, dearest
Mila Georgovics, promise me that you will not risk such a crazy
experiment." Gerald pressed his fingers to his throbbing temples.

"It is no experiment at all," she said, in almost inaudible tones;
_"last night we flew over the house."_ He stared at her, his hands
trembling, and no longer able to play the incredulous.

"But, dear friend, I fear one other thing; the gas which uncle has
discovered is so tenuous that it is a million times lighter than air;
but it is ever at a terrible tension--I mean it is dangerous if not
carefully treated. Last summer, one afternoon, a valve broke and a large
quantity escaped from the reservoir, luckily on the ocean side. It
caused a storm and water-spouts, and destroyed a few vessels. The
coruscating gas creates a vacuum into which the air rushes with
incredible velocity. So promise me that while we are flying you will
stay with the police at the gas machines and keep off the crowd.
Promise!"

"But I shan't permit you to go up with this renegade to the
revolutionary cause--" he began impetuously. She put warning fingers to
her lips. In the white flowing robes of an antique priest, Karospina
came out to them and took Gerald by the hand. He was abstracted and
haggard, and his eyes glared about him. He chanted in a monotone:--

"The time is at hand. Soon you will see the Angels of the Seals. I shall
show the multitude Death on the Pale Horse and the vision of Ezekiel.
And you shall behold the star called Wormwood, the great star of the
third angel, which shall fall like a burning lamp upon the waters and
turn them bitter. And at the last you will see the chariot of Elijah
caught up to heaven in a fiery whirlwind. In it will be seated the
Princess Mila--we, the conquerors of the wicked world."

"Yes, but only as an image, an illusion," ejaculated the unhappy lover,
"not in reality."

"As she is," imperiously answered Karospina, and seizing Mila by the
arm, said, "Come!" She threw a kiss to Gerald and in her eyes were
tears. He saw them and could have wept himself. He followed the
sacrificial pair as far as the reservoir, muttering warnings in which
were mixed the fates of Phaethon and Simon Magus--that heretic who
mimicked the miracles of the apostles.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was now dark; the order to extinguish all lights on the moor had been
obeyed. Only a panting sound as if from a wilderness of frightened
animals betrayed the presence of thousands. As long as the sun shone
there had been a babel of sound; at the disappearance of our parent
planet, a hushed awe had fallen with the night. Gone the rude joking and
wrangling, the crying of children, and the shrill laughter of the women.
A bitter breeze swept across from the waters, and the stars were mere
twinkling points.

Then from the vault of heaven darted a ribbon of emerald fire. It became
a luminous spiral when it touched the sea of glass, which was like unto
a floor of crystal. This was the sign of Karospina's undertaking, his
symbol of the road to moral perfection. Gerald recalled Whistler's
pyrotechnical extravaganzas. Following this came a pale moon which
emerged from the north; a second, a third, a fourth, started up from the
points of the compass, and after wabbling in the wind like gigantic
balloons, merged overhead in an indescribable disk which assumed the
features of Michael Angelo's Moses. Here is a new technique, indeed,
thought Gerald; yet he could not detect its moral values.

A golden landscape was projected on land and sea. A central aisle of
waters, paved by the golden rays of a lyric sun high overhead, was
embellished on either side by the marmoreal splendours of stately
palaces. An ilex inclined its graceful head to its liquid image; men
moved the blocks that made famous in the mouth of the world Queen Dido's
Carthage. Clouds of pearl-coloured smoke encircled the enchanting
picture. And the galleys came and went in this symphonic, glittering
spectacle.

"Turner would have died of envy," said Gerald aloud. There was a
remarkable vibration of life, not as he had seen it in mechanical
bioscopes, but the vivid life of earth and sunshine.

The scenes that succeeded were many: episodes from profane and sacred
histories; simulacra of the great saints. A war between giants and
pygmies was shown with all its accompanying horrors. The firmament
dripped crimson. The four cryptic creatures of Ezekiel's vision came out
of the north, a great cloud of "infolding fire" and the colour was
amber. A cyclopean and dazzling staircase thronged by moving angelic
shapes, harping mute harps, stretched from sea to sky, melting into the
milky way like the tail of a starry serpent. Followed the opening of the
dread prophetic seals; but, after an angel had descended from heaven,
his face as the sun and at his feet pillars of fire, the people,
prostrate like stalks of corn beaten by a tempest, worshipped in fear.
These things were supernatural. The heavens were displaying the glory of
God.

Not knowing whether the signs in the skies might be construed as
blasphemous, and lost in fathomless admiration for the marvellous power
of the wizard, Gerald sought to get closer to Karospina and Mila. But
wedged in by uniformed men, and the darkness thick as an Egyptian
plague, he despairingly awaited the apotheosis. His eyes were sated by
the miracles of harmonies--noiseless harmonies. It _was_ a new art, and
one for the peoples of the earth. Never had the hues of the universe
been so assembled, grouped, and modulated. And the human eye, adapting
itself to the new synthesis of arabesque and rhythm, evoked order and
symbolism from these novel chords of colour. There were solemn mountains
of opalescent fire which burst and faded into flaming colonnades, and in
an enchanting turquoise effervescence became starry spears and scimiters
and sparkling shields, and finally the whole mass would reunite and
evaporate into brilliant violet auroras or seven-tailed,
vermilion-coloured comets. There were gleaming rainbows of unknown
tints--strange scales of chromatic pigments; "a fiery snow without
wind;" and once a sun, twice the size of our own, fell into the ocean;
and Gerald could have sworn that he felt a wave of heated air as if from
a furnace; that he heard a seething sound, as if white-hot metal had
come in contact with icy water. Consumed by anxiety for Mila's safety,
he wished that these soundless girandoles, this apocalypse of
architectural fire and weaving flame, would end.

He had not long to wait. A shrewd hissing apprised him that something
unusual was about to occur. Like the flight of a great rocket a black
object quickly mounted to the zenith. It did not become visible for
several seconds; Gerald's nerves crisped with apprehension. The
apparition was an incandescent chariot; in it sat Karospina, and beside
him--oh! the agony of her lover--Mila Georgovics. As the fiery horses
swooped down, he could see her face in a radiant nimbus of meteors,
which encircled the equipage. Karospina proudly directed its course over
the azure route, and once he passed Gerald at a dangerously low curve
earthward, shouting:--

"The Spiral! The Spiral!"

It was his last utterance; possibly through some flaw in the mechanism,
the chariot zig-zagged and then drove straight upon the reservoir. To
the reverberation of smashed steel and blinding fulguration the big
sphere was split open and Mila with Karospina vanished in the nocturnal
gulf.

Gerald, stunned by the catastrophe, threw himself down, expecting a
mighty explosion; the ebon darkness was appalling after the
scintillating rain of fire. But the liberated gas in the guise of an
elongated cloud had rushed seaward, and there gathering density and
strength, assumed the shape of a terrific funnel, an inky spiral, its
gyrating sides streaked with intermittent flashes. Its volcanic roaring
and rapid return to land was a signal for vain flight--the miserable
lover knew it to be the flamboyant ether of the pyromaniac transformed
into a trumpeting tornado. And he hoped that it would not spare him, as
this phantasm twirled and ululated in the heavens, a grim portent of the
iron wrath of the Almighty. In a twinkling it had passed him, high in
the dome of heaven, only to erase in a fabulous blast the moaning
multitude. And prone upon the strand between the stormy waters and the
field of muddy dead, Gerald Shannon prayed for a second cataclysm which
might bring oblivion to him alone.



VI

A MOCK SUN

     Where are the sins of yester-year?


I


The grating of the carriage wheels awoke her from the dream which had
lightly brushed away the night and the vision of the Arc de
Triomphe--looming into the mystery of sky and stars, its monumental
flanks sprawling across the Place de l'Étoile. She heard her name called
by Mrs. Sheldam as their coachman guided his horses through the gateway
of the Princesse de Lancovani's palace.

"Now, Ermentrude! Wake up, dear; we are there," said Mrs. Sheldam, in
her kind, drawling tones. Mr. Sheldam sighed and threw away the
unlighted cigar he had bitten during the ride along the Champs Élysées.
Whatever the evening meant for his wife and niece, he saw little
entertainment in store for himself; he did not speak French very well,
he disliked music and "tall talk"; all together he wished himself at the
Grand Hôtel, where he would be sure to meet some jolly Americans. Their
carriage had halted in front of a spacious marble stairway, lined on
either side with palms, and though it was a June night, the glass doors
were closed.

Ermentrude's heart was in her throat, not because of the splendour, to
which she was accustomed; but it was to be her first meeting with a
noble dame, whose name was historic, at whose feet the poets of the
Second Empire had prostrated themselves, passionately plucking their
lyres; the friend of Liszt, Wagner, Berlioz, of Manet, Degas, Monet; the
new school--this wonderful old woman knew them all, from Goncourt and
Flaubert to Daudet and Maupassant. Had she not, Ermentrude remembered as
she divested herself of her cloak, sent a famous romancer out of the
house because he spoke slightingly of the Pope? Had she not cut the
emperor dead when she saw him with a lady not his empress? What a night
this would be in the American girl's orderly existence! And _he_ was to
be there, he had promised the princess.

Her heart was overflowing when she was graciously received by the great
lady who stood in the centre of a group at the back of the
drawing-room--a lofty apartment in white and gold, the panels painted by
Baudry, the furniture purest Empire. She noted the height and majestic
bearing of this cousin of kings, noted the aquiline nose drooped over a
contracted mouth--which could assume most winning curves, withal shaded
by suspicious down, that echoed in hue her inky eyebrows. The eyes of
the princess were small and green and her glance penetrating. Her white
hair rolled imperially from a high, narrow forehead.

Ermentrude bore herself with the utmost composure. She adored the Old
World, adored genius, but after all she was an Adams of New Hampshire,
her sister the wife of a former ambassador. It was more curiosity than
_gaucherie_ that prompted her to hold the hand offered her and
scrutinize the features as if to evoke from the significant, etched
wrinkles the tremendous past of this hostess. The princess was pleased.

"Ah, Miss Adams," she said, in idiomatic English, "you have candid eyes.
You make me feel like telling stories when you gaze at me so
appealingly. Don't be shocked"--the girl had coloured--"perhaps I shall,
after a while."

Mr. Sheldam had slipped into a corner behind a very broad table and
under the shaded lamps examined some engravings. Mrs. Sheldam talked in
hesitating French to the Marquis de Potachre, an old fellow of venerable
and burlesque appearance. His fierce little white mustaches were curled
ceilingward, but his voice was as timid as honey. He flourished his
wizened hand toward Miss Adams.

"Charming! Delightful! She has something English in her _insouciant_
pose, and is wholly American in her cerebral quality. And what
colouring, what gorgeous brown hair! What a race, madame, is yours!"

Mrs. Sheldam began to explain that the Adams stock was famous, but the
marquis did not heed her. He peered at her niece through a gold-rimmed
monocle. The princess had left the group near the table and with two
young men slowly moved down the salon. Miss Adams was immediately
surrounded by some antiquated gentlemen wearing orders, who paid her
compliments in the manner of the eighteenth century. She answered them
with composure, for she was sure of her French, sure of herself--the
princess had not annihilated her. Her aunt, accompanied by the marquis,
crossed to her, and the old nobleman amused her with his saturnine
remarks.

"Time was," he said, "when one met here the cream of Parisian wit and
fashion: the great Flaubert, a noisy fellow at times, I vow; Dumas
_fils_; Cabanel, Gérôme, Duran; ever-winning Carolus--ah, what men! Now
we get Polish pianists, crazy Belgians, anarchistic poets, and
Neo-impressionists. I have warned the princess again and again."

"_Bécasse!_" interrupted the lady herself. "Monsieur Rajewski has
consented to play a Chopin nocturne. And here are my two painters, Miss
Adams--Messieurs Bla and Maugre. They hate each other like the Jesuits
and Jansenists of the good old days of Pascal."

"She likes to display her learning," grumbled the marquis to Mrs.
Sheldam. "That younger man, Bla, swears by divided tones; his neighbour,
Maugre, paints in dots. One is always to be recognized a half-mile away
by his vibrating waterscapes--he calls them Symphonies of the Wet; the
other goes in for turkeys in the grass, fowls that are cobalt-blue
daubs, with grass a scarlet. It's awful on the optic nerves.
_Pointillisme_, Maugre names his stuff. Now, give me Corot--"

"Hush, hush!" came in energetic sibilants from the princess, who rapped
with her Japanese walking-stick for silence. Mr. Sheldam woke up and
fumbled the pictures as Rajewski, slowly bending his gold-dust aureole
until it almost grazed the keyboard, began with deliberate accents a
nocturne. Miss Adams knew his playing well, but its poetry was not for
her this evening; rather did the veiled tones of the instrument form a
misty background to the human tableau. So must Chopin have woven his
magic last century, and in a salon like this--the wax candles burning
with majestic steadiness in the sculptured sconces; the huge fireplace,
monumental in design, with its dull brass garnishing; the subdued
richness of the decoration into which fitted, as figures in a frame, the
various guests. Even the waxed floor seemed to take on new
reverberations as the pianoforte sounded the sweet despair of the Pole.
To her dismay Ermentrude caught herself drifting away from the moment's
hazy charm to thoughts of her poet. It annoyed her, she sharply
reminded herself, that she could not absolutely saturate herself with
the music and the manifold souvenirs of the old hôtel; perhaps this may
have been the spell of Rajewski's playing....

The music ceased. A dry voice whispered in her ear:--

"Great artist, that chap Rajewski. Had to leave Russia once because he
wouldn't play the Russian national hymn for the Czar. Bless me, but he
was almost sent to Siberia--and in irons too. Told me here in this very
room that he was much frightened. They lighted fires in Poland to honour
his patriotism. He acknowledged that _he_ would have played twenty
national hymns, but he couldn't remember the Russian one, or never knew
it--anyhow, he was christened a patriot, and all by a slip of the
memory. Now, that's luck, isn't it?"

She began to dislike this cynical old man with his depreciating tales of
genius. She knew that her idols often tottered on clay feet, but she
hated to be reminded of that disagreeable reality. She went to Monsieur
Rajewski and thanked him prettily in her cool new voice, and again the
princess nodded approval.

"She is _chic_, your little girl," she confided in her deep tones to
Mrs. Sheldam, whose tired New England face almost beamed at the
compliment.

"We were in Hamburg at the Zoölogical Garden; I always go to see
animals," declaimed the princess, in the midst of a thick silence. "For
you know, my friends, one studies humanity there in the raw. Well, I
dragged our party to the large monkey cage, and we enjoyed
ourselves--immensely! And what do you think we saw! A genuine novelty.
Some mischievous sailor had given an overgrown ape a mirror, and the
poor wretch spent its time staring at its image, neglecting its food and
snarling at its companions. The beast would catch the reflection of
another ape in the glass and quickly bound to a more remote perch. The
keeper told me that for a week his charge had barely eaten. It slept
with the mirror held tightly in its paws. Now, what did the mirror mean
to the animal! I believe"--here she became very vivacious--"I really
believe that it was developing self-consciousness, and in time it would
become human. On our way back from Heligoland, where we were entertained
on the emperor's yacht at the naval manœuvres, we paid another visit to
our monkey house. The poor, misguided brute had died of starvation. It
had become so vain, so egotistical, so superior, that it refused food
and wasted away in a corner, gazing at itself, a hairy Narcissus, or
rather the perfect type of your modern Superman, who contemplates his
ego until his brain sickens and he dies quite mad."

Every one laughed. Mrs. Sheldam wondered what a Superman was, and
Ermentrude felt annoyed. Zarathustra was another of her gods, and this
brusquely related anecdote did not seem to her very spirituelle. But
she had not formulated an answer when she heard a name announced, a name
that set her heart beating. At last! The poet had kept his word. She was
to meet in the flesh the man whose too few books were her bibles of art,
of philosophy, of all that stood for aspiration toward a lovely ideal in
a dull, matter-of-fact world.

"Now," said the princess, as if smiling at some hidden joke, "now you
will meet _my_ Superman." And she led the young American girl to Octave
Kéroulan and his wife, and, after greeting them in her masculine manner,
she burst forth:--

"Dear poet! here is one of your adorers from overseas. Guard your
husband well, Madame Lys."

So he was married. Well, that was not such a shocking fact. Nor was
Madame Kéroulan either--a very tall, slim, English-looking blonde, who
dressed modishly and evidently knew that she was the wife of a famous
man. Ermentrude found her insipid; she had studied her face first before
comparing the mental photograph of the poet with the original. Nor did
she feel, with unconscious sex rivalry, any sense of inferiority to the
wife of her admired one. He was nearly forty, but he looked older; gray
hairs tinged his finely modelled head. His face was shaven, and with the
bulging brow and full jaw he was more of the German or Belgian than
French. Black hair thrown off his broad forehead accented this
resemblance; a composer rather than a prose-poet and dramatist, was the
rapid verdict of Ermentrude. She was not disappointed, though she had
expected a more fragile type. The weaver of moonshine, of mystic
phrases, of sweet gestures and veiled sonorities should not have worn
the guise of one who ate three meals a day and slept soundly after his
mellow incantations. Yet she was not--inheriting, as she did, a modicum
of sense from her father--disappointed.

The conversation did not move more briskly with the entrance of the
Kéroulans. The marquis sullenly gossiped with Mr. Sheldam; the princess
withdrew herself to the far end of the room with her two painters.
Rajewski was going to a _soirée_, he informed them, where he would play
before a new picture by Carrière, as it was slowly undraped; no one less
in rank than a duchess would be present! A little stiffly, Ermentrude
Adams assured the Kéroulans of her pleasure in meeting them. The poet
took it as a matter of course, simply, without a suspicion of posed
grandeur. Ermentrude saw this with satisfaction. If he had clay
feet,--and he must have them; all men do,--at least he wore his genius
with a sense of its responsibility. She held tightly her hands and
leaned back, awaiting the precious moment when the oracle would speak,
when this modern magician of art would display his cunning. But he was
fatuously commonplace in his remarks.

"I have often told Madame Kéroulan that my successes in Europe do not
appeal to me as those in far-away America. Dear America--how it must
enjoy a breath of real literature!"

Mrs. Sheldam sat up primly, and Ermentrude was vastly amused. With a
flash of fun she replied:--

"Yes, America does, Monsieur Kéroulan. We have so many Europeans over
there now that our standard has fallen off from the days of Emerson and
Whitman. And didn't America give Europe Poe?" She knew that this boast
had the ring of the amateur, but it pleased her to see how it startled
him.

"America is the Great Bribe," he pursued. "You have no artists in New
York."

"Nor have we New Yorkers," the girl retorted. "The original writing
natives live in Europe."

He looked puzzled, but did not stop. "You have depressed literature to
the point of publication," he solemnly asserted. This was too much and
she laughed in mockery. Husband and wife joined her, while Mrs. Sheldam
trembled at the audacity of her niece--whose irony was as much lost on
her as it was on the poet.

"But _you_ publish plays and books, do you not?" Ermentrude naïvely
asked.

Madame Kéroulan interposed in icy tones:--

"Mademoiselle Adams misunderstands. Monsieur Kéroulan is the Grand
Disdainer. Like his bosom friend, Monsieur Mallarmé, he cares little for
the Philistine public--"

He interrupted her: "Lys, dear friend, you must not bore Miss Adams with
my theories of art and life. _She_ has read me--"

Ermentrude gave him a grateful glance. He seemed, despite his
self-consciousness, a great man--how great she could not exactly define.
His eyes--two black diamonds full of golden reflections, the eyes of a
conqueror, a seer--began to burn little bright spots into her
consciousness, and, selfishly, she admitted, she wished the two women
would go away and leave her to interrogate her idol in peace. There were
so many things to ask him, so many difficult passages in The Golden
Glaze and Hesitations, above all in that great dramatic poem, The
Voices, which she had witnessed in Paris, with its mystic atmosphere of
pity and terror. She would never forget her complex feelings, when at a
Paris theatre, she saw slowly file before her in a Dream-Masque the
wraith-like figures of the poet, their voices their only corporeal gift.
Picture had dissolved into picture, and in the vapours of these crooning
enchantments she heard voices of various timbres enunciating in
monosyllables the wisdom of the ages, the poetry of the future. This
play was, for her, and for Paris, too, the last word in dramatic art,
the supreme _nuance_ of beauty. Everything had been accomplished:
Shakespeare, Molière, Ibsen; yet here was a new evocation, a fresh peep
at untrodden paths. In bliss that almost dissolved her being, the
emotional American girl reached her hotel, where she tried to sleep.
When her aunt told her of the invitation tendered by the princess, a
rare one socially, she was in the ninth heaven of the Swedenborgians.
Any place to meet Octave Kéroulan!

And now he sat near her signalling, she knew, her sympathies, and as the
fates would have it two dragons, her aunt and his wife, guarded the
gateway to the precious garden of his imagination. She could have cried
aloud her chagrin. Such an inestimable treasure was genius that to see
it under lock and key invited indignation. The time was running on, and
her great man had said nothing. He could, if he wished, give her a
million extraordinary glimpses of the earth and the air and the waters
below them, for his eyes were mirrors of his marvellous and
many-coloured soul; but what chance had he with a conjugal iceberg on
one side, a cloud of smoke--poor Aunt Sheldam--on the other! She felt in
her fine, rhapsodic way like a young priestess before the altar, ready
to touch with a live coal the lips of the gods, but withheld by a
malignant power. For the first time in her life Ermentrude Adams,
delicately nurtured in a social hothouse, realized in wrath the major
tyranny of caste.

The evening wore away. Mrs. Sheldam aroused her husband as she cast a
horrified glance at the classic prints he had been studying. The
princess dismissed her two impressionists and came over to the poet.
She, too plainly, did not care for his wife, and as the party broke up
there was a sense of relief, though Ermentrude could not conceal her
dissatisfaction. Her joy was sincere when Madame Kéroulan asked Miss
Adams and her aunt to call. It was slightly gelid, the invitation,
though accepted immediately by Ermentrude. The _convenances_ could look
out for themselves; she would not go back to America without an
interview. The princess raised her hand mockingly.

"What, I go to one of your conferences! Not I, _cher poète_. Keep your
mysteries for your youthful disciples." She looked at Ermentrude, who
did not lower her eyes--she was triumphant now. Perhaps _he_ might say
something before they parted. He did not, but the princess did.

"Beware, young America, of my Superman! You remember the story of the
ape with the mirror!"

Ermentrude flushed with mortification. This princess was decidedly rude
at times. But she kept her temper and thanked the lady for a unique
evening. Her exquisite youth and grace pleased the terrible old woman,
who then varied her warning.

"Beware," she called out in comical accents as they slowly descended the
naked marble staircase, "of the Sleeping Princess!"

The American girl looked over her shoulder.

"I don't think your Superman has a mirror at all."

"Yes, but his princess holds one for him!" was the jesting reply.

The carriage door slammed. They rolled homeward, and Ermentrude suffered
from a desperate sense of the unachieved. The princess had been
impertinent, the Kéroulans rather banal. Mrs. Sheldam watched her
charge's face in the intermittent lights of the Rue de Rivoli.

"I think your poet a bore," she essayed. Then she shook her
husband--they had reached their hôtel.


II

It was the garden of a poet, she declared, as, with the Kéroulans and
her aunt, Ermentrude sat and slowly fanned herself, watching the Bois de
Boulogne, which foamed like a cascade of green opposite this pretty
little house in Neuilly. The day was warm and the drive, despite the
shaded, watered avenues, a dusty, fatiguing one. Mrs. Sheldam had,
doubtfully, it is true, suggested the bourgeois comfort of the
Métropolitain, but she was frowned on by her enthusiastic niece. What!
ride underground in such weather? So they arrived at the poet's not in
the best of humour, for Mrs. Sheldam had quietly chidden her charge on
the score of her "flightiness." These foreign celebrities were well
enough in their way, but--! And now Ermentrude, instead of looking
Octave Kéroulan in the face, preferred the vista of the pale blue sky,
awash with a scattered, fleecy white cloud, the rolling edges of which
echoed the dazzling sunshine. The garden was not large, its few trees
were of ample girth, and their shadows most satisfying to eyes weary of
the city's bright, hard surfaces. There were no sentimental plaster
casts to disturb the soft harmonies of this walled-in retreat, and if
Ermentrude preferred to regard with obstinacy unusual in her mobile
temperament the picture of Paris below them, it was because she felt
that Kéroulan was literally staring at her.

A few moments after their arrival and with the advent of tea, he had
accomplished what she had fervently wished for the night she had met
him--he succeeded, by several easy moves, in isolating her from her
aunt, and, notwithstanding her admiration, her desire to tap with her
knuckles the metal of her idol and listen for a ring of hollowness, she
was alarmed. Yet, perversely, she knew that he would not exhibit his
paces before his wife--naturally a disinterested spectator--or before
her aunt, who was hardly "intimate" enough. The long-desired hour found
her disquieted. She did not have many moments to analyze these mixed
emotions, for he spoke, and his voice was agreeably modulated.

"You, indeed, honour the poor poet's abode with your youth and your
responsive soul, Miss Adams. I thank you, though my gratitude will seem
as poor as my hospitality." She looked at him now, a little fluttered.
"You bring to me across seas the homage of a fresh nation, a fresh
nature." She beat a mental retreat at these calm, confident phrases;
what could he know of her homage? "And if Amiel has said, 'Un paysage
est un état de l'âme,' I may amend it by calling _my_ soul a state of
landscape, since it has been visited by your image." This was more
reassuring, if exuberant.

"Man is mere inert matter when born, but his soul is his own work.
Hence, I assert: the Creator of man is--man." _Now_ she felt at ease.
This wisdom, hewn from the vast quarry of his genius, she had
encountered before in his Golden Glaze, that book which had built
temples of worship in America wherein men and women sought and found the
pabulum for living beautifully. He was "talking" his book. Why not? It
was certainly delightful plagiarism!

"You know, dear young lady," he continued, and his eyes, with their
contracting and expanding disks, held her attention like a clear flame,
"do you know that my plays, my books, are but the drama of my conscience
exteriorized? Out of the reservoirs of my soul I draw my inspiration. I
have an æsthetic horror of evidence; like Renan, I loathe the deadly
heresy of affirmation; I have the certitude of doubt, for are we poets
not the lovers of the truth decorated? When I built my lordly palace of
art, it was not with the ugly durability of marble. No; like the
Mohammedan who constructed his mosque and mingled with the cement
sweet-smelling musk, so I dreamed my mosque into existence with music
wedded to philosophy. Music and philosophy are the twin edges of my
sword. Ah! you smile and ask, Where is Woman in this sanctuary? She is
not barred, I assure you. My music--is Woman. Beauty is a promise of
happiness, Stendhal says. I go further: Life--the woman one has;
Art--the woman one loves!"

She was startled. Her aunt and Madame Kéroulan had retired to the end of
the garden, and only a big bee, brumming overhead, was near. He had
arisen with the pontifical air of a man who has a weighty gospel to
expound. He encircled with his potent personality the imagination of his
listener; the hypnotic quality of his written word was carried leagues
farther in effect by his trained, soothing voice. Flattered, no longer
frightened, her nerves deliciously assaulted by this coloured rhetoric,
Ermentrude yielded her intellectual assent. She did not comprehend. She
felt only the rhythms of his speech, as sound swallowed sense. He held
her captive with a pause, and his eloquent eyes--they were of an
extraordinary lustre--completed the subjugation of her will.

"Only kissed hands are white," he murmured, and suddenly she felt a
velvety kiss on her left hand. Ermentrude did not pretend to follow the
words of her aunt and Madame Kéroulan as they stopped before a bed of
June roses. Nor did she remember how she reached the pair. The one vivid
reality of her life was the cruel act of her idol. She was not conscious
of blushing, nor did she feel that she had grown pale. His wife treated
her with impartial indifference, at times a smile crossing her face,
with its implication--to Ermentrude--of selfish reserves. But this
hateful smile cut her to the soul--one more prisoner at his chariot
wheels, it proclaimed! Kéroulan was as unconcerned as if he had written
a poetic line. He had expected more of an outburst, more of a rebuff;
the absolute snapping of the web he had spun surprised him. His choicest
music had been spread for the eternal banquet, but the invited one
tarried. Very well! If not to-day, to-morrow! He repeated a verse of
Verlaine, and with his wife dutifully at his side bowed to the two
Americans and told them of the pleasure experienced. Ermentrude, her
candid eyes now reproachful and suspicious, did not flinch as she took
his hand--it seemed to melt in hers--but her farewell was conventional.
In the street, before they seated themselves in their carriage, Mrs.
Sheldam shook her head.

"Oh, my dear! What a woman! What a man! I have _such_ a story to tell
you. No wonder you admire these people. The wife is a genius--isn't she
handsome?--but the man--he is an angel!"

"I didn't see his wings, auntie," was the curt reply.


III

The Sheldams always stayed at the same hôtel during their annual visits
to Paris. It was an old-fashioned house with an entrance in the Rue
Saint-Honoré and another in the Rue de Rivoli. The girl sat on a small
balcony from which she could view the Tuileries Gardens without turning
her head; while looking farther westward she saw the Place de la
Concorde, its windy spaces a chessboard for rapid vehicles, whose
wheels, wet from the watered streets, ground out silvery fire in the
sun-rays of this gay June afternoon. Where the Avenue des Champs Élysées
began, a powdery haze enveloped the equipages, overblown with their
summer toilets, all speeding to Longchamps. It was racing day, and
Ermentrude, feigning a headache, had insisted that her uncle and aunt go
to the meeting. It would amuse them, she knew, and she wished to be
alone. Nearly a week had passed since the visit to Neuilly, and she had
been afraid to ask her aunt what Madame Kéroulan had imparted to
her--afraid and also too proud. Her sensibility had been grievously
wounded by the plainly expressed feelings of Octave Kéroulan. She had
reviewed without prejudice his behaviour, and she could not set down to
mere Latin gallantry either his words or his action. No, there was too
much intensity in both,--ah, how she rebelled at the brutal
disillusionment!--and there were, she argued, method and sequence in his
approach and attack. If she had been the average coquetting creature,
the offence might not have been so mortal. But, so she told herself
again and again,--as if to frighten away lurking darker thoughts, ready
to spring out and devour her good resolutions,--she had worshipped her
idol with reservations. His poetry, his philosophy, were so inextricably
blended that they smote her nerves like the impact of some bright
perfume, some sharp chord of modern music. Dangerously she had filed at
her emotions in the service of culture and she was now paying the
penalty for her ardent confidence. His ideas, vocal with golden
meanings, were never meant to be translated into the vernacular of life,
never to be transposed from higher to lower levels; this base betrayal
of his ideals she felt Kéroulan had committed. Had he not said that love
should be like "un baiser sur un miroir"? Was he, after all, what the
princess had called him? And was he only a mock sun swimming in a
firmament of glories which he could have outshone?

A servant knocked and, not receiving a response, entered with a letter.
The superscription was strange. She opened and read:--

     DEAR AND TENDER CHILD: I know you were angry with me when
     we parted. I am awaiting here below your answer to come to you and
     bare my heart. Say yes!

"Is the gentleman downstairs?" she asked. The servant bowed. The blood
in her head buzzing, she nodded, and the man disappeared. Standing there
in the bright summer light, Ermentrude Adams saw her face in the oval
glass, above the fireplace, saw its pallor, the strained expression of
the eyes, and like a drowning person she made a swift inventory of her
life, and, with the insane hope of one about to be swallowed up by the
waters, she grasped at a solitary straw. Let him come; she would have an
explanation from him! The torture of doubt might then be brought to an
end....

Some one glided into the apartment. Turning quickly, Ermentrude
recognized Madame Kéroulan. Before she could orient herself that lady
took her by both hands, and uttering apologetic words, forced the amazed
girl into a chair.

"Don't be frightened, dear young lady. I am not here to judge, but to
explain. Yes, I know my husband loves you. But do not believe in him. He
is a _terrific_ man." This word she emphasized as if doubtful of its
meaning. "Ah, if you but knew the inferno of my existence! There are so
many like you--stop, do not leave! You are not to blame. I, Lillias
Kéroulan, do not censure your action. My husband is an evil man and a
charlatan. Hear me out! He has only the gift of words. He steals all his
profundities of art from dead philosophers. He is not a genuine poet. He
is not a dramatist. I swear to you that he is now the butt of artistic
Paris. The Princesse de Lancovani made him--she is another of his sort.
He _was_ the mode; now he is desperate because his day has passed. He
knows you are rich. He desires your money, not _you_. I discovered that
he was coming here this day. Oh, I am cleverer than he. I followed. Here
I am to save you from him--and from yourself--he is not now below in the
salon."

"Please go away!" indignantly answered Ermentrude. She was furious at
this horrible, plain-spoken, jealous creature. Save her from herself--as
if ever she had wavered! The disinterested adoration she had entertained
for the great artist--what a hideous ending was this! The tall, blond
woman with the narrow, light blue eyes watched the girl. How could any
one call her handsome, Ermentrude wondered! Then her visitor noticed the
crumpled letter on the table. With a gesture of triumph she secured it
and smiling her superior smile she left, closing the door softly behind
her.

Only kissed hands are white! Ermentrude threw herself on the couch, her
cheeks burning, her heart tugging in her bosom like a ship impatient at
its anchorage. And was this the sordid end of a beautiful dream?...

"Do you know, dearest, we have had such news!" exclaimed Mrs. Sheldam as
she entered, and so charged with her happiness that she did not notice
the drawn features of her niece. "Charlie, Charlie will be here some
time next week. He arrives at Havre. He has just cabled his father. Let
us go down to meet the boy." Charlie was the only son of the Sheldams
and fonder of his cousin than she dare tell herself. She burst into
tears, which greatly pleased her aunt.

In the train, eight days later, Ermentrude sat speechless in company
with her aunt and uncle. But as the train approached Havre she
remembered something.

"Aunt Clara," she bravely asked, "do you recall the afternoon we spent
at the Kéroulans'? What did Madame Kéroulan tell you then? Is it a
secret?" She held tightly clenched in her hand the arm-rest at the side
of the compartment.

"Oh, dear, no! The madame was very chatty, very communicative. It's
funny I've not told you before. She confessed that she was the happiest
woman on earth; not only was she married to a grand genius,--for the
life of me I can't see where _that_ comes in!--but he was a good man
into the bargain. It appears that his life is made weary by women who
pester him with their attentions. Even our princess--yes, _the_
princess; isn't it shocking?--was a perfect nuisance until Mr. Kéroulan
assured her that, though he owed much of his success in the world to
her, yet he would never betray the trust reposed in him by his wife.
What's the matter, dear, does the motion of the car affect you? It
_does_ rock! And _he_ shows her all the letters he gets from silly women
admirers--oh, these foreign women and their queer ways! And he tells her
the way they make up to him when he meets them in society."

Ermentrude shivered. The princess also! And with all her warning about
the Superman! Now she understood. Then she took the hand of Mrs.
Sheldam, and, stroking it, whispered:--

"Auntie, I'm so glad I am going to Havre, going to see Charlie soon."
The lids of her eyes were wet. Mrs. Sheldam had never been so motherly.

"You _are_ a darling!" she answered, as she squeezed Ermentrude's arm.
"But there is some one who doesn't seem to care much for Havre." She
pointed out Mr. Sheldam, who, oblivious of picturesque Normandy through
which the train was speeding, slept serenely. Ermentrude envied him his
repose. He had never stared into the maddening mirror which turned poets
into Supermen and--sometimes monsters. Had she herself not gazed into
this distorting glass? The tune of her life had never sounded so
discouragingly faint and inutile. Perhaps she did not posses the higher
qualities that could extort from a nature so rich and various as Octave
Kéroulan's its noblest music! Perhaps his wife had told the truth to
Mrs. Sheldam and had lied to her! And then, through a merciful mist of
tears, Ermentrude saw Havre, saw her future.



VII

ANTICHRIST

     To wring from man's tongue the denial of his existence is proof of
     Satan's greatest power.--PÈRE RAVIGNAN.


The most learned man and the most lovable it has been my good fortune to
know is Monsignor Anatole O'Bourke--alas! I should write, was, for his
noble soul is gathered to God. I met him in Paris, when I was a music
student. He sat next to me at a Pasdeloup concert in the Cirque d'Hiver,
how many years ago I do not care to say. A casual exclamation betrayed
my nationality, and during the intermission we drifted into easy
conversation. Within five minutes he held me enthralled, did this
big-souled, large-brained Irishman from the County Tipperary. We
discussed the programme--a new symphonic poem by Rimski-Korsakoff,
Sadko, had been alternately hissed and cheered--and I soon learned that
my companion mourned a French mother and rejoiced in the loving presence
of a very Celtic father. From the former he must have inherited his
vigorous, logical intellect; the latter had evidently endowed him with a
robust, jovial temperament, coupled with a wonderful perception of
things mystical.

After the concert we walked slowly along the line of the boulevards. It
was early May, and the wheel of green which we traversed, together with
the brilliant picture made by the crowds, put us both in a happy temper.
It was not long before Monsignor heard the confession of my ideals. He
smiled quickly when I raved of music, but the moment I drifted into the
theme of mysticism--the transposition is ever an easy one--I saw his
interest leap to meet mine.

"So, you have read St. John of the Cross?" I nodded my head.

"And St. Teresa, that marvellous woman? The Americans puzzle me," he
continued. "You are the most practical people on the globe and yet the
most idealistic. When I hear of a new religion, I am morally certain
that it is evolved in America."

"A new religion!" I started. This phrase had often assailed me, both in
print and in the depths of my imagination. He divined my thought--ah! he
was a wonder-worker in the way he noted a passing _nuance_.

"When we wear out the old one, it will be time for a new religion," he
blandly announced; "you Americans, because of your new mechanical
inventions, fancy you have free entry into the domain of the spiritual.
But come, my dear young friend. Here is my hôtel. Can't I invite you to
dinner?" We had reached the Boulevard Malsherbe and, as I was miles out
of my course, I consented. The priest fascinated me with his erudition,
which swam lightly on the crest of his talk. He was, so I discovered
during the evening, particularly well versed in the mystical writers, in
the writings of the Kabbalists and the books of the inspired Northman,
Swedenborg. As we sat drinking our coffee at one of the little tables in
the spacious courtyard, I revived the motive of a new religion.

"Monsignor, have you ever speculated on the possible appearance of a
second Mahomet, a second Buddha? What if, from some Asiatic jungle,
there sallied out upon Europe a terrible ape-god, a Mongolian with
exotic eyes and the magnetism of a religious madman--"

"You are speaking of Antichrist?" he calmly questioned.

"Antichrist! Do you really believe in the Devil's Messiah?"

"Believe, man! why, I have _seen_ him."

I leaned back in my chair, wondering whether I should laugh or look
solemn. He noted my indecision, and his eyes twinkled--they were the
blue-gray of the Irish, the eyes of a seer or an amiable ironist.

"Listen! but first let us get some strong cigars. Garçon!" As we smoked
our panatelas he related this history:--

"You ask me if I believe in an Antichrist, thereby betraying your
slender knowledge of the Scriptures--you will pardon the liberty! I may
refer you not only to John's Epistles, to the revelations of the
dreamer of Patmos, but to so many learned doctors of the faith that it
would take a week merely to enumerate the titles of their works all
bearing on the mysterious subject. Our Holy Mother the Church has held
aloof from any doctrinal pronouncements. The Antichrist has been
predicted for the past thousand years. I recall as a boy poring over the
map of the world which a friend of my mother had left with her. This
lady my father called 'the angel with the moulting wings,' because she
was always in an ecstatic tremor over the second coming of the Messiah.
She would go to the housetop at least once every six months, and there,
with a band of pious deluded geese dressed in white flowing robes, would
inspect the firmament for favourable signs. Nothing ever happened, as we
know, yet the predictions sown about the borders of that strange-looking
chart have in a measure come true.

"There were the grimmest and most resounding quotations from the
Apocalypse. 'Babylon is fallen, is fallen!' hummed in my ears for many a
day. And the pale horse also haunted me. What would I have given to hear
the music of that 'voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and
as the voice of great thunder.' I mean the 'harpers harping with their
harps' the 'new song before the throne, before the four beasts and the
elders.' It is recorded that 'no man could learn that song but the
hundred and forty _and_ four thousand, which were redeemed from the
earth.' That is a goodly multitude. Let us hope we shall be of it.
Learned Sir Thomas Browne asked what songs the sirens sang. I prefer to
hear that wonderful 'harpèd' song.

"But I wander. The fault lies in that wondrous map of the world, with
its pictured hordes of Russians sweeping down upon Europe and America
like a plague of locusts, the wicked unbaptized Antichrist at the head
of them, waving a cross held in reversed fashion. Don't ask me the
meaning of this crazy symbolism. The sect to which my mother's friend
belonged--God bless her, for she was a dear weak-minded lady--must have
set great store by these signs. I admit that as a boy they scared me.
Sitting here now, after forty years, I can still see those cryptograms.
However, to my tale. About ten years ago I was in Paris, and in my
capacity as Monsignor I had to attend a significant gathering at the
embassy of the Russian ambassador in this city of light." He waved his
left hand, from which I caught the purple fire of amethyst.

"It was a notable affair, and I don't mind telling you now that it was
largely political. I had just returned from a secret mission at Rome,
and I was forced to mingle with diplomatic people. Prince Wronsky was
the representative of the Czar at that time in France, a charming man
with a flavour of _diablerie_ in his speech. He was a fervent Greek
Catholic, like most of his countrymen, and it pleased him to fence
mischievously with me on the various dogmas of our respective faiths.
He called himself _the_ Catholic; I was only a Roman Catholic. I told
him I was satisfied.

"On this particular night he was rather agitated when I made my
salutations. He whispered to me that madame the princess had that very
day presented him with a son and heir. Naturally I congratulated him.
His restlessness increased as the evening wore on. At last he beckoned
to me--we were very old friends--to follow him into his library. There
he hesitated.

"'I want you to do me a favour, an odd one; but as you are known to me
so long I venture to ask it. Do go upstairs and see my boy--' His tone
was that of entreaty. I smiled.

"'Dear prince, I am, as a priest, hardly a judge of children. But if you
wish it--is there anything wrong with the little chap's health?'

"'God forbid!' he ejaculated and piously crossed himself. We went to the
first _étage_ of his palace--he was gorgeously housed--and there he
said:--

"'Madame is in another wing of our apartments--go in here--the child is
attended by the nurse.' With that he pushed me through a swinging door
and left me standing in a semi-lighted chamber. I was very near ill
temper, I assure you, for my position was embarrassing. The room was
large and heavily hung with tapestries. A nurse, a hag, a witch, a dark
old gypsy creature, came over to me and asked me, in Russian:--

"'Do you wish to see his Royal Highness the King of Earth and Heaven?'
Thinking she was some stupid _moujik's_ wife, I nodded my head
seriously, though amused by the exalted titles. She put up a thin hand
and I tiptoed to a cradle of gold and ivory--it certainly seemed so to
my inexperienced eyes--the nurse parted the curtains, and there I saw--I
saw--but my son, you will think I exaggerate--I saw the most exquisite
baby in the universe. You laugh at an old bachelor's rhapsody! In
reality I don't care much for children. But that child, that supreme
morsel of humanity, was too much for me. I stood and stared and stood
and stared, and all the while the tiny angel was smiling in my eyes, oh!
such a celestial smile. From his large blue eyes, like flowers, he
smiled into my very soul. I was chained to the floor as if by lead.
Every fibre of my soul, heart, and brain went out to that little
wanderer from the infinite. It was a pathetic face, full of suppressed
sorrow--_Dieu_! but he was older than his father. I found my mind
beginning to wander as if hypnotized. I tried to divert my gaze, but in
vain. Some subtle emanation from this extraordinary child entered my
being, and then, as if a curtain were being slowly lowered, a mist
encompassed my soul; I was ceding, I felt, the immortal part of me to
another, and all the time I was smiling at the baby and the baby
smiling back. I remember his long blond hair, parted in the middle and
falling over his shoulders; but even that remarkable trait for an infant
a few hours old did not puzzle me, for my sanity was surely being
undermined by the persistent gaze of the boy. I vaguely recall passing
my hand across my breast as if to stop the crevice through which my
personality was filtering; I was certain that my soul was about to be
stolen by that damnable child. Then the nurse dropped something, and my
thoughts came back,--they were surely on the road to hell, for they were
red and flaming when I got hold of them,--and the spell, or whatever it
was, snapped.

"I looked up and noticed the woman maliciously smiling--if it had been
in the days of the inquisition, I would have sent her to the faggots,
for she was a hell-hag. The child had fallen back in his cradle as if
the effort of holding my attention had exhausted him. Then it struck me
that there was something unholy about this affair, and I resolutely
strode to the crib and seized the baby.

"'What changeling is this?' I demanded in a loud voice, for the being
that twisted in my grip was two or two hundred years old.

"'Lay him down, you monster!' clamoured the nurse, as I held the
squirming bundle by both hands. It was a task--and I'm very strong. A
superhuman strength waged against my muscles; but I was an old football
half-back at the university, so I conquered the poor little devil. It
moaned like a querulous old man; the nurse, throwing her weight upon me,
forced me to let go my hold. As I did so the baby turned on its face,
its dainty robe split wide open, and to my horror I saw on its back,
between its angelically white shoulders, burnt in as if by branding
irons, the crucifix--and _upside down_!"

I shuddered. I knew. He lowered his voice and spoke in detached phrases.

"It was--oh! that I live to say it--it was the dreaded Antichrist--yes,
this Russian baby--it was predicted that he would be born in Russia--I
trembled so that my robes waved in an invisible wind. The reversed
cross--the mark of the beast--the sign by which we are to know the Human
Satan--the last opponent of Christianity. I confess that I was
discomposed at the sight of this little fiend, for it meant that the red
star, the baleful star of the north, would rise in the black heavens and
bloody war spread among the nations of the earth. It also meant that
doomsday was not far off, and, good Christian as I believe myself to be,
a shiver ran down my spine at the idea of Gabriel's trump and the
resurrection of the dead. Yes, I shan't deny it--so material are the
sons of men, I among them! And the very thought of Judgment Day and its
blasting horrors withered my heart. Still something had to be done,
prophecy or no prophecy. To fulfil the letter of the law this infernal
visitor was let loose from hell. There was one way, so I grasped--"

"Great God, Monsignor, you didn't strangle the demon?" I cried.

"No, no--something better. I rushed over to a marble wash-basin and
seized a ewer of water, and, going back to the crib, despite the frantic
remonstrances of the old sorceress, I baptized the Antichrist in the
name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Before my eyes I
saw the inverted cross vanish. Then I soundly spanked the presumptuous
youngster and, running down the staircase, I sought the prince and said
to him:--

"'Your boy is now a Roman, not a Greek Catholic. We are quits!'"

The idea of a spanked Antichrist disconsolately roaming the earth,
unwilling to return to his fiery home for fear of a scolding, his guns
of evil spiked, his virus innocuous, his mission of spiritual
destruction a failure--for what could a baptized devil's child do but
pray and repent?--all this dawned upon me, and I burst into laughter,
the worthy Monsignor discreetly participating. His bizarre recital
proved to me that, despite his Gallic first name, Monsignor Anatole
O'Bourke hailed from the County Tipperary.



VIII

THE ETERNAL DUEL

    What is the sorriest thing that enters Hell?

    --D.G. ROSSETTI, _Vain Virtues_.


The face set him to a strange wondering; he sat at the coffin and
watched it. His wife's face it was, and above the sorrow of irrevocable
parting floated the thought that she did not look happy as she lay in
her bed of death. Monross had seen but two dead faces before, those of
his father and mother. Both had worn upon the mask which death models an
expression of relief. But this face, the face of his wife, of the woman
with whom he had lived--how many years! He asked himself why he
shuddered when he looked down at it, shuddered and also flushed with
indignation. Had she ever been happy? How many times had she not voiced
her feelings in the unequivocal language of love! Yet she seemed so
hideously unhappy as she stretched before him in her white robes of
death. Why? What secret was this disclosed at the twelfth hour of life,
on the very brink of the grave? Did death, then, hold the solution to
the enigma of the conquering Sphinx!

Monross, master of psychology, tormented by visions of perfection, a
victim to the devouring illusion of the artist,--Monross asked himself
with chagrin if he had missed the key in which had sounded the symphony
of this woman's life. This woman! His wife! A female creature,
long-haired, smiling, loquacious--though reticent enough when her real
self should have flashed out signals of recognition at him--this wife,
the Rhoda he had called day and night--what had she been?

She had understood him, had realized his nobility of ideal, his gifts,
his occasional grandeur of soul,--like all artistic men he was desultory
in the manifestation of his talent,--and had read aloud to him those
poems written for another woman in the pitch-hot passion of his
youth--before he had met her. To her he had been always, so he told
himself, a cavalier in his devotion. Without wealth, he had kept the
soles of her little feet from touching the sidewalks of life. Upon her
dainty person he had draped lovely garments. Why then, he wondered, the
vindictive expression etched, as if in aqua fortis, upon her carved
features?

Some Old World superstition held him captive as he gazed. Death is the
grand revealer, he thought; death alone stamps upon the crumbling canvas
of mortality the truth. Rhoda was dead. Yet her face was alive for the
first time. He saw its truth; and he shuddered, for he also discerned
the hate that had lurked a life long in its devious and smiling
expressions--expressions like a set of scenery pushed on and off as the
order of the play demanded. Oh, the misery of it all! He, Monross, poet,
lover, egoist, husband, to be confronted by this damnable defiance, this
early-born hate! What had he done! And in the brain cells of the man
there awakened a processional fleet of pictures: Rhoda wooed; Rhoda
dazzled; Rhoda won; Rhoda smiling before the altar; Rhoda resigned upon
that other altar; Rhoda, wife, mother; and Rhoda--dead!

But Rhoda loved--again he looked at the face. The brow was virginally
placid, the drooping, bitter mouth alone telling the unhappy husband a
story he had never before suspected. Rhoda! Was it possible this tiny
exquisite creature had harboured rancour in her soul for the man who had
adored her because she had adored him? Rhoda! The shell of his egoism
fell away from him. He saw the implacable resentment of this tender girl
who, her married life long, had loathed the captain that had invaded the
citadel of her soul, and conqueror-like had filched her virgin zone. The
woman seemingly stared at the man through lids closed in death--the
woman, the sex that ages ago had feared the barbarian who dragged her to
his cave, where he subdued her, making her bake his bread and bear his
children.

In a wide heaven of surmise Monross read the confirmation of his
suspicions--of the eternal duel between the man and the woman; knew
that Rhoda hated him most when most she trembled at his master bidding.
And now Rhoda lay dead in her lyre-shaped coffin, saying these ironic
things to her husband, when it was too late for repentance, too early
for eternity.



IX

THE ENCHANTED YODLER


A MARIENBAD ELEGY

I

The remorseless rain had washed anew the face of the dark blue sky that
domed Marienbad and its curved chain of hills. Hugh Krayne threw open
his window and, leaning out, exclaimed, as he eagerly inhaled the soft
air of an early May morning:--

"At last! And high time!" For nine days he had waded through the wet
streets, heavily leaping the raging gutters and stopping before the door
of every optician to scrutinize the barometer. And there are many in
this pretty Bohemian health resort, where bad weather means bad temper,
with enforced confinement in dismal lodgings or stuffy _restaurations_,
or--last resort of the bored--the promenade under the colonnade, while
the band plays as human beings shuffle ponderously over the cold stones
and stare at each other in sullen desperation.

But this day was a glorious one; in high spirits the Englishman left the
house on the Oberkreuzbrunnenstrasse and moved slowly toward the
springs. He was not thirty, but looked much older, for his weight was
excessive. An easy-going temperament, a good appetite, a well-filled
purse, and a conscience that never disturbed his night's slumber
contributed to this making of flesh. He waddled, despite his great
height, and was sufficiently sensitive to enjoy Marienbad as much for
its fat visitors as for its curative virtues. Here at least he was not
remarkable, while in London or Paris people looked at him sourly when he
occupied a stall at the theatre or a seat in a café. Not only had he
elbow room in Marienbad, but he felt small, positively meagre, in
comparison with the prize specimens he saw painfully progressing about
the shaded walks or puffing like obese engines up the sloping roads to
the Rübezahl, the Egerländer, the Panorama, or the distant Podhorn.

The park of the Kreuzbrunnen was crowded, though the hour of six had
just been signalled from a dozen clocks in the vicinity. The crowd,
gathered from the four quarters of the globe, was in holiday humour, as,
glass in hand, it fell into line, until each received the water doled
out by uniformed officials. Occasionally a dispute as to precedence
would take place when the serpentine procession filed up the steps of
the old-fashioned belvedere; but quarrels were as rare as a lean man. A
fat crowd is always good-tempered, irritable as may be its individual
members. Hugh Krayne kept in position, while two women shoved him about
as if he were a bale of hay. He heard them abusing him in Bohemian, a
language of which he did not know more than a few words; their
intonations told him that they heartily disliked his presence. Yet he
could not give way; it would not have been Marienbad etiquette. At last
he reached the spring and received his usual low bow from the man who
turned the polished wheel--the fellow had an eye tuned for gratuities.
With the water in his glass three-fourths cold and one-fourth warm, a
small napkin in his left hand, the Englishman moved with the jaunty
grace of a young elephant down the smooth terraced esplanade that has
made Marienbad so celebrated. The sun was riding high, and the tender
green of the trees, the flashing of the fountains, and the music of the
band all caused Hugh to feel happy. He had lost nearly a pound since his
arrival the week before, and he had three more weeks to stay. What might
not happen!

Just where the promenade twists under the shaded alleys that lead to the
Ferdinandsbrunnen, he saw four women holding hands. They were dressed in
Tyrolean fashion--pleated skirts, short enough to show white, plump
stockings, feet in slippers, upon the head huge caps, starched and
balloony; their massive white necks, well exposed, were encircled by
collars that came low on bodices elaborately embroidered. Behind them
marched several burly chaps, in all the bravery of the Austrian
Tyrol--the green alpine hat, with the feather at the back, the short
gray jacket, the bare knees, and the homespun stockings. Krayne regarded
curiously this strolling band of singers. Their faces seemed familiar to
him, and he rapidly recalled souvenirs of Salzburg and an open-air
concert. But this morning there was something that arrested his
attention in the group. It was a girl of eighteen or twenty, with a
brilliant complexion, large blue eyes, and a robust, shapely figure. As
she passed she gave him such an imploring look, such an appealing look,
that all his chivalric instincts rushed into the field of his
consciousness. He awkwardly dropped his tumbler. He turned around, half
expecting to see the big child still looking at him. Instead he gazed
upon the athletic backs of her male companions and to the unpleasant
accompaniment of hearty feminine laughter. Were these women laughing at
him? No fool like a fat one, he merrily thought, as he bought a new
glass at a bazaar, which a grinning, monkey-faced creature sold him at
the regular price redoubled.

Before his meagre breakfast of one egg and a dry rusk, Krayne
endeavoured to evoke the features of the pretty creature who had so
strongly attracted him. He saw a tangle of black hair, a glance that
touched his heart with its pathos, a pair of soft, parted red lips, and
dazzling teeth. It was an impression sufficiently powerful to keep him
company all the forenoon. Fat men, he reasoned on the steep pass that
conducts to the Café Forstwarte, are always sentimental, by no means
always amiable, and, as a rule, subject to sudden fancies. Ten years of
his sentimental education had been sown with adventures that had begun
well, caprices that had no satisfactory endings. He had fallen in love
with the girl who played Chopin on the piano, the girl who played
Mendelssohn on the violin, the girl who played Goltermann on the
violoncello. Then followed girls who painted, poetized, botanized, and
hammered metal. Once--an exception--he had succumbed to the charms of an
actress who essayed characters in the dumps--Ibsen soubrettes,
Strindberg servants, and Máxim Górky tramps. Yet he had, somehow or
other, emerged heart whole from his adventures among those masterpieces
of the cosmos--women.

Certainly this might be another romance added to the long list of his
sentimental fractures. He ate his dinner, the one satisfactory meal of
the day allowed him by a cruel doctor, with the utmost deliberation. He
had walked three hours during the morning, and now, under the spacious
balconies of the Forstwarte, he knew that his beef and spinach would be
none the worse for a small bottle of very dry, light Vöslauer. Besides,
his physician had not actually forbidden him a little liquid at the
midday meal. Just before bedtime he was entitled--so his dietetic
schedule told him--to one glass of Pilsner beer. Not so bad, after all,
this banting at Marienbad, he reflected. Anyhow, it was better than the
existence of those fellows at sea-shore and mountain, who gorged and
guzzled their summer away. Then he tried to remember among his London
club friends any who were as heavy as he, but he could not. Idly
smoking, he regarded the piazzas, with their tables and groups of obese
humanity, eating, drinking, and buzzing--little fat flies, he thought,
as he drew his waistcoat in, feeling quite haughty and slender.

He read on a placard that the "Präger Bavarian Sextet" would give a
"grand" concert at the Hotel Bellevue this very afternoon. "Ah ha!" said
Krayne aloud, "that's the girl I saw!" Then he wasted several hours more
loitering about the beautiful park on the Kaiserstrasse and looking in
the shop windows at views of Marienbad on postal cards, at
yellow-covered French, German, and Russian novels, at pictures of kings,
queens, and actresses. He also visited the houses wherein Goethe,
Chopin, and Wagner had dwelt. It was four o'clock when he entered the
garden of the Bellevue establishment and secured a table. The waiter at
his request removed the other chairs, so he had a nook to himself. Not a
very large crowd was scattered around; visitors at Marienbad do not care
to pay for their diversions. In a few minutes, after a march had been
banged from a wretched piano--were pianos ever tuned on the Continent,
he wondered?--the sextet appeared, looking as it did in the morning, and
sang an Austrian melody, a capella. It was not very interesting.

The women stood in front and yelled with a hearty will; the men roared
in the background. Krayne saw his young lady, holding her apron by the
sides, her head thrown back, her mouth well opened; but he could not
distinguish her individual voice. How pretty she was! He sipped his
coffee. Then came a zither solo--that abominable instrument of plucked
wires, with its quiver of a love-sick clock about to run down; this
parody of an æolian harp always annoyed Krayne, and he was glad when the
man finished. A stout soprano in a velvet bodice, her arms bare and
brawny, the arms of a lass accustomed to ploughing and digging potatoes,
sang something about turtle doves. She was odious. Odious, too, was her
companion, in a duo through which they screamed and rumbled--"Verlassen
bin i." At last she came out and he saw by the programme that her name
was Röselein Gich. What an odd name, what an attractive girl! He
finished his coffee and frantically signalled his waitress. It was
against the doctor's orders to take more than one cup, and then the
sugar! Hang the doctor, he cried, and drank a second cup.

She sang. Her voice was an unusually heavy, rich contralto. That she was
not an accomplished artiste he knew. He did not haunt opera houses for
naught, and, like all fat men who wear red ties in the forenoon, he was
a trifle dogmatic in his criticism. The young woman had the making of an
opera singer. What a Fricka, Brangaene, Ortrud, Sieglinde, Erda, this
clever girl might become! She was musical, she was dramatic in
temperament--he let his imagination run away with him. She only sang an
Oberbayerische yodel, and, while her voice was not very high, she
contrived a falsetto that made her English listener shiver. This yodel
seemed to him as thrilling as the "_Ho yo to ho!_" of Brunnhilde as she
rushes over the rocky road to Valhall. _La la liriti! La la lirita!
Hallali!_ chirped Röselein, with a final flourish that positively
enthralled Hugh Krayne. He applauded, beating with his stick upon the
table, his face flushed by emotion. Decidedly this girl was worth the
visit to Marienbad.

And he noted with delight that Fräulein Gich had left the stage. Basket
in hand, she went from table to table, selling pictures and programmes
and collecting admission fees. At last he would be able to speak with
the enchantress, for he prided himself on the purity of his German.
Smiling until she reached his table, she suddenly became serious when
she saw this big Englishman in the plaid suit and red necktie. Again he
felt the imploring glance, the soft lips parted in childish
supplication. It was too much for his nerves. He tossed into her basket
a gold piece, grabbed at random some pictures, and as her beseeching
expression deepened, her eyes moist with wonder and gratitude, he tugged
at a ring on his corpulent finger, and, wrenching it free, presented it
to her with a well-turned phrase, adding:--

"Thou hast the making of a great singer in thee, Fräulein Röselein. I
wish I could help thee to fame!"

The girl gave him an incredulous stare, then reddening, the muscles on
her full neck standing out, she ran like a hare back to her companions.
Evidently he had made an impression. The honest folk about him who
witnessed the little encounter fairly brimmed over with gossip. The
stout basso moved slowly to Krayne, who braced himself for trouble. Now
for it! he whispered to himself, and grasped his walking-stick firmly.
But, hat in hand, his visitor, a handsome blond man, approached and
thanked Hugh for his generosity. He was a lover of music, the yodler
assured him, and his wife and himself felt grateful for the interest he
displayed in Fräulein Röselein, his wife's sister. Yes, she had a
remarkable voice. What a pity--but wouldn't the gentleman attend the
concert to be given that evening up at the Café Alm? It was, to be sure,
rather far, the café, but the moon would be up and if he could find his
way there he might do the company the honour of coming back with them.

The Fräulein would sing a lot for him--Bohemian, Tyrolean, French, and
German songs. Ah, she was versatile! The man did not speak like a
peasant, and seemed a shrewd, pleasant fellow. Hugh Krayne, in excellent
though formal German, assured the other of his pleasure and accepted the
invitation. Then he looked over at Röselein, who stood on the stage,
and as he did so she waved a crimson handkerchief at him as a friendly
sign. He took off his hat, touched significantly his own tie to indicate
a reciprocity of sentiment, and all aglow he ordered a third cup of
coffee.

The cure could take care of itself. _Man lebt nur einmal!_


II

On his way to the Alm he met the fattest man in Marienbad, a former chef
of the German emperor, and gave him a friendly salute. He liked to see
this monster, who made the scales groan at six hundred pounds, more than
double his own weight, for it put him at ease with himself. But this
evening he felt uncomfortable. What if he were to reach such a climax in
adiposity What if in the years to come he should be compelled, as was
the unfortunate man from Berlin, to sit on a chair every five minutes, a
chair carried by an impudent boy! What--here his heart sank--if the
Fräulein should mock his size! He walked so rapidly at this idea that
other victims of rotundity stopped to look at his tall figure and nodded
approval. Ach! Marienbad was wonderful!

After he had found a seat at the Alm next to the low wall, across which
he could see a vast stretch of undulating country, lighted by a moon
that seemed to swing like a silver hoop in the sky, Krayne ordered
Pilsner. He was fatigued by the hilly scramble and he was thirsty. Oh,
the lovely thirst of Marienbad--who that hath not been within thy
hospitable gates he knoweth it not! The magic of the night was making of
him a poet. He could see his Tyrolean friends behind the glass partition
of the little hall. There would they sing, not in the open. It was
nearly the same, for presently the windows were raised and their voices
came floating out to him, the bourdon of Röselein's organ easily
distinguishable. Love had sharpened his ears. He drained his glass and
sent for another. He felt that he was tumbling down an abyss of passion
and that nothing in the world could save him.

The intermission! He stood up to attract the attention of Herr Johan
Präger. Röselein saw him and at once neared him, but without the basket.
This delicacy pleased Krayne very much. It showed him that he was not on
the same footing as the public. He made the girl take a seat, and though
he felt the eyes of the crowd upon him, he was not in the least
concerned. London was far away and the season was too young for the
annual rush of his compatriots. Would the Fräulein take something? She
accepted coffee, which she drank from a long glass with plenty of milk
and sugar. She again gazed at him with such a resigned expression that
he felt his starched cuffs grow warm from their contiguity to his
leaping pulses.

"Yes, Fräulein," he said, employing the familiar _du_, "thou hast
overcome me. Why not accept my offer?" Was this the prudent Hugh Krayne
talking? She smiled sweetly and shook her head. Her voice was delicious
in colour and intonation, nor did it betray humble origin.

"I fear, dear sir, that what you offer is impossible. My sister, the
soprano, would never hear of such a thing. My brother, her husband,
would not allow it. And I owe them my living, my education. How could I
repay them if I left them now?" she hesitated.

"Simply enough. You would be a singer at the opera some day, and take
them all to live with you. Is there no other reason?" He recollected
with a vivid sense of the disagreeable the lively antics of a lithe
youth in the company, who, at the close of the concert, executed with
diabolic dexterity what they called a _Schuhplattltanz_. This dance had
glued Krayne's attention, for Röselein was the young tenor singer's
partner. With their wooden sabots they clattered and sang, waving wildly
their arms or else making frantic passages of pretended love and
coquetry. It upset the Englishman to see the impudence of this common
peasant fellow grasping Röselein by the waist, as he whirled her about
in the boorish dance. Hence the clause to his question. She endured his
inquiring gaze, as she simply answered:--

"No, there is no other reason." She put her hand on the arm of her
companion and the lights suddenly became misty, for he was of an
apoplectic tendency. They talked of music, of the opera in Vienna and
Prague. She was born in Bavaria, not more than a day's ride from
Marienbad. You could almost see her country from the top of the
Podhornberg, in the direction of the Franconian Mountains, not far from
Bayreuth. The place was called Schnabelwaid, and it was very high, very
windy. Since her tenth year she had been singing--yes, even in the
chorus at the Vienna opera, with her sister and brother. They were no
common yodlers. They could sing all the music of the day. The yodling
was part of their business, as was the costume. Later, when she had
enough saved, she would study in Vienna for grand opera!

He was enraptured. How romantic it all was! A free-born maiden--he was
certain she was reared in some old castle--wandering about earning money
for her musical education. What a picture for a painter! What a story
for a novelist! They were interrupted. The dancer, a young man with a
heavy shock of hair growing low on his forehead, under which twinkled
beady black eyes, had been sent to tell Fräulein Röselein that her
colleagues were waiting for her. With a courtesy she went away. Krayne
now thoroughly hated the dancer.

It was long after eleven when the concert was over and the party started
on its homeward trip. Krayne and Röselein walked behind the others, and
soon the darkness and the narrowness of the road forced him to tread
after the girl. The moon's rays at intervals pierced the foliage,
making lacelike patches of light in the gloom. At times they skirted the
edges of a circular clearing and saw the high pines fringing the
southern horizon; overhead the heavens were almost black, except where
great streams of stars swept in irregular bands. It was a glorious
sight, Krayne told Röselein--too sublime to be distracted by mere mortal
love-making, he mentally added. Nevertheless he was glad when they were
again in the woods; he could barely distinguish the girl ahead of him,
but her outline made his heart beat faster. Once, as they neared the
town, he helped her down a declivity into the roadway, and he could not
help squeezing her hand. The pressure was returned. He boldly placed her
arm within his, and they at last reached the streets, but not before,
panting with mingled fright and emotion, he solemnly kissed her. She did
not appear surprised.

"Call me Rösie--thou!" she murmured, and her naïveté brought the ready
tears to his eyes. They made a rendezvous for the next morning on the
Promenade Platz. The only thing he did not like was the scowling face of
the dancer when he said good night to the others under the electric
lights of the Kreuzbrunnen. He was correct, then, in his premonition.

That night Hugh Krayne dreamed he was a very skeleton for thinness--not
an unusual vision of fat men--and also a Tyrolean yodler, displaying
himself before a huge audience of gigantic human beings, who laughed so
loudly that he could not open his lips to frame the familiar words of
his song. In the despair of a frantic nightmare, his face streaming with
anguished tears, he forced his voice:--

_La, la, liriti! La, la, larita! Hallali!_ Then he awoke in triumph. Was
he not a yodler?


III

He told her of his dream and strange ambition. She did not discourage
him. It could be settled easily enough. Why not join the company and
take a few lessons? "With such a teacher?" he had exclaimed, and his
gesture was so impassioned that the promenaders, with their shining
morning goblets of water, were arrested by the spectacle. Wonderful,
wonderful Marienbad! was the general comment! But Krayne was past
ridicule. He already saw Röselein his bride. He saw himself a yodler.
The cure? Ay, there was the rub. He laid bare his heart. She aided him
with her cool advice. She was very sensible. Her brother-in-law and her
sister would welcome him in their household, for he was a lover of music
and his intentions were honourable. Of course, he sighed, of course, and
fingered his red tie. Why not, she argued, remain at Marienbad for three
weeks more and complete his cure? Anyhow, he was not so stout! She
looked up at him archly. Again he saw mist.

That settled it. For another three weeks he lived in a cloud of
expectation, of severe training, long walks, dieting, and Turkish baths.
No man worked harder. And he was rewarded by seeing his flesh melt away
a pound or two daily. When the company returned after its itinerary in
the neighbourhood Rösie was surprised to meet a man who did not weigh
much over two hundred pounds, healthy, vigorous, and at least five years
younger in appearance. She was very much touched. So was her sister.
There was a family consultation, and despite the surly opposition of the
dancer, Hugh Krayne was welcomed as a member of the Präger Bavarian
Sextette company. Forgetting the future he had arranged for Rösie, he
began his vocal lessons immediately.

In July he sang for the first time in public at Eger. He was extremely
frightened, but as it was only a duo he managed fairly well. Then he
sang at Tepl, this time alone. His voice broke badly in the yodel and he
was jeered by a rude audience. He had grown very much thinner. His
doctor warned him against continuing the waters, and advised rice,
potatoes, and ale, but he did not listen. He now paid the bills of the
company while travelling. Rösie had confessed with tears that they were
fearfully poor. From that time he handed her his purse. He even placated
the jealous dancer with a gold watch and a box of hair pomade. Ah! how
he loathed the fellow's curly locks, his greasy familiarities! Rösie
told him this acrobat was necessary in the company until he could be
replaced. Already Hugh--she called him "Ü"--could yodel better. Some day
he might, when thinner, dance better. Perhaps--again that appealing
glance, the corner of her lips faintly touched by the mysterious smile
of a Monna Lisa. Krayne redoubled his arduous training, practised
yodling in the forests, danced jigs on the pine-needles, and doubled his
allowance of the waters.

They went to Carlsbad. He yodled. He was applauded. The dancer was in a
fine rage. Although Krayne had asked Rösie to buy a first-class
compartment on the railroad trip over and back, they went in a
third-class car. Präger declared that it was good enough for him, and he
didn't wish to spoil his troupe! His wife now held the purse-strings, as
Rösie was too engrossed with her art and Hugh too absorbed in his love
to notice such mere sublunary matters. The girl had promised nothing
positive for the future. She kept him on the brittle edge of nervous
expectation. The opposition of the dancer had been successfully met by
threats of dismissal; Hugh continued to lose flesh and gain in vocal and
pedal agility.

He danced for the first time at Königswart, not far from the château of
the Metternichs. It was August. So great was the applause that the
younger dancer was discharged. He left with muttered threats of
vengeance. The next day Krayne turned over all his business affairs to
the able hand of Frau Präger; he lived only for Rösie and his art....

September was at hand. The weather was so warm and clear, that the king
of England deferred his departure for a few days. One afternoon, just
before the leaves began to brown on the hills, there was a concert at
the garden of the Hotel Bellevue. The royal party attended. The yodling
was much praised, especially that of a good-looking young woman and her
escort, a very tall man of cadaverous aspect, his shanks like the wooden
stilts of the shepherds on the Bordeaux Landes. His face,
preternaturally emaciated and fatigued, opened to emit an amazing yodel.
When the _Schuhplattltanz_ was reached he surprised the audience by an
extraordinary exhibition. He threw his long legs about like billiard
cues, while his arms flapped as do windmills in a hard gale. He was
pointed out as a celebrity--once a monster Englishman, who had taken the
_Kur_; who was in love, but so poor that he could not marry. The girl
with him was certain to make a success in grand opera some day. Yes,
Marienbad was proud of Krayne. He was one of her show sons, a witness to
her curative powers. Proud also of the Bavarian Präger Sextette. Herr
Präger was reputed a rich man....

The night of that concert Marienbad saw the last of the Bavarian
sextette, which at midnight, joined by its old dancer with the tenor
voice, left in a third-class carriage for Vienna. Hugh Krayne, not
possessing enough to pay his passage, had not been invited; nor was he
informed of the sudden departure until a day later....

       *       *       *       *       *

On the road to the Alm, of moonlight nights, toiling visitors catch
glimpses of a human, almost a skeleton, dressed in rags, his head bare
as his feet, about his neck a flaming crimson handkerchief. He is known
to Marienbäders as "The Man Who Stayed Too Long." He never addresses
passers-by; but as they lose sight of him they hear the woods resound
with his elegiac howl:--

_La la liriti! La la lirita! Hallali!_



X

THE THIRD KINGDOM


I

A DOUBTER

Brother Hyzlo sat in his cell and read. The gentle stillness of a rare
spring morning enveloped him with its benison. And the clear light fell
upon the large pages of a book in his hand,--the window through which it
streamed was the one link between the young recluse and the life of the
world. From it he could see the roofs of the city beneath him; when he
so wished, he might, without straining his gaze, distinguish the
Pantheon at the end of that triumphal avenue which spanned the Seine and
had once evoked for him visions of antique splendour. But Brother Hyzlo
no longer cared for mundane delights. His doubting soul was the
battle-field over which he ranged day and night searching for diabolic
opponents. Exterior existence had become for him a shadow; the only life
worth living was that of the spirit.

In his book that fresh spring morning he read as if in the flare of a
passing meteor these disquieting words:--

"How were it if, some day or night, a demon stole after thee into thy
most solitary solitude, and said to thee: 'This life, as thou livest it
now, and hast lived it, thou shalt have to live over again, and not once
but innumerable times; and there will be nothing new in it, but every
pain and every pleasure and every thought and sigh, and everything in
thy life, the great and the unspeakably petty alike, must come again to
thee, and all in the same series and succession; this spider, too, and
this moonlight betwixt the trees and this moment likewise and I myself.
The eternal sand-glass of time is always turned again, and thou with it,
thou atom of dust'? Wouldst thou not cast thyself down and with gnashing
of teeth curse the demon who thus spoke? Or, hast thou ever experienced
the tremendous moment in which thou wouldst answer him: 'Thou art a god
and never heard I anything more divine'?"

The book slipped from his hands. "Why not?" he murmured, "why not? There
is no such thing as chance. The law of probabilities is not a mere
fancy, but an austere need. Matter is ever in evolution. Energy alone is
indestructible. Radium has revealed this to us. In eternity when the
Infinite throws the dice, double-sixes are sure to come up more than
once. Miracles? But why miraculous? Infinity of necessity must repeat
itself, and then I, sitting here now, will sit here again, sit and doubt
the goodness of God, ay, doubt His existence.... How horrible!" He
paused in the whirl of his thoughts.

"Yet how beautiful, for if the eternal recurrence be truth, then must
the great drama of the Redemption be repeated. Then will our foes be
convinced of Christianity and its reality. But shall we be conscious in
that far-off time of our anterior existence? Ah! hideous, coiling doubt.
What a demon is this Nietzsche to set whirring in the brains of poor,
suffering humanity such torturing questions! Better, far better for the
world to live and not to think. Thought is a disease, a morbid secretion
of the brain-cells. Ah! materialist that I am, I can no longer think
without remembering the ideas of Cabanis, that gross atheist. Why am I
punished so? What crimes have I committed in a previous
existence--Karma, again!--that I must perforce study the writings of
impious men? Yet I submitted myself as a candidate for the task, to save
my brethren in Christ from soiling their hearts. Heaven preserve me from
the blight of spiritual pride, but I believe that I am now a scapegoat
for the offences of my fellow-monks, and, thus, may redeem my own
wretched soul. Ah! Nietzsche--Antichrist."

He arose and threw the volume across his cell. Then going to the window
regarded with humid gaze the world that sprawled below him in the
voluptuous sunshine. But so sternly was the inner eye fixed on the
things of the spirit that he soon turned away from the delectable
picture, and as he did so his glance rested upon a crucifix. He started,
his perturbed imagination again touched.

"What if Nietzsche were right? The first Christian, the only Christian,
died on the cross, he has said. What an arraignment of our precious
faith, Jesus Christ, our Lord God! What sweet names are Thine! How could
Nietzsche not feel the music of that Hebrew-Greek combination? Perhaps
he did; perhaps he masked a profound love behind his hatred. Jesus our
Lord! Hebrew-Greek. But why Greek? Why ...?" Another pause in this
sequestered chamber where the buzzing of an insect could assume a
thunderous roar. "The eternal return. Why should Christ return? Must the
earth be saved again and again and a billion times again? Awful thought
of a God descending to a horrible death to cleanse the nameless myriads
from sins which they seek ever as flies treacle. More ghastly still is
the thought that the atheist Scandinavian put into the mouth of his
Julian the Apostate: When our Christ is not saving this earth from
eternal damnation then he may be visiting remote planets or inaccessible
stars, where coloured double suns of blinding brilliancy revolve
terrifically in twin harness. There, too, are souls to be rescued. What
a grand idea! It is Ibsen's, as is the interpretation of the Third
Kingdom. It should have been Nietzsche's. Why this antinomianism? Why
this eternal conflict of evil and good, of night and day, of sweet and
sour, of God and devil, of Ormuzd and Ahriman?"

The exotic names transposed his thoughts to another avenue. If Christ is
to come again, and the holy word explicitly states that He will, why not
Buddha? Why not Brahma? Why not ...? Again a hiatus. This time something
snapped in his head. He sank back in his chair. Buddha! Was there ever a
Buddha? And if there was not, was there ever such a personality as
Christ's? Scholar that he was he knew that myth-building was a pastime
for the Asiatic imagination, great, impure, mysterious Asia--Asia the
mother of all religions, the cradle of the human race. To deny the
objective existence of Christ would set at rest all his doubts, one
overwhelming doubt swallowing the minor doubts. He had never speculated
at length upon the Christ legend, for did not Renan, yes, that silky
heretic, believe in the personality of Jesus, believe and lovingly
portray it? The Nietzsche doctrine of the eternal recurrence had so
worked upon his sensitive mental apparatus that he could have almost
denied the existence of Christ rather than deny that our universe
repeats itself infinitely. Eternity is a wheel, earthly events are the
spokes of this whirring wheel. It was the seeming waste of divine
material that shocked his nerves. One crucifixion--yes; but two or two
quintillions and infinitely more!

Brother Hyzlo stared at the crucifix. Was it only a symbol, as some
learned blasphemers averred? The human figure so painfully extended
upon it was a God, a God who descended from high heaven to become a
shield between the wrath of His Father and humanity. Why? Why should the
God who created us grow angry with our shortcomings? We are His
handiwork. Are we then to blame for our imperfections? Is not Jesus,
instead of a mediator, rather a votive offering to the wounded vanity of
the great Jehovah? Was not Prometheus--a light broke in upon Hyzlo.
Prometheus, a myth, Buddha a myth. All myths. There were other
virgin-born saviours. Krishna, Mithra, Buddha. Vishnu had not one but
nine incarnations. Christianity bears alarming resemblances to
Mithraism. Mithra, too, was born in a cave. The dates of Christ's birth
and death may be astronomical: the winter and vernal equinoxes. But the
conflict of the authorities regarding these dates is mortifying. The
four gospels are in reality four witnesses warring against each other.
They were selected haphazard at a human council. They were not composed
until the latter part of the second century, and the synoptic gospels
are compilations from unknown writers, while the fourth gospel is a much
later work. And how colourless, imitative, is the New when compared to
the Old Testament,--echoing with the antiphonal thunders of Jehovah and
his stern-mouthed Prophets! The passage in Josephus touching on Christ
is now known to have been interpolated. Authentic history does not
record the existence of Christ. Not one of His contemporaries mentions
him. That tremendous drama in Galilee was not even commented upon by the
Romans, a nation keen to notice any deviation from normal history. The
Jewish records are doubtful, written centuries after His supposed death.
And they are malicious. What cannot happen in two centuries? Hyzlo
reflected sadly upon Moslemism, upon Mormonism, upon the vagaries of a
strange American sect at whose head was said to be a female pope.

The similarity of circumstances in the lives of Buddha and Christ also
annoyed him. Both were born of virgins, both renounced the world, both
were saviours. There were the same temptations, the same happenings;
prophecies, miracles, celestial rejoicings, a false disciple, the seven
beatitudes--a reflection of the Oriental wisdom--an expiatory death and
resurrection. The entire machinery of the Christian church, its saints,
martyrs, festivals, ritual, and philosophies are borrowed from the
mythologies of the pagans. Sun-worship is the beginning of all
religions. To the genius of the epileptic Paul, or Saul,--founders of
religions are always epilepts,--a half Greek and disciple of the
Pharisee Gamaliel, who saw visions and put to the sword his enemies, to
Paul, called a saint, a man of overwhelming personal force, to this
cruel anarchist, relentless, half-mad fanatic and his theological
doctrines we owe the preservation and power of the Christian Church. At
first the Christians were the miserable offscourings of society, slaves,
criminals, and lunatics. They burrowed in the Catacombs, they fastened
themselves upon a decaying and magnificent civilization like the
parasites they were. A series of political catastrophes, a popular
uprising against the rotten emperors of decadent Rome, and the wide
growth of the socialist idea--these things and an unscrupulous man,
Constantine the Great, put the Christians firmly in the saddle. And soon
came cataracts of blood. If the tales of the imperial persecutions are
true, then hath Christianity been revenged a million fold; where her
skirt has trailed there has been the cruel stain of slaughter. It must
not be forgotten, too, that immorality of the grossest sort was promised
the deluded sectarians, compared with which the Mahometan paradise is
spiritual. And the end of the world was predicted at the end of every
century, and finally relegated to the millennial celebration of
Christianity's birth. When, in 1000 A.D., this catastrophe did
not occur, the faith received its first great shock.

He summoned to his memory a cloud of witnesses, all contradictory.
Josephus was barred. Philo Judæus, who was living near the centre of
things, an observer on the scent of the spiritual, a man acquainted with
the writings of Rabbi Hillel, and the father of Neoplatonism--never
mentions Jesus, nor does he speak of any religious uprising in Judea.
The passage in Virgil, which has through the doubtful testimony of
monkish writers been construed into a prophecy of a forthcoming Messiah,
Hyzlo, who was a scholar, knew to have been addressed to a son of
Virgil's intimate friend. Tacitus, too, has been interpolated. Seneca's
ideal man is not Jesus, for Jesus is Osiris, Horus, Krishna, Mithra,
Hercules, Adonis,--think of this beautiful young god's death!--Buddha.
Such a mock trial and death could not have taken place under the Roman
or Jewish laws. The sacraments derive from the Greeks, from the
Indians--the mysteries of Ceres and Bacchus, from the _Haoma_ sacrifice
of the Persians, originally Brahmanic. The Trinity, was it not a relic
of that ineradicable desire for polytheism implanted in the human bosom?
Was the crucifixion but a memory of those darker cults and blood
sacrifices of Asia, and also of the expiating goats sent out into the
wilderness? What became of that Hosanna-shouting crowd which welcomed
Christ on Palm Sunday? And there never were such places as Gethsemane
and Calvary. Alas! the Son of Man had indeed no spot to lay his head.
And why had He made no sign when on earth! Brother Hyzlo wept bitter
tears.

But he wiped them away as he considered the similarity of the massacre
of the Innocents in Judea and the massacre of the male children ordered
by the wicked Indian Rajah of Madura, who feared the Krishna, just
conceived by divine agency. Yes, the chronicles were full of these gods
born of virgins, of crucifixions,--he could remember sixteen,--of these
solar myths. He caught tripping in a thousand cases the translations of
our holy books. The Ox and Ass legend at the Nativity he realized was
the Pseudo-Matthew's description to Habakkuk of the literal presence:
"In the midst of two animals thou shalt be known;" which is a
mistranslated Hebrew text in the Prayer ascribed to Habakkuk. It got
into the Greek Septuagint version of the Prophet made by Egyptian Jews
before 150 B.C. It should read, "in the midst of the years,"
not "animals." "Ah!" cried Hyzlo, "in this as in important cardinal
doctrines have the faithful been the slaves of the learned and
unscrupulous pious forgers. Even the notorious Apollonius of Tyana
imitated the miracles of Christ--all of them. And what of that wicked
wizard, Simon Magus?"

The very repetition of these miracles in all races, at all epochs,
pointed to the doctrine of recurrence. But back of all the negations,
back of the inexpugnable proof that no such man or God as Christ
existed, or was known to his contemporaries, Jewish and Roman, there
must have been some legend which had crystallized into a mighty
religion. Was He an agitator who preferred His obscurity that His glory
might be all the greater? There _must_ have been a beginning to the
myth; behind the gospels--though they are obviously imitated from the
older testaments, imitated and diluted--were unknown writings; previous
to these there was word of mouth and--and ...?

The day had advanced, the sun was very warm. A shaft of light fell upon
the cold stone floor, and in its fiery particles darted myriads of
motes. Hyzlo followed their spiral flights, thinking all the while of
humanity which flashes from out the dark void, plays madly in the light,
only to vanish into the unknown night. His gaze was held by the
smoothness of the flagging at his feet. Then it became transformed into
marble, the walls of his cell widened, and he closed his eyes, so
blinding were the long ladders of light....


II

TWO DREAMERS

He opened them ... the harbour with its army of galleys and pleasure
craft lay in the burning sunshine, its surface a sapphire blue. Overhead
the sky echoed this tone, which modulated into deeper notes of purple on
the far-away hills whose tops were wreathed in mist. Under his sandalled
feet was marble, back of him were the gleaming spires and towers of the
great city, and at his left was a mountain of shining marble, the
Pharos.

"Alexandria?" he called out as he was jostled by a melon-seller, and
startled by the fluted invitations of a young girl--an antique statue
come to life.

"Of course it is Alexandria," replied a deep, harsh voice at his elbow.
He turned. It was his friend Philo.

"You have at last emerged from your day-dream, Hyzlo! I thought, as our
bark clove the water, that you were enjoying visions." And it seemed to
Hyzlo that he had just awakened from a bizarre dream of a monastic cell,
to more beautiful sights and shapes and sounds. The pair now traversed
the quay, past the signal masts, the fortified towers, pushing through
the throng of sailors, courtesans, philosophers, fruitsellers, soldiers,
beggars, and idle rich toward the spacious city. Past the palace to the
wall of the Canal, along the banks of the Royal Port, they finally
struck into a broad, deserted avenue. At its head was a garden wall.
Philo introduced himself and his companion through a low door and
presently they were both in an apartment full of parchments, glittering
brass and gold instruments all reposing on a wide, long table.

"Hyzlo," said the Jewish philosopher, in his slightly accented Greek, "I
have long promised you that I would reveal to you my secret, my life
work. I am downcast by sadness. Rome is full of warring cults, Greek,
African, Babylonian, Buddhistic; the writings of the great teachers, the
masters, Heraclitus, Zeno, Anaxagoras, Plato, Socrates, Epictetus,
Seneca, are overlaid with heretical emendations. The religion of my
fellow-countrymen is a fiery furnace, Jerusalem a den of warring
thieves. The rulers of earth are weary and turn a deaf ear on their
peoples. The time is ripe for revolt. Sick of the accursed luxury and
debauchery, fearful of the threatening barbarians from Asia and the
boreal regions, who are hemming the civilized world, waiting like
vultures for the first sign of weakness to destroy everything, the
slaves in revolt--all these impending terrors assure me that the end of
the old order is at hand. But what will become of the new if there is no
central belief to steady the ensanguined hands of furious mobs? For
years I have bethought me of a drama, a gigantic world-drama which shall
embody all the myths of mankind, all the noblest thoughts of the
philosophers. I shall take the Buddha myth, surely the supreme myth, and
transpose its characters to Jerusalem. A humble Jew shall be _my_
Buddha. He shall be my revenge on our conquerors; for my people have
been trampled upon by the insolent Romans, and who knows--a Jewish God,
a crucified God, may be worshipped in the stead of Jupiter and his vile
pantheon of gods and goddesses! _One_ God, the son of Jahveh who comes
upon earth to save mankind, is crucified and killed, is resurrected and
like Elijah is caught up to heaven in a fiery chariot. But you know the
usual style of these Asiatic legends! They are all alike; a virgin
birth, a miraculous life, and transfiguration. That sums up myths from
Adonis to Krishna, from Krishna to Buddha; though Monotheism comes from
the Hebrews, the Trinity from the Indians, and the _logos_ was
developed by Plato. Where I am original is that I make my hero a
Jew--the Jews are still half-cracked enough to believe in the coming of
a Messiah. And to compass a fine dramatic moment I have introduced an
incident I once witnessed in Alexandria at the landing of King Agrippa,
when the populace dressed up a vagabond named Karabas as a mock king and
stuck upon his head papyrus leaves for a crown, in his hand a reed for a
sceptre, and then saluted him as king. I shall make my Jew-God seized by
the Jews, his own blood and kin, given over to the Romans, mocked,
reviled, and set aside for some thief who shall be called Karabas. Then,
rejected, he shall be crucified, he a god born of a virgin, by the very
people who are looking for their Messiah. He is their Messiah; yet they
know it not. They shall never know it. That shall be their tragedy, the
tragedy of my race, which, notwithstanding the prophecies, turned its
back upon the Messiah because he came not clothed in the purple of
royalty. Is that not a magnificent idea for a drama?"

"Excellent," answered Hyzlo, in a critical tone; "but continue!"

"You seem without enthusiasm, Hyzlo. I tell you that Æschylus,
Sophocles, or Euripides never conceived a story more infinitely dramatic
or pathetic, or--thanks to my Hebraic blood--so suffused with tragic
irony. I shall make a very effective tableau at the death; on some
forbidding stony hill near Jerusalem I shall plant my crucified hero,
and near him a converted courtesan--ah! what a master of the theatre I
am!--in company with a handful of faithful disciples. The others have
run away to save their cowardly skins in the tumult. The mobs that
hailed him as King of the Jews now taunt him, after the manner of all
mobs. His early life I shall borrow outright from the Buddha legends. He
shall be born of a virgin; he shall live in the desert; as a child he
shall confute learned doctors in the temple; and later in the desert he
shall be tempted by a demon. All this is at hand. My chief point is the
philosophies in which I shall submerge my characters.

"My hero shall be the _logos_ of Heraclitus with the superadded
authority of the Hebrew high priest. You may recall the fact that I
greatly admire the Essenes and their system. My deity is a pure essence;
not Jehovah the protector or avenger. The _logos_, or mediator, I have
borrowed from the writings of the Greek philosophers. This _logos_
returns to the bosom of God after the sacrifice. Greek philosophy
combined with Hebraic moral principles! Ah! it is grand synthesis;
Seneca with his conception of a perfected humanity, Lucretius,
Manlius--who called, rightfully too, Epicurus a god--and Heraclitus with
the first idea of a _logos_: all these ancient ideas I have worked into
my romantic play, including the old cult of the Trinities; the
Buddhistic: Buddha, Dharma, and Saingha; the Chinese: Heaven, Earth,
and Emperor; the Babylonian: Ea, the father, Marduk, the son, and the
Fire God, Gibil, who is also the Paraclete. So my philosophy is merely a
continuation and modification of that taught by Heraclitus and Plato,
but with a Jewish background--for _mine_ is the only moral nation. The
wisdom of the Rabbis, their Monotheism and ethics, are all there." His
eyes were ablaze.

"You are very erudite, Philo Judæus!" exclaimed his listener; "but, tell
me, is there no actual foundation for your Jewish god?" Hyzlo eagerly
awaited a reply, though he could not account for this curiosity.

"Yes," answered Philo, lightly, "there is, I freely acknowledge, a
slight foundation. Some years ago in Jerusalem they arrested a
poverty-stricken fanatic, the son of a Jewess. His father was said to
have been an indigent and aged carpenter. This Joshua, or Ieshua, was
driven out of Jerusalem, and he took refuge among a lot of poor
fishermen on Lake Gennesareth. There he joined a sect called the
Baptists, because their founder, a socialist named Ioakanaan, poured
water on the heads of the converted. Ieshua never married and was
suspected of idolatrous practices, which he had absorbed from hermits of
the Egyptian Thebaïd. Josephus, a wise friend and companion of my youth,
wrote me these details. He said that Ieshua disappeared after his mad
attempt to take Jerusalem by storm, riding--as is depicted the Bona
Dea--on the back of a humble animal. Yet, if you wish to appeal to the
common folk, make your hero a deposed king or divinity, who walks
familiarly among the poor, as walked the gods at the dawn of time with
the daughters of men. I depict my protagonist as a half-cracked Jew. I
call him Iesus Christos--after Krishna; and this poor man's god proposes
to redeem the world, to place the lowly in the seats of the mighty--he
is an Anarchos, as they would say in Athens. He promises the Kingdom of
God to those who follow him; but only a few do. He is the friend of
outcasts, prostitutes, criminals. And though he does not triumph on
earth, nevertheless he is the spiritual ruler of earth; he is the Son of
the Trinity which comprises the Father and Holy Ghost. The contending
forces to my hero will be incarnated by Pontius Pilatus, the Roman
governor, and Judas of Kerioth, a very dangerous and powerful Hebrew
politician--a man of very liberal ideas, one who believed in the
supremacy of the West. What a glorious play it will make! I have named
it The Third Kingdom, Hyzlo. What a glorious idea it is, Hyzlo--the
greatest drama the world has ever witnessed!"


III

THE DOVE

"The greatest drama the world has ever witnessed" ... mumbled his
disciple.... The sun still shone on the cold stone flagging, and upon
the wall facing him hung the crucifix. But the motes no longer danced
merrily in the light. Evening was setting in apace, and Hyzlo, accepting
one dream as equal in veracity with the other, crossed to the embrasure
and, his elbows on the sill, watched the sun--looking like a
sulphur-coloured cymbal--sink behind the sky-line. He was still in the
same attitude when the blue of the heavens--ah! but not that gorgeous,
hard Alexandrian blue--melted into peacock and cool saffron hues. He
mused aloud:--

"By the very nature of his mental organs man can never grasp reality. It
is always the sensation, never the real thing, he feels. The
metaphysicians are right. We can never know the actual world outside of
ourselves. We are imprisoned in a dream cage; the globe itself is a cage
of echoes. Science, instead of contradicting religion, has but affirmed
its truths. Matter is radiant energy--matter is electric phenomenon. The
germ-plasma from which we stem--the red clay of Genesis--is eternal. The
individual is sacrificed to the species. The species never dies. And how
beautifully logical is the order of our ancestry as demonstrated by the
science of embryology. Fish, batrachians, reptiles, mammals; in which
latter are included the marsupials as well as lemurs, primates, Man. And
after what struggles Man assumed an erect position and looked into the
eyes of his mate! After Man? Nietzsche preaches that man is a link
between the primate and Superman; Superman--the angels! But intelligence
in man may be an accident caused by over-nutrition, the brain developing
from rich phosphors. If this were so--how would fall to earth our house
of pride! Are we so close to the animal? But Quinton proves that _after_
man in the zoölogical series comes the bird. Birds--half reptiles, half
angels. Angels! Do evolution and revelation meet here on common ground?
Or was Joachim, the Abbot of Flores, inspired when he wrote of the Third
Kingdom, that Kingdom in which the empire of the flesh is swallowed up
in the empire of the spirit; that Third Kingdom in which the
twin-natured shall reign, as Ibsen declares; the Messiah--neither
Emperor nor Redeemer, but the Emperor-God. The slime shall become sap
and the sap become spirit! From gorilla to God! Man in the coming Third
Kingdom may say: "I, too, am a god." But is this not blasphemous? And
after the wheel of the universe has again revolved, will I see, as
foresaw Nietzsche, the selfsame spider, the same moonlight? There is
nothing new under the sun, says Ecclesiastes. Wretched man is never to
know the entire truth but will be always at daggers drawn with his
destiny. After classic Paganism came romantic Christianity; after the
romantic will the pendulum swing back--or--alas! is there coming another
horde of atheists with a new Attila at their head?"

He threw himself before the crucifix and sobbed.

"Lord Jesus, Our Christ! Thou art the real Christ and not the fiction of
that supersubtle Greek-Jewish and boastful philosopher in Alexandria!
Make for me, O God, a sign! Give me back in all its purity my faith;
faith, noblest gift of all! Oh! to hear once more the thrilling of the
harps divine, whereon the dawn plays, those precursors of the Eternal
Harmony! _Gloria in Excelsis_." He remained prostrate, his heart no
longer battered by doubts and swimming in blissful love for his
crucified God. The celestial hurricane subsided in his bosom; he arose
and again interrogated the heavens. The stars in the profound splendours
of the sky stared at him like the naked eyes of _houris_. Suddenly a
vast white cloud sailed over the edge of the horizon and as it
approached his habitation assumed the shape of a monstrous dove, its
fleecy wings moving in solemn rhythms. In the resurgence of his hopes
this apparition was the coveted sign from the Almighty.

And flat upon the floor of his cell, his face abased in the dust, Hyzlo
worshipped in epileptic frenzy, crying aloud, after the manner of the
sad-tongued Preacher:--

"The thing that hath been, it _is_ that which shall be!"



XI

THE HAUNTED HARPSICHORD

[In the Style of Mock-Mediæval Fiction]


I told Michael to look sharply to his horse. It was dusk; a few bits of
torn clouds, unresolved modulations of nebulous lace, trembled over the
pink pit in the west, wherein had sunk the sun; and one evening star,
silver pointed, told the tale of another spent day.

Michael was surly, I was impatient, and the groom, who lagged in the
rear, whistled softly; but I knew that both men were tired and hungry,
and so were the horses. The road, hard and free from dust, echoed the
resilient hoof-falls of our beasts. The early evening was finely cool,
for it was the month of September. We had lost our way. Green fields on
either side, and before us the path declined down a steep slope, that
lost itself in huddled foliage.

Michael spoke up:--

"We are astray. I knew this damnable excursion would lead to no good."

I gently chided him. "Pooh, you braggart! Even Arnold, who rides a brute
a world too wide for him, has not uttered a complaint. Brave Michael, if
her ladyship heard you now!"

His face grew hard as he muttered:--

"Her ladyship! may all the saints in the calendar watch over her
ladyship! But I wish she had never taken you at your hot-headed word.
Then we would not have launched upon this madcap adventure."

I grew stern. "Her ladyship, I bid you remember, my worthy man, is our
mistress, and it ill behooves you to question her commands, especially
in the presence of a groom."

Michael growled, and then the sudden turn in the road startled our
horses on a gallop, and for a quarter of an hour we thrashed our way
ahead in the twilight. We had entered a small thicket when an
ejaculation from Arnold--who had been riding abreast--brought us all up
to a sharp standstill.

"There's a light," said the groom, in a most tranquil manner, pointing
his heavy crop stick to the left. How we had missed seeing the inn from
the crest of the hill was strange. A hundred yards away stood a low,
red-tiled house, with lights burning downstairs, and an unmistakable air
of hostlery for man and beast. We veered at once in our course, and in a
few minutes were hallooing for the host or the hostler.

"Now I hope that you are satisfied, my friend," I said exultantly to
Michael, who only grunted as he swung off his animal. Arnold followed,
and soon we were chatting with an amiable old man in a white cap and
apron, who had run out of the house when we shouted.

"Amboise?" he answered me when I told him of our destination. "Amboise;
why, sirrah, you are a good five leagues from Amboise! Step within and
remain here for the night. I have plenty of convenience for you and your
suite."

I glanced at Michael, but he was busily employed in loosening his
pistols from the holster, and Arnold, in company with a lame man, led
the horses to the stable. There was little use in vain regrets. The
_other_ had the start of the half-day, and surely we could go no further
that night. I gritted my teeth as the little fat landlord led us into
the house.

In half an hour we were smoking our pipes before a lively fire--the
night had grown chilly--and enjoying silent recollections of a round of
beef and several bottles of fortifying burgundy.

Our groom had gone to bed, and I soon saw that I could get nothing out
of Michael for the present. He stared moodily into the fire. I noticed
that his pistols were handy. The host came in and asked my permission to
join us. He felt lonely, he explained, for he was a widower, and his
only son was away in the world somewhere. I was very glad to ease myself
with gossip; my heart was not quite at peace with this expedition of
ours. I knew what her ladyship asked of us was much, so much that only a
bold spirit and a thirst for the unknown could pardon the folly of the
chase.

I bade the innkeeper to take a seat at the fire, and soon we fell to
chatting like ladies' maids. He was a Norman and curious as a cat. He
opened his inquiries delicately.

"You have ridden far and fast to-day, my sir. Your horses were all but
done for. Yet there is no cloud of war in the sky and you are too far
from Paris to be honourable envoys. I hope you like our country?"

I dodged his tentative attempt at prying by asking him a question
myself.

"You don't seem to have many guests, good host? Yet do I hardly wonder
at it. You are all but swallowed up in the green and too far from the
main travelled road."

The little man sighed and said in sad accents: "Too true, yet the
Scarlet Dragon was once a thriving place, a fine money-breeding house.
Before my son went away--"

I interrupted him. "Your son, what is he, and where is he now?"

The other became visibly agitated and puffed at his pipe some minutes
before replying.

"Alas! worthy sir," he said at last in a lower key, "my son dare not
return here for reasons I cannot divulge. Indeed, this was no cheerful
house for the boy. He had his ambitions and he left me to pursue them."

"What does he do, this youngster?" interrupted Michael, in his gruffest
tones. The landlord started.

"Indeed, good sir, I could not tell you, for I know not myself."

"Humph!" grunted my sullen companion; but I observed his suspicious
little eyes fixed persistently on the man of the inn.

I turned the talk, which had threatened to languish. The old man did not
relish the questions about his son, and began deploring the poor crops.
At this juncture an indefinable feeling that we were losing time in
stopping at this lonely place came over me. I am not superstitious, but
I swear that I felt ill at ease and confused in my plans.

On bended knee I had sworn to my lady that I would bring back to her the
fugitive unharmed, and I would never return to her empty-handed,
confessing failure. Michael's queer behaviour disconcerted me. From the
outset of the chase he had turned sour and inaccessible, and now he was
so ill-tempered that I feared he would pick a quarrel at the slightest
provocation with our host.

With a strange sinking at the heart I asked about our horses.

"They will be attended to, my sirs; my servant is a good boy. He is
handy, although he can't get about lively, for he was thrown in a turnip
field from our only donkey."

I was in no mood for this sort of chatter and quizzed the fellow as to
our beds.

"We must be off early in the morning; we have important business to
transact at Amboise before the sun sets to-morrow," I testily remarked.

"At Amboise--h'm, h'm! Well, I don't mind telling you that you can reach
Amboise by stroke of noon; and so you have business at Amboise, eh?"

I saw Michael's brow lower at this wheedling little man's question, and
answered rather hastily and imprudently:--

"Yes, business, my good man, important business, as you will see when we
return this road to-morrow night with the prize we are after."

Michael jumped up and cried "Damnation!" and I at once saw my mistake.
The landlord's manner instantly altered. He looked at me triumphantly
and said:--

"Beds, beds! but, my honoured sirs, I have no beds in the house. I
forgot to tell you that no guest has been upstairs in years, for certain
reasons. Indeed, sirs, I am so embarrassed! I should have told you at
once I have only a day trade. My regular customers would not dare to
stop here over night, as the house,"--here a cunning, even sinister,
look spread over the fellow's fat face--"the house bears an evil
reputation."

Michael started and crossed himself, but not I. I suspected some deep
devilry and determined to discover it.

"So ho? Haunted, eh? Well, ghosts and old women's stories shan't make me
budge until dawn. Go fetch more wine and open it here, mine host of the
Scarlet Dragon," I roared. The little man was nonplussed, hesitated a
moment, and then trotted off.

I saw that Michael was at last aroused.

"What diabolical fooling is this? If the place is haunted, I'm off."

"I'm damned if I am," I said quite bravely, and more wine appeared. We
both sat down.

The air had become nipping, and the blaze on the hearth was reassuring.
Besides, the wind was querulous, and I didn't fancy a ride at midnight,
even if my lady's quest were an urgent one.

Michael held his peace as the wine was poured out, and I insisted on the
landlord drinking with us. We finished two bottles, and I sent for more.
I foresaw that sleep was out of the question, and so determined to make
a night of it.

"Touching upon this ghost," I began, when the other bade me in God's
name not to jest. There were some things, he said, not to be broached in
honest Christian company.

"A fig for your scruples!" I cried, emptying my glass; my head was hot
and I felt bold. "A fig, I say, for your bogie-man nonsense! Tell me at
what time doth this phantom choose to show itself." The landlord
shivered and drew his seat closer to the fire.

"Oh, sir, do not jest! What I tell you is no matter for rude laughter.
Begging your pardon for my offer, if you will be patient, I will relate
to you the story, and how my misfortune came from this awful visitant."

Even Michael seemed placated, and after I nodded my head in token of
assent the landlord related to us this story:--

       *       *       *       *       *

Once upon a time, sirs, when the great and good Louis, sixteenth of his
name, was King of France, this domain was the property of the Duke of
Langlois. The duke was proud and rich, and prouder and haughtier was his
duchess, who was born Berri. Ah! they were mighty folk then, before the
Revolution came with its sharp axes to clip off their heads. This inn
was the stable of the château, which stood off yonder in the woods.
Alas! nothing remains of it to-day but a few blackened foundations, for
it was burned to the earth by the red devils in '93. But at the time I
speak of, the château was a big, rich palace, full of gay folk; all the
nobility came there, and the duchess ruled the land.

She was crazy for music, and to such lengths did she go in her madness
that she even invited as her guests celebrated composers and singers.
The duke was old-fashioned and hated those crazy people who lived only
to hum and strum. He would have none of them, and quarrels with his
duchess were of daily occurrence. Indeed, sirs, so bad did it become
that he swore that he would leave the house if Messire Gluck, or Messire
Piccini, or any of the other strolling vagabonds--so the duke called
them--entered his château. And he kept his word, did the duke. The
Chevalier Gluck, a fine, shapely man, was invited down by the duchess
and amused her and her guests by playing his wonderful tunes on the
beautiful harpsichord in the great salon.

The duke would have none of this nonsense and went to Paris, where he
amused himself gambling and throwing gold into his mistresses' laps. The
duchess kept right on, and then the gossips of the neighbourhood began
to wag their busy tongues. The lady of the château was getting very fine
pleasure from the company of the handsome Austrian chevalier. It was
whispered that the Queen Marie Antoinette had looked with favourable
eyes upon the composer, and, furthermore, had lent him certain moneys to
further his schemes for reforming the stage.

Reform, forsooth! all he cared for was the company of the duchess, and
he vowed that he could make better music at the château than up in noisy
Paris. On a fine afternoon it is said that it was no uncommon sight to
see the chevalier, all togged up in his bravest court costume, sword and
all, sitting at his harpsichord, playing ravishing music. This was out
in the pretty little park back of the château, and the duchess would sit
at Gluck's side and pour out champagne for him. All this may have been
idle talk, but at last the duke got wind of the rumours, and one night
he surprised the pair playing a duo at the harpsichord, and stabbed them
both dead.

Since then the château was burned down, but the place has been haunted.
I, myself, good gentlemen, have heard ghostly music, and I swear to
you--

"Oh, my God, listen, listen!"

"What pagan nonsense!" blurted out Michael.

I cautioned silence, and we all listened. The old man had slid off his
chair, and his face was chalky white. Michael's ugly mouth was half
opened in his black beard, and I confess that I felt rather chilly.

Music, faint, tinkling, we certainly heard. It came with the wind in
little sobs, and then silence settled upon us.

"It's the Chevalier Gluck, and he is playing to his duchess out in the
fields. See, I will open the door and show you," whispered the fat
landlord.

He went slowly to the door, and we followed him breathlessly. The door
was pushed open, and we peered out. The wind was still high, and the
moon rode among rolling boulders of yellow, fleecy clouds.

"There, there, over yonder, look; Mother of Christ, look at the ghost!"
the old man pointed a shaking hand.

Just then the moonlight was blackened by a big cloud, and we heard the
tinkling music of a harpsichord again, but could see naught. The sounds
were plainer now, and presently resolved into the rhythmic accents of a
gavotte. But it seemed far away and very plaintive!

"Hark," said Michael, in a hoarse voice. "That's the gavotte from
Pagliacci. Listen! Don't you remember it?"

"Pshaw!" I said roughly, for my nerves were all astir. "It's the Alceste
music of Gluck."

"Look, look, gentlemen!" called our host, and as the moon glowed again
in the blue we saw at the edge of the forest a white figure, saw it, I
swear, although it vanished at once and the music ceased. I started to
follow, but Michael and the old man seized my arms, the door was closed
with a crash, and we found ourselves staring blankly into the fire, all
feeling a bit shaken up.

It was Michael's turn to speak. "You may do what you please, but I stay
here for the night, no sleep for me," and he placed his pistols on his
knee.

I looked at the landlord and I thought I saw an expression of
disappointment on his face, but I was not sure. He made some excuse
about being tired and went out of the room. We spent the rest of the
night in gloomy silence. We did not speak five words, for I saw that
conversation only irritated my companion.

At dawn we walked into the sweet air and I called loudly for Arnold, who
looked sleepy and out of sorts when he appeared. The fat old man came to
see us off and smilingly accepted the silver I put into his hand for our
night's reckoning.

"Au revoir, my old friend," I said as I pressed the unnecessary spur
into my horse's flank. "Au revoir, and look out for the ghost of the
gallant Chevalier Gluck. Tell him, with my compliments, not to play
such latter-day tunes as the gavotte from Pagliacci."

"Oh, I'll tell him, you may be sure," said he, quite dryly.

We saluted and dashed down the road to Amboise, where we hoped to
capture our rare prize.

We had ridden about a mile when a dog attempted to cross our path. We
all but ran the poor brute down.

"Why, it's lame!" exclaimed Arnold.

"Oh, if it were but a lame man, instead of a dog!" fervently said the
groom, who was in the secret of our quest.

A horrid oath rang out on the smoky morning air. Michael, his wicked
eyes bulging fiercely, his thick neck swollen with rage, was cursing
like the army in Flanders, as related by dear old Uncle Toby.

"Lame man! why, oddsbodkins, that hostler was lame! Oh, fooled, by God!
cheated, fooled, swindled and tricked by that scamp and scullion of the
inn! Oh, we've been nicely swindled by an old wives' tale of a ghost!"

I stared in sheer amazement at Michael, wondering if the strangely spent
night had upset his reason. He could only splutter out between his awful
curses:--

"Gluck, the rascal, the ghost, the man we're after! That
harpsichord--the lying knave--that tune--I swear it wasn't Gluck--oh,
the rascal has escaped again! The ghost story--the villain was told to
scare us out of the house--to put us off the track. A thousand devils
chase the scamp!" And Michael let his head drop on the pommel of his
saddle as he fairly groaned in the bitterness of defeat.

I had just begun a dignified rebuke, for Michael's language was
inexcusable, when it flashed upon me that we had been, indeed, duped.

"Ah," I cried, in my fury, "of course we were taken in! Of course his
son was the lame hostler, the very prize we expected to bag! O Lord!
what will we say to my lady? We are precious sharp! I ought to have
known better. That stuff he told us! Langlois, pshaw, Berri--pouf! A
Berri never married a Langlois, and I might have remembered that Gluck
wasn't assassinated by a jealous duke. What shall we do?"

We all stood in the middle of the road, gazing stupidly at the lame dog
that gave us the clue. Then Arnold timidly suggested:--

"Hadn't we better go back to the inn?"

Instantly our horses' heads were turned and we galloped madly back on
our old tracks. Not a word was uttered until we reined up in front of
the lonely house, which looked more haunted by daylight than it did the
night before.

"What did I tell you?" suddenly cried Michael.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Over there, you blind bat!" he said, coarsely and impatiently; and
pulling out his pistol he fired thrice, and a low, melodious sound
followed the reports of his weapon. When the smoke cleared away I saw
that he had hit an old harpsichord which stood against a tree, facing
the house.

"The ghost!" we yelled, and then we laughed consumedly. But the shots
that winged the old-fashioned instrument had a greater result. The fat
host appeared on the edge of the forest, and he waved a large napkin as
a flag of truce. With him was the lame hostler.

"Mercy, gentlemen, mercy, we beseech you!" he cried, and we soon
surrounded both and bound them securely.

"You will pay dearly for the trick you put upon us, my man," said
Michael, grimly, and, walking our horses, we went by easy stages toward
the castle, towing our prisoners along.

When I fetched the lame man to my lady, her face glowed with joy, and
her Parisian eyes grew brilliant with victory.

"So you tried to escape?" she cruelly asked of the poor, cowering
wretch. "You will never get another chance, I'll warrant me. Go, let the
servants put you to work in the large music room first. Begin with the
grands, then follow with the uprights. Thank you, gentlemen both, for
the courage and finesse you displayed in this desperate quest. I'll see
that you are both suitably rewarded." I fancied that Michael regarded
me sardonically, but he held his peace about the night's adventures.

We had indeed reason to feel flattered at the success of the dangerous
expedition. Had we not captured, more by sheer good luck than strategy,
the only piano-tuner in mediæval France?



XII

THE TRAGIC WALL


I

BY THE DARK POOL

It was not so high, the wall, as massive, not so old as moss-covered.
After Rudolph Côt, the painter, had achieved celebrity with his
historical canvas, The Death of the Antique World, now in the Louvre, he
bought the estate of Chalfontaine, which lies at the junction of two
highroads: one leading to Ecouen, the other to Villiers-le-Bel. Almost
touching the end of the park on the Ecouen side there is a little lake,
hardly larger than a pool, and because of its melancholy
aspect--sorrowful willows hem it about, drooping into stagnant
waters--Monsieur Côt had christened the spot: The Dark Tarn of Auber. He
was a fanatical lover of Poe, reading him in the Baudelaire translation,
and openly avowing his preference for the French version of the great
American's tales. That he could speak only five words of English did not
deter his associates from considering him a profound critic of
literature.

After his death his property and invested wealth passed into the hands
of his youthful widow, a charming lady, a native of Burgundy, and--if
gossip did not lie--a former model of the artist; indeed, some went so
far as to assert that her face could be seen in her late husband's
masterpiece--the figure of a young Greek slave attired as a joyous
bacchante. But her friends always denied this. Her dignified bearing,
sincere sorrow for her dead husband, and her motherly solicitude for her
daughter left no doubt as to the value of all petty talk. It was her
custom of summer evenings to walk to the pool, and with her daughter
Berenice she would sit on the broad wall and watch the moon rise, or
acknowledge the respectful salutations of the country folk with their
bran-speckled faces. In those days Villiers-le-Bel was a dull town a
half-hour from Paris on the Northern Railway, and about two miles from
the station.

The widow was not long without offers. Her usual answer was to point out
the tiny Berenice, playing in the garden with her nurse. Then a
landscape painter, one of the Barbizon group, appeared, and, as a former
associate of Rudolph Côt, and a man of means and position, his suit was
successful. To the astonishment of Villiers-le-Bel, Madame Valerie Côt
became Madame Théophile Mineur; on the day of the wedding little
Berenice--named after a particularly uncanny heroine of Poe's by his
relentless French admirer--scratched the long features of her
stepfather. The entire town accepted this as a distressing omen and it
was not deceived; Berenice Côt grew up in the likeness of a determined
young lady whose mother weakly endured her tyranny, whose new father
secretly feared her.

At the age of eighteen she had refused nearly all the young painters
between Ecouen and Domaine de Vallières; and had spent several summers
in England, and four years at a Lausanne school. She feared neither man
nor mouse, and once, when she saw a famous Polish pianist walking on his
terrace at Morges, she took him by the hand, asked for a lock of his
hair, and was not refused by the amiable virtuoso. After that Berenice
was the acknowledged leader of her class. The teachers trembled before
her sparkling, wrathful black eyes. At home she ruled the household, and
as she was an heiress no one dared to contradict her. Her contempt for
her stepfather was only matched by her impatience in the company of
young men. She pretended--so her intimates said--to loathe them.
"Frivolous idiots" was her mildest form of reproof when an ambitious boy
would trench upon her pet art theories or attempt to flirt. She called
her mother "the lamb" and her stepfather "the parrot"--he had a long
curved nose; all together she was very unlike the pattern French girl.
Her favourite lounging place was the wall, and after she had draped it
with a scarlet shawl and perched herself upon it, she was only too
happy to worry any unfortunate man who presented himself.

The night Hubert Falcroft called at Chalfontaine Mademoiselle Élise
Evergonde told him that her cousin, Madame Mineur, and Berenice had gone
in the direction of the pool. He had walked over from the station,
preferring the open air to the stuffy train. So a few vigorous steps
brought to his view mother and daughter as they slowly moved, encircling
each other's waist. The painter paused and noted the general loveliness
of the picture; the setting sun had splashed the blue basin overhead
with delicate pinks, and in the fretted edges of some high floating
cloud-fleece there was a glint of fire. The smooth grass parquet swept
gracefully to the semicircle of dark green trees, against the foliage of
which the virginal white of the gowns was transposed to an ivory tone by
the blue and green keys in sky and forest.

"By Jove!" he exclaimed, "paint in the foreground a few peacocks
languidly dragging their gorgeous tails, and you have a Watteau or a
Fragonard--no, a Monticelli! Only, Monticelli would have made the
peacocks the central motive with the women and trees as an arabesque."

He was a portraitist who solemnly believed in the principle of
decoration--character must take its chances when he painted. Falcroft
was successful with women's heads, which he was fond of depicting in
misty shadows framed by luxurious accessories. They called him the
Master of Chiffon, at Julien's; when he threw overboard his old friends
and joined the new crowd, their indignation was great. His title now was
the Ribbon Impressionist, and at the last salon of the Independents,
Falcroft had the mortification of seeing a battalion of his former
companions at anchor in front of his picture, The Lady with the Cat,
which they reviled for at least an hour. He was an American who had
lived his life long in France, and only showed race in his nervous,
brilliant technic and his fondness for bizarre subjects....

He had not stood many minutes when a young voice saluted him:--

"Ah, Monsieur Falcroft. Come, come quickly. Mamma is delighted to see
you!" His mental picture was decomposed by the repeated waving of the
famous shawl, which only came into view as Berenice turned. Hubert
regretted that she had not worn it--the peacocks could have been
exchanged for its vivid note of scarlet. Pretending not to have heard
her speech, he gravely saluted the mother and daughter. But Berenice was
unabashed.

"Mamma was wondering if you would visit us to-night, Monsieur Falcroft,
when I saw you staring at us as if we were ghosts." A burst of malicious
laughter followed.

"Berenice, Berenice," remonstrated her mother, "when will you cease such
tasteless remarks!" She blushed in her pretty matronly fashion and put
her hand on her daughter's mouth.

"Don't mind her, Madame Mineur! I like to meet a French girl with a
little unconventionality. Berenice reminds me now of an English girl--"

"Or one of your own countrywomen!" interrupted Berenice; "and
please--_Miss_, after this, I am a grown young lady." He joined in the
merriment. She was not to be resisted and he wished--no, he did not
wish--but he thought, that if he were younger, what gay days he might
have. Yet he admired her mother much more. Elaine Côt-Mineur was an
old-fashioned woman, gentle, reserved, and at the age when her beauty
had a rare autumnal quality--the very apex of its perfection; in a few
years, in a year, perhaps, the change would come and crabbed winter set
in. He particularly admired the oval of her face, her soft brown eyes,
and the harmonious contour of her head. He saw her instantly with a
painter's imagination--filmy lace must modulate about her head like a
dreamy aureole; across her figure a scarf of yellow silk; in her hands
he would paint a crystal vase, and in the vase one rose with a heart of
sulphur. And her eyes would gaze as if she saw the symbol of her
age--the days slipping away like ropes of sand from her grasp. He could
make a fascinating portrait he thought, and he said so. Instantly
another peal of irritating laughter came from Berenice:--

"Don't tell papa. He is _so_ jealous of the portrait he tried to make of
mamma last summer. You never saw it! It's awful. It's hid away behind a
lot of canvases in the atelier. It looks like a Cézanne still-life. I'll
show it to you sometime." Her mother revealed annoyance by compressing
her lips. Falcroft said nothing. They had skirted the pool in single
file, for the path was narrow and the denseness of the trees caused a
partial obscurity. When they reached the wall, the moon was rising in
the eastern sky.

"_L'heure exquise_," murmured Madame Mineur. Berenice wandered down the
road and Hubert helped her mother to the wall, where he sat beside her
and looked at her. He was a big, muscular man with shaven cheeks, dark
eyes, and plenty of tumbled hair, in which flecks of gray were showing.
He had been a classmate of Théophile Mineur, for whose talents or
personality he had never betrayed much liking. But one day at a
_déjeûner_, which had prolonged itself until evening, Mineur insisted on
his old friend--the Burgundy was old, too--accompanying him to
Villiers-le-Bel, and not without a motive. He knew Falcroft to be rich,
and he would not be sorry to see his capricious and mischievous
stepdaughter well settled. But Falcroft immediately paid court to Madame
Mineur, and Berenice had to content herself with watching him and making
fun to her stepfather of the American painter's height and gestures.
The visit had been repeated. Berenice was amused by a dinner _en ville_
and a theatre party, and then Hubert Falcroft became a friend of the
household. When Mineur was away painting, the visits were not
interrupted.

"Listen," said Madame Mineur; "I wish to speak with you seriously, my
dear friend." She made a movement as if to place her hand on his
shoulder, but his expression--his face was in the light--caused her to
transfer her plump fingers to her coiffure, which she touched
dexterously. Hubert was disappointed.

"I am listening," he answered; "is it a sermon, or consent--to that
portrait? Come, give in--Elaine." He had never called her by this name
before, and he anxiously awaited the result. But she did not relax her
grave attitude.

"You must know, Monsieur Falcroft, what anxieties we undergo about
Berenice. She is too wild for a French girl, too wild for her age--"

"Oh, let her enjoy her youth," he interrupted.

"Alas! that youth will be soon a thing of the past," she sighed.
"Berenice is past eighteen, and her father and I must consider her
future. Figure to yourself--she dislikes young men, eligible or not, and
you are the only man she tolerates."

"And I am hopelessly ineligible," he laughingly said.

"Why?" asked the mother, quietly.

"Why! Do you know that I am nearing forty? Do you see the pepper and
salt in my hair? After one passes twoscore it is time to think of the
past, not of the future. I am over the brow of the hill; I see the easy
decline of the road--it doesn't seem as long as when I climbed the other
half." He smiled, threw back his strong shoulders, and inhaled a huge
breath of air.

"Truly you are childish," she said; "you are at the best part of your
life, of your career. Yes, Théophile, my husband, who is so chary in his
praise, said that you would go far if you cared." Her low, warm voice,
with its pleading inflections, thrilled him. He took her by the wrist.

"And would it please _you_, if I went far?" She trembled.

"Not too far, dear friend--remember Berenice."

"I remember no one but you," he impatiently answered; and relaxing his
hold, he moved so that the moonlight shone on her face. She was pale. In
her eyes there were fright and hope, decision and delight. He admired
her more than ever.

"Let me paint you, Elaine, these next few weeks. It will be a surprise
for Mineur. And I shall have something to cherish. Never mind about
Berenice. She is a child. I am a middle-aged man. Between us is the
wall--of the years. Never should it be climbed. While you--"

"Be careful--Hubert. Théophile is your friend."

"He is not. I never cared for him. He dragged me out here after he had
been drinking too much, and when I saw you I could not stay away. Hear
me--I insist! Berenice is nice, but the wall is too high for her to
climb; it might prove a--"

"How do you know the wall is too steep for Berenice?" the girl cried as
she scaled the top with apish agility, where, after a few mocking steps
in the moonlight, she sank down breathless beside Hubert, and laughed so
loudly that her mother was fearful of hysteria.

"Berenice! Berenice!" she exclaimed.

"Oh, Berenice is all right, mamma. Master Hubert, I want you to paint my
portrait before papa returns--that's to be in four weeks, isn't it?" The
elder pair regarded her disconcertedly.

"Oh, you needn't look so dismal. I'll not tell tales out of school.
Hubert and mamma flirting! What a glorious jest! Isn't life a jest,
Hubert? Let's make a bargain! If you paint mamma, you paint me, also.
Then--you see--papa will not be jealous, and--and--" She was near tears
her mother felt, and she leaned over Hubert and took the girl's hand.
She grazed the long fingers of the painter, who at once caught both
feminine hands in his.

"Now I have you both," he boasted, and was shocked by a vicious tap on
the cheek--Berenice in rage pulled her left hand free. Silence ensued.
Hubert prudently began to roll another cigarette, and Madame Mineur
retreated out of the moonlight, while Berenice turned her back and soon
began to hum. The artist spoke first:

"See here, you silly Berenice, turn around! I want to talk to you like a
Dutch uncle--as we say in the United States. Of course I'll paint you.
But I begin with your mother. And if you wish me to like you better than
ever, don't say such things as you did. It hurts your--mother." His
voice dropped into its deepest bass. She faced him, and he saw the
glitter of wet eyelashes. She was charming, with her hair in disorder,
her eyes two burning points of fire.

"I beg your pardon, mamma; I beg your pardon, Hubert. I'll be good the
rest of this evening. Isn't it lovely?" She sniffed in the breeze with
dilating nostrils, and the wild look of her set him to wondering how
such a gentle mother could have such a gypsy daughter. Perhaps it was
the father--yes, the old man had been an Apache in his youth according
to the slang of the studios.

"But you must paint me as I wish, not as you will," resumed Berenice. "I
hate conventional portraits. Papa Mineur chills me with his cabinet
pictures of haughty society ladies, their faces as stiff as their
starched gowns."

"Oh, Berenice, will you never say polite things of your father?"

"Never," she defiantly replied. "He wouldn't believe me if I did. No,
Hubert, I want to pose as Ophelia. Oh, don't laugh, please!" They could
not help it, and she leaped to the grass and called out:--

"I don't mean a theatrical Ophelia, singing songs and spilling flowers;
I mean Ophelia drowned--" she threw herself on the sward, her arms
crossed on her bosom, and in the moonlight they could see her eyes
closed as if by death.

"Help me down, Hubert. That girl will go mad some day." He reached the
earth and he gave her a hand. Berenice had arisen. Sulkily she said:--

"Shall I step into the Dark Tarn of Auber and float for you? I'll make a
realistic picture, my Master Painter--who paints without imagination."
And then she darted into the shrubbery and was lost to view. Without
further speech the two regained the path and returned to the house.


II

THE CRIMSON SPLASH

When Éloise was asked by Berenice how long Monsieur Mineur would remain
away on his tour, she did not reply. Rather, she put a question herself:
why this sudden solicitude about the little-loved stepfather. Berenice
jokingly answered that she thought of slipping away to Switzerland for
a _vacance_ on her own account. Éloise, who was not agreeable looking,
viewed her charge suspiciously.

"Young lady, you are too deep for me. But you'll bear watching," she
grimly confessed. Berenice skipped about her teasingly.

"I know something, but I won't tell, unless you tell."

"What is it?"

"Will you tell?"

"Yes."

"When is he coming back, and where is he now?" she insisted.

"Your father, you half-crazy child, expects to return in a month--by the
first of June. And if you wish to wire or write him, let me know."

"Now I won't tell you _my_ secret," and she was off like a gale of wind.
Éloise shook her head and wondered.

In the atelier Hubert painted. Elaine sat on a dais, her hands folded in
her lap; about her head twisted nun's-veiling gave her the old-fashioned
quality of a Cosway miniature--the very effect he had sought. It was to
be a "pretty" affair, this picture, with its subdued lighting, the face
being the only target he aimed at; all the rest, the suave background,
the gauzy draperies, he would brush in--suggest rather than state.

"I'll paint her soul, that sensitive soul of hers which tremulously
peeps out of her eyes," he thought. Elaine was a patient subject. She
took the pose naturally and scarcely breathed during the weary sittings.
He recalled the early gossip and sought to evoke her as a professional
model. But he gave up in despair. She was hopelessly "ladylike," and to
interpret her adequately, only the decorative patterns of earlier
men--Mignard, Van Loo, Nattier, Largillière--would translate her native
delicacy.

For nearly four weeks he had laboured on the face, painting it in with
meticulous touches only to rub it out with savage disgust. To transcribe
those tranquil, liquid eyes, their expression more naïve than her
daughter's--this had proved too difficult a problem for the usually
facile technique of Falcroft. Give him a brilliant virtuoso theme and he
could handle it with some of the sweep and splendour of the early
Carolus Duran or the brutal elegance of the later Boldini. But Madame
Mineur was a pastoral. She did not express nervous gesture. She was
seldom dynamic. To "do" her in dots like the _pointillistes_ or in
touches after the manner of the earlier impressionists would be
ridiculous. Her abiding charm was her repose. She brought to him the
quiet values of an eighteenth-century eclogue--he saw her as a divinely
artificial shepherdess watching an unreal flock, while the haze of
decorative atmosphere would envelop her, with not a vestige of real life
on the canvas. Yet he knew her as a natural, lovable woman, a mother who
had suffered and would suffer because of her love for her only child.
It was a paradox, like many other paradoxes of art.

The daughter--ah! perhaps she might better suit his style. She was
admirable in her madcap carelessness and exotic colouring. Decidedly he
would paint her when this picture was finished--if it ever would be.

Berenice avoided entering the studio during these sittings. She no
longer jested with her mother about the picture, and with Hubert she
preserved such an air of dignity that he fancied he had offended her. He
usually came to Villiers-le-Bel on an early train three or four times a
week and remained at Chalfontaine until ten o'clock. Never but once had
a severe storm forced him to stay overnight. Since the episode on the
wall he had not attempted any further advances. He felt happy in the
company of Elaine, and gazing into her large eyes rested his spirit. It
was true--he no longer played with ease the rôle of a soul-hunter. His
youth had been troubled by many adventures, many foolish ones, and now
he felt a calm in the midway of his life and that desire for domestic
ease which sooner or later overtakes all men. He fancied himself
painting Elaine on just such tranquil summer afternoons under a soft
light. And oh! the joys of long walks, discreet gossip, and dinners at a
well-served table with a few chosen friends. Was he, after all, longing
for the flesh-pots of the philistine--he, Hubert Falcroft, who had
patrolled the boulevards like other sportsmen of midnight!

At last the picture began to glow with that inner light he had so
patiently pursued. Elaine Mineur looked at him from the canvas with
veiled sweetness, a smile almost enigmatic lurking about her lips.
Deepen a few lines and her expression would be one of contented
sleekness. _That_ Hubert had missed by a stroke. It was in her eyes that
her chief glory abided. They were pathetic without resignation, liquid
without humidity, indescribable in colouring and form. Their full cup
and the accents which experience had graven under them were something he
had never dreamed of realizing. It was a Cosway; but a Cosway broadened
and without a hint of genteel namby-pamby or overelaborate finesse.
Hubert was fairly satisfied. Madame Mineur had little to say. During the
sittings she seldom spoke, and if their eyes met, the richness of her
glance was a compensation for her lack of loquacity. Hubert did not
complain. He was in no hurry. To be under the same roof with this
adorable woman was all that he asked.

The day after he had finished his picture, he returned to Chalfontaine
for the midday breakfast. Berenice was absent--in her room with a
headache, her mother explained. The weather was sultry. He questioned
Elaine during the meal. Had Berenice's temper improved? They passed out
to the balcony where their coffee was served, and when he lighted his
cigarette, Madame Mineur begged to be excused. She had promised Cousin
Éloise to pay some calls. He strolled over the lawn, watching the
hummocks of white clouds which piled up in architectural masses across
the southern sky. Then he remembered the portrait and mounted to the
atelier. As he put his hand on the knob of the door he thought he heard
some one weeping. Suddenly the door was pulled from his grasp and
Berenice appeared. Her hair hung on her shoulders. She was in a white
dressing-gown. Her face was red and her eyes swollen. She did not
attempt to move. Affectionately Hubert caught her in his arms and asked
about her headache.

"It is better," she answered in scarcely audible accents.

"Why, you poor child! I hope you are not going to be ill! Have you been
racing in the sun without your hat?"

"No. I haven't been out of doors since yesterday."

"What's the matter, little Berenice? Has some one been cross with her?"
She pushed him from her violently.

"Hubert Falcroft, when you treat me as a woman and not as a child--"

"But I am treating you as a woman," he said. Her dark face became
tragic. She had emerged from girlhood in a few hours. And as he held her
closer some perverse spirit entered into his soul. Her vibrating youth
and beauty forced him to gaze into her blazing eyes until he saw the
pupils contract.

"Let me go!" she panted. "Let me free! I am not a doll. Go to your
portrait and worship it. Let me free!"

"And what if I do not?" Something of her rebellious feeling filled his
veins. He felt younger, stronger, fiercer. He put his arms about her
neck and, after a silent battle, kissed her. Then she pushed by him and
disappeared. He could see nothing, after the shock of the adventure, for
some moments, and the semi-obscurity of the atelier was grateful to his
eyes. A picture stood on the easel, but it was not, he fancied, the
portrait. He went to the centre of the room where hung the cords that
controlled the curtains covering the glass roof. Then in the flood of
light he barely recognized the head of Elaine. It was on the easel, and
with a sharp pain at his heart he saw across the face a big crimson
splash.

       *       *       *       *       *


III

MOON-RAYS

The dewy brightness of tangled blush roses had faded in the vague
twilight; through the aisles of the little wood leading to the pool the
light timidly flickered as Hubert and Elaine walked with the hesitating
steps of perplexed persons. They had not spoken since they left the
house--there in a few hurried words he told her of the accident and
noted with sorrow the look of anguish in her eyes. Without knowing why,
they went in the direction of the wall.

There was no moon when they reached the highroad. It would rise later,
Elaine said in her low, slightly monotonous voice. Hubert was so stunned
by the memory of his ruined picture that he forgot his earlier encounter
with Berenice--that is, in describing it he had failed to minutely
record his behaviour. But in the cool evening air his conscience became
alive and he guiltily wondered whether he dare tell his misconduct--no,
imprudence? Why not? She regarded him as a possible husband for
Berenice--but how embarrassing! He made up his mind to say nothing; when
the morrow came he would write Elaine the truth and bid her good-by. He
could not in honour continue to visit this home where resided the woman
he loved--with a jealous daughter. Why jealous? What a puzzle, and what
an absurd one! He helped Elaine to a seat on the wall and sat near her.
For several minutes neither spoke. They were again facing the pool,
which looked in the dusk like a cracked mirror.

"It is not clear yet to me," murmured Elaine. "That the unfortunate
child has always been more or less morbid and sick-brained, I have been
aware. The world, marriage, and active existence will mend all that, I
hope. I fear she is a little spoilt and selfish. And she doesn't love me
very much. She has inherited all her father's passion for Poe's tales.
My dear friend, she is jealous--that's the only solution of this
shocking act. She disliked the idea of my portrait from the start. You
remember on this spot hardly a month ago she challenged you to paint her
as the drowned Ophelia!--and all her teasing about Monsieur Mineur and
his jealousy, and--"

"Our flirtation," added Hubert, sadly.

"Oh, pray do not say such a thing! She is so hot-headed, so fond of you.
Yes, I saw it from the beginning, and your talk about the insurmountable
wall of middle-age did not deceive me. I only hope that will not be a
tragic wall for her, for you--or for me...."

Her words trailed into a mere whisper. He put his hand over hers and
again they were silent. About them the green of the forest had been
transformed by the growing night into great clumps of velvety darkness
and the vault overhead was empty of stars. June airs fanned their
discontent into mild despair, and simultaneously they dreamed of another
life, of a harmonious existence far from Paris, into which the phantom
of Théophile Mineur would never intrude. Yet they made no demonstration
of their affection--they would have been happy to sit and dream on this
moon-haunted wall, near this nocturnal pool, forever. Hubert pictured
Berenice in her room, behind bolted doors, lying across the bed weeping,
or else staring in sullen repentance at the white ceiling. Why had she
indulged in such vandalism? The portrait was utterly destroyed by the
flaring smear laid on with a brush in the hand of an enraged young
animal. What sort of a woman might not develop from this tempestuous
girl! He knew that he had mortally offended her by his rudeness. But it
was after, not before, the cruel treatment of his beloved work. Yet, how
like a man had been his rapid succumbing to transitory temptation! For
it was transitory--of that he was sure. The woman he loved, with a
reverent love, was next to him, and if his pulse did not beat as
furiously at this moment as earlier in the day, why--all the better. He
was through forever with his boyish recklessness.

"Another peculiar thing," broke in Elaine, as if she had been thinking
aloud, "is that Berenice has been pestering Éloise for her father's
address."

"Her father's address?" echoed her companion.

"Yes; but whether she wrote to him Éloise could not say."

"Why should she write to him? She dislikes him--dislikes him almost as
much--" he was about to pronounce his own name. She caught him up.

"Yes, that is the singular part of this singular affair. She felt
slighted because you painted my portrait before hers. I confess I have
had my misgivings. You should have been more considerate of her
feelings, Hubert, my friend." She paused and sighed. For him the sigh
was a spark that blew up the magazine of his firmest resolves. He had
been touching her hands fraternally. His arm embraced her so that she
could not escape, as this middle-aged man told his passion with the
ardour of an enamoured youth.

"You dare not tell me you do not care for me! Elaine--let us reason. I
loved you since the first moment I met you. It is folly to talk of
Mineur and my friendship for him. I dislike, I despise him. It is folly
to talk of Berenice and her childish pranks. What if she did cruelly
spoil my work, _our_ work! She will get over it. Girls always do get
over these things. Let us accept conditions as they are. Say you love
me--a little bit--and I'll be content to remain at your side, a friend,
_always_ that. I'll paint you again--much more beautifully than before."
He was hoarse from the intensity of his feelings. The moon had risen and
tipped with its silver brush the tops of the trees.

"And--my husband? And Berenice?"

"Let things remain as they are." He pressed her to him. A crackling in
the underbrush and a faint plash in the lake startled them asunder. They
listened with ears that seemed like beating hearts. There was no
movement; only a night bird plaintively piped in the distance and a
clock struck the quarter.

Elaine, now thoroughly frightened, tried to get down from the wall.
Hubert restrained her, and as they stood thus, a moaning like the wind
in autumnal leaves reached them. The moon-rays began to touch the water,
and suddenly a nimbus of light formed about a floating face in the pool.
The luminous path broadened, and to their horror they saw Berenice, her
hair outspread, her arms crossed on her young bosom, lying in the little
lake. Elaine screamed:--

"My God! My God! It is Berenice!--Berenice, I am punished for my
wickedness to you!" Hubert, stunned by the vision, did not stir, as the
almost fainting mother gripped his neck.

And then the eyes of the whimsical girl opened. A malicious smile
distorted her pretty face. Slowly she arose, a dripping ghost in white,
and pointing her long, thin fingers in the direction of the Ecouen road
she mockingly cried:--

"There is some one to see your portrait at last, dear Master Painter."
And saying this she vanished in the gloom, instantly followed by her
agitated mother.

Hubert turned toward the wall, and upon it he recognized the stepfather
of Berenice. After staring at each other like two moon-struck wights,
the American spoke:--

"I swear that I, alone, am to blame for this--" The other wore the grin
of a malevolent satyr. His voice was thick.

"Why apologize, Hubert? You know that it has been my devoted wish that
you marry Berenice." He swayed on his perch. Hubert's brain was in a
fog.

"Berenice!" said he.

"Yes--Berenice. Why not? She loves you."

"Then--you--Madame Mineur--" stammered Hubert. The Frenchman placed his
finger on his nose and slyly whispered:--

"Don't be afraid! I'll not tell my wife that I caught Berenice with you
alone in the park--you Don Juan! Now to the portrait--I must see that
masterpiece of yours. Berenice wrote me about it." He nodded his head
sleepily.

"Berenice wrote you about it!" was the mechanical reply.

"I'll join you and we'll go to the house." He tried to step down, but
rolled over at Hubert's feet.

"What a joke is this champagne," he growled as he was lifted to his
tottering legs. "We had a glorious time this afternoon before I left
Paris. Hurrah! You're to be my son-in-law. And, my boy, I don't envy
you--that's the truth. With such a little demon for a wife--I pity you,
pity you--hurrah!"

"I am more to be despised," muttered Hubert Falcroft, as they moved away
from the peaceful moonlit wall.



XIII

A SENTIMENTAL REBELLION

     I came not to send peace, but a sword.... I am come to send fire on
     the earth.


I

Her living room was a material projection of Yetta Silverman's soul. The
apartment on the north side of Tompkins Square, was small, sunny, and
comfortable. From its windows in spring and summer she could see the
boys and girls playing around the big, bare park, and when her eyes grew
tired of the street she rested them on her beloved books and pictures.
On one wall hung the portraits of Herzen, Bakounine and Kropotkin--the
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost of the anarchistic movement, as she piously
called them. Other images of the propaganda were scattered over the
walls: Netschajew--the St. Paul of the Nihilists--Ravachol, Octave
Mirbeau, Jean Grave, Reclus, Spies, Parsons, Engels, and Lingg--the last
four victims of the Haymarket affair, and the Fenians, Allen, Larkin,
and O'Brien, the Manchester martyrs. Among the philosophers, poets, and
artists were Schopenhauer, Tolstoy, Max Stirner--a rare drawing--Ibsen,
Thoreau, Emerson--the great American individualists--Beethoven, Zola,
Richard Strauss, Carlyle, Nietzsche, Gorky, Walt Whitman, Dostoiēwsky,
Mazzini, Rodin, Constantin Meunier, Shelley, Turgénieff, Bernard Shaw,
and finally the kindly face and intellectual head of the lawyer who so
zealously defended the Chicago anarchists. This diversified group,
together with much revolutionary literature, poems, pamphlets, the works
of Proudhon, Songs Before Sunrise, by Swinburne, and a beautiful etching
of Makart's proletarian Christ, completed, with an old square
pianoforte, the ensemble of an individual room, a room that expressed,
as her admirers said, the strong, suffering soul of Yetta Silverman,
Russian anarchist, agitator, and exile.

"Come in," she cried out in her sharp, though not unpleasant, voice. A
thin young man entered. She clapped her hands.

"Oh, so you changed your mind!" He looked at her over his glasses with
his weak, blue eyes, the white of which predominated. Simply dressed, he
nevertheless gave the impression of superior social station. He was of
the New England theological-seminary type--narrow-chested, gaunt as to
visage, by temperament drawn to theology, or, in default of religious
belief, an ardent enthusiast in sociology. The contracted temples,
uncertain gaze, and absence of fulness beneath the eyes betrayed the
unimaginative man. Art was a sealed book to him, though taxation fairly
fired his suspicious soul. He was nervous because he was dyspeptic, and
at one time of his career he mistook stomach trouble for a call to the
pulpit. And he was a millionnaire more times than he took the trouble to
count.

"Yes," he timidly replied, "I _did_ change my wavering mind--as you call
that deficient organ of mine--and so I returned. I hope I don't disturb
you!"

"No, not yet. I am sitting with my hands folded in my lap, like the
women of your class--_ladies_, you call them." She accented the title,
without bitterness. A cursory estimate of her appearance would have
placed her in the profession of a trained nurse, or perhaps in the
remotest analysis, a sewing woman of superior tastes. She was small,
wiry, her head too large for her body; but the abounding nervous
vitality, the harsh fire that burned in her large brown eyes, and the
firm mouth would have attracted the attention of the most careless. Her
mask, with its high Slavic cheek-bones and sharp Jewish nose, proclaimed
her a magnetic woman. In her quarter on the far East Side the children
called her "Aunt Yetta." She was a sister of charity in the guise of a
revolutionist.

"You sit but you think, and _my_ ladies never think," he answered, in
his boyish voice. He seemed proud to be so near this distinguished
creature. Had she not been sent to Siberia, driven out of France and
Germany, and arrested in New York for her incendiary speeches? She
possessed the most extraordinary power over an audience. Once, at Cooper
Union, Arthur had seen her control a crazy mob bent on destroying the
building because a few stupid police had interfered with the meeting.
Among her brethren Yetta Silverman was classed with Louise Michel,
Sophia Perowskaia, and Vera Zassoulitch, those valiant women, true
guardian angels, veritable martyrs to the cause. He thought of them as
he watched the delicate-looking young woman before him.

Arthur was too chilly of blood to fall in love with her; his admiration
was purely cerebral. He was unlucky enough to have had for a father a
shrewd, visionary man, that curious combination of merchant and dreamer
once to be found in New England. A follower of Fourier, a friend of
Emerson, the elder Wyartz had gone to Brook Farm and had left it in a
few months. Dollars, not dreams, was his true ambition. But he
registered his dissatisfaction with this futile attempt by christening
his only son, Arthur Schopenhauer; it was old Wyartz's way of getting
even with the ideal. Obsessed from the age of spelling by his
pessimistic middle name, the boy had grown up in a cloudy compromise of
rebellion and the church. For a few years he vacillated; he went to
Harvard, studied the Higher Criticism, made a trip abroad, wrote a
little book recording the contending impulses of his pale, harassed
soul--Oscillations was the title--and returned to Boston a mild anarch.
Emerson the mystic, transposed to the key of France, sometimes makes
bizarre music.

She arose and, walking over to him, put her hand nonchalantly on his
shoulder.

"Arthur, comrade, what do you mean to do with yourself--come, what will
all this enthusiasm bring forth?" He fumbled his glasses with his thumb
and index finger--a characteristic gesture--and nervously regarded her
before answering. Then he smiled at his idea.

"We might marry and fight the great fight together like the Jenkins
crowd."

"Marry!" she exclaimed--her guttural Russian accent manifested itself
when she became excited--"marry! You are only a baby, Arthur
Schopenhauer Wyartz--_Herrgott_, this child bears _such_ a name!--and
while I am sure the thin Yankee blood of the Jenkins family needed a
Jewish wife, and a Slav, I am not that way of thinking for myself. I am
married to the revolution." Her eyes dwelt with reverence on her new
Christian saints, those Christs of the gutter, who had sacrificed their
lives in the modern arena for the idea of liberty, who were thrown to
the wild beasts and slaughtered by the latter-day pagans of wealth, and
barbarians in purple. He followed her glance. It lashed him to jerky
enthusiasm.

"I am not joking," he earnestly asserted, "so pardon my rashness. Only
believe in my sincerity. I am no anarch on paper. I am devoted to your
cause and to you, Yetta, to my last heart's blood. Do you need my
wealth? It is yours. You can work miracles with millions in America.
Take it all."

"It's not money we need, but men," she answered darkly. "Your millions,
which came to you innocently enough, represent the misery of--how many?
Let the multi-millionnaires give away their money to found theological
colleges and libraries--_my_ party will have none of it. Its men are
armed by the ideas that we prefer. I don't blame the rich or the
political tyrants--the mob has to be educated, the unhappy proletarians,
who have so long submitted to the crack of the whip that they wouldn't
know what to do with their freedom if they had it. All mobs believe
alike in filth and fire, whether antique slaves free for their day's
Saturnalia, or the Paris crowds of '93. Their ideas of happiness are
pillage, bloodshed, drunkenness, revenge. Every popular uprising sinks
the _people_ deeper in their misery. Every bomb thrown discredits the
cause of liberty."

Astonished by this concession, Arthur wondered how she had ever earned
her reputation as the Russian "Red Virgin," as an unequivocal terrorist.
Thus he had heard her hailed at all the meetings which she addressed.
But she did not notice his perturbation, she was following another
train.

"You Americans do not love money as much as the Europeans--who hoard it
away, who worship it on their naked knees; but you do something
worse--you love it for the sake of the sport, a cruel sport for the
poor. You go into speculation as the English go after big game. It is a
sport. This sport involves food--and you gamble with wheat and meat for
counters, while starving men and women pay for the game. America is yet
rich enough to afford this sport, but some day it will become crowded
like Europe, and then, beware! Wasn't it James Hinton who said that
'Overthrowing society means an inverted pyramid getting straight'?

"And America," she continued, "bribes us with the gilded sentimental
phrases of Rousseau, Mirabeau, and Thomas Paine woven into your national
constitution, with its presumptuous declaration that all men are born
free and equal--shades of Darwin and Nietzsche!--and that universal
suffrage is a panacea for all evils. In no country boasting itself
Christian is there a system so artfully devised for keeping the _poor_
free and unequal, no country where so-called public opinion, as
expressed in the press, is used to club the majority into submission.
And you are all proud of this liberty--a liberty at which the despised
serf in Russia or the man of the street in London sneers--there is
to-day more _individual_ liberty in England and Germany than in the
United States. Don't smile! I can prove it. As for France or Italy--they
are a hundred years ahead of you in municipal government. But I shan't
talk blue-books at you, Arthur!"

"Why not, why not?" he quickly interposed. "You always impress me by
your easy handling of facts. And why won't my money be of use to the
social revolution?" Scornfully she started up again and began walking.

"Why? Because convictions can't be bought with cash! Why! Because
philanthropy is the most selfish of vices. You may do good here and
there--but you do more harm. You create more paupers, you fine
gentlemen, with your Mission houses and your Settlement workers! You are
trying to cover the ugly sores with a plaster of greenbacks. It won't
heal the sickness--it won't heal it, I tell you." Her eyes were flaming
and she stamped the floor passionately.

"We workers on the East Side have a name for you millionnaires. We call
you the White Mice. You have pretty words and white lies, pretty ways
and false smiles. Lies! lies! lies! You are only giving back, with the
aid of your superficial fine ladies, the money stolen from the true
money earners. You have discovered the Ghetto--you and the impertinent
newspaper men. And like the reporters you come down to use us for
'copy.' You live here in comfort among us and then go away, write a book
about our wretchedness and pose as altruistic heroes in your own silly
set. How I loathe that word--altruism! As if the sacrifice of your
personality does not always lead to self-deception, to hypocrisy! It is
an excuse for the busybody-rich to advertise their charities. If they
were as many armed as Briareus or the octopus, their charity would be
known to each and every hand on their arms. These sentimental anarchs!
They even marry our girls and carry them off to coddle their conscience
with gilded gingerbread. Yet they would turn their backs on Christ if he
came to Hester Street--Christ, the first modern anarch, a
destructionist, a proletarian who preached fire and sword for the evil
rich of his times. Nowadays he would be sent to Blackwell's Island for
six months as a disturber of the peace or for healing without a license
from the County Medical Association!"

"Like Johann Most," he ventured. She blazed at the name.

"No jokes, please. Most, too, has suffered. But I am no worshipper of
bombs--and beer." This made him laugh, but as the laugh was not echoed
he stared about him.

"But Yetta,--we must begin somewhere. I wish to become--to
become--something like you.--"

She interrupted him roughly:

"To become--you an anarch! You are a sentimental rebel because your
stomach is not strong enough for the gourmands who waste their time at
your clubs. If your nerves were sound you might make a speech. But the
New England conscience of your forefathers--they were nearly all
clergymen, weren't they?--has ruined your strength. The best thing you
can do, my boy, is to enter a seminary and later go to China as a
missionary; else turn literary and edit an American edition of Who's Who
in Hell! But leave our East Side alone. Do you know what New York
reminds me of? Its centre is a strip of green and gold between two
smouldering red rivers of fire--the East and West Sides. If they ever
spill over the banks, all the little parasites of greater parasites, the
lawyers, brokers, bankers, journalists, ecclesiastics, and middle men,
will be devoured. Oh, what a glorious day! And oh, that terrible night
when we marched behind the black flag and muffled drums down Broadway,
that night in 1887 when the four martyrs were murdered, the hero Lingg
having killed himself. What would you have done in those awful times?"

"Try me," he muttered, as he pulled down his cuffs, "try me!"

"Very well, I'll try you. Like Carlo Cafiero, the rich Italian anarch,
you must give your money to us--every cent of it. Come with me to-night.
I address a meeting of the brethren at Schwab's place--you know, the
saloon across the street, off the square. We can eat our supper there,
and then--"

"Try me," he reiterated, and his voice was hoarse with emotion, his
pulse painfully irregular.


II

Notwithstanding his vows of heroism, Arthur could not force himself to
like the establishment of Schwab, where the meeting was to take place.
It was a beer-saloon, not one of those mock-mediæval uptown palaces, but
a long room with a low ceiling, gaslit and shabby. The tables and chairs
of hard, coarse wood were greasy--napkins and table-cloths were not to
be mentioned, else would the brethren suspect the presence of an
aristocrat. At the upper end, beyond the little black bar, there was a
platform, upon it a table, a pianoforte, and a stool. Still he managed
to conceal his repugnance to all these uninviting things and he sipped
his diluted Rhine wine, ate his sandwich--an unpalatable one--under the
watchful eyes of his companion. By eight o'clock the room was jammed
with working-people, all talking and in a half dozen tongues.
Occasionally Yetta left him to join a group, and where she went silence
fell. She was the oracle of the crowd. At nine o'clock Arthur's head
ached. He had smoked all his Turkish cigarettes, the odour of which
caused some surprise--there was a capitalist present and they knew him.
Only Yetta prevented disagreeable comment. The men, who belonged to the
proletarian class, were poorly dressed and intelligent; the women wore
shawls on their heads and smoked bad cigarettes. The saloon did not
smell nice, Arthur thought. He had offered Yetta one of his imported
cigarettes, but she lighted a horrible weed and blew the smoke in his
face.

At ten o'clock he wished himself away. But a short, stout man with a
lopsided face showing through his tangled beard, stood up and said in
German:--

"All who are not _our_ friends, please leave the house."

No one stirred. The patron went from group to group saluting his
customers and eying those who were not. Whether any password or signal
was given Arthur could not say. When the blond, good-natured Schwab
reached him, Yetta whispered in his ear. The host beamed on the young
American and gave him a friendly poke in the back; Arthur felt as if he
had been knighted. He said this to Yetta, but her attention was
elsewhere. The doors and windows were quickly shut and bolted. She
nudged his elbow--for they were sitting six at the table, much to his
disgust; the other four drank noisily--and he followed her to the top of
the room. A babble broke out as they moved along.

"It's Yetta's new catch. Yetta's rich fellow. Wait until she gets
through with him--poor devil." These broken phrases made him shiver,
especially as Yetta's expression, at first enigmatic, was now openly
sardonic. What did she mean? Was she only tormenting him? Was this to be
his test, his trial? His head was almost splitting, for the heat was
great and the air bad. Again he wished himself home.

They reached the platform. "Jump up, Arthur, and help me," she
commanded. He did so. But his discomfiture only grew apace with the
increased heat--the dingy ceiling crushed him--and the rows in front,
the entire floor seemed transformed to eyes, malicious eyes. She told
him to sit down at the piano and play the Marseillaise. Then standing
before the table she drew from her bosom a scarlet flag, and accompanied
by the enthusiastic shoutings she led the singing. Arthur at the
keyboard felt exalted. Forgotten the pains of a moment before. He
hammered the keys vigorously, extorting from the battered instrument a
series of curious croakings. Some of the keys did not "speak," some gave
forth a brazen clangour from the rusty wires. No one cared. The singing
stopped with the last verse.

"Now La Ravachole for our French brethren." This combination of
revolutionary lyrics--Ça Ira and Carmagnole--was chanted fervidly. Then
came for the benefit of the German the stirring measures from the
Scotch-German John Henry Mackay's Sturm:--

    Das ist der Kampf, den allnächtlich
    Bevor das Dunkel zerrinnt,
    Einsam und gramvoll auskämpt
    Des Jahrhunderts verlorenes Kind.

Yetta waved her long and beautifully shaped hands--they were her
solitary vanity. The audience became still. She addressed them at first
in deliberate tones, and Arthur noted that the interest was genuine--he
wondered how long his fat-witted club friends could endure or
appreciate the easy manner in which Yetta Silverman quoted from great
thinkers, and sprinkled these quotations with her own biting
observations.

"Richard Wagner--who loved humanity when he wrote Siegfried and
regretted that love in Parsifal!

"Richard Wagner--who loved ice-cream more than Dresden's
freedom--Wagner: the Swiss family bell-ringer of '48!

"To Max Stirner, Ibsen, and Richard Strauss belongs the twentieth
century!

"Nietzsche--the anarch of aristocrats!

"Karl Marx--or the selfish Jew socialist!

"Lassalle--the Jew comedian of liberty!

"Bernard Shaw--the clever Celt who would sacrifice socialism for an
epigram.

"Curse all socialists!" she suddenly screamed.

Arthur, entranced by the playful manner with which she disposed of
friend and foe, was aghast at this outbreak. He saw another Yetta. Her
face was ugly and revengeful. She sawed the air with her thin arms.

"Repeat after me," she adjured her hearers, "the Catechism of Sergei
Netschajew, but begin with Herzen's noble motto: 'Long live chaos and
destruction!'"

"Long live chaos and destruction!" was heartily roared.

The terrific catechism of the apostle Netschajew made Arthur shake with
alternate woe and wrath. It was bloody-minded beyond description. Like
a diabolic litany boomed the questions and answers:--

"Day and night we must have but one thought--inexorable destruction."
And Arthur recalled how this pupil of Bakounine had with the assistance
of Pryow and Nicolajew beguiled a certain suspected friend, Ivanow, into
a lonely garden and killed him, throwing the body into a lake. After
that Netschajew disappeared, though occasionally showing himself in
Switzerland and England. Finally, in 1872, he was nabbed by the Russian
government, sent to Siberia, and--!

_Ugh!_ thought Arthur, what a people, what an ending! And Yetta--why did
she now so openly proclaim destruction as the only palliative for social
crime when she had so eloquently disclaimed earlier in the day the
propaganda by force, by dagger, and dynamite?--He had hardly asked
himself the question when there came a fierce rapping of wooden clubs at
door and window. Instantly a brooding hush like that which precedes a
hurricane fell upon the gathering. But Yetta did not long remain silent.

"Quick, Arthur, play the Star-Spangled Banner! It's the police. I want
to save these poor souls--" she added, with a gulp in her throat;
"quick, you idiot, the Star-Spangled Banner." But Arthur was almost
fainting. His ringers fell listlessly on the keys, and they were too
weak to make a sound. The police! he moaned, as the knocking deepened
into banging and shouting. What a scandal! What a disgrace! He could
never face his own world after this! To be caught with a lot of crazy
anarchists in a den like this!--Smash, went the outside door! And the
newspapers! They would laugh him out of town. He, Arthur Schopenhauer
Wyartz, the Amateur Anarch! He saw the hideous headlines. Why, the very
daily in which some of his fortune was invested would be the first to
mock him most!

The assault outside increased. He leaped to the floor, where Yetta was
surrounded by an excited crowd. He plucked her sleeve. She gazed at him
disdainfully.

"For God's sake, Yetta, get me out of this--this awful scrape. My
mother, my sisters--the disgrace!" She laughed bitterly.

"You poor chicken among hawks! But I'll help you--follow me." He reached
the cellar stairs, and she showed him a way by which he could walk
safely into the alley, thence to the street back of their building. He
shook her hand with the intensity of a man in the clutches of the ague.

"But you--why don't you go with me?" he asked, his teeth chattering.

The brittle sound of glass breaking was heard. She answered, as she took
his feverish hand:--

"Because, you brave revolutionist, I must stick to my colours.
Farewell!" And remounting the stairs, she saw the bluecoats awaiting
her.

"I hope the police will catch him anyhow," she said. It was her one
relapse into femininity, and as she quietly surrendered she did not
regret it.


III

Old Koschinsky's store on the avenue was the joy of the neighbourhood.
For hours, their smeary faces flattened against the glass, the children
watched the tireless antics of the revolving squirrels; the pouter
pigeons expand their breasts into feathered balloons; the goldfish, as
they stolidly swam, their little mouths open, their eyes following the
queer human animals imprisoned on the other side of the plate-glass
window. Canary birds by the hundreds made the shop a trying one for
sensitive ears. There were no monkeys. Koschinsky, whose heart was as
soft as butter, though he was a formidable revolutionist--so he swore
over at Schwab's--declared that monkeys were made in the image of
tyrannical humans. He would have none of them. Parrots? There were
enough of the breed around him, he told the gossiping women, who, with
their _scheitels_, curved noses, and shining eyes, lent to the quarter
its Oriental quality.

It was in Koschinsky's place that Arthur first encountered Yetta. He was
always prowling about the East Side in search of sociological prey, and
the modest little woman with her intelligent and determined face
attracted him strongly. They fell into easy conversation near a cage of
canaries, and the acquaintance soon bloomed into a friendship. A week
after the raid on Schwab's, Arthur, very haggard and nervous, wandered
into Koschinsky's. The old man greeted him:--

"Hu! So you've just come down from the Island! Well--how did you like it
up there? Plenty water--eh?" The sarcasm was too plain, and the young
man, mumbling some sort of an answer, turned to go.

"Hold on there!" said Koschinsky. "I expect a very fine bird soon. You'd
better wait. It was here only last night; and the bird asked whether you
had been in." Arthur started.

"For me? Miss Silverman?"

"I said a bird," was the dogged reply. And then Yetta walked up to
Arthur and asked:--

"Where have you been? Why haven't you called?" He blushed.

"I was ashamed."

"Because you were so, so--frightened, that night?"

"Yes."

"But nothing came of the affair. The police could get no evidence. We
had no flags--"

"That scarlet one I saw you with--what of it?" She smiled.

"Did you look in your pockets when you got home? I stuffed the flag in
one of them while we were downstairs." He burst into genteel laughter.

"No, I threw off my clothes in such disgust that night that I vowed I
would never get into them again. I gave the suit to my valet."

"Your valet," she gravely returned; "he may become _one of us_."

"Fancy, when I reached the house--I went up in a hansom, for I was
bareheaded--my mother was giving the biggest kind of a ball. I had no
end of trouble trying to sneak in unobserved."

She regarded him steadily. "Isn't it strange," she went on, "how the
bull-dog police of this town persecute us--and they _should_ be
sympathetic. They had to leave their own island because of tyranny. Yet
as soon as they step on this soil they feel themselves self-constituted
tyrants. Something of the sort happened with your own ancestors--" she
looked at him archly--"the Pilgrim Fathers were not very tolerant to the
Quakers, the Jews, Catholics, or any sect not their own. Now you do not
seem to have inherited that ear-slicing temperament--"

"Oh, stop, Yetta! Don't make any more fun of me. I confess I am
cowardly--I hate rows and scandals--"

"'What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his
liberty?'"

"Yes, I know. But this was such a nasty little affair. The newspapers
would have driven me crazy."

"But suppose, for the sake of argument," she said, "that the row would
not have appeared in the newspapers--what then?"

"What do you mean? By Jove, there was nothing in the papers, now that I
come to think of it. I went the next morning out to Tuxedo and
forgot--what do you mean by this mystery, Yetta?"

"I mean this--suppose, for the sake of further argument, I should tell
you that there was no row, no police, no arrests!" He gasped.

"O-h, what an ass I made of myself. So that was your trial! And I
failed. Oh, Yetta, Yetta--what shall I say?" The girl softened. She took
both his hands in her shapely ones and murmured:--

"Dear little boy, I treated you roughly. Forgive me! There was a real
descent by the police--it was no deception. That's why I asked you to
play the Star-Spangled Banner--"

"Excuse me, Yetta; but why did you do that? Why didn't you meet the
police defiantly chanting the Marseillaise? That would have been
braver--more like the true anarchist." She held down her head.

"Because--because--those poor folks--I wanted to spare them as much
trouble with the police as possible," she said in her lowest tones.

"And why," he pursued triumphantly, "why did you preach bombs after
assuring me that reform must come through the spiritual propaganda?" She
quickly replied:--

"Because our most dangerous foe was in the audience. You know. The man
with the beard who first spoke. He has often denounced me as lukewarm;
and then you know words are not as potent as deeds with the
proletarians. One assassination is of more value than all the philosophy
of Tolstoy. And that old wind-bag sat near us and watched us--watched
me. That's why I let myself go--" she was blushing now, and old
Koschinsky nearly dropped a bird-cage in his astonishment.

"Yetta, Yetta!" Arthur insisted, "wind-bag, you call your comrade? Were
you not, just for a few minutes, in the same category? Again she was
silent.

"I feel now," he ejaculated, as he came very close to her, "that we must
get outside of these verbal entanglements. I want you to become my
wife." His heart sank as he thought of his mother's impassive, high-bred
air--with such a figure for a Fifth Avenue bride! The girl looked into
his weak blue eyes with their area of saucer-like whiteness. She shook
her stubborn head.

"I shall never marry. I do not believe in such an institution. It
degrades women, makes tyrants of men. No, Arthur--I am fond of you,
perhaps--" she paused,--"so fond that I might enter into any relation
but marriage,--that never!"

"And I tell you, Yetta, anarchy or no anarchy, I could never respect the
woman if she were not mine legally. In America we do these things
differently--" he was not allowed to finish.

She glared at him, then she strode to the shop door and opened it.

"Farewell to you, Mr. Arthur Schopenhauer Wyartz, amateur anarchist.
Better go back to your mother and sisters! _Mein Gott_, Schopenhauer,
too!" He put his Alpine hat on his bewildered head and without a word
went out. She did not look after him, but walked over to the old
bird-fancier and sat on his leather-topped stool. Presently she rested
her elbows on her knees and propped her chin with her gloveless hands.
Her eyes were red. Koschinsky peeped at her and shook his head.

"Yetta--you know what I think!--Yetta, the boy was right! You shouldn't
have asked him for the Star-Spangled Banner! The Marseillaise would have
been better."

"I don't care," she viciously retorted.

"I know, I know. But a nice boy--_so_ well fixed."

"I don't care," she insisted. "I'm married to the revolution."

"Yah, yah! the revolution, Yetta--" he pushed his lean, brown forefinger
into the cage of an enraged canary--"the revolution! Yes, Yetta
Silverman, the revolution!" She sighed.



XIV

HALL OF THE MISSING FOOTSTEPS

    So I saw in my dream that the man began to run.

    --_Pilgrim's Progress_.


I

As the first-class carriage rolled languidly out of Balak's only railway
station on a sultry February evening, Pobloff, the composer, was not
sorry.

"I wish it were Persia instead of Ramboul," he reflected. Luga, his
wife, he had left weeping at the station; but since the day she
disappeared with his orchestra for twenty-four hours, Pobloff's
affection had gradually cooled; he was leaving the capital without a
pang on a month's leave of absence--a delicate courtesy of the king's
extended to a brother ruler, though a semi-barbarous one, the khedive of
Ramboul.

Pobloff was not sad nor was he jubilantly glad. The journey was an easy
one; a night and day and the next night would see him, God willing,--he
crossed himself,--in the semi-tropical city of Nirgiz. From Balak to
Nirgiz, from southeastern Europe to Asia Minor!

The heir-apparent was said to be a music-loving lad, very much under
the cunning thumb of his grim old aunt, who, rumour averred, wore a
black beard, and was the scourge of her little kingdom. All that might
be changed when the prince would reach his majority; his failing health
and morbid melancholy had frightened the grand vizier, and the king of
Balakia had been petitioned to send Pobloff, the composer, designer of
inimitable musical masques, Pobloff, the irresistible interpreter of
Chopin, to the aid of the ailing youth.

So this middle-aged David left his nest to go harp for a Saul yet in his
adolescence. What his duties were to be Pobloff had not the slightest
idea. He had received no special instructions; a member of the royal
household bore him the official mandate and a purse fat enough to soothe
his wife's feelings. After appointing his first violin conductor of the
Balakian Orchestra during his absence, the fussy, stout, good-natured
Russian (he was born at Kiew, 1865, the biographical dictionaries say)
secured a sleeping compartment on the Ramboul express, from the windows
of which he contemplated with some satisfaction the flat land that
gradually faded in the mists of night as the train tore its way noisily
over a rude road-bed.


II

Pobloff slept. He usually snored; but this evening he was too fatigued.
He heard not the sudden stoppages at lonely way stations where hoarse
voices and a lantern represented the life of the place; he did not heed
the engine as it thirstily sucked water from a tank in the heart of the
Karpakians; and he was surprised, pleased, proud, when a hot February
sun, shining through his window, awoke him.

It was six o'clock of a fine morning, and the train was toiling up a
precipitous grade to the spine of the mountain, where the down-slope
would begin and air-brakes rule. Pobloff looked about him. He scratched
his long nose, a characteristic gesture, and began wondering when coffee
would be ready. He pressed the bell. The guard entered, a miserable
bandit who bravely wore his peaked hat with green plumes à la Tyrol. He
spoke four tongues and many dialects; Pobloff calculated his monthly
salary at forty roubles.

"No, Excellency, the coffee will be hot and refreshing at Kerb, where we
arrive about seven." He cleared his throat, put out his hand, bowed low,
and disappeared. The composer grumbled. Kerb!--not until that wretched
eyrie in the clouds! And such coffee! No matter. Pobloff never felt in
robuster health; his irritable nerves were calmed by a sound night's
sleep. The air was fresher than down in the malarial valley, where stood
the shining towers of Balak; he could see them pinked by the morning sun
and low on the horizon. All together he was glad....

Hello, this must be Kerb! A moment later Pobloff bellowed for the
guard; he had shattered the electric annunciator by his violence. Then,
not waiting to be served, he ran into the vestibule, and soon was on the
station platform, inhaling huge drafts of air into his big chest. Ah! It
was glorious up there. What surprised him was the number of human beings
clambering over the steps, running and gabbling like a lot of animals
let loose from their cages. The engineer beside his quivering machine
enjoyed his morning coffee. And there were many turbaned pagans and some
veiled women mixed with the crowd.

The sparkling of bright colours and bizarre costumes did not disturb
Pobloff, who had lived too long on anonymous borders, where Jew,
Christian, Turk, Slav, African, and outlandish folk generally melted
into a civilization which still puzzled ethnologists.

A negro, gorgeously clad, guarding closely a slim female, draped from
head to foot in virginal white, attracted the musician. The man's face
was monstrous in its suggestion of evil, and furthermore shocking,
because his nose was a gaping hole. Evidently a scimiter had performed
this surgical operation, Pobloff mused.

The giant's eyes offended him, they so stared, and threateningly.

Pobloff was not a coward. After his adventure in Balak, he feared
neither man nor devil, and he insolently returned the black fellow's
gaze. They stood about a buffet and drank coffee. The young woman--her
outlines were girlish--did not touch anything; she turned her face in
Pobloff's direction, so he fancied, and spoke at intervals to her
attendant.

"I must be a queer-looking bird to this Turk and her keeper--probably
some Georgian going to a rich Mussulman's harem in company with his
eunuch," Pobloff repeated to himself.

A gong was banged. Before its strident vibrations had ceased troubling
the thin morning air, the train began to move slowly out of Kerb.
Pobloff again was glad.

He remained on the rear platform of his car as long as the white
station, beginning to blister under a tropical sun, was in sight. Then
he sought his compartment. His amazement and rage were great when he
found the two window seats occupied by the negro and the mysterious
creature. Pobloff's bag was tumbled in a corner, his overcoat, hat, and
umbrella tossed to the other end of the room. The big black man bared
his teeth smilingly, the shrouded girl shrank back as if in fear.

"Well, I'll be--!" began the composer. Then he leaned over and pushed
the button, the veins in his forehead like whipcords, his throat parched
with wrath. But to no avail--the bell was broken. Pobloff's first
impulse was to take the smiling Ethiopian by the neck and pitch him out.
There were several reasons why he did not: the giant looked dangerous;
he plainly carried a brace of pistols, and at least one dagger, the
jewelled handle of which flashed over his glaring sash of many tints.
And then the lady--Pobloff was very gallant, too gallant, his wife said.
The bell would not ring! What was he to do? He soon made up his mind,
supple Slav that he was. With a muttered apology he sank back and closed
his eyes in polite despair.

His consternation was overwhelming when a voice addressed him in
Russian, a contralto voice of some indefinable timbre, the voice of a
female, yet not without epicene intonations. His eyes immediately
opened. From her gauze veiling the young woman spoke:--

"We are sorry to derange you. The guard made a mistake. Pardon!" The
tone was slightly condescending, as if the goddess behind the cloud had
deigned to notice a mere mortal. Her attendant was smiling, and to
Pobloff his grin resembled a newly sliced watermelon. But her voice
filled him with ecstasy. His ear, as sensitive as the eye of a Claude
Monet, noted every infinitesimal variation in tone-colour, and each
shade was a symbol for the fantastic imagination of this poetic
composer. The girlish voice affected him strangely. It pierced his soul
like a poniard. It made his spine chilly. It evoked visions of white
women languorously moving in processional attitudes beneath the chaste
rays of an implacable moon. The voice modulated into crisp morning
inflections:--

"You are going far, Excellency?" She knew him! And the slave who
grinned and grinned and never spoke--what was _he_? She seemed to follow
Pobloff's thought.

"Hamet is dumb. His tongue was cut at the same time he lost his nose. It
all happened at the siege of Yerkutz."

Pobloff at last found words.

"Poor fellow!" he said sympathetically, and then forgot all about the
mutilated one. "You are welcome to this compartment," he assured her in
his oiliest manner. "What surprises me is that I did not see your Serene
Highness when we left Balak." She started at the title that he bestowed
upon her, and he inwardly chuckled. Clever dog, Pobloff, clever dog! Her
eyes were brilliant despite obstructing veils.

"I was _en route_ to Balak yesterday, but my servant became ill and I
stopped over night at Kerb." Pobloff was entranced. She was undoubtedly
a young dame of noble birth and her freedom, the freedom of a European
woman, delighted him. It also puzzled.

"How is it--?" he asked.

But they had begun that fearful descent, at once the despair and delight
of engineers. The mountain fell away rapidly as the long, clumsy train
raced down its flank at a breakneck pace. Pobloff shivered and clutched
the arms of his seat. He saw nothing but deep blue sky and the tall top
of an occasional tree. The racket was terrific, the heat depressing. She
sat in her corner, apparently sleeping, while the giant smiled, always
smiled, never removing his ugly eyes from the perspiring countenance of
Pobloff.

As they neared earth's level, midday was over. Pobloff hungered. Before
he could go in search of the ever absent guard, the woman suddenly sat
up, clapped her hands, and said something; but whether it was Turkish,
Roumanian, or Greek, he couldn't distinguish. A hamper was hauled from
under the seat by the servant, and to his joy Pobloff saw white rolls,
grapes, wine, figs, and cheese. He bowed and began eating. The others
looked at him and for a moment he could have sworn he heard faint
laughter.

"I am so hungry," he said apologetically. "And you, Serenity, won't you
join me?" He offered her fruit. It was declined with a short nod. He was
dying to smoke, and, behold! priceless Turkish tobacco was thrust into
his willing hand. He rolled a stout cigarette, lighted it. Then a sigh
reached his ears. "The lady smokes," he thought, and slyly chuckled.

A sound of something tearing was heard, and a pair of beautiful hands
reached for the tobacco. In a few moments the slender fingers were
pressing a cigarette; the slave lighted a wax fusee; the lady took it,
put the cigarette in a rent of her veil, and a second volume of odorous
vapour arose. Pobloff leaned back, stupefied. A Mohammedan woman smoking
in a Trans-Caucasian railway carriage before a Frank! Stupendous! He
felt unaccountably gay.

"This is joyful," he said aloud. She smoked fervently. "Western manners
are certainly invading the East," he continued, hoping to hear again
that voice of marvellous resonance. She smoked. "Why, even Turkish women
have been known to study music in Paris."

"I am not a Turk," she said in her deepest chest tones.

"Pardon! A Russian, perhaps? Your accent is perfect. I am a Russian."
She did not reply.

The day declined, and there was no more conversation. As the train
devoured leagues of swampy territory, villages were passed. The
journey's end was nearing. Soon meadows were seen surrounding
magnificent villas. A wide, shallow river was crossed, the Oxal; Pobloff
knew by his pocket map that Nirgiz was nigh. And for the first time in
twenty-four hours he sorrowed. Despite his broad invitations and
unmistakable hints, he could not trap his travelling companion into an
avowal of her identity, of her destination. Nothing could be coaxed from
the giant, and it was with a sinking heart--Pobloff was very
sentimental--that he saw the lights of Nirgiz; a few minutes later the
train entered the Oriental station. In the heat, the clamour of half a
thousand voices, yelling unknown jargons, his resolution to keep his
companions in view went for naught. Beset by jabbering porters, he did
not have an opportunity to say farewell to the veiled lady; with her
escort she had disappeared when the car stopped--and without a word of
thanks! Pobloff was wretched.


III

It was past nine o'clock as he roamed the vast garden surrounding the
Palace of a Thousand Sounds--thus named because of the tiny bells
tinkling about its marble dome. He had eaten an unsatisfying meal in a
small antechamber, waited upon by a stupid servant. And worse still, the
food was ill cooked. On presenting his credentials, earlier in the
evening, the grand vizier, a sneaky-appearing man, had welcomed him
coldly, telling him that her Serene Highness was too exhausted to
receive so late in the day; she had granted too many audiences that
afternoon.

"And the prince?" he queried. The prince was away hunting by moonlight,
and could not be seen for at least a day. In the interim, Pobloff was
told to make himself at home, as became such a distinguished composer
and artistic plenipotentiary of Balakia's king. Then he was bowed out of
the chamber, down the low malachite staircase, into his supper room. It
was all very disturbing to a man of Pobloff's equable disposition.

He thought of Luga, his little wife, his dove; but not long. She did not
appeal to his heart of hearts; she was a coquette. Pobloff sighed. He
was midway in his mortal life, a dangerous period for susceptible
manhood. He lifted moist eyes to the stars; the night was delicious. He
rested upon a cushioned couch of stone. About him the moonlight painted
the trees, until they seemed like liquefied ermine; the palace arose in
pyramidal surges of marble to the sky, meeting the moonbeams as if in
friendly defiance, and casting them back to heaven with triumphant
reflections. And the stillness, profound as the tomb, was punctuated by
glancing fireflies. Pobloff hummed melodiously.

"A night to make music," whispered a deep, sweet voice. Before he could
rise, his heart bounding as if stung to its centre, a woman, swathed in
white, sat beside him, touched him, put such a pressure upon his
shoulder that his blood began to stir. It was she. He stumbled in his
speech. She laughed, and he ground his teeth, for this alone saved him
from foolishness, from mad behaviour.

"Maestro--you could make music this lovely night?" Pobloff started.

"In God's name, who are you, and what are you doing here? Where did you
go this evening? I missed you. Ah! unhappy man that I am, you will drive
me crazy!"

She did not smile now, but pressed close to him.

"I am a prisoner--like yourself," she replied simply.

"A prisoner! How a prisoner? I am not a prisoner, but an envoy from my
king to the sick princeling."

She sighed.

"The poor, mad prince," she said, "he is in need of your medicine,
sadly. He sent for me a year ago, and I am now his prisoner for life."

"But I saw you on the train, a day's journey hence," interrupted the
musician.

"Yes, I had escaped, and was being taken back by black Hamet when we
met."

Pobloff whistled. So the mystery was disclosed. A little white slave
from the seraglio of this embryo tyrant had flown the cage! No wonder
she was watched, little surprise that she did not care to eat. He
straightened himself, the hair on his round head like porcupine quills.

"My dear young lady," he exclaimed in accents paternal, "leave all to
me. If you do not wish to stay in this place, you may rely on me. When I
see this same young man,--he must be a nice sprig of royalty!--I propose
to tell him what I think of him." Pobloff threw out his chest and
snorted with pride. Again he fancied that he heard suppressed laughter.
He darted glances in every direction, but the fall of distant waters
smote upon his ears like the crepuscular music of Chopin. His companion
shook with ill-suppressed emotion. It was some time before she could
speak.

"Pobloff," she begged, in her dangerous contralto, a contralto like the
medium register of a clarinet, "Pobloff, let me adjure you to be
careful. Your coming here has caused political disturbances. The aunt of
the prince hates music as much as he adores it. She is no party to your
invitation. So be on your guard. Even now there may be spies in the
shrubbery." She put her hand on his arm. It was too much. In an instant,
despite her feeble struggle, the ardent musician grasped the creature
that had tantalized him since morning, and kissed her a dozen times. His
head whirled. Pobloff! Pobloff! a voice cried in his brain--and only
yesterday you left your Luga, your pretty pigeon, your wife!

The girl was dragged away from him. In the moonshine he saw the grinning
Hamet, suspiciously observing him. The runaway stood up and pressed
Pobloff's hand desperately, uttering the cry of her forlorn heart:--

"Don't play in the great hall; don't play in that accursed place. You
will be asked, but refuse. Make any excuse, but do not set foot on its
ebon floors."

He was so confused by the strangeness of this adventure, so confused by
the admonition of the unknown when he saw her white draperies disappear,
that his jaw fell and his courage wavered. A moment later two oddly
caparisoned soldiers, bearing lights, approached, and in the name of her
Highness invited him make midnight music in the Palace of a Thousand
Sounds.


IV

Seated before a Steinway grand pianoforte, an instrument that found its
way to this far-away province through the caprice of some artistic
potentate, Pobloff nervously preluded. Notwithstanding the warning of
the girl, he had allowed himself to be convoyed to the great Hall of
Ebony, and there, quite alone, he sat waiting for some cue to begin.
None came. He glanced curiously about him. For all the signs of humanity
he might as well have been on the heights of Kerb, out among its thorny
groves, or in its immemorial forests. He preluded as he gazed around. He
could see, by the dim light of two flambeaux set in gold sconces, column
after column of blackness receding into inky depths of darkness. A
fringe of light encircled his instrument, and beside him was a gallery,
so vast that it became a gulf of the infinite at a hundred paces. Now,
Pobloff was a brave man. He believed that once upon a time he had peered
into strange crevices of space; what novelty could existence hold for
him after that shuddering experience? Again he looked into the tenebrous
recesses of the hall. He saw nothing, heard nothing.

His fingers went their own way over the keyboard. Finally, following
some latent impulse, they began to shape the opening measures of
Chopin's Second Ballade, the one of the enigmatic tonalities, sometimes
called _The Lake of the Mermaids_. It began with the chanting, childish
refrain, a Lithuanian fairy-tale of old, and as its naïve, drowsy,
lulling measures--the voices of wicked, wooing sirens--sang and sank in
recurrent rhythms, Pobloff heard--this time he was sure--the regular
reverberation of distant footsteps. It was as if the monotonous beat of
the music were duplicated in some sounding mirror, some mirror that
magnified hideously, hideously mimicked the melody. Yet these footfalls
murmured as a sea-shell. Every phrase stood out before the pianist,
exquisitely clear; his brain had only once before harboured such an
exalted mood. There was the expectation of great things coming to pass;
dim rumours of an apocalyptic future, when the glory that never was on
sea or land should rend the veil of the visible and make clear all that
obscures and darkens. The transfiguration which informs the soul of one
taken down in epileptic seizure possessed him. Every cranny of his being
was flooded with overmastering light--and the faint sound of footsteps
marking sinister time to his music, drew closer, closer.

Shaking off an insane desire to join his voice in the immortal choiring
of the Cherubim, Pobloff dashed into the passionate storm-scream of the
music, and like a pack of phantom bloodhounds the footsteps pressed him
in the race. He played as run men from starving wolves in Siberian
wastes. To stop would mean--God! what would it mean? These were no
mortal steps that crowded upon his sonorous trail. His fingers flew
over the keys as he finished the scurrying tempests of tone. Again the
first swaying refrain, and Pobloff heard the invisible multitude of feet
pause in the night, as if waiting the moment when the Ballade would
cease. He quivered; the surprises and terrors were telling upon his
well-seasoned nerves.

Still he sped on, fearing the tremendous outburst at the close, where
Chopin throws overboard his soul, and with blood-red sails signals the
hellish _Willis_, the Lamias of the lake, to his side. Ah, if Pobloff
could but thus portion his soul as hostage to the infernal host that now
hemmed him in on all sides! Riding over the black and white rocks of his
keyboard, he felt as if in the clutches of an unknown force. He
discerned death in the distance--death and the unknown horror--and was
powerless to resist. Still the galloping of unseen feet, horrible, naked
flesh, that clattered and scraped the earth; the panting, hoarse and
subdued, of a mighty pack, whose thirst for destruction, for revenge,
was unslaked. And always the same trampling of human feet! Were they
human? Did not resilient bones tell the tale of brutes viler than men?
The glimmering lights seemed cowed, as they sobbed in vacuity and slowly
expired.

Pobloff no longer asked himself what it meant; he was become a maniac,
pursued by deathless devils. He could have flown to the end of the
universe in this Ballade; but, at last, his heart cracking, head
bursting, face livid, overtaken by the Footsteps of the Missing, he
smashed both fists upon the keys and fell forward despairingly....

       *       *       *       *       *

... The gigantic, noseless negro, the grand vizier himself, sternly
regarded the prince, who stood, torch in hand, near the shattered
pianoforte. The dumb spoke:--

"Let us hope, Exalted Highness, that your masquerades and mystifications
are over forever. To-day's prankish sport may put us to trouble for a
satisfactory explanation." He waved his hand vaguely in the direction of
the prostrate composer. "And hasheesh sometimes maddens for a lifetime!"
He lightly touched the drugged Pobloff with his enormous foot.

The youthful runaway ashamedly lowered his head--in reality he adored
music with all the fulness of his cruel, faunlike nature.



XV

THE CURSORY LIGHT


To this day Pinton could never explain why he looked out of that pantry
window. He had reached his home in a hungry condition. He was tired and
dead broke, so he had resolved to forage. He had listened for two or
three, perhaps five, minutes in the hall of his boarding-house; then he
went, soft-footed, to Mrs. Hallam's pantry on the second floor. He was
sure that it was open, he was equally sure that it contained something
edible on its hospitable shelves. Ah! who has not his bread at midnight
stolen, ye heavenly powers, ye know him not!

Pinton, however, knew one thing, and that was a ravenous desire to sink
his teeth into pie, custard, or even bread. He felt with large, eager
hands along the wall on the pantry side. With feverish joy he touched
the knob--a friendly knob, despite its cold, distant glaze--of the door
he sought.

Pinton gave a tug, and then his heart stopped beating. The door was
locked. Something like a curse, something like a prayer, rose to his
lips, and his arms fell helplessly to his side.

Mrs. Hallam, realizing that it was Saturday night--the predatory night
of the week--had secured her pastry, her confitures, her celebrated
desserts; and so poor Pinton, all his sweet teeth furiously aching, his
mouth watering, stood on the hither side of Paradise, a baffled peri in
pantaloons!

After a pause, full of pain and troublous previsions of a restless,
discontented night, Pinton grew angry and pulled at the knob of the
door, thinking, perhaps, that it might abate a jot of its dignified
resistance. It remained immovable, grimly antagonistic, until his
fingers grew hot and cold as they touched a bit of cold metal.

The key in the lock! In a second it was turned, and the hungry one was
within and restlessly searching and fumbling for food. He felt along the
lower shelves and met apples, oranges, and sealed bottles containing
ruined, otherwise miscalled preserved, fruit. He knelt on the dresser
and explored the upper shelf. Ah, here was richness indeed! Pies, pies,
cakes, pies, frosted cakes, cakes sweating golden, fruity promises, and
cakes as icy as the hand of charity. Pinton was happy, glutton that he
was, and he soon filled the pockets of his overcoat. What Mrs. Hallam
might say in the morning he cared not. Let the galled jade wince, his
breakfast appetite would be unwrung; and then he started violently, lost
his balance, and almost fell to the floor.

Opposite him was the window of the pantry, which faced the wall of the
next house. Pinton had never been in the pantry by daylight, so he was
rudely shocked by the glance of a light--a cursory, moving light. It
showed him a window in the other house and a pair of stairs. It
flickered about an old baluster and a rusty carpet, it came from below,
it mounted upward and was lost to view.

The burglar of pies, the ravisher of cakes, was almost shocked by this
unexpected light. He watched it dancing fantastically on the discoloured
wall of the house; he wondered--ill at ease--if it would flash in his
face. His surmise was realized, for a streak of illumination reached the
narrow chamber in which he cowered, and then he was certain some one was
looking at him. He never budged, for he was too frightened. Suddenly the
light vanished and a head was dimly silhouetted in the window opposite.
It nodded to Pinton. Pinton stared stupidly, and the head disappeared.
The hungry man, his appetite now gone, was numb and terrified.

What did it mean, who was the man? A detective, or a friend of Mrs.
Hallam's in a coign from which the plunderers of her pantry could be
noted? Beady repentance stood out on Pinton's forehead.

And the light came back. This time it was intelligible, for it was a
lantern in the hand of a young man of about thirty. His face was open
and smiling. He wore his hair rather long for an American, and it was
blond and curling.

He surveyed Pinton for a moment, then he said, in a most agreeable
voice:--

"What luck, old pal?"

Pinton dropped his pies, slammed the window, and got to his bedroom as
fast as his nervous legs could carry him. He undressed in a nightmare,
and did not sleep until the early summer sun shot hot shafts of heat
into his chamber.

With a shamed Sabbath face he arose, dressed, and descended to his
morning meal. Mrs. Hallam was sitting in orotund silence, but seemed in
good humour. She asked him casually if he had enjoyed his Saturday
evening, and quite as casually damned the wandering cats that had played
havoc in her pantry. She remarked that leaving windows open was a poor
practice, even if hospitable in appearance, and nervous Mr. Pinton drank
his coffee in silent assent and then hurried off to the church where he
trod the organ pedals for a small salary's sake.

The following Friday was rehearsal night, and the organist left his
choir in a bad humour. His contralto had not attended, and as she was
the only artiste and the only good-looking girl of the lot, Pinton took
it into his head to become jealous. She had not paid the slightest
attention to him, so he could not attribute her absence to a personal
slight; but he felt aggrieved and vaguely irritated.

Pinton's musicianship was not profound. He had begun life as an organ
salesman. He manipulated the cabinet organ for impossible customers in
Wisconsin, and he came to New York because he was offered a better
chance.

The inevitable church position occurred. Then came Zundel voluntaries
and hard pedal practice. At last Mendelssohn's organ sonatas were
reached and with them a call--organists, like pastors, have calls--to a
fashionable church. The salary was fair and Mr. Pinton grew
side-whiskers.

He heard Paderewski play Chopin, and became a crazy lover of the piano.
He hired a small upright and studied finger exercises. He consulted a
thousand books on technic, and in the meantime could not play Czerny's
velocity studies.

He grew thin, and sought the advice of many pianists. He soon found that
pressing your foot on the swell and pulling couplers for tone colour
were not the slightest use in piano playing. Subtle finger pressures,
the unloosening of the muscles, the delicate art of _nuance_, the art
unfelt by many organists, all were demanded of the pianist, and Pinton
almost despaired.

He grew contemptuous of the king of instruments as he essayed the C
major invention of Bach. He sneered at stops and pedals, and believed,
in his foolish way, that all polyphony was bound within the boards of
the Well-Tempered Clavichord. Then the new alto came to the choir, and
Pinton--at being springtide, when the blood is in the joyful
mood--thought that he was in love. He was really athirst.

This Friday evening he was genuinely disappointed and thirsty. He turned
with a sinking heart and parched throat into Pop Pusch's dearly beloved
resort. Earlier in his life he had often solaced himself with the free
lunch that John, the melancholy waiter, had dispensed. Pinton's mind was
a prey to many emotions as he entered the famous old place. He sat down
before a brown table and clamoured for amber beer.

He was not alone at the table. As Pinton put the glass of Pilsner to his
lips he met the gaze of two sardonic eyes. He could not finish his
glass. He returned the look of the other man and then arose, with a
nervous jerk that almost upset the table.

"Sit down, old pal; don't be crazy. I'll never say a word. Sit down, you
fool; don't you see people are looking at you?"

The voice was low, kindly in intonation, but it went through Pinton like
a saw biting its way into wood.

He sat down all in a heap. He knew the eyes; he knew the voice. It was
the owner of the dark lantern--the mysterious man in the other house of
that last Saturday night. Pinton felt as if he were about to become ill.

"Lord, but you are a nervous one!" said the other, most reassuringly.
"Sit still and I'll order brandy. It will settle your stomach."

That brought Pinton to his senses at once.

"No, no, I'll be all right in a moment," he said rather huskily. "I
never drink spirits. Thank you, all the same."

"Don't mention it," said the man, and he tossed off his Würzburger. Each
man stealthily regarded the other. Pinton saw the stranger of the
lantern and staircase. Close by he was handsome and engaging. His hair
was worn like a violin virtuoso's, and his hands were white, delicate,
and well cared for. He spoke first.

"How did you make out on that job?--I don't fancy there was much in it.
Boarding-houses, you know!"

Pinton, every particle of colour leaving his flabby face, asked:--

"What job?"

The stranger looked at him keenly and went on rather ironically:--

"You are the most nervous duck I ever ran across. When I saw you last
your pocket was full of the silver plate of that pantry, and I can thank
you for a fright myself, for when I saw you, I was just getting ready to
crack a neat little crib. Say! why didn't you flash your glim at me or
make some friendly signal at least? You popped out of sight like a
prairie rabbit when a coyote heaves in view."

Pinton felt the ground heave beneath him. What possible job could the
man mean? What was a "glim," and what did the fellow suggest by silver
plate? Then it struck him all of a sudden. Heavens! he was taken for a
burglar by a burglar. His presence in the pie pantry had been
misinterpreted by a cracksman; and he, the harmless organist of Dr.
Bulgerly's church, was claimed as the associate of a dangerous, perhaps
notorious, thief. Pinton's cup of woe overflowed.

He arose, put on his hat, and started to go. The young man grasped his
arm, and said in a most conciliatory fashion:--

"Perhaps I have hurt your sensitive nature. It was far from my intention
to do so. I saluted you at first in the coarse, conventional manner
which is expected by members of our ancient and honourable craft, and if
I have offended you, I humbly beg your pardon."

His accent was that of a cultivated gentleman. Pinton, somewhat assured,
dropped back in his seat, and, John passing by just then, more beer was
ordered.

"Hear me before you condemn me," said the odd young man. "My name is
Blastion and I am a burglar by profession. When I saw you the other
night, at work on the premises next door to me, I was struck by your
refined face. I said to myself: 'At last the profession is being
recruited by gentlemen, men of culture, men of refinement. At last a
profitable, withal risky, pursuit is being dignified, nay, graced, by
the proper sort of person.' And I saluted you in a happy, haphazard
fashion, and then you flew the coop. Pardon my relapse into the
vernacular."

Pinton felt that it was time to speak.

"Pardon me, if I interrupt you, Mr. Blastion; but I fear we are not
meeting on equal ground. You take me for a--for a man of your
profession. Indeed, sir, you are mistaken. When you discovered me last
Saturday night I was in the pantry of Mrs. Hallam, my boarding-house
keeper, searching for pie. I am not a burglar--pardon my harsh
expression; I am, instead, an organist by profession."

The pallor of the burglar's countenance testified to the gravity of his
feeling. He stared and blushed, looked apprehensively at the various
groups of domino players in the back room, then, pulling himself
together, he beckoned to melancholy John, and said:--

"Johann, two more beers, please. Yes?"

Pinton became interested. There was something appealing in the signal
the man flashed from his eyes when he realized that he had unbosomed
himself to a perfect stranger, and not to a member of his beloved guild.
The organist put his hand on the man's arm and said--faint memories of
flatulent discourses from the Reverend Bulgerly coming to his aid: "Be
not alarmed, my friend. I will not betray you. I am a musician, but I
respect art ever, even when it reveals itself in manifold guises."

Pinton felt that he was a man of address, a fellow of some wit; his
confidential and rather patronizing pose moved his companion, who slyly
grimaced.

"So you are an organist and not a member of the noble Knights of the
Centrebit and Jimmy?" he asked rather sarcastically.

"Yes," admitted Pinton, "I am an organist, and an organist who would
fain become a pianist." The other started.

"I am a pianist myself, and yet I cannot say that I would like to play
the organ."

"You are a pianist?" said Pinton, in a puzzled voice.

"Well, why not? I studied in Paris, and I suppose my piano technic stood
me in good stead in my newer profession. Just look at my hands if you
doubt my word."

Aghast, the organist examined the shapely hands before him. Without
peradventure of a doubt they were those of a pianist, an expert pianist,
and one who had studied assiduously. He was stupefied. A burglar and a
pianist! What next?

Mr. Blastion continued his edifying remarks: "Yes, I studied very hard.
I was born in the Southwest, and went to Paris quite young. I had good
fingers and was deft at sleight-of-hand tricks. I could steal a
handkerchief from a rabbi--which is saying volumes--and I played all the
Chopin études before I was fifteen. At twenty-one I knew twenty-five
concertos from memory, and my great piece was the _Don Juan Fantasy_.
Oh, I was a wonder! When Liszt paid his last visit to Paris I played
before him at the warerooms of the Pleyels.

"Monsieur Théodore Ritter was anxious for his old master to hear such a
pupil. I assure you there must be some congenital twist of evil in me,
for I couldn't for the life of me forbear picking the old fellow's
pockets and lifting his watch. Now don't look scandalized, Mr. ---- eh?
Oh! thank you very much, Mr. Pinton. If you are born that way, all the
punishments and preachments--excuse the alliteration--will not stand in
your way as a warning. I have done time--I mean I have served several
terms of imprisonment, but luckily not for a long period. I suffered
most by my incarceration in not having a piano. Not even a dumb keyboard
was allowed, and I practised the Jackson finger exercises in the air and
thus kept my fingers limber. On Saturdays the warden allowed me, as a
special favour, to practise on the cabinet organ--an odious
instrument--so as to enable me to play on Sundays in chapel. Of course
no practice was needed for the wretched music we poor devils howled once
a week, but I gained one afternoon in seven for study by my ruse.

"Oh, the joy of feeling the ivory--or bone--under my expectant fingers!
I played all the Chopin, Henselt, and Liszt études on the miserable
keyboard of the organ. Yes, of course, without wind. It was, I assure
you, a truly spiritual consolation. You can readily imagine if a man has
been in the habit of practising all day, even if he does 'burgle' at
night, that to be suddenly deprived of all instrumental resources is a
bitter blow."

Pinton stuttered out an affirmative response. Then both arose after
paying their checks, and the organist shook the burglar's hand at the
corner, after first exacting a promise that Blastion should play for him
some morning.

"With pleasure, my boy. You're a gentleman and an artist, and I trust
you absolutely." And he walked away, whistling with rare skill the D
flat valse of Chopin.

"You can trust me, I swear!" Pinton called after him, and then went
unsteadily homeward, full of generous resolves and pianistic ambitions.
As he intermittently undressed he discovered, to his rage and amazement,
that both his purse and watch had disappeared. The one was well filled;
the other, gold. Blastion's technic had proved unimpeachable.



XVI

AN IRON FAN


Effinghame waited for Dr. Arn in the study, a small chamber crowded with
the contents of the universe--so it seemed to the visitor. There was a
table unusual in size, indeed, big enough to dissect a body thereon. It
was littered with books and medical publications and was not very
attractive. The walls were covered with original drawings of famous
Japanese masters, and over the fireplace hung a huge fan, dull gray in
colouring, with long sandalwood spokes. Not a noteworthy example of
Japanese art, thought Effinghame, as he glanced without marked curiosity
at its neutral tinting, though he could not help wondering why the
cunning artificers of the East had failed to adorn the wedge-shaped
surfaces of this fan with their accustomed bold and exquisite
arabesques.

He impatiently paced the floor. His friend had told him to come at nine
o'clock in the evening. It was nearly ten. Then he began to finger
things. He fumbled the papers in the desk. He examined the two Japanese
swords--light as ivory, keen as razors. He stared at each of the prints,
at Hokusai, Toyokimi, Kuniyoshi, Kiyonaga, Kiosai, Hiroshighé, Utamaro,
Oukoyo-Yé,--the doctor's taste was Oriental. And again he fell to
scrutinizing the fan. It was large, ugly, clumsy. What possessed Arn to
place such a sprawling affair over his mantel? Tempted to touch it, he
discovered that it was as silky as a young bat's wing. At last, his
curiosity excited, he lifted it with some straining to the floor. What
puzzled him was its weight. He felt its thin ribs, its soft, paper-like
material, and his fingers chilled as they closed on the two outermost
spokes. They were of metal, whether steel or iron he could not
determine. A queer fan this, far too heavy to stir the air, and--

Effinghame held the fan up to the light. He had perceived a shadowy
figure in a corner. It resolved itself into a man's head--bearded,
scowling, crowned with thorns or sunbeams. It was probably a Krishna.
But how came such a face on a Japanese fan? The type was Oriental,
though not Mongolian, rather Semitic. It vaguely recalled to Effinghame
a head and face he had seen in a famous painting. But where and by whom?
It wore a vile expression, the eyes mean and revengeful; there was a
cruel mouth and a long, hooked, crafty nose. The forehead was lofty,
even intellectual, and bore its thorns--yes, he was sure they were
thorns--like a conqueror. Just then Dr. Arn entered and laughed when he
saw the other struggling with the fan.

"My _Samurai_ fan!" he exclaimed, in his accustomed frank tones; "how
did you discover it so soon?"

"You've kept me here an hour. I had to do something," answered the
other, sulkily.

"There, there, I apologize. Sit down, old man. I had a very sick patient
to-night, and I feel worn out. I'll ring for champagne." They talked
about trifling personal matters, when suddenly Effinghame asked:--

"Why _Samurai_? I had supposed this once belonged to some prehistoric
giant who could waft it as do ladies their bamboo fans, when they brush
the dust from old hearts--as the Spanish poet sang."

"That fan is interesting enough," was the doctor's reply. "When a
_Samurai_, one of the warrior caste Japanese, was invited to the house
of a doubtful friend, he carried this fan as a weapon of defence.
Compelled to leave his two swords behind a screen, he could close this
fighting machine and parry the attack of his hospitable enemy until he
reached his swords. Just try it and see what a formidable weapon it
would prove." He took up the fan, shut it, and swung it over his head.

"Look out for the bottles!" cried Effinghame.

"Never fear, old chap. And did you notice the head?"

"That's what most puzzled me."

"No wonder. I too was puzzled--until I found the solution. And it took
me some years--yes, all the time you were in Paris learning how to
paint and live." He paused, and his face became gloomy.

"Well--well?"

"There is no well. It's a damned bad fan, that iron one, and I don't
mind saying so to you."

"Superstitious--you! Where is your Haeckel, your Wundt, your Weismann?
Do you still believe in the infallibility of the germ-plasm? Has the fan
brought you ill-luck? The fact is, Arn, ever since your return from
China you've been a strange bird!" It was Effinghame's turn to laugh.

"Don't say another word." The doctor was vivacious in a moment and
poured out wine. They both lighted cigars. Slowly puffing, Arn took up
the fan and spread it open.

"See here! That head, as you must have noticed, is not Japanese. It's
Jewish. Do you recall the head of Judas painted by Da Vinci in his Last
Supper? Now isn't this old scoundrel's the exact duplicate--well, if not
exact, there is a very strong resemblance." Effinghame looked and
nodded.

"And what the devil is it doing on a fan of the _Samurai_? It's not
caprice. No Japanese artist ever painted in that style or ever expressed
that type. I thought the thing out and came to the conclusion--"

"Yes--yes! What conclusion?" eagerly interrupted his listener.

"To the conclusion that I could never unravel such a knotty question
alone." Effinghame was disappointed.

"So I had recourse to an ally--to the fan itself," blandly added Arn, as
he poured out more wine.

"The fan?"

"Precisely--the fan. I studied it from tip to tip, as our bird-shooting
friends say, and I, at last, discovered more than a picture. You know I
am an Orientalist. When I was at Johns Hopkins University I attended the
classes of the erudite Blumenfeld, and what you can't learn from
him--need I say any more? One evening I held the fan in front of a vivid
electric light and at once noticed serried lines. These I deciphered
after a long time. Another surprise. They were Chinese characters of a
remotely early date--Heaven knows how many dynasties back! Now what, you
will ask, is Chinese doing on a _Samurai_ fighting fan! I don't know. I
never shall know. But I do know that this fan contains on one side of it
the most extraordinary revelation ever vouchsafed mankind, particularly
Christian mankind." Excited by his own words, Arn arose.

"Effinghame, my dear fellow, I know you have read Renan. If Renan had
seen the communication on this iron fan, he would have never written his
life of the Messiah." His eyes blazed.

"Why, what do you mean?"

"I mean that it might have been a life of Judas Iscariot."

"Good God, man, are you joking?" ejaculated Effinghame.

"I mean," sternly pursued Arn, "that if De Quincey had studied this
identical fan, the opium-eater would have composed another gorgeous
rhetorical plea for the man preëlected to betray his Saviour, the
apostle who spilt the salt." He sat down and breathed heavily.

"Go on! Go on!"

"Shall I relate the history upon the fan?" And without waiting for an
answer he began at the left of the fan and slowly read to the right:--

     I who write this am called Moâ the Bonze. What I write of I
     witnessed in a walled city of Judea. I travelled there attracted by
     the report of miraculous happenings brought about by the magic art
     of a youthful barbarian called Ieshua. The day I arrived in the
     city they had sentenced the wise man to death by crucifixion. I was
     disappointed. I had come many moons and many leagues from the
     Yellow Kingdom to see something rare. I was too late. The magician,
     whom his disciples called a god, had been executed. I tarried a few
     days in the city. After many questions put to beggars and outcasts,
     I heard that a certain woman of rank had a portrait of Ieshua. I
     called and without hesitation asked her to show me this picture.
     She was an exalted soul. She wept bitter tears as she drew from a
     secret cabinet a scarf upon which was imprinted a bloody image. She
     continued to weep as I made a copy of the head. I confess I was not
     impressed. The face was bearded and ugly. The new god was said to
     have been as fair as the sun. And I told the woman this. She only
     wept the more.

     "If he were a god," I asked, "where are outward evidences?" She
     became frantic.

     "The real man!" she cried; "_this_ one died for the man he
     betrayed," and again fell to lamenting. Seeing I could gain nothing
     more from her, I left, wondering at the strange heretics I had
     encountered. I went back to my country and after weaving this tale
     and painting the head, there awaited the fifth Buddha, the
     successor to Siddartha, whose coming has been predicted.

Arn's voice ceased. There was silence in the chamber. Then Effinghame
started up and fiercely growled:--

"What do _you_ make of it, Arn?"

"Isn't it clear enough? There's been a frightful error somewhere, one of
incalculable consequences. A tremendous act of heroism has been
committed by a man whose name has been universally execrated through the
ages. Perhaps he repented at the eleventh hour and by some means
impersonated his betrayed friend; perhaps--"

"But that _other_ body found in the blasted field of Aceldama!"
demanded the agitated Effinghame. Dr. Arn did not answer.

After a lugubrious pause, he whispered:--

"There's more to follow. You haven't heard the worst."

"What--more! I thought your damnable old Bonze died in the odour of
sanctity over there in his Yellow Kingdom."

"True. He died. But before he died he recorded a vision he had. It is
inscribed on the other side of the fan."

Effinghame's features lengthened.

"Still the same fan."

"The same. Here is what it prophesies." Reversing the clumsy fan, Arn
again read:--

     Before I pass over into Nirvana I must relate what I saw in the
     country of the Christians. It was not a dream. It was too real. And
     yet it is to be, for it has not yet happened. The Campagna was now
     become a shallow lake from the sea almost to the Sabine Mountains.
     What had been Rome was a black waste spot, full of stones and
     weeds. And no two stones stood together. Ah! our war with the white
     races had been successful. We had not used their fighting machines,
     as did that nation of little brown men, the Japanese. The Chinese
     were too sage. They allowed the Christians to exterminate the
     Japanese; but when they attacked us and attempted to rob us of our
     land, we merely resorted to our old-time weapon--the Odour-Death.
     With it we smothered their armies, sunk their navies, swept through
     their countries like the simoon. The awful secret of the
     Odour-Death is one that has been ours from the beginning of time.
     Known only to the College of Bonzes, it was never used except in
     extreme peril. Its smell is more revolting in its consequences than
     the Black Plague. It ravaged the earth.

     I sat in a flat-bottomed boat, enjoying the soft melancholy Italian
     evening. Not a human did I see; nor had I encountered one on my
     slow voyage from the Middle Seas. In meditation I pondered the
     ultimate wisdom of Confucius and smiled at the folly of the white
     barbarians who had tried to show us a new god, a new religion. At
     last they, too, had succumbed like the nations before their era.
     The temple of Jupiter on the Capitol had fallen, so had the holy
     temple of Jerusalem. And now St. Peter's. Their central religion
     had been destroyed, and yet prophecies of the second coming of
     their divinity had not been accomplished. When the last Pope of
     Rome dies, so it was said, then time would be accomplished. The
     last Pope _had_ died. Their basilica with its mighty dome was a
     desert where scorpions and snakes abounded. The fifth Buddha would
     appear, not the second Christos. Suddenly I saw before me in a puny
     boat a beautiful beardless youth. He was attired in some symbolical
     garments and upon his head a triple tiara. I could not believe my
     aged eyes. He sat upright. His attitude was hieratic. His eyes
     were lifted heavenwards. He clasped his hands and prayed:--

     "O Lord, remove thy servant. The time is at hand foretold by thy
     slaughtered saints. I am the last Pope and the humblest of thy
     servants. Though the heathen hath triumphed upon the earth, I go to
     thy bosom, for all things are now accomplished." And he tumbled
     forward, dead. The last Pope! I had seen him. Nothing could happen
     after that.

     And as I turned my boat in the direction of the sea a moaning came
     upon the waters. The sky became as brass. A roar, like the rending
     asunder of the firmament, caused my soul to expand with horror and
     joy. Yes, time _was_ accomplished. The last Pope had uttered the
     truth. Eternity was nigh. But the Buddha would now prove to the
     multitudes awakened from their long sleep that _He_, not other
     gods, was the true, the only God. In a flare of light sounded the
     trumpets of destiny; eternity unrolled before me, and on the vast
     plain I saw the bones of the buried dead uniting, as men and women
     from time's beginnings arose in an army, the number whereof is
     unthinkable. And oh! abomination of desolation, the White Horse,
     not _Kalki_ the tenth incarnation of Vishnu, but the animal
     foretold in _their_ Apocalypse, came through the lightnings, and in
     the whirlwinds of flame and thunder I saw the shining face of Him,
     the Son of Man! Where our Buddha? Alas! the last Pope spake truth.
     I, Moâ the Bonze, tell you this ere it be too late to repent your
     sins and forswear your false gods. The Galilean is our master....

"_Farceur!_ Do you know what I would do with that accursed fan? I'd
destroy it, sell it, get rid of it somehow. Or else--" Effinghame
scrutinized the doctor, whose eyes were closed--"or else I would return
to the pious practices of my old religion." No smile crossed the face of
his friend as he firmly held the fighting fan, the iron and mystical fan
of the _Samurai_.



XVII

THE WOMAN WHO LOVED CHOPIN


I

When Marco Davos left Ischl on the midday train, that picturesque,
huddled Austrian watering-place was stuffy. He was surprised then most
pleasantly by the coolness of Aussee, further down the line in the
direction of Vienna. Ischl is not a bad place, but it lies, as the
natives say, smothered in a kettle. He rode over from the station to the
stadt park, where the band was playing. There he dismounted, for he was
going further--Aussee is not very interesting, but it principally serves
as a good starting-point for trips to many of the charming lakes with
which Styria is dotted. After asking his way, Davos passed the swimming
baths, and keeping on the left bank of a tiny stream, he presently found
himself walking through an earthly paradise. Since his advent in Ischl,
where he drank the waters and endeavoured to quiet his overtaxed nerves,
he had made up his mind to visit Alt-Aussee; several Viennese friends
had assured him that this hamlet, beneath a terrific precipice and on
the borders of a fairy-like lake, would be well worth the while.

It was a relief to breathe the thinner mountain air, and the young
artist inhaled it with satisfaction, his big hat in hand, his long curly
black hair flowing in the gentle breeze. He found himself in tunnels of
verdure, the sunlight shut off by the heavy leafage; then the path
debouched into the open and, skirting closely the rocky wall, it widened
into an island of green where a shady pagoda invited. He sat down for a
few minutes and congratulated himself that he had escaped the intimate
discomforts of the omnibus he discerned on the opposite bank, packed
with stout people. This was the third week of his vacation, one enforced
by a nerve specialist in the Austrian capital, and for the first time
Davos felt almost cheerful. Perhaps the absolute hush of the country and
the purity of the atmosphere, with its suggestion of recent rain,--the
skies weep at least once a day in the Salzkammergut region,--proved a
welcome foil to fashionable Ischl, with its crowds, its stiffness, its
court ceremonial--for the emperor enjoys his _villegiatura_ there. And
Davos was sick and irritable after a prolonged musical season. He had
studied the pianoforte with Rosenthal, and his success, from his début,
had been so unequivocal that he played too much in public. There was a
fiery particle in his interpretations of Chopin, Schumann, and Liszt
that proclaimed the temperament, if not the actual possession, of
genius. Still in his early manhood--he was only twenty--the maturity of
his musical intelligence and the poetry of his style created havoc in
impressionable hearts. With his mixed blood, Hungarian and Italian,
Marco Davos' performance of romantic composers was irresistible; in it
there was something of Pachmann's wayward grace and Paderewski's
plangency, but with an added infusion of gypsy wildness which evoked for
old concert-goers memories of Liszt the brilliant rhapsodist.

But he soon overpaid the score presented by the goddess Fortune--his
nerves were sadly jangled. A horror of the human face obsessed his
waking and sleeping hours; he dreamed of colossal countenances with
threatening eyes, a vast composite of the audiences he nightly faced. As
his popularity increased the waning of his self-respect told him that he
must go into retreat, anywhere out of the musical world--else would his
art suffer. It did suffer. The nervous diffidence, called stage-fright,
which had never assailed his supreme self-balance, intruded its
unwelcome presence. Marco, several months after he had discovered all
these mischievous symptoms, the maladies of artistic adolescence, was
not assured when the critics hinted of them--the public would surely
follow suit in a few weeks. Then came the visit to the learned Viennese
doctor and the trip to Ischl. A few more months of this appalling
absorption in his own personality, this morbid marriage of man to his
own image, and he suspected that his brain would be irretrievably
injured.

He was a curious student of matters psychologic as well as musical. A
friendly laboratory had inducted him into many biologic mysteries.
Particularly fascinating to him was the tactile sense, that sense of
touch wherewith man acquaints himself with this earth-clot swimming in
space. Davos contemplated the tips of his fingers as he sat in the
grateful cool, his ten voices as he named them. With them he sang,
thundered, and thought upon the keyboard of his grand piano-forte. A
miracle, indeed, these slender cushions of fat, ramified by a network of
nerves, sinews, and bones as exquisite in their mechanism as the motion
of the planets. If hearing is a miracle, so is touch; the ear is not a
resonator, as has been so long maintained, but an apparatus which
records variations of pressure. This makes it subservient to the laws of
sensation; touch and hearing are akin. It aroused the pride of Davos
after he had read the revolutionary theories of Pierre Bounier regarding
the touch. So subtle could the art of touch be cultivated, the pianist
believed, that the blind could _feel_ colour on the canvas of the
painter. He spent weeks experimenting with a sensitive manometer,
gauging all the scale of dynamics. No doubt these fumblings on the edge
of a new science temporarily hurt his play. With a dangerous joy he
pressed the keys of his instrument, endeavouring to achieve more
delicate shadings. He quarrelled with the piano manufacturers for their
obstinate adherence to the old-fashioned clumsy action; everything had
been improved but the keyboard--that alone was as coldly unresponsive
and inelastic as a half-century ago. He had fugitive dreams of wires
that would vibrate like a violin. The sounding-board of a pianoforte is
too far from the pianist, while the violinist presses his strings as one
kisses the beloved. Little wonder it is the musical monarch. A new
pianoforte, with passionately coloured overtones, that could sob like a
violoncello, sing like a violin, and resound with the brazen clangours
of the orchestra--Liszt had conceived this synthesis, had by the sheer
force of his audacious genius compelled from his instrument ravishing
tones that were never heard before or--alas!--since.

Even the antique harpsichord had its compensations; not so powerful in
its tonal capacity, it nevertheless gave forth a pleading, human quality
like the still small angelic voice. Davos pondered these problems,
pondered Chopin's celestial touch and the weaving magic of his many-hued
poems; Chopin--Keats, Shelley, and Heine battling within the walls of a
frail tender soul.

The sound of footsteps and voices aroused him. He shivered with disgust.
More people! Two men, well advanced in life, followed by two women,
barely attracted his notice, until he saw that the little creature who
waddled at the rear of the party was a Japanese in European clothes.
Notwithstanding her western garb, she resembled a print of Utamaro.
Beside her walked a tall, grave girl, with dark hair and gray eyes,
attired in the quaint garb of some early nineteenth-century epoch--1840
or thereabouts. As old-fashioned as she looked, a delicate girlish
beauty was hers, and when she indifferently gazed at Davos, straightway
he heard humming in his head the "glance motive" from Tristan and
Isolde. They passed on, but not leaving him as he was before; a voice
whispered in the secret recesses of his being: "You love! Follow! Seek
her!" And under the sudden impulsion of this passion he arose and made a
few steps toward the curve of the path around which the girl and her
companions had disappeared. The absurdity of this hasty translation into
action of his desire halted him. Yes, his nerves must be in a bad way if
a casual encounter with a pretty woman--but was she pretty? He did not
return to his seat. He continued his stroll leisurely. Pretty! Not
exactly pretty--distinguished! Noble! Lovely! Beautiful! He smiled. Here
he was playing the praises of the unknown in double octaves. He did not
overtake her. She had vanished on the other side of the bridge, and in a
few minutes he found himself entering Alt-Aussee. It wore a bright
appearance, with its various-coloured villas on the lake shores, and its
church and inn for a core. The garden of this hotel he found to be
larger than he had imagined; it stretched along the bank and only
stopped as if stone and mortar had been too lazy to go farther.

Again he hesitated. The garden, the _restauration_--full of people:
women knitting, children bawling, men reading; and all sipping coffee to
a background of gossip. He remembered that it was the sacred hour of
_Kaffeeklatsch_, and he would have escaped by a flight of steps that led
down to the beach, but he was hailed. A company of a half-dozen sat at a
large table under the trees, and the host was an orchestral conductor
well known to Davos. There was no alternative. He took a chair. He was
introduced as the celebrated pianoforte-virtuoso to men and women he had
never seen before, and hoped--so rancorous was his mood--never to see
again. A red-headed girl from Brooklyn, who confessed that she thought
Maeterlinck the name of some new Parisian wickedness, further bothered
him with questions about piano teachers. No, he didn't give lessons! He
never would! She dropped out of the conversation. Finally by an effort
he swore that his head was splitting, that he must return to Ischl. He
broke away. When he discovered that the crowd was also bound for the
same place, he abruptly disappeared. It took him just two hours to
traverse the irregular curves of the lake on the Franz Carl Promenade,
and he ate his dinner in peace at the inn upon a balcony that projected
over the icy waters.

Davos decided, as he smoked a mild cigarette, that he would remain at
Alt-Aussee for the night. The peace of the landscape purified his soul
of its irritability, though he wished that the Dachstein would not
dominate so persistently the sky-line--it was difficult to avoid the
view of this solitary and egotistic peak, the highest in Styria. He was
assigned a comfortable chamber, but the night was too fine for bed. He
did not feel sleepy, and he went along the road he had come by; the
church was an opaque mass, the spire alone showing in the violet
twilight, like some supernatural spar on a ship far out at sea. He
attempted to conjure to his tired brain the features, the expression, of
the girl. They would not reappear; his memory was traitorous.

The murmur of faint music, piano music, made his ears wince--how he
hated music! But afar as were these tonal silhouettes, traced against
the evening air, his practised hearing told him that they were made by
an artist. He languidly followed the clue, and soon he was at the gate
of a villa, almost buried in the bosk, and listening with all his
critical attention to a thrilling performance--yes, thrilling was the
word--of Chopin's music. What! The last movement of the B flat minor
sonata, the funeral march sonata, but no more like the interpretation he
had heard from others--from himself--than--than....

But, good heavens! _Who_ was playing! The unison passages that mount and
recede were iridescent columns of mist painted by the moonlight and
swaying rhythmically in the breeze. Here was something rare. No longer
conscious of the technical side of the playing, so spiritualized was it,
so crystalline the touch, Davos forgot his manners and slipped through
the gateway, through the dark garden, toward an open window in which
burned a solitary candle. The mystery of this window and the quicksilver
dartings of the music--gods, what a touch, what gossamer delicacy!--set
his heart throbbing. He forgot his sick nerves. When the trumpet blows,
the war-horse lusts for action--and this was not a trumpet, but a horn
of elf-land. He moved as closely as he dared to the window, and the
music ceased--naturally enough, the movement had concluded. His ears
burned with the silence. _She_ came to the window. Arrested by the
vision--the casement framed her in a delicious manner--he did not stir.
She could not help seeing this intruder, the light struck him full in
the face. She spoke:--

"Dear Mr. Davos, won't you come into the house? My father and my uncle
will be most happy to receive you."

       *       *       *       *       *

She knew him! Stunned by his overstrung emotions, he could only bow his
head.


II

He received the welcome of a king. The two men he had seen earlier in
the day advanced ceremoniously and informed him that the honour of his
presence was something they had never hoped for; that--as news flies
swiftly in villages--they had heard he was at Alt-Aussee; they had
recognized the _great_ Marco Davos on the road. These statements were
delivered with exaggerated courtesy, though possibly sincere. The elder
of the pair was white-whiskered, very tall and spare, his expression a
sadly vague one. It was her father. The other an antique person, a
roly-poly fellow who chuckled and quavered, was her uncle. Davos sat in
a drawing-room containing a grand pianoforte, a few chairs, and couches.
The floor was stained, and when a cluster of lights was brought by the
uncle, he noticed that only Chopin portraits hung on the walls. He
apologized for his intrusion--the music had lured him from the highroad.

"We are very musical," said the father.

"I should say so," reiterated his brother-in-law.

"Musical!" echoed Davos. "Do you call it by such an everyday phrase? I
heard the playing of a marvellous poet a moment ago." The two men looked
shyly at each other. She entered. He was formally presented.

"Monsieur Davos, this is Constantia Grabowska, my daughter. My name is
Joseph Grabowski; my late wife's brother, Monsieur Pelletier." Davos
was puzzled by the name, Constantia Grabowska! She sat before him,
dressed in black silk with crinoline; two dainty curls hung over her
ears; her profile, her colouring, were slightly Oriental, and in her
nebulous gray eyes with their greenish light there was eternal youth.
Constantia! Polish. And how she played Chopin--ah! it came to him before
he had finished his apologies.

"You are named after Chopin's first love," he ejaculated. "Pardon the
liberty." She answered him in her grave, measured contralto.

"Constantia Gladowska was my grandmother." The playing, the portraits,
were now explained. A lover of the Polish composer, Davos knew every
incident of his biography.

"I am the son of that Joseph Grabowski, the Warsaw merchant who married
the soprano singer, Constantia Gladowska, in 1832," said the father,
smilingly. "My father became blind."

"Chopin's _Ideal_!" exclaimed Marco. He was under the spell of the
girl's beauty and music. He almost stared at her, for the knowledge that
she was a great artiste, perhaps greater than himself, rather dampened
his passion. She was adorable as she returned without coquetry his
ardent gaze; but she was--he had to admit it--a rival. This composite
feeling he inwardly wrestled with as the conversation placidly
proceeded. They only spoke of Poland, of Chopin. Once the name of
Emilia Plater, the Polish Joan of Arc, was mentioned--she, too, was a
distant connection. The young pianist hinted that more music would be
agreeable, but there was no response. He was quite alone with
Constantia, and they talked of Poland's tone-poet. She knew much more of
Chopin than he did, and she recited Mickïewicz's patriotic poems with
incomparable verve.

"Do you believe in heredity?" he cried, as the father entered with the
tea. "Do you believe that your love of Chopin is inherited? Chopin
composed that wonderful slow movement of the F minor concerto because of
his love for your grandmother. How I wish I could have seen her, heard
her."

The girl, without answering him, detached from her neck a large brooch
and chain. Davos took it and amazedly compared the portrait with the
living woman.

"You _are_ Constantia Gladowska." She smiled.

"Her love of Chopin--she must have loved her youthful adorer--has been
transmitted to you. Oh, please play me that movement again, the one
Rubinstein called 'the night wind sweeping over the churchyard graves.'"
Constantia blushed so deeply that he knew he had offended her. She had
for him something of the pathos of old dance music--its stately
sweetness, its measured rhythms. After drinking a cup of tea he drifted
to the instrument--flies do not hanker after honey as strongly as do
pianists in the presence of an open keyboard. A tactful silence ensued.
He began playing, and, as if exasperated at the challenge implied by her
refusal, he played in his old form. Then he took the theme of Chopin's E
flat minor Scherzo, and he juggled with it, spun it into fine fibres of
tone, dashed it down yawning and serried harmonic abysses. He was
magnificent as he put forth all the varied resources of his art.
Constantia, her cheeks ablaze, her lips parted, interposed a fan between
her eyes and the light. There was something dangerous and passionate in
her regard. In all the fury of his play he knew that he had touched her.
Once, during a pause, he heard her sigh. As he finished in a thunderous
crash he saw in the doorway the figure of the Japanese maid--an ugly,
gnarled idol with slitted eyes. She withdrew when he arose to receive
the unaffected homage of his hosts. He was curious. Monsieur Pelletier,
who looked like a Brazilian parrot in beak and hue, cackled:--

"That's Cilli, our Japanese. She was born in Germany, and is my niece's
governess. Quite musical, too, I should say so. Just look at my two
Maltese cats! I call them Tristan and Isolde because they make noises in
the night. Don't you _loathe_ Wagner?"

It was time to go. Enamoured, Davos took his leave, promising to call
the next forenoon before he went back to Ischl. He held her fingers for
a brief moment and longed to examine their tips,--the artist still
struggled to subdue the man,--but the pressure he received was so
unmistakable that he hurried away, fearing to betray his emotion. He
hovered in the vicinity of the house, longing for more music. He was
disappointed. For a full hour he wandered through the dusty lanes in the
faded light of an old moon. When he reached his chamber, it was long
past one o'clock; undaunted, his romantic fervour forced him to the
window, and he watched the shining lake. He fell asleep thinking of
Constantia. But he dreamed of Cilli, the Japanese maid with the hideous
eyes.


III

Not only that morning, but every morning for two weeks, did Marco Davos
visit Alt-Aussee. He came down from Ischl on the earliest train, and
some nights he stopped at the hotel near his new friends. After a few
visits he saw little of the father and uncle, and he was not sorry--they
were old bores with their archaic anecdotes of dead pianists. Two
maniacs on the subject of music, Davos wished them to the devil after he
had known them twenty-four hours. His passion had reached the acute key.
He could not eat or drink in normal fashion, and no sooner had he left
the girl than the sky became sombre, his pulse weakened, and he longed
to return to her side to tell her something he had forgotten. He did
this several times, and hesitated in his speech, reddened, and left her,
stumbling over the grass like a lame man. Never such a crazy wooer,
never a calmer maiden. She looked unutterable sentiment, but spoke it
not.

When he teased her about her music, she became a statue. She was too
timid to play before artists; her only master had been her father. Once
more he had heard the piano as he returned unexpectedly, and almost
caught her; he saw her at the instrument, but some instinct must have
warned her that she was being spied upon. She stopped in the middle of a
phrase from a Mendelssohn song, and even to his prejudiced ears her
touch had seemed commonplace. Yet he loved her all the more despite her
flat refusal to play. The temptation to his excited artistic temperament
was removed. He played, often, gloriously. His nerves were steel. This
was a cure his doctor had not foreseen. What did it matter, anyhow?--he
was near Constantia daily, and the sunshine was royal. Only--why did her
relatives absent themselves so obstinately! She told him, with her
secret smile, that she had scolded them for talking so much; but when he
played they were never far away, she assured him. Nor was the Japanese
woman, Cilli--what a name! A nickname given by Constantia in her
babyhood. Cilli was a good soul. He hoped so--her goodness was not
apparent. She had a sneering expression as he played. He never looked up
from the keyboard that he did not encounter her ironical gaze. She was
undoubtedly interested. Her intensity of pose proved it; but there was
no sympathy in her eyes. And she had a habit of suddenly appearing in
door or window, and always behind her mistress. She ended by seriously
annoying him, though he did not complain. It was too trivial.

One afternoon he unfolded his novel views on touch. If the action of the
modern pianoforte could be made as sensitive in its response as the
fingerboard of a fiddle.... Constantia listened with her habitual
gravity, but he knew that she was bored. Then he shifted to the subject
of fingers. He begged to be allowed the privilege of examining hers. At
first she held back, burying her hand in the old Mechlin lace flounce of
her sleeves. He coaxed. He did not attempt to conceal his chagrin when
he finally saw her fingers. They were pudgy, good-humoured, fit to lift
a knife and fork, or to mend linen. They did not match her cameo-like
face, and above all they did not reveal the musical soul he knew her to
possess. For the first time since he met her she gave evidence of ill
humour. She sharply withdrew her hand from his, and as she did so a
barbaric croon was heard, a sort of triumphant wailing, and Constantia,
without making an excuse, hurriedly left the room. The singing stopped.

"It's that devil of a Japanese woman," he muttered testily. He waited
for nearly an hour, and in a vile temper took up his hat and stick and
went away. Decidedly this was his unlucky day, he grumbled, as he
reached the water. He saw Grabowski and Pelletier, arm in arm, trudging
toward the villa, but contrived to evade them. In ten minutes he found
himself spying on the house he had quitted. He skirted a little private
way back of the villa, and to his amazement father, uncle, and
Constantia came out and hailed the omnibus which travelled hourly to
Aussee. Davos was furious. He did not risk following them, for he
realized he had been treated shabbily. His wrath softened as he
reflected; perhaps Constantia, agitated by his rudeness,--had he been
rude?--persuaded her family to follow him to Ischl. The sky cleared.
That was the solution--Marco Davos straightened himself--his pride was
no longer up in arms. Poor child--she was so easily wounded! How he
loved her!

His body trembled. He could not believe he was awake. Incredible music
was issuing from behind the closed blinds of the villa. Music! And the
music he had overheard that first night. But Constantia had just gone
away; he had seen her. There must be some mistake, some joke. No, no, by
another path she had managed to get back to the house. Ay! but what
playing. Again came that purling rush of notes, those unison passages,
as if one gigantic hand grasped them--so perfect was the tonal accord.
He did not hesitate. At a bound he was in the corridor and pushed open
the door of the drawing-room....

At first the twilighted room blinded him. Then to his disgust and terror
he saw the apelike features of the squat Japanese governess. She sat at
the piano, her bilious skin flushed by the exertion of playing.

"You--you!" he barely managed to stammer. She did not reply, but
preserved the immobility of a carved idol.

"You are a wonderful artiste," he blurted, going to her. She stolidly
answered:--

"The Japanese have the finest sense of touch in the world. I was once a
pupil of Karl Tausig." Involuntarily he bowed his head to the revered
name of the one man he had longed to hear. Then his feelings almost
strangled him; his master passion asserted itself.

"Your fingers, your fingers--let me see them," he hoarsely demanded.
With a malicious grin she extended her hands--he groaned enviously. Yes,
they were miracles of sculpture, miracles of colour and delicacy, the
slender tips well-nigh prehensile in their cunning power. And the
fingers of Constantia, of his love, of the woman who loved Chopin--that
Chopin whose first passion was for her grandmother, the opera singer
Constantia Gladowska!

The knowledge of her cruel deception crept into his consciousness. He
was chilled for several seconds. Grief at his lost love, implacable
anger at her trickery, crowded into his unhappy brain. But he only bowed
to Cilli, and summoning all his will he politely said:--

"It is quite true that when the Japanese choose to play the piano, we
Europeans must shut up shop." He hurried out to the road and walked
desperately....

The next morning, as he nervously paced the platform of the Ischl
railway station, he encountered his old friend Alfred Brünfeld, the
jovial Viennese pianist.

"Hullo!"

"Hullo!"

"Not going back to Vienna?"

"Yes--I'm tired of the country."

"But, man, you are pale and tired. Have you been studying up here after
your doctor bade you rest?" The concern in Brünfeld's voice touched
Davos. He shook his head, then bethought himself of something.

"Alfred, you are acquainted with everybody in Europe. How is it you
never told me about that strange Grabowski crowd--you know, the
granddaughter of Chopin's first love?" Brünfeld looked at him with
instant curiosity.

"You also?" he said. The young man blushed. After _that_ he could never
forgive! The other continued:--

"Granddaughter, fiddlesticks! They are not Poles, those Grabowskis, but
impostors. Their real name is--is--" Davos started.

"What, you have met them?"

"Yes, the stupid father, the odious uncle, the fair Constantia--what a
meek saint!--and that diabolical Japanese, who plays the piano like a
house on fire." Tears came to the eyes of Marco Davos.

"Did they--I mean, did _she_ take you in, too?"

"Here, at Ischl, last summer," was the grim reply.



XVIII

THE TUNE OF TIME


Ferval returned to Rouen after a fatiguing trip down the Seine as far as
Croisset, the old home of Gustave Flaubert. Here he viewed, not without
a dismal sense of fame and its futility, the little garden-house in
which the masterpieces of the great Frenchman had been conceived in joy
and executed in sorrow. He met the faithful Colange, one-time attendant
of Flaubert, and from him learned exacerbating details of the novelist's
lonesome years; so he was in a mood of irritation as he went ashore near
the Boïeldieu Bridge and slowly paced toward his hotel. He loved this
Norman Rouen, loved the battered splendour of Nôtre-Dame Cathedral,
loved the church of Saint-Ouen--that miracle of the Gothic, with its
upspringing turrets, its portal as perfect as a Bach fugue. And in the
Solferino Garden he paid his tribute of flowers at the monuments of
Maupassant and Flaubert. Ferval was modern in his tastes; he believed
nothing in art was worth the while which did not date from the
nineteenth century.

Deplorably bored, he passed his hotel on the Quai and turned into the
Rue Jeanne d'Arc, which led by the façade of the Palais de Justice. He
had studied it carefully, and it did not, this dull afternoon in
September, hold his interest long; he sauntered on, not feeling strong
enough to light a cigarette. Decidedly, Rouen was become tiresome. He
would go back to Paris by the evening train--or to Dieppe, thence to
London, on the morning boat. Presently he found himself nearing the
Porte de la Grosse Horloge. Through its opening poured vivacious working
girls and men in blouse and cap, smoking, chattering, gesticulating. It
was all very animated, and the wanderer tried to enjoy the picture. Then
over against the crenellated wall, under the tablet bearing the quaint
inscription picked out in choice Latin, Ferval saw a tall girl. Her bare
head would not have marked her in a crowd where motley prevailed; it was
her pose that attracted him,--above all, her mediæval face, with its
long, drooping nose which recalled some graven image of Jean Goujon. Her
skin was tanned; her hair, flame-coloured, was confined by a classic
fillet; her eyes, Oriental in fulness, were light blue--Ferval had
crossed to the apparition and noted these things. She did not return his
stare, but continued to gaze at the archway as if expecting some one.
Young, robust, her very attitude suggested absolute health; yet her
expression was so despairing, her eyes so charged with misery, that
involuntarily he felt in his pocket for money. And then he saw that in
her hand she held a tambourine. She wore a faded uniform of the
Salvation Army.

Suddenly an extraordinary noise was heard; music, but of such a peculiar
and excruciating quality that the young man forgot his neighbour and
wondered what new pain was in store for his already taut nerves. The
shops emptied, children stopped their games, and the Quarter suspended
its affairs to welcome the music. Ferval heard rapturous and mocking
remarks. "Baki, Baki, the human orchestra!" cried one gossip to another.
And the reverberating music swelled, multifarious and amazing as if a
military band from piccolo to drum were about to descend the highway. A
clatter and bang, a sweet droning and shrill scraping, and then an old
man proudly limped through the gateway of the Great Clock. This was the
conjurer, this white-haired fellow, who, with fife, cymbals, bells,
concertinas,--he wore two strapped under either arm,--at times fiddler,
made epileptic music as he quivered and danced, wriggled, and shook his
venerable skull. The big drum was fastened to his back, upon its top
were placed cymbals. On his head he wore a pavilion hung with bells that
pealed when he twisted or nodded his long, yellow neck. He carried a
weather-worn fiddle with a string or two missing, while a pipe that
might have been a clarinet years before, now emitted but cackling tones
from his thin lips, through which shone a few fanglike teeth. By some
incomprehensible coördination of muscular movements he contrived to make
sound simultaneously his curious armoury of instruments, and the
whistling, screeching, scratching, drumming, wheezing, and tinkling of
metal were appalling. But it was rhythmic, and at intervals the edge of
a tune could be discerned, cutting sharply through the dense cloud of
vibrations, like the prow of a boat cleaving the fog. Baki, his face red
and swollen by his exertions, moved to the spot where waited the girl.

"_Ai_, Debora!" cried a boy, "here's the old man. Pass the plate, pass
the plate!" To his amazement, though he could give no reason for the
feeling, Ferval saw the girl go from group to group, her tambourine
outstretched, begging for coppers. Once she struck an insulting youth
across the face, but when she reached Ferval and met his inquiring look,
she dropped her eyes and did not ask for alms. A red-headed Sibyl, he
thought discontentedly, a street beggar, the daughter of an old ruffian.
And as he walked away rapidly he remembered her glance, in which there
lurked some touch of antique pride and wrath.


II

Rouen lay below him, a violet haze obscuring all but the pinnacles of
its churches. The sinking sun had no longer power to pierce this misty
gulf, at the bottom of which hummed the busy city; but Ferval saw
through rents in the twirling, heat-laden atmosphere the dim shapes of
bridges mirrored by the water beneath him; and once the two islands
apparently swept toward him, a blur of green; while at the end of the
valley, framed by hills, he seemed to discern the odd-looking
Transbordeur spanning the Seine.

For twenty-four hours he had not ceased thinking of the girl with the
tambourine, of her savage, sullen grace, her magnificent poise and
strange glance. He had learned at his hotel that she was called "_Debora
la folle_," and that she was the daughter of the still crazier Baki. Was
she some sort of a gypsy, or a Continental version of Salvation Army
lass? No one knew. Each year, at the beginning of autumn, the pair
wandered into Rouen, remained a few weeks, and disappeared. Where?
Paris, perhaps, or Italy or--_là bas!_ The shoulder-shrugging proved
that Baki and his daughter were not highly regarded by reputable
citizens of Rouen, though the street people followed their music and
singing as long as it lasted. Singing? queried Ferval; does the woman
sing?

He became more interested. His visits to the country where Pissarro
painted and Flaubert wrote revealed other possibilities besides those
purely artistic ones in which this amateur of fine shades and sensations
delighted. He did not deny, on the esplanade where behind him stood
Bonsecours and the monument of Jeanne d'Arc, that souvenirs of the girl
had kept his eyelids from closing during the major portion of the night.
To cool his brain after the midday breakfast he had climbed the white,
dusty, and winding road leading to the Monumental Cemetery wherein, true
Flaubertian, he had remained some moments uncovered at the tomb of the
master. Now he rested, and the shade of the trees mellowed the slow dusk
of a Rouen evening.

A deep contralto voice boomed in his ears. As he had seen but a scant
half-dozen persons during the afternoon on the heights, Ferval was
startled from his dreams. He turned. Sitting on a bank of green was the
girl. Her hands were clasped and she spoke carelessly to her father,
who, unharnessed from his orchestra, appeared another man. Rapidly
Ferval observed his striking front, his massive head with the long,
white curls, the head of an Elijah disillusioned of his mission. He,
too, was sitting, but upright, and his arm was raised with a threatening
gesture as if in his desolating anger he were about to pronounce a
malediction upon the vanishing twilighted town. Ferval moved
immediately, as he did not care to be caught spying upon his queer
neighbours. He was halted by their speech. It was English. His surprise
was so unaffected that he turned back and went up to the two and bade
them good-day. At once he saw that the girl recognized him; the father
dropped his air of grandeur and put on the beggar's mask. What an actor!
thought Ferval, at the transformation. "Would the good gentleman
please--?"

The girl plucked at her father's arm imploringly. With her grave, cold
expression she answered the other's salutation and fixed him with her
wonderful eyes so inquiringly that Ferval began a hasty explanation.
"English was rarely spoken here ... and then the pleasure of the music!"
The old man burst into scornful laughter.

"The music!" he exclaimed. "The music!" echoed his daughter. Ferval
wished himself down in Rouen. But he held his position.

"Yes," he continued, "your music. It interested me. And now I find you
speaking my own tongue. I must confess that I am curious, that my
curiosity has warrant." Thus was he talking to beggars as if they were
his social equals. Unconsciously the tone he adopted had been forced
upon him by the bearing of his companions, above all by their accent,
that of cultivated folk. Who and what were they? The musician no longer
smiled.

"You are a music-lover, monsieur?" he asked in a marked French _patois_.

"I love music, and I am extremely engaged by your remarkable combination
of instruments," answered Ferval. Baki regarded his wretched orchestra
on the grass, then spoke to his daughter.

"Debora," he said in English, and his listener wondered if it were
Celtic or Scotch in its unusual intonations, "Debora, you must sing
something for the gentleman. He loves our art,"--there was indescribable
pathos in this phrase,--"so sing something from Purcell, Brahms, or
Richard Strauss."

These words were like the sting of hail; they seemed to drop from the
sky, so out of key were they with the speaker's ragged clothes and the
outlandish garb of his daughter. Purcell! Brahms! Strauss! What could
these three composers mean to such outcasts? Believing that he was the
victim of a mystification, Ferval waited, his pulses beating as if he
had been running too hard. The girl slowly moved her glorious eyes in
his direction; light as they were in hue, their heavy, dark lashes gave
them a fantastic expression--bright flame seen through the shadow of
smoke. He felt his own dilating as she opened her throat and poured out
a broad, sonorous stream of sound that resolved into Von ewiger Liebe by
Brahms. He had always loved deep-voiced women. Had he not read in the
Talmud that Lilith, Adam's first wife, was low of voice? And this
beggar-maid? Maybe a masquerading singer with a crazy father! What else
could mean such art wasted on the roads, thrown in the faces of a
rabble! Ferval kindled with emotion. Here was romance. Brahms and his
dark song under the bowl of the troubled blue sky strongly affected him.
He took the lean, brown hand of the singer and kissed it fervently. She
drew back nervously, but her father struck her on the shoulder
chidingly.

"A trifle too dreary," he rumbled in his heavy bass. "Now, Purcell for
the gentleman, and may he open his heart and his purse for the poor."

"Father," she cried warningly, "we are not beggars, _now_!" She turned
supplicatingly to the young man and made a gesture of dismissal. He
gently shook his head and pretended that he was about to leave, though
he felt that his feet were rooted in the earth, his power of willing
gone.

"Ay, ay, my girl!" continued the musician, "you can sing as well as the
best of them, only you love your sinful old father so much that you have
laid aside your ambitions, to follow him in his pilgrimage of expiation
about this wicked globe. Ah, sir, if you but knew--I _will_ speak,
Debora, for he is a gentleman and a lover of music! If you but knew our
history, you would not be surprised at us. Have ye ever been in Wales?"

Ferval stumbled in his answer. It was overlooked; the old man continued:
"If ye have, ye must have heard of the sin-eaters. I am one of them, I
am an eater of sin--"

Again the girl exclaimed, this time piteously, "Oh, father, remember
your vow!"

"Poor lass! Yes, I was a doer of evil, and I became an eater of sin.
Some day my sins will be forgiven--this is my penance." He pointed to
his instruments. Ferval kept silence. He feared a word would blow away
the cobweb foundations of the narrative. The girl had turned and was
watching a young tilted moon which with a single star made silvery dents
low in the western horizon.

"I am an eater of sin. We still have a few such in Wales. They put a
piece of bread and cheese on the breast of a dead man and when the
sin-eater eats it, the sins of the dead are passed into the bread and
cheese and the soul of the dead is shrived of them. Ay, ay, but it's a
grave duty, my friend, to take upon your own soul the crime of another.
If you are free from sin yourself, you may walk through life a brave
creature; but ... I took his sins, sins, the sins of the wickedest
composer of our century, God rest his soul. And for the wicked things he
put into his symphonies I must march through life playing on this
terrible collection of instruments the Tune of Time--" His daughter
faced him.

"Father, we must go; you are only keeping the gentleman." Again she
signalled Ferval, but he disregarded her warning. He would not stir. The
story and the man who told it, a prophet shorn of his heaven-storming
powers, fascinated him.

"I took his sins to myself and they were awful. Once every night I play
the Tune of Time in which the wickedness of the dead man is spread out
like dry rot in a green field. This man kept his genius so long stagnant
that it decayed on his hands, and then into his pestilential music he
poured his poison, and would have made the world sick. Oh, for delivery
from the crushing transgressions of another! His name? Ah, but that is
my secret! I ate his sin, and truth, my son, is stranger than theology!
Listen!"

Before his daughter could check him he had hastily donned his armament
of instruments and, tramping slowly the broad, smooth path, began
playing. Ferval, much disappointed, was about to disappear, for he
remembered the racking noises of the previous day. But this music, this
Tune of Time!...


III

It was like the flare of lightning which illuminates strange regions
beyond the borders of the soul. Ferval no longer heard, he felt; he felt
no more, he saw. The white veil was torn asunder, and it showed him a
melodious thunder-pool wherein tapering tiny bodies swam, whose eyes
were the eyes of Debora. They split and coalesced into other creatures,
and to the drummings of spheric harmonies resolved themselves scaly and
monstrous. Never did they cease changing. As the music buzzed he saw the
great ladder of life, the lowermost rungs resting in lakes of melted
amber, the top threatening the remotest rims of the universe. And still
the Tune of Time whirred on, as facet after facet of the Infinite
wheeled toward creation. Numberless legions of crumpled nightmare shapes
modulated into new, familiar forms. Ferval saw plasmic dew become
anthropoidal apes, fiercely roaming primeval forests in search of prey.
The music mounted ever upward, for the Tune of Time is the Tune of
Love--love and its inseparable shadow, hate, fashion the firmament. The
solid, circular earth shivered like a mighty harp under this lyric
burden of love. The very stars sported in their orbits; and from the
fulgurating ovens of the Milky Way there shot forth streams of audible
light that touched the heart-strings of the hairy, erect primates and
set them chanting; thus were the souls born which crowned them men. This
space-bridging music ranged from sun to sun, and its supernatural
symphony had no beginning and never shall end.

But the magician or devil who revealed this phantasmagoria of the
Cosmos--how had he wrested from the Inane the Tune of Time that in a
sequence of chromatic chords pictured the processes of the eternal
energy? Was this his sin, the true sin against the Holy Ghost? How had
he blundered upon the secret of the rhythmic engine which spun souls
through the ages? No man could live after this terrific peep at the
Ancient of Days. Debora's eyes peered into Ferval's, filled with the
music that enmeshes. And now sounded the apocalyptic trumpets even unto
the glittering edges of eternity....

Amid this vertiginous tempest of tones Debora danced the Dance of Space.
She revolved in lenten movement to the lilt of the music, her eyes
staring and full of broken lights. As her gaze collided with her
companion's he saw a disk of many-coloured fire; and then her languorous
gestures were transformed into shivering intensities. She danced like
the wine-steeped Noah; she danced as danced David before the Ark of the
Covenant. And she was Herodias pirouetting for the price of John's head,
and her brow was wreathed with serpents. Followed the convulsive
curvings of the Nautch and the opaque splendours of stately Moorish
slaves. Debora threw her watcher into a frenzy of fear. He crouched
under a sky that roofed him in with its menacing blackness; the orbs of
the girl were shot with crescent lightnings. Alien in his desolation, he
wondered if her solemn leaps, as the music dashed with frantic speed
upon his ear-drums, signified the incarnation of Devi, dread slayer of
men! The primal charmers affrighted his vision: Lilith, Ourania,
Astarté, Ashtaroth, Belkis, Ishtar, Mylitta, Cotytto, and many
immemorial figures from before the Flood streamed by and melted into the
woven paces of Debora--this new Jephtha's daughter dancing to her doom
as her father fingered the Tune of Time. In the whirling patterns of her
dance, Ferval discerned, though dimly, the Veil of Maya, the veil of
illusion called Space, on the thither side of which are embroidered the
fugacious symbols of Time....

... As the delirious music faltered and fainted, he watched the tragic
eyes of Debora yellowing cat-like. His senses and imagination had been
hypnotized by all this fracas and by the beauty of the girl. With such a
mate and such formidable music, he could conquer the earth! His brain
was afire with the sweetness of the odour that enveloped them, an odour
as penetrating as the music of the nocturnal Chopin.

"Debora," he whispered, "you must never go away from me." She hung her
head. The old man was not to be seen; the darkness had swallowed him.
Ferval quietly passed his arm about the waist of the silent woman and
slowly they walked in the tender night. She was the first to speak:--

"You did not hear a madman's story," she asserted in her clear, candid
voice, which had for him the hue of a cleft pomegranate. "It is the
history of my father's soul. It is his own sin he expiates."

"But you, you!" Ferval cried unsteadily. "Why must your life be
sacrificed to gratify the bizarre egotism of such a--" He cut short the
phrase, fearful of wounding her. He felt her body tremble and her arm
contract. They reached the marble staircase of the Jeanne d'Arc
memorial. She stopped him and burst forth:--

"Would you be willing to share his burden? Would you take upon your
shoulders his sin? He may have committed the one unpardonable sin, for
he discovered the true philosopher's stone, that can transmute metals,
make mountains nod, the stars to stop, and command the throne of
Jehovah--oh, what blasphemy has been his in his daring music! If he
could persuade one other soul besides mine to help him, he might be
released from his woe. Will you be that other?"

She put this question as if she were proposing a commonplace human
undertaking. Ferval in his confusion fancied that she was provoking him
to a declaration. To grasp his receding reason he fatuously exclaimed:--

"Is this a Salvation Army fantasy?"

With that she called out, in harsh resentment:

"Not salvation for you!"

She then thrust him from her so violently that he tumbled backward down
the steps to the very bottom, where, unnerved by the ferocity of the
attack and his head bruised by the fall, he felt his consciousness
escape like gas from a punctured balloon. When found the next morning,
he was barely covered by the old sin-eater's rags, while near by was
scattered the entire orchestra of that eloquent wizard. Shudderingly he
realized that it had been no dream; shudderingly he wondered if upon his
soul had been shifted the unknown crime of the fanatic! The witching,
enigmatic Debora haunted his memory; and with dismay he recalled the
blistering vision evoked by the music, through which she had glided like
some tremulous Lamia. Decidedly his imagination had carried him far. He
cursed his easy credulity, he reviled his love of the exotic....

Ferval made inquiry of the authorities, but received little comfort.
Salvation Army people they were not, this father and daughter; the
tambourine, assumed garb, and prophet's beard had deceived him.
Impostors! But of what incredible caliber, of what illusion-creating
power! For years he could not see a Salvation Army girl without a sense
of cerebral exaltation. If he could have met Debora again, he would have
forgiven her sibylline deceptions, her father's chicanery. And how did
they spin their web? Ferval, student of the occult, greedy of
metaphysical problems, at first set it down to Indian Yogi magic. But
the machinery--the hideously discordant human orchestra, the corybantic
dancing! No, he rejected the theory. Music is sometimes hypnotic, but
not such music; dancing is the most alluring of the spatial arts, and
Debora's miming was a delight to the eye; but could it have so obscured
his judgments as to paint upon the canvas of his fancy those prodigious
frescoes of time and space?

In the iron solitude of his soul he tortured himself with these
questions. His stupor lasted for days--was it the abrupt fall or was it
the result of his absinthe-like dreams? He was haunted by an odour that
assailed his brain like one tune persistently played. The odour! Whence
did it come with its sickly sweetness? Perhaps therein lay the secret of
his hallucinating visions. Perhaps a drug had perverted his brain. But
within the week the dangerous perfume had become dissipated, and with it
vanished all hope of solving the riddle. Oh, to sense once more the
enchantments of its fragrance, once more revel in the sublimated
intoxication of mighty forces weaving at the loom of life! By the
cadences of what infernal art had he been vouchsafed a glimpse of the
profiles of the gods? Henceforth Ferval became a lover of shadows.



XIX

NADA


The tenderness of the growing night disquieted the dying woman.

"Aline!" she called. But it was only the name that reverberated within
the walls of her brain, harrowed by fever. A soft air rustled the drawn
curtains of lawn; and on the dressing table the two little lamps
fluttered in syncopated sympathy. One picture the room held. It was
after a painting by Goya, and depicted a sneering skeleton scrawling on
his dusty tomb, with a bony fore-finger, the sinister word,
_Nada_--nothing! The perturbation of the woman increased, though
physical power seemed denied her. "Aline, my child!" This time a
clucking sound issued from her throat.

The girl went to the bedside and gently fanned. Her aunt wagged her head
negatively. "No, no!" she stuttered. Aline stopped, and kneeling, took
the sick hands in her own. Their eyes met and Aline, guided by the
glance, looked over at the picture with its sardonic motto.

"Shall I take it away, Aunt Mary?" The elder woman closed her eyes as if
to shut out the ghoulish mockery. Then Aline saw the tabouret that stood
between the windows--it was burdened with magnolias in a deep white
bowl.

"Do you wish them nearer?"

"No, no," murmured her aunt. Her eyes brightened. She pushed her chin
forward, and the young girl removed the flowers, knowing that their
odour had become oppressive. She was not absent more than a few seconds.
As she returned the maid touched her arm.

"The gentlemen are waiting below, miss. They won't leave until they see
you."

"How can I go now? Send them away, send them away!"

"Yes, miss; but I told them what you said this afternoon about the
danger of Holiest Mother--"

"Hush! she is calling." Aline slipped into the room on hurried feet, her
eyes dilated, her hair in anxious disorder. But the invalid made no
signal. She lay with closed eyelids, the contraction of her nostrils a
faint proclamation of life. Again the niece took her place at the
headboard, and with folded fingers watched the whispering indications of
speedy flight. The maid soon beckoned her from a narrowed door. Aline
joined her.

"They say that if you don't go down, they will come up."

"Who says?" was the stern query.

"The Second Reader and the Secretary. I think you had better see them;
they both look worried. Really I do, Miss Allie."

"Very well, Ellen; but you must stay here, and if Holiest Mother makes
the slightest move, touch the bell. I'll not be gone five minutes."

Without arranging her hair or dress, Aline opened the folding doors of
the drawing-room. Only the centre lamp was lighted, but she recognized
the two men. They were sitting together, and arose as she entered. The
burly Second Reader wore a dismayed countenance. His cheeks were flabby,
his eyes red. The other was a timid little man who never had anything to
say.

"How is Holiest Mother?" asked the Reader.

"Dying."

"Oh, Sister Aline! Why such a blunt way of putting it? _She_ may be
exchanging her earthly garb for a celestial one--but die! We do not
acknowledge death in the Church of the New Faith." He paused and blandly
stroked his huge left hand, covered with red down.

"Holiest Mother, my aunt, has not an hour to live," was the cool
response of the girl. "If you have no further question, I must ask you
to excuse me; I am needed above." She stepped to the door.

"Wait a moment, sister! Not so fast. The situation is serious. Hundreds
of thousands of the faithful depend on our report of this--of this sad
event. We may tell them that the female pope of our great religion"--he
bent his big neck reverently--"was wafted to her heavenly abode by the
angels. But there are the officers of the law, the undertaker, the
cemetery people, to be considered. Shall we acknowledge that our founder
has died like any other human--in bed, of a fever? And who is to be her
successor? Has she left a will?"

"Poor Aunt Mary!" muttered the girl.

"It must be a woman, will or no will," continued the Second Reader, in
the tone of a conqueror making terms with a stricken foe. "Now Aline,
sister, you are the nearest of kin. You are a fervent healer. _You_ are
the Woman."

"How can you stand there heartlessly plotting such things and a dying
woman in the house?" Aline's voice was metallic with passion. "You care
only for the money and power in our church. I refuse to join with you in
any such scheme. Aunt Mary will die. She will name her successor. Then
it will be time to act. Have you forgotten her last words to the
faithful?" She pointed to a marble tablet above the fireplace, which
bore this astounding phrase: "My first and forever message is one and
eternal." Nothing more,--but the men cowered before the sublime wisdom
uttered by a frail woman, wisdom that had started the emotional
machinery of two continents.

"But, great God! Miss Aline, you mustn't go off and leave us in this
fix." Drops of water stood on the forehead of the Second Reader. His
hands dropped to his side with a gesture of despair. His companion kept
to the corner, a scared being.

"You know as well as I do that _somebody_ has to take the throne seat
after--after your Aunt Mary dies--I mean, after Holiest Mother is
translated to eternity. Ask her, beg her, for some advice. We can't let
the great undertaking go to pieces--"

"You have little faith, brother," replied Aline. "If that message means
anything, then the New Faith will take care of itself--"

"Yes, yes, I know," was the testy interruption; "but the world is not so
easily led in matters of religion. The message, as you say, is divine;
but it may sound like meaningless twaddle to the world at large. If we
are to heal mankind and dispel the heresy of disease and death, why
can't Holiest Mother save herself? Mind you, I am looking at this thing
with the eyes of the sceptics--"

"You are an unbeliever, a materialist, yourself," was the bold retort.
"Do as you please, but you can't drag me into your money calculations."
The swift slam of the door left them to their fears.

Her aunt, sitting as upright as a candle, was conducting an invisible
orchestra when Aline returned. The frightened maid tried to hold the
lean, spasmodic arms as they traced in the air the pompous rhythm of a
march that moved on silent funereal pinions through the chamber. The
woman stared threateningly at the picture on the wall, the picture of
the skeleton which had come from nothingness to reveal nothingness to
the living. The now distraught girl, her nerves crisped by her doubts,
threw herself upon the bed, her fears sorely knocking at her heart.

"Aunt, Aunt Mary--Holiest Mother, in Christ's name, in the name of the
New Faith, tell me before you go--tell me what is to become of our holy
church after you die--after you pass over to the great white light. Is
it all real? Or is it only a dream, _your_ beautiful dream?--What is the
secret truth? Or--or--is there no secret--no--" her voice was cracked by
sobs. The stately, soundless music was waved on by her aunt. Then
Holiest Mother fell back on her pillow, and with a last long glance at
the picture, she pointed, with smiling irony at the picture.

_Nada, Nada ..._

The night died away in tender complicity with the two little lamps on
the dressing table, and the sweet, thick perfume of magnolias modulated
into acrid decay as day dawned. Below, the two men anxiously awaited the
message from the dead. And they saw again upon the marble tablet above
the fireplace her cryptic wisdom:--

"My first and forever message is one and eternal."



XX

PAN

    For the Great God Pan is alive again.

    --DEAN MANSEL.


I

The handsome Hungarian kept his brilliant glance fixed upon Lora Crowne;
she sat with her Aunt Lucas and Mr. Steyle at a table facing the
orchestra. His eyes were not so large as black; the intensity of their
gaze further bewildered the young woman, whose appearance that evening
at the famous café on the East Side was her initial one. The heat, the
bristling lights, the terrific appealing clamour of the gypsy band, set
murmuring the nerves of this impressionable girl. And the agility of the
_cymbalom_ player, his great height, clear skin, and piercing eyes,
quite enthralled her.

"It is the gypsy dulcimer, Lora; I read all about it in Liszt's book on
gypsy music," said Aunt Lucas, in an airy soprano.

Mr. Steyle was impressed. Lora paid no attention, but continued to gaze
curiously at the antics of the player, who hammered from his instrument
of wire shivering, percussive music. With flexible wrists he swung the
felt-covered mallets that brought up such resounding tones; at times
his long, apelike arms would reach far asunder and, rolling his eyes, he
touched the extremes of his _cymbalom_; then he described furious
arpeggios, punctuated with a shrill tattoo. And the crazy music defiled
by in a struggling squad of chords; but Aŕpad Vihary never lifted his
eyes from Lora Crowne....

The vibration ceased. Its withdrawal left the ear-drums buzzing with a
minute, painful sensation, like that of moisture rapidly evaporating
upon the naked skin. A battalion of tongues began to chatter as the
red-faced waiters rushed between the tables, taking orders. It was after
eleven o'clock, and through the swinging doors passed a throng of motley
people, fanning, gossiping, bickering--all eager and thirsty. Clarence
Steyle pointed out the celebrities with conscious delight. Over
yonder--that man with the mixed gray hair--was a composer who came every
night for inspiration,--musical and otherwise, Clarence added, with a
laugh. And there was the young and well-known decadent playwright who
wore strangling high collars and transposed all his plays from French
sources; he lisped and was proud of his ability to dramatize the latest
mental disease. And a burglar who had written a famous book on the
management of children during hot weather sat meekly resting before a
solitary table.

The leader of the Hungarian band was a gypsy who called himself Alfassy
Janos, though he lived on First Avenue, in a flat the door of which
bore this legend: _Jacob Aron_. The rest of the band seemed gypsy. Who
is the _cymbalom_ player? That is not difficult to answer; the programme
gives it.

"There you are, Miss Lora."

She looked. "Oh, what a romantic name! He must be a count at least."

"Lora, dear, gypsies never bear titles," remarked Aunt Lucas,
patronizingly.

"How about the Abbé Liszt?" triumphantly asked her charge.

Aunt Lucas laughed coldly. "Liszt was Hungarian, not Romany. But your
artist with the drumsticks certainly is distinguished-looking. If he
only would not wear that odious scarlet uniform. I wonder why he does
not sit down, like the rest of his colleagues."

Aŕpad Vihary leaned against the panelled wall, his brow puckered in
boredom, his long black mustaches drooping from sheer discouragement.
His was a figure for sculpture--a frame powerfully modelled, a bisque
complexion. Thin as a cedar sapling, he preserved such an immovable
attitude that in the haze of the creamy atmosphere he seemed a carved,
marmoreal image rather than a young man with devouring eyes.

The three visitors ate sandwiches and pretended to relish Munich beer
served in tall stone mugs. Aunt Lucas, who was shaped like a 'cello,
made more than a pretence of sipping; she drank one entirely,
regretting the exigencies of chaperonage: to ask for more might shock
the proper young man.

"It's horrid here, after all," she remarked discontentedly. "So many
people--_such_ people--and very few nice ones. The Batsons are over
there, Lora; but then you don't care for them. O dear, I wish the band
would strike up again."

It did. A vicious swirl of colour and dizzy, dislocated rhythms prefaced
the incantations of the Czardas. Instantly the eating, gabbling crowd
became silent. Alfassy Janos magnetized his hearers with cradling,
caressing movements of his fiddle. He waved like tall grass in the wind;
he twisted snakewise his lithe body as he lashed his bow upon the
screaming strings; the resilient tones darted fulgurantly from
instrument to instrument. After chasing in circles of quicksilver, they
all met with a crash; and the whole tonal battery, reënforced by the
throbbing of Aŕpad Vihary's dulcimer, swept through the suite of rooms
from ceiling to sanded floor. It was no longer enchanting music, but
sheer madness of the blood; sensual and warlike, it gripped the
imagination as these tunes of old Egypt, filtered through savage
centuries, reached the ears. Lora trembled in the gale that blew across
the Puzta. She imagined a determined Hungarian prairie, over which
dashed disordered centaurs brandishing clubs, driving before them a band
of satyrs and leaping fauns. The hoofed men struggled. At their front
was a monster with a black goat-face and huge horns; he fought fiercely
the half-human horses. The sun, a thin scarf of light, was eclipsed by
earnest clouds; the curving thunder closed over the battle; the air was
flame-sprinkled and enlaced by music; and most melancholy were the eyes
of the defeated Pan--the melancholy eyes of Aŕpad Vihary....

Aunt Lucas was scandalized. "Do you know, Lora, that the impudent
dulcimer virtuoso"--she prided herself on her musical terms--"actually
stared you out of countenance during the entire Czardas?" And she could
have added that her niece had returned the glance unflinchingly.

Mr. Steyle noticed Lora's vacant regard when he addressed her and
insisted on getting her away from the dangerous undertow of this "table
d'hôte music," as he contemptuously called it. He summoned the waiter.

Lora shed her disappointment. "Oh, let's wait for the _cymbalom_ solo,"
she frankly begged.

Her aunt was unmoved. "Yes, Mr. Steyle, we had better go; the air is
positively depressing. These slumming parties are delightful if you
don't overdo them--but the people!" Up went her lorgnon.

They soon departed. Lora did not dare to look back until she reached the
door that opened on the avenue; as she did so her vibrant gaze collided
with the Hungarian's. She determined to see him again.


II

Nice Brooklyn girls always attend church and symphony concerts. This
dual custom is considered respectable and cultured. Lora's parents
during their lifetime never missed the Theodore Thomas concerts and the
sermons of a certain famous local preacher; but there were times when
the young woman longed for Carmen and the delights of fashionable
Bohemia. Carefully reared by her Aunt Lucas, she had nevertheless a
taste for gypsy bands and "Gyp's" novels. She read the latter
translated, much to the disedification of her guardian, who was a
linguist and a patron of the fine arts. This latter clause included
subscriptions to the Institute Course and several scientific journals.
If Lora were less romantic, all would be well. Once the careful chaperon
had feared music and its disturbing influences; but after she had read
an article about its healing effect upon the insane she felt that it
could work no evil in Lora; indeed, it was an elevating art. She was
fond of music herself, and, as dancing was strictly tabooed, there
seemed little likelihood of the noble art of "sweet concordance"--Aunt
Lucas had picked this quotation up somewhere--doing mischief to her
impressionable niece.

Nearly all dwelling-houses look alike in Brooklyn, even at midday. The
street in which the Crownes lived was composed of conventional
brown-stone buildings and English basements. Nielje, the Dutch maid,
stood at the half-opened door, regarding with suspicion the big, dark
man who had pulled the bell so violently. Aunt Lucas was in New York at
the meeting of a society devoted to Ethical Enjoyment. Though Nielje had
been warned secretly of an expected visitor, this wild-looking young man
with long black hair, wearing a flaring coat of many colours and baggy
Turkish trousers, gave her a shock. Why did he come to the basement as
if he were one of the cook's callers? She paused. Then the door was
shoved in by a muscular arm, and she was pushed against the wall.

"Don't try that again, man," she protested.

He answered her in gibberish. "Mees, Mees Lora," he repeated.

"Ach!" she exclaimed.

Aŕpad Vihary gloomily followed her into the dining-room, where Lora
stood trembling. This was the third time she had met the Hungarian, and
fearing Prospect Park,--after two timid walks there, under the
fiery-fingered leaves of early autumn,--she had been prevailed upon to
invite Aŕpad to her home. She regretted her imprudence the moment he
entered. All his footlight picturesqueness vanished in the cold, hard
light of an unromantic Brooklyn breakfast-room. He seemed like a clumsy
circus hero as he scraped his feet over the parquetry and attempted to
kiss her hand. She drew away instantly and pointed to a chair. He
refused to sit down; his pride seemed hurt.

Then he gave the girl an intense look, and she drew nearer.

"Oh, Aŕpad Vihary," she began.

He interrupted. "You do not love me now. Why? You told me you loved me,
in the park, yesterday. I am a poor artist, that is the reason."

This speech he uttered glibly, and, despite the extraordinary
pronunciation, she understood it. She took his long hand, the fingers
amazed her. He bent them back until they touched his wrist, and was
proud of their flexibility. He walked to the dining-table and tossed its
cover-cloth on a chair. Upon his two thumbs he went around it like an
acrobat. "Shall I hold you out with one arm?" he softly asked. Lora was
vastly amused; this was indeed a courtship out of the ordinary--it
pleased her exotic taste.

"Hungarian gypsies are very strong, are they not?" she innocently asked.

"I am not gypsy nor am I Hungarian; I am an East Indian. My family is
royal. We are of the Rajpoot tribes called Ranas. My father once ruled
Roorbunder."

Lora was amazed. A king's son, a Rana of Roorbunder! She became very
sympathetic. Again she urged him to sit down.

"My nation never sits before a woman," he proudly answered.

"But I will sit beside you," she coaxed, pushing him to a corner. He
resisted her and went to the window. Lora again joined him. The man
piqued her. He was mysterious and very unlike Mr. Steyle--poor,
sentimental Clarence, who melted with sighs if she but glanced at him;
and then, Clarence was too stout. She adored slender men, believing that
when fat came in at the door love fled out of the window.

"They put me in a circus at Buda-Pesth," remarked Aŕpad Vihary, as if he
were making a commonplace statement about the weather.

She gave a little scream; he regarded her with Oriental composure. "In a
circus! You! Did you ride?"

"I cannot ride," he said. "I played in a cage all day."

"Because you were wild?" She then went into a fit of laughter. He was
such a funny fellow, though his ardent gaze made her blush. So blond and
pink was Lora that her friends called her Strawberry--a delicate
compliment in which she delighted. It was this golden head and radiant
face, with implacably blue eyes, that set the blood pumping into Aŕpad's
brain. When he looked at her, he saw sunlight.

"Do you know, you absurd prince, that when you played the Czardas the
other night I seemed to see a vision of a Hungarian prairie, covered
with fighting centaurs and satyrs! I longed to be a _vivandière_ among
all those fauns. You were there--in the music, I mean--and you were big
Pan--oh, so ugly and terrible!"

"Pan! That is a Polish title," he answered quite simply.

"Stupid! The great god Pan--don't you know your mythology? Haven't you
read Mrs. Browning? He was the god of nature, of the woods. Even now, I
believe you have ears with furry tips and hoofs like a faun."

He turned a sickly yellow.

"Anyhow, why did they put you in a cage? Were you a wild boy?"

"They thought so in Hungary."

"But why?"

He stared at her sorrowfully, and was about to empty his soul; but she
turned away with a shudder.

"I know, I know," she whispered; "your hands--they are like the hands
of--"

Aŕpad threw out his chest, and Lora heard with a curiosity that became
nervous a rhythmic wagging sound, like velvet bruised by some dull
implement. It frightened her.

"Do not be afraid of me," he begged. "You cannot say anything I do not
know already." He walked to the door, and the girl followed him.

"Don't go, Aŕpad," she said with pretty remorse.

The fire blazed in his eyes and with a single swift grasp he seized her,
holding her aloft like a torch. Lora almost lost consciousness. She had
not counted upon such barbarous wooing, and, frightened, cried out,
"Nielje, Nielje!"

Nielje burst into the room as if she had been very near the keyhole.
She was a powerful woman from Holland, who did not fear an army.

"Put her down!" she insisted, in her deepest gutturals. "Put her down,
you brute, or I'll hurt you."

Lora jumped to the floor as Nielje struck with her broomstick at Aŕpad's
retreating back. To the surprise of the women he gave a shriek of agony
and ran to the door, Nielje following close behind. Lora, her eyes
strained with excitement, did not stir; she heard a struggle in the
little hall as the man fumbled at the basement entrance. Again he
yelled, and then Lora rushed to the window. Nielje, on her knees, was
being dragged across the grassy space in front of the house. She held
on, seemingly, to the coat-tail of the frantic musician; only by a
vigorous shove did he evade her persistent grasp and disappear.

A policeman with official aptness went leisurely by. Nielje flew into
the house, locking and bolting the door. Her face was red as she rolled
on the floor, her hands at her sides. Lora, alarmed, thought she was
seriously hurt or hysterical from fright; but the laughter was too
hearty and appealing.

"Oh, Meeslora! Oh, Meeslora!" she gasped. "He must be monkey-man--he has
monkey tail!"

Lora could have fainted from chagrin and horror.

Had the great god Pan passed her way?



BOOKS BY JAMES HUNEKER


What Maeterlinck wrote:

Maurice Maeterlinck wrote thus of James Huneker: "Do you know that
'Iconoclasts' is the only book of high and universal critical worth that
we have had for years--to be precise, since Georg Brandes. It is at once
strong and fine, supple and firm, indulgent and sure."

The _Evening Post_ of June 10, 1915, wrote of Mr. Huneker's "The New
Cosmopolis":

"The region of Bohemia, Mr. James Huneker found long ago, is within us.
At twenty, he says, he discovered that there is no such enchanted spot
as the Latin Quarter, but that every generation sets back the mythical
land into the golden age of the Commune, or of 1848, or the days of
'Hernani.' It is the same with New York's East Side, 'the fabulous East
Side,' as Mr. Huneker calls it in his collection of international urban
studies, 'The New Cosmopolis.' If one judged externals by grime, by
poverty, by sanded back-rooms, with long-haired visionaries assailing
the social order, then the East Side of the early eighties has gone down
before the mad rush of settlement workers, impertinent reformers,
sociological cranks, self-advertising politicians, billionaire
socialists, and the reporters. To-day the sentimental traveller 'feels a
heart-pang to see the order, the cleanliness, the wide streets, the
playgrounds, the big boulevards, the absence of indigence that have
spoiled the most interesting part of New York City.' But apparently this
is only a first impression; for Mr. Huneker had no trouble in
discovering in one café a patriarchal figure quite of the type beloved
of the local-color hunters of twenty years ago, a prophet, though
speaking a modern language and concerned with things of the day. So that
we owe to Mr. Huneker the discovery of a notable truth, namely, that
Bohemia is not only a creation of the sentimental memory, but, being
psychological, may be located in clean and prosperous quarters. The
tendency has always been to place it in a golden age, but a tattered and
unswept age. Bohemia is now shown to exist amidst model tenements and
sanitary drinking-cups."


IVORY APES AND PEACOCKS

_WITH FRONTISPIECE PORTRAIT OF DOSTOÏEVSKY_

12mo. $1.50 net

       *       *       *       *       *

NEW COSMOPOLIS

12mo. $1.50 net

       *       *       *       *       *

THE PATHOS _of_ DISTANCE

A Book of a Thousand and One Moments

12mo. $2.00 net

       *       *       *       *       *

PROMENADES _of an_ IMPRESSIONIST

12mo. $1.50 net

"We like best such sober essays as those which analyze for us the
technical contributions of Cézanne and Rodin. Here Mr. Huneker is a real
interpreter, and here his long experience of men and ways in art counts
for much. Charming, in the lighter vein, are such appreciations as the
Monticelli, and Chardin."--FRANK JEWETT MATHER, JR., in _New
York Nation_ and _Evening Post_.

       *       *       *       *       *

EGOISTS

A Book of Supermen

STENDHAL, BAUDELAIRE, FLAUBERT, ANATOLE FRANCE, HUYSMANS, BARRÈS, HELLO,
BLAKE, NIETZSCHE, IBSEN, AND MAX STIRNER

_With Portrait and Facsimile Reproductions_

12mo. $1.50 net

       *       *       *       *       *

ICONOCLASTS:

A Book of Dramatists

12mo. $1.50 net

CONTENTS: Henrik Ibsen--August Strindberg--Henry
Becque--Gerhart Hauptmann--Paul Hervieu--The Quintessence of Shaw--Maxim
Gorky's Nachtasyl--Hermann Sudermann--Princess Mathilde's Play--Duse and
D'Annunzio--Villiers de l'Isle Adam--Maurice Maeterlinck.

"His style is a little jerky, but it is one of those rare styles in
which we are led to expect some significance, if not wit, in every
sentence."--G.K. CHESTERTON, in _London Daily News_.

       *       *       *       *       *

OVERTONES:

A Book of Temperaments

_WITH FRONTISPIECE PORTRAIT OF RICHARD STRAUSS_

12mo. $1.50 net

"In some respects Mr. Huneker must be reckoned the most brilliant of all
living writers on matters musical."--_Academy, London_.

       *       *       *       *       *

MEZZOTINTS IN MODERN MUSIC

BRAHMS, TSCHAÏKOWSKY, CHOPIN, RICHARD STRAUSS, LISZT, AND WAGNER

12mo. $1.50 net

"Mr. Huneker is, in the best sense, a critic; he listens to the music
and gives you his impressions as rapidly and in as few words as
possible; or he sketches the composers in fine, broad, sweeping strokes
with a magnificent disregard for unimportant details.... A distinctly
original and very valuable contribution to the world's tiny musical
literature."--J.F. RUNCIMAN, in _London Saturday Review_.

       *       *       *       *       *

FRANZ LISZT

_WITH NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS_

12mo. $2.00 net

       *       *       *       *       *

CHOPIN:

The Man and His Music

_WITH ETCHED PORTRAIT_

12mo. $2.00 net

       *       *       *       *       *

VISIONARIES

12mo. $1.50 net

CONTENTS: A Master of Cobwebs--The Eighth Deadly Sin--The Purse
of Aholibah--Rebels of the Moon--The Spiral Road--A Mock
Sun--Antichrist--The Eternal Duel--The Enchanted Yodler--The Third
Kingdom--The Haunted Harpsichord--The Tragic Wall--A Sentimental
Rebellion--Hall of the Missing Footsteps--The Cursory Light--An Iron
Fan--The Woman Who Loved Chopin--The Tune of Time--Nada--Pan.

"In 'The Spiral Road' and in some of the other stories both fantasy and
narrative may be compared with Hawthorne in his most unearthly moods.
The younger man has read his Nietzsche and has cast off his heritage of
simple morals. Hawthorne's Puritanism finds no echo in these modern
souls, all sceptical, wavering and unblessed. But Hawthorne's splendor
of vision and his power of sympathy with a tormented mind do live again
in the best of Mr. Huneker's stories."--_London Academy_ (Feb. 3, 1906).

       *       *       *       *       *

MELOMANIACS

12mo. $1.50 net

"It would be difficult to sum up 'Melomaniacs' in a phrase. Never did a
book, in my opinion at any rate, exhibit greater contrasts, not,
perhaps, of strength and weakness, but of clearness and
obscurity."--HAROLD E. GORST, in _London Saturday Review_.

       *       *       *       *       *

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS, NEW YORK





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Visionaries" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home